Summer Eats: Almond Romesco Pasta Salad

If you’ve never tried a romesco sauce, you haven’t lived yet.  This smoky-garlicky-peppery sauce can be put on basically everything: toast, chicken, roasted potatoes, sandwiches, pizza and pasta!

This romesco pasta salad is one of our family favorites — a perfect summer’s eat!  It’s pretty easy to make (see recipe below) and it can be even easier if you ditch the oven heat and substitute roasted peppers for one small jar of roasted peppers. It tastes even better when eaten ‘al fresco’!

Almond Romesco Pasta Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 medium red bell peppers (roast it with 1 tbsp of olive oil for 10 minutes at 400F)
  • 1/2 cup no skin almonds (I used salted/roasted marcona almonds)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons paprika (I used Spanish sweet pimenton)
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 pound medium pasta shells
  • 1 10oz package fresh baby spinach

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions but shorten 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile add all remaining ingredients except the spinach to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
  3. Place spinach on a large bowl. Drain the pasta well and place it over the spinach, turning it with a drizzled of olive oil in order to wilt it.
  4. Add the romesco sauce and toss it well.
  5. Refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes before serving. If you have any leftovers store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Smorgasburg LA for Mother’s Day

I can’t believe it took me so long to get to Smorgasburg but it finally happened, and ON Mother’s Day! This little piece of foodie heaven has been in LA since last summer and all I’ve done since then is drool over their Instagram pictures, dreaming of the day I’d have a bite of this place.

It was the perfect experience gift for this mom! Yup…I ate like a mother and can’t wait to do it again. No regrets. No shame. Only a thankful heart and expanded waist.

My orders, in order of consumption.

Caramelized bacon and avocado musubi from Mama Musubi.

Polar Berry Club from Donut FriendLemon glaze, fresh mixed berries, and mint on top of a traditional donut.

Empanadilla de Camarones from The Ricans Food; deep fried Puerto Rican turnover that reminded me so much of Brazilian pasteis.

I can’t even describe correctly all that it’s going on in this slush from Lade Slush Co. Basil watermelon pulp topped with 1/2 lemonade and 1/2 mint tea slushy. It was the best and most enjoyable brain freeze I ever had!

When I though I couldn’t handle anymore food there was Sticky Rice on Wheels and I somehow manage to eat this mango & coconut sticky rice treat.

And as I was on the verge of food comatose, I also tried small bites of my family orders of dumplings, fried chicken, weird tasting soda in a jar, and mandu–because it’s crucial that you try this head size Korean dumplings!

I think you should try ‘hard’ to check out Smorgasburg LA. Come hungry and leave guilt behind. Bring the kiddos but leave the fido–no pets allowed. They are open every Sunday from 10am-4pm. They offer 2 hrs of free parking. Most vendors accept credit cards but bring some cash too. New vendors are added frequently, so check their Instagram for updates.

Pear Mint Chardonnay Sorbet

Need I say more? It’s my favorite fruit paired with wine in a dessert form. It’s delicate, refreshing and a little boozy!

It was my first time making this so I based my proportions on basic sorbet recipes. I think I could’ve used one more pear–but who knows? Maybe it’s just my pear obsession talking! I went with organic green anjou pears but any pear will do.

I kept the skin on to get the most flavor and some color out of the pears. They were so ripe that it took less than 5 minutes for them to cook.

The most labored part of this recipe was straining the ingredients. I used a super fine mesh strainer–not the best choice. It took a while and the idea of throwing it all in the blender crossed my mind. Note to self and to you: use a strainer with larger perforation.

I used a buttery and slightly citrus Chardonnay to balance the sweet–Slow Press Chardonnay 2014 found at Costco for under 12 dollars.

 When using a ice-cream maker is important to let the mixture cool down–about 45 minutes in the fridge. If you don’t have a ice-cream machine you still can make this by placing it in the freezer and steering it every so often until it’s smooth–about every 15 minutes for hours and hours and hours. You can either go get a ice-cream machine (trust me, it’s worth it!) or you can sip on the leftover wine to help you cope with the the 132 trips you’re about to make to the fridge!

