Archive for May, 2008

Caprese Salad

My partner and I went to Italy last November where we fell in love with the simple pleasure of bread, fresh tomatoes and cheese. In Italy, you can get Caprese salads, pizzas or sandwiches, which just means that the main constituents of these dishes are tomatoes, boconccini and fresh basil. Boconccini is fresh mozzarella, which comes in little balls and can be found at Italian grocery stores and some supermarkets. If you live in Edmonton, the best place to buy boconccini is at the Italian Centre Shop (10878 – 95 St. or 5028 – 104 A St.). In fact, all of the cheeses at the Italian Centre Shop are the freshest and tastiest cheeses you’ve ever had, and they are cheaper than most mainstream grocery stores. Paddy’s Cheese Market (12509 – 102 Ave) stocks a wide variety of fresh and tasty cheeses, but they are not as cheap.

If you want to turn this salad into an appetizer, thinly slice and toast a baguette and arrange a tomato with boconccini, basil and dressing on each one. Serve immediately so that the toasts don’t get soggy.

Caprese Salad
Serves 2 as a side. Can easily be doubled/tripled/etc. to serve more.

1 roma tomato, sliced
1/3 cup medium boconccini, sliced
6 fresh basil leaves, torn into thirds
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Slice tomatoes and arrange on a plate.
2. Arrange basil leaves and boconccini on tomatoes.
3. Drizzle olive oil and vinegar over salad, and grind pepper directly onto salad.

P.S. Like most Italian food, this recipe is simple and relies on good fresh ingredients. Farmer’s market tomatoes are highly recommended.


May 31, 2008 at 7:18 pm 2 comments

Fried Tofu with Wasabi Mayonnaise

I used to live in a house with five other people and we would compete with each other for the ultimate fried tofu recipe. This is mine, although I have to admit that it’s a little different every time. Play around with the spices until you find what suits you. If you can’t find nutritional yeast, substitute flour and increase the spices.

Fried Tofu

1 lb. tofu, cut into thin strips
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (or additional soy sauce)
1/4 tsp. Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. freshly ground peppers
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup nutritional yeast

  1. Heat the olive oil in a good large non-stick pan. Add the tofu in a single layer in the bottom of the pan. If it won’t fit, cook the tofu in batches because it needs to be touching the bottom of the pan to absorb all of the flavour.
  2. When the tofu starts sizzling, add the soy sauce, Worcestershire (if using) and hot sauce. Flip the tofu several times to let it absorb the liquid on each side.
  3. When the liquid is absorbed, add the spices and flip the tofu until the spices stick.
  4. Serve immediately. This recipe is good as a side dish, a snack, or on salad. (If you are using it for salad, cut the tofu into cubes instead of slices).

Wasabi Mayonnaise

So good. So easy to make.

1/4 cup mayonnaise or vegenaise
1/2 tsp. prepared wasabi

1. Mix the mayonnaise with the wasabi. It’s just that simple. Reduce the wasabi if you are going to let the mayo sit for awhile since the flavour will grow.

May 29, 2008 at 4:31 am Leave a comment

Slow Cooked Freezer Beans

I like beans in dips, with rice, in burritos, on salads, in soups and pretty much anywhere else, except in cans. Canned beans annoy me because they often leave me with random amounts of beans sitting in my fridge, going bad before I can think of something to do with them. Not to mention the extra salt from the canning process, or the rinsing, or the wasted packaging.

My solution? Slow-cooked freezer beans. I buy dried beans in bulk and then cook them in my crockpot. My particular appliance cooks hot enough that I don’t have to soak the beans and can cook them in about 2 hours on high. You may need to experiment to see what works best for you. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can always cook the beans in a pot (see tips below). Once the beans are cooked, I drain them, cool them and freeze them in a large ziplock bag. They occasionally stick together and need to be broken apart. Taking a hammer to them while they are still in the sealed bag seems to work pretty well. The beans will stick together less if they are slightly undercooked. When you want to use them, you can measure out what you need and thaw them by pouring boiling water over them (in a pot or Pyrex bowl), or by boiling them for a minute or two in a pot. (Let’s just get it out now: I don’t use microwaves. I don’t know how they work and they scare me. So you are on your own for microwave instructions).

The advantages of frozen beans are many. First, many gourmands claim that reconstituted dried beans are tastier and healthier than canned beans. Second, you always have beans on hand and can use as few or as many as you need, without having leftovers in your fridge. Finally, it’s cheaper and there is much less wasted packaging as compared to canned beans.

So that’s that. I will leave you now with some handy bean cooking tips:

1. Always rinse your beans before you cook them. This gets rid of some of the sugars that cause flatulence, and can rinse away some of the colour of darker beans so that your slow cooker (or pot) doesn’t get stained.

2. Don’t add salt or acidic foods (like tomatoes) to the cooking water. Add these things after cooking since they can make the beans tough, and keep them from cooking no matter how long you leave them in the pot.

3. Beans expand by two or three times when you cook them, so you need to add at least 3 cups of cooking water for every 1 cup of beans.

4. To cook beans in a pot, soak them for at least 8 hours. Drain them and rinse them. In a large pot, bring water to a boil (at least 3 cups of water for every cup of dried beans) and simmer the beans (the water has to be bubbling the whole time) for 1 – 2 hours, or until cooked. Lentils and split peas do not have to be soaked and only cook for 20 – 30 minutes, but they do not freeze well.

May 27, 2008 at 3:18 pm 2 comments

Hello Blogosphere!

Well, hello there. My name is Emily and this is my blog, “Mind Your Peas and Cukes.” It is a blog about vegetarian cooking and eating, which will one day include recipes, photos, restaurant reviews, cookbook reviews and commentary about food ethics for a small world. I hope that you will enjoy it, and that I will enjoy writing it. Thanks for stopping by!

May 26, 2008 at 8:16 pm 6 comments



*All entries tagged "vegan" and "gluten free" meet those dietary requirements to the best of my knowledge as long as the vegan or gluten free instructions are followed (where applicable). It is always wise to double-check ingredients (especially when dealing with packaged foods) and to confirm ingredients and preparation methods at restaurants.