Indonesian Rice Bowl

indonesian-rice-bowl

Back to school. Back to work. Back to quick, easy bowl foods for dinner. This one makes great leftovers for lunch, too. I don’t think I’m the only one who looks at a bowl of red (or brown) rice, assorted veggies, some nuts, tofu and sauce and gets excited for dinner.

This one is special to me. I don’t normally make a dish more than once, but this has been in regular rotation for years. I think it’s the coconut milk, chilies, ginger and macadamia nuts that make it really sparkle. If you can’t find (or afford) red rice for this, it tastes just as good with brown rice. And I’ve made it with all manner of vegetables to match the seasons: asparagus in the spring, green beans for summer, brussels sprouts in the fall…

Don’t be scared away by the list of ingredients, it actually comes together fairly quickly.

rice-and-nutsIndonesian Rice Bowl

1 c. red (or brown) rice
8 oz. firm tofu (my belly likes the sprouted kind the best), cubed
1/3 c. macadamia nuts, chopped
1 T. coconut oil (or any other oil you like)
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 in. piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red chili, seeded, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
a couple carrots, sliced on the bias
1 head of broccoli florets, sliced thin
1/2 c. coconut milk
2 T. shoyu
juice of one lime
chopped cilantro, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350. Start the rice in a heavy bottomed pot with 2 c. water. Bring to a boil then cover, turn down to low and simmer until tender. Depending on the type of rice, that could take anywhere from 30-50 minutes. When it’s done, the water will be gone, then let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes.

Spread the nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and slide into the oven for about 15 minutes, or until browned and fragrant.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu in a singer layer and let it sit until it forms a crust and doesn’t stick to the pan, it may take up to 5 minutes. Flip the cubes and let at least 2 sides get brown, maybe more. It took me about 15 minutes altogether. Remove from pan and set aside.

Heat more oil in the same pan if you need to and add the shallot, garlic, ginger, chili and coriander. Fry for about a minute, then add carrot and broccoli. Cook them until they are tender, or “crisp-tender” if you prefer. Add the tofu back in the pan.

Pour the coconut milk, shoyu and lime juice into the pan. Let everything simmer together for a few minutes, then stir the whole thing into the cooked rice.

Serve topped with the macadamia nuts and cilantro.

serves 4

indonesian-rice-bowl-2

Roasted Carrot & Wild Rice Salad

roasted-carrot-&-wild-rice-salad

An enormous bunch of carrots called out to me last weekend at the market. I had a few in salads, made carrot soup, and somehow was still swimming in them. I like carrots as much as the next girl, but I can only eat so many. It would take quite a bit to inspire me to finish off the bunch. So I brought out the big guns.

This grain salad makes carrots (or you could use squash or sweet potato) sexy. Carrots roasted in garlic, wild rice, toasty hazelnuts, briny feta, maple dressing…whoa. Lay it out room temperature in a grand holiday spread or eat it warm for lunch.

carrot-&-wild-rice

coriander

Roasted Carrot & Wild Rice Salad

1 c. wild rice
4-5 medium carrots, sliced thinly on the diagonal
2-3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1/2 c. hazelnuts, roughly chopped
4 oz. block of feta, cubed or crumbled

1/2 tsp. coriander seeds, or 1/4 ground coriander
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp. maple syrup
1-2 T. walnut or hazelnut oil (or more olive oil)
fine grain sea salt

Preheat oven to 425.

First start the rice by placing it in a heavy bottomed pot covered with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, turn down to low, and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. When most of the grains have split open, it is done. You may have to drain off the excess water, then set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the carrots, garlic, a few glugs of oil and a little salt on a baking sheet. Roast until just starting to shrink and turn golden, 25 minutes or so. Check on them every so often and flip at least once.

On a separate baking sheet, spread the hazelnuts in a single layer and slide into the oven under the carrots. These should only take 7-8 minutes to get toasty and fragrant. Then pull them out and set ‘em aside.

Next make the dressing. If you have whole coriander seeds, crush them up. Add the lemon juice and maple syrup and whisk to combine. Whisk in the oil, then salt to taste. You want the dressing to be quite strong tasting, because it will get watered down when tossed in the grains and carrots.

