May 1, 2014

Aduki Miso Soup with Wakame + Shiitakes

 


Can one blame a prolonged blog hibernation on a puppy? Probably not, but I will try anyway. A tiny furball of craziness came into our lives 9 months ago, and it's been a whirlwind ever since. House-training a puppy on the sidewalks of nyc, without the benefit of a backyard, has been interesting, to say the least. Quite an experience. Some people love the puppy stage, but I'm relieved that our little guy just turned one and is (just about) a real dog. He's not quite full grown yet, so the vet says he gets to keep his balls for another 3 months (Jammer says yay!).


Well -- excuses aside, let's talk about the soup pictured up top. This steaming bowl of yumminess is your immune system's best friend. With all the bugs going around during the winter and early spring, I made this on the regular. Along with daily herbal infusions and doses of a most potent echinacea tincture, I managed to stay healthy despite getting coughed, sneezed, and sputtered upon at work, on the subway, and in line at Fairway. I love this soup for breakfast, lunch, or dinner -- you could also simmer up a big pot and eat it for all three meals for a day or two: a superfood miso soup "cleanse," if you will.

Back in December I ordered a pound of whole, dried shiitake mushrooms from an herb supplier. Sounded reasonable enough at the time, but apparently my powers of estimation were off that day. Because a pound of dried mushrooms is A LOT of mushrooms. Turned out to be fortuitous, though, as that 'shroom overload has inspired many pots of delicious soups, stews and broths over the last few months. Throwing a handful of these umami-bombs into any veggie-based broth changes everything.

In a nutshell, this soup's got it all: probiotic-packed miso, immunity-boosting shiitakes, burdock, and astragalus root, iodine- and calcium-rich wakame, and of course garlic and ginger. Health in a bowl. With at least a few more chilly days headed our way this spring, it's a good recipe to have on hand. Play with it and make it yours.

Aduki Miso Soup with Wakame + Shiitakes

Aduki miso has become my favorite miso paste - so richly flavored and complex, it really is a "meaty" alternative to a meat-based broth. Chickpea miso also works well here.

Yield: approx. 2 quarts
Total time: 1 hour

Small handful dried burdock root (about 2 tablespoons)
5-6 slices dried astragalus root
6 cups water
8 dried shiitake mushrooms (or 1/2 cup dried, sliced shiitakes)
Small piece of dried kombu (about 1-inch square)
1/4 cup brown rice
Shoyu or tamari, to taste
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 shallot or small onion, thinly sliced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons dried wakame
1/4 cup aduki miso paste (or miso of your choice)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sesame seeds or gomasio, to finish

cheesecloth + kitchen twine, or a bouquet garni bag

Combine burdock root and asparagus in cheesecloth or bouquet garni bag. Transfer to a large pot and add shiitakes, kombu, brown rice. Cover with water and add a splash of shoyu or tamari. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove shiitakes from pot, slice caps thinly and return to pot. Discard tough stems or save for making stock.

Add sweet potato, garlic, shallot and ginger to the pot. Simmer, covered, until sweet potato and brown rice are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Place wakame in a bowl and cover with 1 cup of water. Soak until rehydrated, 5 to 10 minutes. Drain (house plants love the soaking liquid). Add wakame to soup and simmer 5 minutes more.

Take pot off the heat. Remove bouquet garni and squeeze to get all the good stuff from the burdock and astragalus. Discard.

Ladle 1 cup of broth into a separate bowl; whisk in miso paste until dissolved. Add miso broth back to the soup pot. Season with lemon juice to taste. Ladle into bowls and garnish with sesame seeds or gomasio.

To reheat leftover soup, heat gently over a low flame until the soup just reaches a simmer (avoid boiling miso).

June 20, 2013

Blueberry, Kale & Fennel Salad with Lemon-Ginger Dressing


Summer officially starts tomorrow, but my annual raw kick has been up and running for a while now. For the next couple of months my meals will revolve around the water-packed, cooling foods growing in abundance this season.

Leafy greens, crunchy vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, and fennel, and juicy summer fruits...they're soothing to the body and soul this time of year, plus they are also rich sources of the nutrients we need to stay energized in this season of movement and expansion. These summertime treats also provide ample amounts of water to rehydrate our bodies after a day spent outdoors in the heat -- or indoors under air conditioning, which also can have a drying effect on the body.

