Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’


a better butternut squash with nigella seeds (sorry, ottolenghi!)

December 6, 2022

yotam ottolenghi. a man who creates brilliantly unique and fantastic flavor combinations… with the most unnecessary techniques. don’t worry – i am here to simplify and affordable-ify.

i do pick on ottolenghi, but it’s out of love. the man has *tons* of unique recipes – maybe thousands – and googling any vegetable on earth + his name will return a host of fantastic, even novel flavor combinations. he is not even in my top ten most irritating food celebrities. i would call this man “extra” – but i respect and admire him, even in the face of fusion that i might call “painful clickbait” (sicilian-sichuan fusion? please don’t put pine nuts and raisins in your mapo tofu.)

this recipe – one of his many, many, many winter squash recipes – tastes just like it looks. absolutely delicious.

as has become tradition around here, i will share his exact recipe, as well as my version, describing all the techniques i find absolutely unnecessary. i will make the recipe not only more accessible, but more affordable. come on, it’s 2022, who among us can afford to waste food?

the original: yotam ottolenghi’s roasted butternut squash recipe, courtesy of the blendergirl


  • 1 1/2  tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced (1½ cups/170 g)
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 1/4-inch/3-cm chunks (2 3/4 lb/1 kg)
  • 3 1/2  tablespoons  raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/4  teaspoon  nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 1 green chile, halved lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon  super-fine sugar
  • 1 scant cup (200ml) vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup (150g) vegan Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon  finely chopped cilantro
  • Celtic sea salt, to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC.
  2. Place the butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 8 minutes, until soft. Add the squash, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to color. Remove from the heat and add the pumpkin seeds, 1 teaspoon of the nigella seeds, the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, chile, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well and transfer to a baking sheet large enough to hold the vegetables in a single but snug layer, about 10 by 12-inches/25 by 30-cm. Pour the stock over the squash and roast for 30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Set aside for about 10 minutes: the liquid in the pan will continue to be absorbed.
  3. Serve warm, with the yogurt spooned on top or on the side, along with a sprinkling of the cilantro and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds.

Recipe from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi (and discovered thanks to the blendergirl‘s write-up of yotam ottolenghi’s roasted butternut squash recipe – check out her lovely photo and write-up!)

friedsig’s version of ottolenghi’s roasted butternut squash w nigella seeds


  • 3/4 T. butter or margarine
  • 1/2 T. olive oil or neutral oil
  • half of any onion, sliced thin
  • a medium-sized butternut squash, or any winter squash, sweet potatoes, or anything similar (about 2 lbs. – frozen is fine)
  • a tablespoon or more pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 t. nigella seed (or substitute maybe 1/2 t. or so of garlic or onion powder)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • a pinch of turmeric, or more if you love turmeric like me
  • 1 or 2 cardamom pods, crushed, skins removed
  • 1/4 t. ground cinnamon
  • sprinkling of red pepper flakes, or half a small minced chili pepper
  • a pinch of sugar, or more if you like sweet
  • 1 scant cup (200ml) broth or stock
  • salt, to taste
  • a little plain yogurt to top it with (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF/220ºC.
  2. Place the butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 8 minutes, until soft. Add the squash, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to color. Remove from the heat and add the pumpkin seeds, 1 teaspoon of the nigella seeds, the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, chile, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Mix well and transfer to a baking sheet lined with tinfoil large enough to hold the vegetables in a single but snug layer, about 10 by 12-inches/25 by 30-cm. Pour the stock over the squash and roast for 30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Set aside for about 10 minutes: the liquid in the pan will continue to be absorbed.
  3. Serve hot. If you want, serve with plain yogurt. Or chicken. Or whatever you like.

