white bean, kale, and pasta soup with pesto and parmesan

IMG_4573I don’t actually like soup much. Sure, I like warm things with lots of flavors and textures, and sometimes, a soup falls into this category. But mostly, I don’t prefer a meal that is comprised entirely of the same thing (Read: split pea).

This soup was not that. It felt more like a broth-y pasta dish, earnest with vegetables and  crazy good with a dollop of pesto at the end. It’s also budget friendly, quick, and contains all three of my required meal components (vegetables, protein, carbs) in one tidy pot. You could easily make this GF by using brown rice noodles. You could omit the pesto and cheese if you’re avoiding dairy, but they were paramount in the deliciousness of this dish, so I would recommend against it.

Serves 4.

1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped small
1 large or two small carrots, chopped small
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 big glug white wine (if you must measure, it was probably 1/4 cup)
Bouquet garni (a small bundle herbs tied with twine; I used rosemary, sage, and thyme).
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I love this brand)
1 15-oz can white beans
Large handful curly kale, chopped small
6 oz orecchiectte or other small pasta
Parmesan or Romano cheese, for topping
Pesto, for topping
Olive oil, salt, and fresh pepper for cooking and seasoning

Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a stock pot. Add onions, carrots, celery and bouquet garni; season with a few shakes of salt and sweat until soft and beginning to take color, about 7 minutes. Deglaze with wine and add garlic. Add stock and beans, stir and turn heat down to medium low. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Check for seasoning, and adjust as needed. Turn heat up to medium high, and add kale and pasta. Using the pasta’s package directions as a guide, cook until pasta is al dente (this took me 10 minutes with small-sized orecchiette), stirring occasionally. You may need to add a bit more water or stock if the soup looks like it’s getting too thick. Ladle into bowls and top with a good dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of cheese, and a grind of black pepper.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

artichoke and palm heart salad with feta and tomatoes

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This salad was a product of an unplanned trip to Trader Joe’s to get supplies for Sunday lunch and dinner without a list. Or any kind of plan. And we were tired, and in a hurry. We came home with a random smattering of ingredients, all faintly Greek-ish. Not generally the setup for a meal I find worth writing about, but the salad that came from it blew my mind. It’s the sort of dish that is all of the good stuff — no sad bits left behind that you push around with your fork after the best parts are gone. You could eat this for lunch as we did, split it between 4 as a starter, or add protein (sliced hard-boiled egg would be great here, as would a soft-textured bean white bean, like cannelini or great northern) for a more substantial meal.

Recipe Notes: this salad came together so quickly, and we were hungry, so we did not measure ingredients (as we often don’t). The amounts and proportions below are estimates; feel free to adjust ratios to your liking.

Serves 2, generously, for lunch; could serve 4-6 as a starter salad.

Salad:
1 jar marinated hearts of palm, drained, patted dry, and sliced into coins
1 jar artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry, and quartered
5 oz heirloom cherry tomatoes, cut into halves — or quarters, if large (the multi-colored ones make this salad extra pretty)
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced in half
4 oz of feta, crumbled
A few handfuls of baby spring mix or arugula

Dressing (and an example of how I “measure”):
a glug of olive oil
a hearty splash or red wine or apple cider vinegar
a small spoonful of dijon mustard
a tiny squeeze of honey
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all salad ingredients but the greens and feta in a large bowl; drizzle dressing over top and toss. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve over a handful of greens per person and top with crumbled feta and more freshly ground pepper.

 

 

my favorite poke bowl

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In Kauai, they literally sell poke everywhere — gas stations, grocery store delis, Walmart — everywhere. I miss it. As we do not have quite as many poke opportunities in Tacoma (although Sam Choy’s Poke to the Max is great, if not a bit expensive), I’ve been making my own. It’s incredibly fresh, light, and honestly — dead simple to make once you’ve gathered the ingredients. It’s also not terribly expensive if you consider the low cost of the accompaniments.  You can serve it as an appetizer or as a light main, and it’s also delicious scooped up with tortilla chips (omit the rice). I am not going to pretend that my way is the most authentic, traditional, or even the most common — I make it the way we like to eat it, served atop a pile of brown “sushi” rice and with a drizzle of chili-spiked mayo and plenty of sesame seeds. Feel free to adapt as you like.

