Category Archives: vegetarian

Couscous Salad, Real Mediterranean Style

It’s springtime so I am thinking of lighter food, and of course salads come to my mind. I make this recipe with couscous or quinoa. I have another recipe for quinoa on my website so I figured that I would make one with couscous this time, but feel free to use either one. The dressing has a definite Greek flavor. This dish is perfectly tasty and served with grilled fish or chicken you have a perfect meal. As far as salads go, this one is perfection. This is not an exact science; if you like a lot of tomatoes, add more. If there is another item here that you don’t like, feel free to substitute, and I’d love to hear what you did. I love to hear variations on my recipes. This is so quick and easy to assemble. Can definitely be made ahead of time.

Ingredients: 

Vinaigrette:

1 clove garlic, finely minced

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 /2 teaspoon dried oregano (if you like to use fresh, use 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste – I started with a 1/4 teaspoon of Kosher Salt and a few grinds of the peppermill.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (use a good one)

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk in the olive oil slowly. Adjust the salt and pepper and set aside.

Ingredients for Couscous:

Prepare 1  box (usually 10 – 12 ounces) couscous (or quinoa) according to the directions but use 1/4 less water than it calls for. For example, the Near East Couscous calls for 2 cups of water or broth so I would reduce by 1/2 cup. After cooking, allow to cool for a bit then stick in the fridge for about an hour. I usually cook my couscous in either chicken broth or vegetable broth for extra added flavor.

1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half (I like a lot of tomatoes, so use more if you do too) I tend to like my tomatoes cut into smaller pieces but cut however you like just don’t leave whole

1 cup pitted black or Kalamata olives (I prefer Kalamata because they are saltier)

1 roasted red or orange pepper (you can use from jar) I just eyeballed from the jar, use as much as you’d like

1 cup garbanzo beans (drained from the can are fine)

6 ounces cubed feta cheese

1/4 cup sliced green onions or chopped red onion would work quite well here as well

* chopped cucumbers would be a nice addition as well, I didn’t use this time

In a large bowl, gently toss the couscous, tomato, pepper, olives, beans and feta. Add the dressing, transfer to a lovely serving bowl and there you go. This is so delicious and light, it’s a perfect side dish and a beautiful salad .

Cinco de Mayo Salad and Green Goddess Dressing

photo (2)photo (5)photo (2) photo May is here and it brings warm weather and beautiful flowers and springtime has finally arrived here in New York.  This is a perfect way to bring a little Cinco de Mayo into your home in a pretty healthy way.

Any excuse to celebrate a holiday with a new recipe! Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone and here is a new salad and salad dressing to help celebrate with. While I am not a vegan and don’t always cook that way,  I tried this salad dressing which I found in Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook, “It’s All Good”, and I have to say it is all good! All good ingredients. I am not talking diet food–just good, healthy food, that when eaten in moderation, yields very good results. I used * Vegenaise in making this and highly recommend it in the place of mayonnaise. You can also use yogurt in its place. This is low salt and low sugar. Delicious, fresh ingredients. I made it with the delicious salad listed below. I love love cilantro, and I have to say that if you don’t love cilantro, this one’s not for you. I used half of a jalapeno and it was not hot at all, next time I will use a little more.  I scraped the seeds out. Be very careful handling jalapenos and their seeds–make sure to wash your hands well afterwards and maybe wear gloves to prevent any problems.

*This dressing will keep well in a jar for up to a week.

*a little story about Vegenaise, which is lighter than mayonnaise and contains no eggs, milk or animal products. No GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms). Mix it with Dijon for great flavor in the place of real mayo. Extra added bonus is a great jar to store future salad dressings in.

Ingredients:

*this will be vegan if you use Vegenaise

DRESSING INGREDIENTS:

2/3 cup of Vegenaise, yogurt, or mayonnaise

2 scallions, white and light green parts only, chopped

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)

1/2 green jalapeno, roughly chopped (you can use more or less, whatever level of heat you like)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

DRESSING DIRECTIONS:

Blend all ingredients in a blender except for olive oil (I open the top and pour oil in after all other ingredients are combined.) It is a beautiful light green color with specks of dark green. Joel was definitely suspicious of the color but he really loved it! Gave it a big thumbs up!

This should serve 4 nicely as a salad but adjust quantities based on how many people you are feeding.

