Couscous and Cucumber Salad

This is a very quick, easy, and customizable dish. I found the recipe via the NYT, which includes mint. Even without the mint, it’s very refreshing, with a smooth, neutral, and delicate flavor. A really lovely lunch or a welcome side dish that goes with pretty much anything. couscous

•  1/2 cup Pearl Couscous
• 1 Cucumber
• 1 large tomato, or lots of tiny ones
• 2 T red onion, diced
• 1 cup water
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 1 – 2 T olive oil
• About 5 sprigs parsley
• salt & pepper

1. Lightly toast couscous in olive oil [enough to coat] over medium high heat, about 5 minutes.

2. Add 1 cup water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat, cover, and simmer until 10 minutes, just until tender.

3. Remove from heat, strain if necessary, and pour couscous in large bowl.

4. Chop cucumber, tomatoes, and onion. Add to couscous, along with lemon juice, herbs, and the rest of olive oil. Toss, let breathe, and serve.

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Tuna Melt

tuna melt

• 1 can tuna
• Bread, a roll, or a bagel
• 1 egg yolk
• 1 T minced shallots (or your chosen onion)
• 1 T lemon juice, more depending on taste
• 2 tsp olive oil
• 1/8 tsp or just a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar
• 1 tsp pepper
• dash salt
• parmesan cheese, parsley
• pickles, onions, muenster cheese, tomato, and/or other toppings/accoutrement

1. Set broiler to low and heat bread. In small bowl, whisk an egg yolk, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, and herbs. Whisk or blend until it thickens slightly. It will not be super thick, but that’s okay.

2. Flip bread so that it is softly toasted on both sides. Add tuna and shallots to egg mixture and blend.

3. Remove bread from oven, then spoon tuna mixture on top. Sprinkle with extra shallots and/or parmesan cheese. Broil on high for 2 or 3 minutes, until edges of bread begins to darken. Garnish with dried parsley and serve immediately.

Enchiladas

enchiladas

Enchilada Sauce
4 dried chili peppers, crushed or 2 fresh chili peppers, sliced
3 T – 1 mini can tomato paste or a few crushed/diced tomatoes
1 T minced or diced onion
2 T olive oil
1 T vegetable stock
1 – 4 cups water
1 T Adobo seasoning
1 T garlic powder or 1 medium garlic clove, minced with plane grater
1 tsp each cayenne pepper, cumin, cilantro
1/2 tsp each oregano, salt

1. Over medium low heat in small saucepan, heat chili peppers in olive oil. Stir occasionally, and if using fresh chili peppers, mash a bit as they soften. Add onion and allow to heat for 5 – 10  minutes.

2. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes or tomato paste, 1 cup water, and seasonings. Continue to heat and stir for 10 – 15 minutes. If pressed for time, heat vegetables for enchilada filling in separate sauté pan.

3. Add more water until desired thickness is reached. Use for enchiladas and store extra in refrigerator for enhancing rice, tacos, or salsa.

Filling
1 can or cup White Beans, lightly mashed
1 1/2 cup Grated Cheddar Cheese
1 Green Pepper
1 small yellow Onion
1 – 2 cups Enchilada Sauce
Rice (optional)

Preparation:

1. Lightly coat square casserole dish with sauce. Add filling to tortilla (technically, it is good to use corn tortillas but I find flour tortillas easier to manipulate) in stripe down the center, and fold over both sides. Put fold-side-down in pan. Line up as many enchiladas in a row (5 or 6) until pan is full.

2. Pour sauce over enchiladas and sprinkle extra cheese on top.

3. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or 400 degrees for 1/2 hour. You can also soften peppers and onion in a sauté pan beforehand and reduce cooktime significantly-that way you will only have to wait for cheese to melt.

4. Garnish with Parsley

Rice
1 c Brown Rice
1 packet Sazon Goya
1/2 c Lentils
1/2 c Onion

1. Cook rice and lentils in rice cooker.

2. After 10 minutes, add diced onion and Sazon Goya. Mix.

3. Serve with enchiladas. If using rice for enchilada filling, start rice cooker before making the enchilada sauce.

Fresh Tortilla Chips
5 – 10 corn tortillas
2 – 3 T vegetable oil
sea salt

1. Heat oil in pan with small surface area over medium heat. You will need enough to submerge a tortilla, about 1 cm.

2. Cut tortillas in half. Stack both halves on top of one another and cut into triangles.

3. When oil is hot, submerge tortillas and allow to harden. If using very shallow oil, flip at least once. Remove with tongs and allow to dry on paper towel or cooling rack.

4. Sprinkle with sea salt and/or other spices and serve.

Vegetarian Meatballs

meataball

These are incredibly satisfying, and, despite the lengthy list of steps, are pretty easy to prepare. The process is comparable to regular meatballs, just with more veggie cutting and less gross meat smell.

