Is it just me, or are you also dying for all the spring holidays to begin? After a gray winter, we’re dreaming of Easter and Passover and Mother’s Day–and not only that, but the food that comes with them!
This savory tart is stunning as an Easter recipe or Mother’s Day brunch and uses our feature ingredient: canned blackberries. We’ve started using Oregon Fruit Products canned fruit as a way to incorporate the flavor and nutrients of fresh fruit year round. It’s available in grocery stores nationwide and packed here in the US during the summer. And a big plus: it’s non-GMO and there’s no High Fructose Corn Syrup or BPA in the cans. When Oregon Fruit Products came to us to highlight their canned blackberries in a savory Easter recipe, we wanted to hit it out of the park.
This savory tart is a stunner. I’ll say it again to make no mistake: this is a savory tart, not sweet! While blackberries and ricotta could in theory make a sweet tart, this one is all savory. It works perfectly as a brunch vegetarian main dish or as an appetizer. The blackberries are combined with onions and a bit of balsamic to make a savory purple compote, which is smothered over a lemony, salty ricotta topping. And as a base: a whole wheat tart crust that’s flaky and crisp. Top it off with some lovely green thyme sprigs and you’ve got a truly beautiful, tasty, and unique main dish. As another option, the savory onion blackberry sauce could even be use a pizza topping!
This recipe uses a little over half of the can of blackberries. A few ways to use one can for several meals with the leftover blackberries:
Toss them on a salad
Top them on crostini spread with goat cheese
Swirl them into yogurt
Sprinkle them over oatmeal
Whether you’re looking for an Easter recipe or an elegant brunch main dish, we hope this savory tart hits the mark for you. Happy spring!
Looking for an Easter recipe?
If you’re looking for an Easter recipe or Mother’s Day recipe, here are a few of our other favorites:
Make the tart dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and kosher salt. Turn on the stand mixer to low with the paddle attachment, and slowly add the unsalted butter, cut into small chunks. Mix until the dough is crumbly with small butter chunks. (Alternately, mix the butter into the dough using a pastry cutter.) Slowly add the ice water into the stand mixer until the dough just comes together. If necessary, add another 1/2 tablespoon of water to bring it together. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead it once or twice until the dough is smooth. Shape it into a rough rectangle and wrap in plastic wrap. If desired, chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes. (If made the day before and refrigerate overnight, leave the dough out for about 30 minutes until soft enough to roll out.)
Make the ricotta filling: In a bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, lemon zest, 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds black pepper. Roll out the galette dough to a large, thin rectangle, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the ricotta filling on top in a thin layer to about 1/2-inch from the edge of the dough. Brush the exposed dough with the melted butter. Bake 30 minutes until golden brown.
Make the blackberry onion sauce: Thinly slice the onion and measure out 1/2 cup. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook about 5 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the balsamic vinegar, reduce the heat to low where it is lightly bubbling, and continue to cook for 10 minutes until the vinegar is cooked out. Meanwhile, drain and measure the blackberries and measure the thyme leaves.
To the skillet, add 2/3 cup water, blackberries, thyme leaves, and a scant 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (start conservative). Simmer 3 minutes. Remove a few spoonfuls of the juice in the skillet into a small bowl, then stir together with 1 teaspoon cornstarch until smooth. Pour the cornstarch mixture back into the skillet and stir until the sauce becomes thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Taste, and adjust as necessary (the salt and lemon should pop the flavors, but not be salty).
When the crust and ricotta are done, spread them with berries and top with fresh thyme leaves. Slice into pieces and serve.
This post was created in partnership with Village Farms. All opinions are our own.
Hello spring! Over here we couldn’t be more excited about sun, flowers, light, and all things spring. Every year, I’m surprised when the weather starts to turn warmer and everything, literally everything in life seems better. We can walk to the park with Larson, start using fresh chives from the garden, and pack up our winter parkas in favor of springtime garb.
And of course, our recipes can turn from heavy winter foods to light and bright! This new frittata is everything spring, contrasting the fresh goodness of asparagus with the roasty sweetness of Mini San Marzano tomatoes. You may notice that tomatoes are not typically a springtime food. We’re huge supporters of local tomatoes, which show up around July here in Indiana. However, we’ve started to allow sustainably grown hydroponic tomatoes into our repertoire in the spring, when we’re craving tomato juiciness but local crops are months away.
