Thai Rainbow Salad with Ginger Soy Dressing

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I have started to believe that I have a thing towards fresh produce and making everything from scratch whether its salad dressings, breads, ghee and possibly everything within my scope. There is still a long way to go, lot of skills to learn however I am loving this. Using local and fresh ingredients rather than frozen ones adds such a depth of flavor and a feel good factor in everything you make. The effort that goes in making everything perfect for your family and friends, making everything pure and good is a true epitome of love and affection.

This salad is all about freshness – delicious and crunchy ingredients, a flavorful dressing, beautifully tossed together and yay! its ready. A perfect way to welcome the summer and enjoy every bit of homemade thai flavors.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 4 – 5 people)

For the salad:

  • 1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup red carrots, julineed
  • 1/3 cup mixed bell peppers, julineed
  • 180 – 200 grams rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp peanuts
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 red chilli, for garnish

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup soy
  • 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp honey (optional)

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METHOD:

For the dressing:

  • Whisk everything together until incorporated and keep aside until ready to use.

For the salad:

  • Take a bowl filled with boiling hot water and place the rice vermicelli noodles in it. Let it soak for 2 – 3 minutes or until the noodles is cooked.
  • Once done drain it and wash it with tap water. Allow the water to completely drain off.
  • In a large bowl mix together red cabbage, cabbage, carrots, bell peppers, coriander leaves, black sesame seeds and noodles and toss it so that everything is almost evenly distributed.
  • Add the dressing and toss it.
  • Garnish with red chilli, peanuts and coriander leaves and serve!

 

 

Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas

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Monsoon therapy with rustic Cheese and Mushroom Empanadas – pure joy! The rains lashing against the window panes, steaming cup of coffee and empanadas – perfect rainy afternoon. Dreamy yummy creations which is bursting with flavors. You have to be crazy to not enjoy these savory pockets!

If that wasn’t enough to lure you to try these out, probably your childhood memories surely will. Remember those vegetable patties and pies you enjoyed at the neighborhood bakery store… oh so delicious! The crisp and flaky pastry and the absolutely gorgeous stuffing…I am already dreaming about it while writing this post. While I was in the US, I often missed those patties until I stumbled upon these hot pockets filled with sumptuous stuffing called empanadas from a famous food truck in San Francisco. It ticked all the boxes for the things I was missing. Homely and satisfying.

I was trying my hands to make empanadas at home and guess what, I  was bursting with ideas. It almost took 1 week for me to calm down and decide about the filling. You can fill the dough with all your favorite things and enjoy these wonders.

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes around 14 – 15 pieces)

For the dough:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour + extra for dusting and rolling out the dough
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 grams butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 120 ml ice water
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
  • 200 grams button mushrooms, chopped
  • 200 grams cottage cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup spinach, blanched and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp freshly chopped basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp chili flakes
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

For the dough:

  • Take all purpose flour, whole wheat flour and salt in a bowl and whisk it.
  • Using a pastry blender/ 2 forks or using the tips of your fingers, blend the cold butter into the flour mixture until it forms a coarse crumb like mixture.
  • Beat 1 egg, ice cold water and white vinegar in a bowl and keep aside.
  • Add the egg mixture to the flour-butter mixture and using a fork combine the entire mixture. Do not over knead it.
  • Generously dust the kitchen top with flour and transfer the dough on to it.
  • Bring together the entire dough together by gently kneading it.
  • Divide the dough into 2 halves, cling wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for atleast 1.5 hours.

For the mixture:

  • While the dough is resting, take a saucepan on medium heat. Put oil in it.
  • Once its hot add 1 tsp chili flakes and saute for a few seconds.
  • Now add chopped onions and saute it for a minute until it turns translucent.
  • Add mushrooms to the mixture and let it cook for a minute.
  • Now add the remaining chili flakes, salt, black pepper and basil leaves and saute the mixture for couple of minutes,
  • Once done take it from the stove and allow it to cool completely.
  • Once cooled add grated cottage, spinach and mozzarella cheese and form a mixture using a spoon.

