Pan-Fried Cauliflower + Shishito Peppers + Marinated Olives

Eric and I just returned from a whirlwind, week-long trip through Texas. With stops in Austin, El Paso, and San Antonio, we managed to cover a lot of ground. One thing I learned in Texas: I can eat tacos every. single. day. So many tacos. We even tried San Antonio’s famous puffy taco. But now that we’re home, it’s time to detox and eat some vegetables.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (5)

I went a little overboard at the grocery store when we got back and bought nearly every single vegetable in the produce aisle. I had to take stock yesterday of what we had in the fridge and come up with a plan to use it all. First stop: pan-roasted cauliflower with many good things on top.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (6)

In other news, Eric and I were talking the other day about this whole gluten debate after watching this Jimmy Kimmel clip revealing the absurdity of the gluten-free trend. As always needs to be said, this absurdity does not extend to those who have celiac disease. Nonetheless, all this talk about gluten got me thinking about what a wonderful community of bacteria and enzymes I have in my gut. I am literally tolerant of everything. I eat street food in the most exotic of destinations, and I can eat anything under the sun that my little heart desires – without consequences. When I see the problems that others have with their guts, I realize how lucky I am with my little community in there.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (4)

So, this recipe. We’ve got cauliflower, of course, but also shishito peppers (shishito peppers!!), radishes, red chiles, and even garlic scapes (garlic scapes!!). Shishito peppers are one of those foods… you know the ones… if I see it on a menu, I have to order it. If I see it at Joong Boo, I have to buy it. Same goes for garlic scapes, garlic chives, ramps, or any other iteration of garlic or its family members. Thus, put these things together and you get a real winner.

Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Shishito Peppers (2)

Pan-Fried Cauliflower + Shishito Peppers + Marinated Olives

For the marinated olives:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced into thick chunks
1/4 cup garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
4-5 pieces of shaved lemon peel
7-8 sprigs of fresh thyme or 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup castelvetrano olives (or any other variety)

For the rest:

2 fresh red chiles, finely sliced
1 small head cauliflower, sliced
15ish shishito peppers, or more or less according to your liking
handful chopped, roasted peanuts
5-6 radishes, finely sliced
juice of 1 lemon
salt + pepper to taste

To make the marinated olives, combine the olive oil, garlic, scapes, lemon peel, and fresh herbs in a large pan over medium-low heat. Let the oil warm and infuse the flavors for ~5 minutes. Add the olives, stirring to coat them. Turn off the heat and transfer the olives and oil to a jar or other container. You can keep all the flavoring ingredients in the mix if that’s easier.

Without washing the pan, turn the heat to medium-high heat and combine the chiles, cauliflower, and shishito peppers in the pan. Add more of the flavored olive oil if needed. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and allow the cauliflower and peppers to cook until the cauliflower is browned and the shishito peppers are blistered. When this happens, turn off the heat, top with radishes, peanuts, a bunch of marinated olives and fresh lemon juice. Taste and adjust for seasoning and serve.

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Herby Garlic Soup

I’ve received more winter weather and wind chill advisories from my iphone weather app than I’d like to think about lately. Talking about the weather may be a little overdone, but seriously, this has been a harsh one. Oh, and I am running a half marathon on Saturday–a day for which the weather forecast keeps getting colder and colder and snowier and snowier. Good thing we have a trip to Puerto Rico coming up in just one week. In the mean time, garlic soup.

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This garlicky broth is not at all as harsh as it sounds. And for a 15-minute broth, this one packs a lot of flavor. In fact, I may ditch all my other vegetable broth recipes and just stick to this from now on.

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With lots of watercress and chives, this soup has nice herby, savory notes. The beans and carrots make it hearty, too. It’s just good.

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Herby Garlic Soup

1 head garlic
10-5 peppercorns

1-inch knob of ginger, sliced into 4 slices
2-3 bay leaves (optional)
4 cups water

1/2 cup cannellini beans, cooked
1/2 cup borlotti beans (or other heirloom bean), cooked
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 bunch watercress, chopped
chives, sliced (optional)
salt, to taste

In a saucepan, combine garlic, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After five minutes, remove the ginger and simmer another ten minutes. Strain out the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves (set the garlic and peppercorns aside; discard the bay leaves).

