Category Archives: sauce

Vegan Raita and Kachumber Salad

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.

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The recipe, as I said, was for Chana Saag … Coconut Chana Saag as a matter of fact:

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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.

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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.

Kachumber Salad

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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

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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).

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce and Garlic Aioli

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!

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The cheese sauce is made from potatoes and carrots! I found the recipe on A Dash of Compassion. Here it is:

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce

(adapted from A Dash of Compassion’s Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce – http://www.adashofcompassion.com/2016/06/my-favourite-taco-salad-with-spicy-lentils-and-easy-vegan-cheese-sauce/)

Serve the cheese sauce with this taco salad or make nachos or however and wherever a cheese sauce goes in your world! 

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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).

Cashew Garlic Aioli

(adapted from Vegan Heaven’s Vegan Sour Cream – http://veganheaven.org/recipe/vegan-taco-salad-lentil-walnut-meat/)

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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.

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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.

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Banh Mi Sandwich

Here I go again! Posting on my blog! Four times in less than two weeks! I’m realizing that the more I post, the easier it is. I get into a kind of routine – make delicious food, take pictures of food, upload pics to WordPress, begin a draft, finish draft, hit publish! Done! Of course, more frequent posts means poorer quality pictures because I don’t take the time to set up. I’m often eating the food while taking photos! Or I don’t want the food to get cold while I take pictures. Or the food is so delicious that I have to quickly snap off a few pics before we eat it all! Anyway, I’m pleased with myself and my blogging frenzy and I hope you are finding some recipes, and maybe some pictures that please you!

Today, I’m writing about a Banh Mi sandwich that I made for supper tonight. The inspiration came from Blissful Basil blog and the Shitake Banh Mi Tacos posted there yesterday. I really liked the sound of the pickled vegetables and the Sriracha cashew mayo, and, of course, I liked the idea of mushrooms replacing the traditional meat in this sandwich. I have never eaten, let alone made, a Banh Mi sandwich before so I was kind of excited to be finally trying one! Once I started making my sandwiches,  however, I realized that I’ve actually made this sort of thing before. Last summer, my son and I made sandwiches for everyone (7 people) when we were all staying in a cabin on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I was the only vegan there so while my son was filling up buns with a variety of sliced sausages and cheese, I filled my Hoagie roll with leftover marinated baked tofu and leftover grilled zucchini and eggplant. It was delicious! I keep meaning to recreate that sandwich, take pictures and write a blog post about it, but it just hasn’t happened … yet! In the meantime, try out this vegan Banh Mi sandwich.

Mushroom and Zucchini Banh Mi Sandwich with Sriracha Cashew Mayo and Pickled Vegetables

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Sriracha Cashew Mayo

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1/2 cup cashews

1/4 – 1/2 cup water

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsps. apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp. sriracha sauce

1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp salt

Soak the cashews overnight or soak them for an hour or more in boiling water. Throw all the ingredients (use 1/4 cup of water to start with) into a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add a bit more water if needed and blend for another 3 minutes. If you use the full 1/2 cup of water, you will have more of a sauce than a mayo so if you want it thicker, use less water.

Pickled Vegetables

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1 medium carrot, cut into matchsticks

1 daikon radish, cut into matchsticks

1 small cucumber, cut into matchsticks

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 unseasoned rice vinegar

1 tbsp. maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

Put everything into a mason jar, shake and swirl for 15 seconds, then put in the fridge until you’re ready to make the sandwiches. (PS – all the vegetables came from my CSA box)!

Mushrooms and Zucchini

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1 1/2 tbsps. maple syrup

1 tbsp. tamari

1 tbsp. chile-garlic sauce

1/2 tsp rice vinegar

10 – 15 shitake mushrooms, sliced in 2 or 3 pieces

10 – 15 cremini mushrooms, sliced in 2 or 3 pieces

6 thinnish slices of zucchini

Whisk the marinade ingredients together and set aside. Toss the mushrooms into a hot pan (heat the pan over high heat for a minute before adding the mushrooms), turn the heat down to medium-high and dry cook the mushrooms, stirring occasionally so they don’t burn. Let the mushrooms release their liquid and let the liquid start to evaporate a bit. Add the marinade and continue cooking to let the liquid evaporate a bit. Turn off the heat. Brush some of the mushroom marinade onto both sides of the zucchini slices. Put the zucchini under the broiler for 3 minutes, flip and broil for another 3 minutes. Slip the zucchini slices into the pan with the mushrooms.

