StrataMex, or Mexican Lasagna

A short while back, Amy had a hankering for lasagna, but alas and alack, we didn’t have any gluten-free lasagna noodles on hand. I don’t think they’re that hard to come by, but for some reason, even after half a year of cooking gluten-free, we’ve never picked any up.

This got me to thinking about ways to substitute for the noodles. It’s really the layers we often want, right? Well…half right maybe. We also want delicious noodles, if we’re honest with ourselves. But before the second thought could usurp the first, I’d had a thought: polenta. That could be the base layer. Amy wasn’t quite having this as a traditional lasagna, but she did have the genius idea of a Mexican lasagna–somewhere between a traditional lasagna, a delicious taco, and a seven layer dip. Behold.

mexican lasagna
This guy is 11 strata of spicy, savory glory. Yep, you read correctly, 11. Here’s a pseudo-diagram, as viewed from the side (layered top to bottom):

tortilla chip crumbs
————————-
thinly sliced tomatoes
————————-
Daiya or homemade cashew cheese (pizza style)
————————-
yellow corn
————————-
tofu ricotta
————————-
thinly sliced tomatoes
————————-
Daiya/cashew cheese
————————-
refried beans
————————-
tofu ricotta
————————-
thinly sliced tomatoes
————————-
polenta

mexican lasagna

This is actually much easier to make than it sounds. The only necessary prep is the polenta and tofu ricotta. We used Daiya this time around, though I think it would do really well with homemade cashew cheese (pizza style) too. You’ll either want to already have that on hand, or think far enough in advance to have soaked some cashews. You can also either go the canned refried bean route (we like Amy’s w/green chilis), or homemade (way better, but a little labor-intensive–this is a great recipe for Mexican feast, day two, since there are always extra beans).

Otherwise, you’re really just layering.

Let’s get started. Preheat your oven to 425.

Polenta Layer

  • 1.5 cups uncooked polenta
  • 3 cups veggie stock
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano

In a sauce pan, bring the veggie stock to a boil  in high heat and add in the polenta and spices/powders. Reduce heat to low and let cook down uncovered. When it’s firmed up, spoon it directly into the bottom of a 13″ x 9″ baking pan (I think ours is actually like 7.5″ x 12″, roughly).

Tex-Mex Ricotta Layer

  • 1 lb tofu
  • 1/2 bunch kale, de-boned
  • 1 small can (4oz) green chilis
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeno, seeded or not (to heat preference)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, de-stemmed
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Drain and press the tofu–the more water you can get out, the better. Combine all of the above ingredients in a food processor. You don’t want to over-blend, just blend enough to get all of the kale and cilantro chopped up and the spices mixed in. You want some texture though–it shouldn’t be completely smooth or too runny.

Remaining Ingredients

  • 2 tomatoes, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 1.5 cups pizza-style cashew cheese or ~half bag of Daiya
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • tortilla chip crumbs (you know, from the bottom of the bag [we save them for just this type of thing])
  • avocado and salsa verde, to garnish

Layer the ingredients in the order above, halving the ricotta and cheese in their respective layers, as they appear twice. Bake covered with foil for about 20 minutes, and uncovered for about 15. This can really cook as long as you like, without worrying too much, as long as you don’t burn the top layer of chips.

Serve garnished with diced avocado (or guacamole) and salsa verde, atop or beside.

mexican lasagna

Gluten-free Pizza, Takes 1 and 2

Now that we’re officially rocking the gluten-free action, we’ve had to revisit a few old favorites. High up on that list was our pizza:

Pizza a la City O City

Of course, pizza crust isn’t typically gluten-free. Nor is our seitan-based pepperoni.

We solved the pepperoni issue by using tofu instead of seitan. We could have used tempeh, of course; but remember, it’s always more fun to have distinct substitutes when you’re going the faux meat route. We prepared the pepperoni marinade mostly as-is, but doubled it:

Tofu Pepperoni

  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu, drained and lightly pressed (to get the water out)
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, ground coarsely (using a mortar and pestle)
  • 1 tsp ground mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp freshly/coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp Liquid Smoke ™
  • 1 – 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • a little water to thin–just enough to coat all of the tofu

We cut the tofu into little triangles, but you could use a shot glass to make discs, if you have a use for the excess tofu, or want to make Ralph Nader cry by throwing the excess away. Your call. Coat the tofu triangles in the marinade, and refrigerate for as long as you can muster. Prepping this in the morning or the evening before is ideal, but even an hour or two will be pretty tasty. Tofu can take a while to absorb flavor.

