Blackberry Butternut Salad with Miso Mustard Tahini

This is a fresh little counterpart to heavy holiday dinners.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Blackberry Butternut Salad with Miso Mustard Tahini

1 small butternut squash

1 small package blackberries

Baby spinach

Candied pecans (I used Thanksgiving leftovers – spiced maple flavor)

Vegan feta

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

3 Tbsp. neutral oil

2 tsp. granulated garlic

2 tsp. onion powder

Generous sprinkle red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. white miso

2 Tbsp. tahini

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

Peel the butternut and chop into inch-ish chunks. spread out on the baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, garlic, onion & red pepper.

Pour the sauce over the squash and toss to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Season with salt & pepper & bake 12 minutes, stir and bake an additional 12 minutes or until your desired brownness has been reached.

While the squash is baking, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon, miso & tahini. Thin with a little water to your desired consistency.

In a large bowl, add the spinach, the still warm from the oven squash and the dressing. Toss well to combine & wilt the spinach a bit.

Add the nuts, blackberries & vegan feta and toss again. Season with more salt & pepper.

Serves 4 for dinner

Pomegranate & Fig Salad

I made this as an accompaniment to some killer meatballs (recipe coming next week), but this dish as it is would be great as a holiday side or studded with any protein of choice for a rounded out meal.

Note: I completely forgot to do so when making this recipe, but chucking a couple big hands of baby spinach was a fantastic way to dress up the leftovers and add a nutrient punch.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Pomegranate & Fig Salad

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into inch-ish chunks

6 figs, sliced (I had dried on hand but fresh would be even better)

1/4 c. pecans, chopped

1/3 c. pomegranate arils

Tahini & pomegranate molasses to drizzle

Salt & pepper

Your favorite seasoning – I used a spicy creole mix

Oil

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

Chop the sweet potato into inch-ish chunks, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper & seasoning, spread out onto a baking sheet and bake until your desired level of doneness is achieved. I let mine go until the pieces were almost crispy.

Toss with the rest of the ingredients and drizzle with the sauces.

As noted in the head notes, a good couple hands of baby spinach and your protein of choice would round this out to a great meal.

Serves 2- 3

Middle Eastern Spiced Meatballs

This is a good one – baked meatballs are quick to make and last in the fridge for days – a great meal prep component or emergency snack to keep on hand.

gluten-free, paleo, low carb

Middle Eastern Spiced Meatballs

1 lb. ground chicken

3 Tbsp. zaatar

1/4 c. slivered pistachios

2 tsp. sumac or lemon powder

1 small onion, grated

4 cloves garlic, grated

2 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. baking soda dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water

Salt & pepper to taste

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

Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands to combine.

Form into meatballs and bake 15 minutes.

Makes enough for 4 servings

Bonus Recipe: A quick side salad to go with

2 cucumbers, cut into small moons

15 cherry tomatoes, halved

2 Tbsp. green onions, minced

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/4 c. parsley, chopped

Hand full of olives, sliced thin

Hand full of your favorite salty cheese (I used an aged provolone tasting vegan cheese)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. your favorite mustard (I used Dijon)

1 Tbsp. zaatar

Salt & pepper

Whisk together all ingredients from the olive oil down. Pour over the rest.

Salad serves 2-3

Miso Butter Bowl

Miso. Butter. Is. Amazing. I don’t know why the combo never occurred to me, but when I scrolled past the mere mention somewhere out there on the Internets, I was intrigued.

I’m glad I followed that particular tangent, because I would happily slather this stuff on pretty much anything (including toast).

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan if you swap for vegan butter

Pictured here with sweet potato fries, which is also a good call

Miso Butter Bowl

miso butter:

3 Tbsp. your favorite butter, softened

2 Tbsp. white miso

A big hand full of minced scallion whites

Mush the above into a compound butter.

bowl:

1 zucchini, chopped

1/2 c. frozen corn kernels

1/2 onion, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Your favorite seasoning (I used Tony’s Cajun)

toppers:

Roast chickpeas (to make: drain and rinse a can of chickpeas, spread out in a single layer on a prepared sheet and bake at 400F for 20-30 mins or until your desired level of crisp and brownness has been reached. Toss with a Tablespoon of oil and a liberal amount of your favorite seasoning – I used more of that Tony’s)

The greens from your scallions

Sesame seeds

This would also be great with a good cashew cheese, but I did not have any on hand

To assemble, sauté the zucchini, corn, onion and garlic in a teaspoon of oil until your desired level of brownness has been reached. Season with salt, pepper and your seasoning. Add the miso butter and let go another minute or two.

Add the veggies into a bowl, and top with your extras.

Serves 2-3

Miso Vinaigrette Salad

I’ve been having a mini love-affair with miso this week – stay tuned for more umami bomb recipes coming in the next few weeks – and this delicious little dinner salad does that love justice.

