Thursday, June 30, 2011

Super Healthy Caesar Salad

Seems strange to use the words "healthy" and "Caesar salad" in the same sentence, but it's true.  Before I switched to a plant-based diet this was one salad that I avoided because of the high saturated fat content.  Working at the restaurant we would make five gallon containers of Caesar Dressing from scratch and I knew all too well how bad it was for you.  And that's what I enjoy so much about being vegan...taking a dish that is really bad for you and making it healthy again! 

Caesar Dressing:

6 oz organic silken tofu, drained and patted dry
1 large garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp tahini paste
1 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp ground nori powder (ground in a spice grinder)
1-2 tsp agave syrup
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup filtered water (more or less for consistency)
1-2 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

  • Add all ingredients, except for olive oil and water to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • With motor running drizzle in olive oil until creamy, adding water to get to the right pouring consistency.
  • Check for seasoning and add additional salt if necessary.
  • Chill until ready to use.
Herb & Garlic Whole Grain Croutons:

3 cups diced stale bread, crust removed and cut into 1" pieces
1 1/2 tsp finely minced fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 tsp finely mined rosemary leaves
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
Extra virgin olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Toss bread cubes, thyme, rosemary and garlic with olive oil, salt and black pepper and place on a sheet tray.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown, tossing half way through.
  • Remove from oven and let cool.
Salad Ingredients:

1 head romaine lettuce, washed, dried and chopped into bite size pieces
1 bunch kale, stems removed, washed, and torn into bite size pieces
1 crown of broccoli, washed and broken into florets
1/4 cup capers, drained
1 package Gardein Chick'n Filets, sauteed, and diced (optional)
Whole grain croutons
Salt and black pepper to taste
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Note:  Instead of using Gardein, you could substitute tempeh, baked tofu or garbanzo beans if you wanted additional protein.

  • Fill a sauce pan with water and bring to a boil.  Working in several batches, blanch kale for 1-2 seconds and immerse in an ice bath.  Place kale in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.  Set aside.
  • Do the same for the broccoli, drain and set aside.
  • If using the Gardein Chick'n Filets, heat a saute pan to medium-high.  Brush filets lightly with olive oil, salt and pepper and saute for about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.  Remove from heat and dice into large chunks.
  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss lightly with dressing.  Check for seasonings and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Trio of Hummus

We vegans, we eat a lot of hummus and so I'm always experimenting with different types of beans and seasonings to come up with new flavors.  Some combinations work really well and others don't.  These flavors that I made the other day are good, but not great and so back to the kitchen for some additional tweaking to the recipes.  

The main ingredient in hummus, other than the beans is tahini sauce or paste, and believe it or not the type of tahini you use can make a big difference in flavor and texture.  I have tried all types of tahini from Middle Eastern markets, but for making hummus, I prefer Trader Joe's Tahini Sauce.  It has a really creamy texture and is full of citrus flavor.  However, if I'm adding tahini sauce to a dessert, or for a salad dressing then I prefer Middle Eastern brands, such as Mid East.

I wanted to use three different types of beans and so I used Fava, Garbanzo and Cannellini Beans for different textures and colors.  Of course, all of these are made with fresh garlic, lemon juice, cumin, tahini, olive oil and salt and pepper.  But here's what I would do differently...

Fava Bean Hummus:  

Fava beans have a high starch content and so when they are pureed they turn into a paste and become gummy.  The texture would be fine for spreading on bruschetta and topping with other ingredients, but used as a dip for vegetables I don't like the texture.  Fava's also have a bitter taste and so the next time I make this recipe, I will reduce the fava beans by half and incorporate a broccoli puree.  I would also add some fresh Meyer lemon juice if it's in season.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus with Aleppo Pepper:

For this hummus, I used garbanzo beans and Aleppo pepper.  Aleppo pepper is named after a city in Syria where the peppers are from.  It is very fruity, and earthy with citrus undertones, and is coarse in texture.  Also the heat is very mild and so next time I will substitute some cayenne pepper and paprika for the Aleppo and also grind it into a finer powder.  The texture was a bit grainy for me.

