Saturday, November 12, 2016

Tempeh Meatballs


These meatballs are one of my favorite ways to use tempeh- a fermented soybean cake rich in protein, fiber and iron. As a fermented product, the soy in tempeh is partly "pre-digested", making it is easier for us to digest and assimilate. It is also much less refined than tofu (another soy product), making it my preferred whole-food vegetarian protein source.

The entire recipe is put together in the food processor, making it a cinch to throw together on a week night.



My daughter likes to snack on them on their own- I like them with spaghetti squash or as part of a Thanksgiving feast. The flavors fit right in!



Tempeh Meatballs
Serves 4

Ingredients

8 oz. package tempeh, cubed
1 tbs. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tbs. fresh thyme leaves, minced
¼ cup brown rice flour
3 tbs. olive oil
1 ½ tbs. tamari
1/4 tsp. chili flakes, optional
1 tbs. maple syrup

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large food processor, pulse tempeh until crumbled. Add fresh herbs, rice flour, olive oil, tamari, chili flakes and maple syrup and pulse until well processed and beginning to form a ball. Taste, and adjust with additional salt and pepper flakes if desired.

Roll mixture into 12 meatballs and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, rotate and roll over and continue for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Cauliflower "Couscous"



Cauliflower is really making a comeback these days, I'm not sure if you've noticed. Mashed Cauliflower, Cauliflower Pizza Crust, Cauliflower Steaks- is there anything it can't do?



Here is my version of a Mediterranean Couscous dish, that uses minced cauliflower to replace the grain. Simple enough to go under a heartier main dish (ragout or curried chickpeas come to mind), yet flavorful enough to stand up on it's own, this is a dish that will bring a smile to your lips without weighing you down.





Cauliflower Couscous

Serves 6

Ingredients
1 medium head cauliflower
1 tbs. coconut or olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced finely
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
dash of turmeric
a few sprigs fresh curry leaves, optional
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbs. parsley, or cilantro

Directions

Pulse garlic in food processor to mince. Add cauliflower florets, in batches, pulsing until you achieve roughly to the size of couscous.

Heat oil in a large heavy pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add cauliflower and garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes, until tender. Add salt, pepper, turmeric, curry leaves and golden raisins. Stir to combine. Remove to serving dish and garnish with parsley or cilantro.

Relax. Eat Well.



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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Pinto Bean and Vegetable Tamale Pie


I've been making tamale pies for some time, they are such a quick and easy twist on a traditional tamale, with a larger emphasis on the filling than the dough that surrounds it. They are easy to make in bigger batches, to freeze the extra portions, or serve to a crowd. 

Masa harina is a very finely ground cornmeal treated with limestone. It is the key to authentic tamale and tortilla dough- you should be able to find it at most well stocked natural food stores.

Feel free to vary the vegetables according to the season, just don't forget the ripe avocado and fresh cilantro for the top.

Pinto Bean and Vegetable Tamale Pie
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 tbs. coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yam, diced
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 ears corn, or 1 cup frozen, kernels removed
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder
1 tbs. tamari
1 ½ cups pinto beans, or one can
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups masa harina
1 tsp. baking powder
1-2 cups water or vegetable stock
2 tbs. olive oil

1 cup shredded cheddar or pepper jack, optional

Directions

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and yam, stir and cover. Cook for 15 minutes or until yam is soft, adding a tablespoon of water as needed to prevent sticking and stirring occasionally. When yam is soft, add red pepper, cumin, oregano and corn, cook 5 minutes. Add chipotle powder, tamari, beans and 1/4 cup water to skillet, continuing to cook until the ingredients have come together and the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, combine masa harina and baking powder. Stir in 1 cup of water or stock and olive oil. You should have a firm but slightly tacky dough. If it seems too dry, add more water/stock as needed.

Transfer bean and sweet potato mixture into a small baking 9x9 baking pan. Spread masa dough in an even layer to cover. Top with grated cheese, if using.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until masa is firm to the touch and cheese is beginning to brown.

