When we go to potlucks, it's always a challenge. I want to make something that is shockingly good, especially when there are non-vegetarians present. And these days, it has to be easy finger food for toddlers. (And frankly, easy to prepare.) Plus, I like it to be good at room temperature. My parents happened to have been leaving town the weekend before the event to which I brought the falafel and had left us with lots of lettuce.
This Food Face gave the model an ear-full of leftover falafel. We started with half a toasted pita and a drizzled line of homemade tzatziki. Nora is a condiment girl and would prefer to just lick off the dressing or ketchup, depending on the meal. So she doesn't get much condiment to start with. The ears are halved falafel. The eyes and mouth are fruit that had been sent home with us from the party where I brought the falafel. Fruit is popular in our house and was gone by the end of dinner.
This reminds me of a lady having a spa day. Just hope she looks better than this when it's over with.
The curls are pinto beans with foil made of chips. Cucumber eye slices with dots of yogurt in the middle, and a warm neck pillow of mashed potatoes complete the relaxing environment. And luckily, after a hearty meal like this, Nora napped and I had an hour-long relaxing environment.
I made this for a lunch with friends last week, and since one of them called for the recipe yesterday, I thought I'd better make up the recipe and show the picture. The beauty of salads sometimes is that you can through anything into it and make it work. Moreover, it's very forgiving provided you have a great dressing. Also, I've loved having banana peppers on my patio because I can just cut the hot ones and add them to the salad instead of using crushed red pepper, which feels so "coarse" in what is mostly a soft and simple salad.
Recipe for Cucumber Couscous Salad
1 cup cooked whole wheat couscous
1 small-to-medium cucumber, thinly sliced (like on a mandolin)
2 banana peppers, sliced
1/4 cup sweet onion, diced (Green onions may work well, too.)
1 tomato diced
2 tablespoons dehydrated parsley
1 tablespoon fresh mint (or about 10 large leaves)
1/2 teaspoon herbed salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Drizzle olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder, optional
Combine ingredients in serving bowl. Stir carefully. Serve immediately or chill to marinate flavors
My menu plan for Monday night required me to feed 20 for a church function. The only stipulation when serving is that it needs to be vegan-friendly because of allergies of some of the participants. I prepared the soup a day in advance because I didn't expect much time between work and the serving time. I was able to purchase the bread, lettuce, and cucumbers across the street and next door to my office, respectively.
We dined out in Nashville at The Wild Cow, a vegetarian restaurant that came well recommended. Crazy name aside, this restaurant has a pretty good menu and a decent steady flow of patrons. We had quite a hard time choosing items from the two page menu. There's also a great kid's menu that I kind of wanted to order off of myself.
The black bean burger recipe from Parents Magazine was so fabulous, I figured the recommended switch to chickpeas or garbanzo beans would also be a success. After all, we love the falafel recipe from a previous issue of the magazine.
Recipe for Dilled Yogurt Dressing
2 (heaping) Tablespoons plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/8 teaspoon herb salt
Whisk together ingredients. Pour over and have extra on the side of wraps and salads. I have been using an herb salt we acquired on one of our trips. I'm sure regular table salt would work just fine.
Although I had planned to serve roasted cauliflower over the ravioli, the oven was in use on another baking project. And the tomatoes looked like they wanted to be eaten. And when all was said and done, my husband was just thrilled with the sauce and so was I. The creamy cheese filling of the ravioli offset the chunkier sauce and eliminated the need for a cheese topping. I was quite pleased how a little bit of ravioli goes a long way.
Cauliflower Tomato Sauce
1 cup chopped cauliflower
1/2 cup sliced onion
1 large tomato, diced
3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 teaspoon each onion powder, garlic powder, salt
Sautee onion in 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat until half cooked, about 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and stir. Cook another 5 minutes. Add tomato and cook until done. Halfway through the cooking process, I like to add the extra oil and seasonings. Some people like the tomato cooked longer and therefore add it earlier. The choice is yours.
So there was a bit of communication error and excitement last night when this meal was served that led to a photo only of the risotto and not of the salad. However, the salad is highly recommended, if you can be encouraged without a matching photo, make it while the strawberries are ripe. I'll be making it again myself and will be sure to include a photo next time.
Recipe for Strawberry Pecan Salad
1 head Living Lettuce
1/2 pound strawberries, halved
1 1/2 cups whole pecans
3/4 Tablespoon Agave Nectar
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
1/2 mini cucumber, sliced
Put agave nectar in small skillet and add pecans. Stir to coat. Toast nuts on medium heat, remove from heat and let cool. In large bowl add lettuce and arrange cucumbers and strawberries on top. Sprinkle with cooled pecans including any left over syrup. Top with cheese.
Use salad dressing link above, white balsamic vinegar, or skip the dressing completely!
What are your big plans for strawberry usage this spring?
Peacefood Cafe was recommended to us by Leigh at Marvelous Kiddo. She certainly has good taste! We loved our experience at the restaurant. It was amazing that there was always a line for a table during our entire lunch. Maybe that doesn't mean much in crowded New York City. Still, I've always maintained the belief that people being willing to wait for a table is a good thing.
Our first night eating local started off pleasantly in at a great little restaurant on Orange Ave. in downtown Orlando. Virgin Olive Market used to be on Clay, and I think the change in location surely must have increased its exposure. There was a nice, steady stream of customers during our entire dining experience. Virgin Olive makes the grade in a couple of areas. First, it is a fast, very friendly, and significantly cheaper restaurant than the two restaurants it's sandwiched in between.
While out with my mom one Friday, we stopped at a bookstore and ran into our pastor's wife. She asked us if we wanted to join her for lunch and recommended a health-food store like Whole Foods called Chamberlin's. I'd never been there before, but I once heard a patient rave about their yogurt. I was excited to give it a shot, but was saddened to learn that they no longer offered frozen yogurt.
This is a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a Mediterranean food store attached. It has a Greek menu and has been voted Orlando's Best for a few years, with framed advertisements above the cash register. However, when you look at the plastic table covers with pictures of different kinds of pasta and the "silk" leaves and plastic grape clusters hanging from the ceiling, you might get slightly confused. Paul had a falafel sandwich in a great thick bread wrap. I had the hummus and tabouleh sandwich. Both had lettuce and tomato added with a creamy cucumber dressing coating every bite.
This is a little something of my own. The idea came from Bosphorous, a restaurant in Winter Park, Florida. I liked the concept of the dip at the restaurant and could not find a recipe on line; so, I made one up. It must have been good because it went for a potluck and none of it came home!