Quick and Easy Chana Masala

I haven’t had many strange cravings during this pregnancy so far (except for maybe chocolate milk… but let’s be real, who doesn’t crave that normally?), but one thing I can say is that now that the weather is getting a tiny bit cooler, I want stew every night! Last week I made a crock pot minestrone stew that somehow didn’t make it onto the blog, and this week I wanted something spicy! Chana masala sounded really good.

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Farmers’ Market Greek Salad

It’s hard to believe that August is almost over, which means that my news feed is already filled with back-to-school ads and tips for getting back into a fall routine.

While Ben and I don’t have any school-aged kids yet, this time of year always feels a bit nostalgic to me. I LIVED for school supplies shopping and getting a new pair of Sambas. I remember my grandma used to take us B2S clothes shopping and we were allowed to buy a whole outfit. I felt so cool in my flared Gap jeans and patterned socks.

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Marrakesh Carrots with Cumin-Spiked Yogurt Sauce

Wow, it’s been a while! Just popping in for my (embarrassed to admit) FIRST post of 2018!

How is your year shaping up?

Now that it’s almost spring, I wanted to kick off the season with one of my newest favorites: Marrakesh carrots. I got the idea for this from a cookbook I got for my birthday last year called Bowl and Spoon, written by Sara Forte, the author of The Sprouted Kitchen blog. I guess I’ve had a thing for turmeric lately, because last week I made a version of my sister’s Moroccan Red Lentil Soup which has a ton of it. I swear every mixing spoon in my kitchen is now orange.

Marrakesh Carrots

I mixed things up a little with this recipe, especially in the dressing, where I added in some tahini and red wine vinegar. Plus more spices because I can’t help it. Finished with a cumin-spiked yogurt sauce and feta.

You could serve this for lunch or as a side for dinner. The chickpeas and tahini dressing, plus the protein in the yogurt sauce, give it enough staying power for a meal. I also served ours with warm pita!

Hope you enjoy!

Marrakesh Carrots with Cumin-Spiked Yogurt Sauce
Recipe Type: Salad, Side
Cuisine: Moroccan, Marrakesh, Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
A healthy salad with staying power! Inspired by the flavors of Morocco, this carrot salad is sure to be a hit!
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs whole carrots, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped roughly
  • 5-6 green onions
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • For yogurt sauce (optional): Plain yogurt, lemon juice, cumin
  • Chopped pistachios
  • Crumbled feta
Instructions
  1. Use food processor (shredding disc) to shred carrots. Set aside in a big bowl.
  2. In same food processor (S blade), pulse red onion, green onion, cilantro, and a drizzle of olive oil. Add chickpeas and pulse 2-3 times until roughly chopped. Add mixture to carrots.
  3. To make dressing, pulse together remaining ingredients and pour over salad.
  4. Stir in raisins and toss well.
  5. For yogurt sauce, whisk together 1/4 cup low-fat plain yogurt, 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, and a pinch of cumin. Add water as needed to thin. Set aside.
  6. Chill salad until ready to serve, then top with yogurt sauce, chopped pistachios, feta, and more cilantro.
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Have a great week!

Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad

Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad

Happy Labor Day! Will you be relaxing at home, or potluck-hopping your way through the day? We have a few get-togethers planned, one of which is a potluck, so I thought I’d give summer one last hurrah and whip up this pasta salad to bring.

I’m always looking for recipes that make perfect leftovers to last us throughout the week. Salads seem to do the trick because they are so versatile and last a long time! Ben has also been asking for more pasta recently, since he has started eating pescatarian with me.

I was so pleased with the way this salad came out. Homemade walnut pesto is the perfect dressing! Just don’t make the mistake I did of adding the pasta when it’s still too hot, otherwise it will just absorb all the pesto! Allow your pasta to cool to room temp first so you don’t have to make more pesto later.

You could also add black olives, salami or pepperoni to this salad and it would be even better!

Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad
Recipe Type: Salad, picnic
Cuisine: vegetarian, healthy
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Perfect for your Labor Day potluck or to last for the short week ahead!
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 box whole wheat rotini
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 8 oz mini mozzarella balls (“perlines”)
  • 1 bag chopped kale
  • 1 cup frozen peas
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients for pesto except for the olive oil and vinegar. Pulse on high until roughly chopped, then drizzle in oil and vinegar until smooth. Add more water or oil if you like!
  2. Prepare pasta to al dente and drain, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.
  3. Return 1 cup pasta water to the pot and add kale. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to low until kale is steamed. Remove from heat.
  4. Return pasta to pot and add tomatoes, red onion, mozzarella balls, and peas.
  5. When pasta has cooled, toss with pesto and serve!

