Red-White-and-Blue Salad in Blue Corn Chip “Stars”
(red beans & white hominy with a blueberry garnish)

Red-White-and-Blue Salad 2Yield: 4 servings

When Joe was alive (that would be just last July 4), we weren’t much on traditonal July 4 celebrations.  Without either of our families here, the backyard family BBQ was not part of our repertoire, and we weren’t devoted “beach people,”–though I love to walk/hike on the beach–so Independence Day would not find us picnicing or out on “the boat” with patriotic fare.

But this year, Kelley, a young female attorney from Joe’s office–someone who he mentored and whose work he respected–is becoming a good friend and invited me to her family’s festivities at her father’s in-town lake house.  Wanting to contribute something to the feast, but not quite sure what since I don’t know her family’s likes and dislikes, I had to channel my late mother.  She loved theme food and theme attire for just about any holiday.

Being somewhat of a “lite and healthy” eater, I decided on a protein-rich salad of red beans and white hominy.  When I saw that, based on the photo on the bag, blue corn chip “cups” look like stars, I knew I would make little salad cups.  After I had made them, though, I felt the  “blue” component needed to be more “true blue,” as the chips are so earthy.  I had blueberries on hand, but I was a little skeptical, despite liking fruit in savory dishes.

There was no need to worry, as the berries provide a little burst of juicy freshness that compliments the lime-spiked sour cream-based dressing perfectly.  And if you want a little fireworks on your tastebuds, I think a hint of minced red jalapeno would be just the ticket.

Happy Independence Day!

Red-White-and-Blue Salad

(Best made at least 2 hours before serving.)
Red-White-and-Blue Salad 1

1-15.5 ounce can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1-15.5 ounce can white hominy, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (or mayo)

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or soy sauce

1 teaspoon granulated sugar (I use demerera)

1/2 teaspoon stone ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Optional: 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast and/or 1/4 teaspoon minced red jalapeno pepper (Seeds and membranes removed), or to taste

Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Garnish: Fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried

In a medium bowl, combine beans and hominy.  In a small bowl, whisk together all remaining ingredients except blueberries, pour over beans and hominy, and toss gently to combine.  Chill for a couple of hours, if possible, to allow flavors to marry.  Serve in blue corn chip “cups” garnished with a fresh blueberry.

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Vegan Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell Peppers
(Delicious as a cracker topping or sandwich filling)

Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell PeppersYield: 2 main dish servings or 4 side servings

Summer is meant for grilling, right?  Yea, no.  At least not at my house.  I’ve never been an outdoor griller, but I do have a much beloved stovetop grill pan that I use year-round.

A craving for caramelized onions and peppers with a bit of protein from some plump little white beans was the inspiration for this salad.  But these ingredients needed something creamy to hold it all together.  A little while back, I had made a beet green pesto–though any flavored pesto, commercial or homemade would be delicious–and decided to fold it into “lite” vegan mayo (I like Vegenaise brand) in a 1:2 ratio for the dressing.  Yum!

The only drawback was aesthetic.  Despite the red bell pepper, the overall color of the salad was pretty brown. Not wanting to add a green vegetable, as its consistency and flavor was just right as it was, I simply chopped up a little cilantro–although other green herbs would work nicely as well–and sprinkled it over the top.

This salad is filling enough to eat on its own, perhaps atop a bed of greens, but I like it on cracker bread for crispy-crunch.  The salad also cries out to be tucked into a wrap or stuffed in a pita pocket.

Regardless, you’ll be crying for more.

Vegan Cannelini Bean and Pesto Salad with Grilled Onions and Red Bell Peppers

1 can cannelini beans (white beans), rinsed and drained

1 onion, halved, sliced crosswise, grilled on both sides for a few minutes over medium-hi, and cut into pieces

1/2 red bell pepper, halved, sliced crosswise, grilled on both sides for a few minutes over medium-hi, and diced

2 tablespoons vegan pesto, any flavor (I used a homemade beet green pesto)

Approximately 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1/4 teasoon garlic powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Garnish: finely chopped cilantro, chives, parsley, or other fresh green herb

In a medium bowl, gently combine beans, onion, and red bell pepper.  In a small bowl or cup, whisk together pesto, mayonnaise, and garlic powder.  Spoon over vegetables.  Fold together until completely combined, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over greens, on crackers or toast, or in a pita or wrap.

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Vegan Smoky Grilled Asparagus and Chickpea Salad
in Raddichio Cups

GrilledAsparagus and Chickpea Salad in Raddichio CupsYield: 4 to 6 servings

I am constantly seduced by produce and, once I return home, scramble to make sure it doesn’t meet a soggy end in the bottom of the hydrator drawer.

