Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mujaddara (Lentils with Bulgur)

This is a Middle Eastern dish that was not only something we had at home on a very regular basis but also my Father's favorite dish. He says it "reminds him of the Old Country".  As I kid I hated this dish and dreaded the days when my Mother informed us that this was what was for dinner.



At age 44 I finally decided (at my sister's urging- "you should try it again; it is actually really good.") to try it again. I can't believe it. She was RIGHT. It is REALLY good. Perhaps not much to look at, true peasant food, but really good! I am just sorry I have been missing out all of these years!

I changed the original ever so slightly (it does not call for walnuts) and I really like it.

I will absolutely make this again (and often).

Did I mention this is really good? (Thanks, Erica!)

Mujaddara (Lentils with Bulgur)

1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1 cup bulgur wheat
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon Earth Balance Vegan Butter
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1/4 cup walnuts roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Add lentils and water to a pot. Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling reduce to a simmer (about 40 minutes). Add bulgur, and stir gently. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 1/2 to 1 hour until bulgur is soft.

Saute the onions in the olive oil and Earth Balance over medium heat until onions are soft and translucent.

Once bulgur has softened add walnuts, oil and onions. Mix gently and add salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Roasted Beet, Peach and Spinach Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

It has been a long day, one where I did not even get to think about preparing dinner until about 8PM. I decided on a salad but wanted something more than just mixed greens. I had some beets, spinach and peaches in the house and there began the making of the salad. I love roasted beets so I figured that I could decide on how to prepare the rest of the salad while the beets roasted. I must say, this was a pretty nice combination!

Roasted Beet, Peach and Spinach Salad with Lemon Thyme Vinaigrette

For the salad:
2 of handfuls of baby spinach, chopped
2 beets, roasted
2 ripe peaches peeled and sliced
1 handful raw cashews

For the dressing:
Juice of two lemons
zest of 1/2 lemon
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp agave syrup
kosher salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 350 degrees and roast beets in foil with a small amount of olive oil until tender, about 30-40 minutes. You may roast them with the skin on. When the beets are finished remove them from the oven and rinse them in cold water while rubbing them until the skins are removed. Chop beets into bite size pieces. Peel and slice peaches. Chop the spinach. I did mine the way you would chiffonade basil, by rolling it and slicing it which gives you rather long ribbons and makes for a nice presentation.

In a bowl place the spinach on the bottom, add a ring of peaches around the perimeter and then add the beets in the center. Rough chop the cashews and sprinkle on top.

To prepare the dressing add the lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, agave syrup and the chopped thyme. Whisk until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add dressing to the salad and serve.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Grilled Eggplant, Polenta and Tomato Tower

Last night I went to a great concert where I was surrounded with 18,000 people that were as inspired by the music as I was. Many of these people are like minded and as I walked in the parking lot admiring the wares people were selling I was struck by the fact that the food that was being sold was vegetarian and
made with love from other concert goers.


The inspiration for this dish comes from them and also from a friend who recently 'stacked' polenta.
Eggplant, Polenta and Tomato Tower

1 small eggplant peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2" rounds
1 tomato sliced
1 Vidalia onion very thinly sliced
1 pkg polenta (unseasoned) sliced into 1/4-1/2" rounds
Olive oil cooking spray
Several basil leaves
1 cup balsamic vinegar for the balsamic vinegar reduction (see below)
Kosher salt

Tower:
Heat grill or grill pan to high.
Salt eggplant slices with coarse kosher salt and put into a colander to drain (about 15 minutes). Pat dry with a paper towel and spray eggplant and polenta with olive oil cooking spray. Place eggplant and polenta on heated grill until grill marks are visible on each side and polenta is crispy on the outside. Remove from grill.

Balsamic reduction:
Place balsamic vinegar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil until vinegar is reduced to 1/3-1/2 cup. *Note this will thicken as it cools and extras can be saved in the refrigerator for at least a month.

Assemble the stacks by placing an eggplant slice topped with a polenta slice, an onion slice, a tomato slice and a basil leaf. Repeat until the tower reaches desired height. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Potstickers

So it was one of those Friday evenings where I get home from work, open the refrigerator door, stare into it for a while thinking hmmm... what can I do with what I have. Light bulb! I have some pot sticker wraps. And some mushrooms. And some fresh herbs. Wait, didn't I just harvest a couple of peppers from the garden? Don't I have that lone leftover shallot in the fruit bowl? And so, dinner is born!
This was quick to whip up and even my hard core meat eating husband ate this for dinner and said it was good. He didn't even attempt to find a piece of meat to cook up so he could relegate my dinner to a side dish for his own. That is about the highest compliment he could pay me! I hope you enjoy these.

Potstickers

1 package of potsticker wraps1 portabella mushroom chopped fine
1 8 oz package shitake mushrooms chopped fine
1 Italian pepper chopped fine
1 shallot minced
1/2 bunch parsley rough chopped
1/4 cup walnuts chopped fine
1 tbsp olive oil (note, if you want to omit the oil you can)
1/2 to 3/4 cup hot water
salt and pepper to taste
low sodium soy sauce for dipping
Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add shallot, pepper, and mushrooms and saute until soft. Add walnuts and continue to cook until and some of the liquid released from the mushrooms is cooked away. Add parsley, salt and pepper and cook until parsley is wilted an incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool slightly.

