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

Sheet Pan Miso Bowl

This is a simple and quick sheet pan dinner with a nice, light taste for nights when you *want* some super unhealthy Japanese takeout, but don’t want a bunch of grease – or to wait for delivery.

gluten-free

Sheet Pan Miso Bowl

1.5 Tbsp. miso

1.5 Tbsp. brown sugar

1.5 Tbsp. date molasses (or a smaller amount of honey or other sugar)

3 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

3 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 bell pepper

2 – 3 carrots

2 – 3 chicken breasts or other protein

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

Combine all the wet ingredients together, mashing the miso with the back of a spoon to break it up better. Set aside.

Chop the chicken, carrots and pepper into bite-sized pieces, placing all onto the prepared baking sheet.

Pour 2/3 of the sauce over top and toss well to combine.

Spread the chicken & veggies out in a single layer over the baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Take the last third of the sauce, zap it in the microwave about 20 seconds to ensure the sugar is melted. Add a Tablespoon of water to thin the sauce a bit. Stir well to combine and toss with the cooked chicken & veggies before serving.

Serve with rice, cauli rice, noodles, or alone.

Serves 4

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

Hot Mustard Chicken with Carrot Fries

What to do with some rapidly wrinkling carrots and an abundance of hot sauce? Spicy chicken with carrot fries. Yum.

Hot Mustard Chicken with Carrot Fries

2 medium carrots

2 – 3 chicken breasts

2 Tbsp. yellow mustard

2 Tbsp. your favorite hot sauce (I used a garlic variety)

1 Tbsp. Maggi chicken seasoning (I used Magic Sarap, but this isn’t strictly paleo – regular chicken seasoning would work just as well)

2 tsp. garlic powder

Juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

1 – 2 Tbsp. fat of choice

2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. chipotle seasoning

Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F.

Halve and slice your carrots into roughly fry-shaped pieces. Toss with the oil, cornstarch/arrowroot powder, chipotle seasoning and salt & pepper.

Spread out in a single layer on a prepared baking sheet.

Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until your desired crispness is reached.

While the fries are working, chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with the mustard, hot sauce, maggi, garlic powder, lime juice, salt & pepper.

When the fries are ready to flip, scoot them all to 1 side of the baking sheet. Add the chicken to the other side in a single layer and bake.

The fries serve 2, the chicken 3

Dairy Free Tortilla Wrap

It seems like the entire Internet has lost its collective mind recently over these wrapped tortillas. I must admit … I was intrigued. I’d never thought to wrap a tortilla like I would a crepe and it sounded like the kind of magical lunch I needed in my life that week.

And then I started looking at recipes. Crunchwrap came to mind first, but the glue was cheese. Whelp, that’s out. I can’t do cheese cheese, and even store bought vegan melting cheese + my GI system are currently on the outs.

A YouTuber I follow (who actually introduced me to this fad; I’m not one of the cool kids on Tik Tok) made a sushi roll version that looked delightful and had rice as the “glue” (I tried recreating it for y’all and have thus far failed in my efforts). Which got me thinking … I’ve got leftover potatoes, and I want Indian. What can I do with that information?

Turns out, I can do a lot. I’m going to give you guys a full meal recipe here, with instructions on how to turn it into one of those cool kids wraps. Which is awesome, but you’ll have leftovers. Just slap the rest in a bowl and call it an Indian harvest spectacular.

Note: This recipe uses mustard oil, which may be difficult to source. I’ve included an Amazon (affiliate) link to help. I also included a link for the chicken seasoning I’ve been using recently and loving, as well as for the condiments.

Gluten-free if you use a gf wrap, vegetarian and vegan if you sub the chicken

Dairy Free Tortilla Wrap

This recipe is written a little weird. I’m laying it out in quadrants in the order you’ll wrap them. More on that later. I cooked mine in kind of reverse order, starting with the potatoes, moving through the protein, and ending with the veg. You may wish to do the same.

Protein Quadrant

Protein of choice (I used chicken cut into bite-sized pieces)

1 Tbsp. mustard oil (like this one)

2 tsp. mustard seeds

1 Tbsp. curry powder

Salt & pepper

Cut your chicken into bite-sized pieces (or a little smaller – ground chicken could also work)

In a medium pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and curry powder and cook until fragrant and the seeds begin to pop.

