Roasted Green Pepper and Smoked Gouda Pasta

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In college I was sort of obsessed with this one roasted red pepper and smoked gouda soup. They only served it at one of the obscure “cafe”-style dining facilities on campus (confusingly called The Spa because of local history and not due to any imminent massages). I made it a habit to go through The Spa every couple of days in search of this soup. It was my Moby Dick, my elusive prize, a fattening and mouthwatering anticipation that rarely landed. But on those cold Saratoga days, when the stars aligned and the soup flowed free and hearty (well, free with an asterisk, as is everything in college, as in you’ve already paid for it…times 7), and I trudged through the snow to yet another rehearsal at the faraway theater building with a small bowl tucked into my overflowing bag, this soup was everything.

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There’s no shying away from the fat content of this recipe. We have butter, heavy cream, and cheese, all in healthy quantities. And by healthy I mean delicious. This is food that tastes goooood. So serve with a salad, go on a long bike ride later, and quit dwelling on it. And maybe only make it when you have a huge CSA haul of green peppers and you’re not sure you’ve ever even bought a green one before (sorry, greenies, I just love the red ones too much).

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What this sauce has in taste it lacks in beauty. I mean, have you ever even heard of a roasted green pepper recipe? Roasted reds, yes, in soups, pasta sauces, condiments, you name it. But a quick google search for “roasted green pepper pasta sauce” is fairly lackluster, both in recipe quantity and the beauty factor of those that do appear. Forgive the pallid sheen, the light gray (could that count as green?) countenance, the, dare I say, mucus-y apparition in front of you.

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I implore you to give the greenies a chance! It’s not their fault that red peppers are so dang sexy and make such good soup. Even if the green peppers don’t do it for you, hopefully the smoked gouda changes your mind. And I promise you don’t have to be learning Chekhov lines in the student center at 2 am for the roasted pepper and smoked gouda combo to win you over. This version is perky and summery, quick and delicious. Try it and see!  

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one year ago: caramelized fennel with dill and goat cheese (swoon) and a hop down memory lane of all the delicious things I ate last summer

Roasted Green Pepper and Smoked Gouda Pasta

adapted from The Pioneer Woman 

3 green peppers
pasta, about half a box
4 T butter, divided
1 small red onion, diced (or a normal yellow one)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t white wine vinegar
¾ t sugar
¾ cup – 1 cup veggie broth
2-4 T heavy cream
3 T fresh parsley, chopped
½ c smoked gouda, thin slices or grated
s&p

To roast peppers: turn burner to a medium flame. Place one pepper directly on the flame. Cook for about 5 minutes, rotating frequently, until pepper skin is black and puckery and pepper itself is soft and starting to implode. Repeat for remaining peppers. Wrap individually in foil and and set aside for about 10 minutes, or until cool. Use your fingers to easily rub off skins. It’s fine to leave a bit still attached, it just adds depth of flavor! Cut into big strips and set aside.

Meanwhile, make pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add 2 T butter. When melted and shimmery, add onion and garlic and cook for about 3-4 minutes, or until onion just begins to change color.  Add roasted pepper strips and cook for another 3-4 minutes.

Transfer onion/pepper mixture to a food processor and process until just blended.

Heat the remaining 2 T butter in the same saute pan. Add pulverized onion/pepper mixture, white wine vinegar, sugar, s&p, and veggie broth. Start with ¾ c broth and add more if you want a thinner sauce (remember it will thicken just a bit when you add cream later.) Stir. Cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir to combine. I used 2 T and found it plenty creamy but feel free to keep dolling it out. Yum. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Add pasta, smoked gouda, and parsley into pepper sauce and stir until cheese melts and pasta is coated evenly. Serve with extra cheese and parsley.

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Maple Blueberry Beets with Balsamic and Mint

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Nothing says summer like a packed, 97 degree, 100% humidity subway platform as an announcement says the next L train will arrive in 18 minutes. A collective groan ensues, complete with sticky thighs and cursing yourself for not getting the large iced mint tea.

