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sesame

Sesame Cucumber Edamame Salad

Asian Sesame Cucumber Salad

The unofficial start to summer has arrived, and all I want to be eating are refreshing treats like watermelon, lots and lots of watermelon, and cucumbers, too.

This sesame-seasoned dish gets even better with time. It’s part of what makes it an ideal picnic bring-along. Put an hour aside to let the flavors mingle. And then serve it as a compliment to other summery dishes, whether a cold soba noodle salad, or warm yet light grain bowl.

Note: If you don’t have sesame seeds available, crushed peanuts are a great substitute.

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Peanut Butter Date Fudge

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Evenings are slowly getting chillier and quickly growing dark prior to the dinner hour. Already, I want to spend more of them curled up in my kitchen.

While summer is filled with some of my favorite produce, it’s autumn and winter when I move into my real cooking groove.
Toasted sesame seeds

It’s also prime wedding season, and my photo ventures call for portable, energy-packed snacks like these. My tastebuds call for them all the time, so really it’s a win-win. Ya feel me?

Inspired by a recipe I saw over on Food & Wine, I knew I had to try this “fudge”. No sugar – just dates – this is the kind of fudge that’ll spike your energy, not bring it down. Yet, it has all that dense, sweet goodness you’d expect from a fudge. Again…win.

Peanut Butter Date Fudge

Throw some toasted sesame seeds on top for an extra punch of flavor, and toss a few coconut flakes on there too for some crunch. Both help brighten its appearance and make it an easy sell to guests. Although, one taste would do the trick as well.

Peanut Butter Date Fudge

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Quinoa Fall Buddha Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

Quinoa Fall Veggie Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

Montreal was dreamy. Parks and green space were both in abundance, as were spacious bike lanes and an inspiring amount of cyclists putting them to good use.

Bagels also abound, but even more exciting for me was the number of vegan spots present in every neighborhood. There were tons of them. It was glorious.

Roasted Kabocha

Many of the vegan restaurants were casual, hosting menus of simple, affordable meals made from quality ingredients. It was in the details, like that extra handful of sprouts or the fact that the tempeh was homemade, that made each meal stand out.

The warm, notably thin, ever-so slightly crispy pita that held one breakfast’s tofu scramble still sticks in my mind this morning. Details. It’s all about the details.

Quinoa Fall Veggie Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

A lot of spots also had nourishing bowls like this, the inspiration behind today’s recipe. After snacking on croissants, these kind of meals come in handy.

But really, if you want to feel energized and clear-headed, meals like these are perfect for anytime.

It’s the best when you finish up a filling meal, and feel nothing but refreshed afterwards. This is the beauty of what the blogging world calls the Buddha Bowl.

Sesame Seeds

Packed with protein-powered whole grains and sweet, creamy roasted kobacha squash, I consider this a treat to welcome in the autumn season. Tahini sauces are always my favorite, too, so this herbed rendition really seals the deal. You’ll notice the recipe makes double the amount of sauce you’ll need. You could either A) feed more people and double the veggies too, or B) save the sauce and use it in other salad/grain recipes later. If you decide to do the later, you may wish to add a little extra water or heat the sauce following refrigeration. The sauce thickens once cooled.

Quinoa Fall Veggie Bowl will Dill Tahini Sauce

Feel free to add some tofu or chickpeas on top for a little extra oomph.

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Savory Japanese Oats

Savory Japanese Oats

“It’s a little too sweet. I’d like it better if it wasn’t so sweet.” “…Classic Grace.”

It’s a common dialogue between my friends and I. It’s also why I rarely order cocktails off a pre-made menu. Why I always opt to add my own sweetener to my yogurt. Order my coffee black. And prefer to make my own granola and salad dressings and desserts.

I don’t trust others to sweeten my food because it always turns out just “a little too sweet”! My friends would disagree with me on this. And I will agree to disagree, on most occasions.

Scallions

I’m not one of those puzzling non-dessert people. In fact, my sweet tooth can get a little out of hand sometimes. (Cue the disappearance of 1/2 of a dark chocolate bar  after intentions of only eating one square). But I do prefer everything on the bitter side. That means dark chocolate vs. milk. Froyo vs. gelato (a frequent trigger of that quoted dialogue above). Espresso vs. lattes. Beer vs. cocktails. Etc.

I love sugar. Just not in dominating amounts. Which means you’ll rarely find me ordering oatmeal at a restaurant because you’ll rarely find a restaurant serving oatmeal without sugar being the commander of its seasoning. (A spoonful of sugar’s needed to make the oatmeal go down? Some friends would agree with that too.)

Savory Japanese Oats

Often, I don’t want my oatmeal sweetened at all. My new obsession is savory oats, and if you haven’t tested this out yet, I recommend giving it a try.

Going the savory route creates a breakfast that feels so fresh and energizing, it’s hard to turn back. I know soy sauce on oats, and scallions too, might sound strange, but trust me on this one. It’s unique in all the right ways.

Purple Sweet Potato

Unique, kind of like purple sweet potatoes. Are these not gorgeous?! They’re totally worth the splurge at the grocery store if you can afford it, and also find them. To me, that smile that will come after piercing their just-baked skin and seeing their vibrancy is worth it alone.

Purple Sweet Potato

Yes, I play with my food sometimes.

Japanese Savory Oats

Here, the sweet potato adds a little sweetness that pairs well with the heat of the Sriracha and bite of the onion. Sesame and toasted nori continues to infuse the delicate oats so that each bite has a profusion of complimenting flavors. You could easily fry up an egg (or soft boil) and throw it on top for another dimension. Regardless, you’ll end up with an incredible, no-sugar-need bowl of oats that no one will say is “too sweet” and that everyone will say is pretty fantastic. And energizing, too.

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Jerusalem’s Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

Jerusalem's Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

One of my roommates recently picked up the Jerusalem cookbook. It’s always been one of my favorites to peruse, along with Ottolenghi’s other book, Plenty. I’ve never owned either of the books but have many friends who do, and from their pages, I have loved pretty much every recipe I’ve had the pleasure of helping to recreate.

Mediterranean cuisine may just be my favorite. And Jerusalem is packed with quality ingredients that bring this style of eating to life.

Winter Butternut

The first Ottolenghi recipe I ever made was essentially the non-pureed form of the one typed out below. That initial dish, a baked butternut and roasted red onion side, is one I make often. It introduced me to the heavenly combination of creamy tahini and nutty squash, which I knew wouldn’t let me down in this recipe.

Jerusalem's Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

Here, that duo is topped with an intriguing addition – date syrup, or as an alternate, molasses. The cookbook explains that date syrup is an intense, natural popular sweetener in the Middle East, and is great for salad dressings, to sweeten stews, or to drizzle over morning porridge. While I am curious to seek that out, the recipe says that the date syrup can be also be swapped for molasses. I decided to go with the latter, one, out of convenience, but also two, because I love molasses yet feel it’s a rather underutilized ingredient in my kitchen. It, too, felt like a surprise ingredient for the dish, and I thought it worked quite well.

Winter Still Life

Creamy and intense, this essentially turns tahini into something that I would eat by the spoonful. However, it’s rich, and is even better when smeared across a crusty bread. Next time, I might add cayenne for some heat, and possibly even a bit of lime or balsamic to cut it a little bit further. Overall though, this was a hit, and would certainly act as a conversation starter if serving to guests. It has this whole sweet-meets-savory dynamic that begs for questions, and also double dipping. Definitely adding this one to the repeat list. Again, another one from Jerusalem that doesn’t disappoint.

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