Power Plant Cafe, Templestowe

Today I’m talking about eating out – something that I am no stranger to, and certainly enjoy. I have every second Friday off, and while I usually spend these days doing personal admin kind of stuff (seriously, how do people survive on full time employment?), I also like to enjoy the occasional brunch on these days as it’s so nice to be able to avoid the craziness of the weekend cafe rushes. I’d heard rumours of a recent menu change at Power Plant Cafe, so the Bear, one of our housemates and I decided to head out there and check it out. It was a cold, wet and miserable “spring” day, which once again meant that we didn’t get to sit in the outdoor area. Regardless, the indoor area was as bright, open and fresh as ever.

This particular day, our breakfast got pushed back to brunch, and brunch to lunch so by the time we got there I was starving. So while I knew from past experiences that options such as their macro bowls are delicious and nutritious, they were not appealing to me in that moment. I needed solid, carby goodness.

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With that in mind, the Bear and I agreed to split two dishes – choosing the Brekkie Burger from the specials board and the Reuben. My housemate went for the Brekkie Burger too. The Reuben consisted of corned tempeh, sweet onions, house made pink kraut, horseradish dressing and a side of crisps. The horseradish was a little overwhelming in the first bite, however I adjusted to it quite quickly and enjoyed the different spin on the sandwich. It was perhaps a bit sweeter than the other reubens I’ve tried, though I appreciated the tempeh as something different from usual mock meats. In saying that, the Smith and Deli Reubenstein is still number one in my heart, sorry Power Plant.

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I asked for carby and carby was what I got with the Brekkie Burger. Inside was a hash brown, a slice of a kind of eggy quichey thing, tomato, rocket and a cheesy sauce. I had thought that the tempeh bacon was going to be in there too, but it was probably a good thing it came as a side as I’m not sure I would have been able to get my mouth around it otherwise. The bun was perfectly soft and flour dusted, and on the whole this was just what I needed.

Not pictured are the bowl of fries and aioli we got for the table. I was a little disappointed to find they weren’t the smoked paprika coated fries of previous visits, but they were still delicious and the aioli so damn creamy. We also had coffees and remembered to request Bonsoy rather than the standard soy (Vitasoy?) they have on offer. We were far too full to have any cake afterwards, and racked with too much indecision to choose something to take home, though the Bear got a free mini cupcake with pink icing and hundreds and thousands to celebrate Plant Power’s 1st birthday which he was pleased with. It was very cute, though disappeared before I even got the chance to ask for a picture of it. With the first year under their belt, Power Plant have also decided to extend their opening hours to 7 days giving us plenty of time to treat ourselves with their goodies. Hoorah!

Power Plant Cafe
2-6 Swilk St, Templestowe
Open 7 days – 8am – 3.30pm

 

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Quick and Easy Spicy Noodle Soup

Today’s recipe fits in well with today’s theme of “your easy cook meal”. Last year there was a similar prompt of “quick, easy and delicious” for which I made these zucchini and sweet potato fritters with sumac yoghurt. This time I’m sharing an Asian inspired soup that is (in my opinion) equally quick, easy and delicious.

I always have various ingredients on hand to make a noodle soup of this nature, and it’s great as it’s a really flexible meal. You can easily mix up some of the flavours with different sauces and spices, and use whatever veggies you have – depending on how I’m feeling and what I’ve got I might use broccoli, cabbage, capsicum, spinach or bean sprouts. A squeeze of fresh lime never goes astray either. But the point is, it’s a satisfying meal that can be whipped up fairly quickly and without too much stress.

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Spicy Noodle Soup

(Serves 2)

2 tsp sesame oil
4 button mushrooms, sliced (approx 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 birds eye chillis, minced (or less, according to your taste)
3 cups veggie stock

200g firm tofu, sliced into small rectangles
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mirin
2 instant noodle cakes (approx 150g)
1 carrot, sliced with julienne peeler
2 small bunches bok choy, ends removed

Optional garnishes:
Spring onion
Fresh coriander
Black sesame seeds
Garlic chilli sauce
Sriracha

Heat 1 teaspoon of the sesame oil in a pan over medium high heat and add tofu. Cook until golden brown on most sides, approx 10 minutes. Turn off heat, and pour 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce over. Set aside.