The tomatoes we used here are Heavenly Villagio Marzano® from Village Farms. Village Farms’ use of hydroponics in greenhouse growing allows them to provide delicious tomatoes year-round by farming indoors using sustainable growing practices. Not only are these growing methods eco-friendly, they result in ripe, juicy flavorful tomatoes–the flavor is unlike any other grocery store tomato we’ve had. Village Farms’ growing methods use:
86% less water compared to the average tomato grown outdoors.
97% less land to grow the same amount of tomatoes grown outdoors.
Beneficial insects to control pests and stimulate healthy plant growth, instead of harmful chemicals
The frittata is one of our favorite ways to make a simple brunch entree. And, you can even serve them as a simple dinner, alongside fresh bread and a salad! This roasted tomato & asparagus frittata is lovely for spring family gatherings, like an Easter brunch or Mother’s Day brunch. While you’d imagine cooking the asparagus and using the tomatoes raw, we’ve flip-flopped it! To capitalize on the fresh spring flavor of asparagus, we’ve shaved it into long ribbons. Not only is the flavor lighter than cooked asparagus, the ribbons look lovely and bright green as they decorate the top of the frittata. To contrast the fresh green asparagus, we’ve roasted the Heavenly Villagio Marzano® tomatoes, which develops their robust flavor into something even more complex. The bites of roasty tomatoes inside the frittata remind us of the savory goodness of pizza! To top it off, a sprinkling confetti of feta cheese, which adds a salty element.
While these tomatoes are lovely raw, we loved roasting them to develop their flavor! You could use the roasted tomatoes in other ways outside of the frittata: try them as a side dish, on a Caesar salad (yum!), or inside a grilled cheese.
Look for Village Farms tomatoes at your local grocery (ours has them!). For more information, go to VillageFarms.com. Happy spring!
10 thin stalks asparagus (enough for 1 cup of ribbons)
1/2 cup feta crumbles, divided
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon butter
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Slice the tomatoes in half. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place them on top. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper. Roast the tomatoes 22 to 25 minutes until tender and slightly browned.
Wash the asparagus and chop off the tough ends. Lay asparagus spears on a flat surface. With a vegetable peeler, shave each spear from the from the bottom up. Remove the tips if desired. Measure out 1 cup of ribbons.
Whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles, milk, kosher salt, and several grinds black pepper.
In a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, melt the butter and swish around the pan to evenly coat. Pour in egg mixture and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes until the edges are set. Top with the tomatoes and asparagus ribbons, arranging them as desired, then sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup feta.
Place the skillet in the oven and bake 10 to 12 minutes until the center is firm. Cool for a few minutes before serving, then cut into pieces and serve warm. (You also can serve at room temperature.)
They are all things a waffle should be: lightly sweet, tender and fluffy on the inside, and crispy on the outside. But instead of refined flour and sugar, these waffles have a simple, whole food base: almond flour and eggs. Magical, right? (I’ll share the secret, keep reading!)
We can’t take credit for this gem—it’s all Laura Lea. Do you know the website Laura Lea Balanced and The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook? If not, it’s high time you do! Laura Lea is a holistic chef and recipe developer based in Nashville. She and I connected via a mutual friend and immediately hit it off. You know those people where you know they are “good people” after about 2 minutes of chatting with them? That’s Laura Lea. She’s incredibly supportive, genuine, and 100% passionate about good, healthy food.
One of the things I love about Laura Lea’s cookbook is that the recipes are all approachable and delicious, not aspirational—which is exactly the vibe we tried to achieve with our book, too! Her focus is eating real food and lots of it, including healthier versions of the Southern favorites she grew up with. Her book includes meat, fish, and lots of veggies: so it’s got a little of something for everyone.
These gluten-free waffles are legit delicious—which of course, I expected. However, I didn’t expect them to be even fluffier, lighter and cinnamon-ier than I imagined. Alex, me and Larson each gave them a thumbs up, totaling 3 enthusiastic thumbs. Most waffles are made with refined flour and sugar, then doused with fake maple syrup and powdered sugar, which equals food coma + energy crash. Instead, these waffles are low in sugar and high in both fiber and protein, so they’re hearty and healthy. The secret: separate the eggs and whip the whites into a frothy foam, then fold it into the rest of the batter. What results is a lightly fluffy dream, not what you would expect of a base of almond flour.
