Arugula Pesto Dinner

Sliced tomatoes, arugula pesto, feta cheese and flax bread for dinner!

Sliced tomatoes, arugula pesto, feta cheese and flax bread for dinner!

With so much fresh produce exploding out of gardens everywhere it’s easy to create interesting, healthy, veggie based meals.  My dad recently harvested a whole bunch of arugula.  He used it as the base for ‘Salad Lyonnaise‘, in place of the traditional frisee, yum!  And I decided to turn the bunch he gave me into a spicy pesto.  Eaten with sliced garden tomatoes, crumbled feta cheese and flax bread, this is a filling meal perfect for al fresco dinning.  I saved all my left over ingredients in glass containers, so it was easy to replicate the next night.

Arugula is full of vitamin A, K, folate, can help guard against cancer and is good for your brain too!  You can use the following ingredients as a guide and enjoy this pesto on flax crackers, flax pizza, as a spread on sandwiches, a dip for crudities, grilled fish…pretty much everything!

Ingredients:

  • arugula
  • garlic cloves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice, optional: zest the lemon first, then add juice to taste
  • salt
  • grated romano or similar hard cheese
  • walnuts

Method:

Pesto is the perfect food for just using what you’ve got and don’t worry about measuring anything.  It’s hard to go wrong, but if you need some numbers to help you out, I go with about 50% greens and 50% nuts, cheese and olive oil with small amounts of lemon, garlic and salt. I use my food processor but I bet you could use a blender as well.

Start with the nuts and the garlic cloves, use as many as you like, and pulse together until you’ve got fine bits.

Then add the arugula, enough olive oil to cover it well, and pulse again to combine.  You can also add parsley or basil, or both, as a compliment to the spicy, bitter arugula.

Add some grated cheese and lemon juice.  Blend well and taste.

Add salt to taste, more cheese or nuts, basically, at this point I start tasting and adding a little more or a lot more of whatever ingredient seems to be lacking.  And I want the consistency to be thick and smooth, so olive oil is key!  You can add lots of oil and lemon juice to make this pesto into more of a thin dressing for a fresh garden salad.  Or keep it thick and use it as a dip or spread.

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Pesto Pizza

The barbed wire on the top really adds to the over all effect: Welcome to Greenpoint, kinda.

I took this photo on my last trip to NYC.  There is a block long wall topped with barbed wire that greets you as you leave the ferry dock and enter Greenpoint, Brooklyn.  This mural was my favorite piece of art along the wall.  My trips to NY are always filled with new experiences and plenty of new ideas for recipes based on the things I eat, the menus I read and the street food that seems to be on every corner.  This past trip I came back craving pizza and so, here’s my version, made with a thin, crispy flax crust and topped with fresh garden pesto, Kalamata olives, goat chevre and grated Romano.

For the Pizza Crust

Make up a batch of flax dough, from my previous recipe for flax crackers and flax bread.

Roll the flax dough out in an even, thin sheet, between two well greased pieces of parchment paper, the third method in the flax cracker post.  Make whatever shape you like, I tried to go with a round-ish shape.

Par-bake the crust, after piercing it all over with a fork, at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.  The dough should be set up but not too crispy.

For the Toppings

For my pizza I chose a base of freshly made pesto, here are a few suggestions!

And added halved Kalamata olives, fresh, soft goat cheese and shaved Romano cheese.

Have fun and get creative, use whatever toppings and cheese you have on hand.

Bake the finished pizza in the oven at 350 for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, until the edges are crispy and the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Slice and serve with a big green salad.

Pesto pizza and garden salad, dinner is served!

Camp Food and Travel Pictures: Cape Hatteras N.C.

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, only 4 more hours to go!

Last week Dana drove us over 600 miles from the Berkshires to Frisco, NC on Cape Hatteras and back again, whew!   Our little ’84 Jetta was packed with camping equipment and of course, lots of food!  The state forest camp grounds were beautiful and totally worth the long drive to get there.  We camped for the first part of our trip and then moved a few miles down the road to a house on the beach that we shared with friends, what an awesome vacation!

