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Vegan Thai Red Curry

Vegan Thai Red Curry
Vegan Thai Red Curry

One of my favorite dishes is Thai Red Curry with tofu. The complex flavors of the curry are warm and satisfying like no other dish I have ever eaten. My son, Andrew, first introduced me to Thai food after his travels to Thailand. He has traveled there a few times for both pleasure and school, and has become very fond of the culture and the food of the country.

I am not vegan, but I do like to eat healthy and I am always looking for easy vegan recipes to add to my collection. Therefore, I decided to make a vegan version of my favorite Thai dish, which was simple to do–just remove the fish sauce and use tofu for the protein. It is easy to make and I think you are going to love it.

This Thai inspired dish, is very easy to make. Most of the ingredients can be found at a regular grocery store, but I was not able to find the Thai chili so I used a jalapeño to add some heat.

Let’s get started!

Marinade for Tofu:

1 – garlic clove minced
3 – tbls. soy sauce
1 – tbls. honey (or brown sugar)
3 – tbls. rice vinegar
1/2 – tsp. red pepper flake
1 – 10 oz. extra firm tofu, cubed

Directions:

First, drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towels to absorb the extra water. You can also place a heavy pan on top of it to help squeeze out some of the water. Let is sit about 15 minutes to get out as much water as possible.

Next, place all the ingredients into a container with an air tight lid and stir to blend all the ingredients. Once the tofu is ready, cut it into one inch cubes. Place the cubed tofu into the marinade and seal tight. The tofu is delicate, so instead of mixing with a spoon, turn the container upside down a few times to cover all the pieces with the marinade. Let it marinate about 30 minutes, rotating the container periodically to make sure all the tofu marinates evenly.

Once the tofu has marinated long enough, heat a little canola oil in a large non-stick skillet. Cook until browned on all sides. Be careful not to break up the pieces when turning them. When they are ready, set aside until the curry is ready.

Ingredients for the Curry:

1/2 – cup thinly sliced red onion
1 – thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 – cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 – cup carrots
2 – cloves garlic minced
1/2 – small jalapeño pepper, sliced into rings (or Thai Chili if you can find it)
1/2 – cup vegetable stock
3 – tbls. red Thai curry paste
14 – oz. coconut milk
1 – lime and zest
1 – tsp. grated ginger
2 – tsp. honey (or brown sugar)
1/8 – tsp. chili sauce
1 – tsp. salt
1 – 2 tsp. fish sauce (optional)
cilantro

Directions:

Cut the red onion, red bell pepper, and crimini mushrooms into thin slices. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger using a microplane. Next, slice half of a jalapeño pepper into thin rings, and the carrot into thin rounds.

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and simmer about 5 minutes until they become translucent.

Next add the red curry paste and stir well until it dissolves into the liquid, then add the red bell peppers, mushrooms, jalapeño, and carrots to the pot.

Now add the coconut milk, lime juice, and lime zest.

Mix well and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Once the curry is ready, add the salt and honey. Stir well, then add the tofu, and about two tablespoons of chopped cilantro.

Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.




Tofu Reuben Sandwich with Broccoli Slaw

Tofu Reuben, Broccoli, Slaw

A classic Reuben sandwich is made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. It is one of my all time favorites; however, I avoid eating it because I try to eat healthier. One day I was having lunch in a local cafe and noticed on the menu a Tofu Reuben sandwich. I had to try it. I am always looking for new ways to make tofu, so I was delighted to find that this sandwich was very satisfying. Just substituting the corned beef with the tofu turned a very decadent sandwich into a healthy, delicious one.

So I am making for you today my own version of a Tofu Reuben Sandwich. This is a great vegetarian sandwich that is hearty and satisfying. I enhanced the tofu with the warm spices of cumin and paprika, then grilled it lightly before adding it to the sandwich. Then I elevated the flavors with a homemade thousand island dressing.

Let’s start with the dressing. . .

Thousand Island Dressing

You can buy a bottled dressing, but I prefer to make my own. The recipe for homemade Thousand Island Dressing is very easy to make, and the flavor is fresh and delicious.

Ingredients:
1/2 – cup low fat mayonnaise
2 – tbls. sweet relish
2 – tbls. ketchup
2 tsp. finely diced red onion
1/2 – clove garlic finely minced
1 – tsp. white vinegar
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
1/4 – tsp. Sriracha hot sauce ( or more if you desire)

Directions:
Finely dice the red onion, and mince one-half clove of garlic.  Add all the ingredients to a medium sized bowl and mix well.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use .

Broccoli Slaw

I also served the sandwich with a broccoli slaw salad.  You can find the broccoli slaw in most grocery stores.  Broccoli is a nice variation to coleslaw.  I add a little extra red cabbage and red onion to the store bought mix to enhance the flavors.  Instead of a mayonnaise based dressing, I made a honey mustard vinaigrette. It is the perfect balance of sweet and sour.

Ingredients:
12 oz – pkg. broccoli slaw
1 cup – thinly sliced red cabbage
2 tbls. – olive oil
2 tbls. – apple cider vinegar
1/8 tsp. – cayenne pepper
1 tsp. – Dijon mustard
Dash ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. – salt
1 tbls. – honey
1/2 clove – finely minced garlic
1/3 cup – diced red onion

Directions:
Thinly slice the red cabbage, and dice the onion.  Add the broccoli slaw, red cabbage and onion in a large bowl, and set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, minced garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Whisk until it emulsifies.  Pour over the slaw mixture and mix well.  Place in refrigerator for one hour before serving.

Now for the star of the meal . . .

Tofu Reuben Sandwich

Ingredients:
16 oz. – Extra Firm Tofu
16 oz. – bag of Sauerkraut, drained
1/2 – lb. Swiss cheese
1 – loaf sour dough bread
Salt
Ground black pepper
Cumin
paprika
Adobo seasoning

Directions:
Drain the tofu and use paper towel to soak up the excess water. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch thick pieces. Sprinkle both sides with salt, black pepper, and the Adobo seasoning to taste. Remember there is salt in the Adobo, so use it sparingly. Moderately sprinkle both sides with cumin and paprika.

Heat a little canola on a cast iron grill or pan. Cook until lightly browned on each side, about 3 minutes.

Assemble the sandwich. . .

Spread thousand island dressing on both slices of bread; top each slice with Swiss cheese. Place two slices of the grilled tofu on one slice and top off with sauerkraut.

Top off with sauerkraut

Add a little butter to the grill pan. Once it is melted add the sandwich and grill on both sides until golden brown. Add more butter as needed.

Serve immediately and Enjoy!

Makes 4 sandwiches.




Rice and Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant, Rice, Vegetables, Vegan

This vegan stuffed eggplant recipe is delicious and nutritious. My mother’s stuffed eggplant is the model for this vegan version.  Her eggplant was stuffed with ground beef, rice, and  tomatoes, similar to a stuffed cabbage filling. She made it only once or twice a year, so it was a welcome treat. Today, however, I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version based on my mother’s original recipe. I used fresh ingredients that I had available, and I am very pleased with the result.  You’ll find that the stuffing is moist, hearty, delicious, and most importantly satisfying.

Ingredients:

1/2 – cup jasmine rice
1 – carrots
1 – stalks celery
1/2 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
Pinch of pepper flake
3 – cups vegetable stock
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. pepper
1 – cup grape tomatoes halved
4 – basil leaves
2 – tbls. parsley
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

First, put the rice on to cook.  Add one cup vegetable broth to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce the flame to a simmer.  Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes.  Stir often and check that the broth does not dry up to quickly.  Cook until the broth is absorbed.  Test the rice to see if it is cooked, but do not overcook.

Next, wash the eggplant and cut it in half, then remove some of the meat of the eggplant to make a well to hold the stuffing.

Set the portion you remove aside, as it will be added to the stuffing.

Make the soffritto using a food processor. Add carrot, onion, and celery and pulse until finely chopped. 

In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Sauté about 3 minutes until the garlic starts to soften.  While the garlic is sautéing, chop the pieces of eggplant that you removed and add to the skillet. 

