If you want to make falafel from scratch, soak raw chickpeas (or fava beans) overnight, then grind until fine. Same thing here with lentils: soak, grind, mix with spices and onion, deep fry and BOOM you’ll have something magical. Even if it’s a million degrees where you live like it is here in Boston right now, you’ll have something perfect when paired with raw cabbage, herbs, cuke and a cooling sauce.
I found these neon orange lentils at an Armenian market in Watertown … aren’t they pretty?
I first tried air frying these, and it was … a mess. But it’s not necessary to crank up a deep fryer to make these. I use this Lodge cast iron pot with a few inches of oil and it works perfectly with minimal fuss. Once the oil has completely cooled in the pot, pour it into a container through a sieve and store for use a few more times before tossing.
1 cup dried red lentils, picked over and soaked for a few hours to overnight, then rinsed well
1/2 cup chopped red onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB olive oil
grapeseed, vegetable or canola oil, for frying
salt, for seasoning once fried
1 cup mandolined cabbage
large tomato, halved and sliced
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 cup hummus
chopped olives and/or cornichons
handful of fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro and/or mint
microgreens or sprouts
to make either sauce
Combine ingredients together, chill until ready to serve.
to make the fritters
Grind the lentils in a food processor. Transfer to a large bowl and combine with the red onion, spices and olive oil. Chill for at least an hour for best results.
Heat several inches of oil over medium to medium-high heat to 350 or 375 degrees in a small cast iron pot. The oil is ready (usually after 5 to 7 minutes) when you insert a chopstick into the oil, touching the bottom of the pot. If bubbles form around the chopstick immediately, you are ready to fry.
Working in small batches of 4-5 fritters, form 1 tablespoon-sized fritters and carefully drop into the oil. Allow to fry a few minutes, or until golden all over. Use a skimmer to transfer the fritters to a baking sheet lined with paper towels or a cooling rack.
Be sure to hit the piping hot fritters with a few pinches of salt.
Repeat the process with the remaining batter.
Serve immediately with the cool vegetables, hummus, herbs and sauce.
Some gratitude over this past week.
1. Visiting friends in New Hampshire right by a lake this past weekend. The water and view was so calming!
2. I started acupuncture. No idea if it will work, but grateful for the ability to try it out.
3. Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, which I’m currently reading, which has put some of seemingly negative or useless things that have come up over the past couple of years into perspective and has added in some meaning.
We recently got a new grill, and I’ve been trying to come up with new ideas for things to throw on it. For the 4th, we made this grilled tofu with peanut sauce. It’s easy, non-fussy and delicious! The peanut sauce can be made in advance, and leftovers reheat very well in an air fryer.
Start with a slightly sweet and salty marinade. This one has a neutral oil, grated garlic, satay seasoning, soy sauce and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Be sure to press your tofu really well before marinating for a few hours. Towel-pressed tofu works great here!
Pull together your spicy peanut sauce ingredients, fresh herbs and hot peppers to garnish.
After several minutes on the grill for each side, you’ll have a crispy, chewy outside and succulent inside. Drag and dip into your peanut sauce. Serve with rice and fresh fruit if you’re into that.
1/3 cup neutral-tasting oil, like grapeseed or canola
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB Indonesian Satay Seasoning
1 TB grated garlic
few pinches of red pepper flakes
2 packages firm tofu, cut into 4 thick slabs and pressed well
for the peanut sauce
2 TB oil
one small onion, finely diced
1 TB grated ginger
1 TB grated garlic
1/2 TB satay seasoning
few pinches of red pepper flakes
few splashes of water
3/4 cup peanut butter
2 TB brown sugar
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB sriracha or sambal, more or less to taste
1 can coconut milk
juice from 1/2 lime
rice (I combined fresh cilantro and jalepeno, chopped)
fresh herbs (basil, mint, cilantro)
hot chile (fresno, jalepeno, thai)
for the tofu
Combine all marinade ingredients. Place the well-pressed tofu into the marinade, flipping until all surfaces are covered. Allow to marinade for several hours or overnight, flipping once or twice to allow the marinade to soak up.
