Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tomatillo Salsa Two Ways: Roasted and Raw


Tomatillos are amazing in raw and roasted salsas--often called salsa verde because of their brilliant green color--but if you tried them side by side, you could easily forget that they're the same ingredient. In the raw salsa, they're tangy and crunchy, providing the perfect textural contrast for black bean soup or simple street tacos. Roasted, tomatillos become smooth, savory and with a hint of smoke. They also thicken due to their natural pectin content, making them a perfect dip for chips or for topping soft cheeses.

Here's a video I created showing how to make each salsa. See below for the complete recipes.


Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Yields 4 cups 

1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
1 yellow onion, sliced in thick rings
1 Anaheim pepper, halved
1/2 serrano pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
Sea salt
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Cut the tomatillos in half. 
  3. Spread the tomatillos, onion, and peppers onto a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the canola oil and season with sea salt. Toss gently to coat in the oil. Roast uncovered for 25 minutes, or until the onion is very soft but not yet browned.
  4. Carefully transfer the roasted vegetables to a blender along with the cilantro and lemon juice. Blend until mostly smooth. Season to taste with sea salt. 
  5. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 

Raw Tomatillo Salsa 

Yields 2 cups


1 pound tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 cup minced red onion
2 green onions, thinly sliced on a bias
1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
Sea salt
  1. Finely dice the tomatillos and place them in a non-reactive bowl.  
  2. Add the red onion, green onion, jalapeno, and lemon juice. 
  3. Season with a generous pinch of sea salt. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the salt to draw moisture from the salsa ingredients. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Chipotle, Orange Grilled Sweet Potatoes


Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it's all about gratitude and good food--two essential components to life.

Here in Southern California, the holiday welcomes new takes on old favorites because the weather is often warm and so many delicious things grow here.

These grilled sweet potatoes are glazed with a simple reduction of freshly squeezed orange juice, maple syrup, and chipotle in adobo sauce. They offer the perfect balance of sour, sweet, spicy, and savory.

The key to grilling sweet potatoes is to steam them first. The moist heat makes them tender, then you can finish them on the grill for smoky flavors and to caramelize the sugars in the root vegetable. Steaming them first also allows you to get a head start on dinner, even a day in advance.


The sauce is simple and inspired by chef Douglas Rodriguez's Latin Flavors on the Grill, a cookbook I scored at my kids' school rummage sale last year. I opted for fresh orange juice because oranges are in season all winter here and I wanted a fresher flavor with less sugar.

Definitely add this healthy, vegan side dish to your Thanksgiving dinner!

Chipotle, Orange Grilled Sweet Potatoes 

Serves 4 


2 pounds sweet potatoes, sliced in 1/2-inch thick slices
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Canola oil
  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a steamer basket set in a large pot with about 1/2 inch of simmering water. Cover and steam for 4 to 5 minutes. They should still be somewhat firm. 
  2. Meanwhile, combine the orange juice, maple syrup, adobo sauce, and sea salt in a small sauce pan. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until reduced by about half. This will take about 10 minutes. 
  3. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. When the grates are hot, brush them with a small amount of canola oil. 
  4. Grill the sweet potatoes for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until they're caramelized but not charred.
  5. Place the sweet potatoes on a serving platter and drizzle the orange, chipotle glaze over them. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information:
163 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber




Monday, October 9, 2017

Roasted Lemon, Pomegranate, and Parsley Salad


I'm in heaven! Pomegranates are in season again in California. They're a fall and winter fruit and the season runs from late September through December. This salad combines the first pomegranates of fall with the last of summer's tomatoes, a generous handful of mint and parsley, sliced red onion, and a pomegranate molasses vinaigrette. The flavors are complex and surprising, and the colors and textures make this a showstopping salad perfect for entertaining.

What really makes the salad are the roasted Meyer lemons. I have a tree growing in my backyard and snagged a couple for this dish. The recipe is adapted from a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, who recommends blanching the lemon slices in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. I have tried it both ways and blanching is an essential, albeit annoying, step to remove the bitterness in the lemon pith.


If opening a pomegranate is intimidating to you, watch my one-minute video on how to remove the seeds from a pomegranate. It's simple, easy, and mostly mess-free.

