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.




Black Bean + Corn Chilaquiles


I grew up in a town where purchasing tamales from a random kid selling them out of the family car in the Walmart parking lot was a completely normal and legit means of acquiring them. Growing up, there were more Mexican restaurants than I could count, at least two full-size Hispanic grocery stores, multiple panaderías, a carnicería, and many other specialty stores. Suffice it to say, I grew up eating a lot of amazing Mexican food and it’s this type of food that I associate with home.

My favorite place to eat when back for a visit is at the taco wagon. There are actually several, but there is one that everyone knows about when a trip to the taco-wagon is mentioned. It is a slightly sketchy-looking truck that sells the exact same thing at the same price as what I began purchasing 10+ years ago in high school. It’s a place where there’s always a wait, and all the locals can be found, from the hispanics to the farmers to the visitors back in town for a couple days to the locals that never left.


Tacos are our ultimate fall-back food for busy days and we eat them in all sorts of variations. I won’t even attempt to make a taco that tries to compete with a taco-wagon taco, however, and all the thrown together versions we eat are hardly worthy of a recipe. So when The Recipe Redux challenged us to take a good look into the freezer, cupboards, and pantry and find an ingredient or two that had been forgotten for this month’s challenge, I took a good look at all the ingredients that needed to be used, naturally skipped over the fish sauce and wasabi, and gravitated right towards the makings for Mexican-food.


William bought me a giant bag of tortilla chips last summer when I was running a lot and craving salt. They’ve been hanging around the back of the pantry since then because I forgot about them when the weather turned last fall and I never got back to them. They’ve since turned slightly stale.

They were perfectly in need for being made into a dish I’ve been meaning to make for months, Chilaquiles. Oddly enough, I did not grow up eating Chilaquiles. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I had even heard of them. Basically, they are a way to use up stale corn tortillas and are cooked in a sauce with meats or vegetables, or scrambled with eggs. Most variations contain eggs, cheese, and/or chicken. I decided to forego all of those ingredients because I wanted a super tasty meal that can be made with only a few pantry staples, quickly.


This variation fits the bill because it contains several ingredients already on hand: frozen corn, diced tomatoes, tortilla chips, black beans, and a dried poblano pepper.


Black Bean + Corn Chilaquiles, serves 4-5

These can be made even easier by using canned black beans and enchilada sauce, but you will compromise flavor. I tend to make big batches of black beans using this simple recipe. I tossed the poblano pepper into the pot, adding even more rich undertones, and slow-cooked it for the better part of a day. It sounds slightly time-consuming but we eat them for multiple meals quite often because they’re super good! 

1 medium onion, diced

1 bunch of kale, stems removed and chopped

2+ cups tortilla chips

2 cups cooked black beans

2 cups frozen corn

1 batch of spicy tomato sauce, below

cilantro, to serve

lime wedges, to serve

salsa, to serve

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • In a medium sauté pan, cook onion until slightly soft, about 5-8 minutes. Toss in the kale and cook just until it wilts. Remove from heat.
  • In a large mixing bowl, toss together the chips, beans, corn, sauce, and cooked onion and kale. Use your hands and mix gently so as not to break the chips too much.
  • Turn the whole lot into a medium-sized baking dish.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the mixture is heated through and simmering.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with cilantro, lime wedges, and salsa.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. chili powder

1 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. onion powder

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. dried oregano

1/4 tsp. dried coriander

1/2 tsp. paprika

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. black pepper

  • In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium-high heat. Saute garlic until just beginning to brown, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tomatoes and spices.
  • Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium-low. Simmer for about 45 minutes to thicken a bit and have flavors develop. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. At this point, the sauce can be pureed if you’d like a smooth sauce, but I opted to leave it slightly chunky.

Autumn Bean & Sausage Acorn Squash Bowl Soup


When W and I first became engaged, back in the winter of 2011, I was dreaming of an Autumn wedding. Every vision for the day included a leafy branch framing the splendor of the season, billowing in dramatic shades of red, orange, and gold. I envisioned the colors and weather exactly as we have been enjoying these last few days. And when I planned the wedding menu, it involved all of our favorite soups and stews:  Hearty Beef & Mushroom, Creamy Fennel, Irish Vegetable, and this savory combination of white beans, sausage, red potatoes, and autumn vegetables, served in a lovely winter squash. The wedding soup menu, a break from the tradition of a formal catered meal, was prominent in my mind as I formulated a blueprint. I wanted our day to be unique to us, and I am happy to eat soup in any season, on any given day, hot or cold. Why not soup on our wedding day, in the crisp autumn when it is a welcome comfort?


Then all my dreaming went askew as we decided to jump our wedding day back to the beginning of June, and all the favorite soups, so fitting for fall were out of place. No one wanted to eat soup served in a winter squash in June. Believe me, I asked. Our venue was confirmed and though perfect in every other way, the location wasn’t conducive to preparing our wedding meal. I gave in. Soup was no longer an option. There would be no red and golden leaves framing our photos.

Though the day did turn out perfect, it was in a different way, celebrating the beginning of a beautiful summer. The soup waited. And now here it is.


This soup is part of The Recipe Redux October challenge, which is to create a No-Casserole Crock Pot recipe. Though I have made this recipe on the stove top in the past, the slow cooker really is a less-intensive option, and after testing the results, I will definitely be saving myself some time by preparing it in this way into the future.

Autumn Bean and Sausage Acorn Squash Bowl Soup, adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook
2 cups dried white beans, soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried sage
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cups water or vegetable stock
5 tsp. vegetable stock bouillon powder (omit if using stock above)
1 large onion, diced
8 large carrots, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 celery stalk, diced
12 oz. red potatoes, chopped into 1-inch pieces
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 lb. pork sausage 
1/4 cup gf all-purpose flour
1 large acorn squash
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
  1. In a large slow cooker, add the soaked and drained beans, bay leaves, thyme, sage, black pepper, stock, onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, and mushrooms. Turn to the highest setting.
  2. While the beans and vegetables are beginning to heat, sauté the pork sausage in a medium skillet, until browned. Drain off the fat, and add the sausage to the slow cooker. When the mixture begins to bubble, turn it down to medium. It can bubble away for the better part of a day (mine cooked for 10+ hours).
  3. About an hour before serving, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Cut the acorn squash in half and remove the seeds and string. If necessary, cut off a small slice from the top so it will set flat on a plate. Dabble a bit of olive oil into the squash halves and rub it all around with your fingers. Then season the squash with salt and black pepper. Place the squash upside down in a glass baking dish and bake for approximately 60 minutes, or until soft. 
  4. Thirty minutes before serving, stir in 1/4 cup flour and frozen peas into the soup. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Cover again and continue cooking until ready to serve and the squash is soft. 
  5. Remove squash from the oven. Flip the halves onto a plate. Break up the center and edge of the squash with a fork; this way it will melt into the soup better, as you’re eating it. Ladle the soup into the squash bowl, and serve.