I think making dumplings is so therapeutic. Here’s a simple recipe for tofu wontons with a savory yellow curry broth. It’s one of my favorite dumpling and broth combinations!
When I was in college (my goodness, has it been 10 years already??), Mama Lin often made platters of pork dumplings that she froze and bagged for me to take back to school. Like most Asian mothers, Mama Lin worried that I wouldn’t be able to cook for myself once I moved away from home. Whenever I went back to SF for the weekend, she packed my car trunk with so much food. Honestly, I could have fed a family of 5 for an entire week.
Making these tofu wontons reminded me of those college days. But instead of simply cooking the dumplings in boiling water, I made the dish more sophisticated by serving the wontons with a yellow curry broth. We should always aim higher when we get older, right?
(By the way, serving these wontons with fried tofu puffs is delicious, too.)
COOKING NOTES FOR THE TOFU WONTONS
Wontons (雲吞/云吞): Literally translated, “wonton” means swallowing clouds, and it is the Cantonese way of calling these soup dumplings, which float like clouds when they’re done cooking. In Mandarin, this variety of dumplings are called hundun (餛飩/馄炖). Southern-style wontons use thin wrappers for the dumplings, while northern-style hundun use thicker wrappers.
Wrappers: I typically by my wrappers from Asian supermarkets because it is much more convenient than making my own. The brands I use are New Hong Kong Noodle Co. and Wyzen Foods, both of which are based in the Bay Area. If you are shopping in a typical grocery store, you’d probably find Nasoya wrappers.
Folding dumplings: For those of you who need visuals, here is the folding technique for the wontons. I also made a video of the folding, which you can watch here.
You can make these dumplings ahead of time. Place the dumplings over a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Make sure that you don’t cluster the dumplings too close together or they might get stuck. After a few hours, transfer the dumplings to a freezer bag. Whatever you do, DO NOT store the uncooked dumplings in the refrigerator. The moisture from the filling will cause the dumplings to turn soggy and you’ll end up with a right mess. That’s no good.
Author: Lisa Lin
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
Yield: Serves 5
Yellow Curry Broth
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger (about a 1-inch piece of ginger)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons yellow curry powder (mild spice)
6 cups vegetable broth*
1/2 teaspoon salt, add more if necessary
3/4 cup (175ml) full-fat coconut milk (can sub with low-fat coconut milk)
about 45 to 50 square dumpling wrappers
1 package of firm tofu (I used a 14-ounce package)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups shredded green cabbage (ensure they are no longer than 1-inch pieces)
1 large carrot, grated (about 1 1/4 cups)
pinch of salt
4 scallions, sliced
black sesame seeds
Prepare the Broth: I like preparing the curry broth before making the dumplings because this allows more time for the flavors of the broth to develop.
Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a pot. Add the minced ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and stir to coat the spices.
Add the vegetable broth and 1/2 teaspoon salt, cover the pot, and bring the broth to boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and swirl in the coconut milk. Let the broth simmer for about 10 minutes, covered. Turn off the heat and let the broth sit on the stove, covered, as you make the dumplings.
Make the Dumplings
Drain the tofu and wrap the tofu around a layer of paper towels. Press the tofu by placing the tofu block over a plate and weighing it down with a stack of plates. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the towels and cut the tofu into small 1/4-inch cubes.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the minced ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the cabbage, carrots, and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the tofu and scallions to the pan and add another pinch of salt. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste the filling. You want the the filling to be a smidgen saltier than you would normally prefer. The wonton wrappers will mellow out the saltiness of the filling.
Get your dumpling-making station set up. Transfer the filling into a large bowl. Take the wrappers out of the packaging. Have a small bowl filled with water, a large baking sheet, and 2 kitchen or linen towels ready. The wrappers and the dumplings dry out pretty quickly. Use one towel to cover the wrappers and another large towel to cover the finished dumplings.
Dip a finger into the bowl of water and wet 2 adjacent sides of the dumpling wrappers. Spoon about 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling into the center of the wrapper. Seal the wrapper on the diagonal (dry sides over the wet sides) so that you end up with a triangle shape. Press down on the sides to make sure that you have the dumpling properly sealed. You don’t want the filling to release while they’re cooking.
Lightly wet one of the base corners of the folded triangle, and fold the dumpling in half so that the other base corner overlaps the wet corner. Repeat until you have all the dumplings filled. If you need a visual, refer to the photos above or watch this video for my folding technique.
Check the curry broth and see whether it’s still warm enough for your liking. If not, heat it up over medium-low heat and keep it simmering on low as you cook the dumplings.
Bring a big pot of water to boil. Add about half of the dumplings into the boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. All the dumplings should float to the top. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a bowl and add the remaining dumplings into the hot water.
Ladle some of the curry broth into a bowl and serve with the dumplings. Top with chili oil and black sesame seeds, if you like.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount per serving: Calories: 420, Total Fat 14.8g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 8.6mg, Sodium: 1859mg, Total Carbohydrate: 57.3g, Dietary Fiber: 4.2g, Sugar: 6.2g, Protein 17g
*You can also make the broth with a combination of vegetable broth and water. You may need to add a little more salt.
