Emergency Vegan Pasta with Garlic, Chili, and Breadcrumbs

Emergency Vegan PastaI have to come clean. Last week I fell, and I fell hard. It started when a family friend and neighbor invited me over for an Indian holiday lunch. I ate many, many of her homemade spinach and cheese samosas, and they were worth every single bite. A few days later my parents came over for an early birthday celebration for Owen, and they brought a cake from Greenberg’s on the Upper East Side. You guys, the frosting. It’s like a ganache that never fully hardens, so it always tastes like it was poured over the cake five minutes before you stuff it in your face. My whole family is obsessed with it–we get it for all our birthdays. Again, my slice (or three) was totally worth it.

But then things kind of spiraled, as they do, and Sunday afternoon found me eating cold, congealing taco dip off a buffet table at a party for one of Owen’s friends. Why? I was starving and there were limited options, but still. My stomach was not happy. Totally not worth it.

I wanted to get back on track this week–and fast. This quick, simple pasta dish, called spaghetti aglio e olio in Italian, was just the ticket. You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. I adapted this recipe from Ina Garten. She adds a cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese with the parsley. I’ve replaced it with a shower of toasted panko thrown in at the end.

As far as pastas go, this is about as light as they come. It’s garlicy, spicy, and just a little nutty from the panko. It goes great with a side of sautéed broccoli rabe or a crisp romaine and orange salad. Use 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes if you can handle the heat.

Emergency Vegan Pasta with Garlic, Chili, and Breadcrumbs
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Ina Garten

Kosher salt
1 pound dried spaghetti
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 or 6 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup toasted vegan panko breadcrumbs

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the directions on the package. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a pot or pan large enough to hold the pasta. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until it is just beginning to turn golden at the edges, about 2 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the reserved pasta water and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer until the mixture has reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.

Add the pasta and parsley and toss to combine. Let the pasta rest for 5 minutes to absorb some of the sauce. Sprinkle with the panko just before serving.

Quick Chipotle Black Bean Soup

Quick Black Bean SoupMy first apartment in New York was on East 83rd Street, on the same block as an Italian restaurant called Erminia, which the Zagat Guide described as “cave-like,” “transporting,” “romantic,” and “very expensive.” We never went, but my roommates and I walked by it often, on our way to the Mexican restaurant around the corner on Second Avenue, where we stuffed ourselves with free chips and salsa and drowned our editorial assistant woes in pitchers of frozen margaritas.

The cheapest thing on the menu was the black bean soup. It also happened to be quite good. Not entirely smooth or chunky, it was a mix of blended and whole beans, and had just enough chipotle spice to make those margaritas a necessity. It was filling, too–enough to count as a real meal. I haven’t been back to that Mexican restaurant in more than 10 years. Who knows? It’s probably not even there anymore. But that black bean soup is still the version I measure all others against, and I’m usually disappointed.

I figured it was about time to quit being lazy and just figure out how to make Lucy’s Perfect Black Bean Soup myself. There are dozens of recipes out there for black bean soup. When I found this one, it was sliding into a great pair of jeans. It was a perfect fit, everything I had been looking for.

Normally I’m a huge proponent of salting as you go. It builds flavor and you end up using less overall. But since canned black beans and vegetable broth can be very salty, in this particular recipe it’s best to taste you soup and season it at the end. I serve big bowls of this with cashew sour cream and chopped fresh cilantro. For a “loaded” version, you could add minced red onion or chopped scallions, diced tomatoes or jalapeño, salsa, and crushed tortilla chips. This soup freezes beautifully. If you are making the cashew sour cream, note that you will need to soak your cashews overnight. You could also start soaking them in the morning and then make the soup for dinner.

Quick Chipotle Black Bean Soup
Makes about 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups)
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons ground cumin
3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained, 1 cup liquid reserved
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cashew sour cream (recipe follows)
Chopped fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until completely soft and beginning to turn golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, and cumin and sauté for 1 minute more. Add the beans, reserved bean liquid, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes and their juices, and adobo sauce. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the soup thickens slightly, about 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until it is mostly smooth with some chunks remaining. (Alternatively, puree half the soup in a blender, then stir it back into the pot.) Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a dollop of cashew sour cream and a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley.

