Sweet Potato Vinaigrette

 

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Are you thinking… why and how is sweet potato in a dressing? Here I was planning for a tasting organized by Yelp Houston at my lovely farm Loam Agronomics over the weekend, so decided to use these sweet potatoes that were starring at me from my box of vegetables! Specially since this event was about “Texas Made“, nothing like using my Texas sweet potatoes for this new recipe.

Also, I am always thinking of ways to use more vegetables in my recipes, and I was thinking of something slightly sweet and tangy that could go with some fresh and delicious hard greens like Arugula, Mustard Greens or even with something sweeter and tender like Spinach, all of course also grown at Loam.

Now that we did the tasting, without tooting my own horn I must say that the dressing was received with plenty of curiosity and adventure and and welcomed to many a helpings as it was enjoyed by all adults and kids too! Some lovely notes shared by these adventurous “yelpers”. Read some of their heartfelt notes an feedback here on Facebook!

Now to the recipe that is so simple and quick! (except for the roasting of the potatoes that does take a while but required minimal effort)

 

Ingredients:

1 medium sweet potato

2-4 cloves garlic

1-2 table spoons maple syrup (optional)

1-2 small sprigs of fresh Rosemary or a small pinch or dry Rosemary

1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/3 cup Apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup water (add more  or less water if dressing is thick or thin, also depends on how big the sweet potato is!)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Roast the sweet potato in a preheated oven at 385 F for about 1 hour or until completely cooked and soft.

Add all ingredients, except the water to the blender. Blend well. Add in water as needed. Blend again.

Serve over your favorite greens! Share with your family and friends! You will be eating vegetables on vegetables with this dressing. Write back and tell us what you think of it!

 

 

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Vegan Ranch Dressing

 

Think creamy, luscious and flavorful! Thing healthy ingredients to dip these fresh radishes and turnips from Loam Agronomics. Not that these vegetables aren’t already flavorful enough. Fresh from the farm to my plate. I am so grateful

Why do I eat local vegetables? Why do I eat some of them raw?

  1. Fruits and vegetables are concentrated sources of phytonutrients
  2. Local produce is loaded with Soil based organisms
  3. Locally grown food is full of flavor.
  4. Eating local food is eating seasonally.
  5. Local food supports the local economy.
  6. Local food benefits the environment.
  7. Local foods promote a safer food supply.
  8. Local growers can tell you how the food was grown, and you can hug your farmer and thank him!

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Ingredients:

1 cup cashews soaked overnight

1/3-1/2 cup neutral flavor oil (avocado or grape seed oil will work)

1/4 – 1/2 cup Water- start with 1/4 cup, add more to get desired consistency, as a dip or dressing

1/2 lemon juiced

1-2 cloves garlic

1/3 teaspoon mustard

1/4 teaspoon raw honey (optional, to me the cashews are already sweet enough!)

3-4 tablespoons Nutritional yeast (add extra for cheesier flavor, I always add extra)

1/4 teaspoon dried dill (you can also use fresh dill if you have it on hand)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Blend all the ingredients in your Vitamix or blender of choice. As always adjust any ingredient to your tastes.

Serve with a platter of fresh crudites- Red radishes, Shunkyo radish, Scarlett turnips, Hinona Kabu Turnips, Carrots and Celery! And if you wish to get some of these amazing varieties of radishes and turnips head over to Loam Agronomics and sign up for their CSA!!

If you wish to try a version with probiotics (this one is not vegan but has plenty of health benefits!) head over to another home made ranch recipe! 

Sauteed Cow pea greens and squash

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This year has been wonderful in terms of trying new vegetables! Thanks to the wonderful farmers at Loam Agronomics I got to try Cow peas and this week’s CSA box is going to have Cow pea greens. I was so fortunate to try some out last night. Of course first I tasted them raw, they tasted somewhere between a spinach and a collard green to me. I could probably eat them raw in a salad, specially with an amazing dressing. But I decided to pair them with a roasted Delicata squash in this dish and wanted somewhat of a sautéed greens as the base.

