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

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

Roasted Pumpkin Miso Pasta

This lower-than-it-could be in carbs dish started life as the baby of a Japanese curry recipe and a ramen recipe and snowballed into a straight-up yummy pasta dish. I’m super bummed I only made enough to serve two; this was fantastic.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Pumpkin Miso Pasta

About a cup chopped pumpkin or butternut squash

2 tsp. white miso paste

Veggie or chicken stock

1/2 tsp. red chili flakes

Olive oil

1 Tbsp. + sesame oil

Curry powder

1 inch peeled fresh ginger, minced

2 scallions, minced

Sesame seeds

Soft egg (optional)

Togarishi (optional)

Kontjac noodles or sushi rice or ramen or udon or zoodles – all would be awesome, though I’ve only tried wide kontjac and rice

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F. Peel and chop the pumpkin into smallish pieces. Add to a prepared baking sheet, lash with oil, and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss. Bake about 40 minutes or until browned in spots and soft.

Let cool for a beat, and then add to a blender with the miso, red chili flakes, 2 tsp. oil, 1 Tbsp. curry powder, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, and 1/2 a cup of stock. Blitz, adding more stock if needed to get smooth. I used about a cup in this stage.

In a saucepan or tall-ish sided skillet, add the minced ginger and the white + light green parts of the scallions with 2 tsp. garlic oil. Sauté until the onion is beginning to soften.

Add the blitzed pumpkin and another half cup or so of stock. Let simmer down to the consistency of a thick soup.

Add your drained and rinsed kontjac or whatever curry vehicle you’re feeling, toss, and let simmer a few minutes to combine.

Serve with an optional soft egg, the green parts of the scallions, a little drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and some togarishi if you want another hit of spice.

Serves 2 but can easily be scaled up

Vegan Nut-Free Cheddar

This is a solid non-dairy cheddar-like cheese that doesn’t use nuts. Cashew cheese is great, but can be really expensive – and really calorie-dense. Not exactly a weeknight food.

This version tastes pretty cheesy, makes a decent Mac & cheese (better, strangely, with sauerkraut mixed in), and would make a good dip base.

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Vegan Nut-Free Cheddar

1 medium russet potato
1 medium carrot
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Roughly chop the potatoes and carrot and boil until soft, approximately 10 minutes. Drain and let cool a bit. Add to the bowl of a blender or food processor.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and add a little more lemon juice, spices or salt. I find if I’m missing some punch, extra mustard powder works well.

If you need an even thicker cheese sauce, heat in a pan slowly, stirring often, until desired thickness is reached.

Serves quite a few

Chicken Katsu Curry

Ooh, this is a good one. Not *quite* like the katsu from my regular takeout spot, but not far off. Add a dash of pumpkin purée and some white pepper, and it’s there. Delicious.

Chicken Katsu Curry

Chicken Katsu

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

40 grinds salt

Generous amount black pepper

1/4 cup flour

2 eggs

2 cups panko

Curry

1/4 cup neutral oil

1 yellow onion

1 medium carrot

1 inch ginger

4 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp. flour

2 Tbsp. curry powder

1 cup chicken broth

2 Tbsp. coconut aminos or soy sauce

1 Tbsp. honey

Katsu Sauce

1/4 cup ketchup

2 Tbsp. oyster sauce

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. honey

Preheat your oven to 375F/200C. Add a silicone liner or tinfoil to a baking tray and set aside.

Lay your chicken breasts in a single layer between 2 sheets of baking paper and pound to 1/2 inch thick.

Set up a breading station by placing shallow bowls or plates of flour seasoned with salt & pepper, beaten egg, and panko in a row. Coat the chicken with the flour mix, then dunk in the egg, and dredge in panko. Put on the prepared baking sheet and let stand 10 mins to rest.

Bake 10 mins, flip and bake an additional 10 mins.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the onion and carrot. Add the oil to a large pan and set over medium-high. When the oil comes up to temperature, add the onion and carrot and sautée, stirring frequently, until softened.

While that is working, chop the ginger and garlic. Add to the pan and sautée another few minutes.

Whisk in the flour and curry powder to combine.

Whisk in the chicken stock, soy sauce and honey.

Simmer, stirring frequently, 15 – 20 minutes or until reduced by about half.

Let cool and blend.

