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Russian Cucumber and Tomato salad

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Russian cuisine tends to be pretty heavy. This heartiness is awesome on those cold Siberian winter days and nights, but less so when it’s 8 degrees hotter than average in the late Seattle summer.

Even their salads are pretty heavy.

Stereotyping here, but Russians love salads. Much like the salads of the American Midwest, these are often non-lettuce-based, starchy, and smothered in mayo and sour cream, because Russians are really into mayo and sour cream, which makes them pretty tasty (if not particularly figure friendly).

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One of my favorites is a combination of cucumber, tomato, and onions in a mayo and sour cream dressing. It’s a little lighter than some other salads, and a great way to use late summer produce.

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Also, if you’re in Seattle and want to speak out against Russia’s treatment of LGBT individuals, protest today at the consulate!

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Adapted from Natasha’s Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 small cucumber, skinned and sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 TBS vegan sour cream
  • 1 TBS vegan mayo (reduced fat vegennaise FTW!!)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried dill
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine vegetables in a medium bowl.
  2. combine all other ingredients in a small bowl and add to vegetables. Stir to combine and adjust seasoning to taste.

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Katy’s salad

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My friend Katy is always cooking awesome vegan food but refuses to write a guest post (even though I’ve asked her to, like, a million times). Something about “I don’t blog.”

So, I wrote one for her.

Hello there. My name is Katy. I’m from Seattle, analyze data, play the violin, have three parrots and a tortoise, and am allergic to basically everything except for air and homebrewed cider. I don’t often buy paper products, but when I do, I buy 10 trees’ worth. Sometimes, I cover Justin Timberlake on the ukulele and make late-night gluten-free pizza.

Anyhow, I’m not vegan but cook without meat, eggs or dairy often (did i mention that I’m allergic to a lot of stuff?) and face similar challenges when eating out in places that aren’t as dietary restriction-friendly as Seattle.

When I traveled to the Tri-Cities recently with a group of friends, I planned ahead and packed all of my meals with me in a cooler. Helen lived on potato products for two days like an idiot because all she brought were Trader Joe’s cookies.

As I was standing in the parking lot of the Uptown shopping center (#stripmallcrawl) before heading back to Seattle, eating a delicious salad after the rest of the group (except Helen) ate breakfast sandwiches, Helen commented forlornly on how delicious it looked, so I gave her a bite.

The original recipe is on Oh She Glows. I got rid of the garlic (because of I’m allergic) and added kale (because kale is awesome). Helen got rid of the raisins (because raisins are icky) and added cherry tomatoes (because cherry tomatoes are awesome. Helen’s note: Katy might actually be allergic to tomatoes). Between the two of us, we’ve created possibly the greatest salad on the face of the planet.

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Katy’s allergy-friendly protein salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (yellow if your tomatoes are red; red if your tomatoes are yellow — it just makes it prettier)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup almonds, chopped (omit if allergic or a nut-hater)
  • 4 cups kale, stems removed, torn into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (basically the juice of two lemons)
  • 2 TBS olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp each cayenne, cumin, salt, and black pepper (or to taste)

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa in 1 cup water until done (i.e., follow the directions on the package or use a rice cooker).
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly coated in oil and lemon juice. Let stand in refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow flavors to marinate.

Marinated kale salad

I dined at Thrive for the first time last week.

Thrive a seat-yourself establishment, and the afternoon was wonderfully busy enough that there was a wait. I love seeing vegan restaurants, umm… thriving, but my blood sugar was pretty low and my mood depended on getting some food into my system.

I nabbed a spot at a large communal table after standing around about 20 minutes, and when a couple of other women joined me and talked with each other about nothing but the mundane details of their upcoming weddings, I resigned myself to a miserable meal.

I wasn’t digging the whole Thrive experience until my marinated kale salad and chai arrived.

My tastebuds overwhelmed all other senses until I could no longer hear the banal ramblings of DJs and bridesmaids dresses, and my annoyance at lack of personal space vaporized as a sank my teeth into crunchy kale balanced with a creamy spiced zucchini hummus, walnuts, ocean-fresh nori, and smoky coconut bacon, washed down with just-right sweet almond milk tea. The contrast between the kale and kale chips was natural yet brilliant — the variety of vegan dining.

The meal had “replicate me” spelled all over it.

I’ll be returning to Thrive later this month with a group of vegan ladies, and I can’t wait to try more. Until then, I’ll eat this mostly raw take on their marinated kale salad. It’s requires a spiral slicer, a mandoline slicer, a blender, a bit of oven time, and some chopping, but is worth the effort.

