Chipotle tempeh tacos with kohlrabi slaw

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Our CSA pickup is one of my favorite things about summer. Due to some scheduling issues with the pickup time, we made a switch this year to First Root Farm, and we’ve been really happy with the quality and variety so far. After years of participating in a CSA, I’ve discovered that our vegetable intake is much higher when we have it than when we don’t, and it also pushes me to be more creative with meal planning.

With this recipe, I was able to use kohlrabi, beets, carrots, and cilantro from the CSA share, and a chili pepper from my garden. The fresh, cool slaw nicely offsets the savory, spicy tempeh, and let me tell you, this tempeh is SPICY. If your tolerance for spice is in the non-masochistic category, you can dial back on the heat by removing the seeds from the chili pepper in the slaw, and by using chipotle powder in place of canned chipotle chilis.

Chipotle tempeh tacos with kohlrabi slaw

Makes 4-6 tacos

The slaw

2 small kohlrabi bulbs, peeled

1 medium beet, peeled

2 carrots, peeled

Juice from 1/2 lime

1 serrano chili pepper, finely diced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Salt, to taste

The tempeh

2 shallots, finely chopped

2 tsp vegetable oil

14.5 oz can tomato sauce (plain)

2-3 chipotle chili peppers in Adobo sauce

2 tbsp white vinegar

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey), add more to taste

1 package tempeh

Other

Whole wheat tortillas (taco or fajita-sized)

Fresh avocado or guacamole

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 scallion, sliced

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Prepare the slaw by shredding the kohlrabi, beet, and carrots. If you have a food processor with a shredding disc, this goes very quickly. If you only have a box grater, you may want to delegate to a friend or family member while you get started on the tempeh. Once everything is shredded, place into a large bowl, add the chili, lime juice, cilantro, and salt. Toss to combine, and set aside.

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Look how gorgeous it is!

Heat the vegetable oil over medium heat, add the shallots, and saute until they begin to brown. Stir in the tomato sauce, chipotles, vinegar, lime juice, garlic powder, and maple syrup. Taste, and add an additional 1-2 tbsp maple syrup if needed. Cook for 2 minutes to combine flavors. Chop the tempeh into cubes, and add to the sauce. Bring to a boil very briefly, then lower the heat to medium-low, and cook until sauce has thickened (about 10 minutes).

Assemble by filling the tortillas with tempeh, slaw, fresh avocado or guacamole, and garnish with some sliced scallion and cilantro leaves. If you try this recipe, feel free to leave me a comment with feedback!

*Note: Your tempeh should look a bit saucier than what is pictured below. I made some tweaks to the recipe, but didn’t get a good picture.

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Edamame-avocado toast with blistered garlicky tomatoes and spicy sauteed greens

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One of the reasons that I was initially drawn to a career in nutrition is because I enjoyed creating meals that were delicious while still being relatively healthy, and I wanted to inspire others to do the same. Ironically, this was one of the first things to go when life got crazy with nutrition school and my job as a personal trainer. Now that I have finished my dietetic internship and found myself unexpectedly unemployed, I am finding my cooking spark again.

Last week, I made avocado toast with an egg on top, and while it was delicious, the richness of it screamed out for some acidity and freshness. This time around, I blended the avocado with edamame for a protein boost, and topped it with sautéed greens and tomatoes for fiber, micronutrient variety, and flavor. A blood orange on the side added sweetness to my meal, and a sunny side up egg was perfect to round out each bite, and to increase the protein content of the meal. I prioritize protein at every meal because:

  1. As a vegetarian, it is too easy to be protein-deficient and carb-excessive. Vegetarian protein sources typically aren’t as simple to make or as protein-dense as meat sources. Adequate protein intake for many vegetarians requires some intention.
  2. Satiety: A meal that is lacking in protein will set me up to feel hungry all day long. Protein is essential to not overdoing it on other foods.
  3. I want a bigger deadlift.

Edamame-avocado toast with blistered garlicky tomatoes and spicy sautéed greens:

Makes 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1 cup frozen shelled edamame

1/4 cup cilantro

Juice of 1 lemon

 

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

1 pint tiny tomatoes (grape, cherry, etc.)

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

5 cups greens of your choice (I used baby spinach and arugula)

Water (as needed)

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

6-8 slices of your favorite bread (I used When Pigs Fly sliced sourdough)

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Instructions:

Cook edamame according to package instructions. Transfer into a food processor, add lemon juice and cilantro, and pulse until desired texture is achieved. Transfer to a medium bowl. Slice the avocado in half, remove the pit, and scoop the flesh into the bowl. Use a potato masher or fork to blend together the avocado and edamame mixture *(see note). Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside. You should have 1.5-2 cups of mixture.

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high heat. Slice tomatoes into halves, and thinly slice the garlic cloves. Add tomatoes and garlic to the skillet and cook until tomatoes start to brown, tossing frequently. This should only take a couple of minutes. Remove tomatoes and garlic to a plate.

Prepare your greens as needed. I use pre-washed baby greens to reduce prep time. Add the greens to the skillet, add a bit of water to help them cook down, and cook over medium heat. Add red pepper flakes as desired, toss greens, and remove from heat when the greens are wilted. The amount of water needed and total cook time will depend on the greens that you use, so keep an eye on it.IMG_0424

*Note: Alternately, you can reduce the number of steps by adding the avocado to the food processor with the edamame. I like a bit of texture, so I prefer to hand-mash when possible.

Assembly:

  1. Toast your slices of bread. Spread about 1/4 cup edamame-avocado mixture on each slice.

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2. Arrange the greens on top of the edamame-avocado mixture.

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3. Top with tomatoes and garlic.

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4. Add a cooked egg or other protein source, and a side of fruit for a complete meal.

5. Enjoy!

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Lemon Tofu

Things are busy around here. Hubs has been job hunting for the past couple of months, which has involved lots of meet-ups and networking events.  I’ve had regular evening clients at the gym, along with work to do for my dietetics program. To ensure that we have reasonably nutritious dinners, it has become even more important to plan our meals, stock up on groceries, and make dinners that will last more than one night. Combinations of protein, vegetables, and whole grains tend to fit the bill, providing a variety of nutrients, and acting as a palette for herbs and spices. I’m going to explain the thought process in case anyone out there is trying to figure out how to develop a recipe.

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When planning a meal, I usually start with a general idea, and then decide on the specifics as I go along. In this case, I decided on tofu, wild rice, and roasted vegetables. I then decided on cauliflower and carrots, based on textures, flavors, and nutrients. Carrots and cumin are often paired together, which evolved into the decision to use Moroccan spices with the vegetables. I turned to Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty for ideas, and I ended up adapting the flavors used in his “Spicy Moroccan Carrot Salad.” I was dry-frying the tofu while the vegetables were roasting, and I decided that some acidity was needed to balance out the sweet, spicy flavors of the vegetables, so I went with fresh lemon juice on the tofu. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if it was going to work, but it totally did. Sure, I could have done more with the tofu, but I was trying to keep it simple for a weeknight. I tried to find a decent photo of the meal, but I couldn’t. I’m a terrible photographer. You will just have to take my word for it that it is delicious.

Moroccan Spiced Vegetables and Lemon Tofu

14 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu (I use Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu)

1 lemon

1 head of cauliflower

3 large carrots

1 onion

3 garlic cloves

Red bell pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

Pinch of ground cloves

1/8 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare wild rice, or grain of your choice, according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, drain the water from the tofu, wrap the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels, and place a bowl or other weight on top to gently squeeze out excess water. While the tofu is pressing, begin preparing the vegetables. Combine the dried spices in a small bowl. Chop the vegetables (excluding cilantro) into bite-sized pieces and place into a shallow baking pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the vegetables, mix to combine, add the spices, and mix again. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, stirring the vegetables halfway through. 10 minutes before the vegetables are done, heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. It is VERY important to use a nonstick pan for this cooking method since you are not using any oil. Remove the towels from the tofu,  slice the tofu into small triangles or rectangles, and place into the frying pan in a single layer. Cook on one side for about 5 minutes, gently pressing down on each piece with a spatula. Once the tofu is golden brown on the bottom, flip over, and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Lower the heat to “low,” and squeeze lemon juice over the tofu, stirring to coat. Serve with wild rice and vegetables, and garnish vegetables with fresh cilantro.

Fun with our 6/10/10 CSA pickup- Swiss Chard and Chioggia Beets

The first night, the kohlrabi was a side dish for Baked Cheese Polenta with Swiss Chard from www.cookinglight.com. We had leftovers of the polenta dish, so the second night, I made a salad with the Chioggia beets and pea tendrils. Our CSA gave us pea tendrils last week, but we weren’t that impressed. They were tough and kind of difficult to work with. I saw smaller ones at the Copley farmers market and decided to give them another try. I thought that the delicate flavor of the pea tendrils would compliment the sweetness of the beets nicely.

Roasted Beet Salad (for 2 people)

  • 3-4 roasted Chioggia (or any) beets
  • 3 cups of pea tendrils
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup baby carrots
  • 1/3 cup orange muskat vinegar (or combine regular vinegar with orange juice)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Cut stems of beets so that only about 1 inch is still attached. Wrap beets (including skins) in foil and roast for about 45 minutes. Once you can easily pierce them with a fork, remove them from the oven and let them sit until cool enough to handle. I got impatient and threw mine in the freezer for a few minutes. Once cooled, you should be able to easily slip the skins off. I chose to slice mine, but wedges would work just as well.

