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green curry kale + crispy coconut tempeh

green curry kale + crispy coconut tempeh // the first messgreen curry kale + crispy coconut tempeh // the first messgreen curry kale prep // the first mess
My phone number has a Toronto area code. Still. This general handyman sorta guy that’s been working on my house pointed it out to me the other day. I left the city over three years ago and I’ve been saying that I’ll change the number forever, but this might have to be the week that I actually do it. I used to have this underlying idea that some day I would go back, and for no real reason other than the possibility of it. After an emphatic conversation with a friend last weekend, I know that over time I’ve been embracing the quieter aspects of my home here. Way beyond being just okay with it.

I used to take the bus between there and home with frequency. It’s a 2 hour ride on a bad day. The start of the trip would be all herky-jerky stop + go lurches and glaring headlights if you sat on the wrong side. Somebody would have inevitably brought street meat on board and, yes inevitably, that unmistakable aroma of boiled off cuts with mustard would just hang. Headphones on, shoulders hunched toward the window, phone and a book within reach, chamomile with honey in a paper cup firmly grasped, and always a long scarf in my lap just in case the next passenger over blasted the A/C. I could never just fall asleep.

Half an hour into the trip, the stop and go fades and you see the tight tetris-like bedroom communities from the highway. A defunct auto plant, at least 3 Costco stores with jammed parking lots, a shallow river, fuel-efficient cars with one person in them in all the lanes over, commuter trains, mega-churches, these things flapping in the wind outside of storage units. The chatter on board begins to fade and my tea cup is almost empty.

A generous hour goes by and the ditches that pass below, even faster now, are deep with tall grass and weeds. You can see the lake, vineyards, greenhouses, the made-to-look-folksy-but-they’re-actually-brand-new road stops, the giant glowing cross that tells us we’re almost home, the shades of green and depth of space. It’s a sense of relief that creeps up slow, but is felt hard when it arrives. I hadn’t taken this trip in a good long while, but found myself on that bus last week, going through all of the same postures after a day about town. I have my home and tiny new roots that are starting to take, but that relief came through just as strong.

Our kitchen is renovated to the point of serviceable now and this is the first thing I made in it. Kale, go figure. (except we totally had pizza + Ashlae’s sea salt chocolate chip cookies too) I massaged it with lime juice and olive oil (this one–so good) to soften and then added cilantro leaves to the point where they became part of the salad itself. The dressing is coconut milk based, so, very fatty on the palate and completely satisfying in all of the obvious ways. I bash up lemongrass, green onions, ginger, lime peels, coriander and green chili in a mortar + pestle until I get a bit of a paste going. This gets stirred into the coconut milk with an extra hit of lime and even more cilantro (cilantro haters, this salad ain’t for you). The leaves are bathed in that spicy, sharp, and luxe mix. The last touch is small dices of tempeh crisped up in coconut oil. Mark said they were kind of like meaty croutons and I’m inclined to agree. This is a really easy and  tasty way to prepare tempeh if you’ve been feeling hesitant (which I totally understand because it’s a fermented soy cake that looks like brains). I’m going to try it crisped with garlic and smoked paprika for a kale/hearty greens caesar-ish salad topper next time.

So yeah, kind of a quick and easy one today with equally breezy photos. But! A few little notes before I go.

This feels so silly to say, but BuzzFeed asked me to be their “Spring Vegetable Correspondent” for the next few months and I happily obliged. I’ll be sharing really easy, vegan recipes that let the vegetables do the talking. The first post is here. Respond with YAAASS or a GIF if you’re a bit freaky.

I lean on chickpeas a lot here, so when the The Guardian asked to use one of my recipes in their “10 Best” column, I was delighted. Lots of good (omnivorous + veg) recipes here.

An interview and some very kind words over at Modern Thought (link).

My friend Kasey, along with her partner Matt, runs the incredible site and subscription service Turntable Kitchen (as I’m sure you’re all aware of at this point–pretty legendary!). They pair music and food in a way that’s thoughtful, accessible and fun. And cool thing? They’re releasing a cookbook of sorts! It’s a selection of 80 recipes from their Parings Box subscription service in, yep, a beautiful wooden box that allows you to add new bits and physically separate your faves–something that a traditional book doesn’t necessarily make room for. You can check it out here.

Happy weekend to you all. I’ll be back with some (raaaw!) dessert next week :)

kale // the first messgreen curry kale + crispy coconut tempeh // the first messgreen curry kale + crispy coconut tempeh // the first messgreen curry kale + crispy coconut tempeh // the first mess
green curry kale w/ crispy coconut tempeh
serves: 4-6
notes: For the dressing component, I got real physical and just bashed everything up in a mortar and pestle. This may be sufficient for some, but depending on the intensity/freshness of your ginger and lemongrass, you may want to blend all of the dressing components instead, or do the whole thing up in a mini food processor and do yourself a little strain afterwards. Taste as you go and judge from there.

