Monday, August 26, 2013

Zucchini & Chickpea Soup with Jalapeño-Dill Drizzle

Zucchini & Chickpea Soup with Jalapeño-Dill Drizzle
(serves 2-4)

Making this soup is great way to utilize the typical abundance of zucchini yielded by the summer months. Sesame seeds lend a toasty flavor to the earthiness of the zucchini and chickpea soup, which is beautifully complimented by a bright, tangy drizzle of fresh dill and jalapeño pepper. If you prefer not to make this dish spicy, try using a poblano, banana, or cubanelle chili pepper in place of the jalapeño.


Zucchini & Chickpea Soup:

- 6 heaping cups peeled & cubed zucchini
- 1 15.5 oz can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 1 extra large onion (diced)
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 large cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 3 ½ cups chicken broth (plus more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon dry (ground) mustard
- 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
-Extra virgin olive oil for the pan

Jalapeño- Dill Drizzle:

- Small handful fresh dill
- ½ small Jalapeño pepper
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- Salt and pepper to taste

Begin by toasting the sesame seeds in a dry dutch oven over medium heat. When they are fragrant and golden-brown in color, add some olive oil to the pan.

Add the diced onion to the hot olive oil, along with the Worcestershire sauce; cook until translucent.

To the onion, add the garlic and cubed zucchini, stirring until coated with the oil and sesame seeds.

Add the chickpeas, chicken broth, dry mustard, spicy brown mustard, nutmeg, salt and pepper to the dutch oven, stir and cover.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the zucchini is very soft.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor (you may have to do this in batches if you have a smaller food processor). Process until smooth.

Pour the pureed soup back into the pan and repeat with the rest of the batches if necessary, until all of the soup has a smooth consistency.

The soup will be very thick at this point. Sprinkle with the smoked paprika and add more chicken broth until it reaches your desired consistency. Season the soup with more salt and pepper if necessary. Keep covered on low heat until ready to serve.

For the drizzle, combine the dill, jalapeño pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Process until it has a smooth consistency.

To serve: ladle the soup into bowls and use a spoon to create lines of the drizzle on top of each portion. Enjoy alone or with the protein and salad of your choice!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuscan-Herb Hummus Risotto

Tuscan-Herb Hummus Risotto
(serves 2-4)

Although the idea of putting hummus into a risotto may sound odd, the creamy texture of both elements actually creates a very natural combination. Once you’ve tasted the rich, silkiness of this risotto, you’ll find yourself utilizing hummus in this way again and again.


- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 bell pepper
- ½ cup grape tomatoes
- 1 large onion (finely diced)
- White wine (dry or sweet, your choice)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoons Sabra Tuscan Herb Garden Hummus (of the hummus of your choice) + more for garnish
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 links Italian sausage
- Olive oil for brushing

Preheat the grill- high heat. Slide the tomatoes onto a skewer. Brush olive oil over the tomatoes and the red bell pepper.

Reduce the grill heat to medium and cook the sausage until it is firm to the touch. Cook the tomatoes for a minute or two on the top rack of the grill, just until they begin to crack open. Grill the bell pepper until it has softened and its skin is charred and blistered.

(*Note- I love the smoky flavor that comes from grilling the vegetables and sausage, but alternatively, you can cook the sausage and tomatoes in a heavy skillet if you do not prefer to use the grill. Roast the pepper on a baking sheet in a 500 degree oven until softened and charred to your liking.)

Set the sausages aside and tent with foil to keep warm.
Begin heating the chicken broth in a medium saucepan until it begins to simmer. Lower heat and keep covered.

Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat and add the diced onion and fennel seed. Cook until the onion has softened and the fennel seeds are fragrant.

Add the Arborio rice to the pan, stir gently and allow to “toast” for 2-3 minutes. This step is very important, as it will open the grains of rice to properly absorb the broth. Add the oregano, basil and some ground black pepper to the pan (Do not salt until the end of the cooking process).

Pour some wine into the pan (2-3 times around the perimeter). Allow the wine to reduce by about half.

Turn the heat down to low and begin adding the chicken broth one ladle at a time. 

On occasion, gently push the rice around with a wooden spoon (do not stir vigorously). When the broth has been absorbed by the rice, add another ladle-full. Repeat this process until the rice is very tender, and you have used up most, if not all of the chicken broth.

