Miso-Curry Glazed Squash, Tofu and Kale with Chickpeas, Potatoes and Pepitas

Yesterday I indulged in nursing my sore throat (before it turns into more), and found the combination of fresh ginger, lemon slices and cayenne pepper steeped in hot water to be oddly soothing yet energizing. I  may like it more than coffee.

I spent 20 minutes off the sofa putting together a healthy, clean meal. This is my own spin on (though very close to) a recipe from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. Some ingredients altered or added based on what I had on hand.

MISO-CURRY SQUASH with TOFU and KALE

  • 2 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 4 small butter potatoes, cubed
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white miso paste
  • 1 Tbsp red thai curry paste
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cups raw kale, de-stemmed and torn into small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups (one can) chickpeas, drained
  • pepitas (pumpkin seeds) to garnish

Miso-curry glazed Squash, Tofu and Kale. Mixed with chickpeas, potatoes and pumpkin seeds.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Get a large bowl, add cubed squash and potatoes. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, miso and curry paste to make a thick paste. Put 1/3 cup of the new paste in a bowl with squash and potatoes, gently mixing by hand to coat veggies. Add cubed tofu to bowl and gently mix that by hand, careful not to break apart the tofu. Add to the rimmed baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes, tossing once or twice throughout.

Using the same large mixing bowl (cut down on amount of dishes to clean!), add the raw kale. Add the lemon juice to the remaining miso-curry paste, whisk, and add to the bowl with raw kale. Massage the dressing into the raw kale. Add chickpeas to bowl of kale and mix.

When the veggies are done cooking and have cooled slightly, add them to the large bowl with kale and chickpeas and mix everything together. Serve with pepitas as a garnish (optional).

Miso-curry glazed Squash, Tofu and Kale. Mixed with chickpeas, potatoes and pumpkin seeds.

This recipe makes enough for about 4 servings (as a main dish), 6-8 servings as a side dish. I’d highly recommend this if you find yourself going to a Holiday dinner and want to take something vegan but not too “weird” (ugh) that will please all palates.

VIDEO: Garden Gazpacho with Chef Wendy of Balasia/The Honey Underground

What a special treat!

One of my FAVORITE CHEFS OF ALL TIME, Chef Wendy Landiak, joined us at the Grow Indie Gardens while taping Episode 5 of our cooking show (online in a week!), to make a super-fresh gazpacho.

My new favorite memory of Wendy is now the image of her walking through the garden, cutting fresh veggies with her chef’s knife, and then lugging her Vitamix to a hay bale to set up her workspace.

It truly doesn’t get fresher than this, folks!

Garden Gazpacho with Wendy of Balasia + The Honey Underground

RECIPE for Garden Gazpacho

As you can see, nothing was meticulously measured, so here’s an idea of what went into the soup:

  • Fill a blender halfway with various tomatoes (rough chop large tomatoes into large chunks)
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves only
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp (or more to taste) smoked salt and/or Himalayan pink salt (if you don’t have these, regular salt will do, but it may not be as exotic!)
  • 2-3 hot peppers (lemondrop pepper, jalapeno, or hot pepper of choice! Removing the seeds will cut down on the heat. Add these to taste. Maybe start with one if you’re wary of the heat!)
  • 1 and 1/2 bell peppers (red and/or green), rough chopped in chunks

Start blending on a low-medium speed until gazpacho is blended. Stop while it still maintains chunky texture! That’s all. 

Optional: Drizzled with good olive oil, torn pieces of stale bread as makeshift croutons, garnish with fresh basil, add olive oil and heat on the stove for a pasta sauce

Wendy Landiak of Balasia and The Honey Underground on Save the Kales! making Garden Gazpacho… IN the garden.

Wendy cut up a bell pepper to make some impromptu spoons. And hey – it’s even kid-approved!

You can find Wendy at the Balasia stand at Farmer’s Markets across the Lehigh Valley. And if you EVER have the chance to attend her supper club, The Honey Underground (named after a poetic way of describing carrots), you MUST. GO. You must.

Find out where Wendy’s going, what she’s making, and how you can get her food by following the FACEBOOK page, or checking out her WEBSITE. 

Did I stress how delicious her food is? (Here’s a post I made about The Honey Underground — pictures!) Organic, local, always vegan, fusion-food inspired by cuisines around the world. She also caters events, will do private cooking classes, and is knowledgable about food allergies and even Ayurvedic cooking.