SALAD INGREDIENTS:

About two hearts of romaine Lettuce, shredded

1/2 can of yellow corn (or 2 fresh ears of corn, shucked)

1/2 can black beans (I use organic canned beans and rinse and drain them)

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1 ripe avocado, cut into chunks

approx. 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes (I used delicious cherry tomatoes, halved)

1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro

Green Goddess Dressing (see above)

If you’re using fresh corn, you’ll have to cook it first. I used the canned version this time. Place the lettuce in a large bowl and dress it with about 1/4 cup of the dressing, just so it’s nicely coated. I then added beans, tomatoes, scallions, avocado, cilantro and corn. Add a little more salad dressing, and serve immediately. Joel likes a lot more dressing on his salad so I served with dressing on the side. And no he didn’t eat all that stuff in the salad; he just ate lettuce and tomatoes…he really doesn’t know what he’s missing!

Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas – Vegan

DSCN0013DSCN0019 DSCN0024DSCN0025 I love cauliflower, Dijon mustard and chickpeas, so how bad can this possibly be?

So so good, that’s how good.

This is a perfect side dish and very healthy, to boot. Completely vegan, protein packed and very filling. I’m certain it would be delicious with broccoli as well. Give this a try!

Thanks again to Gwyneth Paltrow and her cookbook It’s All Good . It is all good!

Ingredients:

1 14 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained and then dried in a kitchen towel.

1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves removed and discarded, cut into bite size florets.

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/4 cup of olive oil

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard–I love Maille brand Dijon Mustard for just the right bite, but any Dijon mustard will do.

1 tablespoon whole grain mustard ( if you don’t have whole grain , just use all Dijon) it just adds a nice texture and looks good.

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

freshly ground black pepper

*sprinkling of about 1/4 cup of chopped Italian parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and set the rack in the middle.

Toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of kosher salt. Roast, stirring now and then, until everything starts to brown up nicely, and the cauliflower is quite soft (about 45 minutes.)

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and 1/4 cup of olive oil, and a few healthy grinds of black pepper. I didn’t think it needed more salt, the mustard was salty enough as was the cauliflower.  While the chickpeas and cauliflower are still warm, toss them with the mustard dressing and if you like, add a little sprinkling of parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset–Apple/Walnut

DSCN2703This is my easiest Charoset. It’s traditional in the sense that it’s an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe. I add a little brown sugar instead of white sugar and it gives it just a bit more character. This makes about 4 cups, but you can easily double it. My family loves it, so I always make a double batch. Remember, while a reminder of the mortar used in making bricks for Pharaoh, charoset is really just a sweet condiment of apples and wine!

Ingredients:

3 medium Fuji apples (or any other kind you like), peeled, cored and finely diced (use processor to make your life simpler) I usually use whatever is in the house, but on Passover I go through so many apples, so buy what you like (I always like Granny Smith because they are nice and tart)

1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (buy them pre-chopped)

1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga or just Concord Grape is fine

*20 pitted dates, chopped; or 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

*for a bit of extra added flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger (optional)

Directions:

After chopping apples, stir all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in refrigerator ’til ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. You can also pulse everything together in processor, just be very careful not to over-process. I often do this to save time. You don’t want it too fine, so just go gently with the processor if you go that route. I do it in the processor, and I know exactly how I like it to come out, so go easy with the chopping.  If it’s a little dry or too thick, you can always add more wine. I find this always tastes better after it sits and allows the wine  to really soak and ripen for 24 hours. Before serving, check for consistency and add a little more wine, if necessary.

Spinach Souffle for Passover-So Very Easy-Vegetarian/Dairy Side

Here we are again with all the matzoh meal and no flour for Passover, not to mention the 6 eggs that seem to be in every recipe.  I figured I’d be helpful for all of those looking for ways to reinvent the wheel. This recipe contains cinchy, easy ingredients, and its usually a crowd pleaser. So many variations of the same thing. This one can be made ahead and frozen, which is great. You will just cook it 1/2 way through before freezing, then defrost and cook at 350 degrees for about another 1/2 hour to 45 minutes later. This is a dairy side dish, so obviously won’t work for everyone but hold on to it because it is a keeper when looking for a vegetarian dairy side dish.

