March 31, 2012

Kaali Gobi (Purple Cauliflower) Subzi

Growing up we ate cauliflower (Phool Gobi) in a lot of different ways. In Gobi Pulao (vegetable pilaf), in Gobi Parathas (stuffed flatbreads), in Gobi Pakoras (Batter fried veggies) and in Gobi ki Subzi (curried veggies). In India, there is only one variety of cauliflower available, the white one. In the US though, I've seen purple, yellow and green varieties as well and had been wanting to try these for some time. Today, I tried making the purple kind which in India would be referred to as "Kaali Gobi".

Prep Time: 20-25 minutes

  1. 1 head of Purple cauliflower
  2. 1/2 -3/4 cup frozen green peas
  3. 1 small piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  4. 1/2 cup Vegetable broth
  5. 2-3 tsp Cumin seeds
  6. 2-3 tsp Coriander seed powder
  7. 1 tsp Turmeric
  8. Salt & Pepper to taste

Line a skillet with a thin later of Vegetable broth. Add ginger and spices and bring to a boil. Once the ginger and spices release their aroma, add the cauliflower and mix well. Add peas, and then dust with salt. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for 10-12 minutes until done, mixing every few minutes to prevent the veggies from burning and add vegetable broth, as needed during this time to keep the bottom of the skillet moist. Once done, make sure there is no broth left in the skillet (cook on a high for a minute of two if there is any left to evaporate it!). Serve granished with cracked black pepper, along with warm Naan, or Roti. 

Kaali Gobi ki Subzi with Tikoni Roti
Close-up of cooked Purple Cauliflower!
My Assessment: I'd read earlier today that purple cauliflower tastes slightly sweeter and more nuttier than its white cousin and I couldn't tell the difference. The dish itself turned out great. Would I try this variety again, most definitely!! It was great!! 

For dessert today we each had a wonderful mix of fresh crunchy watermelon and blackberries!! Yumm!! 

Veggie Fact of the Day

Purple cauliflower get their color from anthocyanin pigments, which are also found in red cabbage, red grapes, beets, red wine etc. 

Unlike the more commonly found white variety, purple cauliflower is a heritage variety that comes from either Italy or South Africa, and contrary to popular belief, these are not genetically modified or artificially dyed - the purple color is naturally occurring. 

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, which also includes broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, & cabbage. 

Purple cauliflower is rich in Vitamin A, B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folate), C and K. It is low in sodium and calories and high in fiber. In addition, anthocyanins have numerous health benefits including quenching of free radicals (i.e. antioxidant benefits).

March 28, 2012

Shiitake Mushroom & Leek Soup

Ever since I tried Shiitake Mushrooms (New Veggie #13), I've been wanting to try them again. This somewhat high-end grocery store that I occasionally go to often has mushrooms available in bulk, instead of shrink-wrapped in styrofoam - i.e. I can pick and choose the best looking mushrooms! I picked up some Shiitake yesterday and wanted to use them last night while they were at their freshest. Unfortunately, the kids had other plans. So .. the mushrooms had to stay overnight in a brown paper bag. I've found that is the best way to store mushrooms.  I found this really simple recipe during lunch today ( and decided immediately that this was the fate of the wonderful mushrooms sitting in my fridge. I followed it almost to a tee. I made the No-Added-Fat version, did not use any oil and also cut coconut milk in half and I did not use any Cremini mushrooms. 

Prep Time: 15 min, or so


  1. 2 Leeks (diced) (New Veggie #8)
  2. 6-8 large Shiitake mushrooms (diced)
  3. 1-3 tsp minced garlic
  4. 3 cups Vegetable broth
  5. 8 oz Coconut milk
  6. Salt, and freshly cracked pepper, to taste.
In a large saucepan, bring 2 cups of vegetable broth to a rolling boil, add leeks and 2 tsp salt (if using low-sodium broth). Cover and simmer for a few minutes until leeks begin to cook down. Then, add mushrooms and garlic and cook until fragrant. Using a stick blender, puree the soup into a creamy consistency. Add half the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Add more vegetable broth, as needed to reach the right texture. Serve with more coconut milk, thin strips of leeks and cracked pepper as a garnish. 

My Assessment: Simple and Yum!!

March 26, 2012

Moong Dal w Kale

New Veggie #23 - Kale - Take 2 - So I've been craving Indian comfort foods for some odd reason. All day today I was thinking of making "Saag Dal" which essentially translates to Greens with Lentils. This is quite an easy preparation and can be eaten with Naan, or with rice and tastes good both ways. A quick call to my sister-in-law and I was mentally extremely well prepared for the task at hand when I walked in the door.  Traditionally, Saag Dal is made with Spinach. But I had a bunch of Kale sitting in the fridge and I decided to use that instead. The result was absolutely delicious!!!

