Five vegan dishes to help you celebrate asparagus season! »
"You see, Rodya, to my thinking, the great thing for getting on in the world is always to keep to the seasons; if you don’t insist on having asparagus in January, you keep your money in your purse."
-Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment
Like any normal person, I didn’t like asparagus as a child. But in my old age, I’m a big fan! And not only is it yummy, it’s a good source of calcium, iron, riboflavin, potassium, dietary fiber, protein, and vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6. Yowza! I hear it’s also high in antioxidants. You go, asparagus!
So I’m sure you can imagine my excitement when I got to the Carroll Gardens Green Market yesterday and saw bunches of asparagus at my favorite farm stand! It’s asparagus season again! Huzzah! I got me a nice little bunch.
Once I got it home, I boiled it quick-like and dipped it in some Just Mayo and I called it a day. But I want to make something super cool next week! So I looked up some recipes and thought I’d share them with you guys.
Well look at this! SO PRETTY. It’s an asparagus and beetroot tartlet from Flavour Photos! And according to the blog, asparagus season (in the UK) starts on Shakespeare’s bday! How lovely.
Next, for something super hearty, we have a lovely asparagus portobello risotto from our favorite food genius Vegan Yack Attack!
Here we have kale, asparagus, and chickpea pesto from Munchin with Munchkin. I could eat this maybe every day? I accept that challenge!
Finally, if you need any tips picking the best asparagus bunch, our omni BFF Jerry James Stone has made this lovely video for you:
So these are all the recipes I want to try! How about you guys?! Any recommendations for me?
Recipe: Sauteed green beans with mushrooms! »
The springtime holidays are upon us! Did you be make anything special? I made this green bean recipe, slightly modified from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s in Vegan with a Vengeance. This side dish is a huge hit with my family, which is a huge ego boost for me! It’s very exciting to make them dishes that they ask for, because it doesn’t happen often! (Let’s just say no one else in the Bradley clan is a huge tofu, tempeh or seitan fan.) I love this recipe because it’s relatively easy and extremely tasty.
2 Tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion (I use red), roughly chopped
4 to 8 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped*
2 lbs. fresh green beans, washed with stems cut off
3/4 to 1 lb. of cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced
1/4 cup coconut aminos, soy sauce, or Braggs
1/2 cup sherry
1 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. pepper
1/2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
Heat up your oil on medium high, in a pan or pot large enough to hold all of these ingredients! If it has a lid, that would be preferable, but I have been known to stick a baking sheet over my pots as a lid. No judgment here!
Once the oil is heated, add your chopped onion. You should cook them until they’re translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes, but I like to caramelize my onions, which can take up to a half hour or more! Whatever you’ve got time for, right? If they start to cook so fast they burn, turn down your heat.
Once your onions are cooked to your liking, add your garlic and saute about three minutes, or until fragrant. If you haven’t already, turn down your heat to medium and don’t let the garlic brown, as it will become bitter! Add your mushrooms and saute for about 10 to 15 minutes, until they’ve noticeably shrunk in size. Next put in your salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings; let them cook into the mushrooms and garlic for a couple minutes.
Time to add the sherry, soy sauce, and water! Let everything come to a light boil (you may need to increase the heat), then place your green beans into the pot or pan.
Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and let simmer until beans are fork-tender!
*I use a lot of garlic in my dishes, no joke. Whatever a recipe calls for, I usually double or quadruple the amount. I’ve given you a healthy spectrum in this recipe, so you can use at your discretion. Of course I use eight cloves (or more), but the average cook would probably use four.
Hello, Easter dinner! Someone got a fancy vegan dish at Bar Agricole! It had asparagus, spinach, English peas, cauliflower, Tokyo turnips, and nasturtiums, and it was delicious. And later, for dessert, they brought a fruit place with brûléed grapefruit, kumquats, and almonds. We attacked it before I could remember to get my phone out.
Obviously I am biased; my brother works at Bar Agricole, and if I didn’t have nice things to say about it, I would be a pretty terrible sister. Bias aside, they’re all so lovely, and they took such good care of us, and the food is to die. TO DIE. As are the cocktails (if you don’t have a daiquiri you are basically punishing yourself). Spring is a wonderful time for bright green vegetables, and at Agricole, they make their veggies sing.
