One of the fundamental principles taught in English 101 is the essay “thesis statement”–that’s your stance on an issue, your argument, your point of view. When I first learned how to craft a thesis, my professor was very clear: never choose a topic related to life-or-death issues, because the goal of the essay is to convince someone of your viewpoint, and it’s virtually impossible to shift someone’s opinion when it comes to topics like capital punishment, abortion, or whether or not God exists.
This recipe will provide you with a quick, simple and tasty side dish or first course. Plus, bonus title alliteration!
Living in a primarily Italian neighborhood has its advantages. I’ve learned how to grow tomatoes (of course, “knowing how” doesn’t necessarily guarantee success); that bocce ball is not (No, no, Signora, not at all!) the same as cricket; how to make great pesto with my home-grown basil; that “basta!” is not, as I imagined, an obscenity; what a lawn is supposed to look like in summer (hint: it’s not that one the HH just mowed); that there’s a huge difference between authentic oil-cured olives and the ones you get in the grocery store; and that there are three–yes, three–forms of fava beans to eat (dried, roasted, and fresh).
When I first spied the gargantuan fava pods (also called Broad Beans) in the grocery store, I had to ask the produce manager what they were. Tugging at the stringy fiber along one side so the pod slit open, he removed one of the raw beans, popped it directly into his mouth and offered me one to try. I immediately decided that the raw beans are an acquired taste. However, lightly sautéed with garlic and olive oil, tossed with a drizzle of citrus–and they’d likely appeal to anyone.
I do “peel” the beans (remove the waxy coating on each individual bean), which takes a bit of prep time. But you can easily do this while the brussels sprouts cook, and it’s kind of fun to perfect the “squeeze and pop” technique of ejecting the beans from their casings. Then just toss them with the shredded sprouts, and voilà!–a simple and fancy side dish, both at once.
When shredded and cooked al dente this way, the brussels sprouts are crisp, green, not bitter!, and even just a little bit sweet. The combination of starchy beans and zesty lemon offers a great counterpoint in flavor and texture–all in all, a satisfying, substantial, and yet still light side dish.
“Si, looks great, Madre! And how about uno or due biscotto for us–?”
Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Favas (or Edamame)
suitable for ACD all stages (if using edamame)
This is a great summer side dish alongside grilled. . . anything. It would even work well at room temperature on a buffet table. I tossed in some cubed tofu and called it dinner.
12-15 pods of fresh fava beans (or 3/4 cup/180 ml shelled edamame, lightly steamed)
1 pound (454 g) brussels sprouts, trimmed and shredded (see instructions)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
fine sea salt, to taste
Prepare the beans: slit open each pod and remove the actual fava bean. (You should have around 3/4 cup or 180 ml beans). Bring a small pot of water to the boil; add the beans and allow to cook for two minutes, just until they turn bright green and plump up a little. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
Meanwhile, begin the sprouts: Cut each sprout in half vertically (from the top down to the stem). Place cut side on a cutting board, then slice into thin slices. The sprouts should naturally begin to separate into shreds this way. Place in a bowl and toss with your fingers to help the sprouts separate into shreds, if necessary. Set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a large frypan. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sprouts and continue to cook, stirring almost constantly, until they barely begin to soften and turn bright green. Toss in the reserved favas and stir just to heat through. Remove from heat.
Sprinkle with the lemon juice, zest, and salt, and stir to combine. Serve alongside grilled tofu, veggie burger, or any other main of choice. Makes 3-4 servings.
[This year, I decided to offer a "Festive Freebies" series in which I give away some of my favorite food products. . . hand-picked by me! These are things I already loved and actually eat (or use) regularly, and which I'd love to share with you. Here's my first Festive Freebie--click here to enter!]
Not your conventional pizza! Isn’t it gorgeous?
I swear, I am in love with this “new” food, which is really a traditional Italian snack. I am betting you will love it, too. And as a bonus, it’s gluten free, vegan, grain free, sugar free and anti-candida (ACD) friendly. Hallelujah!
If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably already seen me rave about this. Click here to read what I think about this product and to enter the giveaway for a beautiful pack of goodies.
[Why isn't the giveaway on this page? I'm complying with BlogHer's rules that I may not post a giveaway or contest on the main page of my blog. I apologize that this means an extra click for all of you--but I promise, it's worth it!]
Can I tell you a secret? But you have to swear you won’t tell anyone.
This particular secret involves a clandestine, middle-of-the-night meeting in an abandoned field; secret code names; the removal of clothing; and a vow never to tell another soul.
Oh, and three cans of neon yellow paint.
(And I bet you thought you knew where I was going with this one, didn’t you?)
Allow me to explain. As a middle child in our family, I exhibited the typical middle-child traits: I was quiet, a peacemaker, and always tried to please everyone. Middle kids don’t ruffle feathers. They don’t make waves. They’re the “good girls” (well, except for the boys, that is, who I’m guessing are “good boys.”). In other words, they don’t break the rules.
