If these carrots had a story, I’d imagine that it would go something like this, “My grandmother used to tell us about life in the old country. Her father was a carrot farmer. They had good years, but there were the lean years too.
Her mother made the best ricotta. It was a favorite in their town. During those harder times they would trade their carrots and that ricotta for the almonds grown on the farm right next to theirs.
At the end of the summer, they would shake the trees and there was always so much dust in the air. But, it was worth it. When they tasted those almonds, combined with the sweet carrots, grown by her father’s hand, topped with the cool, silky ricotta, it felt like everything would be alright. There was a promise of better times in those simple ingredients.
As she tossed the carrots with some olive oil, salt and pepper, a far away look would come over her.
As she took her first bite, I knew that the taste was taking her back to a different time. Memories long forgotten were brought back with the sweet roasted flavor. It tasted like home.”
Yes, I think that’s the kind of story these carrots would tell.
Lunchtime is often spent at my desk. Sometimes it’s what I’ve cooked for a post, maybe it’s leftovers, occasionally it’s an almond butter and honey sandwich with some fruit and a glass of milk. Whatever it is, it’s usually eaten while I do something else, often standing at the kitchen island because I don’t have time to sit down.
I sat down for this one.
I would argue that almost anything is better with bacon. I could probably give up any other meat. But, bacon, it’s not going anywhere. Paired with crispy on the outside, tender on the inside turnips, and these two things alone could win me over.
They took less than ten minutes. This is a quick one to whip up.
Once the veggies were done, they got moved over to the side so an egg could be fried. I like to get the skillet really hot, so the edges can crisp up a bit. Then I flip, turn off the heat, and let the top set just a bit. I like the yolk to be runny, so it will combine with the veggies to make a dressing of sorts. However you like to cook your eggs will be perfect though. You could even scramble them if you’d like.
3 small turnips (or potatoes or rutabagas), chopped
1 carrot, chopped
to taste salt
to taste pepper
2 C broccoli, chopped
2 T gouda cheese, chopped
1 T green or spring onion, chopped
2 T almonds, chopped
lemon slices, for serving
Cook bacon. Remove from pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate. When cool, crumble.
Add olive oil to bacon grease. When it's hot, add turnip through cayenne. Cook over medium or medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broccoli and cook another 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Move veggies over to the side of the skillet (or remove and keep warm). Fry egg(s).
Divide the veggie mixture between two plates. Top with egg, cheese, onion, almonds, bacon, and a squeeze of lemon.
It makes me super happy when I’ve made something that’s loaded with veggies, and Tim, unprompted, tells me how much he likes it. What a guy! Good thing he liked it so much (even the tofu!), because I am sold.
First of all, tofu is a cheap way to get some protein into a dish. I know, I know, not everyone is crazy about soy. So, if you’re not a tofu fanatic, that’s awesome too! Be who you are, right?! If you’d like, add some chicken instead, Tempeh is great too (but also a soybean product), beef and pork would also be super yum. Or, go totally vegetarian and add some more nuts (even a scoop of peanut or almond butter mixed into the sauce would be great).
See how easy that was?! Substitution central over here. This is one where there’s something for everyone.
Oh yeah, and if you’re vegan, omit the fish sauce. (No duh, Rachel. You knew that… We taught our 2 year old niece to say, “No duh, Uncle Tim” over the holidays. It was one of the highlights of the trip. Especially when she started saying it to Oma too.) I’d planned to make this a vegan dish. I was going to add some honey, then remembered that some vegans don’t eat honey. I finished cooking and realized that fish sauce is obviously not vegan. Eye roll and shrug of the shoulders. I can’t expect my brain to work perfectly all the time. 😉
This is my go-to stir fry sauce. It’s simple. Soy sauce (or a gluten-free version, which tastes remarkably similar), fish sauce, and rice vinegar. Sometimes I use cornstarch and water, to act as a thickener. Either way, we think it tastes great.
Stir Fry is one of those awesome meals for using up whatever veggies are hanging out in the fridge. It’s also a way to pack in many many veggies, but can also be great if you’ve just got broccoli and an onion left at the end of the week. My goal, this time, was to find a way to use the red choi. The rest of the veggies are kinda just a bonus. Plus, it’s a great dish for cabbage using up. And, tastes great with an Asian slaw on the side. Yep, do it, get your cabbage on!
Anoooooother reason I love Stir Fry, it’s so incredibly quick to prepare. Veggies cook over higher heat, so they cook fast and retain their bright color. A friend gave me a wok, so now I don’t throw veggies all over the stove.
Don’t forget, keep those veggies moving. High heat means they’re gonna burn if you leave them unattended.
Once the veggies are cooked (see how greeeeeeeen they are still!?), sauce goes in, cooks for like 2 minutes more, and then you’re done!
You could stand there and eat it out of the wok. Totally fine with me.
But, maybe a better option is to scoop some rice onto a plate, slide some tofu next to it, and pile on those veggies.
If you’ve already eaten 5 pieces of the crispy tofu, I understand. I may have done the same.
1 C brown rice (rice noodles, quinoa, or bulgur wheat would also be great)
2 C water
1 block firm tofu, sliced about 1/8" to 1/4" thick
to taste salt
2 t olive oil, divided
1 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
1/4 C cold water
1 T cornstarch
2 T olive oil
1/4 C carrots or celery, thinly sliced
1-2 C broccoli or cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces
2-4 T radish, thinly sliced
1 C cabbage (or collard greens or kale), chopped
1 head red choi stems, chopped
(could also add: snap peas, bean sprouts, green beans, summer squash, butternut squash)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head red choi leaves, chopped
2 T almonds, chopped, for serving
While rice cooks, sprinkle both sides of the tofu with salt, cayenne, and ginger. Heat skillet over medium to medium-high heat, add 1 t olive oil, when it's hot add tofu, working in batches so the pan isn't overcrowded, cook for about 2-3 minutes per side (or until sides are browned and crispy), adding more oil as needed. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined plate.
