I had the most fantastic time in Dallas this past weekend! I spent lovely quality time with my daughter, and I enjoyed getting to know her sorority sisters and their moms. We had a very full weekend with lots of good food, karaoke (no comment!), yoga, and shopping for everything from mattresses to paleo snacks to new clothes for her to wear to her internship this summer. Believe people when they tell you that kids grow up too fast!
I love summer rolls — crunchy, fresh, and flavorful all wrapped in a delicate rice paper wrapper. Summer rolls are one of those things I never thought I could make at home. The wrappers, the rolling, the sauce! Not only are they way easier than I imagined, but they can be quite the nutritious dish to boot. Filled with loads of raw veggies and herbs, a summer roll is like a salad all wrapped up in a neat little package. In the video above, I go a pretty traditional route with avocado, cabbage, carrots and herbs, but also I use less traditional roasted sweet potato sticks and shredded Brussels sprouts. Rice paper is so neutral. Who says you couldn’t put a cobb salad in there or poached chicken, corn, cabbage and barbecue sauce? I say the sky’s the limit and can we talk about perfect these would be for school lunches?! Per-fect!
If you want to make these in advance, cover them with a damp paper towel and refrigerate for ideally up to one day, but I’ve even kept them 2 or 3 days.
8 (8-inch) rice paper rounds, plus additional in case some tear
1 large sweet potato, (peeled if desired) and cut into ¼” matchsticks
unrefined coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
sea salt and black pepper to taste
4 medium brussels sprouts, thinly sliced or shredded
¼ head of small red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
2 medium carrots, shredded, grated, or julienned
1 large avocado, cut into thin slices
handful each of fresh mint leaves, basil leaves and cilantro leaves
Other possibilities: cooked shrimp, chicken, tempeh or tofu, cooked rice noodles
To make the sauce: whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl or a glass jar and set aside. *
To make the summer rolls: Drizzle the sweet potatoes with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven for 18-20 minutes until tender.
Fill a shallow baking dish or a skillet with warm water. Soak 1 rice paper round (make sure there are no holes) in warm water until pliable, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove from the water and transfer to a plate or cutting board.
Spread 2 teaspoons of peanut sauce on the rice paper (or omit and use as a dip once rolls are assembled) and top with 2-3 large mint leaves, 1-2 large basil leaves, a pinch of cilantro leaves, a
pinch each of the Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and carrot, a few sticks of sweet potato, and a couple of avocado slices, taking care not to overstuff. Roll up rice paper tightly around filling, folding in sides and continue rolling.
Transfer summer roll to a plate and cover with dampened paper towels.
Make the remaining rolls in the same manner. Serve rolls halved on the diagonal.
Store in the fridge covered with a damp paper towel 2-3 days.
* Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature and re-emulsify before using.
You are going to have so much fun making these summer rolls!
I just had to squeeze in this last recipe before Easter (and Passover) in the hopes that some of you are still looking for inspiration! I taught this salad all last month in my classes and it was THE salad I seemed to make all the time last year when I had people over for dinner in the spring. Spring is the operative word here since there is no mistaking in what season this salad lives. I mean just look at it! It is everything spring should be — bursting with lightness, color and a breath of fresh air! And full of veggies that come into being in the spring. Plus it’s beautiful and it will go perfectly with whatever you’re making. Leg of lamb, perfect. Baked ham? Perfect. Roast chicken or fish. Perfect.
The key with this salad is the balance of textures and colors. You want to keep everything somewhat delicate which is why I love Bibb or Butter lettuces. I found this beautiful red-leaf butter lettuce at my farmers market and used it for every class. But then you need to do your best to slice all the hard and crunchy stuff as thinly as you can, again to keep things light. I used my food processor to thinly slice the cabbage, carrots and radishes. If you have a 2mm or 1 mm slicing disc for your Cuisinart, I would use that. My new Breville has an adjustable slicing disc, so I turned it to just under 1 mm. I especially like bitter vegetables like radishes to be on the thin side. If you don’t have a food processor and your mandolin scares you (I don’t blame you), then just get out your sharpest knife and do your best. You can even do matchsticks for the radishes and grated carrots.
