Tangy Avocado Pasta Salad
This summer dish is everything you want in a pasta salad and nothing you don’t! There is nothing heavy in this one; no cheese and no mayo. Ripe avocados coat the pasta, arugula, and tomatoes; creating a creamy yet healthy dressing. It delicious both warm or chilled.
1 package of bowtie pasta (or rotini etc)
3 very ripe avocados
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
generous pour of olive oil, to combine
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
1 package of arugula
pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste
This salad is very quick to assemble, so first get your salted water boiling and your pasta cooking according to package directions. While it boils, mash up the avocados in a large bowl along with the lemon juice and red pepper flakes and set aside. Don’t worry too much about the texture yet.
Cut the tomatoes in half and set aside.
Once the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and add it immediately to the large bowl containing the dressing. The hot starchy water that clings to the pasta will help combine the dressing. Drizzle olive oil over the dish as you combine.
Finally, fold in the tomatoes and arugula, and add S&P to taste. Serve hot or chilled for the perfect summer meal.
Fool Proof Pan Fried Tofu & Perfect Teriyaki Sauce
Tofu can be tricky when you first start to experiment with it. But when you learn a few basics, tofu can become a staple in your kitchen. I have perfected a pan frying method to get golden brown crispy tofu that never fails.
This post is more to share a technique than to share a specific recipe. So serve this tofu with any sauce, vegetable, and grain you have on hand. I chose a teriyaki that bubbles in the pan with the tofu and ends up lightly caramelizing the tofu. YUM!
Follow these three guidelines, and your bland tofu days will be over!
FIRST- when dealing with tofu, it is important to press it for an extended amount of time in order to get the excess water (and therefore the watery, yucky texture) out of the tofu.
1- Wrap the tofu in paper towel (to keep fuzzy bits of kitchen towel from sticking to it)
2- Wrap in a kitchen towel (to absorb all the excess water)
3- Put something heavy on top. I use a large skillet, but anything will do.
4- WAIT… for at least 20 minutes. But you can start it pressing in the morning and let is go all day. You can press it in the fridge so that it is ready for you to cook with in the evening.
SECOND- Cook the tofu on high heat in a seriously non-stick pan.
1- Get a skillet, frying pan, or wok preheating over high heat.
2- Cut the tofu into whatever size pieces work for the dish you are creating.
3- Add oil to the pan. Vegetable oil is best since it does not easily burn.
4- Wait for the oil to heat up. When you add the tofu it should immediately sizzle.
5- Brown on each side. Depending on how hot your pan is it should take about 4 minutes on each side.
THIRD- Flavorful sauce is a must for tasty tofu. I have a few different favorites. Here is the recipe for one of my favorite, PERFECT TERIYAKI.
1 cup low sodium soy sauce (if you don’t have low sodium use 1/2 water, 1/2 soy sauce- otherwise the salt will overpower all the other flavors)
1/2 cup mirin (sweetened rice wine)
3 tbs sugar
-optional: splash of OJ, zest of lemon/lime/orange, 1 tsp of red pepper flakes-
Add this after the tofu is browned and allow is to bubble in the pan. It will reduce a little bit and caramelize slightly. The flavor is amazing and so much better than store bought teriyaki.
Cook’s Notes: This recipe uses one block of tofu which serves 2 people. The teriyaki recipe makes quite a bit of sauce. The extra can be drizzled over the vegetable and grain you serve alongside the tofu.
Click on the pictures for a description.
Everyday Daal (Lentils)
This easy pantry meal uses Indian spices to create an exciting twist on the common lentil. I use red lentils, but any lentil variety will do. Once you build up your spice cabinet (it’s so worth it!), you should have all the ingredients necessary for this wonderful dish.
1 cup red lentil (or any lentil variety you have on hand)
2 cups water (or veggie broth)
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
1/4 cup oil (I use vegetable oil)
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 of a cinnamon stick
2 cloves (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or 1 serrano pepper)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 chunk of fresh ginger, minced (1-2 tbs), [or 1 tbs ground ginger]
1 16oz can of diced tomatoes (or a couple fresh tomatoes diced)
2/3 cup cashews and 2/3 cup water (optional)
Easy as boiling water, and sauteing onions… Plus a few spices.
1. Cook rice according to directions on package
2. In a separate pot, combine 1 cup (rinsed, picked over) lentils with 2 cups water (or broth)
3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick, garam masala, and red pepper flakes; allow to froth in the oil for 30 seconds. Add the ginger and garlic (add a touch more oil if the spices have absorbed it); cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the tomatoes to the the skillet and reduce heat. Simmer until the lentil are thoroughly cooked. When the lentils are very tender, add them to the skillet and combine.
5. This last step is optional, but it adds a lot of texture to the dish. In you food processor/magic bullet/immersion blender combine the cashews and water. Puree until smooth. This cashew cream can be drizzled on your plated lentils or mixed into the lentils in the skillet before serving. An alternative is to add some plain yogurt to the lentils for a similar (non-vegan) result.
Cook’s notes: Serve along side rice. Store-bought naan is a wonderful addition to the meal as well. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you have it on hand. Adjust red pepper flakes to suit your taste; we usually add some extra at the end. If using serrano pepper, slice it longwise down the center and add to the skillet. Do not mince until you have tried the dish once; dices it adds A LOT of heat to the dish. Garam masala is a spice mix that varies depending on the brand you purchase, it may contain cinnamon and clove as well as cumin and cardamon. You may even venture to create your own garam masala mixture once you explore your palate.
PS- We LOVE Indian food and often treat ourselves to take-out from our local Indian restaurant. I was intimidated by the idea of cooking my own Indian dish. But this dish is such a crowd pleaser, from veteran Indian food lovers, to beginners. Make it your own by adjusting the spices and being adventurous with the spices (especially the pepper!).