Pour the broth back into the pot and add the beans, carrots, and zucchini. Bring it back to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. This should be just enough to take the raw edge off the vegetables but still keep them crisp.

Salt to taste, and garnish with chives and watercress.

As for the garlic and peppercorns, combine with a bit of water in a blender and grind until smooth. Use a spoonful here or there to make a vinaigrette, or mix it with tahini and more herbs to make a vegetable dip. The garlic will taste mellow and sweet, almost as if it’s been roasted.

One Bowl of Veggies, Day 2: Creamy Coconut Soup

It’s day 2 of having a big bowl of vegetables in the fridge (see day 1 here). Today’s recipe is super easy. Simmer coconut milk with some aromatics and then add your vegetables to the pot. Done.

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Què màs? Well, Eric and I are heading to Louisville this weekend to drink our way through the Bourbon Trail. We have an ambitious plan of visiting four (maybe five, if we can handle it) distilleries on Saturday, including Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, Heaven Hill, and Willet. We’re quite excited. I’m making a big batch of quinoa patties to sustain us between distilleries, and I’m loading them with veggies. Broccoli, rapini, and butternut squash are getting mixed in for maximum health benefit in addition to herbs and parmesan cheese. This trick of ours – bringing quinoa patties to munch on – also helps us cut down on eating-out costs while we travel. Win-win.

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Creamy Coconut Soup with Veggies

1 13.5-oz can full-fat coconut milk
13.5 oz water (just use the can to measure this)
1/2 inch knob of ginger, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 stalk lemongrass
salt to taste
mixed vegetables
handful of toasted pepita seeds

In a pot, combine the coconut milk, water, ginger, garlic, and lemongrass. To prepare the lemongrass, remove the tough outer leaves and cut off the ends. Cut it into 4-inch pieces and smash it with the back of the knife. Simmer the mixture for 20-25 minutes, being careful to never let it boil.

You can heat the vegetables in the microwave for a minute or two to warm them, then place them in a bowl. Ladle the coconut broth over the vegetables and top with toasted pepita (pumpkin) seeds.

Green Bean + Garlic Scape Salad

I’ve been using my mortar and pestle almost daily lately. I’ve been making loads of tasty salad dressings with it and last night I made fresh basil pesto. What I love most about using the m&p is the way the garlic forms this liquid-y, flavorful paste when you smash it with a little salt. I’ve been getting this mild variety of garlic from the farmer’s market that works perfect in its raw form in a salad dressing.

Green Bean Salad 2

We went backpacking in the Cucamonga Wilderness outside of LA a couple weeks ago, which was pretty fun. It was my first time backpacking and it was pretty brilliant. Now that we have some gear, Eric and I will be doing more camping trips since they’re pretty inexpensive and fun.

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We have a little weekend trip to Portland coming up, also, which will include copious amounts of micro-brewed beer and tasty PNW food. I feel like I should be an advertisement for Southwest since that is who we have been and will be flying for all these trips. This view from my seat was too good, so I turned on my phone below 10,000 feet to take this picture while we were landing. Gasp!

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Green Bean Salad 1

Green Bean + Garlic Scape Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

1 pound fresh green beans
garlic scapes, optional
1/2 medium-sized red onion
1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 small clove raw garlic
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil

Start by bringing a pot of water – large enough to fit all the beans and garlic scapes in – to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath while the water is warming up. When the water starts to boil, add the green beans and garlic scapes and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately put in the ice bath. Strain and set aside.

Slice the onion into thin slivers. Quick-pickling them by soaking in vinegar or lime juice while you’re preparing the recipe is great. I forgot to do this here, but feel free. Otherwise, set aside. Toast the almonds for a few minutes in a dry pan.

