Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery, When it Works: Split Pea Soup

Pureeing

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, when it works that is. When it doesn’t, well sometimes what you get isn’t so good, and sometimes it’s damn good. I’ve recently become addicted to the split pea soup at Fresh Choice – a dairy-free version with a vivid green color and a creamy, thick texture that’s not completely smooth.

Raw vegetables Sauteed vegetables

I tried to replicate it today. The version I made was delicious in it’s own right, although not a replica of Fresh Choice’s version. It’s more of a murky green color with flecks of orange (from the carrots) and a mostly smooth consistency with small bits of texture. Mine is also vegetarian and dairy-free, actually it’s vegan now that I think about it, and very filling. It also falls in the quick-and-easy, one-pot category.

With liquid and peas Almost perfect split pea soup

I’m going to continue to try to make split pea soup that is the same as the one that inspired me, but this is a good one to eat in the meantime. Read more of this >>

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Tofu Shirataki Noodles: Shaped Noodle Substitute

Tofu Noodles with Shrimp & Vegetables

I first heard about tofu shirataki noodles on one of the foodie website I visit often, LTH Forum. It was one of those threads that was interesting to read but pretty much forgot about. That is until Friday when I stopped into Whole Foods and the noodles happened to catch my eye as I made my way from the fish counter to the yogurt area. Sitting on the bottom shelf with the other refrigerated soy products in plastic bags filled with water, I suddenly remembered reading about these “shaped noodle substitutes,” which came in three thicknesses (spaghetti, angel hair and fettuccine).

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

I checked out the package and saw that the noodles were healthy, and I mean really healthy. Each eight-ounce package was two servings and were vegan, gluten-free and contained no sugar or cholesterol. Additionally, each serving had just 20 calories, 3 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0.5 gram of fat and 1 gram of protein. Not bad, right? So long as the noodles would be as filling as traditional noodles made from flour and eggs and taste just as good.

Needless to say, I couldn’t resist and bought a package of spaghetti, figuring it couldn’t hurt to give it a try. But something about using these noodles in place of traditional egg pasta didn’t seem right, such as spaghetti with marinara sauce. So instead, thinking about how tofu traditionally picks up whatever flavors it’s mixed with, I decided to use them as I would udon or ramen – in an Asian-inspired preparation.

And you know what? It was actually pretty good. I followed the advice from an LTH poster who said to rinse well, which was immediately apparent as soon as I opened the package and got a wiff of the noodles’ strong “aroma.” Not to mention it was quick and easy, and much better than the $0.59 ramen noodles I made last week when I was craving Asian noodles. There’s no exact recipe for this as you should season to taste, but here’s what I did:

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When the Sum is Greater than its Parts: Salmon & Cilantro Polenta

Salmon & Cilantro Polenta with Red Peppers

I have to apologize for only having a few pictures of this simple salmon and polenta dish. You see, I began taking photos as I was making it, but the further it went the more doubts I had that it would be blog-worthy. The idea was to use the keta salmon, which I bought for dinner last night but never got around to making, for a quick and easy lunch for one. I found some instant polenta in the cabinet, some leftover diced red peppers from earlier in the week, a lime, and a bit of minced cilantro. I had hoped that these flavorful and colorful ingredients would add up to a delicious lunch.

Throughout culinary school and restaurant jobs, the biggest rule was always to taste you food as you went along, which I did today. I kept tweaking the polenta, trying to make it into something edible as I could already tell it would fall significantly short of greatness. The keta salmon was something new; the guy at the fish counter at Whole Foods explained that it was wild-caught from Alaska and very mild in flavor but rich in fat and texture. The color was a light pink/gray, much different from the wild salmon I usually buy. Read more of this >>

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