Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard & Feta Galette {made with teff flour}

Confession: I have an irrational fear of working with dough. There’s so much that could go wrong – I could add too much water; It might not come together correctly; It could get too warm to work with; It could stick to the rolling pin and tear, etc. And yet I know that both my husband and I are very detail-oriented people, and also very good at following directions, and so, of course, our dough always turns out fine. All that worrying for nothing.

This savory galette was inspired by the “sweet potato, swiss chard, and feta tart in a teff crust” in Fine Cooking. We don’t have a tart pan, so a nice, rustic galette seemed like the way to go. Teff is a grain that we’d never heard of before. Did you know it’s the smallest grain in the world? It’s also naturally gluten free (note: this recipe is not, as it is combined with regular flour), and it has a nutty flavor that (according to Fine Cooking’s article) is reminiscent of hazelnuts to some and artichokes to others. Interesting! We found the former to be true. This galette’s interior was filled with a delicious sweet & savory combination of roasted sweet potato, swiss chard sautéed in garlic, caramelized onions, and salty feta, which all went beautifully with the buttery, nutty crust that reminded us of either a really good biscuit or a perfect shortbread cookie — or a combination of both!

We probably could have trimmed off a little of our dough before folding it over the filling, as it covered up more of the middle than we envisioned. I guess the amount of dough needed for a crust is more than you need for a galette. Live and learn! I also found some guidance on Smitten Kitchen for the cooking time and temperature for a galette, as well as how to assemble it.

You should head to your nearest natural foods’ store and check out the bulk section. If you see teff flour, try it out and add a new grain to your repertoire!

Sweet Potato, Swiss Chard, and Feta Galette

(Adapted from this tart in Fine Cooking. Serves 4, or 2 with leftovers for breakfast or lunch)

For the Dough:
5-1/2 oz. (1 cup) teff flour
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. table salt
6 oz. (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces*
4 to 5 Tbs. ice water

* We used salted butter and added a little less salt than indicated

For the Filling:
1 large sweet potato
3 TBS. extra virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, peeled, halved, and sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Kosher salt
1 1/2 TBS.  balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large bunch Swiss chard, thick stems removed, greens roughly chopped
6 oz. feta, crumbled
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 large egg
Freshly ground black pepper

  • In a food processor, combine both flours and the salt. Pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas. Sprinkle 4 TBS. of the ice water over the flour mixture and pulse until the dough just comes together. If it seems too dry, add tiny amounts of the remaining water until the dough comes together. Transfer dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap, and using it as an aid, form dough into a thick disc. Wrap it in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 min. to an hour.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the sweet potato and poke it a few times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast until you can pierce it with a fork. Cool, peel, and cut into a 3/4 inch dice.
  • While the potato is roasting, heat 2 TBS. of the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until they soften and develop nice dark-brown charred spots, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until they caramelized, about 10 minutes more. Add 1/2 TBS. balsamic vinegar and cook until it glazes the onions. Transfer onions to a small bowl and wipe out the skillet.
  • Heat the remaining 1 TBS. of olive oil in the skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and just beginning to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the chopped chard and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until chard is completely wilted, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1 TBS. balsamic vinegar over the chard and toss it until the vinegar cooks away, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.
  • Add the diced sweet potatoes to the large bowl, as well as about three-quarters of the cheese, and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Toss gently. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a little pinch of salt and pepper and add to the bowl as well. Mix together.
  • Take the dough out of the refrigerator. Unwrap and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread filling over the middle of the dough, leaving a border (ours was a little wide; ideal would be leaving 1 1/2 inches). Scatter the caramelized onions on top of the filling, as well as a little more cheese. Fold the border over the filling, making little pleats in the dough to make it fit; leave the center of the galette open.
  • Bake galette at 400 degrees until the crust is done and the cheese on top is nicely browned, about 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to a serving plate. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature (aka it’s ready when you are! awesome!) Add a simple salad and you have a well-rounded vegetarian meal!

Tabbouleh Salad with Lemon, Mint & Chickpeas

“Hot Hot Hot! The Elephants are hot!” — the opening of one of Levi’s (Mommy’s) favorite books. These words popped into my head this morning, not just because I have the entire book memorized and often get it stuck in my head, but because the news informed me that there is a heat advisory in effect today from noon until 8pm. It’s not uncommon for Santa Cruz to see several chilly weeks in August and then experience a heatwave just as kids are starting school again.