Notes: You absolutely need sushi-grade tuna for this recipe. We buy ours fresh from Northern Fish Co., and are lucky enough to have many other awesome seafood purveyors in the PNW to choose from. If you are not in an area where fresh tuna is available, I would recommend trying a specialty grocer like Whole Foods for flash-frozen sushi-grade fish. 

Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a starter

For the poke:

  • 1 lb sushi-grade ahi tuna (look for tuna that is bright red, firm, and smells fresh), cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil, or more to taste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced into small cubes
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into juliennes or very fine matchsticks (easiest with a mandoline slicer)
  • 1 bunch (approx. 5-6 stalks) green onions, sliced thinly up through the light green parts
  • 1 medium avocado, cut into cubes

For the sushi rice:

  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Toppings:

  • 2 tbsp black or white sesame seeds, or a combo of both
  • Chili-spiked mayo (add a splash of sriracha or rooster sauce, plus a healthy splash of rice vinegar, to 1/4 cup mayo)

Cook rice according to package directions. When rice is done, add vinegar, honey, and salt; stir gently to combine. Allow to cool a bit (at room temperature) while you prepare the other ingredients.

Toss cubed tuna with sesame oil, soy sauce, and green onions; taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Let tuna rest, covered, in the fridge for about 15 minutes (but not longer than 30).

Layer bowl with a scoop of seasoned rice (it’s alright if it is still slightly warm), a handful of the cucumber, a scoop of the poke, and half of the avocado (if serving two). Add shredded carrots, drizzle with chili mayo, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

This recipe does not keep. We never have any problems finishing it all — I trust you can do the same.

white chicken chili

We make this ‘chili’, which is really more of a thick soup, at least twice a month (a lot for someone who rarely wants to cook the same thing twice, ever). It hardly resembles chili; I think you could liken it more to a faux-mexican chicken tortilla soup minus the tomatoes. We find it completely delicious, easy, and inexpensive. It’s also gluten and dairy free (depending on your topping choices).

Adapted from The Food Network

Recipe notes: mashing half the beans is key here to making a soup that is thick and rich (but is absent of that gloppy, glue-like texture that can come from adding either flour or cornstarch); don’t skip this step. Also, I find adding about a half of a de-seeded and de-pithed (the white ribs) diced jalapeno added just a tiny bit of heat; if you like spicy, add more. 

Ingredients

2 (14.5-ounce) cans white beans
2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1/2 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 4.5-oz cans mild diced green chilis
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin (we enjoyed 2 tbsp)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 lb chicken thighs (chicken breasts will work in a pinch but I would recommend stovetop cooking or the shorter/higher temp cook time with the slow cooker; they tend to get stringy if cooked longer)
Toppings: diced avocado, shredded cheddar, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, cilantro

Directions

Heat oil in large skillet to medium high heat; add in onions and jalapeno and saute, stirring occasionally, until onions are transparent and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Add garlic, green chiles, and cumin, cook 1 minute longer, stirring constantly, and remove from heat.

Slow cooker directions: dump everything into your crock, including the onion/pepper mixture, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 4. When chili is nearly done cooking, open crock and shred chicken with two forks — it should shred easily. If it seems too thin for your liking, leave the lid off for 20-30 min on high to thicken.

Stove top: dump everything into a large stock pot, including the onion/pepper mixture, and stir to combine. Cover and cook on medium low (enough to maintain a simmer) until chicken is cooked and very tender, about 1 hour (or less — I haven’t tried it on the stovetop yet!). Shred chicken with a fork (you can do this in the pot or remove chicken, shred, and put it back in); if soup is too thin for your liking, leave the lid off for another 20 minutes on medium high to thicken.

Top however you like and enjoy.