Combine the cooked rice, carrots and most of the nuts and cheese in a serving dish. Pour the dressing over top and toss gently to coat. Top with the rest of the hazelnuts and feta and serve.

serves 4-6

roasted-carrot-&-wild-rice-salad-2

Vanilla Coconut Popcorn

So, did you survive the biggest cooking day of the year? Anyone scald their arm or slice their finger wide open? I’ve been there – done that, but this Thanksgiving I remained safe and whole. And for that I am thankful.

If you’ve had your fill of cooking for the week, I won’t judge if you decide to just pop up some sweet and salty popcorn and call it lunch like I did (shh, don’t tell my mother…) In this super quick snack (meal?) I tossed stovetop popped corn with toasted coconut flakes and a honey/butter/vanilla drizzle. Vegans, I bet coconut oil and agave would be just as magnificent.

Vanilla Coconut Popcorn

1 T. coconut oil (or olive)
1/4 c. corn kernels
1/4 c. large flake coconut (if you can only find the finely flaked stuff, just use a little less)
2 T. butter (or more coconut oil)
2 T. honey (or agave)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
sea salt to taste

Heat the oil and 2 or 3 of the corn kernels in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium or medium high heat. When the kernels pop, add the rest of them to the pot and cover. Let them sit and they’ll begin to pop. Shake the pot every now and again and wait until you don’t hear any popping for about 10 seconds. Turn off the heat and let it sit and finish popping if it wants to.

Meanwhile, place the coconut in a small skillet over medium low. Toast the flakes until they turn a bit brown and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Don’t let them burn! Set them aside.

In the same skillet, heat the butter until melted. Add the honey and vanilla and stir to combine. When it starts to bubble, turn off the heat.

To serve, combine the popcorn and coconut in a bowl, and pour the butter mixture over. Salt to taste. Feel free to double the recipe for a family movie night.

serves 2 for a snack (or one if it’s lunch…)

Thanksgiving Ideas

As a kid, my Thanksgivings consisted of a long drive to and from Grandma’s house, canned green bean and cream of mushroom soup casserole, and a large, rambunctious Italian family yelling at the Cleveland Browns on TV. And two bowls of cereal. One before we left and one after we got home at the end of the day, so that I didn’t starve.

Boy, I do love being an adult, because now I can cook some delicious meals for myself, family and friends. If your Thanksgiving meal plan hasn’t yet been set in stone, here are a few more ideas from around the web.

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes - from 101 Cookbooks

Mini Apple Galettes - from Naturally Ella

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash - from Love and Lemons

Roasted Butternut and Coconut Soup - from Green Kitchen Stories

Whole Roasted Tandoori Cauliflower – from My New Roots

Garnet Pilaf – from Sprouted Kitchen

Fall Vegetable Slaw with Hot + Sweet Ginger Dressing – from The First Mess

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad – from Happyolks

Cider Punch – from Not Without Salt

Truffled Delicata and Wheatberry Salad - from Me!

What are you making for Thanksgiving?

Cremini Buckwheat Risotto

“Risotto” is one of my favorite dishes to make. Maybe it’s because it’s endlessly adaptable. Or because it can be made into a one-pot meal. It could also just be the wine. In any case, I’ve really been into experimenting with different grains, veggies, and ways to add creaminess to my endless pots of semi-risotto.

This incarnation turned out to be really unique and delicious, and I thought I should share. Buckwheat is not actually wheat at all, but a gluten-free whole grain that cooks quickly and releases some starch as it breaks down – perfect for working in a little risotto-like creaminess.

Then are the cremini mushrooms. Button or baby bella ‘shrooms could work here, too, just make sure they are the freshest of the fresh. I buy my mushrooms whole, with some dirt still attached, and having never touched a wisp of plastic wrap. If you can only find the packaged kind, transfer them directly to a paper bag upon entering your home. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to eat them, and then just wipe them clean with a damp towel. They don’t like being drenched with water. Also, I’m not a big fan of the stems of any mushroom. I know they are edible (except shiitake – don’t eat those stems) but the texture is more dense, so I take them off. Just grab the stem right near the cap and gently wiggle it back and forth a few times, it should pop right out.

