Asian Slaw & Ginger-Sesame Dressing

A hot summer mid-day is the perfect time to indulge in some cold crunch!

This alkalizing salad includes cooling raw fennel & cucumber… along with radish (great for the liver)… the cooling nature of the raw veggies is balanced with a warming sesame-ginger dressing.  Ayurveda says that raw veggies are best consumed during the mid-day, when the sun is high in the sky… and during the warm season – spring / summer.

Veggies (approximate amounts – do to taste)

  • 1-2 Fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of Radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2-4 Cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

Ginger-Sesame Dressing – use amounts to taste

  • 1/2 Cup Black sesame seeds (or white if you can’t find), toasted on the stovetop in a pan
  • 1/2 Cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup of toasted sesame oil
  • Juice of 2 Limes
  • 1/3 Cup Rice vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup Shoyu or Tamari
  • dash of Organic agave or maple syrup (unless your rice vinegar is sweetened)
  • 1-2 TB shredded ginger
  • 1/2 Cup Black sesame seeds (or white if you can’t find), toasted on the stovetop in a pan

Toss ingredients together!

Pairing

Though I’m not a fan of excess amounts of soy, on occasion, it’s just fine. This salad would go great with a bowl of steamed edamame, or a marinated & baked or stirfried tofu or tempeh.

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Tender Roasted Squash

This could NOT be easier! And it is so super delicious… and is fantastic kid eat it with your fingers food.  It cooled down here this week, and I was SO attracted to the “winter” squash that is available year-round.  Pictured below – kabocha squash.

Squash are sweet, earthy, and vitamin-rich… they are satisfying and just plain delicious with just salt, pepper and oil.  You really don’t need to get fancy with it! Baking or roasting veggies is considered great for kapha-types & kapha season (damp, heavy, spring, slow)… because you can get away with using less oil than cooking on stovetop, and because of the dry-heat effect of the baking process.  Plus, roasting caramelizes and intensifies flavors and emphasizes the natural sweet taste in veggies.  AND it is not labor intensive other than the slicing and the occasional checking the oven and turning the veggies so they don’t brown.

Ingredients

  • Any winter / fall squash, seeded & sliced thin (you can keep the skins on)
  • Olive Oil, melted ghee, or sunflower oil – a few tablespoons
  • A couple tablespoons of water
  • Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • OPTIONS: dried crushed herbs (eg. thyme, basil, oregano, dill, marjoram), Cumin Sprinkle, Citrus Juice or Zest –
  • OPTION: Kids will LOVE it sprinkled with cinnamon and ghee (and maybe some nutmeg and allspice for the adult palettes).

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to around 400 degrees
  • Use a baking sheet (I use a cookie sheet)… oil the sheet by thickly drizzling oil over it… I line my baking sheet with Parchment Paper, and oil the paper.
  • Pile the thinly sliced squash somewhat evenly over on the sheet… a higher pile will just mean you need to get in there and turn them after awhile, so the top pieces don’t over-brown and the bottom pieces don’t over-mush.
  • Drizzle more oil or melted ghee on top.  You can also sprinkle a little water with your fingers over the pile of squash so they don’t scorch.
  • Place the baking sheet in the oven
  • Bake for around a total of 20-40 minutes (depending on how thinly sliced the squash is)… check every 10 min or so and turn them so the bottom ones get a little browned and the top ones don’t over brown.  You can add a litte more oil or sprinkle a little more water.  *Don’t be shy about pulling the WHOLE SHEET out of the oven, and turning the veggies before putting it back in the oven – better than bending over for a long period with your arm, or worse, your head, in the oven.  I learned the hard way, by scorching my wrist when my bangle overheated!
  • Toward the end of the cooking or at the very end, you can sprinkle with salt, black pepper and anything else you want (eg. herbs, citrus, etc.)
  • Poke through to make sure the pieces are cooked through… don’t worry about the pieces not all being the same, it’s nice to have some more firm and other pieces more soft.
  • Enjoy!
  • PS – you can eat the skin 🙂

Pairing Suggestions

Dressing Suggestions

  • A yogurt & tahini dressing – plain organic whole milk yogurt, honey, tahini, salt, pepper (maybe a little water to thin)
  • A ginger-sesame dressing.
  • An balsamic & olive oil dressing with fresh herbs – like parsley or dill
  • A citrus dressing – lemon juice, orange zest, toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds and tamari or shoyu
  • If you’re cooking for kids, these are dip-able in their favorite sauce, and make a great finger food… let them go for it – Ayurveda says, digestion begins with the finger tips, when you touch food, your body begins releasing enzymes! And if there’s a baby in the house, just blend up the squash in your food processor.

Here’s the squash with the Summer Pilaf

PeaNOT Sauce

Sunflower Butter, or “sunbutter” is a fantastic alternative to peanut butter because:

  • Sunflower seeds are a nutrient-rich, high protein & easy-to-digest alternative to peanuts, which are heavy, difficult to digest, and hard on the liver.
  • Sunflower seeds have a bitter & sweet taste, very similar to peanuts.
  • Sunflower seeds are not a common alergen (unlike peanuts, which often have  a mold that causes various degrees of immune system reactivity).
  • Great for kids.

You can use Sunbutter in any way you would use Peanut butter… making a protein-rich sauce or dressing is a great way to get more diverse protein into a vegetarian (yogic) diet… plus, blended up and thinned out with the digestive sour taste of citrus or apple cider vinegar, the seeds are even easier to digest & assimilate.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 TB Sunbutter
  • 2 TB maple syrup (or raw agave, or a “simple syrup” – dissolving organic sugar in warm water)
  • 1/4 Cup Shoyu (or Tamari)
  • 1/4 Cup water
  • 1/8 Cup apple cider vinegar (could also use lime juice)
  • Sesame oil (toasted sesame oil is great in this), or Sunflower oil or Olive oil – to taste (OPTIONAL; reduce or omit the oil if you are adding this to veggies that are already cooked with oil – eg. in a wok)

Instructions

Blend it up! I use a hand held immersion blender from Cuisinart… you could use a regular blender, or do it old school with some arm muscles with a firm whisk!

Serving Ideas

This sauce is great over steamed or sauted veggies & rice or rice noodles… This time I did it over veggies in a hot wok.  You can vary the ingredients quite a bit… I never measure for this… it’s really just up to your taste! But I did measure before blogging it!

The veggies are wok-stirfried broccoli, celery & sweet potato in toasted sesame oil, shredded ginger & yellow mustard powder.  Topped with thinly sliced watermelon radish.  Served over jasmine rice,  with LOTS of PeaNOT sauce on top!  Kids will like it over plain rice, or as a dipping sauce with plain veggies, cooked or raw.

Yogi’s Pesto

Oh my gosh pesto is SO delicious!  The traditional recipe, which uses garlic and parmesan doesn’t quite fit with the yogic diet of my every day life, reflected in the recipes at Vedicook… but that doesn’t stop me. My mom made it for years without the cheese, because of my brother’s allergy, and that always turned out great.


Why no parmesan? 

While dairy is highly valued in Ayurveda (for those with no sensitivity to it) Parmesan is a hard, aged cheese… not recommended on a regular basis, because it is hard on the digestive tract and the liver, increases vata (because it’s dry & hard), pitta (because its salty and oily & the hardness means the liver goes crazy trying to break it down) and kapha (because it’s aged).  On occasion, and in moderation it’s okay… but why not learn to make a pesto without it?  Plus it’s great for vegans!  If you must have cheese, go for fresh, white cheeses when possible (mozzarella, ricotta, feta).

Why no garlic? 

Garlic is considered both rajasic (increases agitation, anger, division, aggressiveness, hyperactivity, competitiveness) and tamasic (increases laziness, darkness, stagnation, attachment).  While it has a healing purpose (beneficial for those needing to stop a cold in its tracks), it is not ideal for everyday use in a yogic diet, because of the rajasic & tamasic effects on the mind.

I vary the amounts in this recipe all the time… but the ingredients stay about the same.  Depending on season and availability, the ratio of basil to parsley will change quite a bit.  I used to use pine nuts, however the price has significantly increased! Still, they are ideal Ayurvedically, because they are lighter and easier to digest than other nuts.  If one has a very hot constitution, splurge on the pignolis! Just experimented with using 1/2 cashews and 1/2 walnuts – the cashews give a creamy effect to mimic cheese!


Pesto is such a striking almost neon green color, I love to serve it with something else bright – like the shredded beet salad (golden beet would be beautiful as well) …

Ingredients

  • 4 oz basil
  • 2 small (or one large) bunches Italian (flat leaf) parsley, washed.
  • 1/4 Cup plus 1 TB Olive Oil
  • 1/2 heaping cup walnuts (or pine nuts)… or COMBINE cashews & walnuts for a creamier effect!
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste – it’s best to under-salt the pesto and add more to taste when eating)

plus one of the following:

  • juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon plus 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/4  whole milk organic plain yogurt
  • 2 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup cheese of your choice (parmesan, ricotta, feta, etc.)

Instructions

Blend all the ingredients in food processor.
Taste and adjust the recipe accordingly – if becomes too thin, add more nuts.

To Serve

Great with fresh ground black pepper when served.

Toss a generous amount with pasta – an aldente penne holds up to the heaviness of the pesto.

Spread over flat bread and bake with olives and veggies for a healthy flat bread pizza.

Serve over polenta

Great on rye toast, baked sweet potatoes, or whatever could use some intense green!

The color is even more striking aside something red or golden yellow in color…

Ginger Kale

I can’t get enough kale! I just adore it… nourishing, sweet, bitter, simple, colorful… great on it’s own or as a compliment to almost anything… my favorites are the tender types (tender = easy to digest) purple kale, dino kale, and red russian kale.

Purple Kale

Greens all fall into the “bitter” category of taste.  I pretty much always make them with ginger… which balances the lightness & bitterness with the sweet, spicy and earthy taste.  It’s a great way to get your green on, without relying on salad (which is too dry & cold to enjoy in the winter – especially for those with a lot of vata).  The bitter taste is good for the heart 🙂 You can pair them with something orange (like sweet potatoes) and a heavier dressing like a tahini dressing for a well-balanced preparation for all doshas.

Here’s my favorite way to prepare it…

Instructions

  1. Stack several kale leaves into a neat pile. Slice them cross-wise (perpendicular to the center vein) into thin strips, like skinny kale noodles.  Repeat until you’ve done one or more heads of kale.
  2. Place the sliced kale in a big bowl in the sink and fill with cool water.
  3. Pour 1 or more TB of oil (I prefer coconut or sesame oil) in a pan or large pot.
  4. Shred lots of ginger into the oiled pan (1-2 inches).
  5. Heat the pan on medium to infuse the oil with the ginger for about a minute.
  6. Pull the wonderful kale strips from the water boil by the handfil and place in the pan… the water drips on the kale will help the kale to steam gently, so give ’em one gentle shake in the sink and then just toss ’em in the pan.
  7. Cover and cook over medium heat until the kale is tender (time will vary by the kind of kale – some are tougher than others) and the amount you are cooking.

This recipe will work with collard greens, mustard greens, chard, and bok choy.

You can enjoy them as is… or with a tahini dressing.  I often serve kale with something bright orange – like butternut squash, red lentil dal, or sweet potatoes. Here it is below in a Spring season preparation – on cornmeal flat bread with a watermelon radish salad.

Kidney Bean Bake

This is one of my husband’s specialties… he loves it paired with my skillet corn bread recipe, and while it’s simple, it takes a LONG SLOW time to bake, so though he talks about it quite often, he really makes this once a year.  It’s rich and sweet with a slight spice.

Kidney Bean Bake with Corn Bread & Kale

It’s a great warm winter dish… because it cooks all day, you keep the kitchen warm with the oven.  Plus kidney beans are a wonderful winter selection.  Very high in protein, rich in flavor, grounding, earthy & heavy… all the qualities we look for in a winter food.  Because kidney beans are toxic if  eaten raw (who would do that?!), or if cooked at extremely high temperatures, they make a perfect bean for “low & slow” cooked stews and bakes like this recipe. Beans in general in Ayurveda are always soaked, with the soaking water discarded, and cooked with digestive spices to mitigate the gassiness – this recipe uses cinnamon.  I recommend that you soak the beans overnight, and then start baking early in the morning so that the meal is ready for lunchtime… this way you will have this meal when your digestive fire is at its zenith point – around noon – the ideal time to eat heavier & high protein items.  This is a great dish for a rainy or snowy day when you plan to stay inside.

