Ottolenghi’s Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

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During the winter months, when my CSA is on hiatus for a short while I rely on root vegetables, and legumes. This carrot and mung bean salad is a delightful citrusy salad that is hearty and can certainly stand alone as a meal. Mung beans are indigenous to Central Asia, and have been used in various forms throughout the cuisines. It’s one of those beans that can be transformed into many different variations– noodles, starch, paste for dessert, sprouts and flour. It happens to be a bland tasting bean, but what’s wonderful about the mung bean is that it absorbs flavors very well, so the punch of lemon zest and olive oil marries well with the carrots.

Carrot and Mung Bean Salad
Adapted from Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi

Ingredients

2/3 cup dried mung beans (green)
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 large carrots, sliced into 1/4 inch thickness
a pinch of sugar
1 1/2 cups cilantro, finely chopped
lemon zest
small handful of feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Once boiling, pour in the mung beans, bring back to boil and then reduce heat to simmer until they are just barely done, about 20 minutes. Drain beans when cooked and set aside in a serving bowl. Immediately drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil, minced garlic, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes, and vinegar, while the beans are still hot. Mix gently.
  3. In a roasting pan, place the carrots, 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons of oil, and a pinch of sugar. Toss to coat, and roast in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, until the water has evaporated and the carrots are slightly caramelized.
  4. Add roasted carrots to the mung beans, and finish with cilantro, lemon zest, feta chunks, and salt and pepper to taste.

Moroccan Swiss Chard Carrot Salad

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It’s winter in New York. The weather has been vacillating between cold and colder or snow and slush. While yesterday was snowing, today it’s all being washed away with rainy slush. So I am home with a cold and I just want something easy to eat that will be fulfilling and yet wash out my system from this cold. That being said, at this time of year a lot of root vegetables are in. In particular, carrots and celery. Couple that with swiss chard and harissa (to burn out this cold) and a bright sprinkling of lemon and we have a medicinal dish.

According to Chinese medicine and basically all ancient food traditions, we should be eating to the seasons and during the colder seasons, increase the heat in our body. Makes sense. So this Swiss Chard & Carrot salad, which is not only delicious, has tons of garlic (which acts as an antibiotic) and harissa, which is a hot and spicy red pepper sauce that will dry out this cold. If you can’t find harissa, which is usually available at an ethnic supermarket, then replace it with hot sauce. Or you can purchase from my dear friend, Osi at Osi Living, here. You can be sure, it’s organic and made with the finest ingredients.

This recipe has been adapted from Wolfgang Puck’s contribution to The New York Times Passover Cookbook.  On these colder days, when you wrap a thick cardigan around your thick wool sweater, it’s the perfect recipe.

Yields 4 (as a side dish)

Ingredients
1∕3 cup olive oil
4 large cloves garlic, minced
6 thin long carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
2 ribs celery,
peeled and cut into small chunks
1 large bunch Swiss chard or spinach, ribs and leaves, sliced thin

Dressing
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon of Harissa (depending on your level of heat preference)
Freshly ground Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the half oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and sauté until just fragrant.
  2. Then add the celery and carrots. Cook until the carrots start to soften or sweat. Add the Swiss chard and cook an additional 10 minutes, until very reduced and very tender.
  3. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, and pour over the vegetables, mixing thoroughly. Serve Moroccan Swiss Chard Carrot Salad at room temperature.

Morrocan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

For the last two weeks, my CSA delivered baby carrots, so have been trying a few different recipes – from soups to salads. I came across a cookbook Roots, by Diane Morgan – catchy title that has so many insinuations, like back to the roots of cooking, and cooking with root vegetables.

This salad embodies what I love most about salads – quick, easy and the ingredients are available year round. I added a bit of my own variation from the original recipe, as really you can add anything to this salad and it’ll work. It’s that versatile. On the plate is a heady toast of cumin dressing over julienne carrots (which you can use the food processor to cut down on time) cooked chickpeas, little chunks of medjool dates, and some fresh mint to open the palate with slivered almonds to garnish.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

10 ounces carrots, julienne
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)
2/3 cup medjool dates, cut into chickpea-sized pieces
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
For serving: lots of toasted almond slices

  1. To make the dressing, first toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
  2. In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, chickpeas, dates, mint, and almonds. Gently toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (You can toss this salad, minus the almonds, hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.)

 

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

There are times, when not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes looks are really deceiving and I think that could be a good thing. If everything looked as it seemed there would be no mystery. Mystery is needed to seduce and to entice curiosity. That being said, let me address this picture before anything else. I wish I could blame the appearance of this meal on my lack of camera skills, or that it was having a bad “vegetable day” (Ha, Ha… ok I thought that was cute) however it’s just no beauty.

In spite of its less then stellar looks (poor thing) this peanuty coconut curry cauliflower dish tastes divine on a bed of brown basmati rice doused with raita, lemon slices, toasted slivered almonds, fresh or toasted coconut, raisins and sliced cucumbers. Shew…. Try saying that all in one breath. Pick your choice. This time around I chose coconut flakes.