Assembly

French bread

cucumber, cut into thin slices

Cut the loaf of bread in thirds, crossways. Cut each section in half lengthwise. This will make 3 sandwiches. For each sandwich, open up the bread and pick out some clumps of bread in order to make a hollow on both sides. Spread both sides of the bread with the Sriracha Cashew Mayo. Fill the hollows in the bread with a scoop of mushrooms, 2 slices of zucchini, 2 slices of cucumber, a scoop of pickled vegetables. Put the bread halves together and eat! This is a messy sandwich so have a napkin standing by. This sandwich would be good with some of that Asian Slaw I made last week!

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July 20 – I made a scrumptious salad from the leftovers of this Banh Mi sandwich! I tore up a few leaves of lettuce, quartered some grape tomatoes, and sprinkled in a handful of chickpeas. Then I added in some leftover pickled vegetables and the leftover mushrooms and zucchini. I topped it all with a generous serving of the leftover Sriracha Cashew Mayo. Very yum!

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Dinner Party Extrodinaire!

“Tom” and I just finished hosting a great dinner party. It was such a relief to get this party going because it was prefaced by organizational challenges – procrastination, rescheduling, commitment, on again, off again. Usually our little gang of dinner partyers has our dinners scheduled ahead of time, but not this time for some reason. Funny thing is I’ve had the menu planned for months! So once we nailed down a date, I was raring to go! Here is the menu:

Cauliflower Ceviche *

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad with Cilantro Cashew Cream *

Slow Cooker Refried Beans *

Chocolate Mousse – Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits *

fresh fruit (watermelon and cherries)

* see below for recipes

You can find the recipes for the Taco Salad and the Chocolate Mousse on my blog – see links above.

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Cauliflower Ceviche

(adapted from Dora’s Table’s Cauliflower Ceviche)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 cup of diced tomatoes

1 cup of peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber

1/2 Serrano pepper, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp (or more) salt

Put the cauliflower florets into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into a big bowl of cold water. When cool, chop finely. (I threw the cauliflower into my mini-food processor to chop). Put all the chopped vegetables in a big bowl, add the cilantro, lime juice and salt and mix together. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. We ate this with tortilla chips and alongside the taco salad as a kind of salsa.

This was the first time I made this dish. It was pretty good and was well received, but I think the next time I make it I will take it up a notch. I only put 1/2 a Serrano pepper in because I wanted to be careful about the heat, but I could easily have put the whole thing in. (You just never know with peppers … you can get a super fiery one or a fairly mild one)! Also, the dish needs more lime juice or vinegar or something to up the tangy taste. This will make the dish more liquidy, but after marinating, the ceviche could be transferred to another bowl leaving the excess liquid behind.

Cilantro Cashew Cream (This stuff is crazy delicious!)

(adapted from Oh She Glows’ Cilantro Lime Garlic Cashew Sauce)

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3/4 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 tbsps. fresh lime juice (the juice of 1 whole lime)

2 tbsps. avocado

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup water

Drain the soaking water from the cashews. Through everything into the blender and blend for 2 or 3 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides and blend for another 2 or 3 minutes. (Unless you have a high powered blender then you can blend it until smooth in 2 minutes).

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

(my own recipe)

image2 cups dry pinto beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1 small onion, diced

4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp hickory black pepper, if you have it, otherwise use plain black pepper

1 tsp chipotle paste (I make paste by throwing a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce through the blender, then I store the paste in a jar in the fridge)

5 cups vegetable broth

Throw everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Turn to low, coarsely mash the beans in the pot with a potato masher, and keep warm in the slow cooker until ready to use. I stirred a tsp of hickory smoked salt in just before serving. (The refried beans will probably be a bit runny. When they cool down, they thicken up. You can also reduce the liquid in the slow cooker by 1/2.)

Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits

(makes 5 servings)

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1 recipe chocolate mousse

2 cups strawberries

2 cups halved, pitted cherries

2 tbsp maple syrup

5 cherries with stem attached

Make the chocolate mousse ahead of time and leave in fridge to set for a few hours. Put the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium to low heat and add the maple syrup. Bring to low boil then let simmer for 30 minutes. Put the cherries in a small saucepan and heat over medium to low heat. Bring to low boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In parfait glasses (I don’t have parfait glasses so I used wine glasses), begin the layering process. Set out the glasses, and put a layer of chocolate mousse in each. Then put in a layer of strawberry compote, another layer of chocolate mousse, then a layer of cherry compote, and finish with a layer of chocolate mousse. Of course, you need to put a cherry on top!

