Category Archives: Vegan

Squash-a-palooza: Perfectly Simple Grilled Squash

This might be the last time you get to break out the grill in 2012, so take full advantage!  If summer squash and zucchini have been mysteriously showing up on your doorstep as gardening neighbors do their best to unload the last of their harvests, don’t fret.  This is a classic throw-together dish that can’t even really be called a recipe because it’s so simple.  Simply perfect to go along with anything.  If you have one of those snazzy non-stick grill toppers for veggies, then it’s even easier.

1.  Cut squash into spears

2.  In a large dish, toss together squash, a generous drizzle of olive oil, onion slices, some garlic if you feel like it, salt, pepper and chopped rosemary.  Add a squeeze of lemon juice.  Grill over medium-high heat until nicely caramelized on all sides; flip or rotate as appropriate.

3.  Serve with grilled meat or fish.  Or cut it up and toss it into pasta.  Leftovers are great for an egg scramble the next day–sprinkle with parmesan cheese for extra umami punch.

4.  Eat outside…it’s probably our last chance to do it this year.

Sigh…good-bye summer!  It’s been a joy.  And thank you for not short-changing the Pacific Northwest this year, our garden is especially appreciative.

Squash-a-palooza: Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

Oh my squash.  This chowder is truly, simply, really delicious.  And fast and easy to make!  You can also prepare it vegan or vegetarian by subbing the milk and omitting the bacon, see instructions below.  It’s the perfect summer segue into fall and uses the best of the passing season’s bounty.  Get your soup bowls ready!

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Squash-a-palooza: Summer Squash Relish

It’s 80 degrees and sunny in Seattle today.  I’m in Maui right now but cheering on the last warm days before heading into what will surely be a bittersweet, gorgeous Fall.  If you are still harvesting summer squash, there are lots of options to use your glut…don’t toss it!  Today I’ll be posting several recipes, but this one stands out as a way to use up quite a bit.  Also–if you shred your squash (food processor to the rescue here), you can stash it in your freezer for months.

This relish is unexpectedly delicious; slightly sweet and just acidic enough to brighten any meat.  It’s also easy to make.  Grill up the last of those hot dogs and hit ’em hard with this relish…I think you’ll thank me.

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Jerry Traunfeld’s Nasturtium Capers

Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld (Scribner 2000)

Nasturtiums are true multi-use flowers.  They’re easy to grow and beautiful, and they attract pollinators to your garden to boot.  Both nasturtium flowers and young leaves are edible as long as you grow them organically, which isn’t hard to do.  They provide a peppery punch similar to watercress in salads, and the flowers add a gorgeous splash of color.  Nasturtiums even contain decent amounts of vitamin C.

A regular caper is the flower bud of the Capparis spinosa plant and its seedpod is called a caper berry, which is also delicious (especially in a bloody mary) when brined.  The seedpods of nasturtiums look just like the caper plant’s buds, and they taste similar to capers once pickled.  In my opinion they’re better.  Nasturtiums form seedpods in late summer; you’ll find them attached to the stems underneath the foliage, where they develop in clusters of three.  You want young pods that are still green since mature seedpods turn yellowish and hard.

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Prettiest Pickled Chioggia Beets

How pretty are these?  I didn’t grow up eating beets, but I’ve come to love them–in salads, roasted with other root vegetables, as chips, and especially pickled.  Dan grew a bunch of chioggia (aka “candy cane”) beets in the p-patch and since I rarely turn the oven on during summer, those babies were just begging to be pickled.  I’m certain that this recipe will work well with any kind of beet; I think golden beets would look pretty gorgeous in jars too.
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Romantic Blueberry Lavender Jam

The blueberries went crazy this year!  This is not a bad thing since I’ve been wanting to make this Blueberry Lavender jam recipe I found on Serious Eats.  Blueberry bushes do really well in the Pacific NW.  They love our climate and look beautiful in both summer and winter–the branches turn red as the weather cools, giving our area along our neighbor’s fence some interest and diversion amongst the evergreen and grey of the rest of the yard.

I adapted this recipe slightly: Instead of making the lavender tea, I just threw in the dried lavender buds we harvested last year.  In addition to saving time, I think it worked out beautifully.  To keep it vegan (not necessary but why not?) I used coconut oil in place of butter to help calm the foam situation down during full boil.

I can’t wait to try this on some lemon scones!

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Southwest Corn and Black Bean Salad

This simple salad is the perfect side dish for any Southwestern meal or Cinco de Mayo party.   It’s delicious served warm or cold and as a huge bonus, leftovers can be mixed with scrambled eggs and wrapped in a big flour tortilla for an awesome breakfast burrito the next morning.  Leave out the cheese for a vegan version; it won’t have the sharp bite that cotija contributes, but it will still be good.  The salad is also really yummy with tortilla chips, as a refreshingly different type of salsa.

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Can’t Go Wrong Guacamole


I see those packets of guacamole mix in stores and wonder why they even exist.  Dehydrated veggies and spice mix?  So unnecessary.  Guac is easy, a crowd pleaser, and pretty foolproof.  I’m even going to let you in on the secret to keep it from turning dark.

Avocados are ready when they yield to gentle pressure, much like a pear.  If you have hard avocados, put them in a paper bag and close it up for a day or two.  If your avocados are too soft/overripe, I can’t help you there–they won’t be much use.  Unless….hmmm….avocado bread, like banana bread?  Must explore.

If you’re an avocado aficionado, you can skip the next section.  If you’ve never cut into an avocado or want to know the quickest, easiest way to go about it, the next few pics are for you. Continue reading

Surprisingly Vegan African Sweet Potato Stew

I can’t believe it’s already March.  As we look forward to Spring by sowing seeds for lettuces, planting peas, starting leeks and basil, and planning another compost delivery, there are a few Fall/Winter things that are still looking beautiful in late-blooming Seattle.  Squashes and sweet potatoes are some of those things, and evenings are still chilly enough to enjoy a warming, hearty stew.  This particular recipe stands out because it’s vegan and very, very delicious–the flavors are beautifully balanced.  It also looks pretty nice served up in a squash bowl, something that my husband is fanatical about.  I’m not sure why, but when he sees round squash he instantly thinks “bowl”, and then proceeds to tell me that squash is so cool because it’s delicious, stores forever, and can be used as a container.  Who am I to deny him this small pleasure?

So here we are, in March, and I’m using my last opportunity to post a winter-centric dish until the weather becomes cold again, which I refuse to think about.  Enjoy, all you soup lovers!

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Oh So Versatile Tomato Base

I don’t know why the saying is “Easy as pie”.  Pie is not easy.  They should say “Easy as slow cooker tomato sauce”, because trust me, this is e-a-s-y.  And quite delicious.  And infinitely versatile.

As the sun graces us with its presence for a few more seconds each day, we’re easing into spring by starting some leeks and basil in the kitchen window, with lots more veggies to come soon:

I’m also in spring cleaning mode, so watch out freezer!

Last year was the first time I attempted to freeze tomatoes.  We grew over 100 pounds of gorgeous heirloom varietals so we lived in salad heaven for a while, canned a bunch, and gave away even more.  Towards the end of summer I was sick of canning (apparently it’s possible) and a friend told me I could freeze them to use for sauce later.  Eager to get them off the counter, I stashed them in the freezer where they’ve patiently waited for the past few months.  But spring is right around the corner, which turns into summer, which brings backyard bbq’s, fishing, and more recipes to experiment with.  It’s highly likely that summer will also bring an ice cream maker.  I need that freezer space back. Continue reading

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