Monthly Archives: June 2015

Local Color and Early Summer Gazpacho

Early Summer Gazpacho SorrelWhat I love about summer are the small farm stands and markets that crop up in our area. Each one has something special to offer. It may be a different variety of onion, a recipe shared or a nice conversation with a local farmer. I recently learned about sorrel from the farmer that manages our CSA. There are two types of sorrel. The French sorrel is a small, flat leaf (on the left); wood sorrel looks like clover with little pods (on the right). In fact, I found wood sorrel growing in our flower beds. Sorrel has a sour, lemony taste that I thought would be a nice addition to my gazpacho. Last week I picked up some Kirby cucumbers and scallions at an Amish farm stand and yellow tomatoes, green peppers and sorrel from our CSA. Sounds like I have the makings for Gazpacho.

Gazpacho is a soup of Spanish origin that’s made of raw vegetables and served cold. There are a lot of recipes out there (880,000 appeared in my search), but I thought I’d come up with one of my own, making it 880,001 recipes. This is one recipe that you can’t mess up and can easily make your own. It doesn’t matter what size tomato or how many you have, what type of onions, the color of the peppers or the herbs you use. You can leave it chunky or puree it into a creamy-like soup. You can serve it with some crusty bread to make it a meal. Spoon it into little glasses and garnish with fresh herbs for a refreshing start to your meal. The next time you take a road trip, find a farm stand and bring home some local color. Thanks and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Early Summer Gazpacho

Makes 2 to 4 servings

4 yellow tomatoes
1 large or 2 small scallions
1 Kirby cucumber
1 stalk of celery
1 small bell pepper
1 large clove of garlic
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
chopped sorrel to taste (optional)
1 teaspoons of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

In bowl of food processor, process tomatoes until finely chopped. Remove to large bowl. Repeat with scallions, cucumber, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Stir in vinegar, sorrel, sugar, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings as desired.

Note: You can vary the type of vinegar and/or herbs if you’d like.

26 Jun 2015

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Broccoli

 Broccoli SaladI picked up a few skimpy heads of organic broccoli this week — very stalky with small florets. In the Food Network world where everything is picture perfect , this would be the pits.  In my world, this is another chance to turn lemons into lemonade. My family has been eating a salad made with broccoli, garlic and lemon for as long as I can remember. The entire stalk was steamed then dressed with olive oil, garlic and fresh lemon juice and served at room temperature. Since my broccoli was all stalk and practically no floret, I decided to cut it into rough chunks. I remembered that I had some broccoli leaves in the fridge and added them to the steamer at the last minute. (After I had the salad all dressed up, I thought it might be fun to not steam the broccoli leaves for some added contrast.) This salad is so easy, it doesn’t even need a recipe. I will leave you with some basic guidelines to get you on your way. So the next time life hands you broccoli, grab a few lemons and make this tasty salad. Thanks and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Broccoli Salad with Lemon and Garlic

2 heads of broccoli, cut into stalks or chunks
several broccoli leaves (optional)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
olive oil (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Remove stems from broccoli leaves; roll lengthwise and slice crosswise into 1/2″ pieces. Steam broccoli until desired tenderness. Add broccoli leaves 1 to 2 minutes before stalks are finished cooking. (You can use raw leaves if desired.) Rinse under cold water and drain well. Gently toss with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, if using. Season with salt and pepper. Let rest about 30 minutes before serving.

Number of servings: Depending on how many people and what else you’re serving, make as much as you like.

24 Jun 2015

Sweet as Sugar: Snap Peas and Pasta

Sugar Snap Peas and PastaSweeeeeet. That says it all for the sugar snap peas that we picked up at our CSA. These little darlings are so sweet and tender, you can eat them right off the plant. Well, we got enough for snacking and cooking so I decided to make Peas and Macaroni. This version keeps the peas in the pod by using sugar snap peas.  My pasta of choice for this recipe is TruRoots Ancient Grain Pasta because it’s made from amaranth, corn, quinoa and brown rice flours, but you can use whatever tickles your fancy. If you can’t get your hands on sugar snap peas, you can substitute fresh (out of the pod) or frozen peas. This dish comes together in a snap, so it’s a good week-night dinner. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Sugar Snap Peas and Pasta

Makes 2 servings

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 cups crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
½ lb. sugar snap peas, stems and strings removed
Salt and pepper to taste
½ lb. pasta

In deep skillet, saute onions in 2 tablespoons of water until softened. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add snap peas and continue cooking until peas are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste

Meanwhile, cook pasta for about two minutes less than what the package directions indicate. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Add some of the water and cook the pasta for another two minutes, adding more water if necessary.

