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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Menu 12: Apple Cranberry Salad, Spinach Quinoa Salad, Mexican Pizza, Pepita Fettucini


Photo credit: www.veganyumyum.com

If someone asked me to fill out one of those surveys that they give to celebrities for the American Express ads when I was twelve, my “perfect day” would have included a Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell.

Yes, admittedly, Taco Bell.

My reincarnated “healthy” (save the regular indulgence in vegan desserts at Blossom and Red Bamboo) vegan self no longer craves the neon green ooze that comes freshly squirted from the guac gun. However, there is something to be said for the deliciousness and simplicity that comes from a combination of crispy tortilla, a light hint of hearty beans, and tangy salsa, all held together with the kick of perfectly melted cheddar. (In my case, the cheddar is made from almond milk.)

So, as the city heats up (despite the fact that rain that become a semi-permanent fixture Monday – Friday), and my body is craving satisfyingly light salads, I had to throw in a recipe for Mexican Pizza in this week’s menu. The rest of this week’s dishes are light on the stomach, big in flavor, and use a great combination of berries, greens, and nuts.

You may have some leftover yogurt, dried fruit, and almonds this week – either save the fruit and almonds for future recipes, or add them to your breakfasts – yogurt parfaits, oatmeal – or midday snacks, like trail mix to avoid waste.

Enjoy!

This week’s dishes:

Apple Cranberry Salad with Fried Seitan and Almond Dijon Dressing

Mexican Pizza

Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds

Pepita Fettucini with Spinach and Cranberries

This week’s menu:

Sunday:
Dinner: Apple Cranberry Salad with Fried Seitan and Almond Dijon Dressing
Cook: Apple Cranberry Salad with Fried Seitan and Almond Dijon Dressing

Monday:
Lunch: Apple Cranberry Salad with Fried Seitan and Almond Dijon Dressing
Dinner: Mexican Pizza
Cook: Mexican Pizza, Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds

Tuesday:
Lunch: Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds
Dinner: Mexican Pizza
Cook: Mexican Pizza

Wednesday:
Lunch: Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds
Dinner: Pepita Fettucini with Spinach and Cranberries
Cook: Pepita Fettucini with Spinach and Cranberries

Thursday:
Lunch: Pepita Fettucini with Spinach and Cranberries
Dinner: Mexican Pizza
Cook: Mexican Pizza

Friday:
Lunch: Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds

This week’s recipes:

Apple Cranberry Salad with Fried Seitan and Almond Dijon Dressing

This is a grilled chicken salad for vegetarians and vegans. And, if you’re one of those people who are freaked out by fake meat, well then, it’s just a more filling salad because it includes protein in the seitan. The dressing is delicious and completely different from the light vinaigrettes that I use most often – it’s bold and creamy, and compliments the tart apple and leafy greens well.

The recipe includes instructions for making seitan from scratch – I take the short cut and use ready-made chicken-style seitan, which you can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery store, near the tofu.

On Sunday, make the salad and dressing, but only mix about 2 tablespoons of dressing with the portion you will each on Sunday. Store the remaining dressing and salad separately and toss them together just before you have the second portion for lunch on Monday. (For those of us who work in offices, by “toss”, I mean pour the dressing into the salad container, close the container, and shake it vigorously in every direction. When you re-open, the salad will be evenly coated.)

Click here for the full recipe.

Mexican Pizza

So, you’re eating Mexican Pizza three times this week – once the beans are made, you’ll have dinner ready in about 15 minutes on the other nights. The recipe below is for 1 serving, or two pizzas.

Following this week’s blog intro, I don’t think this pizza needs any further introduction. But, I do have a few suggestions for variations (the recipe as it appears below is the simplest variation).

If you want the veggies to be more flavorful, toss them with a ½ teaspoon of salt, 1 tsp. of minced garlic, 1 tbsp of chopped cilantro, a ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and the juice of ½ lime, to make more of a chunky salsa.

If you’d like to add guacamole, add about a tablespoon on top of each pizza after they are baked. If you do this, I would use the veggies as they are below, (i.e. not make them into a salsa). A simple recipe for guacamole follows below.