When you’re ready to start the other pizza ingredients, bake the tofu peps at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through, if necessary. They don’t need to be all the way done, but they should be pretty firm, and done enough that you enjoy eating 1 – 5 of them before putting them on the pizza. Depending on which crust you go with, the pizza may not need to bake a long time.

The Crust(s)

For our first take, we tried this crust from HailMerry (you know, the folks who make those amazing raw, vegan, gfx tarts). Given the quality of their tarts, they seemed pretty trustworthy. The recipe is fairly simple, rises nicely, and cooks well. Pay close attention to the recipe, though–you don’t roll this, you kind of spread it out. Without the gluten to make it stretchy/tacky, it really doesn’t stretch. Check it:

GXF Pizza - Homemade Crust
The only problem with this recipe was the taste–there’s a certain taste to gluten-free baked goods sometimes, a bit like batteries taste (you know, like when you test a 9v…not like devouring them whole or anything). Is it the tapioca starch? The flax seed? 

We probably wouldn’t make this specific recipe again.

The next night, however, we had enough ingredients left over for pizza again (!), so we went with some pre-made crusts (Rustic Crust brand–be careful–not all of their crusts are gfx–just the ones that are clearly labelled so) we got at the coop. To our surprise and delight, they were pretty awesome, thin and crispy. They’re a bit small–in both diameter and thickness–so they really work better as personal pizzas.

GFX Pizza - Store bough crust

All of the other ingredients/steps are the same as the original pizza recipe.

Stay tuned for further adventures in gluten-free crust!

(Recommendations welcome!)

It’s time we talked…

Hello friends! It’s been a while. Over one (1) full Earth year, in fact. Where have we been?! What have we been up to?! Why did we abandon you?! What gives?!

Starting last December (but even then, up to a year prior), after numerous ER trips, doctor’s visits, investigative procedures, and crash diet changes, Amy was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease this last summer. For folks who don’t know, Crohn’s Disease affects your gut–it’s different for everyone, but generally, it can cause very intense abdominal pain, internal fissures, bleeding, etc. Imagine a really, really bad ulcer. The kind that lands you in the ER overnight. It can also seriously inhibit your ability to absorb nutrients. Scary stuff.

Doctors don’t know what causes it.

But the good news is that it’s not typically life-threatening, and there are a slew of (conflicting, unproven) ways to manage it.

There’s the medical way–steroid, immunosuppressants, surgery–and the non-medical way–i.e. diet. Given our commitment to addressing most of our health issues through what we eat, diet seemed like a more natural choice. Here is the Reader’s Digest version:

We charted what foods may be so-called “trigger foods”.  Amy eliminated coffee, most caffeine, red wine, and most booze. She eliminated almost all sugar for 3 months. Almost no honey, fruit, agave–and lots of Stevia (and all of its variants). She gave up gluten. We went raw again for a short time. We started a strict juicing regimen. She re-introduced dairy and eggs to her diet. She exercised more. She exercised less. She sees a nutritionist and takes a variety of natural, high-tech supplements.

To abbreviate (but hopefully not trivialize) things, it’s been a year of dietary turmoil. At last, though, she seems to be in a good place, to have found a combination of approaches and changes that work. And no immunosuppressants yet! I am unspeakably proud of her for sticking to her guns and working so hard to be well on her own terms. This is no small thing, as anyone taking control of their own health like this can tell you.

So where are things now? What worked? What didn’t work?

Gluten-free

Amy is now officially gluten-free. So, gfx community, rejoice! Everything we post from here on out will now be gluten free. While I occasionally eat bread while out, I am largely gfx at home (I’m still finishing off various glutinous products from times passed…but otherwise…beer is probably gluten’s last stronghold in our house). This has been surprisingly easy for the most part (says I, who can eat gluten). There are all kinds of great gfx breads, noodles, etc that make eating gfx at home pretty simple. Not all of these are vegan (I can’t do most breads, but there are some fantastic English muffins, and pretty much all gfx noodles seem to be vegan).

Amy had to give up sugars for 3 months to help eliminate problematic yeast–unrelated to her gluten intolerance (not allergy–she doesn’t have Celiac’s Disease, just a high immune response). She’s now (quite happily) back on the sugars, though we still eat almost no processed sugar.

Raw/Juice-y

This never seems to work out as we’d expect. We’re pretty healthy as it is, so we never feel that serious raw “cleanse” feeling. In fact, Crohn’s sufferers aren’t supposed to eat too much fruit and veggie fiber, so raw actually seemed to tax Amy’s system a little more. Most Crohn’s diets recommend cooked veggies.

We thought we could circumvent this wisdom by eliminating the fiber problem and juicing. No fiber, all the nutrients, right? But this didn’t seem to work wonders either. You do need to eat some solid food. With Crohn’s things are often moving too fast or too slow, if you catch my drift, and juice didn’t help any. Not when you’re already thin, and not when absorbing nutrients might be an issue.

We often wonder, actually, about liquid nutrition (we drink a smoothie for breakfast every morning). If it’s moving through your system so quickly, do you really have time to absorb all of the nutrients you need? The jury’s still out on this one.

Vegetarian/Vegan

Amy has adopted a vegetarian diet. Her iron and protein levels were dangerously low. The iron thing, especially, is not uncommon among vegetarian and vegan women. For a very long time, we regarded this problem as bunk, relegated complaints about low iron to laziness or ignorance. But for some people (especially women), iron can be a real problem. At least for a woman with Crohn’s. Amy is currently taking supplements to help with the iron, but in some important ways, it may not be sufficient. While this does not indict the vegan diet in any general way (I remain vegan, and all of my levels look great), it does indicate that everyone’s body is different. She and I share a diet. I’m in perfect health. “Eating more kale” is not going to solve her iron deficiency. We eat a lot of kale. We still haven’t resolved the ideal solution to this problem. We’d love to hear how anyone else deals with this problem.

Amy’s protein levels were also low. Believe me, we eat a lot of protein. Yes, meat-eaters eat way more protein than they actually need. But if you’re not absorbing nutrients, you’re in a tough situation. You actually need a surplus of protein. The vegan diet supplies just what you need, but probably not a lot more (in normal circumstances, this might be considered one of its virtues). So, she’s turned (largely) to eggs and greek yogurt to provide the extra protein she needs. She’s careful to source free range, happy eggs and milk/yogurt. This was not an easy or trivial decision.

Don’t worry, we’re keeping things 100% vegan on the blog.

Booze/Caffeine

Oh man, was this one was a bear! This is different for every Crohn’s sufferer, but typically, alcohol and caffeine are considered no-nos. For Amy, this seems pretty specific to red wine and coffee. Those are officially verboten. One mixed drink seems okay. Green tea seems okay. Decaf black tea seems okay. To the best of our current knowledge, red wine is her gut’s devil, and was the last to officially be jettisoned.

~

The last year has been committed largely to establishing a diet that could work for us, and thus something personal, something that has been a work in progress. Something perhaps not interesting or suitable for public consumption.

But here we are, one year later. Cooking like always.

Red Lentil Vegetable Stew

What started innocently enough as a “hmm…what do we need to use up?” soup turned out to be one of our new favorites.

Red Lentil Vegetable Soup

Every once in a while I turn to the internets for inspiration. Amy had pinned a bunch of pretty awesome looking recipes on Pinterest, so I scanned through the list for a soup that meshed with a few ingredients I really wanted to use up:

  • 1/2 can of coconut milk
  • 1/2 large can of diced green chiles
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper

And came across this recipe.

We’d just had Mediterranean a few days ago, so maybe that’s why I had lentils on the brain. Because the only actual ingredient that matched up was the coconut milk, and I didn’t even have enough of that on had to make the recipe properly. But I’d just used the other half of the can to make a Chana Masala (I think I knew, deep down inside, that using coconut milk would make it less, not more, authentic…but I’m getting desperate. I can’t get entirely inside the Indian cooking mind…sigh…). I knew from that experience that a whole can would be more than what I was after anyway.

