Vegetarian Fajita Tacos

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These are using my Whole Wheat Protein Tortillas I posted earlier.  I was originally not going to post this because I felt like it was just vegetables in a tortilla, but Justin said people like recipes.  I guess I trust him.  We’ve been together for a while now, I think I owe him that.

Recipe:

2 white onions (sliced, caramelized) 
1 red pepper (sliced, roasted)
1 green pepper (sliced, roasted) 
3 jalapeno or serrano peppers (diced, roasted) 
1/2 cup corn
1 15 oz can black beans (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)
1-2 tsp oil
salt

Toppings:

Greek yogurt
salsa
avocado
lettuce

First we’re going to slice our onions.  People get all weird about onions.

They’re like, “No, I’m going to cry.”

And, “Oh my god, my breath.”

I read all sorts of forums about people complaining about onions and crying all that stuff.  People come up with the silliest solutions to avoid this problem — goggles, freezing the onion, soaking the onion in water, cut near a flame.

Silly business.

When you cut into an onion you’re breaking cell walls, inside those cell walls is a chemical compound called sulfoxide which is basically sulfur and oxygen bonded together with other compounds.  When we cut into an onion we release this and it turns into sulfuric acid, which then stimulates the tears in our eyes.  Mind you this is a bastardly simplified version, but enough for these purposes.  Anyway, the majority of the sulfoxides are contained near the root of the onion.  So if you leave the last 1/2 inch of the onion alone and cut with a sharp knife (which disrupts less walls) 9 times out of 10 you won’t have tears and chances are your breath won’t smell.

So quit your bitching and cut your onion.

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Leaving the root on, cut the very top of your onion of after you’ve halved it.  Make slices through your onion, making sure not to disrupt that last 1/2 inch.

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Here’s a diagram.

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Then slice the root off.

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No tears!

And no freezing, flames, or goggles.

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Now we’re going to caramelize our onions.  This is a process.  Any person writing a recipe that tells you you can caramelize an onion in 5 or 10 minutes is a damn dirty liar and is never to be trusted again.  It takes minimum 30 minutes, but longer is always better.

Add 1-2 tsp oil to a pan and heat over medium heat.

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Add your onions and salt.  Cook over medium-medium high heat.  Don’t stir too often or you’ll prevent caramelizing.

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Every 10 minutes I deglaze the pan.  It’s up to you what you want to use–oil, vinegar, wine, water.  I just used water.

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While your onions are doing their thing get everything else ready.

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Roast your peppers, you can do it on the stove or in the oven.  On the stove or under the broiler is the fastest.

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Just make sure your skins are most, if not all the way black.

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20 minutes in, deglaze your pan if needed.

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Wipe or rinse of your skins.

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And slice.  Dice your serrano or jalapeno peppers if you’re using them.  Or you’ll pay for it.

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30 minutes in.  This is the bare minimum for caramelizing onions.  You could go all day with these beauties and they will only get more delicious.  But you do have to eat eventually, and I can only plan for a meal an hour or so in advance.

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Add your peppers, beans, and corn to your onions and toss around to warm everything.

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Get your toppings ready.

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And your tortillas.

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I love Greek yogurt and find it’s one of those things that is well worth the extra cost.

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Fixins.

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I decided to be cheap and buy iceberg lettuce.  Never again, once you grow accustomed to eating dark leafy greens you’ll wonder why the fuck this stuff even exists.

I’m sorry iceberg but it’s true, you’re a superfluous vegetable.

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The End.

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Pineapple Kiwi Salsa

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It’s summertime so it’s time for fruity salsas.  This is a very quick and easy salsa to make if you’re looking for something a little different.  Most fruit salsas are just chopped up chunks of the ingredients thrown together in a bowl.  While that might be good for some people, those types of salsa make me sad and I want them nowhere near my person.  I want my salsa to be thick and full of tomato-y flavor.  If you want just bits of fruit thrown together, I don’t know, make a fruit salad or something.

Recipe:

1 kiwi (chopped)
1 ring pineapple (100 g, chopped)
1 garlic clove (added to blender)
1/2 small red onion (1/2 chopped, 1/2 added to blender)
1 tsp dried cilantro OR 1 tbsp fresh
1 tbsp lime juice
1 red pepper (roasted, chopped)
28 oz can whole tomatoes (1/2 chopped, 1/2 added to blender)
salt to taste (if needed)

Roast your pepper.  You can add it raw to your salsa but I like roasting it because it brings out the flavor more.

