Tag Archive for 'vegetables'

Prep Work

I was tired yesterday and the only thing I wanted to do, other than sleeping, was to cook or bake something. Sleeping wasn’t an option. All three kids were at home with me and my husband was sitting on an airplane to Beijing. The kids were tired too, and in need for entertainment, so I asked them to bake the cookies while I prepare dinner. I got a bit carried away after a long stare into the refrigerator. I had been on a bit of a food shopping binge lately and there were more vegetables in my fridge than we would ever be able to eat. I decided to prep and cook them in order to speed up and facilitate our dinner preparation this week. So out came the cauliflower, broccoli, beets, pumpkin, squash, parsnips, chard, kale and mushrooms. With the oven already on, I quickly turned the kale into sesame kale chips (recipe later this week), while I chopped and sliced the rest. The sugar pumpkin, was cut into 1 inch cubes for roasting, while the squash was halved, deseeded and roasted cut side down. I scrubbed the beets, drizzled them with oil and put them into a small roasting pan, covered with aluminium foil. I cut the parsnips into 1/2 inch x 2 inch sticks, drizzled more olive oil over them and found the last free spot for them inside the oven.

I am not sure if you ever roasted your cauliflower (it took me 10 + years of steaming, before switching over), but now I don’t want to eat it any other way anymore. I remove all leaves and the thick middle stalk from the cauliflower, place it on a cutting board, stem side down, and slice it between 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. I break apart the slices to get bite size pieces and place them in a bowl, together with 1 teaspoon turmeric, salt and freshly ground pepper and yet again, olive oil. Everything gets a good mix in the bowl, before I spread it on a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roasting time is 20-30 minutes on 375 F (190C), or until the edges start to turn brown.

While my oven was going at full speed, I cut the mushrooms into quarters, minced 4 cloves of garlic, removed the thick stems of the chard and cut it into 1 inch slices. In a large pan, I sauteed the garlic first in some olive oil, added the mushrooms and a tiny bit of white wine, salt and pepper and cooked everything until tender, less than 10 minutes. I removed the mushrooms from the pan, careful to leave some of the garlic behind, and added the chard and a little more white wine. I put the lid on and cooked the greens until just wilted, less than 5 minutes. After a bit of seasoning and a good stir, I removed the chard from the pan into a bowl.

The beets were done after about one hour and I peeled the skin right off them once they had cooled down a bit. I scraped the flesh out of the acorn squash and put it into a bowl ready for a quick soup or risotto. Here is a picture of the beets and everything else.

All of this didn’t take me more than a couple of hours and with the result, we are set for a range of delicious meals in the coming days. I had cooked a pot full of chickpeas as well, so we didn’t need to go protein free.

Yesterday night we had this:

I sauteed a diced onion, added some of the roasted pumpkin pieces, half of the mushrooms and chard, a few handfuls of chickpeas, a little white wine and chicken stock. I ate mine with left over rice, while the kids had theirs with pasta and a good bit of parmesan sprinkled over it. Yum!

Today, we had pumpkin soup with ginger and coconut milk. Tomorrow it’ll be beets with goats cheese for lunch, roast vegetable pizza for dinner and frittata on Thursday. The rest of the chickpeas will either be turned into hummus with the remaining pumpkin thrown right in or I’ll make my beloved pumpkin and chickpea salad. One thing I didn’t do was caramelizing a few onions, which would have been another great addition to any of those meals. Next time!

 

Stir-Fry with Soba Noodles

Ever since eating at Wagamama in London in the mid-90s, I love soba noodles. The texture and hint of buckwheat make them perfect in soups and stir-fries. Ideally I’d buy the 100% buckwheat ones, but being prized around AU$10 (US$ 8) for 250g, I gladly stick to the ones containing mainly whole wheat and only a small amount of buckwheat. They’re not gluten-free and will therefore not be perfect for everyone, but for now and for us, they’ll do.

Almost any vegetables in any quantities and combination work well in this dish, so whatever you like and is in season is good. It’s a great way to get rid of bits and pieces stuck to the bottom of you fridge. If I use pumpkin, I usually peel and dice it, toss it in oil and roast for 20 minutes or until tender. I then add it to the remaining vegetables just before serving; this way the pumpkin won’t turn to mush. I do the same with the tofu, cutting it into small cubes, seasoning it with toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper, before spreading it out on a roasting pan and baking it for 15 minutes. When slightly browned and firmed up, I add it to the other vegetables. I like to add a little vegetable broth or miso for extra slurpiness and dulse flakes for their nutritional value, but neither is essential.

As you’ll notice below, I use natural and toasted sesame oil. The toasted one has a strong taste and I like to use it as a seasoning rather than for frying. If you want to buy only one of the two, by the natural one, you can use it for most asian-inspired dishes. If you have neither at hand, canola or peanut oil work as well.