The view of the Atlantic from our camp site in Frisco, NC

First I want to share my favorite way to enjoy avocados, with some tamari, wasabi and a spoon….

Chipolte, salt and lime on the left and my tamari and wasabi half on the right.

All you need is a spoon, and maybe someone to share the other half with : – )

Dana’s camp stove, which he took bike touring with him over a decade ago, decided it was time to retire when we tried to use it our first morning.  So we had to rely on the charcoal grill at our site.  Good thing we brought our cast iron pan!

Chopped cabbage, sauerkraut, bacon and eggs; everything you need for a hearty seaside breakfast.

I cooked the bacon first, then sauteed the cabbage, pushed everything to the side and fried the eggs in the rest of the bacon fat. Flax crackers and sun tea on the side. Eating directly out of the skillet means no dishes to do, we are on vacation after all!

One night for dinner we grilled asparagus and then cooked sausages and kale with mushrooms and onions in the skillet. Dinner is served.

Best beach house dinner: fresh fried mahi mahi fish tacos (‘slaw and corn tortillas not pictured) and sashimi tuna with bacon tacos. Gotta give Bill credit for the bacon and sashimi combo and the picture too!  I used romaine lettuce leaves to make my tacos, wicked good guys, you gotta try it!

Sunny Seed Hummus

Paprika dusted sunny seed humus on flax toast and my short hand recipe.

My newest health coaching client is already teaching me things about cooking, like the idea that humus can be made from sunflower seeds!  I whipped this up in about 5 minutes this afternoon and it’s really tasty.  Sunflower seed hummus goes great with flax crackers or toasted flax bread.  It also makes a great dip for fresh veggies or as a sandwich spread.  There are many possibilities as far as adding  in fresh herbs and spices, see what you can come up with!

Sunflower seeds are  inexpensive and highly nutritious. These tiny seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E has significant anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis, conditions where free radicals and inflammation play a big role. The phytosterols in sunflower seeds are believed to reduce blood levels of cholesterol, enhance the immune response and decrease risk of certain cancers. Sunflower seeds are also a good source of magnesium. Numerous studies have demonstrated that magnesium helps reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, and prevent migraine headaches, as well as reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke.  All from one little seed!  And there’s more, read the rest of this article here.

Ingredients :

1 cup sunflower seeds (shelled, unsalted)

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice (use fresh lemons best results)

1-2 cloves garlic

herbs and spices to taste, try coriander, dill, cumin, cilantro, paprika, chili powder….

salt and pepper to taste

about 1/2 cup water (depending on your preference, water can be added to thin out the humus, and make it creamier).

Procedure:

Put all ingredients into a food processor.

Blend until mixture looks like a smooth dip.  I added the water a little at a time until I liked the consistency.  You shouldn’t be able to see any sunflower seeds in their original form once it’s done.

One Hour in the Kitchen: Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Eggplant Spread and Flax Bread

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, much busier than I like quite frankly and I was happy to have an hour free this morning to do some cooking.  It’s amazing how much one lady can do in one hour in the kitchen.  I was most interested in roasting some of the brussels sprouts from our garden.  Usually I make them in the skillet with bacon, but in times of baby cabbages and no bacon, there must be a delightful alternative.

From garden to bag to bowl, not a lot of prep work to do for home-grown brussels sprouts.

Last week I got some roasted sprouts from The Old Creamery in Cummington which is now carrying our Fire Cider!  The sprouts were the perfect snack and here’s my version of …

Roasted Brussels Sprouts:

Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise

Vinegar: I used balsamic on one half and made another batch with half tamari and half apple cider vinegar, both tasted great: a little tangy, a little sweet and a bit salty.  If you are on a strict Candida diet use just the apple cider vinegar.

Olive oil to coat the sprouts

Salt

Procedure:

Set your oven to 375 and prep the sprouts.  Get out a baking sheet and toss the sprouts on the pan with enough olive oil to coat them.  Sprinkle with your choice of vinegar, and toss them again with a little salt.  Arrange them cut side down and put the tray in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes.  The oven doesn’t have to be totally up to temperature when you put the sprouts in.

Balsamic roasted sprouts hot from the oven.