Relax. Eat Well.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Indian Stuffed Eggplant


I've been craving Indian food lately, and with a large order of local eggplants just in, I thought this would be a perfect time to share one of my favorite Indian preparations. This is a recipe I first learned from an inspiring chef, Thom, from the Millbrook Inn in Waitsfield. He hosted a wonderful Indian cooking class every summer based on his Peace Corps years there, and most of my staple recipes came from those classes. It's been adapted, paired down, then beefed up over the years, but it still reminds me of Thom every time I prepare it.



The variety of spices used in Indian cooking is not only responsible for the complex, satisfying flavors unique to that part of the world, but also the health benefits they impart. Turmeric, a potent antioxidant, helps fight free radicals and inflammation, while cumin, ginger and garlic all aid in digestion and boost the immune system.


You can use this stuffing with a variety of vegetables based on what is in season- tomatoes, summer squash and zucchini all work well.

Indian Stuffed Eggplant
Serves 2-4

Ingredients

1 large eggplant

1-inch slice of ginger
2 garlic cloves
2 tbs. roasted salted peanuts
2 tbs. chickpea flour
1 tbs. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/8 tsp. red chili flakes
1 tbs. cumin
1 tbs. coriander
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. raw sugar
3/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
1/2 cup cilantro
juice of a small slice of lime

2 tbs. coconut oil
1 tsp. mustard seed
1/2- 3/4 cup water

Directions

Cut a large cross into the eggplant, cutting halfway deep, careful not to let cut through completely.

In a food processor, mince garlic and ginger. Add peanuts, chickpea flour and coconut flakes. Pulse to mince. Add red chili flakes though lime juice and continue to pulse, scraping the sides down occasionally, until a crumbly paste forms.

Stuff paste deep into the cross in the eggplant.

Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds and cover, letting the seeds pop for one minute. Add eggplant, stuffing side up. Pour water into bottom of pan and cover to steam, cooking for 20-30 minutes, checking every ten minutes and adding water if necessary and rotating pan. Eggplant is done when soft all the way through.

Relax. Eat Well.



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Your Freezer Can Save You Money

When it comes to preserving food, I'm much more likely to use my freezer than to break out the canning equipment. Granted, I have a bigger freezer than most, but even without tons of space there are plenty of ways you can preserve food in your freezer to save time and money in the future. Here are my favorites:



Citrus Zest

Organic produce is expensive, and I try to use every bit. Whenever I am using citrus for it's juice, whether it be lemon, lime or orange, I first zest the peel. If I don't want to use it in the current recipe, I simply put it in a small container in the freezer for the next recipe I come across that calls for zest. That way I don't have to buy a whole new fruit just for the zest!

Ginger

Ginger is one of those ingredients most people buy for a recipe, and then months later find the remaining stub in the back of a fridge drawer, dried up or moldy. No more! Simply wash your ginger well and stick it in a bag in the freezer. I don't even peel mine- you'll never notice. When you're ready to use it, simply let it sit out for a few minutes to thaw slightly, and using that handy microplane, grate the amount you need. You'll notice most of the peel will just remain on the top of the microplane anyway. The rest goes right back in the freezer. Frozen ginger will last for up to a year!


Fruit and Vegetables

When the harvest season is in full swing, I try to stock my freezer with a number of vegetables that can be enjoyed year round. My favorites are: roasted red peppers, herbs (as pesto or as whole leaves), lightly steamed edamame pods, corn cut off the cob and berries.

Beans

It is much cheaper (and tastier!) to cook your own beans than to buy cans. But who has the time and energy to soak and boil every time?!? No worries- simply cook off a large batch at once, and freeze the cooked beans in smaller portions in freezer bags to be pulled out as needed. You could freeze them in can-size portions (about 2 cups) for added convenience. You don't even need to plan ahead- if you need the beans right away, pull them out of the freezer, dump them into a strainer and run hot water until they are thawed. I usually have both chickpeas and black beans stocked in the freezer at any given time, as well as whichever other varieties have caught my fancy recently (right now that's adzuki and cannelloni beans).

