Friday, September 30, 2011

Vegetarian Rosh Hashanah Part IV: Sephardic Cauliflower Patties and a Round-Up of the Meal

Today, I made the final element of our Rosh Hashanah festival meal, Sephardic Cauliflower Patties.  This was yet another recipe from Olive Trees and Honey.  Rabbi Marks notes in the introduction to the cauliflower section that cauliflower was plentiful in Moorish Spain, which is why it is so prevalent in Sephardic Jewish cooking.  (As a quick history lesson - Sephardic Jews have roots in Spain & the Mediterranean, while Ashkenazi Jews, like my family, have roots in Eastern Europe).  Also, if Rabbi Marks is to be believed, the Sephardim apparently like to fry things.  Hence, Sephardic Cauliflower Patties.

I followed the instructions for the patties fairly closely.  I boiled the cauliflower for 12 minutes, drained it and mashed it.  I mixed the mashed cauliflower with minced onion, fresh parsley, panko bread crumbs, egg, white pepper and salt.  I had trouble getting the mixture to bind, so I added more bread crumbs and egg.  I then dipped the patties in more egg and dredged them in whole wheat flour before frying them in a thin layer of olive oil.

Some of the patties didn't survive the fry, but we enjoyed eating the crumbs.  The combination of cauliflower and onion with a fried coating made for a very tasty meal.  My husband's verdict was "Better than latkes!" and his uncle said "I had no idea cauliflower could taste good!"  So, this was the winner of the dinner.

Apple Cake in Cross Section
The Bukharan Braised Carrots were also tasty - I really liked the smoky tomato sauce they were prepared in.  The Romanian Vegetable Stew was ok - a tetch watery for my taste.  I prefer my veg roasted or sauteed to give it more depth of flavor.  But, I did like the combination of veggies, so I may tinker.   And the apple cake, which I have now made for my husband's family four times, continues to be a favorite.  And of course, we served apples and honey, along with a round challah!

Well, that wraps up my inaugural vegetarian Rosh Hashanah.  L'Shanah Tovah to all - have a happy and sweet year!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Vegetarian Rosh Hashanah Part III: Bukharan Braised Baby Carrots

The third dish I prepared this evening for tomorrow's festival meal is another recipe from Olive Trees and Honey.  This dish has roots in Central Asia, where, according to Rabbi Marks, Jews often enjoyed savory carrot dishes.

For this dish, onions and carrots are sauteed at high heat, and then seasoned with fresh garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin seed, tomato paste and salt, and then braised on medium low hear until tender.

The baby carrots I used were quite large, so I extended the cooking time a bit, 15 minutes versus 10 on the initial saute, and 15 minutes versus 8 during the braise.  I also used smoked paprika instead of cayenne to cut the spice quotient a bit.  While the husband and I love spicy, I don't want to torture his grandmother with the level of heat we're accustomed to eating.  And, while the recipe called for cottonseed oil, which was the oil of choice in Central Asia, I used olive oil.

I love cooking with smoked paprika and cumin seed, so if the smell of this one is any indication, we'll enjoy it tomorrow!

Vegetarian Rosh Hashanah Part II: Romanian Vegetable Stew

For my bridal shower, my friend Maya gave me a wonderful cookbook, Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World.  It's written by Gil Marks, who is both a rabbi and a chef.  The book contains hundreds of recipes, all of which include a history of the dishes in question, as well as background on the region and cultures where the dishes originated.

I'll be making several dishes from this book for tomorrows meal.  Tonight, I made Romanian Vegetable Stew, or Guvetch.  According to Rabbi Marks, Guvetch is a popular Romanian dish that his family enjoys at potlucks and other family celebrations.  Its origins can be traced back to Turkey in the 14th century.  The flavor comes from slow cooking of a variety of vegetables.  The Rabbi adds that you can use whatever veggies you like, but the Romanian version includes plenty of garlic.

