Nik Sharma’s Spicy Collard Greens and Legume Soup

A few days ago I woke up with a splitting headache and an achy kind of nausea. I say “woke up” loosely, because I laid in bed for several hours just trying to figure out what’s what. Even though it is July in the South, and plenty hot, and plenty humid, I knew what I needed. The answer? Hot, nourishing soup with plenty of collard greens, which happen to be the state vegetable of South Carolina.

You may be thinking, “You crazy woman. It’s 1000 degrees outside where you live and 900% humidity. A walk halfway ’round the block is enough to get you sweating. Why are you making hot soup?”

And reader, I must say: valid point…

However, the body needs what the body needs, and sometimes silver-green bunches of bitter collards and turmeric-coated chickpeas can work some of the profoundest miracles.

I leafed my way through the picture-rich Flavor Equation gluttonously, lingering over pages that contained ingredients I’d never heard of. If you need some magic injected into your culinary life, consider this beautiful book by Nik Sharma. He breaks down some of the science of what makes ingredients big players in the kitchen and throws in some really interesting recipes for adventurous eaters intent on culinary play.

I saw the picture of this chili-spiced soup and just knew it would cure me.

What’s not to love about stewed greens in bright tomato and tamarind, with spiced chili, turmeric, cinnamon, and black pepper seasoning two kinds of legumes?

I ate not one, but two bowls of this for early dinner and was back on track by 8.

Health Benefits of Collard Greens

These broad, leafy greens have more to offer than meets the eye. Here are some of the top nutritional benefits to eating collard greens regularly:

  1. Liver Detox: Collard greens are rich in glucosinolates, which cleanse cells of toxins and gradually purify the body over time.
  2. Vitamins and Minerals: Rich in vitamins A, C, K, and B-6 as well as iron, magnesium, and calcium, collard greens offer your body the building blocks to do everything from producing hemoglobin in your red blood cells, to boosting the immune system, to improving skin health.
  3. Fiber: High in both water content and fiber, collard greens are very beneficial to your gut in “keeping regular.” Fiber not only cleans out your lower intestine but also slows down your liver’s processing of sugars, lowering the chance that sugar will be converted to fat. Fiber also lowers cholesterol levels and may even have associations with bolstering mental health.

In South Carolina, it’s standard to purchase collard greens in giant bunches, too large to fit in the average grocery bag. Most folks cut the tough rib out of the center of the leaf, chop the greens into forkable chunks and stew them in a deliciously seasoned liquid. Here is a recipe for classic Southern Collard Greens from Grandbaby Cakes.

The Recipe

Collards aren’t all this dish has to offer. From the healing punch of warming spices to the healthy protein contributed by the chickpeas and lentils, this soup will have you going back for another bowl.

First, I prepped all of the ingredients. I thawed my homemade stock…diced the onion…soaked the red lentils…peeled and chopped the ginger and garlic…washed and cut the collards….etc. It was my day off and I had all day to make magical soup, as far as I was concerned. A mini “vacation,” if you will.

(If you are looking for other ways to use up your gorgeous red lentils, check out this recipe for dal from one of my previous posts!)

Once the ingredients were prepped, it became a matter of bringing out the best in all of them. Sauteeing the onions until translucent, just cooking through the ginger and garlic, caramelizing the tomato paste and blooming the spices, stewing the tomato and collards…then adding the beans and stock to simmer until everything married together.

Serve yourself a bowl, add a healthy amount of fresh herbs on top, and you’ve got yourself a wellness boost:

Bet you can’t eat just one bowl.

Nik Sharma's Spicy Collard Greens and Legume Soup

Nik Sharma
This collard-packed soup is doubled down on legume-y goodness with both red lentils and chickpeas. With warming spices and brightness from fresh tomato and tamarind, this vegetable stew will leave you both refreshed and comforted!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course dinner, Main Course, vegan, Vegetarian
Cuisine Comfort Food, Intuitive
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • heavy bottomed dutch oven

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 cup red lentils
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 medium onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric powder
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 7 oz collard greens, rinsed, midribs removed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 quart low-sodium vegetable stock, or chicken stock
  • 1 Tbs tamarind paste
  • salt, to taste
  • chopped parsley, to taste
  • chopped cilantro, to taste

Instructions
 

  • First, rinse your lentils in a fine mesh colander and pick out any impurities. Cover lentils in a bowl with 1 cup of water and let soak for 30 minutes.
  • While the lentils are cooking, peel and dice the onion, garlic, ginger, and tomato and set aside. Remove the midribs from the rinsed collards and roughly chop.
  • Heat oil in the bottom of a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sautee for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add ginger and garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add cinnamon stick, pepper, chili, and turmeric followed by the tomato paste and cook 2-3 minutes.
  • Drop in the diced tomato and collard greens and stir until the leaves are bright green and begin to wilt, about 1 minute. Drain the soaked lentils and add to the pot along with chickpeas and stock.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered about 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still retain their shape. Season to taste with salt.
  • Garnish with freshly chopped herbs and serve immediately.
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Vanilla and Plum Clafoutis

I know what you’re thinking.

How did it get to be nearly June already? How has this year been simultaneously so fast and so slow?

Oh, you weren’t thinking that? Maybe it’s…just me??

So, maybe you were wondering what in the lord’s name a “clafoutis” is. Y’know, until a few days ago, I didn’t know what on earth it could be either. It sounded French and according to the internet, it is made of a few simple ingredients. I decided to give it the ol’ college try. If you’ve ever made and/or enjoyed a dutch baby, chances are you will probably enjoy a clafoutis. If you did a DNA test, I’m sure it would tell you they are siblings; or, at the very least, first cousins. And tasty too!

What’s a Clafoutis and How Do I Pronounce It?