1 bunch of kale, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
3 green onions, sliced + divided
3 big handfuls of cilantro leaves, divided
2 limes
olive oil
salt + pepper
2 inch piece of lemongrass (the bulb-ish part at the bottom of the stalk)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled
1/2-1 thai green chili (depending on your tolerance)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2-1 tsp tamari soy sauce
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk, stirred
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
1 standard package of tempeh, cut into small pieces
sesame + hemp seeds

In a large bowl, toss the kale leaves, green parts of the sliced green onions (you’ll be reserving the white parts for the tempeh + dressing) and two handfuls of cilantro leaves. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the salad, add a bit of olive oil, some salt, and pepper. Toss everything together to combine, massaging the oil/lime juice into the kale leaves in order to soften them. Set this portion of the salad aside.

Cut 3 little strips of zest off of the remaining lime and cut them up rough. Throw them into a mortar and pestle. Add in about half of the leftover green onion whites. Slice the piece of lemongrass, ginger, and chili and add those too. Finally, add the coriander and a bit of salt. Start bashing the ingredients together until you have a chunky paste. I like to squeeze a bit of lime into the mortar to help aid this process along. Once you have a decent paste, scrape it into a measuring cup and stir in the coconut milk along with the tamari. Chop up the remaining cilantro and and stir it into the mix as well. Check the dressing for salt, pepper and acidity level at this point. Adjust to your liking and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large saute pan over medium. Add the remaining green onions and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the pieces of tempeh + some salt and pepper. Toss/stir the pieces of tempeh around here and there until all sides are browned and lightly crisp, about 8 minutes. It should sizzle and pop. Add a squeeze of lime at the end and toss them to coat.

Spoon the coconut dressing over the salad and finish with the crispy tempeh pieces. Garnish the salad with sesame/hemp seeds and serve.

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Abby @ The Frosted Vegan28/03/2014 - 8:40 am

Your words are always so lovely (along with your photos!). Congrats on the Buzz Feed gig!

molly yeh28/03/2014 - 10:33 am

these photos are gorgeous! yay for new kitchens :) i’ve also had that area code thought, it’s quite scary… but isn’t the quiet life SO NICE AND WORTH IT?!

happy weekend to you, miss laura!

mich28/03/2014 - 10:33 am

First photos in the new house! I recognize that porch :)

Here’s to many more meals and celebrations there. I can’t wait to share one with you!

Kathryn28/03/2014 - 10:48 am

Spring vegetable correspondent = best title ever.

Ashlae28/03/2014 - 11:24 am

We moved out of Ohio six years ago, but I have yet to change my Ohio phone number – and I’m not sure I ever will. Like my last name that I won’t be changing when Thom and I officially seal the deal, I have a weird attachment to it that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake.

In other news, I can’t think of anyone better to be a Spring Vegetable Correspondent than the Queen of Cruciferous Veg, herself. Fist bumps to you, lady! And you broke in your kitchen with the sea salt chippas? *blushing* Wanna see more of that kitchen.

Jo from yummyvege28/03/2014 - 11:54 am

This is just what I was looking for! I have a packet of tempeh in the fridge and was trying to think of ways to jazz it up!

[…] still my vegan heart … This green curry kale salad looks […]

[…] green curry kale and crispy coconut tempeh. […]

Sini | my blue&white kitchen29/03/2014 - 9:23 am

This salad calls my name. It looks so unbelievably good! Can’t wait to have a bowl of it…Maybe next week? And congrats for all the accomplishments: a new kitchen, BuzzFeed, the Guardian, etc. Wow!!

Have a lovely weekend,

Ami@naivecookcooks29/03/2014 - 10:43 pm

Lovely salad and I liked the way you described your journey!

SouthernSpoon30/03/2014 - 7:03 am

This looks incredible– green curry salad, love it. Congrats on all the press opportunities, and a working kitchen!

Hilary30/03/2014 - 6:27 pm

I read your interview with modern thought – just thought I would point out that if you ever find some large property to put your kitchen/barn/farm area – SIGN ME UP! I’m in the area and would be all in. :)

Kiran30/03/2014 - 7:50 pm

I’m so happy I ran across your website!! I’ve tried three recipes so far and they were hugely successful with my whole family. Thank you!!

