Warm Mushroom and Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

Warm Mushroom and Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing
(Serving 2-4) – Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free
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Mushrooms! I love Spinach too! It’s funny when I think back to my childhood I remember the typical stuff like certain movies, t.v. and video games. It’s interesting how veggies were marketed to us in a roundabout way back then. Obviously times have now changed with all the commercials and advertising (especially here in the U.S.). I’m unclear as to what the true message is these days…junk, soda, greasy, cheesy, crust filled, all you can eat, candy etc. I think I read somewhere that 70% of the commercials on children t.v. channels are all junk foods. It’s no surprise the increase in obesity, diabetes heart diseases, cancer etc. in this country. Now when I was growing up I remember Spinach and Mushrooms the key ingredients in this dish which are both very nutritious. Remember Super Mario Bros. and Mushroom world. Mushrooms would allow me to double in size and strength or take an extra hit. Having strength to break bricks. Then there is Popeye whether the original intention was to boast the health benefits of spinach and maybe it wasn’t, the reality is we viewed Popeye as having incredible strength and abilities after eating a can of the stuff. The best part is…it really is a super food and nutritiously good for you. Vitamin A, K, B6, Iron etc. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
¼ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
5oz Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
3.5oz Bunapi Mushrooms (White Beech), ends removed
7 Whole White Button Mushrooms, quartered
6 Whole Baby Bella Mushrooms, quartered
¼ Tsp Sea Salt
3 Handfuls Fresh Baby Spinach (abt 4 Cups)
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
½ Tbsp Blue Agave Nectar
1 Tsp Horseradish Mustard or Dijon

Directions: 
-In sauté pan heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil over medium-low heat, add Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and Garlic for about 2 minutes.
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-Remove Garlic-Red Pepper Oil and pour into a bowl, set aside.
-Back to empty pan – heat over medium and add mushrooms in batches. I started with Shiitake about 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Add quartered (larger pieces I cut down further) Baby Bella / Button mushrooms and ¼ Tsp Sea Salt and sauté for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and add with Shiitake.
-To pan add 1 Tbsp Olive Oil and sauté Bunapi Mushrooms for about 5 minutes. They should pick up some nice color from the pan/prior ingredients. Remove and add with other mushrooms.
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-Back to pan add fresh Spinach and warm through until slightly wilted. Remove from pan and add with mushrooms, the spinach will continue to warm through with mushrooms.

For Dressing: -To bowl with Olive Oil, Garlic and crushed Red Pepper Flakes add: Balsamic Vinegar, Agave Nectar and Mustard – whisk together to combine. Toss all ingredients together to combine. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Note from the past: Be sure to divide mushrooms and cook in multiple batches. If you throw all the mushrooms in the pan together at once they will get watery and steam up instead. You don’t want to over stir or season yet. You’ll want mushrooms to release their own natural moisture and sizzle into a golden color.

Warm Mushroom and Spinach Salad with Balsamic Vinegar Dressing

  • Servings: 2-4 ~ Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:
3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
¼ Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1-2 Garlic Cloves, minced
5oz Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
3.5oz Bunapi Mushrooms (White Beech), ends removed
7 Whole White Button Mushrooms, quartered
6 Whole Baby Bella Mushrooms, quartered
¼ Tsp Sea Salt
3 Handfuls Fresh Baby Spinach (abt 4 Cups)
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
½ Tbsp Blue Agave Nectar
1 Tsp Horseradish Mustard or Dijon

Directions: 
-In sauté pan heat 2 Tbsp Olive Oil over medium-low heat, add Crushed Red Pepper Flakes and Garlic for about 2 minutes.
-Remove Garlic-Red Pepper Oil and pour into a bowl, set aside.
-Back to empty pan – heat over medium and add mushrooms in batches. I started with Shiitake about 2-3 minutes until lightly golden. Remove from pan and set aside.
-Add quartered (larger pieces I cut down further) Baby Bella / Button mushrooms and ¼ Tsp Sea Salt and sauté for about 5 minutes. Remove from pan and add with Shiitake.
-To pan add 1 Tbsp Olive Oil and sauté Bunapi Mushrooms for about 5 minutes. They should pick up some nice color from the pan/prior ingredients. Remove and add with other mushrooms.
-Back to pan add fresh Spinach and warm through until slightly wilted. Remove from pan and add with mushrooms, the spinach will continue to warm through with mushrooms.

