Spanish Tapas-style Blistered Shishito Peppers

shishito peppers - trustinkim.com

A number of years ago I was on a trip to Spain, and I was treated to an amazing tapas feast. We ate so many delicious foods that night, but my favourite by far was the Padrón peppers – blackened, slathered with olive oil, and topped with crunchy salt. They were mildly hot; some were a little warmer than others, but the heat wasn’t uncomfortable.

I didn’t think I would enjoy these at all, since I’m not fond of green bell peppers, but these are completely different from bell peppers. Yay for trying new things!

When I got home from the trip to Spain I thought I would make these peppers all the time when I had guests, however, limited access to Padrón peppers in Vancouver crushed my dream. I was able to find them once at a Farmer’s Market. I paid a small fortune for them, and they were so hot that no one would eat them! I did eat them because I can be a bit stubborn, but they were not nearly as good as the ones in Spain.

Enter: the Shishito pepper. I found them in Vancouver at a Persian store, and at my local Korean store they are labelled as Twist peppers. They are incredibly similar to Padrón peppers – yay!

What you need:

  • Shishito or Padrón peppers
  • olive oil
  • flaky sea salt

What you do:

  1. Wash and dry the peppers.
  2. Bring a large frying pan (I like cast-iron for this) to high heat. Add a glug of olive oil, then add the peppers. Allow to fry for about one minute before turning; they should be blistered and darkened on the first side.
  3. Fry on the other side for another minute or so.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil, then use your fingers to sprinkle on some sea salt.
  5. Enjoy them while they’re hot! You can always soak up the excess olive oil with some bread.

No-Bake Chocolate Date Nut Brownies

 

date nut brownie - trustinkim

This nutty brownie is a no-bake, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, raw recipe that also happens to be super tasty. It makes a great energy bar that you can pack for a big bike ride or hike. It contains nuts to give you some protein, and there’s natural sugar in the dates to make it taste good. 

You don’t need an oven, but you will need a food processor for this recipe. It keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for a few months.

Just know that it is not your typical brownie that is cakey or gooey. You can find some of those recipes here here, and here.

I halved the recipe when I made it, but here is the full recipe version that comes from theminimalistbaker.com.

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 & 2 1/2 cups Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao 
  • 1-2 tsp espresso powder or finely ground coffee
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Line a cake pan with parchment paper (or loaf pan for 1/2 a recipe)
  2. Place 1 cup of the walnuts along with the almonds in the food processor and process until it is finely ground.
  3. Put the cocoa, espresso powder and sea salt in the processor, then pulse to combine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Process the dates until soft, then remove to a bowl.
  5. Put the nut and cocoa mixture back in the processor, then slowly add the dates through the spout in the top of the processor. Process until it becomes doughy; I had to add a little bit of water. The mixture should come together when you squeeze it.
  6. Place the mixture into the lined cake pan, then add the chopped walnuts. Combine the walnuts with the brownie mixture, then press it down until it is flat.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour before cutting.
  8. Enjoy!

Cashew Cilantro Sauce

cashew dressing - trustinkim.com

This pretty green sauce makes an excellent topping for Mexican food. Cilantro and parsley with a hint of lime, combined with the creaminess of cashews makes it irresistible. So far I have used it in a Burrito Bowl (pictured), and it was also delicious on pinto bean and avocado enchiladas. When I was eating my leftovers at work a lot of people were curious about it – but it’s not just a pretty face! So delicious!

I found this recipe in The Plant-Based Foodie: Vancouver by Brad Hill. It is part of a recipe for a burrito bowl, but this dressing was definitely the standout of the dish. The only changes from the original recipe are: I halved the recipe, and I used unrefined sunflower oil rather than grape seed oil. I probably used less parsley and more cilantro than the recipe called for because I’m not the biggest fan of parsley, and also I don’t tend to measure with recipes like this.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons grape seed oil or unrefined sunflower oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

What you do:

  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least an hour, then drain them.
  2. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth. Add a little water if you want it to be a little runnier.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Eggplant with Roasted Chickpeas and Tahini Sauce

roasted eggplant and chickpeas with tahini sauce - trustinkim

I have seen a number of recipes for roasted chickpeas lately, but I wasn’t very interested in making them because of a bad experience with some chalky store-bought roasted chickpeas. For some reason I decided to give them a try, and was really happy with the result. They come out just the right texture, not too dry, not too soft. I love the bit of saltiness topping off the creamy eggplant and tahini sauce. Add the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and you’ve got a pretty perfect vegan meal.

This dinner is quite simple to make. Most of the work is done by the oven, roasting the eggplant and the chickpeas, and while it is roasting you just have to whip up a quick sauce.

I made this a few months ago, and I didn’t actually measure the sauce ingredients, so this is my best estimate of the amounts I used. I cobbled this recipe together from ideas I’ve seen in various cookbooks, most notably the Ottolenghi (drool) cookbooks.

What you need:

  • 1 – 540 mL can chickpeas
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 – 4 long and skinny, or 8 small eggplants
For the sauce:
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup water or more as needed
  • parsley to garnish

Optional:

  • pomegranate seeds, of they are in season. Chopped dried sour cherries might be nice too.

