Tag Archives: quick

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

Salad Days

8 May

Last weekend, Ben and I caught up with my best friend Stephanie and her husband Brandon. Steph and I met first semester of our freshman year and have been inseparable–even through our often vast geographical separation–ever since. We have been trying to get together for some time and finally were able to plan a four-day weekend.

We live in Oakland and Steph and Brandon live outside of Minneapolis, so we met in the most logical of places: Palm Desert. There was actually a method to the madness: Minneapolis is freezing and Palm Desert is not.  Plus, Steph’s cousin had generously offered to  let us stay in her condo in one of the many gated golf-obsessed communities that line the streets of the desert town. This made the golfers on the trip very happy. The 90+ degree weather and easily-accessible pool and hot tub (because can you ever be too warm?) satisfied those of us who prefer not to swing at balls while wearing funny plaid pants.  Often when Ben and I travel, it’s a trip. It involves unknown entities, bug bites, meandering walks through unfamiliar cities and the occasional near-death experience involving a cliff (there are differing opinions on whether this story is amusing so to stay out of trouble, I’m going to avoid it). Palm Desert was not a trip; it was a vacation in every sense of the word.  There were lazy mornings, vodka tonics by the pool, new shoes crammed into an already overstuffed suitcase and many meals out.  When we got back to reality, Ben and I decided we were in desperate need of some serious exercise and a salad detox. Here are a few of the salads that got us back on the road to healthy living.

Tuna Goes South of the Border

Writing about vacation has made me seriously lazy about proportions so I’m not putting any here. It’s a salad–make as much as you want or need for the amount of people you’re feeding. There’s no real science to it. Just do not dress any salad that you think will be leftover; it will be a wilted mess by the time you have a hankering for leftovers.


Mixed baby greens (or butter lettuce or romaine or whatever else you prefer. I just don’t recommend iceberg. It doesn’t have much flavor)

Green onion, minced

Avocado, chopped

Good quality canned tuna (either in olive oil or in water)

Toasted pumpkin seeds

Cilantro (leave it out if you are one of the many people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap)


Lime juice

Olive oil

Tomatillo salsa

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix your dressing in a large bowl. Pile all salad ingredients aside from the pumpkin seeds on top and toss until the salad is evenly coated. Be sure not to overdress your salad–you can always add more dressing if needed. Sprinkle the seeds on top and you’re done!

Go East Young Spinach


Baby spinach

Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thin

Green onions, minced

Bean sprouts

Red bell pepper, chopped

Tea-smoked tofu, sliced thin (you could use any kind of marinated tofu or you could substitute stir-fried plain tofu, fish or even chicken)

Snow peas

Tamari almonds


Schezuan marinade

Splash each of  rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, rice wine and canola oil

As with the tuna salad, just combine your dressing in a large bowl, top with your veggies and tofu, toss well and top with the almonds.

Rice Gone Wild

This was my desperate attempt to avoid yet another frozen meal at lunch, using leftovers scavenged from the fridge. It turned out to be colorful, quite tasty and a great use for a nub of goat cheese in its final days. There’s not a real dressing as I’m not that coordinated at 7 am.

Wild rice

Walnut oil

Lemon juice

Red bell pepper, chopped

Flat leaf parsley, torn

Mint, torn

Walnuts, roughly broken up

Goat cheese, crumbled

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix together while looking at the microwave in triumph.