Best Pasta with No Cook Tomato Sauce

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What could be easier than tossing warm pasta with fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil?  This is a delicious NO COOK sauce that I have been making for ten years or so.  It is really delicious!   I no longer have the original recipe for this ‘sauce’ and usually only think about making it later in the summer when I have too many tomatoes on my windowsill on the verge of getting overripe. This recipe  is a great use for tomatoes that are a bit past their prime and starting to get a mealy texture. Of course, the better quality tomatoes, the more delicious the sauce but you can slip in an overripe tomato or two and it will work out just fine.  You can also add a few cherry tomatoes if you wish. I just use what I have on hand, but the more colorful the variety of tomatoes, the better.  Just dice the tomatoes, add a clove of minced garlic, sliced or chopped basil and oregano, drizzle with olive oil and let sit on the counter at room temperature for one to three hours.  All the flavors combine and transform raw tomatoes into a deliciously fresh sauce.  Sometimes I add fresh mozzarella for a Caprese type pasta or sprinkle with grated or shaved parmesan but it is just as good on its own. Great vegan cheese choices are Miyoko’s Vegan Mozz and Vio Life Just Like Parmesan.

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There is some debate whether tomatoes are more nutritious raw or cooked.  Usually cooking vegetables reduces their nutritional value as vitamins are lost during the cooking process, however, it looks like tomatoes may be different.  Cooking tomatoes reduces the amount of vitamin C but may increase the amount of lycopene (a phytochemical with antioxidant properties) that can be absorbed by our bodies.  So I think its a toss up.  You can lightly sauté this sauce if you prefer but I love the simplicity of leaving it raw as nature intended. It can be served immediately, warmed by the hot pasta or at room temperature.

TIP:  Garlic lovers beware!  For those of us who pile on the garlic, be forewarned.  Since this sauce is not cooked, the garlic does not mellow and sweeten the same way it does when cooked, so don’t use the same amount you would in a cooked sauce and make sure you finely mince. For gluten free substitute a GF pasta. There are so many good options out there now! Easy peasy…

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Spaghetti with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Tomato Pasta1

4 – 6 ripe tomatoes of varying size and variety

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh basil, sliced or chopped

1 Tbsn fresh oregano, chopped (or thyme)

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)

1 cup fresh mozzarella (optional)

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  •  Dice tomatoes and place in a medium sized bowl

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  •  Add garlic, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper to tomatoes.

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  •  Stir gently to combine and let sit at room temperature for one to three hours (30 minutes if you can’t wait).

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  •  Slice or dice fresh mozzarella, if using.

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  •  Add mozzarella to the sauce about 15 minutes or so before serving. (You don’t want it sitting out too long). Adjust seasoning, if necessary.

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  •  Cook spaghetti according to instructions, drain and place in a serving bowl.

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  •  Pour tomato sauce over the top and gently combine.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rustic Tomato Tart

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I can’t say enough about these roasted tomatoes – drizzled with balsamic and honey and slow roasted until they reach caramelized perfection.  Their cooking juice alone is worth the price of admission, delicious as a dipping  sauce for a crusty baguette.  But that’s not all!   I layered the lovely roasted tomatoes over a bed of fresh mozzarella and then folded it all in a buttery crust to form a rustic tart. You would never know that the crust is actually good for you because it’s so yummmy, but it’s made with 100% White Whole Wheat Flour.  No that wasn’t a typo.  I used a whole grain flour made from white whole wheat, which is a different kind of wheat whose germ has a lighter color and milder in flavor than the more traditional ‘red’ wheat.  It has the same nutritional value as whole wheat but is not as heavy, making it a better choice for baking. I believe in making food healthy but not at the expense of taste.  Win, Win!
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These roasted tomatoes are really sweet and flavorful, great layered in sandwiches or mixed in with other vegetables. I know I will be making these over and over again!  I know I already said this, but it bears repeating.  The sauce is ‘to die for’ so carefully pour every last drop into a small bowl and use it as a dipping sauce.
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Tomatoes are America’s favorite vegetable (even though it’s technically a fruit) and they are so wonderful when they are in season like right now, fresh from the vine.  You can just taste the goodness! If you are worried that cooking tomatoes, destroys the nutrients, don’t. Tomatoes are one of the veggies that actually benefits from being cooked. Most people know that tomatoes are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, like lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect our immune systems.  The best way to get lycopene, which is in the skin and gives tomatoes their red color, is through cooked or processed tomatoes.  Cooking them with a little healthy oil helps carry the lycopene into the bloodstream. ( Best Health Magazine)  So roast away!  You won’t regret it…

TIPS:  This recipe is easy to make vegan.  Just substitute a vegan mozzarella (I really like Miyoko’s Vegan Mozz) and vegan parmesan (I like Vio Life Just Like Parmesan) or omit the cheeses which are not necessary anyway, as the star of this dish is really the roasted tomatoes. To veganize the crust, substitute a vegan butter (I love Miyoko’s) or oil and brush the crust with non-dairy milk (My favorite is Oatley) before cooking.  Then I would suggest sprinkling the tomatoes and especially the crust with a coarse salt and more herbs before baking.
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I spotted this recipe in the Farm Fresh – Summer, 2015 magazine, although I added a layer of fresh mozzarella beneath the tomatoes and used white whole wheat flour for the crust for a more nutritious tart.
RUSTIC ROASTED TOMATO TART
7-8 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)-divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella or vegan mozz, sliced
1/4 cup parmesan or vegan parm, shredded(optional)
CRUST (or your favorite pre-made crust)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)plus more for dusting the surface
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted vegan butter
2 Tbsn + 1 tsp ice water
1 egg or 2 Tbsn non-dairy milk(for glazing the crust)
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If you are making dough for a crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.  Cut butter into slices and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 20 times or until the butter particles are small.  With the motor running, add the ice water and process until the dough is beginning to come together.  It will be loose but will come together if you pinch it.  Turn the loose dough out onto a mixing bowl and knead it briefly  Shape it into a flat disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.  (Or to save time later, you can roll it into a 12 inch round, then wrap it in plastic and store in the refrigerator)
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Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush with with olive oil.  Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.
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Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and carefully remove seeds.
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Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
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Pour the balsamic mixture into each tomato half, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2 tsp thyme.
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Roast the tomatoes until they are brown on the edges and collapsed, about an hour.  Let them cool.  Save any pan juices to serve with crusty sourdough bread!
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While the tomatoes are cooling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 400.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch round, then transfer to parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect.  I think it makes a more interesting tart.
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Arrange mozzarella slices in the center of the round, leaving a 2 inch border of dough.
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Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the mozzarella, starting in the center and slightly overlapping, still leaving a 2 inch border.

Fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomatoes, pleating as you go.
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Brush the dough (including under the folds) with beaten egg.  Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and remaining thyme. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes.

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Let cool slightly and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.




