butternut squash soup with curry and coconut milk

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Soup!  Glorious soup!  Though the weather is changing its mind faster than a fickle teenager (it was in the low 60s on Thursday and the high 80s yesterday), I’ve managed to whip up some steaming bowls of veggie goodness during some of the colder nights.  My love of this meager staple should be of no surprise to you all, so I vow to limit my soup posts to those with some pizazz.  And this is it.

Coming from Molly Wizenberg’s spectacular blog Orangette, this recipe, like most I like to post, is gloriously simple yet totally delicious.  Rich, silky, slightly spicy, and full of flavor.  This is absolutely our new go-to squash soup!

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk (slightly adapted from Orangette)

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
3 or 4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon Sriracha
Lime wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Spray or lightly coat the flesh with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put flesh side down on baking sheet.  Roast for 1 hour or until soft.  Let cool slightly and scoop out cooked flesh.

Warm the oil in a Dutch oven (or other approximately 5-quart pot) over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, and cook for 1 minute more. Add the roasted squash, coconut milk, broth, maple syrup, fish sauce, and Sriracha, and stir well. Raise the heat to bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the flavors meld.

Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender), puree the soup until smooth and velvety, about 3 minutes straight. Taste for salt and sweetness, and adjust if necessary. Ladle the soup into bowls with a squeeze of lime and serve hot.

Servers 4

 

 

 

grated zucchini and avocado tuna salad

photo 3We all know how healthy tuna is.  We also know how healthy avocado is…

That reminds me of this time I had a huge crush on this guy.  He was very tall, very handsome, and in very good shape.  He also became semi-famous about 5 years after this story, but that is neither here nor there.  So, after a couple initial awkward flirtations, I decide this one night I was sure to see him that I was really going to put on the charm and get him to ask me out.  I’m all smiles and he’s all swagger.

Hot guy I used to know: “So, what did you do tonight?”
Me, trying to be cool: “Just had dinner with a friend.”
Hot guy wanting further information: “What did you have?”
Me, excited he’s interested in something food related: “I had their roasted chicken and avocado burrito.”
Hot guy surprisingly declares: “Oh, I don’t eat avocado.”
Me, astonished: “Uh, why? It’s so healthy and delicious!”
Hot guy getting less hot by the minute: “It’s too fattening.”
Me, completely turned off: “Um, ok.”

I kid you not, I decided in that moment that this little crush I had was over.  I don’t even know if he was really interested, but any guy that is so obviously neurotic and vain that he doesn’t even eat healthy fats like avo, is not the guy for me.

Prior to my current love, who is gloriously open to most food and thinks anything I cook is good even if I think it’s terrible, I was plagued with boyfriends that were unadventurous eaters.  One guy literally wanted to sit further away from me because he was so grossed out that I was consuming sushi.  That one didn’t last long either.

Good food is one of the great pleasures in life, and what a sad existence it would be to purposefully limit and deny yourself all the amazing food in the world.

Okay.  Back to this yummy tuna salad.  Tuna salad has been done.  Overdone.  Most of the time is a slimy mess of thick mayonnaise, under-seasoned and underwhelming.  Not to mention that drowning tuna in mayo kinda negates the health factor.  This recipe is none of these things.  Substituting most of the mayo with avocado gives it creaminess without the saturated fat.  And then you make it even healthier with a whole zucchini grated in there.  Zucchini has such a mild flavor and great crunch when raw, so it’s perfect to add here.  Really gives it needed texture.

Scoop all the goodness out of a whole avocado, add a tablespoon of mayo, then salt and pepper it.

photo 2Then mash!

photo 3Grab that zucchini and grater.

photo 1And grate away.

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Add grated zucchini and 3 cans of tuna to the bowl.

photoThen mix it all up.

photo 1Check for seasoning.  You will need to salt and pepper it some more.  Then spread on some toast, scoop it onto a salad, or, as I like to do, eat with some whole wheat crackers.

photo 4Now, stuff your face!

Grated Zucchini and Avocado Tuna Salad
1 whole avocado
1 tablespoon mayonnaise (I like grapeseed oil kind)
3 5-ounce cans of tuna (I use a mix of yellowfin in olive oil, and albacore in water)
1 whole zucchini, grated
s&p
whole wheat crackers for scooping (optional)
other good stuff you can add: minced onion, tomatoes, jalapeños, sriracha

Scoop avocado flesh into a large bowl and add mayo, salt, and pepper.  Mash to combine.  Add grated zucchini and tuna.  Stir.  Check for seasoning.  Eat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Pan Pasta

photo 3My love for pasta can only be accurately described by the following Portlandia skit.

