Monday, March 25, 2013

Greens for Breakfast!

Our garden just keeps exploding with greens. I'm feeling particularly blessed with the abundance and don't want to waste any of it. Two meals a day doesn't seem to be enough to use up this green bounty. I'm going to be eating them in my sleep soon. This is a healthy happy issue to have!

Today for breakfast, I decided to whip out one of my very favorite greens recipes: Dark Leafy Greens with Sesame Miso Dressing (Vegan Table, Page 37). Click here for a link to the recipe. It is a bit fussy for a greens recipe as the recipes calls for steaming then throwing the greens in an ice bath. I find if I mix the dressing ingredients and toast the sesame seeds before I start, I can eliminate this step and save washing another bowl. I also find this a tad salty as written, so I recommend eliminating the soy altogether. If you are watching your fat/calorie intake, you may consider cutting back on the sesame oil and/or sesame seeds. Today I ate this as is, but I love this on top of soba noodles with marinated baked tofu as well. It is a delicious way to get your greens.

Look at that beautiful emerald color. Mmmmmm!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Spinach Salad with Fakin' Bakin' and Carmelized Onion-Dijon Vinaigrette

Finally we got some curly spinach to grow in our garden. I don't know what it is about curly spinach, but it has always held a special place in my heart. For some reason, I rarely find it in the stores or farmers markets here in AZ. We didn't get a whole lot and what did grow was kind of hidden under our crazy prolific arugula.

Look at how dark and gorgeous those leaves are. The crevices are custom made to hold yummy dressings and lots of great nutrients.

A very long time ago, I worked as one of the head line cooks for this crazy Italian guy from the east coast. He was generally a disaster in the kitchen. He once got me so aggravated, I walked off of the line during a rush with all intentions of never returning. He had no business sense and no qualms about sending out sub par crap. I just wouldn't have it. He got the hint and left me and my buddy Matt to crank out some awesome eats.

Even with his many failings in the quality and personality departments, he had a few recipes that really worked. I wish I would have written some of those down. This salad was similar to one he had on the menu. I honestly can't remember what veggies were in the salad, but distinctly remember the awesome curly spinach (that I had to wash tubs full of every day) and the caramelized onion dressing. This isn't the exact same recipe, but it tastes pretty darn close. You can make your own tempeh bacon, but I find this product: Lite Life Fakin' Bacon (at Sprouts and Whole Foods) comes in very handy when you don't plan ahead.

This is quick to throw together on those busy days and very filling!

Spinach Salad with Fakin' Bakin' and Carmelized Onion-Dijon Vinaigrette

9 slices - (6 oz package) Fakion Bakin' or you favorite vegan bacon
spray oil for cooking bakin'
9 cups lightly packed curly spinach (or regular if you can't find it), washed and torn into bite sized pieces (measure after tearing)
3 medium ripe red tomatoes cut into 1" chunks
3 tablespoons pine nuts (toasted is a yummy option)

1 recipe Caramelized Onion-Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe below)

 Spray 10" non-stick or iron skillet with a generous portion of spray oil. Place "bacon" strips in pan and saute over medium heat for about 3 minutes until golden brown. Carefully flip over and cook for 3-4 more minutes until golden on the other side.

While the bacon is cooking, toss spinach and tomatoes in dressing. When "bacon" is cooked, remove from heat. You can leave it in long strips, but I prefer to cut each slice into 3 pieces. Divide spinach mixture between 3 large salad bowls or plates. Divide "bacon" evenly over each salad. Garnish each bowl with 1 tablespoon pine nuts.

Caramelized Onion-Dijon Vinaigrette

Makes a little over 1/2 cup

1/2 small yellow onion, diced
2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

In a small saute pan over med heat, saute onions in 2 teaspoons olive oil until golden and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Place cooked onions and all other ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Dressing is best served at room temperature or slightly warmed. It will keep in the fridge for about a week, but it should be warmed before using.

As a side note - 1 serving of Lite Life Fakin' Bacon has 8 grams of protein with only 3 grams of fat, no saturated fat or cholesterol!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Love Those Hot Wingz

Going veg wasn't really super hard for me, except for the haunting smell of wings. In the first few months after I stopped eating meat, I would get this crazy intense craving for wings. It was the one dish that almost made me revert back to the meaty side. It only took me a short time to realize, that I could indeed have my wingz and eat them too.

This version can be made with either tempeh or seitan. Honestly, I prefer seitan, but if I don't have any made up, it is super easy to pick up a package of tempeh at the store when I just can't wait to have me some spicy goodness. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but most of the ingredients are spices.  These are really pretty simple to throw together. The bulk of the time is inactive marinating the "wings". These are gluten free if you use tempeh.

Wingz of Fire

Makes 8 Wingz

1 - 8 oz package tempeh, torn into 8 rectangular pieces
(can also substitute 8 oz seitan)
1 recipe marinade (see below)
1/4 cup tapioca or corn starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan butter (from the sticks), melted
2 tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce (or your favorite)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional for those who like 'em suicide hot)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
Vegetable oil for frying


2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoons Louisiana Hot Sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)
3 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Place tempeh pieces in steamer and steam for 10 minutes. While they are steaming, mix together marinade ingredients in an 8 x 8 or smaller non-reactive pan, large enough to fit tempeh or seitan in a single layer. This doesn't make a lot of marinade, just enough to get soaked up by the protein. Add tempeh while it is still hot or seitan and turn to coat both sides. Marinate for a minimum of 2 hours*.

In a shallow bowl, combine the tapioca starch, salt and smoked paprika.

In a small saute pan, melt vegan butter and stir in hot sauce. Keep warm.

Heat enough oil to come 1/2 inch up the side of a 10-inch iron skillet (or other skillet but make sure it is not a non-stick type) to 350 degrees. Dredge marinated tempeh or seitan in tapioca starch mixture. Carefully slide into hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes per side until golden. Drain on paper towel.

In a bowl big enough to toss all of the wings, combine the melted vegan butter, hot sauce and peppers (if using). Toss fried wingz in sauce and serve immediately with vegan blue cheese or ranch dressing (recipe below), carrots and celery.

*If you are pressed for time, you can shorten the marinating time, but they are much more flavorful if they get some time to soak up all of that flavor.

Ranch Dressing

Makes about 1 cup

1/2 cup  plus 2 tablespoons vegan mayonaise (I like Veganaise brand)
1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients with a fork or wire whisk until completely combined. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.