Umami Beans and Veggies

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umami121613aI was having an off day. You know the sort of day—everything seems to be whittling along nicely, when a strange sort of feeling creeps up behind you. It latches on with its long, toothy claws, breathes down your neck and whispers anxiety into your ear. The next thing you know, you’re crippled. You can’t think, you’re in a rut.

Maybe the winter is this cruel creature; I can only take so many mile-long, uphill walks in 10°F weather before it gets to me. Maybe it’s the finality of being a homeowner, store manager and bride-to-be—there is really no denying that I’m all “grown up” now and that realization is suffocating. Maybe it’s just hormones or too much caffeine.

Yup, I was having one of those days.

I tried to stop the anxiety with daydreams: I would live on Orca Island in a little cottage where I would wear my hair in braids, collect driftwood and paint foggy landscapes en plein air. The cats would explore the fields with me—in daydreams, cats never wander away, but weave in between legs and come when they are called. I would collect wild grains and plants for tea. Tom would sit on the porch with his acoustic guitar, crooning like a whiskey-breathed Lou Reed. Each morning, I would bike to work on sloping, casual roads with craggy ocean views. There would be ample sunshine, it would never get to cold, and it would never, ever snow. These daydreams did nothing to ease my mood and I remained anxious.

I tried going to yoga, where the gentle-voiced yogi carefully pressed my hip into the best pigeon I have ever, ever accomplished. Her breath sounded just like ocean waves and, during savasana, she massaged our limbs and temples and the rounds of our skulls. Yet even with her massages and the candlelight, the burning incense, the chanting and the Ohms… I felt off.

I felt off on the walk home, despite the bright moonlight and the crisp air. As I opened the door to my home, even the cats’ greetings could not soothe me.

And then I made the dish.

Searching through my pantry for anything I had not used in a while, adding ingredients on intuition alone and chopping up veggies that had to be used up, I accidentally came up with this very umami, bean and veggie scramble.

I poured myself a bowl, brewed a cup of tea, grabbed a new book, settled in and took a bite… and with that everything was alright. It was more than alright. It was savory and filling and absolutely wonderful. It was warm and comfortable and, in that way, it tasted like home. It was everything I needed, the perfect mid-winter blues killer.

Umami Beans and Veggies
Category: savory, easy, dinner
Cuisine: vegan
Serves: 2

  • 2 cups cremini mushrooms
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • ¼ cup + 1 tbsp. hummus
  • 3 tbsp. miso paste
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. liquid aminos
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1 green onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can organic great northern beans, drained
  • handful of alfalfa sprouts

  1. Quarter the mushrooms and cauliflower, then place in a bamboo steamer over a pot of boiling water.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the hummus, miso, water and liquid aminos until combined.
  3. Whisk in the turmeric and honey, then stir in the green onion and beans.
  4. When the cauliflower and mushrooms have been fully cooked and the sauce has heated up, open the bamboo steamer, and transfer the veggies to the saucepan.
  5. Give everything a good stir, then divide the mixture between two bowls.
  6. Top each bowl with a handful of alfalfa sprouts and dig in!