Preheat your grill and reduce to medium-high heat. Place the tofu on the grill for about 6 minutes with the cover closed. Flip and repeat the process on the other side.
You can toss the grilled tofu back into the marinade and flip it around, allowing it to soak up any leftover marinade.
for the peanut sauce
Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Warm the oil, then add the onion, sauteing for about 5 minutes, or until slightly golden. Add in the ginger and garlic, stirring and allowing to soften for a couple of minutes, adding a few splashes of water here and there to prevent sticking.
Add in the satay seasoning and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute more, adding more splashes of water to prevent sticking.
Add in the peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and sriracha or sambal. Stir to combine. Whisk in the coconut milk until well combined. Add in the cinnamon stick and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching on the bottom, reducing the heat as bit more if needed.
Remove from heat. Add in the lime juice and adjust any ingredients to taste.
Leave it chunky or puree until smooth.
Serve immediately with the tofu, rice and fresh fruit.
The peanut sauce can be made beforehand and refrigerated until ready to use. Just warm the desired amount in a small saucepan over low heat.
The leftover tofu reheats very well in an air fryer at 400 for 5-8 minutes, flipping halfway through.
The last time I deep fried something was waaaaay back in September 2017. Due to health issues that started around then, I slowly started cutting down on refined carbs, sugar, processed and fried food as a part of trying to figure out how to pinpoint and reduce pain. Did any of these things have something to do with what was causing it? Probably not, although if it was as simple and clear cut as that that, I’d be happy to give them all up for good.
Restricting my diet in this way gave me a sense of control and clarity, when I was feeling neither one in my body or my mind. While it served that purpose, it also killed this creative outlet, making coming up with ideas here seem like more of a chore than a source of joy.
As things are slowly getting better, I’m bringing some of that joy back with this deep-fried, refined carb dish—and dipping it into vegan mayo just because. Inspired by a fish and chips recipe by Chef Adam Evans I found in an old issue of Bon Appétit, I subbed jackfruit for the cod and loved the results.
See that juicy looking texture? I got that by simmering jackfruit in broth and Old Bay, then freezing, defrosting and pressing before dredging and beer battering. Similar to tofu, this technique transforms texture, maximizes flavor and is super easy to do.
Over this past year, I am so grateful for those whose paths I’ve been lucky enough to cross as they support and share what they know about yoga, mindful self-compassion and meditation. I’m not sure where I would be emotionally and physically right now without all of these things. I’ll be incorporating some of these new-to-me concepts in some way in this space as I discover them, as it’s something that I’m trying to embrace as much now as I’m reconnecting with food again here. Stay tuned.
Combine all ingredients. Adjust to taste if needed, then comfort and refrigerate until ready to serve.
to prepare the jackfruit
Drain the jackfruit, removing any seeds.
Add the bouillon and Old Bay to a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once dissolved, add the jackfruit to the pan. Allow to return to a small boil, then simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain.
Allow to cool, then transfer to a baking sheet in a single layer. Place into the freezer for a few hours.
Remove the jackfruit from the freezer and allow to defrost on the sheet. Once defrosted and at room temp, place the jackfruit, single layer, in between towels (I used a large bath towel). Press down with your hands to allow most of the moisture out. The jackfruit doesn’t need to be bone dry.
to prepare the batter
Combine the AP flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and pepper into a medium-sized bowl.
In another bowl, combine the beer, fizzy water and malt vinegar.
Add the wet mixture to the dry and combine, taking care not to overmix.
to fry the jackfruit
Place several inches into a medium-sized cast-iron pot. Heat over medium-high heat for several minutes. Test the oil’s readiness by inserting a chopstick into the oil so it touches the bottom of the pan. If bubbles form around the chopstick immediately, you are ready to fry.
