Improved sesame and cilantro noodle salad

It is possible that you remember the Sesame and cilantro noodle salad that we posted last summer from Simply Recipes. Well, this is an improvement in health, taste and beauty.

Asian noodle salad

(Damn, I love my Canon f/1.4 50mm)

This recipe is nearly the same, but I’ve added grated carrots and sugar-snap peas. I used whole-wheat vermicelli for some added fiber and I omitted the tofu this time, because we served it with a piece of salmon marinated in a sesame honey glaze*.

What You Need:  
Honey Soy Dressing
1/8 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbsp dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried red pepper (you can use more for a little extra heat)
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp soy sauce

Salad
8 ounces of whole-wheat vermicelli (i.e. angel hair pasta)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro (more is fine)
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts
1 bunch thinly sliced green onions
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and then shredded (try to get long strips for fun!)
1/2 lb. sugar-snap peas, washed and sliced on a diagonal
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds

What you do:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions in salted water. Drain.
  2. Prepare the dressing by combining (in a large microwave safe bowl) the oils and red pepper and nuking for 2 minutes. After the oil is heated, and the chili has been infused (yum!), add the honey and soy sauce. Mix well.
  3. Add the pasta to the oil mixture and chill for several hours.
  4. After you’ve mixed the pasta, chop the rest of the ingredients for easy assembly later.
  5. When ready to eat, combine the noodles with the veggies and top each serving with peanuts and sesame seeds.

 * The marinade included:
1 Tablespoon sesame oil, 1-2 Tablespoons soy sauce, 1 dollop of honey and a couple pinches of cilantro. Add these to a gallon-sized Ziploc and mix. Then add the fish (we used salmon) and marinate for about an hour or so. Then grill it. Yum.

Quick, easy and healthy garbanzo bean salad

Garbanzo Bean Salad

Kind of like hummus but without the tahini, and with chunks, this salad is easy, quick and healthy. I put it together the other day when I had a hankering for Middle Eastern food, but didn’t feel like making a big deal out of it by going out to eat, or making a feast at home. It tastes great on whole wheat pita and a little Greek yogurt, or alongside a nice green salad. Check it.

What you need: 
1 15-oz. can of garbanzo beans (a.k.a. chickpeas)
Handful of Italian parsley, chopped
1 clove of garlic, diced
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1 lemon, juiced
1 glug of good olive oil (about 1-2 Tablespoons)
freshly ground black pepper to taste

What you do: 

1. Add all the ingredients together in a medium-sized bowl and stir.
2. Smash some of the garbanzo beans with the back of a fork, but don’t try to make it smooth. Breaking the beans allows for a slightly more cohesive texture, and lets the flavors get into the beans.
3. Test the seasonings and add more to taste.
4. Serve and enjoy.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

Coconut Red Lentil Soup

Lentils

This soup, from 101 Cookbooks, is delightful. It tastes a little like spring, but provides warm comfort if you happen to be sitting through another spring rainstorm or perhaps, as we had last week, a freak snow storm with the biggest flakes you’ve ever seen.

The coconut flavor is really mild so if you don’t usually like coconut, you should still try it. The curry flavor is luscious and the raisins plump up to add just a little bit of sweetness when you want it. (If you hate raisins, you could try apricots or prunes, chopped.) And, finally, the green onions provide a springy current throughout this thick, hearty soup. This recipe is also really healthy, full of fiber, vegetarian, and gorgeous. As you can see, I served it with forbidden rice which just so happens to be a beautiful dark purple color because I liked how it looked, of course.

What you need:

1 cup  yellow split peas
1 cup red split lentils (masoor dal)
7 cups water
1 medium carrot, diced
2 tablespoons fresh peeled and minced ginger
2 tablespoons curry powder (I used the Madras curry powder from Savory Spice Shop)
2 tablespoons butter or ghee
8 green onions (scallions), thinly sliced
1/3 cup golden raisins (I used the dark kind and it didn’t seem to matter)
1/3  cup tomato paste (this is about half of a tiny can)
1 14-ounce can coconut milk (light is fine)
2 teaspoons sea salt
one small handful cilantro, chopped
cooked brown or forbidden rice, for serving (optional)

What to do: 

  1. Rinse the split peas and lentils until they no longer make the water murky. Place in in a large soup pot, cover with the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer, then add the carrot and 1/4 of the ginger. Gover and simmer about 30 minutes. 
  2. As the peas cook, toast the curry powder in a small dry skillet over low heat. Watch it to make sure you don’t burn it. When you’re done, find a skillet and put it over medium heat. Add half of the green onions, the rest of the ginger and the raisins. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, then add the tomato paste and saute for another 2 minutes. 
  3. Add the curry powder to the tomato mixture and mix, then add all of that to the peas and lentils along with the coconut milk and salt. 
  4. Simmer for about 20 minutes, uncovered. The soup should thicken, but you can cook it longer to make it thicker. 
  5. Serve  the soup over or alongside a scoop of rice. Top with cilantro and the rest of the green onions and enjoy!
Coconut Curry Red Lentils

