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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Menu 7: Spiced Sweet Corn Soup, Mozzarella Pesto Melt, Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok-Steamed Collards and Quinoa, Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles...

Photo credit: Lolo at www.veganyumyum.com

When I was growing up, and would occasionally go out to eat with my family, I dreaded the moment when our food would arrive. Because, when our food came, it was not time to eat. “Wait, wait,” my mom would say. Despite collective groans from my brothers and me, she’d use her fork to poke around each dish, explaining, “I want to see how they made it, so I can make it at home.”

What was the point of going out to eat if we weren’t going to just enjoy our food? Did we have to reconstruct each recipe as we were eating?

Some years, later, I have (admittedly) become my mother (only now, I type notes into my BlackBerry while I’m eating.)

In this week’s menu, I continue to enjoy Lauren’s delicious recipes from Vegan YumYum, and aim to recreate two of the dishes I’ve enjoyed at restaurants in the last week. And, in the spirit of mothers, I bring you a recipe for soup from my friend Arathi’s mom. Enjoy!

This week’s dishes:
Spiced Sweet Corn Soup and Spring Greens Salad (in Teriyaki Ginger Lime dressing)

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok-Steamed Collards and Quinoa

Mozzarella Pesto Melt

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles

This week’s menu:

Dinner: Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok-Steamed Collards and Quinoa
Cook: Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok-Steamed Collards and Quinoa, Mozzarella Pesto Melt (For Monday’s lunch)

Lunch: Mozzarella Pesto Melt
Dinner: Tofu with Collards and Quinoa
Cook: Mozzarella Pesto Melt (for Tuesday’s lunch)

Lunch: Mozzarella Pesto Melt
Dinner: Spiced Sweet Corn Soup with Spring Greens Salad
Cook: Spiced Sweet Corn Soup with Spring Greens Salad

Lunch: Spiced Sweet Corn Soup with Spring Greens Salad
Dinner: Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles
Cook: Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles, Mozzarella Pesto Melt(for Friday’s lunch)

Lunch: Mozzarella Pesto Melt with Sweet Corn Soup
Dinner: Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles
Cook: Prepare Spring Greens Salad for Friday lunch

Lunch: Spiced Sweet Corn Soup with Spring Greens Salad

This week’s recipes:

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok-Steamed Collards and Quinoa
Since I’ve read and heard so much about the nutritional benefits of quinoa, I’ve been looking for easy quinoa recipes with flavorful components – and this looks like it.

Click here for the Tofu with Collards and Quinoa recipe.

Mozzarella Pesto Melt
This is a simple sandwich that has incredible flavor because of the pesto – cilantro and walnut, instead of the traditional basil and pine nut combination. When we ate at the Chaco Canyon Café, and I ordered this sandwich, my boyfriend was surprised that I actually did a better job of ordering than he did. (This does not usually happen.) He was also happy that it was simple enough (for me) torecreate (for him).

Ingredients for cilantro walnut pesto:
2 cups, cilantro (packed down)
8 tablespoons, olive oil
2/3 cup, walnuts
Juice from 1 lemon
2 cloves, garlic
Paprika, to taste

Ingredients for sandwich:
1 foccacia roll
2 tablespoons, cilantro-walnut pesto
2 slices, vegan mozzarella cheese
¼ small red onion, sliced
½ small tomato, slices
1 handful, alfalfa sprouts

1. Pulse cilantro and olive oil in food processor or blender. (Add a bit of water if it’s not mixing well in the blender.)
2. Add remaining ingredients for pesto, and pulse or blend until smooth.
3. Spread 1 tablespoon of the pesto on each half of the foccacia roll.
4. Layer one slice of mozzarella on each half of the focaccia roll.
5. Layer one half of focaccia roll with red onion, tomato, and sprouts.
6. Place other half of sandwich on top of layered ingredients. Enjoy!

Note: Store the remaining pesto in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Spiced Sweet Corn Soup
Since I’ve started the blog (and feeding my roommate, Arathi), Arathi has wanted to contribute to the cooking that’s happening in the apartment. She’s tried her hand at chickpea tacos, and on Saturday, I came home to the smell of vegetarian chili wafting down the hall. Here, she shares her mom’s recipe for spiced sweet corn soup.

