Sunflower Seed Avocado Tomato Salad

I do not know about you, but when I hear the word salad, I think greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and all the other fresh vegetables that go in a bowl, tossed and drenched in dressing. Today is an overcast, icky day in Columbus Ohio so…… I thought what a better way to cheer up myself on this blah day and make a salad that has bright colors in it. If Mother Nature will not bring me sun today, at least I can create it in my kitchen. I did not have any green lettuce or spinach but I made this salad instead and I am just excited – a different kind of salad. I toasted sunflower seeds and sweet organic corn off the cob, topped with fresh cherry tomatoes, avocados, lightly sautéed zucchini salad with a tad of olive oil. I’m a happy person right now. I am looking forward to trying this again over the summer with fresh farmer market vegetables. Enjoy!

Sunflower Seed Avocado Tomato Salad
Created on 2/21/12

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13 organic cherry tomatoes sliced in half and then quartered
1 small organic zucchini, cubed
1 cup of organic yellow corn, sliced off the cob (frozen will work too)
¼ cup of raw organic sunflower seeds
1 avocado, seed removed and cubed
1 teaspoon of basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil, or other oil you prefer
Salt / Pepper for seasoning

In a small sauté pan, heat up over medium heat 1 tablespoon of oil of your choice and add the corn and sunflower seeds, season the corn and seeds with salt and pepper along with the basil. Sauté for about 5 to 10 minutes until the corn and sunflower seeds are brown like – somewhat like the color of toast. Remove from the heat and put in a glass bowl. Cool.

In the same sauté pan, which should already have a coating of oil from the corn and sunflower seeds, if not add about ½ tablespoon more of olive oil to the pan. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper, lightly sauté for about 2 to 3 minutes. The zucchini should have a good solid crunch but the raw taste should not be there. Add the zucchini to the bowl of corn and sunflower seeds. Cool.

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Cut up the tomatoes, put in a small glass bowl and season with salt and pepper with a drizzle of oil. Set aside. The salt will help the tomatoes create some juice.

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After the sautéed vegetables are semi-cool, add the tomatoes with the juice and cubed avocado to the bowl and toss lightly. Drizzle with ½ tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss well. Serve with whole grain crusty bread.

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Everything but the Kitchen Sink Veggie Burger

I am always trying to find decent vegetarian burger recipes for me to eat. My biggest frustration is keeping the patties together when I am cooking them. I found that the best way for me to cook veggie burgers is to put them on my stone and bake or broil them in the oven. This is less stress on the patty so there is no breakage. Veggie burgers usually come in all shapes and forms. I decided to make my own version and absolutely fell in love with it. What great flavor and so healthy for me. I just added things that I liked in a veggie burger and just kept adding till I achieved the flavors I wanted. Actually after adding all the ingredients, I couldn’t stop eating the veggie burger mixture. I think I hit it right on my taste buds! Adorn with your favorite things like pickles, lettuce, tomatoes, whole grain buns, caramelized onions, and mustard – whatever floats your boat. I think next time I might make Tahini dressing to go with this. Enjoy!

Pam’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink Veggie Burger
Created on 02/16/11

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1 can of organic garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
1 package of Tempeh from Trader Joe’s
1 cup of fresh corn sliced of the cob or frozen organic corn
2 organic carrots peeled and minced
1 cup of raw sunflower seeds
8 oz of mushrooms, cleaned and minced – I used Baby Bella mushrooms
1 small onion minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley minced
3 Tablespoons of Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
Salt / Pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
¼ cup of egg substitute (if you have a better binder ingredient for the veggie burger please use that)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare the vegetables; mince the mushrooms, onions, carrots, and garlic with a food chopper or with a knife. In a 10” sauté pan, heat up the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the vegetables, season with salt and pepper and sauté for a good 5 to 8 minutes until the carrots are sort of soft (not mushy). Remove from the heat.

In a food processor, pulsate the Tempeh and garbanzo beans until coarsely ground. Add the sautéed vegetables and pulsate a few times till mixture is blended. In the sauté pan, add the corn and sauté for about 3 minutes until the corn is cooked through, season with salt and pepper. In a glass bowl, empty the food processor bowl with the mixture into the glass bowl and mix in the corn. In the same sauté pan, toast the sunflower seeds until the color is a rich brown. Add the toasted sunflower seeds, minced parsley, egg substitute, and soy sauce combine well.

This makes about 8 to 9 patties. I formed the patties and placed them on the stoneware.

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Very lightly sprinkle olive oil over the patties so they do not dry out. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes until lightly browned and heated thoroughly.

