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

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

A Nice Herbed Hash Base

Yes, another hash. Don’t @ me; I’ve got a deep and abiding love for hash.

This version takes a “safer” route than I usually take to cook the potatoes to unburnt perfection. I also upped the fat content because I was working with a cast iron skillet, and I have not yet gotten the full hang of using it without stickage.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, Whole30 (sub the oil for W30 or strict paleo)

A Nice Herbed Hash Base

1 lb. small potatoes (I used a mix of purple, white and red)

1/2 lb. green beans

Sun dried tomato oil (or roasted red pepper oil – or, regular oil with a bit of either mixed in would also be great)

Citrus salt (I made mine and used this recipe as a starting point. Unfortunately, I didn’t post the recipe here. Mine has cracked peppercorns, rosemary and oregano mixed in and I believe the citrus mix is lemon + orange)

2 -3 cloves garlic

4 Tbsp. mixed fresh rosemary and dill – more if you want it even herbier

Some nice finishing salt (I used Maldon flake salt)

Maybe a splash of red wine vinegar at the end to punch up the flavors and cut through the richness (I added a dash upon reheating leftovers and it was fantastic)

Chop your potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Parboil in a large pot of salted water about 5 minutes or until tender but not falling apart. Drain.

While the potatoes are working, tip and chop the green beans into bite sized pieces.

Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a large pan over medium-high until shimmering.

Add the potatoes, sprinkle with your citrus seasoning, and sauté 2-3 minutes or until just beginning to get some color.

Add the green beans & some pepper and sauté an additional 3 – 5 minutes or until nicely browned.

While the hash is working, mince the garlic and chop the herbs.

Add the garlic & herbs to the pan and stir to combine. Let cook a few minutes to meld. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Finish with a sprinkle of good salt and/or a splash of vinegar.

I served with some vegan cashew curry sausages for dinner the first night and with a sausage, a little leftover seared red pepper + a fried egg the second. Both ways were yum.

Serves 2 for dinner & 1 for lunch if your portions are small (at least small to me; if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you know I love a healthy portion)

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

This recipe is 100% inspired by one of my good friends & a master of all things philosophical, @Heidi. (It’s a NF forum thing)

I love her no-fuss approach to food and how she seeks meaning in what she uses to fuel her body.

This recipe is an interpretation of the flavor combinations she mentioned in a daily update post (I haven’t mentioned my fitness community lately, but if you’re looking for a great group of people to help give you a nudge going into 2021, check Nerd Fitness out).

I think we all need a little more @Heidi in our lives. For more reasons than that – hellooooo, badass.

Vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

1 cup Pearl barley (buckwheat groats would be a good gluten-free sub)

1 cup good stock

1 cup water

Big pinch salt

Good olive oil

Neutral oil

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 butternut squash

Curry powder

Large shallot

500g baby spinach

Garlic oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Big hand full smoked almonds

Cook your barley with the stock, water and a generous pinch salt in a rice cooker or according to package directions.

Preheat your oven to 375F/200C. Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper.

While the barley is working, peel your butternut, seed, and chop into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with neutral oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss to combine. Bake 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

While those are going, set a medium pan over medium/medium-high heat. Spritz a couple of times with garlic oil. Rough chop a large shallot and add to the pan. Sautee until beginning to brown. Add some salt & pepper + the nutmeg and the spinach. Toss and cook until beginning to wilt.

When the barley is done, add the red wine vinegar, a finely chopped sprig of Rosemary (about 1Tbsp.), 1 tsp. oregano, and a couple glugs good olive oil. Stir to combine and gently fold in the squash & spinach.

Rough chop the almonds and use for garnish.

If you’ve got figs or pomegranate seeds (or both!) they would make fantastic additions. Finishing salt would also not go amiss.

Subsequent reheats are great with a fresh splash of vinegar and a touch extra fat to bring everything together. A shake of chili would also work well.

Serves 4 for dinner

Simple Korean-Style Bok Choy

This is a quick to put together and simple recipe with big payoff. So delicious, and just what my body needed mid holiday season.

I served mine with a bit of ground chicken; tofu would also be great here – the sauce would also make a fantastic tofu marinade for some oven-fried crispy tofu like this.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Simple Korean-Style Bok Choy

3 small bunches bok choy

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp. sugar

3 Tbsp. soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. gochujiang

1/4 – 1/3 c. pine nuts

Sesame seeds for garnish

Sushi rice for serving

Thinly slice the bok choy, separating the bottoms from the leafy tops. Chuck the bottoms in a medium/medium-high pan. Mince and then add the garlic.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, oil, red pepper flakes, and gochujiang.

When the veggie bottoms are beginning to soften, add the pine nuts and sauté, stirring frequently, until the pine nuts are beginning to brown. Chuck the veggie tops in and stir.

Add the sauce and cook until the veggies are done to your liking and the sauce has been well incorporated.

Serve over a bowl of sushi rice and top with sesame seeds for a quick and light meal.

Serves 2 – 3

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

I think I found my Thanksgiving pumpkin-centric side for this year. I made this first round with sushi rice because that was what I had on hand, and it was great. Soft, almost creamy, and filling.

For Thanksgiving, I think I’ll swap the soft rice for something with more chew – either a wild rice mix or maybe pearl barley – and bump the orange and dill up a bit for more of a punch that will stand up to DH’s bourbon honey ham.

EDIT: I did end up making this for Thanksgiving, and it was fantastic. I used a mixture of wild and basmati rices for the grains and went for a curry spiced pumpkin instead of the molasses – both versions were great. I also beefed up the dill a little, which was also welcome.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

Take:

2-3 cups chopped pumpkin or other orange squash

And toss with:

1 Tbsp. date molasses

2 Tbsp. neutral oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Salt & pepper

Bake at 220C/400F for 30 – 40 minutes or until deeply browned. Add to a large bowl.

While the pumpkin is working, make some ginger rice by combining the following and cooking however you cook your grains.

1 cup rice or grains

2 cups water

2 coins sliced ginger

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

When the rice is done, toss out the ginger and combine the warm rice & squash with:

1/2 inch ginger, minced

3 Tbsp. good olive oil

2 scallions, minced

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 Tbsp. dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard (Maille is my favorite)

4 clementines, supremed, with the juice squeezed out of the leftover bits

2 tsp. turmeric

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Serves 4-6

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

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