Veggies on the counter

Farmers’ Market Salad with Apricot-Cumin Dressing

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on March 11, 2015

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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.

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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.

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Farmers’ Market Salad with Apricot-Cumin Dressing

Serves 4

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.

Citrus Salad with Basil-Coconut Sauce

Posted in desserts by veggies on the counter on January 30, 2015

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I always do my food shopping on Saturdays. I go to the farmers market in the early afternoon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. Unless I have friends coming over for dinner, I almost never plan what I’m going to bring home – I just buy seasonal and fresh produce. Last Saturday, the market stalls were filled with tons of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons. Being a citrus lover, I couldn’t help but buying some, and on the way back home I even manage to peel and eat a giant orange while at the same time carrying all the bags packed full of fresh produce.

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Back at home, I fantasized about baking an old fashioned orange cake with a beautiful orange glaze, but then I just thought that the fruit was so delicious and fresh that throwing it into a cake wasn’t the best way to make it justice.

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I remembered years ago seeing Jamie Oliver on a show making a savoury basil sauce to go with a raw tomato salad, and that idea kind of got stuck in my head and ended up being the inspiration for this dish. The combination of flavours might seem unusual but it works incredibly well. I ate the salad as an afternoon snack but it could easily be served as a light dessert. Needless to say, there’s room for adaptations here: you can omit the grapefruit if you want to (subbing it for more orange and tangerine), or you can take a different route, by using pineapple instead of all the citrus (I bet it’s equally delicious).

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Citrus Salad with Basil-Coconut Sauce

Serves 2

Note: all the fruit was weighted after being peeled.

For the salad:

185 g / 1 large grape fruit

166 g / 1 large orange

75 g / 2 small tangerines

2 Tablespoons dried coconut

a small handful of goji berries

for the basil-coconut sauce:

18 g / 1 medium bunch basil leaves

4 Tablespoons coconut milk

2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup

In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the coconut until it’s fragrant and just beginning to brown.

Cut the orange and grapefruit into 0,5 cm round slices. Split the tangerines into segments and remove the pits (if they have any).

In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and process until smooth. If it’s too thick, add an extra tablespoon of coconut milk.

Put the sliced fruit in a serving plate and sprinkle with the toasted coconut and goji berries. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.

Roasted Carrot & Black Bean Salad with Orange Cinnamon Dressing

Posted in salads by veggies on the counter on December 30, 2014

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I don’t share the enthusiasm most people have for Christmas. My close family is very small and I’m with them all year around, so gathering for an occasion I personally couldn’t care less about (I respect all religions, but I’m not a religious person) just seems a bit pointless. Having said this, it doesn’t come as a surprise that I don’t bother cooking a big, impressive meal for Christmas Eve. In fact, I cook the same kind of food I do everyday, like this little carrot and black bean salad.

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This dish is easy to pull off and it’s packed full of good things for you. It’s also perfect for this time of the year when, after the carb and sugar filled holidays, people seek to lighten up their eating. You can also adapt the ingredients, like substituting the black beans for chickpeas or even the carrots for sweet potatoes. The dressing is very fragrant and gives an exotic edge to the salad too. After cooking my way through Plenty More these last couple of weeks, I borrowed some ideas from Ottolenghi, and one of those is adding spices to salad dressings, like cinnamon and/or fennel seeds.

I wish you guys a wonderful new year, and I’ll come back by the end of the week  with one of my favourite soup recipes –keeping the mood light and clean. ;)

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Roasted Carrot & Black Bean Salad with Orange Cinnamon Dressing

serves 2

For the salad:

645 g / 10 medium sized carrots, peeled and left whole

1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed

1 ½ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed

1 tablespoon olive oil

270 g / 1 ½ cups cooked black beans (canned is fine)

20 grams chopped parsley

20 grams chopped mint

20 grams chopped coriander

30 grams / ½ small red onion, finely diced

1 medium avocado, thinly sliced

salt and pepper to taste

For the orange cinnamon dressing:

zest of one large orange

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 small garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 180º. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Combine the carrots with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the cumin and coriander seeds. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, toss, and roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until the carrots have cooked through and are lightly brown.

Mix the remaining ingredients for the salad in a large bowl, and add the carrots on top. Combine the ingredients for the dressing and drizzle over the salad. Serve immediately.

Lentil and Mushroom Salad with Sumac Lemon Dressing

Posted in appetizers, main courses, salads by veggies on the counter on November 21, 2014

00_finalwebWhen the weather starts getting colder, I eat soups and stews for the most part of my meals. However though, salads are still welcomed, as long as they’re heartier and incorporate some cooked elements.This salad makes for a perfect, quick lunch anytime of the week. I’ve made it countless times and sometimes substitute the lentils for whole grains such as barley and bulgur and it tastes delicious as well.