The version I made included eggplant, tomatoes, green beans, onions, zucchini, red and green peppers and garlic.  I used our Le Creuset baker, which was just a tetch too small for the amount of veg called for in the recipe, but will be perfect for reheating and presentation.  There's not a lot of seasoning, but the sauteeing of the eggplant, onions and garlic looks like it will add a nice flavor dimension, and I made sure to add plenty of salt and pepper.  Also, the 90 minute cooking time should help the flavors develop.

We won't be tasting the dish until tomorrow, but I thought I'd share a visual preview.

Vegetarian Rosh Hashanah Part I: Jewish Apple Cake

Wow - it's been awhile since my last blog . . . lots of travel and work stuff, so I haven't been doing a lot of cooking or had time in front of a computer.  However, Rosh Hashanah gives me a welcome return to my kitchen and blogging.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Jewish High Holidays, Rosh Hashanah is the start of the Jewish New Year.  In my family, we attended synagogue and then prepared a festive holiday meal.  This year, we'll be hosting my husband's family and I'll be preparing a fully vegetarian dinner. 

Since I'm making multiple dishes, I started cooking right after I got home from shul.  My family always incorporates apples and honey into Rosh Hashanah dinners, a tradition that dates back to medieval times.  Apples and honey symbolize the hope a sweet new year. 

In addition to serving apples and honey before the festival meal, I also like to serve an apple based dessert.  For the past several years, I've made a scratch apple cake.  I use this recipe, which calls for apples, orange juice and vanilla.  The recipe calls for using a tube pan, but I use a bundt pan and it always turns out fine.  The recipe has a cooking window of 75 - 90 minutes, but I find I need the full time, if not more.

Enjoying apple picking at Butler's Orchard
It's made with oil, rather than butter, so if you aren't veg, but keep kosher, you can include it in a meat meal.  However, it does contain eggs.  Vegans, I may eventually attempt it with an egg replacement to make it vegan versus lacto-ovo. 

For the apples, I used three apples from the 20 (yes, 20!) pounds of apples we picked at Butler's Orchard last weekend.  The variety I used is called a Jonathan, which is described as "spicy and fragrant, juicy, sweet-tart."   Look for a more apple experiments in future blogs!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Veg Options at Silver Diner and Seasons 52

Wanted to provide a review of the veg options at two Maryland restaurants I've been to recently: Silver Diner and Seasons 52.

Mango Vegetarian Stir-Fry at Silver Diner
Silver Diner is a local chain - the restaurants look like a traditional diner, but the menu veers into more upper scale casual restaurant territory.  They're mostly in Maryland, but you can also find one in my hometown of Cherry Hill, NJ.  Recently, Silver Diner went through a menu makeover to incorporate local foods and healthier options, and the menu incorporates a ton of fresh produce and healthy preparations.

Vegetarians have a lot of choices at Silver Diner, and vegans will also have a few options.  If you eat eggs, there are any number of omelets and scrambles available, as well as a number of lacto-ovo friendly breakfast foods that can be ordered all day.  There are also a number of good looking salads, a veggie chili and a veggie quesadilla.

For my dinner, I had the Mango Vegetarian Stir Fry, which normally comes with mushrooms, carrots, mixed peppers, edamame beans, cilantro, napa cabbage, reduced sodium teriyaki, scallions, black sesame seeds, and whole wheat angel hair.  Because of the soy allergy, I asked the waiter if the dish could be made without edamame and the teriyaki, and he immediately said it could, and noted my soy allergy for the kitchen.  This is a great sign - it means the dishes are made to order and that the kitchen is conscious of food allergy issues.

The stir-fry was very good - the pasta was cooked exceptionally well and had good flavor and texture, and whatever the veggies were sauteed in made everything moist enough so that I didn't miss a sauce.  All of the produce was fresh.

