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


  • 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


  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.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

I’m excited to share this idea here. It’s pretty simple to make and so delicious.  I’m a big fan of chickpeas but they do need a lot of love to really get their flavors going. Mash them up with some cumin, lemon and a touch of heat and you have a delicious salad to tuck into pita bread, roll on a tortilla or kale leaf, serve as a dip or as a base for a tartine.

This is how I made this batch, but you can add or hold ingredients to taste.

Use one can of chickpeas, drain and mash it slightly to keep a bit of a crunch.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

In a separate bowl mix well until creamy:

  • 1 tbsp pure tahini
  • 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice 1/2 lemon (aprox. 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of Huy-Fong Chili Garlic Sauce (it can be replaced with Sriracha or fresh chopped garlic and chili flakes)

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

Mix the sauce with the mashed chickpeas.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

I spread half of the salad evenly on top of a slightly toasted bread. Added some thin sliced cucumbers, watermelon radishes, chopped parsley, toasted almonds and lunch was ready.

I was so hungry…Taking the pictures was pure torture.

Spicy Mashed Chickpea Salad

I ate the other half of the salad as a dip for the extra cucumber slices and I finger licked the bowl.

Arugula and Grape Salad with Black Forbidden Rice and Blue Cheese

Arugula and Grape Salad with Black Rice and Bluecjeese

Black rice is the new brown and my family is officially converted to black rice. The benefits of black rice are endless and I blogged about it here but if you missed here is the scoop. Like brown rice, black rice is full of antioxidants, which is found in the outer layer that gets removed during the milling process to make white rice. But only black-rice contains the antioxidants known as anthocyanins, (also found in blueberries, grapes, and acai) that have been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer, improvements in memory, and other health benefits.

I was really surprise when my 8-year-old picky eater chose black rice over brown rice today. I’m pretty sure that she would’ve chosen white rice if it was an option, but black rice was her choice…and ‘that’ made my day!

I put this lovely salad together with the  leftover black rice for hubs and me. It was delicious and it took less than 10 minutes to make.

Arugula and Grape Salad with Black Rice and Bluecjeese

The deal: Sprouts has Lotus Organic Black Forbidden Rice for $3.99 (15oz bag) this week, which it’s definitely a great price!


Arugula and Grape Salad with Black Forbidden Rice and Bluecheese
  • For the Salad:
  • 7oz bag of wild arugula (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Wild Arugula)
  • ½ cup of green or red grapes cut in halves
  • ½ cup of steamed black rice (I used Lotus-Org Forbidden Black Rice)
  • ¼ cup of blue cheese (feta cheese and goat cheese works too)
  • ⅛ cup chopped walnuts
  • For the Vinaigrette
  • ⅛ cup minced onion or shallot
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon of liquid aminos or ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 orange squeezed
  1. Combine salad ingredients. Mix the vinaigrette ingredients well and drizzle over salad. Toss salad to coat. Add fresh cracked black pepper to taste.

Kale and Quinoa Salad with spicy citrus dressing

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Honestly,  I really suck when it comes to describe dishes, talk about foods in depth, explain what makes this or that recipe special. This kale salad is delicious, healthy and easy to make.  No fancy adjectives. No overuse of description words. And the fact that I can use a local food deal to prepare it makes this salad even more exciting. I hope you try it!


For the salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Quinoa and cook according to package directions adding some truffle salt and pepper. To get one cup of cooked quinoa, use ½ cup of raw quinoa)
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts (slightly chopped)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 small shallot (minced)
  • 1 medium carrot shaved (use a vegetable peeler to shave the carrot in thin slices OR use a cheese grater)

For the dressing:

  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of Liquid Aminos (if you don’t have it in the pantry just substitute for salt)
  • ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

Start by cooking the quinoa. While quinoa is cooling off wash kale well. Remove the ribs from the kale. Pile the kale leaves on top of each other and roll them up like a giant cigar. Thinly slice the kale.  Place it in a large mixing bowl.

Make the dressing by whisking with ‘gusto’. Taste it. Listen to your taste buds. They will tell you what to add (for me it’s usually more cayenne).

