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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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Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

I craft a lot, a lot of recipes. And I’m always dreaming up more in my mind. Yet, every year, Thanksgiving comes around, and rarely do I have a clue of what I’m going to make.

Usually, the winning idea arrives last minute (fashionably late). Often, it’s after a few Google searches, and several emails from my sister inquiring about what I’ll be bringing to the family feast. Usually she gives up. And often I show up with a surprise. Which means, it needs to be good. Great. Worthy of all turkey-eaters to save some vegetarian room on their plate.

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

This year, I was given some time in advance to think. Well, actually, required to set aside some time to choose a Thanksgiving dish to share recipe.

I hosted a Friendsgiving this past weekend, which was perfect for practicing my holiday cooking skills before the real deal rolls around.

This heaping bowl of thyme-infused rice and squash goodness got gobbled up in no time. If I had to give it an alternate name, I’d call it Healthful Holiday Party-in-a-Bowl. It’s a true celebration of fall’s best festive flavors.

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

Here, nutty rice pairs with creamy squash and a sweet-meets-tart punch of flavor from the cranberries. Buttery, pan-roasted pecans add a crunch, while thyme drives that classic Thanksgiving feel that we all know and love. I sautéed the onion in butter to richen things up, and finished it off with parsley to add a complimentary freshness. The result, as previously mentioned, is a T-day party-in-a-bowl. Are you ready to celebrate?

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

If you’re not sure what you’re bringing to the Thanksgiving table yet, I’m throwing this into the recommendation hat. It serves as a great vegetarian main dish that leaves you satisfied with all of its festive goodness.

If you do have a recipe already picked out, this needn’t be reserved solely for the holidays. Healthy and wholesome, I’ll certainly be bringing this to the table again this season. Cheers.

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Summer Rice and Quinoa Tabbouleh with Beets

Summer Tabbouleh with Beets

Can we talk about how fast life moves after graduating from college? And I’m not even at a 9-5 job anymore. Nor do I have kids…I can’t image how time will feel when that happens. I’m picturing similar to how this 800 mile per hour high speed train would feel, if it ever gets built.

This summer seems like a blur. Late August and evening sweater weather, how did you creep up so fast? Please leave me be for another few weeks. I need some time to contemplate. (i.e., to lay on my back in a pool, and stare mindlessly up at the sky). Ya feel me?

At least I can say the past few months have been entertaining ones, and packed with a tabbouleh salad full of new experiences. This last week, I had the opportunity to teach yoga to a class of senior citizens, a group of former homeless drug addicts, and Temple University’s volleyball team. Man, was each experience different. And tremendously rewarding. Occasions like this really make me reevaluate life. If only I had more time to ponder over those feelings. In a pool. Or a lake. I won’t be picky, summer, if you just stay a bit longer.

Summer Tabbouleh with Beets

So while life has been busy and all over the place, I’ve been making a lot of no-recipe tabbouleh salads. Ones in a huge bowl that will last for the week, and are packed with farmer’s market veggies to keep me charged and thinking straight.

On these occasions, there are no measuring cups or spoons present, excluding the one I’m using to taste as I go. There is no exact science involved. Or open laptop being splattered with veggie juice, tracking every ingredient’s use. While I love recipe development, more often than not, this is how I enjoy cooking the most. Improvisation based off of the ingredients I have at hand.

I hate to snub you guys of a precise directions here, but I want you to simply use this as inspiration to create your own version of tabbouleh. No stressing if you’re missing ingredients from the recipe, well, because there is no recipe. And no freaking out if it doesn’t look like some photo. Below is simply a loose blueprint to get you started. Also, just an FYI, one beet can go a long way. You don’t need much to add that gorgeous pink vibrancy you’ll see in the bowl above.

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Vegan Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are always a treat. The creamy filling that typically lies inside pairs perfectly with the chewy, dense texture of the mushrooms. I particularly enjoy portobellos, with their huge caps enabling a lot to be packed inside. Like in this recipe, containing portobellos jam-packed full of nutritious taste. Fiber-filled brown rice stands in as the base, infused with a vegan cream cheese-pesto duo of creaminess and flavor. I top the mushrooms with an oven roasted tomato topping to compliment the rich mushroom filling. I’m a garlic lover, so neither component of this dish is shy on the pungent, cholesterol-lowering ingredient. Yep, a whole head of garlic, plus some in the pesto. But no need to be be shy in diving in. Just make sure you share a few bites with those around you. Two garlic breathes cancel each other out, leaving you with satisfied taste-buds and a happy stomach.

Pesto Brown Rice Stuffed Portobellos with Roasted Tomatoes

(Serves 3)

-3 portobello mushrooms
-2 heaping cups cooked brown rice
-3 Tbsp. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
-1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Vegan Pesto (Omit sundried tomatoes)
-1 1/2 cup spinach, chopped
-Olive oil
-Garlic Roasted Tomatoes (See recipe below)

Preheat oven 350F. Scrap away scales from portobello caps. Brush outside of caps with olive oil.

Heat rice if not already warm. In a medium bowl, combine rice with pesto and cream cheese. Stir in spinach.

Divide rice mixture among the portobello mushrooms. Place on an aluminum-lined baking sheet, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until mushrooms are tender. Top with warm Garlic Roasted Tomatoes and a dash of hot sauce, if desired.

Garlic Roasted Tomatoes

-2 cups grape tomatoes
-1 head garlic (about 15 cloves), large cloves cut in half
-1 Tbsp. olive oil
-1/8 tsp. salt
-1/8 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven 350F. Bake 20-25 minutes, stirring halfway, until tomatoes are burst and garlic is fork tender. Serve atop stuffed mushrooms.

Fried Rice with Tempeh

Leftover rice in the fridge?  Then it’s time to whip up some of your favorite Chinese restaurant’s fried rice all in your own kitchen.

Fried rice is one of the best ways to quickly use up yesterday’s rice.  For one, it takes only a handful of minutes to make.  And two, it tastes so good that it will be in your stomach before too long. Good fried rice is never given the time to hang out with those other leftovers rotting away in the back of your fridge.  (Sorry if that gives you a bad image. But we all know that wasted food is never good food.)

For my fried rice, I’ve added some marinated tempeh and portobello mushrooms for a “meaty” vegetarian delight.  I speckled in some of that essential green color with a few cups of napa cabbage and some sprinkled chopped chives on top.  The end result is a healthy brown rice dish that breathes of gingery, sesame, Asian flavor.  Eat up, or save some for later, serving any leftovers warm or at room temp.

Fried Rice with Tempeh

(Serves 5)

For the tempeh:

  • -8 0z. tempeh, cubed
  • -2 tsp. sesame oil
  • -3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • -4 cloves garlic, minced
  • -2 tbsp. ginger, minced
  • -1 tsp. vinegar
  • -1 tsp. honey

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, and let marinade for at least 2 hours.

For the rice:

  • -3 cups cooked brown rice
  • -1 large onion, chopped
  • -6 oz. portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • -3 cups napa cabbage, chopped
  • -1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • -1 tsp. sesame oil
  • -1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • -Scallions or chives, chopped, for topping
  • -Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions, with a dash of salt and pepper, and saute 5 minutes.  Add tempeh plus marinade.  Saute 2 minutes.  Stir in mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms begin to become tender, 3-4 minutes.  Add cabbage, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  Cook until cabbage is wilted.  Stir in rice, and saute another 2-3 minutes, until rice is heated through.