Katie @ Produce on Parade31/03/2014 - 1:00 pm

“Spring Vegetable Correspondent”?! Whoa, that’s pretty freaking awesome for a title. I think you should make a name tag and wear it about. I would. ;) Congratulations!

ATasteOfMadness31/03/2014 - 3:59 pm

YuM! I’ve got to start buying more kale. This looks SO good!

Hannah31/03/2014 - 6:44 pm

This was delicious! I love everything coconut and this was no exception :) can’t wait for the Caesar salad. Love you Laura!

Heather01/04/2014 - 3:00 pm

I made this over the weekend and it was a hit! Crunchy and warm. It did all sorts of good things for me.

Michelle01/04/2014 - 5:16 pm

This was timely! I’m looking for delicious kale recipes!

phi01/04/2014 - 8:24 pm

i love the green on blue! and tempeh on kale! sooo good.


[…] EAT. Trying out my cooking skills with this delicious looking curry kale recipe […]

Kimberley04/04/2014 - 8:59 pm

Hi, also this. I have this thing where I want to love tempeh but it has to be made just so. And bringing the words coconut and crispy into the mix will surely take it there.

Dee04/06/2014 - 11:40 pm

I’m a huge fan of The First Mess and have successfully made many of your recipes, but I have to question the use of raw lemongrass and ginger in this dressing? Even after pounding and running through the food processor, I was left with tough, fibrous and aggressive pieces of lemongrass as well as the overwhelming spice of raw ginger!

I ended up straining the dressing through cheesecloth, though, and this dish was scarfed up just like the others!

Laura Wright05/06/2014 - 7:54 am

Hi Dee! Bummer that your first interaction with this recipe was kind of on the underwhelming/weird side. I find ginger and lemongrass have varying degrees of intensity every time I go to use them. Maybe yours were super hot and mine were a bit tired? Either way, I found really pounding the living crap out of both in the mortar and pestle was sufficient, but I like your straining idea. I’m going to make a note in the recipe because I think some people might run into the same problem. Thanks for your helpful feedback!

Kasey09/06/2014 - 11:41 pm

How did I miss this beautiful post?! Thank you so much for the kind words about the Cookbook in a Box my friend. We so appreciate it, and I apologize for not seeing it sooner (ah, life). This place you’ve created is beyond inspiring. Whenever I visit, I want to just spend days and days here. xoxo

Larissa22/06/2014 - 10:47 pm

This is the first recipe I’ve made from The First Mess and I had to restrain myself from devouring the entire bowl!

Thanks for the fabulous recipe, looking forward to many more!

[…] Water Toner Decor: Tulum Print by Max Wagner Recipe: Green Curry Kale + Crispy Coconut Tempeh via The First Mess Design/Photography: Julia Kostreva’s Notebooks DIY: DIY Patterned Flatware Pouches via […]

[…] Green Curry Kale and Crispy Coconut Tempeh from The First Mess […]

spring onion falafel with millet + some accompaniments

spring onion falafel with millet + some accompaniments // the first messspring onion falafel with millet + some accompaniments // the first messfalafel prep // the first mess
There are plenty of things keeping me up at night lately and while I’ve already cut my caffeine consumption down to one coffee a day, I’m finding some true release in a put-it-all-out-there strategy. Sleep has been noticeably more solid and it’s funny how the universe provides some answers, just so long as you make your being/wants known. We’re on the tip of the very cusp of a new season (so close) and everything feels possible. There’s work to do inside and out at our place (counters in that kitchen!), all sorts of food to make, places to go. I think it might get a little crazy soon, but I’m hoping I can be here as often as ever. I like the early bits of spring. It’s all tiny green buds, petrichor, lighter jackets and anticipation

One of my dearest friends shot me a text last week to tell me that a) my site was down and b) this was a bummer because he needed a falafel recipe. I got the site back up, but still no falafel recipe? Huh. Truthfully I had never made it before. I have this thing about certain takeaway-style foods where I tell myself there’s no point in trying to replicate them at home because seriously, how are you gonna do better? Deep frying at home isn’t something I aim to do often, but I had a homemade falafel experience on my mind. So I consulted about 15 recipes, decided to get real wild and just bake them.