I can see using the leftovers of this dressing mixed with quinoa, or in a pumpkin-heavy dish. Also as a drizzle for chicken.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Miso Vinaigrette Salad

Dressing:

1 heaping Tbsp. white miso

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 Tbsp. neutral oil

2 Tbsp. sushi vinegar

2 Tbsp. lime juice

2 tsp. honey

Pinch cayenne

Salt & pepper

Salad:

1 large zucchini, chopped

1 large bok choy, washed and sliced thin

1 package baby spinach

2 tsp. sesame oil

Soy sauce

1 scallion, thinly sliced

Sesame seeds

Big hand pepitas (toasted cashews would also be great)

Protein of choice: I used simply sautéed tofu

Optional topper: crispy chickpeas

Chop the zucchini and bok choy (whites) and set to sautee over medium-high with the sesame oil.

Let cook until crisp-tender.

Add a generous sprinkle of soy sauce.

Add the spinach and bok choy greens and toss until the spinach is barely wilted. Set aside. Drain if wet.

To make the dressing, whisk or shake all ingredients together.

To assemble the salad, add the toppers and toss with a couple Tablespoons dressing.

Salad serves 1-2 with extra dressing

Multipurpose Grain Bowl

This week, I was really attracted to the Buddha bowl pics scattered throughout my Pinterest feed and didn’t want to make 9,000 ingredients – so I worked to combine a list (albeit a large list) of simple ingredients in a variety of ways to make the best of a simple mixture of quinoa + rice.

My week 100% could have been more cost-effective, but it gave me a good dose of the ingredients combining kind of Chopped Kitchen kind of life I’ve been missing.

Quinoa & Rice Base

3/4 c. quinoa (rinse if you’re not lazy like me)

3/4 c. sushi rice (rinse if you aren’t lazy like me)

2 Tbsp. mushroom-based umami powder

1 Tbsp. vinegar (I usually use rice vinegar but only had black vinegar on hand)

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

Big sprinkle salt

3c. water

Combine all and set your rice cooker to cook. Alternately, sushi rice & quinoa both take about 25 minutes to cook on the stove.

Now for the mix-ins to transform this simple added-protein base into a few different dishes.

Day 1: Sesame Crusted Salmon Bowl

Sesame crusted salmon (take 1 salmon steak, skin and de-bone. Pat dry. Brush with a little soy sauce and sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds. Press the sesame seeds into the fish to adhere. Shallow fry over medium-high in a pan until cooked to your desired doneness. Drain on paper towels until ready to use.)

Quinoa + sushi rice base (see recipe above)

Avocado, sliced or cubed

Lemon sesame pickled cucumbers , diced

Pickled ginger, minced

Nori

Roasted butternut squash (Mix 1 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, 1/2 tsp. date molasses & 1/2 tsp. white miso into a sauce – drizzle over a halved and seeded butternut squash and bake @ 400F for 25 mins or until soft and browned)

Sauce

1 Tbsp. peanut butter (tahini would also be great)

1 tsp. white miso

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. Bulldog sauce (or Worcestershire)

2 tsp. black vinegar (or sushi vinegar)

1 Tbsp. water

1 tsp. your favorite hot sauce (I used a habanero mix)

To make your bowl, assemble about half a cup of the quinoa mix and later the desired amount of the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle sauce over top and sprinkle with thinly sliced nori. Dust with more sesame if desired.

Day 2: Spicy Fiesta(ish) Bowl

1/2 c. frozen corn

1 bell pepper, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

Sauté the above in olive oil; season with salt, pepper & Tony’s Creole seasoning or your favorite spicy mix

Bowl Base

1/2 c. quinoa

1 hand full cilantro, chopped

1 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Add the water to the quinoa and zap to warm. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Sauce

2 Tbsp. your favorite plain yogurt (mine is a plain coconut milk)

2 tsp. – 1 Tbsp. your favorite hot sauce (mine is a habanero garlic mix)

Stir to combine.

Toppers

Avocado

Butternut squash leftover from the first bowl

To make your bowl, assemble about half a cup of the quinoa mix and later the desired amount of the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle sauce over top and top with avocado & squash.

Day 3: Spiced Chickpea Veggie Bowl

1.5 c. chopped kale

1/2 small red onion, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 lg. zucchini, diced

1 Tbsp. oil

Salt & pepper

Sauce

1/4 c. yogurt

1 Tbsp. almond butter

1 tsp. turmeric

1 tsp. sumac

2 tsp. lemon juice

Leftover Bowl Components

Butternut squash

Quinoa rice mix

Topper

Avocado

Roasted chickpeas (I usually buy mine and have an Indian spiced variety that’s amazing)

To make your bowl, assemble about half a cup of the quinoa mix and later the desired amount of the rest of the ingredients. Drizzle sauce over top and add avocado & chickpeas.

