Dani Goes South.


Let's Eat Outside Pt. 1: Veggie Mezze Platter with Kebabs, the Creamiest Beet Hummus, Garlicky Yogurt Dip, and Roasted / Raw Crudites

Appetizers, DinnersDani ColombattoComment
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Hey, hey, and a happy hump day to you! I hope this week is treating you like a chivalrous date. On my end of things, I just returned from a fun, spontaneous weekend trip back home to San Clemente. My sweet angel of an aunt and cousin surprised my sister, niece, & I with tickets- seriously, what gems! We arrived Friday, and had a little family dinner at my uncle and aunt's house. Those of you who watched my stories got to see the epic toddler dance party that took place, which, by the way, made me feel SO out of touch with top 100 music. Like, I couldn't tell you who's a Bieber, Gomez, or Lovato if my life depended on it. I digress... My dad's side of the family is relatively small, and we've always been super close, usually living about a 30 minute drive from each other for most of our lives. My sister and I were lucky enough to grow up with cousins who felt more like siblings. As we've gotten older not only is it so cool that things always feel exactly the same, no matter how much time has passed, but now we get to watch my sister and cousins do the same with their little kids. Life sure is wild. 

Speaking of family gatherings, every time the weather starts to turn I can't help but think of being outside- particularly, cooking and eating outside. Whether I'm back in California, at my parents' in Idaho, or home in Austin, eating outside is just such a prominent source of happiness in my life. Honestly, what is better than a strong cocktail and sharing some small plates on a warm night? Kind of nothing, if you're asking me. I thought it would be fun to share a few ideas for portable dishes to make and take with you to eat somewhere pretty with someone you love. What better way to start than with an appetizer situation that doubles as dinner? Options are LyFe. Since we're keeping things light and springy, I thought we'd go veggie for our first little soiree, and celebrate some of the best of what's in season now, starting with the creamiest beet hummus. Veggie kebabs, garlicky yogurt, baked feta, lavash, and roasted and raw crudites make for perfect mix and match snacking. In fact, if someone could teleport one of these platters to me now, that would be amazing. Let's get into it. 

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Preheat your oven to 400F, and add your skewers to a dish filled with water. This keeps them from burning while cooking. Cut your mushrooms, bell peppers, onion, and zucchini for your kebabs. Whisk together your red wine vinegar, lemon juice, dried oregano, grated garlic clove, and salt and pepper. Skewer your veggies, alternating them as you wish, and add them to a large freezer bag, along with your marinade. Reserve in the fridge. 

Peel your beets, and season them with a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, plus one teaspoon oregano. Roast for 30 minutes, and set aside to cool. At this point, if you want to add roasted potatoes, baked feta, or roasted tomatoes, add them to a large baking sheet in order of cooking (see above), and once done, lower your oven to 375F. 

Drain and thoroughly rinse your chickpeas, and grab a medium bowl. This portion of the program may seem a bit fussy, but I promise that the pickiness is worth the payoff, because it delivers literally the creamiest hummus ever. Individually peel each of your chickpeas, discarding the skin in the sink, and transferring your peeled chickpea to your bowl. Sounds annoying, yes, but it only takes 10 minutes. Just pinch the chickpea, in one motion, toward the bottom of the chickpea, and the skin will pop right off. In a small saucepan, add your chickpeas, and cover with water. Boil until liquid reduces by 2/3, and drain the chickpeas, reserving about 3-4 tsp of the cooking liquid. 

To the bowl of a food processor, add your beets, with a healthy drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of salt, and a squeeze of lemon, and run the machine for 1 minute, pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl throughout. Once totally smooth, add your tahini, the juice of 1 lemon, your 2 minced garlic cloves, and puree for 1 minute more. Scrape down the bowl, add your chickpeas, plus 3 teaspoons of your cooking liquid, plus a pinch of salt, and a dash of cumin. Run the machine for about 30 seconds, then slowly drizzle in your olive oil to your desired consistency, and puree until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and if necessary, season with more salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Add to a bowl, and drizzle with olive oil, and add a generous sprinkle each of parsley, lemon zest, and sesame seeds. Cover, and add to the refrigerator until you're ready to serve.

