Vegetarian Caesar Dressing

Caesar Dressing

Every year my Supper Club and I get together and have a tradition that includes a Caesar salad, paired with a buttery Chardonnay :). That being said, we have tried a few different recipes and this one is absolutely delicious and is much healthier than many of the recipes you’ll find out there. Whip it up, serve with some romaine and homemade croutons (don’t forget the Chard) and and you are good to go!

Be sure to check out my Kale Caesar Salad (using this dressing) that was featured on Mind Body Green!

Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
 
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Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Worchester sauce (vegetarian versions are available at health food stores)
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups good mild olive oil – add more if consistency is not as desired
  • ½ – 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Place the mustard, garlic, Worchester sauce, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth.
  2. With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until thick.
  3. Add the grated Parmesan cheese, starting with a half of a cup and mix well. Add more cheese until you have your desired consistency.

Serving Suggestion: This can be made in advance but be sure it’s at room temperature when you assemble the salad.

Photo Credit: Whole Foods

Crispy Polenta Stars with Pesto

Polenta Stars

My dear and very classy friend Alli hosts an Oscar party every year. She pulls out all the stops, red carpet included, so amongst our group of friends it is one of the most highly anticipated events of the year! That being said, there is no question that each year, I am thinking far in advance about what I can bring to this star studded affair. Sometimes it is fun to theme your appetizer or drink to the nominees but this is one that you can use year after year. By the way, you can check out Alli’s blog here. Beware, it will change your life!

Crispy Polenta Stars with Pesto
 
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Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups soy milk or water
  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Fine Sea Salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 cup polenta or fine yellow cornmeal
  • Pesto
  • Homemade recipe can be found here
  • Garnish
  • Pine nuts or shaved parmesan
Instructions
  1. Line an 8-inch square cake pan with parchment paper, and cut another piece of parchment to the same size.
  2. Place the milk or water, thyme, rosemary, and garlic in a pot over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain the milk into a bowl; discard the garlic and herbs. Return the milk to the pot and place it over low heat. Add the polenta in a slow stream while you whisk it in vigorously with the other hand. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring often, until smooth.
  3. Pour the polenta into the prepared cake pan, and spread it out in an even ½-inch-think layer. Cover with the other piece of parchment and refrigerate for about 1 hour. Cut the chilled polenta into 20 rounds with a star shaped cookie cutter.
  4. Meanwhile prepare pesto according to directions.
  5. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan and saute polenta stars until slightly crispy on either side. Top with pesto and garnish of your choice.

Notes: You can always use premade tube version if you don’t have time or don’t want to make your own.

Sweet Potato Curry

Potato Roti Curry

I made this tonight and it was divine. It is a soupy curry dish that is quite easy to prepare. While roti is traditional thing to serve with this, whole wheat tortillas or pitas are great accompaniments for sopping up the liquid. You can also saute up beans and spinach and serve over that too for a gluten free version.

Sweet Potato Curry
 
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Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1½ cups chopped onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1½ pounds)
  • 3 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled acorn squash (about ¾ pound)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (14oz) light coconut milk
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Combine first 6 ingredients; set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add spice mixture; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add potato, squash, and bell pepper, stirring to coat with spice mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in water and coconut milk, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil.
  3. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until potato is tender. Season to taste (I added a little curry powder at the end). Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.

Photo Credit: Cooking Light

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup

Roasted Veggie and Kale Soup

It is definitely becoming soup weather here in SF. This is your rainy Sunday afternoon kind of soup as it is a bit time consuming but definitely worth every minute of it!!!

Kale and Roasted Vegetable Soup
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and quartered lengthwise
  • 2 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges or 4 or 5 slices
  • ½ small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut lengthwise into ½ inch thick wedges
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cups or more of vegetable broth
  • 4 cups of finely chopped kale
  • 3 large fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15 oz can of Great Northern white beans, drained or homemade beans!
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush rimmed baking sheet with a thin coat of olive oil. Arrange carrots, squash, tomatoes, onion, and garlic on sheet. Drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast vegetables until they are brown and tender, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.
  2. Cut squash and carrots into ½ inch pieces; set aside. Peel garlic cloves; place in food processor. Add tomatoes and onion; puree until almost smooth. Pour ½ cup broth onto the baking sheet; scrape up any browned bits. Transfer broth and vegetable puree to large pot. Add 5½ cups broth, kale, thyme and bay leaf to pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat. Simmer uncovered until kale is tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Add carrots, beans, and squash to soup. Simmer 8 minutes to blend flavors, adding more broth to thin soup if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Discard thyme sprigs and bay leaf.

Photo Credit: Simply Recipes

Vegan Basil Pesto

Pesto

I’ve always kind of liked pesto but ever since the first time I made it from scratch, I’ve literally been obsessed with it. The smell of the fresh basil is unreal and it definitely tastes as good as it smells!

Vegan Basil Pesto
 
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Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of fresh packed basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ⅔ cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in food processor. Pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while food processor is running until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: This recipe does not have cheese, which is the taste I prefer but you can add 1/4 cup pecorino or parmesan cheese or nutritional yeast.

Photo courtesy of Writing in Circles.

 

Easy Overnight White Beans

White Beans

So what’s the deal with using dried beans rather than the canned kind? I had asked that question for a long time before actually doing it because I thought it was too time consuming and didn’t really make that much of a difference, boy was I wrong! Here are just a few reasons why dried beans are much better than canned:

1. Price. Buying dried beans in incredibly inexpensive. 1 can beans = Almost 2 cups and costs on average $1.00. 1lb dried beans = Almost 8 cups and costs on average $1.00. You do the math.

2. Sodium. Canned food is loaded with sodium where as you can determine how much salt you use when making your own.

3. Taste. I eat a lot of beans and there is no doubt that dried beans taste far better and more fresh than the canned variety.

4. Environment. Using dried beans is much better for Mother Earth than the processing it takes to can, ship, distribute, etc. canned beans.

5. Ease. Most people think it is so much easier to just buy canned beans, well sorry guys but with this recipe you can no longer use that excuse. Two steps, go to sleep and you wake up with delicious meal!

Easy Overnight White Beans
 
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Serves: 6-8 cups
Ingredients
  • 1lb bag of any kind of bean (for this recipe I prefer white beans i.e. cannelini, great northerns, etc. I use a slightly different recipe for pinto, black, etc.)
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • ½ cup white onion, diced
  • ½ cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup carrot, diced *Note: Trader Joes has a soup starter that has these three ingredients already diced for you for an even easier option.
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and cloves kept whole
  • 32oz vegetable broth + more water if needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Soak 1lb dried beans in 6-8 cups of water for about 8 hours. Helpful hint: Place beans in a bowl of water right before you are about to leave for work or if you are doing the quick soak method do this about an 1.5 hours before going to bed.
  2. Remove and beans or shells that float to the top. Drain and rinse soaked beans.
  3. Combine vegetables, vegetable broth (and extra water if needed), garlic and rinsed beans in a crock pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Helpful hint: Just turn it on right before you head off to bed.
  4. After about 8 hours, check beans and season with salt pepper and any other spice of choice. I like to add some hot paprika to mine! Cook until beans are the texture you want them.

Serving suggestion: Serve as a soup or drain and use on top of salads, as a side dish or in other recipes.

Pea and Mint Dip

Pea and Mint Dip

Want something a little different than hummus every now and again? The combination of peas and mint in this dip make it incredibly refreshing. It goes well on crackers, vegetables, bread, etc. Just dip and enjoy!

Pea and Mint Dip
 
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Serves: 2 cups
Ingredients
  • 1 bag frozen peas, thawed
  • Handul of mint leaves
  • 1 Tbsp garlic
  • 1 large avocado
  • ⅓ cup good quality olive oil
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor. Blend until smooth.
  2. Gradually add in olive oil until spread is the consistency you want.
  3. Serve chilled.

Serving suggestion: If you want a non-vegan version of this dip, add 1/2 cup of cheese of choice (parmesan, feta, manchego…)

Ravioli with Arugula and Pecorino

Ravioli with Arugula and PecorinoBuon Giorno from Italia! We are staying at a little house here in the North of Tuscany so I have been keeping up with some cooking and when in Tuscany do as the Tuscans do, right? We went shopping for some pasta and it is so fun to buy all the different kinds of pasta here. I had made this recipe in the past and after seeing all the delicious types of filled pastas they have and the fact that all the pecorino around here is so local and fresh, I knew it would be a hit. The arugula allows this pasta dish to feel nice and light while still getting to enjoy some pasta! Until next time… Ciao :).

Ravioli with Arugula and Pecorino
 
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Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen ravioli (any filled pasta ie. tortellini will work, I prefer vegetable filled but can do cheese or any type you prefer)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • Pepper to taste
  • 6 c arugula
  • ½ c shaved pecorino (parmesan works too!)
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook ravioli until tender, 7 to 9 minutes or according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, mash garlic and salt into a paste with the side of a chef’s knife or back of a spoon. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic paste and shallots and cook, stirring often, until just starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar, mustard and pepper; remove from the heat.
  3. Drain the ravioli well. Place in a large bowl and toss with arugula and the dressing. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

Serving Suggestion: This is also really great if you use pesto as the sauce in place of the shallot vinaigrette.

Recipe and photo courtesy of Eating Well.

Kung Pao Tofu

Kung Pao Tofu

I’m not the hugest fan of chinese food because I don’t like the thick sauces but my husband loves the Kung Pao at our local Chinese spot (we always sub the chicken out for tofu). It is actually quite good because it has a lighter sauce. So I searched far and wide to find a recipe that would give a lighter sauce – FYI, you’d be amazed how hard it is to find a Kung Pao dish without a few table spoons of sugar in the sauce!!! I ended up finding a great recipe at Eating Well but subbed in my own veggies that I thought would be a better combo and made some modifications to the sauce, to give it that extra little kick.

Kung Pao Tofu
 
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Serves: 2-4
Ingredients
  • 1 (14 oz) package extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder, divided (can be found in the spice section of most grocery stores)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons oyster-flavored sauce, (0yster sauce works if you are not worried about a vegetarian meal)
  • ½ teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp chili garlic sauce
  • 2 cups broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 2-inch strips
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, (omit or find gluten free soy sauce for gluten free recipe)
  • 1 bunch of scallions, chopped
Instructions
  1. Pat tofu dry and cut into ½-inch cubes. Combine with ½ teaspoon five-spice powder in a medium bowl.
  2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk water, oyster sauce, cornstarch, chili garlic sauce and the remaining ½ teaspoon five-spice powder in a small bowl.
  4. Add broccoli, red bell pepper and snap peas to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low, add the oyster sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds.
  5. Return the tofu to the pan along with peanuts and stir to coat with sauce; stir in scallions and soy sauce (if using).

Serving Suggestion: Serve over brown rice or grain of choice.

Easy Weeknight Paella

Paella

Both my husband and I have spent quite a bit of time in Spain. And there isn’t anything that brings you back there quite like a good paella. Everyone knows we love Spanish food, so for our wedding we received everything from paella pans to bags of traditional spanish rice to saffron. I figured it was about time to give a homemade paella a try, so we turned on some Spanish guitar music and enjoyed this delicious meal. This is an incredibly easy dish, that is not too hands on so its the perfect crowd pleaser that allows you to chat with your guests while making the dish. Buen provecho!

Easy Weeknight Paella
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups (32 oz) vegetable broth
  • 2 cups valencia/paella rice (if you cannot find, you can use arborio)
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 cans (15oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp spicy paprika
  • 1 cup frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 cups artichoke hearts, quartered
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon sliced
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a paella pan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is tender and translucent. At the same time, heat the broth in a separate saucepan until simmering.
  2. Pour the rice into the paella pan and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes and paprika and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the simmering vegetable broth and cook over medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until almost tender and almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
  3. Stir in the peas and artichoke hearts. Salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
  4. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.