Mung Dal with Kale
Prep Time: 20-30 min

Mung dal
  1. 2-3 cups Kale
  2. 1 medium red Onion, diced
  3. 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  4. 1/2 cup Split Mung (mung) dal (green lentils)
  5. 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic Paste
  6. 1 tbsp Cumin powder
  7. 1 tbsp Coriander powder
  8. 1/8 tsp Asafoetida (optional)
  9. 2 cups vegetable broth
  10. Salt, to taste
  11. Cayenne pepper, to taste
Add 2 cups vegetable broth to a pressure cooker* and bring to a boil. Add onions, tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste, lentils, cumin, coriander, asafoetida and salt to taste. Bring to a rolling boil and then add kale. Given that kale is a rather hardy leaf, it is hard to press down into the cooker, especially since this recipe calls for 2-3 cups. Don't fret. Pressure cooking is basically cooking under steam so the kale will not burn even if it is not touching the liquid at the bottom. Cover with lid and steam, under pressure for about 10 min (1 full steam release and a simmer for another 2-4 min). Turn off the stove and let the steam dissipate on its own before opening the cooker. The kale is likely to be still sitting on top of all the liquid. With a wooden spatula, mix the kale into the cooked lentils at the bottom. Serve hot, sprinkled with a little cayenne pepper, with Garlic Naan, or Steamed rice. 

Nik's Reaction: Mom, what is that? At the sight of warm Naan. He wasn't a big fan of the lentils but ate almost half a naan all by himself. 

Alex's Reaction: Alex enjoyed this preparation. He wanted only the naan at first but I coaxed him into trying the lentils and HE LOVED IT!! He ate a Naan and another half with a good amount of the dish. I'm so proud of him for having tried something new!! 

My Assessment: Growing up, I wasn't a big fan of green vegetables. I used to tell my mom and my aunt that I didn't want to eat cow-fodder. Well that has definitely changed and today I added a 'comfort food' label to this recipe. We had it with Garlic Naan from Trader Joe's. It was great and reminded me a lot of my aunt who passed away a few years ago (I miss you, Badi ma ... ). A great big thanks got out to her for introducing me to Saag Dal!

* To make this dish without a pressure cooker, I would modify the steps just slightly. I don't think this will work very well in a crock-pot (slow cooker) but a dutch oven should work just as well as a pressure cooker. I would boil kale in vegetable broth and salt to cook it down, before adding the rest of the ingredients and simmering until the lentils were cooked, adding vegetable broth and/or water to keep the bottom from burning. The final dish should be very moist but not runny when served on a dinner plate.  

March 25, 2012

Veggie Fact of the Day

Kale is a member of the cabbage family. Unlike some of the other greens, it's leaves are succulent, curly leaves that may range from dark green to a deep blue-green. Tuscan kale, is another variety of Kale which has very long, curly, blue-green leaves with an embossed surface that resembles dinosaur skin, and it is also obviously called dinosaur kale. 

Flowering Purple Kale
Nutritionally, kale is a power food. Its rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals such as sulforaphane, indole-3-carbinol, ß-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.  While ß-carotene is converted in the body into Vitamin A, Kale also has a pretty good supply of Vitamins A, K, C and a complex of B vitamins. 

It is also a rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Interestingly, unlike a lot of other veggies, kale's nutrition value is supposed to increase when cooked.

Sautéed Green Kale

After a few days of adding some previously, although rarely, used veggies I'm back with a real one. So far I've always thought of Kale as rabbit food .... not people food. But I've gotten great recommendations from multiple people and its been on my list since the beginning of the year. Today, Kale became New Veggie #23.   The recipe I tried today comes directly from one of my old friends - Nitika Jassal. I've made very slight modifications to make it just a little more my style. She told me I was a dork for not having tried Kale so far in my life and encouraged me to try it. I'm glad I did :)

Prep Time: 10-12 min.

  1. One bunch Kale, chopped
  2. 2 tsp Earth Balance buttery spread    
  3. 2 tsp Garlic, minced 
  4. 2 tsp red chili powder, or flakes 
  5. 2-3 tsp Mustard seeds
  6. Sea salt, to taste
Tear, or coarse chop kale, making sure to remove any particularly tough stems. Heat earth balance on medium heat and add garlic and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter, add chili powder, mix well and add kale, and just a splash of water or vegetable broth. Cover kale with spices, and turn heat down to medium low and cook, covered for a few minutes, until the greens begin to wilt. I learnt after I was done cooking this recipe that Kale should ideally be cooked down until its completely wilted, as that helps release its nutrients. I added sea salt after the Kale was done cooking to add just a little bit of texture to the dish and to prevent the leaves from releasing all their water in the pan. Now normally I would not use butter, and instead would use Vegetable broth. I used butter because absorption of  ß-carotene from vegetables such as kale and sweet potato is enhanced by a little bit of fat in the preparation.  

My Assessment: I kinda sorta liked it. It was somewhat tough to eat even after 10 minutes of cooking. I will definitely cook it for longer the next time. I've not given up on it yet :) Thanks Nitika, for the suggestion!

