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from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen

Salad
1/4 lb green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
5 radishes, finely diced
Agave nectar
1/4 English cucumber, finely diced
12 red and yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
Kernels from 2 ears raw sweet corn
1 avocado, diced
1 c baby arugula
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp minced fresh basil
1 tsp minced fresh oregano
Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 30 seconds, then chill in an ice bath. In the same boiling water, blanch the radishes for 20 seconds, then chill in an ice bath sweetened with a touch of agave nectar.

Place all of the ingredients except for the Vinaigrette and lemon juice in a large bowl. Drizzle with the Vinaigrette and toss to coat. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top just before serving. Makes 4 servings.

Vinaigrette
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp agave nectar
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the vinegar and agave nectar in a small bowl, then, whisking constantly, slowly pour in the oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I love a hearty salad, and this cookbook really delivers when that’s what I call for. The recipe is prefaced with a note- that the salad can get soggy if it sits for a bit; but I did prepare it ahead of time, but waited until I was ready to serve it before I added the arugula, avocado and lemon juice. It traveled well, and our extended family loved it! The sweet corn is such a treat, and it’s so good this time of year, especially if you can get local veggies. I could see how kids would really enjoy this dish, but mine is still at the tender age where she’s skeptical of anything that is combined, mixed, or tossed. She might love each ingredient, but won’t trust me when I tell her she’ll LOVE this. Oh well, more for us.
I didn’t have white wine vinegar, so I used apple cider vinegar. Perfect! Other than that, I stuck to the recipe. I’ll have to make this salad at least once more before the corn disappears from the farm we like to go to.
Here’s Cleo helping to harvest some oregano. Hopefully her thumb is greener than mine:

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from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

1 pound Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lay the Brussels sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet; douse with the olive oil. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, add the chopped garlic, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, using tongs and toss to coat. Return to oven, roast for 5 more minutes. Before you remove the Brussels sprouts from the pan, rub them into the garlic, and, when you serve them, sprinkle them with whatever toasted garlic remains in the pan. Serves 6

This was one of THREE recipes I tried from this cookbook in one weekend. It was so simple, and so divine. That last step- the sprinkling of the toasted garlic? Genius. After the weekend of amazing eats that Isa provided the road map for, I just had to order her new cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. I have all of her other cookbooks, so I thought I didn’t need another one. BUT I DO. Because this woman is responsible for so many of our good meals, a few pounds I’ve gained. And maybe this book will help take a few off. But I doubt it, because I can’t control myself around good food.
If you don’t have any of her cookbooks, I’m telling you, you’re missing out. She’s never failed me. EVER.

from The 4 Ingredient Vegan by Maribeth Abrams with Anne Dinshah

1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/4 c vegan mayonnaise
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 1/2 tsp sweet or dill pickle relish
salt and ground black pepper

Put the chickpeas in a food processor. Pulse 6 times, or until the chickpeas are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add the mayonnaise, celery, and relish. Stir until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately, or transfer to a storage container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 3 servings.

You might remember the saga of the stove, and how it died. Well, for a while we were restricted to microwaved, rice-cooker-cooked, or raw foods. Or takeout. Here’s a recipe that I found for one of the NINE dinners we didn’t have a stove/oven to use…
It’s a little creepy how closely this resembles a tuna salad sandwich. Who would’ve thought? I used a potato masher to smoosh the beans up (who wants to pull out the food processor for beans? You could also use a fork…) That caused our two cats came running over, circling me just like they used to in the height of our tuna eating days. The only way this sandwich differs from the fishy original is the lack of stringiness that the tuna brought, and the need to use a TON of mayo to cover up the fishy taste and dry texture. And not only to beans have protein, they have fiber! This recipe was so amazingly tasty and easy that I am making it again this week!

 

from The Voluptuous Vegan by Myra Kornfeld and George Minot

1 medium spaghetti squash (2 pounds)
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp hot red pepper flakes
salt

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Place the whole squash on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

Halve the squash lengthwise and discard the seeds. Then use a fork to remove the stringy flesh.

Heat the oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the garlic begins to color, about 2 minutes. Add the squash flesh and salt and toss together until heated through. Serves 4 to 6.

