Virtual Vegan Potluck: Beet ‘n’ Bella Carpaccio

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Welcome, and thanks for stopping by!

I am so excited to be participating in the VVP today, and am bringing an appetizer to share.  Not just any appetizer, but a beautiful perfect-for-fall Beet ‘n’ Bella Carpaccio!

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Beets are the featured ingredient for this installment of the VVP, and since I absolutely love them I decided I’d commit to using them in my appetizer creation.  I’m so glad I did!

This appetizer (it’s sort of a salad too, I suppose) is served cold.  Enjoy the earthy flavors melded with the tanginess of the lemon juice, sweet acidity of the balsamic vinegar, fresh bitter bite of the arugula, and creamy crunch of toasted pinenuts.

Here’s how you make it:

Beet ‘n’ Bella Carpaccio – Vegan and Gluten-free
Serves 3-6 as an appetizer (you’ll want to make a lot more if you’re bringing it to a real potluck!)
Active time: 15 minutes
Inactive time: 20 inactive
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients
1 large red beet, peeled and trimmed
1 large portabello mushroom cap
4 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, plus (optional) more for drizzling
2 tsp. tamari
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tsp. lemon zest (about 2 lemons–zest before juicing!)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, chopped
1/2-1 cup baby arugula
1 tbsp. pine nuts, toasted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions
Slice the beet and mushroom cap as thinly as possible.  (I do not have a mandoline so I did this by [very carefully] cutting on the bias with a sharp knife.)

Make the marinade by combining the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, tamari, lemon juice, lemon zest, oregano, and rosemary in a small bowl.

Place beet slices in a shallow dish and mushroom slices in another shallow dish.  Divide marinade over both dishes and swirl around a little, making sure the beets and mushrooms are mostly covered.  Let marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.

While the beets and mushrooms marinate, wash and dry the arugula, then prepare your plate by adding a thin drizzle of olive oil (I used a garlic-infused variety) and then laying the arugula over it.

When the beets and mushrooms have finished marinating, remove the individual slices, shake off the marinade a little, and then lay them one by one on your serving plate, alternating beets and mushrooms.

Garnish with pine nuts, salt, and pepper.  Serve chilled.

Recipe Note: When prepared according to this recipe, the beets remain pretty crunchy.  If you would like them to be more tender, simply increase their marinating time, which will give the acids in the vinegar and lemon juice a chance to break them down more.  I’d guess you could leave them in the marinade as long as overnight.  I wouldn’t leave the mushrooms in for more than an hour, though.

Variations:
1) Try subbing orange juice and zest for the lemon.
2) Try grilling the beets and mushrooms before plating.

VVP 001Enjoy!

To see what Radhika is serving over at Tickling Palates, click the icon below:

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To go back and see what Ketty at Luminous Vegans has brought, click the icon below:

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Or click here to start at the very beginning of the potluck!

Salad and Smoothie Spree

Today I am going to do a big old vegan food blog cliche by writing a post featuring salads and smoothies.  I embrace it.   I can’t help myself; I’ve been having so much fun with spring and summer produce!

I have the incredible fortune of living within 10 miles of 9 farmers’ markets and 36 farmstands (5 of them organic).  The bounty of gorgeous, fresh fruits and vegetables coincides perfectly with my body’s craving for lighter, more refreshing meals.  The result has been a total spree of salads and smoothies, with no room for boredom!

For example, two weeks ago, I bought the biggest head of lettuce I have ever seen in my life.  It cost $2.50 and lasted me up until this morning. And it was organic!

Salad Smoothie 005On day one, I chopped several of the leaves and tossed in some apple, carrot, and toasted pecans.

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I made a lemon-shallot vinaigrette to go with it.

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It kinda looks like a raw egg yolk, but it tasted amazing!  This was: 1/2 finely chopped medium shallot, juice of half a lemon, 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 6 tsp. extra virgin olive oil, scant 1/2 tsp. agave nectar, salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Last weekend, I bought a beautiful bunch of beets (how’s that for alliteration). On Sunday I roasted the bulbs, and used the roasted beets all week in salads.

Salad Smoothie 019Chopped farmstand lettuce, baby arugula, sectioned grapefruit, avocado, and roasted beets.  And yes, the beets stain everything pink!

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Chopped farmstand lettuce, baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, roasted beets, apple, carrot, radish, and avocado.  Also, the radish was the cutest thing ever:

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A very simple salad of organic baby arugula with organic raspberries and pine nuts, and a dressing of garlic-infused olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I love that salad-making lets me incorporate whatever fruits and vegetables I happen to have on hand.  This has helped tremendously with my goal of avoiding wasting food.

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Today’s lunch: the end of the farmstand lettuce, organic baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, avocado, organic farmstand sugar snap peas, carrot, craisins, and hemp seeds.

Salads are obviously extremely portable, making them a great weekday bring-to-work lunch.  I love that I can do most of the prep ahead of time, either on the weekend or the night before.  It seriously saves me so much time and money.

