Cinco de Mayo with Bella Vita

Cinco de Mayo with Bella Vita

Got plans Saturday? Look no further for your guide to a lively lunch spread for the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Reflective of summer's bold yet reawakening entry, the color palette and fresh menu provide the perfect excuse to sit back, sip a white sangria margarita, and enjoy a sunny weekend surrounded by great company and excellent ambiance.

Stir-Fried Tofu with Spring Vegetables over Cauliflower Rice

 
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Makes 2 servings

1 bag frozen cauliflower (Whole Foods brand is fantastic!)
1 package extra-firm tofu
2 heads baby bok choy
6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 cup snow peas
2 tablespoons vegetable or neutral oil
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable broth
Sea salt

1. Remove tofu from packaging and wrap in a dish cloth. Place a heavy-top pan or cast iron on top of wrapped tofu to allow excess water to drain, about 15 minutes. Pat tofu dry and cube. Add tofu to mixing bowl and carefully toss with 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar. Then, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of corn starch at a time and toss until dissolved. Repeat with remaining 2 tablespoons. The consistency will appear gummy.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil over medium-high heat. Add tofu in a single layer and cook, untouched, until tofu easily separates from pan surface. If the tofu resists/sticks, it still needs to cook! Flip and continue to cook until all sides are crispy and browned. Transfer tofu to cooling rack and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.

3. Meanwhile, reduce heat to medium and add another tablespoon oil. Add shiitakes and stir for 1 minute; then add bok choy and snow peas. After 2 minutes of sauteeing, add vegetable broth and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cover with lid and reduce to a simmer. Steam until  bok choy is cooked through and snow peas are bright green.

4. Steam cauliflower rice in microwave according to instructions. Add sea salt, to taste, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil Mix and divide among two bowls. Top with stir fried vegetables and cubed tofu. Serve with sriracha and soy sauce.

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Your Passover Morning Staple: Matzah Granola

Your Passover Morning Staple: Matzah Granola

The Jewish holiday of Passover arrives next weekend. A marker of spring and renewal, our week-long observance inspires the word-of-mouth retelling of our religion's roots. And while we are traditionally commanded to physically and metaphorically experience our ancestors' slavery through rituals of matzah-breaking and horseradish-eating and parsley-dipping, etc., I attest that our kosher-for-Passover breakfasts should not similarly "suffer."

St. Patrick's Dinner Party with Bella Vita

St. Patrick's Dinner Party with Bella Vita

St. Patrick's Day weekend, notorious for its rambunctious crowds and never-ending pitchers of beer,  is less than two weeks away! The holiday shouldn't just defer to green beer (though cheers to that!)—Its Irish heritage and homage to spring's arrival call for an elegant St. Patty's set-up. 

Mini Reuben Sliders

 
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During a season of sports championships and gatherings, these pretzel bun reuben sliders will please any fan—I was especially drawn to the pretzel tops' resemblance of football lace, so I knew they're be perfect to serve for the Super Bowl.

One bold bite, and you'll have a winning night despite the score on the screen!

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Makes 12 sliders

12 mini pretzel buns
12 slices swiss cheese
12 ounces pastrami (or corned beef, if preferred), shaved
1 jar sauerkraut
Thousand island or dijon dressing

1. Turn broiler on high. Slice pretzel buns in half and layer bottom halves with a slice of swiss, ounce of pastrami, and spoonful of sauerkraut. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

2. Broil sliders for 2-3 minutes, until cheese melts and buns turn golden brown. Serve with Thousand Island or grainy mustard dipping sauces.
 

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