Tag Archives: cauliflower

Curried cauliflower and sweet potato soup (vegan)

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Last week, the almost unthinkable happened. It got cold here. Temperatures dipped below freezing overnight! I wore a heavy wool sweater and my fleece-lined winter raincoat and a scarf and gloves to walk to work! We broke out the fuzzy slippers and the hot water bottles and generally hunkered down. And I made soup.

I love soup at almost any time of year, but when it’s cold out (and all you hardier types in areas where there is “real winter” can stop laughing at my reaction to a little flirting with the freezing point now, thanks), soup can especially hit the spot. Some how a hot bowl of liquid just warms you up that much faster than a hot plate of solids.

Of course, for your extra cold weather, you want an extra warming and satisfying bowl of soup. For this recipe, I add a hefty dose of spicy Thai chilis, and temper them with a can of coconut milk. Cauliflower to make sure we’re still getting some vegetable matter in, and sweet potato for a hint of sweetness and a nice dose of starch (vital when your body is fighting to maintain homeostasis, right?). Blend it all together, and the result is a thick, velvety soup with a sneaky kick of heat (for those of you who prefer a milder soup, I’d suggest adding just one chili pepper, then increasing the heat in individual bowls with a little hot sauce as desired).

M., who has a pretty low tolerance for consecutive nights of the same dinner, actually requested that we eat this soup for dinner on Monday, he loved it so much on Sunday night. The weather’s warmed up again this week, but I’ll have this recipe filed away and ready to deploy for the next little freeze. For those of you who are still feeling winter’s grip, try this to help you through.

Because we’re almost always freezing some part of our soups and trying to maximize available freezer space, the recipe below doesn’t contain a lot of liquid and may come out too thick for some tastes. Feel free to dilute individual bowls with a little more hot broth before serving to achieve your desired consistency.

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Curried Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup
serves 8

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium onions, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic
3 Thai chili peppers (the very small green kind)
3 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp asafoetida powder*
1 sweet potato (about 6 oz), peeled and cut into 8-10 pieces
1 head of cauliflower (approx. 2 lbs), cut into pieces ~2-3″ long
4 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 14-oz can coconut milk
salt, to taste

*This spice can be a little tricky to find, I’ve had success at Indian groceries or natural foods stores with a good bulk spice section. If you can’t find it, the soup will still taste fine without.

Method
1. In a large pot, heat the olive oil to a medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with oil, and allow to cook until onions are soft and slightly translucent, about 8-10 minutes

2. Add garlic, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add chili, curry powder, and asafoetida, cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add sweet potato and cauliflower, stir to coat with spice and onion mixture. Add broth, cover pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow soup to simmer, covered, for 20-30 minutes, until cauliflower is cooked and will fall apart with a firm touch from a wooden spoon.

4. If you have an immersion blender, puree the soup right in the pot. If not, transfer soup to a mixing bowl, then use a food processor to puree batches of soup, returning each pureed batch to the pot. Be careful not to overfill the food processor (I try not to cover the top of the central knob piece on the s-blade).

5. Add the coconut milk to the pureed soup and allow to heat thoroughly (avoid boiling the soup after adding the coconut milk).

Thin with broth if desired, serve hot.

Grown up lunch: oasis

Lately I’ve been traveling a lot for work, which means a break from my usual foods and eating routine. My business trips are generally to fairly remote areas, so the offerings can be pretty hit or miss. I usually pack a few rations like apples, oranges, carrots, and nuts, then do my best with whatever else is available. When I get back from (or am in between) travel, I like to keep things simple and try to do a sort of mini-detox, focusing on getting plenty of protein (which is probably the hardest thing to do on the road as a mostly-vegetarian) and vegetables.

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I threw together this lunch as a little oasis of good healthy eating in the midst of it all: the last of a batch of cauliflower rice pilaf, topped with a pair of hard-boiled eggs. I’ve been loving hard-boiled eggs lately as an easy and portable meal addition. As a former egg-hater, it’s taken me a while to figure out the trick to peeling them without losing half the whites. I found this post on stone soup that mentioned adding a pinch of baking soda to the boiling water. Then I found some more instructions at Willow Bird baking that advised making lots of cracks in the shell before peeling. I’ve been trying both of these techniques with much improved success. Though to make your cracks, be sure to tap gently. Every time I’ve tried crunching down harder, I’ve cracked the whites wide open. In fact, you can see I tried it here on one of the eggs, and was rewarded for my non-pains with a yolk that was falling right out of the whites. Oops.

Spanish cauliflower rice

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“Spanish rice” was one of those foods that I had a bit of a fascination with growing up. My mother rarely (if ever) made it, but I always made a beeline for it at potlucks. At some point in my adult life I discovered it’s actually pretty easy to make. In the most basic form, just add salsa to rice as it’s cooking. Go more elaborate from there as you see fit.

Recently, I got a craving for Spanish rice and decided to see how a cauliflower version would work out. A friend had gifted us with some serrano chiles so I made this particular iteration extra spicy (M. did not require his usual topping of Tabasco sauce. Ha.) I don’t really like to buy jars of salsa anymore because of all the packaging involved, so instead I just put in various salsa components. Finally, although this recipe calls for canned tomatoes, you can also use fresh (as we were up until a month or so ago, but the tomatoes aren’t coming quite so fast now), and add some additional water or broth to make up the liquid (I’d suggest starting with 2/3 cup and then adding more if it seems to be drying out). I’ve been eating the batch pictured here as a base for bowls full of chocolate chili (which also got a heavy dose of those serrano peppers, so I’ve been needing a generous topping of cheese to counteract the heat).

