I’m convinced I live in the best neighborhood in Philadelphia.
My apartment is just blocks away from the Mecca for persimmons by the bucket, 2-for-$1 avocados, and unlimited other cheap produce deals. AKA, the Italian Market. It also happens to be a prime destination for people-watching, which my camera and I enjoy quite often.
Within this special place is Fante’s, a kitchen storefront with every type of gadget, pot, pan, canning material, etc. that you could ever need. You want an “asparagus steamer”? They’ve got it — along with special asparagus tongs, several kinds of asparagus peelers, and a platter to serve it all on. I try not to frequent Fante’s because I also try not to let my bank account go underwater. There’s a Whole Foods up the street that I save for that job.
Yes, just a few blocks in the other direction from my apartment lay two grocery stores. Whole Foods is one of them, and here I’m caught far too often fulfilling all my bulk food needs and trying to keep myself away from the hot bar. Sometimes I’ll nerd out with the Whole Foods employees about black rice and kombucha.
In my ‘hood, Bella Vista, (in Italian, meaning “beautiful sight”), there are two wonderful yoga studios within walking distance, several coffee shops — one of which I’m convinced is in the running for the best iced coffee in the city — and an awesome spot to play late night pool.
On top of it all, it’s within biking distance of nearly every other main neighborhood I frequent in the city.
For me, it’s the place to be in the city, and for some reason I feel the need to write about this as the rain keeps me tucked inside my small apartment on its streets.
If I just had all of my friends here, a garden, a mountain, and a lake out my back door, I’d be set for life. Ha. While Bella Vista is awesome, I think “beautiful sight” by my standards might be a bit of an overstretch.
What is undoubtedly a beautiful site, however, is this mighty head of cauliflower I snagged yesterday at the market. And also this piece of fabric I picked up in fabric row, just another couple blocks away. A $2 piece of fabric and a $1.50 cauliflower + a priceless meal = beauty.
I whipped up a huge batch of this so I could freeze some of it for later meals. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if that’s not a project you want to do, or you don’t plan to feed a crowd.
The ragout itself is light, yet hearty, which I love. All of the spices make it feel rich, while its staples — cauliflower, kale, and lentils — keep it light. Top it with Parm or nutritional yeast, and it becomes a meal you could eat all week. What you place underneath is up to you, so you choose the grain/pasta that strikes your mood.
- -2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- -3 lg. garlic cloves, diced
- -1 lg. onion, diced
- -1 1/2 Tbsp. oregano
- -1 Tbsp. coriander
- -2 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- -1 tsp. cumin
- -1/2 tsp. cayenne
- -1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- -Soy sauce and salt, to taste
- -1 cup brown lentils
- -1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes + 1/2 can water
- -1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
- -1 bunch of kale, chopped
- -Parmesan or nutritional yeast
- -Optional toppings: Walnuts, parsley
- In a large pan, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, and saute until edges are brown and onions are translucent. Stir in spices and sugar, and cook for another minute until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes, water and lentils. Season pan with soy sauce. Bring to a low simmer.
- Let simmer 20-22 minutes, until lentils are near tender. Add cauliflower, and cook another 8-10 minutes, until cauliflower is on the extra soft side. Stir in kale, adjust salt to taste, and cook for 3 minutes or so. Serve atop pasta or grains, drizzled with olive oil. Top with Parmesan or nutritional yeast. Add walnuts and/or parsley, if you have them on hand.