Vegetarian Spring Rolls

So, next to bruschetta, spring rolls are one of my favorite things. I absolutely love the texture and the freshness. This was my first go at making them and I must say, I was so excited when I enjoyed these beautiful fresh spring rolls that I had made myself.

I did learn some lessons along the way. Rice paper isn’t THAT easy to find. You may be able to get it at Whole Foods or other specialty stores but you can also get it online. I ended up getting Three Ladies Brand. Play around with the sauce to your desire. I tried 2 different ones and didn’t love either so I kinda combined two different ideas to make it my own.

Average Time: 30 minutes

Yields: 8 spring rolls

Ingredients

Peanut Sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

2 Tbsp brown rice vinegar

1 clove garlic, chopped

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/3 cup – 1/2 cup hot water

Spring rolls

8 sheets of rice paper

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 package (14 oz) organic extra firm tofu, drained

2 Tbsp tamari

1 small head of red cabbage, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

1 bunch of basil leaves, stems removed

1 bunch of mint leaves, stems removed

Directions

1. Combine peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, red pepper flakes and 1/4 tsp salt in a medium bowl. Thin with hot water (varies depending on the consistency you want your sauce).

2. Slice tofu into strips (approximately three inches long and 1/2 in by 1/2 inch). Preheat a saute pan with olive oil. Saute the tofu flipping occasionally until cooked to your desire. Add the tamari once the tofu is partially cooked. I prefer my tofu slightly toasted so I cook on a higher heat for a longer time each side.

3. Prepare a bowl filled with hot water. Dip rice paper in hot water until it starts to lose its stiffness and feel rubbery. Place rice paper on work surface and let sit 30 seconds. Layer ingredients on the third of the paper closest to you. Fold bottom of paper over ingredients. Fold sides, roll up (like you would a burrito) and place seam side down on plate.

4. Slice in half and serve with a side of peanut sauce.

Sesame Crusted Tofu Stir-Fry

I cook with tofu a lot so I am always looking for ways to make it a little more fun! I’ve baked, breaded, marinated but this was my first time crusting with sesame seeds and I was very pleasantly surprised. I modified based on the veggies I had in the house, but the idea for the recipe goes to Eating Well.

Average Time: 50-60 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients

Tofu and Marinade

1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu, drained

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced

1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tsp mirin

1tsp chile-garlic sauce

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil or just olive oil will work as well)

Sauce

1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

3 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp mirin or sherry

2 tsp chile-garlic sauce

2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp toasted sesame oil (regular sesame oil or just olive oil will work as well)

Stir-Fry

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

1 Tbsp olive oil, divided into 1 tsp and 2 tsp

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 lbs bok choy, trimmed and very coarsely chopped

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups mushrooms, sliced

1 bunch broccolini, sliced

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

1. Combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, chile-garlic sauce and oil in a bowl. Cut the drained tofu into 1-inch cubes. Add to the marinade and toss to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. To prepare sauce: Whisk water (or broth), soy sauce, mirin, chile-garlic sauce, cornstarch and oil in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. To stir-fry tofu & vegetables: Toss the tofu with sesame seeds in a large bowl. Heat 1 tsp olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook, turning often, until golden and crusty, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add vegetables; cook, stirring, until the vegetables are crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.

5. Make a well in the vegetables; whisk the reserved sauce and add to the center of the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring, until slightly thickened. Toss the vegetables with the sauce. Transfer to a large shallow serving bowl and top with the tofu.

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

Double Tomato Bruschetta

I absolutely love any and all bruschetta. Tomatoes, Garlic, Basil, Olive Oil… can it get much better? In fact it can! This bruschetta is a staple of mine that I have brought to many parties and shared with many friends. It has that extra little kick that makes all the difference! This recipe was adapted from All Recipes.

Average Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8-12

Ingredients

6 roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1 baguette or bread of choice, sliced

Directions

1. Preheat the oven on the broiler setting

2. In a large bowl, combine the roma tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, basil, salt, and pepper. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes.

3. On a baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until slightly brown.

4. Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices. Top the slices with mozzarella cheese.

Serving suggestion: You can also spread a small amount of premade pesto on the bread slices before topping with the tomato mixture for a little more of a basil taste or sprinkle cheese (mozarella, parmesan, romano, etc.) on top. Photo courtesy of Real Epicurian.

Best Brussels Sprout Recipe

Since discovering this recipe, I switched from the person who used to avoid brussels sprouts into the person who seeks them out whenever they are in season. Anytime I’ve made this, I have had several people ask me for the recipe. This one is a keeper!