4 cups, water
2 cubes, vegetable bullion
2 tablespoons, Earth Balance vegan butter
1 sweet onion (Vidalia), chopped
½ teaspoon, coriander powder
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon, curry powder
4 cups, fresh white corn kernels (frozen is ok, too!)
1 cup, unsweetened coconut milk
Salt, to taste


1. Bring 4 cups of water and 2 vegetable bullion cubes to boil in a saucepan. Reduce to medium heat, and stir occasionally until cubes have dissolved. Once cubes have dissolved, turn heat off.
2. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, stir, cover, and let cook for five minutes.
3. Stir in coriander powder and curry powder and cook for 1 minute.
4. Add corn and vegetable broth and cook for 2 minutes.
5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
6. Remove pot from heat. Stir in coconut milk. Set aside for 30 minutes, allowing flavors to infuse.
7. Transfer all soup, except for 1 cup, to blender or food processor and puree. (You may have to do this in batches.)
8. Return soup to pot. Add reserved cup back to soup. Season with salt to taste. Serve!

Spring Greens Salad
This salad is inspired by one that I ate at Café Blossom on Saturday. I couldn’t find jicama when I went shopping – so I took it out of the salad. But, if you can find it, add about ¼ cup of diced jicama.

At Blossom, the pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds were “tamari toasted”. In an attempt to recreate this, I will mix the pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds in about ¼ cup of tamari, and then “toast” them in a pan over low heat for about 3 – 4 minutes, stirring and flipping occasionally. You can also just use them raw in this salad.

Ingredients for salad
1 cup mesclun greens
1/3 pint of cherry tomatoes
1/3 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup carrot, shredded
1 ½ tablespoons, pumpkin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons, sunflower seeds

Ingredients for dressing
6 tablespoons, fresh lime juice
8 tablespoons, teriyaki sauce
3 tablespoons, honey
2 teaspoons, ground ginger
1 teaspoon, salt

1. Mix all ingredients for salad in a large bowl.
2. Whisk all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl.
3. Toss salad with 2 tablespoons of dressing. Serve.
4. Store extra dressing in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Notes: The ingredients that you are buying for this salad for the week are enough for 3 servings. The first two are dinner and lunch, back to back. The third is lunch on Friday. The recipe above is for one salad serving. So, on Tuesday night, I am going to make two servings worth – save the rest of the cucumber, tomatoes, and carrot (unchopped and unshredded) for Thursday evening, when I will cut them fresh and prepare Friday’s salad. Always store the dressing separate from the salad – this will keep the salad from becoming soggy. Additionally, I buy loose mesclun greens – so at the store, I am putting them into a plastic produce bag. But, when I bring them home, I transfer them into a plastic storage container (it has locks that snap shut on the sides), and store in the fridge. Keeping them in a box like this will help them stay fresh – don’t store salad greens in those plastic produce bags from the store. Alternatively, you could buy the greens that come in a plastic box.

Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles
While I’m so far from being a raw foodie, I enjoy having a raw, (or nearly raw, in this case) dish occasionally because it’s super fresh, and also is cleansing and energizing. Having a food processor makes this dish super quick, because you can chop all of the vegetables in it. While I’m now coveting a VitaMix, the food processor was definitely one of my best kitchen purchases.

Click here for the Nearly Raw Tahini Noodles recipe.

This week’s grocery list:
This morning, I got all of my produce from the farmer’s market, and everything else I needed from the grocery store – and the total bill was just over $40. (I do already have most of the oils and spices, but it just shows how inexpensive this is!)

