Category Archives: Vegetables

Daikon Radish Salad with Coconut (Koshimbir)

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Hello! This post features daikon radish that we harvested yesterday at Muir Ranch. The radish is a bit smaller than usually found in the store, but tastes so yummy. It’s funny that one is spicier than the other. When shopping for daikon, look for firm specimens that aren’t too big – stick to less than 12″. I like to see some leaves growing on the end (these can be cooked too – I’ll try to post some recipes for these later) but it’s not necessary. If you do have greens growing on the end, trim them when you get home if you won’t be using the radish in the next day or two. This will keep the radish fresh longer. This goes for beets and carrots too.

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The recipe here is based on a the Radish Koshimbir recipe from Rasachandrika, a wonderful and unique Konkani Indian cookbook. I tweaked it a bit by leaving out the typical green chilis and adding cilantro. Koshimbir is made with many other veggies such as carrots, beets and cabbage. Give it a try on a hot day, it’s refreshing!

Daikon Radish Salad with Coconut (Koshimbir)

1 medium daikon radish (about 1 cup shredded)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup coconut (fresh-frozen or desiccated)
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 small lemon
1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
1 tsp mustard seeds

Wash and trim the tip of the radish. Peel the radish and grate into a bowl. Toss in the cilantro, coconut, salt and lemon and stir well. Set aside. Heat the coconut oil in the small pan over medium. When hot, add the mustard seeds. Once they start popping, turn off the heat and immediately pour over the salad.

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Tempeh and Portabella Salad Sandwich

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Hello- Super quick post today for a super quick but so delicious sandwich. This is my second post in a row on tempeh. Well, I had a half package leftover from a few days ago that I need to use. If you aren’t familiar with tempeh, you should really check it out. It’s high-protein, inexpensive and being a soy product, pretty much takes on the flavors that you add to it. Trader Joe’s has their own version of it that I highly recommend.

I had some nice local sourdough bread at home so a sandwich was calling my name. Though I’m not a big mayo fan, I used Vegenaise which is a vegan mayo substitute. This was used to bind the tempeh and mushroom mixture and doesn’t really enhance the taste much. If you don’t have it, you could puree some silken tofu with a bit of lemon juice and salt or even use mustard instead. You can change up the bread as you like.

Tempeh and Portabella Salad Sandwich

1/2 package tempeh (any kind)
1 large portabella mushroom, sliced thinly
1/2 medium size onion, sliced
2 tsp oil
1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh garlic)
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning or other seasoning of your choice
pinch of dried oregano
salt to taste
1 tbsp Vegenaise or other binder
4 lettuce leaves
2 slices of sourdough bread
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Chop the tempeh into small chunks or crumble it with your hands and set aside. Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil when it gets hot. Add the mushroom pieces and onions and stir occasionally, allowing them to cook until almost done. Then add the tempeh pieces, garlic, seasoning, oregano and salt and a bit more oil if necessary. Allow to cook until the mushroom and onions are starting to brown and cook through. The tempeh doesn’t have to “cook” but you want to get it starting to brown. When it’s done cooking, remove the mixture to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

While waiting for the mixture to cool, toast your bread. When it comes out, slather with mustard and put on a plate. Tear some lettuce leaves and place on both pieces of bread. Now go back to the tempeh mix – add the vegenaise and mix well. Taste for seasoning and put on top of your lettuce/toast. Place the pieces together and enjoy!

 

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions

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Hello! It’s been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with garden things and kid & school things. I have been tweeting a bit, in case you want to follow me there just look for thisspicylife… I usually re-tweet interesting nutrition articles, garden info and other inspiring stuff.

Yesterday I hosted a huge garden work day at our school garden as part of an Eagle Scout Project. We worked pretty much all day rebuilding raised beds and moving soil into the new beds. We had a lot of help from a local Boy Scout Troop #127 and our school parents and community volunteers. It was such a great day with beautiful weather and nice people. See the end of this post for some pics of our garden remodel.

I really worked up an appetite because today I was ready for a rather substantial (for me) breakfast. It turned into brunch by the time I got it made and ready to eat, though this is a pretty quick dish to make. We had some leftover pickled onions from the weekend, so added these to the plate along with some yummy grits seasoned with nutritional yeast. The leftovers will be made into burritos. It was the perfect addition to this non-spicy curry. If you want the onions, you should plan ahead. Or just make a batch and find ways to use them! They are a pretty pink color and delicious (if you like onions). Here is the tempeh recipe:

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions (Serves 4)

1/2 package of tempeh, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 large baking potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper (or other color), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
pinch of garam masala (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat a bit before adding the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to toast, add the potato pieces and a bit of salt, stirring the potatoes to coat with the oil. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost cooked through, sprinkle with the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the tempeh, pepper, kale and garlic. Continue cooking and stir frequently until the tempeh is heated and the pepper is cooked to your liking. This should take just 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pinch of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve with pickled onions over grits, rice or with bread of your choice.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion
1/2 cup of vinegar (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt

Peel the onion and cut in rings. Loosen the rings and place the rings in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion and add the vinegar (we used white vinegar) and water. Allow to sit for an hour or up to two days before using. These can be used in sandwiches, as part of an appetizer tray with other veggies, on pizza, or just on the side of any spicy curry. The longer they pickle, the better they taste. Just keep ’em in the fridge.

