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February 2006
A Valentine’s Vegan Lunch Box

Recipes by Jennifer McCann


Hello Readers! In order to spice up all of our lives, the Satya staff and I have decided to present the work of other chefs in my column as often as possible. This month I am pleased to bring you a suite of recipes by Jennifer McCann. She has been a light in the darkness, an oasis in the rather non-vegan desert of eastern Washington. She has been the facilitator of the Tri-Cities Vegetarians, putting together their monthly potlucks and other events for the past several years and maintaining a website and newsletter that serve as a great resource for those of us in the area that want to keep a vegan diet. She has also been a strong voice for vegetarianism in the local media and at area food conferences. Personally, everything I’ve had by Jennifer has been absolutely delicious!

Please join me in welcoming our first distinguished guest. Happy Valentine’s Day!—Joshua Ploeg

Send your sweethearts out into the world this Valentine’s Day with a special lunch that says “I love you!” Don’t forget to include a surprise Valentine’s card or hand-written love note, along with a little bite of dark chocolate for dessert.—Jennifer McCann

Heart Beet Salad
This has been a favorite Valentine’s Day meal for my sweetie and I for several years now. The sweetness of the roasted beets marries beautifully with the flavors of orange and apple. Use blood oranges if you can find them.

Salad
3 Large Beets, scrubbed
1 Head Butter Lettuce, washed and dried
1 Handful Baby Spinach Leaves, washed and dried
1 Celery Stalk, chopped
1 Tart Apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 Oranges, preferably blood oranges
1⁄4 C. Raw or Toasted Walnuts, chopped

Dressing
1 T. Fresh Basil Leaves, cut into thin ribbons
1 t. Balsamic Vinegar
3 t. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 450.

2. Wrap the beets in foil or parchment and place on the oven rack. Roast until tender, about 60 to 75 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing: whisktogether the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

4. Use the back of a paring knife to peel off the outer skin of the beet. Lay the beet on its side and cut into 1⁄4 inch slices. Use a small heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out hearts (save the scraps to snack on or use in another dish). Repeat with the remaining beets.

5. Cut or tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces, then place the lettuce, baby spinach, celery, and apple slices into a large salad bowl. Cut the orange in half and score as you would a grapefruit, then spoon out the orange segments into a large salad bowl. Squeeze the remaining orange juice into the salad dressing and whisk to combine.

6. To serve immediately, toss the salad with the dressing, then arrange on plates topped with the heart beets and toasted walnuts. If packing for a lunch, arrange the beets and toasted walnuts on top of the salad in a lunch container, with a smaller container of dressing on the side.

Serves four.


Tomato Roses on a Bed of Cannellini Bean Purée
Finally, something worthwhile to do with those firm winter grocery store tomatoes—their tight, flavorless skin can be shaped into beautiful “rose buds” and nestled on top of a “long stem” of parsley as a cute, romantic garnish. The savory cannellini bean purée is made with rosemary-infused olive oil and garlic, and served with crisp wholegrain crackers or pita chips.

Purée
1 15 oz. Can Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1⁄2 T. Olive Oil
1 4-inch Sprig of Fresh Rosemary
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1 T. White Wine Vinegar
1⁄4 t. Salt, or to taste
Pinch of White Pepper, or to taste

Roses
1 or 2 Large, Firm Tomatoes
Italian Parsley

1. Rinse and drain the cannellini beans, then place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Set aside.

2. Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add the rosemary sprig and cook, turning occasionally, until the rosemary is dark and limp and very aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove the rosemary from the oil and discard. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is soft, about one minute.

3. Scrape the oil and garlic into the food processor and add the vinegar, salt and pepper. Process until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

4. To make the rose garnish, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Have a small bowl of ice water ready. Submerge the tomato in the boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately plunge the tomato into cold water to stop the cooking. Dry off the tomato, then use a sharp paring knife to cut off two long, thin strips of tomato skin. Wrap the strips into tight spirals to form the rose buds.

5. To serve, spoon the purée into a serving dish and use a spatula to smooth the top. Lay a large sprig of Italian parsley on the surface, and nestle the tomato rose buds gently on top of the beans, surrounded by parsley leaves. Serve with crackers or pita crisps for dipping.

Serves four.

Cherry Almond Scones
This recipe was a gift from baker-genius Tina at Badger Canyon Herb & Tea in Kennewick, Washington. Tina makes a batch of vegan cookies or scones every Friday, and boy, if you don’t get there before noon they are gone. Luckily, she was nice enough to share the secret to her scone success with me.

1 C. All-Purpose White Flour
1 C. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1⁄2 C. Sugar
2 t. Baking Powder
1⁄2 t. Baking Soda
1⁄2 t. Kosher Salt
1⁄4 C. Margarine
1⁄2 C. Soymilk (plain or vanilla)
1 t. Almond Extract
3⁄4 C. Chopped Fresh or Frozen Pitted Cherries
Extra Soymilk and Sugar, for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.

2. Sift together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the margarine and cut into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter or your fingers, until the mixture resembles a coarse, crumbly meal.

3. Add the soymilk, almond extract, and chopped cherries. Mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands until the mixture comes together to form a dough. You may need to add an extra tablespoon of soymilk if the mixture is too dry.

4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a flat round, about three quarters inch thick. Cut each round into six equal wedges.

5. Arrange scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with a bit of soymilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the edges and bottom are golden. Place scones on a wire rack to cool.

Makes 12.

Jennifer McCann
is a stay-at-home mom and vegan activist living in eastern Washington state. She is the owner of the popular blog, The Vegan Lunch Box (www.veganlunchbox.com), and is currently working on a cookbook of the same name. She invites you to stop by and see what’s for lunch.

 

 


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