Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spicy Cauliflower Pasta Bake

This pasta bake is quick and easy, and features two of my favorite ingredients -- cauliflower and kalamata olives. The basic recipe is from the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home cookbook; after preparing the tomato sauce and cooking the pasta and cauliflower, I combined them in a lightly oiled 13 x 9 baking dish, baked them for 25 minutes at 375F, and then added panko bread crumbs and a little grated parmesan cheese and put the baking dish under the broiler for a couple minutes.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Blueberry Walnut Corn Muffins

I've been on a muffin kick lately. My current favorites are blueberry walnut corn muffins, made with a blend of corn meal, almond flour, and all-purpose flour. The muffins are adapted from a recipe for almond cranberry cornbread that I posted about in December. (I've discovered that it's easier not to eat 1/4 batch in a single sitting if I divide the recipe between 12 muffin cups.)

The adaptation is really simple: I substituted 1 cup frozen blueberries (tossed with 1 tablespoon flour) and 1/2 cup walnuts for the almonds, canola oil, and cranberries called for in the original recipe. Blueberries are a nice addition to corn muffins, and blueberries and walnuts taste great together. Mix the blueberries and walnuts in after combining the wet and dry ingredients.

Original recipe here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

On Top Of Spaghetti (Sweet Potato Chard Rounds)

When I first became vegetarian, I tried to make meatless versions of the dishes I was familiar with, like spaghetti and "meatballs." Over time, I became less interested in replicating traditional meat dishes, and more interested in creating tasty vegetable-based dishes. So, when I saw photo of sweet potato kale balls with pasta at Cupcake Punk recently, I was interested in the sweet potato kale rounds, but a little skeptical about serving the rounds on top of spaghetti.

The rounds are made from a mixture of mashed roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and sautéed garlic and kale (I used chard). While it takes about an hour to caramelize the onions (good instructions here), the caramelized onions really compliment the sweet potatoes. The sweet potato mixture is rolled into rounds, coated in cornmeal, and then baked at 400F for 30 minutes, turning once after 15 minutes.

My one stray from the original recipe was pour a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar into the pan that I used to caramelize the onions (after removing then onions and chard), and then add the vinegar and any scrapings from the pan to the sweet potato mixture. I really liked the tanginess of the balsamic vinegar with the sweet potatoes and caramelized onions.

I did decide to go ahead and serve the rounds on top of spaghetti. And, I have to admit, it worked. The rounds are really good with a marinara-type sauce. Also, since the rounds are not that big, the pasta helped make a filling (but not too filling) meal.

The recipe at Cupcake Punk was adapted from a recipe by Jess at Happy Vegan Face. Jess suggested mixing cooked quinoa into the rounds, to make more of a patty. While the rounds are really good with pasta, I also might try experimenting along these lines in the future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Samosa Mash

A mash of potatoes, baked tofu, and peas, seasoned with ginger, tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chilies.
Packs nicely for a winter snowshoe (or work).

2 pounds yukon gold potatoes, washed and chopped
1 batch baked tofu, cut in squares
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (my peas had grated carrots mixed in)
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 onion, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 serrano chilies, washed, seeded, and minced
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 and 1/2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the potatoes for 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain, mash, and set aside.

Heat the oil and mustard seeds in a large covered skillet over medium heat, until the mustard seeds pop.

After the mustard seeds have popped, remove the lid, stir in the cumin seed and onion, and cook (stirring occasionally) until the onion is soft.

Add the ginger and chilies, and cook two minutes (stirring occasionally).

Add the tumeric, cayenne, coriander, and salt, and cook one more minute.

Add the mashed potatoes and stir until blended with the spices. Pour in 1/2 cup of water, and mix until the potatoes have a fluffy texture. (Add more water as needed.)

Mix in the baked tofu and peas, and cook over medium-low heat until heated through.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Black Bean Rice Bowl

A satisfying rice bowl that combines spicy chipotle black beans and rice with a cilantro lime slaw. If you like, add some sliced avocado, or a little queso fresco or grated monterey jack cheese.

One batch cilantro lime slaw
1 cup uncooked brown rice (or two cups cooked)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 bell pepper, washed, seeded, and chopped (I used about 3/4 pint red and yellow mini-peppers)
1 small onion, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 and 1/2 to 3 cups cooked black beans (1 cup dried beans, soaked and cooked; or 2 15-ounce cans, drained)
1 teaspoon salt (optional -- you may want to reduce the salt if using canned beans)
3 cups lettuce, washed and chopped

To cook the brown rice
Bring 2 and 1/2 cups of water to boil in a small saucepan.

Add the brown rice and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 45 to 50 minutes.

Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes.

To prepare the black beans and rice:
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook for 10 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.

