roasted tomato pesto with bean pasta + sausage

roasted tomato pesto with bean pasta + sausage

When I was told that I’d have to go without gluten for nearly a year I was sure the rapture was coming. I would sit in my doctor’s office while he pored over my bloodwork, shocked about my insulin spikes. What are you eating? he wondered aloud. How did you insulin levels jump this high so fast? At the same time my dentist studied my x-ray, studied me, and asked how I’d developed seven cavities in one year. I was 38 years old, drinking kale smoothies like it was my job and I was on the road to diabetes and several root canals.

DIABETES? You’ve got to be kidding me.

We have an image of sickness. A series of photographs and warnings that leave their indelible mark. I’m a relatively educated woman but I thought (erroneously) that diabetes was reserved solely for the obese, those who consumed processed foods. Let go of this image. Immediately. Diabetes doesn’t discriminate. Genetics also play a role, and seemingly “healthy” people can suffer from the illness. And while I was blitzing up smoothies and shopping local and organic, I couldn’t ignore the pasta, bagels and paninis I ate every. single. day. I couldn’t ignore that sugar and carbs subsumed the measly amount of vegetables, whole grains and legumes I consumed in comparison.

Last year I was on the road to ruin and I had to change my diet. FAST. But holy shit, how was I going to live without pasta.

When I first saw my nutritionist, I completed an exhaustive seven-page questionnaire and logged a food diary. One of the questions invited me to list foods I couldn’t imagine living without. I wrote: bread and pasta. These were my non-negotiables. Shoot me up with broccoli rabe and beets all you like–you’d have to pry a box of pasta off my dead body before I’d let go.

That was kind of a problem.

Recently I read Sarah Hepola’s Blackout. There’s a scene where she recounts lost time to her therapist. Hepola says, Everyone has blackouts, to which her therapist, bristled, replies, No, they don’t. I nodded along to this because I assumed blackouts were par for the adult course. One drank until they saw black. They drank until their mind was literally no longer able to create memories–the alcohol set up shop and was ready to do serious business.

I say this because I have a predilection for liking something to its unhealthy excess. I’m used to creating my own ruin because at least I thought I could control every aspect of it simply because the form of addiction is familiar. We cleave to that which is known–we’re frightened otherwise. And although I joke about chickpea fatwas and avocado addictions, there isn’t a day that goes by that I have to be mindful, aware, of my behavior. Am I ordering that pizza because I want to cope with an impossible client? Do I sit in front of my laptop and eat mindlessly because although I love Los Angeles, although I don’t regret–even for a moment–moving here, I miss my friends so dearly. I miss Amber. I miss Persia. I miss Mauve Cat Alex and Alex Alex (I’ve a lot of friends named Alex).

Food is for fuel not for recompense. Food is for subsisting not for cowering, shielding and hiding.

It took me a year but I now live a life where I’m not tethered to a box of macaroni and a loaf of bread. My insulin levels are normal, and after an expensive summer of painful dental work, I’m healthy, balanced.


Portioning my food into storage bins helps. Patroning farmer’s markets and connecting with the people who grow + cultivate the food I eat helps. California has brought me the gift of incredible produce. Never have I tasted peaches so ripe, with fruit so blistering claret. Never have I seen the diversity in pesto and tomatoes. Yesterday, before I met a friend for lunch, I trolled my local market and picked up bags of tomatoes, basil, peaches, cheese, figs, and local pork.

When I was eating gluten-free (I still sort of do), I hated the pastas. While it’s true that gluten-free fare has come a long way, corn, soy and potato are just as nutrient empty and unfulfilling as it’s white flour counterparts. Some brands didn’t keep well in the fridge, others were gummy and quinoa, for some reason, makes me extremely ill when I eat it.

