When Molly was up for showing me how she makes homemade lasagna noodles rolled entirely by hand I was pumped. I can’t eat them but, man was I happy to shoot her making these beauties (and housing all the layers between noodles)! This lasagna was a BIG hit in our houses. It’s chock full of flavorful vegetables and the perfect satisfying dish for any meatless Monday (or wednesday, or thursday…). I actually think I like it better than it’s meaty cousin. GASP! Shhhh don’t tell, snitches get stitches!

Molly’s artisanal noodle making was so very beautiful to shoot that I’ve included more images than usual to take ya’ll on the “maker’s” journey with us. Kick back and enjoy because there’s plenty of work to come when you make and roll your own lasagna noodles the old-fashioned way;) You can do it! Let’s see those muscles!

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman kneading dough to make pasta.

Woman pulling and flipped fresh rolled pasta dough.

Woman cutting freahly made lasagna noodles.

Sauteed pan of vegetables including squashes, onion and tomatoes.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman spooning vegetable sauce.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

  • 3 c.+ All purpose flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tbsp of warm water
~ Form a volcano shape with the flour and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
~ Crack eggs into the well of the flour.
~ Using a fork begin to beat the eggs and slowly draw in the flour the combine. As the dough starts to come together, use your hands to knead. Add warm water or more flour to get a tacky, yet firm consistency.
~ Let the dough rest for 1 hour. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Using a rolling pin roll (or a pasta maker if you have one!) out each ball like your life depends on! Roll the dough to approximately 1/8 of an inch or thinner.
~ Use a paring knife to cut each sheet into 3-4 inch strips. Each sheet will yield 3-4 strips. Lay the strips out flat to dry while make the ragu and herbed cheese fillings.
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 1 Green Zucchini
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • 1/4 c. light dry red wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Chop all of the fresh veggies into bite size pieces. For the squash and zucchini quarter then slice.
~ Heat olive oil to a large skillet at medium heat. combine squash, zucchini, peppers, and onion to skillet. Saute for 5-7 minutes until all of the veggies begin to soften.
~ Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
~ Add in tomatoes and red wine. Let the mixture cook down stirring occasionally to break up whole tomatoes. Season with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for another 30 minutes.
  • 1 container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • Fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and stir well add more pepper and herbs to your liking.
Layering and baking: 
~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~ Use an 11X13 baking dish to layer the lasagna in. Coat the bottom of the pan with the veggie mixture and then lay down the first layer of pasta. Add a thicker layer of the veggie mixture on top of the pasta and then dot with tsp. size spoonfuls of the HERBED cheese mixture. Layer again with pasta and repeat. You should have enough pasta and filling for four layers.
~ After the last layer of pasta, add the last of the veggies and cheese plus shredded bits of mozzarella cheese, more herbs, and pepper. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden! Let it cool for 10-15 minutes for serving. Voila : )
 Homemade vegetable lasagna with handmade noodles.

Holiday dishes tend to be a bit of an epic battle for oven time, don’t they? Turkey, ham, endless casseroles and on on on. They all need their time in the oven, often at different temperatures of course, then need even more time for a reheat before dinner. If you don’t have an enormous commercial kitchen, this can present quite a problem. That’s why we always have some cold, delicious, crisp veggie dish waiting in the fridge that can be made the night before to take some of the pressure off.

These beautiful beans are a crisp and flavorful contrast to the heavy fare of the holidays. I’ve actually converted many a veggie-hating party goer with these beans. They are delicious!!


  • 1/3 cup minced shallots (~1 shallot)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar (thin, not thick aged)
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 2 pounds trimmed slender green beans (such as haricots verts)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds

~ Toast almonds at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes. Keep a close eye as they burn quickly.

~ Whisk first 8 ingredients in small bowl. Mix in dried cherries; set aside.

         DO AHEAD: Vinaigrette can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature; re-whisk before using.

~ Fill large bowl/ half of sink with water and ice; set aside. Cook green beans in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain. Transfer to ice water; cool. Drain.

        DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in paper towels; enclose in resealable plastic bag and chill. Let stand
            at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

~Toss green beans, almonds, and vinaigrette in large bowl.

        DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Transfer to platter and serve.


I’ve been obsessed with these kinds of salads for many years, but it was just one of those things I left to the Vietnamese pros and never tried to make myself. Any recipe I’d see for one of these salads seemed to have way too many ingredients that I simply don’t keep in stock. I’m sorry, is my lazy showing? Well with the flames of summer licking at my heels I decided to suck it up and give it a go. It seems like a lot of ingredients at first but once you make it  you realize it’s fairly quick and easy. This recipe also lends itself to being prepared in advance and thrown together or even stored in containers and brought to work. It’s definitely a good healthy boost for a busy day and a great choice for a summer dinner with friends when you’d rather socialize than be stuck in a hot kitchen.