Breakfast Tofu Scramble

I've been thinking of making this Tofu Scramble for a few weeks (months?) now. One of the best things about weekend mornings at home was being able to make Scrambled Eggs and Toast. So after giving up eggs (among other meat & dairy products), this was one of the things I missed a lot. When I saw it the Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook when I first bought it in January and I just haven't gotten around to actually making it. I finally did make it this morning and I was an idiot for not having made it before! ;-)

EHH Tofu Scramble with Tomatoes & Salsa
Prep Time: 10 min. or less

Ingredients & Directions: I followed the HH Tofu Scramble recipe to a tee, with the exception that I added fresh diced tomatoes and topped it off with pre-made Salsa. Yum!!

Veggie Fact of the Day

Crowder peas are called so because they are crowded together in their pads which causes them to have the squarish, funny looking shape. Crowder peas are also sometimes called Cow peas and belong to the field pea family, same as the black-eyed pea. are a leguminous crop, similar to the Black-eyed pea. 

As I researched Crowder peas this afternoon, I realized that they aren't all that new to me after all. They are often used in Indian cooking and are called Chawli in Marathi and Lobiya in Hindi, although I think that the Indian names are used a little more loosely than elsewhere. The lobiya I remember from my childhood was a pale buff colored bean with a dark spot where it attached to the pod ... remind you of something?? ... that's right! The Black-eyed pea. So while they may be related, they're definitely not the same plant. I didn't find much nutrition information specific to Crowder peas but I did find that like other beans and peas, they are rich in fiber and protein, and low in fat. ... they're good food people!!

Curried Crowder Peas

I picked up a pack of frozen Crowder Peas at the store last weekend. I'd never had them before but they looked a bit like black eyed peas in the picture. How bad could they be? I like almost every kind of bean I've ever tried ... so in the cart it went. So today, these funny looking beans, odd shaped, and not consistently so,  had the opportunity to be New Veggie #22. I had my curry with Cumin Brown rice and Bhuna (pan roasted) Button Mushrooms.

Curried Crowder Peas (Lobiya)
Prep Time: 30 min

  1. A 1lb bag of frozen crowder peas
  2. 2 medium red onions, julienned
  3. 3 medium tomatoes, also julienned
  4. 2-3 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  5. 2-3 tsp Coriander powder
  6. 2-3 tsp Cumin powder
  7. 2-3 tsp Garam Masala
  8. 2-3 Bay leaves
  9. 1 cup Vegetable broth
  10. salt, to taste
Ingredients for Sides:
  1. 1 cup Brown Basmati Rice
  2. 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  3. 1-2 whole green Cardomoms
  4. 6 oz small button mushrooms
  5. 1 tsp Cumin powder
  6. salt to taste
  7. 1/8 cup Vegetable broth

Directions: Load up all the ingredients for the curry in a pressure cooker*, bring to a boil, add more water or vegetable broth to ensure that there is adequate liquid in the cooker and close. Cook under pressure for 10 min. Let the steam dissipate by itself before opening. 
Separately, in a skillet, boil 1/8 cup vegetable broth, add halved or quartered mushrooms, cumin and salt to taste and mix well. Cook until the broth is completely evaporated and the mushrooms begin to brown up nicely. 

Rinse dry rice in plenty of water and boil in ample amounts of water, with cumin seeds and cardamom, until done. Drain & Serve. 

My Assessment: ... this was Comfort food at its best!!

* I've been asked before if a recipe can't be made without a pressure cooker, and the answer is .. of course it can. For this one, you can use a crock-pot (slow cooker) on high for 4-5 hours, or you can simply simmer it on the stove in a dutch oven for about 60-90 minutes for the same results (check peas to make sure they have reached a creamy melt-in-your-mouth consistency). Happy cooking!

March 23, 2012

Veggie Fact of the Day

Asparagus is a member of the lily family of plants. The edible part is basically the shoot of the plant, and the sooner its harvested, the more tender it is. Once the shoots get too long, or start to leaf and/or flower, in my opinion, they become too woody to eat. I'm not sure if those parts are eaten by anyone. 

The most common variety of asparagus is the green variety pictured here, but white asparagus is also available, although it is more common in Europe than in the US. Interesting fact about asparagus - it was a favorite of King Louis XIV. 

Nutritionally, asparagus is indeed fit for a king. Its one of the richest plant sources of Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid). It is also a great source of potassium, low on sodium and is a rich in Vitamins A, C, B1 (Thiamin) and B6 (Pyroxidine).

Broiled Asparagus w Oyster Sauce

.. continuing from my previous post, I was looking for a super-quick meal this evening. So I made Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms & Snow Peas and paired those up with New Veggie #21 - Asparagus. It's early Spring here in Ohio and fresh asparagus is everywhere. I got a nice bunch of super thin tender stalks at the store yesterday and was looking forward to it all day today. 

Prep Time: 8 min

  1. A clean non-stick cookie sheet 
  2. 1 bunch Asparagus
  3. 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster Sauce*
  4. Salt, to taste. 
Spread asparagus in a single layer on a clean non-stick cookie sheet. Broil on high for 5-7 minutes until done. I like mine when it is just beginning to wilt and has a few brown spots beginning to show on the stalks. Remove cookie sheet from the oven, sprinkle with salt. Transfer to a deep serving dish and drip the oyster sauce over the top. The heat from the asparagus makes the sauce thinner so that a little bit goes a long way. Give the asparagus a quick toss in the watery sauce before serving yourself. 