White Bean Hummus with Roasted Lemon and Zatar:

Trader Joe's has the best white bean hummus around but it's so much cheaper and healthier to make your own.  I really love zatar seasoning (which is a mixture of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, oregano and sumac), with cannellini beans, but the roasted lemons were a bit over powering.  So next time I will either add less lemons, or leave them out all together.  I may also consider using preserved lemons, but that takes some planning because the process of preserving takes about month.

I normally don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen perfecting recipes.  Most of the time I make something once and I really like it and never have to change the recipe.  And other times, if it doesn't work out, I may never make it again.  But with hummus, it's so easy, inexpensive and fun to play with different flavor profiles, that I will definitely be making these recipes again. 


Monday, June 27, 2011

Tempeh "Crab Cake" with Zucchini-Corn Relish

I grew up in Maryland and spent many summers on the Chesapeake Bay.  I had friends who's parents owned a summer home on the waterfront and they would go out crabbing early in the morning and come back with about a bushel of crabs to steam.  However, I could never partake in the actual steaming because I always felt so sorry for the crabs and so I volunteered to make potato salad/cole slaw, grill the corn, or make strawberry shortcake. 

Even now, when I go back to Maryland to visit my family during the summer, and I see signs posted everywhere for steamed crabs it triggers such a feeling of nostalgia.  So I had to create a crab cake recipe that reminded me of summers back home and this crab cake does just that.  It's delicious either served on top of a salad, or on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce, just the way I remember it!

Tempeh Crab Cakes:

1 8 oz package whole grain organic tempeh
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
2 tbsp minced green onion
1 tbsp minced red onion
1 tbsp minced fresh tarragon leaves
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
3 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp dried toasted Nori, (seaweed) ground to a powder in a spice grinder
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs, plus extra bread crumbs to coat
1/4 cup Vegenaise
2 tsp chipotle adobo sauce
2 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Juice of 1 lemon 
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Canola oil for frying

  • Cut tempeh in half and steam for about 15 minutes.  Let cool and grate on a box grater and place in a bowl.
  • Add all the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
  • In another bowl, mix wet ingredients and add to dry and combine well.
  • Using a 1/3 measuring cup, form into patties and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Just before frying coat with bread crumbs and fry on medium for about 4 minutes on each side until golden brown.
Zucchini-Corn Relish:

1/4 cup Middle Eastern or Israeli couscous
1 medium zucchini, diced small
1 ear of corn, shucked and kernels removed from the cob
2 tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Place couscous in a pot of boiling, salted water and cook until tender.  Rinse couscous really well and also drain well.  Set aside.
  • Heat a saute pan on medium-high heat.  Add 1 tsp olive oil and cook zucchini until charred and crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from pan and place on a sheet pan to cool.
  • Add another tsp of olive oil to the pan and add corn kernels and cook until charred and crisp-tender as well.  Remove from pan and let cool.
  • Add zucchini, corn, couscous, basil and lemon juice to a bowl and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Charred Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette:

1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp aged sherry vinegar
1 tbsp agave syrup
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Heat a small amount of olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high heat.  Add tomatoes and let cook until charred about 3-4 minutes, tossing once or twice.
  • While tomatoes are still warm, place them in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve crab cakes on a bed of watercress leaves, dressed lightly in the vinaigrette and top with zucchini-corn relish.  Enjoy

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Lasagna Roulade with Tomato Coulis

Back in 2004 I was working as a line cook at a restaurant and the Executive Chef was creating a new filling for our house made lasagna called "Eggplant Caviar".  I remember saying to him that it sounded horrible.  Two of my least favorite foods and why would he think that caviar and lasagna should be paired together in a dish, let alone with eggplant.   He looked at me like I was an idiot and said that the "caviar" referred to the small seeds in the eggplant, not "fish roe" and that it was just a fancy term used in restaurant lingo.  He also couldn't believe that I didn't like eggplant and said that he would convert me, no problem.  Well he succeeded because I really like eggplant and I especially love using "eggplant caviar" as a filling for my lasagna, ravioli or cannelloni. 

