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Dinner, Korean, Lactose Free, Pasta, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

December 7, 2016

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Cold noodles tossed with crisp vegetables are one of my favorite lunch dishes.  I often make a big bowl of Aunty Ruby’s Somen Salad and take it to work to share with my friends.  This recipe calls for perciatelli or bucatini pasta but I couldn’t resist using delicate somen noodles.  They cook up in 3 minutes and are the perfect partner for the spicy cucumbers.  I found this delightful recipe in Martha Stewart Living magazine. The subject of this particular article was Korean Barbecue and a talented Korean cook, Mrs. Pai.  This is one of her original side dishes.

Somen Noodles

Keiki Cukes

These beautiful “Keiki Cukes” are grown on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Big Island Produce is a hydroponic farm that produces cucumbers all year long.  They are super crunchy and don’t have any seeds.  We use them to make dill pickles, bread & butter pickles, and add them to all types of salads.

Chopped Scallions

Korean Chili Flakes

Korean chili flakes or gochugaru (not to be confused with red pepper powder), has a unique balance of sweet and smoky flavors with medium heat.  I have heard that hotter varieties are available but the one I buy from Whole Spice tends to be just the right heat for me.

Spicy Cucumbers

The cucumbers are mixed with Korean chili flakes, scallions, garlic, and sesame oil before being tossed with cold noodles.

somen-1-2

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers

Chilled Somen with Spicy Cucumbers
 
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Magazine
Author:
Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
Ingredients
  • 10 ounces thinly sliced small cucumbers (Keiki, Japanese, Persian)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons Korean chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 small clove garlic, crushed in a garlic press
  • 4 tablespoons roasted sesame oil, divided (Kadoya brand recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 package (3 bundles - 8 oz.) somen noodles
  • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
  • salt for seasoning
Preparation
  1. Toss cucumbers with ½ teaspoon salt, and let sit for 30 minutes. Transfer cucumbers to a clean dish towel and wring to remove excess liquid from cucumbers. Transfer to a large bowl. Add Korean chili flakes, sugar, scallions, garlic, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, and the vinegar. Mix seasonings into cucumbers; let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cook somen noodles according to package instructions. Shirakiku brand cooks for just 3 minutes. Immediately drain, rinse under cold water and place noodles in an ice bath until well chilled. Drain noodles well and add to cucumbers, tossing to combine. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of sesame oil and the soy sauce. Season with salt and additional Korean chili flakes before serving. Leftovers are delicious the following day.

 

Beans, Dinner, Lactose Free, Pressure Cooker, Recipes, Salad, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

October 31, 2016

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

A few years ago I purchased Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton’s highly regarded Canal House Cooks Every Day cookbook.  The book has gorgeous photos with straightforward, practical instructions and is formatted by the four seasons.  It’s just a lovely book.  I had not consulted it in several years but I won’t neglect it again.  An example of their beautiful cuisine is this simple and delicious meal that lets the beans and greens shine.

Dried Flageolets

The original recipe calls for borlotti beans but they weren’t available at any of the stores I visited.  Instead, I used flageolets, one of my favorite beans.  Beautiful pale green and ivory colored, they cook up nicely, holding their shape.  I used my pressure cooker to save some time but you can certainly cook them in a Dutch oven if you don’t have a pressure cooker.  As with all types of beans, some will break during the cooking process.  A few will be too soft.  Though it may take an extra 5 – 10 minutes, I sort through the beans discarding the broken and soft beans after they have cooked.  Your finished dish will look beautiful and all of the beans will be the perfect texture.

