When we were both working full-time, Adrien and I would plan a stir-fry meal which used one of those bottled Asian-style sauces as a starting point. Now that was certainly quick and tasty, but I’m not exactly sure how many ingredients in the bottled product would be considered “healthy”. So, when I spotted this recipe in the New York Times Food section, I was intrigued: could a stir-fry sauce be created to satisfy the need for a pick-up home-cooked meal and still be without some of those preservatives and flavor enhancers that end up in prepared foods. I think my answer is a resounding YES! But you don’t have to take my word for it. Try this one for yourself.
Adapted from Jenne Claiborne By Kim Severson as found in the New York Times Cooking
Ingredients – For the Sauce
- 1 tsp neutral oil (suggestion was to use grapeseed; I used coconut oil)
- 1 1/2 TBSP minced ginger
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 TBSP rice vinegar
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 6 Medjool or other dried dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 TBSP arrowroot powder or cornstarch
Ingredients – For the Stir Fry
- 1 TBSP grapeseed or coconut oil
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (or 2 shallots, thinly sliced)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped or julienned
- 1 head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and pieces
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 oz. can drained and rinsed will do it)
- Freshly cooked rice
- 1 TBSP sesame seeds (I used toasted)
- 1-2 fresh limes quartered
- Garnish: chopped cilantro
- Make the sauce: in a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, and cook, stirring just until garlic starts to turn golden (about 1 minute). Stir in soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and dates. Let simmer 3 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk arrowroot or cornstarch with 1/3 cup water until smooth. Slowly stir the mixture into the simmering sauce. When the sauce begins to thicken (quick!), remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- When the sauce is cool enough to handle, transfer sauce to a blender, and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Make the stir fry: In a wok or skillet with a lid, heat oil over medium heat. When hot, add onions. Stir-fry for about 1 minute until softened. Add red pepper and carrots, cover and cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli, chickpeas, and sauce, and cook, covered stirring occasionally, until vegetables are cooked to your liking (about 10 minutes).
- Serve over the cook rice, garnish with sesame seeds, fresh cilantro and lime wedges.
When you go to your local wine purveyor to ask about a wine that will pair with Red Bean Stew, you really are setting up for a challenge. And, luckily in my case, our local wine and cheese shop, Tutto Bene, has a very knowledgeable owner, Wendi Wilkins, who hit this recommendation out of the park.
This wine, Seven Sinners (2015), is created from a 100% Syrah from Central Valley of California around Lodi. Deep red, and velvety in color, the wine is tastes big and jammy to me with some nice spiciness. My palate may still be under construction, but I know what I like, and I like this wine. A lot! And who knew? It was perfect with the Red Bean Stew I adapted from the New York Times’ Martha Rose Shulman for Meatless Monday. Head over to Tutto Bene before Wendi runs out. Because, as Wendi tells it, you will be sad when you run out.
Red Bean Stew
Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman, New York Times
We tend to eat mainly plant-based in our house and off and on I’ve eaten strictly vegetarian meals for much of the last 30 years. Mondays are generally Meatless Mondays around here, no matter what, so tonight I gave this hearty red bean stew a try. Don’t let the preparation of the beans intimidate you. Once you’ve prepared dry beans from scratch, you’ll have a difficult time going back to canned beans with (as Sara Moulton would say), their lovely gelatinous material. Just plan ahead and it will all be fine.
- 1 pound (2 1/4 cups) red beans, washed, picked over & soaked for 6 hours or overnight in 2 quarts of water
- 2 TBPS extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium or large onion, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large green pepper, cut into small dice
- 2 TBSP sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 TBSP tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp oregano
- Pinch cayenne (I substituted 2 TBSP-you read that right-Sriracha Sauce)
- 2 TBSP red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- Freshly ground black papper
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup drained yogurt (I used Greek yougurt – 0% fat)
- Drain the beans through a strainer set over a bowl, Place the beans in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. Measure the soaking water in the bowl and add enough water to measure about 2 quarts (this is less than NYT recipe called for). Add to the pot with the beans, turn the heat to medium high and bring to a gentle boil. Skim off any foam and/or bean skins.
- [This is my adaptation]. Drain the cooked beans (I let them simmer for about 30 minutes), reserving the cooking liquid. Wipe out the pan or dutch oven and continue with step 3.
