Friday, November 11, 2011

Tzatziki Sauce and Baked Falafel

Baked falafel, tzatziki sauce, green hummus and veggies

Who doesn’t love falafel with all the fixin’s (for me this includes hummus or tahini sauce, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, and most importantly tzatziki sauce!)?  But – I realize this confession is probably outing me as a serious buzz kill – I’m not in love with fried food.  On a VERY rare occasion, I’m cool with it.  However, it usually kinda grosses me out.  But falafel is way too good to eat only on rare occasion, so when I picked up Appetite ForReduction by vegan genius Isa Chandra Moskowitz and discovered there was a baked falafel recipe, I was one happy girl.  These falafels are full of flavor and jam-packed with chickpea goodness.  And at only 45 calories a falafel, you can really chow down (I recommend making a double batch).  You can find the falafel recipe here.

On to the tzatziki sauce…  For me, a meal with falafel just isn’t complete without the tzatziki.  The creamy, tangy base along with the flavor of dill and jam-packed with cool, shredded cucumber?  Sign me up!  I also love use tzatziki sauce as dressing atop a mixed green salad with all the usual Mediterranean suspects – cucumber, tomato, red onion, kalamata olives, maybe some green bell pepper, and chickpeas or cubed tofu.

This recipe goes crazy fast if you have a food processor with a shredding attachment, but even if you don’t it shouldn’t take longer than 10 minutes to prepare.  Enjoy!

Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups plain soy yogurt
1 large cucumber peeled, seeded, and shredded
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 – 1 1/2 lemons, plus more to taste)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley (not packed)
1 medium garlic clove grated on a microplane grater or finely minced
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons dried dill (or 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.  Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with White Wine, Lemon and Garlic Pasta

If you’ve never used king oyster mushrooms to replicate the texture and flavor of scallops, you are in for a treat!  The texture is chewy, yet tender at the same time.  They have a very mild flavor, and a pleasant, meaty bite that makes you completely forget that you are eating a mushroom.  And best yet, they are ridiculously easy to prepare.  

I love to serve these with thin spaghetti dressed with a light white wine, lemon and garlic sauce because for me these are familiar flavor accompaniments to traditional “scallops”.  But they’d also be great served with grits or on their own with a little garlic butter sauce (of course using a vegan margarine such as Earth Balance) as an appetizer.

King Oyster Mushrooms

If you can find them, I definitely recommend using the optional enoki mushrooms in the pasta sauce.  They'll sort of melt down and you won't notice them at all in the finished pasta, but they add richness and a mild mushroom backdrop to the sauce that really gives it that extra somethin’ somethin’.  As a last word of advice, definitely read the ingredient list and instructions all the way through before you start so you’re familiar with all the steps.  This will ensure that everything comes together perfectly.

King Oyster Mushroom Scallops with White Wine, Lemon and Garlic Pasta
For the Scallops:
5-6 king oyster mushrooms, sliced into approximately 1/2 inch disks
1 tablespoon non-hydrogenated margarine such as Earth Balance
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the pasta:
12 ounces thin spaghetti
12 ounces fresh spinach leaves
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup diced shallot
1 cup dry white wine
3-5 ounces enoki mushrooms (optional)
1 teaspoon plus a few pinches sea salt
freshly grated black pepper, a few turns plus more to taste
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
2 cups loosely packed flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

This recipe has a few components, but as long as you follow the instructions everything should come together pretty easily.  Before beginning, be sure to chop all of your veggies and have all of your ingredients out and ready to go.

First, put your pot of water for the pasta on the stove to boil.  Next, preheat a large skillet (the largest one you’ve got) on medium-high for a minute or two.  Add the margarine and olive oil and lower the heat to medium.  Cook the king oyster mushrooms on each side until they are browned (about 3 minutes per side), turning the heat up a bit if necessary.  The goal is to quickly brown the mushrooms on each side without over cooking them to keep your “scallops” tender.  When the mushrooms are on their last minute of cooking, season with a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and the lemon juice.  Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

At this point, your pasta water should be boiling.  Cook spaghetti according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the same skillet used for the mushrooms to medium and add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Add the shallot, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and sauté for 1-2 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute more (adding additional olive oil if needed to prevent sticking).  Add the enoki mushrooms, if using, and stir briefly.  Add the white wine and increase the heat to medium-high.  Cook until the wine has reduced by a little more than half (about 5-7 minutes).

By this time, your spaghetti will probably be done.  Strain and shake to remove excess water.  Turn the heat on the sauce down to low.  Next, alternate adding batches of pasta, spinach and slowly drizzling in a bit of the 1/3 cup olive oil (tossing with tongs every few additions to coat).  Once all the pasta, spinach, and olive oil have been mixed with the sauce, add the remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, and chopped parsley.  Toss again with tongs.  Taste to confirm seasonings are to your liking.  Serve the scallops with a generous serving of pasta.