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It’s hard to imagine there was once another way to experience summer. A decade or two that had no automated voices announcing delayed trains but instead the sweet suburban sounds of lawnmowers, cicadas, and a chorus of complaints of “the car is too hot!” after an afternoon at the local pool. In those decades, a breath of summer air included that freshly cut grass, chlorinated hair, and melted lime popsicle juice on my fingers (and thighs, the car seat, my hair, etc).

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We complained about having to help shuck corn but looked forward to family dinners on the porch. Corn with grilled chicken and zucchini for days. We ate tomatoes grown in the garden and ice cream sandwiches by the pool (when Mom was in a good mood).

thanks, Laura!

Although my summers nowadays tend to smell a bit more like pee on the sidewalk, trash left out during a heat wave, and overworked ACs, summer meals, thankfully, retain their allure.

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This means fresh herbs and late outdoor dinners. It means seafood during my yearly weekend-long Cape Cod sojourn (and, really, only seafood) and CSA vegetables and sidewalk seating at other times. This beet creation came from a frantic trying-to-clean-out-the-fridge-before-vacation night. It makes your house smell lovely, and is a surprising way to combine these summer staples.

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This is more like a suggestion than a recipe — you can make as much or as little as you’d like. But, as I think you’re going to like it, err on the “as much of it” side. Also, once you make the blueberry syrup, it can stay in the fridge for the foreseeable future.. we’re two or three weeks in and it still looks great to me…

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one year ago:
beet reuben sandwiches (beets! must be mid-to-late summer!), mustardy potato&kale&green bean salad, and mmm BBQ sweet potato nachos

Maple Blueberry Beets with Balsamic and Mint

a swanky original (syrup from Dad with a Pan)

Whole beets, scrubbed (I used 2)
olive oil
s&p
1 cup blueberries
⅓ cup maple syrup
balsamic vinegar
fresh mint

To make beets:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Two options for beet roasting. a) Drizzle beets with olive oil and sprinkle with s&p. Wrap beets individually in tin foil. Stick in oven until fork tender, about an hour, depending on size. When cool, peel skin off easily by hand or paper towel, and cut into bite-sized chunks. b) Peel beets and cut into quarters or larger chunks. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with s&p. Bake for about 35 minutes or until fork tender. This option is a bit faster but beets aren’t quite as juicy. I think it works just fine for this recipe.

Meanwhile, make the blueberry syrup. Combine blueberries and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer mixture for three minutes. Then, smash blueberries with the back of a fork and simmer for an additional three minutes or so. Pour into a jar to cool. This recipe makes way more than you need! Use over pancakes, with yogurt, over ice cream, etc.

Combine beets and a big drizzle each of balsamic vinegar and the blueberry maple syrup. Mix to combine. Sprinkle with torn fresh mint and enjoy! Maybe add feta or toasted sunflower seeds to give it more bulk but as is it made a prettttty good dinner with some bread and olive oil and leftover roasted chickpeas.

 

Collard Greens Tomato Sauce & Spaghetti

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You know that video that went viral a couple months back, “Too many cooks”?

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If you haven’t watched it yet, today’s the day! Come on, you know you want to. You’re welcome. Also, you’re welcome for having it stuck in your head for the rest of your life. And butting its repetitive head in where it isn’t welcome ALL THE TIME. Such as:

Going to pick up CSA veggies. For the nth week in a row, we leave with a giganto bag of collards, kale, chard, lettuce, mustard greens, you name it. (Sometimes a couple beets or beans but pretty much only greens.) All I can think (and hum and sing) as we walk home, “Too many greens, too many greens.

Or when on the train and no one is aware of how much space they take up and people want to come ON before you have a chance to get off: “too many dummies, too many dummies

Or (the generic version) when you’re at a restaurant and can’t decide what to order: “too many things, too many things”!

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Did you watch it yet?? Good. It really works for a plethora of occasions. Give it a try! You’ll soon be singing it everywhere and will become immediately annoyed with yourself!

