Hello from the other side of my surgery rotation, from being halfway done with third year, and from sunny Miami, where I’m spending a blissfully warm winter break. I’m ashamed that I’ve been away from sugarcured for over two months, and I hereby pledge to not let such a hiatus happen again. Rest assured, though, I haven’t been hiding much from you on the food front other than defrosted dinners, protein bars, and peanut butter. Lots and lots of peanut butter. I am so grateful to be able to spend two full weeks over break with family and friends, to trade the tundra for the tropics, and to get back into the [parents’ incredible, fully-stocked, fully-equipped with every cooking implement known to man] kitchen.


This afternoon, on the heels of a strenuous day of reading in bed, walking the dog, tanning in my backyard, and lunching with my family, I embarked on a solo baking adventure. For a messy, multitasking cook like myself, there is perhaps nothing more liberating than having the time and space to tackle multiple recipes and tear apart the kitchen with reckless abandon (and of course, to finally clean it all up, mom). I rolled crescents of cream cheese dough around apricot preserves, hazelnuts, and chocolate, to be frozen and baked into scrumptious rugelach on Christmas morning. I whipped up a sugar cookie dough that will be bathed in cinnamon sugar tomorrow when I make snickerdoodles at our family’s annual cookie baking extravaganza. I crushed graham crackers in preparation for making s’mores bars. And, finally, I made a heavenly candy that I’d been pining for all week, ever since seeing it here.

IMG_2545Fittingly, it’s called Heavenly Hash: a Southern classic that combines chocolate, marshmallows, and nuts, and settles into a dangerously decadent cross between fudge and candy bar. I’d neither made nor eaten this before, but I knew in an instant that I had to have it in my life. I swapped out almonds in favor of hazelnuts, which added an air of elegance and reminded me of my favorite gelato flavor, nocciola. With a base of intensely bittersweet chocolate that’s only slightly tempered by the mellowness of the marshmallows, this Heavenly Hash packs quite the punch. Its richness makes it such that it can only be eaten in tiny pieces, which luckily means that it will—or theoretically should—last a long while.


So, to the List of Ways in Which I am Measuring My Break, which currently includes #1. Novel pages read and #2. Progressive shades of brown my skin is turning, I’m officially adding #3. Pieces of Heavenly Hash left in the fridge.

As the food-filled festivities ensue over the next week, I look forward to sharing my family’s favorite culinary traditions with you. Happy Holidays, from my warm Winter Wonderland to yours!


The recipe for Heavenly Hash can be found here. I followed it exactly as written, except swapped hazelnuts for almonds. The base absolutely lends itself to whatever combinations your heart desires!


back in action

I didn’t forget about you, I swear. It’s the end of my first week living at home since early August – my first week in 3 months in my own kitchen – and it seems like high time to resuscitate Sugarcured. I managed to eat pretty okay during my stint at the hotel doing off-site rotations. While I got a little burned-out on protein bars and cafeteria lunches, Joanna and I started a lovely tradition of Saturday suppers with enough leftovers to carry us both through the week. But with all the back-and-forth from Hyde Park to Evanston on the weekends those blogworthy recipes slipped through the cracks.

Last weekend was a long-awaited Golden which meant (a) belated Halloween celebrations with food-themed costumes, of course


and (b) settling back into my kitchen. I chose a dish I’ve had my sights on for years for the occasion: homemade gnocchi. Every recipe I read was a variation on a theme: “OMG you guysssss gnocchi is so easy!! But don’t add a teaspoon of flour too much or you’ll be left to eat lumps of gruel for dinner and you might as well go back to your hotel kitchen and never cook again.” My trepidations were soothed by the masterful gnocchi instructions in Deb Pearlman’s Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.


And yes, you guysssss, gnocchi is pretty easy. And yes, it’s tempting to over-flour the sticky mess of dough. I’ll direct you to the resources I mentioned (reproduced online on a gazillion cooking blogs) and add a few tips. Most importantly, flour the heck out of every surface that will touch that gooey excuse for a ball of dough: your hands, your rolling surface, your gnocchi-cutting knife, etc etc. The only place that extra flour doesn’t belong is in the dough! Second, many resources instruct the cook to use a fork to form ridges on the gnocchi. The purpose of this step is to form ridges to grab the sauce and it’s totally unnecessary here since the doughballs popped into a butter bath instead of a proper sauce. 


