Like most people, I like my lunches to be as effortless as possible. This usually means left-overs from last night’s dinner, some sort of sandwich or rice cake creation, or– especially as the weather gets warmer– grabbing whatever items I have in the fridge and throwing them into a bowl. One of my favorite bases for the “grain” element of the bowl lunch is quinoa, which tastes great at any temperature and is easy to cook a big batch of to have throughout the week. The same goes for lentils, or feel free to substitute canned (BPA-free and rinsed, please). Of course with any bowl dish it’s the toppings that make it shine. Here I used sliced almonds, radish microgreens, olives, and avocado, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and a little harissa. It’s hippie food in the best sense possible. Delicious, delicious hippie food.
¾ cup cooked and cooled quinoa
½ cup cooked and cooled lentils
squeeze or two of lemon
a little hot sauce (I like something thick here, like harissa or sriracha)
handful of microgreens, pea shoots, sprouts, etc.
handful of sliced almonds
Combine quinoa and lentils in a bowl and toss with a little olive oil, squeeze of lemon, and sea salt. Top with everything else, then, if desired, finish with another small drizzle of oil and squeeze of lemon.
Yield: 1 serving
Lightly adapted from Mario Batali’s Farfalle with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Arugula
This is one of those dishes that is so simple and easy to throw together yet somehow feels sophisticated. Simultaneously fresh and comforting, it’s a bit like a lighter, updated version of that 90’s Italian American restaurant staple, the pasta primavera. Pasta, peas, and wilted arugula are coated in a silky, garlicky, almost creamy sauce, though there’s no actual cream or cheese here (or cashews or nut milk for that matter; this is a vegan blog after all). Instead olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, vegetable broth, and nutritional yeast combine to make a sort of a magic– a small glittering sea of umami richness.
*I prefer the more flavorful oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes here, but you can certainly substitute the dry kind. Just be sure to rehydrate first by covering in hot water and soaking for about ten minutes, then draining.
12 oz pasta
1 cup frozen peas, preferably petite
EV olive oil
5-6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, preferably the oil-packed kind, cut into slivers
1 cup vegetable broth, divided
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
4 cups arugula
sea salt and black pepper
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions; set a timer for cooking time. When there is one minute left on the timer, add the peas. Cook pasta and peas together for remaining minute and then drain.
- Meanwhile, drizzle some olive oil into a large pan and cook garlic and red pepper flakes over medium low heat for a few minutes, watching closely and agitating frequently, until fragrant.
- Stir in sun-dried tomatoes, a ¼ cup of the vegetable broth, and nutritional yeast. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring now and then, til thickened.
- Stir in the arugula and the rest of the broth. Cook for another couple minutes, letting arugula wilt. Combine with pasta and serve.
Yield: About 4 servings
When the cat’s away… the mouse will eat weird healthy shit like soba noodles with sauerkraut. This recipe came about one night recently when Phil was already heading out to practice by the time I was leaving work. I was hungry and tired and as I rode the train I tried to think of what easy thing I might have for my dinner. I knew I had soba noodles and pasta at home, so when I got off at my stop I ran into the local, 24 hours produce market in hopes of getting some fresh herbs, too. But after inspecting the different leaves of varying shades of pale green with brown edges, I decided to save my money. Home I went, where I threw together this dinner (and the next few days’ lunches) with what I already had in my own kitchen. Then I painted my nails and watched Girls. I’m joking. That was the next day.
1 cup cooked black-eyed peas/1 14oz can, drained and rinsed
1 (8.8. oz) packaged soba noodles (I like this kind)
¼ cup tahini
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, plus a tiny bit more
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 tbsp warm water
chunk of ginger, about 1-1½”, peeled and minced
heaped ½ cup sauerkraut, drained
salt and pepper
sriracha for serving, optional
- Toss black-eyed peas with a splash of rice wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Cook noodles in lightly salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- While noodles are cooking, make the sauce. In a small bowl whisk together the tahini, tamari, rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, warm water, and ginger.
- Toss noodles with tahini sauce, black-eyed peas, and sauerkraut. Taste for seasonings, and serve topped with hemp seeds with sriracha on the side if desired.