Pear Mint Chardonnay Sorbet

This Pear Mint Chardonnay Sorbet is delicate enough to be a palate cleanser in between courses and also refreshingly decadent to be served as dessert. Oh also remember: For adults ONLY!

Ingredients

  • 2 medium pears-peels on
  • 1 cup water (preferably filtered or distilled bottled)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 medium mint leaves chopped

Instructions

  1. Heat water, sugar, and pears in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat to a low boil, then reduce heat to low, partially cover pan, and gently simmer until pears are very tender, 5 minutes. Mash mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or large measuring cup. Stir in wine and salt. Let cool off in the fridge for about 45 minutes. Pour mixture into an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions. Add mint when sorbet is forming. If you don't have a ice cream maker keep the mixture in a 4 cup measure cup in the freezer and stir every 10-15 minutes until frozen (see blog entry for details) Store sorbet in an airtight container. Enjoy it often!

From Root to Leaf: Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Chimichurri

Why carrot tops are not eaten in our country has been a mystery to me. I grew up eating them in soups, stews and who knows what else. I was not a fan, but I ate them. A lot! And contrary to what some people may think, carrot tops aren’t toxic. I’m happy I lived to tell you about it!

Now, carrot tops texture and strong flavor may be a challenge to some people’s palates. It’s not the kind of greens I would use on a plain salad. However, when used as a herb–such as parsley or cilantro–it can add texture and flavor to any dish.

There are plenty of carrot top chimichurri recipes out there. All are pretty much the same with slight variations. Is what you do with your chimichurri that matters most. And because I believe on ‘what grows together goes together’, I topped roasted rainbow carrots with it. It tasted so good. Perfect combination of sweet, smoky and tangy flavors.


Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Carrot Top Chimichurri
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch of medium rainbow carrots
  • 1 cup carrot tops, chopped fine
  • ½ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano (can be replaced by 1 teaspoon of dry oregano)
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 small shallot minced (can be replaced with regular or purple onions. Approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • ½ teaspoon of chili garlic sauce (optional)
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Some fresh ground pepper
Instructions
  1. For the carrots: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the green top and reserve for the Chimichurri. Wash and peel the carrots. Place them on a baking sheet. Toss the carrots with some olive oil and salt. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender.
  2. For the Chimichurri sauce: Wash and dry your carrot tops well before chopping them as they tend to have lots of dirt. Combine all the ingredients in the order they appear leaving the vinegar and olive oil for less. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Notes
Serve with roasted carrots, toasted bread, or over grilled flank steak.

 

Lemon Brownies with Crusty Glaze

Quick take; too many lemons in the fridge. Searched recipes on my favorite blogs. Came across this Lemon Brownies recipe from Wicked Good Kitchen. Faced my baking insecurities. Worked really hard on being precise with measurements and directions. Ended up with the truly most amazing “Best Ever” lemon brownies and a token of baking confidence in my pocket.

If you have been here before you already know I’m not a good baker. No matter how hard I try, the baking stars seem not to align for me. So I was ecstatic when this recipe turned out as one of the best things I’ve ever baked!

Well, maybe not all stars were aligned. My glaze for the brownies looked great but tasted horrible. I blame the confectioned sugar that, although not expired, tasted like plastic. It has happened to me before and, according to Google, it happened to many other people too. So I dumped the glaze and the confectioned sugar, dust off my apron and got creative.

I made this simple Brazilian “calda” (syrup):

  • All tablespoons (5 sugar/2 lemon juice/2 water)
  • Combine in a small saucer/pan and cook until transparent and thick (about 6 minutes)
  • Spread over the baked brownies and let it sit until hard (We didn’t wait but if you do know that these brownies were even better the next morning)

Once the syrup dried it formed a beautiful sugary crust with a moist layer underneath that complemented the lemon brownies so perfectly.

Big shout out to Stacy from Wicked Good Kitchen. Thank you! I love this recipe and your blog!

