Fiesta Monday

Life is one big fiesta… why not eat like it?

Fiesta Salad
Fiesta Salad

Hello! How was your weekend? Ours was HOT and BUSY! Ben and I were teaching at a weekend seminar for our church’s Preparing for Marriage ministry. We met so many cool couples and had lots to talk about! In other news, I just wanted to say that my thoughts are with the victims and families of the shooting in Orlando… what a terribly hideous side of human nature. Praying that the Lord redeems every ounce of evil in this tragedy and uses it to bring this country closer to Himself.

Today I was craving Mexican.

I don’t know why, because I’ve had Mexican literally the last three days in a row. And all.the.chips. But who doesn’t love a good healthy Mexican salad?

Always down for that.

This fiesta bowl is a perfect meatless meal for Monday. I used a blend of quinoa, farro, and lentils cooked al dente and tossed with zucchini, bell pepper, red onion, and lots of canned things. Plus some fresh lemon and Mexican spices and cilantro. (I swear if any of you ever use that taco seasoning that comes in a packet I will hunt you down.)

You could serve this on its own (I like mine topped with a poached egg or some tofu, over spinach), or as a side dish with a non-vegetarian protein. Ben had it with a few slices of turkey meatloaf pizza I made earlier.

Enjoy!

Fiesta Salad
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12-15
Life is one big fiesta! Why not eat like it?
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup each quinoa, farro, and lentils
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 can each pinto and black beans, rinsed/drained
  • 1 can corn, rinsed
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each cumin, coriander, garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each chili powder and paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped roughly
Instructions
  1. In a large saucepan, combine grains and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining vegetables and spices.
  3. Drizzle in lemon juice and vinegar.
  4. Add the quinoa, farro, and lentil blend and toss to combine.
  5. Top with cilantro and additional salt and pepper to taste!
  6. Serve over greens or crusty bread, with protein of your choice!

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Happy fiesta week!

Farro Caprese Salad w/ Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette

Happy Memorial Day!

For me, Memorial Day always brings back memories of the town pool opening, our first al fresco dinner on the back deck, and licking melty fudgscicles that Dad would hand out the window as we played “Ice Cream Man.” For some reason those popsicles tasted so much better when you envisioned them being handed to you from an ice cream truck. Maybe I can get Ben to play “Ice Cream Man” with me this year.

Today it was actually a dreary, humid day here in Durham. Definitely NOT what one would hope for on a Memorial Day holiday. That’s ok- for all of you who follow me on Instagram, you know that I got my tanning time in on Saturday, when I lounged for a few hours by the pool, sipping on sun tea and catching up on Real Simple (I think I was still on April). Glorious!

Rainy weather or not, Memorial Day deserves a summery spread, so here we go! I’ve been dying to lighten up a caprese pasta salad recipe for some time now, so I decided to sub farro for pasta in order to pack a healthier and heartier punch. Farro is a very dense grain, much more al dente than quinoa or couscous, which makes it a perfect alternative to pasta. Cooked to al dente, farro also holds up well when tossed with any vinaigrette (quinoa tends to suck up all the extra liquid and get mealy, in my experience).

If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of farro, or the nutritional breakdown of farro vs. quinoa, be sure to check out the following links:

Huffington Post: What is Farro?

Farro Nutrition Breakdown

Quinoa Nutrition Breakdown

Farro Caprese Salad w/ Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette
Farro Caprese Salad w/ Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette

I also made my own pesto because I can never bring myself to pay $8+ for a tiny can of prepared pesto that is really half olive oil. This way I can control how much oil I want to add, and experiment with a few new flavors (like lemon!). I also made this batch with roasted, salted almonds because pine nuts are way too expensive.

Homemade Lemon Pesto
Homemade Lemon Pesto

I used some of the homemade pesto in the lemon pesto vinaigrette for the salad, and saved the rest in a mason jar for future dinners. It should last about three weeks in the fridge (or for three years in the freezer, if your brain works like mine does and you know that the freezer really stops time).

When the slightly sweet, tangy pesto vinaigrette is drizzled over farro mixed with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and roasted corn, this salad cannot be beat- rainy Memorial Day or not!

