My friend Pam made me the Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Greens from Martha Stewart Living, and from that point on, I found myself craving it often. The soup was super clean-tasting – and so simple to make that it was kind of astonishing.

Tonight I was having people over for a casual dinner and it seemed like a soup kind of night. But since I was serving it as a main course, it needed it a bit more heft. So I added white beans, and also switched up the herbs, using parsley in favor of dill. I also added way more kale –  a whole bunch instead of a few leaves.

This is a vegan soup that non-vegans seem to universally love. It’s got a nice smooth texture and is hearty while being completely virtuous. Homemade whole wheat croutons seem like an essential accompaniment.

Admittedly, with the addition of beans it’s not the same bright green color as the original, but I think it’s even more flavorful and satisfying. And I’m perfectly willing to sacrifice aesthetics for that. Aren’t you?

Cauliflower, Kale and White Bean Soup

1 cup dried white beans, such as cannellini or great northern, soaked overnight
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-3 leeks, white and light green parts sliced (about 2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups chopped kale leaves (about 1 medium bunch)
1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
4 cups vegetable stock (recommend Imagine No Chicken broth)
2 cups water
2 cups bean cooking liquid, plus 1 more cup if needed
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
½ cup flat-leaf Italian parsley leaves

Drain the beans and put them in a pot with water to cover by two inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the beans are tender, about one hour. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot or dutch oven.  Add the leeks and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for one minute more. Add the kale and cook, stirring, for five minutes.

Add the beans, cauliflower, stock, 2 cups of bean liquid, water, bay leaf, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 12 minutes. Add the parsley. Remove the bay leaf.

Cool, then puree in a food processor until smooth. Add the extra cup of bean cooking liquid if it seems too thick. Return to the pot and reheat.

Serves 4-6

Jun 25, 2012

Vegan chive pesto

Every year my two beautiful chive plants leave me a bit stumped. What to do with so many chives?

This weekend I was determined to use a big bunch of them in one shot. The way to do that was clear: chive pesto. So into the food processor they went. In addition to the essential olive oil, lemon and garlic, I added parsley to give it a rounder flavor, plus toasted almonds, which I always use in my pesto. Since I don’t eat cheese, I also included a bit of nutritional yeast. While it certainly doesn’t taste like Parmigiano Reggiano, it does add a little something extra, including B complex vitamins.

I served this pesto with roasted fingerling potatoes, which was a perfect combination. As you can imagine from the photo, the flavor was super fresh and lively. Loved it!

The recipe as written uses 2 cups of chopped chives. I know that’s a lot, so unless you’re overflowing with chives like I am, feel free to halve the recipe. Or freeze some to use next winter when you’re craving a burst of green.

Then again, you might find yourself eating this up rather quickly. It’s lovely with eggs, stirred into white bean soup, or served on grilled tofu or salmon. If you have any other ideas, do send them my way. I have a lot more chives in the garden, just waiting to be picked.

Vegan Chive Pesto

2 cups roughly chopped chives
1 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
¼ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
Black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth.

A few months back I made a salad with arugula, beets, oranges, avocados and hazelnuts. The combination of beets and hazelnuts was so delicious that I decided to create a quinoa salad using some of the same flavors. The result is a salad that’s as delicious as it is pretty.

And let’s not forget, this is a dish you can feel great about eating, because:

  • Beets contain powerful phytonutrients called belatains.
  • Hazelnuts serve up protein, vitamin E and “good fats”.
  • Quinoa provides a complete protein, and is a good source of magnesium.

Now, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you might be wondering if I’m a little obsessed with beet salads. And nuts. And quinoa. The answer is yes…yes….and yes.  You got a problem with that?

Quinoa and Beet Salad with Hazelnuts and Mint

1 cup quinoa
1 ½ cups water
¾ cup diced roasted beets
1/3 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts (or substitute pistachios or almonds)
¼ cup sliced scallions
¼ cup minced fresh mint
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt

Place the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 12 minutes, until you see the rings separate from the kernels of quinoa and it’s tender-crunchy.  Set aside and cool.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Eat.

Serves 4

 

I was trying to come up with a one-pot Indian meal to make to go along with my usual Sunday night TV extravaganza (Mad Men! The Killing! The Good Wife! Girls!). Something like comfort food, Indian-style. I found my starting point with Fat Free Vegan’s Cauliflower Dal with Panch Poran.

Panch phoran is a blend of five spices including cumin and fennel seeds. You can find it at any Indian store or on Amazon – or make your own.

