Meatless Monday: Curried Cauliflower Soup

Something about cold weather makes it so hard to get out of bed in the morning.

I mean, the obvious conclusion is that no one wants to leave the comfort of a warm, cozy bed for the cold, harsh world. We don’t usually run the heater at night (because we’re cheap :-P)…we’ve had a warm rainy spell here, so last night it was 68 when I went to sleep and 58 when I woke up. My roomie wasn’t as lucky this weekend though:

Anyway, that feeling of not wanting to get out of bed in the morning is only intensified on Monday mornings, I think. There’s just something in the air that makes Monday mornings suck. Come to think of it, I”m not particularly fond of Sundays either. Especially when you drink a whole bottle of red wine on Saturday night at a Christmas party with a puppy in a tuxedo and spend most of Sunday hungover in bed watching Suits and catching up on Homeland…but I wouldn’t know anything about that. (OMG HOMELAND THE FINALE WAS EPIC. I love me a good “WTF” moment! And Saul. Saul is my fave.)

Because it’s been getting so cold (last week was mostly in the mid-high 40’s…pretty cold by California standards!), I’ve had soup on the mind. And not just any soup…a soup with some spice. Curry it is!

IMG_6213

I know, I know. This soup is pale yellow…Hardly appetizing. But hear me out!

I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes using cauliflower in place of potato in recipes, or cauliflower puree instead of cream to make a creamy soup….and it’s pretty intriguing. Jen from The Scrumptious Pumpkin has particularly been fueling my cauliflower intrigue with her Skinny Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Healthier Potatoes au Gratin. Stay posted – I will inevitably lure my boyfriend into eating cauliflower while telling him it’s potatoes sometime soon. But until then, we have straight up cauliflower soup!

This soup is warm (cause it’s soup and that’s how you’re supposed to serve it), hot (cause it’s got Indian spices in it), and perfectly hits the spot. One head of cauliflower only made enough for two servings, but if you only have one head of cauliflower and want this soup to produce more than two meals, you can add a cup or two of peeled and diced potatoes to the pot when you’re steaming the cauliflower. The result, because potatoes are super starchy, will produce a thicker soup!

However, the cauliflower alone is just as good. Especially if you’ve got some “naan” to dip in it. I just charred some tortillas and called it naan…I know they aren’t the same…just humor me here and tell me in looks like naan.

IMG_6215

Curried Cauliflower Soup
makes 2 large bowls of soup

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower (I’d guess this was about 3-4 cups of florets)
1/2 of a large white or yellow onion
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger, minced
1/2 tsp curry powder or garam masala
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch of cayenne pepper (Optional. Garam masala already has a bit of a kick)
oil, for sauteing onions and spices

1-2 pieces of naan, flatbread or tortilla, for serving

Notes: I used lite coconut milk, but full fat would work fine. Curry powder and turmeric will give the soup a yellowish hue…if that weirds you out (haha), you can leave the turmeric out. But don’t cut the curry or garam masala!

Begin by breaking down the head of cauliflower. Chop off as much of the stems as you can, but don’t worry about breaking down the pieces too small. Steam or boil the florets for about 15-20 minutes, until fork tender. Alternatively, you could also toss the cauliflower in oil and roast them…this would probably taste better, but it would also take longer.

While florets are steaming. slice onion into long strips. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Make sure the pot is large, you will be adding in all the cauliflower later. Then, add onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring frequently for a minute or two. Next, add spices and stir to coat everything. Let toast for about 5 minutes. It may seem to be burning…if you’re worried it actually is, turn down the heat to low.

After 5 minutes, add in enough coconut milk to cover the bottom of the pot and use a spatula to deglaze the pot. Toss in the cooked cauliflower and the rest of the coconut milk. The liquid probably won’t cover the cauliflower at this point, so add water until it does (about a cup and a half, more for a thinner soup). Let all the soup ingredients simmer for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a food processor or blender. Blitz it to your desired consistency, then keep warm on the stove or serve immediately with fresh naan!

Meatless Monday: Pumpkin Curry

My original plan for this month was to show you all how to roast & puree a pumpkin, and then share a bunch of pumpkin recipes.

After pumpkin bread on Friday and pumpkin curry today…I’m totally going backwards.

Since I didn’t exactly think a Weekend in Photos post was appropriate (my weekend consisted of only 2 things: crying with family and roasting a bunch of pumpkins), I decided to put one of the roast pumpkins to immediate use for my next Meatless Monday installment.

Let me put all of this into perspective by saying I do not like pumpkin. I repeat, I (normally) do not like pumpkin. I always opted for chocolate cake pecan pie over pumpkin pie as a kid. Canned pumpkin just icks me out. Apparently, all that changes when you make your own pumpkin puree…It gives it just a hint of pumpkin flavor, and lets all the other typical pumpkin pie spices (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, etc) shine through. But more on pumpkin puree later.

A little over a year ago, my mom found a recipe for pumpkin curry that was probably the best curry I ever had. OK, so it was the best curry made by a white person I’ve ever had. So I set out this weekend to recreate it. Unfortunately, my parents didn’t have any coconut milk in their pantry, so I improvised:

Enter: the poor man’s (or 20-something who hasn’t gotten groceries in 2 weeks) curry base.

Hear me out. Cream of mushroom soup is a largely flavorless soup. It adds the same creaminess that coconut milk would, PLUS it takes on the flavor of whatever spices you add to it.

That being said, coconut milk would be fantastic in this recipe. But I didn’t have coconut milk, so this is what I used, and it was amaaazing all on its own. It is a very mild curry spice-wise, but it packs a ton of flavor.

Pumpkin Curry
feeds 4

1 1/4 cups prepared cream of mushroom soup
1 clove garlic, grated or finely minced
1 tsp ginger, grated or finely minced
1 can green chiles (4 oz can)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cumin seed
1 small pumpkin
1/2 small onion, diced
4-5 white mushrooms, diced
1 tomato, diced
oil, for sauteeing

Carve your pumpkin into 4 quarters and remove the seeds and insides. Put in oven at 400 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender. After it cools, remove the skins and any stringy insides that you may not have been able to remove earlier. Then, cut into cubes. For me, one small pumpkin produced a good 3-4 cups of cubes.

While the pumpkin is roasting, prepare cream of mushroom soup. This usually consists of adding a can of water or milk to a can of soup and heating on the stove. Measure out 1 1/4 cups of the soup and add to it the garlic, ginger, chiles, and all of the other spices except cumin seed. Stir well, notice how delicious it smells, and set aside. Also while pumpkin is roasting, prepare onion, mushrooms and tomatoes by dicing them.

Heat oil on a sautee pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds to pan and let toast for about 2 minutes. Then, add in onion and cook until translucent. Next, add in cubed pumpkin and mushrooms. Feel free to add more oil at this point if you need to.

Once the pumpkin has started to brown, add in the cream of mushroom mixture, stirring to coat. Add in diced tomatoes and let simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve over rice or grain of choice!

pumpkin and veggies riiight before their soup bath

Notes: You could roast the pumpkin for less time (just until it’s soft enough to cut easily), but it would mean a longer simmer time on the stove in the final step. Coconut milk can be subbed for the soup, and you can also sub your favorite veggies for mushrooms and tomato.

.

Also… blog announcement!

I finally decided on a domain name (which is difficult with an apparently super-common blog name) and purchased a domain this weekend! You are now visiting blondeambitionblog.net! Woo hoo!

Meatless Monday: Curry Chickpea Fritters

So, remember when the Wicked Witch of the West said she was melting?

I’m starting to see what she meant.

Except it’s misleading to say that you feel like you’re melting when it’s hot. Because I actually feel more like Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis in Beetlejuice, where they dry out and turn into skeletons and pretty much crumble to the ground.

Yeah…. That’s more like it.

So, it has been 100+ degrees for five days in a row now, and the end isn’t quite yet in sight. I don’t dare turn on my oven when it’s like this, since it’s been 90 degrees in my apartment and my oven is on steroids. I haven’t been grocery shopping in a while, so the only cold food I have to choose from at my place is fruit, veggies, hummus, chips and salsa…..I’m not complainin’, but you can see my options have been limited!

A few weeks ago, I tried a recipe for Curry Hummus. I really liked it, as did all our friends who were at the party I brought it to.

Inspired by my craving for cold veggies dipped in cold hummus, I decided yesterday to make something that might actually constitute a meal (haha), and I based it off that curry hummus. Enter: Curry Chickpea Fritters.

These puppies have a ton of flavor, but they’re a bit on the dense/dry side…with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream, they’re perfect!

Curry Chickpea Fritters
Makes 5 small patties
Loosely based on Edible Perspective’s Curry Hummus

2 cups garbanzo beans/chickpeas (if not already done, take the skins off the beans! It takes a few minutes, but is worth it to not have mouthfuls of bean skin in your fritters. Ew)
1.5 TBS tahini paste (almond butter would also work)
1 TBS honey
2 TBS finely diced red bell peppers
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
canola oil, for pan frying
plain greek yogurt or sour cream, for serving
{edit} I forgot to add originally that I also included about 1/4 cup finely grated zucchini.

Drain and rinse the beans, then peel their skins. Mash about 1/3 of the beans in a bowl with a fork, then add second 1/3 and continue mashing and mixing, followed by the last 1/3. I did it this way so that I would have some varied texture in my fritters.

Add the rest of ingredients and mix to combine. It all should stick together pretty easily. Roll into balls, flatten, and place in skillet with hot oil over medium-low heat. I recommend not using a high-heat oil like olive oil or coconut oil, as it will burn easily.

Cook 3 or so minutes on each side, then serve hot with a cool dipping sauce. I had some leftovers later and they’re also pretty delicious cold!

Meatless Monday: Veggie Curry

In college, Meatless Monday was a product of the hippies on campus who set up shop along the bike path with their wooden painted signs, or in the plaza with their info booth, or in the dining commons, with their…. Well, you get the picture. They were everywhere. Whether you agree with the method of hardcore MM fans, the concept is simple: cut meat out of your diet once a week to help the environment, animals, and your health.

For me post-college, Meatless Monday isn’t really a political practice as much as it is a way for me to practice my laziness and cheapness. Meat is expensive. Plus, I usually buy it in bulk and freeze it so it takes a long time to thaw and prepare. Plusssss, eating too much of it is unhealthy!

I’m also always on a mission to prove to my boyfriend that a meal can be filling and tasty even when it doesn’t involve a steak. So I present my first Meatless Monday recipe! (He loved this, btw)

Curry is much easier to make from scratch than most people think. It may not be super authentic, but your taste buds will love this simple dish. My favorite part was the addition of chopped green olives! The briny olives really complemented the spicy sauce. Enjoy!

Continue reading