Mediterranean Pasta with Broccolini, Artichokes, and Fresh Basil

photo of Mediterranean pasta with broccolini, artichokes, and fresh basil on white plate

Mediterranean Pasta Dish Full of Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

This Mediterranean pasta dish is loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, like artichokes, zucchini, broccolini, tomatoes, fresh basil, and if you wish, olives or capers. If you’d like to make this into a complete meal, you can add some protein likes cooked chickpeas, cooked white beans, or chicken.

Winter Substitutions for Fresh Basil and Tomatoes

Although I often make Mediterranean Pasta with Broccolini, Artichokes, and Fresh Basil in the summertime when fresh tomatoes and basil are in season, it is also a nice holiday dish because of the vibrant colors. You can just substitute sun-dried tomatoes and parsley if tomatoes and basil aren’t available. Here is a brand of sun-dried tomatoes I like.

closeup photo of Mediterranean Pasta with broccolini, artichokes, and fresh basil

Italian Cooking Class at Con’ Olio this February

On February 5, 2020 I’ll be teaching an Italian coking class for Valentine’s. I hope you can make it! My cooking class calendar is listed here.

Mediterranean Pasta with Broccolini, Artichokes, and Fresh Basil
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces penne or bowtie pasta (Jovial brand GF variety recommended)
  • sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into half moons
  • 1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and quartered
  • 1 bunch broccolini, stems and flowers, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil), sliced or ½ cup baby tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas or cannellini beans or 1 cup cooked, cubed chicken (boneless breast or thighs)
  • spring or filtered water (if needed)
  • ½ cup fresh basil or parsley (chopped)
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, sliced (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed (optional)
Instructions
  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil with ½ teaspoon sea salt. Add pasta and stir with a wooden spoon. Bring back to a boil, then turn to medium low and boil for recommended time on package (about 8-12 minutes). Test for doneness a little before you think it’s ready to prevent overcooking. Drain pasta in a colander and rinse with a little cold water to prevent sticking. Set aside.
  2. Heat large sauté pan over medium heat for about a minute. Add olive oil, onion, and a generous pinch of sea salt. Sauté for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, zucchini, and artichokes and sauté a few minutes more.
  4. Add broccolini and sundried tomatoes and sauté about 1 minute, or until broccolini is bright green. If using fresh tomatoes, wait to add those in with the fresh basil.
  5. Add chickpeas or chicken and a splash of water, if needed, to prevent sticking.
  6. Add cooked pasta and gently stir to combine with vegetables.
  7. Turn off heat and garnish with fresh basil. Sprinkle with olives and/or capers if desired.
  8. Serve with a side salad.

 

pinterest photo of Mediterreanean pasta dish

Try some other Mediterranean/Italian recipes on my blog:

Fresh Arugula and Fig Salad with Citrus Dressing and Marcona Almonds

Italian Chickpea Soup with Fusilli Pasta

Raw and Grilled Zucchini Salad with Fresh Mint & Lemon

Caponata (Sicilian-style summer vegetables)

Almond-Orange Biscotti with Chocolate Drizzle

 

 

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

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.

Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds

Guacamole is one of my favorite dips of all time. There are so many versions of guacamole out there, but regardless of your recipe, the most important thing is that you use perfectly ripe avocados (not too hard, not too soft, and not bruised) so that your dip is creamy, bright green, and fresh tasting. The way I ensure perfect avocados is to buy large avocados when they are mostly green at least a week in advance. Ripen at room temperature until black on the outside and then refrigerate (so they don’t become too ripe) until ready to use.

Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds is my favorite way to serve guacamole during the holiday season, because pomegranates are abundant, the flavors go well together, and the colors are perfect for the holiday table. Take this dip to your next holiday gathering to go with tortilla chips, tamales, or vegetable crudité.

Guacamole with Pomegranate Seeds
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 large avocados, ripe
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, minced
  • ½ serrano pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
Instructions
  1. Cut avocados in half, remove pits and any bruises, and scoop flesh into a bowl. Mash with a fork until it is a chunky consitency (do not overblend).
  2. Gently mix in other ingredients.
  3. Adjust sea salt to taste.
  4. Put guacamole into serving bowl.
  5. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.
Note
  1. Umeboshi vinegar goes really well with avocado owing to its salty and sour tastes. However, if you don't have any, you can use more lime juice and sea salt in place of the umeboshi vinegar.

