Caponata (Sicilian-style summer vegetables)

Photo of eggplant dish caponata

Bursting with fresh summer flavors, Caponata is one of my favorite dishes to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and basil come into season.

I first tasted Caponata at a class on Italian side dishes at Cook Like An Italian led by Monica Pesoli. She cooked each main ingredient separately, then simmered them together with white wine vinegar and fresh herbs. Caponata is full of distinct flavors that go perfectly together.

More recently, I’ve been going through Lidia Bastianich’s 2017 cookbook Lidia’s Celebrate Like An Italian and discovered her Caponata recipe. The recipe below is based on the one in her book. You can serve it as a side dish (warm or chilled) or as an appetizer (after it is cooled, chop into small pieces and serve on crostini).

Caponata (Sicilian Style Summer Vegetables)
 
Caponata is the perfect Italian dish to make when eggplant, tomatoes, and fresh basil are in season. Enjoy as a side dish (warm or chilled) or appetizer (chopped and served on crostini).
Author:
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium eggplant, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 medium zucchini, ½ inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, peeled, seeded, cut into ½ inch squares
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup pitted green olives, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons organic sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped
Instructions
  1. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add ¼ cup olive oil, then add eggplant in a single layer. You can do two batches if all of the eggplant does not fit in a single layer. Sauté eggplant, letting it turn golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large prep bowl.
  2. Add remaining ¼ cup olive oil, and repeat with zucchini. Remove zucchini with a slotted spoon (to leave oil in the pan) to the bowl with the eggplant.
  3. Add onion and celery to the pan and sauté about 5 minutes.
  4. Add red bell pepper, raisins, olives, capers, pine nuts, sea salt, and red pepper flakes and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, white wine vinegar, and sugar (if using). Simmer until liquid has evaporated and tomatoes are well incorporated.
  6. Add fresh herbs and toss together.

 

The last few summer menus I made with caponata included:

  • Wild salmon, polenta, caponata, and grilled broccolini
  • Pacific rock cod with capers and white wine sauce, risotto, caponata, and caprese salad
  • Ocean perch with white wine sauce, basmati rice, caponata, and caprese salad

Photo of eggplant dish caponataPhoto of Italian meal with caponata

Some other summertime dishes you may want to try:

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

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

Baby Arugula Salad with Berries and Lemongrass Mint Vinaigrette

Asian Mushroom Lettuce Wraps (V, GF, soy-free)

Southwestern Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

 

Summertime Buckwheat Salad with Lemon Dill Dressing

 

Buon appetito!

 

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 one of my favorite desserts for dinner parties and holiday get togethers, as they are vegan and gluten-free, paleo friendly (if you use a very dark chocolate), and they are super cute arranged in little cupcake tins on a colorful platter. You can also box them up in little gift boxes to give for gifts. Just make sure to refrigerate the truffles until it’s time to gift them.

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 (the combination of cocoa truffles and carob coating is great!)

truffles with lavender budsYou’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.

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.

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.

Happy holidays!

Mineral-Rich Energy Bars

Creating a nutrient-dense, delicious energy bar

This month I started a new yoga program and realized I needed to make some nutrient-dense snacks to take with me. I remembered Jessica Porter’s classic recipe for Crispy Brown Rice Bars (a healthy, macrobiotic version of Rice Crispy Treats), but wanted to add some extra goodies to make them more hearty:

  • pumpkin seeds or pepitas (high in potassium, iron, magnesium, and zinc)
  • unhulled sesame seeds (high in copper, manganese, magnesium, calcium, and more)
  • dulse flakes (high in iodine, protein, Vitamins B6 & B12, and more)
  • almond butter (high in protein, fat, magnesium, calcium, and potassium)

These healthy, mineral-rich energy bars are a great post-workout snack and help to boost the thyroid, build bone density, and increase minerals in the diet.

Choosing the right brand of brown rice syrup makes a difference

Make an effort to find the special brown rice syrup I recommend in the recipe— Suzanne’s Specialties Genmai Rice Nectar. It is available online and in various natural foods stores. I used to be able to buy it in Austin but now I have to order online.

