Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs

We’re stepping a bit outside the Thanksgiving box today.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.

Because, although not a traditional holiday side dish, this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely worthy of a spot on your holiday table. It’s full of dried cranberries, whole grains, white beans and seasonal fresh herbs like fresh rosemary, sage and thyme and literally is a Thanksgiving explosion in your mouth. You’re going to get this one on the menu STAT.


I’ve been a big fan of grain salads for quite a while now, as evidenced by this Spring Fava Bean and Burrata Grain Salad, this Fresh Corn, Leek and Edamame Grain Salad and this Herbed Grain Salad with Broccoli Rabe and White Beans. I love them because they are filled with a ton of healthy ingredients and filling to boot. The whole grains give them plenty of heft to make them completely suitable as an entire meal, although they are equally delicious (and the portions go a bit further) if you serve them as a side dish among all the other delicious things you typically serve up for a holiday meal.

I’m not joking when I say tell you this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs tastes like your entire Thanksgiving menu in a bowl. Sure, there’s no turkey in there (although you could easily add some and I wouldn’t be one bit upset about it) but just the cranberries and the fresh herbs alone are enough to mentally transport you to arguably the most well-known food holiday of the year. I love allll the fresh herbs, but there’s also just something about fresh sage in a recipe that really screams fall and all the deliciousness that comes with it.

A bowl of this Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is filling enough to be a delicious vegan holiday meal.

As far as making the dish goes, it couldn’t be easier. Not only does it come together fairly quickly (the longest step will be cooking up the grains) but it can also be made in advance and served cold or at room temperature, which means it’s easy to fit into an already busy cooking and kitchen schedule once T-day rolls around.

For the whole grains, I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous because they were what we had on hand, but feel free to use other varieties such as quinoa, barley or even wild rice. I also added in some toasted pine nuts, and I highly recommend you do not skip this step, even if you want to sub in some other type of toasted nut for that little extra crunch. (Pecans? Almonds? So many possibilities.)

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is an easy, make-ahead side dish for the holidays.

I would also like to point out that said Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is completely vegan, which makes it a delicious, healthy, high-protein option for anyone in your group that may have certain dietary preferences. It’s a great way to serve them up some protein and filling flavor without having to bend over backwards making some sort of interesting Tofurkey creation.

Since I was developing recipes so far in advance this holiday season due to our little one’s arrival, I served this up as a side dish at my mother-in-law’s birthday celebration we held down here in Santa Barbara at the beginning of October. Let’s just say my sisters-in-law were already requesting I make it as our contribution to the Thanksgiving meal when we go celebrate with them in a couple of weeks.  I hope you decide to add it to your menu as well!

Serve this vegan Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs as a hearty side dish or light, healthy meal during the holidays.

This Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs is the perfect vegan side dish for Thanksgiving.
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Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs
Prep Time
10 mins
 

This festive vegan side dish is full of filling whole grains, protein-rich white beans and pine nuts, and the freshest herbs of the season. 

Course: Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cooked grains of your choice (I used a combination of farro and Italian couscous)
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern or white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two days before serving.

Cranberry, White Bean and Grain Salad with Fresh Herbs | CaliGirlCooking.com

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup

How about a hearty breakfast to kick off the week?

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is hearty, filling and delicious.

If you’re looking for the perfect dish to change up your morning meal game, this Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is the answer!


If I had to choose to eat just one meal for the rest of my life, it would probably be breakfast. There are just so many possibilities! You can go sweet or savory, carb- or protein-heavy, big or small…pretty much anything goes. And you could say I’ve really run the breakfast recipe gamut here on CGC – posting everything from a Savory Bacon Oatmeal to these Breakfast Banana Splits to these Maca Chia Cocoa Protein Pancakes. I hope you’re not sick of breakfast recipes, because they are just gonna keep on a-comin’.

But really, what we’re here to talk about today is my latest breakfast obsession: this Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup! It’s got the perfect balance of cozy fall flavors while still hanging on to the last few hints of summer, and did I mention it tastes amazing? Seriously, if you haven’t enjoyed polenta loaded with your favorite roasted fruits for breakfast yet, your life is going to change completely as soon as you put a spoonful of this in your mouth.

A bowl of Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is the perfect start to a busy morning.

So here’s the scoop (literally): You’ll want to find some quick-cooking polenta and get a hold of the ripest, juiciest fresh pears and plums you can find. You’ll also need some almond milk, maple syrup and plenty of cinnamon (we’re talking sticks AND ground – no holding back here!)

Quick-cooking polenta is pretty magical in that you can make it in no time at all, so our Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup is totally achievable even on weekday mornings.