We didn’t really want a curry, and Amy requested vegetables, so this became a hybrid of our standard vegetable soup (here, here, and here) and the curried red lentil soup recipe–a hearty stew, but richer and tangier.

Red Lentil Vegetable Stew

  • 2 cups red split lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 large can of green chiles, diced (2 small cans)
  • 1 fresh jalapeno or serrano chili, seeded (optional), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 6 cups veggie stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3 carrots, cut into discs
  • 1/2 zucchini, cut into half-discs
  • 1/2 bunch of kale, chopped coarsely
  • salt, to taste

In a large soup pot, begin sauteing the onion. Add in the carrots, potato, and garlic, and ginger, in that order (cut the onion up first, then prep the other ingredients and add them in as you finish each). Once the onions have softened, add in the spices, some salt, and tomato paste, cooking for another 2 – 3 minutes, until everything is well-coated. Add in the lentils, veggie stock, water, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer until the lentils are cooked thoroughly–probably 20 -30 minutes, though you can leave it on low for quite a while with no ill effect.

About 5 minutes before you’d like to serve the soup, add in the kale and zucchini. Once the zucchini is softened to your liking, you’re ready to eat this soup like there’s no tomorrow.

Serve with (gfx) bread. Delicious!

Banana Bread (that eats like a cake)

This got this wonderful banana bread recipe from my dear friend and fellow artist Jennifer Bock-Nelson. Sorry I don’t have an image of the mini loaves themselves, but I did manage to snap a photo of it all wrapped up for Christmas giving. At the request of Bridget, one of the lucky bread recipients, here’s the recipe.

Banana Bread*

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil (we use safflower)
  • 2 tbsp egg substitute (we use unsweetened peanut butter)
  • 1 tbsp baking soda
  • 5 tbsp soy / rice / almond milk with 1/2 tsp of apple cider vinegar mixed into it (simulates buttermilk)
  • 4 very ripe, mashed bananas
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • blueberries, nuts, chocolate chips are all optional additions
Preheat over to 325 degrees.
Mix all ingredients in order. Spoon mixture into greased loaf pans (or ungreased non-stick loaf pans). Bake for anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes. Once the loaves are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, they’re ready. Allow to cool in pans before flipping out onto a cooling rack.
Makes two regular-sized loaves or four mini loaves.
* You can call this bread if it makes you feel better about eating what is so deliciously cake-like ;)

Easy Traditional Pumpkin Pie

As I checked in our blog today, searching for the pumpkin pie recipe we made two Thanksgivings ago, I was appalled to find nary a trace of it, as if such deliciosity had ne’er occurred! I did a cursory web search, trying to find something that approximated what we’d made previously, but everything seemed to have too much of a flourish, or to be too goop-y. Ours stays very close to the traditional pumpkin pies of yore, and Amy wisely suggested that we consult a traditional recipe–in this case Amy’s mom’s copy of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.

The only substitutions we made were one block of silken tofu in place of the condensed milk and eggs. The silken tofu makes for a great consistency, binds well, and doesn’t add anything extraneous to the taste. The pie crust could easily be your favorite gluten-free version.

We’ll post back shortly with some additional photos, but we wanted to get this out the door in time for anyone who wants a really simple, traditional pumpkin pie recipe in time for Faux-Turkey day tomorrow.

  • 1 9 inch pie crust (this one works great)
  • 1 16oz can of pumpkin filling (or 2 cups homemade)
  • 1 box of  extra firm silken tofu (probably Mori Nu ™ brand)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend all of the ingredients (except the pie crust, unless you hate awesome pie) in a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the blended filling into the pie crust, nested, conveniently in a pie pan. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 and bake for an additional 35 – 40 minutes, until the top of the pie has just begun to brown or the pie passes the toothpick test.
We’re planning on whipping up some Rich’s ™ to serve on top, but this is great by itself, with vegan whipped cream, or your favorite vanilla soy/almond/etc ice cream.
Happy Spanksgiving!

We’re featured on the Made Just Right (Earth Balance folks) blog!

Happy almost Spanksgiving everyone! The folks over at Made Just Right featured our Faux Turkey recipe!

We’ll be making this again this year, while visting Amy’s folks in their new home in Iowa. The Spanksgiving faux turkey is becoming a bit of a tradition.

