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Entries in Vegetarian (12)

Sunday
Aug042013

Spicy Peanut, Carrot, Radish, and Snap Pea Wraps

Starting on the 4th of July, Rob and I took an amazing vacation to the Pacific Northwest.  We started in Portland, which is a seriously hip city with a phenomenal food scene.  I fell in love with its quaint neighborhoods, the abundance of green, fantastic ethnic food and food carts at every turn, the fact that everyone rides bikes everywhere, the ice cream at Salt & Straw, and the coffee and craft beer.  Unfortunately, I'll never be cool enough to live there, but that won't stop me from visiting again soon, especially since our dear friends M&C live there and are the best tour guides ever (no exaggeration - I'm nervous for them to visit Denver because I really have to brush up on my Denver knowledge beforehand).

 

After Portland, we made our way east to Hood River.  We visited a dam on the Columbia River where you can see fish swimming upstream to spawn (nerdy, yes, but totally awesome), went on a trail run to a stunning waterfall with a swimming hole, and visited Solera Brewery at the base of Mount Hood that surely must be the brewery with the best view anywhere.
Our next stop was Bend where we tested our mountain biking skills, drank (more) craft beer, and I contemplated what kind of legal career I could have in Central Oregon.  We eventually made our way to the coast, which is dotted with dramatic rock formations, tides that let you explore cool sea life, and really cute towns perfect for relaxing and walking the beach.  The trip reminded me that the United States is full of incredible things to see and that while I'll always have wanderlust for foreign destinations, there is much to be seen right here in the U.S. of A!
It was at a farmer's market in Astoria where I sampled a truly delicious roll-up sandwich.  The recipe is something I would NEVER make if I just read it, but after sampling this at a stand at the market I snapped up the recipe.  It's now part of our lunch rotation.
Spicy Peanut, Carrot, Radish, and Snap Pea Wraps
Adapted from Sunset Magazine
Ingredients
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 teaspoons Asian chili paste
1 1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 whole-wheat tortillas
1 cup coarsely shredded carrots
1 cup snap peas, sliced diagonally
1 cup coarsely shredded radishes (approximately 5) 
Preparation
In a small bowl, whisk peanut butter, chili paste, soy sauce, and 2 tbsp. water to blend.  Evenly divide mixture between the two tortillas and spread the entire tortilla leaving a border at the edge.  Add carrots, snap peas, and radish in a rectangle down the center of the tortilla.  Roll-up the tortilla burrito-style and sliced into desired portion sizes.

Thursday
Aug012013

Baingan Bharta & the Colorado Get Movin' Challenge

 

Hello, August!  It's been a full month since I last blogged.  The intention to post has been there -- I have at least ten e-mails to myself in my inbox with post ideas, I've been cooking, and I was totally inspired by a trip to the Pacific Northwest.  But then… crickets.  

I'm hoping to turn things around this month, starting with my role as an Ambassador for the LiveWell Colorado Get Movin' Challenge.  For the month of August, I've committed to exercising for at least 30 minutes a day and am hoping to inspire others to join me.  If you live in Colorado, please join the challenge today!  Since the Ironman last fall, I've been a bit lax about exercising and I think this month's challenge will help me get back into gear.  Every time I exercise, I feel better mentally and physically but it is still SO hard to get out there and do it every day.  I've included a few photos in this post from my favorite places to work out on the Front Range - Centennial Cone, Bergen Peak, and North Table Mountain.  Coloradans have no excuse when it comes to working out -- we should be out there taking advantage of our spectacular surroundings every day!
I'm in San Francisco for work for a few days so I'm kicking off the challenge with a run to the Presidio from my hotel.  In addition to exercising more, I'm going to make a concerted effort to eat healthier this month.  To get started, I made a tasty eggplant dish courtesy of Mark Bittman.  Eggplants hold such promise with their shiny purple skin and fun shape, but I am never thrilled with the outcome.  The dishes I've made in the past tend to be bland and I had basically written off ever making something as tasty as what you get in a restaurant.  In Indian restaurants, Baingan Bharta is my go-to dish.
Baingan Bharta is a traditionally a South Asian dish that includes the spice blend Garam Masala, which varies by region but typically includes cinnamon, black and white peppercorns, cloves, cumin seeds, and cardamom pods.  An added bonus to making this is that I was able to use a jalapeño pepper from my own garden!  I started small this year and just planted jalapeño peppers, tomatoes, basil, and a lone eggplant, but it has been so fun harvesting everything.  We'll be eating pesto well into the winter… as for the jalapeños (10 on the plant and counting), I've yet to figure out what to do with all of them.  Any ideas?
Baingan Bharta
Yield = 4 servings
Notes - One of the coolest things about this recipe was grilling whole eggplant, which I'd never done before.  I was worried that I wouldn't know when they were done, but it was obvious when the eggplant "collapsed" and was cooked inside.  After about 10 minutes, they were cool enough to peel and it really was a breeze.  I'll be using this method again!  I served this with naan that I picked up at the grocery store - it wasn't great, but you do want to serve this with something for "scooping."  Pita bread would work well, too, but be sure to warm it up just prior to serving.
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds eggplant (approximately 3 medium-sized eggplants)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh hot green chile like a jalapeño, or more to taste, diced (discard seeds for less heat)
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, thin stems included
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (if you enjoy extra heat)
Preparation

1.  Prick the eggplant with a thin-blade knife all over. Grill over or next to very high heat, turning as necessary until the skin is blackened and the eggplant collapses. Or broil, or roast on a heated cast-iron pan in the hottest possible oven. It will take about 20 minutes.