Marinated kale salad

serves 2 for a meal, or 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 batch dinosaur kale, stems removed and ripped into small pieces
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • red sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cucumber, julienned thinly and cut into half moons
  • 1 carrot, spiral sliced and cut into short, thin strips
  • Zucchini hummus: blend 1 small zucchini, 1 tbs tahini, a very small garlic clove, juice of 1/2 lemon, and a handful of cilantro
  • ≈2 TBS  Vegan Good Things’ coconut bacon or more to taste (I make it in much smaller portions: 1/2 cup thinly shredded unsweetened coconut, 1 tsp liquid smoke, 2 tsp tamari, 1 tsp maple syrup, 1 tsp water; bake it at 300 for 15 minutes, and there will be plenty left over for BLTs)
  • ≈2 TBS walnuts or more to taste
  • 1 cup seasoned kale chips (like House of the Sun’s Kale-Collard-Zucchini Chips) or to taste
  • 1/2 sheet nori, ripped into small pieces

Instructions

  1. Place kale, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt in a large bowl; mix well and let sit at least 10 minutes.
  2. Add cucumber, carrot, and zucchini hummus and mix well.
  3. Plate salad and top with coconut bacon, walnuts, nori and kale chips.

Creamy raw beet and walnut salad

The woman I lived with during my junior year abroad in Russia was many things: large, gruff, tough, grandmotherly, not particularly fond of Americans or wearing pants around the apartment, professional (she still worked as a gynecologist), and all around pretty terrifying. She had an awesomely foul mouth, and even my fellow American students’ Russian host moms were afraid of her.

I’m pretty sure she saw me as the human equivalent of a houseplant: feed it, talk to it a bit, generally leave it alone.

However, she was a great cook. Many Americans claim to not like Russian food, but I think they’d change their minds if they ate hers.

While grating beets for this Russian-inspired raw vegan salad, I was nervous that my favorite jeans would soon be covered in flecks of red, so I took them off.

Immediately, I flashed back to sitting on a stool in Marina Stepanovna’s small, cozy kitchen, watching her stand by the stove in her undies and a t-shirt, swearing loudly as she nearly burned my dinner (though she never did — again, great cook).

There’s nothing to burn in this dish, but careful while you’re grating the beets. You’ll definitely curse if you shred a finger.

Creamy raw beet salad with walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 large beet, grated
  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight and drained
  • 3 small garlic cloves
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup walnuts
  • sea salt, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Place cashews in a VitaMix with enough water to almost cover them. Add lemon juice and garlic, and combine until well-blended.
  2. Place grated beets, walnuts and salt in a bowl; stir in cashew cream.

Serve chilled, with black tea and intimidation.

Minted Farro, Zucchini and Fava salad

This is a take on the Fava Bean and Asparagus Salad With Mint that “vegan before 6″ Mark Bittman includes in How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Farro, also called emmer, is a chewy, nutty grain that has become very popular in recent years (so I probably don’t need to tell you any more about it).

Fava beans, though permanently creepy after their cameo in Silence of the Lambs, are a delicious (though somewhat time-consuming to prepare) legume– shucking them makes for a nice activity to perform on one’s deck on a warm summer afternoon while sipping a cool adult beverage with a fluffy grey cat at your feet.

All of the produce, save for the lemon, is in season in Seattle and readily available at the local farmer’s market or food coop.

Enjoy with a tasty adult beverage like … wait for it … a nice Chianti.

Ingredients

  • ≈3-4 lbs Fava beans (about 1 1/2 cup shelled and skinned)*
  • 1 cup dry farro
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 lemon
  • olive oil, to taste
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 sprigs mint, leaves removed and chopped

Method

  1. Shell fava beans. Blanch beans in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then remove and discard outer skin.
  2. Boil farro in 5 cups water for 50-60 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add sliced zucchini and fava beans. Drain.
  3. Place drained farro, favas and zucchini in a large bowl. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix.
  4. Serve warm or chilled.

*This is an estimate. Fava beans can be pricey (I think mine were $3/lb), but they are also incredibly delicious, so use more or less as you see fit. Farro and zucchini are also tasty, so they’ll balance it all out if you elect to go with fewer favas.

Cactus salad + enchiladas

David loves Mexican food, probably more than he loves the fact that he is nearly done with college after deciding to complete up his degree nearly 4 years ago.

He is so close to finishing it all up that he participated in UW graduation exercises last week and this past Saturday (though will take summer school).

After the interminable Husky Stadium ceremony (and by the way, Kathleen Sebelius, WE are the “real Washington”), his parents took us out to dinner at Galerias, a schwanky Mexican restaurant on Capitol Hill. I like to say that it serves what upscale folks in Mexico City would eat on a night out, but I really have no basis for that statement, having never been to Mexico nor its eponymous City.

