ligurian chard with pine nuts, quinoa + feta

To say that I’ve an addictive personality would be an understatement. I tend to cleave to things, people, to an excess, to the point where the very thing I once love begins to sicken me. From the blueberry muffin to the glorious almond croissant (I won’t quit you!) to toxic girlfriends, my addiction has run the gamut so I’ve got to be careful.

One of the reasons why I subscribed to Blue Apron Meals {brief parenthetical: I’m in no way, shape or form being compensated or incentivized to prattle on endlessly about these guys — I just seriously love the service and have gotten scores of my work colleagues hooked} is the fact that it affords me meal diversity because I tend to get into a food rut when under considerable work stress. Then all of a sudden the delivery guys have my phone number programmed into their cell phones, and my garbage bin is piled high with leftover tubs of gnocchi pesto. NOT GOOD, PEOPLE. No wins in this scenario and a month of wearing leggings is the epitome of the downward spiral.

So today after French class I raced home and cooked up some healthy and FLAVORFUL chard with pine nuts, feta and quinoa. Not only do I feel virtuous about the food I’m eating (and the money I’m saving), I’m not hitting the Italian restaurant on speed dial.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Blue Apron Meals
1 bunch swiss chard
1 cup quinoa
1/4 cup golden raisins
4oz feta cheese
1 tbsp pine nuts
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic
8-10 Kalamata olives
1 cup vegetable broth
1 small onion
1 lemon


First, put a medium pot of water to a boil. Wash the chard, shake off the excess water. Next thinly slice the greens, onion and garlic. Finally, pit and chop the olives and set everything aside.

Add the quinoa to the boiling water, add a little salt, and cook for 8-10 minutes. While the quinoa is cooking, toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over high heat for a few seconds. Keep an eye on the nuts as they can burn and then you are left crying because pine nuts are EXPENSIVE and you’ve just ruined them. Trust me, I’ve been there. Remove the pine nuts from the heat and set aside.

Once the quinoa is done, drain it well and mix with the golden raisins, half of the pine nuts, half of the cheese, and the juice of half of a lemon. Season with salt (go easy on this as the feta and olives are quite salty) and pepper to taste.

Drizzle a little olive oil (1 tbsp) in a medium pan and turn the heat to high. Sauté the onion, red pepper flakes, and garlic for a few minutes, or until the onions start to soften. The last few Blue Apron recipes I tried I had to dial down the temperature and time as my garlic was getting chard. I had it on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, adding a little salt so the onions could sweat, and I was golden. Then, add the chard and sauté for a few more minutes until the leaves start to wilt.

Next, add the broth to the pan and simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until the broth reduces a bit, 5-6 minutes. Season with salt/pepper to taste.

Divide the quinoa between two plates (or pack a separate tupperware for work, as I do), then serve the chard over the top. Sprinkle the chopped olives over the quinoa and greens. Garnish with remaining cheese and pine nuts, along with a lemon wedge. Enjoy!


pumpkin gnocchi with brown butter sage sauce


Okay, we didn’t work, and all memories to tell you the truth aren’t good. But sometimes there were good times. Love was good. I loved your crooked sleep beside me and never dreamed afraid. There should be stars for great wars like ours. There ought to be awards and plenty of champagne for the survivors. After all the years of degradations, the several holidays of failure, there should be something to commemorate the pain. — From Sandra Cisneros’ “One Last Poem for Richard”

Sometimes I remember your hair. Getting lost in it. It was a thicket, a great black forest and through the looking glass I fell and tumbled deep within. Your mother called you the black devil and you swore to yourself that when she died you would spit on her grave. And the day that the casket was lowered and a pile of earth was flattened with a dry palm, you leaned in, said your fuck you and did as you promised you would. Back then you were weighed down by me, literally, and in those first few years you told me that it was strange, frightening that I was a child who never cried. My silence woke you, hurled you out of bed, until you found me wide-awake, a mess of hair, your hair, staring at the wall. Looking through it, beyond it, wondering possibly what was on the other side. I remembered walking beside you, and thinking that we looked a negative of two people, skin paled down to bone, eyes black and gleaming. Sometimes I struggle to picture your face, and when I do, when you finally come into focus, the ticking is the bomb and the world collapses around me.

So much hair. You could canvas a country with it.

While I don’t love you, I sometimes think of you. Because you were my first love, my first hurt. You were once beautiful, I’ll give you this. You with your lithe limbs and mint wrap dresses; your hair was a river. I see you as you once were in a photograph, one that you stole (among other things) the day you left us behind. Funny how I can only remember you through the pictures other people have taken of you. There will always be this chasm, this impenetrable wall, always.

As I grow older I’m frightened that I’ll start to forget it all. I’ll forget the girl who spoke a mixture of English and Spanish, said ti-ti instead of aunt, who knew a girl named Tangerine, who was from around the way. While I live in Brooklyn, it’s a Brooklyn my former self wouldn’t recognize. I think of this as I invite a new friend into my home. Because this is what you did back then. Inviting someone to share a meal in your home meant something.


Twitter is a wonderful thing because it’s allowed me to meet and befriend extraordinary people. My new friend Hitha is someone who clearly pursues her passion, is unafraid of taking risks, of seeing what’s on the other side. You could tell this all by the way someone speaks, and today I spent the day on a food adventure of sorts. Hitha and I decided to fix a pumpkin gnocchi with a sauce of our own invention, paired with a tart that only a mother could love, finished off with a savory pie that came together on a whim. For someone like me, for whom baking is a methodical, planned act, I never experienced so much serendipity in the kitchen. And I’ve found a friend, who, like me, will stand on chairs and contort in order to get THE RIGHT SHOT OF THAT OH! MY! GOD! gnocchi.

The recipe + preparation of the gnocchi is pure Hitha. I played with the sauce and served up the desserts. More on that later.

For the gnocchi
500g (1lb) pumpkin (1 15oz can of pumpkin puree will do)
250g (2 cups) unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Extra flour for dusting
A good pinch of salt + pepper
1/2 cup blue cheese (or gorgonzola)

For the sauce
3 tbsp of unsalted butter
2 tsp sage, chiffonade
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp truffle salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

If you’re not using the can of pumpkin puree (and please, for the LOVE OF GOD, do not buy the pumpkin pie mix), peel + deseed pumpkin, slice in medium-sized cubes and cook in salted boiling water for 15 minutes or until pumpkin is tender. Puree pumpkin in a food processor until smooth. If you’re like me and still have residual anger issues, go crazy with a potato masher. Return to pan and dry out the mash for a few minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin, flour, salt, pepper, egg and nutmeg. Use your hands to mix the dough — it has to be slightly sticky leaving the side of the bowl. Divide dough into four sausage-shaped rolls, and roll each portion gently on a slightly-floured surface, about 1.5cm (over 1/2 inch) thick. Slice dough into little cubic ‘pillows’, approximately 1.5-2cm (1/2inch-1inch) each. Sprinkle flour on gnocchi to prevent sticking. With the tines of your fork, press lightly into the gnocchi to create an indentation.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter until it’s slightly browned and carries a fragrant nutty aroma. Add sage and remaining ingredients. Remove from heat.

Cook gnocchi in a large pan of salted boiling water by batches, if necessary. As soon as they rise to the surface, they are cooked and ready to be served. Drain.

Add the gnocchi into the saucepan and stir, adding chunks of cheese. Serve hot with a friend and savor who you are now, how you’re letting new people into your life, but try, keeping trying, to remember where you came from. Because this is how you got here.