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Spinach with Pine Nuts & Raisins

7 to 8 cups fresh spinach
1 cup golden raisins, plumped slightly in hot water 15 minutes, drained well, and dry on paper towel
1 cup pine nuts, slightly toasted in a dry skillet
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

Chop the spinach if using a bunch; just rinse if using baby spinach. Set aside.

When ready to cook, place oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add pine nuts and raisins and stir to heat with oil. The pine nuts and raisins will warm. Add the spinach and toss with tongs to combine with other ingredients. Cook until hot and spinach is wilted. Serve immediately. Some like to drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and squeeze some lemon on top.

Roasted Vegetable Wraps

Roasted Vegetable Wraps Wraps are a burrito-like sandwich, with a wider variety of fillings and flavors than just Mexican. Wrap sandwiches first burst upon the lunch scene about 10 years ago and have been wildly popular ever since. These sandwiches are variations of traditional sandwiches (bread, cheese, vegetables, flavorful spread to moisten); but the bread is different. It uses flatbread instead of sliced bread. Any type of flat bread is spread with a hot or cold sandwich filling, rolled up, and eaten out of hand. For the wrap, you can use flavored or plain tortillas, moistened cracker bread, rice paper wrappers, cooled crepes, split pita breads, and for low carb eaters, sturdy large iceberg lettuce leaves. This variation is a winter vegetable combination. Wrap the tortillas in foil and toss them into the oven for the last 10 minutes of roasting the vegetables to warm them so they will be nice and pliable to roll up. Serves 4 1-pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 medium) 8-ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 large red or orange bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme 2 tablespoons lemon juice 3/4 cup prepared hummus sandwich spread (see following recipe), or your favorite hummus Four fresh 8-inch flour or whole wheat tortillas, warmed Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potatoes and green beans with the oil. Spread the potatoes and beans over two-thirds of a large baking sheet. In the same bowl toss the peppers with a bit of oil, then spread them over the remaining third of the baking sheet. Season all the vegetables with salt and pepper. Cover the vegetables with a piece of aluminum foil, leaving the peppers uncovered. Roast for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, coriander and thyme. Uncover the potatoes and beans and sprinkle the spice blend and lemon juice over all the vegetables. Toss the vegetables to coat. Return to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 25 to 35 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender and browned. Prepare the hummus sandwich spread if you have not done so already. Spread about 3 tablespoons of hummus over each tortilla, leaving a 2-inch uncovered border all around. Divide the roasted vegetable filling among the tortillas; fold in two sides and roll up as you would a burrito, placing the seam side down so the wraps stay closed. Serve immediately. Hummus Sandwich Spread •16 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained •2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste) •2 tablespoons lemon juice •2 tablespoons olive oil •Pinch of sea salt In food processor or blender, combine drained chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. Blend well until desired whipped and smooth consistency. Remove to medium bowl. Cover tightly and store in refrigerator

Roasted Asparagus

What is spring without asparagus? Here is the best way to prepare the green-as-spring spring spear that looks like a miniature tree when standing on its end. Foolproof and fabulous, roasted asparagus is a hit at all parties and everyone seems to love it. No large pots of boiling water to deal with, no unpleasant aromas wafting through the kitchen, and much less chance of over-cooking. The flavor is intensified and they are easy to eat. Don’t use the pencil-thin spears, go for the thicker ones for best results. There are 12 to 16 spears per pound of asparagus. Often I don’t even bother with a sauce here since they taste so good plain. Slather with butter that has been kneaded with grated lemon zest just out of the oven to melt, or add some lemon zest and a bit of juice to some sour cream. I also sometimes sprinkle just before serving with a big cup of toasted pecan pieces. Day old cold roasted asparagus is good on a salad.

helpful hints
•Choose asparagus that is perky, not at all limp (it’s usually sold in 1-pound bundles)
•The tough bottom end will snap off at its natural breaking point

3 pounds medium-thick stalks asparagus, ends snapped off with your hands; discard tough ends

1/2 cup olive oil

Sea salt or fine Himalayan pink salt, for sprinkling

A dozen grinds of black pepper

Preheat oven to 425º. Divide the asparagus between 2 and 3 baking sheets. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet ( you can line with foil or parchment if desired). Toss the spears with the olive oil, coating them nicely and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake, uncovered and shaking the pan once or twice to turn the asparagus, until just tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 10 minutes, depending upon thickness. You can bake two pans at once if you like, but switch the positions halfway through. Or else just roast one pan at a time; this goes fast so I often do this. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature, cover and carry to DC. Can be made the day before, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Serves 8 to 12.

