Category Archives: Vegan Dishes

Tofu Noodle Stir-Fry for Oxo & Plated Contest

Oxo box of toolsBox of Oxo kitchen tools

I’ve been a big fan of Oxo‘s kitchen tools, which make my life much easier in the kitchen.  I’ve raved about their cherry pitter, which was put to great use this past summer in making several batches of my Tart Cherries in Brandy and Spiced Syrup.  Their vegetable peeler was my constant companion during culinary school, and comes with me to every catering gig as part of my standard toolkit (where it is borrowed on a regular basis).  When I received an email asking for recipe suggestions for using a selection of their utensils as part of a contest sponsored by Oxo and Plated, a meal delivery service, I knew that I wanted to take part in it, squeezing it into my busy working chef schedule.

Vegan Tofu Noodle Stir-FryTofu Noodle Stir-Fry

For a while, I’ve been tossing this recipe around in my mind, thinking that it would be a great thing to tackle.  There is, however, the issue of prep time.  Slicing piles of vegetables takes time, which, as I run between jobs, isn’t always possible.  On the nights where I’m not working or attending a networking event or culinary activity, collapsing on the couch and putting my my aching feet takes first priority.  Several of the tools in the box that Oxo mailed to me to use for this contest minimize prep time and make this recipe very doable for a weeknight dinner.  I also chose to make this recipe vegan and gluten-free, as I try to build up more of a repertoire of those dishes for potential clients.

Oxo ToolsTools for this project

For this recipe, I picked out the tongs, the small whisk, the slicer, and the salad dressing shaker.  Each of these utensils are very handy to have in the kitchen for all sorts of jobs.  The salad dressing shaker was my marinade mixer, with the handy cup measurements on the side helping me to figure out the right proportion of oil to vinegar.  I combined everything with the whisk and then closed the top to help me pour the marinade, minimizing spills and splatters, much like using a squeeze bottle (on which we rely heavily in professional kitchens and in catering).  The slicer created beautiful, thin strips of vegetables, making them easy to cook.  The three different sizes of thickness as well as the fact that you can lock down the blade when you are done, makes this a resourceful tool for slicing.  Tongs, I can’t really say enough about tongs, as I use them quite a bit in my cooking.  I have another pair of Oxo ones that are workhorses in my kitchen.  This extra pair might go into my knife kit, but I’m hesitant, as I can see someone falling in love with them and them “disappearing” at some point.


I wanted this dish to have an Asian feel to it.  It’s sort of Thai-ish with cilantro and lime and sesame oil.  The cooking time (including prep) is supposed to be under 30 minutes for these dishes, according to our instructions.  We were also limited to using 12 ingredients, which I maxed out on completely.  The vegetables retain some of their nice crunch with the noodles and tofu giving the dish a hearty, substantial feel and additional texture.  I’m definitely going to enjoy eating the leftovers.

Tofu Noodle Stir-Fry

Prep Time: 25-30 minutes

Serving Size: 2 adult portions


2 oz. Thai-style Rice Noodles (about 1-inch diameter bunch)

1/8 tsp. Garlic Powder

1/4 tsp. Ground Ginger

1 wedge Lime Juice plus more for garnish

1/4 c. Rice Wine Vinegar

2 Tbsp. Toasted Sesame Oil

1/3 c. Canola Oil, plus 1/4 teaspoon for stir-frying

6 oz. Extra-firm Tofu

1 medium Carrot

1 medium Red Pepper

6 large Brussels Sprouts

Fresh Cilantro


Cook noodles as you would pasta, by putting a pan of water on the stove to boil.  Toss in the noodles and let them cook until tender.  Drain and set aside, tossing the hot noodles with two teaspoons of the marinade.

Mixing up marinadeMeasuring the marinade and mixing it together

Make the marinade for the tofu and sauce for the noodles by pouring the garlic powder, ground ginger, lime juice, and rice wine vinegar into the salad dressing shaker.  Using the whisk to stir continuously, add the sesame oil and the canola oil to the mixture.  Place the top on the salad dressing shaker.  Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and place in bowl.  Pour 2 tablespoons of the marinade over the tofu and let it sit while preparing the vegetables.

