Vegetarian

Tropical Kale Salad

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

It’s taken quite a few years, but I finally have the process down to ensure Matt and I eat healthy homemade dinners. Side note: just because I know what the process is that doesn’t always mean it gets put into action! The key for Matt and I is that by the time Matt gets home from work, dinner needs to be already made, already in progress or, if it hasn’t been started, then able to be ready in roughly twenty minutes or less. Otherwise we end up ordering takeout or making Annie’s mac and cheese or Trader Joe’s frozen pizza.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have no idea exactly why this is the case, but years have proven to me that it is an absolute scientific fact. Part of it might be that we are both always hungry by the time Matt gets home (we eat early, usually around 5:30 – 6:00 PM) and part of it might be that being back together again signals that the relaxing and lazy part of our night can begin. One guaranteed way to make sure we get our vegetables in at dinnertime is to have a kale salad ready.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I know some of you aren’t kale fans, but Matt and I love it, especially when I’ve taken the time to massage and soften the kale leaves. All the toppings and dressing are already mixed in so it’s as simple as dishing into some bowls and chowing down. I wanted to make a fresh version for summertime and came up with this Tropical Kale Salad. I’ve added shredded red cabbage, red bell pepper, scallions, avocado, mandarin oranges and strawberries then tossed it with a quick homemade sesame ginger soy dressing.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

If you don’t love kale you could always swap it out for some fresh spinach or lettuce. I love salads with a bit of sweetness to them and the mandarin oranges and strawberries are just right to get those tropical summer vibes. The creaminess of the avocado is a necessary addition; if you are worried about your avocado getting brown you could always wait and add it right before eating.

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve never had someone get so excited about me saying I’ve made a kale salad than Matt, although after writing this I wonder how much to contribute to the taste and how much to contribute to the ease of immediately having something to eat after walking in the door! (I just asked Matt and he said he loves the salad, but that ready-to-go dinner is nice, too – haha!) Do you have any strategies you use for weeknight meals to avoid the takeout trap?

Tropical Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Tropical Kale Salad
 
Yield: 2 servings as a main dish or 4 servings as a side salad
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 10 ounces kale
  • ¾ cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • ½ avocado, diced
  • 2 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 3 large strawberries, hulled and chopped
for the dressing
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon sesame seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh grated ginger
Directions
for the salad
  1. Remove all thick ribs and stems; roughly chop. Place in a large mixing bowl. Continue to tear and massage the kale for 5 minutes. To massage the kale scrunch it up with both your hands, release, and scrunch up some more, tossing and tearing as you go. This helps tenderize the kale and reduce its bitterness by breaking down the cellulose structure.
  2. Add the cabbage, bell pepper and scallion. Pour the dressing over top then toss to combine. Add the avocado, oranges and strawberries then gently toss to combine. Top with more sesame seeds if desired.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients until combined.

 

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Now this, my friends, is how to truly enjoy hummus. I thought I had a love for hummus, but this Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza just deepened my love ten-fold. Pita chips dipped into hummus is great. Warm, soft pita wedges dipped into hummus is even better. But a toasted pizza crust topped with warm hummus, roasted vegetables and slightly melted goat cheese is the hands-down winner.

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

I used Monday’s Caramelized Onion Hummus to make this flatbread pizza and the rich flavor balanced with the roasted zucchini and broccoli was perfect. The beauty of this dish is you can really customize it any way you would like. Swap out the hummus flavor, your favorite veggies or even add some additional protein, like some grilled chicken.

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Or just make it with whatever is in your fridge because once you get the thought of a hummus pizza in your head nothing will matter until you are blissfully taking bites of the warm and crispy hummus-slathered flatbread.

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

I found these new pre-made rectangular pizza crusts at Trader Joe’s. They were giving out samples of them covered in pesto and gooey mozzarella so of course I got a few to stock up. They were super long so I cut them in half and popped them in my freezer. I would definitely recommend them, although naan bread, pita bread or any other type of pre-made flatbread would work well for this hummus pizza.

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

One key recipe step that I want to point out is that you have to spread the hummus on the pizza before putting the flatbread in the oven. Hummus spread on a warm pita is one thing, but hummus baked on a pizza crust is an entirely different experience. The hummus gets warm and bakes onto the crust. So good! Have you ever had a hummus pizza?

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Hummus and Roasted Veggie Flatbread Pizza
 
Yield: 2 personal sized flatbreads
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups small broccoli florets
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into rounds then halved
  • Cooking spray
  • Salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian seasoning
  • 2 flatbreads, about 8” by 6” each
  • ½ cup hummus
  • ¼ cup shredded raw beets
  • 2 ounces goat cheese crumbles
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper. Place the broccoli florets and zucchini pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Season the veggies with salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Roast for 20 minutes, or until tender and lightly charred.
  2. Divide the hummus between the 2 flatbreads and spread in an even layer. Divide the roasted veggies, raw beets and goat cheese crumbles between the flatbreads. Bake at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes, or toast in your toaster oven, until the flatbread is warm and the goat cheese is slightly melted.

