I've been pretty lazy about blogging this past week, so I'm bringing you another vegetarian lunch with Melissa back to back with the last one. I know that you don't mind, though, because our lunches are AWESOME. This one, in my opinion, is one of the best we have done recently. Lentils, chickpeas, raw onion, and feta with tahini, sesame, and herbs. So good, so satisfying, creamy and crunchy, nutty and sharp, it's everything. And so, so healthy. Let's also take a second to appreciate how gorgeous Melissa's platter is. She has the best dishware!
The only thing that takes time in this recipe is cooking the lentils, but they are pretty hands off and you can do them ahead of time and keep them in the fridge til you need them. This recipe has you cook them with sage and garlic to infuse the lentils with flavor - I love it.
While the lentils are cooking, toss red onion with olive oil, lemon juice, feta, and herbs. I was a little unsure about this at first - so much raw red onion? But it became my favorite part of the dish. The lemon juice kind of cures the onions as they sit and mellows them out. They become sharp, crunchy bits of awesomeness in the salad. Also, feta - I love feta. I especially love Mt Vikos Traditional Sheep and Goat feta. I swear they are not sponsoring me, but they really should (hint, hint) because I use their feta all the time.
After a bit of a hiatus, Melissa (Smells Like Brownies) and I are getting back to our weekly vegetarian lunches. Last week we tried this amazing soup recipe packed with veggies. It is warm and comforting, with lots of flavor and texture - plus it's really easy to make. It's also both vegan and vegetarian friendly. And gosh, isn't it pretty?
The soup starts out with sliced squash (we used acorn) and tiny cubes of turnip simmered in water until tender. At first I thought that one small squash and one turnip wouldn't be enough, but they turned out to be plenty! So don't go overboard and think that you need to get more/bigger. The cooking water then becomes the base for the broth and miso, tahini, and lemon zest are added to round it out.
You can garnish the soup however you like, but we stuck with the original recipe and used avocado, chives, toasted nori, and toasted sesame seeds.
The soup can be served over a grain, and we choose to try out buckwheat. We are both avoiding white rice for health reasons and thought this grain-like seed would be fun to try. Unfortunately it cooks to a porridge like consistency instead of individual grains. So I would recommend barley or brown rice instead.
I'm about to get all raw food, vegan, and healthy on you. If those words make you cringe, don't worry - these things are addictively delicious no matter what diet you follow! Let's talk about dates - they are naturally super sweet and packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are also low calorie compared to processed sweets. In other words, they are nature's guilt-free candy. Now let's talk about Barhi dates. Oh. My. Gosh. These dates have a really short season and can be hard to find (I order them from here), but they are totally worth the hunt. They taste like butterscotch candy or caramel, just on their own! There is seriously a world of difference between Barhi and other dates, believe me. And in this recipe? Killer.
Now that we've established that you should totally use Barhi dates because they are way more delicious than any other kind, what else do you need to make these caramels? Tahini, coconut oil, cardamom, and that's it! Blend it all up in a food processor and press into a lined pan. I had trouble getting all the coconut oil to incorporate, which didn't make any difference taste-wise, but made them less pretty. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt and freeze until firm.
Once they are firm, cut them into little squares and that's it! You have to keep them in the freezer so that they stay firm, but that's not so much to ask, is it? They are rich, sweet, and complex with the flavors of caramel, tahini, cardamom, and coconut coming together, and the sea salt just takes it over the top. Good for you, delicious, fits any diet, and makes great gifts - why are you not making these yet? Get on it!
Raw Tahini Date Salted Caramels
adapted from The Kitchn
*I made double
1 cup pitted dates (Barhi highly recommended)
1/2 cup tahini
2 tbsp coconut oil (room temperature)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
1/8 tsp fleur de sel or other finishing salt
Combine the dates, tahini, coconut oil, and cardamom in a blender or food processor. You should have a very smooth, creamy, and thick paste.
Transfer the mixture to a parchment-lined loaf pan (or another equivalent container) and use a spatula to press it down evenly. Sprinkle with salt.
Freeze until firm. Remove from the pan and cut into bite-size pieces.
Store in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.
I don't know about you, but I am not a huge fan of raw carrots. Warm spiced carrot soup with tahini on a cold day, though? Yeah, I'm a big fan of that.
This is another dish brought to you by my vegetarian lunches with Melissa at Smells Like Brownies. She pulled together a couple of recipes to come up with this one.
Carrots, onion, garlic, coriander, and cumin all go into the pot with vegetable stock.