Late Summer Harvest Market Mystery – Granny Smith’s Kohlrabi Salad



If you’ve read any part of this blog in the past, it’s certainly no mystery that I frequently troll local farmer’s markets. Or if they’re local to you, trust me I’ll drive.

There’s something about people with dirty fingernails offering me food. I would never dream of it anywhere indoors, but along a strip of folding tables, with the sun warming my back, that’s a entire other story.

It’s something to give food a life cycle and appreciation to the soil stained person who cared for it up until the moment of exchange. It not only makes me want to continue to do the food justice but it’s very nice to have an outlet that can still remind us where real food comes from.

The late summer market is filled with just about everything you can imagine. The hardy vegetables are out as well as the return of some of the cooler spring like produce. You’d think that I’d know what to expect, but from the same vendor with the beets, came a wonderful, alien like surprise.

I’ve had the green variety but the purple kohlrabi that greeted me at her table was delightful. Considering my purchasing patterns at the market in the past, I was destined to take this bulbous, multi-stemmed, crazy leafed, vegetable home for my very own. The stems some what reminding me of dragon fruit, kohlrabi, directly translated is cabbage-turnip. I would say it resembles a red cabbage the most, but with a much milder, less peppery flavour. It might look a little bit on the alien side with it’s tentacle like stems, but to let the scary appearance break your nerve. These vegetables are actually quite delicate and versatile. I chose to incorporate them raw into a salad, but I’ve read roasted, sautéed and steamed recipes and they all sound great.
Continue reading Late Summer Harvest Market Mystery – Granny Smith’s Kohlrabi Salad

Spinach & Beet Lasagna



I may have insulted one of the growers from the farmer’s market once. She was explaining how she has an heirloom variety of beets and how they had tasted different than regular beets, although she wasn’t able to fully articulate how. Apparently I wasn’t able either when I asked if the difference was this variety tasting any less like earth. She was notably speechless. I didn’t choose to buy the beets and she didn’t pursue it. Yet somehow, either by guilt or curiosity, I’ve ended up, a few weeks later, with a bunch of fresh beets in my crisper.

With this surplus of beets and an urge to make pasta, I set forth to make one of the prettiest pastas most people get a chance to see. Beet pasta is an unmistakable, vibrant pink which even for those who aren’t crazy for beets, and I know you’re out there, must be tempted to try. The beets tend to lend more colour than flavour to the pasta, but that’s alright, that’s what all those layers of the lasagna are for.

I wanted to keep this Presto Pasta dish to the point and make it quickly. Surprisingly the preparation didn’t take all that long at all. Using a food processor everything, except the dishes, was a breeze.

The recipe’s got it’s layers, but it really did only take about 30 minutes to prepare.

FRESH BEET PASTA

1 Red Beet, Medium Peeled
1/3 Cup Hot Water
3/4 Cup Unbleached, All Purpose Flour
1/4 Cup Semolina Flour
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt

Peel and roast or boil the beet. Add it to a blender or a food processor along with the hot water.
Purée the beet an strain, reserving the hot liquid.
To the bowl of a food processor, add the flours and the salt.
With the feeder tube open and the motor running, add the oil and the hot water.
Stop the food processor when the dough comes together to form a ball.
If the dough doesn’t come into a ball quickly, you may need to add very small amounts of water, 1/2 teaspoon, at a time until it does.
Remove the ball of dough. It should be moist and pliable but not sticky. Cut it into quarters and cover.
Using a pasta maker or a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll each quarter as thinly as possible.
Trim into long workable strips or leave whole.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil and drop the pasta sheets in for about 1 -2 minutes. Drain and lay flat until ready to use.

TOFU RICOTTA

1 Package Firm Tofu
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes, optional
2 Cloves Garlic or 1 teaspoon, minced
Small Sprig of Oregano (about 8-10 leaves), finely chopped
4 – 5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
A good grinding of black pepper

Place the tofu into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to mash the tofu until it is small and evenly crumbled. To it, add the nutritional yeast, garlic, oregano salt and pepper.
Drizzle over the olive oil making the mixture come and hold together when held or pressed with a fork.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE

2 Tablespoons Margarine
3 Tablespoons Unbleached All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Soy Milk
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
Pinch of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Fresh Black Pepper

In a large saucepan, melt the margarine on a medium heat. Add the flour, stirring well to incorporate and cook.
Once slightly paste like and golden, remove from the heat and whisk in the soy milk.
Return and reduce heat to low. Add the salt, pepper and garlic, stirring occasionally to incorporate and thicken the sauce.
Adjust seasoning as necessary and remove from the heat. Set aside.

SAUTÉED SPINACH AND BEET GREENS

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 White Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Bunch Beet Greens
4 Cups Baby Spinach leaves, packed
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim only the brightest and crispest stems from your bunch of beets; chop into 1/2″ lengths.
Heat the oil over a medium high heat in a large sautée pan.
Add the onion and garlic, cook until soft and transparent.
Add the trimmed beet greens, cooking until tender, about 3 – 5 minutes.
Rinse and add the spinach leave; tossing occasionally until bright and wilted.
Remove from heat and set aside.

ASSEMBLY

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Spoon a thin coating of the béchamel over the bottom of a shallow baking dish.
Add one layer of the pasta and top with an even layer of the tofu ricotta.
Add another layer of the pasta, topping it with another thin layer of the béchamel, followed by the spinach and beet greens mixture.
Cover everything with a thin layer of the remaining pasta and top with what is left of the béchamel.
Thinly sprinkle over nutritional yeast flakes, if desired and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top has evenly browned.

