Thursday, March 29, 2012

Artichoke Linguini, Arugula Salad and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Banana Nice Cream

Last night I had my two girlfriends over for dinner, Maureen and Honieh. It was lovely company and luckily they both enjoyed dinner. I love having them over because they are not picky eaters and open to try just about anything I make, even if it sounds wacky.


I've been pretty busy with work and life that I was very close to telling everyone we're ordering in food for dinner. Just my luck that my friend Tracy demoed this delicious and super easy recipe at work for Linguine with Spinach, Artichokes, and Red Lentil Sauce. I thought it would be perfect for my lack of time and energy. Of course I adapted the recipe slightly, but the first addition I made almost choked Maureen and Myself to death... I thought adding some red chili flakes to the toasted mustard seeds would add a nice kick of spice - but toasting the chili flakes was a bad idea. The oils of the chilies released all over the air of my kitchen and I could not stop coughing. When I went to answer the door to let Maureen in, she started choking once she walked in. We went on just communicating in coughs, and laughed at each other until the oils in the air dissipated. Moral of the story, don't toast your chilies without a face mask.



Before my main course, I served a light Arugula and Baby Heirloom Tomato Salad with Meyer Lemon Tahini Dressing. I love arugula, it's probably my favorite salad green. It's super light with a natural lemony flavor and spicy bite.





 I figured since I was saving some time on the main course, that I could make a dessert. I made Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Banana Nice Cream.






It was a lovely and delicious night :)


Linguine With Spinach, Artichokes, And Red Lentil Sauce
Recipe at www.wholefoodsmarket.com
I added 1 tsp red chili flakes, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, and used brown rice linguine noodles.

Arugula and Baby Heirloom Tomato Salad with Meyer Lemon Tahini Dressing 
By Sarah Farsh, March 28 2012
  • 1 bag arugula
  • 2 cups baby heirloom tomatoes or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 2 tbsp sesame tahini
  • juice of 2 meyer lemons
  • 1 tsp miso paste
In a large bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice and miso paste. Add in arugula and tomatoes, toss well.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
By Sarah Farsh, March 28 2012


Crust (click for video)
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp pressed dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
Filling:
  • 1 lb frozen or fresh strawberries
  • 1/2 cup rhubarb, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 tsp corn starch
  • drizzle of honey to taste (or maple syrup)
Preheat oven to 350. In VitaMix or high powered blender, blend crust ingredients until consistency resembles a paste. Spread almond paste out onto tart or pie pan, making sure to cover all sides well. Bake crust for 20min. Add strawberries, rubarb, corn starch and honey into pie crust. Bake for additional 35min on 350.

Banana Nice Cream
By Sarah Farsh, March 28 2012
  • 5 frozen bananas
  • 2 cups soy milk or non dairy milk of choice
  • 3 tbsp honey (more or less to taste, or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
In VitaMix, blend all ingredients together using the plunger that comes with the machine. This allows the air to blend in which gives this a whipped consistency very similar to frozen yogurt. I'm not sure that this recipe will work on regular blenders... But if you try let me know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

101 Wednesdays: Dry Sauté Without Oil

So this is my very first cooking video, I'm not thrilled with it and I promise to get better with them in the future. I'm a little camera shy, poor Zach had to film at least a dozen takes. If it wasn't for his encouragement, I would have given up on the first try.

I plan to make a short video every Wednesday for something I'd like to call "101 Wednesdays". I realize I use a lot of words and techniques in my recipes loosely that you may not understand. So, the point of these videos are to explain some of my very basic cooking techniques - things like dry sauteing, how to cook a squash, how to chiffonade kale and so on. I'd love to hear from you and find out what questions you may have so that I can cover as much as possible.

This idea was inspired and motivated by my dear friend Gerry. I hope I don't disappoint him. 

The point of this video today, dry sauteing and cooking without oil, is to show you how easy it is to cook your vegetables without the use of oil. People are so used to loading up their pan with oil before even adding their ingredients, which adds a bunch of unnecessary calories from fat. You can still get full flavor by sauteing your vegetables without oil. If you feel like you really can't do without oil, or are starting out by taking baby steps with this healthy eating lifestyle, I would recommend using a finishing oil after you cook your food. Measure your oil so you know how much calories your intaking. Eventually, you can start phasing out the oil after you find it's simply not necessary. Vegetables and the seasoning you use will produce enough natural flavors on their own that you won't need the excess oil at all. *I got a little nervous towards the end of the video and poured a wee bit too much water on my onions. You don't need to add that much water... the water is just to help deglaze your pan and loosen up the veggies a little if they start sticking. 1 - 2 tbsp of water should be enough.



Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coconut Lemon Tart

Last night I had plans to visit my two friends Jen and Reagan for a small get together. I felt like bringing something sweet so I thought to celebrate spring, a coconut lemon tart would be a refreshing treat.


I had originally made the filling as a pudding when Zach and I were visiting VT, I knew it would make a perfect tart filling. If you don't have a tart pan, I would recommend getting yourself one that has a removable bottom like this one. You don't have to always use your tart pan to make dessert, I've used mine to make things like vegetable vegan quiche and potato gratin. It's a great investment and makes simple recipes look fancy and special.

To make the crust, I used raw almonds and dates. At my local Middle Eastern supermarket, I found this product called Baking Dates. It's just pitted pressed dates, perfect for cooking with. Of course you can pit and press your own dates, but this would save you a lot of time.





After I made my tart, I brought it with me to Regan and Jen's place. Luckily, it made it across the bridge in one piece. We had a great night eating tart, watching a movie and painting our nails. We each had a slice of tart for dinner and then another for dessert.




Coconut Lemon Tart
by Sarah Farsh March 25, 2012


      Crust (click for video):
  • 2 cups raw almonds
  • 3 tbsp pressed dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
     Filling:
  • 4 cups unsweetened soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
  • zest of 1 meyer lemon (or conventional lemon)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 cup pure coconut flakes (dried)
Preheat oven to 350. In VitaMix or high powered blender, blend crust ingredients until consistency resembles a paste. Spread almond paste out onto tart pan, making sure to cover the sides well. Bake tart crust for 20min and let cool.

In a pot over medium heat, cook soy milk, lemon zest, maple syrup, vanilla and coconut flakes. Stirring occasionally. In a small bowl, mix corns starch with 3 tbsp water. mix until corn starch dissolves into water. Once the mixture on the stove starts to boil, slowly add in the corn starch liquid. Stir frequently and cook until mixture thickens. Ladle filling on top of your tart crust. Let cool for a few minutes before refrigerating. Cool up to 2 hours or overnight. Garnish with dried coconut flakes or lemon zest.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Nowruz

Today is the celebration of Nowruz, Persian New Years. We celebrate our new year on the first day of spring. I always loved this celebration and try to do something every year for it, even if it's something small.

This year, I had my Baba (dad) over for dinner to celebrate with me.


We made a pretty traditional Nowruz dinner featuring Sabzi Polo (rice with dill and sweet peas) and Mahi (fish).


To sidetrack a bit, I must admit that I was apprehensive to share this post. Since this blog is still pretty new to me, I obsess over a lot of details. Health being my number one focus here, I don't want any mixed messages. I realize now that the first impression when visiting this blog for some may be that it's a "vegan blog", which it isn't really. Although I can safely say I cook 90% vegan, oil free, whole food, plant based cuisine, I wouldn't call myself a vegan, nor this blog. My main message here and everywhere is health. I will still occasionally eat animal protein, and the rare occasions that I do, it's very limited with veggies being the main bulk of my plate. I don't believe there is any benefit to eating animal protein as long as you eat enough vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. The occasions where I do end up eating animal protein are usually for the same reason I have a bite of decadent cake. I also make sure I know what farm my meat comes from and that the animals were raised humanly.
This blog is simply about health, a little about me, and a focus on a plant based, whole food diet. This lifestyle is meant to be livable. It's important to know and realize what your currently capable of maintaining and work on improving yourself day by day.

Now onto the food...
For my veg, I baked off some zucchini, summer squash, asparagus and tomato.



I was thinking I could substitute the salmon with tempeh, but because it's the New Year and I wanted to stick to tradition, I decided to go with salmon. If you are a strict vegan or vegetarian, I would recommend you try making the red sauce I cook the salmon in. You can use it with tempeh or veggies and it would come out delish.


Sabzi Polo is one of my favorite Persian rice dishes. It can be made with either lima beans or sweet peas, today I used sweet peas.