Now, this step makes all the difference so don’t skip it. Pour the dressing over the sliced kale mix and ‘massage’ it. Yes, massage it with your HANDS! Set aside and let kale marinade until slightly wilted (about 5 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients.

The salad will keep for over 4 days in the fridge depending on how fresh the kale was when you use it. When picking your kale bunch just make sure the leaves are not mushy and sad. You want happy kale with vivid color and crunchy aspect.

 The Deal

Organic Curly Kale is always 99c at our local Ralph’s

Sprouts usually has good deals on ‘in bulk’ nuts and if you are not a nut eater you can buy just enough for the salad (no waste of nuts or money)

Zucchini carpaccio with crème fraîche horseradish and arugula salad

Zucchini Carpaccio

This is an elegant, full of flavor and healthy dish. It may look difficult to make but it really isn’t. The thinner the zucchini slices the better. Don’t skip the salad. It compliments the Carpaccio really well.

For the Carpaccio:

  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchinis
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • ½ of 1 small lemon (reserve the other half)
  • 1-2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tablespoons of crème fraîche
  • 1 tsp of prepared Horseradish
  • Capers

Using a mandolin, a vegetable peeler or a very sharp knife if you have mad knife skills, slice zucchini into very thin rounds. Overlap zucchini disks in 1 layer on a plate; season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice. Mix the crème fraîche with the horseradish. Taste it. Needs salt? Add some. More horseradish? More crème? Maybe a splash of lemon juice. Make it your own. Dress the Carpaccio with it. You can simply do it with a spoon or put the mixture in a small Ziploc bag, cut one end, squeeze and drizzled all over. Pretty! Oops, almost forgot…place some capers to finish.

For the Arugula Salad:

  • 1 or 2 hands full of baby arugula
  • Juice of the reserved lemon half
  • Salt+pepper (you are on your own on that one)
  • 1-2 tsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Toss ingredients all together with your hands (trust me on this one). Grab (yes, with your hands) some of the salad and place it in the top/middle of Carpaccio platter. Garnish with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. If you need to learn how to toast this delicious fatty little nuts just click here.


Sprouts; Organic baby arugula 2 for 5 and zucchini 88c lb.

Trader Joe’s has the best price on crème fraîche and they carry a pretty good prepared horseradish.

You can find all ingredients for this dish at Trader Joe’s.

Green is Good

Green Tea Noodles with baked tofu and watercress on Miso Ginger dressing. Light and easy!

Miso Ginger Dressing

1/4 cup peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

1/4 cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons mild or sweet miso, like yellow or white

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium carrots, roughly chopped

1 inchlong piece fresh ginger, cut into coins

Salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Put all ingredients except salt and pepper into a food processor or blender. Then let machine run for a minute or so, until mixture is chunky-smooth. (If you want it smoother, use a blender.) Taste and add salt and pepper to taste. Add cayenne pepper if you like it HOT!



Week 1: Wednesday

I chose Atlantic farm raised salmon (Ralphs $7.99 lb.) over wild caught Sockeye Salmon (Sprouts $7.99 lb.) this week. Atlantic salmon has a milder flavor and I really wanted the kids to try it. They ate the “pink fish”  with little drama and lots of quinoa.

The white corn from Sprouts was super sweet and juicy. I boiled the 2 cobs with 1 tbsp of salt for 15 minutes, sliced the kernels in chunks of the cob, tossed all the ingredients together and made this ‘dealicious’ salad (all ingredients except for the lime were on sale) to go with the salmon.


1 org avocado diced

1 cup org red grapes cut in halves

2 green onions thin sliced

2 med tomatoes diced

Corn kernel chunks from 2 cooked corn cobs

1 tbs of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (you can hold it if you don’t like it spicy)

juice of 1 lime

(It can be kept refrigerated overnight. The lime juice keeps the avocado from browning).


1 pound of salmon

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp of honey

1 tbs of honey mustard

1 tsp of Vegenaise (or your fav Mayo)

1/4 tsp of granulated onion

Place salmon skin down on a nonstick bake pan. Salt it. Mix all the remaining ingredients and spread it over the fish. Bake it at 380 covered with foil for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake it for 5 more minutes at 400. The mustard-mayo spread locks in the moisture and adds to the unique creamy texture of the salmon.