 

Ingredients:

1 Delicata squash sliced up into round or semi circles ( or 2 cups of your favorite squash)

A sprig of rosemary

1 tablespoon pecan oil or avocado oil or any high temperature cooking oil

1/2 cup finely sliced red onion

1 bunch Cow pea greens or 1 small bunch of collard greens

2 handful pine nuts (Am I sounding like Jamie Oliver?, if you ever read his recipes he uses bunch, handful and dash of this and that in places!)

Salt and pepper to taste

2 table spoons olive oil

2-4 cloves garlic minced ( I used 3! Make it as “garlicky” as you wish)

Some balsamic vinegar (this will be drizzled on top of your dish and maybe a few dashes on the greens too)

Extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top of the dish as well

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 390 F. Toss the squash, onions, avocado oil, some salt and some rosemary and roast in oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the squash is cooked well but not limp. Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the slices and the size of your squash too.

In a pan  add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the minced garlic till fragrant but not browned. Then add the washed and rough chopped cow pea or collard greens. (For this dish I removed all the larger and hard stems, you may save for stock or bone broth in your freezer or compost). Saute for about 5 minutes or till tender. You may need to also add a few table spoons water while sauteing to prevent the greens from drying out. Add a few dashes of balsamic vinegar. and plenty of fresh cracked pepper and some salt to taste.

Once the greens and squash are both ready, plate the greens, top with squash and the onions. Drizzle some balsamic and extra virgin olive oil, maybe another bit of cracked pepper and the pine nuts. Serve warm.

 

 

Chilled Summer Pepper Soup

 

I love peppers and this year thanks to Loam Agronomics I have had an amazing pick of local summer peppers. This picture doesn’t even cover the variety or include any of the hot ones! Definitely doesn’t  share the incredible flavors.

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For this chilled summer pepper soup I picked out 4 red peppers and roasted them to enhance the flavor and sweetness.

 

Ingredients:

4 red peppers

1/3 cup cashews soaked for about 4 to 8 hours

2-4 table spoons of  good rich balsamic vinegar for soup and topping drizzle

2-3 cloves of garlic crushed and rough chopped

2-4 tablespoons of a good rich extra virgin olive oil for soup and topping drizzle (I use an Italian unfiltered one for topping and regular one for sauteing the garlic)

Salt and pepper to taste

3- 4 cups of vegetable broth (or you may use bone broth for extra protein)

Hemp seeds for topping (optional)

 

Method:

Roast the peppers till tender in a preheated oven for about 35 to 45 minutes at 385 F.

One cooled remove stems and seeds.

 

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Saute garlic in olive oil for a few minutes till fragrant and soft- better to not let it brown or it may become pungent.

Add peppers, garlic, cashews, salt, pepper, 2 cups broth at first, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar. Blend well and add more broth till it reaches your desired consistency ( you may enjoy a thinner soup or more of a bisque like soup). Chill for a few hours. Serve nice and cold topped with a drizzle of a good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic. Additionally top with some hemp seeds for extra crunch and protein.

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Roasted Eggplant “Bharta”

I love eggplant in every form I have ever had it in. This is one of my favorite recipes that I grew up eating eggplant as “bharta”. It means a mash. The roasting gives it a lovely flavor. I roasted the Loam Agronomics eggplant in my oven for this recipe but if its done on a grill or in a smoker or open fire it would taste even better! This time the bharta was very flavorful.. must be the local and fresh eggplant, tomatoes and chili from my Loam Agronomics CSA box!

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon ghee or avocado oil

1 small to medium-sized eggplant

2 small tomatoes diced

1 cup diced onion

1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

1 green chili or hot pepper

A few pinches of garam masala  (a spice mix)

A few pinches of chili powder

 

Method:

Roast eggplant with a few slits at 365 F for 45 minutes to an hour (till soft and easily mash-able). You can cook the onions in the ghee in a pan till soft and caramelized or roast the diced onions and chopped green chili in avocado oil along side the roasting eggplant but the onions should be done in about 35 minutes or so.

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Once onions are softened and slightly browned, add the fresh ginger to a pan, saute a few minutes and then add the spices and hot pepper. Then cook for a few minutes more and add the roasted eggplant. You may mash it up in the pan or mash it in a bowl and then add to the pan. Cook another 5 minutes, then add the diced tomatoes and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Serve hot, topped with cilantro, with tortilla or pita bread.