When the rice has softened and is nearly cooked through, carefully cut open the bell pepper and pour its juices into the pan with the risotto. 

Dice up the pepper (removing the skins if you wish); reserve a few thin slices for garnishing purposes.

Add the diced pepper to the risotto and gently combine.

Continue cooking the rice, adding more broth until the grains are enlarged and it has a soft, “melt-in-your-mouth” texture.

Stir in the 3 tablespoons of hummus until well combined. Add salt to taste.

Gently fold in the tomatoes.

Slice the Italian sausages on a bias. Spoon some of the risotto onto the middle of a plate, arrange the sausage slices around it and garnish with a few slices of bell pepper and a small dollop of hummus. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal Bread

Blueberry Coconut Oatmeal Bread
(Approximately 12 slices)

This bread is a healthful combination of five superfoods: blueberries, coconut, oats, buckwheat and yogurt. It is not “sugary”; much of the sweetness comes from the naturally sweet nature of coconut and blueberries. Each 174 calorie serving contains 5 grams of protein, nearly 4 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of healthy fat. It also happens to be gluten free, as long as you use certified gluten free oats. This is a fantastic breakfast bread, but can certainly be enjoyed at any time of day.

-1 ½ scant cups light buckwheat flour
-  1 cup rolled oats
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Generous 1 ½ cup fresh blueberries*
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup regular coconut milk (can shaken or stirred)
- ¼ cup + 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
- Approx. 2 tablespoons sweetened coconut flakes
- 2eggs

*Or use frozen blueberries that have been thawed and drained

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (unless you plan to refrigerate the batter and bake later).

Using a whisk, evenly combine the buckwheat flour, rolled oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Carefully stir in the blueberries until they are coated with flour.

In a separate bowl, combine the greek yogurt, vanilla extract, coconut milk, agave nectar, coconut oil and eggs. Sprinkle with the cinnamon and nutmeg and lightly beat the mixture with a whisk for about 15-30 seconds.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to ensure that all of the flour and oats have been moistened. (*Note- refrigerating the batter for an hour or so will make your bread even more moist. However, you can still achieve a delicious bread without this step.)

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray or rub the inside with coconut oil.

Transfer the batter to the loaf pan, distributing it in an even layer. Sprinkle the top of the batter with the coconut flakes.

Bake on the center rack for 55-58 minutes. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes in the pan, then carefully remove from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy a hearty slice for breakfast, snack or a lightly sweet dessert!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fire-Roasted Corn Salad

Fire-Roasted Corn Salad
(serves 8-10)
This salad is the perfect addition to any summer barbecue, cook-out or picnic. Fire-roasting the corn, peppers, onions and tomatoes brings out their inherent sweetness. Lime juice and cilantro add fresh, bright flavor and warm, savory spices round out this Mexican-inspired dish made with seasonal ingredients.

 -6-7 ears sweet corn (husks removed)
- 1 cup whole grape tomatoes
- 3 large bell peppers quartered (your color choice)
- 1 large red onion (cut into large chunks)
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro (finely chopped)
- Juice of 1 lime
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil (or oil of your choice)
- ¼ teaspoon salt + more to taste
- Ground black pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Preheat the grill – high heat.

Place 3-4 ears of the corn into a large zip top bag. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons (half of ¼ cup) into the bag, add some salt and pepper. 

Close the bag and rub the corn around inside to coat with the oil, salt and pepper. Remove from the bag, transfer to a plate and repeat with the rest of the corn.

Add the quartered bell peppers to the bag along with the tomatoes. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into the bag, sprinkle with salt and pepper, close the top and gently massage the vegetables to coat with the oil. Transfer the vegetables to a plate.

Rub the large chunks of red onion in the leftover oil inside the bag, adding a little more oil if necessary.

Place the tomatoes on skewers, piercing them through the middle. Do the same with the chunks of red onion.

Reduce the grill heat to medium. The grilling process will take about 15 minutes total. Transfer all of the vegetables to the grill, placing the tomatoes on the top rack. 

Grill the tomatoes until they are slightly blistered and just starting to crack open. This will only take a few minutes. Return them to the plate.

Turn the corn when it has achieved good roasted color on one side; cook until each side has a nice golden-brown color. Remove from the grill, one by one as they are finished roasting.

