Tag Archives: fat-free

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

Don’t Fear the Fava: Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad

Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad with Quinoa

Ever since I saw “The Silence of the Lambs” many years ago, I’ve shied away from eating fava beans. It probably has something to do with Hannibal Lechter’s famous line that’s too gruesome to repeat on a food blog. A few months ago I mustered up the courage to buy a bag of dried, unpeeled fava beans. After soaking, peeling, boiling and then incorporating them into a recipe, I was left wondering what the fascination with fava beans was all about. This week’s CSA share included a bag of fresh fava beans. I peeled away the thick, spongy pod to reveal less than a cup of bright green beans. I boiled the beans for two minutes before peeling away the tough skin. A cup of fava beans is not enough to stand by themselves as the focal point of a meal, so I decided to use them in a salad with asparagus, green onions and a lemon-thyme dressing. The salad looked bright and pretty and tasted delicious. Yet, it didn’t look like it would make a substantial meal on its own. I wanted to add one other element that would round out the plate but not over-shadow the salad. My first thought was to add a grain. Farro has a nice texture and a nutty flavor, so I loaded up the steamer and waited. While the farro was cooking I thought that quinoa would make a nice pairing. As soon as the farro was finished, I steamed some quinoa. Both grains complemented the salad perfectly. I might also try serving the salad over fresh baby lettuce, arugula, spinach as an appetizer or side dish. I look forward to seeing more fava beans in my future. And If I don’t, I’ll just use fresh peas or lima beans instead. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad

Note: if fresh fava beans are not available, substitute cooked lima beans, green peas or additional asparagus.

1 lb. asparagus
1 cup fresh fava beans
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Lemon Thyme Dressing (recipe below)

Trim the tough bottoms from the asparagus. Cut into one-half inch pieces. Place in steamer basket set over water and steam for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse under cold water. Drain and place in shallow serving bowl.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add unpeeled fava beans and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, rinse under cold water and drain. Remove and discard the skins. Place the peeled fava beans in the bowl with the asparagus. Add the green onions and lemon-thyme dressing to the bowl. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings. Let marinate if time allows. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

Serve over greens, farro or quinoa.

Lemon Thyme Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons honey or brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, pressed
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper and salt to taste

Place all ingredients in glass measuring cup and whisk to combine.

 

31 May 2017

Impulse Buying: Air-Fried Zucchini Sticks

Zucchini Sticks

I know I have a problem when it comes to kitchen equipment, so I really try to avoid “impulse purchases”. I consider how much I will use it, how much space it will take up and if it will just end up on the Island of Misfit Toys (i.e. my basement). Once I decide to add another appliance to my arsenal, I usually read as many reviews and compare costs to make sure I’m getting the best one to suit my needs. I happened to be shopping for waste baskets at Bed, Bath and Beyond and thought I’d just “check out” what they had in the way of air fryers. Right on the top shelf was one made by Phillips.What really made it stand out was the face of Gordon Ramsey plastered on the box. He usually wears a scowl, so I figured this must be a good piece of equipment if he’s smiling about it. The air fryer already had a hefty markdown, and combined with my 20% coupon and Chef Ramsey’s endorsement I decided to bring this baby home. I’m happy I did. So far, I’ve made French fries, sweet potato fries, glazed tofu and these Breaded Zucchini Sticks — all without one drop of oil. The air fryer is so easy to use and clean. Just load up whatever you’re “frying” into the basket then set the temperature and timer. The only other thing you need to do is shake up the basket half way through. That’s it! For this recipe, I simply dipped the zucchini sticks in aquafaba (the liquid from canned chick peas) then coated them with seasoned bread crumbs. I “fryed” them at 350F for 25 minutes. To my surprise the coating did not fall off the surface and “fryed” up nice and crisp. If you don’t have or want to buy an air fryer, you can bake the zucchini in the oven. I served the zucchini sticks with some left-over red pepper sauce I had in the fridge, but I would probably just use some marinara sauce the next time I make these. The only impulse I have now is to create more recipes to make in my air fryer. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Breaded Zucchini Sticks

1 zucchini squash (about 1 lb.), cut into ½” thick sticks
½ cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon oregano or other herb
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon tomato powder (optional)
Aquafaba (liquid from canned chick peas)

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Combine bread crumbs, oregano, garlic powder and tomato powder in shallow dish. Place aquafaba in a bowl. Dip zucchini sticks in aquafaba, then coat with bread crumbs. Place zucchini sticks in a single layer on baking sheet.

