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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.

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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.

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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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Asian Cabbage Slaw with Basil and Ginger

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

My blog is going on a 2 week vacation, while its author heads to the West Coast. (Hello California and Portland!) Before it says a brief adieu, however, we are leaving you with this excellent summertime recipe.

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

Have no fear if cabbages are ransacking your garden, farmers’ market or CSA share, and you haven’t a clue what to do with them. I can relate. Hence why I’m hoping to help you out here with this recipe before I jet-set away for a few.

That blank state of mind seems to be a yearly occurrence for me when cabbages starting forming into bowling balls by the masses. I really do enjoy cabbage. But what do you make with it that will use it up fast enough? A few shreds on top of some fish tacos won’t begin to peel off those layers. Nor will most pasta sautes and other recipes where cabbage comes in handy.

Of course the simple answer is coleslaw.

Cabbage

While as I said I love cabbage, there’s only so much coleslaw I can tolerate. Cabbage by the masses paired with mayo by the masses ends in feelings of eventual repulsion for the leafy veg.

Not that I’m a mayo-hater or anything. I just can’t eat it with slaw on a regular basis until my family and friends’ gardens stop crying me cabbage.

This Asian slaw however? It’s something my fork could get down with daily. Especially in the summer when almost every lunch/dinner screams for a crunchy, cool salad.

Asian Cabbage Slaw with Ginger and Basil

I like this because it’s refreshing, yet each bite hits you with an immense amount of flavor. You get sesame paired with summer basil, and a slightly sweet and spicy kick from the rice vinegar paired with the ginger. Use a food processor to make its assembly easy, and feel free to top with roasted peanuts or any other garnish of your choice.

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Kale and Strawberry Salad over Bulgur Wheat

Kale and Strawberry Salad

Strawberry picking in the city is a funny thing. Or I guess I should technically say just outside the city – the ‘burbs.

You see, where I grew up, when you wanted to pick fruit, you drove to the local farm. You’d stop and say hello with one of the old-timers, who was of course part of the family farm. Usually, he be missing a few teeth. Always, he’d be armed with directions to the sweetest patch of fruit. He’d give you a basket or box to go pick, and then you’d be on your way.

It was always a swell time.

Kale and Strawberry Salad

In (or just outside) the city, it’s certainly a swell time, too. But the scene looks a little (and by that I mean a lot) different.

When you roll up to the ‘burbs farm, or at least the one I recently visited, you find not old geezers hanging around in their holey shirts and overalls. Nope. Instead, you find a parking lot packed with 200+ cars. I kid you not.

You also find kids. And cameras. And hot dog stands. And maybe even a carnival ride. Not sure if that last part actually existed where I went, but there was definitely some kind of train riding and face painting action going on, and I felt as though I might as well have been at a carnival. Although again, the only thing that was missing was the guys with no teeth.

What really set the experience apart, however, was the part where I had to pay $5 before even going to pick the strawberries I dreamt about all morning. Pay-before-you-pick? City picking isn’t cheap, I tell you. In fact, you might be better off just buying a few pints at the store. But that’s obviously no fun, right? It’s okay. I ate my weight in strawberries while out in the field to make up for it.

Kale and Strawberry Salad

I left my gorging-on-strawberries, red-stained, kid-like self in the strawberry field, and decided to become an adult again once I returned home. The results are this salad.

After this, I can tell you for once, I feel okay about getting older. Strawberries in my kale salad? Heck, I’ll call myself an adult any day if that’s what comes from it. Just don’t quote me on that when I’m eating a large bowl of strawberries and ice cream for dessert. And the strawberry juice is running all down my face. Because I’m licking the bowl. Because I’m a kid. At heart.

A little salty (thank you feta), a little sweet (cheers to local strawberry season), and a little earthy (thank you almighty kale), this salad hits every note in all the right ways. Plate it up over cooked bulgur to make it a meal, or send it off to a picnic and become the star of the party.  It won’t let you down – even if your strawberry experience is a bit more dubious.

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Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

This time of year, I want ginger and lime in my cup. Preferably over ice. Preferably with something a little fizzy. Maybe (or, if it’s a warm weekend night, definitely maybe) with some kind of spirit jazzing it up, too.

I’m a sucker for ginger. And lime. So naturally, I’ll say “yes please” to that duo in hummus on my spring veggie baguette, too.

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

When early summer rolls around, my diet generally shifts to veggies, and lots of them. Why eat anything else when there’s asparagus, and arugula, and cauliflower, and maybe even the first greenhouse-grown tomato in the ground? None of that tastes as good during the off seasons – especially when we’re talking tomatoes – so, I do my best to pack my diet with it when it’s shining brightly at the farmer’s market. (Or better yet, hanging out for free in my mom’s garden.)

With that being said, however, it’s good to have something that packs a punch of protein on-hand. Active summery days call for something a little more than veggies. Something more than Ginger Lime Mojitos, too. (Sorry if that’s all you can think about now as well.)

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

Hummus is a dietary staple of mine. In all honesty, I could make anything featuring sesame tahini a dietary staple – but hummus just so happens to be a healthy and convenient choice. Especially this edamame-spiced one, which packs double the protein in a nice green package.

Ginger Lime Edamame Hummus

Compared to traditional chickpeas, edamame looks pretty good – and I mean that to extend beyond just its vibrant green color. It has slightly fewer calories, more protein, and nearly the same amount of fiber per serving. Not bad, considering chickpeas in themselves aren’t a bad choice.

Keep a batch of this in your fridge, and you’ll have the makings for a baguette, ready to be picnicked all week long. If you can, pick up some radishes to shave on top, my veggie topping of choice. Although carrots can do the trick pretty well too, even sans bread.

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Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Guys, serious news here. I think I’ve found my new food obsession. And it goes by the name of Socca.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

On Saturday, I made my first socca – a thin, pancake like crepe derived from chickpea flour. It was an instant hit (on my Instagram, too).

So on Sunday, I made my second one. I brought it to a cookout, and again, I went home with a clean plate.

Now that it’s Monday, I’ll eat my third meal of it, by the way of lunch. And by tomorrow, Tuesday, you can consider me socca-swooned.

I’m declaring right now — June is going to be a month of Socca. Get ready.

Socca with Pesto, Asparagus, and Kale

Socca has a flatbread feel to it, with slight falafel-like undertones of flavor, hence the chickpea flour it comes from. However, like a pizza pie, it can take on whatever genre you desire. You choose the ingredient spread, and it will choose the feel of your socca.

For my first one, pictured here, I chose a hearty dose of pesto, paired with a whole bunch more greenery. Feed me this every day of June, and I would be a happy girl.

Spring Socca with Pesto, Kale, and Asparagus

Aside from its versatility and tender texture, what blows my mind is how incredibly easy it is to make socca. Forget yeast. Forget dough-rising. And, let’s all praise chickpeas for this, forget kneading. All you need for socca is a 30-minute wait time and a handy spatula. Oh, and ideally, a cast iron pan. (Given how beautiful cast iron can make anything look, I suggest you keep one of those on hand regardless.)

In this variation, you’ll find inspiration from light and fresh spring veggies, richened up with a layer of summer pesto. It’s a pizza-like app/meal that feels so classy and restaurant-worthy, yet entirely attainable in your own home. I recommend you put it on your to-make list. ASAP.

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