Friday, April 27, 2012

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Salad with Pomegranate-Peanut Dressing

The more I cook, the more confident and relaxed I get about cooking. I used to follow recipes to the letter, hesitant to ever deviate from the instructions or ingredients. I just lacked the confidence or knowledge to improvise or make intelligent substitutions. Now that I have several years of cooking under my belt, I am much more comfortable making changes on the fly and substituting ingredients when necessary.

Such was the case when I made the Sweet Potato and Broccoli Salad with Pomegranate-Peanut Dressing from 1000 Vegan Recipes. The original recipe calls for cooked sweet potatoes, celery, green onions, ginger, lemon juice, fresh broccoli, peanut butter, roasted peanuts, and fresh pomegranate seeds. I wanted to make a few healthier switches, swapping almond butter and sliced almonds for the peanut butter and roasted peanuts, and maple syrup for the sugar. I also did not have fresh pomegranate seeds or fresh broccoli, so I used dried cranberries and frozen broccoli. I also cut the amount of oil in the recipe from 4 tablespoons to 2 tablespoons, and added a bed of fresh baby arugula for some greens. I stayed true to the spirit of the recipe, but I customized it to my own personal tastes and supplies. That, I think, is the way to cook!

This salad with filling, nutritious, and most importantly, tasty! It was even better the next day after the flavors married a bit. Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try some substitutions, because it will help you become a more confident cook!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tempeh Tickle, Lemon Dijon Green Beans, and Salad

I'm a huge fan of Dreena Burton and her cookbooks. I've made over 80 recipes from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, and I found her baby/toddler nutrition guide in Vive Le Vegan to be immensely helpful when starting my son on solid foods. Naturally, I was super excited when her newest cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan, arrived in the mail recently. There are 200 recipes in this book, and there are many that I am very excited to try. However, tempeh-lover that I am, I was immediately drawn to her recipe for Tempeh Tickle:

Tempeh is marinated in white wine, tamari, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, oregano, and garlic, then pan-grilled to perfection. Look at those grill marks - yum!

To accompany the tempeh, I made another recipe from the book, Lemon Dijon Green Beans:

Fresh green beans are briefly cooked, then tossed with fresh lemon juice, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, garlic, and tarragon. They are wonderfully crisp-tender and packed with flavor, not to mention, incredibly easy to make!

Finally, I rounded out the meal with a new salad from 1000 Vegan Recipes, Baby Greens with Pear, Pecans, and Ginger Dressing.

Baby romaine, celery, toasted pecans, and diced pear are combined with a fresh dressing made with sherry vinegar, olive oil, shallot, grated ginger, agave, and assorted spices. My hubby and I both love ginger and thought this was very, very good!

This was a hearty, satisfying meal that was enjoyed by all.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu

I'm sorry I've been neglecting my blog, dear friends! I must confess, I've been devoting my usual blogging time to other pursuits in the last month: reading The Hunger Games trilogy; visiting my parents in Florida; doing a Bible Study; watching an insane amount of Ryan Gosling movies; and joining The Providence French Language Meetup Group so I can practice my French. I've also been enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we've been having, going on walks and hikes with my hubby and son. 

Nevertheless, I have been cooking and enjoying some new recipes. I've been especially keen to try more new recipes out of my favorite cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. Although I'd already made nearly all the salad recipes in the book, there was one I hadn't yet tried, the Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salad with Grilled Tofu.

This salad is fresh and light, perfect for those hot days of summer (and spring, here in the Northeast!) Cucumbers, red onion, string beans, greens, and fresh mint are tossed with cooked-and-cooled rice vermicelli noodles, grilled tofu, and a peanut-mint gremolata. The gremolata is simply chopped peanuts, chopped fresh mint, and lime zest:

The salad is tossed with a lime-spiked chili garlic sauce, giving the dish a nice punch of heat. This dish was really easy to put together and my hubby especially enjoyed it. I can see myself making it again!