Thursday, June 20, 2013

Roll It Up

We're not really big sushi eaters, but every once and a while, I get a mad craving for it. Although I don't go for any of the fishy stuff, the vegetarian offerings are so tasty, who needs it? Sushi chefs are artists when it comes to preparing and presenting their "works".  The speed and skill they demonstrate is as entertaining as the food is delicious. And it's filling, but not in a sluggish, heavy way.

We got it to go, so I plated it up for an attractive photo op. The small seaweed wrapped rolls have different vegetables in the middle, carrots, cucumbers, avocado... makes for pretty colours. 

Look how fancy these avocado rolls are. The avocado was thinly sliced and wrapped around julienned vegetables. 

The entire roll is encased in rice paper to hold it all together. These are so freakin' good, you have no idea. I never even use any of the sauce for these rolls. I just eat them au naturel. Yum! 

Since I'm on a roll....(groan) 

These I made. They're Moroccan-Infused Vegetable Phyllo Rolls from Dreena Burton's book "Eat, Drink & Be Vegan" 

These are sooooo good! Don't be intimidated by phyllo dough. It's fairly easy to work with and is very forgiving. Just remember to keep the sheets of dough covered with a damp towel and use a light touch on the pieces you're working on. 
I did a search and found the recipe on line at Want to make these tasty rolls? Just roll on over here!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chickpea Salad

I really enjoy a good chickpea salad - firm beans & crunchy vegetables all melding together with a fresh, delightful dressing.  I'm sure you've tried them at buffets, parties, salad bars, always hoping that it's a good one. Quite often though, I feel let down because it's too bland, too vinegary, too salty, too oily. I've made salads at home trying many recipes over the years but never really found one that suited my tastes. So, I took the components I liked and came up with my own.

Lemon gives it a nice fresh flavour. The feta cheese melds nicely with vegetables and kicks it up a notch. I like to toss it with some mixed lettuces making it an easy and delicious way to get more greens into your diet. If you try this, I'd love your feedback. 

Carrie's Chickpea Salad

½ tsp. lemon zest
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1½ tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
¼ salt
freshly ground pepper to taste 
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 (19 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
3 scallions, sliced
5 oz. tub mixed baby greens of your choice
2-3 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Whisk together lemon zest, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add parsley, chickpeas, tomato and scallions. Toss to evenly coat with dressing. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour - but overnight is preferred. 
To serve, crumble half of the feta into the chickpea mixture and add the greens. Stir gently to distribute the dressing over the greens. Pile onto serving plates and top with remaining feta. 

Serves 4-6 

**You can easily make smaller portions of this. Just scoop out enough chickpea mix for a serving, and mix with greens and cheese in a seperate bowl. The rest of the chickpeas will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Rockin' Rapini

Known as rapini or sometimes called broccoli rabe, this bright green vegetable may look a little like tiny broccoli, but in fact, it's a member of the mustard family. This bitter green is very popular in Italian cuisine and it is loaded with vitamin K, which helps with many important functions in your body including helping to heal wounds, maintain blood vessels and healthy bones. Vitamin K may also help in preventing broken bones, especially in post menopausal women. It's also a good source of vitamins A & C and Folate. And, to top it all off, it's delicious! 

When I first discovered this little gem, I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I pretty much just stuck to using it with pasta dishes. I read that it could be cooked up numerous ways and I wanted to expand my rapini offerings.  

Looks good, doesn't it? It tastes even better! After a few tries, I think I've got this one perfected. Hell, even Jim likes it! It's a nice versatile side that can be served with just about anything. 

When buying rapini, choose bunches that are nice and green with compact buds. Some may have a bit of yellow flower showing, but that is A-OK. 

Balsamic Rapini with Sun-dried Tomatoes

1 bunch rapini 

2 tbsp. slivered almonds
3 tbsp. sliced sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Wash rapini, trim off the bottom part of the stem. You can leave the stalks whole, but I prefer to cut them in half.  

Bring a pot of water to boil and add rapini. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from water and drain. 
Place a small non-stick skillet over medium heat and toss in the almonds. Stir occasionally until nicely toasted. Set aside. 
If using oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, pat off excess oil, thinly slice and set aside. If using non-oil packed, then thinly slice and place in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let sit for approx. 3-4 minutes to soften, then drain.  
In a large deep skillet or wok, heat olive oil. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Add more red pepper flakes if you want it a bit spicier. Once the garlic has softened, add the drained rapini, almonds, tomatoes and salt. Stir until hot and to and incorporate all the ingredients. Finish with a splash of balsamic vinegar, stir again and serve.