For the dressing, smash the raw garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt until it forms a paste. Add the roasted garlic. I like to pan-roast my garlic these days – just throw a couple cloves in a dry pan and move them around until the skins start to darken. Should take 5-8 minutes. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan and then add those and the black peppercorns to the mortar and pestle. Crush the whole mixture together and add a splash of olive oil. Remove the mixture into a jar and add the lemon and olive oil. Shake to combine.

To serve, combine the beans and garlic scapes, onion, and almonds with the salad dressing.

Kale and Black Lentil Salad

I’m back in the US of A and enjoying every moment of it! I’ve been getting in lots of cuddle time with my kitties and Eric in between all the activities – Lollapalooza, pickling and canning (!), farmer’s markets, and workouts. Eric got my bike tuned up over the summer so we’ve been biking everywhere! Biking = freedom, and it’s been awesome.

I’m working on sorting the 2000+ photos and videos that I took over the past month. We spent two weeks in Ethiopia, one week in Uganda, and then one week on the Kenyan coast. Every part of the trip was different and incredible. What a blissful month.

Kale and Black Lentil Salad 1

One thing I love about being home, though, is the ability to cook the way I like to cook. In the past week I’ve been to the farmer’s market twice and am so in love with the variety of veg we get here in the summer. I bought about 10lbs of heirloom tomatoes that I plan on making bloody mary’s with, and I pickled loads of different varieties of chiles today. The kale in this salad also comes from the market, and while I do enjoy the kale you find all over Kenya – sukuma wiki – I still prefer dino kale in my salads.

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Kale and Black Lentil Salad with Black Pepper + Avocado Dressing

The ripeness of the avocado for the dressing is important – if it’s not soft enough, it won’t mash nicely. You could alternatively use a food processor, but it’s much simpler to just make it in a mason jar. I like it still kind of chunky.

I actually bought the black lentils at a health food store in Nairobi. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with other sturdy lentils.

1 bunch dino kale
1/2 cup dried black lentils, rinsed and cooked 
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 carrots, shredded on a grater
1 big heirloom tomato, diced

2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon kosher salt or flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried coriander seeds
1/2 very ripe avocado, finely diced
2 lemons, juiced
1 lime, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Remove kale from the stems and cut it into fine ribbons. Combine in a large bowl with the lentils, chickpeas, carrots, and tomato.

In a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with salt to make a paste. Add the black peppercorns and coriander seeds and process until the seeds are crushed and everything is combined. Scoop the paste into a jar and add the avocado and liquid ingredients. Use a fork to mash up the avocado in the jar. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously.

Toss salad with dressing and add salt to taste.

 

Big Green Dinner Salad

This big green salad is hearty enough for lunch or dinner. It’s loaded with all kinds of things that you can’t really make out in the picture: olives, blanched broccoli, blanched asparagus, cabbage, arugula, and chickpeas. Blanched broccoli is a recently rediscovered favorite of mine; sometimes I make a dinner out of just that drizzled with some salad dressing. It soaks up the dressing perfectly. I have been making huge batches of this salad in the beginning of the week so that I can grab some easily for lunch or dinner without much hassle.

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I have also been making various versions of a yogurt dressing. It’s so easy: dump yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, and an add-in or two into a jar and shake, shake, shake. This past week, my add-in was a 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and a 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. But you could add chopped herbs, crushed garlic (raw or roasted), crushed scallions, sesame seeds, etc. Measurements here are approximate – get creative with it.

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Big Green Dinner Salad

Romaine lettuce, finely shredded
Arugula, finely shredded
Red, green, or savoy cabbage, finely shredded
1 cup cooked (or canned) chickpeas, drained
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 head broccoli, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced olives of your choosing (I’ve been using “fresh cured” olives lately, which are in the black olive section of the grocery store)

1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 raw garlic clove
add-ins of your choosing (for example, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you begin chopping all the veggies. Put the romaine, arugula, cabbage, chickpeas, quinoa, and olives in a large bowl. When the water starts to boil, put in the broccoli and asparagus. Let boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately strain and place in an ice bath. Let the broccoli and asparagus drain completely. When drained, add to the bowl. Toss the entire salad together.

