the perfect make-ahead summer dish – chickpeas with roasted eggplant, peppers + basil

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Stock up on eggplant, peppers, and fresh basil and make this staple salad all summer long. It will become a go-to for bringing to a picnic or BBQ – or simply keeping on hand in your fridge when hunger strikes. I love make ahead recipes that get better and better the longer they sit – and this chickpea dish fits the bill.

Eggplant can be tricky — a lot of people at cooking classes complain that when cooking at home, the texture can get soggy, mushy, and all around unenjoyable. I swear by salting the eggplant first – and this goes for any method of cooking it. You simply cut the eggplant how you plan to cook it, and generously add a heavy pinch of salt (I like using kosher for this). When you let it sit, a brownish liquid will release – this takes out some of the bitter flavor in the eggplant, and also results in a desirable texture — think chewy + meaty (in a good way).

I also like roasting peppers to bring out the sweetness and add a charred flavor. If this step is a deal breaker, go ahead and purchase jarred roasted peppers.

Ideally make this salad a few hours before serving – or even the day before. I like tossing with whole, fresh basil leafs right before to add a punch of green and a fresh, herby flavor.

Chickpea salad with eggplant + peppers

Ingredients:

1 medium/large eggplant (or 2 small)
2 red peppers
1-12 ounce box of cooked chickpeas, drained and dried
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon ground oregano
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup fresh basil

Procedure:

Half eggplant lengthwise, and then cut into half moods. Add to a colander and sprinkle with a generous pinch of kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes (can be more or less). A brownish liquid will release.

Preheat oven to 375.

Rinse eggplant and then arrange on a large parchment lined baking sheet. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast for 25 minutes. Remove and let cool.

While eggplant is salting, preheat broiler. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds. Place face down on baking sheet and add drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Broil for 8-10 minutes – until skin is black and papery. Remove, use tongs to flip upside down ,and let cool. When peppers are cool, remove skin and chop or tear into pieces.

Add chickpeas and peppers to a large bowl, and season with a bit of salt. Add eggplant. Add vinegar, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper to taste.

It’s ideal to let this marinate for 30 minutes – overnight. Before serving, toss with fresh basil.

beat the heat – with this no-cook chickpea salad

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I don’t know about you, but when summer rolls around, I prefer spending more time outside, and less time in the kitchen. And when I’m in the kitchen, I gravitate towards fast preparations that don’t require adding any extra heat to my kitchen. This chickpea salad is a perfect, no-cook preparation that is not only light and refreshing, but a complete meal, with a balance of protein + fiber + healthy fat.

Tabbouleh salad is typically made with bulgar wheat, parsley, cucumber, tomato, and mint. In this version, we keep all the staple flavors but swap out the bulgar wheat for protein rich chickpeas. By pulsing the beans in a food processor, the texture will more closely resemble that of a grain. Make the salad ahead of time for easy entertaining or a grab + go lunch. It’s an especially nice ‘flexitarian’ touch to a summer meal that accommodates vegetarians, while still being enjoyed by all. With the height of tomato and cucumber season approaching, it’s a great recipe to celebrate seasonality.

I’ve made this salad several times, and the key is draining and rinsing the beans really well, making sure they are pretty dry, and removing any loose skins from the beans before putting in the food processor. After rinsing, I arrange the beans in an even layer on a clean kitchen towel and let them dry for 20-30 minutes. It adds a little time onto the preparation, but its worth it to avoid a soupy, wet mess.

Chickpea Tabbouleh with Roma Tomato + Cucumber

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and dried
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup packed fresh parsley
¼ cup fresh mint
2 roma tomatoes, core scooped out, and diced into ¼ inch pieces
½ seedless cucumber, peeled, cored, and diced into ¼ inch pieces

Procedure:

Add chickpeas to food processor, and pulse until they have a rice-like consistency, about 10-15 times.

Transfer to a bowl, and add lemon juice, olive oil, and salt; stir. Add chopped parsley, mint, tomatoes, and cucumber. Gently stir to combine, and season to taste with additional salt and pepper as necessary.

a satisfying salad to transition into winter — celery root with greens + tart dried cherries

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I’ve been making a version of this salad every fall for the last five years or so. I love how seasonal celery root is the star of the show; its earthy – almost nutty – flavor pairs beautifully with kale. And both ingredients are hearty and ‘toothsome’ to satisfy cool weather appetites. In other words — this is not a dainty summer salad!

If you’re not familiar with celery root, I posted a little bit about it HERE with a basic roasting recipe.

This salad get even better after it sits for a few hours, making it a great make ahead lunch of dinner salad. Add a handful of french of black lentils for a punch of protein to make this a complete meal. It’s also lovely served aside fish or chicken.

Celery Root Salad with Greens + Tart Dried Cherries

Ingredients:

1 small bunch kale, preferably lacinato
1 small celery root
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup tart dried cherries (can substitute currants or cranberries)

Procedure:

Remove stems from kale, and tear leaves into small pieces. You should get about 3 cups of greens. Place them in a large bowl. Squeeze half a lemon over kale, along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/8 teaspoon sea salt. Use clean hands to ‘massage kale’ making sure to evenly coat. Set aside.

