Basic Bowl

Basic BowlTo be honest, this is just a template. A tasty template, but one that is open to countless variations. This is a bowl of rice and beans with various accoutrements. It’s very satisfying, tasty, and nutritious, and we love it!

Basic rice and bean bowl ingredients.

Clockwise from top left: lettuce, crispy tofu, black bean chili, fresh tomato, yummy sauce, green salsa, avocado chunks, brown rice, and black olives in the center.

Serves 3-4

1 cup brown rice
1/2 tsp salt

2 cans black beans
1″ chipotle chilies in adobo sauce
1/4 tsp salt

14-16 oz firm tofu
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp onion powder
2 tsp nutritional yeast
cooking spray

yummy sauce
salsa (home-made or commercial)
lettuce, shredded
fresh tomato, diced
black olives, halved
fresh cilantro to garnish
1 avocado

Put the rice in a saucepan with double the volume of water (2 cups) and 1/2 tsp of salt, and put to one side to soak for at least 1/2 hour.

Cover the rice, bring to a simmer, and cook until almost all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, leave the rice covered to finish cooking in its own steam.

Drain the black beans into a blender. Put the beans in a medium sized saucepan, and the chipotle chilies and salt in the blender with the bean juice.
Blend the bean juice, then pour it into the saucepan with the beans and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, and allow to steep.

Cut the tofu into 1/2″ cubes, put in a mixing bowl, and dry the surface of the tofu with a couple of paper towels. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, onion powder, and nutritional yeast over the tofu, toss to coat. Bring a grill/broiler up to high heat. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray, add the tofu, and place ~6″under the grill/broiler. Toss around on the baking sheet at intervals to encourage even browning, until the tofu is crispy on most sides.

Assemble the bowls: Put a quarter of the rice in each bowl, top with a quarter of the drained beans. Put a large splash of the salsa across one side of the beans, and a large splash of the yummy sauce on the other. Arrange the lettuce, tomato, black olives, cilantro and avocado slices on top.

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Yummy Vegan Dressing

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I should probably point out that I do not earn money from this blog, and so this endorsement is my actual opinion and does not include a mercenary bias. I got the idea for this salad/side dressing from Cafe Yumm! which has locations in Oregon and Washington, but not elsewhere. It’s a thick, pungent sauce for jazzing up salads & beans & rice & quinoa & suchlike. Cafe Yumm! sells the sauce in large bottles so you can make versions of their ‘bowls’ at home, but since they don’t appear to sell the sauce online at the moment, if you don’t happen to live in either of those states, you’ll have to make your own!

This sauce is strongly flavored! The dominant flavors are lemon juice, thyme, nutritional yeast, and probably more lemon juice. The original appears to be almost an emulsion made with oil, which does make it taste gorgeous, but without the oil, this stuff looks like health food, so that’s what I aimed for, to start off with, until my youngest convinced me to try it with oil, and it really is better that way. The sauce is also not smooth, so you may want to only partially blend the chickpeas/garbanzo beans. However, I should point out that this doesn’t seem to have much punch if it’s turned into mayonnaise by blending the oil into the other ingredients, and the texture isn’t right, so I very briefly stir in the oil at the end.

I don’t know how long this sauce would last, but I’ve managed to keep a bowl of it in the fridge for a week without anything untoward happening.

1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup water or plain unsweetened, plain, soy milk

1 tsp dried thyme (I’m sure fresh thyme would be even better)
6 tbsp nutritional yeast
8 tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt

3/4 – 1 cup (1/2 can) cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans ?1/4 cup chickpea miso instead?

1/2 cup neutral flavored oil

Put the almonds in the blender with the water/milk, thyme, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, garlic, and salt, and process until it’s as smooth as you can get it.

Add the chickpeas/garbanzo beans, and process until almost smooth.

Add the oil and process only long enough to combine (about 5 seconds, if that).

Chill before serving to thicken.

