July 8, 2012 § 2 Comments
I was a bit surprised when my mom said she wanted to have people over for the fourth. It was only two months prior, May 4, that my dad died. Some people probably find this odd to have a party so soon. I did at first. But I have to say, having the house full of our close friends made it somehow feel like he was there. Afterall, there’s nothing my dad enjoyed more than a full house, BBQ going, and margaritas blending. So with the party looming, I set out to find what I was going to make.
Last year when July 4th rolled around, panic struck. I’d been vegan for a whole day. A whole day! July 4 was going to be the second day of my 30 day vegan challenge and I was determined to stick with my challenge and not let the July 4th spread get the better of me. I entered the party and had everyone telling me to start on the 5th so I could enjoy all the food that day. But I was determined to stick with it.
I remember I brought a salad – just in case there wasn’t anything else I could eat. Well, I ate that salad all afternoon at the party. It was literally the only thing there I could eat. So, when the 4th rolled around this year, I knew I needed a better game plan.
I did some research and settled on three items to bring. I also wanted to make recipes I’d never made before. I think we all get in a rut of making the same things over and over again so a little change would be good.
Scouring the web, I found Chef Chloe’s mexicali sliders. Holy moly these were tasty. Everyone at the party liked them and several told me they wanted the recipe. Not bad for sliders on the 4th at a meat-eaters party!
These sliders weren’t hard to make but they weren’t exactly easy either. The tricky part is they are quite delicate so forming the patties just takes a little patience. I promise it is worth it though! Coupled with the spicy mango sauce and cooling guac, it makes for the perfect bite. One note: this recipe makes about double the guac and mango sauce you need so you could definitely cut those in half if you wanted to, although extra guac at a party is never an issue.
The second item I brought was Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s tantalizing thai slaw from The Vegan Table. This slaw was another winner! It’s a fun spin on the classic coleslaw you usually find at a BBQ. There’s a bit of heat with the addition of red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger. And my favorite bites were those with peanuts so I may add more next time. (If you don’t own it yet, The Vegan Table is a definite winner!)
Lastly, I brought rellenitos. These are a Guatemalan specialty and something my husband fondly recalls from his home. They were quite messy to make, and I need to perfect the recipe a bit more before sharing here, but they’re essentially just black bean stuffed plantains. They’re a bit sweet and can be eaten like a dessert.
This spread sure did beat my lonely salad last year! And as my mom has adopted a no-dairy lifestyle, there was a bit more I could eat this year including cous cous, veggie pasta salad, and a marinated broccoli salad (my fav that I need to get the recipe for!).
What did you bring to your July 4th celebration? Any suggestions for vegan friendly BBQ’s?
February 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
A year ago I posted a chicken wing recipe for the superbowl. My how things have changed!
I’ve never made chili. To be honest, I’ve never liked chili. I was never a big beef eater so a meaty bowl of beef and beans was not on my to-do list. Becoming vegan has made me have a new appreciation for beans too. I’ve really tried to explore new ways of eating and cooking beans, expanding my palate. Everyone talks about how easy chili is to make, so this week I figured I’d give it a try. It was one of those long work days and I was craving an easy, healthy, and warming bowl of yumminess. Boy did I find it! This recipe makes a lighter chili focused on the tomatoes and beans and finishes with a nice heat from the tabasco.
What I love about soups is that you don’t need a hard fast recipe. You can experiment or work with what you’ve got on hand. You can definitely add more beans or other veggies depending on your tastes. If you like spicy, go for it with the tobasco. If you’re not sure, add it gradually.
Hearty Vegan Chili
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can white beans, rinsed well – I used Navy beans
- 1/2 can 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable stock, optional
- 1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes – I used diced tomatoes with onions and garlic but you could use fire roasted, plain, basil, whatever you like
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- several dashes of tobasco to taste
- Heat oil in a large saute/stock pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 the onion, garlic, and carrots and cook several minutes until onions are tender. Add cumin, chili, and bay leaf and cook another few minutes.
- Turn heat to high and add rinsed white beans, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Add vegetable stock if desired for a more “soupy” chili. Reduce to low-medium once boiling.
