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In order for a salad to achieve entree status, it must be exciting, varied in texture, and include higher calorie ingredients to keep me sated (think meat, cheese, nuts, avocado…). This salad is colorful, crunchy, and doesn’t skimp on flavor.

2 hearts of romaine, torn into bite-size pieces
1 head radicchio, thin slice
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 roasted red peppers, thin slice
4 oz salami, medium dice
10 oz croutons (homemade from stale bread will make this dish extra-special, but store-bought is just fine in a pinch. I used whole wheat focaccia to make homemade croutons)
2 oz pecorino, shaved
Vinaigrette of your choice (lemon or red wine vinaigrette is particularly well suited for this salad)

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat.

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For some reason–perhaps it’s the pronounciation–I’ve always shied away from making clafoutis. A recent trip to my local farmers’ market compelled me to purchase cape gooseberries, and figured they would be a great stand-in for traditional cherries in this French dessert. The berries are sweet and tart, with a lingering, almost nagging, tomato flavor.

I used this recipe from John Besh via Epicurious. The only thing I did differently was add a pint of cape gooseberries.

Straight from the oven, the clafoutis is beautiful: puffed like a souffle and a gentle golden brown. In the time it took me to swiftly bring it to the front door for a close-up, it was dead-on-arrival. How did it taste? Kind of like a big, thick crepe, or a sweet, dense pancake. Not bad, but I feel this could use some tweaking in the future, especially since it lends itself to fruits of all seasons. Either way, it was a nice little project that came together quickly and satisfied our inevitable nighttime dessert binge. Next time, this will serve as breakfast in lieu of French toast.

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Featuring spring carrots, these muffins are a healthy alternative to sweet morning confections. I started with a Carrot Apple Muffin recipe from Whole Foods, and tweaked it a good bit to make them vegan. The whole wheat pastry flour makes the muffins tender, applesauce keeps them moist, and coconut oil gently perfumes the end result.

1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup grated carrots (from about 3 medium carrots)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp flax meal, soaked in 6 Tbsp water
1/4 cup almond milk (or any other milk alternative)
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. “Butter” (with coconut oil) and flour a 12-cup standard muffin tin or use muffin papers. Set aside. (I used a non-stick muffin tin and omitted this step with great results.)
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, combine carrots, applesauce, soaked flax meal mixture, almond milk, coconut oil and vanilla.
5. Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended then add the rest of the carrot mixture.
6. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake about 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

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Notes from attempt #1: (Baking time: 20 minutes) Delicious, tender, moist, lovely! The only problem is the muffins are tiny tiny tiny–they barely rose in the oven. Definitely worth re-doing again (and again and again) to figure out what went wrong, because they are that delicious!

Notes from attempt #2: (Baking time 16 minutes) The muffins are still very small, but a tad bit larger than the previous attempt–but I’m okay with that! It’s a great guilt-free treat that compliments breakfast or completes a mid-afternoon snack.

Estimated nutrition facts: 130 calories, 6 g fat, 16 g carbohydrates (2 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 2 g protein, vitamin A 30%

I’ve been wanting to make this chilled soup for a while, but wasn’t expecting anything earth-shattering. This recipe, however, is pretty spectacular. Rich, luscious, and creamy, it is a meal in itself. A garnish of the soup’s main ingredients gives texture to the final dish, which looks like it came straight from a restaurant kitchen.

1 3/4 cups diced cucumber (1/2 large hothouse), plus more for garnish
1 cup green grapes, plus more for garnish
1 cup slivered or sliced almonds, plus more for garnish
1 clove garlic
1 cups cubed baguette (1/2 a demi-baguette)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender.
2. Add 2 cups water to the blender and whirl until smooth.
3. Divide evenly among bowls and garnish with diced cucumber, green grapes (halved), almonds, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

Serves 2-4

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With these 40- and 50-degree days, I am getting ready for spring. This salad takes advantage of crisp, raw asparagus, both shaved with a vegetable peeler and thinly sliced for both texture and presentation. Served alongside stewed chicken to lighten the fare.

1 bunch asparagus (the thicker the stalks, the better)
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup pecorino, shaved (using a vegetable peeler)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel and discard the rough, bottom inch or two of the asparagus stalks.
2. Peel half the asparagus stalks over a bowl. Do not peel the tips: leave them whole.
3. Thinly slice the other half of the asparagus on a bias, again, leaving the tips intact.
4. Add pine nuts (I left them raw out of sheer laziness, but feel free to toast), shaved pecorino, olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Gently toss to combine.

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It’s Spring, and I must accept it. I, the minority, am annoyed with the lack of the white stuff this winter, and the reality that I’ll have to let another year pass before I’ll be able to cruise down a mountain tumble down a hill on my snowboard on my butt.

To comfort my sorrows, I whipped up a big batch of arugula pesto. And it worked. I mean, who could complain while eating something that looks like this?:

In a food processor, combine arugula, Parmesan cheese, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, and S & P, using water to thin it out to the desired consistency. Since only a small amount of arugula will fit in the food processor at a time, continue to add more arugula in batches, adjusting the other ingredients and seasoning to your taste.

I tossed the pesto with bow tie pasta, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, and a bit more grated Parmesan cheese on top.

And though I’m still not completely ready to start a new season, I look forward to the pesto.