Vegan Sunny Souk Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad

Sunny Souk Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salad

Yield: 4 servings


“Sunny” because of this salad’s golden color and bright pop of citrus, and “souk” because it is redolent of an Arab marketplace, you will love Sunny Souk Sweet Potato and Chickpea Salad however you choose to enjoy it: over greens, stuffed in a wrap or pita pocket, scooped with veggie chips and more!  It is even veg(etarian) teenager approved!

*2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1-15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 pound cooked sweet potato, peeled and diced (I microwave the potato, allow it to cool a few minutes, remove skin–feed to dogs!–and dice)

1/2 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and diced

Zest of 1/2 large lemon (don’t omit this little bit ‘o brightness!)

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and garlic powder.  Add chickpeas, sweet potato, and red bell pepper.  Toss lightly to distribute dressing.  Add lemon zest, salt, and pepper, and toss one final time.  Serve immediately or chill, covered, until serving time.

*I have just discovered a delicious brand of vegan mayo not advertised as vegan but as “egg free” at Whole Foods called “Just Mayo” that I highly recommend.  I also love Veganaise and my own Blooming Platter Mayo (in my cookbook).


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Vegan Chickpea, Sweet Potato, Kale, Green Olive, Dried Fruit and Cashew Tagine

DSCN0776 Quick!  Before winter is a faint and distant memory, you will want to tuck into this amazing melange featuring kale and oh-so-much-more!

The balance of flavors and textures is exquisite…if I do say so myself.

When I created this recipe, it was without the spicy green olives.  And it was so delicious.  But the next time I prepared it, I decided to add them for a little zip, and it was beyond!

Serve up a healthy and heaping portion of this tasty tagine and feel good for all the right reasons!

Click HERE to go straight to my recipe as published by my pals at One Green Planet.

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Vegan Moroccan Grilled Eggplant, Onion and White Bean Spread

What would I do without my indoor grill pan?

This recipe is just one more reason why I love that pan so much.  It is so basic: just a cast iron square grill pan by Lodge. But it transforms humble ingredients like early fall eggplant into magic.

Smoked paprika in the dish and sprinkled on top plays off of the char grilled caramelization of the veggies just perfectly.  And the golden colors of the spread personify autumn to me, while the bed of fresh chives are the perfect fresh green counterpoint.

Speaking of colors…can anyone find the back of our beautiful brindle Great Dane, Minnie, in the photo?  Whenever there is food around, that girl is never far away!

Find the easy recipe HERE at One Green Planet.

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Blooming Platter Cookbook Giveaway Reminder PLUS Vegan Chickpea Sausages with Roasted Apples, Onions, and Jalapenos with Cashew Cream & Pomegranate Molasses Drizzle

This Mediterranean riff on sausage and sauerkraut is perfect for Oktoberfest.  A fresh take on its forebear, my version will perfume your kitchen with warm North African spices when its cool outside.  And the presentation is so special, yet simple, that you can turn dinner into a dinner party.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: you will need to make the Cashew Cream a day in advance.

Cashew Cream

You will have lots of leftover, but you’ll be glad you do!

2 cups raw cashews, divided in half

2 cups water, divided in half

Sea salt to taste.

In a covered bowl, soak 1 cup cashews in 1 cup water overnight in the refrigerator.  Rinse and drain.  Process the cup of soaked cashews with the additional cup of raw unsoaked cashews and the remaining cup of water in a food processor for several minutes, or until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add salt to taste, process just to combine, and store covered in the refrigerator.

Vegan Chickpea Sausages

1 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1-15.5 ounce can)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos

1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pinch of sea salt

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Freshly ground black pepper or white pepper to taste

Roasted Apples, Onions, and Jalapenos (recipe follows)

Accompaniment: 8 cups of very lightly packed fresh baby spinach lightly barely sauteed in about 4 teaspoons of olive oil over medium high heat for about 30 seconds to 1 minute

Optional Garnish:

Cashew Cream (recipe is above)

A drizzle of Pomegranate Molasses (available at Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Markets)

Tear off 4 sheets of foil about 6 inches wide. Place a steamer basket in a 4-quart saucepan and fill with water just to the bottom of the steamer. Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, mash the chickpeas and garlic until creamy. A few small pieces of beans may remain. Stir in the vegetable broth, olive oil, and Worcestershire sauce, and set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk together vital wheat gluten, salt, coriander, cumin, paprika, and pepper.  Pour the bean mixture into a well in the center of the dry ingredients and, using a fork, stir the dry ingredients around the edge of the bowl into the wet center until all of the ingredients are completely combined.