Suzanne’s brand is much more clean tasting and delicious than other brown rice syrups (such as the Lundberg brand which is more bitter), as it is made through natural fermentation rather than a chemical process.

You could try making this recipe with another sweetener, but you may need to adjust the other ingredients due to viscosity and sweetness (honey is much sweeter and maple syrup may be a little too thin to hold the bar together).

Mineral Rich Energy Bars (V, GF)
 
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These no-bake energy bars are the perfect post-workout or lunchbox snack. They are packed with nutrients including complex carbohydrates, protein, fat, and many trace minerals.
Author:
Recipe type: Snack
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 bars
Ingredients
  • ½ cup organic brown rice syrup (Suzanne’s Specialties Genmai Rice Nectar recommmended)
  • ⅓ cup organic almond butter
  • a few grinds Himalayan sea salt or a large pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil (optional)
  • 1½ cups crispy brown rice cereal (One Degree or Erewhon brands recommended)
  • ½ cup organic green pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
  • ¼ cup organic raisins
  • 1 tablespoon dulse flakes
  • 1 tablespoon unhulled sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 piece parchment paper
Instructions
  1. In heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat brown rice syrup, almond butter, and salt over low to medium heat until bubbly and well combined. Remove from heat and stir in coconut oil if the mixture is too thick (depends on the brand of syrup you use).
  2. Add cereal, pepeitas, raisins, and dulse flakes to the almond butter mixture and fold in until well combined using a heat-proof rubber spatula or wooden spoon coated with a little coconut oil.
  3. Lay piece of parchment paper on a flat surface (large cutting board or countertop).
  4. When mixture has cooled to the point you can handle it without getting burned, and turn mixture onto parchment paper. Moisten fingertips with a little water, and press down into an even layer, about ½-inch thick. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and lightly press down.
  5. Using a sharp chef knife, cut into bars or squares.
  6. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days or refrigerate if storing more than a few days.

Be creative!

Be creative and try different combinations with what you have on hand. Some other ideas for add-ins to replace pepitas, raisins, dulse, and sesame seeds: sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, coconut flakes, slivered almonds, candied ginger, or chocolate chips (freeze ahead and make sure mixture is cool before pressing into the bars). You could also try tahini (sesame butter) in place of almond butter. 

Interested in learning more? I offer cooking classes on demand at my home or yours in the Austin area. 

And please drop me a line to let me know how your bars came out!

 

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)
 
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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.

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps

Grilled halibut in cedar wrap with sweet corn and salad

A new and easy way to make halibut– Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps. A big thank you to Fire & Flavor for providing me with cedar wraps to experiment with for Cook Love Heal. This is the first recipe I’ve created using the wraps and I thought it was amazing. Cedar wraps are really easy to use and impart the most delicious flavor.

Here are the steps to making grilled halibut in cedar wraps.

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Place halibut on cedar wrap and season with vinaigrette.

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Tie wrap with kitchen twine (provided with cedar wraps).

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Place cedar wrapped halibut on grill and cook 4-5 minutes per side depending on thickness.

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Remove from grill onto a clean plate and garnish with fresh basil.

 

Grilled Halibut in Cedar Wraps
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Seafood
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 cedar wraps with kitchen twine (Fire & Flavor brand recommended)
  • 4 4 to 6-ounce halibut fillets
  • unrefined sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass mint white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • a few sprigs Thai basil
Instructions
  1. Place cedar wraps in a glass baking dish or bowl and cover with water. Soak for 30 minutes or so.
  2. Preheat grill to about 350 degrees.
  3. Lightly rinse halibut fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Sprinkle fillets generously with sea salt.
  5. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together vinegar and oil with a pinch of salt.
  6. Place cedar wraps on a sheet pan or cutting board and wipe dry with a cloth. Place each fillet on a cedar wrap and drizzle each one with vinaigrette.
  7. Fold wrap over fish and tie closed with kitchen twine.
  8. Place wraps on the grill seam-side down first, and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side.
  9. Immediately transfer to a clean plate to catch the juices, which you can pour over the top after it is served.
Serving suggestions
  1. Serve with fresh corn on the cob and an arugula salad.

