Zesty Winter Squash Soup

December 20, 2015

Zesty Winter Squash SoupAunt Suzy says . . .

It’s winter! Time for soups and stews. This one from our local newspaper caught my eye because Beth Dooley, creator the this recipe, is one of our local food/cooking gems here in the Twin Cities. Also, this looked so different from the soups I’ve been making with a mirepoix base. While some ingredients are familiar – squash, beans, tomatoes and kale – others sounded exotic in a soup – za’atar, orange zest and juice. Randy and I both loved this – we could hardly stop eating it! The recipe says it serves 4-6, but honestly after one meal we only had a tiny portion left for my lunch the next day. I will probably double the ingredients next time I make it.  I was excited that I met Beth yesterday at one of our local indoor winter farmers markets and was able to tell her how much we liked this soup.

Here’s Beth’s note from the article in the Strib: “Note: Think of this recipe as a series of suggestions; you can add other vegetables you have on hand, substitute chickpeas for white beans, try winter squash in lieu of pumpkin. Toss in leftover turkey or chicken and call it stew. The za’atar blend of spices can be found in the spice aisle of many grocery stores, culinary shops and food co-ops. From Beth Dooley.”  Check out Beth’s website for more about her and see all the great cookbooks she’s authored. A new book, a memoir, has just come out!

And here’s my note: I’ve been obsessed with using dried beans in soups these days following the Cook’s Illustrated brining method, so I’ve made some adaptations to Beth’s original which uses canned. If you want to take the quick and easy route, you can do so with Beth’s approach in her recipe. I won’t judge 🙂  (This makes me laugh because when making this soup, I texted my blog partner “I’m kicking myself for using dried beans instead of canned!”) Actually, this was pretty quick and easy using the dried beans, it just took the extra step to brine/soak them.

Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients

2 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

2-4 garlic cloves (to taste), minced

1 to 2 tablespoons za’atar (see Beth’s note)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Generous pinch red pepper flakes

4 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock

1 cup brined dried cannelinni or red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with their juices (1 1/2 cups)

3 cups roasted kabocha or butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup chopped parsley

grated orange zest from 1 medium orange (or to taste)

juice from half the medium orange (or to taste)

2 cups thinly sliced kale

Instructions

Brine the beans: Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts of cold water.  Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Alternatively, you can bring the beans, salt and water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for 1 hour. In either case, drain the beans and rinse well.

Prepare the squash: Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. I used Kabocha squash of the orange variety, but green Kabocha, butternut or pumpkin would be excellent in this recipe. Whichever you use, cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice into 1-inch slices. Line a baking sheet with foil and then put a skim of vegetable oil on the foil. Place the squash slices on the foil and turn to coat both sides with the oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, turn the squash over using tongs and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Let cool. Remove the skin with a knife and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside. (This step can be done up to 2 days ahead of making the soup.)

Make the soup: In a deep stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for about a minute till fragrant. Add the Za’atar, red pepper, salt and black pepper. Stir for a minute or two till fragrant.

Add the stock and the dried beans. Bring to a boil, turn down heat to low and simmer, covered, until the beans are done. This can vary depending on type and freshness of the beans you use from 30-60 minutes. I checked after 30 minutes and the cranberry beans I used were cooked through.

Stir in the squash and the tomatoes with their juices and continue simmering for about 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Stir in the orange zest and juice, and parsley and continue simmering another 5 minutes until the flavors meld. Adjust the seasonings and add the kale before serving hot.

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Holiday granola

Margaux says…

This time of year, when peaches are extra, super delicious at the farmer’s market (and those 4 lb boxes at Trader Joe’s! Yum!) my favorite breakfast is yogurt, granola and peaches. It’s really like a heavenly dessert for breakfast. Juicy, sweet peaches. Creamy, rich (whole milk, of course) yogurt. And crunchy granola, with tons of nuts and a hint of salty-sweet. I also have it for dessert sometimes, too (it’s great on ice cream!) And for a mid-day snack. We walk through one of those 4 lb boxes of peaches in about a half a week!

