Roasted Carrot & White Bean Hummus

Roasted Carrot & White Bean Hummus | Delectably Free

One of the benefits of living in Metro Detroit is the amazing Middle Eastern cuisine. Dearborn, Michigan is home to a large Middle Eastern population, and thus, an amazing selection of Middle Eastern restaurants. It’s no wonder that when Anthony Bourdain visited Detroit to film No Reservations, Al-Ameer restaurant in Dearborn (one of my family’s favorites) was featured in his segment. The food is good. The hummus? Incomparable. Actually, it is comparable – but only if you’re comparing it to any of the other great Middle Eastern restaurants in the area. Otherwise, good luck finding anything to live up to it.

For this reason, I’ve been highly reluctant to post any of my homemade hummus recipes on Delectably Free. Sure, I make homemade hummus from time to time. It’s good. Not always great. But it works in a pinch when I need something to dip my gluten-free crackers in or to dollop on salads. But for the most part, I tend to not make hummus, because I know I can venture not too far from my neighborhood to find the best hummus you can get outside of the Middle East. I lived in New York City for 4 years, and even there, I never had hummus so good. It’s probably an understatement to say that when it comes to hummus, I have high standards and am a bit spoiled.

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Ultimate Vegan Nachos

ultimate vegan nachosMy first foray into Super Bowl entertainment was in 2007. I remember it because I was a senior in college and decided that I wanted to be the designated caterer for our house’s Super Bowl party. Apparently, though, I didn’t get the memo about Super Bowl parties typically being centered around beer and wings and low-key fare. Instead, the menu ended up being something like paninis and pasta and other comparatively fancy options — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by my housemates, who commented about whether or not we should be serving wine instead of beer (Liz, if you’re reading this, I think it was you who asked that).

Well, I haven’t catered a Super Bowl party since then — and mostly because things like law school and full-time work have gotten in the way of any sort of Sunday night social life. But that’s not to say I haven’t thought a lot since about what, exactly, I would serve if I were to explore the world of Super Bowl entertaining once again.

The answer, every time, has decidedly been nachos. I love nachos. And I can say that because even though I’m now vegan and gluten-free, nachos are still so doable. After all, there are a plethora of vegan cheese products now on the market, and pure corn tortilla chips, by definition, are gluten-free (though you still have to read labels because, as we all know, hiding gluten in seemingly gluten-free products seems to be a popular food industry pastime).

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Chickpea-Collard Wraps

In my view, the world can be divided up into 3 kinds of people: those who love tuna salad, those who hate it, and those who used to love it before going vegan. I am in that last category — the kind of tuna salad lover who enjoyed it hot, cold, in casseroles and all of the other gross-sounding yet nostalgic concoctions one could imagine. Tuna melts made me swoon with pleasure, while I could have eaten cold tuna salad over crackers, salad, bread — you name it!*

* Incidentally, I have a theory that there is a direct correlation between tuna lovers and mayo lovers, as I happened to love mayo as well (and still consider Vegenaise a staple in my diet). My dad, on the other hand, always found both of these food items gag-worthy — and I can say with all of the confidence in the world that the thing he misses the LEAST since going vegan is ever having to worry about someone trying to serve him tuna salad with mayo ever again.

Anyways, not only does the whole idea of tuna salad not comport in any way ethically with my diet now, but it’s pretty nasty when one thinks about the health implications of what I was eating. Mercury is the first, and obvious, health pitfall to come to mind. But even when one thinks about the canning process and amount of other toxins in fish in general, tuna was probably the least healthy choice when it came to creatures of the sea. Then there was the white bread it was usually served with, and the gobs of cheese if that tuna was made into a melt. Ick!

packaged collard wraps

This refreshing salad-collard combo was designed to satisfy my nostalgia for tuna salads while not making me feel too full or giving me that “ick” factor that comes with eating fatty and unhealthy meals, however satisfying they may be in the moment. This one is satisfying, yet will allow you to go on with your day without needing a post-meal digestion nap (i.e. food coma). It is a great lunch idea, as these can easily be wrapped in cling wrap or foil or packed in tupperware, as they hold together nicely and do not risk getting soggy like bread or a normal wrap would. In fact, collard wraps of a various nature are my go-to lunch source (I also love collard hummus wraps with veggies).