Rustic Tomato Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 
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7-8 ripe tomatoes
1/3 cup olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
3 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp dried)-divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup parmesan, shredded(optional)
CRUST (or your favorite pre-made crust)
1 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose flour)plus more for dusting the surface
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter
2 Tbsn + 1 tsp ice water
1 egg (for glazing the crust)
If you are making dough for a crust, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse briefly to combine.  Cut butter into slices and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse about 20 times or until the butter particles are small.  With the motor running, add the ice water and process until the dough is beginning to come together.  It will be loose but will come together if you pinch it.  Turn the loose dough out onto a mixing bowl and knead it briefly  Shape it into a flat disc and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 days.
Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Brush with with olive oil.  Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl.
Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and carefully remove seeds.
Place tomatoes cut side up on the baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Pour the balsamic mixture into each tomato half, distributing as evenly as possible. Sprinkle with 2 tsp thyme.  Roast the tomatoes until they are brown on the edges and collapsed, about an hour.  Let them cool.  Save any pan juices to serve with crusty sourdough bread!
While the tomatoes are cooling, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature.  Heat oven to 400.  Line a heavy duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 12 inch round, then transfer to parchment paper. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t perfect.  I think it makes a more interesting tart.
Arrange mozzarella slices in the center of the round, leaving a 2 inch border of dough.
Arrange the roasted tomato halves over the mozzarella, starting in the center and slightly overlapping, still leaving a 2 inch border.
Fold the edge of the dough up and over the tomatoes, pleating as you go.
Brush the dough (including under the folds) with beaten egg.  Sprinkle the tart with parmesan and remaining thyme. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Let cool slightly and transfer to a cutting board or serving platter.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
 
 


Veggie Zucchini Enchiladas (gf)

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Love Mexican food but not the heavy carbs and calories? You might like these vegetarian enchiladas packed with fresh corn, black beans, mushrooms and pasilla peppers, sauteed with garlic, cumin and chili powder, then rolled in thin slices of summer squash, nestled in a bed of zesty red enchilada sauce and topped with pepper jack cheese.  Bake in the oven until the cheese is melty and the sauce is bubbling. Yum!  You won’t miss the tortillas (or the calories).

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These enchiladas are seriously good!  I made them twice.  The first time (above) I used corn, mushrooms and pasillo peppers.  You can see that the zucchini slices were harder to roll. (*See TIPS) The second time I added black beans and black olives.  I loved both versions but preferred the second one but I happen to love beans. I understand that some people don’t like or can’t tolerate beans.  It’s pretty easy to adapt this recipe to your tastes. The addition of beans (of any type) boosts protein as well as adding fiber and important vitamins and minerals without adding loads of calories.  Even without the beans, the corn, mushrooms and peppers have quite a bit to offer.  Corn has gotten a bad reputation nutritionally speaking because it’s a carb but corn contains certain B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as magnesium and potassium.  Corn also contains a large amount of insoluble fiber which helps get the bowel going and feeds ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. For more information on poor maligned corn, read this great article 5 Myths About Corn

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I added a dab of ricotta for creaminess and a sprinkle of pepper jack for cheesy deliciousness but these cheeses are optional for those who want to cut dairy or calories. This is a vegetarian recipe but it is easy to veganize.  My favorite ricotta is made by Kite Hill, a vegan ricotta made from almond milk rather than cow’s milk.  It’s slightly salty taste and creamy texture complement the veggies and sauce in this dish. I use it for everything!

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There are plenty of vegan hard and shredded cheeses available for use instead of traditional pepper jack.  Vegan readers, please message me your favorites and how you like to use them and I will give them a try.  I love using new products and I am moving away from dairy.

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TIPS:  This recipe calls for yellow squash because it is softer and more pliable than zucchini.  If you do use zucchini, you might try salting it after slicing and letting it sit for about 10 minutes to soften.  This is also a good trick if you like your ‘tortillas’ to brown as the salt draws out excess water.  If you can only find small squash, use 4 slices instead of 3 to make your tortilla wraps.  Fresh corn is fabulous but you can also use frozen corn.  I don’t recommend canned corn unless that is your only option.

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VEGGIE ZUCCHINI ENCHILADAS

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced (or small can diced green chilis)
  • 1 16 oz can or 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 4 large yellow squash (or zucchini) *see TIPS
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)
  • 1 cup cheddar, jack or hot pepper jack cheeses, shredded
  • sliced black olives as garnish (optional)
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  • Preheat oven to 350º. Saute onion in large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
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  • Add corn, pepper and mushrooms, saute several minutes until mushrooms release their water. Remove from heat and stir in beans.
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  • Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice squash lengthwise into thin strips.
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  • Arrange three zucchini slices, slightly overlapping, and Spread a Tablespoon of ricotta along the center, if using.
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  • Place a spoonful of veggie mixture on top and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.
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  • Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Roll up and transfer to the baking dish, open side down. Repeat with remaining squash slices.   Spoon any remaining corn mixture into ends of enchiladas.
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  • Top with remaining enchilada sauce, cheese and olives, if using.
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  • Bake until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.

Veggie Zucchini Enchaladas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced (or small can diced green chilis)
  • 1 16 oz can or 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 4 large yellow squash (or zucchini) *see TIPS
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)
  • 1 cup cheddar, jack or hot pepper jack cheeses, shredded
  • sliced black olives as garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Saute onion in large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2.  Stir in garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
  3. Add corn, pepper and mushrooms, saute several minutes until mushrooms release their water. Remove from heat and add black beans.
  4. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.
  5. Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice squash lengthwise into thin strips.
  6. Arrange three zucchini slices, slightly overlapping, and Spread a Tablespoon of ricotta along the center, if using.
  7. Place a spoonful of veggie mixture on top and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.
  8. Roll up and transfer to the baking dish, open side down. Repeat with remaining squash slices.   Spoon any remaining corn mixture into ends of enchiladas.
  9. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
  10. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.

Steamed Artichokes with Two Vegan Dipping Sauces

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There is nothing more nostalgic for me than steaming artichokes and eating them one leaf at a time, just like when I was a kid, teethmarks and all.  It’s definitely the easiest way to cook them and it makes a fun appetizer or side dish, especially when you have delicious sauces to dip them in.   I grew up dipping artichokes in mayo or melted butter but why limit yourself? Picture whole steamed artichokes dipped in either Lemon Herb Butter or Garlic Parmesan Aioli (both vegan and delicious).  

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The artichokes in my garden are ripe, in fact one has flowered which is an incredible work of nature. They are actually just giant thistles.  I love them so much, that I always let one go to seed on purpose and sometimes they go to seed by accident when I’m out of town, although for obvious reasons, that didn’t happen last year… I have recently oven roasted, pan roasted and stuffed artichokes with great results. For the more adventurous artichoke lover, check out these recipes:

Meatless Monday-Roasted Artichokes & Fennel with Lemon Parsley Pesto

or 

Meatless Monday – Roasted Artichokes Stuffed with Garlic, Parmesan & Quinoa

or 

Meatless Monday – Pan Seared Artichokes with Blackened Garlic

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Artichokes are great for scooping up yummy sauces but are they actually good for you?  The answer is Yes! Did you know that artichokes have more  antioxidants than cranberries or blueberries and more fiber than lima beans or prunes? They are also loaded with important vitamins and minerals including vitamin K, magnesium, potassium and manganese. Click through to read more about the amazing artichoke:   12 Unexpected Health Benefits of Artichokes .

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Those trying to limit or eliminate dairy from their diets should try a few fabulous new vegan products.  Miyoko’s Creamery has a vegan butter made from cultured cashew milk.  It is delicious and tastes just like real butter. It’s actually the only butter I buy now and comes in unsalted too. Miyoko also makes really delicious cheeses and is coming out with new types all the time. I really like the Double Cream Chive soft cheese and her Vegan Mozz works…

My favorite vegan mayonaise is Just Mayo from Hampton Creek which is so good that the mayo industry tried to shut them down. It’s egg free and made from pea protein but best of all it tastes just like the real thing.  I love promoting new products that are really good. I also like Vegenaise Mayo from Follow Your Heart which is easier to find.  

Another non-dairy staple is VioLife Just Like Parmesan. It comes in a wedge that you can freshly grate into dishes. It’s pretty darn good and I’m picky about cheese. Look for these products in your store.  I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

TIPS:  I like to cut the sharp tips off the ends of the leaves but you can skip this step if you are in a hurry or don’t want to go to the trouble.  You can also just throw them in a pan with plain water and they will turn out just fine.  A wide pan where the artichokes can fit in a single layer works better than a tall one.