Gnocchi usually have potato at their base but I went for pumpkin because ’tis the season and also it’s easier to imagine that the little dumplings are some semblance of good-for-you if they’re orange. 

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Brown Butter and Sage

adapted from Delicious Days

1 small pie pumpkin (or comparable winter squash) or 1 can pumpkin puree (about 1 3/4 c puree)

Yolk of one large egg

1 1/4- 1 1/2c all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

salt and pepper, to taste

ground or freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

4T butter

2-3T chopped sage

grated parmesan cheese

If using whole pumpkin, roast, remove skins, and mash. Add egg yolk and flour (start w 1 cup), stir with a fork to combine, and add salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add flour bit by bit as necessary, using just enough to make the dough come together. It should be the consistency of sticky sugar cookie dough, not normal pasta or bread dough. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and dust with flour. Generously flour your counter or table, flour the blade of a sharp knife, flour your hands. Drop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto the surface and gently shape into a finger-thick roll. Cut into 1-inch dumplings and transfer to parchment. Repeat with remainder of dough. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the gnocchi and stir once so they don’t stick to the bottom. Cook until most of the gnocchi float to the surface, 4-6 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon (draining them in a colander could smoosh them). Melt the butter in a large, heavy skillet. Add the sage and cook until it begins to crisp and the butter begins to brown. Mix in the gnocchi and serve with freshly grated parmesan and black pepper. 

taste the rainbow

The act of preparing food is a highly multisensory experience. While taste may be the predominant sense in mind when selecting ingredients to pair and flavors to layer, each of our senses plays a key role in the makings of a meal, no matter how complex or simple. Smell is the telltale sign of a perfectly baked brownie or a sadly charred piece of bread. Touch, not only on our hands but all throughout our mouth, is what makes biting into a crisp apple or crackly meringue so satisfying. The sounds of clanging pots and sizzling oil are my comforting soundtrack after a long day. Sight is what attracts us to food both up close and at a distance. The most simple breakfast of toast can be elevated to something special when placed on a beautiful plate and surrounded by bright orange slices. It is this final sense that most inspired my cooking last week. I was moseying around the produce section of the grocery store when a dazzling display of rainbow carrots caught my eye. I’d seen white and yellow carrots before, but these—as advertised—covered the whole spectrum. I giddily picked one of each hue and made my way home.


Each carrot harbored a surprise inside. The green one had a lemony yellow center. The red had a horseradish tang. My favorite was the purple one, with a strong amethyst rim and a bright orange center, reminding me of my favorite Disney dragon. I was sated merely by looking at this colorful array. In an attempt to not mar their natural beauty, I roasted them for just twenty minutes to bring out a bit of sweetness and softness. I tossed them with a bright dressing of lime juice, honey, pomegranate molasses, and cumin, and a heaping handful of chopped parsley. To give it some lunchtime bulk I added some cooked couscous and chick peas. In the midst of a busy day in the O.R., pulling out this dazzling lunchtime display literally brightened my day.


As you shop, cook, and eat, I hope you challenge yourself to see, taste, smell, feel, and hear food in new ways and allow your kitchen to be a playground for your senses.

Rainbow Carrots with Lime Dressing


6 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick coins

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 500F. Toss carrots with olive oil and a healthy sprinkling of salt and pepper and arrange on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway through, until carrots are slightly soft but still retain a bite.


3 limes, juiced

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tsp honey

2 tsp pomegranate molasses

1/4 tsp cumin

1/3 cup chopped parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

To assemble: 

Toss roasted carrots with dressing. If desired, combine with 1 cup of cooked couscous and 1 can of drained chickpeas (or any other grains or beans that strike your fancy). Dried cranberries or toasted almonds would also be great additions.


the little reminders

I’m coming off the heels of a delicious week-long break. Our school kindly gave us nine days of freedom between rotations to relax and recharge. For me, that meant a trip home to Miami to celebrate the birthdays of my incredible grandmothers, followed by a couple of days enjoying my dad’s company in Chicago. Although the Miami sun was reluctant to peek from the clouds, I still managed to tan away a bit of my pasty complexion. More importantly, I got to spend a ton of quality time with my entire family and indulge in way too much good food.


