Fall is coming and with it the return of the roasted vegetable at our house! Summer is just too hot to have the oven on at high temps for too long, so I rarely if ever roast veggies during the summer months. There’s been a touch of cool weather in the mornings here recently, so it was time to bring back the glory that is the roasted veggie! But since it is still pretty warm a cool, fresh salad is the perfect way to enjoy them.
Cauliflower is not something I enjoy much in its raw state unless it is drenched in good ranch dressing. But when roasted with olive oil, salt, pepper and some garlic it is transformed in to something super amazing. Here it also gets a tasty boost from cumin, which makes it next to impossible to resist snacking on before mixing it in with the rest of the ingredients for this salad.
The cauliflower gets combined with chickpeas, feta and pine nuts then tossed with a citrusy sumac dressing and peppery arugula. Sumac is a spice I’d never heard of before reading this recipe in the most current issue of Fine Cooking. I couldn’t find it at my grocery store and had to order it from amazon. If you don’t have it or can’t find it, don’t worry. It’s a nice spice and goes very well with all the flavors in the salad, but I didn’t find it to be a stand out in the dressing. It may not be the same without the sumac, but it will still be great.
I served this along side pork tenderloin and crusty bread the night I made it. The next couple days I ate it with some additional arugula and spring mix for a super satisfying lunch. The arugula will get wilted, so adding in some new lettuce is a good way to keep it fresh. If you wanted to make this ahead of time you could toss everything together except for the arugula and refrigerate it overnight. Toss with the arugula right before serving and enjoy!
Cauliflower & Chickpea Salad with Feta, Pine Nuts and Arugula
From Fine Cooking
1 large head cauliflower (about 2-1/4 lb.), trimmed and cut into 1-inch florets
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons sumac
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5 ounces baby arugula
3 ounces crumbled feta (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup dried currants (I did not use these)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Preheat oven to 425°F. On a large rimmed baking sheet toss cauliflower with a good drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and the cumin. Roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing halfway through, then remove from the oven and let cool.
In a large bowl whisk together lemon juice, sumac, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and some fresh ground pepper, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the cauliflower, chickpeas, pine nuts, currants (if using), and feta to the dressing and toss together. Refrigerate now to server later or toss with the arugula and serve.
I have three of the best sisters on the planet. I was lucky enough to have two of them down to visit a couple weeks ago. We are all different, but we all share an interest in food and cooking. When a holiday or party is coming up we often menu plan together. Lindsey and Sarah found this recipe for an orzo salad while they were visiting and it was the perfect side dish for the steak Ben grilled for dinner. I made it again the following weekend when my parents were in town and it was a hit yet again! This salad is simple and delicious and a great choice for a summer side dish.
This salad comes together quickly, can be prepared ahead, and can be served room temperature or cold, making it a really convenient dish. You can adjust the ingredients to your liking. I used a lot of tomatoes and herbs, with a small amount of dressing and feta. You can serve more dressing and feta on the side for guests who want more of it. You could leave out the chickpeas if you don’t care for them, but I probably wouldn’t add anymore than the can called for. The chickpea to orzo ratio seemed just about perfect.
The basil and mint combination make this salad bright and refreshing, the feta is a great flavor addition, the chickpeas are a nice texture surprise and the tomatoes provide lovely flavor and color.
The first time my sister made the dressing I was almost out of red wine vinegar so she subbed in some balsamic to make up the difference. The next time I made it I used all red wine vinegar and it definitely changes the dish. I think I preferred it with a little balsamic, but both ways are quite good.
I hope this makes its way to your table this summer! You will not be disappointed.
Orzo Salad with Chickpeas, Tomatoes, Herbs and Feta
From Giada DeLaurentiis
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 to 2 cups cherry, grape or other small tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on their size
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
4-6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
salt and pepper to taste
Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (can sub in half for balsamic)
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
Whisk vinegar, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper together in a bowl. While whisking, drizzle in the oil. Set aside. Note: You won’t use all the dressing. Save what’s left in the fridge to use on a green salad.
Cook orzo in boiling water according to package instructions, until al dente. Drain, then transfer to a serving bowl, toss and let cool.
Toss orzo with the beans, tomatoes, onions and herbs.
Drizzle with some of the dressing, taste and add more until you’re pleased with the flavor.
Toss in the feta if serving right away, otherwise cover and chill until ready to serve. Toss in the feta right before serving.
A dear friend gave me her copy of “Deceptively Delicious” , the cookbook by Jessica Seinfeld, when I complained about my kids not eating certain foods. Vegetables being our main problem. While perusing the cookbook I came across some really yummy looking recipes. The great thing is that almost every one sneaks veggies into foods that kids love (macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken nugget, etc .) I came across a chocolate chip cookie recipe that has an entire can of chickpeas in it. Well, we all know what I had to do that very day.
I changed a few things about the recipe, using butter instead of tub margarine, one egg and one egg white instead of two egg whites, and white whole wheat flour instead of all purpose. I also mashed up the chickpeas instead of adding them whole, just to avoid biting into a big ol’ chickpea, which didn’t sound super appealing.
The results were not bad! You can’t taste the chickpeas. Ben actually took one off of the cooling rack when he got home, ate it and declared it good before I told him they were semi-healthy. I didn’t even tell him about the chickpeas. He’s finding out now via the blog…
The cookies are cakey and bake up in mounds with very little spreading. I left some in mounds and flattened others. You can flatten them with your hand, the bottom of a glass or the back of a fork. Eaten the same day they’re baked they are really tasty. After storing them in a container for a day they stick together a bit and are very soft. BUT still quite delicious.