According to the dictionary, a clafoutis (klah-foo-TEE) is a tart made of fruit baked into a sweet batter. A traditional version of this is made with cherries, so stone fruits are a natural choice. The spongey batter is higher in eggs and milk than it is in flour, which makes for a springy forkful. What’s not to love about this simple confection?

Tell Me More…

So, your typical cherry clafoutis as it would be made in France (after all, it IS a French word) would be served warm and dusted with powdered sugar. Fun fact: the French traditionally leave the pits in the cherries to impart an almond character to the sponge. (If you, like me, feel that you already spend enough time and money at the dentists’ office, adding a kiss of almond extract is a safe substitute for the pits.)

Originally from Limousin, France, “clafoutis” comes from the root “clafir,” meaning “to fill.” Thus, it is a baked dessert “filled” with fruit. However, while the simple nature of the recipe makes for easy substitutions, the French have dubbed any version containing a fruit other than cherries a “flaugnarde.” Being a little more–erm–progressive, I personally am willing to call this plum version a clafoutis. One can only keep so many French words in ones head, after all.

Not All of Us Live in South Carolina…

If I am going to tout myself as a seasonally-minded blogger and eater, I have to address the fact that the plums I found at the farmer’s market are not available everywhere in the U.S. Strictly speaking, it is a little early for plums. The good news? Strawberries are starting to emerge, and rhubarb has been in full force for some time now. There is absolutely no reason why you can’t make yourself a strawberry rhubarb clafoutis, and enjoy every minute of it. (If using strawberry rhubarb, replace vanilla bean with 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.)

However You “Clafoutis,” Here’s How It Goes:

Assemble your ingredients. Chop your plums into chunks, macerate in sugar. Scrape vanilla bean into milk, and throw the pod in with the plums to hang out and impart flavor.

Whip up your batter and arrange plums in the bottom of a cast iron or oven-safe pan; no need to go overboard arranging your fruit. Chances are, the batter will cause the plums to float off the bottom of the pan.

Before pic, featuring floating plum wedges and aromatic batter. Make sure not to overbake your clafoutis to prevent it from becoming rubbery. This recipe calls for a high egg/milk: flour ratio, which should further prevent a rubbery dessert. If, however, you encounter a clafoutis quandary, consider adding another egg and/or more milk in the future.

After! Feel free to dust with powdered sugar and serve warm. Or, add a scoop of plain vanilla ice cream or full-fat yogurt and enjoy!

This dessert is light, so feel free to dish yourself a hearty slice.

Serves 8 people, keeps in the fridge up to four days, and reheats well. Who’s ready for summer?!

Vanilla and Plum Clafoutis

Fruit studs a custardy sponge in this simple and rustic dessert. Enjoy with vanilla ice cream or yogurt, or with a dusting of powdered sugar!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine French, Intuitive, Seasonal
Servings 8 people

Ingredients
  

  • butter, for buttering the cast iron or oven-safe dish
  • 6 plums (mine were small so I used 7)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with seeds scraped (alternatively, use 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • confectioner's sugar (optional)
  • vanilla ice cream or yogurt (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter baking dish and set aside.
  • Remove pits from plums and cut into thin slices. Place in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla bean husk and toss. Set aside, allowing the fruit to macerate at least 10 minutes.
  • In another medium bowl, whisk sugar, flour, and salt. Add eggs, milk, vanilla bean seeds and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
  • Arrange macerated plums in the bottom of your baking dish. (You can add the vanilla bean husk if you want, but keep in mind you will have to remove it after it bakes as it is inedible.) Pour batter into the skillet and place on the center rack in the preheated oven. Bake until set, between an hour and an hour and 10 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and puffy.
  • Allow to cool before slicing into wedges. Dust with powdered sugar and/or add a dollop of ice cream or vanilla yogurt and serve immediately. May be frozen up to one week, and keeps well up to four days in the fridge.
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Salt-Cured Egg Yolks

Have you ever bit into something so delicious it was nearly impossible not to crave another bite? Snapped into the perfectly-seasoned chip, slurped some savory ramen, chewed through mouthfuls of crusty, tomato-y pizza?

Have you ever wondered just what it is about these dishes that makes them so hard to pass up?

The answer is “umami,” a Japanese word which literally translates to “pleasant savory taste.”

Umami has roots as far back as 1908, when it was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemist. This flavor sensation is often described as “brothy” or “meat-like” with a lingering, mouth-watering effect which coats the tongue. This phenomenon correlates to the presence of glutamates and certain ribonucleotides in food, which can be made even more pronounced by adding salt.

Fermented fish sauces and soy sauce are some of our most ancient representations of umami, which have been traced back as far as the third century in China. Dried bonito flakes, kombu seaweed, tomato paste, parmesan cheese, shrimp, nutritional yeast, shiitake mushrooms, and leeks are some examples of ingredients which are rich in umami. One easy “cheat” for enhancing umami is created by adding MSG powder, short for monosodium glutimate*–this is a powdered combination of salt and glutamic acid, otherwise known as sodium salt; this provides a great savory boost to whatever you are seasoning.

Glutamates make up approximately half of the ingredients in breast milk, so you may be even more familiar with umami than you thought! Interestingly, some studies suggest that umami both stimulates appetite and contributes to satiety, making it an ideal addition to nearly any dish.

I am always looking for more ways to sneak umami into dishes. Salt-cured egg yolks are an easy way to add a flavorful boost to your meal, and could even be used to replace parmesan cheese for those who are sensitive to dairy or are simply trying to cut back. What’s more, they keep almost indefinitely in an airtight container in the fridge!

All you need for this recipe are high quality egg yolks, preferably from local hens, fine kosher salt, cheesecloth, and time.

Here I’ve separated my yolks and poured my salt into a bowl.

The yolks are then nestled into depressions, then completely covered with salt. These sit this way undisturbed for one week in the fridge. Here’s what they look like after seven days:

At this stage, the yolks are wrapped loosely in cheesecloth and hung in the fridge to air cure one to two more weeks, or until they are completely dry. (Note, they will still be a little tacky to the touch, but should be generally firm.)

