Tag Archives: dessert
I love a good PB&J as much as the next guy, but sometimes I crave something that tastes a little more…adult.
Something magical happens when Granny Smith apples, red onion and balsamic vinegar come together – the combination of tart, sweet and tangy is one of my favorites. Usually, I get my fix in a salad (generally, it has the word “harvest” in the name), but I’ve been on a real sandwich kick lately. Slabs of browned tempeh make this a hearty lunch – and just so happen to be the perfect vehicle for a slightly-sweet balsamic marinade.
On its own, this sandwich is pretty heavenly, but as I sit here with half of it already in my stomach, I can’t help but think that a slice of vegan cheddar, melted til brown and bubbly, would transform this dish from sandwich to religious experience.
I’m not exactly sure how my love affair with pickled foods began, but I’m willing to bet that it started out for more aesthetic reasons than gustatory.
I am absolutely a sucker for packaging – who knows if those “Bed Head” products are any better than the generic, but every time I see those bright, eye-catching bottles, I contemplate shelling out the 13 bucks just to have it on my shelf. I think the same thing happens when I see pickled foods – there’s something about those beautiful glass Ball jars that fills me with nostalgia. After all, pickling is a great way to preserve fruits, vegetables and other foods from seasons past – opening a jar of pickled peaches is a perfect way to get a little taste of summertime, even in the dead of winter.
Aside from the symbolic cucumber “pickle”, almost everything and anything can be pickled and canned. Most people know pickled ginger from the pink stuff alongside their sushi, but I love it so much that I can pop the little slices as a snack. The apples provide color, and also soak up all that tangy, spicy pickled ginger flavor.
You’re probably noticing a theme so far, too – I am a big fan of flavor combinations. This single Ball jar plays host to lots of different flavors and textures – sweet, tangy, spicy, crunchy – and the longer it sits, the better it gets.
I tend to plow through my pickled foods fairly quickly, swiping a handful or two every time I go to the fridge, but if you plan to keep these for a long time or give them as gifts, you’ll want to process your jars in a hot water bath. I plan on writing a more detailed post about canning in the future, but in the meantime, you can read about processing your canned fruits, veggies and other foods here.
Pickled Apples and Ginger
Fills One Quart Jar
1 lb. ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
1 red delicious apple, sliced thinly
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cinnamon sticks, whole
2 star anise pods, whole
1. Sterilize a one-quart glass jar in boiling water. Dry and set aside.
2. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and cook ginger and apple slices until slightly softened. You should only need to cook it for about one minute. Drain in a colander.
3. In a saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir until sugar and salt have dissolved and bring to a boil.
4. Make sure apple and ginger slices are dried well, and transfer them to the jar. Insert the cinnamon sticks and anise pods, then cover with the vinegar mixture. The ginger and apples should be completely submerged in the liquid.
5. Lid the jar and allow it to cool before refrigerating. Allow flavors to mingle overnight, then enjoy in stir-fries, marinades, sauces, on sandwiches, or straight from the jar. The ginger and apples will keep for about six months in the refrigerator.
If you haven’t noticed, most of the dishes I make are “clean out the fridge”-type dishes. Rather than making a list and buying specific ingredients, my kitchen inspiration is instead guided by standing in front of the fridge thinking, “how can I put these things together?”
After a terrible experience in the past involving a very bitter breakfast quinoa, I thought I had been turned off the stuff forever, but since we had a bag of the stuff leftover from a cousin’s visit, I decided to give it a second try.
Quinoa is a pretty interesting food – while it looks like a grain, it’s actually a seed that, if not harvested, will sprout into a leafy vegetable. It has a pleasant nuttiness, is naturally gluten-free and boasts 8g protein per cooked cup – that’s nearly double the protein of cooked brown rice for about the same amount of calories.
Aside from the quinoa, these crisp peppers are filled to the brim with a variety of cooked veggies, some leftover soy sausage and topped with an easy tomato sauce. If you want to leave the soy sausage out, be sure to add some tomatoes or tomato sauce to the stuffing to keep it moist. These peppers are a great make-ahead meal too – they’re even, dare I say it, better the next day.
I parboiled my bell peppers before baking, but if you like a more robust pepper flavor, feel free to skip that step.
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
4 bell peppers, hollowed with tops removed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 large red onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 lb. button mushrooms, chopped
4 oz. baby spinach
6oz. soy sausage
Salt & pepper to taste
1. Parboil hollowed bell peppers for 3-4 minutes. Remove and place in a baking tray. The peppers should fit snugly.
2. In a large pan coated with non-stick spray, cook the onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms unless carrots are soft and mushrooms have cooked down. Add the baby spinach in handfuls – it will cook down considerably.
3. Squeeze soy sausage from its casing and mix into vegetables, enough to incorporate the sausage and warm it through. Add cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.
4. Divide the filling evenly between the four peppers, filling each one to the top. Top each pepper with a generous dollop of the tomato sauce. Pour a good amount of sauce in the base of the dish to ensure maximum moistness and flavor.
5. Bake peppers at 350º for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve with any remaining tomato sauce.
Nutrition per Serving: 297 calories, 7g fat, 46 carbohydrates, 19g protein.
Think outside the pepper: Try the quinoa-veggie filling in a burrito, over crisp romaine, or in your favorite stuffed cabbage recipe.
For the sauce:
1 small can tomato paste
2 cans stewed tomatoes
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup water
Pinch of sugar
1. Crush stewed tomatoes with fingers leaving it as smooth or chunky as you like.
2. Add tomato paste, vinegar, water and sugar. Mix well.