Saturday, September 5, 2020

Quick Creamy Pumpkin Soup w/Thyme-scented Pumpkin seed Topping


Creamy Pumpkin Soup
Quick Creamy Pumpkin Soup is ready within 15-20 minutes! This is one of my go to soups anytime I need a quick, easy, homemade soup. A can of pumpkin puree, a little coconut milk, some simple seasonings, and Et Voila! - comforting and flavorful pumpkin soup is ready!

Canned pumpkin makes this soup go fast but needs the help of spices and fresh herbs to breathe freshness. Pumpkin perks right up when smoky cumin, along with warming combination of ginger, red pepper (cayenne), and freshly ground black pepper. Thyme adds that fragrant freshness and a few sprigs can be added without a lot of fuss and the woody stems removed at the end. The dates add delicious caramel flavoer as well as a touch of sweetness. Don't forgo the topping; the delicious spice and crunch of the toasty thyme-scented pumpkin seeds amp up the flavors and adds the crowning touch!

Thyme-scented Pumpkin seeds make a wonderful snack or starter in addition to making a lovely topping for soups or salads. They also make a delicious and different garnish for all types of dishes where you want a lively flavorful crunch.

NOTES:

Freshly cooked or frozen pumpkin, winter squash or sweet potatoes maybe subbed for the pumpkin. Instead of the dates, 1-3 tsp Coconut Sugar/Maple Syrup maybe added.
Thyme-scented Pumpkin seeds are very easy to make and can be made up to one week ahead.

2-3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

SOUP:
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1-2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 (15-16 oz) can Pumpkin Puree
1/2 can Water OR Veggie Broth
1-2 Dates
2 Tbsp fresh Thyme
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
2-3 pinches freshly ground Black Pepper
1 pinch ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
1-2 tsp fresh Ginger OR 1/4 tsp dry
1 pinch Nutmeg
1/4 cup Coconut Milk/Cream

TOPPING:
1/4 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup toasted Pumpkin seeds 
2 or 3 sprigs fresh Thyme 
1 pinch Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pinch Sea Salt 

METHOD: 

Make the topping while the soup is simmering. Heat olive oil in a small wok or skillet. Add the topping ingredients and stir for 2-3 minutes. If using raw pumpkin seeds, toast them until lightly browned and then add the rest of the ingredients. Cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Freeze any extra topping for longer storage.

Make the Soup: 

Cook onions and garlic in a 2-3 quart/litre pan until soft. 

Add the pumpkin, water or broth, dates, and spices, thyme. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 4-5 minutes. 

Remove from heat and stir in the coconut milk/cream.

If you prefer a very smooth and creamy soup, cool slightly and puree the soup using a regular or an immersion blender.

Gently warm the soup again just until hot. Taste for seasonings and add salt/pepper to taste as needed. If you prefer a thinner soup, add a little boiling water.

Serve topped with the thyme-scented pumpkin seeds. 

Enjoy!!

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Monday, August 31, 2020

Masala Kadapa (Dal & Veggie Stew With Coconut & Spices)


A rich and delicious Korma-like stew, Masala Kadapa is a fabulous taste treat served with Idlis and Dosai in Kumbakonam -Thanjavur area, the Eastern part of South India. Masala Kadapa is just like Simple Kadapa but is enriched with the fragrant addition of a few more spices. It is phenomenal as a side served with Pongal, plain rice, etc. also.

Although split and skinless yellow moong/mung dal is the traditional dal used in this stew, I have used others with good results. For example, if I make Sambar or a Red Lentil dish, I usually cook a little extra Toor Dal/red lentils and put aside to use in making Rasam, mulagutal, etc. I also often add cooked whole Peas, Chickpeas, etc in addition to whichever dal I use if they happened to be available. 

The traditional Kadapa uses only potatoes; I love to add lots of vegetables in my recipes as they make them filling and rich in nutrients. I have included carrots, green beans, cauliflower and green peas in addition to the potatoe; choose your own favorite combinations. Most mild and sweet vegetables like sweet potatoes, zucchini, chayote (aka Bangalore Kathirikai), summer and winter squashes, etc may be added according to your preference and availability.

NOTE: 1 cup of coconut milk may be used instead of grinding the fresh/frozen/dry coconut; the rest of the masala ingredients may be finely ground in a spice grinder and added to the Kadapa. Almonds maybe substituted for the cashews. Remove and discard the cores of the chiles for a milder Kadapa; conversely increase the chiles and/or include the cores for a spicier result.

6 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Masala:
1/2 cup fresh/frozen Coconut (1/3 cup dried)
1 tsp Fennel seeds
1 Tbsp White Poppy seeds (Khus Khus) (optional)
1 plump green Cardamom
1/2" piece Cinnamon stick
2 Whole Cloves
1 hot Green Chile, remove seeds if you like
4 - 5 Raw Cashew nuts or a small handful of cashew pieces
1 tsp Uncooked Rice

Stew:
1/4 to 1/3 cup dry yellow Moong Dal
1 cup Cooked dried Whole Peas, Black-eyed Peas, OR Chickpeas (optional)
1-2 Tomatoes, diced
1 small Sweet Potato
1 small regular Potato, diced
1 Carrot, diced
1 large handful Green Beans, thinly sliced
1 cup Cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 cup Peas, Fresh/Frozen
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1-2 tsp Salt

Thalippu/Tadka:
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard seeds
1 piece 1/2" Cinnamon stick
3-5 whole Cloves
1 Big brown Cardamom (aka Badi Ilaichi)
1 pinch Asafetida
4 small Shallots OR 1 small Onion, finely chopped
1-2 Green Chiles, minced 
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, minced
1-2 cloves, Garlic, peeled and minced (optional)
1-2 stems Fresh Curry leaves, sliced fine

Finishing:
1 Stem fresh Curry Leaves, thinly sliced
1 Lime/Lemon, juiced

METHOD:

Prepare Masala: Grind together the coconut and rest of the masala ingredients into a smooth paste using a small amount of water. Set aside until needed.

Kadapa:
Rinse and cook the dal in enough water to cover until soft; pressure cooking speeds this process.

Add the prepared potatoes and carrots along with turmeric and salt to the dal and cook over low to medium heat until just tender, about 7-8 minutes.

