Roasted kale leaves are a fast, appealing way to serve kale; these have a cheese-like coating that adds protein and healthy fats. These use curly kale, but Tuscan kale is also nice, since the leaves are flat and cook more evenly; serve them upright in a squat, […]
Rich, creamy and dairy-free: this bright, vegan-friendly soup is the perfect fall dinner. To make your own pumpkin puree, cut a 3-pound pie pumpkin (not carving pumpkin) into eighths, scoop out seeds, and steam pumpkin pieces for 20 minutes, or until soft. Let cool, peel […]
I left the skins on, since they add nutrients and a beautiful color—and I’m lazy like that. But peel yours if you’d like. Dunk whole peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drop them in a bowl of ice water. The skins will slip right off. Habanero peppers are the spiciest of the lot; if you want a milder, kid-friendly version, swap them out for minced jalapeños.
Makes 2 cups
1 pound peaches, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 small habanero pepper, seeded and finely minced
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir to mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours to let flavors blend.
2. Remove from refrigerator, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve chilled.
The iconic Vietnamese sandwich is an easy vegan swap—just lose the pork, swap fried or baked tofu, and double up on the fresh stuff. Really, it’s all about the pickled vegetables and the bread—the term “banh mi” refers to the loaf, traditionally a light, thin […]
Two years ago, our plum trees produced so many fruits we were reaching up into the branches and pulling them down by the handful. Plump, juicy, as purple-black as a midnight sky, they were heavenly. I made tarts, pies, jam, butter; I grilled them and ate them […]
Last week, after many weekends of travel and play, I (finally) started hacking at some of the weeds in my unruly and frequently neglected herb garden. Along the side of the house, where echinacea and lemon balm and comfrey flourish in a civilized and graceful manner, there grew a wild and extravagantly disruptive plant. It was prickly, pokey and significantly taller than me. Was that really my tiny little nettles plant, scarcely larger than a loaf of bread when I planted it last summer?
Indeed it was, in all its stinging glory. After foolishly trying to rip some up with my bare hands (hashtag owwwwwww), I fetched my gloves, consulted my herbal almanac, and got the lowdown on gathering and using nettles.
In spite of the prickly, painful-with-naked-hands harvesting, nettles are entirely edible, though they do require some taming. The sting comes from tiny hairs on the plant that contain formic acid and histamine, which have significant health benefits like easing arthritis pain and calming allergies. To harvest, cut them near the bottom of the stem with scissors, and use gloves—trust me on this one.
The tiny, painful hairs on the leaves are broken down when juiced or pureed, so you can drop a few leaves into smoothies or add to greens when juicing. Or hold them by the stems and dip them into boiling water for 30 seconds, to remove the sting and make them easier to handle in recipes. Once dipped and tamed, the leaves can be easily stripped from the stems.
I decided to try them in pesto, since my basil was in danger of becoming similarly unruly. I also added a handful of purslane—another weed that probably grows in your garden—for omega-3 fats and minerals, and to add a citrusy brightness. (You can just as easily leave it out, with the same delicious results.)
Nettles and purslane grow wild in Colorado; if you have neither in your backyard, be sure to gather them from areas that you know have not been sprayed. You can also find both nettles and purslane at many farmer’s markets. This savory, bright pesto freezes well, so you can enjoy it in the darkest depths of winter.
Garlicky Nettles Pesto
Makes about 1 pint
1 large bunch nettles, yielding 1 cup leaves
1/2 cup purslane (optional)
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup raw pine nuts, cashews or macadamia nuts
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup grated Asiago cheese, or 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1. Remove roots from bottom of nettles and discard. If using purslane, discard any root ends, wash thoroughly and set aside.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat; with gloved hands, hold nettles by stems and dip into hot water for 30 seconds. Remove from water, let cool for a minute, then squeeze out as much water as possible. Strip off 1 cup of leaves.
3. Combine nettles, purslane, basil, nuts and garlic in a food processor or Vitamix. Puree until well combined. With the food processor or Vitamix running, add olive oil, continuing to process until smooth. Add cheese or nutritional yeast, and pulse just to combine.
4. Taste pesto and add lemon juice as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.
This light, creamy soup makes a simple, elegant lunch or first course for dinner; it”s topped with bright green pistou (like pesto, but without the pine nuts). Some pistou versions add finely grated mimolette, gruyere, or other hard cheese—I’m keeping this one vegan. I also […]
Grilled Vegetable Wrap with Spicy Avocado Spread Makes 2 wraps 2 8-inch low-carb, gluten-free or whole-grain tortillas 1 small zucchini (1/2 pound) 1 small yellow summer squash (1/2 pound) 10 to 14 thin asparagus spears, tough bottoms removed 2 small red peppers, cored and cut […]
Last winter, rushing to beat a mighty snowstorm that laid waste to most of my yard, I fashioned a makeshift cover for my still-thriving greens garden. I drove old tent stakes into the ground, connected those with PVC pipe, then draped sheets of thick plastic and layers of moving blankets on top of the whole thing. You get the picture: pretty, it was not.
But after enduring the sight of the clumsy thing for four long months, I pulled the top off. Underneath was a small sea of emerald green, like gemstones scattered across the dirt. My tiny farm of arugula had endured the winter, in spite of months of freezing temperatures and heavy snows.
I later learned that in most parts of the country, arugula will survive the winter, so long as it’s protected from extended periods of below-freezing temperatures and the weight of heavy snows that will break its tender stems. And it’s a fine choice of greens to grow in abundance: like broccoli and cauliflower, it’s a cruciferous vegetable, but easier to grow and more versatile than others. And like all crucifers, it contains healing compounds that protect against cancer and have anti-inflammatory properties in the body.
This fall, if you’re growing greens, cover them to weather the winter. You’ll feel pretty smug about having a full crop of greens come March. Here’s what you can do with them:
Peas and mint are the stars in this recipe, and their sweet and aromatic flavors complement the arugula’s spicy tang. Swap baby spinach leaves for half of the arugula for a milder backdrop to the other ingredients, or toss in chopped leaf lettuce.
6 cups baby arugula leaves
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced shallot
2 tablespoons minced basil leaves
1 tablespoon minced mint leaves
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed to room temperature
3 cups baby arugula leaves or baby spinach leaves
1. Boil one inch of water in a medium pot with a steamer basket. Steam sugar snaps for 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat and spread on a plate to cool.
2. While peas are steaming, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, shallot, basil and mint together in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Combine cooled sugar snaps with arugula and green peas in a large bowl. Add dressing, and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, divide salad between individual plates, and serve immediately.
The perfect grain-free chip: these baked-not-fried chips are sturdy enough to serve as crackers or dippers, or munch on them instead of chips. We used red beets, but golden or chioggia beets are a gorgeous addition. Either way, use large beets, since they’ll shrink during cooking. Play with the […]