Pecorino Roasted Potato Salad with Toasted Walnut Caper Vinaigrette + A Tribute to Bri

This Pecorino Roasted Potato Salad has multi-layered flavors from the pecorino roasted potatoes, roasted pepper, capers, toasted walnuts and the delicious toasted walnut caper vinaigrette.


I write this post with a heavy heart.  I would like to honor the passing of my very dear friend Brian who sadly passed away last week.  His loss has left a hole in many lives!  Like this potato salad, Brian was a multi-layered individual to say the least! Brian was one of the most funny, jovial, warm-hearted individual I have ever had the privilege of knowing.  Brian has done a lot of cool things in his life.  He played the character Montoya in the movie “Lords of Dogtown“.  He was so stoked to be a part of it.  At the time he was in a relationship with the director Catherine Hardwicke and he was very instrumental in the making of the movie.  The fact that we all grew up with all the people that are portrayed in the movie made him a great advisor.  Another accomplishment and one he was so very proud of was that he co-wrote and starred in a short film called “History is Myth” which won the best short film award at the Venice Beach Film Festival.  The last time I talked to him he was working on finishing a screenplay.  Brian was a great surfer and skateboarder, he was an amazing home chef and he treated his dogs like humans.  So much so that whenever he ordered takeout he would order them their own meal.

I will miss his infectious laugh and his big cheesy grin!  May you “Rest in Peace” Bri!!!

Pecorino Roasted Potato Salad This salad goes with a light red or white wine.  Try it with a Tempranillo or a light Pinot Noir for a red or a Soave, Pinot Gris or a Verdejo for a white.

Pecorino Roasted Potato Salad Pecorino Roasted Potato Salad

Recipe: 8 – 10 servings

  •  Toasted Walnut Caper Vinaigrette – recipe below
  • 2 Pounds Yellow Potatoes – cut into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3/4 Cup Pecorino Cheese – finely grated
  • 2 – 3 Garlic Cloves – minced
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/4 Red Onion – thinly sliced or diced
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – minced
  • 2 Red Bell Pepper – 1 roasted and diced – 1 thinly sliced or diced
  • 1/2 Cup Chives – cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Toasted Walnuts – to taste
Toasted Walnut Caper Vinaigrette – you can double this if you like a lot of dressing or to have on another salad.
  •  1/4 Cup Toasted Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Toasted Walnut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Capers – drained
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Lemon Juice – fresh squeezed
  • 1 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
  • 1 Small Garlic Clove – minced
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Shallot
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Dash Pepper
Start by toasting the walnuts.  If you are going to add some walnuts to your salad then toast more.
Preheat oven to 375°F and place walnuts on a baking sheet

Toast walnuts until they start to brown and smell toasted about 7 to 10 minutes

Make sure and check them frequently so they don’t burn.  Let cool.

In a food processor, add the walnuts and grind to a fine crumble.  Add all the other ingredients and turn on until smooth.

Roasted Peppers

Roast the peppers on the stovetop at medium high heat.  A gas stove works the best but it will work fine on an electric stove.

Char the peppers on all sides turning with a pair of tongs.  When good and charred, steam them for 10 minutes in a covered dish or a paper bag rolled shut to hold in the steam.

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.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rub a baking sheet with olive oil or line with parchment paper.
In a large bowl add the olive oil, pecorino cheese, garlic, potatoes, salt and pepper.  Mix well and spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.
Roast on the middle rack for 30-35 minutes or until golden, turning once.  Then turn the oven onto broil and place the baking sheet on top rack for 3 – 7 minutes or until it becomes golden brown and crispy.
Prep the veggies while the potatoes are roasting.
Toss the potatoes with the vinaigrette and top with the veggies and chives.  Add walnuts to individual salads.
*Note – if you don’t plan to eat it all, you can keep the veggies separate so you can heat up the potatoes on their own.  Or scoops some into a frying pan, add a little cheese and cook on medium low heat until the cheese starts to crisp up.  Sooo good!
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.

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart with a Buckwheat Almond Crust

This Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart is so insanely good!  The crust is super flaky, buttery and nutty.  The roasted fennel compliments the potatoes and Gruyere splendidly.  I could eat this for a week straight! Oh wait, I actually did!

