Roasted Carrot and Red Lentil Soup with Carrot Top Pesto

This is a beautiful silky smooth fall inspired soup with a bit of added texture from the carrot top pesto.  The roasted carrots mixed with the red lentils are a harmonious blend.  It is a delightful soup all on its own or with the addition of the carrot top pesto, which adds another facet of savory flavors.


It has really started to feel like fall around here with the cold air of the mornings and nights.  Growing up in L.A., there is really no such thing as fall.  Not like when I lived in Oregon with all the outstanding vibrant fall colors and crisp cold air.  Fall in Northern California isn’t like Oregon but it’s a little more colorful than L.A.  Now is the time to enjoy a nice warm bowl of soup, curled up on the couch with a cozy blanket by the fireplace.

 Fall represents a time of letting go, releasing the old and embrace the new.  Fall is truly a time of transition. As the leaves fall off the trees, they bare their branches to remind us how all things in life come and go.

 This is the perfect healthy soup to start off the fall season.  The carrot and carrot tops both contain antioxidants, which helps to keep colds away.  The carrot tops provide chlorophyll and more than 6 times the vitamin C than the carrots themselves.  Together they are even more nutritious than on their own.


I like a dry Rosé wine with this soup but it’s also good with a Pinot Gris or hot cup of tea.


Recipe: 8 to 10 servings

  • 7 to 8 (2 pounds)  Carrots
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cups Dried Red Lentils
  • 1/2 White Onion – diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves – minced
  • 2 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
  • 1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 10 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Thyme or 1 Teaspoon Fresh
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoons Sea Salt
Carrot Top Pesto
  •  1 1/2 Cups Carrot Tops
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Basil
  • 3/4 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 3/4 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea salt


Preheat oven to 375
Cut the ends off the carrots and cut into 1 inch pieces.
Spread the carrots out on a baking sheet and pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the carrots, lightly sprinkle with salt and toss to evenly coat.  Roast for 30 – 40 minutes, until the carrots are cooked through and starting to caramelize.
 Wash the carrot tops and dry them, shred the cheese and measure all the ingredients, then puree in a food processor or blender.  Set aside.

Add the onions to a 5 1/2 quart pot with the olive oil and saute on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 – 7 more minutes until the garlic starts to brown.

Add the white wine and bouillon cubes, mash the bouillon, cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.

Measure, sort and rinse lentils until water runs clear. Add lentils and water, bring to a boil then reduce to medium low heat.  Skim off the starch and cook until lentils are soft.  (about 15 – 20 minutes)

Add the lentils and carrots to a food processor or blender and puree in 2 to 3 batches. Or use an immersion blender right in the pot.


 Health benefits:

Carrots contain beta-carotene that is then converted into vitamin A in your liver and helps restore vision. They lower the risk of coronary heart disease and are high in antioxidants that help in cancer prevention. They may also help with blood sugar regulation, delay the effects of aging, and improve the immune system.

Carrot tops are very healing and can help rid the body of toxins due to their antiseptic, diuretic and stimulating properties.  They are full of chlorophyll, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements, especially Vitamin K, potassium and they contain 6 times more Vitamin C than the carrot themselves.

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Feta Vinaigrette

This is a colorful and vibrant salad with outstanding mouthwatering flavors!  The roasted vegetables add a sweet component that is balanced by the saltiness of the feta.  The cilantro provides freshness while the jalapeno adds a nice touch of heat!  This salad is very versatile; you can add it to quinoa, rice, kale, romaine or have it with crusty bread.

Rustic-Roasted-Vegetable Salad with-a-Feta-Vinaigrette

This weekend, Robby and I went to the Boulder Creek Harvest Festival to watch our friend’s bands play.  Our friend Alison plays in an all girl bluegrass band called “Sugar by the Pound“. How cute is that name?! And Alison’s husbands band “Rollin Hazards” also played, which sadly we only caught the last few songs. We also met up with our friend Erin and her cutest little boy Taj. Some time later, a few of us went to Alison and Ander’s house to have some wine and conversation in their backyard.  Erin invited Robby and I over for a super amazing impromptu dinner that she whipped up.  We always have a great time with them and feel very blessed to have such awesome friends!