We topped these fluffy gluten-free waffles with a bit of our new rhubarb compote recipe, which brings in a vibrant hot pink color and tangy flavor. And to cut the sweet, a dollop of creamy yogurt. A little goes a long way with the rhubarb compote, so you can be light-handed when you’re topping.
A huge thanks to Laura Lea for this fantastic recipe!
Want to meet? We can’t wait to collaborate on an event with Laura Lea with both of our cookbooks in Nashville in May: check our Cookbook Events section for details!
Giveaway: We’ve got a giveaway of the book — head over to Instagram!
These gluten-free waffles are magically fluffy, with a real food base of almond flour and eggs. The secret? Check out this recipe, courtesy of The Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook.
2 tablespoons melted butter, plus 1 teaspoon for waffle maker if necessary (or sub coconut oil for dairy-free)
1 cup almond flour
1/4 cup arrowroot starch or cornstarch
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs, separated into yolks and whites
1/2 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
If your waffle maker doesn’t have a nonstick surface, grease with 1 teaspoon melted butter or coconut oil. Heat according to manufacturer directions.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot starch or cornstarch, cinnamon, baking powder, and sea salt.
In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, melted butter, coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
With a handheld or stand mixer, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks, approximately 1 minute. Soft peaks hold for a second, then fall back onto themselves. This will look like a light white foam.
Stir the egg yolk mixture into the dry ingredients. Gently fold in the egg whites until just incorporated.
Add 1/4 of the batter to the waffle maker and cook until lightly brown (our waffle maker is a standard circle size; the original recipe makes 2 Belgian waffles). Gently remove and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve immediately.
Waffles will keep tightly sealed in the refrigerator for 2 days. Reheat them in a 300F oven until softened and warm to the touch. You can also freeze them up to 1 month.
When I was growing up in Minnesota, my parents had a garden and in the back was a big old rhubarb plant. It looked like a giant weed. I remember trying a bite of the greenish pink stalk raw from the cutting board as my mom chopped it for a dessert. UGH, was it tart and disgusting! But sweetened with sugar and nestled under an oat crumble topping, it was the stuff dreams are made of. That sweet tart flavor takes me right back to childhood, licking the sticky pink goo from my plate.
This year, we decided to start spring early with a rhubarb compote to top some waffles. True to form, I gave little Larson a greenish pink cube of raw rhubarb to chew on from the cutting board. His face crinkled up in confusion, but he kept chewing it all the same. But once sauteed with sugar into a hot pink compote, he was a definite fan. After we swirled a smear of it into his oatmeal, he was in heaven.
This recipe is supremely simple. We typically opt for natural sweetners like maple syrup, but here the sugar performs some chemistry to break down and thicken the rhubarb, so we decided not to mess with perfection. It’s pretty sweet, so a little of the stuff goes a long way. We served it over these waffles, but it would be perfect on pancakes or french toast. Leftover rhubarb compote is perfect to swirl into yogurt, oatmeal, or as a simple dessert, vanilla ice cream.
Here’s to the simple, seasonal pleasures: like rhubarb compote in the spring! And aside from the flavor, the vibrant hot pink color can’t be beat.
This hot pink sweet-tart rhubarb compote is as delicious as it is beautiful. Serve over waffles or pancakes, or swirl it into oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.
2 cups rhubarb (10 ounces, about 4 large stalks)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chop the rhubarb into small cubes.
In a saucepan, stir together the rhubarb and the sugar over low heat. Once it starts to to bubble, cook for about 10 minutes until the rhubarb is broken down and the juices have slightly thickened (exact timing depends on the size of the rhubarb and heat level).
Remove from the heat. Transfer to a ball jar and chill for at least an hour, which will thicken the juices even more. Store refrigerated for a few weeks. Serve over waffles, pancakes, or swirled into oatmeal, yogurt, or ice cream.
This post was created in partnership with ALDI. All opinions are our own.
“We’re flexitarian.” When Alex and I say it, typically we get funny looks. And we promise, flexitarian is not a term we made up–as much as we’d like to take credit! At home we eat mostly vegetarian, but every now and then we’ll eat fish or meat. (That’s it: flexitarian!) Typically it’s in honor of a special occasion, like having guests for dinner. Eating seafood on occasion helps to keep our “mostly vegetarian” eating style sustainable for us. And when we do opt for meat or fish, we look for it to be sustainably-raised where possible.
