Years ago, Jack and I went on vacation to the island of Capri where we ate Caprese salads every day. We’d sit at hilltop restaurants overlooking the teal blue Mediterranean Sea. The air was warm, the wine was flowing, and the tomatoes were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. It was a few days after he had proposed and looking back it was the most blissfully happy week of our lives. Or at least that’s the way I remember it. I will spare you the story about strep throat, almost getting seasick on a hydrofoil ride, and trying to find an Italian pharmacy that would sell me an antibiotic. Those memories, while stressful in the moment, seem to fade into the background over time.
So while I remember those perfect 3-ingredient Caprese salads from Italy, I’m going to also, uhh, change the details and bring you my “re-remembered” version, with strawberries, avocado, and pecans! This recipe is in our cookbook and is one of my favorites. One of the reasons is that, well, it’s hard to find tomatoes that are quite as sweet as the ones in Capri, so this salad lets you get away with using less-than-perfect tomatoes (although the ones pictured here were pretty good) because the other ingredients pick up the slack, just like those less-than-perfect vacation memories!
It’ll take you all of about 15 minutes to make and it’s yummy with anything you’re grilling.
It’s Christmas week! Yay!
So… we still haven’t put up that tree, but I’ve been doing a whole bunch of baking to make up for it (for Christmas and also for other upcoming holidays).
These cookies are so good that I’ve made them quite a few times this month. We (ahem, Jack) kept eating them before actually getting around to taking photos of them. Since no one needs a January gingerbread cookie, we made them again this past weekend. Better late than never! Here we go – these spicy little guys are ready to share:
The cookies are naturally sweetened with coconut sugar and molasses which makes them sweet but not too sweet. They’re spiced with ginger, cinnamon and (a surprise spice) cardamom, which gives a nice warm flavor. I mixed in a little almond butter, which makes these so delicious that I couldn’t stop eating little pieces of the dough while I was mixing it together.
You could definitely decorate these if you like – I took a more minimal approach because these are really tasty on their own, and also my decorating skills aren’t really so hot. (Remember these?)
Make these cookies into your favorite cut-out shapes, OR take the easy (but still very delicious) way out and roll them into balls to make soft, chewy ginger cookies like these:
There’s a shaved Brussels sprout salad in our Cookbook (page 68) that’s one of my go-to salads in the fall and/or winter. It has a tangy citrusy dressing and it’s tossed with cranberries and pine nuts. A few weeks ago while I was planning to make that salad for Thanksgiving, I saw a sprout and ricotta toast recipe on Epicurious and got the idea that my favorite little salad would make a bright festive appetizer. Instead of using ricotta cheese to hold the filling onto the toast I used smashed avocado – because I can never resist yet another seasonal avocado toast.
This one is super simple and also pretty healthy as far as holiday fare goes. Assemble the salad (which you can do far in advance, if you like). Before your guests come, toast the toasts, smash the avocado and top each toast with a bit of the salad.
If you’re not having a party, these are equally delicious for lunch with a bowl of soup.
Thanksgiving is next week! I can hardly believe it, every year it seems to come around quicker and quicker. Here on the blog, I usually post a full menu of non-turkey day options as if I’m going to be cooking up the big holiday meal myself. In reality, Jack and I will be going to someone else’s house and I’ll likely bring the salad. So this year I thought I’d cut to the chase and post some of my favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. Because let’s be real, the sides are really the star of the show anyway.
pictured above: Vegan Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
Simple Lemon Green Beans / Kale & Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing
Sweet Potato Pomegranate Salad / Pumpkin Spiced Corn Muffins
Carrot Soup with Carrot Top Pesto
Poblano Cornbread Stuffing / Sweet Potato Pomegranate Crostini
Maple-Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts / Shredded Brussels Sprout & Apple Salad
As a kid, my favorite thing about Thanksgiving was hands down, the pumpkin pie. After the turkey was all done and the green bean casserole was divided into tupperware containers, the desserts would come out and my grandpa Donofrio would yell in a high pitched voice “Puuuuuuunkin Pieeeeee!” Always without the “m” sound because that’s the way my sister and I pronounced it back then. Years later, I would learn to prefer apple pie for dessert, but while my grandfather was at the table, his energy for pun-kin pie was infectious and this moment was the highlight of our holiday.
But here comes the less charming part of the memory: we’d all sit around eating our pie, but my sister and I (being the picky eaters that we were) would scoop out the creamy pumpkin middle and leave the shells of our crusts behind. The adults would shake their heads. Sometime’s I’d eat the crispy edge piece, but the soggy bottom crust? No thank you.
Which brings us to pumpkin pie parfaits! It’s what crust-less dreams are made of.
This recipe comes with a few options. I tested these a few of different ways and honestly both of these taste so good that I couldn’t choose a winner. One option uses cashews and coconut milk as the base and requires the use of a high speed blender. The other uses coconut cream and will work with any blender or food processor. In lieu of crust, I layered these with toasted chopped pecans. They are so easy and delicious, even if they are a bit of a modified tradition.