While your polenta is cooking (in some glorious unsweetened vanilla almond milk to give it an extra creamy flavor), you’ll want to get your pear and plums sautéing in their delicious bath of browned butter and cinnamon. You’ll also want to be sure you have some toasted slivered almonds on hand –  these babies are the perfect finishing touch and add a nice hit of texture to the rest of the dish.

Oh! And we can’t forget the maple syrup. I know it’s a bit indulgent, but adding some to the polenta as it cooks adds the perfect hint of sweetness to the base of the dish, and I MIGHT also highly recommend drizzling some on top of the assembled dishes when you’re ready to dig in. Can one ever have too much maple syrup as we officially find ourselves celebrating fall in all its glory? I think not.

Whip up some Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup the next time you're looking to change up your breakfast routine.

Speaking of fall and all its glory, I can’t believe it’s already October! Where in the world did September go? I’m continuing to hustle to get some yummy recipes lined up for you while I’m out in maternity leave, but if you have anything specific you’d like to see here on the blog for the holidays, please send suggestions my way!

I hope you all have a wonderful week filled with delicious breakfasts, filling breakfasts like this Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta! Xx

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup | CaliGirlCooking.com
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Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 

This new take on polenta features pears and plums sauteed in cinnamon and brown butter, crunchy toasted almonds and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Course: Breakfast
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking dry polenta
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 plums, thinly sliced
  • 2 pears, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup toasted slivered almonds
Instructions
  1. Combine the water and unsweetened vanilla almond milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the salt, then sprinkle in the dry polenta. Cook according to polenta package directions. Once polenta is almost through cooking, stir in maple syrup. Keep warm.

  2. Place butter and cinnamon stick in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and cook until butter is melted and takes on a golden-brown hue, then add sliced plums and pears and sprinkle on ground cinnamon. Sauté until fruit is soft but not mushy, then remove from heat and take out the cinnamon stick.

  3. Spoon a hearty scoop of the polenta into a bowl, top with sautéed fruit and then sprinkle on toasted almonds. Drizzle on more maple syrup if desired.

Pear and Plum Breakfast Polenta with Maple Syrup | CaliGirlCooking.com

Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette

What’s green and orange and purple all over and tastes perfectly in season?

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect healthy meal for fall, featuring loads of fresh produce and savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas!

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette!


I know it’s not technically fall yet (just a few more days!) but after I took a little trip to the Farmer’s Market this past weekend I just couldn’t resist all of the fall produce I was seeing. Okay, maybe I just became obsessed with the fact that here in Santa Barbara we are deep in the throes of a very short fresh fig season, and I can’t help snatching a bunch of them up whenever I see them because I know they may be gone the next time I head out for groceries.

So yes, this salad stars plenty of fresh figs, but it features so many other fun fall things as well. We’re talking sweet potatoes, pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas) and – wait for it – SAVORY PUMPKIN SPICE CHICKPEAS!! You guys, they’re amazing. Perfectly crispy with all that fun pumpkin spice flavor and then a savory hit of garlic. Even if you don’t make the entire Fall Harvest Chopped Salad, please, please, PLEASE make these savory pumpkin spice chickpeas for a healthy, protein-packed snack. You will not be able to get enough!

Savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas are the perfect addition to a Fall Harvest Chopped Salad.

And can we talk for a minute about chopped salads? I love salads served in this way (i.e. all of the ingredients already chopped up into bite-size pieces) for multiple reasons, mostly because (a) you can get a taste of every single ingredient in each bite and (b) you don’t have to worry about looking like a complete dinosaur with a giant piece of lettuce hanging out of your mouth when you try to take a bite. Easy to eat, full of flavor – that’s my kind of healthy meal!

Usually I like to keep things simple with salads and keep the cooking to a minimum, but since we’re heading into fall I figured you wouldn’t mind just a little bit of oven/stove time to really make some of these flavors pop.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is going to quickly become your go-to nutritious lunch or dinner for the season, and those savory pumpkin spice chickpeas are probably most definitely going to become your new favorite healthy snack.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect light lunch or dinner to usher in the fall season.

So let’s talk about what all exactly needs to go on here to make this salad come to life.

The only oven time required is for roasting both our sweet potatoes and chickpeas, and the good news is that they can be roasted together, at the same oven temperature, for the same amount of time. How convenient is that?

The only other “cooking” required is toasting up our pepitas, because if there’s one thing I learned during my time as a pastry assistant, it’s that you should be toasting your nuts WHENEVER you are adding them to any sort of recipe. It seriously adds so much flavor and is most definitely worth the extra 10 minutes or so of toasting over the stove.

