Friday, July 30, 2010

Ratatouille Salad

I bought a round zucchini and a round eggplant at the farmers' market thinking I would make more veggie stacks.

And I bought these little tomatoes because they're so cute!

But then I saw this blog post on Organically Me with a recipe for ratatouille salad and decided to make it instead. Sadly, when I cut the zucchini open, it was very spongey, and I didn't think it would taste too good. So I ended up using some of the yellow and green squash I had instead. I chopped up the eggplant, squash, some mushrooms and some basil, added the cherry tomatoes and minced garlic and drizzled the whole mix with olive oil. I spread the veggies out over two baking sheets and cooked them for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees. Yes, I turned the oven on after saying I was going to do so this week, but it was totally worth it!

I also made the balsamic reduction mentioned in the post. It went really well with the veggies. This was super tasty and really pretty! Despite the fact that the oven had to be on, this was the perfect dish for the  summer veggies that are now in season.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pasta Shells with Chickpeas and Zucchini

This is a recipe from my friend Vanessa. It originally came from a cookbook her mom has but it's been passed down and altered, so I have no idea if it resembles the original recipe at all. It's quite easy and very delicious, especially if you're a chickpea lover like me. Any type of pasta can be used, but shells work well because they chickpeas sit inside them nicely.

The recipe Vanessa gave me made a huge vat of pasta, so I'll be eating this for lunch for the next few days. The next time I make it, I'm going to cut it in half.  The recipe calls for three cans of chickpeas, half of which was pureed with the liquid from the can in a food processor. I chopped up an onion and a few cloves of garlic and sautéed them together, and then added the chickpeas (both puréed and whole), a large can of chopped tomatoes, and chopped basil and rosemary. I let it simmer while the pasta was cooking. The longer it simmers, the thicker the sauce becomes. I then added chopped zucchini (I had a really jumbo yellow zucchini from the farmers market) and continued cooking until the zucchini was soft. 

I liked this so much that I think it's going to be in my regular meal rotation. I will probably add some spinach or kale the next time I make it. Gotta get those greens in! 

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

National Salad Week

I know it's Wednesday, but I just found out that it's National Salad Week. (Just a week?)

Dennis has been taking voiceover classes in NYC on Tuesday evenings, and I don't really like cooking for just one, so I made myself a really big salad last night. With the exception of the olives and chickpeas, all the ingredients in this salad were bought at the farmers' market. And also with the exception of the chickpeas and olives, this meal is all raw, so it's cooling and perfect for summer. Since it's loaded with color, I know it's packed with nutrition. I also had a piece of raw bread with cashew cheddar with it.

But the real reason I'm posting yet another photo of a salad, is because I wanted to show off this gorgeous tomato. Isn't it beautiful? I'm so in love with heirloom tomatoes that I really can't eat "regular" tomatoes any more. It's tomato season here in NJ. There are so many different varieties of tomatoes, out there - give something new a try!

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Squash and Polenta

I started out the day on Sunday with every intention of making this yummy looking RAW-sotto recipe from Organically Me for dinner.  I dare to say that I was even excited about trying it. I soaked cashews and sunflower seeds and marinated mushrooms early in the day to prepare for the dish. Later in the evening, I started to prepare the rest of the ingredients. I cut up basil and chopped zucchini. And then started chopping cauliflower for the "rice". And that's when things went wrong.

I know it's not very vegan of me, but I don't like insects. I don't like the element of surprise that they tend to bring with them. And I'm not a fan of crawly things. A few weeks ago at work, out of the corner of my eye I noticed that a grey spot on the grey carpet was moving in the direction of my desk. I shrieked and flew back in my wheeled chair. The grey spot was not a spot at all, but a very large, very furry, very leggy bug. It was larger in the back and was about 2 inches long. It sort of looked like a spider pushing a furry centipede. I'm not kidding. My coworkers ran over, we got a flash light, and we searched, but the insect in question could not be found. I spent the next two hours with my feet on my chair and my keyboard in my lap. The bug was later found in the hallway and escorted out of the building by my coworker Kevin, a.k.a. My New Hero.