Walnut Pesto Pasta Salad

Enjoy!

Mediterranean Grain Bowl

Mediterranean Grain Bowl

Mediterranean Grain Bowl
Recipe Type: Vegetarian, Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Roasted cauliflower with warm notes of schawarma spice and zoodles are perfect additions to this Middle Eastern inspired grain salad!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa or blend
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 green or red peppers, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 4 tbsp schawarma spice (2 tbsp ground coriander + 1 tsp each of cinnamon, cumin + 1/2 tsp each turmeric, ginger, black pepper)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, drained
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Add 1 cup quinoa blend to 2 cups boiling water. Lower to simmer for 15 minutes and remove from heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high and add garlic, peppers, tomato, onion, and 2 tbsp schawarma spice. Cook until tender.
  3. Add juice of lemon, parsley, vinegar, olives, and 1 tbsp olive oil to bowl of a food processor. Pulse on high until roughly chopped.
  4. Add white beans and remaining schawarma spice, and pulse a few more times until chopped (you don’t want a paste!)
  5. In a large bowl, toss together warm quinoa, white bean mixture, and pepper and onion mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with roasted cauliflower, feta, and sliced avocado.

Mediterranean Grain Bowl

Layered Mezze Platter and My Search for the Perfect Hummus

I’ve been on the HUNT for the best hummus in the Triangle. There’s nothing like a fluffy, creamy, not-too-oily hummus to make my mouth water. I’ve even thought about starting my own small-batch hummus-making business… but then someone suggested I could call it “Claire’s Humpy Hummus” and the idea immediately got tabled. Maybe one day you will see some “Humpy Hummus” in the store and you’ll know where credit is due.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon Soom Soom Pita Pockets, a food truck in Durham that often parks at our favorite brewery, Ponysaurus. I tried their hummus, served with a giant pita pocket, and I was hooked. It was drippy without being watery, creamy without being weighed down by oil, and came with a little dollop of tahini sauce on top.

Y’all, I quickly ran out of pita. But gosh be darned, I finished that hummus with a spoon. 

I asked the servers what they do to make this hummus so perfect. They weren’t shy about telling me that they actually puree roasted vegetables into the mixture. Genius! I knew I’d have to try out the technique to see if I could whip up something similar.

I took their recommendation of adding roasted carrots and cauliflower, but I also threw in a few sweet potatoes to see what happened. The result was not quite as good as Soom Soom, but totally a triumph in my book. Including more veggies also meant I didn’t need to use as much tahini or oil. I’ve found that adding a few ice cubes also makes the hummus really fluffy.

My new hummus creation made the perfect base for this Mediterranean layered mezze platter! Instead of the classic Mexican 7-layer dip, I topped hummus with veggies and crispy chickpeas for something a little fancier.

Layered Mezze Platter

From bottom to top: homemade sweet potato hummus (so fluffy!), quinoa and lentil blend, sautéed swiss chard, garlic roasted tomatoes and carrots, crispy curried chickpeas and cauliflower, kalamata olives, feta + cilantro. Pita points on the side for dipping instead of chips!

This dip could also easily make a meal if you served it with extra greens. Or just let your guests dip their pita directly into the dish. Complete with protein, healthy fats, and hearty grains, make sure to add this one to your Memorial Day spread.