Make the dressing by combining yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, and any spices in a jar. Crush the garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of flaky sea salt until it is the consistency of a paste. Add the garlic to a jar, put on the lid, and shake until combined. Dress the salad on a per serving basis. The salad itself will last a few days (really, up to a week, though it will begin to wilt a bit) in the fridge undressed.

*Other options to add to this salad: chopped hard boiled eggs, shaved brussels sprouts, finely shredded kale, other grains like farro or bulgar wheat, blanched and chopped cauliflower, fresh roasted sweet corn, mushrooms, etc, etc.

Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

I know I have already posted two other chili recipes on here, but something with this cold weather has me making yet more chili. Different chili. This time I wanted to add some greens and lots of beans. I pureed the chili using a hand blender just before adding the (cooked) beans and greens because I wanted a really smooth texture rather than a really chunky chili. I also discovered that I like garnishing chili with fresh tomatoes like these little golden cherry tomatoes. They’re pretty, but they also add some summery freshness, which may not exactly be seasonal, but it is a nice contrast.

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I still had frozen borlotti beans from when I made a bunch last time, but you could use any variety of beans you prefer. Kidney beans would be more traditional, but I can see pinto beans also tasting great. I have been making huge batches of beans the slow way (soaking overnight and then boiling the next day) and freezing them so I always have some on hand when I want them. I’ve also seen these quick-cooking beans at the grocery store in the refrigerated section of vegetables. I think they have already been soaked – they only take 15 minutes to cook. If you can find those, they work well also.

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Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

2 yellow onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
4 serrano peppers, minced
1 pound ground turkey
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, whole (if hand blending) or diced
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chile paste*
4 cups water
1 teaspoon shaved dark chocolate
1.5 cups black beans, cooked
1.5 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1.5 cups borlotti (or other) beans, cooked
1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed and finely chopped/shredded

Sauté the onions, garlic, and serrano peppers in a large pot (like a dutch oven) in olive oil or butter over medium high heat. When they begin to soften, add the ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the turkey is browned.

Add the tomatoes, spices, chile paste, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste-test not and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shaved dark chocolate and allow it to melt into the chili.

Here you have the option of hand blending the chili to smooth out the texture. If you prefer a chunky chili and used diced tomatoes, you can leave it as is.

Lastly, add the beans and shredded turnip greens. Allow beans to warm through and serve.

*I almost always have a container of chile paste in the fridge from other recipes. I take a package (or packages) of dried chiles – check the Mexican aisle – like guajillos. I dry toast them in a pan, then soak them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft. Use a blender to purée the chiles by adding in water a little at a time. You can add this to soups, chili, or even make it into a hot sauce by thinning it out and adding vinegar, a touch of honey, and salt. If it is too much of a fuss to make simply for this, you can omit it, though it certainly adds another element to the chili.

Cheese-less Pizza

Eric and I have started a Friday night pizza ritual. We generally pick up some multigrain pizza dough from Whole Foods, though making your own is just easy (but messier!). It seems crazy that I only recently brought home my first haul from the farmer’s market. My Saturdays have been so busy, I just never had time to go. Nonetheless, we turned Friday night pizza night into Saturday morning pizza day because we wanted to load up our pizza with fresh veg from the market. We also bought baby kale, sorrel, and radishes for a perfect spring salad.

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Radishes are cute, aren’t they?

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We eat most of our pizzas without cheese these days. I already have enough of a cheese habit – I don’t need it on my pizza, also! The key, then, is really good tomatoes. We always buy San Marzano in the can for this pizza, then load on tons of fresh garlic and black pepper. I rarely make an actual sauce – the tomatoes with fresh garlic are enough to make this a great meal.

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And for the salad, I just juice some lemons into a mason jar, put in equal amounts of olive oil, sometimes a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Shake it up and drizzle it on – easy.

