Dinner prep tonight made an awfully big mess for two relatively simple dishes. Two tilapia fillets, grilled in the hot hot cast iron grill pan with just a little salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice added at the table. A savory rice dish from Moosewood that would’ve been boring on its own, but paired nicely with the buttery fish. From those recipes, we had nearly every inch of counter space covered with following dishes: 3 pans, a bunch of food processor components, cutting board, zester, and at least one knife, plus our lunch dishes and a few things left from the night before. This pile often feels insurmountable, and that is WITH a dishwasher.
This dinner, while not especially quick, was especially easy. I soaked the rice for ~10 minutes while sauteeing the onions and prepping the carrots. We didn’t have any ground cardamom, so I substituted a bit of cumin and coriander for spice. When everything went into the saucepan, I started heating the grill for the fish. From start to finish, I think dinner took 45 minutes? And then Shane was so hungry after his workout that he’d finished his entire dinner in the time it took me to take the photo. On a related note, I’m not sure how I feel about this photo. I’m trying to learn more about how our camera works, and tonight I tried something different.
Golden Rice from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
When last we encountered soba, it was in the context of a wild goose chase that took us to five separate grocery stores. In hopes of avoiding said goose chase, we bought a couple of packets, the last of which has lingered in our pantry until tonight. I gave yet another Moosewood recipe a try, and the results were consistent with the last few – i.e. filling, bland, and somewhat unremarkable. We sat down to eat with an array of hot sauces between us, and Shane asked why we kept trying Moosewood recipes if they’re always bland.
This recipe was – fine. It required more pans (total: 3) than were really necessary, and produced far less sauce than is needed to coat the quantity of soba used. We both ladled on the hot sauce to compensate for the lack of spice. If I were to make it again, I’d reduce the soba to 6 0z and add more broccoli. I would also add more garlic and a chili or two in the saute step. It was a satisfying meal, but only with some doctoring. I liked it in concept, but not in execution. Etc.
Gingered Shrimp and Soba from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites
I have mixed feelings about cookbooks from Moosewood Restaurant. I’ve had Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites since high school, when I first went vegetarian and was trying to figure out how/what to eat – but more often than not, the recipes from Moosewood have been, well, disappointing. No wonder I spent my vegetarian years eating French fries, macaroni and cheese, and other fried-or-cheese-centric dishes – the vegetarian cooking I’d experienced was bland to the point of suffering – like maybe Moosewood didn’t make an effort to spice their recipes in order to make vegetarians feel extra virtuous?
Well, it’s been almost a decade since I went back to the loving arms of animal proteins, but my Moosewood cookbook has endured, and in an effort to eat more veg and also more veg proteins, I’ve been checking in with it from time to time in hopes that a winning recipe might jump out. Tonight’s dinner wasn’t that winning recipe – but it was warm and filling while also being healthy. And by ‘healthy’, I mean that if one’s stomach is large enough – and I don’t think the human stomach is – one could eat The Entire Dish for fewer calories than a Big Mac and a small order of fries. I substituted a couple of teaspoons of raz-el-hanout for the grated ginger, which gave an extra (and needed) complexity to the flavor – next time I’d amp that seasoning up with more spices, a couple of cloves of garlic, and the full four cups of onions required in the recipe. Somehow, amazingly, we ran out of onions and I substituted everything that could remotely pass for onions – and I think it came out OK!
Mushroom Sesame Tofu Stew from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites (recipe link goes to a kind of confusing sort of social networking site, maybe? I’m fuzzy on whether/not it’s cool to post published recipes, which is why I try to give credit to the original creator and reuse someone else’s infringement on their recipe rather than create my own. So, there.)