Carrot-Ginger Soup

A few weeks ago, I got a text from a friend asking what I had been cooking over break. I immediately sent him a picture of this carrot-ginger soup, and got a recipe request in response along with the accusation that I had “staged” the photo. True, I did set up this picture on the floor of our kitchen near a full-length window, but nothing about this soup is fake–the flavor of carrots is as prominent as the orange color suggests, and the texture is perfectly silky without any milk or cream to deaden the spice from the ginger.

What makes this recipe so revolutionary is the addition of just one simple pantry ingredient. Cooks’ Illustrated came up with the recipe of course, seeing as the test cooks there remained unparalleled in their use of kitchen chemistry in recipes for the home cook’s advantage.  Just half a teaspoon of baking soda added to the simmering carrots raises the pH of the soup enough to break down the cell walls of the carrots in record time. It’s the same trick that I use to make stir-free polenta, tender braised green beans, and nutty broccoli pesto.  Twenty minutes later, the carrots get pureed into an unbelievably silky soup that is quickly brightened up with a splash of cider vinegar, which is added at the end of cooking to keep the pH in the basic range. The short cooking time has advantages beyond just saving time, too; having the soup simmer for less than half an hour prevents the flavor and heat from the ginger from fading into the background. No fussy straining or special techniques are needed, just sauté some aromatics in butter with ginger before adding the rest of the ingredients, then blend the soup quickly and serve, preferably with a grilled cheese sandwich made with good bread and sharp cheddar.

I made this when I was in the always-temperate Palo Alto, but I would love a bowl of this to combat the twenty degree weather in Massachusetts. No matter the weather outside your house, this soup is a simple, healthful meal that everyone will love.

Carrot-Ginger Soup

Serves 6

Adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (If you need to make the soup vegan, use canola oil or another similarly neutral cooking oil, such as grapeseed.)

2 onions, diced fine

1 ½ tablespoons grated fresh ginger (store your ginger in the freezer to make it easy to grate)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon sugar

2 pounds carrots, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick

5 ½ cups water, divided

2 sprigs fresh thyme

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, fresh ginger, garlic, two teaspoons table salt, and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened but not browned, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Increase the heat to high, and add the carrots, 4 ¾ cups water, thyme sprigs, and baking soda. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered until carrots are very tender, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Discard thyme sprigs. Puree the soup in a blender in two batches until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Return soup to a clean pot and stir in remaining ¾ cup water and vinegar. Return to simmer over medium heat, then serve. Soup can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

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Farro with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese


I don’t know about you, but I think that quinoa becoming a mainstream food set off a grain revolution in America. Cooks everywhere started experimenting with all kinds of cereal grains once the general population was open to new varieties of carbohydrates. It seems like rice and wheat were the dominant grains for a long time, but once quinoa got introduced, it’s not uncommon to see millet, barley, teff, freekeh, wild rice, and farro in grocery stores and restaurants.


I think that farro is the perfect variety of grain to try if you’re interested in branching out from pasta because it’s an Italian relative of wheat that’s mild in flavor and easy to cook. Like pasta, it cooks in boiling salted water until al dente—no rinsing, soaking, or toasting necessary—and it has the added benefit of being a whole grain.


Aside from cooking farro into a farrotto, I also love using it to make a hearty side salad for potlucks and lunches. Its nutty flavor needs a bright, acidic dressing to counterbalance the earthiness, a few vegetables for textural contrast, and something with a little fat, like cheese or toasted nuts to complete the dish. Here, I tossed the cooked farro with some blanched green beans (just throw them in the same cooking water as the farro until bright green), oven roasted cherry tomatoes, and a creamy goat cheese. A little red wine vinaigrette ties the whole thing together.


I loved how all of the colors complemented one another to make the dish visually appealing, and the sweetness from the roasted tomatoes and the tang from the goat cheese made sure there was something exciting in every bite. Farro salads can be served warm or at room temperature, making this recipe the perfect make-ahead summer dish.


