Vegan spring rolls


Wrapped in rice papers crammed with crunchy vegetables and piled with a delicious marinated tofu, these spring rolls which I do agree are a much larger almost dumpling sized kin to their fresh and slimmer relatives are a perfect treat either as a snack or even as a post workout meal when eaten in huge quantities since these are annoyingly delicious and guiltless and making them isn’t nearly as tedious as one would think.

Of course cooking anything in the kitchen requires a bit of work and these aren’t as much work as one would think and in fact they’re rather fun to make.

The filling is entirely personal and often depends on what’s present in the refrigerator; also a great way to use leftover vegetables.

The ingredients which I used were tofu, thinly sliced carrots, capsicum, avocado, cucumbers, coriander and leftover roasted asparagus. Like I said, the filling depends entirely up to you and the contents of your fridge.

You want to slice your carrots in a way that they’re almost julienned, so begin by slicing them lengthwise

and slice them lengthwise again to get matchsticks

also slice the rest of the veg as thin as manageable.

Slice firm tofu in long strips and the firmer the tofu the better its tenacity to not crumble.

we need flavour in these spring rolls since everything else is going to stay raw and crunchy with a play on textures, the tofu in question needs to have a punch and marinating it for a few minutes really does the trick.

Sizzle the marinated tofu on a very hot pan with a drizzle of oil.

let it char on both sides for a minute or so

Before finally adding the marinating liquid the tofu sat in. Let it cook and bubble and get absorbed.

And here you have it. What was once a rather pallid looking block of protein is now a bronzed vivacious looking filling for our spring rolls.

Now for the assembly which is where the fun begins. You need a large plate filled with water which can fit the rice papers, a clean damp kitchen towel and all the accoutrements sat neatly in front so the conveyor belt process can work.

Begin by immersing the rice papers in water on both sides for a few seconds until the entire surface is wet but not wilting.

Then transfer it to the damp paper towel

and begin layering the vegetables. I start with coriander first just so the rolls look pretty after getting rolled up, however because I stuffed them to spilling the final outcome wasn’t prettiness but greed and so the layering didn’t much matter but if you want to make them look presentable and dainty then maybe fill them a little less audaciously.

then came leftover asparagus. It’s absolutely optional. You can instead use cabbage, shredded lettuce or whatever you feel like.

next came in avocado

closely followed by capsicum and carrots

and finally tofu and cucumbers.

Next comes the rolling part where you gently but with purpose and intent enclose the vegetables in their transparent rice veil by folding the now very sticky rice paper over in a manner of wrapping.

and fold the two opposite ends to meet the first roll. Doesn’t matter if there are small tears in the paper or if all the vegetables don’t stay inside the first fold because we will roll it again.

Keeping the wrapping firm

Since the rice paper is sticky it will stay glued and the chances of making mistakes are few. Roll it up until it’s a roll.

something like this and there you have it. Giant spring rolls to stave off any hunger pangs.


Ingredients

Rice papers: 4 to 5
Firm tofu: 200g
Carrot: 1 small
Capsicum: 1 small or half a large
Coriander: 1 large bunch
Avocado: 1 half
Cucumber: 1 small
asparagus: 3-4 roasted and halved.

For the tofu marinade
Sesame oil: 2 tsp
Light soya sauce: 1 tbsp
Apple cider vinegar: 2 tsp
Sriracha or any chilly sauce: 2 tsp
Brown sugar: 2 tsp

Recipe Instructions

Slice vegetables into thin slices. Cut tofu into strips and marinate for 5-10 minutes. Heat some oil in a pan and gently place tofu strips until browned or lightly charred for a minute. Turn them over and after half a minute pour the marinting liquid in the pan. Let it bubble and thicken for another half a minute before turning off the heat. The tofu should be glossily bronzed on both sides.

Lay out all the ingredients for the rolls in front and fill up a large plate, big enough to fit the rice papers with water.

Dampen a clean kitchen towel and keep in front. Gently lower the rice paper in the plate with water and wet it on both side for a few seconds. Do not let it begin to soften. Transfer on the damp kitchen towel and begin layering the paper close to the edge near you to form into spring rolls.

