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Posts Tagged ‘easy’

Last week I decided to do something I rarely do . . . actually follow a recipe! I’m usually allergic to recipes, obsessively tweaking whatever I’m cooking up to make it a bit more my own. I suppose this comes in part from my years learning to cook while living overseas, where I always felt a bit too transient to invest in measuring utensils. Needless to say I’m not a great baker . . . but that’s another story.

Still, when I came across this recipe for Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree  from Michael Natkin’s awesome veggie site, Herbivoricious, I felt inspired to follow it as closely as possible and see what would happen. I got out my measuring cups and spoons, bought the correct ingredients, and whipped up something new and delicious. I served this with fresh fruit to start, a delicious beet tartar, and a good bottle of wine (Erath Pinot Noir, one of my faves). I might have had a special occasion to put together a meal like this. ;)

I learned a few new tricks while taking the time to follow this recipe but still made it my own by discovering some awesome ways to serve the leftovers. And I have to say, as fancy as this sounds, it was a snap to make. Even though the list of ingredients and steps looks long in this post, I probably put together this entire dish in a little over half an hour, including the cooking times. It’s impressive and easy. Go for it.

Pistachios

Pistachios (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree

Ingredients

Pistachio Puree

  • 2 cups unsalted, roasted pistachios
  • juice of one whole, medium-sized lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water

Roasted Asparagus (I guess I did adapt this part a tiny bit. The following is my version—check here for the original.)

  • 1 bunch organic asparagus spears, the fat kind, trimmed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • balsamic vinegar reduction
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted pistachio kernels, coarsely chopped
  • fresh tarragon leaves
roasted asparagus

roasted asparagus (Photo credit: elana’s pantry)

Directions

Pistachio Puree

I bought raw, unsalted, organic pistachios, so I needed to roast them myself. In order to do this:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F.
  2. Spread the pistachios in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Cook for about 10-12 minutes.

The nuts will be warm, chewy, and slightly brown when done. Yum.

Once the pistachios are roasted, combine them with the lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and half the olive oil in a vitamix. (The original recipe uses a regular blender, so don’t shy away if you haven’t yet gone pro with your blending utensils.)

With the lid on and at a medium-low speed, drizzle in the rest of the olive oil followed by the water. Blend until mostly smooth but not totally creamy—you’ll want a bit of texture here.

Once the initial ingredients are blended, you can tweak the flavor if needed. I added a bit more salt (I like salt.) and another pinch of smoked paprika, but overall, I didn’t feel the need to change much at all. Make sure to keep the puree covered, as the beautiful green will oxidize and turn brown on top, just like guacamole.

Roasted Asparagus

As soon as you take the pistachios out of the oven, turn up the heat to 400. Toss the asparagus with a bit of olive oil and salt, and roast on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes. (I served the asparagus in full spears because it looks pretty and that’s how it’s done in the original, but I found the spears a little tough to cut into. Next time, I might halve them before roasting and forget the fancy presentation.)

Once the asparagus is tender, turn on the broiler and cook until it becomes blackened in spots. This last step is important—the crispy asparagus heads and crunchy black bits add a great texture to the final dish.

To Serve

Spoon the pistachio puree onto a plate and place the asparagus on top. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over everything, drizzle with the balsamic vinegar reduction*, and garnish with fresh tarragon leaves. Add a bit more salt to taste.

*The original recipe calls for real balsamic vinegar or a reduction, and considering the price of the real stuff at Whole Foods, I decided to try my hand at a reduction. It worked perfectly, and I’ll definitely be making more. To make your own reduction:

  1. Pour a bit of balsamic vinegar into a small pot or pan.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add sugar—I think I used equal parts organic unrefined sugar and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Reduce to medium-high heat and continuously whisk the mixture until it reduces by half or just a bit more.
  5. Drizzle away!
Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree © 2013, Juniper Stokes

Roasted Asparagus with Pistachio Puree © 2013, Juniper Stokes

This recipe makes far more puree than you’ll need—after all, it’s basically a fancy nut butter. Luckily, it keeps for up to a week in the fridge and is so delicious you’ll be happy to have extra.

How we actually at the dish--I just piled all the asparagus on in a big messy heap! haha

How we actually ate the dish–I just piled all the asparagus on in a big messy heap! haha

Natkin recommends serving the leftovers with other types of veggies, such as raw endive or roasted cauliflower. I used a bit of my leftovers as a dip for baby carrots, and heated the rest up in the oven to make a hot dip for rice crackers and French bread. I highly recommend heating up the leftovers. The hot dip was gooey and yummy and rich—yet totally vegan. It would make a great pesto-like sauce for pasta, as well.

Enjoy!

Oh, and I did get a nice thank you for such an awesome dinner :)

my thank you for dinner :) ©2013, Juniper Stokes

my thank you for dinner :) ©2013, Juniper Stokes

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This creation combines one of my favorite foods–potatoes!–with one of my favorite flavor combos–tarragon and nutmeg. I came up with this recipe during a serious craving for comfort food, hence the potatoes (who doesn’t love hot, salty carbs?). Still, I like to at least pretend to be healthy . . . so, I used multi-colored French fingerlings for extra antioxidants and left the skin on for a vitamin boost. I combined the potatoes with all natural ingredients, and viola! A healthy (-ish), gourmet comfort food is born.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups fingerling potatoes
  • 2 Tbs butter (or olive oil)*
  • 2 Tbs half & half (or non-dairy substitute, such as hemp milk)*
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan (or 2 Tbs nutritional yeast)*
  • 1 1/2  tsp dried tarragon
  • 3/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • splash olive oil

*Vegan/healthier options

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly toss the fingerling potatoes with olive oil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until you can easily pierce them with a fork. (Alternately, steam or boil the potatoes until tender–the important thing here is just making sure that they’re cooked and soft).