To Assemble:

  • Preheat your oven to 230 C for atleast 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep aside.
  • Take the dough out of the fridge. Take some dough and roll it out on a flat surface into round discs of similar sizes ( approximately 6 inch diameter)
  • Take the stuffing and place it on one side of the circle.
  • Take the other end of the dough and form a semi circle. Seal the edges as shown in the picture or by making knife impressions.
  • Once all the pies are formed, beat one egg and using a pastry brush, egg wash the top of the empanadas before they go into the oven to bake.
  • Place the pies atleast 1 inch apart and put it into the oven to bake at 200 C for 18 – 20 minutes, until the empanadas a golden brown and crisp.
  • Serve it hot with a yogurt dip and enjoy!

Summer Pasta Salad

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Lets talk salad! A summer pasta salad is indeed a bowl of comforting stuff to beat the heat wave. The fresh and flavorful kick of the salad makes it a quintessential summer dream meal! Beautifully cooked pasta, some fresh summer veggies and a bold dressing and you are good to go!

As soon as I enter the grocery store next to my house, I am awe struck with the freshness of the produce and ideas keep striking at lightening speed. This summer salad is a celebration of the clean and simple ingredients. The cherry tomatoes provides burst of freshness to the salad, the roasted peppers adds the extra oomph to it. The creamy dressing is jam packed with flavor and brings together the entire dish.

Yes, the salad is yummy and you can get on your own adventure ride by tossing in different veggies because its all abut what delights you!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 1 – 2 people)

For the salad:

  • 160 grams boiled pasta ( I used Farfelle)
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper
  • 12 pieces cherry tomatoes, cut lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds, for garnishing

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise ( I used store bought mayonnaise)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp white vingear
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, finely chopped (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • crushed black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

For the salad:

  • Brush the yellow pepper with vegetable oil generously. Place it on a gas stove on medium flame.
  • Keep rotating the sides every 30 – 40 seconds so that it chars evenly.
  • Once charred, place the pepper in cold water, remove the skin, de-seed it and cut it lengthwise into strips.
  • Meanwhile place the broccoli florets in a pot of boiling water with salt for 2 minutes.
  • Once done run it under ice cold water and keep aside.

For the dressing:

  • Take mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, honey and vinegar in a bowl and combine it using a wire whisk.
  • Transfer it into an air tight container. Add extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic in the container. Close the lid and shake it hard until all the ingredients are well combined.

To assemble:

  • Take all the veggies and herbs in a bowl. Drizzle it with the salad dressing.
  • Toss the entire salad using the salad spoon so that each pasta is well coated.
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds and serve.

Enjoy!

Strawberry Avocado Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

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STRAWBERRIES – yes I am completely smitten by this gorgeous fruit. When the stores are full of  fresh and juicy strawberries, you can’t stop thinking of the multitude of recipes that you can end up making. From desserts to smoothies, jams to salads, strawberries is the star of the dish where ever you add them. So don’t be surprised if my recent posts have lots and I really mean lots of strawberries in it.

Strawberry Avocado Salad is a classic salad which is highly nutritious and yummy. This is a must try recipe when the fruit is in its best form. While the avocados add the creamy texture to the salad, the strawberries shine brightly adding the tanginess and sweetness to the salad. And by now you might have figured out how I love balsamic in my dishes so here we have honey balsamic vinaigrette to get the salad all together.

So when strawberry is in season and you are trying to eat right, eat healthy – this salad is not to be missed. Yes, healthy can be definitely delicious!

RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

For the salad:

  • 15 strawberries, cut lengthwise
  • 1 avocado, diced into cubes
  • 10 almonds, cut into slices
  • 6 big spinach leaves, washed and pat dried
  • 1/4 cup dill leaves, for garnishing

For the dressing:

  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinger
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard (optional)
  • freshly crushed black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste

METHOD:

  • Preheat your oven to 150 C for atleast 10 minutes. Meanwhile line a baking sheet with parchment paper and toast the almond slices for 8 minutes or until light golden.
  • Once toasted keep it aside for final assembly.
  • Meanwhile take balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard and olive oil in a bowl and using he wire whisk, keep whisking until well incorporated.
  • Now add the  crushed garlic clove, red chili flakes, salt and pepper and whisk it again and transfer it to a container.Place the lid and keep it in the refrigerator until you will serve the salad.
  • Now to assemble the salad, place the spinach leaves on the bottom of the serving plate. You can choose to chop the leaves lengthwise for ease of eating also.
  • Now randomly place the strawberries and avocado cubes on top of the spinach leaves.
  • Now garnish with the toasted almonds and dill leaves.
  • Right before serving drizzle a generous amount of the vinaigrette, toss the salad ingredients and enjoy!

