I’m usually not a huge salad eater, preferring my vegetables cooked up and served warm. But after the first month of winter I start craving craving fresh uncooked greens like there’s no tomorrow. It happens every year around the same time, and this year is no different. It started a couple weeks ago when I ordered a salad at a restaurant. It was a vegan restaurant. There’s really no excuse for this. I mean the salad was good, just so far off my typical ordering M.O. Well one thing led to another, and I’ve found myself buying greens and making salads. And you’re welcome, because this easy salad was born.…
Have you heard? Roasted cauliflower is the new Brussels sprouts! Well, I just made that up and there’s certainly enough room in my heart (and stomach) for both, but I’m definitely going through a big cauliflower phase right now (aka my entire life). Recently I was craving some mustard roasted veggies but there were no Brussels sprouts in the fridge (THE HORROR!), and so I made the easy swap for cauliflower. Turns out switching one brassica for another was the best decision we could have made, as mustard roasted cauliflower is the best roasted cauliflower and our current favorite way to consume the veggie. Did you know the mustard plant is also a brassica? It’s really no surprise that both cauliflower and brussels sprouts (and cabbage and turnips and more) taste great with prepared mustard. And when topped with a roasted and toasted creamy muhammara-inspired sauce it reaches the next level in vegetable eating. …
Eggplant seems to be a bit of a polarizing vegetable, which I sort of understand, as I’ve had some pretty mediocre and well, less than good, eggplant before. But when it’s cooked well, it is the perfect vehicle for flavor, and one of my favorite vegetables. It acts as a sponge, soaking up marinades and oil (because, let’s be real here, fats carry a lot of flavor). It can be roasted whole and mashed for soft and buttery texture, such as in mediterranean baba ganoush or an Indian baingan bharta. Or thinly sliced and fried for a crispy eggplant bacon sort of effect. The way eggplant is prepared in this dish leaves it tender but chewy and holding its shape. It soaks up a curry wet rub as it roasts under the broiler, then sits in a flavorful marinade, absorbing the salty, smokey, umami-rich flavors….
So, I know it’s been crazy hot all over the US this past week, with the Midwest in particular experiencing record breaking heat waves, but theoretically the first day of fall was just a few days ago and we’re supposed to be settling into our sweaters and steaming mugs of pumpkin spice lattes. Well, however hot the temperature, I can’t be the only one craving creamy and comforting warm foods. And this vegan cheesy eggplant casserole is exactly what I want to be eating right now!
The eggplant is baked with two layers of creamy vegan sauces. A silky smooth sauce makes the base and coats the slices of roasted eggplant, while a luscious vegan béchamel covers the whole thing. Handfuls of scallions are sprinkled throughout the layers for an oniony bite, and as an added (and optional) indulgence crumbled cultured nut cheese is tucked into the casserole….
If you’ve never had the Japanese dish nasu dengaku (miso-glazed eggplant), you’re in for a treat! The first time I ate it I had to wonder what sorcery happened to the eggplant. How is something so simple SO good? It’s like, just eggplant, with a miso glaze broiled on top of it. The eggplant becomes so tender, without succumbing to mushiness, and that miso-glaze is a savory flavor bomb. Here it’s paired with crisp and chili-flecked marinated cucumbers for a juicy, spicy bite, and stuffed into corn tortillas for easy handheld eating….
So, we bought a house last week! We are super excited about it. The house is in a neighborhood of DC that we love (only a few blocks away from our rental apartment), and we have a yard for the first time ever (as adults)! It’s also been an incredibly busy and stressful time, with only 4 weeks from contract to settlement. Everything has been in high gear and I’m ready for a vacation–or rather, a staycation because I never want to leave our new house! We moved on Sunday and are 98% settled in, everything is unpacked but we still have artwork to hang and a few things left to arrange. Our dog Selkie loves her yard and all the squirrel watching she can do, while our cat Minx feels like she should be allowed outside as well. As for me, I’m so excited to cook in our beautiful new kitchen! I actually baked my first 2 loaves of sourdough bread this morning, and they came out SO perfectly!
Monday was a very exciting day over here, as it marked 1 year of marriage. And to celebrate our anniversary, I made a mini-feast for dinner inspired by the food at our wedding. We got married last summer at the Sofitel in downtown Chicago, and the menu had a French Mediterranean theme, was 100% vegan, and 100% amazing. Honestly, we had so many people compliment the food! We especially heard a lot about how much people loved the soup served with the first course: corn velouté. It was dish I had never heard of before our menu tasting, but enjoyed it so much I knew I had to recreate it!
Velouté is apparently not usually a soup, but one of the five mother sauces of France. Traditionally it is made with as broth and roux based gravy then blended into a emulsion with unmelted butter. However, corn velouté appears to be a slightly different beast, with the corn itself supplying the body to the sauce. It is delicately flavored, so the pure sweet corn flavor shines through, and pureed in a blender before being poured through a fine mesh strainer to separate out any solids for the smoothest, richest texture….
Pan roasted cauliflower rubbed with smoked paprika, french lentils simmered with thyme, chewy sweet and salty shiitakes, and the smokiest zippiest sauce to finish it off. This recipe is oh so delicious. It’s of the cuisine I’ve named Pan-European, with cauliflower being from the Mediterranean, smoked paprika being Eastern European, the lentils being French (duh), and the sauce inspired from the Catalan salbitxata (which really seems to be a version of romesco that also includes tomatoes). And the shiitakes, well, they don’t quite fit into my analogy, given that I’ve used a mushroom from East Asia for it’s preferable texture.
I really love this recipe. I love the smokey flavors and the contrast of textures from the different components. I love how it can be dressed up and plated beautifully for a fancy dinner, or tossed together in a bowl and brought to your weekend potluck. I love that it includes my favorite things: cauliflower, lentils, a flavor-packed creamy sauce. You’ll note I don’t mention mushrooms, because, to be honest I don’t love them and they are there for my husbands benefit (and yours)….
I’m not sure how something with such a short ingredient list can be so insanely good. Well actually, I do get it, because every ingredient in the sauce has such a complex flavor (not including the water, of course!). This was one of those dishes that I couldn’t stop talking about. During dinner I not-so-humbly proclaimed I was a genius, the next day I had to text my husband about how much I liked it while eating it for lunch. This recipe is really easy to make. Everything is baked in the oven for hands off cooking, while bringing out the best flavor and texture from the vegetables and tofu. The sauce is as simple as it gets, combine a few ingredients then mix it up with a fork. As an added bonus, clean up is minimal, especially if you use parchment paper. This recipe is really worth trying. You might find that it sneaks its way into your regular rotation!…
I spent too long thinking about how to share these recipes. Because while they are really good together, they are also excellent on their own. And I worried that if I shared them in the same post I’ll get people thinking that if they’re trying one they HAVE to try the other. On the other hand, I love having complete meals handed to me, and together this is it: protein, green veggies, and carbohydrates. So if you want to make BBQ tofu but want to serve it with some cooked broccoli instead, do it. Or if you want to make the collards to serve alongside some beans or a sandwich or something, do it. Both the tofu and the greens are great mix-and-match dishes.
There are probably a million and one barbecue sauce recipes out there, and seemingly as many available pre-packaged at the store. If you’ve never made a homemade barbecue sauce before, I implore you to try it! This one happens to be really easy to make, and it’s zippy and tangy and so flavorful. All you need is a blender and some pantry friendly ingredients. It’s so quick to throw together for a last minute/you forgot to plan ahead sort of dinner….