I served the wontons with baby bok choy. I cooked it by blanching it in the hot water I used to cook the wontons (the heat was off at this point). It doesn’t take long to cook the baby bok choy—2 to 3 minutes should be enough.
Have you ever tried making kimchi at home? This vegan kimchi is a great place to start. It’s mildly spicy with a hint of sweetness and all the pungent flavors of kimchi!
Small Batch Vegan Kimchi - YouTube
When I posted this picture of a test batch of vegan kimchi a few months ago, a lot of people asked me what made my test batch vegan. Isn’t kimchi just fermented vegetables? It dawned on me that not everyone knows that many varieties of kimchi are seasoned with seafood (fish sauce, salted shrimp, etc.). Heck, I sure didn’t know about it until I started making my own last year.
Let me first back up and say that there are many, many varieties of kimchi and not all of them use seafood or meat stock for flavoring. But a vast majority of them do, especially the familiar baechu kimchi that we see in Korean restaurants.
The process of making kimchi is not as intimidating as it may seem, though it does require time and patience—at least a week. By the end of week, however, you’ll be rewarded with a batch of tasty, pungent kimchi!
KIMCHI MAKING PROCESS
There are essentially 4 phases to making kimchi: brining, seasoning, fermentation, and storing. For many kimchi recipes, you’ll need to brine a head of napa cabbage in salt water overnight. Brining is important for breaking down the cabbage, allowing it to absorb the seasonings that you’ll add in the next phase. It also helps develop deeper flavor for the kimchi.
The next phase is seasoning the vegetables. The seasoning for baechu kimchi is usually made with a starter rice flour paste that is blended with Korean chili pepper flakes (gochugaru) and other spices.
After mixing the vegetables with the seasoning, we move on to the fermentation phase. Because the vegetables contain naturally occurring yeast, you don’t need to add bacterial cultures to ferment the vegetables. Store the vegetables away from sunlight at room temperature in tightly sealed jars. I like using wide-mouth canning jars like this one and this one, but wide-mouth mason jars work, too. Ideally, the room temperature should be somewhere around the 60s and low 70s fahrenheit during the initial fermentation. If the temperature is any warmer, just pop the jar into your fridge. The colder temperatures mean a longer initial fermentation period (around a week instead of 3 to 4 days at room temperature).
As the vegetables ferment, do not be tempted to open the jar. When you open the jar, you expose the vegetables to oxygen, which disrupts the fermentation process and can cause mold. You may also notice juice building up inside the jar and bubbling within the liquid. That’s perfectly normal. It’s an indication that lactic acid is active and the vegetables are fermenting properly.
Once you have fermented the kimchi at room temperature for a few days, you’ll transfer it to the refrigerator for final fermentation and storage. I usually let the kimchi sit in the refrigerator for another 3 or 4 days before tasting it.
Again, I know this seems like a long process, but the actual steps aren’t too complicated. After making my own kimchi, I don’t think I can go back to store-bought ones anymore!
COOKING NOTES FOR THE VEGAN KIMCHI
The recipe requires making a paste from glutinous rice flour. You can find glutinous rice flour easily in Asian supermarkets. Bob’s Red Mill’s sweet rice flour works, too. However, we’ll only use 1 tablespoon of the flour, so I don’t blame you if you don’t buy a bag of rice flour for a limited purpose. Cornstarch should also work.
Instead of using fish sauce and salted shrimp for the seasoning paste, I’m using soy sauce and ground porcini mushrooms for this vegan kimchi. I usually buy a small package of dried porcini mushrooms and grind it with a coffee grinder dedicated for my spices.
The reason why I made a small batch kimchi recipe is because my husband doesn’t enjoy eating kimchi as much as I do, and it’s difficult for me to eat a huge batch by myself!
This vegan kimchi recipe yields just under a liter of kimchi. I used an Asian pear in this recipe because I like how sweet and juicy they are, and they help make a nice seasoning paste. If Asian pears are not readily available, feel free to use a sweet apple, such as fuji apples.
4 scallions, light green and white portions, sliced
1 Asian pear (shinko), diced into cubes
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
1 tablespoon porcini mushroom powder (optional)
1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 cup julienned daikon (Japanese turnip)
4 scallions, dark green part, sliced into 2-inch chunks
Brine the Napa Cabbage
Rinse the napa cabbage thoroughly and remove any discolored leaves. Slice the napa cabbage into 2 halves, and slice each portion in half again, so you have 4 quarters.
In a large bowl, stir the kosher salt with 8 cups of water, until the salt dissolves. Carefully place the cabbage into the brine. If it doesn’t look like there is enough water to fully submerge the cabbage, top off the bowl with more water. Place a plate over the cabbage to keep the vegetables submerged under water.
Cover the bowl and let it sit at room temperature overnight. Drain and rinse the cabbage.