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STEAMED ARTICHOKES

4 artichokes
1 bay leaf
3-4 cloves garlic
3-4 lemon slices or 1 Tbsn lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

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  • Bring 2 inches of water to a boil and add bay leaf, garli, lemons, salt and pepper.
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  • Cut the stems off each artichoke so they can sit upright. Trim the prickly thorn tips from each petal and cut the top half inch off of each one. Rinse them under cool water.
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  • Place them upside-down in the water, cover the pot and simmer on low for 25-35 minutes, or until a knife can be easily pierce the bottom.  While the artichokes are simmering, prepare your dips.
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  • Using tongs, remove the artichokes from water and allow to drain.  Place on a serving platter.
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  • Serve with dips and lots of napkins.
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LEMON HERB BUTTER

1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
1 Tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme, oregano or basil
1 Tbsn lemon juice

  • In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients.  Taste and season with salt if desired. Serve warm.
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GARLIC PARMESAN AIOLI

1/2 cup vegan mayonaise or plain yogurt for a zip
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or garlic paste)
1/4 cup vegan parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Steamed Artichokes with Two Dipping Sauces

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 artichokes
1 bay leaf
3-4 cloves garlic
3-4 lemon slices or 1 Tbsn lemon juice)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • Bring 2 inches of water to a boil and add bay leaf, garli, lemons, salt and pepper.
  • Cut the stems off each artichoke so they can sit upright. Trim the prickly thorn tips from each petal and cut the top half inch off of each one. Rinse them under cool water.
  • Place them upside-down in the water, cover the pot and simmer on low for 25-35 minutes, or until a knife can be easily pierce the bottom.
  • While the artichokes are simmering, prepare your dips.
  • Using tongs, remove the artichokes from water and allow to drain.  Place on a serving platter.
  • Serve with dips and lots of napkins.

LEMON HERB BUTTER

1/2 cup butter (or vegan butter), melted
1 Tsp fresh or 1/2 tsp dried thyme, oregano or basil
1 Tbsn lemon juice

  • In a small bowl, stir together all ingredients.  Taste and season with salt if desired. Serve warm.

GARLIC PARMESAN AIOLI

1/2 cup mayonaise or plain yogurt
1-2 cloves garlic, minced (or garlic paste)
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  • In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Black Bean Quinoa with Cumin Orange Vinaigrette

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Tired of green salad?  This flavor filled quinoa salad with mango and avocado topped with an orange cumin vinaigrette is one of my favorites!  I promise you won’t be bored. It’s a little bit spicy from the jalapenos, a little bit sweet from the mango, the black beans add a rich salty flavor and fresh avocado, purple onion, bell pepper and cilantro make it salad worthy.  Yum!

Quinoa is the perfect backdrop for these beautiful flavors.  It also happens to be a nutritional powerhouse, high in protein, low in fat, gluten free and loaded with lovely vitamins and minerals (but you don’t have to tell your family that).  What I didn’t know is that Mango is also a superfood, providing over 20 vitamins and minerals in every delicious bite.  Black beans add another protein and nutrient boost and their high fiber content helps keep your tummy full. Then there is the Avocado, which we now know is a good fat that is highly nutritious.  Look at the glorious colors! This is what they call ‘Eating the Rainbow”. The best part of this salad though, is how great it tastes! 

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This is the perfect dish to throw together for an easy dinner or bring to a potluck, especially if you have leftover quinoa on hand (or you make it ahead), then it’s only about ten minutes of chopping, mixing and you’re done!  This salad can be made a day ahead, without the avocado.  Bring to room temperature then gently toss in the avocado, if using, before serving.

TIP:  You can buy mango pre-cut but it’s very easy to do it yourself (and less expensive) if you know the right technique.  How to cut a Mango

https://www.mango.org/how-to-cut-a-mango/

VARIATIONS:  If you don’t have, or like, mango, you can substitute orange or nectarine segments (or even canned or frozen corn).  Use a combination of yellow, orange, red and green bell peppers for lots of color.  This recipe is only mildly spicy using one red jalapeno pepper so double the amount of jalapeno peppers and add a bit more cumin if you like it hot.

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad

BLACK BEAN QUINOA WITH CUMIN ORANGE VINAIGRETTE

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup mango, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red or green jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
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  • Rinse quinoa to remove bitterness and cook according to package instructions; set aside and let cool.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, cumin and salt in a small bowl; set aside. This recipe makes just enough dressing. If you want more to drizzle, double the recipe or just measure generously.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, black beans, avocado, onion and cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  • If you aren’t serving immediately, place the avocado pit on top of the salad to keep the avocado from turning brown, or add the avocado right before serving .  Serve at room temperature.
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 If you have any leftover mango, how about mango margaritas? They are cool and refreshing with just the right amount of sweet and tart – and now we know they are loaded with yummy nutrients!

https://goodmotherdiet.com/2014/05/02/mango-margaritas-homemade-tortilla-chips-with-grilled-pineapple-salsa/

Black Bean Quinoa with Cumin Orange Vinaigrette

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad4

1 cup quinoa
1 cup mango, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red or green jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves, chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
 
 vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

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  • Rinse quinoa to remove bitterness and cook according to package instructions; set aside and let cool.
  • To make the vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, orange juice, cumin and salt in a small bowl; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine quinoa, mango, bell pepper, jalapeno, black beans, avocado, onion and cilantro. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad and gently toss to combine.
  • If you aren’t serving immediately, place the avocado pit on top of the salad to keep the avocado from turning brown, or add the avocado right before serving .  Serve at room temperature.

Black Bean Mango Quinoa Salad8

Endive Salad Bites

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Appetizers are the little things you keep eating until you lose your appetite. ~ Joe Moore
I don’t know who Joe Moore is but I’m with him on this.  The way I look at it, you might as well make the appetizer as yummy and nutritious as dinner.  This one is sure to satisfy, or at least start your night off on a delicious, healthy and low cal note.  I’m loving the three bite salad!

I am a sucker for foods that have a nice presentation and are easy to eat appetizer style, my kind of eating! The shape of endive spears is perfect for stuffing. Just toss all the salad ingredients with the dressing and pile them up in the endive spear, or boats as I have always thought of them.  Their slight bitterness is offset by the sweetness of the orange and grapes and the creaminess of the avocado and soft cheese.  The vinaigrette is simple but helps to blend the flavors nicely and done in just a few minutes.

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Alternatively, you could julienne the endive and toss the whole thing together as a large salad.  Either way, delicious!

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The first time I made this salad was when I was getting weekly CSA boxes and my endive came with an informational blurb which I found quite interesting.  Endive is a member of the chicory family (which makes me think of coffee for some reason).  Belgian endive is grown from chicory roots in a dark environment, which is why their tender leaves are such a light color. I was enthralled, so I googled, and here is what endive looks like growing. At first glance I thought I was looking at a photo of a factory chicken farm! You can click on the photo link for the full story on endive.

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Photo Credit: http://endive.com/how-endive-is-grown

For their pale complexions, endive are surprisingly nutritious, providing many valuable vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, calcium, iron and zinc, among many others.  The biggest surprise is that it is a good source of beta-carotene which we usually attribute to the orange vegetable family.  But that’s not all.  It has more than 50% of the potassium of a banana. Not too bad for our pale friend, the endive.  It also makes a darn good edible appetizer boat.

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ENDIVE SALAD BITES

1 head Belgian endive
1 orange or grapefruit
1 avocado
1/2 cup red grapes
4 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled goat, gorgonzola or feta cheese (or vegan Vio Life Feta or Miyoko’s Classic Chive soft cheese)
1/3 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped (or more for garnish)

Marinade

2 Tbsn olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsn red wine or apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cut the ends off orange and remove the peel by cutting in a downward motion going all the way around.  Cut into wheels and then sections.  Place in a large bowl.
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  • Slice grapes and admire their gorgeous jewel toned colors.
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  • place in the bowl with the oranges.
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  • Halve avocado and cut into pieces a similar size to the orange segments.
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  • Add avocado, cilantro, scallions and crumbled goat cheese to the bowl.
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  • Prepare marinade and drizzle over salad sparingly.  You can always drizzle more later and since they are to be eaten by hand, you don’t want them too drippy.
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  • Cut the core end off the endive. Clean by gently wiping both sides with a lightly damp paper towel. Pull off as many leaves as you want to use. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator under a lightly damp paper towel. Place 1-2 tablespoons of salad into each endive spear.   Arrange on a platter and garnish with extra cilantro.

