Cooking Club: Week 30

Hey! I love this pasta dish. I also love this lemon loaf. It turns out a little different for me every time because I am not great at measuring but it’s the perfect coffee treat.

We’re in Australia another few days and the time away from the kitchen has felt refreshing, but I also miss it. Traveling with kids is… different, so we haven’t been eating out as much as I’d hoped. Planning to get a few more good meals in! Anyway. Hip hip, enjoy your week!


House Keeping:

- Comments, questions or suggestions? Submit your feedback here.


I am assuming you have sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a higher heat oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil. Check your stock on these before you head to the market, and check off any other items you may already have. As you continue to use these recipes, you will see repetition of my favorite ingredients. For example, while real maple and pine nuts are pricey pantry staples, they won’t sit in the pantry, you’ll use them in upcoming weeks. Use bulk bins at your local health food store to buy in smaller quantities if you prefer.

Your List i

spring spaghetti with asparagus & peas leek & pea soup with rye croutons mexican stuffed peppers lemon loaf



Meat & Dairy


recipe 01: spring spaghetti with asparagus & peas

serves 4

I like noodles as a vehicle for sauce or vegetables, so excuse me while I muck up a good thing. I do the same sort of thing with roasted cauliflower and a couple anchovies in place of the capers, or a few summer tomatoes chopped up and just broken down in the hot oil before adding the noodles.

Much like cacio e pepe, the goal here is to make a sauce from the pasta water and the cheese. You’ll want to keep tossing, and add in more water until it becomes silky. It may glob up a bit, but once the cheese relaxes into the warm liquid, you’ll get a sauce. And hey, even cheese globs are still delicious. If your asparagus is on the thicker side, slice them in half lengthwise.

I typically serve small portions of this with a big green salad or even a whole roasted chicken (see week 13) if I’m filling out a meal for company.


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: Eh, not here.

Kid Friendly: Cut the asparagus into small pieces.

Dairy Free: You can use a vegan butter, or use all olive oil. Skip the cheese. I would add a bit of extra nuts, or maybe even some green olives for richness.

Gluten Free: Use a gluten-free noodle.

Carnivore Addition: Add browned Italian sausage or this would also be good with seared scallops or shrimp.

Lower Carb: You can use shirataki noodles (tofu based) or zucchini noodles, but the whole cheese/sauce situation won’t be necessary as there is not starch to work with. Just give it all a quick sauté and top with a little oil/butter, cheese and herbs.


3/4 lb. spaghetti
1 lb. thin asparagus, trimmed
1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-2 Tbsp. capers, drained and roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, grated
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
Sea salt, as needed
2 oz. pecorino cheese (1 cup finely grated)
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/2 cup toasted pistachios, chopped
Fresh chopped parsley and mint, for garnish


Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al dente, typically one minute less than the package suggests. In the last minute of pasta cooking, toss the asparagus and peas into the water. Drain, reserving one cup of the pasta water. Set pasta aside. 

Put the pot back over medium heat, warm the olive oil and butter. Add the capers and grate in the garlic, warm until just fragrant, about 1 minute.

Transfer the noodles and vegetables to the pan. Add the fresh ground pepper, 1/2 cup of the pasta water, a few generous pinches of salt, and half of the cheese to the noodles and toss everything to combine until the cheese melts and creates a sauce. This takes a while, about 3 solid minutes, just keep tossing gently and it will get there. Add more pasta water, a few tablespoons at a time, another sprinkle of cheese, until you reach your desired consistency, there should be a bit of puddling in the bottom, and that is fine. Add the lemon zest and juice and toss again. Taste for salt and pepper. 

Serve immediately. Garnish with another sprinkle of cheese, pistachios and fresh chopped parsley and mint.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    25 g
  • carbs i
    78 g
  • protein
    23 g

recipe 02: leek & pea soup with rye croutons

serves 4

I am pushing spring dinners as the weather is teetering towards warm with a bit of chill in the air. As it begins to stay light longer, and you have the excuse to sit at a table outside, albeit with your warmest jacket on, and phase out of the comfort foods that sounded so delicious in the colder months.

This soup sings of spring with its bright color, the nuanced onion flavor of leeks, and hint of creaminess. The crispy croutons offer just enough to keep things interesting but a simple grilled cheese of rye and white cheddar makes for a nice accompaniment as well.


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The soup can be made 1-2 days in advance, are reheated on low.

Kid Friendly: I make a grilled cheese (with a layer of baby spinach) and serve the soup as more of a “dip” than the soup as their main course.

Gluten Free: Use a gluten-free bread.

Dairy Free: The crème fraiche does round out the soup. Alternatively can use cashew milk, homemade or store-bought, for creaminess. This option is thinner than crème fraiche, so scale back on the broth.

Carnivore Addition: I don’t see adding a meat product to a pureed vegetable soup, but you could either serve something on the side, or make a grilled cheese with a layer of good-quality deli meat inside.


