Vegetarian Ramen Bowl

I…I just melted into a bowl full of noodles. Help? Actually, on second thought,

don’t.


I have eaten many, many a bowl of restaurant ramen in my 28 years of life. Thus far, I have only found one truly fantastic vegetarian ramen bowl and now that I live 341 miles away from it, I was forced into running multiple recipes up a flagpole at home. I lead a dull, miserable, and unsavory life, clearly. Oh, and shout out to Silverlake Ramen in Los Angeles— I miss you dearly.

Well, after much ado we have a winner winner, vegetarian dinner.

I cooked. I conquered. I was full.

And then I made it again. And again. And again.

When the weather is gray, wet, and just plain dismal…all I really need to get be back in the saddle is a bowl of steaming hot vegetables and noodles. I’m a simple gal, tbh.

In this particular bowl of soup, we start with the “dashi,” a deep savory Japanese broth and then mix in a couple different aromatics and fermented pastes. Soy sauce and soy milk are added to round out the flavors and the ramen gets finished off with a generous helping of chewy hot noodles, mushrooms, corn, bean sprouts, kimchi, and of course, that gooey soft boiled egg. —> Everything inside this bowl is 100% vegan besides the egg, so if that’s what you’re going for, simply omit it.

So what’s the big idea when it comes to fermented foods like broad bean paste, miso, and kimchi? I know you all have heard some hype, amiright? Fermented foods, just like probiotics, are incredible superfoods— they contribute to a healthy microbiome in which “good bacteria” break down food in the colon, providing beneficial byproducts for us which are vital components the immune system. Cold and flu, I’m looking at you. Research has demonstrated they may also help control inflammation in the digestive tract and soothe an overactive immune system.

Grab a spoon— soup’s ON.

Vegetarian Ramen Bowl

Makes: 2 servings

For the broth aka “dashi”:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 dried shiitake mushrooms*
  • 2” x 4” piece kombu (dried kelp)*

For the ramen soup bowl:

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1” piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced finely
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thinly
  • 4 teaspoons fermented broad bean paste or chili bean sauce*
  • 4 teaspoons miso*
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar*
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds + 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds*, toasted and ground finely into a powder (I toasted mine in a skillet for ~5 minutes, stirring constantly, and then ground them in a clean coffee grinder- you can also use a mortar and pestle or a super high speed blender or food processor)
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 cups plain unsweetened soy milk
  • 1 cup of the dashi broth (from recipe above)
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper*
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Ramen noodles (can also use gluten free wide rice noodles)*

Toppings:

  • Steamed corn
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Soft boiled eggs
  • Cilantro
  • Thai basil*
  • Mushrooms (I used shiitake and enoki*)
  • Kimchi
  • Green part of the scallions
  • Black and white sesame seeds
  • = You are sure to find these ingredients at your local Asian grocery

** = To soft boil an egg, bring a pot of water to a boil, gently lower in eggs, let them cook for 6 minutes exactly, then remove from pot and shock them in an ice cold water bowl until you’re ready to use them. They will be easy to peel but handle delicately so the yolk doesn’t break

  1. First you’re going to make your broth (aka dashi). Place the water in a saucepan and add the shiitake mushrooms and kombu. Let them soak for 30 minutes on the counter, then place on the stove. Start to bring the water to a slow boil, then remove the pot from the stove right before I turns into a rapid boil. Discard mushrooms and kombu- if you leave them in the water to soak, the broth will get too slimy. Set broth aside.
  2. Next, heat up that sesame oil in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add garlic, ginger, and white part of the sliced scallions and cook for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add fermented broad bean paste/chili bean sauce along with miso and cook for another minutes or so, stirring constantly so they don’t burn.
  3. Add the rice vinegar, stirring the bottom of the pot to release any bits that might be stuck to the bottom. The rice vinegar will help you release these flavorful bits more easily. Add in ground sesame seeds along with soy sauce and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Add in soy milk slowly, stirring constantly so the bean paste and miso is dissolved before all of the soy milk is added. Add 1 cup of your dashi broth, ground white pepper, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Turn down heat to low to let this “ramen soup” stay warm.
  5. Next, make your ramen noodles by boiling the noodles and draining. When done, divide noodles into two bowls and pour the finished warm ramen soup over them. Add suggested toppings and serve.

 

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Rosemary Shallot Reduction

Homemade gnocchi: looks deluxe, tastes fancy, and comes together faster than you can say “Oprah 2020”.

