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 31 – Recipe: M Cafe’s Curried Cauliflower Salad

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If there is only one recipe you that bookmark on this blog, it should be this one. It’s a keeper. This is probably the most delicious salad I’ve ever had. Well, actually it’s a tie between this one and M Café’s Kale Salad.

This was the first M Café recipe I found online. I’ve made it a few times now and the only big thing I’ve changed from the actual recipe is the amount of salt I put in it. The first time I made it I followed the recipe exactly and it was way too salty, so much that it was inedible. It doesn’t even need half the amount of salt recipe calls for. I also only make half of the cashews because it’s kind of unnecessary to make 2 cups when the recipe only calls for a 1/2 cup.

The chopping is somewhat laborious but believe me this salad is a labor of love – you will be so happy when you’re eating it that you won’t care that it took you almost 2 hours to prepare.

So here it is, slightly adapted from the Los Angeles Times version: (here is the easier-to-read version from epicurious.com)

M Cafe’s Curried Cauliflower Salad

For the cashews:

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 1/2 tablespoon maple syrup, preferably grade B
  • scant 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • pinch sea salt

For the curried cauliflower:

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Pinch dry mustard
  • 2 tablespoons (1/2 ounce) peeled and minced fresh ginger
  • 2.5 – 3 heads cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 8 cups)

For the Salad

  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or agave
  • 1.5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • curried cauliflower
  • 1 cup fresh or previously frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced dried apricot
  • 1/2 cup curried cashews
  • 1/2 cup (1/4 bunch) roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the maple syrup, curry powder and salt. Toss the cashews with the spiced maple syrup, then spread again on the baking sheet. Roast for 8 – 10 minutes until fragrant and golden brown (be careful not to burn!). Remove from heat and cool well. This makes more cashews than are needed for the remainder of the recipe; the cashews can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container.
  2. Increase oven temp to 400°F. In a (very) large bowl or pot, whisk together the olive oil, curry powder, salt, cumin, coriander, mustard and ginger. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to combine and evenly coat.
  3. Spread the florets in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast until golden-brown and aromatic, 20 – 30 minutes, tossing once or twice for even cooking. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  4. For the salad: In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the agave syrup, lemon juice and olive oil to form finishing syrup. Set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, peas, bell pepper and apricots. Pour over half of the finishing syrup and toss to combine. Stir in the cashews, cilantro and salt. Taste, adding additional finishing syrup if desired and adjusting the seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours to give the flavors time to marry before serving. This makes about 8 cups salad.

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Disclaimer: this is not my recipe!

I usually pour all of the dressing over the salad. The original recipe calls for less apricots but I really like them in the salad so I add more.

Make this salad ASAP!

 

 

 

Day 22 – Recipe: M Café’s Scarlet Quinoa Salad

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After I found M Café’s Kale Salad recipe, I wanted to see if I could find any of their other recipes online. To my surprise I found quite a few! Their Scarlet Quinoa Salad is another one of my favorites. I remember trying to copy it years ago and it didn’t turn out anything like the real thing. This time, it was perfect! And thankfully it didn’t take as long to make as the Kale Salad, it was pretty quick and easy.

The pink color comes from cooking the quinoa with diced beets. Above I served it with Umeboshi Radishes (I’ll have that recipe tomorrow), the flavor went perfectly with the Umeboshi-lemon dressing on the salad. I found the recipe on the LA Times website.

M Café’s Scarlet Quinoa Salad

Umeboshi-Lemon Dressing

  • 2 teaspoons umeboshi (ume plum) vinegar (I used Eden Foods brand)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons dill pickle juice
  • 1 Tablespoon best-quality olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, pickle juice and olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until needed. This makes one-fourth cup dressing.

Scarlet Quinoa Salad and Assembly

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red beets
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup diced seedless or Persian cucumber
  • 2 teaspoons chopped scallions or chives
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • Umeboshi-lemon dressing
  • Sea Salt

1. Wash the quinoa under cold running water in a fine strainer. Drain well.

2. In a 2-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the beets, vegetable broth, olive oil and lemon juice. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook the quinoa until the grains are translucent and tender and the germ has spiraled out from the grain, about 15 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Turn off burner and keep the pot on hot burner for 10 more minutes to finish cooking.

3. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and transfer to a baking sheet. Refrigerate the grains, uncovered, until cool.

4. Fluff the cooled grains and place them in a large bowl. Gently stir in the cucumber, scallions, dill and lemon zest. Stir in half of the dressing, then taste the salad and add additional dressing or salt as desired.

Serves 8 as a side dish.

Fluffed Quinoa:

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Cooling Quinoa:

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Chopped cucumber, scallions, dill and lemon zest:

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Finished Salad:

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I ended using all of the finished dressing on the salad.