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Looks like a mess when it’s all on the plate, but don’t let that fool you! It was all dee-licious!

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Vegan Queso

I feel like the Cat in the Hat!

Why?

Because the Cat in the Hat says, “Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!”

And that’s what I’m saying right now! Look at me! Look at me now! I’m posting on my blog for the second day in a row!

(Of course, when the Cat in the Hat said it, he was balancing a cup and some cake and some books and a fish and lots of other things!)

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So, yeah, I’m posting another recipe today. This one is for vegan queso. You know, I’d never heard of queso until I became a vegan! Until I started reading and subscribing to other food blogs. Since then I’ve learned that Americans (that is, people from the U.S. of America) really like queso! Even vegans! Traditional queso is a cheese sauce, so creative vegan queso lovers have invented all kinds of cheeseless queso recipes. While I was looking for a Mexican flavoured appetizer to kick off a dinner party that I’m about to host, I came across this interesting take on queso on Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/cashew-less-vegan-queso/).

I made this queso tonight and I thought it was really tasty. I just ate some with tortilla chips, but I’m thinking of using it to make nachos – chips on a pan, a layer of queso, a layer of diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapenos, repeat layers, broil lightly, eat. I’m also wondering if I could use it for a pasta sauce.

Vegan Queso

(slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Cashew-Less Vegan Queso)

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about 1/2 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds (Unusual ingredient, that’s for sure! Whether you like or don’t like eggplant, you’ll really like this queso! I know because I taste tested it on an eggplant hater!)

salt

olive oil

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsps. nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 + 1 tsp cornstarch

Sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water, pat dry and lay out on a lightly greased baking pan. Brush a little olive oil on the eggplant rounds. Broil on high close to the top of the oven for about 4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4 minutes. Don’t let the eggplant burn. Broil to a golden-brown colour. Transfer rounds to some foil, loosely wrap and let steam for a couple of minutes. Peel off the eggplant skin. The broiled, skinned eggplant rounds, packed into a 1 cup measuring cup, should fill the cup.

Put the eggplant rounds, milk, yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and 2 tsps. cornstarch into a blender and blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how powerful your blender is) until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring slowly. It will start to thicken and bubble (watch out for those bubbles!). If it doesn’t seem thick enough after 3+ minutes, mix the remaining 1 tsp of cornstarch with a splash of almond milk and a couple of tbsps. of the queso until smooth then stir into the saucepan. Keep cooking and stirring until thick.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Next time I make this, I will roast the eggplant whole, then scrape out the inside to fill 1 cup .

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of drained salsa to stir into the queso after it has been heated and thickened. I didn’t do this because I wanted to serve the salsa alongside the queso.

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Asian Slaw and Roast Veg

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.

Asian Slaw

(adapted from Scaling Back’s Crunchy Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing)

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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.

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Roast Vegetables with Miso-Tahini Sauce

(adapted from Dishing Up the Dirt’s Bok Choy Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing)

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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.

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Yummy Breakfast Bowl

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 grain

  • a green

  • a bean/plant protein

  • a sauce

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.

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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!

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Valentine’s Day 2016 – Pizza and Roasted Vegetable Hearts

Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

“Tom” and I created another lovely Valentine’s Day supper to share with each other. This year we decided to stay with the heart theme dominated by red and white. We made heart shaped Margherita pizza with roasted heart shaped beets and potatoes.

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Margherita Pizza

individual pizza shells (store bought or make your own)

spicy tomato sauce such as Arribiata or Marinara (store bought or make your own)

cheezy cashew sauce *

vegan pesto **

1 or 2 tomatoes

3 large leaves fresh basil, chiffonaded

If making this for Valentine’s Day, cut the pizza shells into heart shapes. Otherwise, leave as is. Spread a bit of spicy tomato sauce onto the pizza shells. Put dollops of cashew sauce all over the pizza, then dollops of pesto in between the cashew sauce. Arrange thinly sliced tomatoes (I used 3 slices for each individual pizza). Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. After removing from the oven, add a few strips of fresh basil to each pizza.

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Before baking, all ready to go in the oven.

