Sunday, July 20, 2008

Antipasti Pasta Salad

My mom buys marinated artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes in huge jars, so every time I visit her I make a big bowl of this tangy pasta salad using generous scoops of each. It's so good! This recipe makes a huge bowl of salad, perfect for a potluck, or just eating for lunch all week long.

Antipasti Pasta Salad

1 lb rotini (or your favorite curly pasta)
2 cups broccoli florets
2 medium carrots, cut into matchsticks
2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, halved or quartered
1 cup sundried tomato strips, packed in oil
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (white or red), OR 1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to directions, using the minimum cooking time listed (your pasta will absorb dressing and soften over time, so you want it to be al dente!). Add your broccoli and carrots in with the noodles for the last 2 minutes of cooking to blanch them (this will save you an extra cooking pot). Drain pasta and veggies in a colander and immediately run cold water over them until they are completely cooled, to prevent overcooking. Leave the colander to drain while you prepare the dressing in a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and stir, then add the drained, cold pasta/veggies and mix well. Store in a sealed container in the fridge at least an hour before serving. It will keep for about a week, and the flavor gets even better after a day or two.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Taco Soup

My great-aunt Joanne first made this soup for a family gathering, and mom liked it so much she asked for the recipe and we've been using it ever since. It was really easy to adapt for vegetarians, I just left out the ground beef and added a variety of canned beans. Part of the beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity... you just dump everything in a pot, liquid included. Instant comfort food!

Taco Soup

1 can kidney beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can sliced black olives
2 cans tomatoes (I use petite dice)
1 can green beans
1 cup frozen corn
1-2 packets taco seasoning (adjust to taste!)
1/2 cup dry macaroni

Toppings (optional):
vegan sour cream and/or shredded cheese

In a large soup pot/dutch oven on medium-high heat, dump everything but the macaroni and stir. DON'T DRAIN THE CANNED STUFF. Just dump it all in the pot, liquid and all. (Tip: just add one packet of taco seasoning to start. If it doesn't taste quite spicy/salty enough with one, add more from a second packet until it's just right.) When it comes to a boil, add macaroni, stir, and turn down heat a little so it doesn't boil over. When the noodles are cooked, turn off heat. If the soup is too thick, you may want to add some water to thin it out a little. Serve in bowls with or without toppings.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

I needed something vegetarian to bring to today's 4th of July BBQ, and mom suggested a cold salad made with black-eyed peas. There are a lot of recipes for it online using fresh veggies, canned peas and a vinaigrette-type dressing, but I like my peas home-cooked. They've got a better texture that way, but you could use frozen ones too, with similar results.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

2 cups dry black-eyed peas
2 medium roasted peppers, chopped
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup grated carrot


1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (red is fine, white just tastes cleaner and brighter)
2 T spicy brown mustard
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp parsley (or 1 T. fresh)
freshly-ground black pepper

Soak the peas for 4 hours, then rinse, cover with fresh water in a pot, add 2 tsp salt, bring to a boil and simmer for 30-40 minutes until tender. Rinse cooked beans with cold water and drain while you prep the veggies and dressing. (My dad grilled a red and an orange bell pepper for me on his grill, which turned out awesome! But you can use jarred peppers too, if you aren't so lucky.) Mix peas and vegetables together in a large bowl, taking care not to mash the beans up too much. Whisk dressing ingredients in a small bowl, then toss with the pea mixture till well-mixed. Cover and let sit in the fridge at least an hour before serving.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ginger-Lime Tofu

If you chill and reheat this, the tofu tastes eerily like chicken breast. It is awesome. (PS: Sorry the pic is sucky. I'll replace it when I can =D)

Ginger-Lime Tofu

1 block firm tofu, pressed
2 tsp vegetable oil, divided
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 broccoli crown, trimmed and cut into small florets
5 baby carrots, sliced
3 large button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 small-medium summer squash, quartered and sliced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
dash pepper
1/4 c nutritional yeast
2 T soy sauce
juice of 1/2 a lime (fresh is best)

Cut tofu into 1/4" slices. Cut slices in half to make squares, then cut the squares diagonally to make triangles. Toss in a large pan on medium-high heat and drizzle with half the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely golden-brown on all sides. It may take a while :) Set tofu aside and cook the vegetables in the remaining oil, starting with onion, adding garlic when the onion becomes translucent. When garlic is fragrant, add broccoli, carrots and mushrooms. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until broccoli is cooked on the outside but still raw in the middle, then add squash and peppers. When vegetables are tender, add ginger, black pepper, and nutritional yeast, stirring until incorporated, then add soy sauce and lime juice. Remove from heat and stir well. Serve immediately, or chill and reheat.