Tempeh Taco Salad

It’s two recipes for the price of one today, as I just had to follow-up my tempeh tacos with an option for taco salad as well. I made this salad last night, and Gennaro and I both really liked it. Like the tacos, you can add any toppings — vegan cheese, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, or black olives, to name a few — but it’s also good at its simplest, with just lettuce, tomato, vinaigrette, the tempeh taco filling and chips (as pictured, along with some shredded carrot). Any simple vinaigrette will do, but I made an avocado vinaigrette that was creamy and spicy and quite good with this salad. I included that recipe here, along with the recipe for homemade baked tortilla chips I used in the salad (so, I guess you’re really getting 4 recipes for the price of one today).

Avocado Vinaigrette:

1/2 ripe avocado

3 tablespoons lime juice

3 tablespoons Vegenaise

3-4 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1 scallion, roughly chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded, roughly chopped

sea salt

Directions:

Blend all igredients except salt in a blender or food processor. Add salt to taste and water until dressing is desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Remaining Salad Ingredients:

1 recipe taco filling

romaine lettuce

shredded carrots (optional)

sliced grape tomatoes

tortilla chips (recipe below)

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips:

Makes about 30 chips — increase amount of tortillas as needed.

5 sprouted corn tortillas (any corn tortilla will do, really)

olive oil for brushing (or olive oil spray)

a pinch of sea salt for sprinkling

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Halve corn tortillas, then cut each half into thirds, making even triangles. Place tortillas on a lightly oiled large baking sheet. Lay side-by-side but do not overlap. Spray or brush the top of each tortilla with oil. Bake in preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until tortillas are lightly browned and crisp.

3. Immediately after they are removed from the oven, sprinkle with sea salt. Let cool slighly before serving.

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Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad

Over the last 3 1/2 years I’ve visited the Union Square Greenmarket probably hundreds of times, which means I’ve passed a certain artist on my way to the market almost as often. This artist is one among many stationed in Union Square, but I’ve always been especially drawn to his colorful, vibrant prints. To my mind, there are few things more beautiful than a big, billowy head of purple cauliflower, or ripe, deep-hued strawberries against a backdrop of tiny, perfect blueberries. So it’s no wonder I’ve often felt compelled to stop and take in the endless number of food photos at Ken Bondor’s station (the photos on his site, while pretty, don’t do justice to how beautiful they are in person). But for whatever reason, I’ve always found an excuse not to buy. Whether I’m in a hurry, not carrying cash, or simply indecisive, I’ve found myself in a constant, 3 1/2 year state of non-buyer’s remorse — in other words, the feeling of “Why did I not just buy at least one to put in my kitchen??”

Well, today I am the proud new owner of two — make that three, tomorrow (I just can’t stop!) — 9×12″ prints, and I couldn’t be happier. This may seem like a lot of hype over pictures of mere fruit and vegetables. But one of the reasons I love the photos so much is that they are a true testament to the natural beauty that can be found at the Greenmarket throughout the year, which is where all of Ken’s food photos are taken. I’ve often found myself overwhelmed by the variety of beautiful colors — the white, purple and red potatoes; the light and dark purple eggplants of various shapes and sizes — that beckon from each Greenmarket station.

My no-longer-bare kitchen wall

The beckoning was precisely why I found myself in the position of having to figure out what sort of dish I could make with green beans, red potatoes, and poblano peppers last week. Sure, I could have made several dishes with my options. But I was tired. And that wouldn’t be much fun, anyways, would it? I liked the Iron Chef-meets-Chopped type challenge I had presented myself with. Well, it wasn’t that much of a challenge. I recalled an old Giada episode where she made a warm vegetable salad with green beans, potatoes and roasted red peppers. This salad is a version of that. It’s simple, seasonal, delicious, and keeps well in the refrigerator. Confession: I ate some for breakfast the next day. I know that’s wierd.

