Overhead shot of mole cauliflower on a sheet tray, tossed and roasted with mole sauce.

As with most recipes, the most delicious ones come from pure happenstance and whatever I happen to have on hand. This mole cauliflower came about for two reason. An assistant who made a massive amount of mole and a last-minute potluck where I needed to bring a dish. I happen to have a head of cauliflower on hand, so I set to work.

I realize this the mole sauce may be a red flag for some because at it’s root, it’s a complex process with 25+ ingredients. However, you have options here. To start, find local Mexican grocers who might have homemade mole paste for sale. This is best place to start. If you can’t find any there, make a quick version from a recipe like this or this. Or of course, if you’re in it to win it, make an authentic batch.

Read more and see the recipe.

Spinach Quinoa Cakes with Garlicky Yogurt | Naturally Ella

There is a direct connection to having a toddler and uptick in the amount of finger foods we eat in our house. Granted, even some foods I wouldn’t consider finger friendly become so but that’s just life with a small child. However, sandwiches, quesadillas, and fritters are all weekly staples.

These quinoa cakes have been around for a bit but I’ve updated it to be a bit easier and really, just better. You can serve them by themselves but they also work on salads or even tucked in a pita. I like to make a big batch and use them as after school snack with these easy yogurt sauce.

Some quick notes. The yogurt sauce is better after it sits for a bit. I highly recommend making this first and letting it rest while you do everything else. As for the quinoa cakes, they can be a bit delicate. I recommend slightly wetting your hand a bit before shaping. This greatly helps the cakes not stick to your hands.

Read more and see the recipe.

Kale Breakfast Salad

Like most recipes, this breakfast salad was a complete accident. I had a couple of eggs and some kale I needed to use. I didn’t feel like scrambled eggs and I believe a disappointing breakfast that was not supposed to be a breakfast salad but strangely was one. At any rate, I dug through the drawers for some potatoes and decided to go all out with breadcrumbs in lieu of toast.

One thing you might notice, it looks strangely like I put bits of ham in this salad. I did not- those are gorgeous purple potatoes from a local farm. They definitely are not required but they do add a certain ‘made you look’ to the dish.

Read more and see the recipe.

Overhead close-up view of vegan chili with cornbread and jalapenos

Growing up, I was never a fan of chili. My family would make large batches of it and I’d always strategically avoid it. I really didn’t like the flavors and I was pretty much anti-anything bean. However, I might touch try it if there weren’t beans but I was never really sure about it. A rather far cry from my current diet which has me eating beans nearly every day!

I fell in love with chili later when I attempted to recreate a lost vegetarian chili recipe for my mother that involved bulgur and chocolate. While we never determined if it was close to the one she remembers, it became a favorite/staple of the winter months. However, I don’t always remember to buy bulgur and thus, a no-grain chili was created.

This vegan chili is a riff on the flavors of the original bulgur version I developed. However, gone is the bulgur in lieu of beans (and lots of them). I also included a bit of pecan meal in this vegan chili. It’s really subtle but I think it adds an extra layer of warmth and a bit more texture.

One note: my husband would look at these photos and think I was in the wrong. I grew up with cornbread while he swears by a peanut butter sandwich with his chili. As far as I can research, it’s a very midwestern thing. However, we’ll have to agree to disagree. My chili always comes with cornbread!

Read more and see the recipe.

Weekend Dutch Baby with Cinnamon Apples

Post sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill. See below for more details.

Usually towards the end of summer, I feel like I’m falling out of love with cooking. I worry that the feeling will last. And yet, inevitably, with the return of the cooler comes the pull to be back in the kitchen. I’m called to bake scones and quick breads. Warming dinners replace the easy summer favorites. And home-cooked brunches become more frequent.

This oven pancake feels a bit magical to me (which might also be why I end up making these more in the fall). It’s so minimal on ingredients but, with the help of a hot oven, puffs beautifully. Add seasonal fruit to the top and it’s a beautiful and delicious presentation

One quick note. I typically push for a greater percentage of whole wheat flour (somewhere around 100%) but I’ve never been able to create the perfect puff with wheat-flour only. This is one of the handful of reasons I keep Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose flour on hand. Of course, you could easily use 100% wheat flour- see the notes in the recipe!

Read more and see the recipe.

Leftovers may sound like unwanted old food but moving leftovers from one meal to the next – slowly dwindling the stockpile – is a challenge and an art form in my kitchen. In fact, I don’t think I can imagine a day where I do not use some sort of leftover in a salad, smashed on toast, or beneath a fried egg. Leftovers keep me from wasting food and give me a mental and physical ‘break’ from cooking a whole new meal.

Three tricks I’ve found to help the most in utilizing leftovers is to always make extra, portion out my leftovers into different containers (such as vegetables, grains, beans, or sauces), and have a well stocked pantry full of tools for repurposing old meals into new ones.

COOKING EXTRA VEGETABLES

Roasted Butternut Squash | Cooking Component

Prepping vegetables in large batches does take a little more time, but it’s worth it when it answers the ‘what’s for lunch’ question. Roasting up a few pounds seasonal veg gets me through a week of meals. Tandoori cauliflower that went on the side of last nights curry can find a place in today’s tandoori wrap, and maybe even tomorrow’s breakfast hash. At the end of the week, mismatched vegetable leftovers can get tossed in a salad, grain bowl, or a wrap.