Rustic-Roasted-Vegetable Salad with-Feta-Vinaigrette

The light blue dishes in this photo were a birthday gift from Erin.  I love them in this photo; they work perfectly for this rustic salad!

Roasted-Vegetable Salad with-a-Feta-Vinaigrette

This salad is perfect for crisp white wine like a dry Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon blanc, white Rioja or a Rueda.

Roasted-Vegetable Salad with-Feta-Vinaigrette

Recipe: 4 servings
  • 2 Fresh Corn Cobs – roasted – 35  minutes – cut the kernels off the cobs
  • 2 Small Red Peppers  – roasted – 35 minutes – cut in strips
  • 1 Red Onion – quarter inch round slices – roasted – 30 minutes
  • 2 Baskets Cherry Tomatoes – roasted  – 10 – 15  minutes
  •  2 Jalapeno – thinly sliced and quartered or minced
  • 1/2 Cup Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • 1/2 Cup Cilantro – roughly chopped
Feta Vinaigrette – 1 Cup
  • 1/4 Cup Sheep Feta Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4  Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Black Pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

 Pierce the bell pepper with a knife and place it on a parchment lined baking sheet along with the corn. Place the baking sheet into the oven on the middle rack for 40 minutes.  Put the timer on for 5 minutes then after the timer rings, add the onions to the baking sheet, turn the pepper and the corn over and roast for an additional 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, add the tomatoes to the baking sheet and roast everything for 10 to 15 additional minutes.  Let everything except the pepper cool.

 Steam the pepper by placing in a covered dish or paper bag folded closed for 10 minutes.  Once the steaming is complete, peel the skin off the pepper and remove the stem and seeds, then slice into thin strips and add to a bowl.

When cooled, cut the corn and add to the bowl.  Either cut the onion rounds into quarters or just separate the rings and add to a bowl. Add the tomatoes, feta and jalapeno and mix as well.  Add vinaigrette and cilantro to individual salads.


Health benefits:

Tomatoes are great for the heart due to the extreme antioxidant support, niacin, folate and vitamin B6 that help the reduction of heart disease.  They are also high in vitamins A, C, K and potassium.  The choline in tomatoes helps assist the absorption of fat and reduces chronic inflammation.  It also helps with sleep, muscle movement, learning and memory.  Tomatoes are high in Lycopene the antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color.  Cooking tomatoes breaks down the cell walls, which helps to release the lycopene and is better absorbed by the body with a little bit of fat like olive oil.  The Zea-xanthin in them helps filtering harmful ultra-violet rays, which protect eyes from “age-related macular disease.”  They are also a powerful blood purifier and great for skin and bone health.

Red Bell Peppers are matured green bell peppers and have more nutrition as they mature.  They are super high in vitamin A which helps to support healthy eyesight, especially night vision and are extremely high in vitamin C, so much so they have twice as much as an orange which makes it really good for the skin.  Red peppers are one of the highest veggies in lycopene, and have been successfully tested in the prevention of many cancers.  They have a good source of the antioxidant mineral manganese and B-complex and vitamin E.  They help reduces ‘bad’ cholesterol, helps controls diabetes and helps reduce pain.  They are also a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, molybdenum and manganese.

Onions are part of the Allium family like scallions, shallots and leeks.  Consuming onions daily can help increase bone density, remove bad cholesterol and are helpful with insomnia or sleeping disorders. They contain vitamin C and the phytochemicals called flavonoids that improves the absorption of Vitamin C, which improves blood vessels and reduces inflammation.  They have the mineral chromium in them that helps with low blood sugar by helping the cells respond to insulin.  The anti-inflammatory antioxidant called quercetin that is present may be helpful with conditions like arthritis.  Onions help release digestive juices, which improves the digestive system.  They also contain calcium, iron and B complex and have antibiotic, antiseptic, antimicrobial and carminative properties.

