Pan-Seared Summer Squash with Garlic and Mint

It was my turn to make the food for my monthly dinner with my neighbors. I was making Asian marinated tofu from Veganomicon and needed a side to go with it. I had planned to make sesame cucumber salad, but found I didn’t have enough cucumbers in my garden. I’ve got a lot of summer squash and mint in my garden right now and my sister has told me repeatedly that she really likes this recipe from Fresh Food Fast. So even though it really wasn’t on theme with Asian tofu, pan-seared summer squash for the win!

If you’re like me and don’t have a griddle, searing the summer squash in round cast iron pans is a bit time consuming. But other than that, this recipe is really easy and comes together fast. I left out the red pepper flakes since I’m avoiding spicy foods. I cut the olive oil in half and the salt by 3/4, which meant I added 1.5 tbsp olive oil and 3/4 tsp of course salt. I think if I was making this for myself instead of guests I’d just use 1 tbsp of oil. But the result was really tasty and my neighbors loved it. One recipe was the perfect amount for three people (plus a 3-year-old who had 1 bite). Surprisingly, it went really well with the Asian tofu, and my neighbor discovered that is was delicious with the tofu on buttered ciabatta to form a funky bahn mi as he called it. Honestly, the funky bahn mi sandwich was so good I’m already craving it again.

Pan-Seared Summer Squash w/ Garlic & Mint

Cuban Black Beans

In college I lived in an apartment with my two best friends. We cooked a lot. One of my roommates, Ellen, shared this recipe for her mother’s favorite Cuban black beans with me. The recipe came from one of her mother’s cookbooks. Creamy, sour, and a tad sweet, it quickly became one of my favorites as well. But I never got a copy of the recipe from Ellen and for years afterwards I couldn’t make it. Finally, recently I got a photo of the recipe from Ellen and went about making it once again. It didn’t disappoint.

Below is the version I make. I have greatly reduced the oil (the original recipe calls for 2 cups!) and also left out the pimentos, which are called for in the original recipe but which I never have around. I’ve also changed the steps around a bit and shortened cooking times to simplify things.

Be aware! This recipe make 12-16 servings. If you don’t want that much beans, consider halving the recipe. However, it does freeze well.

2 1/4 cups dry black beans, cooked (or 3 cans) (keep the liquid)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cups green bell pepper, chopped

3 cups yellow onion, chopped

2 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup white vinegar

  1. Blend bell pepper and onions in a food processor until they are finely ground
  2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot
  3. Once oil is hot, add the pepper onion mixture and sauté it for 8 minutes.
  4. While the mixture is sautéing, blend 1 cup of the beans in the food processor
  5. Add the whole and blended beans, sugar, and salt to the pot, gently stir
  6. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  7. Add the vinegar

Yam and Peanut Stew with Kale

I love peanuts. I love kale. And I love a rich, hardy one pot meal with enough flavor and textural interest to keep me eating happily all week. West African Peanut yam stew with kale tics all those boxes. Which is why it’s a go to for me in the winter. The trick is to add the kale after the soup is turned off so it keeps its texture and color.

https://food52.com/recipes/19854-yam-and-peanut-stew-with-kale

Lemon Lentil Soup with Spinach

I really really like this soup from page 257 of Fresh Food Fast. It’s a standard in my winter soup rotation. My issue with most lentil soup is that it’s not interesting enough to eat all week. Since I usually cook two things each weekend and eat them all week, I don’t make recipes that can’t captivate my interest for days on end. This lentil soup recipe solves that problem by adding the textural interest of spinach and the hit-the-spot sourness of lemon juice mixed with tomatoes. It’s also mush prettier than the average lentil soup because the tomatoes, lentils, and spinach give it shades of red, yellow, and green. I can’t wait to try making it this year with homegrown spinach.

http://savorynotebook.blogspot.com/2005/08/lemon-lentil-soup-with-spinach.html

Gado Gado

I discovered Gado Gado a couple summers ago when I was looking for vegetarian Indonesian recipes. I love it because there it’s cool and fresh for hot summer days, while I’ll being very filling. It’s pretty much been a hit with everyone I’ve made it for, from my four-year-old niece to my brother’s Persian father-in-law. It was my mom’s number one request for my parent’s 50th anniversary party.

I use this recipe for the peanut sauce, but follow my own sense of what to do for the salad its self from reading a lot of different recipes. One note. This makes A LOT of peanut sauce. You can make the whole batch and freeze it. Otherwise I recommend cutting it in half, or possibly even in a quarter if you’re only making it for one or two people.

https://moosewoodcooks.com/2014/04/gado-gado/ (It appears the mooswoodcooks website is down. Here’s an alternative:)

http://legacy.culinate.com/content/369933/index.html

For the salad my favorite combination uses the following:

Vermicelli rice noodles

Firm Tofu

Long beans

Julienned Cucumber

Julienned Carrot

Bean Sprouts

Shredded Chinese Cabbage

My favorite way to prepare the tofu is to bake it. I brush it with a small amount of oil, cut it into small cubes, and cook it in the oven, turning it over every 20 minutes or so until all sides are brown.

To cook the long beans and vermicelli, I boil a kettle of water and pour the boiling water over them, letting them sit in the boiling water for about three minutes before draining.

Everything else should be served raw.

In my experience the best ratio is as follows: 2/8 noodles, 1/8 tofu, 2/8 cooked veggies, 3/8 raw veggies

Creamy Vegetable Tahini Soup

This recipe is from page 259 of Diet for a New World. I LOVE this recipe. I’ve made it a ton of times. You can pretty much put in whatever veggies you feel like. The tahini broth is so indulgent and rich. And yet I feel healthy eating it because veggies and soup? Plus it only takes a few minute to make if you’ve already pre-cut the veggies. This is a winter staple for me.

Leek and Bean Cassoulet

This recipe is from page 172 of Veganomicon. This is a leek and bean stew with biscuits floating in it. I love leeks, I love bisquits. Is it any wonder that I love this recipe? I try not to make it often since it’s pretty decadent. I made it once for my old roommates and they loved it. Then I made it for my family and they didn’t. I suppose a leek biscuit combo is a specific taste? Whatever it is I have it.

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=1943787