Tag Archives: dressing

Springtime Eating: Dip, Soup, Salad

I’ve just returned from a trip to the old country, my birthplace and the home of most of my relatives. Although I absolutely love, and am grateful for, any opportunity to visit the folks overseas, I am always happy to return home. I miss my Canadian family when I’m away and I miss my own food! Every time I go to England, I have to begin every re-meeting with a reminder about my drinking and eating habits:

  • “Okay, let’s just get this out of the way, upfront, here it goes … I don’t drink coffee or tea, I don’t drink alcohol and I only eat plants! Got it? Okay, let’s move on!”

In the United Kingdom, you see, everything is about beverages! All transitions, all arrivals, all social engagements involve a drink, usually tea, but often alcohol. You can imagine how my drinking habits are received!

  • Julia, what can I get you?

  • Nothing thanks, I’m good.

  • What? Nothing? Surely a cup of tea?

  • Okay, how about a cup of hot water?

  • [mind blown]

  • or

  • Julia, what will you have?

  • Nothing right now.

  • What? Nothing? Not even half a pint?

  • Okay, how about some ginger beer?

  • [mind blown]

And food … cheese, savoury pies, fried food, Branston Pickle, salad cream, more cheese … not really a welcoming place for vegans. I admit that when I travel and when I am given room and board by my relatives, I become more of a flexitarian. I like to experience the food of the culture I am visiting and I’ll eat most anything put in front of me by someone who is kind enough to prepare and cook food for me. Having said that, I was craving nothing but salad and greens when I got home! Yes, I love chips and pub food when I’m in situ, but once I hit my home turf, I headed straight for the produce section of the grocery store and loaded up on vegetables and fruit. Here’s what I made for my first meal home:

Light Green Dip or White Bean-Edamame Hummus

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1 cup cooked navy beans

3/4 cup edamame beans

2 tbsps. tahini

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tsps. minced garlic

1/4 + tsp salt

bunch fresh dill, chopped

Pub beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic and salt in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth – about 3 to 5 minutes depending on your appliance. Add in a tbsp. of water if needed to make a smooth dip. Add in the dill and blend until the dill is well mixed in. Serve with crackers and vegetable sticks.

Green Spring Soup

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1 tsp butter

1 tsp veg oil

heart of one leek, about 1/4 cup, chopped

4 spring onions, chopped (or one thick slice of white onion, chopped, if you don’t have green onions)

1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped

3/4 cup green peas

2 large handfuls spinach, chopped

1 potato, peeled, cubed, cooked in 1 cup of cooking water

4 cups vegetable broth (I used 2 cups chicken flavoured veg broth and 2 cups veg broth)

black pepper

salt

3 tsps. fresh lemon juice

Heat the butter and oil over medium heat. Add the leek and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the onions, asparagus and peas and saute for 3 or more minutes until everything begins to soften. Stir in the spinach. Then add the potatoes with their cooking water along with the veg broth. Bring to a simmer and let simmer for a few minutes. Blend everything together with an immersion blender to make a smooth green pureed soup. Add a few grinds of black pepper, a bit of salt to taste and the fresh lemon juice. Stir, heat through and serve. Deeelicious!

Springtime Pasta Salad

(recipe from The Fed Up Foodie)

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3 cups dry rotini

2 cups broccoli flowers

1/2 English cucumber, cut into half coins

1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

1/4 cup red onion, chopped in small pieces

1/2 red or orange bell pepper, chopped

1/2 bunch asparagus spears, chopped

handful or more of pea pods, cut in 1/2’s or 1/3’s

handful of green olives, sliced lengthwise twice

Dressing:

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp. lemon juice

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

1/2 bunch fresh dill, chopped finely

1/2 tsp salt

Cook the rotini until al dente. Drain the pasta over the broccoli so the broccoli gets blanched. Pour cold water over both the pasta and the broccoli to cool then add to a big bowl. Add all the chopped vegetables to the bowl. Make the dressing by whisking together the ingredients. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and pasta and toss to combine.

Note: The amounts for the vegetables are a guideline. Please adjust as you prefer, including changing up the vegetables.

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Kale Beet Quinoa Salad

Being a herbivore, I eat a lot of vegetables. I roast, grill, and bake ’em. I steam, boil and puree ’em. I eat ’em raw and I eat ’em cooked. But probably my favourite, and most common, way to eat ’em is in a salad. I eat a salad or two every day. These days I’m getting my salad on by using seasonal vegetables as much as possible. Right now that means lots of slaws with cabbage and root vegetables. And kale salads. That’s what I’m giving you today … a kale salad recipe.