Cilantro Jalapeno Vinaigrette Potato Salad

It may be fall, but it still feels like potato salad season to me.  This salad has all the wonderful flavors of Mexico.   It has heat from the jalapeños, sweetness from the corn, creaminess from the cheese and crunchiness from the onions.  It is great served on top of lettuce with some corn chips, heated up for breckfast or simply served cold.


A few years back I went to Playa del Carmen Mexico with my friends Beto and Brian.  We stayed at our friend Joanna’s Spanish style house.  It was such a beautiful house with classic Spanish tile floors and rustic furniture.  Each morning I drank my coffee on the back porch and was visited by a group of Coatimundi (also known as Ring-Tailed Coati).  They would come by looking for handouts.  I had never seen or heard of them before and I couldn’t get over how cute they were.  They are from the raccoon family and seemed to be very curious and playful.  When I returned home, I started a pastel painting of the little guy below but have yet to finish it.  I think it’s time to have a bowl of this potato salad and finish this painting!


Aren’t they the cutest?!


I had a glass of white Rioja with this potato salad but it is also great with a Mexican beer.


Recipe: 8 – 10 servings

  • 1 Cup Cilantro Jalapeno Vinaigrette  – or to taste – recipe below
  • 2 1/2 Pounds Yellow Potatoes – 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
  • 1 Fresh Corn Cob – removed from cob
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 3/4 Cup Cilantro – leaves – whole or chopped
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeno – thinly sliced or minced
  • 1/4 Red Onion – Thinly sliced or minced
  • 1  Poblano – roasted – diced
  • 5 oz. Queso Fresco – crumbled
  • 1 – 2 Avocado – cubed

Vinaigrette – there will be leftover dressing in case you prefer more.

  • 2 Cups Cilantro Leaves – packed
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeno Pepper – sliced
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste
Serve with tortilla chips

Potatoes & Corn

Dice the potatoes into half inch chunks and put in a large pot covered in water.   Add the vinegar and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium high heat.  Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until opaque and soft.   Make sure and check on them in about 10 minutes, you don’t want mushy potatoes or to hard.  The best way is to taste them.

Put the cut corn into a large bowl.

When the potatoes are done, pour into a colander, drain and then dump them on the corn.  This will cook the corn perfectly.  While the potatoes are cooking make the vinaigrette and roast the poblano.

Vinaigrette (can be made the day ahead)
Add oil, vinegar, mustard, lime juice, and salt in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Turn on and blend well.  Next, remove the stem and add the jalapeno (if you want it milder, remove the seeds).  Add the cilantro and puree.  Mince or garlic press the garlic and stir in.  Set aside.

Roasted Pepper

Roast the poblano on the stovetop on medium high heat.  A gas stove is best but it also work on an electric stove.

Char the poblano on all sides, turning with tongs.  When good and charred, steam for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut so the steam won’t escape.

Take a paper towel and rub off the char.  It’s ok to leave a little of the char.  Slice in half and remove the seeds and stems. Dice and set aside.

The rest

When the potatoes have cooled add the cup of vinaigrette and salt, then stir carefully.

Add the cilantro, jalapeno, onion, poblano and cheese then stir.   Top with avocado.


Health benefits:

Yellow Potatoes – Yukon gold’s content of potassium is higher than many foods and can help reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. They have twice the amount of vitamin C as a Russet, which helps protects your cells from free-radical damage. Yukon’s are rich in B6 and antioxidant properties. It has a bit of Iron but the C helps the body absorb it. They contain fiber that helps reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar, helps prevent constipation and aids in weight loss.

