Vegetarian

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls  |  Lemon & Mocha

When I first bought tahini it was to make my Pumpkin Hummus. For those of you that aren’t familiar with tahini, it is made from ground sesame seeds and is one of the main components in hummus, along with chickpeas. After that first experiment with the Pumpkin Hummus, I used it purely to make homemade hummus and never ventured beyond that.

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Then last year I was Googling healthy lunch ideas for Matt and I and came across a quinoa bowl that called for a tahini dressing. My version of the recipe is incredibly simple – tahini, lemon juice, water and garlic powder. I mixed it up completely skeptical, but as soon as I tried it poured over my bowl of roasted veggies and quinoa I was completely hooked.

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls  |  Lemon & Mocha

It was tart, nutty and really creamy. The acidic punch complements the earthy vegetables really well. We have these Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls all year round and I love that you can swap out the vegetables to your preferences or the season.

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls  |  Lemon & Mocha

This version is my favorite, though, because I love the meatiness that the eggplant and mushrooms bring to the bowl. Matt and I are also mushroom obsessed if I haven’t mentioned that before. Then the zucchinis bring some brightness and the bell pepper adds some sweetness. Perfection in a bowl!

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls  |  Lemon & Mocha

Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Tahini Bowls
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 eggplant
  • 8 ounces whole cremini mushrooms
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a half sheet baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil or lightly spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. Prep the veggies. Cut the ends off the zucchini then cut it into thick rounds. Slice the rounds in half. Remove the seeds and stem from the bell pepper then chop into a big dice. Remove the ends from the eggplant then cut into a small dice. The eggplant takes the longest to roast so you want the pieces smaller. Remove the stems from the mushrooms then quarter them.
  3. Place the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet then toss with just enough olive oil to lightly coat them. Sprinkle with the garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the veggies roasted and lightly browned.
  4. While the veggies are roasting, make the tahini dressing. In a bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, water and garlic powder until incorporated. Keep separate until ready to eat.
  5. To prepare the bowls, put ½ cup cooked quinoa in each bowl. Divide the roasted veggies between the 4 bowls then divide the dressing between each of the bowls.
Notes
Usually when I make this I will pack the tahini dressing in a separate container so I can shake it up and pour it on after I heat the quinoa and veggies in the microwave. I have tried it with the dressing poured on ahead of time and everything heated in the microwave and it was okay, but the dressing seemed to get absorbed by the other ingredients in the bowl and wasn’t as good as when I pour it on right before eating.
For the quinoa, I used a super grains mix that I picked up at my local Whole Foods. It is a mix of red quinoa, white quinoa, millet and buckwheat. It is actually cheaper than the bag of just quinoa and I like the variety for our quinoa bowls.

Dressing recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Elote Pizza

Elote Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

As I’m writing this, it is Monday afternoon. I always write my posts ahead of time so I can get them scheduled. Except normally I write them at least a couple weeks ahead of time, not just days before. Somehow I completely skipped over this post in my calendar! I don’t know how because, come on, look at these pizza photos!

Elote Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Last week I was busy working away on next week’s posts and missed this Friday post entirely. I know I’m probably confusing you so let’s just focus on this pizza. Elote Pizza to be exact. Remember Monday’s Elote Hot Dogs? Of course you do – they were epic and over-the-top!

Elote Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Also, the post came out just a few days ago and hopefully you haven’t completely lost track of all sense of days and weeks like apparently I have. This ooey gooey pizza is topped with charred corn, cotija cheese and a lime mayo. It’s a little sweet, a little creamy, a little smoky and definitely cheesy.

Elote Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Some of my favorite meals I’ve made have been born out of ingredients left in the fridge and this Elote Pizza is a perfect example. There was plenty of cotija, corn and cilantro leftover from the Elote Hot Dogs so I decided to rework them into another outrageous celebration of my love for elote. Unlike the Elote Hot Dogs, I’ve never had Elote Pizza before, but every pizza place should start serving it now! It would be my go-to order, especially during the summer.

Elote Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

My favorite tip for pizza is something Matt taught me – using cornmeal to flour your surface and the pizza dough instead of all-purpose flour. For years we had been using all-purpose flour because we just assumed that would work best without ever looking it up. It does work really well at keeping the dough from sticking, but you often get a floury taste when the pizza is cooked. Using cornmeal keeps the dough from sticking to the pan and it makes it taste like it just came out of a pizza shop! Who knew? Well, maybe you did, but if you didn’t you can thank Matt! Happy Friday everyone!