Add the protein and cook through, hitting with salt and pepper a time or two during cooking.

Set aside.

Condiment Quadrant

I used combination of two here: Bombay Sandwich Chutney and sweet spreadable mustard pickle. Indian pickle would be lovely here, but it’s definitely an aggressive taste.

Healthy Veg Quadrant

1 package broccolini, chopped

2 tsp. mustard oil (like this one)

2 tsp. curry powder

2 tsp. chicken seasoning (your favorite – I use Maggi)

In a medium pan over medium heat, bring your mustard oil up to temperature. Chuck your curry powder in and cook, stirring, until fragrant.

Add the broccolini, chicken seasoning and a sprinkle of salt. Cook until crisp-tender, adding a shot of water if the pan looks too dry.

Set aside.

Potato Quadrant

1 lb. baby potatoes

1 Tbsp. mustard oil (like this one)

2 tsp. mustard seed

2 tsp. turmeric

1 small onion, chopped fine

3 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 Tbsp. butter, butter substitute or ghee

Salt

Set your potatoes to boil in a large pot with a generous amount of salt. Boil until cooked through and soft.

Drain and set aside.

While the potatoes are working, chop the onion and garlic fine.

In a medium pan over medium heat, bring the oil up to temperature. Chuck the mustard seeds and turmeric into the oil and heat until fragrant and the mustard seeds start to pop.

Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, until softened and a little brown.

When the potatoes are done and drained, add back to the big pot and mash roughly with a potato masher or beaters. Chunky is fine – I wanted my potatoes to have a bit of heft to them like my favorite Indian restaurant potatoes. Add the onion mixture, the butter, and a healthy pinch of salt. Combine well, taste, and add more salt or fat if needed.

Set aside.

Cut the bottom half down the middle. To assemble, wrap the lower left up, then both of those to the right, then the three to the lower right quadrant.

Assembly

Wrap a large chapati (Mission makes a decent one), roti, tortilla or other flexible and foldable bread in a paper towel. Sprinkle with water and nuke for 15 seconds so it’s bendable.

If you think of your chapati as a wheel with 4 quadrants, you want to cut up the center bottom until you hit the horizontal equator.

Wow, that was some mixed metaphor ish; hopefully followable.

In your lower left quadrant, arrange a little protein. Not overfull – think burritos, here. You don’t want to over fill those, either.

In the upper left quadrant, spread a little condiment.

In the upper right quadrant, add a little veg.

In the lower right quadrant, spread some potato. This quadrant will act as our glue.

To fold, carefully fold the lower left quadrant up (I kind of held the chicken in place as I carefully flipped the chapati up), fold the left side to the right (this went easier), and the top down so the 3 folded sections rest on the potato section.

You should have what looks like a folded crepe sandwich.

Pan fry until golden on both sides, kind of smooshing a bit as you do so it sticks together.

Cut in half and enjoy!

Makes a bunch

Belter Style Black Sauce Mushroom Noodles

*Internal excitement intensifies* Season 5 of the Expanse is out, and with it, a renewed excitement about the food explored in the series. I’ve been so excited, in fact, that my poor brain has been working over time yet again this season and has been choosing to switch on at 3am to ponder the problem of nutrition in space. Because I’m a nerd and totally fine with that.

Omfg, here she goes with the bold subheadings. Yep. Strap in, folks, I have time on my hands and am willing to go full nerd while espousing my lack of knowledge on the Internets.

About The Expanse

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, the Leviathan Wakes books by James S.A. Corey and accompanying television show – The Expanse – is a massive (9 book and thus far 5 season) Sci-Fi series dealing with politics, inequality, humanity’s spread throughout the solar system, war, profit, cabals, and external forces. In broad, non-spoilery terms at least. There’s So. Much. More.

The world building is phenomenal, and the attention to scientific detail (I mean c’mon … the show had me at the opening dealing with gravity) gives just enough meat for the non-scientific at least to run with. It’s like two of my other Sci-Fi loves – Battlestar Galactica and The Martian had a huge baby.

