If you can believe it, this bowl was inspired by a packet of instant ramen we picked up at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago (along with some non-dairy, non-denominational holiday nog). The flavour pouch from that crinkly package with the crimp-y noodles was really good at providing a top note of salty. There’s a certain appeal to that for sure, but I knew I could do better with some noodles swimming in homemade broth. I have a couple methods for making delicious, hearty vegetable stock/broth, but the one I’m going to share here today is my most utilized for sure. It’s also the most versatile. Then, we’re going to salt that broth, pour it over soba noodles, puréed garlic and thin wisps of lacinato kale. We’ll top it all off with chili-roasted tofu, some sliced scallions, lots of black pepper, and lime juice.
I don’t want to wander into the territory of utter preciousness talking about vegetable stock, but my method is pretty exact and I stand by it. I’ve read a few things on the internet that go along the lines of: “Just save all of your vegetable scraps in a Ziploc, freeze it for now and then dump those trimmings into a pot of boiling water when you’re ready for soup. ” I would not encourage this strategy. Good stock can become the base/backbone of soups, sauces, risottos etc. You can just sip it too! I would never utilize true scraps unless I wanted my food to taste like concentrated, simmered down waste bits. Sometimes I have half an onion in the fridge, a couple rubbery carrots, and I do save leek tops for stock-making as a general rule, but these are selective additions that are only scrap-like.
My point is that there is a certain advantageous vegetable combination to aim for when you’re making stock, and I would definitely recommend sticking to it for maximum diversity in usage. This is the closest I’ll ever get to being absolutist in terms of a food. You wanna make pizza crust with cauliflower? Yes, go for it. I’m fine with calling that pizza. Tiny bits of vegetables fronting as rice? Sure. Let’s even call it pilaf if we mix it with something. Vegan mayonnaise? Without eggs?! YES TOTALLY. Stock though? I refuse to mess around with that. Building blocks, dude.
The base of mine is onions, carrots and celery. Of that base, fifty percent should be onions with the papery skin left on (mostly for colour), followed by equal parts carrots and celery to form the whole. From there, I use leeks (white + green parts), a parsnip if I have one, smashed garlic cloves, black peppercorns, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, parsley stems, and maybe a fresh dill stem or two if I have them (but I mostly do this because Ina does it too). (also this) With the parsley and optional dill, you’re only adding the stems. The leaves of both have too much chlorophyll (normally the best thing ever), which will only contribute a damp, funky taste over time. A few black peppercorns and that’s the end of that. I don’t salt the stock because I know I’m going to be liberal on that front with whatever food I’m adding it to.
The onions get a good 7-8 minute browning for extra depth of flavour before the other vegetables are added. I drop everything else in one by one, sautéing for a good 20 minutes before any filtered water is added. Also, filtered water is important because consuming chlorine is never cool in my books. I simmer the whole works for an hour maximum. I know with meatier broths, the longer you can simmer it the better. But I don’t find vegetable-based broths really benefit from extra time, which is perfect because we want soup, like, yesterday. I make broths with shiitake mushrooms and ginger if I’m feeling kinda meh. Or ones with lots of different mushrooms, shallots, star anise, and a bit of tamari to season if I want something with extra heft. But this one that I’ve outlined above and below is the go-to. I hope it can be yours too.
And these noodles! Once you have the broth, you’re in business. Just an easy, slurp-y bowl of noodle soup with lots of feel-good ingredients. Quick, nourishing comfort for full days. Although these particular noodles aren’t gluten free, they’re easily my favourite ones to use. My favourite cooking method for tofu is roasting because the pieces get kind of crunchy/crisp-like, making a nice foil to the softer parts of this bowl. I slice kale thin, grate fresh garlic and grind tons of pepper into the bowls before pouring the hot, salted broth in and giving it all a stir. Deep immune power! You could make this your own in a number of ways: fine shreds of different vegetables, rice noodles, little dabs of miso dissolved in the broth, some chopped cilantro, cooked beans, or whatever you have on hand honestly. Just make sure your broth game is lined up first :)
garlic pepper soba with chili-roasted tofu + kale recipe (+ my vegetable stock method)
print the recipe (for noodles) here! // print separate vegetable stock instructions here
serves: 2 (with extra broth)
notes: As noted above, this recipe is fairly customizable just so long as you shred any additional vegetables fine enough to “cook” upon contact with the hot broth. Also, check the label of your soba noodles to ensure there is no presence of wheat if gluten is an issue. If you have a tofu press, using it prior to roasting the tofu would make for a nice, chewy texture.