Falafel Stuffed Eggplant with Yogurt Mint Sauce

I love falafel and I love eggplant. Putting them together this intimately was one of the best things it ever happen in my kitchen. No exaggeration here. And topping it all up with a creamy and tangy yogurt sauce makes this combo even better. Sounds like vegan porn to me.

Here is how you make it:

Wash and dry 2 medium eggplants. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and score cut sides with a crosshatch pattern. Drizzle some olive oil and salt on the eggplant halves. Place them cut sides down, on a baking sheet lightly coated with olive oil. Bake at 475° for 7 minutes or until slightly tender.

While the eggplant halves are baking prepare the falafel mixture according to box directions–I used a whole box of Cashab Falafel Mix for this recipe and it was almost the perfect amount of stuffing. I overfilled mine halves and, if you love falafel as much as I do, you should overfilled yours too!

Remove from oven and carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell. You can reserve the pulp for another use or you can shamelessly eat it right away just like it did!

  

Spoon the falafel mixture into each eggplant shell. Bake at 450° for 25-30 minutes or until the falafel is browned and crispy.

To make the Mint Yogurt Sauce, follow the recipe below. You can serve the sauce on the side or drizzle it all over the eggplant. Why not do both?

Since I made this recipe I keep thinking what else can I possibly stuff with falafel. I’m obsessed!


Yogurt Mint Sauce
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt. No regrets!)
  • ¼ cup minced mint
  • ½ clove garlic, finely diced or grated
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste (Start with a little and add as much as you like, always tasting in between. I'm horrible when it comes to salting my recipes. Still learning!)
Instructions
  1. Place yogurt, mint, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It'll be best to let sit for 30 minutes but it can be served right away. Store on an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Our San Diego Food Finds

When we travel, one of the first things I do is figuring out where and what to eat. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you some of the places we tried in San Diego during Spring Break. Although we’ve been in San Diego many times before this was our first time exploring some ‘ecliptic’ places to eat with our kids. I can tell you how proud I was when my picky eater gave braised rabbit pie a thumbs up– clearly, she didn’t know she was eating rabbit until after she finished it. Oh the horror!!!

Here are some of the places we ate at and loved in San Diego.

Puesto

Delicious tacos, great cocktail menu and the best Palomas I have ever tried.

Oh…the pickled mezcal watermelon is a must!

Donut Bar

This donut on the left corner is their famous Big Poppa. Get this: It has an entire homemade blueberry Pop Tart in it!

The Lion’s Share

Maybe not the best place for kids but we took a chance and we were one happy family–especially after the first set of hand-crafted cocktails.

The menu included the braised rabbit hand pie I mentioned earlier and this lean but creamy and 100% deliciousness bison tartare.

Gelato Paradiso

How can something so creamy taste so light? Arguably, one of the best gelatos around. I had the most delicious chocolate hazelnut (Bacio) and my daughter’s strawberry gelato was to die for.

Four amazing days celebrating family and spring in sunny San Diego! It was the perfect SoCal ‘staycation’ with special eating bonus. San Diego left me hungry for more! Until next time.

Sunday Cooking Warrior!

If you follow my Instagram account you’ve seen my Sunday meal prep effort. Making or prepping food ahead is the only way to eating ‘healthyish’ in this household. Investing a couple of hours on the weekend shopping, cooking, and prepping ahead makes it much easier to eat well balanced meals during the week. And by well balanced meals I really mean less take-out and more homemade.

This week was a fail for me on the “homemade dinners” department. Too tired. Too lazy. Now I’m paying the price. I’m feeling it in my gut, pocket and conscience–there was a lot of guilt that came with last night’s take-out.

So to shake the crap out my tired and lazy self, I’m sharing some of my favorite dishes to make ahead.

Whole Chicken Roast

Roasts are easy to throw together. You can roast a whole bird, juicy piece of pork or beef loin. Some potatoes and root veggies on the bottom and sides, meat on top, herbs+spices+liquid (lemon/orange juice, wine, beer…) and that’s as effortless as it gets in the homemade dinner business. Fridge to oven to table.

