Southwestern Black Eyed Pea Salad

A great side that’s a bit tangy and packed with fiber, iron, and protein thanks to the black eyed peas.  It’s also a nice cold dish to have during the last of these warm summer days and if you use a can of beans there is no actual cooking involved!

Make it a meal with grilled vegetable fajitas or tacos and don’t forget the margaritas!

Enjoy and I hope you have had a lovely August!

Southwestern Black Eyed Pea Salad

This recipe is from the American Heart Association’s Low-Salt cookbook, 4th Edition.  The original recipe does not call for salt but I ended up adding a teensy bit in there since I opted out of the jalapenos and it needed a little something.

Below are all the ingredients needed to make this salad, feel free to adjust quantities to your liking.  I try to make sure the ingredients are balanced, and that the amount of peas, pepper, and onion are about the same.  This is a great dish to make the night before and easy to put together a large serving for a party or get together.

Makes about 4 servings.

- 2 cups of cooked black eyed peas
– 1 small or 1/2 a large green bell pepper, diced
– 1/2 a small white onion, diced
– 1 TBS canola oil
– 1 to 2 TBS red wine vinegar
– freshly ground pepper, to taste
– salt, to taste
– jalepenos, seeded and diced (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss together the peas, green pepper, onion, and jalapenos (if using).  Add the oil and vinegar.  Add pepper and salt.  Mix well and taste test.  Add more oil, vinegar, and seasoning as needed.  Toss again.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tofu Salad

I swear I have the worst memory ever, it’s like years of my life never even happened! Birth to five years of age?  Have no clue what being a baby or toddler was like.  Freshman year of high school? Didn’t happen. What did I wear yesterday? I have no idea.  But if there’s one thing I do remember, it’s delicious food!

So what I do remember, is going over to my friend Kristen’s house back in middle school…6th grade I believe.  Her mom wasn’t home when we got there but had left a ready made tofu salad for us to eat.  The only thing we had to do was pour the dressing on top.  This was actually the first time I ate tofu without cooking it– I didn’t even know you could do that! It ended up being a great snack, refreshing and tasty.

Fast forward like, 10+ years and I still remember how good it was but kept forgetting to ask Kristen for the recipe!  Not too long ago she had us over for lunch, made it again, and I finally remembered to ask her for it.

The cilantro, tomatoes, and onions not only lend color but lots of flavor to the tofu. This cold salad is the perfect appetizer or side for a warm summer day!  Serve with soba noodles like Kristen did, as well as some other sides like sunomo (recipe coming next!)

I’m going to make it all the time now :)

Tofu Salad

Thank you Kristen + Mrs. Ueda for sharing their family recipe!

The amount below serves 4.

For the salad:
– 1 package of firm tofu, cubed
– 2 medium tomatoes, diced
– 1/4 of a brown onion, sliced paper-thin
–  a handful of cilantro leaves

For the dressing:
– 1/4 cup soy sauce
– 1/8 cup peanut or corn oil
– 1/8 cup sugar (you can start with half the amount then add more if you’d like)
–  1/4 TBS sesame oil

Layer the ingredients in a serving dish in order listed, starting with the tofu which will make the bottom layer.

In a small bowl mix together all ingredients for the dressing.

Refrigerate both until cold.  Pour dressing onto salad before serving.


Eggplant Two Ways

I only recently started cooking with eggplant– I just wasn’t sure what to make and how to make it before!  It’s such an interesting vegetable though, the only purple one I can think of right now, with a funny spongy texture before it is cooked.  The first recipe I ever tried was ratatouille, and since then I have been hooked!

Eggplant is not only pretty, but very good for you:

  • 1 cup provides 9 grams of carbs which is our body’s number source of fuel
  • 1 cup provides 2 grams of fiber
  • it is low in calories, 35/cup, and contains no fat while the high fiber content can help you feel full
  • the skin of the eggplant contains nasunin, which is an antioxident and free-radical scavenger
  • it is also a good source of B1, B6, and potassium

Eggplant is in season this month and here are two ways to add this beneficial vegetable to your BBQ or picnic basket:  grilled in a ratatouille inspired open face sandwich and sauteed in a caponata, spooned onto slices of a ciabatta loaf.

Grilled Ratatouille Open Face Sandwich

I love ratatouille and wanted to take elements of it to make a fun and easy finger food that can be made on a grill.  I stayed indoors and used Emeril’s grill & panini maker for this recipe which worked out great.

The bread:
– 1 loaf of good artisan bread or baguette, I used Trader Joe’s flax seed ciabatta, sliced lengthwise

The veggies for the grill:
– 1 small eggplant, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces
– 1 medium yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I sliced them in half after cutting lengthwise as well)
– 1 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into about 1/4″ width pieces (I didn’t use in my recipe)

To brush onto the veggies:
– 3 to 4 TBS of olive oil
– rosemary, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– thyme, chopped if fresh (recommended) but dried works too
– coriander seeds or ground
– salt and pepper, to taste

Other veggies you  will need:
– 2 large tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
– 1 small onion, chopped
– 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced
– olive oil, for cooking
– a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped

Start by combining all the ingredients to be used to brush onto the grilled veggies: olive oil, rosemary, thyme, coriander, and a few shakes of salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Heat up the grill.  Once it’s ready, lightly brush the eggplant, yellow squash, and zucchini with the olive oil mixture.  Grill each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.  When done, remove from grill and place on a plate.

