October 14th, 2014
Ciao from Italy! By the time this post goes up, I will be in the mountains of Abruzzo, having already walked down the streets of Rimini and Venice for the first time in my life. I will already have tasted many fresh and amazing dishes, crossing them off my long list of things to try, one by one. As open as I am to all kinds of food while traveling, I always crave very simple fare when I come back home – vegetables and greens, very much like this salad from Gena’s Hamshaw new cookbook Choosing Raw.
I love Gena’s style, represented so well on her site – easy and informative, full of nutrition advice, but always taking flavor into consideration. I gladly accepted Gena’s offer to send me a copy of her cookbook and already made the Avocado Black Bean Breakfast Scramble, Fig Bars, and this Sweet Potato and Kale Salad – all to delicious results.
Gena’s plant-based recipes, not all of them raw, are fuss-free, and offer options that will satisfy both a rookie and a seasoned cook. What sets the book apart are the many educated answers to your questions about nutrition, veganism and raw food. Being a certified nutritionist herself, Gena provides helpful meal plans for beginners, with higher protein and raw meal options.
This salad is great for fall, with sweet potato as the featured guest. It is simple in preparation and very nourishing – well done Gena!
Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
for the dressing
1 cup cashews – soaked for about 4 hours
1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup water
for the salad
2 sweet potatos – peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt and pepper
1 bunch kale – cut into bite-size pieces
1 red bell pepper – sliced
1/3 cup slivered almonds
to make the dressing
Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
to make the salad
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potatoes with oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until soft. Cool for 15 minutes.
2. Massage 1/2 dressing into the kale in a large mixing bowl, until the kale softens. Add in the pepper slices, potatoes and the rest of the dressing. Mix to combine.
3. Serve right away with some slivered almonds sprinkled on top.
Note: Gena uses all of the dressing for this salad, but I used less, as I like my salads dressed lightly. I saved the rest of the dressing for another salad.
October 5th, 2014
I’m leaving for Italy in a few days. Aside from a few beautiful places, I’ll be traveling to the region of Abruzzo, fairly unknown to tourists, and staying in a medieval village in the mountains. Along with feeling excited, I’m also a little nervous about my lack of experience driving on mountain roads and my non-existent knowledge of the Italian language. I predict I will be tasting some amazing pizza very soon, but for now, here is one of my favorites that I make at home.
I’ve been making roasted eggplant and bell pepper pizza with all kinds of different crusts as long as I’ve been cooking vegetarian – it’s such a winner of a dish. It all began with a traditional wheat-based crust that was later replaced with my favorite sprouted flatbread. As delicious as the sprouted crust is, the process is very involved. When I saw Laura’s recipe for a simple, gluten-free pizza crust, I had to give it a try. I chose to use buckwheat groats instead of quinoa/millet because I love the taste and texture of buckwheat, which does not need to be soaked for 8 hours like most grains do – the groats become soft after just an hour of soaking.
As for the toppings, I’ve had several occasions when I fed this pizza to eggplant skeptics, who were converted right there and then.
In other news, our cookbook is now out in French! Visit here to learn more.
Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Pizza on a Buckwheat Crust
makes two 8-9-inch pizzas
1 garlic head
1 eggplant – sliced
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper – seeded and cut into chunks
chili powder – to taste
sea salt, black pepper – to taste
feta cheese – optional
leafy greens for garnish
1 1/4 cup raw (untoasted) buckwheat groats – soaked for 1 hour or overnight
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for the cake pans
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste
garlic and/or onion powder or fresh garlic – optional
fresh/dried thyme, oregano – optional
to prepare the toppings
1. Preheat oven to 400 F
2. Cut the very top of the garlic head off to expose the insides. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper and wrap in foil or parchment paper.
3. Mix olive oil and chili powder to taste. Place eggplant slices and pepper chunks into a large baking dish and brush with the chili oil.
4. Place both the garlic and vegetables into the oven, roast for about 20 minutes or until soft. Set aside.
to make the crusts
1. Preheat oven to 450 F
2. Rinse the buckwheat groats very well, they become very slimy during soaking. Combine groats, water, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and other spices/herbs if using, in a blender. Blend until smooth.
3. Place two 8-9-inch cake pans into the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven and add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to each (use cooking spray if your cake pans stick). Place back into the oven for 3-5 minutes.
4. Working quickly, pour the batter into the pans – spread it inside evenly. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the crusts and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce temperature to 400 F.
to make the pizzas
1. Place crusts onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet. Smear most of the roasted garlic over the crust.
2. Slice the bell pepper chunks into smaller pieces if you wish. Arrange the eggplant and pepper slices on the crusts snuggly, to cover most of the surface.