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But really, so many greens. We’ve made soups, 1/2 kale 1/2 sausage lasagna, pasta dishes, stir fries aplenty, and an amazing number of dinners (and breakfasts) of salads or cooked greens plus rice. Brooklyn Beet CSA, come through! I’m ready for a pepper or cuke!

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Until then I will continue to attempt innovation. Earlier this week innovation came in the form of pasta sauce, with a whole tangle of collard greens braised into it. This sauce was delicious — eaten on spaghetti, mixed with leftover brown rice the next day, or just slurped with a spoon. I’m going to recommend the spaghetti route, covered with parmesan and backyard basil. Perhaps served with a side salad? “So many greens, so many greens!

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As I said earlier, you’re welcome. ;)

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one year ago: sweet potato, peach, and black bean tacos and cilantro quinoa soup with spicy shrimp and corn

Collard Greens Tomato Sauce & Spaghetti

by moi and Daniel too

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
1 t dried oregano
2 t tomato paste
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
2 t sugar
1 t red wine vinegar
small handful fresh basil, divided
1 bunch collard greens, ribs removed and chiffonaded
s&p
parmesan, freshly grated (optional, I guess)
spaghetti (or rice for a gluten-free option)

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, deep saucepan. Add onions and a big pinch of salt and cook until they turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and oregano and cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Next, add tomato paste, canned tomatoes and all their juices, sugar, and vinegar. Add tap water to the empty tomato can until it’s ¼ full. Add water to pan. Tear up half the basil leaves and add. Cook for 10 minutes on a slow simmer.

Add your collards. Stir well to totally immerse them.  Cover pan and cook for another 45 minutes or so, until greens are soft and have lost their plasticky appearance. Add s&p as necessary.

Meanwhile, cook spaghetti according to package directions. Once drained, add a bit of sauce (whatever stage it’s in) to keep pasta from sticking together. When ready to eat, top pasta with lots of sauce, torn fresh basil, and freshly grated parmesan for the best experience.

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Mustard Greens with Oyster Sauce and Garlic Oil

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Three years ago I returned from Israel on the Fourth of July. I was flying down the East Coast just as it became dark. My return to the US was celebrated with hundreds of different fireworks displays out the window, dotting the horizon as we hurried from Toronto towards JFK. Every suburb along the route outshined its neighbors with their colorful luminescent displays. After a month of touristy activities and solitary explorations (and amazing hummus), I was elated to be above this spectacular opening of America’s arms, witnessing this celebration of her might.

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Then last year I experienced my first “ribBQ”–a rib and meat-filled event of Texan proportions. Very celebratory, very America, very memorable. (More on that, plus very un-Texas tacos, here.)

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This year, as July 4th loomed closer and no plans to escape the city materialized, we decided to embrace the opportunity to make our own event. A grill grate and coolers and folding chairs were purchased, and now you can officially invite me to a suburban soccer game because I own One of Those Chairs That Folds Into Its Own Bag. So does Daniel. They were $8 (yay Home Depot!).

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We dressed in red, white, and blue and ate delicious food with lovely people in our inviting backyard. We made elotes, grilled veggies, and burgers aplenty, gorged on salads and grilled peeps (yes you read that right–it was time for the Easter candy to go), and giggled over a drunken bout of Cards Against Humanity. Although not condensable to a single moment or story, it was a total success! Memories made.

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and oh! These greens? Definitely didn’t make an appearance at our joyous Americana evening. The recipe’s simplicity and promise of “just like dim sum!” were enough to give it a go the next day, after all the dishes were washed, the yard was cleaned, and a nap was had. I super recommend it: easy, filling, light, and delicious. Mustard greens, til we meet again (probably in tomorrow’s CSA basket…)!