Farro with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Serves 4-6

1 lb cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil

Sea salt

1 cup semi-pearled farro

4 oz. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch lengths

3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and place the cherry tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with 2 teaspoons olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of sea salt, then roast for 20-25 minutes until the skins have shriveled and the juices have been released, rotating the pan halfway through baking.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 3 quarts of water to boil in a saucepan and add 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Add the farro and cook for 15-20 minutes until al dente—the cooking time will vary slightly depending on the brand of farro that you use. Remove the cooked farro from the water with a slotted spoon or skimmer, and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the green beans to the boiling water and blanch for 2 minutes, until bright green. Drain the green beans and place them in the bowl with the farro. Add the roasted cherry tomatoes and the crumbled goat cheese to the bowl with the farro.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon of sea salt, red wine vinegar, and the pepper. Pour the dressing over the farro mixture and toss gently to combine, then adjust seasonings to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Tempeh and Cauliflower Rice with Tahini Harissa Sauce

In the past few years, Cauliflower has become the new chameleon food. Cooks everywhere are turning it into pizza crust, grilling it in place of steaks, and pureeing it until it resembles mashed potatoes. I’m pretty sure that the Paleo diet craze should take all of the credit for creating all of the cauliflower hype. In the past year in particular, cauliflower rice has become the new “it” food. Essentially, it’s raw cauliflower that is chopped into grain-sized pieces, then sautéed until tender and served just like any other grain or starch.

I have to admit, I was pretty apprehensive about trying cauliflower rice. I enjoy cauliflower when it’s tossed with pasta or cooked into an Indian curry, but I wasn’t sure about what I would think of it disguised as rice—I was sure it would still taste like a raw crudités platter. It was a pleasant surprise then when I found that the taste and texture is remarkably similar to traditional rice. The “grains” are fluffy and tender without being mushy. Best of all, they absorb sauce just like actual starches.

To accompany the cauliflower rice, I sautéed some tempeh slices to serve on top. On top of the tempeh and cauliflower rice is a simple tahini sauce with harissa and honey for a rich contrast to the rest of the dish. The sauce is slightly spicy and sweet and brightens up the plate—any leftovers would be especially delicious on falafel. Tempeh, in case you’re wondering, is an Indonesian fermented soybean cake with a nutty taste and firm texture. When I first heard about tempeh, I found the description somewhat off-putting, when in reality it’s more like a hearty vegetable burger with notes of walnuts and bulgur. It’s much more filling that tofu, and has lots of protein and healthy fats. Like tofu, it is sold in the refrigerated section and can be safely served from the package, but most people choose to cook it. Serving tempeh uncooked can make it taste bitter, but once pan-fried in a little oil until golden brown it becomes much milder. If you’re a vegetarian that’s had enough with lentils and tofu, it’s a great new food to try that adapts well to a variety of dishes and cuisines. Cauliflower rice and tempeh are new foods for most people, but don’t let them intimidate you: although they’re relatively unknown, they’re simple to prepare and work with a wide range of flavors.

Whether you’re looking for a new alternative to rice, want to try new ways to prepare vegetables, or want to jump on the cauliflower bandwagon, this a great dish to try.

Tempeh and Cauliflower Rice with Tahini-Harissa Sauce

Serves 2-3

Cauliflower Rice

½ head cauliflower, cut into 4 inch chunks

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Tempeh

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

8 oz. Tempeh, cut crosswise into ¼ inch slices

Tahini Harissa Sauce

2 tablespoons tahini

1 teaspoon honey

¼ teaspoon salt

Juice of ½ lemon

2 tablespoons water

½ teaspoon harissa

2 teaspoons minced parsley

  1. For the Cauliflower rice: Place the chunks of cauliflower rice in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower has been broken into small pieces that resemble grains of couscous or rice. This will take 10-15 1-second pulses. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add the cauliflower and sea salt and sauté for 6-8 minutes, until the “rice” is beginning to turn golden brown and tender. Transfer the “rice” to a bowl and cover to keep warm.
  2. For the tempeh: Wipe out the skillet, then add the remaining olive oil and heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tempeh slices in a single layer and sauté until golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes a side. Turn off the skillet and set aside.
  3. For the tahini sauce: whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, and adjust seasonings to taste.
  4. To serve: Place a portion of the cauliflower rice on a plate or in a bowl, then top with the tempeh slices. Drizzle the tahini sauce on top, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Eggplant Tartines with Goat Cheese, Honey, and Olives


Recently, I’ve started listening to the Spilled Milk Podcast, which is (no surprise here) a food related podcast hosted by two Seattle-based food writers, Molly Wizenberg (of Orangette and Delancey) and Matthew Amster-Burton. Other than America’s Test Kitchen and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, it’s the only podcast I listen to. Each episode is about 20 minutes long and revolves around one ingredient. It’s so nice to know that there are other people out there who could talk at length about something so simple yet complex as onions, dried beans or even jam, and I think my friends are relieved that know they no longer have to listen to me discuss the pros and cons of various pasta shapes.

