Tag Archive: spices


[Winter Squash, Part 2]

Squash!

After finishing off the last of the spaghetti squash, I decided to tackle the butternut squash that you can see lurking there in the background.  Weighing in at over 5lbs, it was an impressive specimen!  I’ve always liked butternut squash (despite the lack of recipes featuring it on this blog!), and I frequently use it in any recipe that calls for pumpkin, since it’s often more readily available than pie pumpkins.  This time, though, I wanted to do something a bit different.

5lbs+!

Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s various squash salad applications (for example this or this), I decided to make up my own.  I contemplated various beans and grains before deciding on using red lentils because a) we had some in the pantry and b) you don’t have to soak them overnight.  Along with the squash and lentils, I decided to roast a few shallots that had been rolling around in the bottom of the fridge, and to top the whole thing off, I went with some feta, parsley, and toasted hazelnuts.  Of course the feta turned out to be the wrong kind for crumbling, but since the salad was warm, I rather liked how it melted and mingled with the squash and lentils.

Cubing a squash that big takes a while...

Parchment keeps your towel clean

So much for the main ingredients, but what about spices?  Normally I probably would have gone with a bolder spice palette, and no doubt would have added a healthy dose of cayenne pepper (or even added some fresh cayenne peppers for that matter–we had quite the haul this year from our balcony garden!) but alas, since pregnancy has given me the gift of heartburn, I had to get a bit more creative with my flavors.  In the end, I decided to roast the squash and shallots together with some whole cumin seeds and a bit of salt, and to cook the lentils with a cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and some black peppercorns, as well as a couple of tablespoons of tamari soy sauce (which is my favorite trick for imparting flavor to any sort of bean/grain/rice).  I also created a simple vinaigrette with olive oil, rice vinegar, and tamari–the acid from the vinegar definitely brightened up the dish, although in retrospect a bit of lemon juice would have been very nice too.

In the end, this dish turned out to be one of the best applications of butternut squash that I’ve ever made–it managed to be filling without being heavy, spiced without being spicy, and it was pretty easy to pull together with a fairly minimal amount of pre-planning.  It also made enough to feed a small army, and the leftovers tasted just as good cold as warm.  I think this dish is definitely going to be a permanent addition to the fall meal rotation.

squashlentils

Warm Salad with Cumin Roasted Butternut Squash and Spiced Lentils
(Serves 6-8)

For the squash:

  • 1 large butternut squash (approx. 5lbs)
  • 1-2 large shallots
  • 3 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2-3 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

For the lentils:

  • 1.75 c red lentils
  • 3.25 c water
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 9 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp tamari soy sauce

Dressing:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp rice vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp tamari soy sauce
  • a few grinds of black pepper

Toppings:

  • 1/4 c crumbled feta cheese (or finely diced if your feta doesn’t crumble)
  • 1/4 c hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
  • small handful of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spread out the hazelnuts on a parchment-lined sheet pan (the kind with edges so they don’t roll off!).  Put them on the middle rack and toast for 8-12 minutes, giving them a good stir halfway through.  You’ll be able to smell when they’re done–don’t burn them!  Remove the hazelnuts from the oven, and turn up the heat to 400 degrees in preparation for the squash.  Allow the hazelnuts to cool for a bit.  Then take the corners of the parchment and bring them together, creating a little package.  Wrap the whole thing in a towel, and rub it around until the nuts are mostly peeled (they don’t need to be perfect).

While the hazelnuts are toasting, peel your butternut squash, halve it lengthwise and scoop out the seeds, and then cut it up into 1-inch cubes.  Peel the shallot(s) and cut into large chunks.  Line the sheet pan you used for the hazelnuts with aluminum foil, and spread out the squash and shallots in a single layer.  Drizzle the grapeseed oil over everything and then sprinkle on the cumin seeds and salt.  Mix it all together with your hands, making sure that all the pieces of squash are coated in oil, spread them back out, and then put it in the oven (which should now be at 400) for 20-30 minutes or until the squash is fork tender but not disintegrating.

Once the squash is going, rinse and pick over your lentils and then add them to a pan with the water, tamari, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and peppercorns.  Give it a good stir and bring it to a boil.  Then reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are fully cooked–probably about 20 minutes.