If left to my own devices, I would go the way of Peter – watching pasta porn and hiding zip-locked noodles in the cistern. To me, little comforts my belly as much as a large bowl of starchy pasta goodness.

This recipe. THIS RECIPE! If you are a food blog junkie, you’ve undoubtedly already seen it. But if you haven’t, you, my dear, are in for a treat. It is genius. It will leave you thinking, “why haven’t I always made pasta this way?” One pan, under 20 minutes, cooks the pasta and makes a light and flavorful sauce at the same time. Genius, I say! And I bet it’s highly adaptable. Add some heavy cream, pesto, pureed eggplant… so many options. But the real beauty of this dish is in its simplicity.

Go forth and cook some pasta I tell you!

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One Pan Pasta (from Lottie+Doof)
12 ounces linguine
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
1 onion, thinly sliced (red, yellow, or white)
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2- 3/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 sprigs basil, plus torn leaves for garnish
2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
pepper
4 1/2 cups water
Freshly grated parm or romano for serving (if you wish)

A couple notes: Do not skimp on the salt!  It will flavor the the pasta and the sauce. Also, use a large, deep, and straight-sided skillet.  The pasta should lay flat in it.

Combine all ingredients in skillet.  Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 minutes.  Remove whole sprigs of basil.  Plate and top with fresh basil and cheese.

Serves 4 (or 1, depending on your level of pasta addiction)

Famous Food: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sriracha Lime Salmon & Paul Qui’s Asian Stir-fried Spinach

IMG_1753There are a lot of Gwyneth haters out there.  Seriously, people were losing their damn minds when she was featured on the cover of Bon Appetit.  But honestly, every single recipe of hers that I’ve made has been simple and delicious.  Now, does that grant a cover on that beloved food magazine?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I will make a Gwyneth recipe before a Rachael Ray recipe any day.  This particular gem is crazy easy and crazy good.  Spicy sriracha, lots of lime, and freshly chopped cilantro – need I say more?!

To accompany said salmon, I made Paul Qui’s coconut milk stir fried spinach.  Another keeper and a cinch to make.  He uses classic Asian flavors to make ordinary sautéed spinach extraordinary.  I baked my shallots until they were crunchy (ahem, slightly burnt), but you can find fried onions at the Asian supermarket easily.

These two dishes – created by two famous people, one who kicked some serious ass in Iron Man 3 and the other an Austin icon – come together for a healthy and delicious dinner done in under 30 minutes.  Get to it!

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Sriracha Lime Salmon (slightly modified from here)

  • juice and zest of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 lb salmon fillet, skin removed
  • s&p

Heat oven to 425°. In a bowl, whisk together juice, zest, syrup, sriracha, and a little salt. Place salmon in a foil-lined baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and pour sriracha lime sauce over top. Roast salmon until cooked through and flaky, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro.  Serves 2.

 

Paul Qui’s Asian Stir-fried Spinach (slightly modified from here)

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces baby spinach (I used a baby spinach, baby kale mix)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • fried Thai onions or baked shallots

In a large skillet, heat the coconut oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Add the spinach all at once and toss until nearly wilted. Add the coconut milk and fish sauce and cook until the spinach is tender and the coconut milk has reduced, about 3 minutes. Top with fried onions and serve.

 

Hot Sauce Chicken with Blue Cheese

IMG_1221As the sun bears down heavily in Austin, ushering in the new season, I am filled with dread anticipation.  Yes, it’s about to get hot, real hot, and if you are a Pulp Kitchen reader you know I hate the heat.  But what I am looking forward to is a new era.  With the commencement of a another season, even if it’s my least favorite, I always like to start over and find ways to better myself.  It’s all very romantic and fits in with my dreamer tendencies, because really, the idea of constantly starting over and reinventing yourself is kind of beautiful.

About a week ago I stumbled upon this interesting TED video.  Every single month Matt Cutts tries something new.  From biking to work, to writing a novel, to doing something every day for his wife – he dedicates the entire month a different cause.  In keeping with my whole reinvention theme, I’m jumping on the 30 day band wagon.  So my June challenge will be prayer.  For 30 days I will spend some time of each day praying.  This isn’t a specific religion thing.  It’s more about reflection, realizing that some things are not in your control, and becoming a positive person.  I believe prayer can be very powerful, and I certainly don’t do it often enough.

