Effortless: Hummus & Greek Salad Pita

Hummus & Greek Salad Pita

I love the challenge of creating recipes that can be complicated or require exotic ingredients. In fact, I have a pot of Chana Masala on the stove as I write this post. My grandmother taught me how to cook and her style was effortless. All of her recipes were in her head and she could whip up a delicious meal with whatever she had on hand. And that’s exactly what I did for lunch today. There will be no recipe today, just a list of possibilities for this Hummus & Greek Salad Pita. It started with the last bit of hummus I had in the fridge, a pita retrieved from the depths of my freezer and some fresh salad ingredients. You can make it easy on yourself by using your favorite brand of store-bought hummus. Or, you can make it healthier by preparing your favorite hummus recipe and using the cooking liquid from the chick peas instead of olive oil. This makes a hearty meal for one or can be served as an appetizer or as Playoff and Super Bowl Sunday party food. No matter how you make it, it’s worth the effort. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Here’s how it comes together:

  1. Warm pita in oven
  2. Chop & toss together with red wine vinegar & oregano:
    1. Handful of greens
    2. Cherry (or any kind) of tomato
    3. Cucumber
    4. Bell pepper
    5. Onion
    6. Kalamata olives
  3. Spread hummus on warm pita, then pile on the salad.
  4. Cut into wedges & enjoy!

19 Jan 2018

Navigating Noel: Roasted Vegetables, Farro & Porcini-Cashew Cream

Roasted Winter Vegetables & Farro

Roasted Winter Vegetables & Farro

The holiday season can present it’s own set of challenges when either hosting or being invited to a holiday dinner or party. What to serve, what to bring. Who likes what, who’s allergic to this, that or the other thing. It’s enough to make you want to go away for the holidays. I’ve hosted some pretty big dinners in the past, so I understand the amount of preparation that goes into cooking for a crowd. Here’s how I navigate Noel festivities. Whether or not a host offers to make something special for me and Bruce, I happily volunteer to prepare a dish for everyone to enjoy. Bruce and I get to eat the food that makes us feel good and it’s a nice way to show others that a plant-based diet can be sumptuous and scrumptious. We were invited to my cousin’s home for Thanksgiving and I wanted to make a dish that met certain conditions.The dish should be in keeping with tradition, so it had to be made with autumnal ingredients. Since we were traveling to New Jersey, the dish had to be portable and able to fit in the car with three humans, one dog and a dog crate. Lastly, it had to make a hearty meal for me and Bruce, yet suitable as a side dish for others to enjoy. I decided to combine a few of my favorite recipes into one scaled-down feast — Sauteed Mushrooms, Shaved Brussel Sprouts, and Roasted Broccoli, Cauliflower & Chickpeas served over farro and adorned with a Porcini-Cashew Cream. It may sound like a lot of work, but it’s not any more difficult than making three side dishes for a holiday dinner. You can always opt to roast the mushrooms and Brussel sprouts with the broccoli and cauliflower. Or you could saute the mushrooms and Brussel sprouts and simply steam the other vegetables. If you have leftover porcini-cashew cream, you can use it as a condiment for bean burgers or grilled vegetable sandwiches.What’s especially nice about this recipe is that everything can be prepared ahead of time and re-warmed either in the microwave or oven just before everyone’s ready to sit down for dinner. Less time fussing over food means more time making merry with family and friends. Have a joyful holiday season and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Roasted Vegetables, Farro & Porcini-Cashew Cream

Porcini Cashew Cream (recipe follows)

1 cup farro
Vegetable broth
Fresh or dried herbs to taste (thyme, sage, rosemary, etc.)

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 small head broccoli, cut into small florets

1 lb. mushrooms, sliced

4 large shallots, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. Brussel sprouts, shaved

1 can chickpeas, drained
Smoked paprika

¼ cup toasted pignoli nuts

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cook the farro according to package directions, using vegetable broth instead of water and adding your choice of herbs.

Place cauliflower and broccoli in steamer basket and steam until they start to get tender. Remove and place on prepared baking sheet. Place on lowest rack and roast until the florets brown on the edges. Remove from oven and place in a large oven-proof serving bowl. Reduce oven temperature to 200F and place bowl in oven to keep warm.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until browned. Add to broccoli and cauliflower and return bowl to oven.

Add shallots to skillet and saute until softened and browned, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add Brussel sprouts and continue to cook, tossing frequently. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables and return to oven.

If necessary, wipe out skillet to remove any burned vegetables. Heat skillet on medium-high and add chickpeas. Cook until chickpeas start to brown. Sprinkle with smoked paprika. Add to the bowl with the other vegetables.

To serve: spoon farro onto a plate, then add roasted vegetables on top. Drizzle porcini-cashew cream on top of farro and vegetables.

Porcini Cashew Cream

½ oz. dried Porcini mushrooms
½ cup cashews, soaked and drained
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove (preferably roasted)
Ground sage, black pepper and salt to taste

Pour ½ cup of boiling water over porcini mushrooms and let sit about 20 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving water, and place in container of high-powered blender. Add remaining ingredients and process on high, adding reserved porcini liquid as needed to thin out.