Pumpkin Pecan Bread

Pumpkins are the fruit of a large herbaceous plant with long, vinelike shoots and curling tendrils. They have a silky, bright orange pulp that adds a delicate flavor and moisture to quick breads. Use a fresh Sugar Pie pumpkin (the small compact ones, not the Jack o’Lanterns) or other winter squash, such as a large Blue Hubbard, for the best flavor when making your own purée, although commercially canned pumpkin is also an excellent alternative. One of the most important techniques in baking quick loaves is beating the wet ingredients with a whisk or electric mixer to aerate and expand their total volume. The mixture will double, becoming thick and creamy at the same time. The dry ingredients are mixed separately, with all the leavenings evenly distributed. All intense beating is done while these two mixtures are separate. The dry and the wet ingredients are then mixed together with a quick and light hand (never beaten unless specifically directed to do so) to avoid activating the gluten in the flour. Recipes need to be followed exactly, with the mixing done in the manner outlined in each recipe. The proper oven temperature is important for “oven spring,” the final expanding of the dough when in contact with heat. Bake on the middle shelves with at least two inches of space between each pan to allow the heat to circulate. A quick loaf is finished baking when the top looks and feels firm and dry; when the edges pull slightly away from the sides of the pan; when it is evenly browned; and when a cake tester inserted into the center comes out dry. If the center is still gooey, continue to bake another 5 to 8 minutes.

Ingredients:
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. non-aluminum baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground allspice
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin purée
1 cup light olive oil
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
⅓ cup water
1 cup chopped pecans
8 whole pecan halves, for garnish

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 8-by-4-by-3-inch loaf pans and set them aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices. In a medium bowl, carefully whisk together the pumpkin purée, oil, maple syrup, and water.
Add the oil mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Use a spatula to fold the ingredients together. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well, finding any stray bits of flour and sugar that might have been left behind. Fold in the chopped pecans.
Divide the batter between the prepared pans and arrange 4 whole pecan halves on the top down the center of each loaf.
Bake 60 to 70 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of each loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let rest in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
Serve the bread warm, in thick slices. Loaves can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 5 days. These loaves freeze well and can be left at room temperature to thaw and enjoy. Makes two 8-by-4-by-3-inch loaves.

Otsu Japanese Noodles

One of the basics of vegetarian cooking is taking advantage of the wide range of noodles and pasta. Soba, the Japanese word for buckwheat, is made from Japanese grown buckwheat flour. There are a number of types of soba, either 100% buckwheat or with part wheat flour added, even flavored with green tea powder or seaweed. Soba contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which is lacking in wheat, as well as antioxidants. So soba is very very healthy for protein as far as noodles go. I am not sure where the name Otsu came from, but it is a village in Japan outside Kyoto. Serve right away hot/warm (winter), room temperature, or cold from the fridge (summer). Leftovers are AWESOME served cold. Remove from the fridge, leave standing at room temperature for an hour or so, and amaze your taste buds at how delicious these noodles can be. The cucumber offers a pleasant crunch, the sesame/soy flavor is almost addictive. Add cubed sauteed tofu, if you like. A very “zen” dish like the monks make in Japanese temples… Make it, and you will be making it again, and again!

For the dressing:

Zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce or wheat free soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

For the noodles:
12-ounces buckwheat soba noodles
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (toast in a dry skillet)

Make the dressing by combining the lemon zest, ginger, honey, and cayenne in a small bowl, mixing with a whisk (you can use a small food processor, if available). Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, and continue mixing (or processing) until smooth. Drizzle the olive oil and the sesame as you mix, to form an emulsion. Set aside.
Cook the noodles in boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes (do not overcook), drain, and rinse briefly in cold water. Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the prepared dressing, then add the cilantro and cucumber; toss to combine. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve. Add more fresh cilantro if you like.