While you are working the grill, heat up a small saucepan with some olive oil.  Add the garlic and onions.  Cook until edges are browned and onions are translucent.

Once most of the vegetables are grilled, toast the lengthwise pieces of bread for a few minutes until bread is warm and tops are starting to get crispy.

Assemble the sandwich:  spoon the cooked garlic and onion onto the bread and spread evenly.  Start with a layer of eggplant, followed by a layer of squash, and then the zucchini.  Top with the tomato slices.  Sprinkle on the cut basil and some salt and pepper. Cut into slices and serve.

Eggplant Caponata

Caponata is a Sicilian dish consisting of a cooked vegetable salad with a sweet and sour taste.  This dish can be made a day or two before needed and stored in the refrigerator until ready to be eaten.

I found this recipe on Epicurious but I think the original recipe is from Bon Apetit.

– 1 small eggplant, cut int 1/2″ cubes
– 1/2 to 1 small onion, chopped
– 3 garlic cloves, chopped
– 3 to 4 medium tomatoes, diced
– red wine vinegar
– 2 TBS capers, drained
– a handful of fresh basil, chopped
– pine nuts, toasted
– olive oil, for cooking
– slices of bread or crackers

Heat up oil in a medium frying pan.  Add eggplant, onion, and garlic.  Saute for about 15 minutes, until eggplant is soft and brown.  If the mixture looks too dry, add a few TBS of water while cooking.

Add the tomatoes.  Drizzle some red wine vinegar on top and add the capers.  Cover the pan and cook on low heat until eggplant and onion are tender, stirring occasionally.  Season with salt and pepper.  Taste test, and add more vinegar, salt, and pepper if desired.

Stir in fresh basil and transfer into a serving bowl or container.  Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.  This dish can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Spoon onto slices of bread or crackers.

Lentil + Tomato + Basil Salad

I came across this dish at a potluck and it looked really good, but I couldn’t try it because it had goat cheese mixed in it.  Everyone was raving about it so I decided to go home and make a vegan version– and loved it!  The original recipe is very easy to prepare as it uses two ready made ingredients: Trader Joe’s lentils and a jar of Trader Joe’s bruschetta.  All you do is mix the two and that’s it!

Since both tomatoes and basil are in season this month, I decided to make bruschetta from scratch and served this salad with slices of artisan bread (the flax seed loaf also from Trader Joe’s is my current favorite!)  The lentils are a great source of protein, tomatoes have been shown to lower cholesterol, and the basil provides you with vitamin K.  I love the colors and may try this recipe next time with multi-colored lentils cooked from scratch.

Lentil + Tomato + Basil Salad

– 1 package of Trader Joe’s steamed lentils, ready to eat or about 2 cups of cooked lentils
– 4 to 5 vine ripened tomatoes, or try heirloom tomatoes for different colors, chopped
– a handful of basil leaves, chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– olive oil
– balsamic vinegar
– salt and pepper, to taste
– an artisan loaf or baguette, sliced and lightly toasted

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, and garlic.  Stir well.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, enough to give the lentils a light coating.  Add a few spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar.  Mix well.  Stir in the lentils and taste test.  Add more oil and vinegar if needed as well as salt and pepper.  Serve with the slices of bread.

Swedish House Mafia, Swedish Picture Frame, + Swedish “Meat”balls

All the items in this post have one thing in common– Sweden!

1) Swedish House Mafia- My friend Tal sent me this video and at first I was like what the heck is this!  BUT here’s a hint, if you love dogs, you must watch this music video, it is awesome and hilarious! (Thank you Tal for sharing!)

2) Swedish Picture Frame- Love or hate IKEA, this is a super cute hanging picture frame from the Swedish home furnishings shop!  It’s not a traditional Swedish style frame or anything, but it’s made in Sweden and is named Fiskevik so I think it works with the theme.  Plus it’s $5.99- can’t beat that!

3) Swedish “Meat”balls- And while at IKEA, I decided I wanted to see if I could find a vegan version of a Swedish meatball recipe.  Which I did and I loved since the main ingredient was potato.  But the best part was the ground almonds I think, which gave it an interesting flavor.  Below is the recipe as well as one for gravy– which you will you have to use your imagination to picture since I burnt the whole thing while re-heating!  Oops.  Always check to make sure you have turned off the burner!

Swedish Meatless Balls

This recipe is from, thank you Dreamer in Ontario for posting!  The original recipe calls for frying the meatballs, which you can do, or you can try baking them as I did, which is what is instructed below.

