Tag Archives: vegetables

Dinner diary: Black bean and freekeh bowl with vegetables

I mentioned a few posts back that I’m “in training” for my first half marathon. While I’m not doing a crazy high mileage training schedule, I am now having a couple of evenings each week dominated by running. So, no time to cook, but a definite need to do some post-workout recovery eating.

My latest solution to this challenge is to prep ingredients for some kind of dinner bowls on the weekends for reheating and assembly during the week. When a running evening rolls around, it’s just a matter of how fast I get myself through the shower before sitting down to eat. Since we’re in the middle of a drought, the shower part is fast 🙂

This particular bowl was inspired by the beautiful bibimbap bowls you can get at most (okay, probably all) Korean restaurants. My take uses a mix of freekeh, black beans, and sauteed cabbage as the base, which I realize is not at all the same as the usual base of rice. An array of vegetable toppings rounds out the upper layer of the bowl. I like to get in a few different colors and a mix of cooked and raw vegetables to keep things interesting: zucchini and eggplant stir-fried with ginger, garlic, and tamari; blanched broccoli, a little raw carrot, and a few bean sprouts. For some extra protein, I also added a a sliced up egg pancake, but you could also use tempeh or a few fried tofu cubes for vegan alternatives. A handful of scallion slices, a sprinkling of black sesame seeds, and a nice dollop of my thai basil sauce finish things off and makes it all look (and in the cast of the pesto, taste) a little less “I threw this together while wearing a towel” and a little more “this is a legitimately awesome dinner, thank you”.

Pan-fried Brussels sprouts with cheddar

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For those of you in the US and living near a Trader Joe’s, you’re probably familiar with the cycle of “seasonal” goodies they rotate through, which seems to reach a peak around the Christmas season. Ever since I discovered that they are one of M.’s favorite vegetables, I’ve always kept a sharp eye out for the appearance of the TJ’s Brussels sprout stalk:

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This year, the stalks first popped up in our local TJ’s in October, but the sprouts looked puny and the stalks were sparsely populated. You pay by the stalk and the price is constant throughout the season, so you want to make sure you wait until the stalks are sporting a decent volume of sproutage. This past weekend, I finally sprang for one.

Before I cooked the sprouts, I also decided to do a little weighing of my sprouts, because I wanted to see how the price per pound for the sprouts compares to some of our other commonly consumed vegetables. Results? My $2.99 stalk of sprouts yielded just over 2 lbs of sprouts, so we paid a little under $1.50/lb.

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I have a rule of thumb of liking to keep our average produce expenditures under $1/lb, so these are a little pricey, but they aren’t terrible. Kale is definitely worse (we pay by the bunch, but I’ve estimated our cost per pound is about $3. You see why it always gets mixed with that ultra-cheap cabbage, and we chose to try growing kale on the patio this fall!). Anyway. Enough of that little side-track into our kitchen economics. After I’d finished scrutinizing the Brussels sprouts, it was time to get cooking with them.

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My two favorite methods for Brussels sprouts preparation are roasting or, as in today’s recipe, pan-frying. A few nicely browned exterior leaves, a slightly sweet and still firm interior. I find that halving the sprouts is the trick to getting the right balance between interior/exterior cooking. While you can get good results from whole sprouts, I just haven’t had the same success rate. Halving seems to elevate this cooking method to foolproof, so it’s well worth the small investment of extra time. And while a pan of sprouts on their own, with lashings of salt and pepper, is a perfectly satisfactory dish to place on your dinner table, the addition of a bit of extra sharp cheddar, melting and turning crisp against the bottom of the pan? It’s a pretty nice direction to take things in occasionally also.

Pan-fried Brussels sprouts with cheddar
makes 4 servings

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 lb. Brussels sprouts,trimmed and sliced in half
2 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated
Black pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

Method
1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and Brussels sprouts to the pan and stir to coat thoroughly with oil. Cover pan and cook sprouts for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 3-4 minutes. Sprouts will turn bright green and begin to brown.

