Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth


In case you didn’t see on Facebook or Twitter- the winner of “Super Healthy Snacks and Treats”, picked out of 101 entries using a Random Number Generator, was…number 7- Janet from The Taste Space! Congratulations to Janet and thank you to everyone for taking part. I’m sorry I couldn’t give you each a copy! If you want to buy yourself a copy or ask for it for Christmas, it’s available from Amazon.com, Amazon UK or through the author’s website.

Now on to today’s recipe!

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

So my plan to try all the different varieties of squash out there this winter rather failed. I haven’t made it to the Saturday morning farmers’ market as much as I’d have liked, and when I have picked up squash I haven’t been able to identify them anyway! Recently I spied one I did recognize but hadn’t yet sampled- Kabocha!

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

Photo Credit: blog.cookingchanneltv.com

Kabocha is an Asian variety of squash, commonly called Japanese pumpkin. I think they’re rather cute, all short and squat, and cutting through the dull green skin revealed a brilliant orange flesh.

As I said, this was my first time trying it, and much as I’d read it described it had a very sweet, almost chestnut-like flavour and was softer and more starchy than other squash- quite similar to sweet potato in texture.

Considering its Japanese roots I thought I’d go that direction with it. I had seen a recipe in The Asian Vegan Kitchen for a side-dish of kabocha simmered with tamari and mirin, and turned it into a complete meal with chewy short-grain brown rice and greens in a soupy miso broth. A bowl of pure, nourishing, comfort food.

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth

Kabocha, Spinach, Brown Rice & Miso Broth:

1/2C Short-grain Brown Rice
220g/1/2 lb Diced Kabocha Squash (approx 1 1/2” pieces)- Simply remove the seeds and stringy fibres from the squash and dice, leaving skin on.
1T Tamari
1” Fresh Ginger, finely minced/grated
1/2T Mirin
1T White Miso
2 1/2C Vegetable Broth OR Water
2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
100g/4oz Spinach
Red Chili & Squeeze of Lime (optional)

Cook your brown rice first (You could also use other hearty grains like barley or farro) per package directions. Set aside.

In a small bowl whisk together tamari, ginger, miso and mirin until smooth and gradually whisk into the broth in a large pot.

Add the kabocha and simmer for approx 10 minutes (don’t boil) until the squash is soft but not falling apart. Add the brown rice to warm through and the green onions and spinach to wilt.

Finish with a squeeze of lime, and a little sliced red chili (optional).

Serves 2

Other squash recipes I’ve made this season:

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Linguine with Pumpkin & Chard

Warm Butternut & Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing

Miso Curry Roasted Squash with Crispy Chickpeas & Kale

Chocolate Pumpkin & Cranberry Muffins

Pumpkin Pie

I’m keen to try spaghetti squash too but it sadly remains elusive…

Do you have a favourite variety of squash?

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Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy Herbed Rice

Chli-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

I typically rely on beans and lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds for the bulk of my protein needs and am more than happy eating this way most of the time. Every now and again though I get a hankering for a good chunk of tofu or tempeh- perhaps the vegan equivalent to an omnivore’s steak cravings?!

Chli-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

If you’ve cooked with tofu before it’s almost inevitable that the first few times it was verging on inedible. Learning to cook tofu well is definitely something that took me some time. For the weekly @veganrecipehour chat on Twitter last week (Thursdays 8-9pm GMT #veganrecipehour) we were talking about all things tofu, sharing tips and recipes and so I dug out a few of my favourites from the archives:

Cauliflower Fried “Rice” with Grilled Asian Tofu

Nutty Crusted Tofu, Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Pilaf & Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Cheesy Tofu Scramble & Chipotle Sweet Potato Tacos

The key to good tofu almost always comes down to pressing and marinating. You need to first squeeze out the watery liquid in the tofu so it can soak up your marinade and give it the flavour it doesn’t have on its own.

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

I used a recipe similar to my simple Asian grilled tofu, then added a crunchy cornflake topping spiked with lime zest, chili and herbs before putting it in the oven to get nice and chewy.  In the pictures It’s shown cut into two but I would actually recommend cutting the rectangles in half again to get thinner slices for a better texture.

The tofu is quite spicy but the creamy, herbed rice is a lovely cooling contrast and will soothe your tingling lips!

