Posts tagged ‘Summer’

Fiesta Macaroni Bean Salad

IMG_8341We had friends over for dinner last night, and we decided to mark the closing of summer with all of our favourite summer foods. Baked beans were there, along with corn on the cob, and rosemary roasted potatoes shared the oven (and our plates) with fabulously simple roasted asparagus – but this pasta salad was the star of the show.

I love it because it has the creaminess of a mayonnaise-based pasta salad, without either the flavour or the texture of the mayo taking over the dish. The whole wheat pasta, along with generous portions of beans and veggies, add texture and flavour that is sometimes lacking in pasta salads.

I should be up front with you, though: this recipe is not mine. It comes to you (only very slightly modified) from La Dolce Vegan by Sarah Kramer (who also co-wrote How it All Vegan and The Garden of Vegan, the books that taught me how to cook and how to be vegan. I still use a lot of those lessons, even as I’ve added some dairy and the occasional egg back into my diet). All three cookbooks are favourites of mine; worth checking out both for their basic recipes and for their more elaborate dishes (like this one). My only complaint is the portion estimation. Every recipe in La Dolce Vegan claims to make “2 large or 4 small servings.” While the recipes vary, I find that most make 6 – 8 servings, but maybe that’s just me.

Fiesta Macaroni Bean Salad

3 cups uncooked whole wheat pasta (macaroni or fusilli work well)
6 cups water
½ teaspoon olive oil
1 large carrot, grated or diced (about ½ cup)
1 small bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cups kidney beans or pinto beans (or 1 – 19oz. can, drained)
1 cup corn kernels
¼ cup sweet pickle relish
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup mayonnaise (I really like vegan Vegenaise)
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon sriracha or other hot sauce, or to taste
½ teaspoon celery seed
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

  1. In a large pot, bring the 6 cups of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until tender, 6 – 8 minutes. Drain pasta and toss with olive oil to avoid sticking. Set aside to cool.
  2. When the pasta is completely cool, toss it together with all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for a few hours first. Keeps well for a few days in the fridge.
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September 12, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

Garlic Grape Gazpacho

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I didn’t mean for this to be a blog recipe; I really didn’t. I had every intention to just follow the recipe in my new issue of Vegetarian Times for a quick, easy (and oven-less!) dinner. Despite my intentions, though, I revised the recipe pretty heavily as I went along – substituting more grapes when my cucumber proved too small, and adding blended arugula to the soup itself. I also amped up the garlic, switched out the almond milk for coconut milk, and well… generally created a new recipe in the process.

I’m sure that the original recipe was excellent, too, but since we enjoyed this revision so much, I thought I ought to share it with you. It was super-simple to whip up and it made a perfect, refreshing (but filling) summer meal. And did I mention that I didn’t have to turn on the oven, or even a burner?

Garlic Grape Gazpacho
Serves 4 – 6

2 cups sliced almonds, divided
1 large cucumber, sliced (about 2 cups)
2 cups green seedless grapes (plus ½ cup for garnish)
½ cup onion, chopped
1 cup baby arugula (plus 2 cups for garnish)
2 – 3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup coconut milk
1 Tablespoon sherry
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil (plus 1 Tablespoon for garnish)

  1. Place almonds in toaster oven and toast 10 minutes at 350F, or until lightly browned. Don’t let them get too dark, because they will continue to cook  a bit, even after you take them off the heat. Set aside to cool. If you don’t have a toaster oven, you can toast nuts in a dry frying pan over medium-low heat until lightly browned.
  2. In a blender or food processor (or using a hand blender), combine 1 cup of almonds, with the cucumber, grapes, onion, garlic, arugula, coconut milk, sherry, vinegar, and oil. Blend until smooth.
  3. Serve immediately, or chill 2-3 hours to let the soup get cold.
  4. Garnish each bowl with a small handful of arugula, 4 halved grapes, 2 Tablespoons of toasted almonds, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with thick slices of crusty bread, if desired.

August 22, 2009 at 10:34 am Leave a comment

Blueberry-Cheddar Fritters

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Sometimes the best inspiration for new recipes comes not from a wealth of ingredients, but from a dearth of them. Such was the case when, as I tried to use up my perishables at the end of the week, I found myself with a ton of blueberries, a block of organic cheddar, and not much else.

I searched the web for blueberry cheddar recipes, and found this amazing concoction at Omnomicon (it’s worth clicking just to see the gorgeous picture) and I would have followed it faithfully, but I could not. The original recipe calls for making two batches of pancakes – one blueberry and one cheddar – but I didn’t have enough baking powder or flour for that. I did, however, have more than enough cheese and berries, so they went together into a single batch of pancakes that ended up being absolutely delicious.

