Plant-Based Proteins

As mentioned, protein is something I worry about. Being gluten free, I no longer get benefit of the protein in whole wheat, though I have, as mentioned, added in other gluten-free whole grains. My tendency in the past was to head straight for the carbs. And while I *do* sometimes retreat to my comfort foods, I have become a voracious vegetable consumer (sorry mom!). In swapping one food for another, I find that I have to remember to add protein to my meals. Continue reading “Plant-Based Proteins”

Meatless Month, Revisited

So, the husband and I survived my Meatless Month experiment, and, I think he’ll agree, it went much better than expected. I want to offer up some thoughts, and, of course, focus on some of the successes (including the recipes that really worked!). Continue reading “Meatless Month, Revisited”

Strawberry, Kale, and Buckwheat Salad

This salad is great for parties, weeknight meals, or hot summer evenings. Buckwheat adds great flavor, especially since it’s dressed in a lemony sauce. I love that the whole thing is on the table in under thirty minutes — while the buckwheat cooks, you can prepare the strawberries.

I make this salad without cheese for a vegan option. If you like cheese — and it will add a salty component to the dish — ricotta is great. Feta works. Even blue cheeses are lovely. I also love to add toasted nuts or seeds, like pumpkin, to the dish for some crunch.

Note: start testing the buckwheat for doneness about twelve minutes into the simmer. You want the grains to be firm, not mushy. That way they hold their shape and add texture to this salad.

Wilted Kale Salad with Vinaigrette and Preserved Lemons

I love kale. Of course, I love all leafy greens…give me chard, and I’m yours for life! I have a friend who makes an amazing kale salad with a pucker-your-mouth lemon vinaigrette. You know the dressing is intense when I think the amount of lemon is just, exactly, perfectly right.

Her salad inspired mine. I wilted the kale so it wasn’t so tough. Then I made a light vinaigrette to complement the kale. Finally, because lemon and kale are perfect together, I added a bit of preserved lemon. The salty, lemony flavor makes this dish!

Falafel

Is there a better food than falafel? No, I say, there is not. Except maybe mashed potatoes. It’s a close call.

Finding gluten-free falafel out in the wild is hard. Making it at home is so easy, you won’t miss going out for this wonderful food at all. As a bonus, falafel makes a great vegan option for those times you need one.

One huge note, that I’ll repeat in the Notes section as well: do not use canned chickpeas when making falafel. They have absorbed too much liquid in the can, and will create a heavy, less fluffy falafel. You will thank yourself for soaking your garbanzo beans the old-fashioned way!

More Roasted Veggies

As noted in my recipe for Roasted Carrots, I roast almost all of my vegetables. They simply taste better that way. There are two keys to roasting vegetables: high heat and evenly sized vegetables.

Oh, and some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Everything else is just a variation on the theme.

Also, don’t crowd your vegetables, and make sure as much of the vegetable as possible is touching the pan. It’s that contact with the heat that matters. Here are a few more tips on roasting vegetables.

If I’m using my oven to roast veggies, I cook in the upper third of my oven and turn once or twice during the cooking process. If I’m using the grill, I keep an eye on the vegetables to ensure even browning (versus, you know, burning). You want to achieve a nice level of caramelization — a deep golden brown shade.

How to Roast

  1. Preheat your oven or grill to 425 degrees.
  2. Make sure your vegetables are about the same size.
  3. Toss with olive oil (a few tablespoons usually does the trick)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Other herbs and spices can be used as well.
  5. Cook for approximately 30 minutes, or until you have a good number of caramelized spots. Turn once or twice during the cooking process if necessary. Different veggies cook at different times, so pay attention!
  6. Eat!

So what can you roast? Read on, my friends, read on. This is, obviously, not a complete list…use your imagination.

  • Asparagus. Break off the woody ends, otherwise leave whole. If you’re adding to a pasta, you can cut into smaller pieces, then roast. Asparagus cooks pretty fast, so check at the fifteen minute mark.
  • Bell peppers. Cut into strips and roast.
  • Broccoli. I love roasted broccoli. Cut into 1 − 1 1/2 inch florets. The ends will get very brown, but that’s a good thing. You can also roast the stems. 
  • Cauliflower. Oh, roasted cauliflower is especially good (and use the leftovers as the basis for a great soup; or just, you know, roast the cauliflower for the soup). Cut into 1 − 1 1/2 inch pieces. Or make roasted cauliflower “steaks”: cut the head of cauliflower into 1/2 inch thick slices, brush olive oil onto both sides, add salt and pepper, and roast, turning once. Yummy!
  • Parsnips. Roast like carrots — diagonal chunks or whole (cut in half if the parsnips are especially thick).
  • Sweet Potatoes. Cut into 1-inch chunks, and serve as a meal or make part of a great sweet potato salad. You’re welcome.
  • Turnips. Cut into 1-inch chunks and discover what you’ve been missing all these years.
  • Zucchini. I usually cut my zucchini in half or quarters (lengthwise) and roast away.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Some years, the butternut squash never seems to stop coming. Sure, it makes for excellent soups, but even I can only eat so much of the stuff. And since I love roasted veggies, it only makes sense that a roasted butternut squash dish is in my repertoire.

I’ve served this as a side at dinner and as an appetizer at parties. I’ve also witnessed my husband snatching cubes of squash from the baking sheet while I’m busy with other tasks. Of course, I’m guilty of the same crime, so I can’t complain.