Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad

Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad

Hey guys! I’ve been so busy working on client projects I haven’t had the time to post many new recipes lately so I wanted to share a super delicious one I created for a client that I know you’re gonna love!

Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad


This recipe for Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad is absolutely delicious! I made a dressing with Seven Barrels Maple Balsamic vinegar and olive oil and tossed it with quinoa, chickpeas, dried tart cherries, arugula, celery, green onions and crunchy pecans.

Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad

Not only is this super healthy and light but absolutely delicious! It has the perfect balance of tangy vinegar with a slight sweetness from the maple balsamic, agave and tart cherries, and a delightful crunch from the celery, chickpeas and green onions.

Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad

This is a perfect side dish to make ahead for a Summer picnic and it’s full of protein and veggies and fiber making it the perfect meal on it’s own.

You can also substitute dried cranberries for the tart cherries if you can’t find them, and use a variety of nuts like cashews, almonds, or walnuts instead of pecans. Throw in some edamame or black beans too if you want more protein. Or how about a little crispy bacon???? YUM.

Hope you’re enjoying your Summer – enjoy!

Maple Balsamic Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Seven Barrels Maple balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup or honey
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup celery, sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Handful of baby arugula
  • 1 tsp sea salt, plus additional to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Let cool completely.
  2. Toast the pecans for about 5 to 7 minutes over medium-low heat in a saute pan, let cool and chop coarsely.
  3. Make the dressing: Whisk together the olive oil, Maple Balsamic vinegar and agave syrup (or honey) in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Add 3/4 cup dressing to the cooked quinoa. Mix in the chopped toasted pecans, tart cherries, celery, scallions, and sea salt. Serve refrigerated or at room temperature; just before serving, stir in remaining 1/4 cup dressing, arugula and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Notes

You can also substitute dried cranberries for the tart cherries and use any type of nuts (cashews, walnuts, almonds).

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2017/08/02/maple-balsamic-quinoa-salad/

Homemade Fruit Leather with KitchenAid

image

I love Spring because it’s the perfect excuse to eat more fresh fruits and veggies and eat lighter now that the sun is out and all the gorgeous fresh produce is beaming at the farmers markets.

KitchenAid Torrent Blender


I recently was challenged to make some Homemade Fruit Leather with KitchenAid’s new Torrent Blender and quickly accepted the task at hand!

Melissa's Produce

Melissa’s Produce sent me some gorgeous fruits and veggies and herbs, and I decided to make some fun twists and flavor combinations with them.

Homemade Fruit Leather

I made two flavors of the Fruit Leather: Strawberry-Jalapeño Lime, and Blackberry Vanilla Thyme. So easy, so healthy and totally delicious!

Check out how I made it and get my recipe on the KitchenAid blog here!!

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pizza with Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Cauliflower-SpinachArtichoke-Pizza-hero

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pizza with Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Summer has quickly arrived and it’s that time of year again to shed a few pounds and hit the beach. I’ve decided to muster up some will power and started experimenting with a low carb diet with grand visions of lazy days on the beach in that bikini I need to fit back into. The bad news is whenever I decide to go on a diet, my brain automatically starts thinking about all the evil foods I CAN’T eat – pizza being one of the first things I start craving.

I decided to make a low-carb pizza using a parmesan garlic cauliflower crust. It sounds weird, but it’s absolutely delicious and healthy and a great substitute for traditional pizza dough when you want a healthier option to cut some carbs out of your diet (while satisfying your cravings for pizza which are absolutely NOT allowed when you’re doing low carb!) I’m absolutely in LOVE with spinach artichoke dip and thought I would make a lighter version mixed with some fresh ricotta, garlic, onion and parmesan cheese to top the pizza.


I found a gorgeous head of bright yellow Carnival cauliflower and simply shredded and chopped it into a fine crumble (you can also do this in a food processor or blender). Then I chopped up some garlic and threw them both in the microwave for about 8 minutes, then drained and let cool.

