It’s been a minute, dear readers. I hadn’t planned on waiting until February to post my first recipe of 2017, but despite my best intentions (and chocolatey experiments) (which will most definitely be revisited), here we are.
January was certainly eventful. On the 21st I rode the bus with my sister Xan and her fourteen year old daughter down to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March. Being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of people standing up to the new POTUS and his agenda of hate was amazing and empowering; I felt hopeful. Meanwhile, back in NY, my family had a good scare when my mom suffered a medical emergency. She’d become very ill due to complications from surgery, then even more ill when she went to the ER and was met with total incompetence. Thankfully she got the care she needed just in time (at another facility; shout out to the wonderful doctors and nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital) and is okay now.
Of course the now daily barrage of crazy news is enough to drive anyone mad. Still, it’s imperative that we stay informed, and never become desensitized or complacent. We need to stay strong and focused, figure out our next steps. And while I’m way too much of a realist to ever look at the world through rose tinted glasses, I’ll gladly fuel my fight with a rose tinted salad. This one is nourishing and bright, with textural variety, tons of flavor, and a pinkish hue thanks to roasted beets. Meyer lemon and hazelnuts make it feel like a treat, while lentils and sorghum help to sustain us through these exhausting times.
*Optional: Before cooking lentils, soak them in hot water with a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. This makes them more easily digestible and also reduces their cooking time. I soaked mine overnight.
1 cup sorghum, rinsed
3 cups water or vegetable stock (I used water + ½ bouillon cube)
¾ cup black lentils, rinsed and sorted, soaked if desired (see note above)
2 tsp of vinegar (I used apple cider)
a few small beets, scrubbed
1/3 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup meyer lemon juice (from ~2 meyer lemons)
2 tsp meyer lemon zest
1/3 cup olive oil (plus a tiny bit more for sorghum)
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
optional: salad greens for serving
- Place sorghum, water/stock, and a drop of olive oil in a saucepan and cook over high heat until boiling. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for about 50-60 minutes (mine took 60) or until tender but still a little chewy. Drain and let cool.
- Meanwhile, make the lentils. Place lentils in a pot and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until done (but not falling apart). Cooking time for the lentils will vary, depending on freshness and whether or not they’ve been soaked. My previously soaked lentils were done in 15 minutes; lentils that haven’t been soaked will take longer, closer to 25 minutes. So be sure to keep an eye on them and check regularly for doneness. Once cooked, drain, then toss with 2 tsp of vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, make the beets. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Wrap beets in foil, place in an oven safe dish, and roast for about an hour, or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Let cool, then peel and dice small.
- Turn oven down to 350 degrees F. Place hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, keeping a close watch, until browned and fragrant. Remove from pan and wrap in a dishtowel. Let sit for a minute (this will trap in the steam), then rub through the towel to remove the loose skins. Don’t worry about getting all the skins off– you only want get rid of the excess bits that would come off in your mouth (not pleasant). Roughly chop.
- To make the dressing, place the meyer lemon juice, olive oil, chopped thyme, and a dash of salt and pepper in a jar. Seal tightly and shake vigorously to combine.
- Mix together the lentils, sorghum, beets, and most of the dressing, setting aside some for leftovers (the sorghum will soak it up!). Season with salt and pepper, and top with hazelnuts and zest. Serve as is or with salad greens.
Yield: About 6 servings
For better or worse, 2016 is coming to an end. I know I’ve been feeling all the feels lately, but I’ll keep things nice and cozy here with some pasta featuring the year’s most popular vegetable, cauliflower– which has been everywhere and everything. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I haven’t tried cauliflower in any of its more trendy, experimental forms, but plan to remedy that soon with these buffalo wings, this pizza, and these steaks with romesco sauce. Yep, cauliflower is one intriguing, can-do brassica oleracea. Here, its mellow sweetness is complemented by garlic, kalamata olives, toasted almonds, and aromatic fresh oregano.
*I’ve been so excited that my local nataural foods store started carrying gluten free farfalle. If you buy/eat gluten free pasta with any frequency you know that gluten free bowties are something of a unicorn. Jovial also makes gluten free casarecce and manicotti (!). Get it.
12 oz pasta (farfalle, penne, fusilli, etc.)
4-5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 head of cauliflower, trimmed, cored, and cut into bite size chunks
1 cup vegetable broth
2-3 sprigs of fresh oregano, leaves only, chopped
¼ cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.
- Drizzle a bit of olive oil in a large pan/wok. Add garlic and a pinch of red pepper and cook over medium heat, agitating frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
- Stir in cauliflower and then the broth. Cover, turn up heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4 minutes, or until “crips tender.” Stir in oregano and olives.
- Add pasta to the pan, season with salt and pepper and, if desired, drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Sprinkle on toasted almonds and serve.
Yield: About 5 servings
Fresh cabbage is not something I typically buy. For me, it usually conjures images of sad plops of diner coleslaw and The Kids in the Hall. When shopping I pass right by those pale green heads (and even the purple ones) in favor of darker leafy things like kale and chard, or more exciting things like tatsoi and romanesco. Still, the beautiful varieties at the farmer’s market piqued my interest and made me reconsider. Stir-fried with ginger, garlic, peanuts, tofu, and hot sesame oil, cabbage is totally delicious– and not at all reminiscent of coleslaw. I’m craving some right now.