Average time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients

4 Tbsp olive oil, more as needed

12 medium french shallots (approx 2 cups), thinly sliced

6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

2 lbs brussel sprouts, ends removed and sliced in half

4 Tbsp pine nuts

2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. In a large saute pan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, stir 1 minute or until fragrant.

2. Add brussel sprouts, increase heat to medium-high and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir thoroughly.

3. Remove from heat. Stir in pine nuts and drizzle with lemon juice.

Serving Suggestion: I’ve also added in some spicy paprika (approximately 1-2 Tbsp, depending on your liking for spice). You can add this in immediately after adding brussel sprouts.

Photo Credit: Real Simple

Warm Garbanzo and Quinoa Salad

This is great for a side or can even be a dish all on its own. Between the spinach, quinoa, and garbanzos this is a powerhouse of fiber and nutrients. Easy enough to make of course. This recipe and image are courtesy of Women’s Health.

Average time: 25 minutes

Serves: 4 as a side, 2-3 as a main course

Ingredients

1 cup of quinoa (can use whole-wheat couscous as well)

2 cups of vegetable broth (optional)

1 1/2tsp chopped garlic

2-3 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced

2 carrots, grated

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 (140z) canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 Tbsp white-wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

6 c fresh spinach leaves, cleaned and dried

3 0z feta crumbled feta (optional)

Directions

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Suggest using vegetable broth but may use water as well.

2. In a food processor, purée scallions, gradually adding oil, vinegar, salt, and black pepper to taste. Process to a thick consistency.

3.  Coat a sauté pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add garlic, zucchini, carrots, and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add beans and sauté until heated through.

4. Add scallion mixture and quinoa to sauté pan; heat through. Let cool slightly.

5. Mix spinach, garbanzo bean mixture and feta (if using) in a bowl using tongs or salad spoons to toss.

Cilantro and Lemon Flax Vinaigrette

Cilantro Vinaigrette

What to do when a recipe calls for 2 Tbsp of a fresh herb but you have to buy the entire bunch? Make a salad dressing with it of course! I’ve made my own salad dressings for a long time because I prefer to use flax oil but it wasn’t until I received my hand blender off of my registry that I really understood the ease and goodness of homemade salad dressings. We are talking 5 minutes, literally, for a dressing that has no added preservatives and lasts a long time!

Average time: 5 minutes

Yields: 8 oz

Ingredients

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped

1 cup flax oil

1 tsp crushed garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

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This one is a little more time consuming but well worth it! I got this recipe from EatingWell.com

Ingredients

3 large dried pasilla, ancho or new mexico chilis

1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil

1 white onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

4 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water

1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu

4 cups chopped chard, spinach or kale

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 ripe avocado, cubed

2 cups homemade tortilla chips

Directions

1. Holding the chiles one at a time with metal tongs, quickly toast them by turning them an inch or two above an open flame for a few seconds until the aroma fills the kitchen. (Alternatively, toast chiles in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing them flat for a few seconds then flipping them over and pressing again.)

2. When cool enough to handle, stem and seed the chiles, break them into pieces and put them in a blender along with tomatoes and their juice. (A food processor will work, though it won’t completely puree the chiles.)

3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 9 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon and transfer to the blender with the tomato mixture. Process until smooth.

4. Return the pot to medium heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add broth and water. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat to maintain a simmer.

5. Drain tofu, rinse and pat dry and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch cubes. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the tofu and cook in a single layer, stirring every 2 to 3 minutes, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes total. Add the tofu to the soup and simmer for 30 minutes.

6. Add chard (or spinach or kale) to the soup and season with salt to taste, depending on the saltiness of the broth. Cook, stirring, until the greens are wilted, about 2 minutes, depending on the type of greens.

7. Ladle the soup into 8 soup bowls. Divide avocado, tortilla chips and cheese (if using) among the bowls. Serve warm.

Butternut Squash and Corn Soup

Butternut Squash and Corn Soup

When it is wintery cold out there is nothing better than a warm cup of soup. I, however, like my soups to be a little more hearty and a little less brothy. This soup was absolutely fantastic! Serve with a nice hunk of bread and you are all set.

Average time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil

2 leeks, trimmed, chopped and rinsed

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth

1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, (1 small to medium), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

2 tbsp minced fresh thyme, or 2 teaspoons dried thyme

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tbsp of Hot Paprika (optional)

4 cups frozen corn kernels

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/4 tsp salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions

1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add leeks and bell pepper; cook, stirring often, until the vegetables begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth, squash, thyme, cumin and paprika; cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.

2. Add corn; return to a simmer and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add crushed red pepper. Season with salt and pepper.

Photo Credit: WarmVanillaSugar