Roasted Figs, Caramelized Onions and Ricotta Cheese Crostini

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Seeing a box of fresh fig at a local grocery shop – my brain is running at million miles a minute to understand how will I use so many figs. But I really want them to make atleast a few dishes. I decide to buy it because I have finally figured out a 3 – 4 dishes where I can use these beautiful fresh figs. I am in love with them.

Today’s recipe is my absolute favorite since it has all the ingredients I love. With the festive season coming, you will fall in love with this recipe since its quick to assemble, its not commonplace, its fresh and not heavy on your palate. The roasted figs are beautiful and tender, adding tartness and sweetness to crostini. The chili caramelised onion is simply gorgeous on your taste buds. The hit of the chili and the flavors of balsamic vinegar and honey  is alluring. Then comes in the ricotta cheese that forms the base of the whole dish and adds the perfect saltiness to the dish. The freshness from these ingredients spruces up the flavors of the dish.

This crostini is a great interplay of sweetness and saltiness in each bite which makes you want to dig in for more. Use a nice baguette, ornate these crostini with mint leaves or basil leaves and you have a stellar dish to celebrate this festive season with your friends and family.

Do share your experience with me! Follow us on Instagram or like us on Facebook – we will get you the best recipes to enjoy your meals!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (Makes around 12 pieces)

  • 6 fresh figs, cut into 4 pieces lengthwise
  • 3 tbsp ricotta cheese
  • 3 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 medium sized onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vineger
  • 1 tbsp chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 20 fresh mint leaves
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste
  • basil leaves, for garnishing
  • 1 french baguette loaf

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METHOD:

  • Preheat the oven to 180C for atleast 5 – 7 minutes.
  • Trim the stems of the fresh figs and cut it into quarters lengthwise.
  • Arrange the figs, facing upwards on the baking tray and put it into the oven for 10 minutes or until slightly tender.
  • Once done, remove it from the oven and let it rest.
  • Meanwhile take a bowl mix in the ricotta cheese and greek yoghurt until it forms a smooth paste like mixture.
  • Add in salt (don’t add much salt since cheese has its saltiness) and roughly chopped mint leaves and freshly grounded black pepper. Mix the mixture well and set aside.
  • Take a saucepan, add the olive oil and once heated add in half the chili flakes and sauté for 20 – 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions and sauté until its translucent.
  • Add the honey, pinch of salt and balsamic vinegar and sauté for a couple of minutes on medium heat until onion is brownish (not burnt) in color.
  • Add the remaining chili flakes and sauté for 20 – 30 seconds and take it of the heat.
  • Take the baguette and  cut it diagonally into 1/4 inch thick slices. Put it to toast in the oven at 180C for 4 minutes or until lightly brown.
  • Once toasted, generously spread the cheese – yoghurt mixture on the baguette. Place 2 pieces of figs on one side. Take a spoon of caramelized onion and place it on the other side.
  • Garnish with fresh mint or basil leaves and serve with the cheese yoghurt dip.

Bon Appétit!

 

Rainbow Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

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The start of October means the start of festivals all across India. There is an aura of happiness and wafting aroma of excellent food everywhere. I indulge to my hearts content, however I try to reset my day by eating something healthy, atleast one meal a day. The idea of eating healthy and delicious food got me to make this Rainbow Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was inspired by a salad I ate at Yoga Cafe in Mumbai – simply soul satisfying!

This Rainbow Salad is indeed a treasure trove of the freshest fruits and vegetables that I picked up from a local grocery store. The vibrant colors and textures of the ingredients, makes it a picturesque plate of food where you want to dig in. The crispiness from the home grown lettuce leaves to the fresh explosion of pomegranate pearls and orange segments is blissful. The alfalfa sprouts ornate the dish beautifully and add a nice earthy feeling to it. While the tomatoes add the juiceness to the dish, the smokiness comes from the char grilled peppers. Assimilating these ingredients might be time consuming at times however the outcome is great too. The feta cheese (one of my favorite cheese) adds the creaminess to the powerhouse salad and all this is well brought together with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Remember to drizzle the dressing right before you eat it.

