Curried Chickpea and Potato Cakes with Peach Salsa

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This recipe was inspired by fresh peaches from the market. I considered calling the dish Chickpeachutney Cakes. So much fun to say. Try it.

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We enjoyed this spicy, hearty, juicy, sweet dinner on a warm summer evening. I think it would taste best when the peaches are perfectly ripe and still warm from the market.

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Peaches are a delicious taste of summer, while warm curry and potato are reminiscent of fall. If you are like me, you are already looking towards the fall and anticipating the familiarity of its warm and spicy flavors on cool, crisp nights. I expect to make this dish over the next two month “tweason” that ties summer to fall. As an added bonus for vegans, there are no eggs in these cakes; this dish is totally vegan!

Curried Chickpea and Potato Cakes with Peach Salsa

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Curried Chickpea and Potato Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 1- 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 small potatoes, peeled and diced
  • small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided

Preparation:

  1. Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiled water until tender. Drain and mash.
  2. While the potatoes are cooking, mash the chickpeas with a fork into a paste.
  3. In a medium pan, heat 1 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion until fragrant, then add carrots and garlic and sauté until tender.
  4. Add the cumin to the pan with the onions, carrots and garlic. Cook for 1 more minute, then remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the potatoes, chickpeas, and onion-carrot mixture with lemon juice, curry powder, cilantro, salt and pepper.
  6. Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  7. Divide chickpea potato mixture into 6 parts and form into patties. Fry in oil, 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve over lettuce or on buns.

Peach Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 2 fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of ground cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and chill until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Farmers’ Market 7.14 and Canning Party

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I have been giving Kyle a less comprehensive shopping list lately for the market, and I think he has really enjoyed winging it. I have noticed an increase in Mexican style cooking in our house, since Kyle routinely picks up hot peppers, tomatoes and tomatillos at the market. I’m not complaining! Spicy food and cold beer is a great combination for cooking in a heat wave.

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This week’s loot:

  • Zucchini (green and golden)
  • Yellow squash
  • Lemon basil
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatillos

While Kyle shopped for our weekly groceries, I helped out with the Chef Demo. I greeted some familiar faces at the demo tent this week, as some of my favorite bloggers stopped by. Two such bloggers were Liz from I Heart Vegetables and  Brittany from Eating Bird Food. They were shopping for ingredients for our canning party later that day.

On Saturday afternoon, Liz and Brittany hosted a Can It Forward party with the help of Ball jars. We used Ball’s salsa seasoning mix and fresh local tomatoes to can jars of salsa to take home as make-your-own-party-favors. It was so much fun!

Liz jumped in to help mix the salsa like a pro.

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The salsa smelled amazing as it cooked on the stove.

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Brittany expertly used the jar lifter when none of us wanted to get too close to the steaming water bath.

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You could hardly tell that most of us had limited canning experience. The directions on the home canning discovery kit from Ball made everything so easy!

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In the end, we had several jars of salsa to take home.

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I was so happy I got invited to participate, since canning was on my to do list for this year. With life being so crazy lately, I don’t know that I would have gone through with a canning adventure on my own. It definitely helped to have extra hands in the kitchen. A big thank you Brittany for putting together the party and to Liz for letting us use her kitchen!

Gabby somehow escaped my camera lens, but believe me, she was there and she was super helpful. Having canned her own wedding favors last year, Gabby knew all the tips and tricks to make sure we were doing everything right! I had such a great time with these girls and I hope to do another canning adventure sometime soon. Now I just need my own home canning set and I’ll be good to go!

Radish Salsa

I mentioned before that Kyle has been on a radish kick lately. I don’t know what got into him, but he has been all about the radishes for the last few weeks. He never used to touch them, until about a year ago when I threw some diced radishes on top of Cuban black beans and rice. Then he was hooked. Ever since he saw them at the farmers’ market 4 weeks ago, he has asked for them every week. I am running out of ideas for preparation, which can only mean one thing in my house. Desperation breeds creativity in the vegology kitchen. Having tossed them in salads and sandwiches for the last few weeks, I am ready to move on to something more challenging.