Take each section of the cabbage and slice it in half to get 2 long strips. Slice the strips into 1 1/2 to 2-inch pieces.
Prepare the Seasoning
Mix the rice flour with 2/3 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring the water to boil over medium heat. Stir the mixture constantly to break up the clumps of rice flour. The mixture should start to thicken in 1 to 2 minutes. Let the mixture simmer for 1 minute and turn off the heat. You should have a thick mixture that looks like pudding. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stick it into the fridge to cool.
Once the rice mixture has cooled to about room temperature, transfer it to a food processor. Add the gochugaru, garlic, ginger, light green and white portions of the scallions, asian pear, salt, soy sauce, and porcini mushroom powder. Blend everything until you get a smooth mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl, if necessary.
Transfer the napa cabbage pieces to a large bowl. Add the carrots, daikon, and dark green parts of the scallions. Stir to combine the vegetables.
Pour the seasoning mixture over the vegetables. Wearing gloves, thoroughly rub the seasoning into the vegetables. You want to wear gloves because seasoning stains and the spice from the peppers can be too much for your hands. If you don’t have gloves, you can also stick your hands into plastic produce bags.
Carefully transfer the kimchi to a sterilized canning or mason jar. Pack in the kimchi and seal the jar. Let it sit at room temperature in a cool, dark place for 3 to 4 days. DO NOT open the jar during this initial fermentation period. This will expose the kimchi to oxygen and can lead to mold. If you notice juice and bubbles forming in the vegetables, don’t worry. That’s exactly what you want to see.
Transfer the jar to the back of your fridge and let it sit there for another 3 to 4 days.
Taste the kimchi. If you prefer more sour kimchi, leave it in the fridge for a few more days. The kimchi will continue to ferment over time. Otherwise, serve it with your favorite foods!
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount per serving: Calories: 59, Total Fat 1g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 999mg, Total Carbohydrate: 12.1g, Dietary Fiber: 3.3g, Sugar: 4.3g, Protein 2.8g
I sterilize my jars by running very hot water inside the jars and letting them air dry before canning.
This soba noodles dish is easy to prepare and it is incredibly tasty. The noodles are tossed with a light almond butter sauce and served with sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and scallions. Ready in just 20 minutes!
In Japanese, soba means buckwheat, so soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour. If you’re buying soba noodles from the store, which is what I usually do, you’ll mostly likely see noodles that are made from a combination of wheat and buckwheat flour. They get the job done, but the important thing to note is that those noodles won’t be gluten free. Eden Foods is the only brand I’ve seen so far that produces a dried, 100% buckwheat soba noodles. Buckwheat flour doesn’t contain gluten, but the Eden Foods soba noodles are produced in a facility that also processes foods that handles wheat.
Soba noodles a great for weeknight meals because they cook very quickly—about 4 to 5 minutes in boiling water. In this recipe, I’m flavoring the noodles with a sauce that’s made with a combination of almond butter, soy sauce, and a few other seasonings. It’s light and nutty with a hint of sweetness. If you don’t have almond butter, just substitute it with whatever nut or seed butter you have at home.
These noodles may look simple, but I promise that once you start eating them, you won’t be able to stop. I ate this for lunch and dinner several days straight, and I wanted more!
If you prefer other nut/seed butters, feel free to use it instead of almond butter. However, avoid flavored nut/seed butters, such as coconut peanut butter or vanilla almond butter. These additional flavors will alter the taste of the dish significantly (perhaps not in a good way).
Author: Lisa Lin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
10 ounces soba noodles
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar (any other sweetener works too, even jam!)
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)
1 cup sliced cucumber
1/2 large bell pepper, sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced*
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water.
In a bowl, mix the soy sauce, almond butter, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and onion powder (if using). If you have an immersion blender, use it! It will save you a lot of time. Transfer the ingredients to a jar, and blend the sauce with the immersion blender.
Divide the noodles, cucumbers, peppers, and scallions into 2 bowls. This will make tossing the noodles a lot easier. Drizzle half of the sauce into each bowl. Toss everything together. Taste and add a pinch of salt to the noodles, if necessary.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount per serving: Calories: 434, Total Fat 11.1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 994mg, Total Carbohydrate: 76.4g, Dietary Fiber: 2.8g, Sugar: 15.8g, Protein 15.3g
*Because the light green and white parts of scallions have a stronger raw bite, chop those parts more finely.
These easy green curry noodles are flavorful and filling. All you need to do is blend ingredients for the curry broth, simmer the broth, and cook the noodles. It takes only 20 minutes to make!
For me, nothing beats a good bowl of curry noodles on a weeknight. It’s so comforting, like putting a blanket over my body on a cold day. Typically, when I make curry noodles, I sauté garlic, onions, and ginger for several minutes before adding curry paste, broth, and coconut milk. I simplified the cooking process in this green curry noodles recipe by blending all ingredients for the broth first before simmering. That way, you don’t need to spend as much time finely chopping the spices or cooking the broth. The flavor is still all there!
