Saturday, July 28, 2018

Creamy Curry Pasta & Vegetable Salad

“Creamy Curry Pasta & Vegetable Salad”, page 93, is a very pleasing combination of pasta, steamed and raw vegetables, and a very flavorful curry dressing. I am very fond of using bow tie pasta for salads, and since I had some on hand, that’s what I ended up using. Many recipes, including this one, give instructions for adding a vegetable to the pasta pot during the last few minutes of cooking, I suppose to combine steps, and eliminate the need to cook both things separately. Problem is, for me at least, I’m not that good at accurately judging when the pasta is going to be done, and I end up adding the vegetables (in this case, cauliflower) either too early, or too late. For that reason, I just take the extra step, and time, to cook the pasta separately, set it aside, and cook the vegetables on their own. The raw veggies in this salad include red bell pepper, red onion, tomatoes, cucumber, and cilantro.

I changed the dressing up quite a bit. As written, it was calling for 1/3 cup of grapeseed oil (along with lemon juice, curry powder, sugar, salt, and cayenne). While I could have substituted an oil free Italian dressing for this, or even just used water and thickened the dressing with guar gum, I opted to take a detour and make a different kind of  creamy dressing. I ended up using 1/3 cup each of plain unflavored yogurt, and homemade oil free mayo (see review here), leaving all the seasonings the same. Finally, the salad is topped with roasted cashews, adding a wonderful texture and flavor-layer. I was more than pleased with the outcome, in fact, I had to stop myself from polishing off the entire salad in one sitting!

This makes a very satisfying main dish salad, or in smaller portions, a tasty side dish. I’m certain it would be very nicely received at a picnic or potluck as well.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
  • Omit the 1/3 cup of oil. Instead, substitute an equal amount of bottled oil free Italian dressing, or 1/3 cup water and thicken with ¼ teaspoon of guar gum.
  • Instead of oil, salad dressing, or water, try the substitution of mayo and yogurt as described above.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Singapore Noodles with Tempeh

According the recipe notes, this recipe, “Singapore Noodles with Tempeh”, (page 241), is a popular Indonesian dish also known as bami goreng or mee goreng. Since tempeh originated in Indonesia, it makes sense there would be many regional dishes showcasing it.

The preparation consists of four parts:

1) preparing the tempeh (dicing, steaming, and sautéing); 

2) preparing the sauce (blending peanut butter, coconut milk, water, lemon juice, sugar, cayenne, and soy sauce); 

3) preparing the noodles; and, 

4) sautéing the vegetables (bell pepper, cabbage, garlic, green onions, and ginger).  

Once the components have been prepared, fresh or frozen peas are added to the sautéed veggies, along with the tempeh and noodles, and finally, the sauce, with everything simmered just long enough to heat through. Top off with chopped peanuts and cilantro, and get ready to enjoy! There are so many complementary tastes and textures in this dish, it’s impossible to attribute the bursts of flavor to any one thing. Each bite unfolds into a delightful, multi-layered, taste experience.

Oil was called for in this recipe for tossing with the cooked noodles, sautéing the tempeh, and sautéing the vegetables. It was easy to leave it out in all instances. Rinsing the noodles thoroughly will prevent them from sticking, but if you wanted to include the sesame oil here for flavor purposes only, used like a condiment, a teaspoon or less would be effective, instead of the tablespoon called for. The tempeh and veggies can be sautéed in water, broth, sherry, or soy sauce.

In lieu of the coconut milk, I used soymilk with a few drops of coconut extract, to avoid the adding this source of highly saturated fat. This is a good way to include the coconut flavor without the fat.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:

  • Instead of using oil for sautéing the tempeh and vegetables, use a non-stick skillet and/or use sherry, broth, water, or soy sauce as a sauté liquid.
  • Instead of coconut milk, use ¼ cup soymilk with ¼ teaspoon of coconut extract.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Pinto Beans & Corn

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Pinto Beans”, page 88, is made for those summer days when hot and heavy food just doesn’t sound appealing. Happily quinoa is a relatively quick cooking grain so stove time is minimal. I’ve been using my Instant Pot to cook whole grains, which puts out very little heat, also a definite advantage on hot days. Once you have cooked quinoa on hand, the salad goes together in a snap. The rest of the ingredients include corn, pinto beans, celery, chile pepper, cilantro, and garlic. The dressing, as written, consists of lemon juice, sugar and olive oil. I replaced all of that with the juice of one lime which provided the right amount of liquid to moisten the salad, and a nice bright flavor that wasn’t too tart. On a whim, I added sliced black olives, providing complimentary flavor and texture.  

Quinoa has become an increasingly popular whole grain recently, and I have to admit, I haven’t been quick to embrace it. But I did discover that it really does improve the flavor if you rinse the grain thoroughly before cooking, and I’ve also started adding a teaspoon of lemon pepper and a pinch of garlic powder to the cooking liquid for additional flavor. Also helpful is cutting back just a tad on the amount of cooking liquid so the grain doesn’t stick together. These three adjustments have made a big difference, and I am actually starting to appreciate it more and more.

Keeping it “McDougall Friendly” check list:
Replace the dressing ingredients with the juice of one lime, or try using a bottled oil free Italian style dressing