Endive Salad Bites

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head Belgian endive
1 orange or grapefruit
1 avocado
1/2 cup red grapes
4 scallions, chopped
1/3 cup crumbled goat, gorgonzola or blue cheese (or vegan Vio Life Feta or Miyoko’s Classic Chive soft cheese)
1/3 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped (or more for garnish)

Marinade

2 Tbsn olive oil
1 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsn red wine or apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

  • Cut the ends off orange and remove the peel by cutting in a downward motion going all the way around.  Cut into wheels and then sections.  Place in a large bowl.
  • Slice grapes and place in the bowl with the oranges.
  • Halve avocado and cut into pieces a similar size to the orange segments.
  • Add avocado, cilantro and scallions to the bowl.
  • Crumble goat cheese and add to the salad.
  • Cut the core end off the endive. Clean by gently wiping both sides with a lightly damp paper towel. Pull off as many leaves as you want to use. The remainder can be stored in the refrigerator under a lightly damp paper towel.
  • Prepare marinade and drizzle over salad sparingly.  You can always drizzle more later and since they are to be eaten by hand, you don’t want them too messy.
  • Place 1-2 tablespoons of salad into each endive spear.   Arrange on a platter and garish with extra cilantro.

Black & Wild Rice Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Pomegranate

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Black and Wild Rice with Roasted Butternut Squash and Pomegranate

People often ask for food recommendations.  Here it is people –    one of my top five favorite dishes so far!  This is a Wow! dish. I have updated a few photos from this 2014 blog when Goodmotherdiet was only 2 months old and I was a newbie at food photography.  I can remember feeling it was a major accomplishment just to get a photo onto the blog regardless of quality. But I digress… Black and wild rice, roasted butternut squash, scallions, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate and microgreens, all topped with a yummy honey vinaigrette!  I have made this dish out of season with dried cranberries or cherries with good results but nothing compares to the zing and pop that you only get from pomegranate seeds.

I love this grain salad because it can serve as a main course or a hearty side dish. It’s fabulous as a party or buffet dish since it’s served at room temperature. It can be made ahead and you just toss it when ready to serve.

To see the original blog post click on the link: https://goodmotherdiet.com/2014/01/27/meatless-monday-black-wild-rice-with-roasted-squash/amp/ But check out the new photos and recipe below first to see all of the goodness that goes into this dish. -Joyce

BLACK AND WILD RICE SALAD WITH ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND POMEGRANATE

  • 1 1/2  cup black rice
  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 medium or 1 small butternut squash
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 1 cup microgreens (or parsley or cilantro)
  • 1/2 cup pistachios (or pepitas – shelled pumpkin seeds)
  1. Cook black rice and wild rice in a large pot of boiling water with about 4 cups vegetable broth or salted water about 35 minutes or until tender.  Remove from pot into a large bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 450. Half, seed and peel the squash and cut into cubes.  I found a small squash so used the whole thing.  Place squash cubes in a baking dish and toss with 1/4 cup olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast squash 20 to 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Whisk vinegar, honey and 1/4 cup oil in a large bowl.  Add rice, squash, pomegranate, microgreens and pistachios; toss to combine.
  5. To make ahead, combine all ingredients except for dressing and microgreens and refrigerate. For serving, bring to room temperature, add dressing and microgreens and toss.

Meatless Monday -Vegan Mini Meatloaf

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Vegan meatloaf might not spring to mind as a delicious main course but I’m here to tell you it is….It’s reminiscent of my mother’s traditional meatloaf using Quaker Rolled Oats, onions, ketchup and Beyond Meat ground ‘beef’, cooked to a nice perfection and then topped with barbecue sauce for the last bit of cooking.  It’s pretty delicious.

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I was asked to come up with a vegan main course for a St. Patrick’s Day event where the main course was going to be corned beef.  This was a nice (and perhaps selfish)  challenge for me since even though I have gotten used to eating around the main course or making side dishes into dinner, its always nice to have a dinner option available.  Vegetarians and vegans are often in a pickle at parties where a vegetarian/vegan option isn’t being served.  We don’t want to be perceived as difficult or judgey, but then again we won’t eat the meat option and we are hungry too.  So when someone goes to the trouble to make sure there is something meat free , I am beyond grateful.

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I used to love my Mom’s meatloaf which was based on a Quaker Rolled Oats recipe from the 1960’s.  It was a huge hit in my house and now that there are so many good meat substitutes available, I decided to give meatloaf another whirl but using Beyond Meat ground beef substitute instead of actual ground beef. If you are interested in the health aspects or nutritional information, check out  Beyond Meat. I chose to make mini meatloaves because they are easier to serve than slicing, and they are darned cute.  You can use a mini meatloaf pan or hand form the meatloaves onto a glass baking dish or cooking sheet with a rim.

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You can also make a traditional large meatloaf using a loaf pan or free formed onto a baking dish.  This recipe is makes eight mini meatloaves. You can cut the recipe in half for four servings if you prefer.  Or you can make one large meatloaf.  Form meatloaf mixture with your hands into 10×6-inch loaf on glass baking dish or cooking sheet with a rim. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until meatloaf is firm and has a nice crust. Add barbecue sauce for the last 10 or 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes to ensure easy slicing.

I used real eggs as a binder, compliments of my backyard rescue chickens whom I consider ambassadors for all factory animals. Here’s my sister, Margaret, with Margaret the chicken. Aren’t they cute?  Check out their facebook page Mrs V’s Rescue Chickens.   If you aren’t lucky enough to have access to pasture raised chicken eggs or you don’t use eggs at all, there are really good options beyond making a flax egg (1 Tablespoon flax seeds to 3 Tablespoons water equals 1 egg).  I have had success using Just Egg but there is also Follow Your Heart and Red Hill Egg Replacer neither of which I have tried.

Tips:

Mini meatloaves can be made ahead of time, which is a nice time saver if you are hosting an event.  Uncooked loaves can be covered in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for a few days until you are ready to cook.  Just bring to room temperature before cooking to ensure even cooking.  Cooked meatloaves can be frozen for about three months and microwave well once defrosted.

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VEGAN MEATLOAF

  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pkgs of @beyondmeat Beyond Burgers  (2 lbs)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs or vegan egg substitute (*see note)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce or gf soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup barbecue sauce

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  • Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until tender, remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Combine all ingredients except for barbecue sauce in a large bowl.

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  • Mix well using a large wooden spoon (or I prefer to use my hands)

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  • Divide the mixture into eight parts and form them into small loaves and place on an oiled baking sheet, or spoon into oiled mini loaf pans, forming a rounded top on each one.

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  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, spread with barbecue sauce or ketchup and cook another 15 minutes,

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Vegan Mini Meatloaves

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 pkgs of @beyondmeat Beyond Burgers  (2 lbs)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 eggs or egg substitute (*see note)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce or soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • 1 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp of Onion Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup barbecue sauce or ketchup

 

  1. Saute the chopped onions in olive oil until tender, remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for barbecue sauce in a large bowl.
  3. Mix well using a large wooden spoon (or I prefer to use my hands)
  4. Divide the mixture into eight parts and form them into small loaves and place on an oiled baking sheet, or spoon into oiled mini loaf pans, forming a rounded top on each one.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, spread with barbecue sauce or ketchup and cook another 15 minutes,

 

Meatless Monday – Beet Veggie Burgers with Pickled Onions

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What is more American than a juicy burger, except for maybe baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, and I would argue about that… Well these burgers may not be traditional in that they are plant based, primarily quinoa and pinto beans and they get their lovely color from raw shredded beets, but they can definitely go head to head with a beef burger.  I thought these were really good, especially with the pickled red onions, butter lettuce, a little avocado, mustard and mayo, boom!  I could eat these once a week!

