May 272014

If you’re a regular tush cook reader (hi, mom), you have probably noticed that I don’t make a whole lot of Indian food. It’s not that I have anything against it, but more that I find it a bit daunting. With other types of food, I feel like I understand the flavors enough to whip something up without a recipe, but I just don’t know where to begin with Indian spices. So why, you might wonder, was I inspired to make this dish? Well, a month ago my fiance left for India (am I that much of a bridezilla already?). Really it’s just for work, and thankfully he’s back in just a few days, but I still wanted to make something to feel a little closer to him while he’s halfway across the world. Without the food poisoning.
One thing that I do love about Indian food is that most of it is vegetarian. Another big plus is that most of it is spicy and has bold flavors. This recipe was all of those things and more–loaded with veggies, just spicy enough, and incredibly comforting. The kind of comforting you need when your fiance leaves for a month!
Nutritional Highlights: This recipe is both healthy and filling. It’s vegan and gluten free too! The lentils provide protein and fiber, and the greens (spinach or kale) and cauliflower give tons of vitamins. Garlic and onions are associated with heart health and ginger a happy GI tract (which I’m sure comes in handy when you’re traveling in India). There’s not a single unhealthy thing about this dish…well, aside from the quantity of naan I dipped in it while eating it.
Coconut Red Lentil Dal with Roasted Cauliflower
serves 4-6
adapted from Gourmet
What’s in it:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, finely chopped, including seeds (Note: if I made this again I would up it to 2 jalapenos)
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (10 oz)
1 (13- to 14-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 14 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes
3 cups packed dark green leafy greens, like kale or spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs
Juice from 1-2 limes
Roasted cauliflower (see recipe below)
Optional Accompaniments: brown rice or whole wheat naan

How to make it:

1. Cover red lentils with water and allow to sit for about 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients. Strain before use.
2. In a large pot, heat 1 T oil and cook onion, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and chile and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
3. Stir in vegetable broth, drained lentils, diced tomatoes and coconut milk, then simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in the kale and simmer, covered, until tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Squeeze in juice from one lime and taste. Season with additional salt or add more lime juice as desired.
5. Serve with roasted cauliflower and cilantro sprigs scattered on top. Enjoy!

For the Roasted Cauliflower:

Preheat oven to 450. Cut 1 small head cauliflower into floretes (or about 3 cups prepared floretes). Drizzle floretes with 1 T olive oil and season with salt and pepper (feel free to add any other spices as well). Roast for about 20 minutes or until tender and brown.

May 182014

There are 2 important things you should get out of this post. 1) This tahini sauce is epic. I could put it on everything I eat from now until forever and be very happy. 2) Spiralizers are amazing. If you’ve never seen or used one, it’s this awesome device that basically turns any vegetable into noodles. I borrowed a friends for this recipe (thanks Jen!) but just so everyone knows, my birthday is August 24th and I will accept all gifts in the form of spiralizers. Thanks.
You can basically put anything you want into this delicious bowl. I used soy-baked tofu, avocado, edamame, scallions, roasted sweet potato, and eggplant, and put it all over a big bowl of spiralized veggies (zucchini, cucumber, and carrots). After adding the magical tahini sauce and a little sriracha, this was literally one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. I know I tend to exaggerate, but I’m being serious. Seriously. It does take a little time to prepare all the components, but it’s well worth it!
Nutritional Highlights: Where to begin. This is a vegan, gluten-free meal that is super filling and satisfying. There is tons of protein from the edamame and tofu. It’s also essentially vegetables on top of vegetables on top of vegetable, which means plenty of vitamins and fiber. The beauty of this meal is that you can add any mixture of veggies that you like. You can serve this as a choose your own adventure kind of meal–put out all the toppings and let each person build their own bowl…not only is it healthy but it’s fun!
Vegetable “Noodle” Bowl with Tahini Sauce
adapted from Inspiralized
serves 4

What’s in it:

2 carrots, washed
1 cucumber, washed
1-2 zucchinis, washed

Toppings (choose your favorites):
1 block of extra firm tofu (+2 T soy sauce/tamari and 1 tsp sesame seeds)
2 Tablespoons black or white sesame seeds
1-2 ripe avocados, cut into cubes
1 cup shelled edamame, cooked (I buy the already cooked frozen kind and just let it thaw or zap it)
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 large sweet potato, cubed
1 eggplant, cubed
Other options: broccoli, shitake mushrooms, or any others you like!
Optional: sriracha or hot sauce for serving

For the tahini dressing:
1/2 cup tahini
1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated or finely minced
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari if you’re GF)
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons mirin or honey
2 tablespoons water (more or less as needed)


