Coconut Quinoa Bowl



This recipe is a great way to use leftover cooked quinoa, but it is so delicious, you’ll be cooking up extra quinoa just so you can make this. While the nutty flavor of the quinoa is particularly nice in this combo, rice, bulgur or couscous would make good substitutes. For a gluten- (and carb-) free alternative, you could make cauliflower rice by grating it and steaming or sauteing it just enough to get rid of the raw flavor. Leftovers? Just slice up a fresh avocado and add some yogurt. This was such a hit at Brookside Gardens last fall, we thought we’d roll it out again for US Botanic Garden this month. This recipe was adapted from 101 Cookbooks.

2 C cooked quinoa
1 lemon
1 C yogurtkale
¼ t salt
2 t olive oil
½ C sliced or slivered almonds
½ C unsweetened shredded coconut
2 garlic cloves, peeled and mashed into a paste with ¼ t sea salt
4 C stemmed & shredded kale, from about 10 large leaves
1 avocado, pitted and sliced

Warm the quinoa. Grate the peel of the lemon and squeeze out the juice; reserve each separately. Stir salt into yogurt, drizzle with olive oil. Set aside. In a skillet over medium heat gently toast almonds; add coconut flakes and mashed garlic to the skillet. Remove skillet from heat and continue stirring until coconut is toasted and garlic is fully incorporated into nut mixture. Transfer skillet contents to a small bowl and reserve. Return skillet to heat; add a splash of olive oil, stir in the kale with a pinch of salt, and cook for just a minute, until the kale collapses a bit, and brightens. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over it, and transfer out of the pan immediately.

To serve, combine half of the almond coconut mixture with the quinoa in a large bowl. You can serve this individually, or family-style. Top the quinoa with the kale, plenty of the salted yogurt, and top with the remaining almond mixture, avocado, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Garnish with grated lemon.

Serves 4.

Asian Japonica Rice Salad





If you haven’t experimented with red or black rice, this is the perfect recipe to do so. For your convenience we’ve included links to some of the harder-to-find ingredients, but if you are a regular at Whole Foods, you should be able to find everything in this recipe at that store. Harris Teeter carries black Japonica. Frozen shelled edamame are widely available but we linked it to Trader Joe’s because that’s the best deal. If you are going gluten-free, make sure the soy sauce you use is gluten-free. This recipe was demoed by Danielle at US Botanic Garden in October 2015. Adapted from “One Bite at a Time” by Rebecca Katz.

2 t salt
2 C black Japonica rice or Bhutanese red rice
1 cup shelled edamame (soybeans) beans, frozen is fine
1 C sliced celery
1 C peeled shredded carrot
½ C chopped scallion
1 C toasted cashew pieces
2 T cilantro, roughly chopped
½ C basil, julienned
2 t fresh squeezed lime juice
1 T toasted sesame seeds


2 T brown rice or regular rice vinegar
3 T tamari or soy sauce
1 T minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 t cayenne
1/4 C sesame oil
3 T lime juice
1/8 t salt
½ t maple syrup

In a medium pot, bring 4 cups lightly salted water to a boil and add the rice. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook 40-45 minutes until tender. Drain rice and spread it out on a sheet pan to dry and fluff. In another pot, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add a pinch of salt and the edamame. Bring back to a boil and cook one minute. Drain and rinse under cold water; reserve. In a bowl, combine the rice, celery, carrot and scallions. Combine dressing ingredients, whisking well in a small bowl or mini food processor. Toss into rice mixture. Fold in reserved edamame, cashews and herbs. Serves 6-8.

Vanilla-Infused Sautéed Apples with Cream



This is Danielle’s recipe for Saturday’s festival at USBG. We’ll be there from 11 am-3 pm making dishes that feature vanilla, which grows on one of the Botanic Garden’s orchids. You can go visit the orchid too. The recipe below will also be featured. This Saturday Sept. 26, 100 Maryland Ave SW DC.  Should be a fun event. Be there or be square (or both, for some of us). 