Silver Diner does a nice job of highlighting "heart healthy" items that are lower in fat & cholesterol, as well as gluten free items, which are denoted by a (GF) on the menu.  I do wish they also had an easy symbol for veg items.  Some of the menu items have "Vegetarian" in the title, but a green "V" would go a long way in helping make the menu more easily scanable for veg eaters.

Last night, we went to Seasons 52 on Rockville Pike.  This was my third trip there, and husband's first.  For those of you not familiar with Seasons 52, all of the menu items are under 475 calories.  The menu changes four times a year - winter, spring, summer and fall.  There are 22 locations around the country, including the Maryland one and a new location in Tyson's Corner, VA.  There's also one in Cherry Hill that's been open quite awhile.

This is the last week of the summer menu, and I was able to find a number of veg friendly options.  I am a big fan of Seasons 52's flatbreads - there are normally a few veg friendly options, and you can also ask for the meat ones to be made veg.  Last night, we had the tomato one, which was very good.  I then had an avocado, tomato and argula salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.  The salad came with some grilled bread, whic had a delightfully smoky flavor and a texture that was both crispy and chewy.  For my entree, I got what I always get - the farmer's vegetable plate.  The staff is always happy to make it for me without tofu and give me extra veggies.  Since the plate changes seasonally, it's a different experience every time I go.  Last night's plate had carrots, asparagus, mushrooms, golden beets, grilled onions and caramelized red peppers.  It also always comes with this tabouleh I'm slightly obsessed with and must try and re-create: slivered almonds, cranberries and lots of parsley.

Seasons 52 is very friendly to vegetarians and those with food allergies - the servers and kitchen staff are all very knowledgeable about the menu, and the kitchen is set up so that substitutions can easily be made to any dish.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Football Munchies: Seitan Hot Wings and Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips

This is not news to those of you who know me in real life, but I am crazy about football.  From September to February, my Sundays go something like this . . . Get up at 9.  Turn on ESPN.  Leave for bar at 10.  Arrive at bar to stand in line at 11.  Sit down at 12.  Get beer.  Watch Eagles 1-3.  Scream myself hoarse.  Go home.  Watch 4:15 game.  Watch 8:20 game,  Lather, rinse repeat.

The true football experience requires football food.  Unfortunately, most football food doesn't fall in the vegan or even vegetarian camps - cheesesteaks (Granted, I have come up with a nice vegan cheesesteak), chili nachos, etc.

But, perhaps the ultimate football food is wings, preferably hot, hot, hot.  Fortunately, this month's Vegetarian Times has a vegan version - Seitan Hot Wings.

Amazingly, I had all the ingredients in my house to make said wings.  The marinade included hot sauce (I used the Original Cholula brand), vegan mayo (I use Follow Your Heart's Soy Free Brand), maple syrup and smoked paprika.  I didn't look closely at the recipe until 7 or so.  It suggests a marinating time of 2 hours.  Oops.  But, I cut the marinating time to one hour and it was fine.  I did notice, however, when I went to bread the wings that the breading got soggy quickly and stopped sticking, so you may want to use two separate bowls for breading.  Also, I probably cut the seitan a little too small, so it was more like bites or poppers than wings.

The wings were yummy - they had a nice crispy texture and a great kick.  Husband also tried them and said I should make them again.

As a side, I made crinkle cut rosemary sweet potato chips. I used Hannah Sweet Potatoes, which, as I've mentioned in previous blogs, have a pretty yellow color.  Using the crinkle blade on my mandoline slicer, I cut very thin slices of sweet potato.  I tossed the slices with olive oil, dried rosemary, black pepper and salt.  Since the oven had to be at 350 for the wings, I did the sweet potato at that temp, though I usually prefer to go at least 425 with potatoes.  However, I figured slicing them extra thin would help.  They were in the oven for about 40 minutes (10 minutes more than the wings), and I tuned them once halfway through.  Thanks to our uneven oven, some of them got nice and crispy, but others could have used more time.

I added some leftover corn salad from last night - it was just as good cold as it was hot.

