Vegetarian Soba Noodle Salad

Vegetarian Soba Noodle Salad

Guys… I moved to Việt Nam.

Okay, not really. But I swear, San Diego these past few weeks have been as hot and humid as South East Asia in the dead of Summer!

I’m MELTING!!!

And turning on the oven or kitchen burners has been the last thing I’ve wanted to do. But a girl has got to eat and the lighter and easier the dish–the better!

Vegetarian Soba Noodle Salad

Quick and light bites like this Vegetarian Soba Noodle Salad is the perfect remedy to combat the heat. Soba (buckwheat) noodles tossed with fresh veggies in a bright and acidic ponzu sauce is easy to make and doesn’t leave you feeling like gazillion pounds.

I opted for a vegetarian take but if you miss the meat, throw in such grilled chicken or shrimp and you’ll be a happy camper.

Now excuse me as I pass out in front of the air conditioner.

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Vegetarian Soba Noodle Salad
Serves 2

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons prepared ponzu sauce
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons canola oil (or other light flavored oil)
2 tablespoons honey
½ tablespoon sambal paste
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh garlic
kosher salt
black pepper

6 ounces dried soba noodles
1 heaping cup sweet peppers, thinly sliced
1 cup blanched edamame beans
1 cup blanched asparagus tips
1 cup sweet grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup thinly sliced Japanese cucumbers (or other small cucumbers of your preference)
¼ cup sliced scallions
1/8 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking all the ingredients in a small bowl. Season with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook soba noodles for 3-4 minutes or accordingly to package instructions. Drain the soba in a colander and rinse well with cool water. Shake off excess water and transfer to a bowl. Add all the vegetables to the noodles, except the scallions. Add several spoons of the vinaigrette over the noodles and vegetables and toss well. Add additional vinaigrette as needed for everything to be lightly coated.  Divide the contents between two serving dishes. Top each plate with scallions, sesame seeds and enjoy!

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

Dear Summer,

Please don’t ever leave.

I love how you bring the bright, radiant sun out to warm us.

I love how you encourage me to wear flip flops every day (even to work).

And I love how you bring out the incredible sweetness and intense flavor to stone fruits. It makes me want to eat them all the time! Nectarines, peaches, plums, pluots….oh, the endless possibilities!

Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad

And Summer, you also inspire me to eat light and fresh dishes. So I decided to take your hint and threw some delectable stone fruits into some greens. A salad filled with all types of mixed greens to give that peppery verdant flavor, a needed savory element with the thin prosciutto slices, a salty & nutty profile from the parmesan cheese and much needed texture from the chopped pistachio nuts.

I don’t even bother with a vinaigrette. Instead, I opt for a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice for acidity and a drizzle of EVOO for that needed richness.

Divine.

So Autumn, please push the snooze button a few more times to allow my Summer to stay a bit longer.

xoxo.

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Stone Fruit & Prosciutto Salad
Serves 1

Ingredients:

2 cups mixed greens (arugula, romaine, baby spinach, etc)
¼ cup sliced peaches
¼ cup sliced nectarines
¼ cup sliced plums or pluots
1 tablespoon roughly chopped pistachio nuts
1 ounces parmesan cheese shavings
juice of 1 lemon wedge
1 tablespoon quality extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
2 pinches coarse black pepper

Plate the first six items on a serving dish. Squeeze the lemon juice over the plate, followed by the drizzling of olive oil. Season with the kosher salt and black pepper. Enjoy!

Cobb Salad – Taste the Rainbow

Cobb Salad

I made a Rainbow.

Well….a huge salad that looked like a Rainbow.

Cobb Salad

And the thing is….I wasn’t intending to write about it but after I assembled everything, I said to myself:

“Damn. That is a good-looking bowl o’ goodness.”

Cobb Salad

So here it is.

My Cobb Salad.

Nothing crazy, nothing shocking but darn delicious. And like all great Foodies and Nutritionists will tell ya –each meal should cover the Rainbow.