Warm Green Bean and Potato Salad:

Adapted from Giada’s Warm Vegetable Salad

2 lbs. red new potatoes (or a mix of red, white or purple)

4 cups green beans, halved

2 poblano peppers

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon oregano

4 scallions, chopped

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450. Wash poblanos and rub with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, turning once, until outsides are evenly blistered and charred. Using tongs, remove peppers to a glass bowl and cover with a lid or plasti wrap to steam. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous pinch of salt. Add green beans and blanch for 1-2 minutes. Use a strainer to remove green beens to salad bowl. Add potatoes to hot water and boil for 12-15 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through (halve one to test for doneness). When potatoes are cooked, drain and remove to a cutting board. Halve potatoes (quarter if they are especially large) and add to bowl with green beans.

3. Whisk together remaining olive oil, lemon juice, cider vinegar, garlic and salt. Set aside.

4. Uncover peppers and remove from bowl. Pull off stems and make a slit lengthwise down the pepper. Use knife to scrape out seeds and slice peppers into long strips. Halve strips if they are really long. Add to salad bowl. Pour dressing over vegetables, add oregano and scallions and toss until coated. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Carrot, Beet and Apple Slaw

I’ve been making a version of this slaw for as long as I’ve had my food processor. Between testing batches of cakes and biscuits, it’s nice having a go-to veggie dish to even things out a bit.

This is one of those recipes that I never make the same way twice. Sometimes I just shred carrots and beets and drizzle with tahini dressing. Other times, I add sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Since pomagranates are in season, I added some pomegranate seeds to the slaw I made for lunch the other day. The colors are very “fall,” no?

As for the unemployment thing? Well, I’m learning to make the best of it. For one thing, I get to spend all day with my little guy. That would be Woodley. He’s a snuggler, so if he’s not at my feet, he’s by my side during the day. He’s enjoying the revived attention he’s getting post-bar studying as well, as he literally had to resort to laying on my study guides and giving me puppy eyes just a few months ago, just for a belly rub.

So, here’s my no-recipe method for this slaw: Shred 1 very large or two small carrots, 1 raw beet, peeled, and a green apple, unpeeled, in food processor. Toss shredded beet, apple and carrot with some fresh chopped curly parsley. Add juice of 1 lemon, a drizzle of apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle on a generous pinch of salt. Toss. Add anything else you wish and enjoy!

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Antioxidant Quinoa Salad

When you watch as many cooking shows as I do, you tend to become familiar with the standard jargon that gets tossed around during the course of a given episode. There’s the “make sure to wash your hands very well after handling chicken!!” That one’s an oldy but a goodie. Then there’s the obligatory “al dente” definition — “it means ‘to the teeth!'” — that follows every time you’re told how to cook your pasta. And of course there’s the endless oggling of a dish in its final moments of preparation, which can take many forms but usually involves something to the effect of, “now would you look at how gorgeous this is?” The last of these is perhaps the most familiar and pervasive, often preceding every end-of-show sendoff. This is understandable, considering appearance is an important aspect of selling a dish. After all, no one cares if something is “healthful,” “super easy,” or even “delish” if it’s going to scare their dinner guests away.

Despite this, I have to say that I’m not usually one to oggle my dishes. This is in large part because I’m usually so hungry and impatient by the time it’s ready that I tend to dig in the moment I get a chance, not allowing myself to take it all in. It’s only until I’m uploading my photos hours later that I appreciate the aesthetic aspects — or lack thereof — of a particular dish. But tonight was different. As I tossed the speckled red-pink pomagranates with the vibrant green parsley against a backdrop of fluffy quinoa, I was sort of mesmerized by the beauty of it all. So I took a moment just to stare.

Of course, it’s especially nice knowing that “beauty” here might as well be synonymous with “healthy.” With each contrast of color is a different vitamin, nutrient and disease-fighting property. Pomagranates are said to be the highest in antioxidants of all natural foods. They are also believed to prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. Cranberries are rich with antioxidants as well — even more so in dried form, as antioxidants are more concentrated in dried fruit. Then there’s parsley. It’s one of my favorite all-around ingredients, and boasts a laundry list of health properties. It can boost immunity, cleanse the kidneys, is a great source of iron and vitamin C, and can even be used as a digestive aid. And of course, it’s high in antioxidants. Add vitamin and antioxidant-rich bell pepper and the protein and fiber of quinoa, and this is one healthy salad.

