Cilantro Stem Dressing…say what?

Sometimes my own nerdiness takes me by surprise. I’ve never claimed to be cool but I never thought myself to be someone who would dance around the kitchen after tasting a salad dressing. Eli cocked his head to one side perplexed as he watched the scene take place.

I just couldn’t help it. After years of project managing creatives and allowing myself to believe that I personally was not “creative” it still amazes me that I can concept and actualize ideas of my own. It’s a lovely feeling that the swirling and pondering of a thought can become a tangible recipe I get to share with others. Another benefit the world of blogging has allowed me.

Anyway, on to the recipe.

Being in New York last weekend and not having a chance to get to the grocery store this week we’ve been eating what we have. We, of course, have more than enough food to pick from but our veggie supply is getting low. Our vegetable drawer currently consists of brussels sprouts, a 5lb bag of carrots, spinach and the ends of a bunch of cilantro.Cilantro

I eat a lot of cilantro, usually a bunch a week. I will greedily eat up all the leaves, pushing the stems to the back of the crisper to wither and die until I buy the next bunch.

A few days ago I had what is now annoying referred to as an Aha moment. I ran across this Veggie Belly post that used the cilantro stems in a soup and it suddenly hit me that I was wasting a flavorful part of the cilantro.

I quickly dug out those stems and got to work on a what I hoped would be a delicious salad dressing. It was honestly better than I could have imagined and avoids wasted food and money. Win win.

Cilantro Stem Salad Dressing (vegan, gluten-free)

1 bunch of cilantro stems, chopped finely

2 tbsp hulled hemp seeds

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp garlic infused olive oil

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tbsp maple syrup

1/4 tsp salt

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Wash cilantro stems thoroughly, the stems tend to hold a lot of dirt, don’t skip this step.

Chop stems finely and place in a food processor with remaining ingredients.

Blend until well combined. I ran my processor for over a minute.

Adjust seasonings to taste.

cilantro salad dressing

Makes 1-2 serving depending on salad size.

I massaged the dressing into 3 cups of spinach and topped with slivered almonds. I think it would be wonderful with avocado and baby tomatoes as well.

spinach salad with cilantro dressingspinach salad with cilantro dressingspinach salad with cilantro dressing

Happy Friday.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Fire Trucks and Blueberry, Orange Salad Dressing

I admit that yesterday’s post was a bit of a downer. So much so that Michael’s mom called me just to say hello. Too sweet.

We had a little bit of drama after I posted last night. Around 10 I was watching the 49ers/Pats game and started to smell a little bit of smoke. This isn’t unusual, it was very faint. We have a fireplace and sometimes the wind will blow back down the chimney and make it smell a little smokey. But, then I started to hear sirens at the front of the house. When I looked outside there were four fire trucks and a bunch of cop cars. Not wanting to be the stupid girl who stayed in a burning house I put on my parka, leashed up Eli and headed out in the rain.

Turns out it was next door. Not sure if it was a small fire or just a false alarm but after 15 minutes the firemen started to roll their hoses back up so I headed inside. I did take a few pics of what drama there was though.

fire ladder fire trucks

Also not wanting to let another rainy, gray day dampen my spirits I made something bright and full of citrus. I bookmarked this salad dressing before Thanksgiving. A fellow blogger (whom I cannot locate now to link to her blog) suggested using blueberries instead of cranberries like the original recipe suggests, which I did.

I also added some cornstarch to thicken this up as I’m not a huge fan of the runny-ness of vinaigrettes but feel free to adjust to your liking.

This was tangy and sweet with a bit of spice from the hot mustard. Family take note, you may be seeing this on the table next week.

Blueberry, Orange Salad Dressing (vegan, gluten-free)

Recipe originally from Oh She Glows

1 cup frozen blueberries

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup orange juice

1 teaspoon Chinese hot mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt to taste

1 teaspoon corn starch

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Bring blueberries, apple cider vinegar and maple syrup to a boil in a pot.

frozen blueberries blueberries and maple syrup

Reduce to medium heat for 10 minutes.

Let mixture cool then place in a blender or food processor with orange juice, mustard and olive oil. I made fresh juice from some mandarins I had but you can easily use store-bought juice.

The original recipe also calls for Dijon mustard but I didn’t have any. Chinese hot mustard worked well but feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand.

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Blend or process mixture until smooth. Add salt.

I used my processor and it never got fully smooth. Although I decided not to strain the mixture, you can if you want silky smooth salad dressing. I personally felt like the original recipe was too thin even without straining so I added a little cornstarch.

Mix cornstarch with a tablespoon of the dressing.

blueberries dressing and a bit of cornstarch

Place remaining dressing in a pot. Bring to a boil and add cornstarch. Boil until thick, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat.

Let salad dressing cool before using.

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Looks a little like a jar of jam.

I served it over a spinach salad with dried cranberries, diced apples and pecans. The perfect holiday salad.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Recipe FAIL(s)

It’s not all rainbows and kittens here at quinoa, kale and exhale. Sometimes you start a recipe with the highest of expectations and then it turns out to be a big fat flop!

Yesterday I set out to make gluten-free bread sticks. I did some research online, per usual. I mixed the yeast with warm almond milk and sugar. I added it to the dry ingredients, plus some fresh rosemary. I formed the bread sticks, brushed them with garlicky vegan butter and crossed my fingers. Michael came home about an hour later and I eagerly showed him the baked bread sticks, they looked so nice. He took a bite, looked at me with a mouth full and shook his head ‘no, I do NOT think so’. He’s my biggest fan in the kitchen and often says things are better than they actually are so when he denied the bread sticks I knew I had to admit defeat…this time.

