One more June Challenge winner before the month ends! This is Danielle’s big plate of heirloom tomatoes! She says
This is me trying heirloom tomatoes (woo, farmer’s markets!). They are not the right color and it was hard for me to make my brain eat them, but they are delicious. They have their own special little flavors! I put them with my lunch of bagel, roasted red pepper hummus, avocado, cucumber, and spinach. Sometimes I’m healthy.
These are gorgeous, Danielle, and that lunch looks delicious. Sometimes trying a new food is a matter of willpower, and we’re proud you were able to trick your brain into letting you enjoy some wonderful produce. Congratulations!
Vegan MoFo: Margherita toast! »
More often than not, my easy vegan recipes come from a random craving that needs immediate satisfaction. Margherita toast is no exception: One autumn afternoon in 2010 I had a serious hankering for pizza—not greasy, drippy, stringy-cheesy pizza, but hearty, rich, and healthy: whole grains, chunky veggies, fresh greens, and tons of flavor. With no vegan pizza options in the vicinity, I rolled up my sleeves, opened my refrigerator door, and decided I’d have to get creative. Margherita Toast was soon born, and has become a simple staple in my household ever since.
Depending on the portion, it can be a snack or a full meal, and the flavors are full and rich enough to satisfy cravings for the not-so-super-healthy pizza varieties. Read on, and drool accordingly!
A couple slices of bread (whole grain is obviously best; sprouted is even better!)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground salt and pepper
Fresh greens (I like arugula, but spinach, mizuna, broccoli rabe, etc. all work too)
vegan cheese alternative (I love Daiya, any flavor)
Fresh or dried Italian spices (basil, rosemary, oregano, etc.)
Get creative! Maybe some olives? Mushrooms? Artichoke hearts?
Preheat oven to 350 F. Place one or two (or more!) slices of bread on a baking sheet or sheet of tinfoil. Spread a spoonful of sauce on the bread if you like, or just leave it plain. If you have a taste for cheese, sprinkle a little handful of Daiya (whichever flavor you like) on each piece of bread.
Then lay three or four tomato slices on each piece—slice ‘em thick if you like it hearty, or thin if you prefer a more subtle tomato flavor.
After the oven has preheated, put your creation on the middle rack and let it toast for about 12 minutes, depending on your oven—it may take as little as 10, or as much as 15.
Yank those bad boys out of the oven before they burn, and sprinkle some finely chopped fresh or dried herbs if you’re into it, then toss a good handful of greens on top of the whole mess. Follow that up with a dash of salt and freshly ground pepper, then a drizzle of olive oil over everything. Let it marinate for a minute or two—be patient!—and then feast.
With all the fresh, real, simple ingredients combined, you’ve created a serious taste of Italy. Win!
Recipes: seasonal soups! »
Newspapers: not entirely useless! Today’s Contra Costa Times (newspaper to the stars! of the East Bay! kill me!) features a few soup recipes that sound delicious and can be easily veganized. Really, there’s no reason why they aren’t vegetarian; no one needs to use chicken broth when vegetable stock is just as easily made/obtained and doesn’t involve animal death. That cruelty-free isn’t the default is stupid and careless. We’ve got a long way to go, vegans.
Still, the soups—butternut squash chipotle bisque, roasted tomato with garlic croutons, and carrot with cumin and lime—look tasty, uncomplicated, and pretty perfect for early fall in the Bay Area, when the nights are growing longer and colder but the last of the tomatoes are still lingering on the vine.
Butternut Squash Chipotle Bisque (serves six to eight)
1 medium butternut squash
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1½ cups chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 6 cups stock or broth
3 tsp. minced, canned chipotle in adobo
Salt, fresh ground pepper
optional: ½ cup vegan sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds, discarding the stringy pulp. Put the seeds in a sieve and rinse. Set aside.
2. Grease a glass baking dish with 1 Tbsp. oil, then place the squash in the dish, cut side down. Pierce all over with a fork and roast 45 minutes or until tender. Let cool.
3. Heat remaining oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Saute onion, celery and carrot for 10 minutes. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes more.
4. Scoop the flesh of the squash into the pot and stir. Add 4 cups broth and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.