If you’re not roasting it on the stove top you can also roast it in the oven.  400° for 30-40 minutes.

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When the skin is blackened all around remove from stove top and place in a covered bowl.

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While your pepper is resting you can chop your pineapple and kiwi.  Add them to a bowl with your lime juice and cilantro.

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After a few minutes the steam accumulated in your pepper bowl will have softened the pepper skin and it will remove easily.  You can either wipe it off or rinse it off.  Dice the pepper and add it to your fruit bowl.

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Deseed your tomatoes.  Is this absolutely necessary?  No.  But the seeds lend to a bitter flavor that can be noticed by some people.  Whether or not your remove them depends on how lazy you’re feeling that day.

I add half of my tomatoes to a blender (with the juice, garlic, and 1/2 my onion) and dice the other half.

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Add your diced tomatoes to your bowl along with your diced onion.

I usually dice half of my onion and blend the other half.  Blending the onion produces a stronger onion flavor over all but then you don’t have as many onion chunks to bite into.  I feel like splitting the difference creates the balance of onion flavor I desire.

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Add your blended tomato.  Because of the sugars in this salsa I don’t feel the need to add anything to make it thicker, but if you do you can add tomato paste (my go to salsa thickener) or arrowroot/corn starch or xanthan gum.

Enjoy!

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Black Bean Burrito Burger

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This is a weird name for a dish, I know but bear with me.  I was wanting to make a veggie burger type deal but a lot of the recipes I came across had bread crumbs in them as a binder.  I didn’t want to do that so I just decided to throw together what I had available to me.  The end result tasted more burrito-y than burger-y to me and I only had wraps on hand, hence the name.

This recipe is to show you can pretty much throw any kind of vegetable, bean, and grain/seed into a veggie burger recipe and it probably won’t suck.  Just be open to the resulting outcome.

Recipe: (makes 6, 4 oz patties) 

1 can kidney beans (rinsed, drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed, drained)
1 cup brown rice
1 tomato (diced)
1/4 green pepper (diced)
1 red onion (diced)
3 garlic cloves (diced)
1/2 jalapeno (diced)
1/2 cup corn
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder

Toppings:

red onion
lettuce
soy cheese
salsa
mango
avocado

Prep all your veggies.  I roasted mine 30 minutes in a 400° oven.  If you’re lazy you could soften them in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes.

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Just until they start to get a good color.  Wait to dice your garlic until after you roast it to prevent it from burning.

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Drain and rinse your beans.  What?!  Canned beans?!  Yes, sometimes I get lazy and give no fucks.

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Mash ’em up.

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Add your cooked rice.

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You could do anything you want here.  Quinoa, cous cous, millet, oats, whatever.

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Now add your roasted veggies.

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And any spices you want.

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Get your fixins ready.  At this stage in my life, a day without avocado and mango is a day not fully realized.

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Because I’m putting these in wraps I made them to fit the shape of a wrap better but you can do whatever you like.

Put a little bit of oil in your pan and cook over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes per side.

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Now I’m not going to lie to you.  Veggie burgers are a lot more delicate than regular meat burgers.  It is possible to flip them without breaking them, it’s just a little harder.  And no you can’t make these on a grill.  No veggie burger you make will have that mouth feel a traditional burger gives you, so either deal with it or have a hamburger.

Now you might be arguing that the frozen Morningstar Veggie Burgers you buy ARE stable and CAN be made on a grill.  Well, I would retort there isn’t a whole lot of vegetable action happening in a Morningstar Veggie Burger.

WATER, TEXTURED SOY PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, CORN OIL, CONTAINS TWO PERCENT OR LESS OF AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, VEGETABLE GUM, NATURAL FLAVORS FROM VEGETABLE SOURCES, MALTODEXTRIN, SOY FIBER, SALT, CARRAGEENAN, POTATO STARCH, ONION POWDER, CARAMEL COLOR, DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, KONJAC FLOUR, SUNFLOWER OIL, SESAME SEED OIL, SOY SAUCE (WATER, SOYBEANS, WHEAT, SALT), CONCENTRATED ONION JUICE, ASCORBIC ACID, VINEGAR POWDER, CITRIC ACID, ASPARTIC ACID, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, MALIC ACID, SUCCINIC ACID, TARTARIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, WHEAT FLOUR, SOY LECITHIN.

Anyway, if you want these to be a little more stable you can add some breadcrumbs but I believe that’s the thing I said I was trying to avoid in the first place.  But to each their own.

