Vegan Roasted Middle Eastern Tri-Color Carrot-Beet Spread (and a plug for Vegan Health & Fitness Magazine’s article about Whole Foods and John Mackey)

SideYield: approximately 1 cup

(for recipe, please scroll down)

Before my husband passed away in July, I never shopped at Whole Foods due to the expense, but it has become a little treat I give myself.

In some ways I find those activities and events that are exactly the same in his absence–like grocery shopping–more emotionally challenging even than the birthdays, holidays, and special occasions.  Perhaps it’s because I steel myself for the latter, shaping them in a way that plays to my strengths and minimizes my vulnerabilities.

But a couple of parties in both November and December required trips to Whole Foods.  The first was Joe’s posthumous birthday party that his sisters and I hosted at Total Wine for which we supplied the food (and decided that tapenade layered over hummus was our favorite new obsession).  He had purchased a wine tasting at a silent auction, but we never used it, and this seemed the perfect occasion.  The second event was my my annual all-girls Christmas, Chanukah, Curry & Cakes Party & Swap.  Joe wasn’t a part of it, but he always put in an appearance to everyone’s delight.

With my dear friend Donna Reiss in town to help me–emotionally and logistically–prepare for the fete, we chose a vegan menu that required a trip to Whole Foods.  With fond and tender memories of our outing, I decided that grocery shopping was a bit more bearable in the more “curated” environs of a store like WF who embraces, at least to some degree, my values. (Somewhere my museum curator friends just felt a stab in their sides because they deplore the way the word “curated” has been conscripted for marketing everything from groceries to jewelry to housewares.)

Vegan Health & FitnessSpeaking of Whole Foods’ values, the June 2016 issue of Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine (which I purchase at Whole Foods), includes a really thorough, fair, and balanced article about John Mackey, Whole Foods’ co-founder and co-CEO, who is controversial to some because, though he is vegan, his store is not.  Still, both editor Brenda Carey’s “Letter” and the article (on p. 52) make a convincing case for why Mackey should be applauded rather than derided for the compassionate and conscious changes he is helping bring about in the food production chain.

Now, I go most Saturdays and sometimes during my planning block at school to stock up on lunch items.  Sometimes I go with a list; most often I just respond to the aesthetics of the produce and purchase what catches my eye, figuring out what to do with it later.  I usually create new recipes though, occasionally and shamefully, I let some of it go to waste and end up composting it.  I would claim that it is because I am not accustomed to shopping and cooking for one, but who am I kidding?  I didn’t shop or cook for Joe in recent years, as he was a committed and unapologetic carnivore who eschewed most vegetables for more meat.  It’s more the case that I don’t consume nearly as much food as I used to.

But this carrot-beet spread is perfect for a mini-meal, as is my preference these days: healthy, beautiful, tasty, and satisfying.  It is worth trying to find the pomegranate or tamarind syrup and the sumac at a Middle Eastern or international market or even online.  But if you can’t, I provide substitutions below.  Sumac bushes produce red berries that are dried and ground to a powder that is used in Middle Eastern cuisines.  The flavor is lemony, but mellow, rounded and a hint earthy.  Lemon zest is a fine substitute, but definitely with zingier flavor notes. Similarly, maple syrup or agave nectar will contribute the desired sweetness and texture to the spread, but not deliver quite the desired authentic flavor of the Middle East.

If you or those for whom you cook think they are beet-haters, this recipe, along with some others here on The Blooming Platter, may change their minds.  But, if not, just substitute another couple of carrots.

PatsyRoasted Middle Eastern Carrot-Beet Spread

6-6 to 7-inch carrots, any color (I use a tri-color bunch), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

3 small golden (or red) beets, about the size of a plum or a half-fist, peeled and quartered

2 tablespoon + 1/4 cup olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 large garlic clove

1 teaspoon pomegranate, tamarind, or maple syrup or agave nectar

1/2 teaspoon ground sumac (or lemon zest)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Garnish: 2 to 4 tablespoons of pistachios

Accompaniments: crackers, toasts, green and/or black olives, and finishing salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss carrots and beets with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a generous pinch of salt in a large baking pan.  Roast for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender and caramelized to your liking.  Remove from oven, place in the bowl of a food processor with all other ingredients and process until as smooth as desired, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.  Taste and adjust all seasonings as desired.  Transfer to a bowl, drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and sprinkle with pistachios.  Serve with crackers, toast, olives and finishing salt (I use a little salt cellar of coarse sea salt).