4 steps: just mix, roll, cut, and boil. Okay fine, 5– pop a bottle of Chianti as you groove.  If you think I’m pulling your leg, rest assured that I am not- it’s that easy peasy. I don’t lie when I speak of pasta and I also don’t really want to touch your leg.

What is gnocchi? These little squishy Italian dumplings make a hearty meal no matter what you toss ’em in. In fact, the reason you see those little ridges on them is because them grooves make it easier for these sweet babies to hold onto that sauce for dear life.

The proof is in the spoon ^

So what makes these gnocchi especially legit? Instead of regular potatoes, vitamin C and fiber rich sweet potatoes are the star of the show creating a bright, naturally dyed pasta dough that is infused with just the right amount of sweetness and tons of nutrients.

This dinner is unquestionably delicious without being overly rich. Crispy caramelized mushrooms take a dip in nutty browned butter and fragrant shallots, and then get swirled with sweet balsamic and infused with zesty rosemary. This bowl of puffy, pillowy sweet potato dumplings is concluded with a generous dusting of salty Parmesan cheese and piquant red pepper flakes.

Just remember: mix, roll, cut, boil, and POP. Because once ya’ pop, well, you know

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Rosemary Shallot Reduction

Makes: 3-4 servings

For the gnocchi:

  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cooked mashed sweet potato (from ~2 medium sweet potatoes)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups gluten-free flour (I like King Arthur GF multi purpose…can also use whole wheat flour) + more if needed

For the Rosemary Shallot Reduction:

  • 1/2 cup butter, dividied
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Red pepper flakes, for garnish
  • Fresh finely grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  1. Start by making the gnocchi! Mix ricotta, Parmesan cheese, mashed sweet potato, eggs, and salt in a medium-large bowl. Add in 3 cups of the flour and mix to form a sticky dough. Keep adding in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough begins to form a soft ball that you can roll out. You might need to use your hands for this part…
  2. Once you’ve got yourself a dough ball, turn it out onto a generously floured surface. Divide the ball into 4 smaller balls, and then divide each one of those in half so you have 8. Take each ball and rub in between the palms of your hands to form a 1/2” thick snake. Use your fingers to flatten out the snake and using a very sharp knife, cut into small squares (I sometimes like to dip my knife in hot water in between cuts to minimize dough sticking to the knife). Use a flat fork to gently push down on each piece, creating little ridges so all that sauce can stick to the gnocchi. Repeat this process with all 8 dough balls. When done, place all gnocchi pieces on a floured plate, cover, and let rest.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  4. Now, it’s time to make the reduction sauce! Grab a large skillet and add in 3 tablespoons of the butter, letting it melt and begin to foam a bit. Toss in the mushroom slices and sprinkle some salt and pepper over them but do not stir— let them cook and caramelize for about 5 minutes. Add remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and cook until it begins to “brown” and release a nutty, very fragrant aroma.
  5. Add in shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Sprinkle in the garlic, rosemary, and thyme and cook for 20 seconds. Then pour in balsamic vinegar and simmer until mushrooms are coated in the sauce and the sauce begins to thicken and “reduce.” Remove pan from heat.
  6. When your water is boiling, gently lower all the gnocchi into the pot and boil until the gnocchi floats. When the pieces begin to pop up, they’re done. Using a slotted spoon, remove them and place them into the pan with the brown butter reduction. Stir *very* gently and place the skillet back over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes more, allowing the gnocchi to crisp and become sufficiently coated in the sauce. When done, remove from heat, sprinkle with red pepper flakes, a bit more salt and pepper, and freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy!

Persimmon Upside Down Cake

Do you ever look at recipes and think, “Welp, guess I’m not making this…I don’t have this ingredient, I don’t have that ingredient, and I sure as hell don’t have *insert obscure dairy-free sugar-free vegan-free ingredient here*”

Hello. I am Chef Cory. And I am here to tell you that half the battle of being a great chef is improvising.

Now, mama didn’t raise no fool…you can’t just substitute a lemon when you need a pound of beef brisket…but simple swaps like using pumpkin seeds when the recipe calls for walnuts, subbing in Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, using applesauce instead of oil, and swapping eggnog for buttermilk can cut down the cost of the recipe you’re about to create, not to mention the number of times you have to cruise the aisles of Trader Joe’s pretending you remember where the Grade B maple syrup is.

