Mushroom Veggie Chili Recipe

If you didn’t notice that Thanksgiving is basically around the corner, I am here to remind you!  I am teaching a Thanksgiving bootcamp starting next week (!) which will get you so prepared, you will actually be EXCITED and LOOKING FORWARD to hosting and enjoying the Thanksgiving of your dreams. For my community, I always like to entice you with a good discount.  Take $100 off with code TDAY100.  You don’t have to watch live. I have payment plans available. You don’t have to use PayPal. You can watch the videos over and over and over again. You can ask me any and all questions.  I’m like your personal Thanksgiving consultant until the day of. Menu suggestions, how to deal with different types of eating styles, limited resources in the kitchen, no oven, how to deal with the worst in-laws ever.  Just kidding!  Sign up today.  We are going to have so much fun and you’ll be able to use these tips and systems forever!Continue reading

Skillet Pesto Chicken and Rice Recipe

It’s the perfect time to try a new one-pot meal!  September is like the New Year, in a way.  And I am back into a cooking routine, but I want to ease back into it.  This recipe is a twist on my favorite one-pot meal, Mediterranean Chicken with Rice.  There’s also another variation in my cookbook, Quicker Than Quick, called Weeknight Arroz con Pollo.  Delicious!Continue reading

Layered Summer Vegetable Torte Recipe

I love giving you 15-minute recipes, but once in a while there comes a dish that is worth the extra effort.  This Layered Summer Vegetable Torte is just that.  Yes, you have to grill some vegetables and make a simple vinaigrette, but this is a hearty, delicious, veggie-centric showstopper.  Every summer I have a few recipes that I put on repeat when I entertain at home, and this was one of my go-to’s from the Summer of 2021 and now it’s back in the rotation!Continue reading

Spicy Caesar Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs Recipe

If you’ve been to Jon & Vinny’s in LA, you may recognize this salad which they call Gem Lettuce, Calabrian Chili Dressing, Parmigiano, & Bread Crumbs.   It’s basically a spicy Caesar salad with the most delicious breadcrumbs and baby romaine leaves.  It’s insanely good and worth every bit of the $16.50 they charge for one portion.  Or is it?  Well, we can make it at home and it’s just as good, friends!  I make it all the time when I have people over or we want a really great Caesar. Ok, let’s do it!Continue reading

Thai Coconut Chicken Soup Recipe

This was originally published in January 2014, but I have been making it again on the regular and thought the website needed updated photos! 

You know what is just the worst?  Getting sick.  Life is great until you feel horrible.  I think most of us run around like maniacs until we’re so wiped out while our poor bodies are trying to tell us to slooooooow down and get some rest.  First it’s a little whisper like feeling so tired.  But we don’t listen.  Then we get a sore throat.  We don’t listen.  Then our bodies have to whack us over the head with a crazy cold and body aches until we have no other choice but to stay in bed.  A friend of mine who came down with a bad cold said to me the other day,”If I just spent a little time in bed resting when I wasn’t sick, maybe I would have stayed healthy!”  I think she’s onto something.Continue reading

Parmesan Peppers Recipe

prepping peppers | pamela salzman

I just returned home from a beautiful vacation on Long Island with my family.  It’s always my favorite week of the year and I enjoy the time even more when the weather is perfection like it was last week (barring the crazy 30-minute quasi-tornado on Tuesday morning.) I try to visit my parents in August rather than earlier in the summer because my father’s vegetable gardens are much more abundant now.  I think one of the best, most rewarding things in life is to be able to grow your own food.  On so many levels it’s good for you and good for the earth.

prepping peppers | pamela salzman

It can be very confusing to know what’s in season these days since we can buy virtually anything at any time.  But if you’ve ever gardened, you know that certain vegetables are planted during certain times of the year.  When I was growing up, I knew strawberries were only around for a short time so I would eat as many as humanly possible to take advantage of nature’s little springtime gift.  Same with tomatoes.  In fact, my mother loves telling me the story of when I was little and I ate so many unripe green tomatoes out of my father’s garden that I made myself sick.  I guess you can have too much of a good thing.

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

Here’s a newsflash for some people:  bell peppers are a summer vegetable.  Sure you can buy them all year, but they’ll be imported and likely not organic.  Another newsflash is that bell peppers are usually on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of most highly contaminated produce, so I always buy organic or not at all.  Yikes.  Now I look back and thank my lucky stars my father grew lots of peppers without pesticides.

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

Sweet bell peppers have a soft spot in my heart because they were one of Mr. Picky’s first “approved” vegetables.  I can even remember the day he tried a stick of raw red bell pepper and said, “Hey, this is good!  It’s juicy!”  Munch, crunch.  Then I went overboard trying to put sweet bell peppers in everything because I thought they were my ticket to broadening his limited palate.  Well my strategy didn’t exactly work.  But I’m glad I went pepper-crazy because I found this recipe for Parmesan peppers and it has become a favorite.

