August 31, 2012

Tofu, Broccoli & Pineapple Rice Bowl with Pineapple-Peanut Sauce


Happy long weekend! I can't believe it's already the last weekend of August, which to me pretty much equals the end of summer, since school starts back up next week. As a grad student, I don't really get to experience the whole "back to school" process anymore, since my program runs all year long, but I still get caught up in the excitement of all the students returning to campus and the feeling of a fresh new start!

But until Fall officially begins, I'm going to enjoy every last drop of summer that I can!  That means spending as much time outside in the sun as I can, and eating up the rest of summer produce.

It also means that I'm still focusing on tropical fruits like pineapple.  There was an amazing sale on pineapples at the market last weekend, so I bought one without any specific plans for it.  After eating some with my yogurt for breakfast, I came up with this tasty dinner recipe.



I love pairing pineapple with broccoli, and I had been wanting to make my own rice bowl after seeing this recipe on Babble. I thought that a spicy peanut sauce would go perfectly with my broccoli, pineapple and tofu combination, and then I remembered that I had bookmarked a recipe for a pineapple-peanut sauce, which sounded even more appropriate!

I kept the dish as simple as possible - all you need to do is blend up the sauce, prepare a serving of rice, and  cook the tofu and vegetables.  Then everything gets mixed together in a bowl, which you can add as much sauce as you like to - I always prefer having extra sauce on my dish, so I used the full amount!

This was an easy single-serving meal complete with fruit, veggies, protein, and carbs. I thought all of the components went so well together, and I especially loved the chewy tofu and the sweet-and-spicy sauce that had a hint of peanutty flavour!

I'm looking forward to more delicious summer meals enjoyed outside with my family this weekend. Hope you all enjoy the long weekend too!


Tofu, Broccoli & Pineapple Rice Bowl with Pineapple Peanut Sauce

~100 grams firm tofu
1/4 cup dry brown rice
1/2 tsp vegetable oil
1 cup diced broccoli
1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp cashews (toasted in a dry skillet if desired)
1-2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Pineapple Peanut Sauce
Adapted from Robin Robertson
1/4 cup chopped fresh pineapple
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
1/2 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
pinch of salt

Prepare the sauce by adding all ingredients to a blender and pureeing until smooth. 



Lay tofu between layers of paper towels and press under a heavy book for 15-30 minutes. When done, slice into cubes.

Cook the rice according to package directions.  When it is done, transfer to a bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the tofu pieces and sauté, turning occasionally, for 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned.  Remove and set aside.

Keep the pan heated and add the broccoli, pineapple, and water to the pan.  Cover with a lid and let steam for about 2 minutes, shaking the pan a couple of times to toss the broccoli around.

Remove lid and reduce heat to low.  Add the tofu to the pan and pour about half of the sauce over everything. Stir to mix and let cook for 1-2 minutes, until heated through. 

Pour the contents of the pan over the rice.  Top with the cashews and garnish with cilantro.

Heat the remaining sauce for about 10 seconds in the microwave.  Serve sauce on the side and stir in extra to the bowl if desired (I used all of mine!)

Makes 1 serving. 


August 27, 2012

Vegan Posole ( Mexican Hominy Soup)


A few months ago, I ordered a Mexican corn soup from a local cafe and I was surprised to see that the corn came as large, white, chewy kernels instead of the small, crunchy yellow corn I was used to. I later learned that the corn used in my soup was actually hominy, also known as white corn posole, made by removing the outer layers of corn kernels and drying them.  Then when I visited Zambia in July, I noticed the same type of corn appearing in many of the dishes, where it was called maize.

After tasting hominy in a few different ways, I really came to love its hearty, firm texture and I wanted to cook with it myself.  You can find cans of hominy in the grocery store, but rather than starting off with the canned variety, I decided to use the dried kernels.

The first recipe I made with my new ingredient was this soup called posole.  Mexican posole is traditionally made with hominy and meat, but I made a vegan version inspired by the soup I had at the cafe, and adapted from a recipe for tortilla soup that I found in Appetite for Reduction.  The cookbook recipe called for fresh corn and pinto beans, but I replaced both with an extra portion of hominy instead.

