Tag Archives: broccoli

Recipe: Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad

Anyone up for a summer picnic?

All mothers are working mothers.

~ Author Unknown

Greetings bloggers and friends!

I hope everyone enjoyed the treat that was the weekend potluck – I know I discovered a few fine bloggers and enjoyed working my way through everyone’s delicious posts! In case you missed it, you can still catch the action here to see what it was all about!

Today I am grateful for sunshine and still reveling in what was a gorgeous weekend spent with loved ones.

Our Mother’s Day dinner yesterday consisted of a wonderful picnic dinner set against the backdrop of the beach and the mountains here in Vancouver.

It was superb!

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs…since the payment is pure love.

~ Mildred B. Vermont

Our meal consisted of a simple array of foods: soft buns, cheese & cold cuts for the men (my hubby’s father is visiting us from Europe), chips and homemade dip, as well as potato salad, deviled eggs, watermelon, and today’s recipe for a yummy fresh pasta salad.

Of course, let’s not forget the chilled white wine, a couple of gin and tonics for us moms (the shared favorite summer cocktail between me and the mother-in-law), and we were all set.

Here is a simple, light recipe for what was a super tasty outdoor salad – perfect for any picnic or summer dinner!

The Less:

Less white pasta in your diet means more room for alternate grains. Less mayo-drenched pasta means less calories, fat, and oil. Less packaged store-bought picnic food means less cost for more goodness, and less high calorie pasta dishes means less worrying about eating them.

The More:

More ways to dress salads means more ways out of the mundane. More alternate grain pastas means more depth of flavour and nutrition. More ways to head outside means more time in the sunshine, so you can get picnicking more often 🙂

Picnic Perfect Pasta Salad:

  • (4) cups dry pasta (spelt, kamut, or regular, I used a curly variety)
  • (6) tbsp lemon juice
  • (1/4) cup olive oil
  • (1/4) cup capers
  • (1) cup cubed feta cheese (optional)
  • (1.5-2) cups cooked chickpeas (a 398 ml can will provide the right amount)
  • (3-4) cups chopped broccoli florets, lightly steamed (save the stalks for steaming or grating)
  • (2) tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • (3) cloves fresh garlic, minced finely or pressed
  • a pinch or two of salt & fresh black pepper if desired

Start by putting up your pasta to boil in lots of water. Follow package instructions for your pasta and cook to al dente. Do your very best to avoid overcooking it! It is especially important to not overcook alternative grain pastas as they tend to turn to mush rather quickly if cooked longer than recommended.

Sometimes this is just unavoidable, but hey, we try!

While the pasta cooks combine the olive oil, lemon juice, & capers and add to the bottom of a large mixing bowl.

Chop the broccoli florets into 1-2 inch pieces and put up to steam in a separate pot. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until just turning bright green. It is important not to overcook the broccoli here as if it gets too mushy the lemon juice will turn it yellow and it will be come even more mushy. Once the broccoli is steamed, transfer to a bowl and mix with water and ice to shock it for a couple of minutes (this stops the cooking process). Drain.

Chop and prepare the feta, thyme, and garlic. Drain and rinse the chickpeas (if using canned).

Once the pasta is cooked, drain, and do not rinse. Let the cooked pasta sit for a minute or two in the colander and then add it to the mixing bowl with the lemon and oil while still warm. Mix well to incorporate with a large spoon. The pasta will soak up all the yummy goodness.

Add the chickpeas, broccoli florets, cubed feta, garlic, & thyme to the bowl and mix all well.

Season to taste with a little dusting of salt (the capers and feta are quite salty but it is nice to dress the pasta with just an additional smidge) and lots of fresh black pepper if desired.

Serve right away or chill and eat later on your picnic!

The ladies in our house are pretty massive fans of capers – the husband not so much – we say it’s his loss!

The garlic in this recipe adds a wonderful flavor to the simple lemon dressing.

It’s light, bright, and delicious!

A mom’s hug lasts long after she lets go.

~ Author Unknown

This was a perfect cold lunch for my high school daughter today.

Anyone want to bet whether I’ll see that container again? 😉

Sing out loud in the car even, or especially, if it embarrasses your children.

~ Marilyn Penland

This dip has also become a bit of a hit.

I’ll share this with you all soon!

It’s rather a goodie 🙂

This is a warm up for the upcoming summer trip to France. I anticipate many afternoons lounging in the grass over a few bites of bread and cheese, with views of picturesque scenery, and of course, the family.

Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.

~ Mother Teresa

God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers.

~Jewish Proverb

Kick off the shoes, spread out the blanket, and remember these times don’t last forever.

Soak it in. Breathe. Be.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, whether you are a mother, or whether you know a mother or two that deserved a little love or recognition.

I so enjoyed your comments and feedback on the last post – turns out I am not the only one who loves bread!

