Meatless Monday: Curry Chickpea Patties

Hey y’all! Hope you had a great weekend!

I have a serious case of the Mondays today…like we’re talkin hit the snooze button 4 times, get out of bed, take a shower, then get back into bed until the last possible second kind of case of the Mondays.

Before I send you guys off to my delicious recipe, I’ll share a couple of quick photos from the weekend – it was a great one!

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I kicked Saturday off with a long FAST run that was cut short – I was running late [no pun intended, har har!] for ultimate frisbee practice and really had to pee, so instead of running home I just stopped at Yvette’s place and we shot over to practice frisbee with our team!

Later that evening, Kristin and I represented Team America at the Beer Olympics! I didn’t do great at most any of the events, but it was still a fun time — I think our Chuck Norris trucker hats at least gave us spirit points!

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If Saturday was about sports, Sunday was about FOOD! Scott hosted brunch and Yvette found a recipe for French toast roll ups (stuffed with strawberries and Nutella) that was a Pinterest win!

Then I grabbed a Lyft to my parents’ neighborhood to see Alex, who was in town from NYC. We all BBQ’ed and he made me a bacon-wrapped hot dog. Score! Also, Mike & I had a photoshoot because we realized that our hair is currently the same length. #twinsies!

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ANYWAY, after a weekend of lots of activity, but also lots of indulgence, I always crave healthy clean eats to get my system re-energized. That’s why I’m bringing you a Meatless Monday post today!

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These curry chickpea patties are SO flavorful, and they’re healthy to boot! Lots of protein and fiber in these guys. Plus the leftovers are perfect for reheating and bringing for lunch — see above 😉

However, to get the recipe, you’ll have to shoot over to Becky’s blog, where I’m guest posting today!

Do you bring your lunch to work? What’s your favorite tip for avoiding eating out?

 

Meatless Monday: Zucchini-Corn Fritters

Labor Day is the worst.

For me, it has always marked the end of summer. No more pool days, no more white pants, goodbye 9pm sunsets, goodbye barbeques!

I have had an epic weekend, however, which I will share pictures of tomorrow. Wine, grape stomping, college friends, Sunday Funday, Nutella…If I have to say bye to summer, I might as well send it off right…right?

These past few years, I’ve also begun to love summer produce. Tomatoes have always been one of my most hated foods…but between the months of June and September, I find myself popping fresh cherry tomatoes like candy. Every meal is accompanied by corn on the cob, and I can’t remember the last stir fry I made that didn’t involve zucchini.

Luckily for us in California we get summer produce year round! For a price 😉

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This summer, I’ve been trying to perfect the zucchini fritter. It’s such an easy Monday night meal – there’s minimal prep needed; just scoop together a bunch of veggies and fry ’em up! My ratio was always off, though…too wet, too crumbly, etc. Last week, I finally hit my sweet spot and they turned out delicious! But really, who doesn’t like fried food?

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So make these tonight, make them next week or next month, and enjoy the lingering produce of summer!

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Unfortunately I learned that taking pictures of food isn’t super easy to do with a cast on your thumb…haha.

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#epiclyblurryfoodphotos

Zucchini-Corn Fritters
loosely based on Zucchini Fritters by smitten kitchen

makes 4 fritters

1 medium zucchini
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil (fresh) or 1 tsp basil (dry)
1/2 cup corn, removed from cob
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)
oil, for frying

Shred zucchini with a box grater or, if you’re smart and lazy, a grater attachment on your food processor. Place in a strainer and sprinkle salt over the shredded zucchini. Let stand for 10-15 minutes, then using a clean towel or thick paper towels, wring out all the excess water. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.

To the lump of zucchini, add salt, pepper, basil, corn, and egg and mix. Add flour and baking powder and combine until well incorporated.

Heat about a tablespoon (or more if desired) of oil over medium-medium high heat. One at a time, scoop blobs of zucchini batter into the pan. Let cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until brown, then carefully flip to the other side. Once it’s on the other side, you can flatten it out a bit so it has a fritter shape. Let cook on the other side for another 3 minutes and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Serve immediately!