Stir and cook about 2 minutes, then add the soffritto.

Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper to the soffritto, mix, and cook about 2 minutes.  Now add 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir often so it does not stick to the pan.

Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soffritto along with the grape tomatoes.

Stir to incorporate them and cook another 3 minutes.  

Next add the herbs and chopped walnuts, stir to incorporate them.

Now add the cooked rice and a about 1/2 cup vegetable broth.  Stir and taste to see if it needs more salt.  

Assemble and Bake

Place the eggplant in a baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant, then fill each half with the stuffing.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over the stuffing and some on the bottom of the baking pan.

Place in a preheated 350° and cook about 15 minutes.  Add about 1 cup of hot vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan and return to the oven.

Cook about one hour until the eggplant is tender and the top of the stuffing starts to brown.  Use the broth in the bottom of the pan to baste the eggplant before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Buon appetito!




Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad, Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Basil

Caprese Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4-5

Caprese salad is made with only four main ingredients, so it is important that you use the best ingredients possible.  I like to use mozzarella di bufala (mozzarella made with buffalo milk). You can find an imported Italian brand in most warehouse clubs. Otherwise buy the best fresh mozzarella you can find from an Italian cheese store. I have been craving this salad since my recent trip to Italy. I went with my sister, niece and cousins. We had a great trip, but the one thing that my niece, Jasmine, had to have every day was Insalata Caprese. We visited Capri where this salad originates. The tomatoes were at their peak, and the mozzarella di bufala was the best we ever had. So, with this traditional Caprese recipe, I am reliving my trip to Italy.

Ingredients:
1 – lb. ripe Campari or vine ripened tomatoes
10 – oz. mozzarella di bufala
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 – fresh basil leaves
1/4 – tsp. dried oregano
Salt

Directions:
Slice tomatoes in 1/4 inch thick slices. Arrange them on a plate in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and oregano, then drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the tomatoes.

Campari tomatoes

Slice the mozzarella in 1/4 inch thick slices, and arrange them on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with a little salt and a pinch of oregano. Taste the mozzarella before you add salt to determine how much is needed. Drizzle a little olive oil over the cheese and top with pieces of basil. Tear the basil with your hands; do not cut it with a knife.

Tomatoes, mozzarella, basil

Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!
Caprese, Salad, Tomatoes, Mozzarella




Farro and Tuna Salad

Farro, Tuna, Tomatoes, Capers

Farro and Tuna Salad
This is a great any time meal that is healthy, hearty, and delicious. This recipe is easy to make and packs a lot of nutrition. Farro is my favorite whole grain. It has a nutty flavor with a nice bite to it. Not only is it delicious, but it is also high in fiber and protein and is a good source of vitamins and minerals.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 cup farro
6 oz. can Italian tuna in olive oil
1/3 cup diced shallot
1/3 cup diced celery
1 cup grape tomatoes
1 tbls. capers
1 tsp. fresh thyme
2 tbls. fresh parsley
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. oregano
salt
ground black pepper

Directions:

Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add 2 teaspoons of salt, and cook the farro according to package directions. Do not over cook. It should be al dente. In the meantime, dice the shallot, celery and set aside. Chop the parsley and thyme, and slice the tomatoes in half.

When the farro is ready, drain it and place it in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and set aside to cool for about 15-20 minutes.

When the farro is cooled, add the rest of the ingredients and another 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix well. Taste it to see if it needs salt. Add salt and black pepper to taste.

Buon appetito!

Farro, Tuna, Salad, Capers, Tomatoes




Italian Potato Salad

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When I was growing up my mother would make Italian Potato Salad during the summer months. This potato salad is lighter and healthier than traditional potato salad with mayonnaise, and you don’t have to worry about the mayo going bad in the heat.

This dish reminds me of July 4th celebrations during my childhood. I grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. The town was built around a steel mill that extended the length of the town, which is about 1 1/2 miles long. We lived on the Main Street of town, and on July 4th the parade was held there. People came from all over Beaver Valley and even from parts of Ohio to watch the parade. Everyone lined up along the Main Street to watch as the floats and marching bands went by, and the children waited anxiously to grab the candy and treats that were thrown into the crowd by the fire trucks.

