Friday, January 28, 2011

Broccoli and Dill Raita Slaw

During the holidays, I was benched due to my food aversions and sicknesses. I spent most of my time on the couch, snuggled up with my dogs, and watched hours upon hours of TV. My husband was more than happy with this arrangement, which generally consisted of Food Network during the day, and NCAA Bowl Games at night. 

While I used to watch Food Network like it was going out of style, I found that it was pretty redundant, and I was getting tired of many of the chefs on TV. I probably hadn't turned on the channel in a few years, but since I couldn't muster the energy to cook, I found that watching them cook was second best. What I found were many new chefs that I had never seen before, including Aarti Sequeira a Next Food Network Star winner. One of the episodes I watched contained this slaw recipe, which she served with a brisket and Mac and Cheese. I thought the slaw looked delicious and easy for a weeknight, but didn't care for the other dishes. I printed up the recipe, and stuck it in my binder, waiting for my desire to cook to return.

When I was working on my menu last week, I found this recipe in my binder and decided to try to brainstorm a vegetarian meal in which it would fit. Aarti is Indian, and though the slaw isn't overwhelmingly Indian in flavors, I decided to use other Indian elements to complete the dish. I love slaws on burgers, so I took the basic elements of a burger, and made them both Indian and vegetarian. For the bun aspect, I made a sun-dried tomato and garlic naan. The tomatoes were a last minute addition, but I have an abundance in the pantry - this recipe will be coming soon. For the burger, I thought of my favorite Indian dish - Chana Masala, a spicy tomatoey chick pea mixture. I used those same spices and created a chick pea patty to place on the naan, and top with the slaw. It was an absolutely delicious meal, and terrific compliment to the sweet slaw. 

Though I've kind of stopped watching the Food Network again, I am glad to see some new, fresh content, and find myself looking up recipes for the shows I saw often! Do you still watch Food Network? Who are some of your favorites? 

Broccoli and Dill Raita Slaw
adapted from Aarti Sequiera

3/4 c. 2% Greek Yogurt
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c. cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. fresh chopped dill
1 garlic clove, grated
1 tsp. ginger root, grated
1 scallion, sliced thin
1 10 oz. bag broccoli slaw 
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. almonds, roughly chopped
Salt and white pepper, to taste

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon zest and juice, cilantro, dill, garlic, ginger and scallion.
Add broccoli slaw and toss to coat.
Season with salt and pepper, taste and adjust.
Add cranberries and almonds, gently toss to distribute.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes, toss before serving, serve chilled.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grilled Zucchini and Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

This pizza may look familiar to you, if you're a long time reader. It's one that I brain stormed to create, and was my first attempt at grilled pizza... which was a giant fail. But I turned it into quesadillas, and it was a big hit! I decided to try the pizza version again, just grilling the vegetables and baking the crust, which worked well. But when we purchased a gas grill rather than charcoal, I was able to grill the crust as well, and it was delicious. 

One of the main components to the pizza is prosciutto, but since that's not in my diet anymore, I had to change it up a bit. For this recreation, I decided to make a sauce layer by creating a puree of cannelini beans and ricotta. It definitely added body and protein to the pizza, but also took it in a much different direction. While I loved this variation, I think I want to tweak it a bit more, and find that saltiness that the prosciutto added in a vegetarian form. Any ideas?? 

Grilled Zucchini and Onion Pizza with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Reduction

1 15 oz. can cannelini beans
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1" rounds on a bias
1 red onion, sliced into 1/2" rounds
1/2 c. crumbled goat cheese
1 c. aged balsamic vinegar

Preheat a grill to 400*
In a small saucepot, add vinegar, turn to low heat and simmer to reduce to a thick syrup.
Roll pizza dough out into a circle, place on a pizza pan. 
Drain beans well, add to a food processor with ricotta, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper, puree.
Place pizza dough on the grill, smear with bean mixture.
Place zucchini and onions on the grill, sprinkle with salt and pepper, close the lid on the grill.
After 4-5 minutes, flip zucchini and onions.
After 4-5 more minutes place zucchini and onions on the pizza, sprinkle with goat cheese and close lid again.
Cook for 2-5 more minutes, until pizza is crisp and cooked through.
Remove from the grill, drizzle with balsamic, slice and serve.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales

Back in November, I had an urge to make tamales after finding an Eating Well recipe that looked delicious.  I went to several grocery stores over the course of three weeks before I finally found dried corn husks, and then Thanksgiving came, and then the pregnancy made me so sick I took a month off from cooking. While cleaning out the pantry last weekend, I found the corn husks smashed in the back behind a sack of flour, and immediately decided the tamales had to be made!