But being the perennial ”good girl” can sometimes become tiresome. Sometimes, you want to break loose and do something wildly out of character. Maybe skip school and have a little adventure like Ferris Beuller. Maybe just pick up and move to Australia*. Or maybe even say “what the heck“** and take that leap like Joel in Risky Business.
That’s why, though I’d never done anything even remotely similar before, I was inspired to call the HH up for a date after we’d met at a party the previous weekend (seems to have turned out okay in the end).
That’s why, one evening in university after I’d just called my friend Babe to wish her a happy birthday and sat studying in my dorm room, I turned to my study buddy Elaine and asked, “Hey, do you want to drive to London tonight to visit Babe?” We arrived just before 10:00 PM, Babe squealed with surprise and delight when she saw us, we shared hugs and a bottle of wine, and we found ourselves back at the dorm around 2:00 AM (just in time to finish studying before our test the next morning).
That’s why, when I first learned that Ellen DeGeneres had eschewed refined sugar (after being vegan for a couple of years), I thought, “Wow! The treats in my cookbook would be perfect for her!” and mounted a twitter and blog campaign to serve healthy, vegan, sugar-free desserts to Ellen and her studio audience on her show (so far, it’s turned not too badly , but I’m still waiting for that invitation–feel free to send her a message and ask her to have me on the show!).
And that’s why, when one of my best friends in high school thought it would be a good idea for our group of “goody-goody” girl friends to leave our mark (literally) on our high school, I said, “okay, what the heck.”
Which is how the six of us ended up meeting one night under cover of darkness, changed into sweatpants and sweatshirts, and sneaked into our abandoned-for-the-summer schoolyard. We pried open the cans of neon yellow paint and drew the largest characters we could muster, as high as our arms would stretch , emblazoning the words, ”GRADS 76″ on the brick wall before we ran off into the night, whispering and giggling.
We made our way back to the schoolyard innumerable times throughout the summer to admire our handiwork. Of course, no one ever suspected that we were the culprits–after all, we were such “good girls.” (Oops. I guess the cat’s out of the bag, now. But you have to promise not to tell anyone else. ).
Although the SOS Challenge doesn’t require you to submit both sweet and savory recipes (so please don’t feel obliged to do so), as my final submission to this month’s rhubarb challenge, I wanted to provide our star veggie with an outlet for something a little out of character. Shrug off the pies and crumbles and muffins, Little Rhubarb, and head over to the savory side of things! A quick search on the internet revealed a few Indian-inspired dishes, but I wanted to highlight the characteristic most prominent in our featured stalks: the sourness. I decided to create a vegan variation on a typical Chinese sweet-and-sour dish, using rhubarb to confer the “sour.”
The result was a little unusual, but pleasing nonetheless. The tart rhubarb is tempered somewhat by the sweetness of the stevia, and the chilis provide a subtle heat that seems to bring out the individual flavors. Chickpeas contribute the protein here, but tofu would seem an obvious choice next time I give this dish a try. Served over cooked millet, it was a satisfying supper for both of us.
So go ahead, try something a little different. It will be our little secret.
* I actually almost did move to Australia, once. I had arranged a teaching exchange with another teacher in the Land Down Under. All the papers were in place, the jobs approved, and the only thing left to do was purchase the steamer trunk. Sadly, once the other instructor learned the cost of renting an apartment in Toronto, she backed out of the deal.
** No, Joel didn’t actually say, “what the heck.” His particular four-letter term was a little more colorful than that. But this is a G-rated blog, folks
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine the water and Bragg’s. Remove about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the liquid to a small bowl, and add the potato starch to the bowl. Stir to mix well. Set aside.
To the pot, add the rhubarb, red pepper, garlic, ginger, lemon zest and chili flakes, and bring to boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the rhubarb begins to break up. Add the chipeas and stevia to taste. Stir the liquid in the bowl again and slowly add it to the chickpea mixture, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens. Stir for another 30 seconds. To serve, ladle over cooked grain of your choice; sprinkle with chopped cilantro. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen.
This recipe is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, a fabulous event started by Susan at the Well Seasoned Cook and this month hosted by Diana at Spain in Iowa.
The Question Question: Before I sign off today, I wanted thank everyone who responded to my query in my earlier post. Your responses were fairly split on the issue of whether or not to include questions at the end of blog posts: the final verdict seems to be, “if they develop naturally from the content of the post, they’re okay.” Of course, I’d never pose a question that had nothing to do with the post (except, um, for that first question). On the other hand, many of you suggested that you’d simply not comment at all if the question didn’t appeal to you.
Well, comments are one of my favorite aspects of blogging (both reading them and leaving them on other blogs), and I do enjoy the interaction they encourage. I’m also all for the recent types of comment sections that allow individual commenters to respond to each other (and I will have to install those–not on the blog right now). So I’ve decided to incorporate questions only occasionally, and see what happens. And even if you’re not keen on the questions, please do continue to comment on the blog post itself!
