Easy Recipe for Tofu Feta Cheese with Oregano and Carrot Salad

Tofu is my go-to ingredient when I have to make vegan dishes high in protein and calcium and low in fat.  I love tofu because of its versatility: you can stir fry it, drop it in soups, or in may cases replace cheeses, eggs, and heavy cream with it.  My favorite recipe is broiled or seared tofu, but usually try to adapt tofu to fit within traditional Mediterranean recipes.  In this recipe, I use vegan tofu feta cheese to add protein to this salad.  This salad contains an array of textures and flavors; however, what makes it more special is you can use it as stuffing for great sandwich.

Tofu Feta Cheese with Oregano and Carrot Salad

serves 4-6

4         carrots, peeled and cut into this slices

4         small cucumbers, diced

1         sweet onion, julienne

2         cup chopped fresh oregano

1         cup crumbled vegan feta cheese

1/4     cup lemon juice

6         tablespoons olive oil

zest of one lemon

-Place the vegetables in a chilled bowl and toss well.  Whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil and the lemon zest.  Drizzle the dressing over the vegetable and toss well.

-Sprinkle with the vegan feta and serve.

Recipe for Vegetarian Stuffed Eggplant with Cilantro Pomegranate Sauce

I always say that the eyes eat before the mouth. This  eggplant dish has it all. It has the looks, the texture, the health and it tastes great.

Stuffed vegetarian eggplant

serves 4

4       inches long eggplants

1/4   cup olive oil

2       medium onion, chopped
1       cup crushed tomatoes

1/2   cup pomegranate molasses

1/2   teaspoon ground coriander

For the sauce

1       cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4   cup tahini paste*

4       cloves garlic, mashed

1/2   cup lemon juice

1/4   teaspoon ground cumin

salt to taste

For the topping:

1/2   cup cranberries

1       cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2  cup chopped scallions

1/4   cup  pine nuts

-Cut the eggplants lengthwise and place cut side up on cookie sheet.  Brush with olive oil and broil until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

-To make the stuffing: Heat couple tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onions for five minutes.  Add the coriander, half of the garlic and stir for few seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes, the pomegranate molasses, 1 cup of water, salt and pepper.  Bring to boil.  Adjust the seasoning, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.

-To make the sauce: Whisk the rest of the garlic with the Greek yogurt, the tahini, the lemon juice, the cumin and the salt together into smooth paste.  Add little water if the sauce is too thick to spread.

-To make the topping: Heat the rest of the oil.  Stir in the pine nuts and toss for couple minutes.  Add the cilantro and the cranberries .  Mix and remove from the heat.

-Place the broiled eggplants cut sides up on baking dish.  Spoon the stuffing over the eggplants.  Cover with foil and bake in 395 F. degree oven for 25 minutes.

-Pour the yogurt tahini sauce over the eggplant, sprinkle with the topping and the scallions. Serve hot with rice.

How to Broil Tofu…and Loving it

Most people dislike tofu because it has no texture or taste; I love it for that reason.  You can adapt the tofu  to any flavor or texture.  I use the tofu instead of cream, cheese or mayonnaise. As for the texture, I either puree or broil to get different texture.  I found that freezing the tofu changes it texture and then, after broiling it firms up so it can be use like cheese slices for sandwich or cubes over salad.  The tofu will soak in the flavor of any marinade so get creative.

12       ounce firm silken tofu

2         clove garlic

4         tablespoons olive oil

2         tablespoons ketchup

1/4     teaspoon thyme

1/8    teaspoon freshly grind ginger

-Freeze the tofu for 24 hours.

-Remove from the freezer and allow the tofu to thaw for 4 hours.  Take the tofu to the sink, open the box and drain the water.

-Gently slice the tofu into 1/2 inch thick slice and place on kitchen towel.  Place another kitchen towel on top and press gently.

-In a bowl, mix the garlic with olive oil, the ketchup, the thyme, and the ginger.  Mix well.  Gently dip each slice of the tofu in this marinade, and then place on cookie sheet.

-Broil the tofu for 5 minutes or until the tofu is golden brown.  Remove, cool and serve over mixed baby green for great salad.

Easy Recipe for Making Pickled Stuffed Peppers

Every Saturday, I stop by the local Farmer’s market and wander through the stalls picking up one pound of this and that and then end up with large box of great vegetables.   Then, I go home to find baskets of vegetables from neighbors and friends.  When most people panic at the sight of all these vegetables, I rejoice.  Of course, I would make Ratatouille, pasta sauce, couscous first. But with all of the left over vegetables, which is still a lot, I use them to make pickles—pickled turnips, pickled cucumbers, pickled vegetables and my favorite, pickled stuffed peppers. Yum.

Pickling vegetables is an ancient way  of preserving vegetables, and I for one still love doing it.  It is an easy and delicious way to save your summer vegetables as we drift towards the winter months.   The pickled vegetables makes an excellent side dish that the only preparation is to open the jar and serve.  I use the same brine to make all the pickles: water, salt, vinegar and beet for the color. You can chop the vegetables, stuff them in a jar, pour the brine and wait.  However, I love pickled stuffed peppers.  They looks and taste great.  Take a look.