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Cobb Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

Vinaigrette
1 tablespoon finely minced shallots
1 garlic clove, finely minced
2 tablespoons finely minced parsley
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Salad
5 cups roughly chopped Romaine lettuce
1 cup arugula leaves
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
1 small avocado, diced
1/2 cup diced bell peppers (I like to use orange and yellow peppers)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 cup diced grilled chicken
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
3 crispy bacon strips, roughly chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced

In a bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients of the vinaigrette. Taste and add more kosher salt and black pepper as needed. (I also like to add the ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up–it’s a wonderful alternative to emulsify the vinaigrette but it serves as the perfect storage vessel for the remaining dressing.)

In a large bowl, add the Romaine lettuce and arugula. Add enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Toss to evenly cover and plate between two bowls.

Divide the remaining ingredients between the two bowls. Serve additional vinaigrette alongside each bowl. Enjoy!

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

A few years ago, he and I had a terrible fight….

Trader Joe and I–that is.

What can I say?

He broke my heart — the day he stopped carrying their Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus. Herby, a bit spicy, rich and creamy. I L-O-V-E-D it and would slather it over just about everything.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Then one day when I came in to grab a tub, it was gone. Sure, T.J. offered a three layered hummus that claimed it had my beloved Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus inside. But once you opened the container, it barely had a dollop of the green goodness in it.

What’s a girl to do?

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

It was then time to take matters into my own hands and make my own version so that I could have my fill of whenever I wanted.

I threw a little bit of this and A LOT of that into the food processor and within a couple of minutes, I had something amazing that I dare say, love even more than the original.

True story.

Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Just like the original, it’s delicious over breads, to dip all kinds of goodies in, and to use as a sauce.

So T.J., I forgive you for cutting off my hummus supply and still love you for everything else you fill my kitchen with. And let’s face it, who cannot adore that you have your staff wearing Aloha gear? :)

Side note: T.J. is now carrying a version of Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus but trust me when I say this–it’s not the same. I don’t know how they altered the recipe but it’s missing some of the old KA-POW the old hummus did.

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Cilantro & Jalapeño Hummus

Ingredients:

1- 2 bunches fresh cilantro, approximately 4-5 loosely packed cups (more to garnish)
1-2 jalapeño peppers, roughly chopped (depending on your heat preference)
4 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (more to garnish)
1/3 cup tahini
4 garlic cloves
1 can garbanzo beans (15 ounces), drained with juices reserved
2-4 tablespoons juices from the garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika (more to garnish)

Add the cilantro, jalapeñopeppers, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the items have broken down.

 

Add in the garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, 2 tablespoons of the reserved garbanzo beans juices, kosher salt, black pepper, and paprika. Blend until the hummus is smooth but still thick. If needed, add in the remaining garbanzo bean juices until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and add additional kosher salt if needed.

 

Plate the hummus and garnish with a drizzle of additional olive oil, sprinkle of paprika, and chopped cilantro. Serve as a spread or as a dip.

Portabello Mushroom Tacos

Portabello Mushroom Tacos

Ok…so let’s recap.

For our Cinco de Mayo fiesta planning, we’ve covered dips, pickled onions, and margaritas. And now it’s time for tacos.

Tacos, oh tacos…..how glorious you are. Savory goodness topped with fresh veggies and citrus–all wrapped up in a tortilla. Frankly, I haven’t met a taco I didn’t like.

So handy….so delicious….so perfect.

With so many variations, you really can’t go wrong. And might I suggest a few options?

Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cabbage Slaw

Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cabbage Slaw

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas

Fat Tire® Braised Carnitas Tacos & Chavelas

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Avocado Crema

Grilled Shrimp Tacos

And in case you’re looking for a vegetarian option, these Portabello Mushroom Tacos are the perfect thing for you. They’re hearty, flavorful and best of all–super quick to whip up. So instead of slaving in the kitchen during your Cinco de Mayo celebrations, you can make better use of your time such as sipping on margaritas with your loved ones.

But don’t fret folks, I’ve got one last fab dish for you that I’ll be sharing on Monday. Equally as delicious and fast to make….you’ll love it.

Happy Friday Folks!!!

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Portabello Mushroom Tacos
Makes 8-10 tacos

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped white onions
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1½ pounds portabello mushrooms, roughly chopped
¾ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions, chopped
1½ cups chopped cilantro leaves, more to garnish
8-10 small tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese (pepper jack, Monterey, cheddar- whatever you fancy)
pickled red onions
oven-roasted tomato salsa
lime wedges

In a large cast iron pan or large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes until they become translucent but not browned. Add in the minced jalapeno and garlic and sauté for an additional minute.