Divide the dough into four equal parts. Place each part on a sheet of foil and shape into 5 to 6-inch long logs about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, pressing mixture together fairly firmly. Lay each log along one long edge of the foil and roll snugly, bending up the foil at the ends. Place the logs into the steamer–either  vertically or horizontally, two on the bottom and two on top of them–and steam for 40  minutes, adding more hot water to the saucepan
if necessary to prevent it from evaporating completely.

Remove the sausages from the steamer and unroll them when cool enough to handle. Be careful that you don’t burn yourself with escaping steam. At this point, I like to split the sausages lengthwise and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side on my stovetop grill pan.  Serve the sausages on a bed of the lightly sauteed spinach topped with the roasted apples and garnished with a dollop of cashew cream and a drizzle of pomegranate syrup.  While the sausages steam, make roasted apples.

Roasted Apples, Onions, and Jalapenos

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 gala apples (or your favorite sweet-tart variety), stemmed, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each

1/2 of a large Vidallia or other yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slivers

1 jalapeno, stemmed, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/8-inch slivers (you can use two if you choose, but that makes for a really spicy dish!)

Sea salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Pour olive oil into a large metal roasting pan.  (If the ingredients are crowded, they will steam instead of roast.)  Add remaining ingredients and toss to coat with the oil.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring after 10.  Remove the pan from the oven and serve as described above.


Blooming Platter Cookbook Giveaway

For more than 150 additional mouthwatering recipes to celebrate all year long, I invite you to check out The Blooming Platter Cookbook: A Harvest of Seasonal Vegan Recipes.

Enter to win you very own copy by clicking here.  Deadline is Saturday, October 8 at midnight!

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Vegan Moroccan Chickpeas and Eggplant Topped with Marrakesh Olive Pesto

An unforgettable dipping sauce for the warm homemade bread at Marrakesh Palace in D.C. inspired this olive pesto, and the pesto inspired the rest of the dish.

I was introduced to the pesto, which has no name that I know of, with my wonderful friend Allison when we visited D.C. in August.  We stayed at the Hotel Palomar in Dupont Circle which happened to be just two doors down from Marrakesh.  On my evening walk, it caught my eye and the posted menu was seductive, so we strolled down for a late dinner at around 9.  (How very cosmopolitan of us.)

We sat on the tiny patio on a perfect night eating when we weren’t talking and talking when we weren’t eating (waking up hoarse the next morning!).  Our lovely meal consisted of the bread and pesto dipping sauce, a flavorful Moroccan/Lebanese white bean dish called Loubia, and vegetable soup with glasses of Ksara.

Though I don’t claim that any part of my dish is authentic, it is delicious.  As far as the pesto, our server told us what was in it, and I made up the proportions.  I can’t remember, though, if onion was one of the ingredients, but fearing raw onion might overwhelm the other flavors, I didn’t include it.

While I could eat my weight of bread dunked in the pesto–and I think I did–tonight for dinner, I wanted something more nutritionally balanced that I could call a meal.  Chickpeas sounded perfect, so I scooped up a can at the grocery store on my way home from school.  I knew that I had an onion, garlic, and a red bell pepper that would be pretty and delicious with the them.  But, much to my delight, I also had an eggplant that I had bought at a farm market during this last gasp of summer.  (Note that, for some reason, I’ve become averse to eggplant skin, as I’ve found it unappetizing in a couple of dishes recently.  So, for this dish, I removed the skin; but if you like it, leave it on.)

One of the most appealing aspects of this dish, both the chickpeas and the pesto–besides the flavor–is all of the fun ways it can be served: as a crostini toppings, as a pita bread or other pizza topping, as a pita sandwich filling, or over a bed of sauteed greens or couscous.  And that’s just for starters.  But the filling and pesto also pairs beautifully in my Taco Morocco!  I’d love to know how you serve it.