We’ll be making this at my upcoming Holiday Tamales Workshop in Austin this weekend. More photos to come!

Upcoming cooking classes with Chef Rachel Z in Austin, TX

7 Healthy Holiday Recipes from Chef Rachel Z

All recipes on chefrachelz.com

Please keep in touch!

photo of guacamole with pomegranate

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas

photo of polenta bowl with chickpeas and kale

I invited my former student Naomi Silverman, to contribute a recipe for my blog so that I could feature her work and let people know how awesome she is! She gave me this lovely recipe for a Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas. It is simple enough as is to make for a weekday lunch or dinner, but can be jazzed up for a dinner party with just a few additions–such as colorful quick ume pickles, a delicious tahini dressing, or some steamed, tri-colored carrots! Feel free to vary the beans, vegetables, or grains if you don’t have the same ingredients on hand, but keep in mind that the cooking technique for polenta is very different from other grains such as brown rice or quinoa (which steam rather than simmer). This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.

Creamy Polenta Bowl with Kale and Roasted Chickpeas
 
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
Chickpeas
  • 15-oz can or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
  • dash chili powder (chipotle or other)
  • 1 teaspoon untoasted sesame oil
Polenta
  • 1 cup dry polenta (coarse ground cornmeal)
  • 2 cups spring or filtered water
  • 2 cups soy milk or almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • dash black pepper
Kale
  • 1 bunch curly kale, tough part of stems removed and chopped into one-inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons unrefined coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons ume plum vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
Optional
  • 1 avocado, diced
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large baking dish or sheet pan, toss chickpeas with oil, salt, pepper, and chile powder. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring once after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Meanwhile, bring polenta and water to a boil, whisking frequently. As the liquid gets absorbed, stir in milk, little by little, until the polenta is smooth, creamy, and free of lumps, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. While polenta cooks, heat a large skillet, add coconut oil and diced onions, and sauté until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the kale and sprinkle on ume plum vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sauté for a few minutes until the kale is tender but still bright green.
  4. To serve, arrange all items in a bowl as desired and top with with diced avocado.

Naomi interned with me this year after completing her classroom hours at The Natural Epicurean. In the 10 years I taught there, I had dozens of amazing and talented culinary students intern with me. They assisted me in different aspects of my work, such as being a teaching assistant for my macrobiotic course or Ayurvedic cooking classes, assisting me with personal chef and catering work, testing recipes, or helping me create photos and videos for promotional materials. Naomi and I worked together for a few months this spring and came up with some beautiful materials for my web site and cooking class promotional materials. I am so grateful for her help, which came at a great time, when the cooking school had just closed and I was building my business and independent cooking classes. I miss working with Naomi now that her internship hours have ended, but hope we will get a chance to cook together again soon! Below is a video of us hard at work (and very well fed)!

Naomi has started her own personal chef business in Austin, Texas specializing in healthy, beautiful, plant-based (vegan) meals made with organic, locally grown produce. You can read all about her background, which includes an interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in Agriculture and Food Justice and a certificate in plant-based chef training from The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts. Let her know if you need her help with your next dinner party or weeknight meals!

photo of Chef Naomi SilvermanI’ll be teaching a class on Nourishing Buddha Bowls and Dressings on Jan 6th in Austin, TX. For class listings and to sign up for classes, please visit https://cookloveheal.com/book-a-class.

Cilantro-Lime Dressing with Pepitas

Here is one of my favorite salad dressings that I use on simple garden salads, buddha bowls, and even tacos!

Cilantro-Lime Dressing goes especially well with any dish including avocados, such as my Southwestern Summer Salad!

To get a smooth texture and beautiful green color, it’s best to make Cilantro-Lime Dressing in a blender.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Cilantro Lime Dressing
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Dressing
Cuisine: Southwestern
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, packed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon sweet white miso
  • 1 tablespoon umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamari, Eden brand recommended
  • zest of 1 lime
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • spring or filtered water
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients except water in blender until smooth.
  2. Add water one tablespoon at a time if a thinner dressing is desired.

