It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here — it’s been a busy year and Summer. I received my Master’s in Nutrition in July and am excited to start my own personal chef and counseling business Natalie Cooks. I’ve decided to discontinue this blog and focus on my new one, which you can find at the link above.
Socca, also known as farinata, is chickpea flour flatbread that is popular in the Ligurian Sea coast. It’s super easy to put together, inexpensive, and it provides a protein-rich, gluten-free, and vegan base that lends itself well to a variety of toppings. Any pesto and vegetable combination can be used, so feel free to experiment!
The farmer’s market is booming with beautiful purple and green asparagus here in Portland, OR. I love simply shaving raw asparagus and pairing it with a tangy dressing, which helps to soften the asparagus into fettuccine-esque ribbons.
Leek pesto? You may be skeptical, but the leeks add a very mild onion flavor that is balanced by the sweet, creamy cashews and tangy lemon. The miso paste adds a cheesy, umami flavor that helps marry all of the ingredients together. Any pesto can be used, but I think this is a winning combination.
The perfect light spring breakfast, lunch, or dinner!
Shaved Asparagus and Kale Socca with Leek Pesto
For the leek pesto:
- 1 medium leek, tough ends removed, halved lengthwise and chopped
- 1 cup cashews, toasted
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan (optional)
- 3 tsp mellow white miso paste (I used chickpea miso)
- zest and juice from 2 lemons (about ¼ cup lemon juice)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the socca (recipe from Food52)
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tsp sea salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup water, room temperature
For the shaved asparagus and kale salad:
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 5 thick stalks of asparagus, shaved
- 1 cup loosely packed kale
- 1 tbsp fresh chopped mint
- fresh grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese (optional)
- For the leek pesto, in a food processor or high-speed blender, add the leek, cashews, garlic, Parmesan (if using), miso, and lemon juice. Blend until it reaches a uniform consistency, then add in the olive oil and blend until smooth. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more lemon juice, to taste.
- For the socca, preheat the oven to 450 and place your cast iron skillet in the oven. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, salt, and pepper. Add in 1 cup of room temperature water and 2 tbsp of olive oil and whisk to combine. Let sit for 15 minutes, or until it resembles a thinner pancake batter. Add water if too thick.
- Remove the pan from the oven, add 1 tbsp olive oil and swirl to coat. Pour in the batter and let bake for about 15 minutes, or until the center is firm and edges begin to turn golden. Set aside and let cool while you prepare the shaved asparagus and kale salad.
- For the shaved asparagus and kale, in a mason jar, combine the red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, Dijon, salt, and pepper. Shake vigorously to emulsify. Place the kale in a medium bowl and pour half of the dressing on top. Using your hands, massage the kale for about 1 minute to break it down. Add in the shaved asparagus, mint, and remaining dressing. Toss gently to combine.
- To assemble, spread about ½ cup (or more) on top of the socca in an even layer. Then top with the shaved asparagus, kale salad, and fresh grated Parmesan or Manchego cheese, if desired. Slice into wedges (like a pizza) and serve immediately!
I’ve been on a huge blood orange kick lately. Something about this time of year makes me crave citrus. It brings a little sunshine into the many gloomy, rainy days in Portland.
They provide a much needed fresh brightness to balance out all of the root vegetables and hearty greens we’ve been eating all winter. It’s like a glimmer of hope that Summer is coming! Eventually…
Added bonus, these guys pack way more vitamin C and other anti-oxidants than their citrus cousins. Feel a cold coming on? Get yourself one of these beauties.
The creamy delicata squash and bright, tangy, sweet blood orange are a match made in heaven. Seriously, try just eating them together alone…so good. The caramelized onions add a umami-rich, nutty sweetness that takes this salad over the top.