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
  2. Rinse the chickpeas and pat them dry with a clean towel. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then toss with salt, pepper and cumin. Spread out into a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Wash the eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side up on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil.
  4. Roast the chickpeas and eggplants for 30-40 minutes, tossing the chickpeas halfway through the time. The eggplant should be very tender when you poke it with a fork. The chickpeas should be slightly crunchy, but not hard. It’s a good idea to test the chickpeas a few times in the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  5. While the oven is doing its thing you can make the sauce. Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Slowly add the water to make a pourable yet still thick sauce. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed.
  6. Plate the eggplant, drizzling the sauce over them, and then top with the chickpeas. Garnish with chopped parsley and optional pomegranate.

Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

herbed cheese stuffed mini peppers - trustinkim

These beauties made a tasty little appetizer. Super easy too.

The type of cheese and herbs you use is up to you and your taste preferences, or what you’ve got on hand. I used a combination of Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese” along with some goat cheese, and mixed in some basil and parsley.

These can be made vegan by using cream cheese and parmesan non-dairy substitutes.

What you need:

  • mini bell peppers
  • cheese of your choice: goat cheese, cream cheese, Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese,” or a combination of cheeses
  • chopped fresh herbs (your choice: basil, oregano, or dill, or…) Green onions are another option
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Save one pepper to chop up for a garnish. Roast the peppers in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the herbs, soft cheese, salt and pepper, then spread it into the cavity of the peppers. Top them with a bit of parmesan cheese, then pop them in the oven just long enough to heat them up, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped pepper and a few herbs. Enjoy!

Antipasto Salad with Bocconcini, Salami, and Olive Tapenade

antipasto salad with bocconcini and olive tapenade - trustinkim

Here’s a salad for the meat lovers out there, and it makes a good meal salad on a warm day, or a starter if you make a smaller portion. If you have vegetarians or non-pork eaters at your table, the salad is also delicious without the salami. You could always add a boiled egg as an alternative.

It’s an easy recipe, and just requires a bit of chopping. The dressing can be made a day ahead to speed things up.

I visited an Italian specialty store to find the ingredients, but you should be able to find similar items at your local grocery store.

I found this Nancy Silverton recipe on the Food & Wine site, and served it with a lovely homemade no-knead focaccia and a crisp white wine. I halved the recipe, and my version feeds four people. The only change I made to the recipe was to add the salami to the top instead of mixing it in with the dressing. That way it can be left off for people who don’t want any, or want less meat; I think it looks nicer with the salami on top for presenting family-style on the table.

What you need:

  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons green-olive tapenade
  •  2 tablespoons peperoncini—stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cups bocconcini
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt to taste
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 small head of iceberg lettuce, halved, cored and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 85 grams (3 oz) thinly sliced Genoa salami, cut into thin strips (about 3/4 cup)
  • 6 small basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup of your favourite green olives

What you do:

  1. Combine the tapenade, peperocini and half of the olive oil in a bowl, then toss the bocconcini in it. This can be refrigerated and used later or the next day.
  2. In another bowl combine the lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and oregano. Whisk in the remaining half of the olive oil, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the shredded lettuce in a large bowl, then add the marinated bocconcini and half of the salad dressing. Toss well, then plate the salad on a large platter.
  4. Add the salami strips to the top of the salad and top it with the basil and olives. Drizzle on a little bit more dressing, and serve immediately.
  5. Enjoy!

Grilled Chicken over Soba Noodles with Gai Lan

Grilled chicken over soba noodles with gai lan

Here’s a take on a delicious salmon soba noodle meal I posted recently. Although I don’t get a lot of comments on my blog (? please comment if you like or don’t like something – I need to know you’re out there!!!), a lot of people told me in person that they have made this dish and loved it. Me too! And because I loved it so much I worked on altering it a little to make a new meal.

It’s easy, tasty, and can be used for a leftover meal the next day. The additional gai lan is something I really like, as I feel it’s important to eat a lot of veggies, and grilling them is delicious.

This recipe is designed for two people, so double or triple for more people.

What you need:

  • 100 grams chicken thigh, boneless, skinless
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • tablespoons ginger (grated finely)
  • tablespoons sugar
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 100 grams soba noodles
  • 2 small Persian cucumbers 
  • scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts
  • tablespoons sesame seeds, most crushed, some whole for garnish (I used black sesame seeds)
  • lime, optional
  • a bunch of gai lan

What you do:

  1. Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, ginger, sugar, and crushed pepper flakes. Chop the chicken, then place it in a shallow dish and pour about 1/4 cup of the marinade (the rest will be the dressing) over it. Cover and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
  2. Toss the gai lan in some olive oil.
  3. Preheat the grill to high. Boil a large pot of water to cook the soba noodles. Follow the instructions on the package (mine took about 7 minutes). Drain the noodles, then place them in a bowl of cold water until they have cooled off.
  4. Toss the gai lan in some olive oil.
  5. Remove the chicken from the marinade and grill it for about 5-7 minutes, until it has cooked through.
  6. Grill the gai lan for a few minutes, turning when the leaves on one side begin to brown. Drizzle the gai lan with a bit of dressing, or just sprinkle with a little salt when it’s done.
  7. Slice the cucumbers as thinly as you can – I used a vegetable peeler to do this, but a mandoline works well too.
  8. Once the noodles have cooled, drain them and place them in a large bowl.
  9. Place the soba noodles, cucumber, scallions, sesame seeds and some of the dressing in the bowl. Give it all a good toss, adding more dressing if you need it, and some freshly squeezed lime if you wish. Chop and place the chicken on top of the salad and garnish with some sesame seeds if you wish. Serve with the grilled gai lan.