Category Archives: Autumn

israeli spiced tomatoes + pesto beans on toast

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A good longtime friend reminded me recently of all the music we listened to in highschool while driving back country roads home at too fast speeds (and more than likely trying to beat the train). I guess I was often the go-to to for music in those days, and thanks to me thinking my big brother was pretty cool, I swung our listening preferences to the heavy-metal-and-lots-of-it-really-loud most of the time. Prior to that I was a big fan of Britney and all her friends, and now to this day I’ll listen to just about anything if I consider it music but have had We Are Messengers and The Digital Age on repeat for most of the last year. They’re basically my preferred pre-trail run jam.

Oh and Britney. Because she knows how to motivate a girl through a Friday afternoon strength session when nothing else will.

 

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In other ramblings, lately I’m into making weeknight meals a little more time-intensive and switching weekends to simple, easy, and quick. I was accused recently of reverting strongly to my Irish/British roots when it comes to my choice of quick, convenient comfort food since I always end up with some version of beans on toast. I let my tomato plants grow a couple weeks longer than planned and the result is this recent favorite. Inspired by Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons, it has spiced-rubbed tomatoes, basil/walnut pesto, and quick chickpeas tossed with parsley and balsamic, all on top the gluten-free sourdough I’ve been working on all summer. (Each successive loaf is turning out nicer and nicer and it makes me so so excited)!

 

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Israeli spiced tomatoes + pesto beans on toast, serves 2
I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about quick and simple meals, and some version of this is definitely my go-to. I usually have cooked chickpeas or other beans in the fridge ready to go, pesto in the freezer, and when I’m super lucky, fresh bread (or frozen) to round it out. When I’m feeling extra lazy // need a decent meal quick, pesto on toast with a fried egg and quick pesto-dressing tossed greens also does the trick. 

1/2 tsp. sumac
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large or two small tomatoes, sliced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
a small handful of parsley and/or basil, minced
1/4-1/3 cup pesto
4 slices whole-grain ‘rustic’ bread of choice- a sturdier loaf holds up better

  1. Mix the sumac, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, a pinch of black pepper, and the garlic in a little dish. Slice the tomatoes and lay out on a flat baking pan or plate. Rub the spice mixture all over them and let them sit while you prep the rest, and up to an hour.
  2. In another small bowl, toss together the chickpeas, vinegar, and minced herbs. Season lightly with salt and black pepper, taste and adjust the seasoning.
  3. To serve, toast the bread, warm the pesto, and then top the toast with pesto, tomato slices, and the chickpeas.

 

 

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, Tomatoes, Cumin + Kale

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“Rain split the cherries. Cut your harvest check in half.” 


The line, straight from The Farming Game of my youth goes through my mind as I snap a small handful of cherry tomatoes from the vine in-between rain clouds.

I swear half my childhood was spent staying up into the wee hours of the mornings playing that game with siblings and anyone else who could be coerced to “become a real farmer.” If you’ve never heard or played, the game is a lot like Monopoly, only much more realistic and centered around the topic of all things farming. The largest takeaway, I think, is that crop diversification is key to farming/food growing success.

The same can be said in real life.

 

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Last year we were up to our elbows in zucchini, eating lots and lots of noodles. This year, the squash bugs came out in force and that crop was a major loss past early July, five plus cucumber plants never did make it beyond a few inches growth before they struggled, and the collards set to flowering early. William babied his first crop of corn so much I joked he’d get lucky and they’d all have worms. And then the team effort, me picking out the variety, him doing all the subsequent work and babying, me finishing up by harvesting every last ear at the right time and turning it all into tasty meals, worked out. The corn was the biggest success. And I’ve never been too keen on it, particularly.

The tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants too, blasted by a lot of summer heat, produced in leaps and bounds to the point that we’re almost out of nightshades, earlier by far than most years, and can I even tell you how glad I’m going to be when we pull all the plants out and I forego most tomatoes until next year?!

I’ve a friend who I told recently that I’m the most unattached and hands-off gardener, to which she replied, oh no, you’re not. But she’s wrong. I mostly don’t care about the bugs, often letting them grow in population a little too much, hence the squash bug outbreak that got past the manageable stage. And the amount we’ve been harvesting would be significantly reduced if it weren’t for William needing to detox from office life every evening through summer with his watering and audiobook situation. I left him happily to it and rejoiced in harvesting, planting, occasionally fertilizing and deadheading flowers. Oh and unemotionally yanking out whole plants and insect-infested sections, because as my mother always says, if a plant dies, just replace it with something else.

That’s pretty much my motto too. Along with crop diversity, so I have the luxury of being completely unattached to any one thing.

 

Anyway, enough chattering on. The rain did split my cherry (tomatoes). And in a couple weeks I’ll wipe out that whole section and plant winter cover crop instead. But for now, we’re enjoying the last of that particular summer treat atop oven-roasted sweet potatoes and black beans in this easy weeknight favorite that can be either fancied up or pared down, depending.

What about you? What have you been enjoying in this transitional seasonal?