- Heat 1 TBSP of the oil over medium heat and add the onions, carrots, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender and fragrant (about 8-10 min). Add 2 of the garlic cloves and continue to cook for another minute or so. Season with salt, add another TBSP oil and add the paprika. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes until the vegetables are well coated with paprika. Add a ladleful of the bean cooking water to deglaze the pan then stir in the beans and add the rest of the bean water (should be about 2 quarts of liquid). Add tomato paste and bay leaf, reduce heat and simmer for an hour with the cover on.
- Add oregano, remaining garlic, sriracha (or cayenne if you really don’t want this to be spicy), vinegar and sugar. Simmer for another hour. Beans should be thoroughly cooked at this point (i.e., not crunchy!). If you want the broth a bit thicker, take about a cup of the beans out of the pan and mash or blend them. Return this to the pan.
- Just before serving, stir in the parsley. Serve with large dollop of the drained yogurt.
Deborah Madison’s newest cookbook, In my kitchen is full of terrific vegetarian (and vegan) recipes. I’ve been a Deborah Madison cooking fan since Vegetarian cooking for everyone, and this book is, in my opinion, a great follow-up.
Sadly, I had never heard of Romesco sauce until this cookbook and a roasted cauliflower recipe calling for it. As Deborah Madison explains in her notes, this sauce is versatile and can be used for everything from roasted potatoes and leeks to garlic rubbed toast. In the years since Deborah first created this recipe, her preparations have changed from using fresh tomatoes and a mix of hazelnuts and almonds.
- 1 slice country-style white bread
- Olive oil to fry the bread
- Sea salt
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skins rubbed off as much as easily possible
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp group red chile OR red pepper flakes
- 1 TBSP tomato paste (or a bit more for tasting adjustment)
- 1 TBSP chopped parsley
- 1 tsp regular or smoked paprika
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and seeded (could use jarred)*
- 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
- 1/2 cup best olive oil
- Fry the bread in olive oil until golden and crisp. When cool, grind it with the hazelnuts and garlic in a food processor until fairly fine.
- Add the ground chile (red pepper flakes), tomato paste, parsley, paprika, and bell peppers, and process until smooth.
- With the machine running, gradually pour in the vinegar and then the olive oil.
- Taste and make sure the sauce has plenty of piquancy and enough salt. If you feel it needs a little more tomato paste, add it no more than a teaspoon at a time.
- * Here’s where Amy is telling you not wuss out on the roasted red peppers because roasting them in an oven is a snap. Here’s how: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Now clean and cut the peppers away from the stem and seeds (here’s a video from Serious Eats to show you how). I usually wipe the insides and the skin side with olive oil. Cook skin sides down for 25 minutes. The outsides should have a nice char to it. Cool them and use. Way better than that vinegar-y bottled stuff that passes for roasted red peppers.
While I can make a decent vinaigrette and a passable tahini dressing, I haven’t strayed far from the standards as far as gussy-ing up salads. This, it turns out, has been an error of omission. We eat some form of salad nearly every night, so branching out to new tastes was long overdue.
This dressing comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Thug Kitchen. And, as usual with the Thugs, it is simple, plant-based and is entertaining. It also is really quite tasty – who knew roasted carrots made such a great dressing?!
- 3 medium carrots
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (also suggested: rice wine vinegar)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 TBSP orange juice
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- Heat up your oven to 357 degrees F. Chop up your carrots into chunks no bigger than 1/2 inch. Toss them together with the oil, cumin, and salt. Roast them in a small pan, covered until the carrots are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Let the carrots cool for a minute then add them to a food processor with the rest of your $***. Blend it until it’s smooth. This could take as long as 3 minutes.
One of the best things about travel for me is getting ideas about ramping up our food game. Last week, we were in New York City and landed a reservation at Bar Boulud. The prix fixe for the night included a bowl of chilled pea soup which was simple, fresh, and stunning. And no, that’s not the wine talking! This recipe from Mark Bittman reaches back to when he wrote the Diners Journal for the NYTimes comes very close; the flavoring at Bar Boulud was rosemary infused, but either rosemary or tarragon as suggested in Mark Bittman’s recipe makes this a great summer-time soup to start off a meal, or on its own.
Our reason for traveling to NYC this time was to see the Irving Penn Centennial exhibit at the Metropolitan. If you have a chance to get to NY before the show closes on July 30, 2017, by all means go! It is an amazing and inspiring show of Penn’s personal projects and more commercial endeavors.