*Or, ACD-Friendly Fast Food. Or, Intercultural Lasagna. Or, What to Do with those Nearly-Stale Nacho Chips.
Even though these days it takes me almost 15 minutes before I can stand up fully erect after first rolling out of bed (in which I sleep on my back, with 2 pillows under my knees so my spine can retain its proper curvature) in the morning; even though driving at night has become more and more an exercise in blinking and squinting than a convenient means to return home after a dinner out; even though I sometimes do a double take when walking by a mirror after thinking, “What the heck is my mother doing in there??”; even though my students perceive me more as a Nanny McPhee than a Sheba Hart–even though all these things are true, I still can’t help but feel as if, internally, I’m the same person I was in my 20s.
Getting older can really be a shock to the system, let me tell you. One of my class projects in nutrition school was to assess how sensory perception changes over time. Boy, was that ever a wakeup call! (Then again, it would have to be a much louder wakeup call if I were in my 80s). You see, for every year you age past, oh, about 18, each of your five senses diminishes. And the older you get, the more quickly and more dramatically they do so. (Are you depressed yet? Don’t worry, you will be–that’s more common when you’re older, too).
So, while we all may realize that sight and hearing fade with age (a 70 year old needs three times the light of a 20 year-old to see accurately–no wonder septuagenarians shouldn’t be driving!), most of us don’t really think about how our sense of taste diminishes as we grow older.
Well, the HH and I must be bordering on superannuation. (Okay, actually, it’s just the HH, but I didn’t want to make him to feel bad. That is, if he can still feel anything at his age).
I’ve noticed lately that the HH has started pronouncing my cooking ”not spicy enough” or “too bland” or “not flavorful enough” even when it seems fine to me (or is something that isn’t supposed to be spicy, like mock tuna or stroganoff. A recent exception was the vegan pasta carbonara, which he scarfed down anyway). Could it be that his taste buds are feeling a little exhausted after 50+ years of operation? Not sure. But I do know that what we eat has become more and more piquant over the years.
True, I’ve always enjoyed spicy eats, but my tolerance–and desire–for ramping up the heat has definitely increased of late. I’ll never forget a dinner party to which I was invited by my office mate when I first began teaching at the college; she had just come back from seven years living in Mexico and promised us an authentic feast.
While the rest of us guzzled cold drinks between tiny nibbles of fiery-hot mole appetizers, our hostess calmly plucked an entire jalapeno from a plate and, hoisting it by the stem, popped it in her mouth. Then she continued to relay her anecdote while chewing contemplatively, never even breaking a sweat. I was truly amazed by her seemingly asbestos-lined palate at the time; little did I know I’d be eating whole jalapenos myself (at least I stuff mine with goat “cheese” first) two decades later.
One evening last week, I had dinner plans with friends and wanted to leave something for the HH to enjoy at home. After viewing at least a dozen enchiladacasseroles on otherblogs as a result of the Daring Cooks event last month (plus Celine’s Mucho Macho Nachos and Angela’s Time Crunch Vegan Enchiladas) I was craving Mexican food. We had all the ingredients on hand, so I thought I would whip up some of the HH’s favorite nachos. Of course, I knew that jalapenos were non-negotiable. Not to mention super-spicy salsa (arriba!). Plus, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make just a single platter versus the two we usually make: his, with ground beef and melted cheese; mine, with crumbled tempeh or tofu and cheesy sauce.
I grabbed all the ingredients and began prepping. Only one problem: the already-opened bag of nacho chips had been sitting too long, and the chips had lost their snap, bordering on stale. What to do?
Of course, I could have thrown them away. But that would have traumatized my inner frugalista. I could have given them to The Girls with their supper (“We vote for that choice, Mum!”), but that wouldn’t help with my dinner needs. What if I simply tossed all the ingredients into a casserole dish, and let them bake up? I envisioned a super quick, nacho-meets-enchilada dish. And so, the new, fast-food, ACD-friendly, Mexican nacholada casserole was born.
I mixed everything up and left it on the counter with a simple note:
Here’s a casserole for dinner. Heat at 350 for about 25 minutes, then take as much as you’d like. Have fun with The Girls!
xoxoxoxo kiss kiss kiss
Upon my return that night, I casually inquired, “Um, so how was the casserole?”
It’s true, the dish was so fiery hot it may have finally triggered the HH’s antiquated taste buds (in fact, you may wish to tone down the jalapeno screaming a few decibels in your own dish). True, I didn’t disclose in advance that this casserole was simply a new, unfamiliar twist on his oft-rejected vegan nachos. True, the HH was on his own that night, and would probably prefer to eat rose petals dipped in sand than have to whip up something of his own. Whatever the reason, the dish was a huge hit.
“That stuff was delicious!” he exclaimed. ”I loved it. You can definitely make that again.” (Hee hee). Even after I revealed that it contained tempeh and cheesy sauce, he was still enthusiastic. “Well, I don’t know why, but this time it tasted great,” he insisted (of course he forgot there hadn’t been a “last time,” since he’s always refused to try it in the past). Triumph!
