Tag Archives: Vegetarian

The Art of Strategic Rebellion: Toasted Quinoa Salad with Pears, Cherries, Almonds & Goat Cheese

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I love you, quinoa. You never do me wrong. I dress you up, I dress you down. I have you for breakfast, I have you for dinner. When I’m in the mood to be naughty and blatantly ignore the concept of a “recommended serving size” (my own special form of rebellion), I can safely do so with you. Overdosing on protein, fiber, antioxidants and amino acids has never hurt anyone, as far as I know.

Oh, and if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, I know you know that quinoa is a protein superstar. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a highly coveted non-animal product complete protein. Hot damn! Not to mention, it’s dirt cheap, particularly when you go crazy with those fun little scoopers in the bulk bins at Whole Foods, and leave with several pounds of it for just few dollars. Are you seeing a theme here? You can overdo it with quinoa without hurting your stomach or your wallet. Because isn’t overdoing it once in a while just fun? Don’t we all want to feel like we’re getting away with something? Choose quinoa as your accomplice in the art of strategic rebellion.
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How to Forget the Hostile Climate You Live In (Sans Alcohol): Sweet Potato Enchilada Skillet

Sweet Potato & Enchilada Skillet
People. I pray you are not in Chicago. It is barricade-yourself-in-your-home-and-drink-red-wine-to-stay-warm kind of cold here. The reality of the Midwestern winter was put into brutal perspective for me after this weekend, which I spent in sunny, happy, these-people-must-be-on-meds-they-smile-so-much Austin, TX. This is a land where the weather hung out in the indisputably blissful 70s throughout the entirety of my visit. Then, I boarded a plane. Then, a mere two hours later, I landed in Chicago aka Iceland. As soon as the plane doors were opened to release us into Iceland, the savage air pushed its way in and we could all see our breath. WHILE WE WERE STILL ON THE PLANE. This has never happened to me.

It was 7 degrees. That’s over a 60 degree drop! Are you getting the picture? Are you understanding my need for drug-like foods so hot, steamy and yummy they just might make you forget about the next few months of pain that lie ahead? Ok, good. This brings me to my latest concoction, which I have made not one, but three times in the past month. It’s crave-inducing, a snap to make and uber healthy. It will make you forget the snow piling up outside your door. Especially if you pair it with margaritas, as we did during its latest showing at a dear friend’s dinner party.
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Don’t Judge A Dish By Its Color: Edamame & Pea Hummus

edamame and pea hummus

Consider the cracker. How versatile it is! How much freedom you wield with that (preferably whole wheat, flax, chia, or vegetable) crispy square with which you can scoop up all sorts of delights. Healthy delights. What once was considered the epitome of naughty – chips n’ dip – can now easily be transmuted into the healthiest part of your day. With this recipe, it undoubtedly will be. Full of protein and antioxidants from a surprisingly hearty concoction of edamame, peas, lemon juice, garlic and several healing spices and herbs, you may just find this to be the ideal vehicle for shelving your post-celebratory guilt and repenting upon your most ghastly of holiday gastronomical sins.

Full disclosure – this ain’t pretty to the untrained eye. My little sisters compared it to vomit with great gusto, while my mother swooned for its striking greenery.
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Resurrection: Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash & Quinoa

Why hello there. Remember me? The whisk-wielding habitually hungry gal who used to ramble on about the allure of raw brownies and the sex appeal of kale? Yes, I remember her too. She’s back, baby. After high-tailing it into the shadowy hills of corporate America (the updating of this blog oh-so-coincidentally ceasing upon Day One of being a REAL adult aka being a gainfully employed college graduate), I am back. My last update… August of 2011. Yikes. How I wish there was a WordPress feature allowing me to switch off publication dates, thus allowing me to cover my deserter tracks.

I have been around the world and back this past year and a half. Both figuratively and literally. I have been blessed with an astoundingly exciting, creative job which I slipped into mere days after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. Since then, I have wandered the streets of Shanghai, Beijing, Wuxi, Guangzhou, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Rome and London, after wrapping up my meetings for the day. Habitually hungry. Habitually curious. Always missing my kitchen but never being home in Chicago long enough to justify the leftovers a full-sized recipe would garner. But enough excuses. It’s time to get back into the kitchen!
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Lentil, Chard and Roast Plum Tomato Gratin

Though my market only stocked green chard when I was shopping for the ingredients for this recipe, I imagine rainbow chard would be gorgeous – give it a try! Also feel free to experiment with amount of bread crumbs, flavor of bread crumbs, type of cheese, cheese amounts, etc.

