Mung Bean Falafel Bowl with Pickled Rainbow Chard

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April 28th, 2016

Mung Bean Falafel Bowl - Golubka Kitchen

Mung beans have been my legume of choice as of late. I love them for their versatility, good nutrition record (protein of course, manganese, potassium, magnesium, zinc, etc.), brief cooking time, and a very fair price tag. They work well for falafel, with very similar properties to chickpeas, albeit lighter in every way. Soaking the mung beans overnight and baking the falafel instead of frying makes them easy on the stomach – I say this because even though I love to get traditional fried falafel when out, it always makes me feel unwell.
These mung bean falafels are made with my favorite spice mix that goes well with their bright, lemony flavor.

Mung Bean Falafel Bowl - Golubka Kitchen2

When I go to the farmer’s market, I often have the eyes bigger than the stomach problem, especially with greens. Last week, there was lots of beautiful rainbow chard at the stand, and I carried away more bunches than we could ever eat. Pickling was the next best choice and I was pleasantly surprised by the result. The marinade I came up with is very mild and simple, and the pickling only takes a day.

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It seems that in our little health food community, bowl format has become the default lunch format, and we are right there with everyone, happy to enjoy a veggie loaded and colorful lunch bowl, any time of day really.
As usual in spring, I can’t get enough of quickly sautéed, crispy and tender asparagus, which complements any grains or legumes. A base of quinoa, which can be substituted with any grain, tangy tahini sauce, crunchy nuts, herbs, and pickles complete this meal. All these components are, of course, suggestions, and dishes like these are highly customizable. I do very much recommend trying all the parts – the falafel, the pickles and tahini sauce – if not together, then independently, added to sandwiches, salads, and the like – you won’t regret it.

Mung Bean Falafel Bowl - Golubka Kitchen3

Mung Bean Falafel Bowl with Pickled Rainbow Chard
serves 4-6

for the mung bean falafel bowl
1 cup rainbow quinoa or other grain of choice – cooked
sea salt – to taste
1/2 tablespoon neutral coconut oil
about 20 asparagus – tough ends removed
freshly ground black pepper – to taste
mung bean falafel – recipe below
pickled rainbow chard – recipe below
large hadful baby spiach/other salad greens
handful cilantro leaves/pea shoots/other microgreens
tahini sauce – recipe below
sesame seeds – for garnish (optional)
chopped pistachios/other nuts – for garnish (optional)

to assemble the falafel bowls
Distribute quinoa between bowls. Warm coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add asparagus to the pan, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and black pepper and cook, undisturbed, for 3 minutes. Flip and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until soft and bright green. Divide asparagus between bowls on top of quinoa. Arrange falafels on top, followed by chard pickles, if using. Add spinach or other salad greens, herbs/microgreens. Drizzle with tahini sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds and nuts.

Mung Bean Falafel
makes about 18 falafels

1 cup mung beans – soaked overnight
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons sesame tahini
2 tablespoons melted neutral coconut oil or olive oil
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds – freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
sea salt – to taste
freshly ground black pepper – to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C).
2. Drain and rinse mung beans and cook them in plenty of salted water for about 7 minutes, or until soft but not mushy. Drain over a colander and set aside.
3. Coarsely grind pumpkin seeds in a food processor. Add mung beans and the rest of ingredients. Pulse to combine.
4. Shape about 18 small falafels and arrange them on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes on each side. Keep covered and warm, if using right away. Otherwise, keep refrigerated in an airtight container and reheat in the 350° F (180° C) oven for about 10-15 minutes.

Pickled Rainbow Chard
1 large bunch rainbow chard – leaves and stems separated
4 garlic cloves – sliced
pinch red pepper flakes
roughly chopped dill and cilantro – to taste (optional)

Thinly slice chard stems and leaves into bite sized pieces. Place into a large water-proof bowl, and pour purified water over them to just cover. Drain water, reserving it, and measure it, as you will need to prepare the marinade according to these proportions:

5 cups water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

to pickle
Combine measured water with other marinade ingredients in a medium saucepan. If you have more or less water than the recipe calls for, adjust the amount of vinegar, salt and spices accordingly – it doesn’t have to be exact. Bring the marinade to a boil over medium high heat, lower the heat to a simmer and simmer for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, add garlic, red pepper flakes and herbs to the chard, mixing to distribute evenly. Pour hot marinade over the chard and place a plate over it to keep all the chard emerged in the marinade. You can use a heavy object to weigh the plate down, such as a jar filled with water. Pickles will be ready the next day. Keep refrigerated. Best within 1 week.