Meatless Monday: Vegan “Caprese” Pizza

If you follow me on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook you probably saw this picture on Friday:

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I went to the store after work intending to buy white wine and avocados (standard Katie-Essentials) and somehow 2 bottles of kombucha and a tray of tofu found their way into my basket (um, not so standard Katie-Essentials). Most normal people, when strolling through the grocery store, will pick up “impulse purchases” like chocolate….cookies…chips…

Me? I’ve apparently gotten to a level of healthy blogger status that my impulse purchases are tofu and kombucha. Really…who am I?!

As far as the kombucha goes, I’m trying to incorporate more non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages into my diet. I realized when filling out that Healthy Living Survey on Friday that the only drinks I consume on a regular basis are water, tea, wine & beer. Whenever I sit down to read blogs or watch my TV shows in the evening, I often pour myself a glass of wine out of boredom more than anything else. Apparently, I can’t just sit and watch tv – I need to be sipping on something! I figure kombucha is a healthy alternative, since I don’t drink soda or juice.

The tofu though…I can’t really explain. I guess I was just buying it as an experiment and a challenge, since I’ve never cooked with it before. I also might have been inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza. 🙂

I am actually often not a fan of tofu. I used to actually pick out the slimy pieces of tofu in my miso soup as a kid, the slippery texture really freaked me out. However, I’ve challenged myself to figure out a way to cook it in a way that I like, and I’ve discovered it’s actually really easy!

My first trial involved the stove and I tried sauteing it in a stir fry – not so great.

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My second try was a success, and made its home on this pizza. I decided to let tofu stand in for the more traditional mozzarella cheese and call this baby a caprese pizza! It does have all the other traditional ingredients – giant tomatoes from my boss’s garden, and a kick of basil in the [cheeseless] pesto. I drizzled a little balsamic on top and voila! Vegan pizza.

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Baking the tofu in the oven gives it a nice crispy exterior and an all-around firm texture. Plus, it’s a perfect meal for one that will be ready in less than 30 minutes. Winner winner chicken tofu dinner?

Vegan “Caprese” Pizza
serves 1
inspired by Becky’s BBQ Tofu Pizza

1 whole wheat tortilla or pita
2-4 tablespoons vegan pesto (I whipped one up that did not include cheese)
2-3 slices tomato (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick)
5 oz extra firm tofu, cubed (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Begin by preparing your tofu – preheat oven to 375F and grease a baking sheet. Place tofu on baking sheet (if you’d like to roast the tomatoes, you can add them too) and bake for 20 minutes, flipping all the pieces once halfway through.

Meanwhile, prepare your pesto (if making yourself) and the balsamic drizzle. Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and boil for about 5-10 minutes, until it becomes syrupy and reduces in size by almost half. Remove from heat and set aside until needed.

Place tortilla in oven for last few minutes of baking the tofu. Remove the tortilla and tofu (slash tomato) and start assembling: spread pesto on the tortilla, and top with tomatoes and tofu. Drizzle with balsamic glaze. Cut into slices and eat like a pizza, or just dig in!

Have you ever cooked with tofu?

Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash

Told you guys I had a Meatless Monday post waiting for ya!

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And it involves mini peppers and mini potatoes…because mini is always cuter, right?

Despite the fact that I just called this dish cute, it’s actually a pretty hearty meal. Potatoes are pretty filling, but since they’re so starchy and carby, they’re not the kind of filling that will sustain you for many hours. That’s where the other components come in to save the day!

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I got really into beets this spring since my dad was growing them and they always looked so pretty at the Farmer’s Market. They stain everything, but I love their earthy taste and they are so pretty! Sweet mini bell peppers and onions add crunch, and pinto beans give this hash some bulk.

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Finish it all off with some fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon and you have yourself a perfectly light and refreshing, yet filling, summer breakfast! Or if you’re like me, you don’t really wake up until 10 or 11 on the weekend and there becomes a thin line between breakfast and lunch 🙂

I am proud to report that the basil plant I bought at the grocery store about a month ago is still alive and kickin’! However, we are currently on Day 3 of an 8 day streak of triple digit heat. 104, 107, and 106 degrees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…and it’s only getting hotter. So who knows if the plant will last much longer.