I discovered Explore Asian’s bean pastas on a lark. The woman in front of me in checkout piled a few bags on the conveyer belt and I asked her if the pastas were any good. She nodded, said some were better than others, and she liked that they had a hefty amount of protein and held up well for leftovers. I’ve tried nearly all of them and they’re pretty exceptional. I’ve made them with avocado basil pesto, with chicken and all sorts of vegetables, and while the flavor takes a little getting used to (think of it as when you switched from Danon yogurt to Greek), these pastas are a mainstay in my pantry.

So after baking a peach crumble (i.e. this morning’s breakfast), I made this exceptional pasta dish. Not only did I need less of it (since the protein pretty much filled me up making room for PIE), I loved the flavors of the roasted tomato and bean with the salty sausage. AMAZING.


For the pesto
1 cup of tomatoes quartered. You can use any tomatoes, but I used 3-4 small of these farmer’s market tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil, salt pepper (all are for roasting)
2 cups of basil, packed
2 fat cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp pecorino romano cheese
1/2 cup olive oil (dial this up or down depending on how smooth you like your pesto)
Salt/pepper to taste

For the sausage pasta
1 package of your favorite bean pasta (I used this one), but you can just use a pound of your favorite pasta
1/2 pound of Italian or breakfast sausage out of their casings and roughly chopped
1 tbsp of olive oil for frying the sausage

Start with the tomatoes. In a 400F oven, roast the tomatoes with the olive oil, salt + pepper for 35-40 minutes until charred. Set the tomatoes aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large skillet, fry up the sausage in olive oil until brown (7-10 minutes). While the sausage is cooking, add the pasta to the now boiling water and cook until al dente (per your package instructions). While both are cooking, add the tomatoes (and their juices), basil, garlic, cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper to a blender and blitz until smooth.

Drain the pasta (leaving 1/2 cup of pasta water aside), and add the pasta to the pan with the sausage. Toss to combine. Add the pesto, toss to combine, and let cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Serve hot with fresh basil and pecorino cheese. Enjoy!

butternut squash + coconut soup with crumbled sweet sausage


I live in a world where Charlie Manson gets married. I live in a world where a woman tries to “break the internet” by choosing to remove her clothes. Our clamour smothers the world’s collective sorrow, drowns out the massive achievements so many other women make. I live in a world where ISIS buys and sells girls as if it’s another day at the market. I live in a country where some people don’t own a passport, and have no wish to see beyond what they know. I live in a world where people prefer to live in a perpetual darkness but they resist the very thing they seek when it’s presented to them. I live in a world where people tell me I’m lucky when I’ve spent most of my childhood mothering my mother and my adult life working for every single thing I own. Luck? Huh. I live in a country where people tell me I should write a book and I laugh and say dark isn’t for sale, kids. What’s fresh in the market today? YouTube stars, people who can’t string a sentence together but they’ve got that blog, their audience and pockets flush with Reward Style affiliate money. Because everyone’s in the business of dealing. Who wants art when you can profit off your personal brand? This is the world.

And I choose to eat soup.

2 lbs of butternut squash, chopped into cubes
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 tbsp. coconut oil
3 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cups of vegetable stock
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 lb sweet sausage, casings removed

Pre-heat the oven to 375F. Add the squash, olive oil (just enough to coat the squash), salt and pepper to a baking sheet. Roast for 45 minutes, turning the squash around midway through so all sides are browned and even. Remove the sheet and set aside to cool slightly.

In a large pot on medium heat, add the coconut oil, shallots, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onions are slightly translucent. Add the squash and toss to coat. Add the vegetable stock and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk.

Using an immersion blender or Vitamix, blitz the soup until smooth. Allow to simmer on the stove on low while you cook the sausage.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes and then stir the sausage in the pan until all sides are browned.

Add sausage to the soup + CHOW DOWN!

tomato + brown rice soup with crumbled sausage


Yesterday was a dark day. The sort of day where you want to draw all the blinds and burrow under the covers. I was at work when I received the results of my initial bloodwork (celiac coming next week, kids!) and my food sensitivities have been confirmed: gluten, dairy, yeast. Essentially, every food product in AMERICA. I spent the bulk of the day despondent, in a fog, trying to make sense of this–how I went from monthly stomach pains and sickness to hives and food elimination–and more importantly, trying to wrap my head around the fact that this seismic shift affects me in ways I never imagined.