Holiday Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

The granola is just as an important ingredient as the peaches. It can’t be too sweet, too chewy, or too hard. Supermarket granola, even the best kind, always has a weird aftertaste to me, almost like a coating is left in my mouth. I really don’t like it. Thankfully, making your own granola is really easy. I have two recipes that I use, both from my Aunt Judy. I’ve already posted one, the original “crunchy granola,” that I make on a regular basis. It’s very cheap, quick and easy. I also use this recipe, which Aunt Judy calls “Holiday Granola.” It has a few more ingredients (more nuts!), and uses real maple syrup instead of honey and maple flavoring like the other one. My aunt makes it for friends and family members as Christmas gifts, which is how I first tasted it. It makes a perfect Christmas gift because of the pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) and dried cranberries: it’s red and green. I prefer it to the “Crunchy Granola” recipe, but don’t make it as often because it’s quite a bit more expensive. But it is totally worth it!

Maple Pecan Granola - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Holiday Granola

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup large flake, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1/2 cup wheat germ, preferably untoasted*
1 cup maple syrup
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries, or other dried fruit blend (optional)**

* I’ve made this gluten-free by substituting flax meal for the wheat germ and had great results.

**I leave out the dried fruit during the summer because I don’t want it competing with my delicious in-season fruits. Totally your call, though. 

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Heat maple syrup, oil and salt together, stirring to dissolve salt. Pour over dry ingredients and mix well. Spread in large flat pan (I use a large baking sheet and it fits perfectly).  Bake in oven for 45 minutes or more, until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Sprinkle dried fruit over granola and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in airtight containers.

Note: I have subbed all sorts of nuts for the ones suggested, just sticking to the same measurements. In this last batch I swapped half the pecans for cashews, and in the past I have used chopped walnuts in place of pecans, pistachios in place of pumpkin seeds and an additional 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds in place of sesame seeds. Just make sure all the nuts are raw and unsalted!

multigrain sandwich bread - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Yesterday was a total flop in the kitchen. I started out making this bread, got to step two and couldn’t find the honey ANYWHERE. I asked my 2-year-old daughter, who is notorious for hiding things, where she put it. “Ummmmmmm….in there,” she said uncertainly, and halfheartedly pointed towards the living room. My multigrain cereal was quickly cooling, soon going to drop below the 100 degree mark, and I frantically searched the house, to no avail. I gave up, and scrapped the now very cool cereal, and made granola. (Which turned out great, so I suppose the day wasn’t a total failure. And while I was at my hair appointment, which was also a success, my husband found the honey where Stella squirreled it away in a shopping bag in the kitchen. Sigh.)

weighing ingredients

dough ball

Homemade pasta was on the menu for that night, which I got started on immediately after my haircut. I’d made it only once before, but it was pretty easy and seamless, so I thought it would be no problem to make starting at 3:30 pm. Ha. I mistakenly used a different recipe, and after 2 hours of work had to throw out the whole thing. Of course, I cried. And the kids, bored with TV and with me being in the kitchen, started going bonkers. I turned just in time to see my daughter playing in the bowl of flours that I was saving for the bread I wanted to start on again the next day. When my husband came home from work, I was at my wits end, and said I was never going in the kitchen again. Ok, end of rant.

rolled out dough
rolled out dough
dough log

Here I am, the next day, making the bread. I can say it’s because I’m saving us money, but that would only be part of the truth (good bread is expensive!). But it’s mostly because it’s been a month since I made this last, and I have been dreaming about it. I don’t think I can eat another supermarket loaf again, at least not for awhile. This bread is amazing. It takes my family about 4 days to walk through two loaves. I wouldn’t say it’s SUPER easy to make, but so worth it. This winter, when we didn’t have much to do but sit around and read and play games and make food, I kept us stocked with this bread. So, here I am, back in the kitchen, making this bread, while my crazy daughter is doing who-knows-what. This time I will at least make sure I have the honey, and that she keeps her hands out of the flour.

loaves, before rise
loaves, after rise

 

Multigrain Sandwich Bread - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

 

Easy Multigrain Sandwich Bread - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Easy Multigrain Sandwich Bread

adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (of course)

Tools you will need in order to make this:
-Stand mixer with dough hook attachment
-Two 9×5″ loaf pans (I have made this with 8×4″ pans, and it turned out okay, but I would recommend the bigger size)
-Kitchen thermometer (preferably instant-read)

Tools that really really come in handy when making this:
-Water sprayer/spritzer bottle
-Bench scraper (like this one)
-Kitchen scale (I like this one because it comes in a rainbow of colors, and it slides nicely in with my cookbooks on the shelf because it’s nice and flat.)