Gloriously lumpy, these yolks have already graced the top of my pasta carbonara and may even find their way onto my popcorn later…recipe for carbonara coming next week!

*Some have drawn correlations between MSG consumption and asthma, migraines, and brain damage–however, the FDA still regulates MSG as safe. Glutamates are abundant in nature (as I mentioned earlier, they make up over 50% of the ingredients naturally occurring in breast milk), and glutamic acid works as an excitatory neurotransmitter. This means that in order to relay a message, it stimulates nerve cells. Some folks argue this can be done to excess, which is why MSG has been labeled an excitotoxin. A study was completed in 1969 during which mice were given large injections of MSG, which caused harmful neurological effects. However, when consumed in normal amounts, dietary glutamate should have imperceptible effects on the brain as it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Of course, there are those who are more sensitive to MSG than others; symptoms of this include flushing, muscle tightness, tingling, numbness, and headaches or migraines.

Salt-Cured Egg Yolks

Using the simple ingredients of high-quality eggs and fine kosher salt, these hardened egg yolks make for an easy burst of flavor to grate over anything from pizza and pasta to popcorn.
Prep Time 5 mins
Curing Time 21 d
Total Time 21 d 5 mins
Course Seasoning, Side Dish, Spice
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • cheese cloth

Ingredients
  

  • 4 high quality eggs, preferably local
  • 1 box fine kosher salt or pickling salt

Instructions
 

  • Crack the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Reserve the whites for later use.
  • Pour about 1/2"-3/4" of salt into a bowl or tupperware large enough to fit all four yolks widthwise with at least 1/2" space in between. Using your finger, create little impressions in the salt for the yolks, making sure to leave some salt at the bottom of the depression and not scratching the bowl bare. Carefully place the yolks into their depressions, then cover completely with salt. Seal or wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge undisturbed for one week.
  • After one week, remove yolks from fridge. Carefully comb through the salt and brush the yolks free from the majority of the salt.
  • Wrap yolks loosely in cheese cloth and allow to air dry or "cure" in the fridge 1 to 2 more weeks, or until thoroughly hardened. (Note: They may be a little tacky but should be completely firm.) These keep almost indefinitely in an airtight container, and can be grated over a dish to accentuate umami flavors.
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Red Lentil and Yam Dal

If you love Indian food but often feel daunted by the idea of making it yourself, dal (sometimes spelled “daal” or “dahl”) is a great entry point. With simple ingredients and minimal effort, dal requires basic knife skills and a little patience. To boot, this recipe also happens to be vegan; but while it is free of animal products, it is no way lacking in flavor. When I first sampled a bite to make sure the lentils were cooked through, I ended up standing for several minutes over the stove, eating spoonful after spoonful and groaning over just how delicious this dish actually is.

What’s more, it’s arguably even better the day after you make it, after the ingredients have had more time to meld in the fridge. I love making a big pot of dal and nursing it over the course of the week; you can doctor it several ways to add some variety, and eat it for literally any meal. (I had it for breakfast the morning after I made it!) Add some fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime, coconut cream, crispy fried onion slivers, or some raita or yogurt. Eat it with naan, roti, on toast, or with brown or basmati rice. This dish is complex and balanced enough to stand up to a little tweaking, but really is remarkably good straight out of the pan.

What Is Dal?

Usually including onions and/or tomatoes and a host of spices, dal is essentially savory lentil porridge.

The word “dal” comes from the similarly named Sanskrit root verb, meaning “to split,” and is commonly used to refer to lentils of all colors and sizes. (In this case, however, we are talking specifically about the dish.) Made from either lentils, peas, or beans which do not require soaking (also called “pulses”), dal comes in three primary forms: made from unhulled pulses, split pulses, or hulled and split. When a pulse is hulled, its outer shell is removed, thereby making it easier to digest; in turn, however, it looses some of its inherent nutritional value in the process, such as dietary fiber.

According to Wikipedia, India is the leading producer and consumer of pulses in the world, no doubt why lentils and other legumes contribute so much to Indian cuisine. Most Indian households eat lentils in some form at least once throughout the day (either sweet or savory), no matter where they fall on the financial or class spectrum. In this way, pulses are a great equalizer in Indian cuisine.

One popular way of finishing a bowl of dal is to pour “chaunk” over the top of the bowl. Chaunk is generally whole spices fried in a neutral tasting oil, such as fenugreek, red pepper seeds, or cumin or mustard seeds. However, chaunk varies regionally and comes in a wide variety of forms.

India’s Legume History

Tracing back well before the Christian era, a baked, sweetened lentil paste dessert known as “mande” or “mandaka” reaches back to the Buddhist era. Two legumes which show up in India’s historical texts are chickpeas and horse gram, both of which are still eaten in India to this day.

In texts dating back to 1130 AD, pulses are mentioned as the main ingredient in common dishes, with dals made from cereal grains also present. Pulses can be cooked with or without soaking, but can also be ground into a flour and used to make traditional Indian breads such as papadum, or moong dal paratha.

Lentils are also considered the first meal of someone in mourning, because they are round and sorrow (like a wheel) is thought to come around and touch everyone in their turn. Additionally, the lentils’ smooth shape is thought to symbolize the silence indicative of the mourning period in Indian culture.

It is said in lore that during King Avadh’s reign, a cook was hired exclusively to cook lentils. He took the job on the condition that the king eat the lentils while they were good and hot, never allowing them to grow cold. This worked for a while, until the king was unable to come as planned for dinner one day.

In frustration, the cook threw the whole dish away and walked out, saying “yeh mooh aur masoor ki daal” or “you are not worth this lentil!”

