Viewing entries in
recipes

Comment

Cilantro-Lime Chickpea and Avocado Salad

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

cilantro-lime chickpea and avocado salad toast table.jpg

If you're short on time, this protein salad—featuring a mix of hearty chickpeas and creamy avocado—is your pal. An immersion blender (or small food processor) will get you a dressing seasoned with lime and fragrant fresh cilantro in no time. Bonus: it's thickened and made creamy by way of the combination of oil and pumpkin seeds.

Once you've whipped up the dressing, there's nothing to do but mash canned chickpeas and stir those together with diced avocado. Top your toast or lettuce leaves and dig in with whatever lovely bit of produce you have in the kitchen as garnish. Hey, you're fed! And thereby ready to speed off to whatever's next on the schedule.

cilantro-lime chickpea and avocado salad toast detail.jpg

Cilantro-Lime Chickpea and Avocado Salad

Print the recipe

serves 4 [see Note]

2 15-oz cans chickpeas

2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

1/4 cup unsalted pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup canola or other neutral vegetable oil (olive oil will not work here)

1 very small clove garlic

2 TBSP lime juice

2 TBSP water

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

For garnish: slices of cucumber, tomato, or radish; snipped chives or scallions; or whatever fresh produce you like.

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Set aside in a sieve to let drain thoroughly. Slice avocado halves, still in the skin, into dice, and set aside.

Add remaining ingredients, except garnish, to a wide-mouth jar and process with an immersion blender until smooth (or, if you have a small food processor, that'll work, too).

Add chickpeas to a mixing bowl and mash roughly with a fork. Add avocado dice to the mixing bowl, using a spoon to scoop out the flesh. Add dressing and toss until combined.

Serve at once with your fresh garnish on toast or in lettuce leaves.

[Note: avocado does not keep well once exposed to air, so if you do not need all four servings at once, you can make a half-recipe by making all of the dressing at once, and reserving half in a small container in the refrigerator for several days. Prepare the other half of chickpeas and avocado at your leisure, and your dressing is already waiting for you.]

Comment

Comment

Tortilla-Wrapped Poblanos Stuffed with Corn and Almond Pâté

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

tortilla-wrapped poblano stuffed with corn and almond pate table.jpg

AKA the lazy vegan's chiles rellenos. Like any stuffed dish, these poblanos—filled with a delightfully rich and comforting mix of creamy almond pâté and sweet corn kernels—take a bit of effort to prep, but they're totally do-able, even on a weeknight. Also, best entertaining dish ever—serve with a little beans and rice and Palomas, with a mezcal digestif, and done. The peppers take a bit of time to cook in the oven, so if you really want to revel in your dinner, you have plenty of time to make a batch of fresh tortillas while that goes on. If you just can't find the energy, store-bought guys will do the trick on any given Tuesday.

I will note that there's a little messing with stuff in a hot skillet in order to get that tortilla glued around the roasted pepper, so if you're a brand-new cook, or tend to be extra timid with such things, you may want to wait until you have a day off and/or a kitchen buddy on hand. But it's well worth the effort, and way easier than frying battered peppers, so I encourage you not to let that deter you from trying these out.

To give credit where it's due, I've long had the notion of stuffed poblano tamales in my head, but I've been out of the tamal groove (tragedy!), and so they remained only a tasty dream. Then at La Cocina de Frida in a Oaxaca market, something was brought to the table.

cocina de frida oaxaca.jpg

See that little guy all wrapped up in the lower right corner? Genius. And so simple. I didn't taste that dish, since the poblano there was stuffed with cow's milk cheese, but I thought, why not? Why not, indeed?

When you shop for peppers, be sure to grab ones that will fit comfortably in your tortillas. I generally believe thick tortillas to be the absolute end, but in this case, a more standard thickness (or, if you're making your own, even a little thinner than store-bought) is the perfect amount of carbs to go along with your little green dreamboat. So for maximum deliciousness, you'll want a single tortilla to wrap around the pepper and seal in front (unlike that picture up top where there's an extra tortilla glued in at the bottom because that pepper was too large—whoops).

Look at that guy. So good. First one to try it on an outdoor grill instead of a skillet wins summer.

tortilla-wrapped poblano stuffed with corn and almond pate detail.jpg

Tortilla-Wrapped Poblanos Stuffed with Corn and Almond Pâté

Print the recipe

serves 4

4 small-medium poblano peppers, washed and dried

100 grams blanched almond meal

3 TBSP lime juice

1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk

2 TBSP canola (or other neutral vegetable) oil

1 scallion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp dried Mexican oregano

2/3 cup frozen (or fresh) sweet corn kernels

olive oil, for drizzling

4 corn tortillas, freshly made or store-bought

1 tsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp water

Begin by preparing the peppers. Slice the pepper lengthwise down the center, stopping before you get to the tip. Make two more cuts at the top, cross-wise, to give yourself some room to work, but leave the back half of the pepper top attached. Use a paring knife to cut away the seeds and veins, as best you can. Repeat with remaining peppers and set aside.

Heat oven to 400. Have an 8x8" square (or similarly-sized) nonstick dish ready.

Add almond meal, lime juice, milk, oil, scallion, salt, and oregano to a food processor and process until smooth. Remove blade and stir in corn. Spoon mixture into peppers. Do not overstuff, since the almond mixture will puff a bit during cooking.

Transfer filled peppers to baking dish and drizzle lightly and evenly with olive oil. Bake 45 minutes, until filling is cooked (it will be creamy, but not wet) and peppers are roasted and well browned in spots. Set aside.

When ready to serve, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. While it heats, stir together flour and water in a small bowl to form a paste.

Add a tortilla to the skillet to warm it until pliable, just about half a minute. Carefully place a pepper atop it, cut-side up. Use tongs to pull one side of the tortilla up over the pepper and hold it in place with your hand. Use a finger to spread a dollop of flour paste on the top of the tortilla edge, then pull the other side of the tortilla up (using the tongs again) and press gently to glue it in place. With still holding the tortilla edges to keep them together, carefully turn the whole thing over so that the folded side is now at the bottom of the skillet and press very gently to ensure both ends are secured by the weight of the pepper. (This sounds far more complicated than it is—do it once and you'll have it down). The heat will take care of the rest and seal your tortilla once the paste is cooked. Let cook a couple of minutes, until golden, then carefully flip and brown the other side. Carefully transfer to a serving dish with a wide spatula. Repeat with remaining peppers and serve.

