Monthly Archives: June 2015

Socca, Lentils, and Lemon Radish Salad

socca, lentils, and mint lemon radish salad

Ah, the challenges of assembling a meal. Particularly vegetarian meals, because often there’s no focal point, but instead an amalgamation of various sides seeking harmony. Today I offer you a combination: three elements that are quite tasty alone, but perhaps not spectacular, yet together create a marvelous dinner.

Socca (also known as farinata, is a vegetarian staple I’ve been meaning to make for a while, and I would’ve done it much sooner had I realized quite how easy it is. Chickpea flour, water, a little oil, some time, and heat—very little labor. And so, so delicious.

Would your grandmother call this food? Either way, it’s definitely worth eating.

Other side note shareables: tips for container garden growing! Also, farmers are starting to use microbes (yep, the same organisms that are receiving accolades in the yogurt-kombucha-aged cheese-loving world) instead of pesticides! Keep working while we attempt to figure you out, nature.

socca batter

The Creation of this meal Story: I had been thinking about socca, and then I got some beautiful purple and red radishes in my CSA this week, along with some mint, and figured radish salad would be a lovely fresh addition. I could be happy with that combination for myself, but I like to fill out the plate a little more when there are other people around (and also, leftovers). The little gray cells landed on lentils: easy, a flavorful accompaniment, but generally not terribly exciting as a main course. Here, they perform their role more than admirably, providing heft and spice and heartening out the other two dishes. As for the salad, the lemon on the radishes cuts their sharpness enough to enjoy a plateful, and the mint wonderfully brightens the warmth of the lentils when ensemble. All scooped up with aromatic socca, I was quite pleased, and I think you will be too.

rosemary for socca

Socca recipe from Mark Bittman, the rest I just threw together.

Socca, lentils, and lemon-mint radish salad
Socca:
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup lukewarm water
Salt and pepper
Rosemary
1/2 onion, if desired

Red lentils, with plenty of spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger
Onions, chopped
Oil

2 bunches radishes
A few sprigs of mint
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

If you have time to mix the batter for the socca ahead of time, do so. Put chickpea flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then add water slowly, whisking to avoid lumps. When smooth, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and whisk again.

While that is sitting, cook the lentils: heat up dry spices until aromatic, then add oil and onions and cook until onions are soft. add lentils and stir until the lentils take on some color, but don’t let them burn—have water on hand. Add water, bring to a boil, then simmer until soft, around 20 minutes (red lentils disintegrate fairly quickly).

When ready to cook the socca, put a large cast iron pan in the oven and preheat to 450ºF. When hot, remove pan and add a little oil and some rosemary (you could also cook a few onions at this point, returning the pan to the oven until onions are brown, then adding them to the batter). Pour batter into hot pan (don’t forget oven mitts at any point in this process!) and cook for 10 or so minutes, until golden brown and set (actual length depends on how wide your pan is, which determines the thickness of the pancake; I admittedly burned mine a tad).

While the socca is cooking, wash and cut the radishes into quarters, or bite-size chunks depending on their size. Chop up mint and place both in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon (including pulp) over the radishes, add a little salt and pepper, toss, and taste. Adjust as needed.

Serve, and don’t worry if lemon juice from the radishes (it may even turn pink!) seeps into the lentils. Do try to avoid making the socca soggy though.

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Homemade Soba Noodles with Tofu Lemon Ginger Sauce

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You don’t need to make your own noodles for this. In fact, mine were far less than perfect and I might’ve been happier this go-around if I had used regular noodles. But so convinced am I of the possibilities of this arrangement that I’m sharing it with you anyway.

If you don’t feel the need to homemake everything, and want it as a quick weeknight meal, even one to feed a crowd if necessary, this is a great vegetarian (vegan even, and gluten-free if you use all-buckwheat soba noodles) dish. The novelty of this particular recipe is that both ginger and garlic are raw and in fairly large quantities—the real trick is to get the right ratio of lemon-ginger-garlic, which really you can only do by tasting and adjusting.

You could even make this with raw tofu if you were feeling impatient. Although I definitely advocate soaking and frying—more flavor and fat=always good.

What else is new(s)? How about food as the feature of the World’s Fair (who knew that was still a thing?) this year? Some pretty neat innovations if you ask me. If anyone feels like sponsoring me on a trip to Italy I’ll tell you about it…

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If you do decide to make your own noodles, you will need flour (buckwheat and regular), water, a pasta machine or lots of elbow grease, possibly some other starches, and lots of patience. Rolling out all the noodles—after having kneaded the dough for a while—does take quite a bit of time.

I’m going to cheat here and link you to the recipe I used, with a few notes here. I hate making you go back and forth but The Kitchn explains it much better than I would at this point, and the Internet has enough duplication anyway. But to add some personality, a few more specifics: you can use a pasta machine to roll it out, and it’ll make it easier on you. However, make sure not to roll it too thin—I’d only go through the first couple settings, down to 5 or maybe 4 if your pasta machine is like mine (well, my roommate’s, but that’s the benefit of living with people!) and has 7 settings, 7 as the thickest. I would also not use the cutting pasta attachment (f you have one), and instead fold and cut then yourself, to make them at least half as wide. My problem was that I made the noodles too thin, and then when I cooked and mixed them around it turned into noodle mush (they may also have been overcooked). Still tasted good though—I really like the flavor of buckwheat in this dish (can you tell that buckwheat is my new obsession?).

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Alternatively, you could just do what it says to do in the recipe and roll it out my hand. I just figured, since I had a pasta machine, may as well use it.

Tofu Lemon Ginger Pasta
1 package (~1/2 lb) tofu
1/4 cup or more soy sauce
Pasta: soba noodles, linguine, or homemade of either
4 cloves garlic or to taste
A large thumb of ginger or to taste
1/2 lemon or to taste
Other seasonings, as desired (sesame oil, turmeric...)
Bok choy or other veg
Red pepper flakes
Scallions
Parmesan cheese

Start with the tofu, since that’ll take the most time (by the way, we’ve done this before)—cut into 1-inch cubes and marinate in soy sauce for as long as you can. Heat up a good 1/3 inch (more if you can spare it) of vegetable oil in a pan until quite hot and add the tofu. Stand back and cover with a mesh protector if you have one handy, it’ll spit. Let fry on one side for a few minutes, then flip them all around, and repeat, until you have little golden cubes of tofu. Remove from the pan onto a plate lined with a paper towel. If you want to make it easier on yourself, you can just cut strips of tofu and fry those (easier to flip four strips than 20 little cubes), then cut up into cubes when you take them out. Almost as good.

Boil water for pasta and cook pasta, either while the tofu is frying (for regular pasta) or right after you take it out (for fresh).

For the sauce: mince ginger and garlic until very, very fine. This is a good use for your grater (ginger) and garlic press (garlic) (if I had a garlic press I’m not sure I would use it that often, since I tend to like my garlic chunkier and you have to take out the piece that was in the press anyway and chop it up if you don’t want to waste it. But, handy for certain tasks). Put in a large bowl and squeeze half a lemon into it. Taste and adjust as necessary—you may need to do so again after the pasta is added, since it will absorb quite a bit of the flavor. Add some sesame oil and turmeric if you feel like it.

Sauté a little bok choy or other veggies (spinach? green beans? carrots even?). Mix pasta with sauce, then top with tofu, bok choy, red pepper flakes, scallions (and/or parsley) and a little parmesan if you’re feeling it, and serve. Good warm, room temperature, or cold.

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