Overall, I would definitely make the wings and potato chips again.  And we still have 15 regular season weeks to go, not to mention playoffs, so I'll have many an opportunity!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Loaf That Did Not Loaf, But Still Tasted Good

In my quest to use our leftover lentils, I searched out recipes for lentil loaf.  After pursuing a few options, I decided on this Vegetarian Lentil Loaf. I was a bit skeptical that it would hold together without an obvious binder, but I decided to give it a shot.

The recipe calls for sage and Italian seasoning.  Of course, we happened to be out of both.  And I usually make my own Italian seasoning, but we were also out of oregano.  Note to self - restock spice cabinet!  Anyhow, I used 1/4 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp parsley, 1/4 tsp basil, a healthy few grinds of black pepper and some tomato paste concentrate to liven up the flavors.

When the loaf had about 10 minutes to go, I made a side dish of white corn, grape tomatoes and spinach that I seasoned with salt & minced onion flakes.  Then, I added a healthy splash of vegetable broth to make a sauce.

The recipe said to let the loaf cool a little bit to help with slicing, but their definition of a little bit might have been, oh, 20 minutes.  Mine was five minutes, and it's 9:00 and I'm hungry.  As you can tell from the title of this blog, it didn't quite slice as much as it kind of splooshed.  But, while I lose points for form, I really liked the flavors.  Having everything mellow out in the oven for an hour really got the spices and onions and tomatoey goodness to combine very well.

The side dish was much more of a success - it had a nice richness that my veggie sautes normally don't have.  I think I'll try the broth and mixed onion trick more often.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lunch Heaven at Maoz Vegetarian

Like most of the Northeast, we here in DC have been enduring torrential rain for the past several days.  No one wants to venture outside in this kind of weather unless they have to.  Today, unfortunately, I had to, as my Blackberry, after wheezing through the last several months, finally bit the dust.  With a business trip next week, I can't be without a mobile phone, so off I went in the rain to procure a new one.

The silver lining to the many, many rainclouds was the fact that Maoz Vegetarian was around the corner from the Sprint store.  After slogging through the rain and waiting around for an hour, I decided I deserved a lunch treat.

And, oh, what a treat it was!  For those of you not familiar with Maoz, it's a quick service restaurant that originated in Amsterdam in the mid-nineties that now has seven restaurants in the US.  The menu is quite simple.  You have the choice of a falafel sandwich, a salad bowl with falafel, pita with salad or egg and eggplant pita.  You can pay extra for toppings like hummus, feta and avocado.  There are also sweet potato fries and other sides.

But, the real fun begins once you get your meal . . . you get to top your sandwich or salad with a variety of amazing toppings.  I chose the salad bowl with falafel, and I topped it with beets, carrots, a tomato & cucumber salad and a cauliflower-broccoli blend.  The toppings were incredibly, incredibly fresh - better than some of the veg I've had in sit down restaurant.  The falafel were also cooked perfectly.  And, I think it took about one minute from the time I ordered to the time a salad bowl was in my hand, ready to be topped!

Everything at Maoz is very clearly labeled, which benefits both vegans and those with gluten intolerance.  Items that are vegan are marked with a bright green "V," and gluten free items with a bright blue "GF."  The falafel is gluten-free, which I imagine is a welcome treat for those folks with gluten intolerance.  It was very easy for me to put together a completely vegan lunch without having to ask any questions or pore over labels.

If you visit the Maoz website, you can also view an allergens table that notes which ingredients have soy, eggs, milk, wheat and nuts.  And, there is a nice nutrition section on their where you can learn more about the health benefits of the fruits, vegetables and grains on the menu, as well as a detailed breakdown of calories, fat, carbohydrates, protein and sodium in their selections.