Not only do these root vegetables add color to the plate, but they also pack a good dose of nutrition for your body. Radishes are considered by many to be a superfood due to their high concentration of nutrients relative to calories. Radishes contain Vitamin C, zinc, folic acid, B-complex vitamins, and anthocyanins. They contain nutrients that help rebuild tissues and blood vessels, they have cancer-fighting properties and they can help decrease inflammation. Radishes are a natural diuretic, which can aid in fighting certain infections. They also have a good amount of fiber, which can improve digestion. Who could deny a loved one his radishes, after finding out how great they are for his health?

While brainstorming this weekend, I thought about our first positive experience with radishes. Diced and served fresh over spicy black beans and tender rice, radishes were a refreshing component of the meal. When paired with tender, sweet baby greens, radishes offer a pleasantly bitter complement to a salad that would otherwise be lacking a much needed edge. However, when paired with soft and spicy beans, the crisp radish seems milder in flavor, and it adds a refreshing crunch to the dish. Having recently had great success with black bean tacos and mango salsa, I decided to give the spring radish a new stage on which to shine. A corn tortilla, topped with spicy black beans and fresh mango with tiny flecks of minced jalapeño thrown in for good measure.

The mango isn’t local, but who could resist these tender juicy mangoes that are currently in season in Chiapas, Mexico? Perhaps a locavore purist could, but when I saw this new-to-me variety in the grocery store, I had to give it a try. The Champagne mango is very tender, deliciously fleshy, and super sweet. It’s basically my spirit animal, if spirit animals could actually be fruits. I read that these Mexican mangoes are more closely related to Indian mangoes than the more popular Tommy Atkins mango. I bet these would be a good weapon to have in your arsenal if you planned on tackling a mango chutney.

We added a little cheese to our tacos, but you could leave it out to make them vegan. We enjoyed these on a warm night on our back porch. The sounds of kids playing and dogs barking in the distance mingled with the natural chorus of wildlife in the woods right behind our house. The sun went down as we laughed and talked and wiped mango juice from our chins, as diced radish and cucumbers and tender black beans tumbled out of their soft taco shells and littered our plates. We had the awe-inspiring experience of watching a baby blue jay learn how to fly as we dined. We saw many crash landings and a few promising vertical flutters, before its parents swooped in at dusk and (I assume) vowed to try again tomorrow. We experienced the best of spring in one night during that meal, and I was really thankful that Kyle had convinced me (again) to pick up some radishes at the market. What is this season for, if not for trying new things?

Radish Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced radish
  • 1/2 cup peeled, diced cucumber
  • 2 large scallions (or 3-4 small), thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper (less if you can’t take the heat)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Store covered in refrigerator and serve cold.
  3. Serve with chips, on black bean tacos, or on a salad or sandwich.

MexiKali Wraps

One thing I love to eat when the weather warms up is Mexican food. The weekly taco night is a must in the summer, and Kyle and I usually enjoy tacos, burritos, or burrito bowls outside with a cold beer. Sometimes I struggle to get a serving of vegetables in for this once-a-week meal. I started adding steamed broccoli or sauteed zucchini to our burritos and they were a major hit. This week, I decided to get a little more creative and I developed the MexiKali wrap.

Inspired by Brittany’s Vegetarian Zucchini Boats over at EBF, I included a little kale in these tasty wraps. My only regret was the white flour tortillas – the store was out of whole wheat and I think I would have preferred the heartier wheat wrap. Otherwise, they were a great summer meal.

MexiKali Wraps

I filled these wraps with:

  • black beans
  • cilantro-lime rice
  • crispy sauteed kale strips
  • tomato salsa
  • diced avocado (sprinkled with lime juice)

Cilantro-Lime Rice

  1. Cook one cup of brown rice according to package directions (yields 2 cups cooked rice).
  2. While rice is still warm, add 3 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lime juice.
  3. Stir in a handful of chopped cilantro and serve warm.

Crispy Sauteed Kale Strips

  1. Wash one half a bunch of kale. I used Red Russian kale for these wraps for its mild flavor. Dry leaves in a salad spinner or air dry on paper towels.
  2. Remove stems from kale. Stack 6-8 leaves and roll them lengthwise like a cigar. Starting at one end, slice the leaves into thin strips. This is how I chiffonade basil, and it works really well for chopping kale into bite-sized pieces for sandwiches.
  3. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic or 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions to the pan for flavor.
  4. Toss in the kale and saute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until tender. Continue to fry the kale until it becomes crispy. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Canned Tomato Salsa

This salsa is good for when you want fresh-tasting salsa but the tomatoes aren’t in season yet. Bonus points if you canned these yourself from last year’s crop!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced (use gloves!)
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • Salt

Preparation:

  1. Pour the tomatoes out onto a large cooking board and chop with a large, broad knife to make sure they are uniformly chopped to a fine dice.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and garlic. Add salt to taste.

