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Category Archives: Vegetarian

Foodie Friday: Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Spinach Salad

Photo Courtesy Deliciously Ella

Photo Courtesy Deliciously Ella

In an effort to eat more seasonally, we’ve been eating a lot of heavier soups and stews and things. All of the delicious winter squashes and sweet potatoes are fantastic and so good for us, but sometimes I just really crave a great salad.

When I saw this salad on Deliciously Ella, I thought it might fit the bill. The very fact that I can consider making something full of mushrooms like this goes to show how amazing and adventurous Josh is. After a lifetime of hating mushrooms, he’s slowly started trying them more and more over the last few months. Now he’ll happily eat a soup full of mushrooms or a portabella mushroom sandwich. SO awesome.

This salad is one of those dishes that winds up being far more delicious than you could possibly believe it could be. I took my first bite and I’m sure my eyes got huge. It was just so good, full of textures and flavor. I inhaled my portion and licked the plate. No lie.

We liked it so much that it’s also going on our meal plan for this week as well. When a dish makes the cut two weeks in a row, you know it’s good. The fact that it’s also great for us is an added bonus. Remember, especially when you’re using such simple ingredients in such a simple way, quality will make all the difference in the world.

Warm Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Spinach Salad (recipe copied from here)

  • 1 large sweet potato
  •  a dozen mushrooms (we used shiitake)
  •  2 bowls of spinach (we actually used tatsoi, an asian green, from a local farm, but spinach would be great)
  •  2 jalapeno peppers, deseeded and diced
  •  a dozen cherry tomatoes
  •  4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (we love Bragg’s raw unfiltered)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  •  1 tsp smoked paprika
  •  salt
  •  olive oil

Cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes and place them on a baking tray. Toss with olive oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 375, until soft.

While these cook slice the mushrooms into pieces and gently stir fry them with olive oil, salt, apple cider vinegar and the chopped jalapeño pepper. This should take about 7 minutes. Add your spinach and toss around for 2-3 minutes until wilted.

Quarter the cherry tomatoes

I simply assembled ours in layers, and dug in.

Foodie Friday: Chickpea Salad With Capers and Roasted Red Peppers

Like I mentioned earlier this week, Josh and I have fallen in love with cooking our own chickpeas and using them as a base for our lunches. When I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I knew it’d be perfect for us to make. I made a few adjustments (mainly leaving out all of the parsley. Bleh) and think the results turned out to be pretty fantastic!

Another great thing about this recipe is how long it lasts. I made ours on Sunday, and my leftovers today will be every bit as good, if not better, than it was when I first made it.

Obviously you can make this with canned chickpeas and buy pre-roasted red peppers, but making it from scratch will result in a tastier and less expensive final product. If you’re going to use canned chickpeas, I’d say use 3-4 cans.

Also, I wound up doing a quick roasting of the garlic cloves in a dry skillet before mixing into the dressing (skin on, over medium heat, until the skin on all sides turns golden brown). Josh doesn’t love to eat a lot of raw garlic at work.

Chickpea Salad With Capers and Roasted Red Peppers (original)

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, cooked and drained
  • 2 large bell peppers, roasted, skinned, and chopped (how to here)
  • 4 tbsp capers, drained, rinsed, and chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (more to taste after mixing)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Combine the chickpeas and chopped bell peppers in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, mix together all the remaining ingredients. Pour over chickpea mixture and toss well. Taste and season accordingly. Try not to eat the whole bowl while adjusting.

Quick Tip: Slow Cooker Chickpeas

Chickpeas (garbonzo beans) have become one of our favorite lunchtime ingredients. They add protein and heft to salads and are easy to find. I was trying for a while to keep a can or two on hand at all times, just so I could throw them into various dishes that needed a little something more, but we kept coming across a few problems.

For one thing, not all canned chickpeas are created equal. While Whole Foods has, in my opinion, the best and creamiest canned version, other brands are often mealy or almost crunchy and gritty. Not exactly a pleasure to eat.

The second problem was cost. While one can isn’t too bad, I’d have to buy at least four cans, probably more, in order to make a substantial base for our lunches. Once you start adding all of the fun ingredients on top of that, our little money saving lunches aren’t saving us quite so much money anymore.

