From Scratch / Vegetable Broth

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Today I have something incredibly thrilling for you…vegetable broth made from scratch from scraps. It’s the simple things that get me going. Listen, it’s hard (not impossible) to compost in the city in the Winter. Make the most of what you’ve got by cooking from root to stalk.

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Every time I chop, dice, or julienne, I resist the urge to toss the tops, bottoms, and peels. Instead I keep them to make vegetable stock, the base of all delicious winter soups. There are two schools of thought on this one : freezer fanatics and fridge aficionados. Freezing will definitely allow you to wait longer to make the broth, but will take some of the flavor out of your water rich vegetables (I am looking at you celery). Storing in the fridge with a damp towel in the bag will keep your vegetables viable for up to a week.

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Once you’ve gathered all your bits and pieces, slowly cook them with water, vegetables on the verge of going bad, herbs, spices, salt, miso, mushrooms, seaweed, etc. It’s a slow process so keep tasting and tweaking until you feel like this liquid could be the beginning of a beautiful dish.

Ingredients: 

  • Saved scraps of vegetables from your masterful meals
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Miso is a nice addition
  • Any vegetables on the verge of going bad
  • Mushrooms are always a good idea
  • Nori or dried sea vegetables add a nice mouthfeelIMG_3311

Directions:

  1. As you make your dishes throughout the week, cut scraps down into 2 inch or smaller pieces. The smaller the cut of the vegetable the more flavor you’ll be able to extract. Don’t go too small or else you won’t be able to strain it out as easily. Keep these stored in a freezer-safe ziploc bag in the freezer or in the fridge with a moist paper towel.
  2. Pick a day when you’re going to be around the house for a couple of hours. Survey the fridge for any vegetables about to go bad. Cut them up and add them to bag.
  3. Heat two tablespoons olive oil, sesame oil, or high quality grapeseed oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or a stock pot. Add the veggies and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Fill the pot with filtered water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Leave the lid off to let the liquid reduce half way. This could take anywhere between 2-4 hours. The more you let it reduce the more flavorful the stock will be. Check in and stir every so often.
  5. Drain the stock through a colander and divide into different freezer safe containers. If you’ve reduced the stock enough, you can freeze it in ice cube trays. This dense of a stock can be rehydrated with water. I usually store half the stock in the fridge and half in the freezer.

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And there you have it. I just wrote 485 words on broth.

Recipe / Braised Kale + Roasted Chickpeas

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Rich, creamy braised greens and tahini meet their perfect partner with crunchy, smoky roasted chickpeas. I’ve been totally crushing on chickpeas this month. Some evenings i’ll casually leave a cup of dried garbanzos soaking. Some mornings I just wake up, open a can and see what happens next. It’s just me and you,  fiber-rich, protein-packed little legumes. What will this day bring us? (hint: better blood sugar regulation and lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol)

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It’s definitely been a good year for kale and at the brink of over-exposure, it still rules as one of the most versatile and reliable greens. It’s hearty enough to be the star of the entrée and healthy enough to play a supporting role. Keep greens interesting by switching up your cooking technique and finding inspiration from classic flavor pairings. Tahini and chickpeas (humus anyone?) are old friends, a great place to start a beautiful dish.

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Think about braising as a day at the spa for your favorite superfood. At the end of the day, your kale will still be vibrant green, relaxed, and ready to give you all it has to offer. Relying on heat and moisture, braising is the middle ground between sautéeing and steaming. Be careful not to overcook your greens, too much heat for too long and you’ll lose nutrients and end up a with lifeless mushy mess.

Ingredients / you might already have these on hand

2 bunches of kale – 1 lacinato and 1 tuscan

1 yellow onion

5 cloves of garlic

juice of 1 lemon (no more than 3 tbsp)

1/4 cup tahini

1 can or 2 cups cooked organic chickpeas

1 tbsp smoked paprika, pimenton la vera

1 tsp cumin

3 tbsp olive oil or high quality grapeseed oil

 

Directions : Easy as 1-2-3-4

Part One : Roasting the Chickpeas

1. Preheat oven to 400 F

2. Drain and rinse one 16 oz can of organic chickpeas. Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp pimenton de la vera (a smoky spanish paprika), 1 tsp cumin. Thoroughly coat the chickpeas adding more pimenton if necessary.

3. Line a cookie sheet with parchment and roast chickpeas for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  They should be crunchy but not blackened.

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Part Two: Braising the Kale

1.  Wash and de-stem kale. Hold the base of the kale stem and run your fingers along the spine to easily remove leaves. Lay leaves flat and chop. I used a bunch of lacinato kale and a bunch of curly kale to create a more dynamic flavor and consistency.

2. Dice onions and thinly slice garlic.

3. In a cast iron skillet or a dutch oven, warm olive oil or high quality grapeseed oil. Add in onions and garlic. Sweat out until translucent, about one minute.

4. Add in kale. Sautée for a minute or two allowing all of the leaves to get contact with the heat momentarily. You might have to do this in increments if your pot is not very large. Season with salt, pepper or red chili flakes.

5. Add in vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer immediately.  Cover and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

6. Remove lid and let any remaining liquid steam off. About 3 minutes.

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Part 3 : Making the Dressing

1. Combine lemon juice and tahini. There should be slightly more tahini than lemon juice or else it taste too acidic. Experiment, taste, and trust your palate to create the perfect balance. 

2. Whisk together until creamy. You might need to add a little water or sesame oil to get it to your ideal consistency. Finish with a few turns of  a salt mill.

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Part 4 : Creating the Dish 

1. Toss braised kale with spoonfuls of dressing. Combine well and add in more until desired creaminess is reached.

3. Serve in individual bowls topped with crunchy chickpeas. Don’t toss the chickpeas with the kale too much, you want to keep their crunchiness. Creamy and crunchy together at last.

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