Spicy pickled zucchini slices

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Everyone is humblebragging about their surprisingly massive zucchinis and fauxmoaning on what to do with this summer’s harvest. And we’ve all made suggestions. Now here’s something completely different. I grabbed this recipe from the Bon Appetit website and have been making Szechuan zucchini slices for a few summers.

These zucchini slices are pickled but require no special equipment, no canning savvy and pose no threat of weird botulism spores (real canning freaks me out just a little).

Hot, sweet and salty, these slices will last for up to 2 weeks in the fridge and make a pretty hostess gift.

Watch for these slices to appear in an upcoming blog post accompanying an Asian slaw and  orange-peanut sweet potato burgers.

Note you need to make these slices at least 24 hours before you plan to eat them.

Ingredients

1 zucchini – either green or yellow – washed and sliced into thin coins

2 Tbsp granulated sugar (make sure the brand you buy is vegan*)

1 Tbsp salt

1 tsp chili flakes

2 whole pieces star anise

½ cup water

½ cup unseasoned rice vinegar (do NOT use seasoned rice vinegar – it’ll over-flavour and salt the brine).

Directions

Put the sliced zucchini into a 2 cup (500 ml) canning jar. Drop in the star anise and the chili flakes.

Mix the sugar, salt, vinegar and water in a cup or jar until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour this brine over the slices, seal the jar and store in the fridge. Let the slices sit for at least 24 hours before eating. They will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

*What? What’s this about white sugar not being vegan?? Yup. That’s right. Many manufacturers of granulated white sugar filter the product through animal bone char to create snowy white sugar. Ugh. If you don’t want death at your door, check out the manufacturing process for the brand you buy (in Canada, Redpath is a vegan brand). Now you know why vegans with a sweet tooth love their agave, dates and maple syrup so much.

 

 

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Orange-peanut sweet potato and rice patties with a side of slaw

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Yesterday I posted photos of pickled zucchini slices. That recipe was all in aid of these – some of the most delicious, satisfying, make-your-belly-happy patties you’ll ever enjoy.

Sweet potato and brown rice serve as a base for a sweet, salty, spicy and peanut-y taste palette that is pure delight.

My version is a riff on a recipe from One Green Planet. I upped the seasonings and got rid of the bun.

I’ve posted three recipes here: the orange-peanut sweet potato and rice patties, the miso sauce you can use both to dress a side of slaw and drizzle on the patties (it also makes a fantastic stir fry sauce), and the slaw ingredients.

Ingredients

For the patties

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 cup cooked brown rice

A flax egg made from 1 ½ Tbsp ground flax mixed with 3 ½ Tbsp water

3 Tbsp orange marmalade

4 ½ Tbsp peanut butter (just peanuts-and-oil peanut butter –none of that stuff with weird ingredients like icing sugar!)

3 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

2 -3 tsp Sriracha sauce

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground ginger

3 Tbsp mixed nuts or peanuts chopped (optional – for garnish)

For the dressing

3 Tbsp white miso

2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

2 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp soya sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tsp Sriracha sauce

For the slaw

1 kohlrabi peeled and grated. You will have about 1 ½ cups shredded kohlrabi. If you don’t have or want kohlrabi, use shredded green cabbage or napa cabbage.

1-2 green onions cleaned and sliced

4 radishes sliced

1 rib celery diced

1 carrot grated (optional)

1 small can water chestnuts drained and diced (optional)

PeanutPatty

Directions – the patties

Wash and dice the sweet potatoes into evenly sized pieces. You can peel the potatoes if you like, but it’s not necessary. Place the potatoes in a microwaveable dish and microwave for about 3-4 minutes until the pieces are soft. Once the pieces are cool enough to handle, mash them.

Preheat your oven to 400F.

In a large bowl, mix the rice and mashed sweet potatoes. Add the flax egg and use your hands to combine the ingredients.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir or use your hands to combine everything. I find it helpful to microwave the marmalade and peanut butter together for about 15-20 seconds to soften them up for easier mixing.

Form 3 very large or 4 large patties. The patties will be thick. Place them on a greased cookie sheet, or a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 20 minutes, then turn the patties over and bake another 15 minutes.

Because these patties are full of complex carbs, I preferred eating them with a dressing and skipped the bun. You could serve them on a bun with the slaw on top.

I sprinkled chopped mixed nuts on top for extra crunch and flavour.

Directions – the dressing

While the patties are baking, mix all the dressing ingredients in a jar or bowl with a lid. Use the dressing to pour over the patties and as the dressing for your slaw.

This dressing also makes a fantastic stir fry sauce.

Directions – the slaw

While the patties are baking, mix all the slaw ingredients together. Mix 2-3 Tbsp of the dressing into the vegetables and toss to combine.

 

 

Red lentil dal – dishing up some red hot love

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I love Indian food, and lucky me, I got to spend a month in the south of India partaking of some of the best Indian meals any person has ever enjoyed.

This recipe for red lentil dal is highly westernized but no less flavourful and nourishing than the more exotic originals. What it is though, is faster to make using ingredients that are readily available in North America and Europe. Don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you – it’s mostly spices you likely already have in your cupboard.

Ingredients

2 cups red lentils

1 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)

1 large onion diced

2 Tbsp curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

3-4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

397 ml can tomato paste (13.5 oz)

1 cup chopped spinach (optional)

2 tomatoes diced

Directions

Cook the lentils. You need 4 cups of liquid. I use a mix of vegetable broth and water. You can use just water or all vegetable broth. Bring the lentils and liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer covered. The lentils will only take about 15 minutes to cook. There may be a tiny amount of liquid in the pot and that’s okay. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt the coconut oil. Add the diced onion and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden.

Add all the spices and seasonings: curry paste, curry powder, cumin, tumeric, chili powder, sambal oelek, garlic, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and heat through combining with the onion. Add the chopped tomato and combine. Add the tomato paste and spinach and combine. Last, add in the cooked lentils and mix everything together.

Serve with basmati rice, samosas and chapati bread. Mmmmm.

 

Refried beans and rice – casserole style!

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Beans and rice are such an easy, affordable and comforting meal. Here’s my casserole version that everyone loves. This dish comes together quickly and is easy and no fail. It freezes well and is just one of those friendly, favourite recipes that you’ll be so glad you invited into your kitchen.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 cup jarred tomato salsa – whatever brand and heat level you prefer

3 cups fresh spinach

400ml can refried beans

½ cup pickled jalapenos – optional but I love the heat!

½ cup shredded vegan cheese. I use Daiya mozzarella or cheddar style cheese.1

½ cup corn – fresh, frozen or canned as you prefer

1-2 Tbsp chili powder

½ tsp oregano

¼ tsp basil

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp ground pepper

½ to 1 tsp salt (to taste)

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Directions

Place the rice and 2 cups of water in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the water is all absorbed. Add the salsa to the cooked rice and stir to combine.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Grease a casserole dish.

Mix the refried beans, the seasonings and corn in a bowl.

Layer half the rice-and-salsa mixture in the bottom of the casserole.

Add the spinach on top in a layer and tamp down. Add the refried bean mixture on top and smooth out. Scatter the pickled jalapenos on top, if using. Place the remaining rice-and-salsa mixture on top and smooth out. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. This dish makes 4 servings.

P.S. Okay, I’ll confess now…. I secretly call this dish Mexican dog food because while it’s delicious it never looks too pretty on the plate. So go ahead, fill up your plate, add some natchos, bark at the neighbours and eat up!

 

Lentil sloppy joes

SloppyJoe

 

When I was a kid, sloppy joes were a really big deal for lunch or dinner. Making them involved nothing more than ground beef and a can of Manwich sauce. I shudder to think of it now. These sloppy joys, on the other hand, are something to get excited about. They’re tangy with a hint of sweetness. The lentils are chewy and satisfying and the whole dish – never mind that long list of ingredients, almost all of which you probably have in your pantry already – comes together easily. And…. these joes are great for your body. They’re loaded with iron, fibre, protein and vitamin C.

Ingredients

1 cup of dried Du Puy lentils (or black lentils a/k/a beluga lentils). You want a smaller lentil that needs no presoaking and cooks quickly

1 medium carrot finely minced

1 stalk celery finely minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 red or green pepper diced

1 onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

2 tsp chili powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp dry mustard

15 oz can (541 ml) diced tomatoes

3 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar

½ to 1 Tbsp sriracha sauce (optional)

1 Tbsp prepared mustard

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp A-1 sauce (a/k/a brown sauce)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt (adjust according to how much salt is in your tomato paste and diced tomatoes)

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1/3 cup vegetable broth

Toasted bread or buns for serving. This recipe makes 4 generous servings.

Directions

Put the lentils, diced celery and carrot and 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes. The lentils will be chewy but still firm and most of the water will be absorbed. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onion and red or green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and dry spices and stir together, letting the spices heat through. Add all the remaining ingredients, including the saucepan of lentils (do not drain!) to the large sauce pan. Stir everything together to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncover for 15 to 20 minutes depending on how saucy you want your sloppy joes to be. I cooked mine for 20 minutes.

Serve over toasted bread, buns or fat pitas (as I did). This dish is even better the next day and freezes well for up to 2 months.

Hola! It’s Aztec soup – spices, veggies and lentils sing in a bowl.

AztecSoup

Here’s a hearty, flavourful soup that’s easy to make and satisfying. I love it with side of toast and sliced avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Alas, this delicious soup that’s loaded with great flavours and textures photographs badly. You’ll just have to trust me that this ugly duckling is beautiful on the inside (of your tummy).

This recipe makes four dinner-sized bowls. Mmmm.

Ingredients

1 medium onion chopped

1 cup (250 ml) red lentils

1 red or green pepper diced

2 carrots sliced into half-moon coins.

1 stalk celery sliced

½ cup fresh or frozen corn

1 large jalapeno pepper minced

2 cloves garlic minced

½ Tbsp olive or coconut oil

4 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, celery, onion, jalapeno and garlic and sauté on medium heat until the onion softens about 5 minutes. Add the diced pepper and sauté a few more minutes. Add all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

This soup will keep covered in the fridge for about 3-4 days and freezes well. It will last for 3 months in the freezer, but even better share with neighbours and friends.

Squash and coconut soup – spicy, exotic and velvety

CoconutSquashSoup

I receive a weekly produce box from a local farmers’ co-op. Every week is a surprise; we get whatever is in season and ready for harvest. As the season passes from June to November, we move from strawberries and rhubarb and endless lettuce to cabbages, apples, potatoes and squashes. And squashes. And squashes.

So, I made up a huge pot of this soup to share with my neighbours and to enjoy myself. The soup is flavourful and with a touch of heat from chilis. The coconut milk makes it velvety and creamy. I think this is the best soup I’ve ever made.

Ingredients

4 cups of uncooked yellow-fleshed squash – butternut, delicata, spaghetti, buttercup – whatever you have or prefer.

2 cups of peeled, diced sweet potato and carrots. I used 1 medium sweet potato and 2 carrots.

1 large white onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 red chili pepper – minced but don’t remove the seeds; they provide nice heat

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Salt to taste

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 can coconut milk (approximate 500 ml or 2 cups – it’s okay if it’s a bit more or less)

6 cups of vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil or coconut oil

Directions

TIP: True to their name, delicata squash are delicate and don’t travel well so you probably won’t find them in a large grocery store. However, they are a wonderful, mild, thin-skinned squash that you can cook simply by removing the seeds – no peeling required.

To easily remove the flesh of other, firmer squashes, pierce the whole squash a few times with a knife (this allows steam to escape) and microwave the vegetable for 4 – 6 minutes. That should be enough to soften the squash and make it easy to cut open, deseed, peel and dice.

Sauté the onion, garlic and chili in the oil until just soft. Add the curry powder, ginger and cumin and stir through to heat the spices. Add the ground black pepper, broth, squash, carrot and sweet potato and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes. You want all the vegetables soft enough that they will be blend-able. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Using an immersion blender or a regular blender, puree the vegetables and broth.

Once you have a smooth mixture, stir in the maple syrup and taste. Add salt if necessary. Add the coconut milk and stir.

Get a BIG bowl and a BIG spoon and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 9 cups of soup. Mmmm.