Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle

wild rice pilaf with roasted vegetables in wooden bowl

Wild Rice Pilaf is a Nutrient-Dense Holiday Dish!

If you’re needing something to bring to a holiday party or have on hand for lunches, try this Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle. It is nutrient-dense, plant-based side dish that is as delicious as it is beautiful.

Whenever November rolls around I am ready to make this dish. It is full of so many fall and winter ingredients that I look forward to having the whole year long!

Wild rice pilaf is hearty and flavorful with baby arugula and pecans added at the end for freshness and crunch. Serve as a side dish or spoon into baked acorn squash halves.

wild rice pilaf in acorn squash halves

What exactly is Wild Rice?

Wild rice is the fruit from a grass from the Zizania genus and is technically not related to rice. It was a traditional staple food of many Native Americans and was considered a gift from the Great Spirit. Read below an excerpt from Eden Foods’ story about wild rice.

Wild rice is not just a traditional food, or source of income for Native Americans. It is a gift from the Great Spirit, and a sacred component of their culture, honored in their ceremonies and embedded in their way of life. Wild rice stands are also a vital part of the ecology of thousands of lakes and rivers. As the grain ripens and during harvesting, some of the grain falls into the lakebeds, reseeding the beds for next year’s harvest. The rice stands provide a unique habitat for thousands of waterfowl, fish and other wildlife who rely on it as a food, and they are an important nesting haven.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Orange Balsamic Drizzle
 
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Wild rice pilaf is hearty and flavorful with baby arugula and pecans added at the end for freshness and crunch. Serve as a side dish or spoon into baked acorn squash halves.
Author:
Recipe type: Holiday Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 10-12 servings
Ingredients
Orange Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pilaf
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup yellow or red onion, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed
  • 3 cups water or vegetable stock
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 2 cups sweet potato, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
Instructions
Vinaigrette
  1. In a medium bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together first 5 ingredients, then whisk in olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Set aside.
Pilaf
  1. Preheat oven to 400° F and line sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Heat medium saucepan with a lid over medium heat for a minute. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, celery, and ¼ teaspoon sea salt, and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Gently stir in wild rice being careful not to break the grains. Add water or vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Cover and turn to low. Let simmer for 45 minutes, then turn heat off and let sit with the lid on for 15 more minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, toss sweet potato cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Spread evenly on sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes, or until starting to brown. Turn sweet potatoes with a spatula halfway through to prevent burning. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  5. Place rice into a large bowl and toss with roasted sweet potatoes, baby arugula, parsley, dried cranberries, and toasted pecans. Plate wild rice pilaf on a platter or shallow bowl and drizzle with vinaigrette just before serving.

 

How to Make Variations on this Recipe

Feel free to vary the vegetables and nuts and use what you have on hand. I have tried this recipe with roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccolini, and butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes and really loved it. Instead of pecans, you could use toasted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds) or walnuts. Let me know in the comments how you made yours or share a photo on Instagram with #cookloveheal tag.

wild rice pilaf wth roasted vegetables
Wild Rice Pilaf with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Broccolini, Carrots, and Cauliflower – I made this version without the dressing

Taking the time to make nourishing meals during the holidays will help to keep you and your loved ones healthy throughout the cold winter months. Here is a collection of healthy holiday recipes from my blog that I put together last year. Enjoy!

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos

photo of two roasted veggie and black bean tacos on corn tortillas

Tacos are a Great Anytime Meal!

Living in Texas the past 23 years has taught me one thing for sure… Tacos can be eaten any time of day, and they make an especially good breakfast! Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos are nutrient-dense and plant-based, and loaded with flavorful veggies, so try them the next time you need a taco fix!

At our house we have tacos for breakfast more than any other time, but on weekdays they usually consist of some leftover beans, avocado, and cilantro. Sometimes we will sauté a little zucchini, mushrooms, or onion on the side. On the weekends, we get more elaborate and roast some veggies or make a homemade salsa.

Vary Your Toppings

Don’t worry about following the recipe exactly. Use whatever veggies you have on hand, such as yellow squash, butternut squash, sweet corn, or other kinds of mushrooms.  I also love to top my tacos with homemade ume pickles. The possibilities are endless!

