I tend to view the fussy salad with suspicion. By fussy I mean it’s a salad that requires a significant amount of preparation – a special dressing, roasted things, etc. For the most part, when I want a salad I just want to haphazardly chop as many veggies as possible, throw them all in a bowl with some greens and drizzle some olive oil and vinegar over the top – that’s it. I think I’ve made a “real” salad dressing fewer than 5 times in my life, and a majority of those times was during recipe testing for a cookbook.
But here’s a fussy salad that took another big chunk out of last weeks CSA box and takes my MoFo effort full circle and back to the beet:
Roasted Beet Salad with Pomegranate seeds and Satsuma Vinaigrette
I started with cubing and roasting 4 small beets for 40 minutes in an oven preheated to 400F.
While the beets were roasting I halved and seeded one pomegranate. It yielded about a half cup of seeds.
For the dressing I squeezed 1 cup of juice from some Satsuma Mandarins (7 Mandarins) then simmered the juice in a small saucepan until the liquid reduced to a few tablespoons and became syrupy. This technique was in Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen though he used grapefruit. When done, I let the thickened juice cool before adding it to a blender with 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, one clove of garlic, pressed, and a generous pinch of sea salt and blending well.
I then added half of the beets, 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds, and a half cup of cooked quinoa (because this is my dinner people) to 3 cups (packed) of mixed baby greens, and tossed with roughly half of the dressing.
Fussy, but tasty, and full of what’s abundant here this time of year.
After posting about my CSA box and the challenge of using the whole thing a commenter suggested an autumn hot and sour soup. Since I am highly suggestible (try me ) I decided “okay”. In addition to the bok choy and spinach from this week’s box I also found some forgotten turnips at the bottom of the crisper and had half of a butternut squash that had been peeled a week ago but passed the sniff test.
So this was a pile it all in kind of soup. I used cooking tamarind (it was the dragonfly brand which is not as thick as the smaller containers of prepared tamarind) and lime juice for the sour and some sriracha and a chopped jalapeno for the hot. I also added soy sauce and a wee bit of sugar to balance things out. It all went down like this:
- Boil water
- Add turnips, squash, jalapeno, sriracha, tamarind and soy sauce and let boil about 20 minutes
- Turn heat down slightly, add chopped bok choy and spinach and simmer to desired doneness. I also added cubed tofu and the always exciting canned mock duck toward the end, along with the lime juice
- Add sugar to taste and adjust other seasonings.
- Serve over rice or rice noodles. Garnish with cilantro.
It all turned out pretty good. It made a lot, and was comforting on a cold night. It also put a pretty big dent in my CSA box. I still have more left than I can make before the end of MoFo, but I’m sure I can finish everything before the end of the week.
The first CSA item I decided to tackle was the romanesco. Related to cauliflower, it has a beguiling partial fractal pattern, making it quite possibly one of the most visually mind-bending vegetables on the planet:
Stare at it too long and…
After coming down from my stupor I was beset by the munchies and decided to make dinner, in this case a creamy pasta using the ever-popular creamed cashew method.
BRASSYCHEDELIC CREAMY PASTA
For the cashew cream (NOTE: I would double this next time)
- 1/4 cup cashews, soaked
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 lb fettuccine or pasta of choice
- 1 head Romanesco cauliflower, florets removed, larger florets sliced in half lengthwise
- 2 tablespoons minced shallots
- 1 large clove garlic, or equivalent, minced
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or vegetable stock
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- Blend the cashews and water until completely creamy. For me, this is best done in an upright blender, but I know some people have better luck with a food processor. This strikes me as odd because I have a good food processor and mostly crappy blender that even has problems with smoothies, but whatever works works.
- Boil salted water for pasta and cook according to package directions. My fettuccine took about 9 minutes. Drain and add back to the pot with a lid to keep warm. Toss with a small amount of olive oil so your noodles don’t stick together.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil and garlic in a pan over medium heat. When the garlic is fragrant, add the shallots and cook a couple of minutes until just soft.
- Add the romanesco, sauteeing until it starts to brown a little. Then add the wine or vegetable stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add salt and pepper and chili flakes. Cover, lower the heat and let steam a few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the cashew cream and lemon juice and turn the heat up just long enough until it starts to boil slightly. Turn the heat back down and stir until the cream thickens. Immediately scrape the contents of the pan over the pasta. Toss and Feed Your Mouuuuuuuuuuth.
