Thursday, September 25, 2014

Vegetable Stuffed Baked Potato

You can barely see the potato under all of my goodies.

I often eat a baked potato for breakfast.  I love to combine different vegetables that I have sauteed up and top the potato with them.  This is a simple recipe, and you can add whatever fresh vegetables you have available to the recipe.  This is what I had ready today.  The eggplant is from my garden, I had one lone San Marzano tomato that I picked this morning, and added a few of the bell peppers that I picked a week or so ago.

Vegetable Stuffed Baked Potato

Get the potato in the oven about 30 minutes before you begin to saute your vegetables, or you can microwave it for about 5 minutes, but you will not have the nice crunchy crust on the skin if you use a microwave.  I often bake up several and keep them in the refrigerator if I think I want more during the week ahead.

1 small baked potato

1 small eggplant, diced (about 3/4 cup)
1 San Marzano plum tomato, diced
1/4 cup brown onion, diced
1/2 cup diced bell peppers in assorted colors
2 big handfuls of arugula, (about 2 cups)
Assorted fresh herbs from the garden (today I used sweet marjoram, Kaliteri oregano, and French thyme)
Olive Oil
1/3 of an avocado, diced

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a small skillet.  Saute the vegetables until just tender, but still firm.  This will take about 10 minutes if you are using eggplant.  Now all you do is slice open your potato, mush it up a bit by pushing together at either end to get the potato puffed up a bit in the center.  Add your sauteed vegetables to the top, sprinkle with some fresh herbs, a pinch of salt and pepper and top off the plate with some diced avocado.  That's it folks!

I used small  5 ounce potato

Eggplant, Onion, Tomato, Arugula, and Bell Peppers in 3 colors
Top left: Sweet Marjoram.  Top right: Kaliteri Oregano.  Bottom left: French Thyme
Kaliteri means "The Best" in Greek.  This oregano has a very high oil content and is grown commercially in Greece for the high quality.  It has become my favorite oregano to use in my cooking.  I often use it in place of my Mexican oregano in my southwest recipes.  It has such a wonderful flavor and the plant grows more upright than most oregano's that tend to hug the ground.  It makes itself known when you brush your leg up against it, releasing its fragrance into the air as you pass by.

I just used the small one on the left in my recipe today, it was only about 3 inches 

Be sure to stop by THYME in a BOTTLE to see my breakfast in the garden with Tasha Tudor!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pesto Risotto

Pesto Risotto

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  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Shallots, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 2/3 cup (5 oz.) Risotto Arborio Rice
  •  4 cups clear vegetable or chicken stock, heated  to simmer
  • 3 Tbsp Basil Pesto (see recipe below)
  • ¼ cup toasted Pine Nuts
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until hot, add the rice and toast, stirring constantly for about 1 minute. Add the shallots and cook until translucent and softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering, vegetable or chicken broth, and stir until almost completely absorbed. Continue cooking the rice, adding the broth one ladle at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next.  Continue this process until the rice is tender and creamy yet still firm to the bite, or al dente, about 25-30  minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the Pesto, butter, salt and pepper.  When ready to serve at the toasted pine nuts to the top and if you would like, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to the top of each serving.
Serves 4-6

Just about there, add the pesto and continue cooking until most of the broth is absorbed and risotto is creamy.
When you toast the pine nuts, do not take your eyes off of them or you will burn them!  This is a heavy, enamel pan and it stays very hot so when they are toasted, I remove them to a plate to cool.  You won't need any oil, there is enough natural oils in the nuts to toast them to a nice golden brown.

Here is the pesto recipe I have used for many years.  Not sure where I found it, but it is perfect every time.  I added the addition of lemon zest because I like the flavor and it will help to keep your basil green.  It freezes well, too.  Add a drizzle of olive oil on the top of each jar before you put the lid on when freezing.

Basil Pesto Sauce

4 cups tightly packed fresh Basil leaves (all stems removed)
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh Lemon Zest
6 sprigs fresh Parsley, (leaves only stems removed)
Sea Salt and ground Pepper to taste
1/4 cup Pine Nuts, Walnuts, or Almonds
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese

Wash the Parsley and Basil leaves in cool water, spin until very dry in a salad spinner or use paper towels.  Place leaves in a food processor.  Add Oil, Garlic, Lemon Zest, Sea Salt, Pepper, and Nuts.  Pulse blend until all is chopped, stopping to scrape down sides.  Add the grated Parmesan and give a few quick pulses to blend.  Refrigerate in airtight container.  Makes about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of pesto.

This is a what a double batch of the recipe will make.

This risotto is excellent with grilled or baked salmon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fusilli with Lemony Kale, Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Feta

I am able to grow kale year-round here in Southern CA. This dish came about after I picked a huge amount and made a double batch of kale salad.  I decided I wanted something a bit more substantial for dinner and having twice as much kale salad as I normally make, this pasta was what came to mind. It's very good!  The salty feta with lemon and basil, the crunch from the toasted sunflower seeds makes a refreshing pasta dish.

