Asparagus Ribbon, Mint & Pea Pesto Toasts

Asparagus Ribbon, Mint & Pea Pesto Toasts

If you love asparagus, but the people you’re living with don’t, this post is for you. Even if you’re just blasé about asparagus, like I used to be, give it a chance by ribboning it! You’ll completely avoid that unpleasant fibrous, stringy experience because thin, raw ribbons tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper are so fresh and delicious. You can toss them in salads, put them on pizza… last weekend we ate them on fancy toast because these happened to be the ingredients that I had on hand.

Asparagus Ribbon, Mint & Pea Pesto Toasts

To make the ribbons, you need some fat asparagus (thin spears don’t work as well for this) and a sharp vegetable peeler. Peel the spears into thin strips and season them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It’s amazing that the way a vegetable is cut can completely change its flavor.

Asparagus Ribbon, Mint & Pea Pesto Toasts

So pretty!

Asparagus Ribbon, Mint & Pea Pesto Toasts

I assembled these toasts with my go-to pea and mint pesto. The peas make for a thick, veggie-ful pesto, although you’ll hardly taste them (a great way to hide more veggies). I used frozen peas because they’re so easy to keep on hand.

Assemble your toasts with the ingredients pictured above, or any variation of your choosing. Top with soft boiled eggs if you like, although they are optional!

Asparagus Ribbon, Mint & Pea Pesto Toasts

Pesto Pasta with Arugula

Pesto Pasta with Arugula

The first snow came early in Chicago this year. It was barely November and we were driving to an appointment. It was snowing, and then all of the sudden it went from “really charming” to “wow it’s really coming down!” Now I learned to drive in snow, so I know how to pump the brakes (before anti-lock brakes existed) and to turn into the slide. But after living in Austin for so many years, I got soft. It was always funny to me how the slightest hint of snow in Texas meant that schools were closed and roads were abandoned, but when our first real snow day happened here in Chicago, my first though was “how many people are really going to be on the road?” Well, the answer ended up being way too many – we sat in the cold car way too long, wearing way too-light coats, staring at brake lights and a grey sky. I thought – really – what have we done?? I write a blog about vegetables, I’m shooting a book that’s due before May (when the spring farmers markets open) and we’ve moved so far from the sun!

We got to where we were going – an industrial area in the Pullman neighborhood where, situated on the roof of the Method production facility, is Gotham Greens. I’ve been obsessed with their locally grown greens the moment I came across their deliciously spicy arugula (among other greens) earlier this year at Whole Foods. We got a tour of their rooftop greenhouse and even though it was cold and miserable outside, it was so warm and sunny up there. There was a sea of the softest butter lettuces, my favorite spicy arugula, and the loveliest scent of fresh basil. My first two thoughts were: 1. Could I just hang out up here all winter? I could bring my laptop and maybe they could put a desk in a sunny corner for me? and 2. How hard would it be to build a greenhouse on our rooftop so that I could go up and pick local fresh produce (and hang out in the warmth) all winter?

Pesto Pasta with Arugula

Later that night, with a fridge full of greens and a pantry full of not much else, I made this five minute arugula pesto pasta because, well, we weren’t about to head out into the snow for any additional groceries. I used Gotham Greens’ vegan pesto, which I love, especially when I’m too lazy to make my own. This recipe for kale pesto would also be great here (and would be delicious using their fresh basil if you wanted basil pesto instead of kale pesto). The key to pesto pasta is to reserve some of that salty, starchy pasta water to loosen the pesto enough to make it a light sauce over the pasta.

Pesto Pasta with Arugula

Portobello Tacos w/ Vegan Jalapeño Sauce

Portobello Tacos w/ Creamy Vegan Jalapeño Sauce / loveandlemons.com

Today we’re celebrating Taco Wednesday, because oops, I missed Taco Tuesday. I know this because Jack has this new favorite t-shirt that says “Taco Tuesday,” and he gets a kick out of wearing it weekly when the event comes around.

