Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day Plus One

I had to work last night, so Steve and I exchanged gifts while I was home in the morning and skipped the candlelit-dinner-for-two thing.  I think this way was nicer, especially since last year Al's Upstairs' limited Valentine's Day menu had no veg-friendly entrees and I had to talk them into making me a plate of pasta alfredo (or something similar).

Tonight I was off, so I had time to whip up a pasta dish similar to the one on p. 76 of the January-February issue of the Vegetarian Times.  (I'd post the link, but they haven't put it on their website yet.)  Their recipe called for baby spinach and asparagus, but I substituted kale because I had (actually still have) it in abundance.  What I made was basically this:

Black Pepper Linguine with Garlicky Kale and Chardonnay Sauce

Cook 4 ounces of pasta according to package instructions (this is enough for two and you can pretty much use whatever you've got; in VT they used fettuccine).  Drain and set aside.

For the sauce: Puree one cup raw cashews and one cup water in a food processor until smooth.  Simmer one cup of Chardonnay in a small saucepan until it has reduced down to 1/3 cup.  Mix in the cashew cream, one tablespoon of nutritional yeast, one tablespoon lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  If the sauce comes together before the pasta or the kale, keep it on low heat and add water as needed to keep it from drying out.

For the kale: Heat one tablespoon olive oil in large saucepan or pot over medium heat.  Add about 4-5 cups of chopped kale plus two cloves garlic (chopped) and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until wilted (or slightly more than wilted).

Once everything is ready, toss the pasta in about half of the sauce, put it on two plates and cover each bed of pasta with half the cooked kale.  Ladle 2-3 tablespoons more sauce over the kale and serve.
In a couple of days I'll do my first 20-mile training run since the foot injury resolved that forced me to take most of January off from running.  Here's hoping I'm still around to tell the tale, and later to tell the tale of when I ran the Columbia Marathon...

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Tale of Two Stir-Fries

Well, the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart ended two weeks ago and I've decided to stick with being vegan for the duration.  This wasn't really my plan, but then, neither was being vegetarian.  We'll see how it goes.

Saturday evening after work (I work every other weekend.  Always fun.  Not.) I chopped up about half of the veggies I recently bought with a stir-fry in mind.  Why only half, you ask?  Well, because half seemed like enough for one meal plus one or two meals worth of leftovers.  It also occurred to me when I put the other half back in the fridge that I could stir-fry the same veggies a different way later on.  So, I made a Chinesy (I make no claim as to authenticity) stir-fry for us on Saturday and an Indian stir-fry for dinner tonight.  If you ever find that you have an overabundance of several veggies that hold up well in a stir-fry, give something like this a try!
The Chinesy stir-fry came out well and was simple enough, now that the fine folks at MediterrAsian have given me the confidence to do Asian stir-fries with or without coconut milk or red curry paste:

2 tbsp canola oil
1.5 cups (approx.) baby carrots, quartered lengthwise
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
1.5 cups snap peas, ends trimmed
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1 cup vegetable broth
salt and crushed red pepper to taste
2 tbsp corn starch mixed with 2 tbsp cold water

Heat oil over medium heat in work or wide saucepan.  Add carrots, garlic and ginger and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add snap peas red bell pepper and cook another 3 minutes.  Add hoisin, soy sauce and Chinese five spice powder and stir well.  Add broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes.  Check flavors and add salt and crushed red pepper as needed.  Add cornstarch mixture and stir often as sauce thickens to a glaze.  Remove from heat and serve over rice.
Then tonight I chopped up the snap peas, carrots and red bell pepper for an Indian-style stir fry.  The spices are all from a mixed vegetables recipe in my Indian cookbook, but the veggies that I used were different because hey - it's what I had.  Also a winner!

2 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp urad dal
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup baby carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1.5 cups snap peas, cut in half and ends trimmed
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

Heat oil in a wide saucepan over medium heat.  Add next four ingredients, cover and heat until mustard seeds start popping and urad dal is golden brown.  Add onion and tomatoes, stir and cook for one minute.  Add turmeric and stir.  Add remaining veggies, stir well and cook for 3-5 minutes.  Stir in tomato sauce and remaining spices.  Blend seasonings well and cook for another minute or two.  Add about half a cup of water to make it saucier and so that veggies don't burn.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3-5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.  Serve over rice.
Well, it seems that winter's finally here.  Today I actually had to wear running tights and a knit cap for the first time since I started running again post-foot injury.  I don't know about groundhogs; for me, dark-eyed juncos are much more reliable in the meteorology department, and I saw a bunch in my backyard a couple of days ago - always a sign of cooler weather to come. 

Stay warm, eat and be healthy!