12 Dec 2016

Italian Cult Food: Broccoli Rabe & Chickpeas in an Instant Pot

Broccoli Rabe & Chickpeas

Broccoli Rabe & Chickpeas

Broccoli rabe, again! For the past three weeks I’ve been getting a bouquet of broccoli rabe in my CSA share. That’s just fine with me since  ’tis the season for broccoli rabe and . . . Bruce is coming home from San Francisco today with a bag of sourdough bread. Does it get any better? Anyway, broccoli rabe is what I call an “Italian cult” food as we take great joy in preparing, eating and talking about broccoli rabe. It tends to have a bitter taste and that’s probably why it’s usually made with a lot of garlic that’s browned in olive oil. That aroma is just intoxicating. So I decided to make some broccoli rabe in my Instant Pot. In my somewhat limited experience with pressure cooking food, I’ve found that the process really can pound flavor into foods and you can get by with just a little oil, if any. This method is perfect for making broccoli rabe and chickpeas since they can stand up to the  pressure. The recipe is fast. Simply brown the garlic right in the pot, add red pepper, broccoli rabe, chickpeas and a little water. It only takes 3 to 4 minutes to cook and with a quick release you go from prep to plate in about 15 minutes. As I was enjoying my lunch it dawned on me that some fennel seeds would have been a nice addition. Boy, I hope this isn’t the last broccoli rabe of the season. Not only does this make a nice plated entree, but it will make a delightful sandwich with some of that sourdough bread. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas in an Instant Pot

Makes 2 to 3 servings

  • ½ teaspoon olive oil (optional)
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoons fennel seeds (optional)
  • 1 bunch of broccoli rabe
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup water or vegetable broth
  • Salt to taste

Cut off about 1” of the broccoli rabe stems and discard. Cut the remaining broccoli rabe in half. Set an instant pot to saute setting. (If using a stove-top pressure cooker, heat on medium high.) Add olive oil and garlic and saute until brown. Alternately you can dry saute the garlic, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add crushed red pepper and fennel seeds and cook about 30 seconds longer. Add broccoli rabe, ¼ cup of water or broth and chickpeas to pot. Secure lid and pressure cook on high 3 to 4 minutes, then quick release pressure. If there is excess water in bottom of pot, set to saute and cook until the liquid evaporates.

06 May 2016

Sweet Dreams: Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Bruce told me about this dream he had the other night. In his dream he and a childhood friend were eating Butterscotch Krimpets. He thought it odd to dream about Butterscotch Krimpets because he hasn’t had one in decades. I remember that one of my best friends loved Butterscotch Krimpets and would have one every day after school. It’s funny how certain foods can kindle happy memories and make for sweet dreams, so I wanted to come up with a recipe to hold onto a piece of our childhood. I looked at a few vegan recipes for Krimpets, but they were nightmarishly loaded with a lot of refined sugar, refined flour and non-dairy butter. Yes, these were vegan, but too far off from being whole food that they were definitely off the table for us. I still wanted to pursue a butterscotch treat and decided to take a different approach. I wanted to come up with a bar that had some flavor worth dreaming about yet not too complex to eat first thing in the morning. I used my Chickpea Blondie recipe as a starting point. The main flavor components in butterscotch are butter and brown sugar, so I turned to macadamia butter and maple syrup instead. To compensate for the extra liquid from the syrup I increased the amount of oat flour in the recipe. There were no add-ins like chocolate chips or nuts, so it’s a pretty scaled-down recipe. The Butterscotch Breakfast Bars came out tender, not too sweet with a “buttery” mouth-feel. These are things that dreams are made of. Sweet dreams and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Butterscotch Breakfast Bars

Makes one 8″ square pan

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • ½ cup macadamia butter
  •  1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats, processed into flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 8×8” baking pan with coconut oil. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper.

In bowl of food processor or in container of high-speed blender, process chickpeas, macadamia butter, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk together oat flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Add liquid ingredients and stir to combine. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the sides start to pull away from the pan and the bars look firm. Cool completely before cutting.


28 Apr 2016

Hard to Beet: Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

Beet Centerpiece

Beet Centerpiece

Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

Beets have always been one of those “I’m-sittin’-on-the-fence-about” vegetables. I’ve tried boiling, roasting and pickling beets to serve as a side dish or as an addition to salads. I’ve even burgerized them. (Oh, I should share that recipe with you soon.) They’re labor intensive, even a little messy and take a long time to get fork-tender. And after all that, they’re rather bland. I received a beautiful trio of beets in my CSA share last week and figured if nothing else they’d make a nice table arrangement. Then Bruce mentioned that his friend likes to eat raw beets. Really? I never thought of that. I tried a little sliver and it was quite tasty, so I tossed a handful of beet matchsticks into the salad. Not bad at all. Since I had three beets available, I decided to come up with a recipe that would put more focus on the beets. As I usually do with chickpeas that are destined for a salad, I marinated cubed beets in the dressing before adding some greens. As long as I was marinating beets I might as well add some chickpeas to take this salad from side dish (or centerpiece) to main course. I went with balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and honey.  I wanted a dressing that could stand up to kale and give a flavor boost to the beets. This is one hearty and healthy salad that’s hard to “beet”. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Beet Salad with Chickpeas & Kale

  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey or agave
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • 1 cup drained chickpeas
  • 1 medium beet, cut into chunks the size of chickpeas
  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and chopped (4 cups)

In large salad bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard and garlic powder. Add chickpeas and beets, stir and let marinate for at least 30 minutes. Add kale and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. You could add sunflower or pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries/cherries and chopped nuts.


11 Apr 2016

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