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one year ago: Roasted Beets and their Greens with Mint YogurtSimple Rhubarb Cake, and epic Tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches 

Mustard Greens with Oyster Sauce & Garlic Oil

from Rasa Malaysia 

1 bunch mustard greens, rinsed well and roughly chopped, big stems removed
2 drops canola oil

Garlic Oil:
3 small cloves garlic, finely minced
1 T oil (olive, canola, whatever)

Sauce:
2 t oil
1.5 T oyster sauce
1.5 T water
½-¾ t sugar
2-3 dashes white pepper

Set a large pot of water to boil. When it’s boiling, add the two drops of canola oil. Add mustard greens and cook for 30 seconds to a minute, or until the structure starts to breakdown and both leaves and stems are soft. As soon as this happens, use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer greens into a colander. Rinse with cool water. Dry well, either with towels or a salad spinner.

For Garlic Oil: Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add oil. When shimmering, add garlic and cook until oil is fragrant and garlic is browned. This happens very quickly! Could be as short as 10 seconds, depending on how finely you mince the garlic. Pour oil and fried garlic bits into a small bowl and set aside.

For Sauce: Return empty garlic oil pan to medium heat and add oil. Add next 4 ingredients, being very careful. Pan may sizzle! Cook together for about 15 seconds, until ingredients are cohesive and viscous.

Arrange greens on a serving platter. Top with sauce and garlic oil. Delicious served with brown rice.

Kale Caesar Salad

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I’m going to admit some things:

  1. Basically 7% of my sock drawer contains actual pairs of socks that were sold as a unit. It is a jumble of colors and styles that are “good enough” to be thrown together. Socks are usually in shoes anyway, and if the shoes come off, you have to assume you’re in good enough company to not have others giving too much a shit about the matchingness of your socks. Also, it’s sandal season.
  2. I went on a mile-long run (1.2 miles actually) like 3 days ago and my legs still hurt. Not totally proud of that one…
  3. I don’t really like kale.

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Okay, it’s not that I don’t like ANY kale. It’s pretty delicious sauteed halfway to another planet with lots of balsamic vinegar and oil (a la my college roommate). Also pretty good in a white bean soup with lots of parmesan (coming soon!). It’s just that I’ve never gotten my mind around enjoying raw kale. (Oh, I did blog about it once before here, but shh, this one is better…)

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…UNTIL TODAY!!

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…you knew that was coming.

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THIS salad NEEDS kale! The dressing is thick, the accoutrements small but mighty and oh-so-garlicky. They are desperately in need of a substantial green that won’t back down! Here, kale and my mysterious CSA “red garner” were the only of the batch up to the Greek-yogurt-laden-Caesar-dressing-challenge. This salad is so simple and so tasty. I wished we made a double batch. Recipe came from Erin Gleeson’s gorgeous Forest Feast cookbook (gifted to me by my beautiful cousin! shoutout!). I substituted her pan-fried polenta squares (which sound delicious and I can’t wait to try someday…) for my 2-day-old Bakeri focaccia fried to oblivion with olive oil and tons of garlic. Needless to say, it was just the salty and crunchy bite the salad needed.

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new! happy anniversary, me!
one year ago: Rhubarb, Chickpea, and Spinach stew with Cilantro-Lemon Yogurt sauce

Kale Caesar Salad

adapted from the Forest Feast cookbook

½ bunch kale, chifonnaded (or another substantial green) (see here for chiffonade how-to pictures)
small handful pine nuts
¼ c shredded parmesan
2-day old focaccia, cut into small squares
1-3 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
about ½ t fresh thyme, chopped
salt to taste
about ½ batch dressing (recipe below)

Dressing:
⅓-½ c olive oil
2 T Greek yogurt
juice of half a lemon
1 big clove garlic, quartered
1 t dijon mustard
s&p

For dressing: Blend all ingredients together until smooth. I used an Immersion blender and it took less than a minute.

Toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring fairly constantly to ensure they don’t burn. Set aside.

Warm up 1-2 T olive oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute until pungent, about 30 seconds. Add focaccia squares and another drizzle of olive oil. Add thyme and a big pinch of salt. Toss constantly until squares are crunchy and browned on all sides, adding additional olive oil they seem dry. Lower heat if croutons begin to burn. Take off heat when done and set aside.