The beauty of vietnamese noodle salad, aside from being cool and refreshing, is the delightful collision of taste and textures. Sweet, sour, spice. Crunch, chew, crisp. A stimulating array of shapes and colors (it doesn’t take a food photographer to appreciate these good looks;). It’s an all around sensory experience. Find an asian market in your area and get chopping;) You’ll be glad you did when it’s 100+ degrees and your too heat-tired to move!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013


  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce (ie. nuoc mam)
  • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 thai chili or small jalapeno (seed the jalapeno), finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground star anise
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • tiny pinch cayenne pepper


  • 1-2 shallots, sliced into thin cross-sections rings separated
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • sea salt
  • 1/2 pound bean thread noodles
  • 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • 3 persian cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1 cup broccoli stalks, sliced into matchsticks (I buy pre-cut from trader joes–can substitute cabbage)
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced into matchsticks (also buy pre-cut)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup mint, chopped
  • 1/2 cup thai (or cinnamon) basil, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

~ Mix all dressing ingredients together and whisk thoroughly. Can be made in advance and stored for several days in the refrigerator.

~ Heat coconut oil in a small saucepan and fry shallot in oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they burn quickly. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel on a plate. Reserve shallot infused oil for another use. Let cool then sprinkle with sea salt.

~ Prepare noodles according to package directions. For the noodle width in this photograph, cover noodles with boiling water for 15+ minutes or so until tender but not mushy. Strain noodles and coat with coconut oil to prevent sticking. Can also be prepared in advance and stored in refrigerator for several days.

~ Combine remaining ingredients (all the veggies and herbs) except the peanuts in a large bowl. Pour dressing over and toss to coat. Add noodles and toss again. Top with the peanuts and enjoy!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I was at the farmers’ market this weekend when a woman said “Oh my gosh I just love these!” out of the blue. I looked at her because I was the only person in earshot of her exclamation and saw her holding up some cute little root veggies with tops that resembled mustard greens. “What are they?”, I asked. She told me they were baby turnips, much cuter than grown-up turnips for sure, and they were delicious. So needless to say I bought a bunch, or two or three! 😉 Though the green tops may look mustard-y, their flavor is much more mild and they are very tasty pan sauteed with a bit of butter and salt and served with these roasted nuggets of yum! These little suckers are sooooo stinkin’ delicious with a mustard vinaigrette. I already had mustard on my brain so I went with it.

Easy, healthy, delicious…does it get any better?!

all rights reserved Crysatl Cartier 2013

  • 1 bunch baby turnips (about 6 or so)
  • 1 clove garlic, slivered
  • 1 teaspoon seedy whole-grain mustard
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon parlsey, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a baking dish inside. In a bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, scallion parsley and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

~ Cut turnips in half lengthwise through the stems. Toss with remaining 1/8 cup olive oil, slivered garlic and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on the preheated baking dish and roast for 20 minutes or so until tender, turning halfway through.

~ Toss turnips with vinaigrette.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

Artichoke season is here! A stroll through the farmers’ market celebrates the delightfully bizarre prickly treat of the globe artichoke. As much as I love ordering just about anything from a restaurant that includes artichoke, I must admit to being slightly intimidated by them in my own kitchen.  So, in an effort to demystify the artichoke, I made a delicious and simple braised dish that’s easy and delightful.

So pick up a gorgeous globe artichoke (or 4) and try this little recipe. Pair with pasta or white fish for a special seasonal meal.

I had loads of fun shooting still life shots of these pretty little thistles as you may notice…

all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012
all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

  • 4 medium artichokes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons smashed garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 lemon sliced horizontally
  • Small pinch ground pepper OR a tiny pinch of red pepper flakes for kick;)

~ Mix the olive oil, wine/stock, lemon juice, thyme, garlic, salt, lemons slices, and pepper/ red pepper flakes in a medium dutch oven or oven-safe pan.

~ Trim the top of each artichoke. Snip the tip off each leaf. Cut the artichoke in half and scoop out the fuzzy choke with a spoon.

~ Immediately put artichokes in dutch oven as you cut them and thoroughly coat them with the marinade. Cover and cook in oven at 400 degrees for about an hour or until fork tender.

~ Plate and drizzle with marinade. Crumble feta cheese on top and serve.

all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

all right reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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