Arugula Pesto


If my 10-year-old self could see me now, I wonder what she’d say.

I was a picky eater with a pretty developed flavor palate. My parents are foodies, but at 10, I was anything but. My parents had a rule that we had to try everything. We couldn’t just stick out our tongue. I remember several evenings around the family dinner table where it was a total battle of wills to just take a bite of the mahi mahi or two bites of the curry. Who knew?

At age 10, all I wanted was a crunchy iceberg salad at dinner. Instead, I had a plate of mesclun and arugula greens. I remember the requests to “finish the arugula on the plate and then….” I didn’t believe in arugula at age 10. Why does this strange lettuce have to have so much flavor?! Arugula, really?? Who knew that I would grow up to be this person that seeks out arugula. Heck, I even grow arugula on my fire escape! That’s how much I love it!

In the off season, I tend to buy the bags of baby arugula from Trader Joe’s. Arugula is in season now – as are a variety of other greens. And I’m in salad green heaven.

Arugula is a fantastic green characterized by its amazing slightly peppery flavor. It’s also sometimes called roquette or rocket greens.


Last week, as I came upon the farmer’s market outside my office, I spotted some beautiful greens and I had to have them. I eagerly bought two bunches. Of course, when I came home and picked up my CSA, there were a couple more bunches. This whole lot of arugula was in addition to a bag of baby arugula sitting in my fridge. Um. I think I had more arugula that I needed. I mean, I love salads, but this much arugula was making me twitchy.

I decided to make a pesto out of the greens. My husband usually turns down a basil pesto, but I had a hunch that the lighter flavor of the arugula leaves would be more to his liking. And I was right!

I washed and dried a few cups of the greens and pulsed it in my Cuisinart along with some garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, salt, pepper and olive oil. It took all of two minutes.


I added the pesto to some pappardelle that I tossed with some sautéed shallots, garlic, mushrooms, chickpeas and additional lemon juice. I sprinkled on some red pepper flakes and ground black pepper and dinner was served. Dinner was a success. I stored the rest of the pesto in my freezer. I am totally making this again. If only arugula season was year-round.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Arugula Pesto
  • 3.5 cups of arugula leaves (you can include some of the stems), washed
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup toasted pine nuts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place everything except for the olive oil in to the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process everything then slowly pour in the olive oil until everything is processed and mixed together.
  3. Taste the pesto and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Enjoy! Add this pesto pasta or use as a pizza topping. The options are endless.



Corn & Cheese Fritters with Pear Salsa


I love being a part of this fantastic group of food bloggers, the Kosher Connection. Each month, we are challenged to cook up some wonderful and unique foods. Each link-up is fun and new. I love seeing the assortment of goodies that the group comes up with. This month was especially difficult. We were tasked with a Chopped style challenge. Like the popular Food Network show, we were given three ingredients to build our dish around. For the most part, we had free reign, but the dish had to include canned corn, pears and Mike & Ike candies.

I had a very hard time coming up with something for the dish. Creating something that involved all three ingredients was super tough. I had initially planned a tofu dish that included a Korean pear based sauce. My husband nixed the idea in favor of something fried. He urged me to make a fritter. I don’t really like frying things, but with Chanukah coming up next month, I decided that if this worked out, it would be perfect for Chanukah. It’s traditional to have fried foods to recognize the miracle of the oil in the ancient temple.

He suggested some sort of latke, but as I brainstormed a bit, I settled on a fritter. I know, not that far off. But there is a difference. I scribbled a slew of ideas on paper. Once I had the house to myself though, I got to work. I settled on a corn and cheese fritter when I saw a brick of pepper jack cheese sitting in the fridge. I  quickly picked up a carton of buttermilk at Trader Joe’s and worked out a quick fritter recipe.  The fritters did not disappoint!

I mixed up the canned corn with the cheese, some chopped onion, spices, buttermilk, eggs, flour and baking powder.


I scooped them up and fried them in a couple of inches of hot oil.


I then drained the fritters on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath.


