Veggies on the counter

Quinoa Salad

Posted in main courses, salads by veggies on the counter on July 22, 2010

If you’re already disappointed to see another salad showing up here, I can only arguee that, being a big salad eater, I can’t help myself but posting salad recipes, as they are a very important component of my everyday eating. I know this might sound like common sense, in the way that most of the people I know think that vegans and vegetarians live on salads. But, as we all know, the word salad isn’t necessarily a synonym for lettuce leaves and raw tomatoes tossed with a boring dressing mostly made of olive oil and vinegar (at this point I think I’m more describing the classic portuguese salads served on restaurants and cafés rather than anything else, which I happen to eat almost everytime I go out for a meal).

Salads, at least for me, when balanced in nutrional terms, make wonderful main courses. This quinoa salad is one of those complete meals: you have the grain (quinoa), veggies (carrots cucumbers and caramelized onions) and a source of protein (grilled tofu), all tossed with a (I promise) not-so-boring brown rice vinegar and ginger dressing. It’s the kind of food I usually have for lunch (and dinner, if I happen to have some leftovers). Well, it’s actually my kind of food. If you give it a try, I hope you like it as much as I do.


(serves 3)

¾ cup quinoa
2 x ¾ cup water (approximately 300 ml)
3 medium-size carrots, peeled and cutted into thin rounds
1 large onion, chopped
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced into 1cm thick rounds
250 gr tofu, cutted into slabs
2 teaspoons tamari
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

for the dressing:
4 teaspoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons olive oil
4 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed ginger juic

1. Start by cooking the quinoa: bring a pot with the water to a boil and add the grains. Reduce the heat to low-medium, and let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, or until all the water is evaporated. Add a pinch of sea salt (about ¼ teaspoon) and a drizzle of olive oil when it’s done.

2. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion, a pinch of salt, and let it cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the pan, for at least 10 minutes, or until deeply caramelized. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. In the same pan in which you cooked the onion, add the carrots. At this point, you don’t need to add more oil. Cook the carrots for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until they get crispy and toasted. You might want to do this in several batches, in order not to overcrowd the pan and to have the slices evenly cooked. When they’re done, transfer them to another bowl and set aside.

4. Brush the tofu slabs with olive oil. Place them in a hot grilling pan, and grill for about 4 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and toss with the tamari.

5. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and whisk well.

6. Transfer the quinoa, onion, carrots and diced cucumber to a large bowl and toss with the dressing.

7. To serve, divide the salad into 3 deep plates and pile the tofu atop salad on each plate. Sprinkle with chopped coriander.

Zucchini and Potato Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on July 17, 2010

More than two weeks ago, I ordered some new cookbooks. In the past couple of days, I’ve been getting anxious at around 11 a.m, the hour at which the over-sized shipments are delivered by hand on my neighborhood. It happens that mine haven’t arrived yet, so now I started considering the hypothesis that they might have got lost on their way from the UK to Portugal. It already happened a few times with other items I’ve purchased, and it’s kind of annoying. But, anyway, as I don’t have yet the new cookbooks, I’ve turned to the “old” ones I’ve got at home and have been exploring them intensely. And if there’s one cookbook that I’ve been really cooking a lot from, that is Bryant Terry’s Vegan Soul Kitchen . When I first got it, I was slightly disappointed by its layout. I thought the design of the book was not particularly appealing, which was a pitty, because it didn’t let Bryant’s recipes shine as they deserved. But despite its design, Vegan Soul Kitchen is by far one of my favorite cookbooks. It’s filled with unique, vibrant recipes, from cover to cover, and I love the fact that Bryant gives both film and music recommendation for each recipe on the book. It’s actually a pretty cool thing because of two particular reasons: firstly, I get to know a lot of music and film through a cookbook, which is something untypicial and original for a cookbook; and secondly, because it gives me some insights on Bryant’s creative process, which I admire because of its interdisciplinarity (by taking inspiration from art and music to create and develop his own recipes).

There was this Crispy Green Beans Salad on the book that I wanted to try. But here in Portugal we’re not in green beans season right now, so I decided to adapt the recipe to what I have bought on the market this morning. And thus a whole new recipe was born - the Zucchini and Potato Salad. In here, I grilled the zucchini until it got good grilling marks, and boiled the potatoes with their skins on until they were soft and tender; tossed everything in a large bowl with some roasted shallots and a garlicky mustard dressing, and served with sprigs of fresh lemon thyme and toasted walnuts. Instead of boiling the potatoes as I did, I think you could also cut them in small cubes and pan fry them until gold and crisp, and then proceed with the following steps.


(serves 4, as a side)

335 grams small potatoes (about 15 potatoes)

400 grams zucchini (2 small ones)

4 large shallots

olive oil


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1/4 plus 1 tablespoon toasted walnuts

for the mustard vinaigrette:

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons dijon mustard

3 teaspoons agave nectar

2 large garlic cloves

1/3 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon lemon thyme, plus a bit more for garnish

salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC.