Fusilli with Lemony Kale, Toasted Sunflower Seeds and Feta

Serves 6-8 


1 pound kale (1 large bunch, I use Lacinato Kale)
Juice from 2 lemons
4 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup toasted sunflower seeds
4 TB extra-virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)
Fresh Italian basil leaves, torn
1 pound dry fusilli or penne pasta (I used a bit of both)

Cook pasta according to package directions. While your pasta is cooking, strip the kale from the stalks, rinse well in cool water, and dry well.

Slice kale into small pieces and place in large, shallow serving bowl. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil over the kale.  Massage this into the kale by rubbing between your fingers; I use food grade, gloved hands for this so the lemon won’t hurt my hands! It will take about 5 minutes to get the kale soft; it will look much darker and very shiny in color when you are finished.

Add the minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, and feta cheese to the kale, toss lightly and season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked, drained pasta to the kale mixture. The pasta should still be hot when you add it to the kale mixture.

Sprinkle with the toasted sunflower seeds, some fresh torn basil leaves, and check for the need of additional lemon juice, feta or seasoning.   Now you're ready to serve.

Lemony Kale with Feta and Toasted Sunflower Seeds

Friday, August 22, 2014

Red Cabbage Slaw with Edamame, Sunflower Seeds and Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette

This Asian flavor influenced slaw is crisp and refreshing, which I prefer over the traditional heavy mayo laced dressings you typically find in coleslaw recipes.  Added bonus:  you get that CRUNCH that so many of us love, not to mention the healthy protein from edamame, vitamin B and E plus copper, manganese and calcium that you get from the sesame and sunflower seeds.

Red Cabbage Slaw with Edamame, Sunflower Seeds and Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette
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Serves 4 
2 cups thinly sliced Red Cabbage
1 Carrot, shredded, (about ½ cup)
½ cup Edamame (soybeans)
2 tbsp. Toasted, Salted Sunflower Seeds
1 tbsp. Toasted, Sesame Seeds 
2 tbsp. low-sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari Sauce
2 tbsp. Seasoned Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1 tsp. Toasted Sesame Oil
1 tbsp. Raw Honey or Agave
2 tsp. minced fresh Ginger
1 Garlic Clove, minced

1.   Combine cabbage, edamame, carrots, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds in a medium size bowl; set aside while you make the vinaigrette.

2.   Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and pour over cabbage mixture, allow the flavors to meld together for 1-2 hours, covered, in the refrigerator. 


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Eggplant Provencal Tartine

No real recipe needed here, just see what you have growing in the garden and there you will find dinner!

I made these for our dinner on the night of the full moon.  I didn't want to have to fuss over anything cooking since we were not sure when the moon would show over the hills to the East.  It finally showed up around 9:00 pm!

Around 7 pm, I cut up the small eggplants, tossed in some purple green beans, various varieties of cherry tomatoes, fresh garlic, sliced onion and basil.  Tossed it all together in some delicious California Olive Oil
then baked in a 400 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. I stirred it once about halfway through cooking.

The vegetables roast up soft and sweet, no need for cheese on these tartines.  The onion was so creamy that we used those and the garlic to spread on the bread first.  The eggplant, creamy soft, chewy and succulent, roasted to perfection.

Then all you need do is make some toast from your favorite ciabatta bread, pile on the vegetables, add some fresh basil, sprinkle with a little sea salt and there you have it.  Dinner for two, perfect for an evening under the stars and the most magnificent moon of the year!

Fresh from the Garden, Japanese Eggplants and Purple Beans
Lots of Cherry Tomatoes from the garden!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Farro and White Wheat Berry Greek Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Feta

We eat a lot of one-bowl salads/meals.  They are quick to put together and you can add all sorts of grains, vegetables and herbs to vary the mix.

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Farro and White Wheat Berry Greek Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts and Feta

Makes 8 servings

  • 1 cup (dry) Farro
  • 1 cup (dry) Soft White Wheat Berries
  • ½  tsp Sea Salt

Several hours ahead or the night before, soak the farro and wheat berries in a bowl of water, to cover.  Drain, place in saucepan and cover the grains with water, about two inches over the top of the grain.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender but still firm, al denté.  Drain and allow to cool.

Thai Basil fresh from my garden
Heirloom Hillbilly variety Tomatoes from my garden
Fresh Parsley from my patio herb pot

  • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • Juice from one Lemon
  • Zest from one Lemon
  • 1 TB Oregano, dried
  • 4 TB Parsley leaves, rough chop
  • 4 TB Basil leaves, rough chop
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ¼ tsp ground Pepper
  • 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Set aside while you prepare the salad


  • 1 red Bell Pepper, diced
  • 3 small Persian Cucumbers, diced
  • 2 large Tomatoes, diced in large chunks
  • ¼ of a large Red Onion, minced
  • Cooked Grains
  • Feta Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts (optional)

Toss all ingredients together in the bowl of Vinaigrette.  Serve immediately or refrigerate.  Keep in mind that tomatoes taste best when room temperature.
 **Add a bit of Feta Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts to each serving.  I forgot to take the photo after I plated.  The crunch of the nuts and the tangy, saltiness of the feta is a perfect addition.