Add the chopped mushrooms to the pan and sauté over the medium heat until they are softened and begin to brown. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, paprika, turmeric, red pepper flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, garlic salt, kosher salt, black pepper and scallions. Cook for 1 minute and take the pan off the heat. Fold in the cilantro leaves. Taste and adjust with additional kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

Warm the tortillas (in a skillet, over a open flame, or even in the microwave). Begin assembling the tacos by placing a layer of the cheese on a tortilla and top with a few spoonfuls of the mushroom mixture. Top each taco with some picked red onions and cilantro. Serve with salsa and lime wedges.

*The dried spices in this recipe essentially make up the taco seasoning blend I keep on hand at home. However, if you want to make the dish even easier, substitute the dried spices for your preferred taco seasoning blend.

Spring Risotto – Spring has Sprung!

Spring Risotto

Spring has sprung–and boy do I have a plateful of deliciousness that screams of spring flavors.

Creamy, cheesy risotto with leeks, peas and asparagus. The whole plate is then showered with parmesan and bright lemon zest.

Mega drools….

Spring Risotto

You could really throw whatever fresh veggies that your local market or farmers’ stands may have available. Zucchinis, mushrooms, chard and spinach would be rad options. As for cooking liquids, I opted to use some white wine and chicken stock in the risotto but if you want to go with a purely vegetarian route, a well flavored vegetable stock would also work well.

Spring Risotto

Have a delectable weekend, Folks!

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Spring Risotto
Serves approximately 4

Ingredients:
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup chopped leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup Arborio rice
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, more to garnish
1 cup peas
1 cup blanched asparagus tips
kosher salt
black pepper
fresh lemon zest

Heat the chicken stock in a medum saucepan and keep warm over low heat.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme leaves, rice and stir quickly until the rice is well coated and opaque—about 1 minute.  Stir in the wine and cook until the liquid is nearly all evaporated.

Ladle in 1 cup of the chicken broth into the rice. Simmer and slowly stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time. Continue to simmer and stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. The risotto should be slightly firm and creamy–approximately 25 minutes in total.

Stir in Parmesan cheese until the cheese has melted. Gently fold in the peas and asparagus tips. Check for seasonings and adjust with the kosher salt and pepper.

Spoon the risotto into dishes. Grate additional parmesan cheese on top and sprinkle fresh lemon zest over each dish. Serve immediately.

 

15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta

15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta

I am ALL about fast meals during the week days. Delicious goodness that can be whipped up in a flash using minimal ingredients and the least amount of dishes.

Because if I haven’t told you before, I absolutely loathe washing dishes. I would pretty much rather wash anything else…….laundry, my car, Bella (my pup)–heck, washing an elephant would be infinitely more enjoyable than doing dishes.

Back to food……….

Pastas are one of my go-to quick fixes where I can throw anything together for a fulfilling meal. This 15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta is so easy to make and can really be modified to whatever you have in the fridge. The end results is a great dish that is rather light and would be perfect for a warm summer night with a glass of pinot grigio in hand. And coming from a carnivorous gal, you won’t even miss the meat while you get down on a big ol’ bowl of this deliciousness.

Have an awesome Friday folks and enjoy your Easter Weekend!

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15-Minute Vegetarian Pasta
Serves 2

Ingredients:           

kosher salt
4 ounces dry linguine or spaghetti pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup chopped shallots
½ tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup white wine
1½ cups grape tomatoes
3 heaping tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
black pepper
2 handfuls (about 2 cups) fresh arugula leaves

Boil the pasta for approximately 8-10 minutes in salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve ¼ cup of the starchy water that the pasta was cooked in.

While the pasta cooks, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the shallots and sauté for 1-2 minutes until they start to become translucent. Add the garlic, chili flakes and cook for an additional minute. Pour in the wine and bring it to a boil. Add the tomatoes to the skillet. Stir and cook for about 2 minutes until they begin to burst.

Pour the starchy pasta water into the skillet. Once the liquids start to boil, toss in the pasta and sprinkle in the parmesan. Vigorously toss the cooked pasta to evenly coat it with the sauce. Check for seasonings and adjust with kosher salt and pepper accordingly. Toss in the arugula leaves and plate the pasta to a dish.

Serve immediately.