“I’m craving veggie wings. They were soo good.” I received this text from a high school friend about a week after she visited me in Philly. While she was up, I took her to El Camino where I assured her she had to try the veggie wings — crispy fried seitan smothered in spicy buffalo sauce, served with a side of the best blue cheese dip I’ve ever tasted. While hesitant in ordering them, she was hooked, not once touching her smoked turkey BLT until the plate was empty.
El Camino’s veggie wings might have to be my favorite snack to get out in Philly. I can’t eat the majority of the other meat-heavy, Tex-Mex options on the menu, but the veggie wings keep me a frequent customer at the No Libs restaurant.
My non-veg. friend actually introduced me to them, raving about the fact that they were better than any of the actually chicken one’s he’d ever had. He too has become a regular customer, and not for their focal BBQ, but for their highly addictive seitan wings.
Ever since my first taste, I’ve been bringing all my friends with me to feel the veggie heat alongside a cold brew. Recently, however, I decided to explore making my own, allowing me get my hands a little saucy without ever stepping out of my own kitchen.
A few weeks ago, I came across this recipe for “Seitan Hot Wings” in Vegetarian Times. It had been Scotch-taped to my bedroom wall ever since, until the other day when I ripped it off and took it with me to the kitchen. After making a batch of homemade seitan (for this particular one, I actually tested out VT’s version), I decided to utilize it in my current favorite usage of seitan — thanks to El Camino, that would be the veggie wing. These weren’t quite the crispy wings in which I got hooked, but this baked version was still entirely glorious. Plus, I can guarantee there’s a whole lot less oil going on these than the one’s I get out. While I’ll still remain a regular customer at El Camino (you can’t beat someone else preparing and plating your favorite snack for you), this will definitely become a repeat recipe. Oh, and did I mention these would make the perfect Super Bowl snack?
For a veggie, cauliflower’s taste lays on the bland side, which is why many don’t care for the crimpy-headed crucifer. However, it’s mild flavor is what draws me t0 cauliflower. I find the subtle, slightly sweet flavor to pair rather pleasantly with a vast array of ingredients. Kind of similar to tofu, cauliflower will blend into the other ingredients in which you cook it. Although, unlike tofu, it’s texture needn’t be too tampered with.
Here, I create a delicate sauce using just a few simple, quality ingredients that allow the cauliflower to take the main stage. A few flavor-potent ingredients join the mix in order to provide some depth to the pasta* that I place underneath. Caramelized garlic and shallots fragrantly fill the dish, alongside salty capers that add a certain pop to the pasta. Toasted walnuts and some fresh nuances seal the deal. With a mere 29 calories per cup (and a ton of vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and fiber), cauliflower is certainly worthy of being the star in this light, summery pasta dish.
*I used multi-colored whole wheat rotini to add some color to the cauliflower, but feel free to use whatever variety of pasta your heart desires. But of course, a whole wheat variety is recommended.
Click here for recipe…
By the end of high school, I pretty much thought black beans and rice was the definition of vegetarian. I used to eat this meal once a week. Actually, more like twice a week because my mom would always go crazy with the leftovers. We weren’t really a pasta kind of family, but my mom always made sure to make a pot of beans large enough to feed the whole Italian mafia if she so desired. That meant a lot of beans for us.
Now that I’m out on my own, I can see why this was a regular meal on our dining room table. It’s a flavorful dish that comes together easily and can be put on the table within the time it takes to make a pot of brown rice.
I had forgotten about this simple staple in my life, pushing it away for some time after I left home. In fact, these days it’s not just black beans I’ve been neglecting, but rice too. Quinoa has become my new rice. As one of my professors and fellow foodies once said, “Rice is so 2002.” But let’s not get carried away. It will always have its place, and with this dish, quinoa just wouldn’t do.
Anyways, now that some time has passed, I’m bringing this dish back into my life. Black beans and rice is no longer a mundane staple in my life. Now it’s just an easy and cheap meal that’s delicious in an unpretentious way. Add a little salsa and a few slices of avocado, and you might find yourself with a new weekly meal of your own. Just make sure you don’t go too overboard with the leftovers.
Click here for recipe…
Cold noodles in the winter? The looks of disgust I presume I’d get from some of my soup fanatic friends still doesn’t scare me from sharing this recipe with you. I’m a bit of a soup junkie too, but I save that addiction for the evenings. For lunch, what I’m eating is often premeditated and snapped away in my backpack during the early hours of the morning, meaning I could care less whether it was a steam-filled meal. In fact, I generally prefer a meal that tastes best at room temp. because that’s how I’ll be eating it come lunchtime. (See hummus recipe 1 – 1,000,000).
Really, this plate of noodles can be eaten at any temperature, but it was designed for my need to fulfill an unusual lunch craving. Tired of sandwiches and certainly tired of plain old noodles, I reached for Soba, which I don’t even put in the same category as pasta. Unlike pasta (unless it’s the doughy kind from the Italian market) Soba remains a novelty. It’s nutty, but notably less dense than whole wheat pasta, and has this unique texture that’s significantly easier to chew than your typical al dente spaghetti.
The noodles lends themselves particularly well to Asian flavors, hence their name Soba, the Japanese word for buckwheat. Here, I tossed them with gingery kale and a little sesame oil for a noodle dish that works either hot or cold. That way you can pick the temperature depending on your personal temperament. Can’t do cold in the winter? Then don’t. But if cold noodles for lunch don’t sound like a bad idea, pack them up and just be sure to add an extra sprinkle of salt before you head on your way. Whatever style you choose, this healthful meal is sure to help ward off any all too common winter colds from taking over your body. Enjoy.
Click here for recipe…
After whipping up my last quinoa pilaf, I realized I had forgotten how easy cooking can be. When I’m stressed or simply overloaded with too many extraneous ideas to allow for creativity, cooking turns into an obligatory homework project. From outside the kitchen, it can psychological feel like nothing but a tiresome stack of unwashed dishes.
However, cooking’s really no different than when you conquer that first mile of a run. Ten minutes in, and often you’re ready to take on the whole trail.
For cooking, this is especially true with one pot dishes like these, where there’s very minimal cleanup required once you hit the homestretch.
Simple pilafs like these also keep things light and healthy. There’s no stove full of pans to oil up but rather just one pot of quinoa simmering away. That being said, don’t skimp on the tahini when you finish this one off. The creamy component is needed and adds a perfect richness that compliments the flavors infused in the quinoa. Enjoy!