But, really, we’re up for tacos any day of the week so here we go…

Portobello Tacos w/ Creamy Vegan Jalapeño Sauce / loveandlemons.com Portobello Tacos w/ Creamy Vegan Jalapeño Sauce / loveandlemons.com

If mushrooms aren’t your thing, don’t stop reading because this recipe is ALL about this sauce. I was going for a vegan cool ranch sort of thing with cashews, onion, garlic, roasted jalapeños, and cucumber (the cool part)… and while it’s not exactly a replica of everyone’s favorite midwestern condiment – it’s darn tasty.

It was delicious on these grilled portobello tacos. It was equally good on the fish tacos I ate the next day… and it was also good as a dressing on the kale & avocado salad I ate the day after. I always love a “blend once” eat 3 times kind of sauce.

Portobello Tacos w/ Creamy Vegan Jalapeño Sauce / loveandlemons.com

What I like about this creamy sauce is that you can make it as spicy as you like. Use 1/2 of a jalapeño for a mildly spicy sauce, 1 for medium, 2 for extra spicy. Start with less and taste, you can always add more. Pictured is a mild version (which is why it’s pretty white) because Mr. Taco Tuesday is a little sensitive about spice.

Portobello Tacos w/ Creamy Vegan Jalapeño Sauce / loveandlemons.com

Sara’s Strawberry Tabbouleh

Sara's Strawberry Tabbouleh / loveandlemons.com

After I posted my list of favorite spring cookbooks, I could tell that this is the book you’ve all been waiting for – and I’m here to tell you that Sara & Hugh Forte’s new book, Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon, doesn’t disappoint. The photos are of course gorgeous, and the food… well it makes you want to dig in with a spoon because it all looks so incredibly vibrant and delicious!

The book has been sitting on my desk for a little while now, among a slew of papers, books, and other messy-desk things – which is how this recipe from the back cover happened to catch my attention. I love tabbouleh, I love strawberries, and I love salads mixed with sweet and savory things, so here we go…

Sara's Strawberry Tabbouleh / loveandlemons.com

Instead of putting my own spin on things, I thought I’d go crazy and just follow the recipe exactly as Sara wrote it. (Except I didn’t have parsley so at the last minute, I chopped up basil). I don’t cook a lot with bulgur but I should – it’s so easy to make and I love how it has a more mellow flavor than quinoa. Of course, if you’re gluten free, go ahead and use quinoa in this recipe.

Sara's Strawberry Tabbouleh / loveandlemons.com

Feta is optional, but since she made a special note about how her “resident taste tester would argue it’s absolutely necessary,” I went for it. The only thing that was really missing here was the pretty picnic scene that should have been in the background. We ate this for dinner last night, but it would definitely be picnic-perfect.

Sara's Strawberry Tabbouleh / loveandlemons.com

Other recipes that are on my list: the Hippie Bowl (check out this cute post from A Couple Cooks), the Tahini Kale Slaw & Roasted Tamari Portobello Bowl, and this mixed berry tiramisu. Click here to get the book!

the Sprouted Kitchen Bowl + Spoon

Quinoa Quesadillas

quinoa quesadillas w/ black beans and sweet potatoes / loveandlemons.com

Happy day-after Halloween, who’s ready to cook? No one… That’s what I thought. So before we head to Thanksgiving Town, I thought I’d share another quick and easy (and tasty) meal you can throw together using last night’s leftovers…

quinoa quesadillas w/ black beans and sweet potatoes / loveandlemons.com quinoa quesadillas w/ black beans and sweet potatoes / loveandlemons.com

Just like the picture says – take your leftovers from this salad, add some black beans (maybe a few more spices), and some cheese… fold it into tortillas… then dig in to some pretty hearty & healthy quesadillas.

Of course, cook these on your stovetop and not on your marble countertop.