Marrakesh Olive Pesto

2 cups pitted green olives

1/2 of a medium tomato, cut into chunks

1 stalk celery, cut into chunks

1 small carrot, peeled and cut into chunks

2 large cloves of garlic

1/4 cup flavorful extra virgin olive oil

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients except olive oil and salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped and pulpy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Add the olive oil, salt and pepper and pulse a few more times until well combine and a bit smoother.  Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Transfer to a serving bowl or airtight storage container.  If not using immediately, store, covered, in the refrigerator.

Moroccan Chickpeas and Eggplant

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 of a medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

sea salt

2 cups 1/2-inch eggplant cubes (I peel the eggplant first)

1/2 cup fresh tomato puree

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1/4 cup water or dry red or white wine (the flavor will be different, but still delicious)

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses (available at Middle Eastern or Mediterranean markets)

1 tablespoon agave nectar

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pinch of red pepper flakes or to taste

Zest of 1/2 of a small lemon (about 1 teaspoon)

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley (or 1 teaspoon dried)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to shimmering in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and a pinch of salt and saute, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened and some golden color starts to develop.  Add the eggplant and remaining tablespoon of oil an saute, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the eggplant is softened and taking on some color.  Add the tomato puree, garlic and bell pepper and cook another5 minutes.  Add water or wine and remaining ingredients, except lemon zest and parsley, and heat through, stirring continually, until the water cooks down and the mixture becomes very thick, which happens quite quickly.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.  Stir in the lemon zest and parsley and remove from the heat.  Serve warm topped with Marrakesh Olive Pesto as is or on grilled bread as a crostini, as a pizza topping or pita sandwich filling, or over a bed of sauteed greens or fluffy couscous.

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Vegan Taco Morocco

My Vegan Moroccan Chickpeas and Eggplant with Marrakesh Olive Pesto makes a beautiful taco filling.

To save time, you can use prepared taco shells, but I like to make them the way my mam-ma taught me:.  They’re a little oilier, but oh-so-flavorful and softly crisp rather than shatteringly so:

Line a plate or platter with paper towel or a brown paper bag.  If making more than a couple, preheat oven to the lowest setting.  Heat a thin layer of canola oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Hold a corn tortilla in a U-shape with the lowest part touching the bottom of the skillet.  I allow about an inch of width to rest on the bottom so that there is a nice space in which to spoon the filling.

Being careful not to burn yourself–you can use tongs if you prefer–hold the taco shell in this position for 0r so seconds until brown and crispy.  Then lay it on it’s side and fry the first side another 30 or so seconds until golden brown.  Gently flip it and repeat.  While each side is frying, I like to use tongs or a spatula to hold the top flap away from the bottom one so that they don’t stick together.  Drain on the lined plate and keep warm in the oven.  Yes, this takes more time, but it’s so worth it!

Stuff each shell with some of the Chickpea and Eggplant Filling followed by the Olive Pesto.  If you have cilantro, tuck a little of it inside for delicious flavor and color contrast.  To serve, lay each taco on a serving plate, dollop with some vegan sour cream, and garnish with whatever you like, say, more cilantro, almonds, olives, or even a tiny tomato wedge.

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Vegan Tunisian Zucchini and Chickpea Flour Fritters with Pomegranate-Maple Syrup

Yield: 8 fritters

I only stopped eating because there were no more.

These fritters are a beautiful brunch dish, appetizer or side dish.  Warmly spiced and golden with flecks of bright green, they are the perfect foil for my Vegan Pomegrante-Molasses Syrup and the tiniest dab of vegan sour cream.

Last night I attended an art opening with my close friends, Trish and Ken Pfeiffer.  When we returned to their house, I saw their bountiful rosemary bush and lamented that mine had not done well this summer.  So Trish snipped me off a big bag full of beautiful piney stems.   Once home, I drifted off to sleep thinking about what delectable dish I would make with it.  Actually, I went to sleep watching a devastating program about the 9/11 terror attacks, whose 10th anniversary is today, but my dreams were perfumed with rosemary.