Eggplant "Caviar":

1 large globe eggplant, sliced in half
2 heads of garlic, roasted, minced (reserve one for the Tofu Ricotta)
8 oz cremini mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 small onion, diced small
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Madeira, white wine or vegetable stock
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Slice the tops off garlic, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap in aluminum foil.
  • Slice eggplant in half (lengthwise) and rub with olive oil and sprinkle cut portion with salt and pepper.
  • Place eggplant and garlic pouch on a sheet tray and roast eggplant for about 30 minutes until caramelized on the bottom and soft.  Remove eggplant, but leave garlic in the oven for another 30 minutes until soft.
  • Let eggplant cool to touch and then remove skin and seeds.  Chop eggplant finely and place in a fine mesh strainer and press to remove excess moisture, place in a bowl and set aside.
  • While eggplant and garlic are cooking, heat a large saute pan on medium high and coat the bottom lightly with olive oil.
  • Add mushrooms, adjusting heat to medium, and cook for about five minutes until moisture has evaporated and they are golden brown.
  • Add diced onion, garlic and fresh thyme and cook until onions are soft.
  • Deglaze the pan with Madeira, white wine or vegetable stock and cook until liquid is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add mushroom mixture to a food processor and pulse until mixture is minced, but still has texture.
  • Remove garlic pouch from the oven and squeeze out caramelized cloves.  Mince the cloves and then add them to the eggplant puree.  Remember to reserve one head of garlic for the Tofu Ricotta. 
  • Next add mushroom mixture to eggplant-garlic puree, along with nutritional yeast and lemon zest.  Mix well, season with salt and pepper and set aside. 
Tomato Coulis:

1 28 oz can plum tomatoes, pureed in a food processor or blender
1 small onion, diced small
1 small celery stalk, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 fresh thyme sprigs, wrapped in twine
1 dried bay leaf
3 cups filtered water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • In a sauce pan heat olive oil and cook onions and garlic until soft.
  • Add tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and water
  • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook for about one hour until thick.  Season with salt and pepper to taste during cooking.
  • Add sauce to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  • Strain through a fine mesh strainer and set a aside.
Basil Tofu Ricotta:

1 lb extra firm organic tofu, drained and patted dry
1 head roasted garlic, minced
1 tbsp white miso paste
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
1 tsp lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

  • Add all ingredients except for minced basil and lemon zest to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  • Place in a bowl and stir in basil, zest and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.
Sauteed Spinach & Garlic:

1 bag baby organic spinach
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Heat a large saute pan on medium, add olive oil and garlic and cook for about two minutes.
  • Add spinach leaves and cook until just wilted.  Season with salt and pepper and place spinach in a strainer to remove excess moisture.  Set aside.
  • Cook lasagna noodles according to package.  This recipe makes 8-10 individual roulades and I used whole grain noodles instead of regular.
  • Drain noodles and brush lightly with olive and place on a sheet tray in a single layer to avoid sticking until ready to roll.
  • Layer each noodle with Basil Tofu Ricotta, Eggplant Caviar and Sauteed Spinach and roll up tightly and place seam down in a casserole dish lightly covered with tomato coulis.
  • Spoon tomato coulis on top of roulades, cover dish with foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until sauce is bubbling.
  • Garnish with minced basil and serve with a tossed salad and crusty garlic bread.  


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers with Chipotle Sauce

These bell peppers are packed with protein and fiber because they are stuffed with quinoa and black beans.  It's also a great use of veggies that are in season right now by using zucchini and corn.  This dish is totally fresh, light and easy--perfect for a healthy summertime dinner.

Chipotle Sauce:

4 dried New Mexico Chilies, stems and seeds removed
1 3/4 cups filtered water
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 tsp ground chipotle powder (or more or less to taste)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp Vegenaise or Follow Your Heart Sour Cream
Kosher salt and pepper to taste.

