Tofu Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Daikon

Nothing says summer more than street food and beer – but it’s even better when you can make it at home! I was looking for a reason to use the fresh basil, mint and cucumbers picked from our neighbors Dory and Andy’s garden who thankfully have quite the green thumb and are so generous with the neighborhood kids tramping through their carefully tended vegetables and raspberry bushes.

This tofu and veggie Banh Mi with pickled daikon and carrots is fresh, bright and crunchy with a hint of spice and is totally crave-able. Sadly, it doesn’t compare to the outstanding lemongrass tofu Banh Mi we used to buy at Nhu Lan Bakery in Chicago but hey it definitely hit the spot. I also experimented with adding the same ingredients to lower calorie Vietnamese rice paper wraps which was also a big hit.

Ingredients

  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and sliced
  • 1 English cucumber, julienned
  • 1 tofu block of your choice (I would recommend Trader Joe’s baked sriracha tofu)
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 bunch free Thai basil
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • French bread roll or Vietnamese bread roll, both toasted slightly in oven or toaster oven until crunchy
  • 2 TB mayonnaise (vegan or regular)
  • 1 TB sriracha
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

Pickled Daikon and Carrots

  • 2 carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1 medium daikon, peeled and julienned
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Bring the pickle mixture to a boil in medium sauce pot, then sit and let cool. Pour over carrots and daikon in a mason jar or glass Tupperware container, then seal and let marinate at least 1 hour in fridge but up to 12 hours overnight is ideal. To make sriracha mayo just combine mayo, sriracha and lime juice in small bowl. If you want it thicker to smear on bread base just leave out lime juice and squeeze on top of sandwich once assembled instead. Assemble sandwich with all ingredients and gulp down with beer!

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Lemony Bulgur Tabouleh

Ok. I admit it. I googled what Jennifer Aniston eats. Turns out she’s a fan of salads, no surprise there!

Apparently her favorite go-to salad is a crisp cucumber, bulgur, chickpea salad with fresh mint and parsley. Bulgur is actually a great grain to add to your diet as it’s in rich in vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, iron and other vital minerals as well as making it a solid plant-based protein. Bulgur is also a low glycemic food with fewer calories yet twice the fiber of rice – about 25% of your daily needs in one cup. And seriously it is THE quickest and easiest grain to prepare; just add 1.5 cups hot water to 1 cup of bulgur and let it sit in a bowl for 10 minutes then fluff it with a fork!

For this lemony tabouleh I omitted the feta and pistachios that are featured in The Jennifer Salad but I will try that next time for some crunch. I opted for medium grain bulgur but you can also try coarse grain or fine grain depending on your palette. Just combine all ingredients once the bulgur is cooled. I paired this with kalamata olives, tomatoes and whole wheat pita pocket which was great after a summer’s July 4th bike ride and day outside. Remember – don’t skimp on the fresh herbs!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked bulgur
  • 1 cucumber, skinned and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 – 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mediterranean Fennel Barley Soup

One of my all-time favorite ingredients are lemons. It’s such a versatile citrus packed with vitamin C and adds a distinct tartness to any roasted vegetable. It’s also become my go-to for soup broths that are laden with heavy grains or beans. The lemon juice complements the soft creamy fennel, earthy fire roasted tomatoes and hearty barley in this stew so nicely along with a sprinkle of salty Parmesan on top!

This original recipe came from Eating Well but I switched the white beans to chickpeas and added the lemon juice which really brightened it up. This ones in my fridge for the entire week and only cost about $20 (I doubled the recipe).

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking barley
  • 1 5-ounce package baby spinach (6 cups)
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel, garlic, and basil; cook, stirring frequently, until tender and just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, tomatoes, broth and barley into the pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice then add spinach and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat. Serve and top with Parmesan cheese.

