Recipe: Spinach Fig Salad

First and foremost, your favorite bummed out baker (I hope that’s me) is PUBLISHED! I tied for third place in a flash memoir contest (750 words or less) put on by Writer Advice. I wrote about the last time I saw my brother, which was about ten months ago. I visited him under the bridge he was living under. Read my piece called “The Bridge” here.


Greetings! If you live in NYC you know spring has semi-sprung, but who knows. I’m actually still bummed out about the fact we didn’t get a terrible, north-of-the-wall-type winter including several feet of snow that requires staying indoors for unending weeks of darkness and the family golden retrievers to high step around in the snow shoes they hate, (deep breath) but I’m trying to get on board with sunny weather.

I know I’m a bit premature on the fig scene (optimum time = summer), but this salad is so simple, lovely to look at and tasty and can inspire your salad creations for months to come. It’s an easy, healthy recipe and the dressing is so good it makes me mad. I licked the spatula. :(

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/3 c walnuts, roasted
1/2 c olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T dijon mustard
1 t maple syrup
1/2 t sea salt
1/2 t freshly ground pepper
2 big, giant handfuls fresh spinach
4 figs, halved
1/2 avocado, sliced
~1/4 red onion, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and roast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet for five minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. Combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, dijon, maple syrup, sea salt, and pepper in a blender and set aside.
  3. Assemble salads, dividing ingredients evenly between two plates: spinach, figs, avocado, onion, walnuts and, finally, drizzle it all with dressing. Serve immediately.
undressed (just like that MTV show from the early 2000s)
dressed to impress
tastebuds will be wilin’

Serves two, or perhaps one ravenous person.

There will be leftover dressing, which is something to rejoice about. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week for future salad concoctions, or drink it straight.

Adapted from Spinach Fig Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette.


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Recipe: Shredded Broccoli Salad

This recipe is one of those mystical, magical gems that is both easy to make and addicting.

Ingredients

1/2 red onion
1 head of broccoli
1/2 c dried cranberries
1/2 c sliced almonds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
1/4 c Organic Vegenaise
1 T lemon juice
1 T rice vinegar
1 T sugar
1 t sea salt
black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Using the grater disc in a food processor, shred onion and broccoli, including the stalks.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together shredded mixture, cranberries, almonds, and sunflower seeds.
  3. Whisk together Vegenaise, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, sea salt, and pepper.
  4. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and stir to combine. For flavors to mingle, allow salad to sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving.

Adapted from Shredded Broccoli Salad.


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Recipe: Mango Salsa

Hello! Today I bring you a simple recipe. It is raw and vegan with a kick of spice balanced out by the sweetness of mango. Bonus: Rick the meateater loves this highly nutritious salsa. But first, there’s something I want to share.

Last semester I had a classmate who came to class one day not their typical, smiling self.

I asked them in private if everything was okay, and they responded, “Yeah, I’m just sad.”

“Oh! I understand that,” I said, familiar with the feeling. “I’m sorry,” I concluded, nodding with a soft smile. I turned my attention back to my own business and continued unpacking my belongings for class.

Later I realized how refreshed I was by their candor and admittance to simple sadness. I think so often we try to “fix” things for people or point out the silver-lining, but it’s so important to allow ourselves and each other to experience our full range of emotions without hindrance. Sadness is our minds exorcising something, and in that way I think it’s necessary to feel sad sometimes.

With that being said, I should be clear that sadness is not depression, but in the same vein as the situation described above, how cool would it be if we lived in a society where someone could ask a depressed person how they are and they could simply tell the truth without stigma, pity, or someone swan diving into their life to try to get them to “cheer up”?

Something to ponder…

Now, mango salsa:

Ingredients

2 ripe mangos, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c red onion, chopped
1/4 c packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 large lime, juiced
1/2 t sea salt, more to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Eat with chips, in cucumber boats, in tacos, or on salads.

Will keep in the fridge for about a week.

