Tag Archives: healthy dinner recipes

Turnips Part Deux: This Time It’s Delicious

17 Jun

It’s odd, yet also fitting, that a turnip would awake me from my blogging slumber. The last time I posted, I triumphantly shared a tale of conquering the wild turnip, pureeing it into a healthy and tasty soup. But I wasn’t convinced. The color was a bit too brown and the taste was good but not “I can’t wait to make this again” good. Mainly I was happy to 1) have the turnips out of the house and 2) have created something that was farther toward the palatable side of the scale than the garbage disposal side.  When turnips made another appearance in our CSA (community supported agriculture) box, I, perhaps subconsciously, nudged them toward the back of the fridge. Turnips are hearty; there was no need to deal with them right away. Two weeks passed and another box arrived on our doorstep, brimming with vegetable surprises. And turnips. More turnips. Now I had five plump turnips staring me in the face, daring me to let them go bad. I spent the next few days brainstorming.  Soup seemed like the best option.  Soup is a forgiving canvas. There’s always something you can do–add a new flavor, add some water, add a topping–to recover from a misstep.   Once I had decided upon soup, my mind wandered east. My last turnip soup, while flavorful, just wasn’t that exciting.  It needed something to pump it up, something that would turn my turnip ambivalence to turnip appreciation.  After considering Indian curry and Thai curry, I continued east until I landed in Japan.  Turnips can have a sweet, delicate flavor and Japanese food is also delicately flavored.  It seemed like a good match. Plus, I could use miso and bonito to add a savory counterbalance and keep the soup firmly out of the sweet zone that root vegetables can often move into.  Finally, it gave me something to do with the small bag of fava beans we also received in the box–not enough to use as the main component in a dish but perfect to inhabit a wasabi puree garnish.

The result? A tasty turnip soup that I would happily make again.  Unlike the past two years, it seems that we’ll actually have a real summer so I don’t know when I’ll see turnips again. But when they come, I’ll be ready.

Turnip Miso Soup with Wasabi Puree

8 c light vegetable broth (you can use a box but look for one that’s lighter, more in the vein of a chicken stock)
1/3 heaping cup white miso
Handful bonito
Fish sauce to taste

5 turnips, peeled and cubed
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small chunks
Thumb sized piece of ginger, minced
One white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp canola oil
3/4 c silken tofu
Few tablespoons mirin
2 tsp rice vinegar
Additional fish sauce to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

Wasabi Puree
1/2 c shelled fava beans
1 tsp canola oil
1 spring onion
3 cloves garlic
Few tablespoons silken tofu
Dash rice wine vinegar
Big squeeze wasabi paste (I used the prepared wasabi in the tube; you could also mix your own from powder)

Chives and sesame oil to garnish
Make the Broth
1) Bring broth to boil
2) Add bonito
3) Turn off heat and steep 5 min and then strain
4) Mix miso with bit of water and add to broth
5) Add few dashes of fish sauce to taste and season with fresh pepper (add salt as well if you think it needs it, though fish sauce is quite salty)
6) Set broth aside

Make the Soup
1) Sauté ginger, garlic and onion in 1 tbsp canola oil til softened
2) Add cubed turnips and chopped cauliflower
3) Season with salt and pepper
4) Add broth, bring to boil
5) Lower to simmer and let cook 30 min
6) Take the soup off the heat and let it cool a bit, then puree it in a blender with the silken tofu
7) Put back in pot, season with mirin, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, salt and pepper

Make the Wasabi Puree
1) Sauté garlic and onion in 1 tsp canola oil
2) When softened, add the shelled fava beans and stir to coat
3)Add a bit of water, cover and simmer 10 min
4) Uncover and simmer 10 more min; add more water if needed
5) Take off heat and purée with wasabi, tofu and dash rice wine vinegar
6) Season with salt and pepper

Top soup with dollops of fava bean purée, chives and bit of sesame oil

Note: Fava beans only show up in the spring so you could try something else for the puree in other season. I think avocado would be good as long as you add some liquid so it’s thin enough–if you wind up with a guacamole-like texture, it will sink to the bottom of your soup.


