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This recipe is an adaptation of Sara Forte’s inspired slivered veggie noodle salad from Bowl and Spoon, with adaptation being the operative word. A recipe is ultimately a guide, a pointer, an inspiration to help you find your way. So be inspired by the julienned vegetables, the soy and maple drenched tofu, and the miso, honey, ginger dressing but don’t feel like you have to stay on a strict path … wander off and discover other directions to take it by mixing up the veg, using a different kind of noodle, or playing with your protein. No two versions of this should be the same.

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14 ounces extra-firm tofu

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 teaspoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Freshly ground pepper

1 package soba noodles (the photo shows rice noodles but soba are better for this recipe)

1 red bell pepper

3 carrots

1 zucchini

1/2 red onion

1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

2 green onions, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

1 large avocado

1 tablespoon yellow miso paste

1 (3-inch) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon honey

Juice of 2 limes

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce

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Drain the tofu and press out the excess liquid between layers of a folded clean dishcloth. In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Chop the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and add them to the hot pan. Sauté gently until the edges begin to brown. Add the soy sauce, maple syrup, and pepper. Stir and cook for 6 to 8 minutes longer, until the edges are crisp. Set aside to cool.

Cook the noodles until al dente as per directions on the box, rinse with cold water, and drain. Seed and slice the bell pepper into thin strips. Use a julienne peeler  or mandolin to make long strips from the carrot, zucchini, and red onion. Put the noodles and prepared vegetables into a large mixing bowl.

For the dressing, whisk together the miso, ginger, honey, lime juice, sesame oil, and Sriracha. This much can be done up to 2 days in advance and kept covered in the fridge.

When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the veggies and noodles, add the chopped cilantro and toss to coat. Top the bowl with the green onions, sesame seeds, and tofu. Serve each portion with a quarter of an avocado.

thai red curry tofu stew

February 5, 2016

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I’m on a bit of a lemongrass kick this week. This super food which is known to be antibacterial, anti-fungal and antimicrobial has proven effective in treating type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, stomach disorders, respiratory disorders, insomnia, fevers, rheumatism, infections … shall I go on? It also happens to be tasty and enhances enormously this Thai Red Curry Tofu Stew – deep, soupy, and packed full of flavour.

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1 block extra-firm tofu, rinsed and cubed

2 tbsps soy sauce

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tablespoon ginger, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks lemon grass, minced

2 tablespoons red curry paste

400 ml can of coconut milk

1 red pepper, cut into slices

1 onion, cut into slices

2 kaffir lime leaves

1 tsp lime juice

1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp brown sugar

Thai basil for garnish

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cubed tofu with soy sauce. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes until tofu is browned, tossing 1/2 through. When it’s done, set aside.

Heat coconut oil in a dutch oven or wok over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and lemongrass, and sauté for 6-8 minutes.

Add red curry paste, mix well, and sauté for an additional 3-4 minutes.

Add coconut milk, and whisk to combine with other ingredients.

Add tofu, red pepper, and onion, and mix well. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. While it simmers, add kaffir lime leaves, soy sauce, and brown sugar and continue to simmer until veggies are soft.

Serve garnished with basil or cilantro over rice.

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We’ve featured brussels sprouts on v:gourmet before. Grilled brussels sprouts with a thyme lemon dipping sauce. Roasted brussels sprouts with shallots and shitake. And we highlight George’s amazing curried brussels sprouts which never fail to please. But these brussels sprouts are my go-to and perhaps my favourite. A little sweet and smokey dijon, finely sliced shallots, roasted pecans and dried cranberries, with a hit of maple syrup and garlic. They roast up amazingly well and defy any brussels sprouts denier.

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1 pound brussels sprouts

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsps sweet and smokey dijon (Kozlik’s is fabulous if you can find it)

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 large shallot, peeled and sliced thinly

1/2 cup pecans, chopped coarsely

1/2 cup dried cranberries

sea salt and pepper

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Trim end off brussels sprouts and cut in half. Place in large mixing bowl.

Place olive oil, mustard, garlic and maple syrup in a small bowl. Mix well and then toss with brussels sprouts so they are all coated evenly.

Add sliced shallots, pecans, and cranberries. Mix well.

Place in a baking dish or on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Put in oven on middle rack and roast for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until they are tender and a little browned. Serve as a fabulous side to rice, nice and spicy marinated tofu, and just about anything else.

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Delicata squash, also known as peanut squash, bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash, is a wonderful simple side dish because it is easy to clean, easy to cut, easy to prep, and you can eat the skin. Sprinkled with smoked paprika, and a little za’atar – a middle eastern herb mixture of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sometimes sumac – and these roasted morsels liven up the plate, the palate, and are pleasing to the eye. Which is important because we eat with our eyes as well as our mouths. So feast on these and watch them become a staple in your kitchen.

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1 delicata squash

olive oil

za’atar

smoked paprika

sea salt and pepper

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Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Wash the delicata squash well. Cut it in half and clean out the seeds from inside. Slide into 1/2 inch slices and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle with za’atar and smoked paprika, sea salt and pepper. Turn over and do the same on the other side.

