maple roasted kuri squash, kale & quiona pangrattato

how do i restart this thing? i had planned to take just a month off from blogging to travel with my partner in south africa for the entire month of august. then from the moment we landed home, i had a long list of tasks to tackle... starting with laundry and then bigger tasks like marketing myself for more private chef clients to fill my schedule back up. i've been trying to hustle but struggling to shift gears out of vacation mode. i'm pretty certain my list of tasks has grown longer faster than i've been able to tick things off it. 

so my blog sat idle for not one but two months!!! but not for lack of inspiration. 

our trip to south south africa was incredible and i have memories and photographs that i'll cherish forever. rad bouldering, inspiring sunsets, new friends and wonderful time spent with my favorite person. we had some fantastic meals but the cuisine is very (like reeeeally) meat heavy. i was thrilled to be there during their citrus, passionfruit and avocado season, but i really craved vegetables. i failed miserably trying to find a farmers market with fresh produce beyond the same small selections at the grocery store. so i pitifully bought arugula in tiny plastic "fresh herb" packets because it was the only bitter greens i could find. i cooked a lot of rice and lentils, rice and beans, fried rice and ate avocado toast day and night. i kept dreaming about our markets back home and told a south african climber about the tomato farmer who grows probably 30 kinds of heirloom tomatoes. the south african was stunned! "we have two kinds here. big or small." 

i was so excited to get my hands on heirloom tomatoes and have been all giddy with all the produce coming into season. it gives me so much pleasure and inspiration... i just needed to get into gear again to share it with you all! 

i drew some inspiration for this fall salad from nigel slater's cookboook tender, for a pumpkin pangrattato. "grated bread" aka breadcrumbs. so first i experimented with homemade breadcrumbs. i think i'm partial to the bread crumb version, but got curious to try a crispy quiona version. both were spectacular. without the pangrattato, this is just a simple salad with some of my favorite seasonal flavors. but with the pangrattato... oh, you'll be glad you didn't skip it! 

if you're curious to try this recipe with breadcrumbs (because it was stupendous!) just swap a cup breadcrumbs (ideally chunky homemade breadcrumbs) for quinoa and add a bit more oil (or butter) ... they will brown quicker, but otherwise follow same recipe and directions! the pangrattato is a wonderful topper for roasted vegetables and squash! 

for the maple roasted kuri squash:
1/2 red kuri squash 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
salt & aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup 

preheat oven to 375. gut squash and carefully cut into cubes slightly smaller than 1" - the beautiful thing about organic red kuri squash, is that you can and should eat the skin! if you're using another squash variety, or if your particular kuri squash has a really tough skin you might prefer removing it with a vegetable peeler first, then cutting into cubes. toss cubed squash with olive oil, salt and aleppo pepper - reserving the maple syrup for later. 

line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread squash out in a single layer. roast for 15 minutes and then stir to turn squash on their other sides. continue roasting until squash is fork tender, then remove from oven and drizzle with a tablespoon or more of pure maple syrup. if the quash seems a little dry, add a tiny drizzle more of olive oil too! stir to coat and return to oven for 5-10 more minutes to let sugars caramelize. 

for the quinoa pangrattato: 
1 cup chilled leftover quinoa 
2+ tablespoon olive oil 
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped 
large pinch red chili flakes
large pinch sea salt 

in a skillet (nonstick is best), heat oil, quinoa, salt and red chili flakes over medium-low heat. don't rush it, you want the quinoa to brown slowly and crisp up rather than burn. stir every few minutes and continue frying until quinoa is toasted golden. add chopped rosemary, lemon zest and garlic and continue frying until gently browned - adding a bit more oil if quinoa is burning. 

or the kale salad:
1 bunch lacinato kale
1/4 cup roasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds 
juice of 1 lemon
1+ tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
salt & pepper 

de-stem, wash and dry kale and tear or chop into large bite size pieces. massage kale in a bowl with lemon juice, olive oil and maple syrup - you can start with less and add more to taste. season well and toss with roasted seeds, warm roasted kuri squash and crispy quinoa pangrattato. top with a little extra lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil! 

apricot & greens smoothie


mornings when you can take a moment to nourish yourself and sit quietly in a beautiful space. i love those mornings.  and i've been cherishing every morning this way all month in our new home. our deck is surrounded be edible goodness and tall green trees, it's quite and the perfect space to sip coffee. i am savoring this new opportunity to walk into the garden and grab a handful of fresh herbs and greens to make breakfast. i'll see how long this morning ritual continues...  we will certainly keep the ritual going from our caravan trailer in south africa next month! and i imagine sitting in slippers and a sweatshirt long into the chillier months back in seattle in the fall (so long as it's not wet outside!) i won't give up mornings like these so easily.

