WINTER CARROTS WITH TOASTED WALNUTS & CARAWAY GREMOLATA

The idea of restraint or moderation does not come easily to me.  I spend my time in the extreme, bouncing between the opposite ends.  I often say I’m at full-intensity or I’m asleep (I have no pace).  I can’t say this is a personality trait I always like to highlight, but it does explains so many of my ailments & behaviors.

The same goes for recipes.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the word restraint.  Not in the way of control, but more in choosing what not to do.  It doesn’t always have to be big, complicated, hard - and that’s not just a recipe for food.  I tend to push myself very hard, and recently I’ve learned that doesn’t always mean better.  Sometimes it’s OK to boil carrots.

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WINTER CARROTS WITH TOASTED WALNUTS & CARAWAY GREMOLATA (Serves 2-4) GLUTEN-FREE & VEGAN

This recipe is Inspired & adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetable Literacy.  I love this super simple, but flavorful way to serve carrots.  I followed her recipe, which called for boiling carrots, something I  normally would never do, but am happy I listened.  This recipe could be used with any seed, coriander or cumin would be a great option. *Also, if you need to toast nuts, put them on a baking sheet in a 300 degree oven for 5-10 minutes (set a timer! they burn fast) or until golden and smelling fragrant.

  • 1 lb. carrots (I used a purple variety), reserve 1 carrot to grate
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • About 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • More parsley, to serve
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Wash and dry carrots, peel if you choose to (I don’t) and cut into 1 inch chunks.  Add carrots to a saucepan with enough water to cover and large pinch of sea salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer, covered, until tender, but not completely softened.  About 12 minutes worked for me.

While carrots cook, add caraway seeds to a mortar and pestle.  Break down the seeds as much as possible, but it’s fine if some whole ones remain.  I find it easier to do the caraway seeds first, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Once you’ve broken down the seeds, add garlic, parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Continue breaking down mixture until it looks like a pesto.  Then, stir in 1 tablespoon of zest and the juice of half a lemon.  Grate remaining carrot (large grate), and set aside.

Once carrots are cooked, strain, then return to the pot to dry in the residual heat.  Toss in the grated carrot and gremolata until well coated, then transfer to a serving platter.  Squeeze the remaining 1/2 lemon over carrots with a drizzle (about 1 tablespoon) of olive oil.  Crumble toasted walnuts over top & garnish with more parsley.  Season with freshly ground pepper, and serve immediately. 

CREAMY MISO KABOCHA SOUP WITH TURMERIC, LEMONGRASS & CRISPY LENTILS

It’s Winter.  There’s that bleakness in the air of people desperately craving Spring.  Although, we're closer to sunnier days than we were a couple weeks ago, we're still (unfortunately) in the thick of it.  Temperatures are unstable, snow storms & "frozen rain" have both been in the forecast this last week.  We’re all seeking a bit of comfort, in whatever way we can get it.  

I'm still calling it the beginning of the year even though it's practically (already) March.  Although it's passing quickly, the year so far has been an unprecedented one, in so...so many ways.  Not just “the world” / politically, but I’m personally feeling that “off-ness”.   When it’s time for change - transition - and it feels a little like growing pains.  Not really sure yet where to go with it all, so until then, I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and making soup.

CREAMY MISO KABOCHA SOUP WITH TURMERIC, LEMONGRASS & CRISPY LENTILS (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free) Serves 4-6

This soup is simple, delicious and the perfect warming bowl for these Winter months.  It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but in reality mostly requires a little chopping and adding things to the same saucepan.  If you don’t have fresh turmeric (or ginger) root, add about a teaspoons or so of the ground versions, taste it and decide whether you want more.  For the lemongrass, use the back of your knife to “bruise” the lemongrass - this helps bring out its flavor (don’t forget to remove before ou blend!).  Also, this would still be great without lemongrass, so feel free not to follow the recipe exactly ;)