Adapted from Fresh Mango Salsa.

Recipe: Cauliflower Queso

Howdy! If you’ve visited or hail from the great state of Texas, you know that queso is a Tex Mex staple. If you don’t know, queso is Spanish for cheese and is also a liquidy, cheesy heaven of a dip. I’m here with a cauliflower(!) version so you can indulge your craving without guilt.

Ingredients

1/4 c raw cashews, soaked in hot water for one hour
2 T organic Earth Balance
1 yellow onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 large cauliflower head, chopped
1/2 c vegetable broth
1/3 c + 2-3 T coconut milk
2 sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 c nutritional yeast
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t chili powder
1/4 t turmeric
1/2 t sea salt, more to taste
tortilla chips or crudité for serving

Instructions

  1. Poor boiling water over cashews and allow to soak for one hour. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet heat butter over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeños and sauté for about six minutes, stirring occasionally. Then, remove about half of the onion/jalapeño mixture and set aside.
  3. Stir cauliflower and vegetable broth into the remaining half of onion/jalapeño mixture, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender.
  4. Add cauliflower mixture to a food processor or high-powered blender along with remaining ingredients, including cashews. Blend mixture until smooth. If too thick, add additional milk 1 T at a time until desired consistency is achieved.
  5. Taste queso and add more sea salt, if desired.
  6. Transfer queso to a large bowl and stir in remaining onions and jalapeños. If desired, top with fresh jalapeños or cilantro.
  7. Serve immediately with tortilla chips or crudité.

This recipe creates a vat of cauliflower queso. I advise freezing most of it in small portions and, when ready to eat, move from freezer to fridge 24 hours in advance and then reheat on the stove. Consume unfrozen queso (or incorporate it into another recipe calling for cheese sauce) within one week.

Super into cauliflower? Buy too much cauliflower for this recipe? Try one of these recipes:

Spiced Cauliflower with Feta
Roasted Garlic Cauliflower

Adapted from Vegan Cauliflower Queso.


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Recipe: Mujaddara

Mujaddara is a Lebanese dish, but I’ve also seen it associated with Jordan and Iran. I believe the origins are regional and predate today’s borders, but if you have more info please let me know in the comments below.

This recipe is simple,  savory, and an unsuspecting crowd pleaser. The caramelized onions are heaven and the vibrant spices bring the dish to life. Rick houses it.

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Ingredients

1 c lentils
1/2 c olive oil
1 t cumin seeds
1/2 t black peppercorns, cracked or whole
3-5 red onions
2 t sea salt
3/4 c brown basmati rice
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t cayenne
1″ cinnamon stick
3 c water
1-2 lemons
2 T pine nuts, toasted (optional)

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  1. Put lentils into a medium saucepan and cover them with about an inch of cold water. Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the lentils cook, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat for a minute. Add cumin seeds and peppercorns, occasionally shaking the pan until the cumin seeds darken, about one minute.
  3. Sauté onions and 1/2 t sea salt, stirring often. The onions are done when they’re dark brown in color with slightly crispy edges. This will take about ten minutes.
  4. With a slotted spoon, move about half of the onions to a tea towel or paper towel-lined plate. These are for garnish.
  5. Add ground cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon stick and sauté about one minute.
  6. Add rice, stirring often until some grains start to brown. In quick succession, add the cooked lentils, water, and remaining sea salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook 30 minutes.
  7. Keeping the lid on, turn off the heat and allow the rice mixture to steam for about five minutes.
  8. If using, toast pine nuts in a small skillet over medium-low heat about five minutes.
  9. Serve rice mixture with the reserved onions, a squeeze of lemon juice, and pine nuts, if using.

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Unlike the photo above, make a polished table presentation by filling a mold or small bowl with the dish and flipping it onto a plate.

Enjoy this mujaddara for lunch or dinner, as a side, or as a main course.

Serves four.

Adapted from Lebanese Lentils, Rice and Caramelized Onions.