Archive for the 'Snacks and Appetizers' Category

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.

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22
Mar
11

Fresh Spring Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

With the weather finally getting warm and the days getting longer, can you guess my inspiration for today’s post? These spring rolls are fun to make and great for a light lunch or midday snack. Crispy, fresh, and complimented nicely by the flavorful sweet sauce. The recipe makes about four rolls and half a cup of dipping sauce.

 

Sauce Ingredients:

6 tbs rice vinegar

3 tbs light brown sugar

1 tbs Mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil

 

Spring Roll Ingredients:

1/2 a head of radicchio, shredded

1 handful of pea sprouts

2 carrots, julienned

1/2 a seedless cucumber, julienned

1-2 stalks of celery, cut in thin strips

1 tbs minced cilantro

1 ripe avocado, sliced

Spring roll wrappers

(I found them in the Asian section of my regular grocery store.)

 

Directions:

In a small saucepan over low heat, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the sauce can reduce and thicken. Take off heat and set aside.

Prepare all of the vegetables.

The spring roll wrappers are brittle when you get them from the store. To cook them, fill a skillet with an inch or two of water and bring it to a simmer. Hold the wrapper on one side and dip the other half in the water. Hold it there for a few seconds, until you can feel that it goes soft. Then, pull it out of the water and carefully turn it so that you’re holding the soft end and dipping the first half in the water. When the whole wrapper is soft, let the excess water drip back into the skillet and lay the wrapper out on a cutting board or other surface.

Lay the vegetables down the middle of the spring roll wrapper, leaving an inch or so at the top and bottom.

Fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the vegetables.

Fold the right side of the wrapper over the vegetables.

Gently push the vegetables to the right, pulling the right side of the wrapper tightly over them. Then, continue rolling as tightly as you can.

Cut the spring rolls in half, if desired, and serve with the sweet and sour sauce.

20
Mar
11

Bruschetta

Bruschetta is a great way to start a meal that’s sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike. If you’re having guests over, you can make the topping a day ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. In fact, I find that the flavors of this dish mellow after a day or two and it tastes even better, so you will still be able to enjoy it the day after the party– if there’s any left.

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:

1 pint grape tomotoes

1 tbs minced shallot

1 clove mashed garlic

1 tbs fresh minced parsley

2 tbs fresh minced basil

1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 French baguette, sliced

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes in half and scoop out the juicy, seedy inside with a grapefruit spoon.

You don’t have to worry about getting every last seed, but you want to get rid of most of the juice so that your bruschetta won’t be too soggy.

When your tomatoes are mostly juice-free, chop them smaller.

Combine the chopped tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Mix gently to combine.

Serve atop sliced baguette and garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.

10
Feb
11

Spiced Almond Cream and Fig Crostini

Here at Vegan Valentine, we take Valentine’s Day very seriously. This represents Part One of a three part Valentine’s Day installment.

**Spiced Almond Cream Crostini with Figs and Balsamic Reduction.**

This little snack is unusual, it’s relatively healthy, and it’s mighty tasty, if I do say so myself. It’s also easy to do. You can make the different components ahead of time and assemble them before serving.


Here is what you need:

  • 1 French baguette, sliced thinly and toasted or grilled
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • dried figs- I used both Mission and Calimyrna figs
  • a couple tablespoons Earth Balance

 

Preparing the balsamic reduction:

This step takes the longest, so start it first.

Bring 1 cup balsamic vinegar to a simmer. Mine wasn’t particularly good quality, but if you have a nice one I’m sure it couldn’t hurt.

Add 1 tsp brown sugar and stir until it’s dissolved.

Let simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has reduced to about 1/4 cup.

Take off heat and let cool. It should thicken to a syrupy consistency.

 

Preparing the almond cream:

In a food processor, grind the slivered almonds as finely as you can.

Keeping the food processor on, slowly add the almond milk until the mixture has a smooth, creamy texture.

Add the cinnamon and nutmeg and mix to combine.

 

Preparing the figs:

Normally I would use fresh figs, but since they’re not in season I experimented with dried ones and they were actually really good! I used the brand Sun-Maid, which I found at a regular grocery store, and I bought one package of Mission figs and one of Calimyrna.

Slice the figs thinly with a sharp knife. Sometimes they look like hearts when they are sliced- especially the Calimyrnas. If your knife gets sticky, rinse it off so that it will make cleaner slices.

Put a small pan over low heat with a pat of Earth Balance. Place the fig slices in the pan. After a couple minutes, the bottoms should deepen in color. Flip them over and let them sit for a couple more minutes so that the other sides deepen as well. Take off the heat.

 

Assembling the crostini:

Spread the almond cream on your slices of baguette.

Spoon a few drops of balsamic reduction in the middle of each crostini. It will spread out a little as it sits.

Place a fig slice in the middle of each crostini.

If you want to, you can also use the balsamic reduction to decorate a platter before you put the crostinis on it. Here, I spooned drops of the balsamic in two straight lines. Then I dragged a knife across the plate through the dots, which pulled a line of balsamic with it. I drew one line toward me and one away from me.




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