[A quick note and special request: The VegNews Awards polls for 2010 are open! If you like Diet, Dessert and Dogs or my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, please head to the site and add them to their lists! You can nominate me for the blog, cookbook author or tweeter categories. How great would it be for an allergy-friendly, whole foods site to top their lists? (And guess what? Ms. Ellen is already nominated! I sense that a meeting will be coming about somehow. . . ;) ) Your support is much appreciated, everyone!]
[Simple to make, delicious to eat: red lentil pâté]
The first time I purchased an ebook from Christy Morgan (aka The Blissful Chef), all I really knew about her was (a) she lived in LA; and (b) she cooked according to macrobiotic principles. Well, since I’d studied the macrobiotic diet in nutrition school, I knew it meshed very well with my own food philosophy and even the anti-candida diet (ACD), as it focuses on whole and local ingredients and traditional preparation methods. And as someone who’s been pining to return to LA (especially on The Ellen Show!) since my last visit there when I was 17, I was pleased to know that fact about Christy, too.
A few weeks ago, I bought the most recent in the “Cooking with the Seasons” series for summer. This is the second in a series of Christy’s ebooks that present recipes geared specifically toward each season. In this ebook, Christy talks a bit about how summer is the “fire” season and why it makes sense to prepare foods that are fresh, mostly raw, quick and easy–to avoid the heat of the kitchen and preserve our energies for other activities during the warm weather. She also discusses her approach to cooking, which she describes as “macrobiotic, vegan, raw fusion.” The sixteen recipes in the ebook reflect that philosophy as well.
The first thing that struck me as I browsed through the recipes was that were so many in it I could eat–with no (or very little) adjustment. Whole foods, low fat, easy preparation and nothing processed–these are the kinds of recipes that fit perfectly with someone on the ACD!
I decided to plunge right in with the “Red Lentil Pâté with Cashews,” a quick and easy spread that’s perfect to serve to guests or for a light dinner. This is a lovely appetizer with a light texture that’s quite different from the rich, nut-heavy spreads that are more commonly served as vegan pâtés; in keeping with the light summer theme, this recipe has no added fat (though the cashews do add some, of course).
I adored this pâté. It works beautifully as a finger food or even–as I found myself snacking on it–straight from a spoon. The preparation is super-simple (though you do need some time to let the mixture boil down). I was skeptical at first about the amount of curry powder in this–it’s a full tablespoon–but once the mixture cooks up and the lentils begin to soften and dissolve, the final balance of seasoning is perfect. Once cold, the mixture firmed up beautifully as well.
Serve this on crackers, as I did, or slice a thick block to have between slices of hearty bread, with some lettuce and sprouts for a great summer sandwich.
Next up was the “Fresh Herb Salad with White Peaches.” Again, the ingredient list was mostly fresh, whole fruit and vegetables with flavorful fresh herbs as garnish. The combination of peaches, greens, and just-picked herbs sounded fantastic to me, and a great way to use seasonal produce and some of the lovely basil from my garden. Although I couldn’t find white peaches, the final result with conventional fruit was strikingly colorful and vibrant, like a festive float at a summer celebration:
[Fresh Herb Salad with White Peaches--and this is an unretouched photo; the colors really are this intense!]
Finally, I cooked up the “Garden Fresh Millet Quinoa” for dinner; I knew I couldn’t go wrong with two of my favorite grains. Another quick and simple preparation resulted in a light, flavorful dish that was so much more than the sum of its parts. A mélange of colors, flavors and textures contribute to a filling and satisfying meal that both the HH and I enjoyed immensely.
With other recipes like “Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta,” “Creamy Tomato Basil Bisque,” “Kale with Lemon Miso Dressing,” “Summertime Succotash,” or “Mixed-Berry Couscous Cake,” the book offers tasty, fresh ways to use your summer produce and stay cool in the kitchen. And at only $4.99 per book (or $7.99 for both!), Cooking with the Seasons: Summer is a great find.
To provide a sample of the book’s recipes, Christy has graciously allowed me to reprint the Red Lentil Pâté with Cashews. If you enjoy lentil curry, you’ll love this.
Red Lentil Pâté from The Blissful Chef’s Cooking with the Seasons: Summer ebook
This is a light spread and one that tastes equally good cold or slightly warm.
1/4 cup (60 ml) filtered water or broth (I used vegetable broth)
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 Tbsp (15 ml) curry powder (I used mild)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) dried coriander
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) minced ginger
1 cup (240 ml) red lentils, washed and picked over
3 cups (720 ml) filtered water (I used vegetable broth)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari (I used Braggs aminos)
1/2 cup (120 ml) lightly toasted cashews, chopped
fresh cilantro, for garnish
Heat the 1/4 cup (60 ml) water in a medium saucepan over medium-high flame. When the water starts to sizzle, sauté the veggies, spices, ginger and salt for a few minutes. Add the 3 cups (720 ml) water or broth and lentils to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 30 minutes. Stir in the tamari and cashews and keep stirring, scraping the bottom of the pot as necessary to avoid scorching, until the mixture becomes very thick and paste-like (this took me another 20-30 minutes).
Place the mixture in a loaf pan, bowl, or decorative dish and let sit at least 15 minutes to cool and firm up (I refrigerated mine for a few hours). Serve garnished with cilantro, with crackers for spreading. Will keep, covered, in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Last Year at this Time: Lucky Comestible 5(4): Grain-Free Hazelnut-Cilantro Crackers
Two Years Ago: Flash in the Pan: Mex-Ital Tofu Scramble
© 2010 Ricki Heller
Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”