Make a Big Batch of Beans

You can make a big pot of homemade black beans once a month and freeze the leftovers in quart-sized ziplock bags. Once a week, take out a bag to thaw and reheat it with a little olive oil and salt to freshen it up. Sub pinto beans for black beans if you prefer.

If using canned beans, I’d take the time to sauté some onions and garlic, add the beans (that have been drained and rinsed), season with some sea salt, add a little water, and simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend. Beans right out of the can have no taste and usually need to be softened up too.

photo of two roasted veggie and black bean tacos on corn tortillasPlease Pass the Salsa!

For me, salsa is optional. For others, a taco isn’t a taco without a spicy salsa! Here are some of my favorites if you’re into salsa!

No-Nightshade Verde Sauce

Salsa Doña, a creamy green salsa made with roasted jalapeños and garlic (inspired by my favorite Austin taco chain Tacodeli)

Classic Pico de Gallo, a chunky fresh salsa with tomatoes, onion, peppers, cilantro, and lime.

Cassava Tortillas are a Grain-Free Alternative

Have you tried Cassava tortillas? If you’re looking for a grain-free or corn-free tortilla, give them a try. There are at least 2 brands available in my area but I think the Siete brand Cassava tortillas are my favorite. They are much more expensive than corn tortillas but they are super delicious and will not break apart (tapioca flour makes them more pliable). Stock up when they go on sale and store extra packages in the freezer.

Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos
 
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We love to make these tacos for breakfast in the fall and winter, but you can also serve them for lunch or dinner! Make extra veggies to have on hand at your next meal as a side or to make more tacos.
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Serves: 8 tacos
Ingredients
  • 1 medium zucchini, small dice
  • 1 medium sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
  • ½ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • a few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked and seasoned black beans
  • 1 package non-GMO corn tortillas, El Milagro brand recommended
  • 2 ripe avocados, sliced or cubed
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line large sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss together zucchini, sweet potato, and sweet corn, drizzle with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  3. Spread vegetables onto prepared sheet pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes. Toss veggies to make sure they cook evenly and return to the oven for 10 minutes more. Check again and remove from oven when edges are starting to turn golden brown. If you have too many veggies for one sheet pan, you can do them in batches.
  4. Place roasted veggies back into mixing bowl and mix in fresh cilantro. Cover and set aside.
  5. In a small to medium saucepan, heat up black beans with a tablespoon of olive oil. When black beans are soft, mash with a fork or potato masher. Add a little water if needed. Season with a little sea salt if needed.
  6. Heat a cast iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat for about a minute. Add a few drops olive oil and place tortilla on hot skillet. Using a pancake spatula, flip tortilla every 10-15 seconds to heat up evenly on both sides. Remove to a plate or a tortilla warmer and make sure to cover with a clean towel or pot lid. Repeat with as many tortillas as you need for your meal, about 2 per person. Tortillas can also be kept warm in a 200 degree oven by placing in an ovenproof dish (like a pie plate) and keep covered with foil.
  7. At the table, pass around the tortillas and each person can fill their tacos with roasted veggies and avocado. Garnish with a squeeze of lime.
Variations
  1. Substitute some other vegetables, such as sweet corn, winter squash, red onion, or yellow squash.
  2. Add some fresh baby arugula or some finely shredded green cabbage on the top of each taco.
  3. Use pinto beans instead of black beans.
  4. Serve with cassava tortillas (Siete brand) if you prefer them to corn tortillas.

Share Your Roasted Veggie Tacos

Enjoy making your Roasted Veggie and Black Bean Tacos! Share your taco photos on Instagram with hashtag #cookloveheal so we can benefit from each other’s creative ideas.

Taco fixings set up to make tacos including yellow squash, corn, green beans, cilantro, guacamole, scrambled eggs, sauteed red onions, and pinto beans
Make Your Own Tacos Kids’ Cooking Class – Summer 2019

Coconut Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry

Curry is a Great Post-Holiday Reset

When Thanksgiving has come and gone, try this flavorful Coconut Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry which will reset your digestion and put an end sugar cravings!

This one-pot meal is a crowd pleaser and reheats well. You can serve by itself or with some jasmine or basmati rice.