2. I used very small potatoes in here, not that much bigger than the size of a grape, so if yours aren’t that small, cut them in halves and do not remove the skins. Bring about 2 liters of water to a boil, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the potatoes. Let them cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Drain them and wash them under cold running water. Drain again and set aside.

3. Trim the ends of the zucchini and cut them into 1 centimeter thick rounds. With a pastry brush, brush each round with olive oil and add about 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (to all the rounds, not to each one individually). Heat a grill on maxium heat, add the zucchini rounds, and cook them for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they get good grilling marks. Remove from heat, let them cool, and set aside.

4. In a medium-size bowl, toss 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Rub this mixture in the shallots (with their skins on). Place the shallots in a baking dish lined with parchment paper, and roast them in the preheated oven for about 1 hour or until their skins have almost blacken. Let them cool, transfer to a cutting board, and take off their skins. Now, cut them into 2 centimeter thick pieces.

5. In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the vinaigrette except the olive oil. While the blender is still running, slowly pour in the olive oil. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings - a bit more salt? a bit more agave? - if needed.

6. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, zucchini and shallots. Add about half of the vinaigrette and toss well.

7. Transfer all the ingredients to a big platter, add the toasted walnuts and some fresh lemon thyme sprigs. Right before serving, drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

recipe inspired by Vegan Soul Kitchen, by Bryant Terry, published by Da Capo Press

Corn and Cauliflower

Posted in side dishes by veggies on the counter on July 16, 2010

The idea for this recipe comes from Heidi’s Simple Cauliflower . I love the simplicity of it and how it works so wonderfully. In my version, I added some corn kernels I had sitting on the fridge (I’ve bought some pre-cooked corn and then cut the kernels off the cob), some chopped corianders, and there you have it. I think the key in here is to cut the cauliflower into small florets about the same size (mine were no larger than 2 centimeters), so that they cook thoroughly in the same amount of time. On the other hand, the addition of lemon juice and its zest is really important to balance the sweeteness of the corn and the addition of salt. As I was eating this tonight for dinner, I had a lot of ideas popping into my head on how it could be easily improved in order to make a more substancial meal: for instance, adding rice vermicelli as well as grilled smoked tofu would make a perfect main course. And if you’re not into vermicelli noodles, I bet some cooked grains such as quinoa or brown rice would not only work well, but also make it heartier. And what about substituing the corn kernels and using chickpeas instead? Or maybe adding some toasted cumin seeds? Or even substituing the lemon zest for orange zest? I mean, take this recipe as a general idea that could (and should) be adapted and taken in whatever direction you’d like. Just do not forget to shout out in the comments on how you have approached it.


(serves 2, as a side)

1 small cauliflower head, cut into tiny florets

1 pre-cooked ear of corn on the cob

1 tablespoon olive oil

a bit of sea salt

a squeeze of lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon chopped coriander

1. With a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels off the cob.

1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-heat. Add the corn kernels, cauliflower florets and salt, and cook for about 7 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. It’s important to stir the ingredients occasionally, to prevent them from getting too brown.

2. When the cauliflower and corn are cooked, remove from heat and add the lemon zest, chopped corianders, a squeeze of lemon juice.

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Gram Omelette

Posted in main courses by veggies on the counter on July 15, 2010

I had never heard about gram omelettes until last saturday. I was having dinner at some friends house when one of them spelled the magic words: “vegan gram omelettes”. I’ve never been a fan of omelettes. But omelettes do really bring me back good moments. And by good moments I mean all those very late dinners with my boyfriend when, having nothing but some eggs and cheese sitting on the fridge, I’d cook a cheesy omelette for the two of us. We’d then enjoy it along with a simple leafy salad, some grains (usually couscous or bulgur), and a glass of wine. It was simple, tasty, and filled our bellies.

But since I’ve been cooking more and more vegan food, I almost forgot about omelettes. I though I could never reproduce them, or at least make something similar to it in texture, as I don’t care too much for the taste of the real thing. Gram flour not only does the trick as it also packs a lot of flavor. The texture of this version is more dense than the one of the omelette made with eggs, but at the same time I found it more satisfying and it really brightens the unique flavor of this particular flour. I like to fold my omelette and fill it with some grilled tofu, pan fried or raw vegetables, and a simple sauce. In the picture above, I drizzled some of leftover tofu marinade I had on hand (made of white miso and mustard), but a yogurt sauce with some chopped herbs would also be a great option. Actually, the possibilities for the filling are endless, just use your own creativity and intuiton and go for it. My boyfriend hasn’t tried this yet (I’m looking forward to it), but I bet this will soon replace the egg omelette as our late night dinners fave. Miss you.*


(makes one omelette of, approximately, 23 cm)

50 grams gram (chickpea) flour

1/2 cup plus 3 to 4 tablespoons of water

olive oil



1. In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the water and add salt and pepper to taste. If the batter is too thick, add a bit more of water. The consistency you want to achieve is that of a beaten egg.

