Day 80 – Recipe: M Cafe’s Chickpea & Dandelion Salad (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

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Let me start off by saying that I really hate bitter greens. There are only a few vegetables that I don’t like – one of them is fennel, and the other is the entire bitter greens family (endive, radicchio, frisée, God I hate frisée). Dandelion greens definitely fall into that bitter green category. If you haven’t tried them, well, they are really bitter and pretty disgusting. So why in the world did I make this dandelion greens salad, you might ask?  I really don’t know. I guess it seemed like a good idea when I found the recipe.

I used to eat this salad when I worked at M Cafe in Los Angeles, and though it wasn’t my absolute favorite, I still liked it and ate it frequently. This is probably the only way you could ever get me to eat dandelion greens. The tahini dressing is really nutty and creamy, and the sweet caramelized onions are a great compliment to the bitter greens. It really is a tasty salad, and if you like bitter greens you will like this dish a lot.

Dandelion, albeit gross, is really good for you. It’s one of those cancer-fighting, antioxidant, calcium-rich superfoods. So I kind of forced myself to eat it… and truthfully I picked some of it out. I like everything in this salad but the damn dandelion. Honestly when I make it again I will probably swap it out for some Tuscan kale.

So since I made this salad sound so good, I’m sure you really want to make it now :). But it’s worth a try, it’s easy and doesn’t require a lot of chopping. I served it with the Eggplant Tabbouleh I wrote about last week and it was the perfect compliment. So if I haven’t scared you away yet, copy, paste and print (someday I will figure out how to make a print button for these recipes, I promise).

M Cafe’s Chickpea & Dandelion Salad

For Tahini-Lemon Dressing:

  • 2 T sesame tahini
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup + 2 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

For Frizzled Onions:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into paper-thin half moons

For Salad:

  • 2 15-ounce cans organic chickpeas, drained
  • 1 cup red Bhutanese rice (or short grain brown rice), cooked
  • 2 cups celery hearts and inside leaves, sliced thin
  • 3 cups fresh dandelion greens, washed, dried and chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For Tahini-Lemon Dressing:
Combine the tahini, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, cayenne pepper, sea salt and black pepper in the mixing bowl. Adjust dressing with additional sea salt, black pepper or lemon juice, to taste.

For Frizzled Onions:
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the yellow onions. Fry the onions over medium heat until golden brown and “frizzled.” Transfer to absorbent toweling to drain excess oil. Season with sea salt and reserve.

For Salad:
Combine the chickpeas, cooked rice, celery hearts and dandelion greens in a mixing bowl. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of frizzled onions to bowl. Moisten salad with about 1/2 of a cup of the Tahini-Lemon Dressing and mix well to combine. Taste salad, and adjust with additional dressing, sea salt and black pepper as needed. Transfer salad to serving bowl or platter and drizzle additional dressing, if desired. Top with additional frizzled onions to garnish. Serves 8.

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Pictured with Eggplant and Fresh Herb Quinoa Tabbouleh.

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Day 44 – Recipe: Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

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Oh man. I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since my last post. I do have an excuse though, I was in Northern California over the weekend for a family reunion and was fortunate enough not to have to cook at all. My Aunt Pamela, who is from Thailand, was a wonderful hostess and made amazing Thai food for all of us every day – it was such a treat!

I managed to stay vegan everyday except one, and I cheated very badly. My Dad’s birthday was on Saturday and I failed to resist his birthday cake. I normally don’t even like chocolate cake but this one just looked so ridiculously good – and it was. Once I’d eaten the cake I figured I’d already cheated and proceeded to eat slices from 2 other cakes, and a pie… oh my. Needless to say my stomach hurt like a motherf—er afterwards and I felt guilty as hell. Ah well. At least it was only one day.

