Friday, December 13, 2013

Vegan Butternut Squash Apple Soup

When I make a recipe over and over again, I decide that it is blog worthy. Mostly for selfish reasons- I actually use my own blog to access recipes more often than I might like to admit.

This is one of those instances. I find that I make this soup at least once per month in the winter- often for potlucks and events as well. 

It is just too easy- mostly made of storage vegetables that most have on hand anyway, as well as being vegan and gluten-free, it is one of those dishes that everyone can enjoy it. My food version of that comfy sweater that you just can't seem to take off.

Nutritionally speaking, this is just a pile of vitamin A. 214% of your daily requirement in just one cup, to be exact. Offering some substantial antioxidant support, specifically in the arena of caratenoids, a cup of this winter wonder also provides us with nearly 30% of our daily Vitamin C needs. Move over miso soup, we have another immune booster in town. (for the record, I do realize how dorky I sound)

Vegan Butternut Squash Apple Soup
Serves 2-4
1 tbs. coconut oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 cups butternut squash or yam (or combo), cubed
1 large carrot, chopped
1 tart apple, chopped
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbs. fresh sage leaves
¼ tsp. sea salt
chili flakes, to taste (optional)
Spoonful of yogurt or coconut milk (optional)


Heat a medium pot with coconut oil over low-medium heat. Add onion, sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, squash/yam, carrot, apple and corn. Continue to sauté with lid on until squash is soft, another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add stock, sage, salt and chili flakes if using. Using a blender, an immersion blender if you have one, puree to desired texture. Sometimes I like to leave mine fairly chunky by just pulsing several times, and other times I go for a creamier consistency- it is all up to you. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Here we are again. In that in-between period- coming off the high of the summer harvest and sliding down the snow-covered hill towards full on winter. A few token vegetables are still coming from our local farms and gardens- mostly roots, a few hardy greens. So this post is an ode to kale. Because I have eaten so much of it this month that I am starting to turn green, and I still can't get enough. I love that it nourishes me into the winter, when my body needs it most.

Kale is a nutritional superstar, a green superfood, if you will. Super high in Vitamins K and A, this hardy green has the power to lower cholesterol, protect against free radicals and fight inflammation. Particularly rich in glucosinolates, which act inside our system as potent anti-cancer compounds, kale can play an active role in our preventative medicine routines.

If you enjoy spanikopita, you are going to love this kale-centric version. Go for high-quality ricotta and feta for this dish- it makes a difference. Around here, I love Maplebrook Farm for both products.

Serves 6


5 filo dough sheets, thawed (cover with a damp towel while not using) 
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbs. olive oil
1 lb. spinach, chopped if leaves are large
1 large bunch green kale
8 oz whole-milk ricotta
2 large eggs
1/2 cup crumbled whole-milk feta
2 tbs. fresh dill
2 tbs. fresh parsley
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
2 tbs. butter or oil, melted, more as needed 
Prep kale and spinach by washing thoroughly. Set spinach to steam until completely wilted. Drain and set aside. Once cool, squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Grabbing one kale leaf at a time, strip out stem and tear into pieces. 

In a heavy skillet, saute the diced onions in olive oil over low heat until slightly softened. Add garlic, stir for one minute and add kale. Cook until kale is completely wilted. Set aside to cool.

In a large mixing bowl combine ricotta, eggs, feta, dill, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly.

Add spinach and kale mixture to the large bowl . Stir ingredients until well combined and greens are distributed evenly. Taste, and adjust for salt. If desired, add a few dashes of red pepper for heat.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

On a large cutting board, lay out one sheet of filo dough, with the long side facing you. Brush with melted butter. Repeat until 5 sheets of filo dough are stacked, brushing with a thin layer butter between each layer.  

After the stack is completed, spread the feta and greens mixture along the long side facing you, about 2 inches from the edge. Carefully, roll up the dough to form a log starting with the side the feta mixture is on. The butter will help the sheets to stick together.  

Place completed log on parchment lined baking sheet. Score the top of the log with diagonal lines using a sharp knife in 1-2 inch segments.  This will make it easier to cut when the kale-a-kopita is finished baking.  

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Begin checking logs at 30 minutes and every 5 minutes after that. Kale-a-kopita is finished when it is golden brown on the top and mostly golden on the sides.

Allow to cool on the counter for 10 minutes before slicing.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Note- if multiplying this recipe for a larger crowd, make sure your logs have plenty of room between them while baking. They will expand and risk bursting when baked too close together.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Real Fig Newtons

I am pretty in love with turkish figs lately. In salads, with good cheeses, as a paste on flatbreads, in cookies- you just can't go wrong.

A nice source of potassium, which helps control blood pressure, figs are a healthy addition to the diet as well. Given their high fiber content and balanced sweetness, they make a great snack in between meals and have the power to class up any gathering. When serving a nice cheese plate, quartered turkish figs always make an appearance, and can become the star of the party. Be warned.