Since quinoa is a “whole” protein, I like to eat this as a meal, but this would also make a great side dish or light lunch option with soup. I think you’ll really enjoy this salad. Feel free to experiment with your own antioxidant-rich additions as well.

Antioxidant Quinoa Salad:

Serves: 2-3 as a main course, 4-6 as a side

Look for pomegranates that are red on the outside and which feel heavy for their size. These will yield the best seeds. This salad can be served either warm, room temperature or chilled — all good! I like beige quinoa for this dish, as red tends to have a more prominent, nuttier flavor which I thought would overpower the other ingredients.

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed well and drained

1/2 cup pomagranate seeds

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

1/2 large green bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1 cup curly parsely, finely chopped

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 1 1/2 limes)

generous pinch of salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, whisk together olive oil and lime juice. When quinoa has cooked, toss with remaining ingredients. Add dressing and salt and toss until dressing is absorbed. Taste and add additional salt to taste.

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Greek Salad

If you’re not new around here, you may have noticed a new addition to the site conspicuously lurking in the sidelines. Hm. What’s that link to Amazon products doing there? Well, after over a year of posting my recipes, listing my favorite, must-have ingredients and crediting those cookbooks that have inspired me along the way, I had a thought. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to provide a link to all of these gluten-free products, sugar substitutes, gadgets and books right here, so that I don’t have to worry about the fact that my mom has to drive an hour to get her hands on NuNaturals’ vanilla stevia, or the fact that I have readers who tell me that they can’t find bean flours anywhere? And, I thought, given how many people I’ve steered toward books like “Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking,” wouldn’t it make sense to link to that book here, where I’m (hopefully) providing some support and advice for those with similar allergies and restrictions?

In full disclosure, whenever someone clicks on a link on the side and buys something based on it, I get, like, a nickel or something. While I may be an unemployed former law student with impending loans to pay off, and living in the most expensive city in the world (ugh), I’m not so desperate that I need the rare nickel deposited in my account. I just figured it was a good, efficient way to share those products and books that have helped me thrive as a gluten-free, (mostly) vegan, sugar-free food lover.

Ok, onto this salad. I am a Greek salad FREAK. I mean, I think a good Greek salad is heavenly. And yet, I’ve had plenty bad. So by now I’ve assembled a pretty good formula for failure and success. Success: good romaine lettuce. Failure: iceberg. Success: Fresh cooked beets. Failure: the canned stuff. Success: good, kalamata olives. Failure: bad kalamata olives (um, duh) — or worse, no olives! Success: a good, creamy-yet-not-too-thick-dressing. Failure: Too-thick-dressing. Success: good quality feta…

…and that’s where a great vegan Greek salad has eluded me until now. The feta. With a little help from the internet, I learned that some tofu drizzled with red wine vinegar and some other flavorings could be masqueraded as the real deal. Still, I was skeptical. Very skeptical. It took my own series of experiments with this idea before I considered it a satisfying — if not exact — substitute. Hey, I didn’t say that for a good Greek salad the feta portion had to actually be feta, I just said it had to be good. This savory, briney tofu creation is quite good. My secret is to use a really good, raw fermented red wine vinegar for the marinating. It’s better for you, and I think it tastes better as well. Eden makes a very good one (actually, the it’s the only raw red wine vinegar I’ve seen).

I hope you enjoy this healthy, crunchy, salty Greek salad as much as I did! I listed the recipes for the various components separately below.

Tofu Feta:

1 package firm tofu, drained (extra firm will work, though I prefer firm for this recipe)

1/3 cup raw fermented red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast, divided

Directions:

1. Crumble tofu into a medium-sized, shallow glass dish. Whisk together red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt in a separate bowl and pour over tofu. Add two tablespoons of nutritional yeast and let sit for about 15 minutes. When ready to serve, stir in the remaining nutritional yeast. Taste for salt.

