Confetti Grain and Bean Salad

2 C cooked grain of your choice – quinoa, bulgur, barley, couscous, farro, wheatberry, rice

1 (14.5oz) can bean of your choice, drained

OR 1½ C cooked beans from dry – white beans, garbanzo, kidney, azuki, black beans

2 T olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 T minced fresh ginger – or ¼ t dried ginger

1 small carrot, diced (about ½ cup)

1 celery stalk, diced (about ½ cup)

1 C sweet bell pepper (red, yellow, orange), diced – can substitute jar roasted red peppers

½ C peas, frozen

¼ C red onion, minced or 3 scallions, sliced thin

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

¼ C toasted nuts – almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Cook your choice of grain according to package directions.

Prepare the vegetable medley: Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan, add the ginger and and garlic, stir until it is aromatic but not colored, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and sauté another minute; stir in the remaining vegetables and sauté just long enough for the vegetables to heat through, about three minutes. Remove from heat, add the cooked grain, the beans, toasted nuts, and season with lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.


Soupe au Pistou

This is France’s spring/summer equivalent of Italian Minestrone. Since the list of vegetables is long, just use what you have on hand, including a different bean and/or pasta. As summer vegetables become more prolific, you can use a variety of beans and squash.

1 small onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Vegetables – pick and choose based upon your availability:

2 leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise, washed well, and drained

2 small celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium carrot, cut into small dice


1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 small tomatoes, chopped or ½ can (15oz) diced tomatoes

3 small red bliss potatoes, cut into ½-inch pieces

1 C fresh or frozen green beans, cut into ½ inch piece

1 C fresh or frozen peas

1 can (15oz.) small white beans, such as navy, rinsed and drained

5-6 C vegetable or chicken broth

1 Parmesan rind, about 1 by 3 inches
 (-optional)

¼ cup small pasta, such as elbow, small shells, ditalini or stars (-optional)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Pistou – if fresh herbs are not available, top the soup with a bit of fresh lemon zest

1 C lightly packed basil leaves (can substitute parsley or cilantro)

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 C grated parmesan

¼ C olive oil

Soup: Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, leeks and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and golden in spots, about 10 minutes. 


Stir in zucchini, squash, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, broth, and Parmesan rind. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans and simmer, covered, just until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Remove rind. 


Pistou: Pulse together the basil, garlic, Parmesan, and oil in a food processor to a loose paste. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve each bowl with a small dollop of pistou. Serves 6-8.


It’s Thyme for Marinated Mushrooms

4oz. white button or cremini mushrooms, brushed clean and sliced thin

Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 T)

¼ C extra virgin olive oil

1 T fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 t dried)

1 clove garlic, minced

½ t sea salt – more to taste

Fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Toss sliced mushrooms with remaining ingredients. Marinate 1 hour at room temperature or up to 3 hours in the refrigerator. The mushrooms can also be quartered, which is nice if you are using them for an appetizer platter (poke with a toothpick); if you choose to quarter the mushrooms, marinating time may be slightly longer. Serve chilled. Serves 2-3.

Note: mushrooms will be fine the following day although the texture will be softer, well-marinated and release a lot of juice.


Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Feta Cheese, Spinach and Lemon

½ lb. orzo, cooked

1 lb. asparagus

1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach

2 T extra virgin olive oil

½ cup red onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Zest of 1 small lemon

½ cup toasted nuts – chopped pistachios, pine nuts, slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds

1 cup feta, crumbled

Pinch of nutmeg

Pinch of cinnamon

Salt to taste

Cook the orzo according to the directions on the box, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Prep the asparagus: trim each one by snapping them at the end of their stem, which will separate the tough part from the tender. Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain them under cold running water. Cut them into 1½ inch pieces and set add them to the orzo.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes, just until aromatic. Add the spinach and a pinch of salt and cook until wilted and tender, about 1 minute. Add mixture to the orzo; add the feta, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt to taste.

Heat a small-medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the nuts and toast until they begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Watch them carefully so they do not burn. Sprinkle on top of the orzo and serve. Serves 5.


Asparagus Spinach Pesto

1 bunch asparagus spears (about 1 lb), trimmed of tough ends and halved crosswise

3 handfuls baby spinach leaves

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 C grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

1 C pine nuts

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for topping

Juice of ½  lemon

½ t fine-grain sea salt

pinch red pepper or to taste

8 ounces of dried pasta or 12 ounces fresh -linguini, fettuccini

 

Bring 2 pots of water to a rolling boil, one large for the pasta and one medium sized for the asparagus.  While the water is heating, put the pine nuts in a single layer in a large skillet. Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside. You will use 3/4 cup of the pine nuts for the pesto paste and 1/4 cup to mix in whole.  Salt the asparagus water and drop the spears into the pan. Cook for only 2 or 3 minutes, until the spears are bright green and barely tender. Drain under cool water to stop the cooking. Cut the tips off, and set aside, several of the asparagus (diagonal cut about an inch from the end) to use for garnish.  Add the asparagus, spinach, garlic, Parmesan, and 3/4 cup of the pine nuts to a food processor.  Purée and, with the motor running, drizzle in the 1/4 cup of olive oil until a paste forms. If too thick, thin it with a bit of the pasta water. Add the lemon juice and salt, taste and adjust seasoning.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet. Remember, you’ll need more time for dried pasta and less for fresh. Drain and toss immediately with 1 cup of the asparagus pesto. Serve sprinkled with the remaining 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, a dusting of Parmesan, and a light drizzle of olive oil. Serves 4 to 6.