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.
I can’t believe I haven’t posted here since February! What’s the matter with me? I know I had lots of ideas for posts. I took a few pictures of meals that I considered posting … like my first ever batch of gnocchi and a black bean-farro burger. I’ve been eating lots of meals that I’ve already posted on Mostly Vegan which, I suppose, reinforces that they were (are) good recipes! Well, today, I’m going to post recipes for the meal I made for supper tonight. It’s not extra special, but it’s tasty. I wanted to use up some vegetables from my CSA box and here’s what I came up with.
(adapted from Scaling Back’s Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing)
1/2 small green cabbage, finely sliced
1/2 Napa cabbage, finely sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 tbsps. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. tamari
1 tsp honey (or agave nectar)
1-2 cloves, garlic, finely minced
handful of peanuts, chopped
Toss the cabbage, carrot and cilantro together in a big bowl. Whisk the dressing ingredients together then pour over the cabbage and toss. When serving, sprinkle on the peanuts.
Roast Vegetables with Miso-Tahini Sauce
(adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt’s Bok Choy Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing)
3 beets, peeled, chopped into 1 inch cubes
2 potatoes, peeled, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1/2 onion, chopped in 3 pieces
2 patty pan squash, chopped into 1 inch cubes
3 carrots, chopped into pieces the same size as other veg
(You can use whatever combination of vegetables you want and you have on hand. I used these vegetables because they were what I had leftover from last week’s CSA box.)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsps. white miso
1/4 cup tahini
2 tsps. honey (or agave nectar)
1 1/2 tbsps. rice vinegar
1/4 cup warm water
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Toss the vegetables with the oil, arrange on a large roasting pan, and roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Flip the vegetables around on the pan and roast for another 10 minutes.
Put the dressing ingredients (miso, tahini, honey, vinegar, water, lemon juice) into a 2 cup measuring cup and whisk together using an immersion blender.
Dish up the vegetables into a big bowl (serve on top of some short grain brown rice or other grain if you want), drizzle with the Miso-Tahini Sauce. Spoon a generous serving of the Asian Slaw into the bowl as well.
I’ve been wanting to write a post about bowls for some time. You know bowls … a big bowl of plant-based foods. The bowl concept has been around for a long time and was once the perview of hippies and crack-pot vegetarians. These days anyone who is a vegetarian or vegan or is trying to diminish their meat intake is getting into bowls. You can find them all over Pinterest and food blogs. But just because folks are creating them, photographing them and posting them on social media doesn’t mean they aren’t, when it comes right down to it, simple and easy and delicious and economical. You don’t need any fancy equipment or need to know any fancy cooking techniques. All you need to know is that a bowl generally consists of four elements:
a bean/plant protein
Knowing this, the world of bowls is wide open to you! To help get you started, and to get a quick post about bowls sent off (I intend to go more in depth at another time), here’s a bowl I made for my brunch today.
This is a Mexican inspired bowl. Here’s how I made it:
2 small potatoes, peeled (or not), cut in large dice (this would be the “grain” portion of the bowl)
1 tsp coconut oil, melted
2 large handfuls of spinach (this would be the “green” portion of the bowl)
1 can of your favourite black beans (I used Rosarita Premium Seasoned Whole Black Beans – purchased in the States – I haven’t been able to find them in Vancouver) (this would be the “bean/plant protein” portion of the bowl)
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup of your favourite salsa (I used Herdez) (this would be the “sauce” portion of the bowl)
1/2 to 1 whole avocado, diced
sprinkle of salt (I used Chipotle salt from the Salt Dispensary) – optional
Toss the potatoes in the coconut oil, then roast in a 395 degree oven for 5 minutes or so, toss, roast for a further 5 minutes or so. Turn off the oven. Sprinkle the spinach over the potatoes right on the pan, put a cover on and return to the oven for 5 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt a bit. Heat the black beans in a pot on the stove until warmed through. Assemble the bowl by arranging the potato/spinach mixture on one side, a large scoop of beans beside, the tomatoes beside, the salsa beside, the avocado beside, so that everything is in the bowl, but in their separate piles. Sprinkle on the salt if using. I like to eat my bowls by stirring everything gently together, but some folks are extremely opposed to this kind of food touching business (cough-Susan-cough) so just eat it any way you like!