I’m hoping this is the end of separate nacho platters from now on in the DDD household.
As is so often the case, the HH’s initial skepticism was overruled by the transformative deliciousness of my plant-based meal. And luckily, despite his natural penchant for meat, he’s happy to embrace a vegan meal “if it tastes good.” I guess that’s just one more reason why I’ve decided to stick around as we grow old(er) together.
* No, I didn’t really write, “HH” or “Ricki” on my note–I used our usual pet names for each other. But the HH would never speak to me again if I published them on the blog!
Layered Mexican Casserole
I call this “fast food” because it’s one of the few dishes I don’t make entirely from scratch. Jarred salsa is fine on the ACD if you find an organic brand with no added sweetener, vinegar, or other taboo ingredients. This casserole is a great way to use up less-than-fresh nacho chips (the chips absorb the moisture from salsa and cheese to become soft inside and crunchy on the edges of the casserole dish), but if your chips still crispy, feel free to assemble these ingredients in regular nacho fashion.
About 4 cups (1 L) nacho chips (or enough for 2 layers of overlapping chips in a 10-inch/25 cm casserole dish)–I used tri-color ones by Que Pasa
1 jar (about 2 cups/500 ml) medium or hot salsa of your choice (I used Neal Brothers)
** For ACD Stage I, use brazil nuts or macadamia nuts instead of cashews; use 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) powdered mustard.
Quick tempeh crumbles: In a large sauce pan, crumble one package (12 ounces or 350 g) tempeh. Add 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth or stock; 1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) Braggs liquid aminos, tamari or soy sauce; 5-10 drops liquid smoke or 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) smoked paprika; and 2-5 drops liquid stevia. Bring to boil over medium heat, then cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid is absorbed and the tempeh just begins to brown. Use in this casserole, in pasta sauces, sprinkled on salads, or in sandwiches.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Spray a 10-inch (25 cm) casserole dish with nonstick spray or lightly grease with oil.
Place a single layer of nacho chips in the bottom of the casserole dish, taking care to overlap so that little, if any, of the bottom of the dish is visible. Dollop about half the salsa randomly over the chips. Sprinkle with half each of the tempeh, beans, red or green pepper, jalapeno and olives; then drizzle half the cheese sauce over all. For the top layer, repeat the process, setting aside the peppers and olives; once the cheese sauce has been added, sprinkle the top with peppers and olives.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, until the casserole is hot throughout and the top of the cheese begins to brown slightly. Remove from oven and allow to sit 10 minutes before scooping out onto plates. Garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired. Makes 4-6 large servings. May be frozen.
This month’s SOS (Sweet or Savory) Kitchen Challenge asked readers to whip up dishes with spinach, and wow, did you ever take on this challenge with gusto! We received a dozen fantastic, creative recipes to try that all highlight the super-healthy leafy green. And yes, a few desserts are included as well!
Thanks to everyone who entered the challenge this month. As always, if you’ve submitted a recipe and I forgot to include it here, please let me know asap so I can add it to the list.
Here’s what’s on the menu with spinach:
THE SAVORY CONTRIBUTIONS:
Our very first entry was from Janet at Taste Space (Toronto) –a colorful and delicious Quinoa and Butternut Squash Spinach Salad with Cranberry and Pear. Well, I think the title tells you everything you need to know–doesn’t that just sound delectable? This savory salad is also a bit sweet with the pear and cranberries. Suitable for gluten free, vegan, sugar free, egg free and dairy free diets.
Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes (Dundee, Scotland) offers up a great recipe for Spicy Spinach and Potato Curry adapted from a recipe she found in one huge tome of a cookbook. Her pics look great (and check out the gratuitious cuteness of her new baby, Cooper!) This recipe is suitable for gluten free, soy-free, vegan, and ACD diets (contains coconut milk).
Kiersten from Full of Beans (Charlotte, NC )’s vegan Coconut Curried Chickpeas and Spinach looks like the perfect quick weekday dinner. I love a good curry, and with chickpeas AND spinach, you can’t go wrong with this one! Vegan, soy-free, gluten free, ACD-friendly and otherwise nut-free.
She also “uncooked” some gorgeously green Spinach-Hemp Flatbreads on which to spread it. Unlike many other dehydrated flatbreads, these remain soft, perfect for sandwiches. These both are vegan, dairy free, gluten free, raw, and sugar free.
Mom at the Gluten-Free Edge (Georgetown, Texas) decided that her Spinach Mushroom Pie should undergo a vegan revamp for this month’s entry! This is her remake of a long-time favorite recipe, and it worked out beautifully. The recipe is gluten free and vegan.
Chaya from The Comfy Cook is back this month with a fabulous Oriental Rice Pizza. This savory dish is filled with veggies and is a snap to make with its rice-based crust. It’s gluten free, sugar free and dairy free.
Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe (Melbourne, Australia) offers a cheezy spinach-based soup this month with her Pumpkin, Bean and Spinach Soup. While the recipe itself looks delicious, half the fun of the recipe is Johanna’s recounting of the experimentation that led her to it. And doesn’t the concept of tofu croutons just sound fabulous?
Valerie of City Life Eats (Washington, DC) has created a Lemony Spinach Pepita Pesto. With a unique combination of ingredients, this pesto would be delicious on more than just pasta. It’s gluten free, vegan, nut free, sugar free and ACD-friendly.
Aubree Cherie, who blogs at Living Free (Kennett Square, PA), decided to move out of her usual spinach zone with these Almond Spinach Biscuits. A great savory biscuit with a hint of sweet (dried cranberries), these treats were gobbled up by her significant other in no time. Definitely a fun (and delicious) recipe. Gluten free, sugar free, vegan and ACD-friendly.
My event partner, Kim at Affairs of Living, cooked up a fabulous Creamy Spinach and Celeriac Soup for those days when you crave something rich and healthy at the same time. The recipe is vegan, gluten free, sugar free, ACD friendly, soy free and nut free.
My savory contribution this month is a Classic Tofu Quiche recipe that I’ve had for years but never thought to post. The millet crust helps to make it quick, easy, and delicious! It’s gluten free, sugar free and vegan.
THE SWEET CONTRIBUTIONS (Yes, even spinach has a sweet side!):
Rachel from My Munchable Musings (WA) treated us to two sweet recipes this month! First up are these Spring Picnic Cupcakes, her take on the classic Strawberry and Spinach Salad–in a sweet mini confection! She’s also included a great bit of additional history and nutritional information about spinach here. These are wheat free, sugar free and vegan.
Rachel also created these adorable Green Thumb Print Cookies, that are gluten free! I love how the strawberry sits perfectly in the thumb print–seriously yummy looking. These are gluten free, sugar free and vegan.
Kim’s second contribution this month is her Invisible Spinach Smoothie. While you may have enjoyed smoothies with spinach before, this quick and easy recipe contains another veggie that you might not expect. Vegan, ACD-friendly, gluten free.
Finally, my sweet contribution is this Green Monster Muffin. Based on the concept of green smoothies, these muffins offer up spinach in a slightly sweet, hearty breakfast baked good. I’ve used chopped apples, but you could add in raisins or even chocolate chips to the mix if you like. Vegan, sugar free, gluten free.
Thanks again to everyone who played along this month. Enjoy these recipes until next month, when Kim–our hostess for June’s Challenge–will announce the new SOS ingredient.
The past couple of weeks have been beyond hectic here at the DDD household, what with a surprise party (at my place) for my office mate; a wedding shower (no, not mine–okay, breathe normally now); two new courses to prepare for my return to teaching next week (what?? Seriously, is my vacation over already?); and some heavy-duty baking from Sweet Freedomso I could deliver samples to a slew of people. Not to mention the energy it took to get over my excitement at having Ellen read my cookbook!**
With all this frenzied activity, I haven’t had a huge amount of time for cooking–at least, cooking anything that takes up more time than your standard elevator pitch. I searched through my mental archives for quick, easy recipes–and then I remembered Leticia.
Leticia (well, actually, I don’t remember her real name, but I do know it was seemed somewhat exotic to me at the time, and it started with “L” and ended with “A”), was a fellow don in residence when I was there during my PhD years. And who knows more about the ins and outs of “quick and easy” food than students living in residence over the long and lonely summer months?
Leticia (or was it Lydia?) was a new-agey, hip and–to my mind–somewhat radical young woman. One evening as we sat out enjoying the summer air on the residence balcony, she casually revealed to me that she’d once married another student during her undergraduate years, simply to help him avoid deportation. Wow! How daring! How outré! How anti-establishment! How illegal!
I was in awe of her.
Lydia (or Leora) was tall and thin as bullrushes, with thick, frazzled brown hair that seemed to be suspended around her square face like a floating birds’ nest, its stray strands protruding at erratic angles. She had a tendency to wear loose cotton dresses that were either tie-dyed or hand-painted, sporting faded splotches of color like an artist’s smock that had been bleached over and over. Leora (Larissa?) actually had a very pretty face, with large, heavy-lidded eyes and Angelina Jolie lips. And when Larissa (or Lorena) spoke, it was in a low, deep whisper like an FM radio announcer, as if she’d just unearthed a scandalous childhood secret.
Because of her Italian background, Lorena/Ludmilla informed me, she was an expert on pasta. One evening, when the two of us roamed the otherwise empty corridors in the residence hall, she invited me to share her pasta carbonara. I was entranced by how quickly it came together: she boiled the pasta, tossed it with a couple of beaten eggs and threw in crumbled bacon that had been fried as the pasta boiled. The final touch was a handful of green peas; the entire dish was then topped with grated parmesan cheese and a liberal grinding of black pepper. I was amazed at how creamy the eggy sauce was, and how well the smoky bacon complemented the almost-instant satiny coating.
