I can take or leave the strawberries available at the grocery store year-round. Sure, they’re fine– but that’s about it. Local, in season strawberries, however, are a completely different story. Juicy and flavorful, not overly refrigerated, and adorable to boot, these are the berries that fruit dreams are made of. Here I’ve combined them with their friends balsamic and avocado for a sweet and savory snack that’s light but substantial and just right for these warm early summer days.
1 rice cake (Lundberg is the best; not sponsored)
¼ peeled ripe avocado
sea salt and black pepper
a few strawberries, hulled and sliced
drizzle of balsamic vinegar (the thicker the better)
spoonful of hemp seeds
little fresh basil, torn at last minute, optional
Use a knife to spread ripe avocado on rice cake. Season with salt and pepper. Top with strawberry slices, balsamic, hemp seeds, and basil (if using). Eat!
Yield: 1 serving
During my last haircut, I got to talking with my stylist about food and recipes and this blog. He pitched to me his own idea of featuring sets of recipes which share the same ingredients– a sort of batch cooking format. His desire to reduce waste and save money is something I think we can all relate to. I mean, who hasn’t sheepishly watched a bunch of cilantro rot away in the fridge after one night of chana masala? (Cilantro-haters, don’t answer that.) So while this post includes just one recipe, in the spirit of economy and forehandedness, I’m including some suggestions for what to do with the asparagus and chives you don’t use. For the asparagus, try grilling it: heat a grill pan over medium-high heat, when hot spray with a little cooking spray, and cook asparagus, a few minutes per side, until cooked through and slightly charred. Remove from heat and toss with a little extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. I also love asparagus in pasta dishes. This recipe looks great, as does this (and it uses sunflower seeds, too! I also bet you could substitute chives for the green onion). Or make risotto. This pesto looks like a delicious (and healthful) way to use up chives. And this pizza and this potato salad use both asparagus and chives. Waste not, want not.
*This salad dressing is on the rich side, which complements the grassiness of the asparagus really well. The lemon and hot sauce further balance out the flavors, but if you prefer something lighter, feel free to reduce the amount of oil, or the total amount of dressing overall.
1 cup quinoa
½ cup avocado, grapeseed, or mild olive oil
½ cup lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp finely chopped chives, plus a little extra for sprinkling on top
1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp mustard flour
1½ cups cooked /15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
15-18 thin asparagus spears (~½ bunch), rough ends removed, sliced diagonally into 1” pieces
3-4 tbsp sunflower seeds
couple splashes of your favorite hot sauce, optional
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a fine mesh sieve, rinse quinoa until the water runs clear. Drain. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil in a small saucepan and add quinoa. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until quinoa smells toasty and water has evaporated. Add 1½ cups water and a little salt, turn up heat to high. Bring to a boil, cover, turn heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off heat but keep lid on for another 15 minutes, then remove lid, fluff with a fork, and let cool completely.
- Meanwhile make the dressing: in a tightly closed jar, shake together vigorously the avocado (or other) oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, chives, shallot, garlic powder, mustard flour, and some salt and pepper.
- Add chickpeas, asparagus, sunflower seeds, lemon-chive dressing, and hot sauce (if using), to cooled quinoa, and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper, and top with a little extra chopped chives.
Yield: 5-6 servings
Because it’s still root vegetable and citrus season, and because I’m always looking for more ways to add lentils to my diet, I give you this vibrant salad. Phil and I enjoyed it for dinner the other night, along with some roasted potatoes and grilled asparagus. I think it would also be really tasty (and make for great potluck/picnic fare) combined with something grainy, such as quinoa or farro.
*Optional: Before cooking lentils, soak them in hot water with a bit of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. I soaked mine for 5 hours. This makes them more easily digestible and reduces their cooking time, too.
*I also like to soak the chopped red onion in (cool) water while I prep the other ingredients. This helps tame its sharpness.
1 cup lentils, either beluga or French/de puy, picked over and rinsed
Couple splashes of apple cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice, optional
1 piece dried kombu, optional
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
3-4 small beets, scrubbed
¼ cup olive oil
3 tbsp fresh orange juice
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tbsp chopped red onion, soaked and drained (see above note)
¼ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
generous handful of basil, chopped
generous handful of cilantro, chopped
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 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.
- Place lentils and kombu (if using) 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 presoaked lentils were done in 15 minutes. Lentils that haven’t been soaked will take longer, closer to 30 or 40 minutes. So be sure to keep an eye on them and check regularly for doneness. Once cooked, drain (and discard kombu), give a quick rinse, then toss with 2 tsp of apple cider vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely.
- To make the dressing, whisk together or shake in closed jar the olive oil, orange and lemon juices, and some salt and pepper.
- Combine lentils, beets, dressing, and red onion, and season with salt and pepper. Top with pistachios and herbs. Taste for seasonings; you may wish to add more orange or lemon juice.
Yield: About 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
This is some real deal everyday eats right here. I love having sweet potatoes on hand because they’re cheap, nutritious, tasty, and cook up easily (my preferred cooking method: the microwave). In fact I almost titled this post “Lazy Girl Sweet Potato Lunch.” Then I thought the better of it, realizing that wanting a quick meal didn’t necessarily make me lazy, and that perhaps “Busy Lady Sweet Potato Lunch” would be more appropriate. But then I also didn’t want to exclude anyone, because this is a sweet potato for the masses. Or at least for people who like tahini and olives and sauerkraut. Be sure to use sauerkraut with live cultures so that you’re getting in on that good bacteria action. Your gut will thank you.
*To cook the sweet potato in the microwave: wash and scrub sweet potato, pat dry, and poke holes in it with a fork. Microwave for 5-5½ minutes, or until cooked through.
*Or bake in the oven, perhaps in batches.
*The aleppo pepper is not actually necessary here, but it’s an ingredient I definitely recommend checking out. It’s not as spicy as pizzeria style crushed red pepper flakes but very flavorful, and adds a delicious kick to all sorts of foods. It’s especially fab on avocado toast.
1 baked/microwaved sweet potato
a few spoonfuls of tahini
handful of kalamata olives, pitted and halved
aleppo pepper, optional
Cut open cooked sweet potato and add the tahini, mashing it into the flesh to disperse. Top with saurkraut, olives, and pepper(s).
Yield: 1 serving