5. Meanwhile, toast the reserved squash seeds in a small pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally until crunchy, about 30 minutes. Season heavily with salt and set aside.
6. Puree the soup in batches in a blender, adding more broth to get the desired consistency.
7. Stir the remaining 2 tsp. chipotle into the bisque and ladle into soup bowls. Top each with a dollop of vegan sour cream, salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of seeds.
Roasted Tomato Soup with Garlic Croutons (serves six)
18 plum tomatoes
2¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. kosher salt
¾ teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ cup olive oil plus extra
3½ cups stock, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh basil
1½ Tbsp. olive oil
1½ Tbsp. nondairy butter
2 cups bread cubes (half-inch dice), made from French bread, crusts included
1½ tsp. minced garlic
1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a large baking sheet generously.
2. Halve tomatoes lengthwise and remove the seeds and membranes. Let drain.
3. In a large bowl, mix pepper, salt, rosemary, garlic and ½ cup olive oil and whisk to blend. Add tomatoes and toss well. Marinate for 15 minutes.
4. Arrange tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking sheet. Drizzle any remaining oil mixture over them. Roast until tomatoes are softened and browned around the edges, about 50 to 60 minutes.
5. Place half the tomatoes in a food processor. Pour in 1 cup stock and pulse until pureed.
6. Coarsely chop remaining tomatoes. In a soup pot, combine the chopped and pureed tomatoes and remaining stock and bring just to a simmer. Season with salt.
7. For the croutons, melt the oil and nondairy butter in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread cubes and cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes until bread is golden and crisp.
8. Garnish each serving with basil and croutons.
Carrot Soup with Cumin and Lime (serves 6)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 pounds carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups chopped leeks
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
3½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
6½ cups stock
2 Tbsp. lime juice
Kosher salt, pepper
Garnish: chopped cilantro and grated lime zest
optional: 8 Tbsp. vegan sour cream, divided
1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add carrot and leeks and saute until leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 minute. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and saute 30 seconds more.
2. Add the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered, about 35 minutes.
3. Puree the soup in batches and return soup to the pot. Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice stirred into each bowl. Or cool the soup, whisk in 6 tablespoons of sour cream and refrigerate for three hours or overnight. When ready to serve, stir in lime juice, season to taste and serve topped with a sprinkling of cilantro and lime zest, and a dollop of vegan sour cream if desired.
Friday link-o-rama: Tomato cocktails, Michael Pollan has a sad, “dangerous” foods & more! »
Top Chef’s Richard Blais, who owns a fancy burger joint in Atlanta that’ll likely horrify you with its menu, is looking for partners in a new vegetarian eatery. This follows a monthlong experiment in veganism.
Zooey Deschanel is vegan-ing up Top Chef Masters next week. Yes we talk a lot about Top Chef around here, but if they’re going to put veganism on TV, we’re going to tell you about it.
However, grumparella Michael Pollan thinks “food shows” are detrimental to Our Nation’s cultural heritage—if we’re all watching people mix up soup from cans and pre-cut vegetables, then how will we ever loose our own culinary imaginations? Perhaps a valid point, but then he goes on to criticize first-wave feminism for “thoughtlessly trampl[ing]” the notion that a lady can find satisfaction in her food work “in their rush to get women out of the kitchen,” which is just the most privileged-white-dude thing to say he might as well be crying over the Stars and Bars. Shut up, Michael Pollan.
Oh my god, a job: Santa Rosa needs an operations manager for a “new vegetarian fast-food franchise business.” Go on, “qualified” hopefuls, send an application already. DO IT.
Elle magazine is killing me with its “10 Most Dangerous Foods” list. Smartly, milk and beef are on it, but so are tomatoes, bagged spinach, alfalfa sprouts, cantaloupe, and “nuts” (illustrated with a photo of peanuts!). What these non-animal devil foods share is that they’ve all made people sick with salmonella and/or e. coli contamination; what Elle fails to mention is how produce comes to be contaminated with bacteria that can only come from inside animals.
