Posts Tagged ‘Vegetarian’

Tofu Saag Paneer

November 7th, 2011

Okay, so I know that this isn’t technically a proper saag paneer, what with the complete lack of paneer.  But for the sake of searchability and easy naming, I’m sticking with the title.

Tofu saag paneer

This is a veggie version of one of my favourite Indian dishes.  I came across this tofu version in a great new seasonal veg cookbook, Eat Greens. I’ve become a big fan of tofu in the past few years, grilling it on the barbecue, giving it a quick stir fry with some ginger and hot sauce, but I had yet to try baking it. Turns out it’s a great way to get puffy, crisp squares of spiced tofu, perfect for tossing with a pile of greens for a winter veggie dinner.

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp tumeric
1/4 tsp salt
1 block of extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

2 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp hot chili sauce (or more to taste)
1 bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1/3 cup plain yogurt

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the olive oil and spices.  Toss with the tofu cubes until completely coated.
Spread the tofu cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer, with some space between all the cubes.
Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350, until slightly crisp and puffy.

When the tofu has almost finished baking, heat the garlic, ginger and chili sauce in a large frying pan or wok over medium-low heat.
Once the garlic has softened, add the spinach.  Stir gently until wilted.
Stir in the tomatoes and yogurt and cook for another 5 minutes.
When the tofu comes out of the oven, stir it and any extra spiced oil through the spinach mixture.
Serve over rice – I like this with brown rice, but Basmati would be a more traditional fit.

Dilled pickles

August 22nd, 2011

First taste of this year's pickles

This year’s canning has once again expanded by a single vegetable.  The first year I taught myself to preserve veggies in jars, I started with a simple green bean pickle.  The second fall’s canning included a batch of spicy cauliflower pickles.  2011 has brought five pounds (so far) of dilled cucumber pickles, along with the usual batch of beans.  For some reason, I’ve always been afraid to make a batch of these standbys.  Canning wasn’t something I ever watched my mom or my grandma do each year, so every new batch of preserves begins with a spoonful of trepidation.

After putting up five jars of stubby Hutterite cukes, I’m not sure why I was so scared of these.  The process was just as simple as my standard bean pickles, and the results, tested early this weekend, were sour, crispy and farm-picked fresh.  I can’t wait to see how the flavours evolve over the winter and am thinking of filling another ten jars this weekend.

5 pounds of pickling cucumbers, washed but left whole
5 tablespoons of pickling salt
10 big heads of dill, gone to seed
15 cloves of garlic, peeled but whole
5 tsp whole black peppercorns
white vinegar
cold water

The night before you’re going to pickle the cucumbers, toss them in a big bowl of ice water and leave them in the fridge overnight.  This should help them stay crispier after being canned.
The day of the canning, start by sterlizing 5 wide mouth mason jars.  I boil mine for 10 minutes in my giant canning pot, but you can use a dishwasher with a sterlization setting.
While the jars are bubbling away, immerse the sealing lids into a pan of hot, but not boiling water.
Get all your ingredients ready to go so you can quickly stuff the jars while they are still hot.
Pull the jars out of the canner, pour out all the water and line them up, ready to stuff.  They’ll be very, very hot, so you’ll want to use heavy potholders or silicone oven mitts to hold onto them.
For each jar, put in 1 tbsp of salt, 2 heads of dill, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of peppercorns and then stuff with the cucumbers.  You want to pack the cukes in as tightly as possible to stop them from floating in the liquid.
Once the jar is stuff, fill halfway with vinegar, them the second half with water, leaving an inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
Remove a lid from the hot water, screw on the band tightly and set aside while you fill the remaining jars.
Once all five jars have been filled, lower them carefully into a canner full of boiling water. Make sure the water covers the tops of the jars by at least an inch.
When the water has returned to a boil, start the timer and process the jars for 10 minutes, plus additional time depending on your altitude.  I let my jars boil for 20 minutes, them pull the jars out and let them cool overnight on a doubled-over teatowel.
If the jars have sealed correctly, once they’re cool, the lids of the jars should be sucked in towards the pickles, and shouldn’t make a popping sound if pressed in their centres.  If you have any jars that haven’t properly sealed, you can keep them in the fridge and eat them over the next few weeks.  Otherwise, solidly sealed jars should keep for ages in a cool, dark space.

