Posts tagged: quick vegetarian recipes
May 15, 2013

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Lemon

Soup might not seem like an especially fitting spring endeavor, but in Brooklyn now, where it is sunny and 70 degrees one day and moody and cold the next, soup feels right. Especially when it is a bright, light one like this.

It would have never come into being were it not for the carrots at the farmer’s market, an especially young and sprightly looking bunch, unignorable in blightless, look-at-me orange. I grabbed three, not knowing what I would do with them, and hoping their end wouldn’t be boring or worse. Far too many vegetables spend their last days in my crisper drawers, giving up until they’re wan and limp.

I searched “carrots” on my Epicurious app, as I often do in this situation, and this rendering just about fell in my lap. It was my jumping off point. Simple, but still exciting, this soup has a warm, bracing hit of ginger along with a lift of lemon. I love it because it is so healthy (doesn’t it feel enlivening just to look at?), and because it saved me more than once. It was an easy snack one afternoon, plain and unadorned, and a fast hit-the-spot dinner one night, served over farro, and scattered with cilantro and mint. (I bought the herbs on that same farmer’s market run, and miraculously, I have kept them alive in their little pots out on the fire escape.) I dusted it with cayenne pepper, but a spoonful of Greek yogurt would have been a sultry companion, too. Half of the batch stands by at the ready in the freezer, ready to sweep in again at the next hungry moment.

I think this is why I’ve been blogging so little about cooking lately: they aren’t so much recipes I’m working with as they are components thrown together in various pairings. A bunch of sautéed kale appears with brown rice at dinner, then is scrambled with eggs the next morning. Leftover cooked grains go into a frittata, or to bulk up a soup, or get sautéed with herbs and nuts and served alongside roast chicken. When I do manage to get myself in front of the stove, I cook more than I need, and store the rest in the fridge or freezer. If it’s there and ready to use, chances are I will. It’s not a particularly exciting way to eat, and invariably my combinations involve garlic, soy sauce, and brown rice vinegar, but it’s working for me. It feels easy and simple and healthy, and there’s something reassuring about it. Without relying on our cookbooks or recipes, what happens when we just get down to practice of making a meal? As is often the case, we know more than we think.

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September 3, 2012

Late-Summer Zucchini with Spaghetti, Walnuts and Herbs

I always love the what to do with all this zucchini?!!? hysteria that happens in August and stretches through the first bright days of September. I find the predictability of this annual quandary comforting: here we are again, once again.

This year, my go-to zucchini solution came from the one cookbook I allowed myself to take with me to Massachusetts for the month of August. Simple food was just what I wanted to cook during those long evenings, and simple food was just what I carried in glass tupperware over to my sister’s third-floor apartment most nights. The best and easiest grilled chicken, a quinoa salad so good it was requested a second time. Simple became the guiding principle of the month. The pleasures were simple (bike rides, ice cream cones, swimming holes), the rhythm was simple (wake-write-work-ride-cook-sleep), my role as a dinner-delivering mother’s helper was simple and all the sweeter for it. It was the first time in a long time I can remember feeling truly needed. And so I unloaded the dishwasher and held the baby during bathroom breaks and watched House Hunters late into the night with a kind of joyful purpose I haven’t ever felt. It was simple.

And this recipe, while perhaps not quite as sweet and simple as two sisters sitting in easy chairs with a newborn passed between them, is one I’ll return to. Just like I hope I get back to the evening nook in that third-floor apartment, clearing the empty plates off the table, depositing them in the dishwasher, and quietly closing the door behind me just before midnight.

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July 27, 2012

A Favorite Recipe and Some List-Making

Months ago, when nothing in this world could excite me more than asparagus, a riff on what you see above was my favorite spring dinner. At least once a week, I would buy a bundle of fat asparagus spears not knowing what I would do with it back at home. Often enough, it was this recipe, which comes together in moments. And now, by thinking of it as a template dinner, it’s become my favorite summer dinner for rushed evenings. This meal is a sweet marriage of pantry staples and fresh vegetables, and it’s reason enough for me to start keeping ricotta in the fridge.

