Categories
Sides Vegetarian

Savory Ancient Grains with Sweet Potato, Kale and Goat Cheese

Traditional Thanksgiving side dishes are amazing, I’m not gonna lie, but sometimes it’s good to mix it up a bit. This delightfully warm, healthy dish featuring savory ancient grains, sweet potato, kale, and goat cheese combines all of fall’s loveliest ingredients into one eye-and-palate-pleasing side dish that is sure to wow your guests. 

If mixing up Thanksgiving sides isn’t your jam, this lovely dish makes a wonderful side to any meal or is equally good served up as a main dish for a healthy, hearty lunch. However you choose to serve this, it will make you feel thankful. 

Ingredients:

¾ c. ancient grains, uncooked

1 ½ c. chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 c. kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice from ½ lemon

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the diced sweet potatoes on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. 

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cook the ancient grains according to package directions using the chicken broth in place of water. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside. 

In a large serving bowl, mix together the ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and kale. Toss to combine. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the goat cheese crumbles. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and serve warm. 

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Takeout-Style Veggie Lo Mein Noodles

Next time you’re craving Chinese takeout, try to remember that this recipe exists. Before you pick up the phone to order delivery, stop and think. Do you really want to spend money ordering something that you can make yourself that will (seriously) taste every bit as delicious as the lo mein from your neighborhood Chinese restaurant AND will be ready in less time than the delivery person could possibly make it to your house?  Of course not, silly! 

This takeout-style lo mein is so yummy and is packed with healthy veggies. The noodles are bathed in a truly delicious sauce, and these lo mein noodles genuinely taste just like the ones you get at Chinese restaurants, thanks to the dark soy sauce and hefty dose of garlic and ginger. Don’t skip the dark soy sauce. It’s one of the Chinese cooks’ best secrets. Enjoy!

Ingredients:  

Noodles:

1 8 oz. package of lo mein noodles or vegan lo mein noodles

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 bunch green onions, sliced

½ c. shredded carrots

2 c. cabbage, chopped

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Sauce:

2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce

1 Tbsp. light soy sauce

2 tsp. sriracha sauce (or more if you like)

1 inch knob of ginger, minced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. sugar

Cook the noodles according to package directions. Rinse with cold water (to prevent sticking), drain and set aside. 

Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil over medium high heat in a large wok or skillet. Add the bell pepper, cabbage, and carrots and cook until they are soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the green onions and cook for about 2 more minutes. 

Add the noodles to the wok and pour in the sauce. Cook, tossing and mixing continuously, until the garlic and ginger are fragrant. Serve immediately!

Categories
Appetizers Sides Vegetarian

Homemade Takeout-Style Veggie Egg Rolls

Just because you’re having a craving for egg rolls does not mean that you have to order takeout. It’s quite easy to prepare your own egg rolls at home, using fresh ingredients. This version of homemade egg rolls happens to be veggie-based and does not contain any meat, but you could easily add ground pork, chopped chicken or diced shrimp to the cabbage mixture for a protein boost. Obviously adding meat is your choice, but I don’t feel these egg rolls really need it because these are so delicious dipped in Chinese mustard sans meat. Mmmm. 

Be advised, though, that you must use a deep, heavy frying skillet in order to be covered in gruesome-looking, polka-dot burns all over your arm and face. I made the mistake of using a more shallow skillet because I was too lazy to dig out the “big gun” cast iron skillet. Trust me, the burns really hurt and I look like I have leprosy, so don’t go there. Other than that little mishap, making these egg rolls was super easy and they were absolutely divine. 

Ingredients:

1 package of egg roll wrappers

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 16 oz. bag of coleslaw mix 

½ onion, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1-2 c. vegetable oil (for frying)

Small cup of water

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the coleslaw mix, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool in a bowl until you can handle it (but not too long because you don’t want the cabbage to get mushy). 

To fill the egg rolls, place each egg roll wrapper on a flat surface. Place the cabbage mixture in the center. Brush the edges of the egg roll wrapper with water. Fold the sides in and roll like a burrito. Set the egg rolls aside as you continue the process with the rest of the eggrolls. Be sure to lay them side by side, as they will stick together if you try to place them on top of each other. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep cast iron skillet over medium high heat. The oil should be about 350 degrees. Place 4-5 egg rolls at a time in the oil and cook until crispy and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Place the egg rolls on a wire rack or paper towels on a plate. 

Serve with Chinese mustard, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce!

Categories
Pasta Vegetarian

Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake with Fresh Mozzarella

Now that it’s fall and it’s starting to get dark earlier, I am in full comfort food-craving mode. All I can think about is rich, satisfying, warm meals that make me feel cozy and smell amazing while they’re cooking. There’s something so special about eating a comforting meal with a glass of wine and your loved ones after work. Maybe even – gasp- in front of the TV, with a blanket on your lap. Heaven. Hey, we eat at the table most of the time, so a little TV time is an indulgence once in a while.

This creamy tomato pasta bake with fresh mozzarella is one of those meals that you think about all day at work before you even make it because you know it’s going to be so good. It’s rich, flavorful, and oh-so-cozy. Just writing about this meal makes me want to make it again.  