HELLOOOO NURSE! Stop being so pretty, carrot cake! This Spring Carrot Cake is from Fragrant Vanilla Cake (it’s a blog, not a cake!), and she’s too pretty! Like, I can’t take it.
I never make carrot cake, there’s so many ingredients that I get tired just reading the list of them. In reality, it probably adds like 20 seconds per ingredient but it seems like more! I guess that’s why god invented pumpkin pie spice, right?
Spring is here! Spring is totally here! I know because Farm Fresh to You included a little basket of strawberries in today’s box and oh, they are delectable.
Has spring come to you, yet? How do you know the season’s changed?
Olsen Haus spring ‘12 line! »
Elizabeth Olsen is so talented! Get ready for warm days to show off her latest, gorgeous shoes on your happy feet. These shoes are all about sunny, sandy beaches and dancing and drinks under the moon, and we are all about them. If you are broke and overworked or underemployed, like us, take your feet on vacation and dream about going with them. Of course, all Olsenhaus shoes are vegan!
The rest of these beauties are after the jump, for your viewing convenience.
Guest recipe: A professional chef’s perfect spring meal »
I never used to like salad until I worked at Parc. They paid way more attention to their salads than any vegan place I’ve worked at and you can tell—the dozens of hours I spent learning to cut herbs and shallots cleanly and efficiently, and then the seasoning conferences over a five-gallon bucket of sherry-shallot vinaigrette. Often a sous chef would taste each individual salad for seasoning before sending it out. There are salads on a level beyond that, too.
The crazy thing is that the difference between a sweet/greasy/goopy bowl of lettuce for two people and a great meal in salad form can be some chump change and maybe 10 to 15 minutes’ worth of work. While it is currently green almond season, I haven’t found them growing around Philadelphia, so here is a recipe for a cold spring soup and salad both using last year‘s almond crop and some of this years best baby vegetables:
1 clove garlic
½ lb. blanched almonds (you can either get these pre-blanched or you can do it yourself by putting raw almonds in a pot of boiling water for about two minutes, then putting them in an ice bath and rubbing the skins off.)
2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
½ cup plus one Tbsp. olive oil
1 oz. of rustic bread
½ oz. slivered almonds
2 oz. olives
1/4 oz. shallots
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or just use more lemon juice)
1 bulb baby fennel
2 small radishes
2 baby carrots
1 big crimini mushroom
1 baby beet
1 cup small flavorful greens—arugula, pea shoots, purslane, etc.
8 leaves parsley
½ bunch chives
We start with the soup.
A lot of people are familiar with tomato gazpacho, a cold soup of Spanish origin. Tomatoes have only been in Europe since the 1500s, but Spain is home to another great soup served cold that predates that by a long-shot, sometimes called white gazpacho. This is an almond-based soup, creating creaminess from the delicious fats and proteins found in almonds, as well as from stale bread and olive oil which is added in. While non-dairy milks and creams are common now, they (and their close relatives like this soup) are also common throughout history, all over the world—from Chinese soy milk to Spanish almond cream, and hickory nut milk of the Creek Native Americans. One thing common to all of them is the fresher they are, the better. I’ve taken the basic soup recipe from Jose Andres’ Made in Spain where he makes it with figs and marcona almonds instead of the salad.
- One day before making this soup, cover your almonds with 3 cups of water and let them soak overnight. Starting things a day in advance is something I really like—it’s so un-american. Because I don’t like America [.pdf].
- The next day, bring a small pot of water to a boil and toss in your garlic. Boil for about a minute, then drain and let the garlic cool.
- Put the almonds with their soaking water in a blender with the garlic, sherry vinegar, olive oil and your bread. Puree until smooth, at least two minutes. I find a lot of people think that like 15 seconds in a blender is enough—maybe for your low-fat triple banana goji berry smoothie, but not for most things. Salt to taste—this recipe will take a good deal of salt so start with 2 tsp.
- Pour this through a fine mesh sieve. At first, not much will come through. If you have a chinois you can push the liquid through. If not, instead of pushing (which will push the grainy stuff through as well) tap the side of your strainer with a spatula. The liquid will dribble through. This is the only annoying part of this recipe as it can take a good five minutes of tapping. The result will be worth it.
The vinaigrette (you can make this up to 3 days ahead):
Unlike the soup, you will want this vinaigrette to be chunky, so either use a food processor or mince these things with a knife.