For Dressing: -To bowl with Olive Oil, Garlic and crushed Red Pepper Flakes add: Balsamic Vinegar, Agave Nectar and Mustard – whisk together to combine. Toss all ingredients together to combine. Let stand for about 5-10 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Note from the past: Be sure to divide mushrooms and cook in multiple batches. If you throw all the mushrooms in the pan together at once they will get watery and steam up instead. You don’t want to over stir or season yet. You’ll want mushrooms to release their own natural moisture and sizzle into a golden color.

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Hearts of Palm ‘Crab Cakes’

Hearts of Palm ‘Crab Cakes’
(Makes 6 Patties) – Vegan, Gluten-Free option
Replace Panko Breadcrumbs with GF Bread Crumbs

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H is for Hearts of Palm…so what are these? Pretty much exactly what it sounds. Think of your Heart – your Center – your Core, that’s it. Essentially it’s the Core of a Palm tree that has been harvested – the inside ‘heart’ of the stem. They are probably easiest found canned in your supermarket. I was first inspired to try and create a vegan ‘crab’ cake after eating at a vegan restaurant in NYC called Blossom. Trust me their version is unmatched, I have no idea how they make it but it’s amazing. If you have the opportunity it’s a must try! Having no clue as to what ingredients they use or their technique or anything, I’ve tried my own versions over the years. I’ve made this recipe several times in the past, my very first attempt years ago was horrid – I used way too much old bay; not sure what I was thinking. But over time I modified and made adjustments. Even with that said there are a couple variations I make of this recipe. One being that I’ll chop up the hearts of palm (so it mimics the appearance of crab) and fold it into the mixture. Second which is pictured, I’ll chop up the hearts of palm roughly then add to the food processor and pulse a few times to incorporate. The latter has the resemblance of a pate or ‘burger’ patty but the flavors are equally as intense. After rolling in additional bread crumbs and baked the outer appearance is still that of a crab cake, plus I prefer how the flavors are better incorporated/blended. Either way, this recipe is an explosion of flavors and instantly caused my mouth to gush with saliva as if I suffered from hypersalivation. Try not to drool! Enjoy.
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Ingredients:
1 (14oz can) Hearts of Palm, chopped roughly
1 (16oz can) Butter Beans
2 Sheets of roasted Nori (seaweed sheets)
2 ½ Tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
½ a Red Bell Pepper, chopped finely
10 blades of Chives, about a Tsp, chopped
2 Tsp Dijon Mustard
½ Tsp Sriracha
½ Tsp Potato Starch
1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs, divided
¼ Cup Vegenaise
½ Tsp Sea Salt
½ Tsp course Ground Pepper
olive oil to lightly grease pan

Directions:
-Preheat oven 465 degrees.
-Combine Nori sheets with 2 Tsp Old bay in coffee/spice grinder, divided. One Nori Sheet with 1 Tsp Old bay, set aside then the next sheet and tsp.
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-In Food processor, pulse together to combine: Butter beans, half of Nori mixture, Nutritional yeast, Red Pepper, Chives, Dijon, Sriracha, Potato starch and 2/3 cups of Panko.
-To the above mixture (if you’re looking for a chunky texture) then turn out the above mixture into a bowl and fold in: vegenaise, salt, pepper, panko and Hearts of palm (chopped so the appearance is similar to crab meat). (If you’re looking for a smoother patty) to the mixture still in the food processor, add: Vegenaise, salt/pepper, panko and Hearts of palm, pulse a couple times to incorporate.
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-Form patties and press/toss in remaining 1/3 cup of panko to cover exterior.
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-Bake for 25 minutes, I’ll flip them about ¾ of the way finished. Top with an aioli or sauce of your choosing and enjoy!