Along with the hominy, the soup is filled with onions, peppers and tomatoes, and flavoured with lime juice, cilantro, garlic and jalapeno.  I also added some cubed avocado at the end to bulk up the soup a bit more with a healthy fat. Finally, both the soup I had eaten at the cafe and the recipe in my cookbook included pieces of tortilla chips as a garnish. Since I didn't want to buy a whole bag of tortilla chips just for this recipe, I used broken up taco shells as a substitute.


As you can see,my tortillas/taco shells started to get soggy immediately after adding them to the hot soup, so I would suggest only adding them right when you want to eat, or leaving them out (personally I enjoyed my soup just as much without the tortillas, although I might have had a different opinion if I used actual tortilla chips, so I'll leave the option up to you!)

The big chewy kernels of corn were my favourite part of the soup, and I loved how hearty it was between the hominy and the avocado.  Even without the crisp tortilla strips that I was hoping for, there were still lots of textures going on that made this more like a chunky stew than just a soup.

For a non-vegan version, you could also try adding shredded cheese and sour cream as a garnish to make this more like a taco soup, but I liked it just fine without!

The only difficult part about this recipe is having to soak the hominy ahead of time, but as long as you plan ahead, the rest of the dish is pretty easy and doesn't take too long to put together. Or you could even skip the soaking step and just used canned hominy  - although I haven't tried that myself, so I can't vouch for the results!



Vegan Posole
Adapted from Appetite for Reduction

1 cup dry white corn posole (or 2 cups cooked hominy) - I used this brand
1 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 poblano or Cuban pepper, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt
28 oz can of whole tomatoes
28 oz vegetable stock
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for topping
Juice of 1 lime
1 avocado, diced
hot sauce to taste (optional)
About 1 cup broken up corn tortilla chips (I used broken hard taco shells instead)

Soak the dry posole/hominy in water for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Drain and add to a pot filled about two-thirds full with water.  Bring to a boil with a couple pinches of salt, reduce heat and simmer for 1.5-2 hours, until softened (if the water runs out partway through, add some more so the hominy doesn’t dry up).

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, jalapeno and poblano pepper and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and sauté one more minute.

Add the tomatoes to the pot, breaking them up with your hands as you put them in (I also cut some up further with a knife).  Fill the empty tomato can with vegetable stock and add to the pot.  Stir in the cumin.  Cover and bring to a boil. Add the cooked hominy and cilantro and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice.

To serve, ladle portions of soup into bowls and divide the avocado pieces among the bowls. Add a dash or two of hot sauce if you want more heat. Garnish each bowl with a handful of tortilla pieces and top with more cilantro.

Makes 4-6 servings.

August 23, 2012

Triple Layer Avocado Banana Carob Pudding


I've been known to experiment with some unusual or less common ingredients in my baking, like beets, daikon radish and chickpeas.  Sometimes these experiments turn out well (in the case of my raw beet cheesecake and chickpea granola bars) but other times they've sadly ended up in the garbage.

Another "abnormal" ingredient that I've been wanting to incorporate into a dessert for a while now is avocado.  I've seen many versions of avocado pudding around the blogosphere lately and I've been curious to try it, but a couple of factors have prevented me from making it so far:

1) Most of recipes I've seen are for chocolate pudding, and I'm not a big fan of chocolate desserts
2) I don't often make dessert just for myself and I wasn't sure how my family would feel about me serving them a pudding made with avocado for dessert!

But last week, I had a ripe avocado that I had no plans for, and I was craving a cool and creamy dessert, so I decided to go ahead and make my own single-serving version of avocado pudding.


Instead of making a one-dimensional chocolate pudding, I wanted to try different variations and flavours that I could layer on top of each other like a parfait.  I decided on a simple avocado-banana version with lemon as one flavour, and a carob version since I find carob a bit milder and sweeter than chocolate.  To separate the two avocado layers, I made a banana pudding with a bit of peanut butter, which I thought would go well with the carob and avocado.

This pudding actually came together really quickly and since I used frozen bananas, it was already thick and cold enough to eat without needing to chill in the fridge first (although you could still make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge until you're ready to eat it).

The texture was so smooth and creamy from the avocado, and I loved each of the flavours - both separately and combined!  I liked that the carob layer had a hint of chocolate flavour without being too rich, and I loved the burst of lemon and coconut in the top layer.  Finally, a garnish of shredded coconut and raw cacao nibs adds some welcome texture and crunch.