Comment

Comment

Snack Oat Bars with Whole Lemon and Ginger

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

snack oat bars with whole lemon and ginger table.jpg

Today, the whole-lemon train pulls into the snack station. It takes a minute to slice up the lemon and grate the ginger for these guys, but otherwise, they require absolutely no sweat. Your reward is a more complex lemon snack that includes tart pulp plus floral peel accented by bitter pith—all hugged in a chewy, mildly sweet blend of whole wheat and oats.

snack oat bars with whole lemon and ginger detail.jpg

These bars are way more substantial than your average supermarket cereal bar, so they'll keep you satisfied for a good minute as a snack. And if you happen to have some vegan vanilla ice cream in the freezer, feel free to put a scoop atop a square for a fuss-free weeknight dessert.

snack oat bars with whole lemon and ginger plate.jpg

Snack Oat Bars with Whole Lemon and Ginger

Print the recipe

serves 9 generously

1 very large lemon (or 2 small), scrubbed

knob of fresh ginger, 1 1/2 inches long by 1 inch wide, peeled

1/3 cup natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup turbinado

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup unsweetened plain soy milk

Trim one end off the lemon so you can see the pulp (discard pithy end). Use a sharp knife to carefully slice the lemon into paper-thin slices. It's far more important to get thin slices than it is to get whole slices, so concentrate on the paper-thin bit, and don't worry if you only get half-slices (or even less sometimes). Transfer to a small mixing bowl. Use a Microplane zester to grate ginger into mixing bowl. Add natural cane sugar to mixing bowl and gently toss until thoroughly mixed—this may take a minute, and don't worry if a lemon slice (or two) breaks. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350 with a rack placed in the center.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together oats, flour, nutmeg, and salt. Separately, whisk together applesauce and milk. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined.

Add a generous half of batter to a nonstick (or greased) 8"x8" pan. Press dough firmly and evenly into pan. Spread lemons evenly over dough. Pour any sugar and lemon juice in the bottom of the bowl over the lemon layer. Sprinkle remaining dough evenly in blobs atop lemons and press gently into a top layer (it should mostly cover the lemons, but you may have a spot or two of the lemon layer showing through).

Bake 37-40 minutes, until golden. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before cutting.

Comment

Comment

Hitting the Books No. 7: Gena Hamshaw's Power Plates (ftr. Whipped Banana-Coconut Cream)

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

power plates table.jpg

I'm pretty jazzed about this little Hitting the Books post. I'll be highlighting two seriously lovely (and easy!) recipes from Gena Hamshaw's Power Plates, which I've been having a great time digging into lately. Anyone who reads The Full Helping won't be surprised that this latest book of Gena's is totally gorgeous:

power plates detail.jpg

Also unsurprising, but still valuable is the conceit of this cookbook, which offers "nutritionally balanced" dishes. Frequently, that means the recipes showcase a grain, a protein, a fat source, plus a buncha veggies. I love that kind of thoughtful framing—basically, Gena thought about it so now I don't have to. It makes reaching for this book a no-brainer when I need to plan meals during busier times.

power plates guacamole rice salad with black beans bowl.jpg

And busier times are exactly what I've been having lately. So instead of digging deep into the bowl section—with all its alluring chopped veggies, savory proteins, and variety of sauces and dressings—I've sampled some of the quicker items from Power Plates. Starting with this to-die-for Guacamole Rice Salad with Black Beans. (It's actually a quinoa salad in the book, but I find quinoa aggressively joyless, so I swapped in brown rice. I can't wait to try this with couscous, too, but I've been adoring the rice.)

power plates guacamole rice salad with black beans in romaine.jpg

Gena advertises this salad as basically a batch of guacamole with mix-ins, so sign me up. And boy howdy, does she deliver. This seems like a dish you would hardly need precise instruction for, but I promise you want to use Gena's recipe. The balance of everything is bang-on, and this is my new favorite meal. Stuff it in romaine leaves and eat it like a taco, and invite me over when you do.

The recipe starts with preparing all the avocado and then adds everything else, but I don't need the whole recipe at one sitting. To make it work for my leftover-reliant weekdays, I assemble the salad first, which keeps well in the fridge for a few days, then add freshly mashed avocado to the amount I want just before serving. Works like a charm.

power plates guacamole rice salad with black beans detail.jpg

I was so eager to dive into this recipe that I bought grocery store cherry tomatoes in April. I regret nothing, but they were predictably sad, so my advice is to substitute chopped Persian cucumbers, diced jicama, or a mix of both, if you're making this out of season (which I continue to do because you could not possibly stop me).

power plates whole grain waffles with whipped banana-coconut cream table.jpg

I'm equally enthusiastic about Gena's Whole Grain Waffles. The first thing that struck me about Power Plates is how generous the breakfast section is, with plenty of savory options. I may have mentioned fifty or so times that I prefer savory breakfasts to sweet. But I make an exception for waffles. These are made with spelt, which I had never used before, and they are super-tasty. If you adore nutty, more complex whole-grain baked goods, then there's nothing more I need to say here. These guys are totally great, and I'll be making these repeatedly whenever I'm craving a waffle with sweeter toppings.

Speaking of toppings, I have something special for you. It's a dead-simple whipped banana-coconut cream, and it adds a dreamy, fluffy tropical note to any baked good, fruit salad, fresh berry, or spoon you care to stuff in your pie hole. I finished off this particular plate with some trail mix I had handy, but cacao nibs are also a nice, crunchy addition. Or you can enjoy the cream atop the waffles without anything extra. I recommend it like I recommend Power Plates.

power plates whole grain waffles with whipped banana-coconut cream detail.jpg

Whipped Banana-Coconut Cream

Print the recipe

yields 1 generous cup

1 can full-fat coconut cream chilled at least 24 hours, such as Thai Kitchen brand

1 just-ripe banana

1 TBSP powdered sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp vanilla extract

Spoon the solid fat from the chilled can of coconut cream (reserve liquid for another use). You should have one rounded cup of chunks (not firmly packed).

Puree all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and fluffy. Leftovers may be kept for several days in an airtight container.

__________________________________________________________

About Hitting the Books: You know that shelf in your house with all the great cookbooks you don't get to nearly as often as you'd like? Yeah, there's one of those over here, too. The Hitting the Books series allows for occasional opportunities to dig into that shelf and highlight some handy cookbooks.

Comment

Comment

Dead Simple Zucchini Toast with Avocado, Lemon Zest & Coconut Bacon

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

dead simple zucchini toast with avocado, lemin zest, and coconut bacon table.jpg

I'm on a minor mission to work more fresh veggies into my diet, and it seems particularly satisfying to be able to squeeze some in during the first meal of the day. Enter this wholesome toast topped with shredded zucchini. Bonus: this works with sourdough, whole wheat, pumpernickel, whatever—maybe even an everything bagel? So, hey, variety is built right in.

