pear

babies! / baby spinach salad with creamy cashew dill dressing

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DSC_0227Now I will talk about something that I have no business talking about: babies! The reason I don’t? Well, I don’t have a child myself, nor am I expecting one, but they’re an ever increasing familiarity in my life these days. At first, I’ll admit, babies used to scare me. Translation: they are impossibly small, warm, and they smell differently, not to mention they are mostly hairless and may cry out, poop or cry at any given moment; none of which I am equipped to prevent or stop. How is that not terrifying? But lately I have been channeling my inner, mature adult self, urging her to claim bravery in the face of the small human child. I am even brave enough to say that I want my own little hairless being, but it still makes me uneasy to even utter the words. Why? I have no idea, considering that, let’s be honest, our only real purpose on this little planet is to reproduce and secure our continuing existence and domination over other beings, especially furry ones. In fact, when I begin to mull this over I can’t believe how separated we have become from our instinctual natures and basic needs and wants. But don’t worry, I’m not going to get all philosophical on you because all you really want to know is how to make this kick ass recipe for spinach salad with creamy dressing, right?

But before I do, I need to clarify why the word “baby” even popped into my head. A brilliant and talented friend of mine recently started a farm-to-table style gourmet baby food company in Boston called Lovage (that’s an herb if you didn’t know). Her yummy blends are artfully simple and packed full of the natural brilliance of vegetables and fruits – no alterations required to be nutritional powerhouses for your small furless one. If you live in Boston or the Boston area, be sure to check out her company! Feed your baby locally sourced and locally made fresh food! Hooray! You will also find my recipe for spinach and pear salad with cashew dill dressing on her monthly newsletter, along with everything to do with preparing for and raising an eco baby, just the way mother nature intended.

DSC_0233Baby Spinach Salad with Creamy Cashew Dill Dressing

For the salad:

5 handfuls of baby spinach

3 radishes, ends removed & chopped

1 avocado, pitted & chopped

1 pear, cored & sliced

1 handful of raw walnuts, toasted

Freshly cracked black pepper & sea salt to taste

For the dressing:

1 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked overnight or for at least an hour

½ cup water

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

1 T raw coconut nectar or unrefined sweetener of choice

1 small clove of peeled garlic

2 tsp onion powder

1 small handful of fresh dill

Large pinch of sea salt

Drain and rinse soaked cashews under cold water. In a high speed blender, add all dressing ingredients. Puree on high until velvety smooth. To toast walnuts, crumble them in your hand and toss in a dry skillet over a low flame. Cook until fragrant and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with sea salt and set aside. To assemble dish, toss salad ingredients with dressing and top with toasted walnuts. Makes enough salad for 2-4 furry unicorn babes.

Tip: use extra dressing as a dip for crudité or as a delicious spread on toasted bread and sandwiches!DSC_0223

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everyone’s still talking about the election and I’m like “hey, I made fennel & spinach salad with poppy seed dressing!”

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Since the election is over, I thought I’d talk politics. Ha! Just kidding. I’m so burned out from all the political mumbo-jumbo that I’m seriously considering living in a hut in the woods somewhere. Except just writing those words conjures images of Cabin Fever and Misery type horror movies. So I’ll stay and tell you something of vital importance: Obama has very large ears and a great smile. Romney always looks like has to pee, but is charming in that smug businessman type of way. There, I said it. Okay fine, do you really want to know my thoughts in a nutshell? Focus on the economy and leave the social issues out of it. Let Americans love and marry who they want, smoke marijuana if they want, speak their minds if they want, wear unitards and walk backwards if they want. I’m vegan and I love you, but don’t tell me what to do. I’ll cook you yummy food and be your friend, but only if you hug unicorns, believe in faeries, and laugh and dance. Name me that party and I’m so in.

And speaking of parties, last night I joined forces with Kathryn from The Inner Space pilates and yoga studio and Kim, owner of The New England Pasta Company for a holiday cooking demo led by yours truly. My good friend Kathryn led an informative discussion on mindful eating during the holiday season and Kim offered up her beautiful kitchen for the demo. The menu was 100% vegan and free of gluten, sugar, and night shades! Hooray!

getting ready to demo my vegan holiday menu!
garnishing the baked apples with micro parsley and cranberry sauce
baked apples with savory herbed tofu stuffing & micro parsley!

In addition to the baked apples, I prepared a simple but decadent warm fennel & spinach salad with toasted hazelnuts and rich poppy seed dressing. Cashews and a Vita-Mix play the lead roles in creating a creamy, I-can’t-believe-this-doesn’t-have-dairy-in-it masterpiece dressing.

rockin’ some cooked fennel for my salad
toasted hazelnuts coming out of the oven
warm fennel, pear & spinach salad with toasted hazelnuts and creamy poppy seed dressing!

Warm Fennel & Pear Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts and Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

for the salad:

6 big handfuls of baby spinach leaves

2 pears, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup raw hazelnuts, toasted in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned

1-2 bulbs of fennel (depending on size), tops discarded and thinly sliced

Pinch of black pepper

for the dressing: 

Combine the following ingredients in a high-speed blender…

3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked if preferred

1/2 cup water

3 T extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

1 T coconut nectar

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt

Once dressing is creamy and emulsified, remove from blender and pour into a large bowl. Now stir in 2 teaspoons of poppy seeds and toss with the spinach leaves. Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, add a splash of olive oil and turn the flame to medium heat. Once hot (look for striations in the oil), add sliced fennel. Cook for a few minutes without stirring until it begins to brown. Add a pinch of sea salt, flip, and cook the other side. When the fennel is crispy and brown, turn off flame and allow fennel to cool slightly. To arrange salad, place four or five slices of pear on each salad plate and top with dressed spinach, hazelnuts and warm fennel. Serves 4-6 unicorns who wish they could’ve voted for a vegan president.

thank you Kathryn & Kim for organizing and contributing to a great demo!