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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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My husband won something recently…

He’d entered his name in a raffle at Cornbread Cafe, to benefit SARA– Shelter Animal Resource Alliance here in Eugene. I had no idea that he’d entered the contest, until he got all excited while checking his email. When I asked what all the fuss was, he said “I won something!” It just so happened to be a catered dinner for TEN! We were blown away by his luck.
He worked out the logistics with the super-sweet owner, Sheree. He was allowed to choose from their generous menu two proteins, some sides, and two desserts!  Since HE was the winner, I let him have most of the say… though I did insist that we have their Mac unCheese, because it’s one of my favorites.
Here’s what he chose:

Green salad with vegan ranch dressing that was TO DIE FOR.

BBQ pull-aparts, drowning in sweet and sticky sauce. I had to be careful with these because they go down so easily. There were just a few left over.

Southern Fried Tofu, which was surprisingly crispy as leftovers. This was a menu item I would have insisted on had Mike not already chosen it…

Mac unCheese, Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy. That gravy was magic. And I don’t even care for gravy. Much.

Here’s Cleo’s dish. What a lucky girl! She was all over the croutons dipped in the ranch before Sheree and Kristy even had the rest of the food unveiled in our living room. She cleaned up the rest of it pretty well. Then I swooped baby off to bath and bed, so that we could continue gorging ourselves:

And here we have the the perfect end to a perfect evening: Frozen peanut butter bars. OH MY LAWD. Our guests were all set to roll out our door when I remembered dessert… They were like frozen pudding pop meets Reese’s Pieces meets ice cream on top of a crumbly chocolate cookie. And vegan to boot! We were all having multiple mouthgasms as we ate. After this, we released our friends, and were left to moan and groan as we discussed our favorites, with our guts pressing against our stretchy pants that we’d been exiled to for the rest of the evening (make that week. We had a LOT of leftovers).
There was also a sweet potato pie awaiting us, but it was impossible. We couldn’t. It was something that Mike and Cleo and I would have to take care of on another day… the next day. For breakfast. What a relief when a friend and her son came to visit us from the coast; she was able to offer her assistance.
This was such a treat, and we feel so lucky that we were given this wonderful meal, as well as the opportunity to show some of our meat-eating friends just how delicious and filling vegan comfort food can be. And the fact that it benefited a wonderful charity made it all the tastier.
Cornbread Cafe is hoping to expand the catering side of their business  (they are REALLY GOOD AT IT- especially considering we were their first job!), as well as the distribution their food at several local stores. You can find their products here in Eugene at The Kiva, Red Barn, Sundance, and New Frontier Market. Currently, they are looking for a new restaurant space, but seem to be doing pretty well with the wholesale distribution of their goods. They do have a Facebook page– Like them and stay in the know about where and when you can find some of this food. It really is something you should treat yourself to- whether you’re vegan or not. Thanks Sheree and Kristy! xo!

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 Vegetarian Express by Nava Atlas and Lillian Kayte

Prepare the couscous salad:

1 1/2 c couscous
1 small package (2 c) fresh carrot sticks, cut into 1-inch lengths (I just used 3 large peeled carrots)
1 small white turnip, cut into sticks
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
1 medium zucchini, cut into quarters and then 1-inch chunks
2 medium tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp light olive oil
juice of one large lemon, or more to taste
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
fresh cilantro, minced (optional)

Cover the couscous with 3 cups of boiling water in a heat-proof dish. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the vegetables as directed. When the couscous has absorbed all the water, fluff it with a fork, then combine it with the vegetables and remaining ingredients in a serving bowl. Toss the salad well to combine.

Prepare the spiced chickpeas:

2 1-pound cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c chopped scallions
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground coriander
dark green lettuce leaves

Combine all of the ingredients except the lettuce in a serving bowl and toss well.

Place each serving on a bed of lettuce. Serves 6.

Seriously, this was one of the easiest meals I’ve ever made! It’s really nice and light, yet still satisfying. I was wary about using all of those raw veggies- uncooked zucchini activates my gag reflex like nothing else, but I’m trying to trust recipes in order to keep out of trouble. I’m so glad that I did! The lemon helps with any bitterness that might have happened with said zucchini, and gave the dish such a great flavor. And can we talk about the spiced chickpeas? So good! They were almost sweet, and it was such a satisfying accompaniment to the salad. The recipe suggested serving it with warm pita breads, and I used this whole wheat naan that I’m in love with. The author suggests sprinkling the leftover salad with some water if it gets clumpy, but it wasn’t necessary. It would be perfect to make ahead and pack in your lunch!

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 Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero

For the Dressing:
1/2 lb ripe red tomatoes
1/2 c diced sweet white onion
1/2 green, red, or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced (I chose yellow)
3 cloves garlic, chopped coarsely (or, ahem, 7…)
1 green chile pepper, seeded and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano (I used about 2 tbsp fresh)
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of sugar (optional)
freshly ground pepper
For the Salad:
4 c spinach, washed well and torn into bite-size pieces
1 (14-oz) can hearts of palm, drained, rinsed, and sliced
2 c or 1 (14-oz) can cooked black beans, rinsed
1/2 c toasted chopped Brazil nuts
1/2 large sweet white onion, sliced into thin strips

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. Use immediately or store tightly covered in the fridge for up to a week. To make the salad, toss the salad ingredients together.