Elote Pizza  |  Lemon & Mocha

Elote Pizza
 
Ingredients
for the lime mayo
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
for the pizza
  • 1 can corn kernels, drained and dried
  • 16 ounces pre-made pizza dough, at room temperature for 20 minutes
  • Cornmeal, for dusting the surface for the dough
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cotija cheese
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Pinch of smoked paprika, ground cumin and chili powder, for top dusting
Directions
for the lime mayo
  1. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, lime juice and paprika. Set aside.
for the pizza
  1. Char the corn in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. You want the corn to be lightly browned. Remove from the heat.
  2. Preheat your pizza stone in the oven at 475 or 500 degrees F for at least half an hour.
  3. If you are using a pizza peel, generously sprinkle your pizza peel with cornmeal. If you don’t have a pizza peel and are using a baking sheet, generously sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal. Stretch out the dough - the size depends on the size of your pizza stone. To help get it stretched out, I hold it and let it fall down. I continue doing this, rotating around as I do it so it stretches into an oblong shape. Now that it is most of the way stretched out, place it on the cornmeal surface, whether that is your pizza peel or baking sheet. Use a rolling pin or your hands to form it into the shape your want. Try to get an even thickness all the way around.
  4. Brush the olive oil on the pizza dough. Top with the shredded mozzarella cheese then the charred corn. Sprinkle with the Parmesan. Carefully put the pizza in the oven on top of the pizza stone to cook for 9-10 minutes. If you are using a baking sheet, just put the baking sheet directly on top of the pizza stone.
  5. Once the pizza is cooked, top with the cotija cheese and chopped cilantro. Drizzle with the lime mayo then dust a sprinkle over top of smoked paprika, ground cumin and chili powder. If you don’t like spicy food using a very, very small amount of chili powder.
Notes
For added flavor, brush the crust with a little olive oil then sprinkle with Parmesan and smoked paprika before baking.
I used full-fat mayonnaise.

 

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado  |  Lemon & Mocha

I never thought I would see the words breakfast and salad together, unless we were talking about a fruit salad or it was opposite day and breakfast actually meant dinner. However, the day has come and I am not talking about a fruit salad, although there is fruit in this salad, and it is not opposite day, at least the last time I checked. No, today we are legitimately talking about a salad for breakfast. I often find myself stuck in a breakfast rut. Lately it’s been a banana and a Greek yogurt every. single. morning. Anyone else? Then I started seeing breakfast salads popping up all over Instagram. You would think with my salad aversion I would have kept scrolling, but the possibilities for combinations of toppings drew me in. Salads for breakfast are actually awesome and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado  |  Lemon & Mocha

Here are three reasons I think salads for breakfast are pretty cool: 1. Salads are quick and easy to make, especially when almost everything is prepped ahead of time. This checks a serious box for weekday breakfast approved.

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado  |  Lemon & Mocha

2. The topping ideas are endless! If you wake up craving something sweet then you could load it up with some fresh berries. Feeling savory? Throw in some chicken sausage.

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado  |  Lemon & Mocha

3. This is the most boring reason, but a very important one. I find breakfast to be a hard meal to sneak veggies into and a breakfast salad is a perfect way to get more vegetables into the first meal of the day. For the first Lemon & Mocha breakfast salad bowl I went with a grapefruit and avocado pairing along with a runny egg, of course, because the runny yolk mixed with the dressing takes it to a whole new flavor dimension. The dressing is my favorite quick shallot vinaigrette. It’s flavorful, has the right amount of acid and beautifully complements these breakfast salad bowls.

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado  |  Lemon & Mocha

Although there are no grains in the photos, when I usually make this dish I add quinoa. I forgot it when I was rushing to take my photos, but it adds some heartiness to the dish and soaks up the yolk really well. Farro or barley would both be good substitutions as well. So, do you think you’re going to try a breakfast salad bowl soon?

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado  |  Lemon & Mocha

Breakfast Salad Bowls with Grapefruit & Avocado
 
Yield: 4 salads
Ingredients
for the salad
  • 12 cups salad greens
  • 1 grapefruit, segmented and seeds removed
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, optional (see note)
  • 4 eggs, poached or fried over-easy
  • 1 teaspoon everything bagel seasoning
for the dressing
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Place 3 cups of the washed salad greens in 4 shallow bowls. Divide the grapefruit segments, avocado slices and eggs between each bowl. If you are using quinoa add it now. Sprinkle the everything bagel seasoning over the avocado slices. Top with the dressing and enjoy.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk all ingredients together. Salt and pepper according to taste.
Notes
I included the quinoa in the recipe because that was my original vision for this breakfast salad, but I forgot when I made it to take photos - oops! The grains go nicely with the salad, especially to soak up the egg, and make it more filling. If you don’t want to use quinoa, farro or barley would both be good substitutes.