Brussels Sprouts on slicerSlicing sprouts

Using the slicer on width setting #1, cut the carrot.  For the red pepper and brussels sprouts, use width setting #2 to slice.  Everything will come out more or less the same width, which will allow them all to cook quickly and evenly in the pan.  I used the blade guard for the sprouts, but cut the carrot and peppers down to about 1-inch left in size on the slicer and finished with a knife, as the blade guard didn’t work as effectively with those vegetables.

Adding vegetables to panFrying tofu and vegetables in pan

Heat the canola oil in a 12-inch skillet (do not use a non-stick pan) until it starts to show ripples in the oil (before it starts to smoke).  With the tongs, remove the tofu with the marinade and place it in the hot oil.  Let it cook for about 1 minute, moving it around with the tongs to heat evenly.  Add the sliced vegetables and cook for 1 minute more.  Then, add the noodles and warm everything through to heat it up.  Pour over a couple of tablespoons of the marinade and toss it all together.

Vegan Gluten-Free Noodle stir-fryTofu Noodle Stir-fry

Place the noodles, vegetables, and tofu on two plates.  Chop the cilantro and sprinkle it on each of the plates.  Garnish each plate with a lime wedge, if desired.  Serve immediately.

Buon appetito!

Gluten-free Potluck – Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad

Shauna Ahern introducing the dinnerShauna James Ahern greeting everyone

When the invitation to attend a potluck dinner for NYC food bloggers that Shauna James Ahern (aka Gluten-free Girl) and her husband were having last week during their #AmericanPotluckTrip tour, checking out various cities around the country and meeting food folks as research for their next cookbook about classic American recipes, I knew I was on board to join in.  This was a great chance to connect with fellow NYC food bloggers and writers and to enjoy eating a variety of delicious dishes.  Besides, I’d been thinking about the gluten-free items that we’d tried at Big Summer Potluck and had the idea for an Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad to contribute to the feast – a dish both gluten-free and vegan.

Gluten-free table dishesThe Gluten-Free Dishes Table Display

The gluten-free section of the room at our host location the GE Monogram Design Center in Midtown filled up a long table, while the non-gf dishes could be counted on the fingers of one hand and were segregated on the other side of the room.  The Diva That Ate New York (Jackie Gordon) brought her incredible version of gluten-free spinach knishes – fried in schmaltz – which were gobbled up quite quickly.  There was a pecan-covered Pineapple Cheese Ball created by Michelle Buffardi that was also a huge hit.  For those looking to satisfy their sweet tooth, Jackie Ourman made a stack of the NYC deli classic Black & White Cookies that got a lot of attention.  My favorite, however, had to be the Flourless Brownie Cheesecake brought by Susan Palmer of The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen.

Italian Cannellini Bean SaladItalian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad

I’ve always admired Shauna for all of her hard work to help those who suffer from gluten-related intolerances and allergies.  She puts her whole heart into helping out those who have been diagnosed and who are trying to figure out how to feed themselves without getting sick and suffering other ill affects on their health and well-being.  I’ve often referred folks to her site when they mention to me that they need to follow a gluten-free diet so that they can find guidance and can get their hands on some terrific recipes.  It was so nice to be a part of this evening and to get to try all the great gluten-free dishes.

Mise en placeMise en Place – really

I’d love to be able to be all neat and tidy in typing up the recipe that goes along with the dish that I brought, but the truth is that I walked into the door of my apartment at 5:45 p.m., having just started my first day as a production chef at a catering company, with shopping bags in hand from Whole Foods and a rough outline of what I was going to make in my head.  The event started at 6:30 p.m., and I live at least 30 minutes away in travel time.  I knew I was going to go in the vegan and gluten-free direction.  I was also going to draw on Italian taste profiles to add lots of flavor to the dish as well as to highlight one NYC cultural culinary influence, as the event invitation had asked us to do.  From there, I just decided to wing it, eyeballing the proportions and relying on gut instinct to make it all come together.  Here’s a guess at what I did, but, really, this is a free-form dish that you can alter to fix yours and your family’s preferences.

