Tag Archives: salad

The story of how Pearl (couscous) went from drab to fab

It was a dark and stormy night getting late in the evening and I had no motivation (or inspiration) to make dinner.  So I started scrolling through this Whole Foods app thingie to try to get ideas and came across this (not vegan) recipe that used pearl (aka Israeli) couscous. I thought to myself—Hmm, I think I’ve got a jar of that in the pantry somewhere and I haven’t had couscous in awhile. Not a huge fan of tiny couscous, but I love this bigger pearl couscous because it tastes more like pasta. Which I guess it kinda is. Wait, what is couscous??? Oh, ok.  It is basically tiny pasta balls. Cool. Thanks Wikipedia.

Couscous seemed simple enough. I decided to just cook up the couscous and mix it with whatever veggies we had and some olive oil, salt and pepper. When I took stock of our produce situation I realized we had peaches that needed to be eaten along with a bag of king trumpet shrooms. Ok, if I was gonna have the king trumpets they had to be grilled like last time because they were delicious that way. And since I had the grill pan out, I decided I might as well grill the peaches too. Then I realized I had way more peaches than I needed to grill so it only made sense to use the extra peaches to make sauce to go over everything.

And that’s the story of how a  “well ya gotta eat” meal turned into a “blog about it” kind of meal.

I loved this salad because it wasn’t really a salad. It struck a nice balance between crisp freshness and grilled savory-ness all enveloped in summer sweetness  thanks to those Georgia peaches!

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Pearl Couscous Salad with Grilled Peaches


  • 1 1/3 cup pearl couscous
  • 1 3/4 cup veggie stock
  • 1 chopped cucumber
  • 2 whole peaches for the sauce + 4 sliced peaches for grilling
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • olive oil (amount varies)
  • maple syrup (amount varies)
  • salt and pepper (amount varies)
  • 16 oz bag of king trumpet mushrooms sliced to “scallop” sizes
  • 2-3 stalks of chopped green onion

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  1. Toast the dry couscous with 1 tbs of olive oil in a small pot on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently. Parts of the couscous should get golden in color.
  2. Add in the veggie stock, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes until the broth is absorbed and couscous is tender.
  3. Throw the cooked couscous in a large bowl with the cucumber and toss it with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  4. For the sauce, throw the garlic cloves and the 2 whole peaches (pits removed) into a blender along with a small drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Blend. Taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Blend again. Continue blending in small amounts of olive oil, maple syrup, salt and/or pepper until you get desired consistency and balance between savory and sweet. Set aside.
  5. Grill the 4 sliced peaches along with the king trumpet mushrooms.
  6. Put everything together by layering the grilled peaches and mushrooms on the couscous salad and pouring the peach sauce on top. Top with the green onions for presentation and taste!

Hey guacamole, you’ve got some quinoa on you.

I had leftover guacamole from my nacho-tempeh-bacon-guac sandwiches and I knew if I didn’t eat it all quickly, it would start turning blackish in color despite my attempts to keep it from air.

Guacamole that has turned darker due to oxidation is not inedible but let’s face it, bright green guacamole is way more appetizing. So why not disguise it?

I got this idea from Epicurean Vegan who mixed mashed avocados with rice and beans.  I didn’t have rice so instead I mixed my leftover guacamole with a cooked combo of white and dark quinoa. Then I stirred in left over diced tomatoes with green chilis (from a can) and some salt and pepper to taste.

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Then, I topped it with some black beans, sour cream and green onions. Since the guacamole was already made and full of flavor, this dish could not have been simpler. This kept in the fridge for several days and the guacamole kept on looking awesomely appetizing due to its quinoa disguise!

IMG_4974 _SnapseedPS. Portland, I’ll see you in a few days for VVC!

Sweet Potato Salad with Tangy Ancho Chili Sauce (Virtual Vegan Potluck)

Hey vegan potluckers! We are thrilled to be participating in the third virtual vegan potluck!

