The excesses of the holiday are behind us in the new year. Traditionally, January is “diet season” – a time to start over and focus on a healthy diet. But again, in the midst of a pandemic and winter, dieting does not seem like a particularly attractive idea. Instead of trying to follow a prescribed diet (it’s almost always a challenge to stick to), I try to focus on eating more vegetables, less meat and fresher, lighter dishes.
These three new recipes are certainly not “diet food”, but instead focus on color (a true challenge in the winter months), texture and great bold flavors. This is food that makes you feel good and satisfied.
All of these dishes work well for just about any meal and can be easily doubled depending on the size of your family. For a healthy New Year!
When you want to reduce the amount of animal protein you eat, the mushroom’s meaty texture and rich umami flavor are a great alternative. Corn tortillas are heated with a touch of crisp cheddar until they melt and bubble, while mushrooms are sautéed over high heat with a spit dish. The sautéed mushrooms are stacked on top of the cheesy tortilla and then topped with a blob of Greek yogurt or sour cream, chopped tomatoes or salsa and lime. Tacos can be made from start to finish in about 20 minutes. They are equally good for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and the recipe can easily be doubled or tripled.
Serves 2 to 4.
- 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 8 ounce mushrooms (I used a combination of shiitakes and king oyster mushrooms), the ends trimmed and cut into ½ empty thick slices
- 3 spit bowl, ends trimmed and cut into thin slices (white and green sections)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 corn tortillas
- 1/3 packed cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped or ½ cup salsa
- About ¼ cup of Greek yogurt or sour cream
- A few sprigs of fresh coriander or parsley, optional
- 1 lime, cut into quarters
- Hot pepper sauce
- Heat the mushrooms: Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and half of the scallions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown and tender.
- Meanwhile, in a large frying pan (or two frying pans) set over moderate heat, heat the tortillas for 2 minutes, turn the tortillas over and spread the cheese between them. Boil, moving the tortilla around from side to side to prevent burning until the cheese is melted and bubbling.
- To serve: Divide the mushrooms between the warm tortillas. Sprinkle with tomatoes, remaining scallion and a dab of sour cream. Sprinkle with coriander or parsley and serve with a slice of lime to squeeze on top and a splash of hot pepper sauce.
Fried rice with vegetables and fried eggs
All you need for this dish is some leftover rice, fresh ginger, a few fresh vegetables and an egg and you have the option of a satisfying breakfast, lunch or dinner. Add any kind of vegetable you have on hand – broccoli or cauliflower bouquets, cubes of winter squash, green beans, etc. Think of this as a kind of master recipe and customize it according to what you have in your fridge.
Serves 2 to 4
- 1 tablespoon thistle oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger in thin slices
- 1 leek, dark green removed, cut lengthwise, washed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces or 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 spit bowl, trimmed ends and white and green sections cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 to 1 ½ cups of raw vegetables (see ideas above), cut into small cubes or pieces
- 2 celery ribs, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon miso paste, preferably white or a mild variant
- A touch of chili paste or hot pepper sauce
- About 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
- 1 ½ dl kale, spinach or chard (if you use kale, remove the ribs in the middle)
- ½ cup salted cashews or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1½ cup cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander or parsley sprigs, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon safflower or vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Squeeze red chili flakes
- In a wok or large heavy frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add half of the chopped and sliced ginger and cook for 30 seconds, stirring. Add the leek or onion and scallion and fry, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the chopped vegetables and cook, stirring, for 4 minutes. Add the celery and then stir in the miso paste, chili paste and soy sauce. Cook for 30 seconds. Add the greens and the remaining ginger and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until the greens have withered and the vegetables are almost tender. Add half of the cashews or walnuts and the rice, making sure to separate the rice so they do not clump. Stir everything until it is hot and the vegetables and greens are completely incorporated. Add ¼ cup of water and another teaspoon of soy sauce if the mixture seems dry.
- While the rice and vegetables are cooking, heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan over high heat. Beat the eggs in the pan, sprinkle with salt, pepper and a pinch of chili flakes. Cook for 2 minutes until the edges are crisp and begin to turn golden brown. Gently invert the egg and cook for another minute.
- Serve the hot fried rice, topped with fried eggs, the remaining nuts and cilantro. Serve hot pepper sauce or chili paste next to it.
Roasted cauliflower and cherry tomatoes with Israeli couscous and crispy spicy chickpeas
This salad / main course offers great color, texture and tremendous flavor. The whole dish can be made hours in advance and tossed with fresh lemon juice and olive oil just before serving. Hot pita bread, a crispy baguette or your favorite bread would be a great addition. This is a vegan dish, but can be made more extensive with the addition of crumbled feta or mouth-watering pieces of leftover cooked salmon or chicken.
This dish can be served hot or at room temperature.
- A 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained, washed and drained again
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed cinnamon
- ½ tsp cumin
- Pinch chili flakes
Cauliflower and couscous:
- 1 small to medium-sized cauliflower, washed and left whole
- ¼ cup plus 4 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Squeeze red chili flakes
- 1½ dl cherry tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried and crumbled
- 1 cup Israeli or pearl couscous
- Juice from 1 large lemon or 2 medium
- ⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Place the washed chickpeas on a baking sheet with low edges in a single layer. Turn with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, cumin and chili flakes. Fry on the middle shelf for about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool.
- Meanwhile, place the whole cauliflower in an ovenproof pan or small frying pan and cover with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper and a pinch of chili flakes. Fry for about 20 minutes, gently turning the cauliflower and roasting for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until it feels tender when tested with a small, sharp knife. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. When it is cool enough to handle, cut or separate the cauliflower into small bouquets.
- In a medium-sized ovenproof pan or baking sheet, toss the tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. Fry for 15 to 20 minutes, or until almost bursting.
- Bring 1 1/2 cups lightly salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the couscous and 1 tablespoon of the oil and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 8 minutes or until couscous has absorbed almost all of the water. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit for another 5 to 8 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed.
- To assemble: Gently flip the couscous, cauliflower bouquets, tomatoes (as well as any juice from the bottom of the frying pan or pan) and half of the chickpeas together. Just before serving, toss with lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Top with the remaining roasted chickpeas and parsley.
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