I knew that because of the steps in the recipe, the assembling of each tamale and cooking time, it would be an all day affair. I followed the recipe exactly as written, only substituting a 15 oz. can of solid pack pumpkin for the frozen squash. In the end, I had close to 30 tamales, with extra filling and masa leftover, so I think this recipe could easily be halved if you are aiming to make 16 tamales. Also, I stuffed my tamales a little full, so I double wrapped each one, I also didn't tie them closed, just packed them snugly so they remained wrapped well. I chose to serve my tamales with guacamole, but you can serve them plain or with sour cream, queso or scrambled eggs, a traditional side.

As I was documenting the tamale making, something tragic happened... my camera fell off the kitchen table and now the lens is stuck. I'm hoping it won't be too costly to repair, but this means I'm back to the kodak easy share point and shoot from the early college years. If I wasn't so eager to blog the awesome recipes I have coming up, I'd hold off, but I'll do my best!

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Goat Cheese Tamales

4 oz. dried corn husks - This was about 50 of different shapes and sizes

1 3/4 c. masa
1 1/4 c. hot water
1 1/2 c. part skim ricotta
1/4 c. canola oil
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
2 c. grits or cornmeal
1/2-3/4 c. vegetable stock

1 15 oz. can solid pack pumpkin puree
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained or 2 c. cooked and chilled
1 4 oz. can chopped green chiles, drained
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. crumbed goat cheese

For serving:
Guacamole and lime wedges

Place corn husks in a bowl, fill with hot water and soak for 30 minutes, loosely separating them

Prepare Batter: Put masa and water in a large bowl, stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms (I added another 1/2 c. water as I used instant masa). In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat ricotta, oil, baking powder and salt. Beat in grits/cornmeal, then add masa mixture until incorporated, add stock until batter is smooth and spreadable, but not runny.

Prepare filling: Pour pumpkin into a strainer and set to drain, gently pressing to release water. Pour into a bowl, add black beans and drained chiles, stir and season with salt.

Assemble tamales: Drain water from husks, gently pat dry with a towel. Place a steamer basket in a large pot, fill with water just to the stop of the steamer. Spread 1/3 c. masa into the center of the husk, spoon 2 tbsp. filling in and sprinkle with goat cheese, fold the sides in then roll from the bottom. Place the tamale seam side down into the steamer basket, repeat with remaining husks.

Cover the pot and place on a burner over high, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Set a kitchen timer for 60 minutes, and check tamales for water often. (I refilled my water 2 times to make sure there was always enough).
Use tongs to remove from the pot, masa should be firm and pulling away from husks.
Serve with guacamole, if desired.
Store leftover tamales in a tupperware still in husks. To reheat, steam for 10 minutes.
Leftovers are good for 2-3 days.

L - Masa, R - Filling, C - Goat Cheese 
Note: I used an offset icing spatula for spreading masa

Corn husks and steamer

Filling a tamale

Cooked tamales, still in husks. Tying a knot to hold them together is optional if wrapped tightly.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Vegetarian Cubana

Two weeks ago, my husband and I went out to dinner to celebrate with some friends; their engagement and our pregnancy. Since they live in Daytona, we decided to meet in St. Augustine for dinner. My husband was born and raised in St. Augustine, and knows the restaurants well, so we had a hard time deciding where to go. We finally settled on The Columbia. We had an absolutely delicious meal, and I am hoping we can make it back there again soon! They specialize in Spanish, Cuban, and Mexican food, and since we're in Florida, the seafood is top notch. We each ordered something different: the paella, ropa vieja, mariscos diablo (spicy pasta dish with the entire ocean of seafood), and the vegetarian cubana.

The Vegetarian Cubana was simply listed as yucca, black beans, rice, plantains and sauteed fresh vegetables. It wasn't as intriguing as the other vegetarian dishes, but it had all of my favorite ingredients, and I knew The Columbia would put their twist on it. The meal was a bed of soft white rice topped with simply seasoned, tender black beans, two tostones, two maduros, a piece of steamed yucca topped with a spicy tomato relish, sauteed snap peas with strips of bell pepper, and the dish was sprinkled with diced raw onion. Though each element wasn't very complex, when it was all together it made a complete, delicious meal. Each individual component was perfectly cooked, perfectly seasoned, and complimentary of one another. 