One further note about the ingredients. Pomegranate molasses is concentrated pomegranate juice. It has a texture very similar to balsamic reduction. In fact, you can use that instead if you have it on hand. To make your own pomegranate molasses, reduce 1 cup of pomegranate juice over medium-low heat in a small sauce pan until it is thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Roasted Lemon, Pomegranate, and Parsley Salad

Serves 4

2 whole lemons, scrubbed and thinly sliced in rounds
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pomegranate, arils removed
2 pints heirloom grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/2 cup roughly chopped mint
1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook the lemon slices for 90 seconds. Remove them and carefully blot dry with paper towels.
  3. Spread the lemon slices on the baking sheet and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes, or until gently browned. 
  4. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, parsley, mint, and red onion on a large platter. Top with the roasted lemon slices.
  5. In a small jar, combine the remaining 3 teaspoons of olive oil with the pomegranate molasses and allspice. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad just before serving. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Farmer's Market Hash with Fried Eggs


One of my favorite breakfasts after a long morning of surfing is this farmer's market breakfast hash. It is loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs and topped with fried eggs. We enjoyed a similar hash at the restaurant Dawn Patrol here in Santa Barbara and it was amazing!

I love its versatility because you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand. Here, I opted for sweet potatoes, white potatoes, broccoli, red pepper, onions, rosemary, basil, and some yellow heirloom tomato, because we had them growing in the garden. Whether you're shopping at a farmer's market, harvesting from your garden, or as is often the case digging through the depths of the produce bin in your refrigerator, this hash is open to endless variations.

If you're using woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme, add them to the vegetables before roasting. If you opt for more delicate herbs such as basil or cilantro, toss them in just before serving to bring out their vibrant flavors.



Farmer's Market Hash with Fried Eggs 

serves 4 



1 russet potato
2 small sweet potatoes
1 small head broccoli
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow onion
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary, or parsley 
4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 large tomato
Large handful fresh basil leaves 
4 eggs 
Sriracha, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 
  2. Scrub the sweet potato and the russet potato with a small brush under running water. Pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. 
  3. Cut the broccoli crown into florets and dice the tender portions of the stem. 
  4. Core the bell pepper, discard seeds and membranes, and cut the flesh into spears. 
  5. Cut away the onion stem. Halve the onion lengthwise, then slice into thick half circles. 
  6. Spread the vegetables and herbs onto the sheet pan and drizzle with 3 tablespoons of the canola oil. Use your hands to toss gently to coat. 
  7. Roast uncovered for 35 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to brown on the bottom and are tender. 
  8. Cut the tomato into 1-inch pieces and spread onto the vegetables. Return the pan to the oven and roast for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the tomato has shrunken somewhat. 
  9. Roll the basil leaves into a tight cylinder and slice with a sharp knife to form a chiffonade. Scatter the basil over the cooked vegetables. 
  10. While the vegetables are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add the remaining tablespoon of canola oil to the pan. Allow it to get hot, about 15 seconds. 
  11. Crack the eggs into the pan, being careful not to break the yolks. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the whites are set and browned around the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  12. To serve, divide the roasted vegetables between serving dishes and top each one with a fried eggs. Serve with Sriracha. 
Note: If you're pretty active, you may want to divide the recipe into just two servings instead of four. 

Nutrition Information:
299 calories, 16g fat, 11g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 6.4g fiber

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Slow-Roasted Barbecue Ribs


I wrote the book Sheet Pan Ketogenic in 2017 and these slow-roasted barbecue ribs were one of my favorite recipes from the book. All of the recipes are low-carb, ketogenic, and, the best part, can be prepared on one pan. It was my second sheet pan book, after writing Sheet Pan Paleo in 2015  and now the sheet pan is one of my favorite pans for cooking. 

In these low-carb barbecue ribs, the long, slow roast in the oven produces tender meat that falls off the bone before it is drenched in a rich, flavorful, low-carb barbecue sauce sweetened with stevia. 

These ribs are perfect for meal prepping and freeze well. I like to pair them with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli for a complete paleo meal. 

As its name implies, the slow roasting takes a couple hours. But, it is so worth it! Plus, it's not active cooking time, so you can prepare them and then enjoy a book or go for a long run or surf while dinner cooks.


