grilled tilapia with mango salsa & andean quinoa & corn salad

My second attempt at a recipe from the Moosewood Restaurant farm fresh meals card deck was an Andean Quinoa & Corn Salad. Having started the dinner planning with a side dish, I thought fish with some kind of fruit salsa might go well as a main. I found this recipe (slightly embarrassed to say) from Oprah’s O magazine online: Grilled tilapia with mango salsa. Although I have made a great veggie lasagna recipe from there, so I shouldn’t dis Oprah so much.

Grilled tilapia with mango salsa & Andean quinoa & corn salad

For the quinoa salad, rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa under running water several times and set aside to drain. I used red quinoa instead of white since I thought it would look more colorful with the corn. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in a saucepan, add 1 tsp paprika, and stir constantly for about 1 minute. Add the quinoa, 1 1/4 cups water, and 1 tsp salt, cover, and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Meanwhile, I steamed two ears of fresh corn (you can use frozen corn kernels if you like), cut the kernels off the cobs, and and set them aside in the refrigerator. Heat 2 tbs olive oil and sauté 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp cumin, and 1 tsp coriander until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1-2 chopped bell peppers (I used red), a fresh hot chili (seeded, stemmed, and minced), and 2 tbs chopped cilantro, and sauté for another 3-5 minutes. In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and the sautéed vegetables and chill. Finally, stir in the corn, 1 large chopped tomato (I used the equivalent amount of chopped cherry tomatoes), parsley (if desired), 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, salt, and black pepper.

This turned out to be a great mix of flavors – perfect for dinner on a hot summer night! If you’re only cooking for two people there will be plenty of leftovers. I tossed the leftover mango salsa in the food processor today, pulsed a few times to make it less chunky, and am bringing it to a barbeque today to eat with some blue corn chips.

edamame salad

So I did an extra day of vegan-ism, unintentionally really. I had so many leftovers in my fridge to eat! My friend Jonill came over for dinner last night, because I had promised to make her veggie sushi after my first attempt last week. This time I did an avocado-cucumber roll and a tofu-carrot-grilled asparagus roll, both made with brown rice. I also made the veggie summer rolls with peanut dipping sauce that I made for Vegan Week day 2. I had some edamame in the freezer, and wanted to make some sort of edamame salad to round out the meal. Most of the recipes I saw involved corn, which is not what I was going for. I came across this recipe though, which was perfect. I had to go buy furikake (after looking up what it was first!) and I just used one large orange pepper instead of five small multicolored peppers – which would have made it look even more colorful than it did. I also sauteed the shiitakes briefly in sesame oil, because they didn’t taste that great after just soaking in water. Now to think of things to do with a giant container of furikake…

Edamame salad with shiitake, orange pepper, and furikake

Vegan Week, Day 4

Day 4: Breakfast

Fat free vegan apple banana muffins

I had been trying to make everything so far without turning on my oven, because it’s summer and I didn’t have air conditioning, and in a tiny studio apartment you’ll basically bake yourself to death using the oven. However, on Tuesday when the temperature outside hit 98 degrees and humid, and the temperature INSIDE my apartment hit 95 even with three fans going, I broke down and ran out to buy an AC. So now I can use the oven! Time to experiment with vegan muffins for breakfast. I chose an apple banana muffin recipe because the ingredients were super simple. Preheat the oven to 325 and lightly grease muffin pans. Combine 2 cups flour, 4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon and mix (I also added a dash of nutmeg and cloves). In a separate bowl, mash two ripe bananas and combine with 1 1/2 cups of apple juice and a diced apple. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until blended. Fill each muffin cup about 2/3 of the way and bake for about 35 minutes or until brown on top. They didn’t rise very much, but I think they were pretty good for being fat free AND vegan!