A little summer stroll…

Enjoying a rare date night dance at friend Tom and Haeley’s wedding… whiskey in hand

Totally Awesome Asian Swiss Chard Salad

I love any salad that can be tossed with a cold cup of pasta for a hearty, fresh and easy meal either on-the-go or at home with kids. This Asian Swiss Chard salad recipe relies only on your basic knife skills and a quick assembly time, making it a versatile and vitamin-packed addition to your typical work lunch repertoire. The Brianna’s Home Style Ginger Mandarin dressing was on sale for $2.99 this week and is going to a fridge staple in our house as it packs a punch with its zingy creamy gingery flavor. This dish has potential for a great vegan Buddha bowl and can be combined with other key ingredients like avocado, sesame seeds, or nuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup broccoli cole slaw
  • 1 cucumber, peeled seeded and sliced into half moons
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1 yellow pepper, julienned
  • 1 bunch rainbow Chard, stemmed and roughly diced
  • 2 cups edamame
  • Chilled cooked pasta

Cold Peanut Noodle Salad

 
With Labor Day just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to prepare one final cold pasta salad before bidding farewell to summer. This fresh Asian salad uses good old spaghetti, roughly chopped cool Napa cabbage, crunchy shredded carrots and whole edamame for a family-friendly feast. It’s tossed in a velvety smooth salty peanut butter dressing and is dreamy for a picnic or in the fridge as leftovers. It’s also easily adaptable if you want to throw in fresh peanuts, diced apples, cucumber, peppers or other favorite ingredients. The secret is the amazing peanut sauce, which you could also use as a nice tofu marinade. I like to have some spicy garlic chili sauce on hand to throw on top. So simple!
COLD PEANUT NOODLE SALAD
1 lb spaghetti, cooked and drained
1/2 head Napa cabbage, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded carrots 
1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
1 red pepper, seeded and julienned
1/2 cup cilantro, diced 

PEANUT DRESSING
1 cup creamy peanut butter 
1/2 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup warm water
3 Tbs ginger, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
1 Tbs toasted sesame oil
1 Tbs honey
3 Tbs rice wine vinegar 

In a small mixing bowl combine all ingredients for peanut sauce and briskly whisk with fork for 2-3 minutes until it is a smooth, consistent texture. In large serving bowl combine cooked spaghetti with fresh salad ingredients, then toss in peanut sauce and thoroughly combine using tongs. Serve fresh!
  

Rustic Provençal Vegetable Stew

 This simple stew draws on the characteristic flavors of Provence: tomatoes, basil, olives, olive oil, and garlic. An inexpensive meat variation was traditionally prepared by French peasants in an earthenware casserole dating back centuries ago, but it’s delicate, easily adaptable flavors have remained popular today. This hearty stew pairs well with some grilled bread or can be poured over your choice of pasta. It works very well with almost any vegetable, making it a popular vegan dish in my house!
RUSTIC PROVENCIAL VEGETABLE STEW
4 Tbs extra virgin olive oil 
4 garlic cloves, diced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 Tbs 
1 large red onion, sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced
1 lb vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly diced
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
2/3 cup pitted nicoise olives
2 Tbs parsley
Salt and pepper to taste
Hear the olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion, garlic, coriander, and thyme and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the fennel and pepper and cook an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes, olives, vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 30 minutes. Top with fresh parsley and serve warm! 

Baked Falafel

This week my son Asher graduated from preschool and turned 5. FIVE YEARS OLD! When did my baby boy become this independent, spirited, young adult?! As is a typical habit if mine when life becomes complicated, I turn to the kitchen…

I have been craving a healthy, homemade falafel and this little dish did not let me down. The coriander and lemon juice add a nice kick to the freshness of the puréed onion and parsley, and balances nicely with a cool tzatziki sauce or tossed cucumber and tomato salad. It is very simple to prepare and holds up surprisingly well as a baked version of this typically fried food.
  
BAKED FALAFEL
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained 
1 onion, chopped 
1/2 cup fresh parsley 
2 cloves garlic, chopped 
1 egg
2 teaspoons ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground coriander 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 dash pepper 
1 pinch cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty; don’t use a blender, as the consistency will be too thin. In a blender, process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Stir into mashed chickpeas. Add egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder and stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will hold together; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. Form 10 balls (I doubled the recipe and made smaller bites in the photo above) and then flatten into patties. Evenly space on baking sheet and bake each side for 10 minutes. Then broil each side for 2 minutes.