COOKING NOTES FOR THE GREEN CURRY NOODLES
Cooking rice noodles: Flat rice noodles tend to stick to each other when they cook. Stir the noodles several times as they’re cooking to keep them apart.
Adjusting the amount of broth: Although the noodles are flavored with a broth, this isn’t exactly a noodle soup recipe. You can add more vegetable broth (2 more cups should do), but you will also need to adjust the other seasonings, such as adding more curry paste and coconut milk.
RECIPES WITH CILANTRO, MINT, OR BASIL
Now that you’ve bought a bunch of cilantro, mint, and basil for this recipe and only used about 1/4 of each, what else can you do with the herbs? Here are a few tasty recipe ideas:
In this recipe, I use a high-speed blender to blend all the ingredients for the curry broth. Check the notes for instructions on how to make the broth with a food processor and an immersion blender.
Feel free to serve the noodles with additional vegetables or protein.
Author: Lisa Lin
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
3 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk*
1 1/2 tablespoons green curry paste
1/2 teaspoon salt, add more to taste
1/3 cup fresh basil
1/3 cup mint
1/4 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
4 cloves garlic
1 large shallot, chopped into large chunks**
12 ounces flat rice noodles
Add the broth, coconut milk, curry paste, salt, basil, mint, cilantro, garlic, and shallots into a high speed blender, in that order. Blend until smooth.
Transfer the broth to a small pot and bring it to boil. Then, simmer on low as you cook the noodles.
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the noodles for 4 to 7 minutes, depending on the type of noodles you are using. Vermicelli cooks very quickly while wider flat rice noodles take more time. Stir the noodles occasionally to keep them from sticking together. Drain the noodles and rinse under cold water.
Divide the noodles into four bowls and ladle some broth over the noodles. Stir the noodles with the broth and serve.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount per serving: Calories: 428, Total Fat 8.6g, Saturated Fat: 7.3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 900mg, Total Carbohydrate: 79g, Dietary Fiber: 3.2g, Sugar: 4g, Protein 7.4g
*For a lighter broth, use light coconut milk.
**You should get about 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the shallots when they’re chopped into chunks.
If you don’t have a high-speed blender, here are some alternative methods for making the curry broth. Food processor: Add the coconut milk, curry paste, salt, basil, mint, cilantro, garlic, and shallots to your food processor and blend until you get a paste. Transfer the paste to a pot, add the broth, and stir to combine. Immersion blender: First, roughly chop the herbs, garlic, and shallots. Then, add all the ingredients (except the noodles) into a pot and blend with an immersion blender.
Ever wondered how long it takes to cook dried chickpeas? Here’s a handy guide on how to cook chickpeas 3 ways: stovetop, slow cooker, and Instant Pot.
Some of you are probably reading the title of this post and wondering, “Why would I bother cooking chickpeas when I can just buy them in a can?” One word: texture.
I will be the first to admit that canned chickpeas are very convenient for weeknight meals. However, I actually prefer chickpeas cooked slightly al dente, when they still have a light crunch as I bite into them. They’re better for salads, and I love snacking on them. And yes, I do actually eat chickpeas as a snack.
Of course, others may prefer chickpeas on the softer side and that’s completely fine! That’s the beauty of cooking chickpeas yourself—you get to control the texture of the beans to your liking.
In general, it is a good idea to soak your chickpeas for at least 8 hours (overnight is even better). The soaking speeds up the cooking process. The chickpeas will soak up water and expand over time, so be sure to use the right sized bowl.
If you are using unsoaked beans, I recommend cooking them in the pressure cooker because it is faster. You can also cook unsoaked beans in the slow cooker on low for 8 hours. The chickpeas will be al dente—still fully cooked but not as tender.
How to Cook Chickpeas 3 Ways: Stovetop, Slow Cooker & Instant Pot
In this basic recipe, I am cooking the chickpeas with water, bay leaves, garlic, and salt. Feel free to use broth or any other herbs, such as thyme or oregano. If you are cooking the beans with broth, you can save the chickpea broth for soups and stews.
Author: Lisa Lin
Yield: About 3 to 4 cups
1 cup dried chickpeas
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 bay leaves
1/2 to 1 tablespoon kosher salt*
Soak the chickpeas with water overnight or for at least 8 hours. You want to cover the beans with about 2 inches of water. The chickpeas expand as it soaks, so be sure to use a large enough bowl for soaking. Before cooking the chickpeas, drain the water and rinse the beans.
STOVETOP METHOD: Transfer the soaked chickpeas to a large saucepan or a small pot. Cover the chickpeas with water by 2 inches. Add the garlic, bay leaves, and salt. Bring the water to boil, then reduce the heat slightly and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes for firmer beans, 40 to 50 minutes for softer beans.