It was easier than I thought! And once you serve them up with pita, lettuce, tahini sauce etc., you kind of forget that they aren’t fried. All of the flavour is totally there. I lightened my falafel mix with cooked millet, lemon and scallions, uuuum because spring or something. I love the toasty, corn-ish qualities of millet and knew that it would fluff things up a bit in terms of texture. I’ve got three little add-on recipes to accompany these too. The first one is my basic pickled red onions recipe/non-recipe. I use these on any and all savoury foods. The next one is some salty sweet rosemary peanuts. These are so punchy and right on a falafel salad, but really good on their own too. Last thing is a dill-y tahini sauce that you can just shake up in a jar. When I make any sauce/dressing (or food in general), I keep tasting and adding more salt, sweetness, acid, fat or spice to my liking until I’ve nailed it. This recipe follows that taste-as-you-go strategy and the jam jar mixing method makes that whole thing a bit easier.

falafel prep // the first messspring onion falafel with millet + some accompaniments // the first messspring onion falafel with millet + some accompaniments // the first mess
spring onion falafels with millet + some accompaniments
serves: makes about 20 falafels
notes: I feel like quinoa or any other small, fluffy and spherical grain could work in place of the millet. Just make sure that all of the water is cooked out and the grain is as dry as possible when you go to mix it with the chickpea base. As always, garlic, cumin and any other spices can be added or subtracted to your liking.

falafel ingredients:
2 cups cooked chickpeas, dried with a kitchen towel
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled + roughly chopped
1/2 of a small cooking onion, roughly chopped
4-5 green onions, sliced, white bulb- parts and green tops separated
2 tsp ground cumin
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1 tbsp brown rice/oat/millet flour (or whole wheat, spelt, all purp etc. if you can handle gluten)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup cooked, but still chewy, millet (1/3 cup millet + 2/3 cup water simmered until all the water is gone)
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.

In a food processor combine the chickpeas, garlic, chopped cooking onion, the chopped whites of the green onions, ground cumin, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pulse until you have a chunky paste and there are hardly any whole chickpeas left. Add the flour and baking soda and pulse a couple more times to combine. You should have a wet and chunky paste. Scrape this into a large bowl. To this, add the cooked millet, sesame seeds, and sliced green onion tops. Fold it all together to combine.

Form falafels with your hands by grabbing about 2 tbsp of chickpea mixture at a time. Gently roll it into a football-ish shape and place it on the parchment lined pan. repeat with remaining chickpea mixture. Once you’re done, slide the tray into the oven and bake falafels for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and slightly firm to the touch. Serve falafels in a pita, big lettuce leaf, or on top of a salad with any of the accompaniments below!

1. really easy pickled red onions
1 onion’s worth :)

1/2 cup white wine/cider/rice vinegar
1 cup+ water
2-3 tbsp maple syrup/raw honey
2 tsp sea salt
1 red onion, sliced into thin half moons

Combine everything but the sliced onion in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. While it’s heating up, pack the sliced onions into a clean jar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the onions and allow it to sit at room temp, uncovered, for an hour or so. Put the lid on and refrigerate onions until ready to use. These will keep for a few weeks (but they probably won’t last that long).

2. sweet and salty rosemary peanuts
makes: 1 cup

1 cup raw, unsalted peanuts
1 sprig rosemary
2 tbsp maple syrup
sea salt

Toss all of the ingredients together and spread them out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake them in a 350 degree oven until they’ve browned slightly and dried up a bit, about 7-10 minutes.

3. jam jar tahini dressing
makes: a generous 1/2 cup

1 clove of garlic, minced or grated on a rasp
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp maple syrup/raw honey
splash of cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup water (depending on how thick/thin you want this)
1/4 cup tahini
salt and pepper
2 sprigs of dill, leaves chopped

Shake up all of the ingredients in a tightly sealed jar. Check it for seasoning, adjust and store in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

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Kathryn20/03/2014 - 6:11 am

Man, I love that idea that everything feels/is possible. Life feels so full of hope and anticipation. I’m totally on the falafel train these days; excited to try your version.

Jo from yummyvege20/03/2014 - 6:37 am

Yum they look so good, I’m feeling inspired to bake today…

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan20/03/2014 - 9:24 am

I can’t get over how gorgeous this is! Here’s to all those feelings of hope and anticipation : )

Lindsey20/03/2014 - 9:42 am

Wow, if ever a word was attached to an olfactory memory, petrichor would surely be the poster-child for it. Thanks for this wonderful introduction to such awesome word!

Yes, spring is here, officially! And with it comes possibility, new adventures, fresh air and these falafels! Love the addition of millet, and totally love all the sides – high-fives for jam jar dressings and sauces! ! Cheers Laura!

Stephanie20/03/2014 - 11:03 am

These little falafel bites are adorable! I just made some chickpea patties a little while ago with very similar flavorings. I could not live without chickpeas– hence the 2 crates I buy at every Costco run. :) I’m with you on the pickled red onions. I make them ALL the time because they go on everything.

dana20/03/2014 - 11:06 am

Beautiful, Laura! Love the photography as well (per usual).

cheri20/03/2014 - 12:29 pm

I love that these are baked, and all the accompaniments.