This Curry is Packed with Digestive Spices and Nutritious Vegetables

Coconut Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry is mildly spiced with fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin, and just a pinch of cayenne pepper, and is loaded wth vegetables, including sweet potatoes, onion, carrot, celery, and zucchini. Getting enough cooked sweet vegetables into your meals is important for stabilizing blood sugar and preventing the urge to grab for sweet treats after dinner.

Vary Your Ingredients to Make a Different Curry Each Time

One reason I love this recipe is that you can vary the vegetables – use butternut or kabocha squash instead of sweet potato, broccolini instead of zucchini, leeks instead of onion, and so on. Use what you have on hand to make a unique version of this recipe until waiting until you have every single ingredient to start making it!

Also, consider leaving the chickpeas out if you want a vegetable curry to go alongside baked chicken. Just substitute an extra cup or two of vegetables.

Coconut Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Curry
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1-2 cups cooked chickpeas (with cooking
  • broth, if homemade)
  • 1 cup vegetable stock or water
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 cups lacinato or curly kale, destemmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add coconut oil and sauté onion, carrots, and celery with a generous pinch of salt for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add sweet potato, zucchini, garlic, ginger, spices, chickpeas, and vegetable stock. Simmer about 5 minutes, then add coconut milk.
  3. Season with a teaspoon sea salt and a few grinds black pepper.
  4. Add kale (if using), bring back to a gentle boil, then simmer until vegetables are fork tender.
  5. Add a little more sea salt and black pepper to taste.
  6. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.
  7. Serve with fresh jasmine rice or quinoa.

Coconut and Sweet Potato Curry at yoga retreat I catered this fall.

 

Another slightly different version of the curry with different proportions of vegetables.

Some other curry recipes to try:

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)

Indian Cauliflower and Green Pea Curry

 

Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette

arugula, fennel, and nectarine salad on fancy white plate

Summer Salads Are Cooling

It is mid-August and the weather is hot in Austin, Texas! We make a salad at least once a day to help us stay cool. We are in love with Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette as it is cooling, crunchy, and full of flavor!

Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad Goes Well with Italian Menu

This summer arugula salad was born the other night when we were having a friend over for dinner and needed something to go with baked white fish and butternut squash risotto. In the fridge we had some baby arugula, baby tomatoes, a little fresh fennel, fresh basil and mint, and a lemon.

As I put the salad ingredients together, I saw a nectarine ripening on the counter, and wondered if it would go with the other ingredients. It turns out it was the perfect complement to the basil and mint, and the sweetness of the nectarine balanced out the bitterness of the arugula.

The third time I made this salad I added some organic feta cheese which made it look extra beautiful. If you’d prefer, you could put some toasted sliced almonds, pistachios, pecans, or homemade croutons on top of the salad instead of the cheese.

fennel and nectarine salad on fancy white plate

Add Fresh Herbs to Arugula Salads for Flavor

In addition to arugula greens, this salad has fresh basil and mint. The herbs on my back porch are doing great, thanks to daily watering and a burlap shade structure (from Costco) my husband hung over part of the deck. It’s just enough to block some of the harshest sun in the afternoon.

Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette

For the dressing, I used a white balsamic vinegar to go along with some lemon juice and olive oil to make a simple vinaigrette. But feel free to use any high quality balsamic vinegar and olive oil combination you like. I think a dark balsamic would work well here, as would a flavored white balsamic vinegar like lemongrass-mint or peach. I especially like the balsamic varieties at Con’ Olio. The sweetness of the dressing helps to balance out the bitterness of the arugula.

Summer Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Lemon-White Balsamic Vinaigrette
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: New American
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 5 ounces baby arugula (about 5-6 handfuls)
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, torn or sliced
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves, sliced
  • zest of 1 or 2 lemons (yellow part only)
  • 2 nectarines, pitted and sliced into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, halved
Dressing
  • juice of 2 lemons (~6 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Instructions
Salad
  1. In a large prep bowl, toss together arugula, fennel, basil, mint, and lemon zest.
  2. Using tongs, lightly dress salad with some of the lemon-white balsamic vinaigrette (below).
  3. Place salad onto individual salad plates or one large salad bowl or platter.
  4. Decorate the salad with nectarines and tomatoes. Drizzle with a little extra dressing, if desired.
Dressing
  1. Whisk together lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil (drizzle in slowly), a couple large pinches of sea salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.
Variations
  1. Add some crumbled feta cheese, cubed fresh mozzarella, or some kind of toasted nut (sliced almonds, pistachios, or pecans) to the top of the salad along with the nectarines and tomatoes.