alterations – and why

  1. while sauteed onions are delicious – do you really want to wash a skillet AND a sheet pan? the whole point of a sheet pan dinner is you have one pan to wash. sure, you can saute the onions in a skillet and brown the squash – if you want to wash twice as many dishes! unless you have a house full of kids who will wash your dishes, it’s just… extra.
  2. half a cinnamon stick?! whole?!? on a sheet pan?!? roasting released the cinnamony aroma – my apartment smelled amazing – but just a half-hour in an oven is not sufficient to infuse the entire sheet pan with cinnamon. whole cinnamon stick is amazing in applications where something is simmering for a long period of time. of course you’ll want a whole cinnamon stick in your Glühwein – in your lu rou fan with its two-hour braise – maybe even in your moroccan chickpeas and apricots. but a whole cinnamon stick on a pan of roasted vegetables just makes zero practical sense. you could grate even a sixteenth of that cinnamon stick and get way more cinnamon flavor. i tried it his way – you have to give a world-famous chef the benefit of the doubt sometimes (unless it’s david chang). but i found it to be a total waste of the ingredient. save yourself a few bucks – grate the thing instead.
  3. ditto on the chili pepper. maybe not the most expensive ingredient – but what on earth is the point of leaving the chili whole? is it like “button, button, who’s got the button” or the baby in a king cake? like, “hey dinner party guests, the meal is mild for everyone except for one person. who will get the whole chili pepper?!” it’s a totally irrational choice, and the spice did not permeate through the sheet pan. better to sprinkle just a bit of red pepper flakes. hell, even hot sauce would be a smarter choice.
  4. the tinfoil. if you could see my sheet pan covered in burnt vegetable stock…
  5. the sugar. a tablespoon of sugar on something as sweet as butternut squash? i mean, i won’t stop you. but why? okay, yes, in the photo, the stock and sugar melted down into a glaze that looks absolutely lovely. extremely photogenic. if you’re making this recipe for social media clout, then by all means, glaze your squash. however – and i say this as a person who loves a khatta meetha (sweet and sour) meal – butternut squash is naturally sweet enough.
  6. celtic sea salt? my guy. bless your heart. i don’t own a single grain of celtic sea salt. i promise the salt you have in your cabinet is just perfect for this recipe.

It tastes like a slightly more affordable/easy/westernized version of kaddu ki subji (Indian sweet and sour squash). If you are a fennel/licorice disliker, cooking for someone picky, or on a budget, this Ottolenghi version is a fantastic (and flavorful enough) version. It really does taste good – just not the wild flavor bomb of a kaddu ki subji. I definitely recommend this recipe for anyone who likes squash, especially for someone who is a bit intimidated by the sheer quantity of spices that an authentic Indian recipe calls for. Which do I prefer? No contest; the unhinged amounts of fennel in the kaddu ki subji is my top choice. However, I might prefer to cook Ottolenghi’s for company – not only because I am on a budget, but there are so many fenugreek and fennel dislikers out there, and I think almost anyone could get down with Ottolenghi’s version.

If you love an Ottolenghi recipe with a bit of a more affordable and easy spin on it, check out my better miso butter onion (sorry, Yotam Ottolenghi!). Of course, check out the people who brought you this recipe, Yotam Ottolenghi and the Blender Girl. If you are in the market for something fun to do with winter squash, check out soup joumou (haitian pumpkin soup), vegan pumpkin (or squash) gnocchi, or a simple and hearty curried red lentil, squash, and coconut soup.


zucchini and green apple salad

August 26, 2022

Without a doubt my favorite new recipe so far this summer! This is beyond “a keeper” into the territory of “one of my favorite salads of all-time”! Happy to share this recipe from Didem Şenol‘s Aegean Flavours, which I read on a wonderful Turkish food blog called Pantry Fun. I’ll include both the original, and the version I made with what I had.


1 large zucchini
1 large sour green apple like Granny Smith
a few spikes of garlic chives and a handful of mint leaves from my garden
half of a small container of goat cheese, crumbled
just a tiny bit of vinegar and olive oil
half a lemon, juiced
a sprinkle of nigella seeds, salt, and pepper

I sliced the zucchini and apple on a mandoline, tore the herbs by hand, and then added the other ingredients and mixed everything together.


