Why is Chili’s at an airport so exciting? The steady flow of travelers, pilots mingling in the coffee line, those airport golf carts whizzing by. The 5-minute meal served in a red plastic basket – out in the real world this is known as “fast food” but in an airport it is simply “efficient”. In an airport it is forgivable that you pay $18 for a sandwich and soda because $18 is STEAL to not be sitting at your gate.
I have been traveling a lot for work lately, which makes my meals at home with the family all the more enjoyable. I am especially thrilled with my new cookbook Thug Kitchen, based on the popular vegan blog. If you don’t know this blog or cookbook, please indulge yourself. This week I made a super Creamy Peanut Slaw which I paired with soba noodles and tofu. My boys adore cold soba noodles more than spaghetti and marinara, more than pizza even. It’s like crack to them. So this recipe worked well for all of us.
CREAMY PEANUT SLAW
3 cups shredded red cabbage
3 cups shredded green cabbage
3 carrots, shredded
3 green onions, chopped
5 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1/2 inch ginger, peeled and finely diced
Shred your slaw ingredients in a food processor with a grater setting, or with a knife for larger chunks. Mix the peanut sauce ingredients in a small bowl until you get a thick, creamy consistency. Combine sauce with slaw in a large bowl. I recommend serving on top of buckwheat soba noodles, which only take 3 minutes to cook. One package of soba noodles can be tossed with one tablespoon sesame oil, one tablespoon of soy sauce, and one tablespoon of sesame seeds for a flavorful, hearty noodle dish that pairs well with any asian stir fry or cold salad dish. My photo may not be award-winning this week, but I can tell you this made a damn good work lunch.
My worst nightmare? The kids going to bed happy and early. Why? Because it’s too good to be true. Zonking out dazed and speaking tongues inevitably means that someone will be jarred awake with night terrors in two hours. And that they’ll be up at 4:00am ready to start the day. Let’s go! But I guess I’m willing to take that risk tonight because my husband and I would like one hour together. Without children. One wondrous hour watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine so we can mock the overacting and the spectacularly absurd plot twists. Like Major Kira having O’Brien’s baby because it got zapped from Keiko’s body in some interstellar battle. Whatever.
Tonight we enjoyed this cold zesty zippy pasta dish with whole wheat spaghetti, spicy fresh chopped garlic and a fresh lemon, parsley olive oil marinade. It comes from Vegetarian Times and could easily be made vegan without the Parmesan cheese. This dish paired with a side salad will last us the work week and only cost about $10 – not bad for a healthy dish that even my 4 year old enjoyed!
SPAGHETTI WITH LEMON AND TOASTED WALNUTS
1 cup walnut halves
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
2 tsp. grated organic lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
¾ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. spaghetti
1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F. Toast walnuts on baking sheet 10 minutes. Cool, and coarsely chop. Whisk together cheese, oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, and pepper in large bowl. Cook pasta according to package directions. Add drained pasta to cheese mixture, and toss to combine. Stir in parsley and walnuts, and season with salt and more pepper.
I’m not an advocate for complicated processes in the kitchen — and this requires a few steps more than what’s normal for me — but the hard work really pays off in this tantalizing Indian recipe of complex flavors and spices that truly makes your heart soar. It it based on a recipe from one of my favorite blogs Oh My Veggies, and requires a hand blender or food processor and a spice grinder or mortar and pestle if you are using whole seeds or cloves. But don’t be intimidated. Spice cooking is not like baking. You can add a little more turmeric here and a little less garlic there, you can skip an element all together, and your curry base will still take on a life of its own. This vindaloo concept might be life changing for you, as it was for me. I mean, who doesn’t want a Indian dish in their repertoire? All I’m saying is, buy some naan and make this.
1 small onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (15-ounce) package extra firm tofu cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup tomato paste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
Rice or naan, for serving
Place all of the vindaloo paste ingredients in a food processor or hand blender base and puree until it reaches a paste consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl or pitcher as needed. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the vegetable broth, tomato paste, vinegar and sugar. Set aside. Add the oil to a large saucepan over medium-high heat, cook tofu cubes for 10 minutes, flipping every 2 minutes or so, until it’s lightly browned. Push the tofu out to the sides of the of the saucepan, making a space in the center. Add the vindaloo paste to the center and heat for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the broth mixture and gently combine, then bring to a simmer and add the cauliflower, pepper and green beans. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Add up to 1/2 cup of water during cooking if sauce becomes too thick.