Farmer’s market inspiration for a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

Every other week, when I don’t get my CSA box, I try to make it down to the marvelous farmer’s market by my house. This week I actually remembered to bring cash with me and stocked up on all kinds of delightful goodies. I am usually very strict with myself about not buying prepared food at the farmer’s market (it is usually way outside my budget) but there is one stand, Sinbad’s, that sells the most incredible Middle Eastern food. Their baba ganoush – already one of my favorite foods – is divine, full of smoky chunks of eggplant in a smooth, perfectly seasoned base.

Mujadara, chopped salad, falafel, and Sinbad's baba ganoush

The market had plenty of eye candy this week – gorgeous squash blossoms, mountain-grown blueberries, incredible peaches and nectarines from Kashiwase Farm. Kashiwase had out a huge display that let you taste twelve different kinds of peaches and nectarines. The Honeygold nectarines (I think that’s what they’re called – definitely “honey” in the name) taste like honey, but like the honey that the gods drink on Mt. Olympus.

This was the first time I’d been to the market on an overcast day – the whole place looked different without the usual awnings, and my favorite table of Asian greens at the end of the market was alive with motion, all the leafy veggies flapping in the strong wind. I bought eggplants – several sizes and kinds, so happy to see them in the market at last. Strawberries, peaches, and nectarines. Chinese broccoli, a gorgeous head of cauliflower, a huge bunch of fat stubby carrots, and some pickling cucumbers for my long-delayed Russian meal.

I am barely scraping this menu together this week, so sadly I fail on the Gluten-Free Menu Swap ingredient-of-the-week. This week it is almonds and almond flour, chosen and hosted by Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness, all around great cook and organizer of our GF menu swap. If I weren’t rushing about I would be all over this theme as I love cooking and baking with almond flour, but sadly I’ll just have to be satisfied with hungrily checking out what everyone else is doing.

And, as always, you can find a world of menu plans over at the giant MPM compendium at OrgJunkie!

Monday
Mujadara (lentils and rice with caramelized onions)
Homemade falafel
Chopped salad (tomato, cuke, red onion, sugar snap peas)
Baba ganoush

Tuesday
Vinegret (Russian beet and potato salad with dill)
Kasha with home-fermented cabbage and carrots
Pickling cucumbers

Wednesday
Soft polenta layered with steamed Chinese broccoli, kidney beans, and mushroom tomato sauce

Thursday
Udi’s GF pizza crust with garlicky beet greens, broiled eggplant, and tomato
Butter lettuce salad with citrus vinaigrette

Friday
Three sisters stew with leeks (Fresh Food Fast p105)
Arepas (Fresh Food Fast p105)

Saturday
Hot pockets with eggplant caponata filling (using Flying Apron pocket recipe)
Hot pockets with Indian sweet potato and cauliflower curry filling

Sunday
Zucchini and black bean quesadillas with chipotle salsa (FFF 85)
Chilled cucumber and mint soup (FFF 87)

Desserts
Vegan plum clafouti
Roasted peaches with labneh made from soy yogrut (FFF 138)

For $22 at the farmer’s market I got:
Huge bunch of carrots
Medium globe eggplant
pint strawberries
4 pickling cukes
3 nectarines
2 peaches
head cauliflower
bunch chinese broccoli
4 large japanese eggplants

Indian Feast

Last week I solicited your advice about what to make as a filling meal for myself and a friend who had very different dietary restrictions. You all gave me a ton of amazing suggestions, and I am so appreciative. The food blogging community rises to any challenge!

Inspiration struck after my friend replied to my request for a list of well-loved veggies and cuisines. I turned to a couple of my favorite cookbooks to whip us up an Indian-inspired feast!

I had a ton of beets and lettuce from my box, so we started off with a not-at-all-Indian salad of red leaf lettuce, roasted beets, and spiced candied pecans in a citrus vinaigrette. Then I served a couple of my favorite easy curries – Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower and potato) from Vegan Express and Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Seeds from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes – accompanied by white basmati rice and a little spiced cabbage condiment, also from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes. It was an altogether delicious, healthy, and filling meal that satisfied our different diets and our taste buds! Plus, I had so many leftovers I got to eat Indian lunches for nearly a week. That’s my kind of feast!

Plums and corn ~ Week of July 14th


Happy Bastille Day! Let’s celebrate victory over tyranny with some fresh produce!

I don’t mean to be off the cuff about it. Tyranny is still being felt all over the world in so many forms, including right now in France with the racist political maneuvering of the burqa ban.