SLOW COOKER METHOD: Transfer the soaked beans and cover with 6 cups of water, garlic, bay leaves, and salt to a slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
INSTANT POT METHOD: Transfer the soaked beans, 4 cups of water, garlic, bay leaves, and salt to an Instant Pot. Set the Instant Pot to manual mode, and cook on high pressure for 12 to 20 minutes, depending on your preference. I liked mine at 12 minutes. Once the cooking time is up, let the pressure naturally release before opening the lid. If you are using unsoaked beans, you will need to cook the chickpeas for at least 35 to 40 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
The beans will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. You can also freeze chickpeas for a few months.
I prefer cooking the beans with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. If you are using sea salt, use 2 teaspoons of salt.
This easy egg fried rice is something that I cook every other week. It’s a no-fuss meal, made with seven key ingredients: rice, eggs, olive oil, onions, frozen vegetables, scallions, and soy sauce (option to add sesame oil). Better than take-out!
You would be hard-pressed to find a Chinese household that doesn’t enjoy a good bowl of fried rice. (I don’t actually know this for a fact, but I am 95% certain it is true.) Growing up, whenever I saw a large bowl of cooked rice in the kitchen, I would cross my fingers and wait with eager anticipation to see if it was fried rice night. The flavor of rice mixed with eggs, vegetables and a thin layer of soy sauce was something that brought comfort to my belly.
It probably comes as no surprise that I cook fried rice very frequently. Not only do I find this dish comforting, but it is also so darn easy to make. All you really need are rice, eggs, vegetables, and soy sauce. Once you get the into the rhythm of this basic egg fried rice recipe, play around with it! Substitute rice for quinoa, add other vegetables or protein—do whatever suits your taste.
COOKING NOTES FOR THE EGG FRIED RICE
Using the right type of rice: Fried rice is usually a dish that you make to repurpose the leftover cooked rice from the day before. You want to avoid freshly cooked rice because it is still moist and steamy, which may yield fried rice with a mushy texture. However, if you forget about cooking rice the day before, here is a little trick that I use. I spread a layer freshly cooked rice onto large baking sheets and let the rice air out for about 2 hours, the longer the better. The grains of rice will dry out during this process.
Using packagedrice:For this recipe, I experimented with using packaged pre-cooked rice, which is what you see in the photos. These packages usually contain 2 cups of cooked rice, so you’ll need 2 of them for the recipe. The rice is fine, especially if you are too busy during the week to cook rice. However, it is definitely more expensive than buying rice and cooking it yourself (I sound like a mother here). I also found a slight smell when I opened the packages (probably from whatever preservatives the manufacturer used) but not enough to make me throw the rice straight to the trash. Ultimately, I recommend cooking the rice yourself, but hey, I understand if you don’t have time for that.
I like chunks of egg in my fried rice, which is why I scrambled 3 eggs separately. If you are feeling lazy, scramble all the eggs with the vegetables before you add the rice to the pan. You don’t want to add all 4 eggs after the rice is in the pan because you’ll likely end up with soggy fried rice, and no one likes that.
You want to cook the rice at a pretty high temperature. This prevents the fried rice from being mushy. I can get quite a big flame on my stove at a medium-high heat, but some of you may need to turn the heat to high.
Author: Lisa Lin
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
4 large eggs, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
*1 cup diced red onion (about 1 small onion)
1 1/3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
3 stalks of scallions, sliced
4 cups cooked brown jasmine rice
2 tablespoons soy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
Crack 3 eggs into a small bowl and beat them together. Beat the last egg in a separate bowl.
Heat a large sauté pan or a wok with 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the 3 beaten eggs and scramble them for about a minute. Transfer the eggs to a dish and turn off the heat. Wipe off the pan or work with a kitchen towel.
Drizzle the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in the pan or work over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook them for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the mixed vegetables and scallions and cook for another minute. I like to save some of the scallions (the dark green part) for garnish.
Add the cooked rice into the pan or work and cook for a few minutes, until the rice is heated through. If you have large clumps of rice, break them apart with the back of your spatula. Pour the single beaten over the rice and stir to coat the rice with the egg. Cook for another minute.
Add the soy sauce and sesame oil (if using) and stir to distribute the sauces. Add the 3 scrambled eggs and stir to mix again. Serve immediately.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount per serving: Calories: 404, Total Fat 14.5g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 186mg, Sodium: 530mg, Total Carbohydrate: 55.2g, Dietary Fiber: 5.8g, Sugar: 2.2g, Protein 13g
*I used red onion mainly for color. You can use yellow or white onions instead.
I love the nutty flavor that toasted sesame oil adds to dishes, which is why I included it in the recipe. Not everyone likes sesame oil. My sister certainly doesn’t. You can still make a tasty fried rice without the sesame oil, so feel free to omit it.
Prep healthy meals for the week ahead with mason jar salads. This one is filled with hearty quinoa, butternut squash, red curry tofu, and vegetables. It is dressed with a naturally sweetened apple cider vinaigrette.
Thank you to Nature’s Intent Apple Cider Vinegar for sponsoring this post!
