Dig-In Meals – A column highlighting Indian spices in recipes that take traditional Indian food and add a western twist!
Every time I think about changing up my diet and incorporating more clean foods, I tend to put it off. All I can think of are buddha bowls and raw salads. Do I really have to suffer through several meals of incorporating raw kale into my meals to enjoy a delicious, eco-friendly diet?
Earth Day prompted me to rethink my approach to clean, healthy eating and cooking.
I figured it didn’t have to be all or nothing to reduce my ecological footprint and to start being more environmentally conscious in the kitchen. I began with seasonal organic and locally sourced ingredients -earth-friendly cooking doesn’t mean endless amounts of tofu or raw veggies. Instead, I hit up my local farmers’ market for some seasonal bounty. Wasting less food and cooking a tasty meal was paramount.
Spices are such an integral part of our Indian meals, that I wanted to find single-origin spices that are equitably sourced from countries with the best growing conditions, climate, and expertise to make sure that even the smallest pinch packs the biggest punch.
My friends who are chefs highly recommend Burlap and Barrel. I spoke to Ethan Frisch, cofounder of Burlap and Barrel, who used to be a chef and is working towards ending inequality and exploitation in food systems that disenfranchise skilled farmers.
“Mainstream conversations around food sustainability rarely consider the people involved in growing, harvesting, transporting, processing, and cooking food. Sustainability is discussed in terms of environmental impact, or the comfort of livestock providing meat, dairy, or eggs. We believe that the standard measures of sustainability must evolve to consider the conditions in which the farmers who drive global food supply chains earn their livelihoods. Single-origin ingredients draw attention to the unique environments in which incredible ingredients grow and to the farmers with the expertise and commitment to grow them well.”
With all the pieces in place let’s cook with sustainable recipes that benefit the earth, are delicious and beneficial to both our health and the environment.
Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
- 14 oz firm tofu or Veggie Smart ground (plant-based “beef” ground with 11 grams of protein)
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- ½ cup chopped onions
- 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts – about 1 cup, chopped
- ½ cup, chopped bamboo shoots (optional)
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon of powdered ginger (I have used Burlap and Barrel’s Buffalo Ginger)
- 1 head Boston lettuce or butterhead lettuce
- ¼ cup cilantro leaves for garnish
Peanut Butter Sauce
Mix together organic peanut butter (I used crunchy), honey, vinegar, olive oil, sriracha sauce, soy sauce, pepper, minced garlic, and salt.
- Heat a nonstick pan and add oil. Crumble the tofu or the Veggie Smart ground into the pan. Sauté the tofu/smart ground over high heat until the mixture starts to turn a light golden brown color. About 6/10 minutes.
- Lower to medium-high heat. Add the onions, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, and ginger/garlic. Sauté until the onions start to soften.
- Season with salt & pepper.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves
- Layer two leaves of lettuce on top of each other and spoon the tofu filling in the center. Top with peanut sauce.
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 cup uncooked couscous
- 1 medium cucumber, halved and sliced
- ½ cup frozen or fresh sweet corn
- 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- ¼ cup chopped red onion
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- A pinch of ground black lime (a yummy savory, tart flavor: I have used Burlap and Barrel’s black lime)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand for 5-10 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool slightly.
- In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, tomatoes, cheese, onion, corn, and parsley/cilantro.
- In a small bowl, whisk the oil, honey, black lime, salt, and pepper. Pour over couscous mixture; toss to coat. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until chilled.
Pistachio Cardamom Snowflake Cookies
- 1 stick soft butter
- ¼ cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
- ½ teaspoon cardamom (I have used Burlap and Barrel’s Clod Forest Cardamom)
- 1 1/8 cups sifted flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup finely chopped pistachio nuts
- In a stand mixer, mix together the softened butter, sifted confectioners’ sugar and cardamom till it’s a light and fluffy light golden color.
- Mix in the flour and salt. Then add in the pistachios. At this point, you can mix with a spoon.
- Once the nuts are thoroughly incorporated roll the dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and chill. The dough can remain in the fridge for a 1/2 hour or even overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- To bake, roll into 1″ balls. Place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet (I lined it with parchment paper). Bake until set but not brown, for exactly 8 mins (depending on your oven, but no more than 10 mins).
- While still warm, roll in confectioners’ sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again if you want a nice even coating of sugar. I didn’t do that to cut down on the sugar.
Mona Shah is a multi-platform storyteller with expertise in digital communications, social media strategy, and content curation for Twitter and LinkedIn for C-suite executives. A journalist and editor, her experience spans television, cable news, and magazines. An avid traveler and foodie, she loves artisan food and finding hidden gems: restaurants, recipes, destinations. She can be reached at: [email protected]