For the Katsu sauce, whisk together the ketchup, oyster sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and 1 Tbsp. honey.

Serve with a bowl of sushi rice. Makes enough for 4.

Indonesian Coconut Curry

Oooooh, this is a good one. Velvety, unctuous, vegan – and delicious.

If you’ve got it, some quickly fried tempeh would be fantastic – and location-appropriate- here. I used crisped tofu, which is also great.

Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Indonesian Coconut Curry

3 cloves garlic
2 small shallots
2 red chilis
1 Tbsp. turmeric powder
1.5 inches fresh ginger
4 macadamia nuts
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. black pepper
Few grinds salt
4 Tbsp. coconut oil
6 small white potatoes
1 can light coconut cream
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
1 pkg. extra form tofu
1 Tbsp. neutral oil
1 Tbsp. coconut aminos or soy sauce
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

First, preheat the oven to 200C (375F).

Prep the tofu by slicing into bite-sized squares, covering with paper towels or a tea cloth and pressing with something heavy. Let sit half an hour.

Delicately place in a large bowl. Add the oil, coconut aminos and cornstarch – lightly fold to combine without breaking.

Turn the tofu out onto a prepared baking sheet in a single layer, ideally with a little space between the pieces. Bake 10 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until crisped up and browned. Remove and set aside.

Make a curry paste by whizzing everything above the coconut oil in a food processor until a paste forms, adding a little water if necessary.

Chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.

In a large pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the curry paste and fry until very fragrant and just beginning to brown.

Add the potatoes, coconut cream and kaffir leaves and stir to combine. Sautée 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are softened and the sauce reduces down to a velvety smoothness.

In the last 5 minutes of cooking, fold in the crisped tofu.

Serves 4

Bulgogi Chicken Bowl

Another dinner from my week whose directive from the hubbs included chicken & rice. This was another fantastic one – though fair warning: it’s a bit spicy. Deliciously so.

gluten-free

Bulgogi Chicken Bowl

1 Fuji or Gala apple

1 pear

1 thumb ginger

1 green onion

1 white onion

5 cloves garlic

1/2 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos

1/2 cup gochujang

Sprinkle black pepper

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 – 1.5 lbs. boneless skinless chicken (I used thighs and breasts)

A second green onion

A sauce you enjoy (I used Bulldog bbq in place of the brand of slightly sweet teriyaki I was searching for)

Kewpie mayo

Toasted sesame seeds

1/2 – 1 cup cooked short grain white rice per person

Make the marinade by blending all ingredients above the chicken until mostly smooth.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add to the marinade. Let sit an hour to the next day.

Place into your favorite multi or slow cooker. Mine has a button for “meats”. I punched that and 20 minutes later, the chicken was done.

Serve over rice, garnished with the sauce, mayo, second green onion and sesame seeds.

Serves 4 – 5

Vegan Cheesy Gochujang Noodles

Some days I don’t know why I get into my head the taste combinations I do. This is not one of those days. For some reason, something a couple I love on YouTube had said in a video I watched who knows how long ago popped into my head and I just couldn’t shake the desire to find out what cheese + Gochujang tasted like.

(Side note: if you like food, are interested in either Asian cuisines or finding out what it’s like to live in either Korea or Japan as a North American expat, check out Simon and Martina’s channel and blog: Eat Your Kimchi. It’s well worth the binge watch. Find them, and the recipe whose vague memory inspired this one here. Now, back to your regularly scheduled blah-blah!)

Now, I can’t do animal cheese, and I’m not even trying to pretend that this version tastes like cheese cheese (I think if I added garlic powder and mustard powder it might – but I’m still reintroducing foods, and Gochujang was my challenge food today), but it has a hint of cheesiness and a nice richness from the coconut milk.

If you’re batch cooking this recipe, maybe add a bit more coconut milk to the mix – mine turned out a bit clumped-together for subsequent meals; it loosened up on heating and stirring, but it could have been a skosh freer in the storage container.

Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Vegan Cheesy Gochujang Noodles

3 Tbsp. gochujang
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/4 c. soy sauce or coconut aminos
1/4 c. nutritional yeast
1.5 in. grated ginger
1/4 c. coconut milk
Garlic oil
Bok choy, chopped
Rice noodles
Green onions
Sesame seeds
Ketjap manis

First, boil some water and set your rice noodles to soak – I do 1/2 – 1 cup per serving.