I wanted to pump up the recipe with even more protein and vegetables – chickpeas, spinach, potatoes and peas did the trick. You can leave out one or two of the extra vegetables if you’d like, but I think the chickpeas are essential. If it seems strange to include both lentils and chickpeas, don’t fret – the lentils dissolve and become part of the sauce. This stew is delicious served with brown rice and topped with a dollop of yogurt (or soy yogurt if you’re vegan.)

Because I was looking for comfort food, I kept this curry on the mild side. Of course, it would also be great spiced up with more cayenne pepper. But maybe that’s for a Saturday night instead of Sunday :)

Red Lentil and Vegetable Curry

1 1/2 cups masoor dal or red lentils
4 cups water (or use half vegetable broth)
1 tablespoon organic canola oil or high-oleic safflower oil
1 rounded tablespoon panch phoran
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
16 ounces chopped tomatoes (recommend BPA-free Pomi brand)
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium red potato, diced
1/2 cup water
3/4 teaspoon salt (or a bit more, to taste)
1½ cups cooked chickpeas (if using canned, I recommend BPA-free Eden brand)
5-ounce container baby spinach
1 cup frozen peas

Rinse the lentils and place them in a pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are very tender, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the panch phoran and cook for a two minutes or until a seed pops. Add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, until onions are softened. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper, and cook for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, potato (if using), water and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes.

Add the lentils, chickpeas, spinach and peas. Gently stir in the spinach until it wilts. Simmer 5 minutes. Adjust salt to taste.

Serves 6

The first time I made muffins with nut butter and bananas, they were a bust.  I thought that since they contained bananas, a little bit of maple syrup would be enough to sweeten them. And I figured a few tablespoons of peanut butter would add a lot of flavor. Wrong on both counts. The result was a mediocre muffin that didn’t taste like much of anything.

I quickly realized that this is one time when I couldn’t skimp so much on the fat and sugar. So for round two I used more nut butter and sweetener, and switched to almond butter and brown sugar. I also added cinnamon to further boost the flavor. Bingo! These are terrific – the almond butter adds a lovely richness, and they’re nice and crunchy on the edges. (Note that the muffins are at their best soon after baking – as they sit, the crunchiness goes away. Still good, though.)

So if you’re in the mood for a slightly indulgent breakfast treat, these banana almond butter muffins will make you very happy.  And if you want to be absolved of any guilt, here you go: they’re 100% vegan and whole grain.

Banana Almond Butter Muffins

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
3/4 cup oat flour (or grind rolled oats in a food processor)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
1 heaping cup mashed super-ripe banana
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk, curdled by adding 1 teaspoon white vinegar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup smooth, unsalted organic almond butter
¼ cup high-oleic safflower oil
1 1/2 tablespoons ground flax seed vigorously mixed with ¼ cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In one bowl, mix the flour, ground oats, baking powder, soda, salt and spices. In another bowl, thoroughly combine the banana, almond milk, sugar, almond butter, oil, flax and vanilla. Stir the wet and dry mixtures together, combining only until mixed.

Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking oil spray (I like Spectrum’s canola spray with flour). Fill the cups nearly to the top, then top with sliced almonds. Bake for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool before eating.

Serves 12

I’m always amazed at how divisive kale is. People either say they love it more than any other food, or they can’t stand it.  However, I find that those who say they hate it really haven’t eaten it more than once or twice – and they probably haven’t had it prepared in an interesting way.

Today I made a kale salad that’s sweet, salty, chewy and crunchy. I used tamari almonds and dried apricots, but there are endless variations on this dried fruit-and-nut theme. Sliced almonds and cranberries, pistachios and cherries, pine nuts and golden raisins, etc.  They’re all great.  And if you’re a cheese eater, a little shaved parmigiano-reggiano on top would be delicious.

This salad could just be the thing to create “kale converts.” Try it out on a kale hater you love!

Kale Salad with Apricots and Almonds

1 bunch lacinato (Tuscan) kale
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
¼ cup tamari almonds, roughly chopped (for gluten-free, make your own with wheat-free tamari)
8 organic unsulphered dried apricots, diced
Pinch coarse sea salt
Pinch dried red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Wash the kale, then stem: grab the end of a stem in one hand, then use your other hand to tear off the leaf by pulling your fingers along the stem.

Slice all the kale very thinly and place in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently massage for about 30 seconds.

Keeps for one day.

Serves 4