I’ll be posting again this week and am pretty thrilled to be getting a new computer this week (it’s sooo time!) – we are getting away this upcoming weekend for a few days by the pool with great old friends.

I am looking forward to setting up beside the pool…maybe if it gets hots enough I’ll go in too!

  • How did you spend Mother’s Day?
  • Do you have a favorite picnic food?

We’d love to know!

Yours in Less,

79 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Family, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Kale Veggie Slaw with Sesame Miso Dressing

Raw veggies make me feel so good!

A day without laughter is a day wasted.

~ Charles Chaplin

Have you laughed today?!

I mean, really laughed? The side-splitting, joyful, exhaustion and tear inducing laughter that used to get us sent to the hallways in high school?

I love laughing. Laughter makes me happy. We try to laugh a lot. But sometimes I need to lighten up.

I’ve just returned from a (super) busy time of travel for work. Being on the road and working takes a tremendous amount of energy – and I am so grateful to have the weekend to catch up and return to my regular routine.

And to laugh!

The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.

~ Mark Twain

I don’t know about you, but I am a lot more prone to laughter when I am feeling spiffy.

Spiffy to me means my tummy is happy, my heart is happy, and my family and friends around me are happy.

To achieve all of these, I must take care of the 1st: making my tummy happy.

Because if my tummy is happy, my heart is happy knowing I am taking care of myself. When my heart is happy, it shines, and when it shines, it casts its light on anyone else around me.

And they are happy too.

You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.

~ Buddha

Seem too simple? I’d love to hear what brings happiness and laughter your way, because (IMO) there is no such thing as too much laughter (except when it is in the middle of science class).

This salad is a flavorful explosion that will bring a smile to your face. Featuring beautiful raw kale, broccoli stalks, carrots, and the ever humble rutabega, I’ll be bringing this to many a summer patio this year!

Let’s dig in!

The Less:

Less lettuce means less more creative ways to use up vegetables. Less cooking means more raw nutrition. Less store-bought dressings and pre-grated veggies means less cost, preservatives, and packaging. Less conventional foods means more adventurous meals, and maybe a few laughs along the way too!

The More:

More cheap vegetables means filling up for pennies. More vibrant raw veggies means more vibrant raw smiles. More kale and broccoli means more super-powered greens, and more savvy delicious potluck salads means you’ll always get an invite!

Kale Veggie Slaw with Sesame Miso Dressing

  • (1) cups grated carrots (about 2 medium)
  • (1) cup grated broccoli stalks (about 3)
  • (1) cup grated rutabega or turnip (1/2 large)
  • (3) cups green emerald kale, chopped fine
  • (1/2) large red bell pepper
  • (1/2 – 1) cup roasted cashews (whole or pieces)

Dressing:

  • (3/4) cup canola oil
  • (2) tbsp dark sesame oil
  • (1/4) cup apple cider vinegar
  • (1/4) cup white miso
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped ginger
  • (1/2) cup water

Start by combining all dressing ingredients except for the water. With the water ready, blend on high and add the water to the blender in a slow steady stream, until the dressing is light and frothy.

Transfer to a clean jar. This recipe makes more than required for this salad and is amazing on rice or quinoa, or any fresh green salad!

It’s hands down a wonderful vegan dressing that is smooth, flavorful, and incredibly delicious!

If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, or a salad master grater, you can grate the vegetables this way. Otherwise a hand grater (on a medium grate, don’t do it on a super fine cheese grater) will do. Grate each vegetable into a mixing bowl one at a time. You can opt to peel the carrots or not, but I always do for salads like this as they tend to keep better this way.

Grate the carrots, rutabega, and broccoli stalk all to the same size and mix well.

I’d rather be able to face myself in the bathroom mirror than be rich and famous.

~ Ani DiFranco

To chop the kale, use a good chopping knife. Chop the washed kale leaves as you would fresh herbs, into half-inch pieces or so, and add to the bowl. Chop the red pepper to a medium dice and add to the mix. Feeling good yet?

Toast the cashews in 350 degree oven until brown (about 10 minutes) or in a dry skillet on the stove-top. If using pieces, add straight to the bowl, or coarsely chop whole ones before adding.

To dress, start by adding 2/3 cup of the dressing to the bowl and mixing all well. If you like, add more dressing to taste. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds or more roasted cashews and serve!

This salad keeps well for at least a day in the fridge. In fact, my daughter said it was even better the next day, so no one needs worry about leftovers here!

When the kids will eat kale, that’s always a good sign, and while one of them still won’t touch it, I am pretty happy to have the hubby and teenager enjoying it now 🙂

Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine.

~ George Gordon Byron

Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before.

~Edwin Elliot

So amazing with a few slices of ripe avocado.

Bliss in a bowl!

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.