I got back late last night and had no idea what I was going to cook today. We had an extra bag of baby carrots in the fridge so I started searching for vegan carrot recipes on Google. I came across this one on about.com and thought it sounded really good, Moroccan Vegetarian Carrot and Chickpea Tagine. I’m happy to say it turned out great, and I will definitely make it again. The most predominant spice is pepper so if you have an aversion to peppery dishes you might want to avoid this one, or add (a lot) less black pepper. I only changed a couple things from the original recipe, including using chopped dried apricots instead of raisins – I’m not a big fan of raisins. I take no credit for this recipe, but here is what I did:

Vegan Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 50 – 60 baby carrots, cut into thin sticks (I cut each into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on size)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, cut in quarters

In the base of a tagine or in a large skillet with a lid, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over low heat for several minutes, until soft.

Add the spices, cilantro, the carrots and the vegetable. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are cooked to desired tenderness. In a skillet about 25 minutes; in a tagine a bit longer.

When the carrots are cooked, stir in the honey and add the chickpeas and apricots. Continue simmering until the chickpeas are heated through and the sauce is reduced and thick, about 10 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning if desired, and serve. Serve hot with cous cous, quinoa, or bread.

Serves 4

I used a skillet and served it over quinoa. Really, really yummy! Plus this took me less than an hour from start to finish. Awesome.

 

Day 25 – Spiced Millet Falafels with Tomato Relish

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This was good but honestly not the best thing I’ve ever made. That statement really entices you to make this doesn’t it? Lol.

I kind of followed this recipe from Goop, Millet “Falafels” with Avocado + Tomato Relish. I did change some things so it’s not quite the same recipe, I also baked them at the end cause I wanted to make sure the middle was cooked. The falafels themselves were very tasty but the biggest flaw I think was the relish – if I were to make this again, I would omit the avocado and just make a tomato relish. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE avocado, I just don’t think it worked in this recipe. Also, I would wear gloves while cutting the jalapeno. I didn’t do this yesterday and my fingers were ON FIRE for 6 hours, it was horrible. So this here is what the future me would do:

Spiced Millet Falafels with Tomato Relish

for the falafel

  • 1/2 cup raw millet, rinsed
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup cooked unsalted chickpeas (garbanzo beans), crushed with a potato masher
  • 4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small jalapeno, minced (If you have sensitive skin, put on disposable gloves BEFORE chopping)
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 20 grinds black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • lemon wedges for garnish

for the relish

  • 1.5 cups chopped tomatoes (whatever’s best; I like Trader Joe’s High Lycopene Tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon preserved lemon peel, minced (if you don’t have preserved lemon, use 2 tsp lemon zest)
  • the other 1/2 of the jalapeno
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste

preparation

1. Start the falafel: Combine the millet with 1½ cups of filtered water and a big pinch of a salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover the pot, and cook until the millet is very soft and all the liquid has been absorbed, 25 minutes.

2. Meanwhile…for the relish: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, seasoning to taste with salt. Set aside while you finish the falafel.

3. Back to the falafel…Stir the chickpeas, scallions, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic and spices into the cooked millet. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Using a potato masher, crush the mixture until it holds together a bit.

4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

5. Set a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with a slick of olive oil. Using about 2 tablespoons of the mixture, make a patty by squishing into a ball and then slightly flattening between your hands. Repeat with the rest of the mixture. Put about 6 patties into the pan at a time and cook until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. Set the cooked falafels on the prepared baking sheet and cook the rest of the millet mixture, adding more olive oil to the skillet if necessary.

6. Bake all patties in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and start plating.

7. Cut the lemon into wedges, squeeze a bit of juice over each falafel. Put a spoonful of relish on top of each falafel and serve immediately.
yields ~12 falafel

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They really were good, I would make them again. I just think that after a week of amazing M Café recipes, this didn’t compare. If I had made this at the beginning of the week, it probably would have been more impressive. I served it with a Roasted Curried Broccoli, a recipe that definitely could use some work. When I get it right I’m sure I will post it.