PS – You might notice there is no avocado in the bowl in the photo. I, sadly, was out of avocado when I made this, but would definitely have used avocado if I’d had one available so make sure you do!
Okay, I’m posting on Thanksgiving Day (Canada), but I’d better warn you that this isn’t a Thanksgiving dinner recipe … it’s a recipe that carries a lot of thanks though! I’m so thankful that I came across this yummy recipe and I’m sharing it with you to give you thanks for reading my blog! See, it is about Thanksgiving after all!
I’ve been dying to share this Mexican dish with you for ages. This recipe was inspired by Oh My Veggies The Ultimate Vegan Taco Salad. I have made this countless times – for a family dinner party, for friends, many times just for “Tom” and I, each time a bit different and each time delicious. I’m a big fan of Mexican food and I love to find ways to spice up different combinations of plant based foods to give it a south-of-the-border (south of the USA border, that is, not south of the Canada border) taste. See my menu for a Mexican Fiesta for other Mexi taste treats.
The original premise was to replace taco meat with something that resembles ground meat in both taste and look, but is not meat. The original recipe calls for farro to serve this purpose. Spice it up a lot and serve it with lots of fresh vegetables and beans and you’ve got a vegan taco salad. Well, I’ve made this with farro, with spelt, with short-grained brown rice, with potato cubes. I’ve used black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, refried beans. I usually leave out the tortilla chips, sometimes serve them on the side and occasionally crumble them on top. Anyway, the variations are endless and hinge on the ingredients on hand, time, purpose and food craving of the moment! So here is the basic recipe followed by my variations/additions:
Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad
1 cup farro, cooked *
1/2 cup mild salsa (I use Herdez)
2 tsps chili powder
2 tsps ground cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1 head iceberg lettuce (or Romaine lettuce), shredded
1 large tomato, coarsely chopped, or several grape tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans **
1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
juice of 1/2 lime
2 tsps finely minced garlic
1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
optional – crushed tortilla chips
Cook your farro in a rice cooker using 3 cups of water to one cup of farro. Once cooked, stir in the salsa, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt. You can stir everything together right in the rice cooker. If you are cooking the farro in a pot, once the water has been absorbed and the grain is soft, stir everything straight into the pot with the farro.
Make the guacamole by scooping out the insides of the avocados into a bowl, adding in the lime juice and garlic and mashing everything together.
Assemble the salad by laying down all the lettuce on a platter. Sprinkle on the tomatoes, then the black beans, then the corn. Spread the guacamole over top (or dollop it on all over as it’s kind of hard to spread). Finally, spoon the farro all over the platter. If you want, you can sprinkle on the green onions, cilantro and crushed chips or you can serve them all on the side for diners to add to their plates/bowls as they want.
* instead of farro you can use spelt, wheat berries or short grain brown rice. You can even use potatoes – chop about 4 potatoes into little cubes, toss with a bit of oil and roast in a single layer in the oven at 400 degrees; stir in the salsa and spices.
** use 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed) or you can use your own homecooked beans. I cook our beans in a slow cooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours, drain, cool, dole out into freezer bags in 1 1/2 cup portions, freeze. Another option is to omit the black beans from the salad and serve some refried beans on the side. You could try this recipe for crock pot refried beans or just heat up a can of refrieds.
