Thursday, April 14, 2011

Roasted Chickpea and Cauliflower Indian Pizza

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In a diverse region like the Bay Area, culinary hybrids like Indian pizza are bound to happen. You might think it's a kitschy oddity, but there are quite a few nearby restaurants that put an Indian twist on the classic pizza pie.  Here is my take on an Indian pizza.

You'll need:
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into bite sizes
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • cilantro for garnish
  • salt to taste
  • 1 portion Indian tomato sauce, recipe below
  • 1 portion your favorite pizza dough recipe (I used Peter Reinhart's Napolenata pizza dough)
For Indian tomato sauce, you'll need:
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, medium diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 26-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 green chili (optional)
  • salt to taste
Begin by pureeing garlic, onion and ginger into a paste in a food processor. In a heavy medium pan, heat up canola oil until fat shimmers. Add mustard seeds, cumin and coriander. Stir for 2 minutes or until spices become fragrant. Stir in garlic, onion and ginger mixture and chili if desired. Cook for 2 minutes. Add canned tomatoes. Bring to simmer. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, garam masala. Season with salt. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally. Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Use a blender or an immersion blender, puree into smooth sauce.

While the sauce is cooking, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Separately toss cauliflower and chickpeas with 1 tablespoon of canola oil and 1 tablespoon of curry powder each. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes. Stir half way through the process.

Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Roll out pizza dough. Add a thin and even layer of tomato sauce. Top with a layer of sliced mozzarella, roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Since there isn't a "classic" Indian pizza recipe, I took liberties with what I chose to add to the pizza (which included the entire spice rack). I really liked this pizza. The tomato sauce is subtly sweet and fragrant. The roasted chickpeas are slightly crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside. The curry powder and cauliflower are always wonderful together. Indian food goes beautifully on pizza... apparently!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spinach and Oyster Mushroom on Creamy Polenta

Pin It For Christmas, I got myself and VB's mom oyster mushroom growing kits from Back to the Roots. Between the traveling and all the other stuff that's going on, I didn't get a chance to grow oyster mushrooms right in my kitchen until last month. It was really humid with lots of rain, so my first attempt never yielded any edible -- just a blue moldy mess. I contacted BTTR to let them know about my experience and they were kind enough to send me a replacement kit. A few days later, I had some gorgeous oyster mushrooms right on my kitchen counter!

I tried to showcase the fresh, meaty mushrooms by preparing them simply. I sauteed them quickly with fresh spinach, sliced onion, red pepper flakes and some lemon juice and then added them to a bed of creamy polenta.

Polenta can be a great and quick component to many dishes. It can be done in 5 minutes with a lot of whisking. The star here is definitely the oyster mushrooms, which are meaty and flavorful. Check out BTTR for more information on these neat little kits.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Soba Noodles with Soybeans, Tofu, Nori and Miso Sauce

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It's pretty rare that I come up with a recipe that doesn't require hours and hours of work. But I've done it this time -- simple and flavorful soba noodles with lots of protein in under 30 minutes!

You'll need:
  • 2 servings (6 ounces) soba noodles (Japanese buckwheat noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons dried nori, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes then drained
  • 1 cup frozen soy beans, thawed
  • 1 block (6 ounces) baked tofu curd, medium cubed
  • 1 portion of miso sauce, recipe below
  • sliced scallion for garnish (optional)
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
For miso sauce, you'll need:
  • 2 heaping tablespoons miso paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on your preference)
  • 1 teaspoon tahini paste
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce. Whisk together until all ingredients are well integrated. Set aside.

Boil soba noodles according to package instructions. Combine with all the other ingredients. Toss together with miso sauce. Garnish with scallion and/or sesame seeds. Serve warm or cold.

The key to this simple dish is definitely the sauce. It brings all the flavors together with its savory, nutty, sweet and spicy goodness. And! This is actually something that is completely do-able after a long day at work (assuming that you have all the ingredients lying around like I do).