Garden to Table Salad

There’s nothing more pure than picking vegetables from your garden and making a meal from them. Organic in nature, homegrown vegetables are fresher and more flavorful than anything you’ll buy at the store.

The farm-to-table movement has exploded across the U.S., and that same concept can be applied to your own cooking. If you don’t have a garden or a friend with a garden, simply join a CSA to get locally-grown produce. Feel free to improvise based on what’s in season in your locale.

Garden to Table Salad

Ingredients:

> 2 cups homegrown lettuce, torn
> 1 homegrown cucumber, diced
> 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
> 1 large heirloom carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
> 6 ounces canned chickpeas, washed and drained
> 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
> 1 tablespoon olive oil
> salt and pepper

Instructions: 

In a medium bowl, mix together lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrot, chickpeas and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on plate and top with mozzarella.

Makes 1 serving.

Original recipe.

Caprese and Beet-and-Chickpea Focaccia Pizza

Homemade pizza is a fun meal to make since everyone can customize their pizza as they please. Since I wasn’t in the mood to roll out pizza dough or make it from scratch, I decided to make an easy pizza alternative using focaccia bread. The same can be done with flatbread, pita or any other bread product that can support the weight of cheese and vegetables.

I made a caprese version and a beet and chickpea version. I preferred the latter since the chickpeas added a different texture. Feel free to experiment with the toppings!

Caprese Focaccia2015-06-21 19.51.07

 

 

Ingredients:

> 1 package focaccia bread
> 2 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
> 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
> 3 small beets, sliced
> 8 ounces canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Preheat oven to broil. Slice focaccia bread in half and set with sliced half open.

For the caprese version, place mozzarella then tomatoes on top of focaccia. For the beet and chickpea version, place mozzarella, then beets and chickpeas on top of focaccia. Be sure to not pile too high with cheese and veggies.

Place in oven to broil for about 8 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

Makes 2 servings.

Inspired by Fitness Magazine.

Zucchini Noodles

In health magazines I often read about the healthy versions of comfort foods. While I’ve never been a huge spaghetti person, I’ve always wanted to try making veggie pasta. It looks so simple, refreshing and flavorful.

In the past I’ve made veggie pasta that doesn’t require a spiralizer such as raw zucchini lasagna, but last month I bought a basic spiralizer to experiment with new dishes. This recipe is a very basic recipe that relies on few spices and highlights the flavors of the homegrown veggies.

Zucchini Noodles

Ingredients:

> 2 medium zucchini
> 2 small heirloom carrots
> 4 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
> cilantro for garnish
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

Feed zucchini through spiralizer (I chose the Veggetti). Then feed the carrot through the spiralizer. Steam over boiling water for 2 minutes. Serve topped with cheese and cilantro and season with salt and pepper.

Makes 2 servings.

Original recipe.

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.

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

A couple weeks ago, I had a delicious meal at La Bodeguita del Medio in Palo Alto and was inspired by a simple yet flavorful salad. The Palmitos salad is composed of hearts of palm, frisee, avocado, red grapefruit, sugared walnuts and a lime vinaigrette. The combination of flavors was both refreshing and filling, so I decided to try to recreate the salad. It’s slightly different and combined with a recipe from Food & Wine — plus some of my personal touches. Not only is this salad delicious, it’s easy to throw together in the office, given that the ingredients are pre-cut.

Hearts of Palm and Avocado Salad

Ingredients:

> 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
> 2 persian cucumbers, cut into bite-size pieces
> 1 can hearts of palm, drained and sliced 1/4-inch thick
> 1 avocado, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
> 2 tablespoons roasted sunflower seeds
> cruciferous crunch collection from Trader Joe’s (includes kale, brussels sprouts and cabbage)
> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> 1 tablespoon lemon juice
> salt and pepper

Instructions:

In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, hearts of palm, avocado and sunflower seeds.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad, and gently toss.

Makes 2 servings.

Adapted from Food & Wine.