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

Chiil-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy Herbed Rice:

1/2 400g/14oz pkg Firm Tofu, Pressed and sliced into 2 (or 4) rectangles
2T Mirin
3/4T Tamari
1/2T Lime Juice
1/2t Toasted Sesame Oil
1/3C Crushed Cornflakes OR Breadcrumbs
1 Small Chili, deseeded and minced
Zest of 1 Lime
1T Chopped Fresh Basil
1T Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

For the Rice:

1/2C Long-Grain Brown Rice
1/2T Olive Oil
1/4 Red Onion, diced small
1/2 Red Pepper, diced small
Large Handful of Spinach (approx 50g/2oz)
2T Chopped Fresh Basil
1/2C Unsweetened Non-dairy Yogurt
1T Lime Juice
Salt & Pepper

Combine mirin, tamari, lime juice and sesame oil, place tofu rectangles in a dish and pour over this mixture. Leave to marinade for a minimum of 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180C/350F

Combine cornflakes ( use a food processor or a rolling pin to crush them), chili, lime zest, basil and oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Transfer tofu to an oven-proof dish and top with the cornflake mixture.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Cook brown rice according to pkg instructions. I use the absorption method.

Sauté onion and pepper in the oil until soft (5-10 mins) then stir through the spinach just to wilt.

Add the vegetables to the rice along with the yogurt, basil and lime and again season well with salt and pepper.

Serve alongside the baked tofu.

Serves 2

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly link-up, Wellness Weekends.

Chili-Lime Crusted Tofu with Creamy, Herbed Rice

If you liked the dish I brought along to the Virtual Vegan Potluck- Vegan Crepes with Date & Orange Compote & Cinnamon Ice-Cream-I’d really appreciate you voting for Coconut and Berries in the dessert category. You can select your favourite for each of the 8 course categories here. Thank you!

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Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf


Hope everyone had fun at the Virtual Vegan Potluck at the weekend! I was happy to bring my dessert along to the party and enjoyed seeing what everyone else came up with.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

I’d been doing well so far this autumn in avoiding any lurgies but I finally succumbed to a cold over the weekend- I’m blaming my Mum who came to visit last week, and she’s apparently blaming her boyfriend (Thanks James!). It takes a lot to keep me out of the kitchen but admittedly my energy was pretty zapped and cooking wasn’t high on the list of things I felt like doing at the weekend.

All the same, a girl’s got to eat- “feed a cold” and all that. Not to mention I wanted to share a new dish with you today, so I pulled myself to my feet and into the kitchen, and this is what I came up with.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like  roasted squash. It’s probably the highlight of the season’s vegetables for me. Roasted with spices and olive oil then combined with chewy barley, lentils, a few extra accents and a sweet and tangy dressing, this really hit the spot. I made a large batch too so if my energy levels are dragged down this week I’m good to go with a nutritious meal waiting for me in the fridge.

Since the blogosphere is abuzz with talk of Thanksgiving, not much more than a week away (!), I couldn’t help but think of my American readers when making this dish. It would be a good one to serve on the big day- colourful, vibrant, tasty: a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf:

(Adapted from BBC Good Food & The Kitchn)

1/2C Pearl Barley (For GF use Brown/Wild Rice or another hearty GF grain)
1/2C Puy Lentils
Small Butternut Squash (approx 680g/1 1/2lb), peeled and cubed
1T Olive Oil
1/2t Ground Cumin
1/2t Ground Coriander
1/4t Cinnamon
1/4t Garlic Powder
Large pinch of salt
1/3C Raisins
1/3C Pumpkin Seeds, toasted (Reserve 1-2T for topping)
1/3C Finely Chopped Red Onion
1/2C Roughly chopped Parsley

3T Orange Juice (fresh)
1T Red Wine Vinegar
1T Extra-virgin Olive Oil
Salt + Pepper (to taste)

Preheat oven to 200C/400F

Cook lentils & barley in two separate pots according to package instructions. Barley typically takes 40-45 minutes and puy lentils approx 25 minutes. When al dente, drain and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cubed squash with olive oil, spices and a large pinch of salt. Spread in a layer on a baking sheet and roast for approx 25 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, whisk together the dressing ingredients and add to barley and lentils along with the raisins, pumpkin seeds and red onion. Toss well.

Finally, fold through the roasted butternut and the parsley, transfer to a serving dish and scatter the remaining pumpkin seeds on top.

Serves 4 as a main, 6-8 as a side

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly blog-party, Wellness Weekends.

Butternut, Barley & Lentil Pilaf

Are my US readers ready with your menus for Thanksgiving yet? What will you be making?

P.S. This is your last call to enter to WIN a copy of the beautiful vegetarian cookbook “Tibits at home”. Winner will be announced Wednesday (UK readers only)

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In my Kitchen Lately



I’m back from a few days in London where I did absolutely no cooking whatsoever. There are too many good restaurants and cafés (and Wholefoods…!) and as I’m not visiting very often at the moment I feel like I have to make the most of the options when I am there.

Back in Bath I pretty much never eat out and I think we’ve established by now that I love spending time in the kitchen! When I’m not coming up with recipes for the blog I’m trying recipes from my favourite cookbooks, lately I’ve been enjoying some new ones (more on that to come though), and also trying out recipes from other bloggers.

After Vegan MoFo in September, I said that I wanted to squeeze in some time to do this and I figured, as I photographed what I made anyway,  it might be nice to share the successes and point you to the recipes from some of my favourite blogs.