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I found this recipe in the Hannaford fresh Magazine, May – June 2019 this summer and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.  I have always liked veggie burgers, not because I miss meat, but because there is something so iconic about eating a burger.  It’s the ultimate comfort food. (Sorry mac and cheese)  I was immediately intrigued by the addition of raw shredded beet in this recipe. You may have tried the increasingly popular Beyond Meat Burger which is entirely plant based and gets its red coloring from beet juice which is what piqued my interest in this recipe.  Beyond Beef is a very good beef replacement but I’m not sure where regular people go about getting pea protein isolate so… that’s where this recipe comes in. These burgers are packed with protein provided by both the pinto beans and quinoa with smoked paprika and other spices to make a really delicious burger which is easy to make.   Plus homemade is best!
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…And the magic ingredient is beets!  In spite of their homely external appearance, once peeled they are beautiful and vibrant jewel tones, proving the old adage that beauty is on the inside. In addition to providing the gorgeous red color in these burgers, beets are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and iron.  One word of caution though, beet juice stains anything porous so use a ceramic cutting board or a plate when peeling.  I used my cuisinart for shredding which worked pretty well although it looked a bit like a bloodbath.
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I like to set up a burger bar so people can make their own.  This time, I set out pickled onion, avocado, dill pickles, butter lettuce and the usual condiments.  The pickled onion is a fun touch but completely optional.  Pickling red onions in half rice wine vinegar and half water softens their texture and sharpness.  It becomes a whole new vegetable!
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TIPS:  This recipe takes under 30 minutes if you are efficient, including quinoa cooking time.  Using leftover quinoa, or making it ahead, is even faster.  It does recommend refrigerating patties for a half hour before cooking to firm them up but this step can be skipped if you are pressed for time. This recipe can be made gluten free by using gluten free panko.  It can be made vegan by using an egg replacer or flaxseed combined with water. Use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal to 3 tablespoons of water for one egg.  The original recipe called for 1 cup chopped walnuts but I am allergic, so I skipped it altogether.  I don’t feel the recipe needed it but feel free to add walnuts for more heft and protein.
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BEET VEGGIE BURGERS
1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded red beet (1 small beet)
1 large egg or vegan egg substitute (see Tips)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
4 tsp. olive oil
6 hamburger buns
1/2 -1 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional-see Tips above)
PICKLED RED ONION (Optional)
1 small red onion
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
  • Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa according to directions.  Pour into a large bowl to cool.

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  • While quinoa is cooking, thinly slice red onion and place in a bowl with rice vinegar and water. Cover and refrigerate until burgers are ready for serving.

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  • Mash pinto beans with a wooden spoon until mostly broken down but not completely smooth and add to quinoa.

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  • Peel raw beet with a sharp knife on a plate to save your cutting board from staining.  Shred or grate in a food processor, mandolin or box grater. Add to quinoa mixture.

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  • Add breadcrumbs, egg, garlic powder, salt, and paprika and mix until well combined.

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  • Form mixture into six thick patties and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (You may be able to skip this step if you are in a hurry)

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  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add three patties and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and patties.

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  • Place cooked patties in buns and serve with pickled red onions and your other favorite toppings.

Beet Veggie Burger

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans(drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded red beet (1 small)
1 large egg or vegan egg substitute (see Tips)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
4 tsp. olive oil
6 hamburger buns
1/2 -1 cup finely chopped walnuts(optional-see Tips)
PICKLED RED ONION (Optional)
1 small red onion
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
  • Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa according to directions.  Pour into a large bowl to cool.
  • While quinoa is cooking, thinly slice red onion and place in a bowl with rice vinegar and water. Cover and refrigerate until burgers are ready for serving.
  • Mash pinto beans with a wooden spoon until mostly broken down but not completely smooth and add to quinoa.
  • Peel raw beet with a sharp knife on a plate to save your cutting board from staining.  Shred or grate in a food processor, mandolin or box grater. Add to quinoa mixture.
  • Add breadcrumbs, egg, garlic powder, salt, and paprika and mix until well combined.
  • Form mixture into six thick patties and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (You may be able to skip this step if you are in a hurry)
  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add three patties and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and patties.
  • Place cooked patties in buns and serve with pickled red onions and your other favorite toppings.

Meatless Monday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

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When I made this the first time, I declared it a place where meat lovers and vegans can co-exist in happiness.  I just made it again and I still agree. Here is a  ‘steak’ a meat lover will find tasty and satisfying while a vegetarian will be in raptures…  It takes less than 30 minutes and will not disapoint.    Last time, I served the tofu steaks with brown rice and broccoli with a healthy dose of chimichurri over everything which was hearty and satisfying.  This time, I served with a simple salad of lettuces and edible flowers that I had just picked from my garden.  It’s a hot day so it was perfect.

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Each tofu steak is a hefty seven ounces although my husband has a hearty appetite and usually eats his and goes back for seconds, so I need to use two blocks of tofu if I’m serving a large eater.  I also like to make sure there are leftovers for lunch.  Its really good cold too. The tofu is first brushed with a spicy and savory marinade and then pan seared and topped with a fresh and zesty chimichurri sauce, a South and Latin American condiment that is loaded with chili peppers, fresh herbs and garlic.  Chimichurri is good on almost anything and it can be made spicy or mild depending on your taste, which is why its so popular.  Originating in Argentina, it is commonly used to top grilled steak, which is one reason it’s so good on this dish.

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Even though the tofu should be allowed to drain for about 10 minutes, this recipe still takes less than 30 minutes.  Just slice the tofu and let it drain.  While it’s draining, prepare the chimichurri sauce and the marinade.  Using a food processor for the shimichurri sauce saves time and results in a smoother sauce.  Brush the tofu with the marinade and let sit while you prepare the rice or other veggies you’re serving.  The tofu only takes about 6 minutes to cook.  Easy, fast, delicious!

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Tofu steaks can be cut in two sizes, depending on preferences.  One block serves two people, unless you have someone with a large appetite, in which you can double the recipe.  I loved the thickness (about one inch) of the steaks and my husband loved the size (7 oz each).  Tofu is normally cut into thinner slices or cubes so this is a nice difference. The outside was so flavorful and the inside had a wonderful creamy consistency that you don’t get with thinner pieces.  For 7 oz steaks, stand the tofu on end and slice vertically to get two one inch thick pieces. For 3.5 oz steaks, cut each half in half. Pictured below.

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TOFU ‘STEAKS’ WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

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  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes. Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.

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  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. For a finer sauce, pulse in food processor.

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  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Marinade should be fairly thick and pasty. Set aside.

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  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.

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  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.

