Here comes the Broccoli

Since I don't generally cook vegetarian food, I've been trolling the internet looking for vegetarian recipes which meet my discerning criteria: 

a) is not trying to make vegetables into meat. meat is meat, vegetables are vegetables, can't we just leave them be?

b) healthy. I'm detoxing so it should be easy on the butter, cheese, and fat. Oh yeah, and ideally using whole grains 
c) delicious

Despite perusing tons of vegan/vegetarian blogs you'd be surprised how few vegetarian recipes there are that meet this description! But I can always trust Smitten Kitchen (one of my fav blogs!) to have great mouth watering recipes, and I decided to adapt her broccoli pesto recipe for tonight's dinner.

This recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 pound broccoli

2 handfuls of rocket/arugula (washed)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, julienned
2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon table salt
Freshly ground black pepper 

handful of pine nuts
1/2 of shaved parmesan
1/2 pound dried whole wheat spaghetti

1. Trim the stem off the broccoli and peel the rough bits, cut into pieces. Trim the broccoli florets into similar sized bits. (yes, I know I'm starting to sound British)

2. In a small saucepan on medium heat, sauce onion and garlic until softened. 

3. Blanch broccoli florets and stems in salted boiling water. Drain and rinse 

with cold water.

4. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente and then drain. 

5. In a food processor, in small batches pulse together broccoli, rocket/arugula, onion, garlic, pine nuts and parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and add olive oil as needed to help combine. Blend until pesto-like consistency. 

6. In a large bowl, mix together pasta and pesto and then plate. Garnish with more parmesan 

Good Olde Asian Stir Fry

I've been going through Asian food withdrawal since leaving Toronto (where I was spoiled with days of home cooked Asian food, thanks to Mama Tran), so decided to do a basic Asian stir fry using the contents of my kitchen. Here's my detox vegetarian stir fry:

1 package of rice vermicelli
1/2 cup of dried chinese mushrooms
handful of green beans
handful of tenderstem broccoli 
1 onion, julienne
2 cloves of garlic, mince
1 green onion, chopped
1 Tbsp of vegetable oil
cilantro & mint 

4 Tbsp of oyster sauce
1 Tbsp of soy sauce
1 Tbsp of chili garlic sauce

1. Rinse the dried mushrooms well and then soak in hot water for 10-20 minutes. Dry on a paper towel. 

2. In a pot of salted water, blanch broccoli and beans. Drain and set aside. 

3. In a large pot, bring water to boil. Cook vermicelli for 6-8 minutes and then rinse and drain well.

4. Julienne onion, green onion and mince garlic. Take the mint and cilantro and give it a rough chop and set aside for garnishing. Now you're ready to finish off the dish

5. Heat a large pan or wok on high heat, add oil and saute onions, mushrooms and garlic together, until softened. Add sauce ingredients, oyster sauce, soy sauce and chilli garlic. Add cooked vermicelli, beans and broccoli, toss until well combined. Garnish with chopped mint and cilantro.

Verdict: this was fast, from start to finish took 20 minutes (excluding the hydrating the mushrooms part). Next time think I will add some bean sprouts and carrots just to add some more texture and colour to the dish. This is an easy dish to meat-ify as well, the BF opted to add some grilled beef, but pork, chicken and shellfish would all work.

Post Food Extravaganza...detox

I've been away from London on a food tour of Montreal, New York and Toronto, to do some food research and get some new culinary inspiration (yes, yes, it's a tough life). I can honestly say that after a month of eating like it could be my last meal, my body is officially starting to rebel against me. The first omen was when I walked away from a street food truck in Toronto offering free poutine tasting....clearly if my stomach could not be enticed by free poutine, something was wrong. So I vowed once I returned to London, that I would do a little detox and eat slightly healthier, but still delicious food. Also, I've been reading up on vegetarian food and thought this would be a great chance to out some vegetarian recipes! 

Day One of Detox

After a trip to the East Street Market, picked up some lovely fresh herbs and veggies and decided to do a Morrocan Style Nicoise Salad. 

1 Avocado
2 Tomatoes (or sun dried tomatoes)
2 Eggs
1 Green Onion
1 Pomegranate
Handful of French Beans or Green Beans
1 Bag of your fav leafy salad greens
1/2 jar of Morrocan Black Olives Za'atar (Middle Eastern Spice Mix of salt, sumac, sesame seeds and spices) 
Some Mint 
Some Cilantro

1 Lemon1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard3-4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove of garlic 

*FYI - if you don't want to make your own dressing, you can omit the lemon, dijon and olive oil bit and just use a good quality olive oil dressing, but making dressing is super easy. In fact the BF can even make it, that's all I'm saying*

Now, the key to cooking is to be organized. The salad from start to finish took me about 20 minutes and that includes me deciding to roast my tomatoes in the oven to be fancy (if case you are feeling adventurous - cut tomatoes, slather in olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh thyme, garlic and oregano and bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes. 

1. In a small pot, add two eggs and cover with water. Cook on high heat. I like my eggs runny, so I bring the water to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 3-4 minutes. At the same time put a small pot of salted water to blanch your green beans. 

2. Ah..Pomegranates, they are delicious but a bit tricky to get out. But a fellow chef taught me this trick to prevent the seeds from flying everywhere - cut it in half and submerge in water, in a large bowl. Then you can use your fingers or a spoon to de-seed them. 

3. Blanch the green beans, cook for a minute or until desired (I like my green beans al dente) and then drain and rinse in cold water. 

4. Cut avocado ,tomato and green onion as desired, I just diced the avocado and julienned the green onion. Chiffonade (fancy kitchen speak for cut up finely) the mint and cilantro.

5. Prepare dressing. Mince garlic clove, put into a small container with a lid. Add mustard, olive oil and 1/4 of the lemon squeezed (hold the seeds). Shake with vigor until emulsified. Yup easy, right. 

6. Assemble salad and eat. 

Conclusion - I love vegetarian food when it is fresh and flavourful and not trying to be meat.