I should never walk the dogs on an empty stomach, but I did this morning, fantasizing for two miles about what I would whip up when we got home.  With a zucchini in the fridge from my last run to the farm market and North African flavors on my mind from what I’ve been cooking lately, I came up with Zucchini and Chickpea Flour Fritters flavored with some spices that scent the food from that part of the world.  

But, when I had lowered my nose into the fragrant bag of rosemary last night, something told me that it would be delicious paired with chipotle peppers in adobo.  Not having any, but instead having some chipotle chili powder, I used it and arrived at the non-traditional but subtlely intoxicating spice mixture, that makes these fritters extra special.

For serving, they are delicious topped with my chutney (search “chutney” on this site for some tasty ones), Moroccan Chickpeas and Eggplant, Marrakesh Olive Pesto and believe it or not,  plain maple syrup.  But if you want to send them right off the charts, by far the most simple, interesting, and addicting is my Pomegranate and Maple Syrup with a tiny dab of vegan sour cream.


1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon onion powder

1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

Sea salt to taste

1/2 cup unsweetened soymilk

1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 cups lightly piled grated zucchini, including the skin (avoid packing zucchini shreds)

Canola oil for frying

Pomegranate-Maple Syrup

Vegan Sour Cream

Rosemary leaves for garnish

Line a platter or plate with paper towel or a brown paper bag.  In a medium bowl, whisk together all fritter ingredients, except zucchini and canola oil, until well combined.  Avoid over-mixing.  Lightly fold in zucchini just until well distributed.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high, heat a 1/4-inch layer of oil.  Drop batter by rounded tablespoons into the oil and cook approximately 3 minutes on one side until golden brown.  Gently flip and repeat.  Lower the heat if necessary to allow you to cook the fritters for this amount of time, which they will need to be cooked completely through.  Note: the fritters may look golden and crispy on the outside, but not cooked completely through, which is why timing them is necessary.  Remove the fritters to the prepared platter or plate to drain and then transfer them to serving plates.  Serve immediately drizzled with Pomegranate-Maple Syrup and topped with a tiny dollop of vegan sour cream and a couple of rosemary leaves.

Pomegranate-Maple Syrup:

Note: This is not so much a recipe as the most basic of formulas.

1 part Pomegrante Syrup (available in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern markets)

4 parts maple syrup

Whisk together in a small bowl until well combined.

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My Friends and I Ate Like (Vegan) Field Hands at Founding Farmers in D.C.

Vegan "Fish" and Chips at Founding Fathers Restaurant in D.C.

What’s better than introducing two of your nearest and dearest?

Nothing, unless it’s introducing them over a fabulous lunch at the hip and eco-sensitive restaurant, Founding Farmers!

In the middle of July, Allison Price, a close friend from my time in Nashville some 20+  years ago, spent a week here in VA Beach.  In the middle of the week, she and I headed to D.C. for an overnighter.

Our visit included lunch with Sonya Harmon, another close friend from some 10+ years ago when we worked together at the Contemporary Art Center of VA, followed by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden.

Allison, Betsy and Sonya at Founding Fathers in D.C.


Sonya now lives in the D.C. area and generously took the afternoon off from work so that she could join Allison and I for lunch and a little museum-going.  Both of these gifted gals coincidentally now work as editors and feel they’ve known each other for a long time.  Our lunch destination was Sonya’s spot-on recommendation.   Another coincidence:  Joe and I and another couple with whom we spent New Year’s Eve in D.C. had tried to get into Founding Fathers for brunch on New Year’s Day, but it was too crowded.

I am patting myself on the back for trying it again, as I enjoyed one of the most satisfying restaurant meals in recent memory.  Granted, the company was tops, which added to the experience immeasurably, but the restaurant was beautiful and comfortable in an eco-chic way, the service friendly and professional, and the food outstanding.  I splurged on the vegan “Fish” and Chips from their vegan menu and, for the record, I did NOT eat all of the chips and fries!