Buon appetito!

Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: Potluck-sized

Italian Cannellini Bean-Quinoa Salad


2 Tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced

2 tsp. Oregano, chopped

2 tsp. Basil, chopped

1 tsp. Red Wine Vinegar

1 tsp. White Wine Vinegar

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper

1/4 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 c. Quinoa, cooked (about 1 1/2 cups uncooked)

2 cans Cannellini Beans, rinsed

1/2 c. Artichoke Hearts, chopped (reserve some for decoration)

1/3 c. Roasted Red Peppers, chopped (reserve some for decoration)

1/4 c. Black Olives, chopped (reserve some for decoration)

1/4 c. Pine Nuts, toasted (reserve some for decoration)


Did I mention that I was kind of pressed for time in making this dish? I'd had some herbs from Gourmet Garden from our goodie bag at Big Summer Potluck, so I decided to use those (yes, they are also gluten-free). I guesstimated how much I would need to make the dressing, tossed in a few dashes of red wine vinegar and thought I'd add some lemon juice for extra acidity.

When I found that the lemon I had was a bit moldy, I threw in some white wine vinegar, and that seemed to do the trick. Then, I whisked in enough olive oil to balance out everything and make the dressing come together. Taste everything to make sure that the seasoning is balanced.

Mix together the cooked quinoa and the beans. Add the dressing and toss it all together to coat the quinoa and the beans with the dressing.

Mix the chopped artichokes, red peppers, and black olives together separately. Then, add them to the quinoa-bean mixture. Once that is done, add the toasted pine nuts.

Pour salad into serving container. Decorate the top of the dish with the reserved artichoke hearts, red pepper pieces, chopped black olives, and toasted pine nuts. This dish can be made several hours in advance and should be served room temperature.


Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan

Indian Chickpea Yogurt Salad from “The Great Vegan Bean Book” by Kathy Hester

Philharmonic in Central ParkThe New York Philharmonic in Central Park

Last night, I accepted the invitation from some friends to take part in one of New York City’s great summertime traditions – listing to live music al fresco.  The New York Philharmonic was doing its annual concert in Central Park (this event rotates through parks in the five boroughs).  I mulled over what I could bring as my contribution to the evening’s picnic that would go along with the music.  In general, I usually make something sweet.

Indian-Chickpea-Yogurt-SaladIndian Chickpea Yogurt Salad

Then, I realized the perfect dish for this kind of gathering was already right there under my nose.  I had received a copy of Kathy Hester‘s The Great Vegan Bean Book and was supposed to participate in her blogger book tour a few weeks back, but life kind of intervened.  I really wanted to bring something tasty and fresh to this picnic, something that didn’t take an incredible amount of prep time and a dish that would be cool and light in this oppressive heat we’ve been going through lately.  Kathy’s Indian Chickpea Yogurt Salad seemed like the ideal solution.

Salad ingredientsVegetables mixed together

To make this dish a bit more transportable and outdoor-dining friendly, I decided to mix the two main components, the vegetables and the dressing, separately.  I drained the canned chickpeas and tossed them together with the cucumber, potato, and onion.  The potatoes I used were red new potatoes, so I cooked a couple of larger ones to include in this salad.  I also seeded the cucumbers so that the other ingredients wouldn’t get mushy from any extra liquid those might add.  The ingredient list in the original recipe mentions the onion as optional, but I felt that the sharp crispness of a red onion would give a boost of flavor and texture to the dish.  All of the ingredients should be cut so that they are roughly the same size as the chickpeas, with the exception of the onion, which should be chopped smaller than that.

