Miso Vegetables and Rice with Black Sesame Dressing


Yotam Ottolenghi’s newest cookbook, “Plenty More,” arrived yesterday. I confess – I preordered – and was so excited when it arrived at my door! This dish looked perfect for a night in where I was feeling “comfort food” with an Asian angle. The key to this recipe is to prepare all the vegetables ahead of time, because they each braise quickly in a miso, vegetarian dash broth. I chopped all of my vegetables ahead of time, and plated them for easy access.

IMG_0745    This dish also has a base of sushi rice. I had forgotten just how tender and sweet this rice can be, even without the added sugar and rice vinegar you often find in other recipes. Sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumber, and bok choy from my garden (instead of the broccolini from the recipe) and some beautiful organic beech mushrooms. Topped with fresh cilantro, chili, roasted peanuts, black sesame seeds and rice wine vinegar, this was a great dinner, and leftovers made a great lunch the next day!


Steamed Eggplant with Miso-Tomato Sauce

steamed eggplant with miso-tomato sauce

I bought some adorable little asian eggplants, and there they lay, lingering in my fridge, waiting for me to make myself a dinner. I love asian varieties of eggplant, as they tend to be more tender, and less bitter than their larger, Italian cousins. With not much time or desire to put together a large meal for just myself, and even less desire to spend time over the stove on a sweltering 98 degree Philadelphia day, I pulled a recipe from Joe Yohan’s very fun cookbook, “Eat Your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook.” All recipes in this cookbook are vegetable-based, and intended for solo meals.  Not too many ingredients, not to much time, but a whole lot of flavor.

I altered the recipe a bit to use what I had available – some homemade Coconut Vinegar that my friend Joel gave me (and warned me to open quickly, as the yeast was still alive!) and some roasted almonds instead of peanuts. I also used the same pan and boiling water which I used to steam the eggplant for boiling the udon noodles. Less time – less mess! Altogether, about 6 minutes of total hands-on cooking, and a great, quick dinner.

A brief recipe summary, with my alterations:


Steamed Eggplant with Miso-Tomato Sauce 

One small eggplant, or a few tiny asian eggplants. Slice into rounds, salt, and steam until soft (about 20 minutes)

A nice hunk of ginger, diced, and cooked in 2 teaspoons of sesame oil until soft

2 Tbs. of miso, whisked with 1 Tbs. of vinegar (I used homemade coconut vinegar). Add the miso sauce to the ginger, stir.

A big diced tomato, or 3/4 cup organic crushed tomatoes, or tomato sauce. Added to the sauce.

1 serving of cooked udon noodles (or soba). Top the noodles with the eggplants and the sauce, and then garnish with chopped almonds (or peanuts, or roasted sesame seeds) and diced scallion.

Dinner Party Club – Japanese April

Tofu Pocket-Sushi
Tofu Pocket-Sushi

Longing for Spring, and overjoyed by the produce at Iovine’s, and inspired by the recent cherry-blossom festivals on the East Coast, I decided to go Japanese-style with this month’s Dinner Party Club meal. I started the meal off with these cute little “pocket” sushi – tofu puffs soaked and split and filled with saki rice, carrots, and black sesame seeds.

Fruit Spring Rolls
Fruit Spring Rolls

The first spring rolls of the year always come out a little lumpy, and these were no exception. They were, however, tasty and non-traditionally filled with kiwi, mango, chopped cashews and chili and served with a honey-sweet-spicy sauce.

Shitake soba soup
Shitake soba soup

Second course was a shitake soba soup that works on the same premise is my classic shitake udon soup, but with bok choy and frozen-then-fried tofu which has a texture my friends really like, probably because it’s meatier. Personally, I prefer the classic pressed style.

Deconstructed sushi bowls
Deconstructed sushi bowls

I LOVED these deconstructed sushi bowls, based on a recipe from epicurious.com. Boston lettuce bowls filled with sushi rice, topped with steamed snap peas, and asparagus, fresh red pepper, broccoli sprouts, fried egg crepe, enoki mushrooms, black sesame seeds, and just a drizzle of a sauce made from chili sesame oil and soy sauce.

Panko-crusted asparagus, spicy glazed eggplant
Panko-crusted asparagus, spicy glazed eggplant

Not the best photo, I know, but these panko-crusted and baked asparagus were really yummy. I dredged them in the remaining chili-mayo I made the week before (thinned with rice wine vinegar) and served them with a sort of half-sweet chili oil sauce. And a side of soy-glazed japanese eggplant, which didn’t look as pretty, but weren’t that bad.

Dessert? I forgot to take photos. But a big plate of ripe blood oranges and pieces of spicy mango dark chocolate. DPC is the best.

Adzuki bean, miso, and veggies soup

Adzuki bean, miso, and veggies soup
Adzuki bean, miso, and veggies soup

The only thing that I regret about this adzuki bean soup is that I didn’t soak the beans the night before. Already committed to the soup, I had to wait an impatient 2 hours until it was ready. Other than that – delicious. You can make it with canned beans, but slow cooked beans have a much firmer texture and a fuller flavor. I at this soup with some sesame kale chips, one of which migrated into the bowl for the photo!

Adzuki Bean, Miso and Vegetable Soup
serves 4

1 tsp. oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
5 dried giant shitake mushrooms, broken
small handful of dried kelp
2 large carrots, “long” cubed
2 cups cooked or canned adzuki beans
1 Tbs. white miso paste

Heat the oil in a medium stockpot, then saute the garlic until golden brown. Add the vegetable broth, dried mushroom and kelp and bring to a boil. Reducing heat to a simmer, add the carrots and beans, and stir in the miso. Cook until the carrots are just tender, and the kelp and mushrooms are soft. Add a splash of soy sauce, a spoonful of hot sauce, or any other appealing condiment!

1 Tbs. white miso paste
2 carrots, “long” cubed