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Brown rice

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

After recently moving to a new neighborhood, my two housemates and I threw a little housewarming BBQ and celebration. Yay!

Tasked with the challenge of making something for a crowd that would be vegetarian, nutritious AND able to rival burgers circulating aromatics from the grill, I settled upon this rendition of caprese.

I taste-tested in advance and gave it two thumbs up. But it was still much to my surprise that the healthy caprese rice ran out before the burgers. Who would’ve guessed?

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

As with a traditional caprese salad, the flavors here are simple but fresh. Good extra virgin olive oil, zesty basil and sweet caramelization from the oven that’s bestowed upon a variety of veggies all make this dish shine. It’s delicate, yet addicting. And makes you feel good even after going in for seconds.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I opted to keep this dish vegan, but feel free to add mozzarella or goat cheese. You could also play with the grain combination. Here, I chose to add in some barley with the rice, which lent?a nice and subtle crunchy element.

I also love the texture and flavor contrast created when using both roasted and raw tomatoes. If able, go with two different varieties for each, like sungolds and classic grape tomatoes, for a nice color scheme and added complexity of flavor.

Warm Caprese Grain Salad

I’m looking forward to more veggie and herb-centric meals in the months to come. Also a shout-out to Mastro Co. for the awesome ceramic bowl that held this veggie-filled goodness!
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Miso Tahini Soup

Miso Tahini Soup

Maybe I’m getting old. (But will forever want to draw at the kids’ table.) Maybe I had one too many Friendsgivings + Thanksgivings this year. (Forever thankful.) Maybe I just like soup best as December rolls in.

Likely it’s all of these and more – but regardless, I was ready to pass on all T-day leftovers this year. Another scoop of stuffing? No thank you.

Soup me, please.

Turnips

I was ready for a meal like this before the weekend even arrived. And whether you still need a few more days or not to reach that point, this remains one of my favorite cleansing, warming meals as the cool winter days set in.

It’s earthy. Light. Yet full of flavor that satisfies you within just one bowl.

I stumbled upon the recipe over on 101 Cookbooks after doing a quick Google search for turnips. They are still an item that leaves me clueless sometimes. (Although, lately I’ve learned a fast roast in the oven does wonders on the beauties.)

Miso Tahini Soup

This was first whipped up for a small gathering of friends, and again soon after in the week that followed. I look forward to utilizing the soup as the hefty holidays continue to roll forward.

Feel free to play around with the veggies you put into the pot. We did a steamed eggplant version the other night, which was wonderful. Just be sure to leave out anything too overpowering. There’s a delicateness to this soup that you won’t want to lose.

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Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

When you’re having a tomato party on your kitchen counters, turn up the heat and bring the celebration to your oven.

Slow. Roasted. Tomatoes.

Three words that equal magnificence. And a guaranteed party for your plated pasta, toast, or pesto.

Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

Giving tomatoes a good roast enriches their sweetness and draws out an intensity of flavor that makes them almost feel rich. I love them with a drizzle of olive oil on a piece of crusty bread. I also love them with pesto, again for that sweetness I mentioned, which they’ll bring to the dish.

Roasted Tomatoes

August is a beautiful time, given that you can reap bounties of both tomatoes and basil. Feel free to throw some sauteed zucchini on top of this dish too, or any other harvest you might find from your garden or in your farmer’s market basket. Really though, this dish doesn’t need much else, except maybe a cool glass of white wine and a table al fresco. Enjoy!

Pesto Rice with Slow Roasted Tomatoes and Walnuts

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Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Septemblur.

That’s all I have to say about this last month of summer. A good month for certain, but even more certainly, a fast one.

With just one (single!) day left of summer and one day till autumn, I have two words to say right now — s w e e t    p o t a t o.

Sweet Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but it feels like I woke up one morning, and poof, out of thin, (brisk, leaves-falling-through-it) air, autumn suddenly appeared. Sundress weather turned to sweater weather practically overnight, and sundown hours setup fort before I even had time to tell them I’d prefer they wait a bit longer.

That is life. You turn into this thing called an “adult” — generally the same meaning, but just a shorter form of the word adolescent — and life begins to blur.

Summer, don’t leave me. Please.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

On the bright side, fall brings with it an array of awesome qualities outside of just the dreaded onset of winter. Fall foliage, apple picking, apple pie, apple oatmeal, apple everything.

Like Bubba on shrimp, I could talk endlessly about the things you can do with apples. But instead, let’s talk sweet potatoes. After all, they define the warm color of this season, exemplifying its deepest shade at their best.

What am I looking forward to most this fall? Orange.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

I’m not ready to jump ship from summer. Don’t let this recipe deceive you. However, I admit, I am ready for sweet potatoes. When the weather crisps up, their soft heat brings more warmth to the table than my favorite winter sweater. And you know I am always ready for kale on that table, too.

So, here it is, my first autumn recipe of the year. Even if you’re a weeping-for-summer-to-stay kind of person like me, one thing’s for sure, this meal won’t disappoint. I say that even if the first cool, can’t-eat-outside evening you consume it during does. (Okay, okay. I know. Chilly evenings aren’t as bad as I’m making them out to be.)

Garlicky Kale

Here, garlicky kale and simply steamed sweet potatoes make for a classic pairing, yet an innovative, fall-feeling sushi. The ingredient combo also elevates an already healthy cuisine to a whole other level, which is exactly how I like to embrace the changing of seasons — on the right foot for my body.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

You’ll find sweet potato sushi as an option on many vegetarian sections of sushi restaurants. Yet, it’s rarely an item I reach for, given it’s often just sweet potato rolled up in rice. Make it yourself, however, and add some sautéed kale to that equation, and you get an incredibly flavorful roll, with sweet-bitter and soft-chewy contrasts. Creamy avocado, a mainstay in all my sushi dreams, makes the whole thing complete, along with wasabi to offset the sweet potato.

Still a simple roll, no part of this is really complicated. Yet together, it all works so well.

Fall Sweet Potato and Kale Sushi

Grab a sushi mat and get ready to roll. Even if you’re mat-less, a clean flat surface, and press from your hands can do the trick. Just don’t tell the sushi chef masters I ever suggested that. Continue Reading…

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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