 

SouthWestern Salad

South Western SaladSunshine! Spring is showing its face here in the Pacific NorthWest, and it is far too warm to resist the urge to make salad, today. I’ve made variations of this salad over the last year, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that less is more when it comes to the dressing for this flag-bearer of a salad. Here we have the quintessential SouthWestern ingredients, all dressed in little more than the sharp floral flavors of fresh squeezed lime. If you love avocado the way we do, add an additional one (in cubes) to the salad before using the final one to decorate the top. I’ve not given a quantity for the chili, as different chilis have such a variation in heat, and different people have such a variation in desire for heat. You should add enough chili to just feel the heat, here, but not overpower all the other flavors. I’ve been using 1-3 tsp of minced, fresh/frozen Hatch chilis, which seems to be about right for my family.

Serves 4 as a main course salad or 8 as a side

1 cup frozen sweet corn, defrosted
2 14oz tins of black beans, drained
minced fresh chili, to taste
2 spring onions, cleaned
7-8 small red/yellow/orange bell peppers
3 salad tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 a fresh lime (or more, to taste)
1 small head cos/romaine lettuce
1 large avocado (or 2, if your budget copes with it)

Mix the corn and black beans together in a large bowl.

Stir the minced chili into the beans.

Slice the spring onions on the diagonal into 1/2″ pieces, and the bell peppers, and tomatoes into cubes.

Mix these into the corn and beans, stir in the chopped cilantro, and dress with the lime juice.

Rip the bigger leaves of the cos/romain lettuce into bite-sized pieces and form all the lettuce into a bed in a large (or individual) bowl/s.

Pile the bean mixture onto the lettuce bed, decorate with the avocado, and squeeze some additional lime over the top, if desired.

Serve as is, or with tortilla chips or in GF tortilla shells.

Kale and edamame salad

O.K., I know that this is going to sound gruelingly virtuous, but this salad is actually really rather good. The kale has a fairly astonishing nutritional profile, but it can have a rather assertive flavor, too, so I wanted a dressing that would tame it somewhat. I experimented with various dressings (including orange mayonnaise!), but in the end fell back on my old reliable vinaigrette, and really that’s all that it needed.

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Kale, edamame, cranberry, and brussels sprout salad. Healthy, filling, and loaded with nutrients! A real tonic for the post-holiday season fallout.

Although the ingredients don’t look as if they make much salad, this is one of those strangely filling foods that demand time taken to eat. I munch on this and feel as if I’ve (temporarily) joined the ranks of those virtuous salad eaters that you see sitting outside cafes on a sunny lunch time, making one feel like a nutritional neanderthal with no willpower to resist <insert addictive food substance here>. However, I don’t feel unhappily virtuous when I eat it. Sliced brussels sprouts are surprisingly sweet and tasty, raw, and the cranberries give intermittent pockets of intensity against the generally green tasting background of the kale. The salad dressing moistens and brings it all together.

For a bit of variation (or if you’re a little wary of kale), substitute finely sliced white cabbage (the stuff used for making coleslaw) for half of the kale.

Serves 4 as a side salad

2 recipes of slightly sweetened vinaigrette
2 cups (16 fl oz) kale
10 brussels sprouts
8 oz edamame (fresh, shelled, soy beans)
1 cup (8 fl oz) dried cranberries

Use a sharp knife to strip the kale greenery off any stalks; discard the stalks, and finely slice the green.

Clean the sprouts, and slice.

Toss all ingredients together in a large salad bowl, and serve.

Orange, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad

California is in the clutches of a drought, even by our normal standards. Humidity levels have been down below 20% for ages, and temperatures are hovering around the 80’s (26-32C). We’ve had less than 1/3 of our normal rainy season precipitation ….. so we’re eating salads.

There’s something rather attractive about this leafy salad, speckled with gold and crimson fruit. It’s a good salad for warmer, late winter days, when oranges are fresh off the trees.

Orange, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad with black olive hummus.

Orange, Cranberry, and Walnut Salad with black olive hummus.

1 clove garlic, minced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp orange muscat champagne vinegar (or this homemade version)
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 – 3 oz baby lettuce leaves
2 oranges
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts (lightly candied, if liked)

Vigorously beat together the garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and maple syrup with a fork to make an emulsion.