Grill the peppers until the skin sides are blistered and charred to your liking. Flip the peppers so that the “insides” of the pieces are roasted as well, moving them around to hotter areas of the grill if necessary. Remove the peppers from the grill when they have softened and achieved your desired level of color.


Turn the onions occasionally as they cook, to ensure that each side is evenly roasted. Remove from the grill (carefully grab the skewer in the middle, using the tongs).

Allow the vegetables, particularly the corn, to cool enough to handle. Stand the corn up vertically and slice the kernels off of the cobs.

Transfer the kernels to a large mixing bowl.

Dice the peppers; don’t bother removing the skin, it contains much of the delicious roasted flavor of this dish. Add to the mixing bowl with the corn.

Dice the onions and add to the mixing bowl.

Add the tomatoes, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and finely chopped cilantro; squeeze the lime over the top.

Stir the vegetables to coat them evenly with the spices and lime juice. Add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Fennel & Sausage Béchamel Stuffed Tomatoes over Herbed Rice

Fennel & Sausage Béchamel Stuffed Tomatoes over 
Herbed Rice
(for two)

Fennel & Sausage Béchamel Stuffed Tomatoes:

- 4 medium beefsteak tomatoes
- ½ large fennel bulb
- 1 large shallot (about ¼ cup sliced)
- 2 sausages
- ¼ cup sliced fresh basil leaves
- 2 (heaping) tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 small garlic clove
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour (*see note for gluten-free variation)
- 1 cup 2% milk
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- Sprinkle of nutmeg
- Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Herbed Rice:

- Inside fruit of the tomatoes (about 1 ¼ - 1 1/3 cup)
- 1 cup rice (white rice or brown jasmine rice)
- 2 bay leaves
- Handful fresh parsley
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste

*Note: if you are gluten free (like I am), use 2 tablespoons of light buckwheat flour rather than all-purpose flour.

Cut the fennel bulb away from the fronds (the green tops), and set the fronds aside. You won’t be using them for this recipe.

Slice any brown spots off of the outside layer of the fennel bulb.

Chop off the bottom of the fennel bulb.

Stand the bulb up and cut it in half. You will only use one half of the bulb; set the other half aside.

Remove the hard core (starting at the bottom) of the bulb using a knife.

Slice the bulb half into small, evenly sized pieces.

Use a small sharp knife to cut around the top of each tomato, pushing the tip of the knife towards the middle stem to loosen the “cap” so that it can be removed. Set the “cap” aside for later use.

Scoop out the inside fruit of the tomato using a melon baller. Be careful not to press too hard to avoid piercing through the skin.

Pour the tomato fruit and juice into a large, glass measuring cup. Repeat with the remaining tomatoes.

Put the tomato fruit and juices into a small saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with two bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil.

Stir in the rice and the chopped parsley. Re-cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes; until the rice is tender. Before serving, remove the bay leaves.

To make the béchamel sauce: remove the sausages from their casings and put them into a skillet over medium heat. Break the sausages up into pieces as they cook.

When the sausage pieces are no longer pink, add the butter to the pan along with the fennel and sliced shallots. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the fennel and shallots have softened.

Sprinkle the mixture with the two tablespoons of flour and stir until the sausage, fennel and shallots are evenly coated.

Pour the milk into the pan, little by little (¼ cup or less at a time).

After all of the milk has incorporated, remove the pan from the heat and add the sliced basil, chopped tarragon, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes. Add salt and ground black pepper to taste; season generously, as the tomatoes themselves have no salt.

Preheat your broiler to Low. Fill each tomato “cup” with the béchamel sauce. You should have enough to fill each “cup” just up to the rim.

Place the filled tomatoes onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the top of each tomato.

Put the tomatoes into the oven; the rack should be a little bit higher than the middle of the oven. Broil for 3 minutes.

Move the rack up to the top rung and broil the tomatoes another 1 ½ minutes or until golden brown on top.

Raise the heat of the broiler to High, then place the tomato “caps” into the oven (top rack). Broil 1-2 minutes or until the skin is wrinkled but not burnt.

Place a “cap” on each tomato. The stuffed tomatoes are best served hot or warm.

To serve: make a bed of rice on each plate, place two tomatoes on top and enjoy with a leafy green salad.