2 green courgettes/kabak

1 green apple/yeşil elma

½ bunch of dill/dereotu

1 spring onion/taze soğan

a handful fresh mint leaves/nane

150g lor peyniri OR goat’s cheese/keçi peyniri

20g nigella seeds/çörekotu

sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

juice of half a lemon

100ml vinegar/sirke

extra virgin olive oil/sızma zeytinyağı

Slice the courgettes and apple as finely as possible. I used a mandolin slicer. Place the apple slices in water with lemon to prevent them from discolouring. Finely chop the dill, spring onion, and mint and mix with the courgette, apple and cheese. Add the nigella seeds. Add the vinegar and salt, and then finally the olive oil and mix together. The recipe states that if you add the olive oil first, the salad won’t absorb the vinegar. I would say, go carefully with the vinegar and taste the salad as you add it. You don’t want it to be overpoweringly vinegary.

write-up by Claudia at Pantry Fun – original recipe by Didem Şenol

Absolutely wonderful, fresh, delicious, and healthy. August is the perfect time of year for a no-cook recipe! The goat cheese and lemon are tangy, and the garlic chives and nigella seeds add just enough interesting flavor while still allowing the apple and zucchini taste to shine through. I didn’t have any dill in the house, but I can only imagine that the addition of fresh dill would make this salad almost too delicious to eat. I plan to eat this again and again!

Looking for more healthy plant-based summer recipes? If you like fresh raw salads, fresh fennel and cucumber salad in yogurt sauce is a favorite of mine. Cucumber salads are so budget-friendly and infinitely adaptable, and of course cooling, refreshing, and hydrating in increasingly hotter summers. I love a charred onion and cucumber salad (vegan!) and a Sichuan style cucumber salad and, if you love the mint and lemon in the zucchini and green apple salad, you’ll love this five-minute healthy cucumber, lime, and mint salad.


herbs de Provence (herb blend)

August 11, 2022

This classic Provençal (French) seasoning blend is packed with flavor. Another salt-free seasoning you’ll use on everything!

1 T rosemary
1 T savory
1 T lavender flowers (cut in half if you use lavender leaves – i dried some from my garden)
1 T thyme
1 T basil
1 T marjoram
1 T parsley
1/2 T fennelseed
1/2 T tarragon
1/2 T oregano
1/2 t bay leaves

it’s okay to leave out any ingredients you don’t have

combine, store in a sealed, air-tight container. (all ingredients must be dried completely or they will mold.) best used within a year.

adapted from a recipe from Mariposa at allrecipes

Whether you have hypertension, or just want to cut back on salt, a salt-free seasoning blend is an amazing way to impart flavor to your food. Healthy food has a bad reputation for being bland & flavorless. If anything, I think the opposite is true; salt and sugar often take the place of real flavor in processed food. If you have access to fresh ingredients – lemon zest and juice, fresh herbs, homemade fruit vinegars, fermented veggies – there’s little need for heavy, strong flavors. Regardless of what you have, something simple like herbs de Provence can add something special to anything you prepare.

Need some inspiration? Sprinkle some on your roasted potatoes or chicken, in the batter of anything you fry, in a simple pan sauce or homemade salad dressing or yogurt dipping sauce or aioli, on any salad (especially a cold summery bean salad or chicken salad,) in ratatouille, in a tomato sauce or cream sauce for pasta, in marinated olives or cheese, or just sprinkled on some fresh garden tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil. I especially like herbs de Provence on vegan food; your vegan pasta or chickpea salad game will never be the same! Lately, I have been roasting bags of frozen broccoli with a little olive oil and a healthy dusting of herbs de Provence. It’s such a great lazy weeknight snack!

I still use my salt-free ‘ranch’ / Capitol Hill seasoning blend multiple times a week, because everything is better with garlic. (It really makes the best garlic bread in the world.) If you’re using bland ingredients, like veggies from Walmart, maybe you want to go big, like some ras-el-hanout or a heavily roasted Sri Lankan black curry powder. But especially when working with delicate ingredients like potatoes or tomatoes fresh from the farmers market, this herbs de Provence really hits the spot.

