The next step in the never-ending quest to make work lunches interesting, I made up some spicy, crunchy, filling cold soba noodle salads. This past week’s incarnation was vegetarian, but you could toss in chicken or pork should you so desire.
One of the best things about this recipe is that it will last up to 5 days in your fridge and nothing goes soggy, assuming you don’t add something highly perishable like bean sprouts. That means you can prep a week’s worth of meals all at once and not have to think about it again til the weekend!
To make a less spicy version, cut the sambal oelek in half. Unlike the soup jars, you won’t add any liquid to these so the sauce won’t get watered down at all.
Makes 4 jars.
2 tb peanut butter
2 tb sambal oelek
4 ts soy sauce
3 ts rice wine vinegar
1/4 c olive oil
1 ts sesame oil
2 bundles soba noodles
1 sweet pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup corn
1 cup edamame
1 ts sesame seeds
1. In a small bowl, mix together the peanut butter, sambael oelek, soy sauce and rice win vinegar. Slowly add in the oil and whisk til smooth. Set aside.
2. Cook the soba noodles according to the package. Remove from water, rinse til the noodles are cold and lightly toss with sesame oil.
3. Spoon the sauce into the bottoms of the jars. Add in the noodles, peppers, carrots, corn and edamame. Top each with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
4. Close up the jars, toss ’em in the fridge and grab as needed for a tasty lunch.
Baby, it’s getting cold outside. What’s better than warming up with a spicy, sweet, comforting bowl of soup (perhaps accompanied by a glass of wine a cheese muffin)? This recipe is courtesy of Bon Appétit and it was a cinch to make. Chop, sauté, stir, blend. Ta da!
1/4 c butter
1lb carrots, peeled and chopped
1 onion, chopped
kosher salt and black pepper
2 c low-sodium chicken/vegetable broth
1 13oz can coconut milk
2 tb Thai chile sauce
handful cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots and onions and season with salt and pepper. Stirring often, cook until the carrots have softened, roughly 15-20 minutes.
2. Add the coconut milk, broth and chile sauce. Bring the whole concoction to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally. The liquid should have reduced some and the vegetables should be quite soft.
3. Let the soup cool a bit, then pureé until smooth. (You can use a standing blender, but I just used my hand blender…carefully.) Add a little water if you feel the soup needs to be thinned out.
4. Season with more salt, pepper and/or chile sauce if you like. Split into the bowls and top with cilantro if you’re using it.
Carrot Coconut Soup
With the weather taking a turn for the better, the desire to eat a little lighter has kicked in. These lettuce cups are a little bit labour intensive – nothing hard, just a lot of vegetable chopping – but they pack a lot of flavour in each bite. The sauce is salty and spicy; the filling is crunchy and satisfying. The recipe is very adaptable: you can make it vegetarian, spicier, milder, switch up the fillings, use tortillas instead of lettuce, etc. You can certainly substitute the pork for turkey, chicken or beef and use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge.
3 tb vegetable oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sweet peppers, diced
3 carrots, diced
handful mushrooms, chopped
1/2 bunch asparagus, diced
1 pkg ground pork
4 ts chili paste (I used sambal oelek)
2 tb fish sauce
2 ts brown sugar
juice of 3 limes, zest of 1 lime
1 head of butter lettuce, washed & separated
1 bunch of mint leaves, torn
1. Heat 1tb of oil in a large pan or a wok to medium-high heat. Add in the garlic and 2ts of chili paste. Sauté for 1 minute.
2. Add in the pork, onion, peppers and carrots. Break up the pork with a wooden spoon. Cook 5 minutes and then add in the mushrooms and asparagus. Cook 3-4 more minutes until the pork is no longer pink. Allow it to cool a bit.
3. In the meantime, whisk together the remaining oil, chili paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice & zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
4. Scoop the filling into the lettuce cups, then top with some sauce and garnish with mint. Should you like your food on the spicy side, you can also top with a little more chili paste or hot sauce.
I modified the original recipe from Bon Appétit to make it spicier and saucier. It also calls for chicken which would be tasty, but we were looking to make a vegetarian dish. Shrimp would also be excellent!
Serves 2 hungry people.
3 tb oyster sauce
2 tb chili garlic sauce
1.5 tb soy sauce
1 ts sugar
10 oz dried rice noodles
2 tb vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 yellow/orange bell pepper, cut into 1″ pieces
1 small onion, cut into 1″ pieces
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 egg, beaten
1. In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce and sugar.
2. Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir the noodles and cover the bowl for 4 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.
