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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Curried Peas with Tomatoes and Tofu


This dish was inspired by Curry Made's recipe for Indian Spiced Peas with Tomatoes and Dill. It contains some of the same flavors you'd find in an Indian curry -- like coriander, cumin, garlic, and chili pepper -- as well as the fresh flavors of dill, cilantro, and sweet cherry tomatoes.

My version is a light but filling vegetarian main dish topped off with tofu. I used organic sprouted tofu from Trader Joe's, which I pressed between weighted plates, then poured off the water. If you can't find sprouted tofu, use any organic extra firm variety. (Most soybean crops are heavily sprayed with pesticides and more than 90% of soy in the United States is genetically modified, according to the Organic Consumers Association.)

If you don't have or don't like tofu, substitute cubes of paneer cheese, crumbled feta, ciliegine (bite-sized balls of fresh mozzarella), dollops of ricotta or Greek yogurt, a wedge of grilled haloumi, or even a fried egg.

1 tablespoon ghee
1 small onion, about 2/3 cup chopped
1 fresh chili pepper, Serrano or other, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground cumin seed
½ teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 generous cup of quartered cherry tomatoes, any variety
Sea salt
8 ounces organic sprouted tofu, extra firm, pressed, drained, and cubed
 Freshly ground peppercorn 
1 pound frozen petite peas, thawed
1 cup chopped cilantro leaves, stems, roots 
1 cup chopped dill fronds
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  1. Melt the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and chili pepper. Sauté until the onion becomes soft and starts to brown.
  3. Add the cumin, coriander, garlic, tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of pepper. Stir continue cooking until the tomatoes start to break down and form a sauce.
  4. Add the peas and tofu. Cook until the peas are soft and the tofu is warmed through, stirring occasionally but carefully, to keep the tofu intact. 
  5. Drizzle with olive oil. Add the fresh cilantro and dill. Stir everything together, carefully, until well-combined. Taste for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments.
  6. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Endive Salad with Octopus and Feta


Bitter leafy green vegetables are in season now and they are so good for us. They're on my list of the top 12 detox foods and good sources of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.

Curly endive -- also known as frisée -- adds structure to this dish, supporting dense chunks of octopus, feta cheese, olives, and cherry tomatoes.  Serve this colorful salad as a colorful starter or a light but filling main dish.

Cooking octopus and making it tender is easy if you have a pressure cooker (directions below). As an alternative You may be able to find cooked octopus sliced into rounds at your local grocer or fish monger.

For maximum flavor, I marinated the octopus in lime juice, minced red onion, and minced fresh chili peppers. This step is optional but it does add flavor, so do it if you can.

2 cups chopped cooked octopus (see cooking note below)
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Sea salt 
Freshly ground peppercorn
1 cup cubed feta cheese 
1 cup halved, pitted Kalamata olives (or other olives)
2 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 
¼ cup chopped fresh dill
1 organic lemon
Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  1. Cook the octopus for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker according to manufacturer instructions, then transfer the octopus to a plate to cool. 
  2. Once the octopus is cool enough to handle, use a sharp kitchen shears to cut off the legs. Cut each leg into bite-size pieces. Cut the head off the octopus and cut that into bite-size pieces as well. Trim as much tender meat as you can from the middle part, avoiding the hard beak in the center. Discard the beak or save it for making seafood broth. Reserve 2 cups of chopped octopus for this salad.
  3. If you're cooking the octopus ahead of time, marinate the bite-sized pieces in lime juice and any other aromatics like minced red onion and fresh chili pepper.
  4. To make the salad, add the tomatoes to a large bowl and season them with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the feta, olives, scallions, cilantro, and dill. If your lemon is organic, zest it into the bowl. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze some of the juice over the salad mixture. Drizzle some olive oil over as well. Toss everything together, then taste it for seasoning and make any necessary adjustments. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Marinated Corn Salad


Make this colorful and flavorful salad while fresh sweet corn is still in season. I don't eat a lot of grains or starchy foods, but fresh sweet corn is hard to resist, so I enjoy it in moderation when I find it at the farmers market.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back To School Bars


Feed these home-made protein bars to kids for breakfast on the go, pack them into school lunches, and hand them out as a healthy snack.

They're a healthy alternative to store-bought granola bars full of sugar, corn syrup, inflammatory fats, preservatives, and processed grains. In fact, these bars don't have any grains at all so they're naturally gluten-free. They don't contain any added sweeteners but they are full of protein, fiber, healthy fat, and antioxidants.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Home-Made Ancho Steak Sauce


Making your own steak sauce from whole food ingredients is easy. If you're not a steak eater, serve it as a dipping sauce for grilled vegetables or brush a bit onto skewers of freshly grilled chicken, shrimp, or scallops. Freeze what you don't use within a few days and thaw it this winter to serve as a condiment with roasted meats.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Stuffed Peppers With Grassfed Beef and Artichoke Hearts


Bell peppers are in season, so take advantage of your local harvest and make this healthy dish. If you don't have peppers or don't like them, try stuffing seeded zucchini or portobello mushroom caps instead.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pickled Beet Salad


Serve this easy make-ahead salad as an appetizer or side dish with heavier foods like grilled meats. It travels well on picnics inside a sealed glass container or wide-mouth jar.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Green Tea Affogato


Traditional Italian affogato is a shot of espresso poured over ice cream, but I made mine with green tea. I used matcha, the antioxidant powerhouse, because it has more body and a brighter color than steeped green tea. In cold weather I use hot tea, but in hot weather I use room temperature tea so the ice cream doesn't melt too fast.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Anju's Coriander Chutney

Recently I made a new friend and she makes the most delicious coriander chutney I've ever tasted. Fortunately, Anju graciously agreed to share her recipe.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cilantro Roots and Ginger Skins

Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs and I always eat the leaves as well as the stalks. But I had never considered eating the roots until I heard Bal Arneson talk about it on her show The Spice Goddess. She said that the roots of the cilantro plant are the most flavorful part. She also said that because the skin of ginger root contains much of the flavor, she never peels it.