Lay potsticker wraps on a flat surface (I used a cutting board). Add one teaspoon of filling and fold the potsticker wrap over the filling to create a half moon shape. Seal by pressing edges together firmly and crimp the edges to ensure filling does not escape during cooking. Repeat until all wraps are used.

Using the same skillet, wipe clean any mushroom /filling residue and heat to medium heat. Add potstickers and cook until browned on the bottom. Do not turn during cooking. Once browned add the hot water, increase heat to high and cover. Allow water to boil away completely and uncover. Allow to continue to cook briefly to re crisp the bottoms. Remove from pan and serve with reduced sodium soy sauce for dipping.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Denise's Broccoli Salad

People come and go in your life. Every once in a while you are lucky enough to have someone come back into your life. I think Denise and I are better friends now than we were the first time we knew each other. That's not to say we didn't like each other the first go around but we have both grown a lot over the last twenty years and it is nice to have like minded friends.

At a party at my house over a year ago now Denise brought this awesome broccoli salad. This is my attempt to keep the integrity of her dish but make it vegan. I think you will agree that this is one awesome salad.
















I did take some liberties with her dish. Not so much because I really wanted to change it but more because I just used what I had in the house.

Thanks Denise for this lovely salad. But mostly, thanks for your friendship.

For the Broccoli Salad:2 cups broccoli cut into small pieces
1/2 cup grated carrot (I did some baby carrots in the food processor)
1/2 red onion sliced thin
1/2 cup shredded Daiya cheddar style shreds
1/3 cup dried cranberries (Denise's recipe calls for raisins- I didn't have any)
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts roughly chopped (hers calls for peanuts- I didn't have those either)

For the Dressing (add one hour before serving):4 organic agave sticks (the kind you put in tea- about 4 tbsp)
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp apple cider vinegar (hers called for red wine vinegar- didn't have it)
2 tbsp Vegenaise or other vegan mayo
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt

Mix salad ingredients in a bowl. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad, mixing with your hands until distributed.

Her salad also calls for 6 slices of cooked bacon. I did not have any soy bacon but you could certainly add that as well.

Spanakopita

Lately I have been craving Spanakopita, the fantastic Greek dish. I had this a lot growing up and I think my Mother even made it for me a few times. After all, my Dad is Middle Eastern and my Mom cooked all his favorite dishes from 'back home' so she was no stranger to Phyllo dough.

I have to admit that veganizing this dish was a little intimidating. I did a lot of research on the web and most of the recipes I found were fairly similar and got good reviews. This is my version of what I read and what I thought would taste good. I hope you enjoy.
Spanakopita

36 oz baby spinach (four bags)
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
1 cup finely chopped dill
1 bunch scallions, minced finely; green and white parts (6-8 scallions)
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
2 pkgs extra firm tofu drained well
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
3 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 cup finely ground walnuts
salt and pepper to taste
1 package frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions

Drain tofu. I cut the tofu bricks in half and placed the slices on a soft, absorbent towel and covered them with a second towel. I then placed a large cutting board on top of the tofu and weighted that down with a cast iron skillet and placed some canned vegetables on the skillet. If necessary, change the towels halfway through if they become too soaked. I let the tofu drain for approximately an hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large dutch oven or saute pan heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, dill, scallions and spinach. Allow spinach to cook down until very, very soft (consistency of canned spinach) and the liquid the spinach releases is largely cooked off. This will take some time so be patient. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

In a mixing bowl crumble the tofu and add the nutritional yeast, nutmeg, walnuts, oregano and spinach (I wrung the spinach out with my hands to ensure it was dry). Add salt and pepper to taste and mix until incorporated.

Prepare a 9x13 baking pan by brushing with some oil. Roll out the thawed phyllo and place one sheet on the bottom of the 9x13. Brush the phyllo with olive oil and repeat until you have used 8 sheets of phyllo. The phyllo will hang over the sides of the pan a bit, that is OK. In between sheets, make sure you cover your phyllo with a damp towel so it does not dry out.

Spoon half of the spinach mixture on top of the phyllo sheets and spread evenly. Cover with another eight layers of phyllo making sure to brush each with olive oil. Spoon in the rest of the spinach mixture and spread evenly. Cover with the remaining sheets of phyllo.
Tuck the phyllo that is hanging over the edges back into the pan.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until nicely browned on top.

Let cool for about ten minutes before serving. Cut into wedges to serve.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Mango Salsa

To me, this is summertime in a bowl. A refreshing tropical treat that is simple and easy; no oven required! It kind of reminds me of Hawaii, which is a really good thing.

This recipe is easily modified for whatever fresh veggies and fruit you have in the house. This just happens to be what was in my Mother in Law's refrigerator. Yes, I am vacationing and visiting relatives in Florida which is why I have not been blogging as regularly as usual. I will be home on Sunday and will be back to regular cooking and experimentation that I will share with love!


Mango Salsa

2 ripe mangoes, chopped
1/2 red onion finely chopped
1 ears worth of corn removed from the cob (I used leftover from the night before)
1/4 red pepper finely chopped
Cilantro chopped to taste
Juice of one lime
Zest of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I am going to serve this with grilled portabella mushroom 'steaks' tonight for a wonder summer meal.

Bon Appetit!