I have a confession to make: I’d never before used spaghetti squash. I’d never even tasted it. I was tired of living in shame and needed to remedy it, and this looked like a simple recipe to free myself of this baggage I’d been carrying around. And it was! My dear friend sent me this book for Christmas, and though I really wanted to try the crepe recipe that she’d sent the book to me for in the first place, I needed something simpler to work into the kitchen between cookie baking and present making. It really was simple to make; I can’t think of how one could mess it up (ok, I could have burned the garlic. I’m no stranger to that…), but really, this recipe was EASY. And very tasty. Spicy and sweet, and healthy. And baby loved it. Triple win! I can see myself changing up the flavors to work with other dishes, the spaghetti squash no longer a stranger to my shopping cart. Thanks Christie! xoxo!

from Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion (about 6 ounces), chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 c low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 c quick-cooking barley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh sage, or 1 tsp dried ground sage
pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the mushrooms and onion and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes, adding the garlic the last few minutes of cooking.

Add the broth, roasted peppers, barley, sage, cayenne (if using), salt, and black pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring a few times, until the barley is tender, about 25 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 4 servings.

I am so glad that I made a double batch of this! Normally I wouldn’t do that with a new recipe, especially from a new cookbook, but I just had a good feeling about this one. You know me, I love to have soup ready for lunches or a quick dinner awaiting me in the freezer, and I now have a batch of this fabulous hearty soup doing just that. I think I used a little extra barley- I bought in bulk and just eyeballed it; maybe that’s why this soup ended up so thick. I love it that way though. And the cayenne pepper! It adds a delightful little kick to the sweetness of the roasted red peppers. We all know it’s a good soup when the 18 month old says “Soup! Yummm! More!” and the husband has eaten so much that she can’t have any more. It’d be a sad story if there weren’t more of it lurking in the freezer.

adapted from Martha Stewart– a recipe card my mom picked up when she bought that fabulous pot for my birthday!

1/4 c olive oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary, or 1/2 tsp dried
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (14.5 oz) whole peeled tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 head Savoy or green cabbage (1 pound), cored and thinly sliced
2 cans (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced

In a large (really large…) pot, heat oil over medium. Add onions, carrots, celery, red-pepper flakes, rosemary, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion begins to turn golden, about 8 minutes.

Add tomatoes; cook until some of the liquid evaporates, 1 to 3 minutes. Add potato, cabbage, cannellini beans, and 3 quarts water; bring to a boil. Stir in green beans.

Reduce to a simmer, and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; stir in garlic. Serves 12.

This recipe makes a HUGE batch! I’d say that it’s more like 14 or even 16 servings… and it’s even better as leftovers. Soooo…. hello freezer! I served this with Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds, which melted beautifully into the soup. It is also really good by itself. The next day, the soup is even better, as the potato thickens up the broth a bit, and the garlic and red-pepper flavors come out very nicely. Our countertops are very tight on space, so this felt like a lot of prep work, until I realized how far this recipe was going to take me. It’s also a recipe that you can change depending on what veggies you have leftover in your fridge or what’s in season… upping the potatoes would make for a heartier soup. More beans? Yes please. Just DO NOT leave out the garlic. Adding it in at the end is brilliant. This is a soup I would love to always have stashed away in my fridge for nights when I’m feeling to lazy to cook. And there are plenty of those…

from Vegan Lunch Box by Jennifer McCann

1 c walnuts
1 c cooked brown rice
1 c canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 c oat bran (isn’t always gluten-free, read your labels of course!)
1/2 tsp sage (I used 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped)
1/2 tsp marjoram (again with the fresh)
1/4 tsp thyme (1/4 tbsp fresh)
1/4 tsp onion powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1/4 c tomato sauce
7 medium bell peppers , tops lopped off, ribs and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 350F.

Using a food processor fitted with the S blade, process the walnuts into very small bits. Scrape the walnuts into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Add the brown rice and chickpeas to the bowl of the food processor and process until the mixture forms a coarse mash. Add this mash to the mixing bowl along with the oat bran, sage, marjoram, thyme, onion powder, soy sauce, mustard, peanut butter, and tomato sauce. Using your hands, knead the mixture well until it is thoroughly mixed and holds its shape… Stuff this mixture into the peppers, and replace the tops if you desire. Place them on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes.

