Curry Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

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I’m not entirely sure this is a blog-worthy recipe, as no one really needs me to tell them how to make chicken skewers, and pictures of raw chicken really aren’t all that appetizing. I’m posting it anyways, though, because at this point in the summer I’m getting a little sick of the same old grilled chicken/fish/burgers and am in need of inspiration.  So I thought perhaps you are too.  

My friend Alison introduced me to this recipe when we were in law school and for some reason decided to throw an Asian-fusion-themed cocktail party in my tiny apartment (any excuse to avoid studying). I made a Chinese chicken salad that I served in mini Chinese takeout cartons, with chopsticks. This was pre-Pinterest so I’m not sure how I came up with that idea (I think it may have been In Style magazine), but I was pretty proud of myself. Alison made curry chicken satay and it wasn’t until then, at age 25 or so, that I realized you could get such a thing outside of a Thai restaurant.

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The only thing remotely challenging about this recipe is giving yourself enough planning time to marinate the chicken.  The marinade itself takes about five minutes (less if your knife skills are better than mine).  Just make sure to soak your skewers while the chicken marinates.

Tyler has you cook the skewers in a grill pan on the stovetop, but I like to do mine on the barbecue (one less dish to clean).  Tyler also gives you a recipe for peanut sauce, which I’m sure is delicious, but mine is easier: just pick up a small to-go carton from your favorite Thai restaurant.  I’ve never had good luck with store-bought peanut sauce, but if you have you could use that too.  If you wanted to make your own, it’s something you could do ahead of time. This makes a great summer meal or app for entertaining as you can even grill the chicken in advance and serve it cold.  It’s going to be BBQ weather all week so if you’re in a grilling rut like me, I hope this helps! 

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One year ago: Baked Halibut with Tomatillo Salsa

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, from Tyler Florence

For marinade:

1 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon curry powder

For skewers:

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
20 wooden skewers, soaked in water for about 30 minutes
Vegetable oil or spray, for grilling

Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, and curry powder and stir to combine. Pour the marinade over the chicken strips and gently toss until well coated. Cover and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

Once the chicken has marinated, thread the chicken strips onto the soaked skewers. Heat barbecue and grease grill. Cook skewers for 3 to 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Serve with peanut sauce.

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Friday Faves

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{this candle was a gift from my friend Amanda – isn’t it perfect?}

Would you believe this is B&B’s 100th post?  I know, it seems crazy. I have yet to receive a book deal (sigh), but I would like to think I’m getting a teensy bit better at wordpress, at least.  Baby steps. The blog has been so much fun for me, and even though I’m not always as consistent as I’d like to be (see, e.g., mid-May through mid-July 2014), it’s so much more fun to try a new recipe or restaurant when I know I get to share it with all of you.  And – confession time – sometimes I use Friday Faves as an excuse to buy things. Don’t tell.

This week has been spent waiting around for my new baby nephew to make his debut – today’s his due date, and we’re still waiting.  I’m predicting he comes today – cross your fingers (for my poor sister, who is R-E-A-D-Y to be done being pregnant).  If I’m wrong, my weekend will be filled with more waiting. Come on, Baby P!! In the meantime, some links and faves. Happy Friday!

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{delicious and healthy lunch from garden bar in portland – I wish someone would open this in seattle!}

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{cupcakes for my cousin clare’s bridal shower – didn’t they turn out so cute?
toppers here, papers here}

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{this mascara is amazing}

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{some of my favorite things from the diaper bag I put together for baby p}

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{including the most adorable honest company diapers!}

Summer Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes

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If I had to pick two favorite summer vegetables, they might be green beans and cherry tomatoes – so of course this salad is one of my very favorites. Not surprising, then, that when I saw the stalls at the farmers market overflowing with green beans this past weekend I had to stock up.  I’ve made this with green beans from the grocery store in the past and it’s still excellent, but there’s something about fresh produce from the market that really makes things taste like summer. photo 1

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Some of these beans look like they’ve seen better days, but I guess that’s just what beans look like when they come straight from the farm? Because they were delicious – both raw, as a snack while I spent hours trimming them (it was really only minutes, but for some reason that task is always a little daunting to me), and once they were cooked. Aside from the time it takes to trim the beans, this salad takes next to no time to prepare. You do have to turn your stove on, which is a bummer when it’s 90 degrees out, but I think it’s worth it.  The good news is you don’t have to keep the stove on for long.  Deb says to parboil the beans for 4-5 minutes, but that resulted in a bean that was a little too cooked for my taste.  They weren’t overdone, but I prefer them crunchier so would suggest blanching for only 2-3 minutes, then cooling in an ice water bath (or just running them under cold water and throwing some ice cubes into the strainer with the beans, if you don’t want to dirty another bow).  If you prefer a less-crunchy green bean, however, cook them for a few minutes longer. 