What does all of this have to with my rawsotto dinner? Well, as I was cutting the cauliflower, a very large, very crawly black bug scurried out of the center, no doubt happy to finally be free of the cauliflower prison he must have spent what felt like an eternity to him in. Once again, shrieking was involved. There was also some running and flailing. Dennis isn't really bothered by bugs and he usually quietly takes them quietly outside. His reaction to this thing was "that's really disgusting." I have no idea what happened to the bug, as my senses seemed to have shut down after the incident. I came to again when Dennis said "the kitchen is safe."

So after I calmed down and was able to bring myself to go back in the kitchen, I needed to come up with another dinner plan. I already had chopped zucchini and basil and marinated mushrooms ready to go. What to with them? I decided to make squash and polenta, using a tube of premade polenta I had in the fridge and some really cute little summer squash I picked up at the farmers market. I also chopped up a nice heirloom tomato and a red onion. I added a can of pinto beans to the mix for some protein. I sliced the polenta up really thin and cooked it with a little bit of oil in a non stick pan. It ended up being a really tasty, impromptu dinner. There was a lot of the veggie/bean mix leftover, so I will probably make some quinoa to go with it and have it for lunch sometime this week.

As for the rawsotto - I'm not sure if it will ever be made now that I have a tremendous fear of cauliflower.

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Raw Pasta with Red Pepper Marinara

This is another recipe I found on the Organically Me blog. As I've said before, I like to eat raw zucchini pasta (a lot) in the summer. I bought some nice yellow zucchini at the farmers market and wanted to give them a twirl through the spiralizer. I've made raw marinara before, but it's always been tomato based, and this one is red pepper based. Sun-dried tomatoes give the sauce a little bit of "meatiness" so it's not pepper soup. It was a nice change of pace from tomato marina, and it had a good depth of flavor. Dennis and I both really enjoyed it.

The really nice thing about recipes like this is that they're super easy to prepare. A lot of people believe that raw food is complicated and time consuming. And yes, some recipes are. But recipes like this are super simple and easy to make. Simply throw all of the sauce ingredients into a food processor and mix it all together. You don't need a spiralizer to make raw pasta - you can use either a julianne peeler to make "spaghetti" or a regular vegetable peeler to make long flat noodles. Raw pasta is the perfect meal for hot summer evenings because the oven doesn't need to be turned on the food is cooling. And because it's delicious!

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Stacks of Veggies!

I found a really cute little round zucchini at the farmers' market and couldn't resist buying it. I also bough eggplant and tomatoes. I thought it would be fun to stack them, lasagna style. 

I made batches of cashew ricotta and spinach pesto

I stacked slices of the zucchini, eggplant and tomato and layered the ricotta and pesto in between.

The stacks ended up being much higher than I expected! I cooked them at 400 degrees for about an hour. They were really delicious, but I think I've had the oven on way too much lately and it has been horribly hot all week. Back to raw meals next week!

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

I had a lot of quinoa and veggie mixture leftover from the stuffed squash I made, so I decided to stuff peppers with them. This was a super simple meal, and since I already had most of the meal prepared, it didn't take very long to prepare. I simply cut the peppers in half and cleaned out the insides, stuffed them, and then cooked them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Bell peppers are part of the Capsicum family, but they are the only member that doesn't actually contain  capsaicin, which is why they taste sweet, rather than hot. Studies show that red bell peppers contain higher levels of nutrients than green ones. Red peppers contain lycopene, which is know to protect against cancer and heart disease. They are also a good source of folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B6, thiamine, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and beta carotene.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stuffed Summer Squash

It's squash season! I saw these really great summer squashes at the farmers' market over the weekend and just had to get them. They have many names - flyer saucer squash, pattypan squash, scallop squash, etc. Whatever you call them, they're really gorgeous and really delicious!

