GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME & BUTTERNUT SQUASH

I drink tea every evening and often incorporate it in my cooking (and baking). Any green tea will work well for this recipe, but I used a very special kind, that goes by the beautiful name Thunder Dragon. I did not know, but that’s how people of Bhutan call their country… Bhutan: The Land of the Thunder Dragon. Isn’t that beautiful? The tea they produce is rarely exported, but not too long ago was available for sale by “In Pursuit of Tea”, and I got some. First time I made this dish, I brewed some tea and used it to cook the rice later, but if you don’t have a problem with the tea leaves staying around… this method is easier and delivers the same flavor.

GREEN TEA RICE WITH EDAMAME AND BUTTERNUT SQUASH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the rice:
1 cup Basmati rice, rinse and drained
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
fresh ginger, minced (about 1 tsp, or to taste)
2 cups water
2 tsp green tea leaves (loose)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup shelled edamame (frozen works great)

for the butternut squash:
1/2 butternut squash, cut in 1-inch pieces
olive oil to coat
salt, pepper and paprika to taste

Start by roasting the butternut squash. Heat the oven to 420F. Coat the pieces of squash with olive oil, season with salt, pepper and paprika. Place as a single layer on a baking dish lined with aluminum foil, sprinkle a bit of water (a tablespoon or so), and cover tightly with foil. Roast for 25 minutes, remove the cover and roast for 20 more minutes uncovered while you prepare the rice.

If using frozen edamame, remove it from the freezer and place on a baking dish to defrost while you make the rice. Heat the grapeseed oil in a saucepan, add the ginger, saute for a few seconds, and add the rice. Season with salt, and saute for a minute, until all grains are well coated with oil. Add the water, tea, and bring to a gently boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Place the edamame on top of the rice and cover the pan again. Leave for 10 minutes undisturbed, and when the butternut squash is ready, fluff the rice, mix the edamame with it, and serve with the squash around it.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The rice can stand on its own as a side dish, but the color, texture and taste of the roasted squash was surprisingly good with it. I often do a very similar approach using frozen corn kernels instead of edamame. The residual steam as the rice is ready and waiting is enough to warm up the corn and it retains a very nice texture. If you ever want to perk your rice up, it’s a pretty easy way to do it. I might do a double feature next time, edamame and corn together, green and yellow, the colors of Brazil!

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ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GRAPES WITH MAPLE POMEGRANATE GLAZE

You absolutely, positively, definitely, undoubtedly need this recipe in your life. I knew it would be tasty because Joanne raved about it, and she performs magic with vegetables. All. The. Time. I’ve only roasted grapes once for a focaccia (back in 2016!), but now I cannot stop thinking about other ways to incorporate them in savory dishes. They turn luscious.

ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND GRAPES WITH MAPLE POMEGRANATE GLAZE
(adapted from Joanne’s Eats Well with Others)

12 oz red seedless grapes, removed from the stem
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 large butternut squash (about 2.5 lb), seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tbsp unsalted butter
⅓ cup pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp five spice powder
1/4 cup slivered almonds (or more)
fresh mint

Heat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

In a large bowl, toss the grapes with 1 tbsp olive oil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Place the grapes on the baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in the same bowl toss the squash with 3 tbsp of the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, cinnamon, and five spice powder over medium-low heat. Heat for 3 minutes or until the butter is melted and the flavors can meld together. Toss the squash with a quarter of the sauce. Reserve the remaining sauce for later.

Add the squash to the pans with the roasted grapes, place the pan back in the oven and roast for another 20-25 minutes. When you have about 5 minutes left in the roasting time, sprinkle the almonds on top and mix them gently just to coat with the juices.

Remove the squash and grapes from the oven. Transfer to a large serving dish. Drizzle with the reserved sauce. Top with the mint leaves before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I sometimes find butternut squash already cut at the grocery store, but often they are cut in pieces that are a bit too small. For this recipe, I went the extra mile, risked the integrity of my fingers and cut the squash myself. I know, right? What won’t I do in the name of this blog? It is enough to bring tears to my own eyes.

If you’ve never used grapes in savory meals, please make that happen in your kitchen. I am sold. As to pomegranate molasses, I have used it coupled with rose harissa to roast squash, and it is fantastic, but this step of turning the molasses into a sauce that is drizzled at the end? It raises the ingredient to a whole new level. The sauce would be fantastic on a simple piece of grilled salmon. Yes, I am trying that soon.

Joanne, thank you for another winner of a recipe! Who needs cookbooks with a blog like yours to follow?

ONE YEAR AGO: A Really Big Announcement

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CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA

Nothing irritates a true vegetarian more than giving names like “steak” to a veggie dish to make it more appealing. My apologies, I have no intention of ruffling feathers, it’s just not as sexy to call it “Cauliflower Slices.” I’ve made a version of it in the past, but this one is so much better that it almost makes me want to go back and delete that post. This is cauliflower steak done to perfection, and I thank my friend Eha for introducing it to me. It will go in our regular rotation. For sure.