H

Grilled Portabella (Portobello) Mushroom Burgers

Easy Grilled Portaburgers [Portabella (Portobello) Mushroom Burgers]
(Serves 4) – Vegan/Gluten-Free option (GF Rolls)
Portoburger, Portaburger
I’m SO over winter. Would you believe last Friday on the first day of spring it snowed? Of course it was an all day event too, from about 7:30 in the morning until after 6pm – Snow! Our eldest daughter even had a minor car accident that day. Fortunately no other cars were involved, but poor Megan on the first day of spring a snow related accident. Well, there are beautiful sunny days on the horizon. C’mon Seth, lets move out West and make those beautiful sunny days year-round, haha! A girl can wish or hope, right? In anticipation of warm weather – spring and summer, I’ve been craving something grilled and fresh. These burgers are so simple and take no time at all to make. I used my indoor stovetop grill pan. A must try and I’ll add that I never saw food disappear so quickly. After making the burgers I toasted the bread on the grill and served them up along side an easy rainbow carrot pasta salad.
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Ingredients:
4 Portabella Mushrooms, cleaned/stems removed
3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp course Black Pepper
1 Tsp Dried Oregano
4 Rolls – Kaiser or Buns for Serving

Directions:
-Heat Grill or Grill pan over medium heat.
-In a small bowl, whisk to combine: Balsamic, Tamari, Olive Oil, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper and Oregano.
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-Clean mushrooms – wipe clean with damp paper towel, remove stem and I like to remove the black gills also-they scrape out easy with a spoon.
-Marinate mushrooms. Place them in a large platter/glass dish, first with gill side down then flip and marinate on the opposite side. 10 minutes on each side was enough – I left it out on the counter at room temp. If you want to marinate for a longer period of time, just cover and refrigerate; but I found that 20 minutes was plenty.
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-When your grill is hot and ready – grill on each side for about 5-7 minutes. I grilled gill side up (top down) to start, then flipped after 5-7 minutes. No need to push, mash or mess with them; just place them on the grill and let them cook they’ll develop some nice grill marks too.
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-Top with your favorite burger toppings. We topped with sliced avocado, tomatoes, grilled red onions and butter lettuce. Dress your bun with this amazing aioli sauce, incredible. Enjoy!

Easy Rainbow Carrot Pasta Salad:
These Portoburgers were served along side an easy Pasta Salad: (1-2lb) Mini Penne; (12oz) baby Rainbow carrots; Diced tomatoes; (16oz) Corn; Celery (2) stalks/ribs-chopped finely; ½ Red Onion-Diced; 2 Tbsp Capers; 1 Tsp Dried Oregano; ½ Tsp Salt; 1 Tsp course Black pepper – Tossed in a zesty Italian vinaigrette. –This is a simple recipe and the little ones enjoyed the leftovers as a side/snack in their lunch bags for a couple days too! Just a quick note, if the pasta seems dry the next day – just freshen it up with additional dressing or add some Vegenaise (Vegan Mayo).

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Ultimate Black Bean Burgers with Onion Strings and Aioli

Ultimate Black Bean Burgers
(Makes 10 vegan burgers)

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”The Big Kahuna”

Certain foods can be very nostalgic for me. Likewise, new recipes and creations can pioneer new memories that I will surely reflect back on years from now. When the kids first tasted this burger, they absolutely loved it! I was concerned that they were alittle soft, but they were flavorful and delicious! On a toasted warm bun everything just all melded together; it is a must try with the Aioli. Seth’s reaction when he first tasted the burger, hysterical. First bite, “Mmm, wow!” Second bite, “This is a tasty burger!” Clearly he was channeling Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Pulp Fiction. I laughed. Of course then later he pulled up the clip of the scene from Pulp Fiction then said I should call the burger the “Big Kahuna Burger.” The kids laughed. This is clearly his girlfriend’s version of the Kahuna burger since Sam Jackson referenced that she was vegetarian, I said.