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

Parmesan peppers is one of the easiest and tastiest side dishes.  It gets multiple flavor boosts from garlic, thyme, lemon and Parmesan cheese, although I often use Pecorino, a sheep’s milk cheese.  It’s true that my son prefers his bell peppers raw (“juicy and crunchy”), I prefer the sweeter flavor and silky texture from roasted peppers.  One sliver of these peppers wrapped around a bite of fish or roasted chicken is just delicious.  And if you can find two (or even three) colors of peppers, this is a really beautiful side dish.  And I repeat, easy!

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

So the big question is, does Mr. Picky eat this?  And the answer is, almost.  What does that mean?  Like most kids, he’s slow to come around to vegetables and he likes to try things on his own terms.  It’s annoying for sure, but it is pretty normal.  So the first couple of times I made this, he was like “no way I’m eating that.”  He did have the obligatory taste, but nothing more after that.  More recently, he has eaten an entire piece and declared, “it’s pretty good, but I’m fine with one piece, thanks.”  The last time he had one piece and said, “it’s good and I’m pretty sure I’ll eat more next time.”  Welcome to my world!

parmesan peppers | pamela salzman

While there are no guarantees in life, these peppers have always been a hit with everyone else who has tried them, including my two daughters. What I do know for sure is that summer and local peppers won’t be around forever, so do enjoy them while you can.

Parmesan Peppers
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2011
Ingredients
  • 4 bell peppers (a mix of yellow, red and orange is nice)
  • 1 clove thinly sliced garlic
  • 8 thyme sprigs
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • juice of ½ lemon, if desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Stem, core and quarter bell peppers; place on prepared baking sheet.
  3. Toss with garlic, thyme and olive oil; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Arrange skin side down in a single layer and roast until softened, about 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and preheat the broiler.
  6. Sprinkle the peppers with Parmesan and place under the broiler until the cheese is melted and peppers are slightly charred. This will only take a minute or two.
  7. Remove from oven and drizzle with lemon juice, if you like. You can leave the thyme sprigs, but they are not to be eaten.
Notes
Feel free to leave out the cheese if you need. These are also great with a few capers sprinkled on when they come out of the oven.

 

Mediterranean Fish in Parchment recipe

You see that beautiful piece of fish down there?  That is my idea of a perfect dinner — simple, healthy, light, delicious, seasonal, easy-to-make.  If my family didn’t thrive on an ever-changing dinner menu, I would love to eat this twice a week with a fresh salad and a glass of rosé.  Perfect.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Fish in parchment is easier than it looks and one of the most healthful ways to cook fish.  I have taught and posted two other fish in parchment recipes which you may have tried, one with cilantro and ginger and the second with summer herbs.  Both are delicious and perfect when you want something light in the summer.

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The basic idea when you’re cooking in parchment, is to use ingredients that all cook pretty quickly and at the same rate.  Make sure that parchment is tightly sealed and you’ll create a little steam oven in that packet.  I always make sure the fish is well-seasoned with salt and pepper and that I add a smidge of fat, either butter or olive oil for flavor, and then there are lots of possibilities.

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Once I see those first local tomatoes at the farmers market, I start going a little tomato-crazy.  I especially love cherry tomatoes because they are always so sweet.  In this recipe, you can’t beat the combination with the sautéed garlic, salty capers and olives and zingy white wine.  I would eat this with a simple rice pilaf or quinoa salad or a raw zucchini salad.  My family would probably love a little pasta with pesto to go with it.

med fish parchment collage 1

I have taught this recipe in my cooking classes many, many times and sometimes I added some raw baby spinach leaves under the fish.  The spinach wilts beautifully and tastes delicious with all the other ingredients.  Shaved zucchini slices would also be perfect, but you could also add vegetables to the packet like blanched (not raw) green beans or slivers of roasted peppers.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Of course, if there are ingredients in the recipe you don’t care for, feel free to omit.  After I finish going over a recipe in my class, I take a few minutes to talk about substitutions.  Questions about how to change the recipe are the most common questions that come up — how do I make this gluten-free? My husband won’t eat anything with onion.  I hate olives.  Etc, etc.  I give you permission to take out the olives if you want.

mediterranean fish in parchment

Summer is here, friends.  Let’s get cooking!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Mediterranean Fish in Parchment recipe
Author: 
Serves: serves 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Tablespoon unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tablespoons capers, drained
  • a handful of mixed fresh herbs (I like to use mostly parsley with a little basil and mint mixed in), if you have them or sprigs of fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt + extra for seasoning fish
  • a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper to taste + extra for seasoning fish
  • 4 filets of wild halibut or sole
  • 4 teaspoons unsalted butter or unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 teaspoons dry white wine
  • 4 12-inch squares of unbleached parchment
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil. Add sliced garlic, red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and almost golden brown, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes, capers and fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
  2. Arrange each piece of fish in the center of the parchment paper and sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  3. Top each filet with a fourth of the tomato mixture, 1 teaspoon of butter or oil, and 2 teaspoons wine.
  4. Bring 2 opposite sides of the parchment together and fold. Continue to fold all the way down until you reach the fish. Twist both ends of the parchment so that it looks like a hard candy wrapper. Repeat for each piece of fish. Place each packet on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes based on the thickness of the fish.
  5. Transfer each packet to a plate and use caution when opening – the steam will be very hot!
Notes
Sometimes I like to add a handful of baby spinach leaves to the parchment before topping with the fish.