3 large leeks, cleaned, dark green parts removed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups shelled peas, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons each chopped tarragon, oregano and parsley, plus extra for garnish
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup crème fraiche
juice of half a lemon

1/2 loaf day-old of rye or grainy bread
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper
fresh grated parmesan cheese, optional


Slice the leeks into thin, half-moons.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks, a few pinches of salt, and sauté until softened and cooked down to half their volume, about 6-8 minutes. Add the broth, bring it to a simmer, and cook another 10 minutes. Add the peas, herbs, and fresh ground pepper, and cook two more minutes. With an immersion blender, blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. This will take slightly longer with an immersion blender.

Stir in the crème fraiche and lemon juice to taste. Taste for salt and pepper, turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.  

Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 400’. Rip the bread into 1’’ pieces, crust and center is all great. About 3 cups. Spread the bread in an even layer on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with a few pinches of salt and pepper. Bake the croutons for 10-12 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the edges are just browned. Remove to cool.

Serve each bowl of soup with a handful of the croutons, a generous sprinkle of parmesan and fresh herbs.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    17 g
  • carbs i
    34 g
  • protein
    9 g

recipe 03: mexican stuffed peppers

serves 4

This is really straight forward and simple, just give the recipe a read through, and prep the filling or peppers in advance, to make quick work of the recipe. I am assuming for one bell pepper (two halves) per person. If you are using this as a side, or feeding kids, depending on appetites, you could go a half per person. I will say that the leftovers are perfect warmed up with scrambled eggs. The filling is pretty lean, if you like something heartier, add a dollop of sour cream to the filling. 

You need these garnishes. Think of a vegetarian taco - it is all about the extra bits!

Tips of The Week

make ahead: Both the filling and pepper vessels can be prepared in advance. Stuff them and bake when ready to serve. I know it sounds like a hassle, but the pickled onions make this special!

use it twice: This same filling and all the garnishes would be great inside a burrito.

kid friendly: I go the burrito route over stuffed pepper, but I think if you chopped it all up and just made it a bowl of taco-styled goodies, it’d work that way too.

carnivore addition: Do you have any more of that roasted chicken? Mix it in with the stuffing mixture before warming through. It may need another splash of enchilada sauce to stay moist.

low carb: Use cauliflower rice in place of the grain. Simply sauté it for a few minutes to cook off some of its water content, before mixing it with the greens and beans.


Recipe Ingredients

for the peppers

4 bell peppers
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil for roasting

for the filling

2 cups cooked rice or quinoa
1 1/2 cups black beans
1 cup chopped greens (kale or baby spinach)
1 cup enchilada sauce
4-5 oz. goat cheese (or your preferred shredded cheese)

for garnish

fresh cilantro
2 avocados
pickled onions*
toasted pepitas

*Quick Pickled Onions:

1 peeled red onion, sliced thin
Warm 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. each sugar
sea salt and pepper
1 bay leaf

Put the onion slices in a container that has a lid. Pour the warm liquid over the onions, and let the mixture come to room temperature. Cover and store them in the fridge until ready to use. They will last a month.


Preheat the oven to 400’. Slice the bell peppers in half lengthwise, and remove the core, veins and seeds. Rub a little bit of oil all around and put them on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes until just softened, but not loosing shape. 

While they roast (if you have not done this in advance) stir together the rice or quinoa, black beans, chopped greens and the enchilada sauce. Stuff the mixture inside of the peppers, and pop them back in the oven for about 10 minutes until warmed through. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake them for another 5 minutes just for the cheese to warm. 

To serve the peppers, garnish them with fresh cilantro, diced avocado and pickled onions. Add some toasted pepitas for more crunch.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    11 g
  • carbs i
    78 g
  • protein
    28 g

recipe 04: lemon loaf

makes about 8 slices

This recipe started as an Ina Garten recipe, and I have since lighted it up so work better as a breakfast option and less of a cake option.

The recipe is written with gluten free flours, but an equal yield of all-purpose flour works great too. I write in lemon extract to make it even more lemony, but don’t bust your buns to find it. It is totally fine without. 


Tips of The Week

Dairy Free: Use coconut or almond based yogurt.


2 large eggs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup whole milk yogurt or buttermilk (see dairy free note)
2 heaping Tbsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon extract
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1/2 cup natural cane sugar
1 cup almond flour
2/3 cup superfine rice flour
1/3 cup oat flour
1 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder

for the glaze

1/3 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp. natural cane sugar


Preheat the oven to 350'. Grease a 9'' loaf pan and make a parchment sling.

Whisk the eggs, olive oil, yogurt (or alternative), zest and juice of the lemon, and lemon extract together well.

In another mixing bowl, combine both sugars, almond flour, rice flour, oat flour, flaxmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and mix together. Add half of the dry mix to the wet, stir to combine, add the rest or the dry and stir everything together. Pour the mixture into a prepared 9'' loaf pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the cake bakes, make the glaze. 

Combine the lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat and cook until the sugar dissolves. When the cake is finished, let it cool for 10 minutes before inverting (if you choose). Prick holes in the top and pour the glaze over the warm cake. Let the cake cool completely while it absorbs the syrup.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    23 g
  • carbs i
    40 g
  • protein
    7 g