While this chickpea salad is not exactly like tuna, that’s the point! It’s supposed to taste fresh and healthy, while still satisfying those lingering cravings for all you former tuna salad lovers out there who have either given up animal products, or those of you who are trying something much more healthy, low-carb or lighter in general. I love that collards are one of nature’s foods that are “accidentally” gluten-free. So often we’re spending time or money trying to make or buy gluten-free foods with all sorts of ingredients, while collards are so easy and simple. It’s easy to forget about them!

Note: for a more burrito-like wrap, add more filling and fold one side first, then fold the leafy end in, and roll. There’s really no wrong way to roll a collard. OK, maybe there is. But depending on the amount of filling I’m using, and the size and texture of my collards, I go between a more “flat” wrap, a burrito wrap, or more of an open-faced lettuce wrap type concoction. You can also add additions like as sprouts, spinach, avocado other other veggies of choice.

rolled wraps

Burrito-style wrap with more dulse added to taste. Tomato omitted.

Chickpea-Collard Wraps:

A few notes: I am not sure how many this would typically serve, as it probably depends on how much filling you use and what else you’re eating with these. Using large collards, the filling, divided among 4 wraps, makes wraps the size of the top picture. Also, I designed this recipe to be light on the salt content, as the dulse, scallion and aminos add a salty flavor without tons of sodium. However, if you wish to add more salt, adjust to taste. You can also easily add more dulse to taste, as I did in the last picture. 

4 collard greens, thick stems on end removed

sliced tomato


1 15-oz. can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed

3 tablespoons reduced-fat Vegenaise (or soy-free Vegenaise to make this soy-free)

1 teaspoon Bragg’s Liquid Amino’s

1 teaspoon dulse flakes (found in sea vegetable section of most health food stores)

2 scallions, finely chopped

1/4 cup pickle, drained and minced (I always use Bubbie’s brand, which is raw fermented)

sea salt to taste (optional)


1. Divide filling among 4 collard wraps and spread around the rib of the collard. Place 3 tomato slices over filling of each wrap.

2. Fold leaves of collard over the rib, and then fold over leafy end, leaving other end open. Place fold down on plate to serve.


Adzuki-Millet Cakes

Like many great things in life, this recipe happened by accident. Well, at least the final product was an accident, as I had originally intended these to be a homemade answer to my Hilary’s Adzuki Bean Burger obsession (am I alone here?). While I wanted to mimic the original burger as much as possible, I also wanted to make this recipe easy and accessible. So, I decided to use only one of the two grains used in the Hilary’s burger. I decided on millet for its consistency when cooked. I also did not want to create anything that necessitated the use of a food processor — a great culinary tool, in my opinion, but one that can also incur unnecessary cleanup in many instances.

These tweaks probably led to a somewhat “looser” consistency than the original burger, one that was reminiscent of a savory cake rather than a burger. Not that I complained. As I shoved down two of these babies, I started wondering why I was ever looking for a veggie burger recipe in the first place, when there was a perfectly delicious version available in the frozen section of my local Whole Foods (ok, there were several reason I was doing so — money, trying to avoid processed foods, trying to cut down on the fat content of the original recipe — but those were soon forgotten). I also remembered that I had unsuccessfully gone through a string of attempts at a homemade bean cake recipe a while back. It seems I found the answer to whatever was plaguing my previous bean cake attempts — even if I had ended up forgetting the question.

I’m filing these cakes under “appetizer”, “side” or “main course” recipes, as I can see them as all three. Slightly cooled, they could top a dinner salad. Still warm, I imagine them over a heaping bed of steamed or sauteed greens — maybe kale or spinach — and  maybe drizzled with some oil and vinegar. I also served them to Gennaro inside of a warm pita with greens, chipotle Vegenaise spread and hot sauce (unfortunately, the pita was not gluten-free, or I certainly would have tried this version). And while we’re labeling these, I have to admit they also make a great snack. I like them cold, right out of the refrigerator, for a protein-packed and healthy, non-processed snack.

Adzuki-Millet Cakes:

Please note: You will likely have remaining millet left over. You can use it in salads or try it anywhere else you would use quinoa or — if you eat it — couscous. I also give it to my dog, Woodley, for a fun change-up to his usual nighttime snack, which was vet-recommended for gastrointestinal issues he was having — see, he is like his mom!

Yield: 6-8 cakes


3/4 cup uncooked dry millet

1 1/2 cups well cooked adzuki beans (I used my pressure cooker to cook 1 cup dried beans according to the instructions found here. I had some leftover, which I ate over some cooked quinoa with spinach. Canned adzuki beans, drained, would also work)

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for cooking cakes

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

1 scallion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander


1. Add millet to a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cook on medium heat until the water is just absorbed (watch carefully after about 10 minutes of boiling to see where it’s at). You can try stirring it to check on water content/consistency before removing from heat — the final consistency should be somewhat lumpy and not as “fork-fluffable” as quinoa is when cooked. You want this consistency for the cakes.