Ingredients: (can be doubled)

2 pkgs. frozen spinach (2 boxes) ( it’s app. 20 oz. of spinach, a bag and a half or 2 boxes)

1  bar of cream cheese (feel free to go lite but not fat-free please) *original recipe calls for 1 lb. I’ve been using 1 bar which is 8 oz. and works fine. Obiously it will be that much creamier but not necessary with 2 bars.(1 lb) and that much more fattening! you can leave out to soften or use microwave to soften, not melt.

2 lbs. cottage cheese (also not fat-free please) part skim is just fine

1 cup matzoh meal

6 eggs, well-beaten

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a nice casserole or any baking dish you like to serve in (round souffle large ramekin is perfect) with Pam. Cook spinach thoroughly according to directions (you can microwave it) and drain well by squeezing out all the water–which is the most important tip. Melt the cream cheese in microwave (start out with about 20 seconds, which should do it; but if not, do a little more at a time until totally melted). Add all ingredients in bowl, salt and pepper to taste. Bake 1 hour until golden brown at 350 degrees. If you are making this ahead of time, as I said you can cook 1/2 way through and freeze. Then the day before you want to serve it, take it out of freezer, defrost, and cook the rest of the way through–another 1/2 hour to 45 minutes till golden brown, and bubbly.

Green Pea Soup from Bergdorf Goodman – Happy St. Patricks Day

IMG_7457IMG_7459IMG_7455 IMG_7466 IMG_7469Let’s celebrate St. Patricks Day with this delicious green soup! The first time I had this soup was downstairs in BG and I thought to myself I must re-create this delicious light soup. Low and behold along came *The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook which included this delicious recipe.   My two favorite items to order on the BG menu are the Gotham Salad and  the Green Pea Soup and they are both right there in this wonderful little cookbook. There are many other delightful recipes in the book as well which make it a worthwhile purchase. The shocking part of this delicious soup was the addition of a sweet potato and soy sauce. I didn’t see that coming, I would have made it without either of those two items. The soy sauce adds an intense layer of flavor and the potato gives it some real texture. Blend well. I used my high-speed blender for this .

*The Bergdorf Goodman Cookbook by Laura Silverman–available through Amazon or Bergdorf Goodman

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 whole sweet potato, peeled and chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, if you have white pepper use it but I didn’t so I used black

3 3/4 cups chicken stock

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 lb. fresh or frozen , thawed green peas. I used one whole bag of frozen green peas.

1/2 cup chopped fresh flat parsley

Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-low heat and sauté the onion, celery, carrots, sweet potato, garlic, salt and pepper until the vegetables are tender but not brown. I let it cook down for about 1/2 hour.

Add the stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Stir in the peas and just blanch them for a minute.

Turn off the heat. Cool slightly, then add the parsley ( don’t omit the fresh parsley, please) Taste for Salt but I found it was just right with the 1 teaspoon.

In a blender or food processor, do it in batches ( I did it in 3) , puree all the ingredients until smooth. Serve warm!

Love the taste and enjoy all the healthy benefits!!!

*can be made vegan with vegetable stock

Mushroom Barley Soup (can be vegetarian)

I have the funniest story about me and this soup. The first time I made it, I received the recipe from a friend. I didn’t see that it said .5 lbs. of mushrooms and I thought it was 5 lbs! So you can only imagine how much chopping I was doing. I had never seen a recipe say .5 instead of 1/2 lb! Joel happened to be in the kitchen and he kept saying that is an awful lot of mushrooms, and until I looked at it carefully I hadn’t seen that it said .5 . Who writes .5 ? Well, we had enough mushroom barley soup for the whole winter and then some–it expanded to a huge amount, and I had to keep adding liquid, it was hysterical. Once I realized what I had done, I had a good laugh, but the soup was still pretty tasty. I will write it it the way it should be and I doubt you’ll be making that same mistake any time soon. This is a very tasty , deeply robust soup, very healthy rendition of Mushroom Barley Soup. (and I always wear my reading glasses when I read a recipe now because you never know when you really need to see the difference between .5 and 5! )

Ingredients: 

1/3 cup dried mushrooms, like porcini

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

12 medium carrots, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 lb. of white mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1/2 lb. of shitake, cremini, portabello or other mushrooms, coarsely chopped

1/2 lb. of whole barley( I had to use pearl barley because that’s what I had in house, it’s fine) I just used 1/2 a bag. Don’t worry over exact measurements here, just eyeball it. If you have a scale, you can measre it exactly, I just halved the bag.