While this is happening, heat the other teaspoon of sesame oil in a decent sized pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute for approx 1 minute. Add garlic, ginger and chilli and saute for another 30 seconds, being careful not to let them stick. Add vegetable stock, the other 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and mirin, and bring to a boil. Turn down and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Prepare other veggies and garnishes while waiting.

Add noodle cakes and cook according to packet, until tender. Turn off heat and add bok choy to the pot, covering with a lid to allow to steam slightly.

Divide noodles and bok choy between two bowls and pour over liquid. Add tofu, carrot and desired garnishes.

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Rosemary Syrup & Rosemary Gin Fizz

Hello and welcome to Vegan MoFo 2016! Isn’t it great to be back here? For those who aren’t aware, MoFo stands for Month of Food, and it’s an annual event during which everyone talks about vegan food every damn day. Sound good?

From the Vegan MoFo website:
As the world catches on that vegan food really is the best choice for animals (suck it, humane meat!), the planet (bite me, melting ice caps!) and people (piss off, heart disease!) let’s show them what vegan eating is all about.

I wasn’t planning to participate this year, as we all know how time consuming it can be and frankly, I haven’t even been posting once a month let alone once a day since who knows when. But at the last minute I had a change of heart – probably a bit of FoMo to be honest – and signed myself up. HOWEVER, I am aiming low – I know I won’t be able to do a post a day this year, so am going for a couple a week instead. I’m just glad to be a part of it, as despite the stress it is always so much fun.

This year there are three options for participation – choose your own theme, go with the weekly themes provided or stick to the daily themes. I didn’t really give myself enough time to plan my own theme, so instead I’m following the weekly themes while sometimes touching on the daily prompts. The first week’s theme is “treat yourself”, and as we move into the warmer weather I thought what better way to treat myself with a refreshing cocktail, while giving a big cheers to all participating this month, in whatever capacity. Happy MoFo!

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A nice and easy one too! First I’ll hit you up with a recipe to make rosemary sugar syrup, after which you can make these babies until your heart’s content. For this recipe, I’ve used castor sugar to produce a nice clear syrup, but you can also use raw sugar for a golden brown syrup – this is lovely in cocktails with darker spirits.

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Rosemary Syrup

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
5 sprigs rosemary (approx 10cm)

Stir sugar and water together in a pot, then slowly bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Once sugar has dissolved, add rosemary sprigs and boil for a further minute. Turn off heat, cover, and allow to steep for 1-2 hours. Keep refrigerated.

Rosemary Gin Fizz
(makes 1)

60ml gin
15ml fresh lemon juice
15ml rosemary syrup
Ice
Soda water (approx 90 – 120ml)

Pour gin, lemon juice and rosemary syrup into a cocktail shaker with some ice and shake.

Pour over ice in a glass, top up with soda water. Garnish with fresh lemon and rosemary.

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Spicy Chickpea and Coleslaw Tacos

Duuuudes! I can’t believe it’s the last day of MoFo and I didn’t even catch up on my posts! I’m going to be defiant and keep posting my ones that were meant for the last days as they are done and I do want to share them with you. The last week or so I’ve found myself with very little time to post, and even less to read other peoples’ blogs so I do apologise for that, and hope that once MoFo is done I can belatedly catch up on some of the action.

Tacos VS Burritos. Where do you stand on this important issue?

Truth be told, I love them both. But as last MoFo I shared a burrito so this time I thought it was only fair to give tacos some time. I do like tacos because I feel that I can eat more of them in one sitting, whereas I can only stuff one burrito down without feeling like I’m going to puke. Plus they always look so fresh and colourful, and you get to see everything that’s in them straight off the bat.

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I have to stress to you how easy these are to make. Most of it is down time, waiting for the chickpeas to cook – the rest is just throw it together. My kind of meal. And I’m so excited with the weather being the way it has been – warm nights just screams tacos and beers in evening sun.

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I am also loving the colour of these – the chickpeas are so vibrant, particularly alongside purple cabbage and some fresh greenery. It’s a rainbow eater’s dream!

