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Vegetarian

Call it zacusca, ajvar, relish, dip, or any other way you like: Its real name is delicious!

Looking for a recipe to make on Game Day? Look no further, I have what you need! This is an appetizer I ate a lot as a child, and I love eating it today with my family. We call it zacusca, but you will find it in other Eastern European cuisines under the name of ajvar. This light, low calorie dish is a bit time-consuming, yet also unbelievably easy to make: it’s a a delicious concoction of open-fire roasted eggplant and bell peppers and oven-roasted tomatoes, with extra helpings of crushed tomatoes. It’s aromatic, wholesome, and truly addictive in its simplicity. My daughter loves to eat zacusca on fresh bread, and her hands and smiling face smeared with this colorful spread are truly a vision of happiness 🙂 Make this at home instead of buying it from the grocery store, and you will not be disappointed! Keep Reading

Three mushroom & watercress sandwich: a super-nutritious vegetarian option for the cold winter months

Now that the holidays are over, we are back to our usual routine in the kitchen. No more batches of cookies baked in excessive numbers, no more turkeys or steaks served alongside generous portions of creamy, buttery carb-laden goodness. It’s a new year and time to eat lighter – and since it’s winter, it’s also time to eat as nutritiously as possible 😉

The sandwich below is perfect this season because it has key ingredients to build up energy and to replenish lost vitamins and minerals. It’s vegetarian and protein-packed, with proteins coming from several kinds of mushrooms: cremini, portobello (mature cremini mushrooms), and shiitake. It also has watercress, which should come as no surprise to you if you’ve been following this blog for awhile and have read my previous posts about watercress and my love for this rather underutilized veggie. Packed full of nutrients and easy to digest, watercress has a slightly peppery taste, which makes it the ideal partner to the robust mushroom flavor. Add a few sprigs of young asparagus, and you have the perfect light lunch or dinner option – all homemade and delicious!

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Grilled veggie sandwich: celebrating the end of summer with two secret ingredients to match :-)

Keeping the family happy and well-fed this summer has been easy thanks to a marvelous piece of technology: the grill! We bought our first outdoor grill back in June, and now we finally know what we’ve been missing out on. Grilling outdoors has made our weekends memorable, and our journey through charred flavors has been exciting and rewarding. Gone are the days of using a grill pan for our grilling needs. It’s grill pan out (for now), outdoor grill in! 🙂

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Calendula summer salad: make it now, love it forever!

What’s the first thing you do when you are bitten by mosquitoes? I don’t know about you, but I immediately cover the affected skin area with calendula cream. Indeed, calendula (also called pot marigold) has been my family’s go-to option for minor scrapes and bruises for as long as I can remember. Nowadays, I use calendula cream to moisturize and treat my daughter’s skin. Such was the case yesterday, for instance, when she was bitten by mosquitoes during our usual walk in the park.

In 2008, calendula was named Herb of the Year by the International Herb Association, an official recognition of the exceptional healing properties and culinary value of this plant. You read that right: culinary value. The petals of calendula flowers can be eaten raw (in salads) or cooked (in soups and stews). To satisfy my family’s appetite for fresh summery dishes, I recently used calendula petals as an ingredient in the salad pictured above. The tangy, peppery taste of the petals made this a summer salad like no other – a salad packed with layer upon layer of flavor, a great lunch option for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Here’s a salad to remember 🙂

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When life gives you eggplants, you make an eggplant & sweet pepper panino!

Today, post #2 covering my Pure Flavor veggie cooking bonanza, where I highlight the taste and versatility of eggplants. I’m so excited to be writing about good, nutritious food!

I had a colorful assortment of Pure Flavor baby eggplants and I immediately thought I should use them to make my family’s version of baba ghanoush, one of the oldest recipes ever posted on this blog. In the end however, I decided to push myself a little harder (lol) and after some thinking and experimentation I came up with this vegetarian panino recipe, in which I married the gorgeous eggplants pictured below with the Pure Flavor Aurora Sweets peppers.  More on these peppers will be revealed in my upcoming veggie post #3 (hint, hint!) Keep Reading

Gochujang tuna salad: the story of our love for Korean chili paste!

There’s something brewing in this house: a gochujang obsession! I’ve been a fan of this staple of Korean cuisine ever since I attended The Good Taste Series culinary competition last year, where I tasted gochujang BBQ bison tenderloin – and I’ve been nice enough to pass my obsession over to the other members of my household!

I’m not a big fan of spicy foods. However, when it comes to gochujang, it was simply love at first bite. I find its spiciness so sophisticated and rich, and its color so vibrant. Like a cave of hidden treasures, once you try gochujang-steeped dishes, flavors come to you in quick succession. The first impression is mild, but then you’re taken by surprise by an avalanche of perpetual spiciness, and your mouth tastes old foods reinvented pretty much single-handedly by this miraculous ingredient. I found so much inspiration in gochujang – and I think I have so much to learn. 🙂

The recipe below is the end result of a series of “gochujang experiments” I have conducted lately. I was looking for a way to “rejuvenate” our seafood dishes, and marinating the fish in gochujang was a big hit with my family. Keep Reading

Our carb-laden Super Bowl: It’s time for oyster mushroom pasta salad!

It all started with a question: What to make with king oyster mushrooms? With their superb elongated shapes and meaty appearance, these humongous mushrooms enticed me the moment I saw them on the shelves of the local Korean grocery store. It was an impulse purchase, and a day after I bought them I started regretting it. With no ideas in sight and hardly any time to plan and to execute a recipe, why, oh why had I bought these mushrooms in the first place? Still, I was determined not to let them go to waste, and in the end I decided to make something quick and flavorful – perfect for those long winter evenings when you’re not into cooking something fancy. “Let’s get real,” I said to myself – and pasta salad it was! 🙂

This dish is good for a Super Bowl party because it is carb-satisfying, keeps hunger at bay, and requires very little preparation. Keep Reading