One of the best parts of eating salad can be the mix of flavors and textures in your mouth. My favorites include cooked edamame, sunflower sprouts, brown rice, tofu and fresh greens. When it's just me cooking for myself, I think about what's easy - which is often to toss the greens with a little salt and lemon juice and then lay leftovers (rice, beans, pasta) on top. It can be fun to throw in some fresh fruit or slice some snow peas on the bias or shave a vegetable like cucumber into ribbons. That's what we did in a class this spring that yielded this photo of strawberry cucumber salad. Erin Gleeson from The Forest Feast took the photo and led a workshop on food photography.
It was a Saturday night and we were going out to a fundraiser for the local children's theater. Dinner had to be healthy and quick, and we were going swimming in the afternoon to enjoy the Indian summer weather and get in some activity before the evening's sit.
What to make? I searched the internet and then found the answer on my bookshelf. I'd ordered extra tomatoes and needed to use them up. I used Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking to make the sauce - first halving the tomatoes and cooking them for 10 minutes in a saucepan, then running them through the foodmill and back into the saucepan with a chopped onion, two carrots and some celery.
When we got home from the pool, I heated the sauce while I let the water boil for pasta (a combo of white, brown rice and whole wheat spaghetti). It cooked for about 45 minutes. At minute 30 I poured in a half tablespoon of olive oil and stirred. The original recipe called for 1/3 of a cup, but I wanted a bit of fat to catch the flavor of the dish and help it stick to the noodles.
This photo is a professional version from Food 52. Mine didn't need the butter or the cheese.
Make your own pizza is a big hit in my house. I look at recipes a lot - and may have tried one similar to this one from Eating Well Magazine at one time or another, now I make the one from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Bread Bible, swapping out 50-70% of the white flour for whole wheat. Use a scale to measure and you'll only dirty one bowl! I've done it with whole wheat pastry flour and whole wheat bread flour, either works. The hardest part is getting the right water temp - 70-90 degrees. The important part is letting it sit for half an hour out, then refrigerating the dough for hours, a whole day or two is best. Then, remove the dough from the fridge at least an hour before you want to eat.
For toppings, I prepare olives, mushrooms,carmelized onions, tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella, roasted peppers and sometimes fresh tomato and chopped parsley or basil. I put it all in bowls and each person makes his or her own pizza.
New to my town is Pizzeria Delfina. It's on my list of places to try for their beautiful outdoor garden and the Pizza Napoletana (Tomato, anchovies, capers, hot peppers, olives, oregano) maybe minus the anchovies, and for their expertly prepared produce from purveyors like Mariquita Farm. Yum!
Sometimes things look better before I mess with them. The basket above was "picked" from my neighborhood farm stand (I live on a lucky street!) and then I used the broccoli, onions, potatoes and carrots to make a Japanese style vegetable curry that was okay. It would have tasted better with less time in the crockpot and some richer coconut or soy milk instead of my usual "not milk" inspired by Evan Kleiman but using 1/3 c. each almonds, coconut & oats.
The summer Slide
Driving my kids to and from summer camp has meant more meals out and more treats, than we tend to do in the school year. And yes, we try to mix it up, adding boba tea (no milk, no sugar, half lychee jelly) or small ice creams, but sometimes it's easy to spend a brief air conditioned afternoon with a true treat like the Snozen "Summer Sunset" pictured above. Noticing is a good first step toward change. So is doubling down on the planning. Getting to exercise (for me it's dancing at the gym when I can, or walking my daughter to camp when possible), cooking dinner in the afternoon (making friends with the slow cooker and rice cooker again and again) and some big time forgiveness and empathy. We're counting treats like this as multiple reds (although the shaving of the snow means it takes up more space on the plate than a small ice cream, there's lots of air too.)
When I joined my friend for a catered lunch of leftovers she encouraged me to take a picture. In addition to homemade tortillas and roasted tomato and tomatillo salsa, you see seitan with peas and mushrooms, black beans and cumin rice. Yum! She liked the roasted corn salsa best. And that was the recipe I threw together (lime juice, shallot, cilantro & corn) as I was reheating the other food! The hard part was the portioning. Eventually we packed up the leftovers and went out for a coffee. Most of the recipes are in some way from Terry Hope Romero's "Viva Vegan"
My daughter got a kick out of the shape of a carrot slice at a local Vietnamese restaurant. We shared vegetarian noodle soup and a noodle dish with shredded tofu and salad. We counted the fried tofu as red, all else yellow.
Title courtesy of Mollie Katzen, vegetarian cookbook author supreme. The recipe came from Vegetable Dishes I can't live without. The trick, besides cutting off the greens and steaming the bulbs, is a lot of garlic. I tossed the cooked beets in a warm pan with spray & garlic, then took them out and tossed the greens in the warm pan with more garlic til they wilted. Depending on the amount of water still on the washed greens you may not need anything else except a little salt.
Often (besides salad dressings) the hardest lower fat vegan substitute is what to put on toast or a bagel. One of my favorite toppings is cucumber, Meyer lemon, arugula, salt & pepper, or as in the photo below Affi's aubergine with tomato, cucumber & Meyer lemon. Yum!
My lunchtime pudla (indian chickpea crepes) were amazing thanks to some curry leaves from the back of the produce drawer, leftover chopped cilantro & onion from Tuesday's Rajma (kidney bean curry), a leftover roasted jalapeno from my Friday taqueria run and some killer Indian chile peppers with some serious kick. I only used half a chile, but I needed at least 4 Kleenex for my nose... What made it all come together was some amazing ketchup from Sir Kensington's that I found at my neighborhood Whole Foods. We'd had it in NY at Penelope, and I was amazed to learn that refills don't have to come carefully wrapped in luggage!
I "fried" them in a nonstick scanpan with only a squirt or two of nonstick spray. Yum!
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