It's definitely worth walking six blocks from my office to go back to Maoz!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Leftover Lentil Concoction

Since we have a huge container of lentils left over from this weekend's Moussaka, I will be experimenting a lot with lentils this week.  Tonight, I made a concoction.  After I put some wild rice in the rice cooker, I finely diced 1/4 of a large yellow onion and one of the pale yellow peppers we had in the fridge and tossed them in some olive oil.  Then, I crushed up three cloves of garlic and tossed that in, followed by some coarsely chopped grape tomatoes.  For color, I added chopped fresh parsley and finely sliced baby spinach.  In went the cooked lentils, and then I seasoned the whole lot with za'atar, tomato paste concentrate, vegetable broth, freshly ground black pepper and salt.

I would have liked a bit more color contrast - the lentils really blended in with the wild rice.  But, the texture was good and I liked the flavor blend.

There are lots more lentils left, so we'll see what else I can make with them.  One nice thing about making a big batch of something like lentils, beans, rice, quinoa, farro (and the list goes on) over the weekend is that you can use it throughout the week, but not spend a lot of time on prep.  You can then vary up your meals by using different produce items, seasonings, etc.  Now, I just need to remind myself to take my own advice and do this type of thing more often. 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Veg Options at Moby Dick's House of Kabob

Since we'll be eating leftover Moussaka for the next meal or two, I thought I'd go back in time a bit and do a restaurant review from this weekend:

Moby Dick's House of Kabob has 15 locations in the Washington area, including restaurants in Georgetown, Dupont, Bethesda, Rockville and Gaithersburg, as well as Virginia.  When you talk about Moby's to anyone in the DC area, chances are folks will rhapsodize about their basmati rice or their grilled pita bread. 

There are a number of vegetarian items on the menu, such as my dinner choice,"Moby's Veggie": Sautéed fresh mushrooms, onion, tomato, and spinach served on a bed of the famous Basmati rice.  A heads up to vegans - the rice is prepared with butter.

Other veg items include falafel sandwiches and platters, veg sandwiches and grape leaves.  I've had the falafel, and I can definitely recommend it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Labor of Love Pre-Labor Day Dinner: Vegetarian Moussaka

When it's a three day weekend, I like to make a more complex dish for Sunday dinner than I might make during a regular week.  I don't mind spending two or three hours in the kitchen on a Sunday if I don't have to head to work on Monday.

Tonight's experiment was Moussaka.  Moussaka is an eggplant and tomato based dish that's layered and baked in the oven.  I tend to think of it as Greek food, but it also apparently is also a dish found in the Balkans and Middle East.  A number of traditional Moussaka preparations have minced beef, but there are a number of vegan and vegetarian versions out there. After looking at several sources, I decided on this lacto-ovo version from, which called for lentils instead of beef.

Lentils are an excellent addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet. In addition to being high in fiber, they are also a good source of folate and iron.  Dried lentils store for a long time, and, unlike other dried beans, do not need to be soaked overnight before they're cooked.  Lentils can be ready to eat in about 20-30 minutes, so they're also good for quick meals.

This recipe called for canned lentils, but I had some dried lentils in the cupboard, so I decided to cook up a large batch of them and save some for other dishes throughout the week.  There are a number of types of lentils.  The ones I used are French Green Lentils, which I purchased from the bulk aisle in Whole Foods.   

To slice the vegetables, I broke out my mandoline slicer.  This mandoline allowed me to adjust the thickness of the slices very easily, and I was able to slice an entire eggplant, two zucchini, four yukon gold potatoes and one large onion in less than five minutes, including washing the veggies and swapping blades.  It helped to cut the eggplant and zucchini into three or so pieces, and I'm definitely glad for the food guard!  I used the serrated blade for the eggplant and zucchini and the straight blade for the potatoes.

The browning of the veggies took longer, even using my ginormous saute pan, so I was glad to have saved time on the slicing!  I think it was about seven rounds of veg.  I got a little nervous about the veg sticking to the pan, so I gradually added additional tablespoons of olive oil.