Ginger Maple Miso Fairytale Eggplant

Once upon a time…

We were shooting the “on location” segment for Episode 4, and I was delighted to find these gorgeous and quirky eggplants at the market from Apple Ridge Farm. These are “fairytale eggplants”, a perfect name for their whimsical color and tiny size.

If Jackson Pollock got a hold of some eggplants then put them in the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids machine, they would turn into these guys.

Fairytale Eggplant, Apple Ridge Farms, PA.

I left them on the table in a bowl for a few days because they are just so pretty! Finally, I made a simple ginger miso marinade and roasted them in the oven. This is a very easy dish with no added oil (expect to spray the pan), and the eggplants become so creamy. Their skin is very tender and doesn’t need to be removed.

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  • about 15-20 fairytale eggplants (or 2-3 purple large eggplant cut like pickle spears)
  • 1 Tbsp white miso paste
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2-inch chunk ginger, grated
  • 1 large clove garlic, grated

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the stems from the tops of the eggplant, then slice in half vertically.  Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, and place the eggplant on the sheet, cut side up.

In a small bowl, add the miso and the hot water. (Make sure water is hot, it helps dissolve the miso paste.) Whisk until miso is dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and whisk together.

Miso marinated roasted eggplant.

Brush marinade on eggplant until all is used up. Put eggplant in the oven for 25 minutes, or until it becomes very soft and creamy.

You can garnish with a little cilantro and sesame meeds, or crushed peanuts!

Miso Maple Ginger Fairytale Eggplant, roasted.

Maple Miso Ginger Fairytale Eggplant, roasted.

This makes a great, low-fat side dish or serve it as a main course along with a big green salad. The flavors lend themselves well to accompany Asian influenced dishes.

These would also be excellent on the grill!

Browned Baby Bok Choy and Vegetable Potsticker (Warm) Salad

Here’s the recipe from one of my “Little Spoon” articles from Lehigh Valley Style online.

Mmmm, browned bok choy.

I don’t know if “salad” is exactly the right term for this, but truth be told (as cliche as it may be), I love salads. I think one of the best meals to be had is going to a potluck or party and piling your plate with eight different salads. They are also cost effective and easy since the underlying rule of most any salad is put a bunch of stuff together. 

 Here’s one I came up with after a trip to the Asian grocery store. It was inspired by baby bok choy because they are CUTE and brown up really pretty! I like vegetables anyway, but I admit to liking them even more when they are adorable. 

Bok Choy and Potsticker salad

BROWNED BOK CHOY AND POTSTICKER SALAD

1/2 bag vegetable potstickers
1 and 1/2 cups cut carrots
1 and 1/2 cups daikon radish, cut in strips
1 large bunch baby bok choy (“toy choy”), halved through the stems so leaves stay together
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 inch of peeled fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder.
Garnish with: fresh cilantro, crushed peanuts, lime wedge, chili sauce, toasted sesame oil

Cook potstickers according to package directions. (Usually this means browning them in a pan with a little olive oil, then adding just a bit of water to steam them quickly.) Set aside.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and sautee carrots and radish along with garlic, ginger, Chinese five-spice and tamari for 5-7 minutes, until crisp tender. Set aside.

Place the bok choy into the pan (which should still have a light coating of olive oil in it) cut, side down, on a medium-high heat until the cut side starts to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Do not stir; only cook the cut side. Remove from heat when the bottoms are browned and the outside is still fresh and crispy.

Mix the potstickers and carrot mix in a large bowl with most of the bok choy. Plate on a large plate or platter. Place the remaining bok choy cut side up in the salad to make a nice presentation. Serve with a small plate of sides and garnishes. Serve hot or cold.

Bok Choy and Potsticker salad

You can read the entire article HERE. 

“Little Spoon” Guest Post for Lehigh Valley Style: Finding Easton

Here’s the latest “Little Spoon” post over at LehighValleyStyle.com

Beautious table and chairs from Salvage Goods.

I traveled to Easton, PA for midcentury chairs and my favorite candles in the world (obsessed, no joke)then head back home to make Browned Bok Choy and Potsticker Salad.

Baby bok choy and potsticker salad.

But you have to GO HERE to read all about it!

Potato, Apple and Kale Salad with Whole Grain Mustard Dressing

Yesterday had the sort of humidity that felt like you put your head in an oven upon walking outside. I don’t know why I bothered to cook a salad that required boiling stuff, but trust me, it was worth it hours later when the salad was nice and chilled in the fridge.

