Monthly Archives: February 2015

Roasted Beets with Toasted Walnuts and Dill Vinaigrette

IMG_3979I’ve been cooking up a lot of warm and cozy comfort food at work lately and popular every winter with clients are root vegetables of all kinds. Today I made this easy, versatile beet side dish. It’s super flavorful and would be good with different menus year-round. Try it with warm, freshly roasted beets or room temp at a BBQ in the summer.

Ingredients:
• 4 large beets, about 1 pound
• 1/2 to 1 c. walnuts, chopped
• 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
• 2 tsp. lemon juice
• 1 medium shallot, minced
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
• 6 Tbsp. olive oil
• salt and pepper
• gloves, unless you want purple hands for the next few hours

1. First order of business is roasting your beets. Preheat the oven to 400. I roast them this way all the time — to put on salads, to eat plain or with a little lemon juice and salt and pepper and for other recipes. Rinse beets. Cut off tops and tails and wrap individually in foil. If the beets are really large (bigger than a baseball) I usually cut them in half and wrap each half in foil.

Place a sheet of foil on the middle oven rack. As the beets roast, they will leak juice (especially if they are cut in half).  Do yourself a favor with the foil — nobody wants to spend the night scrubbing burnt beet juice from the bottom of the oven.

Arrange beets on foil and roast for 1 hour. Leave wrapped when they come out of the oven. I usually leave them until I’m ready to wrap up everything else that I’m cooking (so they might sit there on the counter for another hour sometimes). More on that later.

2. Place walnuts in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they become fragrant (about 4 minutes).

3. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, shallot, dill and oil together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Time to get back to the beets. By the time you unwrap them when you’re ready to put things together the peel will usually slide right off. If they don’t, grab your trusty vegetable peeler. Slice or dice or rough chop them — what you feel like. I often go for 1-inch cubes.

5. Toss dressing, beets and walnuts together in a medium bowl and dig in!

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Vegan Chocolate Pudding Pie

IMG_3668I have made this pie three times in the last couple of weeks and it has been universally loved by everyone from vegans to meat-eaters. Full disclosure: I actually don’t like chocolate. I know, I know. But even I had a small slice that I enjoyed. I won’t be revisiting chocolate again soon, probably, but I see the appeal… 🙂

This recipe is really, really fast and easy (especially if you buy a store-bought crust). Once you buy the ingredients the first time, you should have enough on hand (except for almond milk) to make several pies. I got the recipe from the lovely ladies at The Post Punk Kitchen, to whom I first turned when I started eating vegetarian about a decade ago.

This is the perfect thing to make this weekend if you want a little homemade something special for your valentine. And, really, it’s mostly almond milk — it’s practically health food! Since my Valentine has had this quite a bit in the last couple of weeks, tonight I’ll be dipping back into the archives and making what I made last year for V-Day — vegan coconut cream pie.

I took the photos the first time I made it and didn’t have any whipped cream or berries or anything on hand. It got good reviews on another night topped with strawberries.

Enjoy!

Ingredients
•  1 9-inch cookie crust, store-bought or homemade (instructions below)
• 3 c. almond milk, divided
• 1/4 c. cornstarch
• 1/3 c. sugar
• 3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
• pinch salt
• 3 Tbsp. dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool. Though they don’t always have the best ingredients, it turns out store-bought crusts happen to be vegan. I’ve used a chocolate cookie crust and a graham cracker crust, as well as made my own crust. You can use any type of cookie you like. (Side note: Did you know Oreos are vegan?)

To make your own crust, use 1 3/4 c. cookie crumbs, add 4 Tbsp. oil or melted vegan butter (my preferred is Earth Balance), 3 Tbsp. sugar and 1+ almond (or other non-dairy) milk until it’s just moist enough to press into the pie plate. Pop into the oven for the 10 minutes and proceed with the recipe!

2. In a small (2-quart) saucepan, combine 1 c. almond milk with cornstarch and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved — it doesn’t take long. Whisk in remaining milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. It’s OK if it’s a little clumpy at first. It will all work out eventually. At first it will have the color of chocolate milk.

3. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking occasionally. Keep a close eye because once boiling you want to lower it to a slow rolling boil. If you have an electric stove, you may want to switch it to another burner you have on low or lift it off the burner for a minute as it cools so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. Whisk consistently until the mixture is thickened and pudding like, 7 to 10 minutes.

IMG_3644_24. By the end it should be a darker, classic chocolate pudding shade of brown. Add chocolate chips and whisk to melt. Stir in vanilla. Pour the pudding into the pie shell and let cool for about 15 minutes on the counter, until it stops steaming like crazy.

5. To keep a skin from forming, place a circle of parchment paper over the filling. (I do this by inverting the pie plate before I start, or using the lid to the store-bought crust and tracing, then cutting). Refrigerate and let set for at least 3 hours. If you don’t have quite that much time, use a bigger pie plate/crust and it won’t be as thick and should set up a little faster.