Yam and Avocado Bowl with Tahini and Farro

by Carlye Cunniff
( March 3rd, 2015 )

Avocado Yam Bowls

February has brought on some nicer weather in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m starting to come out of my winter eating slump. One trend I’m really loving this year is the migration towards ‘bowl foods.’ They seem to be popping up everywhere – food magazines, restaurants, health blogs – and I totally get it. There is a lot of freedom in creating a delightful bowl of goodness. It’s easy to design whatever flavor combination you want with minimal cooking (thus minimal ways to mess it up). Most recently, I created this yam and avocado bowl with tahini and farro, taking inspiration from The Sprouted Kitchen’s Tahini Dressing. 

As a side note, the Tahini Dressing recipe listed above is the bomb. I could eat it all the time, on all the foods. I don’t quite follow the recipe for this dish, but making up a batch of the original version to have in the fridge is never a bad idea.

This  recipe is for just one bowl of goodness, because I like to make a bowl of lunch to enjoy all by myself. That doesn’t mean you can’t serve it to your people, you’ll just need to make more sauce!

Ingredients:

1 Cup Cooked Farro (or really any grain you wish, farro takes a while to cook)
1/2 yam, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 avocado
1/2 bunch of kale
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 cup tahini
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Roasted Yams

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spread yams in one layer on baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Bake yams until fork pierces them, about 30 minutes.
Cook farro according to package directions. I use a rice cooker because I’m surprisingly terrible at cooking grains by myself.
Wilt kale in skillet with a pinch of salt, olive oil and 1 of the cloves of garlic.
Toss wilted kale, finished yams and avocado together, along with the cooked farro.
Whisk tahini, olive oil, agave nectar and apple cider vinegar together. I add the tiniest amount of water for this bowl because I enjoy a thicker sauce. Feel free to add more if you are looking for a more vinaigrette feel.
Pour sauce over veggie and grain mixture and enjoy!

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Lent Recipes Around the World

by Carlye Cunniff
( February 27th, 2015 )

Lent has officially begun, and if you observe this season of fasting (for religious or other reasons) you’re likely well aware of the culinary sacrifices you’ve made to mark the days between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Like many modern – day holidays, the tradition of Lent has fallen prey to how much money it can make – diet and nutrition industries have snapped the holiday up as a way to promote weight loss, diet and exercise fads.

We all know those people, maybe we work with them, live with them, potentially avoid them, who give up something heroic for Lent, then complain about their lot for 40 days and 40 nights. Common culprits of whiney Lent sacrifice include chocolate, wine, alcohol and sugar. While these are great choices of things to give up, a sacrifice for the sake of changing your body or looking like a martyr is not really a sacrifice at all.

In an attempt to ensure I do not become a whiney Lent practitioner myself, I wanted to think about the creativity needed to put together unique food options  during this time of year. In the spirit of considering positivity and non-whiney-ness during this Lenten season, I’ve gathered some recipes for your enjoyment (and mine!) Check out these Lent recipes from around the world – you may even want to savor them all year-round!

Seafood Empanadas

In Mexico: Mexico has one the most festive celebrations of Carnival in the world, and the Lent season following the festivities is as somber as Carnival is celebratory. Meat is traditionally avoided on Fridays during Lent, so bring on the seafood! A wonderful alternative found in Mexico during the season are seafood empanadas. Although you can stuff them with whatever combination you like, this one, from Epicurious is particularly appetizing.

Capirotada, Mexican bread pudding, is a popular Lent – season dessert. Some believe the combination of ingredients is meant to represent the suffering of Christ on the cross, others just believe in the enticing flavor. Enjoy this recipe from Muy Bueno to make the sweet treat at home.

In Greece: Lent for Orthodox Greeks is observed on slightly different days than in other denominations, but essentially has the same meaning. It is also more heavily restricted; practitioners abstain from meat, dairy, fish with backbones and olive oil during the entire season. There are special recipes for specific days within Lent, but this simple cornbread, also known as peasant bread, can be enjoyed anytime. It contains no dairy or eggs but you won’t miss them with it’s flavor.

Another sweet Greek lenten treat? Greek honey puffs, also known as loukoumades. Check out this recipe, reminiscent of a very classy summer-time fair.  Yes please.

In France: In France, Mardi Gras precedes Lent, and has foodstuffs and celebrations to give New Orleans a run for it’s money. For Lent, the French, unlike Orthodox Greeks, can enjoy cheese dishes. Thank goodness, because the French do cheese so well!

Silk Weaver’s Brain, or Cervelle de Canut, is a fromage blanc base with herbs and vinegar. There is some dispute over whether the name reflects a tribute or an insult to the silk-workers in Lyon, but no dispute over the deliciousness of the dish! This recipe from About.com is easy and can be served with fresh bread or crackers.

Another Lent-time treat in France are Savory Palmiers. Goat cheese, nuts, pesto combine in a pretzel-shaped pastry to create a delightful appetizer or side dish. Try this reciepe from Ina Garten.

Savory Palmiers

Roasted Beet Salad, is a hearty lunch when meat is not an option. Traditional French cooking calls for roasted beets—of any color—and high quality cheese. This recipe from Chez Bonne Femme calls for blue cheese, but goat cheese or feta would work as well.

Does your family have any foods you always make during Lent? Please share below!

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Photo Credits:

Pesto Palmiers. Ruth Hartnup, Licensed under CC by 2.0.

Tuna and Red Pepper Empanadas. Rebecca T. Caro.  Licensed under CC by ND-2.0

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Wanderfood Wednesday: Gnocchi with Brown Butter, Lemon and Ricotta

by Carlye Cunniff
( February 25th, 2015 )

Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Ricotta

Gnocchi is one of the loves of my life, but, it’s complicated. I have struggled countless times, and wasted multiple Saturday afternoons trying to make “perfect” gnocchi from scratch. As someone who really likes to make exciting things from scratch (bread, cheese, tortillas) gnocchi’s ability to allude me is aggravating. I recently stumbled upon a recipe to make gnocchi with spinach and ricotta in the ball of potato goodness itself, but decided to maintain my nerves. I used store bought pasta and made a delightful sauce with browned butter, lemon and ricotta instead. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Sunset Magazine, Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi.

Ingredients for Gnocchi

You Will Need:


1 bunch fresh spinach, rinsed and coarsely chopped
10 0z. whole-milk ricotta cheese (I make my own ricotta, but about one carton will do nicely)
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt, to taste
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 package gnocchi
3 cloves garlic, minced



 Directions:

1. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. After it’s drained leave it covered in it’s pot, add spinach to wilt.

2. Brown butter over medium heat. I use my beloved cast iron skillet for this. Your butter will start to take on a sweeter flavor by browning it, just be careful it doesn’t burn. It will form tiny bubbles and be a golden-brown color when it’s ready.

3. Add pine nuts and garlic to brown butter and cook lightly. You just want to give the pine nuts a toasty flavor, and they can burn fast! Reduce heat to simmer.

4. Add ricotta to skillet and slowly stir until incorporated.

Add Ricotta

5. Add lemon zest and half the parmesan cheese. Stir until incorporated. The sauce is quite chunky by nature-don’t fret! The glorious fragments of ricotta will stick to your gnocchi and burst with cheesy-lemony goodness.

6. Cover gnocchi and spinach mixture with sauce, toss with remaining parmesan and serve.


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