Incorporating the Asian pears and the Mike & Ike candies proved more challenging. I wanted a pear chutney to dip the fritters in to. I peeled and chopped up the asian pears and began cooking them down with some ginger and water. I also added the Mike & Ike candies to let them get infused with the candy flavor. When tasting the sauce, it was definitely too sweet. I knew that it needed something savory along with some heat.


I added some chopped jalapeño, onion and vinegar and cooked it a bit more. Once everything was softened, I pureed the mixture with my immersion blender.

While the pear and Mike & Ike salsa isn’t perfect, it’s getting there. I call it a work a progress. To be honest, I will leave the candies out the next time I set out to make this dish. It was definitely fun to try my hand at this though.

The fritters have gone on the short list though and will definitely be made next month for Chanukah. The crunch and light outside and the creamy cheese filling. One word. Amazing! Make them now!




Disclaimer: The pear salsa was made as part of the chopped style challenge. I highly recommend you make the fritters. The fritters are amazing.  I’m not quite sold on pear salsa with mike & ike candies. I do recommend a pear salsa without the candy!


Corn & Cheese Fritters with Pear Salsa
Recipe type: appetizer, snack, starter
Corn & Cheese Fritters
  • 1 can whole kernel white corn, drained
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • oil for frying

Mike & Ike infused Pear Salsa
  • 2 asian pears, peeled and cubed
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • ½ jalapeno, minced
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • ½ cup Mike & Ike candies (I used two of the fun size boxes) - optional
Corn and Cheese Fritters
  1. Mix all of the fritter ingredients, except for the vegetable oil, in a mixing bowl.
  2. Heat up about 2 inches of oil to 350 in a heavy bottomed pan or pot.
  3. Scoop a couple of tablespoons of fritter batter. I used an ice cream scoop. Drop in the hot oil and fry about a minute or two per side. Flip the fritter when browned.
  4. Transfer fritter to a cooling rack placed over paper towels to drain and cool
For the pear salsa
  1. Peel and chop up the pears
  2. Place in a saucepan with the water, ginger and the mike and candies.
  3. Add in the onion, jalapeno, vinegar and spices.
  4. Allow mixture to soften.
  5. Once softened, blend with an immersion blender.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.


Tofu, Cauliflower & Greens with Soba Noodles and Miso Tahini Sauce

Soba Noodles in Miso Tahini Sauce

I’ve had a jar of tahini sitting in my pantry for too long. I really should use it more often. My intention when I bought it was to use it in salad dressings and similar sauces, but I just haven’t reached for it until now. I actually never intended to use it in this dish, but it just happened, and I’m glad it did.

I got a couple of bunches of broccoli rabe greens in my CSA and I wanted to include it in dinner. I also had a head of cauliflower begging to be used. Both of these veggies tend to get used as side dishes. I wanted to include both in my main course. So I came up with this soba noodle dish. I love cooking with soba noodles. I buy a gluten free version and they cook up so fast and taste excellent.


Tofu, Cauliflower & Greens with Soba Noodles and Miso Tahini Sauce
Recipe type: vegan, dinner, gluten free
  • Soba Noodles
  • 1 pound of extra-firm tofu, cubed and drained
  • 1 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp. ginger, chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed and trimmed
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe greens (could also use spinach or swiss chard), washed and chopped
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
Miso Tahini Sauce
  • 3 tbsp. tahini
  • 2 tbsp. white miso
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. ginger, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  1. Boil some salted water in a pot and cook the soba according to the directions on the package. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400.
  3. Mix the tamari and the sesame oil. Mix in to the cubed tofu. Place the tofu on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes.
  4. Heat up the coconut oil in a large pan. Add in the sesame oil.
  5. Saute the onion, garlic, ginger and shallots for a few minutes to soften.
  6. Break up the cauliflower and add to the pan. Cook for about 8-10 minutes. Let the cauliflower brown a bit.
  7. One the cauliflower is softer, but still has some bite to it, turn the heat down lower add in the chopped greens.
  8. Add in the red pepper flakes, salt and ground pepper.
  9. In a separate bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together.
  10. To serve, layer the soba noodles then the cauliflower mixture. Then pour the sauce over both. You can garnish with scallions, roasted sesame seeds and additional red pepper flakes if you like.
  11. Enjoy!