Galerias is simply nice Mexican food served in a colorful, elegant, light-filled space. Plus, the kitchen includes slices of baguette in their chip basket, which makes it seem über-fancy. You should eat there.

Galerias’ vegan selection is also pretty solid. Not extensive, but solid. I ordered vegetable enchiladas, which were filled with a mix of tasty veggies, the only variety I could really distinguish being carrots.

However, the highlight was a little side salad made from cactus (¡nopales!), kidney beans, sliced radish, red onion and cilantro, and I determined that I would replicate it later that weekend.

Which I did.

I also threw together some enchiladas from veggies I bought (mostly) at the farmer’s market: roasted baby carrots and potato, sauteed mushrooms, and collard greens (the collards were a bit bitter, so next time I’d use kale or chard or something), wrapped in corn tortillas, smothered in homemade (but simple) sauce and cheddar Daiya.

Recipes below, if you want to try them.

Enchiladas

Easy Enchilada Sauce (adapted from a recipe at Food.com):

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  1. The directions say to add the dry ingredients into a bowl, pour in about 1/2 cup of water, and mix to form a fine paste, then transfer to a sauce pan and add the remaining water and tomato sauce. I sort of mixed it all together, and it was a little lumpy at first and then all smoothed out.
  2. Simmer until sauce thickens — about 10 minutes.

Filling (you really could use anything you like):

  • one bunch collard or other type of greens, stem removed and chopped
  • small handful chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 lb or so sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 bunch baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 small yellow potato, diced finely
  1. Place potatoes and carrots on a pan sprayed with olive oil and spray them with olive oil. Sprinkle some salt over them and roast at 400 degrees or so until done, about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Saute the mushrooms and onions in a little olive oil and set aside.
  3. Saute the chopped greens and chopped cilantro until greens are wilted.

Other stuff:

  • 6-8 corn tortillas
  • Daiya Cheddar (1/3 bag?)
  1. Microwave 6-8 corn tortillas covered with a damp paper towel for 30 seconds to soften them.
  2. Add a bit of sauce to an 8 x 8″ glass plate.
  3. Dunk a tortilla in sauce, and fill with filling. You could include cheese at this point, but I didn’t. Wrap up and place in pan. Repeat until pan is full.
  4. Cover tortillas with the rest of the sauce, and cover in Daiya to your preferred level of cheesiness. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce bubbles.

Cactus Salad

  • 1 jar cactus
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 bunch radishes, sliced thinly
  • a handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • a few dashes lime juice. Real lime juice, not that fake plastic bottle stuff.
  • a few dashes tabasco sauce
  1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Yup. Easy.

If you make both recipes according to my very loose directions, you will have both half an onion and some fresh cilantro left over. I made a nice salsa out of 1/2 the leftover onion (e.g., 1/4 of an onion), diced, and some of the cilantro, chopped, added to a can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes with some cayenne pepper and lime juice. Excellent with Daiyachos.

Farro, kale, beet and apple salad with pepitas

I work in Pioneer Square, home of art galleries, rabid Sounders fans, a variety of interesting, ummm,  street personalities, and the one and only Elliott Bay Cafe.*

EBC consistently comes through with tasty vegan options. I went in the other day looking for coffee and a Mighty-O donut and instead left with a fantastic slice of blackberry pie. Their soup is often vegan, and they offer several vegan lunch and baked good options, such as the aforementioned donuts.

I met a friend at the cafe for lunch the other day and ordered their Almost Raw salad: “raw and cooked seasonal vegetables sliced thin, Blue Bird farro, winter greens, tossed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon vinaigrette, garnished with pepitos.” It was amazing.

Unfortunately, I can’t afford to spend $10 on lunch every day. Here’s my budget-friendly tribute to Tamara Murphy’s delicious creation.

*yeah, I know there are two of them now

Warm wannabe Almost Raw salad
serves 2-4

  • 1/2 cup dried farro
  • 1 bunch dinosaur kale, chopped
  • 2 small golden beets, peeled and halved
  • 1/2 apple, chopped
  • 1 tbs olive oil, plus more for roasting beets
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste
  • dash garlic powder
  • roasted pumpkin seeds
  1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil; add farro and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 50 minutes.
  2. While farro is boiling, coat beets in olive oil and roast for 30-40 minutes in a 375 degree oven; slice into thin slices.
  3. Blanch kale a few minutes before farro is done.
  4. Drain farro and kale; add to a medium/large bowl with all other ingredients. Combine and serve warm or cold.
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