Category Archives: vegetables

portobello mushroom sliders & roasted red pepper pesto

my weekend
new friends (thanks nick)
sunny san diego: always brings out the BEAST in me
eyes closed, bass pounding, menthol cigs and the heavy weight of a hand on my shoulder
my arms, back, neck, thighs
good vibes
consequences now

this classy recipe makes up for my weekend behavior

Balsamic-Marinated Portobello Mushroom Sliders with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
& Raw Kale Salad

2 large portobello mushrooms, gills scooped out, quartered
good balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
dinner rolls or mini brioche buns, brushed with olive oil (and garlic salt!)
spinach or arugula
asparagus cut in thirds
parmesan cheese
1 large red pepper (or a jar of roasted red peppers in oil)
8 – 9 large fresh basil leaves
1bsp lemon
1 tbsp roasted pinenuts
e.v.olive oil, salt, pepper
kale, stem removed, sliced
dried cranberries
slivered almonds
soy sauce
scallions, sliced 

in a mortar & pestle, crush a few leaves from a sprig of thyme and a clove of garlic with about 3 – 4 tbsp of good olive oil. whisk in about 1.5 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. drizzle over portobello mushrooms, toss, and leave alone to marinate. Toss asparagus and arugula, separately, in olive oil, splash of lemon juice, s/p.
meanwhile, in an oven at 350F or over a gas stove, char the red peppers, when cooled, peel. Or take 1 pepper from a jar of roasted peppers and place in a small blender. add basil, pinenuts, lemon juice, and a good drizzle of olive oil (3 tbsp). blend until smooth. add olive oil, salt and pepper as needed. Set aside
roast asparagus at 350F for 5 minutes, then sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan, roast for another 5 minutes.
in a grill pan or over a grill, grill mushrooms and bread

meanwhile, toss kale, cranberries, almonds, avocados and scallions in 2:1 parts olive oil and soy sauce. add pepper as needed.

to assemble, roasted asparagus, arugula, mushrooms, dollop of red-pepper pesto, and a slice of avocado
serve the kale salad on the side


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Autumnal Root-Vegetable, Chickpea, and Squash Curry with Coconut Rice

I hope all you Americans voted yesterday in the midterm elections! Aside from politics, November is also the official start of the Holidays… aka OVER-EATING. Oh no! It’s okay, we will be careful this year. ha. ha.

Anyways, what’s so great about the Fall is the array of vegetables that are available now and that are in season. A great way to eat sustainably is to eat locally, thereby eating in-season produce. As we enter winter, less fresh vegetables will be available (to my northern and east-coast neighbors) BUT storable vegetables, including root vegetables and squash will remain popular. Let’s not forget frozen vegetables which retain a lot of nutrition, dried spices, and a variety of canned produce; all of which are incredibly important when fresh options that you want are out of season or are too expensive.

Today’s recipe is a late fall recipe which I think is more appropriate for other states because we Californians are still experiencing 80 – 90 degree weather in the midst of an encroaching winter. I love this curry because it really exemplifies how wonderful root vegetables are. It has incredibly complex and developed flavors from slow-cooking, and is good for you. Despite having such an extensive ingredient list, this curry is a mostly set-it-and-forget-it recipe. You can definitely just dump everything in a deep pan and saute it but having made it both ways, using a slow-cooker is absolutely the way to go as all the vegetables were incredibly buttery and there was no sign of powdery potatoes.

BTW, check out my bad-ass jack-o-lantern (although it started to get some cracks in it). That was about 4 hours of work and a bloody thumb. I composted the innards!

By the time I took this (I was working on Halloween!), there was a huge ball of fuzzy mold growing in there and only realize after I dumped a flashlight in there. So nasty.

Autumnal Root-Vegetable Curry with Coconut Rice
Serves 6 – 10

for all canned items, try to find no-salt added or low-sodium
3 tablespoons Madras Curry Powder (spicier, better flavor, imo)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 tsp each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled

(optional: 1/2 jalapeno or serrano, seeds removed)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
1 large yukon gold potato (some people love sweet potatoes/yams), chopped into 1 inch pieces
3 carrots, chopped
1 small onion, chopped in quarters
2 c. banana squash (they’re in the supermarket sliced into pre-packaged slices because they grow up to 4 feet in length), chopped, or substitute with butternut
1 14 oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo) drained
1/2 to whole 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/3 c. frozen peas, defrosted
3/4 c. low-sodium vegetable stock
1 bag fresh spinach
1 14 oz. can light coconut milk
1/2 c. packed fresh coriander, chopped