Cashew Sour Cream
Makes about 1 cup

1 cup whole raw cashews, soaked in water overnight or for at least 8 hours
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Large pinch kosher salt

Drain the cashews and transfer them to a blender. Add the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Blend on high until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy. Leftovers will keep for about a week in the fridge.



Maple Applesauce Cake

Maple Applesauce CakeWhen I was in the fifth grade, we moved across town to a new house with several huge apple trees in the backyard. My parents simply let them grow wild, never spraying them or cutting them back, and every fall to this day they shower the yard with hundreds of lumpy, spotted, and sometimes wormy apples, each sized somewhere between an egg and a tennis ball.

They’re not the prettiest things to look at, and you have to chomp your way through two or three before you feel like you’ve eaten anything substantial, but they make the most incredible, sweet-tart applesauce. I remember my mom coming in from outside with a plastic Stop & Shop bag filled to the ripping point. She peeled them and cut away the bad parts (sometimes half the apple), cut the good parts into chunks, and tossed them in a pot with some water, sugar, and a big pinch of cinnamon. She she let them bubble away until they were soft, and then she used a dinner fork to mash them into a chunky sauce. I would hover nearby and steal warm spoonfuls straight from the stovetop.

Alex had a very different childhood relationship with applesauce. His mother used it to hide his medicine. He thought it naturally tasted like Robitussin and crushed pills until he was a teenager.

Since we’ve been together, I’ve made it my mission to get him to reconsider applesauce. So far this warm, spicy cake has been my best argument. I make it every fall for Rosh Hashanah in place of honey cake, which I’ve never liked, and who cares because honey isn’t vegan anyway?

One of the great things about this cake is that the flavor actually improves over the course of a day or two, so if you’ve got a lot of holiday cooking to do you can easily make it ahead. It also freezes beautifully. And did I mention it miraculously transforms from “cake” at night to “bread” in the morning, making it totally acceptable breakfast fare?

Maple Applesauce Cake
Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes one 9×5-inch loaf cake, about 6-8 servings

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1/2 cup (1 stick) vegan shortening, such as Earth Balance
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup chunky applesauce

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment. Dust the sides with flour and tap out the excess.

In a small bowl, stir the ground flax seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 15 minutes to thicken.

In a large bowl, beat the shortening and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the maple syrup and flax-water mixture. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger into the bowl and beat to combine. Beat in the applesauce.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack, then run a knife around the edges and turn the cake out. Store loosely wrapped at room temperature.

Sweet Potato Fudge Squares

Sweet Potato Fudge Squares

When I first started my 90% vegan lifestyle, I met a woman who had been a vegan for 12 years. I asked her what she did at restaurants that didn’t have any vegan options. “Oh,” she said. “Then I just order a baked potato and enjoy the conversation.”

People, I was aghast. That sounded (and still sounds) horrible to me. I refuse to believe that being vegan means sacrificing satisfying, craveable, restaurant-worthy food. Also, I hate baked potatoes. They’re just so blah and brown and starchy. After I eat one, I always feel like I have a potato brick in my stomach.
But sweet potatoes, now they’re another story altogether. Creamy and sweet and just begging to be paired with fall spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Or, you know, chocolate. As you are about to see here.
I called these fudge squares instead of brownies because they are incredibly rich, moist, and fudgy. They almost remind me of a flourless chocolate cake.
They are equally delicious cold and straight out of the fridge or heated up in the microwave and topped with a scoop of chocolate sorbet or whipped coconut cream. Feel free to swap chopped pecans for the chocolate chips for a nutty version.

Sweet Potato Fudge Squares
Adapted from The Ultimate Brownie Book
Makes 9 large or 16 small brownies

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
8 tablespoons vegan shortening, such as Earth Balance, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato (about 1 medium potato)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil extending it up the sides. Spray the foil with nonstick spray.

