This is a multi-purpose, make-ahead staple that’s perfect year-round since it can be served hot or cold! I make large batches of caponata because it can be used so many different ways. I’ve tried numerous recipes over the years, and the one below contains elements from the different recipes that make it my favorite. Pictured are wanton shells filled with chilled caponata and topped with herbed goat cheese. Other ideas for cold/room temperature dishes: spread on top of crostini (sprinkle crumbled feta on top), as a sandwich spread, in a wrap, and as a dip. Ideas for hot dishes: use it as a chunky pasta sauce (topped with Parmesan of course!), place a spoonful on top of small squares of puff pastry and then bake, serve hot over quinoa/cous cous. In fall, when tomatoes are not very good, I replace them with butternut squash and it’s amazing!
One of the few things from Costco that I don’t need help going through is their 1.5 lb box of cremini mushrooms. Roasting the mushrooms seems to concentrate the flavors and make them extra satisfying. I like this recipe because its easy and uses ingredients I usually have in the house. A pound and a half of mushrooms sounds like a lot, but they seem to disappear quickly! There are so many ways to use these garlicy roasted mushrooms (e.g., as a side dish, with mashed potatoes, chopped up in wraps or a pasta dish, tossed in omelettes, plain, etc.)
I tried Trader Joe’s Baked Sriracha Tofu a few weeks ago and loved it! It’s so versatile and totally changes the flavor of salads, sandwiches, stir fry, etc. Some days, I just end up snacking on it straight. However, I found myself adding a little more spice and sesame oil to the dishes I used it in… so why not make my own version at home?! The recipe below has become a staple in my fridge since it’s so easy to prepare in a big batch and use throughout the week. As an aside, I use the marinade left over from this recipe to make a stir fry sauce by dissolving 1/2 tsp of cornstarch in it and then cooking it on medium heat until it thickens and doesn’t have the whitish color from uncooked cornstarch.
This is a quick and simple crust that I use as the base for tarts/pies. I love the texture because you can press it thin, and when it’s finished, it still holds together, but is crumbly and easy to cut with you fork/spoon. It’s also neutral (no sugar, pinch of salt), so it can be used for both sweet and savory tarts. You can also add flavors to the crust if you want (cocoa powder, Italian seasoning, etc.). The recipe below makes a thin crust for 2 4-inch tart tins or a medium thick crust for 1 6-inch tart tin. You can scale up as needed for bigger tarts.
Thanks to my vegetable spiralizer, this whole dish took less than 10 minutes! Spiralized zucchini is an awesome substitute for spaghetti. I like it in light sauces that don’t weigh down the zucchini. The best part of this dish is that it is so versatile. I used basil to add flavor since it’s growing on my balcony, but mint, oregano, rosemary, etc would also taste great. You can also add chopped nuts (pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, etc) if you want more flavor and texture.
My Hungry Harvest box this week contained a gigantic, healthy head of cabbage. I couldn’t bear the idea of shredding it, so I decided to try making cabbage rolls. In my ongoing quest to avoid carbs, the giant cabbage leaves made a perfect wrapper for one of my favorite quinoa fillings. The recipe below looks labor-intensive (and it it is!), but it’s also easily modifiable to make a quick weekday dinner. I’d consider the recipe below more of a technique than a hard-and-fast recipe. You can use your favorite tomato sauce instead of making the one below. You can also stuff the cabbage rolls with leftovers!
Every now and then (especially after I get back from traveling), I just don’t have the produce I need to make a full meal. Luckily, I keep an assortment of sauces, stocks, and gravies in my freezer for these occasions! I normally make karela with onions, garlic, and tomatoes. But, since I had none of these in my kitchen, I decided to use a Coconut-Tamarind Gravy instead (it has onions, garlic, tomatoes and much more!).
This recipe is one of my staples. I love the tartness of the tamarind, the creaminess of the cashews, and the tropical feel of the coconut. I’m posting this as it’s own recipe because it really is worth making a double batch and keeping it on hand for a quick meal. You can add this gravy to fully cooked veggies and it makes them so much more satisfying! I like to go on the drier side when i use it in dishes, but you can thin it out with a little water when you add it to veggies to make it more saucy.