Want to learn how to make delicious, healthy food while meeting new people? Chef Rachel’s current class schedule is available here. 

Homemade Black Beans

photo of black bean soup

I love homemade beans! Making your own beans from scratch has so many advantages over the canned varieties– the taste is superior, the cost is lower, you avoid packaging waste, they are more digestible, and you can freeze leftovers to use for soups, tacos, chili, or your favorite bean recipe. You’ll have a tough time going back to the canned variety once you’ve made a batch of homemade black beans!

I recommend making one variety of beans per week. They take some time to soak and cook, so make sure to soak at least 2 cups of beans each time. You’ll be able to use beans cooked in a basic way in a variety of recipes throughout the week, and can freeze whatever you can’t use right away for future meals. We love to keep a variety of beans in the freezer (stored in quart sized freezer bags), such as black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, and white beans to use in making refried beans, bean soups, or hummus whenever we like. What a deal!

Make sure to sort your beans before cooking them. This ensures you will not get a stray stone in your soup! You could actually break a tooth or damage a filling by biting into a tiny little stone. I like to sort about 1/2 cup beans at time on a plate with a contrasting color so it is easy to pick out broken pieces, stones, or other debris.

image of dry black beans being sorted

Soaking beans and then draining them before cooking helps decrease phytic acid by 60% (phytic acid is an anti-nutrient that decreases absorption of minerals). Skimming the foam off of beans while cooking and adding kombu and/or epazote further enhances digestibility.

image of black beans being skimmed

You may use this recipe for any type of bean, but you may wish to leave out the garlic, cumin, or cilantro for some types of beans, or depending on what you are going to do with them. Enjoy your delicious homemade beans!

Homemade Black Beans
 
Author:
Recipe type: Beans
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 cups dried black beans
  • spring or filtered water
  • 1” piece of kombu
  • 1½ teaspoons unrefined sea salt
  • 1 white or yellow onion, small dice
  • 2 tablespoona olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons organic ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for garnish
Instructions
  1. Sort and wash the beans. Soak the beans in enough water to cover beans by 2-3 inches of water for 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Pour off soaking liquid. Place beans in heavy pot and add enough water to cover beans by 1-2 inches.
  3. Bring to a boil, uncovered, skimming off the foam as if forms for the first 10 minutes or so of cooking.
  4. Add kombu, and simmer for an hour (or more) or until beans are soft. You may also use a pressure cooker to save time and aid in digestibility. After skimming foam, add kombu, and place lid on pressure cooker. Bring up to pressure, then turn to low. Pressure cook for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and let come down from pressure naturally.
  5. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in separate pan with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.
  6. Sauté until onions are soft and then add garlic cumin powder.
  7. When beans are soft, mix together the beans and sautéed onion mixture, and add sea salt. Simmer for another 15 minutes.
  8. Garnish with cilantro.
Variation
  1. Use 1 teaspoon dried epazote instead of or in addition to kombu to aid in digestibility.

 

 

Make Your Own Sushi Dinner Party!

One of my favorite meals to make with friends and family is make your own sushi. Everyone enjoys choosing their own fillings, being creative, and making their own custom rolls! Kids especially appreciate being able to build their own sushi roll because they know exactly what it is in it. So make your next gathering into a make your own sushi dinner party!

Step 1. Make your sushi rice.

I prefer white sushi rice, as it is lighter and goes with all fillings, although once in a while I make pressure-cooked brown rice for more hearty vegetarian rolls. Here is my fool-proof recipe for making sushi rice without sugar! Make sure the rice is not still hot when making a roll, so it doesn’t “melt” the nori sheet or making the fillings warm.

Step 2. Prepare your fillings.