Nik's Reaction: Even before I could ask him if he wanted to have any, he saw my plate and immediately said "Mom, can I have some bean-beans (green beans)?

My Assessment: I've had asparagus gazillions of times before. However, this was the first time I cooked it in a couple of years. At restaurants, I always order asparagus as a side if they have it on their menu.  Tonight, I really liked the fact that the stalks were super tender, it was broiled just right and I loved the flavor imparted by Oyster sauce. My dinner plate tonight was phenomenal!! 

* Oyster Sauce: In case you haven't figured it out yet .. I'm on an Oyster sauce kick right now. I hadn't had it for a while and then last week in San Francisco I had Broccoli in Oyster Sauce. While the version I ate at this Chinese restaurant was not vegetarian, it was amazingly flavorful and it reminded me of how much just a table spoon of this condiment can do for veggies. So what the heck is Oyster sauce?? 

Real Oyster Sauce is made by boiling oysters in water and condensing the extract until it is thick paste. This version has absolutely no additives, not even salt. As can be expected it is quite exorbitantly priced and is hardly ever used expect probably in gourmet restaurants. The version that is more routinely in Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine can also be found in grocery stores. Regular Oyster Sauce is a dark brown sauce made with water, sugar, and salt, thickened with cornstarch and flavored with oyster extract. This version is also sometimes darkened with caramel. Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, the kind I use, is typically prepared from oyster and/or shiitake mushrooms and imparts a flavor similar to the Non-Vegetarian version and is superbly inexpensive for the joy it provides :) 

Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms & Snow Peas

A quiet Friday evening after a hectic week just called out (quite desperately) for a quick and easy meal. I decided to go with a super-quick stir fry, and some broiled veggies, again super-quick. My whole meal was ready in 10 minutes, and although I've tried all 3 of the vegetables I made before, I'm going to add 2 of them to my New Veggie list as these aren't on my 'regular' list. New Veggie #20 happens to be Snow Peas. 

Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms & Snow Peas
Prep Time: 5-7 min

  1. 1 cup Snow Peas
  2. 2-4 oz Oyster Mushrooms (New Veggie #14)
  3. 2 tsp Earth Balance buttery spread 
  4. 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster Sauce
  5. 1 tbsp Soy Sauce
  6. Sea salt, to taste
  7. Black pepper, freshly ground
In a large skillet, or wok, on medium heat, melt butter and add snow peas. Toss for a few minutes and add mushrooms and sauces. Toss for another few seconds. Turn off heat, and remove pan from heat to prevent over-cooking of veggies. Serve sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper. 

My Assessment: I've had Snow Peas before, in fact, I had them earlier this year too ;) I just didn't remember that I had used them in my Spicy Oyster Lo-Mein at the beginning of the month ... haa! I must be getting old ... obviously my memory is failing me. I really liked this combination of Oyster mushrooms and snow peas too.  I had a phenomenal dinner this evening. Lots of whole veggies, lots of protein, lots of flavor. I paired this stir-fry with broiled asparagus .. nom, nom, nom!! 

Veggie Fact of the Day

Snow Peas
Snow peas have thin flat pods with tiny seeds inside when ready to eat. They are related to peas, and are not just immature peas as some people believe .. that is, snow pea pods will not produce peas. The cool thing about snow peas? You can hold up the pods to a light and count the tiny peas inside :) !! They are completely edible and are eaten whole, without being shelled. Snow peas can be eaten raw, in salads, or cooked. Most often, snow peas are used in oriental dishes such as stir fries. Snow peas are an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber, vitamins C, A and B9 (folic acid), and minerals such as Iron, potassium and calcium. In fact, snow peas are higher in calcium and vitamin A than other type peas, plus are lower in calories.

March 22, 2012

Veggie Fact of the Day

So what the heck is Tempeh? According to Wikipedia, tempeh is a traditional soy product originally from Indonesia. It is made my a natural, but controlled, fermentation process that binds soybeans together. Whole soybeans are mixed with rice or millets, with a 'starter' culture to begin the fermentation, shaped into flat rectangular cakes and traditionally - these cakes are wrapped in banana leaves and allowed to ferment for 18 to 24 hours before being used in the kitchen. 

Lindsay Nixon of Happy Herbivore has a blog posting not too long ago. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is fast becoming a popular choice as a meat substitute in the diet of strict vegetarians like me. There is some debate over whether or not the bacteria used in the fermentation process produce Vitamin B12 and hence, the Vitamin B12 content of tempeh is a topic for debate too. Because tempeh is made from whole soybeans, it has a high fiber content, but unlike other bean and bean products, the fermentation process breaks down some of the contents making it more digestible, and less gas producing. It is low in sodium unlike some of the other soy products on the market.

