Curried Lentils with Roasted Beets, Chickpeas, and Fresh Spinach

The side dishes that show up on the holiday table have started to look the same every year. I’m all for tradition and love a large helping of creamy mashed potatoes, however, how many green bean casseroles do you need to eat before you decide it’s time to broaden your options?

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Vegetarian Meatballs with Fresh Herbed Tomato Sauce

It seems strange to call these meatballs, meatballs considering there isn’t any meat in them, however every other word I tried to come up with to describe them just didn’t sound right.  So we’re going with meatballs!  Whatever you want to call them, they were fantastic!  The creamy lentils were the perfect binder to hold the ingredients together, and the earthy, deep roasted flavor from the vegetables, paired with the bright acidity from the pesto and herbed spicy tomato sauce were a match made in vegetarian heaven.

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Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry in Spicy Peanut Sauce over Glass Noodles

I love this recipe – in fact, I’ve made it three times since I first created it because my husband, daughter and I all decided it was our new favorite. The aromas from the spicy peanut sauce and the vibrant colors from the vegetables immediately tell your taste-buds to get ready for that first flavorful bite!

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Grilled Portobello Caprese

It’s kind of a joke in my family how much I love fresh from the vine-ripened tomatoes, and it is common to see me pluck a ripe, juicy gem from one of the plants in our garden and pop it in my mouth before it even makes its way into the house. So this recipe is an homage to my obsession with summer ripened tomatoes and a twist on a traditional Caprese salad.

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Brussels Sprout Slaw with Feta and Candied Cashew Dust

I started shaving raw Brussels sprouts into salads a few months ago because I liked the slightly bitter flavor they add to fresh greens, and I wanted to work in some additional protein, iron, and potassium to my diet.

For this recipe, I decided to go all in and make the sprouts the focus of the slaw by having the creamy feta cheese and the tangy balsamic dressing bring the flavors together. The added crunchy sweet cashew dust was a perfect finish.

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Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil Gnocchi

It’s hard to imagine the same bright summer heat that ripens tomatoes could still infuse its warmth offseason, but that flavor really comes through here.  I used minced sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, which not only infused that delicious warm tomato flavor into the dough, it gave the gnocchi great color as well.

These little nuggets have so much flavor all they need is a light toss in some toasted garlic olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan and chopped basil.

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Pineapple-Plum Habanero Salsa

pineapple-plum-habanero-salsa

My spicy pepper choice this summer was all about habaneros; specifically chocolate, spicy mustard and the rare and elusive white habanero. As any home gardener knows, once you commit to planting edibles in your garden, you spend the next several months watering, chasing bunnies, pruning, staking, and relocating them to different sunny spots for maximum exposure. Last week my patience finally paid off, and I’ve harvested an amazing crop of peppers. So off to the kitchen I went to create some new spicy, flavorful dishes while they were plump and fresh.

Advanced warning, the next several weeks of recipes are going to be all about peppers and delicious spicy heat so get ready!

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Carrot, Fennel and Radicchio Stuffed Pasta Shells

Carrot, Fennel and Radicchio Stuffed Pasta Shells

Here’s another perfect weekday dinner that comes together in about an hour. And if you make a big enough pan, you’ll have enough leftovers for another night. The creamy Fontina cheese is a nice change from the traditional Mozzarella, and mixing the half-and-half into the sauce adds another layer of depth and richness in flavor.

It’s also a perfect meal for vegetarians, much to the chagrin of my daughter. Halfway through our dinner, she asked me, “This is really good, Mom. What kind of meat is stuffed inside the pasta?” When I told her there was no meat, just carrots, fennel, onion, garlic and radicchio, she paused, thought about that for a moment and then kept eating.

That’s a success in my book!

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Warm Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

Wam Asparagus and Mushroom Salad with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

You know how a sandwich or a salad tastes better when someone else makes it? The reason is a combination of your visual perception along with a psychological response to the exposure of the ingredients. If you’re the one making the salad, your mind is thinking about how the finished dish will taste, so in the end, the resulting pleasure isn’t as strong as if someone else prepares and presents you with the finished dish.

Either way, this salad still tastes as delicious as my mind tells me it will, whether I make it or not. The warm roasted mushrooms and asparagus add a deep, earthy layer to the salad, and the dressing has just the right level of acidity to give your taste buds a bright pop of flavor.

And just a suggestion, go the extra step and buy a nice aged Parmesan and grate it yourself for this dish. The inherent nuttiness and buttery flavor of an aged Parmesan works well here.

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Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

Curried Couscous with Broccoli and Feta

I had one of those moments the other night, where I found myself staring blankly, into the pantry, trying to decide what I had a taste for.  I kept waffling back and forth between pasta and veggies, until I finally just decided to make them both!  As it turned out, I was very pleased with the results.

The creamy chickpeas and feta cheese added a healthy dose of calcium and protein; the cashews and crisp broccoli contributed a nice crunch, and the dried fruit and shredded carrots gave just the right amount of sweetness against the tangy curry and rice wine vinegar marinade.  It satisfied both of my cravings and the colors made for a very pretty dish!

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