Once the vegetables are stacked, fold over the now soft and sticky rice paper once. Fold the opposite ends on the sides to stick over the first fold and roll again to seal the edges.

Enjoy with some soy sauce or your favourite dip.

Black rice salad


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This was a sudden salad in that it came to happen rather abruptly in my repertoire while I was experimenting with a bit of culinary expansion in terms of recipes and cuisines and the sight of black rice always invited me with such fascination and enigma that I caved in and bought a few kilograms to experiment with and this salad was the result of a thrilled happenstance.

I hadn’t expected the results to be as delicious because this is a fairly simple recipe but seeing how it’s near impossible to be content with a small bowl of this black rice salad I found myself making it more of it almost every chance I got.

Black rice tends to be far less starchy and more pronounced in its nuttiness and provides a perfect vehicle to harmonize with simple, accurate flavours that work in tandem.

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It’s a fairly large amount of ingredients and this salad works to serve not just as a side dish but also as a meal. Great as a post-workout snack or dinner this salad does double duty. The vegetables you use depend on their seasonal availability but as long as there’s crunch, piquancy and dried fruit to balance it all it can’t go wrong. A bit of sweetness in terms of dried fruit is most desirable because it elevates the mood, texture and taste of this salad.

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Chop the vegetables, cheese and chillies in fairly small pieces. Deseed the chillies if they’re too spicy.  I have also scooped the seeds out of this cucumber. It’s an optional step.

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Chop oregano and rosemary fairly fine. Use dried herbs if you can’t find fresh ones.

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Put the chopped cheese and vegetables into a bowl

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along with the herbs

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and raisins

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Add lemon and salt

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followed by a drizzle of olive oil

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and mix

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until evenly combined

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add cooked black rice to the vegetables and mix well.

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There we have black rice salad. Cover and let rest for at least an hour before serving.

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It is delicious, colourful and nutritious. Won’t you please try it.


Ingredients

Black rice: 250g

Tomatoes: 3-4 small

Cheese: 100g

Chillies: 2

Herbs: rosemary and oregano fresh or dried mixed herbs

Capsicum red: 1 small

Raisins: 2-3 tbsps

Olives: 2-3 tbsps

Cucumber: 1

Lemon: 1 tbsp

salt to taste

Olive oil: 2 tbsps

NOTE: To cook black rice soak them the night before or for at least 5-6 hours and cook using 1:1.5 black rice to water ratio.

Use whatever vegetables and cheese are seasonally and easily available.


Recipe instructions

Chop the vegetables and cheese into small bite-sized pieces. If using fresh herbs mince them fairly fine and add to the bowl with vegetables and cheese along with the raisins, salt, lemon juice and olive oil.

Mix well until evenly incorporated and add the cooked black rice and mix again.

Let sit in the fridge for an hour before serving.

Refreshing healthy salad


There are time when  I do feel the guilt of stuffing my face with comfort food every now and then, and considering my laziness I try and cook up something relatively easy to lower the guilt meter.It’s at these times that this easy as nothing salad comes to mind. Few ingredients, fewer work steps and lip smacking, tangy, juicy and delicious and oh so satisfying, and yes.. I do feel healthy the moment I apply it to my face.

the best part of this salad is the beautiful colours and the juiciness they render and the crunch in your mouth is veryyyyy refreshing.

Ingredients

1 cucumber

1 ripe, red juicy tomatoe

3-4 sticks of celery, leaves removed.

chopped coriander (optional. I didnt put any in mine, but it gives wonderful flavour)

juice of 1 fat lemon.

zest from the same lemon

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp chopped basil dried (you can use fresh if available)

that’s all folks…

chop them vegetables into not very tiny pieces and not too sizeable chunks either. Big enough to look pretty and small enough to effortlessly enter your mouth.

in another bowl squeeze the lemon and mix in the lemon zest. add in the salt, pepper and basil and mix with a frenzy to form a juicy, tangy dressing.. yummm. my mouth started watering as I wrote this.

Spread this all over your chopped vegetables and mix well to cover each vegetable piece with this wonderful dressing. If you like more salt in your dressing go ahead and add some.

Once everything is incorporated dig in, and feel less guilty about the cheese macaroni you had last night.