Possibly the Best Pea Soup – Mark Bittman, NYTimes
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely sliced shallots
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 pound shelled fresh sweet peas (I used WFM frozen; not a fan of shelling peas)
- 1/2 TBSP chopped fresh tarragon*
- 1/2 TBSP salt
- Pinch pepper
- 1/4 cup half and half or light cream
*If adapting for Bar Boulud version, experiment with fresh rosemary here
- Heat olive oil in soup pot. Add shallots and garlic and cook over medium heat until shallots are just wilted. Add 3 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for 1/2 hour.
- Add peas, tarragon, salt and pepper and bring back to boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cook to room temperature. Puree in a blender in batches until very smooth. Force through fine sieve into clean pot, discarding small amount of pea skins left in sieve. (I used my handy stick blender and left the skins in. They were pulverized and added a bit of texture to the soup)
- Stir in half and half and add salt if necessary to taste. Can be reheated and served hot or chilled and served cold. (Top with a dollop of creme fraiche and chives if you want to fancy this up)
I love Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, really I do. And so, I when I came across a recipe on his website jamieoliver.com for Mushroom Curry, I decided to give it a whirl. I thought that navigating measurements in metric units would be my biggest challenge; however I have discovered that I don’t speak – and often don’t understand – the Queen’s English. Hob? Groundnut oil (according to Nigella Larson, that’s peanut oil)?
The implementation of this recipe was a bit improvised. My local grocer did not have fenugreek or paneer. So I’ve left those out. What resulted was tasty if not true to the recipe which follows.
- 500 g mixed mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 5 cm piece of ginger
- 1 onion
- 1/2-1 fresh red chili
- 500 g ripe mixed color tomatoes
- ground nut oil (I cook with coconut oil so that’s what I used)
- 1 tsp Tumeric
- 1 tsp fenugreek (left that one out)
- 1 heaped tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 heaped tsp medium curry powder
- 1 TBSP mango chutney
- 1 400 ml tin of coconut milk
- 30 g paneer (left that out)
- 400 g brown basmati rice
- 2 limes
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F.
- Roughly cop some of the mushrooms, keeping the smaller ones whole and tearing up the rest. Tip into a large casserole dish and toast on the hob over a medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes until nutty and really golden. I interpreted this to mean toast in a large skillet (no oil) until the mushrooms are golden; no “hob” at this house.
- Meanwhile, peel and finely slice the garlic, ginger and onion. Trim and finely slice the chili, then roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Add all of it to the pan except the tomatoes, then add 1 TBSP oil and all the spices. Toss for 2 minutes or until the spices are toasted and it’s smelling lovely, stirring continuously.
- Add the tomatoes, mango chutney, and coconut milk. Stir to combine and season well with sea salt and black pepper. At this point, I transferred what was in the skillet to a large casserole dish.
- Top with bits of paneer and place in the oven (no paneer so I just popped the casserole in the oven). Cook for 30 minutes or until all cooked through and gnarly.
- Meanwhile cook the rice according to package directions.
- Taste and season as required, adding a little lime juice as needed.
- Spoon the curry over the rice, then roughly chop the coriander leaves and scatter over the top. Cut the remaining lime into wedges for people to squeeze over the top.
Recipe created by Martha Rose Shulman.
The New York Times Food and Cooking sections are a great resource for home cooks whether adventurous or not. As a subscriber, I receive a couple of weekly newsletters from the Times and this one caught my eye for its simplicity.
This recipe, Spinach, Tofu and Sesame Stir-Fry, comes from Martha Rose Shulman, one of the Times regular contributors, popped up recently and turned out to be quite quick (15 minutes!) to prepare. (And a bonus for subscribers, the recipes can be stored online in a personal recipe box).
Ms. Shulman makes a couple of serving suggestions – one of which is to use the stir-fry as a pita filling. Next time, I’ll try that!
- 1 tablespoon canola oil (I substituted coconut oil)
- ½ pound tofu, cut in small dice (firm!)
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon grated or minced fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
- Soy sauce to taste
- 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach, rinsed (use fresh, readily available)
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or wok, and add the tofu. Stir-fry until the tofu is lightly colored, three to five minutes, and add the garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute, and add soy sauce to taste. Add the spinach and stir-fry until the spinach wilts, about one minute. Stir in the sesame seeds, and add more soy sauce to taste. Remove from the heat.
- Using tongs, transfer the spinach and tofu mixture to a serving bowl, leaving the liquid behind in the pan or wok. Drizzle with the sesame oil, and add more soy sauce as desired. Serve with rice or other grains, or noodles. You may also use it as a filling for whole wheat pita bread.