Monthly Archives: August 2017

Something About Cauliflower: Cauliflower & Farro

Cauliflower & Farro

There’s something about cauliflower that makes me buy it even though it’s one of my least favorite vegetables. Maybe it’s the fond and tasty memories of my grandmother’s cauliflower dishes. She would make cauliflower fritters that were dipped in an egg-based batter, then fried until they were crisp and brown. The other, somewhat healthier way she made cauliflower was with oil, garlic and pasta. Both were delicious and comforting, but these recipes don’t cut it if you’re following a low-fat, plant-based diet. I wanted to stir up those memories of my grandmother’s cauliflower with all of the flavor and none of the guilt. For this recipe I used an instant pot to cook the cauliflower. The first batch came out mushy, so I cut the cauliflower into larger florets and adjusted the cooking time and temperature. You can make adjustments based on your experience using a pressure cooker. I’m also providing instructions for making the cauliflower on the stove top if you prefer that cooking method. The garlicky flavor and creamy texture of the cauliflower is a nice contrast to the nutty bite of the farro. There’s something about this cauliflower that’s comforting, familiar, current . . . and tasty. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Cauliflower and Farro

6 garlic cloves, chopped
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
¼ cup water

1 cup farro, cooked according to package directions

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water and the garlic. (You can use a light coating of olive oil if desired.) Cook until the garlic begins to brown. Add the fennel, red pepper, cauliflower and more water. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium. Cook until the cauliflower is tender, adding more water if necessary. The idea is to use just enough water to prevent sticking yet having a little garlicky liquid to flavor the farro. Place the cooked farro and cauliflower into a large bowl. Mix well, breaking the florets into smaller pieces if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Instructions for Instant Pot:

Set the instant pot to saute. Add garlic and a little bit of water or olive oil and cook until browned. Add fennel seeds and red pepper and cook another 30 seconds. Add water. Change the setting to pressure cook on low. Cover and cook for 4 minutes. Quick release pressure and when safe, remove cover. Place the cooked farro and cauliflower into a large bowl. Mix well, breaking the florets into smaller pieces if desired. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

 

23 Aug 2017

Freedom from Oil: Grilled Summer Squash

Grilled Summer Squash

Over the weekend Bruce and I visited a vegan cafe that we came across in the early days of our plant-based journey. I recalled that we were pleased with the food so we decided to fuel up there before a wine-tasting adventure in southern New Jersey. I figured the roasted vegetable wrap would be a good choice. It wasn’t. As soon as I unwrapped the wrap it was like the flood gates opened up on my plate — and the flood was mostly oil. I picked at the vegetables hoping to rescue them from the oil spill that left them tasteless and greasy. From the time we left the cafe to our arrival at the first winery our conversation turned to America’s dependence on oil. Olive oil to be specific. It’s everywhere; in restaurant food, in family recipes, on cooking shows. We’ve been brainwashed to believe that it’s a “good” oil. Olive oil is one of the most calorie-dense foods and, contrary to popular belief, it may not be “good” for your heart as we once thought. But don’t take my word for it. This article and video from Forks Over Knives is an excellent (and brief) explanation. Some people feel that oil is needed to help brown food, like roasted vegetables. I can tell you that those “roasted” vegetables in my wrap were not brown at all. I’ve been preparing whole food, plant based food for five years now and I’ve learned to brown vegetables without the use of oil. Just the day before our outing I grilled eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash that came out flavorful and browned — and the only oil I used was a coating of non-stick spray on the grill grates. (I guess that’s what I had in mind when I ordered my wrap.) If you feel that grilled vegetables need a little something, try some fresh garlic, balsamic vinegar and herbs. I made a light dressing for the zucchini and yellow squash that lets their delicate flavor shine through. You can serve grilled vegetables as an appetizer, as an add-in to a salad, in a sandwich or over your favorite grain. Treat yourself to a good non-stick skillet and try using a few tablespoons of water or broth when you want to brown vegetables. If you’re not ready to eliminate oil completely you can re-train yourself by first measuring the oil then spreading with a paper towel. Pretty soon you’ll be on your way to reducing your dependence on oil. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Grilled Summer Squash

a few zucchini and yellow squash, cut into 3/8″ thick slices

Heat an outdoor grill on high heat. Lightly coat the grates with non-stick spray. Place the zucchini slices directly on the grates. Close the cover and grill until the squash is browned, then turn over and brown the second side. Cooking time will vary depending on how hot your grill is. It may be necessary to reduce the heat to medium if the vegetables are browning too fast. Remove from grill and arrange squash on a serving plate, drizzling the dressing on each layer. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold.

Honey Summer Savory Dressing

½ cup white wine vinegar
1 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Tbsp. honey or agave
fresh summer savory to taste

Whisk all ingredients together. Drizzle over grilled vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

 

 

10 Aug 2017

Summer Camp: Broccoli & Quinoa Salad

Broccoli & Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing

Where did July go? Between a visit from family, vacation and tending to my exploding gardens, I had some time away from Vegi-curious. It was like being away at summer camp. And speaking of camps . . . there are two of them when it comes to soaking grains — the soakers and the non-soakers. I have always been on the side of the non-soakers. I really never gave much thought to it until recently. I read somewhere that Basmati rice comes out much better when soaked. I decided to do a test and cooked both soaked and un-soaked Basmati rice. I couldn’t tell the difference in taste or texture. My mother’s physical therapist is from India, so I figured he could shed some light on the subject. He said that in India they soak all grains because it makes them easier to digest. Since I don’t have a problem digesting grains and soaking requires advanced planning, I’m staying in the non-soaker camp . . . except when it comes to quinoa. Quinoa has a bitter coating that protects this grain from getting eaten by birds. Many recipes recommend to rinse the quinoa before cooking. Even with rinsing I hadn’t taken a liking to the taste of quinoa. I wondered if soaking the quinoa would help. I soaked the quinoa for 30 minutes then cooked it in my rice cooker. I couldn’t believe that the once bitter-tasting quinoa now had a mellow, nutty flavor to it. I was so excited and couldn’t wait to try out some quinoa recipes. I came up with this recipe for Broccoli & Quinoa Salad out of my need to make a meal early in the day that could be re-heated in the microwave or served at room temperature. I mixed the quinoa with steamed broccoli and raw carrots. It would have been nice to add some chopped scallions. I dressed it with an Asian-inspired peanut dressing, but a simple vinaigrette or mustard-based dressing would also be nice. Simple and tasty.I can’t say how good the leftovers were because we ate the whole thing that night.

Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Broccoli & Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing

1 cup quinoa, soaked for 30 minutes
1 large head of broccoli cut into small florets
1 large carrot, grated
Chopped Thai basil
Peanut dressing, below

Rinse and drain quinoa. Cook according to package directions.

Steam broccoli for 4 to 5 minutes and rinse under cold water. Place in large mixing bowl with carrots. Add the cooked quinoa to the bowl. Add the dressing and stir well. Garnish with Thai basil. Serve immediately.

Dressing:

¼ cup peanut butter
3 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. minced ginger root
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice from ½ lime
Crushed red pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in blender and process until smooth. You can choose to simply whisk the ingredients in a bowl if you like. Set aside.

03 Aug 2017

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