I was traveling for work the last few weeks and totally in withdrawal from not being able to cook. Luckily, my Hungry Harvest box this week had some awesome fresh ingredients like yellow squash, tomatoes, cilantro, and green bell peppers. They looked so tender and colorful, that I wanted to use them as soon as possible. To make the dish more balanced and filling, I added edamame and soya flour chunks (Nutrela).
One of the best things about getting fresh produce boxes is the surprise of finding what is inside and thinking of how to combine them in new ways. My food box this week contained a ton of fresh thyme and a pound of rainbow carrots so I decided to make some savory roasted carrots to use in dishes throughout the week.
Moussaka is a Greek dish that involves eggplant, potatoes, a tomato-based sauce, and sometimes a white sauce on top. Beyond that, it seems like everywhere that I’ve had moussaka, it tastes completely different. So I figured if anything goes, I may as well work on my own version. To keep it healthy, I grill the veggies instead of frying them. I like tasting all the veggies individually, so I cut them on the thicker side and do two layers of them. I also like multiple textures, so I use eggplant, zucchini, and potatoes. For a slightly Indian twist, I add red lentils (masoor daal) to the sauce to give it more body and protein (and it becomes a complete meal for me).
It does take a lot of time to prepare because there are multiple components, but the good news is that you can do most of it ahead of time. Actually, I prefer to make it the day before to let all the flavors meld ans let the layers settle down. The day of serving, I pull it out so it comes to room temperature and then bake is as described below.
The first time I had quinoa risotto was in a Peruvian restaurant, and I loved the creaminess and texture. It paired my love of risotto with my love of quinoa, and has the added benefit of being a healthier dish. This was a first time experiment, and I really like how it came out. Peas and asparagus are in season, so I decided to make it a green themed dish. Continue reading →
This post doesn’t have recipes, just ideas. A little bit of this… a little bit of that… and suddenly I have a vat of spicy, chunky chili! Far more than I can eat at once. Luckily, chili freezes well. The list below is how I used up all my leftovers…. If anyone else has ideas, please share! As a side note, I think I’m always going to make extra now. =)
I realized that I use pesto in a bunch of my recipes, but never actually posted a recipe. Surprising, since I consider this a staple. It a quick way to make an okay meal taste special (pasta, sandwich spread, soup, grilled veggies, etc). Adding the other greens keeps the color nice and bright, and adds some additional flavors. Also, if I don’t have pine nuts, I substitute cashews and it still tastes good. This sauce also freezes well, so I often make extra and keep it.
I made a big batch of quinoa earlier in the week, and I have some left over today. I was in the mood for a quiche, but didn’t feel like wrestling with a pastry crust (it’s hit or miss for me…). Since the quinoa was ready to go, I decided to try a quinoa crust. Surprisingly, it worked on the first try and was really easy to make. I filled the crust with a mushroom, ramp, and basil quiche (recipe to follow).
I’ve never had meatloaf, so I can’t say how much this represents the original, but I really like it! It’s relatively easy to make and feels satisfying. The base is lentils, oatmeal, tomato sauce, and flax. You can vary the veggies too- sometimes I add spinach or corn.
In my attempt to avoid white rice, I’m switching to brown rice. I actually really like the texture of brown rice. However, sometimes I want it to have more flavor so that I can eat it as a side dish. I call this recipe “basic” since I consider it a side dish or a base for a multitude of other recipes. I have been eating it with soup to make the meal more filling. However, you can also toss in sauteed veggies. Mix in scrambled egg, edamame, and sriracha sauce to make it taste Asian. Saute with tomatoes, mushrooms, oregano and parsley to make it taste Italian. Mix in fajita seasoning, bell peppers, and corn to make it taste Mexican. You get the idea- experiment away!
Continuing my pumpkin craze… This is for when I want a savory pumpkin dish instead of a sweet one. I wanted to mix the Indian in me with my love of pumpkins – and this is the result. I played with the spices and gravy a lot and settled on the recipe below. Please note that there is a HUGE variation in the ingredients and proportions of “curry powder” and “garam masala” from brand to brand. I have used Trader Joe’s curry powder and Penzey’s garam masala before. But, I would use the brands that you like the flavor of since the spices are what gives this shaak it’s character. Honestly, the hardest park of this recipe is cutting up the pumpkin.