 

grilled halibut in cedar wraps
Enjoy!

Try other fish recipes from Cook Love Heal:

Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic

Brazilian Fish Stew (Mocqueca)

Crusted Halibut with Caper White Wine Sauce

 

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
 
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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

Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic

photo of baked wild salmon with rosemary and garlic

Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic is my go-to recipe for dinner parties and weeknight meals, as it is both easy to prepare and kind of gourmet. Make some basmati or jasmine rice, some vegetables and/or a salad to go with the salmon and you’ve got a complete meal! Besides being more flavorful and fresh-tasting than farm-raised varieties, wild salmon has a lot of health benefits because it contains vitamin B12, taurine, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D, and is high in protein.

Bake wild salmon at lower temperature to avoid drying out

My favorite way to make wild-caught salmon (like Coho or Sockeye) is to drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, then bake it at low temperature (about 320° F) until just barely cooked through (about 10-12 minutes for a 1-lb fillet). Wild salmon is lower in fat than farm-raised salmon (such as Atlantic or Norwegian) and seems to stay moisture by baking at lower temperature rather than roasting or grilling.

Wild salmon keeps well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator

Make a little extra wild salmon so that you can use it the next few days to top salads or add to homemade sushi rolls. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator so that it will stay fresh. As long as the fish has been salted, it should stay fresh for up to 2-3 days depending on the temperature of your refrigerator. Just check the salmon before you use it to make sure it still smells fresh (should not be overly fishy or bad smelling).

Use different toppings on wild salmon for variety

This recipe tops the wild salmon with sautéed garlic, rosemary, maple syrup, and sea salt. Get creative and use different toppings the next time you make salmon. Try making a fresh basil pesto (I make mine without cheese) and spread on the wild salmon after it is baked. Another super delicious topping is a “sesame butter” from The New Basics Cookbook which has toasted sesame seeds, sesame oil, unsalted butter, tamari or soy sauce, and scallion. What other toppings have you tried?

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Wild Salmon with Rosemary and Garlic
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entrée
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Salmon
  • 1 lb. fillet wild-caught salmon (such as coho or sockeye)
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • unrefined sea salt
Topping
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
  • a few pinches unrefined sea salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 320° F.
  2. Prepare topping ingredients first so it can be cooked while salmon is baking.
  3. Keep skin on salmon. Rinse and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Place salmon fillet in glass or metal baking dish.
  5. Coat both sides of salmon with a thin layer of olive oil, then sprinkle both sides with sea salt (about a teaspoon).
  6. Bake until white albumin protein show on the outside of the fish, or until cooked almost through when flaked with a fork.
  7. Remove from the oven and cover with foil until topping is ready.
  8. While salmon is baking, prepare topping.
  9. Heat up olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, small skillet or saucepan until shimmery. Turn to low and add garlic, rosemary, and sea salt. When garlic softens, turn off heat and add maple syrup. Whisk to combine and pour over cooked salmon. Return to the oven, if desired, for a minute or two or serve as is.

Watch this how-to video I made with Dr. Jonathan Shultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) about making Baked Wild Salmon with Fresh Rosemary and Garlic:

Baked Salmon Video

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Crusted halibut with caper white wine sauce

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!

Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil

Italian white bean soup

Soup is hearty, nourishing, and satisfying

Hearty and nourishing, Italian white bean soup is what you need to sustain you through a long work day, when taking care of children or nursing a baby, to refuel after a workout, or frankly anytime you want a satisfying meal. This plant-based soup is chock full of vitamins and minerals that are easy for your body to assimilate because all of the vegetables, beans, and sea salt are cooked together in a broth. Bean soups generally reheat well, so make a double or triple batch so that you can store some in the freezer and thaw it out for last-minute weeknight meals. I always add some fresh greens like baby spinach or kale when reheating my soup on the stove. It adds freshness and color to what would otherwise be a boring leftover meal.