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium cooking onions, rough diced (with skin left on)
2 medium carrots, scrubbed and rough diced
2 stalks of celery, scrubbed and rough diced
1 large leek, cut lengthwise down the center
3-4 cloves of garlic, smashed lightly
5-6 sprigs of thyme
3-4 parsley stems
3 bay leaves
6-7 whole black peppercorns
2 litres/8 cups filtered water
soba + chili-roasted tofu ingredients:
1/2 block firm-extra firm tofu, dried off with a paper towel
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp chili flakes
zest of 1/2 a lime
1 tsp lime juice
salt + pepper
2 servings-worth of dry soba noodles (as noted above, I use these ones–seek out a GF brand or use rice noodles for a GF alternative)
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4-5 leaves of lacinato kale, thinly sliced
salt + lots of black pepper
lime wedges + extra chili flakes
For the stock: heat the oil in a large stock/soup pot over medium heat. Add the rough diced onions and sauté until you start to see deep brown marks on some of the sides, about 7-8 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté another 4-5 minutes, or until the edges seem a bit softer. Add the rough diced celery and stir.
Run the split leek under water to remove any grit, then chop it roughly and add it to the pot along with the smashed garlic cloves. Stir the vegetables until the leeks are bright, bright green and noticeably softer, about 4 minutes. Add the thyme sprigs, parsley stems, bay leaves and black peppercorns to the pot and stir. Add a good splash of water and loosen up some of the brown bits in the pot with your spoon.
Slowly pour the filtered water over the vegetables. Raise the heat to medium-high and cover the pot. Bring the stock to a boil, remove the lid, and then simmer stock for about an hour.
Allow stock to cool slightly before straining and storing in containers. Stock will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days and in the freezer for 6 months.
For the soba with chili-roasted tofu: preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a small baking sheet with parchment. Set aside.
Once you’ve dried off the tofu, cut it into 3/4 inch cubes and place the cubes on the parchment lined sheet. Drizzle tofu with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and top with the chili flakes, lime zest, salt, pepper and lime juice. Toss to combine and slide the tray into the oven. Roast tofu until brown edges appear and there’s a detectable crispy-ness, about 25 minutes. Flip and toss the tofu cubes about halfway through.
Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, drain noodles and set aside.
Heat the 3 cups of vegetable broth in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a fat pinch of salt to the broth and bring to a boil. Keep at a medium simmer until ready to serve.
Very finely mince or microplane the garlic cloves into two separate soup bowls. Top the garlic with the chopped white parts of scallion, and ground black pepper to taste
Divide the soba noodles, sliced kale and roasted tofu among the soup bowls. Pour the hot broth over top. Garnish the soup with remaining chopped scallions and more salt and pepper if you like. Serve with lime wedges.
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I am dead-set on a holiday decor extravaganza at my house this year. I’ve got some sweet garlands, birch trunks, old hydrangea blooms sprayed with GOLD, the lights, lanterns, a boxwood wreath, lime green osage oranges, grapevines, spruce cuttings, pine cones, and some jute rope and pretty ribbon to finish it off all nice. That’s just the outside stuff. It’s kind of soothing clipping branches and jamming them into frozen boxes of dirt in the name of merry-making. It’s definitely frivolous, but in the moment it feels way too important. Also, having a hot drink in your snuggy gear after–that feels way important too.
I need the light-hearted distractions of twinkle lights, gold spray paint and bow-tying this time of year. It’s easy to make yourself feel trapped by all the things you absolutely have to accomplish within the span of one hectic month. Everyone is busy and everyone will tell you how busy they are at least 5 times in any given conversation. I am guilty of this. Yesterday I had to cook and photograph something and re-make another thing because the first thing was unusable in a previously outlined context (so specific, right?!). But I hung out with my mom, sipped some piping hot decaf (wuss-level), and strung up garlands on my porch in the morning instead. I still got all of my work done, but I went into it with a bit more warmth and energy once I got started.