With no bread stick recipe to share with you I scoured the web and my cookbooks for some inspiration. Last week I bought some mustard seeds and I thought maybe a sweet mustard salad dressing would be the perfect make-up recipe for today’s post.

But, some days the cooking gods are just not in your favor. The only successful thing I’ve done in the last hour is burn two sets of mustard seeds and make a horrible charred and acidic mustard dressing.

I am now sitting under a big blanket with the windows wide open, letting in the 40 degree air so I can rid the house of the smell of failure 🙂

Lunch today? The simplest kale salad with rice wine vinegar, salt and water chestnuts and some Trader Joe’s veggie pot stickers.

White flag waving.

Until tomorrow.

 

Getting saucy

Yesterday I alluded to two of my favorite sauces to accompany my dinner bowls. I’ve mentioned my love for sauces before. I think salad dressings and sauces make a meal so I am constantly creating and experimenting with new flavor combinations.

This peanut sauce is unbelievably delicious. I’ve been making it forever and we eat it over vegetables, quinoa, beans, sweet potatoes, just about anything. I’ve never found a bottled peanut dressing or satay sauce that’s this tasty…and I’ve tried them all!

Vegan Gluten-Free Peanut Sauce

2 tablespoon unsalted peanut butter, I use the freshly ground peanut butter from Whole Foods

1 teaspoon sriracha

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar, in most my recipes you can sub this out for any type of vinegar, in this recipe I would definitely use rice wine

1/2 tablespoon peanut or olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

1-2 tablespoons warm water

pinch of salt

pinch of sugar

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Place peanut butter, sriracha and garlic in a bowl.

Using a fork, mix in vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice and tamari.

Add water to thin out.

Mix in salt and sugar.

If the sauce is still too thick, taste and then decide what liquid to add more of. Sometimes it needs more lemon juice, sometimes more vinegar, sometimes just a little water.

The second sauce we eat a lot of is more of a salad dressing. As I’ve mentioned before, I used to be obsessed with ranch dressing but began to eat less of it after taking a closer look at the mile long ingredients list.

One evening I was lamenting the loss of my beloved condiment when Michael suggested we just make our own. His mom used to make a version for him and his siblings when they were growing up as an alternative to processed, store-bought salad dressings. So he pulled out the ingredients and got to work. Imagine my surprise when all of 4 ingredients were mixed together to create the loveliest ranch dressing I’d ever had. I’m not sure why he kept it a secret for so long.

Vegan Gluten-Free Ranch Dressing

2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise, we use the veganaise brand

1 tablespoon unflavored almond milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

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Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix until smooth.

Every once in a while I’ll add a little fresh minced garlic but usually I keep it really simple.

I’m pretty sure that adding some sun-dried tomatoes, chipotle powder or hot sauce would create a great spicy ranch but I just thought of it and unfortunately I’m sitting at a Starbucks and can’t recreate right now to confirm for you. I’ll report back.

I love this simple salad dressing; it tastes amazing with dinner bowls, roasted potatoes or taco salads. A little goes a long way.

Both these recipes yield enough for two servings. They will keep in the fridge for a day or two in a tightly covered container but are best eaten the same day, especially the ranch.

Now, go get saucy.

Enjoy!

Poblano Hemp Seed Salad Dressing

I’ve always been a big sauce person. If the normal person eats their french fries with ketchup, I eat mine with ketchup, bbq sauce and ranch. So a few years ago when I started examining my diet more closely I was a little horrified by the amount of processed sauces I was actually eating; especially in the form of ranch dressing.

I can honestly say that I was probably going through a huge bottle of Hidden Valley Light Ranch almost every month! And justifying it because it was ‘light’ of course, simply ignoring the mile long ingredient list. In full transparency, I still indulge in ranch every once in a while when dining out but I’ve started creating my own salad dressings for every day use. I have also created a vegan ranch, with Michael’s help, but that’s not today’s recipe.

This dressing came about because of a sad looking poblano pepper sitting in my fruit basket. I intended to use it last week in some recipe I’ve long forgotten about. The thing is, I really hate to waste food, so I started wracking my brain for recipes using this poor pepper. While looking through my pantry I came across a big bag of hulled hemp seeds I bought this weekend. Between the two I figured I could come up with a flavorful salad dressing made of whole foods.

Poblano Hemp Seed Salad Dressing

1 poblano pepper, de-seeded and diced

1/4 cup of hulled hemp seeds (these are sometimes also called hemp hearts)

3 tablespoons water

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil and a teaspoon minced garlic)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

salt

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Soak hemp seeds in 3 tablespoons of water for 15 minutes. When I attempted to make this yesterday I didn’t soak the seeds and they wouldn’t blend in my immersion blender. If you’re using a food processor or high-speed blender you may not need to soak but I found that adding this step helped create a creamy, smooth dressing.

Dump hemp seeds and soaking water in food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except salt.

Whirl until smooth. You may need to scrap down the sides a few times.

Add salt to taste at the end. I didn’t measure how much salt I put in but if I had to guess I’d say 1/2 teaspoon, maybe a bit less.

I had this dressing over a kale salad with delicata squash but this would also be great over a taco salad. The poblano has a hint of spice but is very mild. For a spicier version, try with a jalapeno.

 

Enjoy!