Lentil, Chard and Roast Plum Tomato Gratin

3-4 Roma tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling + 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
fine grain sea salt
1 cup French green lentils
2 1/4 lb. chard, washed and leaves separated from stalks
4 garlic cloves, minced
generous pinch of dried thyme
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup white wine
1/2-1 cup parmesan, pecorino romano, or other hard cheese, grated (add as much or as little cheese as you like, depending on your love of cheese)
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tomatoes thickly, place on a lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and roast for 25 minutes; until tomatoes are lightly colored. Set aside.

2.) Bring a medium sized saucepan of salted water to a boil, add lentils, and simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes; until tender. Drain and set aside.

3.) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chard leaves, and boil for around 5 minutes. Drain and finely chop. Add chard to the lentils and season the mixture generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4.) Chop chard stalks into 1/2 chunks. In a medium skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, thyme, and chard stalks and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine to skillet, partially cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally; until stalks are tender. If mixture gets too dry, pour in a bit more wine to loosen things up a bit. Season with salt and pepper. Add to lentil and chard mixture along with any juices.

5.) Oil a 9 x 12″ baking dish. Place tomatoes in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Spoon lentil mixture over tomatoes. Mix cheese and bread crumbs together in a bowl. Sprinkle cheese and bread crumb mixture over lentils. Bake for 40-50 minutes; until golden. Serve with a chunk off good bread.

This recipe was adapted from Denis Cotter’s Wild Garlic, Gooseberries… and Me. Copyright 2007. HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

Veggie-Heavy Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale


Chicago’s fleeting spring weather took a turn for the worse earlier this week, and I found myself craving a pot of warming chili after a particularly violent battle with the wind on my way home. Hence, I go from Spring Soba Noodles to this hearty meal. The generous amounts of vegetables do make for a somewhat lighter chili. Make sure to really go for it with the garnishes of cilantro, lime juice, and queso fresco – they truly make the dish. I also served this with my favorite cornbread – 101 Cookbook’s Firecracker Cornbread.

Veggie-Heavy Black Bean Chili with Dark Ale
Serves 4

The Beans
1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight (or two 14 oz cans)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
few pinches of dried Mexican oregano (if using dried black beans)

The Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into a 1/4″ dice
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 large red bell pepper, diced
12 oz dark ale
14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
juice of half a lime

The Garnishes
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
crumbled queso fresco
lime wedges

1.) If using dried beans – Drain from soaking liquid, place in a large saucepan, and cover with an ample amount of cold water. Add a few pinches of Mexican oregano, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer until beans are tender, but still quite firm to the bite, as you will finish cooking them alongside the rest of the ingredients; about 30-50 minutes, depending on how old your beans are. Season with the salt after the first 30 minutes. When beans are nearly cooked through, drain, and set aside.

2.) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, chiles, cumin, and a few pinches of salt, and saute for 5 minutes more. Add bell pepper and saute for 5 more minutes; until your ingredients have taken on a delicious golden hue and your kitchen is aromatic.

3.) Stir in beans, ale, tomatoes, and corn. Bring chili to a boil, and reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 45 minutes; until thickened slightly. It is important that you are, indeed, simmering the beans (a few bubbles gently rising to the surface), and not boiling them, as this will cause your beans to split open. When finished cooking, taste for salt and season with more, if necessary. If the beans taste flat, don’t fret – they just need more salt. Stir in the lime juice.

4.) To serve, garnish with generous amounts of cilantro, queso fresco, and pass additional lime wedges around the table.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Tagine

Moroccan Sweet Potato Tagine

2 tablespoons mild-flavored olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or two 14 oz cans)
4 medium sweet potatoes
3 skinny carrots, chopped
14 oz can tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/4 teaspoons turmeric
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1.) Heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add garlic, reduce heat slightly, and cook for 5 minutes more.

2.) Reduce heat again and add all of the spices, stirring constantly, and taking care not to let the onions burn.

3.) Add carrots, squash, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

4.) Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and raisins, cover, and simmer for 30-50 minutes, depending on how large your chunks of vegetables are; until fork tender.

5.) Serve on a bed of cous cous.