You simply need to mix in some grated parmesan cheese (or any other shredded cheese you like), an egg, garlic, dried minced onion, herbs de Provence (or dried oregano or basil), a few sesame or chia seeds (optional), some yeast, almond flour and sea salt and black pepper. Then pat the mixture on to a greased pizza sheet or Silpat mat, then bake for about 10-15 minutes until the crust is lightly golden brown.

In the meantime, to make the luscious (and healthy) spinach, artichoke and ricotta topping – simply sauté the spinach with some garlic and olive oil, mix in some chopped up artichoke hearts (precooked), fresh minced garlic, ricotta cheese and shredded parmesan cheese, then top the pizza crust spreading the mixture in an even layer. Top with some additional shredded cheese (I used sharp white cheddar but you can use mozzarella or Monterey jack or any other cheese you like that melts well), and then scoop some light and fluffy ricotta cheese on top of the mixture and bake for another 7-10 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly.

In my experiment I found that you shouldn’t spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.

Also, let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes or so before slicing it. Top with additional salt and pepper, red pepper flakes if desired, and grated parmesan cheese.

Devour. Repeat.

Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Preheat the oven to 425. Prepare the cauliflower crust ingredients and pat down on a greased pizza pan.

Baked Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Bake at 425 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to get golden brown around the edges.

Pizza Ready For Oven

Top pizza crust with spinach artichoke mixture, shredded cheese and ricotta. Bake for another 10 minutes.

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pizza with Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Let pizza cool down for 5-10 minutes and cut into slices.

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pizza with Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Garnish with additional salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pizza with Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Devour.

Spinach Artichoke Ricotta Pizza with Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Repeat.

Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 6 (or 1 large 9-10\" pie)

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower (about 2 ½ cups shredded)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon sesame or chia seeds
  • ½ teaspoon herbs de provence (or dried basil or oregano)
  • ½ teaspoon dried minced onion
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Grease a 9-10” round pizza pan or place Silpat mat on a rectangular baking sheet.
  3. Shred and chop cauliflower into fine crumbles (either by hand with a large Chef’s knife or with a food processor).
  4. Mince the garlic and add to the cauliflower in a microwave-safe large bowl.
  5. Microwave covered with plastic wrap for about 7-8 minutes.
  6. Uncover, drain and let cool for about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the next nine ingredients and mix together well.
  8. Bake the crust for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the crust from oven and set aside.

Notes

In my experiment I found that you shouldn't spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/06/03/spinach-artichoke-ricotta-pizza-with-parmesan-garlic-cauliflower-crust/

Spinach & Artichoke Ricotta Pizza

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 6 (or 1 large 9-10\\\" pie)

Ingredients

  • 1 parbaked cauliflower crust (see attached recipe above)
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted (or 1 bag fresh baby spinach)
  • 1 package frozen artichokes, defrosted (or 1-14 oz can, drained)
  • 1-15 oz container ricotta cheese, divided in half
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup white cheddar cheese (can sub Monterey jack or mozzarella), shredded
  • dash of red pepper flakes (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Place the spinach in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 8 minutes on HIGH.
  3. Mince the shallots and garlic cloves and drain the spinach (pressing out extra liquids).
  4. Add one tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the shallots for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
  5. Add the additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the spinach for another few minutes, mixing all ingredients together. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  6. Microwave the artichokes in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on HIGH and drain. (if using canned artichokes, simply drain).
  7. Chop the artichokes up into small pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
  8. Add half of the container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.
  9. Stir in the spinach, shallots and garlic mixture.
  10. Drizzle or spray some olive oil lightly on to the parbaked cauliflower pizza crust.
  11. Spread the spinach, artichoke and ricotta mixture evenly over the crust.
  12. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and scoop out a few large tablespoons of ricotta cheese and place on top of the pizza.
  13. Bake at 425 degrees for another 7-10 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly and the crust edges are light golden brown. (Watch crust edges to make sure they don't burn).
  14. Remove pizza from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
  15. Slice into wedges (or squares if making rectangular pizza) and top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.

