May Peas Be Upon You

After an extra 2 months of frosty winter weather, spring has sprung and so have spring’s veggies! And I’ve spent the past 2 months eagerly anticipating this spring’s first peas.  After listening to me talk about peas and how deeply my love of peas runs, a friend challenged me to cook a new dish with peas every day this month. And all I have to say is 

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

I’d like to start off this marathon of pea-based puns with a simple and easy saute of local, spring veg that also uses up some of the leftover root veg I’ve got sitting on the counter from this super long winter.

Peas with potatoes, asparagus, and mushrooms:

Image 

Ingredients:

  • 1 potato, diced
  • 2-3 stalks asparagus, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh shelled peas
  • 2 baby bellas, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 block firm sprouted tofu, diced
  • evoo
  • kosher salt
  • all-purpose seasoning

Directions:

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of evoo over med high heat.  Add the diced potato and a pinch of salt.  Cook the potatoes until crispy golden brown.
  2. Add the tofu and sprinkle generously with your favorite all-purpose seasoning. Let cook 5 mins till warmed.  
  3. Toss in the asparagus and saute 1-2 more minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook another minute before stirring in the peas.
  4. Let all the veggies saute 1-3 minutes until hot, but still crunchy.  Reseason as needed.
  5. Enjoy!!

“Creamy” (Cashew) White Wine Tomato Basil Sauce

I would like to give a shout-out to my girl at OnMyWayToHealth for pointing me in the direction of this recipe!  This is an absolutely AWESOME creamy tomato sauce recipe without the cream!  Cashews blended with a fresh chopped tomato and tomato paste provide a tangy-sweet and creamy base for an amazing but simple Italian classic white wine tomato basil sauce.  As OnMyWay notes, this recipe is great for those transitioning to vegan and trying to satisfy lingering creamy cravings and also as a nice change from the typical red pasta sauce.  Every kitchen needs a few good pasta sauce recipes.  Come summer, we’re all going to need as many tomato recipes as possible, and I’m really excited to be able to add this one to my recipe box!

“Creamy” Tomato Basil Sauce:

Equipment:

  • Food processor, medium saute pan, wooden spoon, spatula

Ingredients:

  • 3 fresh tomatoes, 1 chopped into big chunks, the other 2 diced
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 heaping cup of roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ~10 big fresh basil leaves, cut into small ribbons
  • 1/4 evoo
  • Dry white wine (to taste)
  • Water (as needed)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Add the cashews, tomato that was roughly chopped, tomato paste, 2-3 Tbsp of water and a big pinch of kosher salt to the food processor.  Blend, scrape down the sides, and keep blending until the mixture is silky smooth.
  2. Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion.  Saute 2-3 mins until softened and then add the chopped garlic.  Saute another 2-3 mins, or until the garlic and onions are just starting to brown.  Add a big pinch of salt, pepper, the diced tomatoes and the cashew-tomato mixture from the blender.  Let cook 1-2 mins, or until simmering.
  3. Once the tomatoes are starting to get hot, add 2-3 splashes of a dry white wine (to taste) and/or a few Tbsp of water.  Without extra liquid the sauce is very thick and creamy.  I wanted mine a little thinner, so I ended up adding probably 3-4 Tbsp of wine and the same amount of water.  Add the basil and let simmer together 5-10 mins or until all of the flavors are deliciously incorporated.
  4. ENJOY!!

Ramen Noodles with Dignity!

I don’t know how ramen is treated in other countries, but here in America, ramen noodles are strictly associated with college students and last resort, cheap, quick-fix meals.

As a college student who more often than not needs both cheap and quick food, I love me some ramen.  But, as a gluten-intolerant college student, my ramen noodles are considerably more expenisve than the 19-cents a pack variety.  $2 doesn’t sound like a lot for a meal, but it is a tough sell for a pack of ramen.  The plus side?  My ramen noodles are whole grain, sodium free, and organic.