Golubka20/03/2014 - 1:02 pm

I needed the recipe for your soba last week when the site was down. That made me realize how much I depend on it. In terms of falafels, I’m the opposite and do make them often, always looking for new recipes and accompaniments. Love your pickled onions and rosemary peanuts, something to try with the next batch for sure.

molly yeh20/03/2014 - 1:11 pm

i so know how you feel about wanting to leave some things to the guys at the take out restaurants, but i am also with you about the frying vs. baking. i think i’d eat a whole lot more falafel if it wasn’t deep fried… that’s actually the reason why my old falafel monday tradition flopped.

so this is my cue to go make this right now. and i’ve been meaning to buy some millet anyways…..

yay happy spring!

Meredith20/03/2014 - 1:36 pm

These look great Laura! And the timing is perfect…I just bought a bunch of millet for the first time and have been looking for interesting recipes to try it out. Can’t wait to give these a go! Oh and beautiful photos, as always :).

shanna mallon20/03/2014 - 3:05 pm

I’ve been dreaming of making homemade falafel for a long while, and this post is reminding me why I need to just do it already! GORGEOUS photos. My mouth is watering.

sara20/03/2014 - 11:23 pm

gorgeous bowl that you’re mixing that falafel mush in, miss! so pretty. I am a baked falafel fan myself, but admit they hinge upon their sauce and fixins. Love the idea of the peanuts, must try that.
Good luck with the house but I am certain its coming along beautifully. I had to stop with ours, and just live in it as is for a few weeks because I was afraid there would be no end to the number of things we want to do around here (and the money going to hardware stores was disgusting me). Anyway. Love to you two and may is be as much adventure and little stress as possible. xo

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody)20/03/2014 - 11:35 pm

This looks so healthy, tasty and satisfying. Can’t wait to try it out for lunch. :)

Teffy21/03/2014 - 6:11 am

Oh WOW! Looks so so good. I am a huge falafel fan. I’ve never actually made it myself, but this one would be the perfect one to start with.

{Teffy’s Perks} X

Sini | my blue&white kitchen21/03/2014 - 7:53 am

This post is a gem! The falafels and sides look amazing. I kinda want to run straight into the kitchen and make this for lunch.

Cheers to a spring full of possibilities,

Chelsea//TheNakedFig21/03/2014 - 10:40 am

I’ve only ever made raw falafel. Why has it taken me until reading this post to realize I should be making my own falafel? Thanks for sharing so many yummy recipes in one!

[…] spring onion falafel. […]

Kate23/03/2014 - 7:18 am

I made this, using quinoa, last night for dinner with all of the little sides and they were amazing. The peanuts and onions added a lovely sweetness, the tahini sauce was very bright, and the falafel was light and filling without being heavy!

Amanda23/03/2014 - 10:03 am

Made these last night (+ pickled and dressing) and they were fucking ridiculous.

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Alison Chino24/03/2014 - 3:26 pm

YES PLEASE! These look amazing. I’m totally going for it.

Kathryne24/03/2014 - 8:01 pm

Man, I went through this phase when I was only getting four hours of sleep a night, but it wasn’t due to too much caffeine. I must have been running on stress and determination alone. I finally cleared some projects off my plate and I’m finding some balance—hope you don’t go nuts like I did while you’re working on those kitchen counters. :) This falafel looks delightful and I can’t wait to try those quick-pickled onions.

[…] Une recette de falafels qui me met l’eau à la bouche! […]

Ileana25/03/2014 - 12:16 pm

What a lovely idea! I look forward to trying your clever recipe.

Ironic | La Pêche Fraîche26/03/2014 - 2:57 am

[…] like Laura is in my brain– these heavenly, spiced falafels accompanied by tons of fresh veggies look like the definition of a […]

Kirti26/03/2014 - 8:06 am

Can I just say I love your ideas and pictures? Also that I love the narrative?
In India (where I live), recipes/dishes with (red) millet are quite common. Especially in southern coastal India, where my husband is from. It is one of his favorite morning breakfast ingredients. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe. :)

Brian @ A Thought For Food27/03/2014 - 11:51 am

I love that counter! Oh my goodness. I want it bad. I won’t begin to tell you (or anyone else) how dated our (soon-to-be) kitchen is in our new house. I’m definitely planning on putting in similar counters when we redo it. Whenever that is.

ANYWHO! Ok, so I adore falafel and, like you, felt that it wasn’t something you made at home. BUT I’ve done a few versions… some baked with canned chickpeas (because I was lazy), some fried with fresh chickpeas (which were SO much better). But mine have never looked as beautiful as yours. Really, this is gorgeous.