Slice your tomatoes in half and toss with the vinaigrette.  Add the beans just before serving. Fresh and healthy, simple and delicious, the perfect side for any summer picnic or barbecue – my favorite kind of summer salad!  

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One year ago: Zucchini and Ricotta Galette 

Summer Green Bean Salad, from Smitten Kitchen (yellow bean version here)

1 lb. green beans (or mix of green and yellow)
1 lb. cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or more to taste, I used more)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or less to taste, I used less)
Salt and pepper to taste
Basil and/or other herbs, optional

For the veggies:

Rinse the beans, trim them (Deb calls this “top and tail,” I just think of it as cutting off the stringy parts), and chop them into large pieces. Parboil or blanch the beans in boiling salted water until just tender (4-5 minutes for parboil, 2-3 minutes for blanch, which I prefer as they stay a little crunchier). Drain immediately and cool, in ice water bath or otherwise.  Rinse the cherry tomatoes and cut them into halves.

For the vinaigrette: 

Peel and mince the shallot and toss with vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil and adjust seasoning as needed.  Add tomatoes.  This can sit for awhile, but wait to add the beans until just before serving as the vinegar will discolor the beans a bit. Toss beans with tomatoes and vinaigrette.  Garnish with basil, parsley, or any herb of your choosing, if desired.

Enjoy outside in the sunshine! Happy summer!

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Cucumber Melon Salad with Feta, Basil, and Mint

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Happy summer, everyone! Sorry for the long hiatus from blogging – I wish I had a good excuse, but sadly I don’t. Life just gets so busy in the summer, who has time to cook? But, I’m back now and I have really good intentions of being more consistent. I have good intentions about a lot of things that don’t always come to fruition (gym, yoga, being punctual, curbing my binge-shopping for my unborn baby nephew – just to name a few), but I have a lot of recipes on my to-do list so I’m feeling good about my re-committment to the blog.

It’s finally summer here in the Pacific Northwest, where we can count on blue skies and sunshine only after the Fourth of July. And with temperatures in the 80s and 90s all week/weekend, what sounds better than a cold, crunchy, watermelon salad? I love getting my Martha Stewart Living each month, but I have this problem where I put magazines in a “to read” pile and then kind of forget about them (see above re: “good intentions”). But it’s my dad’s birthday today (Happy Birthday, Dad!!!) and watermelon is one of his all time favorite things, so when we celebrated earlier this week I dug through my pile and tried my best to copy the gorgeous picture on the cover.

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This salad really couldn’t be easier. Just cut up your melons and cucumber, throw in some herbs (you could use just mint or just basil – Martha only lists basil, and most watermelon salads only use mint – it was delicious with both but if you only have one or the other on hand it would be fine), toss with olive oil and lime juice, and you’re good to go.  The feta is totally discretionary – I liked it with, but it would be equally good without. You can prepare the salad ahead of time and then just toss with the dressing before serving. I like my watermelon as cold as possible, so keep the salad in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.

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Cucumber Melon Salad, adapted from Martha Stewart Living 

(note: Martha’s recipe is for one serving, mine serves a crowd)

One cantaloupe, cubed or balled
One small or one half large watermelon, cubed or balled
1-2 large or 3-4 small cucumbers, diced or sliced
Olive oil to taste
Lime juice to taste
Small handful mint leaves, torn or julienned
Small handful basil leaves, torn or julienned
1/4 cup – 1/2 cup crumbled feta, optional
Salt and pepper to taste, optional*

Toss together your melons and cucumber. I used the melon baller for my watermelon and diced the cantaloupe like Martha told me to, but you could cut both or ball both, whatever is easier. If you’re using regular cucumbers, I would cut them lengthwise into quarters and then dice them, but if you can find persian cucumbers (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, etc.) you can just slice them. I read once that in salads like this everything should be the same size (pieces of watermelon = pieces of cantaloupe = pieces of cucumber), so I used that as a rough guideline.