You’ll have to excuse me, I made some changes here. First off, the original recipe is for wellingtons, to be made with puff pastry instead of bell peppers. I don’t do puff pastry (too tasty, too dangerous), so I was happy to see that the author included a variation that her sister-in-law came up with. Second, the bell peppers that I picked up at the farmers market were HUGE. So I used 4 of them. Also, I realized that I had no tomato sauce once I had the mix all kneaded up. So I smashed a tomato with a little garlic and a splash of olive oil. Ugh. Maybe that’s why I didn’t find this to be my favorite recipe to date? The filling to pepper ratio was too much, and made for a lot of the same texture throughout the entire pepper. The tomato sauce situation was a sin, I know. I have no excuse- I was hungry and I panicked.
I must say though, that the filling itself was really good. The mustard-peanut butter-onion powder combo is simply brilliant. It was savory and dense- total comfort food. I will definitely make these again, but only with the sauce, and I might knead some red onion in at the end to give it a little more texture. And as far as traveling well and making for a good leftover for a hearty lunch? Indeed.
Still, my apologies. I’ll try not to cook when I’m THIS hungry.

 

from ExtraVeganZa by Laura Matthias

2-3 tbsp oil (coconut oil was a delicious option)
1 medium whole leek, finely diced
3 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced; stems and seeds removed
14 oz can garbanzo beans
1 each medium red and yellow pepper, seeds and stems removed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 c corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned
2-14 oz cans coconut milk
2 c water

Thoroughly clean the leek before chopping. I find that slicing it lengthwise and rinsing the insides is an effective way to clean it.

In a medium pot, fry the leek, carrots, garlic, cayenne and jalapeno in the oil on medium-low heat. Stir the ingredients so that they do not stick to the bottom of the pot. When the leeks begin to soften, stir in the garbanzo beans, salt, red and yellow peppers, corn, coconut milk and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Serves 4.

This is one of the best soups that I have ever had. EVER. I topped it with avocado, and oh my. It reminded me of an avocado curry that I used to get at our favorite Thai restaurant before we went the vegan path. The soup itself is pretty sweet, with just the right amount of salty, and a little bit of zing, thanks to the cayenne and jalapeno. Baby liked it… Husband loved it. It would serve 6 if you had a side dish for it, 8 if you served it as a side; it’s so rich! And really, it was pretty easy to make. I do love a one-pot meal, and I love a meal that makes for good leftovers, which this one most definitely did. Again, like a good curry, it was even better the next day. I will keep coconut milk in my pantry just to make this when the mood strikes…

from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien

4 c washed and chopped baby spinach
1 c Maple Candied Nuts (another recipe from the cookbook, but I used some from Shutterbean– recipe to follow)
1/4 c finely chopped red onion
1/2 c seeded and chopped red bell pepper
2 large pears, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)
Vinaigrette of your choice (I used Balsamic)

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with your preferred dressing. Chill and serve. Serves 4.

The Gluten-Free cookbook author wrote that she loves to make this salad so that she can eat the walnuts. As soon as I read that, my mouth watered as the memory of some spicy walnuts that arrived in a fabulous Christmas package from my BFF last winter came to me. I don’t think my husband even knew that they were in our house. Surely he didn’t know how many I had- I might have given him a sample and acted like I was going halvesies with him, but really I’d already eaten 90% of the bag. (Sorry Mike, I hope that the fact that I made this batch and will certainly make more will make up for that. Sheepish grin…) They’re really, really easy to make, and when I brought them over to my mom’s house the day before we were to eat the salad, they asked me to hide the container so that there would still be some left for the salad! I know what I’ll be stuffing stockings with this year… Just look at these little gems! Spicy and sweet perfection.

Spicy Maple Glazed Walnuts from Shutterbean

(Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine)

1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 c (about 7 ounces) walnuts

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, ginger and cinnamon; set aside. Pour the maple syrup into a large bowl and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat, stirring or shaking the pan constantly, until they are hot, about 5 minutes. Immediately add the nuts to the maple syrup and toss to coat. Stir in the spice mixture until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely before serving, about 20 minutes. Makes 2 cups.


from It Ain’t Meat, Babe, a really awesome vegan blog

This was a yummy excuse to go out and splurge on saffron, the most expensive spice EVER. It brought a buttery flavor to this dish, which was super easy to make. The variations on the dish are endless, with so many beans and greens out there to choose from. I’ve made it a few times since I first tried this dish out late last spring, with different stuff each time.
If you’re new to cooking, this might be a good dish to begin experimenting in the kitchen with. Try different spices and herbs, different veggies, add protein (hello faux beef, I’ve got my eyes on you…)