Tahini Sauce
1/4 cup sesame tahini
1/4 cup purified water
juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove – chopped
sea salt – to taste
tiny pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all the ingredients in an upright blender and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Tags: asparagus, chard, falafel, lunch, lunch bowl, mains, mung beans, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, tahini, tahini sauce, vegan, vegetarian

Ramp Flatbread Pizza with Garlic Cream

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April 19th, 2016

Ramp Flatbread Pizza - Golubka Kitchen3

From a cultural standpoint, it’s always interesting to see a vegetable going in and out of style (remember that Portlandia skit?) Kale was a big one and is still kicking, and, to me, it seems like turmeric root might be the veggie of the moment. And of course, there are ramps – the tender, mildly oniony wild leeks that pop up for a short time in the spring. They’ve been in very popular demand for the past couple of years, so much so it turns out, that there are even concerns of over-harvesting.

Ramp Flatbread Pizza - Golubka Kitchen2

I grew up with a different kind of culture of demand for wild foods, one based on complete necessity. If one had to search for any positive consequences of the Soviet Union food deficit, a forced benefit was that it enabled people to see the land as a source of nourishment. During my childhood, foraging and growing your own food was completely mainstream. If you wanted to taste a tomato in the winter, you grew and pickled it in the summer, otherwise you would not have any tomatoes until the next season.

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Early spring was defined by trips to the woods to forage for ramps and morel mushrooms. I remember the forest floor still being very damp from the recently melted snow. There wasn’t much green sprouting yet, which made it easier to locate the cheerful, bright tops of ramps. We gathered them very young, with their leaves just peaking out through the carpet of last year’s fallen leaves. At home, we tucked the ramps into sterile jars and pickled them to enjoy during the year ahead.

Ramp Flatbread Pizza - Golubka Kitchen

Since ramps are a treat that we only get to taste once or twice a year, I like to make a meal that centers around them and highlights all their vitamin-loaded spring energy. This flatbread pizza is one of those, and a very simple solution to enjoying that bunch of ramps you picked up at the market.

Ramp Flatbread Pizza - Golubka Kitchen4

The spelt flatbread dough recipe I provide here is one of my favorites – basic, made up of few ingredients, but easy to roll and a great blank slate for any toppings. When roasted, ramps become soft and tender inside, with a slight crisp to their leaves, and full of that bright flavor we all crave during this time of year. I’ve also included an optional recipe for vegan garlic creme, which you can drizzle across the pizza, but feel welcome to garnish with crème fraîche/any cheese of choice, or enjoy plain.

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Ramp Flatbread Pizza with Garlic Cream

makes two 10-12-inch pizzas

for the garlic cream
1 cup cashews – soaked for 2-4 hours
1/2 cup purified water
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tamari
1 tablespoon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon lemon juice

for the dough

¾ cup water – warm
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soft neutral coconut oil or other vegetable oil
½ teaspoon baking soda
sea salt – to taste
2 cups sprouted or whole spelt flour

for the pizza
1 large bunch ramps
1 tablespoon soft neutral coconut oil or olive oil – divided
sea salt – to taste
freshly ground black pepper – to taste

pinch red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove – minced
baby arugula, microgreens – for serving (optional)

to make the garlic cream
Drain and rinse cashews. Place all of the ingredients into an upright blender and blend until smooth. Keep refrigerated.

to make the dough
1. Place flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add salt, coconut oil and baking soda. Pour apple cider vinegar over baking soda and let it bubble. 
2. Pour in warm water gradually, mixing it in with a fork. Knead with your hands to end up with a soft and slightly sticky dough. Divide into 2 equal parts, cover and leave to rest while preparing ramps.

