Tag Archives: meatless monday

CSA #8: Summertime? Time for Summer Squash!

By this past week’s CSA, I had assembled quite a collection of summer squash, specifically the yellow summer squash variety. Why have I been carefully sealing the squash up and storing it in my crisper when I could have been cleaning it, chopping it, and cooking it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?

Well, the short answer is… I don’t really know. The longer answer, the answer that you know I’m going to expound upon because you read this blog and you know how long-winded I can get about trivial matters, is that I’ve become a bit of a hoarder when it comes to foods. Whether it’s a trip to the market or our weekly CSA, there are certain vegetables that I hold onto till the point of inspiration, and sometimes well past the point of inspiration. These are the foods that I can’t simply dump into just any old dish. These are the foods whose mere presence in my fridge makes me that much happier to be in the kitchen in the first place. These are the foods that are stored in the crisper until the brink of rot, just to be rescued at the last minute by whatever dish could use a little extra something. They were meant for so much more, but alas, time is a merciless force upon produce.

It’s a pseudo-fixation that is seemingly random as to the choice of its targets. For instance, though I use onions in almost every other dish I make, I have no intention of hoarding onions. It would make much more sense if I were hoarding onions, considering how often I use them, but instead, I hoard things like summer squash, for which I have limited (but delicious) uses. Is my hoarding inspired by my desire to keep close something that is not oft present in my fridge?

Or is it mere laziness and lack of knowledge? Perhaps I hold onto veggies that I don’t use on everyday basis because I simply don’t trust my ability to cook them effectively. Such was the case with the kohlrabi earlier in the CSA season. The bok choy. Even the radishes! (Although after finding that cold salad recipe, I haven’t had any issues using up my radishes.) Maybe my hoarding isn’t hoarding at all, but an insecure act of protection to keep the vegetables from being used incorrectly.

Anything in your crisper you’ve had trouble letting go of? If so, why?

Onto the bounty and bonus recipe!


Braising mix, sweet peppers, assorted tomatoes, summer squash.


Beets, purslane, eggplant, green beans.


Onions, Swiss chard, basil, carrots, potatoes.

Summertime Pasta with Eggplant and Summer Squash

Ingredients
– 1/2 lb to 1 lb of whole wheat pasta, prepared as directed
– 1 medium-sized eggplant, sliced into half-inch rounds
– 1 large summer squash, sliced into quarter-inch rounds
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 1/2 cup of roasted red peppers, sliced
– 1/2 cup of unsweetened non-dairy milk
– 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp dried rosemary
– 2 tsp dried basil
– 1 tsp smoked paprika
– Salt
– Ground black pepper
– Olive oil (for the summer squash saute)
– Vegetable oil (for frying the eggplant)

Prepare the squash saute
– In a medium-sized pot with a lid, saute the onions in olive oil until translucent. Add the squash, roasted red peppers. Allow to simmer at low heat until everything is tender, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Prepare the eggplant
– Pour the non-dairy milk into a shallow bowl. In a second bowl, combine the flour with the rosemary, basil, smoked paprika, salt and pepper.

– Coat your eggplant by first dipping the rounds in the milk, then by tossing them in the flour. Make sure to get a light, even coat around the whole piece, including the sides.

– Heat vegetable oil a large frying pan on the stove. Add the slices, frying until each side is golden brown. Set eggplant rounds on a paper-towel covered plate to cool and drain.

Plate your pasta
– A top of a generous helping of pasta place two eggplant rounds, then a scoop of the squash saute. For non-vegans, add a sprinkling of Parmesan or a few chunks of Gorgonzola.

Advertisements

CSA #6, the Best 80’s Movie to Feature Nuns and Dance Competitions, and Putting Gravy on Your Veggies

I spend most of June not believing it’s finally summer, so July is when the feeling really sets in. That can be a good thing and a bad thing. While I love warm weather activities, I tend to get more lethargic as the season makes its steady stretch to the end of August. Maybe it’s the heat or the sunshine or the overall slower pace of things, but I just don’t get very much done this time of year. Summertime is just about the best time to make excuses for inactivity.

That’s my half-assed excuse for not being especially prolific with blogging these days. My other, more reasonable excuse is that I am moving, therefore any extra time that isn’t spent packing is time that I feel like I’m wasting. Which is never really true when that time is put toward something I love, like blogging, but is definitely true when that time is put toward something like watching Girls Just Want to Have Fun on Encore.

Wow, the Dog Days really have me so lazy and distracted that I’m filling out a post with a movie trailer when I’m supposed to be focusing on our nutritious and body-enriching weekly CSA. Which is a shame considering out great our yield was (again) this week.

Kale and carrots

Radishes, sweet peppers, garlic, onion

Summer squash and potatoes.

I’ve taken to including a recipe at the end of these posts, showcasing just how we’re incorporating the CSA into our meals. This weekend, however, we didn’t do anything particularly fancy with what we used. We just made our favorites that much better with the addition of farm-fresh produce.

Better tasting, that is. Not necessarily better for our health. Observe Saturday night’s feast:


Yes, that is gravy smothering the corn, the potatoes, and the Southern-fried tofu. You might remember the tofu and gravy from a prior post. The corn is, admittedly, canned corn, drained and seasoned with salt, pepper, and vegan margarine. The mashed potatoes are a mix of the yellow and purple potatoes that came to us in our CSA and two Russet potatoes I purchased at People’s down the street.

The only gravy-less item on the plate is the slow-cooked kale, which will serve as my humble half-assed recipe for today. This method works equally well for collard greens, as well as broccoli and cauliflower.

[On a side note, take a look sometime at the beneficial elements of kale. Thanks to its high levels of antioxidants, beta carotene, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and carotenoids, it’s a nutritional powerhouse and damn tasty to boot. It’s also fairly easy to grow, so if anyone is thinking of starting a garden or adding to their bounty, it’s a good crop to consider.]

Slow-Cooked Summer Kale

Ingredients
– 1 lb (or so) fresh kale, rinsed and dried
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1/2 cup vegetable stock
– 1 tbsp tabasco
– 1 tsp red pepper flakes
– Salt and pepper to taste

– In a large pot, heat the oil, stock, and tabasco. Add the kale (you can keep it on the stalk if you plan to cook it for a long time, or tear off the leaves if you’re only planning to cook it for an hour or so), red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir until all the leaves are well coated, then cover and allow to simmer on low heat for up to four hours.

CSA #4 & Asian Slaw!

The third week of our CSA was the most adventurous yet, what with cauliflower, green kohlrabi, and a big bunch of bok choy. I’ll get to the eventual fate of the kohlrabi and bok choy in a minute, but first: CSA #4!

From left: kale, salad greens, brown rice.

Swiss chard, cabbage, broccoli

Green onions and radishes

There was a large patch of black raspberries growing, so one of the volunteers offered to make a batch of jarred preserves for the CSAs this week. We ate our way through it most of the weekend, smearing it on whatever neutral surface we could find. I tried to convince James to eat it with a spoon, but he had to draw the line somewhere.

Whatever.

Anyway, as to the fate of the green kohlrabi and bok choy, I was a little worried about spoiling if I held onto them past this week, so I made it one of my meal-planning objectives to figure out a good way to use them. A few of you had some really great suggestions. I especially loved the idea of making a nice vegetable stock with the bok choy, but with the summertime heat and the lack of open windows in my kitchen, it was a tad too warm for anything that needed to simmer for a long while on the stove top.

I was still riding on a cold salad high from last weekend, so I decided to take it a step further and experiment with a slaw based off of the bok choy, the kohlrabi, cabbage, and a big yellow bell pepper. Because I don’t have quite the right equipment to make a really shredded slaw, mine came out a bit chunky and extra crunchy. For a finer crunch, really shave down those veggies. A microplane works nicely – and I should get one, along with a knife-sharpening kit.

Summertime Asian Slaw

Ingredients
– 1/2 pound bok choy stalks, sliced down into thin strips
– 1/2 pound green kohlrabi, peeled and thinly sliced or shaved
– 1/2 pound green or purple cabbage, chopped and shredded
– 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 2 tbsp soy sauce
– 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
– 1 tbsp canola oil
– 2 tsp powdered ginger

– In a large bowl, combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, canola oil. Mix until well combined.

– Throw in veggies and toss in dressing. Add the ginger one teaspoon at a time. Mix until all ingredients are evenly coated. Allow to chill for an hour.

A Tale of Two Salads


Between having guests over on Friday evening, going to a picnic on Saturday, and our usual Sunday brunch-at-home, I feel like I’ve been spending every other hour of my weekend in the kitchen. Which, at least some weekends, is exactly how I like to be spending my time.

I don’t like going empty handed to any function, especially a picnic, so I thought I would whip up two cold salads and then cross my fingers and hope that they would remain tasty even after surpassing room temperature in the outdoor heat. I really need to invest in a proper cooler and cold packs if I’m going to be traveling with food. Luckily for this time around, both dishes survived the mugginess.

The first salad I made was a white bean, radish, and pea salad that was a modified variation of a member-submitted recipe on Chow. The radishes we had gotten in our first CSA had long since been devoured but we still had the half pound of pea pods. Everything else was simple stuff that I had on hand, substituting vegan cream cheese for the recommended tablespoon of yogurt.

The second salad was an improvisation based on both an orzo salad they commonly serve at Zenith and a suggestion from Mike on what to do with all the CSA garlic scapes we had received. The result was a garlicky pesto salad with a touch of oregano. I think it could have used more black pepper, but it was still pretty good. The recipe works the same whatever kind of pesto you want to make, so go with whatever you have on hand. Want an added crunch? Throw in about a half of cup of pine nuts. For non-vegans, a little Parmesan really gives this salad an extra boost of flavor.


White Bean, Radish and Pea Salad

Ingredients
– One shallot, minced
– 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
– 3 tsp lemon juice
– 1 tbsp vegan cream cheese
– 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– 1 15 ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed
– 3 –  5 radishes, thinly sliced
– 1/2 pound pea pods, cut in bite-sized chunks
– 2 tsp dried dill
– Tablespoon fresh tarragon, finely minced (optional)
– Salt and pepper

– In a bowl, combine shallot, vinegar, oil, lemon juice, and vegan cream cheese. Toss the veggies and herbs in the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined then chill for at least an hour.


Orzo with Garlic Pesto

Ingredients
– Half pound of garlic scapes, chopped
– 2 tsp fresh oregano
– 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
– Garlic pepper seasoning (to taste)
– 1 pound orzo, cooked as directed on box
– 3 tomatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks
– 1 zucchini, cut into bite-sized chunks

– In a food processor or blender, process the garlic, oregano, and olive oil until smooth. Add the garlic pepper to taste. Toss pesto with orzo, tomatoes, and zucchini, until pasta and veggies are well coated. Allow to chill for at least one hour.

Good Morning, Vegan Strawberry Cupcakes!


Strawberry season is in full swing. When I was a kid, strawberry season meant heading over to Trax Farms where for around two bucks a pound, you could pick your own berries and take them home, where many of them would not get eaten in time and would be thrown out in less than a week.

Strawberries are evocative of many of life’s pleasures: Sweet, crisp, a little tart, a wonderful thing to behold in so many ways, but all to quickly, they turn, they brown and get soft. White little spots of mold cover the stems. Overripe, they have limited uses, but they’re no longer the hand-held confection perfect for snacking. A little farther down the line, the strawberry isn’t good for anything, except maybe compost. So something that starts out so wonderful and appealing is, within a few days time, a rotting, disposable mess.

Luke, of the Food Bloggers Meetup, had a solution to how to use his large yield of strawberries from the East Liberty Farmer’s Market. Much like every neighborhood church, he decided to hold his own little strawberry festival and invite the bloggers into his home to consume his fruit before its time was past.

Because I also had strawberries to unload (and because I hate going to things like this empty handed), I decided to crack open the lovely and reliable The Joy of Vegan Baking and see what uses Colleen Patrick-Goudreau has for strawberries. After paging through pies and tarts and crisps and cobblers, I settled on an unlikely candidate: Strawberry cupcakes.

Most people give me funny looks when I tell them that I hate cupcakes. They don’t really believe me, and that’s fair enough, because I don’t hate cupcakes. But I do think they’re greatly overrated, and not just because of the cupcake craze that still hasn’t left this city, but because even as a child, I disliked the notion of cupcakes, a cake that was supposedly meant for hand to mouth consumption but never quite got there in a fashion that didn’t leave frosting on your mouth, on your face, on your hands.

And the cake was always so disappointing. Dry and crumbly. The frosting, even when good, was always too too much. As a child at birthday parties, I awaited the inevitable dessert with trepidation. While other kids went face first into their cakes and emerged somehow spotless and satisfied, I picked at mine with the slow patience and tact of an archaeologist and still somehow got icing on my clothes.

Anyway, so I don’t hate cupcakes as much as I think they’re a lot of fuss for little payoff. But many of my strawberries were going soft, and I was worried that they weren’t appropriate for most non-baked goods. I’ve made strawberry-banana muffins before, but they didn’t seem to be an appropriate fit for a dinner party. So strawberry cupcakes won out. And I’m glad that they did.

I topped my cupcakes with a variation on Patrick-Goudreau’s chocolate frosting, adding almond extract to give it a bit of Nutella-like flavor. Because the actual cake isn’t super sweet and the flavor of the strawberry is fairly mild, it takes well to almost any frosting. Don’t overdo it on the amount, however, cause too much frosting will overwhelm the rest of the cake. [If you are a frosting junkie, the actual yield of the frosting recipe surpasses the regular dozen cupcakes, so save the leftovers and consume in whatever way will please you.]

Strawberry Cupcakes

Ingredients
– 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 cup sugar
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 1 tablespoon white vinegar
– 8 ounces strawberries, pureed
– 5 to 6 large strawberries, sliced (optional for garnish)

– Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease muffin tin or line with cupcake liners.

– In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and sugar. In a separate bowl, combine oil and vinegar. Add the pureed strawberries and mix until combined.

– Pour the wet ingredients into the dry. Stir until just mixed. Pour batter into prepared muffin tray, about halfway in each cup.

– Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and tin, cooling the cakes on a wire rack. Frost and garnish once cool.

Chocolate-Almond Frosting

Ingredients
– 1/2 cup non-dairy butter
– 3 cups confectioner’s sugar
– 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 tsp almond extract
– 2 tbsp soy milk

– Cream butter until smooth, then add the confectioner’s sugar. Cream for about two minutes, then add cocoa, almond, and milk. Beat until fluffy, then cover and chill.

(Recipes adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau)

Good Morning, Vegan Southwest Quiche!

Are you a quiche eater?

A 1982 bestselling book, Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, firmly defined the egg, cream and cheese savory pastry as feminine and therefore beneath the standards of masculinity for any man who didn’t want to been seen as some namby-pamby New Age sort. The book goes on to describe this man as the sort who refers to his significant other as “life partner,” and who likely make the quiche, serve it to his partner, and wash up afterward. Needless to say, this man is not to be aped but to be despised and dismissed.

Due to the book’s 55 weeks on the bestsellers chart, “quiche eater” became briefly synonymous with a person too fancy to get his hands dirty. Having made more than a few quiche crusts, I find the insult to be a little ironic, considering how quickly the hands get floured, crummy, and sticky while forming the dough. But maybe the idea is that the quiche eater doesn’t make the crust.

Actually, going even further on this line of thought, the book admits that it’s perfectly masculine for a man to eat an egg and bacon pie that his spouse might offer him, but to make it himself would be deemed less than masculine. So it’s somehow less dainty to be waited on? Bruce Feirstein, you’ve got me thoroughly confused.

Anyhoo, there are many good vegan quiche recipes among my collected cookbooks, but for Sunday morning’s pie, I used what I had on hand and made a sort of Tex-Mex, Southwest pie with red onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and some of the field garlic we received in our CSA this week. Filling in for the egg and cream, I mashed in a pound of extra firm tofu. You can take or leave the turmeric in the recipe, but I think it gives the overall look a nice, rich color.

Word to the wise on tofu-based quiches: I don’t mind mine being a little loose and crumbly, but if you want a tighter, more gelled pie, use a food processor to blend the tofu smooth before adding it to the sautéed veggies.

Southwestern Quiche

Ingredients
– 1 9″ vegan pie crust
– 1 medium red onion, chopped
– 1 small red bell pepper, diced
– 5 or 6 fresh mushrooms, chopped
– 1 stalk field garlic, finely chopped (optional – but tasty)
– 1 pound extra firm tofu
– 2 tsp chili powder
– 1 tsp garlic pepper seasoning
– 1 1/2 tsp cumin
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
– Turmeric (optional)

– Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

– Saute the onions in oil until translucent. Add the bell pepper and continue cooking for three minutes. Add mushrooms and seasonings and saute until everything is tender.

– Crumble in tofu and turmeric, then stir briskly with a fork until everything is well combined and fairly smooth, adding a tablespoon or two of water if needed. Pour into pie crust.

– Bake the quiche for 40 minutes in the oven, until the edges are browned. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes before eating.

Tofu Meuniere


I spent most of the week sick with a pretty wicked cold which wiped out every bit of my appetite from Monday through most of Saturday. I ate to keep up my strength, but I lacked my characteristic zest for the meals I was eating. Even my standby favorites like Piaquadilo’s Cajun corn chowder and the vegan buffalo seitan wings from Spak Bros. did little to inflame my senses. I was congested, my throat was sore, and the idea of eating food, let alone preparing it, seemed like a chore.

This past week, while I was sleeping and moaning and spending as little time in the kitchen as possible, Nicole of Yum Yum posted her preparation of a Giada De Laurentiis recipe, Chicken Meuniere with Tomato-Parsley Sauce. I could tell I was finally coming out of the fog when, upon reading Nicole’s entry, I thought to myself, “Well that looks delicious. And I bet it would be totally easy to veganize.”

So Saturday, when the urge to cook started to creep back into my brain, I looked over the original recipe. The term “meuniere” refers to the process of dredging the fish, chicken, or whatever protein you’re using in flour before baking or frying. It’s a classic rustic Italian dish that is easy and quick to prepare, and for as few ingredients as it calls for, it’s an incredibly flavorful dish.

Based on the contents of my cupboards and personal preferences, I made a few variations, including substituting basil when I could not seem to locate my large canister of parsley. Also, because I like a thick sauce, I added some of the dredging flour to the roux. If you want a lighter, less creamy sauce, just skip that step.

Don’t forget some good crusty bread and a fresh green salad to go along with this dish. It’s a very refreshing dinner for a warm spring or summer night.

Tofu Meuniere

Ingredients

For tofu
– 1 pound tofu, cut into eight even slices
– 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp poultry seasoning
– 1 tsp garlic pepper seasoning
– Oil for frying

For sauce
– 4 to 5 Roma tomatoes, diced
– 1/3 Kalamata olives, chopped
– 2 shallots, sliced thin
– Zest of a small lemon
– 1/2 cup white wine
– 1 tbsp basil

– To prepare the tofu: Mix together flour and seasonings. Dredge each piece of tofu in the flour mixture until both sides are well-coated. Heat oil in a large pan, then add the tofu slices. Fry until lightly browned, then flip. Once all slices are cooked on both sides, remove them from the pan and keep in a lidded container.

– For the sauce: Using the same pan, add the tomatoes, olives, shallots, zest, white wine, and basil. Simmer for five minutes. If thickening, add a tablespoon of the flour mixture used to coat the tofu. Stir and cook until thick (but not too thick), then remove from heat.

– Plate the tofu, then cover with the sauce.