All posts by Mervin

Pear Cooking Guide

Post sponsored by California Pears. See below for more details.

With pear season in California off to a good start, I thought I would share with you a bit about using pears. One of the things that makes me excited about pears right now is the overlap with summer produce, especially fruit. Pairing fresh pears with berries makes for a delicious yogurt or pancake topping. A pear-berry jam is also wonderful and on current heavy rotation with our nut-butter sandwiches. Beyond that, I’m also fresh off canning about 15 pounds of Bartlett pears. Currently lining my shelves are spiced pears and a lovely pear chutney I’ll be thankful for come February.

Similar to apples, pears have different roles in my cooking and baking. Some pears hold their shape well even when cooked, making them perfect for baked goods. Other pears break down easier making them perfect for sauces and pear butters. Of course, there are also the perfect pears for snacking (an easy win with my son!)

  • Bartlett: All around solid pear. Works well both raw and cooked, also great for canning.
  • Bosc: Bosc pears have a crisp texture when raw which translate into a pear that holds it’s shape beautifully when cooked. These pears are the go-to variety for baked goods and desserts that use halved or whole pears.
  • Seckel: This smaller pear is, in my kitchen, the perfect toddler snacking pear. These sweet pears are also wonderful used in desserts or sliced for a cheese tray. Seckel pears’ size makes them perfect for canning whole too.
  • Comice: These pears are my choice for snacking. They are one of the sweeter varieties and while you could cook with them, they are best eaten raw as a snack or I like to thinly slice them for a salad.
  • Red: The red pear is often the star of baked goods. This pear is similar to the Bartlett pear but has a beautiful, deep red color. These are my choice pears for salads but they also are beautiful when showcased in baked goods. Because of the color, I like to find ways to leave the skin on for serving!
  • Forelle: Similar in size to a Seckel pear, these make for another wonderful snacking pear. Forelle pears have a sweet flavor but I prefer their firmer texture to some of the other varieties. If I’m going on a road trip, these are the pears I bring along for a solid snack!
  • French Butter: These pears are most popular in the baking and dessert recipes because of their creamy texture. French butter pears are also known for having a bit more juiciness than the other varieties- making them a good candidate for pear based sauces and marinades.

Pear Chutney

Savory Pear Ideas

Salads: Pears are a perfect addition to salads. There are classic combinations with blue cheese and pecans but I also love using pear with fennel, arugula, and even thinly shaved radish.

Grilled Cheese: Slice the pears thin and add to a grilled cheese for a sweet kick.

Pizza: Similar to the grilled cheese, add sliced pears to pizza with a bit of blue cheese!

Sauces: One of my favorite pear applications: chutney (pictured above). The sweet from the fruit lends itself well to the savory compote, especially when it has a spicy kick to it! Pears are also a great base for homemade salsa with cilantro and lime juice.

Roasted Vegetables: I like to use pear with roasted winter squash for savory grain bowls and salads- the sweet from the roasted pear is the perfect compliment to the earthy squash flavor.

Recipe Inspiration

Ginger Pear and Goat Cheese Endives | Naturally Ella

Amaranth Porridge with Roasted Pears, Maple Pecans, and Yogurt

Disclosure: This recipe was created in partnership with California Pears.. All thoughts and opinions are my own. It’s content like this that helps me keep this site running to provide the vegetarian recipes you see every week. |

The post Pear Cooking Guide appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Creamed Corn Barley

Creamed Corn Barley | Naturally Ella

Creamed corn is one of those items that I always look fondly upon from my childhood. I can really only relate it to the holidays, specifically my family’s ‘recipe’ for corn casserole. Nevertheless, the idea of creamed corn makes me happy; just not from a can. Also, at least for this recipe, there’s no cream in sight.

One of this season’s cookbook pick-ups helped guide me a bit on this. Jeremy Fox’s On Vegetables relies on corn, and only corn, to make creamed corn (and a subsequent vegan polenta which is amazing.) I took the method and applied it here to make an extremely simple dish. Between the starch from the sweet corn and the barley, a risotto-like texture is created. It’s comfort food, vegan style. Read more and see the recipe.