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Day 19: Kale & Sundried Tomato Pizza AND Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Kale Pizza(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.

Today I have a lot to write about, so grab a cup of coffee and get comfy. Tuesday night, Betsy DiJulio, the author of The Blooming Platter Cookbook, came to my house to cook with me!! So excited!!

Of course I did the usual when someone is coming over – vacuum up the dog hair, clean the bathroom (remember I have boys!) and clean my kitchen. But I wanted to impress so I chose an appetizer and a dessert from the book to make beforehand. I chose Orange-Espresso Chocolate Chip and Hazelnut Cookies. I followed the recipe exactly being super careful not to inadvertently put something non-vegan in them. Everything was going well until I went to get my coffee beans out to grind one teaspoon of espresso powder. I could not find them anywhere. I love those beans. I had bought them at a little coffee roasting shop on the way to Luray, VA – but they were nowhere. So I racked my brain to come up with an alternative. Finally I ripped open a little Keurig cup and ran it through my grinder to make it into powder. It worked! One teaspoon of “espresso” done!

Next step was the chocolate chips. That’s when I saw the word “vegan” before the words “chocolate chips”. Noooooo!! I had not even considered that my chips were not vegan. Since I didn’t have any idea where to start looking for vegan chips, I was not going to the store so I divided the dough in half. One half gets real chocolate chips and the other will be Orange “Coffee” Hazelnut Cookies. (Thankfully she brought an amazing dessert so we didn’t need them.) I did, however, bake a test batch before dinner and I must say that these cookies are incredible. I have a hard time believing that this dough does not have eggs. They bake up just like any other cookies. My son looked skeptical and politely declined them but later I found the half empty container on the counter so he must like them too.

Mushrooms with SherryThe appetizer I chose was Sherried Mushroom Bruschetta. I have been looking forward to trying this recipe for a while – it sounded so good! I loved putting this together with the obvious exception that I had to use my dumb food processor. Later in the evening I did learn that silken tofu is different than the refrigerated tofu I used but no matter – I think it came out great. [Betsy’s note: it was perfection!] I got a bit heavy handed with the red pepper flakes but no one seemed to mind. My son only had a problem with the gray color but once he tasted it, he was sold.

So now my preparations are done…until I sat down and read through the recipe we had chosen to make. The pizza dough for the Kale and Sundried Tomato Pizza takes two hours to rise! I decided if I didn’t take this part on by myself we would not be eating til 10 PM. Even though I have never made pizza dough, I put on the how-hard-can-it-be attitude and got busy. And it really wasn’t too hard. I did not cheat either. I really used wheat flour. I had bought this to make dog biscuits a while ago and it was sealed up in the back of my cabinet. Nothing flew out of it when I opened it so we were good to go.

As soon as I got the dough set up to rise, Betsy arrived. She came in with an amazing looking cake roll with salted caramel icing. OK we can skip dinner now! It turned out to be a girl’s night since my husband was out for the evening and my son left for his Krav Maga class. (Oh, before he left, he pulled out a container of pork BBQ leftovers from the fridge and starts eating it out of the container right there in the kitchen. I was cringing, hoping Betsy wouldn’t notice…but she did. She was so cool about though. And that’s my family!!).

Anyway we chose a wine and started cooking. She promised me I would love the kale but I was skeptical watching her cut it up. She insisted I try it raw. She ate hers, but mine ended up in the sink. Sorry! I couldn’t even pretend to like it raw. Not good! Next she started the “cheese.” This was not my area – you know how much I cheat with real cheese – so I stepped back and watched her make it. I loved it! Would I give up my cheese for it? No, but I really loved it.

Betsy Making Pizza CrustWhen the dough was done rising, she showed me how to press it out by hand into a circle. Then we prepared the pan to sauté the kale – I forgot to turn the burner on but that was the only glitch. We put the pizza together and got it into the oven. Then we got to just hang out, she met my turtle, Desiree, and we went outside to check out my herb garden. My dog Allie was already her best friend at this point. Before long the pizza was out of the oven and ready. We took some pictures (of course!) and then served it up.

