Friday, April 30, 2010

like a well tuned instrument

So, last night I took another go-around with making Monk Bowls from 30 Minute Vegan.  I also made the Tahini Mustard Dressing from another part of the book.  I'm not a big fan of mustard at all, but since it was actually one of the smallest quantities in the ingredient list, I figured I was pretty safe.  It was a unique, surprising, and very tasty sauce, once you adjusted to....something.  Honestly, I'm still not sure what.  There is an unexpected tanginess which probably comes from the vinegar, but the tahini (sesame paste, for the uninitiated) has a stronger flavor than I anticipated.  By the way - does anyone know if you have to refrigerate tahini after you open it?  Mine is still sitting in the cupboard at room temperature, so if I need to move it, please tell me sooner than later!

Anyway, this adventure with the Monk Bowls ended up being a far more harmonious experience than the first one, which I had expected.  I made it a lot easier on myself.  I re-steamed some of the Coconut Rice that was leftover from our Jerk Seitan dinner in place of the quinoa in the recipe.  I am somewhat ambivalent about quinoa, but Mister straight up hates it, so I usually avoid it if I can.  I also used frozen vegetables because I thought I was slick.  Maybe I was, but being slick does not always result in making tasty food.  When I was at Whole Foods, I picked up the "California Organic Blend" of frozen vegetables - how could I go wrong with broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots?

I think the combination of little bitty ice crystals on the surface of the frozen veggies and the method of cooking (steaming) might have been to blame for the waterlogged nature of my vegetables.  They weren't horrible, but I think it was a mistake to make that shortcut and I won't do it in the future.  It really doesn't take long enough to chop 8 cups worth of fresh vegetables to make it worth sacrificing flavor and texture for the ease of just cutting open a bag of mixed frozen vegetables, especially when so many good things are coming into season soon!

I had intended to make the last meal on our menu, Pasta with Beans and Chard for dinner tonight, but Mister's belly wasn't behaving so he didn't want to eat.  I actually didn't mind, because I wasn't in the mood for pasta.  I also was not in the mood for the few bites of rotting leftovers still in the fridge, so I poked around my cabinets and the freezer to see what I could muster.  It didn't take long for an idea to form in my head. 

I missed One-Serving Wednesday this week because I was out with a colleague, drinking Malbec and eating hummus.  Oh, by the way - there is no faster way to dehydrate yourself, in case you were wondering.  Anyway, when I'm cooking for just me, I make my best attempts to cook food Mister wouldn't eat but I like, so I decided to make myself a little risotto.  My recipe (shared below the picture) makes enough for one large or two smaller appropriate portions, but you could very easily double or triple the recipe to accommodate dinner guests (and I would be flattered as heck if you not only made this, but also served it to people you care about!):

Pea & Pepper Risotto
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup arborio rice
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Earth Balance margarine, divided
the juice of half a lemon
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 tsp dried organic basil (using organic makes a huge difference here)
1/4 tsp sea salt
dash or two of ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped roasted red peppers
1/3 cup frozen peas

In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil.  Add rice, cover, and lower heat as low as possible.  Simmer about 15 minutes, stirring 2-3 times, then remove from heat - the liquid will not be fully absorbed.

Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbsp Earth Balance in a large skillet, swirling pan to coat evenly.  Lower heat to medium-low and add garlic.  Saute 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Stir in chopped peppers and cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.  Sprinkle on basil, salt, and pepper, then stir in peas.  Cook, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.  Stir in rice and cook on low heat until liquid is almost absorbed.  Stir in lemon juice and 1 tsp Earth Balance and cook, stirring constantly, until all liquid is absorbed, about 3-5 minutes.

Start to finish, the recipe probably takes about a half an hour and it's very tasty.  Arborio is quick-cooking and has a very toothsome texture, unlike lighter rices like Jasmine or Basmati.  It really hit the spot for me and took very little effort to prepare.  Enjoy!


  1. Girl, You ARE going to want to put that tahini in the fridge!

    If you're cooking out of Urban Vegan soon, make the Pain Perdu--it is delicious! Breakfast for dinner is always a winner in my house.

  2. Jackie - thanks for letting me know about the tahini - I moved it right after I got your comment. I agree that the Pain Perdu sounds phenomenal...unfortunately, the Mister doesn't like french toast...perhaps I'll try it on "one-serving" wednesday and just have leftovers for breakfast.