2 seasonal apples of your choice, peeled, cored and sliced
2 T unsalted butter
¼ C natural cane sugar
1/8 t cinnamon
½ vanilla bean
¼ C apple cider or brandy or rum
½ C heavy cream

In a large sauté pan, melt the butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Slit the vanilla bean down the middle vertically and gently scrape out the tiny seeds inside the bean. Add the seeds and the bean to the butter and sugar. Allow the sugar to melt slightly, then add the apple slices. Arrange the slices cut side down and don’t overcrowd. Once lightly browned on one side, flip them to brown the other side. Move the browned slices to the side of the pan to make room for additional slices, if necessary. Continue sautéing the slices until all the apples are caramelized. Increase the heat and add the apple cider or brandy. Shake the pan to allow the liquid to absorb into the apples and reduce by about half. Add the heavy cream, stir gently and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Makes a great topping for icecream! Serves 2-4.

Vanilla-Poached Pears with Mascarpone Cream




We’re headed to US Botanic Garden this weekend for their Junior Botanist Festival Saturday Sept. 26, 10 am-3 pm. Come join us for demos using vanilla beans. The Garden has a vanilla orchid as part of its collection, so you can see how the bean grows in real time. Vanilla-poached pears are a fall fave. Adrienne will be demoing this. Danielle is working up an apple-vanilla concoction and we’ll post it as soon as it’s perfected. Come taste something delicious Saturday at 100 Maryland Ave SW. The Pope will be long gone.

Poached Pears:

4 firm Bosc or Comice pears (do not use ripe or soft pears)
2 C red wine
1 vanilla bean, whole or 1 t vanilla extract for poaching liquid
2 cinnamon sticks
1 C sugar
2 T cold butter, divided in half

Peel and cut the pear in half lengthwise. Use a melon baller or spoon to scoop out the seeds and core. You are creating a small “bowl” in the pear half that will later hold the marscapone cream. In a deep saucepan, bring wine and 2 C water to a simmer. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and add to wine and water mixture. Add cinnamon and sugar. Add pears to liquid and simmer for 20 to 35 minutes or until tender but not too soft. Remove pears from liquid and reserve. (If making ahead, hold pears in poaching liquid, removing the cinnamon, vanilla and bay leaf. Cool the liquid and pears down to below 70F, then store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove pears from liquid and bring to room temperature, then proceed with the recipe.)

Remove the cinnamon, bay leaves and vanilla bean from the wine mixture. Continue to simmer and reduce the liquid until thick and syrupy, about five minutes. Be sure not to over-reduce or burn the syrup. Whisk in butter, quickly, one tablespoon at a time. Cover sauce and remove from heat; hold until ready to serve.

Mascarpone Cream:

1 (8-ounce) containers of Mascarpone cheese (may substitute cream cheese)
1/4 t vanilla extract
1/4 C heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Combine in a small bowl the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, pinch cinnamon, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth.

To serve, place a small dollop of the Mascarpone Cream on a dessert dish. Place a poached pear half on top of the dollop, which keeps it from sliding. Fill the “bowl” of the pear with mascarpone cream. Spoon or drizzle pear with red wine syrup. Repeat with remaining pears.

Many thanks to Rachel Reuben, for original recipe.


Tahini Sauce with Nut Pesto and Pomegranate Seeds





This combination has it all – tart lemon, crunchy nuts, sweet pomegranate seeds. It’s also chock full of nutrition and it’s versatile. Great over grilled or sauteed fish, grilled chicken or roasted or grilled lamb and even vegetables.  You could serve it as a dip or toss a salad with it.  Pomegranate molasses is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and can be found in specialty food stores or on line.  There’s nothing quite like it, but you can substitute balsamic syrup, made by boiling down balsamic vinegar until it becomes slightly syrupy.  We adapted this from Fine Cooking and demoed it last January. We’re rolling it out again for our September 2015 Mediterranean demos at the US Botanic Garden in honor of its new exhibit from the region. This time, Danielle had the pleasure of making this dish, served on pita bread.