Notes

In my experiment I found that you shouldn't spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.

http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2013/06/03/spinach-artichoke-ricotta-pizza-with-parmesan-garlic-cauliflower-crust/

More pizza recipes you might enjoy:

Two Peas and Their Pod Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pizza

Real Simple Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

Gluten Free Spinach and Artichoke Pizza Better Batter

Recipe Girl’s Hawaiian Cauliflower Pizza

Closet Cooking’s BBQ Chicken Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup
Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

Last year in January, it was cold, dark, rainy, and downright miserable and depressing. Not to sound negative, but we all know that’s what winter in NYC can feel like at times. ENDLESS. I pretty much hibernated away in my apartment, and decided I needed to entertain myself somehow – what better way than to cheer myself up with some homemade creamy tomato soup?

When I was a kid, I used to love staying home sick from school – why? My Mom would wrap me up under blankets on the couch and make me a grilled cheese sandwich smothered in Campbell’s tomato soup in front of the tube, which made the misery of being sick almost OK (and kinda fun!) – and to this day, I still crave this combo for a cozy day on the couch at home.

This recipe is sure to warm you up with its creamy roasted tomato flavor. Serve it with some grilled or toasted bread with olive oil and herbs or mini grilled cheese bites for dipping in the soup (or smothering!) and maybe even a glass of red wine to warm you up even more.


Maybe Spring can wait a few more months after all.

Roasted Cream of Tomato Soup

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs fresh heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1-2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 medium shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fines herbes (parsley, chervil, tarragon, chives)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable, if you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 c heavy cream or half and half

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the tomatoes and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzling with olive oil and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until tomatoes are soft and skins are dark brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Once cooled, remove skins from tomatoes and garlic and discard.
  3. Heat a large saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat. Add butter, shallots, fines herbes and salt and pepper, saute until the onions are soft. Add the roasted tomatoes and garlic, chicken or vegetable broth and tomato paste and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and cover, simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  4. After 20-30 minutes, puree the soup with an immersion blender in the pan, or remove from pan and puree in a blender and pour back into the pan.
  5. Stir in heavy cream or half and half, blending thoroughly. Add additional salt and pepper to taste and garnish with a sprinkle of fines herbs (or julienned basil leaves).
  6. Serve in soup bowls with crusty garlic herb bread (or over a grilled cheese sandwich on a plate!) and a glass of red wine.
http://www.theartfulgourmet.com/2012/10/06/roasted-cream-of-tomato-soup/

Tomato-Soup-1

Other Tomato Soup recipes you may enjoy:

Kalyn’s Kitchen Tomato and Cilantro Soup

Michael Chiarello’s Homemade Tomato Soup 

Pioneer Woman’s Sherried Tomato Soup

Michael Symon’s Blue Cheese and Tomato Soup via The Amateur Gourmet

Average Betty’s Creamy Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Fresh, Local Greenmarket Menu at Gotham Bar & Grill NYC

Gotham Bar and Grill, NYC
Gotham Bar and Grill, NYC

I had the opportunity to attend a fantastic event for a menu tasting at Gotham Bar and Grill in NYC with several other influential food bloggers this week. The special lunch event was in celebration of the launch of Greenmarket to Gotham 2012 highlighting the farms they love best and in support of GrowNYC.

For 12 weeks, Gotham will be featuring their “Greenmarket to Gotham” Menu – a Vegetarian, $25 Prix Fixe two-­course Lunch menu crafted by Chefs Alfred Portale and Livio Velardo. The dishes will change weekly, featuring one of Gotham’s favorite regional farms from Union Square Greenmarket. In their commitment to supporting NY farmers and purveyors and the city of New York, $1 of each menu will go to GrowNYC’s program Grow to Learn: The Citywide School Gardens Initiative.

Vino
Vino

Our all-vegetarian lunch featured fresh ingredients from the Union Square Greenmarket purveyor Cherry Lane Farms, and we sampled some great wines from French and NY State wineries to accompany the meal.