This quick 1-skillet dish would be great for a hot day like today (108 degrees!), but I’ve chosen instead to do the 3 Day Peel’d Juice Cleanse. I learned about it from my friend Sarah who did their traditional 5-day cleanse last month (Hi Sarah!). Consuming only juice for 3 days isn’t exactly my cup o’ tea…However, in addition to the allotted 2 juices and 1 smoothie per day, Peel’d allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want: “This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.” Olives, avocados, and nuts are also listed as ideal “snacks”…win!

I will definitely be writing a recap later in the week, but until then, I’ll just leave this here…and dream about potatoes:

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Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash
serves 1

2 mini potatoes
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup)
2 mini red or orange bell peppers
1/2 medium-sized beet, cooked (I roast mine in a foil packet in the oven at 400F for about 45 minutes)
1/4-1/2 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper
oil, as needed for cooking

Cut everything into similarly-sized pieces. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add onions, stirring to coat. Let them sweat for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Again, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in bell peppers and beets and cook for another 5 minutes. Add desired amount of pinto beans and lemon juice, and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in basil leaves, garnish with lemon wedge (add more lemon if you’d like) and enjoy!

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies

Seems like every season, I make some kind of rice pilaf (or quinoa, couscous, etc) with the season’s veggies. It started in the SUMMER which included zucchini, bell pepper and tomatoes.. then continued into an AUTUMN version which featured an amazing mix of walnuts, dried cranberries, caramelized onions, and rosemary. Ohhh man both were so good.

I think, however, I may have topped it.

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I am lemon-obsessed, as you all know. Braided Lemon Bread, Skinny Lemon Poppyseed Muffins…it is definitely lemon season around here. Plussssss, spring produce is finally here! Color me excited. I went to my first seasonal Farmers Market last week and zeroed in on two things: peas and asparagus. It’s green central up in my fridge, folks.

So what better vehicle is there to transport those fresh, green veggies into my mouth than my favorite brown rice?

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Of course if I were really to be following tradition here, I’d be using Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend. I really wanted to make this into a quinoa salad, but thought I didn’t have any… Of course right after I finished cooking this dish, I found a box of quinoa that I bought on Saturday and completely forgot about in a mostly-empty grocery bag in my living room. D’oh. Regardless, I really do like TJ’s Brown Jasmine Rice. I buy a 3 pound bag every six months or so and make it all the time.

The other players:

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Farmer’s Market asparagus is really funny lookin’. Duly noted.

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Green!

This dish gets its lemony kick from a vinaigrette I added at the end. A little bit of honey balances out the zingy lemon, and it’s so easy to make; all you need to do is add ingredients to a jar and give it a shake!

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This is my one snobbish foodie thing – I don’t use any store-bought dressings or marinades. If you have oil, vinegar, and mustard/honey in your kitchen, you will always have the makings of a delicious and cheap homemade dressing.

Mix mix mix.

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DSC_0498LEMON!

I split this batch into two tupperwares for lunch. It is about 300 calories, lots of fiber, and nearly 10 grams of protein thanks to the peas (that apparently have lots of it!).

DSC_0503I didn’t get a chance to food prep this weekend (being that I was too busy drinking tequila and playing kickball and whatnot), but luckily (unluckily?) I was feeling ill Monday and Tuesday and didn’t have an appetite for much beyond avocado toast or almond butter + toast. I made this on Tuesday night hoping I’d regain my appetite in time to eat it for lunch on Wednesday and Thursday……wish granted!

Except that my stomachache promptly got worse after eating it, so I went to the doctor and the reason my stomach was acting up was because of acid indigestion-related issues. So yesterday morning I got a strict “no caffeine-alcohol-dairy-spicy-or-acidic-foods” order from the doc. Which means one of these is still sitting in my fridge at work, waiting to be eaten.

Any takers?

