lately

 

RQpseudacris cruciferjust one of many manyquinoa meets mamou

 

a simple summer salad

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My go-to summer salad, always made with quinoa, always dressed with Celine’s vinaigrette. This salad is endlessly adaptable to what’s in season. I prefer my quinoa al dente; if fluffy is more to your liking, increase water to 3 cups.

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2 cups dried quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
1 peach, diced
2 shallots, minced
2 carrots, shredded
4 to 5 handfuls mixed greens
mamou’s magical vinaigrette, full recipe (approximately 1/4 cup)

season to taste with salt, pepper, fresh herbs

Bring 2 1/2 cups of water to boil in a heavy pot. Add quinoa, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover tightly. Cook until the all of the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. While the quinoa cooks, prep the rest of the salad components and the vinaigrette. When the quinoa is finished cooking, turn out into a big bowl. Fold in the rest of the ingredients and vinaigrette, and season to taste.

Cook/prep time: 20 minutes

Grain-based Italian meatballs

I’ve been waiting a long time to share this recipe with you – one month and three days shy of an entire year, to be exact.

grain-based Italian meatballs(1)tossed with a rich marinara and best-quality gluten free spaghetti

I’m a very impatient person – it’s felt like an e-t-e-r-n-i-t-y.

I think it’s worth it, though, and not just because I’m excited about these grain-based meatballs. You see, my dear friend Kathy just also happens to be a fantastic cookbook author – and she lets me test and develop recipes for her – and this particular recipe is on page 17 of her latest book, Vegan Slow Cooking – For Two – or Just For You.

deciphered for the massesAren’t you glad I didn’t just scan my original notes and make you try to decipher them?

Did I mention this is her third book? You should visit her site to see what she’s been up to, and to check out the other recipes being shared on this tour. Psst – I’m also giving away a copy of this book! Details in the recipe notes…

grain-based Italian meatballs(2)meatballs always taste better with a hunk of focaccia bread

Back to these meatballs. They are vegan, gluten free, made out of wholesome pantry staples, and free of any binders. They come together in less than 10 minutes, bake in 20, and work just as well as links. I prefer meatballs, though, so that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

meatballs in the makingmeatballs in-the-making
grain-based Italian meatballs-preready for the oven
grain-based Italian meatballs-postleftovers, for a repeat meal in 24 hours // the only reason I saved any was to show you how well they hold up // we always gobble these up in one night
grain-based Italian meatballs Day 2gently simmered for 5 minutes on day 2 // I think they held their shape nicely

Grain-based Italian meatballs

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These don’t have any binders – no ground flax or chia, no psyllium husk, no xanthan or guar gum. Why? Because when I create something new, I always start as simply as possible, and then go from there. I have no idea how they would do if fried, because I don’t like to fry things. I have no idea how they freeze, because I don’t like to freeze this sort of thing. But they’re damned good straight out of the oven. Want to win a copy of this book? Leave me a comment between now and midnight on Sunday, 29 September 2013, and a winner will be randomly selected. Fair Winds Press is letting me give away a print or digital copy, winner’s choice.

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1/2 cup cooked brown lentils, drained
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup cold, cooked long grain brown rice
1/2 cup cold, cooked quinoa
3/4 cup almond meal (not flour)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C and place a rack in the center position. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or oil lightly.

In a food processor, puree the first nine ingredients (lentils through black pepper) into a paste. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside.

In the same food processor (no need to wash between steps), combine the grains, almond meal and nutritional yeast. Pulse until coarsely ground but not pureed.

Add the rice mixture to the lentil mixture and stir until everything is completely incorporated. It will have the texture of veggie loaf. Wet your hands and shape into links or meatballs. Space evenly on the try at least 1 inch apart.

If making links: Bake for 10 minutes, flip over, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn the oven off, leave the tray inside for 10 more minutes, and then remove the tray and allow to cool at room temperature to firm up.

If making meatballs: Bake for 10 minutes, flip over, bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the tray and allow to cool at room temperature to firm up.

Links are great for slicing into coins and reheat nicely in a dry or lightly oiled skillet. They can be layered in a dish a few minutes before serving, but won’t hold up if baked in something like a lasagne. If I’m making a baked pasta dish, I like to nestle them in the top just before the final broil – drizzled with a bit of additional sauce and sprinkled with gluten free breadcrumbs, they heat through but don’t fall apart.

Meatballs (or whole links) hold their shape well and can be gently simmered in a sauce for up to 5 minutes. They also reheat well, as long as you refrigerate any unused meatballs in a covered dish without sauce; the moisture will make them disintegrate.