Shredded Buffalo for delicious tacos

Buffalo tacos
So, not that you can really tell from the recipes we’ve been posting, but we really do try to eat mostly vegetarian food with about one or two meat dishes during the week. Regardless, this recipe does not come close to qualifying in the meatless category.
What’s great about this recipe is that you can put everything in the slow-cooker before you go to work (or go to school, or go to the park, or whatever) and when you get back home, your house smells like someone has been cooking all day.
(I consulted some websites about how to slow-cook meat before I put this together, but this recipe is my own, so you can look forward to some alterations as the time goes by…. )
What you need:
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 lb. buffalo stew meat, cubed
  • 1/2 white onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 jalapeno, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon cumin
  • 2 cups water (or, try less…)
Shredded Buffalo tacos
What to do:
  1. Before you head out in the morning, put all this stuff in the crock-pot. First the oil, then the meat, then layer the veggies, add the spices and then add the water. 
  2. Set the slow-cooker to low and cook for 8 hours (or a couple more) while you’re at work or out for the day. 
  3. When the time’s up, take the meat and veggies out of the liquid and place on a large plate. Pour the liquid into a separate container and reserve.
  4. Using the back of a fork, smash the buffalo cubes. They should fall apart easily. If not, use two forks to shred the meat. When you’ve finished, add the meat back to the slow cooker (on warm). 
  5. Add some of the liquid back until you achieve a consistency you like. I added back about 3/4 of a cup.
  6. Season to taste. I added some more chili powder and cumin. 
  7. For tacos, place some meat on a tortilla (flour or corn), add some salsa, chopped onions, cheese (cheddar or queso fresco), your favorite salsa and a sprinkle of cilantro. 
  8. Serve with beans and rice. Or quacamole. Or margaritas. Or some delicious combination

Farm fresh eggs!

Grant Family Farm Eggs

Those of you that live in Colorado might be pleased to know that I found these eggs at Whole Foods.

These are eggs from farm chickens who actually get to wander around a pasture at Grant Family Farms, an organic CSA up in Wellington. These eggs aren’t cheap, but they sure are beautiful (it makes me wonder why we even dyed eggs this Easter) and they make delicious fried eggs… which I forgot to photograph. I was hungry.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (at high altitude)

Home-made Pizza

There are two main positions on pizza at home, in my opinion. One position is taken when you’re damn hungry, don’t have any food at home and don’t feel like cooking anyway. So, you order up some delicious melted cheese on some baked bread and enjoy. Making the pizza at home is a completely different position. Making your own dough requires about an hour to let it rise (possibly longer in lower altitude places) but the result is lovely. It tastes healthier, it can be packed with veggies, it is likely cheaper, you can be more selective about your ingredients (for instance: organic flour, veggies, sauce; part-skim mozzarella) and is kinda fun.

I found a tasty little recipe for home-made whole wheat pizza dough today from Vegweb.com. I didn’t know that website even existed, but it looks to be a good resource for vegetarian and vegan recipes. This dough came together really nicely, was easy to roll out and was also quite tasty. The only change I would suggest is that if you only make one pizza with this amount of dough, you’ll have a pretty thick crust. The Spice Raconteurs prefer something a little crunchier so I made two pizzas with this amount.  (Oh, we also didn’t have any what gluten– it turned out fine.)

For the dough, here’s what you need:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil (separated)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/2 – 3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon gluten (optional ?)
yellow cornmeal

What to do:

  1. Combine the water, yeast, sugar, gluten (or 1 T flour) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large bowl. Let this sit for 5 minutes until the yeast show their vigor by making the mixture foamy on top.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt. Mix with a spoon (it will be be pretty wet.)
  3. Add the remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until you get a nice dough ball. Incorporate the flour as you knead until the dough ball is just barely tacky. 
  4. Slice the ball in two and then knead again to make both balls smooth. 
  5. Put the rest of the oil into two medium sized bowls and place one dough ball in each. Roll them around so they are covered with the oil. 
  6. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit for about 1- 1 1/2 hours in a warm (but not hot) place. (I turned the oven on for about 2 minutes to warm it up, turned it off and then put the dough in there.)
  7. After the dough has doubled in size, take them out and roll them out.

Pizza!

For the pizza*:

  • 1 can (15 oz) pizza sauce (I like Muir Glen
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 2 small zucchini sliced thin
  • lots of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 a white onion, sliced
  • grated part-skim mozzarella
  • pepperoni
  • Parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Spread a little less than half the sauce on each pizza round
  2. top with all of the toppings
  3. Put in the oven for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees

* You can really use whatever you want and be creative. This is what I did tonight. Yummy.

And, we’re back!

We have been, at best, incredibly lazy with posting good food lately. But, we have been cooking and taking some photos to boot.

Here are some things to look forward to in the coming days and weeks:

No-Knead Bread

No-knead bread
Bread

Coconut Curry Red Lentils:

Lentils



Moroccan Chicken with Butternut Squash and Kumquats:

Morrocan Chicken



Home-made Granola Bars:

Home made granola bars

Spanish Sopa de Ajo (Garlic Soup):

Sopa de ajo

Not quite Niciose Salad:

Nicoise Salad