Archive for April, 2011

27
Apr
11

i <3 Hearts of Palm

I’ve had salads with hearts of palm in restaurants once or twice, and I never objected to them. It wasn’t until a couple months ago, however, that I tried this vegetable plain…and I’ve been hooked ever since. They have such a unique flavor; it almost seems a shame to add much to them at all. As such, my mom and I have been buying them all spring and eating them straight from the can. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I just wrote “Buy hearts of palm. Eat straight from can,” so I decided to try something a little fancier.

Well, fancier this is. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s the slice-and-place kind of work; it doesn’t require much in the way of physical exertion or technical skills.  So, if you’ve got the time and need an amuse bouche that’s attractive, tasty, and totally vegan, these may be for you. If not, buy hearts of palm. Eat straight from can.

Ingredients:

1 can hearts of palm

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado

1 tbs lemon

3-4 endives

Directions:

Wash the endives, chop off the bottoms, and separate the leaves. I found that the inner leaves were best for this appetizer, as they’re milder and less bitter than the outer leaves.

Slice the carrot as thinly as you can. I used a potato peeler.

Cut the hearts of palm into .25-.5 inch slices. Hearts of palm are sort of layered, so you can easily push the circles in the middle of each slice right out.

Mash the avocado with the lemon.

Lay one carrot slice down the middle of each endive leaf. If your carrot slices are too long, cut them; if they’re too short, use two and overlap them slightly.

Using a small spoon or butter knife, fill each slice of heart of palm with the mashed avocado. Place near the end of the endive leaves.

11
Apr
11

Pistachio Pesto Pasta

I think nuts should be a bigger part of the average American diet. They are naturally tasty, they come in all different varieties, and many kinds of nuts have a lot to offer nutritionally. What’s your favorite kind?

Where my personal tastes are concerned, I’ve always found that my favorite nuts to eat are the ones that have the lowest nutritional value. On one end of the nut spectrum, we have walnuts. They’re full of fiber, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and be good for the heart. Too bad I think they look like larvae and their texture, to me, seems stale. On the other end of the nut spectrum: peanuts. (Technically a legume, I know…) They’re sweet and tasty, fun to shell, and don’t even get me started on the butter…but alas, peanuts are high in fat and calories.

I’ve always assumed that pistachios, being almost as rich and versatile as peanuts, probably had little to offer nutritionally. That’s why I was surprised when I recently learned that pistachios actually have a lot of the same health benefits as walnuts! What good news! (Though anyone who reads this blog can tell you that poor nutritional value won’t necessarily stop me from eating something I like.)

In honor of my new favorite nut, I made a pistachio pesto. I think it would be good plain, on bread, in a sandwich, and probably lots of other ways that are more creative than those. Today, I just added it to some pasta and trust me, I’ll be making this again!

Ingredients:

For the pesto:

(makes a little more than 1 cup of pesto)

1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, shelled*

2 cups spinach

1/4 cup fresh parsley

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

1-2 tbs water

salt and pepper, to taste

*Hopefully you can find the shelled ones at the store…otherwise, you’ll have to remove the shells yourself.

For two servings of pasta:

about 2 tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 large handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

2 servings of your favorite kind of pasta (I used fettucini)

salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until they’re pretty finely ground. Add the rest of your pesto ingredients and process until smooth. If you prefer a thinner pesto, you can add a little more water. I kept mine pretty thick though, figuring I’d thin it out later if I needed to.

To make the pasta, boil some water and add the noodles. A few minutes before they are done, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and shallot. When they seem softer and more translucent, add some pistachio pesto to the pan and mix. For two servings of pasta, I only used about 1/4 cup of my pesto.

Drain the pasta when it’s finished, reserving a couple tablespoons of the water to help thin the pesto.

Add the pasta and water to the pesto, garlic, and shallot. Toss to combine. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and toss again.

05
Apr
11

Banana Pudding with Vegan ‘Nilla Wafers

When I step into a bakery, I often look right past the popular cupcakes and cookies and opt instead for a cup of banana pudding. Smooth and creamy with a bit of crunch from the vanilla wafers…what could be more satisfying? This version is 100% vegan with soy milk, soy whipped cream, and vegan vanilla wafers. It makes about four servings.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tbs corn starch

about an inch of a vanilla bean (recommended) OR 1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups soy milk

1 tbs Earth Balance

2 ripe bananas

about 2 cups Soy Whip

about 1 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies

(Lots of supermarkets sell store-brand ‘nilla wafer cookies, and I know I’ve seen vegan versions before. Of course, things like that have a way of becoming much harder to find when you actually need them, so I ended up making some from scratch. I modified this recipe, substituting an Ener-G egg for the real egg and Earth Balance for the butter. The vegan batter was a bit crumbly, so I rolled them into balls and flattened them with my palms, rather than piping them onto the baking sheet, as suggested. They came out great!)

Directions:

Combine the sugar and corn starch in a small mixing bowl. If you are using a real vanilla bean, cut it in half the long way, scrape out the inside, and add that to the sugar mixture.

Heat the soy milk in a small saucepan. If you are using vanilla extract, add it to the soy milk.

Stirring over low heat, slowly add the sugar mixture to the soy milk, mixing to combine.

Continue heating and stirring. The sugar should dissolve and, after a few minutes, the mixture should thicken to almost to a pudding consistency.

Take the pudding off the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes, then move it to the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

If you haven’t already, crumble the wafer cookies. I put mine in a ziplock bag and hit them with a rolling pin.

Cut the bananas into thin slices.

When the pudding is completely cool, take it out of the refrigerator and add about two cups of soy whip. Mix to combine.

Assemble the pudding in individual glasses or in a larger glass bowl.

Begin by spooning in a layer of the pudding:

Then add a layer of banana:

and a layer of cookie crumbs:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add a second layer of each:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and a final layer of pudding:

I topped mine with a bit more whipped cream and some cookie crumbs. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.




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