Farro Caprese Salad w/ Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Summer, Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 12
Happy Memorial Day! This farro salad is chewy and hearty, drizzled with homemade lemon pesto dressing that will not disappoint!
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup homemade lemon pesto (see recipe below)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp reserved farro liquid
  • 2 cups farro, uncooked (5 cups water)
  • 1/2 red onion, minced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 12 oz. container of mozzarella balls, halved (I used bocconcini)
  • 1/4 cup basil chiffonade (leaves cut into long strips)
  • Homemade Lemon Pesto:
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted almonds (if unsalted, add 1 tsp salt)
  • 3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup parmesan-romano cheese
Instructions
  1. Prepare farro according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water, reserving a bit of the starchy cooking liquid for later.
  2. Prepare pesto: In food processor, add the garlic and almonds, and pulse until smooth. Add the basil and lemon juice and continue to process on high, scraping down sides occasionally.
  3. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, then turn speed down to low and add the pepper and cheese. Pulse a few more times until blended.
  4. Store in a mason jar for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.
  5. Prepare the pesto vinaigrette: add 1/2 cup homemade pesto, balsamic vinegar, honey, and reserved farro liquid in a jar and shake vigorously.
  6. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve with additional salt and pepper to taste.
Prepare the lemon pesto in food processor.
Prepare the lemon pesto in food processor.
Fresh bocconcini!
Fresh mozzarella balls!
Supper al fresco, anyone?
Supper al fresco, anyone?

Happy Memorial Day, and Happy Summer to all!

Mediterranean Veggie Wraps

Mediterranean Veggie Wraps
Mediterranean Veggie Wraps

Happy Monday! Did y’all have a good weekend? Ben and I were pretty busy this weekend, driving up to Pittsburgh on Friday to celebrate his parents’ 30th wedding anniversary/Mother’s Day with all his siblings (minus one who is abroad!). It was a great weekend full of outdoor activities, food, and quality time. It’s fun to all be old enough now to actually get to have conversations about things like religion and politics. Well, maybe “fun” isn’t quite the right word… but it was precious time with everyone nonetheless!

We got back and our fridge was literally EMPTY. That’s ok, I have Mondays off! Today was spent restocking our pantry with lots of canned goods, fresh produce, and the ingredients for these Mediterranean Veggie Wraps. I originally got the idea for these from a Cooking Light recipe for Zucchini and Bean Burritos that you can easily make ahead and freeze. I thought these would be the perfect thing to make once and have a lot of leftovers to reheat later.

Instead of going the Mexican route, I adapted the recipe for a Mediterranean version (because, why not?) but followed the same steps: 1. Make the bean spread; 2. Make filling; 3. Fill tortillas and bake. The best part is that even after filling the wraps, I still had a lot of filling left that would make a great salad on its own. 1 recipe = 2 meals FTW!

I served Ben 2 of these, myself 1, with greek yogurt, avocado, and a side of green beans. Another delicious Meatless Monday recipe in the books! Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

Special thanks to Cooking Light Magazine for the inspiration for this post!

Cook veggies in skillet.
Cook veggies in skillet.
Cook until tender.
Cook until tender.
Cook carrots and mushrooms.
Cook carrots and mushrooms.
Pretty red peppers!
Pretty red peppers!
It would be easy to eat the filling right out of the bowl!
It would be easy to eat the filling right out of the bowl!
Fill tortillas as directed.
Fill tortillas as directed.
Place on hot baking sheet with green beans.
Place on hot baking sheet with green beans.
All nestled up!
All nestled up!
Enjoy!
Enjoy!
Mediterranean Veggie Wraps
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
Perfect for Meatless Monday, this delicious Mediterranean take on a Cooking Light Burrito recipe can be made ahead and frozen for later!
Ingredients
  • Bean Spread:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed/drained
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (reserve rest of juice from lemon)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • ~1 tbsp water
  • Filling:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 3 large carrots, peeled into long strips
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 jar roasted red pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced kalamata olives
  • remaining juice of lemon
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed/drained
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • coucous, uncooked
  • 10 whole grain tortillas
  • avocado and greek yogurt, for garnish (optional)
  • Green beans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 deg. Place baking sheet in oven as it preheats.
  2. In a saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil on medium-high heat. Add remaining ingredients for bean spread and stir to combine.
  3. Cook for 3-4 minutes, using potato masher or fork to mash beans so that spread has a chunky consistency. Remove from heat and add additional water to thin out the mixture if necessary!
  4. For filling, add remaining oil, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes to a large skillet and cook on medium for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add next 6 ingredients (zucchini through olives) and cook until vegetables are soft, about 2 more minutes. Remove entire mixture and combine in a large mixing bowl with lemon, beans, and salt and pepper.
  5. When ready to cook, spread about 3 tbsp filling on each tortilla, followed by 1 tbsp couscous, 1/2 cup vegetable filling, and 1 tsp feta.
  6. Fold edges in and roll each tortilla, placing seam side down on hot baking sheet sprayed lightly with cooking spray.
  7. Fill in space on baking sheet with green beans drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  8. Bake at 450 deg for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden-brown and beans are tender but not mushy.
  9. Serve with greek yogurt, avocado, and green beans.
  10. (To freeze leftovers, wrap cooled wraps in plastic wrap and seal in a freezer-safe bag. To reheat, simply wrap in a few paper towels and microwave 4 minutes on high, turning halfway.)