Last night I went out for dinner with “Tom” and some friends. We’d just been to see a play at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, a play called Love is for Superbeasts written by and co-starring my young friend, Mily (Emily) Mumford:
Mily told us she often feels very hungry after a performance and it was probably 8:00 by the time we got to the restaurant so we were all ready for a meal by then. We chose an Indian restaurant because there are always vegetarian choices on the menu. Unfortunately, there were several disappointments at this restaurant. Fortunately, one of the dishes was inspirational … in that, I had visions and dreams all night long about how to recreate the dish and make it better! The restaurant called it Chaat Tikki, and it was fried potato cakes served with chickpeas. A little internet research clarified a few things for me:
chaat means snacks
tikki means croquette
aloo means potato
What I ate was a popular street food snack called Aloo Tikki which is a fried potato patty. This appetizer is often served with Chana Masala, a spicy chickpea stew/curry, and with chutneys and yogurt. My vision for this dish was to bake rather than fry the patties and serve them on a layer of Chana Masala (“Tom” is the Chana Masala chef in our household) on a bed of steamed spinach. Yummy and healthy!
Today, however, I only got to the making of the Aloo Tikki. The whole meal deal with the greens and chickpeas is a menu for another day. But that doesn’t mean I can’t share the potato patties with you today.
(adapted from a recipe on Indian as Apple Pie)
4 medium to large potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric
1 onion, finely chopped, divided
1 inch ginger, grated or minced
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. minced green chilies (I just used canned chilies ’cause that’s what I had on hand, but fresh would be better, and if you like lots of heat, use a Serrano chili)
2/3 cup green peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp. chickpea flour
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup + fine cornmeal
Boil the potatoes whole. When just cooked (a sharp knife slides in easily, but not mushy), drain and cool in cold water. Grate the potatoes into a large bowl.
In a frying pan, melt the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin an turmeric and cook until the seeds begin to pop. Add 2/3 of the minced onion and the salt and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the ginger and green chili, then the peas and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring to prevent sticking. Add this mixture to the grated potatoes.
Into the bowl, add the coriander, garam masala, cayenne, salt, chickpea flour and the remaining 1/3 of the onion. Mix everything together with a wooden spoon and your hands. Add in the lemon juice and mix again.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with a tbsp. of melted coconut oil. (I just put the coconut oil on the baking sheet, shove the pan in the oven for a few seconds, pull it out, spread the oil around evenly). Put the cornmeal in a shallow bowl. Keep both oiled pan and cornmeal handy.
Take about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture, roll it into a ball, flatten it into a patty, dredge in the cornmeal and place on the baking pan. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture. (My mixture made 13 patties – depends on the size of your potatoes and how big you make your patties).
Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, pull the pan out, flip the patties, bake for another 10 minutes. The patties should be nicely browned and crisped up on both sides. You may need to bake for a bit longer on one or both sides.
Valentine’s Day is over in two hours, but that’s not too late for me to publish some greetings and some feastings! For the 11 Valentine’s Days that “Tom” and I have shared, we have tried to bring something special to the day and almost always that something special involves food. We have eaten out or ordered in a time or two, but the thing we usually do and prefer to do is plan a few special dishes which we prepare and eat (obviously) together. This is often a day when we cook something new or something fancy or something expensive. We set an attractive table – you know, flowers, candles, tablecloth, red and white theme … that sort of thing. During the years when we were sharing our house with other people, we would create a private dining space somewhere in the house where we could be alone and focus on each other.
So what did we do this year? Well, this year was kind of a special year because Valentine’s Day fell on a weekend and on a shared day off! That meant we could take a little more care and time for our planning. We thought out a menu yesterday, then “Tom” shopped for needed items (and then some!) while I went to Yoga. Guess where I got my menu inspiration from! Pinterest! In particular, Paint + Tofu and Maple Spice. We wanted to do red, pink, white food and we wanted hearts, so we made:
Roast Potato and Beet Hearts
Heart Shaped Ravioli on Tomato Sauce
And here’s how we made it:
Roast Potato and Beet Hearts
Wash the beets and cut off the ends. Wrap in a foil packet and roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. When cooked, remove from oven, open foil and set aside to cool. Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4″ discs. Using a heart shaped cookie cutter, cut hearts out of the potato discs.
When the beets are cool, peel, then slice into 1/4″ discs. Cut heart shapes out of the beet slices using the heart shaped cookie cutter.