I’m a baker. I love yeasty loaves and plump muffins. Baking gave my hands something to do, kept me occupied during my darkest hours. The alchemy of it, the wonder I felt watching dough rise through the small window of my oven, gave me comfort. And now, all of it, is in ruins. My kitchen appeared tainted, bruised, having just survived a purging of all gluten products, and now this. I needed to spend yesterday mourning the loss of the simple joy that only white flour, sugar, and butter can bring. I didn’t need to hear: there are options! you are strong! be positive!

Why is it that we always race to brand a smile on someone’s face? Why is it that we’re afraid to watch someone sit quietly in their sadness, albeit for a little while? There is always this curious rush to solve, to correct, to fix, when all I wanted to do was sit in front of my computer, work, and say, this sucks for a few hours. Allow people trespass to their sadness–you’re not helping if you try to immediately diminish the weight of it.

I came home defeated, and decided to make this soup. It was delicious, comforting, filling –until I discovered that the chicken stock I used contained yeast extract, and so began the nighttime itch.

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to slowly sit with this adjustment. I’m going to have to be more diligent about reading labels. I’ll have to be inventive, patient, and curious. I’ll have to buy books and read new blogs. I’ll have to play this as it lays.

No gluten, dairy, and yeast for at least nine months. I’m going to need to sit with this.

INGREDIENTS (all local/organic)
2 large beefsteak or vine tomatoes
1 28oz can of San Marzano crushed tomatoes
1 quart of chicken (or vegetable) broth
1 Italian sausage link, crumbled out of the casing
1 large yellow onion, rough chop
4-6 fat garlic cloves, rough chop
2 cups of basil (in season only; tonight I opted to nix this)
1 tbsp of olive oil
1/2 cup brown rice
Salt/pepper to season and taste

De-seed and dice the tomatoes (no need to get all exact about this. My rule of thumb is to cut everything the same size so as everything cooks evenly). Chop the onions & dice the garlic. In a large saucepan, add the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic with pinches of salt & pepper. Cook for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. You’ll notice that the onions are translucent and soft. Add the sausage and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Once the mixture has softened, add the can of San Marzano tomatoes and the broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Add the salt and pepper to season, and stir for 1-2 minutes. Bring the heat down to medium. Cover the pot with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, add the fresh basil. You are ready to blitz! I have an immersion blender (one of the best investments I’ve made since I cook a lot of soup), which I recommend. Blend to smooth. Alternatively, you can blend this in batches in the blender. Warning: when blending hot liquids make sure you fill the blender only half-way & cover the lid with a towel and press down. This will prevent a steam/liquid explosion. After the soup is smooth, return the mixture to the pot. It will look watery! No worries, the starches released from the brown rice will serve to thicken the soup. Add the brown rice and cook for another 20 minutes.

In a medium skillet or grill pan, grill up bits of a sausage until well-done.

Ladle into bowls + serve with the crumbled sausage, olive oil and fresh basil. The soup will store wonderfully in an airtight container for a week.


pearl barley and baby kale, corn + sausage salad


I’m closing on my first week without my beloved noodle, and it appears as if I will survive. I’ve stocked my fridge with vegetables, fruit, and meats, and my pantry with beans and whole grains. Thankfully, I’ve some pretty stellar cookbooks from which to draw inspiration, and today’s lunch will be a terrific one.

The original recipe {view it here} calls for mushrooms and red onions, two ingredients I abhor, so I opted to switch things up a bit, and nix the hummus {while I adore hummus, it didn’t make sense for my revision}, mushrooms, and onions. The result? Fresh, flavorful, filling.

