Category Archives: Vegetables and Fruits

Favorite Winter Salad – Orange, Avocado and Pomegranate

Recipe inspired by: John’s pomegranate and the trick I learned to get the seeds out

orange and pomegranate saladOne usual hectic morning, I was in my office frenetically dialing in for the next conference call that I was already late for when a big, red, round object suddenly appeared between me and my phone. I looked up, and it was my co-worker John who just walked in to join the call, with his signature gentle smile, reaching out to offer me a gorgeous pomegranate that came from his backyard. “Pomegranate!” I squeaked. “You said you like it,” said John. “Um… hello?” perplexed voice came out of the speaker phone.

John remembered correctly. I enjoy eating all kinds of fruits but have particular appreciation for seasonal ones. Among winter fruits, a pomegranate is such a bright star – I cannot get enough of juicy, zesty, sweet, crunchy goodness of this salad, but I would also eat the seeds as is, sprinkle over yogurt, or mix in with couscous and nuts for pilaf. I love how they make everything a little bit more special, and the experience starts the moment you break the fruit – Seeing the creamy white inside filled with those sparkling garnet gems overflowing out of it virtually unleashes my inner princess, although in reality I’m most likely standing by the kitchen sink in my sweat pants with Hello Kitty slipper socks. Continue reading

Marinated Kale and Avocado Salad

Recipe adapted from: The Everything Raw Food Recipe Book (by Mike Snyder with Nancy Faass, MSW, MPH and Lorena Novak Bull, RD)

marinated kale and avocado saladI’m a Trader Joe’s kind of gal but there are two reasons I go to Whole Foods Market for. One is a bunch of organic carrots that still have green top (I discovered carrots greens a while ago and it is utterly, utterly delicious) and the other is dinosaur kale. Strongly flavored and textured kale is my favorite out of all dark leafy greens and I do love common, curly kind. But some recipes like this one call for crinkly dinosaur kale which is a bit softer and milder.

The only problem is that I seem to be able to get them only at Whole Foods. Even my trusted Asian and Middle Eastern markets that usually carry every obscure vegetable don’t seem to have this type of kale regularly. Suppose I could just include Whole Foods in my weekly grocery shopping route to spend every Saturday afternoon driving around the valley to get what I need for the following week. I would, for this salad. But I had the strategy last year. Continue reading

Chickpea and Spinach Stew with Cumin and Harissa

Recipe inspired by: Chickpea Stew at Gjelina (and the lack of Robert Downey, Jr.)

chickpea and spinach stew

Gjelina is a restaurant on trendy Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice, which is very popular despite of its unpronounceable name (it’s ja-lee-na).  It is a kind of place that embodies everything great about LA when we get it right; The setting relaxed and casual but sophisticated and stylish, food simple at a glance but masterfully crafted and balanced with well selected ingredients, and wait staff good looking and friendly but not too friendly. You get the idea.

The problem is that EVERYBODY thinks the place is great (including Robert Downey Jr., who apparently makes frequent appearances… at least according to Yelp, although I have never seen him there) so the table is rather hard to book. But when I want to go there, I must go there and have their decadent maitake mushroom toast with truffle oil, super thin-crust pizza with Gruyere and arugula, and most of all, the unforgettable chickpea stew – NOW. Not tomorrow, not the day after. And definitely not in 2 weeks. Continue reading

Indian Mango Dal

Recipe adapted from: http://www.eatingwell.com

Indian mango dal

I’ve always loved eating Indian foods, and I recently realized I love cooking Indian dishes as much as eating them. There is something magical about the process of layering ingredients and the spices – Aroma changes as each element is added and getting increasingly complex, then once everything is mixed and finished cooking, suddenly all the flavors are merged together to form one perfectly balanced taste as if it was meant to be. Truly fascinating.

I think this dish epitomizes such joy, but without having to go through elaborated steps. Red lentils are cooked with cinnamon and turmeric to bring out the nutty sweetness, while onion, garlic and ginger are pan fried with cumin seeds and coriander. Once the ingredients have completely absorbed wonderful flavor of spices respectively, everything is combined then further cooked with diced mango until the fruit becomes soften and jammy, and lentils are broken down. It is a fairly simple and easy dish to make, but has such an unbelievably intoxicating flavor that will make you cook it again and again. I sometimes serve this for guests and always get asked for the recipe. Continue reading

Curried Quinoa Salad

Recipe adapted from: Simple Vegetarian Pleasures (by Jeanne Lemlin)

curried quinoa saladOriginally, this recipe was for a rice salad, but I took liberty to make slight modifications as the recipe is so versatile with many of ingredients interchangeable. The curry-flavored dressing is simple but genius – It is so accommodating that whatever the tweaks you may try, it will most likely tie everything together nicely. I made a few variations depending on what I had in freezer/refrigerator at the time, and this is my favorite combination so far.

Please note that there will be a bit of planning involved, as you are supposed to leave it for 1-8 hours for flavors to be mixed and develop after you have combined all the ingredients.  For this reason, it has become one of my lunch staples when I don’t have any left-over from the night before. Continue reading