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Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

I have been searching for some decent vegetarian or vegan Shepherd’s Pie recipes because the meat Shepherd’s Pie is extremely high in fat and is really not good for me. I have not found anything that seemed interesting or appealing to me so I decided to make my own after endless searches. Many of the recipes that I found seemed to be really high in carbohydrates which I felt came from the potatoes. I made mashed potatoes with cauliflower and 5 red skinned potatoes instead of the whole topping being mashed potatoes. Next time I think I will try the sweet mashed potatoes on top for the crust – I can picture the flavors or even try butternut/acorn squash mashed topping. I loved the lentils in my Shepherd’s Pie; it was loaded with this awesome hearty flavor – I was so thrilled that my recipe came out amazing! What is so great about this recipe is that you can omit or add the vegetable ingredients to suit your taste. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Created on 02/09/12

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1 cup of lentils, cleaned and picked through for any debris, discard debris and then cook lentils for one hour or until soft but not really soft to lose its shape and become mush
3 large organic broccoli crowns cleaned and chopped
½ head of organic cauliflower
5 organic red skin potatoes, scrubbed and cubed, leave red skin on
5 organic carrots, peeled and cubed into 1 to 2” chunks
1 cup of organic frozen corn
1 cup of organic Muir Glenn tomato sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (10 oz) package of white button mushrooms, wiped clean and cut into quarters
2 garlic cloves minced well
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup to 1 cup of vegetable broth
½ cup of Tofutti cream cheese (measure based on taste and texture of the mashed topping)
2 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter (measure based on taste and texture of the mashed topping)
Salt/Pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large stock pot lined with a steamer, put in the cleaned cauliflower, cubed potatoes and steam over medium high heat until tender – approximately about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the broccoli at the last 5 minutes of cooking, turn of the heat and remove the steamed vegetables to a large bowl. Separate the broccoli from the cauliflower and potatoes because the broccoli will go into the lentil filling.

While the vegetables are steaming, in a 10” sauté pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat, add the chopped onions, mushrooms, and carrots and sauté until the carrots are soft and the mushrooms and onions have a deep brown color on them. Add the frozen corn and garlic and sauté until the corn is heated thoroughly and the garlic is soft.

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Remove the sauté pan from the heat and add the cooked lentils. The lentils will absorb all the liquid from the vegetables. Add the broccoli to the sautéed lentil mixture and stir gently until everything is mixed well. Put the vegetables in a square 8 x 8 Pyrex or stone dish. Mix 1 cup of tomato sauce in the vegetables making sure everything is coated well.

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In the bowl with the steamed cauliflower and potatoes mash the vegetables together. Season with salt and pepper and add vegetable broth to bind the vegetables together to make the mashed potato topping. I did not use all the vegetable broth and added some Earth Balance butter to give it some buttery flavor. Add the Tofutti cream cheese. Remember this is what I like in texture and flavor, please adjust the broth, butter and cream cheese as how you would like your mashed topping to be.

Spread the Cauliflower/Potato mash on top of the lentil mixture and spread to cover. Bake @ 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes until the tomato sauce is bubbling out of the top and the mashed topping is lightly browned.

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Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes

Since moving to Ohio from Michigan I have been busy with many things and seriously have not really cooked for friends like I used to. Last night, I had my first official dinner with friends. Getting to know people’s food tastes can become challenging and intimating sometimes. I was lucky because vegetarian food was the perfect food choice for my newly made friend. Tomatoes are in season right now and the fresh flavors really popped in this recipe I took from the current summer Vegetarian Times Special Farmer’s Market Cookbook magazine. I wish I thought of it – absolutely brilliant. I did not change anything in the recipe it was perfect.

Ricotta-Basil Stuffed Tomatoes
Created on 8/11/11

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8 large beefsteak tomatoes
2 large eggs
1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese
¼ cup finely chopped onion
¼ cup chopped fresh basil (do not adjust this the flavor was perfect)
2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 cup fresh corn cut off the cob
1 cup diced zucchini plus 24 thin zucchini slices

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop pulp out of centers so that the filling can be stuffed inside the tomato. Discard half of the tomato pulp or reserve for another use. Finely chop the balance of the tomato pulp. Whisk together eggs and ricotta in a bowl until smooth. Add onion, basil, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, garlic, corn, diced zucchini and chopped tomato pulp; stir until combined. Fill each tomato just to the top with ½ cup of ricotta mixture, then sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of Parmesan cheese followed by 3 zucchini slices and cover with tomato top. Place in a baking dish. Bake 45 minutes or until filling is pulled up and tops are browned. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Roasted Potato Salad

I was invited to a barbeque potluck recently and wanted to bring something that I would not have to worry about spoiling when sitting out in the warm weather for a long time. I visited the local farmer’s market in Worthington, OH and took advantage of their wonderful spring vegetable picks for my recipe. Fresh herbs, asparagus, baby red potatoes, spring green onions, and garlic were all a part of my creation for this dish. The results were amazing and there was just a little tiny serving left after the night was through. Enjoy!

