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Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Simple Stir Fry Vegetables

 

A simple vegetable medley that makes a great side dish or becomes a whole meal with the addition of some protein.  Fresh snap peas, thin slivers of red cabbage, crimini mushroom slices, caramelized onion with a touch of garlic and a small knob of fresh ginger finished with a splash of seasoned rice wine vinegar.  I love the colors!  Delicious.

 

 

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Holidays are a great time to share food with friends.  This year I decided to make a quinoa salad celebrating the theme for the Fourth of July. So I chose to make a Red and White Quinoa Salad and serve it in a big blue bowl.  This salad is large enough to feed 35  people during a progressive dinner so you might want to scale it down for a family or small gathering of friends.

Red and White Quinoa Salad in a Big Blue Bowl

Ingredients:

12 ounces white quinoa, cooked

12 ounces red quinoa, cooked

2 large red peppers, chopped

8 ounces of crimini mushrooms, diced

6 scallions, sliced

½ of a large red onion, thinly sliced

Generous handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 jars of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

15 ounces garbanzo beans

(I make big batches of beans and freeze them so I measured, defrosted and allowed these to dry a bit.  If you use canned beans, rinse them thoroughly and allow them to dry a bit.)

8 ounces crumbled feta cheese

1 cup slivered almonds

Lemon Vinaigrette (recipes follows)

 

Lemon Vinaigrette:

3 large lemons (about ½ cup)

1 ½ cups olive oil

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (adjust to taste)

Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Process all ingredients in a small food processor or use a whisk to emulsify the vinaigrette.

Begin by cooking the quinoa.  While the quinoa cooks, begin chopping your vegetables.  Your quinoa will finish cooking before you finish chopping so when the quinoa is done, remove it from the heat, fluff with a fork and let it rest covered for another 10 minutes or so.  Then remove the cover and allow the quinoa to cool while you finish chopping.

When all your vegetables are chopped, fold them into the quinoa along with the feta cheese crumbles and almonds.

Add the vinaigrette in increments of about ½ cup at a time until you are satisfied that your salad is seasoned properly to your liking.  Leftover dressing can keep in the refrigerator for several days and can be used for green salads and pastas salads too.

Cover the salad and set it in the refrigerator to chill.  This salad is best served chilled or at room temperature.  It makes a great potluck side dish because it travels well.  In fact, I take containers of this salad with me when I travel so I get my protein and vegetables, i.e. a complete meal, in flight and I don’t have to worry about spoilage or bringing a cooler as carry-on luggage.

 

 

 

 

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In the spirit of good health and in an effort toward minimizing our impact upon the planet, we are eating more vegetarian than animal protein based meals.  We are also taking full advantage of our winter garden to supplement our grocery shopping.  Whatever we can’t or don’t grow we try to buy at the Farmer’s Market before resorting to the local chain grocery store and we are finding quite a reduction in our food bill by observing these guidelines.

Good, wholesome fresh food is not only economical but packs a big wallop in terms of nutritional benefits and disease fighting elements.  If you decide to follow a healthful vegetarian diet with just occasional animal protein you will notice a marked savings on food bill, stronger hair and nails and glowing healthy skin tones.  No doubt about it.  So what’s stopping you?  For the new year, resolve to eat well and feed your body what it needs. You won’t regret it.  And if you are daring, you will tantalize your tastebuds.  C’mon!  Try it!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

Serves 4-6 depending upon portion size

2 ½ cups black beans, cooked one day ahead OR 2-15 oz. cans, rinsed and drained

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 2 ½ cups diced)

1 medium red pepper,  julienned

2 teaspoons olive oil

6 garlic cloves, minced

1 large onion, roughly diced

3 tablespoons chili powder

3 teaspoons coriander (cumin works well too if you like it; many people don’t)

1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or ancho chile powder for smokiness

1 teaspoon cayenne powder for heat

¼ teaspoon sea salt

2 to 2 ½ cups homemade vegetable stock or store-bought if you must

(chicken stock works if you aren’t sticking to a vegetarian diet but please use

Non-fat reduced sodium products)

2 cups chopped roma tomatoes, seeded OR a 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes (please don’t)

1 tablespoon lime juice (NO, lemon juice isn’t the same)

½ cup chopped cilantro, flat leaf parslely, watercress or arugula depending on your taste

Non-fat, plain Greek yogurt

Prepare the garnishes (cilantro or other and yogurt) in small bowls and set aside.

Prepare your mise en place (all ingredients ready on the counter,  cleaned & chopped, spices assembled)

Method:

Heat the 2 teaspoons oil in a nonstick pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, red pepper slices and sweet potato and cook them, stirring frequently, until the onion begins to soften.  This should take between 5-7 minutes over a gas flame.  If necessary , add a bit more oil.