Thanks to the honey episode (not the eggplant episode, as you might think) of Spilled Milk, I came up with this idea for Eggplant Tartines with goat cheese, honey, olives, and fresh mint. They were talking about savory dishes with honey and Molly mentioned pairing eggplant with honey, goat cheese, and green olives. Obviously I had to try out that combination, and thought on and off about it for a few days when this tartine idea came to me during a long swim practice.


It all started with a batch of crusty bread (much like my No-Knead Walnut Bread, sans walnuts) and a pan of roasted eggplant.



Once the eggplant was nicely browned and tender, I layered it on some thick slices of the bread, then added fresh chevre and a drizzle of honey. (I used lemon flower honey because I like to collect those sorts of things much like other people like to collect state quarters, but any regular clover honey will work.)


After a quick stint under the broiler, the tartines were topped with Sicilian green olives, fresh mint, and a little black pepper. Even after just one bite, I knew that I had come up with something good. The goat cheese melted into the tender eggplant and the honey offset the pungency of the olives just enough to keep the flavors in balance. The mint tied everything together and enhanced all of the Mediterranean aspects of the dish. Two of these tartines is the perfect springtime lunch dish that’s filling and nutritious but not heavy. For those of you that think eggplant is bland or spongy, give this recipe a try—this is eggplant at its best.


Eggplant Tartines with Goat Cheese, Honey, and Olives

Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as an appetizer

Inspired by the “Honey” episode of the Spilled Milk Podcast

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 Italian eggplants, trimmed and sliced lengthwise into 3/8 inch slices (Italian eggplants are on the small side, about 6 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Use 1 globe eggplant if you can’t find any.)

½ teaspoon sea salt

4 slices artisan bread

2 oz. fresh goat cheese

2 teaspoons honey

¼ cup green olives, sliced (I used pitted Sicilian green olives)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Freshly ground black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 500F. Spread a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oil, then lay the eggplant slices out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with the salt, then roast on the top rack of the oven for 15 minutes. Using a metal spatula, flip the eggplant slices over and then return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until both sides are golden brown. Remove the eggplant pan from the oven, then turn the oven to the broil setting.
  2. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet, then place the eggplant slices on top of the bread slices. Put ½ oz. of the goat cheese on each slice of the bread, then drizzle each tartine with ½ teaspoon honey. Place on the top rack of the oven under the broiler element, then broil for 2-4 minutes until the edges of the bread are toasted and the goat cheese is golden brown. Remove the tartines from the oven, and place 1 tablespoon of the olives on each tartine. Scatter the fresh mint over the tartines, then top with freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Mujadara


There’s and ongoing joke between me and one of my friends about how often I eat lentils. (“Kinsey, what are you eating for lunch? Lentils? I thought so.”) On any given week I’ve probably had lentils for at least five meals. If that sounds boring, I can promise you it’s not. The many varieties of lentils show up in dishes from all around the world that makes for many permutations of this basic legume. Red and yellow lentils form the base for Indian Dal, Castellucio lentils are excellent with Arborio rice and parmesan from Italy, green lentils with Berbere spices are perfect with injera bread from Ethiopia, French lentils du Puy are fabulous with a lemon-dijon vinaigrette and fines herbes, and nearly every variety of lentil can produce a quality soup with some aromatics and vegetable stock. The list goes on and on.

The latest meal that I’ve made with lentils is called Mujadara—a Persian rice and lentil dish with caramelized onions and few spices. A pan of onions are caramelized while the rice cooks so that by the time the dish is finished, the lentils and rice are combined with what becomes almost a thick onion jam or confit, punctuated by subtle notes of cumin and cinnamon.


A few finishing touches of parsley, lemon, and butter finish off this nutritious dish. Cinnamon in savory dishes is a fairly uncommon thing to see in the states, but I really love how it adds a slight sweetness that prevents the cumin from overpowering the dish. I often serve this with a fresh green salad for a simple lunch or dinner, but for a bigger meal Mujadara can be served alongside labneh (yogurt cheese) and warm pita bread.