See if you can find beautiful heirloom carrots in purple or yellow and watermelon radishes like the ones here which are so dramatic! I was able to find such carrots at my farmers market as well as Trader Joe’s. My Whole Foods has had these radishes for the last three weeks. Stunning! They will make you look so good. Your family and friends will be so impressed with whatever dish is graced with sliced watermelon radishes! Truth be told however, my favorite component of this salad is the fresh chives. Light, grassy with a very mild onion flavor, chives are like the most delicate green onions. I just love them in this salad and others, too. You know how much I enjoy shallots in my salad dressings, but I don’t add them here because the shallots offer enough of that flavor. Even if you don’t make this recipe, consider adding chopped fresh chives to your next salad. I know you won’t be disappointed!
You can do so much with this salad including adding feta, mint leaves, walnuts, avocado, oranges or kumquats. There’s plenty of dressing for you to add in any of these. Speaking of dressing, since there’s nothing in this one that can spoil, feel free to make this well in advance. I’m sure it would do just fine in the fridge for 2 weeks. It will firm up though because of the olive oil, so remember to pull it out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before you wish to serve it.
I hope you have a beautiful holiday, shared with the ones you love! xoxo
I teach five recipes in a typical cooking class and there’s usually a dark horse in there — a dish that no one is expected to be wowed by, but ends up being the surprise hit of the menu. Case in point is this recipe for roasted cabbage wedges, which everyone went crazy over and I heard multiple times, “I wasn’t thinking this was going to be anything special, but I love it!”
First of all, no one is ever wowed by cabbage, sadly. I am a huge fan of the whole cabbage fam, and wrote about it in one of my recent Friday Favorites posts. It’s such a nutritious, VERSATILE, inexpensive, and delicious veg which is grown domestically all year round. Most people think cabbage and think cole slaw, which is fine but there are many, many more delicious (and healthful) ways to enjoy cabbage.
Roasting cabbage will change your mind about this under-appreciated vegetable. It has become my favorite, and my family’s favorite, way to eat cabbage. Even Mr. Picky, my now 11-year-old son, likes it! That is cause for celebration here because there are very few cooked vegetables he likes. And even more reason for me to share this recipe plus this could not be easier to make.
Even though I call these “wedges,” I know they’re more like slabs. But the word “slab” is really unsexy and possibly a turn-off, so I had to do a little creative marketing here. When cabbage is roasted, it becomes very mild and sweet, almost buttery. If you’re lucky, the edges will get a little crispy and kind of smoky. For my family, I just serve the cabbage roasted as is, but I did teach this in my class with a lemony-mustard drizzle just for fun. I’ve also seen images on Pinterest and elsewhere where people take the roasted cabbage and separate the layers and make it feel like noodles. So clever!
I prefer to use a saturated fat like coconut oil when I cook at higher temps (like 400 degrees) because it doesn’t oxidize and create free radicals like an unsaturated fat does, like olive oil. I don’t think the cabbage tastes like coconut AT ALL, but coconut oil just makes the cabbage taste sweeter. I am in love with coconut oil-roasted veggies like sweet potato, winter squashes, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli. Give it a try sometime. If you are allergic to coconut oil or you just detest it, feel free to use olive oil in an equal amount. Roast these babies up and serve them with basically anything — poultry, fish, rice pilaf, cauliflower mashed potatoes and so on. It’s the perfect comfort food that won’t weigh you down and likely to fit into your January resolutions!
