Archive for July, 2009

Walnut Miso Dressing (or dipping sauce)

I found this recipe on the 101 Cookbooks blog – a blog that is well worth following, by the way.   The dressing sounded intriguing, but I’m doing a cleanse of sorts, so I altered it a bit to meet my needs.  I used it on a chopped salad, but I also like it with quinoa and vegetables and as a dip and I think it would be great on a veggie burger too.  See below for some recipe suggestions…

By the way, I use a Magic Bullet to make this and other nut-based dressings, as well as for a variety of other things like chopping flaxseeds and other nuts and seeds, blending frozen fruit into a quick frozen treat, etc, etc.  Yes, it’s one of those “as seen on tv” things.  I received it as a gift from my sister-in-law and I have truly used it at least once a day since then.  You don’t have to wait for the infomercial if you want to buy one; I have seen them around town at Target, Bed Bath and Beyond and Costco. 

Walnut-Miso Dressing

  • 1 cup walnuts, soaked and dried or lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mellow white miso
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • water, 1/4 or more
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Blend walnuts, olive oil, garlic, miso, and apple cider vinegar with 1/4 cup of water in a blender (or Magic Bullet:)  Add additional water to achieve the proper consistency – thick, but pourable for a dip or a bit thinner, but not watery, for a dressing.  Add some pepper and just a bit of salt, then taste and adjust if necessary. 

Walnut-Miso Quinoa: Add diced, crunchy veggies like carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, and sugar snap peas, along with lightly-steamed broccoli and cooked white beans to some cooked quinoa and dress with walnut miso dressing.

Chopped Salad: Crunchy salad greens, chopped roasted beets, diced raw carrots, chopped steamed broccoli and garbanzo beans placed on a cutting board and roughly chopped, then tossed with walnut miso dressing

Tempeh Burger: Cut one cake of tempeh into burger-sized patties and put in a medium saucepan with about 1/2 cup water, 3 Tablespoons tamari, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and 1 clove of garlic, chopped.  Turn heat to high until the liquid boils, then turn down to medium and steam the tempeh until the liquid is absorbed.  Grill, saute, or bake tempeh, then serve on a bun with lettuce, tomato and walnut miso dressing.  If you don’t have buns, serve over brown rice with green beans (below) on the side, then drizzle with walnut miso dressing.   

Walnut Miso Green Beans: Saute a shallot in olive oil until lightly browned, then add green beans and a pinch of salt and continue to saute, until green beans are tender-crisp.  Drizzle with walnut miso dressing and enjoy!


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Basic Soaked and Cooked Quinoa

For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa, or soaking grains, here is a quick recipe that brings the already-short cooking time down to just about 5 minutes.  Helpful if your kitchen is overheating your house…I like to have cooked quinoa in my fridge for whatever recipe I feel like making, so I keep the seasoning to a minimum.  But, if you have a recipe in mind or are in the mood for a specific taste, by all means, spice it up!

Soaking initiates the sprouting process, thus making the quinoa more digestible.  I also really like the texture of grains that are soaked before cooking.  I find the quinoa is has a little more body and a chewier texture when prepared this way.  Don’t be surprised if the quinoa starts to sprout a bit in the soaking water, especially if it’s warm in the kitchen.  If it’s too warm, though, or you aren’t ready to cook it after 8-12 hours, just stick it in the fridge until cooking time. 

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • water for soaking


  • 1/2 cup water
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste

Soak quinoa in plenty of fresh water (to cover by at least a couple inches) for 8-12 hours.  In the morning, heat 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan.  While it’s coming to a boil, pour the soaked quinoa into a colander and rinse until the water no longer looks soapy (saponins are what create those soapy-looking bubbles and they can make the quinoa taste bitter).  When the water comes to a boil, add a little olive oil and sea salt, then add the quinoa.  Cover and let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes, stirring around about halfway through the time.  Stir again, then leave covered for another 5-10 minutes.  Enjoy plain with a little additional salt and some pepper, or saute with shallots or scallions and greens for a quick side dish.  Really the possibilities are endless!