i bought a flat of apricots last week at our neighborhood farmers market. they were bursting with juice, so i frozen several trays of sliced apricots to save for later, and have been slurping up the remainder in these tart green smoothies that are wonderfully refreshing and hydrating in the warm summer weather! the cucumbers this time of year are incredible as well!! i've been munching on them day after day! ah, summer produce! 

apicrot & greens smoothie ~ serves 1 
2 ripe apricots
1 cup greens (kale or chard) 
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup or more cucumber
1/2 cup or more frozen pineapple 
fresh mint spring 
1 tablespoon chia seeds
splash of water or coconut water

blend all ingredients, except chia seeds, and just enough water to get things moving. blend until smooth. add chia seeds and blend to just stir them in. pour and enjoy!

grilled summer squash & corn salad

we leave for south africa in 12 days, but i seem to have already settled into vacation mode. a good portion of my clients are off with their kiddos on summer vacations, so i've just been teaching a little yoga and working irregularly for clients who drop back into town. my partner is a school teacher, so his relaxed summer-break mood is also effecting my motivation to do anything productive. we've slowly managed to settle into our new home and spent a full day merging kitchens with our housemates, but mostly we've been spending our summer lounging on the deck of our new home with coffee and our house mate's cats and utilizing our house mate's incredible vegetable garden and propane grill to assemble meals worthy of opening a good bottle of wine. 

i'm grateful we've had a relaxed july. it's allowed us to fully enjoy our one month of "summer" before we travel to the other hemisphere for early springtime in south africa. soaking it in while we can! 

this is the first time as an adult that i've lived in a home with a grill. i'm convinced that everything tastes better grilled. i know i'm not alone in that thinking. since i have all sorts of free time, made and remade this salad of grilled corn, poblano peppers and summer squash - grilled each vegetable in batches and then cooled and tossed together to create the most flavorful summer salad imaginable. but since it takes a little while to grill everything, know that this salad holds perfectly well in the fridge - so you can make it ahead of time for a backyard bbq party! 

grilled summer squash & corn salad ~ serves 6+
6 ears corn, shucked
6 small-ish zucchini, sliced into 1/4" strips length-wise
6 poblano peppers, halved and seeded
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 limes - zest saved and juiced
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1-2 cloves crushed garlic (optional)
olive oil
salt, pepper & chili powder
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese (optional)

rub shucked corn, sliced zucchini and seeded peppers with a bit of olive oil - just enough to thinly coat. salt, pepper and sprinkle with chili powder. heat grill to medium-high heat and grill corn, turning every 3-5 minutes or so until the kernels are lightly browned, then let corn cool to room temp. while corn cools, grill zucchini ribbons and peppers in batches until theres some good grill marks on both sides of the zucchini and blisters on the peppers. remove veggies from grill and let cool on a large cutting board or flat surface (try to avoid letting them pile up in a bowl where they will continue to steam and get mushy).

once grilled vegetables are cooled to room temp, slice off the corn and cut the zucchini and roasted peppers into small bites. toss with the zest and juice of both limes, chopped onion, garlic, cilantro and cotija cheese. you might add a bit more olive oil, salt, pepper or some chili powder to taste or toss in some chopped greens like tender kale or arugula. 

snap pea & nappa cabbage slaw

i've spent the last decade in tiny apartments with dinky little kitchens and cheap electric stoves. i made do. in fact, i made some pretty incredible meals out of those tiny kitchens! and while it's still going to be a long while before david and i own a home, we're making the jump to move into a house ...a real house!... with another lovely couple. it's going to be a big transition for us to merge our households, but i'm thrilled about this house, its beautiful kitchen, it's viking gas range, and the wildly productive vegetable garden that our house mate has been pouring his heart into for the past two years! 

but for now, i'm still in our apartment... sweltering on the top floor. it's too hot to consider turning on the stove or oven, so i've been playing with fun salads and smoothies. i've made a few batches of this flavorful dressing for myself and clients and love the sweetness of nappa cabbage. you can toss in any other spring veggies you like and some kind of protein! lot's of different combinations work well with this dressing!

