It is too hot to do a lot of cooking in many parts of the US these days. Salads are a good alternative. However, if you get tired of just salads, here are two easy vegan dishes to enjoy that require little cooking time. If you are not vegan or vegetarian, you can add some cubed meat as you are sautéing the veggies.
Healthy and Fast Food–1
Since I like to know the source of food and never get take out when I am home, I create quick, easy, food that fits my personal health goals for food. Here is an easy recipe for one person. Just double, triple, etc. the proportions to fit the number of people for whom you are cooking.
Saute several chopped garlic cloves and cubed delicata squash–I used one half of the squash–in olive oil until almost tender. Add I filet fish (I used barramundi on which I had squeezed fresh lemon juice). When fish is 1/2 done, add 1/2 chopped poblano pepper and 1/2 bell pepper chopped. Saute until fish is done and peppers tender but still bright colored. Add whatever seasonings you prefer. I used basil essential oil. Serve over pasta or rice. I also grated asiago over the dish when I plated it. I prefer asiago over parmesan.
Note: You can also use butternut squash. Delicata has the advantage in that you do not have to peel it.
Cooking with Paneer
Although I did know what paneer is–a white cheese originally from India, I had no idea what to do with it. At the last trip to the grocery, I saw it there with all the other specialty cheeses and said to myself, “Why not try this?” I’ve made India dishes of various kinds off and on for decades but never used paneer.
My first experiment resulted in this:
Here is the recipe: sauté 5 to 6 coarsely chopped cloves of garlic in olive oil (I know you should use ghee but I did not have any). Finely chop fresh ginger to equal 2 – 3 Tablespoons. Add to the garlic. Stir in garam masala or curry powder–I used some of both which I had on hand. Add paneer which has been cut into cubes. After the above were adequately cooked, I added coarsely chopped arugula and when it was wilted, I added frozen peas and continued cooking only until they were warm. I served it over basmati rice which I cooked while making the paneer recipe.
I made this a couple of days ago. Today I am experimenting with another paneer recipe I created. This time I will mix what I have on hand, chopped onions, carrot coins, chopped beets, paneer, and chopped poblano peppers. I will use the same spices as before.
Both these recipes are vegetarian.
Wandering the World–Food
My travels have not only enlightened me personally, but also enabled me to create recipes from my food adventures around the world. Due to the recommendations of friends and family worldwide, I created a cookbook/memoir with stories and recipes. Len Leatherwood, new President of the Story Circle Network, says, “This is a cookbook after my own heart, filled with a wide range of healthy recipes from several cultures that will add flavor, color, and variety to any table.” Jennifer Archer, award winning writer and editor elaborated further, “A feast for the senses…combines colorful stories, poems, and mouth-watering recipes that inspire readers to experience new places, new tastes…from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Scandinavia, and America.”
This would make a great Christmas present for foodies and people who want worldwide food adventures. It can be ordered online from: http://www.dreamcatcherbooks.com and go to Angel Books.
Recipes for the food in the photos above are included in the book. More food photos follow:
Lemon pasta with mixed salad topped with grated asiago cheese.
Many of the recipes feature berbere, a spice used in Ethiopian cooking. The book also includes four different recipes for salmon and many vegetarian and vegan recipes using spices from around the world.
Last eve a friend came over. Both of us have been careful during this difficult time and felt it was safe to see each other. I cooked a dish I ate every day when I visited Costa Rica, gallo pinto. Usually it is served with platanos fritos. I did not have platanos so served it with a mixed salad.
Poblano, red and yellow bell peppers, finely chopped, and ready to cook.
Finely chopped onions already sautéed and now the peppers are cooking.
The finished dish–left over rice, black beans, the pepper and onion mixture, and a little cumin–served with fresh salad. The recipe for this dish and the salad are in my upcoming book. As soon as I know the date to preorder, I will let everyone know. The book will also be available at Burrowing Owl in Canyon and Amarillo, Texas.
Stuffed Acorn Squash
Winter squash, butternut and acorn, are two vegetables I like and think are under used. Because I became tired of peeling butternut, I decided to invent something for acorn squash. Much to my surprise, it is now one of Martina’s favorite foods. She has even sent photos to her mother in Italy to see if the squash is sold there so her family can try it. The following recipe is for two. Obviously, just buy more squash and fill if you want to make it for more people. This is a perfect recipe for vegetarians because no meat or fish is used.
1 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon honey for each half
Pepitas or any chopped nut of your choice
Saute the finely chopped onion in olive oil until translucent. Stir in approximately one handful of seeds or nuts. Rub olive oil in the bottom of a small baking dish or pan and cover the flesh of the squash with a thin layer of olive oil. Place squash in the pan, fill deseeded center with the onion mixture. Place honey on top of this mixture. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the squash halves.
For a totally vegetarian meal, serve with salad.
If you want to add more protein to the meal, add black or garbanzo beans to the salad. Sometimes we also add chopped hard boiled eggs and feta cheese.
Cod Loin with Fennel and Lemon
This recipe, one of my favorites, will appear in my soon to be released cookbook full of family and life stories about food, family, and friends. I made this tonight around eight. As usual, I made enough for leftovers for another meal. Makes it easier if you work or are really busy.
Two small cod loins or one large cut in half
3 gloves garlic, chopped
1 poblano pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
Fennel essential oil
Lemon essential oil
Vegetables of your choosing cut into bite sized pieces
1 small handful of pepitas
I vary this by using different vegetables, e.g. spinach, Swiss chard, Brussel sprouts, beets, carrots. Tonight I used Brussel sprouts.
Saute garlic in olive oil until golden. If you use beets or carrots, sauce them with the garlic until nearly tender. If you use spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard, add them last.
Add the cod loins to garlic mixture and sprinkle each one with several drops of lemon and fennel essential oil. If you do not use essential oil, sprinkle with ground fennel and add deseeded lemons. If using Brussel sprouts, cut them in slices and add at the same time as the cod. When the cod is half cooked, add the poblano peppers and cook only until cod is done and the peppers are cooked but still bright green. If using spinach, etc., add them just before cod and peppers are done and stir until wilted. Sprinkle pepitas over the rice and vegetables. Serve over pasta or rice.
Note: I have also used fresh fennel for this recipe. If you decide to do this, saute it along with the garlic.
Served over Basmati rice. Salad is red bell peppers, red cabbage, romaine lettuce, radishes, and scallions with roasted sesame seed oil for dressing.
Pasta with Sardines, Walnuts, and Figs
pasta of your choice–I use conchiglie
5 dried mission figs, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup broken walnuts–I used black walnuts tonight
1 can sardines in olive oil
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Saute garlic and walnuts in just enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan until garlic is lightly browned. Add figs and sardines. Do not drain olive oil from the sardines. Add balsamic vinegar. Stir and heat through. Add to drained pasta. Stir to combine. Serve with grated pecorino cheese and a simple salad. This recipe serves 2-3.
Note: Why sardines? There are good reasons to add sardines to your food choices. First, they are near the bottom of the food chain and have little to no chemical residue as a consequence, e.g. no mercury. Second, small amounts have lots of protein and omega oils. One little can has 22 grams of protein. 1/2 cup walnuts has 12 grams of protein. I use pasta from an ancient Italian monastery.