Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Broccoli & White Beans with Potatoes & Walnuts

"Broccoli & White Beans with Potatoes & Walnuts", (page 323) combines a number of ingredients you might not think to throw together on your own.  The above mixture is tossed with various seasonings - garlic, lemon, salt, pepper - for an unusual yet tasty dish. The recipe does call for three tablespoons of oil, which I left out, but what I ended up with was rather on the dry side.  To compensate for this, I moistened with vegetable broth as needed to keep the mixture moist and flavorful.  If you end up with leftovers, don't be alarmed at the faint purplish hue that shows up the next day - this is from the walnuts.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Berries with Fresh Mint

When all the wonderful fruits of summer start showing up at the grocers and the farmer's markets, nothing could be fresher, easier, or more delicious than "Summer Berries with Fresh Mint" (page 96).  Cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries, are sliced and tossed with a simple dressing of orange and lime juice, agave, and mint. Or leave the dressing off altogether - depending on the ripeness of the fruit, the dressing might be superfluous.  Feel free to substitute whatever berries are available.  The wonderful thing about fruit is any combination works together. Perfect food, and no changes necessary to keep this McDougall friendly.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

The "Mediterranean Vegetable Stew" on page 324 is really somewhere between a thick soup and a juicy stew. Very much like minestrone, and in fact, if you threw some pasta into the mix, that is what you would end up with.  This dish is just bursting with vegetables - onion, carrot, bell pepper, fennel, zucchini, mushrooms, and spinach.  White beans add a nice chewiness, and the Italian seasonings meld well with the tomato and vegetable broth base.  I used a whole bag of spinach, as I like a lot of greens in my soups.  I omitted the oil for sautéing the veggies, using broth instead, and added the minced garlic at the end instead of the beginning to retain that wonderful garlicky flavor. Leftovers were even better the next day!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pasta Arrabbiata

"Pasta Arrabbiata" (page 195) is a great dish to throw together at the last minute, and in fact is in the "f" category of the cookbook:  Quick and Easy Recipes that can be ready in 30 minutes or less.  You might already have all the ingredients you need hanging around in your pantry - garlic, red pepper flakes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, and pasta.  What makes this dish a little different than just plain pasta and tomato sauce is the "arrabbiata" part which means "angry" or "enraged", supplied by the red pepper flakes.  Of course you can adjust the heat to suit your taste, but I found the amount specified in the recipe just right (but then again, I like it hot!).  I used just 8 ounces of pasta instead of a pound, as I like a larger ratio of sauce to pasta, and it helps with leftovers, because the pasta tends to soak up the sauce the longer it sits. I omitted the step that called for sautéing the garlic and red pepper in oil, and just put all the sauce ingredients in the pot at the same time and heated through.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Greek Goddess Salad

"Greek Goddess Salad" (page 54) is something you have to plan for in advance.  It requires both Tofu Feta, and Oh-My-Goddess Dressing, both recipes found elsewhere in this book, and reviewed on this blog.  But if you happen to have everything available, or make it a point to enough ahead of time, you will be glad you made the effort. This salad is chock full of delicious goodies - lettuce, cucumber, tomato, artichoke hearts, red onion, kalamata olives, roasted pine nuts, and the Tofu Feta.  Topped with the Oh-My-Goddess Dressing this salad becomes a meal all by itself! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Potato-Tomato Frittata

"Potato-Tomato Frittata" (page 509) is another recipe found in the breakfast section that can stand in for a dinner entrée just as easily, which is exactly how I served it.  This was an easy recipe to adjust to McDougall standards simply by leaving out the oil when sautéing the onions.  You do need to plan a little in advance as it calls for pre-cooked potatoes, but aside from that, it is an easy dish to put together.  Tofu is blended with nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and a dash of baking powder, then tossed with the potatoes and transferred to a baking dish.  Add sliced tomatoes (and I added paprika for color), and bake.  I had to bake this 15 minutes longer than called for (for a total of 45 minutes) to reach the desired consistency.  Leftovers were delightful the next day, and tasted good cold, and at room temperature, as well as hot.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tofu Feta