Mujadara

Serves 4

1 cup long grain brown rice (basmati or jasmine)

1 ¾ cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 medium onions, diced

½ teaspoon sea salt, plus additional to taste if needed

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons water

2 cups cooked and salted green lentils

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon butter

  1. Cook the rice: If you have a rice cooker, place the brown rice and the 1 ¾ cups water in the rice cooker, then close and press start. If you don’t have a rice cooker, combine the rice and water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 40-45 minutes, then take off heat and let sit, covered for 10 minutes.
  2. While the rice cooks, prepare the lentils and onions: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil until hot, then add the diced onions. Continue to cook over medium-high heat until softened and reduced in volume, 5-7 minutes. Add the sea salt and reduce the heat to low, and cook slowly for 35-30 minutes, until the onions are a deep golden brown and well caramelized. Increase the heat to medium, Add the cumin, cinnamon, and red pepper flakes and sauté until the spices toast and are fragrant, about 45-60 seconds. Add the 4 tablespoons water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the caramelized bits of onion stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, add the cooked lentils and stir to combine so that all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Add the cooked rice and stir thoroughly, but gently to avoid breaking up the lentils.
  4. To finish, add the minced parsley, lemon juice, and butter and stir until the ingredients are well combined and the butter has melted. Adjust salt to taste, then serve.

Note: If you do not have access to pre-cooked, seasoned lentils. Place 1 cup of rinsed, dried green lentils in an oven safe saucepan with 3 cups of water and ½ teaspoon sea salt, then bring to a boil. Cover the pan, then bake at 350F in the oven for 40 minutes, until tender.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Golden Lentils with Soft, Sweet Onions


A few months ago, over Thanksgiving weekend, my mom and I took a day trip up to the city. We have these trips down to a science, and the normally are as follows: spend lots of time either in the Mission or the Embarcadero window shopping and eating as much good food as possible (if we can find salted caramel ice cream, even better). This time, we ended up at Book Passage in the Ferry Building and spent some time browsing the bookshelves. By some happy coincidence, Mollie Katzen was also there signing copies of her new cookbook, The Heart of the Plate. I’ve been reading Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks for years, namely Moosewood and Vegetable Heaven, ever since I got them as Christmas gifts in elementary school. Her cookbooks feature creative, unpretentious food that appeals to everyone, vegetarian or not, and The Heart of the Plate is no exception. It was such a thrill to meet her and talk to her about her evolution as a cookbook writer as well as meet her friend Katie Hafner, who was signing copies of her memoir, Mother Daughter Me, which if you haven’t yet read, you should—it will make you laugh, cry, and think for hours about what it means to be either a mother or daughter. Needless to say, we bought both books and broke into them on the BART on the way back home that night. (If that wasn’t enough already, we also learned that she is friends with David Lebovitz, which was particularly exciting for my mom and I because my brother has remarked that we can bring any conversation back to David Leibovitz, his blog, and his book The Sweet Life in Paris.)


In the past few months, I have made a few recipes from The Heart of the Plate, and all of them were delicious. The entire book is full of recipes that appeal to me, with entire chapters on hearty legumes, grains, vegetables, and garnishes. The other day, I made her Golden Lentils with Soft, Sweet Onions, from the “Cozy Mashes” chapter, and if that isn’t the perfect dish to serve for lunch with a side of homemade flat-bread, then I don’t know what is. The dish starts with a pan of minced onions that are gently cooked until deep golden brown and perfectly caramelized with a touch of balsamic vinegar. In the meantime, a pot of red lentils cooks until, in the words of the recipe, they are “mindlessly soft.” Once combined, the onions subtly perfume and flavor the lentils without overwhelming them with spice, as some lentil dishes often do. These lentils are filling, healthful, and well worth taking the time to make. Thank you Mollie, for taking the time to chat with my mom and me, and signing this inspiring cookbook to add to my growing collection.


Golden Lentils with Soft, Sweet Onions

Serves 6

Very slightly adapted from The Heart of the Plate, by Mollie Katzen

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

3 cups minced onions (about 2 medium onions)

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 cups red lentils

5 cups water

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large (12 inch) skillet over medium heat, then add the minced onions and sauté, stirring frequently. After 5 minutes, turn the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and golden, 16-20 minutes. Add the sea salt and 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar and continue to cook for 10-15 more minutes on medium-low until very sweet and caramelized. Adjust seasonings to taste, then set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, bring the red lentils and water to boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer very gently for 35-40 minutes until the lentils “are mindlessly soft.” In the last 10 minutes of cooking, simmer uncovered to allow the lentils to thicken a bit.
  3. Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the pan of onions and combine over low heat. Adjust salt to taste, and add remainder of the balsamic vinegar, if desired. Spoon into serving bowls and top with a drizzle of olive oil, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Kale Salad with Miso Dressing and Tofu

There is not much that would make this a more quintessentially Californian healthful meal, but the fact that I ate this after going to a hot yoga class with a group of my friends probably means that I will have a future as a farmers’ market vendor that doubles as a yoga instructor and drinks kale juice regularly. Oh well. At least I’ll be getting plenty of iron.

