Archive for the ‘vegan’ Category


I made this pesto for my daughter and her vegan friend. My daughter often is not fond of pesto because of the strong basil taste. This recipe incorporates spinach, which makes the flavor much more mild and eliminates the need for a side salad or veggie. I had mine with macerated tomatoes on the side (diced tomatoes, minced garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, chopped basil and Italian parsley– combine and let sit for an hour or more).

In a food processor, combine (amounts are approximate– adjust for your taste– I added a little extra basil when I made it again for myself):

1 (packed) cup basil leaves, rinsed
2 (packed) cups baby spinach, large stems removed if you’re ambitious, rinsed (don’t worry about residual water)
3 cloves of garlic
1 t sea salt
1/3 cup lightly toasted pine nuts, cooled
1/3 cup raw walnuts (adjust nuts to your taste– I like a lot. The walnuts add good protein)
Olive oil until the pesto is combined and soft– approx 1/3-1/2 cup. I like a lot of olive oil– it makes the pesto creamy and soft.
If you like, add a couple 1″ cubes of Reggiano cheese.
Blend until creamy. Combine with cooked pasta– something that hold the pesto well. Serve with macerated tomatoes and red wine (water for the kiddies).


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I’ve never been a pickler or canner, I actually never really appreciated a pickle that wasn’t a really good homemade dill pickle. But recently I’ve been enjoying other random pickled vegetables. I have zero patience for projects where the process takes much planning and where there’s the possibility of contamination or, God forbid, poisoning someone. Still, I really didn’t want to be at the mercy of some pricy restaurant to enjoy pickled vegetables. So, with about 2 minutes of research for basic proportion, and no know-how whatsoever, I thought I would give some quick pickles a try. Here’s what I did, but I would encourage you to experiment. This is in no way a recipe for canning pickles, or producing anything that can be put on a shelf indefinitely. This is a recipe [that’s being generous] for making something resembling pickled vegetables that you make, cool, and consume immediately with friends and some cheese, charcuterie, and wine.

I put about 2 cups of miscellaneous vinegars in a non-reactive pot. It was a mix of cider, red wine, and rice vinegar. I added about a cup of sugar and a 1/2 cup of water. I added about a teaspoon of turmeric [I would recommend more like 2 tablespoons], a teaspoon of salt, a few juniper berries, some green peppercorns, a bay leaf, and a handful of sliced ginger. I brought it to a boil to dissolve the sugar then added 2 bunches of small radishes that had been halved or quartered [depending on size] and half a red onion. I let it boil for about three minutes, scooped it into a tempered glass container with a lid, and threw it into the fridge.

They got good reviews. I’m going to try to reuse the liquid… maybe add more vinegar and sugar and adjust the spices; there definitely could have been more kick. I might even throw in a peeled, hard- boiled egg or two to see what happens. Or perhaps do those separately; do you think it would make the vegetables taste eggy??

Refrigerate them and consume them expeditiously! Now, you’re a quickler…

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This is my favorite lentil soup. Beginning when I was a teenager in Michigan, we visited almost weekly a small Lebanese restaurant. To this day I have not had Lebanese food as good as we had there. Many of my Middle Eastern dishes I develop are aimed to taste the way they did at this small family restaurant. What makes this lentil soup unique is the fresh lemon and the greens. I prefer to use swiss chard, but many people use spinach or just parsley. I think the chard holds up better. What makes this soup really extraordinary is the fresh lemon juice. You’ll never make lentil soup another way…

Begin by chopping a small yellow onion [I used half of a large onion], 2 carrots, and 2 stalks of celery and sauté them in a few tablespoons of olive oil in a medium size soup pot. If you want, you can sauté the onion alone until it’s brown, and then add the carrot and celery; this makes for a richer broth. I like the soup light, I think it’s nicer with the lemon. I leave the veggies in medium size chunks so they don’t disappear into mush when cooked.

After the veggies have sautéed, add about 2 cups of dry green lentils that have been rinsed and looked over. As with beans, you will sometimes find small stones amid dry lentils. Rinsing them washes away any contaminates and any lentil dust that might thicken or cloud the soup liquid. Add the lentils to the veggies and sauté for a few minutes to let the flavors absorb into the lentils.

Add chicken stock and water. Homemade stock is of course the best, but I use a 1 qt. container of organic, low sodium chicken stock and 4 cups of water. I don’t think it’s as good if it tastes too much like chicken. To make vegetarian or vegan use vegetable stock or just water. You can add more liquid as the soup cooks to maintain the consistency you like; I don’t like it ultra thick and always end up adjusting the liquid. Add a bay leaf, 3 [or more] large cloves of garlic peeled and whole, about 1 T of [preferably white] whole peppercorns, and a small cinnamon stick. I prefer the peppercorns whole, as I enjoy biting into them unexpectedly, but you can omit them or put them with the garlic in a bouquet garni with some parsley stems. Let the soup simmer for about an hour, skimming the top when needed, until the lentils are tender.

When the soup is ready, cut the ribs out of two or three large leaves of chard. Cut the ribs into small pieces [I like to cut them on the diagonal– they’re pretty] and sauté in olive oil or coconut oil in a skillet. I pretty much keep an iron skillet on a burner constantly that I cook greens in. When the chard stems start to soften, add the leaves that have been cut into small strips. When the leaves are wilted, add them to the soup. If you’re using spinach you can just throw it in the soup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a large wedge of lemon [I like Meyer lemon, the flavor is less acidic and richer]. You can add the lemon juice to the pot, and if you add a little it keeps the greens fresher looking; but I like the fresh juice squeezed when served. I don’t like the taste of lemon juice after it’s been sitting in food.

