Fresh cilantro pesto brightens up this easy pasta salad. Vary the vegetables as you like or substitute toasted walnuts for the pepitas. Spring asparagus or pea shoots would be a nice addition. Look for Israeli couscous at high-end and specialty markets such as Whole Foods or Gene’s in Saratoga. In a pinch substitute jarred pesto for the fresh. You may not find ready-made cilantro pesto, and if not, basil pesto will do. Add as much as you need to moisten the salad and give it plenty of flavor.
This dish was inspired by my friend, Jane’s trick of puréeing sun-dried tomatoes with oil and vinegar for a bold, flavor-packed dressing that livens up simple lentils. Even those who dislike the chewy texture of the dried fruit will love this zippy salad. Vary the vegetables as you like. Add chopped celery, fennel or radishes, or a handful of fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or dill. Omit the feta for a vegan option. Use brown or green lentils that remain whole with cooking, such as Spanish Pardina lentils or French lentilles Du Puy.
This classic Italian vegetable stew is hearty and heathy—loaded with beans, leafy greens and a comforting layer of artisan bread at the bottom of the bowl. You can vary the ingredients depending on what you find in the market, or tucked into the crisper drawer at home. Try a bit of zucchini or cauliflower. Turnips or parsnips would be perfect, too. A Parmesan cheese rind (an inch or two) tossed into the broth, as the soup simmers, is an old Italian trick that adds wonderful flavor. But no worries if you don’t have one, just add a bit more salt and a healthy sprinkling of Parmesan on each serving.
Ribollita is more of a stew than a soup, if you prefer something more brothy, simply add a bit more stock (or water combined with a tablespoon or two of tomato paste) to the mix—up to two cups.
This time of year makes me smile. And while we may not relish the early nightfall that squashes those favorite after-dinner strolls, who can resist the falling leaves, saturated in fiery color, or the gaggle of holidays from Halloween to Diwali, Thanksgiving and beyond? Call me odd, but I crave weather that pleads its case for a cozy jacket on foggy mornings. The drizzly weekends that prompt card games and family hang out time.
And the soup. This is its season. Steamy broth laced with vegetable chunks, lentils or healthy greens. Add a few noodles and fresh herbs. Spice it up if you like. Or purée the lot to a satiny consistency that swaddles the spoon like a blanket. There’s any number of possibilities. All warm. All delicious.
This week we welcome guest writer, Christine de la Cruz, a Freshness Farms’ participant and health coach. Christine shares her simple tips for navigating the holiday season with our health in mind—plus a refreshing (and nutritious) fresh beet juice recipe. Thanks Christine, for your delicious wisdom!