Bake your kebabs for 25 minutes at 375F, and make your garlic Za'atar yogurt. Combine your yogurt, lemon juice + zest, garlic, Za'atar seasoning, and parsley in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Cover, and reserve in refrigerator with your hummus until you're ready to serve. 

Serve your kebabs, hummus, and garlic yogurt with any vehicle you wish, but some seriously delicious options are toasted lavash bread, roasted baby potatoes and tomatoes on the vine, raw crudites, and baked feta (instructions for all below).

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Who else is craving some outside BBQ's and days spent near the water? After this weekend, I'm more ready than ever. Part 2 of this little 3 part eating outside series will be here on Friday- hope to see you there, cold beverage in hand. 

DIY Mezze Platter with Vegetarian Kebabs, the Creamiest Beet Hummus, Roasted + Raw Crudites & Garlic Za'atar Yogurt

For the Beet Hummus

3 beets, peeled and cut into 1" chunks

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, skins removed

Zest + juice of one lemon

1/3 cup tahini

2 large garlic cloves, smashed and finely minced

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to top

2 tbs freshly minced parsley to top

1 tbs. sesame seeds to top

Salt & pepper to taste

For the Vegetarian Kebabs

12 baby bell peppers, halved, seeds and membrane removed

3 zucchini, cut into 1/2" thick slices

1 red onion, cut into 2" pieces

10 baby portobello mushrooms, halved or quartered, depending how large they are  

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Juice of 1/2 a lemon + zest of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1 garlic clove, grated

Salt & pepper to taste

For the Garlic Za'atar Yogurt:

2 1/4 cups plain yogurt

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 tablespoon Za'atar seasoning

2 tsp finely chopped parsley

Salt & pepper to taste

Options to Serve:

Assorted raw crudites, such as sliced English cucumber, rainbow carrots,

snap peas, green onions.

Roasted baby potatoes (2 cups baby potatoes seasoned with salt, pepper, rosemary,

& olive oil roasted at 400F for 20 minutes)

Roasted cherry tomatoes on the vine (Seasoned with olive oil, salt, & pepper, & roasted

at 400F for 15 minutes)

Baked feta (Drizzle with olive oil, a sprinkle of dried oregano, and a few cracks black pepper,

& bake for 20 minutes at 400F)

Lavash bread, toasted

Props C/O Urban Outfitters

Chicken Enchilada Huevos Rancheros With Garlicky, Crispy Kale

BreakfastsDani ColombattoComment
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My favorite weekend sports include farmer's markets, thrifting, and BRUNCH. Benedicts, Bloody Marys, pancakes, burgers, salads, and champagne all living in one place?! It's just everything I want to welcome all the weekend feelings. My parents, too, are big on brunch, and really, it's one of the more important lessons that's been instilled in my life. Ease into your day, have that coffee, watch that tacky morning show for a few, and then when you feel like it, get moving in the kitchen. There are SO many things I love about this dish. First of all, the components are partially make ahead, and what isn't make ahead, is thrown together so fast. Secondly, when I wake up on a weekend morning, possibly after a couple cocktails the night before, all I want is a big 'ol breakfast burrito (preferably teleported from San Diego. Honestly, tacos and sushi are the only two things I've been disappointed in since moving here, and I would LOVE suggestions, if anyone has them!). 

This riff on huevos is inspired by my parents, but with my addition of the chicken and crispy kale. When I told my mom I was making this, her exact reaction was: "Oh my god that sounds so good... Wait, doesn't it weird you out eating the parent and the child together?" Well, when you put it like that...still no. It's delicious, and it all starts with our foundation: the beans. 

