buckwheat soba noodles with dandelion greens pesto

over the past few weeks i’ve been experimenting more with buckwheat flour, baking with it alone, and also combining it with other flours.  i’ve come to appreciate its curious taste and its grainy texture.   therefore, when i went to pick out soba noodles i naturally went with the buckwheat ones.  i debated whether to prepare them in a more traditional way and pair them ingredients i usually see: tofu, scallions, sesame seeds and oil, tamari, or in a yummy broth.  i had my menu all planned out with a lot of the ingredients noted above.  but i also wanted to see how the noodles would hold up in a traditionally italian dish, using a pesto sauce.  i had been making note of the greens at my local farmer’s market and had been seeing a lot dandelion greens.  as we all know, there is an abundance of dandelion flowers in the spring (at least here in new york), so i thought it only natural to use what was in season and make dandelion greens pesto.

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*i left cheese out of my pesto.  however, pecorino-romano, or reggiano will work with the dandelion greens.

// dandelion greens pesto

1 package buchwheat soba noodles

1 bundle dandelion greens, stems removed and blanched

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

1/3 cup unsalted raw pistachios, toasted (plus more for garnishing)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

sea salt + pepper

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// for the salad

2-3 cups arugula

1 cup pea shoots

1/2 watercress (i had the pea shoots + watercress on hand, but you can use whatever greens you want, or just use more arugula)

1 tablespoon unsalted raw pistachios, toasted (likewise, you can also use roasted and salted pistachios)

2 tablespoons pesto vinaigrette

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in a medium saucepan bring about 4 cups of water to a boil.  while water is coming to a boil, prepare an ice bath.  when water comes to a boil add the greens.  blanch for 20 seconds.  transfer the greens to the ice bath, let soak for a couple seconds.  remove the greens while squeezing out water from them.  let them dry on a kitchen towel

while the greens are drying, toast the pistachio nuts ( if you’re using dry roasted pistachios, there is no need to toast them).  let them cool

in a food processor or blender, combine the dandelion greens, chopped garlic, toasted pistachios, olive oil, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, and salt +pepper.  blend, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  you may want to add more olive oil depending on how you prefer your pesto

transfer the pesto to a bowl. cover and let it sit in the refrigerator while you cook the soba noodles.  cook the noodles according to the directions on the package, reserving about a 1/2 cup of the cooking water.  drain the noodles.  transfer to a large bowl.  add about 1/2 the pesto and a 1/4 of the reserved water to the bowl and stir to combine.  add more according to your preference.  season with salt + pepper, and garnish with extra pistachios.  you can leave the dish like this, or you can put it over greens

mix salad greens together in a separate bowl, toss with pistachios and pesto vinaigrette.  add the soba noodles to the salad and enjoy

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cashew ricotta cheese pizza

for all my vegans out there, or lactose intolerant people, this recipe is for you! of course, this is also for people who want to make homemade cheese deriving from nuts. all-in-all, the cheese was pretty good (still not as tasty and amazing as real homemade ricotta cheese).  it stood up to dairy ricotta pretty well on pizza and i’m looking forward to using it in pasta, and with these little guys.  the taste was a bit on the sweet side (much like a cashew nut). i’ve read that nutritional yeast adds more of a cheesy flavor, perhaps next time i’ll try it out.  as far as the pizza goes in this recipe here, you can obviously choose whatever toppings you like.  the onion and zucchini were really tasty and married well with the cheese.  likewise, the fresh chopped garlic tasted awesome with the tomatoes and cheese.  i’m quite confident that whatever toppings you choose it will work well with the cashew ricotta.

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*i don’t tolerate bread that well.  therefore, i use sprouted tortillas when i make pizzas.  i get the  ezekial brand at my local fairway supermarket.  however,  i’ve been told that they’re not that easy to find.  i assume that most whole foods markets carry them, as well as health food stores, or large supermarkets.  but you can just as easily use regular tortillas, or pizza dough.

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adapted from The Simple Veganista

makes about 2 cups of cheese

• ingredients:

1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves

1 teaspoon chopped oregano

1 teaspoon chopped parsley

sea salt and pepper to taste

• directions:

soak the cashews for at least 2 hours, make sure the water covers the cashews

drain cashews and place all the ingredients in a blender (you can also use a food processor), blend scraping down the sides.  adjust seasoning

chill in the refrigerator.  the cheese will stiffen up a bit and will take on the flavor a bit more

// pizza

makes 4 mini pizzas

pre heat oven to 375°

prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper

• for the zucchini pizza:

2 mini sprouted tortillas

4 tablespoons cashew ricotta cheese

1/4 of a red onion

1 small zucchini

drizzle of basil oil

• for the tomato + garlic pizza:

2 sprouted tortillas

4 tablespoons cashew ricotta cheese

2 vine tomatoes, sliced thinly

one clove (or 2) of garlic, chopped

• directions:

coat both sides of the tortillas with a thin layer of olive oil.  place tortillas in oven for about 3 minutes (until the edges are slightly crispy).  remove from oven and top your pizzas.

bake pizza for 6-8 minutes, until slightly browned

slice and enjoy

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quinoa + black rice bowl

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you’re probably noticing that the ingredient list for this recipe is really long.  you may be thinking that you don’t have enough time to make it.  but there isn’t that much prep work, and all the sautéing doesn’t take much time at all.  all-in-all you’ll be eating this rice bowl in a little over an hour.  another awesome thing about this dish is that you can change the ingredients around, and still have the flavors marry well with the sauce.