Mix kale, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese with dressing. I started with about ½ the batch of dressing and added a bit more. Toss with tongs until evenly coated. Top with croutons and enjoy garlicky kale caesar nirvana (without the obnoxious yet ubiquitous $18 pricetag).

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Tatsoi and Tofu Stir-fry with Soba Noodles

Ring the bells! Fire the cannons! Eat 12 grilled pizzas covered with ramps and artisanal mozzarella!

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It’s CSA season!

Finally… here come the daydreams about various sautéed greens and their accoutrements, salad brainstorms on overheated subway platforms, incredibly specific queries on foodgawker, and ruminating on if #csalove is a better hashtag than #ilovemycsa. (It isn’t. #csalove is about people who really love a children’s cheerleading school in South Carolina.)

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And this is just the first month, when all you get are various green leaves! No telling what will happen to my co-workers once we get actual whole vegetables to cook with! Any time I open my mouth to tell them about previous or past dinner plans I will be met with a cold shoulder and an “I miss winter” eye roll.

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This dinner was from the night of our first haul, from the Brooklyn Beet CSA. I’ve never cooked with tatsoi before but hope we get more soon! It’s similar to bok choy but less bitter and as delicious raw as it was lightly stir-fried. We also received thyme, cilantro, baby kale, mizuna (new favorite salad green), “light Asian greens”(?!), and red garner, whatever the heck that is. Apparently it doesn’t exist on the internet. (Please prove me wrong!)

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Tatsoi and Tofu Stir-fry with Soba Noodles

streamlined and adapted from simple seasonal

½ t toasted sesame oil
½ t sunflower (or peanut or canola) oil
½ 14-oz. pkg super-firm tofu, in bite-sized cubes
1/2 t soy sauce
a pinch garlic powder
2 shitakes, thin slices
1 red bell pepper, thin slices
2-3 c tatsoi, stems and leaves, roots cut off and washed thoroughly (or another green!)
3.1 oz soba noodles
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, sliced
sprinkle of black sesame seeds (or white)

Sauce:
1 c broth
2T brown sugar
2T soy sauce
1T rice vinegar
2 t toasted sesame oil
1T corn starch
1 t garlic powder
¼ t ginger powder
⅛ t cayenne pepper
scant ⅓ c miso

Press tofu cubes under a heavy plate, a layer of paper towels, and some cast iron skillets for 20 minutes to an hour before you start cooking. (Or don’t, but removing its moisture now helps it get crispier later!)

Heat both oils in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add tofu chunks and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until lightly browned on all sides. Once browned, add soy sauce and garlic powder and cook for another 30 seconds. Take out of skillet and set aside in a bowl.

Place red pepper in same pan (no need to add extra oil). Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Remove and add to tofu bowl. Next, add shitakes until they brown, about 3-5 minutes. Don’t crowd them or they won’t brown well!

Meanwhile, cook soba noodles according to instructions on package. Make sure to rinse with cold water when done cooking.

Also meanwhile, make your sauce. Whisk together all ingredients in a small saucepan, except miso. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 minutes. It should thicken slightly. Remove from heat and whisk in miso.

When mushrooms are done, add peppers and tofu back to pan, along with your tatsoi. Lower to medium-low heat. Cook until greens start to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. When that’s achieved, add noodles and sauce. Cook for another minute to evenly coat and warm through. Serve topped with scallions and black sesame seeds. #csadinnerlove4eva

Black Bean, Mango, and Corn Salad-alsa

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Guys, it became summer.

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My shoulders are slightly rosy from sunny bike rides, my face freckles are fighting to the surface, and I’m trying really really hard to remember to water my tomato plants every day.

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Although I have no official adventure on my calendar for this summer — you know, the ones complete with passports and pre-planning and time off — summer in New York feels like an always-adventure. Here, street festivals break into the streets with African drums and grilled meats galore without a moment’s notice, and turn bank errands into an international in-your-face joyous celebration. Here, a quick bike ride turns into running into a long-lost friend on a street corner and spending the next half hour catching up while continuing to your destination. And that “small Memorial Day BBQ” is a well-timed pounce on one of the elusive grills and picnic tables in Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, feasting on the view of lower Manhattan and being sandwiched between a bougie children’s birthday party and a huge Dominican BBQ (where I was just a little bit jealous of their plantains and a vat of rice and beans trucked in from somewhere). Rooftops, parks, backyards, (edible) schoolyards — the whole city becomes the adventure. I’m okay with that.

