Tag Archives: VegWeek2010

Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl

19 Oct

Recipe Source: 101 Cookbooks

Welcome to the last day of VegWeek! Errr… two weeks!

This is a recipe I’ve had bookmarked for months, so I finally decided to give it a spin. I think it will become a regular breakfast for me. If you’ve never heard of wheat berries, I can tell you that they’re extremely good for you. They’re the whole wheat kernel, with their fibrous outer shell still intact. Besides being an excellent source of fiber, they are high in protein, iron, vitamin E and magnesium. Before you can eat them, it’s necessary to give them a long soak or boil them with a little salt. The texture will always be a little chewy, and the flavor is slightly nutty. You can use wheat berries as you would quinoa or couscous… I’ve usually seen them used in salads, so this is a creative and unique recipe.

wheat berries & fruit

As the maker of any diet will tell you, one of the keys to success in eating healthy is making sure you don’t get bored. So I like that this dish is infinitely variable. For the sake of the blog, I decided to go all out and follow the recipe, using sauteed pears and cranberries mixed with maple yogurt, dried currants and dates, chopped pecans and crystallized ginger.

wheat berry breakfast bowl

Instead of sweetening plain Greek yogurt with maple, you could try honey, a few drops of vanilla or almond extract, or use regular plain yogurt for a thinner consistency, or flavored yogurt. You can add spices like cinnamon and nutmeg or cardamom, and any combination of dried/fresh fruits and nuts.

For the San Diegans reading, I buy wheat berries in bulk at Henry’s. They are dark brown and look a bit like rice. They can probably be found at most health food stores.

raw wheat berries

RECIPE – Wheat Berry Breakfast Bowl

1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup maple syrup

scant tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
scant tablespoon of butter
2 firm pears, cored and chopped into 1/4-inch THIN bite-sized slices
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
3 cups cooked wheat berries* (or any plump, whole grain will do – farro, barley, oat groats, etc.)
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/2 cup assorted dried fruits, chopped (I used equal portions of dried persimmons, dates, and crystallized ginger)

Whisk the yogurt and maple syrup together and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-hight heat, sauté the pear slices in the olive oil and butter for about five minute, or until they get a bit golden. Keep an eye on them though, because they can burn in a flash. Toward the very end, stir in the cranberries and cook for another minute or so – just until the cranberries soften up a bit and a few of them begin to split open. Add the wheat berries to the skillet and toss gently.

Turn out onto a platter, or serve in individual bowls ladled with a generous amount of the maple yogurt, and sprinkled with plenty of pecans and dried fruit. For those of you who prefer a bit more sweetness, serve with more maple syrup on the side.

Serves 4-6.

*To cook wheat berries: Combine 2 cups wheat berries, 5 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, covered, until plump and chewy (and a few of the berries split open), about an hour or so. The berries will stay al dente, and the only way to be sure they’re done is to taste a few. Drain and set aside.


Warm Red Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

12 Oct

Recipe Source: 100 Best Fresh Salads. Love Food, Parragon Boods Ltd. 2007

Sooo I didn’t quite make it to 5 posts during VegWeek, but I’m still committed to getting there! Here is your recipe #4 of 5.

About a year ago, I developed an aversion to traditional, lettuce-based salads. The thought of them was completely unappealing to me. And while I’ve somewhat gotten over that, I still appreciate a unique salad. This one is definitely different, and complex, just the way I like my recipes! It has a great Mediterranean influence… the lentils give it a hearty feeling and work well with the spinach base. I feel like spinach alone can be a bit dense at times, but it’s so healthy for you, I try to eat it over romaine or other less nutritive greens.

I only changed this recipe slightly, to keep the red onions raw (I detest carmelized or otherwise slimy onions!) and use less of them. I also used walnut oil instead of hazelnut oil, because I couldn’t find hazelnut.

To start, you’ll saute garlic, fresh ginger root, and cumin seeds in oil over a medium flame. This mixture smells like heaven… or at least, what my foodie heaven might smell like. 🙂 I like to keep my dice somewhat large on the garlic and ginger, so they’ll hold their own during a long cooking time with the lentils.

After a few minutes, add in the red lentils and stir to coat with the oil already in the pan, then add vegetable stock a ladle at a time, letting the mixture dry out slightly between ladles.

Ooooh, shiny.

