In between complaining about the cold and longing for summer salads, I sometimes remember that winter is one of the best times to get creative with your meals, and that ‘winter’ and ‘salads’ are not mutually exclusive. In fact, winter salads have become one of my recent go-to dishes. They take full advantage of unique seasonal produce and flavours, delivering a hearty meal that combines the health benefits of eating an abundance of fruits and veggies with the warmth we expect from winter cuisine.
Salads like this one display how healthy eating has to be neither difficult, nor boring and insubstantial even for an appetite as grand as my own (lol), provided you do your research and look beyond how salads are portrayed in popular culture. The key to making them filling usually involves adding a starchy base, such as potatoes in this recipe, and/or a protein. Tofu has to be one of my favourite protein sources for salads because not only can you cook it in such a wide variety of ways, but it also adds a chewier texture to accompany the overall ‘crunch’ of the dish. And if you aren’t a fan of tofu? No problem. Simply emit it or replace with a protein of your choice, such as black beans, lentils, tempeh… The possibilities are really quite endless.
The recipe whatismaria.com brings to you today (since when have I started talking in third person?!) is luxurious as both a main dish and a side. The subtly sweet, velvety flavour of the aubergines harmonises with the ‘crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside’ potatoes which in turn decorate your home in an aroma you will wish to retain for as long as possible (provided you don’t burn them, that is). Serve this straight away, or if meal prep is your cup of tea – store in the fridge for a quick, nourishing pacelunch.
Recently, a week or so of sub-zero temperatures and even a few snowflakes that melted before their collision with the ground gave way to milder temperatures, rendering anything that is not a steaming bowl of oatmeal or soup somewhat socially acceptable. Hence, I will be eating plenty of winter salads over the upcoming weeks. Let me know in the comments if you give this one a go, and whether you like to eat salads in winter too or prefer to keep them reserved for the summer!
Potato and Aubergine Winter Salad With Tofu
Luxurious and full of seasonal flavours, this salad is ideal as a comforting main course or a side. Serve straight away or keep refrigerated.
- 750g new potatoes, chopped into quarters
- 1 small aubergine, chopped into thin circles
- 1/2 block firm tofu (around 200g)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup purple cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1/2 cucumber, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- soy yoghurt, to serve
- Preheat an oven to 20 degrees C / 392 F. Boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until soft.
- Meanwhile, chop the tofu into bite-sized pieces and toss together in a bowl with the ketchup, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1 tbsp soy sauce and the lemon juice. Leave to stand aside.
- Drain the potatoes and wash with cold water. Cover a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the potatoes, sprinkling with the turmeric, the dried rosemary, the remaining paprika and 1 tbsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes, until crispy on the outside.
- Cover a separate baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, and lay out the aubergine slices. Drizzle with 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp olive oil, the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for around 20-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat some cooking spray in a non-stick frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the tofu and fry for around 10 minutes, stirring at frequent intervals, until firm and slightly crispy.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, the tofu, the cabbage, the spinach leaves, the cucumber, the cherry tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt if desired. Serve with the roasted aubergine slices and a few tablespoons of soy yoghurt.
Lots of love, Maria ♡
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Do you ever come across those ridiculously photogenic oatmeal bowls topped with exotic fruit sourced from the soils of Narnia on Instagram and sigh with jealousy? After all, given the popularity of oatmeal/porridge as a breakfast option, what percentage of the general population actually has the time to create a Louvre-worthy masterpiece before jumping into their daily routine?
Well, first of all, let us quickly address the question of Instagram vs. reality (something that will doubtlessly necessitate a blog post of its own in the future). For many people, myself included, food styling is a creative outlet, and those pretty bowls are tailored entirely towards their respective Instagram feed as opposed to being a realistic representation of what their creators eat 90% of the time. Sometimes, I will make a bowl of oatmeal whenever my schedule allows (mostly in the late afternoon), photograph it for Instagram and store it in the fridge to be eaten the next morning. In other words, if I have to make porridge right before my six a.m. shift, only a very large sum of money could induce me to post the un-photogenic but nonetheless delicious outcome on social media.
Moreover, spicing up your oatmeal does not have to require enormous amounts of effort and culinary/artistic talent. You can make it as pretty or as ugly as you like, and adjust it in accordance with your individual preferences (this may be something that oatmeal and bullet journals have in common?!). After receiving positive feedback on my step-by-step Buddha bowl guide, I decided to build a guide to oatmeal on the same principle for anyone who wants to go beyond microwave oats in terms of both taste and nutritional value. As always, feel free to skip any of the steps I outline below and/or add anything else – after all, it is your life, your oatmeal, and no one can tell you what to do!
1. Pick a milk Continue reading “How To Make a Perfect Oatmeal Bowl”
Before we jump into my obligatory ramble about the recipe, I would first of all like to wish you all an outstanding 2018. May you achieve everything you wish to achieve, finally live up to your New Year’s resolutions. May all of your dreams and intentions come true. And if they don’t? Well, any experience whether successful or unsuccessful, is worth learning from. You still have your entire life ahead of you. My 2017 was a year characterised by uncertainty and interminable ups and downs: I experienced some brilliant moments, many lows and had to make a few life-changing decisions. I learnt a lot not only about myself, but also the world around me and how I fit into it. Regardless of what it may be, I cannot wait for anything 2018 shall bring forth.