This explanation isn’t doing either series any justice at all. Suffice it to say that it’s great and I would be shocked to hear that it isn’t being used as a teaching tool in at least some discipline of college course.

Food is a big part of the books (at least it’s mentioned frequently and is used to convey information about the characters, location and politics), and I’m super fascinated in what the food of this world tastes like.

What the food is made of, what the flavor profiles are … who are these people, and what do they like? They aren’t (all) subsisting on military-style MREs, but they’re in space … so lobster is probably right out. Where did these people come from on Earth? They’re not all North American in ancestry – the UN runs things at least ostensibly; not necessarily the US (although it is an American series written in English, so there’s definitely a sense that at least geographically a lot of the Earth references are from there, if not political power as well).

Before I get too lost in the Food Nerd weeds, today’s recipe is one I’ve been mulling over since I first read the books. Quite a few mentions have been made of noodles with mushrooms or noodles with black sauce – or both. In my mind, given the fact that the Outer Belt is populated heavily by people of broad Asian descent, black sauce brings to mind Korean-Chinese Jajangmyeon (fermented black bean sauce), which is the absolute bomb but which I can’t source the ingredients for easily.

Reddit seems to agree with that assessment, and mention is made of hoisin sauce possibly being a substitute flavor profile.

I tend to lean toward a vegan analog for butter taste mixed with a bit of grease like takeout Chinese noodles have, mixed with delicate mushrooms, black vinegar and a bit of hoisin or oyster sauce mixed in. With garlic powder. Spices are a thing, and I refuse to believe that humanity has abandoned garlic.

Personally, I would add something green like bok choy or something with some nutrition, but food is political in this world, and fresh veggies would be hard to find, I imagine. This is poor people food – and the poor in this society don’t even have free and clear access to adequate oxygen, let alone stable food supply lines and proper nutrition. No veggies for me. (Mostly) shelf stable, it is.

Back to non directly recipe-related Nerdery.

Egg Noodles & Space Chickens

In the books, reference to egg noodles is made (specifically in Leviathan Wakes, Miller stops at a noodle cart for a cheap cone of egg noodles in black sauce). Egg is also referenced elsewhere in the books, though of course I can’t put my finger on the exact book or framework for that reference – I believe mention was made of a “real” breakfast sounding like it most likely featured meat and some sort of ship eggs – which may or may not have been vegan eggs.

Quite understandably, real meat from an animal is expensive in this world – and I would imagine not only expensive, but super rare for those in the Outer Belt far away from Earth. As far as I can figure, Earth would be the only place with enough land and resources to support any sort of large scale animal farming – or farming of any animals larger than rabbit (I don’t believe, however, that mention is made of rabbit).

Mention is made of vat grown meat, and farmed salmon for sushi – which makes sense mostly, though that’s a lot of water.

But chickens? Yeah, you can have chickens on a balcony in a city and still get eggs, but to have enough chickens to make enough eggs that egg noodles can then be sold cheaply to Belters – that’s a lot of feed, which requires a lot of water, and unless your chickens are running around the ship loose, a lot of dedicated chicken space. Which wouldn’t be wasted – chicken poop makes good fertilizer.

But still … I can see it being a viable protein source somewhere like Ganymede where large scale farming is being conducted, and I suppose big stations like Tycho must have some sort of food production capacity, but you’ve got to have a bunch of chickens to get a stable breeding population – and roosters – to be able to manage all that. Or, would it be more cost-effective to cycle your chickens into stew every 4 years or so when they stop laying to start fresh with a new crop?

How quick are ship times? Can you sell chicken poop for a profit?

I don’t know. If you have more information on this or see big holes in my logic, even if it’s years from now and we are on Season 9 (fingers crossed), let me know in the comments. I’m super interested in this stuff and know next to nothing about it.

For the purposes of this recipe, I’m not sold on egg noodles – despite them being mentioned in the book. I’m leaning toward rice noodles or shiritaki noodles being more plentiful (though shiritaki probably don’t have enough calories to be a viable nutrition source).