Last Sunday, we celebrated my Grandma Rita’s 80th birthday at an extravagant brunch buffet. I felt like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory as I pranced about the stations of food, doling crab legs and fancy cheeses onto my plate, and ogling over every dainty petit four that graced the dessert room (yes, room!). Let’s just say this was a special occasion for a very special lady, and I was lucky to partake in such an indulgent event! One of the highlights of the buffet for me was something that was tucked away in a little bowl behind the more showstopping rows of sushi. It was a cold soba noodle salad, full of soft chunks of tofu, studded with dried cranberries, and tossed in a light vinegary dressing. I was won over by the interplay of sweet and tangy, and loved how light and fresh the flavors were. I snapped a photo and made a mental note to recreate this as soon as I came back to Chicago.


Serendipitously, my dad and I dined at a great Korean restaurant last night where the portion sizes were gargantuan. Among the many containers of leftovers I got to take back to my apartment was a brimming quart of cold spicy soba noodles. Although delicious in their own right, I couldn’t help but see the makings of my longed-for brunch buffet soba salad in them. So today, I did some doctoring of a different kind, and gave these soba noodles new life with the addition of thinly sliced cabbage and cucumbers, delicate carrot ribbons, tofu, cranberries, cashews, and a generous dousing of rice vinegar. Infused with the memories of my grandma’s special celebration and my dad’s visit to Chicago, these noodles will be my little reminder of the wonderful vacation had with my family as I take on my next rotation.

Soba Noodle Salad

2 cups soba noodles, cooked and chilled

1/2 head Napa cabbage, sliced in thin ribbons

1 English cucumber, sliced in thin quarters

1 large carrots, cut into long ribbons (use a vegetable peeler)

2/3 block of extra firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup roasted cashews, chopped

1/3 cup rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce*

Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Add more vinegar/sugar/hot sauce to your liking. Enjoy!

*Note: There was a bit of spicy sauce already on the noodles I used from the restaurant, so you may want to add more or less hot sauce depending on your taste!

taking time to celebrate

It’s crazy to think that I’m three-quarters of the way through my first rotation. It’s been an incredible experience thus far: constantly humbling, challenging, and inspiring. On a daily basis I’m reminded of the importance of taking time to celebrate and appreciate the health, friends, and family I am so lucky to have. Most recently, a very special celebration was in store. Sugar Cured’s own Kate had a birthday, and no amount of work or studying was about to stop us from marking the occasion in the way we know best—through good food.


True to her generous spirit, Kate invited us to her home for dinner where she cooked a smorgasbord of incredible Middle Eastern dishes from the pages of Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem. Although I’d usually fight the birthday girl on working in the kitchen on her big day, I knew that nothing would make Kate happier. But I at least compromised on two things: 1) getting to bring dessert and 2) doing the dishes.


In my family, there’s only one cake that’s fit for a birthday celebration. My grandma has been making this chocolate bundt cake for decades, and I can’t remember a birthday at my house (or in college, when my amazing mom would ship it cross-country) that hasn’t included it. I’m not sure what the original title on my Grandma’s recipe card read, but through years of whipping out this decadent creation for all manner of “special” occasions, we’ve lovingly dubbed it “Special Chocolate Cake.” As fate would have it, it turns out that half a country away, Kate’s family has also been making this cake recipe for birthdays for many years, although they call it Tunnel of Fudge Cake. So when deciding what dessert to make for Kate’s big day, it really was a no-brainer.


As special as this cake is, it’s really one of the easiest things to bake in the world. It involves doctoring up a cake mix (Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Fudge is our family’s go-to, and when I’ve tried other mixes, I’ve regretted it) with sour cream, pudding mix, extra eggs, and chocolate chips, and topping it with a rich ganache. An added flourish of sprinkles and a flaming crown of candles made this a fitting cake to toast to a sweet and wonderful  year ahead.

Happy Birthday Kate!

Special Chocolate Cake

1 box chocolate cake mix (Duncan Hines Butter Recipe Fudge highly recommended)

½ cup oil

½ cup water

4 eggs

1 box instant chocolate pudding mix

8 oz sour cream

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Coat bundt pan with cooking spray and dust with sugar (we use this in lieu of flour to make a nice crunchy crust).