I kept seeing things about how superior and incredibly easy cooking dried chickpeas was, so one day I decided to give it a go. I looked around to find the best and easiest version (Alton Brown, for the win!) and bought some dried chickpeas.

The results blew Josh and I away! We seriously had no idea that chickpeas could be so good. I’ll happily eat these by the spoonful with just a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, which I never in a million years would do with even the best canned version. Plus, they are CHEAP. As in, $1.49/pound for organic cheap. One pound of dried gets me the equivalent of 3-4 cans of chickpeas. Um, yes, we have a winner.

If I had more freezer space I’d portion them out into two cup servings and freeze the cooked beans, since they reheat perfectly. Then you still have most of the convenience of the canned ones.

The “recipe” could not be any easier.

  • 1 lb dried chickpeas, rinsed and drained.
  • 7 cups water (though I never actually measure it out)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Simply combine all the ingredients in your crockpot and cook on high for about 4 hours. I tend to start tasting around the three and a half hour mark so that I can control how soft they become. I like them to still be a little firm for cold salads, but I’ll let them cook longer for something like hummus.

Great chickpea salad recipe to come on Friday!

Foodie Friday: Grandmommy’s Sweet Dill Pickles

We all have certain flavors that trigger memories from our childhood. One of my most vivid is dill, which reminds me of the pickles my grandmother always seemed to have in her fridge all summer. She never canned them, but kept them in a big jar that she’d replenish whenever she ran out. Considering what a greedy little pig I was, I’m sure I helped make that a regular event.

While these are best with homegrown cucumbers, store-bought can be used instead. Just make sure that they’re small and thin-skinned.

We lost my sweet Grandmommy in June very unexpectedly, so I think I’ll make some pickles this weekend in her honor to celebrate the end of summer.

Dilly Onion Cuke

  • 1 large onion – sliced
  • 1 cucumber -sliced

Liquid:

  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dill weed
  • ½ c. white vinegar
  • ¼ c water

 

Combine liquid stirring until sugar dissolves and add the sliced vegetables

Cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours

Stir occasionally

Grandmommy’s note on the recipe: I usually double the liquid and veggies. When the pickles are gone, I put a second batch in the same leftover liquid. It is too bland to use a third time .

Any other family recipes out there?

Foodie Friday: Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

When I was growing up, the child of hippies, we had many dinners that were entirely composed of vegetables. We ate meat often, but I still love to curl up with a big bowl of sliced tomatoes and avocados with dressing, just like I did when I was young. Weird, I know.

Josh did not grow up like this, so when I first mentioned that we were going to start eating less meat and more vegetables, he was understandably concerned.

I consider the fact that we nearly fought over the last serving of this bowl of roasted veggies to be a sign that a) I have an awesome and very open minded husband, and b) it was insanely good. Like, so good it will be on at least a monthly rotation.

Brussel sprouts have become one of my favorite vegetables in recent years, and this summer we discovered the beauty of  broccolini (aka broccoli rabe or rapini). They both have a certain bitter flavor, so tossing them with maple syrup and balsamic before roasting is perfect.

We chose to eat this as a main course and polished it off. It would also make an excellent side dish, and might possibly show up on my Christmas table.

Maple Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts (recipe copied from here)

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 1 bunch broccolini
  • 3 or so handfuls of arugula
  • 1/4 c dried cranberries
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim the brussels sprouts and cut in half. Cut the broccolini into bite sized pieces.

Put the brussels sprouts on one baking sheet and the broccolini on another. Drizzle with the olive oil, maple syrup, and balsamic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss them around and make sure they’re well coated.

Place brussels sprouts in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes (they take longer to cook than the broccolini). Toss the sprouts occasionally.

At the 25 minute mark, put the broccolini in the oven as well. Continue roasting both for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. You really want some good color on them.

When they’re thoroughly roasted, remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.

Once they’re no longer sizzling, toss with the arugula and cranberries, and taste. You can add a little more maple/balsamic/oil or whatever you like at this point.

Serve, and fight for seconds.

