The BEST Spring Lemon-Herb Orzo Salad

The BEST Spring Lemon-Herb Orzo Salad

The BEST spring lemon-herb orzo salad! It’s so easy to make and packed with fresh flavors from tons of herbs, lemon juice, feta cheese and crunchy peppery radish! I love to make this for potlucks, tailgating and make ahead lunches. It’s a vegetarian pasta salad everyone will love!

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Spring Salad with Sauteed Peas and Scallions

Spring Salad with Sauteed Peas and Scallions

Celebrate Spring (whenever it decides to get here) with this gorgeous seasonal salad! This spring salad with sauteed peas and scallions is also topped with briny feta, peppery radishes, creamy avocado and an easy lemon vinaigrette. Perfect as a side dish or bulk it up with protein to make a main course. 

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Red Curry Tofu and Mushrooms with Cauliflower Rice

This rich and creamy red curry tofu and mushrooms is served over cauliflower rice to soak up all the delicious sauce! 

I mean, would you just look at that.

Seriously, this red curry tofu is everything my body wants right now. We got back from New York City last night and our last 24 hours in the city turned into a bit of a cheese fest. Not cheesy as in tacky in a goofy kind of way, but cheese as in my favorite food. It’s basically all we ate for an entire day. We had cheese stuffed soft pretzels, fried saloumi and cheese croquettes, a bagel piled high with smoked fish and dill cream cheese, late night pizza dolloped with giant scoop of fresh ricotta cheese. We ate dinner at AN ACTUAL CHEESE BAR. Yes, this thing exists outside of heaven and it’s called Murray’s Cheese Café. And because we apparently hadn’t enough dairy, there was a stop at The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop for a soft cone dipped in dark chocolate pretzels and hot fudge. When it’s 107 degrees in a concrete city, you eat and drink your way through in an effort to get out of the sun.

(P.S. People who can fix things in NYC, please take some advice from the south – work on your AC game.)

So yeah, I see a lot of bright, fresh, herby, spicy, vegetable-laden, meatless dishes in my future. Not because I’m trying to detox the cheese out of my system, but because that’s what I want. Intuitive eating is cool like that.

This red curry tofu is a nice transition dish from all the cheese, oddly enough. The coconut milk is fatty and creamy, like cheese. And tofu is basically mozzarella cheese. Seriously. You make tofu the exact same way you make mozzarella, except it’s made from soy milk, not dairy milk.

For veggies, I used a mixture of mushrooms, which soak up the delicious curry sauce. If you can get your hands on a variety of wild mushrooms, that’s definitely what I would recommend. I used shiitakes, which has a chewy texture that makes it my favorite mushroom. I also used cremini mushrooms, which are baby portobellos. I like to have lots of different mushroom flavors and textures going on, so if you can get your hand on oyster mushrooms, enokis, or porcinis, throw them on in too!

I served this over cauliflower rice, which is so much easier now that you can find riced cauliflower at grocery stores. I’ve already admitted to liking cauliflower rice more than actual rice, but remember, it’s still not rice so you need some carbs in your dish. I threw in green peas, a yummy starchy vegetable, but feel free to toss in a can of drained chickpeas as well if you need/want a little more. Or, you know, just serve it with rice.

Red Curry Tofu and Mushrooms with Cauliflower Rice

Serves 4

Ingredients

Cauliflower Rice:

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower, avocado or coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen rice cauliflower, or 1 lb cauliflower florets and stem pulsed in the food processor to make rice

Curry: 

  • 1 lb firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, avocado oil or coconut oil
  • 1/2 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 ounces shiitakes, sliced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 1/4 cup full fat coconut cream
  • 4 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 4 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted

For serving: 

  • Lime, sliced
  • Freshly chopped cilantro
  • Red chili flakes

Instructions

  1. Wrap tofu with paper towels. Top with a heavy skillet or can to drain for 15 minutes.
  2. Make rice. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium-high skillet. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes until translucent. Add cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, about 7-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
  3. While rice is cooking, cut tofu into cubes. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large sided skillet on medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook until golden. Remove from skillet and set aside.
  4. Ad remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to the skillet where the tofu was cooked and set on medium-high. Add onion and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and saute 30 seconds. Add mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and saute until tender, 7 minutes. Add coconut milk, curry paste, and fish sauce. Stir in tofu. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Pour in peas and cook another minute to warm through. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Serve over caulilfower rice with lime, cilantro and chili flakes.

Creamy Spring Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus and Mint

This creamy spring pasta with oyster mushrooms, asparagus and mint was inspired by a trip to the farmers market.

After taking an unintentional extended break from the farmer's market, I finally made it back last weekend with a girls trip to Soda City with my friend Katrina and my Bernese mountain dog, Savannah. It felt so good to be back! When we moved to Columbia five years ago, I was none too thrilled with it. When we discovered Soda City, our local farmers market, and saw all the passion behind the local food movement, it got me really excited about what this town could be. To see it grow from a tiny, ramshackle building on the outskirts of downtown to a huge affair the city shuts down Main St. for has been really cool! In that time, Columbia has grown into a town I quite enjoy living!