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Spicy Chickpea and Coleslaw Tacos
(makes 10)

10 tortillas
Small bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Fresh lime wedges for serving
Hot sauce for serving (optional)
2 avocados, diced

Chickpeas
3 cups cooked chickpeas
¼ cup hot sauce (I used Frank’s)
1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground coriander

3 Tbsp olive oil
Pinch of salt

Coleslaw
3½ cups purple cabbage, shredded
2½ cups grated carrot
¼ cup vegan mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp water
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220C and line a baking tray with paper.

Place chickpeas in a bowl. Whisk together remaining ingredients for the chickpeas, then pour into the bowl and stir until all combined. Pour out chickpeas onto the tray and spread into a single layer. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, stirring with a spatula a couple of times along the way.

Meanwhile, prepare the coleslaw. In a small bowl, combine mayo, lime juice, water, salt and pepper. Mix up cabbage and carrot in a large bowl, then pour dressing over it and mix well to combine.

Cook tortillas according to directions – we used white corn tortillas and lightly pan fried them on either side. To assemble, place some chickpeas, coleslaw and avocado on each tortilla, then top with fresh coriander, a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce.

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tomatoweb

 

Strawberry Watermelon and Basil Icy Poles

Another belated post, lets pretend that this was shared on Sunday okay?

Favourite herb or spice.

This was hard because I love lots of herbs and spices, but ultimately I decided to go with my original favourite herb. By original, I mean I think that basil was the first herb I ever became quite enamoured with in cooking. The smell of a fresh bunch is like nothing else! But what to share with you? I’ve already done multiple pesto recipes, so it was time to go down a different path. I’ve also made strawberry basil dehydrated fruit leather in the past, but with the warm weather coming back I thought it more appropriate to share something a little more suitable.

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It’s been so exciting to see berries and watermelon start making more frequent appearances around the place. Oh yes, summer is coming! I am a big fan of the combination of strawberry and basil, and of watermelon and basil, so how could this go wrong? If it ain’t your jam though, mint makes a great substitute as well.

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Strawberry, Watermelon and Basil Icy Poles
(makes 6)

1 punnet strawberries (250g), stems removed
450g watermelon, chopped into chunks
Approx 10 large basil leaves
2 Tbsp agave (optional)

Place strawberries, watermelon and agave (if using) in a blender and blend until smooth. Add basil leaves and pulse a few times. Pour evenly among icy pole moulds and place in freezer overnight.

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broccoliweb

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach

After a bit of a crazy weekend I didn’t get a chance to post the last few days, but had already prepared posts. I’m going to go ahead and share one tonight and hopefully a few tomorrow to catch up, as I’d like to get back on track for the last few days of MoFo.

It’s cold and rainy and there’s a snow drift outside your door! What are you going to make using the ingredients you have?

For a long time, pearl barley was one of those things I would buy and it would sit at the back of the cupboard forever, until that first time I tried it. The nutty, chewiness is what I love, and the reason I think it makes a perfect risotto. We also pretty much always have spinach and mushrooms, as they are boyfriend bear’s favourite breakfast constituents and we seem to have an abundance of lemons always from housemates’ parents or workmates or even the yard down the road that we sometimes sneak into.

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So even though we’re edging away from the cold, snow-at-your-door weather (okay, so we never get snow at the door), this is the perfect thing to cook in that kind of weather. Also great about risotto is that you can pretty much cook it using anything you’ve got on hand – veggies, herbs, spices. It always seems to work out filling, hearty and generally delicious.

Also, I took the ingredients over to my parents’ house to cook and even my dog wanted in on the action –

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She knows what’s good!

Pearl Barley Risotto with Mushroom and Spinach
(serves 4-6)

1 Tbsp oil
1 brown onion, diced finely
1 leek, sliced
250g mushrooms, sliced
3 cups baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups pearl barley
½ cup dry white wine
4 cups hot vegetable stock
2 Tbsp lemon zest
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ cup flat leaf parsley, plus extra for garnish
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a pot over medium and add onion and leek, cooking for about five minutes until translucent. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook a further couple of minutes. Add pearl barley and cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in white wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated, a couple of minutes. Now start to add stock, one ladle at a time, and allow to gently simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed before adding the next ladle full. Continue to cook like this, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed.