So, where’s the pride?  Why does ramen have to be so bad for you and the “he thinks we’re friends, but we’re really not” resident in the American kitchen?  It doesn’t.  And at $2/pack, I’m out to get my money’s worth by adding just an extra 10 minutes to the rip open and boil routine.  I’ve used only pantry staples to jazz up my ramen to keep it convenient, but you could make it really fancy with some fresh scallions and edamame.  Believe me, it’s worth the extra few minutes!

Ramen with Dignity:

Sorry about the bad photo, but it's late and I'm in a rush - the perfect time for some delicious ramen!!

Equipment:

  • Small saucepan, knife, cheese grater, cutting board, stove top

Ingredients:

  • 1 extra small yellow onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 block firm silken tofu, diced
  • 1 pack buckwheat or brown rice ramen noodles, whatever flavor you prefer (I can’t give enough props to King Soba’s GF ramen!)
  • Kosher salt
  • Evoo
  • Water

Directions:

  1. Heat a small drizzle of evoo in the saucepan over medium heat.  Saute the onion with a big pinch of salt.  Stir and saute 1 minute and then add the tofu cubes.  Stir and saute 2-4 minutes or until the onions are soft and the tofu is warmed through.
  2. Add the grated carrot and peas.  Heat for 1-2 minutes and then stir in the seasoning packet from the ramen.  Make sure everyone’s coated, and then add 1 1/2 cups tap water.  Taste test your broth and adjust seasonings as needed.
  3. Bring the water to a boil.  Add the ramen and boil 4-6 minutes, or as recommended by the package.
  4. ENJOY!!

20 Minute Broccoli and Portobello Soup

Last night, while chopping some parsley for a roasted veggie casserole, I became separated from the tip of my left index finger.

This resulted in two major changes:

  1. I am officially banning myself from watching any and all Gordon Ramsey programs while cooking.  He’s just so good looking and dramatic and British that he’s become too distracting.  He will be dearly missed.
  2. I have to dramatically change what I was going to make this week to recipes that require significantly less chopping and less left-hand activity.

Things are also taking me way too long to do (like typing), so I’m also a bit behind on the work I needed to get done this weekend.  Taken all together, this simple soup recipe is exactly what I need.  It’s incredibly flavorful, has a short ingredients list, and can be prepped, cooked and served in under 30 minutes.  It came out so well that I had to add it to the ol’ recipe box for the next time I have a Kitchen Nightmare (buh-dum ting!) 😉

Quick Broccoli and Mushroom Soup:

If you want to thicken it, I'd bet this would be awesome with some sauteed potatoes.

Equipment:

  • Large soup pot, wooden spoon, blender, large bowl, ladle, knife, cutting board, stove top

Ingredients:

  • 4 yellow onions, halved and sliced into 1/4″ half-moons
  • 1 large or 2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 4 cups of warm vegetable stock
  • 3 large portobellos, stemmed, gills scraped out, and cut into bite-sized chunks (Next time I’d recommend about 1/4 lb. criminis sliced thin.  I think they’d look much prettier floating in this thin-brothed soup, but I went with what I had)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Evoo

Directions:

  1. Warm a drizzle of evoo in the bottom of your soup pot over medium heat.  Toss in the sliced onions and saute with two very generous pinches of Kosher salt and a hit of pepper for 2-3 minutes or until they start to soften.  This is a simple soup, so we want to aggressively season each step to make sure all of the flavors shine!
  2. Toss in the broccoli.  Season with another big pinch of salt and pepper.  Saute another 3-4 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and hot through but still crunchy.
  3. Add the warm vegetable stock and let the flavors mingle for a few minutes.  Then ladle the hot soup into the blender. Carefully pulse the soup, allowing ample opportunities for the steam to vent to prevent explosions.  Blend in batches until all of the soup has been blended to your desired texture.  Pour the soup in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Warm another drizzle of evoo over medium heat in the bottom of the soup pot.  Saute the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and pepper for 2-3 minutes or until the mushrooms have just started to soften.  Add the soup back to the pot and let simmer about 5 minutes to let all the flavors start to mingle.  Taste and re-season as needed.  Serve hot (it’s really good poured over some leftover rice).
  5. Enjoy!!