Nothing is as comforting to me as a one-pot, hearty meal in a bowl. I love substantial soups and stews, especially ones with beans or legumes. I very often make soups on the weekend for lunch or for a Meatless Monday dinner. They also make a fantastic school lunch for the kids the next day. This black bean and pumpkin soup is P-E-R-F-E-C-T for a chilly fall day, especially on Halloween if you want to send everyone off with a filling, warm meal. This is almost like a chili because of the beans and the small amount of cumin and oregano, but not quite as thick. My favorite ingredient in here is the pureed pumpkin which gives the soup a little body. So much nutrition in one bowl!
This soup is a really easy one if you use canned pumpkin and canned beans. I’m so glad more manufacturers are responding to our desire for BPA-free products. There are more and more companies who are using cans without BPA. That is particularly relevant to this recipe because I know you can find organic pumpkin puree in BPA-free packaging by a company called Farmer’s Market or by Pacific Foods and organic black beans in BPA-free cans by Eden organic. A gentleman behind the customer service desk at Trader Joe’s told me they don’t use BPA in their cans, except canned tomatoes. I haven’t verified this yet with the company, but I am excited if that’s the case!
Also exciting is the fact that for the first time in a loooong time, I have Mr. Picky’s Halloween costume ready to go. This never happens in our house quite this early, as in a week before Halloween. Poor kid one year made a Batman costume the night before out of grey baseball pants and an cape from an old zombie costume of his sister’s. This year he is going as a punk rocker complete with wig and (temporary) nose ring. All of his costumes must involve eyeliner or face paint and this year will be no exception. My girls are not trick-or-treating this year. I think the novelty has worn off. That and my husband said there will be no teenage children of his trick-or-treating without a costume. I agree — way lame.
Ideally the girls will stay safe at home with a few friends and a pot of black bean and pumpkin soup on the stove and enough in their bellies that they only feel the need to eat a couple pieces of candy and not a basketful. Believe me, I am not the party pooper you might think I am. I know full well that on Halloween night, Mr. Picky will take all of his candy and hoard it behind the extra towels underneath his bathroom sink. I leave them there without letting on that I know his little secret. Until Valentine’s Day when I need to make room for the fresh loot.
4 ½ cups cooked black beans or 3 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed (click here for how to cook beans from scratch)
½ cup cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 ¾ cups pumpkin puree or 1 15-ounce can (not pumpkin pie filling) (click here for how to make pumpkin puree from scratch)
2-3 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
2 ½ cups vegetable stock, chicken stock or water
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add the carrots, celery, cabbage, cumin, oregano and cayenne* and toss to coat with the oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for a couple minutes or until the vegetables no longer look raw.
Add the beans, cilantro, pumpkin puree, salt and pepper and stock. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until the vegetables are tender, about 18-20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
I have made this soup several different ways. If you want a little more heat, you can sauté a diced jalapeno pepper (do this in Step 1) and/or add a teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper (add this with the other spices.) If you want a little smokiness without the heat, add a teaspoon of smoked paprika with the other spices. You can also puree part of the soup for a thicker consistency. Lots of options!
I love salads and have since I was a kid. Give me a good basic vinaigrette and I will come up with the craziest salad combinations. Whatever I have in the refrigerator or the pantry is fair game. Quinoa, fresh herbs, sprouts, cooked beans, last night’s leftover vegetables, rice, whatever! I always try to wash a few heads of lettuce and make a vinaigrette on Sunday so that a delicious salad is only minutes away any day of the week.
The only tricky part about salads is making sure you’ve got good seasonal produce to work with. Lettuce is grown all year round in California, but tomatoes and cucumbers are not. So my winter salads tend to focus on things like avocados, fennel and citrus fruits. But I also love making winter salads with a base of something other than lettuce, such as kale or cabbage which are super fabulous at this time of year, and might I add super nutritious!
Dr. Mark Hyman just came out with a new book called The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. I am a huge Dr. Hyman fan! I love his message about keeping blood sugar balanced, and I also followed his 30-day blood sugar challenge last year which had great health tips every day. I haven’t had a ton of time to really get into the new cookbook, but I immediately made the Asian Slaw since I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. Yummers!
