Grain-free White Bean Coffee Cake Recipe

grain-free white bean coffee cake | pamela salzman

Trust me that this cake is so good!  It does NOT look like it has white beans in it, nor does it taste like white beans (which may I remind you taste like nothing.)  And lest you think I am a genius coming up with blending white beans to make a high-protein, downright delicious cake, I will come clean and tell you this is nothing that hasn’t already been done about 16,7000,000 times, according to google.  Even my idol, Martha Stewart, has made cupcakes with white beans!  If it’s good enough for Martha, it’s definitely good enough for moi.

some of the ingredients

I thought this would be such a different, delicious and healthful cake for your Mother’s Day brunch, and what a conversation-starter!  It’s always fun to quiz your family and friends — “Can you guess what the secret ingredient is?”  I would never suggest making this for Father’s Day because most dads I know would rather have doughnuts than a cake with nutritional benefits.  Moms are different.  We’re always looking to have our treats without the guilt!

making the topping

This cake was a huge hit in my classes last year.  I first told everyone to open their minds because this would not resemble a classic coffeecake. Most people that come to my classes are pretty open-minded anyway.  In fact a few ladies said, “Ah, of course.  Black beans in brownies, white beans in coffeecake.”   I agree, it makes perfect sense.  But I would never make any dessert or any recipe for that matter just because it’s kind of healthful.  Of all things, dessert should be enjoyed, and you will love this cake!  It’s very moist, just sweet enough and light.  I ate quite a bit of this cake last  year and I never felt uncomfortable or sick after eating it.  That’s an indication of a pretty clean dessert.

making the cake batter

I normally encourage you to make your beans from scratch, but for this recipe it is very important that your beans be nice and creamy soft.  So if you want to be on the safe side, just used canned.  I love Eden which doesn’t use BPA in its can liners.  The one ingredient which might throw you for a loop is the coconut flour, although I do have a great muffin recipe on my site that uses almond flour and coconut flour.  At my Whole Foods, you can buy coconut flour from the bulk bins, which is nice if you just need a little bit.  Most recipes which use coconut flour only call for small amounts of it because it is so absorbent.  Don’t go thinking you can substitute regular grain flours for coconut flour!  They are completely different!

grain-free white bean coffee cake

If you decide you don’t want to make this coffee cake with the faux streusel topping, just make the cake with your favorite frosting or serve it with fresh fruit and whipped cream or whipped coconut cream.  Either way, moms deserve a treat on Mother’s Day, so indulge or do something generous for all the special moms in your life!  Happy Mother’s Day!

grain-free white bean coffeecake | pamela salzman

 

grain-free white bean coffee cake

4.9 from 7 reviews
Grain-free White Bean Coffee Cake
Author: 
Serves: makes one 12X9 or 13x9-inch cake
 
Ingredients
  • Crumble Topping:
  • 3 cups walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  • ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked white beans (make sure they’re soft and not crunchy), such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed if canned (cold or at room temperature)
  • 6 eggs
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia or plain stevia and add an extra ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil, plus extra for greasing pan
  • ⅓ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 12 x 9 or 13 x 9 baking dish with coconut oil or butter.
  2. To make the topping, place the walnuts, coconut oil or butter, sugar and cinnamon in the food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until combined and the texture resembles a crumb topping. Remove from food processor and set aside.
  3. In the same food processor (no need to clean it) place the beans, eggs, stevia, vanilla coconut oil and honey and puree until smooth.
  4. Then add the coconut flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder to the white bean mixture and process until smooth. Pour into the greased pan.
  5. Spread the topping over the top of the batter and use a fork to swirl into the batter, then pat down to set.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving. Store leftovers in the refrigerator where it will stay good for up to a week.

Kale and White Bean Minestrone Recipe

white bean and kale minestrone | pamela salzman

I think that sports are awesome for kids.  They’re fun!  The kids get exercise, make new friends, learn about competition and trying your best, and lots of other life lessons which I am constantly repeating to my children to the point of annoyance.  “It’s not over ’til it’s over!”  “Today is a new day!”  Love those.