6 cups of beef broth (vegetarians can use vegetable broth)  and you will need the other 2 cups in the box if you are using boxed broth. You will need 8 cups total, just start out with 6.

3 tablespoons sherry

* 1 tablespoon sherry wine vinegar – I like this and add it before I serve it. It’s no biggie if you don’t want to use or don’t have it.

Directions:

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup of  hot water and set aside for 20 minutes. Reserve the liquid and finely chop mushrooms.

Heat oil in heavy bottom pot (Le Creuset).

Saute onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to turn golden and transparent. Add garlic and saute for a minute. I always throw a bit of kosher salt and pepper in while veggies saute. Just a bit, you’ll taste for Salt and Pepper later.

Add fresh mushrooms(dried ones as well)  and saute for about 5 minutes until mushrooms release their water. Raise the heat and add the barley. Saute until barley begins to color. Add broth and sherry. Add mushroom soaking liquid to pot. Add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Soup will start to naturally thicken as barley plumps up, if you need to add more liquid either water or broth will be just fine.  Simmer for about an hour, you will probably need more liquid, I always add the other 2 cups of broth, and I add water then if it is still too thick, play it by ear. I also add additional Salt and Pepper at this point, you will have to adjust to your own personal taste.  Add vinegar right before serving, if you are using it.  Serve with nice crusty bread! Enjoy!

This makes for a delightful lunch meal with a salad and bread. I also make this in the morning , put whole pot in fridge ( once it cools down) and right before dinner heat it up. This gives flavors time to meld together, and then if you need to add more liquid  you will add water since you’ve already added the additional 2 cups of broth. Freezes up beautifully, and exactly what I will do, because whole family will be coming to visit at the end of week, Yeah!!!! 🙂 🙂

Lasagna in the Slow Cooker

I have to say when I first heard about lasagna in the slow cooker I was sort of skeptical.  My friend Cathy told me about it; she said she had made it for her family and I should give it a go.   The original recipe is from Jessica Seinfeld, who sneaks vegetables and healthy stuff into her food. I did make a few changes from original recipe , I used more sauce and a little more salt , I used fresh spinach which can easily be substituted for ground turkey, sausage, or any type of meat you like.  Next time I make this recipe I will be using meat because it really was quite easy and pretty quick even by slow cooker standards. It cooked in 3 1/2 hours, looked amazing and tasted delicious. I am still a little surprised by how good it was. The spinach wilts down and almost looks like basil in there. Even if you don’t like spinach, don’t worry because even though you start out with 5 ounces (which looks like a lot),  you hardly taste it at all but for those of you who do like it, it’s an added bonus. This lasagna was moist, cheesy and hearty.   So get out your slow cookers and give it a go. This is especially great for a big crowd. It easily serves 6 people.  We of course had a chicken dish alongside, because no amount of prodding could get Joel to try the lasagna, once he saw the spinach. Oh well, what are you going to do? He doesn’t know what he’s missing.  Thanks Cathy for the great idea, and of course, Jessica Seinfeld.

Ingredients:

I used 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes (the recipe original calls for 3 14 oz. cans but I thought it needed a little more sauce and I used 2 large cans which are app. 28 oz. each . You can always use homemade sauce if you have it already made and want to use it. Just make sure you have enough.)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp. dried oregano

1 teaspoon kosher salt

*1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (use as much or as little of this, whatever you like)

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 containers (15 ounce each) ricotta (Fresh is awesome, but not always available. Use whatever you’d like. I used part- skim ricotta.)

2 cups grated mozzarella (again use whatever you’d like, package is fine. Just don’t use fat free, it doesn’t work well.)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

12 lasagna noodles (about 3/4 of a 1 lb. box) don’t cook them*see note at bottom

5 ounces (or 6 cups) of baby spinach (1 package in the produce section is 5 ounces)

Directions:

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, garlic, oregano, salt, red pepper and black pepper. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella and Parmesan.

In the bottom of a 5 – 6 quart slow cooker (which I sprayed with Pam first), spread a thin layer of sauce. Top with 3 of the noodles (breaking to fit as necessary). Spread about 1 cup of the sauce over the noodles and layer with 2 cups of the spinach and 1 1/2 cups of the cheese mixture. Repeat twice more with the noodles, sauce, spinach and cheese mixture. Top with the remaining 3 noodles, sauce and 1 cup of shredded mozzarella.

