A few weeks ago I purchased a bottle of pomegranate molasses at a gourmet warehouse sale. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but it was a pretty bottle and sounded good. Inspiration found me when I stumbled across this Food & Wine recipe for Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses and after I got a 3 for $2 deal on Eggplant at the Grand Central Market during a jury duty lunch excursion, I decided to make the stew this week.
Alterations: I forgot to buy an onion so I chopped up a couple of shallots instead. I also used a lot less oil, which may have been why I burned the hell out of some of the stew. The problem could also have been not stirring enough or the level of heat. I added a little bit of honey after I finished cooking as well as the pomegranate molasses was quite tart.
Do-again?: This dish was tasty and had a very different flavor. I really liked the smooth texture of the eggplant and the slightly crunch of the lentils. The tart and heat from the chiles played off each other nicely.
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Every year we challenge ourselves to give something up for Lent. This year we decided to go Paleo. That meant this last week was filled with opportunities to eat all the grains and legumes we would be missing for the next 40 odd days. My CSA box this week included a beautiful fractal vegetable - the romanesco. I first spotted these unusual vegetables at the Campo di Fiori market in Rome and was excited to use one. Since 101 Cookbooks has never led me astray, I decided to try Heidi’s recipe for a Cilantro Noodle Bowl.
Alterations: Made as directed.
Do-again?: This was very fresh tasting and the method for cooking the tofu was awesome - tasted fried but used no oil!
While I love organic carrots, I do notice that they tend to go limp faster than the perfectly shaped nubs from the grocery store. This means, when I get them in my CSA box, I feel pressured to use them as quickly as possible. After a few days of beautiful 80 degree weather, LA remembered that it’s actually winter and turned grey and rainy, which is why LovesVeggiesandYoga’s recipe for Roasted Carrot and Red Pepper Peanut Soup fit the bill.
Alterations: After blending and tasting the soup, I thought it needed a little kick so I added some red pepper flakes and dried thai basil and gave it a few more whirrs of the food processor. I forgot to add the agave/honey.
Do-again?: My boyfriend loved this soup as he loves anything with peanut butter in it. This was really easy to make - just roasted some veggies and dump a can of coconut milk into the food processor. Would love to try this with other veggie combos.
I love broccoli in pretty much all forms. It is the vegetable that I crave the most often these days. Even though we’d had a bit of a broccoli binge last week, I wasn’t disappointed when my CSA delivered more. We were both feeling a little sick this week and I wanted to make a soup - but cheesy broccoli soup didn’t seem like it was going to deliver the healing quotient I was in the mood for. Instead, Oh She Glow’s recipe for Energizing, Spicy Broccoli Dal sounded like it would put the pep back in our step.
Alterations: While the recipe called for almond milk, I didn’t have any on hand so I used a bit of regular milk. This recipe is easily amended to be vegan though. Since I used regular milk, I decided to skip the lemons as I had had some lemon-curdled milk tea earlier in the week and that picture was still in my mind.
Do-again?: I served this with some paratha from Trader Joe’s and thought it was delicious. Lots of warm, hearty flavor. I would probably kick up the spice factor a bit more next time to bring even more heat.
For our first book club meeting of the year, my group of ladies decided to make foods that symbolized good luck for the year ahead. We had ring shaped foods, pasta, pork, grapes and I volunteered to make something using the traditional Southern good luck charm, black-eyed peas. But I didn’t want to go the standard route so I tried Saveur’s Senegal Black-Eyed Pea Salad.
Alterations: Made as directed, with appropriate resting time. I used a small habanero pepper
Do-again?: The salad had a lot of crunch and the lime and pepper played well off of each other. I think this is a great way to bring in black-eyed peas without getting to heavy.
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It’s the new year, which means some heavy salad eating is in order to make up for the Christmas cookies and indulgence of December. Food & Wine’s Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad is so flavorful though that you won’t think twice about eating salad for dinner. The thinly sliced carrots provided the perfect excuse to use my new mandolin as well.