Belluga lentils

Lentils don’t need to be soaked and they cook quickly. Can be done on stovetop, slow cooker, and even pressure cook. It’s healthy. It’s filling. It taste even better the next day…and the following. It keeps for over one week in the fridge and It’s the perfect leftover for lunches. I like any kind of lentil but the Beluga is our family favorite. Cook it in chicken broth, crushed coriander+cumin+mustard seeds, bay leaf, onion and garlic. Serve with a scoop of steamed rice. I can eat this for days!

Lasagna with Spinach and Sweet potato layer

Lasagna! The best thing about lasagna is that you can make so many variations of the same dish. Of course we love the rich cheesy kind but I try to make healthy substitutions. My apologies to my true Italian friends but I like to alternate a layer of noodles with a layer of thin sweet potatoes, replace ricotta with cottage cheese, add spinach and other veggies to the sauce. Whatever the flavors are, lasagna is always a family pleaser and a favorite leftover for lunch too.

 

Make ahead Stuffed Bell Peppers with curry couscous

Stuffed bell peppers, eggplant, squashes…any chubby veggie goes. I’ve stuffed vegetables with couscous, quinoa, leftover rice, and even falafel mix. Think about a thanksgiving stuffing recipe but replace the bread part with some cooked grain and you have a ‘dealicious’ filling for any vegetable that can handle to get stuffed!

Vegetables ready to roast

Roast vegetables and keep it in the fridge ready to side any protein or add to pastas and salads. My favorite combo is eggplant, bell peppers and zucchini. Dress it with plenty of olive oil, salt, pepper, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a couple of whole garlic cloves. 430F for 15 minutes. Not too mushy. Not too raw. Perfect!

Not feeling kneady

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

There’s a lot that happened in my kitchen & table between the last post and this recipe, but I’m running short of time these days. But I had to stop and write this down because it’s too good to keep it to myself. I tried NO knead bread and it worked…it works!!!!!! I’m in absolute bread nirvana and I hope  you will be too. Here is my ‘NO knead bread’ story:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour (I used Gold)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1½ cups room temperature water

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

I combined flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Added water and stir gently. Allowed to sit overnight (over 12 hours) in a airtight container. This is how it looked like after sitting in my counter for 13 hours…sticky and bubbly.

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

Shaped/folded into a loaf gently. I had to remind myself it’s a NO knead bread because I was still skeptical!

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

I think the most important part of this process is how you bake the bread. It has to be baked in a covered dutch oven type of pot AND it has to be preheated at a high temperature for at least 20 minutes. I drizzled a bit of olive oil on the bottom after I preheated at 500F. Dusted the loaf with some whole wheat flour and dropped in the pot. Baked covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 12 minutes (still 500F) and this is how it came out.

dealiciouscooking.com

Outside…Crisp, crackly, bread with a crust that pops as it cools. Inside… tender, moist and chewy texture. I’ll be definitely making this again, and again, and again.

dealiciouscooking.com

Breakfast Bowl: Roasted yams and apple with Greek yogurt, maple syrup and pumpkin seeds.

Yam Apples and Yogurt

Ahhhh…I would eat toast with butter and jelly everyday but that will end up crashing my 40 something metabolism and leave me hungry by 10am. It’s hard to come up with exciting choices when eggs and oats get old.

I’ve been obsessed with Greek yogurt and maple syrup lately. It’s a tasty combination. Adding roasted yams and apples to it may not sound very appetizing but it tastes truly ‘dealicious’!

RoastedYamsApples

Peel and cut in cubes 1 large yam and 3 honeycrisp apples. In a bowl, mix approximately 2 tbsp. of coconut oil, 1 tbsp. of brown sugar, pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Toss the yams and apples, place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. That was the hardest part. Now the easiest; top with plain Greek yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds for a bit of a crunch and enjoy this nutritious and wholesome breakfast!

YamsApplesYogurt