Tag Archives: healthy vegetarian recipes

Kale Two Ways

22 Oct

Is kale the new spinach? Can kale cure all of your health woes, give you the strength of Superman (or Wonder Woman) and paint your house, all at the same time? Will drinking a kale smoothie every morning rid your body of toxins and send you on the path to greater enlightenment? According to the latest foodie news, all of this is possible though I caution against kale smoothies or any drink bearing resemblance to the slime that floats up from the bottom of lakes to ensnare unsuspecting swimmers’ feet. If you’re feeling sluggish in the morning and need a vegetable boost in your beverage, a Bloody Mary is a far better idea. I promise that enlightenment will be yours. However, if you find yourself staring at a bunch of kale and a) wondering if it’s really all it’s cracked up to be and b) if there’s a way to prepare kale that doesn’t involve your blender or a wheat grass supplement, the answer is yes, and put the blender down and/or walk away from the juice bar. Besides being packed full of nutrients, kale is delicious and like most leafy greens, versatile and easy to prepare. It’s also filling and unlike greens like chard and spinach, does not cook down to nothingness in a matter of moments. Kale is always a go-to for me and with the (admittedly slow in the Bay Area) advent of fall, it’s been showing up on my table even more. Kale is abundant in cooler months and it’s rich flavor and slightly chewy texture make it an excellent partner for other fall flavors, such as apples.

Here are two easy recipes I created this month. The first was my inaugural attempt at a brown rice risotto. The end result was delicious though I will probably keep tinkering with the recipe to find the easiest path to the right risotto texture. The second is a super quick salad–perfect after a long day when you don’t feel like making an effort in the kitchen but are trying to resist the lure of takeout. Usually I let kale salads marinate in an acidic dressing for an hour or so to soften up the leaves but if you have a nice tender bunch of kale (as we did) you can skip that step.

Kale and Apple Brown Rice Risotto

This risotto was definitely a bit chewier than when I’ve used white arborio rice but it still had the creamy texture you’d expect. In addition to being healthier (and less coma-inducing), the nutty flavor of the brown rice paired well with the fall flavors. We happened to have cashew cream in the house from a vegan soup experiment but you could always replace it with butter.


1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons (I used dinosaur kale)

1 box (or 4 cups) light vegetable broth (such as Imagine’s No-Chicken Broth) heated
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1 big apple, cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c shredded Gruyere
1 onion, minced
1/3 c nut cream (I used cashew–could do butter instead)
Few sprigs thyme
1/3 c walnuts, chopped and toasted
1/3 c dry white wine
2 tbsp olive oil (more as needed)
Walnut oil and chives, to garnish
1) Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-low heat
2) Add the onion and saute until it’s softened and translucent
3) Season with salt and pepper
4) Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, being careful not to let the garlic burn
5) Add the rice and the time and stir to coat with the onion, garlic and oil
6) Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until the wine evaporates
7) Add about half the hot broth, in increments, stirring constantly and letting each addition of broth be incorporated before you add the next
8) Midway through this process, add the kale, cover the pot and let the kale wilt; this will take about 5 minutes
9) Add the remaining broth, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes or until rice is tender
10) Five minutes before the rice is done, add the cubed apple
11) When the rice is done, add the nut cream (or butter) and cheese, cover and let the mixture sit off the heat for 3 minutes
12) Add the nuts and stir to incorporate and season with salt and pepper as needed
13) Serve, garnishing each portion with a drizzle of walnut oil and a sprinkling of chives
Kale, Apple and Trout Salad
Salad Ingredients:
1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons
2 treviso radicchio, cut into strips
1 crisp, tart apple (such as Granny Smith), cubed
1 filet smoked trout, flaked
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
1/3 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped
Dressing Ingredients:
Juice of one lemon
1 tbsp mustard
1-2 tbsp champagne vinegar (any wine or sherry vinegar would work)
Mix of olive and walnut oil, to taste (I prefer a dressing heavier on acid than oil)
Salt and pepper
1) Toss the kale and radicchio together and dress with 2/3 of the dressing
2) Let the salad sit about 30 minutes, if possible
3) Add the apples, walnuts and trout and toss with the remaining dressing, reserving a bit to drizzle on top
4) Plate the salad and top with the quartered eggs, drizzle with the reserved dressing and garnish with freshly ground pepper

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.