Most recently, it was big, bulbous, juicy bell peppers–a red, orange, and a yellow–and asparagus.  The can of cannelini beans I thought I had in the pantry turned out to be garbanzo peans (chickpeas), but that was just fine as a protein.  Being a fan of creamy beans combined with something juicy and crunchy, like cucumbers or bell peppers, I knew I would add one of the bell peppers.  But I wanted an earthy flavor to contrast with the neutral-flavored beans and the almost sweet snap of the bell pepper.  Grilled asparagus!

Then all my salad needed was a binder.  I happen to love mayonnaise, especially the low-fat variety of Vegenaise.  This creamy white base was perfect for me, but if you prefer an oil and vinegar-based dressing, by all means; you just won’t get the same bind unless you emulsify it really well in a food processor or blender.

To boost the fresh tasting flavors, I added a bit of basil chiffonade leftover from a Thai soup the night before.  And for a burst of brightness, the juice of half a lemon, though you could use the zest if you only wanted the lemony flavor without the astringency.  Finally, because I had chickpeas and not cannelini beans, I added a little hit of sumac, though if you don’t have it and can’t find it at an international or Middle Eastern market, it is not a deal breaker.  But it imparts a little more earthy lemon flavor and a hinit of red color.

To add a note of pleasing bitterness and to contain the salad without need of bread or a cracker, raddichio leaves proved to be the perfect little cups.  Plus, for both reasons of nutrition and aesthetics, I like to enjoy as many colors of vegetables as I can all at once, so the deep red-violet brought its beauty and healthful benefits to the party.  The perfect party hat?  A few chopped smoked almonds.

1 bunch slender asparagus, trimmed, grilled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (I trim about 1/3 of the bottom of the stalk, and grill in an indoor grill pan lightly sprayed with nonstick spray for about 8 to 10 minutes, turning every every few minutes, as I like it quite caramelized.)

I 15.5 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

1 orange bell pepper, diced

1/4 to 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1/2 teaspoon sumac

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

About 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade (stack leaves, roll rightly, and cutinto very thin slices)

4 to 6 Raddichio leaves

Garnish:: about 4 to 6 tablespoons coarsely chopped smoked almonds

Combine all beans and vegetables in a medium bowl.   Make a well in the center, add remaining ingredients, except raddichio and smoked almonds, whisk together and then begin to incorporate into beans and vegetables until all are coated evenly.  Dividie and serve in raddichio leaves garnished with about 1 tablespoon of chopped smoked almonds.

 

 

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Day 18: Indian Cauliflower with Black Mustard Seeds AND Orange Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ Julie & Julia Style”

Indian Cauliflower(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 decided to tackle two recipes. In the interest of full disclosure, my reason for this was that I had doubts about both dishes so I figured if I didn’t like the one then hopefully I would like the other.

So the first one is Indian Cauliflower with Black Mustard Seeds. Because I have put in my time at the grocery store spice displays, I had most of the spices needed…except for the elusive black mustard seed. I went to my usual stores and even went to Kroger which is out of my way, but I did it and got nothing. I even tried Target! I jokingly said that I could turn my own dang mustard seeds black – I’m a pro at burning things! So I ended up with regular mustard seeds. I followed along with the directions and while I am stirring the beautiful and now orange cauliflower (thanks to the turmeric), I was also stirring the “yellow” mustard seeds over high heat in the butter and oil.

I was feeling like a pretty accomplished cook stirring two pots at once and all of a sudden the mustard seeds started popping like popcorn – all over my arm and then all over the stove and counter tops! Who knew mustard seeds could do this?? There should have been a warning label! But seriously who tries popping mustard seeds? I quickly took it off the heat and looked in the pot and the remaining mustard seeds were, in fact, black. Well mission accomplished! There they are – black mustard seeds!

Orange Salad with Cumin VinaigretteThe recipe then said to “drizzle” the mustard seed mixture over the cauliflower – mine sorted of plopped over it in chunks but I spread them out to look like it was drizzled. While this one cooled a little I started on my next recipe – the Orange Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette. I gathered all the ingredients and discovered that the olives I had purchased especially for this from the olive bar at the grocery store were half gone. My husband admitted he just couldn’t help himself. Ok so now I am cutting the recipe in half – not a problem! (I knew they wouldn’t eat it anyway).

This recipe came together with no mishaps in about five minutes. It could not have been easier. The presentation was really pretty with the orange and green together. Now for the taste test. The cauliflower was good but it lacked the pizzazz of the other recipes according to my family. This was totally my fault for not using the correct mustard seeds and then only half the amount seeing as how the other half of the seeds were spread around my kitchen. The orange salad was really good but very intense so I decided I would add spinach leaves and make it more of a traditional salad. My guys would have nothing to do with this one (fruits have no place in their salads) so you’ll just have to take my word on it.