While the lentils and squash are cooking, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Taste, and adjust the ratio of vinegar/lemon juice to oil as needed.  You may end up wanting to sprinkle a bit more lemon juice or vinegar over the finished salad if the acidic flavor gets lost in the squash and lentils.

Once the lentils are done, drain off any excess water, and pull out the cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and (if you can find them) the peppercorns.  (If you can’t find them, just chew carefully!)  Put the lentils in a large serving bowl along with the squash and shallots.  Mix them together, and then pour on the dressing and add the toppings.  Give everything a good toss, add extra vinegar, lemon juice, or salt to taste, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Sweet potatoes!

I spoke too soon in my last post–it seems spring is still not here.  I woke up to see snow on the ground and to hear little ice pellets clattering against the window.  Since it’s a good day to stay indoors and sit by the fire, I have a hearty, wintertime recipe to share with you.

Until I made these beauties the other day, I had never made twice-baked sweet potatoes before.  In fact, I had never made any kind of twice-baked potato before.  Where had they been all my life??

Twice-baked sweet potatoes are, in fact, surprisingly easy to make, requiring very little effort and only a minimal amount of pre-planning (you’ll need about an hour and a half to make them, but only about 10-15 minutes of that time will be spent actually doing anything.  The oven takes care of the rest!)

The recipe below is really more of a template–there are an infinite number of ways in which you could season your potatoes; I just pulled out a bunch of different spices that I thought would play well together and added them in, a bit at a time, til I had a flavor I was satisfied with.  I ended up using a combination of Chinese five-spice, cayenne pepper, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cinnamon, and curry powder.  The curry powder was a last minute addition, because it still wasn’t tasting quite right–had I thought of it sooner I probably could have eliminated the extra cumin, coriander, and cinnamon.  Other spices that would work as well include ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and allspice.  Or you could try adding a splash of maple syrup with some cayenne…there are a ton of different possibilities.  The key is to add a little at a time, mix well, and taste.  I ended up tasting the mix five or six times before I was satisfied.

Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes
(serves 2)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 3 oz soft goat cheese
  • a pinch of raw cane sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • spices to taste (e.g. curry powder, five-spice, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, ginger, etc)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Thoroughly scrub the sweet potatoes, and poke them all over with a fork.  Put them in the oven, directly onto the middle rack, and put a baking sheet on the rack below to catch any drips.  Bake for about an hour.

When the sweet potatoes are done baking, take them out of the oven, and cut a slit along the top of each potato, lengthwise.  Gently push on the ends of each potato to open it up, and scoop the insides into a bowl with the goat cheese.  Be careful not to tear the skins.  Mix up the sweet potato flesh and goat cheese until fully incorporated.  Then add the sugar, and the spices of your choice, a bit at a time.  Add a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, and mix thoroughly, tasting periodically as you adjust the spicing.

When you like the flavor, gently spoon the filling back into the sweet potato skins, put them on the baking sheet, and return them to the oven to bake for another 10 minutes or so until warmed through and slightly browned on top.  Enjoy!

Egg Kulambu

Looking for something to do with those leftover hardboiled eggs you have laying around after Easter?  Try this awesome South Indian recipe I stumbled across–it only requires an onion, a tomato, a can of tomato sauce, some garlic, and a variety of pretty standard Indian spices.  It’s called Egg Kulambu, and it filled my kitchen with the most delightful smells as it simmered away on the stove.  I used roughly twice as much tomato sauce as the recipe called for (and reduced the amount of water accordingly) because I didn’t want half a can of tomato sauce sitting around.  I actually like the way it made the sauce a bit thicker.  This dish would be excellent served over rice or with some naan, although I actually ended up eating it like soup with some toast on the side.

Be forewarned – this dish does pack a powerful punch, so if you’re sensitive to spicy foods, you may want to cut back on the cayenne a bit. But if you, like me, have been searching for a South Indian recipe that doesn’t hold back on the spices, go for it!

But you may want to have a glass of milk handy, just in case.

That's cilantro on top.  Fresh would be better if you have it...

Egg Kulambu by Alamelu Vairavan

P.S. A note about hard boiling eggs: I usually use this method from Simply Recipes, and I’ve never overcooked my eggs with it.  But I still spend the whole time standing over the pot, worrying if they’re going to come out right.  If anyone has any foolproof tips, leave them in the comments!