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the original recipe called for brown rice and red quinoa. however, i chose use black rice instead of brown, and regular quinoa instead of red.  i chose black rice because while brown rice is good for you, black rice has a whole load of antioxidants that brown rice doesn’t. plus, i think it looks prettier in the dish.  i chose regular quinoa because it’s all i had in the kitchen.  i also chose to use swiss chard in place of kale.  kale is everywhere this time of the season, i think it’s the only thing that actually grows around here in the winter.  i always try to use ingredients that are in season, but kale and i do not agree, hence, the chard.  additionally, i could see spinach, bok choy, or dandelion, or beet greens as a substitute in this dish.  i also added the toasted sesame seeds – in my humble opinion no salad is ever complete without some toasted nuts or seeds.  plus, i thought they would play off nicely with the ingredients as well as add some crunch and nuttiness.  lastly, i adjusted the sauce a bit.  the recipe called for a 1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice to a 1/4 cup tahini.  after mixing the two i thought it was way too tart, so i cut the quantity of lemon juice in half.  i would taste as you go, and adjust the sauce to your liking.

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adapted from Gail Simmons for Food & Wine Magazine – March 2012

6 servings

:: for the bowl ::

1 cup black rice

1 cup quinoa

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, julienned

3/4 cup enoki, beech, and nameko mushrooms (or shiitake with caps thinly sliced)

1 small zucchini, julienned

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

fine grain sea salt

1 head of broccoli, de-stemmed and cut into small florets

4 large (or 8 small) swiss chard leaves, chopped

1 ripe avocado, sliced into chunks

1/2 cup mung bean sprouts

1 teaspoon toasted black sesame seeds

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:: for the sauce ::

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

2-3 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

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:: directions ::

  • prepare a medium saucepan for the black rice.  prepare rice according to the directions given on the packaging
  • prepare another medium saucepan for the quinoa. prepare quinoa according to the directions given on the packaging
  • in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil on medium.  once the pan is hot add the onion – cook until translucent (about 5-6 minutes)
  • add the carrot and cook for roughly 4 minutes – until they start to soften
  • add the mushrooms, cover and cook until tender – about 4 minutes
  • add the zucchini, season with salt (i used about 3 pinches).  cook 3-5 minutes, until tender
  • transfer to a bowl
  • add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the skillet.  add the broccoli, cover and cook, stirring a few times, over medium heat.  cook for 5 minutes
  • add the swiss chard, cook and stir a few times – about 4 minutes
  • season with salt and stir into the other vegetable mixture

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// for the sauce //

in a small food processor (you can also whisk the ingredients together, i only use the food processor because i like it super smooth) combine the tahini, garlic, olive oil, water, lemon juice, red pepper, and salt.  blend until combined and smooth

  • combine the quinoa and black rice in a large bowl – top with cooked vegetables
  • add the avocado, mung beans, and toasted sesame seeds
  • i wouldn’t recommend adding the tahini sauce all at one, rather, use it for individual portions

:: enjoy ::

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herbed wild rice patties

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these patties are versatile, and can be made using brown rice, lotus rice, red rice, etc.  however, i would stay away from white or sushi rice, i’m not sure they would add any flavor to the dish.  additionally, you do not have to use oat flour.  i simply prefer it.  you can also substitute the grape seed oil for another “high heat” oil.  just to note, if you are using dried herbs you can decrease the amount by 1/2.

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inspired by sprouted kitchen

:: makes 7 patties ::

1/2 cup uncooked wild rice

1/2 cup oat flour

1/2 of a small onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 eggs

fine grain salt and pepper

grape seed oil for cooking

:: herb mixture ::

2 tablespoon parsley (if using dried herbs, reduce to 1 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons thyme

1 1/2 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

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:: directions ::

prepare your rice according to the directions that are given on the packaging.

while the rice is cooking – chop the onion, and mince the garlic.  heat a small skillet on medium heat. once hot (your skillet is hot when a droplet of water sizzles), cover the bottom of the skillet with grape seed oil. sautè the onion for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic.  let it cook stirring every few minutes – about 4-5 minutes.  remove from heat and let cool.

next, prepare the herb mixture. chop the parsley, thyme, and oregano.

once the rice is cooked, let it cool.  combine the cooled rice, the eggs, the onion and garlic, and the herb mixture.  stir in the flour.  mix until the ingredients are combined. toss in the crushed red pepper, the salt and pepper (i used about 3 pinches of salt). stir.

let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes.  in the meantime, heat your pan.  (i used an 8-inch cast iron skillet and cooked the patties in batches of 2.)  once the skillet is hot, add 1 tablespoon of grape seed oil (more if you are using a larger pan). while the oil is heating, form the patties: using a small ramekin (mine was 2 inches), scoop a portion of the mixture in the bottom – pat it down to make it compact.  then,  turn it out onto your skillet, and let it cook 4-6 minutes on each side. ready a plate with a paper towel to sop up any unwanted oil.  repeat with the remaining mixture.

:: enjoy ::

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