Pickled Stuffed Pepper

serves 4

4        medium size bell peppers of any color

2        cups small cauliflower florets

1        cup coarsely chopped green cabbage

2        carrots, diced into 1/2- inch cubes

2        turnips, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1        jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced

1       beet, cut into 1-inch cubes

1       clove garlic, peeled

3       tablespoon sea salt

1/2   cup vinegar

slice of lemon

Large class jar

-Mix the salt with the vinegar and 12 cups of water.

-Gently remove the tip of the bell pepper and then remove the seeds gently, make sure not to break the peppers.

-Mix the cauliflower florets with the diced carrots, diced turnips, chopped cabbage,  and diced jalapeño pepper.  Hold the cored pepper with one hand and then start to fill the cavity with vegetables mixture.  Try to stuff as many as you can without to breaking the pepper.  Repeat until you stuffed the rest of the peppers.

-Place the garlic, the beets and the lemon slice at the bottom to the class jar.

-Gently place the stuffed peppers inside the jar.  If you have extra vegetables place them in the space between the pepper inside jar.

-Pour the vinegar and salt brine over the vegetables.  Make sure the brine cover all the vegetables with about 1 inch of brine over the vegetables.

-Leave the jar for a week and then enjoy.  You don’t need to refrigerate the pickles.

How to Make Dairy Free Parmesan Cheese?

Let me start by apologizing to all the Italians.  I’m sorry for referring to this recipe as the one for Parmesan cheese.  However, this is what I set my talent on making for the vegans out there.  I have many customers do not consume dairy, and I wanted them to be able to experience the delectable taste of Parmesan cheese.

Using almonds in this recipe makes the cheese a healthier option due to the endless health benefits of this tasty nuts.

Dairy Free “Parmesan cheese”

Makes 1 cup

1       cup slivered almonds

1       clove garlic

1/2   jalapeño Pepper

1       teaspoon chopped sage

1       teaspoon chopped rosemary

2      slices fresh lemon

2      cups water

1       tablespoon sea salt

-Pour the water and the salt into small saucepan.  Mix well.

-Place the garlic with the sage, the pepper , the lemon slices and the rosemary in two layers of cheesecloth, tie well and then place in the  saucepan.

-Bring the salted water with the herb bundle to a boil.  Remove from the heat, add the almonds and set aside to cool.  Leave the almonds in the brine for 8 hours or over night.

-Remove the herb bundle, drain the brine and then spoon the almonds on cookie sheet.  Heat oven for 250 F. degree and bake the almonds for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the almonds to cool for couple hours.

-Grind the almonds in food processor or clean coffee grinder into fine powder.  Save in tight container and use the same way you would use Parmesan cheese.

Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli Appetizer

This recipe is crazy simple and it tastes delicious! What more could you ask for? You can easily make this appetizer in under 3 minutes, but the colors and the the flavors of this dish will make it look like you spent hours in the kitchen.

I made this dish as part of the collection of recipes that you can cook in a college dorm.  Although, this recipe could be served in five star restaurant and impress the hardest critic.  And for those of you who do not like cauliflower, you will after tasting this.

Easy Cauliflower and Broccoli Appetizer

serves 4

1/2       head white cauliflower cut into 4 sections

1/2       head purple cauliflower cut into 4 section

1/2       head broccoli cut into 4 section

for the sauce

6         cloves garlic, mashed

2         teaspoon fresh ground coriander

1/4     cup pomegranate molasses

1/2     cup lemon juice

zest of one lemon

1/4     cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt to taste

-Place the cauliflowers and the broccoli in microwave safe platter.  Cover with paper towel, sprinkle with water and then microwave the vegetable on high for 2 minutes.

-To make the sauce: Whisk the garlic with the coriander, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, lemon zest, cilantro and salt.  Taste to adjust the seasoning.

-Take the vegetables out of the microwave, drizzle the pomegranate sauce over them and serve.

Got Tomatoes? Make this Great Simple Pasta Sauce

I love tomatoes, and I never have a problem finding a way to eat them.  I have fresh tomatoes with couple of olives and toast for breakfast, have tabbouli with extra chopped tomatoes for lunch and a sliced tomato as a side dish for dinner. At this rate, I may cause the extinction of tomatoes by 2025.

At this time of the year, I love picking fresh vine tomatoes from anyone who offer them for me. When I return to my  kitchen and ponder on what to make, this easy tomato pasta sauce is the first recipe that comes to mind.  My family loves it and it is a piece of cake to make.

Fresh Sauce Pasta

serves 4

5           medium ripe yet firm tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch thick cubes

8          scallions, chopped

1/4      cup chopped fresh basil

1          clove garlic, chopped

1/4      cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1         pound short pasta

2         freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

-Bring salted water to boil in pasta pot.  When the water boil, drop the pasta, stir and bring back to a boil.  Boil the pasta for 7 minutes or until the pasta al-dente.

-Just 1 minute before the pasta is done, heat the olive oil in large saute pan and cook the vegetables for 1 minute.  Drain the pasta well and add to the vegetables.  Stir, add the salt, the pepper, the garlic and the basil.  Turn off the heat and serve.

This pasta dish is great hot or cold.