I took yet another Whole Foods cooking class all about Chinese Dim Sum the other weekend and my favorite dish was this Congee. It is easy, full of veggies and super flavorful.

To me, any dish with rice is comforting.  Being filipino, growing up I ate rice every single day.  Even with breakfast sometimes. Rice reminds me of sitting around the dining room table with my family.  We did that every evening.  I definitely want to do that when I have children someday. 

Congee (recipe credit to Ani Loizzo of Whole Foods)

2 cups sushi rice, rinsed well
8 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup shredded carrots
2 baby bok choy, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, pounded and minced
2 inches of ginger, peeled and minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup sesame oil

Directions

Combine sushi rice and three cups of water in a medium pot with a lid and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30-35, or until the rice is very soft and creamy, stirring occassionally.

Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a very large pan and cook mushrooms, onions, carrots, bok choy, lemongrass and ginger until soft and brown, about 20-25 minutes. Stir together rice, vegetables, green onions and sesame seeds, season to taste and serve.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

This dish is great served plain but also with a splash of soy sauce.

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The pasta goodness continues today with a goat cheese tortellini.  Tortellini is actually just as easy to make/shape as ravioli.  These may look funny because our instructor couldn’t found a round cookie cutter, but you get the idea.

Quick stovetop marinara (recipe credit to Ani Loizzo/Whole Foods)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 whtie or yellow onion, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 sprigs fresh oregano
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
6 basil leaves, chopped fine

Directions

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes or until golden. Add garlic, saute 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes and half of the juice from the tomato can. Add wine and herbs and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove herb sprigs. For a smooth sauce, use an immersion style blender to blend until smooth. Taste, season with salt and pepper as needed. Makes about 4 cups. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

Goat cheese and sun dried tomato tortellini

Ingredients

10 ounce jar oil packed sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1 beaten egg
1 recipe’s worth pasta dough

Directions

In a food processor, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, goat cheese, garlic and parsley and pulse until well-combined.  Roll your dough and punch out four inch rounds with a cookie cutter or the top of a glass.  Place 1/2 a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of each round.  Brush egg on half of the edge.  Fold in half and crimp shut with a fork.  Fold half-circle around your index finger and pinch ends together.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook tortellini until they float.  Toss with sauce.  Serves 4 as a main course,  8-10 as an appetizer course.

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Last Saturday was quite idyllic.  I spent the day with my BFF Kristin (pictured above).  We went to a pasta class at Whole Foods, walked around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, went shopping and went on a garden tour.  Later that evening I had dinner on a patio with good friends Libby, Biffer and my sister Katie.  The weather was perfect, one of those days that makes us crazy Minnesotans actually proud to live here.

The class was a highlight of the day.  We learned how to make homemade pasta and it’s one of those things I’ve always wanted to try but have been way too intimated.  Guess what?  It’s super easy!  And fun, too.  I’ve included step by step photos so you can give it a try.  The recipe for the homemade pasta and how to make classic cheese ravioli with pesto is at the end of this post.
Ani Loizzo, the culinary director at Whole Foods is pretty purist about cooking.  She doesn’t use fancy equipment like pasta rollers/cutters, just a bowl and her hands and some simple tools like a roller and pizza cutter.

The ricotta filling is easy and delicious. You can swap it out for any filling of your choice.

Oh. YUM.
Basic homemade pasta (recipe credit to Ani Loizzo of Whole Foods)

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1 1/2 – 2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Combine flour and salt. Make a mound of the flour on a clean countertop. Make a hollow or well in the flour. Crack eggs into flour and beat with a fork. Use your hands to mash flour and egg together until well incorporated (this will take a few minutes). As soon as you have a shaggy but solid mass, start kneading. If the dough is too sticky, add flour a 1/4 cup at a time, until it is tacky. If the dough is too dry, add an egg. Once dough is a solid ball, set it aside and scrape any bits of dough from the counter and re-flour. Knead your dough for six minutes, re-flouring as necessary.  Wrap in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Re-flour counter if necessary and roll out with a rolling pin until 1/8 inch thick or as desired. Dust top with flour, cut into desired shapes with a pizza cutter or sharp knife. Boil in salted water for 4-5 minutes or until it floats. Toss with olive oil immediately upon draining so it does not become sticky.