Lemony Brown Rice with Spring Veggies
serves 2, or 3-4 as a side dish

1/2 cup brown rice, uncooked
1 cup chicken broth, veggie broth, or water (for cooking rice)
1/2 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
~10 asparagus spears (this was about 1/2 my bunch)
1/2 medium zucchini, about 1 cup when sliced
1 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp oil, or as needed for sauteing

FOR DRESSING
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp oil (I used sunflower oil)
pinch of dried basil
pinch of dried thyme

Prepare brown rice according to package instructions using your choice of broth or water.

While rice is cooking, prepare veggies. Dice the onions and mince the garlic. Snap or cut off the woody ends of the asparagus then cut each spear into 3-4 bite sized pieces, shuck the peas (if using fresh ones still in the pod), and slice the zucchini into bite-sized slices.

Heat oil in saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Next, add asparagus, stirring to coat. Let asparagus cook for about 4 minutes. Once the asparagus starts to get tender, add zucchini slices and garlic, stirring again to combine. Cook for another couple of minutes. Add cooked rice and peas all at once, mixing everything thoroughly.

While waiting for the veggies to cook, combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

After peas and rice are added, let cook until everything is heated through and then add dressing, stirring well. Turn heat down to low and let everything simmer until ready to serve, being sure to not let the veggies overcook.

Would be great served with fresh crusty bread, or with chicken!

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What is your favorite season for produce?

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Meatless Monday: Chickpea & Red Pepper Veggie Burgers

Last summer, I was obsessed with 1) grilling vegetables and 2) veggie burgers.

It’s not quite time to break out the grill just yet – as long as it’s still cool enough in my apartment to use the oven without getting heat stroke, I will take my veggies roasted, thank you! But last week after seeing veggie burgers on both Ashley and Jessica’s blogs, I started getting a craving for them.

Last summer I tried a few different chickpea patties: one that was curry flavored, and a pesto variety. None were quite burgers though…maybe small patties, or fritters. I’ve always had trouble getting them to stay together any time I tried to make a patty bigger than a mini slider. My best ever attempt is my spicy black bean burgers, which happens to be one of the most viewed recipes on my blog.

When I got a craving for veggie burgers last week, the only legumes I had on hand were chickpeas. Inspired by the red pepper present in both Ashley and Jessica’s recipes, I was determined to make it work!

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Last summer, I didn’t have a food processor when I made my chickpea patties. This may have been the missing link!

The result was extremely flavorful, and the texture I got from adding crunchy red pepper and chewy brown rice was awesome. For the most part, the burgers stayed together, but they had their crumbly moments. It’s definitely easier to eat them with a fork, but if you’re really opposed to that, a bun will work nicely too 😉

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Next time I make them, I may try an egg as a binder instead of my usual tahini to see if that works better. But this time? I have no complaints!

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No bun? No problem!

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Chickpea & Red Pepper Veggie Burgers
makes 4 burgers

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed {if you aren’t using a food processor, you may want to peel the beans as well if you have time!}
1/4 cup onion, diced {about 1/2 of a small onion}
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup quick oats {many people blend oats into flour for veggie burgers; quick oats aren’t full flakes but aren’t as powdery as oat flour}
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chile powder
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
salt & pepper
about 1 tbsp oil, for frying

IF USING FOOD PROCESSOR:

Chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic into smaller pieces and put in the food processor. Pulse until everything is finely diced. Add about half of the garbanzo beans and pulse to combine. Once broken down a bit, add the rest of the beans and continue to pulse. You do not want this to turn into hummus, just pulse until most of the beans have been broken into pieces. See photo above. Then follow remaining instructions below.

IF NO FOOD PROCESSOR:

Dice onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Add to a medium-sized bowl. Add half of beans to the bowl and mash with a potato masher or (my favorite) a soup ladle. Add remaining beans and use a fork to combine everything, lightly smushing the beans together as you do.

NEXT STEPS:

Add remaining ingredients (rice through salt & pepper) and mix gently with a fork. Mix until ingredients are evenly distributed throughout. Gather about 1/2-3/4 cup of the mixture and shape into a patty, being sure to mold the outside edges so that it’s all compact and will stay together.

Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add first two burgers. Cook for 4 minutes on each side. For best results, keep saute pan covered while they cook. Repeat with remaining burgers. Serve with or without a bun, crumbled onto a salad, or however you please!