This recipe comes originally from The New Moosewood Cookbook. I have modified some of the ingredients and recipe techniques to not only give it more protein and less carbs, (I do like to watch my figure;-) but to mimic authentic Indian cuisine. Sauteing the spices before the onions, creates the foundation for this dish and intensifies the flavors even more. And I definitely like intensity.

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

Serves 6

Ingredients
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Sea salt 
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, reserve some for garnish
1/2 cup lightly toasted peanuts
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup water (more, as needed)

1 large cauliflower, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into coin medallions
1 cup cooked chick peas
Juice of 1 lemon

Directions

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet and add the mustard seeds, turmeric, ground cloves, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper.  Once the mustard seeds start to pop,  (less than a minute) stir in the onions and salt. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, until onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  2. In the meantime, in a blender puree the peanuts, sesame seeds and shredded coconut with water. If it’s too thick, add more water. This should have the consistency of a thick paste.
  3. Then add cauliflower and carrot and mix well. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, then add the paste. Mix well. Cook, covered, over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, stirring every few minutes. Add more water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.
  4. Add the chick peas, and lemon juice, and cook a few more minutes. Taste to adjust salt, and serve hot, with rice and condiments.

Zucchini & Carrot with Tofu in a Coconut sauce

A few years ago, I went to Costa Rica’s Vista Del Valle (View of the Valley). It’s a lush self-sustaining hotel that grows its own produce, has an estuary, tropical birds and a butterfly garden pitched atop a mountain that is carved into the tropical forest. Below you will find some of the photos from our trip. The restaurant uses all the produce that grows in the forest, creating surprising dishes from Earth gifts. The head chef there served this dish to me from El Rosario, Costa Rica who graciously shared this simple and outstanding Zucchini & Carrot with Tofu in Coconut Sauce. I decided to post it now, because I just got some fall carrots from my CSA and had some zucchini to throw in. At the bottom of this post you will find directions on how to purchase tofu and make it taste outstanding.

Race Horses flown in from Spain
Outdoor restaurant overlooking the lush mountains. Even the tables are made from the trees that fall in the forest.

Zucchini & Carrot with Tofu in Coconut Sauce

Follow post to the bottom where I make suggestions on how to purchase and make tofu taste great.
Serve this dish over jasmine rice and garnish with some fresh basil for a beautiful presentation.

 Serves 4

 

Ingredients
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 (16 ounce) package of firm tofu, pressed and drained (click on link for directions) and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 medium onion
3 carrots, julienned
2 zucchinis, trimmed and julienned
½ cup Coconut Milk 
½ teaspoon red pepper
1-teaspoon sea salt
Brown Jasmine Rice or your favorite rice
, for serving
 
Directions
  1. Preheat that skillet over high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of oil. Spread over the surface of the pan. Pat the tofu dry one more time and put it in the skillet it in a single layer, with plenty of room around each piece. Don’t crowd the pan, or the heat will drop too much and the tofu will steam, not brown. You will probably need to do this in two batches if it’s too crowded. Cook on one side until it is deeply golden brown, then flip. If you are doing cubes, it becomes impractical to get all sides of every piece, so instead you’ll just toss them every minute or so and hope to get most of them.  When both sides are done, remove to a plate.
  2.  In the same skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, stirring and shaking the pan, for about 7 minutes or until it just begins to turn translucent. Add the carrots and sprinkle with salt so that the carrots will sweat. Cook, stirring often for 5 minutes. Then add the zucchini and stir to combine with all the other ingredients. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat and let simmer for another 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover the skillet, add the tofu to the vegetables and stir gently. Pour in the coconut milk and red pepper and stir to distribute evenly. You can add salt to taste if you like.
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Crispy Pan-Fried Tofu

 
I use this method in lots of recipes, and frequently for simple stir fry weeknight meals. It is easy to do, takes just minutes, and the results are far superior to simply cutting up cubes and throwing them in your stir-fry.Step 1: Buy Good Tofu. Find a store that moves a lot of tofu so you are getting the freshest tofu available. You want the stuff packed in a rectangular, water filled box (or maybe wrapped in plastic), in the refrigerator section, not the shelf-stable boxes. Choose an extra-firm tofu with the latest expiration date you can find. If you open it and smell more than a tiny whiff of sourness,  or it feels slimy, it isn’t going to be good.
Step 2: Dry Your Tofu. Open the package, drain out the water, and press it. You can follow another post I wrote I pressing tofu here. Cut the tofu into desired cubes or slabs. What we need to do is get the surface of your tofu dry so that it browns up on the skillet. Put down a clean dishtowel. Lay the tofu out in a single layer on said dish towel. Put another clean dishtowel on top and pat well, all over, to remove as much surface moisture as possible. It will also reduce dangerous and unpleasant sputtering when you put it in the skillet.

Step 3: Pan Fry Your Tofu. The optimum pan for this job is a cast iron skillet.  It holds a ton of heat, and develops a lovely non-sticking surface. You will cook this over very high heat, in a flat bottomed skillet because it allows the tofu to stay in contact with the hot surface for longer periods of time.

