Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Friday Night Pizza Night

I have this certain memory from my childhood, that Friday nights we often went to the Pizza "Parlor". Gosh. Nothing is called a parlor anymore. Maybe I'll open a restaurant someday and call it a some sort of Parlor. I find that word charming. Anyways, I seem to equate Friday nights with pizza or at least some type of comforting food. Almost a reward for making it through the week, and a good note to start the weekend off with. 
Vegan pizza is soooo good. It is one of my favorite treats. I know... I know... what is pizza without the cheese some of you may be saying.... Well I'll tell you. It is a delicious fresh tomato sauce made with the most ripe and delicious tomatoes of the season. It is fresh basil, and in this case sauteed onions and swiss chard, and barbecue soy chicken. I topped it off with a non-dairy white cheddar cheese. An absolute treat.  I don't think I have made the same vegan pizza twice. There are soooo many options with all of the incredible vegetables to choose from. I recommend either roasting or sauteing your veggies first, because vegetables have a high water content, which they release as they cook. With most veggies, if you put them on the pizza raw they will release their liquid as they cook on the pizza, and nobody likes a watery pizza pie!! Just a little tip for ya. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

Garlic & Ginger Asian Noodle Soup with Dark Greens and Tofu

Ginger is a complex and delicious flavor. It is almost fascinating to me that something so pungent, spicy, sweet, and savory can come all in one package, and growing from the earth at that! Ginger is known to help when you have a cold, to soothe your stomach when you are nauseated, and to be a beautifully fragrant tea. But the uses for ginger can go on and on. I love an Asian style broth with a strong scent of ginger, and ginger is always the perfect match to garlic, no doubt. If you have never tried raw ginger, I highly encourage you to do so, (mind you, only a small amount at first) to really appreciate the true flavor of ginger. Cooking it will certainly mellow it out some, and today I had a craving for a nice savory broth loaded with ginger, garlic and lots of fresh veggies. I added some baked tofu I had in the fridge, and some dark leafy greens (I can't hardly go a meal without these) and low and behold, I had a dinner to indulge all of my senses to end a good day of work...

 Garlic & Ginger Asian Noodle Soup with Dark Greens and Tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • ½ large yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon chinese five spice powder
  • 1 ½ cups filtered water
  • 2 ounces quinoa pasta or brown rice pasta
  • ½ cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, whole
  • ½ cup carrots, julienne
  • 1 cup swiss chard or spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup firm sprouted tofu, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon red miso paste
  • chopped scallions for garnish

In a large saucepan, add garlic, ginger, onions, tamari, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, five spice powder, water, and dry noodles. Add water and bring to a light boil. Add snow peas and carrots, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let simmer for 10 minutes and add swiss chard or spinach and tofu. Stir, and let simmer another 2 minutes until greens cook down and noodles become tender. Turn off heat and add miso paste. Stir gently until all miso is dissolved into the broth. 
Garnish with scallions and serve.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Oat Berry Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic

I love whole grains, like really chewy rustic whole grains. In my pantry at any given time, I have barley, millet, quinoa, wheat berries, farro, brown rice, bhutanese red rice... I just like to have a small amount of whatever I might want to use available at any given time. Recently, I was at Rainbow market (my personal equivalent of Disneyland) and saw Oat Berries, and I couldn't believe I hadn't ever tried these before! Oat Berries are the whole form of oats before they are rolled flat, cut up, or any of the other forms of processing they go through to make the oats that we all know and love. Now that I have tried them, to be totally honest, flavor-wise I don't see a huge difference in taste and texture between oat berries, and wheat berries, but either way the were delicious, and super nutritious too! With any whole grain that I listed above, I recommend soaking the grains for at least 8 hours up to 24 hours before cooking. This is for two reasons- 1.) It starts the germination process, and improves the nutrition (you won't see any sprouting yet) and 2.) It reduces the cooking time. Most hearty grains such as barley, oat berries and wheat berries can take up to an hour to cook! If you soak ahead, you are probably looking at more like 40 -45 minutes cooking time. 
So, after a long day at work I felt like a nice light healthy salad, so I put my pre-soaked oat berries on the stove to simmer, and I roasted up some sweet cherry tomatoes (both red and yellow, and oh so so sweet) along with some garlic and onion. The three roasted up together for a classic combination. When the oat berries were done, I tossed them with some fresh arugula, parsley, and then my trio of roasted delight. I topped it all of with some white balsalmic vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt, pepitas, and fresh cracked pepper. You could make this oat berry salad in similar variation with any number of veggies you might have on hand, tossed with a nice dressing, and some chopped nuts or tofu. A perfect dinner.