Other Summer Salads from Cook Love Heal

Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Lemon

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

 

Bon appétit!

Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Lemon

Raw and grilled zucchini salad with fresh mint and lemon

The other night we were having friends over for dinner and I needed to make something quick and easy to go with butternut squash risotto and grilled portobellos.

I remembered this Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad from a class I taught at Con Olio this spring that is really fresh, tasty, and quick to make. It’s the perfect salad for your menu when you have extra zucchini and tomatoes on hand– maybe you are experiencing this right now!

You won’t need a fancy spiralizer for the raw zucchini. Just use a simple vegetable peeler to make wide strips. Cut them to whatever length you’d like, or leave them long. They will wilt a little bit once dressing is added.

Feel free to experiment with other simple dressings like a balsamic vinaigrette using a white or traditional dark balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper.

Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Lemon
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegan/Vegetarian
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2½ pounds mixed zucchini and yellow summer squash
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, torn
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, destemmed
  • 2 cups baby tomatoes, halved
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts, toasted
Dressing
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Instructions
  1. Light a grill or preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Using a wide vegetable peeler, thinly slice one-third of the zucchini and summer squash into ribbons, set aside in a medium bowl and refrigerate.
  3. Slice remaining zucchini and summer squash into ¼-inch diagonals or rounds and transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Grill zucchini and squash over high heat until lightly charred, 5 minutes (or roast on a sheet pan for 15-20 minutes, turning zucchini halfway. Return to the large bowl.
  5. Add the squash ribbons, mint, parsley, and tomatoes and toss.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Toss the dressing with all of the salad ingredients. Serve on salad plates and garnish with toasted pine nuts.

I hope you love making the Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad!

Here are some quick links to some other summery salad recipes on cookloveheal.com:

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

Greek Salad with Creamy Cashew-Dill Dressing

Bon appétit!

 

Pistachio and Rose Petal Coconut Ice Cream (vegan, GF)

Photo of pistachio and rose petal coconut ice cream

Coconut ice cream is a delicious non-dairy dessert

Pistachio and rose petal coconut ice cream is a non-dairy treat that is easy to make. All you need is a blender and an ice cream maker. In addition, this sweet and cooling dessert is the perfect ending to a spicy Thai or Indian meal.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pistachio and Rose Petal Coconut Ice Cream (vegan, GF)
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ cup (115 g) palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 2 cans coconut milk (full fat)
  • 1 cup pistachios, toasted (plus more for garnish)
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon dried rose petals or rosebuds
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seed
Instructions
  1. Place ice cream maker canister in the freezer 1-2 days before making ice cream.
  2. Heat sugar and 1 can coconut milk on low heat and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. In a blender, combine sugar mixture, second can of coconut milk, pistachios, rose water, and almond extract until smooth. This is your ice cream base. Refrigerate mixture for several hours or overnight.
  4. Set up ice cream maker (make sure paddle is inside the canister) and pour the chilled ice cream base into the canister. Turn on the ice cream maker and freeze until volume has doubled and it has a texture similar to soft serve. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
  5. Place ice cream into a quart-sized plastic deli tub or gelato container. Put in the freezer if you are not going to eat immediately.
  6. When ready to serve, set ice cream container out on the counter for about 5-10 minutes before trying to scoop it into bowls. Garnish each serving with a sprinkle of dried rose petals, cardamom, and pistachios.
Note:
  1. Instead of garnishing with rose petals try drizzling with pomegranate syrup. It's delicious!

Sourcing ingredients

Coconut milk- I prefer to use Native Forest or Whole Foods 365 brand full-fat coconut milk for taste, fat content, and texture.

Rose water is available at Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets. I get the Corta brand of Rosewater from Phoenicia bakery in Austin.

