Meatless Monday: Asparagus “Noodles” with Pesto and Tomatoes

aspnoodles2Vegetable “noodles” are super popular right now. I am familiar with and appreciate the criticism – not a noodle is NOT A NOODLE. I’m not eating veggies as noodles because I’m under some delusion that they taste just like pasta. But I actually think they’re super fun to make and eat, and they’re usually pretty and can pair really nicely with a sauce because of the veg connection. But a certain person in this house has made it explicitly clear that the next time I try to serve him a zoodle (zucchini + noodle) he’ll walk out of the house to go get a taco with meat. But he only said this about zoodles, so I sneakily planned this dinner and didn’t tell him we’d be eating “noodles” (we can call them ribbons!) of asparagus instead of pasta. MWA HA HA!

I found the inspiration for this recipe on a blog I love and follow, Pinch of Yum. But because we go Meatless on Mondays, I modified it, removing the bacon (I know! Just because it’s Monday, I swear it!) and adding bright and juicy grape tomatoes. If you want the original, it’s right here. But my all-veg version sings of seasonal goodness and offers a bright, light, easy, and shockingly fast to make dinner — multiple servings of which were consumed BY ALL. Seriously. Here you go.aspnoodles4

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2lbs asparagus
* olive oil
* 1 small jar pesto sauce (or make your own – here‘s a great recipe!)
* 1/2 bag frozen peas
* 1pt grape tomatoes
* fresh Pecorino Romano to grate

WHAT TO DO
Wash and then trim both ends of the asparagus. Use a vegetable peeler to peel wide ribbons of the asparagus. As you go, it’ll reach a place where you can’t quite get the thin ribbon anymore – I discarded these pieces, but you could certainly chop them up and cook them into the dish, or use them in another meal on another night.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it glistens, add the asparagus in batches, tossing the ribbons of asparagus just enough to get them softened but not soggy. Just 30 seconds to a minute at most, tossing constantly. Add a tiny bit of oil for additional batches if needed.

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While this is going on, warm the pesto over medium low heat until heated through.

Move the asparagus ribbons to a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss gently to mix through.

Add the peas and tomatoes to the pan where you cooked the asparagus, still over medium heat. Add a bit more olive oil and a pinch of salt and cook until the tomatoes just blister and the peas thaw and warm – just two or three minutes is all it takes. Add the peas and tomatoes to the bowl with the asparagus and carefully mix them in.

Grate fresh Pecorino Romano over each serving and enjoy! MMMMMMMMM…

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Adult + Kid Blackberry Mint Juleps

Did you watch the Kentucky Derby this weekend? I *love* it. And I spent much of Sunday trying to pass along my limited horse racing knowledge to My Tiny Sous Chef in hopes she would get excited enough to want to watch together. This mainly involved reciting every horse’s name a minimum of 27 times and reminding her which color the jockeys were wearing. But we got in the spirit! And what would a Kentucky Derby party — even one that’s just you and your almost-5-year-old — be without mint juleps?? We decided to get fancy and also to make grown-up and kiddie versions of our concoction. And they came out good enough to share. Though I’ll admit I need to work on my cocktail photography. Apologies in advance. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDbermintju4
for both
* 1 pint blackberries
* 1-2T water

adult version
* 2T simple syrup
* 4-6 mint leaves, torn, plus extra for garnish
* 1.5-2oz bourbon
* tonic water
* ice cubes

kiddie version
* 1T simple syrup
* 2-4 mint leaves, torn, plus extra for garnish
* tonic water
* ice cubes

WHAT TO DO
Start by making your simple syrup. It’s just equal parts sugar and water (start with a few tablespoons of each and if you need more, make more – if you have more than you need, just store it in the fridge for your next cocktail!). Bring the water to a boil, stirring constantly until the sugar is fully dissolved. Then simmer 2-3 minutes. Allow it to cool while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

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Make a quick blackberry puree. Pour the whole pint of berries into the blender with the water and blend on high until smooth. Strain the puree over a glass or bowl through a mesh strainer, using the back of a spoon to help mash down all the bits and push the liquid through.

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To make the adult version, first add the torn mint leaves and the simple syrup to your glass and muddle gently. If you don’t have a muddler (I do not, it turns out), just use the back side of a spoon. Be gentle, though. You want to release the oils from the leaves, not smash it all up.

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Add the bourbon and blackberry puree and stir gently to combine. Add a splash of tonic water and stir again. Finally, add ice cubes and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Cheers!

For the kiddie version, start the same way. Muddle your mint leaves gently with the simple syrup. Add the blackberry puree and tonic water and stir gently to combine. Again, add a few ice cubes and garnish with mint leaves. Don’t forget to clink glasses/cups!

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So did your horse win? Ours didn’t even place. We still loved every second of those two minutes, though!

Meatless Monday: Red Curry with Vegetables

Some of you may recall when I first made this curry dish and couldn’t stop talking about it or how crazy easy it turns out curry-making is. You could say it sent me racing down a curry-making rabbit hole. Curry-based anything – I love it. It really is unbelievably easy to make, and as a bonus, your kitchen/home almost instantly fill with amazing smells. Still, in spite of my curry fascination, I’ve mostly stuck to similar dishes that use either a yellow curry or a basic coconut curry. This introduced a new flavor profile to my at-home recipe Rolodex (extra points for outdated cultural references right?!), and is beautiful and full of color, flavor, and good smells. This recipe has a little hint of a bite to it, as red curries can, so if serving to littles like me, I strongly recommend having additional coconut milk on-hand to mix into their bowls to temper the punch. “A little spicy” aside, this was a delightful Meatless Monday victory, and you should totally try it. If the all-veg version isn’t enough for you, any protein would work beautifully with these flavors. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEEDredcurry2
* 1T coconut oil
* 1 sweet onion, rough chopped
* salt
* 1T grated fresh ginger (about an inch or so of ginger root), or ginger paste
* 2t minced garlic
* 1 bell pepper (any color), julienned
* 3 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
* 5oz sliced button mushrooms
* 2T red curry paste
* 14oz can coconut milk (plus extra for smaller eaters’ bowls)
* 1/2C water
* 5oz bag baby spinach
* 1 1/2t raw (aka turbinado) sugar
* 1T low-sodium soy sauce
* 1t rice vinegar (if you don’t have rice vinegar, add the juice of a second lime)
* juice of 1 lime
* for garnishing: lime wedges and a handful of fresh basil cut into thin strips

WHAT TO DO
Heat a wok or large, high-sided pan over medium heat, then add the coconut oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and saute for 3-4 minutes, mixing frequently, until they soften and become translucent. Add the ginger and the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly, until all the aromatics are released (bonus perk: your sinuses are now also cleared!).

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Add the pepper, carrots, and mushrooms and cook about 4 minutes, until the crunchy veggies begin to soften, stirring occasionally. Then add the curry paste and stir through for about 2 minutes.

Now add the coconut milk, water, spinach, and sugar. Stir to combine and simmer gently for about 10 minutes.

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Remove the pan from the heat. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and another pinch of salt. Stir to mix through, and then taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve over rice and garnish with some fresh basil and a wedge of lime. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate how amazing your home smells while you’re at it!