I used milk chocolate chips, but I think semi sweet or dark would be better. The raisins are optional, but I really liked them in these cookies. I used pecans, because that’s what I had. But, and I know this is out of character, I think walnuts would be better. I don’t think the white whole wheat flour made much of a difference in these since they’re already very hearty in texture, I used it because I had some and it made me feel like I was making these even healthier! Healthier cookies means I can eat more of them! And I feel better about giving them to the kids. Both of the big kids, almost 4 and almost 2, really liked these. So while I won’t be making these cookies every time I want chocolate chip cookies, I will be making these again.
Houston received quite a bit of rain on Monday, and so that morning I began looking for good rainy day meals. Of course soup came to mind, but then I came across this recipe for a chicken and chickpea stew on Epicurious.
The recipe is simple. Sauteed veggies mixed with chicken in a simple chicken broth sauce spiced with cinnamon and cumin and served over whole wheat couscous. I made things even easier by shredding a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the pound of chicken breasts the recipe calls for. I also left out the tomato paste, did not drain the canned tomatoes, used 2 cups of broth instead of 1, and garnished with fresh cilantro and mint. The combination of fresh herbs with the spices was wonderful.
You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by leaving out the chicken, using vegetable broth, adding more tomatoes, zucchini, chickpeas, or trying some different veggies. I guess you could use some type of mock meat…if you’re into that kind of stuff. I have tried and actually liked some of those choices, like a Philly “Steak” made with seitan at a food truck called Counter Culture in Austin. Thanks for taking me, Sarah! It really wasn’t bad, but I don’t see myself ever cooking it. If I am going to cook something vegetarian at home, I stick with veggies and protein packed beans. Plus I don’t think Ben would ever go for it. He had a hard time eating chicken sausage, so I don’t think he’d go for tofu or seitan in place of good ol’ reliable meat.
1 small rotisserie chicken, shredded (use 2-3 cups of chicken)
1 box whole wheat couscous (prepare what you need according to the instructions)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 zucchini, chopped into 3/4 inch chunks
2 cloves garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
chopped fresh cilantro and mint for garnish (0ptional)
Heat oil in deep skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in garlic, cook for 1 minute, then add zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, cumin and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, broth and chicken. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Taste and season accordingly.
While stew is simmering, prepare couscous according to package instructions.
Serve stew on top of couscous and garnish with cilantro and mint.
This vegetarian dish can stand alone as the main meal, or it can be served as a side dish. I served this alongside some grilled chicken. When I asked Ben if he’d be OK eating a vegetarian dinner or if he wanted chicken, well, you know what he said. If I were to serve this as a side again I might leave out the chickpeas. It seemed too substantial as a side with them. It can be eaten warm, at room temperature, or cold (which is how I’ve enjoyed it for dinner and lunch the last couple days).
Yes, I made yet another meal with couscous. I like couscous. My grocery store had whole wheat this time, so I grabbed 2 boxes just in case they decide to stop carrying it again. This is an incredibly simple meal to prepare. The only bad part is having the oven not only on, but on at 450°F to roast the vegetables. It’s in the triple digits outside, so it does seem a little crazy to make it even hotter inside. I do love the flavor that roasting vegetables produces, so it’s worth it. The combination of rich roasted vegetables with the cumin and the bright flavor of the lemon is wonderful.
This recipe came from my dear friend Martha Stewart. I played with it a little bit, but will not say that I “adapted” it at all. I used baby carrots, omitted the arugula completely, and then the dressing I just mixed up without measuring. I used about a tablespoon of olive oil, the zest and juice of one large lemon, and salt and pepper. I’ve said this before, I do not like things to be overdressed or sauced. You can always add more, but you can’t take any away. It’s like cutting bangs, sort of. Some of you know what I mean. Anyway, start by adding a little dressing, taste, and then add more to your liking. The recipe below reflects my changes. The original can be found here. Enjoy!
Roasted Cauliflower and Carrot Couscous Salad
Courtesy of marthastewart.com
1 pound carrots, sliced 3/4 inch thick on the diagonal (or halved baby carrots)
1 head cauliflower (3 pounds), cored and cut into florets
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cup whole-wheat couscous
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
6 scallions, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place carrots and cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet; toss with cumin and 1-2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until browned and tender, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating sheet and tossing halfway through. Cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups salted water to a boil. Stir in couscous; cover and remove from heat. Let stand until tender, 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork; set aside to cool, uncovered.
Make dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lemon zest and juice and remaining tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine roasted vegetables with couscous, chickpeas, and scallions. Toss with dressing.
It makes me so very happy that I will never be forced to buy pre-packaged hummus or pita chips again! Freedom from store bought foods! Ok, so there may be a time when buying a bag of pita chips will be necessary. BUT, if I have the time to make my own, then I will make my own because the hummus is delicious and easy, as are the pita chips.
Both recipes come from Finecooking.com. There are quite a few hummus recipes on the site, but this one seemed just different enough to be fun without being weird or overly complicated with ingredients. I like the versatility of hummus. A dip for pita chips or fresh veggies, and equally good spread on a flat bread with veggies or some turkey and wrapped up for a quick lunch.
The garlic in this hummus is cooked in olive oil along with some ground cumin to mellow the flavor of the garlic, and the results are really nice. The soy sauce in the hummus isn’t obvious, but does add something to the flavor.
For the pita chips, make sure to halve them to create 2 circles, then cut the pita halves into triangles or strips. If you cut the entire pita into pieces, your chips will not crisp quite as well. The recipe calls for 10 pitas, but I only used 4. Just cut what you need, brush them on both sides with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Easy peasy.