It's worth noting that since this is such a simple dish, the more flavorful your zucchini, the better this toast will be, so keep this one in mind when summer's finest is overflowing at the market. But you won't rely entirely on your zucchini for flavor, of course. You'll enrich your shredded veg with a little mashed avocado, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper, lemon (both zest and juice), and to finish with extra satiety and salt, a generous dose of coconut bacon. Good morning, right?

And note that you can prepare the coconut bacon in advance to make this recipe extra morning-friendly.

dead simple zucchini toast with avocado, lemin zest, and coconut bacon detail.jpg

Dead Simple Zucchini Toast with Avocado, Lemon Zest & Coconut Bacon

Print the recipe

serves 2

1 small-medium zucchini, washed and ends trimmed

4 slices bread of choice

1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted

1 lemon

1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1 recipe Stovetop Coconut Bacon, recipe follows

Grate zucchini until you have 2/3 cup, loosely packed. Add zucchini to a mixing bowl and set aside.

Toast or grill bread. Meanwhile, roughly score the avocado flesh, still in the skin, into dice. Scoop flesh into mixing bowl. Rather than cutting the lemon in half, cut off just one third and set the larger portion aside. Measure out 1 tsp of juice from smaller portion and add to mixing bowl. Add salt to mixing bowl and use a fork to mash the avocado, mixing in the zucchini and seasonings as you go.

Divide zucchini mixture evenly among toast. Crack pepper generously over top, to taste. Zest larger portion of lemon generously over top, to taste (the lemon can be juiced after zesting, so reserve for another purpose). Divide coconut bacon evenly over toasts and serve at once.

Stovetop Coconut Bacon

yields 1/4 cup, adapted from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

1 tsp reduced-sodium tamari

1 tsp liquid smoke

1/4 tsp maple syrup, grade B preferred

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. In the skillet, combine tamari, liquid smoke, and maple syrup. The second it begins to boil, sprinkle coconut over and stir until thoroughly mixed. Continue cooking for a few minutes—stirring every 30 seconds—until coconut absorbs all liquid, the skillet becomes dry, and coconut just begins to crisp in spots. Your nose is your best guide. When it smells deeply toasted and just shy of burning, quickly remove from heat and immediately transfer to a plate, spread out in a single layer. Coconut will continue to crisp as it cools. Store leftovers in an airtight container with a clean absorbent cloth (to keep it from going soggy).

Comment

Comment

Ten-Minute Breakfast Tacos

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

ten-minute breakfast tacos table.jpg

Okay, full disclosure: the first time you make these breakfast tacos, they might take 12 or 13 minutes. But that's because you're reading the recipe and getting familiar with what to grab from the fridge and pantry. Once you've made them once or twice, it's smooth sailing. You grab your tortillas while the skillet heats, grab the tofu while the tortillas warm, then grab the spinach and slice the avocado while the tofu cooks, and before you know it, a fresh hot breakfast is helping you greet the day in style.

ten-minute breakfast tacos detail.jpg

With that out of the way, these guys are seriously easy to love. Fluffy crumbled tofu and a little fresh spinach wilted in a mix of sesame oil and tamari make for a light but flavorful combination. Top it all with ripe avocado slices doused with hot sauce, and that lovely mess is fully ready to be hugged in a warm corn tortilla. As a bonus, it takes only a few minutes longer to feed four as it does one (because the tofu will take longer to brown in a more crowded skillet), so this recipe scales decently.

Perfect and fast enough for breakfast, you may find yourself adding a side salad and a Bloody Mary to make these guys into brunch, or a side salad and cold Pilsner for dinner in a snap. Don't say I didn't warn you.

ten-minute breakfast tacos plate.jpg

Ten-Minute Breakfast Tacos

Print the recipe

serves 1

2 six-inch soft corn tortillas

1/3 block firm or extra firm tofu

1/8-1/4 tsp (to taste) fine sea or kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper

2 tsp nutritional yeast

1/2 ripe avocado, pitted

1 tsp sesame oil

generous handful fresh baby spinach

1 tsp reduced-sodium tamari

hot sauce, to serve [see note]

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Heat oven on warm setting.

Place tortillas in skillet. Heat for a minute on each side, or until tortillas are pliable and beginning to puff in spots. Transfer tortillas to oven rack to keep warm.

Crumble tofu into hot skillet. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast over top. Let cook, undisturbed, two minutes. Meanwhile, slice avocado half while still in its skin.

Reduce heat to medium-low, toss tofu, and let cook one minute, undisturbed. Toss again and let cook one last minute. Remove tortillas from oven, transfer to serving plate, toss tofu again and spread evenly over tortillas.

Return skillet to heat. Add sesame oil, then spinach. Pour tamari over spinach and cook until wilted down, stirring constantly. Divide between tacos.

Scoop avocado slices from skin with a spoon and divide between tacos. Top with hot sauce and serve at once.

[Note: these benefit from an acidic finish, so if you do not like hot sauce, squeeze a lime wedge over tacos before serving.]

Comment

Comment

Blackberry and Rose Water White Wine-Lillet Blanc Sangria

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

blackberry and rose sangria will lillet blanc pitcher.jpg

Your next spring afternoon pitcher has arrived.

This white sangria—sweetened with a syrup flavored with blackberries and rose water—is an easy-going affair. Choose a dry white, maybe something grassy (such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc). You'll add Lillet Blanc (a French fortified wine) to add depth of flavor. I'm currently in love with Lillet-spiked white sangrias. They have more depth than a wine-only recipe, but aren't as stiff as one with liqueur added. Add frozen raspberries and a couple of ice cubes, and get ready to sip away in the sun.

blackberry and rose sangria will lillet blanc table.jpg

Blackberry and Rose Water White-Lillet Blanc Sangria

Print the recipe

serves 6

750 ml dry white wine, chilled

1 cup Lillet Blanc, chilled

1/4 cup Blackberry-Rose Syrup, recipe follows

1 sweet apple, diced

frozen blackberries (not thawed), to serve

rosemary sprigs, to garnish

Combine wines, syrup, and diced apple in a serving pitcher. Stir to combine. To serve, add two ice cubes and a handful of frozen blackberries to a wine glass. Pour in sangria and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

Blackberry-Rose Syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup frozen (or fresh) blackberries

1/8 tsp rose water

Dissolve sugar into water, stirring occasionally, in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil and immediately add berries. Bring back to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving stewed berries for another purpose. Stir in rose water and let cool before using. Store leftover syrup in the refrigerator.