Layered Mezze Platter
Recipe Type: Appetizer, Entree
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Vegetarian, Vegan
Author: Claire McCormick of Claire Tastes
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Fancify your 7-layer dip with a Mediterranean spin on the old Mexican classic! Homemade hummus serves as a perfectly light and creamy base, topped with healthy grains, curried vegetables and wilted greens. Serve hot or cold!
Ingredients
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 tsp minced garlic, divided
  • 6-7 plum tomatoes, halved
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup quinoa and lentil blend
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and stalks
  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 cup nutritional yeast, divided
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • juice of one lemon
  • 6-8 cups fresh swiss chard, rinsed and chopped roughly
  • 1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1/4 cup feta
  • cilantro
  • pita points for serving
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 deg.
  2. Pat chickpeas dry.
  3. On a large baking sheet, spread carrots, sweet potatoes, cauliflower stalks, and tomatoes. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 425 for 20 minutes until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, cook quinoa/lentil blend according to package directions (about 2:1 water to grains), minus 1-2 minutes until al dente. Drain if necessary.
  5. In a large bowl, toss half the chickpeas, cauliflower florets, 2 tbsp olive oil, curry powder, 1/4 cup nutritional yeast, cumin, juice of 1/2 lemon, and salt and pepper. Spread on another baking sheet. Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Add tahini, remaining chickpeas, 1/2 cup nutritional yeast, lemon juice, and tahini to bowl of a food processor. When carrots and sweet potatoes are done, add them with the cauliflower stalks. (Leaving out the tomatoes and a few of the carrots). Process on high until blended, then drizzle in olive oil and 2-3 tbsp water until smooth and fluffy. (For extra fluffy hummus, throw in 1-2 ice cubes).
  7. Saute swiss chard in a large saute pan until wilted. Shock by rinsing under cold water, then squeeze firmly to get out all the water.
  8. In a large casserole dish, layer hummus, quinoa/lentils, swiss chard, roasted tomatoes and carrots, and crispy chickpeas/cauliflower. Top with kalamata olives, feta and cilantro.
  9. To serve warm: Heat (covered) at 350 for 10 minutes, then broil (uncovered) on high for 2-3 minutes until crisped.
  10. Serve with pita points, extra cilantro and yogurt sauce, if desired.

Layered Mezze Platter

Dig in!

Happy long weekend!

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Happy October! Even though it’s hard every year to see summer come to a close, I can’t help but feel a little excited thinking about the hustle and bustle of fall- back to school, turning the heat on for the first time, bubble baths, crisp evenings, and all things apples. Next week Ben and I are taking our annual apple picking trip to Carter Mountain– my favorite day of the year! Bring on the winesap, stayman, and apple cider doughnuts! Crossing my fingers for good weather up there!

This week, right on cue, I started craving roasted vegetables. For some reason I’ve been super into eggplant recently. Maybe because of it’s slightly meaty texture and the fact that you can customize it with just about any spice.

For this one, I went for an Indian curry profile, using garam masala (my favorite new spice blend- have you tried it in my Brown Butter Molasses Cookies yet?) and cumin to spice things up. I tossed on a can of chickpeas, as well as some red onion, tomato, sliced zucchini, and cauliflower.

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I could not stop eating this right off the sheet. #trueconfessions

You could do a lot with these roasted veggies alone, like put them in a stew, serve as a side dish for a beautiful autumnal salad, or do what I did and use them in a grain bowl! I had some cooked lentil and farro, so I tossed some of these on top of the grains with some spinach, then topped with a nice runny egg and some feta crumbles. I bet goat cheese would be excellent as well!

Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

Roasted Zucchini Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl

(Side note: have you tried the Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Hot Stuff Sauce at Whole Foods? I am obsessed. We are having a game night tonight and I may just have to make them.)

Hope you enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower Grain Bowl
Recipe Type: Salad, Main Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Indian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Looking for a hearty but healthy salad to celebrate the beginning of autumn? Try this spicy and savory grain bowl with a nice big Indian kick!
Ingredients
  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced into discs 1/4″ thick
  • 3-4 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1 head cauliflower, brokein into florets
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 can garbanzo beans
  • extra virgin olive oil (about 3-4 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp garam masala or other Indian spice blend
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Optional: cooked grain (I used lentils/farro), egg, feta or goat cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg.
  2. Line two large cookie sheets with silpat or cooking spray.
  3. Layer eggplant and zucchini on sheet so that they are slightly overlapping. Top with red onion and drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together all spices until combined. Sprinkle on about half of this mixture to the vegetables.
  5. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas, drizzle with remaining olive oil and spice blend.
  6. Bake at 400 deg for 50 minutes until chickpeas are crispy and cauliflower is golden-brown.
  7. Allow to cool, then remove from pan and use on top of your favorite grains for a satisfying and healthy side, or top with poached egg and crumbled feta to make it a meal!
Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower

Roasted Eggplant and Curried Cauliflower