Arugula Salad with Grilled Eggplant & Portabellas

1 07 2012

I  love everything about this meal. The fact that it was made with organic arugula from the CSA. The fact that it was my first time using the grill this summer. Definite turning point. And also the fact that I made a cilantro-based anything and was able to stomach it, let alone enjoy it. I still hate cilantro on it’s own, but the few times I’ve cooked with it, I absolutely love its fresh and herby flavor.

See: http://falmouth.patch.com/articles/adventures-in-pesto

So for now, Cilantro: 2, Kristie: 0, the battle continues.

Give me a pile of grilled veggies over a bed of cold greens, covered in a flavorful sauce, and I am quite content.

Arugula Salad with Grilled Eggplant & Portabellas
Adapted from Passionate Vegetarian

4 portabella mushrooms, caps removed
1 large eggplant, stem ends removed, sliced horizontally into long, flat pieces, each the length of the whole eggplant and about 1/3-inch thick
1-2 tbs. olive oil
Cilantro Vinaigrette (recipe below)
6-8 cups very fresh arugula leaves, washed and well-dried

Preheat grill to high.

Lightly brush the mushroom caps and eggplant slices with oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place them directly on the preheated grill. Grill the mushrooms for 6-8 minutes and the eggplant for 8-10 minutes, turning once with tongs about halfway through.

Remove the vegetables from the grill. Toss with about 2 tbs. of the Cilantro Vinaigrette and serve on the cold greens. Top with any remaining dressing.

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White Bean & Mushroom Stew

25 06 2012

When I think of joining a CSA, I think of weekly bundles, overflowing with leafy greens, plump & fragrant fruits; coming home from my day at the farm, dirt under my toenails, my hair flowing free..blahblahblah.

It was my first CSA pick-up the other day, and sad to say, my expectations were not met. Cut to the farm. It is down-pouring. Me in a tank top, sans jacket, frantically pulling up basil plants by the root, trying to get out of there as fast as possible. Then sitting in the car, wondering how I’m supposed to justify spending $600 a season, when all I have to show for it this week are 3 garlic scapes, a quart of strawberries, a dozen eggs, and some mesclun. Feed a family of 4 for a week?? More like an hour.

I understand that it’s the beginning of the season and I cannot rush the garden, but c’mon; a girl can’t survive on garlic scapes and spring mix alone.

On a more positive note, I did manage to incorporate this weeks CSA into one great dinner. Smitten Kitchen’s Leek Toasts with Blue Cheese, with my scapes added, Mediterranean salad with a lemon/feta dressing, and this lovely bean, leek and mushroom stew from the Veganomicon.

It’s earthy and creamy, pretty much a full meal on its own, but taken to a whole new level when served up with the leek toasts.

Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms
Adapted from Veganomicon

2 cups dried white beans, soaked over-night
1 small onion, peeled and sliced into quarters
1 stalk celery, cut in 2
1 small carrot, sliced in half
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsps. dried tarragon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 large leek, (white and light green parts only) thinly sliced
1 lb. mushrooms (whatever kind you want. I prefer a mix of mushies like shiitake, oyster, or cremini), thinly sliced
2 tsps. salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Drain and rinse the beans and transfer them to a pot. Add 4 cups of cold water, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for about 3 minutes. Skim off any white foam from the top. Cover the pot and lower the heat to medium; add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme, and tarragon.

Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the beans are tender. Remove the onion, carrot, and celery. Lower the heat to low and continue to simmer while preparing the remaining veggies. The beans should resemble a very thick stew, not a soup. If there’s too much liquid, leave the pot uncovered and stir occasionally.

About 10 minutes before the beans are done, places the garlic and 2 tbs. of olive oil in a cold skillet. Heat the skillet over medium heat, allowing garlic to sizzle for about 30 seconds. Add the sliced leek and saute until soft, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape the leeks into the beans. Add the remaining 2 tbs. oil to the pan, allow to warm for about 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms. Sprinkle the mushrooms lightly with 1/2 tsp. salt and saute until most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes. When most of the excess liquid is gone, add the mushrooms to the beans. Turn off the heat and season the beans with the remaining salt (or more, if desired) and freshly ground pepper. Allow the beans to stand for about 10 minutes before serving.





Pasta Primavera

28 03 2012

I have become a gym rat. Not an over-committed, beefed-up zoomba nutzo, but I frequent the gym 3-4 times a week, in my first real attempt to get in shape. I have finally realized that you cannot eat your way to good health. You actually have to move sometimes. Ugghhhhhh.

So with some encouragement from my boyfriend, who just ran his first 5k this weekend, I went for a run. I’ve used an elliptical and a treadmill, but I have never put foot to pavement and gone for a real run. It started off…weird. Am I running towards something? Is someone chasing me? I became extremely self-conscious that every car that drove by knew I was an out-of-shape ass going on her first jog. Hands over mouths, stifling laughter, pointing, confident in their perfect physique.