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA
(adapted from Cook Republic)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil

for the salsa:
60g pitted green olives
2 tablespoons baby capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
chopped fresh parsley to taste
20ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325FC. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the cauliflower on a chopping board, resting on the stalk. Holding the head gently, slice the cauliflower into 5-6 thick slices (each about 1 inch wide).
Place the cauliflower slices on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the top with remaining olive oil.

Roast for 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425F. Roast for a further 15-20 minutes at this higher temperature till the cauliflower is starting to char and brown nicely. Remove from the oven and set aside.


Place all ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl. Whisk very well. Spoon prepared salsa over the cauliflower steaks. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and chopped parsley.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: My only modification to the recipe was to reduce the amount of olive oil in the salsa and add lemon juice. For my taste, the olives add enough luscious fat, and the salsa tasted lighter and “brighter” with less oil and some extra acidity. Go with what rocks your own boat. Your kitchen, your rules.

What is wonderful about this recipe is the method to roast it. Lower temperature first, don’t mess with it, allow it to cook at a slow pace. Then increase the temperature and take it as far as you like. The salsa, cold and tangy, on top of that perfectly cooked slice of cauliflower? Perfection on a plate. I urge you to give this a try.

Eha, thanks so much for introducing me to this recipe in particular,
and to Cook Republic. I am following…

ONE YEAR AGO: Twice-Cooked Eggplant

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ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Panettone

 

 

 

FROM MY HUSBAND TO YOU: ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

Some veggies are so delicious that I tend to do as little as possible to prepare them, so they can shine on their own. But the other day the husband pulled an amazing dinner for us and the side dish blew my mind. Asparagus stir-fry that packed a ton of flavor and made us feel as if we were dining in a cool restaurant in Los Angeles. Just like we did during our sabbatical at UCLA years ago (it does feel like a previous life).  I insisted he should write a guest blog post about it, but he is quite busy wrapping up a review article, and food blogging is definitely not a distraction he needs. So, I did the altruistic, sensible thing, and composed the post myself. Because if you also have a soft spot for asparagus, you need this in your life…

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
(adapted from The Washington Post)

1 medium jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice,  divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
toasted sesame seeds

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeno and olive oil, saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, a couple of minutes more.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still firm, about 1 minute.

Add the lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve right away, perfect with grilled salmon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Looking at our served meal, you could conclude we love sesame seeds. And you would be 100% correct. They do go well with salmon and perfect with asparagus. This is a very simple and quick dish to put together, and would complement many main dishes, from beef to poultry.  Serve these asparagus over polenta and you can call it a great, satisfying vegan meal…

I have to say I am pretty lucky to have a partner who cooks dinner for us every other day. I love to cook, but it would get a bit tiring to do it every single evening.  We have different styles, I am always trying new recipes, whereas he tends to stick to his favorites. But every once in a while he finds a recipe and jumps on it. Like this one. It was a fabulous meal…

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PICKLED-ROASTED CHICKPEAS WITH CASHEW CREAM

I share with you today another slightly unusual side dish, or main dish if you add to it a nice helping of couscous. It starts with chickpeas simmered in white vinegar, then roasted with smoked paprika. After pairing them with juicy tomatoes, the whole thing was dressed with the number one choice for vegans when they crave sauces like bechamel: cashew cream.  It has the advantage of being very low in saturated fat, so those who are watching their intake of all things butter and cheese, can indulge without worries.

PICKLED-ROASTED CHICKPEAS WITH CASHEW CREAM
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups white vinegar
drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika or to taste
fresh tomatoes, cut into slices or small pieces
cilantro leaves (optional)

for the cashew cream:
1 cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours to overnight in a large volume of cold water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste
1 cup water

Heat oven to 420F.

Bring the vinegar with a pinch of salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Immediately add the chickpeas, boil for 30 seconds, close the pan and remove from heat. Leave the chickpeas in the hot vinegar for 20 minutes. Drain.

Place the drained chickpeas in a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive oil, season with salt and smoked paprika, rubbing them gently to coat well. Roast for about 25 minutes, until dark golden.  Remove them to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

Make the cashew cream. Place the drained cashews with lemon juice and salt into a Vitamix type blender, blend until almost smooth (it won’t turn completely smooth until you add water). Add the water slowly with the motor running. Add as much water as you like to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.

Assemble the dish: place tomatoes on a serving platter, season lightly with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Spoon the roasted, cold chickpeas on top, and drizzle with the cashew cream. Decorate with cilantro leaves if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you love pickled things, you will enjoy this take on chickpeas. If you are not too fond of the sharp taste of vinegar, simply skip that step and roast the chickpeas without simmering first. They will still be delicious, and complement the tomatoes well.

The cashew cream. This is a simpler version of one I made a few years ago.  I actually made a double batch and enjoyed it over smoked chicken fajitas, drizzled over roasted butternut squash, and replacing cheese on eggplant Parmigiana. The secret is to soak the cashews for several hours. You can speed up the process by using boiling water and letting them sit for 30 minutes or so, but I find that the taste is brighter and the texture better if you take the longer route. Next on my list is to use cashews as a base for “buttercream” in macaron filling. Perhaps with matcha flavor. Stay tuned.

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