Wash and dry the lettuce, and put into a large bowl.

Peel the oranges, cut the flesh into dice, and mix with the cranberries and walnuts.

Add half the fruit/nuts to the lettuce with half of the dressing, and toss with hands or salad servers to combine.

Sprinkle the remainder of the fruit/nuts and dressing over the top, and serve immediately.

Orange Salad or Dipping Vinegar

A lot of my salad recipes call for Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar as sold by Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, much of the world is deprived of my favorite store, so I decided to mix up a more accessible alternative. I asked daughter #1 to taste test the two side by side (to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself that the mixture tasted great), and her reaction was “Wow!”

Orange Salad VinegarThe mixture is thicker than regular vinegar, but this is not a disadvantage when making salad dressings. The orange flavor is quite pronounced and fresher than the original, but the clean cutting properties of the vinegar are preserved. Although I figured this as an alternative to vinegar for salad dressings, it would work really well as a dip for bread cubes, too, much as you get balsamic vinegar and olive oil in fancy Italian restaurants … though you’d have to double or triple the recipe!

Makes about 2-3 tbsp of ‘vinegar’.

1 medium size orange, juiced
1 tbsp white salad vinegar (such as white balsamic)

Thick, reduced orange juice.

Thick, reduced, orange juice.

Boil up the orange juice in a small saucepan for about 5 minutes until reduced to about 2 tbsp in volume and thick enough to leave a trail when the spatula is dragged through it.

Allow to cool slightly, then stir in the white salad vinegar. Use within a day or two in salad dressings and such like.

Home Fried Potatoes

I rather figured that everyone in the US knew how to cook home fries, and felt that putting them on the blog was daft of me, despite the fact that they’re normally gluten free, and my kids love them. However, it would appear that I am wrong. An American friend of mine just asked for my recipe for them, and my daughter said she needed a recipe for when she left home (and yes, this is a repository of recipes for my girls), and they’re not so common in England anyway, so perhaps a recipe is needed! For the Brits: these are like mini, pan-fried, roast potatoes.

Homefries

Lightly browned breakfast potatoes (homefries). It’s easy to crisp them up further, but my daughter likes them a little softer.

Note: In my opinion, this is easiest to make if the surfaces of the potatoes are dry before they are fried. I will usually cook them as jacket/baked potatoes in the oven/microwave, then peel and cut into cubes before frying. Make sure the fat is good and hot before adding the potatoes in order to avoid having the potatoes soak up too much of it.

Another option is to peel and dice the potatoes, then simmer in salted water until just cooked, then drain and allow to cool slightly (and dry) before continuing to fry them. Obviously, left over potatoes work well here.

I did try cooking the potatoes from scratch with the onions and peppers, but the onions/peppers had a tendency to burn if cooked before as well as with the potatoes, or didn’t brown at all if added after the potatoes had crowded the pan.

Oh, and as an aside: if you ever find you have left overs, these are excellent thrown into creamy broccoli soup as lumpy bits after the soup has been blended.

1 lb potatoes, cooked and cubed (see note, above)
1 + 1 tbsp vegan margarine (Earth Balance) OR canola (rapeseed) oil
1/4 large onion, diced
1 cup (8 oz) red/orange/yellow pepper strips
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
paprika/cayenne pepper (optional)

Warm the first half of the fat in a large frying pan.

Cook the onion and red/orange/yellow pepper strips in the fat until they’re soft and starting to brown. Remove from the pan, and put to one side.

Add the remainder of the fat to the pan, and once it is hot, add the potatoes. Keep them moving around with a metal spatula/fish slice, to reduce sticking, scraping the bottom of the pan as necessary (those crispy bits are tasty, but also stop the potato cubes from browning further, if not scraped off).

Fry until they start to brown on all sides (this will be quite quick, if the surface of the potatoes is dry and the fat is hot). Add the onion and peppers back into the hot pan to reheat, sprinkle salt and pepper (and paprika or cayenne pepper, if liked) over the vegetables, and serve hot for breakfast, with scrambled tofu and some ranchero sauce (for example).