Ingredients:
Cooking spray
2 tortillas (soft taco size)
1, 15 oz. can, black beans
1, 15 oz. can, red kidney beans
¼ cup, water
1 packet, taco seasoning
2 scallions, minced
½ small red onion, minced
1 small tomato, chopped
½ cup almond cheddar cheese, shredded

Steps:
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray a pizza pan with cooking spray. Place tortillas on pan, and spray lightly with cooking spray.
2. Rinse beans thoroughly. Place in blender or food processor with ¼ cup water and ½ packet of taco seasoning. Blend until smooth (you may need to add more water to make smooth, but no more than 1/3 cup total). Add more taco seasoning to taste.
3. Place tortillas on pan in oven for 3 minutes.
4. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in small pot over medium heat. Transfer beans to pot, stirring occasionally.
5. Prepare scallions, red onion, tomato, and cheese (by mincing, chopping, or shredding). During this prep time, the timer on oven will likely go off – flip the tortillas and put them back in the oven for 2 minutes.
6. Remove tortillas from oven. Spread 1 – 2 tbsp. of beans on each tortilla.
7. Top each tortilla with scallions, red onion, tomatoes, and cheese.
8. Bake at 300 degrees for 8 minutes.
9. Cool for two minutes. Serve!

Julie’s Guacamole:
(enough for two Mexican Pizzas)

1 ripe Haas avocado
½ tsp. crushed red pepper, or more to taste
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. cumin
1 clove, garlic, minced
Juice from ½ lime
1 tbsp. cilantro, chopped

1. Mash all ingredients in bowl, or pulse in food processor.
2. Add additional seasoning to taste.

Spinach-Quinoa Salad with Cherries and Almonds
According to Vegetarian Times, this dish is great for picnics as it won’t get soggy. This also makes it a perfect dish for singles or couples who want to cook once, store it, and eat it over the course of a few days.

The salad provides an awesome balance of proteins, veggies, fruit, and nuts – so there are lots of nutrients in here. It will fill you up, but won’t weigh you down. (Is that line in a commercial for something…?)

Couple of notes on the yogurt: the recipe does include yogurt, but is easily vegan-ized with the use of soy yogurt. Also, you only need ¼ cup of it for this recipe, so either buy one of the small yogurt cups, or, if you buy the larger size, use it for breakfast all week.

Click here for the full recipe.

Pepita Fettucini with Spinach and Cranberries
As I was making this dish (pictured above), I didn’t know whether or not I would like it – it didn’t seem like there was enough sauce, I was worried that it wouldn’t have enough flavor, or that the flavor combination (soy sauce, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds and cranberries?) would be strange. So, it was a bit of an adventure.

But, I’m happy to report that it was one with a happy ending. I won’t say anything else – try it, and I promise you’ll be surprised.

Oh, and pepitas are raw pumpkin seeds.

Click here for the full recipe.

This Week's Grocery List:
The optional items are for additions that you might make to the Mexican Pizza recipe.

Some grocery stores allow you to buy dried fruits, rice, and nuts in loose quantities, so I’ve included the actual amount that you’ll need this week if you’re able to buy that exactly. If you can’t do this, and have to buy a package of sliced almonds, for example, then buy the standard 4 or 8 ounce package – you can use leftovers in future recipes, or in breakfast items like yogurt parfaits or oatmeal.

Produce
3 small tomatoes
1 bunch, scallions
1 Head Lettuce (Romaine or Green)
1 Granny Smith apple
3 small red onions
Avocado (optional)
1 bulb, Garlic
Lime (optional)
Cilantro (optional)
3 cups, fresh spinach
1 cup, fresh cherries (or ½ cup dried cherries)
1 cucumber
1 lemon

Oils, Spices, Condiments
Olive oil cooking spray
Olive oil
Canola Oil
Crushed red pepper
Cumin (optional)
Salt
1 packet, taco seasoning
Brown sugar
Thyme
Old Bay seasoning
Vegetable Bullion cubes
All-purpose flour
Baking powder
Soy sauce
Maple syrup
Dijon Mustard

Canned and Bottled Goods
1, 15 oz. can, black beans
1, 15 oz. can, red beans
1, 15 oz. can, chickpeas

Dry Goods
1, 12 – 16 oz. package, dried fettuccini
Nutritional yeast
1/3 c. Raw Pepitas
½ c. Dried cranberries
1 c. Sliced almonds
1 ½ c. Quinoa

Refrigerator/Freezer
Tortillas (package of 6)
Almond cheese
Plain soy yogurt
Soy milk
1 package, chicken-style Seitan

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