You don’t have to use a baking sheet to cool the quinoa, but I found that using one cooled it much faster than if I had just left it in the pot.

Eat cold or room temperature and enjoy!!

 

Day 21 – Recipe: M Cafe’s Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

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I mentioned before that I used to work at M Cafe de Chaya in Los Angeles. M Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants ever, and their Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut dressing is the best kale salad I’ve ever had.

I found the recipe online pretty easily the other day, and I don’t know why I hadn’t tried to look for it before. I made it last night and even though it didn’t taste exactly like what I remembered (I think it was the peanut butter I used, I used roasted, they might use raw peanut butter), it was pretty damn close. It was worth the hour and a half it took me to make it. I was transported back to LA in a single bite.

I doubled the recipe cause I wanted to make sure I had enough salad for a few days… in hindsight I should’ve tripled the amount of kale cause it cooked down a lot. I still have about a cup of dressing left over but I plan to buy more kale tomorrow so I can make this again. I could eat this every day, it’s that good.

This is where I found the original recipe. I take no credit for this! I really didn’t change anything except doubling it and cutting down some of the onion.

M Cafe’s Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut dressing

Ingredients

  • 4 large bunches kale
  • 1/2 small red onion
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped

Spicy Peanut Dressing*

  • 1 cup unsalted peanut butter
  • 3 T raw honey
  • 1/4 cup low sodium tamari
  • 1/4 cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ginger, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1- 3 oz hot water (more or less for desired dressing thickness)


Directions

Wash kale. Use kitchen scissors to remove leaves from stems. Discard stems. 
Add a pinch of Salt to a pot of boiling water, then blanch the Kale for 2 min. 
Remove the Kale from the boiling water and shock it in a container of ice water. 
Finally, squeeze the excess water out of the cooled Kale.

To make Spicy Peanut Dressing: Place all dressing ingredients except hot water into a blender or food processor. Blend until mixture turns into a smooth consistency. Add hot water slowly and blend to desired thickness. Stir in 1/4 cup + 2 T of chopped peanuts, save remaining 2 T for garnish.

Drizzle the dressing on top of the kale and mix the kale and dressing together until kale is evenly coated. There will be dressing left over. Mix in sliced red onions. Serve with remaining chopped peanuts for garnish.


*Dressing stores well refrigerated for up to 6 weeks.

For me, the step that took the longest was cutting and blanching the kale. I had to do this in shifts cause I don’t own a big enough pot to blanch it all at the same time. If you have a big pot it shouldn’t take you an hour+ to make this.

I ended up using about 2 oz of hot water to thin my dressing.

If you’re not a big fan of spice, use half the amount of cayenne in the dressing.

Day 14 – Preserved Lemons

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I am ecstatic. Not only have I survived my first 2 weeks on my new diet and lost 5 lbs, but my preserved lemons are finally ready after a month of anticipation! And thankfully they are vegan so I can still eat them – I didn’t know I was going to have to go on this diet when I made them a month ago, I originally made them for a Moroccan Beef Stew recipe.

Preserved lemons are one of the most amazing things I’ve ever tasted. The first (and only) place I’ve ever had them was actually at Ken’s Creekside, the restaurant I wrote about yesterday. Mercer, the head chef, makes huge vats of them and puts them on salads and pizza. If you’ve never had them, I can’t really describe the taste because it’s so unique, but if you can imagine what a salty lemon pickle might taste like, that’s sort of it.

Preserved lemons are typically made with meyer lemons. Last month my favorite grocery store had bags of them on sale so I brought one home and browsed the internet for a recipe. I take zero credit for this one, it is not mine, I just followed it. You can find it here:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Preserved-Lemons-231570

I didn’t have any coriander seeds so I skipped that part but I put all the other spices in. Make sure you use a good salt, like sea salt or Himalayan salt.The recipe is super easy, it only takes about 10 minutes to cut and salt the lemons. The only annoying part is the waiting, because once you jar it you have to leave it on the counter for 30 days before you can open it. I didn’t have a mason jar so I just put it in an old almond butter jar, I figured if it was moldy when I opened it I would just throw it away but thankfully it was absolutely fine. I shook the jar almost every day to make sure the juices permeated all of the lemons.

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I think you can use the whole lemon, but I’ve only ever eaten the peel so I discarded the inner part and sliced the peel to put in my salad.

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SO yummy!!! I’m so happy cause now I have enough lemons to put in my salad for a month. Today I put them with some butter lettuce, spinach, chopped apple and green onions. I made a light dressing with a little bit of olive oil, coconut aminos and apple cider vinegar.

Image It was so good I think I’m going to stop writing to eat another salad. 🙂