Have I mentioned how much Jon and I like to eat? Surely, I have. Because sometimes it feels like that's all we do. Whether it's snaking, cooking or eating out, the two of us do more than our fair share of consuming. The upside? We have a lot of fun doing it. The foodie in me always knew I would need to end up with someone who loved to eat and try new foods as much as I did.
Jon is a very adventurous eater. He has helped me expand my food horizons immensely. I've ventured out and learned to like oysters, mussels and clams thanks to him (Jon is a lover of seafood). But we've also had many foodie firsts as a couple. Whilst pushing aside the thought of what a certain food might actually entail, together we have tried bone marrow, sweetbreads (the thymus glands of veal, young beef, pork or lamb), foie gras and just last week, tongue tacos. Yep, it's been a lot of fun.
The downside of our gluttony? We've put on a combined weight of about 20 pounds in the four months that we've lived together. Interestingly enough, the two of us are also very active people. With winter setting in, however, mountain biking and hiking are becoming less likely weekend activities, while snuggling by the fire in front of the TV has become increasingly more common. More accurately, snuggling in front of the TV with a glass of wine in one hand and something edible in the other. Hence, the 20 pounds.
I think it's fairly easy to guess what Jon and I's New Years resolutions will be this year. Not only is the idea to shed that extra weight, but we would also like to introduce more vegetarian based meals into our diet. Vegetarian meals can be just as satisfying, hearty and delicious as those loaded with meat (perhaps, with the exception of a bloody ribeye...). The added bonus: a diet with more veggie filled meals is not only more friendly on the waistline, it's much kinder to your bank account as well.
So, in the spirit of "practice makes perfect", I thought it wouldn't hurt to test out some vegetarian recipes a little early this year. Don't get me wrong, Jon and I have yet to break our bad eating habits. I mean, who can really stick to a strict diet around this time of year anyways? But, as soon as that clock strikes midnight, you can bet that Jon and I are going meat free. Well, at least two days a week that is.
Vegetarian Wonton Soup
Recipe by Karlie Kiser
For the stock-
8 oz onions, coarsely chopped
4 oz leeks, outer layer peeled off and coarsely chopped
8 oz carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
6 oz celery, coarsely chopped
½ bunch parsley
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp black peppercorns
6-8 cups cold water
For the wontons-
8 oz firm tofu
1 ½ tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tsp chili garlic sauce (available in the Asian food section of most supermarkets)
2 scallions, minced (both white and green ends)
1 ½-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup carrots, julienned then minced
¼ cup water chestnuts, minced
½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
½ tsp Kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
About 25 wonton wrappers
For the soup-
1 lb baby bok choy, leaves halved lengthwise, then sliced crosswise
6 oz shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
½ cup water chestnuts
2 oz baby spinach
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1. Place all ingredients for the stock, with the exception of water, in a 6 qt. stockpot. Add cold water to cover contents by 1 inch, about 6-8 cups and simmer over medium heat 45 minutes to 1 hour; do not let stock come to a boil. Skim off and discard any impurities or foam that rise and settle on the surface.
2. While the stock is cooking, heat a skillet over medium heat, spray with non-stick spray and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and chili garlic sauce, stir and sauté for about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, scrape tofu into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
3. Once the tofu is cool enough to handle, add the egg, scallions, ginger, garlic, carrots, water chestnuts, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Mix together with your hands until just combined.
4. Put 1 wonton wrapper on a work surface (keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap). Spoon a rounded teaspoon of filling in center of square, then brush water around the wonton’s edges. Lift 2 opposite corners together to form a triangle and enclose filling, pressing edges firmly around mound of filling to eliminate air pockets and seal. Moisten opposite corners of long side. Bring moistened corners toward each other and pinch together. Make the remaining wontons in the same manner, repeating the process until the tofu mixture is gone.
5. Once the stock has finished cooking, stir in the bok choy, mushrooms and water chestnuts and season the broth with salt and pepper; continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes, until the bok choy is crisp-tender. Add the spinach, sliced scallions and wontons and simmer, gently stirring, for another 3 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
Makes 6-8 servings