Category Archives: Lunch

Spiced Roasted Chickpeas for Mediterranean Tacos

My lab has developed this lovely tradition of a lunch club, where once or twice a week one person cooks lunch for everyone. So far our menu has ranged from a spiced wheat berry salad to Indian food to zucchini glory. And part of the reason you haven’t heard from me in a couple of weeks is due to a lunch club related kitchen disaster that happened last week. I don’t want to talk about it.

Ok, if you insist. I tried to make pita bread. Ended up with pita hockey pucks. I tried to made dolma. Ended up with a pile of torn grape leaves and an abundance of super tasty filling. I tried to make falafel. Ended up with a soupy unpalatable mess. I e-mailed my labmates at 9:30 after 4 hours in the kitchen telling them I hated strongly disliked them and I wasn’t bringing them lunch.

But alas, I wasn’t going to be defeated and I was still stuck on the idea of a Mediterranean lunch… but I decided to simplify it. I bought the hummus and some flat breads. And instead of turning the chickpeas into falafel, I decided to roast them and enjoy them in all their chickpeay glory.

Holy moly. I am going to roast chickpeas all the freaking time now. I had to do everything in my power to not eat all of them directly off of the baking sheet. It killed me to transfer the contents to a tupperware container and have to wait 18 hours to eat them. BUT, after those 18 hours… I got to smother them with garlic hummus, adorn them with fresh veggies and a squeeze of lemon juice, and wrap it all in some fluffy flat bread. And then I put it all in my mouth. And it was glorious.

I kept the flavors pretty standard Mediterranean with some cucumbers, garden fresh tomatoes, olives, red onion, mint, and lemon juice. My Danish labmate gave me a 5.3 out of 6 (silly Danish scale)… but only so that I would keep trying. This was some seriously good lunch time eating and so simple. Save your tastebuds from the work week lean cuisine monotony with these yummy Mediterranean Tacos!

 Roasted Chickpea Mediterranean Taco
Materials:
For the Roasted Chickpeas
  • 2 cans chick peas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • juice from 1 lime
For the Rest
  • 1 package flatbread
  • Your favorite hummus
  • 2 small cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup lettuce, torn apart
  • assorted olives
  • 1 lemon
Methods:
To make the Chickpeas
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss the chickpeas with the remaining ingredients and allow to marinade for about 30 minutes.
  3. Spread out evenly in 1 layer on baking sheet and place in oven for 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
To assemble the tacos
  1. Smear flatbread with hummus, top with remaining ingredients as desired, top with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  2. Enjoy!

More corn and more salad

Ok, the time has come. I have no flight reservations coming up, no trips, no big school events, etc. And I couldn’t be more excited! I had a few weeks of travel that all culminated with my birthday weekend this past weekend (Happy Birthday to me!). I had an amazing birthday where I felt immensely loved and taken care of, which is the best way to spend your birthday. From a new (zoom) lens from my amazing parents and a family reunion at some old stomping grounds in Michigan to a surprise birthday dinner at Chez Panisse and homemade birthday cakes in Berkeley from my amazing friends… it truly was a treat and I feel very blessed!

But alas, time to get down to business around here, especially as summer produce is flooding our farmers markets and our gardens. When vegetables are grown organically and picked fresh and ripe, they are at their most nutritious. When farmed organically (without the use of pesticides, etc), the plants must rely on their natural defenses to stay alive. This means that they produce more protective compounds, which are then passed on to you when you eat it. Also, when they are at their ripest, it is when the plant is saying, “ok, i’m ready for my seeds to be spread, in return I will give you a nutrient packed treat!” So, I encourage you to take advantage of the produce that is out right now!

Which brings me to this salad. I was in Michigan, which for anyone who has visited there, has lots of corn… and a 100 degree day on the 5th of July was a perfect day for this corn salad that my mom has been waiting to try out. It is the perfect refreshing dish for a summer barbecue. We added some chickpeas to it to make it a filling main dish and served it at a little get together and it was enjoyed by all! I jazzed it up a bit with extra basil and some mint and it was incredibly palate pleasing and a great way to cool down on a hot day. Also, a big shout out to Elaine for providing the adorable star plate and the other props for this dish :-).

