zucchini noodles, pesto & mushroom meatballs

first off, i warned you that i might harass you with zucchini noodle food porn for a bit while i test recipes with my new spiralizer!! 

second... let me just gush for a moment about the past few weeks. it has been dry and often sunny in seattle (woo!) i've been private chef-ing by bicycle (groceries and all!), drinking a lot of sour beer during seattle beer week, teaching and practicing lots of yoga, and playing shows with my folk rock band. i could be a character in portlandia. whatever. i am thriving and happier than i think i've ever been. on top of it all, i was thrilled to spend the past weekend celebrating my brother-like cousin and his beautiful new bride! i loved seeing their non-stop grinning, and i was all smiles on the dance floor with my guy. such a fun celebration that was all orchestrated my sister, the wedding planner, who is just 10 days away from getting hitched too!! 

it's been a busy couple of weeks full of love, laughter and as always... great food. like this meal! you could try these meatballs with tomato sauce on regular pasta just as well... or try making a batch of fresh pesto from whatever herbs and nuts you have on hand. 

arugula pesto ~ makes about 1 cup
1 1/2 cup packed arugula
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3+ cup olive oil
1/3 cup pecorino cheese, grated (for vegan recipe, sub 1/4 cup nutritional yeast) 
1/2 teaspoon salt

in a food processor, mince peeled garlic. add cheese, nuts, arugula, salt and lemon juice and pulse. continue to process and slowly add olive oil until you reach the desired consistency for your pesto sauce. 

mushroom meatballs ~ serves 4
adapted from sprouted kitchen
1 cup french lentils
10 oz crimini mushrooms
4 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1 egg*
2 tablespoons arugula pesto, or store bought pesto (or 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs) 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup gluten free rolled oats
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper

preheat oven to 400 degrees. in a small sauce pan, bring 3 cups of water to a boil and add lentils. simmer for 10-12 minutes until just tender. strain and cool. slice mushrooms and garlic and sautee in olive oil over medium heat until gently browned. add tamari to the pan and cook until liquid has steamed off. remove from heat. in a food processor, pulse oats to finely chop into a course flour. add remaining ingredients along with the strained lentils and cooked mushrooms & garlic. process until combined but still slightly chunky - just a few lentils left whole. 
in your hands, roll one rounded tablespoon of the mixture into a ball and place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. you can make them larger (maybe 2 tablespoons) but just be sure they are all the same size. bake for 15-20 minutes, gently flipping over after about 10 minutes. serve warm with pesto sauce! 
*for a vegan recipe, you could sub egg for 1 tablespoon of chia seeds soaked in 2 tablespoons of water and gelled for 10 minutes. 

zucchini noodles
1 large or 8 oz zucchini per serving
see my last post about the awesomeness that is the spiralizer! 
coat noodles with how ever much pesto you desire, top with meatballs and a dusting of parmesan or pecorino cheese & aleppo pepper.

grilled halloumi with tarragon, basil & strawberry

i first discovered this halloumi cheese while studying abroad in cyrpus, where it is traditionally made. it was slightly squeaky like other fresh cheeses, and was typically prepared either grilled or baked. so when 'good food life' asked me to write a guest post about vegetarian grilling, i had to include a recipe for grilled halloumi! a simple marinade a fresh grilled fruit bring a brightness to the salty yet mild flavor of halloumi. you can read the rest of my guest post here for a few other ideas for summer grilling! 

marinated grilled halloumi skewers ~ makes 6
9 oz halloumi cheese*
3 or more large, ripe strawberries, halved
6 x 6-inch skewers, soaked in water

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 pinch salt & pepper 
1 pinch aleppo pepper 

in a medium sized bowl, combine ingredients for marinade. strain halloumi cheese from brine and cut into one-inch cubes. toss in marinade and let sit in the fridge until ready to grill. to assemble, skewer 3 cubes of halloumi along with half strawberry. grill over high heat on a freshly cleaned and oiled grill. once you see caramel-colored grill marks, flip to grill the opposite side. remove from the grill and drizzle with any left over marinade. serve warm. 