Cremini Buckwheat Risotto

2 T. butter, divided
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stemmed and sliced (button or baby bella work, too)
fine grain sea salt
3 leeks, white and light green part, sliced into thin half moons
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 c. buckwheat (or it’s toasted sister, kasha)
1 c. white wine or beer
2-3 c. warm water or stock
2 T. creme fraiche, plus more for garnish
chopped parsley (optional) for garnish

Melt 1 T. butter in a heavy-bottomed pot or saucepan over medium low. Add the mushrooms and a generous pinch of salt, and toss to coat in the butter. These guys soak up a lot of fat, so toss them quick, but don’t be too worried if some seem dry at first. After a few minutes they will start to release their liquid. Let the mushrooms keep cooking until most of the liquid is gone, then remove them from the pot and set aside.

Melt the other tablespoon of butter in the same pot. Add the leeks and cook for about 10 minutes, until they are very soft and maybe a little brown. Add the buckwheat, garlic, and a few more pinches of salt, and let cook a couple more minutes.

Pour in the wine or beer and bring to just a simmer. Stir around a lot until most of the liquid is gone. Add in 1/2 cup to 1 cup water or stock; keep stirring and adding more liquid when it disappears. You need to keep an eye out on the “bubbly-ness” of the liquid. It should stay at a quiet simmer, not too bubbly, but also not still. Keep adjusting the heat as needed to achieve this. Eventually the buckwheat will become tender. Start checking for doneness after you’ve added 2 cups of liquid, keeping in mind you may need to add another cup or more.

Once the buckwheat is tender, take it off the heat. Stir in the creme fraiche, then fold in the mushrooms. Taste, and add more salt if necessary (if you used water, you may need to add up to a teaspoon of salt). Garnish with the parsley and a few small dollops of the creme fraiche.

serves 4

Un-stuffed Peppers

Some days are full of new experiences. But other times it’s all about nostalgia. Today’s a nostalgia day.

When I was a junior in college I decided that I REALLY wanted to pierce my belly button. So I convinced a friend to drive down to the best piercing parlor in the area. When we got there, the nice man at the front desk informed me that I didn’t have enough fat to pierce (don’t hate me, I’ve since gained the fat…) and he was afraid he might pierce an organ. So, no belly button ring for me.

And, along the nostalgia lines, this un-stuffed pepper recipe is one of the first things I started making when I became vegetarian, all those years ago. I wish I could remember the cookbook it came out of and give credit where it’s due, but alas, the actual recipe is  long gone and all that remains is the idea: slice bell peppers in half, lay them close together and pour and sprinkle lots of yummy stuff over them. Served alongside some rice or quinoa, they employ all the ingredients of stuffed peppers, but without the hassle of actually stuffing them.

So, back to those belly buttons. For those who aren’t familiar with acupuncture, it is based on a series of meridians that run along the surface of the body. One of the meridians is called the Conception Vessel, and it runs along the middle of the abdomen and chest. And yes, it is linked to, among other things,fertility (in men and women). So, if you have any concern about fertility, or any other matters below the belt, best to take out that belly button ring!

Un-stuffed Peppers

2 large bell peppers (any color, but I obviously used red)
2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 T. capers, chopped
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella, or other melty cheese
1/4 c. breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat panko)
2 T. olive oil
1 c. quinoa

Preheat the oven to 350. Slice the peppers in half, take out the stems and seeds, and lay, cut side down, in a baking dish that they just fit into in a single layer. Sprinkle the garlic, capers, thyme, pepper flakes and salt evenly over the peppers, then the cheese, then the breadcrumbs. Pour the olive oil over the whole thing. Slide the dish into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes. The cheese and breadcrumbs should be browned, and the peppers soft, but still retain some structure.

While the peppers cook, combine the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the water is gone.

Spread some quinoa on a plate and top with a pepper slice or two.

serves 2-3

 

Smoky Tempeh & Peppers

As the cold weather creeps in, bit by bit, our bodies start to crave more build-up foods. More protein and fat to keep the heat in and prepare for the Winter (what? already? I think we’ve got a while, but it never hurts to plan ahead). This dish fit the bill for me. Hearty tempeh and the last of the summer’s sweet peppers simmered in a paprika-chipolte-maple marinade and served with light but protein-rich quinoa. Quinoa, small as it is, is pretty mighty in this respect. The highest amount of protein of all the grains resides in this little guy (though he’s technically a seed…).

