Okay, I know this is a little out there for some: every once in a while you get a craving for a nice creamy vegan rice bowl. Lots of almost bitter tahini dressing, a bunch of dark leafy greens, probably some seeds and a heaping of flavorful brown rice. It’s the kind of thing you find at a place like Life Alive in Cambridge. They’re right, it’s the kind of food that makes you feel great after eating it.
And during, too. I find that the more veggie-based meals I eat the more I want them,—I’m establishing a craving. Try it at least once, and I suspect you’ll return.
Besides which, it’s very easy and comes together quickly for a good weeknight meal.
Rice tahini bowl
Chard, or other dark leafy green
Sunflower, pumpkin, or other seeds or nuts
Apple cider vinegar
Garlic and/or ginger (optional)
Salt, pepper, and other spices as desired
Start with the rice. I highly recommend cooking it with coconut milk (adds an extra depth); cook as usual (cover with a half inch or so of water, bring to a boil, then simmer until cooked). Add more hot water if necessary to prevent burning.
Chop the chard and sauté with a little olive oil. When almost cooked (it will go fairly quickly; although kale takes a little longer to get soft), stir in some apple cider vinegar.
Make the dressing: Stir a big spoonful of tahini in with a little vinegar and some more oil, if desired. Add finely minced garlic and ginger (doesn’t need much) if you like as well. I recommend mixing in a jar and then putting on a lid and shaking it up. Taste, add salt and pepper and any other seasonings you like.
Rice-chard-seeds-dressing. Mix, taste, adjust, garnish with fresh herbs, lemon, and/or tomatoes if you have any lying around.
Dive in, and be happy.
It’s good with tofu too, other vinegars, coconut flakes, avocado, other veggies… and you can add cheese or stir in a little yogurt if you like too.
Summer is here! I am quite pleased. Go jump in the ocean if you haven’t yet.
(Sorry for the avocado toast taking up half that picture. Also delicious though, btw.)
As summer is road trip and picnic season, I thought I’d share with you the classic vegetarian staple, hummus, which is perfect for both activities. Note that the sort you eat has two m’s. The other is great and important to food too, but somewhat less appetizing: humus is dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays, according to National Geographic. Very important for nurturing the soil, but perhaps less delicious than its name cousin.
I would like to share this video with you all, as it encapsulates a few excellent points written by Nathanael Johnson at Grist over the past couple months. If it doesn’t embed properly here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtFU2_RydcQ
Feeding the world and ending poverty, you know, no biggy.
You do need a bit of tech for making hummus—a food processor—but the human element remains essential at least for determining taste preferences, like how much lemon to add. Fortunately if you add too much of one thing at the beginning you can always supplement with more of the other ingredients, and can prepare as much as hummus you like. It keeps well and while does better refrigerated, can survive a long trip without being kept very cold. Do make sure to put it in a good container though—especially if you put oil on the top, spillage is less than fun to clean up.
Also, don’t feel limited to using chickpeas! Other beans make fabulous dips and can vary the flavor and texture if you get bored with classic hummus. More on that below.
2 cups chickpeas, or other bean (I prefer cooking my own but a can works too), with a little of the the juice
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tahini
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
Cumin (or other seasonings)
Salt and pepper
Other seasonings (optional; see below)
Put everything in a blender and whir away. Taste and adjust seasoning, especially lemon. You can make it as smooth as you like—I can never seem to get mine to quite the consistency of store-bought hummus, but I’m not sure I’d like to anyway. Add water as necessary to help it blend.
If serving as a dip, I recommend putting a drizzle of olive oil on top and a little paprika for color.
Now the fun part: extras to blend in! This can be almost anything you want. Some suggestions:
-Lots of smoked paprika
-Green garlic or garlic scapes
-Roasted anything really (nuts, veggies, fruit??)
-Spinach or kale
-Go crazy! Tell me your best ones!
Like anything, play around to find out what you like. Start with your favorite kinds of flavors and go from there. Experiment with different beans too—I had an excellent black bean green garlic dip the other day that I aspire to recreate in the near future—probably will skip the tahini and add extra cumin.
The other fun part: how to eat it! The classic use is a dip for fresh veggies (carrots, celery, salad turnips, radishes, what have you) and pita chips. I also love it on toast, drizzled with a little extra olive oil (the fancy stuff if you have it) and some smoked paprika. Throw on a couple roasted beets if you like and take it to work as a sandwich. Also good in a wrap with a bunch of veggies (lettuce, tomato, avocado, sprouts, julienned kohlrabi, carrots, radishes, turnips, don’t forget the salt…).
One of my favorites is eating hummus with salad. Put a big dollop on the side of your plate and dip your fork into the hummus before every bite. Adds protein and delicious creaminess but keeps the indispensable quality that salad performs so well of feeling good after you eat it. Excellent with a good vinegar-y balsamic dressing.
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…
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?).
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
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.