israeli spiced tomatoes + pesto beans on toast

israeli spiced tomatoes + pesto beans on toast



A good longtime friend reminded me recently of all the music we listened to in highschool while driving back country roads home at too fast speeds (and more than likely trying to beat the train). I guess I was often the go-to to for music in those days, and thanks to me thinking my big brother was pretty cool, I swung our listening preferences to the heavy-metal-and-lots-of-it-really-loud most of the time. Prior to that I was a big fan of Britney and all her friends, and now to this day I’ll listen to just about anything if I consider it music but have had We Are Messengers and The Digital Age on repeat for most of the last year. They’re basically my preferred pre-trail run jam.

Oh and Britney. Because she knows how to motivate a girl through a Friday afternoon strength session when nothing else will.




In other ramblings, lately I’m into making weeknight meals a little more time-intensive and switching weekends to simple, easy, and quick. I was accused recently of reverting strongly to my Irish/British roots when it comes to my choice of quick, convenient comfort food since I always end up with some version of beans on toast. I let my tomato plants grow a couple weeks longer than planned and the result is this recent favorite. Inspired by Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons, it has spiced-rubbed tomatoes, basil/walnut pesto, and quick chickpeas tossed with parsley and balsamic, all on top the gluten-free sourdough I’ve been working on all summer. (Each successive loaf is turning out nicer and nicer and it makes me so so excited)!




Israeli spiced tomatoes + pesto beans on toast, serves 2
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about quick and simple meals, and some version of this is definitely my go-to. I usually have cooked chickpeas or other beans in the fridge ready to go, pesto in the freezer, and when I’m super lucky, fresh bread (or frozen) to round it out. When I’m feeling extra lazy // need a decent meal quick, pesto on toast with a fried egg and quick pesto-dressing tossed greens also does the trick. 

1/2 tsp. sumac
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large or two small tomatoes, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
a small handful of parsley and/or basil, minced
1/4-1/3 cup pesto
4 slices whole-grain ‘rustic’ bread of choice- a sturdier loaf holds up better

  1. Mix the sumac, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, a pinch of black pepper, and the garlic in a little dish. Slice the tomatoes and lay out on a flat baking pan or plate. Rub the spice mixture all over them and let them sit while you prep the rest, and up to an hour.
  2. In another small bowl, toss together the chickpeas, vinegar, and minced herbs. Season lightly with salt and black pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. To serve, toast the bread, warm the pesto, and then top the toast with pesto, tomato slices, and the chickpeas.



zucchini noodles, crookneck squash, garlic + pesto

zucchini noodles, crookneck squash, garlic + pesto



I finished my second trimester of classes this past weekend and I am sooo happy for a three week break. Every weekend since January save a couple has been taken up with assignments, projects and reading research papers. While I’ve loved the topics I’ve been learning these past few months, they have been more in line with the integrative health and herbal medicine component of the program rather than the nutrition side of things. My knowledge of the multi-facets of health and wellness has vastly improved even as this understanding has helped me personally as well. I’m already relishing this break, finally doing a little much-needed garden maintenance like gleefully wiping out pesky bugs with my bare hands, catching up on some lighthearted reading, and looking forward to delving into the rehab on my grandma’s old china cabinet (so I can finally finish unpacking, maybe?) I am also already thinking about next trimester and very much looking forward to a turn towards what I’ve been told is an extremely difficult class and a little more nutritional science. I think mostly I’m excited for the idea of a challenge–because grad school, working, commuting, and maintaining my running lifestyle hasn’t been challenge enough (insert Rebecca kind of enjoys pushing her limits comment).




Since the last six weeks caught up to me with multiple big projects and a couple long weekends out of town all happening together, I’ve basically been eating this meal on repeat this month and last. William really gobbled it down the first couple times until he realized it was one of only a few meals I’d be craving/making all summer. Now he’s a little less than thrilled when I tell him we’re having zucchini noodles and summer squash again.

I have four heavy producing summer squash plants and between the two types, the making of this dish has kept the harvests in check. If you aren’t sure what to do with an abundance of zucchini, I recommend investing in a spiralizer (I have a cheapo $10 one and it works great!) and making noodles.

The day after I completed my classes, I cleared my schedule, took a nap, watched the Olympics women’s marathon, caught up on all the blogs I’ve let queue in my inbox, pottered around the kitchen and generally felt my cooking creativity come back to life. It is safe to say it’s back in force.




Zucchini Noodles, Crookneck Squash, Garlic + Pesto, serves 2

This is a nice, quick, simple weeknight meal and if you’ve already got canned or cooked beans and pesto on hand, it comes together quick. I’ve been using my pesto recipe with basil and pumpkin seeds as my greens and seeds of choice. Each serving makes a really big plate but basically you’re eating really tasty summer squash for dinner, so there’s that. 

