Fennel, orange and radish salad

FennelSalad

Poor fennel. So delicious yet so misunderstood. And poor you, if you’re not enjoying this gorgeous bulb with the bright green fronds. This vegetable is delicious raw or cooked and has a distinct licorice-y flavour and happy crunch. I think fennel bulbs look like ogre hearts and well… that just makes it all the more fun.

Ingredients

1 bulb fennel

1 naval orange – peeled with a knife so all the white pith is removed and then sliced  into bite sized pieces

4-5 radishes sliced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 Tbsp olive oil

1-2 tsp grainy Dijon mustard

salt and pepper to taste

fennelTo prepare your fennel, wash it under hot running water. Remove the first layer and the tough core. Cut off a few of the green fronds – they make a nice decorative touch. You can eat the stalks/shoots though they can be woody so unless I have a very fresh fennel, I skip the stalks. Cut your fennel bulb in half and then slice into bite sized slices.

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. This salad is a great winter salad when oranges are cheap and other leafy greens are hard to come by or expensive and imported.

This salad has a bright, refreshing taste and great crunch and will last for 3 days in the fridge.

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Kidney bean burgers with come back sauce

KidneyBeanBurgerComebackSauce

Okaaaay…. I never knew that bean burger recipes could create such varied and delicious results. I mean I thought a legume was a legume was a legume. Not so.

These red kidney bean and walnut burgers are my new favourite! They’re fantastic on their own, but the addition of the come back sauce makes them mind-blowingly awesome. I’m so glad I made the full batch of the comeback sauce because I’m eating it with everything. Why is it called come back sauce? Because you will come back for more.

For the burgers

15 oz can red kidney beans, drained, rinsed and mashed

1 small onion shredded and squeezed dry (you’ll have about 1/3 – ½ cup shredded onion)

1 carrot minced

2 green onions chopped finely

1/3 cup walnut pieces – I chopped my finely

2 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped (TIP – store leftover fresh parsley or other herbs in the freezer in a Ziploc bag. When it’s time to use them, you can crumble them instead of having to chop them. )

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

½ cup bread crumbs (I used panko since it is vegan)

Directions

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, using your hands. The recipe will hold together well and feel firm. Refrigerate for 30 minutes minimum and up to overnight. Form into 4 equal sized patties and fry in a lightly greased pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes per side to brown and warm the patties through.

Come back sauce

¼ cup onion minced

2 cloves garlic minced

¼ cup Vegennaise or other vegan mayonnaise

I Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp ketchup

1 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

I Tbsp Dijon mustard

I Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon ( roughly a lemon wedge’s worth)

1 tsp yellow prepared mustard

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Taste. Swoon. This sauce is versatile. I’ve had it on leaf lettuce as a dressing, on the burgers and even mixed with salsa with natchos.

To balance out the intense flavour and richness of this burger and come back sauce, I had a fennel and orange salad. Mmmm….

Ratatouille – the savoury stewed flavours of the early harvest

Ratatouille

My organic farmers’ box arrived this week with an eggplant, a yellow zucchini and a red pepper. Looked like ratatouille waiting to happen to me!

Ratatouille is a vegetable stew that’s satisfying and rustic. Rustic is cooking talk for “easy and carelessly chopped.” When I eat ratatouille, I envision sturdy French peasants eating from wooden bowls by the warm glow of the fireplace.

Ingredients

1 zucchini – cut in half lengthwise and then sliced

1 medium eggplant – with ½ the skin peeled off and then cut in cubes. There’s no magic in peeling off half the skin. I just like having some pieces with skin on and some skinless. Leave all the skin on, or take it all off. Your ratatouille, your rules.

1 red pepper – seeded and roughly diced (rustically diced)

3-4 cremini mushrooms – stems removed and sliced

½ large white onion diced

4 cloves garlic minced

19 oz can diced tomatoes

¼ cup fresh basil chopped

¼ cup fresh parsley chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 sprigs dried thyme (roughly 1 tsp dried thyme)

1 ½ Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground pepper

2 tsp olive oil

Directions

In a large pot, sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add all the other ingredients and stir well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and keep simmering for 30-60 minutes. The longer you simmer this dish, the more the veggies will break down. I preferred a chunkier stew and only simmered mine for 40 minutes.

TIP: Add a tablespoon or so of balsamic vinegar to most tomato dishes – spaghetti, minestrone soup, ratatouille or even cream pasta sauces. The vinegar adds depth and roundness to the flavours.

I had some leftover lentils in the freezer – about ¾ cup – so I threw them in the pot, but that is NOT classic ratatouille.

Ratatouille is usually served with crusty bread and might have cheese, particularly goat cheese, melted on top.