- 3 or 4 medium potatoes, cubed (I used Russet potatoes)
– 1 vegan bouillon
– 1 cup ground almonds (I ground up almonds, cashews, and walnuts since I was short on almonds– just put it in a food processor or you can purchase it ground)
– 4 TBS flax seed
– 1 medium onion, chopped
–  salt and pepper, to taste
– olive oil, for cooking

In a large pot, place potatoes, vegan bouillon, and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft.  Stir mid way to make sure the bouillon has dissolved and is evenly distributed.

Drain water from potatoes, saving a cup to make gravy with.  Mash and let cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, heat up some olive oil in a frying pan.  Add onions and cook until they start to brown.

Place the flax seed in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup hot water and let stand for about 10 minutes.  Once the seeds absorb the water, they will get sticky and gooey, which is what we want.

When the potatoes have cooled, add the flax seed and water it was soaking in, ground almonds, cooked onions, and salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape the potato mixture into small balls and line on the baking sheet.

Bake the meatballs for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they are heated through and outsides are crisp and turning golden brown.

Vegan Gravy

From, posted by Sharon123.

– 2 cups of vegetable broth OR 2 cups of water + a vegan bouillon
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (the less yeast you use, the less cheesier it is)
– 3 TBS cornstarch
– spices of your choice, to taste– I like to use onion powder, garlic powder, herbs de provence since that has a little bit of everything)
– salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat up the broth or water.

Ladle some of the heated liquid into a small bowl.  Add the cornstarch to this, whisk well, then set aside.

To the pot of liquid, add the nutritional yeast and seasonings/spices, stirring until dissolved.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot, and cook on low heat until the liquid thickens (about a few minutes).

Add salt and pepper, and more seasonings if desired.

This is great over the Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggies, and pasta!  (I will make it cheesier by adding more of the nutritional yeast when I use this over pasta.)

Quick Chickpea Curry

I was going to make a chickpea salad today, but it was so cold and rainy I decided to try this curry recipe instead, which is also from The Vegan Indian Table by Madhu Gadia, M.S., R.D.

I spooned the chickpeas over this Basmati Rice Medley I got at Trader Joe’s.  It was the perfect cozy dish for tonight’s chilly weather!

Use canned chickpeas to make this recipe super fast, or soak some dry ones for a day or two then boil them until soft.  I soaked mine for about 4 days by accident because things just got so crazy and I forgot all about them!  They actually started to sprout!  But sprouted foods are suppose to be good for you so my forgetfulness worked out pretty good this time.

If you are a non-meat eater, I am sure you have been asked, “Where do you get your protein from?”  It’s interesting to know how much we actually need and what people think.  There is an excerpt in The Indian Vegan Kitchen that I wanted to share regarding this:

Per The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance, adults need about 0.8 grams of protein per kilo of body weight per day.  A quick reference: 100 lbs / 36 grams, 140 lbs. / 51 grams, 160 lbs / 58 grams, 180 lbs / 67 grams, 200 lbs / 73 grams.

Although each person is different and level of activity will vary, this is a pretty good guideline to keep in mind.  I kept a food dairy back when I was in a nutrition class and found that I consumed enough foods that provided me with the amount of protein needed for my body weight on a daily basis.  If you are interested in knowing how much you are actually consuming, keeping track of what you eat for a few weeks or a month is a great way to find out.

You can find protein in beans, lentils, soybeans, tofu, nuts, soymilk, grains, and vegetables. Chickpeas are a great source of protein; a 1/2 cup = 7 to 8 grams of protein.  Give this recipe a try and get your delicious dose of protein for the day!

Quick Chickpea Curry / Kabuli Chane Ki Subji

Reprinted from The Indian Vegan Kitchen by Madhu Gadia by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2009 Madhu Gadia.

- 1 (16-oz) cans of chickpeas, or 3 cups of cooked chickpeas
– 2 TBS canola or vegetable oil
– 1/8 tsp asafetida powder
– 1 tsp cumin seeds
– 1 cup onion, finely chopped
– 1 tsp ginger, peeled and grated
– 1 1/2 cups of tomato, chopped, or 1/2 cup canned chopped tomatoes
– 1/2 tsp tumeric
– 2 tsp ground coriander
– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
– 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
– 3 cups water
– 1/2 tsp garam masala
– 2 tsp lemon or lime juice
– 2 TBS cilantro, chopped

If using canned beans, drain and rinse.  Set aside.

Heat up some oil in medium skillet.  Add asafetida and cumin seeds.  Cook for a few seconds to brown the cumin seeds.

Add onions and fry for about 2 to 3 minutes until golden brown.

Add ginger and tomatoes.  Cover pan and cook for a few minutes.  Uncover and with a spoon or masher, mash up the tomatoes until well blended.

Add tumeric, coriander, and cayenne pepper, and stir for a few seconds to mix well.  Add the chickpeas and coat with the spices.

Add salt and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Using the back of a spoon, mash up a few chickpeas against the pan.

Add garam masala and lemon juice.  Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.

PS: This tastes even better the day after or the day after that or the day after that…!  Just make sure to store in an airtight container and refrigerate.  Yum!