That being said, don’t let the aura of greenery and tofu dissuade you from making this salad, because then you’d be missing out on the umami richness of the miso that clings to the kale ribbons as well as the crisp, slightly sweet exterior of the seared tofu that’s punctuated by a dusting of sesame seeds. The lacinato kale becomes tender after a few minutes of sitting in the dressing and a few spoonfuls of sesame oil take away the bitter edge that often accompanies a pile of dark leafy greens.

It’s the kind of meal that gives you energy without weighing you down and conveniently makes sure you have some room for a few cookies for dessert (or granola, if you’d like to keep with the Berkeley-esque theme). The kale is sturdy enough to prevent wilting, so a container of this would make an excellent weekday lunch, even if you don’t live in California.

Kale Salad with Tofu and Miso

Serves 4

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 teaspoons white miso paste

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon grated ginger

8 oz. lacinato kale (also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale), de-ribbed and cut into 1 inch strips

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

1, 14 oz. block firm tofu, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices then cut on the diagonal to create triangles

1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cup sliced cucumber

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, miso paste, rice vinegar, and grated ginger. Place the kale in a large bowl and pour the dressing over it, massaging the dressing into the kale with your hands until decreased in volume by about 1/3.  Let sit for 20 minutes to marinate while you prepared the tofu.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a 12 inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the triangles of tofu and sauté on each side until golden brown, 5-6 minutes per side.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine the sweet chili sauce and the soy sauce. Turn the heat on the pan down to low and pour the soy sauce mixture over the tofu and shake the pan gently to evenly distribute the sauce. Let the sauce reduce and coat the tofu until the tofu is a deep golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Take the pan off heat and set aside.
  4. Distribute the tofu among 4 serving bowls and top with the sliced cucumber and tofu. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Avocado Noodles with Edamame

I have a long and complicated history with avocados. Up until age 15, I refused to eat them and avoided them religiously in any application. Guacamole and avocado salad were my sworn enemies, probably due to the fact that I announced my dislike of avocados before preschool and stuck to my guns out of stubbornness rather than true aversion. Then, the summer before sophomore year—in a state of five hours of water polo induced delirium—I tried a bite of avocado. I tried it alone of course, because nothing could be worse than having someone say “I told you you’d like it,” after more than a decade of insisting that I didn’t care for avocados. Obviously, I liked what I tasted, otherwise I wouldn’t be putting avocados on top of black beans, homemade bread, or rice noodles. The mildly creamy texture of an avocado pairs well with spicy or smoky foods, and when perfectly ripe, they have a slight nuttiness reminiscent of toasted walnuts.

In this dish, ripe avocados are pureed with soy sauce, aromatics, and lime juice to make a sauce that ties together a bowl of rice noodles, edamame, and long ribbons of cucumber into a satisfying meal. In under ten minutes, you can have a complete meal full of healthful fats and nutrients like magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamin E. My only regret is not trying avocados earlier. Mom, you were right all along.

Avocado Noodles with Edamame

Serves 4

8 oz. rice vermicelli

2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted, flesh scooped out of peel

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce

1/2 teaspoon sriracha or sambal oelek

2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup shelled edamame, warmed

1 English or American cucumber, peeled into long ribbons with a vegetable peeler (about 2 cups of ribbons, do not peel the seed bed)

  1. Bring a tea kettle of water to a boil and place the rice noodles in a large, heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over the noodles so that they are completely covered and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and return to the bowl, then set aside.
  2. While the noodles are soaking, place the avocados, garlic, ginger, chili sauce, sriracha, soy sauce, and lime juice in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 1-2 minutes, until completely smooth. Transfer the avocado sauce to the bowl with the rice noodles and add the edamame and cucumber ribbons. Toss well to combine and divide into serving bowls, then serve immediately.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Coconut Quinoa with Cauliflower and Curry


I am always on the lookout for lunch recipes that I can put together on Sunday afternoon and then enjoy for the rest of the week. It makes getting ready for school much more simple, because all I have to do is grab one container from the fridge and my lunch is made. However, I’ve found that it’s all too easy to get into a rut of a grain tossed with some beans and a quick olive oil and vinegar dressing, and before I know it, every single one of my lunches is either brown rice with lentils or chickpeas with couscous. I wanted a recipes with fresh flavors that was just as simple to put together as a traditional grain salad.