2. Lightly brush a medium size non-stick skillet with olive oil, and heat it to medium-hot. When it’s hot (about 2 or 3 minutes minutes after you have turned on the heat), pour the batter on the pan and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until is golden brown on the bottom, and the top is almost set. Carefully flip with a spatula and cook the other side for another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cut in half, and fill it with tofu and/or vegetables, or whatever you prefer.

Carob and Orange Pudding

Posted in desserts by veggies on the counter on July 15, 2010

I do think that, in terms of palate, there are two kinds of people: the sweet and the savory ones. I’m definitely part of the second category. Since I was a kid, I never got particularly excited about desserts and sweets in general; everytime I’d crave something, that would be some sort of savory food. I also think that this “tendency” (or whatever it is named) for savory goods really defined my way of cooking: I do feel more comfortable cooking grains, salads, legumes and soups, rather than baking or making puddings or anything sweet. The techniques for cooking savory or sweet goods are also different and, in my case, the fact that desserts (specially baked ones) call for a lot of measuring in order to achieve the desired result, goes a bit against my intuitive and spontaneous way of approaching cooking.

But anyway, if there’s someone who really has a natural tendency for sweet stuff, that person is certainly my mother. At first, she was a bit reluctant about this dessert, as it calls for avocado on it (an ingredient that she doesn’t appreciate that much), but after the first taste, there was no way back for her: the rich flavour of the carob as well as the slight hint of orange, rapidly converted her sweet tooth. The pudding was inspired by the recipe for Carob Pudding from the gorgeous Lucid Food, by Louisa Shafia, and my take on it goes with the inclusion of the orange zest and juice, as well as the crunch topping (that is also based on a crunch topping recipe of that very same book, although in the book it’s served over a different dessert) , that contrasts well with the creaminess of the pudding. Serve it cold, in small ramekins, and bare in mind that the taste of the carob is quite distinct from that of the chocolate, but by no means less rich and intense.


(serves 4)

2 ripe avocados

6 tablespoons carob powder

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon salt

8 tablespoons orange juice

1 tablespoon orange zest

for the crunch topping:

1/2 cup roalled oats

1/2 cup almonds

2 tablespoons agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1. Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

1. In a blender or food processor, puree the ingredients for the pudding until smooth. Pour into 4 small ramekins and chill in the refrigerator while you make the topping.

3. Combine all the ingredients for the topping in a bowl. Spread evenly on a baking dish, lined with parchment paper, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring ocasionally to prevent from burning, or until the topping is dry and golden brown.

4. To serve, scatter 1 tablespoon of the crunch topping over each serving of pudding. The topping can be kept, stored in the refrigerator and in an airtight container, for up to one week. Served over yoghurt or added to a bowl with cold milk, makes an excellent breakfast.

Adapted from Lucid Food, By Louisa Shafia, published by Ten Speed Press

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Soba Noodles with Edamame and Miso Dressing

Posted in main courses by veggies on the counter on July 5, 2010

This post will lack an introduction, but as I’m not very good at it (and I already introduced myself and the purposes of this blog in the about section), I’ll go straight to the issue: vegan recipes. And to start with, I’ve choosen one that is actually a favorite in this household. It’s a recipe for soba noodles with a tangy miso dressing that I fell in love with the first time I tried it. The dressing is a perfect match to barely cooked edamame beans, which give some crunchiness and add proteins to the dish. If you don’t have edamames at hand, I bet some chickpeas, cooked and lightly toasted on the pan, would also make it. Quick, nutritious and healthy, perfect for this time of the year, when you don’t feel like spending that much time in the kitchen and just want to throw lunch in a couple of minutes. Soba noodles with edamames and miso dressing, here we go.


(serves 4)

225 gr soba noodles

1 and 3/4 cups edamame beans

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons miso (choose a light variety, such as Mugi)

4 tablespoons lemon juice

6 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 and 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar

1 fresh red chili pepper

1. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing. Whisk until well incorporated, cover and set aside.

2. Pour about 2 liters of water in a pan, let it boil, and add the edamame beans. Cook the beans for 2/3 minutes. Drain and wash them under cold water.

3. Return the pan to the stove, let the water boil again (use the water in which the beans were cooked) and add the noodles. Cook for 6 to 7 minutes. Drain and wash under cold water.

4. In a large bowl, combine the beans and soba noodles. Stir in about 6 tablespoons of the dressing and mix well.

5. Serve at room temperature and drizzle some more dressing on top of each plate if you like.


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