snap pea & nappa cabbage slaw ~ serves 4 
1 pound nappa cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 pound sweet snap peas (about 2 cups chopped)
2 small persian cucumbers (about 2 cups chopped)
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup gomasio or toasted sesame seeds

optional additions:
toasted soy nuts
wasabi peas
hard boiled eggs
baked/fried tofu
ripe avocado
toasted seaweed snacks

shred cabbage and chop snap peas and cucumbers into small bites. mix in any other fun additions and dress with a hefty portion of miso-ginger-wasabi dressing. enjoy! 

miso-ginger-wasabi dressing ~ makes about 12 oz
6 oz fresh orange juice 
2 oz untoasted sesame oil
2 oz unseasoned rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons miso paste (white or chickpea miso works best!) 
1 heaping tablespoons fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon tahini
wasabi to taste (powder or paste) *optional 
best if you wiz this up in a blender, or you can just stir together. store leftover dressing in fridge. 

cold smoked chocolate s'mores tart

when i take pause to add them up, i know an incredible amount of amazing women! i've been so fortunate in the past few weeks to have shared wonderful conversations with the majority of them all ... brilliant, driven female entrepreneurs who meet together for a monthly discussion group. strong and fearless women i train and climb with indoors and recently on a rad ladies-only bouldering trip. knowledgeable and influential instructors who inspire and expand my own yoga practice. and a recent gathering of pnw food bloggers introduced me to a number of talented gals that i had been admiring for years, but had yet to meet in person. 

ladies, thank you all for overwhelming inspiration! 

one of my favorite local female-owned business, 'hot cakes' sent me a goodie bag of ingredients from their wilderness collection to test out. a portion of proceeds from this fun product line benefits organizations committed to preserving wildlife and wild places! so basically ... eat chocolate and save the wild! their alder wood cold-smoked chocolate chips and campfire caramel sauce worked their way into a tart that drew inspiration from a recipe from my friend sasha's blog 'tending the table.' sasha's peanut butter pie is wildly delicious and the crunchy addition of puffed rice in her "crust" was perfect for what i had in mind. adding a ganache layer makes things a bit more complicated, but it's well worth the extra effort. 

smoked chocolate s'mores tart 
note: i made a double batch to fill a 12" tart pan plus 3 mini-tarts (because that's what i own) ... but for a single batch, a 9" or 10" round tart pan or springform pan would all work well. if you have extra makings, fill some cupcake tins with leftovers! 

for the crust
1-1/2 cups pitted dates
1-1/2 cups raw cashews
1 cup puffed rice cereal 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
pinch of sea salt

for the smoked chocolate ganache layer
2 tablespoon coconut oil

for the almond cream layer
3/4 cup smooth almond butter
3/4 cup full-fat coconut cream 
2 tablespoons campfire caramel sauce
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
large pinch of sea salt

2-3 tablespoons campfire caramel sauce
1/2 cup puffed rice cereal
1/2 cup mini vegan marshmallows 

in a food processor, pulse cashews, cinnamon and sea salt until nuts are roughly chopped. add pitted dates and pulse until everything sticks together. transfer crust "dough" to a mixing bowl and work in the puffed rice. 

use a paper towel to lightly grease tart pan(s) with a little bit of coconut oil. press dough in using your fingers and just enough crust dough to cover the bottom of the pan. if you have leftovers, make extra mini tarts in cupcake tins! 

melt coconut oil and smoked chocolate chips in a double boiler. spread a thin layer of chocolate in the tart pan, and then transfer to freezer to let set. reserve a few tablespoons or more of melted chocolate to drizzle on top... just leave it in the double boiler so that you can easily reheat it later. 

in a blender, combine ingredients for the almond cream layer until smooth. it should be slightly airy and pourable, like a thick smoothie. add coconut milk if needed to loosen the mixture. check on the chocolate layer and make sure that it is fully hardened before topping the tart with the almond-cream layer. fill tart pan to the brim. sprinkle the top with marshmallows and puffed rice - whatever proportion you think looks good! return tart to freezer for another 15+ minutes, until almond-cream layer is firm. 

finally, reheat melted chocolate in double boiler and warm the caramel sauce. drizzle both over the chilled tart. return to freezer until ready to serve! to serve, gently remove the tart from the pan and let sit for a few minutes at room temp, until it's easier to cut tarts with a knife. you can also slice tart and return slices to freezer until ready to serve. i think the best texture is when frozen or when they've been sitting out at room temp for about 10 minutes. they can hold for an hour or two at room temp, but the almond-cream layer will soften significantly. 

thank you 'hot cakes' for your sweet contributions!