*I thought this was spicy! Not too spicy with rice, though. And perfect if your head gets extra stuffy this time of year like mine does. Of course Philip added hot sauce anyway. If you prefer a less spicy dish, reduce the amount of hot sesame oil or cut with some toasted sesame oil. For a totally mild dish, replace completely with toasted sesame oil.
1 block extra-firm tofu
½ tbsp grapeseed or other hot cooking oil (peanut, canola, refined coconut, etc.)
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp coconut sugar
½ tbsp tamari
For everything else:
1-1½ tsp grapeseed or other hot cooking oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1 medium head of cabbage, trimmed of outer leaves and core, cut into thin shreds
1 tbsp tamari
½ tbsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp hot sesame oil
¼ cup peanuts (I used roasted and salted)
Rice, for serving
- Pat tofu with a clean tea towel or paper towel. Cut into 1” cubes, then pat again to soak up extra moisture.
- Heat ½ tbsp grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes, sprinkle with garlic powder and coconut sugar, and stir gently to distribute seasonings. Then let cook—without touching– for about 3-4 minutes, or until golden and a bit crispy. Carefully flip over (turn down the heat while you do this) and splash with ½ tbsp tamari. Cook for 3-4 minutes more. Turn off burner and transfer tofu to another dish. Let the pan cool a bit and then give it a wipe to remove any blackened bits.
- Heat 1-1½ tsp grapeseed (or other) oil in pan over medium heat, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Stir in cabbage. Splash with a tiny bit of water and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring as needed. Add tamari and rice wine vinegar and cook for a couple minutes more.
- Add the tofu, peanuts, and hot sesame oil, and cook for another minute or two. Taste for seasonings and serve with rice.
Yield: About 3-4 servings
It’s been a helluva week, to say the least. Salad might not exactly be the most obvious comfort food, but having a big batch in the fridge certainly helps make lunchtime easier (and healthier). This one is earthy, crunchy, full of spice and umami warmth, with bright herbal notes. Black-eyed peas are often eaten on New Year’s Day as a good luck food; I say we take all the good luck we can get.
Obviously we can’t rely on luck alone. I don’t care if I’m bringing politics into a place where it doesn’t belong because A) it’s my blog and I do what I want, and B) what’s happening goes way beyond liberal and conservative and into the realm of right and very, very, very wrong. None of this is normal or okay, and we must remain vigilant. We need to seek out reliable news sources and stay informed. We need to be active. We need to stand up to bigotry and hold our leaders accountable. We need to help out where we can and support organizations that do good work (Jezebel posted a pretty comprehensive list, to which I would add NRDC). Stay strong, friends.
3 cups cooked black-eyed peas, if canned then rinsed & drained
1-2 radishes, sliced into thin half-moons
1 cucumber, sliced into thin half-moons
1 scallion (white and light green parts), thinly sliced
3 tbsp mellow white miso
1 tbsp grated ginger
1½ tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp water
handful of parsley, chopped
salt (if needed; miso is salty) & black pepper, to taste
- To make the dressing, whisk together the miso, ginger, olive oil, and water.
- Toss the black-eyed peas, radish, cucumber, and scallion together with most of the dressing, setting some aside for left-overs (the black eyed peas really soak it up!), and stir to coat evenly. Gently mix in most of the parsley, saving a little bit for sprinkling on the top, and season to taste. Garnish with remaining parsley.
Yield: About 6 servings
When I made this for dinner a few nights ago, Phil told me it was “very fall.” While cooking, I had thought I had been making a very summery meal–eggplants! peppers! fresh basil and mint!– yet had to agree that my hot bowl of pasta full of roasted things was pretty damn cozy. Even the fact that I had turned the oven on at all was evidence of the seasonal shift. To be sure, this is a transitional dish, showcasing late summer’s abundant harvest while gently easing us into fall’s rhythms and encouraging us to slow down– even if for just a bit.
*To smash the garlic, peel each clove and pressed down gently but firmly (and very carefully!) with the side of a chef’s knife, taking care not to break the clove completely.
13 or so fairytale eggplants, stemmed and halved
2-3 red peppers (I used 3 not too big frying ones), cut into 1-1½” pieces
1 small red onion, diced medium
2 garlic cloves, gently smashed
1½-2 tbsp olive oil (enough to evenly coat vegetables)
1 12 oz package of pasta
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup mint, chopped
sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss vegetables with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread evenly on a roasting pan. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring once half way through, until vegetables are tender and browning around the edges. Remove from oven.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Just before draining, reserve about a ¼ cup of the pasta water (use a mug with a handle to scoop directly from the pot). Drain pasta.
- To the pasta, add the tomato paste, vinegar, and pasta water and stir to combine. Then mix in the roasted vegetables, breaking the garlic with your spoon. Season with salt and pepper, and top with basil and mint.
Yield: About 4 servings