Health Benefits of Dal

Aside from being a low fat, low cholesterol dish due to being pulse-centric rather than meat-centric, dal also contains hearty doses of ground spices like cumin, coriander, and ginger. Thought to contain healing properties in India’s Ayurvedic medicine tradition, dal nourishes on a cellular level and promotes overall wellness in several ways.

Lentils are high in

  • B vitamins
  • zinc
  • potassium
  • magnesium
  • folate
  • manganese
  • phosphorus
  • phytochemicals, which prevent diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes
  • fiber
  • iron
  • and are 25% protein

They have been linked to heart health, blood sugar management, lower blood pressure, and general fitness, as they increase satiety and discourage overeating.

Fresh cilantro has been linked to reduced symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, reduced anxiety, and blood sugar management.

In this recipe, ground cumin, coriander, ginger, and turmeric are all used; each of these spices is thought to host a litany of health properties, essentially adding up to reduced inflammation, blood sugar management, improved heart health, weight loss facilitation, and improved brain health and digestion.

(If you are curious about learning more about yam nutrition facts for this dal, please refer to my previous blog post for Sweet Baked Yam With Tahini, Cilantro, and Pepitas.)

It’s hard to have a bad day eating such colorful food…perhaps this is why golden turmeric is linked with depression relief.

Onions sauté in a little oil followed by yams, ginger, garlic, and red pepper. In go the lentils, spices, salt, tomatoes, and some water…

Everything simmers for about 35 minutes. Stir in some coconut cream for some richness and just try not to immediately scoop yourself a bowl! And don’t worry–dal freezes beautifully!

Red Lentil and Yam Dal

Adapted from Nigella Lawson's NYT recipe.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course healthy, Main Course, Side Dish, Vegetarian
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Tbs neutral flavored oil, such as canola
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups sweet potato, finely diced
  • 1 inch peeled ginger, finely minced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp aleppo chili flakes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 1/2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • cilantro, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sautuntil translucent, about 5 minutes. Add yam and sautee for another 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low and add ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes, and stir. Add lentils and ground spices to the pot, and stir until fully incorporated. Add tomatoes and 3 1/2 cups water, and raise heat to high until the mixture boils.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat until mixture is at a rapid simmer and cook about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until lentils are fully cooked and the liquid is absorbed. Season to taste with salt.
  • Remove from heat once liquid is absorbed and lentils are cooked, add coconut cream and stir. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
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Chicken and Spinach in Cream Sauce

I will never forget the first time I had mushrooms and cream sauce: the tang of white wine tempered the silken nature of the heavy cream, creating a luxurious blanket for the simmering creminis. It’s hard to argue with the allure of heavy cream, even when we are trying to be eco- or animal-conscious.

I don’t buy it often, and my fridge almost always has milk alternatives in it such as oat or almond–but every now and then, ya just want something so creamy it’s basically liquid butter.

This flavorful sauce beautifully coats tender poached chicken breasts and cooks fresh spinach in a matter of minutes. Grounded in earthy greens and brightened by white wine and a splash of lemon juice, this truly is a decadent, simple dish that makes enjoying dinner a no-brainer. Plus, it comes together in under an hour and utilizes only one skillet, which makes clean up a breeze.

While I would be hard pressed to label this a “healthy” dish, there are certain benefits to eating lean protein like chicken breasts (low cholesterol, high protein) and spinach.

Health Benefits of Spinach

Aside from containing vital nutrients like calcium, potassium and magnesium, spinach is also high in vitamin A and folate.

Vitamin A has been linked to eyesight, skin, and hair health, as well as reduced risk of certain cancers like cervical, lung, and bladder cancers.

Vitamin A also helps to fight acne and is an essential micronutrient necessary in collagen production, responsible for keeping us looking young and healthy, as well as boosting bone health and nutrient absorption.

Folate plays a key role in red blood cell formation and general cell health and function.

Isn’t it fun to know that, on a cellular level, our foods are working to keep the machinations of our amazing bodies in order?

What’s even more fun is knowing that folate is a nutrient that requires fat in order to be absorbed by the body, thus making this rich cream sauce the perfect vehicle for your leafy greens. How’s that for a justification? 😉

Simple ingredients means minimal effort, but it also often means crystal-clear flavor that is easier to balance.

What do I mean by “balance?”

Fat vs. acid is a great place to start. In this dish, the cream is obviously the major contributor in the “fat” column, while white wine plays heavily into the “acid.” The reason these two ingredients come together in this straightforward sauce is the fact that they play off each other nicely, making for a surprisingly complex, savory relationship. Add some garlic for pungency and shallot for character and you’ve got an excellent backdrop for whatever you like, whether that be chicken, fish, mushrooms, or vegetables.

Part of what keeps the chicken in this recipe so moist is the fact that it poaches after it sears. This has the double benefit of cooking off some of the alcohol in the white wine and further thickening the sauce.

Add some parsley for color and a squeeze of lemon for a burst of freshness. What this dish lacks in color it makes up for in flavor. Serve with rice or over a bed of fresh spinach, and enjoy!

Chicken and Spinach in Cream Sauce

This simple dish comes together in minutes and makes and excellent date-night or special week-end meal!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, French, Intuitive, traditional
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • cast iron pan or heavy bottomed skillet

Ingredients
  

  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • salt, for seasoning
  • freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 small shallots or one large
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as pinot grigio
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, packed
  • fresh parsley, to taste
  • fresh lemon wedges, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Season chicken breasts to taste with salt and pepper. Coat (dredge) in flour and set aside.
  • Grate shallot(s) and press garlic and set aside.
  • Heat oil over medium-high in a cast iron or heavy bottomed skillet. Sear chicken until golden brown on both sides, about 8 minutes each turn. The chicken should read 165°F on an instant read thermometer. If using high-quality, organic chicken, feel free to heat chicken to the "chef's temperature" of 155°F, if you are comfortable. Keep in mind the chicken will continue to poach in the white wine in the following steps.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add butter, garlic, and shallots. Cook, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and simmer about 10 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half. Flip the chicken breasts after 5 minutes, then remove using tongs. Place on a cutting board and cover with tin foil, allowing the meat to rest for several minutes while you finish the sauce.
  • Once the wine mixture has reduced significantly, add the cream and cook until the sauce can coat the back of a spoon, between 5 and 10 minutes. Once the sauce is complete, turn off the heat and add fresh spinach, stirring until incorporated and fully cooked, about 1 minute.
  • Cut chicken against the grain into 1/2" strips. Plate with spinach and cream sauce, ideally over a bed of rice. Serve hot with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.
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Pad Thai For Dummies

