Although new year resolutions are kinda not my type of thing, simply because we should not wait for a new year to try to better ourselves, this year I will try to follow a more plant-forward mentality.
Even though I do not like to label my diet or restricting myself from anything I have been trying to overpower my meals with a variety of plants and legumes. Considering I have been on holiday and traveling to a foodie's Disney (aka New York) these have been some of my favorite homemade meals these past few weeks:
Roasted Pumpkin & Leek Risotto
I love roasting my veggies before blending them and using the puréeto cook the risotto. As the pumpkin and the leek are quite sweet, I love adding a generous amount if blue cheese like Gorgonzola or Roquefort. Its tangy and savory flavor balances out any spoonful of deliciousness.
Beetroot and Orange Carpaccio
The most memorable dinner me and my family shared while traveling in New York, was an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. Their menu is seasonal, which aligns with my plant-forward mentality.
Easy to say, it was one of the best culinary experience I had, considering it transported me back to Italy. It was here where I got to taste the magic of mixing beetroot, oranges, and a very savory and strong cheese.
My take on it was slightly different, considering what I could find. I garnished by beets and oranges with with crumbled feta cheese, shredded basil, pepper mint, chopped cashews, a drizzle of olive oil and black pepper. Beetroots are soft and sweet, oranges are juicy and tangy, the feta brings the saltiness, the basil and mint the aromas, the cashews the crunch, and the extra Virgin olive oil combines everything together.
Sweet & Sour Rice Cabbage Rolls with smashed Rosemary Potatoes.
When you boil the cabbage leaves, they become super elastic and great to wrap like little burritos. The earthiness of the mushrooms, the sweetness of the cooked carrots, the aroma of the mint, the crunch from the chopped almonds, the umami from the soy sauce, and the tanginess from the tamarind and orange sauce went perfectly with a drizzle of sriracha and a dip of creamy peanut sauce.
I wanted something crunchy and starchy to go along the cabbage rolls, so I boiled and smashed tiny potatoes, then seasoned them with a lot of oil, rosemary, and black pepper. I dont take them out until golden, and crispy to the eye (jeje). We had to enjoy them with a Spanish staple, truffle aïoli.
Tofu Rainbow Rolls
Even though the cold winter is the worst time to make these fresh bad boys, they are just so fun, versatile, healthy, filling, and plant-forward.
For me the key is making tofu sticks in the oven. I always press down the tofu to get the moisture down, before marinating with sesame oil, soy sauce, red chili flakes, garlic powder, salt and pepper. They come out like flavorful nuggets.
As for veggies and herbs, mint leaves and cilantro are a must! Depending on the seasonality and where I am based, I like to include sliced avocado, shredded cucumber, bell peppers, radicchio, and vermicelli noodles wrapped in rice paper!
Now, the keys of the keys in this recipe is the dipping sauce.
My Triple S Ginger Garlic Peanut Sauce is the ultimate key to success. It needs to have sweet, spicy, and sour.
To the peanut butter add minced garlic and ginger, then a dash of soy sauce, honey, sriracha and lime juice. Mix with with a bit of hot water to make creamy
Melanzane alla Parmigiana
The vegetarian Italian classic!
Layers of homemade tomato sauce, crispy eggplant slices, mozzarella, and parmigiano is what defines this iconic Italian dish. Usually enjoyed during the winter, as it is "troppo pesante", but straight to the heart.
I played a little bit with the sauce, as I had some vegetables I wanted to use, with thinly diced leek, green onion, and cherry tomatoes. The eggplant slices, instead of frying them, there were baked until crisp.
Remember to broil for 5 minutes the Parmigiana, so all the top cheese grates perfectly.