The same is true of smoothies.  They are the perfect vehicle for incorporating a rainbow of ingredients and ensuring that I make use of the insane amount of produce I buy each week this time of year.

Like native strawberries galore:
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In the past I have not been a fan of smoothies for breakfast because, although they taste great, I find that they don’t keep me full for more than an hour or two.  Since at my current job I don’t go to lunch until 1:00, I need something longer-lasting than that.

During my 3-Day Detox in May, I learned that using “chia gel” (1 tbsp. chia seeds soaked overnight in 1 cup of water) as a smoothie base is a way to stretch a smoothie’s ability to count as an actual meal, likely thanks to the absurd amount of fiber contained in a small portion of seeds.

So now I’ve been having smoothies for breakfast between 3 and 5 mornings a week.  Each one is different from the next!

This smoothie contained 1 cup of chia gel, one fresh kiwi, one frozen banana, 4-5 fresh strawberries, and a big handful of spinach:
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I love this picture of it blending all together, with the little whirlpool in the middle!

Another day, I tried a yogurt-based smoothie, using So Delicious plain coconut milk yogurt.
Salad Smoothie 009It contained 1 cup of chia gel, one frozen banana, 1-1.5 cups fresh pineapple, 3 fresh strawberries, a big handful of chopped romaine lettuce, 1/2 a stalk of celery, and about 1/2 cup of coconut yogurt.Salad Smoothie 010The color was kind of ugly but this may have been the best-tasting smoothie I’ve made yet!  The yogurt definitely enhances the flavor and texture.

I have a lot more great seasonal dishes to share in an upcoming post, using farmstand treasures and more!

Sunshine and Rainbows

Happy spring everyone!!!

Check out the beautiful magnolia blooms that appeared on this tree in my yard over the weekend!
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Last week was absolutely incredible in Boston (and pretty much everywhere else, too, I’m told). It actually reached 83 degrees here last Thursday, shattering the old temperature record, set in the 1940s, by 11 degrees–amazing!

Last week also marked the first week in my half marathon training program.  This will be my third half marathon and it feels great to be “in training” again.  I love being active and getting to spend a lot of time outdoors, and even more than that, I love how easy it is to eat a clean, wholesome diet while training–my body just craves that sort of food!

Despite that temperatures are back to a normal Boston March level today, it certainly feels like my life has been all sunshine and rainbows recently.  Check out some of the bright and colorful things that have made their way across my plate!

BREAKFAST
Normally, I’m not a huge breakfast eater, but when in training this meal becomes a crucial part of my day.  I try to find things that are quick and portable, but also contain a respectable balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats.

Banana Flapjacks from Vegan Brunch by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
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This has recently become my go-to weekend breakfast, mostly because I never seem to run out of must-be-used-now bananas.  For this batch, I added shredded coconut and spread a smidgen of Earth Balance on top.  This recipe is a sure bet any time you are making breakfast for non-vegans who cannot imagine what vegans eat for breakfast if not pig patties stacked with various globs of eggs and cheese.  The recipe produces pancakes that are soft and creamy from the banana and just the right amount of sweet.  Very highly recommended.

Later in the week, I used leftover flapjacks to make breakfast roll-ups.  I spread a small amount of pecan butter in the center of each, rolled it up, and just like that, it was ready for me to take along on the train!
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Freakin’ so delicious, and filling too!

Homemade Yogurt Parfait
It is rare that I eat strawberries so early in the season, but I found a carton of incredibly fragrant, perfectly ripe specimens at Russo’s and couldn’t resist.  I cut them up along with some banana and layered it with Whole Soy & Co.’s Strawberry Banana (which has replaced Apricot Mango as my favorite flavor) yogurt for a sweet treat of a breakfast that was pleasing to both the eyes and the palate.
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LUNCH
In keeping with what I mentioned in my last post about trying to fit in more high-volume cooking, I’ve been buying produce that looks good and cooking it up on the weekends, then finding random ways to use it throughout the week.  My latest experiment involved roasting a small butternut squash with maple syrup and olive oil, as well as a batch of gorgeous beets that I found at Russo’s (where else?)–they were only 98 cents for the whole bunch, leaves and all!  The result was this delicious concoction, which I’ve dubbed The Rainbow Sandwich
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Look at those beautiful colors! Earthy roasted beets, sweet maple-roasted squash, baby spinach, and incredible fresh-baked Russo’s “rustic bread” make for the most delightful and spring-appropriate sandwich imaginable.  Sunshine in every bite!
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I would be lying if I said I did not eat this same sandwich for lunch 5 out of the last 8 work days.

I have a lot more cooking to chronicle and recipes to review, but time is short, and this post is already very long!  Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far.

A final thought: we all know that life can’t be all sunshine and rainbows all the time.  But that is exactly why I treasure weeks like these so much when they do come around.  I hope you all do, too!Photobucket

Ladies Who Lunch

Or, in this case, lady who lunches, I guess.  It’s finals time.  My last finals time ever (hallelujah!).  While the light at the end of the tunnel (I’m done at noon tomorrow!!!) certainly helps, nothing can truly ease the pain and irritation caused by this time of the semester.  Except perhaps some fabulous eats.