While the dal is cooking, heat a small pan. Stir in mustard seeds and cover until they finish popping.

Stir in asafetida, curry leaves, ginger, garlic, and onion; stir and cook until shallots/onions soften and turn slightly golden. Sprinkle a little water as necessary to keep the veggies from sticking or burning.

Tip the tomatoes into the shallot/onion mixture and cook until soft.

Pour the ground coconut mixture into the dal and veggies; use a small amount of water - a few tablespoons - to collect all of the ground spices clinging to the blender carafe and add to the pot. Or if you are using coconut milk, add it here.

Add the cooked whole beans/peas if using, the cauliflower and green beans, and the tomato mixture to the dal and veggies. Bring to a boil and cook until green beans are bright green and just tender - about 4-5 minutes or so.

Stir in the peas, remove from heat, stir in the curry leaves, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes.

Finishing: When ready to serve, stir in lime/lemon juice to taste. Correct for salt as needed.

Serve hot. Enjoy!!
Masala Kadapa with Ragi Dosai

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Apple & Zucchini Raita (Apple & Zucchini Salad/Dip With Non-Dairy Dressing)

Apple & Zucchini Raita
 Apple & Zucchini Raita is a delicious new variation of the classic Non-dairy Zucchini Raita and  the original Pachadi/Raita. In Apple & Zucchini Raita, the mild, tender zucchinis shine and the apple adds sweet crunch - a fabulous combination, a match made in foodie heaven!

Apple & Zucchini Raita is a wonderful starter/appetizer by itself or paired with warm Roti, naan, parathas, etc (Indian flat breads), fried or roasted papadams, and/or your favorite crackers/chips. The raita makes a nice side for UpmaCheela, Uthappam, Dosa, Adai, Idlis - both the traditional and the quick types. The raita is fabulous with any meal anytime!

NOTE:

Any non-dairy yogurt will work; use a plain unsweetened and unflavored non-dairy yogurt such as cashew, almond, soy, or coconut milk yogurt. We love the homemade cashew/tofu/soy yogurt too; the recipe is given below.

The tadka/thalippu is optional; while it adds a nutty and mild spicy touch, it is not absolutely necessary. Instead, a little minced ginger and chile maybe stirred into the raita along with the veggies.

4-6 Servings

Ingredients:

2 medium tender Zucchini
1 large crisp Apple, any color
1/2 small bunch Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
1.5 cups Plain Unsweetened Non-Dairy Yogurt 
Salt to taste

Tadka/Thalippu:(optional)

1/4 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 sprig Fresh Curry Leaves, minced
1 Tsp Fresh Ginger, finely grated (optional)
1 Serrano/Jalapeno or other green Chile, cored and minced

Apple & Zucchini Raita
Method:

Wash and grate the zucchinis; squeeze them and discard the juices or save it for additing to another dish or broth. The zucchinis need not be squeezed dry; just remove some of the excess moisture. Add zucchini to the bowl with the yogurt.

Wash, core, and grate/chop the apple. Add to the bowl along with the cilantro. Add a little salt to taste but not too much; raita should be sweet and not too salty.

Make the tadka/thalippu: heat a small pan and add the mustard and dal. When mustard seeds subside popping and dancing, add curry leaves, ginger and green chile with a spoonful of water; cover and cook for a minute to soften the ginger and chile, let cool a little and pour over the raita and mix well. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve as a salad, starter, or with any rice dish, Roti or Naan, curries/dal, Dosa, Adai and/or Upma, etc.

Enjoy!!

Non-Dairy Cashew/Tofu Yogurt:

1 cup raw Cashews soaked OR 1 block of soft/firm Tofu (14 oz)
Juice of 1/2 to 1 lime/lemon, or to taste
1 pinch Salt
1/4 - 1/2 cup Unflavored Almond/Soy/Coconut Milk/Water

Place the drained cashews/tofu in a blender along with as much of the milk/water as needed to blend easily(use a little at a time), lime/lemon juice, and salt to taste. Blend until smooth like yogurt. Remove the cashew/tofu yogurt to a clean container and reserve in the fridge until ready to use. Non-Dairy Cashew/Tofu Yogurt will stay fresh for about a week. Happy cooking!



Saturday, July 18, 2020

Mushroom Larb In Cabbage/Lettuce Cups (Vegan Minced Mushrooms With Ginger & Mint)

Shiitake & Cremini Mushroom Larb
Flavorful Mushroom Larb In Cabbage/Lettuce Cups is a fabulous treat composed of tasty, toasty mushrooms flavored with scallions, garlic, ginger, and mint. The brilliant mix of fragrant fresh herbs, crunchy toasted peanuts, the umami of the browned caramelized mushrooms, and the pungent, salt, sweet, and hot flavors make every bite of larb very interesting and extremely satisfying. This is one of my favorite way to enjoy mushrooms. Mushroom Larb makes a protein-rich, easy, and sumptuous lunch, light dinner or an appetizing and refreshingly pleasing starter.

Mushroom Larb is gluten and dairy free. 

Delicious Mushroom Larb is a one-pot dish as all cooking is done in one pan; after the mushrooms are done, all the other ingredients are added right into the same pan. I like to call them Laos/Thai tacos; the larb is served in lettuce/cabbage cups/boats and picked up with hands to enjoy without any need for utensils. Although one can serve them on fancy plates with knife and fork, it works great to pick up and eat - the bonus is less dishes to wash.

I love using assorted mushrooms for the larb as they all contribute their special flavors to the dish. Shiitake or other mushrooms like cremini are great by themselves or combined with other mushrooms. Although only shiitake and cremini mushrooms are given in the recipe, feel free to change up and add your favorite fresh mushrooms.

We enjoy serving and eating the warm larb in small assorted lettuce leaves (Romaine, Butter, Red or Green leaf, Belgian Endive, etc) and red or green cabbage cups. Besides making the dish gorgeous, the lettuce and cabbage provide a fresh sweet crunch and added nutrition.

When serving as a main meal, you may like to accompany larb with some hot cooked rice, tofu, and or other accompaniments.

