Cooking: Vibrant & Pure

This was another book that I picked up at Therapy. It intrigued me because I feel like it’s a great balance between being overly healthy and indulging. The ingredients are so fresh. Don’t get me wrong though, this is an ingredient heavy book! You will be consumed with a lot of chopping and preparing and there’s some weird ingredients I had never heard of.

Somehow, the pictures from this week disappeared. Perhaps this is what I get for being so incredibly far behind… Please enjoy my IG Stories photos.

Greek Salad w/ Lamb Meatballs

I want to start out by saying that I loved this salad. Now that I’ve gotten that out there, I have a bone to pick with American Greek Salads. In September 2019, Jacob and I went to Greece for vacation. I remember the first time we ordered a Greek Salad. It came with a piece of feta that was the size of my head. I want feta the size of my head. Is that so much to ask? Anywho. I used Greek yogurt for the Tzatziki instead of “unsweetened nondairy yogurt” because it’s a Greek salad. The recipe neglects to tell you what to do with the garlic for the meatball – I ended up mincing them. As with most recipes in this book, there really are SO many ingredients in this recipe. It was very time consuming to chop everything up so this isn’t a quick salad you can just whip up. That being said, this salad was so delicious and fresh. I followed the exact cooking directions for the meatballs and they were cooked perfectly. I’m a dressing fan though and I didn’t think this recipe made enough dressing. I would increase it a little.

RECIPE (including changes I made)
Tzatziki:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup minced cucumber
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Meatballs:
1lb ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt

Salad:
1 romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 iceburg lettuce, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced pepperoncini
1/4 cup putted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
1/2 cup crumbled feta

Greek Dressing:
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 shallot, minced
2 tablespoons mayo
1 teaspoon dijon
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salt & Pepper to taste

  1. Tzatziki: Combine everything in a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge while you do the rest (~30 minutes)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Meatballs: Combine everything in a bowl (use your clean hands – definitely take off rings). Form the meatballs into 1″ balls and spread them out on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked.
  4. Salad: Combine everything in a big bowl
  5. Dressing: Combine everything in small bowl (I used a glass measuring thingy to make pouring easy) (can store up to a week in the fridge)
  6. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine
  7. Place salads in separate bowls and top with meatballs and a drizzle of tzatziki

Banh Mi Hummus & Lemongrass Chicken

I’m a big fan of using what you have on hand. This recipe called for Chicken Breast but I had some Chicken Thighs in the freezer so that’s what we used! And instead of using red lentils, I used the French lentils I already had. Granted, I think that breasts would have been better in this instance, but it worked. Speaking of using what you have… Do you ever say, “Oh I have that” and not realize that you don’t have much of that ingredient and therefore run out? That happened with my fish sauce. I’m a huge fan of fish sauce so this wasn’t a surprise to me. The surprise came when I realized that I didn’t have any extra in my pantry. I ended up using half fish sauce and half soy sauce for the chicken marinade. Luckily, my husband is wonderful and ran to the store later on in the day to pick me up more fish sauce to use for the hummus. The hummus was incredibly thin so I added some cornstarch to try and make it a bit thinker. The marinate was amazing. I would use that any time I make chicken or even fish! I’m not a fan of pickles so I’m always wary of pickled things. The pickled veggies here were perfect. They weren’t too pickle tasting and they added a much needed crunch to the dish.

RECIPE
For the Chicken:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 lemongrass stalk, minced
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
4 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
3 tablespoons of avocado oil
Juice of 1/2 lme
4 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless

For the hummus:
1 cup red lentils
4 garlic cloves
1 small shallot
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons avocado oil
2 teaspoons coconut sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons rice vinegar

For the veggies:
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup thinly sliced radish
1 cup julienned cucumber
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped mint leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

  1. Chicken: In a food processor, puree all ingredients (except the chicken) until a sauce is formed. Place the chicken in a bowl and pour the sauce over it. Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate in fridge for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.
  2. Hummus: Put the lentils and 4 cups of water in a saucepan. Bring them to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, half covered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until soft/mushy. Drain any excess liquid and let cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Veggies: Put all ingredients in a bowl and let it sit for at least 30 minutes at room temperature.
  4. Hummus pt 2: Put the garlic and shallot in a food processor and pulse until they’re finely minced. Add the cooked lentils, fish sauce, lime juice, avocado oil, coconut sugar, red pepper flakes, and rice vinegar. Taste and adjust as needed.
  5. In a large skillet, heat up some avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook undisturbed for 5 to 7 minutes. Flip it and cook for another 10 or until fully cooked. Let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
  6. Assemblage: Spoon 1 cup of hummus into a bowl and top with chicken and veggies. Garnish with mint and cilantro.

Chipotle Lentil Taco Salad

Find the recipe here.

