Vibrant Tasty Green Beans

Simple, five ingredient green beans. Dill, green beans, leeks, salt and olive oil, that’s it. Five ingredients, one skillet, so good.

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This is one of my favorite ways to cook green beans – five ingredients, one skillet. I know some of you are married to your traditional way of cooking them, but if you are in the market for a new version, give this recipe a go. 

Vibrant Tasty Green Beans Recipe

Simple Green Beans

I cook green beans a couple times a week during certain seasons, and this version with its slightly quirky combination of ingredients is one I come back to over and over. It is light and bright, healthy and delicious. Simply cook a bunch of chopped leeks (or scallions) until they are golden and a bit crunchy, toss in some chopped dill, and then add the green beans. Do your best to not overcook them and you’re all set. If this recipe isn’t quite your jam, but you love beans, try this Green Bean Slaw, these Yellow Wax Beans & Scallions, Feisty Green Beans (so good!), or this Yellow Bean Salad.
Vibrant Tasty Green Beans Recipe

Side dish vs. Main dish

While I’ve written this recipe as more of a side dish – you can easily bump it up to main dish status. I sometimes use the dilled green beans to fill omelettes (along with a bit of goat cheese). Alternately, you might toss some tofu, tempeh or seitan into the skillet (sautéed until nicely browned or golden ahead of time) along with the beans. Or, you could make a main dish salad by serving the beans over lightly dressed butter lettuce & toss a few raviolis in. Plenty of directions to take this one.

Ingredients

I think this goes without saying, but do your best to seek out really good beans. They should be bright green and have a bit of snap when you bend them. Avoid anything leathery, also avoid beans that are limp, mottled, soft, mushy or mangy.
Vibrant Tasty Green Beans Recipe
As I note in the recipe down below, this is best made to order, just before serving. I don’t like hot green beans after they’ve been sitting around for long periods of time – they lose vibrancy, and the texture and taste changes as they sit overcooking themselves. That said, there’s a way to prep the main components ahead if you’re doing them for Thanksgiving.

How to make ahead

You can make this recipe a day ahead of time by cooking the leeks and dill first and setting them aside. Instead of cooking the beans in a skillet, blanch them in a pot of boiling, well-salted water for about a minute. Drain and dunk the beans in a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain and set aside until ready to use. Combine the components before serving – you can do it at room temperature, or heated quickly in a skillet or pan before serving.

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Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Three Ways

Toasted pumpkin seeds are the tiny, edible trophies you get for carving pumpkins. There are a couple of tricks to roasting perfect pumpkin seeds.

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Toasted pumpkin seeds are the tiny, edible trophies you get for carving pumpkins. Don’t carve a pumpkin (or any winter squash for that matter), without toasting or roasting the seeds. That’s just how it needs to be. The question is, what’s the best technique? There is some debate about the best approach, but I’ve settled on a foolproof method over the years. It’s super easy, and I’m going to share it here. 
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
Take note, there are a couple points of departure you’ll see in my technique (compared to most). First! Some people boil the pumpkin seeds prior to toasting. No need. Second, I now season and spice the pumpkin seeds after baking, and I’ll talk more about why.

Different pumpkins, Different seeds

Pumpkins aren’t the only winter squash with seeds. And seeds from different squashes have different sizes, shapes and textures. Have fun experimenting! Play around with white “ghost” pumpkins, blue Hokkaido, butternut squash, and all the other beautiful winter squash varietals out there for a range of seeds. Also, if you’re going to roast the squash as well, they’re often much better tasting versus carving pumpkins.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Different Sized Seeds

Smaller seeds roast more quickly, so adjust your baking time (less). Aside from that, treat them the same as you would regular “carving” pumpkin seeds. Pictured above (top to bottom): delicata squash seeds, butternut squash seeds, carving pumpkin seeds.
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

How to Clean & Make Pumpkin Seeds

Place a colander (or strainer) in a bowl filled with water. The seeds float, so this set-up makes separating the seeds from any stubborn pumpkin flesh much easier. Scoop the seeds from your pumpkin and transfer to the colander. Separate the seeds from any pumpkin flesh and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth.

The Best Technique

Bake the pumpkin seeds after a good rinse. You need to dry them well. Get as much water off the seeds as possible. I’m convinced the seeds steam less using this method, and crisp more.

When to Season?

I used to heavily season seeds prior to baking, but I find that if you bake with lots of spice coating the seeds, the spices tend to over bake or even burn. I do most or all of my spice additions post-bake now.

Flavor Variations Beyond Classic Pumpkin Seeds

The directions you can go related to seasoning you seeds are endless. That said, I’m going to include three of my favorite variations down below.

  • Meyer Lemon Zest, Cayenne, and Olive Pumpkin Seeds
  • Sweet Curry Pumpkin Seeds
  • Garlic Chive Pumpkin Seeds

And, because I can’t resist. If you don’t mind stained fingertips, tossing the hot seeds with a dusting of turmeric, minced garlic, and cayenne or black pepper is also really great. Wasabi paste or powder is a great flavoring option, as is ponzu sauce. Have fun & play around!

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Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

A delicious, simple vegetarian split pea soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. Seriously, just five!

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Many of you were enthusiastic about the lentil soup recipe I posted a few weeks back. Today’s split pea soup recipe is similar in spirit. It’s a delicious, healthy, textured soup made from an impossibly short list of ingredients. Seriously, just five! No ham hocks in this version, simply green split peas and onions cooked until tender, partially pureed, seasoned and flared out with toppings.
A Really Great Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Like many lentil soups, this one delivers many of the same nutritional benefits – a good amount of vegetable protein and plenty of staying power. It is hearty and filling, and even better reheated later in the day. You can find dried split green peas in many natural foods stores, I picked these up in the bin section at Whole Foods Market.
A Really Great Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup: Finishing Touches

I like to finish each bowl with a generous drizzle of golden olive oil, a few flecks of lemon zest, and a dusting of smoked paprika to give the soup some smoky depth. If you have scallions or toasted nuts on hand (pictured), great! Toss some on as well.

Hope you enjoy the soup, and for those of you who have never tried split peas, this might be the time to give them a go! 

Variations

A number of you had great suggestions for tweaks and variations in the comments. Here are a couple that stood out.

Renae took the soup in a more herb-forward direction. “This soup is divine. I added fennel and sage to give it a warmer texture. Used almond milk to thin it out while blending.”

Jesper noted, “Great looking soup. Instead of using cubed bouillon, I use the water left over from cooking chick peas. Usually I cook them with an onion, a garlic clove or two, black pepper corns and a bay leaf. The result is a lightly flavored vegetable stock, and it freezes well, too.”

And if you’re looking for more lentil or pulse based soups, I really love this Coconut Red Lentil Soup, and this Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter

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Perfect, Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Garlic Butter

My all-time favorite mashed potatoes recipe with buttery peaks and creamy, cloud-like potatoes with garlic butter.

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I posted this mashed potato recipe years ago, and hundreds of you have cooked them! But, seeing as mashed potato season is just around the corner, I thought I’d update the recipe with a few notes and suggestions. Creamy, buttery peaks and cloud-like potatoes are drizzled with a saffron garlic butter. Top the potatoes with a toasted almond, coriander, sesame sprinkle, and it’s incredibly delicious. Simple, but with enough of a twist to make them special.
Perfect Mashed Potatoes with Saffron Garlic Butter

Best Type of Potato to Use

People really dig in with opinions about what type of potato is best when it comes to making mashed potatoes. I like the creamy texture most waxy “new” potatoes bring to the party. Yukon golds or yellow finns are my go-to. That said, many people use russet potatoes. Russets have a higher starch quantity, and can contribute to a beautiful, fluffy bowl of potatoes for sure. But my secret weapon is smaller, waxy potatoes. They’re so creamy, and lend a beautiful, naturally rich texture you can’t get otherwise.

Skin off or Skin on?

This is completely a personal preference. If you’re serving a crowd that appreciates a rustic mashed potato, by all means, leave the skins on. If your people like uniform billowing clouds of mashed potato, get out the peeler. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two.

The Secret Drizzle Magic

The thing that takes these mashed potatoes over the top is the special butter. It’s the simple combination of butter, garlic, saffron, and a pinch of salt. When you drizzle it over the potatoes, it smells incredible, and is the perfect way to finish your beautiful potatoes. As a last touch, a dusting of almonds and herbs brings an updated accent to classic mashed potatoes, but you can skip of you’re more old-school, and like your potatoes straight.

Mashed Potato Variations

I also love these Kale Mashed Potatoes from forever ago. And if you’re open-minded about a sweet potato variation – these Vanilla Mashed Sweet Potatoes are in need of an updated photo (laugh/cry), but so good.

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Green Falafel Bowl

The star of this show is the golden-crusted, green spinach falafel. Lemon-flecked, made with chickpeas, you see them tucked into this rainbow assortment of hummus, pita, kale, cucumber, and carrots.

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No surprise, the cornerstone of this recipe is little balls of spinach-flecked falafel. If you look at the photo, you’ll see the pan-seared patties hanging out in the 5 o’clock position. They’re crusted, golden, browned on the outside, tender and lemon-punctuated on the inside. They’re also packed with good-for-you greens and chickpeas. I make them in big batches, freeze them, and eat them (allll the time) as snacks, or in bowls like these.

Spinach flecked falafel in a bowl with sides.

Falafel at the Center

If you have the falafel, you can pull together a pretty good snack or meal. It could be something along the lines of what you see here, or something different based on what you have on hand. I had some hummus in the fridge (a red beet version of this hummus), some kale, carrots, and cucumber that needed to be used, and some pita. Also, some herb stragglers. The pita and carrots went into the oven, I cooked the falafel in a skillet, and chopped up the rest. Let’s say you didn’t have any of that, but you did have some romaine, yogurt, and a garlic clove. You could do falafel lettuce wraps instead, smashing the garlic into a paste and adding it to the yogurt along with a bit of salt. Use that as your sauce. The name of the game here is adaptability.

Green Falafel Bowl

Cooking Methods

Once you’ve formed the falafel you have a range of cooking options. If you smush them a bit, and pan-fry them in a bit of oil, you’ll get the best golden crust. Sometimes I bake them (450°F), also pretty-strong contender. I’ve even tested them in an Air Fryer, and they’re one of just a handful of things to exceed my expectations in it (7 minutes at 390°F, shake the basket, and do another 7 minutes).

A Vegan Version

I’ll note this in the recipe headnotes below as well. To make the falafel vegan, you can use flax “egg” (5 T. water + 2 T. ground flax seeds whisked together), and skip the cheese.

Green Falafel Bowl

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