If I have home made vegetable or chicken stock at hand, I frequently turn this dish into a soup. I first put the cooked noodles in individual bowls, top them with vegetables and tofu, pour some broth over it and sprinkle with coriander. Yum!

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 1/2 9.5 oz packages Soba noodles

1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped

3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1 small broccoli, cut into florets

1/3 cauliflower, cut into florets

2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and the into 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) half moons

2 carrots, peeled and cut into dice

2 hand fulls snow peas, trimmed and cut in half

1 punnet mushrooms, trimmed and halved or quartered

1/4 pumpkin, peeled and diced

2 packages firm tofu, drained

1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves and thin stems only, chopped

4 spring onions, cut into small rings

1 tablespoon dulse flakes

1-2 cups vegetable or miso broth

low-sodium soy sauce

sesame oil, natural and toasted

sea salt and pepper

Method

Preheat oven to 180 C (350F). Toss pumpkin pieces with natural sesame oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread on baking tray and roast until done (approx 20 min). Cut tofu into 1 cm (1/2″) dice, toss with toasted sesame oil, a few glugs of soy sauce, salt and pepper and bake in oven for 15 minutes until lightly browned and crisp on the outside.

While pumpkin and tofu are baking, heat water in large pasta pot to cook soba noodles. Try and time it so that your noodles are ready approximately at the same time as your vegetables. The noodles only need a couple of minutes to cook (100% soba noodles need a little longer) and stick together quite vehemently if you drain them and leave them sitting in the pot. I add a bit of broth and sesame oil to the noodles as soon as they are done and divide them into large bowls as quickly as possible.

While your noodle water is getting ready, heat up vegetable broth or water for miso.

At the same time, heat 2 tablespoons of natural sesame oil (canola works as well) in a deep fry pan or wok, add ginger and garlic and fry for about a minute. Be careful it will burn quickly. Add remaining vegetables and fry, stirring frequently, until vegetables are done, but still have a nice bite to them. You can add a bit of water to the vegetables, if they don’t release enough moisture. When the texture is just right for you, add roast pumpkin, tofu, spring onions and dulse flakes, season with salt and pepper and mix gently. Pour some broth over it, carefully not turning it into soup (unless that’s what you’re going for, see above), and garnish with chopped coriander.

Fish and Vegetable Curry

When we lived in Thailand I never ate much curry. I know you think there must be something wrong with me. Of course I loved the flavors (unless the only detectable flavor was super-hot chili), but I always missed the vegetables. Thai curries are mostly meat or shrimp based and have lot’s of inedible things in them.  Fish and vegetable curries are not as common  as they are in India or Cambodia.  So I searched the net for the perfect recipe, and when I didn’t succeed, I started experimenting with different ingredients, most of them traditional to any Asian curry. I came up with this recipe that fits all my criteria for an easy, healthy, super delicious and extremely versatile curry. You’ll find some ideas for variations at the bottom of the page, but really you can put in anything that is popular on your dinner table, even substituting meat or tofu for the fish. Give it a try, the outcome is amazing. The curry on the picture is slightly different than that in the recipe below. I made enough for 2 dinners and put in 1 broccoli, 1/2 cauliflower, green beans, snow peas, carrots, mushroom, kale, shrimp and fish. I served it with brown rice, but if you run out of time, just add more sweet potatos or regular potatoes. I also used more than a teaspoon of turmeric powder in my curry. It has an amazing range of medicinal properties, from anti-inflammatory, to anti-cancer, to anti-bacterial, to liver-detoxifier. We should include it in as many dishes as possible and I promise to help with that quest.

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2” cubes
  • 4 leaves kale, stem removed, leaves chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 zucchini, cut lengthwise and then into 1/2” pieces
  • 1 handful beans or snow peas, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp. sea  salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon mild curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes
  • 1 pound fillet firm white fish, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 -11/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 4 spring onions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

Directions:

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté garlic, lemongrass and ginger for 1 minute. Add the chopped sweet potato, sea salt and chili flakes, and continue to sauté for a couple of minutes.

Add about half a cup of water to the sweet potato and bring to a boil. Cover pot and simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the zucchini and remaining vegetables and continue to simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the fish and coconut milk, and simmer until the fish is almost cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes. (You can add an extra half cup of coconut milk or water if you prefer a more soupy consistency.) Add the chopped kale to the top of the stew, cover pot again and continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pot from stove, sprinkle on spring onions and coriander and drizzle with lime juice. Gently stir and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Variations:

  • You can substitute the sweet potato with 5 regular potatoes plus 1 carrot, cut into bit-sized chunks and omit the rice
  • For a vegan version, you could use firm tofu in place of the fish. Chickpeas are also a great addition. .
  • Examples of suitable fish are hiramasa, mahimahi, monkfish, sea bass, cod or halibut.
  • You can spice it up with fresh jalapeno instead of the chili flakes or 1 level teaspoon Thai green or red curry paste.
  • Use butternut squash or carrot, in place of the sweet potato, .