Cranberry Upside Down Cake!

Because I was teaching this semester, I wasn’t able to host Thanksgiving this year.  But I still wanted to make something to bring and share…but what?  I wanted something new, but something that would still fit with the Thanksgiving spirit.  Inspiration struck in the form of an email with the new seasonal menu for one of my favorite restaurants.  There, under the desserts, they were featuring a cranberry upside down cake.

I had never really thought of making an upside down cake before, much less one with cranberries.  I had always pictured upside down cakes with rings of pineapple, and they had never seemed particularly appealing to me.  But cranberries…cranberries had possibilities!

The first order of business was figuring out how to make the cranberries stick to the top of the cake.  Flat pineapple slices would sit on a cake fairly well, even with an imperfect “glue” but cranberries seemed problematic to me.  So I asked Google for some help and read through a bunch of different upside down cake recipes and learned that in almost all of them the “glue” is basically just a caramelized sugar and butter mixture that you pour in the bottom of your cake pan, and then press the fruit into before it hardens.  Seemed fairly easy to me!

Then there was the cake to figure out.  Most upside down cake recipes called for some variety of plain cake (white, pound, vanilla, etc) to support the fruit.  On the one hand this makes sense–you want the fruit to be the star of the dish.  But I wanted something different.  I wanted something more than just a blank slate with fruit on top–I wanted something that would work together with the cranberries and enhance them.

Answer?  Spice cake.  When I make cranberry sauce, I add a whole host of spices to the pot, so I figured the same idea would work for the cake.  But I needed somewhere to start.  Luckily, I came across Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for Spiced Applesauce Cake.  I wasn’t entirely sure it would work, because, never having made an upside down cake before, I wasn’t sure how stiff of a cake you would need to hold up the fruit.  (And never having made the applesauce cake before, I was also unsure how strong it would turn out to be.)  I also wanted more spices in the cake than that recipe calls for (because again, I put a LOT of spices in the pot when I make cranberry sauce) so I decided to wing it a bit, and just use the recipe as a guide.

In the end, the final product came together beautifully.  The cake was moist and well-spiced without being overpowering.  The cranberries stayed neatly in place in their single layer, their tartness marrying beautifully with the sweet, aromatic cake.  The one flaw was that in the attempt to not waste any cake batter, I overfilled the cake pan a bit and it overflowed.  Luckily I caught it before *too* much dripped down, and stuck a sheet pan on the rack below to keep it from getting on the heating element and burning.

Oops. Drippy.

Just out of the oven!

Success!

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Cake Batter:

  • 2 c all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 c unsweetened applesauce

Topping:

  • ~2c fresh cranberries (I used a little more than a package…basically you want enough to completely line the bottom of your pan in a single layer)
  • 3/4 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar

Note: You can either make this cake in a 9′ cake pan or a 10′ cast iron skillet.  I made it in a cake pan, and had slightly too much cake batter.  It would most likely all fit in the skillet.  The advantage of using a cast iron skillet is that you can caramelize the butter and sugar right there, as opposed to needing to pour it from a saucepan into the cake pan.  On the other hand, using the cake pan, I was able to line the bottom with a disc of parchment paper, which made for easy extraction.  It’s up to you.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan (or your cast iron skillet) melt the butter for the topping over medium heat, and then stir in the brown sugar.  Keep stirring constantly as it simmers for 4-5 minutes.  The color should darken some, but don’t let it burn!  Pour it into your parchment-lined cake pan if you’re using one, and then spread the cranberries over the top in a single layer, packing them in tightly.  (You could even arrange them in a pattern if you wanted to be fancy.)  Do not touch the sugar/butter mixture.  It will burn you.  Set the pan aside.

Whisk or sift together all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Then, in a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, vanilla extract, and softened butter–keep going until it’s light and fluffy.  (You’re going to want to use an electric mixer/stand mixer to do this unless you want a really good workout.  Because it takes a good 2-3 minutes on high to achieve proper fluffiness.)  Then beat in the eggs one at a time, and finally beat in the applesauce.  Then mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.  I did this by hand because my mixer doesn’t have a setting that’s low enough to avoid a flour explosion.

