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Avocado Spinach Pesto Over Rice

Avocado Spinach Pesto Over Rice

 

Summer is the season of speedy ripening. A peach can go from hard to moldy in less than 24 hours. A banana from yellow to speckled in seemingly minutes. And an avocado from hard to creamy within just a day.

Summer is the season of inspiration from ingredients that aren’t going to last — and it’s this little push that makes my creative juices thrive.

Cue: avocado pesto.

Avocado Spinach Pesto Over Rice

This sauce relies on the simple efforts of a food processor. Yet, the straightforward combination of ingredients lends itself to so many possibilities.

This pesto could go great with tacos, on toast, pasta or grain bowls. Give it a starch, and it’s bound to shine.

Avocado Spinach Pesto Over Rice

The first night, I shared this pesto with a friend on pasta. We sauted some mushrooms to throw on top, added a cold glass of beer to the side, and enjoyed a lovely meal in my backyard. The remainder, I used the next day to spoon over rice, as pictured above, with some fresh tomatoes from the market.

The topping options here are endless, as is the starch like I mentioned above. Feel free to get creative and use what other fast-ripening ingredients you may have on hand!

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Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

It’s been a bit of surprise to see corn so largely displayed and promoted in the grocery store as of recently. It’s definitely a bit early for the local season, but I caught the summer bug and have succumbed to buying it on more than one occasion.

There’s something about these early 90-degree days in June that has been keeping summer on my mind, along with a menu of eats that match.

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

This dish was also inspired by a recent purchase of basil that I’ve planted in my backyard Philly garden. It looks as though I’ll never reap a large enough harvest for pesto, but my potted plants are, for now, yielding enough herbs for dishes like this. Score.

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

This is a light and refreshing meal, perfect for a midday lunch on a warm day. It’s nourishing and certainly not the kind of dish that’ll weigh you down as those hot temps takeover.

Quinoa with Sauteed Corn, Avocado and Basil

Don’t skimp out on the quality of olive oil that you use and be sure to reach for fresh (vs. dried) basil here, as both add a lot to the delicate complexity of flavors here.

However, if you want to get playful, feel free to switch up the nuts, and work with pine nuts or pistachios or something else that might sound fun to you.

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Spinach and Komatsuna with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

I recently teamed up with my friend Nicole over at Vestige Home to create this fresh and easy spring meal. Nicole makes gorgeous hand-carved wooden creations, like that walnut bowl pictured above.

Photographing food is always ten times easier when you have beautiful dish-ware to work with!

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Inspired by a CSA bounty, we settled on a greens and shiitake saute over this brown rice mix that Nicole picked up from a local New Jersey farm. I had nooo idea that rice could be cultivated on the east coast, let alone right next door to me in New Jersey. Apparently the farm, Bloom Moon Acres, uses a dry farming technique, allowing them to produce rice on a local scale.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

The rice was quite tasty and the perfect nutty and chewy compliment to the tender spinach and mustard that came to top it. I’d recommend using a black rice or a black and brown rice mix yourself if making this recipe.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

Both Nicole and I were quite pleased with how quickly and easily this recipe came together. After cooking the rice, you can just about?pull this all together in 10 minutes or so.

That’s one of the perks to working with spinach, which cooks up fast in comparison to other greens, as does the komatsuna.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

What is komatsuna? Komatsuna is a Japanese mustard green with a flavor profile that lays in between spinach and mustard. It’s definitely a bit milder than regular mustard greens.

Most Asian markets should carry it, as will Whole Foods. However, if you can’t find it, you could swap it for mustard greens, but definitely seek out a baby variety so that you don’t end up with something too bitter for the delicate flavors of this dish.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

We chose toasted almonds to top complete the meal, adding a crunch and a subtle nuttiness that wouldn’t overpower the rest of the dish.

To toast, simply heat a skillet over medium-high heat and then add the almonds. Stirring regularly, cook for 5 minutes or so, until the almonds begin to brown. At this point, you’ll want to remove them from the pan so that they don’t continue to cook and end up burning.

Spinach and Mustard Greens with Shiitakes and Almonds over Rice

A squeeze of lemon finishes everything off, drawing out the brightness of all of the ingredients.

Serve among two to three people for a light lunch or share among many (six) as a side. Nicole has some nice serving dishes that can help you with this step…!

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Curry Harvest Soup

Curry Harvest Soup

In Philly, sweater weather has official set in. I’m zipping around a little faster on my bike and keeping my jackets zipped up a little higher. All in the name of keeping warm while I watch the leaves turn, fall, and land from their treetop post.