To cook in an air fryer:

Place zucchini sticks in basket of air fryer, alternating each layer to allow more even browning and to prevent them from sticking together. Fry at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. About half way through cooking, gingerly rearrange the zucchini sticks and continue cooking.

To bake in an oven:

Preheat oven to 400F. Bake for about 20 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

08 May 2017

Ole! Chipotle Sweet Potatoes & Taco Kale

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

I like to get the most out of my food, so I try to come up with recipes that can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve been thinking about some type of empanada to make for Cinco de Mayo. I wanted it to be easy and definitely not fried. The “easy” parts were baking sweet potatoes, sauteeing kale and defrosting black beans. What’s nice about these recipes is that they can be enjoyed in so many ways. We had the sweet potatoes, kale and black beans plated for dinner one night and I used the left overs to make the empanadas a few days later. The empanadas can be filled a day before you plan to bake them, so this makes them perfect when planning a party. You could also use them to fill burritos or enchiladas. I’m hungry, how about you? Let’s enjoy our dinner tonight and come back for some empanadas later in the week. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Note: As long as I’m putting on the oven, I usually make a large quantity of sweet potatoes to have for other meals during the week.

About four large sweet potatoes
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (from a can)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a few potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until very soft and the juices start to ooze out of the potatoes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, measure out two cups and place in a small bowl. Add one canned chipotle pepper and mash to combine.

Serve as a side dish or as a component in burritos or empanadas.

Kale with Taco Seasoning

1 lb. kale, de-ribbed and chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons taco seasoning

Set an instant pot to saute setting. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add ¼ cup of water and taco seasoning, then place kale on top. Set instant pot to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release and remove cover when safe. To cook on stove top, saute garlic in a large non-stick skillet, add water and kale. Cover and cook until wilted, then remove cover to allow liquid to evaporate.

30 Apr 2017

Flexibility: Eggplant Puttanesca

Eggplant Puttanesca & CameBOSH

I like recipes that are flexible. They can be flexible from the standpoint of not needing exact measurements with ingredients that can be easily substituted. Flexible also means that the dish can be served either hot or cold, as an entree or appetizer, and can be served at the table or easily transported to work or a family gathering. One of my favorite eggplant recipes is for Baingan Bhartha, an Indian dish made with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. Some time ago I changed it up and made an Italian-influenced Giambotta. Another one of my favorite meals is Pasta Puttanescaa spicy dish made with tomatoes, olives and capers. I took bits and pieces of these dishes and came up with this recipe for Eggplant Puttanesca. I grilled eggplant slices then simmered them with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, capers, garlic and crushed red pepper. It’s a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own, with a side of pesto-scented orzo or Italian bread for dunking. It reheats nicely and can be eaten at room temperature which makes for a tasty, make-ahead appetizer. Toss it with a small cut pasta to pack for a workday lunch or to share at an outdoor gathering. I had the leftovers for lunch today with CameBOSH, a warm cheese-like spread from Bosh TV. I still have a little leftover and I’m already dreaming up my next meal. Add a little flexibility to your meal plan with this Eggplant Puttanesca. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

EggplantPuttanesca

Eggplant Puttanesca

8 plum tomatoes (or 1 can Italian plum tomatoes)
1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Kalamata olives, sliced in half
2 teaspoons dried marjoram or oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked pasta (a small cut like orzo)

If you’re using canned tomatoes, skip this step. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Using a knife, score an “x” into the blossom end of the tomatoes. Place tomatoes in water long enough for skin to soften and peel away from the flesh of the tomatoes. Place in a colander and when cool enough to handle, remove skins. Place tomatoes in food processor and process until chunky.

Slice eggplants crosswise into 1” thick slices. Preheat outdoor grill on medium heat. (It’s not necessary to coat the grates with oil, but you may do so if you like.) Place eggplants on grill and cook until grill marks appear on both sides. Remove to cutting board and cut slices into quarters or sixths. Set aside.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. (You can use a small amount of olive oil to coat the skillet if desired.) Add garlic and saute until it starts to brown, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Add tomatoes, capers, olives, marjoram and red pepper. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Add eggplant and continue to cook until desired tenderness (about 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked pasta or crusty Italian bread.