Just before serving, drizzle the cucumber and melons with olive oil and fresh lime juice and toss with mint and basil. I used only a tiny bit of olive oil and two limes (heavier on the lime, lighter on the oil) but you can adjust this to your liking. Garnish with additional mint and basil and sprinkle with feta, if using (I used it this time, but Martha doesn’t and I might not next time – it was good with it but would be just as good without). Chill in the fridge if time allows. 

*I didn’t use salt and pepper as I didn’t think the salad needed any – but if you weren’t using feta I think a little salt would be good.  

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Miraval’s Arugula Salad with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette (and an easy recipe for Vegetable Stock)

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Hi friends – long time no see. I’ve been meaning to get this post up for about a month now, but for a variety of reasons it just hasn’t happened. Life gets busy, I came down with the norovirus, I’ve had a lot of shopping to do for my little baby nephew on the way (!!!)…..excuses, excuses. Mostly though, I’m afraid I haven’t sat down to post this because salad dressing – especially a healthy salad dressing – is just not very exciting.

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I promise that once you make this though, it’s a lot less boring. Believe me when I tell you I’m not a fan of mustard (or any condiment, really), but this dressing is still somehow delicious. I was introduced to it when I took a cooking class at Miraval last month, and since I’ve been back I’ve been making it nonstop. The Miraval recipes are pretty conscious about oil and salt, but it’s amazing how you don’t really miss them here.

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Isn’t this just the prettiest picture you’ve ever seen? Just kidding, it looks gross – sorry! Thickened vegetable stock sounds weird, I know, but it’s a trick they use at Miraval – thicken your veggie stock with cornstarch, and use it in place of (most of) the oil in dressings to cut fat and calories substantially. At first I was kind of annoyed about making the stock, but it’s actually incredibly easy and makes your kitchen smell delicious. You could easily use store bought veggie stock, however – or just skip this step and use more olive oil if you aren’t that worried about it.

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Just throw all ingredients (except for your whole grain mustard and olive oil) into your blender and puree, then slowly add the oil.

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Whisk the whole grain mustard in once the dressing is removed from the blender, so that the grains stay whole. I know it doesn’t look pretty, but it tastes so good (and healthy!).

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You can use this dressing on whatever salad you like, of course, but in the class we made arugula with cranberries, pine nuts, and goat cheese, so that’s what I did here. I used dried cherries instead (my favorite!) and toasted the pine nuts – delicious as a starter, or add some grilled chicken and call it dinner. My favorite Miraval tip, for the next time you’re entertaining: put on a pair of plastic gloves and plate your salad with your hands – it looks so much prettier that way and you can really make it stand up on the plate. If only I could go to cooking school every day!

Miraval: highlights and cookies

One year ago: eggplant parm (yum, now I’m craving this again)

Honey Mustard Dressing, from Mindful Eating

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

1/4 cup dijon mustard
1/2 cup whole grain dijon mustard
2 tablespoons roasted shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon roasted garlic (or raw, or a combination or roasted and raw, depending on how garlicy you like things), chopped
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup thickened vegetable stock (recipe below)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (black pepper would work fine too)
Chives, optional

If using a mixing bowl: combine mustards, shallots, garlic, honey, and vinegar; mix well. Add thickened stock, oil, salt, and pepper, and whisk to incorporate the stock and oil. Add chopped chives.

If using a blender: Add all ingredients except whole grain mustard and olive oil; blend well. Stream in oil. Pour into a bowl and whisk in the whole grain mustard (so that the grains stay intact – you don’t want them to break down in the blender).

Dressing will be thick and creamy. Toss with arugula and any garnishes you like – I love it with dried cranberries or cherries, toasted pine nuts, and goat cheese.

Nutrition information per 2 tablespoons: 44 calories, 1.5 grams of fat

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Miraval’s Vegetable Stock, from Mindful Eating

Yield: Makes Two Quarts

3 cups onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup celery (no leaves), roughly chopped
1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 cup leeks, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, quartered
2 tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup fennel, roughly chopped (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
4″ x 4″ cheesecloth
6 inches butcher twine
2 quarts cold water

Heat a large stockpot with the vegetables; stir occasionally for 3-5 minutes to prevent scorching. Tie spices and herbs inside cheesecloth with butcher twine and add to pot. Cover contents with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for two hours. Strain stock and use or cool in an ice bath. Refrigerate or freeze for future use.