Working in small batches, dredge the jackfruit into the seasoned corn flour mix, then transfer to the batter.
Make sure each piece is covered evenly in the batter, then carefully transfer to the oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pot.
Once golden brown all over, transfer the jackfruit to a large plate lined with paper towels and repeat the process with the remaining jackfruit.
Serve immediately with fries, slaw, lemon wedges, mayo, malt vinegar and chopped fresh herbs.
Are you afraid of dishes with lots of fat, vegan butter and olive oil? Well, then look no further, because this dish is full of it!
Silky, cheesy cauliflower puree is plopped and swooshed onto a plate, then topped with roasted and garlic-studded mushrooms with crispy + caramelized onions. Top with microgreens to fancy it up!
You can use any of these components on their own: the cauliflower puree can be used with any dish that loves mashed potatoes. The mushrooms can top any grain-based, pasta, soup or brunch dishes. My favorite part are these caramelized onions: I love how they crisp up when cooled!
Add the florets to the saucepan, cover and steam for 10 minutes.
Allow the florets to cool, then add to a Vitamix or other hi-speed blender. Add the vegan butter, cheese and 1/4 cup of vegan milk. Puree until silky, adding more milk to thin out if needed. Add more cheese, to taste and reblend.
for the mushrooms
Use one large or two small cast iron pans, distributing the mushrooms so they are in one single layer. Dot the tops with vegan butter and olive oil, then season with the salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 400.
Roast mushrooms on one side for about 20 minutes. Flip and roast for 10 minutes more, or until mushrooms are juicy and browned.
Transfer the pan(s) to a stovetop over medium-high heat. Add the garlic to the pan and saute until the garlic is soft and golden, but not browned. Set aside.
for the caramelized onions
Add the onions, vegan butter and olive oil to a large cast iron pan. Saute over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, stirring once every several minutes, giving them enough time to caramelize but not burn. The onions are done when deep brown. Set aside and allow to cool. They will crisp up during this time.
Plop the desired amount of puree onto a circular plate, towards one edge. Swoosh it around once with the back of the spoon.
Place the mushrooms and crispy onions on top of the puree, garnishing with microgreens. Serve immediately.
Has it been three months since I posted last? Ooops, I guess so.
Well, I’ll start off 2019 with a bang. This tofu has a low-in-refined-carbs coating, made with ground almonds and polenta. No flour or panko, and baked instead of fried. Why do I care? Because I’ve modified my diet a bit over the past several months and found that reducing those kind of refined carbs/processed ingredients makes me feel better, although it poses a bit of a challenge in the creativity department. Will that stay? For now, yes. Into that? Let’s go!
Grind almonds in a Vitamix, but just to a powder/coarse grind. Don’t make almond butter! Season with whatever you want—I used garlic and onion powders with some nooch for a little umami here. Polenta adds a little crunch and textural contrast. Coat tofu cubes evenly in the coating, tapping off any extra.
Spray with a little oil on all sides, then bake to crispy perfection.
I threw all of this into a bowl, but everything can easily be tucked into a taco.
It works as a breakfast, lunch or dinner. I used shiitakes here, but add whatever vegan protein you want: Field Roast sausages, tempeh, lentils or chickpeas, cubed tofu or mushrooms.
And a little dirt won’t hurt on your shrooms—just wipe anything away with a damp towel and you’re good to go. Those gills soak up liquid, so submerging to clean them isn’t a great idea if you want good texture.
To reheat, just toss leftovers into a preheated cast iron pan. Easy peasy.
In a medium-sized heavy pot, melt the vegan butter over medium heat. Once slightly bubbling, add in the farro and thyme sprigs and stir to coat. Allow to toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add in the broth and allow to come to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add in the soy sauce. Cover, but tilt the lid to allow steam to escape. Simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove from heat.
to prepare the mushrooms and shallots
Preheat oven to 450.
