Tag Archives: vegan

Kale Salad

i’m eating leftover kale as a snack RIGHT NOW.

I have a lot of flaws.  I’m impatient, competitive and sometimes I listen to the same song 4235 times in a row.  I quote Liz Lemon and wait to see if anyone notices, I yell at pedestrians for crossing where there’s no crosswalk and do EXACTLY the same thing myself, I cheat at cards and I would agree to watch a documentary only if I was also reading a book.  I am 28 years old and still make fart jokes, I eat mini marshmallows straight from the bag and I never listen to my voicemail.

But!  I also eat a shitload of kale, so I figure it all balances out.

Realistically, I eat this salad 2-3 times a week.  Because I LOVE it.  People I’ve made it for have scoffed, heartily, at this salad, because technically the kale is raw.  But they have all been turned by the power of kale salad.  Once, a 7 year old ate this salad voluntarily.  I dress this salad in one of three ways: sesame-soy dressing, lemon-parmesan dressing, or garlic-tahini dressing.  Any of the three will change your life.  Additionally, you get to enjoy the smug sense of superiority you can only get from eating something REALLY healthy.  Later, when you eat french fries while drinking a beer in a bar, you can say to everyone in shouting distance “IT’S FINE, I ATE A LOT OF RAW KALE EARLIER.”  Everyone will really appreciate it.

The main drawback to this salad is that it’s about 100% more labor intensive than I like cooking to be.  You have to wash the kale (it’s a sandy vegetable), rip out the bitter, overly cruciferous spines, rip up the leaves, massage the lot with salt, then rinse all the salt off, then wring it out, then dress it.  It’s like a 20 minute process.  But it’s worth it.  I had the best run of my life after having had coffee, 4 gallons of water and kale salad.  It’s magic.  (I also just realized this salad is vegan the only way food is acceptably vegan: accidentally.)  Because I haven’t written a blog post in 7 years, I’m going to give you all three dressing recipes.  You’re welcome.

Kale Salad

2 bunches of kale (I make two bunches for only myself.  If you’re making it for guests, probably go 3-4.)

2 tablespoons or so of kosher salt

Dressing of choice*

put on some usher or something while you’re washing, it’s gonna be awhile.

So basically, the salt cooks the kale a little.  It wilts the leaves, takes away the bitterness and shrinks it.  So!  You wash the kale leaves very well (sandy!), rip out the spines of the leaves, and rip up the leaves.  Put all the ripped up leaves in a big bowl.

When you’ve washed and ripped all the kale (approximately 2 months after starting the process), sprinkle about a couple teaspoons or so of kosher salt all over the kale.  Don’t be afraid of saltiness, because you’re going to rinse all the salt off later.  Massage the salt into the kale for 2 minutes.  If possible, draft someone else to do the massaging, because why not!

this picture is actually from when i was in denver a couple months ago and made kale salad for sue. she also now eats it multiple times a week.

After massaging, you can let the kale sit for awhile, kind of marinating in the salt, if you like your kale really wilted.  If not, rinse the salt off right after the massaging and the kale will be more crunchy and bouncy.  When you’re ready to rinse it off, put all the kale in a colander and rinse it very well.

too salty kale is tragic.

If you do a bad job, the kale will be too salty and everyone will cry.  So rinse it well.  Then, take it in handfuls and squeeze out all the excess water, putting the kale back into the big bowl.  Then dress it and try not to eat it all while you make the rest of dinner.

*Dressing options:

Soy-sesame – My favorite.  2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons rice vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, black pepper.  If you have sweet Thai chili sauce, put a couple teaspoons of that in there too.

Lemon-parmesan – juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 cup or so fresh parmesan, salt and pepper.

Garlic-tahini – 1-2 cloves garlic, zested on a microplane, juice of 1 lemon, 3 tablespoons of tahini paste, salt and pepper.  In the interest of being honest, I will admit that I copied this recipe from a kale salad they have at Whole Foods in the pre-made salad section, which I eat when I am lazy.

– Cat

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Filed under Dressings, Salad, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Baba Ghanoush, Baba Ghannouj, Baba Ghanoug, Babaghannoush

All words for the same wonderful, perfect, delicious smoky dip.