Wash pea tendrils, coarsley chop and arrange beets on top. Add baby carrots and crumbled goat cheese. Mix together the olive oil and vinegar with some salt and pepper. I am in love with the Orange Muskat vinegar from Trader Joe’s, but I would think that mixing some orange juice with white vinegar would work too. Once mixed, drizzle over salad.

Baked Cheese Polenta with Swiss Chard (from www.cookinglight.com).

Preheat oven to 400.

Chard:

  • 2 bunches Swiss chard*
  • Cooking spray
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp water

Polenta:

  • 1 3/4 c water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 14.5 oz can vegetable broth (or equivalent w/veggie bouillon)
  • 1 c yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 c (2 oz.) crumbled goat cheese
  • 3 tbsp grated fresh parmesan
  • 1/4 c reduced fat sour cream

*Note: If you make this recipe with the beet salad, you could replace one bunch of chard with the beet greens, if they are still in good shape.

Wash the chard and remove stems and ribs. Discard the stems and coarsley chop the ribs, along with the leaves. Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add the ribs and water and cook for 5 minutes. Add the leaves, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until wilted.

In a large saucepan, combine water, salt, and broth. Whisking constantly, gradually add cornmeal. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for about 8 minutes. Whisk in cheeses until thoroughly combined.

To assemble, spray a 2-qt. baking dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the polenta into the dish. Top with chard mixture. Spoon sour cream on top of chard. Spread remaining half of polenta on top of sour cream layer. Baked for about 20 min. and let it stand for 5 min. before serving. Recipes makes 6 servings, but we cut it into 4.

Fun with our 6/10/10 CSA pickup- Kohlrabi

I’m still really excited about our CSA. Can you tell? This week’s share (from L to R) included broccoli, bibb lettuce, cilantro, kohlrabi, Chioggia beets, and Swiss chard. Along the top are Romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and Asian turnips.

Kohlrabi? What the heck is that? Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family, but the globe of it looks more like a crazy turnip variety. People use the leaves of the plant, but hubs and I weren’t crazy about the flavor. The globe has a fairly mild, sweet flavor with a tiny bit of kick to it. When sliced, it looked a little like a granny smith apple. Honestly, I was skeptical. A lot of people eat it raw, but I didn’t see the appeal, so I decided to roast it with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roasted, this stuff was like crack. I couldn’t get enough! I don’t even know how to describe its wonderfulness, but I highly recommend trying it.

Fun with our first CSA share!

I’ve been terrible about updating this. I’ve just been too lazy to really figure out how to use it. That’s why most people have seen me plastering Facebook with pictures of various things, but I should probably learn to contain it all here so that everyone doesn’t have to be subjected to my nonsense. I’ve actually been making a lot of things lately, so I have some things to post.

One of the things that I’m really excited about is our CSA. It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, we paid a flat fee when we signed up a few months ago. Starting last week, every week, we pick up a share of produce directly from a farmer. The share consists of whatever he’s able to harvest that week. Hubby and I LOVE our veggies, so we’ve both been pretty excited. Last week’s share contained 1 head of bibb lettuce, 1 head of red leaf lettuce, 1 bunch of mizuna, 1 bunch of pea tendrils, 1 bunch of spinach, 1 bunch of chicory, 1 bunch of Red Russian kale, and 1 head of bok choy. It was overwhelming to first figure out how to fit everything into the refrigerator, and then figure out how to use it all.

Stir-fry with pea tendrils, tofu, shiitake mushrooms, and noodles

Aside from a couple of great salads, our first meal using CSA veggies was a stir-fry made with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, pea tendrils, and fresh Asian noodles. Honestly, it didn’t quite hit the mark. The pea tendrils were tougher than we expected. I don’t know if we needed to trim them differently or cook them differently or what, but it didn’t quite work. Also, the flavors that I added in of sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, kind of overpowered the delicate flavors of the pea tendrils. The next night, we added some bok choi to it, and we enjoyed it more.

Pizza x 2

The mizuna was a bit of a challenge as I had never heard of it before. It is a delicate Asian green that is often compared to arugula due to its slightly peppery quality. After a string of Asian-inspired dishes, I was ready for a change, so I decided to try the mizuna on pizza, knowing that there are plenty of pizzas out there that use arugula. The first night, I bought pizza dough from the Shaws supermarket right down the street. This pizza had: garlic, caramelized onions, mizuna, grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella. It was generally pretty good, but a little on the dry side.

The next night, I decided to try it again with some changes. I decided to make my own dough, using a recipe that I found on the Pete Bakes blog, originally from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which, by the way, I think I may need to purchase. I love bread! Honestly, I don’t know if it came out the way that it was supposed to. The dough was extremely delicate and the resulting crust was a little too crunchy, but generally not bad. I decided to replace the tomatoes with black mission figs, add some fontina cheese and drizzle it all with a balsamic reduction.