bulgur basil brinjal bake

Today was one of those days that called for inventing recipes from whatever was in my fridge. For brunch I made a fritatta with artichoke hearts, broccoli, mozzarella, and spicy veggie sausage. And for dinner (and for lunches for the next few days) I threw an even more random assortment of foods into the oven. I started out making sort of a casserole, and then discovered halfway through that I had a half box of lasagna noodles, so it turned into a sort of casserole-lasagna-bake. Caslake? Not so happy with that name. Well, I had bulgur, a ton of basil, and some veggies in my casserole-lasagna-bake. Eager for alliteration in my title of this baked creation, I was excited to discover that eggplant goes by many names, one of which is “brinjal.” So here you have it: Bulgur Basil Brinjal Bake.

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First I sliced an eggplant and two zucchinis and baked them at 400 for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile I cooked 1/2 cup of bulgur wheat with a cube of vegetable bouillon. I layered the bottom of a lasagna/casserole dish with some Monte Bene farm fresh tomato sauce (a brand I really like lately) and some lasanga noodles. Then I layered the bulgur over that, and then a layer of eggplant, topped with another layer of sauce and a layer of basil almost as thick as the sauce. After another layer of noodles, I added the zucchini, then the remaining sauce and a sprinkle of part-skim mozzarella. I also gave the sauce a hefty shake of red pepper flakes – you can leave that out if you’re not into the spiciness – and baked at 400 for about 30 minutes until the top was brown and crispy!

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wintery spring rolls & miso salmon

Sometimes the main course is an afterthought. It’s true. It’s probably not how one is ideally “supposed” to plan a menu, but given that I’m not running a restaurant, I think it’s ok.

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Wintery spring rolls

I’d been drooling over the idea of these wintery spring rolls for weeks, from the moment they were posted on my favorite food blog. I followed the recipe pretty closely but have a few notes: 1. I don’t (yet) own a mortal and pestle. I actually looked into getting one yesterday, and was deterred by the fact that Williams-Sonoma only had a $99 one! I ended up using an attachment on my hand blender to sort of pulse the ingredients into a paste. It was either that or saran wrap and a hammer, and I opted for least messy. 2. It is nearly impossible to assemble spring rolls in a mini-kitchen. The only other time I’ve made them (Vegan week 2011), I was actually in my boyfriend’s enormous (by NY standards) kitchen, and last night I didn’t quite realize the extent of what I was getting myself into until I found myself soaking spring roll wrappers in a bowl in the sink, grabbing lettuce off the stovetop, and reaching for my tofu stash on top of the fridge. 3. The recipe says you don’t need a dipping sauce, which is true if you are good at slathering the brown sugar-garlic mixture on the tofu. I chose to make a peanut-soy-rice vinegar-mirin mix anyway, with a touch of red pepper flakes, and it was a great compliment. A little added extra challenge if you’re going to take them for lunch the next day and try to eat them in a classroom however…

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Wintery spring rolls & salmon with miso glaze

Oh yes, and the broiled salmon with miso glaze, the afterthought… I can take exactly zero credit for this expertly cooked picture-perfect fish, as Chris made the whole thing AND battled my tiny broiler and fended off the dog with a garbage can barricade at the same time. Recipe can be found here. This will definitely be a favorite recipe in the future, and might even be what I design the appetizer or side dish around next time, instead of the opposite…


cauliflower crust pizza

I came across this recipe last October, and I just now got around to actually making it. And boy I’m glad I did, because it’s not only super simple to make but also very tasty – and gluten-free! (It is a total accident by the way, that I’ve been posting so many gluten-free recipes lately).

Cauliflower crust pizza

So yes, the crust of the pizza is made out of cauliflower. I’m sure some of you are wrinkling your noses in disgust, but while it doesn’t taste exactly like pizza crust, I would dare anyone to be able to taste the cauliflower. In addition to the nutritional benefit of avoiding a heap of starchy white flour dough underneath your pizza toppings, you also get the benefit of all that cauliflower has to offer – folate (for cell division and growth & blood cell production), Vitamin C (antioxidant, antihistamine, immune booster, and scurvy-preventer), and fiber (do you really not know what that’s for?). Cauliflower is even believed to have anti-cancer properties.