Just think, last year we were celebrating with new friends in Iceland:

 Since Spanksgiving is largely about tradition, I’m not sure we’ll be breaking any new molds this year–but if we get a wild hare, we’ll be sure to post.

Cheers!

Pie Season!

Mark’s birthday fell on Labor Day this year and we had friends in town for the long weekend. Saturday was one of those beautiful later summer days and apples were already out at a couple of the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market stalls. So naturally I bought a 25 lb bag. The last of the raspberries were also available, so I bought a quart, deciding then and there to bake Mark an apple/raspberry pie for his birthday.

Little secret. I dislike raspberries. I know I know. I like them okay to just pop in my mouth and I like raspberry soy or coconut yogurt, but I pretty much loathe them in everything else. SO I decided to bake TWO pies: plain apple (read: for me) and the other one for him. Our friends seemed to generally open to eating a bunch of pie, whatever the filling.

Another little secret. This was my first time baking pie. Ever. Though I have made a mean tofu quiche, so I decided to use that recipe for the crusts. Here’s what I did for the whole project…

Apple Pie and/or Raspberry-Apple Pie

  • About nine small apples, cut into slivers (use slightly less, maybe 6 for the AR pie)
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pie crust (I followed this recipe we use for quiche crust) and it worked great
  • 1 quart fresh raspberries, if using

Start out by making the pie crust and let it chill in pie plate in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients. One note: for two pies I tripled the crust recipe, one whole recipe for each pie and then half a recipe each to roll out for the tops of the pies.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. To make a simple filling that requires no apple peeling or pre-cooking, mix apples (and raspberries if using), OJ, sugar and cinnamon in a large bowl. Allow to sit for a few minutes so the flavors can combine.

Taking the pie crust from the fridge, spoon the filling into the crust. Roll out half a crust recipe onto a sheet of wax paper or rolling mat, and carefully overturn thinly rolled crust onto the top of the pie. Tearing off any excess crust (this is fun to roll into little balls and bake with your pie), pinch the edges of the top crust onto the sides of the bottom crust, sealing up the pie. Cut little slits in pretty or amusing patterns in the top crust with a floured sharp knife so that the juices can escape if necessary. Dust the top with cinnamon and sugar for good measure.

I set the pie plate on a cookie sheet lest the pie drool all over the oven (which the raspberry pie decided to do–see photo above). Bake the pie for thirty minutes, then turn the heat down to 375 and bake for about 15-20 more minutes or until the crust is golden brown and crisp-looking. Once cool(ish), enjoy with birthday boys and friends!

OK!

So what’s next? This:

So after that adventure into pie semi-success (I thought the pie with raspberries was offensive, but everyone else really liked it), I still had more than half of the 25 lb. bag of apples left. So another beautiful Saturday about two weeks later, I decided that baking little personal pies would be just the thing. Mark, having fond memories of eating Hostess ™ pies as a kid, was in full support.

I decided to try out a different recipe for the crust, more of a flaky, pastry approach. I adapted this recipe from the Purple Foodie. Not a veg blog, but the recipes look great and are very adaptable and her photos are gorgeous! I substituted Earth Balance ™ for butter and a tablespoon of applesauce for each egg. I tripled the recipe for the amount of apples I had: approximately 20-25 smalls.

For a change, I also decided to peel the apples. Mark and I used a counter top apple peeler with mixed success. This gadget is great if your apples are large and firm, but ours were little and had turned over to the mealy side, SO it was quite messy and not the prettiest process in the world. But it made apple chopping easy since in addition to peeling, it also cores and cuts them into spirals. A few slices of the knife and they were in appropriate-sized pieces.

I used the same filling recipe as before, rolling out the dough into roughly the size of a dessert-plate (6-8 inches) and dolloping a generous amount of filling into the middle of each one. I folded, cinched edges, cut slits and performed the requisite cinnamon sugar dusting and popped trays of about five mini pies each into the oven for about 40 minutes or so per cycle.