Tempeh & Vegetable Lo-Mein

I've tried 18 new vegetables already this year and its only the 22nd of March ... I'm beginning to get worried that I won't have any left to last me through the rest of the 9 months of this year (LOL), so I've expanded my horizons a little bit and decided to include products other than fresh produce as well.  
Today, I tried something plant-based and although it is somewhat processed, I'm still going to call it New Veggie #19 - Soy Tempeh. Along with tempeh, I used two of my previous new veggies today as well. I used Bok Choy  (New Veggie #11) which I've promised myself I'll always add to my oriental dishes (its awesome!) and I had one small Radicchio (New Veggie #15) left over from the weekend which I wanted to use as well. I overloaded this dish with veggies. Other vegetables to use would be sliced carrots, snow peas, broccoli!! 

Tempeh &Vegetable Lo-Mein
Prep Time: 20 min

  1. 1 pack (8 oz) Tempeh, cut into thin strips (or grilled chicken)
  2. 1 cup spaghetti (boiled, al dente)
  3. 1/2 cup Vegetable broth 
  4. 4 tbsp Soy sauce
  5. 2-3 tbsp Hoisin sauce, or Vegetarian Oyster sauce
  6. 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  7. 1 bunch of Bok Choy, sliced
  8. 6-8 Green onions, cut off the leafy parts and cut each one in half, length-wise
  9. 1 medium Radicchio, sliced
  10. salt to taste. 
Boil spaghetti and set aside. In a skillet on medium heat, add vegetable broth and add ginger-garlic paste. Allow for the mixture to come to a simmer and mix in both sauces and add strips of tempeh. Cover and allow this to simmer for about 5 minutes. Then add the green onions and allow to cook for a few minutes to get rid of the sulfur pungency. If you like raw onions, you may not need to pre-cook the onions like I did. Then, add the noodles to this sauce and toss well to cover noodles with sauce.  Do a quick taste test, and add more sauces and/or salt to taste. Finally add the bok choy and radicchio, toss well and just as the green (and purples) begin to wilt, turn off the heat and remove the pan from the stove as well. 

Nik's Reaction: He wanted to try the noodles, but was quite full with his own dinner by the time the Lo-Mein was ready. Alex tried a small serving. I think he liked the noodles and veggies but was not a fan of the tempeh (.. AT ALL!! LOL)

My Assessment: I liked the dish overall. This was my first time trying tempeh and, like Alex, I am not an immediate fan.  But I've heard so many people rave about it that I will definitely try it again. :)

March 21, 2012

Scalloped Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin

In Chef-Speak, the term au gratin refers to a dish that is baked with a topping of breadcrumbs and cheese. Usually, it is baked until the crust is golden brown. I'd been thinking about making "something scalloped" since I tried the Jicama a few days ago. I stopped at the store on the way home and they didn't have any, so I decided to scallop and au gratin what I already had :) ... Sweet Potatoes.   I'm not adding Sweet potatoes to my "new veggie" list because I've tried them a zillion times before. But this is still the first time I've made them this year, and a different recipe that the usual baked potato, or roasted (with brown sugar) recipes.

Scalloped Yams Au Gratin with Toast
Prep Time: 30-40 min 


  1. 1 small sweet potato, thinly sliced
  2. 2-3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  3. 1/2 cup Non-Dairy milk
  4. 2 tsp minced garlic
  5. 2-3 tsp dried parsley flakes
  6. 2-3 tsp dried onion flakes
  7. 1 tsp Earth Balance buttery spread
  8. Salt, and freshly ground pepper, to taste.
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease s small casserole dish with the 1 tsp of Earth balance. Spread a single layer of sliced sweet potatoes, sprinkle with nutritional yeast and just a small pinch of salt. Repeat this process until all the potatoes are used up, sprinkling each layer with nutritional yeast and salt, and pepper (optional).

In a small mixing bowl, add non-dairy milk, garlic, onion and parsley flakes and season with salt and pepper. Whisk ingredients together. Add more nutritional yeast to thicken this mixture (optional). Without cheese, the nutritional yeast works really well to give this  recipe a creamy texture. Once well whisked, pour the mixture over the stacked potatoes making sure to cover the potatoes well.

Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for another 10 min, followed by 2-3 minutes of broiling.

My Assessment: I liked it. I would have liked a little crunch and something to chew on in this dish. I might add some sliced almonds the next time I make it.

My Interview by Happy Herbivore

Check this out :)

I was interviewed earlier this year by Happy Herbivore.

March 20, 2012

Kohlrabi Coconut Curry

I had 2 Kohlrabi (New Veggie #17) left over from the weekend and I also had some store-bought naan left over from my radicchio pizza also from the weekend. I was itching for some home-made subzi so that I could eat it with naan and this is what I came up with. 

Prep Time: 30 min.

  1. 2 small kohlrabi, finely diced (not like mine!). 
  2. 1 small onion, or a Leek, finely sliced (New Veggie #8). 
  3. 1 cup baby spinach  (or use Kohlrabi leaves)
  4. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  5. 2 tsp mustard seeds
  6. 2 tsp coriander powder
  7. 2 tsp cumin powder
  8. 1 tsp turmeric
  9. salt, to taste.
Preheat coconut milk in a deep pan and add spices. Cook for a few minutes to release the aromas and then add onion/leek and cook for a few minutes. Then add diced kohlrabi, cover and simmer until almost cooked. Add baby spinach or chopped kohlrabi greens, allow to wilt and serve with warm naan.

