Pea-Walnut Puree

Once a month, I help out with the culinary demos as a volunteer with CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture). Renowned chefs and cookbook authors come to share a recipe — and samples — with the public, and as a volunteer, I work alongside them to prepare the recipe.

A couple weeks ago Sascha Weiss, the executive chef at The Plant Cafe in San Francisco, prepared a delicious chickpea panisse with roasted asparagus, maitake mushrooms and pea-pistachio puree. The entire dish was flavorful, but the puree in particular inspired me to start making more purees and spreads at home. They’re quite simple yet add a refreshing new element to my go-to meals. This pea-walnut puree is my rendition of Weiss’ pea-pistachio puree and tastes delicious atop roasted vegetables, salads, you name it.

Pea-Walnut Puree Pea-Walnut Puree

Ingredients:

> 1 cup peas, steamed
> 1/2 cup walnuts
> 2 tablespoons lemon juice
> lemon zest from 1 lemon
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add water until the puree reaches a consistency that is spoonable.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from Sascha Weiss of The Plant Cafe Organic.

Roasted Cauliflower Steak with Quinoa

Vegetarians rejoice because you can have steak too — it’s just a different kind of steak. I’ve often read cauliflower steak recipes and thought It sounds so simple, yet the presentation is of restaurant caliber. This rendition uses all parts of the cauliflower to make a cauliflower puree that’s simple yet elegant.

Cauliflower Steak with Quinoa

Ingredients:

> 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch thick “steaks”
> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> salt and pepper
> 1 cup quinoa
> 1 leek, rinsed and sliced
> 1 clove garlic, chopped

Instructions:

Cook the quinoa in 2 cups water over simmering water, until cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small pan and roast the steaks on each side until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the cauliflower puree, cut the remaining cauliflower ends including the stalks into small florets and blanch until tender. Preheat oven to 350°F and spread florets on a baking sheet. Cook for about 15 minutes.

In a medium pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Saute the leek and garlic. Add the cauliflower florets and season with salt and pepper. Cook until cauliflower is tender. Puree mixture in a blender until smooth.

To assemble the dish, fold together quinoa and 1 cup cauliflower puree in a medium bowl. Place a bed of the quinoa mixture and top with a cauliflower steak on each plate. Garnish with roasted vegetables.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from The Wall Street Journal.

Caprese Quinoa Bake

While I love the flavors of pizza and pasta, I’m not always in the mood to eat that many white carbs or order an entire serving. Plus, Italians love their large pasta dishes and “single-serve” pizzas are often more appropriate for two. This recipe brings Italian flavors to a dish with whole grains and less cheese than your classic pizza or pasta. It’s easy to cook and makes great leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day.

Caprese Quinoa Bake

Ingredients:

> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> 15-ounce tomato sauce
> 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
> 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
> 1/2 teaspoon oregano
> salt and pepper
> 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
> 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
> 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze

Instructions:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic salt and oregano. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes are tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in cooked quinoa and cheese.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly coat a 8×8-inch pan with olive oil. Add quinoa mixture to prepared baking dish. Bake about 10 minutes. Top with a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

Makes 4 servings.

Adapted from NatureBox.