We assumed that you, our readers and followers, were mainly here for the vegetarian recipes. However, we recently did a poll on Instagram to see if followers were interested in seafood recipes–and got a resounding yes! So, we wanted to share with you a super simple and delightful way to prepare salmon.
When ALDIcame to us to showcase their salmon, our first question was (you guessed it)–is it sustainably raised? The answer: this salmon is sustainably farm raised. ALDI offers fresh, never frozen fish, including Atlantic salmon and tilapia. They work with the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the Global Aquaculture Alliance to ensure the sourcing of sustainable seafood for customers, wherever possible. ALDI aims to buy all its fish and shellfish products from responsibly-managed fisheries and farms that have minimal impacts on the marine environment.
Here, we’ve created a 10-minute baked salmon recipe and paired it with a bright green chimichurri sauce. One of the things I love about eating seafood is that it’s so quick to cook: just 10 minutes in the oven and this salmon is flaky and delicious. The neon green chimichurri sauce is what puts it over the edge: lightly garlicky and fresh, it’s simple to make: just throw everything in a blender! Here, we’ve used the Ambiano Professional Nutrition Blender available at ALDI starting March 14. To make it an entire meal, we paired the baked salmon with cumin-roasted potatoes. You can roast them all on the same sheet if you prefer; the potatoes take 35 minutes in total; just throw the salmon on in the last 10 minutes. It’s perfect for a quick weeknight meal that looks incredibly impressive with minimal effort. (Pretty simple, we like to say!)
The salmon we picked up at ALDI was delightful, and no surprise, Larson was a huge fan of this meal. What about you–do you eat seafood? Have you tried salmon at ALDI?
Looking for more fish and seafood recipes?
If you like this baked salmon recipe, here are some of our other favorite fish and seafood recipes:
This 10-minute baked salmon is an ultra quick dinner, paired with a bright green chimichurri sauce. Add our oven-roasted potatoes as a side and you can roast them on the same baking sheet!
For the potatoes (optional side dish)
2 pounds red potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Stonemill Cumin Ground
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Stonemill Ground Black pepper
For the salmon
1 1/2 pounds Fresh Atlantic Salmon Side
Stonemill Ground Black Pepper
For the chimichurri
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, tightly packed (about 1 large bunch)
1 cup fresh parsley leaves and tender stems, tightly packed (about 1 large bunch)
2 green onions (tops only)
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon SimplyNature Oregano
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Several grinds Stonemill Ground Black Pepper
Preheat the oven to 450F.
Slice the potatoes into thin rounds. In a large bowl, mix them with the olive oil, cumin, kosher salt and black pepper. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the potatoes in an even layer on top. Roast the potatoes for about 35 minutes total, until golden brown, stirring halfway through.
Generously sprinkle the salmon with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until flaky and just cooked (test it with a fork to assess doneness). Watch the salmon to make sure not to overcook; the timing can vary based on the thickness of the salmon and variations between ovens.
Meanwhile, make the chimichurri: Slice off the tops of the green onions. In a blender, blend all ingredients until a smooth sauce forms, (if necessary, stop and mix the ingredients to allow them to fully blend).
To serve, drizzle the salmon with chimichurri, and serve with potatoes.
In the nearly 8 years of A Couple Cooks, we’ve never used the term “5-minute” for a recipe. One one hand, it can make cooking seem dumbed down and trivial, the exact opposite of our pretty simple philosophy. Cooking takes time, and it’s worth making time for. On the other hand, this recipe absolutely deserves the “5-minute” moniker because it is truly quick.
This is barely a recipe, but we’re posting it because if you’re anything like us, you’re always in need of creative ideas in the kitchen. Even if it’s just a few simple ingredients thrown together into a sandwich, sometimes it’s just nice to have a fresh dose of inspo. With that in mind, we’ve got a 5-minute–yes, really 5-minute–breakfast sandwich for you for those days you’re in need of a quick fix.
What’s great about this breakfast sandwich?
You can whip it up in less time than it takes to run through the fast food drive through.