And in case you're worried about eating avocado for dessert, I actually thought it contributed more in terms of texture rather than flavour - I probably wouldn't have guessed it was made with avocado if I hadn't known!

Now that I've finally tried avocado pudding, I can't believe I waited so long!  I ate half of my "dessert" in the afternoon immediately after I photographed it and had to stop myself from eating it all at once because I wanted to save some for a second dessert later.  And I even think I could get away with serving this non-traditional vegan pudding to my family without any complaints!


Triple Layer Avocado Banana Carob Pudding

1.5 frozen small bananas
Half a ripe avocado
1/4 cup + 1-2 tbsp non-dairy coconut milk beverage (or almond milk)
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/2 tbsp carob powder
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp coconut extract (optional)
1/2 tbsp peanut butter
Shredded coconut and cacao nibs for topping

Place 1 small frozen banana and the avocado in a food processor. Add ¼ cup coconut milk and 1 tbsp agave and process until all chunks are broken down and mixture is smooth.

Divide mixture evenly into two small bowls.  Add carob powder to one bowl and whisk until incorporated. Add lemon juice and coconut extract to the other bowl and stir to mix. Place both bowls in the fridge while you prepare the other layer.

Rinse out the food processor and place the other half frozen banana in the small bowl of the food processor. Add 1-2 tbsp coconut milk beverage, 1/2 tsp agave and 1/2 tbsp peanut butter and process until smooth.  Place in the freezer to chill.

When ready to serve, layer each of the three mixtures into a parfait glass or bowl (I put the carob on the bottom, the banana in the middle, and the avocado-lemon on top).  Sprinkle with shredded coconut and cacao nibs if desired.  Serve cold.

Makes 1 large serving or 2 small servings.

August 19, 2012

Laotian Tofu Larb Lettuce Wraps


A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a new vegan cookbook that I've been enjoying - Blissful Bites.  When I first looked through the book, this recipe for Laotian larb was one that I skipped over without really stopping to see what it was. With a name that I had never heard of, plus no picture to show me what it was supposed to look like, it just didn't stand out as something I would want to make. And to be honest, something called "larb" didn't sound that appealing to me!

But when I re-read the book looking for recipes I wanted to try next, the ingredients in this recipe made me stop and think - hey, this actually sounds like something that I would love!  It was basically a cold tofu salad with lots of flavourful South-East Asian ingredients that I love to cook with.  Plus it sounded really easy to put together once all the ingredients were prepped!

Before going ahead and making the recipe, I did a bit more internet research on laotian larb and learned that traditionally, the dish is made with minced or ground meat, which can be raw or cooked, and flavoured with fresh herbs, fish sauce and lime juice.


This vegan version replaces the meat with crumbled tofu and the fish sauce with tamari. The recipe also included fresh veggies like shredded cabbage and carrots, and diced red pepper, and I decided to add some shelled edamame as well.

For the herbs, I used the cilantro that the recipe called for, and replaced the mint with Thai basil for more of an authentic flavour.  I also added a few other ingredients to enhance the flavour and spice of the salad, including shallots, garlic and jalapeno. Finally, I decided to brown the tofu in a skillet instead of steaming it, but you could probably just leave it uncooked and the salad would still be good!

After not really knowing what to expect with this dish, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it! It was light and fresh and the mix of textures and ingredients came together to create such a flavourful salad with the perfect amount of spice for my taste!  You could eat the salad on its own, but I served mine on top of cabbage leaves and rolled it up to eat it like a lettuce wrap.

I'm not sure how authentic my version of Laotian larb was, but all that mattered to me was that I discovered a new dish from a cuisine I hadn't tried before and loved it!


Laotian Tofu Larb Lettuce Wraps
Adapted from Blissful Bites and The Mistress of Spices

1 package (14 oz) firm tofu
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup finely diced red pepper
1/2 cup shelled edamame (thawed if frozen)
~5 leaves napa cabbage, shredded, plus more for serving
1 large carrot, shredded
1 jalapeno or other chile pepper, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp chopped thai basil (can substitute mint)
Juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup chopped peanuts
Cabbage or lettuce leaves for serving

Drain the tofu and crumble into pieces. 

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add the crumbled tofu and cook for another 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and transfer mixture to a large bowl.

Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl except for the peanuts and cabbage leaves and stir well to distribute ingredients evenly.  Place the bowl in the fridge to chill for 15-30 minutes.

When ready to serve, spoon large portions onto large cabbage leaves and sprinkle with chopped peanuts (or eat as a salad without the lettuce leaves). 

Makes about 4 servings (or more as an appetizer)

August 14, 2012

Warm Veggie Sausage & Potato Salad


One of the standard summertime meals that my mom would often make for us at least a few times every summer was her sausage and potato salad.  I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of gloopy potato salads that are coated in a thick mayonnaise-based dressing, and my mom's version was just the opposite - fresh and summery with green beans, diced potatoes and chopped sausages, tossed in a light mustard and vinegar dressing.

Since I became vegetarian, I've generally stayed away from "mock meat" products, including veggie dogs and veggie sausages.  Recently, however, my older sister (also a vegetarian) has been raving about the Field Roast brand of veggie sausages that come in an apple-sage flavour, so I was curious to try them out.

I can't get this particular brand anywhere locally, but on a recent trip across the border I was able to stop in at Whole Foods and spotted the sausages.  I was still a bit leery about buying them - not only were they a bit pricey, but I was also worried they would taste too much like meat and creep me out!  In the end, my sister convinced me they would be worth it, so I went ahead and got a package.

Rather than eating them on a bun, she recommended cutting the sausages up and eating them with roasted potatoes and salad.  That got me thinking back to my mom's sausage and potato salad, so I decided to make my own version!


For my potato salad, I steamed a few diced white potatoes, some green beans and mini mushrooms.  Along with the sauteed veggie sausages, I also added some diced tomatoes and fresh basil, and while everything was still warm, I tossed it in a delicious dressing made with whole grain mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic and shallots.  Finally, I laid the salad on top of a bed of spinach that I lightly coated in the dressing.

This was definitely not a boring potato salad! I loved the combination of tender potatoes and veggies with the juicy tomatoes and crumbled sausages. The sausages had an appealing sweet-and-savory flavour and a texture that was more nutty than meaty, so I wasn't too creeped out by them!

The tangy dressing was probably my favourite part of the salad.  I'm not usually a fan of dijon mustard, but I found the sharp flavour mellowed out when combined with the other ingredients, and I loved the whole grain texture.   Even though the recipe makes a bit of extra dressing, I still ended up using the whole amount because I liked it so much, and it helps to add the spinach to the salad to soak up some of the extra dressing.

This was a great summer dish that I think would be welcome at a picnic or potluck.  I would recommend serving it warm if possible, although I never actually tried it cold, so it might be just as good that way!  It's also easily adaptable for any type of diet - you can use veggie sausages or meat sausages, although I think meat eaters would still like the Field Roast brand!



Warm Veggie Sausage & Potato Salad
Inspired by my mom's potato salad, as well as recipes found here and here


1.5 lbs white potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
white wine for cooking (optional)
6 oz green beans
6 oz mini bella mushrooms
1.5 cups diced tomatoes (including seeds)
2 veggie sausages (I like Field Roast smoked apple sage flavour - use 3 sausages for a heavier portion)
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
4-5 cups spinach

Dressing
1.5 tbsp red wine vinegar
1.5 tbsp whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 shallot, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large pot. Place the diced potatoes in a steamer basket, insert steamer in the pot and cover. Steam potatoes over the boiling water for 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. 

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl.

When potatoes are done, remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with a bit of the dressing.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Cook the veggie sausages according to package directions (mine took about 5 minutes, turning often, until browned on all sides). Remove from heat and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, add a bit more water and a splash of white wine (if desired) to the pot that was used to steam the potatoes and return to a boil.  Place the beans and mushrooms in the steamer basket and steam, covered, for 4-5 minutes. Immediately plunge the beans and mushrooms into a bowl of cold ice water to stop them from cooking further.  Drain and add to the bowl with the potatoes.

Add the tomatoes and diced sausages to the bowl. Pour most of the dressing over top, leaving a bit behind to toss with the spinach.  Toss the salad to distribute the dressing.  Stir in the chopped basil and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve as is, or to serve over top of spinach: Take however many servings you would like of chopped spinach and toss with the remaining dressing.  Divide among plates and top each serving of spinach with a generous helping of the potato salad.  Serve warm.