Notes: Patties reheat best in the microwave, but in a pan or the oven may work as well. Try and let me know how it goes!

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti Squash

I am FINALLY sharing with you all my recipe for spaghetti squash! I’ve only showed you pictures of me making it one two three times, I guess it’s time I post my recipe.

The thing is, this isn’t a recipe as much as it is a method. Spaghetti squash is super versatile. Once you roast it and get it out of the shell, you can do anything with it that you’d do with regular ol’ spaghetti. Sometimes, I just toss it with olive oil and fresh herbs. Usually, though, I whip up a batch of tomato sauce (I use canned tomatoes during these colder months) to serve on top. We’ll usually toss some meatballs, garlic bread, and/or salad into the mix as well.

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This weekend, turkey meatballs and Alexia frozen garlic bread were invited to the party!

So, it doesn’t taste like spaghetti. Let’s get that out of the way right now. The texture is a little different and it definitely tastes more like a vegetable than a grain. But it is still an affordable and healthy alternative to its pasta counterpart, and it is super easy to make! Plus, it pretty much adopts the taste of whatever sauce you serve it with, so you’ll hardly notice you’re eating veggies 😉

Here’s how you do it:

Spaghetti Squash
serves 2-4, depending on size of squash and what you serve with it

1 medium/large spaghetti squash
olive oil
pasta sauce of choice

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut the stem off of the squash. If you’re having a really hard time with it, poke a few holes throughout the squash and microwave it for 30-45 seconds before trying again.
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  3. Place the squash on the end you just cut off so that it’s stable. Again being extremely careful, cut it in half length wise.
  4. Scoop the insides from the squash.
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  5. Spray the cut side with a little bit of olive oil, and place skin side down on a baking sheet into the oven. Let it roast for at least 30 minutes, 40 minutes maximum. You want strands to pull away with very little effort when the squash is scraped with a fork.
  6. Remove and let cool before going at it with two forks. No right or wrong way to do this- just go at it until you get every last bit of squash out of the shell.
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  7. That’s it! Serve hot with olive oil and fresh herbs, or topped with your favorite pasta sauce. I’m even looking forward to trying this in a mac n’ cheese type dish…the possibilities are endless!

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I will hopefully soon be sharing a recipe for the meatballs we enjoyed it with this weekend- I’ve made ’em 3 times now and I can’t get enough! But you all will have to wait until a non-Meatless Monday post for that 😉

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Bon appetit!

P.S. Are you coming?

I'm Attending Blend

I registered for Blend last night and am super excited! Can’t wait to meet lots of “blends”, get my hike on Utah-style, and uh if we’re being honest here, I’m stoked to get some swag! Click the link for more info!

Spicy Crispy Squash Rounds

Sometimes, I feel like a bit of a produce pusher.

Pretty much all summer long, I ate quinoa. I made it for lunch, I snacked on it, and I brought it to potlucks so that everyone else could see how good it was…

There was back in (what felt like summer but was actually) late fall, when I made T-Man try green tomatoes with me.

Surely I can’t forget to mention that in the past 2 months, I’ve made spaghetti squash for everyone.and.their.mom – I’ve made it for my parents, T-Man (3 times), friends, and most recently for our Vegan Middle East Feast. I do owe you all a post on spaghetti squash…definitely in line for one of my next installments of Meatless Monday.

But you know, I have no bias towards spaghetti squash.

Kabocha can come to the party too.

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Especially if said kabocha is breaded in crunchy, spicy coating and pan/oven fried to perfection.

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This was my first time cooking kabocha squash on its own. The night before, I cut the other half of the squash into cubes and roasted it, then stirred it into some meaty pasta sauce to add some veggies to an otherwise meat and pasta-heavy dinner. But this time, the kabocha was front row center, and it was glorious. Kabocha is very similar to acorn squash in shape, but I found it most similar to butternut squash in taste. The crunchy coating was such an awesome contrast with the squashy interior, which kind of had a creamy texture to it!

I got the idea for these from the lovely Jessica, but kind of winged it and created my own flavor profile. I used a very similar breading to my fried green tomato BLTs, and instead of the seasonal sage she suggested, I added cilantro and some Mexican spices….and hot sauce.