If you’re anything like me, Thai food is a friendly constant in your takeout rotation. While I am a sucker for anything curry, or chicken with cashews, or tom kha gai soup (but that’s another blog post), I invariably end up coming back to pad thai. When you crave it, nothing else will do, perhaps due to its tangy umami blast of flavor and the supreme satisfaction that comes with eating a bowl full of noodles; maybe you added the bean sprouts and maybe, this is the moment where you gloriously abandon vegetation of any kind and head straight for the scrumptious rice noodles and protein.

This pad thai recipe attempts to come as close to the “authentic” flavor one might find at a Thai restaurant as possible.

The only ingredient I had to go out of my way to purchase was tamarind purée, which one can certainly find at a local Asian Market.

Ways to Spruce Up Your Pad Thai

  • tofu, shrimp, chicken, beef, or other protein
  • bean sprouts
  • cilantro, garlic scapes, scallions, or other pungent, herby greens
  • chopped peanuts or cashews
  • chili oil, chili crunch, chili flakes

By and large, this is at its core a simple dish–remember, in Thailand this is often served as street food–so keeping it simple is a great way to honor pad thai’s distinct flavor.

Tamarind Paste–Do I Really Need It?

While a quick google search has proved that there are a plethora of pad thai recipes on the internet which skip this ingredient in favor of more…shall we say, “western”?…ingredients, I find that the tamarind paste not only is a key player in pad thai’s trademark tangy flavor, but it also contributes to the overall color of the dish as well. I have made this dish with and without tamarind paste and, I have to say, that certain je ne sais quoi is really present WITH the paste. Fortunately, you can find tamarind purée for as little as $4 and use it in both sweet and savory dishes…plus, who doesn’t love expanding their flavor dictionary?

What Is Tamarind?

Also called tamarindo or Indian date, tamarind is a fruit in the legume family which grows in tropical places. The brown, sticky pulp is harvested from around the seeds growing in crescent-shaped pods hanging from the tamarind tree, then is pulverized and sold as a paste. Tamarind’s distinctive flavor comes from its high tartaric acid content, which is most commonly connoted with grapes. (Cream of tartar is the powdered form of this acid, and is the ingredient which gives snickerdoodle cookies their familiar tang.)

Other Uses for Tamarind Purée

  • Meat tenderizer–tamarind and beef are a classic combination, as tamarind is one of the primary ingredients in Worcestershire sauce
  • Blended with spices and coconut milk (think: garam masala, curry, turmeric, ginger…)
  • Tempered with sugar in sweets or baked goods anywhere you might use lemon juice
  • Blended into shrubs or cocktails
  • Check out this recipe for agua fresca, a sort of tropical “lemonade” !

But back to pad thai…

First, gather your ingredients.

Here I’ve featured a block of extra firm tofu as my main source of protein, accompanied by two eggs; of course, choose whatever protein is going to make your pad thai dreams come true. Shrimp or prawns are an excellent choice.

Dredge the tofu in cornstarch and fry, rotating until golden; scramble the eggs; make the sauce; grate the ginger, garlic, and onion; cook the noodles…then assemble in a hot pan or wok!

Finish with herbs, any chili products, bean sprouts, and chopped nuts. Enjoy immediately, and restart the clock for “when it’s time to eat pad thai again”…but don’t wait too long! 😉

Pad Thai

Sauce-drenched noodles mix with roasted nuts, herbs, scrambled eggs, and protein come together on one happy plate. As close to "authentic" pad thai as can be!
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Thai
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • wok (optional)

Ingredients
  

  • 4 oz dry rice noodles
  • boiling water (enough to cover noodles)
  • 2 eggs, lightly scrambled
  • 1/2 medium onion, grated finely into a pulp
  • 3 garlic cloves, medium
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 8 oz extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry with paper towels, and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 Tbs coconut oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 Tbs peanut oil
  • 3 Tbs fish sauce
  • 3 Tbs brown sugar or coconut sugar
  • 3 Tbs tamarind water, (Note: If your tamarind comes in a thick paste, dilute with water until it is the consistency of orange juice.)
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • fresh bean sprouts, chili flakes or paste, chopped scallions or cilantro, roasted peanuts and/or cashews, optional

Instructions
 

  • Prepare any toppings you might like to add to your pad thai like herbs or scallions, roasted nuts, lime, or chili products and set aside.
  • Scramble the two eggs in a small bowl with a splash of room temperature water and set aside.
  • Grate onion, garlic, and ginger on the second-finest side of a box grater and set aside.
  • Whisk fish sauce, tamarind, brown sugar, and soy sauce in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup and set aside.
  • Cook your protein. If using tofu like featured above, drain and dry the tofu and cut it into one inch cubes. Dredge in cornstarch and salt. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat and sautee the tofu cubes until golden brown on all sides, rotating as necessary, about 15 minutes. Drain over paper towels.
  • Meanwhile, place your rice noodles in a wide, shallow bowl. Boil enough water to completely cover the noodles, and let them soak undisturbed for 7 minutes.
  • While the noodles are soaking, heat the peanut oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok, if using. Add the ginger, garlic, and onion "paste" and sautee until the onion becomes aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the beaten eggs to the pan and mix with a spatula until incorporated and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat down to medium and add the drained, slightly stiff noodles to the pan and stir. Cook, stirring constantly for another 3 minutes.
  • Add pad thai sauce (fish sauce mixture) and cook for another minute.
  • If using, toss in any bean sprouts and turn off the heat. Finish with a generous squeeze of lime and the sauteed tofu and stir.
  • Top with herbs, nuts, or chili flakes and serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
Keyword better than takeout, easy gluten free, feel good food, feel good food plan, gluten free, gluten free recipes, intuitive chef, intuitive cook, intuitive cooking, intuitive cuisine, intuitive eater, intuitive eating, intuitive eats, intuitive food plan, intuitive recipe, pad thai, rice noodles, Thai cooking, Thai cuisine, thai influence

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Baked Mac & Cheese

Some people say “I love you” with cards and flowers. Others do it with mac and cheese.