And…if I ever see black mustard seeds I am buying them and trying this again- as long as they are not the price of cardamon or saffron that is.

~Kim Hastings

Kim Hastings

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Day 3: Vegan Spicy Grilled Pear and Spinach Salad–Cooking “The Blooming Platter Cookbook” Julie & Julia Style

Pear Salad(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.)

 

If I were to channel a Southern Living or Martha Stewart magazine article, I would say today’s recipe, Spicy Grilled Pear and Spinach Salad, is a delight to the senses. The preparation is effortless and the presentation would make a beautiful addition to a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

But seriously, here’s how it really went down. It is a well known fact that my family hates fruit anywhere near their salads. I would have to blindfold them to get them to try this recipe. I, on the other hand, love salads with fruits. So I prepared this just for me as my lunch.

First I prepare the vinaigrette but my whisk is in the dishwasher so I simply shake it up in a covered bowl. Done! Next I core and cut the pear. Unbelievably, I have a corer so I tried it out, but it left the core in the pear so I just popped the core out of each slice. Perfect! I prepared the marinade in a small bowl as directed but no way could I get the pears coated in there so I scraped the marinade out with my finger (spatula also in dishwasher) and straight into a ziploc bag and threw in the pears. That works.

Kim Cooking PearsOk wait. I don’t own a grill pan so how will I get the desired grill marks?? You got it – 14 degrees outside and I’m wiping snow off the grill and firing it up. I will have grill marks! I lay the pears all out and wait two minutes as directed. No grill marks. Ok fine. Two more minutes. No grill marks. This went on for 14 minutes. Once I saw a faint grill mark appear I placed them on a plate and went inside. Looking at the photo now, I may have been imagining the grill mark but I was freezing!

Finally I got to arrange it all on the plate and decided the photo should be taken in the snow. Once I brought the plate back inside, there was snow all over the bottom, so I tried to wipe it off and almost dropped the whole beautiful plate right in the sink. Story of my life! Almost!

I have to admit that, while crunching on the smaller pears as I waited at the grill, I wasn’t sure about this recipe – that is until I tasted all the flavors together, including the toasted almonds. Incredible! Seriously incredible! So far I have really liked every recipe. But then again I have not chosen one with tofu yet. Stay tuned!

~Kim Howard Hastings

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Day 1: Announcing An Inspired New Project–“Cooking ‘The Blooming Platter Cookbook’ a la the movie ‘Julie & Julia’ for my Omnivorous Family”: Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Roasted Cauliflower Salad(Today begins a series of sequential installments 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.)

Note: Links to each installment will be added to the bottom of this post as we go along.

Why would an omnivore with a vegan-phobic family decide to do a Julie and Julia style challenge through The Blooming Platter vegan cookbook?

Simple! I decided I was tired of planning dinner every night and then deciding what to choose for the token vegetable on the plate – usually frozen or canned and then quickly microwaved just before serving. I just want to give the veggie equal footing with the other options on the plate. Am I crazy to hop scotch straight to vegan? Maybe just a little but here goes!

Since the book is divided into seasons, I decided to start with winter. I counted up 37 recipes and 39 days till spring. Unfortunately I will not be making my way through the soup section and I will tell you why. As a kid my family struggled financially and there were times we had nothing except the soups that people were kind enough to make for us. I will be forever grateful for their generosity, but I just don’t eat soups now.

I chose my recipes for the next week and went shopping. It’s no secret I would much rather shop for, well, anything except groceries. Yes even auto parts! And yes it was excruciating finding ingredients. I looked for a scallion for 20 minutes. I called home to ask my husband what exactly a scallion might look like. He was no help. I asked a gentleman next to me and he referred me to his wife who was so sweet and led me straight over to them without a trace of pity in her eyes.

Ok on to … Walnut oil??? There’s such a thing? An hour later I was done. Thankfully.

My recipe tonight was Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette. I started by following the directions about how to slice the cauliflower, fully expecting mine to be in crumbles on the cutting board but surprisingly they were beautiful. I kept reading and looking for the difficult part but there wasn’t one! It’s hard to screw up whisking oil, vinegar and mustard. And crispy capers!! Who knew??

I always avoid eating capers because I have no idea what they are (still no clue!) but crisp them up and you seriously no longer care what they might be–they are that good.