On our first date, Seth took me to a Stephen Starr restaurant in Philly (Tangerine). We were dressed to the nines; the restaurant had excellent ambiance. Ironically we had dinner there on the last night they were opened in August 2009. Then he cleverly planned dessert at Maggiano’s. I say cleverly because Maggiano’s is about 40 minutes away down an expressway from the other location. Of course at the time, I’m thinking, “wow, this is a long drive” now that I think back on it, it was brilliant. Long drive = conversation. Communication is key and good vs. bad can make or break a first date. Dessert was my first Maggiano’s experience – this was pre-vegan, of course. This restaurant served as several memories for us, eventually he proposed to me here also – it was a different location than from our first day, however. Maggiano’s served these amazing onion strings. Coming up with a side suitable for my black bean burgers was fairly easy when I think of these onion strings. My version is vegan and melt in your mouth delicious. I utilize a vegan buttermilk – so easy to make. Buttermilk is tart and acidic, essentially the acid causes the pH level to decrease making it curdle. I achieved this by mixing simple apple cider vinegar with almond milk. I really hope you try these recipes. Make dinner then pop on Pulp Fiction for dinner and a movie, haha. Enjoy!

Black Bean Burgers
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Sweet Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic, chopped
2 (15.5oz) Cans Black Beans or 3 Cups Cooked Black Beans
¼ Cup Water
1 can of Corn or kernels off 2 ears of fresh corn
½ Cup Pumpkin Seeds, toasted
1 small head of Broccoli, florets chopped
1 Carrot, shredded
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
½ Cup fresh Parsley, chopped
4 pieces of Sundried Tomato (oil-packed), chopped
½ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
½ Tbsp ground Flax Seeds
½ Tbsp Cornstarch
1 Tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1 ½ Tsp Salt
Additional Olive oil for frying

Directions:

-Heat Olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes, add garlic and continue sautéing for another minute.
-Add black beans to onions and garlic and heat through (1-2 minutes). – Add ¼ cup water and begin to mash beans. –You can use a potato masher; I typically just use the back of my spoon to mash them. The consistency you’re looking for is that of refried beans.
-Add mixture to a food processor (I let it cool slightly before adding to my food processor – I’ve already cracked my base before by adding something too hot).
-To the food processor add: Corn, Pumpkin Seeds, Broccoli, Carrots, Cumin, Garlic powder, Smoked Paprika, Parsley and Sundried tomatoes (chop them first before adding so they get better incorporated) and pulse until ingredients are all blended.
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-Turn out into a mixing bowl, then fold in: Panko, Ground Flax Seeds (instead of buying ground, I but whole flax seeds then grind them up in a coffee grinder), Corn Starch and Salt/Pepper with a spoon or spatula.
-Once mixture is incorporated, form patties with your hands. This recipe made 10 patties for me. We ate four and I froze the remaining.
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-Best method I found for these were to cook them in a sauté pan. Just heat some additional olive oil and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side. Note: I did try these baked in a 375-degree oven for 20 minutes (10 each side) but I found they broke apart easier.
-Serve these up on a whole wheat bun or bun of your choice with your favorite toppings. Enjoy!

Notes on freezing:
Place parchment/wax paper on a baking sheet – add black bean burgers and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Freeze for 1-2 hours or until solid. Then transfer into zip top freezer bags. I have left these overnight in the freezer also, which was fine, I just put them in the freezer bags in the morning.
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Onion Strings
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Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Cups Almond Milk – unsweetened
2 Sweet Onions, Sliced thin
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp ground Pepper
1 Tsp sea Salt
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper
Oil for Frying

Directions:

-In a large mixing bowl, (large enough to add all the sliced onions), add Apple cider vinegar to Almond milk – stir in and let stand before you slice the onions, about 10 mins.
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-Slice the onions thin either with your knife or I find it easiest to use a mandolin so all the slices are uniform and even about 3mm (1/8”). I also cut only one side of the onion ring to make long strings instead of circle rings.
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-Mix together flour, pepper/salt, paprika and cayenne pepper in a separate bowl and set aside.
-Add onions to buttermilk and let stand for about 45 minutes to an hour.
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-Working in batches, grab a handful of onions drain excess milk toss in flour – shake off excess flour and fry for about 2-3 minutes until golden.
-I just used a pan on my stovetop filled halfway with oil or you can use a deep fryer if you’d like. Enjoy!

Spicy Aioli
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Ingredients:
½ Cup Vegenaise
Juice of ½ Lemon
¼ Tsp Smoked Paprika
¼ Tsp Turmeric
2 cloves Garlic, minced
½ Tsp Sriracha

Method:
Mix all the ingredients together for a divine aioli. Top your burgers with it or use it as a dipping sauce, the possibilities are endless!