  • Place chilies in a small sauce pan, add water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let steep for 20 minutes until soft.
  • Add softened chilies and water to a blender and blend on high until smooth.  Strain sauce through a strainer and return to blender.
  • Add all other ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Stuffing Ingredients:

2 organic red bell peppers, sliced in half, seeds removed
2 organic orange or yellow bell peppers, sliced in half, seeds removed
2 organic green bell peppers, sliced in half, seeds removed
1 cup quinoa, cooked and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 medium onion, diced small
1 organic red bell pepper, diced small
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp fresh minced basil leaves
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced, or 1 tsp dried
2 zucchini, diced small
2 ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed from the cob
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped

  • Preheat broiler to 475 degrees and place peppers on a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Rinse quinoa under water for a few minutes and add to a sauce pan.  Add enough water to cover by 4", bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until seed open up.  Drain really well through a strainer, fluff and set aside.
  • Heat a large saute pan on medium-low, add olive oil, onions, diced bell pepper, garlic and cook for about 5-7 minutes until soft.
  • Add herbs, zucchini, and corn and cook for about five minutes until vegetables are soft.
  • Stir in cooked quinoa, black beans, lime juice and season with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat, cover and keep warm while preparing peppers.
  • Place peppers under the broiler for about 5-7 minutes on each side until slightly charred and crisp-tender.  Flip frequently making sure that they cook evenly and do not burn.
  • Remove peppers from broiler and immediately stuff with warm filling.
  • Drizzle with chipotle sauce and garnish with minced parsley.
  • Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Salad Nicoise with Tarragon-Basil Vinaigrette

Another really hot day and another really easy dinner. This salad is so refreshing and very healthy for you too.  I just love the textures and flavors!

Tarragon-Basil Vinaigrette:

1 small shallot, finely minced
1 small garlic clove, finely minced
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp minced fresh tarragon leaves
2 tbsp minced fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup Champagne or good quality white wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I prefer my vinaigrette to have a ratio of 2:1 (oil to vinegar, but you may find it too acidic, so just add more olive oil if needed)
2 tsp agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salad Ingredients:

1 lb organic Yukon gold baby potatoes, sliced and roasted
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for roasting potatoes
1 pt cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 lb slender green beans, trimmed and blanched
1 can or two cups cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup nicoise olives, pitted and sliced
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
3-4 cups chopped romaine lettuce, rinsed and drained
3 cups baby arugula, rinsed and drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  
  • Wash potatoes and dry really well on paper towels and slice in half.
  • Toss in a large bowl with fresh thyme, rosemary and a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper and roast for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and set aside and cool.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and blanch green beans for about 2 minutes until crisp-tender.  Drain and immerse in an ice-bath to stop cooking and set color and texture.  Drain and set aside.
  • Add all ingredients to a large bowl and dress lightly with the vinaigrette.
  • Add salt and pepper if needed and serve garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Sandwich with Dill Aioli

Summer has finally arrived in the Bay Area.  I love it--it was 90 degrees today!  However, the last thing that I want to be doing is cooking in a hot kitchen.  My house was built in 1956 and I don't have air conditioning.  Luckily we don't really need it.  Still I wanted in and out of the kitchen and definitely didn't want to turn on the oven and so a sandwich with potato salad was a perfect choice.

Dill Aioli:

1/2 cup Vegenaise
2 tbsp minced dill pickle
1 tbsp minced capers
1 tbsp minced fresh dill
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Note:  Fresh dill is a perfect pairing for mushrooms, as well as potato salad so I used the same aioli for both.

