Oh Yes, It’s Ladies Night
Editor’s Note: As gansie and I were both M.I.A. for a couple of days there, we’ve of course been bugging our friends for some recipe posts. Loyal ESer Maidelitala came through and then some. Here’s her latest fully-veggie meal plan.
Recently I had a dinner at my new digs JUST for LADIES: A much needed, and barely-belated fête to welcome two new additions from dear old Macalester to town. Unfortunately the date I picked for the ladies’ dinner conflicted with the premier of this season’s Project Runway, excluding a troop of women friends, and reducing our numbers to a mere gaggle of eight (and not the veritable multitude who I might have otherwise mustered…what? I’m not bragging, I just know a lot of AMAZING women in the District). WELL, apologies to the PR premier crowd, because our dinner was frackin’ fabuloso.
Despite a heart-wrenching snafu with mole-roasted cauliflower (I couldn’t force down more than a bite, so I tossed it before the invitees arrived and were forced to endure my shame), and with spirited contributions from the guests–including a mouth-watering and apropos mango salsa–I executed a tasty, stuff-yourself-into-a-food-coma spread for the ladies.
I served a summery dish of red cabbage and roasted cashew salad, homemade spicy hummus, and a flavorful fresh tofu and vegetable curry over steamed brown rice (the curry was a last minute stand-in for the mess of a mole-roasted cauliflower). As ya’ll will no doubt note, the meal was wholly vegetarian and lactose-free, and by all accounts delicious. Devoted Project Runway fan Gansie even missed the PR premier to sample the goodies. Anyway, the contents of our conversations over copious amounts of wine (provided by some of the guests) is not for public consumption, but the recipes (and amazing photos courtesy of the harrowing efforts of my girl Elenora) are available below for your perusal.
2 cups dried chickpeas, submerged overnight in water, ½ cup lemon juice, a bay leaf and paprika and drained
1 extra bay leaf
5 cups vegetable stock with about 1/3 cub lemon juice
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic bulbs
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dry-fried and crushed coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup minced fresh parsely
One tablespoon shug (save some more to garnish)
Salt to taste
This is a tahini free, oil free recipe, as you no doubt notice. It’s still mighty tasty!
Place drained chickpeas, a bay leaf and the vegetable stock and lemon juice mixture into 2-3 quart pot. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer covered for about 2 hours, or until beans are quite tender. Drain the beans of remaining liquid, remove the bay leaf and reserve one cup of the stock.
While you’re waiting for those chickpeas to cook (I hate waiting!) roast the garlic. Set your oven to 375 degrees and place the bulbs, with the peel still on, directly on the rack. Let the bulbs cook for about 15 minutes. Let them cool and then peel the cloves. You can also add a few raw cloves to the food processor to give the hummus an extra garlic kick.
Transfer chickpeas to a food processor and puree. Add the ¼ cup of lemon juice and the cup of reserved stock to the hummus. Remember, not all of the chickpeas need to be mashed up. I love getting the surprise of a still whole chick pea in a bite of tasty freshly made hummos…. Add the shug and the parsley and roasted garlic, and give the food processor another whirl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Salt to taste. Chill for about an hour. Place a spoonful more of the shug on top of the hummus as a hot!hot!hot! delicious garnish.
This recipe is perfect served on cucumber or celery.
Red Cabbage and Roasted Cashew Salad
1 1/2 cups unsalted raw cashews
1/2 of a medium-large red cabbage
1 basket of cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
1 tablespoon curry powder
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
One cap full of olive oil whisked with 1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
One finely diced hot cherry pepper, seeded and veined (optional if your guests are sensitive)
Sprinkle raw cashews with season salt and splenda (or sugar). In a skillet roast the cashews for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan a few times to avoid burning. If you have extra cashews, put them aside for people to snack on… they sure are tasty!
Cut the cabbage into two quarters and cut out the core. Shred each quarter into thin slices, bite-sized. Combine the cabbage, tomatoes, cherry pepper, and cilantro in a bowl.
In a separate bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt and whisk. Add to the cabbage mixture and gently stir to combine. Just before serving fold in the cashews. Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt if needed. Serve room temperature or chilled.
Simple Tofu Vegetable Curry
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2-3 dried chilis
1/3 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 green chili, chopped
1 -2 tablespoons curry powder
1 medium julienned onion
5 Chopped garlic cloves
One package of extra-firm tofu, cubed
One small purple and white striped eggplant
Two cups of broccoli florets
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
Caramelize one medium-sized onion in a large, heavy frying pan. Separately, dry-fry coriander, cumin seeds, and whole chilies. Shake for a minute over medium heat, or until chilies darken, then crush the spicy mixture as best you can. Add the caramelized onion, and several cloves of garlic to the mixture and spray on a bit of Pam. After about a minute, sprinkle liberally with curry powder and add about a half cup of water. Place tofu carefully in the pan and allow it to cook on medium heat for about five minutes (if the sauce starts to evaporate, add more water). Now cut the eggplant into cubes, removing the stem (duh!) but leaving on the skin (isn’t it so pretty). Place the eggplant between tofu pieces, fleshy side down whenever possible. Add nutritional yeast (optional) and a bit more water. The nutritional yeast will add a taste not unlike Indian clarified butter, known on the subcontinent as ghee, to the curry. Add broccoli, tomatoes, and turmeric. Stir carefully. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Right before you turn off the heat add two more chopped garlic cloves and the chopped green chili. Broccoli should be a little crunchy, and the tofu should be a bright orange/yellow. Serve over rice.
Mango Salsa (As seen Above)
(Large – serves 6)
5 Champagne (or “Ataulfa”) mangoes or 4 ripe typical mangoes, diced
½ large red onion, minced (or chopped in a food processor – the smaller the better)
2 chilies (hot to taste), minced
Juice of 3 limes
2 bell peppers, diced
Cilantro (here’s the ingredient I forgot!)
So the direx below aren’t how I did it exactly, but if I had time I would do it this way:
Let chilies, lime juice, and pinch of salt sit together in a bowl while you chop mangoes. If you have a pestle you could even muddle these together a bit to release the chili flavor. Add the red onion once it’s chopped (the lime juice will help soften the flavor).
Chop mangoes and cilantro and peppers & toss with chili powder to taste. Mix in with chili/lime/onion/salt. Serve at room temp.