Peanut Slaw with Dried Dates

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This was a quick and easy slaw using some Spicy Peanut Dressing I made the other day.

Dressing:

  • 2 TBSP peanut butter
  • 2 TSBP seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 lg. clove of garlic, crushed and macerated with salt
  • Juice from 1 lime, squeezed.

So I sliced up  a salad bowl full of cabbage, diced up two dried figs. Tossed with the peanut dressing. Delicious.

The mix of spicy heat and sweetness and citrus tang make this a great salad dressing. Cabbage is friendly to just about any dressing and the dried figs add just a perfect contrast.

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Curried Turnips and Kale

Curried Turnips and Kale

I put a cast iron skillet on the stove at a low medium (4 out of 10) heat and put about 1/4 cup of sauteed celery and onion mix in the pan to thaw. (When I got 10 heads of celery from Harvest Share, I sauteed half of them with onions and made the other half into mirepoix and froze them in freezer bags, so I just pulled out a bag, whacked it against the counter a few times, and dumped 1/2 cup of it in the pan.

While the onions and celery thawed in the pan, I peeled a turnip and cut into chunks a little less than an inch square. I added some salt and pepper and let cook for about 4 minutes. Coming back to stir it a bit, I added 1 TBSP of rice vinegar and 1 tsp of curry powder. I stirred a few minutes longer before adding 1/2 cup of fresh kale. I put the lid on and let it cook for a few more minutes, removing when the turnips were tender.

You don’t really taste the vinegar, but there is a lightness to it that comes from that bit of acid. The curry adds a nice bit of heat and the turnips are such a bright, sharp flavor that balances well with the earthy kale.

Caraway Carrot Sticks

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Preheat your oven to 350° F.

In a plastic bag, toss 1 TBSP of corn starch, 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tsp of caraway seeds, a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 pound of baby carrots. Shake until they are completely covered. Spread on a baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes.

I served on a bed of baby spinach and spring mix lightly dressed with balsamic vinegar. I liked the way the caraway, the little olive oil, the salt worked with the salad. Makes two large servings.

Wow,  caraway and carrot is delicious. The caraway balances the sometimes overwhelming sweetness of roasted carrot perfectly.

I adapted this recipe from Melts by Fern Green, a cookbook I am currently reading. I used baby carrots and olive oil instead of vegetable oil and served on a salad. Otherwise the recipe is the same. She served it as a side with a sandwich melt…but I am out of bread. Otherwise, sounds like a great idea.

Vegan Yam and Pear Soup

 

Put 3 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot on a medium low burner. Add 1 TBSP of cinnamon, 1 tsp of allspice, salt, pepper and heat until the aroma rises. Add 2 TBSP of chopped ginger, and I know that is a lot, but ginger is what we need to make this a savory soup, not a dessert soup. Ginger and onions, which come next. Add 1 yellow onion, chopped coarsely. It’s all going to be pureed in the end, so don’t bother chopping fine. Sauté until onions are soft and transparent.

Peel 8 small yams and cut into uniformly sized chunks, about 2 inches square. Toss into the pot with 32 oz. of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until tender, about 20 – 30 minutes depending on the size of your chunks. Test with a fork.

Peel 4 pears, remove the stem, and chop into pieces and add to the pot. Cook for 15 more minutes. Add 32 oz. of unsweetened coconut beverage. Let cool and puree using a Magic Bullet, blender, or immersion blender.

I used 5 slices of fresh pear (one sunk) and a couple baby spinach leaves to garnish. I was going for the artistically pleasing Rule of Five, but one did not cooperate. I suppose if I were a super arty food blogger, I would make another bowl, but that seems silly for this blog.

This makes a smooth soup that is about the consistency of a canned tomato soup, but the similarities end there. It is so good, it is not the least bit sweet, but tastes of yam and pear and these deep aromatic spices with a little bit of heat that lingers from the ginger. It is not the least bit sweet despite the pears. The ginger and allspice are important in grounding the flavor on the savory side. If you don’t have allspice, you could use nutmeg or cardamom. It’s also kind of addictive and from spoon-licking from when I served it up to reheat, I can tell you, it’s actually pretty good cold, too. It was tasty last night, but today’s its flavor is richer. This is no single-serving. It makes 4 quarts of soup, which was nice to send some home with friends and to save for lunches this week.

The unsweetened coconut beverage is in a white unlabelled box with the ingredients stamped on it for Oregon Food Bank. This product from Pacific Foods matches the ingredients in type and order of quantity.