Add lemon zest, juice, parsley, nutritional yeast and spinach and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with extra parsley.

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cornweb

Baba Ghanoush

Share your favourite cuisine.

Today was a tough one to settle on, as even after so many years on this planet I’m still not 100% sure what my favourite cuisine is. If you asked me as a child, I definitely would have said Italian. I loved pasta. Mexican was also up there. Since my tastes have developed (thank goodness), I enjoy newer favourites of Japanese, Vietnamese, Ethiopian, Indian and Moroccan, to name a few.

But at the end of the day, the decision about what to make was influenced strongly by the supply of eggplants in my kitchen. And so I turn to Middle Eastern cuisine to bring you this simple version of baba ghanoush. I call it a simple version as instead of holding eggplants in a flame or under the grill to blister the skin, this is a kind of ‘express’ baba ghanoush for when you want the dip but without all the messy peeling and time spent standing over a burner. In skipping this part a little of the smoky flavour is lost, which is why I like to add a dash of liquid smoke – what a cheat!

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Baba Ghanoush

2 medium eggplants
generous amount of salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp tahini
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
dash liquid smoke (optional)
olive oil for cooking and extra to drizzle on top

Peel eggplants and slice into inch thick rounds. Sprinkle with salt and leave in a colander to drain for about 15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

Preheat oven to 280C and line a baking tray with paper. Lay eggplant on tray and brush with olive oil. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, flipping once. Remove from oven. From here, you can either use a blender or just a fork depending on what consistency you prefer. I like a little chunkiness, so I transfer the eggplant flesh to a bowl and mash with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and mix to combine.

To serve, top with olive oil and some fresh parsley (and with some pita chips!)

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tomatoweb

Hazelnut Choc Chip Cookies

I haven’t done much (read: any) experimenting with aquafaba until now, and I wouldn’t even say that this was very experimental, considering the meringue stuff that has been going on (SRSLY!). I did attempt a sponge cake in which I got to whip the aquafaba up and see it form peaks – a pretty amazing sight indeed. The sponge cake itself wasn’t what I had hoped, it was still dense rather than the light and fluffy I was going for. In these cookies, I had hoped the aquafaba would create this mad chewiness, but it didn’t happen to the extent I had intended. I don’t really think the aquafaba is even that necessary here. Regardless, these cookies are damn delicious.

What (insert well known person) would eat if they were vegan.

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So who would I be feeding these delicious cookies to, you ask?

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ZOMG! It’s Cookie Monster! Everyone knows Cookie Monster loves a good old choc chip cookie, but the addition of nuts suits his personality down to a T. I only hope he’s brought his cookie eating game cos we are getting pretty damn good and wolfing these babies down.

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No seriously, blink and you will miss them.

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Hazelnut Choc Chip Cookies
(makes about 28-32 cookies)

2/3 cup vegan butter
½ cup coconut sugar
¼ cup raw sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 Tbsp chickpea juice
1 ¾ cups flour
1 ½ ts p baking powder
½ tsp bicarb soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup choc chips
½ cup hazelnuts

Preheat oven to 180, line a tray with baking paper. .

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars with electric beaters for a good couple of minutes. Add vanilla, chick juice and beat until combined.

In a separate bowl, mix together remaining ingredients except for choc chips and hazelnuts. Add half of the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to combine, before adding the rest along with the choc chips and hazelnuts and stirring to form a dough.

Taking heaps teaspoons, roll into balls then flatten into discs on the tray. Bake for 10-12 mins until bottoms slightly golden (on the shorter side for chewier cookies, longer for crispy). Allow to sit on the tray for a couple of minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

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Nom nom nom nom…

broccoliweb

Spiced Lentil Burgers

Edited to say: it looks like there has been some rearranging and not everyone is on the same page with the order of MoFo themes. Apparently Autumn equinox was moved to today to fit in with the correct timing (in some parts) but I hadn’t noticed. Because I haven’t done that post yet, I’m sticking with this one.