Yes, I am a salad person but I get bored eating the same salads again and again. However this is one salad where you can experiment with different ingredients – add some, delete some and never get bored. Eat this colorful salad, eat healthy, stay healthy!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For 2 – 3 people)

For the salad:

  • 25 grams of Alfalfa sprouts
  • 10 – 11 pieces lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 6 orange segments, deseeded
  • 1 medium sized red pepper
  • 1 big tomato, deseeded and cut lengthwise
  • 40 grams feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 10 pieces toasted walnuts (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the dressing:

  • 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp Extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Chili Flakes
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 6 mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
  • salt, to taste
  • freshly grounded black pepper, to taste

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METHOD:

  • For the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a glass jar/container. Shake well and keep it in the refrigerator for atleast 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile brush the red pepper generously with olive oil and keep it on a naked flame so that it chars. Turn the side every 2 minutes to get a even char on the red pepper.
  • Once its grilled, put it in a bowl with cold water. Peel the skin and cut it into thin strips and keep aside.
  • Take a bowl or a platter, place the lettuce leaves. Randomly place half the grilled peppers and tomatoes on the leaves.
  • Now scatter the alfalfa sprouts and the remaining tomatoes and bell peppers.
  • Garnish with pomegranate seeds, orange segments and feta cheese cubes.
  • Right before eating drizzle the vinaigrette, toss it and enjoy the salad.

Stay healthy, stay happy!

 

 

 

Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps

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Thinking of eating something healthy and super delicious – these Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps is the way to go. Its such a fun way to eat your salad – deconstructed and then you reconstruct the way you want it. You end up being content in every bite you take.

While I was in the US, I often craved for Indo – Chinese food that I have grown up eating back in Kolkata. There were a couple of restaurants that transported you back to India and could genuinely satiate your cravings. Weekends came and these places were buzzing with Indians and I often used to be one in the crowd. However, when I went to the much loved P.F.Chang’s, it introduced me to a whole new spectacle of Chinese food (though still not authentic, but definitely delicious). I tried the lettuce wraps and completely enamored by it.

Recently, I bought some fresh water chestnuts from the grocery store ad I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate it by making lettuce wraps. Its healthy and yummy food – al rolled into one bite. It boasts of bold flavors and hence addictive. The flavorful filling compliments the freshness of the lettuce and the crunchiness from the roasted peanuts.

Why wait – toss up the filling in a lip smacking sauce and enjoy these easy to make wraps with your friends and family!

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RECIPE

INGREDIENTS: (For  4- 6 people)

  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 250 gms extra firm tofu
  • 2 cups fresh water chest nuts, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp red chili sauce
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 10 – 12 romaine lettuce leaves/ iceberg lettuce leaves
  • grated carrots, for garnishing
  • roasted peanuts, for garnishing
  • Salt, to taste

METHOD:

  • In a bowl combine soy sauce, hoisin sauce, red chili sauce,  vinegar and sesame oil and set aside.
  • Take the tofu slab and squeeze out excess water using a kitchen towel. Once the excess water has been squeezed out, finely chop the tofu.
  • In a skillet, heat the olive oil. Once heated add the red chili flakes and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chopped tofu and let it cook for 3 – 4 minutes. Keep breaking the tofu pieces randomly as it is cooking.
  • Next add in both the mushrooms and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Make sure that the water has evaporated completely.
  • Add ginger and garlic and let the mixture cook for a minute. At this point add the chopped water chestnuts and green onion and sauté for 2 minutes.
  • The tofu should be golden brown on its edges. Once this happens add the sauce mixture set aside.
  • Add salt (make sure to add less salt, since the sauce mixture is quite salty) and let the whole mixture cook until you hear bubbling sounds from the sauce.
  • Once the mixture is cooked , take it off the flame and keep it aside to be served in a bowl.
  • While the mixture is cooking, take the lettuce leaves and put it in a covered bowl with ice cubes for atleast 15 minutes so that the leaves are crunchy.
  • Take the lettuce leaves, pat dry it, fill the filling and serve as shown in the pic.

Enjoy and Stay Healthy!