Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Easy Baked Tostones

Tostones always remind me of the first time I ever tried Cuban food. I ordered these as an appetizer that day, and let’s just say that I have never been the same since. Crispy, salty plantains dipped in all kinds of amazing sauces? Yes, please. 

So when I was grocery shopping the other day and happened upon some lovely green plantains, I knew what I had to do. I didn’t really want to make a huge mess deep-frying plantains (plus it’s nearly bikini season – T-Minus 2 days to be exact), so I opted for the baked version instead. If you are doubting the yumminess of baked tostones, try these. They are SO good. Dunk them in some guacamole, aioli, aji verde, or whatever makes you happy, and you’ll be a happy camper. 

Ingredients:

2 green (unripe) plantains

4 Tbsp. avocado oil

Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

Peel plantains by cutting off both ends and then slicing vertically to remove the skin. You may need to use a spoon to separate the plantain from the peel. 

Slice the plantains into rounds that are about 1 inch thick each. Toss them with 2 Tbsp. of oil and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Take the plantains out of the oven and then smash each one with the bottom of a glass until they are flattened. Toss with 2 Tbsp. of oil, add sea salt to the tops, and bake for 15 more minutes, or until lightly toasted and crispy. 

Enjoy hot with guacamole, aioli, aji verde, or any other yummy dip you like!

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Crispy Tofu with Peanut Sauce

There’s nothing quite as tasty as crispy fried tofu in a delicious sauce. I know, I know. Some of you claim that tofu sucks, but I am positive you say that because you have never had really well-prepared tofu. I don’t care if you’re the meatiest meat-lover out there, if you tasted this tofu you’d love it. The person serving it to you might have to blindfold you and lie about what they’re putting into your mouth, but you’d love it. If you’re one of those people who just won’t try tofu, open your mind (and your mouth) to this version, and you might change your outlook.

This crispy, peanutty, sweet and salty tofu with peanut sauce is unbelievably yummy. It’s full of all of the good flavors, like garlic, onions, peanut butter, a little sweetness, a little tang . . . and perfectly cooked tofu that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The veggies can easily be changed if these ones aren’t your thing, and you can add some hot peppers or sriracha if you need a little heat in your day. 

Ingredients:

1 package of extra-firm tofu (pressed and cut into cubes – see below)

2 Tbsp. avocado or vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. cornstarch

Salt and pepper

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

Two-Minute Peanut Sauce

Cilantro, chopped (for topping) 

About 30 minutes before cooking, drain the tofu, wrap it in a kitchen towel and press it. You can do this by placing a plate on top of the tofu, and then a heavy item, like a stock pot, on top of the plate for about 10 minutes. This will help remove excess water from the tofu before you cut them into cubes.

In the meantime, prepare the peanut sauce. 

Place the cornstarch on a plate, along with a large pinch of salt and pepper. Lightly coat the you pieces in the cornstarch. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Make sure the oil is very hot before you add the tofu. Cook the tofu, turning occasionally, until all sides are browned and crispy. Set aside on a plate. 

In the same pan, cook the onions and peppers until soft, 3-5 minutes. Add the peanut sauce to the skillet, along with the tofu, and heat through quickly so that the tofu stays crispy. 

Top with cilantro and serve immediately with rice, noodles, or anything that makes you happy!

Categories
Sauces/Dressings/Broth Vegan

Two-Minute Peanut Sauce

Peanut sauce: the dip, dressing, sauce, topping from heaven. This stuff adds so much love and flavor to everything from chicken satay skewers to spring rolls to salad – in other words, pretty much anything that needs a sweet, salty, and savory taste elevation can benefit from a hefty drizzle of peanut sauce. 

This version of peanut sauce, while not purely traditional Thai (because it doesn’t contain coconut milk), is delicious and simple. It requires no cooking and is ready in two minutes. I love having this sauce around the house often to use as a dip for veggies, salad dressing and sauce for quick weeknight noodle and stir fry meals. Try it, and it will likely become a staple in your house too.

Ingredients:

½ c. smooth peanut butter

2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

3 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

3 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. agave

2 cloves of garlic

1 inch cube of ginger

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Categories
Soups Vegan Vegetarian

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

I’m seriously questioning why on May 11 it’s still soup weather, but alas, it definitely is. As I sit here writing this, there is a blanket of snow on the ground and it’s mighty cold outside. 

I’m a bit disappointed in the weather today, but I am certainly not disappointed in the lovely roasted tomato and red pepper soup that I had for lunch. The roasting vegetables in the oven warmed my home, and the soup warmed my body and improved my attitude. The depth of flavor that results from roasting tomatoes, red peppers, onions, and garlic, all covered in herbs, is outstanding. This soup is also very healthy and filling – and just perfect for a cold day.

Ingredients:

6-7 roma tomatoes, quartered

1 red onion, sliced

2 red bell peppers, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, whole (skins removed)

2 tsp. thyme

2 tsp. oregano 

2 tsp. basil 

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 ½ c. chicken or vegetable broth 

2 Tbsp. tomato sauce

2 tsp. sugar

Salt and pepper

Top with cream, Parmesan, basil and/or fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. 

Place all of the vegetables on a lined baking sheet and rub olive oil all over them. Season with thyme, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. 

Remove the veggies and allow them to cool a bit. Add the veggies, broth, tomato sauce, and sugar to a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the soup into a pot, heat through, and serve.

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Mexican Black Beans

Black beans are amazing. Not only do they taste delicious, they are tiny nutritional powerhouses. Black beans are full of fiber, protein, and folate, and they’re low on the glycemic index. Some studies claim that frequently eating beans can help weight loss and maintenance. Pass the beans!

