Millet Panzanella Salad with Asiago Croutons

This is a tasty panzanella salad with a slight twist.  A classic panzanella is a Tuscan bread salad that consists of crispy croutons, tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, basil and a vinaigrette dressing.
 I had planned on making this salad with couscous, but decided to try it with millet to make it a more substantial and healthy salad.   Millet is much healthier than couscous and it holds up a little bit better.
The roasted peppers add a nice smoky component and the Asiago croutons lends to the layers of flavors along with adding an amazing texture.
  If you have never tried millet, I highly recommend it!
I made this salad with our friends Beto, Jill and Paloma in mind.  They came to stay with us last weekend and we had a nice picnic on the beach.  I served this salad along with four different cheeses, hazelnut cranberry crackers, fuji
apples, raw walnuts and almonds.  Oh and some wine, of course!  There is nothing better than enjoying a meal with friends and family. Top it off with a picnic on the beach and I’m in heaven.  This salad was a hit, so I knew I was ready to share it.  It is just in time for summer.
We had a bottle of Rueda but it would go with almost any white wine, sweet or dry.
Here are a few other takes on a panzanella salad.
The Bojon Gourmet – Gluten Free Summer Panzanella – here
My New Roots – Healthy Colorful Panzanella – here
Cookie + Kate – Spring Panzanella – here
Super Nummy Yo – Asian Panzanella – here
  • 1 Cup Dried Millet – 20 – 25 minutes
  • 2 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 Vegetable Bouillon Cube –  unsalted
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Container Cherry Tomatoes – sliced in half
  • 1 Roasted Red Bell Pepper – roasted and diced
  • 1 Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper – roasted and diced
  • 1/2 Cup (about a 1/4) Red Onion – Minced
  • 2 Cup Fresh Basil – torn
  • 1 Cup Asiago Cheese –  finely shredded


  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons White Wine Vinegar or Champagne Vinegar
  • 2  Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Black Pepper


  • 4 Cups Country Bread like Ciabatta – torn
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Asiago Cheese – finely shredded



Measure the millet and rinse in a fine mesh colander.  Add the millet to a saute pan to toast and stir continually for 4 minutes on medium-low heat.  (Be careful not to let them burn.)
Add the millet to a small saucepan, add the water, bouillon, and salt.   Bring to a boil, then mash up the bouillon.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, undisturbed, until all the water is absorbed. ( I use a sauce pan with a glass lid so it’s easy to see if the liquid is gone.)
Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 10 minutes with the lid on.  Dump into a bowl and fluff up with a fork, then let cool completely.
Veggies & Cheese
While the millet is cooking, roast the peppers.  Remove the skin, stem, seeds and then dice them.  Set aside.
Mince the onion, slice the tomatoes in half and shred the cheese with the small holes of the cheese grater.  (shred enough for the croutons as well) Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper.
You can use day old bread, I used fresh and it worked out nice.
Tear the bread into small pieces.  In a large straight sided pan, add the oil and turn heat to medium-low.  Heat up the oil, then add the bread.  Stir continually until they get crispy. (about 10 minutes)

Add the Asiago and stir until melted and a lightly Golden. (Some Asiago will stick to the pan)
When the millet is cooled down, add the the veggies, cheese and dressing.  Mix well, then tear the basil into small pieces and stir them in.
Add the croutons to individual salads to keep them crispy.  If you have leftovers you will want to re-heat the croutons to get them crispy again.


Health benefits:

Millet is alkaline and it digests easily. It has high levels of tryptophan like turkey, which has calming effects. It is rich in magnesium, which helps to reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks. It is high in fiber that helps lower cholesterol and keeps you regular by also hydrating your colon. It is high in anti-oxidants, which may help to prevent heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes. Millet also has high protein content. Eat in moderation.

Fennel and Radish with Fresh Pea Cheve Pesto Crostini

I love a good appetizer and this one is no exception!  The combination of pea pesto, crunchy vegetables and Manchego cheese is out of this world.  To top it off, the scallions add a nice spicy touch.  It is the perfect addition to a summer soiree.

Fennel-Crostini copy

Of course, crostinis have been made a number of ways. However, this combination is truly unique which makes me happy!  Plus, how pretty are these with the pink and green?!  As with anything, the higher quality of the ingredients, the better the crostinis will be.  So, make sure to get a fresh baked French Baguette!  There is one problem though, you won’t be able to stop eating them!