Cardamom- If you are able to find whole cardamom pods, lightly crush the pods, remove the seeds, and grind to a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle. Otherwise, you can use pre-ground cardamom. It will be much finer than that you grind yourself, so you won’t need much when sprinkling on for garnish.

Dried rosebuds- I used dried rose buds from the bulk section at my local food coop. However, you can make your own dried rose petals if you grow your own roses that are not sprayed with chemicals. A couple of days in advance, place your rose petals in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Let petals air dry until they are dehydrated.

Enjoy!

Try some other vegan and gluten-free dessert recipes on my blog:

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)

Chocolate Coco Truffles

Winter Fruit Salad with Pomegranate and Coconut

 

Almond-Orange Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle

Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto (Soupe Au Pistou)

I first discovered Soupe au Pistou, Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto, when reading Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Ma. This book is not to be confused with Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Berthole, and Julia Child (her first cookbook).

Ann Ma describes her experience traveling to a village in Southern France during summer vegetable harvest time. When gardens are bursting with ripe tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, white beans, fresh basil, and potatoes– what to do?

They have the perfect solution in this small town. Everyone gathers with their surplus produce to slice, dice, and make huge pots of brothy Soupe au Pistou to be shared with friends and family. It’s a real community event, and I imagine it’s much more fun than slaving away by yourself in a hot kitchen in July or August.

In preparing to teach this recipe, I referenced a few other versions of the recipe, the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking and the most recent one in Cook’s Illustrated All-Time Best Soups. I came up with this version, that can easily made vegan by leaving out the parmesan cheese. I prefer to serve grated parmesan on the side. 

If you’re using leeks (rather than onions) in this recipe, go ahead and make a simple stock out of the green parts. Just slice the green parts of the leek, rinse well under cold water, then place them in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Strain out the leek greens and you are left with a light and flavorful broth to use in your Soupe Au Pistou!

For more soup recipes on my web site, visit:

Italian White Bean Soup

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup

Cecilia’s Pozole Verde

Miso Vegetable Soup

Creamy Corn Soup with Dulse

Creamy Broccoli Soup with Fresh Rosemary

Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup

Provençal Vegetable Soup with Tomato-Basil Pesto (Soupe Au Pistou)
 
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“Early summer is the Mediterranean season for soupe au pistou, when fresh basil, fresh white beans, and broad mange-tout beans are all suddenly available, and the market women shout in the streets, “Mesdames, faites le bon piste, faites le pistou!” The pistou itself, like the Italian pesto, is a sauce made of garlic, basil, tomato, and olive oil, and is just as good on spaghetti as it is in this rich vegetable soup. Fortunately, this soup is not confined to summer and fresh vegetables, for you can use canned navy beans, fresh or frozen string beans, and a fragrant dried basil. Other vegetables in season may be added with the green beans as you wish, such as peas, diced zucchini, and green or red bell peppers.” — Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: French
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • Soup
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups leek (white parts) or onion, diced
  • 2 cups carrots, diced
  • 2 cups potatoes (yukon gold or red), diced
  • 8 cups spring or filtered water, divided
  • 2 cups zucchini, diced
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, ½” lengths
  • 2 cups cooked cranberry beans or white beans
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • Pistou
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup fresh or canned tomato purée or 2 Roma tomatoes (seeded)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • ¼ to ½ cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat large soup pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add leeks or onion and sauté with a pinch of salt for a few minutes.
  2. Add carrots and potatoes and stir to combine.
  3. Add 4 cups water, cover, and bring to a boil. Turn to low and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare the pistou by placing ingredients in a blender and blending until smooth. Instead of tomato puree, you can add two seeded Roma tomatoes to the blender.
  5. Add zucchini, green beans, cranberry or white beans (with cooking liquid if homemade; drained if canned), salt, and pepper. Add remaining 4 cups water (or more if needed), bring back to a boil, then lower heat and simmer slowly for 3 minutes.
  6. Stir pistou into soup and simmer 3 minutes more.
  7. Test for seasonings and add a little more salt and pepper if needed.
  8. Serve with rice, pasta, or fresh bread. Bon appétit!