I like hummus.  I really do.  I think it’s nice.  Hummus is like an ex-boyfriend who has a perfect driving record and is a big fan of Third Eye Blind.  You really thought you liked him at the time;  it was all healthy and chickpea-y, was easy to bring to work in a little tupperware container and went well with baby carrots.  Baba ghanoush is like a mysterious stranger that seduces you from the mezze menu and takes you on exciting weekend excursions out of town on its motorcycle and recites little poems, which might be Baudelaire if you knew more about poetry, but could also be originals.

The point is, baba ghanoush is sexier than hummus, by 1000%.  Hummus is Bill Compton, baba ghanoush is Eric Northman.  If hummus is Jack Hodgins, baba ghanoush is Seely Booth.  If hummus is the lead singer that everyone finds adorable, baba ghanoush is the brooding, quiet bass player.  You get what I’m saying.

Baba ghanoush is exactly the same thing as hummus, but instead of chickpeas as the base, it has roasted or grilled eggplant.  If you think you don’t like eggplant (because I, for one, do not like eggplant), don’t let that put you off baba ghanoush.  A weird alchemy happens to eggplant when you roast or grill it.  It stops being a purple, weird shaped thing that tastes and feels exactly like a dish sponge, and starts being a smoky, lightly sweet and totally unique substance that is crying out for you to enjoy with some pita bread.  I don’t have a grill (yet), so I roasted mine in the oven, and for good measure kept a few pieces of the blackened skin when I processed it to make sure the smoke flavor was imparted to the dip.  I watched 6 people (myself included) devour the whole bowl of baba ghanoush in about 4.5 minutes, so it must have worked.

Baba ghanoush

2-4 smallish – medium eggplants (I like a smaller eggplant as I think they are less bitter than larger ones.  I used 2 medium eggplants this time, and it made probably 3 cups of baba ghanoush.  Next time, I will use 400 eggplants, because I never want to stop having baba ghanoush.)

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp tahini (Tahini is sesame paste, they should have it in a jar in the mediterranean section of your grocery store.  If they don’t, you need to find a new grocery store.  You may have this in your fridge already, if you ever make hummus at home.)

Juice of 2 lemons

2-3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Method:

Turn your broiler on high.  Cover a cookie sheet (rimmed) with foil, and prick your eggplants all over with a fork.

eggplants are weird.

If you don’t, they will explode, which sounds awesome, but makes an absurd mess.  Put the eggplants on the sheet under the broiler for about 30-40 minutes, turning every 10 minutes or so to make sure it’s blackening evenly.  The eggplants will deflate slowly like a balloon, and start to look really sad and weird, as the juices run out.   When the eggplants are soft all the way around, remove them from the oven and let them cool to room temperature.

this picture is horrible and not clear, but you can kind of see how soft the eggplants are.

Prepare a colander in the sink.  Strip the skin off the eggplants (no need to be super picky about this, some skin is okay, I’d say if you remove 90% that’s fine) and put the flesh in the colander.  Squeeze the flesh against the holes of the colander to remove all the liquid you can.  A lot will seep out.

When most of the liquid is removed, put the flesh into a food processor with the other ingredients.  Pulse until smooth and serve.  Enjoy total adulation.

mmmm dip.

– Cat

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Filed under Appetizers, Recipes, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Thin Crust Pizza

So I have this vegan friend who was coming over for dinner. What do you make for a vegan??? And by that I mean how you make something that is delicious for a vegan and not just steam them vegetables.  I  just bought a new cast iron pizza pan, so I decided to make grilled pizza.

Now, for a little history on myself and pizza making. Growing up, my mom used to teach in-home classes on how to make pizza. So I have learned from someone who really knows what she’s doing, and I have also made pizza dough a lot in my lifetime. My mom has a perfect classic pizza dough recipe (which I will share with you at some point in the future) but I have been working on perfecting my thin crust and my deep dish (Chicago-style: flaky, crusty deliciousness).