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  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TOFU STEAKS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.
  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, pulse in the food processor.
  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Set aside.
  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.
  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.
  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

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Salads in winter must have a hearty element to them or they just don’t work for me, especially in cold, wet weather, like now.  This one has roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, dried cranberries and salty feta over a bed of dark leafy greens, drizzled with a rich balsamic vinaigrette.  Yum! Best of all it’s simple, just a few delicious ingredients and good for you. Butternut squash is my favorite of the hard winter squashes and still in season.  Butternut squash has a natural sweetness that really shines when brushed with olive oil and roasted, and it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, as evidenced by it’s brilliant orange color.
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This salad is easy to make except for the peeling and cutting of the butternut squash  It is not that really that hard to peel but if you are looking for a shortcut, many supermarkets offer it already pre-cut into cubes.  Go for it if you need a big time saver!  This recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of cut up squash (medium butternut).  Supermarket packages of cut up squash are usually 16 to 18 ounces, which is equal to a small squash but totally adequate for this salad. It will just be slightly smaller.  To make this salad more hearty, you can add cooked barley or quinoa.  A layer of black or green lentils cooked al dente would be a good addition too.
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I used a sprinkling of feta cheese which works well with its salty flavor and crumbly texture.  Goat cheese would work well here too, as well as some of their vegan counterparts.  If you’re not a dried cranberry fan, walk on the wild side with dried blueberries or cherries.  Best of all is the vinaigrette with the balsamic reduction.  It’s rich and really complements the other ingredients, however, the ingredients do combine to a pretty delicious vinaigrette without the fuss of reducing the sauce.
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ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 cups fresh greens (baby kale, spinach, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted or candied
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread butternut squash pieces into a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can line baking sheet with parchment paper instead of oil for easy clean up.

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  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning a few times, until squash is tender.

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  • While the squash is cooking, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.  Or, if you want a thicker dressing, stir the vinegar and honey in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced by about half (recommended).  Let cool slightly and add the remaining ingredients.  Set aside.

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  • Thinly slice red onions and chop salad greens and add to large bowl or platter

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  • Allow squash to cool and then add to salad greens

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  • Top with dried cranberries, pecans and crumbled feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

 

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Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 cups fresh greens (baby kale, spinach, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted or candied
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread butternut squash pieces into a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can line baking sheet with parchment paper instead of oil for easy clean up.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning a few times, until squash is tender.
  • While the squash is cooking, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
  • Thinly slice red onions and chop salad greens and add to large bowl or platter
  • Allow squash to cool and then add to salad greens
  • Top with dried cranberries, pecans and crumbled feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
TIPS: This salad is easy to make except for the peeling and cutting of the butternut squash  An easy shortcut is to buy pre-cut squash which is a great timesaver but a bit more expensive.  To make this salad more hearty, you can add cooked barley or quinoa.

Meatless Monday -Winter Vegetable Soup (Vegan)

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I love winter soups and this one is no exception.  It manages to be hearty but light and very low calorie AND it happens to be delicious.  The combination of winter root vegetables, potatoes, carrots and turnips with creamy baby lima beans, also called butterbeans, is a winner.  The crispy fried sage on top is the bomb!  I know, you might think you don’t like lima beans but these petite ‘baby’ beans are delicate and creamy.  They don’t have the same tendency as the larger lima beans do to be mealy.  You may be surprised.  That said, you can use canellini beans and any root vegetables, if you prefer.

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As a Meatless Monday Blogger, I was lucky enough to have been gifted with 5 lbs of Green Baby Limas from Camellia Foods as part of the Food for Change movement sponsored by Slow Food USA. Camellia Brand Foods is a New Orleans based company that prides itself on its high quality and standards.  Their products are all non-GMO and gluten free. So, thank you Camellia Foods! All I had to do was come up with a recipe.  Well, half of my first pound became this lovely soup. I have four more pounds of Camillia Baby Lima Beans.  I will send or deliver to the first four readers who request a pound.

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Thank you also for Slow Food USA who spearheaded this project, Terra Madre Day.  (Which I missed because my delivery was late – better late than never). Check out their website to see more recipes using Camellia products by other bloggers or to learn more about them.  Here is a little taste:

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SLOW FOOD USA

Welcome to the table! We inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair for all. As the Slow Food movement grows, we stay true to these core values for all:

GOOD

  • Believe that delicious nutrition is a right for everyday life
  • Cultivate joyful connections to community and place
  • Advocate for diversity in ecosystems and societies

CLEAN

  • Protect natural resources for future generations
  • Help people and the environment depend on each other
  • Promote food that is local, seasonal, and sustainably grown

FAIR

  • Build local cooperation and global collaboration while respecting all laws
  • Require no prerequisite or credential for participation
  • Fight for dignity of labor from field to fork

Slow Food USA is part of the global Slow Food movement creating dramatic change in more than 160 countries. In the US, there are more than 150 local chapters and 6,000 members. Join us to connect the pleasures of the table with a commitment to the communities, cultures, knowledge, and environment that make this pleasure possible.

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So lets go back to the recipe at hand.  This is a very easy soup.  The beans can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in a covered container for a day or so.  You can also make a whole pound and use half for soup and use the rest for salads or other dishes.  Baby lima beans are delicious sauteed with shallots and garlic in olive oil and make a wonderful side dish.

TIPS:  The fried sage is optional but I think its pretty tasty as a topping and it only takes a minute or two.

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WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP

  • 8  oz. (1 1/4 cups) dried baby lima beans or cannelini beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1  medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or more for a brothy soup)
  • small bunch of sage, whole leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced
  • 1  large turnip, celery root or other root vegetable, peeled and diced
  • 1  to 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  • 20181216_185509Rinse and sort beans, Put the beans and the water in a large pot with the bay leaf, if using. and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Beans will still be slightly firm. If you feel the beans are already done, pour them into a bowl including the cooking water and add them for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf

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  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots and until transluscent not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add to the pot of beans.

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  • Pour in the broth and add the potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add thyme.

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  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 Tbsn olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the whole sage leaves on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.  They should sizzle and get crisp when cooled.  Try one first to make sure you have it right.  It should only take a minute or 2. Remove from the oil and let cool on a paper towel.

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  • Add the vinegar, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

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  • Top with fried sage.

 

Vegettable Winter Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 8  oz. (1 1/4 cups) dried baby lima beans or cannelini beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1  medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • small bunch of sage, whole leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced
  • 1  large turnip, celery root or other root vegetable, peeled and diced
  • 1  to 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Rinse and sort beans, Put the beans and the water in a large pot with the bay leaf, if using. and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Beans will still be slightly firm. If you feel the beans are already done, pour them into a bowl including the cooking water and add them for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots and until transluscent not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add to the pot of beans.
  • Pour in the broth and add the potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 Tbsn olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the whole sage leaves on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.  They should sizzle and get crisp when cooled.  Try one first to make sure you have it right.  It should only take a minute or 2. Remove from the oil and let cool on a paper towel.
  • Add the vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time to taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Top with fried sage.

No Peel Potato Latkes for Hanukkah

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Hanukkah falls really early this year, beginning Sunday, December 2nd (which is tomorrow!) and the holiday season starts with a bang. You know what that means… chocolate and latkes!  So, I want to share my easy no-peel latke recipe which, besides skipping the tedious and time consuming job of peeling potatoes, serves two purposes. The skin has much of the nutrition and leaving it on helps make the latkes extra crispy and tasty.  Warm latkes topped with applesauce and sour cream, are a family favorite. The only problem is, that no matter how many I make, they disappear! Feel free to try my No Peel Applesauce recipe as a great topper. Click HERE for the recipe

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Who wouldn’t love a celebration that lasts eight days and involves lighting pretty candles, exchanging gifts, playing games that involve chocolate coins and eating foods that have been fried in oil?  Once a year, latkes (and even doughnuts) which are fried in oil are the reigning treats.  So what is the significance of the oil?  Hanukkah, (Hanukah, Chanukkah or Chanukah depending on the transliteration) also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday in which candles are lit for eight nights to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which had been desecrated and a statue of Zeus built in it’s place back when Greek Gods were in favor (2nd century BCE). During the dedication a cask of oil which should have only been enough to burn the temple menorah for one night miraculously burned for eight, thus the eight days of celebration today incorporating candles, menorahs and oil.