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i’m still working my way through the middle east and yes, i realize this photo looks a lot like the kefta photo. i could put yogurt on everything and be totally content forever…

in college i used to buy the middle eastern falafel mix, and honestly, i don’t think i could have told you what was in it. this recipe is from scratch, and it’s almost an entirely different food altogether. i looked around for different recipes, and created this one taking what i thought were the best aspects of all of them. most of the recipes used only chickpeas, but a couple used chickpeas [garbanzo beans] and fava beans. i used the combination of the two, the fava beans are a little softer and give the falafel an overall softer, more delicate texture.

the first thing i noticed when i finished was the lack of salt. either by mix or from a restaurant, the falafel i have had has been a lot more salty. i liked the less salt, but if you are expecting the more salty taste, adjust the seasoning.


to make falafel from scratch you need to reconstitute the garbanzo and fava beans. add 2 cups of water to 1 cup of dried garbanzo beans, and 1 cup of water to 1/2 cup dried, skinned fava beans. soak overnight. the next day rinse and drain the beans.


put a pan with about 1″ of canola or vegetable oil on low to heat.

chop the fava beans and garbanzo beans in a food processor until they are finely ground. move them to a large bowl. put 1/2 cup each cilantro and parsley in the food processor with 1 small, cut- up yellow onion, and 4 cloves of garlic. add the parsley and onion mixture to the ground beans along with 1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs, 4 T flour, 1/2 t sea salt [1 t for more traditional flavor], 3/4 t baking soda, 1/4 t baking powder, 1/2 t paprika, 1/4 t turmeric, 1 1/2 t ground coriander, 3/4 t ground cumin, 1/8 t ground cardamom, 1/4 t cayenne pepper [optional], and ground black pepper. mix well, and add just enough water so that the mixture sticks together well when patted into a ball. if you are making the mixture in advance, do not add the baking powder and baking soda until 10-15 minutes before cooking as they will lose their activity.


take a handful of the mixture and form it into a small patty with your hand. smooth out the surface, if it is too crumbly, add a bit more water; you want it wet but not soggy. gently drop the falafel into the hot oil. you can add a tiny bit of the mixture into the oil to check for temperature. the falafel will absorb too much oil if it is not hot enough. when brown, flip over and continue to cook until brown. remove with a slotted utensil and drain on paper towels. we ate ours with plain yogurt seasoned with cumin, salt, lemon juice, and chopped parsley and had chopped tomatoes on the side. i had three; they were amazingly crunchy on the outside and soft and fragrant on the inside.

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citrus is one of the bright spots of winter, as far as i’m concerned; they are like jewels in a snowstorm with their bright color, vitamins, and juicy texture. this salad combines the sweetness of blood oranges with the grassy taste of spanish olive oil, tartness of vinegar, and mint. i made this with roast lamb, it was a lovely, fresh accompaniment.

with a sharp knife, remove rind of 6 blood oranges, cutting just inside of the membrane separating sections. cut into 1/4″ slices. add the seeds from one half of a pomegranate. combine 1/4 c really good quality olive oil with about 3T (to taste) of pomegranate or balsamic vinegar. add salt and pepper to taste and pour over oranges and pomegranate seeds. garnish with chiffonade* of fresh mint.

*a chiffonade is a technique for cutting leaves of herbs or lettuces. stack leaves and cut thinly into 1/16 – 1/8″ ribbons.

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the problem with my newly remodeled kitchen, not much else is getting done around the castle. the moat is nearly dry, the turret needs dusting, you get the picture…


this slaw is a one-pan dish, my favorite. serve it warm.

heat to very hot temp (just before smoking point): 1 T each: coconut oil, grape seed oil and sesame oil. put into skillet 1/2 of a large white cabbage, shredded. allow to sit for a minute to brown, then with tongs, toss. allow to brown again. continue until cabbage just starts to turn limp, then remove from heat.

add: 1/4 c rice vinegar, 2 T mirin, 1-2 T chili oil, 1T seaweed flakes, 1-2 T soy sauce
[to taste], juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 T toasted sesame seeds, 2 t sea salt, ground black pepper, chopped parsley, 1 t sugar. garnish with chopped toasted almonds, if you like.


slice 1 english cucumber, thinly. in a small pan combine: 1/2 c good, fragrant vodka [try your local distillers], 1/4 c rice vinegar, 1 T olive oil, 3 smashed, dried juniper berries, a 1/2 inch square cube of ginger, peeled, 2 T mirin or sake, 1 t sea salt, and
1 T sugar. simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, do not allow to reduce. pour over sliced cucumbers, remove juniper berries and ginger, and add freshly ground pepper.

this can also be combined with thin slices fennel and/or jicama. serve warm or chill.

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this dip is so easy, and so hearty. i love roasted eggplant, and the beans add more protein. just eat it with toasted bread and wine…

cut 2 eggplants in half lengthwise. rub with olive oil, and place in a well- oiled baking pan, cut-side down. bake at 400 degrees until the eggplant is soft, and the pan is caramelized.  remove eggplant and scoop out the pulp, make sure to get all of the brown pieces in the pan, and put into a food processor with the blade attachment.

add about 1 c of cooked white beans [cooked dried limas, great northern, whatever…], 2 cloves of fresh garlic, salt and pepper to taste, juice of one half to 1 lemon, and 1 1/2 T of sesame oil. puree until smooth. garnish with olive oil and chopped parsley. serve with crostini [toasted or grilled bread rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil].

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