Oatmeal Crisps

Everyone loves oatmeal cookies. These have no eggs and almost no flour, making a crunchy cookie. You can double the recipe.

• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) softened unsalted butter
• 3 tablespoons organic granulated cane sugar
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
• 2/3 cup rolled oats

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, mix butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and salt until smooth; mix in rolled oats.

2. Drop firmly packed teaspoons of dough, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets. Bake until golden,rotating sheets halfway through, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on sheet 1 minute. With a very thin metal spatula, slip under each cookie and transfer to paper towels laid out on the counter or over a metal cooling rack to cool completely. Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Kurma’s Tomato Rice with Herbs

Kurma’s Tomato Rice with Herbs

There are not too many margii cooks who do not own at least one of Kurma Dasa’s cookbooks, such as Cooking with Kurma or Great Vegetarian Dishes. He has been cooking almost 40 years and is a famous foodie since he is on Australian food TV for Cooking with Kurma. Since Kurma cooks in the manner of the Hare Krishnas, his vegetarian style of cooking follows the same ingredient rules as the marga sentient diet, so his books are easy to cook from. His style is labeled gourmet eclectic. The Hare Krishna guru’s name was A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, whose first temple was established in New York City in 1966. He was a fabulous cook and held weekly Sunday feasts. The dishes always included a rice dish of some sort along with other Indian style preparations. Prabhupada had originally adopted the name ‘Love Feast’ for these buffets, and he had told the devotees that such feasts for the public should become an important part of the Hare Krishna movement. “Vegetarian food offered to Krishna becomes spiritual and whoever eats the food – called prasadam – receives great spiritual benefit.” “This cooking is actually called bhakti-yoga, the yoga of love”. Giving people spiritual life in the form of delicious pure vegetarian food cooked with love is what bhakti-yoga is all about”.

This simple combination of basmati rice with herbs, tomato, with an Italian flavor can be served as a side dish or also be used as an alternative stuffing for whole baked bell peppers.

Serves 4 persons

Ingredients

1 cup basmati or other long-grain white rice

1 3/4 cups boiling water

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1 tablespoon tomato paste (the brand that comes in a tube like toothpaste is great for small amounts)

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped fine

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon yellow asafoetida powder

A heaping 1 cup chopped firm Roma plum tomatoes (seeded and cut into 1.25 cm (1/2-inch) cubes)

2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

Wash, drain, and dry the rice.

Bring the water, salt, paprika, tomato paste, and basil slowly to a boil in a 2-litre/quart saucepan over moderate heat.

Heat the olive oil in a non-sticking 2-litre/quart saucepan over moderately low heat. Saute the asafoetida in the hot oil. Add the rice and stir fry for about 2 minutes or until the rice grains turn whitish.

Pour in the boiling water. Stir, raise the heat to high, and bring the water to a full boil. Immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and gently simmer, without stirring, for 15 – 20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender and flaky.

Remove the rice from the heat and allow it to stand and steam for 5 minutes with the lid on. Finally, fold in the tomatoes and fresh parsley and serve immediately.

Jyoti’s Thai Vegetable Slaw

This is one of the most popular salads and requested recipes, a raw cabbage slaw with fresh herbs and peanuts, from Jyoti Freidland she used to make for the spring season in her vegetarian deli. Cabbage salads, also known as cole slaw, are crunchy and slightly sweet. Sesame seeds add an interesting mouth feel to salads and vegetables, and are considered a healthy superfood for the oil they contain. The seeds contain a number of beneficial minerals, and are also high in sesamin and sesamolin, two substances found to reduce cholesterol and prevent high blood pressure. Sesame seeds come in several colors, and are used in many dishes, particularly in Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. Wash the herbs, spin dry with salad spinner or dry with paper towels, then roughly chop. Some versions add a small amount of fresh mint leaves, which combines beautifully with the basil and cilantro. This doesn’t keep well, so only make as much as will be eaten right away. You can also mix the dressing, chop all the vegetables and herbs, store them in the fridge, and mix the salad right before you’re going to eat it. This is also good with some thin sliced raw water chestnuts added as well.