I ran on. A mile and a half. Felt great afterwards. Alive, even. Day after, dead. I feel like I’m in the initial stages of Lou Gehrigs disease. Like literally, I cannot lift my legs.

UPDATE: Day after running and not being able to move legs, I wake up in the middle of the night with a 100 degree fever and an awesome case of night terrors/violent shivers.

Conclusion: Running is either terrible for the body or it purged some sort of demon inside of me. If I feel great tomorrow, then the latter is true. If I don’t feel better, then I give up and it’s donuts for breakfast because apparently exercise is pure evil.

I suppose I should talk about food now. This cookbook was a Christmas present from my parents during my first year of vegetarianism. Though it’s all pretty simple stuff, it’s still one of my favorites, mainly for the pictures. I love this primavera because it is packed full of veggies and doesn’t make you feel too guilty about eating a bowl full of pasta with cream sauce.

Pasta Primavera
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Dummies

1 tb. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed & cut into 3-in. pieces
1 medium zucchini, sliced and halved
1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup vegetable broth
3 tbs. fresh basil, chopped
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. hot cooked fettuccine
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Cook the onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes.

Add the asparagus, zucchini, and mushrooms, cover and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes, or until the asparagus is bright green and tender.

Add the milk, broth, and basil and cook over high heat until the liquid boils. Cook for about 3 minutes and then add the peas and scallions. Simmer for 1 minute.

Add the salt and pepper, and then add the pasta and cheese, tossing until the ingredients are well mixed. Serve immediately topped with a little more Parmesan.





Mushroom Dill Frittata & Curry Roasted Potatoes (Oh, and Bloody Marys)

19 12 2011

Like most people, or at least like most people I would want to associate with, I am addicted to brunch. This probably stems from the fact that I will sleep until around noon/later than noon, if given the chance. So when you wake up as the sun is getting ready to start its descent, sometimes your screwed up internal clock doesn’t know whether it wants breakfast or lunch. How about BOTH, SUCKAS.

Ahem.

So for Sunday’s 2:00 food blowout, I opened one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Brunch, and played around with some of Isa’s recipes. The frittata is very flavorful, with bright dill and juicy mushies. What I love most about frittatas is that they taste just as good cold or reheated the next day as they do coming right out of the oven.

And these roasted potatoes are just the perfect breakfast potato recipe. Since they’re baked, they don’t get all oily or mushy, and still retain a crisp bite. Cumin is also a great partner with potatoes. Try sprinkling on a little nutritional yeast for some cheesy potato goodness.

And now..dun da dun, the star of the show and love of my life…thebloodymary.

This is one of the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve ever tasted and is now my official go-to recipe. I have to give kudos to White On Rice Couple for creating this sriracha-spiced mouth bliss. I think it’s about time for another one.

Mushroom Dill Frittata
Adapted from Vegan Brunch

1 tb. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced (your choice. I’d go for an earthier selection such as cremini, shiitake or bellas)
1 package extra-firm tofu
1 tb. soy sauce
1 tsp. mustard
1/4 tsp. turmeric
Several dashes of fresh black pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 cup loosely packed fresh dill, chopped
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, then add the mushrooms and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes.

Squeeze out the tofu to remove any excess water. Crumble and squeeze it into a large mixing bowl, until it has the consistency of ricotta. Mash really well! Add the soy sauce, mustard, turmeric, black pepper, yeast, salt and dill to the tofu and mix well. When the mushies are ready, add then to the mixture. Taste for seasonings.

Lightly grease an 8-inch pie pan and firmly press the frittata mixture into it. Bake for 20 minutes, until it is firm and lightly browned on the top. Let cool for about 3 minutes, then invert onto a plate and serve.

Curry Roasted Potatoes

2 1/2 lbs. potatoes
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tb. curry powder
1/2 tsp. cumin

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or lightly grease with olive oil.

Slice the potatoes in half lengthwise and then into about 3/4-inch pieces. Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Use yr hands to coat all of the potatoes in oil, then sprinkle them with salt, curry powder and cumin. Toss to coat.

Bake potatoes in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove and use a spatula to flip them. Return the potatoes to the oven and roast for another 10-15 minutes, or until they’re lightly browned and tender on the inside.





Fettuccine Margherita

5 12 2011

So I recently joined Mint.com to try and manage my budget. All I can say is, don’t do it. It makes you horrified and extremely disappointed in every single one of your spending decisions. Every. Single. One. I had to buy floss today and felt like a jerk.

But what mainly gets me is the amount I spend going on out to eat. I just love trying out new restaurants and all sorts of types of cuisine. But now instead of trying other peoples food, I will be trying out my own skills in the kitchen A LOT more. This month has been dubbed No Spend December. I am not going out to eat once. Home-cooked goodies all around. My wallet and tummy will be thanking me.

