Monday, August 29, 2011

Swamp Salad

It doesn't sound too good, does it, "Swamp Salad?"  But that's really what it's like.  And like many nutritarian foods--think green smoothies and pureed bean dips--it can quickly become a favorite, a craving, even!  I was really hungry at lunch today, so I had more of this than I  usually would have--see the notes.

It started with a hankering for some Tasty Bite Madras Lentils I have had my eye on in the cabinet lately. (I used them in a previous post, too, as I have several Tasty Bite products.) I knew they'd be spicy and comfort-food-y with a lot of sauce for the amount of lentils. They do have a bit of oil and cream, but it's only 50 calories of fat per 150 calories (with 7 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber) of the product. My idea grew from there to the kind of salad I read of many nutritarians making--with soup on top instead of dressing. That's what makes it a swamp. :-)


About 4 cups chopped green leaf lettuce
1/2 small onion, minced
1/2 small bell pepper, minced
1 diced tomato
1/3 cup fresh corn kernels (optional)*
1 package (or 1/2 package if you're not as hungry as I was today) Tasty Bite Madras Lentils

*But then this salad is really a method suggestion, so everything is optional, interchangeable, inspirational

Toss together all the veggies, and pour the warmed pouch of lentils over the top. Stir, savor, and be satisfied!

Verdict:  Excellent!  Of course this salad has endless variations, limited only by what sort of soupy stuff you're willing to put over  your salad.  Or, think of it this way:  instead of topping pasta or rice or couscous or a tortilla with a savory (or any!) sauce, put that stuff over a salad and make it really nutritious.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Zucchini "Fries?"

Is it appropriate to call a food "fries" if there's no frying involved?

I have to get creative to deal with all the produce coming in now, like the 30-pound bucket of cucumbers dh hauled up from the garden last night.  Okayyyy . . . Did I mention I'm the main cucumber consumer in the house and dh doesn't even like them?

And of course there's always zucchini.  I made a zucchini frittata (Joy of Cooking) the other day, and a stir-fry with sausage--no recipes here for obvious reasons.  But here's a nutritarian-friendly dish I created last night, vaguely inspired by some recipes I've seen lately, like this one from Vegan Mama for eggplant fries.


1/2 cup plain lowfat yogurt (soy should be fine)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves (or dry if necessary)
a few grinds of pepper
a sprinkle of salt (optional)
4 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into about sixths and then halved, for finger-sized spears
2 large slices whole-grain bread, in crumbs
1-2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast if you do that, or omit altogether and try another spice or herb with the crumbs)

Combine yogurt, garlic powder, basil, pepper, and salt and allow to stand while preparing the zucchini. Coat each zucchini spear with the yogurt mixture and set aside on a plate until all are done. Then roll the spears in the mixture of crumbs and parmesan until partially coated on all sides, and arrange on a large cookie sheet which has been smeared with a bit of oil or sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. It might be a good idea to add the crumbs to a plate in batches so they're not all moistened by the end of the process, and do note that you won't have enough crumbs to completely coat the spears--but getting enough to hold the zucchini off the cookie sheet surface will allow for a crispier result. Slide the pan of prepared spears into the fridge for a little while and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Bake for about twenty minutes, until the zucchini is tender and the crumbs are crispy.  Serve with a sauce like the lemon-dill sauce in Vegan Mama's recipe above.  I mixed horseradish sauce with more plain yogurt and that was very nice, too.

Verdict: Excellent!  We really enjoyed these, a great way to use up that zucchini!  This made VERY generous servings for four and would easily feed eight people a moderate serving.

Now to use my friend Pam's Bang Bang Chicken recipe, with variations, to work with some of those cucumbers!  Her recipe, from the book Extending the Table, has a sauce component similar to this one on video:  Bang Bang Chicken.  I will report later . . .

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Salads Redux

I've just had a delightful salad for lunch, made possible by earlier salads I've made this week.  Here are the components, then my combination for today:

From The Joy of Cooking (1997), pp. 218-219. This amazingly simple combination of rice vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, and a little sugar, in which slices or chunks of cucumber are marinated, is excellent on its own. I scored the cucumbers with a fork and cut them lengthwise into sixths and then crosswise into little chunks.


1/2 cup raw cashews, lightly toasted if desired
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
1/2 - 1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in blender and whirl until cashews are smoothed into the liquid.

Verdict:  Excellent.  I like my dressings thin, so I used the full cup of water. I had it first on a salad of home-grown leaf lettuce and arugula, with cucumber, canned beets, canned red beans, and a few raisins.


Today I created a salad of home-grown leaf lettuce and arugula, sliced red onion, and halved red grapes, then added a portion of the cucumber salad and a drizzle of the balsamic dressing.  The combination is outstanding--I think a judicious touch of fruit in a savory salad is a magic secret ingredient!