Make it your way salad with an east Asian vibe

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The gardens are just starting to offer up fresh lettuces, radishes and even some peas here. While I’m not generally a huge salad fan, it’s impossible to resist all this garden goodness.

Here’s what I had for lunch today – a big green salad with Gardein chick’n strips and a sesame and soy sauce-based dressing.

Here’s the recipe for this quick and flavourful dressing.

1 ½ Tbsp soya sauce

1 ½ Tbsp sherry

1 ½ Tbsp agave nectar

1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar

1 Tbsp sesame oil

I  ½ Tbsp neutral flavoured oil (I used peanut oil)

2 -3 green onions finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients in a jar or small bowl or mug. This recipe makes lots of dressing – enough to dress a whole head of lettuce plus extra veggies. I like mixing my dressings in a jar with a lid so I can store any leftovers easily in the fridge.

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Tailor up the salad portion anyway you want. Mine has:

Bibb lettuce

Sliced navel orange

Radishes

Mushrooms

Freshly shelled peas

Other salad additions that would work well with this dressing are: broccoli, green beans, snap peas water chestnuts, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, red pepper, bean sprouts, celery, mango

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Add some toppings

I topped my salad with Gardein chick’n strips and toasted almonds. The toppings add oomph and flavour but use them as a garnish, not the bulk of your salad.

Other toppings that would work well with this dressing are: plain baked, crispy tofu,  plain, firm tofu,  seitan, edamame, toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seed, uncooked ramen noodles, cooked rice or mung bean noodles, avocado

This salad is totally customizable. Mix and match ingredients, add as much or as little of whatever as you like. That’s the beauty of cooking from scratch.

 

 

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Simply the best Indian-style curry ever

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Here it is, folks. The easiest, tastiest Indian-style curry I’ve ever tasted. It’s tasty, spicy, comforting, filling and super affordable with ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. You’ll have curry in 30 minutes from start to finish. Let’s go!!

Ingredients

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4 potatoes – cubed and boiled until tender

2 Tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil

1 onion diced

3 – 4 cloves garlic minced

2 tsps cumin

1 ½ tsps cayenne pepper (or less – this amount makes quite a hot dish)

4 tsps curry powder

4 tsps garam masala

1 inch piece of ginger root peeled and grated (about 1 tablespoon)

1 ½ tsp salt

1 (14 oz or 397 ml) can diced tomatoes

1 (145 oz or 397ml) can chickpeas drained and rinsed (1 ½ cups if you’re cooking from scratch)

1 cup frozen or fresh peas

1(14oz or 397 ml) can coconut milk

Directions

In a large pot, heat the oil. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté on medium heat until the onion is translucent.

While the onion, garlic and ginger cook, measure all the dry spices out into a small bowl or cup. You really want these ready to go so don’t skip this step.

Add all the spices and stir with the onion, garlic and ginger to heat through for about 1 minute.

Add the remaining ingredients and bring everything to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and simmer together for 10 minutes.

Serve over rice or with naan or chapatti or roti.

See? Easy. Enjoy!!

Mushroom risotto – classic and comforting

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I used to make risotto all the time before I adopted a vegan diet. But I was very leery of how much I’d enjoy a vegan risotto. No butter? No cheese? Turns out it’s no problem. This version is flavourful, creamy and vegan. If you have 30 minutes you have time to make this dish and wow yourself and a friend.

Making risotto is a bit of an exercise in faith. You just have to believe it’s going to work because halfway through the process, the pan will look like a messy failure. But it always turns out.

This recipe makes 2 generous servings or 3 appetizer size servings.

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (must be Arborio rice)

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vegan margarine

1 shallot finely minced (or 1 clove garlic minced and ½ onion minced)

1/3 cup (or so) of dry white wine

3 cups of mushrooms – I used a mix of white and cremini) sliced

½ cup fresh or frozen peas. If using frozen, thaw the peas.

1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 green onion or 6 chives chopped (optional)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper

Truffle oil and chopped pecans for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat the broth in a saucepan so it’s at a low simmer.

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their liquid and are browned. Put the mushrooms in the pot of broth.

In the same pan you fried the mushrooms in,melt the vegan margarine. Add the shallot (or onion and garlic, if that’s what you’re using) and sauté until translucent.

Add the rice and stir until it’s coated with the margarine and shallots and turning a light golden colour.

Add the white wine and stir together.

Now the magic. This step will take about 20 minutes.

One ladle at a time (about ½ cup), add broth to the pan of rice. Try to just add broth and not the mushrooms.

Stir the rice until the broth is all absorbed by the rice. At first the rice will quickly absorb the broth and at the same time it will release its starch, creating a creamy base. As the rice cooks, the broth will absorb more and more slowly. Patience. Listen to music. Ladle. Stir. Ladle. Stir.

In about 20 minutes your rice will be done and all your broth should be used up. The rice will be al dente.

Add the mushrooms you reserved in the broth, the peas, the chives/green onion, pepper and nutritional yeast and stir together.

I garnished my risotto with truffle oil and some chopped pecans.

SUGGESTION: If you have never tried truffle oil, I highly recommend it for a touch of richness and decadence. Yes, the oil is pricey. BUT you can buy a very small bottle and it will last about 18 months, if you keep it at room temperature out of the light. Only a teaspoon on a dish like this will have you feeling like a gourmet chef!