12 Apr 2017

Irish & Italians: Corned Beets & Cabbage Dinner

Corned Beets & Cabbage with Chive Potatoes

St. Patrick’s Day was never one of my favorite holidays, but I did enjoy the corned beef and cabbage dinner my parents would make for the occasion. (Actually, I’d take a St. Joseph’s zeppole over corned beef and cabbage any day, but that’s another story.) I don’t remember them having it any other time of the year, so it was a really special treat for us. I remember one St. Patrick’s Day when Dad had a seizure and spent the day in the emergency room and Mom had to leave the dinner partially cooked on the stove. I think Dad, the trooper that he was, was more upset about the ruined dinner than about being in the hospital. Or the time, shortly after she moved in with us, when Mom passed out and hit her head on the kitchen floor for yet another St. Patrick’s Day emergency room visit. I guess the luck of the Irish doesn’t cover the Italians. So I wanted to pay homage to St. Patrick Day (and my parents), and came up with this Corned Beets & Cabbage Dinner. The cabbage, beets, carrots, onions and garlic are braised with vegetable stock, vinegar and pickling spices. I used red cabbage since I new everything would turn purple from the beets. Even the carrots take on a different color. The potatoes are made in an instant pot, but you can use baked potatoes or your favorite steamed or roasted potato recipe. I struggle to find cabbage recipes that we both really enjoy, but I have to say that this recipe came out very tasty. The aroma of the corning spices bring back memories of the corned beef and cabbage simmering for hours in my parents’ kitchen. Remembering all of the happy St. Patrick’s Days spent with my parents, here’s an Irish toast from an Italian girl:

“To all the days here and after
May they be filled with fond memories, happiness, and laughter.”

Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Corned Beets and Cabbage

Braising Ingredients:

3 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. mustard seeds
8 whole allspice berries
4 whole cloves
2 small bay leaves
½ tsp. black peppercorns
12 whole juniper berries
½ tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. ground celery seeds
2 whole garlic cloves
¼ cup vinegar
2 cups hearty vegetable broth

1 lb. beets, sliced into ¼” thick x ½” wide strips
8 oz. carrots, sliced into strips ¼” thick x ½” wide strips
1 small head of red cabbage

Place all braising ingredients in a deep saute pan. Bring to a boil. Add beets to liquid and place remaining vegetables on top. Lower heat to a simmer, cover and and cook until vegetables are soft and liquid has evaporated. This could take 30 minutes or longer depending on how soft you like your vegetables.

Herbed Potatoes in an Instant Pot

2 lbs. “creamer” potatoes, cut in half (about 1-1/2” chunks)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon dry mustard
Salt to taste (optional)

Place all ingredients in Instant Pot insert. Add ½ cup water. Pressure cook on high for 6 minutes, then quick release pressure.

Variation: omit rosemary and thyme and add 1 tablespoon dried chives

14 Mar 2017

Bowled Over: Fennel, Farro & Fagioli

Fennel, Farro & Fagioli

Have you ever been “bowled over”? The term is synonymous with amazed or astonished. When I uploaded this photo of my Fennel, Farro & Fagioli it struck me how a dish of full of beans, fennel, farro and greens could have the ability to bowl me over. This recipe hits on so many aspects of a complete whole food, plant-based meal. It’s made with beans, greens, vegetables, whole grains and uses very little/no oil and salt. Who could ask for anything more? Bowl someone (or yourself) over today with a bowl of Fennel, Farro & Fagioli. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Fennel Farro e Fagioli
Makes 4 servings
1 small onion
1 small fennel bulb
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil (optional)
½ tsp. fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups white or red beans (or two 15 oz. can)
½ cup uncooked farro
3 to 4 cups water
1 teaspoon Better Than Boullion vegetable or “No Chicken” base (optional)
a few handful of arugula or other greens
Cut onion, fennel, carrot and celery into pieces. Process in food processor until finely chopped. Add garlic and pulse a few times.
Coat bottom of large saucepot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. (You could heat 2 tablespoons of water to omit the oil.) Add vegetables and cook until softened and lightly browned. Add ground fennel and red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add farro, beans, water and bouillon. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Add arugula during the last few minutes of cooking.

16 Feb 2017

Stay-at-home Romantic: Moroccan Eggplant Spread

Zalouk

When Valentine’s Day falls on a weekday and instead of making reservations you would rather make your own quiet celebration at home, you just might be a “stay-at-home” romantic. With a little advanced planning, you can enjoy this make-ahead, Mediterranean-inspired meal that will still taste fresh with a minimal amount of time spent cooking on Valentine’s Day. Today’s recipe is for Zalouk, a delectable spread made with eggplant, tomatoes and exotic Moroccan seasonings. I was introduced to Zalouk a few weeks ago at a nearby restaurant. Their version is tasty, but it contains quite a bit of olive oil. I wanted to come up with a version that is virtually fat free. I put a light coating of olive oil in a non-stick skillet before adding the eggplant and tomatoes, but you can add more olive oil if desired. You can serve it warm or at room temperature. My recommendation for an effortless Valentine’s Day meal that looks and tastes like you were cooking all day is to make the Zalouk and my Turkish Lentil Soup a few days ahead of time. Prepare this refreshing Fennel Salad right before dinner and round out the meal with warm pita wedges or a loaf of crusty Italian bread. Even if you don’t leave room for dessert, these miniature Pistachio Date Nests and a glass of bubbly are a sweet way to wind down your evening. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Morrocan Eggplant Spread (Zaalouk)

