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Spring

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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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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