The recipe is adapted from the NYT, which specifies half hour waiting periods between stages, allowing the ingredients to cool. I adhered to this the first time, but was more casual about it the second, waiting for everything to cool rather than waiting for a full half hour. Cooking the veggies and lentils at the same time saves a lot of time, as they can cool next to one another, which is better than staggering cool times.  The final cooling step, where you put the entire mix into the fridge, might not be necessary either, but is useful as it allows time to review the recipe and clean up a but before they’re rolled.

« 400 ° // 30 – 45m per pan »

•  1 1/2  c  lentils
•  1/4 c olive oil
•  1 large onion
•  2 carrots
•  2 celery stalks
•  1 garlic clove
•  1 T thyme leaves
•  2 tsp salt
•  3 T tomato paste
•  8 oz mushrooms
•  3 eggs
•  1/2 c Parmesan cheese
•  1/2 c bread crumbs
•  1/3 c parsley
•  1/4 c mixture of basil & oregano

1.  Cook lentils: Combine with a little under 2qt water in stockpot and boil. Reduce to low and simmer 25m. When lentils are soft, drain and allow to cool.

2.  Dice onion, carrots, celery, and chop mushrooms. They will reduce in size slightly while cooking, but they will not be mashed up, and so will retain their basic size & shape of your cut. Mushrooms are most impacted by heat and so can be a bit bigger. Mince garlic.

3.  Cook vegetables: Add 1/4 c olive oil to pan and sauté onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt. Stir frequently until veggies begin to brown.

4. Add tomato paste and continue to sauté for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

5. Add mushrooms and stir frequently for 10 minutes.

6. Transfer to large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.

7. When cool, add lentils to vegetable mix. Then add eggs, Parmesan, bread crumbs, and spices. Mix until everything seems uniformly combined. I used a wooden spoon, but feel free to use your hand and smoosh as you go.

8. Refrigerate mixture for a half hour. Preheat oven 400 degrees.

9. Coat heavy pan with thin layer of olive or vegetable oil.

10. Roll mixture into meatballs or make patties for veggie burgers. The mixture is pretty soft and delicate, and can’t really be mushed tightly like a regular meatball. If you feel they are too loose, it is possible to add more bread crumbs without impacting flavor. Either way, they will stay solid after they are fully cooked, and become even more stable when cooled.

11. Roast for 30 – 45 minutes, flipping at least once. You’ll want to use a spatula or tongs for the first flip, then just jostle them until they’re nice and golden brown.

12. Serve whole with pasta, break up for lasagna, meat sauce, or ravioli, or freeze for later use.

Leek & Bean Cassoulet

cassoulet

Cassoulet is a meat-intensive French bean dish, a stew of remainders. This adaptation from Veganomicon by Moskowitz & Romero has the spirit and comfort of chicken pot pie. (They also include a seitan pot pie recipe that looks very good)

Most of the time invested in this recipe is dedicated to prep, so it may help to dice and cube and mince everything beforehand. Its probably possible to prepare the vegetable mixture in advance, because the finished casserole keeps fantastically for days.

• 2 potatoes
• 2 leeks
• 1 1/2c carrots
• 3/4c frozen peas
• 1 small onion
• 1 [15oz] navy or white beans, drained & rinsed
• 1 T fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
• black pepper, 1/2tsp salt
• 2 cloves minced garlic
• 2T olive oil
• 3c vegetable stock
• 3T cornstarch

Biscuits:
• 3/4c plain soy milk
• 1tsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 1/2c flour
• 2tsp baking powder
• 1/4tsp salt
• 1/4c (vegan) shortening

1. Boil potatoes for 10 minutes or until they can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from water and allow to cool.
2. Slice the leeks into thin disks and dice the onions and carrots. Over medium heat, sauté together until soft and just beginning to brown (about 10 minutes).
3. At this point, start mixing the biscuits. First, add vinegar to the soy milk and set aside to curdle. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.
4. Add garlic, thyme, s&p to the cooking vegetables. Cut potatoes into cubes and add along with frozen peas. Add cornstarch to vegetable stock and pour over all vegetables. Raise heat slightly and allow to simmer for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add shortening to the biscuit flour mixture. Combine with fork so there are large clumps. Add soy milk and mix until it is moistened. ‘Knead’ with fork until dough holds together nicely and isn’t extremely sticky. (More flour can be added if necessary)
6. The vegetable mixture should be slightly thickened. Add to casserole dish(es), leaving an inch or so to accomodate for biscuits. Gently roll and flatten into biscuits or fun shapes and place over mixture.
7. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes in order to slightly brown biscuits. Sprinkle with thyme and serve.

Tomato & Bread Salad

tomato bread salad
This is an extremely delicious alternative salad from The Sweet Life in Paris, by David Lebovitz. As its just a melange of ingredients, its very easy to customize– I decreased the quantity of most everything to feed two people and made some substitutions (red pepper, shredded cheese) for ingredients I didn’t have that day (cucumber, feta). It keeps well in the fridge, with the bread getting only slightly more saturated, and is really good the next day.