Pour the batter over the cranberries in the cake pan/skillet.  Even if you have a little batter left over, do not overfill your cake pan.  Bake the rest into a little spice muffin if you like.  Put the cake in the oven on the center rack, and put a sheet pan on the rack below (just in case you did overfill), and bake for 35-40 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean *and* the center of the cake feels springy when you press on it gently (i.e. doesn’t feel like it’s a crust sitting on top of liquid).  Make sure you do both tests–toothpicks were coming out clean significantly before the center of the cake was fully set.

Cool the cake in the pan on top of a cooling rack for 15-30 minutes or until you can easily handle it with your bare hands.  (Even longer won’t hurt it.)  Gently run a knife around the edge of your cake to loosen it in the pan.  Then take your cake plate, put it upside down on the top of your cake, and flip.  The cake should slide easily out of the pan.  If you made it in a cake pan with parchment paper, gently peel off the circle of parchment.  Cool completely and enjoy.  Store leftovers in the refrigerator–it makes an excellent breakfast the next day!

I made this recipe back at the beginning of January, but only now have I finally found the time to post it.  It’s a good, hearty bean soup, spicy but not overwhelming, and good for warming up on a cold winter’s day.  Y’know, if it’s still winter where you are.  It’s certainly not here!

Bean Soup!

For the beans, I used Trader Joe’s 17 bean and barley mix–a colorful collection of beans, split peas, and lentils including everything from baby lima beans to blackeye peas to pearl barley.  But if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you, feel free to improvise and use whatever combination of beans, lentils, and split peas you like!  Do stick to dried beans rather than canned though, as dried will hold up better to the long cooking process.  (Plus they’re cheap to buy in bulk!)

For vegetables, I used onion, carrots and parsnips, which were what I had laying around in the bottom of the fridge.  You could certainly use other vegetables as well, such as celery or fennel…sweet potatoes would also go well with the spices in the soup–just dice them up into 1-inch chunks and add them at the same time as the beans.

Vegetables!

The strongly flavored spices in this soup contrast well with the relatively neutral flavors of the beans and lentils, as well as the sweetness brought by the carrots and parsnips.  But if you’re missing one or two of the spices, don’t worry–just use what you have.  And you can always adjust the flavors at the end.  But just to warn you, the cayenne pepper does give the soup a bit of a kick, so if you don’t like spicy food, just leave it out.

Spices!

 

Spicy Bean Soup
(serves 6-8) 

  • 1lb mixed dried beans, split peas and lentils (or 1 package of Trader Joe’s 17 bean and barley mix)
  • 3-5 medium carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 medium parsnips
  • olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/3c white wine
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • dash of dried cilantro
  • dash of crushed red pepper
  • water or vegetable stock
  • salt to taste

Soak your bean mix in cold water for several hours before you intend to start cooking (or overnight).  Drain and rinse.

Put a large stock pot on the stove over medium heat.  Peel and dice the parsnips, carrots, and onion, and when the pot is hot, pour in a good glug of olive oil and add the vegetables.  Let them cook for a bit, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to go translucent.  Then add the wine and bay leaf, and continue to cook until most of the wine has cooked off.

Now add your spice mix.  After stirring it in, add your drained and rinsed bean mix, and enough water or stock to cover everything by an inch or so.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer until the beans are cooked through and tender.  This will take about an hour, depending on how soft you want the beans.  Check the soup periodically while it’s simmering, and if it seems like a lot of the liquid has boiled off, add a bit more water.

When the beans are cooked through, taste the soup and add salt as necessary.  If you want it spicier, feel free to add another dash of cayenne pepper.  Serve as is, or topped with a dollop of sour cream.  Enjoy!

I’ll admit it–I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post.  Why?  Because of the two people who tried this dish (me and my fiance) only one of us (me) liked it.  50% success rating?  Not very good.

But I liked it!  So I’ve decided to post it anyways.  Feel free to try it out, make your own tweaks, and tell me what you think.

squash

Yellow summer squash has a pretty delicate flavor, which makes it a good canvas for mixing with other, stronger flavors.  I decided I wanted to try marinating it in a mix of spices, so I pulled out all the spices I thought would work well together, measured them into a bowl (amounts based on how it smelled), and then I chopped the squash into 1 inch(ish) cubes, tossed them in a ziploc bag, poured in just enough olive oil to coat them, and then added the spice mix.  I sealed up the bag and tossed it around until all of the squash was well coated in spices and then I left it to sit while I got everything else ready.

