Mushroom Pea Pasta

Yep, it’s the middle of January, and yep, I’m craving green things. This recipe is quick to put together, can be dressed up in a bunch of different ways, and keeps like a champ for leftovers.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian

Mushroom Pea Pasta

4 servings of your favorite pasta (I used a standard penne, but my favorite rice fusilli would be great here and chickpea or paleo pastas would also be great – shiritaki would even work, if you’re keto or low carb)

8-12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

Neutral oil

Butter

2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

1/4 c. fresh parsley, chopped

1 Avocado

1/2 c. frozen peas

1 c. frozen spinach

500g. protein of choice

Garlic powder

Onion powder

Nutmeg

Salt & pepper

Nutritional yeast (optional but adds a bit of a cheesy taste)

Set your pasta water (generously salted) to boil. Add the pasta and cook according to directions. Drain and set aside in a large bowl if ready before the rest of your ingredients.

While the pasta is working, brown your protein in a bit of neutral oil – season with salt and pepper and set aside in the large bowl.

To the pan, add your chopped mushrooms, 2 tsp. neutral oil and 2 tsp. butter. Sauté until the mushrooms are cooked through and a bit browned. Season with 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, salt & pepper.

While the mushrooms are going, defrost your peas & spinach.

Chop your herbs and avocado – chuck into the big bowl.

When the mushrooms are ready, add to the big bowl.

Add the peas & 1 tsp. neutral oil to the pan. Sauté until just beginning to brown. Add the spinach. Season with 1 Tbsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. onion powder, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, salt & pepper. Sauté until the spinach is cooked through and the water has evaporated.

Add the green veg to the bowl.

Brown 2 Tbsp. butter in the pan and pour over the top of the pasta and veggies. Toss with 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast.

Serve topped with more nutritional yeast if desired.

Serves 4

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

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

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

I love a good end-of-Summer savory fruit salad. It’s kind of a yearly thing with my brain, and I’m here for it.

Stone Fruit Salad

Lots of peach salad recipes

This is no exception to that rule. This salad is about as light as one would expect, but works well. I worried that the zucchini wouldn’t be great, but it was; even raw. The key here is to peel it into ribbons. I used my regular vegetable peeler. My ribbons weren’t even, but they were delicious.

So much so, I can’t really say this is more than a 1-person meal. I mean, sure, you can feed 2 if you want to throw a main in, but I managed to knock it out in a second helping at lunch.

If you can’t find the Kewpie dressing, a nice sesame would be good. So would my love pomegranate molasses. Balsamic would also work really well. Grapefruit would play nicely.

I had also meant to grab some good vegan Feta for this salad but forgot. It would be nice and would definitely help fill this out to more of a meal, but wasn’t necessary.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

1 large zucchini, ribboned thinly

1/2 shallot, minced

1 plum, chopped

3Tbsp. Kewpie no-oil Yuzu dressing

1Tbsp. your favorite neutral oil

2Tbsp. smoked almonds, chopped

1.5tsp. fresh thyme

1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped

1/2tsp. red chili flakes

Ribbon the zucchini thinly and add to a large bowl.

I tossed any ribbons that were purely peel to the pups, and stopped when I hit all-seed strips. A bit is wasted here, but can be easily chopped and chucked in a pan for a quick little pop of veggie later in the week. I ended up using mine in a breakfast zucchini & fried egg rice with browned butter and snipped chives.

Mince the shallot, de-stem the thyme, and chop both the parsley and plum. Add to the bowl.

Add the red chili flakes, along with the dressing and oil. I’d start with 2 Tbsp. dressing, toss, and see if it needs more. Hit with a few grinds salt and pepper.

When it’s time to plate, add the chopped almonds and toss quickly so they don’t go soggy.

Serves 1 – 2 for lunch depending upon what all else you have going on

Zucchini Rice Pilaf

Sneaky veg FTW in this one. I snuck half a huge zucchini in this rice and it went unnoticed (or at least un commented on). Win.

I served this the first night with seared salmon, and the second with some pepper steak Quorn and a sprinkle of mushroom powder. Both were delicious, and I could see a swirl of pomegranate molasses or some chopped apricot or golden raisins working well here. Smoked almonds instead of plain slivered would also be fantastic.