Despite the heat, I decided to turn the oven on and make stuffed squash. 

I scooped out the insides of the squash, and saved what I scooped out.

I sautéed together some garlic, onion, habanero pepper, tomatoes, the insides of the squash and black beans, and then added the veggies to cooked quinoa. I then placed the mixture inside the hollowed out squashes. 

I cooked them at 400 degrees for about about 30 minutes, until the squash was tender. I then sprinkled some Daiya cheese on top and popped them back in the oven for about 10 more minutes.

I served the stuffed squash over beds of sautéed kale. This was a really delicious meal! I'm looking forward going back to the farmers' market next weekend to get more squash to experiment with!

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Farmers' Market Salad

I was able to make it to the Farmers' Market again this weekend! When it's open, I do the bulk of my grocery shopping there since I eat so many veggies. After shopping, I love coming home and making a giant salad!

This salad has two types of lettuce, red cabbage, cucumbers and tomatoes. I also added some chickpeas, avocado, sprouts and olives, which weren't from the farmers' market. I made a simple dressing using olive oil, lemon juice, a tiny amount of stone ground mustard and dried dill. The veggies are so flavorful that they don't really need much dressing.

Remember to make sure you get at least four colors of plant foods on your plate at every meal! Since the nutrients are actually in the plant's color, you can be sure you're getting all of the nutrients you need if your meals are colorful.

I could have gotten some more color in this salad if I had added some carrots, but sadly I put them in the fridge when I got home and forgot to put them in my salad!

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Cafe Blossom

One of my favorite things about studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was lunch time. Now, I'm not saying that the classes weren't good, because they were really excellent. But at lunch time, my friends and I would jump in a cab and take a short ride from Lincoln Center to Cafe Blossom on Columbus and 82nd. Cafe Blossom is laid back and casual, but they serve really amazing and healthy vegan food. All of the restaurants around Lincoln Center were always packed with our fellow students, but Cafe Blossom was just far enough away for us to escape the crowd. Until word got out that they were close and suddenly the place filled up with fellow IIN'ers. Imagine our shock when we walked in the door to find the place packed with familiar faces from class! That didn't stop us from eating there though. We just ran out the door to make sure we got there first! 

I've eaten at Cafe Blossom more times than I can count, but sadly, Dennis had never been there, so I decided it was time to take him. We went for dinner on Saturday, and I'm pleased to report that he now loves it as much as I do. Most of my trips to Cafe Blossom were during lunch time, so it was nice to be able to sample some of their delicious dinner dishes. 

We both started out with yummy ginseng iced teas.

I had pan seared polenta with shaved baby artichokes as an appetizer. 

Dennis had blacked eyed pea cakes.

For dinner I had dijon grilled tofu. It came with eggplant purée, leeks, chard, snow peas and cherry tomatoes. I have no idea what they did to those veggies, but they were absolutely divine. I could have eaten a giant plate of them and been perfectly happy.

Dennis had porcini rigatoni. I tried a little bit of the greens and the sauce, and it was delicious. He really loved it.

For dessert we both had cashew ice cream, which was actually from Lula's Sweet Apothecary. The dish comes with three scoops of ice cream and you can mix flavors. In retrospect, we should have split a dish, but we each got our own. I ordered cookies and cream, chocolate chocolate swirl and drumstick. The drumstick ice cream is named after those prepackaged ice cream cones that I used to eat tons of in the summer when I was little. It had peanut butter, chocolate covered peanuts and sugar cone mixed in. I'm sure there was wheat in the it, as well as in the cookies and cream ice cream, but it the amount was minimal and I didn't notice any kind of reaction from it. 

Dennis had cookies and cream, drumstick and strawberry. The ice cream was really rich and we had a lot of it, so we were really full after dinner. We had tickets to see Race on 47th, street, and we actually walked the 35 blocks to the theater. We figured the walk would be good for our digestion and it would help burn off some of the calories from the ice cream. We apparently forgot that it was about 225 degrees with 98 percent humidity out. We were both drenched in sweat by the time we got to the theater, and the heat really wiped me out!