Is wheat a thing in this world? I don’t remember seeing any reference to fresh bread – and I can imagine, at least for our Earther protagonist from Montana, that would be a big comfort smell. Like coffee, which is definitely still a thing in this world, even in the Outer Belt (though coffee can be made from a plethora of things – and is definitely used as a plot device to show wealth and power).

Still. I don’t think bread has been mentioned, so what are these egg noodles made out of? Eggs & rice? Keto-style egg ribbons? JUST eggs?

Water in Space

Water. Water is expensive and has been a limiting factor to how large societies can grow since humans decided to clump together. It stands to reason that this continues on into the great beyond, and access to water is one of the tools of subjugation used to keep the Outer Belt under control by the Inner Planets.

This world also mines water off of space rocks and shuttles it around – so I’m thinking this restriction is more political than practical. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe rice takes more water to grow than soybeans. According to a January 2013 report published by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, it takes 2,497 liters of water to produce 1kg of rice, but only 1,849 liters of water to produce the same amount of dry pasta (I’m assuming regular wheat pasta) and 196 liters of water for 1 egg. So. If they have enough water for rice, which is also referenced in the book (specifically rice noodles with mushrooms in Babylon’s Ashes), maybe chickens *are* more widespread.

This article from FAO.org details water consumption due to environment and growing cycle, and has soybeans listed as needing 450-700mm of water during the growing period. Rice needs the same amount; wheat needs 450-650mm.

I would imagine that any space set up for farming can be kept at a consistent perfect growing environment – you can have a room set up like South Carolina or Vietnam to grow rice in, right next to the Ohio room growing wheat and soybeans. That makes sense. Still takes a lot of space to produce enough food to feed people, but that’s also a gripe The Belt has about The Inners – access to food.

I had assumed wheat takes too much space and dirt to grow at a functioning agrarian capacity – but maybe that chicken poop (and human poop) helps there? I would imagine compost would be necessary as well. (Although .. what else do you have to compost but poop? I can’t see single-use items being popular aside from recycled paper, and how much nutrition is supplied by vegetables vs some sort of vitamin? I can easily see food food being necessary as a caloric supplement rather than nutritional necessity – ooh. Snowpiercer did a good-but-terrifying job here).

Veganism in space

I still assume that most people living full time in the Outer Belt are at least mostly accidental vegans. Cheese is mentioned in the books, but as a rare delicacy and symbol of the “fat cats” on Earth. I think Earth is the only place with cows and dairy. I don’t think there are Martian cows in this world.

Salmon is mentioned for sushi, but not as something people we know are actually eating – as is vat meat (I still think this could be something like Beyond Burgers instead of actual muscle tissue; but who knows? It’s scientifically possible even now, and we have yet to crawl out of our gravity well in any long-term manner).

I stand by the accidental vegan. Maybe with eggs. Or are they vegan eggs and no one thinks to mention otherwise because chicken is space suits is a stupid question?

Also going out on a limb here and saying honey isn’t really available – I can’t imagine that if Earth has enough people it needs to send some out to colonize, we’ve gotten our ish together regarding bees. Which opens up a whole other deal regarding vegetables and extinction …. but that’s too far of a digression for today.

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Other Belter Foods If You’ve Read This Far And Are Still Curious

If you’re curious about other Belter food, I also recreated Red Kibble – which was also delicious – and have a whole long dive into cultural influences of flavor on that recipe.

Less successful was my foray into Indo-Chinese Singapore-style noodles, which I did not bother posting but really need to revisit. Also: adding Greek flavors into that mix would be fascinating.

And if I can figure out better TVP sourcing, I’d like to attempt White Kibble as well. I don’t think what I have in my head (Southern style white gravy) is what it would actually taste like.