My son was back from class at this point and joined us for dinner. We loved the pizza! Even with kale!! It was flavorful and salty and the kale was very tender. We agreed later it may have been too salty because I only had course sea salt and no grinder. [Betsy’s note: totally my fault; I cook with coarse sea salt and I just wasn’t careful–must have been the wine and the great conversation.]   My husband was quick to point out the saltiness too when he tried it later – this from a guy who snacks on bouillon cubes?! Really?

The time finally came when I could try the cake she brought. OMG! So good! As soon as she posts that recipe I will be lifting it right off her website.

We had so much fun cooking and laughing together but the time came when she did have to get back home to her puppies. I loved learning so many new ways of cooking healthier. I love that she is so non-judgmental about my family’s food choices and is supportive of how I am incorporating her amazing recipes into my way of life. She is one of the sweetest, most gracious people I know and I am glad I can call her my friend. It really was a great evening.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

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Day 17: Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada(A sequential installment from Kim Hastings, my photographer friend and, along with her vet husband, owner of Independence Veterinary Hospital, who decided on her own to cook her way through The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes Julie & Julia Style for her omnivorous family as a strategy for more healthy eating.)

Today’s recipe is the Grilled Butternut Squash with White Beans and Olivada. Spoiler alert: I will tell you now that this recipe got a rating of 4 in my book which is the highest rating possible.

To explain, my husband and I started this rating system during winery visits where we would write a number of 1-4 beside each wine we tasted. (The winery owners would get very excited thinking we were buying that many bottles!) Anyway this dish was so good I even packed up the leftovers to go on a trip so we could enjoy it again.

I always start by reading through the recipe and making sure I have everything. Check. Then I got started on the olivada so it would be ready when needed. I had purchased two tiny cans of olives thinking they were 6 ounce cans but no, they were 1.5 ounces. I have never been very good at estimating weights and measures clearly. So I used both cans but had to cut the other ingredients in half.

I went to my newly reorganized spice cabinet so proud that now I would be able to find everything I needed – but there was no oregano. How is that possible? I always have oregano. I tore through the cabinet from A to Z but there was none to be found. (Now I need to reorganize again.) No problem – I grow oregano in my herb garden. I have cultivated the same plant for 10 years and it has grown to be one of the largest plants I have. The leaves are dry now in winter but I can still use them. I grabbed my scissors and went out and…no oregano plant! Instead there was a huge hole! The dog had dug up my oregano plant and -ugh!!!!- replaced it with a gross toy! Are you kidding me?!! Things are going from bad to worse and I refuse to go to the grocery store for oregano. I finally decided to use a Greek seasoning I had on hand.

Once the olivada was done I took a taste and wow! I got some crackers out and started snacking while I started on the squash. The rest of the preparation was easy until I saw that I was supposed to have roasted the garlic. Too late – we are all hungry. So I just minced it and put it in the pan. One day I will try and roast a garlic but not today.

Arranging as instructed was like designing a work of art. It was beautiful when complete. I even used a cookie scoop to place the beans on the center of the fan of squash. Perfection!! Of course I got joked by the guys for taking the time to arrange a side dish, but one bite and they quickly stopped making fun of me. It goes without saying that this dish will be repeated many times in our household and I will definitely be making the olivada for parties.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Vegan Tropical Hummus–Hummus Just Got a Boost of Flavor AND Texture!

Tropical HummusYield:  approximately 2 cups

As most of you know, since my darling husband of 25 years passed away on July 30, 2015, my relationship to food has been profoundly impacted.  I no longer cook or eat as much as I did before.  And when I do, its meaning has been transformed.  You can read the long version here in an essay published by Alimentum, a literary and art journal devoted to food.  [Scroll down under “Throw Tradition to the Wind” (though you might enjoy it too) to “‘Til Death or Dinner Do Us Part.”

The short version is simply that, though I love and respect food–perhaps more than before–I now think of it as somewhat of a sacrament, as an outward sign of inward grace, more spiritual than it once was.

When this began to happen–which was, actually, almost immediately–I jokingly proclaimed this the year of the “mini meal.”  In that spirit, I offer this recipe, though it is really more of a formula, and a simple one at that.

It was inspired by a bite of something I tasted, coincidentally, at a Celebration of Life for a dear friend who passed away just before Christmas.  Called Tuscan Hummus, it was creamy, but with appealing chunks of tomato, basil, and ???  I have long been a fan of a layer of tapenade spread over hummus, but I found the idea of a “chunky” hummus ultra appealing.