My pizza was topped with organic tomato sauce, onions, zucchini, mushrooms, red bell peppers, red pepper flakes, and a sprinkling of part-skim mozzarella (there’s plenty of cheese in the crust so it doesn’t need much more). Your topping choices are of course endless, so play away! (Word of advice: the cauliflower lends itself to a less stiff and structured crust than regular pizza crust, so this is best eaten with a fork. Not very American, sorry, but it’s better than having tomato sauce all over your lap).


ginger-lime kale with squash, chick peas & pomegranate

Apparently I can’t stop cooking and food blogging while on break from classes – the thrill of free time!

So I just discovered a new magazine called Clean Eating, which I might even consider subscribing to if they didn’t have a million and one recipes on their website. “Clean eating” isn’t some trendy fad or diet by the way; it just means consuming whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. I’m sure we could all use a little clean eating right now – I know I could – after a holiday full of more fatty, sugary, alcohol-y indulgences than a good nutrition student should admit to consuming.

This wintery super nutritious recipe caught my eye and it is actually eye-catching with its multitude of colors. If you’ve ever heard the advice that you should eat the colors of the rainbow every day, it’s true. Different colored foods provide a wide range of nutrients that complement each other and contribute to a balanced diet. For example in this meal you’ve got kale, loaded with Vitamin K, C, and A, butternut squash for Vitamin A and beta-carotenes, chick peas filled with protein, zinc, fiber, and folate, and pomegranate seeds, a superfood of vitamins and polyphenols. Between the pomegranate seeds and the lime and ginger, it was not only a rainbow of color but a taste and texture explosion! And without further ado, the recipe:

Ginger-lime kale

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Toss 2 cups of peeled, seeded, chopped butternut squash with 1/2 tsp of olive oil, spread on a parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes until tender. (Side note: I hate peeling and chopping squash – it’s extremely hard and I almost lost a fingertip to it last fall! Luckily the store across the street from me sells pre-peeled chopped squash). While the squash is in the oven, saute a diced medium onion in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then add 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger. After about 30 seconds add 2 bunches of washed sliced kale leaves and cook for about 10 minutes. Then add 1 1/2 cups of chick peas, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes. Add the squash, remove from the heat, stir in 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, sprinkle with 1/2 cup of pomegranate seeds, and serve! This can be served over rice, quinoa, or your choice of grain, or on its own. And to keep it tasting fresh when I take some to work for lunch tomorrow, I’ll bring the lime and pomegranate separately and add them after reheating.


pumpkin (and-unexpectedly-peanut) soup

I really have no excuses for this recipe. I didn’t make pumpkin pie for thanksgiving and have lots of leftover cans of pureed pumpkin. I didn’t have real pumpkins lying around. I didn’t go to the farmers market. It’s just fall and I wanted pumpkin soup for lunch!

Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin soup is super easy, especially if you used canned pureed pumpkin (if you’re going this route, make sure you get just plain pureed pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix!). If you feel like roasting, scooping out, and pureeing a whole fresh pumpkin, go for it. Whichever way you get your pureed pumpkin, take about 4 cups of it and throw it in a pot with 6 cups of chicken stock (yes, homemade would be nice, but a nice store bought kind works if you’re pressed for time). Add a roughly chopped onion, a clove of garlic, 5 or 6 whole peppercorns, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme. Bring it to a boil, then reduce and simmer for 30 minutes. Take it out in batches and puree it, or use one of those handy hand blenders right inside the pot if you have one. Then simmer for another 30 minutes and add any other spices you want to taste – salt & pepper, maybe a pinch of nutmeg, cloves, and ginger, or curry or cayenne. This soup can go many different ways. You can also add a splash of half and half, milk, or cream at the end, if you want a creamier soup. I’ve also heard of adding peanut butter to make a peanut pumpkin soup… hmm, and WHY haven’t I tried that yet?! I don’t normally run back to the kitchen mid-post, but let’s do this right now.

Ok, I just separated a small batch of the soup, added a touch of peanut butter (the all natural unsalted organic kind, where the only ingredient is peanuts), took one bite, and added some pb to the rest! I didn’t go overboard – probably 1/3 cup of peanut butter went into the soup pot. I was a little worried that the thyme would clash with the taste, but it actually made it a much more interesting flavor. Doesn’t peanut butter make everything better?