Comment

Comment

Creamy Orzo and Chickpea Bake (from the Pantry)

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

creamy orzo and chickpea bake (from the pantry) dish.jpg

This dead-simple baked pasta is going to solve all your early-spring meals. It starts out as a welcome hot dish for gray, blustery days. But it also eats fine at room temperature. Leftovers served as chilled pasta salad make an instant lunch on sunny afternoons. Whatever spring throws your way, this dish has you covered. And it comes together in a snap: you chop the pepper and quickly blend the sauce while the orzo cooks on the stove top. Then the whole thing goes in the oven, and done.

This pasta and bean number is homey and comforting, thanks to cooking the orzo in veggie broth with a sprig of rosemary. Then you'll bathe the pasta and chickpeas in a creamy, high-protein sauce of silken tofu blended with herbs, a little white wine, and a good dose of spring onions. Green peas and diced roasted red peppers add welcome color and gorgeous little pops of sweetness. Plus, with frozen peas and jarred red peppers, you can keep the ingredients for this guy on hand to toss together on any given evening.

And if you're in the mood for something a little richer, feel free to top the whole thing with some panko crumbs tossed in oil and a little salt.

creamy orzo and chickpea bake (from the pantry) table.jpg

Creamy Orzo and Chickpea Bake (from the Pantry)

Print the recipe

serves 2-4

2 cups water

2 no-salt-added vegetable bouillon cubes

1 fresh rosemary sprig

1 cup orzo

1 15-oz can chickpeas

1 large jarred roasted red pepper (or freshly roasted, if preferred)

6 oz silken tofu (half an aseptic pack)

1/4 cup dry white wine

4 scallions

2 TBSP canola oil (or other neutral oil, but olive oil is not recommended [see Note])

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

1/2 cup frozen peas

Add water and bouillon cubes to a medium pot over high heat. Dissolve cubes and bring to a boil. Add rosemary sprig and orzo. Boil 9 minutes (or according to package directions), stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Do not drain. Discard rosemary sprig.

While the pasta cooks, heat oven to 375. Drain and rinse chickpeas in a sieve and set aside to let drain thoroughly. Chop pepper into small dice.

Next, prepare the sauce. Add tofu, wine, white and firm pale green portions of scallions (reserve tops for garnish or for another purpose), oil, thyme, oregano, salt, and black pepper to a food processor. Blend until smooth.

Add chickpeas, diced pepper, and frozen peas to the orzo pot. Stir to combine. Add sauce and mix thoroughly. Transfer contents to a  1 1/2-quart baking dish (shallow, app 8"x12") and bake 20 minutes. Let cool five minutes before serving. Garnish with sliced scallion tops, if desired.

[Note: food processors and immersion blenders can turn olive oil bitter. I found that to be true when processing this sauce with olive oil and had good results using canola oil instead.]

Comment

Comment

Pineapple, Black Bean and Poblano Salsa Fresca

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

pineapple black bean and poblano salsa fresca table.jpg

All this unseasonably warm weather in Knoxville has awoken cravings for water-rich fruits. But it's still February, so let's raid the citrus and frozen aisles of the grocer to scratch that itch.

pineapple black bean and poblano salsa fresca chips.jpg

This guy is really a cross between a salad and salsa fresca, since it gets a bona fide dose of dressing. But no matter. It still eats great on a corn chip. So, to your totally satisfying base of sweet-tart pineapple chunks, earthy black beans, gently piquant poblano, and fragrant green onions, you'll add a dressing of cilantro and mint, which pairs wonderfully with fruit. To really drive that home, you'll use a base of orange juice (also some lime), then give the whole thing a little body with olive oil and a little pine nuts. It's simple, fresh, criminally easy to make, and entirely lovable. Get munching.

pineapple black bean and poblano salsa fresca detail.jpg

Pineapple, Black Bean and Poblano Salsa Fresca

Print the recipe

serves 4-6

For the salsa:

1 15-oz can black beans

2 cups frozen pineapple chunks, thawed (or use roughly 1-inch fresh chunks)

1 medium poblano pepper, trimmed, seeded, and de-veined

2 scallions, trimmed

zest of 1/4 orange (app 1/2 tsp)

fine sea or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the dressing:

1/4 cup tightly packed cilantro

1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves

2 TBSP pignoli (pine nuts)

3 TBSP orange juice

2 TBSP olive oil

1 TBSP lime juice

1/4 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

Drain and rinse beans in a sieve. Set aside to let drain thoroughly.

Meanwhile, chop pineapple chunks into roughly 1/2-inch chunks and transfer to a serving bowl. Chop poblano into small 1/4-inch dice and add to bowl. Finely slice tops and bottoms of scallions and add to bowl. Grate orange zest (before juicing the orange), add to mixing bowl, and set aside.

Make dressing by puréeing all ingredients until well blended, about 20 seconds. Add dressing, to taste, to mixing bowl and stir to combine thoroughly. (You may have a few tablespoons of dressing left over—if so, it works well as a green salad dressing, too.) Season to taste with freshly cracked black pepper and, gently, with salt (if serving with salted chips, you may not want to salt further at all).

Salsa can be served at once, but benefits from an hour's rest in the fridge for the dressing flavors to come together and season the fruit, veggies, and beans.

Comment

Comment

Orange, Dill, and Fennel Chickpea Salad with Essential Fluffy Tahini Spread

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

dill orange and fennel chickpea salad with essential fluffy tahini spread plate.jpg

There may be nothing handier than having a batch of chickpea salad hanging out in the fridge. Plus, making your own convenience foods gets you instant meals that are made to suit your tastes. Like this simple and flavorful little chickpea salad that will fill you up whether on a plate of munchies with crackers, tucked into a loaf of pita, or scooped atop big tender lettuce leaves. Mash up your chickpeas, stir in some dill, orange zest, and a little fennel seed, and you're set.

Well, almost. First, you whip up this simple tahini spread. Which is currently the favorite sandwich spread in the MSV kitchen. It's lemony and satisfying, and hangs onto a sandwich without running all over the place like thinner tahini sauces. And it's all thanks to pureeing in just a little bit of silken tofu. Did I mention handy?

dill orange and fennel chickpea salad with essential fluffy tahini spread detail.jpg

Orange, Dill, and Fennel Chickpea Salad with Essential Fluffy Tahini Spread

Print the recipe

serves 4-6

2 15-oz cans chickpeas

2 TBSP fresh dill

zest of half an orange (about 1 tsp)

generous pinch fennel seed

1/3 cup Essential Fluffy Tahini Spread, recipe follows

fine sea or kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

Drain and rinse chickpeas. Set aside in a sieve to let drain thoroughly while you prepare the other ingredients.

Transfer chickpeas to a mixing bowl and mash roughly with a potato masher. Stir in all other ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.