There aren’t any elephants around here, but Mommy is hot; Levi is hot; the kitties are hot! That’s why last night we wanted a no-cook dinner and something Tabbouleh-ish was our inspiration. We’ve never cooked with bulgur before. It’s a delicious, quick-cooking grain with a nutty flavor. Adding fresh herbs, fresh seasonable vegetables, and some chickpeas for extra protein made it the perfect meal for a hot evening. The recipe below made enough for the two of us, with enough leftovers for 1 lucky person’s lunch.

Tabbouleh Salad with Lemon, Mint & Chickpeas

(Adapted from the recipe from Bon Appetit, as seen on Epicurious)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 large green onions, chopped
2 TBS. chopped fresh mint
1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the bulgur with the boiling water. Cover and let stand until bulgur is tender and water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.  (Alternatively you can add the bulgur to 2 cups of cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 12-15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl).
  • Add the tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, green onions, mint, and chickpeas to the bowl of bulgur.  Add the olive oil/lemon juice mixture and gently mix with a wooden spoon.  Taste and season with salt & pepper to your liking.
  • Let sit for at least 30 minutes so that the flavors can blend. Serve with a simple green salad.

Levi is 4 months old!

Asparagus, Fried Eggs & Parmesan with Farro Pilaf

Spring is here!

I love it when bundles of thin, tender asparagus appear at the store, which sounds funny now because I didn’t care for asparagus until just a few years ago. Apparently I can’t get enough of it this week because just last Saturday we were eating at our favorite neighborhood restaurant La Posta, where I had the most intriguing salad: crisp asparagus spears with thinly sliced kumquats and watermelon radishes, pistachios, mint leaves, and a sherry-shallot vinaigrette; a combination I never would have put together in my own head, but was wonderful, especially with the mint – it brought little surprise bursts of freshness in each bite and I was reminded that it’s spring! Which means the baby will be here in like 4 weeks … ahhh!!  crazy!!

Anyway, what was I saying?  Oh yes, with asparagus still on the brain, we decided to enjoy it on Monday night as well, this time with one of my favorite accompaniments – fried eggs. A homegrown meyer lemon brought some additional brightness to this dish – half of which was squeezed over the plated asparagus, and the other half tossed with some arugula on the side. The farro, which I had recently discovered last Easter and raved about in this salad, made a nice pilaf, with its chewy texture and nutty flavor. We also had some garlic toast on the side – we buttered 2 slices of sourdough and added some chopped garlic, then broiled until bubbly and golden. We’re pretty sure if you make this for dinner sometime this week, you’ll be happy you did.

Asparagus, Fried Eggs & Parmesan with Farro Pilaf

1 cup farro
1 TBS. butter
1 1/2 cups broth
1 bunch of asparagus
2 eggs
a handful of grated Parmesan cheese
1 meyer lemon (or regular lemon)
a couple handfuls of arugula
olive oil
salt & pepper

  • In a heavy 3-quart saucepan, heat the butter over medium high heat until it foams. Add the farro and stir until coated with butter and just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. It will also smell nice and toasty. Add the broth. Cover, and simmer until farro is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30-35 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, wash the asparagus and trim the ends: Hold the asparagus toward the tough end and bend. The place where the spear snaps will separate the tender part from the tough part.
  • Prepare a bowl of ice water and bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the asparagus in boiling water for just a minute or two. Immediately remove and place in ice water to stop the cooking. Remove asparagus from the water, dry, and divide between two plates. Squeeze half a meyer lemon over the plated asparagus and season with some salt & pepper.
  • In a frying pan, fry 2 eggs in some butter or olive oil so they’re just how you like them (but we’re partial to a runny yolk). Season the tops of eggs with some salt & pepper. Transfer fried eggs to the plates, on top of the asparagus. Sprinkle some Parmesan on top.
  • Toss some arugula with the other half of the meyer lemon, a drizzle of olive oil, and a little salt & pepper. Add the arugula salad and the farro pilaf to the plates and enjoy a nice, spring meal!