2. As millet cooks, heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a separate skillet. Add red pepper and scallion and cook over medium heat for about 4 minutes.  Add minced garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside.

3. Once millet has cooked (i.e. once the water is absorbed), add 1 1/2 cups of the warm millet, adzuki beans, chia, spices, salt and water together in a medium mixing bowl. Mix well, while mashing everything together with the back of your spoon. Add red peppers, scallion and garlic and mix well.

4. You can use the same saute pan as used for the red peppers (no need to wash). Heat additional teaspoon of coconut oil (if needed) in the pan. Meanwhile, measure out 1/3 cup amounts of adzuki-millet mixture and roll in the palm of your hands before pressing into patties. Add patties to hot saute pan and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes per side, or until crispy and lightly browned on the outside. Repeat this step to cook the remaining patties.


Hot Spinach Dip

What a funny world we live in. One month, we’re showered with every type of diet and detox recipe imaginable (including here on Delectably Free), the next month we’re teased and lured by Super Bowl party recipes for nachos and junk food, only to face the sweets and chocolate onslaught that is Valentine’s Day. No wonder we’re so schizophrenic about our food habits sometimes.

Then again, I am far from immune to the temptation to shift gears toward the end of January. Maybe it’s the inner party planner in me — I’m the girl who plans fictitious dinner parties I know I’m never going to have (I still am contemplating a recipe round-up post for all my favorite dinner party ideas, for those who are actually motivated to execute on that front). As you can see, I went decidedly re-tox for this dish. No more detox fare here. Processed “cheese”? Check. A hefty dose of (albeit healthy) fat? Check. Something that requires some sort of chip for dipping? Check.

Yes, folks, I’ve gone “bad” for this recipe. But what’s a Super Bowl party without some junk food thrown into the mix? I don’t care if this is a vegan dish packed with 4 cups of fresh spinach. This dip tastes baaad in such a good way; I doubt anyone will find this to be health fare.

On that note, if you’re serving a crowd, I’d suggest a double/triple batch. Between the two of us, my mom and I finished this off in just two sittings (not exactly something I want to brag about here, just stating the facts).

Serves: 4-6

Hot Spinach Dip:

1 cup chopped scallions (about 1 bunch)

4 cups tightly-packed fresh spinach, chopped*

1/2 cup Grapeseed Oil Vegenaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/2 cup Daiya vegan mozzarella, plus more for topping

1/8 teaspoon sea salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. Mix all ingredients, except remaining cheese for topping, in a large bowl until combined. Turn out into a shallow baking dish or ramekin and smooth out top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve immediately with favorite gluten-free chip.

* For a healthier twist, use 1/2 spinach and 1/2 finely chopped kale


Zucchini Potato Latkes

So, I don’t know what inspired me to make latkes, of all things, with the 18 million pounds of potatoes I’ve stocked up in my quest to recreate all of my favorite (and, oh, there were many) potato dishes in Spain. Latkes were certainly not on that list. Nor do I have any particular story to tell about these. No family recipe; no special memories from my childhood. In fact, I don’t even recall seeing a recipe for potato pancakes — or latkes — anywhere else recently to spark an interest in making them myself, as is usually the case when I decide to make something I’ve had little experience with pre-food allergies (and why would I see one anyways? It’s not even latke season, is it?).

All that said, I was somehow determined to master this recipe. I was so determined that I made four versions of these in about 5 days. And believe it or not, I’m still not close to halfway through my potato supply. I finally settled on a version I was happy with this afternoon, and cooked up some fresh-from-the-market apples for the accompanying sauce. Gennaro and I snacked on them before watching the ulcer-inducing 28-24 Michigan-Notre Dame game, where our beloved Wolverines managed to pull off the win. The perfect fall Saturday: potato pancakes with applesauce and Michigan football. Perhaps I’ll have to start my own potato pancake tradition. If only it would always include a victory.

Zucchini Potato Latkes:

Makes about 12 pancakes

1 1/2 cups peeled, shredded russet potatoes (I shredded mine with a box grater), tightly packed

1 cup shredded zucchini (tightly packed)

1 teaspoon sea salt, divided

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour

1 tablespoon Ener-G Egg Replacer

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon oil (I used grapeseed), plus more for frying


1. Place shredded zucchini and potatoes in a collander or strainer with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Squeeze out excess liquid and let sit for about 10 minutes. Sqeeze again and set aside.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, water, egg replacer, 1 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Add vegetables and onion and mix until everything is combined. Set aside.

