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collards

Winter Lentil Loaf

Winter Lentil Loaf

Hello winter.

I wasn’t quite ready for you. Even after you dragged your feet. And let 60-degree days creep into my December. I am still not prepared for your arrival.

I’m sorry. I wish I liked you. I really do. But for now, I cope with comforting foods. And warm blankets and faces and seven layers of sweaters.

Winter Lentil Loaf

As a vegetarian, sometimes you just need something comforting, and it’s not always as easy to identify those quintessential items as it is in the meat kingdom.

Sure, there is soup. Which I adore.

But sometimes I want mashed potatoes, and gravy, and something hearty. And wholesome, too, of course.

This meal satisfies all of the above.

Winter Lentil Loaf

You could consider lentil loaf akin to meatloaf…that is, if you don’t think meatloaf is yucky.

It looks a little dull, but if prepared right, it’s oozing with herbs and umami flavor and warmth that radiates up from your plate.

It also happens to be packed with some rather superb ingredients, like lentils and walnuts, and in this case, tomatoes and collards, too. Those latter two actually bring some color to this particular lentil loaf recipe.

Winter Lentil Loaf

I like to serve lentil loaf alongside some of my other favorite wintry dishes of comfort. However, the sides for this dish are endless.

It must also be mentioned, my absolute favorite is to sandwich the leftovers between two slices of whole grain bread with a healthy handful of sprouts and good smear of ketchup and/or mustard on top. No reheating needed.

Ketchup isn’t a bad condiment for it when hot, either. I’m always torn between that and a veggie gravy. Try them both out, and decide what appeals most to you.

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Sweet Potato, Greens and Beans Burrito

Sweet Potato, Greens and Beans Burrito

What do you get when you ask three healthy food bloggers to tell you their #1 fall veggie? Too many answers to count. So, Philadelphia Magazine’s Be Well picked the produce (sweet potatoes) for us, and tasked two friends of mine and I to come up with an accessible way to use it.

The results: three kick-butt recipes that’ll make you mash what you think you already know about cooking sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato, Greens and Beans Burrito

I chose to create a rendition of burritos with a healthy beans and greens twist. Like sweet potatoes, it’s hard to go wrong with bringing burritos to the dinner table.

Sweet Potato, Greens and Beans Burrito

I love how sweet potatoes compliment the earthiness of young fall greens. In this recipe, these two star ingredients are given the majority of the attention so that the preparation of the beans can remain quick and simple. Spices infuse the veggies, while the beans are simply tossed with a spritz of citrus to complete a weeknight meal that comes together in no time.

Head over to Be Well for the recipe, where you’ll also find a Sweet Potato Falafel (!) and a hearty Sweet Potato, Kale, and Wild Rice Soup!

Slow Cooked Garlic and Greens Tapenade

Slow Cooked Garlic and Greens TapenadeKristen Miglore and Merrill Stubbs of the Food52 crew swung through Philadelphia a couple weeks ago to promote their newest book, Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook. 

My friend and fellow Philly food blogger, Emily, and I jumped at the opportunity, of course, to go hear them speak. And afterwards, we gushed over the ten trillion genius recipes we had to recreate from the book.

Slow Cooked Garlic and Greens Tapenade

This was spun off of one of those recipes, the famous Food52 posted “Broccoli Cooked Forever” from Chef Roy Finamore. It was a strange-sounding idea that involved cooking broccoli for, well, forever (2 hours) and adding in a bunch of olive oil and anchovies. Sounds…errr…kinda gross, right? Yeah, that was my thought, too.

Yet, the ladies from Food52, a food site I absolutely adore, were raving about this creation. So much so that they’ve bestowed it with the title of “genius”. The commenters on the online version of the recipe, (it can be found in the cookbook as well), were raving about it too. Naturally, I was intrigued and had to try it for myself.

Slow Cooked Garlic and Greens Tapenade

Intrigued — but with no available broccoli in my house. Yet, vested with a TON of tough summer greens growing in my garden. And so began the birth of this recipe, which I might have to label as an unforeseen amazement…if not downright ingenious.

Slow Cooked Garlic and Greens Tapenade

What better way to beat late season toughness out of greens than to cook them forever? Okay, so in my version, I only make you sit through 60 minutes of cooking time because, let’s be real, while broccoli might reach the consistency of butter, collard greens aren’t ever going to get there. They will, however, reach a buttery, super tender texture, which can be achieved within just an hour of simmer time. Voila.

Placed on top of crusty bread with a grating of fresh Parm and a few chopped tomatoes to cut the richness of the olive oil, I think this may have become my new greens go-to. I’ll definitely be making this dish again soon.

Trust me, it may sound a little strange,but I promise, it’s…brilliant!(?)

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Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

I’ve been eating my weight in greens, thanks to this new community garden plot of mine. Some slightly poor planning has left me with little other than kale, collards, swiss chard and tatsoi. I’m waiting with patience for cucumbers and tomatoes, and am in the meantime throwing down a greens party nearly every night in the FoodFitnessFreshAir kitchen.

I really haven’t any serious complaints about it though.

Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

I do have some little baby carrots and radishes growing, which make an appearance in this recipe. And some lettuce from a friendly neighbor. Both worked well to construct the bed of salad that’s placed beneath the real stars of this dish: salmon and collard green pesto.

Since crispy broiled salmon speaks for itself, let’s get straight to the pesto.

Currently, I have no basil in sight, aside from a few slow growing plants on my back porch. Likely you don’t either.

What there is an abundance of this time of year, however, is greens. And as mentioned above, thankfully I’ve got a ton with which to work. Regardless of whether you’re reaping the same harvest or not, I’d encourage you to give this a go. This time of year, I guarantee it’ll be cheaper, and just as tasty, as traditional basil pesto. And even a little healthier, too.

I tell you, collard greens make for one nutrient-packed pesto.

Salad with Salmon and Collard Green Pesto

If you do have basil laying around, feel free to throw it in with the greens. You could also swap the collards for other greens, such as swiss chard or baby kale. Stay away from greens that are on the more bitter side or are more matured, which will reap a heavier flavor. These could have their place too in pesto, but not aside the delicacy of roasted salmon.

If you have any other green-loaded recipes, please share! I’m looking to freeze a bunch of this pesto for the winter, but would love to hear your ideas, too. Let me know how you’re using kale/collards this year!

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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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