While I let the veggies drain on paper towels, I worked on the sauce.  Since I didn't have liquid left over from the canned lentils, I added in some vegetable broth.  I also used half a small bulb of garlic, rather than one clove of garlic.  I mean, really, who only uses ONE clove?

For the roux, I used skim milk and Earth Balance.  I may try and make it with Almond Milk next time.  Also, if there is a next time, I am bringing in minions to help me with the endless browning of vegetables.

Since this was looking to be a fairly hearty meal, I decided to make a side salad with romaine, red pepper, baby carrots and sunflower seeds.  I dressed it with Silver Palate's Champagne Honey Mustard Dressing.

All in all, the start time was 6:25 and the meal went on the table around 8:45.  It would have been longer if it wasn't for the mandoline!  But, it was well worth the effort for something so yummy, as well as something that would give us some leftovers.  Husband and I ate half the pan, and I imagine the rest of the pan will not last so long.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stuffed Pattypan Squash, Brought To You By Multiple Cousins

Last weekend, when my cousin Rachel came over with her culinarily adventurous 14-month old daughter, she also came bearing some squash from my cousins Greg and Susan.  One of the squashes was a Pattypan Squash, a white, salad plate sized gourd with scalloped edges.  While I was researching them on the internet, I realized I had seen their smaller squash cousins at Whole Foods in their mixed baby vegetable pack.

The Monday after dropping off the squash, Rachel emailed me a New York Times recipe for Pattypan Squash Stuffed with Corn.  I decided to make it today's lunch, but as a vegan meal rather than a vegetarian one.

I was a little nervous about being able to cut the squash in half.  I'm still reeling from an incident with a butternut squash a few years ago that ruined an entire (cheap) set of knives.  But, my good chefs knife slid right through the patty pan.  A good reminder - if you're going to have one good kitchen implement, get a really good knife!

The same good knife also made chopping the onion and the inside of the squash a breeze.  The sharper the knife, the more precise your dice will be.  To get the corn off of the ear, I used our corn stripper.  Before we got the corn stripper, I used a large knife to remove corn kernels, but it was always a bit unsteady and I was always a little worried about cutting myself.  The corn stripper is a lot easier to handle and also keeps the corn contained in a little container, so it's also less messy.

Whole Pattypan Squash
The good knife also came in handy when chopping the cilantro.  A nice tip for chopping cilantro or parsley if you don't want a lot of stem in your food: Hold the herbs upright in one hand.  With the other hand, slide your fingers down the stem.  The leaves should easily slide off and be ready for chopping.

The recipe called for gruyere or swiss, as well as egg and milk to make a custard.  Instead of the gruyere, I used mozzarella daiya.  After filling the squash halves, I poured a little bit of vegetable broth over the top.

I was so happy with the results.  I usually prefer white corn, but accidentally picking up yellow corn was a bonus.  The bright yellow kernels were a nice contrast for the pale interior of the squash.  The vegetable broth soaked into squash flesh, which gave it an added flavor dimension.  Husband came in from some errand running at the end of my meal, had a few bites and pronounced it "hearty and well seasoned."  So, look for more stuffed squash recipes on the blog soon!

So, thank you, Greg and Susan, for supplying the ingredient for this delicious meal, and thank you Rachel, for bringing it to our house and providing a recipe!

Continuing Adventures in Veggie Burgerdom: Shake Shack

Shroom Burger and Fries from Shake Shack
DC has been going bananas for Shake Shack, the New York burger chain that finally opened an outpost between Dupont Circle and Farragut North (on Connecticut Ave, where the Fuddruckers used to be).  Lines are usually around the corner, so it seemed like a good idea to check it out at 4:00 on a Friday.

The vegetarian option at Shake Shack is the Shroom Burger - a "crisp fried portabello filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheese, topped with lettuce, tomato and shack sauce."  Anything fried is a little bit of a gamble for me allergy wise, but in the name of research (or in the name of me loving fried things) I was going to give it a try. 

