It has been a long while again!
Crazy to imagine that so many months have passed since the last post. But life has been busy, once more, and has also brought some interesting new projects, some of which I may share one day. In any case, here we are, Spring again and while I have been more quiet on the blog, I have continued to share weekly culinary adventures and Meatless Mondays on Social Media. A few Spring greens posts have garnered attention, and there was a request for recipes so I will happily oblige. :)
All posts are of course inspired by Farmers Market finds. And there have been quite splendid greens this season in the Bay Area, perhaps bolstered by more rain. A huge fave has been these bok choy blossoms, which had a delicious mild flavor.
And then of course, asparagus were back!
These veggies lent themselves perfectly to salads and a couple of tarts. The first one, a Spring Vegetable Vegan Tart, was a relatively simple tart though it involves a few steps. First, make a vegan tart crust. In my case, I also make it gluten-free, using oat and rice flours for example, but you can use any GF flour you typically like to use. I tend to prefer to use olive oil to coconut oil, which has a more pronounced flavor. Bake your tart shell and let it cool down.
Then, saute a few thin asparagus cut in 1/4 inch pieces, bok choy blossoms, also chopped, thinly sliced scallions and garlic greens in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. You can add chopped herbs of your choice if you desire too. Leave aside until cooled down.
While the vegetables cool down, prepare the vegan cream: in your food processor or blender, blend: 1 block medium firm tofu, 1 block soft tofu, 1 can coconut milk (use just the cream), salt, the zest of a lemon (organic preferably), 1-2 tsbp lemon juice, 1/3 cup cashew nuts softened in hot water (drain the water before blending). Spread some of the cream over the cooled tart shell. You can use the rest of the cream for other dishes, even sweet ones (think dairyfree cheesecake :)).
Spread a few sauteed slices of crimini mushroom for good measure.
Finally, spread over the sauteed vegetables, get a few bib or gem lettuce leaves for a side salad, and you have a dinner. :)
If after this you find yourself with more bok choy blossoms in the fridge, left-over sauteed mushrooms and vegan "cream", you can make another meat-free and delish lunch (or dinner): quinoa on one side with the mushroom and a dollop of the cream, a salad of chopped bok choy, spinach and scallions on the other, with half an avocado sliced, and seasoned with an Asian vinaigrette (a little rice vinegar, soy sauce, a little lemon optionally, a little maple syrup or agave syrup, sesame oil and a little salt and pepper to taste). Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve with savory muffins if you are up to baking. :)
And now back to the asparagus! This year they turned out to be quite delicious too, and I found a few new ideas to prepare them. One of my favorite ways to eat them (and I have quite a few actually :)) is to eat them raw, with their full intense flavor. For example, I incorporate them thinly sliced in a market fresh salad. For a market fresh salad, I typically combine what I find at the market on a given day. A refreshing combination is the following: chopped Siberian kale, thinly sliced radishes and asparagus, and water cress. This is also a pretty combination for a Spring meal. I like a good Sherry wine vinaigrette (and you can slightly sweeten it with agave or maple syrup, or add some chopped shallots and garlic) to season it, and adding some chopped toasted pecans. Of course, you can sprinkle with fresh goat cheese if you like. :)
This asparagus-creme-fraiche combo, and having a spare butternut squash on hand, inspired me to make a new tart: marbled butternut squash, asparagus and goat cheese pie. Which worked out well for a Meatless Monday which coincided with Pi Day. :) This tart requires a few steps and preps but it is well worth it. First, as with the previous tart, make a pie crust, roll it out in a 9" tart pan, and bake it for 15'. In my case, I made it gluten free and used butter since this is not a vegan tart. Then, prepare three different filings:
- Asparagus filling: Cook about 3/4 pound asparagus in salted water until quite soft. Puree with 1 tbsp creme fraiche, salt if need be and pepper, and 1 egg.
- Butternut squash filling: Slow roast 1 small to medium butternut squash at 375deg F until fully cooked and soft. Puree it with 1 tbsp creme fraiche, salt and pepper, and 1 egg.
- Goat cheese filling: Blend together about 1/3 cup soft goat cheese, 1-2 tbsp creme fraiche, salt & pepper, and a little lemon juice if desired.
To assemble: pour the butternut squash over the tart shell. Then drop spoons full of the asparagus filling and using a knife, make a first marble effect. Repeat with the goat cheese filling. Bake the pie at 350 deg F until set (ie. firm to the touch).
This tart is delicious warm but I think I liked it even better cold.
So that was a long post after a few weeks "away"! Enjoy those Spring Greens. :)
By the way:
- You can use other combinations of Spring greens for the first tart. Your imagination is the limit so see what is available at your farmers market or local store if you do not have a farmers market nearby.
- For the first tart, choose good quality tofu (I go for a non-gmo and organic, good quality one): it makes a big difference in taste.
- These dishes are all made gluten-free but you can use regular flour for the tarts if you prefer.
- If you need inspo for a vegan crust, here is one. Again, I would use olive oil for this recipe.
- For the second tart, you basically need to make a savory shortcrust pastry (and I like to make one with egg). If you need inspo for that, this will help.