Mushroom Larb
NOTES:

Instead of coconut aminos, soy sauce maybe used - be sure to check for gluten ingredients. If using soy sauce, you might like to add a couple of pinches of brown sugar.

I used a fresh red jalapeño this time and used only a little more than half. Chiles vary in heat so be careful to add less at first. You can add more chile after the taste test. If fresh red chiles are not handy, use 1-2 tsp Red chile flakes or to taste.

Larb is delicious with plain rice. Larb enclosed in a rice ball makes a lovely sushi-like snack.

Makes about 12 appetizer OR 4 Meal size Servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tbsp Uncooked Rice, toasted and ground (optional)
1/2 cup Roasted Peanuts, coarsely chopped
12 oz Shiitake Mushrooms
12 oz Cremini Mushrooms
1-2 tsp Oil
Salt 
1-3 fresh Red Thai or other chiles, thinly sliced or minced 
4-5 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 Tbsp Freshly grated Ginger
6-7 Green Onions, thinly sliced
2-3 Shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 Tbsp Coconut Aminos 
1 large handful Coriander/Cilantro, roughly chopped
1 large handful Fresh Mint, large leaves torn

Lettuce/Cabbage leaf cups for serving
1 head Red/Green Cabbage
1-2 heads small Lettuce
Lime Wedges


METHOD:

Prepare Toasted Rice: Toast the dry rice in a small pan stirring constantly until golden and puffed. Cool completely and grind coarsely using a spice grinder or mortar and peste. Toasted rice maybe prepared a few days ahead and reserved in an airtight container. If you have leftover toasted rice, it maybe added to any dish to thicken or add texture and nutty taste.

Roasted Peanuts: Toast the peanuts if raw and cool. If using roasted peanuts, crush or chop coarsely. Peanuts maybe prepared a few days ahead and reserved in an airtight container.

Lettuce/Cabbage leaf cups: Wash and drain the greens thoroughly. Separate the leaves of lettuce and use the smaller inner leaves. Cut them to desired size. Cut the cabbage into quarters if large and gently separate the desired number of leaves without tearing. Save the rest of the lettuce and cabbage for other recipes. The leaf cups maybe prepared one or two days ahead and reserved in a resealable bag in the fridge.

Prepare Larb:
Wash briefly/clean and wipe the mushrooms dry. Remove stems from the Shiitake mushrooms. Cut  both type of the mushrooms into small pieces (no need to mince); fine to leave them a bit chunky.

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat and add oil, mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Let the mushrooms cook undisturbed until the bottoms turn golden. Stir and continue cooking until all the pieces are browned.

Sprinkle the ground roasted rice over the mushrooms and mix well.

Stir in the chile, garlic, ginger and shallots; cook for about a minute. Turn off heat.

Stir in the green onions and the coconut aminos.

Fold in the cilantro and mint; mix well.

Reserve 2 tablespoons of the peanuts for garnishing and mix in the rest into the larb.

Taste the larb and adjust seasonings - more chile, coconut aminos, a pinch of salt, etc.

Serve warm in the cabbage or lettuce leaf cups garnished with the reserved peanuts. Pass the lime wedges. Fill only the a few leaves at a time and eat right away before the the larb wilts the cabbage/lettuce.

Promptly refrigerate any leftovers; gently reheat and serve.

Enjoy!!


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Mexican Style Street Corn Salad

Mexican Style Street Corn Salad, vibrant with the flavors of the roasted corn, lime juice, fresh and crisp greens, and zippy south of the border seasonings, is a truly delicious salad.This is a naturally gluten, dairy and oil free recipe.

Mexican Style Street Corn Salad is filled with tasty morsels of corn, peppers, assorted greens and nutty seeds. The mango is the perfect cool sweet touch to the refreshing and spicy fresh flavors of the other ingredients.
Mexican Style Street Corn Salad with Mangoes
Notes:

Canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce is available in most markets; puree the contents of the can and store in jars in the fridge.

Frozen corn maybe used instead of fresh; pan toast in a skillet until slightly browned. Some markets sell frozen roasted corn which just needs thawing out.

Chipotle Crema Dressing dressing is lovely slathered on barbecued corn on the cobs or toasted frozen corn kernels; so save any extra in a covered container.

Instead of vegan mayo, vegan sour cream or cashew cream maybe used.

Instead of the mango, watermelon or other fruit maybe used.

4 servings

Ingredients:

Chipotle Crema Dressing
2-3 Tbsp Vegan Mayo
1-2 tsp Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1-3 tsp Mexican Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp ground Cumin
1 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Fresh Lime juice to taste (1-2 limes)

Salad
4-6 handfuls fresh baby arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
4-6 Leaves Romaine Lettuce, thinly sliced
4 ears Corn on the cob (see Notes)
1 sweet Red Pepper, chopped
1 handful of fresh Cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup Vegan Jack type Cheese, crumbled (optional)
1/4 cup roasted Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
6-8 Red Radishes, thinly sliced
Chile powder or Smoked Paprika for sprinkling (optional)
Lime wedges to serve
Nutritional Yeast for sprinkling
1 large ripe Mango, cut into bite-sized pieces

Method:

Prepare the dressing: Mix the mayo with the spices and juice from 1 lime. Stir well and taste. Add more lime juice and seasonings until just right. If the dressing is too thick to drizzle, add a little water a teaspoon at a time. Reserve in the fridge until needed.

Roast the ears of corn over a hot grill, or on the stove top. You can remove the husks, or keep them on. Roast them over high heat turning every couple of minutes, until they start to steam and get dark spots. Put them aside to cool.

When the corn is cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off with a sharp knife. If made ahead, reserve in the fridge and warm the corn before adding it to the salad. Add a spoonful of  the dressing and mix well.

Assemble the salad: Arrange the arugula, romaine, and radish slices in a large shallow salad bowl or individual bowls. Scatter the warm corn over the greens. Sprinkle the cilantro top, and drizzle with the dressing. Distribute the cheese crumbles (if using) and red pepper on top. Garnish with the pepitas and a sprinkle of chile powder and nutritional yeast. Pass the lime wedges.

Serve and eat immediately while the corn is still warm.

Enjoy!!