 

Winter Pesto Pasta

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

Winter Pesto Pasta is a cozy dish loaded with roasted butternut squash and mushrooms that is sure to warm you up during these chilly winter days. Whenever Matt and I are craving pasta I like to load it up with lots of veggies and I love the ease and the taste of roasted vegetables, especially in the wintertime.

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

I also used a mix of spaghetti and zucchini noodles to sneak in even more vegetables. You can spiralize the zucchini yourself or pretty much every grocery store now sells spiralized vegetable noodles. The best part is that you just throw them into the water when the pasta is almost done cooking so it could not be easier to add zucchini noodles into your pasta dishes. You could keep the meal vegetarian, but I served it alongside my Baked Pesto Turkey Meatballs – love those!

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

The star of the whole dish, though, is the quick and easy homemade pesto. I love tomato sauce, but we are both way more into pesto around here. My favorite seed butter company, 88 Acres, which is a local Massachusetts company, sent me some of their new products to try in exchange for sharing them on Instagram. The exchange didn’t involve my blog at all; I’m purely sharing this here because their new product prompted me to discover my new favorite homemade pesto hack.

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

Instead of grinding down seeds or nuts to use in the pesto, I just used some of their new no-sugar added pumpkin seed butter. I combined the pumpkin seed butter, basil, Parmesan, garlic powder, a little olive oil and some salt to taste. It was creamy, flavor-packed and saved me from having to buy pricey pine nuts.

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’m excited to try this new hack with other seed butters! I would recommend using one that has no-sugar added though to avoid adding sugar to your pesto. You could also try making this pesto with roasted pumpkin seeds and adding more olive oil, which I’m sure would be really good, too. Do you like experimenting with different types of pesto or do you have a go-to one you make all the time?

Winter Pesto Pasta  |  Lemon & Mocha

Winter Pesto Pasta
 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 cup small diced butternut squash
  • 6 medium whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and quartered
  • 2½ tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons no-sugar added pumpkin seed butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan, plus more for topping
  • 1 zucchini, zoodled
  • Baked Pesto Turkey Meatballs, optional
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil or parchment paper and place the butternut squash cubes and quartered mushrooms in a single layer. Toss the veggies with ½ tablespoon of olive oil then sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon dried oregano, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder, ⅛ teaspoon salt and some fresh ground black pepper. Roast the veggies for 25 minutes, or until tender and slightly caramelized, tossing once halfway through baking.
  2. Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. When the spaghetti is 2 minutes away from being done, toss in the zucchini noodles. Drain the spaghetti and the zucchini noodles together once tender in a colander.
  3. While the water is coming to a boil for the pasta, make the pesto. Combine the basil, Parmesan, pumpkin seed butter, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder and salt to taste in a food processor. Add more olive oil if needed, about 1 tablespoon more. Pulse until smooth.
  4. When the spaghetti and zucchini noodles have been drained, add them back to the pot along with the pesto, butternut squash and mushrooms. Toss to combine. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan on top and baked pesto turkey meatballs, if desired.

 

Italian Kale Salad

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend. Matt and I spent the weekend visiting family and we had a food-packed day in Philadelphia on Saturday. If you saw my stories on Instagram then you will know just how much food we consumed! Whenever I have a few days of heavy eating I immediately start craving a salad. The key is that the salad needs to be satisfying enough that you can eat it as your meal and not feel like you need to dive into a bag of chips after.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

This Italian Kale Salad is loaded with all kinds of delicious toppings and the dressing packs the perfect balsamic punch. Along with the kale and radicchio, there’s chickpeas, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, red onion and Parmesan.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I first came up with this salad in December to post for the healthy January we’re doing here and we loved it so much that I served it at Christmas dinner as well. I’ve also made it almost every week since first making it because we just can’t get enough. I actually just ate some for lunch with a soft boiled egg on top for some protein!

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

I love kale salads because you can dress them ahead of time and the greens never taste wilted; in fact they often taste even better after sitting for a bit. The key with kale salads, which I talked about previously in my Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese and Pecans post, is that you need to tear and scrunch the leaves for about five minutes to break the greens down and get rid of their natural bitterness. My Dad and Diane have always said they don’t like the taste of kale, but I am happy to report that they were both fans of this salad at Christmas.

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

You could serve this Italian Kale Salad along with dinner or have it as a main dish with some grilled chicken or shrimp on top. I hope you all love this one as much as we do and I cannot wait to share Wednesday’s recipe with you all!