Wait, did I just say eggnog instead of buttermilk?! You might be a tad bit confuzzled at this point- and that’s okay. I’m here to declare QUIT buying cartons of buttermilk when you only need a small amount for a recipe- you can make your own buttermilk! And you can even make it vegan! Alls yous hafta do is mix 1 tablespoon of an acid like lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar per 1 cup of whatever milk you want to use. In this case, all I had in my messy post-Thanksgiving-explosion-refrigerator was eggnog, and thus, eggnog buttermilk was born.

This “buttermilk” gives your recipe that tang that normal buttermilk predictably delivers, along with the boost in leavening (aka makes your baked goodie rise higher) and softening of your final product. Science, babies.

The result in this dazzling Persimmon Upside Down cake is a super soft texture and ultra flavorful crumb. The fresh ginger, a natural anti-inflammatory, gives it a little zing and the toasted pepitas (aka pumpkin seeds) give the cake a heartier quality and a whole lot of gut-scrubbing fiber. Did I mention those persimmons? How have I never baked with these delicious orange gems before?! They’re definitely the “apple” of the winter and their ever-so-sweet dreamy taste and creamy-when-cooked texture lends itself beautifully to the heavy spice inside this winter cake. Plus, persimmons are rich in antioxidants as well as vitamin A, C, and E. WINNING.

When your fam is starting to plan what y’all are gonna feast on for whatever holiday it is you’re celebrating, look no farther than delighting them with this gorgeous, delicious, and perfect-for-cold-weather dessert. I won’t lie, it makes a fantastic breakfast with a mug of coffee, as well 😉 See below….

Psssst- This recipe is refined-sugar free and can easily be made gluten free by using all-purpose GF flour in place of the regular flour.

Persimmon Upside Down Cake

Makes: 1 cake

  • 2/3 cups eggnog (or any other type of milk)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (can also use white vinegar)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose, gluten free, or whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 8 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 cup 100% pure maple syrup + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup toasted pepitas/pumpkin seeds (can bake at 350 for 10-12 mins to toast)
  • 1/4″ knob of ginger, peeled and minced finely
  • 4 ripe fuyu persimmons, green tops removed and sliced very thinly into rounds
  1. First, you’re going to make “eggnog buttermilk”- combine the eggnog (or whatever milk you’re using) and lemon juice (or vinegar) in a small bowl and let sit until slightly curdled (about 5-7 minutes). While this is going, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Next, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, sea salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
  3. In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, cream together 6 tablespoons of the butter (leaving the other 2 out) and 1 cup of the maple syrup until thoroughly mixed (about 2 minutes). Scrape the bowl, then add in the egg and egg yolk and beat another 2 minutes.
  4. Add in half of the flour, beat 10 seconds, then add in the “buttermilk”, beat another 10 seconds. Pour in remaining flour and beat another 30 seconds until totally mixed. You may have to scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times. Fold in the toasted pepitas and ginger with a spatula.
  5. Next, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup until just melted but not bubbling/boiling (can also use at a minimum, a 10″ cake pan if you don’t have a cast iron…in this case heat a separate skillet over medium and melt butter/maple syrup then scrape into whatever cake pan you’re using). Let cool a minute or so, then carefully arrange persimmon rounds over the mixture, beginning by placing one in the middle, then layering in outward-moving concentric circles…overlapping is chill so long as you’re covering the whole bottom of the pan!
  6. Pour batter over persimmon slices and bake for 40-50 minutes, checking cake at 40 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when a toothpick comes out clean when poked into the center and the cake looks golden brown. Let cool for at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour (if you can wait that long….) Then, using a butter knife, scrape along all the edges of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert the upside down cake using a large plate (larger than the pan you used). Serve!

Purple Sweet Potato Curry Soup

Confession time: I passed my RD exam and as of Monday at 3pm and am officially a Registered Dietitian!

The test itself was a doozy- full of very subjective “pick the best answer” type of questions. I can learn facts and formulas, and I have a hefty repertoire of critical thinking skills but when it came to this test, my own current profession as a food service manager and even my past personal experience interning as a clinical RD at Kaiser led me to choose answers I believed to be true. The majority of the time, they weren’t.