For the rice:
2 c. brown basmati rice, soaked for 20 minutes and drained
3 c. water (or a combination of water and left-over vegetable stock and coconut juice)
1/2 c. coconut milk (omit if using juice)
1 bay leaf

1 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 c. fresh coriander, chopped

In a food-processor, combine the first set of ingredients from the Madras curry powder to the vegetable stock. Process until smooth, adding salt slowly. Heat a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the processed sauce and saute until it has reduced. Pretty much running your spoon through it will leave a streak. Boil for a minute until fragrant. Add onions and carrots, saute until they just begin to soften. Remove from heat and add to the slow-cooker. Combine the rest of the vegetables and 3/4 c. vegetable stock. Toss until combined, adding more salt as needed. I added another tablespoon and a tsp black pepper.

Cook, covered, in a slow-cooker for 6 hours on high or until vegetables are tender.

For the rice, bring coconut milk, water, bay leaf, and rice to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes, until water has been absorbed. I used an Asian rice cooker and did not let the rice soak in water before hand. Brown basmati takes significantly longer and a bit more water than normal brown rice so I had to set it for two rounds in the cooker although it may come out amazingly with 1 round for others. Others, when cooking over the stove, may let it boil for 5 – 10 minutes longer before reducing the heat. When done, toss with coriander and set aside.

Check potatoes, they will be firm but oh-so buttery and delicious. Stir in about half a bag of spinach, fresh coriander, until wilted, and 1/2 14 oz can of coconut milk. Serve over hot basmati rice.

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Green Beans with Tofu and Shiitake Crumble

I went to the pumpkin patch recently and talked to the farmer there about owning and humanely killing my own chicken. He said, get back to me on the 31st and we’ll talk about selling you my chickens. I don’t know if he mentioned showing me how to kill and butcher one but my grandma has done it. I’m excited. If I’m going to eat chicken meat, I should be able to kill it myself or at least watch the process. Granted, I’m being pretty over-confident right now. I’m sure it’s going to totally gross me out and I’ll probably just settle for being happy to eat humanely-killed meat that I didn’t slaughter. WOO! …Or turn out like my dad, who watched my grandmother kill chicken, and now does not eat poultry (only red-meat; my father is a terrible person). Anyways, details about this later.

For the last Meat-Free Monday, I experimented with tofu. Braised Tofu was on sale and I grabbed that instead of extra-firm… but I’m sure that extra-firm will be just fine for this recipe. I thought it would crisp up a little but texturally, the tofu didn’t turn out crispy or chewy like meat, however, the reserved tofu strips were nice and caramelized. But just for reference, using ground tempeh or seitan would definitely be a better soy-protein substitute. Tofu still provides tasty results.

Green Beans with Tofu and Shiitake Crumble
1/2 lb fresh green beans, tips removed, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 inch piece peeled ginger root, grated
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp hoisin or bean sauce
1 tsp mirin or rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 pack braised tofu or extra-firm tofu, ground seitan or tempeh
7 – 10 fresh shiitake mushrooms, minced
1/2 tbsp corn starch with 4 tbsp water
sesame oil
cilantro or green onions for garnish

Start by pressing the liquid from the tofu by wrapping it with paper towels and placing a heavy object, like a skillet, over the whole or halved piece of tofu. Let sit for 10 – 30 minutes then crumble 3/4ths of the tofu with your hands. Chop the rest into strips. Mix crumbled tofu with minced shiitake.

In a small bowl, mix together minced garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin, vinegar/mirin, and sugar. Set aside.

Heat a large wok or deep pan over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil and add the reserved tofu strips. Saute until golden brown, flipping only a few times (~5 minutes). Add the green beans with 1/4 of sauce mixture until green bean skins begin to pucker, about 6 – 7 minutes. Keep moving or they will burn. If you feel they are burning too much, add a little water, cover, and steam green beans. Season with pepper. Remove from wok and set mixture aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil and saute the tofu and mushroom mixture until tofu has browned. Add the rest of the sauce mixture and stir fry for a moment until garlic and ginger are no longer raw, about 1 minute. Add cornstarch and water until absorbed or thickened. Add chopped cilantro or green onion, if desired, and toss for a minute.

Spoon crumble over green beans. Garnish with cilantro or fresh green onions. Serve with a bowl of brown rice.

