Category Archives: Winter

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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Moroccan Quinoa Salad, a favorite

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I cannot count the number of times I’ve made this main-dish salad the day before a race, gobbled it up as my night-before meal, and then happily gone back for the leftovers in the hours after the effort was over. Though I’ve eaten so many kale and quinoa salad combinations over the years–and perchance you have too–this one is my personal favorite this past year. Originally adapted from Eat Grain and similar in many ways to this dish, I’ve changed up most of the ingredients and quantities, as I tend to, and now it is simply the kind of food I like to eat all the time, but especially when the weather begins to turn back to cool and the days shorten. Oof, I think we’re getting there.

 

Moroccan Quinoa Salad, serves 3-4 as a main dish
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and soaked
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1 large bunch kale, diced
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
1/4 cup raisins
2-3 Tbs. capers, rinsed and drained
a couple small handfuls of mint leaves, minced
salt as needed

Dressing:
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. maple syrup or honey
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. cardamom
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/16 tsp. clove
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
splash of water, as needed to thin

  • A few hours before making, soak the quinoa in water and add a splash of apple cider vinegar. This will reduce some of the phytates, making its minerals more available and digestible. Then, drain and rinse the quinoa and add it to a small pot with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down to low. Cook for 20 minutes and then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  • While the quinoa is cooking whisk together the dressing ingredients and chop or dice the nuts, kale, and fruit.
  • To a large salad bowl, combine the cooked and cooled quinoa, garbanzos, chopped hazelnuts, dried fruit, and capers. Then, to the top add the diced kale. Using a small amount to start, pour a little dressing on the kale and massage it gently with your hands, softening it up a bit. Then, use a spoon to mix the kale in with the other ingredients. To finish, top with the mint leaves, and add additional dressing and salt as needed.

Healing Mineral Broth

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In honor of Earth Day, the Recipe Redux challenged us to show how we reduce food waste. Whatever you would normally toss, use it up. Share tips for reducing food waste in meal planning, prep, or using up scraps. 

One of the things I was most excited about when we bought our house was finally having the ability to compost because I hated having to put all my vegetable scraps in the trash. But I am also the least responsible compost-keeper. I have a one-two pile system going in the last owner’s dog run that I never turn, don’t add enough green to brown material to, and sometimes draw in little rodent creatures, as I’ve created their ideal habitat. It is fairly routine for William to remind me about how I need to turn/do something about my scrap piles and for me to nod along, I know, and then do nothing about it. This is definitely the case of liking the idea of something more than the actual process, and is just one more reason I would have made a terrible farmer.

Thanks in part to learning the benefits of making healing vegetable broth last fall in my cooking class, I’ve slightly reduced my critter-habitat production, as I’ve found another initial use for many of my scraps. But also, our neighborhood cat has now got my back. ;)

The recipe we learned was Rebecca Katz’s Magic Mineral Broth, which she designed to include vegetables that will provide minerals essential for their deep-healing effects. I’ve been given the recommendation time again this past winter to incorporate more broth, as I’ve needed to return to more specific gut-healing and immune-enhancing protocols than just eating my vegetables. Mineral broth is good for that but it is also rich in electrolytes needed for athletic recovery, nutrients essential for bone health, and lots of minerals that just about all of us could use more of.

What’s more, it can be made using vegetable scraps. Lately, that is what I’ve been doing, as I throw the kale, collard, and tough broccoli stalks in the freezer, along with onion, garlic, celery, and carrot bits and pieces until I’ve gotten a good-sized bag. Then I dump it all out into a large pot, add a few good additions along with water, and simmer away for a couple hours.

In addition to making sure my broth includes onions, garlic, or leeks, I always add a good pinch or small handful of kelp or one of its varieties. These are seaweeds that are themselves extremely rich in nutrients, but also add a real umami flavor that enhances the taste. And no, the finished broth does not have a seaweed/seawater flavor.

For more about the specific reasons vegetable broth can be so healing, check out these informative articles by Ally, Aimee and The Salt.

 

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Healing Mineral Broth, makes about 10 cups
The broth above is a deep purple because of the addition of purple carrot scraps. Use what you have, but tend for vegetables that will impart a mild flavor (less beets and nightshades, more onions, brassicas, celery, and carrots). Mushrooms would be lovely as well. Add the finished broth to soups, stews, instead of water in cooking grains, or simply for sipping on its own. It is tasty, I promise. 

8-10 cups assorted vegetable scraps
1-2 bay leaves
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves or 2-3 sprigs fresh
A small handful of parsley stems
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
a good couple pinches of kelp (I’m currently using wakame)
10-12 cups water

  • Add all ingredients to a large pot and bring to a strong simmer. Turn down, cover, and simmer for 2-4 hours, adding water if needed.
  • Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, and then strain off the scraps (and compost if you can).
  • Store any broth that won’t be used within a couple days in glass jars in the freezer.

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