Add the chile powder, cumin, and salt, and cook another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the black beans and brown rice to the skillet and cook until heated through.

To assemble the rice bowl:
Place about 3/4 cup chopped lettuce in a large bowl.

Top with 1 cup cilantro lime slaw, and 1 cup rice and beans.

Toss and serve.

Makes at least 4 generous servings.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Cilantro Lime Slaw

This coleslaw makes a really good accompaniment for black beans and rice (check back Saturday for an example). I could also see it going well with enchiladas, quesadillas, or tofu-tillas. You can eat it right away, but it gets better after sitting for a bit -- if possible, at least 30 minutes before serving.

juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
scant 1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1 small cabbage, washed and finely chopped

Combine the lime juice, garlic, cumin, salt, and olive oil in a small bowl.

In a large bowl, mix together the cilantro, green onion, and cabbage. Add the dressing and toss to coat.

(If time permits, let the slaw sit for at least 30 minutes.)


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Green Chili Mac And Cheese

I love trying new variations on macaroni and cheese. This green chili mac and cheese is a current favorite of mine. It features two different types of green chilies -- chopped roasted poblano peppers are nestled among the noodles, and puréed roasted serrano chilies are blended into a sour cream-cheddar sauce.

I think it's fun to roast poblano peppers, but you could save time by buying frozen roasted peppers. You'll need about 2 cups of chopped roasted poblanos.

Adapted from this recipe for a lower-fat mac and cheese at The Chef and the Photographer. I get at least nine servings -- any leftovers freeze nicely.

5 poblano peppers
canola oil for brushing
2 serrano chilies, washed, stems removed, sliced in quaters lengthwise, and seeded
1 3/4-inch thick slice onion
1 clove garlic
1 egg
15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 cup skim milk
black pepper to taste
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
13 ounces whole wheat pasta, prepared per package instructions
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

Roasting the poblano peppers (skip this step if using pre-roasted peppers): Place the poblano peppers on a broiler-safe baking tray. Broil (monitoring carefully) until the peppers' skin bubbles and begins to turn black. Remove the peppers from the broiler and use tongs or a spatula to place them in a large paper bag. Roll the bag shut and allow the peppers to sit for 15 minutes. Take the peppers out of the bag, and carefully remove the stems, peel off the skin, and remove the seeds. (It's OK if not all of the skin will peel off, just be sure to get the bubbly/loose parts.) Coarsely chop the peeled peppers and set aside.

Place the serrano chilies, onion slice, and garlic on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Roast at 400F for about 10 minutes, or until the chilies' skin starts to bubble and the onion begins to brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly brush a 13x9 baking dish with canola oil.

In a food processor, process the roasted serrano chilies, onion, and garlic with the ricotta cheese, sour cream, and egg until smoothly blended. With the food processor running, slowly pour in the milk.

Transfer the sour cream mixture into a large mixing bowl and add the black pepper, salt, chopped poblano peppers, and grated cheddar.

Place the cooked, drained pasta into the lightly-oiled baking dish. Pour the sour cream mixture over it, and gently stir to combine. Top with panko bread crumbs.

Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove the foil and broil for two to three minutes, until the panko topping is golden brown.

Let sit 5 minutes, then serve.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sesame Almond Cookies

Sesame orange almond cookies, adapted from a recipe at Don't Burn the Garlic. Crispy on the outside, sesame goodness on the inside.

I substituted almond flour for 1/3 of the all-purpose flour in the original recipe. If you don't have almond flour, just go ahead and use three cups of all-purpose flour, as suggested by the original recipe.

Don't Burn the Garlic suggested adding a little orange zest -- it sounded like a great idea, and so I did, along with a little orange blossom water. However, while the resulting cookies were very good, they didn't have much of a citrus kick -- I'm not sure what more I could do to boost the orange flavor. Suggestions?

1 cup sesame seeds, lightly toasted (I used the lowest possible setting on my toaster oven)
2 sticks butter, softened
zest of one orange (optional)
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup almond flour
2 cups all-purpose flour

In a large bowl, mix the toasted sesame seeds into the softened butter (it's OK if the butter melts).

Mix in the orange zest, orange blossom water, and vanilla extract.

Add the sugars and blend thoroughly.

Stir in the eggs.

Add the salt and baking powder.

Slowly stir in the almond and all-purpose flours, about 1 cup at a time.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 375 F.

Scoop up dough one teaspoon at a time, and roll into a ball with your hands. Place the rounded ball of dough on a non-stick cookie sheet.

Repeat until you filled the cookie sheet (12 cookies).

Bake for 11 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove from oven, and place on a rack to cool.

I got almost 4 dozen cookies.