lunch

1) Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu 2) Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

We’ve finally moved into our little apartment in Milan.  The entire place is still a mess, full of boxes waiting to be unpacked.  From the way I see it, it’s gonna take another whole month to get this home sorted.  Never knew my other half is such a hoarder.  

I’m just glad that we’ve finally got internet here so I can start my rant.  ;)  Lately, I’m a little obsessed with roasted vegetables because I’ve also got my awesome oven installed finally.  I don’t even have a fan in the kitchen yet I must have my oven first.  Those guys who installed it must’ve thought I was weird though; not to mention those awkward lost in translation moments we got there.  I kept asking if I could start using the oven right away with my broken Italian.      

So roasting vegetables has become my new forte and the best sauce to go with that, in my opinion, is the wonderfully nutty great old tahini.  I have two simplest and healthiest recipes to go with my easy tahini dressing here.  Hope you’ll like them.  Happy roasting! :D

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu - this is one delicious hearty salad 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Servings: 1 person

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 small bowl broccoli florets

1/2 avocado, cut into finger-sized strips

1/2 package hard tofu, cut into finger-sized strips

1 bowl fresh salad greens

1 bowl cooked soba, rinsed and drained

1 fresh lemon, juiced

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp chopped fresh spring onion

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

1 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1 small garlic, finely chopped 

2-3 tbsp sesame oil/extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for tahini dressing: 

1/2 cup tahini sauce

1/2 cup water 

1 small garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp vinegar 

1 tbsp honey

1/2 lemon juice and zest

1 tsp grated ginger

1-2 tbsp tamari/soy sauce

1-2 tbsp sesame oil

Instructions:

1)  Preheat the oven at 180-200ºC.  

2)  Marinate the tofu with chopped garlic and soy sauce for 10-15 minutes.

3)  To make tahini dressing, add tahini, garlic, vinegar, honey, ginger, lemon juice, tamari, sesame oil and add water to thin until smooth.  Adjust seasonings as needed.  

3)  On a baking tray, mix broccoli, avocado, tofu, dried chilli flakes, oil, and season. Roast for about 10 minutes or less.  

4)  On a large dish, assemble the salad, soba, and roasted vegetables with some toasted sesame seeds, nuts, spring onions, and tahini dressing.  Add a twist of fresh lemon before serving. 

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Soba Salad with Roasted Broccoli, Avocado, and Tofu

Here are the simplest and healthiest ingredients for my second recipe: Roasted Purple Carrots & Avocado Salad

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Servings: 1-2 persons

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients: 

1 lb fresh purple salad

1 avocado, cut into slices

1 lemon zest 

1 tbsp sesame seeds

1 handful chopped walnuts

1/4 cup tahini dressing (recipe is above)

handful chopped fresh parsley (you can use mint and others; they are just as good)

extra-virgin olive oil/sesame oil 

On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.

Add avocado after 15 minutes of roasting the carrots.  

Instructions: 

1) Preheat the oven at 200ºC.  

2) On a baking tray, mix carrots, oil, and season. Roast for about 15 minutes then add avocado.  

3) Roast for another 5-10 minutes.  I usually toss in the walnuts in the last few minutes of roasting for an extra nutty flavor.  

4) Garnish with fresh parsley, sesame seeds, tahini dressing and a drizzle of oil.  

5) Add a twist of fresh lemon juice to give the refreshness of this warm salad before serving.  

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Roasted purple carrots & avocado with tahini dressing

Sichuan-style wontons

Simplicity and modesty are the two virtues that are close to my heart. It’s what inspired me in my everyday cooking and in the coming weeks, I hope you will see it translate onto my blog.  There is no greater joy in life than cooking for our loved ones and friends.  Some of my greatest relationships have been forged over a good home cooked meal and I hope it could help do the same for you.

For those who actually read my blog, you must’ve noticed my style of writing hasn't much to be desired.  English has never been my strong suit and as a result, it’s very hard for me to convey how I truly feel from pen to paper.  But I do hope that through my blog - you will see what I am truly passionate about and that’s bringing joy to others via my cooking.  

Some of my cookings will be derived from spontaneity, and as a result here is my vegan Sichuan-style wonton dish. This was created and inspired based on the fresh vegetables at the local market this morning.  I would like to give credit though, to this lovely lady, who inspired me while she was assembling those beautiful baby bok choy on her stand.  She even discounted me a few dollars for smiling

This dish is probably not as authentic as the Shanghainese but similar.  The original recipe is made with pork and this is the vegetarian/vegan version.  I do suggest to try making these wontons over the weekend because they do require a little bit of time for preparation.  

Sichuan-style wontons

Servings: 4 persons (around 20 wontons)    

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients: 

500g baby bok choy, chopped into small bits

100g soybean skin, chopped into small bits

50g baby corn, chopped into small bits

50g long green beans, chopped into small bits

1 tsp grated ginger

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cayenne pepper, seeded, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp rice wine or white wine

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 pinch white or black pepper

1 tbsp roasted sesame seed

1 handful chopped coriander

1 tbsp chopped scallions for cooking + 1 tbsp for garnishing

1L vegetable stock

20-25 wonton skins

extra-virgin olive oil

For the Sichuan sauce: 

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tsp Sichuan chili oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp sesame oil

Method: Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.  

Instructions: 

1.  Preheat a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp olive oil on medium heat, cook garlic, scallion, ginger, and cayenne pepper for 1 minute, then add baby bok choy, baby corn, green beans, soybean skins, and a splash of rice wine; cook 1-2 minutes until the alcohol evaporates.

2.  Add sesame oil, soy sauce, pepper as seasoning.  Cook 10 minutes until the moisture has evaporated.  Heat off.  Set aside.  

3.  There you have the fillings cooked already.  And now we make the wontons by wrapping the wontons with 1 tsp of the filling in the center of a wonton wrap.  Dap the outer edges of the wonton skin with water to seal the wontons by forming a small triangular shape.  Fold the two side corners with a small dap of water.  Go here for more folding techniques.  

4.  After the wontons are made, bring a pot of vegetable stocks to boil.  Add 8-10 wontons to the pot and when they start to flow within 1-2 minutes, use a strainer spoon to scoop them out of the soup.  Transfer the wontons to a large bowl.  Repeat the same step to cook the rest of the wontons.

5.  Mix the Sichuan sauce with a tiny bit of vegetable stock to balance the intensity of spiciness and taste.  

6.  Garnish with sesame seeds, chopped coriander, and scallions before serving.  

Sichuan-style wontons

Sichuan-style wontons