Yield: About 4 servings
Shifting toward spring. It’s been warm and cold, windy, sunny, rainy, occasionally snowy. For me, there’s been lots of happy and there have been days where anxiety is hard to shake. Contributing to the latter are all sorts of stresses, both big and small picture. There’s personal stuff, like the fact that our (very elderly) landlady just passed away about the same time that our lease [to an affordable apartment in an extremely unaffordable
neighborhood city] expired. And there are things like this country’s frightening current political atmosphere, which, while amusing, is getting more and more unnerving every day. Laughter helps, as does qi gong, music (latest obsessions: Courtney Barnett, the new Animal Collective, and this dreamy version of The Chemical Brothers’ “Wide Open”), dates with my friends and my man, and good food (bet you knew that one was coming).
*Precooking the tempeh helps to tame its bitterness as well as prep it for soaking up all that good marinade.
*Feel free to substitute bok choy if you can’t find yu choy.
For the tempeh & marinade:
1 8oz package tempeh, sliced crosswise into ¼” strips
1 tbsp mustard (I like stoneground)
2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
1½ tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp agave
couple grinds of black pepper
For the rest:
vegetable oil (I used safflower)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1 bunch of yu choy, trimmed and chopped
½ cup vegetable broth, plus a bit more if necessary
½ tsp tamari
Rice for serving, optional
- Place tempeh slices in a saucepan and cover with water. Cook over high heat until boiling, then cover with lid, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain and place in a shallow bowl.
- Whisk together or shake in closed jar all of the marinade ingredients. Pour over tempeh and toss gently to coat. Let sit for one hour.
- Heat ½ tsp of oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When hot, add tempeh. I strongly recommend using a splatter guard here. Let tempeh cook, untouched, for about 3-4 minutes, or until crispy. Flip over all the pieces (turn down heat while you do this) and let cook for another 3-4 minutes. Set aside. Let the pan cool a bit and give a quick wipe.
- Heat ½ tbsp oil in the pan over medium heat. Heat the garlic and red pepper flakes for a minute or two, until fragrant.
- Stir in the yu choy. Add the vegetable broth, cover, and turn up the heat some. Let cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the yu choy, starts to dry out, add a bit more broth. Remove lid, stir in tamari, and let cook for another minute, then add the tempeh. Break some of the tempeh pieces a little as you stir. Serve over rice if desired.
Yield: 3-4 servings
Happy February, friends! Temperatures have been mild (sometimes disconcertingly so), the sun is shining, and Punxsutawney Phil has just declared an early spring this year. We’re moving forward: a fact made apparent by that tiny increase of light each evening.
Of course winter is far from over. There are still many, many more days of freezing winds and icy sidewalks and complete dreariness to go. More internal reflection. More nights where going out is just too much and all I want to do is stay in and watch Homeland because I won’t—I can’t!—bear the cold. (We’ve also been re-watching all of Absolutely Fabulous. ‘Sup Hulu Plus.)
This stir-fry combines kale, pan-fried tofu, garlic, and ginger, along with toasted coconut for a bit of crunch and buttery richness. It’s savory and a little sweet, warming, and very nourishing.
1 bunch of lacinto kale, trimmed of rough stems and chopped
½ cup coconut flakes
1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu
heaped 1 tbsp oil (I used refined coconut), divided
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp tamari, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
rice for serving, optional
- Set a large pot of water over high heat. Once boiling, add kale to the water and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened but not mushy. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
- Heat coconut flakes in a dry frying pan over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, stirring fairly frequently, until just starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Pat tofu with a couple paper towels. Cut into 1” cubes, then pat again to soak up extra moisture.
- Heat ½ the oil in a large frying pan/wok/skillet 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, so it can crisp up– for about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat (just for your own safety), carefully flip over the tofu, and splash with 1½ tsp of tamari. Turn heat back up, and cook (without touching) for a few minutes more. Turn off burner and transfer tofu to another dish. Let the pan cool a little bit, then give it a gentle wipe with a paper towel to remove any blackened bits.
- Heat the rest of the oil in the pan over medium heat, and add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until fragrant.
- Stir in cooked kale, then add 1½ tbsp tamari. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring now and then. Add tofu and cook for another minute or two. Taste for seasonings. Serve over rice (if using), topped with toasted coconut flakes.
Yield: About 3-4 servings