Serve these with a nice summer salad and a sparkling wine, like a Cava or Prosecco.

Fennel-Radish-Crostini-with-Pea-Pesto copy

Recipe: Makes Approx. 20 Crostini
Pea Chevre Pesto
  • 3/4 Pound (1/2 cup shelled peas) Fresh Pea Pods
  • 1/4 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Chevre Cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 1 Fennel Bulb Cut in half cut out core and cut in 8 segments
  • 1/2 Cup Fennel Stalks – thinly sliced
  • 3/4 Cup French Breakfast Radishes – thinly sliced or regular – thinly sliced and quartered
  • 3/4 Cup Pea Chevre Pesto
  • 1 Wedge Manchego – shavings
  • 1 French Baguette – 20 slices
  • 1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil – or as needed
  • Scallion Micro Sprouts or Scallion Onions (thinly sliced) – to taste


Start by making the pesto.
Remove peas from the pods and measure.
In a food processor or blender; add the peas, measure and add all other ingredients, puree until smooth and set aside.
Cut the stalks off the fennel bulb, then cut the bulb in half and cut out the core.  Cut the fennel bulb into 8 wedges, thinly slice and add to a medium size bowl.
Slice the fennel stalks into thin slices, measure and add to the bowl.
Thinly slice the radish and add to bowl. (If using regular radishes, thinly slice and quarter).
Add the pesto to the fennel and mix well.

Slice the bread into 1/2 inch slices.

Place on to baking sheet and with a pastry brush, coat both sides with olive oil. (or use your fingers)

Put on the top shelf of your oven and broil for 1 minute on each side.  Make sure to watch them closely, they can burn fast.

I usually put the timer on but still check on them.  You want them just golden.

Turn oven to 350 degrees.

Scoop up a tablespoon of the salad and spread onto the crostinis and place them on a baking sheet.  Using a vegetable peeler, shave the manchego into slices, two for each crostini and put into the oven for 3 – 4 minutes to melt the cheese.  I check on them every minute.

Top them with the micro scallion sprouts or scallion slices.


Health benefits:

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.

Radishes help eliminate excess mucus in the body and are great for respiratory disorders, bronchitis and asthma. They are cleansing for the digestive system helping to break down and eliminate stagnant food and toxins that have built up over time as well as eliminate cancer-causing free radicals in the body. They are very high in vitamin C, which improves your immune system.  They have a low glycemic index and helps to regulate the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, which is great for diabetics. Radishes water content keep your body and skin keep hydrated and with their high fiber content they increase regular bowel movements, relieve bloating and help indigestion. They are a powerful detoxifier of the liver and stomach. They are also great for reducing blood pressure with the high potassium content.

Yellow Gazpacho with Roasted Poblano Pesto

This is a refreshing soup for those hot spring/summer days.  You can really taste all of the individual flavors in this soup.  The garnish adds extra crunch and flavor from the cucumber, cabbage, roasted poblano and roasted yellow peppers.  The roasted poblano pesto finishes it off amazingly!


Ang and I are hosting our first Pop-up dinner in Phoenix at the end of this month.  We are doing a Mexican inspired meal.  We want to serve a chilled soup to accommodate the Arizona heat.  I came up with a gazpacho soup with a Mexican twist.  I am really excited to share our food and cocktail recipes in a live forum.  I am a bit nervous, but I know that it will be fun as well as a great experience.  I would love it if Ang could do more of these dinners in the future with some of her other chef friends.  This would be a great outlet for her to use her amazing talents and creativity!


This soup is perfect with a dry white crisp wine, like a Albarino, white Rioja, Rueda or a sparkling wine like a Cava or Prosecco.


Recipe: 4 servings

Roasted Poblano Pesto = 3/4 cup (reserve for garnish and crostinis)

  • 1 Poblano Peppers – roasted
  • 1/4 + 2 Tablespoons Raw Walnuts
  • 1/4 Cup Aged Asiago Cheese – finely shredded
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1  Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt or to taste


  • 3 Pounds Yellow Tomatoes (about 4 large tomatoes) – blanched
  • 3 Yellow Bell Peppers- roasted -diced – 1 reserved for garnish
  • 2 Shallots
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 1/4 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 1/2 Cucumbers – 1/2 diced – reserved for garnish
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 2 Teaspoons Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 1 Roasted Poblano – roasted – diced – reserve for garnish
  • 1/2 Cup Red Cabbage – minced – reserve for garnish

Garnish – to taste

  • Diced Cucumber
  • Diced Roasted Yellow Bell Pepper
  • Diced Roasted Poblano Pepper
  • Minced Red Cabbage
  • Roasted Poblano Pesto
  • Crostini – optional

Start by roasting all of the poblano and yellow bell peppers, remove the burnt skin with a paper towel and remove the stems and seeds.

