in season now: cauliflower + 6 ways to use it

Cauliflower

note:  I wrote this entire post and then realized I had already done this same post last year, haha.  I guess I just really love cauliflower!  Anyways, there’s some different recipes here for you to try out if you, like me, also love this veggie or are trying to figure out different ways to use it up.

Cauliflower is one of the earliest cool season veggies that come to our farmers market.  It’s always such a joy to see something new after months of tomatoes, cucumbers and peaches.  Not that I’m complaining- but the newness of seasonal foods is such a pleasure. A treat!  Something exciting, like rekindling a relationship and catching up with an old friend.  At our market, we’ve got purple, orange, and green cauliflowers, along with the usual white.  They all taste amazing and slightly different from each other.  My kids think the purple is the coolest thing.  Which it totally is!

To choose a good cauliflower, look for tightly packed, dense heads that feel heavy for their size.  If there’s leaves on it still, they should look fresh and green instead of witty or browned.

When you get it home, you can either store it whole- it does well put directly into the veggie drawer of the fridge, loose- or, cut it up.  Cut it into florets and store in a large container, such as a Pyrex bowl with a lid, or some mason jars.  It will keep for 5-7 days or so in the fridge like this and is nice to have already cut to lessen prep in the week.

Purple graffiti cauliflower vegan meal

Here’s some of my favorite ways to enjoy cauliflower:

creamy cauliflower soup // cauliflower is SO creamy when pureed.  Velvety, luscious goodness.  This soup is so easy to make and is the most comforting thing ever.  I love that it includes a boost of protein from the yellow split peas, too.  Sometimes I like to do a variation of half cauliflower and half pumpkin, recipe HERE.

cauliflower squash soup vegan creamy dairy free plant based chickpeas

cauliflower buffalo wings // I mean, isn’t this just the best way to eat cauliflower? 😉 I use THIS recipe, but use Miyoko’s butter (palm oil free) and 1/2 cup rice flour + 1/4 cup chickpea flour instead of the all purpose.  Joel actually always makes these because I hate waiting for them to be done haha.

mash // continuing with the velvety puree texture I was talking about, cauliflower makes a great addition to mash.  I like half and half potato and cauliflower, which lends a velvety texture and a slightly sweet/nutty flavor profile.  All cauliflower mash is excellent, too- and can be a great way to introduce cauliflower in a different way to kids.  I just steam until very soft, then puree with some crushed garlic, salt, fresh thyme, olive oil or Miyoko’s butter, and maybe some nutritional yeast or miso if you like.  A few splashes of broth or plant milk to thin if necessary.  Great with lentil stew, to top shepherds pie, or as a side with mushroom gravy and roasted veg and gigante beans for a delicious “roast” dinner.  THIS recipe for a casserole esque bake is so yummy and combines the best of both worlds.

roasted // roasting cauliflower transforms it into the most amazing, crispy, nutty, sweet and addictive flavor.  I love simply roasting with a touch of oil, thyme and salt and keeping it in the fridge to add to bowls, lentil salads, or roasting half and half with cubed red potatoes or half moons of delicata squash.  THIS recipe is also so excellent and adds such a beautiful spin.  Sometimes I roast and toss with cumin and oregano and chipotle for an excellent taco filling.

curry // the mild taste and smooth texture of cauliflower makes it a perfect toss in for curries.  Indian types are classic, but it works in Thai curries too.  I like to add it with chickpeas and coconut milk and spinach similar to THIS recipe.  Protein, veggies, fats and greens- a one pot easy meal.  In the same vein, it’s so good in curry spiced rice with cashews and golden raisins- my recipe can be found in THIS meal plan post– scroll down to find it.

turmeric curry chickpea cauliflower rice

ricotta // cauliflower makes THE most excellent ricotta sub for lasagnas and manicotti.  Here’s the manicotti RECIPE.

manicotti

What’s your favorite way to eat cauliflower?  I’d love to know your simple, go-to recipes too!

 

creamy kale + romaine caesar with crispy chickpeas

kale romaine vegan caesar gluten free chickpea

Last week I made this kale and romaine caesar with crispy roasted chickpeas and it was a hit!  The kids and Joel loved it, and we made it again last night.  It’s full of deep greens, but it’s creamy and crunchy from the tahini dressing and roasted chickpeas.  It also packs in quite a bit of protein and staying power.  The kids and Joel paired this with simple bruschetta (split baguette down the middle, broil, rub with garlic clove, drizzle with a little olive oil and flaky salt).  So many of you asked me to save the Instagram story of it to my highlights (and I did!), that I thought it would be nice to have it in an easily referenced blog post.