Green Garlic Soup
Green Garlic Soup

Green Garlic Soup made with sunchokes, leeks, spring onion and new potato parmesan emulsion

Cherry Lane Farm's Summer Squash
Cherry Lane Farm's Summer Squash

Cherry Lane Farm’s Summer Squash made with goat cheese stuffed zucchini blossom and smoked eggplant panisse and sauce vert

Strawberry Shortcake
Strawberry Shortcake

and a lovely Strawberry Shortcake for dessert made with fresh market strawberries, white chocolate ganache and Thai basil ice cream

Desserts
Desserts

Visit Gotham’s Facebook Page to see the weekly Farmer’s Markets and Menus.

Check out Cherry Lane Farms seasonal products online.

—–

Gotham Bar and Grill
12 E. 12th St (btw University Plc & 5th Ave)
New York, NY 10003
212.620.4020
http://www.gothambarandgrill.com/ 

Herbivoracious: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes & A Cookbook Giveaway!

Herbivoracious-Michael Natkin
Herbivoracious-Michael Natkin

I recently had an opportunity to meet an amazing author/chef/blogger/photographer at a recent book launch party at Candle 79, Michael Natkin. If you haven’t checked out Michael’s award-winning vegetarian blog, Herbivoracious, then you absolutely must. His creative vegetarian dishes are colorful, fresh and vibrant, and he recently published his first cookbook named after his blog. I had the opportunity to meet Michael at the party and get a signed copy of his cookbook which I absolutely adore (even though I am not a vegetarian) and loved the recipes so much that I wanted to share a few with you and offer a chance for you to enter to win a copy of the amazing cookbook yourself, giveaway courtesy of Harvard Common Press.

The cookbook is full of 150 recipes and global dishes that he has created based on inspiration from his travels around the world: Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia are some of the main areas of influence on his cooking, which has led to his unique dishes full of taste, texture, aroma and gorgeous presentation. Appetizers and Small Plates, Soups and Salads, Sandwiches and Tacos, Pasta and Noodle DIshes, Side Veggie Dishes and Desserts are all colorfully presented in this beautiful cookbook.

Whether you are an omnivore, herbivore, vegan, vegetarian or pescatarian (or just love fresh veggies, salads and healthy recipes) – I know you’ll love this cookbook as much as I do! Michael has also graciously given me two recipes from his cookbook to share with you: Over The Top Eggplant Parmesan and a cool and refreshing Watermelon, Radish and Watercress Salad (see recipes following). Enjoy!


***THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR WINNER, SHEA ROSS OF ATLANTA GA! STAY TUNED FOR FUTURE COOKBOOK GIVEAWAYS 🙂 

Here’s how to enter to win a copy of the cookbook (open to US/Canadian residents only):

*** VERY IMPORTANT! *** Leave a separate comment for EACH of your entries or only one entry will be counted. For example, leave your first comment about your favorite vegetable or vegetarian dish and why you want to win the cookbook, then add another comment to say “I follow you on Twitter”, another to say “I follow you on Pinterest”, etc. If you already follow me on Twitter, Pinterest and/or Facebook let me know as well, since this counts as an entry.

*NOTE: Please make sure to provide your current email address (which won’t be visible) so I can reach you if you win.

I will randomly draw one lucky winner on Sunday, June 10 at 11 pm EST. Good Luck and enjoy the recipes from Michael’s book below!

—–

Over-the-Top Eggplant Parmigiana

Eggplant Parmigiana
Eggplant Parmigiana

SERVES 6
1 HOUR (40 MINUTES ACTIVE)

For this no-holds-barred eggplant parmigiana, the eggplant is breaded with panko and pan-fried, layered with fresh mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce, finished in the oven, and then topped with a dice of fresh heirloom tomatoes. It makes a satisfying entrée, and you need only add a green salad to make a celebratory dinner.

