Category Archives: lunch

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Happy Thursday.  I hope you all are having a great day.  I thought I would pop in  and show you a quick, slightly zhuzh-ed up version of one of my favorite recipes, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Feta-Olive Salad, from The Traveler’s Lunchbox.  I’ve mentioned it previously here and here, but in the last year we have gone from eating it as a side to having it as the main event.  I also tweaked it just slightly, bulking it up a bit and getting rid of what seemed like an unnecessary ingredient.  Again, my alterations are so minimal, I am in no way claiming this as my recipe, just letting you in on some changes we’ve enjoyed.  If you are doing the allergy elimination diet, or are vegan, whole-foods, plant based, etc.,  you can absolutely use this recipe.  Just be sure to leave out the feta, maybe substituting a big dollop of hummus for some creaminess.

Basically, once upon a time, I had a quarter head of purple cabbage languishing in my crisper drawer and a feta-olive salad that seemed open to new ideas.  So I chopped up some cabbage and slapped it in to the mix.   Then, while my mom was visiting recently, we left the oil out of the dressing so that she could eat it, and, lo and behold, it still tasted absolutely great.  So, cabbage is often in and oil is out to this day.  Although, may I say that, on this exact day, the sweet potatoes I purchased were so dry, I seriously considered putting some over the finished product just to lube it up a bit.  Anyway, that’s the story.  If you try this version (or the original) let me know what you think, or if you can think of any other additions/substitutions that might be good.  P.S.  I really love the salad/topping over tuna (yep, the kind packed in oil in a can, though I’m sure it would be lovely over fresh tuna).  Sorry, I’m weird like that (don’t judge, just try it)!

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Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4-6 as a main.

Ingredients

  • 4 medium to large sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 C diced red cabbage
  • 1 1/2 C diced red bell pepper
  • 3/4 to 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup pitted, chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 to 1 cup goat or sheep’s milk feta, as you like (skip this to be a.e.d. friendly and dairy free)
  • 1/2 to 1 lemon
  • 1-3 cloves of garlic (we embrace garlic on a deep level!  suit yourself), minced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

  • Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place clean sweet potatoes on foil or pan and bake until a knife slides easily through the flesh.  This will depend entirely on the size of your potatoes, but plan for at least 30 minutes.
  • Prepare all vegetables, herbs, and cheese.  Dice can be small, medium, or large depending on your texture preference.  Place together in bowl
  • If you have time, toast spices in a dry pan.  In a small bowl, combine spices with garlic and lemon juice (and olive oil, if desired).  Stir, whisk, or shake to combine.
  • Pour dressing over veg, and fold until ingredients are well mix and evenly coated.
  • Pile mounds and mounds onto your piping hot sweet potato, and dig in.

jasoneats

 

 

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Vegetable Khichuri-Curry or This Thing I Made Up

I first read The Conch Bearer by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni about eleven years ago.  The most vivid and lasting impression was not of a great story (though it is fair) or of any particularly endearing characters, but of the feeling of having feasted on her words.  I’m pretty sure this woman loves food.  The story, in which the characters travel a vast swath of India, is absolutely saturated with mouth watering descriptions of hot, crispy onion pakoras, creamy mango lassi, dal, sparkling sugared candies, aromatic tea, and on and on.  One of the meals that has a starring role is a khichuri, a meal made in poverty that becomes touched with a bit of magic, and has stuck with me (obviously) until now.

Let me stop right here and say I have no experience with Indian food.  When I first read the book, I’d never even had the Anglo-Indian version, the generic curry.  The Japanese steak house was about as exotic as things got growing up in my household.  I’m calling this recipe a khichuri because the base is a mix of rice and lentils and a curry because I’ve whacked in a load of things like coconut milk, tomatoes, and spices, but it really is just this thing I’ve smooshed together.

I started as I would a risotto: oil, aromatics, and rice, and built from there.  Again, making zero claims to cultural authenticity in either ingredients or technique.  If you are doing an allergy elimination diet similar to mine this recipe is a great option (if you are testing for a nightshade allergy, this is not for you).  I feel like this should be almost infinitely adaptable.  If you try any different combinations, substitute in different ingredients, let me know in the comments.