Add the spices: chipotle, cayenne and chili powders, salt and then garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds.  Be careful not to overcook the garlic as it will turn bitter.

Add the stock (your choice, vegetable or non-fat, reduced sodium chicken stock but I’m hoping you’ll use homemade goodness.)

Bring the mixture to a strong simmer but don’t cross the fine line to boiling or you will have vegetable mush.  Cover.  Reduce the heat to keep a nice simmer.  Cook just until the sweet potato becomes tender.  This should take between 10-15 minutes depending on your burner capacity.

Add the black beans and the tomatoes.  Mix well.  Add the lime juice.  Mix well again.

Increase the heat to high and return the mixture to a mild simmer immediately.  Stir often to prevent burning and/or overcooking.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5-7 minutes.  This is not a watery chili.

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Serving suggestions: Serve in a bowl with a dollop of yogurt (or sour cream) and a garnish of green (cilantro, watercress, parsley or arugula)

Add some cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, jalapeno slices, grated white cheddar for that extra tart flavor, and it even works well with a sprinkle of pepita seeds.  Enjoy!

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My dedication to eating whole foods spurs our latest response to requests for natural foods with flair, flavor and plate appeal.  Therefore, assuming the plate is a canvas for the artistry of whole foods, we continue to work with the idea of a Portobello Mushroom Pizza.

We have evolved it to a heartier main course by adding some goat cheese and fresh baby spinach and the result was satisfying, healthful and most importantly, flavor packed!

The Portobello Mushroom Pizza is a great dish but this one takes it up a notch to a more satisfying stand-alone dish.  As a side, we offered a cup of minestrone soup, organic of course, and a couple of slices of homemade sourdough bread toasted with a touch of Asiago cheese for those who enjoy carbs.

End result:  happy diners, happy creators and full tummies.  What could be better?  Pair this meal with a lovely fresh red wine and you have a romantic dinner.

Simple process, not a recipe but a method: de-stem and de-gill two Portobello mushrooms, taking care to keep the cap intact.  Heat the broiler to high.

While the broiler preheats, chop 2 seeded Roma tomatoes into a small dice.  Add 4 small cloves of chopped garlic, 6 leaves of basil chiffonade and a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to the mix.  Stir well to combine.

Measure 1 ounce of goat cheese (chevré) mixed with chopped thyme, tarragon, or basil (your preference).  Set aside.

Lightly sauté 2 cups of spinach in a fry pan over medium heat until just wilted.  No oil or butter (translate: fats) necessary if you use a non-stick pan.

Line 2 dinner plates with fresh baby spinach sprinkled with Balsamic Vinaigrette (homemade if possible).  Chill the plates in the refrigerator while you broil the mushrooms.

Place the mushroom caps on a foil lined baking sheet.  Rub just enough oil on the caps to cover both sides, about 1 teaspoonful.  Broil, gill side down, just until the cap begins to shrink and yield its juice.  Remove from oven and turn gill side up.  Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Line the cap with the wilted spinach.  Top with the tomato-garlic mixture.  Dot with half the goat cheese and repeat for the other Portobello mushroom.

Return the mushrooms to the broiler, on the foil lined baking sheet, and broil until the goat cheese sizzles and begins to turn color.  Remove immediately, transfer to the spinach lined plates and serve while hot.

Enjoy!

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Pizza doesn’t get any easier or simpler than this!

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

Four 6″ Portobello Mushrooms, rinsed, stems removed and degilled

1 cup of chopped yellow tomato

1 cup of chopped red tomato

1 garlic clove, minced

1 leek, thinly sliced

3 large basil leaves, chopped

Panko bread crumbs, about a ½ cup

Low-fat mozzarella cheese or reduced fat jack cheese, grated, about 2 ounces

Procedure:

Simply degill four 6″ portobello mushrooms.  Broil them, with the gill side down for 5 minutes on a foil lined baking sheet.  While they are broiling, you can proceed to make the stuffing.

Chop and combine the yellow and red tomatoes with the chopped garlic, sliced leeks, basil, and panko.  Add the low-fat mozzarella or reduced fat jack cheese and mix well.

Remove the broiled mushrooms, turn them gill side up and discard any accumulated liquid.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Stuff each mushroom with one-quarter of the stuffing mixture.  Broil again for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts.

Serve with balsamic vinegar and a side salad and you’ve got Dinner with a capital “D”!

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Aside from the bountiful choices of fabulous flavors found in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking, its appealing aspect of extremely healthy food draws me back to it time after time.  In the West Indian state of Gujarat, the emphasis is on vegetables and freshness.

Most Gujaratis are strictly vegetarian and it is from this region that I draw inspiration for some of my gluten-free recipes as well as recipes for overall enjoyment at both small and large gatherings.  The majority of Gujaratis observe a belief that all living beings deserve respect and that taking of any life for personal enjoyment is forbidden.  Hence, it is in this region that I find vegetarian cooking at its perfection.

