One Bowl of Veggies, Day 3: Miso Soba Noodles

Day 3! (days 1 and 2) Here we goooo. Soba noodles. Miso. Vegetables.

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Miso Soba Noodles with Mixed Vegetables

1 9.5-oz package soba noodles
2 heaping teaspoons mellow brown rice miso or white miso
4 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons water
mixed vegetables

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles for 3 minutes. Strain the noodles and rinse under cold water to remove all the starch.

In a large bowl, whisk together the miso, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, and water. Add the noodles and a few scoops of the mixed vegetables and toss it all together.

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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.

Popcorn, 3 Ways

More iPhone photos in this one… sorry. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered to pull out my SLR and take a proper photo. So anyway, this was dinner a couple weekends ago. Popcorn, a bottle of wine, and a Breaking Bad marathon. Thankfully we have finally finished watching Breaking Bad; now we can have our lives back. I will admit to having a small hole in my heart for about two days after we watched the finale, but it healed quickly.

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Anyway, back to the popcorn. My new obsession is sichuan peppercorns. The red ones are more readily available, but the green ones are my favorite. This popcorn was made with the red variety, though. Both versions cause a similar mouth numbness that is just… so. cool. The numbing effect is perfect with spiciness. The red ones have more of an anise flavor, while the green ones verge more toward minty-ness in a way.

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Another relatively recent discovery is dried curry leaves. I found these at a grocery store in Little India in Chicago, but you can order them online easily. I ground them in my spice grinder with a little turmeric and it adds this sort of grassy curry flavor to the popcorn.

The other thing that I love on all popcorn is something green and fresh. Usually this just ends up being an herb, but I had some finely processed asparagus from a dumpling-making session and found that those were great also.

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Popcorn, 3 Ways

This recipe doesn’t really have exact measurements, just ratios. Just sprinkle things on until the popcorn tastes good is my general rule. If you need a tutorial on popping popcorn, there is a great one over at Simply Recipes. I always pop mine on the stove top in a big pot. You can top it with butter, which is of course amazing, but if you want something slightly healthier, pick up an olive oil spray canister and just spray the popcorn. Then mix all the spices together in a bowl and sprinkle it on with salt to taste. Toss the popcorn and top with fresh greenery.

Curry + Pea Shoots

2:1 ratio of ground, dried curry leaves and ground turmeric
finely chopped pea shoots

Spicy Sichuan Peppercorn + Black Pepper

2:1:1 ratio of ground sichuan peppercorns, freshly ground black peppercorns, and red pepper flakes
finely chopped green onions

Truffle Salt + Cheese

truffle salt to taste
parmesan cheese
finely processed asparagus

[for the truffle salt + cheese popcorn, I actually like to microwave it for 15-30 seconds to allow the cheese to melt over the popcorn. yum.]

Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

[Please excuse the poorly-lit iPhone photos.]

I stopped by the farmer’s market this weekend to pick up some peppers for our Sunday afternoon of pickling and canning. In the process, I came across these cute little cherry tomatoes. And kale. And in my search for some type of cheese to throw into this evolving salad, I bought some cheese curds.

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It may seem like a strange combo, but it was really tasty. Be careful when adding the salt because cheese curds are pretty salty already. Eric and I ate this, walked around the neighborhood a bit, then came back and canned 13 jars worth of pickles and pickled peppers. If they turn out like I think they will, I’ll share the recipe on here.

Eric also got his first lesson in mandolin technique when slicing the cucumbers. About two minutes after I showed him how to use it and warned him to be very careful not to chop his finger off – you guessed it – he sliced the top of his finger off. The cukes were fine, though, and so was he. As for me, my eyes burned putting my contacts in this morning from the pepper oils that are still on my fingers, but I think it will be worth it.

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Kale, Tomato, and Cheese Curd Salad

1 bunch Lacinato kale, finely shredded
1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
1 cup squeaky cheese curds, chopped into small chunks
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh cayenne pepper or other spicy pepper, minced
juice of 1 lemon
salt to taste

In a large bowl, toss together the tomatoes, kale, and cheese curds. In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, pepper, and lemon. Dress the salad to your liking and season to taste with salt.

Mushroom Miso Ramen

I love a good bowl of ramen. Lucky for me that ramen shops have been popping up like weeds in Chicago.

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This bowl might not be as satisfying as a fatty, porky tonkotsu, but it is certainly a lot healthier and quicker. Some of the ingredients are definitely specialty items that I picked up at the Japanese and Vietnamese grocery stores. You can easily make substitutions for the harder-to-find ingredients, as noted below. At the very least, the dried shiitake mushrooms are needed to make a tasty broth.