For more detailed canning information, I find the Bernardin site is an invaluable resource.

Note: You’ll notice I don’t boil my brine before adding it to the jars.  This is how I’ve done my pickled beans for three years running, and I find they stay extremely crisp and have had no problems with pickles going bad.  The important part seems to be the amount of salt and the 1:1 ratio of vinegar to water in each jar.  If you feel more comfortable using a hot brine, by all means, go ahead.

Goat Cheese, Pea and Pesto tarts

July 31st, 2011

Goat cheese, garlic and pea tarts

Sometimes random, leftover ingredients can come together to make the tastiest little dishes.  This was one of those times.  I had a handful of fresh market peas, some local goat cheese and half a package of puff pastry sitting in my fridge.  Pulled together with some of last week’s garlic scape pesto, they make a delightful little appetizer.

Half a block of puff pastry
Garlic scape pesto (basil pesto would do in a pinch)
Soft goat cheese
Fresh peas

Preheat oven to 400ºF.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the block of puff pastry into a 12×9 inch rectangle.
Slice the rectangle into 12 equal squares.
Spoon a scant teaspoon of pesto onto the centre of each square.  Top with another teaspoon of goat cheese, then sprinkle on some peas.
Fold two opposite corners of the square into the centre, covering the toppings.  Fold the other two in the same way.
Gently lift the tarts into the cavities of a muffin pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.
Let cool on a cookie rack before serving.

Watermelon and Arugula Salad with Toasted Halloumi

July 21st, 2011

Halloumi with arugula and watermelon salad

I have been dying to grill up some halloumi ever since I saw package of it at the Creative Cleaver.  I’ve only ever had it in coastal restaurants before now, and it’s great to be able to toast some up at home.  I can see myself serving smaller squares as appetizers at my next party – or maybe skewering grilled cubes on toothpicks along with watermelon and tomatoes.

For my first homemade halloumi dish, I paired the cheese with a simple watermelon and arugula salad.  The crispness of the salad really set off the warm crunch of the cheese.

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

a few handfuls of small arugula leaves
1/8 of a seedless watermelon, cut into small cubes
1/3-inch thick slices of halloumi

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the mustard into the lemon juice and vinegar.
In a thin stream, slowly pour in the olive oil, whisking madly to incorporate.
Toss in the arugula and watermelon.
Season to taste with salt and pepper

In a small frying pan, without oil, grill the slices of halloumi over medium heat.
After two minutes of frying per side, serve over the salad.

Garlic Scape Pesto

July 18th, 2011

Garlic scapes

Imagine my delight on Saturday morning, while cruising through the farmers’ market, when I saw a big bin full of garlic scapes.  Imagine the increase in that delight when I read the tag on the box that said they were free for the taking!  I grabbed a big bag full, not entirely sure what I would do with them all, but knowing it would be wonderful.

Garlic scape pesto

My first inspiration for the scapes was Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for garlic scape pesto.  After a few minutes standing over a whirring blender, I had the most beautiful spring green sauce, ready to spoon over some spaghettini.  Later this afternoon, I’ll be making an even bigger batch of the pesto to freeze.  This way, I can enjoy the crisp taste of the fresh scapes through the rest of the year, long after they aren’t giving them away at the market.

1 cup garlic scapes, cut into inch-long pieces
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup olive oil
salt & pepper

In a blender or food processor, pulse together the ingredients until they resemble an almost-smooth paste.
If the blender stalls, and the pesto stops turning, slowly pour in more olive oil through the hole in the lid.  Once there is enough liquid, the pesto will start to churn and chop again.
Once the texture is to your liking, taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Spoon over pasta to serve, or use as a sauce with fish or chicken.

Salmon garlic scape spaghettini

The pesto will keep, refrigerated, for about a week.  I keep mine in a small glass mason jar.
To keep the pesto for longer, freeze spoonfuls of the sauce in an ice cube tray.  Once solid, dump the cubes into a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, and return to the freezer for future use.

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