Appetizer, Entrée, Summer, Side, Salad, Gluten Free


arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen
arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen

"I had that feeing you get - there is no word for this feeling - when you are simultaneously happy and sad and angry and grateful and accepting and appaled and every other possible emotion, all smashed together and amplified. Why is there no word for this feeling?" -Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things

The ocean does this for me, I love it and hate it and need it; so I was happy to find myself there, feeling my proverbial currents, with the person who understands me best. We took this salad and a few other snacks to our favorite picnic spot. I've talked about it here, multiple times, but when I am feeling frazzeled and a bit out of control, I need to look out at the huge expanse of ocean and box up my worry in the face of perspective. The unrest is powerless against that dark blue horizon. Maybe more later. Maybe not. Had a few sharp comments around here lately which makes me want to write less. I keep thinking about Kelsey's post about how with blogs, you only get part of the story, not the full picture, but through inviting people into part of the picture, they take liberties to critque your "pride" or "perfect life." Let's just keep in mind that for anyone, blog author or not, you're only getting glimpses into the tangled and complicated workings of hearts. Practice grace.

I'm teaching a class this afternoon - talking about eating real food, my book, and serving a few appetizers. I prepped a few things yesterday and wanted to quickly share this salad with you. It's an adaptation of one of the recipes in our cookbook. I do love the printed photo with large, stacked beefsteak tomatoes. I typically don't love tomatoes, but I will eat a ripe summer tomato from our local farm when they're ready. Exceptions to every rule, even the self imposed ones. The presentation in the book makes a gorgeous starter for a dinner party, but I needed something I could plate easily for 20 people. This preparation makes the salad more portable, adds even more greens to the picture, and makes it perfect for family style summer meals. Hope you have fun plans for the weekend and some of it involves eating outside with good company. THE best.

arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen
arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen


Adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook

This will make more kale pesto than you'll need to dress this salad. It is excellent on eggs, as a sandwich spread, an alternative to pizza sauce, tossed in with some noodles or as a dip. Baby tomatoes are up at the farmers market, I love the sweet 100's, but any ripe baby tomato is just fine here.

  • 1 small bunch Tuscan/lacinato kale
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup lightly toasted walnuts
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • juice of one lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 lb. baby tomatoes
  • 8 oz. small mozzarella balls (bocconcini or pearline)
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • flaked sea salt, optional
arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen
arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen

For the kale pesto, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tough stems from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Blanch the kale leaves for about 30 seconds, transfer to a strainer and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Once the kale is cool, squeeze out the excess moisture. This should yield about 1 1/2 cups blanched kale.

In a food processor, combine the garlic, walnuts and pulse to chop. Add the kale, basil, parmesan, red pepper flakes, water, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Turn the processor on and drizzle in the olive oil until you get the consistency you like. Thin with a bit more lemon juice and a splash of water for a more dressing-like consistency. Taste and adjust as needed.

Slice the baby tomatoes and mozzarella balls in half and collect them in a large mixing bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of the kale pesto and toss gently to coat, adding desired amount of dressing. Toss in your arugula, add a pinch of flaky sea salt and serve.

Make ahead tip: The tomatoes and mozzarella can be dressed hours in advance and kept covered in the fridge, I actually recommend that they marinate in the pesto for better flavor. Just leave the mix at room temperature for awhile so the pesto dressing will distribute easily. Add arugula just before serving.

arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen
arugula caprese salad with kale pesto . sprouted kitchen
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Entrée, Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter


I cleaned up all the holiday remnants on Monday. I made piles of what needs to be returned, boxed up the decorations, and dumped our brittle wreath and miniature tree. No offense to you Christmas cheerleaders, but it all becomes a bit much for me - the lists, the toffee, the spending and the formalities. It honestly was a wonderful day, but I think this year, more than ever, we saw most clearly what we wanted from the celebration, or rather what we wanted to contribute to it, and I think next year will look different.

My haste to clean up is a personality trait (a vice sometimes). I like things to be moving forward, to be improving and growing, and the New Year's holiday commemorates that. I made a date with Hugh last year to discuss our resolutions for the sake of accountability and it may be one of the highlights of my marriage to date. You can have a list of three or thirty things that you'd like to take note of as we dance right into 2012, but having some accountability - a person who loves you to listen - makes the list worth making. Last year I scribbled down intentions to master roasting a whole chicken, get certified to teach pilates, save a bit of money for a down payment and have chisled arm muscles. The answers are yes, not yet, yes and errr, working on it? But the point is that I wrote them down, shared and revisited the list and I think it's an exercise worth doing (It may not give you chisled arm muscles but it's good for the spirit).

I really love writing letters. I couldn't write a scholarly essay in college worth reading but I LOVE personal letters. An item on my list this year is to communicate compliments or positive thoughts to people as they cross my mind. I want to send letters of affirmation to friends, or post cards to acquaintences just to say, "I really enjoy your blog" or, "You are super easy to talk to and I like it." Same goes for my husband, to remind him how I appreciate how he always make me laugh, or a note to my family. We'll call them love letters, and I plan on roping Hugh into this because I think men are even more hesitant to compliment each other. I started by writing a letter to Jennie, a woman in the food blogging world who lost her husband suddenly earlier this year (you may remember or participated in "A Pie for Mikey"). I thought of her recently and wanted to write her a letter. Maybe it's weird, because we don't know each other, but I am another woman who can't imagine coping with that kind of loss, so I figured I'd say hi.