—-End Nerdy rant and on to the actual recipe—

Today’s recipe is: gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan

Belter Style Black Sauce Mushroom Noodles

1 serving rice noodles (I chose to go with wide noodles, because I wanted something with a touch of bounce. I think texture would be a big thing in this world. I’ve seen other versions using Udon – and egg noodles are mentioned in the book)

1 package Enoki mushrooms (I wanted a delicate mushroom here – one I could see easily taking the place of noodle bulk when noodles are scarce. Something meatier like a portobello or Shiitaki minced would also do – if you use the whole package for 1 person, that’s probably a bit on the baller side for this dish – but it was delicious and I have no ragrets)

2 tsp. ghee or vegan butter (This is possibly a stretch for this world, but butter & mushrooms … ghee is probably not a thing, but vegan butter or some sort of butter analog very well may be – at least on the Stations – I have ghee, so I’m going with that rather than butter butter)

2 tsp. oil (most likely peanut or some other high smoke point neutral oil – I’m using safflower oil, since that is what I have on hand)

1 Tbsp. black vinegar (a fermented vinegar popular in Chinese cooking)

1 Tbsp. Hoisin [also popular in Chinese cooking and I can’t see why some version of this wouldn’t be available. If not, a little oyster sauce + a slack sprinkle of sweetener (but probably not cane sugar) would do well here – or, if you, like me, think you have those sauces but do not – a teaspoon of ketjap manis (sweet soy) + 2 tsp. Bulldog (Japanese Worcestershire) work really well]

Garlic (I wanted to use crispy fried garlic discs so badly in this dish, but while I think garlic is probably available, I think it’s more likely that a cheap & cheerful hawker stall would be using garlic powder – maybe in one of the bars or somewhere with internal seating would have real garlic. I’m going for street stall-ish here, you do you)

Optional toppers: Green onions (maybe not in the street stall version, but I need some bright freshness in my life), and topper condiments like more black vinegar, some soy sauce and chili oil. I’ve got to believe that future hawker stalls will have the customization options available in NYC Chinatown’s dollar dumpling shops

A hand full of chicken analog TVP (probably a little flash for a street stall, but if we are conceding that TVP chunks exist for Belter Kibble – which is also a food of the oppressed – strips also probably exist and are at least mostly readily available. The cost of the mushrooms may balance the cost of the TVP out for a hawker stall version of these noodles, though)

If you’re using TVP, prepare according to package directions. I did not, but only because I could not be bothered to boil them for 8 minutes. I would imagine these would be an easy keep-on-hand prepped item for a hawker stall.

Boil your noodles until almost cooked through and drain.

Assemble the rest of your ingredients, and fire your largest pan up to medium-high – this will go quick.

Add the oil and heat to shimmering. Toss in the mushrooms and TVP if you’re using, and let cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms get a bit of color.

Sprinkle liberally with garlic powder, add a Tablespoon of Hoisin (or your other sauces), and a Tablespoon of vinegar.

Add the noodles and butter analog and toss quickly to combine.

Continue stir-frying until well combined.

Serve topped with sliced green onions if using.

Serves 1 for a full meal, or 2 for a snack

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

Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

This recipe came out of missing the goodness that is Trader Joe’s grab-n-go food. DH stumbled upon a roundup of the top go-tos for nutritionists somewhere on the Internets, and thought a few of the dishes sounded great – too bad we don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby.

I was sure I could create something that tasted at least good from the description. Probably isn’t what their version tastes like, but good nonetheless. We also didn’t know at the time, but we have been sorely missing Cuban food. Semi-passable Mexican is hard enough to find here; Cuban is impossible.

This recipe also uses cocktails in place of the bitter or sour orange featured heavily in Cuban meat marinades – I think it worked out pretty well, but were I to make this again, I’d maybe slip a teaspoon or two in after cooking to add a little bitter punch to the dish. I don’t think it would taste *quite* the same, but it will at least give that element that’s present in my favorite Cuban dishes. If you have access to mojo sauce, that would also be fantastic sprinkled over top.

gluten-free, can easily be made paleo with substitutions

Cuban Style Citrus Garlic Bowl

For the chicken:

1 roasting or stewing chicken

4-6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 small white onion, chopped

1 bell pepper – any color, chopped

4 ounce can puréed tomatoes

2 teaspoons salt

Generous sprinkle black pepper

3-4 bay leaves

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Juice & zest of 1 orange

1 Tablespoon orange cocktail bitters + more if desired

1.5 cups nice broth

1.5 cups water

1.5 teaspoons your favorite stock starter powder (you want about 3 cups of liquid – I had some nice mixed meats bone broth and use chicken-free chicken bouillon starter powder to make my quick-n-dirty stocks)

