Monday, October 24, 2011

Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs

When I was little and I would be begging for something I couldn't have, my Dad would sing me the song "You Can't Always Get What You Want", by the Rolling Stones.  It would irritate the crap out of me and I just hated hearing that song.  I am sure I heard the song hundreds of times played or sung over the years.  The funny thing is though, now as an adult, I appriciate it.  It is true, as the lyrics go..."you can't always get what you want...but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need."  Life is misreable for anyone who doesn't believe this.  If I didn't I would have been really upset last night when I went to make Vegan Italian meatballs but didn't have any canned tomatoes or pasta on hand.  Instead of getting upset, I decided that it was not meant to be an Italian night, but instead and Asian night for dinner. 

I had the ingredients for Asian flavored meatballs, so I made Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs with sauteed veggies.  And you know what?  They were amazing...and I happened to have some plum saki in my fridge to serve them with!  Lesson learned, not getting what I wanted can lead to creativity and a delicious new recipe.  Here it is if you wish to try it! 

Sweet and Sour Vegan Meatballs
Serves 4

1 Tbsp peanut oil
1 cup chopped red onion
3 cups chopped crimini mushrooms
1 Tbsp fresh ginger
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts
2 cups dried whole wheat bread crumbs, or as needed
2 Tbsp miso
2 Tbsp tamari
2 tsp sea salt
red pepper flakes
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
1 1/4 cups apple cider
1/4 cup tamari
2 Tbsp mirin
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp peanut oil
3 cups brussels sprouts, halved
2 large carrots, halved and sliced
2 cups mushroom, sliced

toasted sesame seeds
rice to serve

Preheat the oven to 475.  To make meatballs, heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, ginger, and carrots, and saute until softened, about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms and saute until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute another minute until fragrant, then remove from heat.  Place mixture in a food processor along with walnuts, breadcrumbs, miso, tamari, sea salt, and pepper.  Process until smooth.  Add a little more breadcrumbs if too sticky, then shape into 16 little balls and place on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with non-stick spray.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes until heated through, and starting to brown.  Meanwhile, whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.  In a large non-stick skillet heat 1 Tbsp peanut oil and add the brussels sprouts, carrots and mushrooms.  Saute until starting to soften, but still slighlty crunchy, just a few minutes.  Add the sauce, and cook until thickened, just a few minutes.  Remove from heat and add meatballs.  Carefully stir to coat (meatballs are fragile, so be careful), sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with rice if desired.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Autumn Roasted Carrot and Apple Farro Salad

Yesterday at work, a customer asked me how to prepare farro, as she was trying to incorporate more whole grains into her diet.  Luckilly, I knew how to cook it and was able to help!  One of my favorite parts of working in the deli at a health food store is being able to help people like her.  It makes me happy to be able to give good advice on food, and help people eat healthier in turn.  After the little tutorial on farro, I started to think about how good it would be in a salad for dinner.  A leafy salad just wouldn't cut it as I was hungry, but a grain salad would be perfect!  Not wanting to spend money I decided that I would make it with things I already had on hand.  A carrot, a cipollini onion, and an apple.  Perfect!  I decided to roast them to bring out the flavor, then combine them with cooked farro, some fresh thyme and toasted walnuts in a cider vinaigrette.  It was delicious! 

All too often I forget about how tasty grains other than the usual rice and quinoa are.  Thank goodness that lady asked me about the farro and gave me the idea to make it venturing out of the same old rut!  Funny how that worked, I helped her, but she also helped me.  Here is the recipe I made if you would like to enjoy it!

Autumn Roasted Carrot and Apple Farro Salad
Serves 2

2 cups water
3/4 cup farro
1 medium cipollini onion, cut into wedges
1 large carrot, sliced
1 medium tart apple cut into large dice
olive oil
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 Tbsp walnut oil
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp dijon
sea salt and pepper to taste

Combine the water and farro in a medium saucepan. Add 1 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well, and then transfer to a large bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 475 degrees, and line a large sheet pan with foil.  Toss carrots and onions with just enough olive oil to coat and spread out on one side of sheet pan.  Scatter apples on the other side and roast for about 10 minutes until the apples are starting to soften.  Remove apples from pan, and add to bowl with the farro.  Return carrots and onions to the oven and continue to roast until starting to brown at edges and carrots are tender.  Let cool slightly then add to the bowl.  Add walnnuts and thyme, then whisk together vinegar, oils, syrup, mustard and sea salt and pepper to taste and add to the bowl.  Toss to coat, and serve at room temperature. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sweet and Spicy Squash and White Bean Chili

You would think that after making soups at work during the week when it has been 80 degrees in Minnesota, the last thing I would want to be making on the weekend would be chili...wrong.  It may be hot outside, but for sime reason I decided that I had to have chili today.  Maybe because it is Sunday, and the football game was on?  Those two things go together right?  I don't think that was what influenced my decision.  Although I watched the game today, and was pleased to see that the Minnesota Vikings actually won a game for the first time this year...I would not consider myself a football kind of girl.  Good for them though, hopefully they will win a few more before the year is up!  Anyways, more than likely it is the feeling of autumn that I got when going for a walk this afternoon through the woods and admiring the beautiful firey colored trees and crunching the leaves beneath my feet that said to me "it is fall, you should make chili!"  Nevermind the warm temperatures. 