2.  When the eggplant is cool enough to handle, peel (this will be easy) and trim away the hard stem. Chop or mash in a bowl, with lime juice.

3.  Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chiles and cook for another minute. Add the tomato, turmeric and salt. Cook until the tomato is soft, 5 minutes or so.

4.  Stir in the eggplant purée and cook, stirring, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, garam masala, paprika, and chili powder (if you are using it) and turn off the heat. Serve hot with warm naan bread or pita, or over rice.

Monday
Jun032013

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Somehow it has been over a month since I last posted about food.  It isn't that I haven't been cooking, but life has been a bit overwhelming since we returned from Asia in April.  First, I started a new job!  After almost six years of practicing law at a firm, I've moved "in-house" to work for the world's largest producer of mozzarella that is conveniently headquartered on our neighborhood.  Proposed alternative titles to "Corporate Attorney" include Counselor of Curds and Moosquire.  In mid-May we finally had our last snow, which means that we are experiencing our first spring / early summer as homeowners. We've spent hours weeding and spreading mulch and laying sod and while the work is incredibly satisfying, it never seems to end!  Between work and household chores the days just disappear.  
This past weekend I finally made time for cooking.  One food item that always disappoints me is the veggie burger.  Store bought versions are usually lacking in flavor and with a cardboard texture and I've always figured they must be easy to make.  I wanted something spicy and flavorful but also a burger that would stick together and stand up to grilling since it is officially that time of year!  With the combination of roasted sweet potatoes, black beans and an egg, these burgers have great flavor and moisture and stick together without issue when grilled.  Adjust the seasoning to your spice tolerance - these aren't spicy per se, but you they have a subtle kick.  I also think you could use any grain (quinoa, millet, oats, bread crumbs) -- I just happened to have cooked brown rice available.
We've been enjoying our burgers over a bed of lettuce with tomatoes and avocado, but only because I haven't made Homemade Hamburger Buns recently.  Now that our whole yard is mulched, perhaps I'll actually get to those before the 4th of July?
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Veggie Burgers
Yield = 6
Prep Time = 1 hour (includes roasting time)
Adapted from Whole Foods
 
Ingredients
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 egg
1/2 onion, chopped (I used a white onion - red or yellow would work well, too)
1 cup brown rice, cooked (I think you could substitute a range of grains, including quinoa or even bread crumbs)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
Hot sauce (optional - I added 3 dashes)
Salt and pepper to taste
 
Preparation
1.  Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Spread the sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender.  Set aside to cool.

2.  Using a food processor, pulse the onions and sweet potatoes until just combined being careful not to over-process (I think I did about 5 pulses).  Add the beans and pulse another 2-3 times until combined and the beans are in smaller pieces.  Alternatively, if you don't feel like using a food processor, finely dice the onion and mash use a fork to mash the sweet potatoes and mix them with the onions.  In a separate bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a fork and mix them into the sweet potatoes and the onions.  I think it's key to be sure the onion is finely diced whether you use a food processor or a just hand mix the ingredients.

3.  Add the egg, rice, garlic powder, salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, chipotle powder, and hot sauce (I used about 4 dashes, but we like things spicy).  Form 6 patties of even thickness.

4.  To cook the veggie burgers, either heat a large skillet over medium heat and arrange a single layer of burgers and cook, flipping once, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through (approximately 10 minutes) or grill the burgers!  We grilled ours using a gas grill and they took about 12 minutes, but obviously this will vary by how hot your grill is.  Enjoy the burgers on a bun or served over a salad... I particularly enjoyed ours with avocado.
On a completely separate note, aren't lilacs just the loveliest?  We aren't getting many this year because of our late snows, but they are just so fragrant.  

