Summer Squash and Red Rice Salad with Lemon and Dill

On the harrowing quest to cook things that both Ian and I can eat, I found this salad, which could be made low fodmap and would use up my summer squash. I couldn’t find red rice so I used regular jasmine rice. I think I either mismeasured the dry rice or the picture for this recipe is quite dishonest. The picture shows a dish of mostly squash with a sprinkling of rice. As you can see from my photo, my dish was mostly rice with a smattering of squash. Despite this and my failure to find red rice, we enjoyed this recipe. It was super easy to make and would make a good weeknight dish when you already have summer squash or zucchini in the fridge.

I left out the garlic since Ian isn’t eating garlic. It only called for one clove so I can’t imagine it would have changed the dish a ton. I thought the 1/4 cup of olive oil called for was absurd and halve it. Without knowing this, Ian complained that the dish needed more olive oil and added more. I’m sure it would have tasted better with more, but I didn’t mind it as is. He also thought it needed more pine nuts. I would probably use 3 tbsp instead of 2 tbsp as called for, but I suspect he would still end up adding more. My main issue with the dish was that I thought it needed more dill and chives. I’d double those next time.

New England “Clam” Chowder

As the weather has begun to cool down at last in North Carolina, I’m finally ready for soups and stews again. Time to try Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ vegan take on clam chowder from Isa Does It. I’ve never had clam chowder, so I really have nothing to compare the recipe to. But I suspect this does not taste like clam chowder. Isa uses mushrooms and seaweed to add an umami and fishy flavor. I’m not sure I got enough of that though, as the flavor was a bit on the dull side. I suspect the seaweed and mushrooms weren’t in the broth long enough to give all their flavor. On the other hand though, I thought the potatoes were too soft, so I wouldn’t want to cook for any longer. I did use kombu instead of nori. I’m not sure if nori wouldn’t have given a lot more flavor since my seaweed knowledge is on the lighter side.

The recipe does have the requisite creaminess, thanks to cashew cream. But I found that the broth to veggie ratio was off. I ended up adding 2 cups of extra liquid, which seemed about right.

I’m non the fence about whether I will make this again. But if I do, I’ll tweak several things:

  1. I’ll make special vegetable broth for the dish that includes sewaeed and dried mushrooms in it to up the sea flavor factor without overcooking the veggies.
  2. I’d use 4 cups of vegetable broth when I put in the potatoes instead of 2.
  3. I’d only cook the potatoes for 7 minutes instead of the 10-15 called for in the recipe. I prefer my potatoes to still have some bite to them.

Sheet Pan Crisp Tofu and Sweet Potatoes

I’d had a sweet potato in my house for a while that I needed to use. This recipe looked interesting, so I borrowed Ian’s non-broken oven to make it. The results were mixed. The recipe is very sloppily written and the proportions of sweet potato to tofu are very off. But the flavors were good. I’d make it again, fixing the instructions and the proportions.

The recipe doesn’t call to oil the pans before putting the tofu or sweet potatoes in them. This. seemed like a big mistake to me so I oiled them ahead of tie.

It’s very unclear in its instructions for preparing the tofu. It says “Toss half the mixture with the tofu, then toss in cornstarch”. I’m really not sure how you are supposed to “toss” cut tofu without breaking it. And there’s only a tablespoon of cornstarch in the recipe, which is not enough for a block of tofu in any format. I ended up using my mother’s tried and true method for making baked tofu. I dipped the slices in the liquid mixture and then dipped in the cornstarch. I needed to use more cornstarch than the recipe called for- maybe 3 tbsp? Despite this major glitch, the tofu was super tasty. I’d definitely make it again. But it was gone long before the sweet potato. I do not buy that this recipe makes 4 servings as it says. In my experience, no matter what it say on the package, a block of tofu makes 2-3 servings, depending on the appetite of the people you’re serving. Next time I make this I’d 1.5 the tofu. The recipe also doesn’t mention flipping the tofu, which I did half way through.