I couldn't get the meal out of my head since we left the restaurant, and knew I'd have to recreate it at home. After all, it costs only pennies to make (but wasn't too expensive at $16.95 in the upscale-restaurant). While I loved the yucca and two kinds of plantains, I decided to skip them this time to make this meal weeknight-friendly with less cooking time and preparation. A few other options are to make your rice ahead of time (I prefer brown rice, which takes 30 minutes to cook, sometimes I make a big batch on the weekends) and to use your slow cooker to make beans (dried beans are cheaper and cans don't contain BPA, organic is easily available as well!). 

While scouring recipes for tostones and maduros, I found there were no baked versions, but I was determined to not fry them. If you'd like to see authentic fried tostones, I've made them here. Instead I opted for Maduros made in the oven in a foil packet, they still caramelized and were tender and sweet with a crisp coating, very similar to the fried version and my new go-to for plantains! I hope you try this meal out and enjoy it, it's simple but fancy-looking and absolutely delicious!

 Vegetarian Cubana
black beans, rice, roasted maduros, vegetable saute'   

2/3 c. brown rice blend
1 1/3 c. water or vegetable stock

2 c. black beans (or 1 15 oz. can drained)
1/2 c. water or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf

2 very ripe plantains
1 tbsp. EVOO
1 tsp. turbinado sugar

2 c. sugar snap peas
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 tsp. EVOO
1 tsp. adobo seasoning or chili powder
Salt and pepper

Diced raw onion, if desired

Preheat oven to 425*

In a small stock pot, bring water to a boil, add rice and turn to simmer.
Cook covered for 30 minutes, or how long package directs.

In another small stock pot, bring beans, water, garlic, bay and salt to a boil.
Turn to low and simmer uncovered while rice cooks.

Place a piece of foil on a sheet pan. 
Peel plantains and cut 1" rounds on a bias.
Place on half the foil, drizzle with EVOO and sugar, toss to coat.
Bring the other half of the foil over and pinch closed, making a packet.
Place in the oven, bake for 15 minutes, open, flip and close, baking for another 10 minutes.

Heat a saute' pan over medium heat, add EVOO, snap peas, peppers and adobo.
Toss and cook for 5-7 minutes, until vegetables are just softened. 

Plate rice, top with black beans, arrange plantains and snap peas on the side and sprinkle the dish with raw onion. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Spiced Apricot Chickpea Patties

As I said in the last post, JJ and I went to Mandaloun last weekend, my favorite Lebanese restaurant. We first learned about Mandaloun when they signed up to host a Bite Club event when I was the host. We had such an amazing meal there, when Mandaloun offered a Groupon a few weeks later, I jumped right on it. When we ordered, I went with the Vegetarian Mezze because I knew it was delicious, but JJ opted for something new. He chose the Chicken Schwarma, which was much different than most versions. The chicken was cooked in a cumin and cinnamon laced sauce with pieces of plump apricot. I tasted a bit of the sauce and apricot drenched pita, and it was so delicious. I love cinnamon in savory dishes, but rarely use it myself. 

Later in the week, I couldn't get the flavors out of my head, so I decided to make it into a vegetarian dish. I thought about just subbing chickpeas for the chicken, but instead made a patty that could be stuffed in a pita and served with the tabbouli. The patties are a simple mixture, full of flavor and spice. The apricots get so plump and juicy, and the greek yogurt adds a nice tang. 

Spiced Apricot Chickpea Patties

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 c. diced dried apricots
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 egg white
1/4-1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs

For serving:
Greek yogurt

Add chickpeas to a large mixing bowl.
Using a potato masher, mash the chickpeas until about half are pasty and half are broken into pieces.
Add apricots, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, salt, pepper and scallions.
In a small dish, whip egg white to a froth, add to chickpea mixture.
Using a spatula, begin folding ingredients together, adding breadcrumbs as necessary to hold mixture together.
Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat.
Add a thin layer of olive oil or spray with non-stick cooking spray.
Score chickpea mixture into fourths, form 4 patties and drop into the skillet. 
Cook for 5-7 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes, until browned.
Serve with pitas, yogurt and tabbouli.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My 3rd Blogiversary & Tabbouli, Mandaloun Style

Today is a very momentous occasion on Veggie by Season, it's my third Blogiversary! Looking back over the past three years, beginning a blog has been absolutely one of the best decisions of my life. I have met so many other bloggers and enjoyed reading theirs through the tight-knit community, I have challenged myself to cook with new ingredients, techniques, and cuisines, and I have really tapped into my creative mind constructing recipes as well as writing about them. 