I don’t salt and drain eggplant for most uses, but it is worthwhile in this recipe. Extracting some of the liquid makes the eggplant fry up firm yet fork-tender. You don’t want any mush factor in your parmigiana.

Here’s a great tip for breading. Use one hand to put the eggplant in the flour, egg, and bread crumbs. Use the other hand to toss the eggplant in the bread crumbs and into the skillet. By keeping one hand for the wet stuff and the other for the dry, you avoid getting your hands breaded along with the eggplant!

The finest canned tomatoes for Italian dishes come from the area of San Marzano; look for that name on the can.

Ingredients

  • 3 large or 5 smaller globe eggplants (about 4 pounds total)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups canned crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • Vegetable oil, for pan-frying
  • 12 ounces mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

To Serve

  • 1 1⁄2 cups diced vine-ripened tomatoes (only truly good, ripe tomatoes will do here; don’t use those supermarket ones ripened with ethylene gas)
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Peel the eggplants and slice lengthwise into planks a scant 1⁄2 inch thick. Layer in a colander with a heavy sprinkling of kosher salt between each layer, top with a plate, and weight with some cans. Set aside on a plate to drain for at least 30 minutes. Wipe off excess salt with a paper towel.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, while you make the rest of the recipe. Don’t add salt, because the eggplant will still have residual salt from the draining process.
  3. Set up a rack or baking sheet covered with paper towels for draining the fried eggplant. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and preheat the oven to 400°F.
  4. Set up for dredging, with plates for the flour and bread crumbs and a shallow bowl for the eggs. Heat a good 1⁄4 inch of vegetable oil in your biggest skillet over high heat. Working with two slices of eggplant at a time, pat them in the flour until they have a dry coating, then drag through the egg, and finally press both sides in the bread crumbs, covering thoroughly. Place them in the skillet, where they should start sizzling immediately. Don’t pack them in too tightly in the skillet; leave yourself some room to work. Flip when brown, about 2 minutes, then brown on the other side. They should be fork-tender at this point (the oven time is just to melt the cheese, not cook the eggplant). Transfer the eggplant to the rack to drain. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, adding more vegetable oil as necessary.
  5. To assemble, set down your first layer of eggplant in the prepared baking dish, and top each slice with a couple tablespoons of tomato sauce, a piece of mozzarella, a bit of Parmigiano, and a bit of basil. Build up three layers, finishing with cheese.
  6. Bake until the cheese is thoroughly melted, about 20 minutes.
  7. To serve: Toss the diced tomatoes with the basil and a pinch of salt. Put an eggplant stack on each plate, and top with 1⁄4 cup of the tomato salad and a grind of fresh black pepper.

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Watermelon Radish and Watercress Salad

Watermelon, Radish and Watercress Salad
Watermelon, Radish and Watercress Salad

GLUTEN-FREE
SERVES 4
10 MINUTES

This delicious salad is driven purely by its beautiful ingredients; all you have to do is take a little care to arrange them nicely.

Watermelon radishes are green on the outside, but when sliced you see that they are intensely red in the middle, looking much like tiny watermelons. If you have a mandoline, use it here: It is excellent for slicing them thinly and evenly.

If you have difficulty finding watercress, check the refrigerated produce section of upscale markets. They often carry hydroponic watercress, making this peppery green, once strictly seasonal, available year-round. Look for bright, fresh leaves with no signs of wilting. The tart cress makes a great foil for the sweet figs and pomegranate seeds (or more technically, arils).

Ingredients

  • 1 large watermelon radish, very thinly sliced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 handfuls watercress, rinsed and dried
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 ripe fresh figs, halved
  • 1⁄4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 16 shavings Parmigiano-Reggiano or other hard aged cheese
  • 12 toasted walnut halves
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Directions

  1. Arrange a circle of watermelon radish slices on each of four chilled plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
  2. Toss the watercress with a bit of the olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Place a fluffy handful on each plate. This is the critical step to making the salad look nice—aim to make a tall, high mound in the center, and don’t let it spread out.
  3. Add 2 fig halves, 1 tablespoon pomegranate seeds, 4 cheese shavings, and 3 toasted walnut halves to each plate. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and serve immediately.

