pistachio

Appetizer, Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free, Spring, Summer

BAKED HERB + PISTACHIO FALAFEL

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We ate our last lunch of a quick trip to NYC at Carnegie Deli. There was a line outside, which I'm guessing is due to an Anthony Bourdain or Seinfield episode because I know there is better food in New York. My dad, as you'll gather from a few headnotes in our cookbook and snippets here, likes his food straight forward (although, I did bring raw chia date brownies for plane snacks and he LIKED them! Heavens to Betsy). A few days in New York for this man necessitates pretzels, pizza and a hot pastrami sandwich.

My dad was my date to the James Beard dinner in town - an event I attended hesitantly seeing this month is more travel heavy than average. Thanks to a few friends coaxing me, I knew I would regret it if I didn't make it happen - something I may get to experience once in a lifetime. We shopped around to find me a new dress, he found a bagel, I found a salad bar (and a dress!), we communicated mostly in sarcasm and jest, as my family does, and the day was really nice. That evening, I sat around a table of collegues from my publishing house, amid a room full of cookbook and journalism professionals. I was taking it in, but mostly just nervous, my legs shaking in high shoes I couldn't walk far in. I knew my odds were quite slim, but when you are the small fish in a big pond, the magnitude of the pond itself is enough to make your legs wobbly. Regardless of what is even happening in said pond, but you just swim anyway. Winners gave a little speech, think of a food version of the Acadamy Awards. It crossed my mind for a split second, what would I say if I did win? Every underdog has their chance, right? The people who build me up: My husband who had slipped a homemade card in my purse reminding me, albeit humorously, how proud he was, my mom checking in all day wanting the details, my sister responding to my dozens of picture texts helping me choose a dress, my dad who had made the trip across the country to go with me, and a complimentary and supportive publisher. I had encouraging notes and emails from long time friends and blog friends alike. You know the phrase moms say about raising children, "it takes a village"? I felt like I had my village cheering me on. You must listen to the village. Your own voice will question and doubt and make your legs wobbly, but your village has pom poms and megaphones and big red finger sponges telling you you're great. I am so thankful for my village.

A friend and I were emailing about cookbook business and she mentioned "the ubiquity of blogger cookbooks." While there is certainly a trend to it, I find that I garner a ton of wisdom and inspiration, both personally and food wise, from blogs. It is such a pleasure to see personal work all bound up in a pretty package. I am excited to be cooking out of the new book from Green Kitchen Stories, Vegetarian Everyday. It is every bit as wonderful as their site. Filled with super gorgeous vegetarian recipes, many vegan and gluten free. I am going to try their cauliflower pizza crust and dark danish rye bread next, and the homemade vegetable chorizo sounds so unique. I really like how light these falafel taste and feel in your tum as opposed to a breadcrumb-heavy, deep fried alternative. So glad I have leftovers.

I know you worked your buns off for this, David and Luise, and the book is absolutely lovely. Many congratulations to you! 

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BAKED HERB + PISTACHIO FALAFEL // Makes about 20

Recipe barely adapted from Vegetarian Everyday by David Frenkiel & Luise Vindahl

David and Luise suggest a simple cashew nut dressing in their book which is a blend of soaked cashews, oil, lemon juice, and salt. I had some tahini sauce to use up, so I went that route instead. Just use half the amount of water called for. A fresh tzatziki would be refreshing here too. The original recipe uses 2 cups pistachios, I scaled it down a bit due to preference which is why mine yields a bit less than thiers. Your call. Don't be shy with the herbs, these falafels can take it. 

  • 12 sprigs of mint
  • 12 sprigs of parsley or cilantro
  • 1 cup shelled pistachio nuts
  • 2 cups chickpeas, cooked or canned
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 small yellow onion
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 T. buckwheat flour (or another flour of choice)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • hearty pinch of salt 
  • / tomato chili salsa /
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (I used baby tomatoes)
  • 1/2 a small red chile, seeded and finely chopped (one jalepeno works)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. fresh chopped oregano
  • pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • collard leaves, cabbage or pita bread for serving
  • fresh herbs for garnish
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Preheat the oven to 375'. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or oiled foil. 

