a simple summer pizza & salad

Even though the thought of turning my oven up to 500 in the summer makes me want to take an ice bath, I really wanted to make a simple summer pizza for dinner. I found this recipe for Caramelized Onion & Artichoke Pizza from Eating Well, and paired it with a salad of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, cucumber, avocado, and basil, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and ground coriander. Actually I used one yellow heirloom tomato, and a bunch of really fresh organic sliced grape tomatoes. I also bought pre-cut watermelon (if you think I’m buying a whole watermelon to tackle in a kitchen without counter space, you’re crazy). You could also add feta, or any sort of similar cheese, to this if you wanted.

Heirloom tomato & watermelon salad

For the pizza, I didn’t use the dough recipe they suggested. I wanted to use whole wheat dough, and intended to make it myself (you can just google whole wheat pizza dough recipes and find one you like), until I realized I was running out of time and ended up cheating and buying a round of pre-made whole wheat dough from one of my favorite stores, Union Market. Despite a few frustrations rolling out the dough (again, counter space… and the fact that my rolling pin is used to hold the window open), and the oven filling my apartment with smoke, it was a success! Really delicious. (And note: without the sprinkling of parmesan cheese, it would be totally vegan).

Caramelized onion & artichoke pizza


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 7

Day 7: Brunch
A Sunday morning and the last official day of Vegan Week clearly calls for pancakes. Blueberry pancakes! I came across this simple recipe and replaced the soy milk with almond milk, since that’s what I had in the fridge. The pancakes fluffed up very nicely and tasted great. My boyfriend said he’d eat these pancakes in place of regular pancakes any time.

Vegan blueberry pancakes

Day 7: Dinner
I ate seitan (mock duck) last night, but I still hadn’t cooked with it, so on tonight’s menu was Seitan Gyros with vegan tzatziki sauce and arugula salad. I made a slightly different twist on this recipe, mostly with changes to the tzatziki sauce. I used plain coconut yogurt, because I didn’t see any plain soy at the store, just flavored (another recipe I saw suggested toffuti sour cream which actually might have been the best choice here). There was still a lot of sweetness to the coconut yogurt though, so I left out the sugar, doubled the lemon juice, replaced the dill weed with oregano, and added two large cloves of minced garlic, and a dash of cayenne, cumin, and paprika. The coconut yogurt is still an odd consistency if you’re used to greek yogurt, but it tasted good once I added all that extra spice. I got lazy and bought seitan strips so I didn’t have to shave a 1 pound block of seitan. The cooking itself was a little tricky – I think I needed more oil maybe? – but the gyro, once assembled, came out great! But very messy.

Seitan gyro with vegan tzatziki sauce

 

Day 7: Dessert

You can’t do a whole vegan week without attempting to make a dessert. And anyone who knows me knows my addiction to peanut butter.

Vegan peanut butter blondies

So vegan peanut butter blondies? Yes please! Insanely simple to make, but definitely heed the advice to wait until completely cooled until cutting (I couldn’t wait to taste it, so the edge crumbled). They were so good I had to give a bunch away otherwise I was afraid I’d eat the entire pan full. If these couldn’t fool a non-vegan, nothing could.

So this ends vegan week. I have to say I didn’t miss much except seafood. No cheese, egg, or meat cravings, no mood swings, and I feel like I’ve eaten a ton this week and never felt deprived or hungry! There are still tons of vegan recipes I’d like to make in the future, and I will try to post them when I do.


Vegan Week, Day 6

If there’s anyone out there who’s actually reading this on a daily basis, you might be wondering, “Wait, what happened to Day 5?” Well, I did eat only vegan foods on Day 5 but I didn’t have time to cook anything or write about it, as my dog went in for unexpected surgery.

Spirulina almond milk banana shake

I threw together an almond milk banana shake with spirulina (I did find spirulina finally) – a small photo here. Yes it’s very green, and so good for you. I forced myself to eat some leftovers from the past few days while my dog was at the vet, and then we ordered in dinner so I could keep a close eye on the little patient. Actually, dinner is worth noting: we tried a vegan restaurant in Park Slope, The V-Spot, which has a wide range of Mexican, Italian, and Asian vegan food. It was good! We shared crispy nuggets with barbeque sauce as an appetizer, and then my boyfriend got the Philly Cheese”steak” (soy steak, onions, peppers, mushrooms and soy cheese), and I got a whole wheat quesadilla with soy cheese, chipotle black beans, sweet plantains, green peppers and onions. And the dessert menu sounded completely awesome. Anyway, on to Day 6…

Day 6: Brunch

Curry tofu scramble with wilted spinach

A few weeks ago, we went to a restaurant in my neighborhood that I love, Flatbush Farm, where I had a curried tofu scramble with sauteed kale for brunch that I dreamed about for the next few days. So I went looking for a recipe that sounded similar. There are several out there, and I decided to try this one. I didn’t have fennel seeds but I think that’s ok. It was really good, especially on top of a slice of whole wheat toast. The Flatbush Farm version had some kind of delicious sweetness to it though, so next time I’ll try adding honey (not vegan) or sugar or agave. Just a note – it is very spicy, so you should reduce the chili pepper flakes if that’s an issue.

Day 6: Dinner
We had planned to meet up with friends on the Upper East Side for dinner. At first, without thinking too much about it, we decided on an Italian restaurant, and I thought I could just find some sort of veggie pasta and ask them to hold the cheese. About three hours before dinner, the chef side of my brain woke up and I realized that I’ve made my own pasta before and there is usually egg involved. A quick call to the restaurant (which really made me appreciate what full-time vegans must go through all the time) confirmed that there was egg in all of their pasta dough. So it was either survive on a side salad for dinner or come up with plan B. Thankfully everyone was nice about changing plans at the last minute to accommodate my crazy food challenges, so we ended up at Tiny Thai.

Thai vegetarian “duck” in chili basil sauce

I felt adventurous and went for the “Vegetarian Duck” in chili basil sauce. I figured it wasn’t something I was going to make at home, so I should try it. Delicious! Of course it didn’t have the same consistency as duck, but if you’re prepared for that and like seitan, it’s really good. (But I have to admit I did want a bite of Chris’s red snapper).


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