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, divided
  • 2 medium carrots, medium diced
  • 2 celery stalks, medium dice
  • 1 bunch of scallions, roughly chopped
  • 2 in. piece of ginger root, minced
  • 4 in. piece of lemongrass, bruised then halved
  • 1.5 in. piece of turmeric root, diced
  • 6 cups of cubed kabocha (or about 1/2 a medium squash)
  • 1 (15oz.) can of coconut milk
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup miso
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • About 1/2 cup cooked lentils
  • Greens, to serve

In a large saucepan, add 1 tablespoon coconut oil over medium high heat.  After a minute, swirl oil around in the pan to coat the bottom, then add carrots, celery, scallions, stirring often for about 5-7 minutes or until they begin to cook down and scallions have softened.  

Then, add ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and kabocha, cook the mixture for 2-3 minutes, then add coconut milk, water, miso and salt.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until squash is softened (very easily pricked with a fork).  Taste the broth, it should taste flavorful (if it doesn’t, let it go another 5-10 minutes).  *Don’t forget to fish out your two pieces of lemongrass, if you choose to blend.  Then, use an immersion blender to blend until smooth, or add to a vitamix to whirl up.  Add the juice of one lemon, and stir to combine.

For crispy lentils:  Add 3 tablespoons or so (enough to coat your pan well) coconut oil to a skillet over medium high heat.  Once the pan is hot (hover your hand over the skillet to test), add cooked lentils in an even layer. (You might need to do batches for these, depending on your pan size, don’t overcrowd!)  Let them cook, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.  Add more oil if necessary, they should be “sizzling” in the oil to get them real crispy.  They will take about 2-3 minutes to get crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove and set over a paper towel-lined plate.  

To serve, top soup with freshly ground pepper, a handful of greens or herbs (cilantro or parsley would be great, I used baby arugula), and a small handful of crispy lentils per bowl.  It serves 4-6, depending on what you consider to be a “bowl” or if you’d like this as a meal, or starter.  Store the soup in a jar (beware, it will stain plastic) or tupperware, for up to a week (it hopefully won’t last that long).  The soup will thicken once refrigerated, feel free to use a few teaspoons of water when reheating, or keep it nice and thick.

BUCKWHEAT MUFFINS WITH ROYAL FIG JAM

Lately, I’ve been so into buckwheat flour.  It has the most warm, nutty flavor that I can’t get enough of.  After falling in love with this amazing fig jam, I decided to pair my two obsessions and it didn’t disappoint.  Secondly, I have to talk about this jam.  St. Dalfour is one of my favorite brands of preserves because they sweeten with fruit juice instead of sugar (#NOTSPONSORED, btw).  They are amazing jams across the board, but this fig one? I can't get enough.  A friend and I are now snapping each other our empty bottles because we're semi-repulsing ourselves.  It's addicting, and lovely - you should try it.

These muffins would work best with almost any fruit preserve, so try whatever seasonal flavor you have around (Quince preserves or apple butter would be perfect alternatives).  Don't forget to eat these babies warm & feel free to slather with more jam, too ;)

Buckwheat Muffins with Royal Fig Jam (Gluten-free, Dairy-free) Makes 20 muffins

  • 1 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca or arrowroot flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, very soft or melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup hemp or almond milk
  • About 1 1/4 cup royal fig jam (or your favorite preserves)
  • 2-3 fresh figs (optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, spices and sea salt.

In another large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla and milk.  Stir in flour, a little at a time, into wet mixture until dough is *just* mixed.  

Line a standard muffin pan with muffin liners.  Add 1 tablespoon of batter into each liner and bake for exactly 6 minutes.  Then, remove pan from oven, add a heaping teaspoon of fig jam, then cover with another heaping tablespoon or so of batter (enough to cover the jam entirely).  If you’re adding figs to top, add slices overtop the batter.  Return to oven and bake for 7-9 minutes or until muffins are completely baked through.  

Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. Store in an air-tight container for a few days on the counter, or a week or so in the fridge.