3. Place pizzas back in the oven and bake for 10-15 more minutes. Sprinkle with feta cheese (if using) and finely chopped kale or other greens.
4. Let cool slightly before slicing.
September 30th, 2014
This past summer was a summer of ice cream for us. Since I bought an ice cream machine five years ago, I haven’t been buying ice cream in stores – it all seems too sweet to me. The only exception is specialty, like mochi and other types of Japanese ice cream.
This summer, it all began with Tarragon and Mint Ice Cream inspired by my home region in the springtime. Then I came across these amazingly perfumy guavas and turned them into ice cream. There were also Balsamic-Strawberry, Basil and Blackberry frozen treats. I believe that there is very little limit when it comes to flavors in ice cream – so many things take on an intriguing taste when frozen.
Bee pollen is one of my breakfast staples – I sprinkle it on yogurt, smoothies or porridge and love its taste and magical immune boosting, digestive aiding health benefits. The idea of including it into an ice cream came to me recently, when I tried Manuka honey for the first time. Generally, I’m not crazy about eating honey straight up and the most important quality that I look for is subtle sweetness – the kind of sweetness I remember from my childhood, when tasting young spring honey. Manuka honey, a honey made by New Zealand bees from the nectar of the native manuka tree, has the kind of flavor I crave – a complex and subtle taste. Apparently, it’s exceptionally good for you when it comes to types of honey, especially when combined with bee pollen. And if you’re anything like me, the first chill in the air won’t stop you from making a batch of this, dare I say, warming ice cream.
Manuka Honey and Bee Pollen Ice Cream
2 cans full fat Thai coconut milk
scant 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons Manuka honey
2 tablespoons bee pollen
1/2 teaspoon xanathan gum or 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract – optional
1. Blend coconut milk, 1/4 cup Manuka honey, 1 tablespoon bee pollen, xanathan gum, salt and vanilla (if using) in a blender until smooth. Chill well in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
2. Process in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon 1/3 of the ice cream into a chilled container, even it out and drizzle some of the remaining 2 tablespoons Manuka honey over. Sprinkle with some of the remaining bee pollen. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
3. Freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight. Let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before scooping and serving.
September 21st, 2014
I’m so excited to talk about the new creation of our long-time (virtual) friends, David and Luise, the team behind Green Kitchen Stories. I’ve been anticipating their second cookbook, Green Kitchen Travels, with much enthusiasm after admiring their work for many years. Once it arrived at my doorstep, I didn’t put it down until I saw the whole thing, studying every stunning image many times over. The book is filled with vibrant vegetarian and vegan dishes, many of which I was tempted to make right away. What makes it special is that every recipe is inspired by the authors’ travels around the world, often based on authentic dishes with a fresh, veggie-based twist. The creative and easy-going GKS style is evident on every page.
It was very tough for me to decide on a dish for this post. I was quite torn between the Crispy Aubergine Bites, Lentil and Strawberry Tacos, Sicilian Caponata, Vietnamese Pho, Vegan Moussaka, Indian Cardamom Laddu, Portuguese Sopa de Legumes and Lemongrass Brussels Sprout Curry. Finally, my never-ending love for Pad Thai took over, and this No Noodle Pad Thai recipe did not disappoint. The flavors here are warming, yet very fresh and crisp, with julienned daikon and carrots replacing noodles.
Now I’m off to shop for ingredients for the Caponata, before it’s too late in the season for tomatoes and eggplants.
The good news is that Green Kitchen Travels is available for pre-order right here! Thank you David and Luise for another beautiful cookbook.
No Noodle Pad Thai
1 daikon radish or zucchini
4 medium carrots – peeled
4 cups mung bean sprouts
4 spring onions (scallions) – finely chopped (I used chives here)
1 package firm tofu – cut in cubes
1 handfull cilantro leaves (I used basil because I had beautiful basil on hand)
2 tablespoons black or tan sesame seeds – toasted, plus extra for garnish
4 slices of lime – to serve
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) peanut butter (I used almond butter)
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
1. Create the noodles from the daikon and carrots using a julienne peeler, mandoline, spiralizer or potato peeler. Place the ‘noodles’ into a bowl, then add in the mung bean sprouts, onions, tofu, herbs and sesame seeds. Mix well.
2. Stir together all the sauce ingredients in a separate bowl, add more water if needed. Adjust the seasoning.
3. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and toss to combine thoroughly, using your hands. Garnish with more herbs, sesame seeds and a slice of lime.
Note: If making ahead, store the salad and sauce refrigerated in two separate containers.