Fennel Slaw/Relish

Fennel, cucumber, radish pickle

So one thing you should know about me is that I eat a lot of pickles. I am always looking for good pickle recipes, and this was inspired by, of all things, rutabagas. I owe you a post on rutabagas – they are actually quite delicious when pickled.

Fennel, cucumber, radish pickle

Anyway, this was a recipe for fennel and rutabaga pickles, but I had cucumber and radishes on hand, so I experimented with a fennel, cucumber, and radish pickle. Wow. That blew my mind, and I made some more when fennel became available at farmers’ market.


Eventually, radishes reached their peak, so I substituted carrots instead. It’s still quite good, though a bit crunchier. If you are looking for something that will give you a zip and zing, these pickles are for you. They complement just about everything.

I find that these are best julienned, rather than sliced, but you’re welcome to experiment and give them a try.

spanish tortilla and fennel slaw

Fennel Slaw/Relish adapted from Wise Acre Eatery

  • 1 bunch radish or carrots, julienned
  • 4-5 kirby cucumbers, julienned
  • 1 fennel bulb, julienned
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced (I’ve also used green garlic)
  • 1 TB toasted fennel seeds (just heat them on a dry pan til fragrant and dark)
  • bunch of fennel fronds
  • 1 c apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 c water
  • 1 TB salt
  • 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
  1. Put radish/carrots, cucumbers, fennel, garlic, fennel seeds, some fennel fronds in a quart jar. If they don’t fit, you can separate the jars and make them more less equal- just leave about an inch or so of headspace for the brine.
  2. Boil vinegar, sugar, water, salt, and pepper flakes together until sugar dissolves. Simmer for a bit (3-5 minutes) and then immediately pour into the jars.
  3. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Serving suggestions:
on top of cuban black beans with goat cheese and cilantro, top of fried or boiled eggs, in tuna salad, added to broiled/grilled fish, taco topping

Also, if you have an excess of fennel fronds, you can chop them up and kinda mash them to make fennel vinegar:

  • 1 cup or more of white wine vinegar
  • fennel fronds, chopped
  1. Boil 1 cup of white wine vinegar.
  2. Put fennel fronds in a mason jar and mash them with a fork or back of a spoon.
  3. Add white wine vinegar and mash a bit more. Let cool to room temperature. If there is room, you can add 1 cup more of white wine vinegar or to the top of the jar.
  4. Refrigerate and use in place of regular vinegar in salad dressing recipes.
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Savory Roasted Tofu

June 3, 2012

I have this notebook full of recipes – when I encounter a new recipe, I write it down before I start cooking so I remember what to do, and sometimes I add notes to the book.

This recipe is from the beginning of the book, way back in 2008, and I didn’t find it impressive at first. However, I’ve changed a lot in the way I cook tofu, and I think I have a better grasp on how to best cook it.

This is a savory version of tofu, for when you want something not too Asian-based.

Savory Roasted Tofu (adapted from F. Pea)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB honey
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, microplaned
  • 1 block tofu, pressed for at least 20 minutes.
  • 2 handfuls of shiitake mushrooms, destemmed and sliced
  1. Mix the marinade (oil, vinegar, soy sauce, honey, thyme, mustard, garlic) and set aside.
  2. Chop the tofu into cubes and add the marinade. Make sure to coat tofu well (this is better done in a baking dish).
  3. Marinate overnight or at least 8 hours.
  4. When ready, preheat oven to 450 F. Put tofu without marinade (reserve the marinade) on a baking sheet and roast for 20-35 minutes, turning halfway through.
  5. Put mushrooms into the marinade and coat well. Place into the same oven and roast for 35-40 minutes until crispy and slightly charred.

Serving suggestions: in a hero/sub, on a salad, as a side dish…

The salad in the above photo is just a bowl of lettuce, some cauliflower and carrot chow chow, chopped tomatoes, smoked farmers’ cheese (from Chapel Hill Creamery), savory tofu and mushrooms. It was inspired by all the ingredients you normally use in a sandwich, and I wanted a breadless version.