Overall I liked this recipe. My son said he would not have eaten it without the capers and my husband added ghost pepper seasoning–but then he adds that to everything. Biggest score of the night: no one knew it was “vegan”!!!

 

~Kim Howard Hastings

Kim Hastings

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Along…

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Day 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

 

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Vegan BLT Chickpea Salad

BLT Chickpea SaladYield: 4 servings

Back in the day, I loved a BLT.  But, these days, I love cruelty-free BLTs even better.  I mix up all the traditional ingredients using my favorite bacon subsititute and serve a mound atop a rice cake–this is the self-proclaimed Year of the Mini-Meal after all–with a garnish of homegrown basil for freshness.

1-15.5 ounce can chickpeas

4 slices cooked vegan bacon (choose your favorite brand or make your own from tempeh)

6 Romaine heart leaves, stacked and cut into 1/2″ slices

1 medium tomato, cored and diced

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 rice cakes

4 sprigs fresh basil

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except rice cakes.  Drizzle some of the dressing that will collect at the bottom over the cakes to slightly soften.  Then, mound one-fourth of mixture atop each cake and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.  Serve immediately with a sharp knife and fork.

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Vegan Southwestern Quinoa Confetti Salad (Perfect for a Father’s Day cookout!)

Southwestern Quinoa Confetti SaladThis delicious salad was inspired by one I enjoyed at Pompano in NYC.  I use more ingredients–including the kale, tomatoes, cucmbers, and optional black beans–because if the salad was scrumptious without them, it would be even better with.

Yield: 6 servings

1 cup uncooked quinoa (I used a mixed colored variety)

2 cups water

Sea salt

1-15 ounce can yellow hominy, rinsed and drained

Optional: 1-15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (not included in accompanying photograph)

1/2 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 cup coarsely chopped kale

2-6 inch cucumbers, diced

Approximately 12 grape tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1/2 large lime

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon chile powder

1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, or to taste

Optional: 1 tablespoon nutrition yeast

 

In a 2-quart saucepan, combine quinoa, water and a teaspoon of sea salt, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partially covered, for about 15 to 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender and water is absorbed/evaporated, stirring occasionally.  Meanwhile, preheatoiled  grill pan over medium high.  Place onion slices in one half of pan and kale in the other, lightly salt, and grill for about 3 minutes on each side or until nice caramelized grill marks appear.  Combine quinoa, hominy grilled onion and kale, cucumbers, and grape tomatoes in a large non-reactive bowl.  In a small cup or bowl whisk together olive oil, lime juice, and all spices, seasoning to taste with additional sea salt.  Pour over salad, sprinkle with cilantro and optional nutritional yeast, and gently toss to coat completely.  Note: I like to enjoy a couple or three servings of the salad without the black beans and then add them to the leftovers to enjoy for a another few servings.

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Vegan Tomato-Tuna Stack

Tuna and Tomato StackYield: 4 servings (very light)

I love my Vegan Tuna Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Apples, Capers, and Fresh Dill on sandwiches, crackers, toasted bagels, and more.

But since I am the only one in this house who eats it–though, Minnie would love it–I had enjoyed quite a bit of it that way and wanted something different for dinner one evening last week.  Something that was light, cold, fresh, and maybe a touch hydrating as it’s already pretty hot and humid here in Coastal Virginia.

That’s when I remembered that, growing up, a popular “ladies’ lunch” was a scoop of tuna salad tucked inside a tomato, often with the top trimmed into a kind of zig-zag.  And recently, I had seen on that most unlikely of vegan inspirations, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” a sauce that I was Jonesin’ for: mayo, mustard and Worcestershire.

So, not wanting to fool with hollowing out a tomato, nor wanting to waste any of this big beauty from the farmer’s market, I cut two thick slices, sandwiched my “tuna” inside, placed the stack on a bed of sprouts, and whipped together my vegan version of the Triple D sauce.  Voila: dinner!

This may well become a go-to summer meal at my house and, hopefully, at yours.

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon Liquid Aminos or vegan Worcestershire Sauce (soy sauce would be fine in a pinch)

1 cup sprouts

8 large, 1/2-inch thick slices of fresh tomato

1 cup Vegan Tuna Salad with Sunflower Seeds, Apples, Capers, and Fresh Dill

 

12 large capers

Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl or cup, whisk together mayonnaise, mustard and Liquid Aminos until well-combined.  Taste and adjust proportions if desired and set aside.  Arrange one-fourth of sprouts on 4 plates and top each with a tomato slice.  Divide vegan tuna salad among the 4 tomato slices and spread gently to edges.  Top each with a remaining tomato slice, dollop with one-fourth of the sauce, garnish with 3 capers each and finish with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper.  Serve immediately.

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