Aside from the roasting and toasting, all this Fall Harvest Chopped Salad requires is a good tossing in a huge bowl and a drizzle of shallot-tinged apple cider vinaigrette. And speaking of vinaigrette, this one couldn’t be easier. You may have noticed from the other salads I have here on the blog (like this Fall Kale Salad with Easy Balsamic Vinaigrette and this Fresh Fig and Burrata Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts) that I like to keep my dressings simple. I feel like you should really let all of the flavors of whatever produce and other goodies you’re using in the dish shine through and not coat it in a blanket of heavy, creamy, or otherwise overwhelming flavor.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette feeds a crowd!

The apple cider vinaigrette we drizzle over this fall-forward salad adds the perfect touch of acidity (with a nice apple-y hint of flavor) while the shallots add an extra dimension to all of the other flavors in the mix. My only caution would be to wait and add the dressing right before serving. Since we’re using regular lettuce (as opposed to a heartier green like kale) it will wilt quickly if you leave it soaking in the dressing for too long.

But that’s it! Having this Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette prepped and ready for dinner tonight is not just a possibility, it’s a necessity!

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect healthy meal or side dish for the busy days of back-to-school.

This Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette is the perfect healthy meal for fall, featuring loads of fresh produce and savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas!
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Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
50 mins
 

This seasonal, healthy salad is full of fresh figs, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds and savory pumpkin spice roasted chickpeas. 

Course: Main Course, Salad
Servings: 4 servings
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
For the savory pumpkin spice chickpeas:
  • 1 15.5 ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
For the roasted sweet potato:
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Other salad ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
  • 8 cups chopped red and green lettuce
  • 6 purple figs, quartered
For the apple cider vinaigrette:
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, toss together all of the chickpea ingredients. Spread mixture over a small jelly roll pan.

  2. In a separate small baking dish, combine all of the roasted sweet potato ingredients.

  3. Place both the chickpeas and the sweet potato in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, open the oven and give the chickpeas a little shake. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until the chickpeas are crunchy and the sweet potatoes are golden brown and fork tender. Remove and let cool while you prep the rest of the salad.

  4. Place the chopped lettuce in a large salad bowl. Add the figs, pumpkin seeds, sweet potato and chickpeas. 

  5. Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a Mason jar. Seal and give a good shake. Drizzle dressing over salad right before serving. 

Fall Harvest Chopped Salad with Apple Cider Vinaigrette | CaliGirlCooking.com

Matcha Macadamia Latte

Today I present to you one of my newest favorite things!

This Matcha Macadamia Latte is an easy alternative to coffee, and so delicious!

Matcha Macadamia Lattes have completely stolen my heart, and I’m not one bit upset about it.


It’s no secret that nut milks have become one of the hottest food trends over the past decade. They’re now mainstream at Starbucks and often the main form of calcium and protein you’ll find in any semi-health conscious person’s kitchen. In fact, you might be hard pressed to find a gallon of regular milk in anyone’s refrigerator these days.

While the hubby and I are certainly not lactose-intolerant, we keep a stash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk on hand as our main “milk” source for two primary reasons: (1) We love adding it to our morning Power Protein Smoothie and (2) It is shelf stable until opened and keeps much longer than regular milk, so we don’t have to worry so much about spoilage.

Almond and cashew milks have proven to be the reigning stars of the nut milk world, but on our trip to Kauai this past July, I ordered a Macadamia Latte and was soooo excited to learn that no, it was not flavored with overly sweet macadamia nut flavored syrup, but it was in fact made with macadamia nut MILK. I knew I had to get my hands on some as soon as we got home, and get my hands on some I did. I found this Milkadamia brand on Amazon, and also discovered that our local, slightly more “upscale” grocery store stocked the same brand.

A Matcha Macadamia Latte made with Milkadamia, available on Amazon!

Since we don’t own an espresso machine (yet), I started out by adding it to my regular ol’ cup of half-caf joe in the morning in lieu of creamer, but I was still craving more of that macadamia flavor. I started brainstorming how I could make my latte without an espresso machine, and remembered that I had a stash of matcha in the pantry alongside a brand new matcha whisk. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with my macadamia nut milk and I had to do it ASAP!

Really, though, this is another “recipe” that could almost not even be called a recipe. We’re talking three ingredients that even the biggest novice in the kitchen could throw together. But it’s way too good not to share! Seriously, get yourself on Amazon right this instant and order the ingredients (and maybe a matcha whisk, because we’re trendy like that) so you can whip up a Matcha Macadamia Latte STAT. You will most definitely not be sorry (and your Instagram feed will look fab as well.)

Whip up this easy Matcha Macadamia Latte with macadamia nut milk, matcha powder and a matcha whisk!

So aside from making Matcha Macadamia Lattes all day every day this weekend, what else have you got planned? We’re taking it easy with a quiet Saturday at home, then we’re headed to Ojai on Sunday for a quick overnight stay – our last little getaway before baby comes! We won’t have too much time there but are trying to squeeze in as much as possible. Any suggestions for what we should do or, more importantly, where we should eat?