Yogurt DressingYogurt dressing

I mixed the ingredients for the yogurt dressing together in a separate container.  This would a. keep the salad from getting too soft and potentially slimy and b. allow the guests to combine the dressing and salad to their own tastes.  To keep this dish completely vegan, and as I was curious about cooking with vegan yogurt, I used the coconut yogurt suggested in the recipe.  For me, it added a slight sweetness and wasn’t as tangy as regular yogurt would have been, but it had a nice creamy consistency.  I decided not to use the kala namak (a black, Indian salt), as I have a prohibition about buying one-use ingredients for my pantry.  Instead, I used regular kosher salt.  This, I added to taste, which I highly recommend doing.

Indian Chickpea Yogurt Salad al frescoIndian Chickpea Yogurt Salad outdoors

The salad was a hit at the picnic as we all relaxed on the grass and took in the concert.  It had a meaty bite from the chickpeas with a crisp crunch from the cucumbers and the onions.  The dressing was cool and creamy with a backnote of heat and plenty of spice.  The cilantro gave the salad an extra freshness and lift.  It was the perfect summertime refresher and could sit alongside any kind of grilled meat or vegetables.  This would be a great dish to serve alongside an Indian food feast at any time of year.

The Great Vegan Bean BookThe Great Vegan Bean Book

This cookbook has other fantastic recipes, too, all based upon the many uses for and dishes you can make with beans.  It covers many different types and styles of these legumes.  Instructions are also included throughout to accommodate the range and variety of vegan and vegetarian diets, so it is a great resource for those who would like to include this protein as part of their culinary staples.  As a promotion for this book, I’ll also be giving away a copy of it on this website.  I’ll post the giveaway later on this week.

Buon appetito!

April Bloomfield’s Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad

Carrot-Avocado-and-Orange-SaladCarrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad

At the New York Culinary Experience a few months ago, I had the pleasure of assisting Chef April Bloomfield in the class that she was giving.  During her lessons, she walked students through how to make a few recipes from her book “A Girl and Her Pig.”  One of these was this colorful Carrot, Avocado, and Orange Salad, which I made a note to try at home.

Colorful carrotsColorful Carrots

I feel as though I’ve been stalking the vendors at the Greenmarket at Union Square, just lurking impatiently for the summer’s multi-hued carrots to appear.  Finally, today, I found them and grabbed up a couple of bunches so that I could make this dish.  One of the gorgeous visual aspects of this dish is the balance of color with the ruby, ivory, and orange vegetable on the plate with the greens of the cilantro and avocado and the bright-toned orange segments.  The spice and oil mixture combined with the roasting technique give this dish additional depth and make the carrots almost seem meaty, with a tangy brightness from the citrus dressing and a cool creaminess from the avocado.

Recipe set upRecipe ingredients

This is a perfect summertime vegetarian side dish for a barbecue or for an evening eating al fresco.  Seeing the colorful array of produce on the plate just makes you want to dig in and to eat your way through salad, getting a bit of everything on the fork.  If you would like to add a carnivorous component to it, I would suggest a simply grilled piece of protein.  This salad is really the star of the meal and should be allowed to take center stage.

Carrots and spices cookingCarrots and spice mixture cooking

I made a few adjustments to the recipe based upon a. my laziness and b. what I had observed during the cooking lesson.  I didn’t toast and grind the spices prior to adding them to the carrots (a).  Instead, I used already-ground spices and mixed them with garlic I had crushed, the red pepper flakes, the salt, and the oil.  Then, as the students had done in the class, I added the mixture to the carrots and used a large pan to roast the carrots on the stovetop until they were soft and had a nice color to them (b).

Cooked carrotsCooked carrots

When cooking the carrots, it is important to remember that the thinner ones will cook much faster than the thicker ones, so you might want to have a plate or tray set to the side to pull out the ones that are thinner so that they don’t burn while you are waiting for the thicker ones still to cook through.  The total cooking time on the stovetop is about 15 or so minutes, but it is best to keep a close eye on the pan.  You can definitely segment the oranges and make the dressing for the salad in the time that the carrots take to cook.