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This salad, thrown together in a “make sure the vegetarian has something with protein at the BBQ” moment, can be taken to any and every gathering that may arise, or spooned into your mouth in front of the AC for dinner. Part salad, part condiment — it’s summer, don’t overthink it. Also it has mango in it, so, you’re welcome.

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Black Bean, Mango, and Corn Salad-alsa

adapted from eat live run and the cooking channel

Salad:

¼ red onion, finely chopped
1 ear of fresh corn
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 yellow pepper, in bite-sized pieces
1 ripe mango, skin removed, in bite-sized chunks
1 red chili, in very thin slices
½ c cilantro, chopped

Dressing:

2 T apple cider vinegar
juice of a lime
1 t cumin
1 t honey
scant ¼ t chipotle powder (or 1 t chili powder)
2 T olive oil
s&p

Prep salad ingredients:

Soak red onion in cold water for 10-20 minutes to remove some of the bite. Carefully cut kernels off corn cob. Mix onion, corn kernels, and rest of salad ingredients together in a big bowl.

For dressing:

Whisk everything together except olive oil. Drizzle oil oil in slowly while whisking constantly.

Pour atop salad, give a good stir, and enjoy fruity tangy blissful summertime vibes.

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Gingery Coconut Rice + One Week Homemade Challenge

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Last week Daniel and I tried this nifty thing called…making all our food all week.

Simple as it sounds, you must remember the plethora of distractions that make this quite a challenge. Just, for example, think about:

-our Friday morning bagel sandwich ritual
-Tuesday evening post-salsa beers and pretzels at the German place down the road
-a night of Thai take-out and Kimmy Schmidt binging after working two jobs in a day
-grabbing a slice of pizza or deli sandwich in between said two jobs
-that hunger that arrives around 7 pm, when you’re already out with friends and contemplating a movie. To see a movie and arrive home starving hours later? Or not to see the movie? Or just break the deal all together?

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But we did some major grocery shoppings and conquered the odds and made it the whole week! And had some really freaking delicious food. Some real meals and leftovers (coconut rice (recipe below!) and sweet potato chickpea curry, homemade pizza) and some small thingers that can easily be turned into a meal (big batch of granola, not-quite-big-enough batch of hummus).

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That is, until Friday evening, when somebody had one beer too many (…that means 2 total, ps) and decided the only thing they could possibly eat that night was tofu pad see yu. (That person was me.) Oh well, close enough.

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We really meant to continue through the weekend but then the weekend EXPLODED. On Saturday I worked at the bakery in the morning, then stilt walked at the Tribeca Film Festival Children’s Street Fair for 2 ½ hours, and then had a salsa performance. And Sunday was more bakery work, a trip to the NYC Hot sauce expo, reconnecting with old friends and visiting the Brooklyn Morbid Anatomy Museum and then greedily and excitedly downing a mediocre but fully deserved and stupendously salty mushroom burrito.

Weekends aren’t for practical decisions.

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Gingery Coconut Rice

from Plenty by Ottolenghi

Previously pictured on the blog with sambal-y okra in this post, with recipe for caramelized fennel with goat cheese!
Also would be super-delicious with Bengali egg curry

1 ⅔ c white basmati rice
¾ c full-fat coconut milk (use the other half of the can for curry!)
1 ½ c water
½ t salt
6 thin slices of peeled fresh ginger

Rinse rice with lots of (cold) water and drain well. Put in a medium-small saucepan and toast rice over medium heat for a minute or two–just until it starts to smell nutty. Add all other ingredients, stir a bit, and bring to a boil. Cove, turn down heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat but keep pot covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve immediately!