The blanched almond flour in this recipes yields a delicate and flaky crust, high in protein and naturally gluten-free. Although all of the ingredients are on the pricey end of the spectrum, a little goes a long way and I promise you will not be disappointed with the results. Save it for a special occasion and enjoy every last crumb.

Real Fig Newtons

Inspired by The Iron You and adapted from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook

Makes about 30 large cookies


2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
½ tsp. sea salt
¾ cup raw organic honey
¼ cup unrefined organic coconut oil, melted
1 tbs. vanilla extract

1 cup dried turkish figs

1/4 cup squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place dried figs in a food processor and blend until they are well chopped. Add lemon juice and vanilla and process until a smooth paste forms.

In a large bowl combine almond flour and sea salt.

In another small bowl add honey, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until a wet dough forms. It will seem a bit sticky, that is what you want. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Take the dough out of the fridge and divide into 4 parts. Between two pieces of parchment paper, using a rolling pin, roll each section of the dough out into a rectangle that is approximately 1/4 inch thick and 4 inches wide.

Spread a couple of tablespoons of the fig mixture lengthwise down the rectangle. Using the parchment paper, fold the dough along the long side to envelop the filling inside the dough.

Repeat with the remaining parts of the dough. Using wet fingers, smooth the seam and roll the package so that the seam ends up underneath. Seal at each end.

Carefully transfer the bars to a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and score with a sharp knife about every 2 inches. Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into slices.

Allow to cool completely before enjoying.

Relax. Eat Well.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Harvest Pearsauce

It seems like fall snuck up on me this year- and pounced. We went from 80 degrees one week to 50's the next, and with the dip the trees exploded with color, apples starting falling to the ground along every road side and the wool vests burst onto the scene.

I have had the pleasure of slightly too many pears coming my way this year (can you ever have too many?). They came about a month ago when a client shot me an email that her pears were ready, and invited me to take some home to work into her wedding menu. Yes, please. 5 gallons later, we had Pear Ginger Honey Preserves for the VT Cheese Board and chopped frozen pears galore for a Butternut Squash Pear Soup, to be served as passed hor d'oeuvre "shooters".  With a bit of a pile up in the freezer, I decided to pull some out this week for some Pearsauce.

Don't hold your breath- but this might even turn into "Pear Cider Donuts" later next week- energy levels permitting.

Organically grown pears don't always look pretty, but its mostly a cosmetic thing. Sure, you have to cut away the occasional rotten spot or insect hole, but the majority of the fruit is absolutely delicious. They have a short harvest season and life-span off the stem, so it is best to process them right away after harvest. I realize this post might be a little late for this year's harvest, but maybe it will get you thinking for the next.

I just washed, cored and chopped these babies, threw them in some freezer bags and froze until solid. Not peeling the pears cuts way down on prep time, and saves the insoluble fiber found mostly in the skin. Once it is pureed, no one will even notice.

When they defrost, much of the juice is released, which is a potently sweet syrup in its own right. I just poured that right into the pot with the thawed pears for this sauce- no additional sweetener needed. The result is absolutely delicious. The texture is distinctly pear, with a slight grit that you might not be used to with applesauce. My advice: just embrace it. YUM.

Harvest Pearsauce
Makes 1 quart

8 cups fresh or 6 cups thawed pear chunks, washed chopped with peel on
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg


Put all ingredients in a small pot, cover and place over medium heat until you have a serious simmer. Turn the heat down slightly and continue to cook down for 10-20 minutes.

With an immersion blender, puree mixture until nice and smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference- optional additions could be grated ginger, maple syrup, clove, or cardamon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seasonal Frittata

To follow my last post focused on fresh greens and salad-centric dishes, this page is inspired by protein. I had a great weekend spent with old friends, the kind that represents all that is summer- rafting along lazy rivers, simultaneous bocce and frisbee games on the lawn, bonfires and grill outs. Luckily, I have foodie friends, and there was no lack of garden-inspired cuisine. But as the sole veg of the group, my plate often lacked the protein punch. For a meal or two this often feels good to me, but by Sunday night I had a craving. Eggs. 

Luckily, we are in no short supply of farm-fresh eggs around these parts. It seems like almost everyone I know has backyard chickens, running around grub-filled fields and feasting on natures goodness. Cage-free, pasture raised chickens produce eggs full of nutrients that the factory farm eggs lack. Significantly higher in omega-3's fatty acids, vitamins A, D and E as well as beta-carotene and lower in cholesterol and saturated fat, chickens raised on pasture benefit from the bright green clover and alfalfa grasses, foraged insects and worms as well as seeds and hay. You can often see this manifest in the deep orange hues of the yolk, where the majority of the nutrition lies. This is a far cry from the often genetically modified corn, soy and cottonseed meals that caged chickens are fed. Add that to their active lifestyles and natural habits, and you have some much happier and healthier birds. Well worth the extra dollar or two a dozen.