1. In the morning or the day before you’re planning to make the dish, wrap the block of tofu in several paper towels and place on a dish with a heavy pan on top. Leave it in the fridge like this all day to drain out the liquid.
2. When you’re ready to start cooking, preheat the oven to 425.
3. Cut the tofu into cubes and toss with a 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (or tamari) and a teaspoon of sesame seeds. Allow the tofu to sit for 15 minutes if you have time. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay down the tofu chunks.
4. Cut the other vegetables you plan on roasting into small cubes (sweet potato and eggplant in my version), toss with a little olive oil or sesame oil, season with salt and spread on a prepared baking sheet.
5. Roast the vegetables and tofu in the oven for about 30 minutes, tossing halfway through, or until vegetables are tender and brown and tofu is crispy. Note: I like to keep my vegetables separate on the baking sheet so if some are done before others I can remove that portion.
6. While those are cooking, spiralize your vegetables and combine them all in a bowl. Note: If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can still make this dish, just serve over grated vegetable slaw or even some brown rice or quinoa.
7. Make the tahini dressing by whisking together all the ingredients. Add the water last and use as much as needed to create your desired thickness.
8. Toss the spiralized veggies with half of the tahini sauce. Transfer the rest of the sauce to a small dish so people can add more to their bowls as desired.
9. Set up your noodle bowl bar. In small bowls, put out tahini sauce, chopped scallions, sesame seeds, roasted tofu, roasted eggplant, roasted sweet potato, edamame, and cubed avocado. Build your bowl by starting with “noodles” adding toppings as desired, and additional sauce and sesame seeds. Enjoy!
I could eat this every day. The end.

May 042014

Mexican food is probably my all time favorite genre of food. I know it is a bold statement, but Mexican food has so much going for it. First of all, avocados can be involved in just about every dish, and this is a great thing. Plus, there’s always a great mix of bold flavors, colors, textures, and ideally an aggressive kick. Obviously, with Cinco de Mayo approaching, I was not going to miss an opportunity to make something fiesta-worthy. After wandering the isles of whole foods with absolutely no game plan, somehow I ended up making these absurdly delicious spicy baked plantain chips with tropical fruit and avocado salsa.
The plantain chips were very simple, seasoned with olive oil, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt. The salsa was also simple and fresh–a mix of avocado, mango, strawberries, serrano chile, red onion, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice. This is the perfect appetizer for your Cinco de Mayo party. Or really any of the days of Mayo. Or Junio or Julio o Agosto. You get it.
I had never worked with plantains before, but you should know that even though they look like a green banana, they are really more like a potato in flavor and texture. They have a slight sweetness but are very starchy, which is why they make an excellent and super crunchy chip. They don’t peel as easily as a banana, but if you just run a knife down one side through just the skin, you can peel it off relatively easily.
Nutritional Highlights: This app is definitely a big health improvement from your regular chips and guac. Instead of fried tortilla chips, these are baked with only a little bit of oil. Plantains are high in fiber, vitamin B, A, and C, and potassium. The salsa is also super healthy–with tons of vitamins and antioxidants from mango and salsa, and healthy fat from the avocado. Your favorite guac and salsa at a mexican restaurant may be loaded with salt and leave you bloated and thirsty, but I didn’t even have to add any salt to this salsa, since it was so flavorful on it’s own! Added bonus–this recipe is gluten free and vegan!
Spicy Baked Plantain Chips with Tropical Fruit and Avocado Salsa
For the chips:
2 green plantains
2 T olive oil
1 T chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the salsa:
1/2 large mango, chopped
6 strawberries, chopped
1/2 avocado, cubed (or the whole avocado if it’s small)
1 small serrano chile, seeds removed and finely chopped
2 T finely chopped red onion
2 T finely chopped cilantro
Juice from 1/2 lime (or more to taste)

How to make it:
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Using a paring knife, cut a slit down one side of the plantain, just through the skin. Use your fingers to peel off the skin. Slice as thinly as possible on a diagonal, or use a mandolin to make thin chips.
2. Toss the sliced plantains with olive oil and spices. Spray a baking sheet with oil spray and spread the plantains in a single layer. Spray a little additional oil spray on top to help them get crispy and transfer to the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turning the chips after 8 minutes and watching carefully toward the end as they can easily burn. Once they are browned and crispy, you are good to go!
3. While the chips are baking, make the salsa by simply combining all the ingredients. You can also make this in advance and refrigerate.
4. Let the chips cool and serve along with the salsa. Enjoy!

Note: these are best eaten right away but can be saved a day or two (although they will lose some of their crispiness).
Feliz Cinco de Mayo, and enjoy this beautiful spring weather :)