The first time we made this was when we were living in the National Redwood Forrest on the northern California coast… it was very “The Shining” – we were caretakers for a 30 bed hostel during the low season… so we baked this dish all day, listening to the waves crashing outside, against the silence of a big empty house.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 7 cups hot water
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cups molasses
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard powder
  • 20 black peppercorns (you can slightly crush them in a mortar & pestle)
  • 8 TB tomato paste (buy in a glass jar)
  • 1 and 1/2 Cup butternut squash or sweet potato, cut into cubes
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 275F
  2. Drain the beans and place in a pain with the hot water. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Skim off white foam.  Transfer the beans and cooking water to a baking dish.
  3. Add the bay leaves, 1/3 cup of the molasses, mustard powder and peppercorns. Cover with a baking lid (or aluminum foil) and bake for 6 hours.
  4. Check every hour or 2 to give a stir & see if it’s getting dry, (then add some more water – over the course of the 6 hours you’ll for sure add more water).  You can choose whether you want this dish to be for spoons (soupier) or forks (stickier)… we had a stickier version
  5. Stir in the tomato paste, sweet potato or squash, carrot, celery, salt, cinnamon stick, and the other 1/3 C molasses.  Bake for 2 hours longer.
  6. Serve warm.

Serving Ideas

I really can’t imagine too many other ways to have this besides with some kind of steamed or stirfried greens (we did kale with shredded ginger in sesame oil) and some corn bread or polenta… maybe a piece of crusty bread.  This is serious southern comfort food… I felt like wearing a ‘do rag and singin’ in the kitchen.

Creamy Dal Soup

I’m still on a soup trip! It’s one of my favorite things to make (and eat!)… and again, as discussed on the last Soup Posting, really the ideal food for cold and dry days!

Creamy Dal with Yogurt & Sweet Potato-Kale

In our house, we make dal alot… and today, I was in the mood to alter the basics a little… so I made a basic dal, but added both celery & celery root to it, and then blended it up for a really creamy result.  It ended up tasting very similar to split pea soup… with a similar texture.   You’ll need the hand-held immersion blender for this recipe… or a regular ol’ blender (but it’s not nearly as fun or convenient!)

Celery Root - it's pure white inside the skin!

If you don’t already know this, Celery Root (also known as celeriac) is an amazing way to make soups creamy… I learned this in a fantastic restaurant that has a daily vegan soup… they put celery soup in EVERY soup, and blend it up for a creamy result. Plus, Celery Root is not as heavy, starchy or sweet as potato or flour (the traditional go-to thickeners to soups and sauces).  Its popular in France, and is used in all kinds of ways.  Its sweet, creamy, flavor is well balanced by sour, salt and pungent tastes (such as lemon, rock salt and mustard).  In this particular recipe, the spices and the dollop of yogurt on the side provided delicious balace in rasa (taste).

Creamy Dal Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup red lentils (can also use split yellow mung… they will take a little longer to cook)
  • Water to cover
  • 1 heaping tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/3 bulb of celery root, peeled & chopped into small cubes
  • 1 celery stalk, washed and chopped roughly
  • 2 TB sunflower oil or ghee
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 TB sucanat (raw sugar)
  • 4 curry leaves (if available – find them at an Indian market)
  • 1 chopped small green chilie (optional)
  • 1-2 inches chopped fresh ginger

Instructions

  • Rinse the lentils
  • Immerse in enough water to cover in a pot, and bring to boil
  • Add the turmeric & simmer for 15 minutes (longer if using mung) or until lentils are soft (adding more water as needed)
  • (While lentils are cooking, prep the ginger, chilie, celery & celery root)
  • Add the celery & celery root to the pot
  • (Meanwhile) heat the oil or ghee in a small pot or saucepan
  • Add the cumin, coriander and mustard seeds and stir over medium heat until they turn color and become aromatic (about 2 minutes)
  • Add the ginger, chilie, sucanat and curry leaves and stir into the mixture for about 1 minute
  • Pour the spice mixture into the lentil pot and stir in.
  • Continue cooking until celery root is soft
  •  Remove from heat & blend it up thoroughly (with your hand held immersion blender or regular ol’ blender)

Serving Ideas

  • Enjoy with a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of plain whole milk organic yogurt.
  • You might pair with a good bread or whole grain or quinoa (which is technically a seed – making a high protein combo with the soup)
  • Pair it with a mixed veg curry or even some steamed veggies, such as zucchini, green beans or ginger kale. Something green goes great with this soup!
Creamy Dal Soup