- Cook another 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add several dashes of tobasco depending on taste. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with remaining minced onion, green pepper, and optional extra dash of tobasco.
January 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
I think this might have been the first time I’ve ever made a version of arroz con pollo which is surprising given that it is one of my all time favorites. Even before going vegan I was never a huge meat eater. Chicken was about it for me when it came to meat. So whenever we would go to a cuban restaurant, I always opted for arroz con pollo. My mom would often make it at home too.
In simple terms it is basically rice with chicken – but it was so much more than that. Tender moist chicken, creamy yellow rice, and sweet peas cooked together to create a comforting bowl of yumminess. Since becoming vegan I never thought about eating this again. I figured surely without the chicken and chicken stock it would be no good. No way could it have as much flavor.
But I was wrong! I poured myself a glass of sangria (amazing by the way) and sought out to try and make a vegetarian version. It proved to be just as satisfying as a meat version, maybe even more!
This is an easy one pot meal. Always good for a busy night’s cleanup And, if you prep your veggies over the weekend, this actually cooks in about 35 minutes total, making it an easy weeknight dinner.
I opted to keep this traditional and stuck with onions, red and green peppers, and sweet green peas. I don’t know what it is about the smell of onions and peppers cooking but it has got to be one of the best combos out there. You can definitely get creative with what you have on hand, adding other veggies to the mix – mushrooms and asparagus would make delicious additions.
Also, I used Vigo yellow rice which already has the saffron and some spices mixed in meaning you don’t have to worry with buying saffron separately which can be expensive and hard to find.
I’m calling it Vegan Arroz con Pollo because let’s face it, Arroz con Vegetales just doesn’t have the same ring to it Pour yourself some red wine or sangria and get to cooking! Enjoy!
Update: Sadly, I must report this is not a fully vegan dish upon discovering that Vigo rice uses chicken. You can continue with the recipe as is for a meat free dinner. If you want to ensure it is full vegan, use 2 cups long grain white rice instead of the Vigo rice and add 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads to the vegetable stock while heating up.
Vegan “Arroz con Pollo”
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s “Essentials of Latin Cooking”
Makes about 6 bowls
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 green peppers, diced
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups Vigo yellow rice (note update above)
- 1 cup frozen sweet green peas
- 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
- lime or lemon wedge (optional)
- Mix minced garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes together and set aside. Note: if you like spicy, you can add up to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper. If you like salt, go ahead and add it in. If not, wait until the end and add salt to taste.
- Heat stock in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling then reduce to simmer. (If you’d rather not wash another pan, you can definitely just add the cold stock to the rice later).
- Heat oil in a large heavy deep saute pan that allows for lots of stirring (I use my all-clad 6 quart). Add chopped onions, red and green peppers for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add in rice and stir until rice absorbs all the liquid from the veggie mixture – several minutes. Add in the vinegar garlic mix.
- Add in heated stock, mix, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cover. Let sit for about 25-30 minutes until rice absorbs all liquid. You’ll need to stir several times as the rice will begin to stick to the bottom. If it does, just aggressively scrape the bottom with a steel spoon to remove.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas and cover. I like my rice on the wet side. If you prefer your rice dry, keep the lid off here and stir until rice reaches consistency you’re looking for.
- Serve with a lime or lemon wedge and diced jalapeno if desired.
December 28, 2011 § 8 Comments
I think I’ve just had the best Christmas ever. It was definitely the best Christmas of my adult life. One reason it was so special is it was the first time that my mother-in-law spent Christmas with us. To have her here and share the holiday with us meant so much.
We played up the Christmas celebration with non-stop gatherings and food. While most Americans celebrate Christmas day as the holiday, my husband’s family celebrates Christmas Eve. For whatever reason, my family always celebrated both. Since being married, we’ve hosted Christmas Eve at our house and always do Christmas day at my parents. This Christmas Eve started with a wonderful surprise though. We got to have our good friends from Miami over for brunch. Starting Christmas off with my friends at the table, enjoying pancakes and coffee was definitely the way to kick off the celebration.