Thursday, June 25, 2020

Peach Salad w/Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette

Peach Salad w/Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette is a refreshing and luscious salad when the fragrant and juicy peaches ripen in the summer. The creamy vinaigrette pairs perfectly with the sweet peaches, buttery avocados and the fresh greens. 

Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette is a snap to prepare and is delicious on any salad. The wholesome and mild tasting oatmeal and hemp hearts help make it creamy. This dressing is so good that we love to make daily salads just to enjoy it! The vianigrette is oil, gluten, and dairy free.

Oil-free Creamy Vinaigrette maybe prepared ahead and will stay fresh for 1 week. Use this dressing to season your favorite salads.

Spinach, Arugula, Butter/Green/Red Leaf Lettuces, Curly or Belgian Endive, etc all work well as salad greens. Readily available Spring mix consisting of baby greens is another easy option.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Vinaigrette
1/4 cup Oatmeal
1/4 cup Hemp Hearts
1 medium Shallot
2 cloves Garlic
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 Date OR 1 tsp Maple Syrup
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Water
1-2 pinches Dried Italian herbs

Salad
4 large handfuls of Salad greens
1 Carrot, shredded
1-2 large ripe Peaches, sliced
1 ripe Avocado, sliced
1 small handful fresh Basil/Mint leaves, cut into chiffonade

METHOD:

Combine all the ingredients (except the dried herbs) for the vinaigrette in the blender jar and blitz until creamy and smooth. Pour into a clean jar. Add a tablespoon or two of  water to the blender jar to gather up all the dressing clinging to it. Add to the jar along with the dried herbs. Taste the dressing and adjust the seasonings. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.

Combine salad greens and carrots in a bowl when ready to eat. Divide among 4 bowls.

Arrange the peach and avocado slices on top. Drizzle the dressing over the salad.Sprinkethe basil/mint on top and serve immediately.

Enjoy!!



Monday, June 22, 2020

Easy & Tasty Zucchini Kimchi


Zucchini Kimchi
Easy Zucchini Kimchi is exactly that and tasty as can be. This is a fantastic recipe for a beginner's first foray into kimchi making; it goes together in minutes and the results are very impressive. Another great way to enjoy the abundant harvest especially if you grow these generous veggies or know someone who does! The tasty kimchi maybe served with any meal that needs a flavorful side.

We love fresh small batches of kimchi. I slice and salt the zucchini while preparing a meal or cooking. When the rest of the work is done, it takes a couple of minutes to finish the kimchi.

This recipe is gluten and dairy free; and oil free too if the sesame oil is not used.

Once you start making and enjoying this kimchi, you will find many ways to enjoy every morsel. I love to pile them on my avocado or peanut butter toast for a lovely savory breakfast, brunch or snack! You may like to double the recipe because it disappears very fast!

NOTES:

If Korean red pepper is not available, use about 1/4 tsp Cayenne or more to taste.

If you don't like ginger or green onions, they maybe left out. 

2-3 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 large Zucchini
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 small Onion, thinly sliced 
1 clove garlic, minced
2-3 thin slices fresh Ginger, minced (optional)
1-2 Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp - 1 Tbsp ground Korean Red Pepper
2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
1/2 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil (optional)
1 tsp toasted Sesame Seeds

METHOD:

Cut each zucchini lengthwise and then slice crosswise into half moons. Place zucchini in a large bowl and add in salt. Shake and stir until all zucchini pieces are  coated with salt. Let sit for approximately 25 - 30 minutes until zucchini gets wilted slightly. 

Press the zucchini firmly but gently without squeezing or breaking them to remove all the moisture; but doesn't have to be completely dry. Taste one piece to check for saltiness; if it is too salty, swirl with a little fresh water and drain thoroughly again. Blot dry with paper towels and place into large clean and dry bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients except the oil if using and the sesame seeds and stir until well to coat thoroughly.

Yay! You just made KIMCHI!

Place the kimchi in a clean, dry, sterile jar and cover with an airtight lid.

Although the kimchi is delicious to enjoy immediately, it is even better if it is allowed to ferment one or two days. To ferment, leave the jar on the counter. Shake or stir daily with a clean spoon to mix well and push all the veggies down so the liquid coats everything.  After one or two days, put kimchi in the fridge. 

Serve the fresh kimchi right away or wait one or two days. Drizzle with the sesame oil if using and sprinkle the sesame seeds just before serving. Delicious served with rice, other grains, or any way you like.

Enjoy!!
Zucchini Kimchi

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Chopped Salad With Non-Dairy Raita Dressing

Simple yet luscious Chopped Salad With Non-Dairy Raita Dressing came into being when I wanted a salad to coordinate with an Indian themed meal. The salad turned out fabulous with requests for more!
Chopped Salad With Raita Dressing
Chopped Salad With Non-Dairy Raita Dressing is a wonderful recipe good and good for you with all the pro- and pre- biotic components. The radishes and grapes add spicy crunch and cool sweetness to this wonderful and satisfying salad.

The dressing and salad (without the tomatoes) maybe prepared a day ahead and reserved in the fridge separately. Add the tomatoes and the dressing to the salad just before serving.

NOTES:

Watermelon instead of or in addition to the grapes is wonderful in this salad especially on a warm day or evening.

Spinach or other greens maybe used instead of the romaine lettuce.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Raita Dressing
1/4 cup Raw Cashews, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes
1/2 cup thick non-dairy Plain Yogurt
1-2 pinches Salt
1 juicy Lime, juiced
1/2 small Red Onion, finely chopped
1 small Zucchini, shredded
2 Tbsp Fresh Coriander/Cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Oil
1/2 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
1 tiny pinch Asafetida
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely grated
1/2 - 1 Jalapeño/Serrano Chile, cored and finely minced
2 stem fresh Curry Leaves, minced

Salad
1 Romaine heart, finely sliced
1-2 Persian type Cucumbers or 1/2 Hothouse cuke, diced
1 large Carrot, shredded
1-2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
6-8 sprigs fresh Mint
6-8 Sprigs fresh Coriander/Cilantro
1 generous Handful Roasted Cashews, coarsely chopped
1 large handful Seedless Red or Black Grapes, halved
Fresh Radish Slices (optional)

METHOD:

Raita Dressing:

Blend together the cashews, yogurt and lime juice until smooth. Spoon out the yogurt mixture into a bowl; sluice the blender with a couple of tablespoons of water to gather all of the yogurt mixture and add to the bowl.