Spice Mix

Marinating Squash

 

I put a pot of water on the stove to boil for making buckwheat, which I thought would make a good base for the spiced squash.  You could also use rice, quinoa, couscous, or any other grain you wanted.  Once that got going, I chopped up some baby red onions, and put my largest skillet on the stove to heat up.

Once the skillet was good and hot (check this by dripping some water on it–if it sizzles and evaporates right away, it’s ready), I dropped in the squash.  To get a bit of a flavor contrast with the savory spices of the squash, I also added about a third of a cup of dried sour cherries.  You could use any dried fruit, really, depending on what you’re going for, but I found that I really liked the sourness the cherries brought to this dish.

After half a minute or so, I added in some white wine,  because I had a bottle that was almost empty and it seemed like a good idea!  It turned out to be an excellent idea except that I only had about a quarter cup left.  If I were making this recipe again I would definitely use at least half a cup if not a bit more so that the wine flavor really gets in there.  The cherries and the wine really pair well together.

Simmering

I let everything simmer down for several minutes, and then I added the onions and covered it so that the squash would cook through faster.  (The buckwheat was almost done!)  After simmering for about 20 minutes, the squash was tender and it was time to serve it up!  I put a scoop of buckwheat on each plate, put a good-sized scoop of squash on top, plus a bit of the juice from the bottom of the pan.  And that’s it!

Spiced Yellow Squash

Spiced Yellow Squash
(serves 3-4)

  • 2 medium yellow squash, chopped into ~1″ cubes
  • 1/3c dried sour cherries 
  • 2-3 baby red onions or shallots, chopped
  • 1/2c white wine
  • olive oil
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1/8tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8tsp black pepper
  • 1c buckwheat or other grain
First, measure out your spices into a bowl and mix them together.  Feel free to vary the amounts–it has a pretty good kick the way I made it.  Chop your squash into approximately 1 inch cubes, then toss it in a ziploc bag with some olive oil and the spices.  Make sure it’s fully coated with the spices, and then leave it to marinate for a bit.
Put the water on to boil for the buckwheat/rice/whatever, and make it according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, chop the onions, and put a large skillet on medium heat.  When the skillet is hot, add the squash and the cherries.  Let it sizzle for half a minute to a minute, and then add the white wine.  When it starts to reduce, add the onions and cover so that the squash cooks through.  (If you don’t have a cover for your skillet, use aluminum foil).  When the squash is tender, serve on top of a scoop of buckwheat.
My fiance wanted the dish to be sweeter.  If you agree, feel free to add a few handfuls of golden raisins at the same time you add the cherries.  Personally I like it better without, but to each their own!

Heidi Swanson over at 101 Cookbooks always has great recipes, but her recipe for Feisty Green Beans ranks as one of the best things I have ever tasted.  Period.  Between the crisp freshness of the still-slightly-raw green beans to the pops of sweetness from the raisins to the aromatic mixture of Indian-style spices, everything about this dish works perfectly together.  I’m so happy I have leftovers!  And if there are green beans again at the farmer’s market the next time I go, I’ll definitely be making this again!

I came across this recipe while trying to figure out what to with the pound of beans I had sitting in my fridge.  I wanted to make something more inspired than just beans sauteed with a little butter and basil, which was all that was coming to mind for me.  I also didn’t want to have to go to the grocery store, because I’m trying to stop spending so much on groceries by cooking with things I already have in the pantry.  So I looked around for different recipes and found a few that sounded like they had potential, but nothing that would work as a main course, and nothing that I had all the ingredients for.  Until I found the Feisty Green Beans.

Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list–most of the ingredients are spices which you probably have on hand.  (Especially if you ever make Indian food).  I did end up substituting paneer for the tofu because a) I didn’t have any tofu and b) I really don’t like tofu.  The paneer works out really well in this dish though, so I’m really glad I used it.  It adds a bit of a salty flavor which contrasts nicely with the raisins and spices.  You could also probably substitute queso blanco for the tofu if you can’t find paneer, but I personally find that queso blanco doesn’t have quite as nice a texture as paneer.

So the next time you’re at the farmer’s market, get yourself a pound of green beans and make this recipe!  You’ll be sooo happy you did!

