Tag Archives: Vegetarian

recipe goodness :: heidi swanson’s harissa spinach chop salad

A few good ingredients

A few good ingredients

I know a few people who would rather leave the lettuce eating to the rabbits. But they like cooked greens — spinach, collards, amaranth greens will all be happily stabbed with a fork and consumed. I also know a few vegetarians who roll their eyes when people suggest all they eat are salads. So when I came across Heidi Swanson’s {a well-known vegetarian cookbook author} recipe for a warm spinach chop, with hard-boiled eggs, garlic, almonds and harissa, not only did my mouth begin to water, but I felt like I discovered a solution to a salad that’s not just another salad.

Everything on this ingredient list I usually have on hand, except the spinach — so it’s an easy last minute menu saver if you can get your hands on some fresh cooking greens. And with the spice of the harissa, the crunch of the almonds, the tartness of the lemon and the substance of the egg, you’ll find this chop combines complex flavors and doesn’t leave you feeling like a peckish rabbit.

Heidi Swanson's Spinach Chop

Heidi Swanson’s Spinach Chop

Heidi Swanson’s Spinach Chop

1 lb. spinach {or other good cooking green — kale, collards}
1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs. harissa
4 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup slivered or whole almonds, toasted
Scant 1/2 tsp. fine-grain sea salt
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon

  1. Remove any tough spinach stems. Add ½-inch water to a pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Add spinach and stir constantly until the spinach collapses entirely, about a minute. Drain spinach and run cold water over it until cool. Spin-dry very well in a salad spinner, or press-dry in a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Finely chop the spinach. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the garlic and cook for about a minute, without letting it brown. Remove pan from heat and stir in harissa and spinach. Add eggs, almonds, salt, and lemon zest and stir again gently to combine well.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Stab-Worthy Salads:
Julia Child’s Salade Nicoise
Lime-Kissed Peach and Corn Summer Salad
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Spinach, Strawberry & Halloumi Salad
Tomato, Basil & Feta Salad
The Ultimate Summer Slaw

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Curly’s Comfortable Quirky {and Vegetarian} Cafe

Curly's Coloring Wall

Sometimes you just want a good lunch spot that doesn’t involve greasy burgers or burritos. Thanks to a lovely lunch with a vegetarian friend I was introduced to Curly’s, a new meat-free twist on the classic diner menu. Before you run in the other direction, let me assure you it’s not just all lettuce and celery sticks.

Curly’s was originally a cafe that opened in 1927 in Manchester, NH and served the locals a traditional menu of bacon & eggs, meatloaf & beans, among other hearty items. Inspired by the comfort quotient, but with the desire to lighten the fare, a new kind of Curly’s was opened in Manhattan to rave reviews.

As you scroll down the menu you’ll see sections for burgers and burritos, which may make you take pause with the understanding that this was supposed to be vegetarian. But upon closer examination you’ll notice the items listed include a fauxphilly cheesesteak, crabfake po’ boy or a TLT sandwich {made of tofu bacon, lettuce, tomato and soy nayo, naturally}. No, these are not typos, but clever riffs on classics. Sure, you may need to swallow your protein pride in favor of tofu and soy, but I promise that these items do not fall short on flavor or satisfaction…or a sense of humor for that matter.

The Skim: Beyond just the comfort of the menu, Curly’s is cozied by the placemat art wallpapering its sunshine yellow walls. Each one-of-a-kind has been designed by patrons while they patiently wait for lunch, making use of the crayons that grace each table alongside the salt and pepper. Curly’s is a place with personality and it won’t leave you in a post-noon food coma — a refreshingly recast dining option.

Map: 328 East 14th {Btw 1st and 2nd ave}
Reservations: Not Taken
Phone: 212.598.9998

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NYC Best: Purely Good Food & Wine

Niwa Maki of Avocado, Enoki Mushrooms, Pickled Heirloom Baby Carrots

If someone were to invite you to dinner to eat raw vegan food, your first inclination might be to run for the closest burger joint, laughing the entire way.  I’m sure your mind is picturing things like shots of wheatgrass or a plate of cucumbers and carrots, but there is more to the essence of raw vegan food than juices and crudites.  Raw Vegan defined: Pure Food & Wine’s
menu is entirely plant based and does not use any processed ingredients. Nothing is heated above approximately 118 degrees in order to preserve vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. But while there is a certain science behind this way of life, the essence of Pure Food & Wines food is elegant, complex and intriguing from start to finish.

Let’s start with the niwa maki of avocado, enoki mushrooms, pickled heirloom baby carrots with asparagus, mango, scallions, spicy aioli. The presentation is as beautiful as any roll I was lucky to order in Tokyo and the range of flavors and textures provided the perfect wrapped package of, well, raw ingredients.

Hazelnut Crostinis with Crimini Mushrooms and Caper Bearnaise

Hazelnut Crostinis with Crimini Mushrooms and Caper Bearnaise

And then there was the hazelnut crostinis with crimini mushrooms and caper bearnaise with caraway sauerkraut, local apple cider reduction. Um, yes. I can’t even explain how they created something so creamy, with no actual cream. But when you take a bite, the crunchy nuttiness of the crostini, topped with the earthy, pickly and slightly sweet scoop of mysteriously raw and vegan goodness is just pure good food in its unsimplest, simple form.

Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles and Baby Bok Choy

Pad Thai with Kelp Noodles and Baby Bok Choy

I could have stopped there and felt like one lucky duck, but for an entree I ordered up the pad thai with kelp noodles, baby bok choy, snow peas, king oyster mushrooms, tamarind sauce, sesame salted cashews, cilantro oil. All good things. All together. Pure. Raw. And Outstanding. The flavors are so refreshing and with so much depth, I would venture to say if someone took you there and never told you what kind of restaurant this is, you would never know the difference. And not to be outdone by the food menu, Pure’s bar ranges from organic and biodynamic wines to seasonal sake cocktails.

The Skim: Or should I say, the skinny.  If you’re truly a New York foodie, then you can’t stop at visiting the best steak house, burger joint or lobster shack. You must pay a visit to the purely good Pure Food & Wine and see what it means to combine raw vegan food with haute cuisine. I’ll tell you one thing, you’ll feel great when you get up from the table, no matter how many of those crostini you take down.

Map: 54 Irving Place
Reservations: Taken!
Phone: 212.477.1010

Christina is an unapologetic carnivore, but knows a good thing when she tastes it — whether it’s raw steak tartar or raw pad thai made of kelp. 

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NYC Best: A Cafe Stands For…

A Cafe Gulf shrimp sauté, in a coconut milk crème fraîche with cayenne curry

Adventurous…Alluring…Anonymous…Appetizing…the A train??

A Café has been a small eating haven on the upper west side for over 10 years, but somehow I never discovered it until recently. It’s not the type of place you walk by and take notice of. The front is anonymously non-descript, it’s nestled next to a defunct custom hardwood floor shop and the name itself doesn’t exactly provide any tantalizing color. But should you venture inside this small space, you will find organic French Caribbean cuisine worth writing about and a BYOB policy to jump for joy over {hard to find in NYC}. What’s even more exciting? They take reservations and offer a prix fixe menu for $25 from 6-8pm. Ok, so it’s inexpensive, easy to get into, personal wine collection-friendly and quaint, but the food?

Amazing.

The whole operation is more or less a one-man show. With a tiny — and I mean TEENY TINY — kitchen in the back, plates keep flying out with the speed of a assembly line operation. Your host/server/expediter/bus boy/”bartender” works the room with such precision you would never even notice staff size {or lack thereof} unless you took a trip to the restroom in the back and saw where all the magic happens.

And magic it is — the grilled Hass avocado, mushroom terrine in a shiitake-sesame dressing {must try to recreate this at home}, was an alluring combination of flavors that was creamy and earthy, while also surprisingly {and pleasantly} served warm. The broiled Bourgogne escargots, with pastis in a cilantro-chili butter was lick your plate-worthy — and lick we did. We had the pleasure of sitting at a table next to the owner and chatted it up for quite awhile. He was quick to tell us these are not just any escargot, but sourced from the best of the best — and I think I agree. For my entree I had the gulf shrimp sauté, in a coconut milk crème fraîche with cayenne curry. This was the dish that really caught my attention and showcased the marriage of the French and Caribbean cuisines. The flavors were rich and comforting and left me wanting more.

The Skim: If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, a trip up to 108th/Columbus is well worth the adventure. And if you know anything about Duke Ellington’s song, Take the A Train, {check it out HERE} well then you’ll understand where A Café really got its name {west 106th street was named Duke Ellington Blvd after his death}.

Map: 973 Columbus Avenue {between 107 & 108th}
Reservations: Taken! email: reservations@acafeny.com
Phone: 212.222.2033

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recipe goodness :: farro salad with steamed kale and roasted pinenuts

Farro Salad w/ Steamed Kale and Roasted Pine Nuts

I was at the farmer’s market recently and with the winter veg dwindling, I grabbed a bunch of kale and thought I would experiment with a green that I don’t normally cook with. Kale is one of the veggies that I want to add to my “I need more of this in my life” list. It has cancer-fighting properties is great for detoxing the body — just what I need after a late Saturday night. Everything else I just grabbed out my cupboard and fridge and threw together a lovely nutty and bright dish that is great on a cold winter’s night or as a cold salad on a warm day.