Oh, SWOON! Lately I’ve discussed with people they might choose to eat only and forever… if you could only eat one food. My husband chose Pizza Research Institute’s vegan chef’s choice pizza, or avocado if limited to just one ingredient. I would have chosen almonds. Until now. I was flipping through the book, looking for a salad, and was absolutely giddy when I saw Brazil nut in the title. I’d joked that I was going to name my firstborn child Brazil Nut, I love them so. Don’t worry, that’s not actually my daughter’s name. I totally chickened out.
Anyhoo, this salad! It’s so refreshing yet solid. It makes four good sized servings, and there was enough dressing to top our steamed broccoli the next night. The hearts of palm, black beans, and nuts add weight, and give such a great texture variety. And that dressing! Of course it was pretty spicy with all of that garlic, but I wouldn’t change it at all! The sweet onion is what really makes me want this salad nonstop though. And what a healthy salad, provided that I can keep from going overboard with the nuts.
This cookbook has so many good looking recipes that will keep me trying new ingredients, which I’m so excited about. One recipe that I saw that I won’t be trying, as it looks too dangerous- churros! I’d eat the entire batch. We can’t have that, so you’ll just have to check out this cookbook on your own. You won’t regret it.

Vegan feta recipe comes from Recipezaar.com

Vegan Feta
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c water
1/2 c red wine vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1 lb firm tofu, herb flavored, cubed or crumbled (I used plain tofu, crumbled)

Place everything but the tofu in a bowl, and whisk to combine. Add tofu, and let sit for at least an hour.

Salad
2 large tomatoes, diced
1 large green pepper, chopped
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1/2 c kalamata olives, halved
2 large cucumbers, diced
1 recipe vegan feta
Salad greens, if desired

Place the chopped veggies into a large salad bowl, and toss. Gently stir in the vegan feta. Allow to sit at room temperature for an hour or so. Serve over greens. NOM!

I wasn’t planning on making a Greek salad, originally… My mom asked me if there was a vegan feta substitute, as she was making some sort of couscous thing that called for it at our upcoming family dinner. I told her that it would be no problem for me to whip some up (I’d always been curious), and found this recipe with just a quick search. Recipezaar is really great- you can search by ingredients, or by dish. And they list the nutrition information! Love that. There are a lot of vegan recipes. Anyway, back to dinner with my mom. She ended up scratching the aforementioned dish off the menu for the evening, without letting me know. So, I show up with my pound and then some of vegan feta. And that same vegan feta rides back home with us… to become the next night’s (and the night after that’s) main dish. No problem, it was sooo yummy and refreshing, and I’m happy to have yet another new recipe in my rotation.

from FatFree Vegan Kitchen

For this one, I’m not posting the recipe. You’ll have to follow that link up there. I made these a few months ago, and I emailed Susan V. asking permission to post the recipe here in my usual format, but still haven’t heard back from her. So… have at it.
You’re looking at the leftover “falafels” as I ate them the next day. They were just as good as they were the night before! No, they’re not even close to a traditional falafel (which would not have been so tasty as a leftover). The texture is not even close. The density is though. And the flavor, pretty close. I suppose you could deep fry them and achieve something much closer, but that would be not so free of fat. What really made this dish a superstar was the super food sweet potato addition. You couldn’t really tell that they were in there! I cannot imagine it without the sauce; the falafels are a tad on the dry side.
I was a little surprised at how long these took me to make. Hence the picture of the leftovers, rather than a picture of our dinner as served the night before. They’d be good to make on a Sunday afternoon with plans to pack the leftovers into lunches throughout the week. I preferred them in a salad to inside a pita, as the pita dryness combined with the falafel dryness made for sauce sinning, which totally defeats the purpose of a fat free recipe. I can’t think of any way that I’d tweak this recipe! I think it’d be perfect for someone who doesn’t particularly care for sweet potatoes, but seeks to up her super food intake. Like my sister.

from La Dolce Vegan! by Sarah Kramer

for the Dressing:
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp oil (e.g. flax, hemp, grapeseed)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
for the Salad:
1/4 c quinoa, washed and rinsed
1 19-oz can black beans, rinsed
2 green onions, minced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1/4 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 small avocado, cubed
1/4 c cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 c frozen corn niblets

In a small pot of water, cook the quinoa accordingly. While the quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl, stir together the black beans, onions, tomatoes, celery, green peppers, avocado, and cilantro. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir together the oils, vinegar, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Once quinoa is done, remove from heat and stir in the corn. Let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove lid and let quinoa cool. Add quinoa and dressing to salad and toss together well. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

I have a confession to make. This is not a new recipe. In fact, I’ve made this salad so many times that I don’t even read the recipe anymore. HOWEVER, I’ve made a spectacular modification to the salad, that I feel deserves to be shared. Mango. I’ve omitted the corn and put fresh mango in its place, and does it taste gooood. Of course, since it’s not frozen, no need to add it to the hot quinoa. Just toss it in with the rest of the salad ingredients. I love to take this salad to family dinners, since it’s soy- and gluten-free, which my sister requires.
Of course, my version of this salad never contains cilantro. Nobody seems to miss it. There’s a lot going on here, both in the texture and flavor realms. Green pepper adds a nice crunch, quinoa a little pop, and the chili powder a nice subtle zing that’s mellowed by avocado. I’ve used grapeseed oil in the past, with the corn version, and it made it just a little lighter and fruitier. For my mango substitution I used only olive oil and it was just as tasty.
Also, it’s hard to find a 19-ounce can of beans (I think it’s a Canadian thing). I usually use 2 15-ounce cans; and I double the recipe and it still seems beany enough. To be honest my salad ingredients are never measured and are way off… whole green pepper, 1/2 cup quinoa (which, by the way, cooks ever so delightfully in your rice cooker), 2 large avocados… obviously this is a flexible salad. I’m wondering what kind of variation you might try?