Spanish Tapas-style Blistered Shishito Peppers

shishito peppers - trustinkim.com

A number of years ago I was on a trip to Spain, and I was treated to an amazing tapas feast. We ate so many delicious foods that night, but my favourite by far was the Padrón peppers – blackened, slathered with olive oil, and topped with crunchy salt. They were mildly hot; some were a little warmer than others, but the heat wasn’t uncomfortable.

I didn’t think I would enjoy these at all, since I’m not fond of green bell peppers, but these are completely different from bell peppers. Yay for trying new things!

When I got home from the trip to Spain I thought I would make these peppers all the time when I had guests, however, limited access to Padrón peppers in Vancouver crushed my dream. I was able to find them once at a Farmer’s Market. I paid a small fortune for them, and they were so hot that no one would eat them! I did eat them because I can be a bit stubborn, but they were not nearly as good as the ones in Spain.

Enter: the Shishito pepper. I found them in Vancouver at a Persian store, and at my local Korean store they are labelled as Twist peppers. They are incredibly similar to Padrón peppers – yay!

What you need:

  • Shishito or Padrón peppers
  • olive oil
  • flaky sea salt

What you do:

  1. Wash and dry the peppers.
  2. Bring a large frying pan (I like cast-iron for this) to high heat. Add a glug of olive oil, then add the peppers. Allow to fry for about one minute before turning; they should be blistered and darkened on the first side.
  3. Fry on the other side for another minute or so.
  4. Drizzle a bit more olive oil, then use your fingers to sprinkle on some sea salt.
  5. Enjoy them while they’re hot! You can always soak up the excess olive oil with some bread.

No-Bake Chocolate Date Nut Brownies

 

date nut brownie - trustinkim

This nutty brownie is a no-bake, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, raw recipe that also happens to be super tasty. It makes a great energy bar that you can pack for a big bike ride or hike. It contains nuts to give you some protein, and there’s natural sugar in the dates to make it taste good. 

You don’t need an oven, but you will need a food processor for this recipe. It keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks, or the freezer for a few months.

Just know that it is not your typical brownie that is cakey or gooey. You can find some of those recipes here here, and here.

I halved the recipe when I made it, but here is the full recipe version that comes from theminimalistbaker.com.

What you need:

  • 1 cup raw unsalted almonds (roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 & 2 1/2 cups Medjool dates (pitted)
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder or raw cacao 
  • 1-2 tsp espresso powder or finely ground coffee
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Line a cake pan with parchment paper (or loaf pan for 1/2 a recipe)
  2. Place 1 cup of the walnuts along with the almonds in the food processor and process until it is finely ground.
  3. Put the cocoa, espresso powder and sea salt in the processor, then pulse to combine. Place in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Process the dates until soft, then remove to a bowl.
  5. Put the nut and cocoa mixture back in the processor, then slowly add the dates through the spout in the top of the processor. Process until it becomes doughy; I had to add a little bit of water. The mixture should come together when you squeeze it.
  6. Place the mixture into the lined cake pan, then add the chopped walnuts. Combine the walnuts with the brownie mixture, then press it down until it is flat.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for about half an hour before cutting.
  8. Enjoy!

Cashew Cilantro Sauce

cashew dressing - trustinkim.com

This pretty green sauce makes an excellent topping for Mexican food. Cilantro and parsley with a hint of lime, combined with the creaminess of cashews makes it irresistible. So far I have used it in a Burrito Bowl (pictured), and it was also delicious on pinto bean and avocado enchiladas. When I was eating my leftovers at work a lot of people were curious about it – but it’s not just a pretty face! So delicious!

I found this recipe in The Plant-Based Foodie: Vancouver by Brad Hill. It is part of a recipe for a burrito bowl, but this dressing was definitely the standout of the dish. The only changes from the original recipe are: I halved the recipe, and I used unrefined sunflower oil rather than grape seed oil. I probably used less parsley and more cilantro than the recipe called for because I’m not the biggest fan of parsley, and also I don’t tend to measure with recipes like this.

The sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons grape seed oil or unrefined sunflower oil
  • juice and zest of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

What you do:

  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least an hour, then drain them.
  2. Put all the ingredients in the blender and blend for about a minute, until the mixture is smooth. Add a little water if you want it to be a little runnier.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Eggplant with Roasted Chickpeas and Tahini Sauce

roasted eggplant and chickpeas with tahini sauce - trustinkim

I have seen a number of recipes for roasted chickpeas lately, but I wasn’t very interested in making them because of a bad experience with some chalky store-bought roasted chickpeas. For some reason I decided to give them a try, and was really happy with the result. They come out just the right texture, not too dry, not too soft. I love the bit of saltiness topping off the creamy eggplant and tahini sauce. Add the sweetness of the pomegranate seeds and you’ve got a pretty perfect vegan meal.

This dinner is quite simple to make. Most of the work is done by the oven, roasting the eggplant and the chickpeas, and while it is roasting you just have to whip up a quick sauce.

I made this a few months ago, and I didn’t actually measure the sauce ingredients, so this is my best estimate of the amounts I used. I cobbled this recipe together from ideas I’ve seen in various cookbooks, most notably the Ottolenghi (drool) cookbooks.