Nik's Reaction: He tried 1 little piece of kohlrabi and spit it back out!

My Assessment: This meal was reminiscent of evenings at home with a sabzi and roti and I really enjoyed the feel of breaking break with my hands and rolling it around the veggies. The mustard seeds and coconut milk gave this recipe a distinctive taste of Southern India. Next time, I'm going to make kohlrabi the Punjabi way - which is what I grew up eating. Kohlrabi get an awesome A++.

Jicama Chips

After 3 new veggies this past weekend, I still had one more left over from my weekend trip to the grocery store. New Veggie #18, the choice for today, is Jicama

Prep Time: 15-20 min

  1. 1 Jicama tuber, thinkly sliced
  2. Pam Olive oil spray
  3. Cayenne pepper, to taste
  4. Coarse sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F while cleaning and preparing slices of Jicama. Spread in a single layer on a cookie sheet sprayed with Pam and sprinkle cayenne pepper. Hold the salt until after the chips are done. Place cookie sheet in oven for 5 minutes, remove and turn chips over and return to oven until done. Once done, transfer to serving plate and sprinkle sea salt to taste. 

Jicama Chips
Nik's Reaction: Mom, I want some chips! He was surprised when he first bit into one, as he was expecting the crunch of a potato chip, and these had a different kind of crunch to them. He ate 3 and didn't want anymore. Oh well .. at least he tried them!

My Assessment: I really liked them. I think the texture was kinda like biting into a raw onion, soft, yet crisp and crunchy. I'm glad I used cayenne pepper as that enhanced the sweetness of the jicama.  I'll definitely make it again. 

Veggie Fact of the Day

The Sweet Jicama
The Jicama (also called Mexican Yam bean) is apparently quite popular in Mexican food. Even with my deep love and devotion for Mexican food, I don't remember having actually eaten it before. It looked a lot like a rather large turnip and when I cut into it, had the crunch of an apple. It is best described as crispy, sweet, edible root. When buying, go for the smaller sizes as those are sweeter and the larger ones are more woody. The Jicama is actually a leguminous plant, with its wines growing to be quite long (up to 20 feet). Each vine ends in the tuberous root which is pictured on the left. Before eating or cooking, the coarse brown outer layer of the tuber should be peeled to reveal the white inside. Jicama are especially rich in potassium and Vitamin C.

March 18, 2012

Veggie Fact of the Day

New Vegetable #17 - Kohlrabi (Kadam)
Kohlrabi, also called German Turnip, belongs to the cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts family. It is one of the most commonly eaten vegetables in Kashmir where it is eaten along with the leaves (haakh) and is often prepared as a Saag. In Punjab, it is know as Kadam ka Saag and the preparation includes the greens and finely diced bulbs, in a mustard seed based spice mixture (tadka). The texture of kohlrabi is similar to that of a broccoli stem or a cabbage heart. Earlier this year, I tried making celery root, and it also reminded me of Kohlrabi. The taste is mild, sweet and has a little bit of a crunch also after it has been cooked. In the USA, Kohlrabi is often eaten raw in salads. There are several varieties of Kohlrabi that are commonly available including one called the “Purple Danube” – which is bright purple in color, although the color is mainly superficial. The purple variety is sweeter and apparently tastier than the pale apple-green variety. While buying kohlrabi, look for smaller bulbs for their edible skin. Larger bulbs appear to have a tougher more woody skin and may need to be peeled. Kohlrabi are low in calories, and high in fiber like most vegetables. Their claim to fame is a very high potassium, calcium and Vitamin A and C content.

Kohlrabi & Leek Soup

Another weekend, another experiment for my New Veggie Quest. After using 2 new ones last night, I had simple meals for breakfast and lunch and then got the crock pot going for a warm 'no-hassle' dinner, for a rather stormy evening in Central Ohio. New Veggie #17 - Kohlrabi, is not really a new veggie to me, as we ate it a lot when we were kids. However, this is the first time I prepared it myself.

Kohlrabi &Leek Soup
Prep Time: 20 minutes set up; 4 hours on HIGH in a crock pot.


  1. 2 Kohlrabi bulbs, diced
  2. 2 Leeks, thinly sliced (New Veggie #8)
  3. 2 cups Vegetable broth
  4. 1 cup white button mushrooms, halved
  5. 1 large tomato
  6. 3 medium russet potatoes, quartered
  7. 2 links Vegan sausage, sliced
  8. 2 tbsp dried parsley
  9. 2 tbsp dried onion flakes
  10. 4-6 tbsp worcestershire sauce (to taste)
  11. Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  12. 1/2 cup Quinoa (optional)
Add all the above the ingredients to a crock pot, mix well and cook on HIGH until the chunks of potato and kohlrabi are well cooked and tender (about 4 hours). Check salt and flavoring, and adjust to taste. Garnish with freshly ground pepper and serve with toasted garlic bread. Yumm!