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Balsamic Beets, Raw or Roasted

This year, I planted my first-ever garden and, of course, planted many of my favorite vegetables.  A certain person, to whom I am married, scoffed at my gardening aspirations because of the track record I have with houseplants, which I have to admit is a valid point.  But, this is food and I take my food seriously.  And, also critical to this undertaking, I am gardening in a community plot in the extra lot of some close friends who have been so graciously willing to water all of our gardens and call me to let me know when I am delinquent in my harvesting. 

I was so pleasantly surprised today when I went to harvest some salad greens and noticed that some of my beets were practically jumping out of the dirt, just waiting to be picked.  I normally roast my beets to bring out their delicious sweetness, but since my house is already plenty toasty, I decided to give my usual recipe a raw makeover and they turned out to be quite delicious! 

Oh, and by the way, make sure you save those greens!  When you pick or buy beets, remove the greens and store them separately, then use them as you would any other greens.  A quick saute with just olive oil and a bit of salt is all they need. 

  • 4 medium-sized beets
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons basalmic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons agave, honey, or maple syrup
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For RAW marinated beets:  Peel the beets with a vegetable peeler, then slice as thinly as possible.  Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to accomodate the beets, then add the beets and mix them around so that all of the slices are coated.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.  They get better and better the longer they sit.  Enjoy!

In case you happen upon a bunch of beets on a cooler day when turning the oven on is more appealing, here are the directions for Roasted Balsamic Beets: Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Wash the beets, don’t bother to peel them yet and place them in an ovenproof dish with a cover.  Put in oven (no need to wait until it heats up) and roast until easily pierced with a fork.  The time will depend on the size of the beets; for medium beets, plan about 30-45 minutes.  Once soft, remove the beets from the oven and leave them until they are cool enough to handle.  Slip the skins off; they will slide off easily as long as the beets are well-cooked.  Cut into desired size pieces.  Toss in olive oil, basalmic and agave, then season to taste.  Serve warm or cold.  They are great on their own, but also delicious in salads.

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Quinoa Vegetable Salad

So, I have to confess….I love peas.  And for most of the year, that means frozen peas.  As a proponent of local, seasonal food, I am embarrassed to say that I buy them all year round.  Every once in a while, I realize it’s ridiculous and I stop buying them, then I miss them and I buy them again.  But, I love them even that much more when they are in season and I can eat them to my heart’s content with the knowledge that they were grown by one of my favorite local farms instead of by who knows whom and shipped in a plastic bag to my local store. 

One of my favorite ways to eat fresh peas is simply lightly sauteed and tossed with cooked quinoa, broccoli, and raw shredded  carrots, then dressed with miso-mustard sauce…this salad is equally delicious with fresh, raw sugar snap peas. 

Serves one…embellish and multiply as desired!

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • sea salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped broccoli
  • 1/3 cup shelled peas
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 Tablespoons miso-mustard sauce

Heat a small pan over medium heat, add olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a little water.  Add chopped broccoli, cover, and let steam until just tender.  Add peas and saute for about a minute, until lightly cooked.  Pour into a serving bowl, add quinoa and carrots, then stir in miso-mustard sauce.  Yum!

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Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

This is a great recipe for a potluck; it accomodates just about everyone, because it is vegan and gluten free, but also familiar enough to be enjoyed by even the most mainstream eater.  The crunch of the raw vegetables compliments the creamy black beans and the quinoa adds an additional layer of texture.  It’s seasoned with a simple vinaigrette, but, as always, you can spruce it up however you like.  

Bean salads are great, in general, because they are hearty and filling and have the flexibility to take on whatever produce is in season.  If you have the beans and quinoa cooked already, it will only take about 5-10 minutes to throw this salad together, but you can also make it well in advance to avoid that last minute panic.  This is one of those recipes that you just do by look and taste, but I’ll take an educated guess at the proportions and then you can make it your own!  And, of course, double it or triple it as necessary.

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa*
  • 2 cups cooked black beans**
  • 1 small red onion, very finely minced
  • 1 small orange pepper, diced
  • 1 small yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or more to taste
  • 3-4 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, beans, and vegetables.  Pour the oil and vinegar into the mixture and season with salt and pepper.  Taste and adjust dressing and seasonings.  If time permits, refrigerate an hour or longer to allow the flavors to come together.  Enjoy cold or at room temperature.

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