Monday, September 17, 2018

Summer Rolls


Ingredients:

Easy Peanut Dipping Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon hoisin sauce2
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, mashed (or about 1 teaspoon minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce or a chile garlic sauce, optional for spice
  • 1-2 Tablespoons warm water, or more as needed
  • optional garnish: crushed peanuts, sprinkle of crushed red pepper
  • Summer Rolls:
  • 10 spring roll rice paper wrappers
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 large cucumber, julienned (you can peel, but I don't)
  • 1/2 of a large red pepper, julienned
  • 1/3 cup chopped purple cabbage
  • 1 ounce cooked rice noodles/rice vermicelli (optional)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • handful fresh cilantro (and/or mint, basil)
  • 5 large green lettuce leaves (romaine, butter, etc), torn in half
  • 20 medium cooked shrimp, peeled and sliced in half length-wise
  • sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. First, read through the post above to learn some tips/tricks for making these summer rolls. Also, make sure every single ingredient in the summer rolls is prepared/chopped/cooked before you assembling.
  2. Prepare the dipping sauce: You can whisk everything together in a bowl or use a food processor. I always whisk them because it saves me from cleaning the food processor. Add everything to a medium bowl (except water and optional garnish) and whisk until smooth. Add 1-2 Tablespoons of warm water or until you reach desired thinness. Pour into a serving bowl/ramekin and top with garnish. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the rice paper wrappers: Pour warm water into a large bowl or 9-inch square or round baking pan. The baking pan is what I always use. Working with one at a time, dip the rice paper wrapper into the warm water for 15-20 seconds (or whatever the package suggests). Usually it's around that time. You want the wrapper to be soft, yet still slightly firm and pliable. Immediately remove from the water and place flat onto a work surface such as a large plastic or ceramic cutting board. Sometimes I use a large wood cutting board, but the wrappers stick to it a little more. Pat the wrapper slightly dry.
  4. Fill the rolls: Place a few sticks of carrot, cucumber, red pepper, and a sprinkle of cabbage on top of the bottom 1/3 of the rice paper as explained and pictured in the post. Then, a small amount of noodles (if using), a slice or two of avocado and a bit of cilantro. Lay 1/2 of a lettuce leaf on top and 4 slices of shrimp on top-- as pictured above. Remember, do not overstuff the roll. Start small then add more, as needed, as you roll each one.
  5. Roll them: Roll everything up tightly. To do so, gently pull up the bottom of the roll and roll over the filling. Then, roll and use your hands to tuck the filling in as you go. It's basically like you're rolling a burrito! Remember, you want a very tight roll. You can fold in the sides of the rice paper roll if you wish, but sometimes I don't.
  6. After rolling each, place on a serving plate. Cut in half, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and serve with peanut sauce. This amount is enough for Kevin and I and there are always a couple leftover for lunch the next day.
  7. Make ahead tip/storing: Wrap rolls individually in plastic wrap (suggested to prevent sticking and then tearing) and layer in a tupperware between sheets of parchment or wax paper. Store up to 2-3 days. In terms of taste, the rolls are best served fresh the day they are made. Cover sauce tightly and store in the refrigerator for a couple days.

Cucumber Tzatziki

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup grated cucumber (from about 1 medium 10-ounce cucumber, no need to peel or seed the cucumber first)
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh mint and/or dill
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 medium clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Instructions:

  1. Working with one big handful at a time, squeeze the grated cucumber between your palms over the sink to remove excess moisture. Transfer the squeezed cucumber to a small serving bowl, and repeat with the remaining cucumber.
  2. Add the yogurt, olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, garlic, and salt to the bowl, and stir to blend. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Taste and add additional chopped fresh herbs, lemon juice, and/or salt, if necessary (I thought this batch was just right as-is).
  3. Serve tzatziki immediately or chill for later. Leftover tzatziki keeps well, chilled, for about 4 days.

Lentil Vegetable Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
  • 1½ tsp italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup trimmed and chopped green beans 
  • 4 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-15oz diced tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven.
  2. Once oil is hot, add onions, celery, carrots, and a dash of salt. Sautee for about 7 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sautee for another 2 minutes. Stir in the salt, italian seasoning, and bay leaves. Sautee for another minute. Add green beans, vegetable broth, water, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, potato, and lentils. Give it a stir, bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) on low for 35-45 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  4. Stir in spinach and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mediterranean Stuffed Tomatoes with Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cooked red or black quinoa
  • 8 medium on-the-vine tomatoes
  • ⅓ can quartered artichokes (about 4 ounces, or ½ cup), roughly chopped
  • ½ cup full fat feta, plus a few tablespoons extra for topping
  • 15 kalamata olives, sliced thin (I prefer the Mediterranean Organic brand)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic (minced or use a garlic press)
  • ground sea salt, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook your quinoa: Measure out ⅓ cup of quinoa, pour into a mesh colandar, and rinse the quinoa under running water for a minute. Pour the rinsed quinoa into a small pot and add ⅔ cup water (you’re going for a 1:2 ratio of quinoa and water). Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from heat, let sit for a few minutes, and fluff with a fork. ⅓ cup uncooked quinoa should yield a little over one cup cooked quinoa. I would use all of it in the filling.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
  3. Core the tomatoes by slicing off the top ⅛ inch of each tomato. Run a small knife vertically around the core. Be careful not to cut through the bottom. Use your finger to gently pull out the core and use the knife to clean out any excess left inside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together the filling (cooked quinoa, feta, artichokes, olives, olive oil and garlic).
  5. Taste and add salt if necessary (feta and olives are salty to begin with, so you may not need any).
  6. Spray your dish with cooking oil and brush the tops of the cored tomatoes with olive oil.
  7. Use a spoon to stuff the tomatoes with the quinoa mixture.
  8. Top each tomato with extra feta.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the feta starts to turn golden.
  10. Garnish each tomato with a small basil leaf.