After all the stock has absorbed into the lentils (about 20 minutes), remove from heat and stir in chopped fresh cilantro and mint.

In a large bowl, toss spinach, finely sliced red onion, and walnut oil to taste. In another bowl, mash goat cheese and Greek yogurt together, and season with fresh cracked black pepper. To assemble the salad, top the spinach and onions with the lentil mixture, then add a dollop of the goat cheese mixture on top of that. This recipe could easily be made vegan by omitting the goat cheese, but I think the creaminess makes a really nice complement to the spices in the lentils.

RECIPE – Warm Red Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons grated fresh gingerroot
1 1/2 cups split red lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 1/2 cups baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon hazelnut oil
6 oz. soft goat cheese
4 tablespoons strained plain yogurt
Fresh cracked black pepper

Heat half the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the cumin seeds, garlic, and gingerroot and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Stir in the lentils, then add the stock, a ladlefull at a time, until it is all absorbed, stirring constantly – this will take about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned.

Toss the spinach in the hazelnut oil in a bowl, then divide among 4 serving plates.

Mash the goat cheese with the yogurt in a small bowl and season to taste with pepper.

Divide the lentils among the serving plates and top with the onions and goat cheese mixture.

Roasted Red Pepper & Goat Cheese Sandwich

8 Oct

Recipe Source: Feasts and Fotos blog (recipe adapted from Ina Garten)

Today, friend, I have a most delicious sandwich for you. It’s a little oily, a little slippery, a little messy – it’s not a sandwich to eat over your keyboard or in front of someone you’re hoping to impress. This is a sandwich to be savored. Eat it when you can lick your fingers, pick up all the peppers that have squeezed themselves out of your sandwich, reassemble sandwich, lick fingers, and so on and so forth.

It’s a bit of work to prepare in the front-end, but you can make several peppers at once, and – did I mention it was delicious? – it’s delicious enough to be worth it.

If possible, prep the peppers a day in advance to maximize their flavors. To prep them (4 or 5 at a time), place the peppers whole in a baking sheet with sides and roast in a 475-degree oven for one hour, until charred. Turn once or twice during roasting. Then remove from the oven and cover the peppers with foil in their pan. Leave to sweat and cool, about 30 minutes. When cooled enough to touch, peel the peppers and remove the seeds.

Say no to carcinogens!

I found the easiest way to do this was to keep the stem intact and peel off the skin in as large of sections as possible. Some of the flesh underneath will be black, but you’ll be able to distinguish the inner and outer layers because the outside will be matte. Once you’ve removed all the skin, pull the stem off, turn the pepper inside out, and scrape out the seeds. This is fun if you like slimy things… just in time for Halloween?

peeled peppers

In a medium bowl with lid, mix together olive oil, balsamic, smashed garlic, capers, chopped parsley, chopped basil and some salt & pepper to taste, and mix in the peppers well. Cover and let sit for a day to let the peppers meld together.

marinated red peppers

When you’re ready to assemble the sandwich, spread goat cheese on both sides and top with basil, thinly sliced red onion, and marinated pepper. I really liked this on toasted French bread. And confession, I was out of basil here, so I used spring mix. Still yummy!

roasted red pepper & goat cheese sandwich

RECIPE – Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Sandwich

4-5 large red bell peppers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon capers
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped basil
5-6 large basil leaves, whole
goat cheese
good bread
red onion, sliced paper thin (optional)

the peppers:
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and place in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the skins are wrinkled and charred. Turn once or twice during cooking. Remove from oven and immediately cover tightly with aluminum foil and set aside for at least 30 minutes. You don’t want to burn your little fingers. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel all the skins off each pepper and remove the seeds and stem. Rip the flesh of the peppers into thick strips and put them in a bowl with their juices. To the bowl add the olive oil, balsamic, smashed garlic, capers, chopped parsley, chopped basil and some salt & pepper to taste. Voila, the peppers are done! I like to let this mixture blend for a few hours or even a day before preparing the sandwich, so the smashed garlic has a chance to flavor the peppers and oil. I prefer to add the whole garlic cloves smashed instead of chopping the garlic, eliminating the risk of eating a raw piece of garlic in the sandwich. These peppers will stay in the fridge covered for up to one week (if they last that long).

the sandwich:
Toast bread. Spread each half with goat cheese, and lay as many basil leaves in a single layer as will fit on your bread slice, and thinkly sliced red onion on top of that. Lay the red pepper slices on top of the basil leaves, cover with the other slice of bread and enjoy!

