Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Aunt Lauren's Fruit & Nut Quinoa

The basis for this recipe came from my Aunt Lauren, an inspiring, hilarious woman and fabulous cook, whom I very much admire. Her "non-recipe," as she called it, requires cooked quinoa, celery, dried apricots, a bit of sliced green onion all dressed with a vinaigrette of fresh lemon juice, a touch of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, topped with a sprinkling of slivered almonds. Sounds good, right? I thought so too, especially after reading the final step: "Fight off the interlopers who want to eat your share!"

I've never tasted Lauren's original version, so this all a bit fly-by-night, but that's kind of my MO. So here it is:

2 cups cooked quinoa 
2 ribs celery, finely chopped to minced
about 10 dried apricots, finely chopped
2 tsp green onion, thinly sliced
slivered almonds, about 1/2 cup

about 2 tbsp olive oil
the juice of 1 lemon, about 3 tbsp
salt and pepper

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper. Gradually add more olive oil, to taste, to mitigate tartness.
2. In a large bowl, stir together quinoa, celery, apricots and green onion.
3. Add about half of the dressing, and toss. Gradually add dressing until it is dressed to your liking. (I had just a little left over, which would have been too much).

This was definitely tasty, and an incredibly easy, light summer dinner. It would be very easy to throw together if you had some cooked quinoa in the fridge, but I did not and it still took less than 30 minutes. The fresh, slightly tart dressing is just the thing to brighten up the quinoa and bring out the sweetness of the apricots. I think this would also be delicious with one of my personal faves, dried apples.

You should probably prepare for some interlopers.

Quote of the Day: Eating is really one of your indoor sports. You play three times a day, and it's well worth while to make the game as pleasant as possible. ~ Dorothy Draper

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vegan Black Bean Burgers on Pretzel Rolls & A Short Rant about Sandra Lee

Some of you may be familiar with the (perhaps lovably) inane television food personality Sandra Lee. Notwithstanding her extremely questionable taste in, well, everything and her complete failure to comprehend the term "home-made," I have to credit her for the base recipe for these yummy, healthy black bean burgers. (I know, this closely parallels a previous rant I posted about Rachael Ray, but this one is way better because of all the evidence. And also funnier. See links).

I can't say they're 100% better than the quinoa burgers I attempted recently, since these are still fairly soft, and a bit squishy. As a pick-it-up-and-put-it-in-your-face burger, they would be a bit disappointing, but this recipe makes a lovely flavorful knife-and-fork-style burger. I also think the flavor is much more appealing than the quinoa burgers were.
My version of the black bean burgers uses whole wheat bread crumbs, plenty of cilantro and fresh, yummy bakery rolls instead of burger buns. I've basically halved Sandra's recipe, except for the egg. I skipped the egg, since I realized rather late in the game that we were out. (I know, what kind of weirdo had ground flax on hand, but not eggs? Apparently, this kind.) I learned, though, that you can use 1 tbsp of ground flax seed simmered in 3 tbsp of water as an egg substitute. Brilliant!

1 can black beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained, divided into 2 equal portions
1/4 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped 

1 tbsp ground flax simmered in 3 tbsp water, or 1 egg

1. Place garlic and onion in food processor, and blend until finely chopped.
2. Add cilantro, onion, pepper flakes, egg or egg replacement, and about half of the beans, and blend.
3. Dump mixture into a large bowl. Add the rest of the beans and the bread crumbs, and mix thoroughly. Form into two patties.
4. Cook burgers on oiled grill pan or George Foreman Grill until slightly charred outside and heated throughout. 

Serve on a lightly toasted bun with your favorite burger toppings. I recommend chipotle mayonnaise.  True, it is another step to mix the whole beans in separately, but I think it does great things for the texture.
I served these on something new to me, pretzel bread rolls. AMAZING. How did I not know that these existed? They were deliciously moist and, well, pretzeley. I whipped up a chipotle mayonnaise (one chipotle pepper canned in adobo sauce sent for a spin with some mayo) which went fabulously with the burgers. We had ours with a little baby spinach on top, and a tomato-cucumber salad on the size.

