Saffron and Ginger Kabocha Soup with Black Salt and Sesame Seeds

I made this when I was visiting family in California and found some fun ingredients in the pantry.  Stuff like crystallized ginger, this World Salt Tower and black sesame seeds.  Not to mention an excellent spice selection and hyper local produce from New Leaf Community Market in Half Moon Bay.

Warm and hearty, this soup tastes like a decadent cream soup, but is actually more of a detox soup in that there is no dairy, little oil and is lightly spiced.  You’ll also get lots of carotenoids (great for the eye health) from the squash and extra minerals from the black Cyprus salt, which is Mediterranean sea salt mixed with volcanic charcoal, a natural detoxifier.

Serves 6

What you need:

1 kabocha squash (about 2.5 pounds), halved and deseeded

2 teaspoons olive oil or avocado oil

1/3 cup orange juice

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks

1 stalk celery, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 small (4-inch diameter) celeriac (a.k.a. celery root), peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes

3 cups chicken broth or light vegetable stock

pinch saffron

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

To serve:

crystallized ginger, very fine dice

black sesame seeds

black Cyprus salt

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Rub kabocha flesh with olive oil or avocado oil and place cut sides down on parchment.  Pour orange juice into pan and place in oven.  Roast for about 45 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces through the skin and flesh.  Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium sauce pot, sauté the ginger, onion, celery and garlic in the coconut oil, along with the salt, over medium heat.  Stir frequently to prevent browning.  Once the onions are translucent, add the celeriac, broth, saffron and remaining spices.  Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and add to the soup.  Raise heat to high, bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Ensure that the celeriac is fork tender and turn off the heat.  If time permits, allow to cool 10-15 minutes.  Put contents in blender, working in batches if your blender is small, and blend on high (though starting at LOW) until silky smooth.  Return to pot and rewarm over low heat, adding water if necessary.  Adjust for salt, keeping in mind that you will be topping with black salt just before serving.

To serve, ladle soup into warmed bowls and top with crystallized ginger (they will sink), black sesame seeds and a few flakes of black Cyprus salt.


Mustard-Orange Sprouted Tofu Stir Fry with Green Tea Noodles

I love the combination of green tea and orange, however if you can’t find green tea noodles, soba (buckwheat noodles) or udon work well too.  This dish is light, yet warming, which makes it good for all weather and seasons :).

Classically, a very high heat is used for stir fry, causing the oil to smoke, but when cooking at home, I tend to be a bit more conservative with such high heat, as vegetable oils are generally very heat sensitive, which means they oxidize easily under high heat and release carcinogenic free radicals, which you then consume.  To me, the whole benefit of cooking at home is that you have control over your meals and can reduce the amount of toxins in your life!

Sprouted tofu is easier to digest than regular tofu and is argued to neutralize the effect soy has on estrogen levels when consumed.  It tastes the same as regular tofu, so if you can find it, you might as well get it!

Mustard-Orange Sprouted Tofu Stir Fry with Green Tea Noodles - The Clean Gourmet

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 block sprouted firm tofu, cut into 1″ cubes and pressed between two towel-lined plates

1 tablespoon coconut or canola oil

2″ piece ginger, minced

1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/4″ strips

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium carrots, cut on a bias 1/4″ thick

1 tablespoon mirin (I like Mitoku brand)

1 red bell pepper, sliced 1/4″ thick

3.5 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 head bok choy (not baby), stems cut into 1/2″ pieces and leaves cut into large chunks

black pepper, to taste

7 oz green tea or soba noodles

black and white sesame seeds, toasted

For the Marinade:

1 tablespoon mirin

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

1/4 cup shoyu or other high quality soy sauce or tamari (again, I like Mitoku)

juice of 1/2 an orange (feel free to add a little zest in as well-unfortunately, mine had already been zested for something else!)

1 tablespoon unrefined (not toasted) sesame oil or canola oil

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

pinch red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Assemble marinade ingredients directly into a glass baking dish and whisk with a fork.  Add tofu chunks and toss to coat.  Place in oven.

In a medium pot, bring salted water to a boil for the noodles.