Fresh Corn Salad
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
 
Materials:
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 ears fresh corn, kernels cut off
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper (I used orange), finely diced
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 2 cups arugula
Method:
  1. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper, and set aside to allow the sugar to dissolve while preparing the rest of the salad.
  2. Toss together the fresh corn kernels with the fresh of the finely diced vegetables and dressing.
  3. At serving, gently fold in the arugula.
  4. Enjoy!
    • Preferably with family and friends at a summer BBQ :-).

Not your average salad

Remember my spiel about salads? Right.

Well here is another reminder that salads don’t have to be boring! Or limp. Or soggy. This salad is about as crunchy and zippy as it gets. Lemon juice, vinegar, and jalapeños for brightness, corn and cabbage for crunch, all cooled off by some tomatoes. We have ourselves a winner!

Isn’t cabbage pretty?

Oh, do some of those ingredients look familiar? Ya, I haven’t been to the grocery store… so I am in throwing-together-what-I-have mode. Also because I have been trying my hardest to use everything from one grocery trip before going again to avoid wasting food. Well turns out 1 head of cabbage takes me forever to get rid of, so the cabbage you see popping up in all my recipes all hails from the same head of cabbage. I have begged cabbage-loving R to take it off my hands… but lately I think he has had enough of eating foods that leak red color into him (the same guy who complains that beets taste like dirt has been drinking beet/dirt juice nightly… at least when he isn’t too busy making oatmeal smoothies?? I don’t know about that one…). And the lemon juice you see in the recipe? Oh, just from a lemon that I GREW. NBD. I have a meyer lemon tree as part of my balcony oasis, and said little lemon tree currently has roughly 30 itty bitty teeny weeny little lemons on it!

Expect lot so of lemon recipes this summer…

Anyways, if it means eating this salad every night until the cabbage is done, then I am A-OK with that!

Spicy Cabbage and Corn Salad
Materials:
  • 1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
  • Fresh kernels from 1 ear of corn
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and sliced thin
  • Juice from 1 meyer lemon
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fresh chopped mint
  • salt and pepper to taste
Methods:
  1. Toss all of the above ingredients together.
  2. Enjoy!

Spring salad

I enjoy salads as much as the next vegetarian, I suppose.

No, scratch that… I enjoy salads less than the average vegetarian (who I made up for the purpose of this argument). It isn’t so much that I dislike the idea of a salad, or raw vegetables… it’s just that salads are usually so uninspired. As in, if we are defining salad as “a bowl of raw vegetables tossed in oil and vinegar,” then count me in. But, if we are talking “bowl of limp iceberg lettuce with some hard tomatoes on top,” then count me out. Far out. As you can see, my issue is that most of the bowl is taken up by lettuce. I have nothing against lettuce… but I would rather have the space taken up by other vegetables. Everyone’s favorite parts of a salad are the dressing and the toppings, anyways, right? So why not make a salad that is ONLY toppings?

The few years post college, I started doing just that. My idea of a salad was garden fresh tomatoes (my mom is a prolific tomato grower in the summer), cucumber, fresh corn, avocado, red onion, and Ken’s steakhouse italian dressing (yes, that is my favorite dressing and can be added to my odd list of favorites under fake maple syrup and above barbecue sauce). Delicious! So whenever I see a salad that is sans lettuce, it peaks my interest… which is exactly what this salad did. I made it for dinner one night last week and it was AMAZING. My word, it is so refreshing and flavorful. It has a super light dressing, but then the salad almost dresses itself as the tangerines burst in your mouth with every bite.

Well this weekend, when I was craving an equally refreshing salad (it has been pretty hot here lately), but had none of the ingredients left, I threw the following salad together. I had bought some radishes and asparagus, and knew I wanted to do something raw with the asparagus. And a little birdie once told me that radishes are delicious (but not as delicious as soup). AND I had a grapefruit that needed to be eaten. So it looked like I was on my way to a pretty delicious salad. And I was right (said with M emphasis)! It is crispy and crunchy and tangy and smooth. The radishes do their thing, and then the asparagus does its thang for the rest of the day. Lovely, just lovely.

Asparagus and Radish Spring Salad
Materials:
  • 1/2 bunch radishes
  • a few spears of asparagus
  • 1/2 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 grapefruit, supremed
  • 1/2 cup snap peas, halved
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
Methods:
  1. Slice the radishes and asparagus thinly using a mandolin.
  2. I cut the asparagus crosswise into medallions, but feel free to try ribbons if that is what you prefer.
  3. Toss everything together and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Enjoy!