I'm not the most intuitive of cooks, but I'm always inspired to create at the farmers market. And with such delicious and beautiful produce, it's hard to go wrong!  I snagged a ball of mozzarella from Charleston Cheesehouse, fresh squid ink pasta from Rio Bertonlinis and finally a little basket of oyster mushrooms from City Roots. I sauteed up the mushrooms with some asparagus (I admit, from TJs, not the farmers market) in plenty of olive oil to let the freshness shine through!

To make the sauce, I simply used a little creme fraiche. If you haven't tried it before, creme fraiche is made by fermenting cream, similar to how you make yogurt from milk. The result is a rich, thick, and slightly tangy cream. If you can't find it, a few tablespoons of heavy cream will work just fine!

Creamy Spring Pasta with Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus and Mint

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fresh or whole grain pasta
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus, trimmed, cut into thirds
  • 1/4 lb oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons mint
  • 1 cup peas, defrosted
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water then drain pasta in a large colander. Set aside.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet. Add asparagus and saute 2-3 minutes. Add oyster mushrooms and cook until asparagus is tender and mushrooms are browned.
  3. Turn off heat and add pasta to the skillet with the vegetables. Stir in creme fraiche, mint, and peas. Scoop into large serving bowl, stir in mozzarella, season with salt and pepper and serve.

More farmer's market inspired recipes for spring: 

Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish and Lemon-Mint Dressing
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish and Lemon-Mint Dressing
Ultimate Veggie Avocado Sandwich
Ultimate Veggie Avocado Sandwich
Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mint-Pea Pesto
Roasted Asparagus and Radish with Mint-Pea Pesto

Miso-Sesame Green Pea Spread

Switch up your usual hummus routine with this probiotic packed miso sesame green pea spread. 

When it comes to food, I am most definitely not a creature of habit. Rarely do I ever eat the same thing twice, and if I do, it's almost always from a different cookbook.There's waaaay too many yummy dishes and gorgeous cookbooks in this world and I am damned and determined to work my way through as many as possible!

There's only one food I eat habitually - carrot sticks and hummus. I have three favorite flavors from Trader Joes that I cycle through each week - spicy red pepper, cilantro and jalapeno, and horseradish. Sensing a spicy trend? If you ever look inside my fridge and don't see a container of hummus, it's probably because I just ate it all, like, five minutes ago.

Yup, I could never get sick of hummus.

Except for the times when, you know, I kind of get sick of hummus. I know! What's wrong with me? How is it possible to get sick of perfect??

After meeting with my psychologist to confirm that everything's alright in the head, and I am simply in need of a non-hummus snack for a few days, I whip up a chickpea-free spread to enjoy with raw veggies or whole grain crackers. Peas, with their vibrant green color and creamy consistency, are one of my favorite chickpea stand-ins. I've tried a few different recipes, mostly riffs on the classic mint and pea combination, but this probiotic packed spread with Asian flavors was good enough to win a spot on the blog.

Looking for some more non-hummus spreads to switch up your snack routine? Here's a few more for inspiration:

Ajvar: Serbian Roasted Red Pepper Spread  (Serious Eats)

Kale Basil and Mint Pesto  (Jeanette's Healthy Living)

Vegan Chipotle Carrot Queso (Cookie + Kate)

Broccoli Stalk Salsa Verde (Nourish RDs)

Classic Cashew Cheese, Three Ways (Nutrition Stripped)

Miso-Sesame Green Pea Spread

Adapted from Food & Wine.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano, seeded and minced
  • 16-ounce bag frozen green peas, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • Garnish ideas: shallots caramelized in sesame oil, sesame seeds, crushed chili flakes, five spice powder, cilantro, scallions

Instructions

  1. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add scallions, ginger and chili and saute until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add peas and saute, 2-3 minutes until peas are warmed through.

  2. Scrape peas mixture into a food processor. Add miso and tahini and blend. Season with more salt if needed (although it shouldn't need any as miso is fairly salty). Serve with carrots or brown rice crackers.

Try these non-hummus dips:

Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip with Tahini
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Dip with Tahini
Nut Butter, Three Ways
Nut Butter, Three Ways
Grilled Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa
Grilled Peach and Vidalia Onion Salsa

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint-Pea Pesto

Roasted asparagus and radishes with mint-pea pesto is a beautiful and tasty way to highlight Spring produce. 

It’s finally Spring! Except if you’re here in Columbia...then it’s actually kinda, sorta summer.

I’m not sure what happened, but the temperature basically went from the 30s and 40s to the 90s in about two weeks, skipping the season of Spring entirely. Obviously we still got the insane amounts of pollen typical to this area. And massive thunderstorms that seem to be timed to start exactly 2 minutes before I have to leave the house. Oh well. What’s important is that Spring produce and the dogwood flowers are here and that's enough to make me happy.