My go-to salad this year features heaps of raw, leafy greens paired with seasonal fruits for satisfying sweetness and nuts for texture and protein. A new favorite rendition incorporates nutrient-packed kale, antioxidant-rich blueberries, cooling fennel, and crispy toasted almonds, all tied together with a light and bright lemon-ginger-honey vinaigrette that complements the salad’s main stars rather than covering them up.
 
Kale is a good source of bone-strengthening calcium and vitamin K, immune-boosting vitamin C, blood-building iron, and a variety of phytonutrients that may reduce the risk of certain cancers. This dark leafy green is also rich in flavonoids, compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and is one of the best plant sources of lutein and zeaxanthin, nutrients that help protect against macular degeneration, a leading cause of vision loss.

A couple of tips for salads based on raw kale. First, it's important to start with good greens. At the market, select kale with smaller-sized leaves, which will be milder, sweeter, and more tender than older, larger leaves. Massaging kale with dressing is a great no-cook method that tenderizes the leaves and brings out their sweetness, while also aiding digestibility and preserving heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C.

An added benefit of adding a raw kale salad to your meal is that, unlike delicate salad greens, already-dressed kale keeps beautifully overnight in the fridge. I like to eat the leftovers alongside scrambled eggs for breakfast (add some ripe avocado and I'm in heaven!) or stirred into a bowl of steamed rice or quinoa for a quick and light lunch or dinner.

One thing I especially love about this salad is that it's so versatile throughout the year. Mix it up through the seasons by including seasonal fresh or dried fruits in place of the blueberries: stone fruits such as peaches or plums, melon, apples or pears, dried currants, cherries, or apricots. Top with crumbled feta or goat cheese (or another protein of your choice) for a heartier salad that can be served as a main course.
 

Kale Salad with Blueberries, Almonds & Lemon-Ginger Vinaigrette 
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

1 bunch kale (curly kale or Lacinato/Tuscan kale are my favorites)
juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon honey (preferably raw; use maple syrup if you prefer)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ fennel bulb, stalks and tough outer layer removed
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup almonds, toasted and roughly chopped (I used Marcona almonds)
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Wash kale thoroughly. Remove stems and chop leaves into bite-sized pieces.

2. Whisk together lemon juice, honey, ginger, and olive oil in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

3. Add kale to bowl with vinaigrette. Massage kale with clean hands until the leaves begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside for 15 minutes.

4. Grate fennel using the rough side of a cheese grater. Add to bowl with kale and toss gently to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

5. Garnish with blueberries and almonds before serving.

April 29, 2013

Shiitake Mushroom and Green Pea Ragout with Chickpea Miso


 
 

Despite the calendar's proclamation of spring, my winter coat has remained in frequent rotation for most of this chilly Northeast April, and I've been craving hearty comfort foods on the regular: Mr Yogi's Hatch green chili stew has saved us several times, along with brothy soups, pots of spicy lentil dal, and lots of roasted roots.

I always find the between-season flux particularly challenging, especially from the immunity perspective. So along with my must-have morning lemon-ginger elixir and a few targeted supplements (I've noticed big improvements the last few months with zinc, D3, and B complex), I've been relying on immune-boosting mushrooms and miso to get me through in one piece. Rich in nutrients, these foods also help cleanse the body’s systems and support healthy digestion and immune function.

During a recent recipe testing session I came up with one of my favorite mushroom dishes to date: a creamy shiitake + crimini ragout that's savory and satisfying, punctuated with the verdant sweetness of green peas and herbal fragrance of fresh thyme. Finishing the ragout with a touch of butter lends an extra luxurious quality to the rich, miso-based sauce, but the dish can also be made completely dairy-free by leaving it out.

Serve the ragout alone as a side dish or as a main course with polenta, pasta, or a whole grain such as brown rice or quinoa. I think it would also make a satisfying gravy over a plant-based protein such as seared tempeh or grilled tofu.


Shiitake Mushroom and Green Pea Ragout with Chickpea Miso
Adapted from Saveur Magazine’s Wild Mushroom Ragout
Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms
1/2 pound fresh crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
3/4 cup water or vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chickpea miso paste
1/2 cup shelled green peas (thawed, if frozen)
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper


1.       Trim mushrooms and remove stems, reserving for another use (to make stock, etc). Slice caps into ½-inch strips.

2.       Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3.       Whisk together water (or stock) and miso paste in a bowl until miso is completely dissolved.

4.       Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until they release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Add miso mixture, peas, and thyme to skillet. Simmer for 5 minutes, allowing the liquid to thicken. Stir in butter and parsley.

5.       Season with black pepper, to taste.