Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Yogurt Tahini Dressing

This is a great way to show off colorful fall produce like purple and yellow carrots or various hues of cauliflower. The sweet roasted vegetables, smokey spices, and earthy lentils come together with a bright and tangy yogurt tahini dressing for a light meal perfect for when the weather's just starting to cool down.

Lentil and Roasted Vegetable Salad with Yogurt Tahini Dressing
Serves 2

1/4 head cauliflower, broken into bite sized pieces
2 medium carrots, sliced into large chunks
1/2 head fennel, sliced 1/4" thick
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp smokey paprika
1/2 cup dry beluga lentils
1 bay leaf
1 cup mixed greens
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp plain nonfat yogurt, preferably greek
2 tsp tahini
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup shelled pistachios

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cauliflower, carrots, and fennel with olive oil, spices, salt and pepper and spread evening in an oven proof skillet. Roast for about 20 minutes until vegetables are softened and crisp on the edges. Let cool slightly before serving. Meanwhile, fill a small saucepan with lentils, bay leaf and enough water to cover by about 1". Bring to a boil and turn heat down to a low simmer, cover and let cook about 15 minutes until water has been absorbed and lentil are softened. Remove from heat, uncover and let cool slightly.

Combine yogurt, tahini, and lemon juice and whisk until smooth.

On a salad plate, spread lettuce, then top with vegetables and lentils, spoon dressing over top. Finish with chopped pistachios and serve warm.

Southwest Salad with Cornbread Croutons

Warm and crisp from the oven, the croutons on this salad are a delicious way to use up leftover cornbread. Especially if it's started to go a bit stale. And with corn, sweet potatoes, and black beans it's a filling and substantial salad perfect for a light dinner or hearty lunch.

Southwest Salad with Cornbread Croutons

Serves 2

2 tbsp buttermilk
1/2 tsp chopped chipotles in adobe
1/2 tsp honey
1 tsp mayonnaise
1 tsp red wine vinegar

1 small sweet potato
1 tsp olive oil
2/3 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1/3 cup corn kernels, blanched
1 small avocado, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups romaine, chopped, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup cubed cornbread
salt and pepper to taste
sesame seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 400. Cube sweet potato and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes until soft in the middle. Set aside to cool. Meanwhile, combine buttermilk, chipotles, honey, mayonnaise, and vinegar in a large bowl, whisk to combine. Add black beans, tomatoes, corn, avocado, pepper, lettuce, and sweet potatoes, stir to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper. In an oven safe skillet or baking sheet, arrange cubed cornbread in a single layer and place under broiler until just beginning to brown. Remove from oven and top salad with warm cornbread croutons and sesame seeds if using.

Baked Eggs in Ham

For their impressiveness, these are pretty simple. In fact the really hard part is communicating to your deli guy how thick you want the ham to be sliced. I went in with the wrong approach telling him I'd like them a 'little thicker'. To me, this meant not the paper thin slices you'd want piled on a cold sandwich, but you know, something just a little thicker. He started pinching his fingers together somewhere around 1/2 an inch. So, I specified, 'oh no, just like 1/16'. When I give people precise measurements they often give me this look that says you must not know what you're talking about. And then they proceed to make comparisons or hold something up to verify that I actually mean what I said. I really should remember to preface my request with 'I'm an architect so I'm very familiar with rulers and I do know what an inch looks like, no need to show me . . .' So the deli guy asked if the ham should be the thickness of a nickle. To which I replied 'yeah sure', it's close enough. And then I received 2 slabs of ham, a bit chunkier than I would have liked, but still manageable.

Baked Eggs in Ham
Makes 2 Ham Cups

2 1/6" ham slices
4 cherry tomatoes
2 large eggs
1 tsp chopped herbs, such as parsley and chives
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375. In a muffin tin, or similarly sized ramekins, fold ham slice so that it sits inside and forms a cup, repeat with second slice. Break the eggs into each ham cup and top with herbs, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes, then finish under the broiler if white is not yet set. Serve warm from the oven.