Pulse the herbs in a food processor. Add the pistachio nuts and pulse again to chop. Add the chickpeas, garlic, onion, oil, cumin, flour and baking soda and blend for thirty seconds, scraping down sides when necessary. You want the mixture a bit rough. 

Using your hands, form 20 small round falafels. Place them on the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 15 minutes, flipping halfway through, until browned. 

Stir all tomato chili salsa ingredients together in another bowl. Allow ingredients to sit for flavors to blend. 

Make your wraps with the collard, cabbage or pita with a generous spread of the sauce and the tomato chili salsa. Falafels will keep for about a week covered in the fridge. 

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Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free, Winter

ROASTED BUTTERNUT PENNE WITH PISTACHIO PESTO

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Any other subject matter at this time, seems commonplace next to what is happening on the East Coast. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and business' who are hurting right now. I am inspired by the sense of community that comes from disasters like Hurricane Sandy and how we are capable of rallying around each other to make the best of things that are beyond our control. We need people.

-- 

Earlier this year, I contributed to six different publications about vegetarian Thanksgiving dishes. Six! That's a lot! I realize that turkey is a big deal, but is it often people's favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? Don't answer that. It's too late. My favorite part has always been the fresh vegetable side dishes, as they always seem the canvas for creative flavors and trying new things. I made this salad last year and my sister in law is bringing these green beans to the big dinner this year. Thanksgiving is typically a spread of heavy foods, lots of cream, gravy, butter and while I get that this is tradition, I self impose the responsibility to bring a contast to that. I'm testing out a few recipes in search of a new dish to bring to my family's table this year, and this one is certainly in the running. Maybe not the lightest of the options per se, but I try to contribute something that can act as a main dish for the vegetarians and a tasty side for everyone else. I wrote the vegetarian menu for a great spread in this months Everyday with Rachael Ray magazine, and while flipping through it to find my recipes, I earmarked this great looking pasta dish. I don't often make pasta, I can probably count the times on one hand, but this recipe had the potential to be more vegetable than starch focused. I like my pasta heavy on the vegetables, light on the pasta, so that is where you'd notice the biggest change in the original recipe. I added more squash, lots of greens and scaled back the amount of pasta. They also call for pepitas. I used toasted pistachios because I love them and already had some in my pantry. If you're bulking it up for an omnivorous family, some sausage could nudge itself in here, though I'd argue the dish lacks nothing on its own. 

This has been a pretty crazy season for us. Lots of travel, work, special occasions, book promoting and what not. All great things, but not exactly in moderation as of late. I'm really excited for life to slow up a bit in the next few months so I can process it all and soak this past year in. I need some stillness, quiet, time of staring into the vast ocean, long dinners with good friends, and an overall refresh. All of that is totally reasonable as we're heading into the holidays, right?! Until then, there will be some tasty squash penne.

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ROASTED BUTTERNUT PENNE WITH PISTACHIO PESTO // Serves 4

Adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, November 2010

I used a brown rice penne from Jovial pasta (a new favorite, the texture is wonderful for a GF pasta). I am not particularly fond of penne, for no good reason, and think small shells or some tagliatelle would work great too. The pesto can be made a few days in advance and kept in a covered container in the fridge. Any extra can be mixed with a splash of water and more lemon juice for a fabulous salad dressing. I would double it for that specific reason but I'll leave that up to you.

  • 2 lbs. (one large) butternut squash, peeled seeded and cut into 1'' pieces

  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or melted coconut oil

  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika

  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt

  • bit of fresh grated nutmeg

  • 10 oz. brown rice, quinoa or whole grain penne pasta, or any short noodle of choice

  • 2 huge handfuls (about 2 cups) baby spinach or well chopped swiss chard

  • // pistachio pesto //

  • 1 large/ 2 small cloves garlic

  • zest and juice of one small lemon or lime

  • 1/3 cup toasted, unsalted pistachio nuts

  • 1 jalepeno or serrano, seeded (I leave a few seeds for spice)

  • 1 cup packed herbs, a mix of any: cilantro, parsley, chives, basil

  • 1/4-1/3 cup grated parmesan or pecorino, plus more for garnish

  • 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • splash of water

  • sea salt and pepper

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Preheat the oven to 400' and set a large pot of salted water to boil. 