But I have such a special place in my heart for Bastille Day. I attended a bilingual and bicultural French- American school growing up, and I experienced my first French Bastille Day in Paris at the age of seven. I mostly ignored the most recent 4th of July while at home working on my grad school application, listening to the faint booms echoing from way out over the water. But today I wanted to hear La Marseillaise. It must be a childhood thing – it just makes me so happy. Or maybe it’s that my French is bad enough now that I just hear the stirring music and don’t have to think about things like “May an impure blood water our furrows!”

At any rate, my Bastille Day box was gorgeous, with one notable exception. Truly beautiful corn and plums – perfect for any independence day celebration, whether here or abroad. Pre-vegan days I would have made clafoutis with the plums, kicking off a summer’s worth of stone-fruit clafoutis. Doing a quick Food Blog Search for “vegan clafouti” I found several interesting recipes using silken tofu or chia seeds, so I may have to give them both a shot. It just isn’t summer without clafoutis.

The one major disappointment in my box this week was the bag of green grapes. They were mushy and tasted of mold, throughout the entire bag. I had to toss the whole bunch straight into the compost. What a shame! I’ve enjoyed so many fresh grapes lately (plus I’m not partial to green grapes in general) so this bunch was going to go into the freezer  for a most delicious, decadent summer dessert/snack. Ah well, I will take the advice of the French (Marchons! Marchons!) and move on from the disappointing grapes to the yummilicious rest of my box. For instance, I tried one of my tomatoes today. I didn’t have high hopes for it because it was a pallid, unassuming little fellow. But the flavor it packed took me back to my childhood, to the time when tomatoes were treasures and their taste exploded with summer.

Cantaloupe
Yellow peaches (1.5 lb)
Green grapes (1.5 lb)
Santa Rosa plums (1 lb)
Red beets (4, with greens)
Nantes carrots (1 bunch)
Tomatoes (2 lbs)
White corn (4 ears)
Butter lettuce (1 huge head)
Cucumber (1 lb)
Purple basil (1 bunch)
Yellow onions (1 bunch)

It’s a salad party on a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Monday

I had an awesome menu plan for last week, but life ultimately brought in some unexpected tweaks, as it so often does. Do you know the kind of week I mean? I ended up being extremely busy, which meant I didn’t get to the store for the extra ingredients I needed to make several of the dishes in my plan. I also had a couple of raw dishes planned from a cookbook I’m checking out but didn’t end up making either one. There’s always so much grating and mandolining for raw meals! One night I found myself making dinner at 11pm, so I skipped the labor-intensive raw spring rolls I had planned and made Sunrise Noodles instead, which I can make in my sleep (good thing, too, at 11pm!). The other meal I had planned (Raw “Pasta” Puttanesca with zucchini “noodles”) was thrown by the wayside in favor of a nice filling hot dish – Tamale Bake – that kept me fed for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for days.

Nicoise Salad (on this week's menu)

Despite my total deviation from the plan, I still ended up eating quite well last week. I ate out on two nights when I had planned to cook, so I’ve ended up with two yummy meals that never got made but that I can recycle into this week. I think I’m just going to let go of those raw recipes that never got made. One of them provided inspiration for Wendy of Celiacs in the House to make gorgeous raw spring rolls (you should check out her blog this month, she’s doing an awesome project!), so for that alone I’m glad I included it in my meal plan.

Borscht (this week's menu)

I continue to love the feature of my CSA that lets me preview what will be coming in my box. Before I started menu planning I loved to be surprised, but now I find it invaluable to be able to get inspiration and information about what will be coming. This week is a lot of fruit, plus cucumbers, basil, tomato, lettuce, beets, and corn. Yum, I feel a delicious summer salad coming on! But that’s also why I have trouble in the summer. I need a steady diet of green veggies to feel healthy, and while I enjoy them, a little bit of cucumber, lettuce, and tomato just doesn’t do it.

Salad rolls with kitchari and tomato relish (this week's menu)

I also have quite a challenge coming up – to make dinner for myself and a friend who is also gluten-free. What’s the catch? Well, I’m vegan, and my friend (an omnivore) can’t eat soy, beans, or quinoa. So everything I eat for protein is off limits, and vice versa. We basically overlap at rice, fruits, and vegetables. What on earth can I make for us that will be both filling and delicious? Any suggestions? I’m thinking potatoes in some form?