Join me for upcoming Plant-based Cooking Classes for adults (lunchtime classes) and kids (summer camp) at Con’ Olio Olive Oils and Vinegars in their two locations– Bee Cave and Arboretum or schedule your own class from my on-demand offerings for families, groups, and individuals!

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)

chocolate almond butter truffles

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles are Dairy-free, Gluten-free, and Paleo-friendly

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles are one of my favorite desserts for dinner parties, holiday get togethers, and hostess gifts as they are beautiful as well as  dairy-free and gluten-free (and paleo friendly if you use a very dark chocolate).

Truffles Make a Great Holiday Gift

Truffles are super cute arranged in little cupcake liners on a colorful platter. You can also box them up in little gift boxes to give as gifts. Just make sure to refrigerate the truffles until it’s time to gift them.

Use Different Coatings for Variety

Get creative with coatings for your truffles– I use toasted almonds and cocoa here, but you can try any of the following:

  • chopped toasted pistachios
  • dried lavender flowers (see image below)
  • dried rose petals (make sure they are the edible variety found with bulk teas)
  • shredded unsweetened coconut
  • chopped roasted peanuts
  • carob powder 

truffles with lavender buds

Tips for Making Dark Chocolate Truffles

Set aside some time for the truffle mixture to chill in the refrigerator before forming into balls, perhaps an hour or so. If you need to leave them longer than that and the mixture gets hard, no worries, just set out at room temperature for 30 minutes and they should be ready to roll.

You’ll need to work quickly when forming the truffle balls, using your fingertips, until coated with cocoa/almonds. Do not try rolling truffles in the palm of your hand, or they will melt! Otherwise they are really simple to make.

 

Chocolate Almond Butter Truffles (vegan, gluten-free)
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (fair trade recommended)
  • 6 tablespoons smooth, roasted almond butter
  • 4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • generous pinch unrefined sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • ½ cup blanched almonds, toasted and chopped finely
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, sifted (fair trade recommended)
  • 24 mini baking cups
Instructions
  1. In a double boiler or saucepan with heavy bottom, gently melt chocolate being careful not to burn or introduce any water into the chocolate. Stir with wooden spoon, heat-proof spatula, or whisk until almost melted, then turn off heat and let sit until completely melted.
  2. In pot or separate bowl, add almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt. Mix until smooth and transfer to a glass or metal bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool and firm to the touch.
  3. Meanwhile, set out two bowls— one with almonds and one with cocoa.
  4. Using a melon baller or small rounded metal teaspoon, scoop out balls of the chocolate mixture. Working quickly (without rolling between warm hands), roll 2-3 chocolate balls at a time in either cocoa or almond mixture. You may want to coat half of the balls in each for variety. Once chocolate balls are coated, you can form into neater balls with clean, dry hands if needed.
  5. Place each truffle in a mini baking cup and place on a plate or platter, alternating almond-coated and cocoa-coated truffles around the platter.

 

Chocolate almond truffles recipe card
Print recipe card for your friends for the holidays!

Check out my upcoming Austin cooking classes here.

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)

photo of kabocha squash-red lentil curry in white bowl on purple placemat on the dinner table

Community cookoffs are a delicious way to bring people together!

It’s almost time again for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance (AFBA) Annual Community Cookoff! This year’s theme is “Oodles of Noodles” and will be held on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from 2-4 pm at the Brew & Brew. It will be a celebration of carbs and the recipes of many chefs working hard to please your palate!

This year’s cookoff motivated me to post about last year’s AFBA 2017 Collossal Curry Cookoff. As a brand new member of the AFBA, I decided to enter my Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry in the cookoff. I was a bit scared, but I thought it would be a good way to meet my fellow AFBA members and showcase the type of food that I cook.

Curries don’t have to be hot to be flavorful, aromatic, and delicious!