My Assessment:  This wasn't on my super-star meal list. But I did enjoy the flavors of kohlrabi in this soup. The use of leeks added the mild onion flavor I was looking for, without overpowering the kohlrabi. Next time, I will use larger chunks of kohlrabi and hold the vegan sausage (maybe the brand I picked up wasn't the best but I am not a fan after tonight!!). I think this soup gained nothing from the sausage. Overall a 7 on 10 for this dinner!!

March 17, 2012

Radicchio & Chanterelle Mushroom Pizza

This is my first posting under my New Veggie Quest which includes 2 new veggies. The honor of being New Vegetable #15 goes to Radicchio and that of being New Vegetable #16 goes to the Chanterelle Mushroom. I intended to only use Radicchio tonight, but the recipe I found on the internet for Radicchio required White truffle oil, which I didn't have on hand and I really wasn't in the mood for a trip to the store. A quick google search for substitutions revealed that I could use fresh truffles (right!! Big eye roll!), or I could substitute with any other type of fresh or dried mushroom with a strong flavor. I had just bought a small 1 oz pack of dried Chanterelle and suddenly, my dinner involved 2 new veggies :)

Radicchio & Chanterelle Mushroom Pizza 
Prep Time: 20 min


  1. One whole wheat Naan (Stone Fire). 
  2. 1 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread
  3. 1-2 tsp minced garlic
  4. 1 medium sized Radicchio, sliced
  5. 1 oz Chanterelle mushrooms, reconstituted.
  6. Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
Preheat oven to 375F. Melt butter for 10 seconds in microwave and brush half of it on top surface of the naan, then spread minced garlic all over the buttered naan. I used a naan as I already had some at home. You can use a couple of pita-breads or even home-made or store-bought pizza crust.  Place naan on a pizza stone or non-stick pizza sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, toss sliced radicchio, mushrooms, rest of the butter and salt and pepper. Remove naan from oven and add a generous heap the vegetable mix on top. Return to oven for another 7-10 minutes until radicchio appears wilted, and the crust is nice and crispy. Slice, and enjoy!! 

My Assessment: I really enjoyed dinner today. Li'l Nik stayed about a mile away from my pizza. I enjoyed the slightly bitter taste of the radicchio combined with the earthy mushroom flavor. I've always liked garlic pizza and would rather eat that instead of the red tomato sauce version, which would also work great with this recipe. I also like these mushrooms a lot, but I may be biased where mushrooms are concerned. I love all varieties I've tried in my life. 

Veggie Fact of the Day

Dried & Reconstituted Chanterelle Mushrooms
Chanterelle mushrooms are highly prized fungi. The fresh mushroom is orange or yellow, meaty and funnel-shaped, with gill-like ridges on the lower surface, underneath the cap. The fresh mushroom is rare. The flavor is often described as fruity (apricot like) and nutty with peppery notes. Chanterelles are high in vitamin C, potassium and are among the richest sources of vitamin D known, with ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) being as high as 2500 IU/100 grams fresh weight. Research has suggested that the Chanterelle may have potent insecticidal properties that are harmless against humans and yet protects the mushroom body against insects and other potentially harmful organisms. Dried Chanterelle mushrooms can be reconstituted by soaking them in warm water/broth for about 30 minutes or by added them to a simmering liquid 10-15 minutes before serving. The flavorful soaking liquid can then be retained for a sauce or soup.

Veggie Fact of the Day

Radicchio (Italian Chicory) is a leafy vegetable with white-veined red leaves. It is often confused with the purple cabbage but it actually belongs to Asteraceae, the lettuce, artichoke and sunflower family (Cabbage belongs to Brassicaceae). 

Radicchio have a bittersweet, spicy taste which is supposed to mellow when is grilled or roasted. It has been used in foods since ancient times - Pliny, the Elder wrote of it in Naturalis Historia, and harped about its medicinal properties claiming that it was useful as a blood purifier and as a sleep aid. In fact, radicchio does contains intybin, which is a sedative/analgesic so Pliny had it right all those centuries ago. 

Radicchio also contain very high levels of anthocyanins (duh! They're purple!). Most often, radicchio are used in fresh salads with lettuce and other spring greens.

Plant-Based in San Francisco!

The Palace Hotel
My first week-long trip away from home since I changed to a completely plant-based diet. It was primarily a business trip, combined with Anniversary and Birthday celebrations. Tony and I got to spend 1 day out of 6 together, and most evenings and all in all, it was a tiring and enjoyable trip.  Although I was just a tad worried about eating out so much, I was quite confident that I would have no trouble finding food suitable to my needs ... after all the destination was San Francisco.

Day 1 started out with a trip to China Town and our old favorite - The  Capital Restaurant. For dinner, and our 5th anniversary celebration, we stopped at Amber India on 4th Street for a superb vegetarian meal.  