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Thai-Style Peanut, Red-Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

There are very little Thai options where I live and the place that I go to has some pretty soupy curry that I’m not a fan of (but their pineapple fried rice is off-the-hook). I’m almost positive that they use store-bought, Mae-Ploy brand Red Curry. But because both Thai dishes and curries are so complex in flavor and have an extensive ingredient list, buying pre-made* curry paste is the way to go especially if you can’t find all the ingredients or if you’re a thai-food noob like me.

I’m still learning about the different curries that pop out of Thailand. Apparently, panang curry, while similar in flavor to red curry, sometimes contains ground peanuts. I didn’t know that and added peanuts to this recipe which calls for red curry. Panang curry is also traditionally thicker; using coconut cream, as opposed to coconut milk. Authenticity has taken a leave of absence with this recipe which is why I’ve referred to this recipe as thai-style. baww.

Thai-Style Peanut, Red-Curry with Tofu and Vegetables
2 tbsp thai red-curry paste (MaePloy Yellow Curry is vegetarian)
1/2 8oz can (light) coconut milk or cream
1 heaping tbsp chunky peanut butter
1/2 c. slivered onions or 1 whole shallot, chopped
1 Japanese eggplant, cut into chunks
1 small head of broccoli, chopped

1/2 large bell pepper cut in small strips
1/4 c. defrosted peas or a handful of sugarsnap peas

1 package extra-firm tofu
1/4 c. thai basil, or cilantro– or a combination

First, drain tofu: Place paper towels underneath and over tofu brick (cut in half if you like), and place a heavy weight on top. You may also squeeze liquid out with a cheesecloth. Let sit for 10 minutes before cutting into small chunks. While the tofu is draining, salt eggplant and let drain if it contains dark, bitter seeds.

Heat a bit of peanut oil or olive oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. Toss in tofu and cook half-way to golden-brown. Toss in eggplant and onions, if using. Cook until slightly softened. At this point, toss in shallots and bell-peppers (and sugar snap peas). Scoop out peanut butter and red-curry and toss in pan, to pick up some roasted flavor. At this point, pour in coconut milk and frozen peas, stir, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. Add more coconut milk or water to change viscosity of your curry. I like mine chunky and thick so 1/2 the can was perfect. Toss with your fresh herbs.

Serve over steamed brown rice

*NOTE: Depending on the brand of red-curry or if you make it yourself, it may come with shrimp paste as an ingredient. A Taste of Thai is vegetarian but has some weird ingredients but recommended brands such as MaePloy and Hand brand contain Shrimp Paste except for the Yellow Curry which is good but has a different flavor profile (Star Anise). Check your ingredients!

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Asparagus and Oyster Mushroom Gratin with Spinach Chiffonade

I love baked eggs. If you’re vegetarian, eggs and egg whites are like, the perfect source of protein– especially whites, with lower cholesterol, fat, and calories. This is a recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times that incorporates bitter asparagus, creamy eggs, and unami oyster mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms apparently have the same taste as oysters but I can never find it anywhere. I bought King Oyster Mushrooms or King Trumpet Mushrooms that have a huge, fat stalk and a tiny head which can be found in most Asian Markets (maybe Whole Foods).

Asparagus and Oyster Mushroom Gratin with Spinach Chiffonade
Adapted from Vegetarian Times
2 lbs thin asparagus
2 cups sliced Oyster Mushrooms
3 eggs
1/4 cup non-fat or low-fat milk
1/2 cup Gruy
ère or Swiss Cheese, grated
fresh spinach leaves, rolled, sliced thinly
splash of lemon juice
Olive Oil, S & P, 4 – 6 oz. ramekins

Preheat oven to 500F. On a baking pan, toss asparagus with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Bake for 5 – 7 minutes until ends are slightly wilted but the stem is green. Remove and, when cool, chop into 1/2 inch pieces, reserving the tips. Reduce heat to 375F.

Slice oyster mushrooms and heat olive oil in a pan. Evenly spread out mushrooms and let it cook, without disturbing, for about 5 minutes. Stir and repeat until mushrooms are browned. Remove and set aside.

Place asparagus stems (reserve tips) into a food processor. Add milk and process for about a minute until pureed. Lightly beat eggs and whisk into milk-asparagus puree. Slowly add cheese and a splash of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, if needed. Brush ramekins with oil and fill 3/4th of the way with mixture. Bake for 25 – 35 minutes until tops are browned. Sprinkle with cheese 20 minutes through and allow to set.

