Quick & Easy: Roasted Asparagus & Hummus Gyros

Quick & Easy: Roasted Asparagus & Hummus Gyros

vegetarian asparagus & hummus gyros.png

More and more these days, Matt and I find ourselves playing the fridge-clean-out-game when deciding what to do for dinner. We do about one main grocery shop per week at which point we buy tons of produce, a little bit of meat or poultry for matt and restock our grains, beans and dairy arsenal. I may plan for a couple specific meals, but other than that, dinners are improvisational. The benefits? Playing the clean-out-game a few nights a week minimizes waste, saves money, avoids getting takeout, and it’s actually a pretty fun game. The hard part? Knowing what to have on hand to be able to successfully improv a delicious, balanced and satisfying meal. There’s no exact formula for this, and it really depends on your diet and food preferences. In any case, I’ve come up with a vegetarian-friendly list of staple categories to stock up on, and a few of my fave examples of each…

lettuce/dark leafy greens – hearts of romaine, lacinato kale, arugala
citrus – lemons, limes, blood oranges
flavor boosters – garlic, red onions, yellow onions, jalapenos, avocados
other produce – broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, red bell peppers, eggplant, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, apples, grapes etc.
whole grains (uncooked) – short grain brown rice, quinoa, lentils
breads/pasta – whole wheat penne pasta, whole wheat pita/flatbread
dairy – cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, grass-fed plain yogurt, whole milk
canned foods (organic only) – black beans, chickpeas, lentils, diced tomatoes, coconut milk
oils – olive, organic canola, virgin coconut, toasted sesame
vinegars – red wine, champagne, apple cider
pantry/fridge staples – sea salt, hot sauce, tamari, tahini, dijon mustard, yellow miso, ketchup, raw cashews, maple syrup, agave, all purpose flour, corn meal, yeast
herbs/spices (dried) – black pepper, oregano, dill, parsley, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, coriander, cardamon, cinnamon

IMG_7789.jpg
So now let’s put this list to work. A perfect example of an amazing fridge-clean-out meal using my handy-dandy staples list? You got it – these healthy and delicious Asparagus & Hummus Gyros. I threw these wraps together without much effort, and, you guessed it, each item I used is on my staples list. I made hummus from canned chickpeas, garlic, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and salt. I did a simple roast of the asparagus spears, which I had purchased without a purpose. To make it a balanced and substantial meal, I added shredded romaine, leftover minced red onion and a stupid-easy dill-yogurt sauce that utilized the last 1/3 cup of yogurt left from my family-size tub. Then I wrapped it all up in basic pita flatbreads. So yummy and so easy. This dinner ended up taking less than 30 minutes to prepare, and Matt and I were both blown away by how tasty it was. Balance it out with some crispy red grapes or apple slices and you’ve got yourself a full meal.

Anyway, I’d love to know your go-to tips and tricks for stocking the pantry and playing the kitchen improv game. Or, even better, any successful improvs you’d like to share. Let’s hear it!

IMG_7782.jpg
Roasted Asparagus & Hummus Gyros with Dill-Yogurt Sauce

Servings: 4    Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients

for roasted asparagus
16 asparagus spears, trimmed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
for hummus (you could also use 1 cup store-bought hummus)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup water (+ more for texture)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
hot sauce, to taste (optional)
for dill-yogurt sauce
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
for assembly
1 romaine heart, shredded and washed
1/2 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 flatbreads or pitas

To Make

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).

Toss trimmed asparagus spears with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Roast in oven for about 20 minutes, checking spears and flipping them every 5-10 minutes. When finished, the tips of the spears should be brown and the flesh a rich olive green.

Combine all hummus ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth, adding more water if needed, a tablespoon or 2 at a time. Transfer to bowl, season to taste. I use 3 dashes hot sauce and an extra tablespoon or 2 of water.

In a small bowl, stir together yogurt-dill sauce ingredients. Season with salt and lemon juice, to taste.

Prep veggies. Warm pitas, if desired, in microwave (wrapped in a clean towel) or in the oven, wrapped in aluminum foil.

When all components are complete, build the gyros. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of hummus across each pita. Top with 4 asparagus spears, shredded lettuce, chopped onions and about 2 tablespoons dill-yogurt sauce.

 

Vegan Falafel Pitas with Roasted Beets, Pickled Onions & Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Vegan Falafel Pitas with Roasted Beets, Pickled Onions & Lemon-Tahini Sauce

Vegan Falafel Pitas.png

Hi, friends! And happy March!