One-pot Bibimbap (this week's menu)

This week’s Gluten Free Menu Swap is hosted by Heather of Celiac Family with the theme of salads. What a perfect theme for what’s coming in my box!  I’ll be making Salade Nicoise (a summer favorite I have yet to grow tired of), salad rolls stuffed with a yummy lentil quinoa mixture, and fruit salad with all the fruit coming in my CSA box. I’m trying out a new basil-citrus salad dressing (dressings are my Achilles’ heel), and making my favorite Russian salad which is made with beets and other wonderful things. It’s quite a week for salads! Hopefully the weather will oblige me… I was driving home the other night in freezing, foggy, drizzling weather, thinking to myself, Yep! It must be July!

As always there are oodles of menu plans at the giant MPM compendium over at OrgJunkie, with a fair number of vegan folks tuning in every week now, so go check it out!

Edamame and smoked tofu succotash (this week's menu)

Monday
One-pot bibimbap with arame, shitake mushrooms, spinach, tofu, and napa cabbage

Tuesday (defrost 5 C. stock)
Nicoise salad
Borscht

Wednesday (ferment cabbage for the weekend)
Hand-held salad rolls stuffed with kitchari (lentil and quinoa mixture with flax seed oil, lime juice, tamari, toasted sesame oil), tomato relish, julienned carrots, fresh basil
Corn on the cob with umeboshi plum paste or chili and lime
Fruit salad

Thursday
Edamame and Smoked Tofu Succotash (with fresh corn and tomatoes)
Salad with basil-citrus vinaigrette

Friday
Leftovers

Saturday
Vinegret (Russian beet salad)
Kasha with fermented cabbage
Cucumbers

Sunday
Leftovers

Shopping list: chili-garlic sauce, 1 lb new potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, 2 onions, 2 cabbages, scallions, small red onion, (check for frozen edamame), 1 orange, 3 medium boiling potatoes, canned peas, 3 dill pickles, scallions, fresh dill, kasha

Cali-Mex Feast

Last night, according to my menu plan, I was supposed to make Raw “Pasta” Puttanesca from The 30-Minute Vegan, using zuchinni strips as the “noodles.” But I’d had Salade Nicoise the night before, and Epic Salad the night before that, and I was beginning to feel the early warning signs of vegan, gluten-free crankiness. You know, the unsatisfied feeling you get when you haven’t had anything substantial pass between your lips in a few days? It’s not hard to eat satisfying, filling meals that are vegan and gluten-free, but it’s all too easy not to, as well.

Yesterday morning I went online to find out if Trader Joe’s sells brined olives of any sort (I had to make a Two-Buck Chuck run and figured I’d grab some olives for the Puttanesca at the same time) and came across a curious blog called Cooking with Trader Joe’s. As far as I can tell the women who write it are unaffiliated with Trader Joe’s, although they have also written two cookbooks about cooking using ingredients found at everyone’s favorite food emporium. I started scrolling through their recipes, fascinated, until my attention was arrested by a delicious-looking pile of goodness called Tamale Bake. The recipe for Tamale Bake called for three zucchini… the very zucchini I’d been planning to slice up into fake, raw, cold noodles. The idea of something hot, filling and gooey immediately trumped fake, raw, and cold. I jotted down the ingredients and took my list to TJs.

As promised, I was able to find all of the ingredients for Tamale Bake at Trader Joe’s, though I didn’t need zucchini since of course that was what I was trying to use up from my box. I bought the soy chorizo and the bottled enchilada sauce (WARNING: it contains FLOUR, as does, apparently, most traditional enchilada sauce – wtf?), found two cans of black beans and picked up some sliced mushrooms and a can of sliced black olives. But when it came time to get the two tubes of precooked polenta, I balked. It was FOUR dollars for two tubes. I can’t remember how much bulk polenta costs at Rainbow, but it’s certainly not four dollars for a couple of cups of dry polenta. Before I realized how easy it is to make polenta in the rice cooker, I might have treated myself to the convenience of the tubes, but I have no excuse now for not making it from scratch.

I assembled my Tamale Bake, which was both easy and convenient, and while it was in the oven I pondered proper accompaniments. I’d just received a beautiful little watermelon in my box, as well as some lovely peaches that needed to be eaten right away. I decided to start with the yummy Mexican snack of chile and melon, so I sprinkled slices of the watermelon with chili powder. I also made a gorgeous fruit salad with watermelon, peaches, and grapes from my box and strawberries and blueberries from TJs. I rounded out the meal with a salad of CSA lettuce, Persian cucumbers, green onions, and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) with an avocado-lime-cilantro dressing. I improvised the dressing based on several others I found online and it ended up way too sweet (curse you, agave nectar!). I liked the concept a lot but I’ll need to keep working on the execution.