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Get more great recipes from Herbivoracious

Herbivoracious is also available in an enhanced e-book edition, with 25 videos featuring Natkin touring ethnic markets, introducing ingredients and showing how to choose them, and preparing recipes from the book. The e-book will also offer social media functionality for sharing recipes, photos, and video on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.

Click here to download a press release.

 

An Interview w/ Italian Chef Pia Vallone :: Spring Vegetable Soup Recipe

Pia Vallone / Mascarpone Mousse
Chef Pia Vallone / Mascarpone Mousse with Almond & Cookie Crumb

I love Italian food. I mean really loooove Italian food.. And who doesn’t? But especially authentic, homemade Italian – cooked with fresh ingredients and simple, healthy recipes that are downright divine. I recently took a cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City with Chef and Culinary Instructor Pia Vallone, who teaches the Techniques of Italian Cooking course. It was a 5-week intensive class 6 hours long. Lots to learn in a short amount of time. Chef Pia, a native of Italy and graduate of ICE, taught us a a variety of recipes from different regions of Italy spanning the basic recipes and techniques.

Wild Boar Ragu w/ Matriaciani
Wild Boar Ragu w/ Matriciani

We made fresh pasta and risottos, hearty ragus and fresh and creamy sauces, roasted and braised meats, seafood dishes, soups and stews,

Baked Tomatoes with Oregano / Baked Shrimp with Garlic, Parsley & Crumbs
Baked Tomatoes with Oregano / Baked Shrimp with Garlic, Parsley & Crumbs

roasted and braised vegetables (my favorites were the Roasted Tomatoes and Stuffed Wine-braised Artichokes), desserts such as Classic Tiramisu, Mascarpone Mousse and Rustic Italian Apple Crostata,

Radish, Spinach, Romaine and String Bean Salad
Radish, Spinach, Romaine and String Bean Salad

and healthy, fresh Italian salads and small plates.

Making Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
Making Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi

We always had red and white Italian wine and fresh Italian bread to accompany, and learned the customs of eating the way the Italians do – start with an “antipasti” (appetizer), next order a “primo” (first course usually consisting of pasta, risotto, minestrone or other soups), then pick your main “secondi” (second course usually a meat or fish dish), have a small bit of “formaggi” (cheese) after your main, then on to “dolci” (sweets/desserts such as cheese, fruit, sweet wine, and coffee/cappucino).

Sage Brown Butter
Sage Brown Butter

We made some of the most amazing Italian food during this class and learned classic authentic cooking techniques that I was able to bring home with me to prepare my own delicious Italian food. In fact, I was so impressed with Pia’s class that I had to interview her to share her culinary background and story along with a recipe with all of you! Enjoy.

  1. Can you tell me a little bit about your culinary training and professional background? What was your first job as a Chef and what was that like?

My first and only hands-on restaurant experience was in an Italian restaurant in London (cannot remember the name of the restaurant), near Victoria Station, in the summer of 1978. A friend of mine who worked as an executive chef there, offered me a job as a sous chef. After a month of hard work, I had to leave the restaurant, because my visa was about to expire and soon after, I returned to Italy. The second experience related to food, was working for several years as a bookkeeper for a restaurant and corporate catering. There I learned so much about food and was exposed to new ingredients and flavor profiles, although I worked in the establishment’s office. As for training, I graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education in NYC and hold a Culinary Arts diploma and a Pastry and Baking Arts diploma. I currently work at ICE as a Manager of Kitchen Assistants and as a Recreational Chef Instructor, though I have worked in different areas in the company, within the past 10 years.

  1. When did you realize you wanted to be a Chef? Who inspired you most as a young cook and what did you learn from them?

I always loved cooking and eating, but I began to spend time experimenting with recipes from various kinds of cuisines in my home kitchen, cooking for friends when I arrived to New York in 1980. Wanting to get involved with food and becoming a chef was a second career change for me, which began in 2001.