Here in the South, baked mac and cheese seems to be a dietary requirement; it’s on nearly every menu that in any way boasts a connection to “soul food” and can be found both as dressed up rotini with a fancy cheese sauce made from gruyere AND unfussy elbows tossed in a Velveeta solution. One thing all of these versions have in common is their unequivocal deliciousness…one doesn’t even mind that with each forkful their arteries are clogging and, with each second helping they are solidifying a pending commitment at the gym. Sometimes, the heart just wants cheesy carbs and, being a heart-leading individual, I find this echo of longing hard to stave off for more than a week or two.

If you are reading this, chances are you too enjoy a sinfully large heap of steaming, cheese-coated noodles from time to time. I won’t bother you with the nutrition facts of today’s recipe, as sometimes it truly is better not to know.

What I will say is, it is really hard to have a bad day when you’re eating bacon, cheese, hamburger meat, and spiced breadcrumbs all in one bite. Believe me. I tried. And I wasn’t even mad to eat this as dinner for several days in a row…or lunch, for that matter. Mac and cheese is just kind of magical that way.

If you have children or are trying to pinch pennies, this recipe is especially for you. Each serving is incredibly filling and offers a significant amount of protein, and definitely has enough, erm, caloric value to keep even your most athletic family member going from lunch until dinner. Add a vegetable and a salad to your plate and you’ve got a “balanced” meal! (If you’re feeling particularly virtuous, throw some chopped cauliflower into your pasta water in the last few minutes before al dente and mix in with the ground beef and cheese sauce…but let’s just say this dish has no intentions of claiming to be “healthy”…)

Mac and Cheese Facts

  • Thomas Jefferson’s black chef, James Hemmings, is the first known person to cook mac and cheese in America.
  • Cheese dates back around 10,000 years and was originally made as a way to preserve farm fresh milk.
  • The first cheese factory opened in the United States in 1851, which caused cheddar cheese to be one of the first foods affected by the Industrial Revolution.
  • Velveeta cheese has over 22 ingredients and is no longer regulated as a cheese.
  • Kraft mac and cheese was originally created in order to provide the cheapest protein to American families possible.
  • The recipe for macaroni and cheese likely originated from Northern Europe, though the first record of a recognizable recipe dates back to 1769.

For more on mac and cheese, check out this article from the Smithsonian.

Good lord, it looks like nearly equal parts cheese and pasta…oh well. Who’s complaining about this? I ask the reader! Bacon and lean hamburger meat make delightful additions to the bubbling, cheesy pasta, which, as you can see here, consisted of two different pasta shapes I was trying to get rid of. This is a comfort food, not a gastronomic masterpiece, after all.

I cooked the bacon slices then snipped into bits using kitchen shears, then browned the beef in the bacon fat, which I reserved when the meat was done. Featured next to these two plates is a bowl full of panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with oregano, garlic salt, onion salt, and paprika.

What we have here is cheesy, meaty noodles. 🙂 I made a simple roux using the reserved bacon/beef fat and butter, then added milk and grated cheese. In go the cooked noodles and ground beef, then bacon bits, breadcrumbs, and a sprinkling of grated parmesan for good measure. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are beginning to brown. Broil on hi for a few minutes if you want it extra crispy.

Add something green to your plate to pretend you are a grown up and enjoy the fruits of your labor; now pull out your colander and get ready to make mac and cheese! 🙂

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Baked Mac & Cheese

Cheesy noodles nestled with bacon and ground beef are topped with crispy, spiced breadcrumbs for comfort food perfection!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 55 mins
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Comfort Food, Southern Cooking

Equipment

  • Dutch oven

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 pieces thick cut bacon, cooked, chopped, and with rendered fat reserved
  • 1 16 oz package of ground beef, lean is ok
  • 1 1/2 cups panko, unseasoned
  • 1 tsp paprika, smoked or unsmoked
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning (or substitute equal parts dried oregano and parsley)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 3/4 tsp onion salt
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 16 oz pasta, shape of your choice--rotini is great for maximum sauciness
  • 4 Tbs butter, salted or unsalted
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups grated cheese, tightly packed (cheddar is classic but feel free to sub gruyere or gouda)
  • 1 cup grated parmesan

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  • In a large pan over medium-high heat, cook bacon until cooked but not quite crispy. Snip into 1/4" strips or roughly chop and set aside.
  • In the same skillet used to cook the bacon, brown the ground beef over medium heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove beef and drain on a plate covered in paper towels. Pour any remaining fat from the pan into a dish to use later. You should have about 1 tablespoon.
  • Mix breadcrumbs and spices in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Bring a pot of heavily salted water to boil on the stove. Meanwhile, grate the cheese. Boil pasta until just cooked, 8-12 minutes depending on the shape. Drain in a colander over the sink. If you are worried about the pasta sticking into one mass while you make the roux, reserve enough cooking water to keep the pasta wet while you prepare the cheese sauce. Pasta cooking water contains starch which prevents the pasta from sticking together.
  • In a medium-sized dutch oven, heat butter and reserved bacon fat over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, turn heat down to low and add flour, whisking until incorporated. Cook the flour over low heat until it foams and turns a golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add milk, whisking continuously, until fully incorporated. It may seem liquidy at first; add the grated cheddar (or alternative) cheese and whisk until the cheese has fully melted.
  • Add cooked ground beef and drained pasta to the dutch oven and stir until fully incorporated.
  • Dress the top of the mixture with the cooked bacon bits. Sprinkle the spiced bread crumbs over the top of the pasta until fully covered. Add an even layer of parmesan over the top and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. If you desire crispier breadcrumbs, broil over high heat for several minutes. Serve immediately!
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Hearty McQueen Family Scones