It’s pumpkin season!!!! I made homemade pumpkin pulp and have been tossing it in to all kinds of recipes. One of my favorites is this spin on mac and cheese- I love how it feels more hearty and substantial in fall with all the “warm” spices… I tried this a couple of different ways, and finally settled on the recipe below.
Until last year, I always used to buy pumpkin pulp from the store, and I’ll admit, I still do if I’m craving pumpkin dishes and don’t have a real pumpkin on-hand. However, now, if I plan ahead, I prefer to buy my own pumpkin and cook it. It feels like the epitome of fall to go to a farmer’s market and pick out a pumpkin to bring home. I like using pie pumpkins because I find that they have less seeds and less stringy flesh. Don’t be intimidated- the toughest part is cutting the pumpkin in half… =)
I realized today that I use roasted red peppers all over my blog, and haven’t actually described how to roast them at home. I put “roasted” in quotes since these are actually broiled (not sure what the difference is). The first time I roasted the peppers, I was really careful not to burn it. Turns out, it actually tastes better if you completely blacken it! You can buy ready-made roasted peppers from the store, but I prefer roasting them at home. It’s fun and I find that it tastes more flavorful to me.
The last of my Valentine’s Day posts… and probably my favorite. It’s light and easy to make ahead of time. I broiled the veggies ahead of time, and then just baked it for 10 mins right before serving. I used a variety of veggies, but you can mix and match any veggies you want. It’s a great way to use up leftover eggplant, squash, mushrooms, etc. You can serve it a variety of ways- plain, in a sandwich, on a bed of pasta, etc. I made a Roasted Red Pepper Coulis to pour on top, which was a great compliment since I didn’t add roasted red peppers to the stack.
I had some leftover ground some pistachios from a different recipe, so decided to make a pistachio sauce for one of the Valentine’s day dishes. I mixed this with ditalini pasta, but it also tastes good on veggies, toast, and even as a pizza sauce. Just a note, I used key limes last time to make this- and it came out more limey than using regular limes.
I love all holidays, and that includes Valentine’s Day! I made dinner for my parents today to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day. Initially, I wanted every dish to incorporate red- but later decided that might be too much. So instead, I settled for a mix of dishes that let me play with a variety of foods and techniques. The menu is below and the recipes will follow soon! Hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day!
Our original Christmas dinner was going to be vegetarian meatloaf and mashed potatoes… however; we had Monday off! Naturally, that meant I spent the day in the kitchen playing! Below is the Christmas dinner I finally settled on (links to follow). Yes… I might have gotten a little carried away with the sides… =)
I had a Halloween party last year and completely forgot to post about it! I had the most fun planning the food for the party (as usual). The best thing about Halloween food is that you can be super creative to make things fit into the creepy, gross theme. Below is the table spread for the party, with links to the foods and how I did them (click on it for a larger image).
Rajma (red kidney bean curry) is one of those dishes that I love, but always forget about. It’s perfect for cold weather because it has so many warm spices and is so satisfying. I like making it in big batches because I think the flavors really set in after the first day and it makes great leftovers. You can eat it plain (like a chili), with breads (like roti, naan, etc), or with rice (my favorite). I also modified the traditional recipe to include spinach, because I’m convinced spinach makes everything taste better!
I think this is my new favorite summer salad. It has that marinated, fresh, crunchy taste that I love. I will say, this salad requires a lot of preparation since there is so much chopping involved- especially because I like cutting the veggies very small (I make them ~1/8 inch pieces) and adding a lot of them. The Quinoa Tabouleh salad is a twist on the traditional bulgar wheat tabouleh. The main difference is that quinoa is super healthy and is gluten free to fit in with the detox program led by Linda Petursdottir (http://simplewellbeing.com/)- this recipe is a modification of a recipe she provided.
The next few posts will be slightly different from my usual ones. I’m doing a 10-day vegan detox and thought it would be fun to post the menu and recipes I’m following and how I’m feeling. The detox program is led by Linda Petursdottir (http://simplewellbeing.com/). Please visit her site for more information.
I recently bought ground ancho pepper from Penzeys and have been itching to use it. From what I understand, ancho peppers are basically dried poblano peppers. They are mild, with a slightly sweet flavor. I was in the mood for kale, so I fiddled around with different combinations of kale and ancho. I settled on the recipe below, which tastes good and is actually fairly easy to make!