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart I don’t know why, but this tart reminds me of when my friend Tanya and I use to frequent a cool little cafe on the Venice boardwalk called Figtree’s Cafe and Grill.  We would order cappuccinos and sometimes a pastry and we would imagine that we were in France or Italy.  We didn’t just imagine, we would really try and visualize what it would feel like to actually be there.  We would do this often and after we finished our cappuccinos, we would wander down to Small World Books bookstore to look through travel guides plotting our adventures as if we had the means.  After about six months of doing this, we both ended up traveling, not together but at least our dreams were coming true.  She became a part of a seven-person crew on a sailboat that sailed to the tip of Mexico and back.  She also traveled all through Europe.  I ended up traveling in Southeast Asia, Europe and New Zealand.  When I look back, I realize that this was the first time I had practiced the law of attraction.

Tanya and I met back up in Maui a year later, but that’s a story for another time.  She has since lived in England where she reconnected with her childhood friend Peter and ended up marrying him and now they have three beautiful children.  They later moved to Singapore and lived there for 10 years and recently they moved to the polar opposite Switzerland!  Tanya is one of my most favorite people on the planet and she is an amazing photographer.   She flew all the way from Switzerland to attend my wedding and also took some amazing wedding photos.  I still can’t believe it!  You can see a few of our wedding photos on the post she wrote about us on her very impressive blog, Tanya Moss Photography.

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart This tart is great with a Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, White Rioja or a Sauvignon Blanc.

Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart Roasted Fennel Potato Gruyere Tart
Recipe: 6 – 8 servings
  • 1 Recipe Almond Buckwheat Crust – recipe below
  • 1 Fennel Bulb – cut in half – sliced lengthwise 1/2 inch
  • Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound Yukon Gold Potatoes – sliced rounds about 1/8th inch
  • 1 1/2 Cups (6 ounces) Gruyere Cheese – shredded – divided
  • 1 Cup Pecorino Cheese – finely shredded – divided
  • 8 oz. Creme Fraiche
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary – minced
  • 3/4 Cup Ground Almonds
  • 1 Cup Buckwheat Flour
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Salted Butter – cold
  • About 2 Tablespoon Ice Water or until it sticks together (don’t over do it)

In a food processor, grind the almonds into small crumb size.

Add flour and salt In the food processor, pulse several times to combine.

And 1/4 inch piece of butter.

 Pulse a few times to evenly break up the butter then add ice water slowly as you pulse, until it resembles a coarse meal with tiny pieces of butter.  It will be crumbly but holds together when squeezed with fingers, do not over process.

Empty the dough into a 10″ tart pan.  Press the dough with your fingers into the tart pan.  It takes a bit to get it even over the bottom of the tart pan and up the sides.  Poke holes in the bottom with a fork and place the crust into the refrigerator for 30 minute.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees

Put a piece of parchment paper over the tart and fill with pastry beads or dried beans and bake for 10 minutes.  Take the beads out of the tart and bake for 10 more minutes.

While dough is in the refrigerator roast the Fennel.


375 Degrees

Cut the fennel in half and cut out the core.  Cut each half horizontally into 1/4 -inch slices.  Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.  Toss to evenly coat. Roast for 15 – 20 minutes or until soft and golden.  Set aside.


Slice potatoes into thin slices (about 1/8-inch thick).  Add potatoes to a pot and cover with water then bring to a boil, continue to boil for 2 minutes.  Make sure and keep an eye on them.

Drain potatoes in a colander, rinse with cold water.  Set aside.
Cheese and Creme Fraiche
In a small pan, mix together the 1 1/4 cup of shredded Gruyere, the 1 cup of pecorino cheese, creme fraiche salt and pepper.  Melt together on medium low heat.
Sprinkle a 1/4 cup Gruyere over the crust.  Add a layer of potatoes, a little sauce (about a 1/4 of it), a 1/4 cup Gruyere and a 1/2 cup pecorino.  Repeat, then top with the remaining sauce, all the fennel (arrange in a circle) then top with remaining Gruyere.  Sprinkle with the minced rosemary.
Bake for 30 minutes on 375 degrees or until golden.
Health benefits

Buckwheat Flour is a fruit seed that is related to rhubarb and sorrel.  It’s a great alternative grain for people who are sensitive to wheat glutens. It is high in insoluble fiber and is incredibly good for the heart, cholesterol and high blood pressure.  It’s great for diabetics as it it lowers blood sugars more slowly than rice or wheat.  It is awesome for the digestion and it helps to clean and strengthen the intestines.  Buckwheat contains more antioxidants that most other grains.