In the wide world of baked goods, maybe one sweet treat in every twenty is worth baking (or eating!) again. Oftentimes, we bakers cover our “sins” in sugar, which easily becomes the dominant flavor in whatever we are creating. While it is true that this often has crowd-pleasing results, what we gain in popularity we often lose in nuance. Have you ever taken a bite of a buttercream frosted cupcake which instantly made your teeth hurt? We’ve all been there. And while the point of frosting is to be a sweet addition to a cake or cookie or whoopee pie, nowhere in the rules does it say it must be only sweet. The challenge then becomes: how can I bring out the positive flavors in the butter? Can I add some salt for increased complexity, and to balance the sugar? Are there any flavored extracts I might use? What if I sweetened with honey instead of powdered sugar? Et cetera.

Impassioned feelings about frosting quality aside, these scones are anything but basic sugary fluff. Fortified with oats and moistened with buttermilk, these barely-sweet scones offer tart cherries where others might offer chocolate chips. This is not your average baked good, people. This scone is the stuff of legends, and makes for a breakfast of similarly epic proportions. There’s really no word for them better than “hearty;” so if that’s not your bag (and I get it, it’s not everyone’s bag) then you may want to check out this recipe for decadent chocolate cake instead!

soak your cherries ! 🙂

I find I have best results when I soak my cherries in water before baking. That’s them relaxing in a jar full of water in the upper right corner.

Why Soak?

Those who fail to soak may end up with a drier overall baked good, as the cherry will draw moisture from the dough during the baking process. If you want your scones around for more than one day, moisture becomes even more precious–not to mention the cherries have a much more enjoyable texture when still plump and juicy after baking. So, soak your cherries anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.

Are These Scones Good For Me? If So, Are They Boring?

The short answer to the first part is, all things considered, for a sweet treat yes, they are relatively healthy. There’s no shortage of butter, but hey, these scones have lasting power that may save you some calories down the road. Plus they’ve got fiber from the oats and vitamins C, A, and K, antioxidants, and several minerals from cherries to boot. It’s not as good for you as taking a supplement, but is, perhaps, tastier, and, perhaps, more comforting.

Which brings us to the “are they healthy and therefore uninteresting” part of the posited question. If you like textural juxtaposition in your mouthfeel experience when eating, feeling nourished and also like you’re getting away with something at the same time, and eating cherries in any capacity, then chances are these scones probably won’t bore you. I have probably made these scones dozens of times and still reliably crave them. But if, being a reasonable and sophisticated adult, you already think healthy and delicious don’t have to be mortal enemies, then you probably won’t take much convincing about these scones…fiber content aside.

use a pastry cutter or your fingers to incorporate butter <3

If you have a pastry cutter at home, now is its moment! But if you are one of those who takes pleasure in the tactile, you may enjoy incorporating the cold butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers. Somewhere, I have a pastry cutter which is feeling neglected…

dough disc

Flatten your dough into a disc about an inch and a half thick, slice into eight relatively uniform triangles, and bake until golden brown. Something to consider: the more you incorporate your ingredients, the tougher your scones will be. Every time you push and pull on your dough, you are participating in forming a gluten network. While this is great for breads, most folks tend to prefer a tender scone. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until everything just comes together.

Best when shared (but you already knew that)! These scones last, at best, for two full days but really are best when eaten the day you decide to bake them. You can always freeze them in a freezer-safe bag if you think eight scones is too much to enjoy or distribute.

Hearty McQueen Scones

Soaked tart cherries and wholesome oats mean this buttermilk-moistened scone has some serious lasting power! Makes a great breakfast.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine baking, Healthy, traditional
Servings 8 scones

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 8 Tbs butter, (salted is fine)
  • 1 cup whole oats
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries, soaked in water at least 30 minutes to overnight
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar together. Add butter in small cubes, and combine using a pastry cutter or fork.
  • Add oats, cherries, and buttermilk, mixing after each individual addition. After adding the buttermilk, mix until just combined.
  • Shape dough into a disc about an inch and a half thick, using a floured surface and your hands.
  • Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the dough into eight triangular pieces. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Keep in an airtight container up to two days.
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Coriander-Crusted Tuna Steak With Coconut Rice and Quick Pickles

One thing I have truly loved about exploring the South is venturing into local butcher shops. One can find anything from alligator and frog legs to bacon, boxes of cow, and lamb. It was with great self-restraint that I passed up the pricey swordfish in favor of the slightly-more-economical tuna steaks.

If you’ve never had freshly ground coriander, pairing it with tuna is an excellent introduction. Its subtly bitter, floral quality is a delight to the senses and sidles up to tuna’s meaty character with a surprising amount of acidity. If you’re not sure what else do to with whole coriander, consider using it as a chicken rub or brewing it as tea with a little fennel and cardamom.

This truly is a “treat yo’self” dinner; your plate will be full of fresh herbs and healing whole spices, healthy fats from the coconut milk, and protein from the tuna. Great for a date night or weekend dinner, or post-workout protein binge.

Why Tuna?