Have you ever read a book that left you jonesing for a special food?  Another of mine is The Pickwick Papers (Dickens); it always makes me want a picnic with cold chicken and cheese and pickles and things (basically, Feast).  What are some of yours?

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Vegetable Khichuri-Curry

serves 4-6 depending on how greedy you are

Ingredients

  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion
  • 1 1/4 C rice (we used brown Basmati rice)
  • 3/4 C green lentils, rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, cubed
  • 1 large zucchini (courgette), cubed
  • 1/4 C tomato sauce or puree
  • 2 C vegetable stock
  • 10 oz coconut milk
  • 1-2 C spinach leaves
  • 1 Tbs curry powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne (you’ll be surprised how far it goes!)
  • salt
  • parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat oil, garlic and onion until fragrant and onion is releasing some moisture.
  • Turn on hood fan. . .seriously.  Add spices and a generous sprinkle (1/4 tsp or thereabouts) of salt.  Cook off until onions have softened and spices are toasted.
  • Add rice, and stir to incorporate with spiced onion/garlic mix.
  • Add zucchini and tomato, and another 1/4 tsp of salt, and stir, scraping up as many of the good bits stuck to the bottom of the pan as you can.
  • Add veg. stock, coconut milk, and tomato paste, and give it a good stir.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, add lemon juice, lentils, and spinach.  Cook for a final 15-20 minutes.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt (or other things) as you see fit)
  • Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

kichuri-curry1

Davis Island Picnic rainbow

Rainy Day Picnic

Hello!  I am so glad to be back; I have really missed being here, chatting with you.  Both of my surgeries went well and I’m about five or six weeks in to physical therapy.  The hip arthroscopy, which I expected to be shattering, was actually the easiest in terms of the surgery itself and the initial home recovery.  My biggest concern was getting home and up the stairs on crutches after being released (hip arthroscopy is a same day surgery around here).  That concern was seriously heightened by the trip home following the ovarian surgery.  I won’t be graphic but. . .so sick, so. many. stairs.  However, amazingly, for the first time ever, I wasn’t even the slightest bit nauseated following the hip surgery!!  That really does deserve gratuitous use of exclamation marks.   The long term lack of mobility and general inability to do for myself have gotten me down a bit at times, but overall it has been so much easier than anticipated.  The last three months have also allowed me to see, yet again, how amazing my family is.  I feel absolutely soaked in love and uncomplaining care.

To celebrate being back on my wobbly pins, and to kick off our twelfth wedding anniversary weekend, I thought I would throw together a Friday night picnic.  We were both going a bit stir crazy being trapped inside all day, so an evening in the out-o-doors sounded just right.  Things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, as you will see, but it was a pretty great night nonetheless.  Scroll down past the video to find links to the inspiration recipes, as well as to see the changes I made.  If you would like to see how the rest of the night went, click over to Jason’s video.

Garlicky Kale Salad with Crispy Chickpeas

Changes I made: zest of 1 lemon added to dressing

Changes I would make next time: the only kale I could find at the shop this time was red kale.  Next time I would definitely hold out for lacinato kale, or switch to spinach or arugula.  I did not have three hours to massage the red kale into submission (the ten minutes I did put in just didn’t cut it)!

Farmer’s Market Cornbread

Sean Brock’s Cornbread Recipe

and, my version. . .

Cornbread before and after

Garden Cornbread

base-

5 Tbs melted, unsalted butter

2 cups of medium grind cornmeal (I used this)

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 C goat’s milk yogurt

1 C almond milk

1 tsp vinegar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 C corn kernels

1/4-1/3 C grated cheese (I used a firm sheep’s milk cheese whose name I do not know, but you could use just about anything you find tasty)

toppings-

1 pint (more or less) cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 red onion, sliced

basil, chiffonade (fancy way of cutting up; do what you want)

crumbling cheese (I used some cojita that was hanging out in the fridge)

directions-

  • heat cast iron skillet in 450 degree oven while preparing ingredients
  • combine dry “base” ingredients in medium bowl
  • combine wet “base” ingredients, stir into dry mix
  • add shredded cheese and corn kernels, stir until evenly distributed
  • removed skillet from oven, place on burner over medium heat (you will definitely want to turn on your fan)
  • pour base batter into pan, sprinkle with toppings
  • turn off burner
  • return skillet to oven, cook for 20 minutes
  • check for color (you are looking for a golden brown; the edges of your cheese will be picking up some color as well.
  • eat lots!

