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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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Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

Real talk here – emojis are one of the best attributes to ever appear in the smartphone world. It’s not infrequent that I’m texting half in emoji-speak, and dying in my bed from my own emoji-induced laughter.

Emojis are great, and so are the other goofs who can appreciate them as much as I do. Hopefully that’s you, otherwise you’re probably praying for my sanity right now.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

While I am forever anticipating the creation of a carrot emoji, I can say I frequently get down with the eggplant icon while I wait. Its purple radiance, with its bright green top, does wonders to add life to my muted text messages.

Eggplant emojis, for the win.

Japanese eggplant

You know what else is an eggplant win? When you add its roasted form to your hummus. You’ll find a recipe for that below, which is essentially a babaganoush meets hummus situation that can only be described as yum-o.

Roasted Eggplant Hummus with Toasted Cumin

By adding roasted eggplant into the chickpea mix, you create a slightly creamier spread to smear across your toasted bread or pita. I wanted to throw a little texture back in, so I toasted up some cumin seeds and added them, too. Like poppy seeds on a cracker, their small pop works well here, and really takes the spice infusion to another level. The toasty aromatics and nuttiness you derive from the whole form of cumin seed is worth the extra step.

Spread on pita with thinly sliced cabbage, spinach, and maybe some feta, too, or serve simply as is with warm, toasted bread and a drizzle of EVOO.

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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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Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

I’ve been writing a recipe column for Today’s Dietitian, and September’s edition features a somewhat controversial veggie from my childhood days  the beet.

Grated beets

As I wrote in my column, the discord stems primarily from parents with rather differing opinions about the beautiful, but dangerous, late summer vegetable. You see,

“Beets were my mom’s worst nightmare. The juice stained her cutting boards, tie-dyed her kids’ white T-shirts, and left her scrubbing the kitchen counters until her hands turned pink. On the other hand, beets were my dad’s favorite vegetable. They were one of his continuously best-growing crops in the family garden. He loved nothing more than staining his hands as he pulled the beets out of the ground each year, and he had an affinity for their taste that my mom couldn’t match. And unfortunately, my mom had cleaning skills that my dad couldn’t match, so every summer there was a comical bone of contention that surrounded beets.”

This had always left me unsettled about my own opinions for beets. I’ve always enjoyed, but not longed, for their flavor, and I’ve always sort of shied away from the mess they tend to create.

However, in recent years, I’ve developed a newfound love.

Smoky Black Bean Burgers With Herb Yogurt Sauce

After one small one went into this recipe for tabbouleh, I was sold. That color! It’s flavor in the dish was not super memorable, but the hue it lent to the entire bowl certainly was. From then on, I would find ways to employ the beet’s beautiful color, and do so in a way that wouldn’t destroy my counters. And white t-shirts, because unfortunately, mom isn’t buying those anymore.

This recipe for Smoky Black Bean Burgers utilizes the food processor to keep the mess at a bay, while enabling beets to add color to a veggie burger that’s hard to forget. Here, the veggie adds adds a hint of sweetness that goes perfectly with the smoky paprika, as well as the parsley herb sauce that tops it all off. (Note, feel free to use any summer herb that sounds good to you. I vote for basil as an alt.)

Head on over to the digital edition of the mag for the recipe! 

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

As I relayed in my last post, I made a big move last weekend.

In reality I guess it could’ve been bigger. Me, and all my stuff, simply switched neighborhoods in my current city of Philadelphia. But, it was a big upgrade from my last residence — especially in terms of the kitchen.

Without many tears, I said goodbye to slanted linoleum floors. A goodbye to minimal counter space. And a huge audios to my old ’70s-styled kitchen.

Ah. That felt good.

Eggplant and broccoli

I will miss being steps away from the cheap, bustling, food-filled Italian Market of my former ‘hood. I will miss the park on my old corner. I will miss the 2-block walking distance of my favorite restaurant. I will miss a lot of things.

However, I am happy to report this recent life change feels better than expected. I’m realizing I lived in an entirely too small apartment for two years too many. No regrets though, right? It just means more things to look forward to, and more appreciation for this next change in life.

Asian Broccoli and Eggplant with Tempeh

Anyway, to celebrate the move, I christened my new kitchen not more than a day after putting all the plates I brought with me into its cabinets. It happened to be a Sunday, and in my book, a Sunday not spent adventuring in a new place is then automatically destined to be spent with wooden spoon in hand. After the whole moving process, no trips were in store. So instead, a Sunday afternoon of cooking was planned. I was more than ready to put that new counter space to use.

Broccoli and Eggplant

The first culinary creation of my new house? This one, of course, filled with summer eggplant and a simple pairing of Asian flavors. A little salty – thanks to some soy sauce. Mildly sweet – thank you Hoisin. And of course, needed hints of freshness with the help of my friend, cilantro.

All of these favorite characteristics pair well with eggplant that gets cooked till its creamy, and broccoli that throws back a bit of crispness to this dish. Add some tempeh for a little nutty protein, and place it all over rice, and you’ve got one heck of a meal.

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