Tag Archives: almonds

Orzo with Summer Squash, Zucchini, and Almonds

My favorite part of having a successful summer garden a few years ago was the prolific summer squash plant. I eat summer squash like there is no tomorrow, every summer. I made this light-ish dinner this weekend to get through the heat (it’s great served cold). I also realized that my new apartment does not have a microwave, so I had to eat cold anyway 🙂

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A deep, seasoned cast-iron worked well for this recipe. Mine is about 12″ across and it fit everything, though I did halve the recipe. Start the orzo water and preheat the oven for the almonds before you start prepping the squash/zucchini. If the orzo is done way before the rest, that’s okay; be sure to cook it al dente so it doesn’t get too soft once you add it to the rest of the food. Toast the almonds then turn off the oven, since you won’t need it again.

Orzo with Summer Squash, Zucchini, and Almonds
Adapted from Orzo with Summer Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts on Epicurious. I’ll try hazelnuts next time. Also note the dice size of the zucchini and summer squash–smaller than you might expect, but it makes for better cooking time.

3/4 cup orzo
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch dice
1 medium yellow squash, cut into 1/3-inch dice
~ 1/2 teaspoon salt
~ 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup almonds, toasted, coarsely chopped
~1 tsp dried parsley
~1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
~2 teaspoons lemon juice (lemon zest would definitely be better)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Cook orzo in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain orzo in a colander. While orzo is cooking, toast almonds (6-8 minutes).

While orzo and almonds are cooking, heat butter and oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté onion, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add zucchini, yellow squash, salt, and pepper and sauté, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in nuts, parsley, basil, and lemon juice.

Add cooked orzo to skillet and stir gently. If mixture seems dry, moisten with some reserved pasta water. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*I ate my leftovers with chopped up cold chicken breast and it was great together!

Healthy Granola Bars

Frisbee tournaments are my favorite part about summer weather in Boston. The heat and humidity–not so much! But one thing I’ve discovered this year is that they’re a great opportunity to debut some experimental “power” foods that will get us through the 8-hour long days of running (and pantsing each other, of course).

Homemade Healthy Granola Bars

There are a few traditional sideline foods–pickles, PBR, Cheez-Its, Pretzels, candy, the occasional Butterfinger bar to give to a player who drops a disc on a really key play…hehehe. I usually prefer to bring food with more protein, though, because the all-carbs thing makes me crash by the early afternoon. Mike invented some “energy bites” which I’ll probably make again soon and post, but last weekend I decided to try my hand at granola bars.

I don’t usually LOVE granola bars, but they are a great way to deliver a mix of nutrients with some great texture and taste. These came out really crunchy–very similar to the Nature Valley brand granola bars–but they softened (and improved, I think) after sitting in the sun in the Ziploc bag for a little while. They definitely helped power me through the day in small bits, though, and they’re made of (mostly) super-healthy, wholesome ingredients. No fake stuff here!

Healthy Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
Adapted from Epicurious’ recipe for Raisin and Cardamom Granola Bars.

4 cups instant oats, toasted first for about 10 minutes
1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1.5 cups toasted raw almonds, chopped roughly
1 tsp cinnamon
6 Tbsp butter (3/4 stick)
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
4 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line your granola sheet (I used half of an 11×17 pan with thick bars as a result) with aluminum foil that hangs over the edges by at least an inch. Butter the foil. If your oats and almonds need to be toasted, do that first (oats for 10 minutes, almonds for about 6-8, or until they smell like popcorn).

In a large bowl, mix together the oats, cranberries, almonds, and cinnamon. Over medium heat, combine the butter, brown sugar, and honey. Once the butter melts, remove from heat and add vanilla. Combine all ingredients and stir until well coated. If it doesn’t stick together yet, add more honey and continue stirring.

Pour the granola mixture onto the foil. With another piece of aluminum foil, press down the granola so that it sticks together in an even layer. Remove that piece of foil and set it aside. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then press down again with the foil. CAREFUL–it will be hot! I used a towel around my hand when pressing down with the foil.

After completely cool, lift from pan using foil overhang. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

Curried Chicken Salad with Almonds and Cranberries

Dried cranberries are, frankly, the bomb. I love them in everything. I eat them plain. I eat them on yogurt with blueberries and almonds. I eat them on cereal. I mix them in oatmeal with brown sugar. Earlier this week, I mixed them in with cashews for a tasty broccoli slaw. Today I did something similar–I mixed them in with curried chicken salad and almonds. I think they go particularly well with nuts because together the two give crunchy, soft, buttery, and tart. Mayo and yogurt do a great job of holding them together with a little creaminess.

Curried Chicken Salad with Almonds and Cranberries

This salad isn’t particularly fancy, but it is flexible. I added in some chopped raw broccoli stalks because they were leftover from another project and were getting wilty. I also snacked on a piece of bacon while eating this, so there’s that.

Curried Chicken Salad with Almonds and Cranberries
Makes 1 big serving. Note that my picture shows the salad without stirring together the chicken and romaine; it looks nicer that way! I promptly threw it in a bowl and stirred it up because I like it better mixed.

1 cooked chicken breast, chopped into evenly-sized 1/2-inch pieces
Handful dried cranberries
Small handful raw almonds, roughly chopped
2 stalks of broccoli (stalks only), chopped [optional]
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 Tbsp plain yogurt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch salt
Pinch curry powder
Small pinch cayenne powder
1/2 head romaine lettuce, chopped into thin (1/4-inch) strips

In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the romaine. Add more curry powder to taste (and salt, pepper, and cayenne thereafter). The curry should be the main flavor. Add the chopped romaine and stir well to evenly distribute the chicken salad.

Secret Ingredient Pesto

Homemade secret-ingredient pesto

I love, love, love margherita pizza. Last week, I indulged myself on the way home from school and bought some basil (and roma tomatoes and whole milk mozzarella in ball form and whole wheat pizza dough) to make my favorite pizza…one day, I’ll remember to take pictures before I gobble it up. Luckily I had some leftover basil–a real treat in January in Boston–so I got to making a batch of pesto that only needed a bit of basil to make it work.

This pesto is not “real” pesto. It uses almonds instead of pine nuts and more spinach than basil. But since pine nuts and basil are such a luxury to come by, I think this is a perfect low-cost and high-deliciousness option! You could also use walnuts instead of almonds–I’ve seen that on other food blogs, though I’ve never tried it myself. If you don’t adore garlic, you might cut it down to 2 cloves.

I took Farm Girl Fare’s recommendation and tried this mixed with some rinsed garbanzo beans and chopped roma tomatoes, and OH MAN–it was divine and suprisingly filling! I’ve been using it this week for chicken sandwiches, too. So flexible and so flavorful.

Secret Ingredient Pesto
Adapted from Farm Girl Fare’s Recipe for Pesto.

1/4 cup toasted almonds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Olive oil
3/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed
Bunch of basil (I had about 1 cup)
Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, combine the toasted almonds and the garlic and process until finely chopped. Add about 2 tsp olive oil, the spinach, and the basil, and process. Add olive oil as needed to get the paste-y texture–it will probably end up being about a tablespoon. Taste (with processor OFF, haha!) and add salt and pepper as needed.

Try not to eat it all straight off the spoon!

This was really hard not to eat off the spoon.