I don’t know about you, but this warm winter weather is rubbing me the wrong way. It feels totally gross to be outside in New York in February without a jacket. While most seem to be loving it, I’m not loving it at all. It’s too unnatural for me. So, I’m heading to Florida, where I can actually enjoy the sun and warmth without thinking about this far-out idea called “climate change.”

dsc_0119
Ok ok, that’s not why I’m on a plane to Florida right now. I’m actually meeting my mom for a long weekend, just the two of us. I cannot wait for these five days of fun-in-the-sun with mama, and this trip couldn’t come at a better time either. As of this week, I am officially finished with culinary school, including my 100-hour internship. Soon ow it’s time to figure out my life and my future career, and to start making some serious moves. Oh gawd. I think a mini-vacation to both celebrate and recharge is exactly what I need.

dsc_0112

Due to lack of routine, blogging my recipes has been inconsistent at best. But honestly, I think part of this inconsistency is due to not knowing what to say, or not yet being brace enough to admit that I’m on an emotional roller coaster. I mean, I’m at a totally transitional place in my life and writing about it forces me to think about and confront this fact. It makes perfect sense that this avoidance is an indication of my fear of the unknown and my lack of control at this point in time, and I would feel ingenuous if I were to write a post without mentioning the most important events and emotions taking place in my life right now.

dsc_0130

But at last I realized that if I wanted to share this deliciously awesome falafel sandwich with roasted beets and quick pickled onions, and get on with my life, then I have no choice but to swallow my pride and own up to my feelings. So yes, I feel scared that I won’t live up to my expectations, pressured to start making it happen immediately, and nervous that I’ll make a wrong move or won’t find what I’m looking for. Phew! I must say, I feel better.

dsc_0154
Now that I got that out of the way, I can get to the star of today’s post. This falafel sandwich has been on my blogging to-do list for a couple weeks now. Falafel sandwiches, and falafel in general, are a serious comfort food for me. Just like pizza and burritos, a falafel sandwich is a flavorful and satisfying dish that never fails to make me happy. This falafel sandwich is also homemade with clean and wholesome ingredients, making it a healthy and nourishing meal where fresh flat bread encases my baked falafel patties, sweet roasted beets, tangy pickled onions and a creamy tahini sauce. From the layer of flavors and textures, to the bounty of nutrients, fiber and protein, there’s just so much to love. If you don’t consider falafel a comfort food now, maybe you will when you give this recipe a shot.

dsc_0139

[scene change]

I made it to Florida!

I’m exhausted and totally high on ocean breeze, so I guess I should call it a night and get this recipe for falafel-awesomeness posted already, right? Right.

Loaded Falafel Pita Sandwiches
Serves: 4     Start to Finish: 1.5 hours

Ingredients

For Roasted Beets
2 beets, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain

For Pickled Red Onion
1/3 cup water, room temp or slightly warmer
2 teaspoons agave (or other sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced

For Falafel
1 cup dry garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), soaked overnight or up to 24-hours
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (+ more for pan frying)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, fine grain
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 tbs tightly packed parsley leaves, chopped

For Lemon-Tahini Sauce
1/3 cup tahini
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

For Sandwich Assembly
4 pitas, store-bought or homemade (I used Half Baked Harvest’s recipe)
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce

To Make

Make roasted beets. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss peeled beets with oil and salt. Spread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast until super tender (poke with a knife, no resistance), 45-65 minutes.

Make pickled red onions. In a glass jar (large enough to hold 16 ounces), combine water, agave and salt. Stir or shake (lid on), until salt is dissolved. Add vinegar and mix once more.  Add onion slices to jar with liquid and push down until all onions are submerged. If they are not all submerged, they will wilt down a bit, simply toss onions periodically until they are fully submerged. Allow onions to sit refrigerated for at least 45 minutes.

Make falafel patties. Drain and rinse soaked beans. Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until a smooth mixture is formed (it should still have a visibly grainy texture). Form the batter into 12 patties. The batter will be very wet, but should still form into patties easily.

On a griddle pan or in a frying pan (cast iron recommended), heat a thin layer of olive oil over medium-low heat. Fry patties for 5 minutes per side, or until golden and crisp. Cook patties in batches if needed, replacing oil between batches. Finish by cooking patties in the oven for 10 minutes at 375 degrees, covered in foil.

Make lemon-tahini sauce. Mix together all sauce ingredients until smooth and creamy.

When all components are finished, make sandwiches. Into each pita, wrap 3 falafel patties, 1/4 of the roasted beets, a thin layer of pickled onions, a bit of lettuce and 2-3 tablespoons sauce.