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

Veg-Forward Hash Bowl Base

I know, *another* hash. Can you get any more basic?

Nope. Nope you can’t. This girl loves breakfast, and hates eating dinner off of a plate at home. I also had an inexplicably strong desire for shredded zucchini, so hash it was.

I’m glad I listened to my weirdo craving – this was dang good. I’ll be making it again because this base is super versatile.

Some topping options:

  • Like I served it with leftover crumbled sausage, cherry tomatoes & Choula
  • Taco meat, guacamole and salsa
  • Chorizo or breakfast sausage & a fried egg
  • Turkey bacon & a fried egg (had this for breakfast the next day and it was 💯
  • Marinara & shredded protein of your choice with red pepper flakes
  • Salmon burger or crab cake with lemon aioli and capers

Let me know if you make any of these other options, tag me on Instagram @gastography – I’d love to see how they turned out!

On to the actual recipe.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Ignore my poor little abused Ikea bowl. She’s got problems.

Veg-Forward Hash Bowl Base

4 small waxy potatoes (about 2 cups shredded)

1 small red onion, shredded

1 large zucchini, shredded

2 cloves garlic, grated

1/2 cup sautéed minced red pepper & onion

Salt & pepper

Neutral oil

Shred the veggies and add in a pile to a clean tea towel. When all the veggies are in, twist as hard as you can to release as much water as possible. You want your mixture pretty dry so it picks up a bit of color rather than just steaming – if you’re me. You do you, though.

Heat a Tablespoon or so of your favorite fat over medium high heat. Add the squeezed veggies and stir to break up.

Hit with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Stir again.

Let sauté until browned to your liking. Add the pepper & onion mix. Stir to combine.

This process took me about 12 minutes to hit my desired level of brownness (stirring pretty frequently to avoid all-out burning) and for my potatoes to be cooked through.

You could also use frozen hashed browns here and that may take a different cooking time.

Taste for seasoning and hit with more salt, pepper or garlic powder if needed. Smoked paprika would also be nice here – cumin would be good, too. I made mine plain so I had maximum topping options.

Serves 2 for dinner

Garden Orzo

Orzo is an ingredient I under-utilize and I’m always surprised how much I like it each time I remember to make it. I’m imagining it’s because I spent years exclusively eating paleo, and have been into low carb for years upon that – but this is really good.

This recipe tastes fresh and makes a great accompaniment to next weeks recipe – a baked Mediterranean chicken. It’s also great as a standalone dish.

Vegetarian, vegan

Garden Orzo

1/2 cup orzo

1.5 cups liquid – I used 1/2 a cup of good stock & 1 cup of water; you do you, though I’d suggest using some good flavorful broth as well

6 sundried tomatoes

500g baby spinach

2 cloves garlic

2 tsp. your favorite oil

Optional add-ins: pine nuts, a good salty cheese (this one from Violife was what I used for the dish I made to go with and it was fantastic – they also make a “Parmesan” that would probably be great here), a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of Zaatar

Sauté the garlic in the little bit of oil until just beginning to turn tender.

Add the stock & water and bring up to a boil.

Add the orzo and cook, stirring quite frequently to prevent sticking, until just al dente, a minute or so before the cook time is up.

While the orzo is working, chop the sundried tomatoes.

When the orzo is al dente, remove from the heat.

Chuck the sundried tomatoes in, stir, and add the spinach on top.

Let steam a couple minutes, and stir the wilted spinach in.

Top with your optionals and serve.

Serves 2 for dinner

Okra Curry

Finally. A curry with taste! I have been crap at making truly flavorful curries in general – I find recipes either too light in the spice for my taste, or just generally falling flat of the kind of deeply layered taste thing I love when enjoying my favorite delivery curries.

This is a step in that direction. It’s complex, flavorful, and wholly satisfying.

A word of caution for this recipe: I served mine with just a side of basmati rice, and I was still hungry. Either the carb ratio was off, or the meal needed some protein or fat to be truly filling.

