Fresh Shakshouka

This version of shakshouka makes a great topper for crusty bread, uses a good blend of fresh + pantry ingredients – and makes a bonus second meal if you swirl some of your leftover sauce in with noodles.

It’s also DH approved, and he’s not a fan of skin-on tomatoes. He could live without the spinach, but we had greens and needed chlorophyll.

This would also be great with chickpeas for added protein and either scrambled or poached eggs/substitute cooked in the sauce. I wanted to keep my eggs separate to maximize leftovers. Scrambled soft tofu would be fantastic.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, halal

Fresh Shakshouka

1 small jar fire roasted peppers in oil

2 hands cherry tomatoes

1 large onion

4 Tbsp. zaatar

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 c. tinned tomatoes (I used crushed but use what you have)

2 tsp. sambal olek (this is my favorite)

1/2 c. parsley

Baby spinach

Eggs

Crusty bread

3 – 4 cloves garlic – 2-3 minced and 1 or 2 whole with the end sliced off

Thinly slice the onion and sauté on medium in 1 Tbsp. of the oil that comes from the jar of peppers until soft and lightly brown in spots.

Add the sambal and 2 – 3 cloves minced garlic. Sauté a minute or two more to meld together.

While that is working, remove the peppers from the oil and roughly chop.

Add the tomatoes and peppers and sauté until the tomatoes burst.

While the tomatoes are doing their thing, roughly chop the parsley, slice the bread into thick slices and drizzle with some of the pepper oil.

Broil the bread until your desired toast level has been reached. Remove from the oven and rub with the cut end of the reserved garlic clove. Set aside.

When the tomatoes have burst (with or without a little help), add the Zaatar, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and let sauté a minute or so to meld.

Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and half a cup of water. Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat, add the spinach + half the parsley on top, and simmer 7 – 8 minutes. As soon as that spinach wilts and can be thoroughly mixed in is the time to add eggs if you are cooking them like a traditional Shakshouka.

If you are not, fry your eggs separately in a little of the pepper oil to your desired doneness.

Serves 2 for a light dinner + makes enough sauce to be used for another night’s pasta

Quick Spinach Rice Lunch

I make this – or a variation on this – quite often for lunch later in the week, when I’ve got leftovers kicking around in the fridge, am out of my main protein, and still have some of this week’s spinach hanging around that is quickly going to age itself right out of my fridge.

For this version, I resisted the temptation to go Southeast Asian like usual (this dish 99.9% of the time turns out vaguely Japanese), and went Indian instead. I’m glad I broke out of my comfort zone a little and I think I’ll make this again on purpose for dinner some night.

gluten-free, lacto-ovo vegetarian

Quick Spinach Rice Lunch

1 cup leftover basmati rice

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons sesame or mustard oil

1/2 inch fresh ginger

1 clove garlic

1 big hand full spinach

Turmeric

Crispy chickpeas (these are my favorite)

1 green chili

To reheat your rice – any rice – without it drying out, add a Tablespoon or two of water, put the lid back on really loosely and zap in the microwave for :45 to 1:00. Boom. Steamed and refreshed rice.

Fry the eggs to your liking in the oil, seasoning with salt and pepper and adding a liberal sprinkle of turmeric when you flip. Add the spinach on top of that to wilt a couple seconds while the yolks finish setting to your desired doneness (I love a good runny yolk, so I separated my whites from yolks, scooted them to the side and added the spinach more to that side so I could see to yank the yolks when they were just barely set).

Grate the ginger and garlic into the rice.

Mince the chili (de-seeding if necessary) and add to the rice.

Add the eggs on top, along with a small hand of the crispy chickpeas.

Stir to combine.

Serves 1 for lunch

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

This is a surprisingly light tasting salad for having not only chewy pearl barley but roasted pumpkin. I think it’s the dressing and all the fresh spinach.

If you make extra dressing, and I suggest that you do – it pairs great with a more traditional salad, simple cold noodles, and even as a dip for chicken or shrimp. It’s delicious.

vegetarian, vegan

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

1 big wedge pumpkin or a butternut squash

Baby spinach

2 large scallions

1/2 cup basil

2 cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons lime juice

2 green chilis

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup stock

1.5 cups water

Olive oil

Neutral oil

Smoked paprika

Garlic powder

Cumin

Salt & pepper

Optional: crispy chickpeas (this is one of my favorite brands)

First, get your pumpkin and barley working.