On a baking sheet, add the shiitake in a single layer and drizzle with a little olive oil and season with a few pinches of salt.
In a medium, sized cast iron pan, add the mandolined shallots. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt.
Place both into the oven and allow to roast for 10-15 minutes. Flip the mushrooms and stir the shallots halfway through the cooking time. Allow to roast for 10-15 minutes more, keeping an eye on both, removing once golden.
Warm the olive oil in a small cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden. Add to the cooked farro.
Scrape out any garlic bits and add the pine nuts to the cast iron pan. Allow to slightly toast for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add to the cooked farro.
Add the mustard to the cooked farro and give it a good stir. Add in the roasted shiitake, shallots and fresh parsley to the farro.
Transfer to serving bowls, adding in the desired amount of vegan parm. Serve immediately.
There are lots of things to marinate tofu in but, to maximize flavor, you can always follow one approach for good results: water out, marinade in. If you don’t get out all of the moisture, two things happen: the marinade can’t get all up in there, and the marinade get all watered down. Don’t do this to tofu … cut it, then towel press it! Be like Tofu B.
This marinade is a chunky+spicy blend of sambal, ginger, garlic, toasted sesame oil and other stuff. The tofu is marinated, then transferred to a hot cast iron pan to develop a little sear, then the marinade is dumped into the mix to slightly reduce and make a luscious sauce to serve alongside slightly wilted bok choy.
Serve it with rice or noodles (or even mashed potatoes!) and a little vegan kimchi for some funky crunch on the side for a super fast+delicious weeknight dinner!
Working from home has its benefits: no commuting, no real set schedule, no office drama. But it also gets kind of lonely and drumming up motivation on a daily basis can be the biggest challenge. Would I trade the social aspect and structure of working in an office (for 15-ish years) over feeling like I’m on a little island?
It’s taken me a long time to adjust to daytime solitude. After experiencing and dealing with some ongoing + weird health stuff, I’ve decided it’s time to readjust and de-stress. These things are not an indulgence but a necessity. I do and listen to all of these daily and it’s made a huge difference in my stress level.
Please let me know if you have any favorites in the comments below … I need more stuff and I know it’s out there!
OK! This soup. It’s made from stuff I already had in my fridge: parsnips, cauliflower and garlic. It’s perfect for fall—but honestly I was mainly into this because of the way the crispy onions and vegan-ey bacon kept me going in for another bite. The velvety texture of the soup and the texture of the bacon (I used Sweet Earth’s Benevolent Bacon here, and Field Roast’s Mexican Chipotle Sausage for leftovers) is perfect.
1 onion, halved and sliced into thin, half moon pieces
several sprigs of fresh thyme
a few pinches of salt
1 package vegan bacon or sausage (tempeh, Field Roast, Sweet Earth, etc.)
2 TB fresh parsley, chopped
to prepare the soup
Preheat oven to 400.
Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil, twisting the top to create a seal. Drizzle the top generously with some olive oil and place into the oven to roast for about an hour.
Lightly grease a baking sheet with some of the olive oil. Arrange the cauliflower florets and parsnips on the sheet, drizzling with more olive oil to coat, and adding a few pinches of salt. Place into the oven to roast with the garlic for about 30 minutes, removing once or twice to stir around to ensure even cooking.
Once the garlic and vegetables are done roasting, allow to cool, then transfer to a hi-speed blender, along with the soaked cashews and broth.
Working in batches of two if needed, start blending on low, then slowly increase the speed until the mixture is smooth. Add more broth to thin the soup out as desired.
to prepare the topping
Melt the vegan butter in a large cast iron pan over medium heat. Add the onion slices, thyme and salt and arrange in an even layer. Allow to soften, reduce and deeply caramelize for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to promote even cooking. They are done when crispy and dark.
Prepare the vegan bacon or sausage according to package instructions.
Warm the soup as desired before ladling into bowls. Top with the caramelized onions, vegan sausage or bacon and fresh parsley. Serve immediately.