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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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Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

The blog is undergoing a sweet potato takeover.

Here goes the third recipe in a row, although, this time it’s not breakfast-oriented but rather an awesome lunch or dinner option…That just so happens to be vegan and gluten-free.

High five to my favorite kind of tuber.
Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

With warmer and warmer days quickly creeping in, there’s only a limited amount of time left where I can justify using sweet potatoes on as many occasions as possible.

Here, I tried to create a winter-meets-spring recipe, mixing hearty sweet potatoes with the summer-like vibes of pizza, arugula and tomatoes.

That’s as good of an excuse as any that I can give you to bake up some sweet potatoes in the middle of June.
Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust
This was my first time experimenting with making a sweet potato crust, and while I was a bit nervous with how it would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised by the results.

My main challenge was determining whether to mix the baked sweet potato with oats or chickpea flour to compose the dough. I make socca — a pizza-like flatbread created simply from chickpea flour and water — all of the time, so it seemed natural to go that route.

However, ultimately, I wanted the dough to be a bit chewier, like actual pizza, versus the more tender consistency of socca, so I decided to pulse some oats and create an oat flour of sorts instead.

Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

The result? An incredibly delicious crust that was surprisingly easy to make.

The crust here is certainly chewier than socca, but I would say a bit softer than a traditional dough. That being said, you can both eat this pizza with a fork, like you might socca, or pick it up with your hands, like you would with pizza.

It’s not too hard to cut through, but it’s also durable enough to do a fold-over and devour as you would a large, triangular slice of ‘za.
Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

I also went with a white sauce for the pizza, which I felt might pair better with the subtle sweetness of the crust and the bitter arugula with which I wanted to compliment it.

While the almond milk bechamel is another step in itself, it relies on just four ingredients, which are whisked to create the sauce in just a handful of minutes.

Vegan Pizza with Sweet Potato Crust

Lastly, let’s talk about the vegan chorizo. I love Trader Joe’s soy chorizo, and a little bit of it goes a long way. However, if that’s not accessible to you, you could easily pan-fry some thinly sliced vegan sausage, instead, or tempeh bacon, or other substitute of your choice. Anything with a hint of spice and smokiness would pair quite well with the crust.

And, of course, the crust could be finished with an entirely different topping combination of your own — feel free to get creative!

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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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Sauteed Radishes and Scallions with Quinoa

Sauteed Radishes and Scallions with Quinoa

I’ll admit, radishes weren’t ever really on my radar until the past year or so.

It was within recent months that two things changed: 1) The discovery of watermelon radishes (so pretty!); and 2) Sauteed radishes (so yummy!).

Sauteed Radishes and Scallions with Quinoa

I’ve always thought radishes were beautiful, but rarely would I go out of my way to pick them up for slicing on salads and such. That is, until, as mentioned before, I came to learn about the radish in its cooked form.

Sauteed Radishes and Scallions with Quinoa

A little saute takes the humble radish to the next level.

Throw those pink beauties in the pan with a spoonful of butter or quality olive oil, add a pinch of salt, and suddenly sliced radishes become addicting. You taste test one with your wooden spoon, and it doesn’t take more than 30 seconds until you’re reaching for another.

Game-changer, I’m telling you.

Radish Still Life

In light of spring, I’ve created a light and bright recipe inspired by radishes and scallions, two of the first veggies to pop up for the season in the garden.

Sauteed together, the ingredients create a delicate balance of flavor that works so beautifully together.

A nuttiness from both the quinoa and crunchy toasted walnuts completes the dish, as does a hint of lemon.

Sauteed Radishes and Scallions with Quinoa

I invite you to tryout sauteed radishes in other forms, too. I love them scattered across a nice, crusty bread. Bonus points if that bread is made into avocado toast. They also work well on top of salads and many forms of grain bowls.

If you decide to give them a shot outside of this recipe, I’d love to hear what you come up with!

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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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