Do not skip the scallions in vinegar. They make the dish. So simple and so tasty. I also think some sesame seeds sprinkled on top would have been good as well. I’d add them next time.

Sweet and [Not] Spicy Tofu With Soba Noodles

Apparently I’ve been on a bit of a noodle kick lately. This recipe was appealing since it offers a non-salad way to use fresh cucumber from my garden. This dish was alright, but I’m not sure if I liked it enough to make it again. I halved the sugar, but still found it a bit too sweet. The only thing spicy in the dish was red pepper flakes. I left those out since I’m avoiding spice. Maybe they would have balanced the sweetness a bit more. I also added pan fried tofu for protein.

Rice Noodles with Zucchini, Tomatoes, and Mint

Finding a recipe that both Ian and I can eat right now is nearly impossible, since we are both dealing with very restrictive medically prescribed diets. Add my vegetarian diet, his gluten free diet, plus both of our lactose intolerance, and there’s nearly nothing we can both eat. I was intrigued by this dish since it uses rice noodles instead of flour noodles, but incorporates Italian flavors rather than the usual Asian flavors I associate with rice noodles.

I’ve made it twice now. The first time I did quite a bit of tweaking based on what we had in the house and Ian’s restrictions. The second time I stuck to the recipe. I liked my first version much better. Both Ian and I really loved it and had multiple additional helpings. I think the original recipe is too low on veggies and I like a basil/mint mixture better than mint alone. I’ve also found it’s much better with cherry tomatoes than with large tomatoes or canned. Whatever version you make, this is a simple, quick, weeknight dish. I made simple pan fried tofu for a protein on the side and Ian ate it with chicken. Here’s my adjusted version:

  • 2tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2garlic cloves (to taste), minced (optional)
  • 1.5 pound zucchini, cut in ΒΌ-inch dice
  • 1.5 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt to taste (I use about 1.5 tsp)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 7 to 8ounces thin rice sticks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh basil, torn

I follow the instructions from the original recipe. If I leave out the garlic for Ian, I just skip that step. I honestly didn’t notice a big flavor difference between having the garlic and not having it. I think the key to the flavor of this recipe is really high quality ingredients, since it’s so simple. Great olive oil and sweet cherry tomatoes really make the dish. I also like spaghetti style rice noodles better than the fettuccine ones for this dish because they have more bite.

Jackfruit Biryani

I went to Texas to visit family in August and came back with four of my siblings’ cookbooks on loan. After a barely getting five green beans from my garden all summer, I’ve had a miraculous end-of-season glut of green beans this year. So this recipe for jackfruit biryani was the first from the group I decided to try. It’s from East Meets Vegan by Shasha Gill.

I had to do quite a bit of modification since I’m avoiding many types of nuts and all fruit at the moment. I replaced the cashews with 1/2 and 1/2 pine nuts and walnuts. Both were good. I left out the raisins and instead added a tsp of sugar to the cooking onions. That worked out really well and I didn’t really miss the dried fruit. I also used regular yogurt instead of vegan yogurt and swapped out bell pepper for the carrot, since that’s what I had.

The flavor of the dish was good and the jackfruit was a very unique aspect. But the consistency was wrong. The picture from the cookbook shoes a nice fluffy biryani with individuated pieces of rice. But my version came out very wet and mushy. More like a sticky rice compote than a biryani. I’m not sure why this happened, but next time I’d halve the vegetable stock. Also, next time I’d pull the cardamom pods out of the rice before combining it with the curry. Worth trying again with some tweaking I think.

Summer Squash Capponata

Now that I’m a gardener, every summer I find myself scouring the internet for novel things to do with zucchini and summer squash. This recipe from the New York Times looked interesting. I love olives and capers, and since I’m avoiding beans at the moment, I liked that it included eggs as a protein source.

The recipe was simple enough to make. It does use quite a few dishes and pots, but isn’t super time consuming. I left out the red pepper flakes since I’m avoiding spice. And I used white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar since that’s what I had. And finally, I used maple syrup instead of sugar so that Ian would eat it (turns out he’s off maple syrup now too so that was a bust). Since the recipe give no guidance on salt, that required quite a bit of trial and error to get right. And the step where you pre-soak the capers seemed pointless to me since I ended up adding a lot of salt after.

