Wednesday, March 9, 2016

tomato + turmeric soup with black olive + black kale pesto on toast

This semester I have a late class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I am gone all day and don't get home until around 6:30pm.  This has resulted in many "easy dinners"-- salad nights, pizza nights, and eating out at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant (Saigon's, as mentioned in an earlier post). I have also adopted some new habits to that cut down cooking time on these nights. I plan ahead. I have always done some planning for the week but now it's crucial. So I do things like pre-make brown rice and cut up a bunch of veggies so I can throw together a quick stir fry. Or, in this case, pre-make an awesome pesto and chop up veggies for a quick blended soup. I am so excited to share this one with you!

I made this pesto the day before but it would also be fine to make a few days ahead of time, or even freeze it for a while. This recipe makes a decent amount and has limited oil so don't feel bad about piling it on-- it makes a mean pesto toast.

black olive + black kale pesto
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup roughly chopped black kale (dino kale, lacinato kale, etc.)
  • 1 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives (2.25 oz can)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place all ingredients except the olive oil into a food processor and blend until chunky. While it's running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Blend to desired consistency.

Now for the soup. This recipe is so easy and fast, and can be made even faster by prepping the veggies ahead of time!

tomato + turmeric soup
  • 6 medium tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste 
  • 2-3 inches turmeric root, or 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  •  salt to taste
  • handful of chopped fresh parsley

Roughly chop the tomatoes and add them to a high speed blender or nutribullet. Add all other ingredients except the coconut milk and parsley to the tomatoes. Blend on high until super smooth. Transfer to a soup pot and add the can of coconut milk. Heat at a slow simmer for about 15 minutes, taste for salt. I usually don't need any more salt than the miso paste has to offer, but other palettes may be different so make sure you have a taste test!

While the soup is cooking, slather some fresh pieces of crusty bread with pesto and toast in a 400 F oven for about 5 minutes or until toasty and heated.

Serve soup topped with fresh parsley (fresh cilantro would be nice too if you have some left over from pesto making!).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

apricot oat bars

If you haven't realized it by now, I love snacks. I make tons of energy balls, granola bars, and easy to make and take "slices", as my hubby calls them. So I have for you another recipe to add to your snack bar repertoire.

apricot oat bars
  • 1 cup dates
  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup melted vegan chocolate chips (optional)

The first thing I do when using dates is cut out the pits (if they aren't already pitted) and soak them in hot water. It only takes a few minutes to get them nice and soft.

While the dates are soaking... add oats, walnuts, and sunflower seeds to a food processor and blend into a course meal, chunks are good! Transfer the oat mixture to a bowl and toss in the ground flax seed (if they aren't ground yet, this can be done easily in a spice grinder or nutribullet for fresh flaxmeal!). Drain the dates and add them to the now empty food processor. Add the maple syrup and blend into a smooth paste. Transfer date paste into the bowl with the oat mixture. Chop dried apricots into small pieces and add them to the bowl. Combine all ingredients with a wooden spoon, or your hands :), until everything is incorporated evenly.

Press mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. If your sheet is too large just create an edge with your hands and fold the parchment over that edge. Continue to flatten into the tray until evenly compressed all the way around at about 1/2 inch thick. Place tray in the freezer.

The next step is totally optional, but everything is better with chocolate, so why not?
Using a double boiler, or a metal or glass bowl on top of a small pot of water, melt the chocolate chips. Stir constantly and don't let the water get to a rolling boil. When chocolate is completely melted and smooth transfer to something with a little spout for pouring (a liquid measuring cup, a mini pitcher, or even some dry measuring cups have a little puckered spout for pouring). Take your sheet of apricot oaty goodness out of the freezer and drizzle the melted chocolate all over that thing. Return the tray to the freezer and let set about 15 minutes.

Using the parchment paper, transfer to a cutting board and slice into desired bars, squares, or slices. Keep refrigerated and keep nourished!