Mr. Picky is 10 years old and he will basically play as many sports as his schedule and we will allow.  I can’t possibly let him participate in everything that strikes his fancy because then I would truly have no life and he would be exhausted.  He plays soccer all year plus basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring and tennis in the summer.  But can I just vent for one second?  Soccer, basketball, tennis — all good.  Normal practice schedule.  Short games. Love it.  10-year-old baseball?  T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

aromatics chopped

Forget about the fact that I think baseball is dreadfully boring.  I could watch any of my kids blow dirt and I would enjoy cheering them on.  But there’s not a lot of action in baseball and we’re committed to two 2-hour games a week plus a 2 1/2 hour practice on Saturdays.  Ugh.  And, those Thursday night games on metal bleachers and wind blowing from the West.  I am always chilled to the bone when I get home on Thursday nights.  That’s why I bribed Mr. Picky not to play baseball this year.  I offered my son cold hard cash if he would pick up lacrosse in the spring instead.  “What are you talking about, Mom?  I am definitely playing baseball.”

“Really, dude?  There’s nothing I can give you to make you not play?  Nothing?”

“I don’t even have to think about that.  I’m playing.”

“Everybody has a price, little man.  Just name it.”

“Mom, you’re acting weird.  Please stop.”

So frustrating!  “You know what, kid?  You have NO future in politics!  None!  Remember that!”

Seriously, I would have offered him a THOUSAND dollars not to play and I honestly think he would have turned it down. Drat.

tomato paste and rosemary

So, if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, you know I post my family’s dinner every night.  I won’t promise high quality images, just the real deal.  But you should start expecting slow cooker meals and/or soups and stews on Thursdays for the next 2 1/2 long months.  Games are from 5:30 – 8:00 pm and I don’t expect my daughters to wait until 8:15 to eat (or at 4:30 for that matter.)  So I need something that can stay warm for a few hours without drying out.

mash some white beans

 

parmesan rind

I know the first day of spring is this week and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  But let’s face it, the temperature doesn’t all of a sudden go up by 15 degrees on March 21st.  Soups are still in play! (That was a cheesy pun, but I couldn’t resist.)  I love, love, love this kale and white bean minestrone.  I taught this soup in my classes last month, but I have been making a version of this forever.  It’s hearty and flavorful, but still light since it’s all veggies and beans.  I make it with chicken stock very often, but also with vegetable stock.  Sometimes Mr. Picky and I will eat something before the game like peanut butter toast and then have a bowl of hot soup like this when we get home.  Really hits the spot.  Because the beans add great protein, I’ll also reheat leftovers for school lunch the next day.

soup in progress

white bean and kale minestrone

I think kale is amazing in this soup, but I have also made it with Swiss chard and I think collards would be great, too.  Sometimes I’ll add a little extra tomato paste to make it more tomato-y.  But I almost never make it without my secret ingredient, a rind of Parmesan cheese.   This makes this soup so flavorful and rich without you actually eating cheese.  Although I can never resist grating some fresh Pecorino on top.

white bean and kale minestrone | pamela salzman

Sadly, I think many of you are bracing for another snow storm.  This soup’s for you!

white bean and kale minestrone | pamela salzman

5.0 from 2 reviews
Kale and White Bean Minestrone
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste ( I like Bionaturae)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped (measure the rosemary, then chop)
  • 3 ½ cups of cooked white beans (such as Cannellini or Great Northern) or 2 15-ounce cans, drained and rinsed* click here to learn how to make your beans from scratch
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (You will need about 3 teaspoons of salt if your stock is unsalted.)
  • piece of rind from Parmesan cheese (if you have it, otherwise don’t worry about it)
  • 6 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade or 4 cups stock + 2 cups water
  • 6 cups of stemmed, coarsely chopped kale or Swiss chard leaves*
  • Accompaniments: serve with garlic toast, a drizzle of olive oil and/or grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Warm oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic and sauté until tender and translucent, about 6-8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste and rosemary and cook for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
  3. Add the white beans, salt, pepper and parmesan rind. Try to mash a few of the beans in the pot. This will help thicken the soup later.
  4. Pour in the stock. Raise the heat to high and bring soup to a boil. Lower heat so that soup gently simmers and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes (or longer if you want), or until vegetables are tender.
  5. Stir in kale leaves and simmer another 8 minutes or until kale is tender. Taste for seasoning and serve with or without desired accompaniments.
Notes
*Or you can use 1 can of beans and 1 pound of chopped Yukon Gold potatoes.

**If you use Swiss chard, separate the stems from the leaves before starting the recipe and chop both.  Sauté the chopped stems with the onions and add the chopped leaves at the end.