Heat a small pan and add oil. Add the mustard seeds and cook on low heat until the seeds begin to pop. Stir in the asafetida, ginger, chile, and curry leaves and cook for a few seconds until the chiles trun bright green and soften. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or two. Add the spiced chile mixture to the cashew-yogurt mixture in the bowl along with the onions, zucchini, coriander/cilantro, and a pinch or two of salt. Stir well, taste, and adjust seasonings.

Store the Raita Dressing in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve.

Salad:

Combine the lettuce, cucumber, carrots, tomatoes, and herbs in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Assembly:

Check the dressing; if it is too thick, add a little non-dairy milk or water a teaspoon at a time to get the right consistency. Adjust the seasonings if necessary with salt and lime juice.

Divide the salad among 4 bowls/plates, drizzle with dressing, sprinkle the cashews, a few grapes and slices of radish on top.

Serve immediately.

Enjoy!!


Thursday, June 18, 2020

Simple and Delicious Quick Zucchini/Yellow Squash Sauté

Simple and Delicious Zucchini/Yellow Squash is a quick side dish to accompany any meal. Although fine with any meal, it is particularly wonderful served as part of Indian, Chinese, Korean type meals with warm rice, quinoa, or other grains. The sesame adds a lovely nutty crunch. Since this is a veggie dish, it is naturally gluten/dairy free and oil-free as well.

Enjoy with warm cooked rice/grains, roti or other flatbreads and dal/bean dishes such as Simple Dal, Lemony Dal, Sambar, Chole, one of the fresh veggie dishes like Raita, Salad, etc.

Delicious with warm cooked rice or other grains and with other side dishes or simply put the zucchini on top of the rice along with some sautéed tofu. 

NOTES: 

A combination of zucchini and yellow squash maybe used or only one type of veggie. 

If you like the Zucchini/Yellow Squash on the dry side without a lot of liquid, sprinkle the cut veggies with a pinch of salt and set aside until the rest of the veggies are prepared. Just before cooking, press and drain any accumulated liquid and proceed with the recipe.

Other sweet veggies like Summer or Chayote Squash also maybe prepared this way.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 cloves Garlic, chopped (optional)
1/2 small Onion, thinly sliced
4-5 medium Zucchini/Yellow Squash
1 generous pinch Turmeric
Salt/Tamari, to taste
1/8 -1 tsp Ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
2-3 Green Onions, sliced
A small handful fresh Coriander/Cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp Roasted Sesame Seeds for garnish

METHOD:

Cut zucchinis/yellow squash in half or quarters lengthwise and cut into coin thick slices crosswise. If using other squashes, cut them into bite sized pieces. See note for salting the veggies for a drier result.

Place all ingredients in a wok or large skillet except sesame seeds, green onions and Cilantro.

Turn the heat up to medium high heat and stir fry for about 4-5 minutes, or until veggies are hot and done to your liking. They taste best if they still retain a bit of firmness and a little crunch. 

If the veggies were not salted and drained, there maybe some juices collected in the bottom of the wok/skillet and that is perfectly fine. If you try to evaporate the liquid, the veggies will get overcooked and turn mushy. Mushy = Not Tasty!

Turn out onto a serving plate, garnish with green onions, sesame seeds and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Palak Kadhi (Spinach & Besan (Chickpea flour) Non-dairy Curry)

Palak Kadhi, Spinach & Besan (Chickpea flour) Non-dairy Curry, is an easy and delicious recipe that is also naturally gluten free. I have veganized it by fermenting the besan mixture overnight thus eliminating the necessity for yogurt. But if you have old plain, unsweetened, non-dairy yogurt you want to use up on hand, about 1 cup of the yogurt maybe stirred in at the end. The final seasoned oil based on Hema's suggestions is what makes this kadhi so exceptionally tasty! I added the smoked paprika to the seasoned oil to take the flavor to another level.

Frozen spinach makes it very quick and easy to prepare this Palak Kadhi (Spinach Curry); one large bunch of fresh spinach maybe used instead of the frozen spinach if you prefer. This kadhi is similar to Non-Dairy Kadhi which has a different flavor profile and no spinach.

NOTES:

Use the larger amount of the besan (chickpea flour) for thicker curry.

Use higher amounts of the spices for the seasoned oil if you like the kadhi spicy; the lower amounts result in a mild kadhi. Increase the spices for spicier kadhi.

For extra tanginess, a little lime or lemon juice maybe added before serving.

Traditionally the kadhi is served with cooked rice (the classic combination is known as "kadhi-chawal") but kadhi maybe served with other grains or roti if desired.

4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2-4 Tbsp Besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1-2 dried Red Chiles
8 oz frozen Spinach

Seasoned Chile Oil
1 tsp oil
1/4 - 1/2 tsp ground Red Pepper (cayenne)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/8 - 1/4 tsp Asafetida

METHOD:

Combine besan, turmeric, 1 tsp salt and 1 cup of water in a clean jar. No worries if there are some lumps; they dissolve after soaking. Keep the besan mixture at room temperature preferrably overnight or at least 8 hours.

Cook the spinach and if it is coarsely chopped, use a food processor, blender, or a sharp knife to finely chop it.

Heat a 2-3 quart (liter) pan and add the cumin, mustard, and fenugreek seeds along with the chiles. Shake and swirl the spices for about a minute or so until the spices darken and mustard pops.

Whisk the besan slurry thoroughly and stir it into the pot; add another cup of water to the jar, stir to gather any besan left in and pour into the pot.

Bring to a boil while stirring/whisking often, reduce heat and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the spinach and mix well. Add a little boiling water if you like to thin the kadhi. Remove the kadhi from heat.

Heat the oil in a small pan and add the spices; swirl or stir until spices are toasty and deepen in color slightly but do not burn.

Pour the seasoned oil over the top of the curry and immediately cover. Allow the kadhi to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Taste the kadhi and adjust the seasonings. Remove and discard the whole red chiles so no one chews on them inadvertently.

Serve the Palak Kadhi (Spinach & Non-dairy Curry) hot over warm rice or other grains.