Kale

The recipe I slightly adapted from this Detoxinista recipe- I found that adding capers to the dressing (like Minimalist Baker does) really gives a nice, deeper dimension.  Also, I like adding in some romaine for crunch and to lighten it up a bit.  Finally, I added a lot more chickpeas than called for because who doesn’t love tons of “croutons” on top?!  To me the vegan parm really makes this pop, so if you can don’t skip it.  It takes only a few minutes to make, just blitz in the food processor.

IMG_1271

creamy kale + romaine caesar with crispy chickpeas

2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry to maximize crispiness

1 tablespoon oil, any kind you like, I used olive

1 teaspoon garlic powder

salt

1/3 cups tahini

3 tablespoons capers, chopped

zest and juice of 1-2 lemons (add one first and then taste and you may need to add more depending on the size of your lemons)

1/4 cup water

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 large bunch tuscan kale (the flat, bumpy, dark green type)

1 medium to large head romaine lettuce

vegan parm

Preheat the oven to 400.  On a large baking sheet, toss the chickpeas with the garlic powder, oil, and salt.  When oven has preheated, put in the chickpeas and set the timer for 25 minutes.

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients.  Taste and adjust as needed with more water, lemon juice, salt, pepper, or garlic.  I ended up adding the juice of 2 lemons, I like it pretty acidic.

Chop the kale into thin strips or ribbons (I leave the stems in for extra crunch) and add to the bowl, tossing with the dressing.  Roughly chop or tear the romaine and add that in too, tossing again to coat.

At this point, make the vegan parm if you haven’t already.

Take the chickpeas out of the oven and add them on top of the salad.  Sprinkle a generous amount of the vegan parm on top and serve!

[Last night, the salad at a picnic dinner at the farmers market concert with hummus and veggies:]

vegan kale caesar

curried bean + brussels stew with roasted squash

Vegan butternut Brussels curry

Hello helloo!  We had a few days of colder snaps at night and a weird day of hail (?!) here so lately I’ve been craving a really warming and comforting one pot dish.  I’ve been meaning to make this recipe for weeks and today was the perfect day.  This stew seriously hits the spot.  It’s creamy, savory, loaded with all kinds of textures, and is a complete meal!  Plus it uses in season veggies: brussels, squash, and kale.  My kids really enjoyed it too!

Curry stew winter Simply Vibrant

The recipe comes from a new cookbook I’ve been absolutely loving lately called Simply Vibrant: All-Day Vegetarian Recipes for Colorful Plant-Based Cooking, by Anya Kassoff (find her on Instagram @golubkakitchen and her blog golubkakitchen.com).  The cookbook is just gorgeous, with lots of beautiful photos, seasonal, plant based recipes, many gluten free recipes, and decadent healthy treats.  I especially love that there’s an emphasis on using up every part of something- in this recipe you use the herb stems and bean cooking liquid- for an extremely sustainable and delicious dish.  She honors vegetables in the way there were meant to be experienced- as the star.  There’s something for everyone in this book, and it’s already become a treasured and referenced cookbook on my shelf.  I don’t say this lightly- I hardly own any cookbooks, but this is definitely a gem.

simply vibrant cookbook

photo c/o @golubkakitchen

This recipe has many steps, don’t be put off- they’re very easy, but it does take a bit of time.  A perfect Sunday meal.  If you, like me, are busy during the week, try cooking your beans and roasting the squash on the weekend (what I did) and the whole recipe comes together rather seamlessly.  I hope you enjoy this recipe and many thanks to Anya for letting me publish it!