(makes about 2 cups)

Olive oil (optional)
1 large eggplant, skinned and diced
2 large tomatoes chopped
2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Fresh lemon juice

Heat a non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. (You may lightly coat the skillet with olive oil.) Add eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, paprika, cumin, salt and coriander. Cook until eggplant and tomatoes are mushy and thickened, adding water if necessary to prevent sticking. Stir in desired amount of lemon juice. Serve warm or cold, as a side, a dip or a spread.

12 Feb 2017

Supersized: “Chic” Filet Sandwich

Chik-fila Sandwich

There’s a fast food restaurant chain in the US called Chick-fil-A that serves, you guessed it, all types of chicken sandwiches. I took my Mom there once and ordered a bean salad for myself. It was enough to fill a thimble. Why is it that plant-based food options in fast food restaurants are not supersized? Why can’t they offer some kind of veggie burger? That’s how I came up with my “Chic” Filet Sandwich.  Bruce and his friends used to go there for lunch and he would jokingly pronounce it as “chic-filet.” One definition of chic “is a style that expresses specified trendy lifestyle or activity.” Since more and more people are adopting plant-based diets for health and humane reasons, “Chic” Filet seems apropos. 

I sauteed onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to give the burgers a chicken soup flavor and added cannelini beans for substance. You can experiment with the seasonings to suit your taste (or what’s on hand in your pantry). I use either a 1/3 cup measure for an average size burger or a 1/2 cup measure for a supersized one. I made a plain mock mayo using raw cashews. You can spice it up by adding a small amount of the adobe sauce from canned chipotles, Siracha sauce. If you don’t eat cashews, you could try mashed avocado. Tasty, satisfying and it passes my “stays-within-the-bun” test. Make some “Chic” Filet Sandwiches and start a new trend of supersized healthy eating. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

“Chic” Filet Sandwich

1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup bread crumbs (oatmeal for gluten free)
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons savory, marjoram or thyme
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning (or other seasoning blend)
Salt and pepper, to taste

hamburger buns, sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce for serving

Brown mushrooms in non-stick skillet. Remove to food processor. Brown onions, garlic, carrots and celery in non-stick skillet. Add spices and herbs and cook 1 minute. Add to food processor along with remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Using either a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measure, portion out the mixture and form into patties. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Heat an electric griddle on high and cook burgers until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. You can also bake in a 375F oven, turning once halfway through cooking (about 20 minutes total). Serve on your choice of bun with lettuce, tomato, onions and top with cashew mayo or your favorite condiment. You can individually wrap and freeze the burgers after they are cooked.

Cashew Mayo

½ cup raw cashews soaked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp. black salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Process in blender until smooth, adding water as necessary to thin.

31 Jan 2017

Sultry Soup: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

When I think of Mediterranean cuisine, one word comes to mind: sultry. What appeals to me about this food is how somewhat common herbs, spices and aromatics get blended into a dish in an exotic way. A few weeks ago, Bruce and I tried out a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time. The Mediterranean Grille serves tasty food with a Moroccan and Turkish influence. We ordered a vegetable tagine, Zalouk (eggplant dip) and Turkish Red Lentil Soup. Everything was so delicious that I couldn’t wait to come up with my own versions. Why am I so excited about this soup? Well, it’s made with one of my favorite legumes, red lentils. It contains bulgur, a grain that I’ve wanted to include in my recipes but haven’t gotten around to. And, I love the flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. It comes together quickly, cooks in one hour and fills your home with an enticing aroma. You can round out your meal with some olives, a bowl of your favorite hummus and warm pita or rustic bread. Oh, this is so good.Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

makes about 3 quarts

1/2 cup soaked bulgur (see notes)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 cups vegetable stock or water
Lemon slices for serving

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook until they are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, lentils and bulgur into the onions and stir to coat. Add the tomato paste and water or vegetable stock; bring to a boil, then cover and cook until soft and creamy, about 1 hour. Ladle into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

To soak bulger: Place ¼ cup dry bulgur in small bowl and cover with ¼ cup boiling water. Let stand 1 hour. This should yield ½ cup of soaked bulgur.

 

25 Jan 2017

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