So anyway, eggs are one of my favorite protein sources, given their nutrition, local prowess, and price-point. As a tribute to the age old "breakfast for dinner" tradition, frittatas are one of the easiest ways to create a stunningly delicious meal with seasonal ingredients and high-quality protein. Some of my favorite combinations are mushroom broccoli and manchego, sweet potato red onion and cheddar, and black bean sungold tomato and chèvre. The fresh herbs (a must) can vary according to the flavor profile you choose- same with the spices and garnishes. I like to serve mine with a simple fresh green salad on the side, along with some roasted roots for a full meal (think parsnips, yams, new potatoes and carrots).

Seasonal Frittata

Serves 6


1 tbs. sunflower oil
½ cup onion, scallions or ramps, chopped

3 cups of seasonal vegetables and legumes, (sweet potato cubes, broccoli, bell pepper, mushrooms, black beans, lentils etc.)
3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups of spinach or other hearty green, finely chopped
1 dozen farm fresh eggs
1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt
2 tbs. fresh herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro, dill) or ½ tsp dried herb (rosemary, thyme)
1/2 cup cheese of choice (chevre, cheddar, manchego, feta, fresh mozzarella)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat a large oven proof skillet over medium heat (you can check out my baby pictured to the right). Add sunflower oil and swirl to coat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add chopped seasonal vegetables, in order according to cooking time (potatoes first, then mushrooms, then peppers/broccoli etc.) and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not mushy. Add legumes (if using), garlic and greens, cover and cook until wilted. 

In the meantime, crack 12 eggs into a medium bowl. Add salt and pepper and whip until blended. Add fresh herbs and hot sauce/chili flakes if desired.  

Pour egg mixture over vegetables and stir briefly to bring vegetables off the bottom of the pan and distribute egg throughout. Top with cheese of choice and cook over medium heat, covered, until eggs are set on the bottom. Uncover, and transfer to the middle-upper rack of the oven. Cook for an additional 10-20 minutes, until the middle is well set and the edges are beginning to brown. Remove, let sit for 5 minutes and serve.

Relax. Eat Well. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fresh Spring Rolls

It is a salad season, that is for sure. Hot days lead into hot evenings, and most nights, no one wants to cook. Which is just fine, as it lines up nicely with greens popping out of the garden, snap peas dangling on the vines and cherry tomatoes bursting with sweet summer heat.

So that is our theme: raw, fresh and chock full of garden greens. But night after night of salads can become a tad boring, so this is my other favorite way to serve up the bounty. Rolled in fresh rice paper, spring rolls are essentially a salad in a wrap, with the dressing thickened up a bit for dipping. And for some reason so much more exciting- I promise they will be the hit of any dinner party you attend.

The possibilities are endless, so let your creative juices flow. The recipe I am posting below is for a fairly straight forward roll, but know that I leave you with ultimate creative license on this one. For a more substantial roll to replace a meal, try adding rice noodles, minced nuts and seeds, even fruit (mango?). Amp up the flavor with some thai basil, minced ginger or spicy chili peppers- you get the idea. My one rule: avocado is non-negotiable. Period.

This Thai Almond Dipping Sauce is my absolute favorite, but there are plenty of other options out there. You could go for a light tangy vinaigrette by mixing together equal parts honey and brown rice vinegar, with a dash of tamari and chili flakes. Or whip up an Orange Ginger dressing with some fresh squeezed orange juice, shredded fresh ginger, toasted sesame oil and a dash of salt. You get it.

As for the wrapping- there are two tricks. The first is to dip the wrapper in water until it is completely wet, remove immediately and place on your cutting board. By the time you have arranged your vegetables and are ready to wrap, it will be soft and pliable, but with some remaining integrity. Leaving the wrapper in the water until it seems ready to use will only lead you down a slippery path of ripping, tearing and ultimately, snorts of frustration. The second trick is let yourself practice. The first few might not be pretty, but you will get the hang of it. Those are perfect for your pre-dinner snack, as I guarantee you they will still be delish.

Fresh Spring Rolls


1 tbs. red Thai curry paste
2 tbs. almond butter
2 tbs. coconut milk
1 tbs. tamari
1 tbs. honey
1 tbs. lime juice

1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
2 medium carrots, shaved using a peeler
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
a handful of sprigs fresh cilantro, washed
a handful of mesclun greens, or shredded napa
¼ cup almonds, crushed
optional: toasted coconut shreds, minced ginger, minced chili pepper, vermicelli noodles etc.
12 spring roll wrappers (rice), 8½inch size


To prepare the dipping sauce, blend curry paste through lime juice in a small bowl or blender.

Place remaining ingredients separated on a platter. To assemble, set up a large deep plate of room temperature water. Slip a spring roll wrapper into the water until completely wet, remove, and lay it flat on a cutting board. Arrange vegetables along the middle of the wrapper in a straight line, along with almonds and optional toppers. Once the wrapper is pliable and soft, fold over the ends and roll the wrapper up as tightly as possible. Cut each roll in half across the middle diagonally, using a wet knife blade.

Stand the rolls flat on their ends and serve with Almond Dipping Sauce.

Relax. Eat Well.