Peanutty Fancy-Ish Ramen

It seems our Lockdown staple of ramen noodles isn’t going anywhere any time soon. DH and I are both still craving comfort, and I’m still on the war path when it comes to wasting ingredients and clearing the pantry – so we are having some mish-mashed meals as of late.

Which is all fine, provided I can continue to find ways to add at least a little nutritional value to dinner. Some sort of vegetable.

This dish elevates some pantry staples admirably, adding two sources of protein (if you add meat), and a veggie that can also serve as a freezer cleaner.

A note on ramen: I used pot noodles (aka cup o’ noodles) for this recipe. We are loving the Korean brand Budok lately – the base flavoring I went with was chicken cheese, but this would be great with pretty much any base flavor. Mushroom, chicken, chili chicken, shrimp, curry – all would be delicious.

vegetarian and vegan if you don’t add meat, gluten-free with substitutions

Peanutty Fancy-Ish Ramen

1 pot instant ramen per person (any flavor will do, or sub rice noodles for gluten free – a little chicken or veggie bouillon would add some nice flavor if you are not using the flavor packet that comes with the noodles)

2 Tbsp. peanut butter (I used a low sugar variety)

1/4 c. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. sambal olek (chili garlic sauce)

2 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. honey (sub agave for vegan)

2 small scallions, sliced thinly

Frozen spinach

Optional: leftover ground chicken or beef, soft boiled egg, fish cakes, leftover fried tofu, or other additional protein source

Sesame seeds for garnish

Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, sambal, sesame oil and honey in a small pot over low heat. Simmer, stirring, until well combined and beginning to thicken. If your heat is too high and this mixture dries out too much like mine did, add a Tablespoon or two of water, stir quickly to combine, and move off the heat for a second or so to cool down a bit.

While the sauce is working, add frozen spinach to the noodle pots and fill with boiling water. Let sit 3 minutes and drain.

Add the noodles to the pot with the sauce, along with scallions, any additional protein sources, and the seasoning packet. Stir well to combine and garnish with sesame seeds.

Serves 2

Pumpkin Hummus With Orzo

Ok, so I’m on a bit of a pumpkin kick. And a grain/harvest/Buddha/nourish/whatever zeitgeisty thing you want to call it bowl kick. Again.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know I love a good bowl. I think I first got started down that track right about when this blog started, and I’ve never really looked back. Bowls FTW. Plates be damned.

This version can either go the Instagram route with an artful swirl of hummus to the side, or is also great all mushed together like a creamy pasta sauce. Either way you slice it: yum. I also love this hummus as a dip and swirled into my breakfast oatmeal.

Note: The addition of date molasses in this recipe was a point of contention in this household. I liked the sweetness and thought it brought good balance, but DH was not a fan.

gluten-free if you swap the orzo, vegetarian, vegan

Pumpkin Hummus Grain Bowl

1 cup orzo, rice, quinoa, barley – whatever grain you fancy – cooked in veggie stock

300g baby spinach

1 – 2 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 tsp. date molasses (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup smoked almonds, chopped

First, drizzle your pumpkin with 1 Tbsp. neutral oil, sprinkle liberally with cumin, salt and pepper and bake at 200C/375F for 20 – 30 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.

prepare your grain, mixing the spinach in during the last 30 seconds or so. Drain and add to a large bowl.

Add the baked pumpkin to a food processor, along with the date molasses (if using), lemon juice, turmeric, olive oil, and garlic. Whiz to form a hummus. Taste for salt and add as needed.

To serve, either create a bowl topped with the chopped almonds and parsley or combine together

Serves 2 – 4 for dinner with some hummus leftover if you create individual bowls

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

I think I found my Thanksgiving pumpkin-centric side for this year. I made this first round with sushi rice because that was what I had on hand, and it was great. Soft, almost creamy, and filling.

For Thanksgiving, I think I’ll swap the soft rice for something with more chew – either a wild rice mix or maybe pearl barley – and bump the orange and dill up a bit for more of a punch that will stand up to DH’s bourbon honey ham.

EDIT: I did end up making this for Thanksgiving, and it was fantastic. I used a mixture of wild and basmati rices for the grains and went for a curry spiced pumpkin instead of the molasses – both versions were great. I also beefed up the dill a little, which was also welcome.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

Take:

2-3 cups chopped pumpkin or other orange squash

And toss with:

1 Tbsp. date molasses

2 Tbsp. neutral oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Salt & pepper

Bake at 220C/400F for 30 – 40 minutes or until deeply browned. Add to a large bowl.