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Mushroom Miso Ramen

Notes:

-Mirin is a sweet rice wine that can pretty easily be found at any asian grocery store or even whole foods. The Seattle Times has suggestions for substitutions.
-There are a few varieties of miso paste. Aka miso is a red miso and shiro miso is a white miso. Awase miso is a mixture of aka and shiro miso, which is what I used here.
-If you can’t find ramen noodles sold individually, just buy the college-standard ramen packages that have the flavor pouches. Same stuff. Just be sure to discard the flavor pouches.
-Any variety of mushrooms will work here for the toppings.
-If pea shoots aren’t available, a more common topping would be sliced green onions.

Broth:

8-9 small dried shiitake mushrooms
1 cup dried bonito flakes (optional)
1-inch piece of ginger, sliced
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and skins removed
1 stalk lemongrass, outer skins removed and sliced in half
9 cups water
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons awase miso paste 

Combine the dried mushrooms, bonito flakes, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, and water in a large pot and heat until water comes just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

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Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids. You can keep the now-rehydrated shiitakes and incorporate those into the soup if you wish, or save them for later for another use. Add the mirin and soy sauce and stir to combine.

Remove a ladle of the broth into a small bowl. Whisk in the miso paste until it is smooth, and then combine it with the rest of the broth. Set the broth aside and keep it warm.

Toppings:

ramen noodles
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 package cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 package maitake (hen of the woods) mushrooms
1 package bunashimeji (beech mushrooms)
baby bok choy
pea shoots or sliced green onions
fried, puffed tofu (optional)
1 package enoki mushrooms
sriracha

Bring a pot of water to a boil and then cook the ramen noodles for ~3 minutes. Remove, rinse with water, and set aside.

Pour the oil in a large wok or frying pan and stir fry the cremini, maitake, and bunashimeji mushrooms. Set aside.

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Blanch the baby bok choy in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then immediately cool in an ice bath.

Cut the puffed tofu into whichever shape you prefer.

Ramen Assembly:

Put the noodles in the bottom of a large bowl. Scoop a few ladles of broth on top, then add your preferred toppings. If you need an extra kick, squirt on some sriracha. Serve hot with chopsticks and a soup spoon.

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.

Veggie Lentil Bowls

Three weeks guys. Three. Weeks. That’s when the semester is officially over! It’s been a good run, but I’m pretty ready to be done.

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And I have a pretty rad summer lined up, so that just makes everything better! You guessed it – I’ll be traveling. I’m headed back to Nairobi this summer to work with KDI again, this time with the help of AECOM. Eric will once again have a summer filled with frozen turkey burgers and weekend nights on which he stays up past 9pm. Lucky guy! This time around, I have one month for work, and one month for fun and travel through Kenya and Uganda.

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And when I get back – besides looking for a job – we’ll hopefully be traveling some more. Eric and I are about two weeks away from getting our hands on a Southwest Companion Pass, so we have lots of weekend trips planned. Portland, Utah, Atlanta, Charleston, Puerto Rico, Key West, Philly, and Carlsbad Caverns are all on the list. When the Air Trans/Southwest merger takes full effect, we’ll be adding Mexico City. Sooo many places. Since we have the companion pass until the end of 2014, we’ll hopefully be able to squeeze all these and more into our schedule!

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I’ve been making veggie bowls a lot lately. And salad bowls. Basically just a lot of big bowls of vegetables. The varieties are endless, but I really liked this one that I concocted the other day using walnut and sun-dried tomato pesto courtesy of Licking the Plate. I like all my veggies chopped into small, bite-sized pieces. Makes it easier to dig into with a spoon.

Veggie Lentil Bowl with Strained Yogurt and Walnut-Sun-Dried-Tomato Pesto

1 cup green or French lentils
1 crown broccoli, finely chopped
1 bunch asparagus, finely chopped
1-2 large handfuls of arugula
1/2 red onion, finely sliced and soaked in cold water
walnut and sun-dried tomato pesto
strained plain yogurt

The day before, empty a large container of plain yogurt into a cheese cloth and let strain for 24 hours. Refrigerate and set aside.

Put the lentils in a sauce pan with 2 cups of water. Bring water to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook uncovered for approximately 20 minutes, or until tender. If there is any liquid still in the pan, strain the lentils and stir with salt to taste.

Meanwhile, bring another pot of water to a boil. Add the broccoli and asparagus and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and strain, immediately putting the veggies into a cold water bath. Set aside.

When all the prep has been completed, combine everything into a bowl – the asparagus and broccoli, the lentils, arugula, and onions. Top with the pesto and yogurt, Add a bit more salt to taste.