Everything but the olive oil and spices came from the Oregon Food Bank’s Harvest Share program. Harvest Share is a program that provides fresh produce to low-income Portlanders through the Oregon Food Bank. This is a big contrast with regular food bank products which are dependent on donations and tend to focus on nonperishable carbs like rice, pasta, beans, bread, and crackers. It’s a fabulous program that I wish were available across the country because fresh produce is expensive and many food banks simply do not get enough donated, and what is donated is often well past its prime.

 

 

Pomegranate Relish or Dressing

Pomegranate Dressing or Relish

It’s pretty easy to clean a pomegranate, just cut it in half and pull the edges than knock it on the outside with a spoon and the seeds fall out. However, at Harvest Share this week, I got two packages of already cleaned pomegranate seeds. Sadly, however, they were already past their sweet spot and had turned sour and vinegary. I know some people would toss it out, since it was beginning to change, but pomegranate is acidic and just being past its prime does not make it a home for bacteria, just very sour flavor. I knew I could fix it and enjoy this fruit I really love. I just had to figure out how. Since it was already very vinegary, it made sense to use it as a sort of vinegar and make a salad dressing or a relish. But first I had to figure out what could balance the sourness. I pulled out aromatic spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and anise and tried a few grains with one pomegranate seed to see what I liked best. Both the nutmeg and the cardamon tried, but they added heat as well as balance and I wanted to make it more mellow, so I chose anise.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • ½ tsp anise seed
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • ½ yellow onion
  • 8 oz pomegranate seeds
  • 4 TBSP rice vinegar

I put 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan with ½ tsp of anise seed and heated to release the oils and flavor the oil. I then added 2 tsp of minced fresh ginger. I sliced ½ of a yellow onion into slivers and added to the olive oil, cooking until tender. I then added the 8 oz package of pomegranate seeds and cooked just until it started to break down. I added 4 TBSP of  rice vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. This made enough dressing for 4 large salads. It would also work well as a relish on the side where you might use cranberries, with pork, turkey, or sausage.

Here are a few salads made with the dressing. A simple salad with pecans and feta. A dinner salad with chicken sautéed with a bit of Old Bay. A dinner salad with some carne asada marinated in soy sauce and vinegar with some garlic, pears charred on the electric burner, and feta cheese.

 

Southwest Cole Slaw

Salad

  • 1 small head of green cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 1 small head of red cabbage, chopped fine, salted
  • 10 carrots, in ¼ in strips
  • 8 tomatillos, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced fine and chopped

Dressing: Drop everything in a blender or magic bullet and blend

  • 6 limes
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1½ cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce

The cabbage should be chopped first and left in a colander, salted to bring out the liquid so the slaw does not turn watery. Wring the cabbage out after it has sat for 30-45 minutes. Then add the carrots, onions, and tomatillos. Mix. Add dressing and shake to distribute dressing over the entire slaw. Do not serve for at least 30 minutes so the flavors begin to marry.

This is a very light, fresh cole slaw. Despite the Sriracha and the ginger, it is not that hot. It just has a bit of zing. The tomatillos add a tartness that is fabulous and there is the layer of lime that is right there, adding that citrusy note but it not bitter. I chopped everything very small to make it work well on sandwiches or even dropped into a bowl of chili or soup. There is just enough dressing to coat the veggies and soak in a bit, but not enough to leave a layer of liquid in the bottom of the bowl, so it does not saturate the bread and when you sauté it with some pasta or rice, it does not add a lot of oil.

This is a big batch. It made 4 quarts of cole slaw and I gave half to my best friend who went with me to Harvest Share. However, the thing with cole slaw that does not have a creamy dressing, that has no buttermilk, yogurt, mayo, or sour cream, is that it will last for several days…which means it is there for several meals and there is nothing more versatile.

 

Shakshouka with Tomatillos

Yesterday I got about 5 pounds of tomatillos from Harvest Share. I had eaten them before but never cooked with them. Last night I made a quick stir fry with them that was tasty. Seeing how they cooked, I wondered if they might work for a shakshouka. No harm in trying, right? Well, I tried it. I liked it. I will make it again. Shakshouka made with tomatillos is very different, but still very good.

To make the shakshouka, I heated my pan to medium, added 1/2 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of red chili flakes to my dry cast iron man and let them toast for a couple minutes, just long enough to make the air fragrant. I then added 1 TBSP of olive oil and 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, and 2 cloves of garlic and sautéed until the onions were tender and turning transparent.