Grains

It's easy to end up with leftover grains, rice in particular. Instead of letting them go hard sitting in the fridge unused, I freeze my leftover grains and pull them out the next time I want to make veggie burgers. Throw them in the food processor with whatever other ingredients you are using (beans, vegetables, cheese, tofu, herbs etc.) and you're off to a great start!


Frozen Meals

It is much easier to double a meal once in a while than have to cook every single night. I try to do this regularly, and freeze the extra portions in freezer bags, so that I always have a variety of meals to choose from when I just don't have the time or energy to cook. Right now I am stocked with: Pumpkin Baked Mac and Cheese, Tamale Pie, Beet Burgers and Black Bean and Sweet Potato Burritos. Also perfect for a last-minute lunch to bring to work.

I hope this post helps inspire you to put that freezer to work! If you need any extra convincing, it is true that a full freezer actually takes less energy to run than an empty one.

Happy freezing!

Relax. Eat Well. 





Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Peppercorn Pickled Ramps


Ramp season. You know it's my favorite. But it is so fleeting! This recipe will allow you to preserve your ramps to enjoy for months to come. 


For more on where to look for ramps, how to harvest them sustainably and a recipe for the greens you won't be using here, check out my Wild Dandelion and Ramp Pesto post. Or hop over to find out how to make them into a seriously addicting compound Ramp Butter. Both are great ways to fill your freezer so you will never have to be without. 


I happened to have some beautiful pink peppercorns for this recipe, straight from California. In the case that you don't, regular black peppercorns will be just fine. Don't let the type of vinegar stop you either- any mild white vinegar will do- white wine vinegar or rice vinegar for example. 


Peppercorn Pickled Ramps

Recipe inspired by Bon Appetit

Ingredients

1 cup ramp bulbs, greens saved for another use
1 tsp pink of black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 red chilis
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tbs. raw sugar
3/4 tsp. salt

Directions

Clean ramps well and remove bulbs from greens. Dry and save the greens for another use- they are great in salads or pestos.

Place ramp bulbs, peppercorns, bay leaves and chilis in a pint size mason jar.

In a small pot, bring vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil. Pour over ramps to fill the jar. Cool, cover and store in fridge for weeks to months.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Toasted Breadcrumbs


This is pure comfort food. Since it is April and still feels like winter, I'm allowing it. 

Finding a love for whole foods can be a journey, which sometimes takes years to develop and cement. It's a transition, and like any other transition, baby steps are often necessary. This is a great recipe for a transitional kitchen, one that helps convince skeptics that whole foods and healthier ingredients can still be delicious and satisfying. And so the momentum builds. And bellies are warmed.

For the deepest flavor, I highly recommend roasting a pumpkin (or any winter squash) and scooping out the inside to be used in this recipe. If you are short on time or energy, canned pumpkin puree can be used, and will still be delicious (just not as delicious!). So no excuses.

This recipe can be made vegan by simply omitting the cheddar cheese. Or you can swing the other way and increase the dairy by using cow's milk in place of soy milk. Either way, I promise you'll love it. 

You can even make a double batch, and freeze the second one in lunch size portions. One of our secrets to weekday success is having a stocked freezer from past meals. I chill the second one, cut it into desired portions, place those on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to freeze, and then move each one into a labeled quart sized freezer bag. 

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Toasted Breadcrumbs
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 1/2 cups soy milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp. salt 
pinch of nutmeg
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
a dash of turmeric, optional
Additional salt and pepper, as needed

1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta shells, cooked
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

2 tbs. sage leaves, sliced thinly

Directions

Cook shells al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil over low-medium heat in a medium pot. Add diced onions and cook until translucent. Sprinkle in flour and stir constantly for one minute, to toast slightly. Slowly pour in soy milk, a half cup or so at a time, stirring with a whisk to prevent clumping. Once incorporated, add pumpkin and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often, or until thickened. Add shredded cheese, salt, nutmeg, black pepper and dash of turmeric. Taste and season with additional salt if needed (don't under-salt!)

Mix pumpkin cheese sauce with cooked pasta shells and pour into a oiled baking pan. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake in 350 degree oven for 25 minutes, or until sides are bubbling and breadcrumbs are toasty. Serve garnished with sage. 

Relax. Eat Well.