Roast until browned well on both sides.  If the sprouts start to get soft or are cooking too quickly without browning you can finish crisping them up under the broiler for a minute or two.  You want them to be crispy on the outside with a bit of crunch left inside as well!

Since I had the oven on and the sprouts were cooking, I sliced the two small eggplants Hari and Ingrid brought us from their garden.  Again, this is a simple roasting recipe and works for any quantity.

Slice the eggplants in half, coat the cut side with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and place them on baking sheets to roast.  I put mine in cut side down, then flipped them after about 12 minutes to cook cut side up for another 12-15 minutes.  I can’t actually recall how long they were in the oven for.   The cooking time will vary depending on how big your eggplants are.  So, my advice, however glib it may sound, is to cook them til they are done!  As in, nicely browned and totally soft all the way through.

Roasted eggplant makes a great spread for flax bread.

The eggplants were in the oven, the sprouts were out and I whipped together some flax bread dough.  I have updated my recipe to reflect my new way of making flax bread:  I grease a large sheet pan with butter and then use my hands to spread it evenly from edge to edge.  The result is 15 even pieces of flax bread which I use to make sandwiches or to eat things like….

Roasted Eggplant Spread:

Roasted eggplant, scooped out of the skin.

Olive oil

Mashed garlic

Paprika and Salt to taste

Procedure:

Scrape the eggplant flesh into a bowl or, if you have a lot, it would be worth it to get your Cuisinart out.

Add a splash of olive oil, a clove or two of mashed garlic, some salt and paprika.  I love smoked, hot paprika for this dish.

Mix, mash or whip everything together in your Cuisinart.

Enjoy with flax bread and keep the left overs in the fridge!

My new way to make flax bread using a large sheet pan.

Well, that’s it for my hour in the kitchen.  I have a big bowl full of roasted Brussels sprouts which are delicious cold or hot and plenty of flax bread and eggplant spread for sandwiches this week.  Time well spent, and now, back to work!

Hard-Cooked Egg and Basil-Butter Sandwich

Here is another yummy serving suggestion for my flax bread recipe which I have just updated.  I have been making flax bread about twice a month and have worked some of the kinks out of the process.  Happy sandwiching!  This recipe takes about 20 minutes and makes 4 sandwiches.  I think they would store, well wrapped, over night, but I haven’t tried it so let me know!

Ingredients:

4 large eggs

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 teaspoon lemon juice

Fine sea salt, to taste

1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (or chives or parsley or pesto!)

1 small garlic clove, minced/pressed

8 slices flax bread

Pepper, to taste

Lettuce leaves, for serving.

If you are feeling like making more of a meal out of this sandwich, now is the time for a couple of slices of thick cut bacon and a ripe tomato from the garden!

1. Place the eggs in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. Have a bowl of ice water ready. After 9 minutes, transfer the eggs to the ice water to cool completely. Peel and slice.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the butter, lemon juice and a pinch salt. Stir in the basil and the garlic.

3. Spread the bread thickly with seasoned butter and/or pesto, all the way to the edges. Lay the egg slices on four of the bread slices and season with salt and pepper. Top with lettuce leaves and the remaining bread.

Variations:  Top the eggs with several anchovy fillets.  Substitute arugula or radicchio for lettuce.  Add bacon and tomato slices….!

Original recipe can be found HERE

Sprouts and Sandwiches

Flax bread with avocado, home-grown sprouts and hot sauce, of course.

This post is a serving suggestion for my flax bread recipe.  We just made our fist batch of sprouts and I was super excited to try them on a sandwich, which is something I have not eaten in years!

Two pieces of flax bread + slices of ripe avocado + lots of sprouts + mayo + hot sauce = one awesome sandwich!

Another sandwich idea?  Ok!  How about…

Grated carrot + soft goat cheese + sprouts + thin sliced onion?  Yup, that is also delicious.

Carrots add a little sweetness and crunch to balance out the tangy goat cheese.

You can take your favorite salad combination and pile it up on flax bread and, hey, look at you, eating a sandwich like regular folks.  Also, sprouts are super easy to make at home and they are packed with vital nutrients, here’s a great how to for growing your own!

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