Cilantro is an extreme anti-oxidant immune-booster that helps detoxify the body by loosening them from the tissue, binding to and pulling out toxins and heavy metals.  It helps promote a healthy liver function and is an overall digestive aid.  It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that may help symptoms of arthritis and joint pain. Cilantro can lower bad cholesterol level and increase the good cholesterol level. It also helps with insulin secretion and lowers blood sugar.  It is rich in essential oils, vitamins and is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K and dietary fiber.  It is also an excellent source of omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids and calcium.

Jalapeno are a rich source of vitamin C, 1 pepper provides 18 % of the daily value for men and 23 % for women. They also have a good amount of vitamin A, which helps skin and eye health.  Jalapenos contain phenols, flavonoids and capsaicinoids that help the body fight free radicals, inflammation and promote weight loss.  The bioflavinoids are powerful antioxidants and help strengthen blood vessels. They also fight nasal congestion by stimulating secretions that help clear mucus from the nose.  They contain more vitamin B6 aiding the immune system, E that protect the cells and K, which increases bone mass, than any other pepper.

Maple Fig Crisp with a Maple Mascarpone Sauce

This is the perfect dessert to bring to a picnic or a party. The figs are soft and subtly sweet while the topping is wonderfully crispy hence, the name.  The cool thing about a crisp is that you can use any local and seasonal fruit.


Last Saturday evening, Robby and I attended our friend Erika’s surprise birthday party. Gary, Erika’s husband hosted it at a new local brewery called “Steel Bonnet Brewery”, which has not yet opened to the public.  Our friend Leif’s friend Tristan and his lovely wife Celia drove up from Santa Monica to attend the party.  This was our first time meeting them even though we have many of the same friends in common due to growing up in Santa Monica.  There is something special about meeting people from the place you grew up in.  Only they can relate to you in a way no one else can.  It’s like we have known them our whole life!   I think the connection is even more dramatic for those who grew up in Santa Monica/ Venice. It’s really like no other place on the planet!  It’s kind of crazy how many people say they are from there but when you ask them what school they went to they are all “ummm well I moved here in my early twenties”.  Most residents are actually transplants, so when you meet someone who is actually from there, its pretty cool!  The really small world part of the story is that Celia and I grew up a block away from each other.  She is younger than me and she said her parents would never let her go out!  We also discovered our birthdays were three days apart, hers is September 2nd and mine is the 5th. We both thought that was cool!


This obviously goes with any milk, coffee or tea but I enjoyed it with a white Rueda.  What would you drink with it?


Recipe: 8 – 12 servings

Maple Caramelized Figs

  • 24 – 30 Figs – cut into quarters
  • 1/4 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons White Wine
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil or Butter  (I used olive oil)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
  •  1/2 Cup Raw Almonds – ground
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts – coarsely ground
  • 1/2 Cup Whole Oats – ground
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 1/3 Cup Turbinado Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Powdered Coriander
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons melted Coconut Oil or Butter

Topping (optional)

  • 8 oz Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 Cup Maple syrup (depends on desired consistency and sweetness)


Maple Caramelized Figs

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the stems off the figs and slice them into quarters.  In a 9×13″ baking dish, place the figs along the bottom.  In a small bowl mix the syrup, wine, oil, vanilla and salt together then drizzle the syrup mix over all the figs.

Put in oven on the middle shelf for 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature.


In a food processor, grind the almond to a fine crumb texture and pour into a large bowl.  Add the walnuts and pulse until it is a coarse crumb texture and add to almonds.  Add the oats to the processor and pulse until the texture is in between whole oat and flour texture.  Add the flour, sugar, coriander and salt then mix well.  Add the oil and mix in until it is a crumbly consistency.  Put in the refrigerator for at least 15 minute so the oil can harded.
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
When the figs are cooled down, evenly top them with the crumble topping and put on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
With an immersion blender. food processor or blender, puree cheese and syrup until smooth.

Fig Quinoa Salad with a Fig Feta Vinaigrette

This salad has it all, a hint of sweetness from the figs, saltiness from the feta, tanginess from the hibiscus and floral notes from the fennel and basil.  It has a nice combination of crunchy texture from the fennel and onions incorporated with soft textures from the quinoa, feta and figs.  It is the perfect fall salad!


