Zucchini Agrodolce

zucchini agrodolce

We may be officially transitioning into fall, but there are still zucchinis in our farmers markets and gardens. Squeeze the last little bit out of summer with this zucchini noodle recipe from the smart Heidi Swanson and her blog site 101 Cookbooks. (Recipe)

I made my version, above, with green zucchini instead of yellow squash and, at the last minute when I discovered that my dates had been invaded by little creatures, golden raisins and chopped dried apricots instead of the dates. It was delicious, a great 2nd course for a casual small plates dinner party, and tasted even better the next day. One thought though – a full cup of almonds is awful lot, and I think that you could reduce that amount by half. If, like me, you don’t have any pretty little micro greens, just add more fresh chopped herbs!


Happy Hour at Vedge


Vedge is getting a lot of love this week, and deservedly so! Those of us who loved Horizons were shocked to see it close, and waited for what with baited breath for Rich Landau and Kate Jacoby’s new downtown vegan project. Tucked into the former Deux Cheminées, Vedge is Horizon’s more sophisticated sister – better dressed, streamlined, and with an eye for detail. I’ve yet to formally dine at Vedge, but I have enjoyed multiple happy hours at their marble bar – I’m obsessed with the Engine Room sparkling shiraz they serve at $5 a glass. Unfortunately, I sat at the darker end of the bar on an earlier darkening evening the night I took photos – apologies for the odd photo quality!

The gentleman and I were en route to the Opera, and some bites were in order. The wedge fry arrives in an order of 3, so be prepared to split that third wedge. Crispy-edged perfection with a charred onion dip and porcini salt, but certainly a “small plate.” As was the roasted cauliflower the bartender claimed receives raves. Stand mediterannean style with a tahini sauce – tasty, but nothing surprising. Since I last popped in a few weeks ago, Vedge has updated their happy hour menu for spring. I’m particularly excited to try the shishito peppers and the peel & eat fried lupini beans from their “small plates” dinner menu.

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Roasted Cauliflower, Fennel and Radicchio Salad

I don’t  know about you, but I get a little tired of the traditional roasted root vegetable winter salad. There are so many more options! Like most salads, I don’t exactly have a recipe, rather just a list of ingredients and simple preparation techniques. Salads are flexible!

Big head of cauliflower

2 bulbs of fennel

2 heads of radicchio

6 garlic cloves

olive oil

Chop up the vegetables, toss them with the oil and garlic cloves, and pop in the oven at 400 degrees to roast for about 20  minutes. Toss mid-way through the roasting, and check. You want the fennel to soften, and the cauliflower to slightly brown. Toss the vegetables into a large bowl, reserving the roasted garlic cloves.

1 head fresh radicchio

3-4 small heads endive (if you wish)

handful of chopped fennel fronds

fresh parsley

2 cups roasted chickpeas

Toss the above ingredients into the big bowl with the roasted vegetables. Because roasted radicchio tends to get brown and limp, I think it’s nice to add a little fresh (and some endive, if you have it) for crunch and color. The fennel fronds and parsley add a nice bust of color and a bright flavor.

In a small bowl, mash the roasted garlic cloves, and whip with some olive oil, good quality balsamic vinegar, sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and the zest of one lemon. Toss with the salad and – viola! Complex flavors, seasonal produce, and a salad strong enough to hold-up in the fridge for a few days!

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.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

This soba salad pulls no punches. Piles of fresh cilantro and basil, mango, fried eggplant (and I added tofu) hot peppers, sesame oil, red onion, rice vinegar and fresh garlic (I’m not afraid of fresh garlic. Love me, love my garlic). It has four major components – sauce, noodles, fried things and chopped things – so it takes a little bit of effort. But the flavor is bright and sharp, with a nice earthy balance from soba noodles. The salad itself is so colorful, my camera phone picture is just not doing it justice.

Me being me, I added an extra hot pepper from the garden, some fried tofu, and used some really big garlic cloves. You could adjust as is your want. Another great recipe from Plenty.

Summer Vegetable Curry

I love all the fresh, organic sweet corn I’ve been getting in the CSA lately, but I was in search of a new way to eat it. I stumbled across this recipe from Serious Eats requiring corn (check) tomatoes (check) and potatoes (check)a and written by the vegetarian-savvy Madhur Jaffrey. I added a few vegetables of my own – summer squash and green beans – as well as some black pepper, and used two very potent jalapenos. Sadly, I had no cilantro or mint, but I added coriander and I think that with the extra spicy kick, the dish didn’t suffer. Result – delicious, and totally unexpected. I can’t wait to eat the leftovers.

Desi Chaat House

Chaat traditionally refers to a roadside snack, purchased at a cart or in a small shop in India or Pakistan. In West Philadelphia, it means an inexpensive and delicious meal-sized snack, available for take-out at Desi Chat house or their sister Baltimore Ave. sister, Mood Cafe. Desi Chaat opened in the neighborhood over a year ago, and I finally walked in the door.

Chaat involves options. Lots of options. And sometimes the menu descriptions at Desi Chaat leave a lot of “description” to be desired. I decided to just go for what I know sounded good, which is how I ended up ordering the Bhel Puri chaat pictured above. papris, puffed rice, sev, onions, potatoes, raw mango and both spicy and sweet chutneys. Sound delicious? It was. I meant to only eat half of the huge container, but I kept going back for more. That sweet + spicy combination, along with the crunch + soft textures, was near ideal.

Not understanding how large the servings would, naturally adventurous in spirit, and interested in using my $2 off of $10 gift certificate from Recycle Bank, I ordered the Fruit Chaat. This blend of seasonal fruits (mango, banana, green grapes – well, I guess they are in season somewhere) with a yougurt sauce and sweet chutney was fine, but it didn’t have the kapow of the Bhel Puri. I was able to restrain myself and saved the second half of the container for the following morning’s breakfast.

Two things made my Desi Chaat experience even better. #1: After noticing that my coupon didn’t have an expiration date, the very friendly manager returned it to me to use again. #2 I loaded up the chaat in my trusty bicycle basket and went to Clark Park to enjoy it in the sunshine on the new bright orange park folding chairs!

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