Sunday, April 27, 2008

Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup

This is a slow cooker, no/low fat, vegan version of the Tuscan White Bean Soup recipe that I found on the Care2 website. I love the combination of white beans and rosemary. I have made this recipe both on the stove top and in the slow cooker and the texture and flavor are by far better when this recipe is made in the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Tuscan White Bean Soup

1 pound dried white navy beans
olive oil spray or vegetable broth for sauteeing leeks
3 medium leeks, white and tender green parts, washed well and chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 carrots, scrubbed and diced
5 cups water + 2 veg bullion cubes, or 5 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

Pick over and rinse white beans then soak them in water over night. Drain and rinse. On the stove top, in a large skillet sprayed with olive oil or splashed with vegetable broth, cook leeks over medium-high heat until they soften. Add celery, garlic, and carrots and cook until they start to soften, stirring frequently. Transfer above items to a slow cooker. Add beans and vegetable broth. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. When done cooking, use an immersion blender to puree about half of the soup. Add salt and pepper, to taste, at the table.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Provencal Lentils and Spinach

I love lentils and I love greens so when I came across a recipe on the Family Style Food blog,which includes the two together, I couldn't resist trying it. The bay leaf and thyme really make this dish stand out. I modified this recipe slightly. I usually double this recipe as it freezes easily, so left overs are never wasted.
This is delicious served over brown basmati rice or quinoa with a side of steamed asparagus. It also freezes well.

1 onion, finely diced
oil spray or water for sauteeing
1 cup French (Le Puy) lentils
2 3/4 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 low sodium boullion cube
2 cloves or 1 tsp minced garlic
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp red wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper
pine nuts or walnuts for topping

In a large pot, sauté onions over medium heat in water or with oil spray until softened. Add the lentils, water, boullion cube, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until liquid is nearly absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. Stir in garlic and spinach and cook 5-10 more minutes.

Remove from heat. Add thyme, mustard, vinegar, and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with pine nuts or walnuts. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Balsamic Flax Vinaigrettes

For the past two years I have been using the same balsamic flax vinaigrette on my salads. I will admit that I am slightly addicted to it. My searches for another suitable vinaigrette have been futile until now. I have been snooping around the recipes on Everyday Dish TV for the past couple of weeks, and lo and behold I found Julie Hasson's balsamic flax vinaigrette which is similar enough to mine that it passed my taste test, yet different enough that it gives me some diversity. Since asparagus is in season and one of my favorite things is roasted asparagus on my evening salad, I could not resist but give Julie's vinaigrette a try. I think I have a new addiction! The addition of the nutritional yeast gives this vinaigrette a sophisticated flavor and a bit more weight to take on the roasted veggies. Here is a link to Julie Hasson's Balsamic Flax Vinaigrette, which is pictured on the salad above, and below is the recipe to my old standby.

My Usual Balsamic Flax Vinaigrette

Combine the following in a large measuring cup:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup flax seed oil
1/8 cup Bragg's liquid aminos
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp dried Italian herbs

Blend together using an immersion blender then pour into a cruet.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Red Lentil Curry

If you are new to red lentils, this is an easy and delicious recipe from All Recipes to try. Click here for the recipe. Although the ingredient list appears long, most of it consists of spices, so if your spices are well organized this recipe will come together in a flash.

The only changes I made to this recipe were 1) substituting olive oil spray for the 1 Tablespoon of oil, and 2) reducing the curry paste to 1Tablespoon which I strongly recommend unless you have a gut of steel. I also used Penzey's sweet curry powder for curry powder called for. This recipe is so incredibly tasty, I could barely believe it was so easy the first time I tried it. It has become one of my standby recipes for busy days. The photo shows it served unconventionally, with quinoa on a bed of steamed kale.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Confetti Slaw

This is the salad that I make when I'm tired of my usual romaine or leaf lettuce salad. The festive colors of this salad remind me of confetti. If you are not a big fan of purple cabbage, simply decrease the amount in the recipe or serve this slaw over a bed of shredded romaine to balance out the flavors. Toss with your favorite dressing.