I gave my friend two options – pumpkin waffles or orange pancakes. She chose the latter so I prepared this recipe. I followed it exactly with the exception of throwing in sliced almonds instead of grinding them which added a really nice crunch. These pancakes were very cake like, and almost had a muffin texture. Everyone at the table was impressed to know they were vegan.
When all was said and done, I figured I could take a nap. But alas, I still didn’t know what I was making for dinner. I can sometimes be the ultimate procrastinator and the holidays are no exception. I didn’t make up my mind until about 2 hours prior to dinner. Sure, I’d spent countless hours picking out recipes but couldn’t actually decide until the last minute. Searching for vegan Christmas recipes was no small task, and the outlook was frankly grim. But I’m pleased to say we had a delicious feast – fit for vegans and omnivores alike!
To start I prepared these amazing butternut squash empanadas. They might have been my favorite food all night long, I’ve since enjoyed them as leftovers and they are equally delicious. Crusty pastry on the outside and a sweet and savory butternut squash filling. The thyme and caramelized onions add lots of depth and cut the sweetness. I love anything yummy inside pastry, don’t you?
The only changes I made to this recipe was almond milk instead of dairy and vegan butter instead of regular. I also was able to find empanada discs that were vegan friendly at my grocery store. Next time, I’ll definitely be doubling the recipe and putting half in the freezer to make at a later date – yum!
Along with our empanadas, we had vegan stuffed mushrooms for a starter. I have to admit the mushrooms were tricky to stuff – perhaps I should have used larger caps. Without egg or cheese its challenging to get the stuffing to stick together, but they were delicious and delicate. If I make them again, I’d brush the mushrooms with a bit of garlic infused olive oil before stuffing to give them a bit more flavor.
As for the dinner, the one certain item I knew I’d prepare was roasted potatoes at the request of my husband. We picked up a lovely variety full of vibrant colors. What to put with them was the question. In the end I decided on Smitten Kitchen’s mushroom bourguignon without pasta since we’d have the potatoes. I added roasted onions and carrots to bulk it up. Alongside, I served it with some nicely roasted asparagus.
No one, I repeat no one at the table said anything about the lack of meat. They were too busy dishing up seconds of savory mushroom bourguignon. The dish was full of dense flavors from the wine, thyme, and vegetable stock. The one problem I had with this recipe is it says to sear the mushrooms. Mine didn’t sear but rather released all their liquid immediately. I was a bit worried I’d ruined the dish but it turned out great. And what was better – with my carrots and onions already roasted, I was able to prepare this while everyone finished their appetizers. With the exception of cutting the mushrooms, I think it qualifies as a 30 minute meal. I was more than happy with the flavor given the short cooking time.
As if all this wasn’t enough, dinner was completed with the most decadent vegan cupcakes my sister brought and trembleque. I’d never made this dish before but a friend brought it to my mom’s Christmas brunch a few weeks earlier. When I learned it was vegan I was in love. It’s made with coconut milk and cornstarch and almost is like a flan but with a lighter flavor – it is simply divine.
After our never ending meal, we all relaxed and watched Christmas Vacation, a family tradition. To sit with both sides of our family laughing together was the best gift.
We all slept like babies that night, with full bellies and not a care in the world…Until the next day, when we woke up and ate even more!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday!
December 9, 2011 § 5 Comments
I’ve been on a big journey the past few years…
Once upon a time, I never thought my husband and I would be able to be together – but we figured out a way to make it happen and have been married 3+ years.
It wasn’t too long ago I was in the midst of a huge company downsizing, lost my job, and after months of searching was told if I wanted to get hired, I’d need to remove my MBA from my resume. Talk about depressing… Needless to say I never saw my career taking off the way it has – and it did so beyond my wildest dreams.
I never thought I’d be able to travel on my own, something about lonely hotel rooms and solitary dinners made me nervous – but this year was spent taking more trips than I can count, mostly alone, and I did just fine.
I never thought I’d be able to manage a dog with my job – I do, and splendidly I may add thanks to my husband. How we ever managed before her is beyond us.