 My greatest inspiration was my father, who was a gourmand and a terrific cook. I spent many hours in the kitchen with him during my childhood, helping out, observing him and absorbing all the knowledge I could. From my father, I learned passion, love and appreciation of good food and the importance of using fresh ingredients.

  1. Can you tell us a little bit about your culinary style and what makes your menus and recipes unique?

My style is mainly rustic. I like rustic food for its simplicity and because it is nourishes the body and soul. My menus and recipes are unique, because the ingredients I use are accessible and inexpensive.

  1. Is there a difference in the recipes you create/the food you eat in Italy versus the Italian food here in the United States and what are the main differences?

The difference between food in Italy and food here…? Food in Italy is extremely fresh, mostly organic and seasonal. Its flavor(s) cannot be replicated in dishes cooked outside of the Country. Food in Italy is also quite simple. In fact, most of the best food I have ever eaten there was prepared with just a few ingredients. On the contrary, Italian American food is the result of ‘imported’ traditions and transformations, mostly due the immigrant’s longing for the ‘Old Country’. Immigrants, who arrived here tried to capture flavors and freeze memories, by utilizing similar ingredients grown in a different terroir. Nowadays though, great Italian chefs live here in the States, so the differences between Italian food in Italy and the US is narrowing down.

  1. In your opinion, what are the most important elements when creating a recipe from scratch?

The most important elements are: fresh ingredients, simplicity and focus, Make sure to tastes the food while cooking it.

  1. What is your signature dish or your favorite recipe?

My favorite dish is ‘Roman Style Tripe’, a dish that brings back childhood memories.

  1. What is your favorite spice or ingredient to cook with and why?

I love black pepper, which I use in all savory recipes. Besides liking its pungent flavor, I add it to dishes because it helps improve digestion.

  1. What is your favorite cooking gadget or kitchen item you can’t live without and why?

I own many gadgets and often buy the new ones that are the latest invention in the market, but always tend to use the familiar ones over and over. A gadget I cannot live without is a hand held grater, because it is efficient and does not use too much space in the kitchen.

  1. Do you have any advice for aspiring chefs and home cooks?

Start by cooking a simple recipe, one with 4 or 5 ingredients. Learn basic skills and techniques at first and then move on to a larger repertoire. Patience, practice and repetition are important to achieve success with cooking, as with other things in life.

  1. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?

Yes. I am always looking to inspire others to cook. It is a pleasure to see that people are interested in cooking and familiarizing themselves with ingredients. Sharing passion for food and cooking with people is an all-around relaxing experience for me.

Spring Vegetable Soup
Spring Vegetable Soup

Spring Vegetable Soup

Yield: serves 6

2 small carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, diced
1 small butternut squash, diced
1 bunch escarole, chopped
½ cup peas, frozen
1 tablespoon basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for bread and for drizzling on soup
4 quarts chicken stock
1 small ciabatta bread
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste

  1. Sauté carrots, celery and onions in a large stock pot over medium heat, for approximately 5 minutes, making sure that you stir the vegetables while they cook.
  2. Add chicken stock to the pan. Increase the heat to high, cover the pan, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Slice bread into 1” thick slices. Brush slices with the additional olive oil on both sides and place in a sauté pan over low heat. Turn bread slices once and cook until they are golden brown. Place bread in a tray and lightly sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside.
  4. Add butternut squash to the stockpot and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add zucchini and peas to the stockpot and cook for 3 more minutes.
  6. Add escarole, basil, parsley, salt and pepper and cook for 4 additional minutes.
  7. Remove two ladles of soup from the stockpot and puree in a blender, then return the pureed soup to the pot (the puree will thicken the soup). Stir and cook for 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
  8. Add some grated cheese into the soup and stir. Ladle soup in individual bowls, drizzle oil and sprinkle additional cheese.

Recipe Copyright © Pia Vallone 2010.

Photo credits: Kristen Hess and Pia Vallone. 

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