Orange segmentsOrange segments

Orange segments, it’s one of those things that I did several times in culinary school and had to do recently while at a catering gig.  One trick I’ve discovered is to use seedless oranges, as the seeds make it more difficult to make clean segments.  This is also one of those tasks where you’ll want to sharpen your paring knife before getting started as the sharper it is, the easier it will be to cut around the membrane.  I also peeled the orange with a knife, which allowed me to cut away the pith and the peel a little more cleanly.

Mixing salad togetherMixing salad together

The recipe calls for being careful when mixing the salad together because the orange segments and avocado have a tendency to break apart as they are delicate.  I discovered that the best way to combine everything was to toss it gently all together by using my hands.  Then, I used my fingers to plate the dish, arranging it so that there was a bit of each ingredient on the plate.  To finish it, I spooned up some of the dressing and drizzled it on top of everything.

Carrot-Avocado-Orange SaladCarrot, Avocado, Orange Salad ready to eat

Be prepared for you and your guests to want seconds. This salad is so delicious and has such a surprising harmony of flavors that you’ll want to add it to your recipe keeper file.  The recipe is available on line at (click for link).

Buon appetito!

Warm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Warm Farro & Roasted Root Vegetable SaladWarm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Farro is one of those things I fell in love with when I lived in Italy.  It was many years before I ever found it available in the United States, which I was happy to discover, as it is a tasty and flexible grain, useful in creating all sorts of interesting dishes.  I developed this recipe using farro supplied by Tuscan Fields to have a chance to win a scholarship to this year’s Eat, Write, Retreat conference in Philadelphia in May.  Having been to the two past years’ conferences, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this creation will be good enough to land me a place at the table with my fellow food bloggers.

Farro by Tuscan Fields

Starting with Tuscan Fields Farro ai Funghi (farro with mushrooms), I mulled over what I could come up with that would showcase the beauty of this grain and highlight the flavors of the season.  At the moment, we’re at that awkward in-between stage in the markets.  All of us are craving green things: peas, asparagus, ramps.  We’re also anticipating the start of strawberry-picking season and the arrival of new vegetables – all the things that signal that springtime is here and that summer will soon be on its way.

Farro ai funghi (farro with mushrooms)

In the farmers market last week, however, I still found lots of root vegetables and not much else.  I decide to roast the vegetables as a time-saver to make this an easy, weeknight supper, and also as I think it brings out so much depth and intensity of flavor, especially with these being end-of-season produce.  The herbs and the vinaigrette perk up the dish with their brightness and acidity.  Fried shallots are one of those quick garnishes that adds a delightful crunch to any plate.  This dish would be a great vegetarian or vegan meal but could also be served alongside some roasted chicken or grilled lamb.  I hope that you enjoy this recipe, and that it helps me to go to Eat, Write, Retreat this year.

Recipe ingredients

Warm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Prep time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Serving size: 6 portions as a side dish; 4 portions as a main course


6 large Radishes, cut into cubes

2-3 small Turnips, cut into cubes

3 new Carrots, cut into chunks

2 Parsnips, cut into chunks

2 cloves Garlic, skin left on

2-3 sprigs Thyme

1 tsp. Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

One package Tuscan Fields Farro ai Funghi

3 Shallots, cut into rounds

1 tsp. Canola oil

1/4 c. Balsamic Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Salt

1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp. fresh Thyme, chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh Parsley, chopped


Vegetables ready to roast

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a baking pan, place the chopped vegetables, garlic cloves, and thyme.  Toss together with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place in the oven to roast for about 25 minutes.

Adding farro to the pan

Place a saucepan on the stovetop to boil water and cook the entire package of farro according to the instructions listed on the back.  It should take about twenty minutes to cook the farro to a nicely chewy but still toothsome texture.