One of my favorite dishes is the classic potato salad. But Neal won’t go near it because most versions have vegan mayo in them and he detests mayo. Even if the potato salad is mayo-less, he won’t go near it because he associates it with mayo. Challenge accepted! IMG_5164 _Snapseed

This potato salad is a twist on the classic version. Instead of russet and/or red potatoes, I used sweet potatoes.
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And instead of the classic mayo, onions and pickle relish mixture, I used Mexican inspired ingredients like dried Ancho chili, cilantro, lime juice, harissa (technically, this ingredient is Moroccan)IMG_5127 _Snapseed

and black beans.IMG_5161 _Snapseed

The tangy sauce is cashew based and comes out nice and creamy but not in a mayo kind of way. IMG_5156 _Snapseed

Sweet Potato Salad with Tangy Ancho Chili Sauce

Ingredients (approximates)

  • 4-5 medium to large peeled and cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tbs chopped dried ancho chili
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp harissa
  • 2 1/2 tbs lime juice (+ a couple of splashes at end)
  • 3/8 cup of water
  • 14.5 oz can of rinsed and drained black beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Boil sweet potatoes until tender (about 5-7 minutes in boiling water). You want them tender but not too tender that they turn to mush. Drain and let cool.
  2. In a small blender or food processor (I used the small cup with my magic bullet), pulse the garlic, salt and ancho chili.
  3. Add the raw cashews and blend until it’s powdery/pastey.
  4. Add the olive oil, harissa, lime juice and water and blend until smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, add the sweet potatoes, black beans, cilantro and all the sauce. Gently fold ingredients until the sauce is incorporated.
  6. At this point, I tasted it and ended up mixing in a few more splashes of lime juice (to up the tang factor) as well as some salt, pepper and more harissa.

This salad is great warm or cold, by itself or inside a tortilla! If you want it more spicy, add more ancho chili. It is super tasty and best of all, it passes the Neal test. Finally. A potato salad that he will eat!

IMG_5193 _SnapseedStill hungry? There are more good vegan eats in the Virtual Vegan Potluck. Click the button below to see the dish before mine by Farmer’s Market Vegan.


Click this button to see the dish after mine by The Vegan Gypsy.


Or if you’re just joining in, click below to start from the beginning with our gracious host, Vegan Bloggers Unite.


Happy virtual eating!

Salt ‘n’ peppa’s here!

Sometimes, fruits and vegetables just need a little salt and pepper to bring out their natural goodness.  For this “dish”, I mixed up a bunch of halved grape tomatoes with diced avocados and then sprinkled it with some flavored salt and pepper.

The flavored salt I used (a gift from Neal’s sis) is a mix of salt, parsley, rosemary, sage, garlic, thyme and Arbol chili. Flavored salt isn’t the only way to give this simple salad pizzazz.  Jennie at She’s Vegging Out mixes in olive oil, lemon juice and cilantro.

Either way, it doesn’t take much to make these fruits and veggies sexy-good! Aww yeah…”p-push it real good!”  (if you’re a child of the 80’s, you know what I’m talkin’ about!).
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Teleportation Salad

Tropical Vacation Withdrawal

 My first mini-comic! Pencils by me. Inking by N.

This is a dish I threw together in an attempt to take me back to my tropical vacation in the Keys…at least in my mouth.

I cooked 1 cup of quinoa (1/2 white, 1/2 red) and let it cool. Then I threw in some chunks of papaya, mango, avocado and some leftover “ham”, and a handful of chopped cilantro. In a separate bowl I whisked together the dressing: macadamia oil infused with chili, key-lime juice, salt and pepper (I can’t remember the measurements because I just poured and pinched and dashed without really thinking).

Then I mixed the dressing with the quinoa and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour before we ate it. To fully recreate the experience, I thought about locating a sandbox and eating this in my swimsuit like a crazy lady. But I didn’t. Never say never though is my motto!

Jackfruit meets BBQ, deliciousness ensues

Inspired by the use of jackfruit over at the taste space and by the Midwest vaygun, I decided to try out this vegan delicacy. This is our simple interpretation of the BBQ pulled pork wraps from the taste space.