And what, like asparagus, is exciting me these days? Tomatoes and cherries. My new bike. Cracking the spine on Freedom, loaned to me from a friend’s shelf. And also the idea floated to me the other night. I was talking about my recent resistance to gratitude, how sometimes we can say the things we’re grateful for and hear the words coming out of our mouths and still not feel the true weight of it in our bones. Fake it till you make it, some might say. But this particular friend of mine has a knack for giving all feelings––the sweet, joyful ones and the equally icky ones––room to breathe. And because I’m usually so drawn to fixes, her reminder to simply give what’s there the space to be gives me a kind of relaxed breathing room, too.

I made two lists the other day. The first, Things I Care About. The second, Things I Don’t. I was enormously entertained by the latter, which felt like throwing an ex-lover’s clothes out the window (or so I imagine). It’s a fun exercise, and one that I got Sebastian to join in the other night after dinner when our plates sat eaten clean on the coffee table. It’s amazing how much of what we don’t care about can find its way into our daily lives, creeping like a wall-climbing vine over a window. (And this from a woman who claims not to care about celebrities yet has a tabloid sitting on her bedside table next to said copy of Freedom.) But once you’ve made those lists, you can get right down to the important part: how can I get more of this first list into my day to day?

Cooking for people I love and sitting down at the table with them is on that first list. This recipe will get us part of the way there.

Happy weekend, friends. Feel free to cast off your Things I Don’t Care About in the comments. Trust me, it’s fun.

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January 11, 2012

Detox Recipes That Taste Really Good

After my usual holiday over-doing it, It feels good to board the healthy eating bandwagon. And while it’s probably not the best habit to bounce from extremes (steak, bourbon, gravy to kale, green tea, soup), it does make me very eager for the change. I was stuffed with cookies and cheese; it felt good to alter course.

And perhaps a little surprisingly, it tasted delicious. After my brother-in-law sent me a link to My New Roots, I started seeing this vibrant Danish blog mentioned everywhere. She designed the recipes below, and they’re wonderful.

One of the recurring questions among my friends is, “Why is it so hard to do what’s good for you?” Cause lord knows it usually is. But there’s also a kind of snowball effect once you get going with decisions that affect your well-being. When you feel good, you want to keep feeling good. You begin to even crave the habits that make you feel bright, content, and fluid.

Here’s an example: I spent this past weekend in the first part of an Anusara yoga immersion. Going in, I was a bit terrified of what six hours of yoga two days in a row would feel like. I should have been more concerned about returning to my desk Monday morning and sitting in a chair for eight hours. Come evening, I’d usually rather watch another rerun of Roseanne than put on yoga pants right before bed. But on Monday evening a few pre-bedtime twists was the right choice for me.

The ultimate challenge, I think, is getting from feeling bad, mired in habits, depressed, whatever the current stuckness may be, to finding a spark that can spur a new kind of decision. Many of us tend to force ourselves out of it, but a friend of mine takes a more gentle approach. A change can start with the smallest choice, she says, and we’ll bring it on when we’re ready. I find that comforting. We don’t need to strong arm ourselves into new habits or new eras; it’s not a matter of force, it’s a matter of ease. And when we’re ready we’ll know it. I read a section in a book last night on receptivity that seems fitting:

Receptivity is a practice many people find difficult, because we live in a culture that says things are accomplished primarily through doing. This attitude creates a bias toward knowing, planning, taking action, a kind of predatory attitude toward life––where we decide what we want, focus on it, and go for it at all costs. But how many of us have done this only to be dissatisfied with what we get?  ––The Practice of Wholeness

Being receptive seems to fit beautifully with back to basics and leaning into the life we have now: being open to ourselves, our thoughts, our sense of whimsy, being open to the world around us and the people and obstacles we meet each day, and being open to every joy, quirk, and marvel in the moment to moment moment of the everyday. “We may experience a sense of magic or serendipity––wherein events happen which fit our needs perfectly. Seemingly remarkable coincidences […] are the result of our receptivity.”

And so back to feeling good, and specifically these recipes. Please, dear heavens, don’t see these dishes or this post as an admonition. If anything, it’s an invitation to be receptive to where you are, wherever you are, right now. If they recipes appeal to your senses at this moment in time, I promise they’re both really lovely. And no one’s saying you can’t eat a little kale slaw before a nice steak, either.

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