Ingredients:

1 lb. rigatoni pasta

2 c. marinara sauce

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 c. heavy whipping cream

8 oz. fresh mozzarella, sliced

¼ c. Parmesan cheese, grated

2 c. chopped tomatoes or cherry tomatoes

2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and place the pasta in a large baking dish. 

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the marinara sauce, tomato paste, and fresh tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes become soft, about 6-7 minutes. Add cream and season with salt and pepper. Stir, and heat through quickly. 

Pour the sauce into the baking dish with the pasta and mix thoroughly so that the sauce and pasta are well combined. Top with mozzarella slices and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbly. Top with fresh oregano, serve, and enjoy!

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Coconut Curry with Chickpeas and Zucchini

In today’s episode of the overly-scheduled teacher/mom/friend show, our heroine (me, of course) needs to whip up a delicious, healthy, and lightning-fast dinner. Something that can be eaten between school pickups, volleyball games, high-school football games, homework, and all of the other craziness that goes on when school is in full swing. Enter this amazing vegan coconut curry with chickpeas and zucchini. It’s scrumptious and ready to eat in under 30 minutes. 

Not only is this meal incredibly easy to prepare, it’s healthy, warm, and is even more delicious the next day when you get to eat it for lunch. Who says leftovers aren’t the best thing ever? Not me! Just don’t tell my kids or they’ll start taking my secret stash of amazing leftovers. 

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. coconut oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

2 tomatoes, pureed 

1 Tbsp. garam masala

1 tsp. turmeric

½  tsp. cayenne pepper

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 15 oz. can of coconut milk

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas

1 small zucchini, cut into small pieces

Salt to taste

Serve with:

Lime wedges

Chopped cilantro

Steamed basmati rice

Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook, being sure to stir frequently, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Add the garam masala, turmeric, cayenne, and black pepper and cook for 30 seconds. 

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomatoes and stir until combined. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft. Stir in the coconut milk and combine. Add the chickpeas and zucchini, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes so that the flavors and meld together. Season with salt to taste. 

Serve with steamed rice, lime wedges, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Categories
Vegetarian

Easy Palak Paneer

I used to think that palak paneer was some sort of magical meal I could only get at a proper Indian restaurant. I never imagined that I could make this incredibly delicious vegetarian meal at home in very little time and with so little effort. I’m not sure why I used to think this meal would be so difficult to get “just right,” but after many rounds of practice (and admittedly, some failures), I think I’ve got it! 

This recipe for palak paneer includes a subtle blend of decidedly-Indian spices, fresh, bright green spinach, salty paneer, and plenty of flavor-boosting add-ins, like onions, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger. All of these items married together make the most yummy meal that leaves behind just enough sauce to soak up with some fresh naan. Yes, please. 

Ingredients:

6 cups of fresh spinach leaves

3 Tbsp. butter or ghee

2 small onions, pureed

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

2 tomatoes, pureed

1 tsp. cumin seeds

2 tsp. coriander

2 tsp. garam masala

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 c. paneer, cut into cubes

Salt to taste

1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Boil water in a large pot. Add the spinach leaves and blanch for one minute, or until the leaves are soft and bright green. Remove the spinach and drain. Then, puree the spinach in a food processor until it is smooth. Set the spinach aside in a bowl.

Puree the onions in a food processor and set aside in a bowl. Puree the tomatoes and set aside in a bowl. 

Heat the butter or ghee in a large skillet and add the cumin seeds. Add the pureed onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they are lightly browned. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for one more minute. 

Add the pureed tomatoes, coriander, garam masala, cumin, and cayenne. Stir and simmer on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Add the pureed spinach and stir to combine. Season with salt to taste. Then, add the cubed paneer and cook until it is soft, about 2-3 minutes. 

Remove from the heat and stir in the heavy cream. 

Serve with basmati rice, naan, and additional heavy cream, drizzled on top, if desired. 

Categories
Vegan Vegetarian

Sesame Tofu with Steamed Broccoli

This healthy, baked version of sesame tofu is perfect for those hectic weeknights when you need to come up with a dinner that is both simple-to-make and tasty. In this version of sesame tofu, no animal-based products are included in the recipe, making it an all-vegan meal that is substantial, flavor-packed, and super satisfying.

Ingredients:

Baked tofu:

2 blocks of extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into cubes

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. corn starch

Sesame Sauce:

½. soy sauce or tamari

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. maple syrup 

¼ c. rice vinegar

¼ c. water

1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce

2 Tbsp. corn starch

2 tsp. sesame oil 

Serve with:

Steamed rice 

Steamed broccoli

Green onions

Sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 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. 

Cut the tofu into cubes and place them in a large glass bowl. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, corn starch, and mix together carefully with your hands. Spread the tofu cubes evenly on a lined baking sheet and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until browned and crispy. 

Combine the soy sauce, maple syrup, garlic, rice vinegar and sriracha in a large skillet and allow it to simmer. Combine the water and corn starch in a small bowl and combine to make a slurry. Add the mixture to the sauce in the skillet and simmer for 1-2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the sesame oil and remove from heat. 