 

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

I have another healthy make-ahead lunch for you today! Before you run away, healthy can mean super tasty! And kale doesn’t have to mean bitter, especially when it’s been nicely massaged, but I’ll say more on that later. As you know, I only like salads if they have lots of yummy goodies in them and this one delivers. Fresh sweet strawberries, creamy goat cheese and crunchy pecans bring this salad to a scarf-able level. We are still a little early for strawberry season, but as soon as it started feeling like springtime I had to run out to get some to make this salad.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The other star of this dish is the simple, but delicious vinaigrette dressing. Made with just four ingredients the dressing has the right balance of acidity and sweetness to pair with the kale and strawberries. I use my uncle’s awesome homemade honey, but I recommend using local honey since it can help ease seasonal allergies and it supports your local beekeepers!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

The reason this salad is a great make-ahead dish is because the kale tastes its best when it’s been given time to marinate in the dressing. Kale is a tough green, but that’s exactly why you have to baby it so much to bring out its best flavor. This is where the massaging comes in. A few years ago when kale was popping up everywhere I tried it at home a bunch of times with little success. Then I was out to dinner with a friend and ordered a kale salad to give it one final shot. I couldn’t believe how tasty it was and when I mentioned this to the waitress she said it was because they massage the kale. Basically, this means ripping and scrunching the kale leaves continuously for about five minutes. Kale is naturally bitter, but massaging it breaks down the cellulose structure wilting and softening the kale.

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

One batch makes four lunch salads and sometimes I pair them with grilled chicken or turkey burgers for added protein. I love serving this Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans for cookouts, as well, since you can make it the night before and not have to worry about it while you’re busy with your family and friends. I hope you enjoy this salad all summer long!

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans  |  Lemon & Mocha

Strawberry Kale Salad with Goat Cheese & Pecans
 
Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
for the salad
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces kale
  • 8 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and stems removed
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
for the dressing
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1½ teaspoons honey
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions
for the salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the pecans on a small baking sheet then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes. Toss the pecans once during cooking and be sure to watch carefully so they do not burn. Set aside to cool.
  2. If your kale wasn’t pre-washed, wash and dry it. 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.
  3. Quarter the strawberries. Slice the grape tomatoes in half. Add to the kale along with the toasted pecans and goat cheese. Gently toss to combine. Add the dressing and gently toss to coat. Let sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or even better if overnight.
for the dressing
  1. Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

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Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

I don’t remember what prompted me to try this recipe, but I am so happy I did. Immediately after tasting it for the first time I ran to Matt (well carefully speed-walked), spoon in hand, telling him to stop what he was doing and try this soup. I couldn’t believe how something with such basic ingredients could taste so rich of flavor and buttery. Also that a soup without cream and less than a teaspoon of butter per serving could taste like such an indulgence.

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

The depth of flavor in this soup starts with roasting the vegetables. The carrots are roasted until they are super tender and blistered, which amplifies their sweetness. Onion slices get roasted with the carrots to bring a richness to their flavor as well. The ginger adds the perfect amount of balance without being overpowering.

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

This Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup freezes well and tastes even better after the flavors have been able to meld together for some time. Although it takes a fair amount of time to make, most of the steps are hands off so it doesn’t feel too involved.

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

I always ask Matt if he has any dinner requests for the following week and this carrot soup has turned into his most frequent request. Other than meatloaf – the kid loves meatloaf 😂. We end up having it mostly for weekdays, but I’ve also served it for the holidays. Especially for holidays and dinner parties I like starting the meal with a dish I’m proud of, but that isn’t rich or heavy, and this soup fits the bill perfectly. It also makes a great make-ahead lunch – if you have enough leftover from dinner!

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup | Lemon & Mocha

Healthy Creamy Roasted Carrot Soup
 
Yield: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 medium onion, peel removed and thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ribs celery, roughly diced
  • 1½ - 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, from about 1-inch peeled piece, depending on preference
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with nonstick aluminum foil and lay the carrots in a single layer. Place the onions in a single layer or if they won’t fit you can layer them on top of the carrots. Drizzle with the olive oil then toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper then roast in the oven for about an hour. Toss the carrots once during cooking and check on the onions; you don’t want them to burn. The carrots should be soft, blistered and browned.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the celery and ginger and cook until the celery starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted carrots and onion, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Use a high-speed blender to puree the soup. If using a regular blender, puree the soup in batches. Once pureed, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Tastes best after the flavors have been allowed to meld for a few hours or overnight. Reheat gently on the stove or in the microwave and adjust seasoning to taste before serving.

Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking.