Spring Tabbouleh Recipe

I have a confession. I have a seasonal addiction to asparagus. My heart skips a beat when I start seeing an abundance of those delectable little spears at the grocery store. I could eat it breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I make my entire family eat a obcene amount of asparagus for 2 months. Before my family puts me on TLC’s My Strange Addiction here is one of my favorite recipes involving asparagus (borrowed from http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/spring-tabbouleh-recipe.html):
1 cup fine bulgur 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch segments 1 cup peas, freshly shelled or frozen
1 garlic clove, crushed to a paste with 2 big pinches of salt 1 lemon, juice only 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch chives, finely chopped 1 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Fill a medium sauce pan with water and bring to a boil. You are going to use some of this water over the bulgur (to cook it), and the rest to blanch (quick-boil) the peas and asparagus.
Put the bulgur in a medium bowl, add boiling water to the surface of the grains and let it stand for about 15 minutes, just until tender. Drain and press out any remaining water and toss with a couple pinches of salt. Set aside.
Return the saucepan to the heat and bring the remainder of the water back up to a boil. Salt the water and cook the asparagus and peas for just about 20 seconds, just long enough for them to brighten up and lose a bit of their bite. Drain, run under colder water to stop the cooking, and add to the bulgur.
For the dressing, whisk the garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil together and season with more salt if needed.
To the bulgur, asparagus, and peas add 1/2 the chives and 1/2 the walnuts. Toss with a big splash of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Adjust the seasoning as well at this point. Garnish with the remaining chives, walnuts, and chopped egg and serve.
Serves 4 – 6.


Vegan Broccoli Slaw and Grilled Seitan Sausages

Remember the seitan italian sausages that I posted a few weeks ago? Well, I pulled a few of the extra out of the freezer and grilled them last night. Yum! I can’t decide if I like them better smothered in peppers and onions or dipped in yellow mustard? Next time we are going to go with sauerkraut and buns!

The real star of the meal was the broccoli slaw. Meijer had little baggies of mixed broccoli slaw on sale last week and I was inspired. I threw 3 of those, a cup of raisins, a cup of roasted and chopped peanuts, and the dressing together and viola! Vegan broccoli slaw salad! The dressing consisted of 3 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s Reduced Fat Mayo (which happens to be super cheap and vegan!), 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar. The vegan version of Broccoli slaw is so much lower in calories and fat than the ones made with real mayo or Marzetti’s coleslaw dressing. Trader Joe’s reduced Fat mayo is only 35 calories per tablespoon- added bonus.

I have been dying to try Happy Herbivore’s “bacon” bits for a while and thought it would be a great topping for the salad. Smokey sweet TVP crumbles were a perfect fit. They will be super tasty the next time we make a cobb salad!

Roasted Red Pepper and Green Bean Salad

I mentioned the amazing weather in my previous post. The warmer weather makes me want less crock pot and casserole meals and more salad like dishes. Green bean salad! I had the pleasure of enjoying this salad at a friend’s BBQ last summer. She was kind enough to share the recipe (since I probably ate half of it at the party).
It is also good practice for roasting your own peppers. Please do not get lazy and purchase the overly expensive jar of roasted red peppers. They are not even close to the real thing and taste so much different. And you need the practice. Once you roast your own- you will find yourself making them for all kinds of dishes. Humus, pasta sauces, scrambled tofu/ or eggs, and sandwiches. EVERYTHING! Just do it, you won’t be sorry.
5 red bell peppers
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds green beans
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup roasted almonds, chopped
1. Preheat the broiler. Roast the peppers under the broiler or over a gas flame, turning a few times, until charred all over; transfer to a work surface and let cool. Discard the skin, stems and seeds and cut the peppers into 2-by-1-inch strips.
2. In a small bowl, combine the shallots with the garlic, red wine and sherry vinegars and a large pinch of salt. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the beans and cook until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain and spread out on a large baking sheet. Let cool to room temperature.
4. In a large bowl, combine the peppers with the beans, tomatoes, and parsley. Add the shallot dressing and toss well. Sprinkle with the almonds and serve.

Breaking Records and Collards

My mostly vegetarian family and I reside in the great state of Michigan. We are breaking records here, not just the unemployment rate, but the weather also. This morning, the local new station announced that a 70 year record will be broken this week- the most warm days in March! It has been warm and sunny for days. DAYS!!!! That is why I am finding it hard to sit in front of a computer and blog. I am also finding difficulty in cooking. The family and I are spending so much time outside that we are eating a lot more peanut butter and jelly than we should.
I am buckling down today and finally posting a dish I made a few days ago. Collards with Lentils, tomatoes, and spices. I served it over basmati rice. With a side of roasted curry cauliflower. It left us wondering why we don’t eat collards more often? They are AWESOME!

1 medium onion, chopped 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 2 teaspoons garam masala 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes 1 bunch collard greens, thick stems removed and leaves sliced into 1-inch-thick ribbons 1 cup red lentils.
Bring 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Stir in garam masala and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and their juices with 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in collards. Cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine lentils and 2 cups water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 8 minutes or until lentils are tender. Stir lentils into skillet with collards and serve.


TVP Cacciatore Burgers on Portobello Buns


TVP Cacciatore Burgers on mini Portobello buns with horseradish mayo sauce. Mmmmmm. We were so excited about these delicious morsels that I almost forgot to take a photo. The oldest mostly vegetarian son got irritated with the dinner disruption and declared, “Mom! Why are you always stopping dinner to take a picture of your food!?”
These little babies can hold up to grilling. Success. And they taste awesome.

1 c. dry TVP
1 c. chicken flavored vegetable broth
8 oz. sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 red pepper
1/2 medium onion
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons low sodium tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 c. oat flour (or instant oats pureed into flour)
6 mini Portobello mushroom caps (for buns)
For the sauce:
2-3 tablespoons of mayo (regular, or vegan)
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Re-hydrate the TVP with boiling chicken flavored broth. Pulse together in a food processor: onion, red pepper, garlic, and crimini mushrooms until chopped extremely small (do NOT puree). Let the TVP cool to room temperature. Drain off excess liquid. In a mixing bowl, combine TVP, mushroom mixture, oat flour, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and parmesan cheese until well blended. Divide and make into 8 patties. The patties are now ready to bake or grill until browned on both sides.
*We grilled our patties at 400 degrees for 5 minutes each side. We also grilled the Portobello buns.
Apply a dollop of horseradish mayo and enjoy!

Grilled Artichokes

Here in Michigan, we are about to start peak artichoke season. They are available at every grocery store and usually very inexpensive to purchase. I picked up 2 yesterday and we grilled them for dinner last night. They may look scary, but whole artichokes are like candy to us. Here is how to grill an amazing whole artichoke:
1 whole artichoke
2-3 garlic cloves chopped
1 lemon (1 teaspoon of lemon zest and the juice of the lemon)
1 teaspoon of black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of melted butter (real butter or Earth Balance)
Fill a large stock pot with water (more than halfway) and bring to a boil. Trim the artichoke stem; leaving 1 inch. Cut the artichoke in half. Take a paring knife and cut just below the choke (the little hairs inside). Take a spoon and scrap out the choke. Add the de-choked artichokes to the water and boil for 20-30 minutes.
Take the artichokes out and let them drain. Mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Grill at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, marinating the artichokes with the lemon and garlic mixture.

*We did not bother to trim the leaf prickers, but you may want to.

Seitan Gyros!

Looks like the real thing huh? (But without the grease, calories, and oh a lamb didn’t die).
If you have never tried seitan, this may be the dish for you. It is really easy to make and very inexpensive. Vital wheat gluten (the main ingredient) runs about $3.99/ lb around here. I used 3 cups for this recipe (because I doubled it). The mostly veg husband likes it because seitan offers the same amount of protein as a beef filet- ounce for ounce. Also, seitan is nearly fat-free, with only 2 grams of fat per 4-ounce serving and almost no saturated fat. Like all plant-based foods, seitan has zero cholesterol content. Another bonus? My kids eat it!
I started with a basic seitan “log” but added insane amounts of Greek seasoning:
1 ½ cups vital wheat gluten
¼ cup nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 -2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
¾ cup water or beef flavored veg. broth
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon tamari
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 heaping tablespoons of McCormick Greek Seasoning
Preheat oven to 325°. In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for a minute or two. it doesn’t need long. Form into a log (6-8″ long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired. Serves 6.
I made a Tzatziki type sauce out of a peeled and slice englished cucumber, plain yougurt, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, and a dash of garlic powder. Served on a pita. The only thing missing was red onion slices. That would have made for a perfect mock gyro.

Stay tuned this week. I am trying out a few new dishes. I am still on the fence about St. Paddy’s Day though……….we need to have more than Jameson Irish Whiskey shots.

Asparagus Pesto

I was given a subscription to Rachael Ray’s magazine as a gift. I am not a huge fan. I don’t watch the show. In fact, the way she cooks with her hair down and jewelery dangling in the food, freaks me out a bit. I also have a problem with adding sodium filled chicken broth and EVOO by the cup full. I was flipping through her latest issue and thought I would try it. I switched it up a bit. Pretty darned good! The kids ate peas, spinach, and asparagus and never even knew it!
1 pound thin asparagus
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (I omitted these)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves (I omitted these)
1/4 cup fresh tarragon leaves or 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves (I used 3/4 cup baby spinach to replace the mint, parsley, and basil/ tarragon)
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
3-4 tablespoons pistachios, toasted
1 clove garlic, grated or made into a paste
Juice of 1 lime or 1/2 lemon
1/3-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound penne (I used whole wheat shells)
1 cup fresh shelled peas or defrosted frozen organic peas
Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish

Serves 4

Trim the tough ends from the asparagus. Store half of the spears upright in a glass filled halfway with water to keep it fresh for a few days, or until ready to serve. Chop the remaining asparagus and place it in a food processor. Add the mint, parsley, tarragon, cheese, pistachios, garlic and lime juice. Add the EVOO, pouring to a count of 6 (1/3-1/2 cup). Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until the pesto comes together. Place in a small container and store in the refrigerator if not using immediately.
To serve, bring the pesto to room temperature and place it in a large, shallow serving bowl. Slice the reserved asparagus spears on an angle into 1 1/2-inch pieces.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta and season with salt. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes, then add the peas and chopped asparagus and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Scoop out 1 cup of the starchy cooking water and add it to the serving bowl to thin the pesto. Drain the pasta, peas and asparagus and add to the bowl. Toss for 1-2 minutes to combine. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with the shaved cheese.
*Cook’s Note: The pesto can be stored for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Vegan Italian Sausages

We finally tried Isa’s Seitan Italian Sausages last night!(http://www.theppk.com/2012/01/vegan_sausage/). Soooo good! I left the pepper flakes out of the sausage mixture (for the kids), but added them back into the green peppers and onions.

1/2 cup cooked white beans (great northern or navy), rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth 1 tablespoon olive oil *or* 1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato paste is a great fat replacement)
2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic *or* 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed *or* 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Several dashes fresh black pepper

Before mixing your ingredients, get the steaming apparatus ready, bringing water to a full boil. The rest of the recipe comes together very quickly.

Have ready 4 square sheets of tin foil. In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones are left. Throw all the other ingredients together in the order listed and mix with a fork. Divide dough into 4 even parts (an easy way to do this: split the dough in half and then into quarters). Place one part of dough into tin foil and mold into about a 5 inch log. Wrap dough in tin foil, like a tootsie roll. Don’t worry too much about shaping it, it will snap into shape while it’s steaming because this recipe is awesome.
Place wrapped sausages in steamer and steam for 40 minutes.

These came together so much easier than I expected. Next time, I will be putting the pepper flakes into the mixture and using tomato paste instead of olive oil. I froze half the batch we made. They are going to be great on the grill!

I found another recipe from the Happy Herbivore (http://happyherbivore.com/recipe/vegan-italian-sausages/) that calls for TVP, beans, and vital wheat gluten. I am going to try that recipe next time. The mostly vegetarian family likes Isa’s sausages, but I am not fond of the texture of wheat gluten. The flavor was great though!

I am making Broccoli Daal tonight. Mmmmm Indian……………

Vegetable Strudel

Am I the last one on the planet who has used puff pastry? It is elegant looking and easy to work with. I found some puff pastry packages in the back of my freezer. I have no idea why I have them or when I bought them. But what the hell, I am up for an experiment! I watched a chef make apple strudel on You Tube yesterday and I was inspired. So here it goes:

I took out one sheet of dough and left it to thaw on the counter for 45 minutes. While this was happening, I proceeded to make the filling:

1 eggplant chopped

1/2 bunch of lacinato (or Tuscan) kale (ribs removed and chopped)

4 cloves of garlic- chopped

1 small onion- chopped

8 oz. baby bella mushrooms- chopped

1/2 c. grated parmesean cheese

1 egg- beaten (used for egg wash)

1. I sautéed all of the above (minus the cheese and egg) until very tender. Set aside to cool before placing onto  dough.

2. After the dough is thawed. Unfold onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough (with the steams, not against) to about 16 x 20 inches.

3. Egg wash the edge of the entire sheet and about one-third of one short side (preferably the one closest to you).

4. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over that one-third egg wash. Leaving at least one each of the edge to allow for seams to seal.

5. Pour the sautéed vegetables onto the dough.

Now, roll a bit of the dough over the mixture and pull in a bit of the sides:

And then flip it again, pulling in the sides:

Until it looks like this:

Place it on a greased cookie sheet and make slits in the top (every inch or so):

Don’t forget the egg wash:

Bake for 40-45 minutes at 375 degrees.

Let it cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack. Slice and serve:

 So there you go! It was so good. I am pretty sure you could fill puff pastry with any combination and it would come out great. Broccoli and cheddar. Samosa filling. Nutella? The mostly vegetarian husband is already asking me to thaw (the other box I found) and make apple strudel. I think that is enough buttery flakiness for a while. My thighs and behind thank me for that……