Enjoy!!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Frijoles Negros (The Best Ever Seasoned Black Beans)

Frijoles Negros or Seasoned Black Beans are amazingly delicious; just a handful of ingredients produce lip smackingly yummy beans! With a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot, cooking beans becomes so easy and quick. Do try to cook the beans if possible rather than using canned for the wonderful and rich taste. See Ode to Beans or Basic Black Beans for more ideas on cooking beans. Any leftovers maybe used as filling for tacos/burritos/tostadas etc. or in the delicious Black Bean and Corn Casserole, BurgersCuban Black Bean Soup, or Casamiento

Black Beans belong to the superfood family of legumes; they are typically served as part of meals in Mexican, Central & South American, and other cuisines. Cooking beans is quite simple and very cost effective. Similar to most beans, black beans have negligible amounts of fat. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and thiamin. Black beans are loaded with anthocyanins and also contain good amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, manganese and folate.

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect food than beans. One cooked cupful can provide as much as 17 g fiber, which is something most people do not get very much in a typical diet in most developed countries. Beans are packed with protein and dozens of key nutrients, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Studies tie beans to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many cancers. The latest dietary guidelines from World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research recommend that we make whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans the major part of the diet to prevent many types of cancer as well as other diseases. So do enjoy delicious and diverse vareities of beans: pintos, mung, black, white, kidney, lentils, and numerous other ones. Use them in snacks, starters, soups/stews, casseroles, salads, as topings for baked potatoes, and for sandwich spreads.

Served with rice and/or warm corn tortillas, a bit of salsa and one's favorite hot sauce, Frijoles Negros makes a comforting and hearty meal. Besides being wonderful served simply, black beans are delicious in may recipes. The beauty of beans is that they freeze well also. Freeze the cooled beans in freezer containers for up to 3 months.

NOTES:

Chile Morita (smoked dried jalapeño chile) adds a lovely deep and smoky flavor to the beans.

Soaking is not a prerequisite; but soaked beans do cook faster and I find them tastier.

If you don't have the Mexican Seasoning Mix, a chili spice mix maybe used instead. If using a purchased spice mix, you may need to add more cumin and oregano to taste.

12 servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 lb Black Beans
Salt for soaking
1 Chile Morita (optional)
1 Bay Leaf
1 small Onion, finely diced
1-2 Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
3-4 cloves Garlic, finely minced
1/2 tsp EACH, dried Oregano and ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 small bunch Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
3-4 Green Onions, finely sliced
Lime Cilantro Rice or Plain rice to serve

METHOD:

Sort the beans for debris; rinse well, add 2 tsp of salt, and soak in plenty of water to cover for a few hours. 

Drain the soaked beans and place in a large pot with the bay leaf and morita chile if using. Add water to cover them; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer covered until very soft. Remove and discard the chile if you wish; I mash it into the beans.

Alternately, pressure cook the beans, usually they are done in less than 20 minutes using a pressure cooker or the Instant Pot!

Cook the onion, bell pepper, garlic with a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of water until the vegetables are softened.

Stir in the spices and herbs along with the beans and cooking liquid.

Mash the beans slightly with the back of the spoon and cook for a few minutes stirring often until slightly thickened.

Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro and green onions.

Serve hot with the Lime Cilantro, plain rice, or warm tortillas.

Buen Provecho!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Hidden Gems Buckwheat Pancakes Kerala Style with Blueberry Coulis (Geetha's Pazham Pori)

Buckwheat Pancakes
Hidden Gem Buckwheat Pancakes With Blueberry Coulis are delightfully tasty and fun with the hidden slices of fruit! They are the easy and healthy version of the fritters known as Pazham Pori, immensely popular in Kerala. Pazham Pori, typically enjoyed as tea time snacks, are made with ripe plantains dipped in batter and deep fried. I have made them as pancakes for a healthier option. These special pancakes are not only oil free, they are also naturally dairy and gluten free!

Hidden Gems Buckwheat Pancakes maybe prepared with either the plantains or regular bananas. I like adding round slices of the plantain/banana in the pancackes instead of the traditional longitudinal slices; pancakes maybe prepared with long slices if preferred. The ripe fruit adds to the sweetness and along with the coulis and the whipped topping, could very well be a dessert! This fun and great tasting recipe is perfect for a special occasion breakfast, brunch, or snack.

NOTES:

Do keep the batter slightly on the thick side to coat the fruit well. But, if unavoidably made thin, pancakes maybe folded or rolled up with the fruit inside. These pancakes taste absolutely fabulous either way.

Apples, pears, or another fruit maybe substituted for the bananas in the pancakes. Instead of the blueberries, another fruit maybe used to prepare a coulis.

Leftover pancakes maybe stored in the fridge or frozen for longer storage. Pancakes maybe reheated in the skillet or oven.

About 6 pancakes
2 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Coulis:
1 Cup Blueberries
1 Tbsp Lime/Lemon Juice
1 pinch Salt
2-3 Tbsp Maple Syrup/Coconut Sugar

Pancakes:

1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 cup Non-dairy Milk
1 Tbsp Cconut Sugar or other sweetener
3/4 cup Buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp Flaxseed meal
1 pinch Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1 ripe Plantain OR Banana, sliced

Powdered sugar for serving
Maple Syrup for serving
Non-dairy Whipped Topping

DIRECTIONS:

Coulis:

Wash and drain the berries. Reserve a few for garnishing. Dice the rest of the berries and place them in a bowl. Mash slightly with a fork and stir in the salt, maple syrup/sugar and lemon. Mix well and if made ahead, reserve in the fridge.

Pancakes:

Whisk together the vinegar, milk and coconut sugar in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt together in a mixing bowl.

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir together just until combined to get a thick but pourable batter. Let the batter rest for about 10-15 minutes. If batter is very thick, a little more milk or water maybe added.

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with a little oil using a paper towel. Heat the skillet over low-medium heat.

Prepare pancakes by pouring a little less than 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet; you can quickly spread the batter gently in a swirling motion with the back of  a spoon to desired thickness.

Place 4-5 slices of the plantain/banana quickly on top of the pancake and add a little batter to cover the fruit. It is fine if the fruit is not completely covered since this side is usually not seen when served.

Cook until bubbles appear and edges of the pancake are a little dry. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or so. Remove the pancake from skillet and place on platter.

Continue cooking the pancakes until all the batter is used up stacking the pancakes as they are cooked.

Plate the pancakes while still hot with some of the coulis on top. Dust the pancakes with powdered sugar and a little drizzle of maple syrup if desired. Add a dollop of whipped topping.

Serve immediately and eat.

Enjoy!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lettuce Wraps W/Spiced Tofu

Lettuce Wraps W/Spiced Tofu are irresistible and make a lovely light meal or starter. The fresh crisp lettuce and pickled vegetable topping add freshness to the slightly sweet but savory filling. Be warned - one taste and you'd want to make a meal of the wraps!

Lettuce Wraps with Spiced Tofu
Notes:
The tofu filling, pickled carrots and daikon, and the lettuce wraps maybe prepared a day ahead and the filling reheated before serving.
While any regular mushrooms maybe used, fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms are lovely. If using dried shiitake, soak in a little water for about 20 minutes to soften.
I use cauliflower rice (chopped cauliflower) as I don't always have access to water chestnuts.
1/3 cup Hoisin Sauce maybe used instead of the cooking sauce; please be sure to check the ingredients in the sauce as not all hoisin sauces are gluten free. 

Picked Carrots & Daikon Radish
1 large Carrot, cut in fine match sticks
1 medium Daikon Radish, cut in fine match sticks
1 pinch Salt
2 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Vinegar


Filling:

Cooking sauce
1 Tbsp Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Tamari/Coconut Aminos/Soy Sauce (gf)
1-3 Tbsp Coconut Or Brown Sugar

Tofu
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 block Firn or extra-firm Tofu, finely diced/shredded
1/2 cup Mushrooms, minced
1-2 Tbsp Ginger, grated
1 Serrano or Thai Chile, cored and minced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 small Carrot, shredded
1/2 cup Water Chestnuts, chopped OR Cauliflower rice
2 Tbsp toasted Sesame seeds
1/2 cup Green Onions, thinly sliced

For Serving:
1-2 Heads Butter/Romaine lettuce
Cilantro sprigs
Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally

METHOD:

Pickled Carrots & Daikon
Prepare the pickled carrots and daikon at least a couple of hours ahead of serving so that the veggies have a chance to marinate; they maybe prepared a day or two ahead. Combine the veggies, salt and vinegar in a container and mix well. Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve.

Lettuce Wraps
Separate the inner leaves of the lettuces carefully, wash and drain thorougly. This maybe done a day ahead and carefully stored in the fridge until needed.

Tofu Filling
Combine all the ingredients under cooking sauce in a bowl.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. 

Add the tofu, onion and ginger and cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring to keep things from sticking or burning. 

When tofu begins to brown a little, stir in the mushrooms, chile, bell pepper, garlic, carrot, water chestnuts, and the cooking sauce; cook until all the liquids evaporate or are absorbed - abouit 3-4 minutes or so. 

Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sesame seeds, cilantro and green onions. 

Taste and adjust the seasonings. If made ahead, cool and chill. Reheat until warm just before serving.

Assembly
Place about 1-2 Tbsp of the warm filling on the leaves, sprinkle with cilantro and green onions. 

Pass the bowl of pickled carrots and daikon to top the wraps as desired.

Eat right away while the lettuce is crisp and the filling warm.

Enjoy!!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Everyday Lentil Soup

We love all things lentils and this Everyday Lentil Soup is a favorite! Lentil soup can serve as a main dish, light meal/snack, or starter. This luscious soup enriched with the trio of onions, garlic, and carrots can stand alone or served with grains or bread. According to Hema, this soup is based on Mauritian recipe where Indian and local ingredients are combined to produce the unique dishes reminiscent of Indian cuisine.

The soup begins with preparing a flavorful basic seasoning of toasted cumin seeds, onions and garlic common to most dals along with carrots which add color, texture, and sweetness plus tomato for a little tang. I like to cook the lentils by themselves and add them to the soup after the seasonings are ready. Then the soup is simmered with fragrant thyme and finished with a sprinkle of parsley or cilantro. 

Leftovers are fabulous for about a week in the fridge or maybe frozen for up to 3 months. Or, turn the delicious leftovers into a yummy casserole: stir the soup into cooked grains and bake under a light blanket of your favorite vegan cheese and/or a sprinkle of seasoned regular/gluten-free bread or cracker crumbs until heated through and the crumbs are golden and crisp.


Notes: 

Parsnips maybe subbed for some or all of the carrots. Celery is another great addition. 

8 Servings

Ingredients:

2 cups Lentils, soaked for 30 minutes and rinsed
1 medium Onion, finely diced
1 large Carrot, finely diced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 or 2 Tomatoes, diced
2-3 Tbsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped (or 1-2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/8 - 1/2 tsp Cayenne 
4-5 cups water or as needed
1 large handful Flatleaf Parsley/Cilantro, finely chopped
Lime/Lemon wedges to serve (optional)

Directions:

Sort, rinse and soak the lentils in lots of water to cover for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain soaking water and rinse.

Cook the lentils until quite tender in enough fresh water to cover. Cooking maybe done using a regular pot, a pressure cooker or an instant pot. Lentils maybe cooked a day or two ahead and reserved in the fridge until ready to prepare the soup.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. 

Add  the cumin seeds, and when they begin to change color and begin to be fragrant, add onion with a pinch of salt, and cook covered until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes over low heat. Sprinkle a little water if the onions dry out.

Stir in the garlic and carrot and cook covered, stirring occasionally for a few seconds.

Add the tomato into the onion mixture and cook for a minute or two, stirring well until hot and well mixed.

Add the thyme, turmeric, and cayenne if using, cooked lentils with the cooking broth, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Stir in extra boiling water as needed to get the right consistency. Bring the soup to a boil. 

When the soup comes a boil, lower the heat, and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley, cover, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Taste the soup and add more seasonings if needed. Add the parsley or cilantro.

