Tangy Veggie Wrap

There’s nothing quite like eating a homemade meal, prepared with organic healthy ingredients and tons of love. This lovely tangy veggie wrap with lemon-dill hummus spread is easy to make and will soon be a favorite selection for lunch, dinner or a snack. I teach this recipe in my cooking classes for kids and they love it too!


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium zucchini cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium yellow squash cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium fennel cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium tomato cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 medium garlic clove, minced
A pinch of sea salt
Lemon Dill Hummus (recipe here)
4-6 organic lavash bread sheets (10 x 12 inches, plain or flavored)

In a skillet, heat olive oil until hot. Add all of the vegetables to pan and pinch of sea salt. Sauté over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are lightly cooked and remain crunchy. Remove from the stove and let it stand at the room temperature while you are making the lemon-dill hummus spread.

To assemble, place a lavash bread sheet (10 x 12 inches) on a plate, spread a layer of lemon-dill hummus, then sprinkle 3 tablespoons of the veggie mixture. Start rolling the wrap. Cut the veggie wrap diagonally and enjoy.

YIELD: 4-6 servings

SOURCE: Chef Ellie Lavender of Lavender Design + Cuisine is a vegan Mediterranean personal chef, culinary instructor and artisan chocolatier. Her next cooking and wine pairing class is A Taste of Spain on Your Plate on Saturday,  April 7, 2018.

Lemon-Dill Hummus

The beauty of making hummus at home is that you can play around with the ingredients of your liking. I like to use a variety of beans and fresh herbs when making lemon-dill hummus. Enjoy this spread with pita bread, wholegrain crackers, or a filling for sandwiches.


2 cans white kidney beans (AKA fagioli or cannellini beans), liquid drained
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 garlic cloves, pealed and roughly chopped
1/3 extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup lemon rind (zest), about 2 lemons
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup small capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
A few dill sprigs for garnish
Extra olive oil, for garnish
Extra lemon zest, for garnish
Extra capers, for garnish


Place all ingredients into a food processor bowl. Process until the hummus is coarsely pureed.

Place hummus in a bowl, drizzle some olive oil, and garnish with lemon zest, capers, and dill.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Toast pita bread lightly, place a spoon full of hummus on it and garnish lemon rind, capers and dill.
  • Enjoy hummus with a few slices of persimmons or any other fruits of your liking.

YIELD:  Serves 4-6

SOURCE: Chef Ellie Lavender

Savory Beetroot Walnut Spread

Beetroots are high in immune-boosting vitamin C, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium (essential for healthy nerve and muscle function) and manganese (which is good for your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas). Beetroots also contain vitamin B folate which helps reduce the risk of birth defects.

This beautiful and colorful spread is super yummy, highly nutritious and very easy to make. It’s wonderful with seeded baguette, wholegrain crackers, pita chips, and veggies too. It’s even more delightful with a glass of fruity red wine such as Pinot Noir.

You can enjoy it as spread on sandwiches, pizza or flatbread and more. Let your culinary imagination go wild!


3 medium red beetroots
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1/4 cup toasted pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/5 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon rind (zest)
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
Few fresh dill sprigs


Preheat oven to 425°F.

Peel beetroots, wash and pat dry with paper towel. Chop into medium size pieces, drizzle with olive oil, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Line a pyrex glass baking dish loosely covered with parchment paper and spread beets in one layer. (Using a Pyrex glass pan accelerates the cooking time, but you can also use a baking sheet.) Remove beetroots from the oven and let them cool for 30 minutes.

In a food processor, combine roasted beetroots, walnuts, seal salt, olive oil, cumin seeds, and garlic cloves. Process until roughly smooth. Add Meyer lemon rind and juice and process 3-4 more times. Place the mixture in a bowl and garnish with crushed pistachios, a few shreds of Meyer lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.

YIELD: About 10 servings

SOURCE: Chef Ellie Lavender of Lavender Design + Cuisine is a vegan Mediterranean personal chef, culinary instructor and artisan chocolatier. Her next cooking and wine pairing class is A Taste of Spain on Your Plate on Saturday,  April 7, 2018.

Spicy Glazed Pecans

Serve candied pecans with a festive wine for a holiday appetizer or sprinkle a few into salads. For a delightful homemade gift, make up a few batches and place in airtight jars.


1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 teaspoons water
2 cups pecans


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, kosher salt and cayenne pepper.

Add the pecans to the powdered sugar mixture with 4 teaspoons of water. Gently stir until the powdered sugar mixture dissolves into a sticky glaze and coats the pecans. If mixture is too dry, add another drop or two of water.

Pour the pecans onto the parchment lined baking sheet and spread nuts out in a single layer. Drizzle any remaining glaze over the nuts. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the pecans are crusty on top and caramelized and golden on the bottom. Immediately remove the pecans from the baking sheet by lifting the parchment off of the hot baking sheet. Allow pecans to cool completely on the countertop. Once cooled, remove the pecans from the parchment, breaking apart any clusters if necessary, and store in an airtight container.

YIELD: Makes 2 cups

SOURCE: Adapted from recipe by Chef Jennifer Segal, Once Upon A Chef

Nadine’s Garlic Aioli


As a regular customer at the Aptos Farmers Market, Nadine Frush can be spotted there almost every week carrying bags full of fresh produce from her favorite farmers. She also happens to be a wonderful cook — no surprise there!

Garlic aioli is one of her signature condiments that she keeps on hand. When I mentioned that we needed a good recipe for aioli for the Crispy Fried Calamari recipe, Nadine said, “Here’s the recipe I use for my garlic aioli. It’s based on a recipe that appeared in New Recipes for the Cuisinart by James Beard and Carl Jerome — a wonderful little book under 100 pages with great recipes.”

