Perfect Sunday Morning Chia Pudding

It feels like just yesterday I was racing against the clock in culinary school during our flourless and frozen desserts unit to get this ready along with chocolate almond pastry cream and ninety other things, sneaking laughs of desperateness as Holly, my culinary school BFF, pulled off the same feat of boiling her homemade almond milk and getting her batch ready for “presentation” (that’s culinary school fancy speak for everybody grabs a spoon and eats too much while the chef critiques it all). Now, here I am, swirling up a tupperware’s full alone on a Sunday morning. A little less hectic, for sure, but somehow not quite as comforting. And isn’t that what Sunday’s are all about? A cup of green tea and the Sunday New York Times Magazine didn’t quite make up for that lack of comfort (missing Holly), but gave me that soothing element I craved.

1/4 cup chia seeds + 2 cups (ish) almond milk + teaspoon cinnamon + teaspoon vanilla extract + lots of orange zest + 2 tablespoons maple syrup + whatever you need to taste (dark chocolate shavings are quite good, always; I topped mine with pomegranate seeds that looked better than they tasted and fresh berries) = lazy breakfst/dessert perfection.

Seal in a container and shake it up every twenty minutes or so (or whenever you remember) until mixture becomes gelatinous (give it at least two hours in your fridge).
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Broats with Olive Oil

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Broats? You ask? Short for broccoli rabe oats. Thought it had a nice ring to it. You see, when it comes to food, I’m about as unpicky as you get. And yet, the one thing I really can’t be convinced to eat is oatmeal. Bland and blah, you’d think it’d be pretty inoffensive. But like a vegan at Peter Luger’s, it’s just not my thing.

Until…enter broccoli rabe. Peppery and slightly bitter, I stirred my leftover  broccoli rabe pesto into a packet of oatmeal and added a drizzle of olive oil and a generous crank of pepper. Suddenly, I became an oatmeal convert. And unlike everything else in my edible life, it didn’t even take crusty french bread and a bloody mary to convince me.

The Secret Guacamole Ingredient Everyone Must Try

True life: I’m a guacamole addict. But there are worse things to be addicted to? Right? Right.

Lately, my I’ve gravitated towards a less is more cooking policy, and the easy guacamole pictured here only requires a handful of ingredients: Really ripe avocados, tomatoes, garlic, red onion and lime juice. (Oh and extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper but I’m hoping if you’re reading this, that’s a pantry staple for you). And behold, my back-pocket weapon: Grapes! They add a perfect fruity twist, without being overly sweet and if you squeeze a bit of the juice into the guac, it proves a nice complement for the tangy lime juice, blah blah blah…

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Here’s How You Make 5-Ingredient Guacamole That Isn’t Boring

So many reasons to love this perfect, chunky spread that happens to be naturally vegan. We all know it’s so blah blah blah healthy your gut microbiota does a happy dance, but it also happens to be the most delicious thing to meet sliced bread on a hot summer’s day that I can think of.

Recently, I’ve been recipe testing up a guacamole storm (In fact, I’ve got so much in my fridge, I’ve started using it on pasta in lieu of tomato sauce. Pretty tasty, who knew?) for Camp Sunshine, where I’ll be volunteering later this summer. I’m looking forward to cranking out a classic rendition of it in August with the kids, but a household lime-and-red-tomato shortage (the horror!) led me to stumble upon this fun riff on the classic.

Couldn’t be easier. Here goes:

Kumato-Basil Lemon Guacamole
2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato* tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
We are not counting salt and pepper as ingredients because that will ruin the 5-ingredient wonder, but you can add these

*Pictured below, Kumato tomatoes are mildly sweet, crisp and juicy brown-red-green-purpley tomatoes that are worth checking out.FullSizeRender (7)

1. Scoop out avocados into bowl and combine with tomato, basil, olive oil and lemon juice. Mash with fork to desired consistency Add sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. A flip of cayenne pepper for heat. Serve immediately or store in fridge and squeeze lemon over it every few hours to keep from oxidizing. Or if you forget to do that, squeeze with lemon before serving and hope it de-browns.

 

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Meanwhile, like in life, one good thing leads to another (or an occasional bad decision) and four avocados later, I arrived at another hit.

 

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Behold:  Spicy Caper-Spiked Kumato-Basil Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 Kumato tomato, small dice
A handful of washed, fresh basil leaves, stems removed and torn or chiffonaded (if you’re feeling fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
The juice from one medium-sized lemon, or to taste
Cayenne and paprika, to taste (I used a dash of each)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Splash Balsamic vinegar (optional)

1. Follow the same directions as above but with this set of ingredients. I’m pretty sure you know how to make guacamole. This rendition works particularly well spread on toast or, if you’re note feeling vegan, spread out as a bed for a plan of grilled salmon.

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This is What a Snack Looks Like When You’re in Culinary School

 

vegan spring snack
vegan spring snack

…Because it’s impossible to not feel guilty if you just want a goddamn handful of pretzels. Oh well, the red chile  pepper flake-studded focaccia with avocado, snow peas, pickled radishes, asparagus, frisee, cherry tomatoes and various other leftovers salvaged from Friday Night Dinner at school (ditto for the pretty tulips) only took me twenty-five minutes to put together. And yes, I may have just eaten that entire pecan-crusted berry tart. But hey, agar is a sea vegetable so it’s good for you…am I right? 😉

vegan spring snack
vegan spring snack

Swirl This Surprising Ingredient Into Butternut Squash

Apparently, I’m on a mashed non-potatoes kick.

When I found some organic butternut squash in my freezer, I went to work. And by work, I mean, boiled water, dumped the squash in, put a lid on it, waited five minutes, and then strained out the water and added the squash to a bowl and mashed it with my fork.

So what’s this magical go-to? Mild yellow miso paste. Just a dollop, but this umami-rich paste complements the natural sweetness of the squash. while lending a palate-popping savoriness. With a sprinkle of smoked paprika, this three ingredient lunch is as simple as it is gobble-worthy. I’m totally not on my third bowl. Totally.