Essential Fluffy Tahini Spread

yields about 1 cup

1/3 cup tahini

1/4 cup silken tofu (from an aseptic pack)

1/4 cup water

3 TBSP lemon juice

1 small clove garlic

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Spread can be used immediately, but will firm and fluff up a bit after chilling in the refrigerator.

Comment

Comment

Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme Granola

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

blueberry lemon and thyme granola table.jpg

Good granola is a real treat, and this easy stove-top version is so very nice. Start with plenty of oats, of course, and dress them up with lemon zest, fresh thyme, and a heap of gorgeous dried blueberries. The result is wonderfully fragrant and irresistible. Eaten for breakfast, it's a seriously lovely way to start your day. Try it on tofu mousse for instant morning meals—you won't be sorry.

Because dried blueberries are so expensive, using seeds (here, sunflower and pumpkin) instead of nuts (and canola oil instead of pricier fats) maintain satiety while keeping the cost down a little. But follow your bliss and customize your toss-ins to include whatever you love best. And of course, a little goes a long way.

blueberry lemon and thyme granola with tofu mousse.jpg

Blueberry, Lemon and Thyme Granola

Print the recipe

yields one quart

1/2 cup hulled unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1/2 cup hulled unsalted sunflower seeds

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup dried wild blueberries

1/2 cup dried unsweetened shredded coconut

zest of one lemon

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

1 TBSP canola oil

2 TBSP brown rice syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

generous pinch fine sea or kosher salt

Heat a large, dry, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pepitas and sunflower seeds. Dry toast, tossing every minute or two, until pepitas begin to lighten. Add oats, blueberries, coconut, lemon zest, and thyme leaves. Continue to toast, tossing every minute, until the oats are toasted.

Meanwhile, whisk together oil, syrup, and vanilla (measuring the oil before the syrup will help the sticky syrup slide out of your measuring spoon). When the granola mixture is toasted, pour wet ingredients over and stir to combine thoroughly. Let cook two to three more minutes, stirring frequently.

Transfer mixture to a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out. Sprinkle salt evenly over the whole thing. When cool, break apart and store in an airtight container.

Comment

Comment

Balsamic Tempeh, Oranges and Haricots Verts

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

balsamic tempeh oranges and haricots verts skillet.jpg

The sour and sweet of balsamic vinegar is a great match for nutty tempeh. And since it also pairs well with all manner of green veg, why not toss in some long, thin green beans to contrast those dense little chewy tempeh squares?

balsamic tempeh oranges and haricots verts plate.jpg

That's already a recipe for success, but where this dish really stands out is by throwing in fat, juicy orange segments to cook with the balsamic and a bit of bitter and savory toasted sesame oil. The juice from the orange scents the dish (further helping that tempeh out), but the fruit itself is knee-shakingly lovely—gorgeously flavorful orange wedges you can periodically pick up and eat with your paws for a rare finger-licking veggie experience. So good. (And probably not a first-date meal. You're also gonna want to floss after. Totally worth it.)

Seriously satisfying when served with a mixed-potato and cauliflower (s)mash seasoned with plenty of nutritional yeast.

balsamic tempeh oranges and haricots verts detail.jpg

Balsamic Tempeh, Oranges and Haricots Verts

Print the recipe

serves 2

1 TBSP olive oil

8 oz frozen green beans (preferably thin variety, may be labeled haricots verts)

8 oz tempeh, cut into 1/2-inch dice

1/4 tsp salt

freshly cracked black pepper

1 orange, unpeeled, cut into 8 wedges

2 TBSP balsamic vinegar

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green beans and cook, stirring frequently, until the frost is knocked off, about three minutes. Add tempeh, salt, and pepper, and let cook two minutes. Toss. Repeat, tossing every two minutes, until tempeh is golden brown and beans are seared in spots, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

Return skillet to heat and add orange wedges and balsamic. Cook, tossing frequently, until orange flesh softens, about five minutes. Add sesame oil and toss to coat.

Return tempeh and beans to skillet. Cook another three minutes or so to let the orange scent the dish and ensure the tempeh and beans are heated through. Serve at once.

Comment

2 Comments

The Basics No. 6: Jumbo Savory Chickpea-Rice Pancake

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

jumbo savory chickpea-rice pancake table.jpg

Happy 2018, friends! If you're struggling with a return to routine, let me introduce you to one of the easiest, most reliable dinners out there: this huge, fluffy, savory pancake made from chickpea and white rice flours. It's tasty, filling, and ready in minutes. It's made entirely from things you keep on the pantry shelf and studded with frozen peas that keep for ages in the freezer.

Whatever project you have going on, all you need is a 10-minute break to make sure you're fed and nurtured. Let's get cooking.

jumbo savory chickpea-rice pancake detail.jpg

Anyone who's ever had a dosa knows how pleasantly crispy white rice flour cooks up in a hot skillet. You'll get that great magic on the edges, but the bulk of this guy is soft from the combination of rice flour and chickpea flour, seasoned with nutritional yeast and—for bananas-convenient flavor—a little spoonful of vegetable broth powder (check your local co-op's bulk section). You can always toss in some garam masala or garnish with fresh herbs, but the basic recipe is good to go.

Like the jumbo buckwheat and blueberry pancake, this recipe halves perfectly. Make the whole thing for an express dinner, split it with a pal or make half if you're in the mood to pair it with a hearty salad or soup, or just make a half-recipe if all you need is a solid snack (or for a savory breakfast if you don't have a big appetite in the morning).

Finally, don't skip the sauce. You'll find this pancake just a touch dry, which is a feature, not a bug. It welcomes a generous amount of hot sauce, a mild pureed salsa, or whatever else you feel like drizzling on or dipping in without getting soggy.

jumbo savory chickpea-rice pancake with hot sauce.jpg

Dead Simple Jumbo Savory Chickpea-Rice Pancake

Print the recipe

serves one generously, or two as a snack or meal component

1 tsp olive oil

1/4 cup chickpea flour

3 TBSP white rice flour

1 TBSP nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp vegetable broth powder [see Note]

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup water

small handful frozen (or fresh) peas

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, add chickpea flour, rice flour, nutritional yeast, broth powder, and baking powder to a bowl and whisk to combine.

When the skillet is hot, swirl the oil around the skillet to coat. Add water to dry ingredients, whisk to combine, and immediately add batter to skillet. Sprinkle the peas over the surface. Cook until the bottom is golden and the edges are visibly cooked at least 1/4-inch in (and up to 1/2-inch, being careful not to burn—this allows for easy flipping, even with the very large pancake), about 3-4 minutes. Flip with a wide plastic spatula and cook until cooked through and browned on the pea side, another 2-3 minutes.

Serve at once with hot sauce, salsa, or other sauce of choice.

[Note: salt content will vary depending on the brand purchased. Season to taste after cooking, if needed.]