Soba Noodles in Miso Tahini Sauce

Creamy Vegan Dill Salad Dressing


With my bounty of amazing salad greens from my CSA, I’ve been making salads most nights for the next day’s lunch. The other night, I had run out of vinaigrette, and was trying to decide what kind of dressing to make next.

I had just received a a huge amount of dill in that week’s veggie share. I was still wondering what I should do with it. It then occurred to me to use a small amount of it in to a salad dressing. I remember having a great creamy dill dressing. I wanted to recreate it in some way, but I didn’t want it to be the same gloopy dressing. I just wanted some of that flavor.

I’ve noticed that many creamy salad dressings tend to include either a sour cream or buttermilk on the dairy side. On the non-dairy side, I am always seeing mayonaisse in dressings. I didn’t want either of those things.

I wanted something vegan.

I thought about the cashew sauce I made for pasta this winter. The cashew cream brought so much creaminess to the dish. I wondered if I could do something similar with a salad dressing.

I quickly grabbed some cashews out of the freezer and began soaking. I let them soak for about an hour and prepped the other ingredients.

After about an hour, I drained the cashews and placed in my Cuisinart Food Processor along with some shallots, garlic, dill, salt, pepper and water.  With the machine running, I then slowly added some olive oil to the mix.  This dressing would also work well in a high-powered blender.

I transferred the dressing to a jar. Of course I tried a bit before placing in the fridge to chill for the next day. Delicious! I am definitely going to use cashews more often to add creaminess to dressings!


Creamy Vegan Dill Salad Dressing
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Serves: 6-8
  • ½ cup cashews
  • water for soaking
  • ½ cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1 shallot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • additional salt and pepper to taste
  1. Soak the cashews in water to cover for at least an hour.
  2. Drain and rinse the cashews.
  3. Place all of the ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender or food processor.
  4. Process the dressing. Slowly add in the olive oil with the processor or blender going.
  5. Transfer the dressing to a bottle.
  6. Store in refrigerator.
  7. Enjoy!


Product Review: Saffron Road Simmer Sauces

I’m so happy that Passover is over. I had a wonderful holiday, but the long week of holidays left me exhausted. I didn’t really want to look at food. While some people turn to pizza or pasta for their first bite of leavened breads, my first must-have is always some warm Basmati rice. I rarely crave bread or pasta. Rice is something I could eat any day.

When I came upon the Saffron Road simmer sauces at Whole Foods, I was very excited to see that they were kosher certified. I love these kinds of flavorful sauces and usually have to make them from scratch. The fact there there were these packets of sauces and they happened to be kosher, opened a world of dinner possibilities for me. These sauce packets are flavorful and perfect for a busy weeknight.
Saffron Road recently sent me a package with all four varieties of the Simmer Sauces to try. That was a happy mail day! I had to try one of the flavors right away!
lemongrass-basil2I decided to go with the Lemongrass Basil option first. I love Thai curries. Because these sauces are dairy or certified as made on dairy equipment, these could only be prepared with vegetarian proteins in my kosher home. If you don’t keep kosher though, the options are endless. The Lemongrass Basil would be perfect with seafood or chicken. I prepared this dish with tofu and vegetables. The directions were easy to follow and dinner was perfect. It was ready to go in less than 10 minutes! How awesome is that! The Lemongrass Basil sauce is so flavorful and seeped in to the veggies and tofu very well.
For another dinner I prepared the Moroccan Tagine sauce. I added the sauce to a mixture of vegetables and chickpeas and then served over couscous. Again, I was surprised by the level of flavor in this dish! I didn’t expect a shelf stable sauce to pack that much flavor.


Last, I tried the Tikka Masala sauce packet. I sauteed some veggies and tofu with onion and garlic. When the veggies were ready, I poured in the sauce. I had rice ready to go. Dinner took around 10 minutes to prepare. The veggies and tofu were great. The Tikka Masala has a nice heat level to it, with a bit of underlying sweetness.

All in all, these sauce packets are perfect for a busy night. If they had been certified as kosher pareve, I would have added them to some chicken, and would have expected similarly tasty results.  These Saffron Road sauces are all natural and packed with flavor. I will definitely pick them up again. I am looking forward to seeing what else they have to offer.