Alterations: Based on my pantry, I used a tricolor quinoa blend, baby spinach and dried cherries instead of cranberries.
Do-again?: I served this with a boxed Thai sweet potato soup, which I promptly scoffed and just ate two helpings of salad instead. This is definitely going on the make again list.
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I recently started receiving CSA boxes again - love the challenge of getting a box full of organic fruits and vegetables and figuring out what to do with them. This week, a couple of beets were tucked into my box. Hmm, I thought, what to do with a few lonely beets? Then I came across A House in the Hill’s recipe for Beet Hummus - the perfect thing for me to bring to a friend’s house to share.
Alterations: Followed the directions, adding a bit of lemon pepper seasoning. Served with multigrain pita crackers, though I imagine it would also be great with crisp carrots.
Do-again?: The beet flavor doesn’t come through too much but my isn’t it a pretty color. Would be great for a Xmas or Valentine’s themed party as a healthy but festive snack.
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My book club recently read the magical novel, The Night Circus. So we thought it would be fitting to have a carnival themed dinner when we discussed the book. However, carnies aren’t known for healthy eating. We had turkey corn dogs, corn on the cob, shrimp skewers, kettle corn and nuts. To add a little freshness but still stay on theme, I decided to make a caramel sauce to dip apples in. When searching for a recipe, I decided to give a raw recipe a try to make it even healthier: My New Roots’ Raw Salted Caramel Apple Dip.
Alterations: I used raw almond butter and subbed vanilla extract for the vanilla bean.
Do-again?: While the texture of the dip didn’t quite read caramel, the flavor profile was pretty close and definitely went well with the Honeycrisp apple slices. I’d also like to try this as a spread on bread in the morning. This was a great way to get something sweet without refined sugar or too much guilt.
One of the cuisines that I have been enjoying more and more of in the last few years is Indian food, which is why I leaped at the chance to take an Indian cooking class with Kaumudi Marathe at Un-Curry. Kaumudi was a great teacher, explaining the spice and cooking techniques that form the background for Indian cooking. I look forward to applying her techniques to seasonal produce and following her class, I got a mini seasoning wok and a spice box to house my new spices. Kaumudi also aims to teach people about the diversity of Indian food and go beyond the familiar staples like Tikka Masala. In her class, we cooked a full vegetarian feast, and to my surprise, my favorite dish ended up being a cabbage salad. I enjoyed it so much, I ended up making it this week at home.
Marathi Cabbage Slaw with Mustard Seed and Chiles
12 oz. cabbage, finely chopped/grated
a handful or more of grated carrot
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespooon chopped fresh cilantro
1 minced green chili
the juice of 1 lemon
salt and sugar to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon tumeric
10-12 curry leaves
Toss all the salad ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Taste and correct with salt, sugar and lemon.
Heat the oil in a small pan til almost smoking. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Turn off the heat and add the tumeric, followed by the curry leaves. When they stop sizzling, pour the seasoning over the salad and toss well. Adjust with salt and more lemon juice. Serve garnished with fresh cilantro.
Alterations: When I made this at home, I realized my cilantro was no good so skipped it and also used lime in place of lemon juice.
Do-again?: Clearly, if this is the second time I’ve had it this week, the proof is in the, er salad?
Earlier this week I bought a bag of yellow beans at the Farmer’s Market, inspired by 101 Cookbooks recipe for Yellow Bean Salad, to bring over to a friend’s house for an end-of-summer backyard BBQ. After a super warm day, it was one of those perfect LA nights where you could literally sit outside all night. I was a little worried about bringing a salad with tofu in it to a party where I didn’t know the guests, but luckily for me, not only was no one picky but there were a few vegetarians who welcomed the unusual-for-a-BBQ option.
Alterations: I substituted some pistachios for the pepitas since I had some in my pantry.
Do-again?: I thought this was a nice change of pace and was tasty, but would probably try out some other salads before making this again.
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