Sunday, 8 April 2012

New Salad

After using only half a cup of lentils from a large can for a different recipe, I decided to make a salad with the leftovers.  I wanted to use cous cous in the salad, but we didn't have any, so I substituted orzo.  Then I started creating from there!  Here's what I ended up with:

And here's how to make it:

3/4 cup dry orzo
5 dried apricots
1/3 cup raisins
1 cup cooked brown lentils
4 green onions, sliced
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
2 large handfuls of spinach, minced *
10 to 15 grape tomatoes, cut in quarters lengthwise
juice of 1 small lemon
1 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp salt

Add the orzo to boiling water and cook until al dente - this doesn't take very long, by the way!  Just before the orzo is finished, drop in the apricots and raisins to soften them up.  Drain and rinse with cold water.  Remove the apricots and dice.  Once drained, put the orzo, raisins and apricots into a big bowl.  Add the lentils, green onions, pepper.  Mix together.  Toss in the minced spinach.  Add the tomatoes and toss gently.  Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and salt, then mix into the salad.  Let marinate overnight to allow the flavours to soak in.
* I was looking for something green here and wanted to use parsley, but I didn't have any so I used spinach instead!  Works for colour and is okay for taste, but I would prefer to use parsley.  Please feel free to substitute parsley for the spinach.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Mexi Bowl

It's been a while since I've posted something on the blog.  I have several recipes that have been accumulating and I'll see how many I can get on here today.

I love Mexican food!  It's very easy to eat vegetarian and vegan when one eats Mexican, and the food can be so fresh and flavourful and healthy.  Recently I was in southern California and was able to eat at three different Mexican restaurants.  Each time I had something different and each time my meals were vegan.  Here are photos of a couple of those meals.

 This meal is spinach enchiladas in tomatillo sauce.  (I ate this in Long Beach).  The usual beans and rice came with the meal as well as a plop of sweet corn mush.  The beans were not refried but rather more like baked beans and quite yummy.  The corn mush was also tasty.  However, the spinach enchiladas were delicious.  I plan on recreating that tomatillo sauce very soon.  If I'm successful, I'll share the recipe with you.

This meal is a burrito filled with beans and vegetables and accompanied by refried beans, rice and salad.  I ate this in Yucca near Joshua Tree National Park.

In Long Beach, there is a "fast food" Mexican restaurant (actually it's a chain restaurant found all over the U.S. and in some cities in Canada, but not Vancouver) called Chipotle.  There they serve up burritos and bowls with your choice of meat (chicken, beef, pork), choice of beans (black or pinto), choice of salsas (3 kinds varying in degree of hotness), choice of rice (white or brown) plus sauteed vegetables, cheese, guacamole, lettuce.  I had a black bean vegan bowl when I was there - no meat, no cheese, but plenty of vegetables.  It was delicious.  When I got home I recreated it.  Here it is:

Mexi Bowl
(serves 2 with a bit left over)

3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tsp veg oil
dash of salt
1 tsp cumin
1 little can green chilies
1 1/2 cups black beans

In a frying pan, saute the onions and garlic together in the oil for a few minutes.  Add the salt and spices and cook for another minute.  Add the chilies and the black beans and a bit of water.  Stir together and mash a bit against the side of the pan until mixed to your satisfaction - depends on if you like your beans mushy or chunky.
This picture isn't the greatest.  You can see, though, that the beans are not mushed up much.  That's how I decided to make them this time.

Sauteed Vegetables:
1 tsp veg oil
1 red or yellow or red bell pepper, cut in slices
1 onion, sliced
several handfuls of chopped spinach
Heat the oil in a frying pan, then sautee the pepper and onion until soft and shiny.  Add a bit of water while you are sauteeing to prevent sticking if necessary.  Throw in the spinach, stir, put the lid on and let the spinach steam until wilted.
1 cup brown rice
1/4 cup lime juice
handful of chopped cilantro
Cook the rice in your rice cooker (or however you usually cook rice).  Stir the lime juice in when rice is cooked and still hot.  Let sit for a few minutes so rice can absorb the lime juice.  Stir in the cilantro.
By the way, I first cooked the rice in the rice cooker and used lime juice as part of the liquid.  That didn't work very well - the lime juice caused the rice to burn on the bottom!  I think it's better to add the lime juice after the rice is cooked.  Fresh lime juice is best, of course.

1 avacado
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp lime juice
Scoop the avacado into a bowl and mash.  Mash in the garlic and stir in the lime juice.

Putting it together:
Lime Rice
Sauteed Vegetables
Salsa (we use Herdez - sooooooooooo good)
Shredded lettuce
In big individual bowls, layer the food as follows:
  • about 1/2 cup rice
  • about 3/4 cup beans
  • 1/2 of the sauteed vegetables
  • a generous plop of guacamole
  • about 1/4 cup salsa or however much you want
  • lots and lots of shredded lettuce
Eat and enjoy!

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Dhal is a thick stew made of lentils or split peas.  We have a dhal we like to make from yellow split peas.  We make it so often that "Tom" knows the spices and amounts off by heart!  (It's quite delicious and I've included the recipe at the bottom of this post, almost as an afterthought)!
Yesterday I thought I'd try a different dhal.  I made Spinach Dhal and the recipe is included here.

Spinach Dhal
(adapted from The Healthy Low-Fat Indian Cookbook)

1 cup yellow split peas
1 cup water
1/2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1" piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chili, finely chopped *
275g fresh spinach **
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt

Wash the split peas then leave in a bowl covered with plenty of water to soak for 30 minutes.  Drain the split peas and put in large pot with 1 cup of water.  Bring to boil and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat the oil over med-high heat in a large frying pan, then fry the mustard seeds until they begin to pop.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion, garlic, ginger and chili for about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted.  Stir in the remaining spices and salt and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes.  Drain the split peas (if necessary - the water should all be absorbed) and add to the spinach and heat through.  Serve at once.
* please, please, please make sure you use gloves when handling chili peppers.  Yesterday, I cockily didn't bother with gloves and the tips of my fingers are burning still today!
** I use the washed baby spinach available in large transparent plastic containers.

Spiced Dhal
(from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas)

1 ½ cups yellow split peas
4 cups water
3 tbsp butter or ghee *
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ inch stick cinnamon
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp mustard seeds
6 whole cloves

Wash the split peas and boil in the water until very soft and most of the water has been absorbed.  Stir often.
Heat the butter or ghee in a saucepan and add the spices to it.  Stir them around for a few minutes then remove from the heat.  Pour the spices and butter into the split peas and simmer stirring often until the dal has the consistency of a fairly thick sauce.  Depending on your split peas and on your preference, you might need to give the dhal a whirl with an immersion blender
*There is no need to use this large amount of butter.  Just a tbsp should do the trick.  Yes, I know it's not vegan, but the butter adds a flavour that is integral to this dish.