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These beans are super simple, versatile, and will definitely provide you with enough leftovers for burrito bowls, or even more tacos. I love things that are both cheap as hell, and last you multiple days. Of course, if you're in a real time pinch, you could always go with some refried, but it really is so easy and worth it to make your own.

Soak 1 cup dry pinto beans overnight in water. In the morning, drain them, and rinse them really well under cold water. Add them to a large bowl, and pick out any beans that look worse for the wear, shriveled up, etc. To a pot (I used a 2 quart dutch oven), add your beans, 1/4 of a yellow onion, 3 smashed garlic cloves, and 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, garlic powder, and oregano, plus 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper. Cover 2 inches above beans with 1/2 water, 1/2 chicken or vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. If you salt your beans at this stage, they will get tough, so wait until the end of cooking to taste and season with salt, and pepper. Once you bring your beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer covered for about 1 hour. When the beans are done, season with salt and pepper, and mash until desired consistency is reached. Set aside. 

Season 3 chicken breasts with salt, pepper, cumin, chile, and garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a 350F oven for about 25 minutes, or until internal temperature registers 160F. Cover with foil and set aside. Keep your oven on.

Remove the leaves of roughly 4 stalks of kale(I used curly-leaf, but you can use Tuscan as well, or whatever you happen to have). Add to a large sheetpan, and drizzle very lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Add to your oven and bake for 7 minutes,  remove from the oven, and add one grated garlic clove, and toss. Return to oven, and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes. Lower your oven to 200F and make your sauce. 

If you purchased good-to-go enchilada sauce, simply heat and you're ready! In this application, I went with something that kiiiiiinda makes me cringe, but it was super satisfying, and made life easier. I'm talking, McCormick enchilada sauce seasoning, ya'll! Haha. How 90's am I? You simply add to a saucepan with tomato sauce, and a splash of water as well, and cook on medium-low for about 5 minutes. I would love to put the time and heart into a delicious enchilada sauce for enchiladas, but in this application, it's like 8 am and I'm in my jammies, so I'm not trying to simmer ancho chiles for days. Ya feel me?

While your chicken is resting, and kale and sauce and working away, time to put a little fry on our tortillas. In a large skillet add a scant amount of vegetable oil, and heat on medium-high. Cook your tortillas one by one, resting on a bed of paper towels to drain excess oil, when finished cooking. Wrap your tortillas in foil, add to your warm oven until you're ready to assemble. Now that your chicken is done resting, shred it, add a spoonful of your enchilada sauce, and toss together re-cover with foil. Cook your eggs as desired. 

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I'm always camp runny-yolk. It just adds such a luxurious component to this dish, but they are equally delicious with scrambled (especially if you fold in a little extra cotija and cilantro at the end of cooking). 

To assemble your huevos, first, add a layer of your beans across a foundation of two tortillas. Add a swipe of your enchilada sauce, and your shredded chicken. Add your garlicky, crispy, kale, your egg(s), avocado, cotija, cilantro, diced onion, sour cream, and more enchilada sauce, if desired. Serve with lime wedges. 

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I sincerely hope you squeeze these in this weekend for brunch-  preferably, with a Bloody Mary or a crisp beer. I, most definitely will be fitting these bad boys in along with my other weekend plans of loooots of editing, and crying at This is Us, while eating Superbowl food after the Superbowl. 

Chicken Enchilada Huevos Rancheros

(Serves 6)

3 chicken breasts

Corn tortillas

1/2 an onion, to garnish

1/2 bunch cilantro, to garnish

1 bunch kale

1 garlic clove, grated

Enchilada sauce, to serve

Sour cream, to serve

Cotija cheese, to serve

Lime wedges, to serve

For the Beans

1 cup dry pinto beans

1/4 yellow onion

3 smashed garlic cloves

1 bay leaf

1 tsp Ground cumin

1 tsp Ground chipotle pepper

1 tsp Ground dried oregano

1 tsp Garlic powder

Equal parts chicken stock and water to cover the beans

Salt and pepper, to season when done cooking