Saag Paneer, which is simply spinach with an Indian cheese in a flavorful sauce, is one of my favorite dishes.  The flavorings and sauce are considered beneficial medicinally and the spinach is a highly touted vegetable for overall well-being.

My recipe is based on those I enjoyed in India, in Indian restaurants and under the guidance of my culinary mentors.  It’s simple, serves 4-6 diners and reheats well the next day.

Gujarati Saag Paneer

2 lbs. of fresh baby spinach, washed, stems removed

(Substitution: 2 lbs. fresh leaf spinach, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped.  Do not use frozen spinach.  It is too watery and gives off a metallic taste that will ruin the recipe.)

¼ cup Ghee or melted, unsalted butter

½ lb. cubed Paneer cheese (an Indian semi-soft cheese) or substitute

½ lb. firm tofu or ½ lb. feta cheese that has been rinsed to remove excess salt

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

½ inch piece of ginger, minced

Indian Curry Powder, homemade* or store-bought but NOT Asian:

Depending on your preference this amount can vary

from 1 ½ teaspoons to 1 tablespoon.  I use about 1 tablespoon.

1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped (omit if you don’t like heat)

¾ cup buttermilk

¼ cup Greek yogurt (I like Fage)

Salt to taste

Wash and stem the spinach and set aside in a colander to drain.

Assemble the remainder of ingredients near your cooking area.  This will allow you to proceed with ease through the recipe.

Heat the ghee (or butter) in a deep sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add the cubed Paneer and fry while tossing occasionally to brown on all sides.  Be gentle because you do not want to break the cubes.  When the cubes are lightly browned, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pan, over medium high heat, sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeño.  Cook, while stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften.  Sprinkle the mixture with curry powder and stir to combine.  Within a minute or so, you should be able to smell the spicy aroma.

At this point, slowly add the spinach while stirring and folding to mix with the aromatics.  As soon as the spinach is bright green and softened, turn off the heat (if using electric heat, remove the pan from the burner) and stir in the buttermilk and yogurt.

Mix the sauce and spinach to combine well.  The mixture should be thick and creamy.  If it is too “watery”, add another ¼ cup yogurt.  Now, gently add the Paneer cubes and combine them with the spinach mixture.

This dish can be served as a vegetarian main course with basmati rice and/or any type of flat bread.  It’s also a versatile side dish when combined with a variety of other Indian foods.

*Basic Homemade Mild Curry Powder

Makes about ½ – ¾ cup

½ cup coriander seeds

4 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds

4 dried red chilies (for hotter flavor, add more chilies)

5 curry leaves

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon salt (may omit if observing a low salt or no salt diet)

Dry roast the whole spices (omitting the chili powder, turmeric and salt) in a large pan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan to keep the spices from burning or sticking.  When the spices darken, you will enjoy a fragrant aroma.  That means you can remove the pan from the heat and allow the spices to cool.

Grind the toasted whole spices in a spice mill, coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle until they become a fine powder.

Combine the ground spices with the chili powder, turmeric and, if using, the salt.  Mix well.  Store in a glass, airtight container.

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Aside from the bountiful choices of fabulous flavors found in Indian and Southeast Asian cooking, its appealing aspect of extremely healthy food draws me back to it time after time.  In the West Indian state of Gujarat, the emphasis is on vegetables and freshness.

Most Gujaratis are strictly vegetarian and it is from this region that I draw inspiration for some of my gluten free recipes as well as recipes for overall enjoyment at both small and large gatherings.  The majority of Gujaratis observe a belief that all living beings deserve respect and that taking of any life for personal enjoyment is forbidden.  Hence, it is in this region that I find vegetarian cooking at its perfection.

Saag Paneer, which is simply spinach with an Indian cheese in a flavorful sauce, is one of my favorite dishes.  The flavorings and sauce are considered beneficial medicinally and the spinach is a highly touted vegetable for overall well being.

My recipe is based on those I enjoyed in India, in Indian restaurants and under the guidance of my culinary mentors.  It’s simple, serves 4-6 diners and reheats well the next day.

Gujarati Saag Paneer

2 lbs. of fresh baby spinach, washed, stems removed

(Substitution: 2 lbs. fresh leaf spinach, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped.  Do not use frozen spinach.  It is too watery and gives off a metallic taste that will ruin the recipe.)

¼ cup Ghee or melted, unsalted butter

½ lb. cubed Paneer cheese (an Indian semi-soft cheese) or substitute

½ lb. firm tofu or ½ lb. feta cheese that has been rinsed to remove excess salt

1 large onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

½ inch piece of ginger, minced

Indian Curry Powder, homemade* or store bought but NOT Asian:

Depending on your preference this amount can vary

from 1 ½ teaspoons to 1 tablespoon.  I use about 1 tablespoon.

