Hello!

traveling

 

It’s been a long hiatus, but I’ve returned to Veggicurious after a time spent traveling, exploring, thinking, and eating. Over the next few weeks, the site will debut a new look, with new information, a new project, and much more. And, of course, the blog will continue! Check back for more information, or subscribe, and I’ll keep you updated with new exciting developments! I’m thrilled to have new energy, ideas and foods to share with you, and I hope that you are too! 

Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables

 

Quinoa is a near perfect food, and an easy grain to fold into almost any soup, salad, casserole, or main dish. This quick fall salad braises instead of roasts your winter vegetables, without sacrificing that golden flavor. I was treated to a similar dish the other night at a friends how, but she used roasted turnips, onions, rutabaga, sweet potato, and garlic – delicious! Many different combinations of fall / winter vegetables can be delicious in this dish. Just keep in mind their cooking times!

Fall Quinoa Salad with Roasted Vegetables

1 cup quinoa

1 T. Olive Oil

2. Tbs. unsalted butter

3 garlic cloves

1 small onion

4 ounces extra-firm or high-protien tofu

1 cup cremini mushrooms

1 small butternut squash

fresh sage leaves

1 cup finely sliced kale

1/2 cup fresh cranberries

red wine

salt and pepper 

garnish with chopped nuts or seeds, if you wish

 

Put 1 cup on quinoa in a medium saucepan with 2 cups vegetable or mushroom broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the “tails” on the quinoa appear (about 25 minutes).

 

Meanwhile, peel and dice into one-half inch cubes 1 small (orn on-half of a large) butternut squash. Place the dice in a dish with a bit of water and microwave until “al-dente” (about 5 mintues).

 

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and butter. Add 4 ounces of finely diced, extra firm tofu and fry until it begins to crisp. Lower the heat, and Add 3 cloves chopped garlic and 1 small sliced onion, cooking on medium-low until soft. Add the mushrooms, raising the heat to medium-high, stir frequently until the mushrooms begin to brown. Add the squash dice, and 6 -8 sliced fresh sage leaves,  turning every few minutes until the squash starts to brown .When all the vegetables are deep golden, addthe kale, and stir. Add the fresh cranberries and a generous splash of red wine, then cover the saucepan. The sugars from the wine and the cranberries with caramelize the vegetables. Sprinkle the vegetables generously with coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

 

Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the roasted vegetables and either cheese (feta is good, or gorgonzola) or a vegan cheese sauce.

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.

 

Easy Weekend Breakfasts – leeks and eggs

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Some weekends it seems to blustery to go outside, and you just want to cuddle, watch movies, listen to NPR and have breakfast in. This is one of my “special” breakfasts. It doesn’t take long, but long enough that I want to save it for a weekend occasion. No real recipe – just sauteed leeks and garlic, farm, fresh eggs in a soft scramble, and topped with a yogurt sauce and lemon zest. A buttermilk biscuit on the side (rescued from the Thanksgiving freezer leftovers). Some arugula, dressed lightly in lemon juice and olive oil. Everything sprinkled with a large-grain, high quality sea salt. A mug of coffee. This American Life. My honey, and no plans. Perfect.

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

Garden Lunch Salad

My garden is still producing tomatoes and cucumbers and herbs and all kinds of good things. But the beginning of the school year always means that I have less time for cooking in the evening than I would like. My solution? Toss a whole bunch of delicious things in a tupperware, take them to work, and chop them all up there. If you don’t have a work kitchen, don’t worry. You can throw a salad like this together in just a few minutes. Measurements and amounts don’t really matter, either. Just try to balance out the your salty and savory with the sweet and the crunchy. The salad pictured above (along with a whole-grain bread heel and some hummus):

Amish paste tomatoes, halved
Small Kirby cucumber, sliced
fresh parsley
fresh basil
low-fat feta, crumbled
kalamata olives
sea salt and black pepper
white wine vinegar
olive oil

Black Pepper Tofu

I’m about to make a very bold claim: this is, very likely, the most delicious dish I have every cooked. Seriously. In the last 19 years of cooking, I think that I have never, every made anything this delicious. This black pepper tofu recipe from Plenty involved fried tofu, butter, shallots, red chilis, 12 cloves of garlic, ginger, three kinds of soy sauce, 5 Tbs. of hand-crushed black peppercorns, and fresh green onions.

All of those things sound delicious, but I think it is difficult to understand just HOW delicious. Moaning aloud delicious. Have to take a break in the middle because it is rich and spicy delicious, if a restaurant made this I would go there every week delicious, after eating I have to lay down for a half-an-hour because I am swooning with lust and happiness delicious. Wow.