Friday, September 25, 2015

Farfalle salad with edamame, tomatoes and feta

You can say it. Our past conversations, especially the last few episodes did, in fact, give you due reason to up the ante on your gym routines. I apologize.

Although, you should realize that I've given you enough to build on unfussy, often healthy menus to make mealtimes rank, but could do better to sift a bit more symmetry between blogger pages. There is the need for a reprieve from the recent sugar rush and it's imperative. Balancing scales, both the bathroom and the one where something other than desserts salutes forward is necessary to even out the health quotient and just put my conscience at ease.

Not that all I tuck into these pages is diametrically opposed to those that could have your yoga pants slip on a little bit better. And we have helped in that area too, I believe.

You all know, I obsessively compulse over anything with piles of sugar, a few sticks of fat and the different ways they magically combine. These days, this comes much to the annoyance of a certain 15 year old I share house with, who, when, seeing her mother shamelessly enthusiastically feed on what might be cake leftovers, proclaims, "Amma, you have to stop this, it's totally getting out of control." May I mention that this blasphemer is One of Two who greatly benefit from my sweet tooth as well. What do you do then when your adolescent child displays way too much wisdom for her own good?

Getting to the point and my conclusion in all this, I need to pack more salad into my life and BFMK pages, a department we are so-so lacking in. Remember that sporadic post for a DK contest? I got ahead of myself and contributed not one but three salads on a rare, ultraproductive day, and yes, they do make regular rounds on my table. Still, if I continued with even half of that motivation to create, click, type and share, I'd be Martha. Maybe not, but one can wish.

With pinterest taking you on brightly pixellated journeys replete with colorful suggestions for meal/dessert/outfit/nailcolor options, you're at ease. To make a choice between the zillion URLS it leads you to is a whole different matter, one of attention deficit-filled days and a thousand sleepless nights. However, this time I'd arrived after an industrious 5 2 hours of pingawking. Colored pasta. In a salad. Aha. Eureka. Bingo.

Painted with vegetables, the star of this garden show is farfalle fortified with superhero strength. Crunchy cucumbers, bright cherry tomatoes, softened edamame and meaty kalamata olives get brightened with red wine vinaigrette and a smattering of bold, salty feta. Through the boiling, chopping, spinning, shaking and mixing you will come to believe what I did, that this is noble work and might just redress the wrongs of the world, for sure your own life.

It's an assault of the flamboyantly loud, awesome flavors that jump out at you, bite after bite. Relentless in all its goodness, this feedsamultitude-bowl power packs yum alongside serious nutrional heft.

And the crayon box of hues could theme into your calendar throughout the year. With readily available components, you could make this your take-to-the-picnic/potluck/all-and-any season salad. Do we dare ask for more?

Not bragging people, this really is thebomb dot com, and I may be on a roll here. Who knows what could be next? Green smoothies and DIY face packs? Scroll down and you'll know what I'm talking about.
Farfalle comes on sale and what do you do? You buy supplies to build a warehouse and then take enough pictures to satisfy your soul.
Loveliness and lush of the natural. Waxing eloquent over veggie bowls will always and ever be quite a good thing.

Even though you don't need anything to make the salad obsessively better, you can turn it into a substantial meal with a sidecar soup, sandwich, perhaps even  thisthis, this.

  • pot of salted water( enough to cook the pasta)
  • 1 12 oz box tricolored farfalle (bowtie pasta)
  • 1 10 oz pkg frozen edamame, steamed in microwave
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if preferred
  • 1 ½ cup chopped seedless(English) cucumber
  • ½ cup pitted and halved kalamata olives (halve, if desired)
  • 1 medium sized red onion, diced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp salt or enough to flavor
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • Bring the large pot of salted water to boil. Add farfalle and cook according to box directions, taking off heat 1 minute before the prescribed cook time. Drain well, rinsing in cold water to keep from further cooking. Keep aside to cool.
  • Shell edamame. 
  • In a large bowl mix edamame, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, onions.
  • In another smaller bowl/bottle whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust oil/vinegar/salt/pepper if needed. Aim for a sharp, tangy dressing.
  • Drizzle oil-vinegar dressing over ingredients in large bowl. 
  • Top with parsley and feta.
  • Serve immediately or cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour before serving. Keeps upto 2 days.

