Red Lentil Penne with Gorgonzola Sauce, Walnut, Apple, Mint

Red Lentil Penne with Gorgonzola Sauce, Walnut, Apple, Mint #glutenfree

Red Lentil Penne, Gorgonzola Sauce
Granny Smith Apple, Toasted Walnut, Fresh Mint

Gorgonzola, Granny Smith apples, and toasted walnuts have a particular affinity for each other. Here they are paired with gluten-free penne for a satisfying wholesome meal with higher protein, higher fiber, and lower net carbs. Explore Cuisine penne is made in Italy and comprised of only two ingredients: organic red lentil flour (73%) and organic brown rice flour (27%). Cool mint adds a note of freshness and counterbalance to the rich gorgonzola sauce while apple cut into allumette shape makes for a jaunty presentation.

Gluten-Free Red Lentil Penne Recipe

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Black Bean Spaghetti for the Whole Family #meatless #glutenfree

Black Bean Spaghetti for the Whole Family #meatless #glutenfree

Black Bean Spaghetti for the Whole Family

The nutritional facts are hard to believe, until one realizes that this spaghetti really isn’t pasta at all, but black beans masquerading as noodles.

Black Bean Spaghetti is made from 92% black beans and 8% water and has 25 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber in every serving. Generally, dried pastas have 5 to 7 grams of protein and 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving. Black bean spaghetti’s taste is mild while the tooth is delightfully chewy.

The whole family will benefit from organic noodles packed with higher protein and fiber, and lower net carbs. Cook the spaghetti about seven minutes then plate two ways: A buttery-cheesy “caterpillar” will appeal to the kids while black bean spaghetti topped with a complementary avocado mash and fresh salsa will be a big hit with the adults.

Black Bean Spaghetti Recipes

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One Ingredient Transforms Classic Greek Salad

Try Adding Sweet Peaches to a Savory Greek Salad

Classic Greek Salad with Peaches

In an ephemeral memory, I remember her disappointment when being served a Greek salad long ago at some swanky Chicago restaurant. It had all the requisite ingredients, but was composed with lettuce. Lettuce, she told us, was not supposed to be in a Greek salad.

With absolutely no Greek ancestry whatsoever, my wonderful mother was an ardent fan of Greek food. When she would return to Chicago to visit family and friends, dinner out with my Aunt Alice for Athenian chicken was on the top of her list.

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Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

Beautiful summer tomatoes and fresh basil are calling out for spaghetti. Spaghetti al pomodoro. But how can we make a refreshingly simple recipe of spaghetti with tomato sauce just a bit more interesting?  How, just give it a twist! Turn the pasta into a “caterpillar.”

And for more interest, exchange the recipe’s predictable pinch of red chili flakes with Korean chili threads, shilgochu 실고추, finely-sliced dried chilis that are reddish brown in color with smoky red pepper and fruity flavors, and a medium degree of heat. They are cooked in butter for about a minute to soften then tossed with the spaghetti, adding a vibrant accent to the dish.

Spaghetti al Pomodoro with a Twist

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Mandilli di Seta al Pesto {Handkerchief Pasta} #glutenfree

Mandilli di Seta al Pesto (Handkerchief Pasta) #glutenfree

~ Mandilli di Seta al Pesto ~
Silk Handkerchief Pasta with Creamy-Style Pesto
Edible Begonia, Basil, and Pecorino Romano Garnish

Imagine a pasta that is a gorgeous shade of olive green, higher in fiber and lower in net carbs than traditional noodles. One that is full of plant-based pea protein, organic, and gluten-free. My friends at Explore Cuisine make such an extraordinary noodle. It is produced in Italy of green lentil flour (50%), green pea flour, and brown rice flour.

Usually used for lasagna recipes, here the rectangular green lentil sheets stand in for handkerchief pasta in a beautiful mandilli di seta adorned with edible begonias. The basil pesto is an elegant creamy-style, unlike its more grainy rustic cousin. The method of plating mandilli di seta is also unique – pasta handkerchiefs are dipped in the pesto, coating the entire noodle with the dreamy sauce, then they are artfully folded onto the plate.

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Pretty Watermelon Gazpacho with Blackberries

Pretty Watermelon Gazpacho with Blackberries, Tomatoes, Edible Flowers

Pretty Watermelon Gazpacho with Blackberries

watermelon cubes, grape tomatoes, micro cilantro, nasturtium whorls
edible flower petals, celery leaves, fruity olive oil

I purchased the obligatory feta cheese, tangy Bulgarian Feta to be exact, to garnish my watermelon gazpacho. But when it came time to plate my chilled soup, I thought watermelon + feta is way too predictable and the homogenous pale red soup needed some extra visual pizzazz. Additionally, I wanted to serve a soup that would appeal to my #glutenfreevegan friends… enter blackberries, grape tomatoes, and edible flowers.

The soup recipe is quite intriguing – a balance between sweet and savory -a summery marriage of juicy watermelon and red ripe tomatoes. Spicy green chile, cool cucumber and pungent red onion round out the flavors while my beloved vinagre de jerez is the spark that gives gazpacho its unique character. Good fruity olive oil adds a rich mouthfeel.

Watermelon Gazpacho Recipe


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Chickpea Lovers Pasta e Ceci #glutenfreevegan

Chickpea Lovers Pasta e Ceci

Chickpea Lovers’ Pasta e Ceci
Oil Painting Version

Not in the mood to shop for dinner? Nor spend too much time in the kitchen? This ultimate pantry dish is tasty, healthy, and satisfying without a lot of prep. Pasta e Ceci is made from ingredients that are usually in the cupboard – dried pasta, canned chickpeas, canned tomato. And if you have a rosemary bush in the garden, even the fresh herb is handy.