Davis Island Picnic plate

 

 

Individual Portobello-Eggplant Lasagnas with Arugula and Goat Cheese Pesto via One is Hungry

Individual Portobello-Eggplant Lasagnas with Arugula and Goat Cheese Pesto

One of Jason’s favorite meals is pasta with marinara sauce.  He would eat it three time a week if I would make it.  Until a few months ago I gratified that desire at least once a week, until finally one day my stomach revolted.  Not one more bit of pasta would it let through my lips!  Since then J. has been feeling mad marinara depravation, and I’ve been trying, albeit reluctantly, to find an alternative that could keep us both happy.  Well, I may not have found the ultimate answer, but I’ve definitely got a possible solution.  Last night, while Jason got lost in pasta and sauce, I experimented with nightshades and fungus, greens and citrus, and nuts, seemingly a true witch’s brew.  This was the end result.

Individual Portobello-Eggplant Lasagnas with Arugula and Goat Cheese Pesto Plated via One is Hungry

I was originally photographing this just to share with my mother.  Can I take a moment to brag on her?  My mom has in the last few months completely changed her diet, started exercising, and is focused on being the healthiest version of herself possible.  She has lost thirty pounds and seems happier than I’ve seen her in years!  In this process, which started with her finding a program called “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” and identifying with the message, she has become a vegetarian.  So occasionally we swap recipes we think the other might find interesting, and I try to think up nutritionally well rounded meals that she might enjoy. Unless you are really on you game about eating a diverse diet with special attention to proteins and iron and vitamins D and the Bs, being a vegetarian can become a slippery health slope. . .as can any eating, naturally. . .anyway, back to the recipe.  This “lasagna” has roasted nuts and goat cheese for protein, antioxidants from eggplant and a little heart healthy fat from olive oil, not to mention vitamin (and protein) packed arugula!  As a dark, leafy green arugula is also a decent source of iron and folates.

I know I titled these “Individual” lasagnas, but unless you are really hungry this is more of a two serving affair.  The richness of the olive oil and goat cheese make this hard to eat in bulk, but great to divide and pair with a bright salad.

Individual Portobello-Eggplant Lasagnas with Arugula and Goat Cheese Pesto Prep duo via One is Hungry Individual Portobello-Eggplant Lasagnas with Arugula and Goat Cheese Pesto via One is Hungry

 

Marinara

1 28 oz can (or 2lb peeled fresh) whole tomatoes, seeded and crushed

4-5 cloves garlic, sliced

olive oil

salt

red pepper flakes

lemon juice

fresh basil, chiffonade (or just torn)

Remove seeds from tomatoes, straining and retaining all juices.  Pour 1 TBS. olive oil and sliced garlic in cold sauté pan and heat over medium until garlic becomes fragrant–do not brown.  Add crushed tomatoes and juice to pan, along with 1/4-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Continue to cook until no longer watery.  Add juice of 1/4 lemon.  Taste for salt (you can always add more, but you can’t take it out!).  Stir in fresh basil and either remove from heat or lower heat.

Lasagna

2-3 Tbs Marinara sauce

1 eggplant (I used a beautiful streaked Japanese ep that looked really good a the market)

1 portobello cap, stalk removed, gills scraped out

1/2 cup arugula or leafy green of choice

1/4 lemon

2 Tbs goat cheese

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted

olive oil

salt

pepper

1 clove garlic

Cut eggplant into 1/4 inch slices.  Lay flat on towel and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt (or sea salt).  Cover with another towel and press.