Roasted Delicata and Blood Orange Quinoa Salad with Caramelized Onions
- 2 large onions, cut into long thin slices
- ¼ cup avocado oil
- pinch of salt
- 1 medium delicata squash, cut into ½ inch wedges
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- ¼ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
- ½ cup quinoa, cooked
- 2 blood oranges, peeled and sliced into wedges
- 1 medium avocado, sliced into 1 inch cubes
- 2 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large skillet (cast-iron works well) over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add in the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté until onions soften, then turn the heat down so the onions are simmering gently in the oil. Let it simmer on low for about 30-45 mins, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Onions are done when softened, golden brown, and slightly sweet. Remove from heat and set aside. Once cooled, put the onions in a fine strainer over a bowl to collect all of that yummy onion oil.
- Preheat the oven to 425F. In a bowl, combine the squash, oil, and salt and toss to coat. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes, flipping about half way through. Remove from oven and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, delicata squash, blood orange, avocado, spinach, almonds, and ¼ cup of the caramelized onions. In a small bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp olive oil (option to sub the remaining onion oil here), red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss to combine. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Serve and enjoy!
‘Tis the season for root vegetables and here in Portland, there certainly is no shortage. I’ve been experimenting a lot with root vegetables that are foreign to me and it’s been really fun. I found this genius recipe on Food52 and knew I had to try it.
I found parsley root at the farmer’s market, which I have never seen or heard of before. It looks just like a parsnip, but the flavor is not as sweet. It has a unique flavor with notes of celery, parsley, and carrot.
The ribbons softened when sautéed and began to resemble fettuccine. Fresh sage, a squeeze of lemon juice, and drizzle of maple syrup brighten up the entire dish perfectly. This is a simple, comforting dish that can be made with whatever root veggies you have on hand or spot at the market or grocery store. A must try!
Jerry Traunfeld’s Root Ribbons with Sage
- 2 lbs root vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, burdock, rutabagas, yams (avoid beets)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
(can sub olive oil)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped sage
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Wash and peel the roots and discard the peelings. Continue to peel the vegetables from their tops to the root tips to produce ribbons, rotating the roots on their axis a quarter turn after each strip is peeled, until you're left with cores that are too small to work with. (You can snack on these or save them for stock.) Alternately, you may use a mandoline.
- Melt the butter with the sage in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir for a minute to partially cook the sage. Add the root ribbons and toss them with tongs until they begin to wilt. Add the salt, a good grinding of black pepper, the maple syrup, lemon juice, and about 3/4 cup of water.
- Continue to cook the vegetables over medium heat, turning them with tongs every minute or so, until all the liquid boils away and the ribbons are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes total. Serve right away, or cool and reheat in the skillet when ready to serve.
Recipe from Food52
I’ve developed a deep love for delicata squash. It’s easy to slice and there’s no need to remove that beautiful skin. The flavor is cross between a butternut squash and sweet potato, with a smooth creamy flesh. This simple hazelnut crust adds a beautiful texture and nutty, garlic-y flavor. The addition of miso to the squash adds a salty, cheezy, nutty undertone. While I highly recommend it, feel free to use any spices and mixtures for roasting — the hazelnut crust is very versatile!
Beautiful whole hazelnuts at the market. How could I not?
Hazelnut Crusted Miso Delicata Squash
- 1 delicata squash, halved and cut into ½ inch thick wedges
- 2 tbsp miso paste*
- 2 tbsp hot water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
- ¼ cup hazelnuts, ground (1/3 cup ground)*
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- pinch of salt
- pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Combine miso paste and hot water in a medium bowl and whisk to dissolve the miso paste, until smooth. Add in the olive oil and vinegar and whisk to combine. Add the squash to the bowl and toss to coat. Pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
- In a food processor, add the ground hazelnuts, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes (if using) and pulse to combine. Sprinkle the nut mixture onto the squash, doing your best to evenly coat them. Once each wedge is covered, gently press the mixture down with your fingers so that it sticks. Carefully flip the squash over and repeat on the other side. A bit tedious, but so worth it!
- Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully flip each wedge. The crust on the face-down side should be nicely browned. Return to the oven for an addition 10-15 minutes. Squash is done when easily pierced with a fork and crust is browned. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with some fresh chopped parsley, if you please! This is great as a side or on top of a salad. Enjoy!
*Feel free to use another type of nut, like almonds or pecans
*The nut crust would be good on the sliced squash with or without the miso paste, however I do recommend it!
Fall is my favorite foodie season. Bring on the roasting, warm spices, and yummy soups! The farmer’s markets are booming with crazy looking squash. When I see a squash that I’ve never used before, I ask the farmer about the flavor and texture because you can’t really tell whats inside those guys. I came across this beautiful squash and, with a name like ‘Black Futsu‘, I had to get it. The farmer said it has a rich, smooth flesh and is slightly sweet, but not as sweet as butternut squash AND you can eat the skin (added bonus). This is the first fall dish I’ve made, but it certainly will not be the last!
Let’s talk about winter squash as a group. They are an excellent source of carotenes, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Both of these vitamins are important for eye and skin health, and immune function. Vitamin C is a major immune booster (among many other things) that can help you fight off or prevent a cold. Just one cup of squash gives you 59% of your vitamin A and 23% of your daily vitamin C intake. ‘Tis the season where everyone is sounding more sniffly and getting sick, so pack in those vitamins!They are also the primary food source for beta-carotene which is a powerful anti-cancer compound. AND, don’t let that creamy flesh deceive you, they are actually very high in dietary fiber — added bonus!
Black Futsu squash, you are so beautifully weird.
Now, let’s talk about this recipe. Some people find sage to be a bit too strong but I absolutely love it. It pairs beautifully with dense and slightly sweet winter squash. The apple cider cranberries add a sweet punch of fall flavor and color.
The hazelnut sage pesto is nutty, earthy and full of sage goodness.
Then there’s the fried sage…Who doesn’t like fried sage? So simple and it really adds another depth of flavor.
Roasted Squash with Hazelnut Sage Pesto and Cranberries
Bursting with the flavors of fall, this makes the perfect side dish or main event! Pairs wonderfully with roasted chicken thighs 🙂
- For the pesto, in a food processor, pulse the garlic and herbs until coarsely chopped. Add in the hazelnuts and pulse again until the nuts are coarsely chopped. Add in the lemon juice, miso paste, red pepper flakes, and olive oil and pulse until incorporated. I like mine to still be a little chunky, but you could puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the squash on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat.
- Roast in the oven for about 30 minutes or until the squash is cooked through.
- While the squash roasts, heat 3 tbsp of butter or oil in a small pan over medium heat. Once melted and sizzles when you drop a leaf in, add in the sage leaves and fry for about 10 seconds, or until crispy. Transfer to a papertowel to cool.
- For the cranberries, heat the apple cider and cranberries to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries are rehydrated.
- Once the squash is done, transfer it to a bowl and generously toss with the hazelnut sage pesto. Top with chopped hazelnuts, apple cider cranberries and fried sage. Yum!
If you don't have apple cider, simply rehydrate the cranberries in some water with a little cinnamon.
Other winter squash varieties, like butternut, acorn, and delicata will also work here.
I’m a sucker for no-bake treats. Baking can be scary and can quickly go south if one ingredient is off. It’s science. Science can be hard. Snacks and treats that don’t require baking are much more forgiving.
These no-bake chocolate almond coconut cups are so easy. All you have to do combine the ingredients for each layer, assemble it, and throw it in the freezer for a few minutes.
From the bottom: sweet, smooth coconut followed by a nutty and crunchy almond chocolate layer and topped with rich, semisweet chocolate. A wonderful blend of flavors and textures.
The perfect bite.
Chocolate Almond Coconut Cups
For the coconut layer:
- 1/4 cup coconut butter
- 1 tbsp honey (or sub maple syrup)
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
For the almond layer:
- 1/4 cup raw almonds
- 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
- 4 dates
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
For the chocolate layer:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp almond butter
- Line a muffin tin with 6 muffin cup liners.
- Combine the coconut butter, honey, and vanilla extract in a small bowl. If the coconut butter is too solid, pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
- In a food processor, combine the almonds, cocoa powder, coconut, dates, vanilla extract, and salt. Process unit it comes together when pressed between your fingers.
- In another small bowl, mix together the coconut oil, cocoa powder, honey, and almond butter.
- Spoon the coconut layer in the muffin tins, dividing it evenly. Repeat for the almond layer and then the chocolate layer. Sprinkle coconut flakes or crushed almonds on top, if you please.
Coconut butter can be bought at most health food stores. Alternatively, you can buy shredded unsweetened coconut and make it yourself in a food processor. Simply process until the flakes turn into a smooth, uniform consistency.
Taste each layer separately and adjust to taste by adding more sweetener, for example, if desired.
Eggplants are all over the farmers markets right now and I couldn’t be happier. One of my favorite things to do with eggplant is make babaganoush. I tried thinking outside of the box and decided to try and turn it into a sauce for grains instead of a dip. It has all of the components of babaganoush — eggplant, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil… The tahini makes it a thicker, slightly creamy sauce.
Farro is a newly discovered and new favorite grain of mine. The texture is slightly chewy, unlike rice which is much softer. It adds a nice bite and texture to a dish.
Smoked paprika is one of my favorite spices. It has very strong, smokey flavor that pairs beautifully with eggplant. I usually add some into my hummus or babaganoush because I just love the deep, smokey flavor.
Smokey Eggplant Farro and Arugula Salad
- 1 cup farro
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups water
- 1 medium eggplant, cubed
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1 cup arugula, loosely packed (or more)
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
- Place eggplant cubes in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, place farro, water and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 35-45 minutes or until tender but still slightly chewy. Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
- While the farro is cooking, pat the eggplant cubes with a paper towel and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes, then toss and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until slightly charred and golden.
- In a cast iron skillet or other pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, cayenne and smoked paprika. Turn heat to low (this will depend on what pan you use) and saute for about 8 minutes or until softened and slightly caramelized. Add in the roasted eggplant, and tomato paste. Saute for about 2 minutes. Add in the tahini, lemon juice and vegetable broth. Stir around for 30s to incorporate and then remove from heat.
- Pour the eggplant sauce over the farro and mix. Add in arugula and parsley and toss to combine. Best enjoyed while still warm.
So I planted Sungold’s this year and, thanks to the abundance of sun and heat we’ve had this Summer, those babies grew up real fast. As I picked almost a pound of tomatoes off of the plant, I knew I wanted to throw them into a fresh simple salad. I also have this awesome local sheep’s milk feta that I’m really excited about. Sheep’s milk is much more digestible than cows milk which is great news for people like me!
Chickpeas, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and feta tossed in a creamy tahini lemon dressing…so light, fresh and simple. This salad is very adaptable. Feel free to add in some walnuts, olives, avocado or anything else you fancy. Don’t get too crazy though, the simplicity is what makes it so fantastic.
Chickpea, Tomato, and Cucumber Salad with Tahini Lemon Sauce
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp white miso paste
- 1 tsp maple syrup
For the salad:
- 1 cucumber
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
- fresh ground pepper
- Combine all of the ingredients for the sauce into a small bowl and whisk until uniformly combined
- In a medium bowl, add the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, parsley, and feta.
- Pour the tahini sauce on top and toss to coat. Finish with fresh ground black pepper and additional feta.
Hi everyone! My Raw Mini Key Lime Pies were chosen as a finalist in a Food52 recipe contest for “Your Best Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert”. If I win then I get a free Vitamix! Voting ends Wednesday, so if you could all vote for me that would be amazing! Click this here to make an account on the Food52 site and then follow this link to vote. Thank you!!