VEGAN CASHEW BUTTER BONBONS

These are absolutely luscious and not that hard to make as – believe it or not – you won’t have to temper chocolate to make them. The silicone mold is also optional, you can use mini-muffin tins, although I am not sure how easy or tricky it might be to get the bonbons out.


VEGAN CASHEW BUTTER BONBONS
(inspired by Vegan Treats)

115g cacao butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons creamy cashew butter
gold luster powder to decorate (optional)

If using gold luster powder, brush the inside of the molds with it. Reserve.

Melt the cocoa butter in the microwave using very low power. As soon as it melts, stop heating it. Stir the cocoa powder and maple syrup. Pour the mixture in the molds filling it halfway. Place the mold in the fridge for about 15 minutes to set.

Remove from the fridge, spoon a small amount of cashew butter in the center of each cavity, then pour the remaining chocolate on top to cover completely the cashew butter. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before un-molding the bonbons. For added safety, I like to place the mold in the freezer for 5 minutes.

Store in the fridge for about 10 days. They stay well at room temperature for at least a couple of hours.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is really super easy and the results go beyond the effort by a long shot. I do not have a link for the mold which I’ve had for a long time, but many different shapes and sizes will work, just do a search online. They will stay good in the fridge for a long time, but won’t melt at room temperature, I actually left them sitting over a counter for a couple of days and nothing bad happened. The best option if you make them is to store them in the fridge and bring them to room temperature for one hour or so before indulging.

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CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE ROMESCO SAUCE

I debated whether to insert the “V” word into the title, but yes, this is vegan. And delicious with a big “D.” The sauce packs a huge hit of flavor. I used the smallest recommended amount of chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce, if you are a braver soul, go for the kill and add more. Obviously, you can use meat instead of cauliflower and please all the omnivores at your table. But whatever your gastronomic inclination, MAKE THE SAUCE.


VEGAN CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH CHIPOTLE ROMESCO SAUCE
(adapted from Minimalist Baker)

for the cauliflower:
1 large cauliflower head, cut in small pieces
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp salt

for the sauce:
1/4 cup raw almonds
1 15-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes (drained)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium lime, juiced
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more to taste)
1 Tbsp maple syrup (plus more to taste)
1-2 whole chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more for spicier sauce)

for serving:
corn tortillas
Lime juice / wedges
Fresh cilantro (optional)
shredded cheese (vegan, if you prefer)

Coat the cauliflower pieces with the oil and the spices. Either roast it in a 400F oven, or air-fry it for 15 minutes. Reserve.

Toast the almonds in a dry non-stick skillet until they start to get fragrant and get a bit of color, but do not move away from the stove and move them constantly to prevent them from burning. Add them to a blender (Vitamix works best) together with all other ingredients for the sauce. Blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, or maple syrup, depending on your preference.

To serve, warm up tortillas, add the sauce and the warm cauliflower on top, then more sauce, and any toppings you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This sauce will definitely show up in our kitchen regularly because it is so easy to make, and absolutely perfect for our taste. When I first made it I thought it was too spicy, but it is not, it mellows down as you add it to the other components, and matches all sorts of protein or veggies. I enjoyed it next day with some leftover grilled chicken breasts.


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CAULIFLOWER WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND OLIVES

This is cauliflower that deserves a spot at your table when you have special guests for dinner. Amazing that we can now write such a phrase after a couple of years of social isolation. I go as far as saying that even cauliflower haters will be pleasantly surprised. The sun-dried tomatoes add richness and the olives and balsamic vinegar that acidity that lightens things up. Absolutely delicious. And, by the way, it is vegan-friendly.

CAULIFLOWER WITH SUN-DRIED TOMATOES AND OLIVES
(inspired by Crossroads)

1 head cauliflower, florets only, chopped in pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil (for oven roasting) or olive oil spray for air-frying
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup Castelvetrano olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
slivered almonds, slightly toasted, to taste

If roasting the cauliflower in an oven, drizzle the florets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in 425F oven for about 30 minutes. If using the air-fryer, spray the florets with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and air-fry for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Reserve. The cauliflower can be roasted hours in advance or even the day before.