Confetti Slaw

1 small head purple cabbage
2 large or 3 small carrots, peeled
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 pint grape tomates, halved
1 small yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 small red bell pepper, sliced into strips

Shred cabbage in a food processor using the slicing blade. Shred carrots lengthwise in a food processor using the shredding blade. Toss with additional vegetables. This salad last 4-5 days in the fridge, undressed, in an airtight container. Makes 4-5 large servings or 8-10 small servings.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Slow Cooker Soups

Shortly after my vegan adventure began 2 years ago, I read a wonderful review of Robin Robertson's book, Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker, in Herbivore magazine. I ended up buying the book and a Breville slow cooker shortly thereafter. The rest is history. I use my slow cooker several times a week, primarily for cooking beans and soups. I have become so dependent on it, I don't know what I would do without it now. It is the perfect appliance for people like me who have very little time to spend in the kitchen, and has allowed me to have more variety of healthy, unprocessed foods in my diet.
Last week I made my two favorite soups from this book, Lentil Soup with Ribbons of Kale, (top photo), and Split Pea Soup, (bottom photo), subbing carrots for parsnips. For both recipes I saute my onion in olive oil spray instead of the amount of oil called for, to reduce the amount of fat in the recipes. Both of these soups freeze well.

By the way, every recipe I have tried from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker is absolutely delicious. I hope you get a chance to check it out sometime!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Banana Koffee Cooler

This is my staple, weekend, mid-afternoon snack in the warm weather months. So quick and easy to make and a great way to use up bananas that turn too ripe before you have a chance to eat them. Simply peel them and place them whole inside a ziploc freezer bag or container, in your freezer for later use in this recipe.

Banana Koffee Cooler

1 frozen banana
2 heaping spoonfuls of Pero - or your favorite instant grain beverage
non-dairy milk - I prefer Edensoy's Edenblend Rice Soy beverage

Slice banana into 1/4" thick coins and place in a blender jar or a tall cup if using an immersion blender. Add Pero. Add milk until bananas and Pero are just covered. Blend until smooth. Garnish with chopped dark chocolate.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Favorite Falafel Salad

When the weather gets hot, I usually just eat a large salad for dinner, with lost of greens, veggies, and beans. For a change this week, I tried out the My Favorite Falafel recipe on Epicurious, substituting the falafels for my usual beans. I made the falafels with soaked, uncooked chickpeas, as called for in the recipe, and cooked the falafels using olive oil spray in a skillet instead of frying them. I also used chickpea flour for the flour. The results were delicious. I think I ate 4 falafels before they made it to the table. Next time I will definitely make several batches at once. I used the leftovers for falafel sandwiches this week.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Spinach and White Bean salad

This is a veganized, almost no-fat, version of a recipe that I found on Epicurious. For the original recipe and reviews click here. This salad is truly a one dish meal. The flavors are so wonderful that all it needs is some balsamic vinegar for dressing. Anything more tastes like overkill to me. I also baked some mini-loaves of bread to go with it, but the salad alone was plenty.

Spinach and
White Bean Salad

Makes 4 main dish servings or 8 side dish servings.

1 1/2 cups dried white beans (navy or canellini)
olive oil spray
1 yellow onion, finely chopped or sliced
5 ounce bag of washed, baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes, not oil packed
15-20 garlic cloves, peeled*
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
balsamic vinegar
freshly ground black pepper

Prior to preparing your salad, soak the beans for 8-12 hours, then cook them on low for 6-8 hours in a crockpot. (I usually do this the night before I plan to prepare my salad.) The slow cooking will allow the beans to maintain their shape and will produce a wonderful flavor that just cannot be replicated by canned beans. When the beans are done cooking, gently drain them and rinse them with cold water. Set aside to cool completely.

Heat your oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a small oven safe covered casserole dish with olive oil spray. Place garlic cloves in dish, then cover and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Set aside to cool when done.

While the garlic is cooking, spray a skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until golden. Set aside.

In a large salad bowl, gently combine all ingredients. This salad stays fresh in the refrigerator for 3-4 days as long as it is covered tightly and not dressed with vinegar until served.

*To save time in last minute preparation, buy freshly peeled garlic cloves and cook garlic, onions, and/or beans a day or so in advance.