While the water comes to a boil, heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or cast-iron skillet.  Add ginger, onion, garlic and carrot.  Cook for a few minutes, tossing frequently.  Add mirin, mushrooms and bell pepper.  Cook another couple of minutes, until lightly browned and slightly wilted.

Flip tofu chunks and return to the oven.  Add bok choy stems to the vegetable pot and cook for about a minute.  Place noodles into boiling water and cook for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While noodles cook, add bok choy leaves, toss and turn off the flame.  Remove tofu from oven and pour marinade into vegetables.  Toss vegetables.

Strain the noodles once tender and serve into individual bowls.  (Coat any remaining noodles with a touch of oil to keep from them sticking to themselves.)  Top with vegetables and a few pieces of tofu (make sure you get some of that sauce, too!).  Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Mustard-Orange Sprouted Tofu Stir Fry with Green Tea Noodles - The Clean Gourmet

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Ginger-Spiced Carrot Soup with Kohlrabi Relish (Vellutata di Carote allo Zenzero con Insalata di Cavolo Rapa)

This meal was inspired by a box of almost impossibly fresh produce from Double L Market in Westport, CT.  I was especially motivated by the cartoonishly large carrot (2 inches in diameter and 10 inches long!) that I couldn’t resist buying.  I also picked up some mizuna, a mildly bitter lettuce I’d never tried before (it is delish).  If you can’t get a hold of this unusual lettuce, I think arugula would be a good substitute.  The ginger, too, was juicy and tender- the kind of fresh you can never get at the grocery store (nope, not even Whole Foods).  This box of vegetables and the soup it spawned was no doubt the highlight of my day.  I hope you like it too.

Please note that this soup is spicy, all thanks to the extremely fresh ginger.  It’s hard to believe there’s no capsaicin (hot pepper), but the spice is definitely there, with a bit of tang.  The bread was amazingly fresh and had been brought to the market from a bakery in New Haven, CT.  It was made with whole wheat and rye flours and without preservatives.

Serves 4-6 (Serve 4-6)

For the Soup:

6-7 regular carrots (or 1 enormous one), peeled and chopped*

2-inch piece FRESH ginger, peeled and minced

3 celery stalks, sliced

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon white or yellow miso paste

salt and pepper

2/3 cup almond milk (or grass-fed cow’s milk for dairy eaters, or coconut milk for AIP-ers)

Kohlrabi Relish:

1 (~1 lb) kohlrabi cabbage head, peeled and diced

1/2 apple, finely diced

4 scallions, sliced

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, minced

1 bunch mizuna (stalks included) or a handful of arugula, chopped

For the Kohlrabi Marinade:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg or other high quality type)

1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2-3 teaspoons white or yellow miso paste

salt and pepper, to taste

To Serve:

florets from 1 head of broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces

Whole grain organic bread, sliced

1 avocado, mashed

What to do:

Whisk the marinade ingredients in a small bowl.

Place the kohlrabi, apple, scallions and cilantro in a medium bowl.  Toss with marinade and set aside.

Put the carrots, ginger and celery in a medium pot with just enough water to cover.  Heat over medium-low heat and allow to come to a simmer.  Be careful not to boil.

Let simmer gently until carrots are just tender.  (This is a good time to give the relish another toss.)  Purée with an immersion blender.

Turn heat to low and add coriander, miso and almond milk.  Simmer on low for 2 minutes to allow miso to melt and flavors to marry.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Toss relish one more time, this time adding the mizuna.

Ladle soup into bowls and top with relish** and broccoli “croutons”.  Serve with bread smeared with mashed avocado.

*While carrots’ enzymes are best assimilated when cooked, carrots only need to be lightly cooked, or else the enzymes end up getting completely destroyed.  Luckily, the smaller you chop the carrots, the less you have to cook them, thereby preserving their nutrients.