Add all ingredients besides chocolate chips into a large mixing bowl. Use an electric hand or stand mixer to beat on medium speed for 1 minute to combine all ingredients. Scrape down bowl. Beat for another 4 minutes on medium-high speed (<– sounds like a lot, but it’s what makes it super moist and fluffy!). In the last minute of mixing, add in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until knife inserted in middle of cake comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack in pan for 30 minutes. Run a knife along the middle and outer edges and invert onto a wire rack to cool completely. Top with glaze.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

½ cup semisweet chocolate chips

¼ cup half and half

1 tbsp butter

In a glass measuring cup or microwave-save bowl, microwave chocolate chips and half and half for 1 minute on low power. Stir until chips are fully melted (if necessary, microwave for another 30 seconds on low power). Add butter and mix completely. Pour glaze over cake, allowing it to fall gently over the sides. Decorate to your liking.

golden, again

The weekend wasn’t golden in the sense Joanna described in her last post but nabbing my first garden sun-gold-en tomatoes at the 61st street market on Saturday made the weekend almost as sweet. As far as I’m concerned, tomato season is the waiting room to heaven and I’ve been feeling a little deprived this year. The little tomato plant I was trying to raise on my front balcony fell victim to a bad case of third year neglect (my laundry basket and gmail inbox have met the same fate- it’s a rampant disease). Luckily Al the fruit man had a bounty of little yellow tomatoes at his stand this week. I ate half the basket on my walk home as my brunch but I managed to save half for a late-summer pasta invention I had been scheming all week.


The other haul of the market day was a new-to-me kind of green called spigarello. My usual kale supplier was carrying this novel stuff which he described as a mild-flavored, leafy relative of broccoli. I’ve never met a brassica that I didn’t like and maybe it’s just that my palate is growing a little weary of kale and needing variety (though I doubt it), but one taste made me a spigarello believer. Here’s hoping that it makes another appearance at market next week.


I find myself turning to roasting as a preferred technique more and more especially when it yields they kind of tastiness these peppers have going on. I used to always turn to jarred roasted peppers and still do when short on time but I’m amazed at how low-effort and high-yield it is to roast them fresh. Their silky softness perfectly compliments the crunch of the greens.


As always, this recipe is ripe for modification. I have about 6 beloved late-summer, high-tomato-season pasta recipes and tried-and-true as they are, I never make them exactly the same twice in a row. I say use what’s fresh and available. Bon appetite!


2/3 pound linguine

1 pint cherry, grape, or sungold tomatoes

2 red bell peppers

1 medium brunch of greens (spigarello, kale, chard, spinach, etc), ribs removed and roughly chopped

1/2 c goat cheese crumbles

3 large cloves garlic, minced or crushed

1 T olive oil

1/4 c dry white wine

Salt and pepper

First, roast the peppers. Heat the oven to 375, line a baking sheet with foil and wash the peppers. Roast for 45-60 minutes, turning occasionally. They’re done when completely soft and beginning to char in spots. Place in a clean paper bag and fold over the top- this will help sweat off the skin and make for easier peeling. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skins with you hands. It’s no time to be a perfectionist, just get most of the skin. Remove the ribs and seeds and slice into thin strips.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente. When you drain, reserve 1 c of the cooking water.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Cook the garlic until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for a few moments until they start to release their juices. Add the greens and cook just until they begin to wilt. Add the peppers and then the wine, letting it cook down slightly. Salt and pepper to taste and stir in about 1/2 the cheese so it will melt. When the pasta is done, toss it with the veggies in a skillet or a large bowel. Add some of the pasta water and continue to add until the pseudo-sauce formed by the cheese and wine are your preferred thickness. Top with remaining cheese and serve warm.

fit for a golden weekend

In just a few short weeks of third year, a whole lot of medical jargon has been added to my repertoire. One of my favorite phrases to date is “golden weekend.” Definition: getting both Saturday and Sunday off. As med students, we’re generally guaranteed one weekend day free, but every now and then, we’re gifted a precious two full days of leisure.

