Miso Hungry

Do you ever have those moments when you realize that you’ve done something really, really dumb? You know, like when you go to wash your face in the shower and realize you just poured conditioner into your hands. And to make it worse, you haven’t shampooed yet, so you can’t just go on and condition, so as not to waste.

Or when you walk up to the counter to pay for your coffee and realize you left your wallet in the car. Or worse – at home? They don’t really let you wash dishes to earn your coffee/food like people say they do. But sometimes they are nice and they let you slide, or pay them next time.

I don’t have a gym membership anymore, but when I did, there were plenty of times when I’d get showered and ready for work at the gym, only to find that I’d neglected to pack a bra. Let’s just say that sweaty sports bras have no place in the professional world, or at least they shouldn’t have…

Hopefully you’ve all been there a time or two as well. Or at least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Food-wise, I’ve done plenty of silly things in the kitchen. Last night even, I was making pizza, and I must have spread the dough too thinly because when the pizza came outta the oven, it definitely didn’t come off the pan. We were left picking chunks, some charred and some gooey, off the pan instead of sitting down to perfectly cooked pieces of pie.

I’ve already told you about the time I forgot to take the tie off of the soba noodles, and ended up with goops of noodles. And yeah, there are plenty of others, I’m sure.

The worst though, is when you finally use an ingredient, one that you’ve heard about, read about, and for whatever reason, never bought yourself, and you LOVE it. At least for me, I think of all those months and years I could have used said ingredient, enjoyed said ingredient, shoved said ingredient into my face. Avocadoes are one such ingredient, and I’ve tried to make up for lost time.

Miso is another. Oh, baby. Be still, my heart.

Since my discovering miso, oh, 1 month ago, there has been miso-glazed chicken, miso-curry vegetables, and now this – a rice salad with miso vinaigrette. Vinaigrette! Miso, where have you been all my life?! It is extra-salty, but nutty in a way, too. Decadent, but pretty healthy since it’s really just fermented soybeans, usually. Umami for sure comes to mind. And just plain freakin’ awesome.

Don’t be like me – don’t read about this great-sounding miso-laden recipe and turn the other cheek. You’ll regret it 5 years later when you finally do come around. Live for now, and get thee to the Asian aisle of your grocery store and get this.

Wild Rice Salad w/ Miso Dressing
Adapted from Sprouted Kitchen; serves 4

printable version

time commitment: 1 hour (for cooking rice, which can be done in advance. if so, time commitment drops to 20 minutes or less.)

this is a great, versatile recipe that can be served warm or cold. I’m so into miso dressing lately that I made this again since I had all of the ingredients on hand except the carrots, which is used in the original recipe instead of butternut squash. Feel free to use either one – if you do choose the carrots (1-2 cups, sliced), you can skip the sauté part and throw the carrots in with the edamame after the tofu is sautéed, just to heat them up a little and take away some of the hard crunch of the fresh carrot. Also, I threw in the arugula to “bulk up” the salad a little and make this dish stretch to four servings instead of 3.

ingredients
salad
1/2 c wild rice
14 oz. block extra firm tofu
2 t coconut oil
1 small butternut squash, cut into 1″ pieces
2 t soy sauce
fresh ground pepper
3/4 c cooked, shelled, edamame
1 large handful of baby arugula
3 T toasted sesame seeds
chopped cilantro, for garnish

dressing
2 T white (shiro) miso
2 T agave nectar
1 T sesame oil
2 1/2 T rice vinegar
1 shallot, minced
Juice of half an Orange

instructions
Rinse the wild rice. Bring two cups water to a boil. Add the rice, turn the heat to a simmer, cover and cook until all the water is absorbed (about 35-40 minutes), adding a bit more water if necessary to finish cooking. You will see a tuft of white pop from the center of the rice.

Meanwhile, drain the tofu of excess water. I like to wrap it in a dish towel and sit something really heavy on top of it for about 10 minutes. Cut it into a 1” dice. Heat the coconut oil over medium high heat – a cast iron skillet would work great, but any skillet will do. Add the butternut squash and sauté for about 7 minutes, then add the tofu and saute for about five minutes. Sprinkle the soy sauce and a few grinds of fresh pepper over the top and saute another few minutes until the edges are browned, adding the edamame at this point as well. Turn off heat and set aside, letting cool as much as possible.

To make the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Then, in a large bowl, combine the rice, tofu, squash, and edamame. Toss everything with the dressing. Add the arugula, sesame seeds, and cilantro and give it another toss. Serve room temperature or chilled.

Feelin’ Lucky

I’ve never been a superstitious person. I like black cats (except my mom’s), and I far from freak out when they cross my path. I walked under a ladder tonight and didn’t think twice about it, but maybe that was because we were being handy and using our newly procured drill – I was overcome with excitement. I’ve broken a couple of mirrors in my lifetime, and most certainly have not had 7 years of bad luck.

In fact, there have been quite a few good years. Luck or not, I specifically think 2010 has been a pretty good one.

Speaking of luck, I’ve never been a big fan of black eyed peas. Word on the street, at least down South, is that a black eye pea-containing dish on New Year’s day will bring good luck for the rest of the year. My mom was (probably still is) an annual cowpea eater; the plastic bag of dried peas sat in the door of our fridge, opened but half-full, for months. I never ate them – for whatever reason, a saucepan of peas never looked, or smelled, appealing to me.

But this year, I figured what the hell. I came across a recipe that sparked my interest, and rather than making the dish at the end of November, I decided I may as well make it at the end of December, and eat the leftovers New Year’s Day. I mean, I’m not superstitious or anything, but still – may as well eat them on the “right” day, no?!

Meanwhile, I plan to open a few umbrellas indoors, step on a couple of cracks, spill some salt (but not in someone’s shoes), and maybe even go to sleep with my hair wet.

Despite all of those things, I have a good feeling about 2011. It’s gonna be somethin’, that’s for sure. So stay tuned ;).

Hoppin’ John (or Skippin’ Jenny, depending on when you eat it)
loosely adapted from Cooking Light, December 2010; serves 8

time commitment: 1.5 hours (30 minutes active time), plus soaking the beans overnight

i added a little more liquid than was needed, and my hoppin’ john was a little, er, soupy, but i actually liked it. however, once the liquid disappeared, I have to say it was better without, so i’ve adjusted below to reflect that. i also upped the spiciness a little (ok, a lot) and tossed in some butternut squash, because I had some. feel free to leave it out if you want.

printable version

ingredients
1 1/2  c dried black-eyed peas
2  t olive oil
1/2 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 small poblano pepper, diced
3  garlic cloves, minced
1  serrano pepper, minced
1/2  t smoked paprika
1/2  t ground cumin
2 1/2  c reduced sodium chicken/turkey broth
3/4 t dried thyme
1/2  t freshly ground black pepper
1/4  t salt
2 T hot pepper sauce (Frank’s), plus more at end to taste
6  oz (~2 links) andouille sausage, cut into thin slices
1  (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1  bay leaf
2 c butternut squash, cut into 1/2″ cubes, optional
1 c uncooked long-grain  brown rice
1/4  c thinly sliced green onions

instructions
Wash black eyed peas, tossing peas that appear discolored; place in a large bowl. Cover with water to 2 inches above peas; soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 4 ingredients (through serrano); sauté 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in smoked paprika and cumin; saute 1 minute. Add peas, broth, and next 7 ingredients (through bay leaf), stirring to combine. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until peas are tender. Toss butternut squash, if using, into pot at the end, for about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf.

Meanwhile, make rice according to package instructions. Fluff rice with a fork, and stir into pea mixture. Top with green onions and more hot sauce, if desired.