Carefully flip, getting a gold color on each side.

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Serve and enjoy!

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Mango Risotto

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After the much success I experienced with my Spinach Mushroom Risotto I had to go and mess around with it.  If you’re looking for more of a traditional risotto check that out.

Where did this recipe come from…I’ve been on a serious mango and avocado kick for the past few months.  For whatever reason they make me feel fancy.

This recipe is definitely open to your own taste adjustments.  The recipe below is my second attempt.  My first attempt I used 1 mango and coconut milk instead of coconut water.  While it tasted fine it wasn’t what I was going for.  The mango flavor was much subtler than I wanted and the coconut milk flavor was too dominant.  But who knows, maybe you would prefer that so that’s an option.

Here’s a picture of my first attempt with the 1 mango and coconut milk.

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Not bad, but not great.  Now let’s get to the recipe I preferred.

Recipe:

1/2 red onion (diced)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup white rum
1 Haitan/Dominican Mango (optional)
1/2 Guatamalan Mango (common grocery store mango)
10 oz Arborio rice
3 cups (about) Coconut Water added to mangoes to make 4 cups total
1 cup black beans
Salt to taste
Avocado to garnish

Dice your onion.  Definitely use red here, anything else would be too overpowering.

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Cut your mango by cutting the top and bottom off.

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Place it on one of the flat ends and slice the skin off with a knife.

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Then remove the flesh in a similar familiar to which you removed the skins, carefully cutting around the pit.

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Cut both your mangoes this way and place in a blender, I would have juiced them if I had a juicer.

I decided to go with 1 Haitian Mango and 1/2 Guatemalan Mango (generic grocery store mango).  Haitian Mangoes tend to be juicier and have a more vibrant flavor.  My first risotto was lacking a little bit in mango flavor, which is why I chose to use the different kind of mango and bump up the amount of mango used.  It’s really up to you though.  Because the Haitian Mango flavor is so much stronger than the more common mango I’m thinking I could have gotten away with using just the one Haitian.

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Blend.

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Now add enough coconut water to make 4 cups of liquid total.  Make sure you buy enough to have some left over.

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4 cups.  Remove from blender and place on the stove, bring and keep at a low simmer, covered.

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Back to the onions.  Sweat them in 2 tbsp coconut oil for about 3 minutes.  We’re using this much oil because the rice is going to absorb it later.  Relax, you’re allowed to consume oil from time to time.

Don’t let your onions brown, or it wouldn’t be sweating anymore.

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Have your 10 oz of Arborio rice ready.  You want to use any Italian short grain (Arborio, Carnaroli, Vialone, Nano, or Bald).  Arborio is usually the cheapest/easiest to find.  Don’t rinse it.  Rinsing removes starch, which gives the risotto that creamy texture.

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Add your rice and toast it for about a minute (over medium-ish heat).  It should get too hot to hold it in for finger tips for more than a second or two.

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It will start becoming translucent around the edges.  Toasting helps ensure the risotto ends up creamy rather than mushy.

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Add your rum and cook it down all the way.  If you don’t the risotto will have too strong an alcohol flavor.  The edges should be even more translucent now.

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Now add 1 cup of your mango liquid and bring your rice to a low boil, moving it around to encourage even cooking.  Make sure you move down the kernels that get stuck on the side.

The reason you keep your liquid at a simmer is adding warm liquid keeps the risotto at a more consistent temperature and makes for faster cooking time.  You also run the risk of your rice being hard in the middle, while the outside is mush if you use cold liquids.

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When most of your first addition is absorbed add more of your liquid in about 1/2 cup additions.  This need not be exact.

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You’re ready to add more liquid when you see the bottom of the pan easily.

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Ready for more liquid.

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How do you know when the risotto is done?  Well the 4 cup/18 minute rule is usually a good indicator.  Once you’ve finished adding all your liquid and the 18 minutes has passed and if you were using warm liquid additions it should be done.  Just by looking at there should on be a small amount of solid white left in the middle.

Near the end of your last liquid addition add your black beans.

If your risotto is too thick (which is even more possible with this considering we’re cooking it in pectin) add some of your leftover coconut water until it becomes the consistency you desire.

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Garnish and enjoy!  Remember to serve immediately.  🙂

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Strawberry Salsa

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I first posted this and neglected to put an intro and then was like, oh crap I need an intro.  But then I thought it’s frickin salsa and it has strawberries in it.  There’s not really a story behind it or anything and you get that from the title right?  Moving on.