A note on ingredients: You will need to get a 7-grain hot cereal mix, like the ones from Bob’s Red Mill and Arrowhead Mills. You will find it in the cereal aisle, with the hot cereals, but I’ve found that it’s not in all grocery stores. I have bought it on Amazon a few times; it’s a good idea if you’re going to use it often because it’s a bigger package. It’s also really delicious as actual breakfast cereal. 🙂

6 1/4 ounces (1 1/4 cups) 7-grain hot cereal mix
20 ounces (2 1/2 cups) boiling water
15 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting work surface)
7 1/2 ounces (1 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
4 tbsp honey *(see below for vegan option)
4 tbsp unsalted butter, *(see below for vegan option)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon table salt
3/4 cup unsalted pumpkin or sunflower seeds (I do half and half if I have both)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1. Place cereal mix in bowl of standing mixer and pour boiling water over it; let stand, stirring occasionally, until mixture cools to 100 degrees and resembles thick porridge, about 1 hour. Whisk flours in medium bowl.**
2. Once grain mixture has cooled, add honey, melted butter, and yeast and stir to combine. Attach bowl to standing mixer fitted with dough hook. With mixer running on low speed, add flours, 1/2 cup at a time, and knead until dough forms ball, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes; cover bowl with plastic and let dough rest 20 minutes. Add salt and knead on medium-low speed until dough clears sides of bowl, 3 to 4 minutes (if it does not clear sides, add 2 to 3 tablespoons additional flour and continue mixing); continue to knead dough for 5 more minutes on low (on my Kitchenmaid, it’s speed level 2). Add seeds and knead for another 15 seconds. Transfer dough to floured work surface and knead by hand until seeds are dispersed evenly and dough forms smooth, taut ball. Place dough into greased container with 4-quart capacity; cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 45 to 60 minutes.***
3. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray two 9×5-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and pant into 12×9-inch rectangle ****(see note below); cut dough in half crosswise with knife or bench scraper. With short side facing you, starting at farthest end, roll one dough piece into a log. Pinch seam together gently. Spritz with water all over, then roll in the oats so that they completely cover the loaf. Drop loaf into prepared pan, then repeat process for second loaf. Cover loaves lightly with plastic wrap and let rise until almost doubled in size, 30 to 40 minutes (in the winter, when my kitchen is chilly, I rise the loaves on my stovetop while the oven is preheating). Dough should barely spring back when poked with your knuckle when it is ready to go in the oven. Bake until internal temperature registers 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 35-40 minutes. (I start checking at 30 minutes). Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire rack before slicing, about 3 hours.

Notes:

This bread is called easy, and it is. The 7-grain cereal replaces a whole bunch of different flours, so the ingredient list is pretty minimal for a multigrain bread. I’ve never been much of a bread-baker; baking with yeast seemed daunting to me. This was one of the first bread recipes I ever tried, and it turned out great the first time! However, it is time consuming. It takes almost 4 hours to make this, from start to finish, including resting and rising times. The nice part is that you can get the hot cereal mix going, and get all your other ingredients ready while it’s cooling. But for me, the rest and rise times just aren’t quite long enough for me to go anywhere, so it has to be made on a day that I’ll be sticking around the house.

*Vegan options: For the butter, you can probably substitute Earth Balance, but my trusted vegan source says that what’s way way better is making your own vegan butter from scratch. She uses this recipe. For the honey, my source recommends “Honee”, which is a vegan honey substitute made from apples and lemon. Agave syrup would probably be too sweet, and I think maple syrup is too strong of a flavor, although if you can’t find Honee and don’t want to order on Amazon, maple syrup is probably your best bet.

**Having a digital kitchen scale is so very helpful when baking. I just started doing this, and wish I would have started years ago! It’s a more accurate way to measure flour and other dry ingredients, and it is super fast and easy. I just put my bowl on the scale, hit “tare”, add the first ingredient, then hit “tare” again, and add the next ingredient. “Tare” clears the scale, so you are weighing just what you’re putting in after pushing it. I recommended a scale above, but you can find ones even cheaper on Amazon that get good reviews.