Since I am not a sturdy French peasant and am vegan, I will have my ratatouille over brown rice and with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Thai one on – Coconut curry soup with noodles and tofu

coconutcurrysoup

I love to Thai one on now and then and find that Thai cuisine is especially amenable to being veganized, if it’s not already vegan.

Here is a spicy, flavourful coconut yellow curry soup that’s a complete meal in a bowl thanks to my addition of tofu and glass (a/k/a bean thread) noodles.

The beautiful thing with this dish is that, because you make this soup from scratch, you can change it up any way you want. Make it hotter, spicier, veggier, no-carb-i-er – whatever suits you.

Here’s the version that suits me, closely adapted from The Thug Kitchen. This makes 3 pho-sized (i.e. very big) bowls of soup.

This recipe is easy to make and comes together quickly. You can be sitting down to a fragrant big bowl of coconut curry heaven in less time than it takes delivery food to arrive.

Ingredients

2 tsp coconut oil

½ large onion coarsely chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

1 large carrot cleaned and sliced in thin coins (I used a box grater’s slicing side)

1 yellow pepper coarsely chopped

1 cup broccoli florets cut into spoon-sized pieces

3-4 cremini mushrooms sliced

I packed cup spinach leaves

1 15oz can coconut milk (I use Arroyo-D)

4 cups vegetable broth

A thumb size piece of ginger root, peeled and grated (approx. 2 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce. Okay, I used that AND added two hot chilis but that’s just me

Juice of one lime

1 Tbsp yellow curry powder

2 Tbsp yellow curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen brand)

¼ cup fresh basil chopped – if you don’t have it, leave it out.

¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped – if you don’t like it, leave it out.

6 oz plain tofu, cut into cubes

2 bundles (about 4 oz) bean thread (a/ka/ glass) noodles. If you don’t have/want these, you could add 1 cup of cooked rice or 4 oz of cooked spaghetti (about 1 cup cooked) or just leave omit this starch component. You are going to add already-cooked noodles or rice to the pot, so in the case of the glass noodles – rehydrate them by soaking them in hot water for 5 minutes and drain.

If you had kaffir lime leaves, it’d be awesome to throw one or two in as the soup simmers.

Directions

In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in the coconut oil until the onion is transluscent. If you are adding extra chilis, add them at this stage.

Add the carrot, pepper and mushrooms and saute for maybe a minute. Keep your veggies crisp because they will cook more in the broth.

Add the ginger, curry powder and curry paste and stir around to incorporate and let the spices get fragrant.. TIP – never use your curry powder in any dish without letting it have this cooking step. It will give your dish a finished flavour.

Add the broth, soya sauce, coconut milk, broccoli, basil and cilantro. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes (depending on how mushy you want that broccoli). If you are using lime leaves, add them at this stage.

Add the lime juice, srirachi sauce, and spinach and stir in. Add the tofu and noodles. Let simmer one more minute to give the spinach time to wilt.

Remove the lime leaves. Taste and adjust flavours to suit yourself. Because I used homemade broth, my soup was not salty at all so I added more soya sauce.c

Make room for muhummara – a tangy red pepper and walnut dip

Muhummara 

Muhummara

Move over hummus and make room for muhummara – a savory, almost meaty dip with a slightly sweet tang that makes it gorgeous to eat on endive leaves..

This dish does require a bit of planning. The peppers need time to roast and cool.

2 red peppers

1 cup walnut pieces – toasted

3 cloves garlic

½ tsp cumin

1 tsp red pepper flakes

The juice from one lemon

2 ½ Tbsp pomegranate molasses (find it in the foreign food section of larger supermarkets or in markets specializing in Middle Eastern and/or Halal foods).

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

½ cup bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs because vegan bread crumbs can be hard to find…Ryvita crackers can also be turned into excellent, vegan bread crumbs)

¼ cup tomato paste (TIP: buy a large can of tomato paste and dole it out into 2-tablespoon portions onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet. Place it in the freezer and let the tomato paste dollops freeze ’til solid. Store the frozen dollops in a container and you’ll have tomato paste when you need it with no waste. I/4 cup is 4 tablespoons).

To toast the walnuts: Do this either in a dry frying pan on high heat, shaking constantly because the walnuts will burn in a flash. I prefer to toast my nuts and seeds in a toaster oven at 430F for 5 minutes.

To roast the peppers: remove the stems, cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the peppers cut side down on a cookie sheet and roast at 450 for 10-15 minutes. They should be charred on the outside. Place the still-hot peppers in a paper bag. Roll the bag’s rim to seal it and let the peppers steam. When they’ve cooled down, their charred skins will slide right off. Gosh, doesn’t that sound so evil?