Cook on low, covered, for 3 – 3 1/2 hours. Noodles should be tender in center by then, mine was. I then switched it to warm until we ate it. I served it from slow cooker with a big spoon, you don’t get those neat little squares but it really held together quite well,  I left some in fridge for leftovers and froze the rest for another time.

*I broke the side noodles in 1/2 and just angled them a little, keeping the center one intact. Once it’s all cooked it doesn’t matter that they were broken, it really came out perfectly.

Winter Cabbage Soup with Veggies

Image-1

Skiing on Aspen Mountain

IMG_6949

Simmering Soup

Because this has a lot of cabbage I am calling it Cabbage Soup but it’s really a tomato based Vegetable Soup with a lot of cabbage — 1/2 head of cabbage. I love it and it’s very tasty and delicious. Heart warming on these cold winter nights. A perfect lunch meal or dinner alongside a salad with some toasty crunchy bread for dipping. This is what I did.

P.S. Vegan and Gluten Free for those who care

Ingredients:

1 large yellow onion , chopped

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt– you may want to add more it’s up to your taste– I added more

4 medium carrots, cut into small pieces

4 ribs of celery, cut into small pieces

5 cups of Vegetable Stock and if you don’t care about the Vegan thing add Chicken Broth –you can also just use plain old fashioned Water if you don’t have Broth in the house . The broth adds a little more flavor for sure.

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1/2 of a smallish head of cabbage– if it’s a large head use a little less

2 Tsp. of chopped fresh Rosemary

2 15 oz. cans of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Grated Parmesan for Serving

Directions:

Chop the onion. In a very large pot, ( think Le Creuset large Dutch Oven) heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1/2 tsp. of the salt and cook the onions down till they’re translucent ( lower heat if necessary because we don’t want any burning here) Cook until soft and translucent about 5 minutes.

While the onion is cooking down, cut the carrots and celery into small pieces. Add to the pot and cook along with onions till softened about 6- 10 minutes on a low flame.

Add the finely chopped garlic to the pot and cook for a minute or so

Add the tomatoes and 5 cups of broth ( you’ll probably have to add more broth or water as the soup cooks ) Break the tomatoes up with your wooden spoon and let this come to a low boil.

Shred the cabbage and chop the rosemary. Add the cabbage and rosemary, drained beans, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and the remaining 1 tsp. of kosher salt to the pot. Partially cover with a lid allowing some steam to escape, reduce the heat to a simmer until the vegetables are tender. I definitely cooked for an hour or so, I like to cook my soups for a long while. You’ll have to check on it for more salt and more liquid.  I definitely added more salt and more broth as I went along.

Serve topped with grated Parmesan Cheese if you’d like .

Enjoy!

 

 

Aunt Pammy’s Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

 

Fully Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

This recipe belongs to my sister, Pamela. She is a great cook, and this is her signature Thanksgiving Dish. We count on it every year as her contribution.  I highly suggest it if you like spicy because it is! It definitley packs some heat, be careful when you buy the chipotle peppers in adobe sauce , just make sure they don’t say Hot or you might be blowing the roof off of your Thanksgiving Dinner! Be prepared for a lot of flavor !  If your family likes spicy this is an awesome recipe, and you all know how much I like spicy by now.  This is certainly a new take on Sweet Potatoes because they aren’t sweet.  I also make a Sweet Potato dish with Marshmallows (* see recipe) and the two are always on my table, one sweet and one spicy.  Thanks Aunt Pammy.

Ingredients:

5 lbs.Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Kosher Salt ( about 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Heavy Cream ( about 1 1/2 quarts)

Chipotle Peppers in Adobe Sauce (canned) *look in Mexican Food Aisle in most supermarkets

Directions:

Slice Potatoes thinly and add salt. Place in baking dish you are going to use and cover with kosher salt, start with 1/4 cup and go to the 1/2 cup. Use your clean hands and toss together.

Puree Chipotles in small food processor .* you can keep pureed chipotles in fridge for up to 2 months. So you can do this step ahead.

Put approximately 1 – 2 tsp. of chipotle pepper puree in heavy cream and mix together

Pour Cream Mixture over Potatoes in an ovenproof baking dish ( earthenware is nice for this)

Place in 375 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven.

Potatoes should be somewhat set and browned on top when ready.

Enjoy! and Happy Thanksgiving