First off, I know that post title is a bit of a mouthful. And that’s the pared down version! I also wanted to tell you right off the bat about the peppery watermelon radishes, crunchy, pink pickled onions, tender kale and nutty pepitas. Suffice it to say this grain bowl is bursting with flavors, colors and textures and is my new favorite make-ahead (and eat for days in a row because I’m hooked) meal. We’ve been stuck in a dinner rut for a while now and seem to make the same basic pastas, soups and pizzas week after week, and those old standbys have been tasting…blah. I’ve had very little appetite the whole time I’ve been pregnant (weird, huh) so the biggest motivator behind this grain bowl was making something really healthy and super flavorful, so even when I’m not that hungry I’m excited to eat it. And it worked! This is the first meal I’ve eaten in a couple weeks that I haven’t forced down half of, then passed off on Ponny, my dutiful husband/human composter. I’ve even gone back for seconds.
Let me tell you why. First, the corn salad – my inauthentic yet addictive version of esquites – is incredibly creamy yet fresh tasting, with a little bit of char on the corn and a sprinkle of cilantro and red onion. The chickpeas are wonderfully crunchy and flavorful thanks to a dash of cumin and cayenne. I love pickled red onions on anything and everything. Who wouldn’t!? And then the dressing. At first the cilantro is really bright and in your face and then, magically, it mellows out to a creamy, nuttiness with a subtle kick of garlic. It ties the whole thing together and I’m tempted to put it on every sandwich, bowl, pizza and sundae I make from now on. I cooked the brown rice in vegetable stock, so even the base of this bowl is extra savory.
First things first: Ponny and I bought a house!!! I’ve mentioned it a couple times already, but it feels a lot more real now that we’re actually starting work on our little fixer. It’s a 1918 bungalow with a brick fireplace, airy kitchen and stunning original features–okay, so that’s just my positive spin on the fact that it still has all original wiring, plumbing and zero hardwired light fixtures. Yikes. Still, I am so, so happy to own a place of our own after living in apartments–at long last I can paint the walls whatever color I want. I can drill holes wherever I feel like it!
We’re planning to spend every spare moment over the next several months bringing the house into the 21st century, which won’t leave much time for cooking. I don’t want to resort to eating fast food every night, so I’ve been brainstorming healthy and satisfying meals that can be thrown together with minimal effort after a long day of home projects. One of my favorites so far is this spring greens pizza–it takes about five minutes to prep, 15 minutes to bake and even less time to devour because it is so tasty.
The pizza has all my favorite farmer’s market greens of the moment: asparagus shaved into thin ribbons, adorable fiddleheads, peppery nasturtium leaves and tender micro greens. They’re piled high on a olive oil base, dotted with chèvre and sprinkled with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. The vegetables bring a wealth of flavors and textures to the pizza and the creaminess of the goat cheese balances the bolder green flavors–it’s one of those meals that’s so simple yet so full of flavor you’re left wondering how so many yummy taste molecules were able to fit into every little bite. Continue Reading
When you read the word ramen, do you picture a dehydrated noodle block with a packet full of msg? Yeah, me too. Until recently, that is. Ramen shops have been popping up all over the place and the steaming bowls of savory broth and slurp-worthy noodles they serve up are a far cry from the 20 cent stuff. If you like al dente pasta, you’ll probably love fresh ramen noodles – they’re springy and chewy and fun to eat, since you’re supposed to be noisy. Drop them into some homemade broth and you’ll have the most immensely satisfying one-bowl meal you never knew you could make from scratch.
This ramen bowl is vegan (if you take away the egg on top), but you’d never know it. Vegetable broth has a reputation for being thin and flavorless but I’m here to tell you that when you put the right things in it, it’s anything but! I simmered shiitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, ginger and some seasonings for about five hours, so the stock had plenty of time to soak up the hearty, spicy and umami flavors the ingredients have to offer.
Since I gave the flavors plenty of time to meld together, the resulting broth was rich, complex and satisfyingly salty – the perfect backdrop for the noodles, which don’t have much flavor on their own. Now, about the noodles. I’ve always been intimidated by the idea of making my own noodles of any kind. It seemed like a delicate process that might take years to master. Then the kind folks at Marcato sent me one of their pasta makers, and I found out that it’s not difficult at all – it just takes time. It’s not a 20 minute weeknight dinner, but give it a try on a weekend – I promise it’s worth it! Continue Reading