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One thing you should pay attention to when making this dish is not to overcook the lentils. There’s nothing worse than mushy, soft lentils. To avoid this, cook them for no longer than 15 minutes and they’ll be perfect. As far as the dressing goes, sumac is it’s key component, so please don’t skimp on that. I’ve first found out about sumac one or two years ago when I decided to make my own za’atar. It’s a hard to find and reasonably pricy spice here in Portugal (although some speciality stores sell it these days), but you don’t need to use much to feel its tangy and lemon-y flavour. I hope you enjoy the salad and the start of the new season! Have a good weekend :)

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Lentil and Mushroom Salad with Sumac Lemon Dressing

(serves 4, as a starter)

105 g / ½ cup brown lentils, washed, drained and picked through

1 Tbs. olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, crushed

300 g pleurothus mushrooms

50 g / 8 halves oil packed sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped

50 gr walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

2 big handfuls / 40 g salad leaves such as rocket, baby spinach, etc.

105 g/ ½ cup (packed) pomegranate seeds

 

for the sumac lemon dressing:

1 ½ tsp. sumac

3 Tbs. lemon juice

60 ml / ¼ cup olive oil

1 small garlic clove, minced

salt and pepper to taste

 

In a small pan over medium-high heat, add the lentils and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and, once boiling, reduce the heat to low-medium and cook for 14-16 minutes or until tender but still al dente. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to the lentils, stir everything, and drain. Add the lentils to a large bowl and reserve.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the mushrooms and garlic cloves and cook for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown. Add a pinch of salt and pepper as soon as they’re cooked, remove the garlic, and add them to the bowl with the lentils.

Add the sundried tomatoes, walnuts, salad leaves and pomegranate seeds to the bowl with the lentils and mushrooms and toss everything together gently.

For the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a small glass jar. Cover the jar with the lid and agitate vigorously until everything’s combined. Pour the dressing over the salad (not all of it – 3 to 4 tablespoons should be enough) and serve immediately.

 

A Purple Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on May 15, 2013

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My friend Ana‘s favourite colour is purple. The other day I was driving back home from her place and stopped at this little grocery store. I was into buying some vegetables for lunch and, subconsciously thinking about the conversation we had about colour that day, I decided to bring home, amongst other things, a purple cabbage. Purple cabbage isn’t the kind of vegetable I eat much. I love cabbage and cook it often but, for some reason, I’ve never cared much for the purple variety. However, after making this salad I guess that is about to change. The cabbage is “cooked” in a garlicky and vinegar-y dressing and the toasted nuts add a nice contrast thanks to their depth and earthiness. I didn’t add any fresh herbs to the whole thing because I didn’t have any at hand, but you can definitely finish it off with some finely chopped parsley or coriander. When it comes to salads, I usually think “The simpler, the better”. Work with a few ingredients, cut them appropriately, make a slighty more acidic/vinegary dressing and you’re good to go. And in case you want to know, I’ve already decided what my next “purple experiment” will be: sauerkraut.

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A Purple Salad

(serves 4)

½ medium sized / 300 g purple cabbage

½ red onion / 80 g, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons / 30 g toasted peanuts (or walnuts), coarsely chopped

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 big piece / 15 g of fresh ginger, grated

1 garlic clove

1 teaspoon agave nectar

zest of one orange

Remove the cabbage’s outer and tougher leaves. Then, cut the cabbage in half and remove its white stalk. Cut each half into paper thin slices. Transfer the shreds of cabbage to a large bowl.

Now, it’s time to make the dressing. Add all the dressing’s ingredients (except the ginger) to a bowl and whisk to combine. Finely grate the ginger and squeeze it over the bowl (you’re not going to use the pulp). Add the sliced onion to the bowl with the dressing and let it sit, covered and at room temperature, for at least 15 minutes. The dressing will “cook” the onion making it softer and sweeter to the palate.

Add the dressing and onion to the bowl with the shredded cabbage. Using your hands, massage the salad for at least 3 minutes or until its volume reduces by half. Serve immediately sprinkled with coarsely chopped peanuts or walnuts (preferably toasted).

Raw Kale and Pomegranate Salad

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on January 24, 2013

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Last year was demanding – both physically as well as emotionally – to say the least. A lot of things have happened – some of them were actually quite good, while others were surprising and unexpected in not so good ways. I’ve cooked almost everyday throughout the whole year and never been away from the kitchen, but I guess I just felt uninspired most of the time. That, plus being busy working on other things that left me intellectually drained – 2012 was the year I wrote and presented my master’s thesis – were the major issues that kept me away from this place from what now seems to be a very long time.