One of my big, big goals this year is to be more prepared about my meals during the week. I once thought that one of the perks of working from home was that I could live a healthier lifestyle. In theory, I have more flexibility to work out and cook healthy, home-cooked meals every day. Well, the truth is that I haven’t been living up to that ideal. I find myself grazing all day because I don’t have clearly defined meal times. To make matters worse, I actually went to the gym less often because I wanted to carry on working instead of exercising. By the end of last year, I felt sluggish and tired.
This year, I’ve been putting my best foot forward. Ever since I got back from my vacation in Europe, I go to bed between 9:30 and 10:30 and wake up at 6:00 in the morning. Then, I workout at 7:00 and start work right after that. I never thought I would be a consistent exercise-in-the-morning type of person, but this routine has left me feeling excellent so far. I just have much more energy to get through my work day!
Another key to my healthier lifestyle is meal prepping on the weekends. I’ve committed my Sunday afternoons to chopping vegetables, cooking grains and legumes, and prepping as many meals as I can. Mason jar salads have been a phenomenal breakthrough for me. I prepare several veggie-packed mason jars at a time so that I have easy meals that I can plop onto a plate and enjoy throughout the week. Lunches no longer consist of me eating crackers and cheese!
In this basic mason jar salad recipe, I packed together roasted butternut squash, quinoa, vegetables, and tofu. To dress the salad, I made a vinaigrette using olive oil, Nature’s Intent Apple Cider Vinegar, orange juice, sesame oil, garlic and salt and pepper. It’s a light and tangy vinaigrette that goes well in any salad. You can tweak the vinaigrette recipe by adding dried oregano, chopped scallions or even finely diced shallots!
COOKING NOTES FOR THE MASON JAR SALAD
The order of packing the mason jar salad: Stick to the order I’ve outlined in the recipe. I poured the vinaigrette into the bottom of the jar so that it doesn’t seep into the more delicate ingredients, such as the greens. Then, I layered on the firm vegetables—ingredients that won’t absorb too much of the vinaigrette over time. After adding the grains, proteins, and seeds, I stuffed the top of the jars with greens so that they won’t wilt as quickly.
Variations: The main protein in this salad is red curry tofu (it’s SO GOOD, by the way). For those of you who aren’t as keen on tofu, you can sauté the red curry sauce with beans, tempeh, chicken, shrimp, or whatever protein you prefer.
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (or use tamari if gluten free)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (brown sugar or honey works, too)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Mason Jar Salads
4 32-ounce wide-mouth canning jars
1 large red bell pepper, diced
2 to 3 cups roasted butternut squash, cubed
2 cups cooked quinoa
4 tablespoons sunflower seeds
4 to 5 cups mixed greens
Prepare the vinaigrette: Combine all the vinaigrette ingredients into a jar. Cover with a lid and shake until the ingredients are combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Set it aside.
Prepare the tofu: Drain the tofu and wrap the tofu blocks around a layer of paper towels to dry the tofu even more. If you squeeze the block of tofu, and notice that it squishes pretty easily, you’ll need to press the tofu. Place each wrapped tofu block onto a separate plate. Then, add a stack of plates over each block of tofu. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes to press out some of the liquid. Pressing isn’t necessary if your tofu block feels firm.
Prepare the red curry sauce: Mix the red curry paste, soy sauce, maple syrup (or brown sugar/honey), and toasted sesame oil in a small bowl. Set it aside.
Cook the tofu: Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Heat 2 large non-stick pans over medium-high heat with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil in each pan. Add the tofu cubes and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, flipping the tofu a few times to brown some of the sides. Consolidate the tofu into one pan. Pour the red curry sauce into the pan and stir to coat the tofu with the sauce. Cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until the sauce fully soaks into the tofu. Turn off the heat and let the tofu cool for 15 minutes.
Assemble the mason jar salads: Grab the vinaigrette. You’ll notice that the oil has separated. Give the jar a good shake to combine the ingredients before assembling the salad. Gather all your mason jar salad ingredients together, as well as the 4 mason jars. Add the following ingredients into each jar in this order: 3 to 4 tablespoons of vinaigrette, 1/4 of the diced bell pepper, 1/2 to 2/3 cup roasted butternut squash, 1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1/4 of the batch of red curry tofu, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, small handful of mixed greens (about 1 cup). Seal the jars and store them in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount for 1 mason jar salad without dressing: Calories: 463, *Total Fat 25.3g, Saturated Fat: 3.7g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 625mg, Total Carbohydrate: 43g, Dietary Fiber: 8.4g, Sugar: 9.2g, Protein 22.8g
ROASTING BUTTERNUT SQUASH: If you don’t have roasted butternut squash ready to go, start with a squash that is about 1 1/2-pounds. You can roast a larger one and use the leftover squash for something else. Peel, trim and deseed the squash. Chop the squash into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and roast at 375ºF for 30 minutes, or until fork tender. For those of you who buy packages of cubed butternut squash, 10 ounces of the squash should be enough.
COOKING QUINOA: If you don’t have the quinoa ready to go, grab a large saucepan and boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Once the water boils, cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 to 18 minutes, until liquids are absorbed by the quinoa. Turn off the heat and let the quinoa sit for an additional 10 minutes before fluffing up with a fork.