• 4c bread
• 1tsp Dijon mustard
• 1 1/4tsp coarse salt
• Black pepper
• 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
• 6T red wine vinegar
• 2/3c extra virgin olive oil
• 8 medium tomatoes
• 1 cucumber
• 3/4c pitted black or kalamata olives
• 1 onion
• 1 packed cup of fresh basil, mint, and flat-leaf parsley (mixed together)
• 1/2 lb feta cheese

1. Cut bread into cubes and toast in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning periodically for full coverage.
2. In serving bowl, whisk mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil.
3. Slice tomatoes and other veggies in half and squeeze out juice. Cube.
4. Add vegetables to bowl with dressing. Mix in herbs and bread pieces and toss well.
5. Crumble cheese on top and serve.

Zucchini Carpaccio

zucchini

• All the zucchini
• salt & pepper
• olive oil
• balsamic vinegar
• pecorino, romano, &/or parmesan cheese

1. Peel and slice (as thin as possible) zucchini. Season on both sides with s&p. Drizzle with olive oil.
2. Broil 8 minutes. Remove carefully, arrange in a pretty fan. Drizzle remaining oil from pan, balsamic vinegar, then sprinkle with pecorino/parmesan cheese and fresh parsley (we don’t have that in our garden but it was tasty without :) ).

This is from the inspiring Eric Ripert, from his series Avec Eric (which I love endlessly). Here he demonstrates how to make this in a toaster oven: http://bit.ly/1eCXplO

Tomato Soup

Tomato Soup

• 4-6 tomatoes
• a carrot,  a handful of mushrooms, slice of yellow onion
• 1 cup vegetable stock
• 1T olive oil, 2T butter
• 1/4c (unsweetened almond) milk
• lots of black pepper and thyme
• a couple pinches salt, garlic powder, and basil

1. Remove core from tomatoes, heat in large pot, mashing occasionally
2. Purée carrot, mushrooms, and onion with vegetable stock, olive oil, milk, and butter*
3. Add to pot, mix and continue to heat. Add a very generous amount of black pepper and thyme (seriously, lots of both) along with garlic powder, salt, and a touch of basil
4. Pour into blender/processor and purée entire mixture. Return to pot and continue to heat, seasoning as needed. Serve with grilled cheese :)

*I didn’t plan to add butter, but even with spices my soup tasted like raw tomatoes. Butter made it taste more like conventional soup.

Zucchini & Tomato Tart

zucchini tomato tart

• 2 tomatoes
• 2 zucchini
• 1/3 onion
• handful each: mushrooms, spinach
• 2 eggs
• 1/3c (almond) milk
• handful cheese (Parmesan, mozzarella)
• fresh oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and garlic
• herbes de Provence, s&p, olive oil

1. Roast sliced zucchini at 450. Flip once, browning slightly on both sides.
2. In casserole dish, layer chopped onion, zucchini, spinach, mushroom, and tomato. Pour over half mixture of beaten egg, milk, s&p. Add herbs and cheese (in this case, parm & mozz but goat or gruyere would be awesome).
3. Continue layering, finishing with egg mixture then full zucchini layer. Cover with sliced tomato, sprigs of thyme, & olive oil. Bake at 350 for 45m (or more, if needed).

(*inspired by this eggplant tart, which includes crust http://nyti.ms/18DwDUF)

Ratatouille

ratatouille

1 (or so) each:
• eggplant
• zucchini
• white onion
• red bell pepper
• large tomato (or a few medium)
• Garlic, olive oil, parsley, s&p, fresh Provençal herbs of your choosing

1. Cut eggplant and zucchini into large cubes. In olive oil, cook over medium heat for a few minutes, until eggplant softly browns
2. Remove from heat, set aside. Now heat cubed onion and red pepper in same fashion. Mash and mince 2-3 cloves garlic and add, along with some s&p. Set aside in another bowl.
3. Heat cubed tomato & olive oil
4. In large pot, layer 1/2 of tomato mix, then pepper & onion mixture, then zucchini & eggplant, then rest of tomato. Sprinkle parsley (lots) on top, drizzle olive oil. I put a few sprigs of oregano, lavender, sage, and thyme to infuse. Cover.
5. Leave on medium heat for a while, then remove sprigs and stir. 6. Stir every so often, and eventually remove cover and set to boil. Stir more frequently during this period. Simmer.

It’s done when you feel it’s reached a good consistency. I like mine soupy, so I don’t reduce very long and add a bit more olive oil here and there. If you like less liquid, let it boil longer or squeeze the gel/seeds from the tomato before you begin. If you’d rather make the movie version, look for “confit biyaldi”.

Serve with big chunk of fresh bread, and love your leftovers. :)