 

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Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, Tomatoes, Cumin + Kale, serves 4
The Recipe Redux September theme is Sheet Pan Meals, with the idea of throwing ingredients together on a sheet pan or baking dish and roasting for a simple dinner to make busy weeknights manageable. I may have cheated a bit since the only roasting that needs to happen here is the sweet potatoes, but this is one of my favorite simple dinners by far, and in a jif–and perhaps if you’re blessedly fresh out of summer tomatoes–if comes together quick with roasted sweet potatoes, canned black beans, a few handfuls of greens, some salsa and seeds. For a nicer, fancier version, take a few minutes more to slice and dice some peppers and tomatoes with toasted cumin and fresh lime juice and make your black beans from scratch. And perhaps enjoy the last couple weeks or two of warmer weather. Enjoy!

4 small sweet potatoes
2 cups cooked black beans
6-8 cups chopped kale
1 lb. cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 large sweet bell or Italian pepper, diced
small handful cilantro or parsley, minced
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive or avocado oil, divided
2 Tbsp. lime juice, divided
a few pinches sea salt
additional lime wedges
pumpkin, sunflower, or hemp seeds

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wash and dry the sweet potatoes, and then gently poke a few holes in their skins. Set on a piece of foil or in a baking dish and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork or knife.
  • In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half, dice the pepper and parsley, and combine in a small bowl with the toasted cumin and half of the oil and lime juice. Taste and salt as needed.
  • Finely chop the kale and add to another small bowl. With the remaining oil and lime juice, massage the kale gently to soften.
  • To serve, top each sweet potato with heated black beans, the tomato + cumin salad, kale, and seeds.
  • Finish with additional lime juice as desired.

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Asian Tofu Tacos with Miso-Lime Sliced Greens

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I dropped into my co-op the other evening to pick up a few items for the week, one of which was the tofu for these tacos. But the store had experienced two power outages in the hours before, and being small and without a generator, they had to pull most of the chilled items from the shelves, one of which was the tofu.

Back in the bulk section stocking up on other items, I realized they did still have tofu in bulk, however, and as I pulled a big wedge out of its liquid and slid it into a container, I thought oh you’re a real hippy now, even buying your tofu in bulk. There was an equal mixture of horror and pride in projecting what all the folks back home in conservative cattle country would think of me now, mixed all in with my saving the planet one eco-friendly practice at a time tendencies.

 

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And then, just as soon as all those conflicting thoughts went through my head, a line from a recent book (and I even forget which one) streamed through:

Drop your story. Drop whatever story you’re telling about or to yourself, and don’t pick another one up. 

And that’s where I stopped. And focused on re-filling my spice jars and getting more sesame oil. I think it’s all around better we all just drop our internal narratives and big talk/thinking about who we are and generally try to focus on the task at hand. Wouldn’t you say?

That’s my intention today anyway. What is yours?

 

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Asian Tofu Tacos with Miso-Lime Sliced Greens, serves 4
Originally inspired by Sara Forte in her first cookbook, and before-then inspired by her experience at an LA taco truck, the flavors in these tacos will truly welcome in this transitioning season. Crunchy Asian pears, tofu with ALL THE FLAVOR, and a slightly sweet, miso, lime + ginger dressing infused through the sliced greens, this is definitely a special occasion taco recipe. Make it to impress your friends. Or drastically upgrade your regular taco night.
For the greens, use collards, kale, a nice crunchy cabbage, or whatever you have on hand. Collards are a great choice if you don’t often use them, however, as they are sturdy, hold up to the heat and cold of the seasons, making them available nearly year round, and they are one of the plant kingdom’s best sources of bio-available calcium, meaning you’ll both ingest and absorb it–an advantage that’s not true of all the calcium-rich greens. 

 

1 lb. firm tofu, use organic/gmo-free/local if you can
for the tofu marinade:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
1 1/2 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
2 Tbs. apple cider or brown rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 Tbs. tamari
1 tsp. hot sauce ( I used a homemade green tabasco style)

for the sliced greens dressing:
1 Tbs. yellow miso
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, finely minced
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 Tbs. untoasted sesame oil
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. hot sauce

4 cups thinly sliced collard greens, kale, or cabbage
1-2 watermelon or regular radishes, optional
corn tortillas
1 Asian pear, sliced thin
lime wedges, to serve

  • Slice the block of tofu in half or thirds length-wise, wrap in paper towels, and then stack between a couple cutting boards and press out the liquid for at least 15 minutes.
  • Whisk together the tofu marinade in a leak-proof container with a lid. When the tofu is pressed, cut it into cubes, and combine it with the marinade. Put the lid on and give it all a few shakes and then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to a day. More time will allow for more flavor.
  • Once the tofu has marinated, turn it onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40 minutes, flipping it over halfway through.
  • While the tofu is cooking, combine the dressing ingredients and with your hands, massage about half of it through the sliced greens. Add more dressing as necessary or save the extra for another use. You can also add the thinly sliced radishes to the greens, but if they’re extra spicy, toss them onto the baking dish with the tofu in its last few minutes of cooking. It will tame the heat a bit and allow for the sweetness in the radishes to come out.
  • To finish, heat the tortillas and slice the pear and lime.
  • Top the tortillas with all the toppings in any order you prefer, and serve immediately.

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