And yes, I still miss pasta.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Jane Coxwell’s Fresh Happy Tasty: An Adventure in 100 Recipes, with modifications.
Makes 4 servings
1/2 cup pearl barley {you can also use Israeli couscous}
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 small shallot, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1-2 sweet sausages, casing(s) removed {depends on how much sausage you want in the recipe}
1 ear of organic sweet corn
Maldon salt or other flaky salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice from ½ lemon
1 handful organic baby kale leaves
1/2 cup dill leaves
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves


Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the barley and cook for about 30 minutes, or until tender. If you’re using Israeli couscous, cook the grains per the package directions.

While the barley {or couscous} is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over low heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring often to keep them for burning. Combine the pine nuts and shallot in a large bowl.

Using the same frying pan over high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and the sausage(s). Sauté for about 4 minutes, or until the sausages have some good color. Add them to the bowl with the shallots and pine nuts.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, add some more olive oil if necessary and the corn on the cob. Cook the corn for about 5 minutes, or until it’s nicely colored all over. It’ll make a bit of noise and spit a tiny bit, but don’t worry—the heat shouldn’t be high enough to make it pop and splatter!

Drain the barley {or couscous, if you’re using} and add it to the skillet with the corn, and add salt and pepper to taste. Saute for another minute. Give it a taste, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

Add the handful of baby kale leaves, pine nuts, sausage, and shallot, and mix well. Garnish with the dill and parsley and serve.


file under wow the crowd: one tray italian bake

Today I woke to a signed consulting contract and a slew of wonderful emails from old friends and new. I celebrated by toasting a crumb cake and coffee with my business partner as we made our plans for the week. Already the week is off to a magical start, and I plan to design each day and live through it, ferociously.

Speaking of ferocity, this one-pan wonder was a ceremonious HIT at last night’s dinner soiree. I had the boys over, and not only did they love the simplicity of the dish (juicy chicken and tender sausage — hello!), I fixed some millet with sundried tomatoes, olive oil and a touch of cheese, and started off our dinner with a fresh berry salad spritzed with lemon.

Naturally, we closed our meals with chocolate and conversation. If you’re looking for a simple dish that will elicit awe, trust me on this. TRUST.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Nigellissima, with modifications.
3 large Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 lb of chicken*
1 lb of sweet Italian sausages
6-7 sprigs rosemary
Zest of one lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
Ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Notes in the margins: You can use a mix of thigh, legs + breast, however, ensure that the meat is on the bone. Do not use skinless, boneless chicken breasts unless you want a dry piece of chicken. For my guests, I opted for three breasts on the bone and they cooked wonderfully. Also, don’t use a deep, high rise shallow pan. Initially, I was going to use my turkey roasting pan, however, the chicken wouldn’t crisp up, and the texture will end up rubbery and soggy. Instead, I used a baking dish lined with tin foil and it did the job beautifully.

Preheat oven to 425F. Place the diced potatoes into a sheet pan or large, shallow roasting pan and add the chicken and sausages.

Arrange 4 sprigs of rosemary among the chicken and sausages, then finely chop the needles of another two sprigs to give you 2 teaspoons of finely chopped rosemary, and sprinkle those on as well.

Zest the lemon over everything, and season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until chicken skin and sausages are golden and potatoes pieces are cooked through. Let stand at least 5 minutes after cooking, and you can let it stand for up to 30 minutes before serving.


fletcher’s bbq: brooklyn, new york

Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn
Fletcher's BBQ in Brooklyn

Visit Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue for extraordinary eats, because, quite frankly, this food is too beautiful for type. Experience it for yourself. I’m grateful for the fact that they don’t offer delivery service because that would be…problematic.

chow here now: terroni: toronto, canada


this pizza will make you weep: roasted butternut squash + sage sausage pizza with smoked gouda!

Would you believe that I’ve been haunted? That my waking hours are filled with visions of butternut squash sauces and a butternut squash penne that rivals your beloved macaroni + cheese? Believe me when I say that while I adore the unctuous layers of gouda and cheddar cheeses, while the very thought of a four-cheese mac + cheese gives me palpitations — there’s something magical about a butternut squash sauce.

I was tempted to fix one of these pasta dishes, but since I had a pound of whole wheat pizza dough in the freezer, leftover sage sausage in the refrigerator, it only made sense to turn my favorite dish into a pizza.


Make this. Make this now. And guess what? It’s healthier than your normal take-out variety. And if you want to be even more virtuous, trade up the pork sausage for turkey and add some sweet caramelized onions for good measure.

1 lb whole wheat pizza dough
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and chopped
1/2 lb ground sage sausage, removed from the casing
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup smoked gouda cheese, grated
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 garlic clove
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
oil for the cooking sheet

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a large baking dish and toss in the chunks of butternut squash. Add salt and pepper, and toss until the squash is slick and glossy. Roast the squash for thirty minutes or until tender.

While the squash is roasting away, fry up the sausage in a large sauté pan until they’re a sweet, brown and caramelized (approximately 8-10 minutes). Flouring your rolling pin and your counter, roll out your dough until it’s 10×10, 1/4 inch thick. Since my oven is something from the Holly Hobby era not able to fit anything resembling a pizza stone, I’m forced to get creative, so I oil a large cookie sheet. With your rolling pin, roll up the dough and add it to your sheet/stone, if you’re lucky enough to own a brick oven or whatnot.

Once the squash is roast tender, transfer the hot squash into a blender, adding in the milk, stock, chopped thyme + garlic, salt and pepper. Hold a damp cloth over the top of the blender as you blitz to a puree. You don’t want a liquid smoothie, per se, but you want a thick sauce.

Brush olive oil on top of the pizza dough. Spoon a thin layer of squash, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Add the sausage, cheeses, and thyme to the top.

Bake in an oven for 10 minutes, rotating half-way through, until the pizza crust is golden and cheese, unctuous and bubbling.

Serve pipping hot!!

Cooks’ Notes
As always, I never use products that contain HFCS or partially hydrogenated oils. I scored my pizza dough from Whole Foods, but feel free to ask your local pizzeria. My milk + mozzarella are part skim (this is purely reflective of my taste), and the smoked gouda gives the pizza depth of nutty, salty flavor — a perfect contrast to the sausage.


too beautiful for type: grano, new york city

Cavatelli + Sausage
After a twenty-hour sojourn, which comprised of four planes, four states, two storms, sweet tea, and an hour-long client kick-off meeting, I came home last night and collapsed onto my couch — face-first. I fell into a deep sleep, the sleep of children, and I woke invigorated and ready to embrace New York autumn in all its plumage. From the terracota leaves on the verge of curling and burning to the pumpkin-strewn windows and sidewalk vendors hocking pashminas, I focused my day on returning to myself. After a grueling workout, I sipped green juice (the triumphant return of KALE!) and found my way to Grano Trattoria, my beloved eatery in Greenwich village. Clearly, I have my friend Kate to thank for leading me to this sweet spot, but every time I want delicious, simple Southern Italian fare, I trek to Grano.

Who could possibly deny a squash and spinach salad replete with local cheeses and toasted walnuts? Who could refuse a bread basket accompanied by spicy ricotta instead of the requisite olive oil and cracked pepper? At Grano, the menu is seasonal and filled with homemade pastas and mouth-watering antipasti.

Today, I chowed down on my mainstay, Cavatelli Pugliesi, hand-rolled pasta with homemade sausage finished in a light tomato sauce. Words cannot even EXPRESS how incredible this dish is. So much so that I order it nearly EVERY SINGLE TIME I set foot in Grano. From the light, al dente texture of the pasta to the sweet, herbed sausage and luscious marinara, I won’t blame you for passing out whilst eyeing these photos.

So if you’re in New York and want to escape the Italian tourist traps, I implore you to check out Grano.

Cavatelli + Sausage


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