Adding basil pesto brings big flavor in no time. Make sure to buy a high-quality pesto brand that you love.
It’s a spin on a healthy breakfast sandwich; there’s no bacon, sausage or hollandaise, just 1 egg and some real, fresh flavors.
If you’re in a pinch, brinner to the rescue! It can double as a quick dinner for nights when you have no time to think.
You can use any baby greens; now that it’s spring, it’s the perfect time to make this and throw in a handful of greens from your farmer’s market.
And while we’re on the topic, the farmer’s market is a great place to buy local eggs; eggs from happy chickens always taste better!
Looking for healthy breakfast recipes?
Here are a few of our favorite healthy breakfast and brunch recipes:
Need a quick & healthy breakfast sandwich? This 5-minute pesto & arugula breakfast sandwich can be whipped up in minutes and offers a healthier spin on breakfast.
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 multi-grain English muffin
2 to 3 tablespoons high-quality basil pesto, purchased or homemade if in season
1 handful baby arugula (or other baby greens)
Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Crack the egg into the pan and sprinkle with a few pinches kosher salt. When the whites are mostly cooked after a minute or two, flip and cook another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat.
Meanwhile, toast the English muffin. Spread both sides generously with pesto. When the egg is done, slide it onto one half of the English muffin.
Add a handful of arugula to the still hot pan and return to medium heat; add a pinch of kosher salt and cook for a few seconds until wilted down. Remove from the heat and place the arugula on top of the egg.
Top the sandwich with the other half of the English muffin and serve immediately.
March 1 is spring, right? Alex and I are dying for spring weather, so we’re starting with some spring food to usher in the season. And this spring vegetable chowder is the perfect way to do it, with its vibrant green color and fresh flavors.
The recipe is from the new cookbook, Simply Vibrant by Anya and Masha of the blog Golubka Kitchen. Anya and Masha are a mother and daughter living 1000 miles apart and exchanging recipes to keep in touch. Anya is author and Masha is photographer (how fun is that?). There are 129 recipes in Simply Vibrant, all of which are vegetarian, 124 of them are vegan, and 109 of them are gluten-free or gluten-free adaptable. Anya’s goal was to create healthful, everyday recipes that require accessible, whole food ingredients – mainly vegetables, fruit, herbs, spices, grains, and legumes. Her hope was that you’d be able to find in the index whatever good-looking produce you picked up at the market or store, and get some ideas on how to prepare it.
The book is full of vibrant photographs of bright-colored plant-based fare, and the recipes are creative and beautiful. This spring vegetable chowder jumped out to both Alex and me, with its bright green color and comforting vibe. (I think I mentioned we’re craving spring?) It’s full of spring vegetables: green peas, baby greens, chives, and mint. We were even able to use chives from our garden that are just starting to come up! The soup has a cozy, hearty and almost meaty flavor from cumin, coriander, and garlic, set off by the fresh herbs. We also added a squeeze of lemon to our bowls to heighten the brightness, and made sure to have a good sprinkling of mint. Everyone in the family enjoyed it, and even little Larson couldn’t stop eating it.
How about you: do you have a favorite spring vegetable?
Many congratulations to Anya and Masha on a gorgeous book! The vibrant colors of the recipes and photographs are a testament to your commitment to making wellness a truly exciting and magical way to live.
Looking for spring vegetable recipes?
Here are a few of our favorite spring vegetable recipes:
This vibrant spring vegetable chowder is everything good about spring: bright green and fresh, featuring green peas, spinach, chives and mint.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
10 small new potatoes, cut into small cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 cups vegetable broth
1 pound fresh or frozen English peas
4 cups baby spinach
2 to 3 green onions or chives, thinly sliced, for garnish
Handful mint leaves, chopped (optional)
Heat the oil in a medium soup pot over medium heat. Add the cumin, coriander, onion, and a few pinches of salt; saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, potatoes, a pinch of salt, and black pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes until fragrant.
Add the lemon juice and let it absorb for 1 minute then pour in the vegetable broth or water. Bring the liquid to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, until the potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the peas and greens to the soup and stir until the greens wilt. Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the soup to a blender and blend until creamy. Return the blended soup to the pot and stir to combine.
Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Serve the soup garnished with chives, fresh mint, and a squeeze of lemon.
