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

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

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.

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