Most whole grains and legumes take some time to prepare. Doubling or even tripling what a recipe calls for saves time in the future – and excess grains and legumes do well for a week at a time in the refrigerator or for months in the freezer. I may cook up an extra cup of plain quinoa and use it for breakfast porridge or even fritters later on down the week.

Chili Roasted Broccoli
Roasted Radishes
Roasted Butternut Squash
Spiced Zucchini

 

PORTIONING OUT LEFTOVERS

Kale Bulgur Fritters with Garlic Yogurt | Naturally Ella

While it wont work for all situations, portioning out leftovers from a meal into individual components can help make future meals more manageable and appetizing. Keeping the sauce separate is critical – if your making fritters only sauce what you plan to eat immediately. The same goes for most salads – dress only what you plan to eat right then. Grain and noodle based salads are generally fine, and even tastier, when dressed multiple times. Avoid mixing all your leftovers together and you’ll end up with components instead of a soggy pish-posh of food.

Beet Salad with Broiled Feta and Sesame Sunflower Seeds
Kale Bulgur Fritters with Garlic Yogurt
Brown Rice Carrot Fritters with Chipotle Sunflower Sauce
Roasted Carrot Multigrain Pilaf with Pepita Pesto
Cauliflower Cakes with Brown Rice and Cheddar

 

STOCKED PANTRY

Seasame Oil | Fats | Stock a Pantry

Any leftover can be brought back to life with fresh herbs, a squeeze of lemon, some good quality olive or nut oil and a nice ceramic plate to put it all on. Check out my pantry staples- for ideas on how to breathe life into your leftovers.

Herbs
Oils
Dips and Spreads

 

overhead shot of zucchini noodles tossed with a chimichurri chickpea mix

I’m squeezing in a few more summer recipes before October hits. I feel the change to fall in the air but at least in California, summer produce is still quite prominent at the markets and stores. This recipe was voted on in my instagram stories and I’m so glad people wanted to see it.

This chimichurri chickpea mix is ridiculously simple and this entire meal comes together fast. I’m not a pasta-avoider (give me all the carbs!) but sometimes it’s nice to have a light idea in my back-pocket, especially when I’m still swimming in zucchini.

For the noodles, you can really use any size you want. I have a simple metal spiralizer and use the medium-sized blade. Also, don’t salt the noodles. I know some people say this is a must but all that does is draw moisture out and make for some soggy noodles. Fresh is best!

Read more and see the recipe.

Pinto Bean Tostadas with Nopales and Eggs

Today’s post is a little different. Sure, there’s a recipe but this recipe is to help promote an organization that is near and dear to my heart: the Food Literacy Center. September is Food Literacy Month in the state of California.

What does that meant, exactly? Well, as the Food Literacy center describes it: ‘understanding the impact of your food choices on your health, the environment, and our economy.’

Here in Sacramento, the Food Literacy Center is in the schools, inspiring kids to eat vegetables through cooking and exploring. I’ve been in the classes, watching the kids eat beets and radishes with excitement. These kids then take the excitement home and often help push their families towards more.

FLC was the first organization I got involved with in Sacramento and it’s been amazing to watch the growth.

Here’s where you come in. For Food Literacy month, we’re trying to raise money through a friendly ‘veggie of the year’ competition with local chefs. I’m on team nopales, hence this recipe! It probably goes without saying that food education is one of my top passions and I think one of the most important things we can do.

If you believe in the power of food education, please consider donating.
This is such an important mission and hopefully one that will continue to grow.

Read more and see the recipe.

Overhead shot of an 11" tart filled with pears, custard filling, and a sprinkle of cinnamon

Post sponsored by California Pear. See below for more details.

It’s rare that I post dessert recipes but don’t be fooled, I love my desserts. This custard tart has been around for years and has made it’s way through all the seasons. However, this pear version is my favorite. Using slices of bosc pears makes for a beautiful presentation and the custard filling is the perfect partner.

Since September is farm to fork month in Sacramento, I’m partnering with California pear to chat a little about organic Cal pears. If you were to chat with the local pear farmers, you would learn that most of the farms have been in their families for over 100 years. These farming families are multigenerational and the caring for the land is a top priority. Pear farmers are in the process of transitioning more of their land over to USDA certified organic pear orchards as a way to prepare for future generations.

Best of all, organic California pears can be found at Raley’s new Market 5-ONE-5 in downtown Sacramento. This market is a neighborhood store focused on providing local, natural food (including organic California pears!) Just walking through the store is inspiring- I always leave with so many new recipe ideas!

A look at California Pears

Read more and see the recipe.

I always find this time of year to be a bit strange. Sure, I’m ready for cooler fall weather but given it’s still summer, I’m still into all the tomatoes and zucchini. It’s like we can’t be in transition, it has to be summer or it has to be fall. People throw tomatoes and grilling out the window for Pumpkin and crockpots.