***An easy way to get your dough to the perfect 12×9″ size before making into loaves, spread your flour out on the counter, and then draw a 12×9″ rectangle in the flour with your finger. Then plop your dough in the middle of the rectangle and gently press it to the edges of the drawn rectangle. (See photos)

quick tip
rolled out dough

 

****Today while baking the bread, I ended up running out of time before it would be ready to go in the oven, so I tried slowing down the final rise process by putting the prepared loaves in the refrigerator. They ended up still really great, so if you are short on time for some reason, I recommend putting your prepared loaves in the fridge until you can bake them. I’m not sure exactly how long you can do this for…the recommended rise time for the loaves is 35-40 minutes at room temperature. I put them in the fridge right after preparing them, and took them out to bake about 3.5 hours later and they had doubled in size in the fridge. I let them get back to room temperature (set them on the stovetop while the oven preheated) before baking. I don’t think you could let them sit in the fridge for much longer than that since they doubled already in that amount of time…definitely not overnight. But this is a quick fix if you somehow run short on time and need to come back to it later!

Roasted Tomato Salsa

September 10, 2014

Grilled Tomato Salsa

 

Margaux says…

I don’t know why it took me so long to make salsa.  I make so many other things from scratch, like salad dressing, hummus, granola, sometimes peanut or almond butter…why wouldn’t I make my own salsa, too?  So this summer I’ve been making salsa as often as I make hummus, like, weekly!  It’s so much better than store bought.  I’m posting this recipe because it’s the easiest, quickest, and most fresh tasting for all your garden tomatoes you’re harvesting (and I’m pining after!).

The original recipe called for grilling the tomatoes, but I tried that once and found that it just dried them out too much, and the salsa ended up really thick.  If you have exceptionally juicy romas, it might work better, and then you would get that nice fire-roasted charcoal flavor, but I recommend sticking to the oven method if not.  I got the idea of broiling them in the oven from a Martha Stewart chili recipe that we also love.  The oven method still chars them, and really brings out the flavor of the tomato (we also love oven roasted tomatoes around here…if you haven’t tried that yet, I highly recommend it).

Roasted Tomato Salsa

This makes a pretty small batch…just a little more than a jar of salsa that you would buy at the store.

4 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half

1-2 jalapenos, sliced in half and seeded  (*note on spiciness below)

1/4 red onion

1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro

juice from 1/2 lime

salt and pepper

Preheat your broiler on high, and place the rack 3″ from the heat source.  Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place vegetables on sheet and broil for about 5 minutes, until they start to char.  Take jalapeno and onion off and place in a food processor or blender.  Turn tomatoes over, and broil for another few minutes until they start to char on the other side.  Remove from oven, take skins off of tomatoes, and place in the food processor or blender.  Pulse a couple times, then add cilantro, lime, salt and pepper.  I add about 1/4 tsp salt, and then pulse a few times until it’s the desired consistency.  Pour into a bowl, taste, and stir in more salt and pepper if needed.  Store in an airtight container for up to a week, or freeze.

*Note on spicy.  We like our salsa really spicy, and our son likes it kind of spicy, and our daughter likes it mild.  Ha.  So it all depends on the jalapeno seeds.  If you don’t take out any seeds, you’re gonna have pretty spicy salsa.  If it’s a good jalapeno, it’s gonna be really spicy.  For medium spicy, I take out all but a tiny bit of the seeds.  For mild salsa, I take out every trace of seeds from the jalapeno.

Sweet Onion Jam

July 8, 2014

 

Sweet Onion Jam | Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

I was in our local coop the other day and was happy to see Chef Kate of Community Cooking with Kate doing a food demo.  The things she demos are always delicious and use seasonal ingredients, plus she gives out recipes!  I especially liked this onion jam, something I don’t think I’ve ever tasted before. Yum!  I made this yesterday for a potluck dinner + movie with friends for our appetizer. Chef Kate served the jam with gruyere cheese and artisan nut thins crackers, so I followed suit. I have to confess I was a little worried whether we would like this. Not to worry, every last morsel of crackers, jam and cheese were gobbled up with a side of rave reviews! So next time you want to serve a unique appetizer, I highly recommend this. A glass of Prosecco is a great match.

2 large sweet onions, like Vidalia

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or a few sprigs of fresh

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup dried apricots, diced

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar

NOTE: you can adjust ingredients up or down to taste. You can also substitute golden raisins for the apricots.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottom pan over medium heat till shimmering. Add the onions and the salt and saute for about 15 minutes, until translucent and fragrant.

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Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

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Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes until caramelized. Check every so often to stir and add water if it’s becoming too dry in order to prevent scorching. I used the entire 45 minutes.

