Arroz con Garvonsos al Horno (Sephardic Oven-Cooked Rice with Chickpeas)

I made this dish from page 345 of Olive Trees and Honey for our Passover Seder. The dish hails from the Jewish communities of Spain. This is a ridiculously simple dish of rice, chickpeas, onions, oil, fresh parsley, and broth. The author describes the dish a risotto-like, but since it cooks in the oven it’s much easier to make. It took almost no time to prepare and the cooked for 40 minutes in the oven. Because there are so few added flavorings, it’s essential that the broth you use is very flavorful.

This was a huge hit at the Seder. Everyone loved it, especially Ian. We had leftovers too and we both happily ate it for days afterwards. I’m definitely keeping this one in my back pocket, especially when I have few things in the fridge and need to throw together dinner. This would also make a great potluck dish.


Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad

I made this recipe for Moroccan Raw Carrot Salad from page 94 of Olive Trees and Honey for our Passover Seder. The recipe calls for chili paste, minced green chilies, or cayenne. I used two sprinkles of cayenne. The dish was okay but was too spicy for everyone. I’m not sure the issue was that the levels were too spicy. I think it was more that we just didn’t like the combination of a raw carrot salad with spicy cayenne. The dish didn’t get finished.

Mixed Grains Risotto With Kale, Walnuts and Black Quinoa

The idea of this recipe for a risotto that mixed arborio rice and quinoa, was intriguing to me. I liked that the picture in the New York Times showed the dish with broth pooling in the bottom. I messed up the instructions on this dish. I made it like regular risotto, waiting until each 1/2 cup of broth was absorbed before adding another. The recipe instructions actually go by time instead of the traditional method. As a result, I didn’t end up with much broth at the end. The picture makes it look like this is mostly rice with a little quinoa. My dish ended up the other way around, I’m not sure why. The flavor of this was fine and I like the addition of the walnuts, but it wasn’t particularly exciting and I thought there was too much quinoa.

Quinoa Puttanesca

Capers and olives are two of my favorite things. So, naturally I’m a fan of pasta puttanesca. Last week I was looking for a super fast recipe I could pull together for Ian and I to eat for dinner. I found this recipe on Post Punk Kitchen for a gluten free version of pasta puttanesca that uses quinoa in place of pasta. Other than canned tomatoes, there are no veggies in the recipe, which seemed boring and not super healthy. I added broccoli and spinach. The recipe calls for A LOT of capers (1/2 cup!). We only had 1/4 cup so that’s what I added. Even with the added veggies, the dish was way too salty. There’s no added salt in the sauce, but with the olives and capers, plus the salt in the canned tomatoes, it was too much. I ended up adding chickpeas to tone down the salt, which helped a lot. Ian said the dish was better once he added unsalted fried egg. We also ran out of sauce long before we ran out of quinoa.

This a super fast weeknight, clean out the fridge kind of dish. It’s so fat and easy, that I’d try making my own version of it again, with a lot of modifications. I increase the sauce to account for the quinoa/sauce ratio, add veggies and fresh herbs, and omit the wine (I’m not convinced it did anything). Here’s the recipe I’ll try next time. I’ll report back once I do. If you try it before me, let me know how it goes!

1 cup dry quinoa (3 cups cooked)

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil (1 1/2 if making low fodmap)

3 cloves garlic, chopped (or sliced if you’re making low fodmap)

2 sprigs fresh thyme (use 1 tsp dry if you don’t have fresh)

2 sprigs fresh rosemary (use 1 tsp dry if you don’t have fresh)

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

generous pinch each tarragon and marjoram (optional)

1/3 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped (sliced in half is great)

1/4 cup capers

38 (ish) ounces canned UNSALTED crushed tomatoes

2 cups broccoli florets (or other veggies like zucchini, bell pepper, or mushroom)

3 cups spinach (or other leafy green such as kale)

fresh black pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  1. Combine quinoa and two cups water in a saucepan, bring to a boil.
  2. Turn quinoa down to low and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat a deep pan or mid sized pot over medium heat. Add the oil and garlic and stir for about a minute, being careful not to burn the garlic (if making low fodmap, cook garlic for 5-10 minutes on low and remove garlic)
  4. Add olives, capers, chickpeas, herbs, spices, and tomatoes. Cook for about 9 minutes.
  5. Add broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add spinach. Cook for 4 minutes.
  7. Turn off heat. Add pepper and parsley.
  8. Serve sauce over quinoa.

Chinese Broccoli in Garlic and Ginger Sauce

After 6 months had passed on my one-year lease of The Veggies Chinese Takeout Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan without me trying a single recipe, I picked out this recipe for Chinese Broccoli in Garlic Ginger Sauce on page 40 to accompany Crispy Tofu with Spring Onions. The recipe is easy and super fast (20 minutes tops).

I used conventional American broccoli since I didn’t have any Chinese broccoli on hand and added some asparagus from my garden as well. The asparagus wasn’t a perfect fit, but it was fine in the dish. I’m sure Chinese broccoli would have been even better, but conventional broccoli was good too. If I hadn’t added the asparagus, the recipe would have been low fodmap since I swapped the garlic for garlic oil.

This dish is super flavorful and would be great if you have broccoli and ginger in the house and not much time or energy to make dinner. It would also be great when you were just in the mood for some great Chinese broccoli. My one complaint about the dish was that it didn’t make enough. I’d definitely double it next time at least. I could have eaten so much of this.