Cabbage is one of the most affordable and nutritious vegetables. It has loads if fiber, Vitamin C and beta-carotene which aids in tissue repair. It can also help to protect against tumors and inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. Another benefit, especially at this time of year, is that cabbage can stimulate the immune system. All good stuff!
This slaw is very easy to make provided you have a good sharp knife so you can slice the cabbage thinly. It’s a nice change of pace from typical mayonnaise-based slaws (not my fave.) If you don’t have a nut-free house, definitely add the cashews as that was my favorite part of this salad. Otherwise, try toasted and salted sunflower seeds. It was great paired with a piece of simply roasted fish and baked sweet potatoes. Leftovers were still delicious the next day with a quinoa, sugar snap pea and cilantro salad. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, cabbage will be really cheap, so stock up and cook up some news ways to enjoy this tasty and versatile veg!
½ bunch (about 1½ oz) fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 2 limes
½ cup chopped roasted unsalted cashews (I used roasted salted.)
Place all the vegetables in a large serving bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, olive oil, scallions, cilantro, and lime juice, and season to taste with salt.
Pour the mixture over the cabbage and toss well.
Let the slaw sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Garnish with cashews before serving. Any leftovers can be stored in refrigerator for up to 4 days.
I felt as though it could have used a little more dressing, so I would add the dressing to most of the cabbage and then add more cabbage until you feel as though you have the balance of cabbage to dressing that you’re looking for.
Very often I have an idea for a recipe and it takes me a few times to get it right. In fact, usually it takes me more than a few times! But once in a blue moon, I try something on the fly and I love it on the spot, like culinary love at first bite. That’s what happened with this salad. Last year I was putting together a Mexican-inspired menu for my April classes and I was trying to think of a fresh and easy salad to teach. I wanted something clean and healthful with all the ingredients I love to use when I make Mexican food, but without it tasting like a taco salad. I happen to adore chopped salads, so off I went with crisp romaine lettuce, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, pinto beans, avocado and my favorite part, toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds.) I made a very light dressing with apple cider vinegar, orange juice and enough cumin to give it that south-of-the-border flavor.
On that day of recipe testing at home last year, I nearly ate the entire salad. Whereas this salad may not win any awards for sophistication, what in the world is not to love? Not only does this salad look gorgeous, it is addictive and crunchy and juicy and creamy. You know how I love a crunchy-creamy combo. Since then, I have made this salad virtually every time we were invited to a pot luck or backyard barbeque. The beauty of this salad, besides being a giant bowl of antioxidants, vitamins and fiber, is that it can prepped almost entirely in advance. Chopped veggies go into a serving bowl with dressing in a jar and avocados to be cut just before serving. If you’re vegan, vegetarian or if you’re like me and you’re going to a party where you fear there might be non-organic meat, I think this can easily be a main course salad on it’s own. The pinto beans and pumpkin seeds offer more than enough protein. Although my husband is a bit of a carnivore and loves this salad with grilled chicken chopped in. Shrimp works great, too.
Fast forward a year later when I taught this salad again a few days ago. My assistant and I each grabbed a bit in a cup to go and crunched our way home, wishing we had had bigger cups. I know you’ll love this salad just as much as I do.
If you’re looking for more Cinco de Mayo inspiration, check out these favorites:
3 Tablespoons raw unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
1 ¼ teaspoons fine grain sea salt + additional to taste
a few grinds of black pepper
1 Tablespoon raw honey
½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
1 head butter or romaine lettuce, chopped, about 8 cups
2 cups chopped red cabbage
1½ cups or 1 15-ounce can cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups diced cucumbers (I like Persian), unpeeled, large seeds scooped out
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 small avocados or 2 large, pitted, peeled and cubed
½ cup pepitas – toasted in a dry skillet and drizzled with ½ teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt
Make the dressing: whisk first five ingredients in a small bowl. Add olive oil and whisk completely until emulsified. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Combine lettuce and cabbage in a large bowl. Add pinto beans, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. Drizzle a little dressing on avocados and gently mix into the salad. Sprinkle pepitas on top. If you have additional dressing, save in the refrigerator for another time.