Here are some pics of our garden remodel:

Rebuilding the raised beds with cinder blocks…Boy Scouts in yellow shirts. The blocks will get painted later by the students.

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Some artichokes growing in the garden… can’t wait to harvest!

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One of our hard-working volunteers!

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Cutlets Meet Vada Pav Sliders (Indian Potato Burgers)

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There is a delicious Indian treat called “Vada Pav” that is a round deep-fried potato ball served on a bun with garlic chutney. It is so good to eat with the crispy chickpea flour coating outside and the soft flavorful potatoes inside. I decided to try a  healthy twist on this dish, though I would never turn down the original! I’m not trying to improve it but rather make it a bit more healthy for everyday eating. Not that I’m suggesting that this be eaten everyday! With the addition of cooked mung beans, it’s more of a cross between the Vada Pav and a cutlet.

This is a recipe that calls for a few Indian ingredients. If you don’t have them, then come up with your own spice mix. I think a southwest version would be very good. Hmm… that’s definitely a future experiment! The traditional version of Vada Pav features garlic chutney. It gives it a delicious, spicy flavor. However, you don’t need the garlic chutney to complete this dish – sub in some spicy ketchup or other chutney or just dress it up as you would  a burger. You won’t be disappointed!

Healthy Twist on Vada Pav (Indian Potato Burgers) (Makes approx. 9 patties)

1 cup mung beans, cooked
1 potato, boiled or steamed, mashed and cooled (about 1 cup of potato)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
a few curry leaves, chopped
1/2 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan) plus additional flour for coating
1/8 – 1/4 cup oil for pan frying
small round hamburger buns
1/2 cup dry garlic chutney (or to taste)

In a large bowl, mix together the mung beans and potato. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and cayenne. Allow to cook for a minute or until the garlic is cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and pour this in the mung bean mixture. Add the salt and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour and mash everything together until well combined. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.When the mixture is ready,  roll it into large rounds approx. 2″ in diameter. Set aside until all are rolled out. Place the additional chickpea flour on a plate and roll each ball in the chickpea flour, dusting the outside with the flour.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tbsp or 2 of oil. When the oil is heated, place a few of the balls in the oil, pressing down slightly on the top to flatten a little.

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Once the bottom is nicely browned, flip over each ball and cook on the other side, flattening a bit more.

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Once browned on the 2nd side, remove from the oil to a plate or paper. Repeat frying until all of the balls are cooked.

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If using the garlic chutney, spread a nice layer on the bottom bun, place the patty on the bun, top with sliced onion. Or skip the chutney and use condiments of your choice. Enjoy!

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Refreshing Salad of Green Mango & Cukes

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Hi! Today’s quick post is a simple mango and cucumber salad I made at lunch. I served it alongside some puliogare (tamarind rice) and it was fast and tasty combination. I had a slightly over-ripe green (sour) mango in the fridge. I actually saw a delicious looking green mango salad on another food blog yesterday (she has lots of great mango recipes). I got the inspiration to use mango in a salad today. Normally I make pickle with the green mangos or chop them up for bhel puri. Just didn’t get around to it, but I’m happy to say here is a great alternative!

The green mangos are smaller, firmer and much more sour than the usual mangos we get in US stores. You can find them in Asian markets and Indian markets. I have even seen them in a Middle Eastern market. If you don’t have “chat masala”, you can add cumin powder and a bit extra lemon. It isn’t the same, but it will still make a nice salad.

Refreshing Salad of Green Mango & Cukes

1 green mango (sour)
2 Persian cucumbers
1/4 cup of finely chopped onion
1/2 to 1 whole green chili pepper, finely chopped
1.5 tsp chat masala (or cumin powder)
salt to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/8 of cup of chopped cilantro

Cut the mango and cucumbers into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl. Add the onions, pepper, masala and salt. Stir well. Add 1/2 of the lemon juice and stir. Taste and add more juice and salt if necessary. Sprinkle the cilantro over the top. Serve chilled.

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Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits

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Hello! I’m back to the Indian-inspired cooking for a bit. It’s “cold” here in S. Cali this week requiring some spicy comfort food. Yes, it’s in the high 50’s to low 60’s, but what can I say? This morning I threw together a quick tofu scramble while the grits were gurgling on the stove. I love mushrooms and when I’m feeling a bit under the weather they always seem to bring me back around. For some extra nutrients, I threw in kale and tomatoes. The tomatoes were just cooked enough to be soft but still pop a little in your mouth. Hence, the “mouth-watering” description. I ate these served over yellow corn grits with a few dashes of super-spicy Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat. I think grits have to be eaten with a bit of hot sauce. Just goes hand-in-hand.

This is an easier recipe than my scrambled tofu with spinach since I don’t use onion and garlic. It also takes less time since you don’t have to wait on the onion to cook. The only thing you have to mess with is chopping the mushrooms (and kale if using fresh). I have a bag of organic kale in the freezer. It’s handy for quick meals where I really need some greens. The kale cooks faster than fresh since the ice crystals have broken it down a bit.

