Appetizers, Salads, Side Dishes

Barley Salad

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Barley Salad

I adapted this from a recipe in the Vegetarian Slow Cooker Cookbook and made it for Christmas dinner. Yes, Christmas. In case you haven’t already guessed, my life has been so incredibly hectic (for various reasons) that I have been sitting on a ton of recipes that need to be posted. I am trying to be better. I really loved this salad. It was garlicky and oniony and wonderful. I love those flavors. Most of the family wasn’t as excited about it as me because there are so many other wonderful, comfort-food-type things at a Christmas dinner, but I was proud to provide a healthy, fresh offering for those who wanted it. I haven’t made this since, but I have a feeling it’s going to appear often this summer when the air is full of heat and a chilled salad with a little bulk would be well-appreciated.

Barley Salad
1 cup uncooked barley
3 cups water or vegetable broth
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
6 green onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook the barley in the water or vegetable broth till tender. Let it cool completely.
2. Mix the barley, kidney beans, tomatoes, green onions, and celery in a large bowl.
3. In a lidded jar, combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. Shake well.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix.
5. Let it sit at least 2 hours (the longer it sits the better it is). Serve room temperature or chilled.

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Soups

Erin’s Bean and Olive Soup

Erin's Bean and Olive Soup

Erin’s Bean and Olive Soup

Winter is here at last! And Tucson has been hit by the same chilly stroke of arctic air that the rest of the country is dealing with. Sweater weather days are fewer here than in the northern parts of our country so we like to enjoy them when they happen. This started out as a recipe from “The Garden of Vegan” cookbook, but I didn’t have everything I needed, so I decided to make it my own. Which, if we’re being honest, is really the best part of cooking. I’m not sure I was a huge fan of the olives in this soup. I would rather just cram them all into my mouth as fast as possible instead of plop them into a pot of soup and wait around for everything to be finished. That said, this soup wasn’t half bad and I’ll probably make it again. Only next time I’ll put the olives on the side.

Erin’s Bean and Olive Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 medium carrot, diced
4 cups vegetable stock
1 small zucchini, diced
1-2 15-oz. cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz. can Kalamata olives, drained, pitted and sliced
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tomato, diced for garnish
parmesan or mozzarella cheese, to garnish

1. Saute the onions, garlic and carrots in the olive oil in a large soup pot on medium heat.
2. Add the vegetable stock, asparagus, zucchini, beans, olives, salt and pepper, oregano, basil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar and lemon juice.
3. Bring the soup to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
4. Simmer 10-15 minutes or till vegetables are cooked through.
5. Garnish the soup with the parsley and fresh tomato and cheese, if desired.

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Main Course

Cauliflower Agrodolce

Cauliflower Agrodolce

Cauliflower Agrodolce

I just tried this recipe from the “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites” cookbook last week. It was pretty good, though I’m not a huge fan of raisins in anything other than desserts. Next time I’ll probably just leave them out. That said, I think that’s largely a personal preference. I loved the sweet and sour nature of this dish. We had this with rice, but I could see where a little buttery couscous would also be delicious with this one. Try it with or without the raisins. See for yourself. I feel like raisins are things that people have strong opinions about. I have a feeling it has something to do with the amount of Sunmaid boxes they got as “treats” when they were kids on Halloween. I remember dressing up as a little old man when I was a kid (maybe 9 years old? And oh yes I DID) and getting so many raisins. I think the two are related. Give it a shot…this recipe, not the odd old man Halloween costume.

Cauliflower Agrodolce
2 cups onions, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
salt, pepper, and sugar, to taste

1. Saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil till tender.
2. Add the tomatoes, raisins and vinegar and stir to combine.
3. Cook for 5 minutes and add the cauliflower, stirring to combine. Cook another 10 minutes.
4. Add the salt, pepper and sugar, stirring. Cook 2-3 minutes or till the cauliflower is tender.
5. Serve alongside rice or couscous.

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Appetizers

Baked Asparagus Spears

This recipe from “PETA’s Vegan College Cookbook” isn’t asparagus-baking rocket science, but it’s still a keeper. I had never baked walnuts and asparagus together, which now shames me, as it was absolutely amazing. I actually don’t think I’ve ever baked walnuts at all before this. SO odd. Even the places that got a little scorched were tasty and crunchy. I just loved it! It’s one of my new favorite things! Just take a look at the picture below and those yummy little spears of asparagus spread willingly with chopped walnuts, hopes and dreams. The recipe from the cookbook had you snapping the asparagus spears into pieces and microwaving them. YUCK. What you see below is how you REALLY make asparagus and make it well.

Baked Asparagus Spears
1/2 pound fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper, to taste
chopped walnuts, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.
2. Spread the asparagus evenly across a baking sheet.
3. In a small bowl, mix together the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Sprinkle the asparagus with the chopped walnuts.
5. Pour the mixture over the asparagus as evenly as possible.
6. Bake the asparagus spears 10-15 minutes or till cooked through and soft (a little bit of overcooked crunch never hurt anyone).

Baked Asparagus Spears

Baked Asparagus Spears

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