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Hard at work at the office, eating leftovers and organizing costumes for the weekend’s stilt-walking activities ;)

Grilled Pineapple and (Homemade) Baked Bean Tacos

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The best thing that came out of my seder a couple weeks ago was not, amazingly, the secret to make gefilte fish taste palatable or the revelation that my hyper-logical-atheist boyfriend would embrace old Jewish customs “just because that’s how they are,” but something much more seemingly mundane.

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I’m talking, of course, about grilled pineapples (a natural seder conversation topic). After our requisite glasses of wine and long-winded discussions about The Prince of Egypt vs. the Rugrats Passover episode, the conversation led to lunches, and specifically grilled pineapple lunches. The idea took hold and led to this magnificent taco-burrito-wrap-meatless-Hawaiian-pizza hybrid that would disappoint Mexicans and Texans and Hawaiians of all sorts but makes this Jew oh so happy.

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This was my first foray into homemade baked beans! Despite using the wrong kind of bean, the flavor in these [beanie] babies was out of control delicious. And mixed with the pineapple? ohmygod make it now!!~*!!!^!! Even if it’s sorta ugly.

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(And let it be known Daniel added grilled ham-steak (is that a thing?) to his and then ate three, so… if that’s your sorta thing, go [hog] wild.) 

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Grilled Pineapple and (Homemade) Baked Bean Tacos

1 batch baked beans (recipe below) or cheat and use a can
smallish flour tortillas (or corn if GF)
cilantro, chopped
½ a pineapple
smoked sea salt, chili powder, olive oil
OR
brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and butter
(depends on your mood) 

Cook/warm up baked beans according to how much time you’re willing to invest tonight. (MAKE the ones below. PEER PRESSURE! THEY’RE SO GOOD!)

Heat a grill pan so it’s nice and smoky (or, ya know, a grill, if you have that sorta thing). Cut top and bottom off pineapple, and then carefully slice off the skin. Cut into ½-inch slices, careful to avoid the core. Then, you have a choice! For smoky-spicy pineapple (which I thought went better with the beans), rub both sides with olive oil, smoked sea salt, and chili powder. Or, for brown sugar caramelized pineapple, mix together about ¼ c brown sugar with 1 t cinnamon and a sprinkle of salt, and rub it on both sides. For either version, grill about 2-4 minutes on each side, until you see nice grill marks and the pineapple has darkened on the outside and softened in the inside. (For sweet version, you can mix the leftover sugar/cinnamon mixture with a bit of melted butter and baste pineapple as it grills for some added zing.)

The make your tacos! Char your tortilla if desired, and fill with grilled pineapple slices, baked beans, and plenty of fresh cilantro. Repeat. Go into food coma.

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Quick Vegetarian Baked Beans

adapted from picklesnhoney 

1 medium onion, chopped small
½ green pepper, chopped small
1.5 T olive oil
2 cans of navy beans (I didn’t have those and instead used 1 can each pinto and pink beans; it was fine but not the completely right texture)
¼ c + 2 T BBQ sauce
2 T molasses (I used pomegranate molasses and it was great!)
¼ c apple cider vinegar
3 T maple syrup
2 T spicy brown mustard
2 T ketchup
2 t worcesteshire sauce
1 t smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In an oven-safe Dutch oven, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, sauté for about 4 minutes. Add bell pepper and continue sautéing until onion is translucent and peppers are soft, about 4 more minutes.

Add everything else! Bring pot to a simmer; then cover and stick in oven. Cook for as long as you feel like it (more time = more flavor), but I would go for at least 45 minutes (I think I did mine for an hour).

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Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Soup with Orzo

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As soon as that well-deserved mythical short-lived apparition called Spring in New York City appears, I notice my fellow city-dwellers in what can only be called trendy clothes. Gone are the layers of coats, grandma hats, tights-under-leggings-under-jeans, and here is…fashion. As someone not particularly privy to this world of fashion, due to a combination of genes, money, and just not caring very much, I still feel the pull to present myself as, well, presentable. And instead of rushing to a thrift shop or *gasp* an actual store with regulated price tags and employees who are really freaking good at folding, I head to the strange and wonderful world of the back of my closet.

