I seem to be on a bit of a legume kick lately! First, I made lentil curry, which was soon followed by hummus, vegan chickpea “tuna” salad, and then chana masala. Today, though, it’s all about soybeans.
In traditional Japanese cuisine, beans are used very differently from in the west. In Canada and America we probably find them most often in things like chili, burritos or canned baked beans. But in Japan, beans are commonly used in sweets or in savory side dishes meant to accompany a bowl of rice, while soybeans in particular are used for making tofu, miso paste and natto.
Beans are also much pricier in Japan and are thought of as something of a delicacy to be enjoyed in small quantities, in contrast to the cheap image of beans that we have in North America. But on the other hand, the quality of the beans produced domestically in Japan is incredible. Each bean is often large, perfectly plump and bursting with flavor. I understand why they don’t choose to cover up the taste with garlic, spices and other heavily flavored ingredients!
In Japan, it is also not at all uncommon to buy precooked pouches of beans instead of the typical canned beans that I’m used to back home. I was recently gifted two such packs of soybeans so I decided to try my hand at making a Japanese-style side salad.
For this dish, I mixed together the following ingredients and let sit for a little bit before enjoying over a bowl of fresh rice.
one pouch of cooked soybeans (50 grams)
thinly sliced carrot
finely diced sweet Mayan onion
thinly sliced homemade pickled napa cabbage (optional, but adds a great crunch)
shichimi togarashi (a lightly aromatic Japanese mixture of spices, seeds and orange peel)
My newest love is romaine lettuce. Lately, I’ve just been buying a huge bag of about five heads of lettuce and using it in all kinds of different dishes. For breakfast, I put together this taco bowl.
I used romaine lettuce topped with a few scoops of homemade lentil curry, and sliced carrot marinated in soy sauce and kombu (it’s a Japanese thing). For some extra crunch, I sprinkled over some bhelpuri and perilla seeds.
Bhelpuri is a popular Indian snack made up of a spicy and delicious mixture of puffed rice, thin chickpea noodles, split lentils, and peanuts. Typically, it might be served over a little bowl of diced up potatoes, tomatoes, cilantro and onions, topped with some sweet and savory chutneys. But, here I just tossed it onto my salad which adds a fantastic spicy flavor to the veggies.
The perilla seeds I actually got from Japan. Over there, they are called egoma. These little guys are from part of the mint family (the same with chia seeds), and are very high in omega-3. In Japanese cuisine, they are roasted and often ground up to use as toppings for traditional sweets. So, this taco salad was definitely a crazy fusion of different food cultures, but whatever…it worked!
On other days, for breakfast I often just pile up on fruit. I can’t tell you how much I love the summer. So many amazing fresh fruits and veggies…and they’re finally affordable! Which is a good thing because it’s pretty much all I crave when the weather is hot like this. These two containers of mangoes and guava, I got for just $2! There was no way I could pass that up. If you’ve never tried a banana and guava smoothie, I highly recommend it. It’s life-changing.
I just cooked up a batch of aloo ghobi (potato and cauliflower Indian curry) and made them into an awesome pita wrap for dinner. I also added in chopped cilantro, homemade salsa, and a few jalapenos. For my veggies, I mixed in some four-bean salad with pickled slices of daikon (white radish) and carrot that I made the night before. This dish was definitely a crazy fusion of different food cultures, but somehow it all worked!
I bought some Romaine lettuce the other day wanting to make a Caesar salad (with homemade vegan dressing), but opted out of buying a bag of croutons after glancing at all the crazy chemical ingredients. Instead, I picked up some whole grain bread and tried making my own homemade croutons for the very first time!
I just sliced the bread into little cubes and toasted them in the contact grill. After they were completely crispy on all sides, I tossed them in a bag together with some scoops of dried rosemary, garlic powder, salt, and nutritional yeast. A lot of crouton recipes call for oil or butter, but I found that as long as I mixed everything together while the bread was still hot, the flavors stick to the croutons just fine. So simple, and really fun!
This is just a random song of praise for my favorite kind of salad =)
While I do love leafy green salads with kale, baby spinach, or Romaine lettuce, the type that really wins me over are the really solid salads with big pieces of chopped up cucumber, tomato, carrot, celery, beets, etc., with a generous handful of olives. Typically, I also love to bulk them up by mixing in a bit of pasta, rice, potatoes, extra firm tofu, or cashews. For a little extra flavour, I just mix up some random dressing usually containing some combination of whipped mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, tahini, or freshly ground sesame seeds, plus a sprinkling of fresh garden herbs (usually lemon thyme, basil, or garlic chives).
…Different each time, and always super satisfying and filling!
To go with my dinner, I often make Greek salads with baby cucumbers, grape tomatoes, black olives, and vegan feta cheese. There are some great recipes out there on how to make feta out of extra firm tofu marinated in brine with lemon juice and herbs, but sometimes I simply soak the tofu in olive juice. I find that this gives it that same feta-like flavour and saves a bit of time, too.
I happened to have some beets lying around, so I tried adding them into my salad this time. I also mixed the tofu feta in with a bit of beet juice, and it came out with this beautiful pink colour 🙂