INGREDIENTS:

Dressing:

1 cup olive oil

1/2 cup rice vinegar (don’t use seasoned vinegar, which contains sugar)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Amino

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional, but the hint of spiciness is nice)

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Slaw:

1 small head napa cabbage, thinly sliced or julienne in strips about 3/8 inch wide

1/2 cup red cabbage, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, thinly sliced or julienne

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 cup chopped holy basil (preferably) or regular basil leaves

1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

1 tablespoon black sesame seeds, toasted (optional)

1/2 cup chopped peanuts, toasted

DIRECTIONS
1.Make the dressing: whisk together all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Adjust the taste. (I used the bowl and immersion blender to mix the dressing) Let dressing sit so flavors can blend while you chop other ingredients.
2.In a separate bowl, combine the cabbages, carrot, cilantro, basil, then pour on some of the dressing (you wont use all of the dressing. Toss well to evenly coat the cabbage.
3.Toast the sesame seeds about 1 minute in a small dry pan, until they start to be fragrant and slightly browned. Add the sesame seeds and peanuts.
4. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and serve right away. Best served the day it is made. Store any leftover dressing in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Italian Asparagus Pie

This is an Italian recipe for an easy, yet impressive, asparagus tart. It is baked in a pizza pan, so it is a large, flat torta.

For the dough:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing the pan
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole milk, plus extra if needed

For the filling:

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
3 pounds asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Make the dough: Combine the flour, salt, milk, and olive oil on a counter. Add a little more milk if the dough is dry, or a little more flour if the dough is sticky. Knead 30 seconds, or until smooth, and wrap the disc in plastic. Let rest at room temperature 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt and the asparagus, and cook 8 minutes, or until soft. Drain and shock in ice water. Drain again and blot dry. Chop finely.

Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over a medium flame. Add the asparagus, 1/2 cup of water, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and saute for 5 minutes, or until the water evaporates. You might need to do 2 batches. Place in a bowl. Cool to room temperature, then fold in the Parmigiano.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a round 16-inch pizza pan with low sides with olive oil.

Divide the dough into 2 uneven portions, one 2/3 and the smaller about 1/3 of the dough. Roll out the larger piece of dough until it is very thin on a lightly floured counter (it should measure about 22 inches in diameter) and line the prepared pan with it, letting excess dough hang over the sides of the pan. Spoon in the cool asparagus filling. Roll out the smaller piece of dough and lay on top of the filling. Fold over the overhang back onto the tart. Use the overhanging dough to create a pretty border around the tart that is pinched to connect the top section.

Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. Serves 4 as a main course. and 8 as an appetizer

Indian Spiced Roasted Potatoes

Everyone loves potatoes. And spring is the time for medium sized red, white, and yellow Yukon Gold new potatoes. These intensely flavored potatoes are so delicious you almost don’t want to serve anything else with them. The coating of spices turns into a crisp layer once the potatoes are cooked. The addition of sea salt and lime for serving adds a wonderful salty tang to the heat and spice, making it impossible to eat just one.

Ingredients

8 medium red potatoes, quartered

1 tablespoon fresh jalapeno pepper, finely minced

2 tablespoon creamy horseradish

1/3 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (depending how hot you like them)

1/2 teaspoon ginger powder

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh mint, for serving

2 to 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, for serving

Lime wedges, for serving

Sea salt

Instructions

Rinse and quarter the potatoes. Place the potatoes into a pot of boiling water. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until slightly fork tender but still able to hold their shape. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a medium deep mixing bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients and stir to distribute the spices in the olive oil. Add the potatoes and toss to coat. Spread the potatoes out onto a baking sheet, lined with parchment paper to avoid sticking. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, until the potatoes are golden and crisp.

Chiffonade the mint and cilantro by cutting it into thin strips. Sprinkle the fresh herbs on top of the hot potatoes. Serve with sea salt and fresh lime wedges. Serves: 4 to 6