Triple Green Pasta

Twice this week, I realized half way through the day that all I had that day was sugar and caffeine. Not good. Why is it that we glorify being busy again? So when I came up for air, I decided what my body needed was good carbs (as in whole grains) and vegetables, preferably green. I remembered a recipe from a book and tried to recreate it: Whole wheat pasta with three kinds of greens. Delicious and perfect for fueling.  Side note: if you love pasta and eat is as often as I do, go whole wheat. I remember my mum making it and I HATED it but in the meantime, I love it so much that eating white pasta grosses me out. True story!

For 2 people:

photo(1)Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat pasta (I make app. 100g/person or 0.5lbs)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green onions, washed and roughly chopped
  • a good handful of snow peas, washed and cut in half if too big
  • a good handful of fresh organic spinach, washed
  • 1 cup/250ml Broth
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to packages. Once water boils, scoop one cup of water out and dissolve broth powder, if you are using instant broth (which I was because I’m out of my home made broth).

In the meantime, wash and chop your vegetables. Heat oil and add green onions, then snow peas. Turn down heat, add broth and let it simmer until snow peas are soft. Turn heat off. Add pasta and spinach, mix well. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

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Butternut Squash Soup – a Winter favourite

I made the cardinal mistake earlier this week of mentioning how it really hasn’t been such a bad winter here, as in, I could ride my Vespa pretty much every day. Every since that statement, it hasn’t stopped pouring rain, just to prove a point. How foolish of me!

So once again, I’m making soup. And no, I’m not tired of them. Here a recipe for my butternut squash soup, one of my winter favourites, especially if I can convince my husband to peel and cube – that’s really the most work intensive part of this soup. It’s called teamwork!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Image Courtesy: Boaz Yiftach

Image Courtesy: Boaz Yiftach

  • 1 medium sized butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon and 2 tbsp nutmeg
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • fresh cream, whipped cream or milk – optional

Directions:

Heat butter or oil, sauté onions and squash. Add broth, broth should cover the squash; let it simmer for 15 minutes or until soft (depends on size of cubes). Add cinnamon and nutmeg. Puree. The soups should be rather thick, but it’s entirely a matter of preference. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. If you like, add a dollop of whipped cream or a bit of fresh organic milk or cream. I personally think that is super tasty, but does add a few calories. Enjoy this warming and comforting bowl of goodness!

 

Stir fry – My mum’s Chinese dish

This is a variation of one of my favourite childhood meals my mum used to make – her “Chinese”. After going to a Chinese wedding a few years back, I realized our idea of Chinese food has very little to do with the real thing. 10 courses later, I left the wedding hungry and disillusioned – obviously what Chinese restaurants serve in the Western world is not Chinese food, but what Westerners think Chinese food is. Same here – so don’t expect what I didn’t eat at the wedding (Jellyfish, Shark Fin soup (I would NEVER!), tentacles from some unidentified seamonster, insects and 6 other courses that sometimes make their way into my nightmares). I don’t mean to offend anyone who likes the “real” Chinese food, but here a toned down version. Sorry also if I just ruined your appetite.

For 4 people:

Stir fry

  • 1lb (300 g meat (I use either  chicken breast or beef and slice them, you could do Tofu as well)
  • Soy sauce
  • Ginger, piece the size of your thumb, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • 1 cup/250ml Sherry or Broth or a combination of the two
  • Vegetables : carrots, bok choy, peppers, mungo sprouts, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach or whatever else your heart desires or your fridge has in it.
  • Rice (perfume, jasmine, or brown) or Asian noodles

Directions:

Marinate the meat or tofu 1 h in soy sauce, sesame seed oil, ginger and garlic. See image for how the meat should be sliced.

If you are going with rice, cook according to package (usually 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water). Turn off heat about half way through, put a lid on pot, and let it sit. With the right ratio of water and rice, it should turn out perfect and be ready when your stir fry is. Plus you save some electricity. Win-win. If you have a rice cooker, just let it do its thing.

Wash and chop vegetables. Carrots into small sticks (image). No matter what vegetables you use, you should have about 2-3 cups (500-750 g) vegetables in total.

If you use noodles instead of rice, bring 1l of water to a boil and cook noodles according to package now.

Heat peanut oil in Wok or large frying pan. Add vegetables according to length it takes to cook them: carrots first, then broccoli, peppers, mushrooms, bok choy… Sprouts and spinach last.

Stir cornstarch into sherry or broth in a glass, set aside.

Fry meat in separate pan – shortly, but all the way through. Set aside.

Add more ginger and garlic to the vegetable mix, add soy sauce and if you like, the meat marinade. Stir well, add sherry or broth and meat as well as the noodles if you chose this option. Heat up, taste. Add water if too salty or more soy sauce if not enough. Serve with rice if you didn’t add noodles. What’s your favourite combination?

Carrot Lime Ginger Soup

It has been a cold few days, we even have snow, which is so rare that people don’t go to work because they don’t know how – I’m talking no buses run, highways jammed with cars that have summer tires on, and closed down bridges – which makes me laugh. In a nice, respectful way of course. Growing up in Switzerland we called this BBQ weather. Kidding, but I rode my bike thousands of times in the snow, it’s not as big of a deal as you might think.