Recipe:

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes (chopped, reserve liquid)
1/2 red onion (chopped) – 3 oz for me
2 garlic cloves (roasted, chopped)
8 oz strawberries (chopped)
1 red pepper (roasted, chopped)
1 tsp cilantro dried (or 1 tbsp fresh)
1 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey
salt to taste

Roast your pepper and garlic.

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You want the skin to be all the way black without burning the meat.

Put the strips in a bowl and cover to let the steam loosen the skin then rinse under water to remove the skin or wipe with a paper towel.

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Turn the heat down a little bit to roast your garlic and leave the skin on.  Your garlic is ready when the skin just falls off.  You can also roast your garlic like this in a dry skillet.

We’re not looking for that melty texture you get when you oven roast garlic, we’re just looking to mellow that raw garlic flavor a bit.  If you don’t want to roast your garlic then I would consider only adding 1 clove to your salsa.

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Chop your pepper and garlic and add to a mixing bowl.

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Chop your strawberries and add them to your mixing bowl.  8 oz is half a pint.

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Chop your onion, if you’re sensitive to the taste of onion consider adding only 1/4.  Add it to your bowl.

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Add your honey and apple cider vinegar to your mixture.  If you don’t have honey or apple cider vinegar you can use white sugar or orange juice, just something to bring out a little more of the strawberry sweetness.

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Let that get happy.

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Rinse and de-seed your tomatoes, reserving liquid.  If you want to use fresh tomatoes you absolutely can.  I just like to use canned because good tasting, fresh tomatoes are hard to come by in my vicinity.  Also I like liquidy salsa.  Add tomato liquid and chopped tomatoes to mixture.  Add your cilantro and salt to your taste.

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I apologize for the strawberry heart, it’s hard to make salsa look interesting on its own.

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Saag (kind of)

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Well, this is my version of it anyway.  Saag is one of my favorite things to order at Indian restaurants and Indian food is one of my favorite things to indulge in when we go out to eat (that or Sushi).  The problem with Saag, at least for me, is you never just want Saag.  It’s not a dish that makes much of a meal.  Even if you get the Saag Paneer or Saag Aloo.

So this is a bastardized version of Saag.  And by bastardized I mean, it’s got a whole bunch of crap thrown into it (garbanzo beans, potatoes, tofu) and it’s healthier.  I’m sorry food traditions of India, I just can’t help myself sometimes.

I put a decent amount of heat into this dish because one time a waitress misunderstood me and thought I wanted my Saag extra spicy instead of my vindaloo.  It turned out to be delicious but I payed for it later.

Recipe:

1 onion (diced) 
16 oz spinach
16 oz mustard greens
1 block extra firm tofu
2 oz ginger (about 2 in chunk, diced) 
3 medium white potatoes (1 inch cubes) 
5 garlic cloves (diced) 
1 cup dry garbanzo beans (OR 2 cans) 
2 tsp whole cumin (ground)
1 tbsp curry powder
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 dried pepper (optional, I used dundicut)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup greek yogurt (I used 0%)
salt
2 tsp olive oil + 1 tsp olive oil

Make your beans, or if you’re using canned you’re all set with that.

Cut your tofu in half long ways and place paper towels above and below and top with a weighted plate or baking sheet.  This removes excess water and makes the tofu denser.

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Bring a pot of water to boil for your potatoes and prep them.

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While your water is coming to a boil prep your other ingredients.

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Your water should now be boiling so add your potatoes and parboil them.  They should be done after about 3 minutes.  You want the edges to start looking translucent while the center is still white.

Rinse your potatoes under cold water (this ensures they won’t turn to mush when we fry them and it washes off residual starch).

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Dry out your potatoes (I use a salad spinner) and coat them with your 1 tbsp curry and 1 tsp cayenne.

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And fry them up with your 2 tsp oil.  Near the end of their cooking time you can add the tofu to start giving that some flavor, but you don’t have to.

When they’re done remove to a plate and set aside.

Lightly salt here.

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Over medium low heat add your other 1 tsp oil, garlic, ginger, dried pepper (if using) and onion to your final cooking pan.  Cook for at least 15 minutes to get it to that toffee color, do not let it burn.

Lightly salt here.

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While your onions are doing their thing you can start cleaning your greens.  If you’re using frozen (which you can, in fact it will make the dish faster and easier to cook, but who needs that?) then ignore these next few steps.

