What to do with green tomatoes?


My tomatoes went wild this year, and let’s just say, I maintained a fairly “hands off” approach to the garden. As sad as I was to see those wild vines go, I had to rip them out this weekend or miss my fall crops entirely. While I love pickled green tomatoes, I don’t actually drink enough bloody mary’s to justify pickling the whole crop, so I did some research for nontraditional options. I did pickle a few, but went with an interesting, spicy szechuan version I found here:



A few keys to pickling tomatoes: Only go with the very firm, unblemished tomatoes, and use a pickling additive, or you just won’t get those crisp pickles you’re looking forward to. Also, remember that while you can change the spice in pickles, you can’t change the acidity.And let them sit at least three weeks before you give them a try! 

Last weekend I had some amazing pimento cheese spread at Strangelove’s, and so I jumped on this recipe from NPR for green tomato and pimento cheese biscuits. Of course, I had change the recipe up a little bit, so I substituted pickled red cherry tomatoes for pimentos.


I thought about salsa verde, another common use for green tomatoes, but the breezy fall day pushed me towards a green tomato chili. I made a green tomato puree, added kidney beans, and then decided to also ad some TVP (texturized vegetable protein). It’s not an ingredient I use very often, but I noticed that many green chili recipes make use of chicken or pork, and I thought that that TVP might give a similar texture. A dab of yogurt, some chili and a lemon zest, a squeeze of lime – delicious.



Quick Comforting Dumpling Soup


Some nights are just not cooking nights. I come from work late, tired, perhaps after cooking all day, and the last thing I want to do is make myself a meal before crawling into bed with a glass of wine to watch Friday Night Lights. Sometimes I reach for leftovers, or homemade yogurt and granola, or just a hunk of cheese and some crackers, but I often reach into my freezer and pull out a giant bag of frozen dumplings. I buy my dumplings (vegetable or kimchi ) in giant bags at HMart, and sometimes they are a lifesaver. I usually fry them with garlic chips and make a quick dipping sauce, but sometimes I make a quick, comforting broth and put them in soup.

Obviously, this broth could be made more complicated (and have more depth of flavor) with the additions, but this recipe is meant for quickness! You can make this broth on the stove, then add the frozen dumplings and heat until they are soft, or package the broth in a mason jar and take it to work, frozen dumplings separate, for a quick lunch.


Dumpling Soup Broth

serves 4


I Tbs minced ginger

2 cloves minced garlic

2 shallots, minced

2 tsp. vegetable oil

4 cups water

1 cube porcini mushroom bouillon

1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce

1 finger of fresh lemongrass, sliced finely or smashed (or 1/2 tsp. dried)

3 dried red thai chilies, or 1/2 tsp. chili paste

dash of chili sesame oil

dash of rice wine vinegar


Heat the oil in a medium sauce pan and fry the ginger, garlic, shallots and fry until golden. Add the water, lemongrass and bouillon, stirring until dissolved. Add the crushed chili peppers, or chili paste, if using, and whisk. Add the soy sauce, and then the frozen dumplings, and simmer until the dumplings are soft. Add a splash of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar to finish. Garnish with chopped scallion, sesame seeds, or more fried shallots.


Chickpea Stew from Super Natural Everyday


I soaked an entire saucepan of chickpeas, intending to make hummus. 3 days later, they were languishing the fridge and I was in needs of a simple, yet satisfying dinner. I actually followed the recipe for “Chickpea Stew” in Super Natural Everyday to a t – very odd for me! While I don’t think that the weight of the soup really qualifies as stew, it is a hearty soup with an incredibly rich flavor, thanks to saffron, greek yogurt, and egg yolks (!) While the ingredients are simple, you do need to pay a bit of attention to how you deal with the egg yolks and hot liquid – you don’t want them to cook and curdle. A little patience and whisking, though, and you’ll be rewarded with such richness, you’ll be glad you used that extra bowl.

In my usual way, I wanted to fit more vegetables into this meal, so I briefly considered adding chopped swiss chard, but when I decided to just braise it lightly and serve it on the side with grated pecorino and sourdough bread, I knew that I had made the right choice – the chard would have weighed the soup down in an uneven way. Just consider this “stew” part of a simple meal, and not the whole meal!

KimChi Soup

Y’all, it is nasty outside in Philadelphia. It was cold all weekend, and then icy, and now it’s raining and grey and almost everyone is in not the best of moods. Maybe you, too, need a spicy Korean soup to cheer you up?

I made this kimchi soup based on a recipe from Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” Kimche and tofu soup. A few changes – I used firm tofu that I had previously frozen instead of soft tofu, and I added a raw egg to the boiling soup after I put it in the bowl. Just make sure the soup is boiling when it goes in, and dunk that egg down into the broth, or spoon the broth over the egg so that it’s not RAW raw when the soup cools down enough for you to eat it. I also added a little leftover brown rice instead of cooking rice in the broth, and upped the kimchi since I didn’t have any spinach in the house. . Simple, spicy, delicious.

Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai

I love Vietnamese food, but often struggle at authentic restaurants to find vegetarian options. Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai, under the glowing neon train sign in Chinatown, has a HUGE menu, and I was not only able to find a couple of options, but they happily substituted out the shrimp for tofu and the soup above. The good news? Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai is very very cheap, has an extensive cheap drink list, and a huge menu (if that’s your thing). There are 10 fully vegetarian dishes on the menu, and many can be easily tweaked. True to many Asian hole-in-the-wall restaurants, it’s brightly lit and food arrives very quickly – not the best place for a romantic date, but fun, serviceable, and let me say it again – cheap. The bad news? I maybe didn’t make the best choice. I was craving a giant bowl of soup,and ordered the Canh Thap Cam house special soup. While the soup was packed with vegetables, it was a little bland.I watched the vegetarian hot pot pass my table with envy. No matter – chili oil to the rescue! If you’re in the neighborhood, and craving Thai/Vietnamese, give them a try.

Pho Xe Lua Viet Thai on Urbanspoon

Summer Squash Soup

I don’t really follow recipes: I mostly just look at a few, or none, and cook with what I have. I’ve been amazed at my ability, even enjoyment in following the recipes in Simply Natural Everyday, but for this summer squash soup recipe, I made a few substitutions, as is my thrifty/curious cooking way. While I kept the yellow squash, zucchini, Thai red curry paste and coconut milk, I left out the tofu “croutons” and added mushrooms instead, used lite coconut milk instead of regular (blasphemy!), almost doubled the curry paste, and threw in some extra garlic. A perfectly suitable solution to all those summer squashes, especially if you have air conditioning, a cool evening, or a kitchen table directly under a ceiling fan (like me).

King Soup, Vientiane

I can sing the praises of Vientiane’s affordable, delicious, vegetarian-friendly Laotian cuisine all the day long. I have never had a dish at this neighborhood BYOB that I didn’t like, and often I love whatever I ordered so much that I get in a rut, and can only order that exact same thing for months (sometimes years). So it’s a big deal when I break the mold and order something different. But this King Soup caught me eye – it was exactly what I wanted on a cool and rainy night. A coconut milk curry base with noodles, fried tofu, plenty of chilis and all the toppings of a traditional Pho. Perfect. Of course, I’ve had it twice again since I took this photo!