Baba Ganoush Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Italian eggplants (about 2 small-to-medium eggplants*)
  • 2 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, more if necessary
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing the eggplant and garnish
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of smoked paprika, for garnish
  • Serving suggestions: warmed or toasted pita wedges, carrot sticks, bell pepper strips, cucumber slices, etc.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack in the upper third of the oven. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent the eggplant from sticking to the pan. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with olive oil. Place them in the prepared pan with the halved sides down.
  2. Roast the eggplant until the interior is very tender throughout and the skin is collapsing, about 35 to 40 minutes (this might take longer if you are using 1 large eggplant). Set the eggplant aside to cool for a few minutes. Flip the eggplants over and scoop out the flesh with a large spoon, leaving the skin behind.
  3. Place a mesh strainer over a mixing bowl, then transfer the flesh to the strainer and discard the skins. Pick out any stray bits of eggplant skin and discard. You want to remove as much moisture from the eggplant here as possible, so let the eggplant rest for a few minutes and shake/stir the eggplant to release some more moisture.
  4. Discard all of the eggplant drippings, drain and wipe out the bowl, and dump the eggplant into the bowl. Add the garlic and lemon juice to the eggplant and stir vigorously with a fork until eggplant breaks down. Add the tahini to the bowl and stir until it’s incorporated. While stirring, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Continue stirring until the mixture is pale and creamy, and use your fork to break up any particularly long strings of eggplant.
  5. Stir in the parsley and cumin. Season to taste with more salt (I usually add another ¼ teaspoon) and more lemon juice, if you’d like a more tart flavor.
  6. Transfer the baba ganoush to a serving bowl and lightly drizzle olive oil on top. Lastly, sprinkle parsley and smoked paprika on top. Serve with accompaniments of your choice. It’s also great on sandwiches!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 3 pounds), halved vertically and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ cup chopped shallot (about 1 large shallot bulb)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Up to 4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter, to taste (substitute olive oil for dairy free/vegan soup)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the butternut squash on the pan and drizzle each half with just enough olive oil to lightly coat the squash on the inside (about 1 teaspoon each). Rub the oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.
  2. Turn the squash face down and roast until it is tender and completely cooked through, about 45 to 50 minutes. Set the squash aside until it’s cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Then use a large spoon to scoop the butternut squash flesh into a bowl and discard the tough skin.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet (or large soup pot, if you’ll be serving soup from that pot), warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the chopped shallot and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the shallot has softened and is starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  4. If you have a high performance blender like a Vitamix (see notes if you’re using an immersion blender instead), transfer the cooked shallot and garlic to your blender. Add the reserved butternut, maple syrup, nutmeg and a few twists of freshly ground black pepper. Pour in 3 cups vegetable broth, being careful not to fill the container past the maximum fill line (you can work in batches if necessary, and stir in any remaining broth later). Securely fasten the lid and select the soup preset, being careful to avoid hot steam escaping from the lid. The blender will stop running once the soup is super creamy and hot.
  5. If you would like to thin out your soup a bit more, stir in the remaining cup of broth (I used the full 4 cups, but if you used a small squash, you might want to leave it as is). Add 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil, to taste, and blend well. Taste and stir in more salt and pepper, if necessary.
  6. Serve immediately (I like to top each bowl with a little more black pepper). Let leftover soup cool completely before transferring it to a proper storage container and refrigerating it for up to 4 days (leftovers taste even better the next day!). Or, freeze this soup for up to 3 months.

Eggplant Caponata


Ingredients:

  • Enough olive oil to deep fry
  • 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 large yellow or sweet-variety onion, chopped medium-small
  • 1 to 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1 cup crushed canned tomatoes (or use fresh)
  • 6 ounces (about 1 cup) green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1⁄2 cup golden raisins (I used half for a less sweet caponata)
  • 1⁄4 cup salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar (I used 1 tablespoon, but sweeter is more traditional)
  • 1⁄2 cup finely slivered basil
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted until golden and cooled

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet (12 inches is ideal), heat oil over medium-high heat. Once very hot, working in batches, fry eggplant cubes in one layer at a time, stirring and turning occasionally until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to drain eggplant over skillet, then transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and immediately season with salt. Repeat with remaining eggplant. Transfer drained and mostly cooled eggplant to a large bowl.
  2. Pour off all but 3 tablespoons olive oil, and reserve the rest for another use. Cook onions and and celery with salt and pepper over medium-high heat until beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add tomato paste and water and cook, stirring, until caramelized and almost evaporated, 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add crushed tomatoes; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in olives, vinegar, raisins, capers, and sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to bowl with eggplant, along with basil and pine nuts, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and let cool to room temperature before serving.