Friend Feature: Mandi’s Amazing Salads

Today’s post comes to us courtesy of a very good friend, former Lethbian who now lives in Edmonton, Mandi.   She has slowly transitioned to become almost full time vegetarian for the health of her family. Way to go Mandi!  Below she shares a flexible recipe for salad… and its not your standard crappy lettuce salad.. this stuff’s a meal!

When my mom came to visit my family for the week she made all sorts of salad combinations. She use to do this while I still lived with her before I was married. I loved  all the combinations , you really can put anything in a salad – it doesn’t have to be a bowl of bland greens with a few chopped veggies. It doesn’t have to be greens, croutons and a pound of dressing.

This was an LP-PL salad remix. the base of it all was my mixture of ‘rice’ I find brown rice a hard to swallow sometimes so I mixed it up and added green lentils, buckwheat, quinoa, and pearl barley to it and mix it in a container. I find that in the rice cooker I have, a 1/2 cup of this grains mixture with 1 cup of water is perfect for making all grains soft and edible without being mushy.

With the grain mixture heated and in the bottom of the bowl acting as the base, we added rainbow slaw which is shredded broccoli and cauliflower stalks with shredded purple cabbage and carrots.
Then we added pumpkin seeds, pomegranate crasins, peanuts, black beans, catalina dressing, Vega EFA oil, and cracked black pepper. *mom used lemon juice and olive oil instead of catilina dressing*

Well it was a hit! we ate it for lunch and dinner then we experimented and made up so many different combinations but always keeping the above as our basics (until we ran out of pumpkin seeds and peanuts) each combination was so good. I have re-discovered that salad can be amazingly flavorful.
taco chips
snap peas
green beans
crushed spelt pretzels
pineapple chunks
blueberry crasins

We would add one or more of these ingredients to give each dish a new hit of texture or flavor. I really liked the base salad with the crushed pretzels on top when we ran out of peanuts. And throwing in a few slices of pickles in there was a surprisingly good thing.

I choose crazy home made salads to any of the salads on any fast food menu any day.


Quicker Baked Beans with Beer

Welcome to Spring!  And.. its snowing… again… in fact, there’s a snowfall warning!

But, let’s look on the bright side- what better excuse for some comfort food.

I got home and I was craving Baked Beans… and though I have 4 cans of readymade baked beans in the pantry, that wouldn’t cut it.  I wanted real baked beans, hot from the oven… sweet, savory, and filling.  Full of protein.  Combined with a crispy buttered (or margarine-ed) bun, perhaps a crisp salad or coleslaw, and a good beer, it really warms you up on a chilly day.

So I checked the cookbooks for a ‘quick’ version of baked beans that I could make with canned beans, as there was, unfortunately no time to soak and cook dried beans.  I found only one recipe and it was for ‘baked beans with bacon’, which obviously, did not cut it for a non-pig flesh eater.  That’s okay, I don’t like to follow recipes to a tee anyway.  I had some black & kidney beans, a cast iron dutch oven, and a bunch of homebrew waiting in the wings.

Quicker Baked Beans with Beer
(vegan friendly)

Preheat oven to 350

Combine in a baking dish, such as a dutch oven (deeper rather than shallower):

  • Approx 3 cups of cooked, canned beans, rinsed well (I used white kidney and black beans.. feel free to experiment)
  • 1/4c ketchup
  • 1/2c minced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp molasses (natural, unsulphured if possible)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • A squirt of hot sauce
  • A squirt of olive oil
  • 1/2 c beer (I used a home-brewed amber ale.  This also leaves you a bit to whet your appetite while the beans bake)
  • 1 Tbsp of vegetarian bacon bits (available in most grocery stores)
  • Freshly ground pepper & Salt to taste
  • Your choice of herbs & spices (optional)… I have an organic ‘no salt’ organic herb mix from costco…

Mix well.  The beauty of this dish is you can mix it right in the baking vessel.  I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven.  If you don’t have one, man they are a blessing!  They cook everything so beautifully, without drying out.

Bake for 40 min with lid on.  Stir.
If too dry, add more beer!
Remove lid and bake for another 10-20 min


And if you’ve now got a hankering for some good beer, check out the LCSA International Beer & Music Festival at the College Barn this Thursday.  Featuring the following beers:

North Coast Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout
Saison Dupont Vieille Provision
Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale
Harviestoun Old Engine Oil
Pilsner Urquell
Schneider Aventinus
Central City Red Racer India Pale Ale
Wild Rose India Pale Ale
Hacker Pschorr Hefe Weisse

Mulligatawny Veggie Soup

Lethbridge got about 20cm of snow in the last 24 hours.  So when I got home, I decided it was a soup night.