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Peel the pumpkin and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with a few good glugs neutral oil and liberal sprinkles of the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Roast 25 mins or until soft and your desired brownness is reached. I could have let mine go another 5 – 10 mins, but I was impatient so mine turned out soft and only a little browned.

Put the barley in your cooking vessel of choice with the stock and water + a liberal sprinkle of salt. If your stock doesn’t have any fat in it, a Tablespoon of olive oil is good here. Cook according to package directions. I cooked mine in a rice cooker by hitting the ‘rice’ button.

While both those are working, slice the scallions thin. Add half to your blender or food processor.

Add the spinach, basil, garlic cloves, lime juice, chilis (rough chopped and de-seeded if necessary), 5 Tablespoons olive oil, and liberal sprinkles salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, adding a few Tablespoons of water if your mixture is too dry for your appliance. I ended up adding about 3 Tablespoons.

Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed.

To assemble, toss the pumpkin and second half of the scallions together. Add the spinach and toss. Add the barley to the top while still warm to semi-wilt the spinach. Toss, adding the dressing halfway through.

Taste the whole mix together, adding any salt or pepper if necessary. I added a big sprinkle of finishing salt to mine. I also finished each serving with a generous sprinkle of crunchy spiced chickpeas. This salad makes an excellent chickpea delivery service. Bonus: added protein!

Makes enough to serve as a side for a party or for 4 for dinner

Peanut Scallion Relish

This simple Indian relish makes a great snack, breakfast, or topper for a wide variety of dishes.

Try it tucked into a chapati or roll – with or without an egg, atop a bed of rice (I’m particularly fond of sushi rice), bulked out with sautéed green beans, spread over a protein like chimichurri sauce, mixed into a stir fry (preferably with something sweet like red pepper), or mixed into a salad (this would be great with cucumber and mint).

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, low carb, halal

Peanut Scallion Relish

1 bunch scallions

2 cloves garlic

1 – 2 green chilis of any variety

2.5 ounces roasted salted peanuts

1 Tbsp. ghee or other oil

Salt to taste

Slice your scallions into thin rounds.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium and add the onions. Sauté until beginning to brown.

While the scallions are working, mince the pepper(s), de-seeding if you want less spice.

Grate the garlic.

Crush the peanuts.

When the scallions are ready, add the chilis, garlic and peanuts and stir well to combine. Let sauté 1-2 mins to combine fully.

Taste for salt and serve.

Makes enough for 4 or so servings, maybe more if you use less as a topper for something

Chicken Teriyaki Onigiri

This recipe was inspired by a Tasty video for crispy onigiri that popped up on my Facebook feed, and turned out really well, though it’s not *technically* teriyaki sauce, since it doesn’t include mirin. Mirin isn’t available where I live, and this recipe makes a great halal alternative.

gluten-free

Chicken Teriyaki Onigiri

1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts

1.5 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1/4 c. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

2 cloves grated garlic

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. sushi vinegar (I used this as a replacement for mirin)

1 medium carrot, grated

1 bell pepper, thinly sliced and then chopped fairly small

Neutral oil, salt & pepper

Sushi rice

Nori sheets

Green onion (optional)

Sesame seeds (optional)

1 Tbsp. mayo

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

Mix the cornstarch with enough water to form a slurry. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, honey, sesame oil and sushi vinegar. Stir to combine.

Chop the chicken into small chunks and add half the marinade. Marinate for :30 – 1 hour.

While the chicken is marinating, cook your rice (I make mine simply with 1c. sushi rice + 1 Tbsp. sesame oil + 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar, a big pinch salt + 2c. water cooked on the rice setting of my electronic cooker).

When your rice is done, remove to a bowl to cool a bit.

Reduce the other half of the marinade until thickened over low heat and set aside.

Grate the carrot and chop the pepper thinly. Set aside.

Thinly slice the green pepper and set aside.

Mix the mayo and remaining 2 Tbsp. soy sauce in a small dish and set aside.

Add 1 Tbsp. neutral oil to a medium pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and sauté, moving frequently so the sugar in the sauce doesn’t burn, until cooked through. Sprinkle with a little salt and a generous amount of white pepper (or less – or black pepper – you do you).