There are two vital things to do with kale to transform it into a salad green – tear or chop into small pieces and massage! I used to only eat kale salad at restaurants because I couldn’t be bothered to massage the stuff! But then I had a couple of experiences where I was served a salad with honkin’ big pieces of chewy, unmassaged kale, and I decided I’d better take things into my owns hands afterall! And I literally mean my own hands, because there ain’t no other way to massage kale than with your hands!

So here you go … get your salad on!

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Kale Beet Quinoa Salad

1 cup quinoa, cooked

4 roasted beets, diced

1 head of kale (I used Dinosaur Kale), torn into small pieces

2 tbsps olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp maple syrup

Once the quinoa is cooked and cooled, set aside. Put the chopped beets in a large bowl and set aside. Put the torn kale into another bowl. Drizzle a tbsp of olive oil onto the kale and sprinkle on about 1/4 tsp of salt. Massage the oil and salt into the kale until the kale begins to soften up and release some juices. Pour the remaining tbsp of olive oil over the kale along with the red wine vinegar, the mustard, the maple syrup and 1/4 tsp of salt. Toss the massaged kale with the dressing ingredients. Add the kale to the beets and toss together. Add the quinoa and gently combine. The quinoa will turn purpley-pink in this salad … not necessarily a bad thing … I just wanted to warn you! Taste a spoonful of kale/beet/quinoa and adjust the dressing as needed. Needs more tartness? – add some more vinegar and/or mustard. Needs to be a little sweeter? – add some more maple syrup and/or some mustard.

If you prefer, you can whisk all the dressing ingredients together and massage it all right into the kale. Or you can massage the kale with oil and salt as above, then whisk the remaining dressing ingredients. Add the kale to the beets, pour in the dressing, toss gently, add the quinoa.

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Kale Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

I got a new blender this weekend! I bought it to replace my on-it’s-last-legs blender. This old blender operated only on the lowest setting or on pulse, plus the rubber ring that sits between the blade and the bottom of the blender pitcher disappeared!

The blender I ended up purchasing is a Hamilton Beach Professional 1500 watt Blender.

Blender

This blender is a compromise, or maybe a blending of two requirements … I wanted a high powered blender and “Tom” wanted a quiet blender. It turns out that the higher the wattage or power of a blender, the noisier it is and we wanted a blender with a minimum of 1000 watts. Well, it turns out that there actually are a few quiet high powered blenders out there. They can be very expensive though. We finally settled on this Hamilton Beach blender because it’s got the power, it’s got a quiet shield, it’s got a variety of settings including a self-clean setting, and it was on sale at London Drugs right near our house! The pitcher is a bit small at only 1 litre, but I think I can live with that.

As soon as we got the blender home, we wanted to try it out – me to try out the high power and “Tom” to test out the quiet shield. I decided to make the salad dressing for a kale salad in the blender (I would usually make a dressing in a measuring cup with a whisk). Well, let me tell you that a high powered blender whips salad dressings together so well that the oil and vinegar does not separate! So cool! And quiet? Yes indeed! “Tom” is very happy with that quiet shield!

Kale Salad with Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

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Unfortunately, this is the only picture I took of the salad. I took it with my phone in poor light.

3 tbsps apple cider vinegar

2 tbsps honey

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic (minced if you are whisking, cut in quarters if you are high power blendering)

pinch sea salt 2 tbsps olive oil

handful of walnuts, broken

1/2 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped into small pieces

salt

5 or 6 fresh strawberries, large dice (I used local strawberries which are still available from the local road stand if you can believe it!)

In the blender, add the dressing ingredients, vinegar to oil. Blend on medium power for less than a minute, until ingredients have transformed into a smooth sauce. Toast the walnuts in a small frying pan over medium heat, shaking and stirring, for about a minute or so until the nuts smell toasty and just start to brown. Set aside to cool. Place the kale leaves in a large bowl. Add a drizzle of the salad dressing and a sprinkling of salt. Massage the sauce and salt into the kale until the leaves begin to wilt and reduce down. Add the strawberries to the bowl, pour on about 1/2 of the dressing, toss gently to combine. Sprinkle on the cooled walnuts.

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Another Dinner Party – White Bean Salad and Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Pie

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)

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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.

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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)

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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)

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  • 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.

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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.

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Chopped Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

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!

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The salad ingredients choices are my own, but the dressing is inspired by Minimalist Baker’s Mexican Quinoa Salad with Orange Lime Dressing.

(http://minimalistbaker.com/mexican-quinoa-salad-with-orange-lime-dressing)

Chopped Salad with Spicy Avocado Dressing

(Ingredient amounts depend on how many servings you want to make. The dressing makes about 4 servings.)

quinoa, cooked

red cabbage

carrots

orange bell pepper

green onion

lettuce

cucumber

Dressing

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!

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