But I devoured the fried tofu “fish” and wasn’t hungry again until 9 p.m., and then only because our hotel, Hotel Palomar (fabulous!) at 2121 P Street, NW,  was next door to a magnificent Moroccan Restaurant called Marrakesh Palace where we dined on soup, chickpeas, and homemade bread spread with this nearly indescribable “pesto” of tomatoes, onions, garlic, celery, carrots, olives and olive oil.

The next morning, Allison and I drove to Baltimore with one destination in mind: the American Visionary Museum.  It came highly recommended by Trish and Ken Pfeifer, local collectors of “outsider art” among other genres who make an annual sojourn to the museum, and we weren’t disappointed.  In fact, we were thrilled.  It was such a refreshing change of pace from the rarefied atmosphere of the “Fragments of Time and Space” temporary exhibition at the Hirshhorn and their too often BS-ridden text panels.  A couple of pieces in the exhibition were noteworthy.  But too much of it fell in the “Emperor Has No Clothes” category.

Don’t get me wrong: I love contemporary art, worked as a contemporary art museum education director for 11 years, and frequently incorporate it into my studio art classes.  But precisely because I find so much of it so deeply meaningful, I cannot abide pseudo-intellectual/academic art or writing about it.  Sorry folks: too often the emperor has doffed his drawers!

The American Visionary Museum proved to be a peak artistic and cultural experience, worth enduring the stop-and-go traffic during our 6-hour ride home (which should have taken about 4 1/2).   Al and I talked until we were hoarse.  In fact, that morning, our eyes and mouths had snapped open simultaneously and we didn’t close them for a good 15  hours!

Betsy and Bus, American Visionary Museum, Baltimore
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Vegan Tunisian Tostatos with Vegan Lemon-Chili Cream

Yield: 4 servings

I love playful twists on fusion cuisine, especially when the result is a fun to eat, like  a tostato.  In this case, I combine my love of Mexican and Southwestern food with the seemingly more exotic flavors of Tunisia.

The finished dish is beautiful, healthful and a little surprising.  But it works, probably because cumin and coriander are spices common to both cuisines.  Plus, the lentils function similarly to pinto or black beans on a tostato:  a creamy-chewy counterpoint to the crisp tortilla.  By itself, the lentil mixture is mouth-watering, but it is transformed into something extraordinary when crowned with a drizzle of the silky Lemon-Chile Cream.

These are irresistible bejeweled with ruby-red pomegranate seeds and crunchy green pistachios, encircled with fresh chopped cilantro, and crowned with a plump dried apricot.

Vegan Lemon-Chili Cream

1/4 cup vegan sour cream

juice of 1/2 of a lemon

dried chili flakes to taste

pinch of sea salt to taste

In a small cup or bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Set aside.

Vegan Tunisian Tostatos

canola oil

4-6 to 8-inch whole wheat tortillas

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium, yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 large garlic cloves, sliced

1 large red bell pepper, stem, membrane and seeds removed, cut in half crosswise and then into 1/4-inch strips

sea salt to taste

12 dried apricots, chopped

8 sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

3 tablespoons hummus

1 tablespoon tahini

2-4 tablespoons water

juice of 1/2 of a lemon

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 1/2 cups steamed lentils (should be firm enough to hold their shape)

Garnish: 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 4 dried apricots, pomegranate seeds, chopped pistachios

Preheat the oven to warm.  Line a baking sheet with paper towels.  In a large cast iron skillet, heat a thin layer of oil to shimmering over medium-high heat. Fry tortillas, one at a time, for a minute or two on each side or until lightly browned and crisp, adding more oil as necessary.  Remove each on to the prepared baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven.

To make the lentil mixture: whisk together hummus, tahini, water, lemon juice and all spices until well combined.  Set aside.  Heat olive oil to shimmering in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, and a pinch of salt, and saute, stirring almost continuously, for 3 minutes.  Add the apricots and sundried tomatoes and saute, still stirring, for 2 more minutes.  Add hummus mixture, cilantro and lentils, and cook, stirring continuously, until well combined and heated though.

To serve, place each tortilla on a serving plate, mound with 1/4 of the lentil mixture, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro around the perimeter, spoon 1/4 of the Lemon-Chili Cream over the lentil mixture, and garnish with a dried apricot, a few pomegranate seeds and some chopped pistachios.

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