Makes 3-4 main servings. 


August 09, 2012

Peach, Blueberry & Mint Cornmeal Cake


In my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to make a couple of recipes featuring fresh local blueberries that I picked up at the market.  After adding some of my blueberries to a fruity kale salad, I wanted to use the rest in some kind of baked treat.

When trying to choose a recipe, I went through some of my old saved bookmarks and came across a couple different recipes for peach cakes that I had wanted to make last summer but never got around to.  I decided that peaches and blueberries would make a great combination in a cake, so I combined two recipes from different blogs and added my own variations to come up with this vegan peach and blueberry cornmeal cake!

Each of the recipes called for adding a fresh herb to the cake - one used rosemary and the other used basil.  I liked the idea of adding another layer of flavour with fresh herbs, and since I had some mint leftover from my salad, I decided to use mint leaves in my cake.


I was nervous that the cake would turn out to be a disaster, but thankfully it turned out just as I was hoping! The cake itself was dense and moist, with a bit of crunchiness from the cornmeal that I really liked. Pretty much every bite was filled with juicy fruit, and I loved the combination of the sweet peaches with the blueberries.

I thought the mint added an interesting dimension too, but if you're not a fan of mint, you could easily leave it out and the cake would be just as delicious! Or you could try substituting the mint with another herb like basil.

If you like cornbread, I think you would love this cake - it's basically like a big piece of cornbread studded with summer fruits that you can eat as a dessert or even as a breakfast cake. I did reduce the amount of sugar because I figured with all the fresh fruit, I wouldn't want the cake itself to be too sweet, but if you have more of a sweet tooth, you might want to increase the sugar to make this more like a dessert.

Hopefully I'll be able to fit in a couple more peach and blueberry recipes before their season ends!


Vegan Peach, Blueberry & Mint Cornmeal Cake
Adapted from Bella Eats and deli-cute-essen

1.5 cups non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened coconut milk beverage)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup light spelt flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup organic cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cane sugar (could use 3/4-1 cup for a slightly sweeter cake)
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup peeled and diced ripe peaches
1 cup blueberries
1/3 cup fresh mint, julienned (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F and spray a 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray.

Stir together the non-dairy milk and apple cider vinegar and let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the dry ingredients (flours through to sugar) in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the olive oil, vanilla extract, and the milk-vinegar mixture.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and gently stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Fold in the peaches, blueberries and mint.

Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, until the top is slightly firm, the edges are starting to pull away from the pan, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out dry.

Let cool in the pan for about 5 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing. 

Makes one 9" cake 

*Note: I stored mine loosely covered in a large cake pan and it stayed good at room temperature for 2-3 days.  I don't recommend covering it with saran wrap as the cake will get very mushy. 

This was submitted to Wellness Weekend at Diet, Dessert & Dogs, and to Healthy Vegan Fridays

August 06, 2012

Blueberry-Jicama Kale Salad


Last weekend, I bought my first pint of local blueberries this summer from the farmers' market.  I don't usually consider blueberries to be one of my favourite fruits, but eating the local ones reminded me how sweet, juicy and flavourful they can be!

After eating some of my blueberries by the handful, I wanted to save the rest to use in a couple of recipes that I had planned.  One of those recipes was a fruity kale salad that I had marked in my new Blissful Bites cookbook from vegan chef Christy Morgan.  The recipe called for strawberries as the main fruit in the salad, but since strawberry season has pretty much ended, I thought blueberries would make a nice substitution and would pair well with the other salad ingredients.

The other main ingredient in the recipe was sliced jicama. Jicama - a Mexican root vegetable that tastes like a cross between an apple and a turnip - is one of my favourite ingredients to eat raw because it's so crisp and juicy. If you haven't tried jicama, I definitely recommend seeking it out at either your local market or an Asian grocery store!

I also added a few of my other favourite salad ingredients: cucumbers, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries.  To keep it from being boring or bland, the recipe also calls for fresh mint and flaked coconut, which I toasted first in a pan, and finally everything is tossed in a sweet maple and lime dressing.

This was such a fresh salad with both the crisp veggies and juicy berries. I thought all of the ingredients came together so well and the maple syrup in the dressing added just the right amount of sweetness. If you like raw kale, this is a nice way to dress it up with seasonal ingredients!