to make the pizza
1. Preheat oven to 395° F (200° C).
2. Cut off and discard the very ends of each ramp, getting rid of any roots and soil. Wash and dry the ramps thoroughly. Separate green leaves from white stems/bulbs with a knife. Place white parts into a bowl, drizzle with 1/2 oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
3. Prepare a parchment paper-covered tray large enough to hold two flatbreads, or two trays. Spread one piece of dough at a time over the parchment paper with oiled hands into a 10-12-inch crust, about 1/8-inch in thickness. Alternatively, use a rolling pin.
4. Divide white stems in two parts and scatter them evenly over the crusts. Bake for 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, drizzle the leaves with the rest of the oil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, toss to coat. Equally distribute minced garlic clove over the two crusts. Arrange oiled leaves over the two crusts in layers. Bake for additional 10 minutes, until ramps are just wilted, soft, and a bit crispy at some edges.
6. Let cool slightly. Drizzle with garlic cream (optional), slice and serve garnished with fresh arugula and/or microgreens.

Tags: flatbread, mains, pizza, ramps, spelt, vegan

Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Spring Vegetables

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April 15th, 2016

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I’m a savories-for-breakfast type of person, although you wouldn’t be able to tell when looking at the breakfast section in our recipe index. I’m working on correcting that and including more non-sweets in the mix. I enjoy an occasional smoothie bowl or porridge with dried fruit, especially when making them for Paloma, but having a breakfast that’s not too sugary always sets me up for the day in the best way possible.

Creamy Spring Steel Cut Oats - Golubka Kitchen2

During the Flordia growing season, when I go to the farmer’s market every weekend, I like to have a salad for breakfast. I can make it filling or light, depending on my needs that day, but I just cannot resist those super fresh greens any time of the day. When it’s a bit chillier outside, I love a savory porridge with any seasonal add ins, which is where these creamy steel cut oats come in.
Steel cut oats have a longer cooking time than their rolled counterparts, but, in my opinion, their superior flavor and texture makes it all worth it. They have a potential to be very creamy, but not too mushy, and to maintain a nice bite, which I’m crazy about.

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Consider making this breakfast this weekend. It takes a little more time and attention than a quick weekday breakfast, and it’s loaded with all the green and crunchy things that spring provides to us this time of year – sugar snaps, snow peas, asparagus, greens and broccoli. There are mushrooms and pine nuts too, for ultimate indulgence.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can customize it according to what you have, to your mood, or time of year. Add fruit instead of veggies, sprinkle with favorite crunchy toppings, include spices, and so on. Enjoy the weekend!

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Creamy Steel Cut Oats with Spring Vegetables
serves 4 -6

2 tablespoon neutral coconut oil or ghee – divided
1 cup steel cut oats
3 cups hot water
sea salt – to taste
1 cup homemade almond milk or canned coconut milk
¼ cup pine nuts
1/2-1 lb shiitake – stems removed, caps sliced
about 1 1/2 cup broccoli florets
large handful sugar snaps/snow peas – strings removed if present
about 5 asparagus sprigs – tough ends removed, sliced diagonally
about 1 cup green peas – fresh or frozen
about 2 cups baby spinach/arugula/dandelion/watercress
1 tablespoon tamari

1. Warm 1 tablespoon coconut oil/ghee in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add steel cut oats and toast until golden and fragrant.
2. Add 3 cups of hot water and salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a slow simmer and let cook, covered, for 25 minutes. Stir periodically to prevent oats from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add almond/coconut milk and simmer, partially covered, for another 15 minutes. Keep stirring periodically to prevent any sticking. Use this time to prep vegetables.
3.When the porridge is about 10 minutes from being done, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium saute pan over medium low heat. Add a pinch of salt and pine nuts and toast them for about 2 minutes, until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
4. Increase heat to medium. Add shiitake, broccoli, sugar snaps, asparagus and a pinch of salt and saute for about 5 minutes, until vegetables are bright green. Add peas and spinach, stir until spinach just wilted. Stir vegetables and tamari into the porridge, once it’s cooked. Remove from heat and let stand for a couple of minutes.
5. Distribute between bowls to serve, garnish with toasted pine nuts.

Tags: asparagus, breakfast, broccoli, greens, oats, peas, porridge, shiitake, steel cut oats, sugar snaps