Looking back over the last year, my proudest blogging accomplishment was the POM Party victory. Being chosen in the top 10 among over 100 talented bloggers was really a special moment for me. Also, the Bakesale for Molly was another great moment during the last year. I was completely floored by the generosity of both the bakers and the bidders, and the way word spread among the blogging community and beyond. (As an aside, we were able to cover all of Molly's medical expenses, and I purchased 6 months of medication for her to take to her foster home, where she continues to reside awaiting adoption.)

Now in the past, I have celebrated my blogiversary in different ways. The first Blogiversary I made meatloaf cupcakes with whipped potato frosting, and last year I recapped my favorite recipes from the year. This year, I'm going in a little different direction. As I've said, blogging has led me to try many new ingredients, and even re-try things I thought I didn't like (cucumbers, turnips, lima beans, pears) and... parsley! I've always been completely opposed to parsley, and would substitute any other herb in it's place. Then, about a year ago, I tried tabbouli and I loved it. How could it be, I hated parsley?! More recently, I went to a Lebanese restaurant and ordered the Vegetarian Mezze platter, which featured tabbouli. Only this tabbouli was different - no blugur! It was completely parsley based, and I absolutely loved it.

I thought about it some more, and realized that when the parsley is minced into a fine piece, its flavors really come out, and it smells like lemon. I made this tabbouli based on my memory of the style of Mandaloun's, and it was very, very similar. Though I think I prefer just a bit of bulgur mixed in, this tabbouli is also something special. 

Thank you so much to everyone for your readership through the years. I never thought a blog would bring me so much joy and connect me with so many wonderful people. 

Tabbouli, Mandaloun Style
(no bulgur, authentic Lebanese)

3 bunches of parsley, stemmed
1 bunch of fresh mint leaves, stemmed
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1/2 English cucumber
3 garlic cloves
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. Red Wine vinegar
1/4 c. EVOO
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Wash parsley and mint in a large colander, shake and dry well.
In batches, place mint and parsley leaves in a food processor, pulse and process until leaves are in small, minced pieces.
Place in a large plastic storage container and repeat until all herbs are minced.
Quarter tomatoes, add to herbs.
Mince cucumber, add to herbs.
Using a microplane, grate garlic into vegetable mixture.
Zest the lemon into vegetable mixture, then slice in half and squeeze juice into mixture.
Add vinegar, EVOO, salt and pepper.
Place a sealed lid on and shake the mixture to mix well.
Taste, adjust seasonings.
Refrigerate over night or for several hours, taste again before serving to adjust seasonings.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Banana-Bran Muffins

Last weekend, I finally packed up all of my Christmas decorations, including the three Christmas cookie jars I have. I think my husband was especially sad to see those go, he's quite the cookie monster! I don't have an every-day cookie jar on the counter because I rarely have cookies sitting around for us. Lately though, in the evenings or on the weekend we're looking for a small, sweet snack. I always seem to over-buy bananas, and have some in the freezer or ripening on the counter to use. While these aren't cookies, they still pretty sweet, relatively healthy, inexpensive and a great little snack. 

The recipe comes from Eating Well, one of my absolute favorite magazines. Not only is it very vegetarian friendly, but like many magazines it's seasonal and it is full of great literature. The muffins were a bit on the sweet side for me, and I even reduced the sugar from 2/3 c. to 1/2 c. I think my bananas were very sweet. In order to keep these frugal, I purchased wheat bran from the bulk bin in the amount I needed for 50 cents rather than a large jar or bag for several dollars. I love pairing nutmeg with banana, so I added a few swipes of fresh grated to the batter. I also made my own buttermilk by adding 1 tbsp. cider vinegar to the milk and letting it sit for a few minutes. Finally, I had some banana chips in the pantry, so I dotted the tops with them just so my husband would know what kind of muffins they were (not that it matters, he's gone from cookie monster to muffin monster!)

Banana-Bran Muffins
slightly adapted from Eating Well 

2 large eggs
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar 
1 c. mashed ripe bananas
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. unprocessed wheat  bran (plus extra for dusting tops)
1/4 c. canola oil
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
Optional mix-ins: Walnuts, Chocolate chips, Crushed Banana Chips

Preheat oven to 400*
Line a muffin tin with 12 wrappers, set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs; add sugar, bananas, buttermilk, wheat bran and oil, whisk well. 
Pour wet ingredients into dry, use a spatula to fold mixture together until flour is absorbed. 
Spoon equally into muffin tins, place in the oven and bake for 22-25 minutes, until a tester comes out clean.
Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes, remove muffins and serve or store in an air-tight container once cooled. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

One of my splurge items at the grocery store tends to be for frozen sweet potato fries, specifically the Alexia brand Chiptole flavor. Though they're not fried, they are really crispy and have delicious flavor. While I continue to trim the budget and keep our meals healthy, I decided spending $4 on a bag of fries was wasteful when I could pick up two sweet potatoes for a dollar and concoct a seasoning blend at home.

