Zdir (Tunisian tomato-chili soup)

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Vegetarian No Comments

Read this article in the Atlantic yesterday and decided to give it a try. The article doesn’t give a precise recipe, so I’ve deciphered it the best I can below (making a minor substitution and leaving out the semolina). I just made it. It’s really damned good.

I really have no idea whether this can be properly called “zdir” since I’ve been unable to locate an actual recipe (or any other information) about it. Either way, it’s crazy tasty with a good solid spicy punch. If you don’t care for spicy food, skip the harissa and chilis. If you do like spicy food, you have to try this.

  • 2-3 dried red chilis (I used 2 Sanaam chilis)
  • 1 oz olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp harissa (this is a lot, I might halve this next time…it’s potent stuff)
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp ground caraway
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes + juice (28fl oz)
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 tbsp preserved lemon, chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olives, chopped
  • 1 tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried mint (or to taste)
  1. Soak chilis in a bit of water for 15-20 mins. Chop finely.
  2. Pour olive oil into a pot and heat over med-low, when warm add garlic + let steep for 5 mins or so. Don’t saute the garlic…just let it warm through and flavour the oil.
  3. Turn up the heat a bit and add tomato paste, harissa, and a bit of the tomato juice. Whisk together well and simmer for a few mins.
  4. Add chilis, caraway, and coriander to the paste. Simmer another few mins.
  5. Pour in diced tomatoes with their juices and the extra 1/4 cup of water. Add chopped sundried tomatoes, and mix well. Simmer over low/med-low for 20 mins or so. Add more water if needed.
  6. Optionally, if you have an immersion stick blender, use that now to chop up the tomatoes a bit. If you prefer a chunkier soup, or if you don’t have an immersion blender, just skip this part.
  7. Quickly rinse the chopped preserved lemon, capers, and olives (just to get rid of the excess vinegars/etc). Stir these into the soup. Let sit on low to heat through for another 10-15 mins.
  8. Remove from heat, stir in dried mint, serve.

Soba noodle salad with grilled tofu

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Vegetarian 2 Comments

Soba noodle salad & grilled tofu

Dinner this evening, sticking with the “meatless” theme, is a very simple soba noodle salad topped with grilled tofu.

Grilled Tofu

  • 2-3 1/2″ slices of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin (sweet sake)
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Splash sesame oil
  1. Mix soy, mirin, vinegar, and oil in a shallow bowl. Add tofu slices and marinate for 15-30 mins or so. Note: mirin is optional — it adds a notable hint of sweetness which may or may not be wanted. I’ll probably skip it next time.
  2. Heat a ridged grill pan over med-high heat until hot enough to instantly sizzle water. Grill tofu 3-4 mins per side (it will smoke and should develop good grill marks). That’s it.

Soba noodle salad

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Splash sesame oil
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 oz soba noodles (uncooked)
  • 1/3 c frozen edamame (out of pods)
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced carrot
  • Small handful baby spinach
  1. Whisk together olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, and ginger. This is a simple lemon/ginger vinaigrette.
  2. Cook soba noodles in boiling water for 4 mins. Before draining, add edamame and let cook for another minute or so, then add carrot slices and baby spinach and let stand for 20-30 seconds. Drain well and rinse with cold water until cool. Drain for 4-5 mins.
  3. Put salad in a shallow pasta bowl, top with grilled tofu slices, and pour over vinaigrette.

Very tasty and very filling. This is what I made for one (me) and I couldn’t finish it.

Soba noodle salad with edamame and tofu

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Vegetarian 2 Comments

Mark Bittman did something like this in his Minimalist article a while back, but his version was a little weird and involved entirely too much lime juice. I modified it for a second attempt and it was pretty tasty.


  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 oz soba noodles (uncooked)
  • 1 c edamame (out of pods)
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 c green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 c baby carrots, sliced
  • 2 tsp white or black sesame seeds

1. Whisk together oils, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, and ginger. This is really just a basic vinaigrette with soy and ginger. I just dump it all into a mason jar and shake like hell. Taste and adjust as necessary.1

2. Cook soba noodles until they’re at the texture you want. When done, rinse under cold water to stop them cooking any more.

3. Cook the edamame — I just cook it in boiling water (from frozen) for 2-3 minutes. Rinse under cold water until cool.

4. Put peanut oil into a shallow pan and heat. Dump in the tofu and fry ’til a bit crispy (this part is optional…you don’t have to fry the tofu, but it adds to the texture). Let cool.

5. Divide noodles into two big ol’ bowls, top each with edamame, tofu, green onions, and carrots. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the vinaigrette over each and a tsp of sesame seeds.


1 = I don’t actually remember the precise ratios for the vinaigrette, so this might not be quite right. Feel free to modify to taste.

Chickpea & spinach curry

Cooking, Food, Meatless, Recipes, Vegetarian 1 Comment

Modified a recipe for chana masala and came up with this. It’s really yummy and very easy. Almost no prep work, about 15 mins to get started, and 20-30 mins to simmer.


  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 4-5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tin diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 5oz or so baby spinach

1. Heat oil over medium in a 4qt pot. Saute onions and garlic for a 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add spices and stir well. It’ll be weird and a little lumpy, but don’t worry about that. Cook for a few more minutes.

3. Add lemon juice, stir well, then add the chickpeas and tomatoes. Bring to a low simmer, and cook uncovered for 20-30 mins. Remove from heat, and stir in the baby spinach until it wilts. Serve with brown rice or a tasty grain medley.

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