Never mind that I don’t eat bacon any more; the idea of eating raw egg (the heat of the pasta supposedly flash-cooks it) is, to my current-day digestive system, repulsive. But the ease of preparation, the creamy-and-smoky texture and flavor combination–well, those still appeal. Big time.
So I set about finding recipes for pasta carbonara that I could adapt to my current dietary limitationss. And you know what? Not one of them contained peas! I’m not sure if the peas were Latoya’s own addition or if they were generated by my imagination, but I couldn’t conceive of the dish without them. So my version may not be conventional–but then again, neither was Lillianna.
After examining various other vegan pasta carbonara recipes, from Vegan Dad’s coconut-milk based to Urban Vegan’s with white wine to a more conventional recipe, I decided to go with my gut and create my own soy-free, wine-less version. I still wanted the sauce to be creamy and eggy (but without any resemblance to raw eggs). For the bacon, I adapted the tempeh recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance to create a super-quick, non-marinated version; and since I loved Loretta”s original creation so much, I retained the peas in the mix.
The result was a silky smooth sauce infused with a hint of smokiness from the bacon and a surprise burst of sweetness on occasion from the peas. As is our wont when I cook a vegan main course, the HH and I sat down to individual plates so he could doctor his up with something more animal-centric. With the the tub of parmesan by his side–something he perfunctorily dusts on every pasta dish I make–he decided to taste the pasta first, au naturel.
Slowly, he chewed, moving the penne around in his mouth, carefully assessing the flavor. He swallowed.
“You know,” he said, “it doesn’t actually need the cheese. I’m just going to eat it like this.”
It doesn’t need the cheese! He ate it just like that! TRIUMPH!
So we ate the pasta carbonara, the HH and I, both equally happy with its warm, filling, flavorful sauce and meaty, smoky bits of tempeh bacon. As he cleaned his plate, the HH pronounced, “I don’t think you could improve on this with anything.” (I nearly fainted.) ”It’s perfect as it is.” Well, knock me over with a feather! (Okay, it would have to be a pewter statue of a feather, because, as we all know, an actual feather would have no impact on me whatsoever. . .but whatever).
If you’re looking for a quick and delicious weekday dinner and feel like some pasta, give this a try. In no time, you’ll have a dinner that’s not only toothsome, but slightly unconventional and really hip, too. Like Lucinda. Or Leticia. Or whoever she was.
** (The quest continues–so please feel free to let Ellen know if you’d like to see me on the show! You will win a free copy of Sweet Freedom if I’m on! Click here to send her a comment about how talented and witty I am. Oh, and what a good cook, too. )
When you feel like something substantial but don’t have the time, try this quick and easy sauce. If you’re too rushed to make tempeh bacon, you can use diced smoked tofu, or your favorite brand of prepared “bacon”.
1 recipe of your favorite tempeh bacon (see above)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural cashew butter
1 Tbsp (15 ml) white miso
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp (2. 5 ml) turmeric
fine sea salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup soy or almond milk
1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth or stock
2 Tbsp (30 ml) potato or arrowroot starch
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen peas (no need to defrost if frozen)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) chopped fresh parsley
Prepare the bacon: cut the tempeh into strips as thin as you can manage (I got 15 strips). In a large frying pan, mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the tempeh and turn each strip over a few times to coat it in the sauce.
Turn on heat to medium-low and cook the strips for about 5 minutes until the sauce has begun to evaporate and the bottoms are browned; turn the strips and continue to cook the other side, pushing the bacon back and forth occasionally to prevent sticking, until the liquid ingredients have been absorbed and the bacon is browned and crisp on the outside, another 5-10 minutes. If the liquid is absorbed too quickly, add a little more water, as needed. Turn off heat and set aside.
Prepare the pasta: Set your water boiling in a large pot. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: In a medium pot, whisk together the cashew butter, miso, tahini, mustard, garlic, turmeric, nutmeg, salt and pepper until smooth. Very slowly, whisk in the almond milk, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and well combined. Add the vegetable broth and mix again.
Place the potato starch in a small bowl. Add about 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the liquid mixture and whisk until smooth; slowly add this to the liquid in the pot. Heat the mixture in the pot over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until it begins to bubble; cook for about a minute more, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and creamy. If the pasta isn’t yet ready, turn off the heat and cover the pot.
Once the pasta is ready, drain it and reserve about 1/2 cup (120 ml) pasta water. Add the pasta to the sauce pot along with the tempeh and peas and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until everything is warmed through, about 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too dry during this time, add the reserved pasta water (if the sauce remains smooth and doesn’t dry out, you can discard the pasta water). Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve. Makes 4 servings.
After many gruelling trials (So many brownies! So much chocolate! All that taste-testing! Ah, the sacrifices I make in the name of food blogging), I’ve finally developed a recipe for fudgy, dense and delectable brownies that are grain-free, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, egg-free, vegan, stevia-sweetened and ACD-friendly. Decadence never tasted so sweet!