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Crispy Roasted Okra

Okra has always been one of my favorite vegetables. Many people I meet or cook for have not  or had not fallen in love with it, because it can be tricky to cook. If not fried then sometimes it turns up as a sticky and gooey mess. This oven roasted crispy okra is my favorite way to cook and enjoy Okra these days. Specially because it is so simple and quick. This recipe has even converted some non Okra lovers into liking Okra again!

 

I start by washing the Okra and drying it out really well (this is important to ensure that the Okra cooks crispy and not mushy!) Look at all these beautiful shapes and colors of Okra from my local Loam Agronomics CSA box.

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Once the Okra is dry.. it’s just a matter of slicing into equal sized strips. I try to make one skinny okra into about 4 strips.. pinky finger in length or about so. The bigger and thicker ones we need to slice up into more segments of course.

Ingredients:

3-4 handfuls of fresh Okra

2 tablespoons Avocado oil (any high temperature oil will work, Grapeseed is another good one)

1/2 teaspoon or more chili powder (add more if you like it spicy)

1 teaspoon coriander powder (again add more if you love coriander as I do..)

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

Salt to taste

Method:

Slit Okra into equal sized strips, toss in oil, spices and salt. Lay flat on a cookie sheet or oven safe dish.

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Cook in a preheated oven at 380 F for about 20-25 minutes. Check to see if all are evenly cooked. At this point you may remove some crispy ones to taste. Put back into the oven (if needed) and cook for another 5 -8 minutes until all are cooked and crispy. Enjoy as a snack or a side.

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I topped my fresh sliced tomatoes with it once, another time I just ate a whole plate of them as they came out of the oven.

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Also great for topping a good bowl of lentil soup. They usually don’t last very long!

 

Herbed Cucumber Smoothie

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Thanks to Loam Agronomics I got a new green to try this summer and also cooling, fresh and local cucumbers.  This herb is called Papaloquelite and has a very interesting flavor- it is not like any other herb.. but because it is quite strong.. I could say if you mixed up arugula and cilantro and maybe even parsley, it may still be hard to get its exact flavor.. because Papalo (if I may shorten it!) is quite unique!

Here is a shot of Papalo for you. I used it in my smoothie with cucumbers and mint. However if you don’t have Papalo you may use cilantro or parsley.

This herbed cucumber smoothie is very nourishing, refreshing, loaded with plant nutrients and fiber too, perfect for a hot summer day.

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Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small cucumbers rough cut

1 stalk celery

A few slices of ginger (I use a big piece since I love ginger!)

1/2 lime peeled

1.5 cups water or water kefir or coconut water (add more water if smoothie is too thick)

1-2 cups ice

1-2 tablespoons chia seeds

4-6 leaves mint

A handful or Papalo leaves or Cilantro or Parsley

1/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (add more if you need more sweetness to the drink)

 

Blend everything but the ice in the blender until smooth. Then pop in the ice  and blend till ice is all blended to make it extra chilled and refreshing! This makes one large serving or two smaller cups. As always adjust the amount of herbs, lime, ginger and water to suit your tastes.

Coriander Cumin Summer Squash with Tomatoes

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This Coriander Cumin summer squash and tomatoes recipe highlights the best of summer flavors, sweet summer squash and juicy ripe tomatoes bursting with flavor, with just a touch of herbs and spices. Here I use two of my very favorites, cumin and coriander.  I have always loved this combination of spices in my food but the fresh green coriander from Loam Agronomics just takes this recipe to the next level! Both the squash and the tomatoes also came from Loam when I made the recipe and having local tomatoes and squash I think just makes all the difference in the flavor. If you don’t have access to green coriander you may use dried coriander seeds or coriander powder or fresh cilantro on top.