Feed Your MOUUUUUUUUUUUTH
This was tasty but the creamy sauce was just barely enough to coat the pasta and Romanesco, which left me with a not very saucy pasta. Hence the doubling suggestion.
A Confession: I’ve been really bad about using the contents of my CSA box lately. I only get one every two weeks and every two weeks there’s been something that I’ve failed to use and that has spoiled. This week it was about a half pound of green beans, a half a bunch of spinach, and some parsley. I hate throwing food away. I’m well aware of the abundance of food available to me, and that the quality of that food is excellent, and that there are many in the world who just don’t have access to what they need to nourish themselves. It pains me when I just end up tossing something in the compost.
A Challenge: I’m challenging myself to use the entire box I just got during the remainder of Vegan MoFo, which ends (!!!) next week (yikes!).
What I got:
- 1 head romanesco
- 2 pomegranates
- 1 bunch spinach
- 1 bunch radishes
- 1 bunch beets
- 1 bunch swiss chard
- 1.5 lb baby bok choy
- 1 bunch carrots
- 1 lb baby mixed lettuce
- 1 acorn squash
I’ll see what I can come up with.
If you think the bulk of my weekday posts involve me stressing out and making something super quick to post about, you are right. And guess what? Tonight was no exception.
My day went like this: miss my train, lose a brand new cycling glove, arrive to work late, leave work late, barely make it to drop off my bike for a tune-up (thank you groupon), think of dinner (I know there’s a Trader Joe’s pizza crust in the fridge and some leftover Daiya-pizza), hit the store, and then march home to throw food together as rapidly as possible. I made a no-cook tomato sauce (14 oz can whole peeled tomatoes, drained for about 3 minutes, a couple tablespoons olive oil, splash red wine vinegar, teaspoon dried oregano, 1-2 cloves garlic, salt and pepper to taste and all thrown in the blender) while the dough was resting and then chopped up some broccoli and some homemade sausages I had made over the weekend. Tossed it all on the rolled out TJ’s crust and there I am, 12 minutes of baking on a hot pizza stone later:
All in all, not too bad.
*or maybe just a couple minutes more.
From JohnP in the comments to yesterday’s post. I didn’t want this to stay hidden in the comments:
As a special for Macho Pineapple readers, here is the recipe for the preserves from Harrod’s Book of Jams, Jellies, and Chutneys by Rosamond Richardson (1987):
1 lb dried apricots
2 quarts water
4 oz (1/2 c) preserved stem ginger*
2 oz (approx 2 inches) fresh ginger
3 lbs sugar (I used unrefined sugar from Zulka)
*This comes in syrup-filled jars. Try a British or Asian grocery or search “stem ginger” on amazon. It is not the same as crystallized ginger.
Chop apricots, cover with water, and soak for 24 hours. Cut the stem ginger into tiny strips. Transfer the apricots, soaking water, and sliced stem ginger to a kettle. Tie the fresh ginger in a cheesecloth bag and add it to the kettle. Bring slowly to a boil, and simmer 40 minutes. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Raise the heat and let it boil rapidly for about 10 minutes. Remove the fresh ginger in its cheesecloth bag. Pour into jars with 1/2 inch headroom. Screw on the lids, and then process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
I will be brief as I have some important eating to do, but please do try these butterflake rolls from Inspired Eats, and thank you again to JohnP for the apricot ginger preserves.
Vegan Butterflake Rolls with Earth Balance and Apricot Ginger Preserves
Now With Tea
Post Breakfast Update: These rolls are so perfect and buttery and yeasty and delicious. And filling. Yummmmm.
Friday friday, I’m so glad you’re here. I could go out but well, I’m tired. Tired from biking and working and waking up at 5:30 every morning and being covered in paperwork. One thing I like about living in a big city with a lot of vegan options is that I don’t have to give up those occasional junkish convenience like fried Chinese food delivered to my doorstep, and when I’m feeling antisocial I mean REALLY antisocial, Big Lantern is there. They have online ordering, so not only do I not have to cook but I only have to talk to an actual human being for the split second it takes to grab my packed up bag of Generals Meatless Chicken and BUNS and sign a credit card slip. Yes, I’m dining hermit style tonight. A dim sum hermit.
