This Harvard-educated, Brooklyn-based lawyer backpacked around the world and pursued her foodie dreams.
Roasted Purple Sweet Potato Soup
2 pounds purple sweet potatoes, peeled 2 tbsp avocado oil, divided 2 tsp dried thyme Sea salt & black pepper to taste
2 red onions, sliced 3 garlic cloves, minced 1 serrano pepper, minced 6 cups vegetable broth 14 oz silken tofu Fresh parsley for garnish
11⁄2 tbsp olive oil 10-15 basil leaves 1 lemon (zest half, juice whole) 2 tbsp vegan parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 175°C/350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Chop sweet potatoes into 1⁄2 inch pieces. Coat potatoes with 11⁄2 tbsp avocado oil and toss with thyme and salt and pepper to taste.Place potatoes on baking tray and bake for approximately 30 minutes until tender and soft, ipping once halfway through. While potatoes are roasting, heat the remaining 1⁄2 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and salt and pepper to taste, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, add garlic and serrano pepper. Remove from heat.
Heat vegetable broth in a large dutch oven until it is warm and steaming, but not boiling. Meanwhile, drain the tofu and place in a food processor or high speed blender. Add salt & pepper to taste. Blend until tofu is thoroughly broken down and you have a thick, creamy texture. Once the potatoes are done cooking, transfer potatoes, onion mixture, and vegetable broth to a blender, working in batches. Place a kitchen towel over the center hole to allow steam to escape. Purée the soup until smooth. Continue with the remaining ingredients. Once all of the soup is puréed, return it to the Dutch oven. Add in the puréed tofu, and stir. Check for seasonings. Let the soup simmer for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with parsley.
Q: What is something new that you recommend us trying in the kitchen that many of us might not think of?
A: Boost the umami in your savory dishes. Umami, the “ fifth sense” or savory taste, is one of the best flavor-boosting weapons in your culinary arsenal. My favorite way to add umami is by using dried mushrooms. Using a food processor, grind dried mushrooms into a fine powder, and use as a seasoning along with salt and pepper in your savory dishes. Store in a tightly sealed jar in your pantry and it will last for several months.
Q: What ingredients do you think are underused at home when we cook?
A: Homemade salad dressing. Making your own salad dressing is simple and can transform a salad from flat to fabulous. For a simple vinaigrette, I use two parts extra virgin olive oil to one part balsamic vinegar, add a dollop of grainy mustard, a splash of maple syrup, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Buy the best quality oil and vinegar you can afford—it makes a world of a difference!
Q: Food secret you swear by?
A: The secret to eating healthfully is being prepared. I’m often too tired after work to cook an Instagram-worthy meal, but I can usually whip up something healthy because I always keep certain staples on hand. Every Sunday night, I stock my fridge with olive-oil-massaged kale, some sort of roasted vegetable, and a sauce such as pesto or cashew cream. And in my pantry, you’ll always find roasted nuts, canned beans, marinara sauce, whole grain bread, sweet potatoes, and tortillas. That way I can make crostini, tacos, a salad, or a wrap instead of ordering takeout.
Q: How has food impacted your life/health?
A: Since becoming vegan, I’ve experienced a boost in my overall health. I’ve always been an animal lover and an advocate of nonviolence. Now that I don’t eat animals or animal products, I feel like I’m finally able to live consistently with my values. I also feel physically better. These days, I get less frequent migraines, my cholesterol dropped over 30 points, and I feel more energized.