Obligatory Cinco de Mayo post

Seriously though, who doesn’t love Cinco de Mayo at least a little bit? An excuse to eat Mexican food and drink Margs? Deal. In fact, in college, my roommates and I were so fond of Cinco de Mayo, that we also celebrated Doce de Mayo, so we had an excuse to do it all over again the following weekend (a decision I think some of us were regretting the following morning).

I haven’t quite decided how I am going to spend it this year, but I know it started with these tacos. And that it is going to continue with burritos and street beers (Tecate, of course) for lunch tomorrow, per the request of a dear Mexican friend of mine. And these tacos were so good, that it might end with them as well. And since they are filled with only good things, I can eat them to my hearts content!

And then complain about how full I am… :-/

Filled with nutrients, that is! As luck would have it (well there is nothing lucky about it, nature knows exactly what its doing), sweet potatoes are actually the bomb diggity. One of the bomb diggityest, I would dare to say. Let’s work through it. First you see the sweet potato, and how orange it is… that right there is a good sign (the more colorful your vegetable, the better). Underneath that pleasing orange hue resides a great store of vitamin A, which helps your body regulate an innumerable list of important processes (a lab in my department has studied this extensively). Everyone knows how good vitamin A is for your eyes, but it is so much more than that! It literally helps your brain function. Mice that have a vitamin A deficiency are, to use a scientific term, dumb. They have trouble learning, orienting themselves, etc. Oh, and they are overweight too. Now, once your body takes up all the vitamins and cofactors, it is left with fiber, that then goes into the gastrointestinal track to act as fertilizer for your gut micro biome, the forgotten organ that you want to keep happy… but more on that another day.

So put down those french fries, and give the sweet potato a try! Preferably delivered to your mouth in these delicious tacos topped with a fresh mexican succotash (do people even eat succotash anymore?!) 🙂

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 
Sweet Potato Tacos
Materials:
For the tacos
  • olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
For the succotash
  • 1 cup lima beans, cooked
  • kernels from 1 ear corn
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • juice from 1 lemon (or lime)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Methods:
  1. Heat up some olive oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute.
  3. Add the taco seasoning and cook for additional minute.
  4. Add the sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Stir in the black beans and cook for additional 5 minutes, until the sweet potato is fully cooked.
  6. In the meantime, toss together all the ingredients for the succotash.
  7. To assemble: briefly heat tortilla either in microwave for 30 seconds or in dry skillet, top with sweet potato and beans, and spoon on succotash.
  8. Enjoy!
    • May a suggest with a side of margarita?

Is it true that bread rots your brain?

Well commence brain rotting, for I am about to feed you a sandwich. Unless we were in Japan, then I would be feeding you a sandwich on rice bread.

Ya, that exists.

I love my sunglasses (and the person who bought them for me)!

The other day, I ran home during lunch to grab something, and whipped up some lunch while I was there.  I wanted something light and healthy… but still filling. Something that could be prepared and eaten in 30 minutes… but not convenience food. I had a portobello mushroom in my fridge that was destined for something else, but that afternoon the powerful bread lobby convinced me to make it into a sandwich.

My usual beef with portobello mushroom sandwiches is that they tend to be messy. And, well, messiness from a sandwich wasn’t the kind of mess I was looking for on that afternoon. The lunch plan then became to make a fast and clean portobello sandwich. The fast part sort of dropped as my balcony beckoned me to eat my lunch on it. But whatevs (she sure uses a lot of ghetto slang…). But if you make it, I ensure it will be all that I promised: a fast, clean, and filling portobello sandwich. California style.

Portbello Mushroom Sandwich
Materials:
  • 1 portobello mushroom cap, stem and gills removed
  • sesame oil
  • 1/2 avocado, pitted and sliced
  • sprouts of some sort
  • tomato slices
  • 2 tablespoons mayonaise (I use vegenaise)
  • 2 tablespoons mustard (I know what you are thinking… this isn’t nearly enough mustard.)
  • 2 slices bread of choice
Methods:
  1. Lightly rub each side of the mushroom with sesame oil.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over high heat.
  3. Sear the mushroom over high heat, about 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Assemble the sandwich: Spread the mayonnaise and mustard on the bread, top with mushroom, avocado, tomato, and sprouts, give the whole thing a shake of salt and pepper, and top with other bread slice.
    • I would have toasted my bread, but my toaster oven decided not to work this afternoon.
  5. Enjoy!
    • Preferably on a balcony.
Ok, now i’m just showing off.