So: preheat that skillet over high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of a neutral vegetable oil that can tolerate a high smoke point, like sunflower oil or canola oil. Spread over the surface of the pan. Pat the tofu dry one more time and put it in the skillet it in a single layer, with plenty of room around each piece. Don’t crowd the pan, or the heat will drop too much and the tofu will steam, not brown. You will probably need to do this in two batches if it’s too crowded.
Cook on one side until it is deeply golden brown, then flip. If you are doing cubes, it becomes impractical to get all sides, so instead you’ll just toss them every minute or so and hope to get most of them.  When both sides are done, remove to a plate. Don’t add the vegetables and sauce on top of the tofu. It will ruin the crust. Instead, remove the tofu from the pan, do your vegetables, then add the tofu back just in time to marry with the sauce.

Quinoa and Broccoli with Japanese Carrot-Ginger Dressing

I was in an epicurean culture shock when I first arrived in Tokyo at the age of nine to visit my grandfather, who had lived there for some twenty years as a rare pearl dealer. My parents wanted to expose me to Japanese culture, which included sushi, but I was not a fan of raw fish wrapped in lettuce of the ocean. I still remember looking down the street at rows and rows of restaurants in the Roppongi neighborhood, the epicenter of Tokyo nightlife, and spying not one Western eatery. Finally I succumbed to a Japanese restaurant and we ordered a carrot ginger salad. That was my first introduction to this delightful Japanese condiment. Years later, I discovered from Good Housekeeping magazine that this dressing, typically served on lettuce greens, fuses well with the South America grain, quinoa.

To save on time and pots, you can steam the broccoli in a steamer basket on top of the bubbling quinoa in a rice cooker. While you wait for those two to cook, a food processor or blender makes quick work for the warm orange colored dressing that clings so well to the quinoa. The sharp flavor of the ginger is rounded out by the toasted nutty sesame oil and soy sauce, and mellowed by the sweet ground carrot. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets

Dressing
2 carrots, chopped
2inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into chunks
3-tablespoons vegetable oil
3-tablespoons rice vinegar
4-teaspoons gluten-free or regular soy sauce
3-teaspoons sesame oil
Directions
      1      Pour the quinoa into a sieve and rinse it under cold running water. In a saucepan, combine the quinoa, 3 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce the heat to low; cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl.
     2     Meanwhile, fill a medium-sized saucepan with enough water to come 2 inches from the bottom and set over medium-high heat.  Place the broccoli in a steamer basket, and when the water boils, set the steamer on top of the saucepan. Alternatively, place the broccoli directly into the nearly boiling water. Cook, covered, until the broccoli turns bright green and is crisp-tender. Add the broccoli to the quinoa.
      3      In a food processor, combine the carrot, ginger, oil, vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil and process until puréed. Add to the quinoa and broccoli and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Cook’s Note – Another alternative is to combine the quinoa with water and salt in a rice cooker and use the steam basket that comes with the rice cooker for the broccoli.

Raw Beet Salad with Carrot and Ginger (Vegan, Gluten Free)

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The sweet, earthy, and delightful crunchy salad is a powerhouse for flavor and nutrients. The lime awakens your palate to the gentle undertone of ginger that carries you away to the Far East. Beets, originally cultivated in the Mediterranean is available in my summer crop share of my CSA. A wonderful jeweled root vegetable, much like the carrot, just needs to be shredded to release it’s sweet flavor. What’s especially nice about this salad as well is that you can put it through the food processor for a quick salad. This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything who is an expert on getting the most flavors with the simplest ingredients.

Serves 4
Ingredients
1/2 pound small beets without their greens, peeled

1/2 pound carrots, peeled

2 large shallots, finely chopped

1 tablespoon minced ginger

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped


Dressing

2 tablespoons lime juice

1-tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard



Instructions

      1      Grate the beets and the carrots by hand or use a food processor fitted with a grating disk.

      2      Combine the grated beets and carrots with the shallots and ginger in a bowl.

      3      Season salad with salt and pepper.

      4      Whisk together the limejuice, oil and mustard in a small bowl and pour into salad.  Toss salad and taste seasonings. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

      5      Toss in the cilantro and serve.

Carrot Cake (Gluten Free, Vegan)

The key ingredients to this cake are the cinnamon and ginger, which add a warm welcoming spicy flavor. Especially delightful when served with vanilla ice cream, yoghurt or crème fraiche. This recipe is excerpted from Bob’s Red Mill Baking Book by John Ettinger and Bob’s Red Mill Family, 2007 and adapted into a gluten free and vegan version. The result is taste without compromise.
 
Serves 10
 
Ingredients
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
2/3 cup brown rice flour
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons unsalted vegan butter, softened
3 eggs, room temperature
2 cups carrots, grated
¼ cup crystallized ginger, minced
½ cup crushed walnuts, optional 

Directions
1 Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish,

     2 In a large bowl, sift the flours, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt.
     3 With a whisk, lightly beat together the oil and butter, then beat in the eggs. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and blend. Stir in the carrots, ginger and walnuts (optional).
     4 Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes, check if not done, bake at 5 minute intervals until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, invert onto a rack and cool.