Our prime location for the parade route turned our house into the place to be. Family and friends came from all over to celebrate the holiday with us. Mom put on a big spread and the celebration lasted from morning until after the fireworks that night. It was a special day.

Make your celebration special, and try this recipe.

Ingredients:
28 – oz. baby red potatoes
1 – cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper
1/3 – cup diced red onion
1 – cup grape tomatoes
1 – tsp. chopped fresh lemon thyme
1 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
1/3 – cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 – cup red wine vinegar
4 – fresh basil leaves
1/2 – tsp. dried oregano
1/2 – tsp. garlic powder

Directions:
Clean the potatoes in cold water. Bring a pot of water to a boil then add 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the potatoes and boil them whole for about 10 minutes until they are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and let cool until you can handle them.

Dice the onion, slice the tomatoes in half, and cut the pepper into thin slices. Add the vegetables to a large bowl.

 

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, oregano, and thyme.

Now slice the potatoes in half or in quarters if they are a little bigger.  Add the potatoes to the bowl with the vegetables. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and mix well.  Roughly chop the basil leaves and toss in to the potato salad.

Let stand about one hour before serving.
For the best flavor serve at room temperature.

Buon appetito!




Guacamole

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Guacamole, Avocado

Guacamole is not only for dipping chips, but it is also great as a condiment for tacos, sandwiches, or any Mexican dish. This is also a great summer time food. It goes perfectly at any barbecue or picnic. Add jalapeño peppers if you like a little heat.

Avocados are very nutritious. They are full of vitamins and minerals such as potassium, folate, vitamin K, vitamin C, and more.  Although avocados are high in fat, they are a good source of the heart healthy monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid.  So you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating something so delicious…enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 – avocados
1 – medium ripe tomato
1/4 – cup diced red onion
1 – lime
1/4 – cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 – tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste
Tortilla chips for dipping

Directions:
I use a mortar and pestle to mix the guacamole, but if you do not have one you can use any bowl and a fork to mix the ingredients.

Using a knife, slice the avocado in half, length wise. Hold the fruit with both hands and twist until the two halves separate. To remove the pit, whack it carefully with the knife until it sticks into the pit. Hold the avocado firmly in your hand and twist the knife with the other hand. The pit will lift out easily.

Scoop out the avocado from both halves with a spoon and place it into the mortar or bowl. Add the salt and black pepper. Using the pestle or a fork, mash the avocado to the consistency you prefer. You can make it smooth or a little chunky. I prefer it a little chunky.

Now add the diced onion and tomatoes and chopped cilantro. Squeeze the juice of the lime over top and mix through the avocado.

Remove the guacamole from the mortar and place into a bowl or container. Cover completely with plastic wrap, placing it against the surface of the guacamole in order to keep out the air. Let it set about one hour to allow the flavors to come together before serving. Serve at room temperature for the best flavor with your favorite tortilla chips.

Enjoy!


 




Grilled Zucchine and Tomato with Mozzarella and Basil

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Zucchini and tomatoes are two of my favorite things, and summer time is when they are at their best. This is a light meal that is perfect for a hot summer day. It is healthy, delicious and easy to make. It can be used as a main dish, appetizer or side dish.

Ingredients:
2 – large zucchini
2 – ripe tomatoes
1 – ball of fresh mozzarella
10 – basil leaves
Salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Herbs de Provence
Garlic Powder
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:
Slice the ends off the zucchini then slice it in half across the middle.


Cut a thin slice of the skin from two sides of the zucchini length wise. Then cut thick long slices, about 1/4″ in thickness. Next cut thick round tomato slices.

Lay out the zucchini and tomatoes and drizzle a little olive oil over each of them. Then sprinkle each slice with a little salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and Herbs de Provence to taste.

In the meantime, heat the stove top grill and coat it with non-stick cooking spray. When the grill is hot, place each slice of the zucchini and tomatoes on the grill, seasoned side down. While the vegetables are cooking, drizzle the other side with a little olive oil and the seasonings.

