Avocado Tomatillo Salsa

Why buy salsa when you can make your own? Well, at least, that’s what I think. I haven’t really found a good enough (IMO) tomatillo salsa at the store, so, I made my own. Bring this to a BBQ and you’ll make some new friends and keep your old ones.

  • 4-5 medium size tomatillos
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • handful of cilantro
  • dash of salt (optional)

Remove the husks from the tomatillos and thoroughly rinse off the sticky residue. Place tomatillos and jalapeño in medium-sized pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let them simmer for about 5-7 minutes, or, until the skins wrinkle a bit and they are soft. Drain in a colander and let sit for a few minutes so they cool off a bit. Place tomatillos and pepper in a blender or food processor, along with a dash of salt, lime juice and cilantro. Process until blended.(It won’t take long). A word of caution: be careful and don’t stick your face over the bowl/blender after you’ve removed the lid to smell the salsa because one will be hit with the full on power of the jalapeño scent like a brick wall (my eyes were burning, lesson learned!). Put salsa in container and in the fridge to cool off even more. Once chilled, add the mashed avocado & stir. All done. Now, go grab a beer, or a glass of rosé and some chips and enjoy.

tomatillos and peppers

So pretty!

salsa, pre avocado

Spicy Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

vegetarian chili

Yum! Spicy vegetarian chili with three beans

I have several different versions of vegetarian chili and I can’t believe I never posted any of those recipes on this site! Vegetarian chili is a staple during the Fall/Winter for me. I like to switch up the recipe and use whatever I have on hand. Sometimes I use a grain like farro or bulgar, and vegetables like red/orange/yellow peppers, corn and green beans or edamame. It’s starting to get slightly cooler here in Brooklyn…it’s also rainy and grey and I wanted something warm, spicy and comforting for dinner. Plus, now that college football season has begun, I really enjoy “College Football Saturdays” (Go Blue!!) in my house where I’ll have a beer and a bowl of veg chili, so, it’s a win-win. More importantly, the chili freezes well and I can enjoy it later on.

In this version of chili, I use black, white and garbanzo beans. I like using Muir Glen’s Fire Roasted Tomatoes, regular and with green chilies. These tomatoes add an extra kick and level of flavor to the chili that I really like. I also used Penzey’s crushed jalapeños and for a smokier flavor, I use a little bit of smoked Spanish paprika. A little paprika goes a long way, so, you can just add it and the other spices by dashes (and not teaspoons/tablespoons) and adjust accordingly.

Spicy Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 medium-sized red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced/minced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 can each: black, cannelini, garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1 28oz can Muir Glen fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 14oz can Muir Glen diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1 14oz can Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 2tsp cumin
  • 1TB chili powder
  • 1-2tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 1-2tsp dried jalapeños
  • 1-2TB olive oil

In a Dutch Oven or large soup pot over medium heat, add olive oil and let it heat up, add onions, carrots and garlic and sauté until soft. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, stir, then add beans and spices. Let chili simmer for 30-45 minutes. Spoon into bowls, add shredded cheese, raw onions or even small cooked pasta (this might be a Wisconsin thing because I used to have really good veg chili at the Fuel Cafe in Milwaukee back when I was in grad school, and they topped it with all three. It was delicious). Enjoy!

Spicy Golden Zucchini and Snap Pea Pasta

Sometimes you have bright yellow zucchini in your fridge and don’t want to make grilled corn and yellow squash tacos AGAIN. A colorful, crisp pasta with some kick sounds like a really good alternative, even if you do sweat to death in your kitchen because there’s no cross-breeze. But, hey, that’s summer in Brooklyn. This is a simple past dish that pairs well with a crisp rosé and a side salad of fresh diced tomatoes, drizzled in olive oil. I am always amazed at the vibrant colors (and flavors) of summer vegetables. It’s dishes like these that I miss in, say, January…

  • 1 small/medium golden zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1/2lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 jalapeño minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2TB olive oil
  • Dash of crushed red pepper
  • 2C pasta, cooked, drained
  • grated pecorino romano

Cook your pasta (I used campanelle) and set aside in a large bowl. (You can add a small drizzle of olive oil so it doesn’t stick). Heat skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and wait for a few seconds until it’s warm. Then add minced garlic and jalapeño. Cook for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until it’s sizzling and fragrant. Add your sliced squash and snap peas. I saut&eactue;d them for about 5 minutes until the squash has softened, but the snap peas were still crisp. Add vegetables to pasta and toss with a little grated Pecorino Romano.

Veggies sauteing.

Sautéing the vegetables.

Dinner's on!

Dinner’s on! Add some Pecorino Romano too.

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

cauliflower "fried rice"

cauliflower “fried rice”

I had seen a few other recipes online for this non-grain “fried rice,” so I decided to do my own riff. I was actually quite amazed at how much this is texturally akin to fried rice. I don’t really eat a lot of rice in general, so, I thought I’d prefer this, and, after making it, I do! It’s totally adaptable, in that you can use whatever ingredients you like: bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, pea pods, scallions, etc.

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 leek, sliced thin, thoroughly washed
  • 1/2C thinly sliced carrots
  • 1/2C peas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tsp shredded ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1TB olive oil
  • 2TB low-sodium tamari (or more to taste)
  • Siracha or hot sauce
  • 1-2tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2TB sesame oil

Cut cauliflower into florets, add to food processor and pulse until it resembles grains of rice (depending on how large the head of cauliflower is, you may have to do a few batches). Don’t over-process because it will quickly turn into mush, which you do not want. For the leeks, make sure your sliced leeks are thoroughly washed and free of sand too. I slice them, and then let them soak in a bowl of water, then drain in a colander, repeat a few times.

Heat wok pan or large sauté pan and add olive oil. Then add leeks and garlic and ginger. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the leeks have wilted and cooked down, slightly browned. Add carrots and peas, cook for another few minutes, until tender. Then add cauliflower. Stir until combined. Let the mixture cook down a bit, stirring occasionally. Push mixture to the sides and create a small space in the center of the pan and add the beaten eggs. (Make sure the heat is medium to high). Stir to combine, and the eggs will fry.
*Add the sesame oil, hot sauce, vinegar and tamari. Let this cook on medium for 15-20 minutes. Just eyeball it and see if it’s cooked down (it will).

Note: It might be easier to combine the sesame oil, vinegar, hot sauce and tamari beforehand, rather than adding to pan. That way, you can adjust to seasonings and not have super hot “fried rice” like I did (which I don’t mind at all).

Got wine? This goes well with a nice, mineral-ly, crisp white wine.