Simply vibrant cookbook vegan

curried bean and brussels stew with roasted kabocha squash

ingredients

1 cup dried beans: adzuki, kidney, or cannellini beans (I used giant beans), soaked in purified water overnight

3 to 4 bay leaves

2 to 3 garlic cloves, crushed

2 to 3 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves separated, stalks reserved for cooking the beans

sea salt

1 medium kabocha, kuri, or butternut squash, seeded, cut into bite size pieces (skin removed only if using butternut)

freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, divided

2 teaspoons cumin seeds, freshly ground

seeds from 5 to 7 cardamom pods, freshly ground

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3/4 cup bhutanese or red rice, rinsed (i had to use arborio and it was fine)

handful kaffir lime leaves (optional)

1 pound halved brussels, hard ends cut away

1 can coconut milk

zest and juice of 2 limes

4 cups baby spinach or 2 cups chopped kale

method

  1. Drain and rinse the beans, then place them in a large, heavy-bottomed pot and cover with at least 14 cups of water.  Add the bay leaved, garlic, thyme stalks, and cilantro stems, and bring the liquid to a boil over medium high heat.  Skim off any foam with a slotted spoon and reduce the heat to a strong simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes, add a pinch or two of salt, then cook for another 10 minutes or until the beans are tender and butter inside.  Check periodically to make sure the water is simmering.  If the beans are not fully cooked after 30 minutes, continue cooking them until they reach the right consistency-it can take up to an hour or even longer for some beans.  Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid in a large heatproof bowl for the base of the stew.  Discard the bay leaves and the stems.  Set the beans aside, and do not wash the pot.

giant beans2.  While the beans are cooking, preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

3.  Place the squash on the prepared sheet, add the thyme leave, salt, and pepper to taste, and 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil.  Mix to coat using your hands.  Spread in a single layer, transfer to oven, and roast for 20-30 minutes, stirring at halftime, until the squash is tender when pricked with a knife.

4.  In the same pot you used for cooking the beans, warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of coconut oil over medium heat.  Add the ginger and spices and stir everything around for 2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add the onion and saute for 7 minutes, until it is soft and translucent.

Curry spices

5.  Add the rice, a large pinch of salt, and the kaffir lime leaves, if using; and stir to coat.  Add 7 cups of the reserved bean cooking liquid and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is almost cooked.

6.  Increase the heat to medium high and add the brussels sprouts, cooked beans, and a large pinch of salt.  If using kale, add it at this time as well.  Bring the broth back to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes until the brussels sprouts and the rice are tender.

Brussels sprouts winter

7.  Add the coconut milk, roasted squash, lime zest and juice, and more salt to taste.  Bring the broth back to a gentle boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for 2 minutes.

8.  Remove the pot from the heat, taste the broth, and add more salt if needed.  Stir in the spinach, if using.  Serve hot with fresh cilantro leaves and more freshly squeezed lime juice, if desired.  (I added coconut yogurt, mango chutney, and chile flakes too with excellent results.  Yum!)

 

sopa tarasca + an ode to beans

Giant white beans zero waste

If you do one thing this weekend, soak and cook a big pot of beans.  Beans are a great and cheap source of protein, and can usually be found pretty easily in bulk.  Even if you have to buy them in plastic, they still provide a lot of meals and energy for that one plastic bag.  You can use them in so many ways and they can become the basis for all kinds of meals: add to curries, soups, blend them into a creamy soup with sautéed celery/carrot/onion/garlic + herbs/spices and stock, eat them in a lunchtime bowl, puree them into a dip for veggies or a spread for wraps/sammies, eat them over toast, saute them with greens, turn them into veggie burgers…the options are endless!

We love all kinds of beans and legumes here, but our favorites are chickpeas for their versatility, giant corona beans for their large size and substantial texture, cannellini beans for their creaminess, and pintos + black beans for their flavor.  Any kind of beans you have available are great!  I try to find local varieties if they’re available for a lower footprint.  Experiment with new to you types.  Make cooking fun!  Also amazing are red lentils, which don’t need any soaking and cook in about 15-20 minutes.  They have been my savior for many a quick weeknight meal.

I have a giant container of local pintos I’m trying to work my way through, so this week that’s what I’m cooking.  Cooking beans from scratch is so much more flavorful and delicious than canned beans if you have the time.  I quite enjoy the ritual of soaking the beans, straining them, choosing the flavorings to add, and cooking them. It’s rewarding in some way.  Canned beans are wonderful assets too for when you forget to soak or you just need something easy and quick.