*  Cheezy Cashew Sauce

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for a few hours

3/4 tsp garlic powder

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/4 cup water (or more)

1/8 tsp salt

a few grinds of black pepper

dash of cayenne

1/8 tsp dried basil

1/8 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp nutritional yeast

Put everything in a blender and blend for 5 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed and adding a bit more water as needed. The consistency needs to be thickish so be careful about the addition of water.

** Pesto

1 avocado

1/4 cup vegetable broth

7 fresh basil leaves (approx.)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/8 tsp salt

2 tsp white wine vinegar

Put everything in a mini food processor or blender and blend until well combined.

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After baking, with a little bit of fresh basil added on top.

 

Roasted Heart Shaped Vegetables

2 beets, peeled

2 largish, round potatoes, peeled

1 tsp vegetable oil

Cut the beets and potatoes into slices, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the slices into heart shapes with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Toss the vegies in the oil, arrange on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then flip the hearts and bake for another 5 minutes until lightly browned on each side.

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Check out these lovely striped beet hearts cut from Chioggia beets.

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Oh, and we ended our meal with more hearts … watermelon hearts! And chocolate of course!

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Chow Down on a Wedgie!

Yesterday, I had supper at The Keg. For those of you who aren’t familiar with The Keg, it’s a steakhouse. I went there to celebrate a family birthday. Believe it or not, I, the only vegan in the group, was able to carve out a perfectly fine meal for myself. I had a Mixed Green Salad and it was big and fresh and tasty.

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For my main course, I had a plate of garlic mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables (red peppers, asparagus, onions) and sautéed mushrooms. All very tasty, fresh, nicely cooked and filling.

Other salads that were ordered at our table were the Caesar Salad:

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and the Iceberg Wedge:

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Now this Iceberg Wedge Salad fascinated me. It was this huge hunk of Iceberg lettuce doused with ranch dressing and big chunks of bleu cheese and a generous sprinkling of bacon pieces. I’d never seen anything like it before! This salad left such an impression on me that I needed to find out more about it. A bit of internet research revealed that the wedge salad is a staple on steakhouse menus. Who knew! Well, I decided I wanted to try an Iceberg Wedge and, because I don’t eat cheese or bacon or ranch dressing, I had to figure out how to create a vegan version. Thank goodness for Pinterest where I found Spabettie and the recipe for Chipotle Tomato Mini Wedges.

On a little side note, I am on Spring Break right now. I’ve set myself some goals or tasks to accomplish every day – do some form of exercise, do a spring cleaning task, prepare a new recipe. The exercising and recipe prep are going well. The spring cleaning … not as much! Anyway, today, my new recipe try-out became this vegan Iceberg Lettuce Wedge salad. This version turned out really well. It was tasty and crunchy and filling. We had to eat it with a knife and fork. In fact, “Tom” used a steak knife to carve his wedge! Unfortunately, the pictures didn’t turn out too well. I was kind of rushed, plus I’m not sure if this dish is very photogenic to begin with!

Here’s the recipe, with only slight changes to the original:

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1 head of Iceberg lettuce

1/2 to 1 tsp chipotle paste *

2 tomatoes, skinned

1/4 cup low fat vegan mayo

pinch of salt

simulated bacon bits **

Wash the lettuce and peel off the outer 2 or 3 layers. Chop the head in half, then chop one of those halves into half again. Leave the wedges to dry in a colander or sieve. In a blender or mini food processor, combine the chipotle paste, tomatoes, mayo and salt and process until thoroughly blended. Pour into a small jar and allow to chill in the fridge. To assemble, place one lettuce wedge on each of two plates. Drizzle the dressing over top and let it run down the sides and pool at the bottom. Sprinkle liberally with bacon bits. Serve.

* I make chipotle paste by throwing a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce into the blender, then storing the paste in a jar in the fridge

** simulated bacon bits are made of TVP (soy), colour, liquid smoke

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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

and

Heart Shaped Ravioli on Tomato Sauce

imageAnd here’s how we made it:

Roast Potato and Beet Hearts

2 beets

3 potatoes

olive oil

fresh rosemary

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.

imageWhen 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.

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Arrange the beets and potatoes on a lightly oiled baking pan and lightly brush the tops of the beets and potatoes with oil.

imageRoast 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.

imageRemove from oven and serve.

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imageHeart Shaped Ravioli on Tomato Sauce

Filling

olive oil

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.

Ravioli

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.

imageRemove the excess dough. Crimp the edges of the ravioli hearts with a fork.

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imageMove 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.

imageTomato 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.

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