Raw Beet & Carrot Salad

When I was a child, I absolutely hated beets. You couldn’t pay me enough to eat them. Hot, cold, whatever—it didn’t matter—I wasn’t eating them. Fast forward about 20 years or so and I love them. Hey, I guess I evolved. My favorite salad is roasted beets, avocado, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. However, my apartment was a tad bit stuffy and warm today and I didn’t want to use the oven. So that’s how a raw beet salad came to mind. I used what I had on hand: two medium-sized beets and a handful of baby carrots. Beets, thinly sliced, along with some carrots, add a dijon mustard, honey, oil/vinegar dressing and bam, a side salad was born. As far as the dressing is concerned, I didn’t really measure it, so below are estimates. I say taste the dressing as you go along and that way you’ll adjust the flavor to your liking.

Raw Beet and Carrot Salad with Dijon, Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing

  • 2-3 Beets, peeled
  • Handful of baby carrots
  • 3TB Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 C Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/b C Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TB Honey

Wash and then peel the beets, then cut them into quarters and slice as thinly as possible. (Note, I put a paper towel down on my cutting mat, so as to prevent the beets from bleeding onto the mat/cutting board. It helped with cleanup too). Slice carrots and add to beets. Assemble the dressing in a small bowl and use a tiny whisk or fork to combine the ingredients. Then, add the dressing to the vegetables and voila, you’re done. I think that some fennel or perhaps shallots would also taste good in this salad.

Vegetarian Mushroom Soup

The aroma of sautéeing mushrooms, onions, garlic, butter and a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon filled my apartment. Oh, my, was I going to have a nice meal this evening. I had, had mushroom soup in mind for awhile and actually had never made it (I know, weird, right?) until last night. It’s a really simple recipe that comes together pretty quickly. You can use portobello, white or cremini mushrooms, or whatever you have on hand. I used a combination of portobello and white. It’s also a recipe that you can tweak, which is what I did after finding a basic recipe online. Enjoy with a piece of crusty French bread and a glass of wine!

  • 1TB butter, (may need 2)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tsp of dried thyme (I also added 1 tsp. of rosemary
  • 4-5 cups of sliced mushrooms (I used 6 cups because they cook down)
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1/4 C. flour
  • 4 C. vegetable stock
  • 1/4 C. red wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. In saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the onions and garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook until softened.

2. Add mushrooms and potato, continue to cook over medium heat. Add the wine if you are using wine. Let simmer until the vegetables are tender. About 10 minutes.

3. Add flour, stir and break up any lumps of flour. About 1 minute. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the broth is thickened.

(Somewhat lazy) Lactino Kale Pesto and Lumachine

I was going to make some butternut squash risotto for dinner later, then I realized that I only had one carton of vegetable stock. Well, that wouldn’t do because I need 6-8 cups of stock. I didn’t feel like going outside and interrupting my work flow, so, the risotto will have to wait another day. And here I was all jazzed about risotto. Oh well. I searched in my fridge (which makes it sound like I have a bottomless vegetable crisper) and decided to use the lactino kale and make some pesto. So, I made it, tasted and adjusted and I’m still not sure about it. I added toasted walnuts, a clove of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper…BUT, it was still too bitter. Hm. So I added dash of white balsamic vinegar, some lemon zest and half a lemons worth of juice. Still not too sure. I will try it later. If it’s a fail, well, that’s okay. We should embrace our failures as much as our successes. I froze more than half the huge portion and will eat the remainder this week. After all, it’s just me here. No one to impress, really..

I wanted to use tiny shell pasta or even orzo for this. Of course you can use penne, rigatoni, or a tube pasta. Or, you can use a grain like couscous, farro, or barley too.

Kale Pesto

  • One bunch of lactino kale, washed trimmed
  • 1/3 -1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of toasted walnuts
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)
  • Dash of white balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Concerning the kale, I cut off the very end of the stalks but used most of the stems in addition to the leaves. (Hm, maybe that’s where some of the bitterness comes from?). Put all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. You may only need 1/3 cup of oil. If you have walnut oil, you could use that instead too. If you don’t have walnuts, use almonds. Those are good too. I don’t like pine nuts, hence they’re not in the recipe. Serve with warm pasta. Also, don’t drain out all the pasta water. While adding the pesto to the pasta in the bowl, add a few ladles (1/2 cup) of the pasta water. The starchy water makes the sauce creamier/thicker and helps with the consistency.

Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Bread

I love fall. Getting up before the sun rises and the moon is still out, cooler temperatures, not sweating to death or passing out while waiting for the subway at Jay Street, wearing a jacket, college football, baseball playoffs, hockey (sad face here) fall vegetables….

It seems almost cliche to write about using pumpkin in the fall. But, I really do love pumpkin: cookies, waffles, pancakes, brownies, muffins, bread, you name it. Recently, I came upon a vegan recipe from the Joy the Baker cookbook that I tweaked a bit. I used dark brown sugar, a dash of vanilla, low fat maple syrup and added some unsweetened vanilla almond milk while combining the wet and dry ingredients because the dough was too thick. I thought about adding cherries or cranberries too, but wanted to taste the pumpkin and not be distracted. So, perhaps next time I’ll add some dried cherries. I think I like the vegan version of the bread over any non-vegan versions I’ve ever made. It’s delicious. Enjoy!

Vegan Pumpkin Pecan Bread

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease (or use cooking spray) two 8x4x3 inch loaf pans and set aside.

  • 3 1/4C. all-purpose flour
  • 2C dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp of each: Vietnamese cinnamon (or regular), freshly grated nutmeg, and allspice.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1C canola oil
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3C lite maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 – 1/3 C almond milk
  • 1 can of pureed pumpkin (15oz)
  • 1C chopped, toasted pecans

Mix the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl and set aside. Whisk the oil, pumpkin puree, syrup, water and vanilla in another bowl. Mix until well combined and it resembles applesauce. I prefer a fork over a whisk for this task because it’s easier. (Oh, and a note about apple sauce: You could swap out half a cup of oil for 1/2 cup of apple sauce). Add wet ingredients to dry ones and mix well with a spatula. At this point you might want to add a little bit of almond milk if the mixture becomes too thick/dry. You be the judge. After well combined, add the toasted pecans, mix and then divide the batter between the two prepared loaf pans. Bake at 350 for about an hour and ten minutes, or, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the bread.

Let bread cool in pans and then when pans are ok to handle, pop bread out onto a plate or a cooling rack and cool completely. Or, if you’re like me, cut off the end of the pumpkin bread and gobble up with a slather of soy margarine. Or, if you want to be completely non-vegan: some butter. Whoops! Haha.

Roasted Yellow Zucchini and Baby Eggplant with Tomatoes

I bought some local, bright yellow zucchini and small, lavender eggplants the other day because I was inspired by a cooking show on PBS. Originally, I was going to sauteé them with onion, garlic and fresh tomatoes, but decided upon roasting them and used a can of Muir Glen’s fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilies. (Those are my go to diced tomatoes for rice, pasta and soup recipes). It was a perfect Sunday meal. I put the roasted veggies over some cooked penne and added a little bit of shaved Pecorino. Bon Appetite!

Roughly chop zucchini, eggplant, half an onion, a couple cloves of garlic and put in a 9×13 baking dish. Add can of diced tomatoes and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Cover with aluminum foil and roast at 400 for about an hour, or until the vegetables are tender.