1 bunch, cilantro
1 bunch, mint
1 bunch, collard greens
4 stalks, fresh white corn (frozen is ok, too!)
3 cups, mesclun greens
1 head, green cabbage
1 stalk, broccoli
1 pint, cherry tomatoes
2 roma tomatoes
1 cucumber
3 carrots
3 limes
1 lemon
2 bulbs, garlic
1 sweet onion
1 red onion
1, 8 oz. package, sprouts

Oils, Spices, Condiments

Coriander powder
Cumin powder
Ground ginger
Black pepper
Curry powder
Vegetable bullion cubes
Vegetable oil
Red Chilli Flakes
Cinnamon sticks

Canned and Bottled Goods
(Buy these items in a size that you feel is appropriate for how frequently you cook.)
Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce
Rice vinegar
Chili sauce
Stone-ground mustard

Dry Goods
¼ pound, pumpkin seeds
¼ pound, sunflower seeds
¼ pound, sesame seeds
½ pound, walnuts
1, 12 oz. package, quinoa
1 package, whole wheat spaghetti
4 foccacia rolls


20 oz., frozen white corn kernels (don’t buy this if you’re buying fresh corn)
Earth Balance vegan butter
1, 8 oz package, vegan mozzarella

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Call for Recipes!

I've always believed that if I left NYC, I'd find it hard to enjoy eating out as a vegan. And, thus far, on my long weekend away, I've pleasantly been proven wrong by the city of Seattle.

Last night's dinner at Cafe Flora was one of the slowest meals I've ever eaten - because I wanted to make it last as long as possible. One of my tasks this week will be to figure out how to re-create their artichoke croquettes. This might be a good place for me to start.

So, as my tastebuds continue their exploration of the Pacific Northwest for the next day and a half, I'm not posting a menu this week...But, for next week -

I'd love to put together a menu of recipes from friends and fans - so send me what you've got! Please be sure to include all ingredients, quantities, and step by step instructions. If you have photos, send those along, too! And, if you have your own blog or website, send me the address - I'll be sure to link the recipe to your site. If you're using a recipe that you've adapted from somewhere else, please be sure to include the information on the original source.

Send all recipes to themenudrawer@gmail.com, and look for a new menu next Saturday!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A "mini" Menu 6: Enchiladas, Lemon Pepper Pasta, Mac and Cheese (Take 2)...

Photo credit: Lolo at http://veganyumyum.com

This week’s menu was born of two thoughts as I poked around in my refrigerator this morning –
1. I wasn’t 100% satisfied with the vegan mac and cheese I last made, and have a craving for a better approximation of the ultimate comfort food.
2. I saved the remaining chipotle peppers in adobo sauce from last week’s saucy, hearty, creamy with a kick seitan sandwiches – and could I make an enchilada sauce with them?

Therefore, this week, I’m eating:
  • Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce
  • Mac and Cheese (Take 2)
  • Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli

(Oh, and it’s a mini because I’m going out of town for the long weekend – and flying out Thursday night means it’s only a four-day cooking week for me!)

This week’s menu:

Dinner: Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce
Cook: Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce

Lunch: Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce
Dinner: Mac and Cheese
Cook: Mac and Cheese

Lunch: Mac and Cheese
Dinner: Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli
Cook: Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli

Lunch: Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce
Dinner: Mac and Cheese
Cook: Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli (for next day’s lunch)

Lunch: Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli
Dinner: Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce
Cook: --

This week’s recipes:

Enchiladas with Chipotles–in–Adobo sauce
Mexican is my go-to food.

Once, for an entire week, every time my roommate wanted to order food, I wanted Mexican.
Almost every time I’m eating something non-Indian with my parents, it has to be either Mexican or Thai food. (This is because as Indians (from the South Asian subcontinent), they can only consume foods that are spicy. Ok, they can eat other foods – but who else asks for Tabasco sauce at Italian restaurants? )

It may also have something to do with the fact that I am often mistaken for being Latina. (My cousin Amit actually has introduced me to people as his adopted cousin “Julia”, alternatively from Cuba, Spain, Mexican, and the Dominican Republic.)

As a result of some mix of the above experiences and tendencies, I really like Mexican food, and thus here is my recipe for Enchiladas:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ cup of chilli powder
2 cups of vegetable stock (from bullion cubes)
10 ounces tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt

(Note: Because I have leftover adobo sauce from last week, I am going to use 2 tablespoons of chilli powder, and 3 tablespoons of adobo sauce. If you don’t have the adobo sauce, however, just use the chilli powder as listed above.)