Now for the food:  Hot Sauce Chicken with Blue Cheese!  I’m not a huge fan of wings.  Most of the time they are soft and the skin to meat ratio is unbalanced, as in there is a lot of mushy skin and little meat.  But how I love hot sauce and blue cheese together!  Seriously, I am always craving this pairing made in heaven, so I tried to make a healthy version for myself.  Hence this dish.  It’s everything I need, completely satisfying, and good for you.  What more do you need?

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Errr…

Friends and Fans – I know, I know, I know – my 5 days of oatmeal turned into 4 days of oatmeal.  Having to leave at 7:30 am, an ungodly hour for me, for my week long training in NOLA barely even left time to make my flight let alone make breakfast.  When I get back next week I’ll post my last oatmeal creation, because you don’t wanna miss it!

Caramelized Apple Oatmeal

photoThis is like eating apple pie for breakfast.  For real.  You’re welcome.

Good bye mediocre apple oatmeal with your chunks of flavorless and limp apples, hello warm, tart, sweet goodness!  My hunt for the apple oatmeal of my dreams has come to its end, and not only do I have a satisfying and healthy breakfast, but I can also pretend I’m eating pie.  Any instance that I can pretend I’m eating pie is good.

The trick here is to forgo adding the apples to the pot with the oatmeal.  This drains them of all flavor and doesn’t even have the courtesy of infusing the oatmeal with it’s apple essence.  It just turns blah.  So the perfect solution is to caramelize the apples in a skillet until they start to soften, but still have bite, letting the brown sugar make things heavenly.  And it’s just a bit of sugar, mind you.  No need to call your thoracic heart surgeon.  It’s a little indulgence, and we all need those.

Heat 1 1/2 – 2 cups of prepared oatmeal in a pot over low heat.  Add 1/2 cup of liquid, I used half milk, half water, and stir gently to incorporate.  Cover and heat through.  Meanwhile, peel, core, and slice 1 Jonagold, or any other kind of baking apple, into 1/4 inch bite sized pieces.  Heat 1/2 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium/medium low heat and add the apple slices and 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar.  Sauté for 5-6 minutes until they start to soften.  Then add 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, zest of 1/2 lemon, and another 1/2 tablespoon of brown sugar.  Sauté for another two minutes.  Plate the oatmeal and top with the caramelized apples.

Serves 2

 

Blueberry Maple Swirl Oatmeal

photoWelcome to day 3 of the oatmeal-a-thon!  Today I bring you some blueberry goodness.  This is a slightly sweeter oatmeal, as it has maple syrup in it (or you can sub brown sugar if you prefer), but the stars are the tart blueberries marbling the oatmeal with their purple hue.  As I said yesterday, start with 3/4 to a cup of prepared oatmeal, and add 1/4 cup of liquid to the pot.  Again, I did half milk, half water.  Add 1/3 cup blueberries, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2-1 tablespoon of a quality maple syrup.  Stir gently to incorporate, cover, and heat over low until the blueberries start to burst.

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Extra topping ideas include coconut flakes, pecans or walnuts, and a sprinkle of brown sugar.

Serves 1

 

Peanut Butter Banana Oatmeal

photoHappy Easter and Happy Game of Thrones Season 3 Premiere Night!  While you’re being inundated with a kaleidoscope of colored eggs, chocolate bunnies, and talk of resurrection, let me give you something a little different – another healthy oatmeal recipe.  This one is my favorite.  I mean, peanut butter and banana go together like bread and butter.  Like milk and cookies.  Like Daenerys and Drogo!  Perfect pairings.

In my last post I gave you my favorite plain, steel cut oatmeal recipe to be used mainly as a base.  So start with about 3/4 to a cup of that prepared oatmeal in a small pot and add 1/4 cup of liquid.  Here I do half milk, half water.  The oatmeal firms up quite a bit in the fridge, so you need to add liquid when you reheat to get to oatmeal consistency.  Once reheated, take off the heat and add a big heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Change these measurements to your liking.  Stir them in and top with a ton of fresh banana slices.  Add some pecans if you want some crunch!

Serves 1