Fill up your sink with cold water (clean it first, duh) and dump your greens in there.  Swirl them around then let the gunk settle.

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Remove them to a bowl and for a brief second be excited you decided to go with fresh greens.

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Then look at your sink and be happy you listened to me about cleaning them this way first.

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Now chop your greens.  This part is a bitch, I’m not going to lie.  But seriously, how pretty does that look?  Don’t forget about your onions.

Mustard greens are more bitter than spinach.  If you want you can use all spinach, the mustard greens at the store just looked so fresh I couldn’t resist and I love me some mustard greens.

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Now back to your onions.  See?  Toffee color.  Do not try and rush this process by cooking it at a higher temperature, the onions will not like you for that.

After this 15 minutes has passed add your cumin and cook for another 5.  Deal with it, if you wanted fast Indian, go to a restaurant.

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Now add your greens.  You don’t want your greens to be dry, so don’t put them through a salad spinner or anything.

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Increase your heat to medium and add your 1/2 cup of water.

Lightly salt here.

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Now here’s where I followed an incorrect recipe.  It told me 5 minutes would be a fine enough time to cook my greens down.  5 minutes is not enough time and does not give you that creamy Saag texture.  Simmer your green for at least 20 minutes with the lid on, checking regularly for water level.  You don’t want it to be soupy and you don’t want it to be dry.

After 20 minutes add your beans, potatoes, and tofu.  Simmer for another 5 minutes with the lid off.

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Now because I did the 5 minutes instead of the 10 I had to cook it longer so my tofu broke up.  It still tasted delicious but just something to keep in mind.

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Now you can add your 1/2 cup greek yogurt if you want.  It’s not traditional in Saag but because we use so much less fat it helps up the creaminess a little.  If you do decide to use it turn off your heat and temper your yogurt.  Do this by adding small spoons of your warm Saag to a bowl with your yogurt and stir.  When the yogurt has warmed up add it to your pot and turn the heat back on to a low simmer for 5 minutes.

This is ready to eat now but, like foods of a similar fashion it’s much better the longer you let it stew.

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Serve by itself, with rice, or in a Whole Wheat Pita pocket!

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Italian Pasta Salad

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Pasta salads’ awesomeness lie in their versatility.  That’s one of the main things that usually attracts me to a dish because I don’t have the budget right now to buy fancy ingredients so I just buy the same staple ingredients and rework them in different ways.  The only ingredient in this dish that wasn’t already in my kitchen was the fresh asparagus.

I used to make pasta salad all the time in college, you know with the Salad Supreme Seasoning.  It immediately takes you back to a time of summer family get togethers filled with people you don’t know and time spent figuring out if you are in fact blood related.

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Oh the memories.  This stuff tastes like crap by the by.  Move on from it.

Recipe:

16 oz pasta
2 tomatoes (chopped–I used roma)
1 green pepper (chopped)
1 asparagus stalk (blanched)
2 tbsp kalamata olives
1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed)
1 corn ear

Dressing:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon (zest, juice)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves (crushed)
1/2 tsp oregano (dried)
1 tsp basil (dried)
water to fill up to 8 oz

Make your dressing.  You can use store bought dressing if you want, I just figured I had the ingredients to make it myself.  Add more oil if you like, mine is super “light” compared to even most of the light versions you buy at the store.

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While your dressing is getting happy start boiling your water for your asparagus and noodles.

Start prepping your veggies.  Clean your asparagus and remove the woody ends.  I like the snapping method.  I snap all of them instead of snapping one and using the one as a guide to cut the others.  Mostly because I think the snapping is fun but also because others snap farther up the stem anyway.

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If you want to peel your asparagus to make it prettier I think you’re silly.  It’s fine looking asparagus just as it is.  But it’s also your asparagus.  Add your asparagus to your boiling water for 2-3 minutes then rinse under cold water to halt the cooking process.  You can add your corn with your asparagus because they take the same amount of cooking time.

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Clean the goop out of your tomatoes.  Leaving the skin on is optional, we like tomato skins and I hate peeling them so it’s a win win.

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Pour your dressing over your veggies and let them all get happy together.

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When your asparagus is done cut and add it to your mixture.

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Add your corn.

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When your pasta is done, rinse under cold water.  Be sure to cook your noodles al dente as they will soak up the remaining liquid in your mixture and continue to soften.

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You can serve this dish immediately, but it’s best to put it in the fridge for a couple hours to let the flavors get happy.

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I served it with some chopped spinach and Parmesan cheese, enjoy!

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