Note: This recipe uses some of the Good Standard Curry I posted last week. That curry is a fantastic base for all number of other curries – I’m hoping I’ll get one more shot at transforming it into something else before I run out. Luckily, it freezes beautifully in batches.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Okra Curry

1/2 yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

1 green chili of your choice

400-500g can diced or crushed tomatoes

1 Tbsp. ground coriander

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1.5 c. chopped okra

1 bell pepper

1 c. of the Good Standard Curry I posted a recipe for last week

Your favorite cooking oil

Salt & pepper

Chop your onion and garlic. Mince the chili. Fry in a little oil until just beginning to brown.

Add about a quarter cup of water, let simmer about 5 minutes while you are prepping the next step.

While the aromatics are softening, in another pan, fry the coriander, cumin, smoked paprika and tomato paste in a little oil about a minute, or until fragrant.

Add the canned tomatoes, stir well, and simmer 10 minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, Whiz the onion mixture to form a paste. Chop the okra and bell pepper.

Add the onion mix, okra, bell pepper and curry base. Simmer 20 minutes, season well with salt and pepper and serve.

I served mine with basmati rice cooked with a little butter – you do you.

Serves 4-6

A Good Standard Curry

This curry makes a great jumping off point for a whole world of sauces. It’s based on this British-style sauce from Great Curry Recipes, but with amped-up spices, since I just can’t help myself. I also turned it into a full vegetarian meal, and it was delicious

gluten-free, vegetarian

A Good Standard Curry

2 yellow onions

Neutral oil

4 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger

1 carrot

2 bell peppers

1.5 cups crushed tomatoes

2 Tbsp. + ghee

1 Tbsp. curry powder (your favorite style)

1 Tbsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. coriander

1 Tbsp. asofetida (fenugreek was called for in the original; I used what I had)

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

1 Tbsp. turmeric

To turn this into a meal:

2-3 potatoes

1 carrot

1 can chickpeas

1 c. water

Lemon juice

Finishing salt

Basmati rice

Thinly slice your onions. Add to a medium- large pan over medium heat where you’ve heated enough oil to cover the bottom till slightly bubbly.

Fry about 20 minutes until really soft and clear with a little color.

While the onions are working, chop the peppers & carrot. Mince the ginger and garlic and make a paste out of them by crushing with the back of a knife or grinding in a mortar & pestle.

When the onions are ready, add the peppers and carrot. Fry 5 minutes to get working.

Add the ginger, garlic and all spices but the turmeric.

Add to tomatoes and enough water just to cover.

Simmer :30, and remove from the heat. Cool until safe to whiz.

Whiz to make a mostly smooth mixture.

Add the ghee to the pan over medium heat and fry the turmeric :30 – 1 minute to bloom. Add the sauce back into the pan and simmer over low for 20 – 30 minutes.

Now to turn this sauce into a meal.

Set the sauce aside, and add a Tablespoon of oil back into the pan. Chop and add the potatoes, second carrot, and can of chickpeas (drained). Let sauté a couple minutes to warm up a bit. I had intended on putting a little color on the chickpeas but I lost patience with life.

Add a cup or two of the sauce and 1 cup of water. Simmer :30, covered.

Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a liberal sprinkle of finishing salt over basmati rice.

The dinner portion serves 4 easily, with enough sauce leftover to make at least 1 more big meal

Note: This curry is unsalted on purpose. The original recipe was unsalted as well, and I think that’s a good idea since it’s supposed to be used as a base for additions. I’ll be taking this curry and adding some fire next meal – along with more peppers and a deeper taste with tomato paste.

Fresh Shakshouka

This version of shakshouka makes a great topper for crusty bread, uses a good blend of fresh + pantry ingredients – and makes a bonus second meal if you swirl some of your leftover sauce in with noodles.

It’s also DH approved, and he’s not a fan of skin-on tomatoes. He could live without the spinach, but we had greens and needed chlorophyll.

This would also be great with chickpeas for added protein and either scrambled or poached eggs/substitute cooked in the sauce. I wanted to keep my eggs separate to maximize leftovers. Scrambled soft tofu would be fantastic.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, halal

Fresh Shakshouka

1 small jar fire roasted peppers in oil

2 hands cherry tomatoes

1 large onion

4 Tbsp. zaatar

1 Tbsp. smoked paprika

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/2 c. tinned tomatoes (I used crushed but use what you have)

2 tsp. sambal olek (this is my favorite)

1/2 c. parsley

Baby spinach

Eggs

Crusty bread

3 – 4 cloves garlic – 2-3 minced and 1 or 2 whole with the end sliced off

Thinly slice the onion and sauté on medium in 1 Tbsp. of the oil that comes from the jar of peppers until soft and lightly brown in spots.