However, I’m back. This year I decided to make this blog a priority because either creating recipes from scratch or adapting them from other sources is what makes me happy and what I think I’m good at. To start off the year and to reinaugurate this little place of mine I’m posting a salad recipe I’ve been making a lot.

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Basically, every weekend my grandmother buys me this huge bunch of kale. I’ve made tons of stews with it, sautéed it with garlic and olive oil multiple times, added it to soups, until I ran out of ideas on how to use it. However, if munching on raw leafs of kale is one of my favourite snacks while preparing dinner, why not to come up with a recipe that calls for this lovely vegetable in its natural state? Raw kale is wonderful in salads thanks to its intense, slightly bitter and cholrophyll-y taste. However, to make the most out it you’ll need to massage its leaves in order to make them softer in texture and sweeter to the palate. Massaging kale leaves will also break down their cellulose structure and make them more easily digestible. This salad calls for kale as its base but all the other ingredients can be easily replaced – instead of pomegranate you could use grapes or tangerine segments, and almonds would also work well in place of the walnuts.

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Raw Kale and Pomegranate Salad

(serves 4, as a side)

2 cups (packed) / 110 gr raw kale, coarsely chopped

½ cup / 75 gr pomegranate seeds

half of an avocado (aprox. 100 gr) cut into small slices

¼ cup / 30 gr walnuts, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted

olive oil

lemon juice

for the dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/8 teaspoon minced garlic

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. In a small bowl, combine all the dressing’s ingredients. Set aside.

2. Add the kale to a large bowl and combine it with a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few drops of lemon juice. Massage the kale leaves, rubbing them with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they reduce to half of their original volume and change their colour from bright to dark green.

3. Add the pomegranate seeds, the avocado slices and walnuts to the now tenderized kale. Add the dressing and toss well. Serve the salad right away.

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Grilled Pepper and Onion Salad with New Potatoes

Posted in side dishes by veggies on the counter on June 30, 2012

This salad recipe is inspired by the popular festivities held in Lisbon and Porto around this time of the year. In these events, it’s common seeing people gathering on the streets to eat, and you can literally feel the smell of barbecued foods in the air wherever you go – mostly sardines and peppers. I don’t eat sardines (or any fish for that matter), so I came up with a recipe that still conveys the spirit of the festivities, but that is animal-free. I don’t usually brag about recipes I post here on the blog but I have a special place in my heart (and belly) for this one. I made this salad three times since last week and I seem not to get enough of it (as a matter of fact, I also had it for lunch today). To make it more of a complete (nutrionally speaking) meal, you can toss in some grilled tofu or cooked red beans. You could also eat it in a bruschetta, by grilling some bread slices and topping it up with spoonfuls of the salad (I’d leave the potatoes out in that case). I believe you can add flavour to your foods without depending on oil to get it, but it’s crucial to this recipe to use the amount of the said ingredient specified in the directions and not a bit less .The oil and vinegar mixture will coat the vegetables thoroughly, imparting them a beautiful flavour so, make also sure you use a good quality olive oil in here. Olive oil is a key ingredient to many Portuguese-inspired dishes, and this one really is no exception. Enjoy!

Grilled Pepper and Onion Salad with New Potatoes

(serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side)

Ingredients:

1 medium sized red pepper, cut into strips

1 medium sized green pepper, cut into strips

1 large onion, cut into rings

10 small new potatoes, skins on (about 300 grams)

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the vegetables

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon capers (optional, but highly recommended)

1 small garlic clove, minced

1 small handful coriander, coarsely chopped

salt

1. Fill a medium sized pan with water, add the potatoes and about 1 teaspoon of salt, and let it boil. Once boiling, decrease the heat to medium and cook the potatoes for about 15 minutes. Then, pass them through cold running water. Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and when they’re cool enough to handle, cut them into halves. Set aside.

2. Brush a grilling pan with olive oil and set it on high heat. When it’s hot, but not smoking, add the peppers’ strips, skin side down, seasoned with a pinch of salt. Grill them for 7 to 10 minutes, or until slightly charred – to get visible grilling marks, I like to press down the peppers’ strips with the back of a spoon against the grilling surface. Grill on the other side for about 5 minutes. Transfer the grilled peppers to a plate and set aside.

3. Add the onion rings (also lightly salted) to the grilling pan and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes or until soft and browned.

4. In a medium sized bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with the red wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt and whisk until incorporated.

5. Put all the vegetables (onion, peppers’ strips and boiled potatoes) on a large serving plate. Pour the oil and vinegar mixture over them and toss well. Finally, add the capers (if using), minced garlic and coriander on top. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

Posted in main courses, salads by veggies on the counter on September 26, 2010

The good thing about this pasta dish, is that you can make the sauce ahead of time, and then all you have to do a couple of minutes before lunchtime, is to cook the pasta and grill the aubergine. It’s a quick and very yummy dish, one of those recipes I make specially when I have guests around, because it’s easy to put together and people generally enjoy it very much.

