Thursday, June 26, 2014

Gingery Carrot and Tomato Soup

(recipe from

1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp. ginger root, minced
3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 lb. carrots (about 6 large), trimmed, peeled, and sliced
One 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
2 to 3 tsp. soy sauce or tamari
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or hot-smoked paprika
1 tsp. tahini

Heat a large, non-stick pot and add the onions.  Cook, stirring often, until they soften.  (If they start to stick, add water by the tablespoon.)  Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.

Add 3 cups of the vegetable broth, carrots, and pepper or paprika.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients, except tahini.

Transfer the soup to a blender (or blend half at a time, depending on size of blender).  Blend until soup is completely smooth.  Pour back into the pot.

Simmer, covered, on very low heat for at least 20 minutes to allow flavors to blend.  (The soup tastes better the longer it cooks, so if you have the time, give it longer.)  If it seems too thick, add additional vegetable broth.  Stir in the tahini, check seasonings, and add salt or pepper to taste.  Cook for another minute or two before serving hot.

(This is a nice, hearty blended soup and is easy to prepare.  I used the smoked paprika, and it gave a nice flavor.  Also used a little olive oil to saute the onions.  A good variation on the carrot soup repertoire - I seem to make a lot of them!)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Thai Veggie Salad

(recipe from PureWow)

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3 cups snow peas, thinly sliced
3 carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
1 bunch radishes, thinly sliced or shredded
1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
1/2 English cucumber, cut into strips
1 cup dried mango, thinly sliced
2/3 cup peanuts, chopped
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbsp. sesame oil (I used olive oil)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Sriracha sauce
1/2 cup seasoned rice-wine vinegar
1/3 cup peanut butter (I used tahini)

Make the salad:  Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

Make the dressing:  In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together until the dressing is smooth.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.  The salad gets better as it sits, and will keep up to three days in an airtight container in the fridge.

(Awesome salad!  I love chopping veggies, and that is a time-consuming part of this recipe.  I did use a food processor for the carrots.  Brought this salad to an island gathering by putting all the veggies mixed in a large ziplock bag and keeping the dressing separate in a small jar.  When ready for dinner, simply combined and served.  So easy!  A nice and convenient alternative to leafy greens for a salad, though you could probably serve this over a bed of leafy greens.  Everyone loved it!  Very flavorful.)

Braised Fennel Wedges with Saffron and Tomato

(recipe from

2 large fennel bulbs
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 tsp. fennel seeds
Pinch of saffron threads
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
Finely chopped fennel stalks
Finely chopped fennel greens
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. capers
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock (I used water)

Trim off the stalks and greens from the fennel bulbs and chop finely.  Set aside.  If the outer leaves of the bulbs look scarred, take a slice off the base and loosen them and set them aside for another use.  Halve each bulb lengthwise and cut the halves into wedges about 1-2 inches thick.  (Leave the core intact when slicing the fennel, as it's what really holds the slices together.)

Heat the olive oil in a wide saute pan over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the onion and fennel seeds, crumble in the saffron and thyme, and then cook until the onions soften and the steam releases the color from the saffron, about 7-10 minutes.  Add the fennel wedges and cook them until golden (even a little charred), turning them and the onions occasionally.  Once they are well colored, add the chopped fennel stalks and greens, garlic, stir in the tomato paste and capers, and add the stock and 1 tsp. salt.  Scrape the pan to release the juices, then cover and simmer until the fennel is tender, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve over a bed of cooked grains.

(Since I'm avoiding grains, I ate this soupy mixture with an egg cooked in it to round it out.  I also just ate it as-is.  The braised fennel is tender and has a sweet, anise-y flavor.  Really unique dish.)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Dill Pickle Potato Salad

(recipe from

3 lbs. small potatoes, halved or quartered
1 jar leftover pickle brine, strained and divided
2 Tbsp. minced shallot
2 to 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise, the low-fat kind without canola oil)
1 tsp. celery salt (I used celery seed)
2 Tbsp. chopped dill
1 tsp. ground coriander (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper and coarse salt, to taste

Set aside 1/2 cup of pickle brine.  Strain the rest into a large pot, add enough water to boil your potatoes, and salt it well.  Bring it to a boil, then add your potatoes.  Cook for 12 to 15 minutes; your potatoes are ready when you can easily pierce them with a fork.  Just be sure they don't turn to mush.

Drain the potatoes and immediately toss them with 1/4 cup pickle brine and the shallot.  Set aside to cool.

Mix your dressing:  combine mayonnaise, 1/4 cup pickle brine, celery salt, dill, salt, and pepper.  Taste; add more salt and pepper if necessary, and toss in some coriander if you'd like.  Once your potatoes have cooled, toss to combine.  You can serve immediately, but the flavor is better after a night in the fridge.

(What a neat idea!  The pickle brine makes the salad so tangy!  I found the dressing to be a little watery, and would probably add a tad more mayo next time 'round.)

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

(recipe from Whole Foods Market)

1 cup vegetable broth (I just used water)
1/2 cup quinoa
4 large ripe but firm tomatoes
1/2 small onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
6 oz. tempeh, diced
2/3 cup raisins
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (I used a smaller amount of dried thyme)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Bring the broth and quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan.  Lower the heat, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.  Meanwhile, slice the top off each tomato to expose the inside.  Use a spoon to hollow out the pulp and seeds and place in a bowl.  Chop the tomato tops and add to the bowl.  Set bowl and tomato shells aside.

Preheat the oven to 400F.  In a large skillet, combine onion and 2 Tbsp. water or oil.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion begins to brown, about 6 minutes.  Stir in garlic, tempeh, raisins, thyme, pepper and reserved tomato trimmings and cook, stirring frequently, until most liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa and parsley.  Stuff tomato shells with quinoa mixture, mounding it on top, and place tomatoes in a casserole dish lined with parchment paper.  Bake until tomatoes are soft and filling is just browed on top, about 15 minutes.

(While making this recipe, hollowing out the tomatoes, I wondered if it was going to be worth the work...  It was!  You may actually want to double it and make 8 stuffed tomatoes!  The combination of the quinoa, tempeh, raisins with the tomato is lovely.  And each tomato packs up nicely for lunch.)