Fresh, Fattoush

Hey There,

I’ve been spending all week rehabbing by diet since last weekend’s outing. Now, that I’ve spent the last five days eating relatively healthy, I’m ready to cut up again but before I do, I want to share with you all the last recipe I made from Persiana. This recipe is super simple, fresh and easy. It honestly tastes like summer. Traditionally, the salad has romaine in it, but because of the scarcity of romaine, I opted for arugula. Also, I prefer arugula over romaine any day especially when the salad calls for a lemony, citrus dressing.

This is a great example of using a recipe as a launching pad. When you are making something as simple as a salad you can definitely add and subtract anything you want to make the salad yours.

Again, be sure to check out this book. Preferably, pick up a copy from your local library. I’ve said it before but renting cookbooks from your local library is a great way to start exploring different foods. Also, it’s just always a great idea to visit and USE your local library, after all, your tax dollars pay for it! I feel like I get smarter the minute I walk to my local library….LOL.

Anyway, check out this recipe and if you decide to make it, let me know how it turns out!

See ya Monday!

~Samantha J.

Cheesy Tomato Harissa Soup

Hey There,

Soup season, soup season, soup season…I know you all are tired of hearing about soup season, but yall….it’s SOUP SEASON!!! LOL. Just bear with me a few more weeks. After about March, you won’t hear the words, “soup season” until October (well maybe).

But anyway, I have another soup for you all today. It’s a cheesy tomato harissa soup and it’s easy to make, which is always a plus. As yall know, I’ve been playing around with different and new spices and this soup is a result of that. Now harissa isn’t a new spice to me, but this is the first time that I have cooked with it. Since I normally make a spicy tomato soup each winter, I figured that I would use harissa to spice up my soup this year.

Harissa has a very full and dimensional flavor. It is spicy, robust and smokey all of the same time and it really adds a great punch of flavor to anything its added to. It pairs so well with tomatoes

Be sure to check out the recipe for this soup below. Like most soups, it travels well and makes for a great lunch or a healthy and simple dinner.

*Quick Note* – On this website, you will very rarely, if ever find measurements for the spices used in a recipe. I believe that cooking should be an organic process and the best way to season food is truly by taste. Also, a person’s tolerance for spices is truly a personal preference. My mother barely uses salt in any of her food but I on the other hand almost always load up on the salt in my recipes. I encourage you all to taste your food along the way and to season it accordingly.

Ingredients:

7 Tomatoes (on the vine) 1 1/2 yellow onion

Red pepper flakes/salt/pepper/harissa/garlic and onion powder

4 cups vegetable broth 2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour 1/4 cup olive oil

large handful of shredded cheese 1 head of garlic

Directions:

  1. Cut tomatoes and onion into wedges. Cut the top off of the head of the garlic place all ingredients on a baking sheet.
  2. Drizzle ingredients with olive oil and season (according to tastes) with salt, pepper, harissa, garlic, and olive powder. Toss and make sure all ingredients are coated well.
  3. Roast for 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Turn ingredients occasionally so that they don’t burn.
  4. Puree mixture until completely smooth and set aside.
  5. Dice half of the onion and saute in a dutch oven until translucent over med-high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over the diced onions and whisk until mixture thickens. About 1 minute. Reduce heat to low-med. heat. Be sure to continually whisk the mixture so that it does not burn.
  7. While whisking vigorously, pour in one cup of vegetable broth. Continue to whisk until mixture is smooth and lump-free, about 2-4 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and while whisking add in a handful of shredded cheese. Continue to whisk 3-5 minutes. Add in another cup of vegetable broth. The mixture will be stringy, but continue to whisk until smooth.
  9. Add in tomato mixture and whisk to incorporate.
  10. Add in the last two cups of vegetable broth.
  11. Season with more harissa and seasonings to taste.

*Note* – If you feel that at any time during the cooking process, the soup to too thick, add in a little extra broth to get the desired consistency.

Lentil and Quinoa Salad

Hey There,

So in today’s post, I am keeping with the theme of using new spices and flavors. Today’s “featured spice” is sumac. Until I found a Middle Eastern cookbook I had never heard of sumac or even seen it, but as I flipped through the cookbooks I noticed that it is a pretty common spice. It’s used in/on everything from salads to breads to meats. Now since it’s not a traditional “American” spice, it was pretty difficult to find in the grocery store but I managed to find some at the World Market and of course on Amazon. If you can find some in your local area, I strongly encourage you to pick some up and try it out.

I decided to use my sumac to make this Lentil and Quinoa Salad I found in “Persiana”. I really love this cookbook. I found it at the library and honestly, I don’t want to return it. It is definitely going in my Amazon cart asap! All of the recipes in this book look so great and easy to make. This salad is already the second recipe I’ve made out this book. Definitely check it out.

Since this recipe isn’t my own, I won’t post it below but I will add a few pics of my salad. Hope you enjoy!