Lunch at The Garden Court
Dinner at The Daily Grill
Day 2 started with a Soy latte from Starbucks for Breakfast. This was also the day which started off my long line of business meetings. I, and a current colleague, met with an old colleague and friend for lunch at The Palace Hotel's Garden CourtSunday Brunch is served from 10:30am until 1:30pm. The vast spread included an omelet station, a sushi & sashimi bar, Dim Sum and other Chinese delicacies, a seafood grill station, breakfast pastries & breads, a full salad bar, a Crepe station and a huge selection of desserts and pastries. (wow!). For my plate, I asked the Chef at the omelet station to saute an assortment of veggies for me without eggs or cheese. While she was taking care of that, I found a quinoa-berry salad with strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, a cold mushroom and broccoli salad, and a cold string bean salad with almonds. I also found a cucumber, olive and feta salad, tossed in garlicky vinaigrette. I had a serving of that as well (and picked away the feta cheese). When I went back for a second helping, I also found some sauteed asparagus. All in all, a lovely plant-based lunch. After an afternoon Soy latte, again from Starbucks, I was quite ravenous by dinner time, with some more business associates. We walked to The Daily Grill which is right in the heart of downtown, a block from Union Square. I was pleasantly surprised to find a Grilled Vegetable Plate on the menu. It was described as a medley of grilled vegetables, fresh steamed spinach, broccoli, grilled asparagus, sliced tomato and herbed brown rice. It was also listed as having only 419 calories. Yahoo!!!! 

Dinner at Chevy's 

Day 3 also started with a Soy latte from Starbucks for Breakfast. I cheated a little and also got a butter croissant with my coffee. For lunch, we visited John's Grill on Ellis Street. Similar to The Daily Grill, it is described as a Steak and Seafood place. I ordered a lunch salad with spring greens and cherry tomatoes and added a baked potato on the side. It was a very satisfying meal and I even chowed down on the potato skin which had been rubbed with a little bit of salt and was quite yummy. I didn't take a picture at lunch, as this meal was a little more formal than some of the others. For dinner, we took only a short walk to the closest Mexican restaurant - Chevy's on 3rd street. The fresh salsa was amazing, it was made with fire roasted tomatoes and had just the right amount of bite to it. I ordered a Veggie Burrito, which was described as  fresh mesquite-grilled seasonal vegetables with jack, cheddar and cotija cheeses, fresh pico de gallo, black beans, rice and super hot salsa in a whole wheat tortilla. I asked them to hold the cheese which they did, but I forgot about the sour cream which showed up on my plate, and was easily removed. This was a great meal as well. 

Dinner at One Market
Day 4 started out the same as all the other days - with a soy latte from Starbucks. For lunch, we went back to Amber India, with some new clients, and enjoyed an amazing lunch buffet. There was a lot of vegetarian dishes to pick from and I cheated just a little bit ... I could not resist having 2 small pieces of their lamb curry .. the smells were reminiscent of my childhood and I indulged a little bit. Everything else was quite plant-based. For dinner, T and I were invited to an Alumni dinner for University of Texas (Go Horns!) Alumni at One Market Restaurant at the San Francisco Embarcadero. This was an amazing 3-course dinner. To start with, I had a lovely Beet carpaccio (radishes, fresh chevre, sherry vinaigrette) and I asked the chef to hold the chevre. For the main course, I had the Garden Greens Ravioli with walnuts, brown butter and parmesan, and again, I asked the chef to hold the parmesan, which they were quite happy to do. This was one of the few restaurants where I noted the menu was specifically marked with (v) vegetarian and (vg) vegan options. For dessert, I opted for a fresh fruit sorbet, which was excellent as well.  

Lunch on Day 5 was at the Mission Grille at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Since this is the hotel we were also staying at, and the weather was dreadfully rainy, this was a perfect place for lunch. We started out with fresh hummus and pita chips and I think everyone around the table ordered lunch salads. I opted for an Asian chicken salad, and asked the chef to hold the chicken. This was a great salad with local greens, soba noodles, cashews, wanton crisps and miso vinaigrette. No pictures again given the rather formal meeting. Dinner on Day 5 was shamefully meat-based. I didn't get a chance to research the menu and when we showed up, there was absolutely nothing on the menu that would fit my new plant-based lifestyle. Rather than walk out, and since my dietary changes are not religious or medical, but a personal choice, I decided to order as sensibly as I could. In the end, I ate pasta with garlic and olive oil with some shrimp and felt stuffed and bloated and this was a good reminder of why I love my new habits. See ... there's something good in everything!

Lunch at The Colorado Sports Bar
Day 6, our last morning in San Francisco, and also our travel day. Due to thunderstorms across the country and multiple flight delays, we boarded our first flight with nothing more than a bottle of water, and a bag of chips each. I had a Kashi bar, which I consumed while waiting in line at the security checkpoint. Not the healthiest options for breakfast. In Denver airport however, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I saw Hummus & Veggies on the menu at the Colorado Sports Bar. A healthy option? At an airport? Wow!! This was a basket full of fresh broccoli, carrots and celery, with a small bowl (~4-6 oz) of hummus and 1 warm pita, cut up into 4 pieces. It wasn't whole wheat, but I wasn't terribly upset about that. A great airport lunch!!! 

Overall, my first trip as a plant-based eater, was quite successful. One meal with no plants, and 1 meal with 2 tiny pieces of meat ... I consider that a success. Yay!!