You can get heirloom tomato cocktails at Range! Including the famous (and vegan!) Sungold Zinger, with Sungold cherry tomatoes, No. 209 gin, lemon, agave syrup, and salt. If you are a tomato-lover, you should probably try this; it sounds like the perfect summery respite from your bland-ola bloody mary.
According to the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, after reviewing 50 years’ worth of scientific papers, “there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.” The full results were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, but having read what’s available I do not fully understand the conclusion.
Seoul on Wheels, the Korean food truck, returns to the streets in August! The menu has just one definite veg item, though possibly the chap chae, and—I hope and pray—perhaps the kimchee could be veg as well. My first solid food was Korean and I would do terrible things for some vegan Korean that went beyond bibimbap.
Recipe: Corn Jalapeño, Marry Me. »
Corn is CHEAP and plenty this time of year: 25 cents at Safeway and 50 cents for organic stuff at Whole Foods. My local produce stand was more expensive than either of these so you make the call.
Serving size: for two
Prep time: 15 min
2 ears of corn (white or yellow, though I prefer white)
1 to 2 tomatoes (Roma, sweet 100, heirloom—whatevs)
Italian parsley (optional)
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Take corn, husks and all, and place directly on middle rack. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.
2. Meanwhile, get the mise en place ready. Everything is according to taste. I tend to prefer corn as the main focus so I go easy on the onion and tomato:
a. dice half a jalapeño into really small bits, seeds and all
b. dice red onion (I go easy on the raw onion)
c. dice tomatoes into small chunks. Best to squeeze the seeds out first so your corn salad isnt watery. If you use sweet 100s or baby tomatoes, slice in half.
3. Remove husks from corn. Take a knife and shear kernels from cob. Place kernels in large bowl.
4. Add jalapeño, onion, tomato to bowl. Add juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime. Adjust according to taste. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Optional: chop sprinkling of parsley and add at end.
Jalapeño and lime are really important in this dish; they make it bright and kicky.
This is another delicious recipe from the brilliant mind of Fancy Nancy. We <3 us some Nancy recipes.
Review: Crocker Galleria farmers market! »
Farmers Market Thursdays can make a work-week. The Crocker is attached to the Hunter Dulin building, a.k.a 111 Sutter (one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, incidentally), which makes it ridiculously convenient for the suits on the West Coast Wall Street, and because it’s so small, the nice vendors don’t have to make much of an effort to get to know you. The people I used to buy my bread from whose name I cannot remember—they do French-style breads and pastries (god how I lust for those little croissants) (damn you real butter)—they would remember what I want, and we had silly running jokes, and it made me happier to buy from them.
I think that the produce selection is very good. Yes, it is smaller than other markets, which to me is a selling point. You can see everything and make good choices without feeling overwhelmed or rushed. Everyone I’ve spoken with has answered my questions, and helped explain plant items with which I was not at all familiar. For example: yam greens. I neither knew that yams had greens, nor that they were edible. According to the vendor, they are a little bit sweet, and indeed they were.
The blueberry sellers have excellent blueberries. The summer fruits look delectable, and I never had a bad one. Prices are cheaper than supermarkets, although how they compare to the bigger, more popular markets I cannot say, being a lazy person who preferred the convenience of taking an elevator and walking 50 steps to the market each week. This was before the days of my CSA, of course. Now I shop farmers markets to supplement what the farm doesn’t bring me.
The size of the produce isn’t frightening, either, which I think is a big selling point. When melons made their first appearance, the cantaloupes were exactly what I expected cantaloupes to look, feel, and smell like. The Crocker farmers market is smaller than Heart of the City, and it’s only once a week, but I think the quality of the the produce is higher, and nearly everything is organically grown as well. If you are anywhere near the Crocker Galleria on Thursdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., you must check it out. At least get an apple or a peach (depending on the season, of course).
Ultimately this place is great. I would like it better without the salmon guy always hassling you to eat his fish carcass, and some of those office ladies can be extremely pushy around a table of vegetables; those are personal irritations though, and don’t reflect at all on the high quality of produce and friendliness you get at this market. Buy a bunch of greens you’ve never tried before, and spend a little too much money on the homemade applesauce, because it is delicious and you won’t find it anywhere else.
[photo by Joel]