I hope this one finds a place on your table this summer. I’m sure it will be returning to mine. Have a great week!

POM Party: Drinks and Apps

This post is part of a series of recaps of my POM Wonderful Dinner Party. Catching up? See all the posts here: POM Party.

My party was about to kick off and I had a few friends helping out with lime slicing, candle lighting, and mojito muddling. We took a moment to treat ourselves to a little pomegranate liqueur before the doorbell started ringing.

While I prepped things in the kitchen, guests mingled and enjoyed pomegranate mojitos. Many of the guests did not know each other before the party, so introductions were made and they discovered that they had  a lot in common.

Including a love of mojitos.

Can you spot a familiar blogger’s beau in the photo above?

Hint: he is enjoying a pomegranate mojito…

That’s right, it’s Isaac! Brittany and Isaac from Eating Bird Food joined us for dinner. I have been reading her fantastic blog for about a year and a half AND we are neighbors, yet I just met her for the first time when I invited her and Isaac to my dinner party. Thanks Brittany for joining us and taking some beautiful photos of the event!

From my post in the kitchen, I heard the noise level in the other room rising. I thought to myself, these POM mojitos are getting dangerous, I mean, awesome! I also realized that I needed to get some food passed around pretty quickly, or else I might have a dinner guest swinging from the chandelier before we even get to the salad course.

For our first course, I served tostones with a pomegranate salsa. Tostones are fried plantains and they are popular in Cuban cuisine. I extended the Cuban theme throughout the evening, setting the mood with the festive sounds of salsa music playing in the bacground, loosening up my jubilant guests with sweet, tart, and cool POM mojitos, and giving them a taste of the cuisine to come with small bites of tostones and spicy pomegranate salsa.

I had to laugh when I brought the bowl of salsa out to the table and as I walked away heard two enthusiastic women shout, “Stop! No one can touch it until I get a picture!” Oh, bloggers. . .

The tostones were at once starchy, salty, and sweet. They paired well with the tart and tangy salsa. The soft bite of the fried plantain with the crunchy and surprising pop of the pomegranate seed was all kinds of fun for your mouth.

As the plate of tostones slowly emptied, my lovely guests started eating the salsa with forks. Garlic, onion, and saffron wafted from the kitchen into the living room, and my friends started to eye the dining room tables, looking for their placecards while continuing to joke and laugh with one another. They came with appetites and the smells from the stove and the inviting tablescape lured them into my second course.

I think these lush shades of red were a gorgeous complement to the star of the evening.

In case you ever wondered. . .

Here’s how you seat eleven people for a four course dinner party in a one bedroom apartment.

Now that we’re all seated, I’ll share with you my recipes for the drinks and appetizers, featuring POM Wonderful pomegranates.

Pomegranate Mojito

Ingredients

12 fresh mint leaves

1/2 lime, cut into wedges, plus more for garnish

2 tbsp. simple syrup (1 tbsp cane sugar dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water and chilled)

1.5 oz light rum

2 oz POM 100% pomegranate juice

4 oz club soda

Preparation

Put the mint leaves and lime slices in the bottom of a pint glass and pour simple syrup on top.

With a muddler or a large spoon, crush the lime and mint into the simple syrup to release their flavors.

Fill the cup with ice.

Pour light rum and pomegranate juice over ice and stir to mix.

Fill to the top with soda and garnish with a slice of lime.

Tostones

I originally posted my recipe here, but I have copied it below for your convenience.

Ingredients

3 to 4 large unripe (green) plantains

sea salt to taste

2 cups vegetable or olive oil for frying

Preparation

With a sharp small knife cut ends from each plantain and cut a lengthwise slit through skin. Cut plantains crosswise into 1-inch-thick pieces and, beginning at slit, pry skin from pieces. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat 1/2 inch oil over moderate heat until just hot enough to sizzle when a plantain piece is added. Fry plantains in batches, without crowding, until tender and just golden, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. With tongs transfer plantains as fried to paper towels to drain.