Chickpea Lovers’ Pasta e Ceci

This is the “chickpea lovers” version – not only does it include whole ceci (chickpeas) plus blended ceci in the broth – the pasta from my friends at Explore Cuisine is made from chickpea flour loaded with protein and fiber. And it’s naturally lower-carb and gluten-free too.

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Pretty Petite Potato Salad, Vinagre de Jerez Dressing

Pretty Petite Potato Salad, Vinagre de Jerez Dressing with Grilled Okra, Celery, Peperoncini, Radish, Cucumber, Red Onion, Herbs and Edible Flowers

Pretty Petite Potato Salad, Vinagre de Jerez Dressing
Petite Red Skin Potatoes, Grilled Okra, Celery
Peperoncini, Radish, Cucumber, Red Onion

Herbs and Edible Flowers

Complex and assertive, Vinagre de Jerez turns up the music on ordinary potato salad. Chef José Andrés says, “…you add just a touch of (sherry) vinegar and you have this wonderful flavor that sparkles.” Vinagre de Jerez is one of just three vinegars in the EU from a designated appellation. Spain’s classification system, Denominación de Origen, regulates the quality and geographical origin of the product.

Okra is excellent grilled. (Use a grill pan so it doesn’t fall through the grates). The mucilaginous properties that make people say they “hate” okra are mitigated by quickly cooking over a hot fire. Combine grilled okra and petite red-skinned potatoes with lively peperoncini, peppery radish, crunchy celery and cool cucumber. Toss with a vivacious dressing and an array of complementary flowers and herbs for a show-stopping summer salad.

Vinagre de Jerez Dressing

Recipe for Vinagre de Jerez Dressing. Excellent with Potato Salad. #saladdressing

  • 1/4 c. good quality mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. yogurt
  • 1 T. vinagre de jerez
  • 1 t. dijon mustard
  • 2 T. fruity olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and fresh ground pepper. Thin with warm water so the dressing will make a smooth elegant coating for the vegetables (as opposed to a thick, gloppy mayo).

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Eat Flowers, Be Happy (Edible Flower Salad)

Edible Flower Salad with Wild Strawberries and Grape Tomatoes

Edible Flower Salad
Wild Strawberries, Grape Tomatoes, Chrysanthemum Greens
Texas Tarragon, Borage, Marigold, Lemon Thyme, Chive Blossoms

In honor of the first days of summer and the unveiling of a new category to my website menu, I present this EDIBLE FLOWER salad. A trip to one of our best local Farmers Markets, plus a stop at my favorite Korean supermarket, and a bit of foraging in my own garden resulted in a one-of-a-kind salad that just screams summer. Every ingredient has a purpose in the flavor/texture/color profile.

Wild strawberries and sweet little grape tomatoes have a particularly delightful affinity for each other. Their red color contrasts with the exotic greens. Radish brings peppery flavors while roasted sunflower seeds add salty flavors – eliminating the need for additional salt and pepper. Kimjaban, crunchy roasted seaweed takes the place of croutons while adding sweet and salty notes.

Dressing is not tossed with the salad mix, so the flower petals look fresh-picked and the seaweed retains its crisp texture. The dressing consists of three distinct high-quality oils – fruity olive oil, toasted sesame oil, and fiery chili oil that are balanced by aged balsamic vinegar. Using chopsticks, diners can coat the salad ingredients with the oils and vinegar. And they just may want to reserve a bit of the syrupy balsamic vinegar to pair with that last wild strawberry for a grand finale.

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Southwest-Style Shakshuka with Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

Shakshuka, the breakfast/lunch dish that originated in Tunisia that’s wildly popular in Israel, is a perfect brunch item. It is easy to prepare in a single pan but takes a bit more time than weekday fried eggs and toast. The skillet doubles as the serving dish, and makes a terrific presentation on the buffet.

This now-global egg and tomato skillet dish has many incarnations – made with a myriad of ingredients such as sausage, feta, bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and a variety of herbs and spices depending on geography and the seasons.

Epazote in garden

Inspired by my garden overflowing with epazote, I decided to make shakshuka with a Southwestern influence. Epazote is often paired with beans for its natural carminative properties. The saw-toothed epazote leaves give the shakshuka a unique aroma and flavor. I have fallen in love with this herb and its intriguing bouquet which is strangely reminiscent of, if you can believe it, kerosene. Here, spicy tomato sauce is simmered with pinto beans and epazote, then topped with eggs. Once cooked, the whole thing is garnished with avocado slices, cilantro and scallions.

Smoky charred corn tortillas and sour cream

It can be served on its own or as tacos with smoky charred corn tortillas and sour cream.

Southwest-Style Shakshuka (Eggs Cooked in Spiced Tomato Sauce) Avocado, Epazote, Pinto Beans

For the Memorial Day holiday, try this vegetarian shakshuka for brunch, and save the meat for a big barbecue later in the day.

Memorial Day

My Memorial Day

Every year at the end of May, it is our duty to honor those who have laid down their lives to defend our freedom and ensure our liberty. Simultaneously we celebrate Memorial Day weekend as the official start of the summer grilling season. So in addition to serving awesome grilled foods and refreshing drinks, we proudly display the American flag and observe a minute of silence at 3:00 PM to honor and remember those who have died in service to our nation. We turn on the television to watch the President lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and we listen with respect as a lone bugler plays the languid 24-note melancholy bugle call known as Taps.

“The solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”
Abraham Lincoln

“A nation reveals itself not only by the men it produces, but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
John F. Kennedy

“Memorial Day is a day of ceremonies and speeches. Throughout America today, we honor the dead of our wars. We recall their valor and their sacrifices. We remember they gave their lives so that others might live.”
Ronald Reagan

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