Meanwhile, use a knife to carefully remove the thick skin around the celery root to reveal the white vegetable. Ideally, set up the grating attachment on a food processor and grate. You should get about 2 cups. Alternately, use a box grater and do by hand.

Add remaining lemon, oil, and salt to celery root and toss to coat. Add celery root to kale and evenly mix. Add cherries, and season to taste with additional salt, pepper and/or lemon.

Option to add grated parmesan, pecorino, or shaved manchego cheese.

get fresh + festive – with this perfect summertime salad

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If all goes according to plan, the summer season fills our days with warm days, blue skies, sunshine, friends, playtime, picnics and parties. Being in Chicago, I haven’t been able to enjoy much of the first items I mentioned (yet!) but hopefully you have had a chance to spend late nights and long weekends with your nearest and dearest.

It goes without saying that a packed social schedule usually involves food in one form or another. Whether you’re a host or attendee – you need a simple, fresh dish that’s simple, fresh and festive. Here’s my favorite make ahead summer salad that is vibrant, colorful + packed with flavor. The best part? No need to sweat and slave away in the kitchen! The ingredients all keep pretty well in the fridge, so you can buy ahead of time and put it together when you have a chance. Ideally, make it a day ahead of time, and let the dressing flavor the vegetables. Toss before serving.

Green Bean Salad with Crispy Cauliflower + Tomato

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil (+ more for dressing)
1 pound green beans, trimmed (I used haircots verts)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 scallions, chopped (white and pale green parts)
1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup olive oil
sea salt + fresh ground pepper to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange cauliflower on pan, and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and caramelized.

Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan to a boil. Add green beans and ‘shock’ for 2-3 minutes. Remove quickly (and carefully!) from pan, and run until very cold water to stop the cooking process. This will make sure your beans are bright green and crisp. I like to dry them by placing on a clean dish towel. This will make sure the dressing sticks.

You can also prepare the dressing while the cauliflower cooks. Juice lemon in a small bowl, and add minced garlic, mustard, and a pinch of salt. Gently whisk to combine. Stream in olive oil and whisk.

Add your cooked beans, cauliflower, halved tomatoes, and chopped scallions to a large bowl. Season a bit with salt + pepper. Pour your freshly made dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Ideally, let marinate for at least 30 minutes before serving. You can also make a day ahead of time.

Variations:

*Add olives and/or capers.
*Add a handful of your favorite fresh herb: basil, parsley, dill, tarragon, etc
*Add feta, goat cheese, or shaved parmesan
*Add a kick with chopped fresno chilis, serrano or crushed red pepper flakes

supernatural salad – black lentils with roasted broccoli

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If your weekend schedule isn’t already filled with summer parties, picnics, and BBQs – I’m sure it will be soon. Menus can sometimes be hamburger and hot dog heavy – and vegetarian, vegan or just generally health conscious folks worry there might be little to nothing for them to eat. My advice? Bring something to share!

This protein packed vegetable salad will be a go-to recipe to make ahead for weekday lunches and will be a hit at any summer soiree. It is a perfect ‘flexitarian’ option that will be appreciated by plant-based eaters and carnivores alike.

I like using black lentils – which you can find at Whole Foods or other natural food stores. If you can’t find them, use French or brown lentils. They have a good ‘bite’ that hold up well during cooking and will add toothsome texture to the salad.

Black Lentil Salad with Roasted Broccoli + Peppers

Ingredients:

1 cup black lentils
3-4 cups broccoli, cut into florets
½ cup roasted red peppers (fresh or from jar), chopped
1 cup baby spinach
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
¼ cup red vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil olive oil + 1 tablespoon for broccoli
sea salt + pepper to taste

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400.

Add lentils to a medium sauce pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 18-20 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange broccoli in an even layer. Drizzle olive oil over broccoli and add a pinch sea salt. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until broccoli is bright green, tender, but still crisp.

Whisk together vinegar, garlic, mustard and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Stream in olive oil; whisk.

When lentils are done, drain in a colader. Add to a large bowl; toss with dressing. Add in broccoli, peppers, and spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

kale salad with apples + walnuts

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Happy New Year! I hope 2013 shapes up to be your best year yet – filled with health and happiness.

With the blank slate of a new year ahead of us, it’s a great time to reset your palette and bulk up on healthy, nutrient-dense food. I always make a point to ‘get more greens’ in January, and just stocked my fridge with kale, arugula and chard to have on hand for quick juices, smoothies, and salads. They’re naturally detoxifying and super energizing – which comes in handy on these gray, drab winter days.

I’m so looking forward to sharing tips, tricks, and simple recipes to feel your best in 2013 by teaching the ‘Delicious Detox‘ series at Whole Foods beginning on January 15. If you’re too excited to wait, watch me on WCIU’s ‘You and Me This Morning‘ tomorrow (January 2) as I dish on the series and share some healthy tips to kickstart your healthy new year. Spoiler alert: This creamy kale salad will make an appearance…

Creamy Kale Salad with Apples + Toasted Walnuts

Ingredients:

1 bunch kale
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ avocado
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 small apple, sliced
1/4 cup toasted walnuts

Procedure:

Remove stems from kale and finely chop; place in bowl. Add lemon, olive oil, avocado, and salt to kale. Use clean hands and ‘massage’ kale until bright green. Adjust seasonings to taste, and add in apple slices and crumble toasted walnuts on top.