Fennel is a very good source of fiber that helps limit cholesterol build-up and helps to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood.  The fiber also helps remove carcinogens from the colon and it can eliminate constipation.  It contains the phytonutrient anethole, the main part of its volatile oil that has been shown to reduce inflammation and also helping prevent the occurrence of cancer. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C, which is helpful for eye inflammation, and reduces premature aging and macular degeneration.  There are high levels of potassium in the fennel bulbs and seeds and can help increase brain function and cognitive abilities and it also increases the reach of oxygen to the brain.  The fronds above the fennel bulbs contain important vitamins, like pantothenic acid, vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin.

Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad with Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad is beautiful, colorful and healthy with a great mix of flavors and textures!  There is bountiful crunch from the crispy lentils, almonds and kale and dreamy softness form the mozzarella and tomatoes.  It has a spectrum of flavors from the basil, almonds and the slightly spicy Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette.  It’s just an all around great salad!

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

I am so excited right now!  Robby bought an old 68 blue Schwinn 3 speed bike to ride when I ride my rusty red 79 Schwinn 10 speed bike.  I didn’t have any extra money to spend on a bike when I first moved back to Venice beach in 2007.  (you can read about my leap of faith move here) You really need a bike when you live in Venice if you don’t want to go insane with all the traffic and circling the neighborhood for 15 minutes to 45 minutes looking for a parking space.  One day, my friends Beto and Brian called me and told me they had a surprise for me.  The surprise turned out to be a beat up rusty old red Schwinn bike they found in the alley.  They brought the bike to a bike shop that fixed it up just enough to make it rideable.  Actually, this was the best present ever!  I rode it every day.  I rode it to work and after work, I would go down to the boardwalk to ride it from my apartment on Rose Ave. to Temescal Canyon Blvd and back while the sun was setting.  I especially loved that it was rusty and somewhat trashed because I could lock it up almost anywhere without having to worry about it getting stolen.  I would ride it to my friends’ houses, the health food store, to the pier every Thursday night for the Twilight concert series and to parties.  It was perfect!

When I moved to Santa Cruz, Robby and I rode his mountain bikes a few times but we really just wanted to cruise around on comfortable bikes.  My poor red bike hadn’t been ridden in 5 years.  Lucky for me, Robby is now on a mission to fix up both of our old Schwinns.  He bought vintage handlebars, stem, seat, fenders, front wheel, a little round reflector for the rear fender, brake pads, brake cables, etc.  He cleaned years of grime and dirt off of both of them as well as a complete overhaul to make them ride better than new.  There is still a little rust on the frame of my bike just to remind me of the great times I had with it in Venice.  We wanted them to look vintage so we chose not to completely restore them which we think gives them more character.  I cannot wait to go for a ride on our new old bikes.

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

This salad goes great with a Chianti, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir or a Grenache for a red or a Pinot Gris, Soave  or Sauvignon Blanc for a white.

This Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad

Kale Crispy Black Lentil Salad
Recipe: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 Cup Crispy Black Lentils – roasted – recipe below
  • 1 Recipe Arugula Vinaigrette – recipe below
  • 1 1/2 Cups Tomato Basil Almonds – recipe below
  • 1 Head Dino Kale about 7 cups – washed – deribbed – thinly chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes  – wedged or diced
  • 1 Container Small Fresh Mozzarella – thinly sliced or quartered
  • 1/4 Red Onion – thinly sliced or diced
  • 1  Cup Basil – packed – chiffonade
Tomato Basil Almonds – whole recipe
  • 1 1/2 Cups Raw Almonds
  • 1 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Sauce (Bionaturae strained tomatoes was the brand used here)
  • 1/3 Cup Basil – minced
  • 1 -2  Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Teaspoons Sea Salt
Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette
  • 1 Small or 2 Tablespoons Shallots – minced
  • 1 Small Garlic – minced
  • 1 1/2 Cups Arugula
  • 1 Serrano Pepper – optional
  • 1/4 Cup Champagne Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Pecorino – shredded
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Dash Black Pepper
Crispy Black Lentils
  • 1/2 Cup Black Lentils –  uncooked
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Tomato Basil Almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mince the garlic and basil add to a bowl, add the olive oil, almonds, tomato sauce and sea salt then mix well and spread evenly onto a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stir halfway.

Let cool completely.  *While the almonds are cooking and cooling make the vinaigrette.