I used a bunch of kale I had that was starting to wilt, but feel free to substitute or add other green things, like asparagus, green beans, or some peppery lettuces.

Once again, this was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day.

POTATO APPLE AND KALE SALAD WITH MUSTARD DRESSING

  • About 10 medium sized red potatoes, cut into large chunks (about 6-8 peices each)
  • One bunch kale chopped/torn into bite sized pieces
  • some salt to add to the boiling water
  • 1 gala apple, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch dill, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
DRESSING
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard (dijon would work too)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. agave

Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling water and cook until just tender, not mushy, about 8-12 minutes depending on how big you cut them. With just 2 minutes of cook time left, add the kale. Strain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

Put the rest of veggies and herbs into a large mixing bowl. Prepare the dressing in a bowl, or put in an old jar with a lid and shake up. (Double the recipe and have some left for other things!)

Put the potatoes and kale into the mixing bowl, add dressing, and mix with your hands gently as not to smush the potatoes.

Potato, Kale and Apple salad

Potato, Kale and Apple salad

Let this chill a few hours before eating, overnight may be best. You can eat it as soon as you’re done, but it is so much better once it’s chilled. Patience is a virtue!

Wheatberry, Avocado and Broccoli Pesto Salad

I took an hour this morning to have the “rainy Sunday” I missed out on yesterday. New magazines, coffee and reading cookbooks start-to-finish are my favorite things. Plus a new candle from Mercantile Home – my absolute favorite candles on the earth, ever, and they will be featured in my next “Little Spoon” guest blog for LV Style magazine’s website (new one out later this week).

All that reading makes a girl hungry. Heidi Swason’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook inspired this dish. It’s a spin on her Orzo Salad (p.95) based on the ingredients I had on hand. (She obviously uses orzo pasta, which I replaced with wheatberries, and the pesto I made uses sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast instead of pine nuts and parmesan.)

WHEATBERRY, AVOCADO AND BROCCOLI PESTO SALAD

  • 1 and 1/2 cups dried wheatberries
  • 3 and 1/2 cups water, some salt added
  • 5 cups raw broccoli (about 3 medium sized bunches) cut into bite-sized florets and stems
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2/3 cups raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon, plus zest if desired
  • 1 small avocado, diced
  • dried red pepper flakes for garnish

Cook the wheatberries in the water. This takes about 30-45 minutes. Wheatberries are dense and when fully cooked still have a sort of “al dente” chewiness. I love the texture. Once cooked, strain and set aside.

Ingredients for broccoli pesto salad.

Add the broccoli to a large pot of boiling water, and boil for 1-2 minutes, until just blanched and bright green but still crisp. DON’T OVERCOOK. Stay near the stove. Strain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.

 

Add 2 cups of the broccoli to a food processor, along with garlic, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, oil, lemon juice and zest.  Process until a pesto-like consistency. (It will be a little creamier than a typical pesto.)

Broccoli pesto (vegan).

In a large bowl, add wheatberries, broccoli pesto, remaining 3 cups of broccoli, and avocado. Stir everything together. It will get really creamy thanks to the pesto and avocado. It will seem thick, but you won’t need to add any more oil (unless you want to), so just keep mixing. Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with some dried red pepper flakes for a pop of color.

Wheatberry, avocado and broccoli pesto salad.

*I have been using sunflower seeds in place of pine nuts in a lot of recipes lately. I buy a lot of dried fruit/veggies, beans and raw nuts from a market that sells them in pre-packaged bulk. The sunflower seeds are SIX TIMES LESS MONEY than pine nuts. 

They aren’t as “creamy” as pine nuts, and for some fancy recipes or when you have a party, you may want to use pine nuts. But for every day cooking and sticking to a grocery budget, they have yet to do me wrong.

PIZZA DIP and “Little Spoon” GUEST BLOG for Lehigh Valley Style Magazine!

Last May, I had the joy (and admittedly, the flattery and somewhat shock) of being asked to be the “In the Kitchen With…” feature of Lehigh Valley Style magazine. A bunch of glossy pages of color photos of my food, and an interview and recipes printed. It was humbling, joyful and a lesson in believing that what we do is valuable.

A few months ago, Lisa from LVStyle contacted me to see if I’d be interested (!!! if I’d be interested, ha!) in blogging for the magazine’s new website. HECK YES. I decided to go with a “live local, day in the life, plus a recipe” format for content.

