My kitchen highlights this week all came from one meal. On Tuesday, I took on dinner for the whole family to give my mom the night off. It can be a daunting task to cook a meal that pleases all palates and aligns with each person’s eating ethos. In my temporary household we’re made up of vegetarians, omnivores, minimal dairy eaters, big eaters, no-bean eaters, and occasional kiddie palates.
After poking around my mom’s pantry, flipping through cookbooks, scrolling through Pinterest and still coming up dry for inspiration, it dawned on me that I could do something I never get to—walk down to the vegetable garden and see what’s ready to be picked and plated.
The tiny, elegant curls of the snap peas were beginning their ascent, feathery carrot tops were just starting to stretch out of the dirt, and tomato vines were crawling upwards, dotted with yellow flowers. Everything was green, but nothing bore fruit, save for one row of radishes, their pink bulbs visible just above the soil. Most could be pulled out easily, and those that resisted my tugging were left behind so they might grow a little rounder and be ready to release their roots from the earth next time.
Vegan pesto is a very flexible sauce to make. If you don’t have hemp hearts, you can substitute almost any nut or seed. I like to use pepitas as an inexpensive alternative to both hemp seeds and the traditionally used pine nuts. You may just need to add more olive oil to balance out the moisture and create a smoother sauce. While the resulting flavor may vary slightly, you can also substitute the basil for other fresh herbs like cilantro, or parsley for a less traditional spin.
This week I whipped up a VERY quick and easy sauce to go with dinner. We drizzled it over green beans and barbeque chicken sandwiches, spread on toast, and ate it with a spoon. My family couldn't stop raving about how delicious it was. The best part is, it takes 5 minutes to make.
Roasting chickpeas makes an extremely simple and crispy snack. This recipe is for barbeque flavored chickpeas, but any of your favorite seasonings will work well.
On Wednesday, the New York Times published The End of Meat is Here an Op-ed by Jonathan Safron Foer. The piece raised many important and problematic points about the current food system in the United States. I recommend you read it to pontificate your own daily food choices and the subsequent social, economic, environmental, and physical impact.
In the early 2000’s after a new diagnosis my mom began cooking more plant based meals for the family, which led me to become both a vegetarian and a Dietitian. In the last few years my approach to eating has been Food Freedom and I’ve since returned to meat, but I haven’t stopped wondering about its ethics. The article prompted a lot of questions and conversations for me in the last couple of days. Why is it so hard for so many to reduce their meat consumption? Why do some people fly into a rage when confronted with the realities of the industrialization of meat and dairy? Why are so many indifferent? Amidst these conversations there were two sentiments that kept getting repeated:
1. Meat tastes so good and I don’t feel satisfied without it.
2. I don’t know how to make plant based food taste good.
This felt like a creative challenge to me as an ex-vegetarian who went to culinary school. The trick to getting satisfaction out of meatless meals is finding your way to Umami, the elusive 5th taste that is naturally present in meat and dairy, but takes much more coaxing from tofu and kale. It’s that thing that separates the nopales from the pork belly, that you can’t put your finger on, but sways your taco order towards the pork.
Enter my Vegan Umami Bean Burgers.
Toasting bread crumbs is an exceptionally easy way to elevate a dish or bring new life to leftovers. Earlier in Quarantine, I was channeling the wartime food writer MFK Fisher, for fear of wasting something that could have been eaten or otherwise wringed for flavor. (See: this post on candied orange peels.) I had a couple of big, New York Bagels lose their freshness so I took them to my box grater and turned them into crumbs. Store bought crumbs will toast just as nicely, and will save your arm from the workout. If you’re gluten-free you can substitute the bread crumbs for finely ground nuts, like almonds or cashews.
It's officially bowl season and this soup is one of my all time favorites to kick off the cool weather with. Chicken Orzo Soup used to be one of my favorite dishes to eat when I worked in a little Greek restaurant called My Greek Kitchen back in my college days. It's so warming and bright, nourishing and satisfying that when I moved to the city, and stopped eating meat I had to find a way to recreate it. I'm sharing an easy flexitarian recipe for the meatless and chicken version.
I'm a little embarrassed at how long it's been since I've written, so don't mind me as I sheepishly wiggle my way back into this space. But, whoa lots has happened. Birthdays, graduations, internships. Seasons have changed. Twice!
Nonetheless, I've found my way back and after last week's heat wave I'm not hesitating to stock my freezer with some refreshing and satiating cold treats. I've been gobbling up my favorite summer fruit for many weeks--CHERRIES. I've also been on a big tahini kick. It was only a matter of time before the two of them came together to create beautiful and delicious cherry-tahini babies. Both have been the stars of my smoothies this summer, and after nearly bursting into flames while walking the sweltering New York City sidewalks I had a revelation-FREEZE IT.
Sweet Italian Tempeh “Sausage” in Creamy Sauce with Tomatoes, Kale & Banza Rotini (vegan/gluten-free)
Remember a few weeks ago when I was a bit complain-y about things feeling slow and not having much momentum in the new year? I've been so busy since then that I barely do. Between school, cooking for clients, and the teeny tiny social life that I'm trying to maintain, I haven't had much time to come up for air.
I did, however, make time to develop this super creamy, gluten-free, vegan recipe for Banza.
It's officially the New Year and as far as I can tell, or at least based on what social media tells me, everyone is sprinting out of the 2019 gates with one arm raised in resolution glee and the other clutching their new Whole30 cookbook. Or paleo. Or keto. Or a Meditation Guide, or Atlas or whatever new thing they've pledged themselves to this year. And I'm just sitting over here groggy and foggy wondering what day it is and how I'm going to create a blog with interesting content and make enough money to live the comfortable life I'm used to living, and learn new things and meet new people, and be happy doing what I thought I'd be happy doing instead of the thing I was doing and generally down spiraling in my mind while Instagram images of everyone that seems to be doing it better wash over me.
I'm a Registered Dietitian and Personal Chef in Brooklyn, New York. I grew up around the dinner table, and believe that food is intricately woven through all of our stories. It holds memories of home, childhood, and beliefs; it comforts us, nourishes us, and creates a centerpiece to gather around.