Tuna is very low in fat and calories, and contains no carbohydrates. This means it is nearly pure protein. In a 3.5 ounce serving, tuna contains 20 grams of protein. This is good for folks who are trying to watch their weight or cholesterol intake. Tuna also contains antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids as well as several minerals, including magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium, which helps to counter the deleterious effects of any trace amounts of mercury which may be present. Google recommends eating tuna no more than three times a month, for those of you who might be concerned about mercury. The average tuna can is about five ounces, whereas most steaks are around eight.

After my ingredients were prepped, it was just a matter of cooking the rice, soaking the quick pickles in an air-tight bag with their sugar-vinegar solution, and searing the steak.

Chopped cilantro, scallions, lemongrass, fish sauce, and lime juice percolate in a bowl while the cucumbers pickle and rice and tuna cook. Slice up your steak, spoon up some of the herb mixture, and enjoy!

This will definitely be in my rotation for favorite dinners…

Coriander-Crusted Tuna Steak With Coconut Rice and Quick Pickles

Low-carb, high protein dinner.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course dinner, healthy, Main Course
Cuisine Healthy, Intuitive
Servings 2 people

Equipment

  • rice cooker (optional)

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup white rice, ideally jasmine or sushi rice
  • 1 cup chicken or veggie stock
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 6 oz tuna steaks, about 1 inch thick
  • 2 Tbs untoasted sesame oil, plus more for brushing
  • salt, to taste
  • 4 Tsp whole coriander seeds, ground in spice mill or mortar and pestle
  • 4 Tsp freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 Tbs sesame seeds, untoasted
  • 3 Tbs black sesame seeds (optional)
  • 1 large lime, juiced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, with tops removed and tender bulb sliced into thin medallions
  • 2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 scallions, sliced halfway up the stalk
  • 1 medium-heat red pepper, such as an Aji or Cayenne, sliced into thin rounds (remove the seeds if you are sensitive to heat)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar, unseasoned
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 1 Persian cucumber, sliced into thin rounds

Instructions
 

  • If using, add rice, chicken or veggie stock, and coconut milk to the rice cooker and turn on. Otherwise, combine the three ingredients in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer undisturbed until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Using a mandoline or sharp knife, thinly slice cucumbers and red pepper into rounds. Combine rice vinegar and sugar together and stir until completely dissolved. Pour vinegar into a quart sized zip-top bag with cucumber and pepper slices and seal, removing as much of the air as possible so veggies are coated in the solution. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, pat tuna steaks dry with a paper towel. Brush with 2 Tbs sesame oil and lightly season with salt, bearing in mind you will be topping the steaks with fish sauce and lime juice which accentuate salty flavors. Generously pat ground pepper, coriander, and sesame seeds onto the steaks until the surface is completely covered. Set aside.
  • Combine chopped cilantro, lemongrass bulb medallions, scallions, fish sauce, and lime juice in a medium bowl and stir. Set aside.
  • Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat until smoking. Add roughly 3 Tbs of sesame oil to the pan, followed by your steaks. Steaks are cooked after 2 minutes per side, but I prefer my steaks closer to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool. Cut into thin strips and place on a plate with coconut rice and drained quick pickles. Top steak strips with cilantro mixture. Serve immediately.
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Creamy Pumpkin Pasta (V)

Picture this: you’ve just found the most perfect recipe for homemade pumpkin pie. You’ve cleared you schedule, cleaned your kitchen, purchased the ingredients…and now all there is left to do is bake.

You begin adding ingredients to the mixing bowl with precision and care until you come to the pinnacle moment that gives your pie its very essence: the can of pumpkin puree. (Of course, if you take the time to process your own pumpkin every time you bake a pie, my hat is off to you. Sometimes we only have time for a two hour project, so a can of the sweet orange stuff will have to do!)

After adding the necessary puree to the bowl, your stomach falls to the floor. You realize, hands shaking, that you have an odd amount of leftover pumpkin in the can. You know logically that if you cover it with cling film and try to save it, it will kick around in the fridge for longer than you’d like until you find some use for it or at last throw it away. Even the dogs have started rolling their eyes at you when you continue to offer them spoonfuls…they’ve seen this all play out before.

Fear not, reader. There is an easy, delicious use for the odd amount of pumpkin puree that you’ve always wondered what to do with. The solution in this case, and in many other cases, is: pasta.

this recipe is so easy and cheap to make, and takes very little time to assemble. here’s to another simple weeknight dinner!

For those of you who are paying attention to how much dairy you consume, this recipe was created with the intention of making it vegan. (If you’d rather have your dairy, feel free to substitute heavy whipping cream for coconut cream and parmesan for capers.) With the holiday season upon us, I found myself craving something relatively healthy and light.

cooked pasta is introduced to pumpkin and coconut cream and blended

This recipe can all be made in one pot, for those of you who prefer to do less dishes. I have a feeling I am not alone in this…

Toast the walnuts while you are making your sauce. Chop them up to your desired coarseness when they are cool enough to touch. Add red pepper flakes, torn parsley, and capers.

…not a bad way to end the day !

Creamy Pumpkin Pasta (Vegan)

This healthy, one-pot dinner makes a great ending to a busy day.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Healthy, Intuitive, vegan
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 8 oz pasta of your choice
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, with cream
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs capers
  • 4 Tbs fresh parsley, torn or chopped
  • 1/4 Tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • In a large, heavy-bottomed sauce pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.
  • Chop parsley and set aside. Measure out pumpkin and coconut and set aside.
  • Boil pasta until al dente, 7-12 minutes. Meanwhile, toast walnuts until fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes. When cool enough to touch, coarsley chop walnuts and set aside.
  • Drain pasta. Add oil to pot and turn heat to medium. Add red pepper flakes and "bloom" in the oil, cooking for several minutes until the color and flavor starts to bleed into the oil.
  • Turn heat to low, add pumpkin and coconut cream and stir. Turn heat off, and add drained pasta, parsley, walnuts, and capers, stirring to combine. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.
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Other Ways to Use Up Pumpkin Puree