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Wet Burritos

I get so much of my food inspiration from social media these days. Everyone’s lunch or dinner gets posted to Facebook  twitter or Pinterest at any given moment. The photos are what get me motivated to cook and create new concoctions in my kitchen.

I have a growing list of friends from Michigan – either having grown up there or went to college there. At any given moment, a photo shows up in my Facebook feed of something that resembles an enchilada, but is really something so much more. It’s the Wet Burrito. It’s purely a Michigan concept. I can’t decide if it’s an upgraded or downgraded burrito. It’s not authentic anything, or perhaps it’s authentic Michigander food. Whatever it is, the spiced red gravy that tops the burrito is pure brilliance on a plate. And it’s easy to make.

Vegetarian Wet Burritos
1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small zucchinni, chopped
1/2 package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 can of black beans, drained
1/4 cup vegetable broth
1.5 cups cooked brown rice
Cheddar/Monterrey Jack Cheese Blend
4 large flour tortillas
Wet Burrito Sauce:
1 can of Ro-Tel or chopped tomatoes with jalapenos
1/2 cup of plain tomato sauce
1.5 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (Use a fish-free version)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 350.
Heat up the oil in a large saute pan. Saute the onions for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spices and the chopped garlic.
Add in the zucchini and the sliced mushrooms and cook for a few minutes.
Add in the black beans to one side of the pan and let them heat up. Mash up the beans a bit and stir in the vegetable broth.
Remove the pan from the flame and set aside.
In a small sauce pan, mix up all of the sauce ingredients. Heat on medium low for a few minutes. Puree with a stick blender.
Assemble the burritos.
Layer some rice then bean/veggie mixture then some cheese on top of a tortillas. Fold up in to a burrito. Set seam side down in a baking dish.
Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
Wet Burritos
Spoon the burrito sauce over the burritos.
Sprinkle over some cheese.
Bake in oven for about 15 minutes. If you have extra sauce, you can spoon more over the burrito as you serve.

P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway to win a free box of Tribes-a-Dozen Voila! Hallah! Enter here!

Spinach and Walnut Pesto

Some of you may already know about my love for pesto. Those of you that know me will also know that not everyone in my life shares this love of pesto. So I keep trying to come up with ways to change up the pesto in hopes that J might become a pesto convert. The good thing is that he is willing to try anything.

While watching Lidia Bastianich the other night, I came across her making some spinach pesto. Looked so good! I decided to give it a whirl.

I decided to wing it as far as a recipe goes. Taste as you go along. Measurements below are estimates.

Spinach and Walnut Pesto
Inspired by Lidia Bastianich


1 bag of washed spinach leaves (standard Trader Joe’s size)
2 cups washed basil leaves (loosely packed)
5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of chopped toasted walnuts
Olive Oil
Salt to taste

Place the various leaves in the food processor. Turn it on.

Add the garlic while it’s going.

Add in the walnuts.  Chop Chop

Slowly add in the olive oil. Let it get to the consistence you like.

Taste it a bit. Add some salt. Just a couple of teaspoons.

I like to make a lot and then freeze it for future meals.

Enjoy it over anything you like. We had it with some pasta. Delish!

Pasta with Smoked Salmon in a Light Cream Sauce

Does one have to like lox to be Jewish? I like sable. Isn’t that enough? When I was a kid, I was a picky eater as far as my family goes. My parents cooked for a pretty varied palate. My palate has thankfully expanded, but I still don’t like lox. The smell, the texture, and the taste all bother me. When J wants a agel with lox – he knows enough to eat it at the bagel store or while I am at the gym. Both of my kids like it enough. J loves it. When I head back to the midwest for a family visit – I have to bring back smelly packages to my parents. You can’t get the good east coast stuff in Minnesota. It’s a rough life, you know?

J went and picked up a small package of smoked salmon at TJ’s one Sunday morning. It was most definitely intended to be a special breakfast treat for him. Instead, I decided to play with it. Turn it in to some semblance of dinner. Can’t remember the restaurant, but J used to love this one place that served the pasta with a cream sauce and smoked salmon. I decided to surprise him with a nice dinner treat.