So out comes the good ‘ol Joy of Cooking; which practically lives on the kitchen counter now- we reference it often.  I highly recommend it, though it does have lots of meat recipes in it, these can simply be ignored or improvised.  Hmmm.. black bean soup, U.S. Senate bean soup (uh.. no!), lentil soup with greens… nope.

Mulligatawny.  I’ve always been curious- I’ve never been able to try it since it always seems to have meat in it.

Mulligatawny, a curried soup brought back from India by British colonists, is the Anglicized name of two words for “pepper water,” molegoo (pepper) and tunee (water).The real Mulligatawny is a traditional curry-flavored pea and lentil peasant dish. Indian restaurants today serve it as a vegetarian soup and appetizer. The Anglicized version adds chicken so it’s more like a stew and suitable as a meal in itself. Originally the soup was enriched with coconut milk and embellished with almonds and apples. It can also contain rice, eggs, cream, and other meats besides chicken.

from global gourmet

Strangely, this mulligatawny recipe had no lentils, peas or almonds.  It’s the sort of dish you can improvise on- as long as you have the basics down (the rich, spicy broth being paramount) Which is exactly what I did to make it vegetarian.  I also had a few things kicking around from my garden, the last of the carrots and the apples I chopped and froze back in the fall.  Perfect!

This took less than half an hour to prepare and cook; perfect for a weekday night when you have little energy left for cooking.  It can also be made vegan very simply; just use coconut milk instead of cream and vegetable oil instead of butter.

Vegetarian Mulligatawny Soup
adapted from the Joy of Cooking

Heat in a soup pot over medium heat:

  • 1/4c (1/2 stick) butter or vegetable oil

Add and cook, stirring until softened:

  • 1/2c diced onion
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced

Add and cook, stirring about 3 mins:

  • 1.5 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp curry powder (i used medium)

After the mixture dries out a bit and coats the veggies add

  • 4c  veggie broth
  • 1 bay leaf

Boil, reduce heat and simmer 15 mins.  Add:

  • 1/4c diced tart apples
  • 1/2c cooked rice (I used quinoa instead for more nutrition)
  • 1/2c veggie chicken, diced (I used some TVP and added a little extra liquid.  You could also use crumbled tofu, lentils, or your favorite protein filled meat substitute.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest.  This is an important ingredient!  Make sure you use fresh!

Simmer for 15 minutes, remove bay leaf.  then add:

  • 1/2c heavy cream or unsweetened coconut milk

Heat through, do not boil.

Serve & enjoy!

Nutritional Yeast Dressing

Many vegetarians and vegans are fond of Nutritional Yeast. It’s high in B vitamins (which vegetarians need) and tastes good.  It can be used many ways, but mostly as a type of seasoning or condiment-  sprinkled on food or mixed into sauces or dressings.  And for those vegans who miss cheese- it tastes like cheese!

If you’ve never tried or seen nutritional yeast before, it’s a yellow, flaky or powdery substance.  According to wikipedia, it is produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses, then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging the yeast.  If you’ve ever tried marmite or vegemite, it has a similar taste (less salty though).  Keep in mind, it is not a live yeast. And you can get it in Lethbridge- try the natural foods section at save on, superstore, or nutters.  I know for sure Bob’s red mill makes it, but there are many different brands.

Back when I worked at a certain organic eatery/grocery store  in Edmonton (which has now been downscaled drastically), the Nutritional Yeast Dressing was a customer favorite.  Us workers constantly had to replenish the container of it in the salad bar.  (On a side note, the salad bar was awesome: you got a bowl, and you filled it up with whatever you want in the salad bar- organic greens, veggies, nuts, pre-made pasta & noodle salads, and everyone’s favorite organic goat feta). 

Luckily, I still have the recipe and use it often.  I don’t know where it came from, or who made it up, but it’s too good to keep a secret any longer!  Just get a  clean, empty salad dressing bottle (preferably glass), a funnel and all your ingredients, and you’re good to go!

Its good on more than just salads- think warm veggies, lentils or noodles…

Nutritional Yeast Salad Dressing

  • 1/2 c nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 c tamari (or soy sauce or braggs.. but I like tamari best)
  • 4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 c water
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 c flax seed oil or olive oil (or a mixture of  both)

Pour all ingredients into a bottle using a funnel.  Leave a couple inches of headspace.  Shake until mixed.

I find in the  bottle I use I can only fit about a cup of oil in, which works fine for me.  You can top it up with more oil as you begin to use it.

It is normal for the dressing to separate, therefore give it a quick shake before using it.  I also found that the olive oil goes slightly solid when I put this in the fridge (and please do store in the fridge) so you just have to remember to take it out of the fridge for a few minutes before using.