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.

 

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.

Roasted Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Carrot and Black Bean Soup

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Wash and peel 1 pound of fresh, raw carrots. Cut into approximately 2 inch long pieces. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and some kosher salt. Roast about 30 minutes, turning once so they brown a bit on both sides.

About 15 minutes before the carrots are done, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil in the bottom of a soup kettle. Add 1 cup of chopped yellow onions, 2 bay leaves, salt and pepper and sauté until transparent, about five minutes.

Crush two garlic cloves and toss in to the onions and sauté for a few more minutes.

Add one can of diced tomatoes with green chiles and  4 cups of vegetable broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.

Remove the carrots from the oven and add to the soup. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool and puree in a blender, Magic Bullet, or with an immersion blender until smooth.

Drain 2 cans of cooked black beans. Strain and rinse the beans with water. Add to the soup and stir in gently. Cook on low heat about five minutes, until beans are done.

Serve. You could top with parsley, if you have it. Cilantro or pumpkin seeds would be delicious, too. Some red pepper flakes would heat it up if you dare. You could also add a dollop of sour cream, but then it would not be vegan. Makes 10 cups of soup.

This is a delicious blend of heat from the tomatoes and chiles and the rich, deep sweetness of the carrots with a bit of smokiness from the roasting. It’s delicious.

Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.

 

Apricot Pear Sandwich Slaw

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Chop about 1 cup of red cabbage and lightly salt, setting it aside while you make the dressing.

Chop up 5 dried apricots into small pieces. Heat a clean, empty saucepan (no oil, no butter) to med. Add about 5 anise seeds and warm until aromatic. Toss in the dried apricots and an equal amount of water, about 1/4 cup. Cook until the apricots fall apart and are tender, adding more water if necessary. When the water is all soaked into the apricots, add 2 TBSPs of rice vinegar and stir quickly. Toss into cabbage, season with salt and pepper to taste.

With just four ingredients, this achieves a subtle and complex flavor, blending the aromatic pungency of the anise with the sweet tartness of apricots, the bite of the vinegar and the fresh crunch of cabbage. It’s delightful on its own but I made it as a sandwich slaw to use with slice pork roast on bread.

However, before I started to make this, I got a wild idea to make a different kind of sandwich and ended up using it in an amazing sandwich made with Bacon, Eggs, Onions, Pears and Parm. This is plenty for 4 to 6 sandwiches, or a couple small side salads.

Pear & Delicata Squash Soup

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I have an abundance of pears so I decided on making a pear soup. One of my favorite soups is Pear & Parsnip Soup but I didn’t have any parsnips. I had a delicata squash though and thought it looked promising.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 Delicata squash
  • 3 small pears or 2 large pears
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 32 oz. or 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper
  • kosher salt

I put my soup kettle on a low medium with the olive oil. I added the diced onions and dried thyme, letting them slowly cook until transparent.

Meanwhile, I peeled and chopped up the squash, reserving the seeds. It made about 2 cups of chopped up squash, perhaps a little bit over.  Adding the squash to the pot, I stirred and let cook for 3 to 5 minutes. While they cooked, I peeled and chopped up the pears and added them to the pot and let it cook a couple more minutes before tossing in the wine and the broth. I turned up the heat so it began to simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes.

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While the soup was cooking, I rinsed the seeds in water and cleaned away the stringy pulp. Pushing the pulp against the strainer mesh helped in cleaning it away. I then heated a cast iron skillet in a dry pan with no oil to a notch above medium. I tossed the seeds in and toasted them with some kosher salt until toasty brown, stirring frequently so they did not burn. These I set aside for garnish.

I let the soup cook until the squash was tender and puréed with an immersion blender. Serving with a few squash seeds on top, it was a delicious soup. The flavor of the wine comes through without overpowering the soup. The sweetness of the pears and the squash make it lush and slightly sweet. It is a light and refreshing soup. This makes six servings.

 

Chop Salad

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This is a simple salad that is fast, easy, crunchy and delicious.

Strain a can of chickpeas and rinse in cold water. Let drip dry a bit before tossing in a bowl.

Chop up the following veggies to add:

  • Dice 1/4 red onion
  • Slice 2 radishes
  • Chop one celery stalk
  • Chop one Carrot
  • Chop some fresh cilantro

Mix together 1 TBSP of seasoned rice vinegar with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. The usual ration of vinegar is 1 to 4 to emulsify, but I like it a bit more vinegary. I do it about one to one, then add some salt and pepper.

It’s better the next day. Makes two servings.