I mean, I think work should be taken seriously. But busy-work is pretty much the worst and really? It’s the essence of holiday crazy-making. I never post a gift guide on here and generally advise people on just loving each other instead if they ask me about one. I feel anxious when I see things like that. I worry about the world sometimes, the direction of society, gorilla populations, and I tend to take things a bit seriously on a good day, but that pressure is real. It takes form in sometimes nonchalant ways, and I think we all feel it a little.
I said this last week, but it bears repeating: I’m really going for calm and overall wellness in this mad season of life. I’m fixing up really nourishing eats, making the house smell good, trying with might to focus my eyes away from screens, and making small improvements to my daily motions–all in good time. If I go into 2015 with a focused, intentional whisper instead of a bang, I’ll be happy.
On that nourishing eats tip, there’s this bowl of vegetables with caraway and fresh horseradish dressing. I do love a good and crunchy broccoli salad stashed away to mix with greens and a bit of avocado or something. The best ones always seem to have sweet and sour components. This one is filled out with just a bit of cooked quinoa–enough to cling to the lightly cooked florets. I quick-pickle some shallots and add some crisp sweet apples to the mix as well. The dressing is a bit spicy and sharp with the horseradish and lemon, but grounded with the earthy anise-flavour of caraway. I’ve been adding just a bit of flaxseed oil to all of my dressings lately. I like the nutty taste, but also those anti-inflammatory, polyunsaturated fatty acid vibes too.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American pals this week. Salad and hugs to you all :) xo
caraway + horseradish broccoli quinoa salad recipe
print the recipe here!
notes: I steam the broccoli and cauliflower florets, but you could totally do this as a raw salad and bypass that extra step if you want. I use a bit of flax oil in the dressing (#foryourhealth), but straight olive oil all the way is just as well.
caraway + horseradish dressing ingredients:
2 tbsp grated fresh horseradish
juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2-3 tbsp)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (+ extra for the salad)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp flaxseed oil (or more olive oil)
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
salt + pepper
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
1-2 stalks of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 apple, small dice
3 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup marcona almonds, chopped
In a blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Check it for seasoning, adjust, and set aside.
Place the sliced shallots in a small bowl. Cover them with the 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the maple syrup. Let the mixture sit while you make the rest of the salad. You want the slices of shallot to be lightly softened.
In a small saucepan, combine the quinoa with 1/2 cup of filtered water and a pinch of salt. Bring the quinoa to a boil over medium heat. Then lower to a simmer until all of the water is absorbed, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Steam or boil the broccoli and cauliflower florets for 3-4 minutes or until slightly soft. Drain the florets and run cold water over them. Dry lightly with a paper towel and transfer to a larger serving bowl. To the bowl, add the cooked quinoa, diced apple, chopped dill, marcona almonds, and extra caraway seeds.
Drain the shallots and add them to the bowl as well. Add as much dressing as you like and a good amount of salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
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I know the season’s only just started, but man. I think it’s already got me trapped in its neon, crazy-making claws. This was a particularly harry week with some deadlines, projects on the up and up, people outright saying no to me, an ever-growing pile of Christmas garland in my living room, plus a scary wind storm/so much snow. And then, in the thick of it, the man I really truly love asked me to get up early one morning and make him a vat of kale slaw for a work function. He brought it up last week, I had forgot about it already, and was–admittedly–a huge dick about it.
He called me from work when I was in the middle of photographing a time sensitive thing (it was a stir fry sorta thing and it was fading fast). Lots of impatient “Uuuuugh” sounds and swears and sighs. I finally said: “You’re gonna have to pick up the ingredients tonight because I DON’T have time this week.” I’ve been making this kale and cabbage slaw with a creamy mustard dressing, some apples, scallions, sesame seeds, and a few other things. It’s so delicious that we’ve already ate it a bunch of times ourselves, plus we brought it to a potluck brunch a little while back too. Devoured every time. So I knew the ingredients off by heart and impatiently rattled them off. “The flat kale! Not the curly, blue-ish one.” + “The cashew butter’s going to be so expensive at that store, but ugh whatever.” and on and on.