This called for lentils again – and I still had French ones so that’s what was used. I somehow forgot to pick up cilantro so here we are, cilantro-less. Great for those of you with that genetic thing where cilantro tastes like soap (must be terrible). For the dressing, I did add a tad more avocado oil to make it thinner. I really was skeptical about just mashing up avocado and mixing it is. I thought it would make the salad too mushy? it actually worked out well, don’t skip this step and put it on the side. The recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of corn and I would double that. I felt like I was hunting around for corn the whole time. I also think that fresh corn would really be better but frozen is much easier. Moving forward, I think I would skip doing lentils and do black beans instead. The lentils were fine but black beans are better, imo. Adding some meat would also be great and filling. THIS is a taco salad. Although my Grandma Sue used to make a taco salad with fritos, ground beef (with taco seasoning), and taco fixings. It was fantastic and I think it’s time to re-visit this recipe.

Shrimp & Hearts of Palm Chopped Salad

Salad and Falafel Burger!

Guess what else I forgot I didn’t have guys. Mayo. A lot of the recipes this week called for mayo (surprisingly) so I quickly ran out. This salad is great and garlicky. It is a lot of chopping (nothing like the Greek salad though) but worth it. I do love arugula but I could do without it here (especially with the romaine and ice burg lettuce). Instead of chopping the avocado and putting it in the salad all mushed up, I just sliced it and added it on the side. I’ve already made this again! The recipe makes enough for my husband and I to eat twice.

RECIPE
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1lb shrimp
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons avocado oil
2 large shallots, thinly slices
1/2 iceburg lettuce, finely chopped
1 romaine lettuce, finely chopped
2 cups finely chopped arugula
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 cucumber, diced
4 small radishes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 15 oz can hearts of palm, diced

Dressing:
3 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tablespoons dijon
2 tablespoons mayo
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
Salt & Pepper, to taste

  1. Add butter and garlic to a skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the shrimp and lemon juice, and salt. Cook for about 6 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked. Let cool completely.
  2. Wipe out the skillet and heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until crispy. Drain on a towel.
  3. In a large bowl, combine greens, parsley, cucumber, radish, and hearts of palm. Finely chop shrimp and add to the salad along with fried shallots.
  4. Dressing: Combine everything in small bowl (I used a glass measuring thingy to make pouring easy) (can store up to a week in the fridge)
  5. Drizzle the salad with the dressing and toss. Serve immediately.

Falafel Burgers

I have a love hate relationship with falafels. Most places seem to not understand that a falafel shouldn’t be like sawdust. You can put moisture in the falafel without having it losing shape. This recipe was good. Not too dry, not too moist (sorry). I used whole wheat buns (what we had on hand) and toasted them with butter on the stove top. I also added extra sauce (bottom and top!) cause it was delicious. Pro tip: make your own Oat Flour! You just need to throw oatmeal into a food processor and you’re good. I keep them on hand because a few home made dog treats call for it as well as a banana pancake I like to make. This seems like a great time to tell you about the BEST falafel I’ve ever had. It was in Berlin at a restaurant called Monkey Bar. This location is high up above the Berlin Zoo where you can see the monkeys perfectly (hence the name). I was killing time until my friend got off work and she told me this place had the best falafel. If she hadn’t told me, I would never have ordered it. I wasn’t skeptical because I very much trusted my friend with food. She knows what she’s talking about. It was so good. I dream about that falafel (it’s slightly embarrassing how many times I think about food I’ve eaten) on a regular basis.

RECIPE
Burgers:
2 shallots
4 garlic cloves
1/3 cup parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 15oz can of chickpeas, rinsed & drained
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup oat flour

Garlic Mayo:
1/2 cup mayo
4 garlic cloves, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt, to taste

Buns

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Burgers: In a food processor, combine the shallots and garlic and pulse until finely minced. Add the parsley, salt, and za’atar and pulse until the parsley is finely chopped. Add the chickpeas, sesame seeds, egg, cumin, and cayenne pepper and process until the chickpeas are smooth and pureed and all the ingredients are combined. Add the oat flour and process until a dough forms.
  3. Divide the dough into four patties and place them on the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, flip, bake for another 15 minutes or until golden
  4. Garlic Mayo: Combine everything in a small bowl
  5. Remove the burgers from the oven and let cool slightly. Place on a bun (with any fixings you want, but I didn’t add anything). Top the patty with the garlic mayo.

Smashed Cucumber

The theme of this week is clearly “Lauren doesn’t know how much of any ingredient she actually has”. I ran low on avocados and could only use 1 when the recipe calls for 2-3. I’d love to actually find Watermelon Radishes but I never have. So I used regular old radishes. Keeping on theme with the week, I ran out of rice vinegar so I had to use apple cider vinegar. The recipe called for either shallot or red onion – I used a red onion but I’d recommend slicing the onion in quarters, then slicing them thin so they’re smaller. The sesame oil adds such a perfect touch here – definitely don’t skip it.

RECIPE
1 large cucumber, cubed & smashed
2-3 avocados, diced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 radishes, diced
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes

  1. Combine everything in a medium bowl and toss

Which one do you want to try?

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