Greek Dressing:

1/2 cup grapeseed oil vegenaise

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Directions:

1. Whisk all ingredients well until smooth or add to a jar and shake vigorously.

Other Salad Ingredients:

Romaine lettuce, chopped

Beets, cooked and chopped

Kirby or Persian cucumber, chopped

Red onion, thinly sliced

Kalamata Olives (pitted preferably), drained

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Tabbouleh

Not only have I been really into fresh mint lately (see: mint chocolate chip ice cream), but I’ve also been on a bit of a parsley kick. I’ve always loved tabbouleh, but I’ve recently been enjoying parsely in cole slaw and romaine salads. To me, it’s a wonderfully fresh and detoxifying ingredient. Plus, it’s rumored to get rid of the “bloat.” I tend to buy into this rumor based on personal experience: my high school prom. Two days before, and I couldn’t fit into my dress. It wouldn’t zip. My mom’s good friend (and go-to resource for girlie issues such as these) suggested I drink some parsley tea. A few hours later, I was in my dress with no problem. Now, on the days I’m feeling like I’ve overdone it on the salty foods, I try to eat some parsley.

One healthy ingredient that I haven’t always been a fan of is celery. Maybe it’s the stringiness, or the fact that I’m just not in love with the taste, but for whatever reason, I’ve never gotten into celery. Still, every time I hear about all of its surprising health benefits, I can’t help but thinking that I’ll find some way to enjoy it. This tabbouleh actually turned out to be one of those ways. I think that it’s chopped small enough to add a nice crunch without its signature stringiness. It also lends a nice bit of flavor here.

With red pepper and celery and no tomato or bulghur wheat, this is not your traditional Middle Eastern tabbouleh. But if you’re willing to look past the authenticity issues, I think you’ll enjoy this healthy, detoxifying, gluten-free version as much as I did. Also, unlike most salads, this is one that gets better the longer it’s in your refrigerator. So feel free to make it in advance.

Tabbouleh:

1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions

1 bunch parsley, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 scallions, finely chopped (green ends topped off)

1 lemon, juiced

1 lime, juiced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, parsley, mint, celery, bell pepper, and scallion.

2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together lemon juice, lime juice, olive oil and sea salt.

3. Add dressing to salad and mix. Add salt to taste.

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Roasted Carrot Salad

It’s been a busier-than-expected week for me, from traveling back to Michigan for my bridal showers to returning to New York to reorganize the apartment to accommodate my new shower “swag.” The past few days have involved several trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond, The Salvation Army for drop-offs and a complete overhaul of our kitchen and two messy storage closets. Why is it that “vacations” can, at times, seem busier than everyday life? I guess that’s somewhat of a byproduct of living in a 700 square foot apartment — seemingly every free moment is spent figuring out how to best utilize your tiny space.

We did get in a few moment of relaxation while my mom was here visiting. Last night, we saw Next to Normal, which was pretty awesome. I would recommend it for anyone looking to see a good Broadway show, whether you’re visiting or live in New York. I was either crying, laughing or grinning from ear-to-ear at any given moment during the two-and-a-half hour runtime. My mom loved the show as well, having already fallen in love with the music after hearing it on her Sirius Broadway station.

Before the show, we did dinner at Saravanaas. I’ve wanted to go there for the past three years, though I somehow never got around to it until last night. That’s one of the many nice things about having visitors (or your mom) coming into town: you have an excuse to get out of your apartment and actually enjoy the city around you.

Saravanaas was just as good as expected. The paper masala dosa was delicious with two different kinds of chutney, curry and sambar, as was the idli. For $23.00 we had those two dishes and a vegetable curry dish, plus tea. Not a bad price for NYC…

idli

dosaToday, we stayed in and I made this roasted carrot salad. I didn’t write down the recipe, but the ingredients and process is simple enough that I figured it might be nice to post a no-recipe “recipe” here. This is where your inner chef takes over…Heck, you don’t even need an inner chef. Just use this recipe as a base and let your taste buds guide you from there.

Roasted Carrot Salad:

Serves: 4-5 as a side dish

Preheat oven to 425. Toss strips of  fresh carrot (about 6-8) in a little bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, and just a drizzle of agave nectar.  Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, tossing halway through. Add chopped, flat-leaf Italian parsley, drained and sliced kalamata olives and capers. If desired, add  garbanzo beans, or drained and chopped artichoke hearts. Toss with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

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Green Goddess Dressing

green goddess dressingFew things make me happier than beautiful, sunny Saturdays. That is, unless that beautiful, sunny Saturday happens to be the same day I set aside to write my 13 page memo for Animal Law. While I didn’t get to enjoy the weather today, I did enjoy this spring-inspired green goddess dressing on my salad tonight. It almost made up for having to remain stuck indoors all day. Almost.