Anyway, because of this weather, all I have been wanting to drink all day is tea and all I want to eat is soup, hot and warming soup. Here’s a new favourite, courtesy of my sister:

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb (500g) carrots, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 organic lime, peel and juice
  • 4 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
  • 1 piece of ginger, size of your thumb, peeled and grated
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Directions:

Heat butter or oil, sauté onions and carrots. After a few minutes, lime peel and grated ginger. Add broth, broth should cover the carrots; let it simmer for 15 minutes. Add lime juice (I love lime so I added the whole thing but figure out what you like, maybe half is enough), sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Puree soup and enjoy!

Anytime you eat the peel of a fruit or vegetable, as I do here with the lime, be sure to buy organic. I don’t want to scare you but obviously the outside of the fruit or vegetable is most affected by pesticides and other toxins so that’s why I stressed it here.

If you liked this soup or changed it to your liking, let me know by commenting on it and share it!

 

Salad Dressings

I have a feeling most of you never think twice about salad dressing. You buy the kind your mum already bought and or your room mate in college. I’d also guess that part of why you are not particularly keen on eating salad, if that is indeed the case, is because the said dressing is boring. I find most store bought dressings are too salty, too plain, and (this might surprise you) have a ton of calories. Considering how incredibly easy and fast it is to make your own, I really don’t understand why people buy dressing. This is going to sound weird, but you wouldn’t believe how many people ask me for salad dressing recipes I’ve made. And my answer is embarrassingly simple: good olive oil, high quality vinegar (I love apple cider vinegar or balsamic, especially Balsamico di Modena), sea salt and freshly ground pepper. No joke. Obviously I often elaborate or substitute, but that’s a good start for a guaranteed tasty dressing.

In general:

Image Courtesy Luigi Diamanti

Image Courtesy Luigi Diamanti

  • oil (good quality olive, like cold pressed extra virgin, or try peanut, sesame…I avoid canola because a lot of it is GMO, unfortunately. Infused oils are great too and make any dressing something special).
  • vinegar (Balsamico di Modena, white wine, apple cider, rice vinegar..). You can also use a different acid like lemon or lime juice.
  • If you like a creamy dressing, add mayo, sour cream, or even real cream. I personally dislike mayo, always have, so I substitute with sour cream or plain (Greek) yogurt. Works great and is better for you so take that, mayo.
  • Add something special like horseradish, mustard or Worcestershire sauce. I have about 5 different kind of mustards in my fridge: regular, Dijon, grainy German style, white wine, raspberry (that’s a thing) and nut. Oh that’s six kinds!
  • seasoning: sea salt, freshly ground pepper. Or add herbs. Wait, I already listed those as salad ingredients. Oh well.

Here a few of my favourite creations:

  • Clearly Saturday Night: (the name is a long story) 3 tbsp olive oil, 6 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp grainy mustard, 1 tbsp sour cream or plain yogurt, 1 clove of garlic (I usually steal a clove from when I bake a garlic because the taste of raw garlic can be overpowering), salt and pepper
  • Lemony: juice of half a lemon, 3 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp sour cream, 1 tbsp mustard, salt and pepper. Goes really well with a salty salad, say one with cheese.
  • Honey: 3 tbsp olive oil, 6 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, salt and pepper.
  • “Asian”: 3 tbsp sesame oil, 6 tbsp rice vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp soy sauce, grated ginger (piece the size of your thumb), sesame seeds. So good with a warm green bean salad, asparagus or a salad with sliced beef.
  • Vinaigrette: small onion (chopped), small pickle (chopped), 1 tbsp grainy mustard, 6 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 3 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp hot broth, parsley and chives (chopped), salt and pepper
  • Curry: juice of half a lemon, 3 tbsp oil, 2 tsp mild curry powder, 2 tbsp plain yogurt, sugar, tumeric (curcuma), salt and pepper to taste. Really good with a simple apple and fennel salad.

Another tip: find out what kind of ratio of acid-oil you like. I’m a 2 part acid (vinegar) – 1 part oil person. Some people do the exact opposite. Whatever floats your boat!

Are you ever going back to buying dressing?

Tomato Orange Soup or Christmas in a Cup

Here a soup I like to eat this time of year, not just because I plan on overeating at Christmas and could use something lighter before and after, but also because it tastes very Christmas-y. Agreed?

Serves 4

Tomato Orange SoupIngredients:

  • 1 lb (500g) tomatoes
  • 1 tsp oil or butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 sprigs fresh basil
  • 2 cups (1 l) vegetable broth (for recipe, click here)
  • 1.5 cups (400ml) fresh orange juice
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • A few cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Directions:

Snick the tops of the tomatoes, plunge them briefly into boiling water, allowing for easier peeling. Peel and dice. Heat butter or oil, sauté onions until soft. Add tomato puree. After a few minutes, add diced tomatoes. Dust with flour, add basil, then broth. Bring to a boil, stir continuously; let it simmer for 15 minutes.

In a separate pot, bring orange juice, sugar and spices to a boil and simmer on low until liquid is reduced by half. Pour reduction through a sieve to the tomato soup, take off heat and blend until smooth. Add cream or milk. Do not boil soup again as dairy can separate. Alternatively, whip cream and add a dollop directly into the serving bowls, sprinkle with cinnamon. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Adapted from Hiltl. Veggie International: A World of Difference. Book, published by Orell Fuessli. 2009.