It is essential that you use a non-stick pan to fry the tofu. Otherwise, it will stick to the bottom of your pans constantly, and that’s just annoying.
These delicious and filling stuffed pita pockets are made with just SIX basic ingredients: pita, eggplant, sun-dried tomato, hummus, mixed greens, and bell peppers. (Olive oil, salt, and pepper don’t count because they’re the essentials for any dish!) These stuffed pitas are a healthy meal for weekdays.
A few weeks ago, I sent an email to some of my closest friends, asking them what they usually cooked on weeknights. All of these friends are young professionals who usually don’t have much time to prepare dinner when they return home. I proposed a series of recipes on my blog where I create meals based on five ingredients, and all of them responded positively to the idea. The bigger lesson I learned was that many of them didn’t care about the exact number of ingredients used (but it can’t be a ridiculously long list either). Rather, the recipes should be easy to prepare and made with ingredients that are readily accessible.
As a full-time food blogger, I have the luxury of cooking all day long. (I don’t actually cook all day because that would mean washing more dishes than I care to.) But the average person doesn’t have this kind of luxury, and I want to create recipes that actually speak to your needs!
Here’s the start of my Minimal Mondays series: a collection of simple meals that require minimal ingredients, preparation or cooking time. I’m hoping these recipes will save you some time on weeknights so that you can actually rest and recuperate for the next day.
COOKING NOTES FOR THE STUFFED PITA
Making these ahead: I ate some of these the next day, and they still tasted great. Wrap the pita pockets in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Using whole wheat pita: I chose whole wheat pita bread because they usually contain more dietary fiber than regular pita. Dietary fiber helps you stay fuller for a longer period of time.
For a more filling meal, you can add lean protein to the stuffed pita, such as chickpeas, hard boiled eggs, chicken or shrimp.
You can use whatever hummus you prefer. I used a lemon hummus (recipe in the notes below).
Author: Lisa Lin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 2 Servings
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 to 1 1/4 pounds eggplant
1 large bell pepper, sliced into long strips
salt and pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato pesto
2 large whole wheat pita pockets
4 to 6 tablespoons hummus
2 cups mixed greens
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Position an oven rack in the upper third and lower third positions. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
Trim off the top of the eggplant. Dice into 1/2-inch chunks. Transfer the eggplant into a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a generous pinch of salt, and a small pinch of ground black pepper. Spread the eggplant over a prepared baking sheet. We’ll use the bowl later, so set it aside.
Toss the sliced bell peppers with the remaining oil. Spread over the other baking sheet.
Roast the peppers for 20 minutes and the eggplant for 30 minutes. Make sure that the eggplant is soft and tender.
Pour the roasted eggplant into the same bowl you used before. Toss it with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato pesto. Taste and add more pesto, if necessary.
Slice the pita pockets in half. Spread 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of hummus into each pita pocket half. Add more hummus, if you like. Next, fill each pocket with 1/2 cup of mixed greens. Divide the peppers and eggplant between the pita pockets. Enjoy!
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount for 2 stuffed pita halves: Calories: 492, *Total Fat 24.8g, Saturated Fat: 3.4g, Cholesterol: 1mg, Sodium: 445mg, Total Carbohydrate: 61.5g, Dietary Fiber: 16.6g, Sugar: 13.7g, Protein 12.9g
Lemon Hummus Recipe: 1 can chickpeas, drained (save the liquid), 3 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons reserved liquid from chickpeas, 1 clove of garlic, 1 tablespoon tahini, zest from 1 lemon, juice from 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pinch of ground black pepper. Blend everything in a blender for food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.
This hearty vegetarian three bean chili is packed with protein from three varieties of beans: pinto, black, and kidney beans. Chipotle peppers give spice and smoky flavor to the chili. Serve it with rice to make it a more filling meal!
Thank you to USA Pulses and Pulses Canada for sponsoring this post!
Although I’m not vegetarian, I tend to cook vegetarian meals most weeknights. It’s simply less fussy to prepare in general. I don’t have to worry about handling raw meat or checking to see if my piece of chicken is fully cooked. Plus, my vegetarian meals tend to be lighter and more fresh, which is my preferred style of cooking. Believe it or not, even my meat-loving husband embraces vegetarian meals!
Pulses are a primary staple around our house. It is so easy to throw a can of beans into my meals to give it an extra boost of plant-based protein and fiber. I usually have about 6 cans of beans tucked away in my pantry for quick dinners, such as grain and bean salads or soups.
This chipotle vegetarian three bean chili is a one-pot wonder. The preparation is simple: sauté a few aromatic vegetables, throw all the ingredients into the pot, boil and then simmer. That’s all! It is a low-maintenance dish that you’ll want to make on weeknights.
COOKING NOTES FOR THE VEGETARIAN THREE BEAN CHILI
Serve with rice: To make this a more filling meal, serve the chili with bread or rice.