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Dreidel is a popular game played during Hanukkah.  Tradition has it that the reason the dreidel game is played is to commemorate a game devised by the Jews to camouflage the fact that they were studying Torah, which was outlawed at the time by the Ancient Greeks. The Jews would gather to study, posting a lookout to alert the group to the presence of soldiers. If soldiers were spotted, the Jews would hide their scrolls and start to spin tops, so it would look like they were gambling instead of studying Torah. My family loves playing dreidel for chocolate coins, and I have been collecting dreidels for over 20 years.  Every year I hunt for a new one to add to our collection. It’s getting harder to find something unique but I always find one.  Here is the new addition.

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The other ubiquitous Hanukkah treat is the chocolate coins given as gifts or used as collateral in dreidel. Gold are milk chocolate and silver are dark, so pick your favorite!

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Latkes are easy to make but it does take a toll on your kitchen as the splattering oil makes a bit of a mess – but they are worth it!  There are many kinds of latkes, made with grated, shredded or mashed potatoes but my family prefers them extra crispy made with long thin strips of potato that allows the oil to  seep in through the middle, crisping them the whole way through.  Topped with applesauce and sour cream, they are hard to beat.

TIPS:  This recipe calls for potato only latkes but it’s fun to add other veggies or even fruit.  I often add shredded apple strips which makes them salty sweet.  You can also try grated or shredded carrots or any other root vegetable.  Get creative!

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NO-PEEL POTATO LATKES
4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

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  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning.  Pour into a large bowl and add chopped onions.

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  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. It will not look like batter.

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  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.

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  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.

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  • Drain on paper towels.

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  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven covered loosely with aluminum foil.  Latkes can be made ahead and reheated in single layers in a 350 degree oven.

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  • Serve plain or with applesauce and sour cream.

 

Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 2 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning. Pour into a large bowl and add chopped onions.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs.
  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.
  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – 12 Trader Joe’s Favorites

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You have heard of Oprah’s Favorite Things.  Well this is not that.  I can’t give you a free car or a surprise gift under your seat, more like several fun and easy vegan and vegetarian cooking hacks and ideas for quick and easy appetizers and meals.  People are often surprised when they come over and I haven’t made everything that I’m serving.  However, I love a good shortcut just as well as anyone.  So when I see something that I really like that saves me time or is an easy presto-chango dish that I can put on the table at the last minute, I’m all in.  It’s always nice to have a few tricks up our sleeves (or in our freezers), especially with the holidays already here.

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Okay, it’s actually 13 favorites plus a bonus.  I just miscounted and didn’t want to remake the collage.  Trader Joe’s has quite a few frozen foods that are actually really high quality and an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan foods.  They also have the best selection of nuts, cheeses and snacks as well as some good prepared foods for when you REALLY don’t even want to turn on the oven.  Here is a list of some of my current favorites and some suggestions.  My top five that I always have in my refrigerator/freezer are Starred.  Oh, by the way, I’m not getting paid to mention Trader Joe’s products.  I’m just sharing because I like you and its the season of giving.

  1. VEGETABLE BIRD’S NESTS (VEGAN)*
  2. BANH MI INSPIRED NOODLE BOWL (VEGETARIAN/DRESSING HAS EGGS)
  3. THAI VEGETABLE GYOZA(VEGAN)*
  4. FIVE CHEESE GREEK SPIRAL (VEGETARIAN)*
  5. MIDEAST STYLE FEAST (VEGAN)*
  6. EGGPLANT CUTLETS (VEGAN)
  7. MEATLESS MEATBALLS (VEGAN)
  8. SEEDY ALMOND SALAD TOPPERS (VEGAN)
  9. CARAMELIZED ONION AND FETA BITES (VEGETARIAN)
  10. CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI VEGGIE PATTIES(VEGETARIAN/EGGWHITES)
  11. FRENCH ONION SOUP (VEGETARIAN)
  12. BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE (VEGETARIAN)
  13. VEGETARIAN SAMOSAS (VEGAN)*
  14. BONUS! PUMPKIN SPICE ALMOND BEVERAGE.  JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS, DESCRIPTIONS AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS.

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  1. VEGETABLE BIRD’S NESTS (VEGAN):  These tasty treats are like a potato latke on steroids but with kale and other vegetables rather than potatoes.  They are crispy and delicious and come with their own soy dipping sauce.  Ready in 20 minutes.

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And here is the finished product…great as an appetizer or a side dish.  Especially great for your non-dairy friends. Buy two boxes, just because.  You can thank me later.

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2. BANH MI INSPIRED NOODLE BOWL (VEGETARIAN/DRESSING HAS EGGS)  I love this combination of ingredients which are well balanced with lots of protein.  The dressing is really good too.  This is large enough for two meals for me but you may devour the whole thing in one sitting.

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Just toss together with the yummy, slightly spicy dressing.  I like to cut the tofu into smaller cubes for easier eating and better dressing ratio.20181020_123247.jpg

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3. THAI VEGETABLE GYOZA(VEGAN):  This is my favorite Sunday breakfast served with fresh edamame, sliced oranges and the Sunday paper.  Whip up a quick dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha while they’re cooking and you’re good to go.  Or provide small bowls and let your diners create their own dipping sauce. I recommend skillet directions. Ready in less than 10 minutes.

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These are a house favorite.  Really delicious!

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4. FIVE CHEESE GREEK SPIRAL (VEGETARIAN):  Need I say more?  Just delicious and decadent with a wonderfully flakey pastry crust.  I will admit to making this my whole meal. Not on purpose, it just kind of happened. Ready in 30 minutes.

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This will go fast!  Guaranteed…

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5. MIDEAST STYLE FEAST (VEGAN):  This is an entire value meal;  stuffed grape leaves, hummus, lentil salad and tomato cracked bulgar wheat salad.  I love every part of this ready to eat HEARTY feast. Grab a fork!

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This is a hearty meal for one or two people or an appetizer for a small group. Just re-plate and go… and maybe add pita chips or naan.  Of course, you can make it prettier than this with some fresh herbs or a sprinkle of feta cheese.

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6. EGGPLANT CUTLETS (VEGAN) These breaded eggplant slices are a great time saver.  There are so many ways to use them.  Bake in a hot oven until brown and crispy, then let your imagination take over. Layer them with tomato sauce and cheese for a quick eggplant parmesan.   Tip:  Only cook what you are going to use right away.  They don’t refrigerate well.

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Roast and build a super sandwich with your favorite ingredients. Or just serve as they are with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs.

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7. MEATLESS MEATBALLS (VEGAN):  These soy protein based meatballs have good flavor and texture. Saute with tomato sauce and serve with toothpicks as an appetizer, a slider or over pasta. (Sauce not included)

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  Everybody loves a good meatball. 

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8.  SEEDY ALMOND SALAD TOPPERS (VEGAN):  These were such a great find.  This combination of seeds, nuts and spices will up your salad game and make any salad seem like you labored over a recipe.  Just open one of the individual packets and sprinkle over any combination of greens, veggies or fruit. Drizzle something. Done!

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9. CARAMELIZED ONION AND FETA BITES (VEGETARIAN):  I have made these by hand and they are delicious but it’s way easier to just pull them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven.  Delicious appetizers ready in 25 minutes while you get the wine ready.

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I have had them turn out prettier before, but I was making lots of food for a book group, so may have been rushed as my guests were arriving.  I know I dropped a few while plating.  They are really tasty though and small one bite treats.

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10,  CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI VEGGIE PATTIES(VEGETARIAN/ CONTAINS EGGWHITES) These tasty cakes made with broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes were a pleasant surprise and a good quick little snack or appetizer.  They are a decent size but there are only four per box.   I recommend stove top instructions. Ready in 12 to 17 minutes. Serve immediately for best results.

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I served these veggie cakes with a jalapeno tartar sauce for me and a spicy cocktail sauce for my husband.  They would also be good with a salad as a light meal.