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill until ready to use.
Dill Potato Salad

1 1/2 lbs organic baby red creamer potatoes
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup finely diced dill pickle
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1 tbsp fresh minced dill
2 tbsp dill aioli (or more depending on how creamy you like your potato salad)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 cups blanched kale leaves (torn into bite size pieces--I add kale to everything but you can leave it out if you prefer)
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Boil potatoes until soft, about 15-20 minutes, drain and chill for about 10 minutes before slicing in half or quarters.
  • Blanch kale for 30-45 seconds and rinse under cold water and drain.
  • Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl and chill for about one hour for flavors to combine.
Sandwich Ingredients:

1 large portobello (per person), marinated and grilled
1-2 red bell peppers, grilled, skin and seeds removed and sliced
1 medium red onion, sliced and grilled
Romain lettuce leaves
Dill aioli
Sandwich rolls of choice
Salt and pepper

  • Remove stems and gills from mushrooms.
  • Marinate mushrooms for about 30 minutes in a mixture of minced garlic, minced rosemary, balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
  • While mushrooms are marinating, grill peppers and onions and set aside.
  • Grill mushrooms for about 4 minutes on each side until soft.
  • Toast bread and pile on all the ingredients and serve with chilled potato salad.



Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chocolate-Raspberry Parfait

Making this ice cream parfait was so easy that no recipe is required.  The only thing I would do differently would be to add a layer of vanilla ice cream and make the ganache topping a little thinner.  But if you like chocolate, then this for you.  

For the crust, I made a standard shortbread cookie dough, rolled it out to a thin layer, baked it off, and pulsed it in a food processor, along with some toasted almonds to a fine crumb.  I then added melted butter and pressed it into the bottom of a ring mold and baked it until firm, just like making a cheesecake.  This can be made in a springform pan, but I happen to like the individual servings.  If you use ring molds, make sure that you line them with acetate sheets after baking the crust, but before adding the melted ice cream.  Also, freeze the ice cream for at least an hour between layers.  The ganache ratio is equal parts chocolate to liquid--I used almond milk. 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

I love making Vietnamese Summer Rolls.  They're just so fresh and I love the texture of the soft rice paper with the crunchy vegetables.  The hardest thing about making these rolls is slicing all the vegetables matchstick thin and working with the rice paper.  But with a little patience and practice with rolling you can make a bunch of these in no time. 

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup smooth organic natural peanut butter
1/3 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
2 tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos or organic soy sauce
2 tsp fresh ginger root, grated
1 tsp Chili Garlic Sauce or Sambal Oelek (or more depending on heat)
1 tbsp green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 tbsp cilantro, finely minced
2 tsp maple syrup or brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime

  • In a small sauce pan heat peanut butter, vegetable stock and coconut milk until smooth.
  • Pour into a bowl and stir in all other ingredients, reserving a little cilantro for garnish.
  • Chill or keep at room temperature until ready to use.

Other Ingredients:

8 oz - 16 oz organic extra firm tofu, drained, patted dry and sliced into 1/4" slices
1 head green leafy lettuce, washed, ribs removed, dried and large leaves torn into smaller strips
2 large carrots, sliced thin into 4" matchsticks
1/2 large English cucumber, sliced thin into 4" matchsticks
1 large red bell pepper, seeds removed and sliced thin into 4" matchsticks
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, large leaves torn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 package vermicelli rice sticks
1 package Rice Paper (I used Three Ladies Brand)

  • Cover vermicelli rice noodles with boiling water and let sit until soft, about 15 minutes, drain and set aside.
  • Prep all vegetables and tofu and set aside.
  • Bring 8 cups water to a simmer and pour into a large bowl.
  • Have a sheet tray and damp dish towel ready.
  • Working with one rice paper at a time, dip into hot water for about five seconds, lay on a flat surface and pat dry with a dish towel. 
  • Place lettuce slices close to the bottom of the circle, add a small amount of rice noodles, vegetables and tofu and top with fresh herbs.  Be careful not to over stuff.
  • Roll up tightly, like a burrito and place on the sheet tray and cover immediately with the damp dish towel to keep from drying out.  Repeat process.  
  • I made about 10 rolls--I just kept going until I ran out of veggies.  But you could make a lot more depending on how many rice sheets come in the package and how many veggies you prep.
Note:  It's very important to you use all organic vegetables for these rolls and wash everything really well before prepping.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Middle Eastern Falafel Plate

I can't begin to tell you how many falafel recipes I've tried in my lifetime.  I have used boxed mixes from Middle Eastern stores, bulk mixes from health food stores, and made numerous recipes found on the internet and in cookbooks.  And no matter what I do I still can't get the consistency and flavor of my favorite falafel restaurant, The Falafel's Drive-In in San Jose.  There's just something about their falafels--they are crunchy on the outside and fluffy and bright green on the inside. 