Arrange the beets and potatoes on a lightly oiled baking pan and lightly brush the tops of the beets and potatoes with oil.
Roast at 395 degrees for 15 minutes, then flip all the hearts and roast for another 10 minutes. During the final few minutes sprinkle rosemary sprigs about the pan.
Remove from oven and serve.
Heart Shaped Ravioli on Tomato Sauce
1/2 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
4 or 5 button mushrooms, finely diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon
3 or 4 handfuls spinach, finely chopped
1/8 cup pine nuts, finely chopped
splash of white wine
a few grindings of black pepper
Heat a bit of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for several minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook and stir. Add the mushrooms and saute until the mushrooms release their moisture. Stir in thyme, zest, juice. Add spinach, pine nuts and wine. Cook until spinach is wilted and the wine has cooked off the alcohol. Set aside to cool.
3/4 cup flour + more for rolling
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
Mix flour and salt together. Mix water and oil together. Add wet to dry and stir with fork to form a dough. Knead the dough ball for 10 minutes, adding flour if necessary. Let sit, covered, for 10 minutes or more. Divide the dough in half. Roll out each dough ball into a thin sheet. Onto one sheet of dough, make heart shaped imprints using a large heart shaped cookie cutter. (Or, if you have such a thing, use a heart shaped press). Spoon filling onto the hearts, spreading to the edges. Lay the second sheet of dough over the first sheet and the filling. Re-press with the heart cutter and press down right through the dough.
Remove the excess dough. Crimp the edges of the ravioli hearts with a fork.
Move the ravioli hearts carefully onto a floured surface. Cook the ravioli by lowering carefully into boiling oiled and salted water. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon and place directly onto a plate of tomato sauce.
6 Roma tomatoes, skinned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small onion, chopped finely
1 tsp dried oregano
couple of grindings of black pepper
Put the tomatoes in a pot and cook/simmer with the garlic, onion, oregano and pepper until the tomatoes begin to fall apart. Chop up with a spoon while cooking. Stick an immersion blender in the sauce and give it a few spins to evenly break up the tomato chunks.
So how do you even say this word, “gnocchi”? Is it pronounced “nocky” or maybe “nyocky” or even “nyoocky”? However you say it, these potato pasta nuggets, teamed with just the right sauce, can be pretty yummy. Mind you, I’ve had my share of uninspired gnocchi dishes. There is an annual dining event in Vancouver, held in late January, called Dine Out Vancouver. Dozens of restaurants around town participate offering special three course meals. Over the years I’ve noticed more attention being paid to gluten-free diners, vegetarians and, most recently, vegan eaters. Most Dine Out menus will offer a vegetarian option and/or ways to make meals gluten-free or vegan. I sometimes wonder if the restaurants do some kind of colluding as the special menu options are often quite similar. Gnocchi makes an appearance on the menus of several restaurants – it fits the bill as gluten-free and vegan. I’ve ordered this meal a couple of times, however, I’ve always been disappointed. I find that you need a pretty saucy sauce to carry the gummy dryness of gnocchi and the gnocchi presentations I’ve experienced have really missed the boat on that saucy sauce. I don’t order gnocchi at restaurants anymore. Why would I when I can make it deliciously better at home? I showed you how my lovely avocado pesto pairs well with gnocchi in this post. Today I’d like to share some more tasty gnocchi combos.
Oh, I should mention, that “Tom” and I have been enjoying Gnocchetti which are mini gnocchi. We’ve been able to find a brand that has no weird preservatives or dairy and we try to keep a couple of packages regularly available in our cupboard. One day, maybe very soon, I’m going to try my hand at homemade gnocchi, but for now, we’re content with the store bought.
Pesto Primavera Gnocchi
(unfortunately, no picture because we ate it all before I could whip out the camera)!
about 7 button mushrooms or 3 or 4 baby ‘bella mushrooms, finely diced
several large handfuls of spinach, chopped
1 packet of Gnocchetti or Gnocchi
Prepare the Basil Avocado Pesto and set aside.
