A lot of what I eat day-to-day involves some sort of “Bowl”. When I’m looking to get a good hit of vegetables or just use up the bits and pieces in the fridge, a Bowl is the answer. More than a salad, but with a similar amount of a commitment, Bowls are thrown together easily and often amount to much more than their individual elements.
The most important component of a Bowl is a kickass sauce or dressing. Once you have a good sauce, you’ve got something worth eating.
My Sunday food prep sessions have really upped my game in the kitchen throughout the week. Chopping and roasting vegetables and cooking grains seems like a simple enough practice, but the difference is major. It makes everything just a little bit easier and gives my brain a break in the post-work scramble to make something healthy for dinner.
If I’m smart enough to make a soup during my Sunday prep session, it usually makes a dinner for Fabian and I, plus a couple of lunches for me or portions to freeze in case of laziness. It’s the pureed (or chunky – depending on the week) dish that keeps giving.
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.)
This salad is brought to you by: the insane heat that blanketed Sydney yesterday and my favorite skirt that’s a little tight after the long holiday season.
Seriously, it was shockingly hot. Like hotter than your average person’s body temperature. Clearly, seeing 43 degrees (109 Fahrenheit) on my phone weather left a big impact on me.
Anyway, turning on the oven wasn’t an option, nor was boiling or simmering anything. I needed something refreshing but also something with substance to get through the mid-day slump.
Simple things that will always always brighten my day:
- This picture of kangaroos hugging
- A cheap manicure
- Soul music
- Unexpected flowers
- A new book
- A good margarita
- Treat yo self. And all things Amy Poehler is involved in
- Dinnertime with Mr. F
- Making lists of completely unimportant things
This soup is a brightener too – in color and flavor. It’s hearty and almost a little rich, without actually having anything rich in it. Depth is added to the sweetness of the carrots and sweet potatoes by roasting and the addition of earthy cumin and a little spice from Cayenne pepper balance it all out.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup
– 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch chunks
– 4 medium carrots, washed well and roughly chopped
– olive oil
– 6 whole cloves of garlic (skins on)
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 1 large yellow or brown onion, finely chopped
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
– 6 cups vegetable stock/ broth
– salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 F/205 C.
Chop the bottom off of 6 cloves of garlic, but keep them in their skins.
Arrange the 6 garlic cloves, sweet potatoes and carrots on well oiled baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes and carrots are soft and golden. Remove garlic cloves from their skins.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pot. Add chopped onion and a little salt and saute until softened and translucent – about 5 minutes. Add the 2 cloves of chopped garlic and cook for another minute.
Add stock and bring to a boil.
Add roasted carrots, sweet potato and garlic to the stock and bring to a boil again. Remove from heat and then carefully blend with a stick blender or in batches in a blender, until smooth.
Serve warm with fresh ground pepper and a sprinkle of toasted pumpkin seeds.