*There are many variations you could take with this recipe. Regular pesto would work well, as would harissa. Feeling lazy? Just drizzle olive oil and balsamic over the mixture. Want some grains? Add farro or buckwheat. Don’t want to take the time to strain the yogurt? Fine, just dollop regular plain yogurt on top. Try roasting the veggies instead of blanching them. Top it with a poached or soft-boiled egg. Add some olives. Sprinkle on some roasted kale. Once the farmer’s market opens, I’ll be making this with whatever is available there. Yum.

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.

Persian New Year Soup (Ash-e Reshteh)

Make this, now. So, so good. For such a simple soup, I did not expect it to be so delicious, but I have literally eaten it all day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s that good.
Persian New Year Soup (1)

The caramelized onions as a garnish are not optional. Just put in the extra effort and make them – it’s worth it.

Persian New Year Soup

I used yogurt instead of sour cream, which several of the recipes on the internet call for. The traditional accompaniment is a type of whey, or so I have read. Since I made this, I have been scouring the internet for info on this Iranian dish. It is served on the Persian New Year, which happens to be March 21 (first day of spring), not January 1. Nonetheless, it’s also pretty perfect for a wintery Chicago New Year’s Day.

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It also seems that some people make a minty oil by sautéing dried mint in olive oil. Then they drizzle it on top. Next time, I tell you, next time. Probably tomorrow. Seriously, I’m obsessed.

Persian New Year Soup (Ash-e Reshteh)

adapted from several sources, notably the Boston Globe, Turmeric & Saffron, and 101 Cookbooks

1 onion, sliced
1-2 red or green chiles, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 cups cooked borlotti beans (or white beans)
~200 g dried egg noodles
2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
juice of two limes
salt and pepper

Garnishes
1 large onion, sliced and caramelized
plain yogurt
chopped walnuts

Start by making the caramelized onion. Heat some oil and/or butter in a pan and sauté the sliced onion over medium heat, stirring occasional until the onions are browned.

In a dutch oven or soup pot, sauté the other onion, chiles, and garlic in some olive oil until soft. Stir in the turmeric and cumin and cook for another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper at this point as well.

Add the stock (if using a low-sodium or homemade stock, check the seasoning after you add it). Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium. Add in the beans until warmed through. Stir in the egg noodles and let the soup cook until they are soft – should only take a couple minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the spinach, cilantro, dil, and lime juice. Check one more time for proper seasoning. Top with garnishes and serve.

Detox Week: Kale, Carrot, and Fennel Salad

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but after the holidays or other big trips that involve a lot of eating, Eric and I go into detox mode and try to eat a lot of salads. I, for one, ate my weight in Buckeyes this past weekend. We decided some heavy-duty detox was needed, which is when we brought in the kale.

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad (6)

I received some fun new kitchen toys for Christmas, including a cast iron pan and a mandolin. I also received a huge box full of fancy olive oils and vinegars. Yesterday I went to work making three different vinaigrettes for salads throughout the week as well as a homemade chili powder from Rick Bayless, which I saw on Mexico, One Plate at a Time before we left for Christmas. The vinaigrettes include a saffron + red wine vinegar + olive oil, chervil + sorrel + blood orange vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil, and basil + apple + chili powder + elderberry balsamic vinegar + olive oil. I just toss stuff in the food processor with an almost 1:1 acid to oil ratio. I use just a touch more oil than acid, but this produces a pretty acidic dressing. If you’re vinegar averse, add more oil. I prefer my salads vinegary.

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad (3)

We dressed this kale salad with the chervil + sorrel + blood orange vinegar + lemon juice + olive oil salad dressing. I like the strong citrus flavor on kale. I also tossed in some farro to make this a bit more substantial for dinner. Oh, and the carrots and fennel were very finely sliced using my new mandolin – fun!

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad

Kale, Carrot, & Fennel Salad

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

2 bunches lacinato kale
1 large carrot, very finely sliced
1/2 bulb fennel, very finely sliced
1 cup farro, cooked
handful of sunflower seeds and shaved almonds

De-stem the kale and role the leaves up, then finely slice the leaves so you have long, noodle-like shreds. I used a mandolin to shave the fennel and carrots so they were just paper thin and super easy to eat. Toss everything together in a large bowl

For the dressing, I put 5-6 sorrel leaves, 1 small bunch of chervil, 1/2 cup of blood orange vinegar (or use apple cider vinegar), juice of half a lemon, and 1/2 cup of olive oil in the food processor along with some salt and pepper. Process until emulsified.