Ingredients

1 medium summer squash (about 4 cups cubed)

2 medium red tomatoes (cubed)

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon ghee (or use your favorite cooking fat)

1 -2 tablespoon fresh green coriander ( I just the stems, seeds everything on the green coriander and love the flavor it imparts, you may substitute 1/2 teaspoon dried coriander seeds or 1/2-1 teaspoon coriander powder, or 4 table spoons fresh chopped cilantro)

1/2 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Salt to taste

Method

Add ghee to the pan, toast the cumin seeds until fragrant (if you are using dry coriander or seeds add them to the pan now as well). Then add the cubed summer squash (and paprika), and let cook till slightly soft but not mushy or completely done as we will need to let it cook a bit longer with the tomatoes. Add the cubed tomatoes and cook a few more minutes. The goal is to just let the tomatoes get soft and let their juices mix in but not disappear into the dish. Cook till your desired done-ness for the summer squash. At the end add your fresh green coriander or cilantro. Serve hot as a side dish or as a taco filling or over steamed quinoa. I eat it as a snack or with for breakfast with my eggs too!

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Marinated Beet Salad

Roasted beets are my favorite, but sometimes I need a change.. specially when the beets are so sweet and fresh. This marinated beet salad adds some greens and garlic for extra flavor and nutrients too.

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Ingredients:

2 bunches baby beets or 1 bunch large beets (about 6-7 small beets or 3 large ones)

3-4 cloves minced fresh garlic (add more if you love garlic!)

2 handfuls of fresh parsley

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (I love an unfiltered one or any olive oil with a strong flavor)

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste (honestly I did not add any and loved it without salt and pepper!)

Method:

Roast beets halved or quartered for large ones at 375 F 30-35 minutes or so. Check if knife goes through easily. For this marinated salad I prefer the beets slightly crisp with a slight crunch. Add more time if you prefer softer beets. Whisk oil and vinegar in a bowl. Once the beets are done and cooled, cut into bite sized pieces and add to the oil and vinegar, also add the minced garlic, chopped parsley. Mix well and chill. Marinate for a few hours or overnight. Enjoy as a side or even as a snack.

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Tasty Dandelion Greens

 

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Everyone is familiar with dandelions in our yards and along sidewalks.. but did you know that the dandelion plant is very nutritious and beneficial to our health? The root can be used for making tea and the leaves can be eaten just like you would eat spinach. Always be sure to consume dandelions that are grown without pesticides and chemicals. I am fortunate enough to get some grown locally at Loam Agronomics.

There are so many benefits to eating bitter greens.  Of all the greens that I love to eat I would definitely say Dandelion greens are quite bitter but when prepared in this recipe.. the balsamic vinegar and the sweet caramelized onions really balance the flavor and cut the bitterness for me. To sweeten the deal I sometimes top them off with some roasted sweet potatoes!

So many reasons to keep enjoying these greens in spring and summer. As per http://healthyeating.sfgate.com “Dandelion greens provide four times as much calcium, 1.5 times as much vitamin A and 7.5 times as much vitamin K as broccoli. This leafy green vegetable also contains twice as much iron and three times as much riboflavin as spinach, and, while spinach provides no vitamin E or carotenoids, dandelion greens boast 17 percent of the daily adult dose of vitamin E and 13,610 international units, or IUs, of lutein and zeaxanthin per 3.5-ounce serving.  So are you ready to put some on your plate? Read more on the benefits here.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 bunch dandelion greens rinsed well

1/2 large red onion

4 tablespoons aged balsamic  (the more aged and luscious the better this recipe turns out!)

2-4 cloves of fresh garlic minced

salt to taste (I almost didn’t need to add much to this recipe)

Generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper to taste (more is great to balance the balsamic vinegar)

Optional -1 cubed sweet potato, 1 tablespoon avocado oil

2 table spoons olive oil (add more if needed)

 

Method:

Slice or chop red onion, saute’ in the olive oil till soft and caramelized. Once the onion is ready, add in the chopped garlic, saute a few more minutes till garlic is fragrant and soft.

Add the washed and chopped dandelion greens. Cook for a few minutes, add the pepper and balsamic. Cook till the greens are softened and the balsamic vinegar is melded into the greens.

If you prefer to add some sweetness.. you can top your greens with a cubed and roasted sweet potato as well. Cube a sweet potato, toss in 1 tablespoon avocado or any high heat oil, roast at about 375 F for 30 minutes or until done.

Plate your greens and sweet potatoes.. dig in and enjoy!