So, without further ado, here’s a little more of what’s been happening in my kitchen lately:

Pumpkin Pancakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Sauce

I have pancakes at least once a week so think of myself as a pancake connoisseur of sorts. I’m actually not going to tell you where I found this recipe as I didn’t love it. They were just a tad tough. The “Maple Cream Cheese Sauce” from the Vegan Cookbook Aficionado, however, was fantastic. It had a pleasant tanginess to it but was still plenty sweet and most definitely redeemed the lacklustre pancakes.

Kale Salad with Apricot-Ginger Dressing, Apples & Walnuts

Kale Salads are one of my favourite ways to eat kale. This “Kale Salad with Creamy Apricot Ginger Dressing, Walnuts and Apples” from Gena of Choosing Raw was delicious and nice and autumnal. You’ll want to clean out the blender really well to get every drop of the dressing out!

Kale Salad with Apricot-Ginger Dressing, Apples & Walnuts

Back when the Canadians were celebrating Thanksgiving I kept seeing lots of beautiful holiday dishes appearing all over the blogosphere and decided to make something a bit more festive myself. This lovely tart from Dreena Burton’s “Let Them Eat Vegan” is aptly named, “Festive Chickpea Tart”, and is packed with savoury herbs and cranberries for lots of flavour, along with chickpeas, walnuts and oats to make a really hearty meal. Luckily for those of you who don’t have the book, Dreena’s kindly posted the recipe on her site, Plant-Powered Kitchen too.

Festive Chickpea Tart

A fresh, zingy salad was the perfect pairing. I chose a recipe I’d seen ages ago on Oh She Glows- “Holiday Salad with Apple, Pear, Cranberries & Walnuts”. I’ll definitely be making the Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette again.

Holiday Salad with Apple, Pear, Walnuts & Cranberries

My final pick to share today is the “Kale & Sweet Potato Quesadillas” from Oh My Veggies. Lots of my favourite ingredients here- kale, sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, black beans and smoked paprika,  so it was a given that I would like this one really. As Kiersten points out, these aren’t really “quesadillas” since there’s no “queso”, but they’re no less tasty for it.

Kale & Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I served them with a quick homemade salsa, a squeeze of lime and sprinkle of fresh coriander.

Kale & Sweet Potato Quesadillas

Hope you check some of these recipes out.

Now it’s your turn! Are there any recipes you’ve made from other blogs recently that I simply have to try?

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Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream


Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Food is such a great source of memories. From big family feasts to a particularly pleasant summer’s day involving ice cream….

Chili is another one of mine. I don’t think I’d ever had a proper chili until I visited New York a few years ago. It was a cold September’s day and we took a break from sight-seeing to grab lunch in the Grand Central Station Food Court. We opted for steaming cups of vegetarian chili and pieces of sweet, crumbly cornbread. I’ve been a fan ever since and often make chili dishes, accompanied by the obligatory cornbread, and think of our fun trip to NYC Smile

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

This is a simplified version of chili, blended up into a thick soup for maximum creamy comfort. It’s not too spicy, but even so I like to have a cooling contrast to go with it, and the tangy avocado-lime cream filled that role perfectly.

I took the opportunity to try a new cornbread recipe out as well. These muffins are from Isa-Chandra Moskowitz’s latest book “Isa Does it”. My favourite cornbread is still the Corn & Scallion version from another book by the same author,“Appetite for Reduction”, but these were still pretty good.

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

I don’t think I need to tell you how nice it was to come home to a big bowl of this after being outside in the cold and rain. A big thank you to whoever invented soup!

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream:

1/2T Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, diced
1 Medium Carrot, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
1 Stalk of Celery, chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1T Ground Cumin
1T Mild Chili Powder
1/2T Dried Oregano
1 1/2T Tomato Paste
3C Vegetable Broth
1 1/2C (1Can) Kidney beans
1/2t Salt

In a large pot, sauté the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil for approx 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and spices and continue to cook for a further minute.

Add the beans, vegetable broth and tomato paste. Bring to a boil then turn down the heat and allow to simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Use an immersion blender to blend until fairly smooth. I like a few chunky bits in mine.

Serve topped with a generous spoonful of the avocado-lime cream and cornbread on the side.

Avocado-Lime Cream:

1 Medium Avocado, scooped out
Juice of 1 lime (2T)
1T Olive Oil
Pinch of salt
1/8t Garlic powder
1/2C (loosely packed) Fresh Coriander/Cilantro

In a food processor combine all ingredients except for the coriander and process until smooth. Pulse in the fresh coriander.

Serves 4 (or 2 huge bowls, as pictured)

I’m submitting this recipe to the weekly link parties, Wellness Weekends and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

Chili-Bean Soup with Avocado-Lime Cream

Do you have any vivid food memories? Please share!

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