Stay tuned. I have some audacious friends who have started to hound me for secret serums (ahh!)/ beauty masks. Don't know how I could be an expert in this, though, seriously, this might be worthy of a post or at least part of a spiel, One super easy DIY face mask. What say you? Do you think it'll fly?
He sees hearts as we see faces.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Friday, August 28, 2015

Vermicelli pudding (semiya payasam)

It's major, formidable onceinayear phenomena when a holiday possesses a whole region, so serious that when its own citizens take habitat elsewhere in the world, it's no surprise they share the party and make it bigger, posher than the original.

This is no small feat people, celebrations created around a Grand Vegan Menu, ranging in items from fifteen to thirty five, mostly sides to rice,  painstakingly prepared and creatively adorned on a 15 inch banana leaf that will serve as your plate for the time it takes you to finish those items. And how do you end a meal without a minimum of four, more like ten, different sweetmeats, taking food coma to a whole new level? It's no surprise that sleep is not a mere suggestion after the multicourse and you literally get evicted to rooms to take care of the glutton-induced- slumber edging into your very being.

It's the geographical confines that I bear roots from and have pretty much bragged on every chance I got, and the holiday is Onam, celebrated throughout Kerala, India's southernmost state, fondly known as God's own country.

Here then it is, my nod and salute to this favorite, all Malayalee-but-not-limited-to grand festival where public institutions close for days and ecofriendly floral carpets (made just for the day) dot State roads.

And no, I'm not carting any part of the innumerable curry inundated meal here. I believe the WWW is plush with Onam specific/ vegan friendly ideas. Instead, I'll showcase a bit of that banana leaf, the reverential spot where dessert is placed,

Even those that have no clue of what I've been talking about in these past too many sentences, will understand that you really don't need an epic celebration to make what could definitely be nirvana in a bowl.

Semiya payasam is vermicelli pudding's Indian name. Nonunderstadably, but for lack of a better one, the word pudding is used, yet doesn't quite bring it. Payasam reaches a greater destiny, one thats undeniably thick, lush, velvet with options of bite and crunch, something way beyond what pudding could ever aspire to be. Can you ponder thin vermicelli noodles hot-roasted and immersed in a nice blended base. One where milk and sugar unite to altogether wondrous much-likened-to-condensed milk magic. 

A few bites into and you get the softened chew of cashews, spoons flecked with spheres of pearlescent tapioca, those which lend dimension and depth to what is probably one of the easiest Indian desserts. Ever.

And really do you need an occasion to boil milk?

I know it's fascinating, this dialogue of culture and lore. But I think you've heard enough from me.

Create your own epic. Payasam. Holiday. Memory.

Until next time.

Happy Onam.

The vermicelli should cook just past al dente and not be noodle mush.

  • 1 tbsp tapioca pearls
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 2 tbsp cashews
  • 3/4 cup semiya or thin vermicelli
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 crushed cardmom(optional)
  • Soak tapioca pearls in 2 tbsp water for 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, add ghee to a skillet over medium, stir in cashews and vermicelli strands.
  • Allow contents to brown, including vermicelli strands. Take off heat and set aside.
  • In a separate deep wide set pan/dutch oven, add milk. Take heat to medium -high
  • Drain and rinse the tapioca pearls to get rid of any stickiness or starch. Add this along with sugar and cardamom to the milk. 
  • Keeping heat on medium, simmer contents, stirring at regular intervals, until pearls get semitranslucent about 10 -15 minutes. 
  • Add vermicelli and cashews at this point.
  • Bring to boil, then lower heat to simmer, occasionally stirring until vermicelli is soft and clear, an additional 12-15 minutes. By this time the tapioca pearls would be clear and the milk considerably thickened,
  • Serve hot or cool and refrigerate for 1-3 hours to serve chilled, a favorite here.


Although it's dreamy to use whole milk here, I've used 2%, and on most other occasions, skim.

You can drop the sugar amount to the level you'd like, though I'd not go lower than 1/4 of a cup, which would just barely be in the mildly sweet range.

Indian groceries have readymade roasted vermicelli in which case you could altogether skip the step of browning, save for the cashews. Just add it straight to the milk.

These specialized groceries would also be where you'd find tapioca pearls, known as sago palm pearls. These are of the small granule variety and need to be presoaked, should not be confused with the instant. No Indian market nearby? No problem! They're sold here.

Besides cashews, roasted raisins/dates are also added into payasam. You can pick/ choose/forgo as you please.

Another payasam story~
A star contender for the above said meal~
"Hear my voice when I call Lord, be merciful to me and answer me."
Psalm 27:7