Blueberry-Jicama Kale Salad
Adapted from Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals That Nourish Mind, Body, and Planet

~2 cups chopped kale leaves
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp herbamare seasoning (can substitute with a pinch of salt if you don't have this)
1/2 cup jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1/4 cup diced cucumber
1/4 cup blueberries
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 tsbp fresh mint (about 5 leaves), chopped
1 tbsp large flaked coconut, toasted in a dry skillet if desired
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

Place the kale in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil, balsamic and herbamare.  Massage the leaves with your fingers for a couple minutes, until they are softened.  Add the jicama, cucumber and blueberries to the bowl.  Pour the lime juice and maple syrup over everything and toss to combine.

Stir in the mint, coconut, cranberries and seeds. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 1 large serving or 2-3 side salads.

-       

August 03, 2012

Giveaway Winner Announced!

Good morning!

I have just a quick post today, but a good one!  It's time to announce the winner of the first giveaway hosted by Vanilla & Spice.

First, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who entered Monday's giveaway for two packages of Navitas Naturals products.  I was happy to see both new and old readers leave comments and show their support!

I used random.org to choose a winner out of all the entries, and the lucky winner is comment #26, which belongs to Ericka H.!

Congratulations Ericka! If you could send me an email at gen@vanilla-and-spice.com with your mailing address, then I'll pass it on to the company so they can send out your prize as soon as possible!

Thanks again to Navitas Naturals for providing the prize, and hope you all have a great weekend!

August 02, 2012

Chilled Beet & Coconut Borscht


Before I get to today's recipe, I wanted to remind you that I have a giveaway running right now - If you missed Monday's post, head over to enter for a chance to win two packages of Navitas Naturals organic superfood snacks.  The giveaway is open until midnight tonight (Eastern time) and I will announce the winner tomorrow!

A couple of months ago, I headed to Chapters with a gift card in hand, ready to pick out a new cookbook for myself.  After going through the entire section of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, I finally decided on one that I actually hadn't heard about before: Ripe from Around Here, the second cookbook from Jae Steele.

The cookbook focuses on using local and organic ingredients as much as possible, and the recipes are categorized by season to make the most of fresh seasonal produce. There are so many recipes that I want to try, but the first one that I chose was her recipe for chilled borscht.


The recipe sounded pretty easy, since it didn't require cooking the beets. Instead, you simply grate raw beets and soak them in hot water, then add some other raw ingredients and let everything chill in the fridge.

I made a few changes to the recipe, including the addition of shallots, lemon juice, ginger and freshly grated coconut (if you don't have fresh coconut, you could try substituting dried unsweetened shredded coconut, but I can't guarantee how that will turn out because I haven't tested it!)  I also used light coconut milk as part of the liquid instead of almond milk, to add even more coconut flavour.

I loved how refreshing and cooling this soup was, and I liked having the texture of all the raw ingredients rather than pureeing everything into a smooth soup. I also thought the balance of flavours from the beets, coconut, dill and lemon was perfect, although they mellowed out after sitting in the fridge over the next few days.  So for the best and brightest flavours, I would recommend eating this on the day you make it, or you can always add a new squeeze of lemon juice to your leftovers!

I've been wanting to make a borscht soup for a while now, and this chilled version was perfect for summer! If you love beets as much as I do, then I'm sure you'll love this soup too!
  
-          


Chilled Beet & Coconut Borscht
Adapted from Ripe from Around Here 

2 large beets (about 3 inches diameter)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp agave nectar (or another liquid sweetener)
1.5 cups boiled water
1/2 a shallot, minced
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1/2 a cucumber
1/4 cup freshly grated coconut (optional)
1 cup light coconut milk
Dash of ginger
1-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
Plain yogurt for serving (optional)

Peel the beets and grate them using a hand grater or a food processor. Place the grated beets, sea salt and agave in a large bowl and pour the boiled water over them. Cover with saran wrap for 5 minutes. Add the shallot, green onion and dill and cover again. Place in the fridge to chill for 30-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and grate the cucumber and fresh coconut (I used my food processor to do this). When ready to serve, stir in the cucumber, coconut, coconut milk, ginger and lemon juice. Season with pepper to taste and serve with plain yogurt if desired (I liked it both with and without yogurt).

Makes 4-6 servings.

-        

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