~ Victor Borge

This might be funny to you. Or not.

I hope wherever you are on this fine evening, you are in the company of loved ones (perhaps even enjoying a hearty laugh).

I am so looking forward to catching up on life this weekend (this includes catching up with all my blogging buddies!).

After whipping up a batch of spicy spinach hummus and putting up some rice to cook, I am headed outside….I can hear the sounds of children’s laughter out there, and I think I might be missing out!

  • What’s your most extreme laughing memory?
  • Ever found yourself literally on the floor or (worse) kicked out of class?

I’ve always cherished the gems I carry with me and I’d love to hear yours! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week! It’s so nice to be back 🙂

Yours in Less,

114 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Dressings, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Recipe: Killer Kale Pesto

There’s just something about the promise of Spring.

Oh heavens!

The sun came out yesterday, and it seems, decided to stay for a while (the forecast is clear for at least another day).

Insert multiple smiley face emoticons here!!

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.

– Helen Keller

It’s safe to say it’s been a (very) welcome change and the views of the twinkling snow capped mountains are particularly breathtaking. Yesterday was the day that I just knew spring had come knocking here in these parts:

  • the larks have come singing
  • the daylight has come to linger for a (just a little) while longer
  • I nearly injured myself in my hustle to peel my boots and thick tights off to get outside.

Craving the fresh air and the outdoors after work, I hurled myself outside to enjoy the remaining glorious daylight, the bustle of activity around the park, and the smiles and quips of the many who were of the same mind as me.

Oh happy day, the larks were still singing too!

Of course in my excitement, I under-dressed as it was still finger-numbingly cold (a total newbie move). But I didn’t care.

You cannot dream yourself into character: you must hammer and forge yourself into one.

~ Henry D. Thoreau

What a perfect start to the week, and the perfect time to write another post about one of my all time favorite green vegetables.

Are you with me?

Yup, it’s KALE again! I just can’t get enough of this stuff these days – evidence on this blog is here and here.

Here it is, the most perfect pesto with a twist! This recipe can be made with or without the cheese (and I assure you) is stunning either way. It’s almost entirely raw too.

The Less:

Less store bought processed foods is always a good thing. Less processed salt and cheese is too. Less emphasis on oil and basil means more room for other greens, nuts, and your pure, unadulterated love.

The More:

More satisfying richness from real foods means less craving for it in less pure foods. More fresh kale, parsley, and fresh herbs means more rich green nutrition (that you can grow yourself!). More lemon will have you smiling, and more (killer) flavor will go an awful long way.

Killer Kale Pesto:

  • (1) cup pecan halves, raw
  • (1/4) cup pumpkin seeds, freshly toasted
  • (3/4) cup olive oil
  • (1) cup green curly kale, chopped
  • (1/2) cup fresh basil
  • (1/4) cup fresh parsley
  • (1) clove organic garlic
  • (1) tbsp salt
  • (5) tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • (5) tbsp good quality grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay the pumpkin seeds on a flat tray and pop into the oven while it heats (my trick with dry roasting nuts – I put them in while the oven gradually reaches temperature, this keeps them roasting evenly and prevents that dreaded over roasting – ooooops!). Toast until fragrant and turning golden, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the other ingredients and add to the blender, starting with the pecans first. Once toasted, add the seeds right away to the blender while still warm – the heat from the warm seeds will assist in better blending and the result will be a much smoother blending process and slightly more delicious pesto.

Blend on high and move around with a spatula to get it going*. Blend all until you reach a thick well blended consistency and there are no bits of kale left.

*Of course you can also use a food processor for this, but alas, I do not use one!

Voila! Scrape with a spatula into a clean jar. This will keep refrigerated for a while in the fridge (at least a week or more). You can also freeze in small containers!

This seriously delicious pesto adds an exquisite touch to a boring old piece of toast, a flavorful topping for a cracker, and an even more delicious component to a polenta appetizer or pizza (like I made tonight with broccoli – double green hit – super yum!).

I’ll share a few of my thoughts on polenta (and how to make a number of delicious dishes with it) in a later post, but for now, join me in an ode to freshness in the form of sunshine, fresh greens, fresh air, fresh inspiration, fresh finds, and best of all fresh ideas!

There may not (really) be anything new under the sun, but what old gem doesn’t benefit from a little freshening up from time to time?

  • How do you stay fresh?
  • Do you love kale as much as I do?

Oh, please do tell.

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself

~ Zen Proverb

Welcome to all the new readers this week and and a huge, giant thanks to all the wonderful people I have met along the way so far! I really, truly enjoy all of your comments, and appreciate every single one!

This week I’ve got a yummy raw energy cookie to share, oil-free granola, and some other delicious bits and pieces..

I hope you are all starting a truly fabulous week..!

Yours in Less,

208 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Nut Recipes, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian