Ginger-Scallion Cold Tofu

With summer approaching and the temperatures rising, you can bet I will be eating a lot more of this tofu.  This is super simple to prepare, it’s refreshing and cold and light.  This goes great with a salad (I’d recommend an Asian cabbage salad like this or this or this) for a quick, light summer meal.  Tofu is also a great vegetarian (vegan too!) source of protein, iron and calcium.  And while the biggest complaint with tofu is that it’s bland, this dish adds spicy fresh ginger, scallions and soy sauce…I think it’s anything but bland with all those flavors going on.  Try it and let me know what you think.Ginger tube

I like Silken brand soft tofu for this, it has a really smooth texture.  If I’m really lazy I even cheat on using fresh ginger and use some from a squeeze tube.  But using fresh ginger does taste a bit better and is pretty easy to use with a proper sharp knife.

Silken soft tofuI like to store gingerroot in the freezer and break off a knob when I need to use it.  I use a pairing knife to carefully peel the outer layer (you can run some warm water over the root for a little so it’s not quite so cold to hold).  Once it’s peeled I use a sharp knife and slice, then mince the still mostly frozen ginger.  This works great for getting a good mince.  Ginger can get a bit stringy, so I’ve found this to be the best way.  You can also try using a microplane to grate the ginger, but that takes longer in my opinion.


Ginger-Scallion Cold TofuGinger-Scallion Cold Tofu (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 2-4

  • 1 block Silken soft tofu, preferably chilled
  • 1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (about 1/2 inch knob)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ponzu (optional, this adds a hint of citrus…you could try a squeeze of lime juice too)

Carefully open the box of tofu and squeeze tofu out onto your serving dish (something with a bit of an edge to hold soy sauce).  Sprinkle with scallions, place ginger on top of the tofu block, then drizzle with soy sauce and ponzu.  Serve and enjoy!

One Pot, Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese?  It’s definitely a favorite of mine and one of my favorite comfort foods.  This stovetop mac and cheese is wonderful.  The macaroni is cooked in milk, which makes it creamy and easy; and the combination of cheese is salty, creamy, melty deliciousness.  I’m getting cravings just writing this!  One pot makes clean-up easy, what more could you ask for from your favorite comfort food?

One Pot, Stovetop Mac and CheeseOne Pot Stovetop Mac and Cheese (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4

Adapted from White On Rice Couple

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked (about 3/4 lb)
  • 2 cups low fat milk, more on hand if needed
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 heaping cup shredded cheese (I recommend a blend of cheddar and swiss and parmesan, although I think a pepper jack would be really fun)

Place pasta in a colander and rinse with water.  In a large saucepan, add pasta, milk, butter, mustard powder, salt, and nutmeg.  Over medium heat, slowly bring the milk to a simmer, stirring frequently.    Once the mixture comes to a simmer, quickly turn the heat down to low.

Let macaroni slowly cook in the milk stirring constantly.  After about 15 minutes, or once the milk has mostly been absorbed and pasta is cooked, add the shredded cheese and mix well.  Turn off the heat, cover with a lid and let sit for about 5 minutes to allow the macaroni to finish absorbing the last of the milk.

Taste, adjust seasoning as needed, and serve immediately.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

This soup is creamy and rich tasting.  It feels like a decadent treat, but without the guilt.  Pureed soups like this just feel like a hug in a bowl.  This soup gets better the longer it sits, so feel free to make it ahead of time and just reheat.

Roasted Cauliflower SoupRoasted Cauliflower Soup

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Cooking Light (Jan/Feb 2013)

  • 2 small heads of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 8 cups)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dill for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Grease a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Cut cauliflower into florets and spread out on prepared baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and salt, toss to coat.  Roast for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned and tender.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion to pot and sauté until tender.  Add garlic, stirring occasionally until onion begins to brown.  Add stock, water, and roasted cauliflower.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat and add half and half.  Using an immersion blender (or transferring to a blender in batches), blend the soup until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Serve and garnish with dill.

Red Lentil Mexican Soup

This is a great soup to whip up on a gloomy day or when you’re feeling under the weather or when you just don’t know what else to make.  I usually have most of these ingredients on hand, so it can come together quickly and doesn’t take a lot of forethought.  The lentils make it hearty and comforting and you can add as much or as little heat as you want.

Red Lentil Mexican SoupRed Lentil Mexican Soup

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayene pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 6 – 7 cups vegetable stock
  • a few splashes of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1-2 limes, juiced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté onions, garlic, celery and red pepper.  Once the vegetables have softened, add spices and tomatoes.  Add rinsed lentils and vegetable stock.  Stir, cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.  Stir in the lime juice, and serve, garnish with cilantro or parsley.

Roasted Carrot Soup

This is a wonderfully simple soup.  The flavors are delicate and warm.  I think it would be a great soup for when you’re feeling a little under the weather, or when you just need a light but delicious soup.  Roasting the carrots brings out their sweetness, and the ginger and thyme infused vegetable stock adds a nice warmth and earthiness in the background.  I think you could make this even easier by roasting the onions with the carrots.  This was very popular at the last School of Christian Living class of the term.  I served it with Black Bean, Quinoa and Citrus Salad and a Dark Chocolate Cardamom Mousse, but this would also be sublime with a sandwich, or a simple green salad.

Roasted Carrot SoupRoasted Carrot Soup

Serves 12-14

Adapted from Food 52

  • 5 lbs carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2″ rounds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 3 1/2 (32oz) boxes good quality vegetable stock
  • 3 one-inch pieces of ginger, peeled
  • 5 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 large sweet onions, chopped
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the chopped carrots with half the olive oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt.  Set oven rack 6-8 inches from the broiler and turn the broiler on.  Broil for about 10-15 minutes, rotating the carrots every 4-5 minutes until they’ve got some color and are tender.

Meanwhile, bring stock to a boil in a large pot with the ginger and thyme in it, simmer for 15 minutes.

In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onion and sauté for a couple of minutes, then add garlic and sauté until fragrant and onions begin to brown.

Remove ginger and thyme from the stock pot and then carefully add onion/garlic, the roasted carrots, and ground ginger.  Simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until carrots are soft enough to puree.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Garlic and Mushroom Pasta

The enjoyable thing about the School of Christian Living’s vegan challenge is that it forces me to get creative and adapt recipes to work within the limits I have set.  This pasta dish was loosely based off a recipe, but to make it vegan and fit in my price point, I took quite a few liberties so that the final product is quite unlike the original recipe I started with.  And sometimes trying something different works out wonderfully.  I loved the way this dish uses diced tomatoes but doesn’t feel like a spaghetti sauce.  The mushrooms and garlic give it a great earthiness while the tomatoes give it some zing and binds the whole dish together.  While I can’t wait to try the original recipe in its cheesy goodness, this was an excellent dish and I didn’t miss the cheese at all.  Lots of flavor!  And while 4 heads of garlic sounds super intense, the roasted garlic was actually pretty subtle.  If you’re a garlic-lover feel free to add another head.  I made the garlic a day ahead and kept it wrapped in foil until ready to use.

Roasted Garlic and Mushroom PastaRoasted Garlic and Mushroom Pasta

Serves 10

Adapted from The Flour Sack

  • 4 heads garlic, top 1/3 cut off
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large portobello mushrooms, large chop
  • 1 lb white button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 lbs bow-tie or other small noodle pasta
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Drizzle cut garlic heads with olive oil and wrap tightly in foil.  Place in the oven and roast for about 40-50 minutes until golden brown.  While garlic roasts, chop and quarter the mushrooms and place on large baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt, mix well and roast in the oven for about 15-20 minutes, until browned but not dry.

Cook pasta according to the instructions, being sure to salt the pasta water really well (at least 1 Tbsp of salt) once it has come to a boil.  When the pasta is done, reserve 1 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.

In a large sauce pan, mix together the diced tomatoes and roasted garlic cloves.   Mix in the rosemary and sugar.  When the mushrooms are done mix in the mushrooms and pasta water to the sauce.  Just before serving, combine the sauce and the pasta in a large bowl, toss well to combine.  Sprinkle with toasted walnuts.

Broccoli and Leek Soup

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We had a great celebration and while we’re still in the throws of Thanksgiving leftovers, if you’re looking for something different this is a great flavorful but light soup.  This also freezes great, so you can make a lot and save the rest for a rainy day.

I made this for Tuesday’s School of Christian Living class and it was a big hit.  This a great alternative to potato and leek soup full of delicious (vitamin C rich) broccoli.  I had to do a lot of this in batches because I didn’t have a skillet large enough, but it worked out just fine to sauté part of the leeks and garlic and then transfer them to the soup pot while I sautéed the rest.  I topped the soup with toasted pumpkin seeds which added a nice chewy crunch to the creamy soup.  I served this with a Cabbage and Lime Slaw, No-Knead Country Bread and a Pear and Cranberry Crumble (recipes coming soon).  It was quite the delicious meal!

Broccoli and Leek Soup

Serves 20

Adapted from Voracious Vander

  • 5 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 head of garlic (about 10 cloves), peeled and minced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 5 Idaho potatoes, chopped in 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 heads broccoli, cut in florets
  • 16 cups vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, saute leeks until soft (I had to do this in batches), add the garlic and saute for another couple of minutes.  In a large soup pot, bring the vegetable broth to a boil.  Add in the sauteed leeks, garlic, thyme and potatoes.  After a couple minutes add in the broccoli florets and simmer for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and the broccoli is bright green.  Use an immersion blender and blend until soup is smooth (or do this in batches in a blender).  Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Banana Leaf Vegetable Curry

I made this dish for Tuesday’s School of Christian Living.  It was a big hit.  This comes by way of another church lady, but she got it from Sheila Lukins’ All Around the World Cookbook.  There are no bananas, leaves or banana leaves in this curry, so I’m not sure where the name comes from…might have to find a copy of the book to figure it out.  Despite the lack of banana leaves this is one tasty meal!

This curry has a great blend of flavors.  I was surprised to see cinnamon in the mix, but it was a nice touch–adds some warmth but isn’t overwhelming.  I made this the day before, and realized I should have waited to add the raisins until just before serving it.  They added a little too much sweetness since I added them early, but they’re a really nice touch.  Served with brown rice, this is a flavorful, unique (vegan) dish!

Banana Leaf Vegetable Curry

Serves 20

Adapted from Sheila Lukins’ All Around the World Cookbook

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 Tbsp good curry powder
  • 7 carrots, peeled and chopped in 1/2″ pieces
  • 5 Idaho potatoes, washed and chopped in 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 large cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-size florets
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsp agave
  • 1 1/2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 (28oz) large can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 4 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
  • 2 cups toasted coconut, for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot.  Add onion and cook until softened.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add curry powder and stir for another minute.

Add carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, broth, agave, and cinnamon sticks.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  15-20 minutes before serving, add garbanzo beans, raisins, and tomatoes.  Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro and toasted coconut.

Channa (Chickpea) Masala

I love Indian food.  But I’ve been rather intimidated to try making it at home.  I finally got over my fear, and tried several recipes for a culinary adventure!  This dish came out really well, and actually came together pretty quickly.  I’d recommend having everything ready to go before you start so you can just dump in the next ingredient when it’s ready.  I definitely recommend overcoming any kitchen fears you have and experimenting with something new, you never know when you’ll discover something delicious.

This was the first time I’ve cooked with green chilies, but it turns out that they’re very mild (at least in the States).  I didn’t even bother removing the seeds and it was just a very subtle heat (less than a jalapeño).  Here’s a picture, in case you’re not sure what they look like.  Now you won’t have to google it when you’re in the store (like I did).

Channa Masala

Serves 4-6

Adapted from The Novice Housewife

  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 3 green chilies, thinly sliced (these don’t tend to be very spicy in the States, it’s a very subtle heat)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 (15oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Steep black tea in 1 1/4 cup water for 3 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat oil.  Add cinnamon, bay leaves and cumin seeds, cook for a few seconds until fragrant.

Add in ginger, garlic and green chilies.  Sauté for a few seconds.

Add in the onions and cook until light brown.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook for another few minutes until you see oil separating.

Add chickpeas, tea, salt, cumin powder, garam masala and black pepper.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add juice of half a lemon, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Mix in the chopped cilantro.

 

Tomato Cobbler

I didn’t used to like tomatoes, but growing up with the One Bite Rule I was instilled at an early age with a standard of trying things repeatedly.  And fortunately over the years I learned how wrong I was not to like tomatoes.  So when I saw this Tomato Cobbler I thought it would be a wonderful way to highlight delicious summer tomatoes.  This makes an awesome side dish, pair it with black bean burgers for a great vegetarian meal, or make some turkey meatloaf for a hearty omnivore meal.

Tomato Cobbler with Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits

Serves 6

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Biscuits:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup cheese, shredded (I recommend something sharp…sharp cheddar, blue, or gruyere)
  • 3/4 cup cold reduced fat buttermilk

In a food processor, combine dry ingredients and pulse to combine.  Add cold butter and shortening and pulse until crumbly then dump into a large bowl.  Add cheese and buttermilk and mix with a fork until just combined (dough will be shaggy).  Knead for about 10 minutes, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate while making the filling.

Filling:

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onions and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté until onions caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar.  In a large bowl, toss tomatoes, basil, flour, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Add onions and toss.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Grease an 8″x8″ baking dish and pour in the tomato onion mixture.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes.  While the tomatoes bake, roll out the dough to 3/4″ thickness.  Using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits, reshape as necessary to get about 12 biscuits.  Once the tomatoes have cooked for about 30 minutes, carefully top with biscuits (6-8 should fit on top, freeze the rest or bake on a separate baking sheet).  Lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk.  Return pan to the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes.  Until biscuits are golden and tomatoes are bubbling.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.