Preheat oven to 400.  Line baking pan with parchment paper.  Add nuts and toast in oven until lightly colored, about 5-7 minutes.  In food processor combine garlic, juice of quarter lemon (zest too if you so desire), 1 tsp olive oil, goat cheese, arugula, and toasted walnuts.  Process until paste forms.  Taste, and salt only if necessary (remember, the other parts of the meal have salt as well!)

In sauté pan, heat 2 tsp olive oil until a drop of water flicked into the pan sizzles.  Add eggplant slices, sprinkle with freshly ground pepper, and cook until browned on both sides.  Remove to towel covered plate.

Assembly:

Portobello cap, bottom up, place in baking pan on parchment paper.  Spread a thin layer of goat cheese pesto.  Add layer of eggplant, another layer of pesto.  Eggplant, pesto, 2-3 Tbs marinara sauce.  Bake in oven for approximately 8 minutes.  Plate and serve.

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Stave Off Winter’s Fury

It may seem odd to be thinking about winter here in the dog days of summer, but I suggest this is the exact right moment for it (and I have thousand of years of history to back me up on this).  If there is one thing that Jason and I have learned in our nearly ten years of living in NoVa, it is that we do not do winter well.  As children of the hot southern sun come late in life to the realities of cold, we have not adapted easily.  I know, I know, the idea of Virginia’s winter is laughable to some of you, but let me make my case.  If you live in a truly cold place you at least have the benefit of a usable cold (ice skating, snow, sledding, snow. . .lots and lots of snow :) ).  Here, it is just nasty: wet, cold, dirty, slushy.  I digress.

Well, this year I finally had the opportunity to bottle up a little summer comfort to see us through the Dark Days.  Last year, you may remember, we spent the majority of the summer traveling or recovering from travel (see Australia).  One of our favorite things to have in the winter is tomato soup (this one, right here), but the canned stuff just isn’t any good (and usually isn’t any good for you), and winter tomatoes are almost as depressing as soggy turnips; we won’t even talk about how much they cost.  So two weekends ago I scrambled down to our neighborhood farmer’s market and came home with 20 (yes, TWENTY) pounds of tomatoes, an humongous bunch of basil, and a pioneering spirit!  This is how I spent my day: DSC_0062

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Roughly eight hours later I had thirteen beautiful quart jars of soupy goodness ready to go in the freezer (I don’t have a pressure canner, so this is my only option) and a little store of lessons learned:

1. 10-15 pounds might really be my comfort zone. . .twenty verges on the absurd

2.  Get an immersion blender. . .no, really, just do it

3.  Food processors and blenders fail epic-ly with hot liquids in large quantity

4.  Do yourself a favor and sit down to process the tomatoes, or get a gel mat. . .or prepare for pain :)

5.  Peeling garlic in these quantities can burn your fingers every bit as badly as cutting up chiles–beware!

If you want to do something crazy like this yourself, here’s what you’ll need:

  • white vinegar
  • lots of water
  • large sink or bowls
  • 20 lbs. tomatoes
  • 5-6 heads garlic
  • 6 large white or yellow onions
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 quarts chicken or veg. stock
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 24 TBS (!) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tightly packed cups basil leaves
  • 2-3 very large stock pots (8 quarts or larger. . .larger)
  • roasting pans
  • parchment paper
  • a big dang spoon
  • immersion blender (trust me)
  • 12-14 freezer-safe quart jars (depending on how full you want them) or an equivalent volume of quarts and pints

Fill sink or bowls with cold water and a cup of vinegar (for the whole quantity of tomatoes).  Soak tomatoes in water for at least 10 minutes.  Clean, remove any bad spots, and transfer to kitchen towels to dry.  Prepare the soup with this recipe.  Wash jars in dishwasher on sanitize setting.  Place lids and rings in bowl and cover with boiling water.  Fill clean jars with soup (leaving at least a 1/2 space at the top), screw dried lids on loosely.  Allow to cool on counter for no more than two hours.  Place in freeze and pat yourself on your sweet, tired back!