Foodie Friday: Vodka Sauce

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Back in my single days, there were a few dishes that my then roommate and I used to make regularly because we loved them so much. One of them was penne with vodka sauce. We tried multiple recipes, and finally found…the one. The most magical one. Easy, creamy, a little sweet, with a good spicy twist.

When Josh and I started dating, I sort of filed that dish away mentally as “something I’ll make one day when he’s not around.” Then I forgot about it. I mean, it had a cup of heavy cream in it. Not something he could eat.

Over the last few months, I started craving it again. Then one day I realized, duh, coconut milk would work perfectly for the cream. So I started trying to hunt down the elusive recipe and couldn’t find any that looked right. Luckily, my old roommate has typed it into a Google doc and saved it at one point, so there was no need for tears (it was close).

We have no idea where we got this recipe, but it is, in my opinion, the best vodka sauce of all time. No biggie.

Josh’s response to this dish? “Why have you been holding out on me?!”

Note: To make it vegan, I switch out coconut milk for the heavy cream. Since the coconut milk is naturally sweeter, I omit the sugar from the recipe. Also, I always double the amount of red pepper flakes for a good kick.

Penna With Vodka Cream Sauce

  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (double for extra kick)
  • 1/2 c vodka
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (about 8 leaves)
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 lb pasta

Cook pasta according to directions, making sure to reserve some of the pasta water.

Process garlic through garlic press into small bowl and stir in 1 tsp water. Heat olive oil and garlic and red pepper flakes in saute pan over medium heat until fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add vodka and simmer 5 minutes longer. Stir in cream, ground black pepper to taste, basil, sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt. At this point you can transfer the sauce to food processor and pulse to a course puree. I actually prefer to leave it a little chunky so I don’t bother to do this. Return sauce to pan and simmer over medium heat to thicken for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add a small amount of pasta water to add flavor.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

(We would usually drink our beloved lemon drops with this) 

 

 

Foodie Friday: Coconut Curried Fried Rice

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Image via A Cozy Kitchen

I made this fried rice last night (made the actual rice on Sunday), and it was SO GOOD. Seriously. Might be my new favorite fried rice.

Because it’s Friday and I’m tired, I’m literally just pasting the recipe as is from The Cozy Kitchen. She might be my food blog crush. Just sayin.

The only thing I did differently was use golden raisins.

For the coconut rice:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Combine all ingredients in a rice cooker and cook. Remove the cinnamon stick and either use immediately or you can refrigerate for a few days until you’re ready to make the fried rice.

For the curry fried rice:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Have all of your ingredients prepared and nearby before you begin to cook. (the rice should be ready at this point). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok. Add the eggs and cook on medium-high heat. When the edges of the eggs begin to set, gently flip them over (you can also scramble if that’s easier. Once the eggs are completely cooked, remove from the pan and cut into pieces or strips. Wipe the wok clean with a paper towel.

Heat the rest of the olive oil on medium heat. Add in the carrot and cook for 1 minute, then add the garlic and curry paste and cook for a minute more, stirring constantly to begin scorching. Add the rice and peas and cook until heated through. Stir in the egg strips, soy sauce and lime or lemon juice.

You can add a little more soy sauce to taste if you wish. Now just pour into bowls an enjoy!

Foodie Friday: Coconut Braised Spinach and Chickpeas

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Image via The Kitchn

So Josh and I are slowly making the transition into meal planning, to start saving more money. We’ve got some big expenses coming up (my evil car needs to be replaced) and some fun trips in the works (San Francisco in September!), so we’re definitely trying to tighten down now.

One of the best ways to do that is by eating less meat. While we will never be vegetarians, we don’t need to eat as much as we do, and when we do buy meat, I want it to be from local, pasture raised animals whenever possible. Obviously this costs more, so we’re really trying to make meat a once a week treat. Looking towards the future, we things we’re going to start buying half of an animal and just keeping our freezer stocked. While it is expensive up front, it’s a great deal long term, and I love knowing exactly where my meat is coming from and that is was treated well (places like Blackbird Heritage Farm are high on the list.).

Josh has understandably been a little concerned about feeling full on a mostly veggie and bean diet, but recipes like this one, which I made last night, put all his fears to rest.

