Tag Archives: Romaine

Comfort food salad: Pasta, tomato, corn, and avocado salad with vegan creamy garlic dressing

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Some signs you are not woman enough for the TV series you are currently watching:

  1. Counting down episodes in the same manner one counts down miles in a marathon (“16 down, 10 more to go – you can do this!”)
  2. “Ok, let’s get this over with”, said with a hearty neck roll and shoulder shrug, translates to: time to watch the next episode.
  3. Pausing the show regularly to take deep breaths with your head in your hands, and let your heart rate fall out of the heart-attack zone.
  4. Monitoring the time elapsed on the DVD player and breathing a sigh of relief when you realize there are only a few minutes left. What could possibly happen in 5 minutes?
  5. Any neighbor looking in your windows would assume you actually had a good reason to celebrate given the number of high fives exchanged in celebration of reaching the end of an episode without a brain aneurysm.

In case you are wondering, it’s Breaking Bad. And I have a problem in which I internalize the plight of characters.

***Speaking of getting out of your comfort zone, I need to give a huge shout out to my friend and hero Maureen, who recently quit her day job to pursue her passion full-time. Maureen is an amazing Pilates instructor and wellness coach, which all of Chicago now knows since she was on NBC 5 news!!! Check out her segment, and hit a girl up if you are looking to make a change to your health and wellness. Trust me, peeps: girl knows her fitness, and she’s not the kind of person who is going to send you off with a prescription for protein powder and egg whites at every meal. She’s all about holistic health and wellness. Plus, I just love Maureen more than margaritas.****

We’re talking a lot about comfort here, so let me introduce my comfort food salad. Kind of an oxymoron, I know, but I’ll explain. When I worked overseas, on my first day of work a coworker took me to a salad shop where I learned my first Swedish word: pastasallad. Yes, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a green salad with pasta on it. Naturally, I ordered this for lunch for the next 4 weeks since it was one of 3 words I knew. Picture me strolling the city streets exclaiming “Hej” (hi), “Tak!” (thank you), and “pastasallad!”. I was popular.

Comfort food salad: Pasta, corn, & tomato salad with vegan creamy garlic dressing, serves 2
-1 head romaine
-1 cup dry pasta (I used shells, but any kind will work)
-1 ear corn
-1 cucumber
-1/2 avocado
-1 cup cherry tomatoes
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Let’s do this:

Start by making your pasta according to the package directions. Once it’s done, let it cool down a bit.

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While pasta is cooking, cut up your other salad toppings. I stand my raw corn on one of the long ends in a bowl and use a knife to remove the kernels (you can also cook the corn if you prefer, but I like the crunch of raw). Cut up your tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, and cut the romaine into bite-size pieces.
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When pasta is cooled, add the romaine, then pasta, and remaining ingredients. Top with your favorite dressing – I like a creamy garlic (4th Swedish word learned: vitlok) with this salad.
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Vegan Creamy Garlic Dressing, Adapted from the Chicago Diner recipe found here, makes about 1 1/2 cups
-4 garlic cloves
-1 t olive oil
-salt & pepper to taste
-2 t lemon juice
-1 cup dairy-free milk (I used flax milk, but any unsweetened milk, like soy or almond, will work)
-2/3 cup Vegenaise (any mayo will work, but may not be vegan, if you care)
-2 T fresh parsley
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Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover your garlic cloves in a 1 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
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Bake for about 12-15 minutes, or until cloves are golden brown.
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Combine the milk and lemon juice and stir. Let sit for about 2 minutes. Milk will get a little lumpy, but that is ok – this makes a vegan “buttermilk”. If you prefer, substitute 1 cup buttermilk for the lemon/milk combination.

When the garlic is done, transfer the milk/lemon juice mixture and the garlic into a blender and process until garlic is smooth. Pour into a large bowl and stir in the Vegenaise, parsley, and more salt & pepper to taste.

Off to bite the last of my nails off – finishing season 4 of Breaking Bad!!!

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Weekend BBQ, DR-style

Continuing on with my boycott of the stove, I now present you a weekend BBQ menu. This menu makes for an especially fun and relaxed weekend party since you can a few things in advance and just relax until you are ready to eat. Super easy + tasty = DR style. You’ll have plenty of time to go shopping for a new outfit.

Here’s our menu:
Summer Shandys (Fill a glass with 2/3 Pacifico, 1/3 San Pellegrino Limonata)
Black bean & quinoa burgers
Grilled romaine salad
Grilled peaches & vanilla ice cream

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First thing’s first. I made the burgers in advance and kept them in the fridge for a few hours:

Home-made black bean and quinoa burger,
makes about 6 burgers
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can black beans
1 1/2 cups mushrooms
1 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup nuts or seeds (I used pepitas, but you can use sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, whatever your heart desires)
1 ear corn
2 carrots (I had a bunch of little ones from the farmers market)
1 egg
1/2 t cumin
1/4 t cayenne (omit if you don’t like your food spicy)
2 cloves garlic
bread or buns
optional toppings: cheese, avocado, pico de gallo

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Let’s do this:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions (mine is 1 cup water to 1/2 cup quinoa). Meanwhile, shuck your corn and roughly chop your carrots.
In your food processor, process the garlic until minced. Then I added the ingredients in the following order, processing about 10-20 seconds after each addition:
-seeds or nuts
-carrots
-mushrooms
-cumin and cayanne
-half of the corn, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, and half of the black beans (save the other halves!)
-egg
-half of the quinoa

Looks like this:
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Now combine the remaining black beans, quinoa, and corn in a bowl, and add the food processor mixture:
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Form patties and add breadcrumbs as necessary. I ended up adding the entire 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs since the burgers were a little wet. To ensure the burgers didn’t fall apart I grilled them on our grill pan for about 6-7 minutes per side.
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Toast your bread/buns and serve with cheese, avocado, and pico de gallo!

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Grilled Romaine Salad, serves 4
1 large head romaine lettuce
dressing (I poached this one from Cooking Light and made it in advance)

Let’s do this:
Cut the romaine in half lengthwise:
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Spray or brush both sides with olive oil and place cut side down on the grill for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from grill and cut each half again lengthwise. Serve with dressing.

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Grilled peaches & ice cream dessert, serves 4
4 large peaches
Vanilla ice cream (I used So Delicous Coconut Milk ice cream. If you haven’t tried this, its a must!)

Let’s do this:
Cut your peaches in half and remove the pits.
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Lay them cut side down on a hot grill for about 3-4 minutes. Flip them over and cook for 1-2 minutes. Serve with a scoop of ice cream:
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