Slow cooker white bean soup with sausage and collard greens recipe (stovetop version, too)

hearty and filling | pamela salzman

I know so many of you are fighting cold weather and stuffy noses, so I thought I would share with you a new favorite soup in our house.  My friend and student Lynette gave me the recipe because it has been popular with her family.  Nothing beats a warm and hearty bowl of soup when you’re not feeling 100% and this one is particularly fantastic since you place everything into a slow cooker in the morning and it’s ready by dinnertime (also great when you’re not feeling 100%.)

always rinse your beans before using

People in my classes have been begging me for more slow cooker recipes, especially the dump-and-start kind.  If you don’t have a slow cooker, do not fear.  I will give you directions for a stovetop version.  Whereas I normally prefer to saute aromatic vegetables before using them in a soup or stew since it adds more flavor, in this recipe the extra step doesn’t make much difference.  Lucky us!  Although the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I prefer to soak my beans to neutralize the phytic acid, a hard-to-digest anti-nutritient.  Soaking is optional though, as the slow cooker will easily cook the beans to a creamy softness without soaking.

I think these are pretty "clean."

put the ingredients in the insert and press "start"

This was a perfect entree soup for dinner paired with corn muffins and a green salad.  More importantly, all my kids, including the picky one, just loved it.  I know some people can’t get into the idea of “just” soup for dinner.  But I promise this is a hearty one.  Beans are loaded with protein and fiber which both help keep you full for longer.  There is also a small amount of sausage in the soup (I used chicken sausage) which you can omit if you’re vegetarian or vegan or use your favorite vegan sausage to add a little smokiness to the soup.  For a more affordable dish, you can use a small ham hock for flavor instead of the sausage.

gorgeous collard greens

remove the stems and chop the greens

add collard greens 20 minutes before serving

In my opinion everything is better, more alkalizing and more nutritious with dark leafy greens.  I hope you are finding new and delicious ways to incorporate this food group into your diet.  Kale seems to be the “it” leafy green of the moment, that it’s nice to see another leafy green in a recipe.  Collard greens are used in this soup, but I’m sure cabbage or kale would be equally delicious here.  This recipe is a keeper no matter how you make it!

white bean and sausage soup | pamela salzman

5.0 from 1 reviews
Slow Cooker White Bean Soup with Sausage and Collard Greens
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried beans (such as cannellini or great Northern), picked through for stones or debris, soaked* for at least 6 hours in cold water and drained
  • ½ pound andouille sausage links, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise (I used a 12-ounce package of Applegate Farms chicken apple sausage)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 8 cups low-sodium or unsalted chicken or vegetable broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 bunch collard greens, stems discarded and leaves cut into-bite-size pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste (salt will vary based on what stock or sausage you use)
  • unrefined olive oil for drizzling (optional)
Instructions
  1. In a 4-6 quart slow cooker (mine is a 6.5 quart and it turned out great), combine the beans, sausage, onion, celery, and thyme. Add the broth and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, on LOW for 7 to 8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
  3. minutes before serving, remove and discard the thyme sprigs and add the collard greens. Cover and cook until the greens are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil, if desired.
Notes
*You don’t have to soak the beans if you don’t have time, but it makes them more digestible. You do need to soak them for the stovetop version.

For a stovetop version, sauté onions and celery in 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Add soaked, dried beans, sausage, thyme and stock. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook covered until beans are tender, bout 60-90 minutes. Add greens and cook until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle with olive oil if desired.

 

Italian wedding soup recipe

I love new beginnings and thankfully we have so many opportunities to start fresh.  For me, the first day of school, beginning of summer, first day of spring and of course, January 1st are all times of the year when I take a minute to regroup, reflect and think about what I’d like to do better or differently.  I even think of Sundays in the same way, a time to prepare for the week ahead.  I am an obsessive list-maker so I start with my menu for the week, as well as errands that need to get done, calls to be made, projects that need to be completed, etc.  But January 1st is a day when I think about bigger goals whether it’s being more physically active, learning how to meditate, eating dinner as a family 5 nights a week, or stepping away from the computer by 8:00 pm each night (sounds like a dream, yes?).