Cooked Flageolets

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens

Flageolet Beans & Wilted Greens
 
Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day
Author:
Serves: 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dried flageolet beans, rinsed (sorted through to remove broken beans)
  • ½ medium onion cut in half
  • 1 bay leaf
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 5 ounces baby kale, spinach, or a combination (I used Organic Girl I Love Baby Kale mixture)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
Preparation
  1. For stove top pressure cooker:
  2. Place beans in pot with 5 cups filtered water, bay leaf and onion. Pressure cook for 25 - 30 minutes. Let pressure release naturally. Check beans for doneness. They should be tender and cooked through but not mushy. If they need a little more time, pressure cook for a few additional minutes or simmer on the stove until done.
  3. For Dutch oven stove top:
  4. Place beans in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot along with the onion and bay leaf and cover with at least 2½ inches of water. Bring the beans to a gentle boil, then turn the heat down so the beans simmer gently. Check on the beans after 50 minutes to see how they are doing. Add more hot water as needed to keep the beans submerged. Continue to monitor the beans until they are completely cooked through but not soft.
  5. If you made your beans in advance remove them from the refrigerator and place them in a pot with a few tablespoons of water and a good splash of olive oil (discard onion and bay leaf). Cover and heat on low until just warm.
  6. Meanwhile, put 1½ tablespoons olive oil and the sliced garlic in a heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Rinse your greens and add it to the pan with the water still clinging to the greens. Sauté the greens, stirring and turning them in the oil, until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. To serve, place beans in a shallow bowl. Drizzle beans with a little olive oil. Top with the wilted greens and season with salt and pepper. I serve this with open-faced ham sandwiches but toasted garlic bread would be a delicious accompaniment as well.

 

 

Japanese, Lactose Free, Recipes, Salad, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Miso Turmeric Dressing

May 26, 2016

Miso Turmeric DressingThis is a beautiful and versatile dressing.  It’s delicious with chopped iceberg lettuce and cucumbers, or drizzled over a crisp watercress salad.   It’s the perfect match for a cool summer soba salad with finely shredded red cabbage and pan-fried tofu.

White MisoThis Hawaiian Style Mellow White Miso is perfect for this dressing.  It has a semi-sweet flavor that compliments the rest of the ingredients.

White Miso

Ground Turmeric

Shredded Ginger & CarrotThe dressing can be prepared in less than 10 minutes.  All the ingredients are whisked together in a small bowl.  That’s it!  It will keep nicely in the refrigerator for 3 – 4 days.

Miso Turmeric Dressing with Soba Salad

Miso Turmeric Dressing
 
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Author:
Serves: about 1 cup
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup mirin
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2½ tablespoons finely grated carrot
  • 2 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons roasted sesame seeds
Preparation
  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve over crisp salad greens such as iceberg lettuce, watercress, chopped cabbage or use as a dressing for soba salad.

 

Appetizers, Bread, Lactose Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Pita Chips

April 13, 2016

Homemade Pita Chips

Having recently discovered the superlative quality of homemade hummus as opposed to the store-bought version, I thought why not make my own pita chips too?  They are one of the simplest snacks to make and all you need is a bag of pita bread plus olive oil and salt, items that we all have in our pantries.

Pita Bread

You can opt to use all the pita breads in the package, or make a smaller batch using just three.  The pita chips bake for just 10 minutes and come out of the oven perfectly golden brown.

Pita Bread Halved and Split

I tried splitting the pita bread, and not splitting the pita bread.  Conclusion – splitting the pita bread is the way to go if you want thin and crispy chips.  The pita chips that were not split were a bit tough and didn’t seem to hold their crunchy texture for very long, which brought to mind the time I purchased a bag of Stacy’s Pita Chips at Mana Foods.  They were nice and crisp.  Later, I saw a giant bag at Costco so I bought it, after all it was a good deal.  Once I took a bite of Stacy’s Costco version, I was sorely disappointed.  The chips were really hard and not delicately crispy as I had expected them to be.  Curious about why there was such a variation of the two bags, I contacted Stacy’s customer service department and was informed that the pita chips sold at Costco (in the giant bag that’s such a deal) are not split, and the ones at the market are.  So there you have it!

Pita Bread Halved and Split + Olive Oil & Maldon Sea Salt

Brush or dab a little olive oil on the rough side of the pita bread.  Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, such as Maldon.  I like to sprinkle a bit of dried oregano over the pita bread but it is optional.  You could also season the pita chips with pepper, or other dried herbs.  Bake until completely crisp.