I used some cute little sweet peppers I found at the farmers market, but bell peppers will work just as well. And you won’t normally see me stirring delicate fresh herbs into a dish that is still cooking. The oils in the leaves that make them so fragrant and delicious dissipate quickly when cooked, so I almost always use them raw. However, in this dish I used the cilantro as more of a vegetable than an herb, and since I used a ton, I figured it was ok if a little of the flavor escaped. There’s still plenty to go around.

Smokey Tempeh & Peppers

2-3 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz. tempeh
1 lb. sweet or bell peppers, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T. shoyu
2 T. maple syrup
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or more if you’re feeling brave)
1 c. quinoa
1/2 c. cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish

Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the tempeh and  cook for 10 minutes, flipping once, to brown on a few sides. Stir in the peppers and cook for a few minutes while you prepare the marinade.

Combine the garlic, shoyu, maple syrup, lime juice, the other tablespoon of oil, paprika and chipotle in a liquid measuring cup that holds at least 1 cup. Quickly whisk together with a fork. Add water to make 1 c of marinade. Pour the marinade over the tempeh mixture. Simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes, until everything is tender and most of the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.

Meanwhile, place the quinoa and 2 cups of water in a pot. Bring to a boil, turn down to low and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, until tender and all the water is gone. Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Serve the tempeh mixture over the quinoa, and top with some extra cilantro.

serves 4

Tomato & Coconut Rice

A number of years ago, before that big economic downturn, I took a trip to Dubai. In mid August. It was hot. Really hot. Like, 40 degrees Celsius hot. I saw a lot of pretty amazing things, but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most is a restaurant. It was an “Indian-inspired” place, like nothing I’d ever heard of before, or have seen since. They didn’t have your typical Saag Dal, or Chana Masala, or whatever it is that you always order when you get Indian. Instead, the chef took inspiration from the spice blends and flavors of India, and created a menu of unique, inspired dishes. They didn’t have many vegetarian things on the menu, and I honestly don’t even remember what I got, but the idea has stuck with me.

You’d think living in the biggest foodie city in the country I’d have stumbled upon a similar place here in the states. Unfortunately I have yet to find one. But if you know of a place, please let me know.

This is the kind of dish I imagine would be on the menu at a restaurant like this, especially if I was the one who ran it. A great mix of spices, juicy summer tomatoes, and brown basmati rice. It may not be authentic Indian food, but that’s not the point. Taking fresh, local, healthy food and giving a spicy twist – IS the point.

Tomato & Coconut Rice

1 T. ghee or coconut oil
2 cinnamon sticks
6 cardamom pods
10 whole cloves
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1″ knob of ginger, minced
1 chili pepper, minced (I used a chili d’arbol, serrano or jalepeno would be fine, too)
1 tsp. tumeric
3 big juicy red beeftsteak tomatoes, diced
scant 1 tsp. sea salt
3/4 c. coconut milk
3/4 c. water
1 c. brown basmati rice
1/2 c. large flake coconut, for garnish
chopped fresh herbs for garnish (all’s I had was basil, cilantro would have been my first choice, though – remind me to plant an herb garden next spring!)

Heat ghee or oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, and saute 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and chili and give it another minute or two before adding the tumeric, salt and tomatoes and all their juices you can save. Once it is well combined and the tomatoes have started to release liquid, pour in the coconut milk, water and rice. Stir, cover and bring to a boil.

Turn it down to low and let it simmer for 50-60 minutes. While you wait you can toast the coconut flakes in a dry skillet for a few minutes, and chop up your herbs. If you’re making something else to go with the rice, now’s a good time to do that, too!

When the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is done. Serve with coconut flakes and herbs sprinkled on top.

serves 4

 

Spiced Blueberry Galette

You may think by the contents of this blog that I’m not much of a dessert girl. You’d be wrong. It’s just that if I’m going to go to all that effort to make something in the kitchen – there’d better be dinner at the end of it. Or ya know, breakfast or lunch. Thankfully, this galette has enough goodness in it to make it breakfast worthy. Or dessert. Or snack.

A galette, as I informed my sister last night, is a kind of rustic tart. A free form pie if you will. It is a rustic, free-form pie tart. It’s all the flaky dough and sweet fruit of a pie, but without the hassle. No tart pans or latticing necessary. The rustic part means all the rough edges are supposed to be there.