The recipe below is one from her site that I've tweaked around a bit for my taste. It's nice to have the little nuggets in the fridge to dip in the pesto sauce for an afternoon snack. I haven't had them with marinara yet, but I imagine that'd be nice as well.

There will be celebrating with close friends this weekend and hopefully another date to discuss resolutions with my beloved.

May the new year exceed your expectations and challenge you.

LENTIL "MEATBALLS" // Serves 4, Makes 18 small balls

Meatball recipe adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen

The sauce I made is less a pesto and more a dressing, as the lemon juice adds quite a bit of acid to it. I thin mine with a bit of water, but if you like it thicker, simply don't add it. Adjust to your personal taste.

In honor of lightening up post-holiday, I like them as is, maybe on some sauteed greens. I don't feel that their "meatball" title necessitates noodles. Anyway, those are decisions I'll leave up to you.

2 cups cooked lentils

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3/4 cup ricotta

1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. fennel seed, crushed

2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley

Hefty Pinch of Dried or Fresh Thyme

1 tsp. each sea salt and pepper

2/3 cup breadcrumbs (fresh or panko, preferably)

Lemon Pesto Sauce

2 cloves garlic

1/4 Cup Pinenuts

Zest and juice of one lemon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

2 cups basil leaves

1/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. grated parmesan

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. water to thin

In a food processor, pulse the lentils into rice like pieces.

Into a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, fennel seed, parlsey, thyme, salt and pepper and stir to mix well. Stir in the breadcrumbs and lentils and let the mix sit in the fridge while you make the pesto.

For the pesto sauce, put the garlic, nuts, lemon zest and juice and salt in a food processor or blender and run until finely chopped. Add in the basil leaves and olive oil until you get a smooth, sauce-like consistency. Add water, oil or lemon juice to thin as desired. Stir in the parmesan and pepper flakes set aside. The sauce will keep covered in the fridge for about a week.

Preheat the oven to 400'. Check the lentil mix by rolling a 1'' round ball between your palms, it should hold together fairly well. If it seems pretty wet and it falling apart, stir in another Tbsp. or two of breadcrumbs until the ball with stay together.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll the mix into balls and line them up on a baking sheet (they don't need lots of space between, they won't spread). If you like a bit more of a crust, brush them with olive oil.

Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes until the tops are golden brown, gently turning the balls over halfway through baking. Remove to cool slightly.

Serve with your favorite noodles, on a bed of sauteed greens, or simply on their own with a nice drizzle of the pesto sauce.

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Entrée, Summer



I’ve come a long way from the days when Ma would make us tuna melts. You know, the Costco croissants with canned tuna and melted cheddar? Anyone? We led a strict, low cholesterol diet at our house.

Anyone can make a good ol’ brown bag sandwich, but when a sandwich is warm, and with homemade pesto, it makes me want to snuggle up and have another. I think that's one of my favorite things about days off... I get to spend time cooking food that is warm and tastes yummy. The beauty of the open face sandwich is that you get to enjoy the goodies, as opposed to just tasting bread. It seemed the perfect day to blend up a pesto with all of my basil, and was just the flavor punch these veggie melts needed. If you use store bought pesto, you don’t get the kick back that the fresh stuff gives you. It is worth the time, as you can double the recipe and use it in eggs, as a dip, dressing etc.

I layered the lemony pesto with fresh greens, then another flavor punch (caramelized onions), then a thick layer of fresh (heirloom tomatoes) and topped it off with just a bit of crispy mozzarella. Post picture indulgence, Hugh and I wished there were more. It was like having a healthier version of pizza… you don’t need mounds of cheese when you have a great pesto and tasty onions.



1 tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Yellow Onion, chopped

2 Slices Ezekial Bread (or whole grain of choice)

1 Big Heirloom Tomato, cut into 4 thick slices

1 Cup Arugula

4 Thin Slices Fresh Mozarella Cheese

Black Pepper

The Pesto

4 Cups Basil Leaves

1/3 Cup Olive Oil

½ Cup Lemon Juice

1/3 Cup Toasted Pine nuts

1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Large Cloves Garlic

1 tbsp. Black Pepper


In a blender or food processor, add the pine nuts, garlic and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Add in half of the basil leaves and pulse to combine, add the rest of the basil leaves and pepper and with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Stir in parmesan cheese. Leave the pesto a bit chunky, does not need to be totally smooth.

1. In a sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the chopped yellow onion and sauté on medium until caramelized, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare above pesto.

2. Oven to broil. Toast the bread for one minute. Assemble on each: toast, generous spread of pesto, arugula, caramelized onions, two heirloom tomatoes, sprinkle of black pepper and fresh mozzarella cheese in the center (it will melt down).

3. Broil on top rack for about 8 minutes until the cheese is melted and a bit crispy on top. Then make another one if you have leftover ingredients because you will want it.

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