Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Cauliflower, Jar of Relish, and Tomato Walk into a Bar...

Remember this post, when I mentioned my love of cauliflower sandwiches? Well, turns out, writing about shopping for cauliflower made me realize just how long it's been since I've made these sandwiches. Long ago, I used to make them once or twice a month. It even became a running joke when I used to work at TradeSource...the joke being, "Hey, Bethany, have you had any cauliflower sandwiches lately? Guffaw guffaw guffaw!" I, of course, had a laugh right along with them and always made it a point to tell my boss whenever I was having them for lunch. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? Secretly, I think he coveted my cauliflower sandwich as he microwaved yet another Lean Pocket for lunch :)

So...cauliflower sandwiches. Sounds weird, right? Well, of course it does! I can't deny that. And, yet, somehow, this somewhat bland crucifer becomes magically transformed into a filling, tangy, and and healthy sandwich spread. Who knew?!

First, I assembled the ingredients: a gigantic head of cauliflower, a jar of sweet pickle relish, Vegenaise, dijon mustard, and a couple of Roma tomatoes.

I washed the cauliflower and chopped it up into smallish chunks:

Then I added the cauliflower to a pot of boiling water and cooked for about 8 minutes or so, until soft but not mushy. I drained the water and then mashed it up right in the pan:

I mixed it up with some Vegenaise, dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, then I was ready to start the sandwich assembly line. First, toast your bread, then pile on a bunch of the cauliflower filling:

Now, the best part: slather on some sweet green pickle relish. Just trust me on this one.

Then top with a few slices of tomato:

Then top with the other slice of toast and eat! We had our sandwiches with salad. When my hubby came home from work and saw what we were having for dinner, he was very happy. No, really. We scarfed down our sandwiches and wondered why I hadn't made them in so long. My son, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with it and refused to even take a bite. Cauli-hater!

If you are feeling bold enough to try these sandwiches, the recipe can be found here. I just omit the optional onion slice and add pickle relish, because pickle relish is awesome.

This morning, I woke up and did the core synergistics P90X DVD. I haven't done this in quite a while and was definitely feeling the burn! After my workout, I decided a Chocolate Cherry Smoothie was in order, heavy on the protein powder (to build up my muscles, ha!). Guess what else is in there?

Can't see anything, can you? There's a HUGE leaf of raw kale in there, blended and blitzed into oblivion. Stealth nutrition! Kale is a nutrition powerhouse. I try to sneak as many raw greens into my diet as possible. If that means I have to hide them in my chocolate smoothies, then that's what I'll do, gosh darn it! With my Vita-Mix, you can't taste or detect the greens in my smoothies at all. That's why I love my Vita-Mix so much *swoon*

This morning, after music class, my son came home and ran right to his train table to play. I decided to see how much dinner prep I could get done while he was blissfully occupied. My menu plan called for a dinner I've made many times before, Polenta with Mushroom Ragout and a Wilted Spinach Salad with Marinated Onions in Mustard Seed Dressing, both from Ani Phyo's Ani's Raw Food Kitchen.

Now, the polenta recipe in the book is a raw recipe. You process a couple of ears of fresh corn along with some garlic, salt, pepper, cashews, lemon juice, and onion. It becomes a creamy, fresh-tasting bowl of corny goodness. However, you will not be finding fresh corn in Rhode Island during the first week of May. So, when I get the hankering for this dish in the cooler months, I simply make some cooked polenta and top it with the raw mushroom ragout. It's still really delicious and satisfying, and when it's fresh corn season, I enjoy the raw polenta.

The mushroom ragout (that's "rag-ooo", people, not "rag out," like I used to think) couldn't be toss some sliced mushrooms, olive oil, water, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and sea salt into a food processor:

...and process for a minute or so until it's smooth and creamy. This is the gravy base of the ragout.

Mmmm, looks like a chocolate smoothie!
Then you chop up some more baby bellas and a celery stalk, and add it to the gravy base along with some thyme:

Hmmm...looks kinda gross, but it tastes great! Stir everything together, and boom, your mushroom ragout is done. It took all of 10 minutes. Yay raw food!

The spinach salad is also ridiculously easy. Step one, throw a bunch of baby spinach in a large bowl:

Next, julienne a couple of carrots. Since I already had the food processor out, I just changed blades and let it do all the work. Easy peasy!

Add the carrots to the spinach. Next, thinly slice half an onion:

Add it to a small bowl, along with some apple cider vinegar, Bragg Liquid Aminos, and a little pepper:

Now watch what happens:

The vinegar and Braggs causes the onions to magically shrink! How cool is that!

Add the onions to the spinach and carrots. The last step is to make the dressing. I just reuse the same bowl because I'm lazy like that.

Stir together some agave nectar, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard seeds, and sea salt.

Now whisk. Done.

Pour the dressing on the salad, then toss. I like to use my mitts because isn't that a very Earth Mother, vegan kind of thing to do?

The dressing will cause the spinach to wilt and get nice and soft. That huge pile of spinach I started with will shrink down into a delectable bowl of salady goodness. Total prep time? About 10 minutes.

Why do I love raw food so much? Because I made almost an entire dinner (save the 10 minutes I will spend making polenta later tonight) in less than half an hour. And this is all I had to clean up:

A food processor, a bowl, a knife, a measuring cup, and a cutting board. No dirty pans, burned food, or other messes to deal with. And no, that's not my Toy Story plate in the dish drain.

At dinner time, all I had to do was whip up a pot of polenta and then plate the food. I gave myself so much spinach that it started to fall off the plate! LOL

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