It was my birthday this weekend and I had a great time!  My mom flew in from Washington for the week with her new boyfriend Clyde.  We went to lunch at one of our favorite spots, the “Bittersweet Bistro“.  Later that evening, four of my girlfriends, my mom, Clyde, Robby and I met for dinner at a really cool restaurant in Felton named “The Cremer House“.  It should be no surprise that I ordered the mac n cheese, which was exceptionally good by the way!  The server later surprised me with homemade apple fritters with fresh whipped cream and a candle on top. The fritters were the size of donut holes and there were more than enough to pass around the table.


 I made this salad for our beach picnic yesterday.  It was the perfect addition to our usual picnic suspects, cheese, crackers, apples, grapes, pesto and nuts.  Oh, and wine of course!


This salad goes great with just about any white wine.  If you’re in the mood for sweet then try a Riesling or if you’re leaning towards a dryer wine try a Sauvignon Blanc.


 Recipe: 4 – 6 servings

Hibiscus Champagne Vinegar (you can half this recipe)
  • 1 Cup Dried Organic Hibiscus Flowers
  • 1 Bottle Champagne Vinegar (I used 12.7 oz. Napa Valley Naturals)
Feta Vinaigrette
  • 1/2 Cup Sheep Feta Cheese
  • 1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3/4   Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Cup Dried Quinoa
  • 2 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Vegetarian Bouillon Cube
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Champagne Hibiscus Flowers – or to taste
  • 1/2 Fennel Bulb – thinly sliced
  • 1/4 Red Onion – thinly sliced
  • 1 Cup Basil – chiffonade
  • 3/4 Cup Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • 8 Fresh Black Mission Figs – quartered
  • 1 Cup Toasted Almonds – or more – top on individual salads – optional
Garnish – optional
Fennel Fronds – thinly sliced
Toasted Almonds –  spread out on a cookie sheet bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf on 350 degrees F. Let cool completely, then roughly chop.
Hibiscus Flowers
Prepare this 4 days to a week ahead.  Add the hibiscus flowers to a glass jar and pour the vinegar over the hibiscus flowers.  Let sit for 4 days to a week. (I did a week) Strain into another jar.  Save the hibiscus champagne vinegar for other recipes like  my “Fresh Herb and Edible Flower Salad with Hibiscus Champagne Vinaigrette

Put all ingredients in food processor or blender and blend well.  Set aside.


Measure the quinoa and water then add to a small sauce pan.  Add the bouillon cube, olive oil and salt.  Bring to a boil uncovered, mash the bouillon cube then turn heat down to medium-low and cover for 15 minutes. (use a timer)  Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.


Add the quinoa to a large bowl and fluff with a fork to break up any clumps and let cool.  Mix the hibiscus flowers, fennel, onion and basil into the quinoa and then carefully stir in the feta crumbles and figs.  Top individual salads with the vinaigrette, almonds and fennel fronds.


Health benefits:

Quinoa is a super food that is extremely nutrient rich as well as it is a complete protein source and high in fiber, which helps digestion and heart heath.   It contains more antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients than any other grain.  Unlike most grains quinoa has a significant amount of gamma-tocopherol of the vitamin E family, which helps some inflammatory issues.  It is a good source of magnesium  that helps metabolism, cardiovascular, and blood vessel function, which is helpful for migraine headaches. Quinoa contains the antioxidant flavonoids quercetin and kaempferol even more than in cranberries.  It is helpful in regulation of blood sugar and also reduces your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.

Figs are high in potassium, which helps control high blood pressure. They have a high concentration of fiber that is helpful in digestion, weight management, constipation; helps prevent colon cancer, post-menopausal breast cancer, hypertension, and diabetes. The soluble fiber pectin, helps pull out excess cholesterol. They are also high in calcium that strengthens bones and they are high in antioxidants that are excellent for the liver.