In a small bowl, whisk the ground flax seeds with 6 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

In stand mixer (or a large bowl with an electric mixer) beat the shortening with the brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the mashed sweet potato and the vanilla. Gradually beat in the flour mixture just until combined. Beat (or stir) in the chocolate chips.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread it gently to the corners. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool the brownies in the pan completely. Using the foil as handles, lift out of the pan and cut into squares. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Vegan Mushroom Pot Pie

Mushroom pot pieSince I live with two guys who eat a lot more meat than I do, often times I’ll make three things for dinner: a salad, a hearty vegetable “side”, and baked salmon or chicken. Then I’ll just have the salad and vegetables. Don’t worry–I’m not subsisting on rabbit food. I’m talking about hearty dishes like Mark Bittman’s eggplant unparm or my new obsession, this roasted cauliflower with kimchi cream.

But sometimes I don’t want to prepare three different things. I want to make one dish that my whole family will happily eat. Enter: this mushroom pot pie. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a giant Cook’s Illustrated nerd. I read every issue cover to cover. I even have some of the back covers framed in my kitchen. One of my favorite CI recipes is for chicken pot pie with biscuits. Would it be possible to veganize it?

In a word, yes! Alex devoured two helpings at dinner and another the next day for lunch. He said it was even better than the original. I swapped cremini mushrooms for the chicken and used some dried porcinis as well, which pack loads of umami flavor. I also substituted almond milk for cow’s milk, and Earth Balance for the butter in both the filling and the biscuits. You can use any vegan butter/shortening you prefer.

I love this recipe because you can make everything ahead. I usually prepare the filling the night before and the biscuits in the morning (store them on a plate loosely wrapped in plastic in the fridge), and then just assemble and bake before dinner. It also freezes beautifully. If you have a small family like me, bake half in an 8×8-inch dish and freeze the rest (freeze the filling and biscuits separately).

Don’t be deterred by the long ingredient list. This recipe is actually vey easy and goes quickly. It would make a terrific fall or winter dinner party dish. I love the idea of serving something homey, comforting, and familiar when everyone is expecting something fancy and fussy. All you need is a simple green salad and some Champagne–it pairs great and really cuts through the richness of the filling.


Vegan Mushroom Pot Pie
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

For the biscuits:
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons very cold Earth Balance vegan shortening, diced

For the filling:
1 (.7-ounce) package dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound (two 8-ounce packages) crimini mushrooms, quartered
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 large carrots, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and diced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and diced
4 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan shortening
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk (or soy milk)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 cup frozen peas
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

To make the biscuits, stir the almond milk and lemon juice together in a measuring cup and set aside. In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt and pulse to combine. Add the Earth Balance and pulse until incorporated and the mixture looks like wet sand.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add the almond milk-lemon juice mixture. Stir with a fork until a shaggy dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead a few times. Pat the dough out to 3/4-inch thickness and cut into 8 rounds using a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Transfer the biscuits to a plate, cover loosely with plastic, and refrigerate while you prepare the filling (biscuits can be made up to 24 hours ahead).

To make the filling, preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the dried porcinis in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Let sit for 20 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl. Set the sieve and the bowl aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Add the crimini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms are seared and no longer look raw, about 5 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to the sieve with the porcinis, allowing any accumulated juices to collect in the bowl with the porcini liquid.

Add the remaining tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pot and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and the carrots are completely fork-tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

Add the Earth Balance to the pot. When melted, whisk in the flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in the milk, 2 cups of the reserved mushroom liquid, and the thyme. Bring the sauce to a simmer for one minute. Stir the sherry and peas. Stir in the mushrooms, vegetables, and parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper. If the filling is too thick, add a little more mushroom liquid or water, 1/4 cup at a time, until it loosens. (You might need to do this if you make the filling ahead of time and refrigerate it.)

Pour the filling into a 13×9-inch baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and top with the biscuits. Return to the oven and bake for another 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits are puffed and golden and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Roasted Tomato-Garlic Confit

Roasted Tomato-Garlic Confit Pasta

I worked as an assistant cookbook editor for a major publishing house for three years, and during that time I acquired a lot of cookbooks. They were heaped under my desk at the office (next to another equally large and unsettling pile of “work” shoes), and stacked in my apartment on the coffee table, on top of the toaster oven, and next to my bed. I had cookbooks devoted entirely to cornbread, figs, apples, peanut butter, tomatoes, and potatoes. I loved them all, and I still do.

When I left my job to go to graduate school, I moved from Manhattan to Brooklyn, to a much smaller apartment. Unable to give away even a single cookbook, I took boxes of them to my parents’ house in Massachusetts, effectively transferring all those piles and stacks to my mother’s kitchen (thanks mom!). Eight years later I still haven’t quite managed to pick them up.

Roasted Tomato-Garlic ConfitSo, from time to time, when my mom visits, she brings me one of my now-forgotten treasures. Most recently, it was The Roasted Vegetable by Andrea Chesman. I can’t believe I completely blanked on this book for almost a decade! It’s so fabulous, I can’t stop compulsively flipping through it and flagging recipes with Post-Its.

One of the first things I made was this tomato-garlic confit. Plum tomatoes are roasted with a shower of fresh thyme and garlic and then mashed up with sherry vinegar and a pinch of sugar. It’s quick, rustic, and versatile. Andrea pairs it with spaghetti squash, but I served it over fusilli. If you have carnivores in your family, you can toss in some cooked, crumbled sausage (that’s what I did for Alex and he loved it). Leftover confit is delicious as a topping for crostini or as a spread in sandwiches. It will keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.

Roasted Tomato-Garlic Confit
Makes about 2 cups
Adapted from The Roasted Vegetable

14 large, ripe plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4-5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2-1 teaspoon sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Combine the tomatoes, olive oil, and thyme on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down, in a single layer. Roast for 30 minutes. Scatter the sliced garlic over the tomatoes. Roast for another 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender, wrinkled, and beginning to brown. (There will be a lot of liquid on the baking sheet. Don’t worry.)

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the tomatoes cool slightly. If you can, peel the skins off the tomatoes and discard. If the skins won’t budge, it’s not a big deal. Your confit will still be delicious.

Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, and accumulated juices to a large bowl and stir in the vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Using a wooden spoon, mash the tomatoes into a chunky sauce. Taste the confit and add more salt, pepper to taste.

Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This recipe makes me feel old. I remember first seeing it in print in Cooking Light, all the way back in 2006. I was a recent college grad then, and I made dishes like this all the time because 1) sweet potatoes are cheap and 2) I always had a jar of peanut butter on hand. I doubt I even realized it was vegan.

I haven’t made this in years, but I started thinking about it again the other day. It’s getting so chilly out, and I’m craving roasted root vegetables, pumpkin, and butternut squash–basically anything starchy and orange and sweet. This time, I used chunky peanut butter and diced tomatoes and it came out even better than I remembered. I loved the contrast between the creamy, sweet potato, the spicy sauce, and the crunchy peanuts.

This is a great weeknight recipe because you can easily prepare the potatoes and sauce ahead, and then just heat and serve when you’re ready for dinner. It makes a terrific main dish on its own, but it’s also a nice side with simple baked chicken or fish. I love to pair it with sautéed broccoli rabe splashed with a little tamari and drizzled with sesame oil.


Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Peanut Sauce
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Cooking Light

4 medium sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 onion, diced (about 3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water
1 cup petit diced tomatoes with juice
1/3 cup chunky, natural style peanut butter
Chopped roasted salted peanuts, for serving
Chopped cilantro or parsley, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork. Place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until tender, 60 to 70 minutes.

In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, and cayenne and sauté for another minute. Whisk in the water, tomatoes, and peanut butter until smooth. Simmer for a minute or two, until thickened.

Split each sweet potato lengthwise down the middle and spoon in the sauce. Top with the cilantro, parsley, and chopped peanuts.

5 Minute, Weeknight Vegan Chocolate Pudding

5 Minute, Weeknight Chocolate Pudding

Owen loves chocolate pudding. Sometimes I make it for him from scratch, sometimes we buy it from this fancy Italian market near his daycare, and sometimes it’s pudding cups from Stop & Shop. Obviously, the homemade pudding trumps the others, but it’s hard to find the time. Also, our favorite recipe (from Cook’s Illustrated) isn’t exactly healthy, what with 1/2 cup white sugar, 5 tablespoons of butter, and four ounces of chocolate. We won’t even get into the amount of heavy cream.

So I was excited to stumble upon a recipe for a quick, easy, and–best of all–vegan chocolate pudding on weelicious, my fave kid-friendly recipe site. Basically, you throw a package of silken tofu, some cocoa powder, agave, and vanilla into a blender and whip it all up. Since I can never resist tinkering just a little, I added some instant coffee powder, a smidge of melted chocolate, and a sprinkle of salt to round out all the flavors.