Once Mark and I had stuffed ourselves with pie (YUM!) I panicked and wondered what we would do with the other dozen or so mini pies we had leftover. Since it was a gorgeous day (and we had just consumed a ridiculous amount of calories) I got the zany idea to wrap up the rest of the cooled pies in wax paper and deliver them to friends all over town by bike. We had a ball riding around town and leaving pies on front and back porches for friends. Naturally we let them know they were there so no racoons got an undue treat that evening.


If you ever find yourself with 18 lb. of apples on a sunny Saturday afternoon, I highly recommend following suit.

Designer Imposters #2: Soba/Udon Salad

One of the unexpected culinary delights in our recent Southwest Road Trip was Salt Lake City. Not only was it beautiful, friendly, and relatively inexpensive, it boasted not one but two all-vegan restaurants! All vegan. The first one we visited upon arriving was Sage’s Cafe, somewhat upscale and very cozy. The menu was very manageable–more than enough to choose for two nights in a row, but small enough that everything seemed to be made with love. A small menu is usually a great sign–and sure enough, everything we had there was amazing. Sage’s has jumped to the top of our vegan restaurant list.

On our first night, we got the tacos vegetarianos (w/vegan chicken) and the soba salad.

As you can see, I’d already eaten half of the Soba Salad before Amy could bust out the camera.

For desert we had a rare treat: tiramisu.

This was one of those experiences that was so good, we wanted to replicate it at home. We make a lot of Mexican, and don’t do a lot of desserts, so in this case, we focused on the Soba Salad:

buckwheat noodles tossed in a sesame vinaigrette served on a bed of mixed greens and topped with tahini dressing,
seasonal vegetables, and cumin-sesame blackened tempeh

Since this is a salad, the noodles and tempeh are cooked and warm, but everything else is cold/raw. We didn’t have any soba noodles on hand, so we used udon noodles (the variety we had on hand were thinner, like soba). Otherwise, ours ended up pretty close to theirs:

Soba/Udon Salad

Salad

  • 1 pack of udon or soba noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 package of tempeh, sliced into thin strips
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • ~ 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 1 large carrot, shredded or sliced very thinly
  • 1 -2 heads of broccoli, cut into small pieces (if you’re not cooking broccoli, it mixes in with a salad better if it’s small)
  • 1/4 head purple cabbage, sliced into strips
  • ~8 – 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into disks then quartered
  • 1/4 purple onion, cut into disks, then halved
  • lots of green and/or red leaf lettuce
Dressing
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • water, to desired consistency
  • salt and pepper, to taste
~ OR ~ you can use this Thai Peanut Dressing.
Preparation is pretty simple. At least an hour–but ideally a day–in advance, cut the tempeh into strips and marinade it in a mix of the soy sauce, sesame oil, and cumin. Start the noodles cooking in boiling water. Then, either grill or saute the tempeh over medium heat (if you’re sauteing, use sesame oil). While you’re waiting on the noodles, you can prep the rest of the salad ingredients and build up the salad, starting with the lettuce. Once everything is done, stack the remaining ingredients, ending with the noodles then the tempeh.
Stay tuned as we reproduce our entrees from night two at Sage’s (yep–it was that good!).

CSA Summer Cookdown #3: Thai Cucumber Salad

Even without the large batch of cucumbers we got from the CSA share, we’ve been up to our eyeballs in them, thanks to the same friends who kindly donated their CSA share. We trade for zucchini for these on occasion–Zukes for Cukes, as Christine calls it. After foisting as many of these onto our other friends as we could, we still had a boatload to deal with. Our friend Jen wisely recommended this recipe for a Thai cucumber salad. Since we also had some jalapenos and cilantro to use up, this seemed perfect.

The recipe called for 1/2 cup of white sugar, which seemed like a lot, so we decided to try nixing it, supplementing with agave if necessary. It also called for fresh peanuts, which we didn’t happen to have on hand, so we subbed crunchy peanut butter. We also reduced the vinegar a bit–1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar seemed like a lot. The result was pretty amazing–zesty with just the right amount of zang. It didn’t necessarily complement the eggplant parmesan we were having as leftovers, but would be a great addition to any number of summer meals.

Thai Cucumber Salad

  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup crunch peanut butter
  • 1/8 cup water (just enough to thin this enough to coat the cucumbers)
Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl. This refrigerates well, so you can make it in advance of a more complex meal, if necessary.
3 cucumbers down, 8 to go…