Classic cheese ravioli

Ingredients

2 cups fresh ricotta cheese, well-drained
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 tablespoon each garlic powder and dried basil
A pinch of nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 recipe’s worth of pasta dough

Directions

Take your pasta dough and divide in quarters. Roll our each quarter into a square. Cut your big squares into two inch squares. Mix together ricotta, parmesan, egg, garlic, nutmeg, basil and salt. Add one rounded teaspoon to half of the ravioli squares. Wet your finger or a brush with water and brush onto edges. Seal with another ravioli square, crimping with a fork. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add ravioli. Boil until they float. Set aside. Served 2 as a large main course or 6-8 as a first course.

Classic basil pesto

Ingredients

2 cups basil leaves, lightly packed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil

Directions

Place basil, parmesan, pine nuts and garlic in the food processor and chop until finely ground. Add lemon juice and turn food processor back on. Steam in olive oil until a smooth paste forms. Season to toaste with salt and pepper. Makes one cup.

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This one’s gonna be short today, I was busy last weekend working on a dessert table for Callie V’s I Heart Minesota lakeside photo shoot and am too sleepy for a full post (the shoot was absolutely fabulous, down to every last tiny detail. I can’t wait to see the photos!)

Stay tuned for lots of great homemade pasta recipes from yet another wonderful Whole Foods cooking class I attended on Saturday, starting wtih classic cheese ravioli with basil pesto (on the blog tomorrow).

I hope you all have a great Monday!

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I attended another Whole Foods cooking class yesterday, this one was called “Cooking with Quinoa”.  I don’t have a lot of experience with quinoa other than I’ve eaten it a few times at restaurants and it’s delicious. I had never cooked with it until yesterday. In case you don’t know, quinoa is a whole grain with a lot of protein, iron and fiber. Plus, it’s gluten-free and super easy to make.

My favorite dish of the class was this quinoa corn chowder. It was not as creamy as you may expect, it’s very thick, even thicker than a stew. It’s hardy and delicious. My favorite part was the tempeh “bacon”, which gave the soup a smoky flavor (you can find this at Whole Foods for about $3.50).

Quinoa corn chowder (recipe by Ani Loizzo of Whole Foods)

Ingredients

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
2 medium sized Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
4 ears worth of corn kernels, or 2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 cups vegetable broth
6 slices tempeh “bacon” chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika

Preparation

Heat olive oil in a medium sized pot. Saute “bacon” until crisp, set aside. Add onion and red pepper and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalepeno and potatoes, saute 5 more minutes. Add paprika, broth and quinoa and bring to a simmer. Simmer 10 minutes, add corn and simmer 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with green onions and reserved “bacon”.

Serves 4 as a meal, 8 as a side dish.

This recipe is gluten-free and vegan.

12 comments

I attended my second cooking class at Whole Foods this weekend titled Parisian Bistro. The class was a lot of fun, informative and decadent. I ate delicious French food like an American, meaning, way too much! Now I am armed with some great recipes and I already feel the wheels turning as I plan my next dinner party with a Parisian theme!

A major highlight of the class is Culinary Director, Ani Loizzo. She created the menu and recipes and adds a lot of extra color and commentary throughout the class. She should have her own cooking show!

I am going to post the recipes and photos in a series. Today’s recipe is for an amazing Nicoise salad, delicious as a salad course but also robust enough to be a main entree.

Stay tuned for part 2, which will include a French Onion soup recipe. Bon appetit!!

Salad Nicoise (recipe credit to Ani Loizzo/Whole Foods)

Ingredients

2 heads butter lettuce, washed and dried, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup each green beans, blanched and fingerling potatoes, roasted and halved
2 cans tuna packed in olive oil
4 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 cup small French olives (preferably nicoise)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons each lemon juice, capers and red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 shallot, roughly chopped
6 anchovy fillets

Directions
To make the vinaigrette, add fillets, capers and shallots to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add Dijon mustard, lemon juice and vinegar, process to a smooth paste. Stream in the olive oil until well-combined and silky. Set aside.

Arrange a bed of lettuce on each place, then arrange all other ingredients on top. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately. Serves 8-10.

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