This weekend was a golden one for me, and I lived it out to its fullest, catching up with friends, taking walks in the surprisingly cool weather, and of course, cooking, eating, and enjoying great food.


The farmers market was once again teeming with the sweet stone fruits of summer. I had to use every bit of restraint and a self-imposed $10 limit to not buy every last cherry and berry and on display. After great internal debate and a healthy amount of sampling, I came away with a carton of tender and succulent apricots, delicate, fragrant, and at their peak of ripeness. I hesitated to adulterate these precious orange gems in any way other than eating them solo. But after I had done that with a couple immediately upon arriving home, a salad sprung to mind that I was confident would showcase their natural beauty and flavor.


Juicy slices of apricot were combined with spicy arugula, tangy goat cheese, rich pistachios, and sweet fennel and tossed in a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Perhaps it was that I was enjoying it smack dab in the middle of a golden weekend, or that it was made with fancier ingredients that I don’t buy on a regular basis, or that it was enjoyed alongside two of Kate’s specialties, bruschetta and baba ganoush, but there was something about eating this salad that was utterly luxurious and special.


By the next time I’m free to make it back to the market, apricots may have fallen out of season, and the prospects of recreating this very salad may be slim. However, if there’s something I’ve realized so far during third year, it’s not to lament limited free time, but rather to savor these precious spent moments spent enjoying friends, food, and the city around us.

Apricot & Arugula Salad

Serves 2 salad-loving folk, and 4 normal people

3-4 apricots, sliced

3-4 large handfuls of arugula

1 bulb fennel, sliced very thinly (best if you can use a mandoline)

2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

2 tbsp pistachios

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp dijon mustard

3 tbsp olive oil

crack of black pepper

pinch of salt

Assemble salad ingredients in a large bowl. Use a fork or whisk to stir all the dressing ingredients vigorously until well combined. Toss salad in dressing just before serving. Enjoy!


Right now, I’m living in a hotel. Not too shabby…


I’m doing my outpatient medicine rotation in a northern suburb, and the hospital up here has very graciously provided us with housing so that we don’t have to make a 1.5+ hour commute each way. I feel like I’m stuck halfway between vacation and real life: enjoying the “rainkissed leaves” scented lotion, free cookies and coffee in the lobby, and cable TV, but still facing the realities of studying, working, and waking up early.

While there are lots of great restaurants within a short distance from the hotel, my budgetary and time constraints don’t exactly allow me to be eating out every night. Lucky for me, my room is equipped with this lovely little kitchenette (aka a mini fridge and microwave). I’ve secretly been looking forward to challenging myself to “cooking” in this little space since I found out I’d be coming up here back in June. During my first two years of college, I basically earned a minor in Dorm Room Culinary Arts, so reverting back to the good old days of making do with a few inches of counter space, a tiny cutting board, a mini knife, and a small yet mighty microwave was alluringly nostalgic.


These past two weeks, I’ve been capitalizing on the extreme microwave-ability my all-time favorite food, the sweet potato. A quick rinse in the bathroom sink, a couple of knife pricks in the skin, and a click of the POTATO button and voila!—an instant, vitamin-rich, and filling canvas for whatever your heart desires. For me, that’s been some microwave steamed kale (bought pre-washed and cut, sprinkled with a splash of water, and microwaved for 1 minute), bean salsa (both purchased and homemade), avocado chunks, and a dollop of Greek yogurt or a sprinkle of feta cheese. Delicious, nutritious, satisfying, and all wrought from this humble little space.


I only have a few more days left here, but I’m hoping that future rotations will land me back soon for a welcome change of pace and a healthy bit of a culinary challenge.

So, no real recipe here, just my vote of confidence that you too will be able to make the most of any downsized kitchen space you encounter. And my biggest tip if you find yourself in a similar situation: bring your favorite plate/bowl/silverware from home and a little dish soap and sponge. It makes all the difference in making for homier mealtimes.

market day

Greetings from my first Saturday off since third year began! It’s a beautiful, hot, and sunshiney summer day here—one that lent itself perfectly to spending the morning at the 61st Street Farmers Market.

