Saturday, February 25, 2012

Vegan Valentine

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays to get creative as a vegan chef because it features the theme of love and the opportunity to use aphrodisiac ingredients like avocados, asparagus, dates and of course... chocolate.  What better way to show someone how much you love them than by cooking a fabulous meal for them?

This intimate dinner for two began with an amuse bouche of Toast Points with Basil Oil and Sundried Tomato Butter.  This little teaser did the trick for satisfying a bread craving, despite my adherence to gluten-free.

The salad that followed was a luscious ripe Avocado Topped with Red Sand Spice Blend, Campari Tomatoes and Pea Shoots.  Even in February these were all tantalizingly flavorful.

The main course for the evening was Crispy Tofu with Horseradish Cream, Steamed Asparagus with Basil Oil, and Red and White Quinoa.

 Ohhh.... the flavors.  You'd never imagine they'd blend so well together, but they did... visually, too.

And they even looked pretty as an emulsion topped with green hearts!

The two-part dessert began with Chocolate Covered Strawberries (how could it not?) and was then to be concluded with the grand finale of a Chocolate Pudding Parfait, but instead that became breakfast the next day.  So much food!

It was fun putting these together, and you'd never guess the raw chocolate pudding was made with avocados, dates, and cocoa powder.

A fairly healthy ending to an otherwise decadent meal.

Friday, February 10, 2012

This Week's Menu

This week the birds started singing their pre-spring songs and I started thinking about pre-spring veggies... asparagus, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts.  I also tossed in some spices and made some soups to warm things up since, despite the warmer weather, it's still getting pretty chilly at night.  That didn't stop me from making a bunch of salads, however.  It seems I can't get enough of avocado lately.

The first entree featured Pan-Fried Tempeh with Wild Rice Pilaf and Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Asparagus and Cauliflower.  Roasting these veggies brings out their natural sweetness.  My favorite part are the crunchy little edges, or even entire leaves of Brussels sprouts that verge on being overdone.  Super sweet treat!

Entree #2 was a Mediterrannean Pasta tossed with Toasted Pine Nuts, Sundried Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, Cannelini Beans, Fresh Basil and Baby Spinach.  A generous drizzle of olive oil and sauteed garlic add depth of flavor to the dish.

The last entree is kinda summery, but I was being hopeful.  I like Barbecue Tofu any time of year, and paired with Mashed Potatoes and Dijon Green Beans, it made me dream of sultry afternoons followed by relaxed dining al fresco.  Ahh... that is the life.

My Tale of Two Salads began with a Red Leaf Lettuce Tossed with Tahini Dijon Vinaigrette plated in a bowl lined with Cucumber Rounds and Cherry Tomato Halves.  Simple, delicious and beautiful.

The second salad was inspired by the first, and included cucumber triangles, tomato wedges, lovely red leaf lettuce, and more of that savory dressing, this time enhanced by horseradish.  Yeah, a little spice is what we all need.

And then there's soup.  This one was a hearty Minstrone featuring broccolini, baby spinach, potatoes, carrots and fire-roasted tomatoes in the mix.  Perfect for after a hike.