I like to fold a nori sheet in half (with stripes going vertically) and cut filling ingredients to the length of the half sheet width. I usually slice ingredients fairly thinly so that I can put multiple fillings into each roll. Almost anything can go into a sushi roll, but you might try:

  • cucumber (deseeded)
  • spring mix (no need to slice)
  • carrots (raw, blanched, or sauteed)
  • sweet potato (sautéed)
  • avocado
  • edible flowers
  • red bell pepper (raw or roasted and peeled)
  • snap peas
  • fresh herbs- mint, cilantro, basil, shiso
  • mushrooms- shiitake, oyster, portobello (sautéed and seasoned)
  • tofu or tempeh (pan-fried and seasoned with shoyu or tamari)
  • pickles (red or green sauerkraut, red radish pickles, daikon pickles, etc.)
  • umeboshi paste
  • condiments- shiso powder, gomashio, ao nori flakes
  • toasted sesame seeds- tan and/or black
  • Dijon or whole grain mustard

Step 3. Prepare an awesome dipping sauce.

There are all kinds of sauces that go well with sushi, such as shoyu-ginger, wasabi mayo, and various spicy sauces. Try this simple and delicious recipe my husband created called insanely delicious miso dipping sauce or my sweet and savory almond butter dipping sauce.

Step 4. Make a 5-minute miso soup.

Use my basic vegetable miso soup recipe to make a delicious start to the meal. The soup can be warmed up at the last minute and garnished after serving in individual bowls.

Step 5. Prepare your sushi rolling station and roll your sushi!

If making hand rolls, you can all sit around a table and make one at a time from your seat. Watch my Facebook video for tips on making regular nori rolls and inside out rolls.

Each person will need:

  • A sushi mat and a little space to roll
  • A bowl of water to dip hands in and a hand towel
  • A plate to set their finished rolls

Have accessible for everyone to share:

  • A platter or two of fillings, pickles, condiments, and sauces
  • A stack of nori sheets (I usually use half sheets that I half myself) and/or soy wrappers
  • A cutting board and sharp knife for slicing sushi (link to Japanese veg knife)
  • Platters for displaying sliced sushi

For making a basic nori roll, lay the sheet of nori (i usually use a half sheet but you can also use a whole sheet) on a dry bamboo mat with lines on nori sheet going vertically. Wet hands in bowl of water and shake off excess. Take a handful of sushi rice (about 1/2-3/4 cup) and very gently spread out over the lower 2/3 of the nori sheet, all the way out to the edges. Do not put pressure on rice, as it can tear the nori sheet. The sushi rice will easily stick to the nori sheet without any pressing. Take several fillings and place horizontally over the rice on the lower 1/4 of the sheet (almost to the bottom). Start rolling the nori from the bottom, enclosing the fillings into the first turn. Keep rolling, using the bamboo mat for support, until you reach the part of the nori without rice. Dip your index finger into the water bowl and wet the edge of the nori to help seal the roll. Keep the roll intact until ready to serve. Slice just before serving.

Step 6. Set a beautiful table.

Place sushi platters on table and garnish with fresh herbs or edible flowers. Serve up miso soup into individual bowls and garnish with thinly sliced scallions or some fresh herbs. Have an assortment of drinks off to the side to sample such as green tea, iced green tea, warm or cold sake, or a crisp, dry white wine. Give everyone a plate, dipping sauce bowl, and chopsticks.

Enjoy your meal… Itadakimasu!  いただきます!


Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil

creamy butternut squash soup

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup… this is what talked me into becoming a macrobiotic chef! It is sweet, savory, comforting, and delicious! As a child, the only way I saw butternut squash cooked was in a baked casserole with sour cream, onions, and a corn flake topping. I didn’t like it. But when I tried this soup, I was in heaven! I have recently revised this recipe to include a long, slow caramelization of onion, carrot, and celery (mirepoix) at the beginning, which gives the soup a very sweet, complex, and delicious flavor.