*halloumi can be tricky to track down here in the states, but fully worth the effort! specialty delis often carry it, but call around first to see who carries it near you.

vietnamese zucchini noodle bowl

i have been wanting a zucchini spiralizer since the day i first borrowed a friend's four years ago. it seemed like such a silly kitchen appliance that i would probably only use to make zucchini noodles, and couldn't quite justify the forty bucks. four years later, i finally caved. i'll warn you now that i will probably try to justify that forty dollars with an excessive amount of zucchini noodle recipes. i apologize also for encouraging you to buy another thing to add to your over-flowing junk drawer or cabinet of kitchen gadgets. if you don't want to buy some bulky spiralizer, you could also spring for a julienne peeler... or if you trust your knife skills, go for it! julienne your little heart away!! but the spiralizer is just too fun to use, and the noodles are even that much more fun to eat. 

vietnamese zucchini noodle salad ~ serves 4
20 oz zucchini
1/2 cup chopped cilantro 
5 green onions
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts, crushed
1 red bell pepper
1 small bunch radishes
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil 
1 tablespoon grape seed oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon - or to taste - fish sauce (optional) 
1/2 teaspoon aleppo chili flakes
2 cups vietnamese pickled vegetables (see recipe below) 

trim ends of zucchini and use spiralizer to create zucchini noodles. alternatively, cut zucchini in half and scoop out the soft center with a spoon and julienne-cut into 2 inch long matchsticks. place noodles into a large bowl. 

clean and cut radishes in half, and thinly slice into half-moons. quarter the bell pepper, remove seeds and cut into thin strips. place radishes and pepper into the noodle bowl. add 2 cups of pickled vegetables, strained from the brine (remove the large slices of pickled raw ginger and garlic). clean and dice cilantro, and slice green onions at a diagonal. add to the vegetable mixture along with crushed peanuts. 

in a small bowl combine remaining ingredients (lime, oils, ginger, garlic, salt, fish sauce and chili flakes). whisk until combines. poor over vegetables and toss to coat. adjust seasoning to taste. serve chilled or at room temperature. great alongside fried tofu or shrimp! 

vietnamese pickled vegetables 
6 oz cucumber
6 oz carrot, any color
6 oz daikon radish
1/2 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar 
1/2 cup warm water
3 tablespoons raw sugar
1/2 inch cube raw ginger, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt

peel carrots and daikon. julienne into thin 2-inch long match sticks. cut cucumber in half and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. cut to match the size of the carrots and daikon. place vegetables into a colander and sprinkle with one teaspoon salt. massage the salt into the vegetables and let sit for 20-30 minutes until moisture starts to drain off from the vegetables. this will turn your vegetables into little sponges, ready to soak up the vinegar. 

in a large jar or bowl, combine sugar with warm water. stir to dissolve. add remaining ingredients. once vegetables have drained, gently squeeze as much moisture from them as possible then transfer into the water-vinegar mixture. pickle overnight in the fridge (8-24 hours). they will store in the fridge for several days. 

cold brew latte with vanilla-date almond milk

it's been unusually warm in seattle the last few days. rumor has it that the temperature broke some records. i am all for it. i'll take a balmy 85 degrees over our usual may rain anytime! besides yoga, i had nothing to keep me from being outdoors all day long. strolling through the neighborhoods, looping around beacon hill and meandering through madrona or walking up to volunteer park. all this walking has worked up a thirst for cold brew coffee. and while there is no shortage of good coffee in seattle, it's surprisingly satisfying to make your own overnight cold brew! especially when stirred with equal parts vanilla almond milk sweetened with dates (an idea i got from my old neighborhood cafe, joddee's). 

tomorrow, i'm catering (and attending) my sisters wedding shower. my plan was to bake two types of cookies to serve. but since it's been so warm in our apartment with the afternoon sun streaming in through our west-facing windows, i had to wake up early to get the baking out of the way before it got too toasty indoors. the recipes are repeats from previous posts. these buttery macadamia nut shortbread cookies, and an adaptation of this coconut macaroon recipe with an added 1/8 cup of cocoa nibs added to the mix. 

cold brew coffee ~ serves many, depending on your daily caffein consumption 

1 cup ground coffee beans (drip or french press grind is fine) 
5 cups water 

stir together in a large pitcher, to moisten the grinds. let sit for 12 on the counter, or longer in the fridge (up to 24). strain through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth. chill. 
*note that cold brew is high in caffein - think of it as condensed coffee: either cut with water or milk, and serve over ice. 

date sweetened vanilla almond milk ~ makes 4 cups 
1 cup raw organic almonds
3-4 medjool dates, pitted and quartered
4 cups water, plus more for soaking 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 

soak almonds in several cups of water overnight, or for 8-12 hours. after soaking, strain from water, rinse and place into blender with dates. add 4 cups of fresh water and blend for about a minute until almonds are fully broken down. strain milk through nut-milk bag into a bowl. squeezing gently to press all of the moisture through. transfer milk to a quart-sized jar and add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. stir and chill. 

