Fresh Pea and Fennel Soup

Fresh Pea and Fennel Soup | Lattes & Leggings

The last time I had fennel soup was at Dirt Candy last spring in the East Village. It was out of this world good pureed and topped with a swirl of mustard green pesto and pickled mustard seeds. I may be one of the lonely few that adores fennel, but the fennel in this soup is subtle. It’s meant to compliment the peas and not be overpowering. B doesn’t like fennel at all and actually enjoyed this soup.

fennel and fresh peas

It may be too early for shelled peas at the farmer’s market, and of course I wasn’t patient enough to wait, so I settled on fresh shelled English peas at Whole Foods. Fennel is at peak season right now through Fall.

butter lettuce

The butter lettuce and almond milk add body and richness to the soup. You could leave out the almond milk and add more broth if preferred. The butter lettuce is local and grown in Brooklyn at a place called Gotham Greens that make high quality lettuces and basil. It’s a soup that is light and could be served at room temperature which is perfect for the warmer days on the horizon.

Fresh Pea and Fennel Soup | Lattes & Leggings
Fresh Pea and Fennel Soup | Lattes & Leggings

Fresh Pea and Fennel Soup
loosely adapted from Giada’s Feel Good Food

serves 4

Ingredients
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
2 shallots, chopped
sea salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups torn butter lettuce leaves
2 cups shelled fresh peas
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
pea shoots, for garnish

Directions
In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until melted. Add the fennel and shallots. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened. Add the garlic and lettuce. Cook for about 1 minute until wilted. Add the peas, broth, and almond milk. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes until peas are tender.

Stir in the fennel seeds and remove pot from the heat. Puree the soup in batches in a food processor or blender. Return the soup to the same pot and warm over medium-low heat. If the soup is too thick, thin it out by adding more broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with pea shoots.

Lemon Farro with White Beans and Broccoli

Lemon Farro with White Beans and Broccoli | Lattes & Leggings

When I first started finding my way in the kitchen six years ago, I had no clue how to cook vegetables. My pantry was stocked with canned goods, and that was about it. Very little fresh produce sitting in the fridge. Sauteeing fresh vegetables was one of the first cooking techniques I learned thanks to Giada’s Everyday Italian cookbook which taught me the basics of Italian cooking. The first saute I made was a broccoli and green beans saute seasoned with garlic and chile flakes. Simple ingredients, but yet so flavorful. It became a nightly side for dinner, and I never bought another canned vegetable after that.

broccoli
broccoli and white beans

This farro dish represents all of these same flavors and even more with the salty pecorino and brightness from the lemon. Farro is my go to substitute for pasta because it’s nutty and has a chewy texture. I look at this dish as an amped up version of my usual nightly dinner side. With the addition of creamy white beans, it’s a vegetarian one bowl dinner.

Lemon Farro with White Beans and Broccoli | Lattes & Leggings

Lemon Farro with White Beans and Broccoli
adapted from Weeknights with Giada

If you’re not a fan of spice, omit or use less red pepper flakes.

serves 4 to 6

Ingredients
1 cup farro
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound broccoli, cut into florets
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
kosher salt and black pepper
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese

Dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon honey
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Directions
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of water and the farro to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until tender. Drain and transfer the farro to a large serving bowl.

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the broccoli, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the liquid is reduced in half and broccoli is crisp-tender. Add the beans and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until warmed through. Transfer the broccoli mixture to the bowl with the farro. Add the pecorino.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the chives. Pour the dressing over the farro and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad | Lattes & Leggings

Hello Spring! It’s been awhile, and oh how I’ve missed you. You can stay all year round if you’d like. It’s been a brutal winter. It’s been months since I’ve seen a farmer’s market outside my kitchen window. I can see asparagus and peas on the horizon. Until then, we have black beans and quinoa dressed in lime, honey, and warm scents of cumin.

serrano chile
Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad | Lattes & Leggings

The serrano chile kicks up the spice factor, and the red onion enhances that. However, I left the onion as optional because raw onion isn’t for everyone. The pepitas aka pumpkin seeds provide a nice crunchy contrast to the beans and avocado. The feta rounds out the flavors from its salty bite. I have to admit, I’m not a cilantro fan, but I imagine that it would be just as lovely as parsley.

Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad | Lattes & Leggings

Spicy Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup quinoa
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup finely diced red onion (optional)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
1 avocado, peeled and chopped

Directions
In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, give it a quick stir, and cover with a tight fitted lid. Simmer for 15 minutes over low heat. Turn off the heat and allow the quinoa to steam covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff with a spoon. All of the water should have absorbed. Transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the beans.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, honey, cumin, serrano chile, and olive oil. Season with salt. Pour the dressing over the warm quinoa and beans. Toss to coat.

Add the feta, onion, parsley, pepitas, and avocado. Toss to coat. Season with salt to taste and serve. For any leftovers, bring to room temperature before serving.