3. Heat a cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of oil. Drop batter by 1/4 cup and flatten with the back of measuring cup or a spoon. Drop batter for about 3-4 pancakes at a time. Fry on medium-high heat for about 1-2 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, reducing heat to medium. Remove to a plate and continue with remaining batter, using a tablespoon of cooking oil for each batch. To reheat latkes, or if you have a batch that didn’t cook all the way through, heat pancakes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes, or until crispy and heated through.


Blistered Shishito Peppers

My return to New York seems to have been plagued by a rough patch in the recipe department. While the gazpacho was a surprise first-time success and the grilled plums an easy, satisfying treat, the rest of our meals have been marked by a litany of culinary mistakes. Not mistakes of the “not-what-I-intended-but-maybe-even-better” kind, but rather the “not-bad-enough-to-throw-out-but-not-exactly-enjoyable-to-eat-either” kind of mistakes. An attempted chickpea and potato fritter (another favorite Spain meal knock-off) turned into a sticky, seemingly unfryable (is that a word?) paste. It was salvaged after I topped it with some okra and the smoky paprika sauce I had intended for the fritters. Last night’s meal was meant to be poblanos stuffed with cornbread batter and baked into a somewhat tamale-meets-chiles-rellenos type deal. This eventually — and perhaps inevitably — turned into a hash (more often than not, I rename my mistakes to “hash” during the attempted salvaging stage, which usually involves some deconstruction and a little sauteeing) after I realized, an hour into baking, that the batter inside was still entirely uncooked. There were several other “oops” moments in there as well, but I’ll spare you all the gory details.

I guess we’ve all had our bad weeks. When mine hit, I usually seek out simplicity. Working in the kitchen can be an extremely calming, even therapeutic, experience. Yet sometimes, it’s easy to forget that. Between the multi-floured baked goods and the endless substitution brainstorming, the simple, naturally gluten-free meals can get lost in the shuffle. And often, they’re the best ones.

These shishito peppers take simple to the extreme. Gennaro and I actually enjoyed a quite simiar dish at one of the highly-acclaimed, celebrity-endorsed tapas restuarants we went to in Spain. Just a plate of peppers, slightly charred on the outside and wilted to a perfect texture, then sprinkled with salt. Between the labor-intensive patatas bravas and the multi-ingredient salad topped with fish roe (I know, one of my aforementioned fish transgressions), the peppers dish was one of our favorites. Back in New York, just a few days later, I noticed these beautiful, bright green shishito peppers were abundant at one stand at the Greenmarket. The girl behind the counter was cooking some up herself. I immediately brought a bag home and did the same. They were the perfect snack. And they were perfect on the first try. With all of three ingredients. Go figure.

Shishito Peppers:

Some tips: These shishito peppers work best when there’s not too much going on in the pan. That’s why I wrote this recipe in 1/4 lb. increments. But I have a feeling you’ll want more than that, so buy a lot and make this in batches. Also, I eat the stems, and I believe this is the norm. I could be wrong, but I’m still alive. For those unfamiliar with shishito peppers, they are ever-so-slightly sweet  and not hot, though you may get a very mildly hot one in there every once-in-awhile. The bigger ones tend to have more heat, if any.

1/4 pound shishito peppers

1 teaspoon good olive oil

Course grain sea salt for sprinkling


Heat skillet (non-stick is good here) with olive oil. Add peppers and saute — about 3-5 minutes — until peppers begin to pop and blister. Stir occassionally. Remove to a plate and sprinkle peppers with sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.


Walnut Beet Dip

This recipe was inspired by a recipe from Spain: A Culinary Road Trip, which Gennaro bought for me a few years ago after witnessing my sheer excitement every time Spain: On The Road Again (the PBS show with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltrow) was on T.V. In anticipation of a honeymoon in Barcelona, I’ve been re-exporing some of the book’s lovely recipes, many of which are simple and accessible, despite the fact that a big-time chef’s name appears on the cover.