There's enough dressing that you can probably add a bit more cabbage or other veggies.
If you cut back on the oil by about 2-3 Tablespoons, the dressing makes a great marinade for grilled chicken or shrimp. Both would be nice on top of the salad, although there is adequate protein from the beans and pepitas.
I really don’t think anyone needs another way to get pasta into his or her diet, or peanut butter for that matter, but I can’t help myself here. I taught this Asian noodle salad in a class last year and I still haven’t tired of it. However, the pasta in this dish isn’t just your run-of-the-mill white flour spaghetti, which you certainly don’t need to eat any more of than you already do, but soba. Soba noodles are a Japanese pasta made with buckwheat. Most of the soba noodles I see in the markets are a wheat and buckwheat blend. But you can find ones made with 100% buckwheat, which is not a wheat at all, but a seed related to the rhubarb plant. Buckwheat also happens to be gluten-free, full of fiber and protein and contains a very cool compound called rutin which is helpful in lowering blood pressure.
If you are trying to limit your gluten, I would not only give you a pat on the back, but I would like to encourage you to try the all-buckwheat noodles. Let me just forewarn you of a few things. Be prepared for a much nuttier, more assertive flavor than a traditional noodle, almost earthy. I will say, it works perfectly with a peanut sauce. It is quite a bit more expensive, too, almost $8.00 for 8 ounces. But more importantly, it demands a bit of babysitting when you’re cooking it. There’s a gumminess that leaches into the cooking water that can foam up and overflow all over your stovetop in an instant. One minute you’re stirring your pot diligently but you turn to your daughter to say, “how was your test today?” and the next minute you have a volcanic eruption that puts out the gas flame on your stove. Not to discourage you or anything, I’m just saying this could happen to you if you’re not paying attention.
I love any recipe where I can work in a few more vegetables. Here I went the basic route with some Napa cabbage, a few shreds of purple cabbage and carrots because not much else is in season right now. But I have been know to add in raw red bell pepper strips and cucumber in the Summer and blanched asparagus and sliced raw sugar snap peas in the Spring (Mr. Picky’s favorite). If you’re like me and you don’t think cilantro tastes like soap, you can chop a few sprigs and add that, too. This makes a perfect dish to bring to a potluck since it can be made ahead of time and stays well at room temperature. Your lunchbox radar should be going off right now — perfect for school lunches provided your school allows peanut products. If you can’t eat peanuts, try this with sesame tahini or cashew butter instead. For a gluten-free version, again, look for 100% buckwheat noodles and wheat-free tamari instead of the shoyu.
Chinese New Year is coming up on February 3rd, so look out for a few more posts before then to get you in the spirit!
8-10 ounce package soba noodles (or noodle of your choice)
5 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1 large carrot, julienned
Other add-ins, according to the season: thinly sliced scallions, sweet bell pepper, julienned cucumber, sugar snap or snow peas, rehydrated arame (sea vegetable)
In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, peanut butter, shoyu, sesame oil, rice vinegar, maple syrup, fresh ginger and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
Place the shredded cabbage in a colander in the sink.
Cook the soba noodles according to the package instructions. Do not go check your email.
Drain the noodles into the colander with the cabbage, which will just wilt the cabbage so you don't have to blanch it in another pot and have an extra thing to wash. Rinse the noodles and cabbage with cold water and shake the colander to drain everything really well. This is important so the dressing adheres to the noodles.
Transfer the noodles and cabbage to a serving bowl. Add the carrots, dressing and any additional vegetables you like and toss well.