You guys, I wish I could tell you how much Owen loved it, but the truth is he never had a single bite. I ate it all myself.


5 Minute, Weeknight Chocolate Pudding

Makes 3-4 servings


2 tablespoons vegan chocolate chips

1 (1 pound) package silken tofu

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup agave (simple syrup would work too)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


Put the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring once, until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

In a blender, combine the tofu, cocoa, agave, vanilla, instant coffee granules, and salt. Add the melted chocolate and blend until smooth.

Transfer the pudding to a serving bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve. The pudding will thicken as it chills.


Salad Granola

Salad Granola

I realize this sounds totally crazy, but when I decided to overhaul my diet and go mostly vegan, one of the things I was most concerned about missing was salad.

Hear me out.

I knew I would still eat lots of lettuce, but I’d become quite accustomed to topping all my salads with a shower of cheese. One of my college friend’s moms used to say “It’s not a salad if it doesn’t have five colors,” and one of my colors was definitely white: feta or goat, Parmesan or pecorino. Without cheese, would I even like salad anymore?

I needed an alternative topping. I wanted something a little indulgent (I was already eating my vegetables), and something that would provide a nice textural contrast to the leafy greens. What about… a savory granola?!

It turns out that I wasn’t the first person to have this idea. But none of the recipes I found online were vegan. They almost all included an egg white as a binder, and many had cheese–just what I was trying to avoid in the first place.

The recipe I liked best was from Bon Appétit, but I changed it quite a bit. I veganized it with a flax egg (1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water) in place of the egg white. I also used a different combo of nuts and seeds, dialed back on the oil, and substituted smoked paprika (one of my all-time favorite spices) for cayenne.

Alex likes to snack on this straight from the jar, but I like it best over an escarole salad with chopped apples and a simple maple-balsamic vinaigrette.

Salad Granola
Makes about 3 cups
Adapted from Bon Appétit

1 tablespoon flax seeds
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup coarsely chopped raw cashews
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon agave syrup

Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Grind the flax seeds in a spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 15 minutes to thicken.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, cashews, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, salt, paprika, and cumin. Stir in the olive oil, agave, and flax-water mixture. Transfer the mixture to the baking sheet and bake until fragrant and golden, about 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Cool completely on the baking sheet, then store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature.

Barley Salad with Kale Pesto

Barley Salad with Kale Pesto

I tore this recipe out of Food & Wine way back in July with the intention of making it immediately. I put it up on the fridge and looked at it all the time but…I never got around to actually preparing it. To be fair, it was the middle of the summer, and I was busy stuffing myself with tomatoes, corn, and watermelon. Kale and barley just seemed a little too hearty and wintery, even if it did involve pesto.

Fast forward to mid-September. I’m still eating an obscene amount of tomatoes, but it’s starting to get dark around 7pm and last night we busted out Owen’s footie pajamas. Fall is here. So I made this recipe (with a few tweaks) and it was everything I hoped it would be. Which is: the perfect balance between a grain salad and a green salad.

This dish is easy to adapt based on what you’ve got on hand. Use faro or wheat berries in place of the barley, swap spinach or arugula for the kale, or replace the pine nuts with walnuts. Just don’t skimp on the lemon juice, zest, or salt–they add loads of flavor and really make the salad sing.

Barley with Kale Pesto
Serves 4 as a main or 6 as a side
Adapted from Food & Wine

1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/2 cup golden raisins
4 cups packed de-stemmed regular or baby kale leaves
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice plus zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the barley with 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender, about 35 minutes. Drain and rinse the barley and transfer it to a large bowl.

In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over low heat until fragrant, about 4 or 5 minutes (watch carefully, as pine nuts can burn fast!). Transfer the pine nuts to the bowl with the barley. In the same skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the shallot and raisins and sauté until the shallot has softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer the shallot mixture to the barley.

Combine 2 cups of the kale and the lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in the remaining 1/3 cup of olive oil and process until well blended (you might have to stop and scrape down the sides). Pour the pesto over the barley.

Chop or tear the remaining 2 cups of kale into medium pieces and add to the barley. Add the lemon zest and toss everything together. Season liberally with salt and pepper.