Have we told you about our favorite tortillas? It’s not just about their flavor, but the story and thoughtfulness behind them. One Degree Organics is a family-business that’s truly cutting edge in their ability to source organic ingredients from farmers and tell their stories. As in, some of the corn for the tortillas in this photograph was farmed in Mexico by a rockstar woman farmer Imelda Ramirez Herrera. Incredible, right?
One Degree Organics happens to be owned by the family of my friend Sondra, a fellow mama with a babe close in age to Larson. Which, I’ve come to find, makes for an instant bond of friendship! Sondra couldn’t be lovelier and I’m absolutely certain her entire family is the same way. The amazing thing is part of their business is to fly all over the world finding sources for their organic products. (Dream job, anyone?)
These tacos are very loosely based on an idea from our friend Ellen of her late night tacos. Instead of ground beef, here we’ve used green lentils to make vegan tacos. As I was working out the idea, I realized we could use the theme of green (verde) for all the toppings: green onion, green cabbage, green drizzle, and green salsa. With that, our “verde” vegan tacos were born. They’re vegan but bursting with flavor, and they’re seriously quick: they take 25 to 30 minutes to make. We’ve used One Degree Organics sprouted organic tortillas in our vegan tacos. The taco is incredibly tasty: the combination of fresh flavors and textures is fantastic. And, we just love color-themed foods. Verde vegan tacos for the win!
About the Company: One Degree Organics goal is to bring food straight from a farm to your table so there’s only one degree of separation between you and person who grew your food (like a farmer’s market). The story of the family farmers who grow every ingredient is on QR code on the package! All of One Degree’s products are sprouted, traceable, organic, and non-GMO project verified. An incredible amount of care goes into all of their products (sprouted grain flours, cereals, breads, and granolas), and it was easy to see the passion that drives this company forward.
Place the cashews in a bowl and soak them for 20 minutes while boiling the lentils.
Place the lentils in a pot with 6 cups warm water. Bring to a low boil, then boil for about 15 minutes until al dente (taste often). Drain, then stir in the olive oil, cumin, garlic powder, and kosher salt.
Thinly slice the green onions and cabbage. If using, chop the avocado.
Meanwhile, place the cilantro, lime juice, water, and kosher salt in a high speed blender. After at least 20 minutes (when the lentils are done), drain the cashews and add them to the bowl. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth. Add more water as you go if needed. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if desired. Pour the cilantro drizzle into a small bowl.
Warm the tortillas according to the package instructions. (We typically char ours on an open flame, but that’s not the preferred method with the One Degree tortillas.)
To serve, top the tortillas with lentils, green onions, green cabbage, salsa verde, torn cilantro leaves, and cilantro drizzle.
One night. 350 dinner party hosts. Hundreds of guests in 25 countries and 50 US states. And one cookbook: Pretty Simple Cooking.
On February 17, 2018, hundreds of people gathered worldwide to cook a meal using recipes from the same cookbook (our new book!), Pretty Simple Cooking. And what an event it was. Comments have poured in about how guests felt connected not only to family and friends, but to others all over the world. No mention of liberal, conservative, Christian, agnostic, pro this or pro that…the Pretty Simple Dinner Party became a way to celebrate some of the pretty simple good things in lives all over the world—food, family, friends!
For Alex and I, who fiercely believe food is the great uniter, it was one of the most meaningful nights of our lives. (Save our wedding day and the birth of our son Larson, of course.)
Alex and I first dreamed up the idea as a worldwide cookbook club—a party where each person cooks a different recipe from the same book. With cookbook clubs becoming an online trend, we thought: what if we invited the entire world to a giant cookbook club? The release of our book Pretty Simple Cooking was a perfect excuse to throw a party. Starting in October, we began to invite friends and followers to join in the fun. By February, we had 350 hosts on board, at least one in every US state and 25 countries around the world!
If you’re reading this and were part of a Pretty Simple Dinner Party, we cannot thank you enough for joining in. It was an incredible, magical night that united all of us together through a virtual “table”. To catch photos from parties all over the globe, search the hashtag #PrettySimpleDinnerParty on Instagram!