There comes a point, about a week and a half after grocery shopping, when you realize oh no!  You bought way too much produce and it’s starting to go bad!  No?  Maybe it’s only me…

When I find myself in such a situation, I have two go-to options: veggie omelette* or stir fry. But since I didn’t have any eggs, stir fry it was!

A random assortmentI had a random assortment of veggies on hand–half a red pepper, half an onion, a beet (the last of the beets!), and some broccoli. This to me says Thai food. (Well, except the beet. But I needed to use it up.) But, of course, this being clean out the fridge day, I didn’t have all the ingredients to make any sort of authentic Thai food. So I decided to just go with whatever seemed like it would taste good–veggies, spices, and long noodles.

When I’m making up a stir fry with a lot of spices, I always like to get them out ahead of time so that I don’t forget any potentially good ones. I pulled out ground ginger, garlic powder, chili powder, salt, black pepper, paprika, rice vinegar, fish sauce, and olive oil, figuring that I’d decide as I went along which ones I would actually use.  I ended up not bothering with the paprika or garlic powder, or the vinegar (but more on that later.

Now most people use some sort of large frying pan or wok for making stir fry.  This has some definite advantages, particularly the fact that it would be infinitely easier to clean something that you can actually put in the sink.  But I haven’t gotten around to buying one and I’m still cooking with my post-college collection of random cookware.  Thus my stir fry was made in this:

It's electric!

My trusty electric griddle!

The biggest advantage of cooking in this is that it heats up instantaneously.  Makes for speedier cooking!

Veggies!Once I had everything out and chopped, and water boiling on the stove for noodles, I put a couple glugs of olive oil in the griddle, turned it on, and let it heat up for a few seconds before tossing in the pepper, onion, and broccoli.  After stirring things around a bit and getting a nice sizzle going it was time to start adding spices.  I started off with the ginger, because I knew I was aiming for a gingery taste in the end.  I had to put in a lot.  If you’re making this at home, do it with fresh ginger if you can–the flavor will be much stronger!  Then I added a little bit of salt (though not much because I was planning on adding fish sauce later and fish sauce is salty!), some black pepper, and some chili powder, mixed everything around a bit more and tasted it.  More chili powder and ginger!  I really wanted this to have a kick to it.  Once the broccoli was bright green and the peppers and onions were softening, I turned the heat almost all the way down just to keep it warm.  You don’t want to overcook the vegetables!

Once the pasta was done, I drained it, and dumped it in with the vegetables.  The pasta I used came from Trader Joe’s and was a spinach and chive linguine.  But really you could use whatever you want.  I do like linguine for this type of stir fry though.  I turned up the heat a bit, and after giving everything a good stir, I decided it was time to add some sauce.

Now, I had no real plan for making this sauce.   I vaguely intended to do something with fish sauce and vinegar.  But I didn’t want to ruin the veggies.  So I put a forkful into another bowl, dripped some fish sauce on it and tasted it.  Wow is fish sauce ever fishy when there’s not a lot of other flavors mixed with it!  (Yes, I know, this should have been obvious.)  A little grossed out, I decided to add the vinegar to see what that would do to the flavor.  So I added a few drops of vinegar to what was left in the bowl.  Bad idea.  Terrible idea, in fact.  The vinegar idea was thus quickly vetoed.   I decided, however, that a few drops of fish sauce in the entire stir fry wouldn’t be too overpowering, so I put some in.  You could easily substitute soy sauce instead to make this vegetarian.  And honestly?  After the fishy smell/taste overload of the test bite…I might do that next time too.

At this point you might be wondering what happened to the beet.  Or you might have forgotten about it like I did.  Granted I didn’t intend to put it in til the end anyways since all it needed to do was warm up, but I totally forgot about it until I was about to plate my food.  But I tossed it in, turned up the heat again, stirred everything around, and then tasted it.  I added a little more ginger, gave it one last good stir, turned off the heat, and plated up my food!

Done!

On the plate!

On the left: Stir fry. On the right: Mango slaw (minus the cashews and mint) from Smitten Kitchen**

 

*Actually it very rarely turns into an omelette as I don’t have an appropriately sized frying pan.  Usually it’s more like scrambled eggs with vegetables.

**Smitten Kitchen’s mango slaw recipe.