What’s your favorite way to use herbs de Provence?


fennel crackers

August 7, 2022

No waiting hours for bread to rise. No yeast. No ten minute long knead. Just a quick cracker to serve with your favorite summer foods, like baba ghanouj (vegan eggplant dip) or roasted tomato dip.

Original recipe by Meeta of The Bhukkad Bawarchi


3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c. rye flour, or other wholemeal flour
1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. sesame seeds
1/2 t. nigella seeds
1 t. whole fennel seeds, crushed coarsely
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. olive oil
~1/4 c. water
2 t. lime juice

Combine all the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil and lemon juice slowly. Drizzle in water slowly as you knead, adding as much water as you need, which may vary. Mix just long enough to bring the dough together, then wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 450F. Roll out the dough a bit thinner than you think you should, and cut into strips, rounds, use cookie cutters, whatever you want. (Strips are easy and low-hassle to cut with a knife.) You can brush them with olive oil and sprinkle coarse salt on top if you’re fancy. Bake until golden brown – around 9 or 10 minutes for me, but check often after minute 7.


3/4 c all-purpose flour
1/4 c. rye flour
1/2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
2 t. sesame seeds
1/4 t. nigella seeds
1 t. whole fennel seeds, crushed coarsely
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. olive oil
~1/4 c. water
2 t. lime or lemon juice

THE ORIGINAL RECIPE, BY Meeta of The Bhukkad Bawarchi

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 3 tsp fennel (saunf) seeds, coarsely grounded
  • ½ tsp. black pepper, coarsely grounded
  • 2 tbsp. Olive oil
  • ½ cup warm water + 2 tsp. of lemon juice
  • Olive oil for brushing

Nice simple cracker. Took less than an hour to finish baking a batch. Good with cherry tomato, thyme, and garlic confit. The spices and seeds in the crackers are infinitely adaptable. I’m sure they’d be great with dehydrated onions, poppy seeds, flaxseeds, or any of your favorites. Personally I think nigella seeds are just perfect in crackers. This may be the start of a cracker phase…


moong dal tadka (indian lentils)

July 4, 2022

this dal can be made more easily by someone with limited ingredients.

please check out hebbar’s kitchen for the full recipe with photo step-by-step!

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • ▢ 1 inch ginger (finely chopped)
  • ▢ ½ onion (finely chopped)
  • ▢ 1 green chilli (slit) (I wouldn’t include this if I was cooking it for a picky eater)
  • ▢ 1 tomato (finely chopped)
  • ▢ ¼ tsp turmeric / haldi
  • ▢ ½ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder / lal mirch powder
  • ▢ 1 tsp salt
  • ▢ ¾ cup moong dal
  • ▢ 3 cup water

for tempering / tadka:

  • ▢ 1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter
  • ▢ 1 tsp cumin / jeera
  • ▢ 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • ▢ 1 inch ginger (julienne)
  • ▢ 1 dried kashmiri red chilli
  • ▢ ¼ tsp kashmiri red chilli powder / lal mirch powder
  • ▢ ¼ tsp garam masala
  • ▢ pinch of hing / asafoetida
  • ▢ few curry leaves
  • ▢ 2 tbsp coriander leaves (finely chopped)
  • ▢ 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • in an instant pot (or regular pot) heat 2 tbsp oil and saute ½ onion.
  • also saute 1 inch ginger and 1 green chilli.
  • additionally saute 1 tomato till it turns soft and mushy.
  • add in ¼ tsp turmeric, ½ tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp salt and saute.
  • now add ¾ cup washed moong-dal and 3 cup water.
  • mix well making sure everything is combined well.
  • cover and cook until dal is soft.
  • now prepare the tadka and pour the tadka over dal along with 2 tbsp coriander leaves and 1 tbsp lemon juice.
  • finally, mix the moong dal tadka and serve with hot rice / roti.

    recipe by hebbars kitchen – check out their blog for a fantastic visual recipe!