Portionwise, it's a little smaller than I expected.  Also when I bit into the "burger," all of the cheese immediately oozed out, so keep it in the waxed paper wrapper.  However, the taste was ok, and I had absolutely no allergic reaction whatsoever, which is practically miraculous when dealing with any kind of fried food.  Also, the crinkle cut fries were very tasty, and reminded me of the Micro Magic Fries I enjoyed when I was a kid.  So yes, while I try and healthy, oh, 75% of the time, it's nice to have a somewhat indulgent option every once in awhile, and I think I may have found it at Shake Shack.

Other nice tips about the menuAllergen information is available for the "Top 8," and the same chart notes what's vegetarian and what's gluten free.  There was soy in the Shroom Burger and fries, but clearly it wasn't a big amount.   Also, you can get beer there (yay!).  I have a number of friends who swear by the shakes, especially the peach pie shake (I got two electronic recommendations to try it immediately after my FourSquare check-in), but since I knew I'd be getting the Shroom Burger, I didn't want to overdo it with the dairy.

Eventually, I'll do a DC-area vegetarian burger place ranking, and Shake Shack will be on the list somewhere. 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Adventures in Random Vegetables: Cherry Bomb Peppers

After practicing yoga very regularly the last several years, I've noticed I'll often get odd ideas in the middle of a particularly vigorous class.  Granted, one of these weird ideas was "I don't want to eat meat anymore," and clearly, that's worked out well for me.

Tonight, after a particularly creative warrior sequence, I got fixated on the following idea - "I want to cook with a vegetable I've never eaten before."  Given that I'm an adventurous eater, this was no small challenge. 

However, the Safeway next door to my yoga studio actually has a nice produce section with a variety of more exotic items - rambutans, dragon fruit, quince, etc.  Given the bevy of fruits available, I was confident I'd find a vegetable that would suit tonight's yoga induced craving.

Cherry Bomb Peppers
I decided to go with Cherry Bomb Peppers, which, coincidentally, were featured on a rerun of Chopped I watched this weekend.   I wasn't sure offhand how hot they were, so I only grabbed two.

After I, along with a platform full of red line refugees, was abandoned by an impatient metro driver who shut the doors before all the passengers could even get off the train and left with a TWENTY minute wait for a train (yoga only gives me so much beatific patience - I. WAS. MAD.), I had time to do a little culinary research on the Cherry Bomb before I got home and got cooking. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Scoville Units, it's a measurement of how much capascin is in a pepper.  Capascin is the chemical that gives peppers their "heat."  The higher the amount of capascin, the more heat a pepper has.  According to this chart, a Cherry Bomb has 2,000 Scoville Units, which puts it solidly ahead of a bell pepper (10 units), but still less spicy than other familiar peppers such as Jalapenos (4,000), Serranos (8,000) and Habaneros (200,000).  Since I regularly use Serranos in my guac, I had better sense of the heat I could expect from the Cherry Bombs.

Anyhow, I decided to finely dice my Cherry Bombs with my Oxo chopper.  I didn't get them as small as I'd like, but had I been less hungry and cranky from my metro debacle, I  would have worked at them a little more.  I then put some minced yellow onion in olive oil and let that cook up, and then added the peppers, shredded kale and black beans.  I seasoned the mixture with a healthy amount of cumin and oregano.  We put it on top of brown rice that my husband made in the rice maker while I was stuck waiting in tunnel and hungry (yes, still bitter two hours later), and I put some mozzarella daiya on mine to balance out the heat a bit.

Husband was a big fan - he finished his meal before I even got halfway through mine, and I'm usually the faster eater.  I liked it also but I think it would have been improved with more of a "sauce."  I was hoping to use some vegetable broth to make one, but our carton in the fridge smelled off, so I didn't use it.

As for the heat, it was satisfying, but not overwhelming.  My lips are still a little tingly a few hours later.  If you like hotter salsas or spicy guac, you'll enjoy cooking with Cherry Bombs.