The filling here is thick jammy blueberry, spiced with cinnamon and ginger. And the crust is vegan! I used spelt flour, but any whole grain flour you’ve got hanging around will be equally delicious.  I served it with a dollop of creme fraiche (sorry, not vegan…) but use whatever you’ve got. Greek yogurt, vanilla ice cream, you get the idea. Make sure you plan ahead and slip your jar of coconut oil in the fridge now, if it’s not already there. And while you’re at it, you’ll get a better result if everything is cold, so get to it.

Spiced Blueberry Galette

1 1/2 c. whole grain flour
scant 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. very cold coconut oil
2 T. maple syrup
1/4 c. (or less) ice water

1 pint fresh blueberries
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the coconut oil and pulse until it beads up into tiny peas. Pulse in the maple syrup, then the water, a tablespoon at a time, until everything is damp and crumbly. You may not use all the water, I only used 3 tablespoons.

Transfer it all to a piece of plastic wrap laid out on your work surface. Knead it a few times until it comes together into a dough. Wrap the whole thing up in the plastic wrap and move to the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

Now you can make the filling by stirring everything else, from the blueberries down, together in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 375.

Lay a sheet of parchment paper on your work surface. Transfer your dough onto the parchment and roll out into approximately an 1/8 thick circle. I rolled, then pinched the edges a little, then rotated and rolled again. When you’ve got a nice round, thin piece of dough, pour in the blueberry mixture. Spread it evenly, leaving about 2 inches around the outside. Fold the edges up around the filling.

Slide the galette, parchment and all, onto a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes, until the crust starts to brown. Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve as is, or with a dollop of yogurt, creme fraiche, ricotta, ice cream, etc.

serves 4-6

adapted from My New Roots Plum Yummy Galette

Red Lentil Soup

The man I live with has been in crazy complaining mode for the past few days (sorry D!) “Oh, I can’t stop coughing”, “My throat is sore”, “My body’s all achy”, “Why am I SOOO tired”, and my personal favorite, “Why do I feel so bad, it’s not like I’m sick”. So I ask you this, Why do we all ignore, or refuse to believe, that when we don’t feel good, that means we’re sick? Even if we are still able to do all the things we usually do (feeling miserable the whole way) that doesn’t mean that we should. Let’s all promise to be kind to ourselves the next time we’re feeling under the weather and get some extra rest, cut out the sugar, and just eat some soup. Ok?

It took me a while to convince Darren that he needed to take it easy, and after some pleading, he finally let me take care of him. I made him this soup. Super simple ingredients, most of which you can keep on hand, minimal prep work, and deeply nourishing, this is a good soup for the sick. Cook some onions and oil, then add red lentils and brown rice, and cook til done. This is one recipe where you have to use red lentils, and not another type, because they break down and create bulk in the soup. Also, feel free to garnish with whatever you have. I used toasted almonds and some fresh herbs. To up the nourishing factor, I used miso to flavor the broth. I have a few types in the fridge for different things. A light miso (sweet brown rice or chickpea) is good for cooking. I like to use it for complex creaminess when I don’t want to use cheese. A hearty dark miso (3 year barley’s the best, or hearty brown rice) are more medicinal, so I use them when I’m sick. I combined them both in this recipe, but if you just have one kind, that’s fine, too. If you’re in the market for miso, South River Miso is my favorite.

Red Lentil Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 c. red lentils, rinsed
1/2 c. brown rice, I used short grain, but basmati would be nice
5 c. water
1/4 c. miso, I used 2 T. light and 2 T. dark

for garnish: toasted almonds, chopped herbs, etc.

Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, 7-8 minutes. Add lentils, rice and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes, until the rice is tender (make sure to check the rice, it could need up to 15 minutes more, depending on the rice).

Scoop out about a cup of soup. I used my 1 c. pyrex liquid measuring cup. Add the miso to the cup and dissolve. Add the cup back into the soup pot and stir. Keep cooking over medium low for a few more minutes, making sure not to let it boil (it kills the medicinal properties of the miso).

Serve, garnished with some toasted nuts, herbs, or what have you.

serves 4

*Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Red Lentil Soup.