Today’s pizza is thin crust pizza, and I’ll tell you why. Vegetables have a lot of moisture in them, and I thought the crispiness of the thin crust would be better to stand up against that. Plus I was grilling the pizza (that’s right, and it is as delicious as it sounds).

Well let’s get right into the dough, since that’s what this post is really about:

Ingredients:

¾ cup warm water

1 tsp rapid rise yeast

½ tsp sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour (or better, bread flour if you can get it)

½ tsp salt

Method:

Fill a glass measuring cup ¾ full with warm water. The “warm” part is very important. Specifically you want the water to be 110 degrees.  My mom always taught me to stick my pinky finger into the water (it’s more sensitive or something?) and if the water felt warm but not hot it should be perfect. You shouldn’t have to boil or microwave the water, letting the faucet run on hot should do.  If the water is too hot it will kill the yeast, causing whatever kind of bread you are making not to rise. These days yeast is much more fool-proof than it used to be, but I have rarely had a pizza crust fail, so I’ll stick to what I know works.

Next add the sugar and the yeast to the warm water and gently whisk with a fork to incorporate. Set the mixture aside.

For this next step if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook I would recommend using it, it yields a very smooth, elastic dough. I, however, do not. So this is the by-the-hand method. Sift the flour and the salt together into a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the middle. Now take a look at your yeast mixture, there should be a thin layer of light brown froth on the top, this means the yeast is working. This is called proofing. If that layer of froth isn’t there, your dough isn’t going to rise and will  make a really dense chewy pizza crust (yuck).  Pour the mixture into the center of the well and then get your hands into the dough and start mixing. Incorporate as much of the flour into the dough while still in the bowl as possible, then pour the contents out onto a clean surface and start kneading it.  To knead dough, you want to press down and forward with the heels of your hands. As you are kneading, most of the flour should work its way into the dough, you may even need to sprinkle on a bit more, you want it to be smooth and not too sticky. Once the dough has come together (meaning it has formed a pretty solid ball) you need to knead it for about 3 more minutes. It should look something like this when it’s done.

Find a clean medium sized bowl and drizzle about 2 teaspoons of olive oil into it, put the dough ball into the bowl and toss to coat it in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and put it somewhere warm to rise (dough likes warm places). Let the dough rise for about an hour. Thin crust pizza dough is one of the few kinds of breads that doesn’t need as long a rise time. You could probably even get away with just half an hour, you just need enough time for the dough to rest and for the yeast to work with the gluten in the flour. When you uncover the dough, it should look as if it has grown slightly, it may spread, it may get bigger, either is fine. You will notice a yeast smell, and that’s how you know it’s going to be delicious.

There are many ways to form the dough, you can use a rolling pin or your hands. Since I was making a grilled pizza on a cast iron pizza pan I stretched the dough with the hands and then stretched it to the shape of the pizza pan.  When you start working with the dough you want to flatten it slightly into more of a disc shape and the work your hands around the edge like you are turning the wheel of a car. Once you have stretched it out place it onto whatever surface you will be cooking it on (i.e. a pizza peel/ cookie sheet with parchment paper on it, or a pizza pan, etc) and use your fingers to push out the edges. It will spring back slightly, that’s a good thing, it should have some elasticity.

Top the pizza with whatever you would like and bake it at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the crust is slightly browned and the cheese (if you are using it) is bubbly.

For my vegan (ok, mostly vegan, I put cheese on half) pizza, I topped it with: homemade pesto (basil, garlic, pine nuts and olive oil- I omitted the parmesan cheese to make it vegan) roasted tomatoes, roasted zucchini and summer squash, caramelized onions (which I caramelized in olive oil instead of butter), artichokes,  and arugula (which I put on top about a minute before I took it off the grill so it would wilt slightly) …..and on half the pizza, I put a sprinkle of mozzarella and a bit of asiago (don’t judge, I love cheese).

The crust turned out beautifully, it was crisp on the outside but slightly tender on the inside, and it didn’t sag under the vegetables one bit. My vegan friend said it was the best vegan pizza she ever ate, and the meat eating boyfriend even liked it. That’s a win win in my book.

More pizza recipes to come!

-Sue

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Filed under Bread, Recipes, Vegetarian