When I set this soup upon the table yesterday evening, I have to say, I was feeling pretty good about autumn. Warm, crusty bread and an Oktoberfest beer paired by its side, it’s safe to say I think you’d feel the same.

Curry Harvest Soup

If you find yourself ever getting the fear-of-winter blues, like me, make soup. Soup is pretty much the solution to everything.

After a crisp, October run, with the sun setting just a wee bit too early, a spoonful of this will assure you, autumn will be more than okay. And for a few warm moments, it’ll make you forget all together about winter.

I call it soup meditation.

It clears the mind. It clears the nose…especially if you put enough curry powder and spice.

Curry Harvest Soup

This particular soup has plenty of spice, although not in a notably fiery way. It remains light given all its vegetables and brothy composure, yet with some of the season’s best – sweet potatoes and kale – has a heartiness that makes it more than satisfying. I find this balance makes it perfect for mid-fall, when you need a little warmth but not a heavy sauna in your bowl.

Curry Harvest Soup

Make sure you don’t skimp out on the toppings. The parsley and nutritional yeast really do wonders to enhance this simple recipe and play off its seasonal freshness.

Curry Harvest Soup

Additionally, feel free to use all sweet potatoes, if feeling so inspired. You can rarely go wrong with an extra sweet potato in the pot.

As for the yellow squash, slightly matured ones, characteristic of this time of year, are fine and maybe even preferred. The heartier flesh pairs well with the other ingredients going on here.

Serve with some earthy bread and a nice fall beer, and you’ve got yourself the perfect evening.

More soup to come soon, guaranteed.

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Tofu Banh Mi Collard Wraps with Wasabi Peanut Sauce

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

Certain neighborhoods of Philly are infiltrated with Banh mi. The classic Vietnamese sandwich essentially acts as the Chipotle of the Asian food world, but even cheaper. You walk in, select your “meat”, and leave within 5-10 minutes with an aluminum wrapped, $5 foot-long sandwich, ready to be eaten. It’s a great feeling.

Scallions

Since it’s so easy to pick up a Banh mi around Philly, I rarely take the time to make it. Yet, it’s hands-down one of my favorites of the sandwich world, and so on the occasion that I’m getting a simultaneous desire for both Banh mi and a chef’s knife in my hand, I put on my cooking hat and grab my own tofu to be canvassed.

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

When Banh mi making is going down in my kitchen, you can nearly guarantee it’s going to have a little flair to it. What’s the point of making the original version when I can grab that anytime, with little detriment to my bank account?  Besides, if I’m recreating a dish, I’m always about finding further ways to maximize its flavor since the ingredient make-up lays entirely in my hands. No doubt, that’s going on with this recipe. Wassuppppp wasabi?

Tofu Bahn Mi Collard Wraps

I don’t eat a ton of white bread, but when it comes to Banh Mi, a chewy white roll will always oust a whole wheat counterpart. This is one instance where whole wheat just won’t work. The flavor is unfortunately just too overpowering.

Collard wraps, on the other hand, those can create some Banh Mi magic.

CollardWraps_blog11

Here, collard wraps are able to balance the delicate freshness of the traditional Banh mi composition, while adding an even extra layer of freshness on top of it all. It lightens up the whole meal, while enabling more flavor to shine through. Peel back that one-inch layer of bread, and the notes of deliciousness from the slaw, cilantro and other jamboree of ingredients are able to reach their fullest potential.

Shredded carrots

Be patient with the tofu, and make sure it gets a nice crisp so it can add that contrast to the creamy peanut sauce you’ll place beneath it.

For a fun, spicy twist, this peanut sauce receives a generous punch of wasabi that’ll make it stand out among other sauces. I love the flavor it brings to the subtle sweetness of the peanuts and the carrots.

CollardWraps_blogmontage

True to the grab-and-go nature of banh mi — but more so with the intention to make your wrap-eating a little less messy! — envelope your collard packages in aluminum foil. This will seal in all the flavors so they don’t end up on your shirt. Although, if you’re like me, that’ll probably happen anyway.

I brought that big pile up above into work last week, and served it with a slide of Asian slaw for my coworkers. Two thumbs up, all around.

Since these are destined for pre-packaging, this will makes a great recipe for your own workweek lunch. While best the first day, the wraps can certainly withstand being rolled up the night before and kept in the fridge till you head out.

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