April Eats

April was a blur, and when I sat down to make notes in my cookbook last night, I felt a little dejected because I didn’t remember cooking that much. But flipping through Naturally Nourished, I realized that I actually did make quite a number of new recipes despite being crazy busy.

April’s list is in chronological order because my brain doesn’t have the capacity to rank things right now. All recipes from Naturally Nourished unless otherwise noted.

1 and 2. Smoked Lentil Tacos with homemade tortillas – Isabelle Eats
These tacos were a big time winner in our vegan-mostly household. I increased the recipe by 50% thinking it would give us some leftovers for lunches, so we ended up with a crazy amount of lentils – enough for dinner for 3, 3 days’ worth of lunches (in Mason jar salads), and 2 cups for the freezer. I didn’t make any of the accouterments recommended in the recipe, opting for store-made pineapple salsa from Mariano’s (which was just OK).

This was also my first attempt at homemade tortillas. As you can see, they weren’t the prettiest, but they were way easier than expected. (We won’t talk about the second attempt.)

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3. Grilled Eggplant and Mushrooms with Saucy Almond Butter Noodles
Except that we roasted the eggplant and mushrooms along with a large amount of broccoli for the toddler, and used whole wheat linguini (instead of rice noodles) because that’s what we had on hand, and sometimes I just can’t justify $3+ for a single ingredient for a recipe I haven’t tried before.

The combination of an interesting vegetable + noodles + a creamy sauce is basically always a winner, though for eggplant and almond butter, I expect we’ll fall back on this Minimalist Baker recipe.

4. Snappy Spring Salad with Lemon-Mint Date Sauce
The recipe linked above isn’t exactly the same as in the book, but it’s close enough – particularly the dressing. This was fast, simple, and refreshing. I expect we’ll be making similar salads all summer.

5. Grilled Caesar Salad with Tempeh and Chickpea Croutons
So when you read “grilled Caesar”, I’m guessing you thought “grilled ______ Caesar”, as in whatever is ON the Caesar was grilled, not the salad itself. Well, you’d be wrong – and you probably understand why N was super skeptical when I told him what was for dinner. I asked him to trust me, and cited as evidence of the concept a really wonderful grilled salad I’d previously enjoyed at Jolly Pumpkin. (When oh when are you coming to Chicago, JP?!)

This salad was a revelation. I baked a block of tempeh to round it out into a full meal, but you could just as easily add your protein of choice. Another one for the summertime roster.

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6. Fantastic Falafel Waffles
I keep trying to make healthier takes on falafel at home, and they keep not working. Ironically, so does Sarah Britton. I don’t know whether it was the recipe or my waffle maker, but these quite simply did not waffle. I ended up frying them – and tossing my waffle iron after one too many recipe fails. They were good, probably better than the previous attempt, but I think I’ll leave falafel to the pros from now on.

7 and 8. Rainbow Hummus Bowl with Simple Mint Pea Dip
I don’t know that I would call this a recipe, per se, but I like the idea of the Rainbow Hummus Bowl – a bunch of crunchy veggies served on top of, rather than underneath, the dressing or sauce. After a run but before an afternoon excursion, I blended up a batch of Simple Mint Pea dip, then spread a generous layer across the bottom of our prettier plates, topping each plate with several different kinds of veggies. We spread the rest of the pea dip on crackers. It was all delicious.

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9. Cool It Noodle Salad with Radishes and Peas
(Another close enough link above.) I had the ratio of noodles-to-veggies all wrong, but that was sort of what I wanted, though I’ll (at least try) to get it right next time. A good amount of crunch, but with a fresh dressing.

10. North African Sun-Dried Tomato Soup
And then there was a solid 10 days where work was stupidly busy, and we were in and out of town, and by the time I surfaced, it was the end of the month, and the nice weather had disappeared, and our apartment had been rented out, and a recipe put on the list earlier in the month seemed just right. I didn’t want to spend $7 on a jar of harissa (see above re: single ingredients), so used the last of the cayenne and paprika in our cabinet. We were out of couscous, so I substituted a handful of slivered almonds in the topping, inspired by romesco sauce. The soup was flavorful and spicy, but the topping – olives, lemon zest, parsley, and the almonds – really stole the show. (Please note that the chickpeas weren’t organized in any way – they popped to the surface like this all on their own.)

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So, not a bad month of cooking after all – and more than enough new recipes to carry me through May, since our ability to cook will be limited by the fact that we’re moving to a new apartment at the end of the month.

I will miss the wonderful natural light in the kitchen, but have gotten inspired by all of the minimalist kitchens in the IKEA catalog, and am excited to see how we can do more with less – in the kitchen, and in general.

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