This is not as flavorful as my favorite Gujarati dal – not coconutty like Khandeshi dal, or heavy like dal makhani – but the tadka has some good flavor. I’ll make it again. It will probably be my go-to dal recipe when I am cooking in a kitchen without many ingredients, and the dal I will recommend for picky eaters or those who are new to Indian food and aren’t ready for fenugreek, coconut, or tamarind. (Might want to cut the chili by quite a bit for a picky eater, especially if it sits overnight and the slit chili infuses itself into your leftovers!) It’s quite flavorful from the tadka, and I had absolutely no problem eating an entire batch of this over not even 24 hours. (Sorry, potluck dal…. you just lost your place in my rotation.)

Thanks again to hebbars kitchen for a great recipe. Check out all their wonderful dal recipes – or check out mine!


haupia (vegan hawaiian coconut milk pudding)

May 2, 2022

Creamy vegan dessert? I didn’t believe it, either. I’ve had a lot of vegan desserts, and they have ranged from absolutely delicious (chocolate chip cookie dough bites!!!) to totally…. uh… acceptable (looking at you, vegan sweet potato julius)

I thought deeply creamy, rich, indulgent vegan desserts were a fantasy. I mean, sure, I have made wiggly little coconut and red bean desserts, which are very similar, but they contained a can of dairy milk. Vegan desserts can have amazing flavor and texture, but creamy is usually reserved for dairy. This, however, is fully vegan and fully rich. We’re talking “you can’t finish a whole batch of this even if you try” style indulgent.

I mostly followed the instructions from Onolicious Hawai’i – but learned in a video by born-and-raised-in-Hawaii Relle of Keeping it Relle that haupia made with pasteurized/cooked/canned coconut milk tends to create a more pudding-like rather than “Jell-o jiggler” consistency. Other recipes adjust for this by calling for one extra tablespoon of starch. I’ll try this next time, and report back.

Thanks to Hawaiian acquaintances a2 and Lyrakil for the suggestion and encouragement to cook this.

  • 1 can (full-fat, not light) coconut milk
  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Mix till the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the whole can of coconut milk and sugar. Whisk together, and keep whisking until it’s just about to boil.
  3. Slowly pour in the cornstarch/water mixture while whisking.
  4. Turn the heat to low, and keep cooking for 10-15 minutes. You’ll want to stay at the stove at this whole time, and whisk pretty frequently. You’ll know the haupia is ready when it gets much thicker (almost “gluey”) and starts to pull away from the side of the saucepan when you whisk.
  5. Pour into a greased (or parchment paper lined) 8×8 pan. Let cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Then cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours until set. Cut into squares and enjoy chilled

    recipe created by Onolicious Hawai’i – please visit for gorgeous photos, and more info! also check out Keeping it Relle‘s version

Yes, yes, and yes. Simple, fast, doesn’t make a huge mess, not super labor-intensive, and 100% vegan. Would it be absolutely sacrilege to add some minced candied ginger, or a bit of nutmeg? I plan to make this again and again, especially for vegan friends, experimenting with a bit more corn starch for a wiggly jiggly result that’s more true to the authentic Hawaiian style. Very tasty and well worth the minimal effort!

Coconut not your jam? If you’re into vegan or raw desserts, you might enjoy a raw banana cream pie, raw vegan brownie bites (which are extra-tasty mixed into vegan pudding,) or my favorite raw vegan dessert of all time, chocolate chip cookie dough bites!


vellapayar / lobia curry (keralite black-eyed peas)

February 24, 2022

Black-eyed peas are affordable, healthy, and cook faster than some other dried beans and peas. Food from Kerala (a state in India) is super flavorful and delicious. As soon as I tasted this, I knew I’d make it again and again.

It’s the opposite of bland. Delicious and flavorful! Spices are more expensive here than in Kerala, and my budget is limited, so I’ll experiment with cutting the spices. I’ll post the original recipe from Dassana’s Veg Recipes of India, and my version.