Next, remove the potatoes from the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Mash the potatoes and stir in the remaining ingredients (leave out the nutritional yeast at this stage if you’re making the vegan version–it’s best served uncooked, stirred in right before serving).

Return the potato mixture to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes, or until the mixture is cooked through. You may want to top everything with a bit of extra parmesan at this stage ;)

Remove from the oven and serve!

twice-baked fingerling potatoes © 2013 Juniper Stokes

twice-baked fingerling potatoes © 2013 Juniper Stokes

 

 

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It may technically be spring now, but it still feels like winter here in Colorado (well, actually Colorado weather is weird, in the 70s one day and snowing the next . . . but that’s another story). Winter always makes me crave potatoes and other earthy veggies, so I’ve been taking advantage of the last of the season by indulging in some roasted root goodness.

Recently, I had a bit of fun getting creative with the colors of my root veggies, combining chioggia (or candy cane) beets, jewel yams, and purple potatoes for a stunning roast.

Rainbow Root Roast © 2013, Stokes

Rainbow Root Roast © 2013, Stokes

I tossed the veggies with typical roasting ingredients (olive oil, garlic, onion slices, dried herbs) and was left with a beautiful, delicious, and surprisingly healthy dinner–beets, yams, and purple potatoes all have higher nutritional contents than regular old white potatoes.

So go ahead, join me in upgrading your veggie roasts during the last of our cold weather!

Rainbow Root Roast

Ingredients

  • 1 large chioggia beet, chopped
  • 1 medium jewel yam, chopped
  • 2 medium purple potatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • olive oil, to coat
  • 1/2 tsp each dried thyme, rosemary, basil*
  • pinch cayenne (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

*There are no rules with spices and herbs–get creative!

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Chop the vegetables, coarsely slice the onion, and mince the garlic. Toss everything together with the olive oil and spices. Roast for about 45 minutes, turning the vegetables a few times to prevent sticking and maintain even cooking. When the root veggies are soft and slightly browned, remove from the oven and serve. Top with parmesan and a squirt of lemon juice for a bit of an extra treat.

That’s it! A recipe that is both easy to make and impressive to serve.

Enjoy!

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This tofu dip is awesome. Vegan, flavorful, healthy, easy . . . basically everything I love in a new recipe. Serve it with vegetable sticks, rice crackers, sweet potato fries, or whatever else you have on hand. Or realize it’s too delicious for its own good and just start scooping bites into your mouth, like I do ;)

Ingredients

  • 6 oz silken tofu
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tiny clove garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, minced
  • 1 heaping tsp umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil

Directions

Coarsely chop the green onion, garlic, and tofu, and throw everything in a blender or food processor. Viola! Dip is served.

Non-food processor version:

Sometimes, I’d rather make a lumpy dip than need to clean an extra kitchen item. Actually, this is true most of the time. If you feel the same way, try this version. First, mince the garlic and green onion to the best of your ability using a knife. Second, mush everything together until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Enjoy!

Ume-tofu dip

chunky-style ume-tofu dip*

*The recipe makes more than pictured. I just couldn’t help myself and ate half of it right away . . . .

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Our tomato harvest this year has been our most successful ever. It’s our first year starting the plants from seed with our new greenhouse, and the results have been amazing.

tomato time © 2012, Juniper Stokes

And can I just give a shout out to heirlooms?  I love the rich color variations, ranging from “tomato” red (haha) to deep violet. And the sweet, true tomato flavor completely spoils me. I don’t know how I’ll go back to store bought this winter (yes, I do try to eat seasonally, but I just can’t go 6+ months without fresh tomatoes).

With all these beautiful tomatoes to play with, I’ve been busy experimenting in the kitchen this year. One of my favorite new recipes is a very simple cold tomato soup that allows the pure flavors of the tomatoes to shine. The soup is packed with healthy ingredients, naturally rich, and completely vegan. With a bit of attention to ingredients, this summer soup can easily be made raw.

Tomato Summer Soup

Ingredients:

  • about 6 medium-small tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp agave*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil*
  • salt to taste

*Not all agave nectars and olive oils are raw, but raw versions are available. Try Xagave and Bariani olive oil.

Instructions:

The instructions are really pretty easy–put everything in a food processor and voila! I chop the tomatoes into fourths before blending, as well as the garlic. I recommend serving this soup in small bowls or cocktail glasses, as it really is rich.

tomato summer soup © 2012, Juniper Stokes

Variations:

I’ve also made this soup with a combination of basil and parsley, as well as extra garlic. With these ingredients, you can’t go wrong. A bit of parsley is delicious, and more garlic to taste only ups the health benefits.

For the raw foodies among you, I think this would make a great raw sauce for zucchini pasta.

Once again, enjoy!

 

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