Make the roasted poblano pesto.

In a food processor or blender; add one of the poblano peppers, finely shred the Asiago, peel the garlic, measure and add all other ingredients, puree until smooth and set aside.


Blanch the tomatoes and set aside to cool.

Mince shallots and garlic.  Add the olive oil to a saute pan and turn on stove to medium-low heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook until they are translucent and the garlic has just started to brown.  Add the wine, reduce to a syrup and set aside to cool.

While shallots are cooking, peel the tomatoes.  When wine is reduced, add the tomatoes to the shallots and mash them up a bit.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  Let cool.

Peel the cucumbers, scoop out the seeds, roughly chop one whole cucumber and add it to the cooled tomatoes.  Dice half of a cucumber and set aside for garnish.

Dice one of the roasted yellow bell peppers and set aside for garnish, roughly chop the remaining two and add them to the soup.

Add the lemon juice and salt to the soup.

Puree the soup until smooth with an immersion blender, food processor or blender.

Mince the red cabbage.

 Drizzle the pesto over the finished soup (I add about 2 tablespoons per cup of soup).  Add the diced poblano, diced bell pepper, diced cucumber and sprinkle with minced red cabbage.

Serve chilled or at room temperature with some plain crostinis or topped with the pesto.


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 with a little 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.

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.

Poblano Peppers are extremely high in vitamin C; just one pepper has 95% of your daily value.  They are great for your immune system and help to reduce inflammation like in arthritis and asthma. They contain lycopene a powerful antioxidant, giving many fruits and vegetables their color, especially tomatoes, which is great for the prevention of cancers in the bladder, prostate, cervix and pancreas. They are also helpful with increasing oxygen so the body can burn more calories 20 minutes after eating peppers.  They’re also full of vitamin A, vitamin K, and potassium.

Roasted Asparagus topped with Fresh Pea Chevre Pesto and Mandarin Sea Salt

I absolutely love this dish!  Asparagus with a fresh pea pesto just screams spring.  The fresh pea pesto adds a delightful richness and pairs so well with the asparagus.  The mandarin salt adds a nice touch of citrusy salty crunch.


 I am very blessed to have such an amazing mom.  My mom is one of the most compassionate people I know.  Her whole life has been all about healing and helping people.  When I was a toddler, she put herself through nursing school while working the graveyard shift in a hospital.  When I was a teenager, she learned how to do acupressure and hypnotherapy.   She would give her friends and family free treatments.  Whenever I had a friend in need of a place to stay, she would let them stay with us until they had a place to go.  She has rescued more animals than I can count and fosters small dogs until she finds them a new home.  She has worked as a Hospice nurse helping people transition as well as helping their families cope for many years now.  I could go on and on!

Time flies and it is easy to let a lot of time go by without connecting with the ones we love.

If I lived closer to my mom, I would spend Mother’s day with her and I would make this dish with some French bread and wine.  If you are lucky enough to still have your mom in your life, hug her, call her and tell her how much you love her!


This is a great dish paired with a crisp Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino or a Prosecco.



Pea Pesto - 1 1/2 Cups (you can halve this recipe or spread the extra on some French bread and serve alongside the asparagus)

  • 1 Pound (3/4 cup peas) Fresh Pea Pods
  • 1/2 Cup Raw Walnuts
  • 1/2 Cup Chevre Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt

Mandarin Salt

Whole batch

  • 1 box – (1 1/4 Cup) Maldon Salt
  • Zest of 4 – 8 Mandarin Oranges – depends on how much citrus you want (I used 5, which is mild)

Small batch

  • 1/4 Cup Maldon Salt
  • Zest of 1 – 2 Mandarin Orange


  • 1 Bunch Asparagus
  • 2  Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sliced Almonds – to taste


  Remove peas from their pods, measure and put into a pot of filtered water.  Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and leave in the water for 1 minute.  (use a timer) Drain in a colander and rinse with cold filtered water.  Let cool.