Heirloom Tomatoes Get a Kick from Curry

25 Jul

A few weeks ago, heirloom tomatoes appeared in our Friday “Farm Fresh to You” veggie box. Usually this would be a happy surprise but given that it was the middle of June and I had yet to see tomatoes make an appearance at the farmer’s market, I was a bit suspicious.  While I love tomatoes, out-of-season tomatoes join peas and zucchini at the top of my produce sh**t list.  Yes, I realize that peas are beloved the world over and zucchini, according to many, many restaurants is beloved by every vegetarian ever to turn their nose up at a steak, but they both make me extremely unhappy. This is also the case with out-of-season tomatoes. Their mealy texture and bland flavor have ruined many a salad and bruschetta.  The tomatoes in question, red-orange with stripes, appeared fat and juicy and when I cut into them, they didn’t appear as if a vampire had sucked the red life out of them.  After some consideration, I decided that while I wasn’t ready to spring for some fancy mozzarella and do my first caprese salad of the season, I would give them a shot in a fresh tomato soup. And just in case the flavor was lacking, I’d be ready with some spice to save the day.

I have to give it to the farm–the tomatoes were good. And they played quite nicely in the pot with some ginger, chilies, curry powder and red lentils.  The result was a fast, easy, healthy and yummy dinner–probably one of my favorite things I’ve made this summer.


Curried Heirloom Tomato Soup

8 medium tomatoes, preferably heirloom (mine were red, orangey, stripey ones), peeled and chopped, juices reserved
1 large sweet onion (or yellow or white), chopped
1 large (2″ x 2″) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 Thai chili, seeds removed and finely chopped
Few cloves garlic, minced
Small handful cilantro stems, minced
1 c red lentils
4 c light veggie broth or water
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp canola oil
1 heaping tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
Pinch asafetida (optional)
Fresh cilantro, minced

1) In a food processor, blitz onion, ginger, garlic, chili and cilantro stems until minced, almost a paste.

2) Heat 1 tbsp canola oil over med high and add onion mixture, cooking about 10 minutes.

3) Add tomatoes with their juices and lentils, stir to coat with the onion mixture and cook one minute.

4) Add broth and curry powder, bring to boil.

5) After the soup comes to boil, turn down to simmer and cook, partly covered, for about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.

6) Make the spice oil: heat 1 tbsp canola oil in skillet. When hot, add mustard seeds, fenugreek and asafetida and heat until mustard seeds begin to pop, taking care not to burn the spices. Add to soup and take off the heat.

7) Garnish each bowl with minced cilantro and serve.

p.s. I didn’t have any yogurt, but that could make a nice garnish as well.

Tuna Floats in an Endive Boat

15 May

Last week was a long one. Going the store after work for dinner ingredients seemed about as enticing as forgoing my evening at home for another round of meetings.  Lucky for our bank account, my frequent inability to face a checkout line leads us to what we should be doing: eating what’s already in the house. This dilemma is what weaned me off  a reliance on recipes in the first place.  What we have in the house doesn’t always naturally go together but that’s part of the fun of it. It’s like being on that British cooking show where two hapless home cooks show up with a bag of items they tend to buy at the store and two equally hapless chefs have to battle it out by creating easy, tasty dinners combining ingredients like zucchini, potato chips and mayonnaise.  Zucchini knows not to darken my door so that wasn’t an issue for us but we did have a lovely package of endives from our CSA (community supported agriculture) box that had to be used. Expensive and threatening to wilt, they stared us down, taunting us with their ability to turn bad the following day and leave us with the visual of our CSA dollars floating away never to be seen again.

It’s not like endive is that hard to use. It makes a great salad, it’s great for dips and there’s an amazing looking braised endive and grape recipe in one of my new cookbooks that I’m dying to try. But I didn’t have grapes and we weren’t in the mood to make more than one thing as it was already creeping past 8 pm. That’s when canned tuna and our fairly impressive selection of condiments came to the recipe.  The result: an Asian twist on tuna salad, floating merrily in endive boats.

Tuna Floats in an Endive Boat

Note: We served this as our main course for a post-workout dinner but it could serve 4 as a light meal.

Two cans water-packed tuna

1 small cucumber, diced (You could also use celery–it’s just nice to have something crunchy)

1 1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/4 white onion, diced

Handful cilantro, chopped (Cilantro haters could try parsley instead)

Small handful toasted walnuts, chopped

Three endives, leaves separated


2 tbsp Schezuan  marinade (If you don’t have this, add soy, chili, garlic, ginger and some extra vinegar to your dressing. It won’t be quite the same but it’ll work)

Splash rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp dark sesame oil

1tbsp canola oil

1) Mix your dressing ingredients in a large bowl

2) Add your tuna and chopped veggies and mix well

3) Fold int he walnuts and cilantro

4) Scoop into endive leaves or if you’re lazy, as we were, serve the tuna with the endive leaves on the side and let your diners do their own scooping