Toss the baked tofu in the sesame sauce until it is coated. Serve with rice, steamed broccoli, green onions, and sesame seeds. 

Categories
Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Classic Provençal Ratatouille

Ratatouille is an old-school French dish that is made of stewed late-summer vegetables and served with crusty, country bread. It’s comforting, rich, and harkens back to a time when slow-cooked food was the norm. Ratatouille is what your French grandma would have made especially for you as a child because she knew you loved it, even though it took a very long time and lots of labor to make. 

The traditional method of cooking ratatouille requires the slow cooking of each ingredient in separate pans in order to cook each ingredient perfectly. Those ingredients are then combined and stewed together to meld the flavors. You can imagine that this process is extremely time-consuming and requires constant babysitting. Ain’t nobody got time for that in today’s world.

My version of ratatouille deviates a bit from the traditional method because I roast the veggies and then allow them to stew together. The result is a balanced and delicious ratatouille that takes much less time and attention to prepare, which is always a good thing. I think grandma would actually approve. 

Ingredients:

5 large heirloom tomatoes

1 medium eggplant, or two small, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 large yellow squash, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and pulse them in a food processor until they are saucy, but still a bit chunky (think the consistency of a chunky salsa). 

Place the eggplant on one baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash on the other baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place both baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. 

While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, organo, rosemary and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to low, and allow the sauce to simmer. 

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir. Place them back into the oven, and cook the eggplant for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Remove the eggplant and add to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. 

Roast the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash for another 10 minutes while the sauce simmers. Remove from the oven and add to the sauce. Allow the ratatouille to simmer for 10 more minutes so that all of the flavors can meld together nicely. 

Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a little olive oil. 

Serve in a bowl topped with Parmesan with a baguette, on top of polenta, or mixed into pasta.  

Categories
Breakfast Vegetarian

Shiitake Mushroom and Goat Cheese Quiche

This earthy and rustic shiitake mushroom quiche is positively dreamy, and it will have you fantasizing about it like a teenage crush for a long time after the pie plate is empty. The difference, thankfully, is that you won’t have the agony of waiting for your crush to text you back. You can just go back to the store and buy the ingredients, and the obsession can continue without the anxiety of waiting by the phone. Can you tell I have teen daughters?

The depth of the shiitakes are enhanced by the luscious, slightly caramelized shallots, onions, and garlic. The delicate and creamy quiche envelops the beautiful ingredients with its soft warmth and is freckled so perfectly with the crumbled goat cheese. All of that loveliness is cradled by a flaky pastry shell. In my humble opinion, some of the earth’s most special ingredients are all wrapped up in one dish. 

For a complete meal, serve with a lightly-dressed salad and a baguette. 

Ingredients:

1 pre-made pie crust (store bought or using recipe below)

6 eggs, beaten

1 c. whole milk or heavy cream

1 c. creme fraiche 

2 shallots, sliced

2 green onions, sliced

1 clove of garlic, minced

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbles

2 c. shiitake mushrooms, chopped

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper

Pastry:

1 ½ c. all purpose flour

8 Tbsp.unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small squares

5 Tbsp. cold water

Pinch of sea salt

In a food processor, mix the flour and salt. Then, add the butter pieces evenly throughout the bowl of the food processor. Process, using pulses, until the butter is mixed into the flour and the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add water and pulse until the pastry forms large clumps. Take the pastry out of the food processor and roll it out on a floured surface. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and add the shallots. Cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Add the green onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat. 

Place the pie crust in a lightly greased pie pan. Sprinkle mushroom mixture and goat cheese into the bottom.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, milk and creme fraiche. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure the mixture is well mixed and is smooth. Pour into the pie pan over the mushrooms and goat cheese. 

Bake until the quiche is cooked in the center and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (about 30-40 minutes). Check if often, as nothing ruins a quiche faster than overcooking the eggs! Let the quiche rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Categories
Salads Vegetarian

Armenian Jajukh (Cucumber Yogurt Salad)

Armenian cucumbers are popping up in American gardens more and more, which is very exciting because they are delicious and easy to grow. These funny-looking, light green, floppy “cucumbers” are not really cucumbers at all. They may resemble super-long cucumbers in appearance and taste, but they are actually members of the muskmelon family. Armenian cucumbers taste a lot like a combination of a crispy cucumber and a fresh, sweet-ish melon. They are truly special. 

Because these fruits are so cool and refreshing, they are very popular in Armenia and other middle eastern locations. Most often, Armenian cucumbers are mixed into a garlicky yogurt sauce and served alongside grilled foods or as a light, healthy snack. This recipe for traditional Armenian jajukh combines all of the best elements of sweet, salty, briny, and refreshing flavors  to result in a simple, tasty salad that can be enjoyed by all. 

Ingredients: 

1 Armenian cucumber (make sure to remove the skin and scrape out the seeds) or English cucumber

2 Tbsp Greek or Bulgarian yogurt

1 small clove of garlic, minced

2 tsp. fresh mint or 1 tsp dried mint

Pinch of salt

Mix together all ingredients in a large serving bowl. Season with salt, chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, and serve.