Starting NSD off, we have this lovely pasta dish. The original recipe called for one pound of pasta, but I kicked it down to half a pound. I don’t know if anyone else has this issue with pasta recipes, but the sauce:pasta ratios are always way off. A full pound of pasta is just going to absorb all of the sauce, leaving nothing  for me to dip my bread in or slurp from the bowl. So either double the amount of sauce or reduce the amount of pasta.

This sauce is really exquisite. Mushrooms browned in butter, mixed with tangy tomatoes, wine and silky cream blend together perfectly to make a dish that is ideal for a cozy night in. Pair with crusty bread and a glass of red wine and you wonder why you dish out cash for someone else to make this stuff for you.

On a different note, if you’re into beer, I have a few new reviews for brews you need to try over in the Beer Section: Sierra Nevada’s Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale, Anderson Valley’s Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout and Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin, to name a few.

Fettuccine Margherita
Adapted from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

1/2 lb. fettuccine
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. unsalted butter
12 oz (about 4 1/2 cups) sliced mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes, well-drained and chopped
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the fettuccine until al dente in a large pot of boiling, salted water.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until they brown and the juices begin to evaporate, about 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and red pepper and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes and wine and boil 2 minutes, stirring often. Add the cream and salt and boil 1 minute.

Drain the fettuccine thoroughly. Place in a large bowl, then pour on the sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Toss quickly and serve immediately.





Fried Green Tomato Po’Boys & Vegan Caesar Salad

20 09 2011

I always imagined green tomatoes as being tart and well, green tasting. I pictured the disappointment and agony in our faces as we spit them out in unison, cursing the unripe fruit. But lo! Not was the case! Succulent and flavorful, with a tobasco-kick and my bacon portobellos melting over everything, these sandwiches are anything but agony.

Try pairing with this *vegan cesar salad (almost vegan, minus the Parmesan I added..) Vampires beware. This dressing packs a garlic whollop. Love it.

Fried Green Tomato Po’Boys
Adapted from Vegan Planet

3 small green tomatoes, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-in. slices
Salt and black pepper
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (or if Old Bay can’t be found, some Cajun seasoning will work)
3 tbs. olive oil
Tempeh Bacon (my substitute for tempeh was to take 2 portobello mushies, slice, marinate in my tried & true “Bacon” marinade: equal parts liquid smoke, real maple syrup and soy sauce)
2 romaine lettuce leaves
Mayo (or soy mayo)
Hot sauce, to taste
Bread/sub roll of choice

Cesar Salad
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 loaf crusty bread
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tb. tahini
1 tb. white miso
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Romaine lettuce
Parmesan cheese, shaved (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut the bread into 1-inch. cubes and spread on a baking sheet. Coat in olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, turning occasionally, until lightly toasted on all sides, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a small bowl or food processor, combine the garlic, tahini, miso, lemon juice, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil until blended. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Cut the romaine leaves into bite-size pieces and place in a large serving bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until evenly coated. Add the croutons and cheese, if using, toss again and serve.





Vegetable Melt with Wasabi Mayo

2 05 2011

Besides food, music is one of the biggest passions in life. I grew up listening to punk rock and have been playing power chords since I was 15. Sadly though, my guitars have been collecting dust for a while. Besides picking one up to play the occasional Violent Femmes or Patsy Cline cover, it has been sucking to see music slowly fading out of my life. But. I see that changing very shortly.

I have recently come into possession of a banjo and thanks to Ebay, a vintage Horner accordion. Pretty much my dream instruments. And after a weekend out in my college town of Amherst, MA and re-connecting with people who inspire me on so many levels, including musically, I am back in the music bizz. I will learn how to play my sad accordion clown music, some lively banjo ditties, and I think that will push me on the way to being more one with myself. Oh yeah.

These little veggie melts make me feel pretty at one with everything too. Mild Muenster melting into a creamy rollwich (I sort of roll them up when I eat them. Allows me to eat more furiously), with a hint of wasabi spice and crunchy soy-sauce covered veggies. Wicked rules.

Vegetable Melt with Wasabi Mayo
Adapted from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

1 tsp. wasabi powder
3 tbs. mayonnaise (or Trader Joes Wasabi Mayo)
1 tb. olive oil
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored & cut into thin strips
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small pieces
2 tsps. soy sauce
2 pita pockets
1 1/4 cup Muenster cheese, grated

Mix the wasabi with 1 tsp. water, or just enough to make it the consistency of mustard. Let sit for 10 minutes. Place the mayo in a small bowl and stir until smooth, then stir in the wasabi paste. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in the pepper and broccoli, sprinkling on 1 tb. of water. Cover and cook until the broccoli is tender, but still a little crisp, about 5 minutes.

Remove the cover from pan. If there is any water remaining, raise the heat to high to evaporate it. Stir frequently. Pour on the soy sauce, tossing to coat. Remove from heat.

Preheat the broiler. Split the pitas to make 4 discs. Place them on a baking sheet, then spoon on the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle on the cheese and broil until melted, about 3 minutes. Spoon on the wasabi mayo!