I never thought I’d spend the holidays with my in-laws, no matter how hard we tried, it just never worked out – but my mother-in-law arrives this weekend and will stay through the Christmas holiday and I can’t wait!
And lastly…I never, never, never thought I’d be a VEGAN (hah!) at our Thanksgiving table. That’s possibly the biggest surprise of all.
OK, surely becoming vegan isn’t the best of this list – but for me it’s pretty remarkable considering I’ve never had any self control in my life when it came to food. If I wanted it, I ate it. So to sit and eat a fully vegan Thanksgiving meal was pretty amazing. And you know what? It wasn’t bad at all – in fact, it was pretty great.
There was no shortage of food – my mom cooked, which means we had way too much food as usual – and all that food was vegan (minus the turkey )
I feasted on Carrot and Parsnip Osso Buco (recipe info below) which I prepared after looking through my Thanksgiving vegan menu options – carrots, parsnips, pearl onions and porcini mushrooms are slowly braised in red wine, mushroom broth, and curry spices. This atop fluffy mashed potatoes was as delicious as my turkey alternative.
I enjoyed traditional sides of stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, sauteed apples, and lastly some scrumptious pumpkin garlic knots – yup all vegan! Amazing that many of our favorite foods can be made vegan just by swapping chicken stock for vegetable stock. I couldn’t even tell the difference!
It was a Thanksgiving to remember, that’s for sure. Watching my mom prepare everything with her new vegan ingredients (which she doesn’t mind using!) made me really proud – we are changing our lives one bite at a time.
Cheers to more festive dinners, compassionate eating, healthier lifestyles, and making a conscious effort to remove the word “never” from our vocabulary.
Now I need to figure out what I’m cooking for that Christmas feast!
Carrott & Parsnip Osso Bucco
If you’re interested in trying out the Carrot Osso Buco, the recipe can be found here. I added a few cloves of garlic – because honestly, how can you cook anything without garlic? And I had parsnips on hand so I decided to throw them in as well. Honestly though I enjoyed the carrots more than the parsnips. One last note on ingredients – the recipe calls for porcini mushroom powder. At $10 for a small box of dried mushrooms, I’m not sure this was even necessary. I think the curry and mushroom stock give it plenty of flavor so feel free to forgo the expensive dried fungi
After sauteeing the veggies, I decided to slowly braise them in the slow cooker to leave my stove clean which worked nicely. The resulting veggies are complex and bold. The curry and wine offers tremendous depth and flavor. And the sauce is really delicious over mashed potatoes – with or without the carrots. I had some sauce left and spooned it over my leftover mashed potatoes for the next few days – yum.
Pumpkin Garlic Knots
The pumpkin garlic knot recipe can be found here. As this blogger points out, you can’t taste the pumpkin much and I agree. However, it does give the knots a festive gold color and let’s face it – at the holidays it is fun to say they are made of pumpkin! But seriously, you simply can’t beat the buttery garlic spread – yummmmmy. It’s simply five finger lickin’ good!
Update: See the vegan mushroom bourguignon I made for Christmas.
November 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
It’s that time of year – party season is upon us. Lots of holiday parties to attend which means time with loved ones, reconnecting with old friends, and most importantly – you need to think about what you’re going to bring!
I used to think the holidays were a time to relax and slow down. Ha! That’s when I didn’t have a job! The past few years the holidays seem to come and go with a blink of the eye. There’s never enough time to do all I want to do – if I get my tree up, I’m lucky. So when it comes to entertaining or bringing food to parties – simple is best.
Enter your lifesaver – a completely store-bought vegan antipasto platter. Antipasto platters are usually loaded with meats, cheeses, and olives. I’ve kept the olives and replaced the non-vegan items with equally delicious and scrumptious alternatives. Oh, and best part, this is a no-cook appetizer. Allow yourself time to run to the store and arrange the items on a nice platter and that’s it – it seriously doesn’t get easier than this.
Your local grocery store has everything you need to put together a great vegan appetizer: some olives, crackers, dips, veggies, nuts and you are good to go. If you’ve got multiple parties to attend, consider buying your items at Costco for some serious savings!
