lima bean + beet salad

Life has been really busy lately. I have a few projects I’ve been working on [more on that soon], and school is demanding more and more of my energy. That being said, I feel like I’ve been a bit neglectful of this space, so I wanted to check in briefly.

I came across these lima beans during my weekly visit to the farmer’s market yesterday, still in their shells, and was immediately inspired by the prospect of a earthy, fall salad. It ended up working out beautifully, and so despite the simplicity, I wanted to share it with you.

The beans are sautéed over high heat in a cast iron skillet [after blanching], giving them a crisp exterior to their otherwise creamy, meaty interior. And, for some textural contrast, I made some beet chips, which add a bit of crunch and earthiness. Everything is tossed in a simple vinaigrette, meant to bring the flavors together, but definitely not to overshadow them. I think it would work beautifully served alongside something light for dinner, like a broiled salmon with lemon, although I just ate it by itself for lunch which was lovely as well.

I’m off to finish up some chores, and am looking forward a nice glass of wine and the new episode of Homeland tonight. Wishing you all a relaxing and peaceful Sunday evening.

 

lima bean + beet salad

Despite being vegetarian, this salad offers a heartiness that is perfect for crisp, fall temperatures. The lima beans impart a meaty texture, while the beet chips add a slight crunch for textural contrast. This dish would be delicious as a light lunch, or served along something light — like a broiled salmon — for dinner.

for the salad:

1 beet, peeled and green tops removed

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

8 ounces shelled fresh lima beans

1 cup mixed greens

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

coarse salt, to taste

 

for the vinaigrette:

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

salt + freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Slice the beet on a mandolin into 1/16-inch-thick medallions. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the olive and oil and season with salt to taste. Toss to combine. Arrange beet slices in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan, making sure to leave space in between each one. Transfer to the oven and bake, flipping chips halfway through, until crisp and golden on the edges, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Fill a stock pot or large sauce pan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the shelled lima beans and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for two minutes, drain, and shock beans in ice water to stop the cooking. Drain on paper towels.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet. Add the blanched lima beans and season with salt. Cook, stirring only occasionally, until just starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds longer. Remove from the heat and transfer beans to a serving bowl.

Next, make the vinaigrette: in a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the mixed greens to the bowl with the lima beans and drizzle over half of the vinaigrette. Toss to combine. [Add additional vinaigrette if desired]. Garnish with the beet chips and the ricotta cheese.

Yield: serves 2

grilled eggplant + hummus

I have this little blue notebook where I write my recipes. It’s filled with lists of ingredients, and quick bulleted instructions that probably only make sense to me. Every page shows evidence of ingredients past — a splatter of red wine stains the page that reads “risotto”, a smear of oil on the one marked “beet greens pesto”. There are scribbles and question marks, cross outs and ripped corners, and dark circles around the ingredients I often forget. Some pages are ripped out, signs of disappointments and failed attempts, while others are dog-eared and faded from constant use. 

Some days, when my mind feels too jumbled from the seemingly unending feeds of beautifully prepared dishes and innovative recipes in the media, I find myself referring back to my blue book, as a way to center myself. The other day proved to be one of those times. As I flipped through its stained and crumpled pages, I came to a page that caught my attention. In stark contrast to the pages surrounding it, this one appeared almost empty, save for a few lines and a simple title that read, “hummus”.  

Armed with my book, and the ingredients I had on hand, I went about preparing that hummus — nothing more than some chickpeas, a few spoonfuls of tahini, a drizzle of garlic infused olive oil and a whirl in the blender. I grabbed a few eggplants that I had picked up a few days earlier at the market, speckled lavender and white, and cut them into spears to grill. I threw everything on a board, added a drizzle of tahini, a few vibrant herbs, and some naan bread warmed in the oven, and paused briefly to remind myself: simple is best. Simple is what inspires you. 


grilled eggplant + hummus

I’ve never been a huge fan of eggplant, as I find it lacks flavor without its skin, but I often find the skin tough and unappetizing. I recently discovered these lavender and white speckled, delicate-skinned varietals at the farmers market, however, which I love. When grilled, they still hold their shape, but become soft and creamy on the inside, making for a delicious preparation and a beautiful presentation. Paired with some vibrant herbs and creamy hummus, this dish is perfect for a casual, light dinner, or for a fun appetizer. The hummus recipe can easily be doubled if you are making this for a party! 