Day 4: Lunch

Tempeh "chicken" salad sandwich

You can’t go vegan without trying to cook with tempeh and seitan, so today I went for a tempeh recipe: Tempeh “chicken” salad. When I got to the store, I realized there are many different flavors of tempeh – soy, flax, garden veggie, three grain, wild rice, or smoky strips (fakin’ bacon). I chose three grain; it sounded like the best option to me for fake chicken salad. I followed this recipe but used a little cilantro instead of parsley, added more celery, and reduced the amount of vegenaise. Served with baby arugula on a whole wheat pita. It was good, but didn’t taste a thing like chicken. Also, I would leave out the pickle next time.

Day 4: Dinner
It’s Thursday night Brooklyn Bridge Park free movie night (Ghostbusters!) so tonight’s dinner was a picnic with a group of six friends. My contribution was homemade hummus and pita chips and “tabouleh boats,” a quick appertizer idea I got from my friend Erika (it’s just boat-shaped endive leaves filled with tabouleh – a middle eastern salad of bulgur, parsley, tomato, onion, mint, lemon, and olive oil). I’ve made hummus before, but I wanted to see if there was a recipe that didn’t require tahini. It’s annoying having leftover tahini around, because the only thing I can think to do with it is, well, make more hummus. So of course, Heidi Swanson to the rescue – she has a recipe that uses ground toasted walnuts instead of tahini. Put 3/4 cup toasted walnuts (just toast chopped walnuts in a pan for a few minutes until they start to get that toasty smell) in a food processor and pulse it a few times. Add two cups of cooked drained garbanzo beans, a clove of garlic (or more if you like – I do!), 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. Process until smooth and then add about 1/2 cup of hot water slowly until the hummus is creamy. Add more lemon and salt to taste. Serve with pita chips (I baked whole wheat pita in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 with olive oil, salt, and pepper) or veggies. Garnish with paprika, some extra garbanzo beans, a drizzle of olive oil, pine nuts, or any combination of those. I do think I like the taste of tahini hummus better, but the walnut version was cool to try.

Tabouleh boats and homemade hummus with baked pita

an experiment with radish tops

I went to the farmer’s market this morning and was excited to find summery goodies like radishes, strawberries, and sugar snap peas. (I’m still counting the days until I find peaches out there though… stay tuned for my peach avocado salsa!).

Farmers Market finds

Farmers Market finds

As I was walking home, I started wondering if you could eat the radish tops. It seems weird and wasteful to cut off the radishes to eat and throw away a huge pile of leafy greens. But I knew some research would be required; some vegetables have toxic parts that you’re not supposed to eat, like the tops of rhubarb. After a little googling, I’d learned that radish greens can be eaten – raw, juiced, in soups, or braised or sauteed as you would other tough greens like mustard greens or swiss chard. The only warnings were of the pungent peppery, bitter flavor which some people don’t like. I also found out that the radish greens are high in potassium and folate, and have six times as much vitamin C as the radishes themselves.

So I got to work. I knew I didn’t want to make a soup (it’s June and I have no AC) and I don’t own a juicer. One touch of the brittle prickly leaves told me I didn’t want to try them raw either, so I started hunting for a recipe ideas that involved pan cooking. I came across an Asian stir-fry type recipe from Kalyn’s Kitchen, and decided to use that as a guide but alter it based on what ingredients I already had.


Separating radishes from radish tops

I didn’t have peanut oil so I used sesame oil. I also doubled the amount of garlic, and didn’t remove it before adding the greens (if you’re not as obsessed with garlic as I am, stick to the original recipe). And I substituted honey for the agave nectar in the sauce and added more sriracha (I have a high tolerance for heat). I was really skeptical as I was chopping the greens. They are very rough and have almost a needle-y hairlike quality to the leaves. After I sauteed them, I took a taste before adding the sauce. I have to say they were probably too bitter to be enjoyed without some sort of seasoning help. But after I added the soy-rice vinegar-honey-sriracha sauce? Delicious! And, as of an hour after eating them, I haven’t collapsed yet. So let’s hope all those people on the internet were right about radish tops not being toxic.

Sauteed radish greens

Final product: sauteed radish greens w/ garlic & asian sauce