To give you an example, one question during an Academy’s practice test asked “how do you cook cabbage?” The answer choices were all over the board but the “correct answer” was to cook it in a large amount of water. I was so frustrated- I cook cabbage at work in a million different ways; sure sometimes I braise it, but sometimes I grill the leaves or sometimes I don’t even cook it at all. I would say the majority of the time, I shred cabbage and then pan fry it. SO, basically, I had to chuck my own knowledge out the window and start over from scratch. It wasn’t about any of the skills and insight I had painstakingly collected getting my degree, I simply had to learn how to take this test. So, that’s what I did.

To say I studied hard to relearn “new” material *emphasis on the quotation marks* is an understatement- I dedicated almost every ounce of my free time studying.

The morning of the test I had a little avocado toast and a lot of coffee. I showed up looking cool as a cucumber despite the fact that on the inside everything was on fire and my brain was a bucket full of gooey mush- it probably looked like a side of guac in there.

I sat down: here we go, 125-145 multiple choice questions depending on how well I do…the test will shut off at question 125 if I pass with flying colors. I started off pretty confidently; I actually knew about the first 10 questions automatically as they were mostly factual. But by question 35 my confidence was plummeting and my perspiration escalating and to make matters worse, the person next to me was clearly taking a different exam and clobbering the keyboard so loudly I couldn’t focus. I raised my hand and an angel that was the test proctor brought me a pair of headphones. I’m actually not sure if that was a help or hindrance because from that point on, all I could hear was the loud THUMP of my own heartbeat as it raced faster and faster.

By question 78, I realized I was actually running out of time- I only had 45 minutes left! My heart started beating so loudly I thought for sure everyone else in the room taking an exam could hear it. I started flying through those questions, clicking automatically on the first one I saw that could be correct (which is literally the opposite of how you are supposed to take this test) and I knew deep down in my heart of hearts I was going to fail. I got to question 125 with 6 minutes left and the screen went white. My heart dropped. I was then prompted to take a survey of 10 questions which I can literally not tell you anything about because my heart was pounding and I was wondering in the back of my head, “wait, did I just pass?” The screen went white again and up popped a page that said “Congratulations.” I almost broke out into tears and when the test proctor collected my scratch paper she looked alarmed and said, “you can stop shakin’ now honey.” I ran out of the test center (okay, first I stopped to pee, duh) and called Burrito Lover to gush about the good news. The world gained an RD, who while shaky and crying, really really earned it and is really really proud.

So there you have it- how this RD came to be. Next up: the art of souping, because after the stress that the past several months has brought, I have to relearn how to unwind and nourish myself. What better time than now as the weather gets darker, colder, and wetter? I’ve had a slight obsession lately with playing with the natural pigments of food and so I bring you this gorgeous purple soup. It’s velvety rich texture, hearty zesty flavor, and rich bold color are undeniably unique and delicious.

^ Unnecessarily large purple sweet potato. Like, why tho?

Anywho, purple sweet potatoes are blended up with purple cauliflower, purple carrots, and red onion to give your bowl a huge blast of anthocyanins. Research has shown these flavonoids (which give fruits and veggies their bright purple/red colors) have demonstrable effects such as reducing blood pressure, improving eyesight, and serving as anti-inflammatories.

Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and as you start getting ready to dust off those Thanksgiving pants in the closet, do yourself a favor and nourish your body, mind, and soul with this soup bowl.

Purple Sweet Potato Curry Soup

Makes: 4-6 servings

  • 2 1/2 cups peeled & chopped purple sweet potato
  • 4 cups purple cauliflower florets
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 red onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Thai chilis, minced (can also use serrano…optional if ya like spicy)
  • 3 small-medium purple carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 6 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup plain 2% or whole Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
  1. Pre heat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes and cauliflower on a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for 20-30 minutes, until veggies are tender but not cooked completely through. Remove from oven when done.
  2. Heat a large pot over medium and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss in onion and saute for 3 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and chilis (if using) and saute another minute. Then add carrots, curry powder, cumin, a dash of salt and pepper, and cook another 3 minutes until carrots start to become a bit tender.
  3. Add cooked cauliflower florets and sweet potatoes into the pot. Pour broth and water in and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat when done.
  4. Next, use an immersion blender or work in batches using a high powered blender and puree until smooth. Taste and see if it needs more salt, pepper, curry powder, or cumin (or all of the above!)
  5. Meanwhile, whisk yogurt, remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, dill, and mint as well as a pinch of salt together in a bowl.
  6. To serve, swirl in a couple spoonfuls of yogurt into each bowl and enjoy.