Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Veggie-full Pasta Salad

This pasta salad has been a while in the making. I picked up the really cute tri-color ABC pasta at Trader Joe's last time I was visiting my parents and it's been lying in wait in the pantry for a pasta salad occasion. The occasion came about when we were invited to an omni BBQ and Bonfire! For occasions such as these, I try to make a side that could work as a light meal, but doesn't seem like I'm bringing an entree. This salad has a lot of nice bright veggies in an olive oil and tahini dressing, as I'm not a fan of mayo salads. If you wanted to make it even hardier, you could add in a can of drained and rinsed beans of your choice.

I'm realizing more and more what crappy macro shots my camera takes. My old camera did a much better job. This new one can't deal with light, no matter if it's natural, artificial, or flash and everything just comes out looking not nearly as good as it does in person.

Veggie-Full Pasta Salad
8 oz pasta, cooked and rinsed in cool water
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 ear of fresh corn, kernels cut off the cob (or 1/2 cup canned or frozen/thawed)
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1/2 bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix together the pasta and all the cut up veggies and parsley.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, tahini, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. Depending on the size of your lemon you may want to start with half, taste, and then add more for extra zing.

3. Fold the dressing into the pasta and veggie mixture. Chill until you're ready to serve.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Cold Sesame Noodles

This entry started as a part of the potstickers entry... but that one just went on and on so I thought I'd give it it's own post so one doesn't have to endlessly scroll to get to information on sesame noodles!

I paired the potstickers with cold sesame noodles because have I mentioned the heat thing? Somehow I underestimated the fact that to make cold noodles, you still have to boil water, but now they're in the fridge and I can munch on them chilled as needed. I got the recipe for the noodles off of cooks.com, but then altered it to my liking. I topped it with some julienned cucumber from the garden, and toasted sesame seeds. Scallions also go really well if you've got them around.

For a veggie with this meal (only a veg*n would not consider a meal with cucumbers in noodles and carrots, celery, and mushrooms in potstickers a meal without vegetables!) I made green (and purple and striped) beans sauteed in sesame oil and soy sauce with some toasted sesame seeds. I only sauteed them for a few minutes so they were still crisp and the purple ones held their color a bit. No real recipe there though, just beans sauteed in about 1 tsp each of canola and sesame oil, a clove of minced garlic, a few tbsp of toasted sesame seeds, and a few splashes of soy sauce!

Cold Sesame Noodles
8 oz of Soba or thin whole grain spaghetti noodles
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp brewed black tea
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 tbsp + 2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp sweetener of your choice
1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 small cucumber, julienned (cut into thin strips)
Scallions, sliced

1. Cook the noodles according to the package directions.

2. While the noodles cook, mix together everything but the optional ingredients. I used my immersion blender, but a whisk and a bowl would work just as well.

3. When the noodles are done cooking, rinse them well under cool water, then toss them with the sauce and any optional ingredients you've chosen. Enjoy chilled!


Someone on the Post Punk Kitchen forums recently was talking about making potstickers, and I just couldn't get the idea out of my head. They are a little labor intensive so it's not something I make all that often, but the payoff is definitely there. I didn't make a crazy complicated filling this time around since it's HOT AS ALL GET OUT here on the East Coast (I guess the summer is trying to make up for July's constant rain and cold?) and I didn't want to stand in the kitchen forever either folding them, or frying them, so these are pretty basic. They are also delicious! You could certainly add in any other veggie you like as long as it's finely grated or diced small. I use my microplane when I grate the carrot so that I don't have to cook it ahead of time. It makes nice mounds of fluffy carrot shavings! The celery I just dice up into mini cubes and they stay crunchy after they're cooked, but in a nice and refreshing way. This recipe yields about 30-40 potstickers depending on the size of your dumpling wrapper and how much filling you jammed into them.

I'm going to make cold sesame noodles their own entry, because this bit is rather picture intensive!

Seitan & Veggie Potstickers
4 oz mild flavored seitan
6 shiitake mushroom caps
1 carrot, peeled and grated
1 rib of celery, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, pressed or grated
1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbsp soy sauce
Dumpling wrappers (check your local Asian market for the egg free variety!)
Canola oil

Dipping Sauce
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

1. Sautee the mushrooms briefy in a little oil until just cooked.

2. In a food processor, grind together the seitan (it helps if you dice it small) and the mushrooms.

3. Transfer the mushroom and seitan mixture to a bowl and fold in the rest of the veggies, the garlic, ginger, and soy sauce.

4. Fill your dumpling wrappers! Brush half of the dumpling wrapper lightly with water. Place about 1 heaping tsp of filling in the center of the wrapper

Fold the edges up to meet each other in the middle and press to make them stick (keep in mind you're not making a ravioli here! You want them to stand up in the pan)

You could call it a day there, or crimp the edges by folding them back on each other a few times along the edge.

To Cook -- Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Get the pan nice and hot, then add the potstickers one at a time, bottom down, so they're all standing up around the pan

Let them cook that way for about 2 minutes or until the bottoms are brown and (wait for it) STUCK to the POT! (well pan... why aren't they called pan stickers?) Once they're all browned and adhered, add about 1/4 cup of water and put a lid on the pan and let them steam for about another 3 minutes or until the water is mostly cooked away. You still want the pan on high for this!! When you turn off the heat and open the pan, they should pop right out again, and have a lovely browned bottom and a nicely steamed top!

For the dipping sauce, just stir all the ingredients together. You probably figured that out on your own though didn't you? :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ice Cream Sandwiches!!

Imagine, if you will, sweet-and-spicy brown sugar cinnamon ice cream sandwiched between two molasses cookies, ice cold and fresh from the freezer on a warm summer day. Sound good? Then read on...

Last summer for our first potluck I decided to make ice cream sandwiches, and the brown sugar cinnamon ice cream was easily the crowd favorite! For this year's big giant BBQ, I decided to make them again, only this time with the softer, more easily bit when frozen Molasses Cookie than with the oatmeal cookie I used last year. I'm not sure why people don't make cinnamon ice cream more often. Maybe I'm just a cinnamon freak, but I think it's a fantastic combination! The ice cream recipe is based off of the one in Veganomicon. I choose coconut milk for the recipe by which one has the most fat in it, since you'll need to put the can in the fridge so the fat separates and rises to the top, then just scoop the fat off and use that for the recipe. Mmm.. coconut fat!

I realize now I should have taken a close up, but at the time I just wanted an ice cream sandwich!!

Molasses Cookies
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plain or vanilla soy yogurt
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1. Using an electric mixer, cream the oil and sugar together well. Add the yogurt and molasses and mix until incorporated.

2. Sift together the dry ingredients, and stir them into the wet.

3. Cover the dough and refrigerate it for at least an hour until it firms up a bit.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll dough into balls and place on cookie sheet -- for smaller "snack sized" ice cream sandwiches, about 2 tsp will do, for more "ice cream man" sized sandwiches, go for about 2 tbsp.

5. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes (more or less depending on size) until the tops are cracked and the cookie is just set. Overdone cookies will be harder to bite when frozen!!

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Ice Cream
1/2 cup cream from the top of a can of coconut milk
1 cup soymilk
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
6 oz silken tofu, pureed
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon.

1. Mix all the ingredients together well. Chill in the fridge until very cold. Freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.

(do you really need instructions here?)
Put a scoop of the ice cream on the bottom of one cookie, and top it with another cookie (bottom side down). Allow them to rest in the fridge a while for the ice cream to harden some.