2. Uncover pan and cook sprouts for approximately 2 more minutes, just long for any accumulated liquid to cook off the pan. Add the cheddar cheese, stir to coat the sprouts. If using a cast-iron or other heavy pan that retains heat, turn off burner and remove pan from heat as soon as the cheddar is mostly melted. The heat retained by the pan will do the rest of the work. If using a less heat retentive pan, allow the cheddar to completely melt and form a few crisp brown pieces on the bottom of the pan, then remove from heat.

3. Top generously with cracked black pepper, a few dashes of salt if you think it’s necessary (be sure to taste first as the cheese adds quite a bit of salt), and serve hot.

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

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

Lemon Herb Cauliflower Rice

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Here’s the final (for now) recipe inspired by my recent foray through The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. Cauliflower has been abundant in our area lately, and it turns out M’s love of fauxliflower dishes (as I like to call them, although I think technically that term may be backwards…) is even more sincere than I had previously thought. As a result, we’ve been putting cauliflower onto the menu more often, and working on different ways of preparing it. While that cauliflower fried rice recipe I posted a few weeks back is ridiculously good, variety is no bad thing either.
Continue reading Lemon Herb Cauliflower Rice

Recipe: Cauliflower Fried Rice

When I first heard about using cauliflower to make faux-rice, I was skeptical. I remember my brother telling me about it via instant messenger, and the response that google has archived pretty much sums it up: “Hmmmmmmmm.“. Just to clarify, that was a “Hmmmmmm, sounds bland and soggy” sort of “Hmmmmm”, not an expression of actual interest or intent to try the idea.

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Well, fast-forward a year or two later and I eventually got myself on board with the idea. Naturally, I now wonder why I didn’t see the light before. It’s not like my brother has an affinity for bland, soggy foods, so I should probably learn to listen to him a little more attentively, right? It turns out cauliflower rice is both tasty and easy to make. Who’d have thought?

My current favorite iteration of cauliflower rice is to stir-fry it: it’s a great way to use up those odds and ends of vegetables in the fridge, and it goes well with the more Asian-themed taste palate that is coming out in our dinners lately. It doesn’t hurt that Mr. C&V also loves this dish, and is almost guaranteed to utter at least one positive expletive whenever it shows up at the table.

Cauliflower Fried Rice
Makes 4-6 servings

Ingredients
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 head cauliflower (approximately 2 lbs), grated (I use a food processor with a grater attachement to make quick work of grating)
1 small onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, cut into small pieces
4 scallions, chopped
2 leaves of kale, cut into small pieces
4 stalks cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp + 3 tsp oil of choice
1 tbsp sesame seeds
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, if you don’t like heat)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil

Note: You can really vary the vegetables to suit your tastes and what you have on hand, but remember that the bulk of the vegetable matter does need to be cauliflower! I like to pick accent vegetables that will add a little color to the dish.

Method

1. Make sure all your vegetables are prepped, as this dish comes together quickly. None of that prep-while-cooking thing that I am so prone to!

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All ready to go!

2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a 12″ cast iron skillet over low-medium heat. When oil is heated, pour in the eggs and scramble them by stirring every 10-20 seconds. When eggs are mostly scrambled (about 1 1/2 minutes), remove from the pan. Add the remaining oil and increase heat slightly. Add onions to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes, until soft and slightly translucent. Add carrots, cauliflower, sesame seeds, and garlic and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

4. Add the scallions and kale, cook until kale is just beginning to wilt. And the cilantro, eggs and soy sauce and stir to thoroughly incorporate, cooking for approximately 1 more minute. Remove from heat and add sesame oil, again stirring to incorporate into the entire pan of cauliflower.

Serve as desired:

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Nutritional info (assuming 4 servings and a 2 lb head of cauliflower): 231 calories, 20 g carbohydrates, 14 g fat, 10 g protein, 8 g fiber