If you're looking for a meaty texture, these are not the thing. Or do us both a favor and improve my recipe! As long as you don't mind using a fork, these are fabulous.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hot-Sweet Shrimp Skewers and Minted White Bean Salad

This meal, like many that happen in my apartment, began with a recipe from And, like almost all of those meals, I edited a few things.
 The bean salad recipe calls for fresh sage and oregano, which besides being difficult to locate (understatement) in our local grocery store, I didn't imagine I would have much later use for. So I made the bean salad with some fresh chopped mint leaves, left out the tomato, and added a chopped radish instead. You could use chickpeas instead of the cannellini beans, or a mix of the two. This really couldn't be easier. My recipe serves two:

1 can cannellini beans, or about 1 1/2 cups cooked beans
1 small handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 large rib of celery, finely chopped
1 radish, finely chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
Olive oil
White wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

1. Mix everything in a large bowl and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or as long as overnight.

For the shrimp (I cooked about 25, 5-per skewer), I made a sweet-spicy sauce. These measurements are all approximate, so definitely tweak it as you see fit.

1 tsp dried cilantro
2 tsp sesame ginger salad dressing
1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice
Sriracha, to taste - I used about 1/2 tsp
1 tsp honey

25 shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Combine all, and mix with shrimp. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes.
2. Skewer shrimp and grill until cooked through.
 I used my George Foreman Grill, which was a little awkward with the length of the skewers, but it all worked out fine. I did have to rearrange the skewers to make sure they were cooking evenly, but the whole grilling process only took about 6 minutes.

I served the bean salad and shrimp with some warm bulgur wheat. The shrimp came out nicely spicy-sweet, the bean salad was light and summery, and might even be better the day after. There were no leftovers tonight, so I can't say for sure!

Quote of the Day: Weather means more when you have a garden. There's nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans. ~ Marcelene Cox

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cold Avocado Soup & Grilled Cumin Chicken with Grape Tomato Salad

Some of you may recall a recipe from the infancy of this blog that involved a rather fail-tastic creamy avocado salad dressing. Since the inspiration for that actually came from an avocado soup recipe I had seen about a week before, I am happy to say that I finally got around to making the chilled avocado soup that I have been longing for since then. And it's good. Really good.
I didn't change this recipe much at all, except making the executive decision that 1 1/2 avocados were needed, owing to their substandard size. I also used a small bit of onion instead of the shallot because somehow, between my grocery store and my home, I lost the darn thing. From

1 medium avocado, peeled and pitted
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1/2 seedless cucumber, chopped
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek-style)
2 Tablespoons fresh mint, plus 1 sprig
4 teaspoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt - I used 1
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 radish, chopped
1 cup cold water

1. Place cucumber, avocado, shallot, yogurt, 2 tablespoons mint, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin and cold water in a food processor and process until smooth.
2. Chill for at least one hour before serving. Serve garnished with radish and remaining mint leaves.
My mother recently treated me to some lovely new place mats under the promise that they would soon appear on this blog. I'm sorry, Mom - Next time! <3
 I was surprised at how pronounced the cumin was, but it was certainly not overbearing. You could cut it down a bit if you want to but I think it adds a lot to the soup. We had a soup course (fancy, right?) with some French bread followed by the chicken with a bit of tomato salad. This is one of my summer favorites: Just some grape tomatoes, cut in half, with some sliced green onion, olive oil, salt and pepper and a little white wine vinegar. So simple, summery, and yummy - with room temperature tomatoes, of course.
 The chicken portion of this recipe is lifted from this recipe, which I originally served with grilled nectarine, blackberry-raspberry salsa and grilled polenta. What is it about the combination of cumin and grill-marks? Yum.

Quote of the Day: The avocado is a food without rival among the fruit, the veritable fruit of paradise. ~ David Fairchild

Also, I just learned that avocado pits, when thoroughly cleaned and dried, make excellent cat toys because of the irregular rolling motion caused by their lopsided shape. The more you know.

Edit: Despite the chicken, I've marked this as vegetarian due to the soup recipe.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

How to Accidentally Make About 50 Chicken Potstickers

The first step - and this is very important - is to pay absolutely no attention to any recipe on the subject. The second step is to have no idea the tiny amount of filling that actually fits into a round wonton wrapper. The third step is to start cooking and the fourth step involves a great deal of "I can't believe we ate that many." (We didn't eat all of them, for the record.)

In reality, I basically followed this recipe from This is a great way to use up leftover chicken, pork or beef, and its very likely that all you'll have to buy is the wrappers! You may even make a zillion on purpose so you can freeze some. I made a pan-full, and when we were done cooked up the stragglers for our lunches tomorrow. This made a lot more than I was expecting because I did not realize how little stuffing fits in each wrapper, and just how much filling I was making. I guess that's why the wrappers come in packages of 100.