For the recipe, a review of the NuNaturals stevia I used, and a giveaway, click here!
Update, April 28: The winners have been announced! Check this post.
[Sometimes, you just want to eat something now. I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
While reading other blogs lately, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of savory breakfast recipes. Having been on the ACD as long as I have (longer than some Hollywood marriages, longer than Edge of Darkness was in movie theaters, longer than a piece of Stride gum’s flavor, longer than the beards on those ZZ Top guys), I’ve been enjoying savory breakfasts for some time. But it does feel great to know that so many of you are willing to give them a try, too!
When I saw this recipe for Egyptian fava beans, I knew I had to try it. It’s a variation on Ethiopian ful, about which I’d read many years ago–and have wanted to sample since. In fact, I’ve wanted to try fava beans in general for ages, but have been deterred (now, don’t laugh) because they still hold such negative connotations since I saw the original Silence of the Lambs. I just couldn’t bring myself to attempt something that was so relished by Hannibal Lecter.
Get over it, I told myself. These are friendly fava beans. And no liver in sight.
And so, I cooked up the dish. I mean, the recipe seemed so good and so easy, I jumped right in–fava beans be damned! (If only all phobias could be overcome so easily.). This dish is made with dried favas (versus the Martian-green fresh ones, which are obviously not in season about now). I must admit that I cut corners and used canned favas–I knew they had to be well-cooked, and didn’t want to risk messing up my first attempt. Next time, I’ll buy the dried beans and soak ‘em first.
While not quite as spicy as ful, this dish is certainly rich with flavor. The favas are a bit more starchy than your average legume, which made them even more breakfast-like in my mind; though, of course, you could eat this at any meal. At the same time, they’re packed with nutrition: one cup of cooked favas provides a whopping 13 grams of protein, 9 grams of fiber, almost no fat, and 14% of your daily iron. Their flavor is a bit unusual, slightly sour–almost fermented–yet creamy, satisfying and addictive all at the same time. And considering I ate almost the entire plate in one sitting, I’d say they grew on me pretty quickly.
I had mine with Meghan’s version of “instant injera“–a quick and delicious, high-protein, flatbread. Overall, a delicious, savory breakfast–one that won’t leave you craving dessert!
I’m thrilled that I can finally submit this as an entry in River‘s E.A.T. World event–check out all of River’s amazing international dishes (and why not submit one of your own?)!
Side note: this is my last post before the HH and I head out on holiday for a week–to Florida! I was determined to spend at least some time in a warmer climate during my vacation from the college this year, and since my dad is there at the moment, it seemed a perfect destination. Thanks to everyone on twitter who recommended restaurants for this fast-food challenged gal.
Not sure whether or not I’ll be able to update from the road, so I’ll leave you with this nourishing breakfast (or lunch, or dinner) until I return.
See you all in about a week!
Egyptian Fava Beans (ACD-friendly: Phase I or later)
1-1/4 cups (300 ml) dried fava beans, rinsed and soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours with 1 Tbsp (15 ml) baking soda (or just use canned, rinsed beans, as I did)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large tomato, finely chopped (seeded if you want to be fancy)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt (or to taste)
pepper, to taste
1 small jalapeno pepper, sliced (remove seeds for less heat)
freshly squeezed lemon juice, to taste
Drain the beans and rinse well; place in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring to boil, then lower heat and simmer until extremely soft. At this point, you should peel the waxy skin off each bean if you like (not essential, but much better as the skins are quite chewy). Simply squeeze one tip of each bean until the bean pops out of the skin (tutorial here). (I did this with the precooked, canned beans, and it worked perfectly.)
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion; cook for about 5 minutes, until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft and just beginning to brown. Add about half the beans to the skillet and mash with a wooden spoon or spatula to create a bean-onion mush. Add the remaining (whole) beans, tomato, and heat through. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and toss the jalapeno slices over all just before serving.
To serve, sprinkle the beans with fresh lemon juice (I used the juice of 1/2 lemon) and drizzle with extra olive oil, if desired. Best served with flatbread. Makes 2 large servings.
[Have you entered the Cookbook giveaway yet? Choose any cookbook you like and you could win it as my Christmas present to you this year! Click here to enter--only one day left!]
I meant to post about this recipe yesterday, but somehow, I’m, er, running a tad behind schedule. How did I get so woefully tardy on my holiday preparations this year? Usually, I’m that student you always hated, the one who handed her essay in two days early. Or that friend who’s already seated, calmly sipping tea and reading The History of Love, when you arrive at the restaurant for lunch at the designated time. (Sorry, really. Seems I couldn’t help it. . .just anal that way).