1. I drained 2 cans (20 oz each) of jackfruit and cut off the hard center parts while keeping the shreddy ends. Be sure to get unripe jackfruit in brine. After I cut out the hard center pieces, this is what it looked like.

 2.  N simmered the jackfruit in a pan full of store-bought BBQ sauce until the jackfruit didn’t have any jackfruity taste anymore (~20 minutes). Eat a raw jackfruit from the can before dousing with BBQ sauce to determine what a “jackfruity taste” is. The jackfruit should also be shredded up at this point.

3. Then, N smushed it all out on a baking pan and baked it at 400 degrees until it got a little crispy and dried out.

4. This was a tag-team meal, so while N took care of the jackfruit business, I got down with a side dish.

I dumped a can of drained black soy beans, a drained can of corn, some chopped tomatoes (about two), a handful of chopped cilantro, 1 chopped mango, 1/2 diced red onion, a drizzle or two of olive oil, a teaspoon or two each of chili powder, cumin and garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste and some generous splashes of lime juice and then mixed it all up.

I didn’t measure anything b/c this was a throw together meal, but it turns out cookingwithlightbulbs made something similar, so check out that blog if you want more precision.

5. We then got out our vegan hoagies and toasted them in the still warm oven for a bit.

6. Then we stuffed our faces with these. Get in mah belly!!

Quick, easy and oh so finger-licking good…just the way I like it. My meals. I’m talking about my meals.

Beef chili mac…it’s NOT what’s for dinner

As duly noted by Vegansaurus, Rachael Ray’s recipes are really easy to veganize. Yes, the woman is the antithesis of vegan, but the following dish is based on her recipe  and I have to give the lady credit lest I get sued. Maybe she’ll read my blog and realize she should join the dark enlightened side. In any case, here is my tweaked veganized version:

I used quinoa noodles for the first time, which I found out about from Vegan Goddess.

I also busted out the ol’ indoor grill pan to grill corn on the cob. Things got real smoky up in here!

While the pasta and corn were cooking I whisked up the sauce in a big bowl. Note, these are approximations. Please, always taste it with your mouth to ensure maximum flavor explosion :

1-2 tbsp of olive oil
1-2 tbsp of lime juice
1-2 tsp of cumin
1 tbsp of chili powder
1 dash of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste

After the pasta was done, I threw it in the bowl that had the sauce and then added in:

freshly chopped cilantro (about a handful)
thinly sliced red onions (1/2 of a large one)
1/2 can of kidney beans
1/2 can of black beans
shavings from the grilled corn on the cob
 and chopped fresh tomatoes (about 2-3)

I mixed it all up and there you have it…VEGAN chili mac salad without the dead cow. I ate mine with fresh avocado and tofutti sour cream. My verdict on the quinoa noodles…they are delicious and taste different (in the best possible way) from regular noods.

It was quick, it was easy and it was tasty. What more could I ask for? Oh yeah. Dear Rachael Ray, will you please consider going vegan for the animals, your health and the planet?

Visit Home

I just got back from a visit home with the family in NC. Vegan eats were limited, so I mostly made my own food (mostly simple things like spaghetti and cold salads).

The couple of times we ate out I had vegan sushi,

and salad from Souper Salad. I have never gone to a Souper Salad since becoming vegan, but their vegan items are clearly marked which was nice. This pic shows my second plate from there (it’s buffet style) and includes some of their antipasto cold salads like marinated mushrooms, vegan coleslaw with raisins, a cucumber-tomato salad, and vegan cornbread! I would consider going there again b/c they had a nice variety of salad goods for a good price for all you can eat. I need to find out which dressings are vegan though, b/c those were not clearly marked. I ended up using oil and vinegar on my first plate of salad. They also have a lot of non-vegan stuff too, unfortunately. It was depressing to see people eating there have these beautiful plates of vegetables and greens only to smother the whole thing in buttermilk dressing and ham pieces. ::sigh::

Also, a big reason for this trip was my new nephew! The blanket he is in was my first biggish vegan knitting project.