Peas, Leeks, and Arugula with Herbed Goat Cheese

How do you keep excited about cooking?

Lately, I've been struggling with being inspired about new cooking dishes. I want to cook. I have a lot of ideas for dishes. But I don't know which idea to go with. So, then I order a pizza. :/

When I get stuck in a rut and need some inspiration, I look to my local library. About a week ago, I requested a book and when it finally came in, I ran to the library - the book hasn't left my side since.

The Flavor Bible doesn't have recipes; it has recipe ideas. Love. Love. and Love. 

The first couple of chapters focus on how to build flavors and textures in dishes. However, most of the book is simply an index of ingredients with a list of other ingredients that go well with it. The author interviewed chefs from all around the world to get the list. 

In addition to ingredients that go well together, it also lists "affinities" or combinations of several ingredients that are used frequently. For example, a couple chocolate affinities are:

chocolate + ginger + orange
chocolate + lavender + vanilla
chocolate + cinnamon + chiles + nuts + seeds

I was stuck, and this book gave me pairing ideas to get me unstuck. You - my dear readers - get to benefit from it because this week's recipe is DE-LIC-IOUS!

I admit. I almost ate the entire 4 servings for lunch. It was that good.

The sweetness of the peas and leeks blend well with the bitterness of the arugula. The sourness of the goat cheese balances the whole dish letting the cilantro let in the freshness of spring at the end of each bite.

Peas, Leeks, and Arugula with Herbed Goat Cheese
4 servings | 20 minutes | Print

This versatile side dish goes great with baked tofu, but feel free to pair it with your favorite protein. 

2 ounces goat cheese
1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups sliced leeks
2 cups frozen peas
2 cups packed arugula (about 2 ounces)
freshly cracked pepper to taste

  1. Place the goat cheese in a large bowl. Add a few of teaspoons of water and mix with a fork until it is about the consistency of yogurt or sour cream. (The amount of water will vary based on the goat cheese, so add just a teaspoon or so at a time until you get it to the right consistency.) Stir in the cilantro and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the leeks and let cook, stirring frequently, for about 5-7 minutes or until soft. 
  3. Add the peas to the skillet and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until the peas are warm and plump.
  4. Add the arugula and let cook until wilted, about a minute. 
  5. Scrape the skillet mixture into the bowl with the goat cheese. Add plenty of freshly cracked pepper and stir to combine. Serve warm. 

Baked Tofu
4 servings | 70 minutes (mostly inactive) | Print

Baked tofu can be made several days in advance. Feel free to double the recipe as leftovers make great salad additions!

14 oz pkg. firm tofu
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked pepper
  1. Drain tofu and wrap in a dish towel. Place a plate on top and add something heavy (a bag of flour, dried beans, rice, bottle of water, etc.) to press the tofu. Let press for about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a silicon mat (or parchment paper) on a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Cut the tofu into 8 slabs (or whatever shape you want). Drizzle the olive oil onto the plate. Rub each slab of tofu in the olive oil. Sprinkle plenty of cracked pepper on both sides of the tofu. Place the tofu on the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip the tofu over and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve warm or chilled.

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