Real food for real families

Parents of picky eaters, take heart! I was once the pickiest of eaters. I went through a peanut butter sandwich phase—no crust, hold the jelly, white bread only. 

My parents never would have guessed that I would grow up to become a food blogger and write a cookbook, but that has happened. 

If you’re wondering what to cook up with your farmers market finds, here are a few of my favorite recipes from my new cookbook, “Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body.”

Roasted Strawberry, Basil, and Goat Cheese Crostini

If you haven’t experienced roasted strawberries yet, you’ve been missing out—they’re sweet and jammy, like the inside of a strawberry pie. Roasted strawberries collide with tangy goat cheese and fresh basil to create this simple and sophisticated summertime appetizer. You could also serve these with a big green salad for a light summer meal. Makes about 2 dozen crostini.

Ingredients

4 to 5 ounces goat cheese

1 pound strawberries, hulled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 whole-grain baguette or small loaf of crusty whole-grain bread (about 14 ounces), cut into ½-inch slices

Small handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into little pieces

Freshly ground black pepper

Tip: If you don’t love goat cheese, alternatives include mascarpone, cream cheese, or ricotta.

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with racks in the middle and upper third of the oven. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper for easier cleanup. Set the goat cheese on the counter to soften up a bit.

2. On one baking sheet, toss the strawberries with the honey, then spread the strawberries into a single layer. Bake on the upper rack until the fruit is tender, juicy, and collapsing on itself, 20 to 25 minutes, tossing halfway. Watch the fruit on the edges of the pan, as the honey can burn quickly.

3. Meanwhile, on the remaining baking sheet, brush the olive oil lightly over both sides of each slice of bread. Bake on the middle rack until the toasts are golden on top, 10 to 12 minutes.


4. Once the toasts are cool enough to safely handle, top each one with a smear of goat cheese, followed by a spoonful of roasted strawberries and their juices. Finish off the crostini with a sprinkling of torn basil and black pepper. Crostini are best served immediately.

Outrageous Herbaceous Chickpea Salad

Here’s a simple chickpea salad that I could eat every single day. It’s bursting with fresh Mediterranean flavors. Lemon and garlic take it from tasty to transcendent. This salad packs well, so it’s perfect for potlucks and picnics. It’s also a great lunch option; pile it onto greens and drizzle some extra olive oil and lemon juice on top for a quick and substantial green salad. Makes four side salads.

Ingredients

2 cans (15 oz. each) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked chickpeas

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

1½ cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1 bunch)

½ cup chopped red onion (about ½ small)

½ cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. lemon juice (from 1 to 1½ lemons), or more if needed

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

½ tsp. fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, bell pepper, parsley, onion, celery, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss until combined. Taste and add additional lemon juice, salt or pepper if necessary.

2. Serve immediately, or chill until you’re ready to serve. Leftovers keep well, chilled, for up to four days.

Green Goddess Hummus

Hummus is here to stay, and for good reason—it’s a healthy snack and spread.Most of the big-brand, store-bought hummuses skimp on tahini, which means that they aren’t rich, thick or flavorful enough to do hummus proper justice. This homemade hummus has just the right amount, plus it’s free of preservatives. Serve with veggies or pita chips, or use it as a sandwich spread. Makes 1¾ cups.

Ingredients

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup lemon juice (from 1½ to 2 lemons)

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

½ tsp. fine sea salt

½ cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley (some stems are OK)

¼ cup lightly packed fresh tarragon leaves, basil or cilantro

2 Tbsp. roughly chopped fresh chives or green onions

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas

Chopped fresh herbs (whatever you have left), for garnish

Directions

1. In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt. Process for about 1½ minutes, pausing to scrape down the sides as necessary, until the mixture is well blended.

2. Add the herbs and process for about 1 minute until the mixture is smooth.

3. Add half of the chickpeas and process for 1 minute. Add the remaining chickpeas and process until the hummus is thick and smooth, 1 to 2 minutes more.

4. If your hummus is too thick or hasn’t yet blended into creamy oblivion, run the food processor while drizzling in 1 to 2 Tbsp. of water, until it reaches your desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt, if necessary.

5. Scrape the hummus into a small serving bowl. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top and sprinkle with chopped herbs. Leftover hummus keeps well, chilled, for four to six days.

Lemony Almond-Blueberry Cake

This almond-blueberry cake is lightly sweet. It would be a great treat to serve as dessert, but it’s wholesome enough to pass for breakfast or a mid-afternoon snack. It’s also easy to make and gluten free. Time warning: Cake requires about 1 hour 45 minutes combined baking and cooling time. Makes one loaf cake (about eight slices).

Ingredients

2 cups (8 oz.) plus 1 Tbsp. packed almond meal

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. fine sea salt

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

4 eggs

2/3 cup maple syrup or honey

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated lemon zest (from 2 medium lemons, preferably organic)

1 cup blueberries (6 oz.), fresh or frozenLemon-Maple Glaze

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Generously grease a 9 × 5-inch loaf pan and dust it with almond meal to prevent sticking.

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the almond meal, the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Whisk to blend.

3. Crack the eggs into a medium bowl and beat with a whisk until the yolks and egg whites have blended together. Add the maple syrup, olive oil and lemon zest and whisk to blend. Pour the wet ingredients into the almond meal mixture and stir until there are just a few clumps remaining.

4. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 1 Tbsp. almond meal (this helps prevent the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of the cake). Gently fold the blueberries into the batter.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the cake is deeply golden brown, the center is firm to the touch, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 70-75 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and maple syrup until blended for the glaze. (If you’re using honey and having a hard time blending it into the lemon juice, place the bowl on top of your stove to warm it up while the cake bakes, or warm it briefly in the microwave until you can whisk them together.)

7. Once the cake is out of the oven, place the cake, pan and all, on a cooling rack. While the cake is warm, use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over the top. It should soak right in. Let the cake cool for at least 30 minutes before carefully inverting it onto a serving plate or cutting board. Carefully flip it back over, then use a bread knife to cut it into 1-inch-thick slices.

8. Store any remaining cake in the refrigerator, covered, for up to four days.

- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

How to Address Racism in Kids’ Books and Movies

Talk about the racism with your kids, too.

How to Make a Kid-Friendly Charcuterie Board

It's the modern day Lunchable.

11 Women’s History Month Events for Chicago Families

From exhibits and activities to books!

5 Sweet Maple Syrup Events in Chicagoland

Maple syrup season begins in late February.



- Advertisement -