I used my favorite antipasto platter from Crate & Barrel which comes with the little square dishes perfect for separating certain items. Adding small ramekins to the plate allowed for more separation and extra items on the plate. This also makes it easy to wrap everything up individually so it doesn’t move around in transport – ensuring your dish arrives as beautifully as it was when it left.
November 19, 2011 § 2 Comments
I love butternut squash ravioli and had been thinking about it for several weeks. One Sunday night, we were at the grocery store picking up items for the week, and with half a cooked squash in the fridge ready to roll, I thought it was as good a time as any to whip up some ravioli. I had made some sweet potato ravioli last Christmas using the wonton wrappers in the refrigerated section of the grocery story. They were pretty easy despite assembly and thought they’d be perfect for this. However, I forgot wontons have egg, so that was out. But then I thought, why not make stuffed shells? Traditionally stuffed shells are full of cheese and the like but why not stuff with sweet butternut squash?
So that’s just what I did and it really couldn’t have been easier. I took the squash I already had prepared, mashed it up, and heated it on the stove. I added a bit more salt, pepper, and nutmeg as it was heating it up just to make sure it had tons of flavor.
Meanwhile as my shells cooked in boiling salted water, I toasted the walnuts for a few minutes on the stove and set aside. Once the shells are cooked al dente, I added them to a pan with some olive oil, dried sage, pepper, and a little vegan butter to create a sauce. This takes just a few minutes and creates a little “sauce” and balances out the sweetness of the squash.
To assemble, simply remove the shells and place in a serving dish or plate. Open them and fill with the squash mixture, top with some walnuts and voila! This was so easy to make and would even serve as a fantastic appetizer for the holidays. I don’t think I’ll be messing with the hassle of ravioli again after this!
Stuffed Shells with Butternut Squash and Toasted Walnuts
Yields 12 stuffed shells
- 12 jumbo pasta shells
- Half a butternut squash, roasted
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp Earth Balance vegan butter
- 1/4 tsp dried sage
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup walnuts, toasted
- Boil shells in salted water until al dente.
- Mash up cooked squash and re-heat over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg as needed.
- Heat oil and vegan butter in pan with sage and pepper. Add cooked shells and toss.
- To assemble shells, remove from pan, stuff with squash, and top with walnuts.
October 30, 2011 § 8 Comments
See those silky golden strands of yumminess? They looks like delicate pasta noodles don’t they? But they aren’t. Dieters, have no fear – what you are looking at is spaghetti squash. I’ve heard of spaghetti squash for years but never actually tried it. I’ve seen lots of recipes for it but never noticed it in the market and never saw it out on a menu in a restaurant. Tonight while strolling through Whole Foods, there was a beautiful display of all kinds of squash and there it was – I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I grabbed the spaghetti squash, determined to figure out how to make this pasta lover’s alternate.
After a few quick google searches, I used this recipe as my starting point. Honestly the hardest part of this recipe is getting the darn squash cut in half and cleaned. With the effort it took I was a bit worried about the rest of the night – but alas, it was all easy as pie from there.
Before going in the oven, they were drizzled with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. This had me pause for a moment. I knew the nutmeg is a go-to for squash but I was making a garlic base sauce for this, would nutmeg work? We would soon find out…
I roasted them for 30 minutes. In my haste of reading how to cook these babies, I mis-read and only cooked them 30 minutes despite the referenced recipe saying to do just 30 minutes they had to go in the microwave first. Oops. Honestly though, the resulting dish had just the slightest crunch that I really enjoyed. Next time I may cook them longer but I actually really liked the way it came out.
I sauteed some sliced garlic in olive oil over low heat. To this, I added one sliced shallot to give a mild onion flavor. I don’t cook much with sun-dried tomatoes but just opening the can made me question this. The smell just transports you to a sweet, sunny, tuscan day. A few spoonfulls of chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a splash of the juice went into the pan. Lastly, two handfulls of spinach went in. A little salt and pepper to season, some red pepper flakes for some heat, and the pan was set to low while the spinach wilted.