Yield: 15 – 30 links or meatballs, depending on size; I usually end up with 20 medium-sized meatballs

Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes

Brown bagging it + the easiest, laziest cookie recipe ever

Nina brings her lunch to school, which probably comes as no surprise. I make it while she eats breakfast and watches a few minutes of her favorite tv show (if she’s ready for school in time – tv is the best motivator ever). Her lunch includes something in her thermos 3-4 days a week, which I prepare on the stove and then transfer immediately to keep it hot.

vegan kid lunch (1)blueberry coconut yogurt, blanched tofu, pecans+dried apricots, Veggie Booty, veggies+pasta tossed w. olive oil+nutch // most of the veggies are on the bottom; she always thinks there’s more pasta overall based on what she sees at the top // I pack it into her thermos when it’s slightly more firm than al dente, since it will soften a little in the thermos

It probably sounds time consuming, but it isn’t! Not as long as we stick to a schedule. Here’s our morning routine:

0545    I get myself up and ready for work (sometimes hitting snooze until 0600 because dudes, short hair! short hair!)
0610    N’s alarm goes off (she hasn’t learned the art of snoozing – yet)
0615    N is at the table, and if she hasn’t told me what she wants for breakfast, I get to choose it for her
0630a  N finishes breakfast, gets dressed, brushes teeth and hair, makes her bed, (cleans the stables and sweeps the chimney, ha ha ha) and with time left over watches the brothers Kratt
0630b  I start her lunch, have my breakfast, finish getting ready for work (eyeliner and picking out shoes – because short hair!)
0700    Feed the (non-human!) animals
0715    In the car to drop her at school on my way to work

This routine was ignored maybe two or three times last year by Nina. The solution? I got in the car and left without her. (Evil laugh.) (Her dad drove her instead.) (Tough love can fun.)

vegan kid lunch (2)veggie chips, spelt sourdough pb+? (j/banana/chocolate hazelnut spread), a sliced peach; not pictured: yogurt + chocolate almond milk

The thing that always, always, always messed up our routine? Preparing my own lunch. I’m not in the pack-it-up-the-night-before camp, because my lunch ends up tasting stale or gross and I just end up buying something else, then feeding my uneaten lunch to my hens when I get home. The solution was ridiculously easy. I stock my work refrigerator with enough greens and various proteins to provide a week’s worth of giant salads, and only bring from home some veggies and a small jar of whatever easily reheatable leftovers I set aside from the previous night’s meal. Sometimes I bring rice and guacamole, sometimes a curried vegetable biryani. Having a couple of different proteins at work gives me an excuse to indulge in something my family doesn’t have that often (smoked tofu) or that I want to try before serving it to them (Beyond Meat). Also, it gives me an excuse to take a mid-week field trip to Whole Foods when I need to get out of my office. Win-win!

2013041814696my lunch = a casserole dish-sized salad topped w. whatever favorite plant protein was on sale at Whole Foods that week
vegan kid lunch (3)prep time for N’s lunch: 5 minutes // pita bread pb+j/etc, carrot sticks, yogurt w. frozen fruit (to keep it cold!), unshelled pistachios hiding in the monkey bag

If I have a little extra time (especially on days Nina takes a sandwich^^), I’ll also whip up these cookies. I make a small batch, so that my husband doesn’t feel bad about eating all of them five minutes after we leave.

lunch-sized cookiesall packed up, room for a cookie

Anything goes chocolate chip cookies

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These come together very quickly – I start preheating my oven before I even get out the mixing bowl. I’ve discovered that they also bake well in a countertop oven. I use whatever flours are on hand: millet, sorghum, brown rice, oat. I don’t bother with starch, since they’re so tiny. For those of you who aren’t gluten free, they also work well with spelt flour.

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Large scoop (2-3 tablespoons) nut or seed butter
2 tablespoons maple syrup
splash (~1 tablespoon) of almond milk
a few drops of vanilla or almond extract
small pinch of baking soda
small pinch of fine grain salt
2 tablespoons quinoa flour
2 tablespoons almond meal
1 palmful of semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, mash the nut/seed butter, maple syrup and milk into a slurry. Add the extract, baking soda and salt and mix thoroughly. Add the flours and chips and mix one more time. You’ll want the dough to be stiff, but not unmanageable. If too stiff, add another splash of milk. If too wet, add a pinch of flour.

Spoon walnut-sized portions onto a parchment-lined baking tray and bake for 12 minutes. No need to space them very far apart, as they will not spread. The cookies will be soft and cakey, firming up as they cool.

Yield: 6 cookies

Prep time: 5 minutes | Bake time: 12 minutes

Cleaning up after Mother

Nature, that is.  She’s been on a bit of a tear and my poor alliums are thoroughly confused by this winter’s pendulous swings in temperature and intermittent heavy rains.  I lost dozens of garlic and onion bulbs to root rot a couple of years ago thanks to similar weather, and I don’t intend to let it happen again.  With bunches of green garlic and onions plucked up from all over the farm, I’m happily eating my way through one of Mother’s mood swings.

Green garlic, kale and pumpkin seed pesto

1 stalk green garlic, roots trimmed off
2-3 kale leaves, center stem removed
1-2 tablespoons raw, hulled pumpkin seeds
splash of olive oil
salt and white pepper to taste

cooked quinoa
spring onion, thinly sliced

Whir the garlic, kale, pumpkin seeds and olive oil together in a food processor – or better yet, pound it out with a mortar and pestle – and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss with steamed quinoa.  Top with sliced spring onions.  Resist the urge to devour immediately, and savor: the hint of grass inherent to quinoa as it pops between your teeth, mingling with the subtle sweetness of the green garlic and the sharpness of the spring onions.