Most people I know make resolutions about food and their health or just take this time after holiday indulging to cleanse or go on a diet.  I’ve never been able to restrict my daily fuel consumption to juices for a few days without becoming a complete raging you-know-what, so instead I try to return our diet to lighter, but always nourishing foods.  It is still the middle of winter after all, and too many cold and raw foods may leave you feeling imbalanced and out of harmony with nature.

I recently spent the week with my family in NY and had a great time cooking with my mom and sisters.  I think we made a soup or stew every single day for either lunch or dinner.  Kids usually like soups, especially if you let them add fun foods on top like tortilla chips, popcorn or shredded cheese.  Soups are also a great opportunity to get in some homemade stock which is such a great immune booster at the time of the year when we need it most.  I’d like to share with you one of my kids’ favorites, Italian Wedding Soup.  Honestly, I didn’t do my homework here and I can’t tell you the origins of the name, but you can call it whatever you like, including “chicken soup with baby meatballs” which is what Mr. Picky calls it.  He ate three bowls of this the other day which makes me happier than getting into my skinny jeans.  If you have a picky eater, you know what I’m talking about.

My grandma used to make a version of this with small pasta and escarole, but I think white beans are much more nutritious than pasta.  The way I prepare this here is rather brothy, but I don’t see why you couldn’t add more vegetables or beans and make it heartier.  Either way, whenever I eat this, it always feels like a big loving hug and I can’t think of a better way to start a new year.

Italian Wedding Soup
Author: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • FOR THE MEATBALLS*:
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ of an onion, grated
  • ¼ cup dry whole grain bread crumbs (purchased or just toast fresh breadcrumbs)
  • ½ cup fresh bread crumbs (1 slice of bread, hard crusts removed, processed in food processor)
  • ⅓ cup Pecorino or Parmigiano cheese
  • 1 pound ground turkey, preferably dark meat
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • FOR THE SOUP:
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 10 cups chicken or turkey stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed**
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 10 ounces baby spinach, stems trimmed or 1 head escarole, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly grated Pecorino or Parmigiano, plus extra for garnish
Instructions
  1. To make the meatballs, stir the first five ingredients in a bowl to blend. Add the remaining meatball ingredients and combine well with your hands. Using a half tablespoon or a mini-ice cream scooper, scoop the meat mixture into your hands and from them into 1-inch diameter meatballs. Set aside on a plate or baking sheet.
  2. To make the soup, warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and celery and sauté until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add the broth, beans and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and carefully add the meatballs (if using escarole, add this now too.) Lower to a simmer and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the spinach and grated cheese and cook until spinach is just wilted.
  5. Taste for seasoning. Serve with additional grated cheese, if desired.
Notes
*To make this vegetarian, use your favorite vegetarian meatballs and vegetable broth.

**Traditionally served with ditalini or pastina. If you prefer to use pasta, add already cooked pasta to the soup and the end with the spinach. Another option is to add cooked Arborio rice or green peas.

 

Shrimp with tomatoes, white beans and spinach recipe

Shrimp with Tomatoes, White Beans and Spinach | Pamela Salzman

Shrimp with Tomatoes, White Beans and Spinach | Pamela Salzman

Since my husband and I both have our own businesses, a big family vacation hasn’t been in the picture for many years.  We never felt that we could take the time off from work or spend the money during uncertain economic times.  But with Daughter #1 off to college (we hope) in two years, we decided it was now or never.  So here we are in Amsterdam with two teenage girls and a picky 8-year-old on the first day of a 3 1/2 week European adventure.  So far so good!

We are hoping to create some amazing memories, expose the kids to beautiful and interesting places and cultures, and enjoy some quality family bonding time.  I purposely didn’t purchase any international phone plans for the girls so that they would focus on our experiences, but somehow they have already figured out how to call and text their friends for free.  Oy.  Regardless, I decided to let a lot go before we embarked on this trip, especially with regard to food.  Sometimes you have to go with the flow and not create any unnecessary stress at a time when you are supposed to be relaxing.  So I ate a cheese and tomato pancake in Amsterdam today and didn’t think about the white flour, non-organic butter and cheese I had inhaled.  Until now.  Just kidding!  Totally ok with it.

What I did think about before I left was you dear people and how I still wanted to continue to inspire you with some healthful recipes to cook.  I hope you know that I really do walk the talk and prepare dinner for my family at least five nights a week, sometimes six or seven.  I especially like to make sure I cook the night before I leave for a trip so that we have a proper meal and a good night’s sleep.  So I thought I would share with you what I made for our last dinner at home.