What’s the difference between aioli and mayonnaise? Basically, it’s the same condiment — however, aioli contains garlic.

Garlic aioli is especially delicious served with crispy calamari or shrimp, crab, boiled small potatoes, homemade French fries, or crudites.


1 large egg
1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups peanut oil*
1 clove of peeled, finely minced garlic
Optional flavor variations:

  • 8 anchovy fillets
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 6 spinach leaves, 6 parsley sprigs, 4 green onions cut up, 4 sprigs of tarragon, 2 sprigs of dill


In the bowl of a food processor using the metal blade, add vinegar, egg, salt and pepper. Give the mixture two quick pulses and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then process until blended. While the food processor is running, slowly start dripping in the oil. As soon as it starts to thicken (when about 1/3 of the oil remains), you can speed up the pouring. Add the garlic (or other add ins). Refrigerate immediately. Aioli is good for about a week.

* Nadine is French, and she says that where her family is from in France, “Our aioli is always made with peanut oil.” However, if you don’t have peanut oil on hand, you can use 3/4 canola oil and 1/4 olive oil. Don’t use all virgin olive oil for aioli — it overwhelms the flavor of the sauce. If you want to use all olive oil, a better choice is a blend or a very light olive oil.

Here’s a video about making aioli without a food processor. It’s a slightly different recipe, but the method is worth learning.



Spicy Maple Glazed Mixed Nuts


1 cup raw almonds
1 cup pecans
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup shelled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas) or sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rosemary leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon hot smoked Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt


Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine almonds, pecans, walnuts, pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds, if using), maple syrup, oil, rosemary, red pepper flakes, paprika, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss to evenly coat nuts.

Place nut mixture on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil and place in oven. Roast the nuts, tossing occasionally, until they are toasted and caramelized, about 20–25 minutes.

Transfer nuts to a sheet of parchment paper and spread into in an even layer, breaking up to prevent clusters from forming. Allow to cool.

Store airtight at room temperature.

YIELD: 8 servings

Fig and Toasted Walnut Tapenade with Goat Cheese

Here’s the perfect appetizer for a Thanksgiving gathering — and you’ll most of the ingredients at the farmers markets!


1 cup chopped dried Calimyrna figs, stems removed
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
10 oz. fresh soft goat cheese (about two logs), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
1/4 cup toasted walnut halves
Fresh thyme sprigs
Assorted crackers


In a medium saucepan, combine chopped figs and 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook until liquid evaporates and figs are soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl to cool.

Add olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, capers, and chopped thyme to fig mixture and stir to combine. Season tapenade to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

Just before serving, stir in chopped walnuts.

To serve, arrange goat cheese rounds in a circle in the center of medium platter. Spoon tapenade into center of cheese circle. Garnish with walnut halves, thyme sprigs, and serve with crackers.

NOTE: Tapenade can be made 3 days ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Garlic Flan Tarts

This recipe was adapted from one of my all-time favorite cookbooks, The Flavor of California: Fresh Vegetarian Cuisine from the Golden State, by Marlena Spieler. Don’t be shocked by the amount of garlic — the garlic cloves will soften and become very sweet and mellow. Serve individual tarts on a bed of lightly dressed greens. It makes an impressive first course or light lunch entrée.


Pastry for lining 6-8 individual tart pans, par-baked*
30 large garlic cloves, peeled, and dried ends removed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable (or chicken broth if not vegetarian)
1 tablespoon of fresh sage, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme
Freshly ground white pepper and salt to taste
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup whipping cream
4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped


Preheat oven to 325°F.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat and add the flour, stirring and cooking the roux until lightly golden. Add the vegetable or chicken stock slowly, whisking constantly until the sauce starts to thicken. Reduce heat and add the garlic cloves and cook until the garlic is tender and the sauce is reduced by nearly half (about 10 minutes). Add the sage or thyme and white pepper. Set sauce aside to cool slightly.

Whisk the eggs with cream, Parmesan cheese, and chopped garlic. Whisk egg mixture in the cooked garlic sauce until well combined. Pour the custard into the tart shells. Bake until the custard has set, about 15-20 minutes. Allow tarts to cool.

Tarts are best served at room temperature.

Makes 6-8 small tarts, depending on tart pan size.

* Line small tart pans (such as white ceramic dishes that hold about 1/2 cup of filling) with a homemade Pâte Brisée pastry or store-bought piecrust and bake until very lightly browned in a hot oven.

Pickled Strawberries

These pickled strawberries are bright, crunchy and versatile. They are a delicious addition to salads. They are great coarsely chopped, tossed with fresh herbs and served with seafood or use as an accompaniment on a cheese plate.


1 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
6 ounces ice
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 ounce fresh ginger, sliced
1/2 cup lime juice
1 basket of strawberries cut into quarters


Place white and red vinegar and sugar-salt-spice ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil, stirring occasionally. Transfer the liquid to a container and add the ice. Cool the mixture completely.

Once chilled, add the lime juice then strain the pickling liquid over the strawberries pressing down on them gently to submerge. Allow them to pickle until desired flavor is achieved.

SOURCE: Recipe from Kendra Baker, The Picnic Basket

Green Garlic Hummus

Green garlic packs wallop of garlicky goodness into this easy appetizer. This hummus is best served and eaten right away, since the flavor will intensify. Serve with crackers, pita bread, or fresh veggies.


1 bunch green garlic (6 to 8 stalks), cleaned, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Place chopped green garlic into a food processor bowl and pulse until very finely chopped. Add the lemon juice and salt and process until puréed. Add the chickpeas and pulse until mixture is combined. While processor is running, drizzle in olive oil until a puree forms again. Stir in lemon zest. Adjust seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.