Most of my dishes tonight include Persian Saffron, a spice that's hand plucked from a flower. Persian Saffron (not to be confused with any other variation of saffron) is the most expensive spice on the market pricing as high as gold. "the most intense varieties tend to be Iranian." - Wikipedia. You only use a very little bit of it in your cooking, a little goes a very long way.


Cooking and having dinner with my Baba was a very sweet way to start off the new year. I wish my mom was in town to celebrate with us, maybe we'll do another small celebration for her when she gets back =)

 

Sabzi Polo (Rice with Dill and Sweet Peas)
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 cups uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
  • 2-3 cups sweet peas or lima beans, frozen
  • 1 tsp Persian Saffron (or however much you can afford)
In a rice cooker, cook rice with all ingredients together. You can cook this on a stove top by following the directions on your rice package and adding in the rest of the ingredients.

Baked Veggies
  • 4 zucchini squash, sliced
  • 2 summer squash, sliced
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 vine tomatoes, sliced in half
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Place all veggies onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with spices. Cook in oven for approx 30min.

Saffron Salmon
By Sarah Farsh March 21, 2012
  • 2 small salmon fillets
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 12 oz veggie stock
  • juice from one lemon
  • as much saffron as you can afford (up to 1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp dried dill
  • salt and pepper to taste
In a large saute pan, dry saute onions on high heat. Lower heat to medium and add in tomato paste, veggie stock and turmeric. Place salmon fillets skin side down on top of sauce and onions. Add lemon juice, saffron, dill, salt and pepper. Cover pan and cook on low heat for 20min.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Early Spring

So it's March 19th, and the weather reached a high of 79 degrees here in Jersey today. That pretty much put me on a cloud of smiles, flying up above in the sky all day. But seriously. It was freakin' gorgeous out. Too bad I was stuck in the office all day at work. I did get the chance to enjoy this freakishly amazing March weather while I was visiting my Aunt and Uncle in upstate NY this weekend. (see photo below)


For some reason, this weather has inspired me to keep cooking to a minimum tonight. I just feel like reading my book next to the window, and breath in this fresh spring air before going to sleep for the night. I think it's really important to have healthy and easy go-to dinner options for nights like these - so here's an idea, veggie wraps.


My definition of a veggie wrap includes a whole grain or organic corn tortilla to start with. Tonight I choose Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Tortillas. If you are gluten intolernt, you can use an organic corn based wrap instead.


As you may have noticed, I don't always "wrap" my wraps up. I usually just fold them over one time, and depending on how messy the wrap is inside, I'll sometimes even eat them with a fork and knife.

Here's what I loaded my wrap up with tonight:

Mustard, avocados and fresh jalapenos peppers


roasted red pepper slices

deliciously crisp and peppery arugula.


and a cooked veggie burger, ripped into pieces.


It was quick, easy, satisfying and nutritious. You can make this wrap with cooked beans instead of a veggie burger. You can pretty much add whatever veggies you want into a wrap and more than likely, they'll be delicious and satisfying. I think there's just something about eating food held together by an edible package that makes it tastes better.

For dessert, I had organic frozen cherries. They are my not so secret obession. You can get them in the frozen section of Whole Foods Market (if I've left you any) or in the frozen section of your local grocery store. I eat them one at a time, as a frozen treat.


Happy eating and early spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Anything You've Got, Coconut Curry

As much of a nice time I had in Vermont, it feels really good to be back in my own kitchen. I ended up coming back home with a reusable bag filled with leftover veggies, so I wanted to do something with them before they went bad.

This is what I had leftover.


I also had a piece of fresh turmeric that my friend Tracy gifted me. Since I grew up eating a lot of Persian food, I'm used to having foods cooked with turmeric powder. Also used to my dad giving me turmeric powder by the spoonfuls to cure the common cold (yuck) and turmeric mixed with eggs for a paste that apparently cures sprained ankles (gross). Discovering fresh turmeric was a great day for my dad and I. It's very similar looking to ginger, but has it's distinct turmeric flavor. You would use it just as you would ginger, and it's great blended into fresh juice.