Nothing was authentic, of course, but as a native Californian who grew up eating California Mexican food, I do feel I have a certain amount of leeway in improvising “Cali-Mex”-style dishes. And what could be more Cali-Mex than a pseudo-Mexican meal involving locally, sustainably grown veggies and soy chorizo? When the timer went off and I pulled my tamale bake out of the oven, I felt I had a winner on my hands. And I was right – it was delicious, filling, a bit healthy, and very, very satisfying.

Tamale Bake
This recipe is slightly adapted from a recipe from the blog Cooking with Trader Joe’s. It would make a fabulous potluck contribution and makes wonderful leftovers.

2 cups dry polenta
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (I used a red onion)
4 zucchini, sliced
Sliced mushrooms (I used a “bag’s worth” from TJs)
1 can sliced olives
1 package Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo (unlike most meat subs, does not contain any gluten!)
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained
1 cup Enchilada Sauce (TJ’s contains flour – a nice thin red salsa, which they have at TJs, could be a good substitute)
1/4 cup cilantro (optional)

In a rice cooker, combine 2 cups dry polenta and 1 tsp salt with 6 cups water and cook on “white rice” setting. Test for doneness, and stir thoroughly when finished. (You can also cook polenta with the same proportions in a pot.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Saute onions for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until they begin to soften, then add zucchini and cook 5 minutes longer, until zucchini is tender.
Lightly grease a 9″x13″ baking pan with Earth Balance. Spread half the polenta on the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle on half of: the chorizo (remove it from its plastic casing!), black beans, sliced olives, onion/zucchini/mushroom mixture, and enchilada sauce or salsa. Spread another layer of polenta on top and then sprinkle on remaining half of ingredients.
Bake for 30 minutes until casserole is piping hot. Sprinkle cilantro evenly on top.

Back in the day, a Moosewood recipe for Tamale Pie used to be one of my staple recipes. It was great to bring to potlucks because it was vegetarian, filling, and always super popular. I’ve thought about it often over the years. First when I went gluten-free I thought about what a drag it would be to make the cornbread topping GF, and then once I went vegan it seemed impossible – the dish would just be too dry and not nearly gooey enough with no cheese added. But this recipe takes care of all of these dilemmas and more! Which makes it a perfect dish to submit to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays – all the indulgence of a favorite dish, with none of the ingredients I can’t or don’t want to eat. Check out the other great indulgences this week for more inspiration!

While I’m at it, this is a perfect and pretty submission for Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table! Tuesdays are a big day for food round-ups, it seems!

Getting the ball rolling again with a vegan, gluten-free Menu Plan Friday?

As I said in my previous post, June was a crazy month with a lot going on. I was out of town, I never made it to the grocery store (luckily I keep an absurdly stocked pantry so I’ll never starve, but I do lose my interest in home-cooking when there’s nothing fresh to eat), I was barely home at all.

But a new box has arrived, and it’s a Rainbow coupon month again, so it’s time to get back into the swing of things! I know I usually ramble on forever in my menu posts, but this time I’m getting right to business.

For summertime inspiration, check out the Gluten Free Menu Swap this week hosted by Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness with the theme of Summertime Foods!

Nicoise Salad

Friday
Nicoise salad (lettuce, tomato, green beans, potatoes, red onion with Nicoise dressing)
Fruit salad

Saturday
Raw “Pasta” Puttanesca (made with zucchini “noodles”) (30-Minute Vegan p 202)
Fruit salad

Sunday
Live Spring Rolls (grated carrots and beets, sprouts, basil wrapped in chard leaves) (30-Minute Vegan p 308) (add rice noodles/baked tofu?)
Raw kale salad with avocado and cherry tomatoes

Raw Kale Salad with Avocado & Cherry Tomatoes

Monday
Bibimbap with arame, shitake mushrooms, spinach, and napa cabbage

Tuesday
Leftovers

Wednesday
Coco Rice and Beans (30 MV p 195)
Gingered Collard Greens (30MV p 177)
Baked Plantains (30MV p 186)

Thursday
Pasta Florentine with broccoli (30MV p 221)
Romaine lettuce salad with carrots and Balsamic Dressing (30MV p 144)

Friday
Leftovers

Vinegret (Russian beet salad)

Saturday
Vinegret (Russian beet salad)
Kasha with fermented cabbage
Pickling cucumbers

Sunday
Games! Burritos?

Shopping list: Nicoise olives, sprouts, kale, cherry tomatoes, 2 large ripe plantains, collard greens, baked tofu, tofu, napa cabbage, (check for 2 pkg frozen spinach), broccoli, romaine lettuce, 3 medium boiling potatoes, onions, garlic, canned peas, 3 dill pickles, scallions, fresh dill, kasha, fermented cabbage, pickling cucumbers