Happy Easter! Part 2: Lemony Couscous with Peas, Mint, and Pea Shoots

This may have been another Easter side dish, but my fork kept gravitating to it on my plate, as if it were the main dish. We dressed couscous up for spring with peas, cumin seeds (ground in a mortar and pestle), fresh mint from the garden, refreshing pea shoots (I love how much delicate pea flavor is concentrated in the shoot), and a scattering of crunchy almonds. It would be delicious on its own for lunch, with kabobs, salmon, or ham for dinner … ok, pretty much anything! The measurements aren’t specific because depending on how much couscous you make, you add the other ingredients in proportion to that, using your own judgment.

Lemony Couscous with Peas, Mint, and Pea Shoots:

1 package of couscous
olive oil
green onion
snow peas
ground cumin seed
fresh mint, chopped
1-2 lemons
fresh or frozen peas
salt & pepper
a splash of tangerine (or orange) juice
pea shoots
almonds, roughly chopped

  • Cook the couscous according to package directions, adding some olive oil or butter along with the hot water. When it’s ready, fluff with a fork and set aside.
  • In a large serving bowl, toss in some sliced green onion, snow peas that have been cut in half, some ground cumin seed, chopped fresh mint, and the juice of a lemon.
  • Add the couscous (it’s ok if it’s still warm) to the bowl, and a few handfuls of peas. Gently combine. Taste and add more lemon juice. Season with salt & pepper. (Can be refrigeratred overnight at this point, covered).
  • Just before serving, add a splash of tangerine juice to the couscous salad and gently stir. Arrange the pea shoots around the bowl. Sprinkle some chopped almonds on top.

Couscous making its debut next to the Easter ham.

Happy Easter! Part 1: Farro Salad with Marinated Baby Artichokes

May the freshness of spring remind you of new hope, new life, and new beginnings. This Easter felt extra special because it was the first one in 3 years where we were surrounded by family and friends back in our own country. We enjoyed a feast full of fresh spring produce, ham that came from a happy (and local) TLC Ranch pig, a few ping-pong games, and of course an egg hunt or two! I’ll be posting some recipes in a few separate posts, but in this one I’ll paint the general picture and share the first of two springy salads.

Farro Salad with Marinated Baby Artichokes:

Farro is my new favorite grain. I’m glad that I recently became aware of its existence. It takes longer to cook than other grains, but its sweet, nutty flavor and slightly chewy texture in the end is worth the wait, especially in this simple salad with baby artichokes, bell pepper, rosemary and lemon. When my mom and I went shopping for Easter dinner ingredients, we were immediately attracted to some cute little artichokes. When we got home, we boiled them, pulled off the leaves until the tender ones were exposed, trimmed the stems, cut them in half lengthwise and threw them into a bowl, where they mingled with the juice of a lemon, chopped fresh garlic, olive oil and parsley overnight … resulting in the perfect DIY marinated artichokes!

We toasted the farro in some olive oil in the bottom of a heavy pot until it was fragrant and nicely coated with oil, about 3 minutes. Then we added water to the pot, brought it to a boil, and cooked the farro until tender (according to package directions, about 20 minutes). After draining the farro, it cooled on a cookie sheet for a little while. Meanwhile, we cut bell peppers into strips, chopped some green onions, and some fresh rosemary. When the farro was cool enough to touch, we poured it into a large bowl, added the marinated baby artichokes from the day before, the bell pepper, green onion, rosemary, more lemon juice to taste, and seasoned with salt.

Colorful flower pots containing spring seeds, chocolate, and other springy surprises awaited each “kid” (though most of us have grown up):

Easter is that special day on which you can keep a bowl of pastel-colored candy on the counter and eat it all day.

My brother unveiled the 3rd batch of his beer – this time an Irish Porter. We enjoyed its refreshing, complex flavor while devouring a cheese plate. Then we piled as much of this menu as we could onto our plates and ate outdoors on the deck, taking in one of the first warm days of spring:

*recipe coming soon … these are the things that I helped make this year.

Thyme Honey Glazed Ham
Grilled Salmon
Grilled Asparagus with my brother’s homemade Green Garlic Aioli
Farro Salad with Baby Artichokes
Couscous with Peas, Lemon, Mint & Pea Shoots*
Roasted Beet Salad with Pine Nuts & Goat Cheese
Mixed Greens with Edible Flowers
Francese Bread

And of course something sweet:

Pashka (a traditional Russian Easter dessert)*
Chef Panisse Almond Cake
Rhubarb Tarts with Orange Glaze*

Faith takes a moment to rest. It takes a lot of energy to beg for Easter ham.