Crispy Tofu with Spring Onions

I borrowed The Veggie Chinese Takeout Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan from one of my family members when I was back in Texas last August. By March, I still hadn’t made a single recipe. I decided to buckle down and find some dishes to make. I chose this recipe for Crispy Tofu with Spring Onions on page 65, along with Chinese Broccoli in Garlic and Ginger Sauce. I used true spring onions from my yard and to make it low fodmap, I fried the white parts in oil ahead of making the dish and then included just the green parts in the finished dish. The recipe calls for 2 tsp of chile bean paste. I used 1/4 tsp of Gochujang. The spice didn’t really come through. Next time I’d use 1/2 tsp. I also used vegetable oil instead of peanut oil, since I don’t keep peanut oil around.

This is an easy, fast weeknight dish. The longest part was cleaning and cutting the spring onions, which would have been way faster if I hadn’t used the onions from my yard, which are very diverse in size and much smaller overall than what you’d get at the store. Be warned, this recipe calls for 10 ounces of spring onion, which is A LOT. It doesn’t sound like so much until you consider how light these veggies truly are.

Overall, I liked this dish. It was easy to make and was a great dish to use all the spring onions in my yard when I’m short on other veggies in the house. I’m sure it would have been better with the white par of the onion included, but I still enjoyed it just with the green parts. I’ll keep this in my back pocket for when I’m in a dinner pinch and in the mood for Chinese.

Vegan Caldo Verde

I’ve had caldo verde on my list of dishes to try for a while. I recently found myself with extra collards during an especially cold March week. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try this recipe for Caldo Verde from the New York Times. The recipe is not vegan, but was easily made so by swapping the sausage for my favorite vegan sausage and the chicken broth for homemade veggie broth.

The ingredient list is short and the recipe was easy and quick to make. It would make a great weeknight dish. The whole thing was done in 30 minutes. The recipe said to cook the potatoes for 25 minutes, but mine were done in 15.

Even with the list of flavorings pretty limited (garlic, onion, broth), the soup was plenty flavorful. I made the soup by using onion and garlic oil instead of whole garlic and onion. I’m sure the dish would have been even better with the onion and garlic left in. I do think the dish would have benefited from a little more liquid. Next time I’d add an extra cup of broth. The recipe said to use 3-5 ounces of sausage. I used five and it was too much. Next time I’d use 3-4. Also, the vegan sausage became a bit water logged after I added it to the soup. Next time I’d keep it separate and just add the pieces each time I ate it.

Moroccan Mashed Potato Casserole

I had some extra potatoes and was looking for something interesting to do with them. I found this recipe for Moroccan Mashed Potato Casserole on page 271 of Olive Trees and Honey. The recipe was unlike anything I had ever made before. It involved boiling potatoes, mashing them with turmeric, whisking in 6 eggs, combining with other vegetables, and baking.

The resulting casserole was fine but not particularly exciting. It was definately too salty. Although I think the salt would have been fine if I had used the 3 onions the recipe calls for instead of onion oil (to make it low fodmap). I thought the dish was a bit too eggy (maybe 4 eggs would have worked better?) and I wasn’t sure about the soft carrots inside the dish. This was an interesting experience, but I don’t think I’d make it again.

Sauteed Seitan with Mushrooms and Spinach

In my quest to find new recipes to try in old cookbooks, I found this simple recipe for sauteed seitan with mushrooms and spinach in Veganomicon. I made the seitan the night before. With the seitan pre-made, this is a true weeknight dish. It took me about half an hour to cook and I made the whole thing in one pot. I made this while I was taking a break from my low fodmap diet. With onions, garlic, and mushrooms galore, it is decidedly not low fodmap. Make sure you make this in a pan with tall sides, it needs a lot of room to cook.

This was okay. Not bad for something so easy to make on a weeknight, but I’m not sure that seitan and spinach make an amazing combination. I tried eating it over rice, which was fine, noodles, which wasn’t great, and risotto, which didn’t work at all. If I happened to have these ingredients and need to whip up something quick, I’d consider making this again. But I don’t think I’d seek it out. If I did, I’d use more spinach (maybe 1.5x the amount called for). The amount of spinach seemed crazy, but it actually wasn’t much when it cooked down. I thought there wasn’t enough for the amount of seitan.

Shredded Parsnip and Beet Salad in Pineapple Vinaigrette

I’ve been trying to go back to old cookbooks and try new recipes that I’ve previously overlooked. In one of these reviews, I found this intriguing slaw in Veganomicon. I previously overlooked the recipe because I don’t really care for parsnips. But I love beets and am eating more pineapple since it’s one of the low fodmap fruits I can eat, so I thought I’d try it. The recipe is pretty easy to make. You just shred the raw veggies, chop mint, and then combine the vinaigrette ingredients.

The vinaigrette calls for an absurd amount of pineapple juice (2 cups). I used 1.5 cups and thought it was still an unnecessary amount. The slaw was a bit too wet and sweet for me. Even with the nice mint flavor and the beets, the flavor of the parsnips was offputting to me. I found I could only eat small amounts of this at a time. On the plus side, it kept for two weeks in my fridge without going bad because of the pineapple juice. I don’t think I’d make it again, but if I did I’d swap half the parsnips for carrots and halve the pineapple juice.