While the pumpkin is working, make some ginger rice by combining the following and cooking however you cook your grains.

1 cup rice or grains

2 cups water

2 coins sliced ginger

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

When the rice is done, toss out the ginger and combine the warm rice & squash with:

1/2 inch ginger, minced

3 Tbsp. good olive oil

2 scallions, minced

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 Tbsp. dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard (Maille is my favorite)

4 clementines, supremed, with the juice squeezed out of the leftover bits

2 tsp. turmeric

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Serves 4-6

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

This dish takes the goodness that is buffalo chicken dip and brings it to the dinner table. It’s creamy, satisfying, and just a bit spicy. Yum.

gluten-free

Buffalo Chicken Pasta

4 servings your favorite pasta (I used rice fusilli)

Shredded chicken (I used rotisserie, about half a chicken)

3 ounces buffalo sauce (Franks Red Hot is the best IMHO; I used half garlic flavored and half regular)

5.5 ounces cream cheese (vegan or otherwise)

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if you’re using celery salt, make sure to taste before adding more salt)

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

Cook your pasta according to directions. Drain and add to a large bowl with the rest of the ingredients. Stir to combine.

Serves 4 for dinner

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

This dish is great warm, room temperature or slightly chilled – making it perfect for your next get-together.

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

1.5 cups chopped pumpkin (or any variety orangey squash)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, ribboned

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cups wild rice mix (quinoa would also be good – you want something with a bit of body to it)

Crispy fried chickpeas (mine were pre-seasoned and halved)

2 scallions, chopped

1 Tbsp. turmeric olive oil (substitute with adding a little turmeric to your favorite oil )

2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. curry powder

Dressing

1/4 cup turmeric olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. dijon or whole grain mustard

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

Lay your chopped pumpkin out on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the Tablespoon of oil over top and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 Tablespoon curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 200C/375F for 30 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown. Remove.

While the pumpkin is working, cook your rice or other grains however you cook rice. Set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk.

To assemble, combine all but the crispy chickpeas in a large bowl, adding the chickpeas as you serve so they don’t get soggy.

Serves 4 for dinner and more as a light lunch

Sweet Potato Chicken Meatballs

This is a healthy little snack or light main that’s high in nutrients and can really help to stretch a pound of ground meat further. A win-win in my book.

gluten-free, paleo, Whole30

Sweet Potato Chicken Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

1.5 cups grated sweet potato

2 Tbsp. flour (as a binder – potato starch or tapioca flour would work well)

2 scallions, minced

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 Tbsp. onion powder

2 tsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

2 Tbsp. light oil – I used turmeric olive oil; coconut or nut oil would be fine

2 Tbsp. cornstarch (arrowroot powder is fine)

2 tsp. ground cumin

Combine all ingredients and mix until incorporated. Parcel out into golf ball sized meatballs and bake at 200C/375F 10 minutes; flip, bake an additional 10 minutes.

Serves 4 as a main and more as a snack

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto

This is a fantastic way to hide some eggplant and use up a big hunk of pesto. I’ve served this on toast, with eggs, as the base of a sandwich, and would absolutely love the pesto swirled into some mashed potatoes. The hummus, too, tbh. Ooh. Would also be nice thinned with a bit of oil or water and tossed with pasta. I need to make a second batch.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto

Hummus

1 smallish eggplant, roasted

1 can chickpeas, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. tahini

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. red pepper

Salt

To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Dill Pesto

1 huge hand dill (about 1/3 of a cup packed)

About 1/3 of a cup smoked almonds, chopped

1 big clove garlic

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. water

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt

To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Makes about a cup of hummus and half – 3/4 a cup of pesto

Enchilada Chicken & Rice Bake

This is a nice little dairy-free use of enchilada sauce. Would work well in a burrito.

A couple notes: I was wanting a little more fat with mine – the addition of a little butter before baking would work, and if you eat cheese – that would work as well.

Also watch your chicken. Mine turned out a touch rubbery – I may go for pre-sliced chicken strips next time.

Enchilada Chicken & Rice Bake

Gluten-free

1 small onion

1 Tbsp. neutral oil

1 cup long grain brown rice

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 bell peppers

1 jar enchilada sauce (375g)

3-4 chicken thighs

Optional: Avocado, cilantro, scallions, cheese

Slice the onion thinly and add to a large pan with 1 Tbsp. neutral oil over medium/medium-high heat. Sautée until beginning to soften.