Wanting to make this new creation quick and easy, I thought a salsa would be a fun twist and the tropical pineapple salsa at Whole Foods was their most enticing.  So, I stired a cup of it, drained, into a cup of their plain hummus and voila!  For extra crunch, I served it garnished with the little crispy bits and pieces at the bottom of the container of their vegan kale chips.  A brilliant lunch with a dab of lentil soup on the side.

Of course, you could make your own hummus and your own salsa.  But, after Christmas, I started teaching a 6th class and a 4th prep–AP Art History (a super-rewarding but time-consuming course)–so quick and easy without sacrificing flavor or nutrition earns an A+ in my book.

1 cup plain or garlic hummus, homemade or preapred

1 cup tropical pinapple salsa (or your favorite type), homemade or prepared, drained

Pinch sea salt

Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Optional garnish: crispy kale chip bits

Accompaniment: cracker or pita chip of your choice

 

Stir together hummus, salsa, sea salt and pepper.  Serve on crackers or pita chips garnished, if desired, with crispy kale chip bits.

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Festive and Heart-Healthy Vegan Red Beans and Greens Dip + How to Host a Holiday Swap

Serves: 25 or more as part of an appetizer buffetBeans and Greens Dip

Last Tuesday night was my 15th annual all-girls Christmas, Channukah, Curry & Cakes Party and Swap.   This beloved fete is one of the most cherished of the holiday season.

This year, twenty-two of my nearest and dearest gathered for a tasty and festive vegan spread, including this dip, lots of conversation–and wine–and lively swapping of enticing items (home, garden, fashion, etc.) in excellent condition for ourselves and for holiday gift-giving.

If you’ve never hosted a swap, here is my easy formula:  set up a table near your entrance outfitted with clothespins, markers, and index cards.  As your guests arrive with their items, invite them to write a description on a card for each item (so that swappers will know what is yours and what is up for grabs) and place it with the item in the designated area.  In my case, that’s my living and dining rooms (I serve the food on the peninsula in the kitchen).

Then, for each item a guest brings, she receives a token in the form of a clothespin on which she writes her name with marker.  I save them in zip-lock bags, one per person, from year to year so as not to be wasteful.  When each guest finds an item she wants, she clips one of her clothespins to the card or the item.  If an item only garners one clothespin, that person gets to take it home.  If more than one, the clothespins go in a basket or bag and someone draws the winner with the other person or people allowed to continue shopping.  Anything left over at the end of the night is either donated to charity or, if someone is out of tokens and covets another item, can be purchased with the proceeds also going to charity.

Because most all of us have more than we need, it is an excellent time to shop for gifts.  Just remind guests that the party is a “swap,” not a “drop” so that no one says, “I really don’t need anything, so I’m not going to shop…”  Otherwise, the hostess ends up hauling lots of stuff to the thrift store and it’s not nearly as much fun.

 

Vegan Beans and Greens Dip

16 ounces vegan sour cream

8 ounces vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise or Just Mayo from Whole Foods)

2-16 ounce bags frozen mixed greens or spinach, thawed, and squeezed out (I purchased organic 365 brand at Whole Foods)

2-14 to 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

About 1/2 cup oil-cured black olives, pitted

Approximately 2 tablespoons of your favorite spices or blends (I used a blend from Spice Ace in San Francisco, a gift from a friend, but use what you like; it’s hard to go wrong)

Sea salt to taste

Mix everything together, chill, and serve with crackers or toasts.

CCC&C--Betsy and Jonell
Hostess, Betsy DiJulio (in her hat from the swap), with Jonell Walthall, who brought a copy of The Blooming Platter Cookbook to be signed.
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Vegan 5-Minute Curried Figs Brulee (with or without Pesto/Chimichurri)–Fresh Figs with a Sweet and Salty Curried Crust

Curried Figs Brulee with PestoYield: 8 bruleed fig halves

As everyone probably knows now, when the rhythm of my life changed on July 30, so did my approach to cooking and eating.

For a week after my husband passsed away, I ate almost nothing.  But I have now segued to slightly more than nothing or what I call mini-meals.  They are gorgeous and nutritious, but they are tiny and, for folks eating normally, are perfect sides.  (These figs were today’s lunch with a peanut butter rice cake.)

