Food Blogger Cori Ashley Weighs in on the Value of Simple and Satisfying Foods that are Full of Flavor

I’m Cori Ashley, a longtime vegetarian, avid home cook and food enthusiast. Eating whole foods and cooking at home are the intertwined foundation of how I live. What can I create that would make me feel satisfied, fulfilled and content? My meals are built on in-season vegetables and fruits because I believe in their unprocessed, seasonal state.

January in the Valley is a month of contrasts for me. My days often begin with my hands wrapped around a warmed ceramic mug, spirals of steam rising from the hot beverage within it. By lunchtime, however, the sunlight is dancing through the leaves of the tree outside my office, and I’m underneath it, enjoying lunch and a warm breeze.  

It’s no surprise, then, that the meals I prepare in January contrast each other like the days of this Arizona winter month: roasted vegetables with hearty beans; zesty, herby grain bowls; nutty protein quick breads; and bowls of thick soup are on the same weekly menus as bright, citrus-based salads. It makes sense, in its own contradictory way, and provides enjoyment, variety and wholesome, soul-satisfying meals no matter your dietary needs.

Protein-Packed, Gluten-Free Quick Bread

Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Everyday Super Food (2015)

1 1/4-ounce package RapidRise yeast

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour

3/4 cup ground almond meal

1/4 cup toasted flaxseeds, ground

1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup roasted sesame seeds

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon, mixed seeds (chia, hemp, flax, sesame, etc.)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon dried herbs of choice (rosemary, thyme, parsley, etc.) 

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 egg whites, lightly beaten

4 tablespoons olive oil

Directions

1. Warm 1 1/4 cup of water in a liquid measuring cup to 110 F. Dissolve sugar in water, and gently add yeast.

2. Allow yeast to bloom for 5 minutes.

3. Preheat oven, with a rack in the center, to 375 F.

4. Spray standard loaf pan with cooking spray.

5. Line pan with a sheet of parchment paper, leaving some excess paper as an overhang.

6. Spray paper with cooking spray.

7. In large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Reserve 1 tablespoon of seeds to sprinkle on top of loaf.

8. Create a well in center of dry ingredients. Add oil, eggs and frothy yeast mixture. Stir gently.

9. Pour batter into prepared pan, and scatter reserved seeds on top.

10. Bake for 45-55 minutes.

11. Place bread on cooling rack. After 10 minutes, use paper overhang and lift bread from pan.

12. Cool completely.

Citrus and Fennel Salad 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 Ruby Red grapefruit

4 assorted oranges, tangerines or tangelos (reserve one to juice for dressing)

1 lemon

2 limes (reserve one to juice for dressing)

1 medium fennel bulb, fronds and outer layer discarded

1 head butter (Bibb) lettuce, core removed, washed and dried

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (or walnuts), coarsely chopped

1/2 cup feta, crumbled

1 small shallot, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives

1/4 cup fresh mint, cut into thin ribbons

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon lime juice

3 tablespoons orange or tangerine juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Directions

1. Remove the outer peel and pith from fruit by standing on end on a cutting board and, starting at the top of fruit, slice downward through peel and pith, following contour of fruit. (It’s OK if you remove a little of the flesh).

2. Turn fruit on its side, and slice into quarter-inch slices (grapefruit and oranges) and eighth-inch slices (lemon and lime).  Remove seeds.

3. Place fruit into large bowl.

4. Cut fennel into quarters, and cut a wedge from base to remove core.

5. Thinly slice fennel and add to fruit.

6. Sprinkle shallot, chives and mint over citrus.

7. In small bowl, whisk oil, juices, vinegar, salt, honey and cayenne.

8. Pour over fruit and fennel, and fold gently to coat evenly.

9. Tenderly tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces and pile onto four plates.

10. Arrange an assortment of fruit slices and fennel onto each bed of lettuce.

11. Scatter 2 tablespoons each of nuts and cheese across each salad.

12. Serve.

Gluten-Free Quinoa, Roasted Carrot and Chickpea Tabbouleh 

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup carrots, cut into quarter-inch pieces

2 teaspoons olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper

2 cups quinoa, cooked

2 cups flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, minced

1 medium shallot, minced

1 1/2 cups English cucumber, cut into quarter-inch pieces

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Juice from 2 lemons

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons honey

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon sumac (optional)

2 large ripe avocados, diced

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Spread carrot in baking pan, and coat with olive oil.

3. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Roast carrots for approximately 35 minutes until tender, stirring occasionally.

5. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parsley, mint, shallot, cucumber, tomatoes, chickpeas and carrots.

6. In small bowl, whisk juice, oil, garlic, mustard, honey, vinegar, salt and spices until smooth.

7. Stir into quinoa.

8. Fold avocado gently into tabbouleh.

9. Evenly pile into 4 bowls and serve.

 

You can connect with Cori online at CuriousVegetarian.com, on Instagram @curiousvegetarian and at RainbowInMyBowl.wordpress.com