Dawn27/03/2014 - 12:28 pm

I absolutely adore falafels and am always on the look out for recipes as I have never been content with the ones I’ve tried. They have always been too dry or bland. Can’t wait to give this a whirl.

On another note I hope that you are thinking about writing a cookbook as I would definitely be first in line to purchase a copy! Love your originality and inventiveness. x

Deena Kakaya01/04/2014 - 6:32 pm

Wow, your pictures look incredible! I don’t often see recipes using millet flour but I’m really impressed with the result of yours and especially that you’ve baked with them. Glad to have found your blog x

[…] bowl. Super yum! Another way to devour chickpeas, be still my heart. I just can’t quit you, chickpeas. This salted caramel & macadamia pull-apart bread WHAT. Anything that shoves breakfast into a […]

[…] Adapted from The First Mess  […]

[…] adapted from The First Mess and Bon Appetit. Make it vegan: Substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey. Change it up: […]

simple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba

simple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba // the first messsimple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba // the first messnoodles // the first messThe Extra Virgin Kitchen by Susan Jane White
I find it really hard to eat full-stop healthy sometimes, but most especially this time of year. No garden, no sunshine to lure you outside for an off-the-cuff adventure, constant carb-y hankerings seem to fortify us against the cold (proof: there was a bathtub-sized vat of kale, celery root, chili + cauliflower mac ‘n’ cheese for staff meal the other night), the anxiousness over whether spring will ever come… It’s the season of staying cozy and holding tight, and it seems far from over up in these parts. What to eat is more often answered with reasons of comfort than thoughts of lightness.

I haven’t been strictly vegan for a while (maybe we can talk about that soon?), I love salty snacks, treats with coffee, and I sincerely enjoy a piece of not-even-remotely whole grain sourdough often. All of that and some hot chocolate, you know just in case, has been thoroughly woven into the movements of life lately. It feels good deep down in certain ways that don’t really tick the boxes for wellness inspiration boards on Pinterest (which is fine because frankly #fitspo is a little scary for me). And while I’m happy (so happy) in a general life/place-in-the-universe sense… most of my jeans are tight as eff right about now.

So when The Extra Virgin Kitchen arrived in the post, the whole aura about it felt so timely. The pictures are green, gorgeous, and full of beautiful warm weather evening light. More importantly, Susan offers loads of inspiration in the realm of food and wellness. She has so many interesting and new ideas for superfoods, grains, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. There’s lucuma fudge, beetroot ketchup, spirulina shots, buckwheat crepes with pine nut ricotta, badass breakfast bars (best title eveeeer), harissa quinoa with lemon-roasted fennel… lots of inspiration to help anyone be a little more creative and mindful in the kitchen. All of the recipes are gluten, dairy, and sugar free too (there’s some meat and fish in the mix FYI). I think flipping through this beaut might have been the spark I needed to dust off my juicer? Whatever the case, the inclination towards fresh juices, vegetables in general, plant-y proteins, and proper hydration has definitely been stronger lately.

This recipe from the salads & suppers section had me intrigued in its outright simplicity. I knew it had to be one of those things that was way more than the sum of its parts because why else would she call it “snazzy broccoli and soba noodles”? Snazzy! Some chopped brazil nuts (selenium yea yea) are stirred into a salty-awesome mix of sesame oil, tamari, garlic etc. I added a couple little things just for fun because I had them around (lime juice, ginger, tiny splash of maple syrup). It was just a little stir and pour-over kind of move and holy jeez. So good. Suspiciously good for the amount of effort really. This one is for all the peeps who don’t think they have enough time to eat well for themselves, because YOU KNOW you don’t have time to feel like shit either. Give yourself the power in a cool 15 minutes :)

simple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba // the first messsimple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba // the first messsimple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba // the first messsimple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba // the first mess
simple, salty, sweet + nutty broccoli soba
lightly adapted from Susan Jane White’s The Extra Virgin Kitchen
serves: 2-3
notes: This recipe is so versatile: use any steamed/roasted/grilled/raw vegetables you like, noodles of whatever persuasion you prefer. But the sauce! Please keep the sauce :)

2-3 portions of soba noodles (I like a 1:1, sometimes 1:2, noodle + veg ratio, but make as much as you prefer)
1/2-1 full bunch of broccoli, cut into florets (save the stalks for green juice or maybe some pesto?)