Italian Kale Salad  |  Lemon & Mocha

Italian Kale Salad
 
Yield: 4 servings as a main dish
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 8 ounces kale, thick stems removed
  • 1 cup chopped radicchio
  • ¾ cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered (about 2 artichoke hearts)
  • ⅓ cup chopped roasted red pepper
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • Fresh grated or shaved Parmesan, for topping
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons honey
  • 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Make sure all thick ribs and stems are removed from the kale. If the kale isn’t already chopped, roughly chop then place in a large bowl. Tear and massage the kale for about 5 minutes. To massage the kale scrunch it up with both your hands, release, and scrunch up some more, tossing and tearing as you go. This helps tenderize the kale and reduce its bitterness by breaking down the cellulose structure.
  2. Add the radicchio, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper and onion. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss to completely coat. Top with the Parmesan. If you aren’t serving right away, cover and refrigerate until serving. Toss again before serving.
for the dressing
  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the olive oil, honey, balsamic vinegar, mustard and Italian seasoning until combined. Season with salt to taste.
Notes
To roast the red pepper: Spray a baking sheet or aluminum foil covered baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Wash and dry the red pepper then place on the baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, flip the pepper over then bake for 20 more minutes. When the pepper is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin, stem and seeds. You need roughly 1 whole red pepper for this recipe.

 

Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Today is Lemon & Mocha’s five year anniversary! Can you believe it? Five years ago today I published the first ever Lemon & Mocha blog post and here we are with another first – the first ever mac and cheese recipe on the site! Can you believe that? I can’t decide which thing shocks me more. I think, and anyone who knows me well will agree, that this being the first mac and cheese recipe is the most surprising part of today by far. I am OBSESSED with macaroni and cheese. I have been since I was a kid and I’m equally surprised I haven’t just turned into a big mac and cheese noodle so far. Although not for a lack of trying – check out my Halloween costume from last year!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I was in middle school I would come home from school every day and eat an entire box of Kraft macaroni and cheese. I took my box mac and cheese very seriously, too. I remember one time being at my best friend’s house and telling her mom not to worry, that I would make the box of mac and cheese because I knew the secret way to make it taste best (more butter, less milk, is key!). Nowadays, I’m all about the Annie’s mac and cheese. But what I love most of all is a cheesy, gooey, flavor packed homemade macaroni and cheese.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

The flavor packed part is really important because a quality mac and cheese needs to be more than just noodles and melted cheese sauce. It has to have depths to its flavors so each bite takes you on a flavor roller coaster. Not a huge upside down one, but like a medium curvy one so just when you think you’ve settled in another flavor curve hits your palate. I usually use multiple types of cheeses and a little dijon mustard in all my homemade mac and cheeses as a start for that extra depth of flavor.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

This mushroom version is some next level mac and cheese though since it’s loaded with umami. If you aren’t familiar with the term, check out my Balsamic Roasted Mushrooms post! We’re sautéing both cremini and shiitake mushrooms in shallots and garlic before putting them in the dish so they’ve reached their peak deliciousness. We’re also using dried mushrooms, which get re-hydrated in some warm water before being sautéed. The reason we do this is so we create a rich mushroom liquid that we use right in the Mushroom Mac and Cheese. This lets rich mushroom flavor permeate every bite, even if you don’t get an actual piece of mushroom.

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I’ve made this mac and cheese in the past, but this most recent time Matt and I couldn’t get enough of it. The minute I took my last photo I grabbed a fork and started eating it right from the serving bowl – smelling it while photographing had been tortuous! We didn’t want to eat it all over the weekend because it’s, you know, not the healthiest, so I froze a container of it. Needless to say, that container promptly got defrosted the next night!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

I can’t believe this is the first macaroni and cheese recipe I’m posting on Lemon & Mocha, but I promise it won’t be my last. Also, how many times did I just type mac and cheese? It must be my favorite word combination. Thank you all so much for continuing to follow this journey with me! As much as I pour my heart into my cooking, I equally pour my heart into my writing each week and connecting with everyone in this tiny online space brings me so much joy. So thank you, thank you, thank you!

Mushroom Mac and Cheese  |  Lemon & Mocha

Mushroom Mac and Cheese
 
Yield: 6-8 servings
Ingredients
  • ½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 pound dried medium shell pasta
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces whole cremini mushrooms, stems removed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1½ cups shredded fontina cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded sharp or smoked cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper
Directions
  1. Submerge the dried mushrooms in the hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour. When they are done, remove them from the water, squeeze them out, then chop and place with the other chopped mushrooms. Make sure to reserve the mushroom stock.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray a 9x13” baking pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the box instructions. Drain.
  4. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the shallot and garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped cremini and shiitake mushrooms. Add the dried oregano and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until the mushrooms have stopped releasing liquid and are browned. Set aside.
  5. In a large dutch oven or stock pot, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. The roux should be slightly darkened. Add the white wine, whisk to combine and let cook for 1 minute. Add the milk and whisk. Once the milk has warmed, add 2 cups shredded gruyere, 1 cup shredded fontina and 1 cup shredded cheddar, whisking after each addition. Once smooth, add 3 tablespoons of the mushroom stock (the water the dried mushrooms were in), the mustard and the cooked mushroom mixture. Stir to combine. Add the cooked pasta and stir to completely coat. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
  6. Pour the mac and cheese into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup shredded fontina cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes.