Archive for the 'vegan' Category


Wild and Brown Rice Salad

A certain person in this house doesn’t like raw bell pepper. Specifically, it’s Jeff. I’ve never quite understood why. I understand green bell peppers, but how could you not like red bell pepper? It’s so sweet and yummy. But more often than not it ends up pushed to the side of Jeff’s plate. He’s also not crazy about cucumber. Needless to say, he has steered clear of this salad.

I, on the other hand, love everything on this ingredient list. Lately I’ve been on the prowl for recipes like this one. It’s quick, full of flavor and easy to eat while I’m stuck at my desk on deadline. This was a incredibly busy week, so a container of wild and brown rice salad and an apple has been my lunch almost daily. And because it’s so incredibly healthy, I’ve felt zero guilt about indulging my 3 p.m. chocolate cravings.

Wild and Brown Rice Salad
Martha Stewart Living 2002 Annual Recipes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups cooked wild rice
3 cups cooked brown and/or brown basmati rice (about 1 1/3 cups uncooked)
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces [I also added 1 red bell pepper]
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, strings removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 seedless cucumber, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
6 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and mustard; set aside.

Place the wild rice, brown rice, bell pepper, onion, celery, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Add the dressing, and toss well to combine. Transfer to a bowl.

Serves 8 to 10 as a side dish.


Eggplant Caponata

I know what you’re thinking. Seriously? More eggplant??

Eggplants are like bay leaves. I use them all the time but don’t really know what they taste like. As long as they’re in season, they’re on our counter.

All summer, I’ve wanted to make caponata, a Sicilian dish that’s usually served as a salad or relish. There are a gazillion variations of this, but generally it’s comprised of eggplant, onion, tomatoes, capers, olives, nuts, anchovies, vinegar and olive oil (I skip the anchovies). It’s one of those foods that improves with time. You make it, put it in the refrigerator for 8 hours or more, and then serve.

This one has almonds and pine nuts, which lend a nice crunch. The flavors are strong. I prefer it on toasted bread, but you could eat it as a relish or salad. Serve at room temperature.

Continue reading ‘Eggplant Caponata’


Israeli Couscous with Roasted Eggplant

I was waiting to get my haircut this afternoon when I came across this recipe, or a variation of it, in Bon Appetit. Once again, I had eggplant on the brain. We leave for Colorado in three days, which means  a cooking blitz to use the fruit and veggies that were in our Fair Shares CSA box: eggplant, sweet peppers, sunchokes, pears, figs, tomatoes and watermelon. I’ll probably give away the watermelon.

This would take care of the eggplant, and it looked delicious. I happened to have all of the ingredients, though I wasn’t 100 percent sure of the Israeli couscous. What is it? It’s larger than standard couscous, and similar to orzo. The texture reminds me of tapioca. After my haircut, I stopped at a hoity-toity market around the corner to pick some up just in case.

The eggplant is cut into a 1/2-inch dice, tossed with olive oil and roasted until it’s nice a crispy. It’s tossed with golden raisins, parsley, the couscous, and an aromatic cinnamon-cumin dressing. The result was a filling, sweet and delicate dish that could work as a side or an main course. Jeff and I ate it for dinner with a mesclun salad with bacon-wrapped figs (recipe will appear in a couple of days), and a couple of glasses of crisp Pinot Grigio.

Isreali Couscous with Roasted Eggplant
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 3/4-pound unpeeled eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (8 to 9 cups)
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup Israeli couscous (if you can’t find this, substitute orzo and cook according to product directions(
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place eggplant cubes on sheet; drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Roast until tender, turning occasionally, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook couscous in boiling salted water until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water until cool; drain again. Place in large bowl.

Toast cumin seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darkened, about 4 minutes. Grind seeds in spice mill; place in small bowl. Add vinegar, cinnamon, and 2 tablespoons oil. Whisk to blend; season with salt and pepper. Mix in onion.

Add raisins, cilantro, eggplant cubes, and dressing to couscous. Toss to coat.

Serves 2-4 as a main course, or 6 as a side.


Peach Riesling Sorbet

Two bags of fragrant peaches sat on my counter last weekend. They were too good to refrigerate, and too many to eat. They needed to be consumed ASAP or they were destined to wind up like too many peaches do in our house: mush. Icky, brown mush.

This peach sorbet was wonderful way to end the peach season. We may have another week of peaches left in St. Louis, if I’m lucky. If not, I’ll be at peace with it. It would be impossible to take a peach and top this, unless you simply take a bite of one, of course.

The explosion of peach, star anise and white wine is intense here. “Imagine the best white sangria you’ve ever had, and turn it into sorbet,” says the introduction in Gourmet Today. These final sweltering days of summer call for something cold, sweet and fruity. I just finished the last bowl of sorbet. I’m chalking this up as one of my favorite finds this year.

Peach Riesling Sorbet
Gourmet Today

1 pound peaches (3 large) peeled, halved, pitted, and cut into 1-inch-thick wedges [or use 1 pound frozen peach slices, not thawed]
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
scant 1/2 cup superfine sugar [this can be made by whizzing granulated sugar in a food processor]
1 whole star anise or 1 teaspoon star anise pieces
1 1/2 cups Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or other slightly sweet white wine
2 tablespoons light corn syrup

Toss peaches with lemon juice in a 4-quart heavy pot. Stir in sugar, star anise, and 1 cup wine, bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered, until peaches are tender, about 5 minutes.

Discard star anise. Working in batches, transfer mixture to a blender and puree (use caution when blending hot liquids). Force puree through a medium-mesh sieve into a metal bowl, pressing hard on solids; discard solids. Stir in corn syrup and remaining 1/2 cup wine. Refrigerate, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 1 hour, then cover and refrigerate until very cold, 6 to 8 hours.

Freeze sorbet in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden for at least 1 hour.

Sorbet keeps for up to one week.


Chipotle Tomato Salsa

I plucked our first tomato on Sunday. I watched it turn red for days, giving me some hope for our garden that’s become an overgrown weed patch. I held it to my nose and inhaled. If you’ve ever grown tomatoes, you know the smell. It’s like the sun. It needed to be in some kind of a salsa. Why this one? I love fresca salsas. But this one, a cooked salsa, stands out. Its flavor is deep, vibrant, and slightly smoky.

I made it to go along with a one-pot Cuban chicken meal. The recipe will appear on this blog in a day or two, whenever I get a few seconds to copy it down. I chopped up our lovely garden tomato and a few more from the market and made this salsa. It’s one of my faves, and Jeff’s too. He’s a Texan so consider that a salsa gold stamp of approval.

Blackening the tomatoes, garlic and onion adds a touch of carmelization. The chipotle adds some terrific smoky heat. For more heat, simply add more chipotle. Green flecks of cilantro cool it down. By the way, chipotles will keep for months in the refrigerator. Just empty the can and adobo sauce into a small container, put a lid on it, and store.

Chipotle Tomato Salsa
Gourmet, September 2007

1 pound tomatoes
1/2 large white onion, cut into 4 wedges
3 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Heat a dry large nonreactive skilled (not nonstick) over medium heat until hot, then cook tomatoes, onion, and garlic, turning with tongs, until all are blackened in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Puree in a blender with chiles and 3/4 teaspoon salt (use caution when blending hot foods). Return to skillet and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, then stir in cilantro.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups


Cabbage Slaw with Asian Tahini Dressing

My first week back at work is over. I’m exhausted, relieved and happy to be home. I also wish I had some of this slaw left.

I made this a week ago but didn’t have time to write about it. I would arrive home at night, play with our delicious 9-month-old, eat dinner, and then crash. When I made this, it was another hot day. I still had cabbage left over from our Fair Shares box and hated to throw it out. So, I tackled this recipe in about 30 minutes one evening, even though it looked questionable. I wasn’t sure how radish and button mushrooms would perform together, but we already had tahini, soy sauce and a few other ingredients in our overcrowded fridge.

Before my first bite, I doubted I’d blog about this. Slaw has never been my thing. It’s usually soaked in mayonnaise, which repulses me. I rediscovered, though, that it’s often good to try something you’re not certain about. Jeff doesn’t normally like radish — another reason this was a risk. But he ate every slice of radish in this slaw. Mixing radish, mushrooms and cabbage with sesame, soy and lemon really works. There are three forms of sesame here: paste, oil and seeds. The slaw is crunchy and cool. It’s not at all overpowering. Yum. Very good things can be made with cabbage, I’ve discovered this summer. As for radish, so far this is my first success.

It’s worth noting that part of this can made ahead of time. The dressing will keep refrigerated up to five days. The cabbage, radish, etc., can be prepared, stored separately in the fridge, for about a day. Once the slaw is dressed, however, it must be eaten within a couple of hours.

Continue reading ‘Cabbage Slaw with Asian Tahini Dressing’


Indian Spiced Cauliflower (Bhunni Gobhi)

Of all the vegetables out there, cauliflower has to be one of the least exciting. It’s bland. It’s always left behind when there’s a broccoli-carrot-cauliflower veggie tray.

The dish you see pictured above turned me into a cauliflower lover. Sometime in my 20s, I began liking just about every vegetable I tried, but not cauliflower. I pushed it to the side of the plate when it appeared. It looked gross. The crunch was irritating. I didn’t care for the flavor. But like broccoli, it’s incredibly good for you. I wanted to like it. So, a couple of years ago, I told a few of my sources that I’d start eating cauliflower, as well as run a marathon, if Missouri and Illinois officials agreed on how to pay for a new Mississippi River bridge (Long story. I covered this for the paper. Officials bickered about it for years.). Anyway, the bridge is now under construction. I’ve run the marathon. And last summer, guess what I started eating?

I bought a snowy white head of it for the first time last June, from one of the Mennonite stands at the Tower Grove Farmers’ Market. I tried this recipe on a whim. I can’t remember what led me to it, but it blew me away. The following week I bought more and made it again. And tonight, we had a repeat performance.

Continue reading ‘Indian Spiced Cauliflower (Bhunni Gobhi)’


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