Once you have toasted walnuts and roasted peppers, everything comes together in mere minutes.

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend on high until you have a thick dip. You may need to scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl once or twice. You can enjoy the dip immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. I find the muhummara is even better the next day.

Enjoy with endive leaves or crackers or pita bread. SO GOOD and something a little different!

Raw, vegan, carrot cake cupcakes with cashew frosting

September marches on and it’s still hotter than sin. It’s enough that we’re cooking outside; I’m not going to cook inside too. But a gal’s gotta eat. These cupcakes are all raw so require no heat. My carrots this year are especially sweet and juicy; perfect for these delicious treats.

CarrotCake

For the frosting

1 cup raw cashews soaked overnight (8 hours) and drained

1 Tbsp maple syrup

½ Tbsp melted coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp lemon juice

½ tsp salt

In a food processor, blend all the ingredients. Spoon the frosting into a piping bag for piping onto the cupcakes. I don’t have a piping bag, so I used a plastic ziplock bag with the corner snipped off to do my piping. You don’t get a fancy result, but you get results. J

For the cupcakes

2 cups shredded carrots

½ cup walnut pieces

½ cup dates, pitted and soaked in hot water for about 15-30 minutes

½ cup raisins (if you don’t like raisins, try diced dried apricot)

¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves

Pinch salt

Put the dates, walnuts and maple syrup in a food processor and blend. It’ll look ugly but persevere.

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together and then scoop into cupcake liners. Top with the frosting and keep in the freezer. Let thaw about 10 minutes before eating.

I think the cupcakes are delicious on their own without the frosting and could see making these into carrot cake balls rolled in ground walnuts.

My salad days

My salad days

It’s September 1st and the garden is bursting with goodies: yellow and green beans, savoy cabbage, potatoes, carrots, onion, green pepper, cucumber and tomatoes.

Summer is having a hot and steamy farewell this week so I opted for a quartet of salads for my dinner.

SaladDays

  1. Spicy Asian coleslaw (top of the plate)
  2. A creamy cucumber salad (on the right)
  3. A traditional bean salad (front and centre), and
  4. My mom’s potato salad (on the left).

Each recipe makes about 3-4 servings. Each salad is better after sitting overnight but you MUST let the bean salad sit overnight or you won’t get the full flavour effect.

Spicy Asian slaw

4 cups of green cabbage shredded or diced (that’s about 1/3 of a savoy cabbage)

1 carrot sliced or shredded

½ stalk celery sliced thinly

¼ of a large onion diced

¼ of a green pepper diced

2 Tbsp Vegeniase or other vegan mayo-type dressing

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp hot chili paste (I use sambal oelek)

About 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl and enjoy! I like this salad with roasted tofu too and a few chow mein noodles.

Note – if you have radishes they are great in this salad too and add pretty colour.

Creamy cucumber salad

About half of a large English cucumber. Do not peel. Cut into quarters and then slice.

1 green onion sliced – I use the white and green

1 tsp fresh dill or more to taste

A few grinds of black pepper

½ tsp salt

I Tbsp white vinegar

1 Tbsp Vegeniase or other vegan mayo-type dressing

Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and enjoy!

Traditional bean salad

¾ cup fresh beans

15 oz can of mixed beans (not bean salad) – drained and rinsed

¼ of a green pepper diced

½ of a large onion cut in half and then sliced in thin rings

½ stalk (or more) celery thinly sliced

¼ cup white vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil (or good vegetable oil)

3 Tbsp sugar (use raw sugar, processed, white sugar may have been made with animal bone ash – ugh)

½ tsp salt or to taste

A few grinds of black pepper to taste

Cut the stem end of the beans off and put the beans in boiling water until they are cooked – about 5-10 minutes. Drain the beans and let them cool. When the beans have cooled, cut into 1” pieces and place in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Toss everything together and let marinate for a few hours or overnight. You really must let this salad marinate!

My mom’s potato salad

3 cups of boiled potatoes (I live the skin on), cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces

¼ of a large onion diced

1 stalk celery sliced thinly

1-2 dill pickles diced

1 ½ Tbsp olive oil or other good vegetable oil

2 Tbsp dill pickle juice (the brine from the jar)

3 Tbsp Vegeniase or other vegan mayo-type dressing

Salt and pepper to taste (careful on the salt – the pickle juice is already salty!)

In a large bowl toss the potatoes, onion, oil and pickle juice together until the potatoes and onion are coated. Add the remaining ingredients and toss together.

p.s. My mom would not be happy that I shared her recipe. She would be delighted that we’re all still gushing over her potato salad though.