Tahini sauce

6 T tahini (sesame seed paste, available in supermarket health food section)
4 t fresh lemon juice
1 small clove garlic, crushed
½ t ground cumin
Kosher salt

For the nut-herb topping

¼ C toasted, finely chopped almonds
¼ C toasted, finely chopped walnuts
¼ C finely chopped fresh cilantro
3 T. finely chopped red onion
2½  T extra-virgin olive oil
2 T finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 T finely chopped fresh mint
1/8 t crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


¼ C pomegranate arils (see note, above)
2 t pomegranate molasses

Make the tahini sauce

Process the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, ¼ t salt, and 5 T water in a food processor until smooth, about 1 minute.

Make the nut-herb topping

In a medium bowl, gently toss the almonds, walnuts, cilantro, onion, olive oil, parsley, mint, and pepper flakes with ¼t salt and 1/8 t pepper until well combined. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.

Serve the tahini sauce sprinkled with the nut-herb mixture and topped with pomegranate seeds. Drizzle pomegranate molasses.

Pan-Fried Halloumi with Fennel, Olive & Mint




Halloumi is the cheese you can cook. It doesn’t melt, it just gets a nice crust on the outside when you pan-fry or grill it. Salty, chewy and intense, the cheese is a favorite in Cyprus, its country of origin, where in the summer it is commonly served grilled with tomatoes or watermelon. Halloumi is becoming increasingly popular around the globe and when you try this recipe you’ll understand its following. High in protein — the cheese is typically made from goat or sheep’s milk — it’s a great substitute for meat in vegetarian diets. This treatment makes it a good choice as a first course. Served as a side with a rice pilaf or lentil stew, you have a lovely filling meal you won’t soon forget.  The remaining half of the fennel bulb can be added to a roast vegetable to accompany this or your next meal. This recipe was adapted by Adrienne, who demoed it at USBG September 16 2015.

3 T olive oil
½ medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 1-1/4 cups)
½ medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice (about 3/4 cup)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 pitted Kalamata olives, slivered (about 1/3 cup)
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1 t finely grated lemon zest
1/3 C minced fresh mint
1 8-oz. package halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4- to 3/8-inch-thick slices

Heat 2 T olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the fennel and onions, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften (but don’t let them brown), 2-3 min. Reduce the heat to medium low, add 1/4 t salt and 1/4 t pepper and continue to cook until the vegetables soften completely, another 2-3 min. Turn the heat to low and stir in the olives, lemon zest, mint. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

Wipe out skillet and add remaining olive oil; heat on medium high until hot, about 1 minute. Working in batches if necessary to avoid crowding the pan, cook the halloumi until golden in spots, about 2 min. Flip and cook until the second side of each slice is golden, about 2 min. more. Reduce the heat as needed if the halloumi is browning too fast.

Shingle the halloumi on a serving platter. Stir the vegetables and spoon over the halloumi, drizzle with hot olive oil from skillet. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad

lentilAdapted from Rebecca Katz, The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen

1 C dried lentils
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced small
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced small
¼ C pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
3 T fresh mint, chopped
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 T brown rice vinegar
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 t lemon zest
1 t cumin
½ t sea salt
¼ C olive oil

Begin by cooking the lentils: rinse them well, put them in a saucepan and cover in water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat, and simmer until tender, 20-25 minutes. While the lentils are simmering, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Drain the lentils thoroughly and toss with the dressing, then refrigerate for 20 minutes to cool and allow the dressing to soak into the lentils.

Chop the pepper, cucumber, olives, mint and parsley and add to the lentils. Adjust for salt and pepper. Sprinkle with feta cheese and serve. Store in an airtight container 3-5 days. Serves 6.

(Note: cooked lentils can be found in the produce section of many grocery stores. If you choose to use them, warm them in the microwave before tossing with the dressing. The warm lentils will absorb the dressing better and soften the lentils. You will need 2 cups cooked.)