The Food Column: Rebecca Lando's working-class style recipes yield high-class eating

The title of her new cookbook pretty much sums it up: "The Working Class Foodies Cookbook."

Pittsburgh native Rebecca Lando captures the frustrations of many a working stiff: The foodie world sometimes seems too darn expensive. But she maintains it's possible to eat well on a budget.

She'll be back in Pittsburgh to do cooking demos from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Farmers@Firehouse farmers market in the Strip District. She'll also sign copies of her cookbook, which is sold at Mon Aimee Chocolat in the Strip.

Ms. Lando was born in Shadyside, but her family lived in Fox Chapel when she was in elementary school and early middle school. They moved again to Florida when she was in sixth grade. Her adult life has been spent largely in New York City and more recently in Southern California.

When she and her boyfriend, Kit Pennebaker, were living in an "awful, tiny apartment on the Upper East Side" of New York City, their neighborhood had only "expensive grocery stores that sold crappy food."

So they started frequenting farmers markets, where they found better food at better prices.

She already had adopted the farmers market habit while in college at New York University, where a farmers market set up shop right outside her dorm four days a week.

When her working friends complained about food prices, she began spreading her love of farmers markets. The couple first made their promotion of local food sourcing official through a food blog (

But after a full day of work, going to the gym, shopping, cooking, eating and doing the dishes, they were too tired to write intelligently about what they had just cooked. They still update the blog occasionally but not often.

Mr. Pennebaker, a cinematographer, instead began filming their cooking escapades.

Those film clips eventually morphed into "Working Class Foodies," a YouTube cooking show that was a bit ahead of its time.

"This was late 2008 and early 2009, when there weren't really any good Web cooking shows," Ms. Lando explained. "There were just clips where people put a webcam over a bowl and you could barely see what they were doing."

The couple moved to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago for her job as network director for YouTube's Nerdist Channel. They developed "The Working Class Foodies Cookbook" together, with her doing the writing and him the photography.

The recipes include some of everything: appetizers, soups, salads, sides, main dishes, breakfasts, pizzas, desserts. Her favorite is Kale and Quinoa Salad with Roasted Tomatoes (see recipe).

She's looking forward to her visit to Pittsburgh, which she still considers a home of sorts, even though she's been gone for so long.

In the intro to her cookbook's ketchup recipe, she writes, "Look, guys. I'm from Pittsburgh -- the home of Heinz. To me, ketchup is the 57 blend, no substitutions allowed."

Spoken like a true Pittsburgher.

Festivals and such

Garfield Night Market: The occasional pop-up market features vendors, art, food and more. 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, on North Pacific Avenue between Penn and Dearborn in Garfield. For info and a list of vendors:

Original Feast from the East: Mediterranean foods including lamb kebabs, marinated chicken, grape leaves, kibbee, baklava, nut rolls and more. Noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 4 and 5, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at St. George Orthodox Church in Bridgeville. 412-221-2277 or

Rocktoberfest: Live music, craft beer and activities. Noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 12 at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. Free admission; $20 for beer tastings. Open to ages 21 and up only. 1-866-344-6957 or

St. John Bazaar and Food Fair: Pierogies and other ethnic food, plus flea market and bake sale. 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 12 and 9 a.m. to noon Oct. 13 at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church, South Side.

Pumpkin Fest: Hayrides to the pumpkin patch, corn maze, face painting, duck pond, animal park, refreshments and more. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 27 at Renshaw Family Farms in Freeport.

Charity benefits

Lawrenceville Gourmet Spaghetti Dinner: Meal, silent auction, raffles, music. 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, at Teamster Temple, 4701 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $12; proceeds benefit Bernard Dog Run, a community-based dog park.

Celebration of Caring: Dinner, dancing and music to benefit Northside Common Ministries' food pantry and homeless shelter. 6 to 9:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at The Priory, North Side. $75 per person. 412-323-1163.

Pink Ribbon Bagels: For the month of October, local Paneras will sell pink-ribbon-shaped bagels featuring cherry chips, dried cherries, cranberries, vanilla, honey and brown sugar. Local sales benefit Magee-Womens Hospital, the Young Women's Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation, and the Cancer Caring Center. To preorder, go to

Kale and quinoa salad with roasted tomatoes

PG tested

Ms. Lando prepares this salad on YouTube.

-- Rebecca Sodergren

For the salad

  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes

  • Olive oil for drizzling

  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 3/4 cup red quinoa, rinsed and drained

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 2 bunches lacinato kale

For the dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • Fine sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Make the dressing: Combine the garlic, salt, and lemon juice and zest in the bowl of a food processor. Blend in the olive oil and cheese in turns. Blend in the crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper; taste and adjust. Place in refrigerator while prepping the rest of the salad.

Make the salad: Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Rinse and gently dry the cherry tomatoes between two clean dishcloths and halve them. Line the preheated baking sheet with aluminum foil and arrange the tomatoes on it in an even layer. Drizzle generously with oil, salt and pepper and toss gently to coat tomatoes evenly. Rearrange tomatoes so they are cut-side-up and roast in oven for 20 to 30 minutes until they've released their juices and edges are browned.

Place quinoa in a small saucepan. Add water and a generous pinch of salt. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until quinoa has bloomed and absorbed the water. Fluff quinoa with a fork and set aside.

Remove kale leaves from thick stems and discard stems or use for stock. Tear or chop leaves and thinner ribs into bite-size pieces. Submerge kale in a large bowl of cold water and move it around to shake off dirt. Drain and repeat until there is no dirt in the bowl. Drain kale and dry thoroughly in a salad spinner. Put kale in large serving bowl.

Using hands, toss and massage about half of the dressing into the kale. Add quinoa and fluff it into the kale with 2 forks or wooden spoons. When kale and quinoa are well mixed, gently fold in half of the tomatoes and the rest of the dressing. Top with the rest of the tomatoes and their juices and serve.

Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish or 4 to 6 as a side.

-- "The Working Class Foodies Cookbook: 100 Delicious Seasonal and Organic Recipes for Under $8 per Person" by Rebecca Lando (Gotham, June 2013, $20)

Rebecca or on Twitter @pgfoodevents.


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