Not quite pancakes, not quite fritters, this recipe brought diverse flavours together even better than I’d hoped. The savoury flavours of the cheddar and olive oil stand out while the sugar and vanilla add a subtle depth, and the blueberries add a refreshing burst of sweetness. All that, and they’re just as easy to make as regular pancakes. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Blueberry-Cheddar Fritters
Serves 4 – 6

1½ cups whole wheat flour
¼ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds
1½ cups water (or soymilk, if you have it)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¾ fresh blueberries

  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and flax seeds until well combined.
  2. Add water, olive oil and vanilla and stir until just mixed. Note: The olive oil adds a lovely, savoury flavour to the fritters but if you would rather use a lighter tasting oil (like corn or canola or safflower), that would work too.
  3. Fold in the cheese and the blueberries, but don’t overmix.
  4. Lightly oil a skillet or frying pan, and heat over medium-high heat. Add batter ¼ cup at a time for best results.
  5. Cook until the edges of each fritter are solid, and the middles begin to bubble (about 3 minutes).
  6. Flip and cook 2 – 3 minutes on the other side, or until golden brown.
  7. Repeat with remaining batter and serve immediately.
  8. You can also freeze these for later in any freezer-safe container. Thaw them in a pan or toaster oven, but don’t refreeze ones that have already been thawed. This can be dangerous when dairy is involved.

August 15, 2009 at 1:16 pm Leave a comment

Basil-Balsamic Baba Ganoush

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I brought home a bag of baby eggplants the other day to make the eggplant and goat cheese pizza that I posted last week, but it soon became clear that I had too many eggplants for just one culinary project. Falling back on an old standby, I decided to whip up a batch of baba ganoush, a Mediterranean dip similar to hummus that I like to use as a dip for veggies and crackers. It also makes a great addition to sandwiches and wraps.

I roasted my eggplants and then opened my cupboards, and found that I was missing two out of the five ingredients for this extremely simple recipe. Time to improvise! I substituted balsamic vinegar for lemon juice, basil for parsley, and pine nuts… well, those I just threw in for fun. In the end, I had a dip very much like baba ganoush but different enough from the original recipe that I thought I should share it with you. I hope you enjoy it!

Basil-Balsamic Baba Ganoush
Makes about 2 cups

1 lb. eggplant (about 1 medium eggplant or 3 baby eggplants)
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon pine nuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and place face down on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes, or until the skin is blistered and the flesh is soft and browned. Let cool.
  2. When the eggplant is cool, scoop the flesh out of the skin and into a blender or food processor.
  3. Add other ingredients to blender (or food processor) and pulse until smooth.

Adapted from 1000 Vegetarian Recipes by Carol Gelles

August 8, 2009 at 1:53 pm Leave a comment

Eggplant Pesto Pizza

Eggplant Pesto Pizza

It may surprise some of you to learn that I had never heard of eggplant as a pizza topping until a few years ago, when Sean and I visited Rome. It was there that I first experienced what the smoky flavour of a thinly sliced, roasted eggplant can do for a pizza – and I was impressed.

It wasn’t until we moved to New Haven, though, that I really fell in love with eggplant on pizza. Here, the eggplant is breaded and fried and often (at least in our circles) combined with the piquant bite of pickled cherry peppers.

For this recipe, I combined the flavours that we remember from Rome with the combinations that we’ve come to know in New Haven. I roasted the eggplant, both for health’s sake and because this method really allows the smoky flavour of the eggplant to shine through. That flavour is complimented here by the piquant peppers and the creamy goat cheese, while the mellow, melty mozza ties the whole thing together.

Eggplant Pesto Pizza

1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 prepared whole-wheat pizza crust
1 small eggplant (about 10 ounces)
olive oil cooking spray or a spray bottle of olive oil
½ cup pepperoncini, cherry peppers, or other pickled peppers, sliced
½ cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
½ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

  1. Place all basil, oil, and water in a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline, slice the eggplant as thinly as possible, leaving the skin on. Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and spray lightly with oil. (Putting oil in any clean run-of-the-mill spray bottle works well and it’s cheaper than cooking spray).
  3. Preheat oven to 350F. Place eggplant in oven while it’s preheating.
  4. Meanwhile, slice the peppers, shred the mozzarella, and crumble the goat cheese. Roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface.
  5. When the oven has preheated, remove the eggplant. Place the pizza dough on the cookie sheet. Spread with pesto, and layer eggplant on top, grating pepper over the eggplant. Sprinkle with goat cheese, peppers, and mozzarella.
  6. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until mozzarella has melted and crust is browned.