While they cooked, I chopped up 6 small tomatillos. I added the chopped tomatillos and let everything simmer until the tomatillos cooked down. I squeezed juice from one lime to make it zing. After about 10 minutes, I added 1 cup of water and stirred.

When the tomatillos were broken down into a sauce, I cracked four eggs on top to let them poach. To be on the safe side, you can crack your eggs into a small bowl and slide them into the liquid to avoid breakage. I find that if I crack them on a flat surface, I don’t break the yolks and I don’t get shells falling into the dish either. Add some salt and pepper to the eggs.

I let them poach for a few minutes, covering them for the last minute to make sure they cook thoroughly, though not so the yolks get hard.

So this made four servings, or two with 2 eggs. There is a delicious tartness to this shakshouka. There’s gentle heat from the pepper flakes and some delicious umami from the the eggs. It was delicious and I will definitely make it again.

Carrot Salad

I made a sandwich using a delicious carrot salad. The sandwich is definitely not vegan, but the salad is. I ate it both as a salad and as a sandwich slaw. It worked great for both.

4 carrots, peeled and sliced using the peeler into lots of thin strips

8 green onions, chopped into small pieces.

Mix together with 1 TBSP of olive oil and 2 TBSP of rice vinegar,

Add salt, pepper, and a tsp of red pepper flakes. Cover and shake. Store in the fridge overnight for the flavors to soak into the carrots.

It’s a bright and tart salad. Carrots are sweet, so they balance the heat of the red pepper flakes and the tart vinegar and the bite of the onions beautifully. They add a nice bit of crunch and freshness to this sandwich.

Sandwich Slaw

I love slaw on my sandwiches. I love the freshness it brings, the crunch, the tang of vinegar. It is what really makes a sandwich. I generally just throw a few things together without hard and fast rules. There is no wrong way to make a slaw, but this slaw is kind of perfect. I use seasoned rice vinegar which is one of my favorite things.

I cut about 1/3 of a small head of cabbage into thin strips and then chopped the opposite direction for a finely shredded chop. This gave me four cups of cabbage that I put in a big colander. I sprinkled with a teaspoon of salt and let it sit, the salt bringing out the liquid, for several hours. (Actually, I left it overnight.)

The next day, I squeezed the liquid out of the cabbage, put it in a bowl and added

  • 1 cup of chopped yellow onions
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • 2 cups of chopped cilantro
  • zest from 1 lemon

I mixed these together. Then I squeezed the lemon and added the juice with an equal amount of seasoned rice vinegar, some pepper, and 1 TBSP of olive oil. It should have enough salt from the salting the night before. Season it to your taste.

I know the usual ratio in dressing is 2:1 oil to vinegar and this is the opposite, but this makes it tangy. It doesn’t exactly pickle the slaw, but it gives it a light, bright, zing that I want.

This makes enough for six sandwiches, more or less, depending on how much you like to use. I use this with bacon, sausage, or in this example, pulled pork. It makes a perfect sandwich or on a tostada shell, a delightful, fresh tostada.

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Sausage & Lima Bean Stuffed Portabello Mushroom

Portobello mushrooms were just 1.99 per pound at the grocery store last week, so I picked up a couple, knowing how much I love them stuffed. Then I went and used the spinach I planned to stuff them with for something else and had this crazy idea I would try lima beans. I have some frozen lima beans from Harvest Share and thought why not? After all, lima beans are not super moist, so they might be great stuffing.

I preheated the oven to 350° F while I mixed the following in a bowl.

  • 1 cup of lima beans (thawed in microwave for 1 minute)
  • 4 links of half-cooked breakfast sausage, peeled and cut (I heated in microwave for 1 minute and drained off the fat, peeled off the skin and cut into small pieces.)
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • stems from 2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg

Mix all this together and stuff into the cleaned caps of two large portobello mushrooms. I had some left over, I will use it with scrambled eggs.

Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

You can shred some parmesan cheese on top if you like, but it’s not needed. Lima beans are a great choice for stuffing as they don’t lose their shape or substance when cooked, so the stuffing does not become overly mushy. All the ingredients in the stuffing were chosen to remain their constituent selves while holding together. They worked. The stuffing was completely cooked, but not the least bit soggy or mushy…thanks to draining off the sausage grease and using ingredients with low water content. Paprika seems to be made for mushrooms and works well, too with lima beans and sausage. This is a very satisfying meal that takes care of all your umami longings while remaining relatively light and fresh. This makes two stuffed mushrooms which would serve two if accompanied by salad or soup, or one meal on their own.