I also *almost* added the juice and zest of 1 lemon, but am glad I pulled back from that at the last minute. Lemon would be good, but I apparently missed buttery rice in my life.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Zucchini Rice Pilaf

1c. basmati rice

2c. water

1Tbsp. butter (dairy or non; whichever you prefer)

1/2tsp. salt

1/2 a big zucchini (you could actually add the whole thing, but I erred on the side of caution)

1 large shallot

2Tbsp. slivered almonds

2Tbsp. capers

1Tbsp. snipped chives

2Tbsp. chopped parsley

Neutral oil of choice

Make your rice however you make rice, using the water as the liquid and the butter as the fat. Don’t forget to add salt.

While the rice is working, grate the zucchini, snip the chives and chop the parsley. Add to a large bowl.

Finely slice the shallot and fry in a little oil over medium-low heat until browned. When nicely browned (I had wanted caramelized, but this small a quantity of shallot in only the bare minimum of oil browns rather than caramelizes. Would also be amaze with caramelized onion), push the shallot to the side of your pan and add the capers and a bare drizzle of fat.

Push that to 1/3 of the pan until the capers look like they’ll start jumping any minute.

Add the slivered almonds to the last 1/3 of the pan. Toast. Pull the individual items as they are ready and add to the big bowl.

When the rice is done but still warm, add to the big bowl and stir all vigorously to combine.

Serves 4 as a side

Thai-Style Red Curry

Finally! I’ve been trying to make a silky, luxurious feeling Thai-style red curry for a minute and keep screwing something up. Either I don’t let it reduce long enough, or I drown the flavors some how – or I forget a key component like curry paste or coconut milk.

This go round, I forgot to pick up coconut milk. I swear my kitchen eats the stuff. I’ve lost like 3 cans of it in the last few months. But, with a last-minute grocery trip I was all ready to go. Whoo. I’m glad I was, too – this is a good one.

gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian

Thai-Style Red Curry

1 can coconut milk

Veggie, fish or chicken stock (1 of the empty coconut milk cans’ worth)

2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste

2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. fish sauce

2 Tbsp. soy sauce/coconut aminos

Zest and juice of 1 lime

2 stalks fresh lemongrass, peeled to reveal the soft center – mince 1 and whack the other with the back of your knife to release its flavors while cooking

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 scallion, thinly sliced

2 Thai red chilis (optional), minced

1.5 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, chopped

3/4 cup chopped okra

2 Tbsp. minced basil

Minced smoked salmon (optional)

Rice to serve

This is a simple slow-cooker dump meal. Prep all ingredients and dump into your cooker (minus the salmon, basil and green parts of the scallions). Cook however you would make a stew.

When complete, add to a saucepan and simmer until reduced a bit and silky. Serve over rice, topped with the green parts of the scallion and chopped basil.

Serves 4

Sesame Coconut Rice Bowl

This dish turned out miles better than I feared it would. I was hella worried that by using coconut milk as the sole liquid to cook my rice I was going to blow up my rice cooker.

I’m glad those fears were unjustified, because this rice is bomb. So bomb, I made more just so I could serve it with another ‘stepping out on a limb’ dish I’m hoping will be good enough to share with you guys in a few days (spoiler: it involves beets and stir-frying).

This rice makes a great base for simple broccolini like I’ve served here, a nice light green curry, some simple salmon, or even – strangely – some soft-scrambled eggs (or as soft as I can get them, which is not Julia Child level soft).

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Sesame Coconut Rice Bowl

1 cup rice (I used a Basmati/wild combination)

1 14 ounce can coconut milk

1 Tbsp. sesame oil (+more)

2 tsp. your favorite chicken bouillon (mine happens to be vegan and it’s fantastic – Ida’s is the brand and I believe it’s out of South Africa)

Zest of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. tahini

Red chili flakes

Toasted sesame seeds

1/2 yellow onion, chopped

1 bunch broccolini, chopped

2 tsp. neutral oil

2 tsp. ground turmeric

Set your rice, coconut milk, sesame oil and chicken bouillon in your rice cooker. Add a generous sprinkle salt and cook however you cook rice.