1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (omit if you don’t like heat)

¾ cup buttermilk

¼ cup Greek yogurt (I like Fage)

Salt to taste

Wash and stem the spinach and set aside in a colander to drain.

Assemble the remainder of ingredients near your cooking area.  This will allow you to proceed with ease through the recipe.

Heat the ghee (or butter) in a deep sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add the cubed Paneer and fry while tossing occasionally to brown on all sides. Be gentle because you do not want to break the cubes. When the cubes are lightly browned, remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

In the same pan, over medium high heat, sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and jalapeno.  Cook, while stirring, for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften.  Sprinkle the mixture with curry powder and stir to combine.  Within a minute or so, you should be able to smell the spicy aroma.

At this point, slowly add the spinach while stirring and folding to mix with the aromatics.  As soon as the spinach is bright green and softened, turn off the heat (if using electric heat, remove the pan from the burner) and stir in the buttermilk and yogurt.

Mix the sauce and spinach to combine well.  The mixture should be thick and creamy.  If it is too “watery”, add another ¼ cup yogurt.  Now, gently add the Paneer cubes and combine them with the spinach mixture.

This dish can be served as a vegetarian main course with basmati rice and/or any type of flat bread.  It’s also a versatile side dish when combined with a variety of other Indian foods.

*Basic Homemade Mild Curry Powder

Makes about ½ – ¾ cup

½ cup coriander seeds

4 tablespoons cumin seeds

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

2 tablespoons fenugreek seeds

4 dried red chilies (for hotter flavor, add more chilies)

5 curry leaves

1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

¼ teaspoon salt (may omit if observing a low salt or no salt diet)

Dry roast the whole spices (omitting the chili powder, turmeric and salt) in a large pan over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, shaking the pan to keep the spices from burning or sticking.  When the spices darken, you will enjoy a fragrant aroma.  That means you can remove the pan from the heat and allow the spices to cool.

Grind the toasted whole spices in a spice mill, coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle until they become a fine powder.

Combine the ground spices with the chili powder, turmeric and, if using, the salt.  Mix well.  Store in a glass, airtight container.

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Recently, several of my peers highlighted an old favorite legume, the chickpea—or garbanzo bean. Dorine highlighted the raw chickpea in this article, Fresh Chickpeas. Shortly thereafter, Richard Frisbie wrote about techniques for cooking our little bean here, Foodbites. Sonia Martinez followed up with a rousing article about cooking from scratch, Cooking from scratch is easy to do… , wherein kitchenMage hawked her new book, Cooking with Your Kids. Finally Katrina Hall made the mixture for dinner here, Fast Food.

What a great bunch of folks, eh? So having been duly motivated by the thoughts and words of these folks, I immediately purchased some garbanzo beans like Dorine did, followed Richard’s advice, made falafel from scratch after Sonia’s plea and Katrina’s shortcut—and now I’m hawking my creation in the style of kitchenMage. Gotta love these folks! (Kevin even made dessert here, Blackberry Ice Cream)

Here are my homemade, from scratch, highly seasoned, non-traditional Middle Eastern felafels. Mine are served open faced on a half moon of homemade pita bread instead of the traditional style of serving inside the pocket. They are served with a squirt of chili sauce, shredded lettuce, cucumber-yogurt sauce with a hint of lime and a dollop of homemade hummus. I forego the tahini to save calories. As if!

The recipe is simple. Madame Donna’s Middle Eastern Felafels:

Assemble the following in a food processor or blender or mash with a fork until it combines:

2 cups cooked chickpeas, use while warm
1/2 cup white onion, finely minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley or basil or cilantro, finely minced
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic or more, minced
2 tsp garam Masala (store-bought isn’t the same so make
your own)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp flour, optional depending on how moist your beans are after mashing.

Refrigerate for at least one hour, covered.

While the mixture chills, make your cucumber-yogurt sauce by combining:

1 cup Greek yogurt
½ seeded, peeled, minced cucumber
½ of a large lime or 2 tablespoons lime juice
pinch of kosher salt, more to taste if necessary
1 finely minced garlic clove, optional

Chill to allow flavors to meld until ready to serve.

Make either patties or small balls out of the falafel mixture. They should be about 2-3 tablespoons of mixture for either. This is the perfect time to engage your children in the kitchen. They can roll the balls or flatten the patties and believe me, they love to get their hands dirty!

Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add a neutral oil to a depth of about 1 inch. Heat until a pinch of water sizzles and evaporates almost immediately.

Slowly and carefully, add your felafel balls or patties to the oil. Brown until dark golden brown on one side. Turn. Brown on the other side. Drain on paper towels.

Serve hot with warmed pita bread, sauces, condiments, chopped fresh tomatoes and smiles.

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