Granted, the night before we left for 3 1/2 weeks was a busy one and Pamela had veeeeery limited time.  Shrimp with tomatoes, white beans and spinach was one of the only things I knew how to whip up in about 15 minutes and feel good about.  Yes, you see white rice on the plate because my choice was either brown rice and not going out to buy Mr. Picky a rain jacket or white rice and keeping him dry on our trip but losing a little fiber.  Mr. Picky always wins and I’m glad since we had a little sprinkle tonight as we walked back to our hotel after dinner.

With some grilled zucchini, this was otherwise the perfect meal.  You know by now I could eat tomato-garlic-olive oil on anything and I love seafood.  But I will admit right now that Daughter #2 is still boycotting anything that swims and I my husband doesn’t eat shellfish.  The beauty of this dish is that you can easily adapt it for vegetarians or non-seafood eaters by eliminating the shrimp since the white beans add lots of good protein.  So the two of them just picked out the shellfish.  More for me!  If you can find good quality wild shrimp, it’s actually a really good source of Vitamin D and iodine, and very low in fat.

I used Eden Organic canned white beans for this recipe and fresh tomatoes.  The beans make the sauce nice and creamy so include something in the meal to soak up the juices.  Besides rice, I think polenta or millet would be good choices too.  You could also sub arugula for the spinach, but Mr. Picky just started eating spinach so I didn’t want to push my luck.  Speaking of pushing it, it is now morning and everyone is waiting for me to head over to the Van Gogh Museum.  Check out my daily posts on Twitter and Facebook for more European updates!

Shrimp with Tomatoes, White Beans and Spinach | Pamela Salzman

5.0 from 4 reviews
Shrimp with Tomatoes, White Beans and Spinach
Author: 
Serves: 5-6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced (or canned, drained)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • sea salt
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, less than a minute. Stir in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, parsley and a few healthy pinches of salt. Cook for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and bring to a simmer. Add the shrimp and cook, turning, until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, spinach and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook until everything is heated through and spinach is wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Delicious served over rice, millet, polenta or pasta.
Notes
Great Northern beans can be subbed for the cannellini.

 

Spring Green Minestrone

Spring Green Minestrone | Pamela Salzman

Spring Green Minestrone | Pamela Salzman

I had the best day on Saturday.  Where did I go?  Nowhere!  What did I do?  Nothing!  When was the last time you said you had the best time doing nothing?  I know!  Sometimes I feel like my life is like a runaway train. And although I enjoy its active pace, I wish I took more time to sloooooow down.  This past Saturday was going to be more of the same — squeezing in a workout, a big farmer’s market shop for my classes, watching Mr. Picky’s soccer and baseball games, and chauffeurring the girls here and there.  But the universe gave me a big gift in the form of a torrential rain storm and everything was canceled.  Thank you, thank you!

Mr. Picky stayed in his pajamas until 1:00 in the afternoon.  I read more of the newspaper than just the front page.  Daughter #1 and her adorable friend who spent the night would have normally met friends in town for breakfast, but hung around with us instead.  They played as much One Direction music as we could take, baked a cake, and photographed every move for their 2,000 Facebook “friends” to enjoy.  One thing for sure, I knew I would be making soup.  I had an extra bunch of asparagus from Friday’s class, white beans and peas in the freezer, and a small bag of spinach.  I had the makings of one of my favorites, Spring Green Minestrone.  This is the soup I make whenever Spring rolls around.  As much as I love hearty, chunky soups and stews, I like to leave those to the winter.  Lighter, fresher soups appeal to me now, but ones which still have the ability to warm me up.  And the combination of white beans and peas amounts to a complete protein, so I feel satisfied enough to eat this as a meal.  But it’s all that GREEN that really makes me feel nourished.

The ingredients in this soup look like they couldn’t amount to anything special — there’s no secret ingredient, no flavor boosters.  I’m even surprised when it turns out delicious.  And the recipe is so dead simple, you have no excuse NOT to make your vegetable stock from scratch.  This soup was one of the first cooked vegetable dishes that Mr. Picky actually ate a normal portion of.  Saturday was no different.   He dropped a piece of sourdough toast in his soup and ate every last pea.  My husband poured the usual Pecorino in his.  As for me, I embraced my bowl of springtime au naturel — perfect in its simplicity and which I ate really slooowly.  I needed to make this special day last.  Because although I heard it would rain again on Sunday, I knew that the chances of that happening were about as good as my kids getting a Coke with their lunch.  And sure enough, Sunday’s sunshine came with places to be and things to do, but I got back on the train rejuvenated and restored and ready for it all.