Anyway, as I am writing up this blog post I am totally dreaming of the celebratory meal we had last night. As you may or may not know, I grew up in Russia, and while Russian people do not celebrate Christmas, they have a strong New Year’s Eve tradition and much like Christmas it is a time for spending time with family, giving gifts, eating copious amounts of food (I am talking to the extent that at times, there isn’t enough room on the table for people to actually set down their plates). There is even a Russian Santa (‘Ded Moroz’), but he wears blue as opposed to red. And in general, food happens to be an enormous part of Russian culture: for example, if someone visits your home and you hadn’t prepared a three course meal for their arrival and brewed several cups worth of tea, you become the definition of impertinent. Continue reading “Russian Pirozhki With Two Potato Fillings (Vegan)”
There is something special about bringing a meaningful dish, a product of hard work and the occasional shed tear, to the Christmas table and witnessing all the important people in your life fall in love with it. Especially when that reaction is genuine – I’ve had a few food failures in the past that I nonetheless decided to present for the consumption of others and I could almost see the tears glistening in everyone’s eyes in response to my wannabe gourmet creations.
I, however, like to believe that I’ve become a much better cook since those dark days and like to make celebratory meals of any kind a pleasant experience. While I am writing this, Christmas is a mere two days away and I am very excited to cook for the family. Christmas, of course, is much more than just food and presents, the former is still a universal language that brings everyone together and makes you appreciate having the ability to sit around a table with your loved ones, enjoy the deliciousness, appreciate the spirit in which the festive season is conducted. Actually making the food is very special to me – my mum and I have different schedules and rarely find time to spend together in the kitchen, and when Christmas day comes around it is always exciting to see what we can make when we combine our best efforts. Continue reading “Three Party Table Treat Ideas (Vegan)”
I know I have been astoundingly bad at creating seasonal recipes and content in general, but I promise I will try my best to post something that is more in synch with the festive mood going around the Internet over the next couple of weeks. However, in my humble opinion this could count as a Christmas recipe? I mean, not only does its colour resemble a Christmas tree, but pasta could potentially make a delicious, even if somewhat unorthodox side dish for your holiday table.
During the winter months, I adore eating pasta whenever the chance arises. It’s very easy to make, super comforting and versatile. Definitely perfect for someone like myself, who struggles with dark evenings and cold weather (I know, I am probably the least stereotypical Russian you will ever meet). However, that is not to say that this pesto does not have a variety of other uses. It can be eaten on toast with some fresh tomatoes and dried herbs, stirred into salads, used as a dip for fries. I like to store a batch in the fridge for a couple of days and bring it out whenever I feel like adding a nice finishing touch to any of my meals.
Continue reading “Easy Pea and Avocado Pesto”
I don’t know about you, but there is something fascinating about what I eat in a day type content – I always enjoy these videos on YouTube, and blog posts detailing what a given person has consumed on a given day. Maybe I am just super nosy, but the enjoyment these bring me signalled that its time to make a little food diary of my own.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the abundance of people sharing what they eat on the Internet makes it very easy to compare what we eat to the diets of other people, and forget that every body is fundamentally different – we have different metabolisms, activity levels, genetics, just to name a few factors which determine what and how much we should eat. I am sharing this simply for informative purposes. People are often curious about what vegans eat on a typical day, and I aim to prove that it certainly isn’t ‘grass’/salad/rabbit food – as you will see later, my protein consumption is probably higher than your typical omnivore’s. Hence, you should take posts like these with a grain of salt. There is a big different between using them for inspiration, while eating in such a way that makes you feel great, and copying exactly what someone else is doing on social media as a means of achieving the same results.
I like to switch up my meals on a regular basis and unless I have cooked it in advance, will not have the same dish two days in a row. There are people who eat pretty much the same thing every day, and I am not one of them. Nonetheless, this day is pretty typical in terms of amount and the types of dishes I consume – abundant, high in protein and carbs, very colourful. Because life is too short not to eat all the carbs and colourful food (and it’s also too short for small portion sizes).
Breakfast: Acai Bowl with Peanut Butter, Medjool Dates and Raspberries.
Continue reading “What I Eat in a Day (Vegan and Healthy)”
I don’t know about you, but to me, toast will always be a classic, either as a snack or a full on meal. There are endless possibilities when it comes to toppings, and there is just something fundamentally cosy about a hearty slice of bread on a cold morning – essentially the only thing that can make crawl out from under my blankets (although, that probably my fault for sleeping with the window open, but I cannot deal with a stuffy room, at all).
I spent this weekend trying out new recipes, one of which was supposed to be a vegan version of a Russian classic – pelmeni, or boiled dumplings with mushrooms and peas. It failed. Badly. Not gonna lie, I wept a bit because it’s always a shame when you come up with a fantastic idea, but the expectations do not accord with reality and it quite literally falls apart before your eyes. After feeling sorry for myself and having something like an existential crisis, I decided to see the whole situation as a sign to make something that’s a lot simpler but definitely not inferior in terms of quality. After all, I am all about making vegan recipes accessible and easy to incorporate into any lifestyle, and toast couldn’t come closer to these parameters – it requires minimal preparation, can be eaten for any meal (although, does anyone else find it strange that we allocate certain foods to certain times of day?! this rule should apply to any food) and is perfect for lunch/bento boxes.
Continue reading “Three Vegan and Healthy Toast Ideas”