Tropical Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit, Coconut and Jerk-Tempeh

15 07 2011

Monday was one of those days where I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but Cape Cod. Refreshing. A day off from work with the boyfriend lead to lunch at La Petite France Cafe on Main St. Gazpacho Soup & Garden Veggie sandwich (lettuce, tomato, avocado, cucumber, onion, sprouts, roasted red peppers, baby Swiss and balsamic vinegarette)

Followed by splurging on a cheap pair of Keens, iced lemon matés at Common Ground (my lifeblood), library books (currently reading An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin), an hour at the beach then a stop at Lamberts to pick up fresh fruits & veggies for tonights din.

The creamy coconut dressing mixed with the sharp cheese and juicy fruit is a crazy awesome flavor combo. And the coolness of the salad helps balance out the jerk spice, which can be a little overwhelming, if your boyfriend accidentally dumps half a bottle of cayenne pepper into it. If you use a fresh pineapple, be sure to use it as bowl because it leaves some awesome flavor bits at the bottom.

Tropical Pasta Salad with Fresh Fruit & Coconut
Adapted from Vegan Planet

12 oz. small pasta of your choice
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (about 1 pineapple)
1 ripe mango; peeled, pitted and cut into 1/2-in. pieces
1 navel orange; peeled, white pith removed and cut into 1-in. chunks
1 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup celery, minced
2 tbs. scallions, minced
2 tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup orange juice
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Salad greens
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut; toasted
Gorgonzola cheese (optional)

Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and rinse under cold running water and place in a large bowl. Add the pineapple, mango, orange, bell pepper, celery, scallions and mint. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the coconut milk, orange juice, lime juice/zest, brown sugar, allspice, cayenne and salt to taste. Mix well. Pour the dressing over the pasta salad and toss to coat evenly.

Arrange the salad greens on plates (or if you’re in a fancy decorative mood OR have just 2 people eating and used a whole pineapple OR if you have more than 2 people eating but only like 2 of them, plate the greens in the hulled out pineapple halves and give them to your two besties/sexies). Place some pasta salad on top and sprinkle with the toasted coconut, gorgonzola and jerk-spiced tempeh (Recipe below). Gorge.

Jerk-Spiced Tempeh

2 tsps. brown sugar
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Olive oil

In a shallow bowl, combine all the ingredients. Cut the tempeh in half then into 4 trianges. Coat with olive oil then dredge all sides in the spice mixture. Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook until brown and crispy on both sides, about 5 minutes.

Spicy Tempeh

5 05 2011

I love when I need to cook with wine, but don’t have a bottle already uncorked anywhere in the house. Because that means I usually end up going to the liquor store and buying those little 4 packs with the baby bottles of wine. And I love those. They taste like garbarge most of the time, but something about plowing through 4 plastic bottles of wine with a meal is really gratifying and trashy-chic to me.

I also need to say that I made this great meal. Green-chili-cheese mashed potatoes, fried leeks, steamed broccoli and tempeh. Well, I re-heated the potatoes and leeks from yesterday, but I steamed that broccoli and cooked that tempeh. Ate with the cat and left the yummy leftovers out for my boyfriend to eat when he got home late from work. And you know what he ate instead? A chicken patty and a slice of pizza. Screw you dude.

He’s working for TruGreen now. I guess with a lame-o corporate job, you gotta play the role of a lame-o corporate shmuck. Gimme my pizza and patties.

Anyways. This is a fantastic marinade for the tempeh. Sort of wanted to melt cheese over the whole thing. But what don’t I want to melt cheese over? Serve it up with mashed potaties and greenz!!

Spicy Tempeh
Adapted from Veganomicon

1 package tempeh
1/2 cup red wine (I used Cabernet..but it doesn’t really matter, just nothing too sweet. Or you can just use veggie broth if you have no wine on hand. But really…you should always have wine on hand. In hand.)
1/4 cup hot sauce (Whatever your fave is)
2 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
Pinch of cayenne

Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a medium-size bowl.
Cut the tempeh in half, widthwise, then cut each half diagonally, to form 4 large triangles. When the water is boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cook the tempeh for 10 minutes.
Using tongs, place the tempeh in the marinade and let sit for 1 hour, turning the tempeh occasionally.
Heat some oil in a pan. Cook the tempeh for about 10 minutes, turning often and spooning on some marinade as you go.

Curried Tempeh Salad

6 11 2010

I’m creating a menu. One day, hopefully within the next five years, I intend on opening a vegetarian diner on Cape Cod. Jinxed it. Anyways. This is going on the menu. Stuffed in pita bread with some romaine. Curried salads are scrumptuous. But really, cover an infant in curry and I’ll be tempted. This curry tempeh salad is really a perfect recipe though. Its got a sweetness, as well as a crunch thanks to raisins and almonds.

So now’s the time. Do you appreciate loaded sexy breakfasts, seitan sandwiches, craft beers, vegan shakes, meatless comfort food? Do you find that you have too much money just hanging around? Or are you willing to go to great lengths, depraved and terrible lengths to acquire cash? Tired of donating to thankless charities such as the church. Please donate now to my restaurant start-up fund. I’ll name a menu item after you. Hell, I’ll name the restaurant after you. Do your part people.

Curried Tempeh Salad
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 12-oz package tempeh, poached, cooled, and chopped (poaching tempeh mellows out the flavor and increases its digestibility. Place the tempeh in a saucepan with water to cover and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, then pat dry)
1 celery rib, minced
2 scallions, minced
2 tbs. seeded & minced bell pepper
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 tbs. slivered almonds
1 tb. minced fresh parsley
1 cup soy mayonnaise
1 tb. sweet pickle relish
2 tsps. curry powder
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine everything in a large bowl and mix it up! cover and refridgerate for 30 minutes to let it cool and allow for flavors to blend.