This recipe is packed with everything I love about Spring. I’ve been obsessing over roasted radishes ever since I saw this article on The Kitchn. When The Kitchen tells you there’s a roasted vegetable that’s missing from your life – you listen. I love raw radishes in salsa, garnishing a bowl of posole or on rye crispbreads with a little butter and sea salt, but I honestly never thought about cooking them. Roasting radishes mellows their peppery bite and turns it into something sweet, tender and almost juicy. 

This recipe makes more pea pesto than you'll need, and you'll still wish you doubled the recipe! Use leftover pesto as a sandwich spread (it would be amazing on my smoked salmon breakfast sandwich), tossed with whole grain spaghetti, or as a dip for whole grain crackers. You can even freeze it, but you might want to put a light layer of olive oil over the top to keep the bright green color.

I whipped up this recipe during a photoshoot for lululemon's Columbia showroom with Celia from Celia G Photographie. It was so much fun! Celia is incredibly talented, fun to work with, and how cute is the outfit she styled? The Refine Crop I'm wearing is probably the most comfortable thing I've ever put on my body...and for the record I'm currently in 10-year old, hot pink Juicy Couture velour sweats. Don't judge, it's laundry day. And who knows, maybe they'll come back in style. Maybe??

Anyway, wanted to share a couple pictures from the shoot with you all as well as a sneak peak into my kitchen. Please know my kitchen is never this clean and is usually much more chaotic with the two big fluffy dogs at my feet!

Roasted Asparagus and Radishes with Mint-Pea Pesto

Serves:4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends snapped off
  • 8 ounces radishes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Pesto:

  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, packed
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the asparagus and radish with olive oil in a large bowl and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
  2. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a small pot of salted water to a boil. Add peas and cook for two minutes. Drain and immediately transfer to an ice bath to cool and stop the cooking.
  3. Drain the peas again and add to a food processor along with the garlic, walnuts, mint, lemon juice, walnut oil, salt and pepper. Process until pureed, scraping down the sides as needed.
  4. Serve roasted vegetables dolloped with pea pesto, or toss it all together.

 You Might Also Like:

Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs
Roasted Green Beans and Mushrooms with Herbed Breadcrumbs
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish & Peas with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Spring Salad with Avocado, Radish & Peas with Mint-Lemon Dressing
Caramelized Cauliflower with Golden Raisins
Caramelized Cauliflower with Golden Raisins

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Leeks

Canned pumpkin and coconut milk seem like an unlikely duo, but when blended with herbs, spices and bit of citrus, it makes a rich, creamy and complex pasta sauce. Top with sauteed leeks, mushrooms and peas to make it a meal.  

Since my teenage years, on a semi-regular basis, I've been mistaken for Italian. I've got German, Scottish and Latvian blood, but not a speck of Italian, at least to my knowledge. There's been some awkward moments, like when I was walking through Little Italy and a little old lady spoke to me in Italian...then gave me a death stare when I couldn't respond. Then there was that time a woman in Williams Sonoma asked me how I make pasta from scratch, to which I replied "uhhh, I put it in boiling water." And of course, we can't forget the rumor that went around in high school that my dad was in the mafia. Don't even ask how that one started.

I always presumed it was my olive complexion and dark hair, but after creating this dish, I think I've figured out the source of confusion. Rumor must have somehow got out about my excellent pasta sauce making skills.

If you've made my pasta primavera with cauliflower sauce, dairy free mac and cheese or horrendously photographed but amazingly delicious almost cheeseless pasta casserole, then you know this rumor to be true. This creamy pumpkin sauce blows them all out of the water.

This bowl of pasta was one of the most comforting things I've ever experienced, right up there with fleece-lined leggings and snuggles from my fur babies (one of which is doing a little better - thanks for all your well wishes!). Comfort food to the max. Plus, it's got the whole carb and carb thing going on - never a bad thing in my opinion.

I've used pureed pumpkin in pasta sauces before, most notably my vegan mac and cheese (one of the most popular recipes on this blog). But for this sauce, I wanted it to be almost alfredo-like and silky smooth. And for that, you need fat and lots of it!

I used two sources of fats to create this sauce. First, coconut milk, which adds only a faint hint of coconut flavor that actually melds together really nicely with this sauce. I also mixed in a couple tablespoons of almond butter, although you could use cashew butter or tahini even if you have it on hand. Both of these fats lend a nice mouthfeel to the sauce, but also a complex flavor as well.

Dairy Free Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Peas
Dairy Free Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Peas

Speaking of flavor, there's so much going on in this bowl! I added lots of sage, picked from our "herb garden," aka sage garden because that's what took over! Fresh orange juice brightens the sauce and sweetens it a bit as well. The turmeric adds a little peppery flavor, but mostly I added it in for the health benefits and gorgeous color.

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta with Mushrooms and Leeks

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Sauce: 

  • 14-ounce can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 ounces shiitakes, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 8 ounces 100% whole grain spaghetti (I used quinoa spaghetti)

Instructions

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, whisk together sauce ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes to let the flavors combine.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add leeks and saute 5-7 minutes until tender. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add mushrooms and cook until their liquid has released and reabsorbed, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in peas and cook until defrosted and warm. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Toss spaghetti with the sauce. Top with vegetables and serve.