What you need:

  • 1 – 540 mL can chickpeas
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 – 4 long and skinny, or 8 small eggplants
For the sauce:
  • 1/3 cup tahini paste
  • 2/3 cup greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup water or more as needed
  • parsley to garnish

Optional:

  • pomegranate seeds, of they are in season. Chopped dried sour cherries might be nice too.

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F.
  2. Rinse the chickpeas and pat them dry with a clean towel. Toss them in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, then toss with salt, pepper and cumin. Spread out into a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Wash the eggplants and slice them in half lengthwise. Place them cut-side up on a baking tray and brush them with olive oil.
  4. Roast the chickpeas and eggplants for 30-40 minutes, tossing the chickpeas halfway through the time. The eggplant should be very tender when you poke it with a fork. The chickpeas should be slightly crunchy, but not hard. It’s a good idea to test the chickpeas a few times in the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  5. While the oven is doing its thing you can make the sauce. Whisk together the tahini, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Slowly add the water to make a pourable yet still thick sauce. Taste and add more salt or lemon if needed.
  6. Plate the eggplant, drizzling the sauce over them, and then top with the chickpeas. Garnish with chopped parsley and optional pomegranate.

Herbed Cheese-Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

herbed cheese stuffed mini peppers - trustinkim

These beauties made a tasty little appetizer. Super easy too.

The type of cheese and herbs you use is up to you and your taste preferences, or what you’ve got on hand. I used a combination of Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese” along with some goat cheese, and mixed in some basil and parsley.

These can be made vegan by using cream cheese and parmesan non-dairy substitutes.

What you need:

  • mini bell peppers
  • cheese of your choice: goat cheese, cream cheese, Tofutti “Better than Cream Cheese,” or a combination of cheeses
  • chopped fresh herbs (your choice: basil, oregano, or dill, or…) Green onions are another option
  • salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • parmesan cheese

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Slice the peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Save one pepper to chop up for a garnish. Roast the peppers in the oven for about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine the herbs, soft cheese, salt and pepper, then spread it into the cavity of the peppers. Top them with a bit of parmesan cheese, then pop them in the oven just long enough to heat them up, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. Garnish with chopped pepper and a few herbs. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Corn Salad

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Now that the warmer weather is here I’m starting to think about what to make for patio and picnic time. This salad is super tasty, and really healthy too. For me it’s a great quick meal salad, and since it keeps in the fridge for a few days I can just dig in whenever I need a little something to eat. You can also mix and match at you see fit, for example if you don’t like peppers you can substitute a bit of jicama or apple or whatever you’d like.

If you use canned beans and corn, all you have to do is make the dressing and add in whatever veg and herbs you like – super easy! Then let it all sit for about half an hour before you dig in.

I found the recipe here, and I just downsized the amounts. I used canned corn instead of frozen because I find frozen corn a bit rubbery, and peaches and cream corn is the best. I also added some freshly chopped tomato to the top of each salad, and a bit of extra bell pepper.

Avocado makes a great addition to the top of each salad serving. Sadly, I could not find a ripe avocado in the five stores I checked. They could charge double for the ripe ones… I’d pay double for a perfectly ripe avocado – would you?

What you need for the salad:

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • I can peaches and cream corn, along with the liquid
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, de-seeded and diced (amount dependent on your heat preferences)
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion

What you need for the dressing:

  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper

What you do:

  1. Mix up all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Stir the dressing into the salad.
  3. Let the salad sit in the fridge with a cover over it for half an hour, or a few hours.

 

Fudge Brownies (Rebar’s recipe)

rebar's vegan brownies - trustinkim

The recipe for these cakey brownies comes from Rebar Restaurant’s vegan fudge brownie recipe. In my version I used butter and real chocolate, instead of vegan margarine and carob chips. I’m printing the recipe up as a non-vegan one, so if you need it to be vegan you can use the ingredients in brackets. I’ve had this recipe both ways, and both are delicious.

The cake part of this is great, but it’s the glaze on top, and the chocolate chips in the cake, that make this for me.

You can also add some toasted walnuts to the batter if you wish.

What you need for the brownie:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 & 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup coffee, cooled
  • 3/4 cup milk (soy, rice, or your fave alternative milk)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (carob chips)

What you need for the glaze:

  • 210 grams (7 oz) dark chocolate
  • 2/3 cup butter (vegan margarine)

What you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Grease a 9″ by 9″ pan with butter and then line it with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder, then add the brown sugar and salt. Add the coffee, milk and oil, then stir until it is all combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the pan and then sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes, checking for doneness with a toothpick, which should come out clean.
  5. Allow the cake to cool.
  6. To prepare the glaze use either a double boiler, or a bowl on top of a pot of lightly boiling water. Melt the chocolate and butter and whisk it together until it is smooth. Pour the glaze over the cake and spread it so there is an even layer.
  7. Place the pan in the fridge to set. To slice, remove the cake from the fridge to warm a little before slicing. This will prevent the chocolate from cracking, and make your brownies prettier.