If you don’t have all of the spices, run out to the store and get them! What are you waiting for? Just kidding… you can add whatever you like – just don’t use too much of any one thing so you keep a balanced flavor. Of course, you could go the Mexican or Italian route with the spices too. Tomorrow I will use the leftovers to make tacos with corn tortillas. Just throw on some spicy salsa, fresh shredded cabbage and another nice, healthy meal is ready! Here is today’s version of the tofu scramble…

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits (serves 2 – 4)

1 pkg. firm tofu (press out the water for 10 – 15 minutes)
1 lb. of portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 cup of kale, frozen or washed and chopped
2+ tbsp oil
2 tsp of black salt (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
hot sauce to taste
3 cups cooked grits

Heat up your trusty cast-iron skillet (or other large skillet) to medium. When it’s really hot, add your mushrooms and let them cook for a minute or two. Stir and add a pinch of salt over them. As they start cooking down and releasing their water, you can add the oil and kale. After about two minutes, crumble the tofu with your hands into the skillet. There should be bite-sized pieces and some smaller pieces. Add a bit more oil if necessary to keep it from sticking. Stir and then add all of the spices and stir again to get the spices incorporated. Reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook, stirring only once in while so that the tofu starts to get slightly brown and crispy in spots. After approximately 5 – 8 minutes, make a little space in the middle of the pan by moving everything else to the sides. Toss the tomatoes in the center and let everything cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and turn off the heat. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type of tofu you are using, how much water is in it, if you are using cast-iron or not… Spoon over hot grits. Serve with fresh cilantro and hot sauce.

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Wild Salad Sunday – Food Foraging in Huntington Botanical Garden

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Another post for my Salad Project! This morning I had the opportunity to attend a Food Foraging class at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. For an avid gardener like myself, this was heaven on Sunday morning! We gathered early while there was still a chill in the air. Our teacher, Nancy Klehm, greeted us and gave us an intro on foraging. I enjoyed hearing her talk about how to treat the plants that are foraged. She doesn’t just go and rip out the plants, rather she gently takes a bit and leaves the rest for others. Just as we would never stomp through the wilderness while hiking, destroying things, we don’t want to destroy the plants that are feeding us. I agree with this outlook and respect for nature and for the plants.

We got started with a tasting of a bit of tea made with foraged dandelion root and burdock root as well as a tincture made with wild burdock root. She also brought some dried wild plums that we tasted. They reminded me of hibiscus tea. We then started our foraging as Nancy showed us several “weeds” and wild foods that are edible and/or medicinal. We learned about which foods can help the liver, kidneys and blood, how to use the plants for first aid and how to choose the best-tasting parts of the plants. The most useful take-away for me is finding out that all of these so-called weeds that we have in S. California are actually edibles. And they are high in nutritive values as well! We have a bed of radishes and carrots at our school garden that is overrun with oxalis, mallow and sow thistle (sonchus) that I will now leave in peace. The “weeds” can live in harmony with the radishes and carrots (as long as it isn’t too crowded). What a great salad it will make for our students.

At the end of our class, we feasted on some wonderful things. Each student gathered some wild greens for a community salad. Nancy brought a fruity tahini-based dressing (my favorite dressing base) that she mixed with some homemade several-fruits-vinegar, garlic and some other things. She also shared some homemade crackers with lavender seeds, fresh cheese made from raw cow’s milk, and wild current preserves. To top it off, she made a frittata with foraged oyster mushrooms, wild spinach and some other foraged greens. To wash it down, we had a tea made with wild sumac that was very tangy for lack of a better description (don’t try to make this at home as there are not-so edible types of sumac!). Thanks for a great class, Nancy!

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If you are going foraging, please be mindful of not eating things from sprayed areas or polluted areas. Better yet, take a class with Nancy! Here is a link to her website. Here are photos of just a few of the plants we learned about today:

Miner’s Lettuce / Claytonia perfoliata

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Oxalis (Wood Sorrel)

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Chickweed / Stellaria media

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Mallow / Malva neglecta 

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Curly Dock / Rumex crispus

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Wild Salad with Foraged Foods

In a large bowl, place:

handful each of 3 or more of any of the following: wild spinach, oxalis, sow thistle, dandelion, clover, wild mustard, mallow, yarrow, mugwort, curly dock, chickweed, plaintain leaf
add a handful  or two of mint, lemon balm, Calendula leaves and / flowers, arugula, nasturtium leaves and/or flowers

Try to balance the bitter greens with the milder greens, the drier leaves with wetter leaves and add various flowers for texture and color. Mix and toss with dressing of your choice or the dressing below. Bitter greens are usually good with some type of fruit-flavored dressing.

Standard Tahini-Orange Dressing

1/4 cup of tahini
1/2 cup of orange juice
1/4 cup of water plus more as needed
1 – 2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

Mix the tahini and orange juice, stirring and adding water until it is the consistency you like. Add the minced garlic and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes if possible to allow the garlic to infuse the dressing.