Ready to Bake Homemade Pita Chips

 

Homemade Pita Chips

 

Pita Chips
 
Author:
Serves: 36 chips
Ingredients
  • 3 pita breads, about 6" diameter each
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
  • dried oregano
Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut each pita bread in half, then split each half making 4 pieces per pita bread
  3. Stack the halves and cut into thirds, making 12 chips per pita (36 wedges total)
  4. Brush a bit of olive oil over the rough inner side of each piece and sprinkle with salt and oregano.
  5. Place wedges on foil-lined baking sheet making sure not to overlap.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, checking at the 8 minute mark as oven temperatures vary.
  7. Pita chips should be golden brown and crisp. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Serve with homemade hummus.

 

Appetizers, Beans, Lactose Free, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

Easy Homemade Hummus

April 4, 2016

hummus - 1 (6)

Hummus and pita chips are a great snack any time of the day.  I have purchased hummus from our local markets in the past, but I’m always disappointed. Most of the time it’s because there’s too much garlic in the hummus for my taste.  When it comes to using raw garlic, especially in hummus and pesto, I prefer a light garlicky flavor, just enough to give the dish a nice zing, but also allowing the other flavors to shine.  This simple recipe does just that.  You taste the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, and a bit of garlic.  A few dashes of cayenne pepper adds a delightful touch of heat.  This snack will take you just 10 minutes to whip up in your food processor.

chickpeas - 1

I’ve tried a number of brands of canned chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and finally decided that I like Eden the best (so far).  The beans have a nice color and a good texture.

hummus - 1 (7)

Easy Homemade Hummus
 
Ready in just 10 minutes!
Author:
Serves: 4 - 6 as an appetizer
Ingredients
  • 1 15 ounce can of chickpeas drained, 2 tablespoons of liquid reserved (you may reserve a few beans to sprinkle over the hummus)
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons reserved liquid from the beans
  • 1 very small garlic clove, pressed (scant ¼ teaspoon)
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • few dashes of cayenne pepper
Preparation
  1. Place chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon reserved bean liquid, garlic, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. If the hummus seems too thick, add the other tablespoon of reserved bean liquid and process for a few seconds. Taste and add more salt and cayenne pepper if you desire.
  2. Before serving, drizzle a little olive oil over the hummus and sprinkle with a bit of cayenne pepper or paprika and reserved garbanzo beans. Serve with pita chips.

 

 

Appetizers, Pickles, Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian, Veggies

Quick Aleppo Dill Pickles

February 2, 2016

Quick Aleppo Dill PicklesIn earlier posts, I’ve mentioned that we love virtually all forms of pickles.  These refrigerator dill pickles are scrumptious.  Crunchy with a little heat from the Aleppo pepper flakes, they are ready to eat in just an hour. John, always on the lookout for different pickles, found the recipe in my Bon Appetit magazine and quickly ordered Aleppo pepper from Amazon knowing we wouldn’t be able to find it here on Maui.  Featuring large flakes with a beautiful deep red color and medium heat, it is widely used in Middle Eastern cooking. This is our new favorite savory pickle.

Aleppo Pepper

Keiki CukesThe original recipe called for Persian cucumbers which are difficult to find here on Maui. These beautiful Keiki Cukes are readily available at our local Costco and they are perfect for pickles.

Cukes & Dill

Quick Aleppo Dill PicklesIf you are in the mood for pickles, go ahead and make a batch of these crunchy dills.  Once you taste them you will want to have  a jar in your refrigerator at all times.  Sprinkle on za’atar for a delicious finishing touch just before serving the pickles.

Quick Aleppo Dill Pickles

Quick Aleppo Dill Pickles
 
Updated 2/07/16: I reduced the salt from the original recipe.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 Keiki Cukes or Persian cucumbers (about 1¼ pound) quartered lengthwise
  • ¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • 2⅓ cups distilled white vinegar
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 medium garlic clove, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Za'atar and flaky sea salt (for serving)
Preparation
  1. Pack cucumber spears and dill into a large heatproof jar.
  2. Bring vinegar, sugar, garlic, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice, kosher salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Let cool slightly, then pour brine over cucumbers to submerge. Seal jar and chill at least 30 minutes.
  3. To serve, remove cucumber spears from brine, lightly shaking off excess liquid but leaving on any seasonings. Sprinkle with za'atar and sea salt.
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