**Don’t use use a slotted spoon to serve the relish, as the marinade flavors the soup :).

Vellutata di Carote allo Zenzero con Insalata di Cavolo Rapa:

Ingredienti:

Per la Vellutata:

6-7 carote, pelate e affettate*

pezzo di zenzero fresco a 5 cm, pelato e tritato

3 gambi di sedano, affettati

2 cucchiaini di seme di coriandolo macinato

1 cucchiaio di pasta di miso bianco

sale e pepe

150 ml di latte di mandorle (oppure latte parzialmente scremato, se vi va bene che non sia vegana)

Insalata di Cavolo Rapa:

1 (~500gm) cavolo rapa, pelato e tagliato a cubetti

1/2 mela, tagliata a cubetti

4 cipolline, affettate

1/2 tazza di coriandolo fresco, tritato

1 grappolo di mizuna, oppure una manciata di rucola, tagliata

Per la Marinata:

60 ml d’aceto di mele di alta qualità

1 cucchiaio di olio d’oliva o di olio di vinacciolo

1 cucchiaio di senape di Digione

2-3 cucchiaini di pasta di miso bianco

sale e pepe, a piacere

Per servire:

infiorescenze d’un grappolo di broccoli, tagliate a pezzi piccoli

pane integrale biologico, tagliato

1 avocado, pestato

Cosa fare:

Frustate le ingredienti per la marinata in una scodella piccola.

Mettete il cavolo rapa, la mela, le cipolline e il coriandolo fresco in un’insalatiera non molto grande.  Mescolate con la marinata e mettete da parte.

In una pentola media, metteteci le carote, lo zenzero e il sedano con dell’acqua che giusto copre la verdura.  Mettete sul fuoco medio-basso e fate sobbollire, facendo attenzione che non bolla.

Lasciate sobbollire giusto finché le carote non siano cotte.  (A questo punto, darei l’insalta un’altra mischiata.)  Quindi, fateci una purea col frullatore a immersione.

Abbassate il fuoco e aggiungete il seme di coriandolo, la pasta di miso e il latte di mandorle.  Fate sobbollire altri due minuti, così il miso si scioglie e i gusti si congiungono.  Insaporite con sale e pepe a piacere.

Mischiate l’insalata un’altra volta, questa volta con la mizuna o la rucola.

Servite la vellutata con mestolo e guarnite con l’insalata** e i pezzetti di broccoli.  Servite da parte delle fette di pane spalmate d’avocado.

*Nonostante gli enzimi delle carote siano meglio assimilati quando le carote sono cotte, non devi scotterle, altrimenti distruggi quegli enzimi.  Dunque, più piccole sono le fette, meno le devi cuocere, così preservando loro nutrienti.

**Non usate un mestolo perforato per servire l’insalata, dato che la marinata insaporisce la vellutata :).


Gingered Fennel, Pea and Apple Slaw (Insalata di Finocchio, Piselli e Mela allo Zenzero)

I’m trying to incorporate more raw vegetables into my diet, as well as learn to use sumac, a lemony spice that is common in Persian cooking.  I came up with a bright and refreshing slaw that utilizes some seasonal fall produce: apples and fennel.

While it’s best to let the dressing sit so the ginger and lemon flavors develop, the slaw is best served immediately while the vegetables are brightly colored and crisp.

A last-minute way to thaw the peas is to put them in a strainer and run warm water over them for about 1-2 minutes.

For the salad:

1 head fennel, halved, cut into thirds and thinly sliced

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1 small apple, quartered and thinly sliced

For the dressing:

1/4-inch piece peeled ginger, grated

2 teaspoons lemon oil or EVOO with zest of one lemon

4 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon sumac

salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

Whisk dressing ingredients together in a bowl and let rest for about an hour.  Toss with salad and serve immediately.

Gingered Fennel and Apple Slaw - The Clean Gourmet

Insalata di Finocchio, Piselli e Mela allo Zenzero:

Per l’insalata:

1 finocchio, dimezzato e tagliato in terzi e a fette sottili

1 tazza di piselli scongelati

1 mela piccola, tagliata in quarti e a fette sottili

Per il condimento:

un pezzo (circa 2-3 cm) di zenzero fresco, pelato e grattugiato

2 cucchiaini d’olio al limone oppure di olio extravergine d’oliva con la scorza di un limone

1 cucchiaio d’aceto di vino rosso

1 cucchiaino di sommacco

sale e pepe a tuo piacimento

Cosa fare:

Frustate in una scodella le ingredienti per il condimento e lasciare riposare per circa un’ora.  Unite con l’insalata e servitela subito.