Coconut Braised Spinach and Chickpeas over Sweet Potatoes

Original recipe here

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the sweet potatoes

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1 inch cubes
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 425. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and cayenne and spread on a foil lined baking tray. Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until some of the sides get nice and browned.

Meanwhile, heat up olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium high. Add onions and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until they soften and start to gain some color. Add the garlic, lemon zest, fresh ginger, sun dried tomatoes, and red pepper flakes and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the can of chickpeas, stirring to thoroughly coat. Cook for about 5 minutes.

Begin adding the spinach, one big handful at a time. Stir in and wait til the spinach wilts before adding the next handful. Keep doing this until all of the spinach is fully incorporated.

Add the can of coconut milk, salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste, and add more salt/lemon juice if necessary.

Serve over sweet potato cubes and enjoy!

We really loved this. The flavors were a little different from want we normally do, but so good! I think it’d also be good without the lemon, but with some curry powder instead. Oh the options!

Anyone else doing dietary changes? It definitely makes you have to think a little more.

 

Foodie Friday: Spring Green Orzo

The great lunch challenge has been a success so far (with one minor misstep), and we’re learning what we like as we go. We’ve found that our favorite lunches, the ones that even at the end of the week we’re still excited to eat, have been orzo salads with citrus based dressing. This is great for many reasons, one of which being that it’s really easy to fill them with a lot of vegetables, and no meat. Now, we seriously love meat, BUT we don’t need to eat as much as we do, so making tasty and filling lunches without them gets us at least 5  more meals a week each that are meatless. Not too shabby.

This salad is perfect, full of different textures and flavors. I grilled the asparagus on a grill pan for some nice subtle smokiness, but sauteeing it in a skillet would be fine.
I really meant to take a picture of this, but I was too hungry.

Spring Green Orzo

  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1 good sized bunch asparagus spears
  • 8 oz fresh spinach
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Dressing

  • 6 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook orzo to al dente in well salted water. Drain, drizzle liberally with olive oil, and spread out on a sheet pan to cool (I typically try to stir mine around every 5-10 minutes or so, otherwise it gets a little clumpy).

While the orzo is cooling, pour the frozen peas into a bowl of warm water, and set aside to thaw.

Trim the tought ends off of your asparagus. Heat your grill pan ( a cast iron skillet would work too) and then cook your aspargus in batches. You want it in a single layer so you can get some nice scorch marks. Cook to your texture preference, rotating spears often. I think I did about 5 minutes a batch, so it still had a little crunch. Remove from pan and cut into 1 inch pieces. Set aside.

Drizzle some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. You could use a flavored oil here (I had some lemon olive oil), but it’s really not necessary. Saute your spinach until wilted. Remove from pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to let the water drain out. Set aside.

Place all of the ingredients for the dressing in a food processor and blitz thoroughly. Taste, and add enough salt that it becomes a little saltier than you would normally have it. This is the only seasoning for the pasta and vegetables, so the salt is key.

Combine the cooled pasta and vegetables in a big bowl and pour about 2/3 of the dressing on. Mix thoroughly, and then taste. Add more dressing if desired.

Enjoy!

 

Foodie Friday: Black eyed pea hummus

My husband is a fan of hummus. I am too, just not to the extent that he is. I appreciate a good hummus, but I don’t crave it. Since we’ve been married I picked up a classic hummus recipe from the kitchen bible, How to Cook Everything. If you want a classic, this is it. I’ve had hummus snobs beg me for this recipe.

A few months ago we were out and ordered an appetizer which came with a black eyed pea hummus. When I saw it on the menu I was intrigued, but after tasting it, I was hooked. Instantly I knew I needed to learn to make it. Upon arriving home (we were out of town) the first thing I made was a black eyed pea hummus. This is a very easy rift off the classic recipe.

Black Eyed Pea Hummus

1 can black eyed peas, drained but juices reserved

2-3 tablespoons tahini

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, minced

cumin

salt

dash of cayenne

In your food process add black eyed peas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, and spices to your liking. Blend.  Add a little water to your reserved juices. As the mixture blends, pour in a little juice/water to thin to your desired consistence. Garnish with a swirl of olive oil and a dash of paprika and/or cumin.  Serve with pita chips.

 

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