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.

Homemade Croutons

homemade croutons - trustinkim

A photo cannot portray how addictive these croutons are. So here’s what happens  –  I make a batch, and most of them get snacked on before they even make it as far as a salad topping. Inevitably I save a few for a salad, and every time it is the Best Salad Ever because these things are just so delicious.

I think the best part is the hint of lemon in them. They’ve also got a little garlic (I use a clove of garlic instead of the powder that the recipe calls for), some thyme and paprika.

The recipe comes from Thug Kitchen. I use a lower baking temperature than the 400 degrees that the cookbook calls for, because I find they get a bit too blackened at the high temperature. I also add a little more lemon juice. Today I made them and (gasp!) I was out of olive oil, so I substituted butter – big thumbs up on that one!

My favourite salad to serve these on at the moment is a caesar salad with a lighter dressing made with yogurt.

You can keep these for a while in an airtight container.

What you need:

  • 1/2 loaf day-old bread (about 5 cups of cubes) (I like Olivier’s French Whole Wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tablespoons or more of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

What you do:

  1. Heat the oven to 300F.
  2. Cut the bread into cubes.
  3. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix it up.
  4. Add the bread and toss it right away so all the pieces of bread get coated.
  5. Pour the bread onto a baking pan and shake it out so it is distributed around the pan evenly in one layer.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times throughout the baking so it doesn’t burn.
  7. Enjoy!

 

17th Century Italian Cucumber Salad

cucumber salad - trustinkim

I stumbled upon this recipe while searching for recipes to use the cucumbers that are growing in my garden. This blogger has a love for old recipes, and published this one, which is her version of a 17th century dish. She says it is “An interpretation of a dish described in Salvatore Massonio’s Archidipno overo dell’insalata e dell’vso di essa, published in Venice in 1627.”

It’s a really simple recipe, as are many of the best vegetable recipes. It should be prepared an hour or two before you plan to eat it.

I substituted sweet onion for regular, as I often do, and I peeled my cucumber because the peel on this variety is a little too bitter for me. In the original recipe the basil is added before refrigerating, but I like to add it at the end so that it retains its green colour. My version of the recipe is for two, and the measurements are approximate.

Please, please, please, don’t use dried basil for this recipe. It’s just not right. It really doesn’t taste like fresh basil. If you have no fresh basil, I’d opt to leave it out. You can freeze basil, so it retains the fresh flavour; if you use previously frozen basil in this salad it will be darker than fresh basil, but will still taste good.

After eating the salad I used the remaining dressing to pickle some cucamelons – these adorable little cucumbers that resemble a miniature watermelon. It was this summer’s garden experiment. The verdict? Cute, but I prefer a regular cucumber. The peel to inside ratio is a little high on the peel side.

cucamelon salad - trustinkim

What you need for two people:

  • 1 small cucumber or 1/2 an English cuke
  • a small chunk of an Onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
  • a few pinches of salt
  • a few grinds of fresh pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped

What you do:

  1. Combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl or large jar.
  2. Cut the cucumber in half, then slice it lengthwise. Slice as thinly as you can, using a mandoline if you have one. Cut the onion in half and slice it as thinly as you can. Place the cucumber and onion in the container with the dressing and toss it well so it’s all coated.
  3. Refrigerate for an hour or two.
  4. Before serving chop the basil finely and stir it in.

Enjoy!