When peas are cool, put them along with all the pesto ingredients into a food processor or blender.  Puree.

Mandarin Salt

Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees.
I included a whole recipe for the salt if you desire to use it on other dishes or you can make the smaller batch for this recipe only.
Zest the mandarins with a microplaner, spread the zest out on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Take out and separate any clumps with your fingers and put back in for 5 additional minutes and then repeat separation of any remaining clumps and put back in for the final 2 minutes.
Put salt into food processor and pulse about 5 times to break it down just a bit.
Mix the zest with the salt.

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.

Wash the asparagus and COMPLETELY dry.   Snap off the tough ends and discard.  (If they are thick, peel the outside.  Mine were thin so I didn’t peel them.)  Place them on a baking sheet, drizzle olive oil over the asparagus.  With your hands, gently coat the asparagus evenly and spread out to a single layer. Place on the top rack of your oven and bake for 5 – 8 minutes, depending on how thick they are.


You can serve it like I have in my photos or put the pesto and mandarin salt into bowls and let your guest add their own amount.


Health benefits:


Asparagus is a good source of fiber that helps to regulate blood sugar and also lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Asparagus has impressive anti-inflammatory properties and helps to flush out toxins in the kidneys and prevent kidney stones.  It is rich in glutathione; a compound that is helps break down carcinogens and is an anti-oxidants that help remove harmful oxidant free radicals from the body.  It is high in beta-carotene, vitamin-C, B-complex, E and folates.  The folate helps B12 absorb easier, which is great for vegetarians. Asparagus also contains fair amounts of vitamin A and K. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health.

Fire Roasted Tortilla Soup with Ancho Tortilla Strips

This soup is bursting with robust flavors due to the addition of my fire roasted salsa recipe!  There are a lot of tortilla soups out there in the world and this is my take on it!  It happens to be one of my all time favorites!


I am so stoked for Ang and her son Avien.  Last year Avien (sweetest little guy you ever did meet) was diagnosed with type 1 Diabetes.  He has had to endure countless finger pricks and shots.  He was not able to eat what his brother or friends ate.  Basically, he was not able to be a carefree kid.  Avien started his own GoFund page where people could donate money so he could get an insulin pump.   He surpassed his goal and plans to use the extra money to go to a diabetes camp.  So exciting!  Monday he got his pump and it is going great!  I am over the moon happy for him now that he can have a more normal life again.  He now has much more flexibility on what he can eat like this delicious and healthy tortilla soup!!!

This soup has about one sprouted corn tortilla per 2 cup serving (about 12 Carbs),  3 oz. tomato sauce (about 4 Carbs),  1 oz raw cheese (0 Carbs) and a 1/2 cup of salsa, which includes: tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic and cilantro (about 8 Carbs).  So a 2 cup bowl is about 24 carbs without the garnishes.


Try this soup with a glass of white Rioja, Rueda , Sauvignon Blanc or a beer of your choice.


Recipe: 8 – 10 Servings

  • 1 Batch (4 cups) Fire Roasted Salsa
  • 1 – 24 oz. Jar Strained Tomatoes
  • 1 Teaspoon Ancho Powder or about 1 Ancho Pepper – ancho pepper ground in coffee grinder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 Tablespoon Sea Salt – or to taste
  • 12 Sprouted Corn Tortillas – save 4 for tortilla strips
  • 9 Cups Filtered Water
  • 1 – 8 oz or 2 1/4 Cups Raw Jack Cheese – shredded

Baked tortilla strips

  • 4 Sprouted Corn Tortillas
  • 2 Teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ancho Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Sea Salt
Cilantro Micro Sprouts or Fresh Cilantro
Mexican crema, sour cream or creme fraîche

For the tortilla chips:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tortillas in half then cut into thin strips.

In a medium bowl, add the tortilla strips, olive oil, ancho powder and salt.  Gently toss to completely coat the chips.

Arrange the tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet, and bake until golden and crispy, about 12 minutes.


For the soup:

In a large soup pot (I used a 5 1/2 quart dutch oven) add the tomatoes/tomato sauce, water, ancho powder, paprika, salt and 8 tortillas cut into small pieces.
Cook for 30 minutes on medium-low heat.  Add the salsa and cook for another half hour or until it starts to boil.  Slowly add the cheese.  When the cheese is fully melted, puree with a hand held blender (immersion blender) or a regular blender or a food processor.
Garnish and enjoy!
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.