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.
1/2 medium sized sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, deseeded, cut in half lengthwise and cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2-3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4 large, red, bell pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
3 cups lacinato kale–see directions below
1 cup cannelloni beans
Spices–for this recipe I used World Market Mediterranean Greek
Before measuring the kale, cut out the central stem, discard, and finely chop the remainder of the leaves. Sauté the onion and garlic in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan or skillet until the onion is translucent. Add jalapeño and red bell pepper. Cook until tender but the color is still bright. Sprinkle spices over this mixture and stir–amount of spices to suit your taste. Add kale. Stir and cook until the kale it totally wilted. Add cannoli beans and serve over rice.
Note: Other spices I use include basil, thyme, and fennel essential oils. Be careful when using essential oils to cook. A little goes a long way.
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.
After several days away from home, I made a quick, tasty, vegetarian dinner this evening.
Since I am leaving for California early Wednesday morning and did not want to buy more food, I used what I could find in the refrigerator: Brussel sprouts, red bell pepper, poblano pepper, broccoli, onion. I found a container of pepitas in the pantry and added some of those as well.
1/4 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 small poblano pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and coarsely chopped
6 Brussel sprouts, sliced
Several broccoli florets
Basil essential oil or dried basil
Pour enough olive oil in skillet to cover bottom and heat on medium low. Add onions and saute until carmelized. Add Brussels sprouts. When sprouts are about half done, add remaining ingredients and six drops of basil essential oil. Saute until tender but still bright colored. Toss in a handful of pepitas. Serve over pasta or rice.
I served this with pasta and grated asiago cheese on top. Although I frequently use parmesan for grating, I actually prefer asiago. Without the cheese, this is vegan.
Without a doubt Costa Rica holds my vote for most photogenic and greenest country. From the Caribbean and Pacific rain forests to the high mountain town of Monteverde, the words lush, exotic, verdant do not even begin to describe how incredibly rich the landscape is. One of the first spectacular views lay before me across the parking lot from a combination restaurant and souvenir shop where we stopped for snacks.
I did not expect to see multiple mountain streams like in the Rockies, but it seemed we were crossing one nearly constantly. This abundance of water explains their nearly total dependence on hydroelectric power with a little help from wind and thermal energy.
Several of my traveling companions decided to raft this river with class 4 rapids. Something told me I should not do this. After flipping over several times, banged up and bruised, they decided to hike out. In the meantime, I experienced my own adventure, eating a raw turtle egg in salsa at a family restaurant on the top of a nearby mountain.
Beautiful mountain scenery seems endless. I kept 00hing and awing.
This view shows the Bay of Nicoya in the distance from my hotel room in Monteverde. The following photos all show views in the mountains near this little remote town. There is only one road in and out and it is not paved and it is narrow. The town was originally settled by Quakers from Canada who still believe a paved road will ruin the peaceful lifestyle. Both the Quakers and the town are famous for their cheese which was served both plain and fried for breakfast.
This area provides both zip lining and horseback riding for tourists. I elected to ride. However, these horses did not seem well fed and certainly did not want to go very fast. Although I saw a lot of horses in Costa Rica, these were by far the thinest.
The guy who lead us did not ride one of these. He was riding a fancy, prancing, grey Paso Fino.
Look closely and you can see someone zip lining across the forested canyon hundreds of feet below.
When I asked about this tree, I was told it is related to cacao, but not eaten, not by humans anyway.
We traveled down the mountain on another dirt road to visit this elementary school. It housed grades 1-6 with one teacher who is also the principal. The literacy rate in Costa Rica is 98.5.
Playing soccer with the students.
A port on the Pacific on the way to the surfing town of Jaco. Costa Rica exports many agricultural products from both its Pacific and Caribbean ports. This includes bananas, pineapples, hearts of palms, and many tropical flowers.
While many beaches remain unsafe for swimming due to a strong undertow, the beaches at Manuel Antonio National Park are perfect.
To get into Manuel Antonio you have to walk and no parking exists really close. Hiking out we crossed an area where the water rushed around our knees and the sign said, “No Swimming, Crocodiles”.
As a farmer, I like to look at and photograph crops. With all the rain and heat, Costa Rica is the perfect climate for many tropical fruits and rice. On the way back from Manuel Antonio we passed miles of rice fields and Aftican palms which produce palm oil.
Coffee, the main export of Costa Rica. In the highlands, coffee grows everywhere even along the berms in places so steep I wondered how the person picking the beans did not fall over. Of course, I wondered the same thing about the dairy cattle grazing on the mountain slopes.
We did stop in Sarchi, the town famous for its furniture and oxcart industry. Oxcarts remain the national symbol of Costa Rica. Because of the mountainous terrain, when Costa Rican coffee initially became famous and its most successful crop, the only way to get the coffee to the coasts for export was to use oxcarts.
We spent very little time in cities. However, as we left San Jose near the end of the trip and headed for the Caribbean side, I took some hurried photographs out the window.
My first and last hotel window view in San Jose included these stately coconut palms.
4 4-6 oz. salmon filets
Enough teriyaki sauce to cover the salmon in a shallow dish
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
Marinate the salmon in the teriyaki sauce while you prepare the remainder of the ingredients. You may marinate the salmon longer if you wish it to taste less fishy. Saute the onions in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of your skillet. Place the salmon and the teriyaki sauce in the skillet with the onions and sauté until the salmon is nearly done. Add the crystallized ginger and cook until salmon is done. Optional additions: 1 large poblano pepper chopped, chopped mushrooms, chopped garlic. The photo below includes poblano peppers which I use in many dishes. They have a unique flavor and little heat. Serve with Jasmine rice with golden raisins and a green salad.
My son is the originator of the basic recipe. I modified it to suit my own taste. He wraps all the ingredients in foil and cooks it on a cookie sheet on the grill. Sometimes I put it all together and bake it in the oven. These latter methods are the easiest with company because it cooks while you entertain.