The first one went live yesterday, along with the unveiling of their new website. Go look! There’s also a recipe for a RAW VEGAN PIZZA DIP (a spread, really) but you have to get it on their site for now!

You’ll want this one, it’s delicious and would be GREAT for summery picnics. Or to eat on your sofa watching Mad Men, whichever.

I’ve decided to name the blog “Little Spoon” because 1) it’s about food, 2) it’s sort of a subdivision of STK! and 3) I think that name is freakin’ adorable and I’ve been wanting to use it for something. Hooray!

GO HERE TO READ THE BLOG AND GET THE RECIPE

Thank you Lehigh Valley Style! You are the kindest bunch of souls and it’s a pleasure to know you and work with you! As Lisa said, “I love this partnership!” xoxo!

LADIES IN THE KITCHEN: Cooking video with The Blissful Chef, Manifest Vegan and Save the Kales!

By the end of this post, you’ll see a video and the recipe for these tasty goodies: Popeye Cakes with Avocado Dipping Sauce. But I need to tell you about some great girls first…

Popeye Cakes, photo by Allyson Kramer

Popeye Cakes, photo by Allyson Kramer

Last week I went to Philly to meet in person (finally!) Allyson Kramer of Manifest vegan, now a Philly resident, and Christy Morgan, “The Blissful Chef” on her Blissful Bites book tour as she was traveling around from Texas.

This day meant an awful lot to me. Both of these brilliant women have played a rather large role in my own cooking knowledge and inspiration on a very basic level, but I have always admired them for being awesome vegan role models in their own right. (Yeah, I said role models, ladies!)

Allyson and Dot

Two summers ago when this blog went under a bit of an attack (to be fair, it needed to happen and that   instance taught me a lot), Allyson found my email address and wrote the most beautiful, supportive email. It      meant so much to me at the time that someone reached out to share her own story of a similar issue, how to deal with it, to remember not everyone thinks about things the same way, and NOT to be deterred from moving forward. I had just read about her and her work in VegNews magazine and she was somewhat of a celebrity in my eyes, and she was writing to little ol’ me?

It’s been nearly two years since that first email, and Allyson has been around since then to be my sounding board and a point of graceful insight when things in “the vegan community” can get confusing or disillusioning. Many times I’ve hastily written to her, a knot in my stomach, and an email 18 paragraphs long of rambling and spelling errors, and she always comes back with incredible insight, even if it’s just to say she’s felt the same way.

None of that even begins to touch on her work. I have an older interview with her HERE, though some information is different now, she’s had much more recognition for her work, and her book Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats is coming out in June. You’ll be buying it, riiighhht?

Christy Morgan cooking demo

Christy Morgan is a powerhouse. I was surprised when I met her to see how tiny she is (I’m taller than someone, what?!) because she operates on this go-go-go level. She is a trained macrobiotic chef and has participated in countless cooking demonstrations on TV, at Vegfests, and most recently at the super-big-deal IACP NYC event.  She teaches cooking classes and can do nutrition consultations over the phone, so if you’re looking to work with a true professional, give her a call.

Blissful Bites is a gorgeous full-color book that teaches basics like knife skills, to the simple “what’s the difference between vegetarian and vegan?”, and each recipe has notes to let you know if it’s low oil, gluten free (most are), can be made in less than 45 minutes, etc… It’s broken down by season, THEN by type of dish within the season. So… it’s Spring, and you’re hungry for lunch– Boom. A ton of recipe ideas. How cool is that?

Brunette Vegan Cooks with Glasses club, first meeting.

Christy offered so much insight on book deals, touring, working with clients and people of all backgrounds and skill levels, and “a typical day in the business”. I don’t know if this girl ever stops working! She’s a great example of how hard work pays off.

OKAY, I’M DONE GUSHING FOR NOW! On to the recipe!

When I got to Allyson’s house I had just got done hugging everyone and we had a few rounds of “Oh my gosh, we’re all hanging out together!”, we immediately got to work on making some lunch. Allyson had a well-stocked fridge with every vegetable you could think of, so we started throwing things together and came up with what Christy has dubbed: Popeye Cakes!  (They are green and kind of tasted like spinach, despite not using any spinach!)