This wonderful farmers market is a short walk from home and boasts a bounty of ripe fruits and vegetables from Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as delectable homemade pastries, breads, jams, and more. I hadn’t been able to go the market since the beginning of June, and it was just incredible to see how the slim pickings of early summer have given way to a plethora of berries, zucchini, peaches, apricots, and cherries.


Today, I came to the market as more than an eager shopper. I had the great opportunity to be the chef behind the market’s weekly cooking demo. In May, while working on my project about healthy cooking in the community, I learned about the chef demos at the farmers market and thought it would be a neat way to build further connections with community members through cooking. I was unsure whether they’d allow an amateur chef like myself to lead a demo, but I was always taught that it never hurts to ask, and lo and behold, they gave me a slot.

IMG_2014I thought long and hard about what the ideal recipe for the demo would be. I anticipated that by mid-July the weather would be sweltering, people (including myself) would want as little to do with a hot stove or oven as possible, and most importantly, that peaches would just be beginning to ripen. With that in mind, I settled on making Peach and Black Bean Salsa, a take on my family’s beloved mango salsa recipe that embraces the sweet peaches that grace the Midwest in the summer.

photo (2)I had an absolute blast cooking for an audience of people, young and old, expert cooks and cooking novices, who each brought great conversation, energy, and most importantly, willing palates to the demo tent. After spending my last few weekends in the hospital, it was a refreshing change of pace to be out in the community, cooking for people and with people, and celebrating health and wellness in a delicious way.

photo (1)

Peach and Black Bean Salsa

4 peaches, diced

2 tomatoes, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

½ medium red onion, finely diced

2 scallions, finely sliced (green parts only)

1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup cilantro, chopped

Juice of 4 limes

2 tbsp olive oil

¼ tsp ground cumin

Salt to taste (about 1-2 tsp)

Mix all ingredients together. Allow salsa to sit covered in the fridge for at least an hour before serving to allow flavors to meld.

It’s great served alongside grilled chicken or fish, or scooped up with vegetable sticks or chips.

out to lunch

A packed lunch, when done well, is a daymaker. Never has this been more apparent to me than the last few weeks working in the hospital. Mornings start early and run at a harried pace, and most days I am in need of a serious energy boost by lunchtime (whenever in the afternoon lunchtime happens to fall).


I’ve always been a little wary of cafeteria fare and was ever a flag-bearer for the camp of “home lunch” kids in school- my mom or dad sent me to school with a PB&J each day and saved me from a fate worse than mass-produced turkey tetrazzini. Force of habit, my student budget, and the comfort I take in my Sunday evening ritual of preparing food for the week and packing it up in tupperware have made me a home lunch lifer. While I default to PB&J every once in a while, these days I favor substantial salads that are filling interesting enough to keep me from opting for Au Bon Pain by Wednesday. 



Joanna is the queen of such lunch salads and I used her deconstructed dolmades recipe from the archives for last week’s lunch fare. I riffed on that premise today and used this fattoush recipe by which I am totally obsessed as further inspiration. Sumac is everything I have ever wanted in a spice- lemony, fragrant, purple, and slightly bitter- and while it can be tricky to track down, it’s totally worth the hunt. 


1 medium head cauliflower

3T olive oil

Juice and zest of one large lemon

1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed

1 T sumac

¼ t salt


1 c quinoa or other grain, uncooked

½ of a large onion, thinly sliced

1 T oil


½ c sundried tomatoes

Handful walnuts

2 large handfuls spinach (or more)


2 T lemon juice

½ t sumac

1 T fresh chopped herbs (I used sage and mint)

1 T olive oil

Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and combine with 3T oil, zest and juice of one lemon, garlic, 1T sumac, and 1/4t salt in a large bowl. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the cauliflower on it in a single layer. Roast 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times, until the cauliflower begins to brown.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa in a medium saucepan, cover w 2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover, and simmer 12-15 min, until water is absorbed. 

In a medium skillet, caramelize the onions. Heat 1 T oil then add onions. Cook slowly over medium-low heat until golden, at least 20 minutes. 

Make the dressing: place all ingredients in a small jar, put the lid on, and shake to combine. Taste to adjust the flavors. It should be tangy. 

Place spinach, tomatoes, and nuts in a large bowl and add the cauliflower, onions, and quinoa when they’re done cooking.  Toss with dressing. Serve at room temperature or cold.