But not this year; no sirree. I suppose I can attribute the shift in efficiency to a strange confluence of medical and dental appointments, late-in-the-term exams and massive marking duties, some broken plumbing and emergency repairs plus various and sundry other distractions scattered throughout the month. I could blame the influence of the HH (always a great fallback position) and his über laid-back approach to Christmas shoppingthe holidaysshovelling snow everything, leaving chores or errands until the last minute, which seems to work just fine for him but is in fact disastrous for me. Or I could blame this infernal candida (even better fallback position), which has been acting up as if sparked by the holiday spirit itself.
Years ago, I vowed I would never leave holiday shopping to the last minute. This pledge came after one particular Christmas in Montreal during my graduate school years. I’d flown “home” from Toronto to be with my family, but as a don in residence, I wasn’t allowed to leave the campus until December 23rd. The CFO suggested we wait until I arrived so we could shop together–on December 24th. “We’ll just start really early, before the crowds develop,” was her reasoning. It must have been the jet-lag, but it seemed logical to me, and I agreed.*
Entering the first shopping mall, I was overcome with a mounting sense of dread as we shuffled along amid the throngs, shoulder to shoulder with a mass of strangers moving in unison from displays of scarves and mitts to shelves of sweaters and lingerie to stacks of boots and books to walls lined with dresses and coats to counters replete with mixers, radios, food processors, mixing bowls, wine glasses, can openers, oven mitts. . . . within minutes, I was a little light-headed and approaching dizzy.
After about half an hour of such torture, the CFO and I looked around at the mob of seemingly lifeless bodies perambulating like automatons, no expression (or worse, grim determination) on their faces, moving as if compelled by some unseen, insidious force. . . wait a minute–did that guy have both his arms outstretched before him, palms toward the ground? Was that a little drop of blood I saw in the corner of that grandma’s leering mouth? Was that woman at the Henckels counter lifting that blade a little too high over the saleswoman’s head? Suddenly, we both decided we had to get out of there. Now.
With only a few meagre bags at our feet, sipping cappuccino (as I still did in those days) at a nearby café, we felt enormous relief at having escaped relatively unscathed from what seemed like the scene of the latest horror movie: Christmas Night of the Living Dead, perhaps, or Invasion of the Booty Snatchers, or The Lost Buys. Or, even more to the point, simply The Shopping Mall (Mmwhahahahaaaaaa!).
Nope, never again.
Okay, so maybe December 22nd is, in reality, not much better than December 24th, but at least I got the job done yesterday (with minimal dizziness or bloodshed). The HH, on the other hand, still hasn’t even started his Christmas shopping. Mwhahhaahahaaaa!
This salad will provide a refuge from the holiday insanity (or, perhaps, some rejuvenation after the Big Day). I came across the recipe on Shannon’s blog while catching up on blog reading (another area I’m woefully behind). The original hails from Molly, and, like all of her recipes, it’s a winner. It’s quick (start to finish in less than 30 minutes), satisfying and nutritious all at once. The combination of butternut squash (for just a hint of sweetness) and chickpeas (for protein) with a smattering of red onion (for bite) and aromatic cilantro (for–well, for deliciousness) is addicting.
I had it for lunch yesterday, then again today. The creamy cloak of tahini drizzled over the warmed squash base makes for a delightful contrast in flavors and temperatures, reminiscent of the all-in-one dinner bowls I wrote about a while back. In fact, I think this would be more than sufficient for dinner if served with a healthy grain or hunk of hearty bread.
*Of course it wasn’t jet-lag; there’s no time difference between Toronto and Montreal. It was just wishful thinking.
Warm Butternut Salad with Chickpeas and Tahini Dressing
Oddly, even though the original recipe is called “Warm Butternut Salad,” Molly’s instructions tell us to cool the squash and not re-heat it. I simply used the squash almost straight from the oven to keep the base warm, and to save time.
For the Salad:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1″ (2.5 cm) pieces
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) allspice (I’d go with 3/4 tsp or 3.5 ml next time)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
fine sea salt, to taste
1-1/2 cups (360 ml) cooked chickpeas, or one 15 oz (425 g) can, drained and rinsed very well
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup (80 ml) fresh cilantro, finely chopped
For the Tahini Dressing:
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
3 Tbsp (45 ml) well-stirred tahini
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced
3-1/2 Tbsp (52.5 ml) fresh lemon juice (not bottled)
2-4 Tbsp (30-60 ml) water, as needed
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash, 1 clove garlic, allspice, 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil, and salt to taste. Use a large spoon or your hands to toss the squash until everything is evenly coated. Turn the mixture onto the baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, until the squash is just tender (take care not to overbake at this stage). Remove from oven and cool about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil and tahini until smooth. Add remaining ingredients (start with just 2 Tbsp/30 ml water) and whisk until smooth; the sauce should be the texture of thick cream. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I had to add a bit more lemon juice).
To assemble: combine the baked squash, chickpeas, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl and toss gently (so as not to break up the squash). For individual servings, spoon onto plates and drizzle each individually with dressing. Or toss the entire salad and serve in a large bowl, family-style. Makes 4-6 servings. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.