Nutrition information per cup: 47 calories, zero fat

For thickened vegetable stock:

2 cups + 4 tablespoons vegetable stock
4 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat two cups of stock to a rolling boil. Combine 4 tablespoons cold stock with the cornstarch to make a slurry. Add the slurry to the boiling stock and whisk constantly until the stock thickens to a sauce-like consistency. Cool completely in an ice bath. Cover and refrigerate for later use. Thickened stock will keep up to one week – stir well before each use.

Miraval’s Raspberry, Lemon, and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I attended a cooking demo while at Miraval a couple weeks ago, and these cookies were on the menu.  We were able to sample them during class, and as soon as I had my first bite I knew they’d be the first thing I made when I got home.  The woman who taught the class, Kim Macy, is the pastry chef at Miraval, so she was full of tips on how to make baked goods a little healthier – raw evaporated cane sugar, egg whites, adding fruit, etc.  What’s amazing about these cookies, though, is that you would never know they’re meant to be healthy – or as I call them, spa cookies.

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I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and anything fruity is my weakness.  I love the raspberry and lemon combo here, but I think these cookies would be delish with any other berry – blueberries or diced strawberries would work  just as well – use whatever sounds good to you or whatever you have on hand.  The egg whites make the cookies extra light and airy and almost scone-like. The recipe only calls for one third of a cup of chocolate chips, so it’s just enough to make the cookie feel indulgent without adding a ton of extra calories. I googled the recipe when I got home, and discovered they had even been on Oprah!  One of my favorite tips from the class – if you can’t find evaporated raw cane sugar (I never can), just pulse turbinado or demerara sugar (sugar in the raw) in your food processor until it’s a little more finely ground.

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The recipe says you can use fresh or frozen berries, but in the class we used fresh and Kim made folding the berries in look easy. When I tried it at home, it didn’t go quite so well – there were a lot of squished berries and my batter turned pink pretty quickly. When I make them again I’ll use frozen berries to avoid that problem – should you do the same,  just make sure they’re straight from the freezer when you add them to the dough or they’ll bleed even more than fresh berries.

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As you can see from the photos, Kim is also a lot better at icing the cookies using her whisk than I am – I considered piping the icing on, but then thought the whisk idea had just looked so fun….oops! Practice makes perfect, though, so that just means I have an excuse to make these again (soon).

One Year Ago: Split Pea Soup, Blueberry Muffins (original and my healthy version)

Cookies, previously: sugar, my favorite chocolate chip, pumpkin chocolate chip, lactation

Miraval, previously: magic bars

Ingredients:

3/4 cup butter (or combination butter and coconut oil – the recipe calls for all butter but I used half butter and half coconut oil)
1 cup evaporated raw cane sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen

For glaze, optional:

Powdered sugar, lemon juice – measurements aren’t exact, but I used about one cup of powdered sugar and a little less than the juice of one medium lemon.  Just add the lemon juice slowly until you reach the right consistency, and add more sugar if it gets too thin.  You want it thin enough that you can drizzle it over the cookies easily, but not so thin that it won’t dry/make the cookies soggy.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray cookie sheet(s) with non-stick cooking spray or line with parchment.  Cream together butter (and/or coconut oil) and sugar. Add egg and egg whites one at a time, then lemon juice and zest.   Combine flour and baking soda and mix into batter.  Stir in the chocolate chips, then gently fold in the raspberries. Bake 7-10 minutes.  To make glaze: Whisk lemon juice into powdered sugar until your desired consistency is reached.  Drizzle over cookies, let dry.

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Nutrition Information: (based on this recipe making 60 cookies – which would mean they’re teaspoon sized.  I made mine with a small cookie scoop – probably a rounded-tablespoon-size – and my batch yielded 36 cookies).

Calories: 56
Total Fat: 3 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 10 mg
Sodium: 55 mg
Carbohydrate: 8 g
Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 1g

Roasted Cauliflower, Leek, and Garlic Soup

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Back in November I realized I had only posted five soup recipes in the then-nine-month life of this blog, and promised to remedy that.  Somehow two more months have gone by without any more soup – I’m going to blame Thanksgiving and Christmas, but really it’s pretty inexcusable. We’ve done white bean and kale, split pea, cream of fresh tomato, black bean and pumpkin, and curried butternut squash. I don’t know how I’ve had a (wannabe) food blog for almost a year and haven’t posted my favorite lentil soup, or chicken noodle, or even a chili – apparently I’ve been holding out on you all.  I’ve had a sweet potato and apple post in draft form since October, and I’m thinking I might share that this week even though it seems a little fall-ish.  I’m going to make my grandma’s minestrone tomorrow, and I have a couple others I’ve been wanting to try out, so if all goes according to plan this might be a Soup Post Every Day week on the blog (starting today, of course – I got sucked into Downton Abbey on Sunday night and thus couldn’t get this post up as planned yesterday).