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11.  FRENCH ONION SOUP (VEGETARIAN):  Most onion soups have a beef based stock but this one features a nice vegetarian broth along with the traditional onions, swiss cheese and crouton.  Ready in 5 to 40 minutes depending on preparation.

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Be warned.  There are only two servings in each package.  My husband asked for seconds.  Oops!

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12.BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE (VEGETARIAN) This mac and cheese has a nice cheesy sauce and the butternut squash adds some extra flavor (and nutrition too).  Microwave five minutes.

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This is comfort food at its best. Dig in…

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13. VEGETABLE SAMOSAS (VEGAN):  These are seriously delicious!  These crispy triangles are filled with an Indian spiced mashed potatoes, carrots, peas and lentils.  I like them hot from the oven.  They are also a great small size for passed appetizers.

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BONUS! PUMPKIN SPICE ALMOND BEVERAGE:  Start your morning off right with this seasonal, not too sweet, pumpkin spice ‘milk’ frothed into your coffee.  It’s like the holidays in a cup.  Savor one sip at a time…

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D’Anjou Pears in Vanilla Brandy Syrup (with Canning Instructions)

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These delicious and pretty poached pears could be your new holiday treat! This recipe showcases the pears natural delicate flavor but adding a few spicy peppercorns and anise, along with the richness of the vanilla and brandy to the sugar syrup creates a wonderfully flavorful dessert.  These lovely pears can be served just as they are, or with a dollop of whipped cream, creme freche or ice cream, or with a slice of angel food cake to soak up the juices. Yum!  Of course, if you don’t have the sudden urge to can, you can follow this recipe and serve right away or refrigerate for a week or so.  Just simmer the pears in the syrup (with all the ingredients) for about 30 minutes, until they are tender but not falling apart.

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It takes time to can fruit, but the effort really pays off.  Just open a jar of your poached pears and serve in a pretty bowl and you have a fabulous dessert, hassle free. I adapted this recipe from Put Up or Shut Up , a canning blog filled to the brim with great canning ideas.  The blog name is a cute reference to canning. When people can goods, they refer to it as ‘putting up’ something.  Don’t be afraid to try canning.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy.  Just follow the guidelines for headspace (amount of space to leave at the top when filling) and processing (boiling) time.  When I canned applesauce for the first time, I called my Mom for help.  She told me to relax and follow the directions AND to watch out, because after this, I was going to be looking around to see what I could can next.  She was so right! Smile…

There is another practical reason to can your extra fruits and vegetables.  You can freeze many fruits and preserves but then your freezer gets full and there is no room for ice cream.  Frown…  Canned goods can be stored practically indefinitely at room temperature.

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These canned pears make a pretty hostess gift as well.  People seem to appreciate home made gifts.  Maybe because we rarely take the time to make things any more when it’s so easy to just pick them up from the store.  Its fun to snazz  up your jars with a cute label and some decorative tape or ribbon.   For wide mouth jars, I use a round 3.33″ label from Onlinelabels.com.  For regular mouth lids, I use the round 2.75″ labels. You can download a printing template right from their website and create your own label. It’s easy!

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I always have a selection of colorful tape handy to decorate the lid edge.  My colors, of course, go with goodmotherdiet, red, white and black.  You can find the tape in craft stores like Michaels or The Container Store.

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TOOLS REQUIRED:

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Canning Pot with wire rack

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Mason Jars:  4 Quart jars, 6 Pint and a half jars or 8 Pint jars with lids and rings

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Wide mouth funnel, pot grabber, tongs, melon baller, sharp knife or potato peeler

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 gallon cold tap water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 8-10 lbs firm pears
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  •  6 cups cold water
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into 4 pieces (or one for each jar)
  • 24 peppercorns (preferably pink)
  • 4- 8 tablespoons brandy (optional)

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1. Fill your canning pot with 4 clean quart, 6 pint and a half, or 8 pint canning jars fully immersed in the water.  Bring to a simmer.  Immerse lids, but not rings, in a shallow pan of water. Bring to a simmer.

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2.Mix the water and citric acid or lemon juice together in a large bowl. Peel, halve lengthwise and core the pears and place them in the water mixture to prevent browning. I like to use a melon baller to cleanly remove the core.

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3.Meanwhile in a large saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the split vanilla bean.

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4.Place pears in a single layer (you may have to do two batches) in syrup. Cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until fruit is heated through. Turn once.

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5.Use the pot grabber to remove a hot jar from the water. Put six peppercorns and 1 – 2 tablespoons of the brandy in the bottom of the jar.

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6.Using tongs or a slotted spoon pack pears into jars as snugly as possible (the fruit shrinks while cooking). Before filling completely, slide 3 star anise and one piece of vanilla bean down the side of the jar to make sure they are visible from the outside. Then fill to the top with pears, squeezing in an extra half pear if possible.

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6.Cover the pears with the sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims with a wet paper towel to make sure you get a tight seal and place lids on using tongs, screwing rings on only finger tight.

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7.Place jars in canner covering with more hot water, if necessary,to submerge the jars by at least one inch. Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes (timed from the boil). Process pints for 20 minutes. Turn off heat,  remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars  using the jar grabber. Don’t try using tongs or anything else or you will end up with a face full of boiling water. Place jars on towels or a cooling rack. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.  You may hear a pinging sound as the jars seal themselves but you may not. Both are normal.

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TIPS:

I prefer the look of wide-mouth jars, partially because they take a larger label and I like to include storing and serving instructions on my labels. However, canned fruits or tomatoes fare better in the regular jars as the small opening helps keep the fruit submerged. With the wide mouth jars the fruit rises up to the top sometimes leaving you with an inch or two of liquid on the bottom of the jar which does not look quite as pretty.

Poached D'Anjou Pears in Vanilla Brandy Syrup

  • Servings: 4 quarts
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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TOOLS REQUIRED:

  • Canning Pot with wire rack
  • Mason Jars:  4 Quart jars, 6 Pint and a half jars or 8 Pint jars with lids and ring
  • Wide mouth funnel, pot grabber, tongs, melon baller, sharp knife or potato peeler

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 gallon cold tap water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 8-10 lbs firm pears
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  •  6 cups cold water
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into 4 pieces (or one for each jar)
  • 24 peppercorns (preferably pink)
  • 4- 8 tablespoons brandy (optional)
  1. Fill your canning pot with 4 clean quart, 6 pint and a half, or 8 pint canning jars fully immersed in the water.  Bring to a simmer.  Immerse lids, but not rings, in a shallow pan of water. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Mix the water and citric acid or lemon juice together in a large bowl. Peel, halve lengthwise and core the pears and place them in the water mixture to prevent browning. I like to use a melon baller to cleanly remove the core.
  3. Meanwhile in a large saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the split vanilla bean.
  4. Place pears in a single layer (you may have to do two batches) in syrup. Cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until fruit is heated through. Turn once.
  5. Use the pot grabber to remove a hot jar from the water. Put six peppercorns and 1 – 2 tablespoons of the brandy in the bottom of the jar.
  6. Using tongs or a slotted spoon pack pears into jars as snugly as possible (the fruit shrinks while cooking). Before filling completely, slide 3 star anise and one piece of vanilla bean down the side of the jar to make sure they are visible from the outside. Then fill to the top with pears, squeezing in an extra half pear if possible.
  7. Cover the pears with the sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims with a wet paper towel and place lids on using tongs, screwing rings on only finger tight.
  8. Place jars in canner covering with more hot water, if necessary,to submerge the jars by at least one inch. Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes (timed from the boil). Process pints for 20 minutes. Turn off heat,  remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars  using the correct tool.  Don’t try using tongs or anything else or you will end up with a face full of boiling water. Place jars on towels or a cooling rack. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.  You may hear a pinging sound as the jars seal themselves but you may not. Both are normal.