1, 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1, 15 oz. can of red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup water
1 packet Ortega taco seasoning

Cooking spray
6 whole-wheat tortillas
2 small red onions, diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
¾ cup cheddar almond “cheese”, shredded (for inside enchiladas)
¼ cup cheddar almond “cheese”, shredded (for on top of enchiladas)

The sauce:
1. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cornstarch. Stir and cook for one minute.
2. Add the chilli powder and cook for 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the stock, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste.
4. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally - the sauce will thicken.
5. While the sauce is simmering, you should move on to preparing the beans, and chopping the vegetables. If the sauce is done simmering before you’re done assembling the enchiladas, cover, turn off the heat, and let it sit until you’re ready to pour it over the enchiladas.)

The beans:
1. Put beans and ¼ cup of water into blender. Pulse until beans are smooth. You may have to mix the beans around with a spoon in between pulses to make sure they all get crushed.
2. Transfer beans into small pot. Over medium heat, mix in one packet of taco seasoning. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow the beans to warm until it’s time to assemble the enchiladas. (While you’re preparing the other ingredients, stir the beans occasionally.)

The enchiladas:
1. Spray a 9 x 12 baking pan with cooking spray. Pour ½ cup of the enchilada sauce into the pan. Spread with the back of a wooden spoon so that the bottom of the pan is covered with a light layer of sauce.
2. In their pot, portion the beans into about six equal servings (just use a spoon to separate into halves, and then each half into three sections).

For each enchilada:
a. Spread a portion of beans down the center of the tortilla.
b. Layer the tomatoes , onions, and cheese on top of the beans.
c. Roll the tortillas, burrito-style, and transfer to the baking dish.

3. Line the enchiladas next to each other in the baking dish.
4. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas.
5. Spread remaining cheese over the top of the enchiladas.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.
7. Serve and enjoy!

Mac and Cheese (Take 2)
What drew me to try this recipe is that the ingredients are a lot more diverse than the last recipe I tried, which was mostly based in soy milk and nutritional yeast. I could have messed up the proportions, but last time, I had to add a lot of soymilk to temper the taste of the yeast. And, while the cheese sauce had great consistency, it was not lick-my-lips cheesy.

So, while this recipe is not fat-free, it seems great because it has margarine, cashews, miso and tahini to flavor and cream-ify the sauce, in addition to mustard and breadcrumbs for a bit of gooey crunch. (Cashews worked really well in the tomato basil cream sauce last week.) Let’s see what happens.

Click here for the Mac and Cheese (Take 2) recipe.

Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli
Pick five things and make a dish:

Photo credit: Lolo at http://veganyumyum.com

The photo above made me feel like I was preparing for a Top Chef challenge. (In my own pleasantly vegetarian version of the show, of course.)

But, seriously, in my quest to use simple ingredients to make quick, tasty, dishes that don’t cost a lot of money – this works really well. Bring on a Quick Fire.

Click here for the Spicy Lemon Pepper Pasta with Broccoli recipe.

Note: The recipe has portions for one – because I want to make this twice, I am going to double all of the ingredients in my shopping list.

This week’s grocery list:
Just cross off the things you already have in your pantry or fridge and you’re ready to shop!

2 heads, broccoli
2 lemons
1 large potato
1 carrot
2 small red onions
2 medium tomatoes

Oils, Spices, and Condiments
Olive oil
Vegetable oil
Cooking spray
Red Pepper Flakes
Black pepper
Dried Oregano
Ground Cumin
Chilli Powder
Taco seasoning
Vegetable bullion cubes (to make broth)
Dijon Mustard

Canned and Bottled Goods
1, 8 oz. bottle, sundried tomatoes in oil
1, 8 oz. bottle, tahini
2, 6 oz. cans tomato paste
1, 15 oz. can black beans
1, 15 oz. can of red kidney beans

Dry Goods
1, 16 oz. package of fettucini
1, 10 oz. box of whole wheat rotini
1, 8 oz. package breadcrumbs
3 oz., raw cashews
1, 12 oz. container nutritional yeast


1 container Miso (smallest available)
1 pkg, Earth Balance Margarine
1 pkg, 6 whole-wheat tortillas
8 oz., vegan cheddar cheese (I like almond “cheese”)