Add the rice and toss until coated. Sautee until the rice smells nutty and is beginning to pop and brown a bit. Add to the bowl of a rice cooker or pot with 2 cups water, some salt and the spices. Cook how you cook brown rice.

While the rice is cooking, preheat the oven to 200C/375F and very lightly grease a casserole dish.

When the rice is done, add to the casserole. Thinly slice the peppers and arrange on top of the rice. Nestle the chicken on top. Top with enchilada sauce. Add a jar of water.

Cover tightly with tinfoil and bake 30 – 35 mins or until the chicken is cooked through.

Top with the optional add-ons and serve.

Serves 4

Roasted Potatoes with Avocado Dill Sauce

This recipe as written, I realize, may not be accessible to anyone who does not share my love of grabbing interesting looking ingredients from the Asian aisle and chucking them in whatever looks good.

If you’re still curious to see what this tastes like and don’t share that predilection, an approximation can most likely be made by combining lemon juice, a hint of pomegranate molasses and a hint of rotel green chilis.

I served this plain for dinner (DH added rotisserie chicken to his), and with chili tuna for lunch the next day. Both plain and with some added tuna were good; if you want a little more nutrition with your dinner, broccoli would be great here. Maybe a bit of sesame seed for a little more fat.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Potatoes with Avocado Dill Sauce

Sauce:

1 stalk celery

1 Tbsp. Japanese Yuzu jalapeño sauce

1 Tbsp. Kewpie Yuzu no-oil dressing

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2-3 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1-2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp. oil of choice

Neutrally seasoned roasted potatoes (I roasted mine in a combo of garlic oil, salt and pepper until browned in a 220C oven ~35 mins)

Chop celery and garlic and add to a blender along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Whiz. Taste for salt and acid, adding more if necessary. Add a little more water if it’s too thick for your liking. Mine was fine, but your mileage may vary.

Sauce serves 4 – 5; potatoes can adjust to accommodate that number or more

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

This recipe started off as a way to use up some fresh dill that wasn’t my favorite egg salad and somehow ended up morphing into a riff of an old Summer family favorite: seafood salad. Which I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with y’all for yet. I c-r-a-v-e it every tomato season.

The original (to my family at least) salad included Krab, shrimp, hard boiled eggs & lots of mayo. Sometimes, depending upon which Aunt got a wild hair, chopped up bits of lettuce. Which is weird, but good.

Anyways. I gave myself an aversion to fake crab my first Summer out of high school (reminder, kids: check your expiration dates), so that was out. I swapped with flaked salmon but kept the shrimp in this version; I also sadly forgot the egg until I was eating trying to figure out what was missing. I was also wanting a little more mustard punch, so adjust yours as necessary.

And a note on seasoning: I happen to love this salad with way too much pepper and salt, because that’s how my family usually served it. This recipe includes a normal amount of each (depending on how HAM you go with the cracked pepper); I had to go back twice for more after the salad hit the fridge.

gluten-free, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan with substitutions

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

Dressing:

1 avocado (mine was small and I could have gone for more)

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salad:

4 – 6 cups pasta of choice (I used rice spirals)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 smallish cucumber (about 2/3 cup chopped)

1 smallish bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)

2 – 4 stalks celery (about 3/4 cup chopped)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if using celery salt instead, you may not need to salt the salad – taste, taste, taste)

Loads of fresh cracked black pepper

Salt

Shrimp (I used 13 medium), peeled, cooked & chopped (optional)

Krab, crab or salmon (also optional)

2 – 3 Tbsp. your favorite mayo (optional)

Start you pasta boiling according to package directions, taking care to salt the water. When almost done, chuck your shrimp in to cook. Drain and set aside.

Pull the shrimp and chop. Add to a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, scallion and parsley. Add to the big bowl.

Mince the shallot and add. Halve the tomatoes and add those too. Add the celery seed.

In a blender or food processor, blitz all dressing ingredients until smooth. If you want your dressing a little runny, add more water until desired consistency is reached. Mine turned out a bit thick, which I liked, but I ended up adding 2 – 3 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo to the salad to loosen it a bit.

Add the cooled-ish pasta and dressing to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Hit with a bunch of pepper. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or some mayo to finish off.

Stash in the fridge for a bit to chill and let the flavors get acquainted.

Serves 4 – 6 for a meal or more if a side