 

Friday
Jan112013

Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Dressing

If it is winter where you live, we can commiserate about the fact that in-season and tempting produce is non-existent this time of year.  Our tomatoes are flavorless and even the apples are looking sad at this point.  My go-to salad involves greens and whatever veggies I can chop and toss in the bowl, but I have to be creative this time of year when tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, beans, etc. aren't tempting me at the store.
Enter the Roasted Vegetable Salad.  It is the perfect time of year to take advantage of root and other vegetables that really shine when roasted.  You could make this salad with whatever you have around to roast (I'd consider adding Brussels sprouts and beets or substitute them for the potatoes), but the one ingredient I wouldn't leave out is the fennel-  I felt it really made the dish.  The tangy dressing and and some crumbles of Homemade Goat Cheese complete the salad.  An added bonus - the gorgeous colors!  
Roasted Vegetable Salad with Honey Dressing
Ingredients
1 medium red onion, cut into 8 wedges $
 1/2 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (often labeled "yams"), peeled and cut into 1-in. chunks
1/2 pound small red thin-skinned potatoes, cut in half
1 medium fennel bulb, ends trimmed and cut into 8 wedges
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-in. chunks $
 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons good-quality red wine vinegar
2 to 3 tbsp. honey
2 qts. (about 6 oz.) loosely packed mixed salad greens
1 small log or crumbles of goat cheese (or make your own!)
Preparation
1.  Preheat oven to 425°. Toss onion, sweet and red potatoes, fennel, and bell pepper in a large bowl with 3 tbsp. oil and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper. Transfer vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet.
2.  Roast vegetables until tender and golden, about 40 minutes, turning over halfway through baking time.  About 10 minutes before they're done, sprinkle walnuts on baking sheet with vegetables and toast until golden.
3.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 1 tbsp. oil, the vinegar, honey, and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper.
4.  Toss greens in a large bowl with one-quarter of dressing; divide among plates. Let vegetables cool about 5 minutes, then transfer to the large bowl and toss with about half of the remaining dressing; spoon the vegetables and walnuts over the greens.  Garnish each salad with crumbles of goat cheese.  Serve with remaining dressing on the side.
Monday
Nov122012

Butternut Squash Tart

Saturday was a day to be indoors.  Those don't happen all that often in Colorado and we took full advantage of the gray day that alternated between rain and snow - we did "life admin" at home, took care of a few chores, and I finally made this Butternut Squash Tart.  My parents had a banner crop of squash this season and I have at least 15 squash and pumpkins waiting to be cooked.  

This was definitely a risky recipe -- one of those with components that are individually delicious, but who knows how they'll work together.  I also was not convinced the squash would be cooked through.

You'll see below that this was much enjoyed at our house.  I didn't take a final shot at the end of the day when every last piece was gone.  In our defense, we didn't really eat breakfast and this was lunch and an afternoon snack... but still.  The butternut squash flavor isn't particularly strong, but it is present and complimented by the spicy honey and the nutty parmesan and the delicious puff pastry.   

A few notes about this recipe:

First, I didn't have any Fresno, jalapeño, or red Thai chiles as called for in the original recipe.  I substituted red pepper flakes, which I think most people have in their kitchen.  They added the necessary spice and I didn't feel like it was missing anything as a result of the substitution.   

Second, I didn't feel like the sage contributed much to the dish except in making it prettier.  If you don't have sage leaves or don't want to bother with frying sage leaves, I don't think you'll miss them.  I did read online that you can microwave "fry" leaves - I've never tried it, but it might be worth investigating.

Third, while I do think this would make a great appetizer for a party, the middle slices of tart are harder to pick up and eat than the edges - they are better served on a small plate with a fork. 

Butternut Squash Tart
Adapted from Bon Appétit  

Ingredients
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (from a 17.3-ounce package)
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water
12 1/8"-thick rounds peeled butternut squash (or about 2 cups of butternut squash cubes - see below for details)
kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
12 fresh sage leaves (optional)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
black pepper

Preparation 

  • Preheat oven to 375°.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Gently roll out 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (from a 17.3-ounce package) on a lightly floured surface to a 10-inch square (just enough to even out). Transfer to prepared sheet.
  • Brush pastry with 1 large egg beaten with 1 tsp. water.  Arrange butternut squash cut 1/8" thick on the puff pastry.  I already had cubes of squash, which I just sliced into thinner pieces.  If you don't already have cubes, I think the best approach is to cut approximately twelve 1/8-inch-thick rounds of peeled butternut squash (cut from the neck of the squash).  Spread the sliced butternut squash over the pastry, overlapping as needed and leaving a 1/2-inch border (because I did squares, none overlapped).  Place another sheet of parchment paper over squash.  Set another large rimmed baking sheet over the tart (this will weigh down the pastry dough and steam the squash slices).
  • Bake until bottom of pastry begins to brown and top begins to puff, about 10 minutes.
  • Remove top baking sheet and discard top sheet of parchment paper.  Brush squash slices with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with kosher salt.  Return tart, uncovered, to oven and bake until pastry is deep golden brown and cooked through, 25–30 minutes longer.
  • Meanwhile, combine 1/4 cup honey, 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat (add additional red pepper flakes if more heat is desired).  Boil until thickened slightly and syrupy, about 6 minutes.
  • Optional - Line a plate with paper towels.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet until just beginning to smoke.  Add 12 fresh sage leaves; fry until crisp, about 30 seconds.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • Remove tart from the oven.  Brush the tart with the pepper-infused honey (I used about 2/3 of the honey).  Sprinkle 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan on top.  Return to oven for 1-2 minutes -- just long enough to melt the cheese.  Garnish with fried sage leaves (if you made them) and a few grinds of black pepper.