August 1, 2009 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

Goat Cheese, Avocado & Onion Burgers

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I just don’t really like meat, and as far as I can remember I never really have. So for a long time, my approach to burgers has been to smother them in as many condiments as I can lay my hands on. That’s an approach that has stuck even as I’ve found veggie burgers that I really like, but these days I like to smother my burgers in combinations of veggies, cheeses, and sauces that make them more sophisticated  than the burgers of my youth.

This particular burger came out of a need to use up many of the included ingredients, including salsa, goat cheese, and avocado. Lucky for us, those are three ingredients that balance each other well! The creamy, mellow avocado balances the sharper flavours of the goat cheese and salsa, while the sauteed onions add another level of flavour that gives the burgers a real depth. All in all, these burgers were a huge success! I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Goat Cheese, Avocado & Onion Burgers
Makes 4 Burgers

4 whole wheat hamburger buns
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine (optional)
4 premade veggie burgers (we used Morningstar’s Tomato-Basil Burgers)
1 medium red onion, sliced into rings
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 avocado, sliced
½ cup soft goat cheese, crumbled
½ cup salsa, store-bought or homemade
½ cup pickle slices or sliced pickled hot peppers

  1. Cook the veggie burgers according to the package directions. (We heated them in a large frying pan on low heat, cooking 5 minutes on each side).
  2. Toast the hamburger buns, spreading with butter first if desired. (This is optional, but it makes the buns moist, rich, and just a little bit crispy). If you use butter, toast the buns in a toaster oven, an oven, or on the grill. The butter could be dangerous in a conventional toaster, and at the very least, it may ruin your toaster.
  3. Slice the onion into thin rings. Heat the oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, and sautee the onions until just beginning to brown, stirring constantly (about 10 minutes).
  4. Spread mustard on the toasted buns.
  5. When the burgers and onions are done, place the burgers on sliced rolls. Top each burger with ¼ of the onions, ¼ of the avocado, and 2 tablespoons each of goat cheese, salsa, and pickles (or pickled peppers).

July 18, 2009 at 6:44 pm Leave a comment

Fresh Summer Salsa

Salsa

Yum! As I’ve said before, making fresh salsa is one of my favorite things about summer. Ripe tomatoes, cilantro, some spice, and the coolness of cucumber all come together in a fresh, flavorful condiment that can be used in so many things that it’s almost mind boggling. For some ideas, go here.

Salsa is a fun thing to make, I think, because it is so delicious, so versatile, and rather impressive-sounding (“yes, I make my own salsa…”) but it is extremely easy as long as you have the right vegetables on hand, and a food processor. A food processor is a must here to get the veggies chopped finely enough and consistently enough without your salsa-making adventure lasting until next September. A good food processor can usually be obtained for $30 – 40 (in the United States) and it’s a good investment for salsas, falafel, latkes, and many other dishes.

This salsa is a variation on the recipe that I posted last summer. I didn’t have as many tomatoes around the house this time, so I substituted other vegetables in their stead. I also blended the salsa a little bit less, creating a texture more like pico de gallo than bottled salsa. This particular incarnation was also somewhat reminiscent of a Latin-inspired bruschetta, and went very well on thin slices of garlic-infused baguette. I suspect that an unflavored baguette would treat it just as nicely.

Another Summer Salsa
Makes about 4 cups

1 cup red onion, cut into quarters (1 large onion)
1 bunch cilantro, stems removed (about 1½ cups)
1 bell pepper, veins and seeds removed and cut into quarters
2-4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 scotch bonnet chile (or other chile), chopped with veins and seeds removed
1½ cups cucumber, cut into large chunks (about ½ a cucumber)
3 cups cherry tomatoes
½ teaspoon salt, preferably kosher or coarse salt
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice

  1. Place onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapenos into food processor and pulse until all ingredients are finely chopped (about 10 seconds).
  2. Add cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, cumin and lime juice and pulse until finely chopped and well combined (about 10 more seconds).  It’s important to do this in two steps so that the harder veggies (onions, peppers) can be finely chopped without turning the softer veggies (tomatoes, cucumber) into mush.
  3. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve with tortilla chips, on baguette slices, in tacos or burritos, on salads, in eggs or tofu scrambles and in any other dish you can imagine. It will keep in the fridge for about a week (theoretically; that is, if you don’t eat it all up first).

July 11, 2009 at 5:45 pm Leave a comment

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*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.