Arugula Pecorino Vinaigrette
In a food processor, add everything except the minced shallots and garlic.  Puree then add to a jar with the shallots and garlic and shake well.

Turn the oven up to 400°F.

Measure the lentils and sort for any rocks then rinse.  Add water to the lentils, turn the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for about 15 – 20 minutes or until lentils are soft, yet still firm.  Strain and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl toss the lentils, oil and salt together then spread out on the parchment.

Roast lentils for 25 – 30 minutes, stir in between.  Roast until crunchy. Watch them closely at the end so they don’t burn.  Let cool.
The Rest
You can either mix the kale, tomatoes, mozzarella, onion and basil together and top individual salads with the almonds, lentils and dressing.
 Or, place the kale onto a large platter place the tomatoes all around and do the same with mozzarella, onion, lentils and basil and top individual salads with the almonds and dressing.
* To keep the almonds and lentils crunchy, you will want to add them at the end.
Health benefits:
Kale is low in calories, high in fiber and it is a loaded with antioxidants which helps detox the liver. It is also an anti-inflammatory with omega-3 fatty acids, which is helpful for arthritis, joint pain and asthma.  Kale has more Iron than beef and more calcium than milk which helps prevents osteoporosis, joint flexibility and helps maintain normal bone health. It is great for cardiovascular support that helps in lowering cholesterol.  It is really high in vitamin A, C, and super high in the powerful antioxidant vitamin K (anyone taking anticoagulants should avoid kale because the high level of vitamin K that may interfere with the drugs.)    More on kale 
Lentils have very high levels of soluble fiber and a good amount of insoluble fiber, which is a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber helps stabilize blood sugar levels giving you a steady steam of energy.  A half-cup provides about a third of the daily requirements.  Not only is the fiber good for your heart the amount of folate and magnesium is very beneficial for cardiovascular health. Lentils provide a steady stream of glucose to your brain.  Glucose is a sugar and key source of energy for cells in the body, and is the only fuel your brain can use.  The high fiber regulates the release of the glucose, providing a steady stream of fuel that powers your brain cells, and is a key component in keeping your brain in excellent shape. They are loaded with an impressive amount of blood-fortifying iron and when paired with a food containing vitamin C, like citrus fruits or peppers the iron is enhanced, which can also increase your energy.  They are also a good source of potassium, calcium, zinc, niacin and vitamin K. They are truly a nutritional fountain of youth. Lentils originated in Southwestern Asia along the Indus River have been eaten for over 8000 years.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sesame Soba Noodle Soup

This Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sesame Soba Noodle Soup is bursting with flavor!  The combination of the roasted peppers and sesame is out of this world good!  The shiitake mushrooms add an earthy quality and all the herbs and vegetables give it a freshness and crunch.  And the soba noodles tie it all together.  It’s a fun and entertaining meal to enjoy with a few friends!
 While making this soup I started to think about the kitchen gadgets I adore and use all the time.  Seriously, I couldn’t live without my Cuisinart food processor which I use almost daily or my 600 watt All clad immersion blender.  I love my immersion blender because it is stainless steel, has turbo action with adjustable settings and did I mention it’s 600 watts?  Most are only 200 watts.  Last but not least, my beautiful 5 1/2 quart green enamel Le Creuset Dutch oven.

Then, I started to think about what would I have in my dream kitchen.  There are a few things that I would love to have but most of all, I would love a high quality 6-burner gas range.  I’m in love with so many from BlueStar, like this one or this one.  We currently have an electric range, which I don’t want to say I hate because it’s what I have now and I am grateful but come on, who doesn’t want a gas range?  I became a little spoiled at our prior house because it had a beautiful gas range.  It was almost like I had to learn to cook all over again when we moved to our current house.  Ok, I know that’s a little dramatic, but it really is totally different.  Electric stoves take so long to heat up and when you add veggies or pasta to boiling water the water stops boiling and takes time to come back to a boil.  That doesn’t happen with a gas range so you are less likely to lose nutrients to the water while cooking.  A range with open burners is awesome because there are no hotspots on your pans which happens to me all the time and I am constantly having to turn my pans.  What would you like in your dream kitchen?

*This is not a paid advertisement and the opinions expressed here are my own.