In my quest for the perfect falafel recipe, I've used fresh chickpeas in place of dried, added fresh fava beans to dried chickpeas, used cooked chickpeas and tried practically every herb/spice combination.  I have also experimented using peanut oil, canola oil and olive oil for deep frying or pan searing and formed the falafels into disks or balls.  Perhaps I should just give up, or better yet, apply for a job at Falafel's Drive-In to learn their secrets.  In the meantime, I'll just make the drive to San Jose whenever I need my falafel fix!  This recipe is good, but not back to the kitchen for me!   

Falafel Ingredients:

2 cups chickpeas, soaked for 24 hours, drained and dried with paper towels
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 liter Canola oil for deep frying

  • Place drained and dried chickpeas in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.  Add all other ingredients (except canola oil) and pulse until combined.  Do not grind to a paste, you still want some texture.
  • Using a tsp form mixture into small balls or disks.  I used a small ice cream scooper for consistency.
  • Let falafels balls chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes for flavors to combine.
  • Heat oil in a deep dutch oven to 350 degrees.
  • Add falafels in batches and cook until golden brown about 3-4 minutes.
  • Drain on paper towels and keep warm. 

8 oz Vegan sour cream (I used Follow Your Heart Brand)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups English cucumber, finely diced
2 tbsp fresh dill, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Note:  Normally I serve falafels with Tahini Mint Sauce, but I had left over Tzatziki from another dinner and so I used this instead.

  • Mix together all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes for flavors to combine.
I served my falafels with homemade hummus garnished with hot sauce and zatar and a cucumber-tomato salad with red wine-oregano vinaigrette.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Barley Risotto

Most of us when we make risotto use arborio rice, but pearl barley is a really great alternative grain to use.  Because pearl barley has a high starch content, it creates a creamy texture if cooked in the same manner as risotto.

I had wanted to add fresh morel mushrooms to this recipe, but at $30/pound it was out of the question.  So instead I added a little porcini powder to create a rich earthy flavor.  It's best to stop cooking the risotto after you add the last ladle of stock because the barley will continue to soak up all the juices long before serving.  I also added a little extra broth to the bowl so that it remained creamy when all the ingredients were mixed together. 


1 medium onion, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp porcini mushroom powder
1 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup white wine
6 cups vegetable stock
1 pound asparagus, thick bottoms removed
1 bunch broccolini, thick bottoms removed
1/2 cup frozen English Peas, thawed
4 cups organic baby spinach
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
Juice of 1 lemon
Vegan Parmesan cheese (recipe below)

  • In a sauce pan, bring vegetable stock to a boil, remove from heat and keep warm.
  • In a large saute pan add 2 tbsp olive oil and cook onions and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes.  
  • Add pearl barley, thyme and porcini powder and mix until combined.
  • Deglaze the pan with white wine and cook until almost all wine is absorbed.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 1-2 ladles of stock at a time to the barley and simmer stirring frequently until most of the liquid is absorbed before adding more liquid.  Repeat until barley has puffed up in size and is creamy in texture.
  • While barley is simmering, heat a grill pan on medium-high.  Toss asparagus and broccolini in olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until crisp-tender and charred.  Slice on bias in 2" slices, set aside.
  • Add spinach, asparagus, broccolini, and peas to the risotto and cook until spinach has wilted and vegetables are heated through.  Add additional stock and remove from heat.  Check seasonings and add salt and pepper if needed.
  • Garnish risotto with minced parsley, parmesan cheese and fresh lemon juice.
Vegan Parmesan Cheese:

1/4 toasted walnuts, finely minced
1 tbsp nutritional yeast (found in Health Food stores)
1/2-3/4 tsp kosher salt

  • Mix ingredients together in a bowl as use as a garnish.