For some reason, breakfast is always a chore for me and lunch is kind of take-what-you-get, while dinner is the main event meal of each day.  The last two weeks however have been filled with some of the most delectable lunches I’ve ever had.  I have tons of photos of them so I hope you like photos.

1) Gardein crispy tenders on a whole wheat sandwich thin with honey mustard, and kale and spinach sauteed with garlic and olive oil:
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By the way, this is the kale and spinach in the pan when I first put them in (kale on the right, spinach on the left):
Kale and spinach

And this is after a minute or so…amazing how much spinach wilts down in a hot pan!
Kale and spinach

2) Gardein crispy tenders on a whole wheat sandwich thin with barbecue sauce and kale sauteed with garlic:
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3) WildWood southwest flavor sprouted tofu burger on a whole wheat sandwich thin with lettuce, tomato, and avocado, with a side of Sabra roasted pine nut hummus and organic cucumber slices:
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4) WildWood original flavor sprouted tofu burger on a whole wheat sandwich thin with lettuce, tomato, and BBQ sauce, with a garlic dill pickle (because when is a pickle ever not the solution to all your problems?  All this time, I should have been writing “pickle” on my exams when I didn’t know the answer.)
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5) ED&BV Lemon Chickpea Lentil soup with rustic bread and Smart Balance light:
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6) ED&BV Lemon Chickpea Lentil soup with a beet medley (roasted bulbs; stalks and greens sauteed with garlic):
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I had never eaten beet stalks before and let me tell you, they are a delight.

7) Flat bread with Sabra pine nut hummus, cucumber, and tomato, with the fava beans from my last post, sauteed with garlic and olive oil:
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The fava beans were SO GOOD! I wished I had more.

8– Leftover Ancho Lentil mix from this recipe, on a whole wheat sandwich thin, with lettuce and a swirl of dijon mustard, a side of kale sauteed with garlic, and a pickle (duh):
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9) Leftover Ancho Lentil mix on a whole wheat sandwich thin, with lettuce, chopped tomato, and a side of roasted beets:
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I should have had a pickle.

Some of these were repeated one or more times. Ya know…lather, rinse, repeat.  Plus, when something’s this tasty, why change anything about it? I have to say, #3 might have been the best lunch I’ve ever had.  The WildWood southwest flavor is my favorite by far (I’ve also had shiitake and original), and my avocado was heavenly.
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So ripe and creamy.

Also, how much do you love Sabra hummus?  I’m not plugging them for any reason other than that I love them…I mean, look at this perfection:
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I loved this lunch so much that I took a couple extra beauty shots:
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A perfect burger

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MMM sabra sabrosa…sorry it’s a little blurry, I was too hungry to focus, I guess.

The next time I post, it will be posting as a non-law student! Woo!!

Me:  Someone found my blog yesterday by searching for “deformed chocolate chip cookies.”
H:  That’s a funny way to spell delicious.

Indulgence

I know I promised a proper post very soon, and I intend to keep that promise, but it might have to wait until finals are over.  I officially finished law school classes forever last Wednesday, but I am not truly done until May 13th, when I turn in a 30-page paper and take a 3-hour sit-down exam.  Prior to that I have to complete a 7-hour take home exam and turn in another, shorter paper.  So really, I don’t have time to do justice to the post I want to write, which is all about my newest obsession, food trucks.  When I do post it, I hope it’ll be worth the wait!  In addition to my food truck wrap-up, I have a bunch of other stuff to share, as I’ve been eating a lot of really great food.   I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of being vegan on a tight budget and schedule and it feels awesome.  Plus, as the weather gets warmer, I am just feeling good all around…despite finals.  Ha! I will post all of this soon!

In the meantime, I will continue to put up these cute mini-posts in the hopes that they are entertaining and possibly informative.

Right now, I’m going to show you something really friggin amazing.  I bought a pint of Purely Decadent coconut ice cream yesterday at Whole Foods because it was on sale. Plus, the flavor, Mocha Almond Fudge, sounded fabu.
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Oh my sweet Lord.  This is SO. GOOD.

Check out the perfect swirl of fudge in there:
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YUM
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Coco coffee
And yeah…iced coffee with mocha almond fudge ice cream? I went there.  I get to indulge a little during finals, right? 🙂

Also, while I type, these little beauties are roasting away in my oven, making my apartment smell like sweetness and love whilst I study:
Beets!
I can’t stop marveling at how incredibly beautiful these are.  It’s amazing to me that such a vibrant color exists in nature.

I also have their greens waiting for me later.  I would by lying if I said I didn’t eat about a full pound of kale and spinach earlier with lunch, so these don’t stand a chance come dinner time.  I might need a leafy greens intervention soon…
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Man I love beets!!!
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Ah-ee-ooooh…killer tofu!!!