Tag Archives: dal
About a year ago, my now-boyfriend Curtis and I started spending an awful lot of time together – and an awful lot of time ordering take-out from our favorite Chinese place in nearby Princeton. We tended to gravitate toward the same dishes – I got eggplant in garlic sauce, while Curt was fond of the General Tso’s Tofu. We would bring our big paper bag back to Curt’s apartment, where we would watch episodes of Scrubs and eat our food on separate couches.
Since then, a few things have changed (we sit on the same couch now!), but one thing has stayed constant – Curtis almost always goes for General Tso’s.
I had always sort of been turned off (read: afraid) of General Tso’s because of the spice – even with a generous helping of sweetness, that sauce packs a serious chili punch. But they say that your taste buds evolve as you get older, and these days I find myself boldly incorporating ingredients like jalapeños and cayenne peppers into my meals. I’d say that my taste for sweet is changing too, but Curt would probably point to the three Splendas in my morning coffee and politely disagree.
Soup embodies everything I love about cooking. A couple of forgotten potatoes, that celery that’s been growing a little limp in the fridge, a few herbs and spices – somehow they all come together to create a warm, delicious and comforting dish without a lot of planning or effort. Everything about its creation appeals to my lazy side – which, admittedly, is a pretty big side.
Plus, soup and I go way back. The very first dish I ever learned to cook, it was an ever-present, yet unassuming, part of my culinary life – every holiday dinner, every snow day, every sick day somehow included a bowl of the steamy stuff. I think everyone has at least one childhood memory that involves Grandma’s soup. It’s a dish that’s practically synonymous with warmth and comfort, so it’s no wonder that when the temperature starts to dip, everything from food blogs to Food Network blows up with soup recipes.
As much as I do love soup, it’s not generally considered a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meal. That’s where this Bean and Sweet Potato Soup comes in. It’s filling and satisfying – a soup’s soup, if you will – and is sure to fight the February blues with bold Southwest flavors.
By pureeing some of the dish and leaving the rest chunky, the textures are almost as interesting as the flavor combinations. Sweet chili powder and smoky cumin add a little depth to the top-notch trio of sweet potato, black beans and lime. This soup would be fantastic served alongside a few hot corn tortillas and topped with a generous dash of hot sauce.
I used two different beans in this soup, black and small red, but that’s just what I had on hand. Feel free to use whatever you have in the pantry, or whatever you need to use up – some chopped dark greens would be a delicious addition.
Bean & Sweet Potato Soup
1 medium red onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 medium sweet potato, diced
2 celery ribs
1 roasted red pepper
1 15oz. can black beans, drained
1 15oz. can small red beans, drained
Juice of 1 lime
4 cups vegetable broth
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1. In a non-stick pan, cook onion, garlic and celery until soft.
2. Add sweet potato, beans, vegetable broth, spices and lime juice. Stir.
3. Simmer 30-40 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft. Remove a third of the soup and set aside. Puree remaining soup and combine.
4. Garnish with hot sauce and a slice of lime.
Nutrition per Serving: 241 calories, 1g of fat, 56g carbohydrates, 15g protein.
For three of four of my college years, I served as an Resident Assistant – essentially, babysitting drunk 20-year-olds in exchange for free room and board. The job was certainly trying, and I came away with a lot of funny (well, only because I’m looking back on it) stories regarding college life.
The hands-down best part of being an RA though, was being on campus the night before a holiday break. When students had gone home for Thanksgiving and the rest of the dorms were empty, we RAs would throw a little on-campus get-together of our own. For my senior year, we decided on a BYON rule: Bring You Own Nuggets. A new vegan at the time, I brought the only meatless dish to our Thanksgiving nugget table.
We had some Sweet Baby Ray’s original barbecue sauce in the fridge, but a quick glance at the back label showed high fructose corn syrup to be the very first ingredient listed. Since homemade barbecue sauce is stupid easy to make, I figured it couldn’t hurt to throw something together while the tofu was baking.
The tofu nuggets are delicious and simple, but the real star here is the blackberry barbecue sauce. Blackberry preserves add unexpected sweetness to the classic tang of ketchup and vinegar, and a good sprinkling of cayenne pepper sneaks up at the end to remind you that this ain’t your mama’s barbecue sauce.
I ate this batch for lunch with a generous slathering of the barbecue sauce and was full until dinner. Bring these to your next BYON party (or any party, really) and watch how quickly they get gobbled up!
12 oz. extra-firm tofu, pressed
1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
Spices, to taste: garlic powder, paprika, Italian seasoning
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice tofu into desired size and shapes (use cookie cutters to add an extra sum’ sum’). Freeze and thaw the tofu before pressing for maximum chewy nugget results.
2. Spray nuggets with nonstick spray and toss with the breadcrumbs and spices*. Make sure all nuggets are evenly coated before arranging them on a greased baking sheet.
3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through until nuggets are brown and crispy.
Nutrition per Serving: 306 calories, 16g fat, 5g carbohydrates, 29g protein.
*After measuring the leftovers, I had only used a tiny bit of the breading. Save the rest of the breading for your next nugget adventure.
Blackberry Barbecue Sauce
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon sugar-free blackberry preserves (raspberry would be good too!)
1 tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powderBrown sugar to taste, optional
Cayenne pepper to taste, optional
1. Combine ingredients well.
Nutrition per Serving: 35 calories, 10g carbohydrates