 

Tortellini Salad w/ Basil and Olive Tapenade

Happy Hump Day, friends! Today it felt like summer, with temps in the high 80s, and I was craving all.the.summer.veggies. I stopped by TJ’s on my way home from work and couldn’t resist picking up three different packages of tomatoes (grape, heirloom, and on the vine) with some fresh basil, ready-to-cook spinach tortellini and a prepared olive tapenade for this incredibly easy tortellini salad.

You could have made the tapenade on your own, or grown your own basil plant, or heck- made your own pasta… but no one got time for that! It was so simple to dice a few tomatoes and basil, throw the cooked tortellini and tapenade in, and squirt a little balsamic and lemon juice on top! Summer was practically licking my ankles (oh wait, that was Samoa).

Enjoy! Happy summer-dreaming!

Tortellini Salad w/ Basil and Olive Tapenade
Tortellini Salad w/ Basil and Olive Tapenade
Tortellini Salad w/ Basil and Olive Tapenade
Recipe Type: Salad, Pasta
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Italian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 10
You’ll be dreaming about summer all spring long, but now you don’t have to wait for tomato season to taste it!
Ingredients
  • 1 package (about 16 oz) cheese or spinach tortellini pasta
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 containers grape or on-the-vine tomatoes (I used both), diced roughly
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 container olive tapenade (I used TJ’s) or 1/2 cup diced olives
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • spinach for serving (optional)
Instructions
  1. Prepare tortellini 2 mins less than package directions until al dente. Drain and reserve a bit of the pasta water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except for feta. When cooled, stir in tortellini and reserved pasta water.
  3. Stir in feta and serve with spinach for a light summer salad!

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Tortellini Salad w/ Basil and Olive Tapenade

Shaved Brussels & Lentil Slaw w/ Creamy Hummus Vinaigrette

Happy Monday! Even though our Panthers didn’t pull it out, my Blue Devils did! (knock on wood, as I am writing this post with 24.5 sec left on the game clock…)

Last night we had a potluck at our house with some good friends, including members of our small group and my dear bosom buddy Sarah and her husband Mike. I made BBQ pulled pork for sandwiches, and this (healthier) brussels sprout slaw to balance out all the wings n’ things. Although, I do have to admit- Tawny made these incredible vegan stuffed mushrooms that went like hot cakes! Soooo good.

Shaved Brussels & Lentil Slaw w/ Creamy Hummus Vinaigrette
Shaved Brussels & Lentil Slaw w/ Creamy Hummus Vinaigrette

If you’re lazy like I am, you buy brussels sprouts that are pre-shredded (try Trader Joe’s) and pre-cut butternut squash. I had a ton of brussels sprouts and no TJ’s within 10 miles, so I decided to go crazy and whip out the grating attachment to my food processor. If you don’t mind a bit of extra cleaning/scraping out the little bits of shaved brussels that get stuck in the lip, it’s really pretty simple to just use the same food processor that you would make the vinaigrette in. Kill two birds with one stone! Also, if you want you can sub out the lentils for some other protein like chickpeas or edamame. I like the lentils for being so small, though- they really bulk up the salad without overwhelming it.

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The hummus vinaigrette is creamy and zesty from the orange and lime juice, and you can also customize the dressing to your own tastes (more olive oil, more vinegar, etc.). I also added some arils (pomegranate seeds, for the less fancy among us) and slivered almonds for a bit more crunch! Just make sure not to add them until just before serving so that the almonds don’t get too soggy!