Roasted Butternut & Curry Soup

5 Oct

Recipe Source: Esalen Cookbook: Healthy and Organic Recipes from Big Sur © 2006 Charlie Cascio

This is a recipe I found after checking out the Esalen cookbook, after falling in love with another of its soups I found on 101 Cookbooks, and after falling in love with Esalen itself. I went to Esalen on a three-day retreat after graduating college, when a lot of life changes were going on for me, much bigger than just entering “the real world” post-academia. It was a place of healing and hope, a tiny, nurturing world of its own hidden away in the mist of Big Sur, and it will always hold a very dear place in my heart. I hope to go back one day. In the meantime, I have my memories, one being the lovely garden and the sensual, wholesome food prepared from it. I don’t know if I had this soup there, but maybe one day I will. For now, I’ll be content to make it at home.

butternut curry soup
RECIPE – Roasted Butternut & Curry Soup

Most people have eaten butternut squash without knowing it. The canned pumpkin that is found in the supermarket that a lot of people make pumpkin pie out of is, in all honesty, butternut squash. Butternut has an exceptionally good flavor and a creamy texture. Roasting concentrates the sugars and flavor of this orange-fleshed winter squash. The spicy curry and the creaminess of the coconut milk give this soup another dynamic.

1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium-size onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons curry powder
3 cups coconut milk
2 tablespoons sea salt
3 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock, or water
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
Sunflower seed for garnish (optional)

Place a large butternut on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F. Roast for about 1 hour; it is done when you can stick a knife into the squash and there is no resistance (it goes through like butter). Split the squash in half; scoop out and discard the seeds. Scoop out the pulp and set aside.

Place oil in a 6-quart soup pot over high heat and sauté onion until it is translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the celery and curry powder and sauté until the celery is tender. Turn heat down to medium and add the butternut pulp, coconut milk, salt, and stock or water. Blend with a hand mixer or whisk by hand until you have a smooth consistency. Heat until soup is hot, add cilantro, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6.

For an excellent taste, add chunks of fresh goat cheese or fresh cream to the soup before serving.

Pumpkin Pudding

4 Oct

Recipe Source: Skinny in the City email newsletter, Top 6 Skinny Foods for 2010

This is a really simple, unusual, delicious breakfast for the Fall and it’s full of fiber and protein. It’s rich, creamy and very satiating. Chances are good you’ll be satisfied far longer with a bowl of this than a bowl of your normal breakfast cereal. It also makes a nice post-lunch dessert if you’re a slave to that sort of thing… *cough*

All you do is combine 6 ounces of nonfat vanilla yogurt with 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree and a few spices (I like 1/2 teaspoon each of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice). You can whisk it together or whip for a few seconds in the blender and voila! Pumpkin puddin’.

San Diego Veg Week, Oct 2-9

2 Oct

Hey all! Just a quick post to let you know about San Diego Veg Week, a movement sponsored by the Animal Protection & Rescue League and others, to promote the prevention of animal cruelty, improve health, and protect the environment by exploring a vegetarian diet. San Diego’s event coincides with International Vegetarian Week, which runs from October 1-7. Why San Diego decided to be different, I cannot tell you. We’re just special that way, I guess.

SD veg week

Anyway, I’ve decided to get on board for this, as a way to force myself to explore more vegetarian meals and food preparations. I’ve been learning about the effects of animal farming on the environment for a while now, as well as the cruel ways in which most animals are raised for food, and I think it’s important to be aware of these issues as a consumer. I am not anti-meat; in fact, I am very happy as an omnivore and doubt I will ever go completely vegetarian. But I do feel good after eating a vegetarian meal, and hope to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I think events like Veg Week are great for raising our awareness, on so many levels.

So, if you’re interested, I encourage you to visit the website and sign up for their free e-newsletter. I will also be making short posts on what I come up with for food this week.

*Cheating slightly – because I just found out about this event and already had a meat-eating weekend planned (family birthday luncheon and monthly cooking group), I will be starting my own veg week on Monday.

To all vegetarians, vegans, or “veg-curious” who may be reading, I’d love to hear about your own experiences, advice, favorite recipes, etc. So comment away! 🙂