3-4 medium zucchini

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

3-6 small crookneck squash, medium dice

4 cloves garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

crushed red pepper flakes, optional

1 cup cooked black eyed peas, chickpeas, or white beans

1/4 cup pesto

extra basil to garnish

  1. Use a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler to turn the zucchini into noodles. Set in a colander over the sink and sprinkle with a good few dashes of salt. The salt will allow some water to escape while the crookneck are cooking.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the crookneck and garlic and allow to cook for several minutes, until it becomes a bit golden and soft. Season with a few dashes salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Turn in the beans, the zucchini noodles and the pesto. Give it all a good stir and heat just until it all comes together, 4-5 minutes.
  4. Plate up and add a little basil on top to serve.




resourceful hands, all-the-greens interchangeable pesto



I vividly remember mornings at my grandparents in the north, my dad’s parents, who we visited less regularly growing up. Specifically, I remember mashed-potato cakes in the morning for breakfast, their perfect fluffy rounds composed of leftover mash from the night before. There was something special about the resourcefulness of meals at my grandparents–how my dad and grandpa had trout on summer mornings, freshly caught in a pre-breakfast fishing trip to the creek, how the milk and eggs came from their cow and chickens, and how my grandma’s large garden to the back of the house sustained them long past their garden season.


In those days, we ate fairly similarly at home. But I had more respect for the ingredients that went into meals at my grandparents–even when I still hated the milk, refused to go near the trout, and was just as picky an eater there as at home.


Though I may not have wanted to partake in some of the foods that made up my grandparents’ lifestyle, in that pre-teen phase of wonderment, I loved sitting in the corner chair at the tiny table tucked into the kitchen, watching my grandma turn random assortments into a meal, listening to my grandpa spin yarns about his neighbors, his fingers cozied around his coffee cup, my dad nodding along.


In those early years before computers or smartphones or big screens to numb the mind and overwhelm the senses, I learned the art of quiet observation in small corners of rooms with the adults. In those rooms, where there is nary a sibling or cousin or similarly-aged friend in my memory, I watched, listened, and learned. I have always been fascinated by hands and it is the hands that I vividly remember, making it all happen. Hands flipping the potato cakes in the frying pan, the grease popping and squeaking. The hands swirling and lifting the coffee cup and setting it down again. The hands bringing in the basket of just-gathered eggs. The hands that helped mine push the creaky old elevator button leading to the farmhouse basement for another jar of jam. In observing those wiser hands throughout those early years, I like to think I learned to appreciate resourcefulness, of using what was had, and turning near-waste into something worth having.


I am not so naïve as to think the resourceful way of life practiced by my grandparents and parents then was born out of an extreme desire for some romantic farmy lifestyle. It was a way of life because it was what they knew, it was what they had, and it was how they (and we) survived economically.


William and I mutually agreed to forego gifting each other at many holidays over these past few years and we had to gently explain to friends and relatives why we were not willing to purchase certain items that might have seemed basic. But we didn’t scrap on our willingness to really pay the people who engage in the hardest of hand work to feed us. I am more willing to spend on food than these people I learned from, but I still hold tightly to their lessons on resourcefulness. I choose more expensive produce without complaint–but I damn well better try to use the whole vegetable. I like to think this comes as a result of all those quiet, watchful learnings growing up until it has become simply what I do–and every item we throw away goes somewhere.


When faced with carrot tops, radish or turnip greens, and other random herbs, I’ve spent the last few years finding ways to make them useful. My mom and grandma have chickens to eat their vegetable scraps. I have an ancient–but still working–food processor.


And that is how freezer-containers full of eclectic pesto combinations happened.




All-the-Greens Interchangeable Pesto, adapted from Gena Hamshaw

The Recipe Redux theme this month is freezer meals. Whenever I have more greens or herbs than I know what to do with, I turn them into pesto and toss the container in the freezer. This recipe is one of my favorites because it is so versatile and I can make it using whatever I have. It also makes for a simple and quick meal. Our standard busy day go-to is spaghetti with pesto, but I’ve swirled it into grain bowls, spooned it atop toasts and pizza crusts, and even thinned it out to make a quick and tasty dressing for green salad. Try a few different combinations. Use up those herbs and greens. 

  • 2 cups tightly packed greens (radish/kale/parsley/cilantro/basil/mint/turnip/etc.)
  • 1/2 cup nuts or seeds, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (large flake) or 2 tsp. powder
  •  ground black pepper, smoked paprika, or red pepper flakes, to taste
  1. Place the greens, nuts or seeds, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse to combine until the mixture becomes a rough paste.
  2. Turn the motor on and drizzle in the olive oil and water. Add the salt, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast, and pulse a few more times to combine.
  3. Add the optional spices to give it a different flavor spin.
My favorite combinations thus far:
  • Carrot Tops, Sunflower Seeds + Smoked Paprika
  • Basil + Pumpkin Seeds
  • Radish Greens + Almonds
  • Mint, Cashews + Green Chile
  • Cilantro + Radish or Turnip Greens, Pumpkin Seeds, Cumin, Coriander, Red Pepper Flakes + Lime