Wednesday, August 12, 2009

In the Garden, Part Two

Today we bring the garden indoors as I show you how to make one of my favorites: Salade Niçoise with Fresh Herb Vinaigrette. This dressing will easily convert you from the store-bought variety, and is really versatile for adorning salads of greens, potatoes, or pasta. Recipes are below.

Fresh Herb Vinaigrette
About 1 cup
The vinaigrette can be prepared several days in advance; give it a good shake before serving. Do try to use fresh basil, even if the other herbs are dried. Substitute up to a tablespoon of balsamic or apple cider vinegar for the wine vinegar, and reduce the amount of oil, if you like.

2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons wine vinegar (red, white, or a combination)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon any liquid or granulated sweetener
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, or 1 ½ tablespoons dried: parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, tarragon, dill, rosemary ¼ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil

In a smallish bowl or 2-cup measure, combine everything except the olive oil. If you have other kitchen faffing to look after, allow the mixture to sit for several minutes so the flavors meld.

Whisk the oil into the vinegar mixture in a steady stream until emulsified. The vinaigrette will keep, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to a month.

Salade Niçoise
6 entrée servings
With a good loaf of bread and crisp white wine, this French bistro-style salad is a perfect casual meal. For something more substantial, add 1 ½ cups Great Northern beans, tossed with several tablespoons of the vinaigrette.

1 pound potatoes (about 3 medium, any variety will do), cut into ¾” chunks
1 pound green beans, strings removed, cut into 1 ½” segments
1 pound mixed greens (about 12 cups spring mix, chopped romaine, chopped red or green leaf lettuces)
1 pound tomatoes (about 3 medium), or 1 pound grape tomatoes
3 tablespoons capers
¾ cup Niçoise olives

1 recipe Fresh Herb Vinaigrette

Steam potatoes until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Shake dry, and transfer to a medium bowl. Gently toss with about 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette, and set aside.

Steam green beans until bright green, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat, top with a handful of ice cubes, and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Shake dry, then transfer to a medium bowl. Toss with about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette, and set aside. If using medium tomatoes, slice into eighths.

Mound the mixed greens in a large bowl or deep platter. Arrange potatoes, green beans, and tomatoes in individual mounds or concentric circles over the lettuce. Sprinkle capers and olives over.

Serve with remaining vinaigrette on the side. Any leftovers will keep well.

In the Garden, Part One

Last Winter, when conversations drifted to Spring, I'd mention that I might like to attempt a garden. Immediately, I'd be met with suggestions! book recommendations! enthusiasm! If you were watching across the room, you'd witness an abrupt change in body language as I leaned away, nodding slowly, eyes glazing over. Politely excusing myself, I would retreat to a corner and maybe have a small panic attack.

There is an abundance information out there, and once you enter the realm of soil ph and composting and bolting, it can seem really daunting.

Then one day, I stood in a downtown bookshop, and overheard two people in the gardening section:
"So I'm just supposed to plant stuff in the ground? And it's just going to grow? That's it?"

And that was all I needed.

I made this short vid to show a bit of my garden in the hopes that you'll do as I did: just plant stuff in the ground, and let it grow. There's some thinning and watering in the process somewhere, but that's very simple. Growing my own food has been wonderful. It's vegan. It's organic. And it's thriving.

So there it is! Please excuse my daughter's appearance in the herb garden. She decided to forgo her daily constitutional, and join me instead.

Tomorrow, watch Part Two, where I'll show you how to make a classic French dish, Salade Niçoise. Served with a vinaigrette made from fresh herbs in the garden, it's a simple meal that shows off the Summer's best.

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Veggie burgers, with homegrown sprouts

I have to mention how wonderful it is (really, really wonderful!) to live with a man who likes to cook. And when he makes veggie burgers from scratch, and suggests an impromptu picnic on the porch, it is the sort of thing that makes me visibly sag against the kitchen wall, it's such a meltingly impressive gesture.

This recipe is adapted from the February/March issue of ReadyMade magazine, featuring the organic, solar/vegetable oil-powered commissary Green Truck on the Go. I've adjusted the amounts of some things, because 2 tablespoons of cumin, for example, sounds like an obscene amount, and they were excellent made with far less. Refrigerate or freeze any remaining mixture, and you'll have the makings for fresh burgers on hand whenever you like.

Mother Trucker Veggie Burgers
about 1 dozen burgers

2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped crimini or white button mushrooms
2 cups chopped carrots
1 small can tomato paste
1/8 cup soy sauce
4 cups textured vegetable protein
3 cups water
1/4 cup tahini
1/8 cup yellow mustard
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon basil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons coriander
sprouts and sliced tomatoes, for serving

Saute onions & garlic for 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and carrots, and saute for 5 to 7 minutes. Add tomato paste & soy sauce, & mix. Stir in the textured vegetable protein. Add water, tahini, & mustard, & simmer until the liquid is evaporated.

Transfer contents to a large bowl, and allow to sit until cool enough to touch. Stir in flour and spices, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Shape the mixture into patties & cook on a grill or in a saute pan.

Once patties are cooked, place on buns spread with veganaise and Dijon mustard, and top with seasonal sprouts & tomatoes.

Working, on burger and mobile device

Miss One, who rocks a motorcycle diaper, and a serious love of hummus and avocado