1-2 garlic cloves, grated on a rasp
1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled + grated on a rasp
1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
splash of maple syrup/brown rice syrup
1/2 tsp light miso
hot toasted sesame oil to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of cayenne or chili flakes
juice of 1/2 a lime
4-5 brazil nuts, chopped + divided

Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. This usually takes anywhere from 8-10 minutes once your water’s boiling. Drain them and rinse with cold water.

While the noodles are cooking, in a small bowl whisk/stir together the grated garlic, ginger, tamari, maple syrup/brown rice syrup, miso, hot toasted sesame oil, olive oil, cayenne, lime juice and chopped brazil nuts. Add a little fresh ground black pepper if you want. Set aside.

Steam the broccoli to a point you find enjoyable. I like mine still sorta raw-ish, so once the water’s simmering in the pot, that steamer basket hangs out for about 3-4 minutes.

Divide the noodles and broccoli among bowls, drizzle the sauce on top, sprinkle the tops with some extra chopped brazil nuts if you like and serve.

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Claire (Eat Well. Party Hard.)13/03/2014 - 4:39 am

Two words: that. gif.

Skye13/03/2014 - 5:31 am

You’re photos are always so beautiful – how do you do it?!
I’m endlessly trying to be healthy too. And then failing miserably when someone offers me a slice of cake. But recipes like this certainly help to inspire me to be more conscious of what I eat…

Kathryn13/03/2014 - 5:39 am

I’ve seen a couple of people talking about this book recently and, like you, it feels pretty timely to me. I’m so bored about obsessing about what I eat and I’m so ready to embrace a more simple + happier outlook. Sometimes that will involve carbs + chocolate and other times it will involve broccoli and soba noodles. That’s what balance is all about right? Love this + your pics which are so full of beauty and life.

Natalye13/03/2014 - 6:02 am

Looks amazingly good! I have some broccoli in the fridge waiting to be used. Might just have to try this out! Thanks for sharing.

Lisa @ Simple Pairings13/03/2014 - 7:09 am

What a beautiful dish! I have yet to try soba noodles, but I really should one of these days. I’ve been seeing them everywhere! This looks so yummy – love the sauce recipe.

lynsey13/03/2014 - 8:36 am

This is the best “This one is for all the peeps who don’t think they have enough time to eat well for themselves, because YOU KNOW you don’t have time to feel like shit either” – we all only have 24 hours…why not feel awesome? great post. xo

Abby @ The Frosted Vegan13/03/2014 - 8:50 am

Those noodles and veggies, perfect!

Christine13/03/2014 - 9:58 am

I haven’t heard of this book, but it looks right up my alley and I think I’ll add it to my wishlist :) Your pictures look beautiful and this sounds really delicious!

la domestique13/03/2014 - 10:27 am

OMG I’m talkin about Extra Virgin Kitchen over on la domestique too! Love that book and had great fun at her cookery demo in Dublin last night. You’ve made the broccoli soba look irresistible!

Lauren13/03/2014 - 10:45 am

This looks great AND I have most of these ingredients in my kitchen already. Looks like I’m going to have a new favorite weeknight meal…
-Lauren at

Emma13/03/2014 - 10:58 am

What an easy, tasty-looking dish. I’m not familiar with that book but the recipes you listed sound right up my street.
Spring has finally sprung here but I’m still clinging on to winter comfort foods…

michelle13/03/2014 - 11:02 am

Amazing! Just the kind of simple meal that I love. Question: what nut would be an ideal substitute for a brazil nut in a pinch?

Also, thanks for sharing that article about #fitspo. I hope more people reconsider those kinds of messages.

Ashley13/03/2014 - 11:46 am

Just beautiful. And, that sauce!!! I’ve definitely been overdoing it with the carbs lately. Whoops. ;)

jen13/03/2014 - 11:46 am

Assuming you got this book from the publisher/author, did they provide more info on North America distribution that you could include in the post?

Looks like a wonderful book I’d like to buy but I see it listed for $82 US, and only from third party sellers, which seems crazy….

cheri13/03/2014 - 11:49 am

Look’s like this is a great cookbook, love soba noodles, broccoli and most any kind of nut garnish on top. Yum!

Laura Wright13/03/2014 - 12:05 pm

Hi Jen!,
The publisher included a link to Book Depository, which seems to have it at a more reasonable price!:

Laura Wright13/03/2014 - 12:07 pm

Almost any chopped up nut or seed would be appropes I think. Peanuts, cashews, sunflower seeds or almonds (or a mix!) would all be so great.

dederka13/03/2014 - 1:54 pm

i love the photos! i love soba, i love broccoli, i love brasil nuts, looks like a have a winner in the whats for dinner everyday contest
all the best!

