Book Club · New Traditions

Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash, Pine Nuts, Feta

Quinoa with roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, pine nuts and feta…what’s not to like! I often try new recipes to share with others so my Book Club buddies were once again Guinea Pigs.  This recipe takes a while to prepare but well worth the effort!

QUINOA WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH, PINE NUTS & FETA

2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
2 large onions, sliced
2 pounds cubed butternut squash
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 T. balsamic vinegar
salt
French Vinaigrette salad dressing (add generous amounts of dressing to individual portions)
1/2 cup Feta cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Peel the squash and slice it into 3/4 inch cubes, about 2 pounds. Toss the squash cubes in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt.
  • Put butternut squash on the greased baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, until soft. Flip the squash cubes over midway through baking. Cool slightly before adding to the salad.
Caramelize the Onions:  
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on high heat in a large skillet.  When oil is heated, add onions and cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, constantly string with wooden spoon. The onions will start to brown, but not brown.
  • Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 10 additional minutes, continuing to stir as onions brown even more. Add a pinch of salt over the onions.
  • Continue cooking the onions for 10 more minutes on medium to low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the onions don’t stick to the pan.  Add a bit of water if the onions begin o stick.  Total cooking time is 30 minutes.
  • Remove the onions from the heat and sprinkle onions with a small amount of balsamic vinegar to deglaze the pan. Using the wooden spoon, mix the onions scraping the bottom of the pan and coating onions with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar.
Assembling the salad:
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions, and mix with the dressing. Add the dressing only before the serving, and add as much as you want to individual portions, as both quinoa and butternut squash tend to be on a dry side, and this dressing (when generously applied) fixes this beautifully!
  • Top each individual serving with Feta cheese and toasted pine nuts.

Note: This salad keeps very well refrigerated for up to a week, but only without dressing. Add the dressing before serving.

New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Asparagus Tapenade…almost Springtime treat!

Tender stalks of asparagus at the store are a sign that Spring is upon us (or at least we hope it is). This recipe for Asparagus Tapenade has been in my stack of ‘must try’ recipes for a long time.  I wish I could remember where the recipe came from so I could give proper credit.

Asparagus Tapenade is a great recipe for anyone, but is a tasty treat for those practicing a Vegan or Vegetarian diet.

I served the Tapenade with vegetables and bits of bread.  It was great with both but I LOVED it on artisan bread. 

ASPARAGUS TAPENADE

1 pound asparagus (thick spears work fine)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring pan of water to boil over high heat.
  • Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 – 2 inch pieces.
  • Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to avoid burning.
  • Add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped.
  • Transfer to clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with crackers, vegetables and/or on crostini/bread.

 

New Favorite · Skinny · Vegetarian

Asparagus with Cranberries and Pine Nuts

My first recollection of asparagus was slimy canned asparagus served with school lunches.  Yuck!  My Mother would occasionally gather wild asparagus in the spring, but it was not a regular visitor to our home dinner table.

As an adult, I’ve learned to love asparagus and the many ways it can be prepared. I ran across this recipe AND I had all of the ingredients.  This recipe is so simple and quite elegant.  Tonight I paired it with salmon, always a wonderful combination.

Next time I try this recipe, I may use chopped pecans for a little different twist.

ASPARAUS WITH CRAISINS AND PINE NUTS

1 bunch asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 up dried cranberries (Craisins)
pinch of salt

  • Break off or trim the woody ends from the asparagus and discard. Set the spears aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • Stir in the pine nuts, cranberries, and salt.
  • Cook and stir until the pine nuts start to look translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add the asparagus spears to the skillet and cook, adding a little more olive oil if needed, until stalks are bright green and tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Serve on a platter and top with the cranberries and pine nut mixture.

Adapated from allrecipes.com, Asparagus with Cranberries and Pine Nuts

 

New Favorite

Pignoli…almond and pine nut decadence!

Italian Tony’s Market in the Denver area makes wonderful Pignoli.  Pignoli cookies are an Italian American confection, similar to a macaroon and topped with pine nuts. This week I was in search of a recipe I could make them at home. There were many wonderful recipes but this recipe was my final choice.  They were fantastic!

PIGNOLI COOKIES

12 ounces almond paste
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
4 egg whites
1 1/2 cups pine nuts

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with foil; lightly grease the foil.
  • Mix almond paste and granulated sugar in food processor until smooth.
  • Add confectioner’s sugar and 2 egg whites; process until smooth.
  • Whisk remaining 2 egg whites in small bowl.
  • Place pine nuts on shallow plate. With lightly floured hands roll dough into 1 inch balls. Coat balls in egg whites, shaking off excess, then roll in pine nuts, pressing lightly to stick to dough.
  • Arrange balls on cookie sheets, and flatten slightly to form a 1 1/2 inch round.

  • Bake 15 to 18 minutes (watch carefully because each oven and baking pan is different) until lightly browned.  Let stand on cookie sheet 1 minute. Transfer to wire rack to cool.

Recipe from Allrecipes.com:  Pignoli Cookies 1

Family Favorites · Gluten Free · New Favorite · New Traditions · Vegetarian

Pesto Schmesto…on Pizza and Caprese Salad

Have I told you I love pesto?  Fresh ingredients and CHEESE…what’s not to like?  My basil did well this year and I’ve enjoyed a few batches of this tasty delight. This year I tried a recipe from Iowa Girl Eats blog.  After all, a recipe originating from a cook in my home state of Iowa gets my attention. I like her recipe because it’s small in proportions but you can double, triple, etc. based on your desired volume.

PESTO SCHMESTO

25-28 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove
salt & pepper to salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • Combine the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt and pepper in the food processor.
  • Pulse until finely ground.
  • Slowly stream in the olive oil and pulse until smooth.

Adapted from Pesto by Iowa Girl Eats

PESTO PIZZA

Udi’s GF pizza crust (or precooked crust of your liking)
Pesto
Thinly sliced zucchini
Slow roast tomatoes or sun-dried tomatoes
Turkey or chicken (or omit for vegetarian pizza)
Shredded cheese (Monterey Jack or Mozzarella)

  • Layer the ingredients on the pizza crust in the order given.
  • Bake per crust instructions until pizza is hot, cheese is melted.  YUMMMMM.

PESTO CAPRESE SALAD

Fresh sliced tomatoes
Fresh sliced buffalo mozzarella
Pesto
salt & pepper

  • Layer in order above and enjoy!