2 Comments

Comment

Chickpeas, Artichokes, and Capers in White Wine Tomato Sauce over Polenta

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

chickpea artichoke and capers in white wine tomato sauce over polenta.jpg

It's December, which means pantry-cooking season has officially begun. Enter this perfect weeknight bowl of creamy polenta topped with a mix of tomatoes, chickpeas, artichoke hearts, and capers all simmered with a little dried herbs and dry white wine.

chickpea artichoke and capers in white wine tomato sauce over polenta detail.jpg

The combination is a great one. Polenta provides heft (and starchy absorbing properties) so the tomato sauce doesn't have to be cooked to death, just long enough to let the wine, shallot, and herbs infuse. Capers add a salty punch that communicates comfort without adding weight. The artichoke is another great, light foil for the polenta while chickpeas offer protein for extra satiety. What's more, with canned goods and quick-cooking polenta, you have a killer dinner ready in just about half an hour. Plus leftovers.

chickpea artichoke and capers in white wine tomato sauce over polenta bowl.jpg

Chickpeas, Artichokes, and Capers in White Wine Tomato Sauce over Polenta

Print the recipe

serves 4-6

For the topping:

2 TBSP olive oil

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

1 15-oz can artichoke hearts (or 6-8 frozen hearts, thawed), drained and chopped

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 TBSP turbinado

1 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

2 15-oz cans chickpeas

2 TBSP drained capers

For the polenta (see Note):

1 cup quick-cooking polenta (or grits)

1/2 cup blanched almond meal

1 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

3 cups unsweetened soy milk

3 cups water

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook shallot and salt for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until shallot turns translucent. Add tomatoes (with liquid), chopped artichoke, wine, turbinado, basil, and oregano. Bring to a steady simmer, cover, reduce heat to medium-low (or lower, as needed) to maintain simmer, and let cook 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse chickpeas. Set aside in a sieve to let drain thoroughly. Measure dry polenta ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.

After the 15 minutes is up, add chickpeas and capers to tomato mixture. Stir, increase heat to medium, and let cook at a strong simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until flavors have melded, 10-15 minutes.

While the tomato mixture finishes, combine soy milk and water in a pot over high heat. When it begins to steam, begin whisking while pouring the dry polenta mixture into the pot in a thin, steady stream, whisking all the while. When all is incorporated, be sure the mixture is bubbling, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook five minutes, covered, carefully whisking the bubbling mixture well once each minute.

Divide polenta among shallow bowls and top with chickpea-tomato mixture. Serve at once.

Note: because this polenta is served soft, it's best to make only the amount you will need at this serving. The polenta recipe scales down perfectly, so feel free to make a quarter of the recipe to feed one (quite generously), or make the full recipe to feed up to six.

Comment

Comment

Dead Simple Black Bean Nachos with Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

dead simple black bean nachos with chipotle pumpkin sauce bowl.jpg

Food doesn't get much more fun than nachos, even non-traditional ones like these guys. And what better time for an autumn-flavored pick-me-up than now, when the days are about as short as they get (if you're in my part of the globe, anyway).

dead simple black bean nachos with chipotle pumpkin sauce table.jpg

So, grab a handful of chips and douse them in a pumpkin sauce spiced up with chipotles en adobo for a dead-simple, totally flavorful dish. It all comes together in a snap thanks to the convenience of canned pumpkin, beans, and chiles.

dead simple black bean nachos with chipotle pumpkin sauce detail.jpg

You'll pop all that in the oven to get everything warmed and mingled, and meanwhile, you'll chop a few fresh elements to balance the salt and spice (namely, crisp red pepper, fresh cilantro, and creamy avocado). Then nothing left to do but pour yourself a cold one and get munching.

dead simple black bean nachos with chipotle pumpkin sauce fork.jpg

Dead Simple Black Bean Nachos with Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce

Print the recipe

serves 4-6

For the black bean and chipotle pumpkin sauce:

2 15-oz cans black beans

1 15-oz can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup water

1 no-salt-added vegetable bouillon cube

1 chipotle en adobo

2 TBSP nutritional yeast

1 TBSP canola or grapeseed oil

1 generous pinch fine sea or kosher salt

1 generous pinch Mexican oregano (optional)

To assemble:

tortilla chips

diced red bell pepper

chopped cilantro leaves

chopped avocado

flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 375 (if assembling nachos right after making sauce)—see Note.

Drain both cans of beans, but do not rinse. Add to a medium pot and set aside.

Add remaining sauce ingredients to a food processor and process until very smooth, 30-60 seconds.

Add pumpkin mixture to pot with beans and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat slightly to medium-medium low. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated through and thickened a bit, about five minutes.

To assemble, pile tortilla chips snugly in a low mound in a baking dish and pour sauce over top, leaving a small border of chips uncovered (the chips touching the sauce will absorb it and soften, but the chips below and to the side will leave some crunchy chips that can scoop up toppings). Bake 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, top generously with diced pepper, cilantro, and avocado. Sprinkle top of dish gently with flaked salt and then generously crack black pepper over top. Serve at once with forks.

Note: once the sauce is done, nachos can be assembled immediately in any desired quantity. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated for days and reheated as desired to make a batch.

Comment

Comment

The Basics No. 5: The MSV Waffle

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

the msv waffle table.jpg

For a basic recipe, this isn't a standard waffle. But it's my standard waffle, the recipe I make when I make waffles. These guys start with all-purpose flour, but get an assist from cornmeal, which adds extra flavor, color, and a mildly rustic texture. And this recipe isn't a quick batter: these waffles get their loft—not to mention even more flavor—from active dry yeast.

They're still dead simple to throw together, thanks to the fact that the yeast batter sits overnight to develop. Which also means you're measuring your flour out the night before instead of first thing in the morning, which I consider a bonus, too.

the msv waffle platter.jpg

Finally, there's the faintest hint of warmth from the addition of ancho liqueur, and it's matched by an equal amount of orange liqueur. The effect is seriously subtle (you might never have noticed it if you didn't know it was in there).

All of these tweaks are gentle—the cornmeal, the yeast, and the liqueur. So when you get ready to drizzle on the maple syrup and tuck into these waffles, you still feel like you're sitting down to a pretty classic breakfast dish. Just with more notes than toasted wheat and syrup. If you have a mild sweet tooth, especially when it comes to breakfast, then you may make this your go-to waffle, too. If not, give it a shot when you find yourself in need of a twist.

the msv waffle plate.jpg

The MSV Waffle

Print the recipe

yields 12 waffles, adapted from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

1 TBSP natural cane sugar (evaporated cane juice)

1 tsp active dry yeast

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

2 cups unsweetened soy milk

6 TBSP canola oil

2 TBSP Ancho Reyes ancho chile liqueur

2 TBSP orange liqueur, preferably Grand Marnier rouge

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar, yeast, and salt. Whisk in milk. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to refrigerator. Let sit overnight.