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My girlfriends and I had a “cookbook exchange” a while back – like a white elephant, where everyone brings a present, you draw numbers, people can steal from you, etc. – except the presents were all cookbooks. My friend Karrie brought this one, and although I came away with something different, I had heard such good things from Karrie about Clean Eating (she subscribes to the magazine) that when I got home I ordered the cookbook. Some of the recipes seem a little less “clean” and a little more “diet-y” to me (somehow I don’t think of reduced-sodium cream of broccoli soup as “clean,” and there are a few casserole recipes that call for that, which I found strange), but overall I really like it.  And of course January is the perfect month to get really into eating “clean.”  I may have added a little more olive oil and salt than the recipe calls for, but it’s still a lot less olive oil and salt than usual so I feel ok about it.

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I’m not a fan of raw cauliflower, but I’ve recently discovered that (like most vegetables) it’s pretty delicious when roasted. And even better when puréed into a soup. I am a fan of leeks, though, which is why this recipe caught my eye in the first place. It also sounded perfect for a cold January night – it’s not as cold in Seattle right now as it is in other parts of the country, but it’s still soup weather almost everywhere.

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I’m pretty sure you could roast any combination of veggies, purée them with chicken broth, and turn them into a delicious soup – that’s basically all you do here, with the addition of a little nutmeg (which I couldn’t even taste, so I’m not sure it needs it) and milk added in at the end. Oh, and a few bay leaves.

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Your cauliflower will be very soft after it’s done simmering, so I broke mine down with a rubber spatula before puréeing.  That way, you can purée it with an immersion blender easily.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, however, a regular blender or food processor would work fine.  Adding a cup of milk turns it into a gorgeous, thick, and creamy soup you would never think is missing anything (although as I add in the notes below, a few garnishes won’t hurt).

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Roasted Cauliflower, Leek, and Garlic Soup, from The Best of Clean Eating

Serves 10 as a first course/makes 8 cups
Hands-on time: 15 minutes/total time: one hour

3 leeks, white part only, washed and thickly sliced
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 head garlic, top cut off so cloves are exposed
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
3 bay leaves
1 cup skim or 1% milk
3 cups shredded basil
3 tablespoons hot water

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Toss leeks, cauliflower, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Spread onto baking sheet and roast in center of oven, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is browned and almost tender, about 25-30 minutes. [Note: I was worried that the soup might be too garlic-y, so I wrapped my garlic in tin foil – probably not necessary but better safe than sorry.]
2. Scrape leeks and cauliflower into a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add chicken broth and bay leaves. When the garlic has cooled a bit, squeeze the cloves from the skin into the pan (discard skins). Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes. Purée soup with an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender or food processor in batches and blend that way. Once the soup has been puréed, stir in milk and add more salt and pepper to taste (I definitely added a little extra here as it tasted pretty bland to me – but remember the basil is going to add a lot more flavor, so no need to panic like I did). Reheat before serving.
3. Place basil in blender with hot water. Purée until smooth. Ladle soup into warm bowls and garnish with the basil. [Note: I followed these instructions and it didn’t work too well – although I suspect it might work fine in a food processor, but I don’t have one (wah, wah). I ended up thinning mine with more water and a fair amount of olive oil; I also added a spare clove of roasted garlic and some salt to spice it up a bit.  At this point I started to wonder why I didn’t just use regular pesto, but I suppose that’s not as “clean.”  Though FYI, you could definitely go that route.  You could also garnish with one or both of my two favorite soup garnishes, parmesan cheese and croutons.  But again, not as clean. Alas.]

Soup keeps in the refrigerator for up to five days; in the freezer for up to a month. Prepare the basil purée a day before serving.

Nutrition info per 3/4 cup serving: 76 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 11.5g carbs, 3g fiber, 4g sugar, 5g protein, 114mg sodium, 0.5g cholesterol

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