Here’s a video and the recipe (taken from The Blissful Chef Blog):

Popeye Cakes with Curry Avocado Sauce
(makes about 14 cakes with 2 cups sauce)

Popeye Cakes

Toasted sesame oil
1 bunch chard, chopped
1 carrot, grated
1 zucchini, grated
4 baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 29oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon flax meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup brown rice flour

Preparation

Heat up a medium skillet with sesame oil then saute veggies with spices for a few minutes. Cover with lid and stir occasionally. In the food processor, blend chickpeas with mustard, vinegar, flax, and salt until no big chunks remain. Add sauteed veggies and pulse those into the chickpeas until well combined. Place mixture in a large bowl then mix in flour until well combined.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with SIlpat or parchment paper. Wet your hands and form cakes about 2 inches in diameter. Place on cookie sheet and continue until all mixture is made into cakes. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip and bake for 20 more minutes. Meanwhile make your sauce!

Curry Avocado Sauce

1 small bunch kale, steamed
2 avocado, pitted
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup fresh dill
1 teaspoon white miso
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

Preparation

Place all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth and creamy, about a minute. Scrap the edges of the bowl a few times to incorporate all the ingredients. Serve on top of Popeye Cakes or as a dip with corn chips!

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Thank you so much, Allyson and Christy, for being friends and inspirations. I’m on a path that has no clear direction but forward, and there aren’t a lot of people I can turn to for personal experience and advice, but you have filled that void and I’m thankful and proud of you both.

Thanks to Kate for taping the video and taking photos so we can always remember this day!

The only still photo of the three of us, haha.

Allyson’s blog Manifest Vegan, and Christy Morgan’s website The Blissful Chef.

SAVE THE KALES!: New Half Hour Vegan Cooking/Lifestyle/Travel Show airs in May

Hey. You like watching things, right? Watch this:

Maybe The Law of Attraction is real after all.

Starting in May, Save the Kales! will be airing as a half hour television show of the same name. We’ll be cooking in a beautiful “studio” kitchen. We’ll be traveling to different locations (most in or around the Lehigh Valley) to meet the people and tour the places bringing plant-based food, and  sustainable and healthy living ideas to the masses.

Add in a mix of vintage thrift stores, farmer’s markets, animal sanctuaries, and more… and you get Save the Kales! Show. It will essentially be this blog in television format. 

(Wow. Wow. I still can’t believe it.)

ADG Photography

A new episode will air every month, multiple times a month, on RCN Cable – and be stored in the “On Demand” files so you can tune in any time. We will also air commercials leading up to each new show… which means you could be watching HGTV and see a Save the Kales! commercial. Isn’t that crazy!?

Don’t have RCN cable? Fear not. After a week of airtime, all episodes will go online to live indefinitely. My mother would never allow me to make a show that she wouldn’t be able to view from home. 🙂

(I have spent a lot of time in these last two months worrying about what could go wrong: the inevitable anonymous mean passive aggressive comments, the “She’s not as good of a cook as so-and-so, why does she get this?” speculations, the general vulnerability that comes when you put yourself in a vulnerable place… I was going to write about all of these because I haven’t been able to think about this show without thinking about them.

But for now, I’ll leave them aside. This is too good to tarnish with worry and anxiety. Besides, there is a lesson in everything and even the “bad stuff” can be a great teacher. I continue to learn all the time.)

ADG Photography

And I also have more faith in it now (and in myself, and maybe that was the trickiest hurdle of all). My goal isn’t to pretend I’m the most inventive cook, or the most knowledgable about vegan living and issues…

My goal is: to make this lifestyle accessible to people. Especially those who don’t know anything about it and feel it’s too difficult, overwhelming, or expensive. It’s not any of those things, but I don’t just want to TELL people, I want to SHOW them.

And at the end of each episode, if I can provide some knowledge and ideas for eating delicious plant-based meals on a budget, and hopefully entertain and highlight the people and places doing positive things along the way, it will be a success.

And here’s the best part: In a year from now, we will have so much experience and so many episodes under our belt. Perhaps by then a major network will be willing to pick up a show like this in it’s roster of meat-centric programming. While that’s not my driving force, it would be a very Cinderella-magical outcome.

One thing I’ve learned about trying to imagine the future: you can’t. So work hard, smile, and see what happens.

I don’t know that I’ve ever been more nervous or excited for anything in my whole life. I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

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It would be impossible to talk about this show without mentioning Matt and Sarah of Lehigh Valley Mirror, my co-producers, directors, camera crew and editors. Lehigh Valley Mirror will also be airing as a half hour show starting in April, featuring independent and creative people and businesses in the LV. 

Matt and Sarah, I could never possibly thank you enough for believing in me to invest your time, skills, and friendship. I’d lasso the moon for you both if I could. You are dreams-come-true to work with. Thank you.