Whereas, in days of old, communities rallied round those who had lost loved ones with heavy comfort foods.  In contrast, my tribe surrounded me, as I may have mentioned, with a bounty of fruits–figs and more figs–vegetables, salads, prepared vegan dishes, and vegan bakery treats that went into goodie bags for out-of-towners booked at the Westin for Joe’s (amazing) Celebration of Life.

My artist friend, Sheila Gioliti brought the biggest and the firmest figs which inspired this glorius oh-so-simple recipe.

4 large slightly firm fresh figs, stemmed and halved

2 teaspoons granualted or brown sugar (I use demerara)

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/8 teaspoon curry powder (mild or “warm”)

1/8th teaspoon smoked paprika

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon vegan pesto or chimichurri (or more to suit your taste)

Garnish: fresh basil or cilantro and pine nuts, roasted or not

Prheat broiler.  Arrange figs, cut side up, on a baking sheet.  In a small cup, whisk together sugar, salt, and curry powder.  Sprinkle on figs, dividing evenly among them.  Broil for 3 minutes or until surface of figs is slightly caramelized, but figs still hold their shape.  Top, if desired, with pesto or chimichurri and serve with fresh sprigs of basil or cilantro, and pine nuts.

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Vegan Bangkok Biscuit Stack: Filled Coconut Red Curry-Basil Biscuits

Vegan Coconut Red Curry-Basil Biscuit Stack

Yield: 8-2 inch biscuits (recipe easily doubles)

Woa!  I’m not one to brag, but these may be a “best ever” here on The Blooming Platter…

To celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook, the good folks at Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free have teamed up again to sponsor the ultimate Snackable Recipe Contest!

Contestants may enter two recipes in the Savory, Sweet, or Sippable categories and this is my second and final Savory entry.

I have to say, myy Vegan Bangkok Biscuit Stacks are every bit as irresistible as I thought they might be when the idea popped into my head yesterday (after an unmitigated disaster of an attempt with another idea the day before!).

Winner, winner, vegan dinner?  (Er, I mean snack.)

Quick recipe note: avoid omitting the teaspoon of vinegar or vegan fish sauce as it is necessary to interact with the baking soda for proper rise…and, boy do they rise!

Vegan Bangkok Biscuit Stack

3 tablespoons vegan butter, divided

1 cup all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon shortening (preferably frozen)

1 tablespoon prepared Thai red curry paste

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

Approximately 6 to 8-1 1/2 inch fresh basil or Thai basil leaves

1/3 cup So Delicious Original Coconut Milk Creamer

Pickled Veggies (recipe follows; make while biscuits bake)

Garlic Aioli (recipe follows)

1/3 cup caramelized onions or 8-2 inch grilled tofu squares, etc.

Garnish: 8 sprigs fresh basil

Preheat oven to 45o degrees.  Melt 1 tablespoon vegan butter in a 6-inch (or larger) cast iron skillet placed in oven.  Remove and set aside.  In bowl of food processor, place flour, baking soda, salt, remaining 2 tablespoons of vegan butter and shortening.  Pulse a few times until vegan butter and shortening are well-distributed throughout and dough looks like damp sand.  Add curry paste, vinegar or fish sauce, and basil leaves and pulse until basil is finely chopped.  Drizzle with coconut creamer and pulse until dough comes together in a ball and basil is minced, but still visible.   Note: you may cut the butter and shortening into flour mixture by hand, mince the basil, and mix all ingredients together with a fork if you prefer.  

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 3/4 inch disk.  Working quickly, fold in sides like you are folding a business envelope, pat into a 3/4 inch disk, turn a quarter turn and repeat 4 more times.  Cut with a 2 inch biscuit or cookie cutter or sturdy glass.  Place each biscuit into the prepared skillet, right side down, and then flip right side up to coat both sides with butter.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and, when cool enough to handle, spread each biscuit with 1/8th of the Garlic Aioli,  1/8th of the caramelized onions or a slice of tofu, and 1/8th of the Pickled Veggies.  Serve immediately, garnished with fresh basil sprigs.

Pickled Veggies:

8 thin slices cucumber

1/3 cup shredded carrots (I purchase pre-shredded)

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar or vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian markets)

Toss together in a small non-reactive bowl or carton and set aside.

Garlic Aioli:

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small cup, whisk together mayonnaise and garlic powder until well combined.

