It’s that time of the year when the weather is getting warmer and I start craving raw and cold salads again. This week, at the farmers’ market, I brought home lots of kohlrabi and turnips with the main intention to eat them raw (which is how I like them better anyway).
I know that a lot of people aren’t particularly excited about turnips, and even though I used to share the same opinion, I’ve been rediscovering this vegetable and absolutely loving its versatility. I’ve been enjoying thinly sliced turnips with just a dash of salt and black pepper as a light snack these days – there’s something about its light and yet slightly bitter flavour that I really love.
Anyway, this salad is pretty much like a coleslaw, with lots of crispiness and different textures. I felt I needed to balance that with a smooth dressing, and that’s how I ended up making an apricot-based one. I was really pleased with how it turned out – it’s sweet and tangy at the same time, with just a hint of cumin to make it more complex and intense.
Farmers’ Market Salad with Apricot-Cumin Dressing
For the salad:
220 g /5 medium sized carrots, grated
140 g /1 large kohlrabi, thinly sliced
120 g /1 large turnip, thinly sliced
200 g /1 large orange, sliced into half-moons
15 g / half a bunch of parsley, finely chopped
15 g / half a bunch of coriander, finely chopped
60 g /1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped, toasted and lightly salted
For the apricot-cumin dressing:
65 g /6 dried unsulphured apricots, roughly chopped
6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons water
1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle
¼ teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.
Put the apricots in a small bowl. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over them, cover the bowl, and let stand for at least 10 minutes, or until the apricots are very soft.
In a blender, combine the drained apricots with all the other ingredients for the dressing. Blend until you get a very smooth mixture.
Pour the dressing over the salad (you might not need all of it, use just enough to coat the vegetables), mix with a wooden spoon or with your hands and serve immediately.
My week has been really busy, and all I’ve been eating lately is kind of boring and predictable stuff (basically, lots of sandwiches and soup). So today, I finally gave myself some time to go into the kitchen and prepare a proper lunch. That lunch – for which the recipe follows – relies on a favorite combination of mine: peas and mint. As far as the preparation time goes, this is the kind of dish that will only take you a couple minutes to make, but even so, you can certainly prepare the tofu and rub the spices onto it and left the whole thing in the refrigerator until you start cooking.
Typically, I’d serve this along with some raita (with all natural, unsweetened, soy yogurt, grated cucumber, and good pinch of salt), but today, after an hour running, I was craving a more satisfying meal and made, instead, some buckwheat pancakes to go with it. I often like my tofu the simple (and easy) way – coated in a little olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and therefore grilled until golden brown – but rubbing a spice mix into it before grilling/frying, might be a new favorite method. Actually, as I type this, I can’t help myself but thinking on variations to the mixture of spices suggested below: feel free to add curry powder for a more indian scented flavor, or even going a completely different way, by substiting the cumin, ginger, paprika and turmeric, for dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano.
Spicy tofu with peas and mint
400 grams extra firm tofu, rinsed, pat dry, and cubbed
450 grams frozen peas
1 teaspoon powdered garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground powdered ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon paprika
2 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons tamari
a few fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Combine the garlic, cumin, black pepper, ginger, turmeric and paprika in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and tamari and mix well.
2. Rub the spice mixture into the tofu cubes, making sure they’re all well coated. Set aside.
3. Bring enough salted water to a boil, add the peas, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the peas, wash them under cold running water and drain again.
4. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once hot, but not smoking, add the tofu cubes and fry for 6 to 8 minutes, or until golden brown.
5. Transfer the peas and tofu to a large serving plate, and garnish with fresh mint. Serve immediately.
recipe inspired by Rose Elliot’s The Vegetarian Supercook, published by octopus Publishing Group in 2006
I’ve always been afraid of making my own veggie burgers. With all my previous attempts, some kind of minor disaster had happened: most of the times, the burgers would fall apart while cooking, not keeping the perfect round shape I wanted them to keep after being cooked. So today, I was determined to make the perfect veggie burgers I was dreaming on for such a long time. I had some cooked chickpeas sitting on the fridge, so I haven’t thought twice: I’d be making chickpea burgers.
I came to a conclusion: my previous attempts failed because there wasn’t any ingredient binding all the other components of the burger, hence their loss of structure. How I wish I had realised that sooner… This time around, not only the burgers kept their shape, thanks to the addition of ground flax seeds and tahini, but were also delicious in their own right. I served these guys on top of a grilled portobello mushroom and topped them up with an homemade apple and zucchini chutney. But feel free to use whatever condiments and fixings you like – I bet they would go particularly well with tzatziki and/or a peach salsa.
(makes 6 burgers)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
½ cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon tahini
2 teaspoons flax seeds
5 tablespoons water
95 grams extra firm tofu, crumbled
½ cup cornmeal
zest of ½ lemon
1. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, breadcrumbs, ground cumin, coriander seeds, curry powder, pepper, minced garlic, salt and crumbled tofu. Set aside.
2. In a coffe grinder or food processor, grind the flax seeds. Add the tahini and slowly pour the water, processing everything until you get a mixture with the consistency of a thick sauce. This will work as a binder.
3. Add the flax seeds and tahini mixture to the large bowl. Mix well all the ingredients.
4. Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Process until everything comes together. Don’t bother if the mixture isn’t totally smooth; it’s actually great to find some small bits of chickpeas in there, as they add some crunchiness to the burgers.
5. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions. With your hands, form round patties that are about 8 centimeters in diameter and 1 centimeter thick.
6. In a deep plate, combine the cornmeal with the lemon zest. Dip the patties in the mixture, shaking off the excess cornmeal.
7. Put a large grilling pan, previously brushed with olive oil, over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, but not smoking, add the patties.
8. Cook the patties for about 8 minutes on each side, turning them only once.
9. Serve them right after cooking.
Note: The burgers are quite firm and really hold their shape while grilling. Due to the low content of fat in the recipe, it’s really necessary to brush the grilling pan with olive oil to prevent them from sticking. For this very same reason, I don’t think that baking them would be a great idea, as baking usually absorbs a lot of moisture and would make the burgers a bit too dry, even if you brush the baking sheet with oil. On the other hand, and as an alternative to grilling, you could heat a large skillet with 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil and cook them over medium-heat for the same amount of time (8 to 10 minutes on each side) until golden brown on both sides.