Until Next Time,

~Samantha

Vegetable Noodle Soup

Hey There!

As you are well aware we are well into soup season. As soon as the temperature drops we all bring out our crockpots, dutch ovens, and stock pots. We load up on vegetables, noodles, and broths and from about October to March we make every type of soup imaginable.

I personally love soups. They are easy to make and they are the perfect weekday lunch; not too heavy, not too light and easily transportable. Also, they are relatively healthy. Just take for example this vegetable noodle soup that I recently made. Around this time of year, I normally make chicken noodle soup but this time, I wanted to switch it up and try something different. Instead of using traditional wheat noodles, I opted for vegetable noodles made from zucchini. Just switching out the noodles not only made this dish healthier but it changed it into a vegetarian/vegan dish.

If you are looking for a way to freshen up your traditional winter soups try this recipe or consider swapping out traditional noodles for vegetable noodles (zucchini, carrots, squash, sweet potato) in any of your favorite recipes.

Until Next Time. Stay warm and well fed.

Samantha

Vegetable Noodle Soup

1 green pepper 2 ears of corn (or frozen corn) 1 red pepper

1 white onion 1 bunch of parsley 3 cloves of garlic

3 zucchini 2 cups shredded carrots olive oil

salt pepper garlic/onion powder

1/2 small eggplant 6-8 cups of vegetable broth/water

  1. Dice onion, garlic, red and green peppers, and eggplant. Season all diced vegetables with salt, pepper onion, and garlic powder.
  2. Add a small amount of olive oil to a cast iron dutch oven and cook diced onion, garlic, red and green peppers until semi-soft.
  3. While diced vegetables are cooking, spiralize zucchini, roughly chop parsley and remove the corn from the ear.
  4. When vegetables are semi-soft (still have a crunch to them), add in broth/water.
  5. Bring the soup to a simmer and add in the corn. Cook until the corn is soft. *If using frozen corn, add the corn and immediately skip to step 6*
  6. Add in the shredded carrots and the diced eggplant.
  7. Continue to cook for 10 minutes.
  8. Add in zucchini noodles and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Stir in parsley and serve.

Ginger, Jalapeno Cashew Sauce

Hey There,

If you read my last post then you know that one of my New Year’s goals is to try new things when it comes to food. I’m a somewhat adventurous eater. I LOVE to try new restaurants and I try to read up on and watch a variety of food-related content, but when it comes to cooking, I tend to cook the same foods over and over again. I think most of us can relate to this. We know what we know and we like what we like. Most of us grew up eating one type of food and so those foods became engrained in us and they became our go-to meals. This year, I’m really trying to step out of my food comfort zone.

Just this past week, I had Indian food for the first time. (When you think about it, it’s pretty ridiculous that I made it 30 years without ever having Indian food). The food was just so good! The flavors were new and exciting and different from what I am used to. After that experience, I really realized how many great flavors and foods I am missing out on by eating the same things over and over again. I decided then and there to branch out.

When you think about it, it really doesn’t take much effort to eat new foods. You don’t have to necessarily seek out new restaurants, you can simply borrow a cookbook from the library or watch a YouTube chef and just make something yourself at home. Sometimes it’s really just as simple as reaching for different spices when you season your favorite foods.

One of my first steps in embracing new flavors was to make vegan ginger, jalapeno, cashew sauce. I’ve always shied away from vegan foods but I saw a similar recipe on a youtube channel and I decided to make my own version. I was surprised at how good it turned out. For some reason, I had this idea that vegan food would taste “off” but this didn’t taste off at all. It was flavorful. I really liked how easily customizable it was. With just a few changes, the recipe can really become whatever you want it to become. It can be a spread or a thinner more runny sauce. It’s all up to you.

I decided to make my sauce on the thicker side and as you can tell from the title, I threw in some ginger and jalapeno to make it spicy. In the end, I used it as a spread on my turmeric spiced shrimp tacos (recipe will be up on Monday) which was the perfect use for it.

I hope that you consider making this sauce but more, I hope you consider trying something new when it comes to food. I’m really excited to be on this food exploration journey and I can’t wait to share with you all what I am planning to make.

Until next time!

~Samantha

Ginger, Jalapeno Cashew Spread/Dressing

1/2-1 cup water 1/2 cup oil

3/4 to 1 cup of nuts (combination of cashew and pine) 2in piece of ginger

3 tablespoon of lemon juice 2 teaspoons of minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder salt, pepper to taste

  1. Soak cashews for 30 minutes or more
  2. In a blender, combine all ingredients and 1/4 cup of water.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Gradually add in water until you reach the desired consistency.

Recipe Notes

  • Make this recipe yours. Play around with the amount of seasonings and spices. If you like a spicier sauce add in more ginger and jalapeno. If you want a thinner sauce gradually add in more water and oil.