Bring a pot of water to boil.
Water saute the onion by putting the diced onion in a pan on medium-high heat and pouring in a tbsp water as onion begins to stick to pan. Continue to saute, adding a bit of water to prevent sticking, for several minutes. Add the carrot, zucchini and pepper and continue to saute, adding a bit of water to prevent sticking. Add the mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release their moisture and all the vegetables are cooked. Turn heat to low and stir in the spinach. Continue stirring until the spinach is wilted and incorporated into the rest of the vegetables.
Add the Gnocchetti or Gnocchi into the boiling water (I like to open the package and dump the Gnocchetti/Gnocchi into a bowl and break all the nuggets apart first). Simmer for a couple of minutes until the nuggets rise to the surface and float. Drain in a colander.
Transfer the Gnocchetti/Gnocchi to a large bowl. Add several dollops of Basil Avocado Pesto (about 1/2 the recipe), toss. Add the sauteed vegetables and toss everything together.
Serve with a big green salad. You can even use the Basil Avocado Pesto as a salad dressing.
(I do have pictures of this dish, but the quality is poor. Supper is prepared and eaten after daylight hours these days so the lighting is artificial and not very good for photography).
In a frying pan, water saute the red onion by adding the onion to a hot pan and adding 1 tbsp water when the onion begins to stick to the pan. Saute for a few minutes, then add the artichokes, olives, sundried tomatoes, red pepper. Continue to saute and stir and add a bit of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add the spinach, basil and white wine and saute and stir until spinach is wilted, everything is well mixed together and the alcohol from the wine has cooked off. Add a few grinds of black pepper.
Cook the Gnocchetti/Gnocchi in the boiling water until the nuggets rise to the surface. Drain in a colander then transfer to a big bowl. Add about 1/2 the Basil Avocado Pesto and toss well. Add the sauteed vegetables and toss until everything is mixed together.
What glorious weather we’ve been having here on the west coast. It’s warm and sunny. I can wear flip flops, shorts, tank tops. The days are long. The flowers are blooming everywhere. And, we’re currently in the middle of a long weekend. Love it! The weather forecast, this weekend, was for cloudy skies on Saturday and rain on Sunday, but we got nothing but sunshine, warmth and big, fluffy white clouds (which, I think, are called cumulus clouds). I spent this morning at my community garden plot. I planted 3 kinds of potatoes, 2 kinds of kale, some zucchini, some spaghetti squash, lots of onions and garlic. All this gardening, exercise and outside time made me really hungry, but I wanted something simple and easy for supper. I decided to make this salad:
I found this salad over at Dishing Up the Dirt, but I changed it up a bit. I’m not really a big potato salad fan, but this version really works for me because it’s a warm salad plus it’s got lots of greens going on so it’s not so … well, potato-y!
Here’s how I made it:
8 small potatoes (new potatoes are best if they are available in your part of the world), cut into about 1 inch pieces
2 or more large handfuls of baby spinach leaves, chopped a few times
about 1/4 cup minced fresh dill
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 green onions, chopped
juice of one lemon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. capers
1/2 tsp agave nectar
3 tbsp. water
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Toss the potatoes well in the olive oil then roast at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes. Pull the pan of potatoes out of the oven, add asparagus and toss together. Return to oven and roast for another 15 minutes or so until all is tender and a little bit browned. Have the spinach ready in a big bowl. Dump the pan of potatoes and asparagus into the bowl of spinach and toss everything together. The heat from the roasted vegetables will wilt the spinach. Add the dill, walnuts and the green onions and toss again. While the vegetables are roasting, you can make the dressing. Put the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, capers, agave, water, oil, pepper flakes in a small blender or use an immersion blender like I did, and blend everything together until smooth. Taste and adjust – you might want to add a bit more sweetener if your lemon juice is too overpowering. Pour dressing over potatoes and mix. Serve immediately while still warm, or wait for a bit and serve at room temperature. Yum!