Calling to Chit Chat & Allergy-Friendly Potato Salad with Arugula

Just after graduating college, I had the privilege to move to New York City for a job with a brand new health and fitness startup. It was my dream job and my dream city. But it wasn’t as glamorous as it sounds: I took the train from Boston to NYC with two giant suitcases and moved into an illegal AirBnB apartment near Union Square with my new boss and another dude who was working with us (neither of whom I had ever met). The three of us worked out of that apartment with about five other 20-somethings for a whole summer before moving on to a “real” office (and separate living quarters). We spent all of our time together. Most days, we ate ate all of our meals together, worked out together, explored the city together. At one point, my parents were actually worried I was part of a cult rather than just working really hard.

It was one of the most transformative periods of my life. I became a more confident person, a more independent woman, and way more sure of myself. But probably the best thing about that time was the women I worked with and the friendships we were able to build. They’re not the people I talk to every week or even every month, but I know that even if a year goes by I could reach out to them to check in without it being awkward.

Kelli (second from right) and me with our coworkers, Fall 2011

One of those awesome women is Kelli. Kelli is from Wisconsin and was brand new to NYC when we met, just like I was. When she walked into our apartment-slash-office on her first day, I knew pretty quickly we would be friends. She is kind, genuine, sarcastic, and has one of my top-five favorite laughs ever.

A lot has changed since those days, but one thing that definitely hasn’t is how much we both think about food. (And wine. Duh.) In fact, Kelli just started a new blog called Calling to Chit Chat with the whole purpose of getting to talk to people about food. So, naturally, when she asked me to chat for her most recent post about life with food allergies/restrictions, I was more than happy to oblige.

And that brings us to potato salad. Kelli asked me to share some easy ideas for feeding an allergen-conscious crowd, and I immediately thought of this potato salad. I’ve made countless versions of this salad to bring as a side dish to barbecues and dinner parties, and it’s a hit every time. Plus, the recipe is easy, you can make it ahead of time, and the leftovers will keep for a few days.

Allergen-Friendly Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

Warm Potato Salad with Arugula

What you’ll need:

1 lb baby yellow potatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
1/2 container baby arugula
2-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon dijoin mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 teaspoon dry herbs of choice (or 2 tablespoons fresh herbs) — tarragon, thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano would all work!
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper (2-4 turns of a pepper grinder)

What to do:

  1. Start by boiling the potatoes in super salty water. Cook until you can insert a knife into the center of the largest potato and remove it without resistance.
  2. While the potatoes cook, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, mustard, vinegar or lemon juice, herbs, and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Whisk until combined.
  3. When the potatoes are done cooking, drain them in a colander and immediately dump the hot potatoes into the large bowl with the dressing. Use a large spoon to toss the potatoes in the dressing until they are evenly coated.
  4. Taste a potato and adjust seasoning with salt/pepper to your liking.
  5. If you’re serving it immediately, add the arugula, toss to combine, and serve.

    Note: To make ahead, stop at step 4 and store potatoes in a covered dish. Just before serving, add arugula and toss to coat. You may also want to add a bit more dressing, which you can make easily with a quick swirl of olive oil and a sprinkle of vinegar or lemon juice.

Sunday Soup // Red Lentil Coconut-Curry with Spinach

One of my favorite things to do every weekend is cook up a big batch of something delicious to eat for dinner throughout the week. Sometimes it’s tomato sauce, sometimes a pasta or rice bake, but there’s something special about that recipe being soup. Whether it’s French lentil, meaty chili, or something curry-based (like this one!), having my little yellow Dutch oven on the stove top with soup bubbling away makes me feel so cozy.

Red Lentil Coconut-Curry Soup

The best part about soup, though, is its versatility. I never measure — always estimate, and adjust the amounts of spices based on taste (or just what happens to accidentally fall out of the container…).

I got the idea for this coconut red lentil curry soup from this recipe at Sweet Potato Chronicles. For my version, I doubled the ginger and garlic, added a bit more curry, and decided to puree the soup before adding the spinach ribbons for a creamier texture. Enjoy!

A word of advice: Yes, this ingredient list looks intimidatingly long. But I promise, this soup is actually easy to assemble, and took me less than an hour from first chop to first bite.

Red Lentil Coconut-Curry Soup with Spinach

Red Lentil Coconut-Curry SoupServes 6-8

What You’ll Need: 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup tomato paste
5 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 can coconut milk
2 cups red lentils
4 cups fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper, to taste

What to Do:

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a big pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add diced onions and carrots, and sautée until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, ginger, and spices. Stir to combine, and allow it to cook for another 3 minutes (or until fragrant).

Add the tomato paste and stir until evenly distributed.

Pour in the stock, water, and coconut milk. Stir to evenly distribute.

Add lentils. Give everything a good stir and let it simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

Now it’s time to smooth everything out. Remove the pot from the heat and plug in your immersion blender. Blend until completely smooth. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, than blend the soup until smooth in batches in a normal blender.)

Add the lemon juice and taste. Season with enough salt and pepper to satisfy your taste buds.

Time for the greens! Prep your spinach leaves for slicing: Roll a handful of the spinach leaves into a tight bundle. The best way to do this is to lay each leaf on top of each other, and roll up into a tight “cigar.” Next, slice crosswise to make super-thin spinach ribbons.

Separate the spinach ribbons, and add to the pot. Stir until the leaves just wilt.

*Note: If you’d rather, leave out the spinach and top the bowl with spinach ribbons just before serving.