Farro Salad with Steamed Kale and Roasted Pine Nuts

Serves 4 | Time: 20 minutes

1 cup farro
1 bunch kale, stems removed
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 lemon
olive oil {equal parts to lemon juice}
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan for grating

  1. Pour farro into medium saucepan and cover with cold water until an inch above the grains. Let soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain farro and recover with cold water. Add a generous amount of kosher salt and bring to boil.
  3. Lower heat to a simmer and cover for 10 minutes.
  4. While farro is cooking, wash and dry kale. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Juice half a lemon into a glass measuring cup and add the same amount of olive oil. Add salt and coarsely ground pepper to taste. Set aside.
  6. In a small dry pan, toast pine nuts until light brown and remove from heat.
  7. After farro has cooked for 10 minutes, add kale to the pot on top of the farro and recover for an additional 5 minutes.
  8. After 5 minutes, turn off heat and check to be sure kale is bright green and tender and farro is cooked, but still has an al dente bite. If more time is needed, cover the pot off the heat for an additional 3-5 minutes.
  9. Drain farro and kale and transfer to a large bowl.
  10. Pour lemon and olive oil over salad and toss to mix. Serve in a bowl with grated parmesan and toasted pine nuts sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

I Need More of This in My Life:
Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs
Savory Cauliflower Fried Rice
Greenmarket: Put Smarter, Cheaper & More Scrumptious Food on Your Table

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recipe goodness :: savory cauliflower fried rice

It’s cauliflower season! Are you scratching your head wondering why I could possibly be so excited about cauliflower, a generally overlooked and underappreciated vegetable? Well, it’s also Breast Cancer awareness month and it seems only fitting to highlight this veg for both of these reasons. Cauliflower contains two key nutrients {indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane} that help fight against cancer and heart disease by cleaning out the system of toxins that would normally damage cells and by keeping estrogen levels low, which is known to foster tumor growth. If that doesn’t make you think of cauliflower as a new friend, how about the fact that three florets of cauliflower a day will provide you with 67% of your daily vitamin C requirement — keep that in mind as cold season fast approaches.

In my opinion cauliflower by itself doesn’t have any super flavors to write home about, but given how nutritious and substantial these little guys are, it’s a great base to mix with other fantastic flavors and create a healthy and tasty side or main dish that is worth getting excited about. Here’s a recipe from Everyday Paleo that I made the other night. I must admit, I never would have thought about combining with coconut, but the flavor was a fantastic complement and coconut has a great nutrient profile of its own that makes this a noteworthy alternative for diabetics or for those who can’t eat gluten.

Savory Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Prep Time: 5 mins. | Cook Time: 10 mins.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side

1 head organic cauliflower, steamed
1/2 red onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 TBS fresh basil, diced
1 egg
2 TBS coconut flour
1 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
3-4 TBS coconut oil

Bring 2 inches of water to a boil. Remove thick stem and core from cauliflower and discard. Using a knife, cut cauliflower into smaller florets. Add to boiling water and cover, cooking for approximately 2-3 minutes or until knife tender. In a large mixing bowl, add the minced onions, garlic, and basil.  Place the steamed cauliflower in the bowl as well and add the egg, coconut flour, salt, and pepper.  Using a potato masher or metal whisk, mash the cauliflower down to the consistency of rice.  Mix all the ingredients well.  Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add the cauliflower rice and saute for 7-10 minutes or until the “rice” starts to crisp up a little and the onions are tender.  Remove the rice and keep warm in the oven. Note: This is better, the longer it sits, so preparing ahead of time and warming in the oven is a good thing!

All the Goods

Add the Steamed Cauliflower to the Rest of Ingredients

Mash with Ricer or Whisk Until "Rice" Size

"Fry" it up and Enjoy

Put More on My Plate:
Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs
Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken
Giada’s Sweet & Sour Pork Chops
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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recipe goodness :: grilled thyme-cumin vegetable kabobs

You can easily add chicken, lamb, beef or whatever favorite grill meat you choose to this kabob recipe, but when it’s mid-summer and vegetables are at their peak, I just enjoy focusing on the fresh farmer’s bounty with this vegetarian grilling recipe. To spice this up a little I like to add some fresh thyme, a little cumin seasoning and make a yogurt sauce to drizzle over the sweet, blistered veg. It’s very easy to make and only takes a few minutes on the grill before you can enjoy this meal.

Grilled Thyme-Cumin Vegetable Kabobs

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

12 crimini or button mushrooms
1 pint grape tomatoes or 2 large ripe tomatoes
1 green, red or yellow pepper, cut to 1-inch squares
1 medium onion, quartered {I like Vidalia as they are sweeter}
3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp. cumin seasoning
1/4 tsp kosher salt
fresh ground pepper to taste

Sauce
8 oz plain yogurt
1/4 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat grill to medium heat. If using whole tomatoes, cut each into quarters and then cut each quarter in half again so you have pieces about 1-inch in size. If using grape or cherry tomatoes, leave whole. Cut pepper into 1-inch pieces, removing the stem and seeds. Quarter the onion and separate the layers. Toss all vegetables in a medium bowl with olive oil, fresh thyme, cumin, salt and pepper until thoroughly coated. Take a skewer and alternate colors and vegetables so you get a good variety.

Once the grill is hot, place skews on the BBQ and cook for ~10 minutes, turning frequently to make sure to get a good charred edge on each side. This will add to the overall flavor! While the kabobs are grilling, add the cumin, salt and pepper to the yogurt and stir well to mix evenly. Once the kabobs are done, drizzle with the yogurt sauce and either serve alone, as a side or inside a fresh pita.

Grilled Vegetable Kabobs

Other Great Grill and Summer Recipes:
Orzo, Spinach & Feta Summer Salad
Bison, a Better Burger Worth Biting Into
Whole-Grain Mustard & Rosemary Pork Chops

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