Have a great weekend, friends!

This post contains affiliate links. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for continuing to support the brands that make CaliGirl Cooking possible!

This Matcha Macadamia Latte is an easy alternative to coffee, and so delicious!
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Matcha Macadamia Latte
Prep Time
10 mins
 

Your matcha will never be the same when you turn it into a latte with creamy macadamia nut milk and a touch of honey. It's to die for!

Course: Breakfast, Drinks
Servings: 2 lattes
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 12 ounces macadamia nut milk
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • Honey, if desired
Instructions
  1. Heat up milk (either on the stovetop or in the microwave) and then whisk in matcha powder. Divide among two mugs and sweeten with honey, if desired.

Matcha Macadamia Latte | CaliGirlCooking.com

Creamy Mushroom Pâté

Who’s ready for a little decadence?

This Creamy Mushroom Pate is the perfect, easy, vegetarian appetizer for entertaining!

Meeeee!!


We all know that the very beginning of the week is THE worst, so I always try to do a little something special/out of the ordinary to make it seem just a little less, well, depressing. This Creamy Mushroom Pâté is my answer to that this week, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

First off, tell me, have you ever had pâté? If not, you’ve really been missing out. It’s typically made from chicken liver (don’t gag just yet, trust me, I hate “liver” but I love pâté) but it can also be made from any number of things such as beef, pork, ham, seafood and VEGETABLES! Yes, vegetables. You’ll most often find it served alongside a cheese platter and/or plate of charcuterie, and you know these are some of my favorite things, so it’s no surprise that I’ve decided to make my own, healthier version of pâté to share with all of you!

This Creamy Mushroom Pate tastes rich and decadent while it's actually pretty darn healthy. Plus, it's so easy to make!

But before we get to this mouthwateringly delicious Creamy Mushroom Pâté tell me, how was your weekend? We had a nice visit with my mom, and I think we’re slowly starting to get organized and figure out how we’re going to fit another little human into our house in just a couple of months. We have our Infant CPR class tonight and my NorCal Baby Shower this weekend, so things are definitely starting to feel real around these parts! Our weekend up north will be my last trip before my due date, and my goal for when I come home is to get to prepping my blog content for right after Baby D. is born and stock my freezer with lots of yummy food we can heat up at a moment’s notice! (Got any delicious freezer-friendly recipes I should try?)

Speaking of freezer-friendly recipes, now that I think about it, this Creamy Mushroom Pâté might just be one of them! It’s full of savory flavor and incredibly tasty, with very few ingredients and taking under 20 minutes to make. It’s also fairly healthy, as long as you don’t count the butter 😉

A fresh baguette is the perfect accompaniment to this Creamy Mushroom Pate.

(Confession: I originally set out to make this a VEGAN Creamy Mushroom Pâté, but after tasting the mixture sans butter, I decided that’s what it really needed to tie everything together. If you are vegan and have any suggestions of what I could have substituted the butter with, please let me know!)

So here’s what you need to do to have a bowl of Creamy Mushroom Pâté in front of you in no time: You’ll first need to sauté the mushrooms in olive oil with some shallots, garlic, fresh thyme and marsala. Then, once those ingredients are nice and cooked, you’ll transfer them to a food processor to get that creaminess going. Finally, you’ll throw in the butter (while the mixture is still warm) to really seal the deal.

Now that doesn’t sound too difficult, does it?

My best suggestion for serving is to serve as you would any other pâté – with a fresh baguette, some crackers, and perhaps a nice chunk of cheese or two. Oh, and wine! Please don’t forget the wine – and have a glass for me?

This vegetarian Creamy Mushroom Pate is the perfect healthy appetizer for any get-together with friends. Plus, it's healthy!

A fresh baguette is the perfect accompaniment to this Creamy Mushroom Pate.
Print
Creamy Mushroom Pate
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
 

A classic French cheese and charcuterie accompaniment gets a healthy, vegetarian makeover when made with fresh mushrooms and thyme.

Course: Appetizer
Author: CaliGirl Cooking
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 whole shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup dry marsala
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (plus more to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. Warm olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, shallots and garlic and stir to combine, cooking until mushrooms begin to sweat.

  2. Add fresh thyme and marsala and stir to combine. Let cook until mushrooms are nice and sautéed, about 5-7 minutes. Add salt and pepper and stir again to combine.

  3. Transfer mixture to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until a rough purée forms. Cut butter into three separate tablespoons and add to the food processor. Pulse until a creamy (not chunky) purée forms, season with more salt and pepper, if needed.

  4. Transfer to a bowl and serve with baguette, crackers and cheese.

Creamy Mushroom Pate | CaliGirlCooking.com