Pasta with Smoked Salmon in a Light Cream Sauce

1/2 a box of thin spaghetti
olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
handful of cremini mushrooms, chopped
zest from half of a lemon
pepper, freshly ground
juice from half of a lemon

1/4 cup half and half

4 oz. smoked salmon, chopped
parmesean cheese
frozen peas  – a handful or two
2 tbsp. dill, chopped

Cook the pasta until al dente. Do not overcook.  Set it aside.

In a large pan, heat up some olive oil and butter.  Toss in the onions and garlic. Cook it a bit. 

Add the mushrooms. Saute a few minutes.  Now add the cream and the lemon zest and juice. Add some salt and pepper. I would also recommend some red pepper flakes at this points.

Throw in the dill and the peas.  When you are almost ready to serve, toss in the chopped smoked salmon. You don’t want to over cook that. Now toss in the pasta.  Mix it up a bit. Shred in some parmesean cheese.  Dinner is ready! Enjoy!

Herbed Lemon Tofu

I have made my life easier by subscribing to RSS Feeds. Google makes it even simpler with their Google Reader. It puts all my favorite blogs in one place. No drawbacks, but some days, I can just sit and drool at the screen as I page through some of the food blogs that are sprinkled in. For most of my weekday recipes, I stalk many of the vegan and vegetarian blogs for ideas. I recently came across this tasty looking Herbed Lemon Tofu on the VegCooking Blog. It looked perfect for a simple Monday night dinner. It came out tasty. Even J loved it, and J is often pretty skeptical when it comes to tofu dinners. I served the tofu with some steamed asparagus with a lemon mustard sauce along with some basmati rice. Everything tastes better with a bit of basmati.

Herbed Lemon Tofu – (from VegCooking Blog)


1 package extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tsp. chopped thyme
salt and pepper, to taste
I also added a couple teaspoons or garlic paste

Preheat the oven to 475°F.

Wrap the block of tofu in paper towels and press for 10 minutes by adding weight on top. Remove the paper towels and cut the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick pieces.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.

Add the tofu to a casserole or baking dish in a single layer, then cover with the liquid mixture, turning once to coat.

Bake the tofu for 30 to 40 minutes, or until browned, and turn once halfway through baking.


Gnocchi with Basil Cream Sauce

I came across some gnocchi the other day, and I decided that I must have them…I just needed to make them for a dinner. I have eaten gnocchi maybe twice in my life. When made the right way, it is really good. When made wrong, it can me a heavy, lumpy, pasty mess. Gnocchi are essentially potato/wheat dumplings. They are a heavy meal, so you don’t need much to fill you up. I am determined to make my own one day. I fondly remember one Saturday afternoon with my dad in Minneapolis, watching Lidia Bastianich and her family making gnocchi. They make it look so simple. Lovely Lidia had her miniscule grandchildren working hard on the gnocchi. I wonder if I can get that sort of child labor into my kitchen. They can even pronounce gnocchi properly!

Anyhow, I decided to make the gnocchi with a basil cream sauce. I chose the basil cream sauce mainly because I scored some beautiful fresh basil at the store when I was picking up the gnocchi. The spouse is not as fond as pesto as I am…so basil cream sauce is some sort of middle ground. One day I will share the great pesto story.

Basil Cream Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/4 cup grated parmesean
1/2 cup baby peas
1/3 cup pesto (I whipped some up in the food processor for this, you could use store-bought)

In a sauce pan, melt the butter. Add in the olive oil. Add in the garlic and onion and saute a few minutes. Add in some salt and pepper. Stir. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the milk and cream. Keep whisking. Add in the parmsesean. Do not stop whisking! Add in the pesto and the peas. Stir, stir, stir. Turn the heat to low. Let’s move on to the dumplings.

Gnocchi cooks up very quick. Do not cook until you are ready to serve. For a pound of gnocchi, heat up 4 quarts of salted water until boiling. Throw the gnocchi into the hot water. When the gnocchi floats to the top, it means they are done. Drain the gnocchi.

Plate up your dinner. Garnish with some pine nuts, basil leaves, and a good healthy dose of parmesean cheese.

1 2