These black beans are savory and yummy, and are the perfect side dish for a Mexican meal. I like to serve these beans with tacos, inside of burritos, or in a burrito bowl. This recipe takes very little effort, but really elevates your meals to a new and yummy level.

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

3 cloves of garlic, minced

½ c. onion, diced

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

¼ c. cilantro, chopped

Salt to taste

Serve topped with cotija cheese, if desired

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the beans, cumin, and chili powder and cook for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat. 

Season with salt to taste. Add the cilantro and stir to combine. Serve immediately.

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Easy Cilantro-Lime Rice

I love cilantro-lime rice because it’s simple, but tastier than plain ol’ rice. Because of its light flavor profile, it shines as a side item in Mexican meals but is versatile enough to serve with anything from kabobs to grilled fish. 

I like to use basmati rice for this particular rice recipe because it is lighter in the starch category and won’t get sticky. The light and fluffy basmati combined with the fresh flavor of cilantro and zesty lime is just like what you’d get at your favorite burrito place, only better. 

Ingredients:

1 c. basmati rice

2 c. water or broth

½ c. cilantro, chopped

Juice from 1 lime

2 tsp. olive oil

Salt to taste 

Cook the rice according to package directions. 

Scoop the rice into a large serving bowl. Add cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Add salt to taste, stir again, and serve.

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic and Herbs

Here I am with another “less is more” recipe. These classic roasted red potatoes with garlic and herbs are very simple and take minutes to prep. They aren’t fancy or full of innovative ingredients – because they are just perfect without all of the fancy upgrades. In other words, these potatoes are natural beauties. No makeup or filters needed. 

Ingredients: 

1.5 lb. red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ c. olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. rosemary

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (save 1 Tbsp. for garnish)

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, except for the salt and pepper. Mix together to combine. Spread out the potatoes on a lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and golden brown. Top with additional parsley for garnish.

Categories
Sauces/Dressings/Broth Vegan Vegetarian

Perfectly Chunky Guacamole

The secret to awesome guacamole is to mash the avocado with a fork so that there are some good chunks left in the avocado. So many people tend to over-mash those green beauties and they end up a bit thin and frankly, not as fun to eat or as easy to scoop up with chips. And who am I kidding . . . the more guac I can scoop onto one chip, the better! Am I right?

Ingredients:

3 avocados, ripe

1 roma tomato, diced

½ c. cilantro, chopped

Juice from 2 limes

4 green onions, chopped (or ¼ c. chopped white onions)

1 serrano or jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed (omit if you don’t like spice) 

Salt to taste

Cut the avocados lengthwise, remove the pits, and scrape the flesh out with a spoon into a bowl. Mash with a fork, leaving some chunks of avocado. 

Add the lime, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro. Season with salt and mix together. Serve immediately. 

Categories
Sauces/Dressings/Broth Vegan Vegetarian

Lightning-Fast Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is one of those no-nonsense, simple, classic foods that is delightfully tasty, fresh, and basically makes everything it touches turn to flavor gold. I always feel a little tear rising up in my eye when I see someone buying pre-made pico at the store because it takes about 2 minutes to make fresh, and much better, pico at home.

In my version of pico de gallo, I choose to squeeze out the excess water that is produced from chopping the veggies before serving because who wants soggy tacos? I also opt for green onions because I enjoy the milder flavor, but feel free to sub out stronger onions if that’s your thing. Either way, it’s going to be so much better than someone else’s pre-made pico. 

Ingredients:

4-5 large tomatoes

1 bunch green onions (or 1 cup white onion) 

Juice from 2 limes

½ cup fresh cilantro

1 jalapeno or serrano, ribs and seeds removed

Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients except for the salt into a food processor. Pulse very quickly until the ingredients are finely chopped. Remove the blade from the food processor and set a bowl to the side. Scoop up the pico with your hands one handful at a time and gently squeeze out the excess liquid. Place the squeezed pico into the bowl. Repeat. Season with salt to taste and for best results, let the pico rest for 30 minutes prior to serving. 

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Roasted red pepper hummus is one of the best snacks on the planet. It’s so satisfying, flavorful and good for you. It’s so easy to pick up a tub of hummus while you’re at the store, but it’s really simple to make it at home. Once you make the switch to homemade hummus, there’s just no going back. 

The secret to making a high-quality roasted red pepper hummus is roasting your own red peppers. Sure, you can buy a jar of roasted red peppers and it’s slightly easier – but it’s not even remotely the same, and waaaay more expensive. Roasting your own peppers only takes about 15 minutes and the taste is leaps and bounds better than the jarred version. This smooth and creamy hummus is full of all of the savory flavors of the original, straightforward version of hummus, but showcases an added sweetness and subtle charred taste of the red peppers. It’s delicious paired with chicken, pita bread, grilled veggies, or by the spoonful. 

Ingredients: 

1 red bell pepper

1 Tbsp. olive oil (for the peppers)

¼ c. tahini, well stirred

Juice from 1 large lemon

1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans

1 garlic clove

2 Tbsp. olive oil (for the hummus)

1 tsp. cumin

Salt to taste

2 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the red bell pepper in half lengthwise, discard the seeds, stem, and membrane, and rub olive oil all of the outside and inside of the pepper. Place the peppers face down on a lined baking sheet. Bake until the pepper is soft and slightly charred, about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Then, remove the skin. It should come off easily. 

Put tahini and lemon juice into the food processor and process for about 1 minute, or until smooth. Add red peppers, olive oil, garlic, cumin and process again for about 30 seconds. Add the drained garbanzo beans and process for 1-2 minutes, or until very smooth. Add water, 1 Tbsp. at time, if the hummus is too thick. Process again for 30 seconds. Add salt to taste. Serve in a bowl, drizzled in a little olive oil, and top with paprika and fresh parsley – or feta cheese if you’d like!