18 Jun 2015

Learn to Cook Old School: Lentil Soup

Old School LentilsWe’ve had some chilly days in Delaware last week, so I wasn’t quite ready to put the stew pot away for the summer. I asked Mom to make the Lentil Soup that her mother always made. I don’t know about your grandmother, but Grandma Pauline didn’t own a single recipe book. Everything was in her head, hands and heart. This is how I first learned to cook. If you can boil water, you can make this Lentil Soup. All you have to do is open a bag of lentils, throw in a few cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of tomato paste, add water, salt, pepper and parsley and turn on the heat. You don’t even have to chop the garlic. Can it get any easier than that? (Well, maybe take-out is easier but it won’t be as tasty, healthy or satisfying knowing that you made it yourself.) You can make it as soupy or thick as you like. You can mix in some cut spaghetti or ditalini, or serve it over rice. Lentil soup freezes well, so don’t be afraid to make a big pot. If you insist on following a recipe, I’ve put one together for you to use. Make a pot of Lentil Soup and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Lentil Soup

Makes 2 quarts (6 – 8 servings)

1 pound dry brown lentils
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
1 – 2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt, pepper, parsley to taste

Optional: ¼ to ½ pound of cooked pasta (cut spaghetti or ditalini)

Place all ingredients in saucepot. Cover with plenty of water. Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook until lentils are soft and liquid is thickened, adding more water as needed. When done, mix in pasta.

Note: do no mix in all of the pasta as the leftovers will absorb any liquid and become soggy.

 

 

11 Jun 2015

Vegicurious Home-Grown Weed(s) and Arugula

Noodle Salad, Pesto, Garden 015 Garden Purslane I’ve always tried my hand at gardening. When I had my town home in New Jersey, I had a container garden for herbs. I still prefer to grow herbs in containers because I can move them in and out of the shade and can use organic potting soil and plant food. A few years ago, I planted Garden Purslane in containers. You may have seen purslane growing in your lawn or garden and thought it was a pesky weed. Yes, it’s a weed; but it’s a healthy weed that is the only plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. I don’t recommend that you eat the weeds from your lawn, especially since it might have been chemically treated over the years. What I am suggesting is that you buy some seeds and sow them in containers of organic soil. You can order the seeds from Territorial Seed Company. Like most weeds, purslane is extremely heat tolerant and it grows like a weed. In fact, it keeps coming up in my basil and oregano containers. So what can you do with purslane? The easiest thing is to add some into a salad.

Lambs QuartersSpeaking of weeds, I was introduced to Lambs Quarters by the Kranz Hill CSA. This a weed that is similar to spinach. You’ve probably seen this in your garden as well. It can grown pretty tall, so it’s easy to spot. I’ve made it sauteed, but you can probably add it to your salads if you like it uncooked.

 

 

ArugulaAnd speaking of salad, why not try growing some arugula? I’ve had a lot of success growing arugula. It is typically grown in the spring and fall but if you have a partially shaded area, you can grow it throughout the summer. The seeds germinate in a few days and when the plants are picked over, you can plant some more. I gave a bunch to my cousin and she mentioned that it’s good for the liver. I’m not surprised about that. Home-grown arugula is really spicy, so you might want to mix it with some other greens and toss it with a honey-balsamic dressing. (I wasn’t working on a recipe today, but I’ll give you a quick dressing anyway.) I encourage you to start your own garden. Start small, even if it’s just a few containers of herbs or weeds. Get your family involved. Hopefully your garden will grow into something really big. Plant some weeds, grow some arugula and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Honey Mustard Balsamic Vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon honey or agave

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together and toss with your choice of greens.

 

09 Jun 2015

Make a Date with Good Health and Vanilla Date Chia Pudding

Vanilla Date Chia PuddingI’m trying to cut back on my refined sugar consumption, but it’s soooo hard. The past few weeks have been a sugar overload. Between experimenting with vegan ice cream recipes (possibly a recipe book in the future), my Aunt Ninette’s napolean birthday cake (freakin’ delicious) and just too much time spent away from home (peanut M&M’s at the Wawa), I’ve been eating too much sugar. And wouldn’t you know it, I had a craving for vanilla pudding today. I’ve made a cornstarch-based pudding in the past, but that contains table sugar. For this recipe, I turned to dates for my sweetener and chia seeds for a thickening agent. The recipe is simply chia seeds, cashew milk, dates and vanilla extract.  Doesn’t get any easier or healthier than that. Of course, my pudding got all dolled up for the photo shoot with some crushed Trail Mix Cookies and shaved chocolate, but it’s also yummy right out of the blender. So make some Vanilla-Date Chia Pudding, make a date with good health and make it a Vegi-curious day!

Vanilla-Date Chia Pudding

¼ cup chia seeds, ground

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used cashew)

6 dates

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Process chia seeds in spice mill, coffee grinder or high-speed blender. Add all ingredients to blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until set.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

 

03 Jun 2015

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