Spa Day Afternoon
It’s a sweet thing, that post- spa getaway calm. You feel healthy and clean, spoiled by nutritious cuisine and a more spacious pace; a nurtured state of mind pervades. We couldn’t wait to get home and share our favorite light eats with our girlfriends over a Spa Ojai-inspired lunch.
Greet your girls with this substantially tasty Mediterranean spread. Inspired by the tasty tapas at Ojai’s Azu, we combined a few of our favorite chickpea recipes for a spread that gets its abundance of tender flavor from an involved but worthwhile slow cooking process.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked overnight
- 10 whole garlic cloves
- 1 ounce pancetta, diced
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, cut in half
- 1/2 medium carrot, cut in half
- 1/2 celery rib, cut in half
- 3 sage leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 dried chile
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing and drizzling
Set oven to 350°.
On the stovetop, combine the soaked chickpeas, garlic cloves, pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, sage, bay leaf, chile, salt, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 8 cups of water in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir. Cover and bake for about 2 hours, until the chickpeas are tender. Remove from heat. Uncover and let the chickpeas cool for about 1 hour.
Reserve ½ cup of cooking liquid. Drain chickpeas. Discard all other ingredients except the garlic. Transfer the chickpeas and garlic to a blender. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil and the reserved cooking liquid and puree until smooth.
Arrange on a platter with your choice of crudite, pita, baguette or even parmesan crisps.
May We Suggest…
Equal parts hearty and healthy, these dishes will fill your belly while keeping you light on your feet. Have fun with the salad and feel free to throw your favorite seasonal veggies on the grill. Inspired by the irresistably refreshing fare at Spa Ojai’s Café Verde.
Cool Cucumber Soup
- 2 1/2 pounds ripe yellow tomatoes
- 3 Persian cucumbers or 1 hothouse cucumber
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and cut in half
- 4 cilantro sprigs, plus 12 cilantro leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons diced red or orange sweet pepper
- 3 tablespoons diced red onion
- 18 small cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- Super-good extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Blanch the yellow tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water for a few minutes. Use your fingers to slip off their skins. Remove the cores and coarsely chop the tomatoes, saving all of the juice. Reserve the ice water.
Seed and dice 3 tablespoons of unpeeled cucumber, as prettily as you can manage, for the garnish. Peel and coarsely chop the remaining cucumbers.
Place half of the yellow tomatoes, the coarsely chopped cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, garlic, vinegar and olive oil in a blender with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and some pepper. Process at the lowest speed until broken down. Turn the speed up to high and puree until the soup is completely smooth. If the soup is too thick, add a little of the reserved ice water. Strain the soup through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Taste for seasoning. Repeat with the rest of the soup ingredients. Chill the soup in the refrigerator until it’s very cold.
Toss the diced sweet pepper, onion and cucumber together in a small bowl. Pour the gazpacho into 6 chilled soup bowls and scatter the pepper mixture over the soup. Season the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper and place 6 cherry tomato halves and 2 cilantro leaves at the center of each bowl. Finish each soup with a drizzle of super-good olive oil. To serve family-style, place the soup in a chilled tureen or pretty pitcher and garnish with the cherry tomato halves and cilantro; pass the diced vegetables on the side.
Grilled Chicken & Vegetable Salad
- 2 ripe avocados
- 6 zucchini, washed and sliced in strips for grilling
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1-2 orange bell peppers, cut into thick strips
- 1 pint baby heirloom, cherry or 100 tomatoes, rinsed and halved
- 4 boneless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs.)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Block of feta in brine, chopped (you’ll use about 6 oz.)
- 4 small heads living lettuce, cut into strips (Alternatively, you can use 2 large heads romaine)
- 4 limes (no bottled stuff)
- Balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper, freshly ground
Heat grill pan or grill over medium heat.
For the dressing: combine ¼ cup balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 2 limes). Whisk in ½ cup olive oil to emulsify. Still whisking, sprinkle in salt and pepper to your liking. Set aside.
Set chicken breasts and chopped veggies on a large plate or baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper.
Grill vegetables and chicken until grill marks appear and chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, add lettuce and feta to a large salad or serving bowl.
Dice avocados and add to bowl. Quarter remaining 2 limes.
Chop chicken and grilled vegetables. Add to bowl along with vinaigrette and toss all ingredients together.
Serve warm with lime wedges.
May We Suggest…
SIMPLE FRENCH SALAD BOWL
OJAI POTTERY SALAD BOWL
BRAID SERVING SET
FRENCH CERAMIC SALAD BOWL
OLIVEWOOD SALAD HANDS
LARGE SALAD SPINNER
The legendary strawberry shortcake at Boccali’s is a deliciously necessary indulgence for any Ojai visitor. Using KNEAD Baking Company‘s wholesome granola as our foundation, we had a lot of fun coming up with a healthier riff on this “feels like summer” classic.
Strawberry Shortcake Parfaits
- 3 cups Greek yogurt or any rich, full fat yogurt (we used Noosa Yoghurt – Honey flavor)
- 3 cups sliced strawberries, macerated
- 3 cups gluten-free, homemade granola
- 4 springs fresh mint
- roll of twine (optional)
For the strawberries:
- 3 cups ripe strawberries
- 1 teaspoon raw cane sugar
Hull and slice strawberries into quarters and place in a bowl.
Sprinkle with sugar and stir until sugar is evenly combined. Cover and place in refrigerator while you prepare the granola. Strawberries will macerate and almost form a strawberry “sauce” for your parfaits.
For the granola:
- 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (we used gluten-free oats)
- 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds: a combination of chopped pecans, almonds, cashews, walnuts, and sesame seeds, etc.
- 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
Heat the oven to 350°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut and orange zest.
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm the honey or maple syrup for 1 minute. Add the salt and cinnamon and stir until combined. Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss with a large spoon until evenly coated.
Spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes or a little longer, stirring occasionally. The mixture should brown evenly; the browner it gets without burning, the crunchier the granola will be.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a rack, stirring once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely.
To assemble the parfaits:
Line four 8 oz. mason jars (or other small glass cup) in a row. Begin by adding 2 tablespoons of granola to each jar. Scoop 2 tablespoons of yogurt on top of the granola in each jar. Then add 2 tablespoons of strawberries. Repeat this process until each jar is full. Top with strawberries and a sprig of mint. Tie a piece of decorative twine around the mouth of the mason jar.
May We Suggest…