I enjoyed this soup with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc but it would also go great with a Riesling, Pinot Gris or a nice Sake.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sesame Soba Noodle Soup

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sesame Soba Noodle Soup
Recipe: 2 to 4 servings
  •  4 Red Bell Peppers – roasted – pureed
  • 1/2 White Onion
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 4 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1/2 Cup + 3 Tablespoons Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Brown Rice Vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup Tamari Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ginger – peeled – microplaned
  • 1 – 2 Serrano Chilis – optional
Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Shallots – about 1 tablespoon – minced
  • 1 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 2 Cups Shiitake – thinly sliced
 The Rest – You can add or subtract any vegetable you want.
  • 1 Cup Basil – whole or roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro – whole or roughly chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Green Onion – thinly sliced
  • 1/2 Cup Fresh Red Cabbage – minced
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper – cut into thin strips
  • Scallion Micro Sprouts – or your choice
  • Black Sesame Seeds
  • Lime Wedges
  • 1 Package Soba Noodles
 Other garnish ideas
  • Radish
  • Carrots
  • Avocado
 Roasted pepper sesame sauce
 Roast peppers on the stovetop at medium high heat.  A gas stove is best but it will also work on electric.

Char peppers 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.  Cut the peppers into smaller pieces and mix with toasted sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, tamari sauce, sea salt, Serrano chilis and ginger and puree with an immersion blender or a food processor. Set aside.

Add the onions to a large pot or Dutch oven 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 cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.  Add the sauce to the onions and blend with an immersion blender or dump everything in batches into a food processor and puree all together.  Set aside

Broth – Mushrooms
 Wash and cut the stems off the mushrooms and set aside in a bowl.

Put the 4 cups of water and mushroom stems in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

While stem broth is cooking, thinly slice mushroom tops and set aside in a bowl.

When stem broth is done, remove from heat and strain into red pepper sauce.  Discard stems. Set aside until you start the noodles.

Next mince shallots, add to a sauté pan on medium heat, saute with 2 tablespoon of sesame oil until soft and golden.  Make sure to stir frequently.  (about 6 – 8 minutes)

Add mushrooms and sprinkle lightly with salt, stir until moisture is gone. (about 15 to 20 minutes) Make sure to stir

Add the minced garlic to the mushrooms in about 10 minutes after mushrooms are halfway cooked.


While mushrooms are cooking prep the green onions, cabbage, bell pepper, basil, cilantro.

Noodles and Serving
 Heat up the red pepper broth on medium heat and cook the soba noodle according to package instructions.  Place the noodles into 4 bowls top with veggies of your choice and with the red pepper broth.
Serve with cilantro, basil, sesame seeds and a lime wedge.
Health Benefits:

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.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pita Bites

This Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pita Bite appetizer is everything!  There is a textural depth to these appetizers not to mention an incredible flavor!

The hummus is heavenly and creamy, which is the perfect contrast to the crunchy pita chips.  The feta adds a touch of saltiness while the lentils adds the perfect bits of crunch!  Top it off with some pomegranate seeds and you have yourself an awesome appetizer for your next get together!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Pita Bites

This appetizer stirred up memories about how Robby and I first got together.  I don’t think I have told this story yet!  I came back to L.A. In October 2007 from Oregon and Robby came back in 2008 from Massachusetts.  We hadn’t seen each other since we were teenagers and we both showed up to our mutual good friend Christine’s house for dinner.  In the next few weeks Robby and I had gone on a few bike rides and the last time he came up to my tiny studio apartment for some water.  We started looking through old photos and he says he felt something, a spark all of a sudden, which he told me years later.  I felt it too but I ignored it thinking we were just old friends.  I called him a few times but never heard back.  It turned out that his mom had passed away and he needed to be alone.


A year went by and unfortunately our good friend George’s mom had just passed.  Robby and our friend Antonia drove down from Santa Cruz.  They had a conversation about relationships and Robby told her he was fine being by himself.  We all showed up to Saint Sophia’s Greek Orthodox church at the same time.  After the ceremony everyone went across the street to a Greek restaurant Called “Papa Cristo’s Greek Grill and Catering”  We started off with Greek appetizers including hummus. Everything was phenomenal!  After, everyone headed to the cemetery but me, I had to do some work and I met up with them later at the Moose Lodge.  I had a couple glasses of wine when our friend Christine said ” Steph, why don’t you and Robby get together? And I said “because I didn’t considered it was an option since he never returned my phone calls.”

After a few cocktails, we all went to George’s house.  Antonia was going to be flying back to San Jose but everyone was guilt tripping her so she left to see if she could stay another night.  When she returned I was sitting on Robby’s lap.  It was pretty funny, Antonia was all “wait? what? I left for thirty minutes, what happened?  Well, as you can see the rest is history!