The play was really good, but I might be biased because I love Eddie Izzard and would pay to see him read the phone book. He did a really good job in the roll and would definitely recommend it if you happen to be in the area!

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Picnic in the Park

The weather has cooled down a little bit here (meaning it's now in the 90s instead of the 110s), so Dennis and I decided to get out of the house and go for a picnic in the park.

I bought these pretty little purple potatoes from the farmers' market, and was itching to do something with them. I chose potato salad since we were going for a picnic. I love potato salad but don't make it often. The purple potatoes were looked like little geodes once I cut them. It almost seemed like a shame to cook them!

I added peas, chopped onion, and red bell pepper.

And then mixed in Vegenaise, mustard, salt, pepper, sesame seeds and a little dill.

I also made a quick quinoa salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and chickpeas. I added some olive oil, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar.

And I made a garden salad using tomatoes, carrots and olives. Most of the produce I used to make this lunch was bought at the farmers' market.

This was such a delicious lunch, and seemed to taste even better eaten outside in the park under the sun! And of course, we need to get time out in the sun in order to get our vitamin D!

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quinoa and Veggies

I've been making a lot of raw foods lately, so it's been a while since I've made a quinoa stir-fry, and I figured I was over due for one. This was a quick dish for a busy week night.

I stir-fried shiitake mushrooms, asparagus, onion and garlic together in olive oil until tender, I then added kale (it's rare that kale makes it to the cooking stage in my house, because I've become so addicted to kale chips!) and chickpeas. And of course, I served the veggie mix over quinoa. This meal was super fast to make - it took only about 15 or 20 minutes - and is packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. So next time you think you don't have time to cook and are tempted to stop for fast food, stop yourself and consider making a quick stirfry with quinoa!

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Farmer's Market Pasta

Because of the heat, I haven't felt like cooking much lately, and I've felt uninspired in the kitchen. But visiting the farmer's market on Saturday changed that! All of the beautiful produce inspired me, and I couldn't wait to start making dishes with all of the food we brought home.

I really didn't know what I was doing when I started cooking this dish, but I just started throwing stuff together and had faith that it would taste good. And it did! It resembled ratatouille and was quite delicious.

To make the dish, I cut up eggplant, squash, fennel and tomato, and then added garlic and onions and sautéed them in olive oil. I also added a little water and some vinegar. After the veggies started to cook down, I added half a can of white beans and a little red wine, I covered it and then let it simmer until the veggies were tender. I served the veggies over brown rice pasta and topped them with nutritional yeast and chopped olives.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuptim Thai

On Saturday night, Dennis and I went out for Thai food. It seemed a shame to go out for dinner after buying so much great produce at the farmers' market that morning, but our friend Neel stopped over in the afternoon and mentioned Thai food, which planted the seed for us to want to eat out. 

We like Tuptim Thai in Montclair. They have a separate vegetarian menu and we've tried just about everything on it. There's another Thai restaurant that's very close by, but they only have one or two vegetarian things on their menu, so Tuptim has earned our loyalty.

Unfortunately, I forgot my regular camera, so I took photos of our food with my iPhone, which doesn't have a flash. You'll just have to trust me when I say that the food was better than it looks here!

Dennis picked up a bottle of my favorite wine - Badger Mountain organic riesling. It's not always easy to find, so I was quite happy when he presented the bottle to me!

We started out with spring rolls. Yes, they are greasy because they're deep fried in oil, but since I eat healthily throughout the week, I allowed myself a spring roll.

We both had Thai salads. They were full of hard tofu and covered with peanut sauce. I really love Tuptim's hard tofu and I like anything covered in peanut sauce!

I had sautéed broccoli and tofu. Yummy!

Dennis had pad Thai. I sort of had a hankering for pad Thai, but I wanted more veggies than this dish comes with. I was happy with my choice!

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