I had made up my mind that I would just get up early the day of and make the whole thing instead of doing some prep the night before. Of course I barely slept that night and was miserable, even after two coffees. Just chopping away and not talking much. Using the mandolin slicer lightning fast to get it over with, even though it makes Mark so paranoid because I won’t use the hand guard (and, turns out he’s totally right to be paranoid). Anyway, he thanked me so many times, gave me a kiss goodbye, took the slaw to the work function, and made a point of texting me to say that everyone loved it so much. He’s a lot more patient, forgiving, and easygoing than I am. That calm energy always brings me back to the center when I’m taking things a bit seriously, being just a touch selfish or, more often, just irrationally freaking out.
I’m hoping he can help me embrace and become more of that calm life force over the next month or so. I really want a laser beam focus on good health and wellness through this holiday season. It’s so easy to slip and toss some principle aside, and then feel fed up by New Year’s eve because of all the sugar/pressure. There’s a lot of guides to help with not over-indulging in cookies and booze at parties this time of year (drink a ton of water and eat a vegetable-heavy meal at home first blah blah blah), but I want this effort to go deeper. A bit of a health and mind cleanse, but not in a creepy mind control kinda way. Just aiming for some peace, chill time and optimal health. Join me? ;)
This is another easy, weeknight main course kind of thing with hardy vegetables. Just a nicer version of an everyday supper at our house. I’m in the middle of some freelance food-related projects so there are scraps and halves of all kinds of vegetables/herbs in the fridge right now. The dinnertime move lately is a roasted vegetable + some grain + a slaw-ish-salad with seasonal accoutrements. The glazed squash is so delicious and sticky and awesome on its own though. I dress the whole thing with a fresh turmeric and clementine dressing. Nice and light, sweet, and pretty yellow. My first little crate of the citrus is deliciously sweet, so I’m hoping that’s indicative across the board.
Some other bits: I have a gluten-free and vegan chocolate chunk ginger cake on BAKED this week and a Thanksgiving-appropriate recipe for pot pie in The Washington Post too (hey ‘merica!). Also, I’m making the recipes here print-able now by linking to a Google document below the recipe title. Hope this is helpful for some of you! Big hearts this week xo
salty maple squash w/ ginger scallion rice + turmeric brussels slaw recipe
print the recipe here!
notes: It might be helpful to pre-peel the squash before you roast, just for easier eating. I didn’t really do this and the experience was a touch more rustic, if you will (and I hope you will). Also, if you can’t find fresh turmeric for the dressing, just substitute 1 tsp of turmeric powder. I use a Benriner mandolin for shredding here.
1 small butternut or acorn squash, seeded + cut into 1 1/2 inch wedges
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tsp tamari soy sauce
salt + pepper
turmeric brussels slaw ingredients:
2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed
1-2 scallions, sliced reserving white parts
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp cashew butter (preferably raw)
1 tsp dijon mustard
juice of 1 clementine (like 1/4 cup)
1 inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled + minced
2 scallions, sliced
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds/arils
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Lay the squash pieces on the parchment, peel side down. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, tamari, olive oil, salt + pepper. Brush this mixture on the squash (flesh parts; not the peel). Slide the tray into the oven and roast until the squash is tender, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice the brussels sprouts very thin into shreds. Toss them into a medium bowl with the sliced scallion, and chopped dill. In a blender, combine the cashew butter, dijon mustard, clementine juice, fresh turmeric, and olive oil. Season the mix with salt and pepper and blend on high until the mixture is totally smooth and incorporated, adding splashes of water if necessary. Pour 1/3-1/2 the dressing onto the brussels sprouts mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and gently toss again. Set aside.
Heat the 2 tsp olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the ginger and sliced scallions and stir until ginger has softened a bit, about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the cooked rice to the pan and stir to coat in the ginger scallion oil. Keep stirring and sautéing until the rice is warm, about 3 minutes. Season mix with salt and pepper.
Lay the squash slices in two shallow bowls/plates. Top the squash with the ginger scallion rice. Divide the brussels slaw among the two plates and garnish with extra turmeric dressing and pomegranate seeds. Serve warm.
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