Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew / www.loveandlemons.com

Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be all about fancy cooking and elaborate meals. If pasta making sounds too stressful, try this cozy one-pot stew that’s perfect for two. (With maybe a little leftover, if you eat less than we do).

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew / www.loveandlemons.com

It doesn’t get much easier than this – sauté leeks and mushrooms in an oven-safe pot or this adorable heart shaped one. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, couscous and – the fancy part – a few pinches of saffron. Yes, saffron is expensive but a little goes a long way. Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day so let’s live a little.

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew / www.loveandlemons.com Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew / www.loveandlemons.com

Pop it in the oven and bake until the couscous has absorbed most of the water, then stir in a few handfuls of spinach. The heat of the stew will wilt the spinach. Enjoy with crusty bread and a good spanish red wine.

Saffron Couscous & Spinach Stew / www.loveandlemons.com

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls / www.loveandlemons.com

As a kid, I was obsessed with everything rainbow – my Rainbow Brite doll, a fresh new Crayola 64 pack (with built in sharpener!), and best of all – the rainbow-neon terminal at O’hare airport. Pure magic.

I couldn’t get enough, which is probably why I get a little too excited whenever I see rainbow chard pop up at the farmers market. I’m not much of a gardener (black thumb over here), so it’s mesmerizing to me that those bright pink, red, and neon yellow stems actually grow from the ground.

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls / www.loveandlemons.com

What I love to do is chop up the stems separate from the greens and sauté them in the pan for about 30 seconds before adding the leafy greens. They add such a great crunch to your dish – don’t ever toss them. (If you have extra stems, you can always pickle them for later).

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls / www.loveandlemons.com Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls / www.loveandlemons.com

These bowls are simple and warm and they are all about the chard. I made some whole wheat orzo and tossed it with a little olive oil, garlic, dijon and lemon. (Mustard and chard are a really terrific flavor match). I toped each bowl with a healthy serving of chard, a little feta cheese and some toasted walnuts.

Quick beauty tip: you’ll want to serve these bowls with the ingredients assembled rather than tossed together. (As the colors run together it’s just not the prettiest!).

Rainbow Chard & Feta Orzo Bowls / www.loveandlemons.com

Pear & Arugula Chickpea Salad

Pear & Arugula Chickpea Salad / www.loveandlemons.com

I realize this post might not be the most timely. If you’re snowed in, chances are you’re not reaching for a cold salad – BUT it’s not snowing here and nothing will ever stop me from craving big bright salads for lunch. (If you need something hot today, click here, here, or here).

My lunch salads are what I would call “kitchen sink” style. I toss whatever veggies I happen to have into a bowl… often with chickpeas and a bit of feta cheese or a scoop of hummus. For crunch, I add toasted nuts and/or hemp seeds. And to bring it all together I almost always have a sweet element. This time: soft, juicy ripe pears. (If you don’t have pears, diced apples would work well here too!)

Pear & Arugula Chickpea Salad / www.loveandlemons.com

Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos

Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos / www.loveandlemons.com

People often ask me how to make vegetarian meals that are filling. One of my go-to answers lately is this: put stuff in a tortilla. Roasted vegetables, beans, eggs, hummus… really anything goes when I’m making impromptu tacos. This winter, I’ve been especially into these hearty sweet potato tacos.

Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos / www.loveandlemons.com

They start pretty basic: roast sweet potatoes and add black beans to your flour or corn tortillas. To brighten it all up I make a creamy sauce by blending avocado with lime and greek yogurt. When I don’t have yogurt on hand I’ll often make a vegan version with cashew cream (see the recipe for details).

Sweet Potato Avocado Tacos / www.loveandlemons.com