My favorite order is this: vegetable buns, turnip cake, and generals meatless chicken. It usually lasts (or should last) 2-3 meals, but I admit I sometimes scarf some cold from the fridge late at night.
GOT BUNS HUN!
During the fall and winter I get so many butternut squashes from my CSA that it’s a struggle to use them all. Which put me in the habit of throwing them into curries with a lot of those other winter veggies. It’s not unusual or anything; pumpkin curries appear on numerous menus at Thai restaurants. So this was another, holy crap, it’s a week night I’m exhausted and still have errands to run kind of thing. And because of that, it ended up being really hastily assembled, which isn’t really a bad thing at all. I’d love to throw down and make a curry paste from scratch some day, but until then the yellow curry from Mae Ploy will be one of my standbies.
The ingredients are:
- about one half of a small-medium size butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced. I’d say it was about 2 cups.
- one large onion, chopped
- a couple of fistfuls of green beans, ends removed and cut in half
- one package tofu, cubed
- 2 TBS Thai curry
- additonal ginger
- Thai Basil
- Lime Juice
- 1 can coconut milk
The method is pretty simple. Start with sauteing the onions until brown in a heavy bottomed pot with a lid. Add the ginger and stir until fragrant. Add the remaining veggies and the tofu (you can also brown the tofu first and set aside – I like to do this when I’m not feeling rushed) and cook a few more minutes. Add the coconut milk and the curry paste. Stir until the paste is dissolved and bring the curry to a boil. Lower the heat to very low, cover, and let simmer about 25-30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Remove from heat, add some torn up basil leaves and some fresh lime juice and let sit with the cover slightly removed about 10 minutes or until you’re back from picking up your laundry and some beer.
Serve with brown rice and top with a little more basil if desired. It doesn’t hurt to squeeze some more lime juice on top either.
Butternut and Tofu Curry
Update: I also added some mushrooms that were languishing in the crisper. Forgot about those.
These turned out really good both inside and out and I learned an important lesson – to get the inside firm and warm it’s essential to put them in the oven after frying.
If you look at my first tot post you’ll notice the ingredients are largely unchanged, with the exception of a slight bit more potato starch:
- 2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks.
- 2 TBS minced shallots
- 1 TBS minced fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. salt
- generous amount of fresh ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
- 3 TBS Potato Starch
- 1 quart of refined, high heat oil for frying
- Steam sweet potatoes for five minutes.
- Shred in a food processor.
- Add shredded sweet potatoes and all other ingredients to a bowl and mix with a large wooden spoon or your hands.
- Grab some of the mixture and form into a clump. You want to squeeze it together a bit. (note: with the shorter steaming time it was a bit harder to form the mixture into a mass to roll out in the next step, hence the squeezing)
- Roll out your masses to form logs about 3/4 inch in diameter. Continue until the entire mixture is used up.
- Chill the logs in the fridge on a baking sheet or plate, covered with a clean dishtowel or paper towel for 1 and a half to 2 hours.
- Preheat 1 quart of oil in a deep fryer or pot to 375F.
- With a sharp knife, cut the tot logs into smaller cylinders about 1 inch long. Round the edges with your fingers, reforming into “tot” shapes when necessary.
- Fry in batches for about 5-6 minutes each batch, or until nicely browned. Set in a newspaper or paper bag-lined colander to drain.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Bake tots for about 30-35 minutes, turning once.
And that’s it. These were nubblier than my first attempt, and I may try to make them nubbier in the future. I could see processing with the big blade until the sweet potatoes are slightly grainy working well, but for the most part I’m happy with this recipe. They go great with a krauty sausage sandwich.
Tots are surprisingly simple to make if you’re willing to fry things in your kitchen. I find it really isn’t that hard and you’d be surprised at how little oil actually gets absorbed into your food when frying at high heat (I reuse/ recycle the oil and my quart bottle is barely diminished after two batches). I’m still interested in making adjustments to this, more for shits and giggles than any flaws, so if you happen to give them a shot, let me know what you think.