Spanish cauliflower rice
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/4″ dice
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2″ dice (optional)
1 serrano chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 head cauliflower (approximately 2 lbs), grated or finely chopped
1 3/4 c (or 1 14-oz can) diced canned tomatoes
1/4 c. chopped cilantro (optional)

Method

1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until soft and slightly translucent.

2. Add garlic and, if using, red bell pepper. Cook for 2 more minutes. Add serrano chile, chili powder, cumin, and salt. Stir together, then add cauliflower. Stir cauliflower until onion/spice mixture is evenly distributed.

3. Add tomatoes (including their juice). Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomato juice has cooked off. Stir in cilantro (if using) and remove from heat.

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Serving suggestion: with chocolate chili and a side of kale+cabbage.

Braised cauliflower with three seed sauce (Vegan With A Vengeance)

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I’ve mentioned the Vegan with a Vengeance cookbook at least once or twice already on this blog. VWAV is one of the first (I think the absolute first) cookbook by the now ridiculously well-known Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who’s name has become practically synonomous with tasty, approachable, and slightly irreverant vegan cooking and baking. While this is not the first vegan cookbook I ever owned, it was the first one that I really seriously used. I also liked it enough that I went on to acquire copies of Moskowitz’s later books: Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, and Vegan Brunch. And even though I’m no longer vegan, I still enjoy looking through these books and taking inspiration from their pages.

This three-seed cauliflower braise is an example of the great balance Moskowitz strikes in her best recipes: simple enough for a beginner cook, but still beautifully flavorful and with a few twists to make it stand out. I was initially thinking of being a bit lazy and using powdered versions of the cumin and mustard for this recipe, but when I realized I was getting low on a few other items, I decided it was worth making a trip over to the crunchy food co-op with the extensive spice collection after all.

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Although I’m sure the dish still would have been delicious made the lazy way, there was something about having the whole seeds included that really added to the effect of the dish. I especially liked the inclusion of fennel seeds, not an ingredient I would usually think to add to a curry dish (though it is sometimes included in garam masala blends). It adds a sweet undertone, not to mention helping to distiguish the cauliflower from the chickpea curry I initially paired it with for Monday evening’s dinner.
Later in the week, I skipped the extra curry and just added some plain chickpeas to the cauliflower to make an easy hot lunch. Good stuff.

Braised cauliflower with three-seed sauce (adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance
Serves 4-6

Ingredients
28 oz. diced canned tomatoes
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
pinch of sugar

1. Drain tomatoes, reserving 1 c. of the juice.

2. In a large pot or skillet, heat the olive oil to medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and slightly translucent, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic, red pepper, salt, cumin, mustard, fennel, turmeric, and bay leaf. Stir and saute for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower, stir, and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes, cook for 5 more minutes. Finally, add the reserved tomato juice and sugar. Cover for 3-5 minutes, until sauce is bubbling. Turn heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or so, until the sauce has cooked down and thickened a bit (there will still be a fair amount of liquid, don’t try to cook it totally dry!). Remove from heat and serve.

Method

Packed lunch: eggplant for the win

Ever since Mark Bittman got on the less-meat bandwagon a few years back, I’ve been following his writing with interest (before that, I’ll confess, not so much). I don’t always agree with what he has to say, but who do you always agree with? But back in August he penned an article that I completely and wholeheartedly agree with, on the topic of packing lunch from home. While I don’t always manage to bring a packed lunch with me to the office, I do try to make it a regular habit. Lately I’ve been making more of an effort to make lunch more of a workday high point, packing a little bento box and hunting out new outdoors spots for eating. Since I’m sure I’m not the only person who occasionally wants to bust their lunch out of a rut, I thought I’d start a little series to share some of my lunches. I’d love to get some comments on your favorite lunch ideas too!

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Getting ready to tuck in: Lunch and reading (a vintage Phillipa Gregory, Earthly Joys. Gregory is a guilty pleasure of mine, but this one didn’t catch me as much as her Tudors and Plantagenets books).

As bento boxes go, mine is fairly simple, a stainless steel Lunchbots Duo with two compartments. The box looks quite small compared to the collection of plastic containers that have held my lunches in the past, but it actually holds plenty of food. I like having the divider so that I can pack a multi-part meal like the one above. For this meal, I started with two leftover dinner dishes: half a twice cooked eggplant in spicy ginger sauce, and a small serving of coconut cauliflower rice. Then I added some ingredients I had made on Sunday and earmarked specifically for lunches. The eggplant was chopped and mixed with steamed kale and a small spoonful of spicy peanut sauce, while the cauliflower rice got a protein boost from a cupful of chickpeas. I finished it all off with a black plum (I keep thinking stone fruit season is about to end, but the market delivered these as the latest delicious proof of my wrongness).

How did it all go down? The cauliflower rice and chickpeas were good, but would have been better served at room temperature rather than very recently removed from the fridge. Something to remember for another day, right? On the other side of the box, the eggplant and kale mixture was fantastic, perfect for eating cold. I can definitely see the eggplant becoming a lunchtime star in the future, with the potential to dress up all manner of plainer vegetables and elevate salads to a whole new level.

And now, I’m off to pack up tomorrow’s lunch. Hope you enjoyed this little snapshot!

Cauliflower rice pilaf

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Yes, more cauliflower rice! Sorry, we are just loving it too much lately. The produce market I like to go to has had great deals on cauliflower lately, and there are so many great ways to prepare it, so expect another post or two on the topic.
Continue reading Cauliflower rice pilaf

Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice

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Here’s another entry in the Cauliflower Rice Chronicles that I suspect I’m in the middle of writing. I was flipping through my trusty old copy of Vegan with a Vengeance and noticed a recipe for Coconut Rice. “Hmmmm”, I thought: “This recipe sounds awesome. I wonder how it would do with cauliflower?” Turns out, pretty darned well. Continue reading Coconut Lime Cauliflower Rice