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Serve with cheese and crackers or crostini. I think a manchego or a pecorino romano would work well as options to the gruyere. Randy thought this was equally delicious without the cheese.

 

Quinoa with Beets and Sweet Potatoes - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We eat quinoa like it’s going out of style in the summer.  Now it’s finally fall (I don’t know about where you live, but in Chicago I thought summer was never going to end!), and I wasn’t ready to give up my go-to dinner starter, but I’m definitely not in the mood for more salads.  So this week I tested out a couple of quinoa side dishes (or in one case we ate it as the main dish with a poached egg on top) that were amazing!  They’re based on a recipe in one of my old Martha Stewart magazines for quinoa hash, which is where I got the idea for the poached egg.  These would be great also as side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner!  Especially if you have vegetarians or vegans in your family, as quinoa has a good amount of protein and can be eaten as a main dish.  I served the beet-sweet potato one with roasted chicken, and it was delicious as a weekend meal.

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables and Brussels Sprouts - sweet & Savory Kitchens

I see Aunt Suzy and I are on the same wavelength…her latest post is very similar to mine, with forbidden rice instead of quinoa.  Can’t wait to try that one out, too!  There are numerous combinations of things that you can toss with the cooked quinoa; these are just the two that I have made so far.

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

We are on the same wavelength! I almost put in my post that I thought the forbidden rice dish could be made with red or black quinoa! I can’t wait to try these.

Quinoa with Beets and Sweet Potatoes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

1 cup dry quinoa
3 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed thoroughly, and sliced thinly
1 sweet potato
2-3 beets with greens, greens rinsed thoroughly and chopped
1 tbsp orange zest
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and chop sweet potato into 1/2″ chunks and toss with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread on 1/2 of a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil. Peel and chop beets into 1/2 chunks, toss with 1/2 tbsp olive oil and 1/8 tsp salt and spread on other half baking sheet. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender, stirring halfway through, taking care not to mix beets and potatoes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté leeks and thyme for about 2 minutes, until they have softened. Add beet greens and sauté until wilted. Turn off heat and set aside until quinoa and veggies are done. Toss quinoa, roasted veggies, and leek mixture together in a large bowl with orange zest. Add salt and pepper if needed.

Quinoa with Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

1 cup dry quinoa
3 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
12 oz. shredded Brussels sprouts
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Cook quinoa according to package directions.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes and squash with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt and place on baking sheet lined with foil. Roast for about 25-30 minutes, until tender, stirring about halfway through.

Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and sauté about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Increase heat to medium-high and add Brussels sprouts. Sauté for about 2-3 minutes. You may want to add a little more oil to the pan by pushing the veggies to the side and adding it (I found the pan got a bit dry and added another tablespoon). Stir in oregano. Turn off heat. Combine quinoa with roasted veggies and Brussels sprouts mixture in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Kale Pesto

June 9, 2013

Kale Pesto - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I love pesto, but I’ve been wanting to try new things besides basil pesto.  This kale pesto is really yummy, and can be used in a number of ways: on a sandwich, in an egg scramble, on chicken or fish, on pizza (which we did the night after we had it on pasta…yum!), or, of course, on pasta.  This recipe is enough to cover a pound of pasta, plus extra for other things on later days.  It really freezes well, too!

Kale Pesto

1 bunch kale, stems removed

1/3 cup toasted walnuts or pine nuts

1 clove garlic

zest and juice from one lemon

1/2 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/4 cup or more olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add kale and boil for about 30 seconds.  Immediately drain kale and run cold water over it to cool it off.  Squeeze off excess water and put in food processor, along with nuts, garlic, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.  Process for about 30 seconds, until its all ground to a fine meal.  Scrape down the sides and pulse a few more times.  With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.  Scrape down the sides again, taste, and add more olive oil if needed (and salt and pepper), and pulse a few more times.  The consistency isn’t as creamy as basil pesto, and I found that I needed more olive oil than with basil pesto.  I think I used almost 1/3 cup.

If making pasta, cook your desired type of noodle to al dente and place it in a large bowl, reserving some of the pasta water.  Add about half the pesto to the pasta, and combine thoroughly, adding up to 1/2 cup pasta water as needed.  Serve immediately, topping with parmesan cheese, and maybe a little toasted walnuts for garnish.  It’s also really good with some halved cherry tomatoes stirred in.