Bake in the oven for about 20 – 25 minutes, flipping them half way through until tender. Serve hot.

 

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I’ve quoted Tamar Adler before, author of the highly-recommended An Everlasting Meal. She says of soups that “The best soups are a day old. Soup mustn’t be fresh, but mature. They needn’t taste of their ingredients, but only give their ingredients somewhere to be left off and picked up again. I learned to make soup from my mother, whose potages contained whatever was around, much of it already cooked: roasted root vegetables, boiled potatoes or turnips, an odd handful of herbs.” Adler’s advice seems particularly apropos to this farmhouse vegetable barley soup filled with carrots, celery, potatoes, turnips. They cozy up to hearty barley, and are “picked up” and enhanced by porcini powder giving them a depth and earthiness. If this doesn’t warm you up on a cold January day I don’t know what will.

1/8 ounce dried porcini mushrooms

8 sprigs fresh parsley plus 3 tablespoons chopped

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons olive oil

1  1/2  pounds leeks, white and light green parts sliced 1/2 inch thick and washed thoroughly

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch pieces

1/3 cup dry white wine

2 teaspoons soy sauce

Salt and pepper

10 cups veggie stock

1/2 cup pearl barley, rinsed

1 garlic clove, minced

1  1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 turnip, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 cup frozen peas

1 teaspoon lemon juice

sea salt and pepper

Grind porcini with a spice grinder until they resemble fine meal, 10 to 30 seconds. Measure out 2 teaspoons porcini powder. Reserve remainder for other use. Using kitchen twine, tie together parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf.

Heat olive oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, celery, wine, soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

Add water, broth, barley, porcini powder, herb bundle, and garlic. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.

Add potatoes and turnip. Return to simmer and cook until barley, potatoes and turnip are tender, 18 to 20 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and remove herb bundle. Stir in peas, lemon juice, and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

falafel

January 3, 2016

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I have been looking for a good falafel recipe for quite some time now but none have inspired me until I tripped upon Suzy’s on her blog The Mediterranean Dish. What set her recipe apart was its pure list of ingredients, no eggs and flour, and the plethora of herbs and spices.  I understand the origin of the falafel is uncertain and “controversial” (how intriguing!) but may go back to Pharaonic Egypt. A good falafel – and this is one – is so elemental, tasty, and nutritious, it’s no wonder they’ve stood the test of time no matter where they are from and when. Try them out in a warmed up pita, with a little tomato, cucumber, lettuce, red onion, and lemon dill tahini sauce and you’ve got one pharaonic lunch.

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2 cups dried chickpeas

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup fresh parsley leaves, stems removed

¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems removed

½ cup fresh dill, stems removed

7-8 garlic cloves, peeled

Salt to taste

1 tbsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tsp cayenne pepper, optional

1 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Coconut oil for frying*

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Place the dried chickpeas and baking soda in a large bowl filled with water. Let the chickpeas soak for 18 hours. When ready, drain the chickpeas completely and pat them dry.

Place the fresh leaves of parsley, cilantro and dill in a large food processor. Pulse to finely chop the herbs. Now add the chickpeas, garlic and spices. Run the food processor 40 seconds at a time until all is well combined forming a smooth falafel mixture.

Transfer the falafel mixture into a container and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until ready to fry (up to one whole night).**

Just before frying, add the baking powder and sesame seeds to the falafel mixture and stir with a spoon. Scoop tablespoonfuls of the falafel mixture and form into patties (1/4 inch in thickness each). It helps to have wet hands as you form the patties.

Fill a medium saucepan 3 inches up with oil. Heat the oil on medium-high until it bubbles softly. Carefully drop the falafel patties in the oil, let them fry for about 3-4 minutes or so until medium brown. Avoid crowding the falafel in the saucepan, fry them in batches if necessary.

Place the fried falafel patties in a colander or plate lined with paper towels to drain. Serve falafel hot next to other small plates; or assemble the falafel patties in pita bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumbers, and lemon dill tahini sauce.

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* Note that you can use different oils for frying but coconut oil has the highest smoke point and is the most stable for heating which is important. You can also skip deep frying altogether and bake these babies if you prefer at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes.

** At this stage you can also freeze the falafels for future use. To freeze, prepare the falafel mixture and divide into patties. Place the patties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze. When they harden, you can transfer the falafel patties into a freezer bag. They will keep well in the freezer for a month or so.

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lemon dill tahini sauce

January 3, 2016

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This is a must-have for every refrigerator out there. Make a big batch and keep it handy because it’s fabulous on salads, winter kale, steamed veggies, falafels, sandwiches, or even a dipping sauce for whatever tickles your fancy. Make it a bit thicker and just thin out what you need with a little water for salads when you want to use it as a dressing.

3/4 cup tahini paste

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1 clove garlic

1/4 cup dill

sea salt and pepper

In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients. Let it rip until everything is blended well. Adjust taste with salt and pepper if needed. Add a bit more water if it’s too thick. Store in a jar in the fridge and use it liberally whenever the mood strikes.