A note about the chili powder: The chipotle peppers give the soup a considerable amount of spice. Make sure that you use a chili powder that is not too spicy, if at all.
A thicker chili: Some people might prefer thick chilis. If you are one of those people, use less broth (about 2 to 2 1/2 cups).
This chili is quite spicy. For a milder chili, use one chipotle pepper instead of two. If you want more smoky flavor, use smoked paprika instead of regular sweet paprika.
If you prefer a thicker chili, use 2 or 2 1/2 cups of broth instead of 3.
Author: Lisa Lin
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes (10 minutes inactive)
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 rib of celery, sliced
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 chipotle peppers (in adobo sauce), roughly chopped
1 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15.5-ounce can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
chopped red onions
Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté them for about 4 minutes. Add the celery, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sauté for another 3 minutes.
Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, chipotle peppers and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to combine the ingredients. Add the crushed tomatoes and broth, cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
Remove the cover, add the beans, and reduce the heat to medium. Let the soup simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
Turn off the heat and let the soup sit for another 10 minutes so that the beans absorb more liquid.
Serve the chili in bowls with a dollop of sour cream and some chopped onions and cilantro.
Refrigerate any leftovers. The chili tastes even better the next day!
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount for 1/6 of recipe: Calories: 270, Total Fat 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 1373.4mg, Total Carbohydrate: 43.3g, Dietary Fiber: 14.2g, Sugar: 7g, Protein 13.5g
Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by USA Pulses & Pulse Canada. Check out their website for more easy ways to use pulses in your cooking!
These simple, fresh rainbow vegetable spring rolls are great as an appetizer or a light meal. They’re paired with an easy peanut sauce.
I developed this vegetable spring rolls recipe because I was so irate about spending $9 on something similar in San Francisco. It was a few months ago, and I had just finished a rough workout. I was famished—a dangerous time to go shopping for dinner. My eyes and stomach gravitated towards the steaming hot mac and cheese. However, my mind kept nagging me to grab a lighter meal, so I took the vegetable spring rolls. I really should learn to trust my gut, literally.
The vegetable spring rolls I bought were stale and the filling bland. The peanut sauce that came with the spring rolls didn’t do any favors either. Every bite I took was met with pangs of regret, as I kept reminding myself that I could have made something better.
Here is a simple recipe for vegetable spring rolls. I hesitate to call this a recipe because you can wrap any vegetables and make the spring rolls as big or small as you like. I picked bell peppers, red cabbage, cucumber and carrots for color. If you want more filling rolls, add tofu, shrimp, chicken or vermicelli noodles.
MASTERING MY MISTAKES / COOKING NOTES
Using thesauce:You have the option of drizzling some sauce over the filling before rolling up the vegetable spring rolls, or you can use the sauce as a dip alone. Some people prefer having sauce inside the spring rolls to give them more flavor.
Making the spring rolls the day before: If you store the vegetable spring rolls in the fridge, the cold temperature will harden the rice paper, making them less pleasant to eat. To soften the rice paper, flick a bit of water over the spring rolls and microwave them on high for about 20 to 30 seconds.
Do not serve these on paper plates: I made the mistake of serving the spring rolls on disposable paper plates. When I took a spring roll off the plate, a chunk of the paper came along with it. Sadly, I had to redo all the rolls.
INGREDIENTS I USED
22cm rice paper wrappers: These are fairly large wrappers, which will allow you to wrap more vegetables inside. You can find them online, at Asian markets and occasionally in the Asian sections of major supermarkets.
2 tablespoons soy sauce (use tamari if gluten free)
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup filtered water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
pinch of salt (add more to taste)
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Get your workspace organized. Fill a shallow, wide bowl with warm water. Lightly wet the surface of the cutting board. Place the vegetables on plates or bowls and get them close to your workspace. Have a large plate ready so that you can lay your finished spring rolls on top.
Dip a rice paper wrapper into the bowl of water and circle the paper around so that the entire surface is moistened. Transfer the rice paper onto the wet board. Place a lettuce leaf on top of the rice paper. Then, lay the vegetables, mint, and basil on top, about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the bottom of the wrapper.
Starting from the bottom of the wrapper, start rolling everything towards the middle. Fold the left and right sides of the wrapper towards the center, and finish rolling up the spring roll. Place the spring roll onto your spare plate and repeat for the remaining spring rolls. (NOTE: If you find that the wrapper are quite stiff, let it sit on your cutting board for an extra 10 to 15 seconds to soften. Then, roll up the spring rolls.)
Prepare the dipping sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a bowl. In the beginning, the peanut butter will be very difficult to break apart. Just keep stirring, and you’ll eventually get a smooth sauce.
Serve the spring rolls with the sauce. It is best consumed within the same day.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Amount Per Spring Roll + 1/12 of Dressing: Calories: 130, Total Fat 6g, Saturated Fat: 1.2g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 176.5mg, Total Carbohydrate: 17.5g, Dietary Fiber: 1.7g, Sugar: 6g, Protein 3.2g