Frying shallots

While the farro is cooking and the vegetables are roasting, fry the shallots and prepare the vinaigrette.  Place a sauté pan on the stove and add the canola oil.  Add the sliced shallots and let them cook until golden brown, stirring them to keep them from burning.  Remove from the heat, drain, and place on paper towels until ready to serve.

Reducing balsamic vinegar

To prepare the vinaigrette, pour the balsamic vinegar in a shallow pan or saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until the vinegar is reduced by about 1/3 to 1/2.  Place the vinegar in a bowl along with the chopped thyme, salt, and pepper.  Whisk in enough extra virgin olive oil until it is a thick sauce-like consistency, about 2-3 times the amount of vinegar.

Roasted root vegetables

Check the vegetables to see if they have finished cooking by inserting a paring knife into the largest ones to see that they have been cooked through.  Remove the thyme sprigs and pour the vegetables into a bowl along with any olive oil that might still be in the pan. Set aside the garlic cloves.

Cooked farro

Taste the farro.  It should be cooked through with very little resistance.  Add it to the bowl with the root vegetables.

Roasted root vegetables with farro and parsley

Take the skins off of the garlic cloves and put them through a press or smoosh them into a sieve until they are very fine.  Toss farro, garlic, and vegetables together with the chopped parsley.

Warm Farro and Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Fried Shallots and Balsamic Dressing

Put a mound of the vegetable mixture in the center of a plate.  Top with the fried shallots and drizzle some of the vinaigrette on the plate.  Eat while still warm.

Buon appetito!

Kitchen Witch Tip:

Seasonings and herbs should be added to a vinaigrette with the vinegar to get the most out of their flavor.  Then, add the olive oil.

Red Lentil Dal with Tamarind and Asparagus by Naomi Duguid

It’s asparagus season, here in New York, which is one of my favorite times of year.  I never liked these tender green stalks when I was growing up, as I’ve mentioned, but now I look forward to seeing them when they arrive in the farmers markets.  It also means that I start pulling ideas from magazines and website as to how to prepare them aside from the usual steaming, grilling or sautéing.  In this month’s issue of Food & Wine magazine there was an article about Naomi Duguid with a recipe for Red Lentil Dal with Tamarind and Asparagus


The colors in the photo of the dish, plus the fact that I enjoy eating dal combined with the fact that I can now get my hands on some fat, juicy asparagus, made me tear out the recipe to try it.  I found the asparagus at the Greenmarket, had a few of the spices in my kitchen already, and sourced the other ingredients from my neighborhood stores.  The tamarind concentrate proved to be the hardest component to find, but I did locate it after going to about three places.

Asparagus cooking with the spices, garlic, and onions

I’m trying to get more vegetables into my diet and am also attempting to eat less meat in general, so this dish fit those criteria.  It was also a snap to pull together making it an ideal weeknight dinner or quick lunch.  I cut this recipe in half, which gave me about two portions for a light midday meal.

Lentils added to the pan to cook down for a few minutes

As a side mention, if you, like me, religiously follow the list of ingredients in putting together your shopping notes, you will forget to pick up the limes that are listed in the recipe headnotes and at the end.  I’m not sure why, but somehow they aren’t included with the main ingredients, even though Ms. Duguid mentions them as integral to the balance of flavors in the dish.  I bring this up, as I thought that the freshness of the lime juice really brought the whole meal together.

Red Lentil Dal with Tamarind and Asparagus

Served with brown basmati rice and the juice of a sliver of lime, this dish was creamy, tart, fragrant, and earthy, with just a little sweetness from the onions.  The spices provided an aromatic perfume that melted into the lentils, brightening up their sometimes drab nature.  Next time, I might add more of the serrano to the dish to give it some additional heat and a bit of depth, but other than that (and the aforementioned lime issue), this dish seemed to me to be perfect in taste and texture.  It’s definitely one I’ll be having during this asparagus season and many more in the future as well.

Buon appetito!