I had piles of ripe tomatoes from my Grandpa ready to be roasted and thrown into chili as well as a good selection of hot peppers and buttercup squash begging to be eaten.  So chili it was!  Being that I only had navy beans in my cupboard, this was to be white bean chili.  In the deli where I work I always catch a hard time from all of my coworkers every time I use navy beans.  This is because they know it is my favorite bean and more than likely it is what I am putting into anything containing beans.  My friend Gabrielle even put a lable on the white beans that read "Amy's White Beans".  So I had to laugh to myself when they were the only beans I found on my search through the cupboard this afternoon.  I had all day to putz with this chili, so cooking the beans myself and using oven roasted homegrown tomatoes and squash in the chili were no problem.  Some ingredients I don't normally put in chili found their way into the pot this time making it even more irrisistable when I snuck a taste...raisins, almond butter and red wine.  My kitchen smelled wonderful as the chili simmered away!  I couldn't wait enjoy a bowl! 

I whipped up a batch of vegan cornbread and was ready for dinner!  It was scrumptious!  It was sweet and spicy, savory, and autumnal.  Not bad for a throw together on a whim.  If you would like to experience the chili for yourself, here is the recipe!

Sweet and Spicy Squash and White Bean Chili
Serves 8
1 Tbsp peanut oil
2 large onions, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 habanero, seeded and minced
1 cup carrots, sliced
8 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground chipotle pepper, or to taste
1 Tbsp smoky paprika
1/4 cup red wine
3 16 oz cans organic fire roasted tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp tamari
2 Tbsp almond butter
4 cups veggie broth
4 cups cooked navy beans
1/4 cup raisins
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 cups cubed cooked buttercup or butternut squash*

vegan sour cream
sliced scallions

In a large stockpot or dutch oven, heat the peanut oil over medium heat.  Add the onions, habanero, jalapenos, and carrots, and saute until softened, about 6-7 minutes.  Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, paprika, chipotle powder, and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the wine, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cider vinegar, cocoa powder, maple syrup, tamari, almond butter, veggie broth, and bring to a boil.  Simmer until flavors have blended, stirring often, about 20 minutes.  Add cooked beans, raisins and squash, and sea salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook until heated through.  Serve hot with vegan sour cream sliced scallions to garnish and cornbread if desired.

* Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray with non-stick spray.  Cut 1 large buttercup squash in half from top to bottom, and remove seeds.  Place cut side down on baking sheet, and roast for about 25-30 minutes until tender.  Remove from oven and let cool until cool enough to handle, then remove skin and cut into cubes. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roasted Chanterelle and Leek Salad with Pears and Pecans

While I was visiting MontrĂ©al last week, I visited a restaurant called DNA.  The atmosphere was wonderful and the service excellent!  They had the most beautiful orange decor, but more importantly the food was delicious! 

I ordered some delicious pappardelle pasta scattered with local mushrooms including chanterelles.  It was delicious and earthy due to the flavorful mushrooms. 

I had every ambition to try and recreate the $30 plate when I arrived home, and I even found some locally grown chanterelles at the market, but my day had other plans.  Instead of putzing with home made pappardelle today I visited a local winery, St. Croix Vineyards for some wine tasting.  Of course I ended up buying wine there, as well as some late harvest riesling vinegar. Being that it was a warm day, and that I was feeling a bit lazy in the dinner department, I decided that the chanterelles would be lovely in a salad also using some of that vinegar that I had bought.  So I roasted some chanterelles (as well as a bit of crimini mushrooms which are more affordable) and some leeks and tossed them with some ripe d'anjou pears and toasted pecans for a delicious salad! 

I dressed it with a riesling maple walnut dressing with a bit of thyme and voila!  Deliciousness!  It wasn't a good day for pasta anyhow, and the salad paired perfectly with some dry riesling I had also picked up today.  Maybe I will make pappardelle when the weather chills out a bit, but for now this salad did the trick to showcase the chanterelles!  If you have access to them you should try making it yourself!

Roasted Chanterelle and Leek Salad with Pears and Pecans
Serves 2

1 large leek, sliced
10 chanterelle mushrooms, halved if large
10 crimini mushrooms, halved
olive oil
1 large D'anjou pear, sliced
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1 large head leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite sized pieces

2 Tbsp walnut oil
2 Tbsp riesling vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp honey dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Toss mushrooms and leeks with just enough olive oil to coat, and spread out on baking sheet.  Roast in the oven until tender and starting to brown at edges, about 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature, then add to a large bowl along with the pear, pecans and leaf lettuce.  Whisk dressing ingredients together, then pour over salad and toss well.  Serve!