Random Bowl Combinations

Quinoa mix, salmon, avocado, butternut squash, pickled cucumber, pickled ginger, Kewpie Mayo, garlic hot sauce, soy sauce

Green Sauce Salad

This green sauce makes a fantastic all-around dressing to keep on hand as a meat seasoning, salad dressing, dip, and little add-in to something like a nice grain bowl for a flavor punch.

A note on spice: I used 1 Tbsp. Fiery Fool hot sauce. This stuff is hot, and it made my sauce nice and spicy. I lean toward spice so I would totally suggest going in that direction. If you do not, a de-seeded jalapeño would be fine.

gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian

Great Green Sauce Salad

Sauce

10 cloves garlic

4 scallions (reserve 2 + 2 of the dark green parts for the salad body)

1/4 c. cilantro

1 Tbsp. your favorite pretty dang hot hot sauce (see head note)

1 Tbsp. vinegar (I used black vinegar)

1 Tbsp. fish sauce

1 Tbsp. sweetener (I used brown sugar)

1/3 c. olive oil

Salad

10 radishes, sliced into thin moons

3 – 4 small cucumbers, sliced into thin moons

2 scallions (whole), sliced thin + 2 green parts of scallions, also sliced thin

1/2 c. snap peas, sliced thin on the bias

1 jalapeño

5 – 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Optional: Chicken that’s been marinated and sauteed in some sauce

Topper: Finishing salt & fresh cracked black pepper

To make the dressing, blitz all the sauce ingredients, incorporating the oil in a steady stream to make an emulsification. Set aside.

Assemble the salad by tossing all salad ingredients together. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup of the sauce to dress and top with some finishing salt & freshly cracked black pepper before serving.

Serves 2 for dinner beefed up with a protein (I had mine with leftover chicken, but steak bites, salmon or tofu chunks would also be great)

Tomato Salad Goes To Asia

I don’t know about you, but it’s boiling hot where I live – aaaaand I ate so much on my vacation to the States that pretty much all I want is a crisp, refreshing salad. With no lettuce, because it’s not my favorite way to do salad.

This recipe is a riff on a Vietnamese version I read in a magazine on the plane – if I remember correctly, that version had less in the way of heat and less in the way of vinegar. I had leftovers of this salad for days (yay, a salad that gets even better as it ages) and liked the days I remembered to add a little extra lime juice kick the most.

gluten-free (check your labels), paleo, pescatarian, low carb

Tomato Salad Goes To Asia

1/4 c. sugar (I used brown)

1/4 c. fish sauce

1/4 c. lime juice + more for serving

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

Big pinch red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

Generous bit freshly cracked pepper

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 fennel bulb, sliced into thin moons

3 small or 1 large cucumber, sliced into thin moons

1 long pepper (your fav variety – I used something red akin to a Cubanele)

2 c. mixed herbs (I used cilantro, mint & dill)

Toppers: Roasted, salted peanuts, French fried onions, green onion slices, finishing salt, extra squeeze lime juice, extra cracks black pepper

Combine all ingredients listed before the tomatoes in a jar and shake until we’ll combined and the sugar has dissolved.

Chuck the rest of the non-topper ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing.

Serve with your desired toppers and enjoy for a few meals.

Serves 4-6

Cucumber Salad with Zhoug Sauce

This is a great riff on a classic Middle Eastern sauce (kinda like the ME version of chimichurri) with a nice, light salad.

This sauce can also be used as a meat marinade, as a topper for crispy potatoes, as a sauce in a sandwich, mixed with zucchini, avocado & peas in pasta, and as a mix-in for rice. I’m sure there are 999999 other ways to use it, but I ran out before I could try more. Which I will. I suspect this would be bomb with a Kewpie mayo egg salad sandwich.

I think next time I make this sauce, I’ll use a mortar & pestle instead of a blender – my favorite version from a local restaurant has a thicker mince and even punchier garlic.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, low-carb

Cucumber Salad with Zhoug Sauce

Zhoug

6 cloves garlic

3 jalapeños (or a mix of jalapeños and other peppers – seed if you need to)

1 cup flat leaf parsley

1 cup cilantro

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

Pinch cayenne

1/2 tsp. ground cardamom

Pinch sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. lime juice

1/2 c. olive oil

Blend to combine in your food processor or blender until your desired consistency is reached.

Salad

2-3 small cucumbers or 1 large English cucumber, sliced thinly or diced

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1/4 c. fresh dill, chopped

1 small red onion, sliced wafer thin

Generous amount flake salt & black pepper

1/2 c. zhoug sauce

Combine and let sit 1/2 an hour or more to let the flavors meld.

Serves a few as a simple side with a protein. Would also make a fantastic bbq side in place of a Southern-style cucumber salad.

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