I thought curry would be yummy to make with the veggies I had on hand. I had curry powder and coconut milk in my pantry. Although coconut is a whole food, I try not to use too much of it in my recipes because coconut is naturally high in saturated fat. I made an exception for my curry recipe, and I don't feel bad about that decision one bit. You could leave it out if you are concerned about the fat and could replace it with soy milk or another non dairy milk of choice.



The point of this recipe is to use anything you've got already on hand. All the odds and ends of veggies you have leftover in your fridge that you may have dumped out if you couldn't think of what to do with them in time. You'll be giving your veggies a second life and reaping the benefits!

Coconut Curry
by Sarah Farsh March 15, 2012

  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped
  • 1 bunch broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 eggplant, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 kabocha squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pack baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • juice from one lime
  • 2 jalapenos, sliced (leave out if your a baby)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh turmeric
  • 1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1-2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a large pot, lightly toast mustard seeds. Add in onions and dry sauté until soft. Add in squash and a splash of veggie stock, cook with lid on for 10min. Add in the rest of the ingredients (besides cilantro) and cook for 10min. Serve with grain of choice, I used quinoa. Garnish with chopped cilantro. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Souen's Macrobiotic Plate

I have been to Souen, NYC two times now and counting. I absolutely love their menu, everything is super yummy. Both times I've ordered their Macrobiotic Plate, loving every bite. It's super clean, simple, and fresh. A perfect balance of veggies, grains and legumes served with a light dressing of your choice on the side. Their bean option changes daily, the chickpeas were my favorite.

I decided I could try recreating this dish at home, it came out very close.


The reason I love this dish so much is because it's simple and clean. When I cook, I always feel the need to complicate my food with spices and additional ingredients. I can't just make "chocolate brownies". I need to create something like, "chocolate cherry almond brownies". Sometimes less is more, and in this case, that's certainly true.



Souen Macrobiotic Plate
Adapted from my experience at Souen restaurant

  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed
  • 1 bunch broccoli, florets
  • 1 sheet nori, cut in 4 squares
  • 1/2 kabocha squash, seeded, skinned and cut into bite size pieces.
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, canned or homemade
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
  • 1 tsp garlic powered
  • 1 cup veggie stock or water


Miso Sesame Dressing

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp water


In a large steamer or pot, steam kabocha squash for 7min until tender. I use veggie stock instead of water to steam my veggies to add more flavor, this is optional. Add kale, broccoli and nori, steam for 5-7min.

In a pot, warm up chickpeas with chili flakes and garlic powder.

In a small bowl, whisk miso sesame dressing ingredients together.

To serve, lay out kale, broccoli, and kabocha squash on plate. Scoop a pile of quinoa or brown rice next to veggies and spoon chickpeas on top. Drizzle plate with miso sesame dressing and enjoy!

Zach's Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Spinach and Sriracha Glazed Onions

Sometimes, Zach will cook for me. When he does, this is my favorite dish he prepares.


Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Spinach and Sriracha Glazed Onions
By Zachary Schriever
Serves 2

2 portobello mushroom caps
1 onion, sliced
2 cups fresh baby spinach
5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tbsp sriracha
Splash of veggie stock

In large sauté pan, dry sauté onions on high heat. Add a little water or veggie stock if onions start to stick. Lower heat to medium and add sriracha sauce, sauté. Add in whole mushroom caps and a splash or veggie stock. Cook on medium/low heat with lid on for 7min. Meanwhile, in a separate pan sauté spinach, garlic and chili flakes. Put lid on spinach so spinach wilts down. Stack ingredients together in a whole wheat bun or pita pocket, mushroom first, onions and top with spinach.

Vegan Chocolate Cherry Almond Brownies

I love the combination of chocolate, cherry and almond, so I created these sinless brownies.


Vegan Chocolate Cherry Almond Brownies
By Sarah Farsh March 11, 2012

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup soy milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup frozen cherries (or pitted fresh cherries)

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together well, besides the cherries. Add in cherries and mix into batter. Poor batter into a lightly greased pyrex dish. Use spatula to level our batter. Bake for 35min and enjoy!

Vegan Coconut Lemon Custard

I needed something warm and sweet for dessert and took a look at the ingredients I had packed with me for this trip. Although I put some time and thought into our main meals, I didn't give much advance notice to our desserts. Taking a scan of ingredisnts we had on hand, I found lemon and coconut and though thought that would make a yummy custard, served warm or cold.


