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Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Two days till Cinco de Mayo – that leaves plenty of time to plan for tacos, right? Ample time to switch up prevailing plans of a standard Mexican meal, too.

Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Outside of the corn tortilla, this recipe isn’t the typical celebration piece. But the roasted carrot + spiced lentil combo that lays within it makes the recipe certainly worth veering away from traditional.

If you’re in the market for something new, give it a go. These tacos will still pair perfectly with a classic margarita and side bowl of guac., so don’t think you need to entirely ship your Cinco de Mayo plans outside of the box. I mean, avocados are pretty much a must…

Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Here, cumin seeds get flashed in a hot skillet and then ground into a notably aromatic, fresh powder. This extra step really makes the lentils shine without requiring much further effort to make them stand out. I.e., don’t skip this step if you can help it.

The toasty flavor of the cumin pairs perfectly with the sweet and earthy carrots that are placed beside the lentils. Creamy goat cheese seals the deal before the taco gets wrapped. If you want, you can amp up the buttery factor by pureeing some of the roasted carrots prior to adding them to your taco. Layer this onto the tortillas as a sauce, and proceed as the recipe instructs. Yum-o. That’s a celebration I’m ready to have on my plate this Tuesday. You with me?!

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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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Garlic and Dill Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

Dill

I cracked my first iPhone screen yesterday. It made me sad. That is a first world problem, I know, and nothing that a little creamy cauliflower cannot fix.

When life gets a little jagged in parts, keep your head up. Toss in some cream. You’ll be golden. Then praise the sun you have a house. And food. And life.

Garlic and Dill Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

One of my coworkers the other day told me about a practice he once did where you count how long it takes you to have six negative thoughts. He said it was surprising how early on the morning he would hit that limit.

It’s a practice I want to start doing – because while I feel like I’m a pretty positive person, I know there are a lot of areas surrounding this in which I could use work. Like appreciating the positive side of things I don’t always love. 2015. Cheers.

Now onto the recipe already…

Cauliflower

Mashed potatoes are a childhood favorite of mine. I mean, who doesn’t love mashed potatoes and gravy? This version uses cauliflower to lighten up the dish, and adds roasted garlic and fresh dill, so that no gravy is even needed. It’s packed with flavor, and every bit as creamy, if not more, than your standard mashed potato recipe.

If you’re ringing in the New Year on a light note, but still want a touch of creamy comfort, know that you can do both. Think positive, and know that this recipe is proof.

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Harvest Stuffed Squash with Cilantro Tahini Sauce

Swiss Chard

I’m about to give a bit of a confession here – I have yet to buy one single Christmas gift.

That holiday, which I celebrate, is just a handful of days away. Yikes.

In my defense, I have constructively made five cutting boards in the past month. (Hello new, awesome, expensive-but-oh-so-worth-it hobby.) While I may shed a tear as I part with each of them, I’m fairly certain they’ll make for good gifts. For the whole family.

I mean, my five-year-old niece will love a nice, smooth piece of wood, right? Yeah, maybe not.

Harvest Stuffed Squash

While I’ve been neglecting a Christmas shopping trip, I have not been neglecting the season’s signature colors. Rather, I’ve been embracing those reds and greens quite frequently in my kitchen lately, this dish included.

If you squint, or dim the lights, swiss chard will shed a nice holiday crimson onto your counters. Keep that in mind if you were about to call me out. I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Hey, swiss chard is pink. You should probably go get your eyes checked.”

Kabocha Squash

Bringing green to your plate is one of the best gifts you could give to yourself this winter. Add some nutty winter squash and creamy tahini, and your tastebuds will be more than pleased, too.

With food-filled gatherings, often left and right, now more than ever do I appreciate a meal like this. It’s hearty so it’ll leave you satisfied, but not feeling weighed down like a typical heavy holiday dish.

Swiss Chard

If you do want to richen it up a bit, double the tahini sauce. You can really rarely go wrong with an extra spoonful of tahini on top of cooked winter squash.

Also, feel free to ditch the whole “stuffed” idea, and simply serve this as a pilaf. You can use any squash variety that you like for this dish. So, if you’re using something like butternut, likely it’s not going to have a round enough bowl to really stuff, and that’s okay. Mash the extra and serve it underneath.

I will say though, there is something that feels magical about turning a squash into a bowl. I used a kabocha, which I’d highly recommend if it’s available to you.

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Brussels Sprout Sliders

Brussels Sprout Sliders

If Thanksgiving meal scheming is still taking place in your head, I’m recommending these sliders fill a spot on your menu.

If not, save them for your next holiday gathering. Just don’t forget them.

Brussels Sprout Sliders

Know once you do bring this dish into creation, forget isn’t even possible. NY Times inspired, this recipe makes brussels sprouts one memorable app. If you think like I do, the name alone could’ve told you that.

Brussels Sprout Sliders

As soon as I saw the word “sliders” paired with “brussels sprouts”, this went on the must-make list. Genius!

The New York Times Well blog never fails to round up a solid number of inspiring recipes for its annual “Vegetarian Thanksgiving”. It’s a feature I look forward to every year, and one from which I almost always put to use.

This year, it has me thinking, what other endless combinations of veggie-driven sliders can I create? Thanks for the excellent idea, New York Times. This blog post goes out to you, as does one of the “thank you’s” I’ll be voicing in my head on Thanksgiving.

Brussels Sprout Sliders

These surpassed my expectations, and held together rather easily with the help of a few toothpicks. I did modify the recipe to double the marinade intended for both the sprouts and the tempeh.

Maybe I gave the sprouts too heavy of a dip, but I quickly ran out of the liquid magic that infuses them with flavor in the oven. Perhaps you could give them a lighter coating. Although, I suggest you just double the marinade as suggested below, and allow them to enjoy a nice soak. I found this method to create a rather delicious solution.

Brussels Sprout Sliders Slightly salty, slightly smoky, slightly tangy from that grainy, textured mustard, this is a recipe that layers on all of the best flavors destined to make brussels sprouts a star.

If you didn’t think brussels sprouts could be addicting, then give this a try. Report back because I want to hear the results. Although, I’m pretty sure I already know the answer.   Continue Reading…