pinto beans zero waste

To cook beans, I soak 2 cups of them in plenty of water in a big bowl for 24 hours.  When they’re done soaking, I strain and rinse, then place them in a pot or a slow cooker with a chopped onion, smashed whole garlic cloves, and whole sprigs of fresh herbs.  You can also add things like whole peppercorns, dried chiles or broiled fresh chiles, smoked paprika, olive oil, or whatever you want!  I also add salt, about a 1/2 teaspoon for our tastes but you can omit or go more heavy handed.  I don’t believe the whole thing about adding salt making the beans tough.  I find that adding salt at the beginning seasons the beans all the way through.  One thing to note though is NOT to add tomatoes or other acidic ingredients until after the beans are soft.  The acid makes the beans not be able to cook properly and they will stay crunchy forever.  Cook 45 minutes- 2 hours, it really depends on how old the beans are and what variety.  Keep tasting for doneness and add more water as needed.  I store cooked beans either straight in the pot or in mason jars (in both cases, still in their cooking liquid).  If you eat the beans in an application like a grain salad etc where you will drain them first, try saving the cooking liquid- it makes a great flavorful base for soups.  Chickpea cooking liquid is a perfect base for vegan mayo, meringue, and I use it instead of oil in hummus to thin it out.  Cooked beans stored in their cooking liquid last 5-7 days in the fridge in my experience.

vegan pinto beans

Here’s some flavoring ideas, although in my opinion the best way is to experiment and go by your intuition- you can’t go wrong.

white beans (cannelini, great northern type varieties): garlic- I slice a whole head crosswise to expose all the cloves and throw it in like that + a generous sprig of fresh sage or rosemary, drizzle of EVOO and a teaspoon of whole black peppercorns + 1 dried whole chile, like chile de arbol or a teaspoon of chile flakes.  Here’s a whole meal plan I did devoted to turning a pot of white beans into a week of meals.

vegan Italian beans sage garlic Dutch oven

black beans:  3 smashed whole garlic cloves, 1 chopped onion, 1 dried chile of choice or canned chipotle pepper en adobo, and 1 big fresh sprig of oregano or epazote or 1 teaspoon dried mexican oregano.  This black bean soup is amazing, too.  We love black beans in tacos or bowls with sliced and baked or sautéed plantains + avo + a quick cabbage slaw, too.

Vegan bowl mojo verde Cuban kabocha squash

chickpeas:  I usually just cook chickpeas plain, as I like them to be a blank slate for hummus, curries etc.  I especially love this soup with chickpeas, and my lemon garlic hummus pasta with broiled peppers is a great way to use them too.  One of our favorite quick meals is this chickpea salad eaten either as a sammy or in tortillas or lettuce/collard wraps.  Sometimes I like to do a curried version with chopped apple, golden raisins, curry powder, and carrot.  This chickpea soup (caldo tlalpeño) is so tasty, too.

chickpea salad sandwich vegan

pinto beans: broil a whole jalapeño and a whole onion, halved, until charred in spots.  add it to the beans along with a few whole cloves of smashed garlic and a big fresh sprig of oregano or epazote, and a teaspoon of cumin.  Pintos are so good in burritos, tacos, enchiladas, blended into a soup.

With my pintos this weekend, I’ll first eat them probably my favorite way: just eaten in a bowl, straight from the pot, soupy and steamy with sliced fresh chile, chopped white onion, avocado, cilantro and radish.

Vegan sopa tarasca dairy free zero waste

Then with the leftovers, I’ll blend them into this creamy soup, spiked with smoky chiles and brightened with lime, a kind of sopa tarasca.  Here’s the recipe:

sopa tarasca 

ingredients:

4 Roma tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 large chipotle chile en adobo (more or less depending on your spice level) you can used dried, toasted + soaked anchos here too

1 tablespoon olive oil (optional)

2 cups cooked pinto beans

2 cups stock (make sure this is a strong and tasty stock as this can make or break the soup as it’s so few ingredients)

3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

3/4 teaspoon of salt (but amount will depend on how salt your stock is)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

toppings (pick as few or as many as you desire): avocado, quick pickled onions or radishes, cilantro, toasted pumpkin seeds, raw onion, hot sauce, lime wedges, crema (coco yogurt thinned with a little water + lime juice, zest, and salt) or cashew crema, baked or fried tortilla strips, chopped tomatoes, chopped jalapeños…..sky’s the limit.  With blended soups like this toppings are everything!

method:

broil the whole tomatoes under the over broiler or over an open flame or grill until charred on all sides- mine took about 8 minutes.  Make sure you rotate to get it evenly broiled.