Put a large saute pan over medium-heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the celery and shallots, season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, add the olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and capers and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring often. Add the reserved cauliflower, the balsamic vinegar, adjust seasoning. Right before serving, add lemon zest and juice, and top with the toasted slivered almonds.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I don’t know which ingredient elevates this recipe, it is a tight match between the sun-dried tomatoes and the green olives. At any rate, it was an outstanding side dish. I highly recommend it. We enjoyed it with grilled chicken breasts, super simple. Just a marinade with olive oil, Garam masala and salt.

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EGGPLANT-HUMMUS PHYLLO ROLLS

Another recipe that should not compete for looks, but gets high grades in the taste department… So easy to put together that it almost qualifies for my Incredibly Simple category. I used store-bought hummus. We like Sabra brand but any brand will likely work. Of course, you can make your own for added bliss.

EGGPLANT-HUMMUS PHYLLO ROLLS
(adapted from Messy Vegan Cook)

1 medium eggplant, cut vertically in 1/2 inch slices
1/3 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
hummus (I used Sabra traditional)
6 sheets of phyllo dough (3 per roll)
olive oil spray

Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush that mixture on the eggplant slices and use a grill pan to lightly cook it, no more than a couple of minutes per side. You can use an outside grill, but don’t let the eggplant overcook and get mushy. Let the slices cool before proceeding with the recipe.

Lay one sheet of phyllo on the surface, spray olive oil lightly. Lay two more sheets on top, spraying olive oil each time. Lay two slices of eggplant overlapping (as shown in the picture after the recipe). Spread some hummus on top. Fold the phyllo over the eggplant, forming a long strip that totally encloses the eggplant. Gently roll. Place on a roasting pan and bake for 35 minutes at 375F.

Let it cool slightly before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main thing to keep in mind is that the eggplant will cook in the rolls for 35 minutes, so make sure not to overcook it in the first step, and do not cut it too thin. Phil wants to have a variation with eggplant and mushrooms together, so I will definitely try that soon, but I already leave the idea for you. I also think adding a couple of thin slices of roasted red bell pepper would be delicious.

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KAMUT AND BROCCOLI SALAD

If I am going to have a salad, my preference is a salad with substance, and a variety of textures and colors. No need to go all the way into a Chicken Caesar or a Steak Salad, but the addition of grains is more than welcome. I used quick-cooking kamut, but any type will work, just pay attention to the timing. Also, any other will be fine: barley, cracked wheat, or the beautiful farro.

KAMUT & BROCCOLI SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup cooked kamut, or amount to taste
2 broccoli heads, or amount to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 apple, cut in pieces (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
grated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The kamut can be prepared a day in advance if you like. Make sure it is cold when you make the salad. If you make it in advance, drizzle just a touch of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Separate the broccoli into florets and steam them for 3 minutes. Immediately run very cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the steamed broccoli into pieces. Reserve.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, add ginger, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad, pour the dressing and mix gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving, if possible.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook I own, but that version served the broccoli raw and passed by the food processor. The pieces of raw broccoli were very small and lost in the middle of the grain, all acquiring the same green color. The way I chose to make it, was barely steaming the broccoli. This simple step tames its raw sharpness. Next, I cut the pieces with a knife, in small chunks. In my opinion, this makes the final product much more appealing not only visually, but as far as texture goes.

The apples and raisins are a must, and the cashews give that extra crunchiness that will leave you smiling… peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, can be used instead.

The added bonus of this salad: it holds quite well in the fridge. I made such a big portion that in fact it lasted two days, and on the second day I decided to warm it in the microwave for a minute. Perfect! A light lunch that needed absolutely nothing else to go with it.

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