Remove skillet from heat and reserve oil. With the bottom of a heavy saucepan or a wide solid metal spatula flatten plantains to 1/4 inch thick (about 3 inches in diameter). Into a bowl of warm salted water dip flattened plantains, 1 at a time, and drain them well on paper towels.

Heat reserved oil over moderate heat until hot but not smoking and fry flattened plantains in batches, without crowding, until golden, about 3 minutes. With tongs transfer tostones as fried to paper towels to drain and season with salt if desired. Serve tostones immediately.

Pomegranate Salsa

Messy kitchen shot. . . eek!

Ingredients

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 large red onion, diced

1 small bunch cilantro (about 1/2 cup, chopped)

1 cup pomegranate arils

1 jalapeñ0, seeded and finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

Preparation

Combine the tomato, onion, cilantro, pomegranate, and jalapeño in a medium sized bowl. Be careful cutting the pepper; the capsaicin can linger on your fingers for days which makes it very uncomfortable to touch your eyes or mouth. I almost always wear gloves when cutting hot peppers.

Add the lime juice and olive oil and stir to combine. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tostones. Leftovers can be served with chips, or if you’re like my dinner guests, eaten right out of the bowl with forks.

Tomatillos!

That word is so much fun to say, I have to accent it with an exclamation point.

I picked up these tomatillos last week at the farmers’ market and couldn’t wait to get in the kitchen.

After a bit of research, I found some creative ideas online and I also had a recipe that had been calling my name from the bookshelf for a while. The tart green tomatillos sat on my counter in their papery husks while I searched for inspiration. I had purchased the last little container of tomatillos from the farmer’s stand, and because they were so delicate and so rare this time of year, I wanted to make sure I gave them the dish that they deserved.

Tomatillos look like small green tomatoes, but they taste quite different. Because the tomatillo is covered by a papery husk, the fruit itself has a smooth skin and is free of blemishes. Their insides are white and less juicy than a tomato. They taste tart when eaten raw, however I read that they can be very inconsistent in flavor; some are sour and tangy, while some are mild and sweet. That reminded me of a box of assorted chocolates, which made me even more excited for the challenge.

I have been holding on to this recipe for nearly two years, trying to muster the courage to a) use tomatillos for the first time, b) bake something in a pumpkin for the first time, and c) spend three hours in the kitchen for one dish. Item (c) would not be a first for me, but it definitely takes some energy and concentration to pull off. Because I didn’t want to turn the entire apartment into an oven by cooking hot stew all afternoon, and because the recipe isn’t exactly seasonally appropriate, I decided to hold off on Spicy Fall Stew Baked in a Pumpkin. That I can look forward to for just a couple months more. Instead I decided to go with a classic that we could enjoy in a variety of dishes all week: Salsa Verde!

I can thank Tyler Florence for guiding me through this meal. I used both his salsa verde recipe and his roasted corn recipe to make these delicious summer tacos.

Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa (adapted from Tyler Florence, Food Network.com)

Ingredients

8-10 tomatillos, husked and halved

1/2 white onion, quartered

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, diced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 lime, juiced

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Cover a baking tray with aluminum foil. Roast tomatillos, onion, garlic, and jalapenos on baking tray in oven for 10-12 minutes.

3. Transfer the roasted vegetables and any juices in the bottom of the tray to a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse until the mixture is smooth.

And it was delicious. Here are some of the dishes I used it in this week:

Black Bean and Corn Tacos with Roasted Tomatillo Chile Salsa

I found these great whole wheat wraps for these tacos:

First, make some oven roasted corn on the cob. I couldn’t believe how easy this was and how much better the corn tasted when it roasted in its own juices.

Next remove the corn kernels from the cob.

Heat some black beans over the stove and warm the tortillas. While the beans and tortillas are warming, prepare the following toppings:

  • diced tomatoes
  • diced avocado sprinkled with lime juice
  • grated monterey jack cheese
  • roasted tomatillo chile salsa

Lay out a buffet of ingredients and assemble your own tacos. This is one of my favorite warm-weather meals! 🙂

Green Eggs No Ham

I used some of the tomatillo salsa on this tasty breakfast that I am calling Green Eggs No Ham Sandwiches:

Here are the ingredients. I am sure you can figure out how to put them together:

  • Two slices of Arnold’s Health Nut bread, toasted
  • 1/4 cup baby spinach, chopped
  • Two cage-free organic eggs, fried (not too hard, not too runny)
  • Grated cheese (an amount that I will not admit to) – I chose monterey jack, Kyle chose cheddar
  • Salt and pepper
  • One messy dollop of roasted tomatillo chile salsa

I love Saturdays.

Eight Ball Zucchini

I have been almost completely absent from the internet for about one week due to my beautiful and relaxing vacation at Massanutten! I make no apologies for neglecting my facebook posting and blog reading/writing duties because: how could you spend your time on the laptop when you get to wake up to this every morning?

I was super excited to arrive at our condo last week for my first trip to this resort, especially since we were going to have a full kitchen in the unit. I decided to try making the eight ball zucchini that I picked up at the farmers’ market over the weekend. The plan was to prepare stuffed zucchini in my apartment kitchen, place them in a baking dish, and then pop them in the oven when we arrived at the resort to enjoy for dinner after unpacking and such.

I wrote a little about these zucchini in my last farmers’ market post. The zucchini I used were about the size of a softball, and colored forest green with  yellow-orange striping. They are the perfect size for one person, unlike the mammoth sized zucchini that I often see at the market in summer in Virginia. I like how easy it is to scale recipes using eight ball zucchini. You can just throw in one per person, whether you are cooking for one or cooking for a crowd.

First, I sliced off the tops and scooped out the insides, leaving about a 1/4″ thick wall around the outside of the squash. I used half of the zucchini pulp in the stuffing and saved half to make zucchini bread later in the week. I kept about a cup of zucchini in this adorable little container that I picked up at Fishs Eddy in NYC.

Next I prepared quinoa as a base for the stuffing. Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is a grain-like plant which is harvested for its edible seeds. It originated in South America and was grown in the Andes mountains by the Incas. It is sometimes referred to as “Inca Gold” based on the gold color of its seed coat.  The quinoa that is commercialized in North America is often sold with its bitter casing removed so that it can be more easily prepared at home. The quinoa that I purchased had already had its casing or “saponins” removed through soaking and rinsing. I usually give it a quick rinse in a fine mesh strainer before cooking anyway.

Quinoa is prepared similarly to rice. I measured one cup of quinoa to two cups of water in a saucepan and cooked it over low-medium heat, covered, for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Quinoa is a good ingredient for vegetarians, so Kyle and I incorporate it into our diets as much as possible. It is a great source of protein, fiber, and essential amino acids. Besides, we love the nutty flavor and grainy texture. Here is what it looks like after cooking. The seed becomes soft while the white spiral remains crunchy.

To the quinoa I added fresh corn kernels, diced tomatoes, diced green bell pepper, minced onion and garlic, black beans, cilantro, olive oil, crushed red pepper, salt and black pepper, and a bit of this Mrs. Renfro’s salsa verde that is one of my new favorites.

I also tossed in a little shredded sharp cheddar cheese for good measure.

Finally, I stuffed the zucchini balls and wrapped them in a baking dish to transport them to the mountains. I had a ton of leftover filling (on purpose) in a separate container for us to heat up and enjoy throughout the week. We drove the two hours to the resort with the faint smell of stuffed zucchini wafting from the backseat of the SUV.

Imagine my surprise when I walked into our spacious condo to discover this:

No oven!

Luckily, I remembered how my Dad used to make me and my sister “baked” apples in the winter by microwaving fresh apples stuffed with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, walnuts, and raisins. So “baked quinoa-stuffed eight ball zucchini” quickly became “microwaved quinoa-stuffed eight ball zucchini.” No harm done, they turned out beautiful and delicious after seven or eight minutes in the microwave, followed by four minutes of rest.

And, by the way, nothing pairs better with microwaved quinoa-stuffed eight ball zucchini (with a side of kitchen-appliance-induced panic) than a bottle of South Australian Jim Jim Shiraz.

Thanks Mom and Dad for cheating on your baked apples, or I might have been completely lost on this one!