In general I object to recipes that don’t offer at least a salt range. But otherwise, I really enjoyed this recipe. It was definitely better after it had marinated at least a day. I recommend turning it occasionally to ensure it marinates throughout. Without the red pepper flakes, it was just the tiniest bit on the bland side (maybe I’d try paprika next time?). But overall, this was a hit. I happily ate it all week without complaint. And Ian’s mom Sally ate Ian’s portion and said she liked it a lot. I’ll make this one again for sure, maybe with just a bit of tweaking on the flavors.

Tempeh Giardino

Since my only bean intake right now is fermented soy, I’ve been eating a lot of tofu and tempeh. I’ve also had a late summer glut of tomatoes and summer squash and have been pretty low energy as well. So this super simple recipe for tempeh sauteed and cooked with tomatoes and summer squash from Isa Does It, seemed like a perfect choice.

I left out the red pepper flakes since I’m avoiding spicy foods at the moment. Beware, only at the end of the recipe does it tell you to serve over mashed potatoes or polenta. I wasn’t prepared for this and had to rustle up some mashed potatoes at the last minute.

Overall, this was a bit of disappointment. The veggies tasted great. Simple and refreshing. Ian stated them and asked me to make a version without onions or tempeh for him. But frying the tempeh was bland and overpowering. I don’t think I’d make this again, but if I do I’ll experiment with adding a rub or some other seasoning for the tempeh.

Tomato Salad with Cucumber and Ginger

Since my garden is overflowing with cucumbers and tomatoes right now, I’ve been looking for salad recipes to keep up with the onslaught. This very simple Asian salad recipe seemed promising since it would use both veggies as well as my end-of-season basil.

Indeed, this was a real winner. After the mushy cucumber disaster of the cucumber avocado salad, I just made the dressing ahead of time and chopped the cucumber and tomato I needed for a single meal. This strategy worked well. I used Thai basil, which was quite yummy as well. I added Marinated Asian Tofu from Veganomicon to make this a meal. And voila! A very simple tasty fresh lunch was born. I’ll definitely make this again next summer.

Vegan Carne Asada Taco Bowl

I wanted to make taco bowls without beans, since I’m trying to avoid beans. So I went looking for a seitan recipe that would work well in a taco bowl. I thought this vegan carne asada recipe looked interesting.

I used broth instead of orange juice for the liquid, since I didn’t have any juice on hand and I’m avoiding fruit. I precut the seitan into strips instead of cooking it as whole “steaks” like the recipe calls for. Honestly, the seitan didn’t seem that different than if I had just sauteed it in the pan with some oil. The seitan didn’t absorb the flavors and most of it seemed to end up in the pan. Maybe this issue was not using the orange juice, but somehow I’m skeptical. I think maybe marinating just isn’t a good strategy for seitan that’s going to get cooked in a pan.

I made messy rice from veganomicon, which I’ve made before and liked. But the rice ended up a little undercooked. I think maybe the liquid is off? Next time I’d add a bit more.

I’ve got tons of volunteer tomatillos in my garden this year. So for the sauce I made this avocado and roasted tomatillo salsa from the New York times. It was really convenient that the tomatillos are roasted on the stove instead of in the oven. The salsa was all right, but not as flavorful as a would have hoped. It definitely needed a bit of tweaking. I added some vegan mayo to make it creamier, which helped. And also some extra lemon juice. The flavor still didn’t seem quite right.

To top it all off, I made the cherry tomato salsa from Fresh Food Fast that goes with the black bean tostadas. That’s a simple stand by salsa recipe I love an have used many times.

All in all, this taco bowl was underwhelming. I ate it, but the undercooked rice didn’t get finished and ended up in the trash. The flavors didn’t really work super well together and the textures seemed off as well. Alas, my quest for a great low FODMAP taco bowl continues.