3. Heat a wok to medium heat and add the oil. Toss in the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add in peppers, onion and tomatoes and half the sauce. Toss to coat and cook 3-4 minutes until vegetables have softened.
4. Add the egg, noodles and the rest of the sauce. Toss constantly until the noodles and vegetables are completely coated. Serve and top with basil, if desired.
In order to balance out all of the baked goods that have somehow made their way into our house (what else was I supposed to do with the Nutella? Or with the knowledge that there’s a killer bakery 15 minutes from my house by foot), I have been looking for some healthy recipes to balance out the gluttony. I came across this quinoa and carrot salad my latest issue of Bon Appétit and decided it looked perfect! Not only could I make most of it ahead of time, I could make a large batch for leftovers.
I made a few changes to suit my own taste and am really happy with how it turned out. The carrots were sweet, the feta was salty and the pepper rings added some heat. (You can find the original recipe here.) It’s an adaptable recipe, so feel free to make your own changes and let me know how you liked it!
1 c quinoa, rinsed
1/2 onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tb apple cider
2 tb honey
2 ts finely grated lemon zest
1 tb fresh lemon juice
2 tb apple cider vinegar
5-10 pickled hot pepper rings, chopped
10 oz feta, crumbled
1 head Bibb or butter lettuce, leaves torn
1. Preheat your oven to 450F.
2. Boil 4 cups of salted water and add the quinoa. Cook 10-15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. Add in the onion and cook an additional minute. Drain and let stand 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Meanwhile, oil a foil-lined baking sheet for the carrots. In a medium bowl, whisk the apple cider and honey. Add in the carrots and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and place on the sheet. Roast for 15-20 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and cool.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Slowly add the 1/4 c olive oil and whisk til smooth to make a vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the carrots and hot peppers to the quinoa. Dress with most of the vinaigrette and stir to coat.
6. Place lettuce on a plate, scoop the salad on top and finish with the rest of the vinaigrette. Crumble feta on top.
Me: “So what do you feel like for dinner this weekend?”
J: “Chicken cacciatore.”
Me: “…wow. You were prepared for that question. OK – chicken cacciatore it is!”
I haven’t made this dish in years, but it was one of the first dishes I made by myself. To my recollection, it took me something like two hours to make it but it came out well and I was going to add it to my repertoire. Fast forward six years and I’m making it for…the second time. So many recipes, so little time!
Anyway, here’s the recipe I use. It’s a little spicy and very hearty – hope you enjoy!
6 chicken thighs
2 chicken breasts
1/2 c flour
salt & pepper
3 tb extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper, chopped
1 c mushrooms, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
3/4 c low-sodium chicken broth
2 ts dried oregano
2 ts chili flakes
1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess.
2. Heat the oil in a large pan – I used my dutch oven – to medium-high and brown the meat on all sides (roughly 5 minutes per side). You may need to do it in two batches if you can’t fit all the chicken in a single layer.
3. Remove the chicken from the pan and lower the heat to medium. Add in the garlic, onion, peppers and mushrooms and saute until the onions have softened. Add in the wine and let reduce for a few minutes.
4. Toss in the tomatoes with their juices, broth, oregano and chili flakes. Stir, then nestle the chicken pieces into the mixture so that they are covered. Bring to a simmer and then leave it alone for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the chicken from the pan and stir the sauce. Season to taste and then pour over the chicken pieces.
6. Serve over pasta, polenta or rice.
I’ve had a hankering for seafood lately and decided this would be a good weekend to make an old classic (mango over soba noodles) and try out a new variation on a sauce for tasty, briny mussels. Normally, I opt for either Italian or Thai flavours with mussels but I came across a can of chipotles and decided I’d go Latin instead.
That’s the great thing about mussels: you can pretty much use anything that inspires you to make a delicious dinner!
3 tb canola oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 c crushed tomatoes
2 chipotle peppers, diced
1 ts salt
1 ts black pepper
1 ts cumin
1 ts chili flakes
1/2 ts chili powder
1/2 ts oregano
2 lbs mussels, cleaned
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
1. In a large (and wide, if you have it) pot, heat the oil to medium and add the onion and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes.
2. Add in the tomatoes, chiptoles, salt, pepper, cumin, chili flakes, chili powder and oregano. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add in 3/4 of the cilantro. Taste and adjust as necessary. Simmer another 15 minutes.
4. Turn up the heat to medium and add in the mussels. Cover and let the mussels steam for 7-9 minutes. Shake the pot a couple of times, ensuring the lid stays on so no steam escapes.
5. Plate the mussels and sauce, discarding any mussels that did not open. Top with remaining cilantro and serve with crusty bread.
Mussels in Spicy Tomato Sauce