For the bowl base:

1 cup long grain rice (or cauli rice if you’re paleo)

1 cup reserved stock from the (cooked) chicken

1 cup water

Generous pinch salt

1 Tablespoon ghee or butter

Bowl accents:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small white onion, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)

1 bell pepper of any color, diced (reserve 2 Tablespoons)

Neutral oil

Salt & pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon “chicken” bouillon starter

Your favorite black beans (optional. DH found some pre-cooked Cuban style beans in a pouch – they’re amazing if you can eat them. Fillos is the brand)

2 plantains

Toppers:

Reserved raw pepper & onion

Chopped cilantro

Your favorite hot sauce (ours came from the Hot Ones sampler pack we got for Christmas – Hot Ones, if you’ve never heard of it is not only a hilarious YouTube channel filled with celebrities eating ridiculously hot wings, but is also a fun way to play wing roulette at home )

First, dump all the chicken ingredients in your electric cooker or stew pot. I cooked mine for 1 hour on the “meat” setting of my electric cooker. Your mileage may vary.

When the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bone, remove from the cooker and set to cool.

Add the rice ingredients to your cooker (swiping a cup of that yummy chicken liquid you just emptied out of the pot). Set your rice to cook. I left mine in the pot on the warming setting for awhile (half an hour-ish) after it finished, and the bottom browned and crisped a bit – y-u-m.

While the rice is cooking, sauté your diced pepper and onion in 1 teaspoon neutral oil. Season with cumin, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Remove when softened and starting to brown. Wipe the pan.

To your wiped pan, add enough neutral oil to cover the bottom. Set over medium-high. Quickly slice the plantains into half inch thick rounds while the oil heats to shimmering.

Add the plantains one at a time (carefully so you don’t splatter oil on yourself) so they are flat and not crowded in the pan (I did mine in two batches). Once they are all nestled in the pan, flip, starting with the first. Let brown and remove to a few paper towels folded in on themselves a few times. Sprinkle immediately with coarse salt.

Repeat with your second batch, remove and salt.

Heat your black beans if using.

To serve, use the rice (or rice analog) as a base, add the chicken and accents and sprinkle with the toppers. Add some hot sauce if desired.

Serves 4 (the rice and accents) and more (the chicken)

Mexican Flag Vegan Tacos

Why Mexican Flag? Something about the green, white and red just makes me happy with this recipe. I had also forgotten how much I actually enjoy frozen corn kernels, so this was a great opportunity to indulge in a bunch of that.

I also served this mixture as a topper for some pearl barley a few nights later, and it was also awesome. This would make a great topper for pastas or roasted potatoes for a crowd if you want to stretch the ingredients.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Mexican Flag Vegan Tacos

8 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used crimini)

1 small white onion

1-3 red peppers (I used about 1/4 of a cup of long semi-hot peppers), diced

1-3 green peppers, diced (I used about 1/4 of a cup of a mix of hot and semi-hot peppers)

1 c. frozen corn

1/4 c. cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. oregano

2 Tbsp. smokey chipotle seasoning (or your fav. taco mix)

2 tsp. cumin

2 cloves garlic, minced

Neutral oil

Juice of 1 lime

Taco fixins:

Raw breakfast radishes, chopped fine

Cherry tomatoes, at least halved

Choula

Your favorite tortillas

In your largest pan, heat 2 Tbsp. oil over medium high until shimmering. Add the corn and mushrooms and sauté until the corn defrosts and mushrooms start to look like they may cook.

Add all but 2 Tbsp. of the onion and the garlic and sauté until the mushrooms give off a bunch of liquid.

Add all but 1 Tbsp. of each color of the peppers plus the spices and sauté until the peppers are softened.

Taste for seasoning, adding more if necessary.

Kill the heat and mix in the cilantro, lime juice, reserved raw onion and reserved raw peppers.

Serve as tacos as pictured or as a topper for something else. The toppings make enough to serve 4 as a taco, and can stretch further if needed