I did a quick internet search and found this recipe on epicurious, originally from Gourmet for Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Fries, and it sounded like a definite winner. I love fennel seed, crushed red pepper, and because of Symon Sundays, I have quite the stockpile of coriander seed. I wasn't sure just how crispy they'd get with a coating of olive oil and high heat, but they came out quite crisp and very flavorful. I served these with steamed broccoli (cheap and in season!) and Barbeque Lentil Loaf, another inexpensive healthy dish!

Note: Crushing your spices at home is the way to go - I always buy whole seeds! You can use your muscle with a mortar and pestle or use a coffee grinder, just be sure to clean it well between uses! My mortar and pestle are from, which is a company that sources goods from third world countries, paying a fair price. I encourage you to check out their products! 

Roasted Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp. kosher salt
3 tbsp. EVOO
2 lbs. Sweet Potatoes

Preheat oven to 425*
Place coriander, fennel, oregano and red pepper in a mortar and pestle, crush well.
Scrub potatoes well, slice into wedges.
Add to a mixing bowl, drizzle with EVOO, salt and spice blend.
Toss well to coat.
Arrange on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart, roast for 20 minutes.
Flip and roast for an additional 15-20 minutes, until crisp and browned.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Supreme Pizza Quinoa Casserole

Thank you so much to everyone for your sweet comments on my last post. I will probably keep the pregnancy details to a minimum on here, it is a food blog after all! 

I am so happy to be cooking again, and have wholesome meals. When I saw this recipe on Peas and Thank You last week, I knew I'd have to make it soon. While I love pizza, it's not always the healthiest option. Plus, vegetarian protein is hard to come by on a pizza! 

This recipe is originally written vegan, but I made a few changes. First, I used cottage cheese in place of a raw  cashew puree, but you can also use ricotta or cream cheese. I prefer cottage cheese because it's full of protein and low in fat and calories. My favorite brand is Organic Valley's 2% Small Curd. Next, I sprinkled the top of this bake with a tiny amount of parmesan and mozzarella, to really make it seem like a baked pasta dish. 

The last change I made was to saute' vegetables separately, then mix them with the quinoa mixture before baking rather than top the bowls with topping like Mama Pea did. I used my favorite pizza toppings - peppers, mushrooms, onions and sun dried tomatoes. 

This dish is extremely versatile, and can be made for 2 to twenty with some simple adjustments with ingredient amounts. I made a large casserole, serving 4-6. This is a great make ahead meal that you can prep on the weekend for weeknight dinner, or something you can make a big batch of and eat over several days. You can also take it back to vegan or add pepperoni, sausage, ham or other non-vegetarian pizza toppings! And best of all, this dish was extremely cheap to make, the only splurge was buying organic cheeses, but they were on sale plus I had coupons at Whole Foods, so the entire casserole was around $10 (with lots of leftover cheese). 

Supreme Pizza Quinoa Casserole
adapted from a vegan version on Peas and Thank You

3 c. vegetable stock
1 1/2 c. quinoa
8 oz. button mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. 2% Small Curd Organic Cottage Cheese
1/2 c. shredded mozzarella, divided
1/4 c. grated parmesan, divided
1 tbsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper, to taste
10 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

Preheat oven to 350*
Bring stock to a boil in a pot.
Rinse quinoa under running water for a minute, until no longer murky. 
Add quinoa to vegetable stock, stirr and turn to simmer. 
Cook for 15-18 minutes, until stock is absorbed, stirring every few minutes.
Heat a saute' pan over medium heat, add 1 tbsp. olive oil.
Add mushrooms, peppers, onion and garlic, stir and saute' for 10 minutes, until liquid is cooked out and vegetables begin to caramelize. 
Remove from heat.
When quinoa is cooked, add tomato sauce, cottage cheese, half of the mozzarella and parmesan, basil, oregano, fennel, crushed red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Stir well, add vegetables from pan and sun-dried tomatoes, stir well.
Pour into a casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Place in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, until cheesei s golden and casserole is bubbly.
Serve immediately, refrigerate leftovers for a few days, if it lasts that long!