As I mentioned in my post a few weeks ago, I recently rediscovered the wonders of couscous. I became a little obsessed with it actually — I researched all kinds of varieties to see what new things I could play with. I fixated on tri-color pearl (aka Israeli) couscous. It just looks so beautiful on a plate! It’s like the couscous is its own adornment. Unfortunately for me, they didn’t seem to have any Israeli couscous in my local grocery store. I suppose I could have gotten it at another shop, but frankly, I am too cheap and lazy to shop anyplace else. I took it as a sign and tried to put the couscous out of my mind.
But one day, several weeks after the onset of my obsession, it revealed itself to me: tri-color pearl couscous in my regular grocery store, for under 3.50 a pound. I combined some of my favorite flavors — coconut, cilantro, and citrus — to celebrate my find.
This coconut couscous is lightly nutty and bright, fragrant with cilantro, garlic, and lime. To keep the calories and fat low, I used an unsweetened blend of almond milk and coconut milk instead of pure coconut milk. It works beautifully in this dish. If you can’t find coconut-almond milk, feel free to use a blend of coconut milk and water instead.
The coconut couscous is a great side for just about anything. Try pairing it with marinated grilled flank steak, garlic shrimp, or skewered chicken and vegetables. Read more… →
I first had lotus root at a great little Korean restaurant in town. I had no idea what it was. My first thought? “…This may or may not be a cross section of ET’s pancreas.” Once I got over the initial shock, I began to appreciate the beauty of the plate. I took my first bite and was instantly hooked: the lotus root was delicious. It was tender and slightly sticky, simmered in soy sauce and something sweet. I’m still working out how to replicate that dish. During the course of my many (many, many) experimentations, I’ve found that lotus root makes a fantastic baked chip.
Lotus root is starchy — not unlike a potato, actually. After a quick, tenderizing boil in water and vinegar, I give the lotus root the same treatment I would give oven-cooked spuds. I grab a few of my favorite spices, season the lotus root liberally, and toss them in a hot oven. This simple process yields a lovely, flavorful snack. The baked lotus root chips are crisp at the edges and tender in the middle, a little chewy throughout. I like to eat them with a little bit of spicy-sweet gochujang on the side.
I usually use my favorite seasoning trio of chili, garlic, and onion powders, but you can change the flavors in a million different ways. The lotus root works beautifully with just about anything. Try it with garam masala for an Indian flair; for a Latin touch, try adobo or a mix of cumin, garlic, and parsley. If you like spicy North African flavors, harissa is a great choice.
Detailed instructions after the jump!
Read more… →
My mom only recently showed me how to make pancit. I always thought it was a slightly mysterious, mystical dish for some reason. Turns out pancit is actually quite simple to make — the one trick is making sure not to overcook the delicate rice stick noodles. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that today.
Why? Because my version dispenses with the rice stick noodles altogether, calling for tofu shirataki noodles instead. That means this pancit (already a virtuous dish) is unbelievably low in calories and carbohydrates. A huge serving comes in under 200 calories!
Pancit is a little prep-intensive. It takes a few minutes to get all the vegetables chopped and ready. However, once the cutting is done and the actual cooking begins, pancit comes together quickly and easily. Its flavors are simple and comforting: garlic and onion, soy sauce, and bright lemon.
Pancit is perfect for potlucks or parties — it’s easy to make in bulk and adapt to all kinds of tastes. I used chicken here, but you can make yours with shrimp, pork, or just vegetables if you like. You can also use the traditional rice stick noodles instead of the shirataki if you prefer. Just look for the alternate instructions at the bottom of the recipe.
Keep reading to learn how to put this pancit together!
Read more… →
I have some version of this strawberry salad for lunch almost every day. I love salads like this for a couple of reasons.
1. Size matters: This thing is ENORMOUS. It’s not some piddling side salad that will leave you feeling even hungrier than you were before you ate. This is a salad mountain, my friends. After this meal, you’ll feeling full and satisfied — not deprived.
2. Looks matter too: Honestly, what a gorgeous meal. You’ll get compliments on it, I promise. And guess what? Those colorful veggies aren’t just pretty. All those beautiful colors mean nutrients. This strawberry salad will do nothing but good things for you.
3. Simple and convenient: Like I said earlier, I make a salad like this for lunch every day. I’m a working woman, so that means I have to make it travel. It’s super easy. In the morning, I toss the dressing ingredients together in a little bottle. I put the mixed greens in one container and the chopped vegetables in another. Done and done. When I get hungry, I plate it. It doesn’t get much easier (or cheaper!) than that.
I really like this version because the strawberries and chopped almonds make the salad just a little bit special. In spite of the cold weather, it makes me feel like spring is just around the corner. The lemon-basil dressing is the perfect complement to the flavors of the salad. It’s bright and clean and subtly sweet — just the thing for those juicy strawberries.
Here’s the recipe. Read more… →
So I don’t know if you heard, but *apparently* there’s this big winter storm that’s hitting the Northeast tonight. Setting aside the (very real) dangers to life and property, I don’t mind storms. I’m a homebody by nature, so I love any opportunity to cozy up with wine and a good book. If it’s a winter storm, all the better — that just means I get to make soup.
This five-spice beef noodle soup is my lazy-woman’s take on pho. Most of the quintessential pho flavors (ha) are there, but the cooking time is much shorter. Another reason to get excited about this dish? I’m finally getting on the shirataki train. Shirataki noodles are made from yam flour, sometimes tofu, and water. Since the noodles are comprised almost completely of fiber, they’re basically calorie-free. They work perfectly in Asian dishes like this beef noodle soup. If you can’t find shirataki noodles or don’t care for their gelatinous texture, you can use any other noodle you like — just know that it will increase the calorie count per bowl.
The broth is infused with the warm aromas of Vietnamese five-spice: star anise, fennel, coriander, cinnamon, and cloves. Dried mushrooms add depth and earthiness to the soup for an extra-hearty flavor that complements the beef perfectly. Bonus? This soup is phenomenally nutritious — it’s low in calories (under 100 per bowl), low in fat, and high in protein.
Here’s how to put this pho-inspired beef noodle soup together. Read more… →