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And so this is how, year after year, I find myself wearing this same dumb light purple, zip-up, three-quarters sleeved, stretchy-fabric abomination. Originally purchased circa 2005 at Marshalls/TJMaxx, the shirt has since made an appearance in my senior yearbook photo and whenever I try something high-waisted.

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Today is one of those days. Today I feel 10 years younger, stressing out about my geometry test and writing notes to the cute boys who would play poker during class as our batty teacher Mrs. Corbasero looked the other way and I memorized lines for my Starring Role of the Moment, and I angstily daydreamed about moving to New York City and Living the Life, which probably involved frosting for breakfast and a movie star boyfriend. Well, 10 year ago me, frosting for breakfast leads to expensive dental appointments and actors (tend to) suck as boyfriends. Try soup instead. (And programmer-climber-photographers.)

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leftover vegetable-skin detritus has taken over the table.

This soup is goooood. For dinner or breakfast or whenever. It tastes freaking delicious and doesn’t give a shit about your 15-year-old (or 25-year-old) insecurities. Also I didn’t follow a recipe, so who needs math now, Mrs. Corbasero?

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Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Soup with Orzo 

3 bell peppers (I did 2 red and 1 green)
1 large eggplant
olive oil
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes
3 sprigs rosemary
1 head garlic (or ¾ of a head, if that’s what you’ve got…)
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 T sherry
½ c dried orzo
1.5-2 c veggie broth
¼ c parsley, roughly chopped, plus extra for garnish
1 big T tahini

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Okay, you’ve gotta roast 4(!) separate vegetables. But don’t worry; it’s easy! Stick all trays in the oven at the same time.

  1. Arrange whole peppers on roasting tray. Stick in oven. Turn peppers every 12 minutes or so with tongs. Don’t worry when skin darkens. Peppers are done when they’re completely charred, anywhere from 35-50 minutes. Out of the oven, wrap peppers individually in foil and let sit for about 10-15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Peel, discard skins, and roughly chop. Two peppers will be pureed for soup; 1 should be reserved to give texture (if that’s your kinda thang…)
  2. Cut stem and bottom off eggplant. Cut in half lengthwise. Score inch-thick diagonal lines across eggplant halves, careful not to pierce skin. Working quickly, rub olive oil on scored flesh; about 1-2 t per side. Place on roasting sheet, cut side down, and stick in oven. Eggplant is done when skin is puckered and flesh is soupy and browned. Depending on the size of your eggplant, this could take anywhere from 20-40 minutes. Check frequently! After eggplant cools for 5 minutes or so, scoop flesh into a bowl; discard skins.
  3. Cut garlic head in half lengthwise. Rub with olive oil and s&p; wrap in foil. Toss in oven (on eggplant or pepper tray) for 45-60 minutes. When cool enough to touch, smoosh out individual roasted segments and add to eggplant. Discard skins.
  4. Drain canned tomatoes, reserving liquid. Cut tomatoes in half; place on a third roasting tray with rosemary, a drizzle of olive oil, and s&p. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are a bit browned and shrunken. Discard rosemary.

Meanwhile, heat a large pot with 1 T olive oil to medium-low heat. Add onions and a big t salt and sauté for about 10 minutes. Add carrots; cook for another 10 minutes. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits that have stuck to the pot. Keep on a low flame until ready to use.

In small saucepan, cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Once all parts are ready, it’s blender time! Combine: eggplant, roasted peppers (reserving one to give the soup some texture), half of roasted tomatoes, most of onion-carrot mixture, 1.5 c broth, and parsley. Puree until smooth, adding extra broth and s&p as needed.

Pour pureed soup over remaining onion-carrot mixture in big pot; add sliced roasted peppers, chopped roasted tomatoes, tahini, ¼ c tomato liquids, s&p. Simmer together until warmed through.

Serve topped with orzo and chopped parsley.