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the butternut cubes with the olive oil (enough to coat), smoked paprika, salt, a grate of nutmeg and toss to coat. Bake for about 30 minutes or until edges are charred. 

For the pesto, add the garlic, lemon zest and juice to the processor and pulse a few times to break down. Add the jalepeno, pistachios, herbs and run the processor to mix, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the olive oil and a few pinches of salt and pepper until combined. Blitz in the parm and a splash of water. Season to taste. 

Cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain and reserve a cup of the cooking water. 

Put the pasta back into the pot along with the greens and a generous splash of pasta water. The warm pasta and water will wilt the greens perfectly. Add more water if needed. Stir in the squash and pesto.

Garnish with a fresh sprinkle of cheese, pepper and any leftover herbs. 

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Entrée, Side, Salad, Fall

PISTACHIO CRUSTED TOFU SALAD

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I'm a bit under the weather. While most people usually lose their appetite when they're sick, I can always seem to find mine. I fought through the desire for cookies alone, and decided something with a more impressive nutritional profile would make a better lunch for my wellness. I am also impressed that Hugh will eat tofu without hesitation. You can't say that about too many 6'5 men. Reason #987,543,222 why I adore him.

Curdled beans. Coagulated soymilk. Tofu is not exactly the beauty queen of vegetarian protien sources, but her possibilities are endless. It's skin deep, my friends. I've eaten my fair share of tofu, but have never crusted it as follows, so this was a learning experience. If you cover a bland bean cake with all of these flavors and give it a crunchy crust, this fall-ish salad will suprise you. Farmers markets are brimming with greens, so shop well and even the lettuce will contribute to the flavor here.

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PISTACHIO CRUSTED TOFU SALAD // Serves 2 (with tofu leftovers)

If you don't use bread crumbs often, you can toss a piece of toast in a blender and wa-la. Single serving of bread crumbs.

4 Cups Baby Greens

1 Large Asian Pear

3/4 Cup Green Onions, sliced thin on a bias

1 14 oz. Package Organic Firm Tofu, drained and pressed*

1 Cup Toasted Pistachio Nuts

2 tbsp. Cornstarch

3 Egg Whites

1/2 Cup Whole Grain Bread Crumbs

2 Tsp. Cumin

1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

1 Tbsp. Oregano

1 Tsp. Mustard Powder

2 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Pepper

//DRESSING//

1/2 Cup Cilantro (big handful)

1/2 Cup Parsley (big handful)

2 tbsp. Capers

1 tbsp. Agave/Honey

1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar

1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or nut oil if you have some)

2 tbsp. Yogurt/Sour Cream

A pinch of Salt and Pepper

*Press out as much water possible. Set it on a plate with a paper towel and under something heavy to press out remaining moisture.

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1. For the dressing, add the first 5 ingredients in a blender and blend. Add the yogurt/sour cream and give it a pulse. While running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk up the egg whites until they are lightly frothy. Add the cornstarch and continue to whisk another minute to combine.

3. Grind the pistachios and bread crumbs and put that mixture in a medium bowl. Add the salt, cumin, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and mustard powder to the nut mixture.

4. Slice the tofu in half width wise, and then diagonally to form triangles. Working with one piece at a time: Pat the tofu dry, dip in the egg mixture, then the nut mixture, and place on a baking tray. Repeat with each slice of tofu. * At this point, if you prefer the tofu cold, you can chill them in the fridge. Or, continue with directions for warm tofu.

5. Set oven to 350’. Coat the bottom of a saucepan with oil and warm over medium heat. Fit in tofu pieces without touching, you will probably need to do two sets. Sear for about 2 minutes on each side until golden and crispy, return to baking tray. Repeat with all tofu chunks and pop the tray in the oven to warm through.

6. In the meantime, Slice the asian pear into matchsticks. Toss the greens, green onion with desired amount of dressing. Plate with asian pear slices and tofu chunk on top.

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