A Salad to Save the Day

Yeah… It’s been one of those weeks.  Who else has a headache?

I feel you, Cola. I feel you.

I started off my week still reeling from a frustrating and draining weekend – which was only perpetuated by a complete lack of success in the kitchen early on.

The problem with messing up my big dishes of the week, is that in the middle of the work week, I don’t have time/money/energy to cook replacements, and I depend on my pre-made meals lasting me.  So, when I have kitchen flubs or a poorly designed meal-plan, I find myself scrambling each day for a quick, cheap fix that also meets my dietary needs.                                                                                              Btw, ^ this is damn near impossible.

And so, I spent most of the week eating chips, dried fruit, and peanut brittle.  Now, it’s Friday night, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted a salad more in my entire life!!!  This isn’t really a recipe… because it’s a salad, but it is still good enough to jot down for future reference.  The edamame are crunchy, the onions sharp, the garlic spicy, and the black beans filling.  I served it with a tart lemon, basil, and poppy dressing (aaaaawesome!).

Oh, and can I give a shout-out to locally grown edamame?  That’s just flippin’ smart.

A salad for your refresh button:

Delicious, Nutritious, and EXACTLY what I need right now!!

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 med yellow onion, small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 lb shelled edamame
  • 1 small head red leaf lettuce
  • 3-4 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, halved, and sliced

For the Dressing: (from my post on avoiding boring salads)

  • Combine 1/2 clove chopped raw garlic, the juice and zest of 1 lemon (usually about 2 Tbsp juice yielded), 6 Tbsp evoo, 2 tsp+ poppy seeds, 2-3 leaves fresh basil chopped into fine ribbons, 1/2 pinch ground black pepper, and a full pinch of Kosher salt in a small mason jar. Shake and ENJOY!!

Super Simple Vegetable Soup

Ever have one of those days where everything seems to take way longer than it should and nothing seems to go according to plan?  Yeah, me too.  I was planning to make this quick soup sometime later this week, but now my Saturday’s gone with car problems and I had to make a fast meal before getting some work done.

This super simple slurpy soup is very chopstick friendly!! It was actually inspired by a simple yet amazing vegetarian soup at a nearby Vietnamese eatery.  If you want something short on time but long on flavor, give this soup a try!  This recipe makes a big pot of soup (which I’ll eat all week), so feel free to cut the portions in 1/2.

Simple Vegetable Soup:

Who doesn't love a big bowl of hot slurpy comfort from time to time?

Equipment:

  • Large soup pot with lid, knife, cutting board, stove

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 stalks celery, cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 2 fat carrots, thinly sliced
  • 2 med yellow onions, cut into 1/4″ half-moons
  • The florets from 1 head of broccoli
  • 1/4 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 4 huge cloves garlic, cut into large chunks
  • 1 small head napa (or other white) cabbage, cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 10-12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped/torn
  • Cilantro (dried for mild; fresh for kapow!) to taste
  • 12 cups good vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 pkg pad thai rice noodles (or more if desired; other options include other pastas or white/jasmine rice)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, warm the vegetable stock over medium heat.  Don’t bring it to a boil yet – just get it hot.  As you prep your veggies, add them straight into the pot and let them slowly warm in the hot stock.  Cover the pot in between adding each veggie so the heat stays trapped in.  In order for them to reach al dente, I recommend prepping the veg in this order: celery, carrots, onion, garlic, green beans, broccoli, and lastly, the cabbage.
  2. Once all your veggies have been added to the pot, add the wine and bring the stock to a boil over medium high heat.  Once the soup is boiling, taste test and adjust your seasonings.  Add the rice noodles, basil, and cilantro.
  3. Boil the soup 4-5 mins or until your noodles are tender.  Serve piping hot.
  4. ENJOY!!