Top with sliced spinach leaves and a sprinkling of lemon-infused olive oil.

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Vegetarian Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms

This will probably be reedited or reposted because I was hoping for something far more juicy but this was still a super delicious vegemetarian stuffed mushroom recipe. I didn’t use mozzarella in mine because I have no mozz! My house is about to be FUMIGATED so I’m not allowed to buy new things– just use up the old stuff.

The one thing about mushrooms I love is that it can have a delicious meaty flavor while still being a non-meat product. Honestly, I’ve hated on mushrooms for almost my whole life (unless it’s on pizza) and found out that the common button mushroom is the culprit. I’ve never really tried using some stranger varieties of mushrooms until I bought and reconstituted a dried wild mushroom mix in a wild mushroom pasta dish: Oyster, Shiitake, Maitake– so rich and earthy! It’s seriously on a different level than those boring common mushrooms.

Stuffed Crimini Mushrooms
15 large crimini mushrooms and maybe 2 extra for stuffing
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1/4 c. minced onions
1/4. c. shredded fresh parmesan and mozzarella, more for garnish
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs
(minced fresh parsley)

Preheat oven to 350F.

Remove the stems from the caps. Chop up the stems, very finely– onions and garlic should be the same size as mushroom stems. Remove some of the gills from the caps just for more room. You’ll want about equal parts onion and mushroom and you’ll probably need an extra whole mushroom or two as they will shrink during cooking. Chop up your vegs and grate the cheese.

In a saute pan, cook the onions over medium to medium-high heat in a bit of olive oil, stirring often until softened. Season with salt and pepper and add garlic and mushroom and cook until the mushrooms have shrunk a bit. Add parsley if you like and cook for 30 seconds to remove bitter flavor. Remove from heat and let cool. Mix in breadcrumbs and cheese, slowly, bit-by-bit. Taste, season with salt and pepper.

Stuff mushrooms and top with some fresh mozzarella. Place mushrooms on a oiled baking sheet. Cook in the middle rack for about 10 to 15 minutes, taking care not to burn the mushroom.

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Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Eggplant

I dog-sat for my boyfriend’s parents this weekend. Awesome, in the sense that three ginormous weimaraners are allowed all over the furniture (Aki, my blue girl, came by and helped and even got to sleep on his queen-sized bed with me for a night) but meh because one of the weims gets separation anxiety and before I leave, I have to put them away and everything and calbear sits on me at 6AM to make me feed him (even though he gets fed at 7!)

With limited supplies and time (finals to study for), I needed to make something quick, fresh, and healthy. I did a quick stir-fry. Pretty easy, no? Well, it really is. Broccoli is so good and I had some leftovers from the frittata and I love eggplant. When I was little, my parents would eat sea cucumber (we’re asian) and I never liked the texture– it’s slimey, crunchy, and just weird. In my brain, I somehow thought eggplant was sea cucumber and I never ate it. However, the first time I really started cooking, I cooked Italian and Lidia Bastianich (host of Lidia’s Italy) made such wonderful dishes with eggplant (which compelled me to finally try eggplant parm).

Anyways, so yes…eggplant.

we have a love-hate relationship-- hate here, as he sits on the top of the stairs looking down at me as usual like he be alpha.

Beef Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Eggplant
3/4 oz. Stir-Fry beef, Sirloin beef tips, cut against the grain or firm Tofu (you vegetarians, you!)
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp corn starch

1 head broccoli, cleaned, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed, minced
1 small eggplant or 1/2 a large globe eggplant, chopped
1/3 c. water
1 green onion chopped,  some reserved for garnish

(1/2 tsp garlic-chili sauce)

In a small bowl, mix up the beef and cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

In a wok (or a well-oiled, deep frying pan), heat up the vegetable oil over medium-high to high heat. The idea behind stir-frying is pretty much heat it over very, very high heat, very quickly. You can’t reach the same temperatures as in an actual restaurant but we want to duplicate it as much as possible. Stir-fry beef until just cooked– about a minute. Transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon and tent with foil to keep warm.

Add another tablespoon of vegetable oil if needed and stir-fry garlic, broccoli and eggplant for about 2 to 3 minutes until garlic is just starting to become colored. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, (and garlic-chili if you decided to use it) and water and stir. Bring to a boil and return meat into the wok. Cook until the sauce is thickened and eggplant is soft. Add green onion and toss for a minute. Serve over fresh brown rice and garnish with more green onion, cilantro, and/or sesame seeds.

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