Sini | my blue&white kitchen13/03/2014 - 3:59 pm

I’ve been obsessed with soba noodles lately, so this dish basically calls my name. Definitely going to make this soon! Thanks, for being such a constant source of inspiration!

Jessica DeMarra13/03/2014 - 10:49 pm

Your photography is so brilliant and vivid. The way you present this dish makes my mouth water over something so simple as broccoli and noodles.

Lily (A Rhubarb Rhapsody)14/03/2014 - 1:44 am

Soba noodles are such a simple joy. My son will rarely eat pasta but soba noodles always go down a treat. Adding this recipe to my meal plan!

Jo14/03/2014 - 11:31 am

This looks so delicious can’t wait to try it! Although I’m tempted to just make the sauce and use it for dipping bread in!

M14/03/2014 - 7:49 pm

Just wondering if you tried the sauce with miso? It’s in one of the photos!

Laura Wright14/03/2014 - 8:39 pm

M, I toootally forgot to add that to the recipe! Oops. Fixed it :)

Chelsea // The Naked Fig15/03/2014 - 10:44 pm

This looks so delicious and simple to make. I must remember this one next time I’m feeling run down and uninspired. That book looks fantastic. What a beauty she is. Thank you for sharing!

Gwyneth17/03/2014 - 11:11 am

I just learned how to make my own soba noodles, so I am definitely trying this out. Thanks so much!

Kris17/03/2014 - 3:17 pm

Girl, I totally get this. I could have written this post myself, especially (unfortunately) the part about that my jeans are effing tight! :) You have no idea how nice it it know that I’m not alone. I’ve gotta get my hands on this book now, too!

Katie @ Produce on Parade17/03/2014 - 3:50 pm

Haha, omg this post had me cracking up…and relating. Those fitspo images are terrifying on some many different levels. Not gonna lie, I run at least four times a week and do yoga at least twice a week but it’s mostly for a mind release, to fight stress and curb illness. I do it because it makes me happy, not because if I don’t do it it will make me upset! I’ve never understood that! Being vegan makes me very happy too! :) Loved this post. Now off to eat a chocolate cherry cookie, yum!

Weekend Reading, 3.17.1417/03/2014 - 5:55 pm

[…] love a recipe with a descriptive title. What’s more evocative than Laura’s simple, salty, sweet, nutty broccoli soba […]

[…] Avant je détestais le brocolis. Mais maintenant j’ai envie d’en manger à toutes les sa… […]

jade18/03/2014 - 8:22 pm

this is EXACTLY what I feel like today. and i have all the ingredients already on hand! very excited – the amazing recipes just keep coming laura! sheesh!!

Evan19/03/2014 - 9:48 am

Made this last night–simple, quick, delicious. I found the sauce incredibly salty for some reason–not sure if it was the type of miso I used. I added a little extra olive oil to balance it out and it was just fine. Thank you for the recipe, and for the tip about the book! I look forward to checking it out.

Hilary19/03/2014 - 3:54 pm

“This one is for all the peeps who don’t think they have enough time to eat well for themselves, because YOU KNOW you don’t have time to feel like shit either”

Pure Genius.

Thanks for the spark of inspiration:)

WorldlyPost19/03/2014 - 11:08 pm

Oh my goodness! I could not agree more with the desire to reach for a comforting slice of toast or a slice pot pie for a cold evening or some gooey mashed potatoes! Spring is around the corner though….even though it seems like longer! :)

Thanks for the recipe!

Poutine80twenty25/03/2014 - 12:12 am

[…] richer, more satiating foods still maintains a stronghold on my appetite. I related a lot to Laura’s post about still having a need for comforting, fortifying carbs, and other heavy foods throughout this […]

Brandon26/03/2014 - 10:14 am

I made this the other night and it was fantastic. 5 out of 5. So simple and so delicious. The only thing I may change is to add tofu next time to give it a bit more protein, but other than that it was perfection. Thanks so much for the fantastic recipe.

SLJ27/03/2014 - 6:26 pm

This was so simple to make, yet so wonderfully satisfying. I will add tofu next time too, but it’s lovely the way it is as well. Thanks for the recipe and the gorgeous photos.

[…] simple, salty, sweet and nutty broccoli soba, The First Mess: I’ve been getting a lot of broccoli in my Abel & Cole vegetable box of […]

Michelle Duong27/04/2014 - 11:44 pm

I just made this for lunch. It was deliciously tasty but also light. Yum! Thanks for the recipe and I’m loving your blog

Patty09/06/2014 - 11:06 pm

YUM! Just made this. Quick, easy, super tasty. Thank you!

[…] Make it a topping for a salad dressed with something like this. […]