I almost wasn’t going to post this today, as I would have liked to have given it a little more thought and come up with a great relish and homemade bread rolls and all the rest of it. But it seems silly to miss a day of MoFo just because of these shortcomings – that’s not what it’s about (and the bear was teasing me for thinking about leaving it out). It’s the month to talk about vegan food, no matter what!

Fusion challenge!

When I think of today’s topic, for some reason I always think of noodles. I was determined to think of something other than noodles, and after getting past my initial roadblock I realised that much of what I cook could be considered somewhat of a fusion, so brought it back to this classic. I used some Indian inspired spices to compliment the lentil patty, and married it with some classic western food – the humble burger, oh yeahhh.

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Below is the recipe for the patties themselves, you guys can work out the rest. In mine, I added cucumber, spinach and a quick chutney I whipped up but will not include here as it was not quite right (and I didn’t take measurements anyway) It had tomatoes, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, garlic and asofatedia. I reckon it would work well with a raita as well.

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Spiced Lentil Burgers
(makes 8 patties)

1½ cups dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
3 cups water
1 small onion, diced finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
1½ cups breadcrumbs or oats pulsed a few times to resemble crumbs
½ cup flax meal
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup fresh coriander, roughly chopped
2-4 Tbsp water
¼ cup sesame seeds

Spray oil

Preheat oven to 200C and line a tray with baking paper.

Put lentils and 3 cups water in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for approximately 15 mins, until tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients except water and sesame seeds and stir well to combine. The mixture should come together and be tacky, but you should still be able to pick up spoonfuls and shape with your hands. If too dry, add water 1 tablespoon at a time until the right consistency is reached. You don’t want the patties too dry or they will crack in the oven.

Spread sesame seeds on a flat plate, then take spoonfuls of mixture, roll into balls, thenn flatten into sesame seeds. Place each patty on the prepared tray and spray lightly with oil. Place in oven and bake for 30-40 mins, turning once, until lightly browned.

Eat on their own, or create into a burger with your favourite fillings.

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cornweb

Spring Pea and Mint Risotto

I’m having another kind of cheat day, in that I’m just re-posting an older recipe with a newer photo. Unfortunately I snapped this one a little too late in the day and I had lost most of the good light, so I was not particularly pleased. It will have to do though. I first posted this while we were in the van – we enjoyed it on the waterfront of a Queensland town from our little biodegradable camping bowls. What I wouldn’t give to be back there again!

Make a dish using all seasonal produce.

Okay, so it’s not ALL seasonal produce, but mostly. Unfortunately I had just harvested our snow peas a week or so ago and we had already munched them all, so I did not have home grown peas to add. Instead, I used sugar snap peas from the local fruit and veg market. The peas were not as plump and juicy which was disappointing. Our mint has also gone crazy in the past few weeks – it is growing wild through parts of the garden and the leaves are getting huge. I’ve been appreciating the joy of plucking a few leaves and steeping in hot water for fresh mint tea.

As I mentioned the first time round, this recipe is a veganised version of a Donna Hay one, that my mum picked out and made for me at her house one day. I enjoyed it so much that I have made it several times since.

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Spring Pea and Mint Risotto
(serves 4-6)

2 cups fresh mint, roughly chopped
1tsp sea salt flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups hot veggie stock
3/4 cup frozen peas
200g sugar snap peas or snow peas, trimmed, blanched and halved
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
1 Tbsp vegan butter
Sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
Tofutti cream cheese for serving
Snow pea tendrils for serving (optional)

Put the mint and sea salt in a mortar and pestle and pound until a rough paste forms. Add 1 Tbsp of the oil and stir to combine. Set aside.

Heat the other Tbsp of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 4-5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add the rice and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly before adding the wine and allowing it to cook off – approximately 2 more minutes.

Add the stock, 1 cup at a time, allowing each to absorb before adding the next, and cook, stirring frequently, for 20-25 minutes or until rice is cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and stir in mint mixture, yeast flakes, butter, snow peas, frozen peas and salt and pepper (to taste). Serve with a dollop of Tofutti, and if you like, drizzle with a little olive oil. Chuck on some snow pea tendrils too if you have them!

tomatoweb