In the morning, heat your waffle iron. (If your waffle iron does not have a nonstick surface, grease the iron before adding batter.) When ready, beat canola oil and liqueurs into batter. Add one-quarter cup batter to each square of the iron and cook according to the manufacturer's directions, until crisp and deeply golden on the outside. Serve at once. (If you need to wait and serve the waffles all at once, hold finished waffles in a warm oven to keep them crisp while you cook the rest.)

Comment

Comment

White Wine-Braised White Beans and Garlic

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

white wine-braised white beans and garlic table.jpg

All my fellow bean lovers, get ready to have a new favorite meal. Dead simple and gorgeously garlicky, these beans are destined to be a new staple. We're going way classic here: just beans, garlic, white wine, olive oil, salt, pepper, and marjoram. They all hang out, all day, in the slow cooker, where the beans will get bananas-creamy without completely breaking down. The best part, though, is that the slow-and-low heat effortlessly turns those garlic cloves to deeply savory pulp that you'll stir through the mixture so that it permeates the whole dish. Finish it with fresh parsley for a pleasantly green foil, add a crusty side of bread or a nice square of cornbread, and dinner is served.

white wine-braised white beans and garlic on baguette.jpg

Bonus: these guys are surely good enough to entertain with (more on that next week). They're ready to be mashed onto baguette slices as part of a mezze platter—or as a quick afternoon snack—or served as a side dish with a larger spread. Any way you serve them, these beans are one seriously satisfying plate.

white wine-braised white beans and garlic detail.jpg

White Wine-Braised White Beans and Garlic

Print the recipe

2 15-oz cans cannellini beans

6 cloves garlic, crushed

2/3 cup dry white wine

2 TBSP olive oil

1/2 tsp dried marjoram

1/2 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

small handful parsley, chopped well, to serve

Drain and rinse beans. Set aside in a sieve to let drain thoroughly. Meanwhile, add remaining ingredients, except parsley, to slow cooker. Add drained beans, stir, and cook on low eight hours. Use a wooden spoon to crush the garlic cloves, which will be cooked to a pulp by now, and stir to incorporate fully.

Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley, and serve.

Comment

Comment

Party Animals No. 53: Fig Paste, Fig Syrup, and Instant Pantry Entertaining

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

party animals no 53 fig paste with kite hill cream cheese on crackers plate.jpg

We have some catching up to do, don't we? Let's get to it.

I missed two weeks in a row, which is a first on MSV. It's a bummer but couldn't be helped. First, briefly, there's a cat in the MSV house feeling poorly.

hermanito on lap.jpg

What's more, that cat feeling poorly is nearly 18 years old. Yeah. I don't wanna talk about it.

hermanito on couch.jpg

Additionally, I have been busy with Libacious. Specifically, we had a couple of jobs that wanted a bunch of original development—much more than would usually go on. First, there was a masquerade murder-mystery birthday party for 12 and 13-year-olds at Westwood, complete with pomegranate sours shaken up for the kiddos. I was not about to miss the chance to design something to pour into a coupe glass for this event.

Also, I got to wear a masquerade mask.

  photo by  Casey Fox

 photo by Casey Fox

So much fun.

That was overlapped with/immediately followed by serving the signature cocktail for Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum's Green Thumb Gala. Meet the Barn Raiser.

There's a bunch of stuff in here: Assam tea spiced with allspice, black pepper, and cinnamon; fig-turbinado syrup; lemon juice; vodka; orange bitters; and orange blossom water—all garnished with sage leaves pinned to dehydrated orange slices and star anise.

I built the Barn Raiser from scratch, beginning with a single cocktail and scaling it all the way up to 380 servings. It was both nerve-racking and ultimately confidence-boosting, and, happily, brings us to today's recipes.

The fig-turbinado syrup is totally lovely. It obviously works in drinks (alcoholic or otherwise), but you can also drizzle it over vanilla ice cream or use it to jazz up breakfast.

party animals no 53 fig syrup on waffles.jpg

New waffle recipe coming very, very soon, by the way.

What's more, when you finish making the syrup, you'll have some rehydrated figs on your hands, which means you're only moments away from a seriously dreamy batch of fig paste.

Which brings us to a note on instant entertaining, in case it helps anyone. Lots of tips you find online for items to keep on hand for surprise guests involve animal products, so it seems worth noting that a vegan platter does not have to be a chore. I hosted a business meeting on short notice (with Libacious' wildly talented graphic designer, Tricia Bateman), at which I knew we'd be having some special celebratory cocktails all the way from Edinburgh (brought back, thoughtfully, by my business partners).

party animals no 53 instant entertaining bramble affinity.jpg

And I never feel entirely comfortable serving drinks without something to nibble on. I had only about 20 minutes to get something onto the table. If I'd had just 15 or 20 minutes more, an almond pâté log would definitely have been the savory spread on the table, but them's the breaks.

party animals no 53 instant entertaining platter.jpg

Clockwise from left: lemony chickpea, artichoke, and red pepper spread; two cracker varieties; fig paste; and rosemary mixed nuts.

The artichoke hearts, chickpeas, and red peppers all came straight from the pantry to combine with olive oil, lemon-infused grapeseed oil, a little lemon juice, salt, and dried herbs. That's it. The mixed nuts were purchased roasted and salted. Then there was nothing left to do but briefly toast them on the stovetop with a small amount of olive oil and fresh rosemary.

party animals no 53 instant entertaining rosemary mixed nuts.jpg

Tiny crispy fried rosemary needles are hopelessly irresistible, you know.

And, finally, the fig paste. I grabbed a handful of rehydrated figs from the comically large batch on hand from syrup testing and blended it up with a little brandy, dried sage, orange exract, and a touch of orange blossom water (since the figs absorb syrup, not just water, the mixture is plenty sweet already). The whole thing still tastes like spreadable figs, but the additions give the paste a very subtle depth that keeps it from being one-note.

For instant entertaining, you do not have to have pre-soaked figs on hand. Begin your preparations by rehydrating figs (or any dried fruit you have in the cabinet). They will soften while you arrange everything else, then you can finish by blending them up into your paste (sweeten gently, to taste).