Broiled tomatoes

Place tomatoes in blender with the chopped onion, garlic, and chipotle chile.  Blend till smooth.

Sopa tarasca vegan

Chipotle onion garlic tomato

Heat a pot with a tablespoon of olive oil in it (alternatively, heat without oil for an oil free soup) on high.  Pour in the blender mix (careful because it splatters, give it a good stir, reduce heat to med high and cook for about 3-4 minutes.  You can keep the lid partially covering it to minimize splatter.

Meanwhile, add the beans and stock to the blender (no need to wash in between).  Blend till smooth and add to the pot along with oregano, salt, pepper.  Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low and let simmer 15 minutes.

Taste and add salt as needed.

Ladle into bowls and top with all your toppings and a heavy squeeze of lime.  Extend gratitude, smell, taste and enjoy!

thai-ish crunch salad with peanut dressing

Vegan kids cooking

hello friends!  It’s been gorgeous weather here in California, I’m just buzzing on sunshine.  All the spring feels over here- almond trees in bloom, fresh verdant green grass, miners lettuce, birds out and about, and lots of wind.  As I write this I’m laying on my patio in a pair of shorts and soaking up the afternoon sun.  With this warmer weather we’ve been getting outside a lot and hiking, playing, gardening and more, which makes me feel SO GOOD.  Seriously, is there anything better than being outside?  It makes me feel so grounded, connected and supported and boosts my mood x 100.

farmers market oranges zero waste imperfect

Today I wanted to share a very simple and very adaptable recipe with you that we can’t get enough of lately.  I follow a beautiful mama on Instagram named Jenna Strubhar and she provides me with the most amazing down to earth inspiration, from everything from gentle parenting to books and easy vegan meals.  Recently she posted about a thai salad she makes that is a staple in their household, I made it, and we’ve been eating it nonstop.  So I wanted to post it here so you can hopefully make it and love it as much as we did.  I’ve made some slight modifications to her recipe, which you can find here.

thai Salad

Thai salad

Use whatever veggies you have or like- the ones I list are simply what we had that day-but other ingredients like cucumber, fresh chili pepper, mango, pineapple, tomato, zucchini noodles, rice noodles, tofu, tempeh, and edamame would go deliciously here too.  Basil and mint are great swaps for the cilantro (extra points for thai basil!).  In fact, I used this sauce a few times over simple sauteed cabbage/broccoli, warm, and it was amazing.  We also used it to dip veggies in for a snack, also amazing.  I bet it would be great for rice paper rolls too.

Peanut thai salad vegan

thai-ish crunch salad with peanut dressing (serves 2 large servings or 4 small servings)

for the dressing/sauce:

1/4-1/3 cup nut butter (I’ve used both almond and PB with great results, I bet sunflower seed would work well if you have nut allergies) amount depending on how thick you want the dressing

1 tablespoons tamari

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (rice vinegar would be nice too)

juice and zest of 1 lime (start with half the juice first and add more as needed- will depend on how big your lime is)

1 clove garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons minced/grated fresh ginger (I use my microplane for this task) OR 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon maple syrup or coconut aminos

optional: 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

water as needed to thin it out

for the salad:

1 large head romaine lettuce, chopped

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

2 carrots, shredded or sliced thinly

1 cup cilantro, chopped or just pick off the leaves and throw in whole

2 cups sliced red cabbage

3 green onions, sliced thinly

1 large navel orange, skin removed and chopped into segments

1 large avocado, sliced or diced

1/4 cup cashew pieces (or peanuts, sliced almonds, coconut flakes, whatever)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I used a mix of black and unhulled white)

method:

  1. in the bottom of a large bowl, add all dressing ingredients and whisk to combine.  Taste and add more of a certain ingredient if needed to adjust the dressing to your tastebuds.
  2. add in all raw ingredients to the bowl (I like to reserve a few pieces of cilantro and green onion for garnish if I want to make it look extra pretty)
  3. toss to combine- I usually just use clean hands
  4. toast the sesame seeds and cashews in a hot dry pan (no oil) over high heat, tossing the pan or stirring constantly until toasted, about 3 minutes)
  5. divide salads into bowls and garnish with the toasted nuts/seeds and any reserved cilantro/green onion.
  6. take a moment to express gratitude for the food and then devour!

Thai salad vegan zero waste