1 c black-eyed peas & pinch of salt

2.5 c water

Pressure cook in Instant Pot for 20 minutes on high pressure. Natural release.

(If you don’t have a pressure cooker, just simmer in water until soft.)

▢ 0.75 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
▢ ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
▢ 1 inch of cinnamon
▢ 2 green cardamom
▢ 4 cloves
▢ ¼ teaspoon black pepper – slightly crushed
▢ 1 dried red chili
▢ ⅓ cup sliced pearl onions, shallots, or onions
▢ 8 curry leaves
▢ 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
▢ 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
▢ ½ cup chopped tomatoes
▢ ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
▢ 1 teaspoon coriander powder
▢ ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder, optional
▢ 1.5 cups water or add as required
▢ salt as required

In large skillet or dutch oven, cook coconut oil over low heat. Add mustard seeds, cook until they splutter. Add cumin seeds, cook until they splutter. Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and chili, cook for 2 seconds. Add onions, cook til soft. Add curry leaves, ginger, and garlic. Cook until fragrant. Add black pepper and tomatoes, cook for a few seconds. Add the powdered spices and cook until tomatoes soften. Add the water, cooked black-eyed peas, salt to taste, and simmer for 15 minutes or until delicious.


1 c black-eyed peas

2.5 c water

Pressure cook for 10-12 whistles.

  • ▢ 3 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
  • ▢ ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ▢ 2 pieces each of 1 inch cinnamon
  • ▢ 2 green cardamoms
  • ▢ 4 cloves
  • ▢ ¼ teaspoon black pepper – slightly crushed
  • ▢ 1 dried red chili
  • ▢ ⅓ cup sliced pearl onions shallots or onions
  • ▢ 8 to 10 curry leaves
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon chopped ginger
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons chopped fresh coconut
  • ▢ ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • ▢ 2 green chilies – slit
  • ▢ ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ▢ ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • ▢ ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder, optional
  • ▢ 1.5 cups water or add as required
  • ▢ salt as required
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon coconut oil to be added later
  • ▢ 3 to 4 curry leaves to be added later
    recipe by Dassana at Veg Recipes of India – check out her blog for beautiful photos and more detailed instructions!

Easily killed an entire pot of this in 2 days and already want more. It’s delicious! Serve it with rice or flatbreads like hoppers or naan. Would be delicious with veggies as well, like kaddu ki subji (Indian sweet and sour squash) or hyderabadi baghara baingan (indian sesame peanut eggplant) or baingan musasalam / mughlai baingan masala (indian eggplant and tomato) or a kadai mushroom masala. (These vegetable recipes are from other parts of India, not Kerala – so check out a Keralite food blog like samagni if you want to cook a fully authentic Keralite meal!)


a better miso butter onion (sorry, Yotam Ottolenghi!)

November 26, 2021

The photo of Yotam Ottolenghi’s miso butter onions (printed in TASTE, from his new book Ottolenghi Flavor) is extremely compelling. Just the slightest bit of char, visible umami flavor, and a visibly softer onion than one can achieve with high-heat roasting. Who wouldn’t want to try them?

The recipe is simple, yet the technique is surprisingly finicky for a three-ingredient side dish.

Preheat the oven to 500F (yes, 500F.)

Melt butter into a baking dish, and whisk in miso and warm water.

Nestle some small onion halves into the baking dish.

Roast for 35 minutes, flip, and continue roasting for another 45 or 50 minutes, basting every ten minutes.

(Check out Taste, or Ottolenghi’s book, for more detailed instructions.)

Are the onions tasty? Sure. Miso adds umami, butter adds fat, onions cooked until soft add sweetness. If you like miso and you like onions, of course you’ll like this.

Here’s why I think it’s not worth it.

First of all, your oven is on for a MINIMUM of an hour and a half, longer if, like me, you have an ancient oven that takes a while to heat up.

Onions are a very affordable and humble primary ingredient for a side dish, and this would be a very accessible recipe if it wasn’t for this finicky technique. Who has time to baste onions every ten minutes? Who can afford to leave their oven on for two hours just to roast some onions?