And now, some highlights and photos from dinner party hosts:
Alex and I hosted a Pretty Simple Dinner Party in downtown Indianapolis with the help of our friend photographer Kelley Schuyler. It was at the Hinge Bureau (a co-working space) with greenery by Wildwood Market and party planning and photography by Kelley Jordan Photography (credit for all three photos above). Our dinner was Spanish themed, featuring the Veggie Supreme Paella, Spanish cheese boards, Irresistible Tomato Almond Dip, and Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake. It was an incredible evening with all guests gathered around the communal paella pans!
Here are some highlights from parties around the globe:
“Thanks again so much to you and Alex for writing your beautiful book and getting so many hundreds of people around the table last night! It was so fun to scroll through the hashtag and see the different parties all over the world. On top of everything, every single recipe we tried was incredible! It was so fun to sample so many of the recipes and when we went around the table to explain what each of us made, no joke, everyone said to some extent how simple the recipe was!”
-Reba in Indiana
(Photos by Reba below; her menu featured the Falafel Burgers with Yogurt Dill Sauce and Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Rice Sausage)
“Can we please do it again?! Thanks for the excuse and the inspiration! I’m obsessed with your cookbook. The recipes and pics are fab but even take a backseat to the beautiful message behind the words you’ve put to page. Love the message in the pages of this book. And our menu choices were delicious successes!”
-Janell in Illinois
“It was an incredible experience to be part of this celebration. This was a really creative way to bring people together and we had a lot of fun in the process. The food came out so good and now I’m hooked and definitely plan on making all the recipes in the cookbook–which by the way is now my favorite cookbook of all time!”
-Sarai in Nevada (Photos of Sarai’s party below, credit to her; featuring the Goat Cheese and Heirloom Tomato Pizza and Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake)
“I’ve never been one to actually be interested in vegetarianism or anything, yet everything we made was so amazing, so flavorful that I’ve committed to starting to eat like that more often. Everything felt so filling, yet light. I was surprised to know all ingredients were very affordable and we were able to enjoy our little dinner immensely. By far the cookie was the most delicious thing we’ve ever tasted. I can’t believe I’ve lived this long without eating this. I’m so grateful we got to do this..not only because we needed something different for a night, but because it opened a whole different way of eating I’m actually looking forward to. I owe you a great deal for all of this.”
-Alex in the Dominican Republic
“My theme for the Pretty Simple dinner party was a Mediterranean feast and dedicated it to my kids. I knew for sure that as soon as they got back from school and saw the table set they were going to be excited. My kids love hummus and Mediterranean food, so the Layered Mediterranean Hummus Platter from Sonja and Alex’s cookbook was a total success between them!”
“It was quite moving having so many people around the world sharing a common idea, preparing the same day, through maybe all hemispheres, the same recipes from just one book and united in the pleasure of being together and having a good time peacefully.” -Fátima in Portugal
“I have to admit, between working my regular office job, starting the farm business, and life that comes with having two pre-teen kids, I started having second thoughts about having a dinner party. If it wouldn’t have been for you two planning this special night, I would have missed out on probably the most fun dinner party I’ve ever hosted. There was nothing out of the ordinary, just good food and old and new friends, but I think everyone there needed last night to take a break from life. What I thought would be a couple of hours around the table turned into 5.5 hours of laughter and stories. Several people said they didn’t want to leave. You’re idea was a huge success here and I can’t thank you enough!” –Jennifer in Indiana
“Thank you a million times for this amazing idea :) It was more than having dinner with loved ones, it was celebrating the joy of eating amazing food with amazing people all over the world! We truly appreciated this moment and will make more pretty simple dinners with all our friends as soon as our book arrives at our home :) The Eggplant Parmesan Casserole: a new go to for my dinners! I will make it for my Italian in-laws visiting us next weekend! Merci merci merci and keep doing amazing things like this!” -Lauriane & Alex from Switzerland
(Photo credit to Lauriane, featuring Crisp Green Salad with Apple, Eggplant Parmesan Casserole, and Raspberry Balasamic Parfaits)
“We had such an amazing time! Everyone brought one of your dishes so we got to try a ton of your recipes. So accessible and delicious!” -Erinn in Indiana (photos below by Erinn Bridgeman)