Set the chicken aside. Add 1 Tbsp. neutral oil to the pan and put back over the heat.

Add the carrot and pepper and sauté until soft. Add 1 Tbsp. of the reserved and reduced marinade. Stir to combine and let cook another minute or two. Set aside.

You’re ready to assemble your onigiri, and this process goes pretty quick.

I made myself an assembly line – a little dish of water to coat my hands in so the rice doesn’t stick, rice, the dish of soy sauce mayo, chicken, veggies, sliced green onions, sesame seeds, and nigiri sheets that have been cut in half.

To assemble: dip your hands in the water, grab a small hand full of rice, and press into a flat (ideally triangular shape but I couldn’t make that happen) shape. Make a small dent in the middle of the rice. Spread some of the flavored mayo all the way to the edges of the rice. Add a couple chunks of chicken (I used 3), about a Tablespoon of veggies, and a couple slices green onions. Fold your fingers up, turning your hand and the rice into kind of a cup. With your other hand, push the chicken into that cup as you continue folding your fingers up, enclosing the chicken and veggies into a rice case. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and lay on one of the halved nori sheets. Roll up into a burrito looking roll, wetting one end of the nori to seal everything together.

I know this sounds really awkward, but you’re basically doing what you would do to stuff a burger with cheese, if that makes sense. I went gentle and slow and didn’t worry too much about overstuffing each ball. Needless to say, I had a bunch of leftover chicken; enough for dinner for two + lunch the next day.

Serves 2+

Roasted Veggie Pizza

This is a dead simple dinner that’s quick to prepare and easy to make in bulk for meal prepping.

It’s also healthy – according to my DH, *too* healthy, and can’t be classified as ‘pizza’. 😆 Call it a flatbread, then.

I was a big fan, and ended up eating the leftover hummus & veggies in a bunch of different ways throughout the week.

vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Veggie Pizza

Mixed veggies: I used a combo of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, carrots and onions

Hummus

Some sort of pizza base: I used bran pita, but naan would be great here, as would tortillas or pizza dough flats

Edamame, cooked and shelled

Black olives

Sun dried tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Zaatar

Oil, salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces, and arrange on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Drizzle some oil over and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread back out in a single layer.

Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until your desired brownness is reached. Remove and set aside.

The rest is simple. Prep your edamame if it came shelled like mine did. Set aside.

To assemble, spread hummus out in a thin-ish layer on your flatbread like you would marinara on a pizza. Arrange your roasted veggies on top, adding a sprinkle of edamame, olives and sun dried tomato to Zhuzh up your pizza a bit.

Sprinkle spices over top.

Bake on a cookie sheet 10 minutes or until crisp. Pull and slice.

Serves a few

Vegan Tofu Enchiladas

This is another recipe that started off as a suggestion from an article on nutritionist’s favorite grab-n-go items at Trader Joe’s.

As the last recipe, 100% sure this doesn’t taste like TJ’s, but it’s good. Surprisingly good. I completely forgot that tofu makes a super easy and tasty scramble – but it does. And doesn’t stink like wet dog.

A note on this one: I loved it; DH did not. He gave it the good old college try, but made the ick face. Possibly at the black olives. I personally, if I were making this just for myself, would have doubled the olive amount. But I love black olives.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Vegan Tofu Enchiladas

1 block firm tofu, crumbled

1 small white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 bell pepper – any color – diced

2 tsp. neutral oil

1/4 c. black olives, diced

1 c. frozen corn kernels

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. smoky chipotle seasoning

Salt & pepper

6 small corn tortillas

1 jar of your favorite enchilada sauce

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.

Sauté the garlic, onion and pepper in the neutral oil over medium heat until softened.

Add the crumbled tofu, black olives, frozen corn and spices. Sauté until the mixture looks cooked and is well combined.

Carefully wrap filling in corn tortillas, flipping seam side down so they hopefully don’t burst apart – my dish held 6 comfortably, and I had a little leftover innards, which I sprinkled down the side. I *also* had at least 2 that completely came apart, but that’s neither here nor there.

Coat your hopefully not-disaster in a nice concealing layer of enchilada sauce. I dumped the jar out and then kinda smoothed the sauce out as much as possible.

Bake 20 minutes or until your desired brownness is achieved.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch

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 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