While the noodles are soaking, chop the bok choy and sautée in a large skillet over medium-high in a few squirts garlic oil. Season with a little sprinkle soy sauce/coconut aminos to season.

While those are both going, whiz together the ingredients from coconut milk up to make a sauce.

Slice the green onions and set aside for garnish. If you’re not vegan, prep your protein too (egg, little shrimps and rotisserie chicken all go great here). Grab your sesame seeds.

When the bok choy is cooked to your liking, drain the noodles and add to the pan. Stir with tongs to break them apart gently and fully incorporate the veggies. Add the sauce and stir again. Cook everything together a few minutes.

Top with the green onions, a generous sprinkle of sesame seeds, optional protein, and a swirl of ketjap manis.

The sauce makes enough to support 2.5 big servings

Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Sauce (paleo)

This sauce started out as a request from my brother, who asked me to recreate the pizza sauce from his favorite pizza joint in the town he and his wife just moved from. “It tastes kinda like the Chipotle sauce from Tabasco,” he said. And that’s about all I had to go on.

So I took to the kitchen and came up with a sauce that works well both as a BBQ sauce and a pizza sauce. And it’s good. Smoky, sticky, a little sweet, a little earthy, with a shot of tart – fantastic with chicken thighs and braised turnips/radishes and really good on a pizza. Hopefully this does the trick.

Paleo (check your labels and swap the brown sugar for maple syrup), and gluten-free (watch your labels)

For the record, I was going for "artfully messy plate" here, not "dropped schmutz all over the plate" :)
For the record, I was going for “artfully messy plate” here, not “dropped schmutz all over the plate” 🙂

Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Sauce

1/2 c. minced onion or shallot
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp. ghee
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 chipotle in adobo, chopped
2 Tbsp. coconut aminos (if you’re not paleo or gluten-free, you can use soy sauce)
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar (the cheapie stuff is fine)
2 Tbsp. ketchup (check your labels!)
1 Tbsp. molasses
2 tsp. brown sugar (swap for maple syrup if paleo)
Kosher salt

In a small saucepan, heat the ghee over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic, hit with a big pinch of salt, and sautee until translucent.

Add the tomato paste and chipotle and sautee 30 seconds to a minute, mixing vigorously the whole time to combine evenly.

Add the coconut aminos and balsamic vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 1-2 minutes. Add the ketchup and molasses and stir to combine. Taste. Add the brown sugar/maple syrup if needed.

Let cool. Blend to break up the onion pieces if desired.

Makes about half a cup of sauce – enough for chicken + a pizza if needed. 

Italian Sausage and Zucchini Ragout with A Fried Egg

This is another example of a recipe that came about due to leftovers in the fridge + it’s cold and I need comfort + I want some freakin tomatoes in my life. One of my Nerd Fitness buddies said the description looked like exactly what he was wanting, so I figured you guys might like it too.

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Italian Sausage and Zucchini Ragout with A Fried Egg

Tomato sauce – I actually used a sugar and crap-free jarred prepared variety of marinara (a standard sized glass jar full) and doctored it up with spices because I wanted to see if it could be done without tasting horrible. It wasn’t bad, but I would have much preferred the fresh marinara from this recipe – sans wine, or from this recipe as-is

1 – 1.5 lbs. hot Italian sausage (check your ingredients!)
10 ounces to a pound of crimini (or button) mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 eggs
Salt & pepper
Coconut oil or grassfed butter
Red pepper flakes

Set a large tall-sided pan over medium heat. Slip the sausages out of their skins into the pan and break up with a spoon into small bits. Brown. Drain most of the fat and add the onions and mushrooms. Sautee until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are beginning to break down.

Add the tomato sauce and stir. Taste for seasoning – add salt, pepper and red pepper as needed. Cover. Drop the heat to a simmer and let go 20 minutes to half an hour.

In a separate pan, heat 1 Tbsp. coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, hit with salt and pepper and sautee – stirring frequently – 5 minutes or until al-dente. Add to a bowl.

Heat a Tablespoon or so of coconut oil or butter over medium heat. Add the eggs and fry to your liking, seasoning with salt & pepper as you go.

To assemble: zucchini chunks on the bottom, top with a generous half cup or so of sauce, and top with the eggs.