- Spread your slivered almonds on a sheet tray and toast them in the oven at 325 for about six minutes, till golden (you can do this another day in advance, too). Let them cool. Pulse them through a food processor or just crumble them in your hands. Put them in a bowl.
- Drain (and pit if necessary) your olives and put them in the food processor until they are pretty evenly minced, scraping down the sides with a spatula if need be.
- Mince your shallot and juice your lemon.
- Mix the almonds, olives, lemon juice, vinegar (if using), oil and shallots in a bowl. Whisk together. Season with salt and pepper and adjust your oil and lemon juice/vinegar as necessary.
- Using a mandolin, a sharp knife, or a vegetable peeler, shave your fennel, mushroom, radish, and carrot as thin as possible while maintaining evenness.
- Then shave your beet, keeping it separate.
- Pick your parsley leaves. Mix your non-beet vegetable shavings with your parsley and greens and dress with the green olive vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper to taste as you mix.
Ball up one portion of salad (1 medium handful) to place in the center of each bowl try to get some height. Pour ¾ cup of soup into each bowl, around the salad. Place 3 or 4 beet shavings on top of each portion. Mince your chives. Drizzle your soup with olive oil and sprinkle it with chives and coarse sea salt. Serve with toast or, preferably, fresh grilled bread.
Mark Tinkleman is committed to a radically better future for all of humanity. He is a cook by profession, was trained at the Natural Gourmet Institute, and has worked at award-winning vegan and omni restaurants in New York and Philadelphia. He lives with his beautiful partner and their cat in Philadelphia. Go Philly!
It’s spring, let’s make a pie! »
Start with two pounds of cherries that were fresh last week. Realize you have to do something with them, and look up recipes until you find the right one for you. Realize you don’t have enough cherries, and add fresh strawberries until ideal weight is achieved. Wash, stem, and pit cherries. This will take longer than you think, but it won’t be nearly as irritating as you expect, I swear.
Adjust your recipe according to your ingredients and tastes. “But it’s a pie! I’m afraid!” Don’t be; the filling is super-easy and you have leftover crust from your last pie in the freezer, so now all the hard work is over.
I adapted the above-linked recipe and this is roughly what constituted the filling:
2 pounds fresh cherries, and 1/2 pound fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar (could’ve been less, really, the cherries were very sweet)
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 cup lime juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract (there wasn’t any almond)
a dash of whiskey
Stir, cover, and let sit for a few hours. Now you can defrost your pie crust, and clean up your mess. Fun!
Now instead of making one giant pie, maybe you want to make two smaller pies. I did! Unfortunately after rolling out two pie crusts and heaping the tins full of filling—no pre-baking the crust this time—I didn’t have any crust left over for a top. What to do? Make a crisp topping, obviously!
1 cup oats
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup non-dairy butter
cinnamon, to taste
Combine in a bowl until everything is all pebbly. Then sprinkle across the tops of your pies, like so. Very nice!
While you’ve been mixing and sprinkling, your oven has been preheating to 400 F. When it’s ready, pop the pies in, with foil over the tops, but make sure they’re on some kind of tray, because they will probably erupt a bit and you don’t want cherry-strawberry mess all over your oven. I had to bake mine individually because of this. Pro tip: If you re-use a tray that’s already covered in semi-carbonized pie overflow, it’ll bake on so hard it may never come off. Best not to.
After 30 minutes, reduce heat to 350 F and remove the foil from the pie. Bake for another 30 to 45 minutes (mine needed 30), then take out of the oven—mind the spillage on those trays!—and place on a wire rack to cool. See how much overflow there was? Thank goodness I used a tray!
Now, allow to cool for a good long time before devouring. Why? First, because the pie filling is like sweet, delicious lava that will blister ever part of you that it touches. Second, because, like a pudding, it’s still setting. You don’t want to cut it open and have all the filling spill out like some ridiculous fruit-waterfall, right? Of course not. So, wait. Give it a good hour at least.
Finally, slice and eat. Although to be honest, this pie is best served at room temperature at least 12 hours after baking. The flavors need more time to develop, I guess, to get comfortable with each other, so try not to eat it all up that night. Allow their relationship time to grow!
Still, definitely eat a piece when it’s done. You pitted cherries for this!
[pictures by Meave]