I haven’t been home (to Minnesota) in a while and it feels really good to be here. I got in on Saturday for the Thanksgiving holiday because I saved up my days off so I can have the whole week. So far I’ve been to a Vikings game, dinner with Grandma and rents, I made dinner for rents and tonight I made dinner for my best friend and her boyfriend at my parents house. Great food, good wine and fabulous company. Cathy and I have been friends since high school and we continue to have a great relationship. We don’t talk often (neither of us are really sit-on-the-phone-and-chat kind of people) but when we see each other it’s like no time has passed at all. She is the perfect girlfriend – trusting, honest and genuine. You don’t come across a lot of people in your life like Cathy so when you do, you learn to really appreciate them and I appreciate our friendship more than I can ever put into words. So I was delighted when she and her boyfriend came over for dinner and I could cook for them. I decided to go with the twice baked butternut squash, a beet and goat cheese salad, and one of the recipes from Dawn’s cooking class I took last Thursday, the pumpkin, black bean and poblano tacos.
- 1 Tablespoon of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of chopped poblano peppers
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup of canned pumpkin puree
- 1 can of black beans, rinsed & drained
- S&P to taste
- Tortillas, warmed
- Optional – crumbled queso fresco or avocado
Radish slaw ingredients (not optional, must do – it is imperative to the overall flavor of this dish)
- 1/2 cup shredded fresh radishes
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Juice from 1/2 lime and add some zest for added flavor
1. In a skillet over medium heat, saute oil, poblanos, chili powder and cumin for 2 minutes. Add pumpkin, beans, S&P and saute another 3-5 minutes, until heated.
2. Make slaw while mixture is heating. Combine radishes, cilantro and lime juice.
3. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the pumpkin mixture into each warm tortilla and top with radish slaw and optional toppings.
(sorry for the shadow haha!)
I had heard a lot about the cooking classes at The Chopping Block, but I just never seemed to get around to signing up for a class. Somehow I stumbled upon a class called 100% Nutritionist Approved Healthy Holiday Eats taught by renowned food and nutrition expert Dawn Jackson Blatner. If you haven’t heard of her check her out. Just a few fun facts about her. She is the nutritionist for the Chicago Cubs and the author of The Flexitarian Diet, a fabulous book about her philosophy to healthy eating. Her philosophy is basically this: pro-plant not anti-meat. She believes that wholesome, nourishing foods are magic for your body. For more about her visit her website, she has tons of fabulous recipes, tips, and articles she has written for major magazines.
I learned so much from her class and each recipe was so phenomenal that I think they really deserve a post of their own. First up is the….
Fall Farro Salad with Orange Vinaigrette
**Farro is an ancient relative of wheat. They look like popcorn kernels and are similar in texture to brown rice but they are round and have a nuttier flavor. Adding a grain to your salad makes it heartier and gives your dish a more fall/winter feel.
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 teaspoon
- 1/2 cup uncooked farro, toasted
- 2 Tablespoons pitted and quartered kalamata olives
- 1 cup thinly sliced fresh fennel bulb
- 2 cups arugala
- 1/2 orange, zested – about 1/2 teaspoon (Tip: use a cheese grater to zest to get chunkier pieces)
- 2 Tablespoons orange juice, from zested orange above
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced shallots
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- S&P to taste
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, salt and farro. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the farro is tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Add the olives, fennel, arugula and orange zest to the cooled farro and toss to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients until combine. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and toss to coat. Let the salad stand for at least 10-15 minutes at room temperature & serve.
NOTE: To intensify flavors, let salad marinate in refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.
One more thing. If you are in the Chicago area and are interested in learning to cook, I highly suggest you check out the Chopping Block. I had such a wonderful experience there, it is a very nice establishment and the staff were so gracious and helpful. I thought it was a little pricey at first but after leaving I can honestly say it was worth every penny. It’s a great place for a fun, interactive date or a night out with girls. If nothing else, go solo – that’s what I did and I met some really cool people. Definitely Dishin’ approved!
Posted in Recipes, Reviews and Giveaways
Tagged chicago cooking classes, chopping block review, christmas salad, dawn jackson blatner, fall recipes, fall salad, farro, farro salad, healthy fall dishes, healthy salad, healthy thanksgiving, plant-based recipes, thanksgiving salad, the chopping block, the flexitarian diet, winter salad