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Spanish Tortilla, the easy way

spanish tortilla and fennel slaw

This is cooked more like a potato and onion frittata. You basically slice the potatoes and onions through the mandoline, and because the potatoes are fingerling, they will cook faster than normal potatoes. Add the scrambled eggs mixture and you’re almost done. Just add some shredded cheese on top, broil, and it becomes a savory brunch masterpiece.

Spanish Tortilla, the easy way

  • about 1 cup fingerling potatoes (Bluebird Meadows)
  • one vidalia onion
  • 4 TB butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs (Fickle Creek Farm)
  • dash of milk
  • parsley (optional)
  • a cup or so of shredded Chapel Hill Creamery Hickory Grove (cheddar would be a fine substitute)
  1. Slice fingerling potatoes and onion on a mandoline. You should have about 2-3 cups of potato-onion mixture.
  2. Heat butter on a skillet (a 9″ is fine) on med-high. Add onions, sauté until soft, then potatoes. Cook, continuing to stir, until potatoes are clear-looking. Add salt and pepper to taste, and “even out” the mixture.
  3. Beat 4 eggs with salt, pepper, and a dash of milk. Add to the skillet and lower the heat to a med-low. Cook until eggs begin to set at the sides (you can insert a thin spatula at the side and see if the eggs are solid).
  4. Turn on the broiler to high. Sprinkle parsley and cheese on top of the tortilla and place in broiler for 5 minutes or so, until the cheese melts or turns a little brown.
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Peanut “Noodle” Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

June 1, 2012

I love peanut noodle salad, but sometimes I don’t have the noodles and we have a glut of lettuce, so I thought I’d try using the lettuce as noodles. The rest of the ingredients came about from a traditional Korean dish called bimbopbap (rice bowl with mixed vegetables).

Spicy Peanut Dressing (adapted from La Dolce Vegan, by Sarah Kramer)

  • 3 TB peanut butter (I used Big Spoon Peanut Butter)
  • 2 TB water or vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 TB soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp agave
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 tsp ginger

To make the salad:

  1. Mix all of the ingredients above to make spicy peanut dressing (I usually just toss all of them into a food processor and blend). You want the dressing to be a little fluid, not thick, so add more water as necessary.
  2. Chop lettuce into thin strips, like noodles. Mix some of the peanut dressing with the lettuce, completely covering the leaves with the dressing. Put in serving bowls.
  3. Put the following on top of the lettuce (click for the recipes): roasted tofu, sesame cucumber pickles, steamed broccoli, radish salad, roasted mushrooms (toss sliced shiitake mushrooms with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and roast at 400 F for 20-35 minutes)
  4. Add more peanut sauce and garnish with scallions, if desired, and serve.
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Korean BBQ Tempeh

June 4, 2012

I used to eat lots of Korean BBQ (bulgogi) when I was younger. Since I don’t eat meat, I haven’t had it in a while, but the sauce can be modified easily for non-meat protein sources.

I usually make the BBQ sauce by sight so these are approximate measurements. Feel free to play around with the recipe. The longer you marinate, the better it will taste.

Korean BBQ tempeh

  • 4 TB soy sauce
  • 1 TB sesame oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced into half-moons
  • 1 package tempeh, cut into 1″ slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB roasted sesame seeds
  1. Mix all and let rest for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  2. When ready, add some sesame oil to a pan and heat on med-high. Add the tempeh mixture and cook until all sides are seared/browned.
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Pickled Sugar Snap Peas

Photo May 13, 3 32 40 PM

The problem with sugar snap peas is that even though you want to eat them straight off the vine, you will get full and there will be more peas than you can handle. Unfortunately, sugar snap peas don’t do very well post-picking stage, and they turn limp and — this is the most disappointing of all- bitter.

I’ve been meaning to try the Smitten Kitchen recipe for pickled sugar snap peas, and finally got a chance a month ago and I haven’t stopped since (though snap pea season is over now, at least for us in NC). All I can say is this is the recipe you want when you have an excess of sugar snap peas and don’t know what to do with them but you don’t want to cook them/roast them.