 

for the eggplant:

4 small eggplants (preferably Antigua eggplants, or another delicate-skinned, non-bitter varietal)

extra virgin olive oil

salt, to taste

2 tablespoons tahini paste

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, for garnish

a few handfuls of fresh mint and parsley, for garnish

 

for the hummus:

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 – 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 15 oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 tablespoons tahini paste

1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 tablespoons water

squeeze of lemon juice

sesame seeds and chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

naan bread for serving

 

First, prepare the eggplant: trim the ends and cut into long spears. If your eggplant has a lot of seeds, make sure to only use the outermost flesh with the least amount of seeds [the seeds are often bitter]. Line a sheet pan with paper towel and spread the eggplant over it in an even layer. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and allow to rest while you prepare the hummus. *This step is optional, but I find that eggplant does not absorb as much olive oil when they are salted first.

Next, prepare the hummus: in a small sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once warm, add the crushed garlic and sauté until fragrant [about 2-3 minutes]. Remove from heat. 

In a blender or food processor, add the chickpeas, olive oil and garlic, tahini paste, salt, water, and squeeze of lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Use a rubber spatula to transfer hummus to a bowl and taste for seasoning. 

Once eggplant has rested for about 15 – 20 minutes, pat it dry with paper towels to absorb all of the moisture that has beaded at the surface and to rub off any excess salt. Drizzle eggplant very generously with extra virgin olive oil. Preheat a grill or grill pan over high heat and brush grates with olive oil. Working in batches [making sure not to overcrowd the grill or pan], grill the eggplant on all sides until golden brown on the outside and very soft when touched [the length of time will depend on how thick your spears are. For reference, mine took 6 – 8 minutes each]. Make sure to give them time, as there is nothing worse than undercooked eggplant! If you are working in a grill pan, you may have to drizzle the pan with more olive oil between batches. 

Once cooked, remove the eggplant from the grill and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with tahini paste, and garnish with mint, parsley, sesame seeds, and coarse salt [if needed]. Top hummus with a drizzle of olive oil, and chopped parley and sesame seeds as garnish. Serve the grilled eggplant + hummus with warmed naan bread for dipping. It’s especially delicious if you add some hummus and eggplant to a piece of naan and eat it like crostini!

 

serves 4 as an appetizer

 

paprika + garlic hummus

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Simplicity. It should be so easy to achieve, yet in reality, it often isn’t. Life is full of complications, hidden meanings, obstacles – it takes twists and turns, some expected and welcomed, others without warning. Just when we feel we have achieved our goals, we rearrange them – constantly evolving and changing as people. Sometimes I feel comfort in this – in knowing that I am always growing as a person. Other times I’m afraid of the unpredictable and unknown. It’s not simple, and maybe it’s not supposed to be.

the holiday season is in full swing, and i’m trying to focus on what it all is supposed to truly symbolize, which often gets lost amidst an overflowing inbox of holiday deals and the pressure to find the “perfect” present. i’m thinking of those less fortunate and how good i really have it.

so, with gratitude and in the spirit of simplicity, here’s an unadorned, uncomplicated bowl of hummus. maybe it’s too simple to share, but i felt it a timely reminder amid this holiday season to take things easy and enjoy the little things.


paprika + garlic hummus

easy to make and delicious – what could be better? this hummus is great for a party, as it can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve [bring it up to room temperature for an hour or so before serving]. it’s also yummy served immediately, when it’s still warm. pair with some pita chips and crudite and you’re good to go!

ingredients:

1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon tahini

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt 

2 small cloves of garlic [or 1 large clove], minced 

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

extra virgin olive oil and paprika for garnish

 

in a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. once warm, add minced garlic and sauté for 45 seconds, or until fragrant. remove from heat.