Roasted Potato Salad created 06/11/11

5 lbs baby red potatoes, scrubbed well, cut into bite size cubes

2 bunches of spring green onions, chopped white and green parts both

1 lb of asparagus, cleaned and cut into bite size pieces

4 corn on the cobs, remove corn from cob with sharp knife

1 pint cherry tomatoes, cleaned and halved

2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, parsley

8 cloves of garlic peeled and minced

Olive Oil

Salt / Pepper

In a large bowl, combine green onions and potatoes with about 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt and pepper, coat well and spread single layer on a cookie sheet or stone. Put in oven @ 425 degrees for about 20 minutes until vegetables are soft and golden color.

Put cut asparagus in a bowl and coat with approximately 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Put asparagus single layer on a cookie sheet or stone and place in oven for about 15 min or less.

Put the cut corn in a sauté pan with about ½ tablespoon of olive oil, halved tomatoes and minced garlic, season with salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes or until tomatoes shrivel a little. Remove from heat and put in a large serving bowl and top with fresh chopped basil and parsley.

Put roasted red potatoes and asparagus in bowl and toss well.

It is possible you may have to add another tablespoon of olive oil (optional).

Season dish with salt and pepper as needed.

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Grilled Guacamole Dip

There were avocados on sale when I went grocery shopping over the Fourth of July weekend and I thought I would try something different with the avocados. I am a huge fan of guacamole and saw something quick on the food channel about grilling avocados. I decided to experiment and try grilling all my vegetables and created this amazing dip. I am thinking that next time, I will grill a couple of Jalapeno peppers and add it to the dip to give it some pop instead of using Tabasco sauce. This recipe is so delicious!

Grilled Guacamole Dip, created 07/06/2010

(2) Roma Tomatoes, sliced thick
(3) Avocados, cut in half and pitted
(1) Lemon, sliced thick
(1) Onion, sliced thick
(2-3) Tablespoons Olive Oil (approximately)
(2) Corn on the Cob (fresh or already cooked)
Tabasco Sauce
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Prep and Grilling the Vegetables:
Cut tomatoes, onion, and lemon into thick slices. Cut the avocados in half and remove the seed. Preheat a grill pan or if you are barbequing that day, you can barbeque these items on the grill. Brush all the vegetables lightly with olive oil except for the lemon and the hard green part of the avocado shell. Place the avocado halved side down on the grill along with the sliced onions. Lightly season the sliced onion with salt and pepper. Grill the avocado and onion until you have good grill marks – will be about 4 to 5 minutes for the avocados and maybe 6 to 7 minutes for the onion. Remove from the grill and place the sliced tomato and lemon on the grill. The tomatoes will take no more than a minute and half and the lemon slices about 3 to 4 minutes. Grill the corn on the cob until the corn is light brown all the way around the cob, brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. This may take a good ten to fifteen minutes depends on your oven or grill.

To Make the Guacamole:
With a large spoon, gently run the spoon around the avocado shell and remove the inside of the avocado and put in a bowl. Chop into small pieces the grilled onion and place in the bowl. Chop up the grilled tomatoes and put aside. Run a sharp knife down each side of the cob to remove the corn.

Mash the avocados to the desired consistency you prefer and add the tomatoes and the corn. Squeeze the lemon slices to extract the juices and mix all the ingredients well. Add about 15 to 20 drops of Tabasco sauce and lightly season with salt and pepper. Mix lightly one more time and serve with vegetables, crackers, or chips. Enjoy!

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Edamame, Black Bean Corn Salad

Hello fans! It has been awhile since I have done any serious cooking. Looking back at my food diaries and notes, I think my last post was January 17th. For that I apologize and I have missed cooking, creating new recipes to add to my lifelong commitment of eating and making healthy food choices. I created this dish to eat for lunch or dinner to go with a nice green/herb salad with simple vinaigrette dressing. The flavors in this bean salad go very well together and it is a perfect dish to bring to a picnic barbeque or to simply grab a bite to eat when on the run. Enjoy!

Edamame, Black Bean, Corn Salad created 06/10/11

Edamame Black Bean Corn Salad

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1 can organic black beans rinsed and drained

¾ cup fresh corn cut from the cob or frozen organic corn thawed

1-1/2 to 2 cups shelled edamame thawed

½ cup red onion finely diced (optional)

1 pint or 2 cups of your favorite salsa (I used my own salsa that I canned from my garden last summer)

2 tomatoes diced, with seeds

3 tablespoons good quality olive oil

2 teaspoons ground cumin

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl and refrigerate for a few hours to give the flavors a chance to marry.  Eat alone or with a salad – serves 4-5 people.

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