This trip has really exercised my ability to improvise with what I have in the kitchen. I almost decided I couldn't make this treat just because the kitchen here does not have a zester. I'm glad that didn't stop me. Instead I used a peeler, being careful not to peel the white part of the lemon, then chopped the peel with a knife.


I enjoyed my version of this treat warm with a spoon, while Zach took his cooled off like a pudding. I think this would also make a great dipping sauce for fresh fruits, a topping for muffins and cookies, or a filling for a pie. Either way you choose to serve it, it comes out tasting super yummy.

Vegan Coconut Lemon Custard
By Sarah Farsh March 9, 2012

2 cups unsweeted soy milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
1 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp dried coconut
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a sauce pan, bring soy milk, lemon, coconut, syrup and vanilla to a boil. Lower heat. In a separate bowl mix corn starch with 3 tbsp water and mix until corn starch desolves into water. Poor corn starch liquid into sauce pan mixture and cook on low/medium heat until desired consistency, stirring occasionally. The longer you cook over heat, the thicker the custard will get. If you want the custard even thicker, make some more corn starch and water mixture and add to pot. Serve with a spoon warm or cool in the fridge for a pudding.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Black Beans, Brussels Sprouts Slaw and Mango Salsa

For dinner, Zach and I were craving something hearty and wholesome after a full day of snowboarding. We both love black beans and rice, so we created a dinner around them.


I forgot to pack a bunch of my spices from home, so I had to improvise a little when it came to the beans. I used salsa and it worked out great. Just be selective when choosing your salsa, read the ingredients to make sure there is no sugar or other crap-ola inside it. Whole Foods Market sells a great salsa called Roasted Chipotle Salsa, it's their 365 Everyday Value brand. That's the salsa I used for my recipe.


For my brussels sprout slaw, I used a mandolin to shred the brussles. If you have a food processor, that would work just as well and take half the time.




The mango salsa was inspired by my aunt Rebecca's housekeeper, Connie. Connie makes by far the best fresh salsa I've ever had. Super crisp, fresh, extra spicy and lemony. I've tried to make her salsa time and time again and it never comes out as tastey. Since most of you haven't had Connie's salsa, you may think mine is the next best thing :)


Easy Black Beans
by Sarah Farsh March 8, 2012

3 cups dried black beans
1 cup good salsa
5 garlic cloves, chopped
3-4 cups water (depending on how much bean gravy you want)

Place all ingredients into pressure cooker and cook on medium heat for about 45min. Relese the steam out of your pressure cooker and cook on low heat for 15min. Serve with brown rice.

Brussles Sprout Slaw
By Sarah Farsh March 8, 2010

1 pound brussles sprouts, shredded
1 avocado
2 limes, juiced
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup onion
1 tsp chili flakes
1 jalapeño (leave out if your a baby)
1/2 cup cilantro

In a VitaMix or high powered blender, blend together avocado, lime juice, garlic, onion, chili flakes, jalapinio and cilantro until smooth. In large bowl mix together avocado cream with brussles sprouts.

Mango Salsa
By Sarah Farsh March 8, 2010

1 mango, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 limes, juiced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 jalapeños, chopped (leave out if your a baby)
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped

In a large bowl combine all ingredients together and serve cooled.

Watercress Orange Kiwi Smoothie


I know yesterday I said that my favorite smoothie was my chocolate cherry almond kale smoothie, but can't I have two favorites?!


Watercress is another one of those super greens, scoring at 1,000 in ANDI
, (aggregated nutrient density index) along with kale and collards.

For one batch, I use half a bunch of watercress, as shown above.
This is a really crisp and refreshing smoothie, I think orange and watercress is a match made in heaven. Feel free to use more juice instead of water if you prefer a sweeter taste. I have also made this smoothie with frozen mangos instead of bananas, and I think it comes our even better. We never happen to have mangos in the freezer because Zach eats them all before I ever get to use any. The frozen bananas work just as well.


Watercress Orange Kiwi Smoothie
By Sarah Farsh March 9, 2012
Serves 2

1/2 bunch watercress
1 cub baby spinach
1 frozen banana
1 whole kiwi, skin on
1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1 cup water
1/2 lemon, juiced

In VitaMix or high powered blended, blend all ingredients until smooth.