3-Seed Fennel Slaw

3-seed slaw2

Truth time: I used to love me some KFC.

These days I don’t find myself at fast food restaurants that much…or at all. But as a pre-teen and teenager I was all about an extra-crispy meal with potato wedges and a biscuit. Ohhh the biscuits.

Between the heavily seasoned crunchy chicken and biscuit/potato double-carb-punch, the whole situation was near perfect for my 15-year-old palate. The one and only problem was that nasty little styrofoam container filled with mayo-laden, tasteless coleslaw. I just couldn’t get into it. I liked vegetables and salad (albeit less than fried chicken), but this was not that.

So I went along in life thinking of myself as an anti-slaw kind of lady; until one day it occurred to me that slaw could be made into something I could enjoy. I’m a total texture and crunch fan, so I knew we could make this work.

We could keep the cabbage and carrots aspect and add some fennel for gourmet flair, but we’d have to ditch that mayo business. In its place, we can use a Greek yogurt and vinegar-based dressing along with lots of seeds for tang and spice. (This method also works for eliminating mayo from tuna and egg salads.)

I’m bonkers for the fennel’s aniseed flavor and crunch and for the taste and texture of toasted sesame, fennel and cumin seeds. I like the lightness of the dressing and how it allows the spices and vegetables to shine through.

This is how we shall do slaw from this day forward in my house.

Bring on the (non-Kentucky) fried chicken. (Or veggie burgers.)

3-seed slaw 1

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Slow Cooker Moroccan Eggplant

voraciousvander -eggplant

Oh hey slow cooker, hey.

You’re looking really great over there on the counter, all warm and stuff.

But not too warm that you heat up the whole dang apartment like that gauche oven. No. You’re super classy and independent  You take your time, do your job well and I don’ t even have to supervise you.  You’re like the perfect job candidate.

Sorry.

I was just…ah, having a fake conversation with my slow cooker to provide a weird/funny introduction to a recipe that I cooked in my slow cooker. NBD, guys.

Slow cookers make me think of meaty stews and thick soups, so at first, they don’t really seem to fit in with summer cooking. But they’re actually pretty perfect for summer (and obviously winter, spring, and fall.) No oven, no stove. Just toss a bunch of things in there, leave it alone, and come back to find a whole meal of cooked food!

Great right?

I love our slow cooker, it’s easy to clean and takes everything from pork neck to big summer eggplants to flavor nation.

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Kale Pistachio Pesto with Soba Noodles and Oyster Mushrooms

vv - kale pesto soba

We’re moving on today. Moving on from November, moving on from the weekend, moving on from losing the contents of our hard drive and moving into the holiday season.

Kale, in my opinion, makes for a fresh start. I know it’s not time for resolutions yet (thank God) but let’s be real, Mondays are when we get back on track after watching terrible movies and eating too much cheese all weekend. (P.s. Can someone give me another free day to watch bad movies and eat more cheese with my fiancé, please? Thanks.)

That’s where the kale comes in. It rights wrongs, just because it’s so dang good for you. That’s how it works in my brain anyway.

Pesto has always been one of my favorite ways to dress up pasta, sandwiches, grilled vegetables and salads. Today, we’re making it even more excellent with the (SMASH! BANG!) super powers of kale.

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Watermelon and Feta Salad with Dill Vinaigrette

My Thanksgiving came early and complete with stuffing, bourbon maple mashed sweet potatoes, and a pumpkin pie.

Oh and there was a quiz to test my Australian knowledge at a table full of people dressed like the Crocodile Hunter and Dame Edna. No biggie.

I didn’t do too bad, actually. I’ve got the koala key chain and beer koozie to prove it. (Yes, there were totally prizes, even though I was the only contestant.)

But did I mention that there was bourbon maple sweet potatoes? So yeah. No complaints here.

A girl’s got to pay her dues if she’s marrying into an Australian family. Especially if they’ve been so nice as to actually have a Thanksgiving.

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Spring Vegetable Carbonara

The other night, I found myself on the bus home from the city dreaming of this dish. I mentally went through the contents of my cabinets and fridge and began building this dinner. I was soothed (yes, soothed!) by the simplicity of it, and excited for the flavors before I even got home.

To me, there’s nothing better than a big bowl of carbs after a long day. Pasta for dinner is a total triple threat: convenient, comforting and quick.

I realized that I don’t have many pasta dishes on this blog, which I guess is because I usually make pasta for dinner (real blogger talk: that means there’s no natural light to make it look pretty!) and it usually doesn’t follow any sort of recipe. I use whatever I have on-hand — a little of this, a little of that and then it’s eaten in a flash. That’s how pasta night works.

Pasta carbonara usually is involves pancetta or bacon in some form, which I, of course, encourage. But I thought I’d give you a vegetarian option to show another possibility for a simple, eggy carbonara sauce. I was even going to go so far as to call this Primavera Carbonara, but I think that’s confusing or too Italian or has too many A’s.

It’s slightly creamy, with a serious hit of salty Parmesan and an excessive amount of fresh ground pepper, topped with fresh spring asparagus and peas. (More real talk: the peas were actually from the freezer. No one dreams about shelling fresh peas at 6pm.)

AND this whole thing comes together in 20 minutes or less. It’s kind of the perfect weeknight dinner.

Spring Vegetable Carbonara
serves 2

– 220 grams or 8 ounces of the pasta of your choice
– 1 cup asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
– 1/2 cup fresh or frozen peas thawed
– olive oil
– 2 cloves of garlic
– a pinch of chili flakes
– 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk
– a big handful of Parmesan, and more for garnishing
– salt & fresh ground pepper

Set a large pot of water to boil. Once boiling, add a generous sprinkling of salt and the pasta. Cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente.

While the water is heating/pasta is cooking, get going on the vegetables.

Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add garlic and chili and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Add asparagus and peas and cook until just tender – about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and set aside.

Whisk the egg and egg white in a large bowl. Add Parmesan and lots of ground black pepper.

Once the pasta is cooked, reserve a cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. It’s time to work quickly now! Pour the hot pasta in the bowl with the egg and Parmesan. Toss vigorously to coat the pasta (the heat of the pasta cooks the egg.) Add your asparagus and peas and toss again. If the sauce is a little thick, add a tablespoon of the pasta water at a time, to thin it out. (I didn’t have to do that this time.)

Serve immediately, with more Parmesan sprinkled on top, if desired.

Tips:
– Make sure the eggs are at room temperature

– Generously salt your pasta water – it gives it flavor
– Set a timer for your pasta – it may seem silly, but I love perfectly cooked pasta and hate to risk it!
– Work quickly once you drain your pasta – it has to be warm enough to partially cook the eggs, thickening them into a sauce.