One of the hardest things for most folks to give up on a vegan diet is cheese, and usually it takes a while to become accustomed to the vegan alternatives.  Some people never do, and just give cheese up altogether, both the vegan and dairy versions.  Over the years I have found some alternatives I like, and some I would never bother with again.  But I am always interested in trying any recipe for a dairy cheese replacement to see if I can add it to my repertoire.  I really liked the "Tofu Feta" (page 358), but I altered the recipe considerably.  The directions call for marinating cubed tofu in a mixture of 1/3 cup olive oil, lemon juice and salt.  I needed to get creative when figuring out how to omit the oil, and still retain enough flavor to keep things interesting.  I ended up using 1/3 cup water with 2-3 Tablespoons of mild white miso mixed into it as the oil replacement, and this was an excellent alternative.  While no one would ever mistake the final product either way as dairy feta cheese, the tofu version stands on its own merit and adds a delightful tangy topping to salads, pizza, potatoes, or anywhere else you might sprinkle feta.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Fresh Tomato Salad

When tomatoes are at their peak, nothing can compare to "Fresh Tomato Salad" on page 65.  Simplicity of fresh ingredients is the key here, with Boston lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and freshly minced parsley and basil.  The dressing as written calls for minced garlic, olive oil, and vinegar.  I opted to sprinkle the minced garlic right onto each individual salad and top with just a teaspoon of very high quality balsamic vinegar.  What a summer treat, whenever you can manage it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spanish Rice and Beans

"Spanish Rice and Beans" (page 272) is a savory combination of flavors and textures, with ingredients like capers and kalamata olives adding delightful pizzazz.  Other ingredients include onion, garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, kidney beans, and parsley.  A far cry from the vision of white rice and tomato sauce usually conjured up when one thinks of Spanish rice, this dish really is the centerpiece of a meal.  The recipe instructions have you sautéing the veggies in oil (which I omitted, using broth instead), then adding the brown rice, tomatoes and broth, and cooking everything together until the rice is done.   I have never had any luck trying to cook brown rice in a pot with any other ingredients outside of just plain liquid.  It never seems to get done, and the rice ends up crunchy, no matter how long I cook it, or how much liquid I keep adding.  Knowing this ahead of time, I cooked the rice up first, and added it to the sautéed veggies, then added the rest of the ingredients as the recipe instructed, and at this point cooking only long enough to heat things through.  I also only used ½ the amount of rice called for; it appeared that using the full measure (1 ½ cups dry = 4 cups cooked) would have yielded too much cooked grain for the rest of the ingredients.  That was a good call on my part, as two cups of cooked rice seemed to provide the perfect ratio.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cajun Tofu Crunchies

Although the "Cajun Tofu Crunchies" (page 34) are found in the Appetizers and Snacks chapter, I served them as a dinner entrée, accompanied with baked beans and a green salad. These are very easy to prepare.  Moistened tofu is coated with Cajun seasoning, and baked until browned and firm.  Instead of coating the tofu slices in oil, I used soymilk, and instead of oiling the baking sheet, I lined it with parchment paper, thus keeping all added fat out of the recipe.  I found it easier to lay the moistened tofu strips on the baking sheet, sprinkle the seasonings over one side, turn, and repeat, rather than tossing the tofu with the spices in a bowl - I was afraid I would end up with crumbled tofu if I tried to throw everything together in that manner.  These were delicious!  They would also make an awesome sandwich filling, or diced into salad.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Winter Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette

"Winter Pasta Salad with Creamy Mustard Vinaigrette" (page 90) combines elements of a pasta and veggie salad with a creamy style dressing, with the end result reminding me of old-fashioned macaroni salad.  The vegetables include broccoli, carrots, green peas, and red onion. The dressing is tofu-based with a hefty amount of Dijon mustard giving it a pleasant pungency. The dressing also calls for two tablespoons of oil, which I replaced with one tablespoon of tahini and one tablespoon of water.  For the pasta I used quadrefiore (had some hanging around in my pantry that needed to be used up), which worked quite well; the small grooves were perfect for collecting the delicious dressing.  I used just 6 ounces of pasta instead of the 8 ounces called for, which seemed to provide the perfect ratio of pasta and veggies to dressing.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Tomatoes

I guess I just have to admit it.  I'm not a quinoa fan.  I've tried it in pilafs, salads, and as additions to soups and stews.  I've tried white quinoa and red quinoa (which I do prefer a tad over the white).  So, with this latest effort, "Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Tomatoes” (page 88), I am going to accept the fact that I'm never going to appreciate this humble grain.  That being said, this salad wasn't all that bad, and I'm sure fans of quinoa would like it a lot. If I did make it again, I would use only about half the amount of grain called for, as it really overwhelmed the rest of the ingredients - black beans, tomatoes, red onion, and parsley.  The dressing is basically an oil vinegar mix, but I left out the oil and used broth thickened with guar gum instead.