While the rice is going, stir-fry the broccolini and onion in the oil until browned (if you add the stalks in first and get those going until just starting to look cooked you’ll have less chance of burning the flowery bits). Whack with salt and pepper. Add the turmeric and toss. Throw in a few Tablespoons water and let cook until the water evaporates and the broccolini is done to your liking. We like browned in spots but still crisp-tender.

Stir in the tahini and lemon zest.

To serve, add 1/3 of the rice to a bowl and top with 1/3 of the broccolini. Add a drizzle of sesame oil, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Serves 3 as a light meal or side

Sweet & Sour Eggplant Hummus

This sounds like a weird one, but is addictive. This dish is based on a crazy good hummus a girlfriend and I (hello, Val @hellotinywonder) had at the staple ‘bring your out-of-town guests’ place Damasca One, a stunning mostly-Syrian restaurant in Souq Waqif.

The dish we had tasted like vegan sloppy joes in the best possible way – sweet and tangy eggplant nestled in luscious kibbeh on a bed of silky hummus. It was a stunner, and the stand-out of the night (at least for me – there was also a fantastic lentil dish I couldn’t eat enough of to parse).

My recreation is solid (as attested by another girlfriend, who I had the chance to make it for – Annmarie of last weeks’ Za’atar Eggplant fame). No kibbeh in mine, and longer cooking is definitely better – but it’s super freaking good and probably a touch healthier.

I’m super pumped that I have leftovers!

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Sweet & Sour Eggplant Hummus

Sauce:

1 large purple eggplant
1 red pepper
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
Neutral oil
Salt & pepper
Ground cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano

Hummus:

1 can chickpeas
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 c. tahini
1/2 tsp. cumin
3-4 cloves garlic
Salt & pepper

Toppers:

Pomegranate arils
Toasted pine nuts

First, roast the veg. Preheat your oven to 200C/375F. Prep a baking sheet.

Chop the pepper into big chunks and put to 1 side of the tray.

Chop the eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces and put to the other side of the tray.

Sprinkle both with neutral oil, salt, pepper & ground cumin.

Bake for 30-ish minutes or until soft and blackened lightly in spots. Set aside to cool.

While that’s going, slice the onion as thinly as possible. Mince the garlic. Add to a saucepan with 3 Tbsp. neutral oil over low heat. Add some salt & pepper.

Let gently cook, stirring occasionally, 30 – 45 minutes or until the onions are deeply caramelized.

While those are both working, whiz all hummus ingredients together. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid if necessary. Set aside.

When the veggies are baked, whiz the peppers a bit to break them up some.

Add the whizzed pepper, tomato paste, pomegranate molasses, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. oregano, and 3 Tablespoons water into the onion mixture. Let cook a few minutes to combine.

Whiz to combine a bit better, dump back into the pan, fold in the eggplant, and cook an additional 10 minutes to reduce back down a bit and let the flavors mature.

To serve, lay the hummus down, top with the eggplant mixture and sprinkle with the toppers.

Serves a few

Za’atar Eggplant

This is a dead simple way to explore a sometimes under-utilized and misunderstood vegetable: the simple Italian style eggplant.

I can’t take credit for this recipe – I was treated to it at a good friend’s house after she raved about it. She wasn’t wrong.

Gluten-free, paleo, Whole30, low carb, vegetarian, vegan

Za’atar Eggplant

1 purple eggplant
Za’atar
Your favorite cooking oil
Salt & pepper

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

Slice your eggplant into thick “steaks” however you like – width or lengthwise.

Lightly score each slice with a knife in a crosshatch pattern, taking care not to slice through the pieces.

Sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper.

Top very generously with za’atar (enough time form a crust).

Sprinkle lightly with your oil of choice to kind of stick the spice down. Alternately, you can mix the spice and oil together in a bowl, then smooth over the eggplant slices – depends on how much oil you want to use.

Bake 25 – 35 mins or until softened and browned – a bit crisp if they’re thin slices.

Serves 2