This summer saw a few dinner parties. I posted about the party “Tom” and I had here. The next dinner party was a casual bday celebration outside on some friends’ patio. It was a potluck – not in the literal sense where everyone brings whatever, and all guests take their chances on what food is available, but where the hosts provided the main course and the guests brought complementary food. Our hosts made Puttanesca sauce with pasta, so I thought I’d bring a salad. But what kind of salad goes with the strong flavours of Puttanesca sauce? Here’s what was recommended by Moira Hodgson in Oprah Magazine:
White Bean Salad
(adapted from Moira Hodgson)
3 cups cooked navy beans
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsps. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (or more)
sprinkling of black pepper
Gently toss the beans, bell pepper, onion and tomato together. Whisk the dressing ingredients together then pour over the beans. Gently mix together and let marinate in fridge for a couple of hours. Bring to room temperature to serve.
I also decided to bring a dessert. I have been making my chocolate mousse pie for some time now, but I wanted to add in another layer … literally another layer, but also another layer of flavour. I had some late season local strawberries in the fridge so I created this:
Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Pie
(my own creation)
2 packages Oreo cookie type cookies
2 tbsps. coconut oil
1 recipe chocolate mousse
1 full package (200 grams) organic fair trade baking chocolate (I use Camino semi-sweet)
1 package silken tofu
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 tsp pure vanilla (liquid or powder)
pinch sea salt
1 cup strawberries
1 tbsp. maple syrup
several strawberries cut in slices
Crumble 1/2 of the cookies in a blender, then transfer to a pie plate. Crumble the other 1/2 of the cookies in a blender with the coconut oil until well mixed. Mix the dry and oiled cookie crumbs together and press up the sides and into the bottom of the pie plate.
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler.
Slip the tofu into a pot of boiling water and boil for 2-3 minutes (helps get rid of any beany taste).
Put the tofu into the blender with the milk and blend until smooth. Add in the melted chocolate, vanilla and salt and blend for 2-3 minutes until very smooth. Pour the chocolate mousse into the pie plate on top of the cookie crumb base. Put in fridge for an hour or so until the mousse cools and firms up.
Put the cup of strawberries into a blender and blend until liquid. Add in the maple syrup and blend briefly. Ladle the strawberry puree onto the chocolate mousse, letting the puree spread on its own to the edges.
Top with sliced strawberries.
Chill in fridge for at least an hour. Serve straight from the fridge.
Over the weekend, I made a new curry … well, new to me … or rather, a new take on a familiar curry. I found a great recipe for Chana Saag (Curried Chickpeas and Spinach) in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbook, Isa Does It.
The recipe, as I said, was for Chana Saag … Coconut Chana Saag as a matter of fact:
Now, I’ve made Chana Masala (curried chickpeas) before and I’ve made different types of Saag (spinach curry) and I’ve made curry with a coconut milk sauce, but this recipe kind of combines all of this – chickpeas, spinach and coconut milk – and turns out a really delicious curry. Try it out why don’t you? It’s pretty easy and quick to make and it’s very tasty.
So, yep, I decided to make the curry, but I wanted some interesting sides to go along with it. Of course, I cooked some rice – white basmati with peas (“Tom’s” favourite) – but I really wanted a salad. I did a little research on Pinterest and on the internet and discovered that curries are often accompanied by a salad called Kachumber Salad. The name alone is enough reason to make it! This salad is usually made up of chopped cucumber, tomato and onion with a bit of acid and salt as a dressing. I changed this up a bit by adding cabbage and using green onion. As for the raita (yogurt and cucumber or other chopped/grated vegetables), it’s a standard condiment for curries, so I decided to invent a vegan version of raita using cashews to replace the yogurt. “Tom” and I were very pleased with not only the curry, but the salad and the raita, so I thought I would share the love and post the recipes. I really hope you try one or more of these recipes next time you’re cooking Indian. And please use the comment section to tell me what you think.
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
about 1 quarter of a small head of savoy or green cabbage, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
4 or 5 leaves mint, coarsely chopped
juice of a lime (2 tbsps.)