 

Baked Falafel Recipe

baked falafel | pamela salzman

One day I woke up and decided I had to have falafel.  Falafel are deep-fried balls of pulsed chickpeas blended with herbs, onion and garlic.  Sometimes they are made with a combination of broad beans and chickpeas and sometimes that contain a lot of herbs which make them rather green on the inside.  They’re so tasty and a great high-protein, vegetarian food that you can eat in a sandwich or on a salad or dipped into a sauce.  My family and I love falafel and one day I just had such a craving for them.  I wanted the works — pita bread, tahini sauce, lettuce, tomato and pickled radishes.

baked falafel | pamela salzman

But the fact that falafel are deep-fried is a major turn-off to me, especially food that is deep-fried in a restaurant, as opposed to at my house, because restaurants use and re-use the same low-quality oil over and over again.  Deep-fried foods are just a big plate of inflammation, bad for digestion, bad for the heart, bad for the blood, bad for the skin, just B.A.D.  Knowing how awful deep-fried foods are is a little bit of a curse because it’s hard for me to enjoy them, even in moderation.  But I wanted to make real, authentic falafel that I would un-authetically bake.  So naturally I went on Youtube to learn how to make them.  Sure there are plenty of blogs with falafel recipes, but a lot of these recipes are not the real deal.  For the real deal, I watched falafel-making videos from Israel and I learned everything I needed to know and then some!

raw soaked chickpeas

For example, falafel are made with raw, soaked chickpeas, not canned.  The texture is a bit crumbly, not a mashed potato patty.  There are no eggs in falafel.  And after watching a few videos of expert falafel-makers, I really wished I had a meat grinder (which is what most of them use) to process the all the ingredients into the perfect texture.  But my food processor was good enough and the next day (because I let my chickpeas soak 24 hours), we enjoyed very delicious, healthy baked falafel.  And although falafel has a bit of oiliness from frying, I didn’t even notice the absence of oil since I smothered the patties with a delicious tahini sauce.

pulse everything in the food processor

 

pulsed until it resembles couscous

My son, who is known to be a tad picky, devours anywhere from 6-10 falafel at dinner when I make them.  For sure he loves to eat them in pita, especially if the pita is homemade and warm from the oven (I used this Martha Stewart Living recipe with success.)  But he (and we) is just as happy wrapping a few falafel in a big lettuce leaf with some sauce.  Falafel make the perfect Meatless Monday dinner since they contain lots of protein from the chickpeas and the tahini sauce.  You can also make them spicier with an extra pinch of cayenne.  If I know I’m going to have a crazy afternoon, I’ll make the sauce and shape the falafel in the morning and bake them at the end of the day for a really easy dinner.  Add some lettuce and tomatoes for a simple dinner or go the extra mile with pickled vegetables, pita, and some grilled eggplant.

falafel

Even though I am really against deep frying and I had great results baking these, you can certainly “sauté” these falafel in a skillet with some olive oil until golden and crisp on both sides.  It is a much faster way to cook these and they will have a little bit more of an authentic greasiness.  But the baked version does it for me just fine.  I hope you’ll give them a try!

baked falafel | pamela salzman

baked falafel | pamela salzman

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Baked Falafel Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: makes 20-24 falafel
 
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cup dried chickpeas (do NOT use canned chickpeas)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 1 small onion)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ cup chopped parsley (or mix with chopped cilantro)
  • ¼ cup whole wheat pastry flour or GF flour blend or chickpea flour
  • unrefined cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil for brushing the pan and the falafel


  • Sauce:

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup – ½ cup warm water to achieve right consistency and depending on the bitterness of the tahini
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Put dried chickpeas in a bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Soak 12-24 hours, making sure chickpeas stay completely submerged in water the entire time.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and grease the paper with olive oil.
  3. Drain the chickpeas, and add to a food processor with garlic, onion, spices, salt and pepper, baking soda, lemon juice, parsley and flour. (Use a meat grinder if you have one.) Pulse the mixture, scraping down the sides as necessary, until it looks like couscous. The mixture will be quite crumbly.
  4. Form the mixture into about 20 balls, 1 ½ inches each. Press down on the tops to flatten them into thick patties. You can add a little extra flour if they are not holding together. Place them on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with oil.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes on each side or until golden. You can fry them in oil, as well (not as healthy.)
  6. Blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender adjusting water to achieve right consistency. You want a thin sauce.
  7. Serve falafel with tahini sauce in a pita or lettuce leaves. Chopped tomato and cucumber salad is a nice accompaniment.