It's also especially nice baked into fig bars (instant breakfasts!) or dolloped on a cracker atop Kite Hill cream cheese.

party animals no 53 fig paste with kite hill cream cheese on crackers detail.jpg

Dead Simple Fig Syrup and Fig Paste

Print the recipe

yields about 10 oz syrup and a scant cup paste

For the syrup:

1 cup water

1 cup turbinado/demerara sugar

1 cup packed dried figs [see Note], roughly chopped

For the paste:

1 tsp brandy

1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage

1/4 tsp orange extract

pinch flaked sea salt

two drops orange blossom water (optional, or substitute with a pinch orange zest)

Begin by making syrup. Heat water and turbinado in a medium pot over high heat, stirring to help dissolve sugar. As soon as it begins to boil, add chopped figs, and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let steep one hour. Strain, pressing gently on figs to extract some of the absorbed liquid. Chill syrup in an airtight container.

To make the fig paste, transfer steeped figs to a food processor bowl. Add all other paste ingredients and process to a uniform paste. Store fig paste in the refrigerator, but it's best served at room temperature and will readily soften if heated briefly in the microwave.

Note: either Calimyrna or black mission figs may be used. The former will give a gentler flavor and sweetness that is particularly nice alone, while the latter will come through a bit bolder and makes a wonderful, traditional-feeling fig bar. Both are tasty, so follow your bliss.

Comment

Comment

The Basics No. 4: Lentil and Spinach Stew

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

lentil and spinach stew table.jpg

A taste of serious soup weather blew through East Tennessee over the last couple of weeks, which means it's time to share maybe the most satisfying vegetarian staple there is: lentil and spinach stew. It's easy, tasty, comforting, economical, full of protein, and can easily be a pantry dish.

lentil and spinach stew detail.jpg

This version purees a head of oven-toasted garlic, which you'll add into the broth along with a bit of red miso at the end of cooking to give the broth extra depth. The beauty of this method is that the garlic does its thing in the oven while the lentils cook. Which means the only time added by the garlic is peeling the cloves. But, in a pinch, or in the case of low energy, skip the fresh garlic and add a dose of garlic powder instead.

Unless you're feeding a crowd, this recipe makes a ton of leftovers. Keep it fresh by playing with side dishes and toppings. Fresh cantaloupe is especially nice on the first day. Try it with a fresh, crusty loaf on the second. Toast up some olive oil and rosemary croutons for a texture switch later in the week. When you're down to the final third, reheat the stew in a dose of olive oil with a minced fresh hot pepper. Then add garam masala and your other favorite curry-related spices (ground amchoor, coriander, and cumin always make for a nice combination) and serve the whole thing over rice.

lentil and spinach stew over rice.jpg

Lentil and Spinach Stew

Print the recipe

serves about 8

1 head garlic (about 10 large cloves), peeled

1 tsp oil

8 1/2 cups water, divided

1 lb small green (or brown) lentils

1 lb frozen chopped spinach

2 no-salt-added vegetable bouillon cubes

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1 tsp dried marjoram

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 TBSP red miso

salt

freshly cracked black pepper

Heat oven to 400. Toss peeled garlic cloves with oil in a small baking dish or pie plate. When oven is ready, let garlic cook until just tender and light golden, about 15-20 minutes, watching very carefully toward the end to avoid burning. (If the garlic burns, the whole pot of stew will taste bitter.)

Set aside one half-cup of water and add remaining eight cups to a dutch oven or soup pot, then heat on the stove over high heat. Add lentils, spinach, bouillon cubes, nutritional yeast, marjoram, and paprika. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, or as needed to maintain a steady, strong simmer. Leave covered and cook until lentils are tender, about 25 minutes.

When lentils are tender and garlic is ready, add remaining half-cup water to a small food processor (or use a wide-mouth mason jar with an immersion blender) along with garlic and miso. Blend until smooth. Stir into pot until thoroughly combined. Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste.

Comment

Comment

Party Animals No. 52: Dinner with Pals ftr Almond Pâté Log Crostini

Hey, welcome. Consider following MSV on Twitter and subscribing to the RSS feed, or sign up for email updates right over here.

party animals no 52 almond pate log with pistachios and pink peppercorns.jpg

Almond pâté is a tried and true entertaining dish around these parts. It's a dead-simple, totally tasty way to swiftly change nearly any given omnivore's mind about what vegan food can taste (and look) like. Turns out, if you replace the liquid in the recipe with a little extra-firm tofu, you get a rich, salty dough stiff enough to be shaped into a log and rolled in all kinds of great garnishes.

party animals no 52 almond pate crostini platter.jpg

This particular dish was inspired by a roasted grape and beet salad from New Vegetarian featuring medallions of dairy cheese rolled in pistachio crumbs. One very successful little almond pâté experiment later, and there's no doubt about how to substitute for anything similar in the future. My log was rolled in not only pistachio crumbs, but also pink peppercorns for flecks of rosy color and a little extra spice.

For the crostini that went to dinner, toasted baguette slices were topped with baby arugula tossed in an apple-ginger dressing (straight from that salad recipe in New Vegetarian), then topped with slices of the almond pâté log and finished off with tender roasted grapes. So nice.

party animals no 52 almond pate crostini detail.jpg

Almond Pâté Log with Pistachios and Pink Peppercorns

Print the recipe

yields about 16 servings, adapted from here (post includes original credit links)

1/4 cup roasted and salted pistachio meats

2 tsp pink peppercorns

150 g blanched almond meal

1/2 cup crumbled extra-firm tofu

1/4 cup lemon juice

3 TBSP canola or grape seed oil

1 small clove garlic, peeled

1 tsp fine sea or kosher salt

Heat oven to 350.

In a food processor, process pistachios to medium-coarse crumbs. Add peppercorns and pulse a few times to break up gently. Spread mixture out onto a pie plate and set aside.

Wipe out processor bowl, wipe off blade, and reassemble. Add all remaining ingredients to processor and process until smooth. Lay out a piece of aluminum foil large enough to roll the log in. Remove processor blade, scrape off, and use your hands to scoop dough from processor bowl. Shape into a log roughly two and a half inches thick and six inches long. Roll log slowly in pistachio crumbs, pressing down very gently as you go to encourage cohesion, then use your hands to pat the mixture onto the exposed ends (and any missed spots you may have). Transfer to bottom edge of foil, roll up, fold in ends, and bake 40 minutes.

Note that the log is softer when warm. If you prefer to spread the pâté, serve a little warm. To slice, let cool before serving. To get the very cleanest slices, chill before cutting. Best served at room temperature, give or take.

party animals no 52 fig cake.jpg

And there was dessert. Here, the German apple cake from The Joy of Vegan Baking, wherein sliced figs were swapped for the called-for sliced apples. The very gentle sweetness of this cake is one of the reasons I love it, but for entertaining purposes, it could've used a little drizzle of something to help it feel more decadent. Pretty nice, nevertheless.

And that brings us right into meteorological fall. Expect more celebrations of that soon.

Comment