I’ve done it to death around here, with a few varitions though: for instance, sometimes I use slightly cooked vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower), while on other occasions I use grilled ones (onions, aubergines, zucchini). Quite frankly, adding grilled vegetables is what I prefer the most, although that is just for the sake of my personal taste. Regarding the sauce, I think it’s one of those sauces you want to eat by the spoonful: salty and slightly tangy, it can also be a nice addition to savory crêpes or used as a dipping sauce for steamed veggies.

It’s funny that I haven’t thought of this recipe to post to the blog before. These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about when I started cooking vegan food, and the recipes that by then I used to enjoy the most. This one was definitely one of those. Actually, some years ago, I wasn’t that much of a cook. Any recipe that would take more than 10 minutes to be prepared, would most likely be ignored by myself. But on the other hand, I feel that that attitude towards cooking really led me to create some quick and tasty meals, and those are the ones I’m focusing on right now. But before we seriously embrace the everyday vegan cooking topic, I must tell you: there’s going to be a cake showing up here in an upcoming post… ; )

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomato Sauce

(serves 4)

450 grams pasta, such as fusilli or conchiglie (I used the latter)

1 large aubergine

olive oil

salt to taste

fresh basil leaves, for garnish

For the Sun Dried Tomato Sauce:

½ cup (40 grams) dry packed sun dried tomatoes

¼ cup sun dried tomatoes soaking water

¼ cup olive oil

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons lime juice

90 grams natural unsweetened soy yoghurt

½ teaspoon salt

1. In a small saucepan, bring about 2 cups (500 ml) of water to a boil. Turn off the heat and add the sun dried tomatoes. Cover, and let them re-hydrate for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft and plump. Drain, and save the water.

2. In a large pan, bring plenty of salted water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and chill under cold running water. Drain again.

3. Heat a large grilling pan over high heat. Slice the aubergine into rings of about 0,7 cm thick, and brush each side of the rings with olive oil. Lay down as many pieces of aubergine as the pan will hold in a single layer, and sprinkle with salt. Cook each side for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the aubergine has good grilling marks and has almost started to blacken.

4. To make the sauce, put all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until creamy. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed.

5.  In a large bowl, combine the pasta, grilled aubergine and sauce. Mix well and serve immediately, garnishing each individual serving with a few leaves of fresh basil.

Chickpea and Shredded Cabbage Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing

Posted in salads, side dishes by veggies on the counter on August 30, 2010

I haven’t been in the kitchen that much in the past few days, hence the lack of posting around here. I have to confess I’ve been feeling lazy to cook, also because here in Portugal we’ve been under extremely hot temperatures –  around 35º degrees -, and all I don’t want to do is to spend time in front of an hot stove. So, nothing better than a great and easy salad recipe such as this one, that will only take you a few minutes to prepare.

The only trick in here is to make sure the cabbage is sliced very thinly; if not, the salad will not be as light as it is supposed to be. As far as the dressing goes, it was my first time putting together tahini and miso, and I was surprised by how well the combination worked out: the nutty taste of the tahini seems to soften miso’s typical saltiness, without actually masking its taste. If you shred the cabbage and make the dressing ahead of time, you can put this salad together in less than five minutes. I served this at room temperature, but I bet it would be delicious served cold too. If you’re planning to do the latter, place the salad in a large bowl, cover with cling film, and refrigerate it for 1 to 2 hours or until chilled to your liking. This method will also help the flavors meld together, contributing for a tastier salad.

Chickpea and Shredded Cabbage Salad with Miso Tahini Dressing

(serves 3, as a side)

260 grams canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 small cabbage (180 grams)

1 teaspoon minced chilli

for the dressing:

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon mugi miso

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons agave nectar

1. Start with the cabbage: cut it into halves, remove the hard core, and shred each halve into very thin strips. You don’t want to have very long strips, so cut them in half if needed.

2. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas and shredded cabbage. Set aside.

3. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a medium size bowl, and whisk them together until you achieve a creamy consistency. At this point, you can add a bit more water if you want a thinner dressing, although I like mine on the creamy, slightly thick side.

4. Add half of the dressing to the bowl with the chickpeas and cabbage and toss everything together. At this point, you can refrigerate the salad for at least 1 hour or, as I did, serve it at room temperature.

5. To serve (either cold or at room temperature), divide the salad among 3 plates, sprinkle with the minced chilli, and spoon the remaining dressing over the top of each serving. Serve immediately.