Whisk together soy sauce through ginger. Set aside.
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 T olive oil. When oil is hot, add carrots through salt. Cook, stirring constantly (picking veggies up with tongs and moving them around works best for me), for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red choi leaves and cook for about 2 minutes more.
Stir in sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes (or until sauce has thickened).
Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve over rice, topped with chopped almonds.
If it's not essential for this to be vegetarian, 1 t fish sauce is a good addition to the sauce.
Today, I was inspired to try something new. Something I’ve never attempted before.
What a fun idea!
I felt like I was playing as I cut the avocado and veggies into matchsticks.
And then as I whisked the dip and the emulsion came together, I knew I was on to something. Because honey and mustard compliment each other so well, lemon adds a bright note, and Sriracha brings the spice.
I just followed the instructions on the back of the rice paper package, which instructed me to soak the paper in warm water for 5 seconds (if your package says something different, by all means, follow those instructions).
A few long sticks (or many short sticks, depending on the type of radish used) are added to the center of the paper.
Then the paper is folded in half, keeping the sticks in the center.
Sides are folded in towards each other, then it’s all rolled up.
I don’t know if this is how an expert would make these. But, it’s how I did it, and they worked just fine.
After rolling, slice in half on a bias (because it looks fancy).
You could totally switch up the dip, if you have a favorite Asian dip to use. You could just dip in wasabi and soy sauce too. You could also play with the contents of the rolls. I think that the following would be wonderful additions (maybe not all at the same time though):
– green onions
– bean sprouts
– sugar snap peas
– napa cabbage
– sesame seeds
– fried tempeh
Obviously, the seafood would make these not vegan. Also, I’d cook any meat I was planning to use as I prefer it that way. If you don’t, and know how to safely prepare sashimi, then go for it.
I served these raw. I liked the crisp veggies in the sticky rice paper with the sweet and spicy dip. But, maybe next time I will try cooking the filling (not the avocado though) and then pan frying for a minute or two. Could be fun. Hmmm… maybe tomorrow.
Spring Rolls with Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
Dip: 2 T lemon juice
2 T dijon mustard
1 T plus 1 t honey
1 to 1 1/2 t Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce)
2 t soy sauce
to taste salt
3 T olive oil
Rolls: 1 small ripe but firm avocado, julienned/cut into 4" matchsticks
1/2 carrot, julienned/cut into 4" matchsticks
2 celery ribs, julienned/cut into 4" matchsticks
4 small radishes, julienned/cut into 1"-4" matchsticks
(Other options could include: cucumber, cilantro, green onions, bean sprouts, napa cabbage, sugar snap peas, sesame seeds, almonds, crab, shrimp, salmon, tofu, and fried tempeh.)
10-15 pieces of rice paper
Whisk together lemon juice through soy sauce. While whisking, stream in olive oil. Taste and adjust quantities if needed.
Follow rice paper package's instructions for soaking. (Should be around 5 seconds in warm water.) After soaking (one at a time), set on a plate and place about 4 pieces of each: avocado, carrot, celery, and radish (you may need more radishes if they are shorter pieces). Fold the paper in half, keeping the filling in the middle, fold the ends in towards each other, then roll it up. Slice in half.
We will get into other types of pesto on another day.
For today, let’s stick to the basics.
It’s important to use good olive oil… always, not just for pesto. I know the people at Bari. They’re awesome. I’ve gone in to their mill and seen them in action. I’ve tasted oil that was olives that same morning. This is seriously spectacular stuff.
You can use whatever blending device you prefer. I have a great KitchenAid hand blender that is perfect for pesto. It came with this cute little food processor attachment, which works well for this task.
Now, here’s a little trick I’ve tried.
Two tricks actually.
The first one is: To get the parchment paper to lay flat, scrunch it into a ball, wrinkle it all up, then smooth it out. No more curling up and rolling away.
Second: By portioning out the pesto in advance, there’s no need to wait for the whole container to thaw to use it. Just pop off a layer and leave it in the fridge overnight (in a sealed container), or on the counter for a little while, to bring it to room temperature.
You could stand there eating it out of the bowl (your significant other may ask you if you’ve been eating salami, because of the garlic breath… no big deal… yes, this has happened at our house before). Raw garlic is good for your immune system, so go ahead! Or, ahem, get some good bread and slather it with pesto. I mean, c’mon. That’s dinner right there.
If you want a little more than just pesto and bread for dinner, how about a twist on a Caprese Salad to start with? Layer some sliced tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and top with pesto. Or, on the salad note, you could add it to a Panzanella if you’d like – mix it in with the dressing. You could follow that with some Chicken Parmesan topped with Pesto alongside some Roasted Bell Peppers and Squash.
If you want a vegetarian dinner, Eggplant Parmesan would be great topped with pesto. Serve it with some Roasted Zucchini and Crusty Bread for mopping up.
I could eat pizza most days. You could go simple and do mozzarella and pesto. You could add some chicken to the mozz and pesto. You could keep it vegetarian and add tomatoes or zucchini.
Basil always works in soups. You could top a Roasted Eggplant Soup with pesto. Add it to a Minestrone Soup. Serve it on toast alongside (and be sure to save a few bites to mop up any last drops of soup).
You could mix it in to some wild rice. Serve that alongside the Chicken or Eggplant Parmesan for a nice meal.
And finally, for breakfast, you could poach some eggs and drizzle them with pesto. Serve with your favorite toast.