This creamy, vegan dressing is a somewhat lighter version of a traditional green goddess, which is made with buttermilk. I’m usually not a big fan of salads that consist of just lettuce and tomato (I’m an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink kind of girl when it comes to my salads), but I enjoyed this salad plenty with the flavorful addition of this creamy, zesty dressing.

This dressing stores well in refrigerator, just be sure to shake well before using.

Vegan Green Goddess Dressing:

1/4 cup chopped chives

15 large basil leaves

2 scallions, chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup unsweetened soy milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup vegenaise

1/3 cup firm tofu, diced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

Directions:

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add a tablespoon or so of water if dressing is too thick for your taste, or a bit more tofu if it’s too thin. Adjust salt to taste.

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Citrus Jicama Salad

Ironically, while I was in the midst of testing my 4th batch of streusel bars, I actually got hungry. I was craving something light and clean to contrast the sweet and buttery bars. I usually make a jicama salad with mango and mint. But grapefruit is in season and mango is a little harder to find these days. Plus, I just read somewhere (or maybe I saw it on The Dr. Oz Show, though I’m a little ashamed to admit this) that grapefruit can speed up your metabolism. It is also quite low on the glycemic index and is high in fiber. This salad is one of those rare combinations of super-healthy and low calorie while still being sort of addictingly good. You can adjust the dressing according to your taste — more or less agave, more salt, less oil, etc. Be sure to get really juicy lemons and limes for the dressing. I didn’t measure exactly when I made mine, but I know that the lemons and limes I used yielded a lot of juice. If yours are slightly less juicy, just adjust the rest of the ingredients proportionately.

Cirtus Jicama Salad:

1 jicama, peeled and diced

1 grapefruit, segmented (membranes removed using hands)

1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffoned or minced

Dressing:

juice of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste)

Directions:

Combine jicama, grapefruit and mint in a salad bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.

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Vegan Caesar Salad

vegan caesar saladCaesar salad is one of those ubiquitous menu items. It ranges anywhere from a pre-packaged container of stale croutons and wilted lettuce at the airport to the real good stuff that’s tossed tableside, to order, at the best Italian restaurants. As a result, the legitimacy of any given Caesar is sometimes questioned, let alone a vegan Caesar.

I’m always hesitant to put together a recipe that seeks to omit an inherent ingredient in a classic dish. Look at any Caesar recipe. It may be eggless. There may or may not be anchovies. Some include mustard. But there is almost always going to be parmesan cheese. That’s what makes it so good.

I’m sorry to inform anyone that I haven’t found the magical vegan substitute for parmesan. For many vegans, a popular alternative is nutritional yeast, which I used in this recipe. It’s nutty — and, by definition, nutritious — but I wouldn’t hold your breath if you’re looking for an exact match. That said, I invite you to suspend your notion of what a “Caesar” salad should or should not taste like — or include. This is just a good, creamy, salty, nutty, tangy dressing with the spirit of a classic Caesar and without the eggs or anchovies. Or the parmesan cheese.

In lieu of croutons, I sometimes use chickpeas for a bit of texture and a touch of protein. I also like to use my focaccia recipe for croutons. I toss cubed focaccia in a little bit of olive oil and baking them at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until browned and crispy.

Use 1 head of chopped, crisp romaine lettuce for this salad. This will serve about 4-6 as a side, or 2-3 as an entree salad. The dressing recipe makes plenty of dressing, so store any remaining dressing in a glass jar in refrigerator. It will definitely keep for a few days, if not longer (it’s never lasted long enough in my fridge for me to find out). 

Vegan Caesar Dressing:

1 clove raw garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame tahini

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 scallion, white part only

1 teaspoon capers, drained

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Blend all ingredients  for dressing in a blender until smooth. Toss romaine with just enough dressing to coat lettuce. Serve right away.

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