Add the sambal and 2 – 3 cloves minced garlic. Sauté a minute or two more to meld together.

While that is working, remove the peppers from the oil and roughly chop.

Add the tomatoes and peppers and sauté until the tomatoes burst.

While the tomatoes are doing their thing, roughly chop the parsley, slice the bread into thick slices and drizzle with some of the pepper oil.

Broil the bread until your desired toast level has been reached. Remove from the oven and rub with the cut end of the reserved garlic clove. Set aside.

When the tomatoes have burst (with or without a little help), add the Zaatar, smoked paprika, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and let sauté a minute or so to meld.

Add the tomato paste, canned tomatoes, and half a cup of water. Bring up to a boil, reduce the heat, add the spinach + half the parsley on top, and simmer 7 – 8 minutes. As soon as that spinach wilts and can be thoroughly mixed in is the time to add eggs if you are cooking them like a traditional Shakshouka.

If you are not, fry your eggs separately in a little of the pepper oil to your desired doneness.

Serves 2 for a light dinner + makes enough sauce to be used for another night’s pasta

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

Roasted Veggie Pizza

This is a dead simple dinner that’s quick to prepare and easy to make in bulk for meal prepping.

It’s also healthy – according to my DH, *too* healthy, and can’t be classified as ‘pizza’. 😆 Call it a flatbread, then.

I was a big fan, and ended up eating the leftover hummus & veggies in a bunch of different ways throughout the week.

vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Veggie Pizza

Mixed veggies: I used a combo of zucchini, eggplant, peppers, carrots and onions

Hummus

Some sort of pizza base: I used bran pita, but naan would be great here, as would tortillas or pizza dough flats

Edamame, cooked and shelled

Black olives

Sun dried tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Zaatar

Oil, salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C/400F. Chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces, and arrange on a prepared baking sheet in a single layer.

Drizzle some oil over and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and spread back out in a single layer.

Bake 15 minutes, flip, and bake an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until your desired brownness is reached. Remove and set aside.

The rest is simple. Prep your edamame if it came shelled like mine did. Set aside.

To assemble, spread hummus out in a thin-ish layer on your flatbread like you would marinara on a pizza. Arrange your roasted veggies on top, adding a sprinkle of edamame, olives and sun dried tomato to Zhuzh up your pizza a bit.

Sprinkle spices over top.

Bake on a cookie sheet 10 minutes or until crisp. Pull and slice.

Serves a few

Vegan Tofu Enchiladas

This is another recipe that started off as a suggestion from an article on nutritionist’s favorite grab-n-go items at Trader Joe’s.

As the last recipe, 100% sure this doesn’t taste like TJ’s, but it’s good. Surprisingly good. I completely forgot that tofu makes a super easy and tasty scramble – but it does. And doesn’t stink like wet dog.

A note on this one: I loved it; DH did not. He gave it the good old college try, but made the ick face. Possibly at the black olives. I personally, if I were making this just for myself, would have doubled the olive amount. But I love black olives.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Vegan Tofu Enchiladas

1 block firm tofu, crumbled

1 small white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 bell pepper – any color – diced

2 tsp. neutral oil

1/4 c. black olives, diced

1 c. frozen corn kernels

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 Tbsp. smoky chipotle seasoning

Salt & pepper

6 small corn tortillas

1 jar of your favorite enchilada sauce

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C.

Sauté the garlic, onion and pepper in the neutral oil over medium heat until softened.

Add the crumbled tofu, black olives, frozen corn and spices. Sauté until the mixture looks cooked and is well combined.

Carefully wrap filling in corn tortillas, flipping seam side down so they hopefully don’t burst apart – my dish held 6 comfortably, and I had a little leftover innards, which I sprinkled down the side. I *also* had at least 2 that completely came apart, but that’s neither here nor there.

Coat your hopefully not-disaster in a nice concealing layer of enchilada sauce. I dumped the jar out and then kinda smoothed the sauce out as much as possible.

Bake 20 minutes or until your desired brownness is achieved.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch