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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Layered Raw Taco Salad (for two!)

Growing up in Southern California, I've cultivated quite a taste for any and all Mexican food. So, naturally, I'm always looking for ways to spruce up traditional recipes like enchiladas or tacos. When I found this recipe for a raw taco salad on Oh She Glows, I was really excited to try it!
I really enjoyed how the traditional elements of a taco salad were made non-traditionally in order to incorporate vegan, raw versions of them. This taco salad was flavorful, fresh and cooling on a warm night and packed full of powerful raw veggie and protein sources. Satisfying and delicious.
My nut cream sauce came out very chunky, as you can see in the photo...I think I just overwhelmed my food processor by putting too many nuts in at once (it is quite small), and could've achieved a better consistency by processing them in batches.

Layered Raw Taco Salad
Walnut Taco Meat:
1/2 cup walnuts, soaked for 2-8 hours
1 & 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
fine grain sea salt, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)

Nut Cream Sauce:
1 cup macadamia (or cashew) nuts, soaked in water for 2-8 hours
11-12 tablespoons water (use as needed to achieve desired consistency)
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste
fine grain sea salt, to taste

3-Minute Guacamole:
1 large ripe avocado
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 small tomato, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste

Other Salad Ingredients:
greens of choice
salsa of choice
green onion
crackers or chips 

Taco meat: In a food processor (or by hand), pulse (or chop) the ingredients until combined. Make sure to leave the walnuts chunky. Remove and set aside.
Cream sauce: Drain and rinse the soaked nuts. Add them into a processor and process. Stream in about 1/2 cup water and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice. Add more water as needed to achieve your desired consistency. The nut sauce should be super smooth and not grainy. Add salt to taste.
Guacamole: In a medium-sized bowl, mash the avocado flesh with a fork, leaving some chunks. Stir in the chopped tomato, red onion, lime juice, and seasonings to taste.
To assemble: (per bowl) Add a hefty base of greens in a large bowl followed by a heaping 1/4 cup scoop of guacamole in the middle. Spoon on 2 tablespoons of salsa over the greens followed by half of the taco meat. Add a couple tablespoons of cream into a plastic baggie, snip off end, and pipe over top the taco meat. Garnish with a chopped green onion and leftover chopped tomato and red onion. Place a few crackers/chips into the salad before serving.

Observe awkwardly chunky nut cream sauce...not so pretty but still tasty! Practice makes perfect =)

Bottom line: A healthy and tasty twist on a basic Mexican recipe, I would highly recommend this to any raw vegan foodies out there...and to those of you that aren't, just for the experience! Fun, unusual, and impressive to family and friends!

Recipe found here on Oh She Glows.

Grilled Tofu with Pineapple Salsa and Coconut Rice

Yet another recipe courtesy of Oh She Glows, this recipe is adventurous and delicious. It features a variety of flavors, from the delicate flavoring of the tofu to the spicy salsa to the sweetened rice. I highly recommend it if you need to break out of a boring dinner routine into an island-inspired flavor extravaganza!

Grilled Tofu with Pineapple Salsa and Coconut Rice
for the tofu:
1 package firm or extra-firm tofu
cooking oil for brushing
Herbamare or salt, for seasoning
for the coconut rice:
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup dry/uncooked short grain brown rice
1 can (400ml) light coconut milk
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
Sprinkle of nutmeg  
 for the pineapple salsa (this makes over 5 cups, so you may want to only make half of a batch!):
1 pineapple, cored & diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 jalapeƱos, seeded and diced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice (from 1 large lime)
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, minced
Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)

First, you need to press the tofu. Remove tofu from package and rinse with water. Place a couple kitchen towels on the counter. Wrap the tofu with another towel, place another towel on top, and finally several heavy cookbooks on top. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to soak out the water.

After pressing, slice the tofu block down the middle, lengthwise to make two halves. Now slice each piece diagonally to make 4 triangles total. Brush each side with cooking oil and then season generously. This tofu is plain, but you can marinate it if you prefer.

Preheat oven to 300F. Toast shredded coconut for about 8-12 minutes until golden. Rinse brown rice in colander and then place into a medium-sized pot. Add the can of coconut milk and stir. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat immediately to low. Cover with lid and cook for about 25-30 minutes until most of the coconut milk is absorbed and rice is tender. Remove from heat, keep lid on, and let it “steam” for another 10 minutes or so. Stir in brown sugar and optional coconut oil. Garnish with toasted shredded coconut.

Meanwhile, add all salsa ingredients into a large bowl, adjusting to taste. Pineapple may need draining if it is very watery (to do this, place it in a colander for ~10 minutes prior to adding to the salsa mixture).

To grill the tofu, preheat the bbq grill for about 15-30 minutes  on high. Turn heat down to medium/low. Carefully, grease the grill with a cooking oil safe for high heat (e.g., canola, sunflower, safflower, or sesame). Grill the tofu for about 5 minutes on each side (this will vary). Be sure not to overcook the tofu or it will be dry. (**I don't own a real barbeque, just a miniature one without a top. So, to speed things up, I simply fried the tofu for a few minutes on each side. It didn't get a grilled flavor but was still tasty, especially because the other parts of this dish are so flavorful).

To serve, poon coconut rice on a plate and sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg if desired. Add grilled tofu next and then spoon over a generous amount of pineapple salsa. Sprinkle everything with more toasted coconut and garnish with mint leaves. Feel free to serve with a bit of BBQ sauce on the side to spruce up the tofu.

 Bottom line: This was an incredibly flavorful, sweet-and-spicy dish that I'd recommend for any palate craving some adventure. Also a great way to use up lots of aging kitchen produce, if you tend to have that problem like I do =)

Recipe found here on Oh She Glows.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Parmesan

I LOVE squash...all kinds, any meal, give me ways to cook squash up yummy and I will try them! This recipe, yet another from the wonderful Oh She Glows, was a tasty side dish with a nutty flavor perfect for fall weather. I will use a little more garlic next time around for more oomph (the nut flavor is very strong as is), but overall really enjoyed this dish.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Kale and Almond Parmesan
2-2.5 pound butternut squash
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
1 cup de-stemmed and roughly chopped Lacinato kale
1/4 cup almonds
1/4 cup pecans
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1/8th teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400F and lightly grease a casserole dish with oil.
 Peel the squash. Thinly slice off the bottom and top and then slice through the middle lengthwise to make two halves. Remove seeds & guts with a grapefruit spoon or ice cream scoop. Chop two halves into 1-inch chunks and place into casserole dish.
Add minced garlic, parsley, oil, and salt into casserole dish and stir until well combined with the squash. Do not add the kale yet.
Cover casserole dish with a lid (or tin foil with a few holes poked) and bake at 400F for about 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, process the parmesan ingredients together until chunky (or just chop by hand and mix in a bowl). Make sure to leave lots of nut pieces for texture. I used a mini processor and it worked great with minimal clean up.
After about 45 minutes (or when squash is just fork tender), remove from the oven and reduce heat to 350F. Stir in the chopped kale and sprinkle the parmesan all over the squash. Bake for another 5-8 minutes, until the nuts are lightly toasted. Watch closely so you don’t burn them. Remove and serve.

Bottom Line: A yummy dish with interesting flavors and textures, perfect for fall!

 Recipe found here on Oh She Glows.

Oil Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

I stumbled upon this recipe on one of my favorite websites, Oh She Glows. What intrigued me most about it was it is healthy enough to stand as a snack or breakfast item, but also sweet enough to be dessert.
These muffins came out very well, were slightly dry but that would be my only complaint. They were chocolatey and delicious!

Oil Free Chocolate Zucchini Muffins
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water)
1 & 1/4 cup lightly packed shredded zucchini, skin left on
1 & 1/4 cup almond milk
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
2/3 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly spray muffin with oil or grease with Earth Balance butter.

Mix flax egg in a small bowl and set aside. Grate zucchini using a grater box (regular grate size). Set aside.
Mix almond milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. It will curdle, but this is the point as we’re making vegan buttermilk.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar).
Mix together the wet ingredients (flax egg, almond milk mixture, maple syrup, and vanilla) and then pour over dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and shredded zucchini.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin filling each tin 3/4 of the way full. Bake for about 15-17 minutes at 350F, or until muffins slowly spring back when touched. A toothpick should come out mostly clean. Cool in tin for 5 minutes. With a knife, loosen around the muffin edge and transfer to a cooling rack until completely cool.

Bottom line: These are versatile, sweet muffins that will satisfy a chocolate craving but are also healthful!

Recipe found here at Oh She Glows.

Tomato Basil Risotto

So...I've been failing miserably! Ever since classes started in October, I've been crazy busy with reading and assignments. I've been cooking and baking, but not blogging so I sincerely apologize for that. I am hoping to get better about managing my time so I can still post routinely. But today I'm going to do a series of posts of recipes I've made in the last few months.

This recipe I adapted from my Vegetarian Planet cookbook. I just altered the non-vegan ingredients to their vegan alternatives. It also called for parmesan, which I left out. It was simple, to the extent that risotto can be (it's a slight pain in the butt), but was tasty and hearty. It was reminiscent of Italian flavors without being overly so, and just hard a nice creamy tomato flavor.

Tomato Basil Risotto
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups almond milk
2 tablespoons Earth Balance butter
1 cup minced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup uncooked Arborio rice
3 tablespoons white wine
1 ripe tomato, seeded and drained of juice, chopped fine
kernels from 2 ears of corn (about 1 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh-ground black pepper to taste

In a saucepan,heat the water and milk to a simmer. Keep the pan over low heat.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and the ride, and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add the wine and stir until completely absorbed. Begin to add the heated milk-water mixture 1/2 cup at a time, stirring frequently. Wait until each addition is almost completely absorbed (but continuing to stir often) before adding the next.

When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes and most of the liquid has been incorporated, add the corn kernels and tomatoes along with the end of the milk-water mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender but still slightly chewy. The risotto should take 18-20 minutes of cooking in all.

Stir in most of the basil and the salt and pepper. Spoon the risotto immediately onto plates, top with remaining basil strands, and serve.
Tasty and good-looking  =)

Bottom Line: This is a nice end-of-summer dish, while the veggies are at their best, but would also be yummy for a winter meal if you can find them. It is a tasty and hearty addition to any meal.

Recipe courtesy of Vegetarian Planet, with alterations.