The post Creamed Corn Barley appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Watermelon & Halloumi Salad with Magic Sauce

Watermelon_halloumi_salad_1

Hello! This is David & Luise. Remember us? During our almost eight years of blogging we have never stayed absent for two months before. We’re going to do what we always do in these situations and blame the kids. Wether we miss a dentist appointment, forget to answer a text message, get a parking ticket or are two months late with a blog post, it’s always our kid’s fault. But in this case it’s actually somewhat true. We simply underestimated how much time and attention three kids on summer holiday takes. They have soon much energy. I (David) have been thinking of ways to connect them (and with them I mean Isac) to the power grid so that they (he) could replace a nuclear power plant or two. And I could perhaps cash in a Nobel price for saving the world. Anyway, after a couple of weeks of feeling bad about not having a single second over to blog new recipes, we instead decided to give ourselves a summer break from it all. So we have been trying to keep up with our children’s pace (obviously impossible) and play on their rules (also impossible because they ignore rules) this summer.

But now we are back, with plenty of new recipe ideas and projects. Lots of other things have happened during the summer. We almost bought ourselves a tiny smoothie bar in a park, we burnt pancakes from Green Kitchen at Home inside a jam-packed little book store in Bath and we have planned the release of the European languages next month, but we’ll find time to talk more about all that. For now, let’s just talk food. Before the summer and watermelon season is all over.

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This recipe has been going on repeat all summer. It’s actually a combination of two recipes which we recently realized work brilliantly together. A simple watermelon and halloumi salad and our Magic Green Sauce. We first got the idea to combine watermelon with halloumi from a recipe photo in a supermarket pamflett and from that combo, we’ve added some chickpeas, cherry toms and pumpkin seeds to make it less of a side and more of a meal. It’s a really nice combination. Rich and chewy halloumi, sweet and fresh watermelon, crunchy pumpkin seeds and a tangy, flavorful and slightly spicy sauce. If I wasn’t such a humble guy, I would say that it’s probably one of the best watermelon salads you’ll try this summer. Luckily, I’m super humble and will just say that it’s pretty good.

A simple vegan option would be to replace the halloumi with marinated tofu. Just make sure to squeeze out the liquid before marinating it, so it soaks up all the flavor. Quinoa, black lentils or rice could also be a great addition if you want to make this salad more substantial.

Here is a little salad assembling action by Luise.

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Technically, the Magic Green Sauce is just our take on Chimichuri with a more hippie name. We use lime juice instead of vinegar and have added a little avocado to give it the right balance between creamy and chunky and also a few drips maple syrup to round off the sharpness from the other flavors. The magic lies in its ability to transfer any simple dish into something flavorful. Apart from this salad, we also use it on scrambled eggs, as a dip for raw crudités, inside rye sandwiches and on top of shakshuka. We have made it with a number of different herb combinations and found that anything goes (but parsley, cilantro/coriander and mint is still a fav).

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Watermelon & Halloumi Salad with Magic Green Sauce
Serves 4

Watermelon & Halloumi Salad
1 kg / 2 lb watermelon
200 g / 7 oz halloumi

150 g / 1 cup good quality cherry tomatoes 
1 can / 200 g / 1 cup cooked chickpeas 
60 g / 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds / pepitas
2 large handfuls Mâche lettuce (or any tender lettuce)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lime
Salt

Magic Green Sauce
1 large handful (30 g / 1 tightly packed cup) mixed fresh herbs (we used parsley, cilantro and mint)
1/2 cup / 120 ml olive oil
Juice from 1 lime
1 tbsp capers
1 tsp maple syrup
1 clove garlic
1 small chili
1/2 avocado
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

Start by preparing the sauce. Add all sauce ingredients to a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely mixed, check the flavor and consistency and add more salt, herbs or oil if needed. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chops herbs, capers, garlic and chili, mash the avocado and mix everything in a bowl together with olive oil, lime juice and maple syrup. Add salt to taste. Then set aside.

Dice the watermelon and halloumi, quarter the tomatoes and rinse the chickpeas. Toast the pumpkin seeds on medium heat in a dry pan with a little salt until they begin to pop, then transfer them to a chopping board and chop coarsely. Add a little oil to the pan and fry the halloumi for a couple of minutes until golden on all sides.

Arrange the lettuce in a bowl or on a serving platter. Add chickpeas, tomatoes, watermelon and halloumi. Squeeze over a little lime juice and drizzle with oil and toss until mixed. Top with pumpkin seeds and Magic Green Sauce, with extra in the side. Enjoy!

