Tofu & Haricots Verts Stir-Fry with Moroheiya Noodles

Sometimes I just want to eat something vegetarian, gentle, and clean. Tofu and haricots verts is always a good place to start. I also found these fabulous moroheiya noodles at Whole Foods. (Moroheiya is a leafy green vegetable that's considered a superfood because of its rich levels of vitamins, minerals and fiber.) Unlike ramen noodles, they contain no fat, sugar, or cholesterol. These noodles take no time to cook and have an addictive chewiness to them. Definitely a pantry staple. The other brilliant ingredient I discovered is The Ginger People's Organic Ginger Juice, which is a time-saver if you want the essence of ginger without peeling and grating it. (Also great in tea!)


Serves 1

1/2 block of tofu, sliced then cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces
A handful of haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 stalks of scallions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large clove of garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon of organic ginger juice or freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
1 block of moroheiya noodles
A small bundle of fresh chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

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1. Fill a small saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and blanch the haricots verts for 2 minutes. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.

2. Fill the same saucepan with water. Bring to a boil and cook the moroheiya noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 

3. In a small bowl, combine the the tamari/soy sauce, ginger juice/grated ginger, and sesame oil. Set aside.

4. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add a slick of olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and stir with a wooden spatula until fragrant. Then, add the tofu. Let it get golden for a minute or two before stirring. Repeat until the tofu has an overall golden hue. Next, add the haricot verts and scallions. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour the tamari-ginger mixture evenly over the contents of the pan and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste, 

5. Turn off the heat. Using tongs, drop in the moroheiya noodles and toss to combine. Place in your bowl and garnish with fresh chives. 

Satdha Plant-Based Thai Kitchen

SATDHA PLANT-BASED THAI KITCHEN
2218 Lincoln Boulevard
310.450.6999


One thing I've noticed about L.A. is how prevalent Thai restaurants are. I swear, I see Thai restaurants everywhere! That being said, one of my favorite Thai restaurants also happens to be vegan: Satdha Plant-Based Thai Kitchen, which is located on the edge of Santa Monica and Venice Beach. The food here is vibrant and expertly spiced yet also very clean and healthy-tasting. For such a casual place, the presentation is elegant and considered. My go-to dishes are the kukicha (twig tea), kale chips, tom yum soup with mushrooms, and pad thai with tofu, which is garnished with fresh garlic chives. 

Croft Alley

CROFT ALLEY
8428 Melrose Place
No telephone number


My obsession with Croft Alley started when I saw a post on Instagram of a bowl of creamy-white house-made yogurt that was artfully drizzled with pure chlorophyll and decorated with glistening berries. Then I saw a picture of their baby kale & mint salad with perilla leaves and crispy shallots in a coconut dressing. These were just the kind of simple yet inspiring dishes that I always find myself drawn to! 

Needless to say, I quickly became a "regular", stopping in every chance I had when visiting L.A. from the ranch. I adore the staff there and now call Phuong, chef and co-owner, a dear friend. (They have this thing where they all say, very loudly, "Jessica DaaaAAAaang!" when I show up. Never gets old!)

This place is a challenge to find as there are no signs to point it out. It's literally tucked into an alley behind the more visible Alfred Coffee & Tea and therefore completely hidden from the famed storefronts of Melrose Place. But, of course, this is all part of its insider-y charm.

It's nothing short of a miracle what they can pull off in their tiny kitchen, which contains only induction burners and convection ovens! Everything on their well-edited menu is executed flawlessly, from the custardy French scrambled eggs to the golden-crisped tuna melt. (Believe it or not, they also serve pho on Tuesdays.) For those who are gluten-free and vegan, there are plenty of options that thankfully never taste like hippie food. 

Real food and real people. Gotta love that.

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*Croft Alley also holds private speakeasy dinners and provides catering. I had a small birthday dinner here last year and everyone loved it. We had miniature steamed Vietnamese rice cakes, heirloom tomato salad, kale & mint salad, prime rib roast, grilled broccolini, celeriac purée and panna cotta.

 

Nutritional Yeast

If you need motivation to eat more salads, all you have to do is sprinkle nutritional yeast on top and you'll be hooked on salads. The name doesn't sound very appetizing, unfortunately. I learned that it's also known as "hippie dust" or simply as "nooch" amongst inner vegan circles, which isn't any better, but it has a remarkably appealing nutty and cheesy flavor–sort of like the toasted version of Parmesan cheese. As you can see from the pic above, I sprinkle it very liberally on top of my salads (in addition to a simple vinaigrette), and, let me tell you, I cannot stop eating salads! Aside from it's addictive flavor, it's also a source of protein and vitamin B-12 which aids in forming healthy red blood cells and boosting your body's metabolism. I order the 8 oz. bag from Bob's Red Mill which I keep in a glass Mason jar on the kitchen counter so that I can readily access it!

A Very #singlegirldinner Christmas

It was the evening of Christmas Day. I stood in front of a graffiti'ed door in Alphabet City with a bottle of Prosecco, a bottle of red wine, and a plastic bag containing crispy roast pork and BBQ ribs that I had just picked up in Chinatown. Chinese food and Christmas—it was ironic, I'll admit, but also festive and strangely apropos. Tyann's apartment was this year's urban orphanage, a place for us city stragglers to congregate. There was no buzzer so I had to call. "Hiii! I'm here!" I said into my iPhone, dancing around a little bit to keep warm. "OK, I'm coming down!" the voice responded. Ah. Kim.

Upstairs, there was a nest of activity. Tyann was flitting around the kitchen, preparing two beautiful red snappers and a sea bass to be roasted. (Tyann, and only Tyann, can pull off making dinner in a green velvet Peter Pilotti dress with no apron.) Charlotte and Preston were overseeing Spotify and YouTube with red plastic cups in hand. "Can we change this song?" said our hostess, while in full concentration on dressing the fish. Kim poured me my own red plastic cup of chilled white wine. "I had an open bottle in my fridge and decided to bring it over," she said. 

Happy holidays. Welcome to a very non-traditional #singlegirldinner Christmas, where Tito's Handmade Vodka is welcomed as though it were a bottle of Dom Perignon and vegan pumpkin pie replaces bûche de Noël as dessert. (And also where a bundt cake pan is just as good as fancy china, as seen in the pic above.) It's a gathering for those whose significant others are away with their family, those who are stuck in the city because of work, those who have a family but not really, those who are in "it's complicated" relationships, those who really are single, and those whose idea of Christmas is just being merry with good people.