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Just trust me on this one, guys. I wasn’t even going to post the recipe…until T-Man said he loved them and that I should. If my meat & potatoes lovin’ boyfriend liked this, I’m sure you will too.

Spicy Crispy Squash Rounds
makes 4-6 rounds, depending on size of squash
loosely based on a recipe from HowSweetEats.com

1 small kabocha or acorn squash
1 egg, or 2 egg whites, beaten
1 tbsp hot sauce
1/2 cup cornmeal (I used polenta)
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (optional)
oil, for frying

Very carefully slice your squash into equal sized rounds (about 1/2-3/4 inch each). I find that piercing squash a few times with a knife or fork, then microwaving it makes it easier to cut into. Peel afterward if desired. Add salt and pepper to rounds and set aside while you set up your breading station.

Put beaten egg and hot sauce in one dish, and remaining dry ingredients (from cornmeal to cilantro) in other dish. Full disclosure: I didn’t have any eggs, so I used hot sauce on its own.. It worked fine. Press each squash round first into egg mixture, making sure all sides get covered, and then into the breadcrumb/cornmeal/flour/spices, again making sure to coat the entire round. Repeat until all the rounds are fully coated in breading.

You can cook these one of two ways:

  • If you want to oven fry them, your best results will be to line your baking sheet with aluminum foil and a wire rack to ensure all sides get equally crispy. Preheat oven to 425 F, spray coated squash rounds with cooking spray, and bake for 40 minutes, turning once at the halfway mark.
  • Because I don’t have a wire rack, I improvised: I decided to pan fry these, then because the squash was thick and I wanted to ensure it cooked through, I finished them in the oven. Preheat oven to 400 F. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Fry squash rounds on each side until lightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side. Set finished rounds on a paper towel. When they have all fried, finish cooking in the oven for about 10 minutes on each side, flipping once.

Serve as a side dish, or over a bed of greens for a light dinner.

Meatless Monday: Curried Cauliflower Soup

Something about cold weather makes it so hard to get out of bed in the morning.

I mean, the obvious conclusion is that no one wants to leave the comfort of a warm, cozy bed for the cold, harsh world. We don’t usually run the heater at night (because we’re cheap :-P)…we’ve had a warm rainy spell here, so last night it was 68 when I went to sleep and 58 when I woke up. My roomie wasn’t as lucky this weekend though:

Anyway, that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning is only intensified on Monday mornings, I think. There’s just something in the air that makes Monday mornings suck. Come to think of it, I”m not particularly fond of Sundays either. Especially when you drink a whole bottle of red wine on Saturday night at a Christmas party with a puppy in a tuxedo and spend most of Sunday hungover in bed watching Suits and catching up on Homeland…but I wouldn’t know anything about that. (OMG HOMELAND THE FINALE WAS EPIC. I love me a good “WTF” moment! And Saul. Saul is my fave.)

Because it’s been getting so cold (last week was mostly in the mid-high 40’s…pretty cold by California standards!), I’ve had soup on the mind. And not just any soup…a soup with some spice. Curry it is!

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I know, I know. This soup is pale yellow…Hardly appetizing. But hear me out!

I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes using cauliflower in place of potato in recipes, or cauliflower puree instead of cream to make a creamy soup….and it’s pretty intriguing. Jen from The Scrumptious Pumpkin has particularly been fueling my cauliflower intrigue with her Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Healthier Potatoes au Gratin. Stay posted – I will inevitably lure my boyfriend into eating cauliflower while telling him it’s potatoes sometime soon. But until then, we have straight up cauliflower soup!

This soup is warm (cause it’s soup and that’s how you’re supposed to serve it), hot (cause it’s got Indian spices in it), and perfectly hits the spot. One head of cauliflower only made enough for two servings, but if you only have one head of cauliflower and want this soup to produce more than two meals, you can add a cup or two of peeled and diced potatoes to the pot when you’re steaming the cauliflower. The result, because potatoes are super starchy, will produce a thicker soup!

However, the cauliflower alone is just as good. Especially if you’ve got some “naan” to dip in it. I just charred some tortillas and called it naan…I know they aren’t the same…just humor me here and tell me in looks like naan.