It’s okay to enjoy the transition. To still hold onto summer and enjoy the cooler weather. And so, I thought I’d share a few of my recipes that I think make for the perfect transition meals. These are the recipes that are still heavy on the summer product but tend to be a bit more rich and comforting. It’s the best of both seasons, all while enjoying the summer bounty into lat summer.

Breakfast

Egg Pesto Potato Skillet | http://naturallyella.com

One of the reasons I love this time of year most is that I feel like my weekends are slowing a bit and I’m more apt to make a solid breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, and Dutch babies make a return while my egg dishes take on a bit more preparation. Best of all, most of these recipes can also be adapted to use fall produce.

Multigrain Dutch Baby with Peaches (I’d use pears this time of year)
Zucchini Egg Skillet
Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes (Use whichever berries you can still find)
Pesto Potato Skillet
Pesto Summer Squash Toast with Egg

Lunch

Overhead Shot of Chickpea Tomato Bread Salad with Arugula Pesto

I think fall salads are the best. As the weather cools a bit, greens make a return. And so, you have fresh greens and all the summer produce. The combinations are endless (and delicious). Just a word of advice: keep cooked chickpeas on hand. They can make any salad an instant full lunch (or dinner!)Chickpea Tomato Bread Salad
Green Summer Salad
Chickpea Dumplings with Corn Soup
Spiced Chickpea Cucumber Salad
Roasted Sweet Corn Salad

Dinner

Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

This is my favorite category for late-summer meals. I always feel a bit strange cranking up my oven on a hot day but with the cooler nights, I’m all about the hearty, rich dinners. Pasta and grain-based meals top the list.Summer Paella
Farro Zucchini Bake
Green Bean Curry
Summer Vegetable Pasta
Ricotta Stuffed Shells with Roasted Tomato Sauce

Herby Hemp Sauce with Parsley, Basil, and Chives | Naturally Ella

I feel like the key to a solid, quick dinner is in the sauce. There are endless combinations of grains, beans, and vegetables once you get sauces involved. Plus, this is something my entire family can easily agree on: you can never had too many sauce ideas. Enter in this easy herby hemp sauce.

I keep hemp seeds around for sprinkling on morning oatmeal and waffles. It’s a nutritious little seed that can really help bump up the impact a meal might have. I’ve also found I really enjoy blending them, which led to this sauce. They don’t have a strong flavor which makes them perfect for pairing with a handful of herbs.

Read more and see the recipe.

Overhead, close-up shot of a harissa tomato salad made with cooked farro, fresh grape tomatoes, and green harissa.

I feel like when September hits, it’s easy to throw the idea of summer produce out for all the fall goodness that’s about to come our way. And yet, I find September to be one of the best months for tomatoes. The mature plants are still producing and the abundance is still there. The change in the weather also makes me a bit more mindful that it’s only a short time before the tomato bounty is gone.

This harissa tomato salad is a stunner side-dish or lunch salad. I make a note of this in the recipe but I also feel it’s important to call it out here. Make the harissa and farro ahead of time and use both throughout the week. Toss the farro into your morning eggs, use as the base for a grain bowl or more salads, or have a breakfast-for-dinner night and make this farro skillet.

As for the harissa, it’s great with grain bowls, roasted vegetables, or made into another sauce. My favorite is to swirl green harissa into a cashew cream. It makes for the perfect balance of smooth and spicy.

Read more and see the recipe.

Cucumber Avocado Spring Rolls with Herbs | Naturally Ella

This is a monumental moment for this little site: I’m posting a tofu recipe. Tofu, along with mushrooms, just haven’t been my thing. It’s completely a texture issue. I need crunch in my life and the slight spongy texture of mushrooms and tofu just didn’t work with my food views.

However, over the years, my staunchness against these items has started to give way (I credit this to my friend Emma, who has shown me many ways tofu is delicious). These avocado spring rolls are one of the ways I’ve really been enjoying tofu. I love packing these for car trips or lunches; just wrap in a slightly damp towel and place in an airtight container.

Read more and see the recipe.

Pan-Fried Pears with Honey and Ginger Einkorn

Post sponsored by California Pear. See below for more details.

One of my favorite things is to make a breakfast that feels like it could easily double as dessert without being heavy on the sweetness. For example, I could eat these pan-fried pears everyday. They provide the perfect example when I want something sweet for breakfast but don’t want to reach for a doughnut or chocolate croissant. It’s also my way of eating a yogurt bowl where the ratio is 75% topping and 25% yogurt.

The einkorn and the pears really form the core of this recipe. I love using pears because their sweetness allows for minimally added sweetener (which is a big deal when using plain yogurt!) Also, by using a pear that holds up well to heat, like the Bosc variety, it’s a beautiful and easy presentation. Best of all, the pears are high in fiber and carbohydrates which pairs perfect with the protein count of the yogurt and fiber/protein in the einkorn. It’s such a great way to start the day!

I’m excited to be teaming up with Raley’s and California Pear for this recipe. Raley’s is a Sacramento-based grocery store that I love because I have two stores within 5 minutes of my house. Also, I know that I can have my groceries delivered from a local company (super helpful when you have a toddler who isn’t always keen on running errands!)

Read more and see the recipe.