Homemade or canned beans?

You can sub 2 cans of white beans for the homemade beans in this recipe, but it will not be as delicious. Homemade beans are truly wonderful, more digestible (when soaked, drained, and cooked with kombu) and flavorful than canned, but you do have to plan ahead. I usually soak a big batch of beans every week or two, and cook them until soft and season with sea salt. If you use a pressure cooker, it cuts down on the cooking time. I freeze whatever I’m not going to use in the next few days in quart-sized freezer bags. When it comes time to make a soup I thaw out a bag of beans instead of having to start from scratch. More detailed instructions on how to make beans from scratch are in my posts Homemade Black Beans and Macrobiotic-style Giant Peruvian Lima Beans.


Fresh ingredients are the key to a delicious soup

Choose ingredients that are fresh and full of life. If celery or carrots have gone limp, you can perk them up by cutting a little slice off the bottom of each vegetable and stand up in a quart-sized mason jar filled halfway with water. Within 30-60 minutes your vegetables should be rehydrated and ready to use. The last few years I’ve been growing fresh herbs in pots on my back porch. You can even put a little planter in a sunny windowsill if you don’t have a yard or porch to garden in. It’s amazing how much more delicious herbs are when picked right before you use them.


Learn how to prep veggies with skill and ease with my knife skills cooking video

Once you have a few knife skills under your belt it is so easy to whip together a big pot of soup. Check out my latest cooking video on how to slice and dice veggies for this soup here. In the video I show how to dice an onion into perfectly even pieces, how to slice a zucchini into half or quarter moons, how to dice carrots, and how to slice celery on the bias.

 

Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Italian, Macrobiotic, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • Beans
  • 1 cup dried organic white beans (cannellini, navy, or giant white lima)
  • kombu, 1” square
  • spring or filtered water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Soup
  • 1 small yellow onion or sweet onion, diced
  • pinch unrefined sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, sliced in diagonals
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in quarter moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock (Imagine brand no-chicken vegetable stock
  • recommended)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste
Instructions
Beans
  1. Sort, rinse, and soak the beans in spring or filtered water overnight. When beans are rehydrated, discard the bean soaking water.
  2. In medium pot, add beans and enough water to cover beans by about 2 inches and bring to a boil. Skim foam and add kombu. Cover, turn to low, and simmer until beans are tender. Season with sea salt and set aside. Alternatively, pressure cook white beans instead of boiling after skimming foam and adding kombu. Once beans are up to pressure with lid locked, turn to low and cook for about 15 minutes. Then turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally before opening up pot.
Soup
  1. In medium-sized soup pot, sauté onion with a pinch of sea salt in olive oil until soft.
  2. Add carrots, celery, zucchini, garlic, and rosemary, and cook a few minutes more.
  3. Add cooked beans and water or stock. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes, until flavors are blended.
  4. Add basil and season with more sea salt, if needed.
  5. Garnish with fresh parsley or other seasonal herbs and serve warm.
Variations
  1. Garnish with pieces of pan-fried dulse instead of parsley.
  2. When reheating, add a handful of baby spinach or kale.
  3. Make a large batch and freeze half to warm up later.
  4. Use chicken stock or chicken bone broth in place of the vegetable stock.
  5. Add 1 cup cooked shredded chicken for a heartier soup.

 

Watch these videos I made with Dr. Jonathan Schultz of Family First Chiropractic (Austin, TX) on making Italian White Bean Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil:

Italian White Bean Soup video:

 

Knife skills and veggie prep for Italian White Bean Soup video:

 

Related recipes on my blog:

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Giant Peruvian Lima Beans

Homemade Black Bean

 

Upcoming Classes and Workshops:

I’m teaching the kids’ cooking classes at Con’ Olio Oils and Vinegars shop in the Arboretum (NW Austin) this summer! Please check out the schedule here.

For the schedule of classes at my home in SW Austin, click here.

For private and group classes, click here.

Corporate team building workshops centered around cooking and wellness:

Check out my web site for corporate team building and contact me if you have a group interested in doing a workshop with me!