By Pigup – I made the mirepoix at home and took a picture of it on my cell phone., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18688674

Creamy vegetable soups help stabilize blood sugar levels, so help prevent sugar cravings when eaten regularly. When using organic squash, there is no need to remove the skin. This makes it much faster to make, and adds beneficial dietary fiber. These days, finding food that is naturally sweet and nutritious is so important, to nourish the body while curbing cravings for refined sugar. I recently listened to a news story on NPR’s “Here & Now” about how the food industry engineers processed and prepared food items (including pasta sauce, yogurt, and other processed foods not thought to be “sugary”) so that they reach a person’s “bliss point.” Children are especially susceptible to getting hooked on these foods since they are naturally attracted to the sweet taste (which is needed for growth in mild, natural forms). Try making this soup for your children, and try substituting other vegetables for the butternut squash, such as carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, or sweet potato. It makes a great kids’ lunchbox item when carried in a thermos.

The only trick with making this soup is learning how to cut the squash without cutting yourself. You need a good, sharp chef knife and a large cutting board. I suggest trimming off the stem, cutting off the “neck” of the squash, then cutting the resulting pieces (neck and bulb) in half so that you have four pieces you can put down flat on the board. From there you can remove the seeds from the bulbous part of the squash and chop the squash into small pieces.

Enjoy this soup and try some of the variations suggested at the bottom of the recipe. They are all delicious!

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup with Fresh Rosemary and Basil
 
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Serve this soup at lunchtime to curb sugar cravings later on in the day. Or start your dinner meal with a cup of this soup to warm digestion and stimulate appetite.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Macrobiotic
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup carrot, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • 5 cups butternut squash, seeded and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 cups spring or filtered water or light vegetable stock
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, sliced thinly (chiffonade)
  • sea salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup organic pumpkin seeds, toasted, for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a 4-quart soup pot, sauté onion and pinch of sea salt in olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent.
  2. Add carrot and celery and another pinch of sea salt. Sauté another 15 minutes, until vegetables start to caramelize.
  3. Add butternut squash and rosemary and coat with onion mixture. Add enough water or vegetable stock to barely cover the squash (about 3 cups), cover, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cover. Simmer until squash is soft, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Puree with blender or immersion blender. If soup is too thick, add a little more water or vegetable stock. Season to taste with sea salt.
  5. Simmer on low heat for another 5 minutes.
  6. Serve in bowls and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.
Note
  1. If using vegetable stock, try to find one without tomatoes (such as Imagine brand Vegetarian No-Chicken Broth) or make your own, to avoid overpowering the flavor of the squash.
Variations
  1. Substitute kabocha squash for butternut squash. The color will be darker but it is very delicious.
  2. Substitute carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato, or sweet corn for the butternut squash.
  3. Use herbs and spices of choice instead of rosemary, such as thyme, basil, or fresh ginger.
  4. Roast butternut squash tossed in olive oil and sea salt in 425 degree F oven until soft. Add to sautéed onions and proceed with recipe.

Bon appétit!

 

Chocolate Coco Truffles

This recipe was inspired by my floral designer friend Amanda, who makes everything beautiful!

One year my daughter and I made these as holiday gifts for her teachers and garnished them with tiny basil flowers.

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You can also roll the truffles in cocoa, cacao, or carob powder or finely chopped nuts (like pistachios) instead of coconut flakes, as pictured in the cover image.

Chocolate Coco Truffles
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Raw
Serves: 12 truffles
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pitted dates, roughly chopped and packed
  • 1 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cacao powder
  • 1 cup unsweetened fine coconut flakes
  • extra coconut flakes, for rolling the truffles
Instructions
  1. Place the dates in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Strain the dates from the hot water (reserving liquid) and place in food processor along with chocolate chips and coconut oil. Pulse the ingredients until smooth. Add a little of the soaking liquid only if needed to blend.
  3. Sift the cacao powder into the medium mixing bowl and add coconut flakes.
  4. Scrape date mixture into the bowl with the coconut mixture. Using a spatula, fold ingredients together until well combined. Cover bowl and refrigerate 30-60 minutes.
  5. Once the mixture is cold, roll into balls working quickly so the chocolate does not melt and roll evenly in the remaining coconut.
Variations
  1. Roll truffles in sifted cocoa, cacao, or carob or finely chopped nuts insead of coconut flakes.
  2. Place rolled truffles in an airtight container in refrigerator to set.

 

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Enjoy making these treats for your friends and family this holiday season!

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rachel@cookloveheal.com

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