“Thank you for empowering me in the kitchen!! The Eggplant Parmesan Casserole and Bliss Bites will be in rotation at our house. The book is amazing. Thanks for creating a place for the world to share, connect, and enjoy good food without the fuss. Enjoy!” –Kristen in Indiana
(photos below by Kristin; preparing and final Eggplant Parmesan Casserole)
“The recipes I made were fabulous, I mean, who doesn’t love a flourless chocolate cake. But the “The Best” Veggie Lasagna…oh…my…gosh. I will never make a different recipe unless my husband begs me to, and that won’t happen because he loved it too. The tomato sauce had sooo much flavor, and I absolutely love the lemon flavor that comes from the cheese layers. It’s amazing how much that adds to the overall dish. I’ve made four recipes from the books so far (cornmeal pancakes and bliss bites in addition to the dinner party selections), and they have all been great. I look forward to cooking my way through the book. Thanks so much for including me as part of your Pretty Simple Dinner Party. It was fun to see what everyone was making, and to feel like part of such a big party.” -Kristin in Missouri
“Tonight I attended the virtual dinner hosted by Sonja and Alex from A Couple Cooks on the occasion of the release of their cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking. I received their book yesterday and the recipes are just perfect: vegetarian recipes, simple and good. Tonight, with my husband we ate Ricotta Gnocchi alla Vodka and Apple Cherry Cardamom Crumble. I will end with a quote from their book that speaks to me particularly and that brings me back to my relationship with the kitchen “The only way to make the kitchen part of your life […] is, really, to fall in love. fall in love with the process, the tastes and smells […]” -Wadji in Paris (translated from French, photo by Wadji)
“I just wanted to share a little about our Pretty Simple dinner party – we had a blast. We were a party of six (myself, husband, 11-month old daughter, brother, and grandparents) and it was a delightful evening! I love any excuse to bring out my china. Everything was amazing! I thought I hated fennel, the Fennel, Pomegranate, & Arugula Salad has converted me. I could not get over how fresh and delicious it was. Everyone was raving about it! The Eggplant Parmesan Casserole I had to make this dairy and grain free, but the flavors were delicious and it will definitely be added into our regular rotation of meals! My grandmother kept asking me when the next one is! Thank you again for facilitating this. It’s amazing how food (and social media) can connect strangers all over the world.” -Sarah in Ontario (photos of Sarah’s party below, photo credit to her)
It’s easy to get stuck to your desk cranking out work day after day, in any career. But keeping your head down can also make things stale. Though it might not check boxes off of the To Do list, making time for adventure and new experiences is key to staying at the top of your game. This is especially true for Alex and me as recipe developers. Try as we might to “crank out” recipes in our test kitchen, one of the best ways we get inspired is getting out and tasting new flavors–at restaurants in our city and all over the world.
One of the first times I tasted bahn mi was visiting my sister in Laos. She took me to a little Vietnamese restaurant where she regularly ordered banh mi. I went for the vegetarian version, filled with egg and topped with delightful pickled vegetables.
This vegan banh mi, however, is inspired by a visit to a restaurant here in Indianapolis called The Garden Table. It’s an incredible juicery and fresh eatery here in town that features everything from bacon to açaí bowls. My friend Nicole was in town visiting and at lunch I ordered a vegan banh mi: which, I know from the email notes I sent to myself after eating it! I loved the idea of using hummus to stand in for a meaty flavor in a vegan banh mi. The original used a sun-dried tomato hummus, but I wanted to find a way to bring in more Asian flavors like ginger and lime.
This is how our ginger lime hummus was born, and combined with some quick pickled vegetables on a fluffy baguette, it’s incredibly delightful. This vegan main dish takes just 20 minutes to put together, including making the hummus. And the best part of this vegan banh mi? A traditional slather of creamy mayonnaise, which puts it over the top! It’s a lovely quick weeknight dinner that features big flavors with low effort.
To make the pickled vegetables: Thinly slice the cabbage and measure out 2 cups. Thinly slice the onion and cucumber. Place the cabbage, onion and cucumber in a bowl and stir together with the white wine vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, and kosher salt. Allow to stand at room temperature while you make the hummus.
To prepare the Peel the carrot into ribbons. If using, thinly slice the jalapeno pepper. Tear the leaves from the cilantro. Slice the baguettes in half.
To serve, take the bottom baguette piece and pull out some of the soft bread to make a well. (This helps to keep the sandwich together while eating.) Spread the well with hummus, then top with the pickled veggies. Add carrot ribbons, sliced jalapenos (if using) and cilantro. Spread the top baguette with mayonnaise and serve.