Slow-Roasted Barbecue Ribs

Serves 6

For the brine:

¼ cup sea salt
7 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
4 cups ice

For the ribs:

1 rack pork ribs, 2 to 3 pounds, halved
1 tablespoon canola oil (or coconut oil)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)

For the sauce:

¾ cup Barbecue Sauce (see below)
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 scallion, white and green parts

1. To make the brine, dissolve the salt into 1 cup of boiling water. Add 1 bay leaf and a teaspoon of peppercorns. Cool the mixture with 6 additional cups of ice water.
2. Place the ribs into a glass baking dish, meat-side down. Pour the brine over the ribs and place the dish into the refrigerator on the bottom shelf. Cover and brine for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours.
3. To cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 250°F.
4. Remove the ribs from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Coat with the canola oil.
5. Combine the paprika, cumin, onion powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Rub this over the meat.
6. Place the ribs meat-side down on a sheet pan. Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake for 2½ hours.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and remove the foil. Carefully transfer the ribs to a separate dish.
8. Pour ½ cup of the cooking liquid into a blender and discard the rest. Add the Barbecue Sauce, cilantro, and scallion to the blender and puree until smooth.
9. Return the ribs to the sheet pan and pour half of the Barbecue Sauce over them. Return to the oven and roast for another 15 minutes. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.

Nutrition Information: 
Calories 736, 46g protein, 58g fat, 4g carbohydrate, 0.3 g fiber


Barbecue Sauce

This smoky, sweet, and super-savory low-carb barbecue sauce is lightly sweetened with stevia. 

Yields 1/2 cup


1 cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup low-sugar ketchup
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon sea salt
2 to 3 drops liquid stevia

1. Place the apple cider vinegar, ketchup, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, cumin, and sea salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 25 to 30 minutes until reduced to about ¾ cup.
2. Stir in the liquid stevia, adding more to taste.
3. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Information:
Calories 16, 0g protein, 0g fat, 4g carbohydrate, 0.2g fiber 


Monday, July 17, 2017

Grilled Broccolini with Red Chile and Garlic


Grilling season lasts several months in California, so I am always on the lookout for delicious, healthy grilled vegetable recipes. These simple grilled broccolini are my current addiction. They're spicy, smoky, and tender - the ideal complement to grilled salmon or steak. Better yet, you can do most of the prep work ahead of time and then toss them on the grill minutes before serving.

The recipe is adapted from the cookbook Gjelina: Cooking From Venice, California by Travis Lett. I visited the restaurant in 2013 and was undone by how many fresh vegetable recipes they offered. I bought the book last year and have been steadily cooking my way through it. Some of my favorite recipes are Smoky Braised Kale, Baby Radishes with Black Olive & Anchovy Aioli, and Spicy Herb Salad with Ginger-Lime Dressing.

Chef Travis Lett's eternal optimism and passion for food is evident on every page. So too is his appreciation for food in its natural state, something I celebrate on Surf Girl Eats. He writes, "The ingredients themselves are unique expressions of art - more so than anything I could manipulate them into. I am blown away every day by the sheer diversity and quality of the product I have access to in California."

One of my favorite features of the books is that it offers more than 40 recipes for condiments, pickles, and sauces that can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator to liven up basic vegetables and meat. I have made the Harissa, Preserved Lemons, Tomato Confit, Mint-Pomegranate Pesto, and Carrot Top Pesto, and they're exquisite.

Lett's recipe calls for garlic confit, but I have used both fresh garlic and roasted garlic and both are delicious, though roasted garlic is preferable. Also, do not skip the blanching step. It makes the stems deliciously tender, whereas cooking solely with the dry heat of the grill could make them brittle. The recipe would also work beautifully for grilling asparagus.

Grilled Broccolini with Red Chile and Garlic

serves 2 to 4


2 bunches broccolini
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves roasted garlic
generous pinch red chile flake
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
  1. Prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  2. Heat a large pot of salted water over high heat. When boiling, blanche the broccolini for 1 to 2 minutes, until bright green. Quickly transfer the broccolini to the ice-water bath to halt the cooking process. Drain well and set aside until read to grill. This step can be done up to 1 day in advance.
  3. Place the broccolini in a dry bowl and coat with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  4. Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium-high and grill the broccolini for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, being careful not to overcook.
  5. Return the broccolini to the bowl and add the remaining olive oil, garlic, red chile flake, and vinegar. Toss gently to mix. Transfer the broccolini to a serving platter and serve warm.

Nutrition information: 66 calories, 2g protein, 5g fat, 4g carbohydrate, 2g fiber 
(Calculated per serving, four servings total)