1/2 tsp salt
Combine the vegetables, cilantro and mint in a bowl and gently toss. Pour in the lime juice and sprinkle in the salt and gently toss again. Leave the salad to marinate for a bit, maybe 20 minutes. If you leave it too long, the juice from the cucumber and tomato will dilute the salad. This salad is best eaten all at once. This recipe makes 3 servings.
Cashew Cucumber Raita
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling hot water
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsps. water
juice of 1 lime (2 tbsps.)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and grated
1 green onion, chopped
handful of cilantro, finely chopped
4-5 leaves mint, finely chopped
Put the cashews, 1/4 cup water, lime juice, cumin, ginger, cayenne and salt in a blender and blend for 1 t0 2 minutes until everything starts to blend together. Stop, scrape down the sides and add 1 tbsp. water. Blend again for a couple of minutes. Add another tbsp. water if needed to make everything blend smoothly, but not too runny. Blend for a total of 5 minutes for the smoothest results.
Mix the cucumber, green onion, cilantro and mint together in a bowl. Pour in the cashew mixture and mix well. Let sit for a few minutes then taste and adjust for seasoning. (If your curry is quite hot and spicy, you might want to add more cilantro and mint to the raita; if it’s a milder curry, you might want to add some more cayenne and/or cumin).
Salads are pretty great, don’t ya think? I mean, there’s gotta be an infinite number of ways you can combine some vegetables, maybe some grains or some noodles, possibly some fruit. And then there’s the dressing. You can take your same ol’, same ol’ salad and add a new dressing and it’s not so same ol’ anymore, is it? Or you can take your standby dressing and pour it on a different base of vegetables and you’ve got something new! Take this salad for example. I introduced this salad way back in April 2014 – a chopped salad with all the ingredients arranged separately in the bowl – and, last week I recreated it with a few different vegetables and a new dressing. Voila! A new salad!
The salad ingredients choices are my own, but the dressing is inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing.
(Ingredient amounts depend on how many servings you want to make. The dressing makes about 4 servings.)
orange bell pepper
1/2 ripe avocado
juice of 1/2 lime (3 tbsps.)
juice of 1/2 orange (3 tbsps.)
2 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp hot sauce
1/4 tsp cumin
a sprinkle of cayenne (less than 1/8 tsp)
2-3 tbsps. water
Arrange the quinoa and vegetables in individual bowls. I like to chop up one ingredient and arrange in the bowls, then chop up the next ingredient and arrange in bowls and so on.
Put all the dressing ingredients except the water in a tall container and blend with an immersion blender. When things start to get too thick, add in the water, 1 tbsp. at a time until the dressing blends smoothly and is pourable but not runny.
Drizzle the dressing over the salad ingredients. Admire your artistry, then toss everything together in your personal bowl!
I made another yummy taco salad last weekend. I had a house guest staying so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out some new recipes … you know, give “Tom” a break from being the only taste tester. The new recipes we sampled were vegan taco “meat”, vegan “cheese” sauce and a cashew garlic aioli. All were pretty good, but the cheese sauce and the aioli were outstanding!
The cheese sauce is made from potatoes and carrots! I found the recipe on A Dash of Compassion. Here it is:
Serve the cheese sauce with this taco salad or make nachos or however and wherever a cheese sauce goes in your world!
2 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized potatoes)
3/4 cup chopped carrots (about 1 large and 1 small or 2 medium carrots)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1/3 cup water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 1/2 tsps. salt
Cook the potatoes and carrots together until very soft. Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside to cool a bit. Combine everything in a saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, if needed to make a pourable sauce. (I added 2 tbsps. water).
Use this aioli anywhere you would use sour cream or mayonnaise. We ate it as a dip for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and as one of the condiments for the taco salad.
1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling water
2 tbsps. lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup + water
Drain the cashews from their soaking water. Put cashews, lemon juice and garlic in a blender. Blend for about a minute. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, to the blender in order to get the sauce to blend freely, but not so much to make the sauce too runny. Blend for 5 minutes in total to get a smooth sauce.