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Curried Cauliflower Soup
makes 2 large bowls of soup

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower (I’d guess this was about 3-4 cups of florets)
1/2 of a large white or yellow onion
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp curry powder or garam masala
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch of cayenne pepper (Optional. Garam masala already has a bit of a kick)
oil, for sauteing onions and spices

1-2 pieces of naan, flatbread or tortilla, for serving

Notes: I used lite coconut milk, but full fat would work fine. Curry powder and turmeric will give the soup a yellowish hue…if that weirds you out (haha), you can leave the turmeric out. But don’t cut the curry or garam masala!

Begin by breaking down the head of cauliflower. Chop off as much of the stems as you can, but don’t worry about breaking down the pieces too small. Steam or boil the florets for about 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. Alternatively, you could also toss the cauliflower in oil and roast them…this would probably taste better, but it would also take longer.

While florets are steaming. slice onion into long strips. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Make sure the pot is large, you will be adding in all the cauliflower later. Then, add onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring frequently for a minute or two. Next, add spices and stir to coat everything. Let toast for about 5 minutes. It may seem to be burning…if you’re worried it actually is, turn down the heat to low.

After 5 minutes, add in enough coconut milk to cover the bottom of the pot and use a spatula to deglaze the pot. Toss in the cooked cauliflower and the rest of the coconut milk. The liquid probably won’t cover the cauliflower at this point, so add water until it does (about a cup and a half, more for a thinner soup). Let all the soup ingredients simmer for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor or blender. Blitz it to your desired consistency, then keep warm on the stove or serve immediately with fresh naan!

Meatless Monday: Late Autumn Grain Blend

Told you guys I had something for you this Monday! Remember my summer skillet? I thought it was pretty freckin good as is: Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend with summer vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes and just a touch of white wine and basil. (OK, it WAS pretty good!)

However, I came up with a winter version (err…apparently it’s still technically autumn…) that I think might top it!

Unfortunately, I made this at night so the pictures aren’t great. But it made a delicious and festive lunch and, just like many grains, is great warm or cold.

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If you haven’t had it before, this Harvest Grain Blend from TJ’s is a mix of Israeli couscous, orzo, mini garbanzo beans, and red quinoa. It’s a favorite of mine to pick up at Trader Joe’s. It has a fun combination of textures, and it’s a bit more interesting than your plain ol’ rice or quinoa.

To give it a autumnal spin, I added caramelized onions, toasted walnuts (pecans would be great too), dried cranberries, and pomegranate arils. Then I mixed in a rosemary vinaigrette and O-M-G. This was wonderful the night I made it, but it actually tasted even better the next day!

Like I said with my Summer Grain Blend, you don’t have to use the TJ’s blend…brown rice, quinoa, or traditional couscous would be great carb options for making this flavor combo. And I hope you do!

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Autumn Grain Blend
serves 4 as a side dish, or 3 as a “main course”

3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend (dry), or rice, quinoa, etc
1/4-1/3 cup walnuts
1/2 small onion
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup pomegranate arils

for vinaigrette
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 sprig rosemary
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp oil (I used walnut oil to stay in theme!)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put walnuts on a baking sheet and place in oven, toasting the walnuts until they’re fragrant, about 6-8 minutes. When cooled, roughly chop the walnuts and set aside.

Meanwhile, start caramelizing your onions. Slice onion into long strips (mine were about 1.5 inches long). Heat oil in a pan on medium heat, and add onions. Stir to coat. Turn heat down to LOW and keep on cooking the onions on low heat, stirring frequently, until onions are translucent and well caramelized.

Once walnuts are done and onions have started, prepare your grain blend according to package instructions. While that’s cooking, prepare the vinaigrette: roughly chop rosemary as well as you can. Whisk together with vinegar and mustard. While whisking, slowly drizzle in as much oil as desired.

When everything is done, stir the ingredients into the grain blend one at a time: caramelized onions, followed by the dressing, then cranberries, walnuts, and pomegranate arils. Enjoy warm immediately, or chill in fridge to enjoy later.