Now to get the squash out of their shell. I looked at the squash and just started scraping – it seemed to work. Scrape, scrape, scrape and little strands appeared. Once completely scraped out, the “spaghetti” was added to the pan. The last touch was a tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan buttery spread to add some creaminess (also, my first time actually using this product) and the dish was topped with some fresh basil and the toasted pine nuts.
Not only does this dish come across as elegant and gourmet, it is delicious and complex. The squash while delicate, had a slight crunch to it. The brightness of the sun-dried tomatoes and basil contrast the warm pine nuts and rich garlic nicely. The spinach adds even more healthy goodness to the dish. Oh, and that nutmeg? Yeah, it rocked. That little kick of warmth made me want to curl up and start listening to Christmas music tonight. Yes, I realize it’s still October.
All in all, this was an awesome dish. I’ll definitely be picking up the spaghetti squash next time I see it in the market. I’m looking forward to trying all sorts of pasta recipes out on this carb alternative.
Tip: I saved the squash seeds and toasted them as a little experiment. I read they were edible and figured I might as well give it a try before tossing them. The finished seed is deliciously nutty and slightly chewy. I’ll be enjoying them on a salad this week.
If you like the idea of pasta made out of vegetables, check out this yummy recipe for garlicky zucchini noodles with tomatoes and chickpeas.
Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Spinach
Serves 3-4 bowls
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and cleaned of seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
2-3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, sliced (plus juice)
2 cups spinach
1 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
5-6 basil leaves, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half. Clean inside until all seeds and strands are removed. Rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bake for 30-40 minutes until done.
- Toast pine nuts in large pan over low-medium heat about 10 minutes until golden, set aside.
- Saute sliced garlic and shallot in two tablespoons olive oil over low-medium heat. Once fragrant and garlic is soft, add sun-dried tomatoes and juice and heat tomatoes through, about a minute or two.
- Reduce heat to low, add spinach, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook until wilted.
- Once squash is cooled, scrape down the center and around the sides to release the “spaghetti” strands. Mix in with spinach and tomato mixture. Fold in vegan buttery spread until melted. Top with pine nuts and basil.
August 23, 2011 § 6 Comments
I have never been one for tomatoes – you’d never find me snacking on them or making them the star of any meal. In fact, those individuals that could eat a tomato like an apple always perplexed me – why on earth would they do that? Even cooked tomatoes are sometimes too acidic for my liking – but all this changed within the last two months and I’m a new tomato fanatic. Me, tomato lover, can’t get enough of them…If my mother is reading this right now, she’s shocked.
There are two parts to my new-found tomato fanaticism. One: being vegan has definitely changed my tastes. Usually I’d crave an oozing piece of cheese pizza or a bowl of creamy pasta but not anymore. Maybe its summer but I think its more likely due to my changing diet. Eating more fruits and veggies has in turn made me want – well, more fruits and veggies.
The second reason for my new tomato cravings: I’ve finally tasted what a tomato should taste like. I’m not talking about those lifeless mealy barely red things you find at the grocery store. I’m talking about firm, juicy, bursting with fruity goodness, barely needs any seasonings, freshly picked from the garden tomatoes. I was recently treated to some tomatoes of this very nature and have been dying to get my teeth into some tomatoes similar to what I experienced, causing me to order anything that looks remotely close when I’m out and about.
No pizza or pasta for me, I’ll take the fresh tomato salad please!
Due to my recent tomato cravings I’ve ordered gazpacho at every restaurant I’ve been to that has it on the menu. My favorite was a charred green tomato gazpacho that I enjoyed at Park Grille in Chicago. As I sat and looked over the menu, the waiter greeted me and informed me this gazpacho was vegan if ordered without the crab – I didn’t even tell him I was vegan! Was quite a change from my Seattle trip. Ah, Chicago, how do I love thee. The soup was delicious – refreshing with a hint of smokiness due to grilling the tomatoes and let’s face it, the view didn’t hurt either.