Spring Green Minestrone | Pamela Salzman

Spring Green Minestrone
Author: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined, cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 leeks, washed well, white and light green parts sliced thinly
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or light chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 ½ cups cooked white beans, such as Cannellini or Great Northern, or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (more if your stock is unsalted)
  • 4 ounces baby spinach leaves
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes.
  2. Add the asparagus, peas and parsley and toss to coat with the oil, leeks and garlic. Pour in the stock, white beans, and sea salt. Bring to a boil and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered until the asparagus is just tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the spinach leaves and taste for seasoning. Don't be disappointed, but that's all you have to do!
Notes
If you make your own stock, use the tops of your leeks and the woody ends from the asparagus that you might be inclined to compost or throw away.

Creamy white bean dip with roasted garlic

Do your kids ask you for things at the last possible second even though they have known about whatever it is they need for weeks?  My husband does this, too.  “If you knew last Friday that you would need to bring a wrapped gift for your party, why are you telling me as we’re getting into the car on the WAY to the party??”  It really messes up the walk I talk about being organized.

One of my daughters was going to a girl scout meeting which started at 6:00 pm, and guess what?  She announced at 5:25 that she needed to bring an hors d’oeuvre.  That 10 pre-teens would actually want to eat.  And “not like something so totally healthy either, Mom.”  Like cool!  Like let’s pretend we’re on an episode of Chopped!  But seriously, even though I like the idea of being able to whip something yummy together with stuff from my pantry in 20 minutes, it’s a little stressful.

Normally, my go-to would have been hummus, which I can make in 10 seconds and I know my daughter and her friends like it.  But of course, on this day I had no cooked chickpeas.  So you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention.  I found some canned white beans in the pantry and added them to the food processor with a few other staples that generally taste good with white beans and we had ourselves a winner dip.  My daughter even said she liked it better than hummus.  At the time, I made it with a raw garlic clove and it was terrific, but another day when I wasn’t under the gun I tried it with a whole head of roasted garlic and looooooved it more.

I just made the bean dip again recently to bring to a birthday dinner with some health-conscious ladies and served it with some crudites as shown in the picture.  I stole the idea from Martha Stewart of putting the cut veggies in modern drinking glasses.  It always makes for a pretty presentation.  I also included a small bowl of balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of sea salt — another stolen idea, this time from an Italian restaurant.  We have also used the dip as a sandwich spread with grilled vegetables.  Fabulous with eggplant, sweet bell peppers and zucchini!

Sure I could have gone to the market on the way to the meeting and picked up a tub of salsa and a bag of chips, but thankfully I didn’t because then there would of been two of the same hors d’oeuvre at the meeting that night. (At least it’s not just my kid.)

Creamy White Bean Dip with Roasted Garlic
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 head of garlic, unpeeled to roast or 1 large clove raw garlic, peeled
  • 2 cups cooked white beans*, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed, if canned
  • ¼ cup cold-pressed, unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • Several dashes hot sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • a few grinds finely ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Roast the garlic: preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the top fifth of the head of unpeeled garlic. Add a drop of olive oil. Replace the top. Wrap with parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour. Discard foil and parchment.
  2. Take the top off of the garlic and squeeze the softened garlic out of the skins into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. When I'm ready to serve it, I like to drizzle it with a touch of fruity olive oil. Can be made a day ahead and kept covered and refrigerated.
Notes
I like to serve this as a dip with crudités or blanched vegetables and/or with warm pita bread, chips or toasted slices of baguette. You can even assemble your own crostini with grilled baguette toasts and white bean spread topped with sautéed greens. It is also great as a sandwich spread.

To cook your beans from scratch, soak dried beans in lots of cold water for at least 6 hours or longer. Drain them. Put them in a pot with enough fresh water to cover by 4-6 inches. Bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender, anywhere from 45 minutes to 1½ hours, depending on the age of the beans. I like to add a tablespoon of kosher salt to the beans and allow them to cool in their cooking liquid for 30-60 minutes, if possible, but it's not necessary. Drain and use immediately or store in the fridge for 3 days. Beans also freeze very well.