cold brew latte with vanilla-date almond milk ~ serves 1
mix equal parts almond milk with cold brew and serve over ice. enjoy! 

shakshuka pizza

six years ago, i ventured abroad for seven months. i did a study abroad program in switzerland, and afterwards traveled around europe, spent a month working as a chef at a surf and yoga retreat in portugal, and then visited some egyptian friends and joined on their vacation to dahab on the sinai peninsula. after several weeks in egypt, i met up with my best friend in turkey for two months of trekking and sleeping in tree houses and bivouacs. it's pretty wild to think back to this time in my life, when at the age of nineteen i felt confident enough to travel independently. maybe naiive is more fitting. i honestly don't think i have that same courage now, to travel alone. or maybe it's that i know how much more enjoyable it is to have a travel partner with similar interests and energy!

nevertheless, i've been itching to travel again and was recently looking back at old photos from this trip. photos that i can hardly believe are now six years old! one photo, brought me back to a morning in dahab. i had woken up early to call my grandfather (he had given me one rule to follow: "travel. but always come home") i sat on the beach, looking out across the red sea to the shores of saudi arabia and told him all about egypt. once my friends woke up, i joined them for breakfast at one of the many sea-side cafes. this is where i first had shakshuka. a dish of eggs baked in a stew of tomatoes, onions and peppers served with crusty white bread to sop up the juicy stew and runny yolks. it was so divine, i think i ate enough to last me until dinner. the photo and daydream inspired me to make a shakshuka pizza with the dough that had been rising for the past 24 hours on my kitchen table.

shakshuka pizza ~ serves 2
1 large, or two small pizza dough(s) - see recipe below, or store bought
1/2 cup san marzano brand pizza sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped pickled peppers or cherry bomb peppers
8 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
salt, pepper & aleppo
2 eggs

preheat oven to 500 degrees with the pizza stone in the center of the oven. in a small bowl, combine pizza sauce with cumin and paprika. set to the side. slowly saute onions in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, over low heat in a cast iron skillet for 30 minutes. stir every 5 minutes or so until caramelized but not too browned. cut tomatoes in half and coat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. pace cut-side up on a baking sheet and roast in pre-heating oven for 10-20 minutes until juicy and browned. let cool. 

you can either make two personal size pizzas, or one larger pizza to share. (see notes below on stretching dough). build pizza on peel, one at a time. top with a thin layer of spiced pizza sauce. scatter the onions, peppers, tomatoes & feta and gently press toppings into the dough. slide pizza onto the baking stone, and then crack one or both eggs onto the pizza. bake until crust in browned and egg whites are cooked through. if you want a runny yolk, you may want to let your pizza get a few minute head start on baking. remove from oven and top with fresh parsley and aleppo pepper. repeat for second pizza. 

thin crust overnight pizza dough ~ makes 4 small pizzas
*adapted from delancey's pizza workshop recipe
465 grams cold water
1/8 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
680 grams all purpose flour
20 grams kosher salt

*** years ago, i assisted a workshop with the owner of delancey pizza in seattle, to learn about making great pizza dough at home. i highly recommend you enroll in the workshop so that you can learn all about the science, tricks and tips behind perfect pizza dough. there is too much information to reiterate, but here are a few key lessons:

weigh your ingredients ... don't proof your yeast ... use freshly milled flour ... invest into a pizza stone and paddle ... plan ahead and aim to let your dough rise for 18-24 hours ... dough can be frozen after proofed and portioned (and stored up to one month), and defrosted in the fridge overnight ... always work with dough at room temperature to roll out ... and don't use a rolling pin

to make dough, mix yeast with water and oil in a very large bowl and stir to dissolve. weigh flour and salt together, and add a cup at a time into the water/yeast mixture. start with a whisk to stir until it becomes pancake batter consistency. as you continue to add flour, switch to a wooden spoon. continue to mix until fully combined. do not kneed. form into a dough ball-ish shape, and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. rub with hands to coat the surface of the dough. cover with a dish towel, and let rest for 18-24 hours.

once the dough has proofed, turn out onto a floured surface. gently kneed for just a minute, adding flour until the dough becomes less sticky. portion into four even parts and form into smooth boules. let rest for on a floured surface, covered with a towel, for another hour.