This recipe for coconut quinoa fits the bill. Florets of cauliflower are caramelized in a little coconut oil before being simmered with a thai-curry inspired sauce of coconut milk, curry paste, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, lime juice, and sriracha that strikes the balance between creamy textures and bold, spicy flavors. As a finishing touch, a few cilantro leaves are sprinkled on top to brighten up the dish. Try this dish next time you need a new idea for lunch or dinner that doesn’t take all day to prepare, and in under 30 minutes you can sit down to a flavorful meal or have all your lunches for the week packed and ready to go.


Coconut Quinoa with Cauliflower and Curry

Serves 4-6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed

3 cups water

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-2 inch florets

¼ cup water

1 cup light coconut milk

1 garlic clove, minced

2 teaspoons curry paste (green or red Thai curry paste)

1 tablespoon lime juice

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 teaspoon sriracha

Cilantro leaves, to garnish

  1. Combine the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, then simmer for 15-17 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Alternatively, place the quinoa and water in a rice cooker and cook on the white rice setting. Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, transfer to a large bowl, and set aside.
  2. Place the coconut oil in a large nonstick skillet and turn the burner to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cauliflower and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the cauliflower has begun to caramelize. Add the water and reduce heat to medium-low, then cook for 4-6 more minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and the water is evaporated.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together the coconut milk, garlic, curry paste, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, and sriracha in a small bowl. Add the coconut mixture to the cooked cauliflower and toss to combine, then let simmer for 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Pour the cauliflower mixture over the quinoa and toss to combine. Place in individual bowls and garnish with a few cilantro leaves.

Click here for a printable version of this recipe!

Note: Vegetable oil can be substituted for the coconut oil. If you would like to add additional garnishes, top with a few crispy fried shallots and some toasted, unsweetened coconut.

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Feta

I don’t know about you, but I’m sometimes intimidated by kale. After all, it scores a perfect 1000 on the ANDI scale, is packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, and C, has lots of iron, calcium, zinc, iodine, and magnesium, and according to a new advertising campaign, is more pretentious than broccoli. I rarely prepare kale because cooked greens are often limp and soggy and eating raw kale is akin to chewing on a large piece of green plastic. Still, I refused to give up on kale because it has so many of the nutrients that are crucial for vegetarians.

After some research, I kept seeing recipes for massaged kale salad pop up. The idea behind massaged kale salads it that you simply take a large pile of raw kale and rub a flavorful dressing into it until the kale reduces in volume and becomes tender enough to eat.

I wanted the salad to have some substance to it, so while the massaged kale was marinating in its dressing, I roasted some chickpeas and sliced red onion in a cast iron skillet with olive oil and paprika. In a hot oven, the chickpeas crisp up and have a toothsome texture that nicely offsets the now-tender kale leaves. A little bit of diced feta cheese added a salty contrast to the salad.

This is an excellent salad for lunch, especially since it can be dressed a few hours before it needs to be served. With all of the holiday parties approaching, it is an excellent dish to bring to offset some of the more indulgent dishes. It converted me to raw kale, something which I thought couldn’t be done. I will say, though, that this will make a kale-lover out of anyone who already generally likes vegetables—if the sight of greenery is frightening to you, I would suggest starting your vegetable journey with something a little milder, like a loaf of carrot-cake bread or zucchini waffles. For all of the salad lovers out there, bust out of your romaine and spinach rut and give this one a try.


Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Feta

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ of a small red onion, thinly sliced

1, 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with a paper towel

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon salt

8 oz. raw kale, ribs removed and torn into bite-sized pieces

2 oz. feta cheese, diced into small cubes

Dressing

4 teaspoons olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F and heat the olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion and chickpeas and sauté for 2 minutes, until the onion has started to soften. Add the paprika and the salt, and toss to combine. Spread the chickpeas into an even layer, and place the pan in the preheated oven and let the chickpeas roast for 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  2. While the chickpeas roast, place the kale in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, then pour them over the kale. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale until the kale begins to break down and soften. It should decrease in volume by about 1/3. Let the kale sit at room temperature to soften while the chickpeas finish roasting.
  3. Once the chickpeas are finished, remove them from the pan and place them on top of the kale along with the diced feta. Toss to combine thoroughly, then serve.

Note: Interested in making this vegan? Omit the feta, but add some other salad topping to add a salty, textural contrast to the kale. Try ½ cup of kalamata olives, or ½ cup of salted, roasted pecans.

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