Also, is your favorite onion texture “mush”? Predictably, braising onions gives them the same consistency as an onion simmered in a pot of chicken broth for six hours. That is, “soft” is an understatement. These onions could be spread on toast if you wanted to. (Actually, that doesn’t sound half bad.) It eliminates much of the bite and flavor of an onion, making them maybe ideal for someone who’s horrified by a caramelized or roasted or raw onion, someone looking for a way to conceal an allium. If you like the flavor and texture of an onion, this is, let’s say, not an ideal way to highlight either.

—-> My alteration, with apologies to Yotam Ottolenghi? Cut some small onions into chunks, then toss in melted butter and miso paste, then roast onions on a baking sheet. No simmering them in water until they’re mush. Just roast them as you would garlic. Will the texture be identical? No, instead of insipid mush, they’ll become a slightly savory version of the onions you probably already roast along with your sheet pan of veggies or chicken. Hell, toss a bunch of chicken parts and chunks of potatoes and garlic in the same miso butter, and make a whole meal out of it!

Onions are a smart side dish for folks like me who love flavor but have a limited food budget. The flavors are on point here, but the technique is unnecessarily complicated. I’ll recommend this exact recipe and technique IF you’re already planning to keep your oven on 500F for several hours. Otherwise, just roast onion chunks in miso butter, and ditch the constant basting. They’ll be done in less than half the time, and you may just prefer the texture, too.


pulp crisp: a savory okara / dòuzhā / biji pancake made with leftovers!

July 31, 2021

Making soy milk, oat milk, rice milk, nut milk, or tofu, and looking for something to do with the leftover pulp? Soy pulp, also known as okara in Japanese, biji in Korean, and dòuzhā in Chinese, can be used in almost any recipe you can think of! Hide it in a stir-fry, mush it into morning porridge, or tuck it into breads, cookies, or cakes! How you use it might depend on whether your pulp is just pure soybean, grains, nuts, or some combination. The pure pulp is fairly flavorless compared with, say, a grain-based milk made with dried fruits and nuts – which means the possibilities for cooking with it are endless!

Yes, I got an $8 used soymilk machine about three months ago – and it’s become a part of my daily life in a way I was never expecting. Homemade nut and grain milk is sweeter and creamier than milk. I drink it every morning. Tastes nothing like the soymilk from the store! Stay tuned for a mega-post chronicling months of experiments with different combinations of grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and seeds!

So far, this is one of my favorite “waste not” recipes using okara! Ever since I began my grain and nut milk obsession a few months ago, I have been combing the internet for ways to use the leftover soy pulp. This recipe is ridiculously easy. If you use enough soy milk or water, you’ll be really surprised by the crepe-like texture. These pancakes will keep you full way longer than a “typical” pancake due to all the protein.

My recipe is modified from The Foodie Baker's version in one huge way that really changes the texture and flavor. Curious?

SAVORY OKARA PANCAKE modified from The Foodie Baker

50 grams fresh okara

50 grams rice flour (all-purpose flour is fine, too)

100 ml soy milk or water

2 pinches salt

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)

2 spring onion finely chopped (optional)

your favorite spices (optional – black pepper is recommended – a pinch of Chinese five-spice is great in this!)

neutral oil, to fry (like canola, vegetable, etc.)

note: If you don’t have a scale, it’s important to note that depending on how much soy milk you squeezed out of your pulp, 50g okara might be a quarter-cup, or a half-cup. If you’re very lazy, like me, and your hands get tired after a few squeezes, use a little less okara. If yours is very fluffy, use a little more. Or – and this has been true for me so far – just eyeball it, because the amount doesn’t matter too much! 50g flour is probably about a third of a cup. 100ml is about a half-cup. You can eyeball these amounts – it really doesn’t matter that much.