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PS!
We are off to Rome now to celebrate that it was 10 years ago that my drunk feet tried to seduce dance Luise on a club by the Tiber while simultaneously using ALL my Italian pick up lines on her (took me approx 1 hour before I realized that she was Danish and not Italian 🤣). We’re bringing all the kids this time so PLEASE hit us with good places to eat, fun playgrounds, outdoor pools or your favorite gelato bars. Grazie!

Oat Pancakes w/ Whipped Blueberry Coconut Cream

Disclosure: This post was made in partnership with the US Highbush Blueberry Council. Thank you for supporting the growth of Food Heaven! There are two types of breakfasts. Breakfasts that are fast and breakfasts that are slow. A fast breakfast is great for weekdays, when you don’t have much time to spend in the kitchen. Good […]

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Green Spaghetti Pie

I’m unusually excited about this recipe! You ready? Spaghetti pie. I’ve been thinking about it lately (in part, because it’s seemingly inescapable on Pinterest), and wanted to do a make-over version of sorts. When I sketched the general outline, I aimed for a few things. It would be a green version, packed with kale, spinach, or a mix. I wanted it to be vegan / plant-based – a lot of the versions out there are decadently filled with cheese, eggs, and cream. I wanted to use a good whole-grain or lentil/bean pasta. My hope was to architect an “everyday” version people can feel great about enjoying whenever. That said, when someone was eating a piece, I wanted it to be about none of that. I just wanted it to be delicious. So! Here’s how it shaped up, recipe and a few notes below – enjoy! -h

To make this green version of spaghetti pie, you start by boiling a pound of your favorite spaghetti – preferably whole-grain, or one of the bean-based pastas. I used the Banza spaghetti (pictured here / not-sponsored, I just like it). While the water is coming to a boil, I make a quick blender sauce with almond milk, onion and garlic powder, and a bunch of kale. In place of eggs, I whisked some ground flax with water – you get the nutritional benefit of flax, and similar binding properties to the eggs. I grabbed a 1/2 pound of kale from my freezer (available in most freezer sections), but you can certainly use fresh kale. The green blender sauce comes together in a flash, you toss the spaghetti with it when it is cooked a bit al dente, transfer to your baking dish, and into the oven.

Green Spaghetti Pie Recipe

Green Spaghetti Pie Recipe

Green Spaghetti Pie Recipe

Pictured above – a snug layer of foil to catch any leakage (I didn’t have any this time around), but better safe than sorry ;). xx! -h

Continue reading Green Spaghetti Pie…

Summer Vegetable Pasta with Chickpeas

Summer Vegetable Pasta with Chickpeas | Naturally Ella

While some of my recipes stem from wonderful restaurant dishes, others are created out of disappointment. Take for example this vegetable pasta dish. I had gone to a favorite restaurant of mine, ordered their seasonal veg-friendly pasta, and received one of the most disappointing meals I’ve had in some time. The ratio of pasta to vegetables sat somewhere around 10:1 and there was no sauce. None. I’m not one for overly sauce pasta but this took that to an extreme.

And so, I set out to right that pasta dish with an easy summer recipe. I love tossing all the summer vegetables into a pan- it’s hard to mess it up. Add to that a few chickpeas and enough cream/veg-friendly parmesan and you have yourself a meal. Use what you have on hand, swap the pasta for grains, or toss in some homemade pesto: everything is fair-game in this vegetable pasta! Read more and see the recipe.

The post Summer Vegetable Pasta with Chickpeas appeared first on Naturally Ella.

Reducing Inflammation: A Lifestyle Approach

Today we’re talking inflammation and why an anti-inflammatory diet is so important for good, long term health. An anti-inflammatory diet sometimes gets lumped in with a lot of fad diets, but this one actually holds some truth. Inflammation is the body’s own way to heal itself by fighting injury and infection. Which is great for […]

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Tomato Corona Bean Salad

Tomato Corona Bean Salad | Naturally Ella

It is rare that my lunch is a something I’ve made before. Lunch is my time to throw together whatever bits and pieces are around. Sometimes these combinations are not good but other times, they turn into delicious meals that I end up sharing here. This tomato bean salad is a perfect example.

I made a similar salad some time back but the addition of fresh tomatoes really upped the overall recipe. I’m also a sucker for these corona beans. They are easily a meal and the perfect star of this recipe. If you’re not able to pick up corona beans, the cannellini beans will work. I do, however, recommend cooking them from dried. Some of the canned beans are super soft and fall apart in the salad.

Read more and see the recipe.

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