Given my great love of restaurants and their hardly healthful fare, it’s really important that my meals at home provide nutrients that otherwise go missing from my diet. Whenever I’m not painting the town red, I prepare recipes that make tasty use of whole grains, legumes, and vegetables. My subscription to Cooking Light magazine has been a great source of inspiration, and of course, the internet is chock full of solid ideas on how to balance the excess in my life.
The majority of the healthy dishes that I prepare serve their nutritional purpose and taste mostly decent, but they’re usually not outstanding enough to be featured on the site. This vegetarian three bean chili is a rare exception. In addition to being a fiberfull powerhouse, this meatless stew is also immensely satisfying. The heat from the chipotles combined with the smoky chili powder makes for an exciting and spicy flavor profile. The trio of beans provide just enough heft to fill one up nicely. Paired with some old fashioned cornbread, it’s impossible to feel deprived when one is eating this well.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 onions, chopped fine
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1/4 cup chili powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- 2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced
- 4 (15.5 ounce) cans of kidney, pinto, or black beans, rinsed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, bell pepper, chili powder, and cumin. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 15 seconds.
Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, water, chilies, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
Continue reading ‘America’s Test Kitchen Vegetarian Chili’
In early September, the Astronomer and I spent a week in Boston visiting friends and family. Whereas our previous travels were centered around eating and lots of it, this trip was about reconnecting with loved ones whom we don’t get to see nearly enough. While this trip wasn’t as food-centric as those in the past, we still managed to eat very well. After all, catching up with old friends is best accomplished over a long and delicious meal.
One of our most memorable dinners was eaten street side at the Clover Food Lab, a bright white vegetarian food truck parked on MIT‘s campus. The truck was founded by MIT graduate Ayr Muir. After earning an MBA from Harvard, he worked in marketing at Patagonia and as a consultant with McKinsey and Company. In 2008, he decided to leave the corporate world behind for new challenges in the culinary field.
To make his dream a reality, Muir teamed up with Chef Rolando Robledo (@RolandoRobledo), a one-time poissonnier under Thomas Keller at The French Laundry and an instructor at Johnson & Wales University. Together, they created a temporary “food lab” out of a truck to test recipes for a soon-to-be launched chain of vegetarian restaurants. The truck opened for business on MIT’s food lot in September of 2008 and closed down seven weeks later as planned. However, customer protests made the two reconsider their initial plan. The truck reopened in March 2009, and they have since expanded to two trucks.
By the way, I read in an article on MIT’s campus news site that the truck’s exterior pays homage to Muir’s MIT past. It features a dry-erase board menu, which Muir says reminds him of the problem sets he faced as a student. I ♥ nerds.
The Clover truck, which runs on biodiesel (a fuel made from used vegetable oil), serves moderately healthy, meat-less fast food fare with a focus on seasonality and locality.
Continue reading ‘Clover Food Lab – Boston (Cambridge)’
The Astronomer and I were gifted a 20 inch-long, five pound zucchini from our friends Andrew and Miri a few weeks back. They had forgotten to pluck it from their garden prior to leaving on vacation, and as a result, the zucchini grew without bounds for weeks on end. I had initially hoped to bake several loaves of zucchini bread with the monstrosity, but my plans were squashed (pun intended) once the heat wave hit.
After a bit of Seoul searching, I decided to make Hobak Jeon (Korean Zucchini Pancakes) instead. This recipe was originally developed by Maangchi.com, the ultimate Korean recipe site. I followed it as written and the results were just as I had hoped. The texture was properly crisp around the edges, while the batter was mild enough for the zucchini to shine through. Maangchi recommends serving these with a soy-based Korean dipping sauce (recipe below), but I quite loved them with a ladle of nước chấm chay. Either way, these pancakes are a savory delight.
- 1½ cups zucchini, julienned (approximately 1 small zucchini)
- ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup water
- Sesame oil
- Vegetable oil
This is the giant zucchini that Andrew and Miri’s garden produced. The soil in Eagle Rock must be fortified with steroids.
Begin by julienning a small zucchini.
Continue reading ‘Hobak Jeon – Korean Zucchini Pancakes’
Last month when I traveled down to San Diego to visit family, my aunt sent me home with a generous tub of bi chay (a vegetarian version of a very porky dish) and verbal instructions on how to prepare its accompanying sauce (nước chấm chay). I was a little nervous about making nước chấm chay with neither my mother nor my aunt supervising, but with some peer assistance from Tam of A Little Bit Burnt, it turned out well-balanced and very delicious.
After I polished off the bi chay, I used some of the leftover sauce to saute green beans and on a different occasion, to stir fry noodles. The best pairing though was with the hobak jeon (Korean zucchini pancakes). It’s really impressive how versatile this spicy, sweet, and tangy sauce is. After such a terrific first batch, I soon whipped up another because I love the way it brightens up every dish it’s paired with.
- 1/2 cup soy-based seasoning sauce (like Golden Mountain)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 1/4 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 limes, freshly squeezed
- 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 teaspoons chili paste or finely chopped fresh or dried chilies
Dilute the sugar with hot water and set aside to cool. Once it is cooled, add the vinegar, lime juice, and soy sauce. Lastly, mix in the garlic and chilies.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed: If the sauce tastes too concentrated, dilute with a little water. If it tastes too sweet, add more lime juice or vinegar, then add soy sauce to balance. If it tastes too sour, add a little more sugar and soy sauce, and a bit of water to balance.
[For Printable Recipe Click Here]