Mix everything together, with whatever spoon or whisk you like, or your hands. Pour batter into preheated oiled skillet and fry like a pancake. Eat with your favorite dipping sauce. I loved a chili oil/black vinegar sauce, but anything from soy sauce to plain yogurt would be good. Or serve with eggs – soy-cured eggs would be amazing with these – or leftover veggies!

original recipe by the foodie baker and modified by friedsig

The original recipe calls for egg, which makes more of a typical American-style pancake. I could really taste the egg in it, which would be great for someone who loves that hard cooked egg / French toast flavor! However, if you prefer a crispy dosa-style pancake like I do, you’ll much prefer the eggless version. Obviously, vegans will prefer it without egg. I love eggs, and much prefer a soft cooked egg wrapped in one of these crispy pancakes, rather than the egg overcooking inside the pancake.

Experiment with this! I bet this would be amazing with a ton of sugar and cinnamon if that’s your jam. I’m on a savory kick lately, though. I have loved these strongly seasoned with a Chinese five-spice blend, with a homemade Sri Lankan curry powder, with a basic blend of garlic powder and black pepper, and just plain with sesame oil and salt.

The edges get quite crispy and crunchy, so I have named these “pulp crisps” because my “okara” is usually some blend of peanuts, Chinese red dates, millet or oats, black soybeans, rice…. not just pure soy okara.

If you’re curious about my journey with this soymilk machine, fear not! Recipes are coming.


fagiolini con pomodoro, aglio, e basilico (green beans with tomato)

June 29, 2021

SUPER healthy, vegan, fast, easy, affordable. No fancy techniques here – and yet, the best green beans I’ve had in as long as I can remember. This is the kind of simple recipe you want to use when you have delicious, fresh ingredients, and you want the flavor of the ingredients to be the star of the dish.

I got this recipe from the Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens, but this is actually a Marcella Hazan recipe from her 1986 book Marcella’s Italian Kitchen.

“The proportions Hazan recommends are one pound of fresh ripe tomatoes, a pound-and-a-half of green beans, a half-cup olive (ed: oil), two teaspoons of chopped garlic, salt, pepper and one cup of fresh basil leaves.  For pasta sauce, increase the tomatoes to a pound-and-a-half and the garlic to three teaspoons.

In a skillet large enough to hold everything, sauté the garlic in the olive oil until it’s golden, add the peeled, roughly chopped tomatoes, and cook at high heat for about five minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium, add salt and pepper to taste and the beans, whole or sliced and cook until the beans are tender.  If, when the beans are done, there’s still some watery tomato juice in the skillet, remove the beans and turn up the heat to reduce the extra liquid.  When the sauce has reduced, return the beans to the skillet, add the basil and serve either as a side dish or on pasta.”

recipe created by Marcella Hazan, from her 1986 book Marcella’s Italian Kitchen, discovered thanks to the Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens

I got some musica pole beans and a huge tomato from the farmer’s market. Never tried those flat green beans before, and was worried about how thick and fibrous they seemed when raw, but this recipe was beyond delicious. This would work just as well with round green beans as thick flat green beans.

For (cough) some of us (Americans), it can be hard to get used to cooking with delicious, fresh ingredients, because we are accustomed to cooking with the flavorless veggies we can actually afford. We use the most flavorful techniques, like sprucing up a $2 head of broccoli with cheese or a ton of lemon, so that they are edible.

This is the polar opposite. You’re not creating a sauce or a tadka to camouflage the flavorless veg. You’re creating a symphony of flavors where the lead singer (I hate this metaphor) is the green bean (why would a symphony have a lead singer?)

I really can’t speak highly enough of this recipe. This tastes nothing like what you’re picturing, with bits of flavorless green bean floating in a tomato-paste-based tomato sauce from a jar. This tastes so sweet and fresh and perfect. You’ll eat the whole thing. If you are fortunate enough to have the space for a garden, this recipe is extremely affordable, too!

Just make sure you’re using garden (or farmers market) ingredients for this one. If you’re using industrially produced tomatoes and beans, or if it’s off-season, can I recommend Sichuan blistered green beans or green bean salad with olive and sun-dried tomato?