Serve hot by itself or over freshly cooked rice or other grains and pass lemon wedges if desired.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Light & Easy Buckwheat Pancakes With Strawberry Coulis

These Buckwheat Pancakes With Strawberry Coulis are light and easy; they are naturally dairy, gluten and oil free! These delicious buckwheat pancakes make any breakfast truly special. This great tasting recipe is perfect for a special occasion breakfast or brunch for company as well as the family.

NOTES:

Purchased or homemade buckwheat flour maybe used. 

Depending on the amount of liquid added to the batter, the pancakes maybe thick or thin; if thick they maybe served in a stack. If made thin, they maybe rolled up with the coulis inside. The pancakes taste absolutely fabulous either way. 

Apples, pears, bananas, or blueberries maybe added to the batter just before preparing the pancakes. Instead of the strawberries, other fruit maybe prepared as a coulis.

Leftover pancakes maybe stored in the fridge or frozen for longer storage. Pancakes maybe reheated in the skillet or oven.

Buckwheat pancakes 
About 12 pancakes
3-4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Coulis:
2 cups Straberries
2-3 Tbsp Maple Sugar/Syrup
1 pinch Sea Salt
1 squeeze Lemon juice (1 tsp)

Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups Buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp ground Flax seeds
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 -2 cups unsweetened Nondairy Milk 
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3 tbsp Coconut Sugar/Maple syrup

Powdered sugar for serving
Maple Syrup for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Coulis: 

Wash and drain the strawberries. Reserve a few for garnishing. Dice the rest of the berries and place them in a bowl. Mash slightly with a fork and stir in the salt, maple sugar/syrup and lemon. Mix well and reserve.

Pancakes:

Whisk together the lemon juice, 1 cup of milk, vanilla and coconut sugar or maple syrup in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the flour, flax seeds, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. 

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir together just until combined adding the rest of the milk as needed to get a thick but pourable batter. Let the batter rest for about 10-15 minutes. If batter is very thick, a little more milk or water maybe added.

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with a little oil using a paper towel. Heat the skillet over medium heat.

Prepare pancakes by pouring about 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet; you can quickly spread the batter gently in a swirling motion with the back of  a spoon to desired thickness.

Cook until bubbles appear and burst all over each pancake and the edges lift up slightly. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute. Remove the pancake from skillet and place on platter.

Continue cooking the pancakes until all the batter is used stacking the pancakes as they are cooked.

Serve the pancakes hot with some of the coulis on top. Dust with powdered sugar. Drizzle a little maple syrup over the pancakes.

Enjoy!!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Mushroom Fazzoletti With Soft Creamy Polenta

Mushroom Fazzoletti is delicious over polenta, pasta, toast, or other grains. This recipe is my recreation of a lovely dish made with trumpet mushrooms we enjoyed in a lovely vegan restaurant in Washington DC. Although it is delicious served over any pasta or purchased/homemade regular polenta, we particularly enjoy it served over soft creamy polenta. I make the polenta in the Instant Pot which makes it a breeze to have everything ready in record time without undue attention or stirring; plenta could be made in a regular pressure cooker as well.

While the commonly available mushrooms work fine, other flavorful mushrooms would be awsome additions if you can get them. Fresh herbs and tomatoes are important for Fazzoletti, as they lend a more delicate flavor than dried or canned.

If you are serving over pasta, you can use the water in which it was cooked as needed to finish the sauce for a velvety finish.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Fazzoletti:
2 lbs Mushrooms - Baby Bella, Cremini, etc thinly sliced
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 cup fresh Basil Leaves, chopped finely
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper
1 cup Vegetable Stock (or purchased)
2 heaping cups Grape, Cherry or Plum Tomatoes, diced

Soft Creamy Polenta  1 recipe to Serve
1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan or Toasted coarsely ground Almonds
Basil sprigs for garnish

METHOD:

Prepare the polenta and keep warm. 

Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and stir for about 30-40 seconds. 

Stir in the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and pepper; they will exude a lot of moisture. Keep cooking until the juices evaporate and the mushrooms start to brown a little.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they soften and get juicy. 

Stir in the basil and the veggie stock and cook until hot. Add a little water (or pasta water if making pasta) as needed so that the mushrooms are coated and there is some sauce.

Divide the hot polenta among 4 wide bowls and top each the mushroom fazzoletti.

Sprinkle the vegan Parmesan or toasted Almonds and garnish with the basil.

Serve immediately. 

Enjoy!!



Sunday, April 12, 2020

Stress-free Soft Creamy Polenta

Soft Creamy Polenta is very similar to soft Indian Upma and one of the untlimate comfort foods! Instead of slaving over the stove trying to stir the thickening polenta which bubbles and spits blobs of boiling hot stuff everywhere including the chef, just pop it in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker and... Et Viola! Delicious Polenta without stress!

Baked polenta is an alternative to this recipe; it works well but requires 1.5 hours of baking time and needs a little more oversight. 

Top warm polenta with your favorite Indian curries or Italian ragus and you will have a sumptuous dinner. Try Pepperonata, Mushroom Ragu or Borlotti Bolognese over piping hot creamy polenta for a hearty warming meal.

NOTES:

Adjust the amount of water to make the polenta firmer or softer.

The cooked polenta solidifies when cold. It maybe warmed with a small amount of water or sliced and pan-toasted and served with your favorite toppings.

Fresh or reheated polenta sprinkled with sweet spices, toasted nuts, and fresh or dried fruit makes a fantastic breakfast/brunch treat.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup dry Polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1 tsp Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
3-4 cups boiling water
3-4 Tbsp Fresh Herbs (Sage and Basil)
2 Tbsp Vegan Butter Sub or Olive Oil (optional)
2-4 oz Vegan Parmesan (optional)

METHOD:

Place polenta in the Instant Pot bowl. Add salt and a generous amount of pepper. 

Stir in the boiling water and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Follow manufacturer's directions to cook the polenta for 9 minutes at high pressure in the Instant Pot. When timer goes off, allow the pressure to decrease naturally and completely before opening. Alternately, use a regular pressure cooker for 9 minutes after pressurizing according to manufacturer's directions. 

Stir in the fresh herbs and any of the optional ingredients into the hot polenta. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot with additional pepper and your favorite toppings of stews or sauces.

Enjoy!!