I drug Luis to the farmers market this weekend with one thing in mind: yup, you guessed it, tomatoes. But not just any tomatoes, I really had my heart set on heirloom tomatoes, the more colors the better. While I didn’t find any at the farmers market, I found some standard tomatoes that the gentleman assured me would be sweeter and have more flavor than those in the supermarket. On the way home we stopped in Whole Foods for some necessities and I couldn’t resist the heirloom tomatoes sitting like royalty on stands. I can be a bit cheap at times, but let me tell you, I shelled out about $7 for these beauties. I got a large heirloom with a deep purplish green and red color combo and a small carton of tiny round and pear orange, yellow, and purplish tomatoes. They looked like a rainbow in a carton.
This pasta was a take on a pasta I saw here and have been thinking about for several weeks. I loved the idea of a fresh pasta that required little to no cooking in the summer’s heat.
Given how beautifully fresh these tomatoes were, I didn’t even see the need to marinate them but I began about 30 minutes before Luis got home so they did sit a bit.
All I did was slice, toss with some nice fruity Spanish olive oil I use for special dishes like this, and add a splash of balsamic for a little kick. A little salt and pepper for seasoning, and at the last minute I added one clove of minced garlic. Honestly though, I’m not sure the dish really needed it – you could easily do without it. Sliced basil tops it off and keeps the dish light and earthy.
At first I was worried the whole wheat pasta would be overwhelming for this dish but it was all I had on hand – and it turned out to be really good. I made sure to cook it al dente to provide texture against the soft tomatoes. Boil the pasta and allow to cool before mixing with the tomatoes. This dish is delicious cool and at room temperature – providing juicy freshness on a hot summer day.
Heirloom Tomato Summer Pasta
1 large heirloom tomato
1 carton small heirloom tomatoes
2 – 3 tablespoons fruity, good quality olive oil
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sliced fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package of pasta of your choice
- Bring water to a boil for pasta and cook according to package directions.
- Slice large tomato into several segments and smaller tomatoes in half.
- Toss in large bowl with several tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to generously coat tomatoes.
- Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, sliced basil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss and set aside.
- Once pasta is finished drain well and set aside to cool. Once cooled, serve with tomato mixture over top.
July 12, 2011 § 5 Comments
I’ve been on a recent kick of eating raw corn. That’s right – uncooked corn. Sounds kind of strange, doesn’t it. I’m an avid corn lover. Anything with corn and I’m game. Mmmmm…I’d like some creamy corn chowder right about now – yummy! Might have to find a vegan version. (Update: check out the vegan corn chowder recipe I came up with.)
So with my love for corn it’s amazing that I’ve never even thought to try it raw. But it’s so easy to cut off the cob and is surprisingly sweet and of course crisp. Now, while I love my corn, I don’t love black beans. But I’m trying to like them more with this vegan challenge. I’ve added them to my veggie bowl at Chipotle and have learned one scoop is good – two scoops, too black beany. I can enjoy a sprinkling of beans throughout my food but not a whole bundle.
I put together this salad recently for lunch and enjoyed it with some whole grain tortilla chips. Smokey cumin, sweet corn, crisp cucumbers, spicy jalapeno – everything in here works so nicely together. You could serve it as a salad or a salsa. If serving with tortilla chips just watch how much salt you add as the chip will add a lot of salt. I’ve also been adding crunched up pita chips in my salads recently which is really good and would be great here.
To make just chop up whatever veggies you’d like to include. I added red bell pepper, cucumber, scallions, and jalapeno. Red onion would work nicely in place of scallions. I didn’t have tomatoes on hand but they’d also be great here. For the vinaigrette mix olive oil, lime juice, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss and enjoy! As with many salads like this – it’s even better the next day.
Fiesta Corn Salad with Cumin Lime Dressing
- 4 ears corn
- 1 cup black beans
- 1/2 red bell pepper
- 1/2 cucumber
- 4 scallions
- 1 jalapeno
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lime
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- tortilla chips or pita chips to serve if desired
- Rinse beans and set aside. Clean and cut corn from cob. Dice veggies.
- Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Toss in a bowl with beans, corn, and remaining veggies.