I was excited for people to try my vegan curry which was not at all hot and spicy. I wanted to make the curry flavorful (with sweet kabocha squash, fennel, sweet potato, and curry leaves) and spicy rather than hot (with ginger, garlic, turmeric, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon). I also used red lentils to give the curry great body, flavor, and texture. Yum!

fresh ginger and bowl of spices for Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry

Kabocha Squash and Red Lentil Curry (V, GF)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 2 quarts
Ingredients
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 2 fronds fresh curry leaves, chiffonade or 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 cup sweet potato, small dice
  • 1 cup fennel bulb, small dice
  • 2 cups kabocha or butternut squash, small dice
  • 1 cup zucchini, small dice
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 cups filtered or spring water
  • 1 teaspoon tamari, or to taste (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ume plum vinegar, or to taste (optional)
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chiffonade
  • lemon or lime wedges, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Rinse red lentils several times and soak in a bowl with water for about an hour.
  2. Heat heavy-bottomed soup pot on medium heat. When hot, add coconut oil, onion, and pinch of sea salt. Sauté on medium heat until soft.
  3. Add the carrot, celery, curry leaves or bay leaf, ginger, and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Stir in powdered spices.
  4. Add the chopped sweet potato, fennel, squash, zucchini, salt, and pepper. Sauté for 4 minutes.
  5. Drain red lentils and add them to the vegetable sauté. Add water, bring to a boil, then turn to low and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in coconut milk. Season with tamari and ume vinegar (or sea salt). Heat until simmering.
  7. Add fresh herbs and turn off heat.
  8. Serve on top of rice with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

3rd place finish!

After a few hours of curry tasting and ballot casting, I was thrilled to get a 3rd place finish, and went home with various gift cards and goodies from local businesses. It ended up being such a fun day!

I hope you’ll try making this recipe when you are in the mood for something sweet, savory, and nourishing. It is delicious with basmati rice and a crisp green side salad. I also add baby spinach when warming up leftovers to give it some freshness.

Sign up for this year’s cookoff!

And by the way, get your tickets here for the 2018 AFBA Oodles of Noodles cookoff on September 23rd. It will be an experience to remember!

Please let me know if you’d like to chat about on-demand cooking lessons, corporate team building, dinner parties, or yoga retreat catering.

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

baby arugula salad


I’m in love!

In mid-June, I started teaching kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars in Austin, TX and was transported into the world of amazing, high quality olive oils and balsamic vinegars from Europe. A few weeks before my classes started I got a tour of the store and sampled a variety of their products. I fell head over heals with everything I tasted, and was especially taken with the white balsamics which are lighter in color and flavor than the dark varieties (which I also love). It was the Lemongrass Mint White Balsamic that I ended up using in this recipe.

Summer is a great time for salads

In summer, I do a lot less cooking, but still like to eat at home. The simple solution is making more salads and using the grill to avoid heating up the kitchen. This Baby Arugula Salad is great for either lunch or dinner with something like a creamy vegetable soup (try Creamy Broccoli Soup or Creamy Butternut Squash Soup) and some fresh bread with olive oil. Make the soup early one morning before it gets hot, and quickly heat it up for meals later in the day or serve chilled.

How to make arugula taste great

This salad took me by surprise. I made during the first week of kids’ cooking camp at Con’ Olio and EVERYONE liked it– even those children that swore up and down they didn’t like vegetables. The key to this salad is finding a dressing that balances the peppery flavor of the baby arugula and the tartness of the berries. On the recommendation of the manager at Con’ Olio (who is also a chef), I used a combination of a mild olive oil and their lemongrass-mint white balsamic vinegar for the dressing. It is just equal parts of each with a little sea salt and black pepper. It was unbelievably delicious! I look forward to trying some of their dark balsamics (like strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, or fig), maybe when the weather cools down a bit.

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass-Mint Vinaigrette
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salad
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese (optional), shaved
  • ¼ cup raspberries
  • ¼ cup blueberries
  • ¼ cup strawberries, sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
Dressing
Instructions
  1. In a medium prep bowl, mix together arugula and spinach.
  2. Prepare dressing by whisking together olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with a few pinches sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper in a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup.
  3. Using a pair of tongs, toss salad greens and Pecorino Romano (if using) with dressing until evenly coated.
  4. Divide greens onto 4 salad plates. Top each salad with a variety of berries and sliced almonds.

baby arugula salad
Baby Arugula Salad from Kids’ Cooking Camp at Con’ Olio Oils & Vinegars- June 2018
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(512) 217-1259

rachel@cookloveheal.com

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