Eggless Asparagus Quiche


It finally rained – in two ways.
Thankfully the ground is now moist, our tomatoes will grow and the grass might turn away from it’s current shade of tan. Yay!
Yet, unfortunately, during our trip to the farmer’s market yesterday, we were informed that the asparagus must be left to shoot up into it’s destined willowy trees, bringing an end to our supply for the season.
Asparagus is one of my favourite summer vegetables, so I’ll be sure to freeze what I can. The rest inevitably became lunch for today in this vegan version of a classic, light meal.

EGGLESS ASPARAGUS QUICHE

1 Package, Firm Silken Tofu
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1 1/2 teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Thyme, dried (or a good sprig of fresh, chopped)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Zest of 1/2 Lemon (about 1 Tbsp)

1 Pre-made Pastry Shell, Tenderflake (I know, not me, but they’re such a time saver.)

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Bake the pastry shell for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the crust is firm and light golden. Set it aside to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350º.
Snap the ends and blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 2 – 3 minutes or until bright green. Rinse in cold water, then trim tips to 3″ and reserve. Trim the ends to 1/2″ pieces.
Drain the tofu and add it to the bowl of a food processor. Blend it to a smooth consistency.
Add the nutritional yeast flakes, salt, pepper and spices, mixing well to incorporate everything.
With the motor running, sprinkle the arrowroot powder through the feed tube, combining well but not over mixing.
Finish with the lemon zest and stir in the 1/2″ asparagus pieces.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pastry shell and top with the reserved asparagus tips.
Bake uncovered at 350º until set, about 20 -25 minutes.

Great warm or chilled.
Serve with a salad.

Herbed Ricotta Ravioli


What almost began as a left over night ended with a delicate, satisfying meal with four happy diners.
Very simple to make, the fresh summer herbs are left to take center stage. My herb garden is just beginning to flourish with billowing basil and flowering chives. So light and delicious, I never would have thought this would be a mid-June Presto-Pasta entry. I’d always thought of ravioli as a heavier, cooler weather meal but sometimes, only sometimes, I am thankfully quite wrong.

HERBED RICOTTA RAVIOLI

1/2 Package Firm Tofu
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme, dried
1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes, optional
2 Cloves Garlic or 1 teaspoon, minced
4 – 5 Fresh Basil Leaves, finely chopped
Small Sprig of Oregano (about 6 leaves), finely chopped
2 Tablespoons Fresh Chives, finely chopped,
2 Chive Blossoms
3 – 4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus a little extra for serving
Grind of Black pepper
1 Package Wonton Wrappers (Read the label. Eggless varieties can be found in Asian grocers otherwise gyoza wrappers may be substituted)

To make the tofu ricotta, mash the tofu with your fingers or a fork until it is small and evenly crumbled. To it, add the dried herbs, spices and garlic.
Rinse the fresh herbs and chop the chives to about 1/8″ lengths.
Fold the oregano into the basil and finely chop them together.
Add the herbs to the tofu mixture and combine well.
Drizzle over enough of the olive oil to make the mixture come and hold together when held or pressed with a fork.
Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary, with salt and pepper.
Reserve a few tablespoons of the ricotta for serving.
Prepare some counter space and a small cup of fresh water.
Lay out about 3 wonton wrappers in a row and add about 1 teaspoon to the center or each, leaving about a 1/4″ boarder.
Draw water along the edge of the dough with your finger, then cover with another wonton wrapper. (If one side of the wrapper has more flour, lay that down as it will make it stick better.)
Working from the top, seal the ravioli. Try to prevent any air bubbles as this could cause the pasta to come apart in the water, during cooking.
Lay the finished ravioli out on a plate or tray in a single layer while you finish the remaining pasta. There should be enough ricotta to fill 24 – 28 wrappers.
Bring lightly salted water to a boil in a large stock pot.
Cook the ravioli for 5 – 7 minutes or until they continuously float.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a crack of pepper, chopped chive blossoms and reserved ricotta.

Serves 4

Eggless Rapini & Roasted Red Pepper Strata


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A strata is traditionally an egg custard/bread pudding casserole served up savoury and scrumptious for brunch.
It makes a perfect brunch centrepiece since it’s quick to prepare and can be made the night before. In fact, doing so will make it more custardy and delicious.
I suppose, for some, the issue here would be that eggs are the main ingredient but not a problem. I’d almost go on a limb to state this is a better version than the “Original”, not to mention healthier.

After trying to feed Rapini to my kids, I couldn’t help but have a bit left over. Quite alright as I already had my sights set on what to do with it. With any holiday weekend, let alone Sunday, brunch is definitely in order.

Serve it for your next Sunday brunch, or as a lighter dinner fare along with a salad.
Fear tofu no more.

RAPINI & ROASTED RED PEPPER STRATA
1 Package Medium-Firm Tofu
1 1/2 Cups Soy Milk
2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Onion Powder
Dash of Cayenne Powder
Dash of Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, Chopped
1 teaspoon (4-5 leaves) Fresh Basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Fresh Oregano, chopped
Zest of 1 Lemon
1 Cup Steamed Rapini, chopped
1 Roasted Red Pepper, diced
1/2 Cup diced Tomatoes
1/2 Loaf Day Old, Rustic Farmer’s Bread, about 6 Cups, 1″ cubes (I used Olive Bread)

With a food processor combine the tofu, soy milk, arrowroot powder, salt and spices.
Once smooth, combine the chopped herbs and lemon zest, then add the rapini, red pepper and tomato.
Lightly spray a shallow baking dish with oil.
Add half of the bread and half of the tofu and vegetable mixture.
Grind a small amount of black pepper and repeat with another layer of bread, filling in any gaps, finishing with the tofu.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours and up to over night.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Let strata stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

I found the Tuesday Night Leftovers challenge over at Project Foodie This is a must list to bookmark!