I made this dip about a month ago and was instantly addicted. It’s the kind of dip that really makes any type of cracker or bread just a vehicle for the dip, which is rich and flavorful and, dare I say, somewhat healthy to boot (with omega-3 packed walnuts and vitamin-packed beets). I apologize for the rather imprecise measurement of the beets. I was originally not planning on sharing the recipe. But since I veered slightly from the original and enjoyed it so much, I thought I would pass this one on to all of you. I’m sure slight variations on the amount of beet used won’t change the fact that this is one great recipe. The original recipe also calls for water, in addition to much more olive oil that I used, making it more of a puree than a dip, as it is presented here. Feel free to add a bit of water or more olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency.

Walnut Beet Dip:
Adapted from Spain: A Culinary Road Trip

1 cup walnuts

1 1/2 large beets, boiled, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons good olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame tahini (I used raw)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons curly parsley, minced

sea salt


Puree walnuts in a food processor with a sharp blade until finely ground. Add beets, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley and puree until combined. If the consistency is too thick, you may add a bit of water to thin it out. Add enough salt to taste, plus another spinkle of lemon juice or drizzle of olive oil if desired.


Spinach Cashew Spread

I got the idea to do a spinach cashew spread from one of my favorite blogs, Raw Mazing. While I somewhat veered from the original recipe, I tried my best to keep the proportions similar, as I had been having a rough day of trial-and-error with my recipes. A failed strawberry clafoutis. A failed gluten-free bread. A second failed, though edible, gluten-free bread, which you can see pictured above (it made a great vehicle for this spread!). The bread was tasty, but rose no higher than an inch. I did happen to make a really nice cardamom-rhubarb ice cream (I really, really love that flavor combo), though it didn’t turn out to be all that photogenic (the color was kind of blah, and at that point I was too lazy to really style it up). So for my final test recipe, I wanted something that was as close as possible to a sure thing, but that I could still play around with a bit. I had lots of herbs on hand from my trip to the Greenmarket today — with some new potted varieties for my window sill as well. I like bringing a little bit of nature into my dingy, NYC apartment. So I omitted the sun-dried tomatoes from the original recipe and instead threw in some of my favorite fresh herbs, including some of my new window sill basil.

This cashew spread is great on bread (and can even liven up the most failed of gluten-free breads as well, as I can attest). I could also see it being nice over pasta (zucchini pasta for a raw meal, perhaps?) or even sauteed vegetables.

Cashew Spinach Spread:
Adapted from a recipe by Susan Powers at Raw Mazing

1 1/4 cups raw cashews, soaked for 4 hours, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves

2 handfuls (about 2 cups packed) fresh spinach leaves

1/4 cup minced sweet onion

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup golden flax seed meal

1-2 tablespoons water as needed

1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.



First things first. Mom.  I know no one else who gives more of herself and asks so little in return, is able to laugh at the small things, and care deeply about the big things. The only reason I was able to turn my food allergy “lemons” into delectably free lemonade was because I had you to look up to, never complaining. Plus, without you, Gennaro and I would be eloping for lack of any idea how to plan our wedding. And you know it. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.

Ok…on to the falafel. Not even my Trust and Estates exam could stop me from attempting to fulfill this craving by hand. The restaurant stuff, good as it may be, tends to make me sick from time to time. Given said exam, I didn’t want to risk it. But, because of my exam, this post is going to be short and sweet. It’s 2:30 a.m. and I have a long day of studying ahead of me tomorrow (today! eek).

Makes about 8-10 falafels (can double the recipe if needed)

Adapted from Susan O’brien’s recipe in Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained

2 gloves garlic

1 shallot or 1/2 small onion

3 tablespoons sesame tahini

1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/4 cup quinoa flour, plus more if needed

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for frying


1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the olive oil reserved for frying. Process until smooth and there are no large pieces remaining. Using hands, take golf-ball (or ping-pong) sized pieces and roll with hands. If mixture is too dry you may add a bit more oil; if it seems a bit wet, you may add a bit more (about a tablespoon) quinoa flour. Slightly flatten between palms. Set aside.

3. In a non-stick skillet (if not non-stick, may need a bit more oil — about 1/4 inch), heat a few tablespoons of olive oil (or enough to just cover bottom of pan) over high heat for a few minutes. Add falafels and cook until just slightly browned, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towel.

4. Arrange falafel on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 7-10 minutes, turn, and bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until both sides are browned (as pictured — may vary depending on oven temp. and falafel size).

You can serve this falafel however you like. I enjoyed it as pictured, over romaine and topped with tahini dressing. For a quick dressing, combine equal parts tahini, lemon juice and water. Add 2 cloves of grated raw garlic, a pinch of salt, and a few dashes of hot sauce. Shake in a jar, whisk or blend. Add in more tahini as needed until you reach desired thickness.