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Vegan Black Bean, Kale & Corncake Snack Stacks (with Garlic Aioli)

Black Bean and Corncake Snack StacksYield: 8 Black Bean and Corn Cake Snack Stacks (plus extra black bean filling)

 

To celebrate the release of the FREE Snackable eBook, the good folks at Go Dairy Free and So Delicious Dairy Free have teamed up again to sponsor the ultimate Snackable Recipe Contest!

My entry is the perfect little 3-bite snack that you can pick up to enjoy.  And they are simple to prepare.

Corncakes made with luscious So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk are the tasty foundation for these Snack Stacks.  A dab of mock Garlic Aioli–garlic powder whisked together with vegan mayo (raw garlic is a little too much of a good thing here)–anchors a mound of black beans, kale, onion, garlic, and spices cooked into a creamy mélange with So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk.

You can your stacks however you choose.  I like carrot shreds, cucumber slices, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a dusting of smoked paprika.  But avocado (to which I am, sadly, highly allergic) and grape tomato halves would be delicious, healthy and colorful too.

1/2 cup yellow corn meal

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 cup plus So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk

2 tablespoons creamed corn (a canned vegan product available at virtually all grocery stores) or 2 additional tablespoons So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk

2 teaspoons vegetable oil divided

2 teaspoons vegan butter, divided

Creamy Black Bean, Kale, and Coconut Milk Filling (recipe follows)

Garlic Aioli (Recipe Follows)

Optional garnishes: carrot shreds; thin cucumber or avocado slices, halved; cherry tomato halves; lime wedges for squeezing; and a sprinkling of smoked paprika

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornmeal, sea salt, baking powder, cumin, smoked paprika, coconut milk, and creamed corn.  Spray a large cast iron skillet with nonstick spray, place over medium-high, and heat 1 teaspoon each of oil and vegan butter.  As the butter melts, swirl to coat bottom of skillet.  Scoop batter, 1 level tablespoon at a time, into skillet and spread to about 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  Repeat to make 4 corncakes, cooking approximately 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.  Remove to a serving plate and repeat with remaining batter, beginning with heating the remaining oil and butter.  To serve, spread each corncake with about 1 teaspoon of Garlic Aioli, top with a heaping tablespoonful of the bean and kale filling, garnish as desired, and serve immediately.  Note: corncakes may be prepared ahead and kept well-covered until serving time.   

Creamy Black Bean, Kale, and Coconut Milk Filling:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion (half a medium), diced

Sea salt

1 cup coarsely chopped kale with thick stems removed

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1-15.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

Freshly ground black pepper

In the same skillet as you made the corncakes, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Add onion and a pinch of sea salt and sauté, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes or until softened.  Add kale and garlic and continue to sauté and stir for about 3 minutes or until kale is softened, but still bright green. Add all remaining ingredients and cook, stirring, for another 2 to 3 minutes or until ingredients reduce down and come together into a thick, fragrant, and creamy mixture. Season to taste with pepper and additional sea salt, if desired.

Garlic Aioli:

3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

In a small cup, whisk together mayonnaise and garlic powder until well combined.

Snackable-Recipe-Contest-Badge

 

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Vegan Baked Bean Crostini (the perfect use for July 4 leftovers!)

Baked Bean CrostiniYield: 12 crostini

My parents have a nack for making any simple run-of-the-mill meal or activity seem special.

When I was a kid, a favorite sandwich that my mom would whip up with leftover baked beans was simply cooled beans mixed with mayo and pickle relish served between slices of toasted white bread, with or without butter lettuce.

Make this delicacy yourself in minutes and watch it disappear!

Because I love to nosh, my modern twist on her tradition is simply to serve the filling openface on small pieces of grilled crostini.  I made these yesterday for an evening beach picnic with a good friend.  Bean-filled bliss!

 

Approximately 1 1/2 cups thick baked beans, chilled (I used a 15.5 ounce can of Bush’s vegan “Steakhouse” variety that I baked for about 25 minutes at 350 degrees to thicken and concentrate flavors)

2 to 3 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sweet or dill pickle relish

Optional: 2 sliced scallions, both white and green part (stir in or use as garnish)

12 thin slices lightly oiled and grilled or toasted bread (Italian, French, etc.)

Optional garnish: tiny sprigs of fresh basil

Stir together beans, mayo, relish, and opitonal scallions until combined.  Pile on top of grilled bread and garnish with basil.  Serve immediately.

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