add chickpeas, tahini, paprika, salt, and garlic olive oil to a blender or food processor. blend until smooth [if using a blender, you may need to use a muddler to get mixture moving, as it’s a bit thick].

once blended, transfer hummus to a small bowl and top with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of paprika. 

for the pita chips:

pita bread

olive oil

salt

 

preheat oven to 350 degrees. cut pita bread until triangles and arrange in a single layer on cookie sheets. drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. mix pita triangles around until all sides are coated lightly with olive oil. [again, make sure triangles are only in a single layer and not overlapping – it’s important not to overcrowd the pans, as the pita will not toast].

bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping the triangles once halfway through, until golden brown. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving [chips will continue to crisp as they cool]. leftover chips can be stored in an airtight container.

thanksgiving [and brown butter, sage + cheddar pull-apart bread]

This year, we split our Thanksgiving holiday between Henry’s family and mine. Miles enjoyed his first snow at Henry’s aunt and uncle’s in New Hampshire, galloping under bowed pine branches and uncovering buried sticks, while we spent time with family over delicious meals and by roaring fires.

After Thanksgiving, we joined my family on the Cape for our annual lobster feast, where Miles discovered a profound love of sand, seaweed, and driftwood [and rediscovered his love of chasing Beau and birds] on the beach at low tide. Back at home, we spent evenings playing cribbage by the fire and enjoying Gram’s delicious pumpkin pie.

We’re home now, and while these cherished moments are behind us, my heart is full with memories made. Until next time … 


brown butter, sage + cheddar pull-apart bread

If you’ve never tried pull-apart bread before, you need to. It’s delicious, fun to eat, and it hides all imperfections. This version is inspired by fall flavors, but the filling can easily be substituted depending on the occasion [try a fruit puree, or butter, cinnamon + sugar for a delicious breakfast bread].  

 

for the dough:

[dough recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman]

2 cups milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

4 cups bread flour + 1/2 additional cup 

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

for the filling:

6-8 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup fresh sage, minced

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup grated cheddar cheese + 1/4 cup for garnish

Add milk and butter to a small sauce pan. Warm over medium heat until butter is melted and milk is starting to steam. Turn off heat and add sugar. Allow to cool until mixture is very warm to the touch [you should be able to put your hand in it without immediately pulling it away, but it should be warmer than bath water]. Once it cools to this point, stir in the yeast and allow to sit for approximately 10 minutes, or until mixture foams. 

In a stand mixture with a dough hook, combine 4 cups of flour with liquid mixture and mix until dough comes together. Cover bowl first with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and allow to sit in a warm place for an hour, or until dough doubles in size. 

After an hour, add additional 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix with dough hook until combined. 

Meanwhile, add butter to a small sauté pan and melt over medium heat. Continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, until butter is light brown [make sure to keep an eye on it, as it can easily burn]. Once butter is light brown, add sage and salt and sauté for about 1 minute – or until aromatic. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool slightly. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a loaf pan. On a floured surface, roll out dough to about a 1/4-inch thickness into a rough rectangle shape. With a spoon or pastry brush, spread butter mixture evenly over the top of the dough – making sure to spread all the way to the edges. Sprinkle 1 cup of the grated cheese evenly over top.

Next, cut the dough into about 5 long strips [about 4-inches wide]. Stack these strips on top of each other to make one pile. Now, cut the pile into 6-8 even slices. Place each “slice” sideways into the bread pan [depending on how many slices you have, you may have extra pieces left over]. Although tempting, do not try to fill the sides of the pan with extra pieces – there should be a little bit of room on either side of the bread. 

Cover the bread with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rise for about 20 minutes. 

Remove kitchen towel and sprinkle the top of the bread with an additional 1/4 cup grated cheddar. Bake for 50 minutes, checking after 30 to make sure the top of the bread is not browning too much. If after 30 minutes, the top is too brown, cover with aluminum foil before baking for the remaining 20 minutes. 

Allow to cool on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes before removing from loaf pan.