These cuties pair well with a light Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Albernio or a White Rioja.


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Bites Recipe:
48 Bites
  • 1/2 Cup or as needed Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – recipe below
  • 1/4 Cup Crispy Black Lentils – recipe below
  • 48 Pita Chips – recipe below
  • 1/4 Cup Feta Cheese – crumbled
  • 1/4 Cup Pomegranate seeds – or to taste
  • 1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar – reduced – optional
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus – makes about 1 cup – for whole recipe click here
  • 1/2 Cup Dried Garbanzo Beans – 3/4 Cups Cooked
  • 1 Small Red Bell Pepper – roasted
  • 1/4 Cup Roasted Tahini
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tablespoons Chili Olive Oil – homemade or storebought – can sub regular olive oil
  • 1 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Hot Paprika (can sub for regular paprika)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Crispy Black Lentils – adapted from Life and Health – for whole recipe click here

  • 1/4 Cup Black Lentils – cooked
  • 1 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Pinch Sea Salt
 Pita Triangles
  • 8 Pita – cut into 6 wedges each
  • Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoon Fresh Oregano – minced – optional
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt – or to taste

Balsamic Reduction

  • 1/2 Cup High Quality Balsamic Vinegar
 Prepare garbanzo beans for the hummus
 You can cook the garbanzo beans two different ways: one is the quick way, the other is by soaking the beans overnight which is better for your digestion.  This is how I prepare them, plus if you are going to make falafels this is the way to go.

Place them in a large bowl and cover with filtered water, they will expand to over double their size, make sure you cover by several inches of water to allow for expansion.  Soak overnight for at least 12 hours then drain.

Quick method

Place the beans in a pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water above the beans and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the beans soak in the warm water for 1 hour then drain the water and rinse.

Cooking the beans

If you want extra smooth hummus you can do as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi do from their cookbook “Jerusalem”  and remove the skins from the garbanzo beans.

Just add chickpeas and 1 teaspoons of baking soda to a large saucepan over high heat.  Stirring constantly for about 2 – 3 minutes.  Covers the chickpeas by about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes to 1 hours or until soft, depending on the type and freshness, sometimes even longer.  Skim off the foam and skins that float to the surface.  They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.


Put the beans back in the pot and cover with several inches of filtered water.

Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer on medium heat for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until tender.  They should be very fairly tender pressing between your fingers but not too mushy.

When the garbanzo beans are cooked and cooled, measure everything and put in a food processor or blender and puree until the desired texture.

Roasted Pepper

While the beans are cooking roast the peppers and remove the stem and seeds.  Set aside.

Crispy Black Lentils

Preheat oven to 400°F

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a bowl toss the lentils, oil and salt together then spread out on the parchment.
Roast lentils for 25 – 30 minutes, stir in between.  Roast until crunchy.  Watch them closely at the end so they don’t burn.  Let cool.
When the garbanzo beans are cooked and cooled, measure everything for the hummus and put in a food processor or blender and puree until the desired texture.
Balsamic Reduction

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small pan and turn heat to medium-high then bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 – 15 minutes.  Stir occasionally until it coats the back of your spoon.  Keep an eye on it because it can happen fast and burn.

Baked Pita Chips
 Turn down the oven to 350 degrees

Cut each pita into 8 triangles and place on one side of a parchment lined baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt and gently toss.  Sprinkle on the oregano and bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until crispy.

Spoon a dollop of hummus onto each pita triangle then top with a little feta, pomegranate seeds and lentils.  Serve with a side dish of balsamic to let your guest drizzle over the top of each pita.  You will have a about 1/2 cup of hummus leftover.  I usually make the whole recipe and extra pita chips for serving or for my snacking purposes.
Health Benefits:

Garbanzo beans are are super high in protein and extremely high in fiber, just one cup provides 50% of the Daily Value.  Because of the fiber they are great for your heart, lowering blood cholesterol levels and the risk of heart attack as well as help prevent constipation and digestive disorders.  Just one cup provides 84.5% of the daily value of manganese, which is a antioxidant that acts as a monitor of the free radicals in the body.  If you are low in energy the high iron content will help and will transports oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body.  They also help to balance blood sugar levels while providing steady, slow-burning energy. Garbanzo beans are helpful for weight loss as they keep you full longer.

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.