Cook the tomato slices about 3 minutes on a medium-high flame before turning over. Do not over cook them or they will fall apart. The zucchini will take longer, about 4-5 minutes, until tender. When ready turn them over and cook the other side in the same manner.

Since the tomatoes cook sooner, you can place them on top of the cooked side of the zucchini to prevent them from over cooking, while the zucchini finishes cooking.

When the zucchini is almost done, place a slice of mozzarella cheese on top of each stack of zucchine and tomato, then place a lid on top to melt the cheese.

Remove each stack from the grill and place a basil leave on top of each one.

Serve immediately

Note:  A little drizzle of a balsamic reduction works very well with this.




Quinoa and Baby Kale Salad

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Kale, Quinoa, Avocado, Salad

It is not always easy to eat healthy, especially with our busy schedules. Luckily for us, there are several ancient grains, including quinoa that have become popular over the last several years that offer us great health benefits. Quinoa is considered a super food because it is packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, and it is also gluten free. It is one of the most versatile ancient grains. It can be used in both hot and cold recipes such as, pancakes, cookies, stuffing, meatballs, and salads.

The nutty flavor of the quinoa is a delicious and hearty addition to this simple salad. I used baby kale, but you can use spinach, arugula, or mixed greens if you prefer.

Ingredients for Dressing:
4 – tbls. olive oil
2 – tbls. orange juice
2 – tbls. red wine vinegar
1/4 – tsp. cumin
1 – tsp. honey
1/2 – tsp. salt
1/8 – tsp, ground black pepper

Ingredients for Salad:
3/4 – cup quinoa
1 – can black beans
1/2 – cup red bell pepper
1/3 – cup red onion diced
5 – oz. baby kale
1/3 – cup walnuts
1 – avocado
Feta cheese

Directions:
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Be sure to add salt to the water.

While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing by whisking together all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Next prepare the rest of the ingredients. Drain and rinse the black beans and place them in a large bowl. Dice the red onion and pepper, and rough chop the walnuts. Add them to the beans.

When the quinoa is ready, drain it thoroughly and add it to the bean mixture. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and mix thoroughly. Next add the kale and mix. Top off with slices of avocado and feta cheese. Serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

 




Potato Pancakes

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Potato pancakes were not something I grew up eating; needless to say, they were not something that my Italian mother made.  As a matter of fact, the first potato pancakes that I ate were made by my mother-in-law.  I liked them so much that I made sure to learn how to make them.  The pancakes are made of basic ingredients, but they are packed full of flavor.

Potato Pancakes make a great side dish.  They go well with pork chops, kielbasa, or chicken.  They also make a great appetizer or work very well as a vegetarian main dish.  I like to serve them with apple sauce and sour cream. The combination of the savory sour cream and sweetness of the apple sauce enhance the flavor of the pancakes.  You can get creative and use any condiments or sauces that you prefer.

Ingredients:
2 – large russet potatoes
1 – heaping tbls. flour
1 – egg
1 – level tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. ground black pepper
Apple sauce
Sour cream
Canola oil for cooking

Directions:
Peel the potatoes and place in a bowl of cold water until you are ready. Peel and quarter a small onion. Attach the medium shredding disc to your food processor (you can also you a block grater). Quarter the potatoes and grate them in the food processor.

Next grate the onion directly into the grated potatoes.

Empty the potato and onion mixture into a large bowl. Whisk the egg in a small bowl and add it to the potatoes along with the rest of the ingredients: flour, salt, and black pepper.

Mix well.

Heat a little canola oil in the bottom of a large iron skillet. Add a large spoonful of the potato mixture to the skillet and spread out with the back of the spoon.

You can make them any size you like, but I generally make them about 3″ in diameter. Cook on a medium-low flame until golden brown, then flip onto the other side and do the same.

Do not be in a rush. Let them cook through slowly. Place on paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil.

Serve immediately with sour cream and apple sauce.

Makes 9-10 pancakes.
Servings 3-4