Just a note- follow her instructions exactly. I’m more used to pouring hot brine over vegetables, but peas are more delicate and don’t really need the hot brine. Also, you can probably eat them after one night- just have fun trying not to eat them all…

Photo May 24, 11 50 38 AM

(pickled sugar snap peas with tomatoes, smoked farmers’ cheese, fried eggs, and some arugula. easy breakfast.)

Pickled Sugar Snap Peas, from Smitten Kitchen (same recipe, with my notes added)

  • 1 1/4 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1 1/4 cups cold water (can put in freezer while vinegar mixture boils)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or pickling salt (no iodine!)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • about a 1 pound sugar snap peas, stems trimmed and strings removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced (I used green garlic cloves)
  • a couple pinches dried red pepper flakes
  1. In a saucepan, heat the vinegar with the salt and sugar until they are dissolved. Remove from the heat, and immediately add the cold water.
  2. When the vinegar mixture is cool, pack the sugar snaps, garlic and chile pepper flakes into a 1-quart jar and pour the brine over it. Seal the jar and put in fridge overnight.

Serving suggestion: with tomato wedges, or on top of an egg, or with some cheese. Definitely a party pleaser.

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Lentil “meatball” fritters, or how I ended up making an Indian-inspired meal

May 30, 2012

Sometimes being a vegetarian means I have to get creative with protein sources. I’ve always liked lentils, and I’m in search for the perfect lentil fritters.

So when I saw the recipe for lentil “meatballs,” I was intrigued. I ran into problems, though. I had no breadcrumbs. Or ricotta. And I didn’t cook the lentils completely- because I had the wrong kind of lentils and they were about to become very mushy. So I threw in lentils and water (normally, lentils soak up water like crazy, but they also end up being almost a lentil puree!) and the resulting mixture was most definitely not going to be shaped into meatballs – it was way too wet and I didn’t want to put in more flour.

So I told my partner to have pizza on speed dial, just in case, and took a deep breath and heated up a cast iron pan, added some oil, and made lentil pancakes. They were surprisingly good and reminded me of lentil puffs at Vimala’s Curryblossom cafe.

To complete the Indian-themed dish, I roasted cumin cauliflower, made some raita, tossed some lettuce, cucumbers, and radishes together and used raita as a dressing.

Lentil “meatball” fritters, heavily modified from Sprouted Kitchen

  • 2 cup cooked lentils (I used the orange kind- used in chana dal)*
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese (Elodie Farms)
  • 1/2 cup Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 cup parmesan
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seed, crushed
  • 2 TB parsley or celery leaves
  • fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp salt (to start)
  • 1 tsp freshly round pepper
  • 2/3 or more cup gluten free flour (I use Bob’s red mill)
  1. Mix everything but the flour.
  2. Stir in the flour and add as much 1/3 cup as needed to get a pancake-like consistency (not watery, but a little thick and fluid. certainly not play-dough shape for meatballs).
  3. Add salt to adjust for the increased flour.
  4. Sprouted Kitchen says to let it sit for 20 minutes, but I was hungry and heated up a cast iron pan anyway. The batter at the bottom will have been sitting for 20 minutes 🙂 I used canola oil to cover the bottom surface of the pan.
  5. Use a small ladle to make small circles of lentil mixture. You can tell it’s ready to flip when you see edges darkening and the top bubbling a bit (like pancakes).

*To cook lentils, put 1 cup washed lentils into 2 cups water or broth, bring to a boil and simmer away 15-20 minutes. They will boil over if you aren’t watching the pot (ask me how I know).

Roasted Cumin Cauliflower, adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped in florets
  • 2 tb olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put cauliflower florets in a baking dish in a single layer.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil until evenly coated. Add garlic, both cumins, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  3. Cook for 25-30 minutes, or until cauliflower has slightly browned. Toss/turn halfway through cooking if needed.

Raita (adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking)

  • 2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 peeled kirby cucumbers, grated and divided
  • 1 tb chocolate mint (any mint will do- it’s what I had in my garden)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin seeds (heat cumin seeds in a pan til fragrant or seeds turn brown)
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  1. Put all but the one extra grated cucumber in a blender and blend til smooth.
  2. Stir in the other cucumber and mix well.

Suggestion: Toss with shredded lettuce, or eat it straight up- it’s cooling and refreshing for summer months.

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