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So there’s no real recipe here. For this particular pizza, we chopped asparagus into little discs and sprinkled them all over. Fresh slices of an heirloom tomato went on top, and make sure to sprinkle salt over the whole shebang. And seriously, do not skimp on the garlic. I think I added 5-6 cloves to this pizza. I minced them finely, but sometimes I’ll just do thin slices. Eric and I have been practicing making pizza so that he can make it perfectly while I’m gone all summer. His version will likely include granulated garlic instead of fresh garlic, but even he can handle rolling out the dough and smearing canned tomatoes all over it!

Garlicky, Spicy Pepper Oil

Jeez, has it been that long since I last posted? I cannot believe how busy I’ve been.

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It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Once I turned in my last 20-page paper, I was supposed to spend the day on the couch – watching movies, drinking wine, reading, and maybe even eating some ice cream. Instead, I went to work. And working is what I’ve been doing.

So that’s why I have not yet finished a bottle of wine this week. That’s why I have not read a good book (though I’m slowly working my way through Getting Out: Your Guide to Leaving America). I have managed to do a bit of cooking, though, which is at least a little satisfying. I’ve been using this oil on pasta, a drizzle on salads… it’d be great on popcorn. Get creative with it.

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Garlicky, Spicy Pepper Oil

3 cups extra virgin olive oil
5-6 (or more) dried chiles – I had some dried chiles that my brother- and sister-in-law brought back from Italy, but any spicy, dried chile will work. Admittedly, I used the whole bag rather than just 5-6, but my oil is
really spicy
5-6 cloves garlic

Pre-heat your oven to 325. Roughly cut the garlic into big chunks. Dry toast the peppers in an oven-proof pan for a minute or two, then add a tablespoon of oil and add the garlic. Stir around for just a minute, then take off the heat, add the rest of the oil, and pop the whole pan in the oven. Roast for 40 minutes. When it’s done, pull it out and let it cool at room temperature before you pour it into a container. You can move it to the fridge or just pour it directly into your pouring vessel of choice.

Sikil Pak – Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip

We have had an extravaganza of food inspired by our travels recently. I ate a boatload and a half of ceviche in Central America, so I made a really simple (and great!) ceviche inspired by those great meals. And in Mexico, we ate this Mayan dish called Sikil Pak (in Maya) after a strenuous day of floating down a natural canal through mangroves. The dip, almost like hummus in its consistency, is really simple – our guide told us it was made of just pumpkin seeds (pepitas en español), cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and water.

The canal I mentioned is in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve in the Yucatan, Mexico, a short drive from Tulum. We based ourselves in a nice hostel in Tulum town (as opposed to staying on the pricier beach road) and were able to explore Sian Ka’an, Mayan ruins, and the numerous cenotes from this central point. To gain entrance to Sian Ka’an, you must go with a guide. We booked a tour through our hostel for $75 per person, which, after the tour, seemed really, really expensive. Either way, it was my birthday, and we wanted to see some nature. We also learned that the best way to float down a canal is to put a life jacket on like a diaper.

Sian Ka'an Collage


Ever wonder why you see so much of Eric on this blog? It’s because I’m always behind the camera!

Anyway, I recreated this dip this morning with only a tiny bit of experimentation. I had thought that tomatoes would provide enough water to provide the right consistency, but in the end I needed to add additional liquid. Instead of water, I added a bit of lime juice and some vegetable stock I had in my freezer, though water will work in a pinch (and should be more traditional). Oh, and of course I added garlic. Nothing is made in my kitchen without garlic.

This dip is traditionally made using a molcajete, of course, but in my lazy modern kitchen, we used a food processor.

Sikil Pak

3 cups raw pumpkin seeds, or pepitas
3 large tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock
juice of 1 lime
3 cloves garlic
1 onion
cilantro, to taste
salt

Put the pumpkin seeds and garlic in a food processor and grind until you have a fine, sand-like consistency. Add in the onion, 2 tomatoes, stock, and a bit of cilantro and salt and process until the mixture turns creamy. Taste and add more salt and/or cilantro if necessary.

Chop the last tomato into a dice and chop some extra cilantro finely. Mix the diced tomatoes and cilantro with the dip. Optionally, you could process everything together for a very smooth dip, but I liked the added texture and color of the chunks of tomato and cilantro.

Serve with chips or crackers.