Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen

I am finding that the romance of cookbooks isn't really in flipping through for inspiration, but when I surrender to a recipe's every word. The page is marked with a little post it and I keep referencing back to it's open pages to make sure I'm doing just what it directs. Hopeful it comes out as delicious as the photo leads me to believe and refreshed to have a dish so different than my everyday normals. I am in this strange but wonderful phase where I am not feeling particularly creative in the kitchen, so I am either cooking from cookbooks or resorting to my staples (scrambled eggs, bean and cheese tacos, roasted vegetables, ice cream and an occasional kale salad once I feel guilty enough about too many bean and cheese tacos and an unnecessary ice cream routine). I'm not calling it a rut, it is just a different season and I actually think it's healthy if the work you do is creative. I just want someone else to tell me what to do. I have freelance jobs where I need to pull myself together, but for the most part, I'm just trying new things... except when I'm eating the same thing for the millionth time. 

The Food52 Genius Recipes book came out a couple months back and it is precisely the book you need if you want someone to tell you what to do. The recipes highlight a technique so there are little secrets and tricks that not only help you with the shared recipe, but make you a better cook in general. I am not a detailed or perfect cook myself, so when I find a book that is dedicated to finding the best - the genius recipes - I am all ears. It is everything I am not and I am loving it. In an effort to try to feed all three of us the same thing, I started with my bookmark on Julia Childs' Gratin of Zucchini, Rice and Onions with Cheese. It sort of reminds me of a risotto without the stirring. The only swap I made was brown rice for the white and I don't think it made any compromise of the dish, just needed a smidge more cooking time which is reflected in the recipe below. I know I've been talking a lot of books around here lately, but this would make for an excellent gift for you or the other cooks in your life.

Wishing you a warm weekend!

* House Business. I will be up at The Madewell store at The Grove in Los Angeles next Thursday 6/18 from 6-8pm for a denim happy hour with cookbooks. There is a 20% discount on any purchase over $125 and snacks and drinks so I would love to see you there. Please come be my friend!

Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen

Gratin of Zucchini, Rice and Onions with Cheese // Serves 6 as a side

Recipe barely changed from Food 52's Genius Recipes

When the recipe says "zucchini juices and milk" it isn't an exact amount of either. I just squeezed the zucchinis of their liquid into a measuring cup after they sat in the salt and then made up the difference in milk to get to the called for 2 cups which was about another cup. Mine took longer in the oven than the recipe led me to believe but that may have been because of the brown rice. The recipe suggests the oven at 425' but I went with 400' since it needed to be in there a good 35 minutes and I didn't want it to burn. The extra moisture in my finished shot is because my zucchini yield was short, yours should look drier. 

  • 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. zucchini or other summer squash
  • 1/2 cup short grain brown rice (or white rice, as published, if you prefer)
  • 1 cup minced onion
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
  • about 2 1/2 cups warm zucchini juices and milk
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (save a few Tbsp. for the top)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen

Shred the zucchini, toss them with a heaping teaspoon of salt and drain in a colander. Reserving the juices. Meanwhile drop the rice into boiling salted water, bring rapidly back to a boil for 8 minutes; drain and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400'.

In a large frying pan, cook the onions slowly in 3 to 4 Tbsp. olive oil for 8 to 10 minutes, until tender and translucent. Raise the heat slightly and stir for several minutes until just browned. Stir in the grated and dried zucchini and garlic. Toss for 5 minutes until the zucchini is almost tender. Sprinkle in the flour, stir over moderate heat for a minute and remove from the heat. 

Gradually stir in the 2 1/2 cups warm liquid (zucchini juices plus milk heated gently in a pan). Make sure the flour is well blended and smooth. Put the pan over moderately high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring. Remove from the heat again, stir in the blanched rice and 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan. Taste carefully for seasoning and add your salt and pepper. 

Butter a 6-8 cup baking and serving dish that is about 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Turn the warm zucchini mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle the remaining parmesan cheese on top. Dribble the remaining olive oil over the cheese. 

Bring the gratin to a simmer on stove top as long as your dish is flame proof. Bake in the upper third of the oven until the gratin is bubbling, top is browned and appears most of the liquid has absorbed. Mine took about 30-35 minutes. Serve warm. 

Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
Brown Rice & Zucchini Gratin . Sprouted Kitchen
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Entrée, Gluten Free, Summer


Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen
Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen

I remember exchanging emails with Kimberly a ways back about the book writing process. I was humbled she asked me, as I've known that Kimberly would create a beautiful and inspired book by echoing the same style she shares on her blog. There seems to be a common thread between those who set out to create and photograph their own cookbooks - an equal measure of uncertainty, fear, excitement and determination. Truth is, I am not exactly sure what I am doing either and I stumble over how to guide someone else. We sing a "learn by doing" tune over here. How I respond to those emails asking advice for books or starting a blog, friend or stranger alike, is less with direction and more with encouragement to be more deliberate in doing what you already know. Authenticity is of greater value than you expect. Thankfully... or at least I like to think. I don't believe there is a formula for success with creative work. There are people who have done extremely well, make a nice living off blogs and books, but they cannot tell you how to do the same. The theme I see throughout the books and blogs I am attracted to is they are real people simply sharing an extension of something they are passionate about. Start a blog because you have something to share or make a book because there is a story you need to tell about food. Clearly it's not the end goal, but you should want to create despite how many people read your blog or book. It should begin because YOU need it to. When you hit a wall or get negative reviews, that's what you'll have, a project that nourished you first, and it makes you want to keep going. Sure it takes time and intention to design a beautiful space or a compilation of recipes but I think a desire and hope to create said things is a majority of the key to success. And ok, reading this over I may sound a little hippy dippy but my kumbaya message can apply to a lot of things - just find something that fills you up. 

That said, Kimberly's book is a job well done - a real treat for anyone who cooks with a lot of produce. It's colorful and seasonal and delicately assertive if I may use such a juxtaposition. Hats off to you, my friend. These summer squash noodles are simple, quick and super light for how warm it's been. I'm going to grill a big filet of wild salmon this weekend and this will make a perfect side to fish. Happy 4th weekend to you all!

Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen
Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen


Recipe barely adapted from Vibrant Food by Kimberly Hasselbrink

This makes for a cold zucchini salad and the drained shreds have just the right amount of crunch. If you prefer it as a warm side, give the zucchini a quick saute in a slick of olive oil after you press out the excess water to warm through.

I upped the goddess dressing amounts so I'd have enough for leftovers. Extra dressing never goes to waste around here. This is the peeler I consistently recommend, it's great. 

  • 2 lbs. mixed summer squash
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 cup plain whole milk greek yogurt
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup fresh chopped basil, plus more for garnish
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped chives
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh chopped tarragon
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 anchovy (minced) OR 1 Tbsp. drained capers
  • 1/4 shaved parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
  • fresh ground pepper
Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen
Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen

Cut the squash into thin strips using a julienne peeler or spiralizer. Sprinkle the squash with salt, toss gently, and place in a colander to drain for 20 minutes. Carefully squeeze the squash over the colander to release excess liquid and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. 

In a food processor or blender, combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, basil, parsley, chives, tarragon, garlic and anchovy or capers and blend until smooth.

Toss the drained squash with the parmesan, pinenuts and desired amount of dressing. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with more parmesan, pinenuts and basil and serve immediately.

Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen
Summer Squash Pasta with Green Goddess Dressing x Vibrant Food . Sprouted Kitchen
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Entrée, Gluten Free, Fall, Summer


Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen
Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen

I don't typically click over to articles that people post on Facebook, Twitter etc. but every now and then a title catches my eye. It was a piece in New York Magazine recently called The Day I Started Lying to Ruth - written by a cancer doctor husband who lost his wife to cancer. We know a few close people struggling with the disease themselves and when I read things like this, I'm both sad and shocked that there are countless people fighting this fight. It may not be mine personally, but it is always someone's mother or child or parent and it's gut wrenching. The article was thoughtfully written, he draws you into his story. There is a line in the beginning that made me think, and not even about cancer or illness like the article leads. "It was a warm night for early June, the beginning of the winter in Argentina. People crowded the sidewalks, returning from work, stopping for dinner. All the everyday stuff that fills our lives, neither adding particular meaning or taking it away." And I thought about what most of my days are composed of - it isn't really a routine, but something similar to one. Not everyday can be filled with moments like dream travel, getting married, job promotions, the birth of a child, or achieving some huge goal and the like... but is everything between not adding or taking away meaning? I know he was speaking in general terms, but it just made me think of the in-between and how I actually truly value that time when I give it due credit. Hugh and I stayed up late hanging some things in the baby room last night  (I am a recent fan of these wall appliques, I'll post a picture on IG when the room is slightly more finished). I'd consider it an "in-between" evening, nothing particularly special happening, but I will remember us trying so hard to make a special room for the wee ones arrival. Hugh was using a level to place the stickers and my non-crafty self was making a mobile out of a lucky dream catcher I was gifted. The in-between of the big stuff is still good stuff, you just have to pay closer attention, make note of it. In reading the article, his story was marked by all sorts of "normal" moments, the details that make the whole piece interesting really. I don't want to forget that next time I feel in a rut. The in-between has it's own subtle remark.

I have a little extra time this week and wanted to put together some freezer meals for when the babe is here and I don't have time nor want to cook. I ripped out this recipe for a quinoa burger out of the local paper and figured it'd be worth a shot. I'm aware veggie burger recipes are not hard to come by, which is why I think they interest me, like a chocolate chip cookie, always being changed just a little bit to be different or better. I threw this one on a bun with avocado and cheese and a generous slather of mustard. Ask me in a few weeks and it will likely be back on a big mound of salad with an egg on top while I am trying to get back into my pre-baby clothes. Either way, a general veggie burger recipe is always nice to have on hand.

Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen
Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen


Adapted from The Los Angeles Times from Cafe Pasqual, New Mexico

These are not veggie burgers to be grilled - they are delicate and moist and could not handle a flip on grates. I make a note at the end of the recipe, but they are best pan seared or baked. They would be adorable small and on mini sliders. 

Nutritional yeast can be found at health food stores or online. It is a vegan alternative to a somewhat cheesy flavor. It offers depth of flavor here, but you could certainly make these without it. These are a very basically seasoned burger which I like - add flavor in sauces, spread, slaw, cheese etc. as you wish. 

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/3 cups broth or water
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large shallot or 1/2 a yellow onion, minced
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce, tamari or Braggs aminos
  • 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup coarse ground oats or breadcrumbs
  • 3 Tbsp. flaxmeal
  • 2/3 cup mashed cooked sweet potato
  • sea salt and pepper

avocado, cheese, mustard, greens and buns of choice for serving

Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen
Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen

Rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer. Bring the quinoa and broth or water to a boil in a pot. Turn it to a gentle simmer and cover and cook until liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked, about 13 minutes. Stir, leave the lid ajar and set aside to cool. 

While the quinoa cooks, grate the zucchini. Spread it on a kitchen towel and ring out the extra moisture. 

In a large sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot or onion and sauté for 3 minutes until softened. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, generous pinches of salt and pepper and sauté another 5 minutes until cooked down and much of the liquid has been cooked out. Stir in the oregano, cayenne and soy sauce and turn the heat off to cool. 

Transfer the quinoa to a bowl, add the nutritional yeast, oats or breadcrumbs and flaxmeal. Once the vegetables are cool, add them to the bowl as well and stir everything to mix. Mash in the cooked sweet potato and another pinch of salt and pepper and stir everything to mix. If it looks super dry, add another drizzle of oil or more mashed yam, but if it is *too* wet, they won't stay together. I know we are making veggie burgers, but you want it to be the same sort of thickness or texture or ground beef or turkey, not wet. 

Heat a layer of oil in a large skillet (I find non-stick works best for delicate things like this). Make patties about 1 1/2'' thick, and cook until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Alternatively, you may form your patties, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, drizzle a little oil on top and bake them at 375' for 20 minutes. Put your cheese on one side after you flip the patty. Prepare your buns with mashed avocado, spread, greens or whatever you wish and serve warm. 

* I overdid it on the yam and mine were very soft throughout. I find that when I do this with veggie burgers, baking helps dry them out better so they stay together better between a bun. If you're eating it plain and you want a crispy crust, pan works great, for something in a sandwich, I prefer to bake them for a sturdier result. You're preference on texture. 

Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen
Veggie Quinoa Burger . Sprouted Kitchen
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