Shaved Brussels & Lentil Slaw w/ Creamy Hummus Vinaigrette
Recipe Type: Salad
Cuisine: Healthy, Vegetarian
Author: Claire McCormick of “Claire Tastes”
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
A light side dish for your next potluck, perfected with a creamy hummus vinaigrette, crunchy almonds and juicy pomegranate seeds!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • juice of one lime
  • 2-3 tbsp hummus (I used edamame hummus)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup arils (pomegranate seeds)
  • 1 cup dry French lentils
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. Mix together squash, onion, garlic, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp olive oil. Layer on a Silpat and roast for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. In a food processor with grater attachment (coarse shredding), shred brussels sprouts and combine with squash and onions. Set aside.
  3. In same processor with regular chopping attachment, make vinaigrette by processing orange, lime juice, hummus, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Drizzle in remaining olive oil during processing. Add more olive oil, vinegar or a bit of water to your preference!
  4. Prepare lentils according to package directions. While still warm, add to brussels sprouts and squash mixture.
  5. Up to 2 hrs before serving, gently toss with vinaigrette.
  6. Just before serving, toss salad with arils and slivered almonds.
  7. Serve on top of pulled pork sandwiches for a little extra crunch, or with a poached egg on its own!

Happy week!

Turkey Sausage Egg Casserole with Sweet Potato Hash

Hope everyone had a great weekend! It was absolutely gorgeous here, and I was able to get outside for a few walks/bike rides in the sunshine after a fun Friday night at our first salsa dance class (our small group is taking lessons… it was a riot! You can follow the fun and see what we did to “re-fuel” on my Instagram page). Will have to get a video one of these days to capture the silliness… 😛

In other news, turkey sausage egg casserole was in the books for tonight! I had planned to make a Shepherd’s Pie for Ben to grab for dinners this week, but he said he’d prefer to have a lighter fare. I suggested quiche. He suggested egg casserole!

Of course, I made it as gourmet as I could. Sun-dried tomatoes and all! I kept things easy with some pre-cooked turkey sausage and frozen spinach, day-old bakery buns, and un-skinned (but very washed!) sweet potatoes.

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Hope you enjoy!

Turkey Sausage Egg Casserole with Sweet Potato Hash
Recipe Type: Casserole
Cuisine: American
Author: Claire McCormick
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
An easy and leftover-heavy egg casserole that can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Serve with a spinach side salad and dollop of Greek yogurt on top.
Ingredients
  • 4 hearty buns (I used a garlic brioche)
  • 4 T olive oil, divided (2T + 2T)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 T each dried thyme and parsley
  • Pinch each of S&P
  • 3/4 cup chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 small package sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 package fully cooked turkey sausage crumbles (you could also use uncooked or links- just cook, then slice thinly or crumble!)
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup low fat milk
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, tear buns into pieces and layer in bottom of dish.
  2. Heat 2 T olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions, mushrooms, garlic, thyme, parsley, S+P, and cook for 3 minutes or until tender.
  3. Stir in frozen spinach, tomatoes, and turkey sausage and cook for 2-3 more minutes until spinach is heated through. Pour over the bread in casserole dish.
  4. In a food processor set to shredding setting, shred sweet potatoes to medium-fine thickness. Pour into a large bowl and stir in remaining 2 T olive oil. Spread in an even layer over the top of the sausage.
  5. In same bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, nutmeg and garlic powder.
  6. Pour egg mixture evenly over potatoes in dish, shaking dish a bit to make sure it’s evenly distributed (I also sometimes press down the casserole to make sure the bread gets saturated).
  7. Top with cheese, cover with foil and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (up to overnight) to allow it to set.
  8. When ready to eat, heat oven to 350 deg and bake 40 mins covered, then 15 minutes uncovered or until potatoes are crisped and cheese is melted.
  9. Allow to set at least 10 min before slicing and serving! Serve with side salad and a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.
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Cook onions, ‘shrooms, and tomatoes with garlic and spices.
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Add spinach and sausage.
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Tear bread and place in dish.
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Shred sweet potatoes.
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Whisk eggs.
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Layer sausage mixture on top of bread.
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Top with sweet potatoes.
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And cheese. 🙂
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Bake at 350 until cheese is melted and taters are tender!
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Serve with side salad, avocado wedges and greek yogurt.

Happy week!