Because we live in a grocery store dead-zone where apparently ground chicken isn't something that people want, I used just under a pound of chicken tenders, which I shredded. The slight chunkyness of the pieces made me skeptical that the meat could really cook through with this method, so I sauteed the chicken pieces in a sesame teriyaki sauce before assembling, and cut down the soy sauce by half. I also added a small carrot and a rib of celery, both finely chopped, and about a teaspoon of lime juice to the filling mixture. I was able to find round wraps (mine were made by NaSoya brand) so I used those instead of egg roll wraps. Egg roll wraps would make cute little packets, if you put all the the filling in the center and gathered the wrapper above it with the corners sticking up. But they would also be a fair bit bigger.

These aren't really all that different from the baked egg roll recipe I posted about in early May, at least in composition and procedure. Just don't go thinking that because you successfully rolled an egg roll that wrapping up a potsticker will be easy peasy. At least, it wasn't for me, and I ended up with a few sadly torn ones. Such is life. I'm sure that every person who has ever rolled an egg roll or wrapped a potsticker will tell you that their way is the right way, so I trust you will develop your own system. Just be gentle and take the time to figure out just how much filling your wraps can hold.

But now to the important part: These were yummy. I think the lime juice in the mixture made a big impact, and in the future I think I could use even more veggies - possibly even double, to about 2 ribs of celery, 2 carrots, and 4 green onions. Much like the egg rolls, these are much easier than they might seem, and will be ready in about the same amount of time it takes to get to the takeout place and back.

Quote of the Day: I prefer the Chinese method of eating....You can do anything at the table except arm wrestle. ~ Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I've seen recipes like this one floating around out there on the internets, so I figured I could kind of fake it. This approach worked much better than with last night's quinoa burgers.

That said, I'm not sure just how Thai these really are. For me, they are a fresh twist on one of my all-time favorite foods, the taco. Plus, as you might have noticed, cilantro, lime, and Sriracha are some of my favorite flavors, and I welcome any opportunity to use them.

This recipe happens to be very low-carb, which may be appealing to you, and if you pay attention to what soy sauce you are using, it is also gluten-free. Sriracha is apparently gluten free, and while many brands make gluten-free varieties of soy sauce, every one produced by La Choy brand is gluten free. Still, if this is a concern, read your labels to be sure.

I served this with hot brown rice, which you will cook according to package directions. You could also use quinoa or something similar.

4 whole leaves of Romaine, Boston, or Butter lettuce, washed
1/3 - 1/2 lb ground turkey
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 peanuts, chopped
1 handful fresh cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
2 green onion, thinly sliced, or about 1 tbsp. chopped chives
1/4 - 1/2 tsp sriracha, plus more for serving
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp soy sauce
Canola oil

1. In a medium to large frying pan, saute pan or wok, drizzle a bit of canola oil. Over medium heat, brown your turkey, breaking apart with a spatula.
2. Meanwhile, you can arrange your topping ingredients - your cilantro, chives, peanuts, and red onion - in small bowls for serving, if you wish. This is also a good time to wash your lettuce leaves. (We used two Romaine leaves each.)
3. In a small bowl or glass (okay, I used a jar) combine your lime juice, garlic, and soy sauce.
4. When turkey is cooked turn off the heat and drain the meat of excess oil, except for about 2 teaspoons. Pour in your lime juice mixture, add the carrot and bell pepper, and mix to combine before transferring to a serving platter.

This would be a fun dish to serve at a party with friends, or with family, if your family is sort of fun and not afraid of mess and/or Asian food. I think you could also use fish sauce, or basically any other Asian sauce in your lime juice mixture. A little sesame oil would also be good. (Since I don't know exactly what "Thai" is, I can't act like I won't use potentially foreign ingredients in these wraps in the future.)

 Basically, you should make these. They're fresh, yummy, easy to make and fun to assemble. Also, you could very easily pack this as a take-along lunch: just keep your turkey mixture separate from your lettuce, and pack a little container or baggie of mixed toppings, and as long as you're not trying to eat it in the car or something crazy, you're good to go. You might skip the rice unless you are able to heat it up come lunchtime, but I think the turkey would be just as good cold. Tah-dah!

Quote of the Day: Lettuce is like conversation; it must be fresh and crisp, so sparkling that you scarcely notice the bitter in it. ~ Charles Dudley Warner 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Quinoa Garden Burgers

Despite our omnivorousness, Brady and I are always interested in vegetarian (and sometimes even vegan) food options. Even if you love chicken and beef, a little variety is nice, right? For us, eating meat only 3-4 days per week is part of our small-time effort to be more Earthdwellers. So when we started trying meat-free burgers made with veggie protein and the like, I started to think, why can't I make these? I can make these, right? I'm making these.

Well, I was half right. I made them. They were tasty, but they were not what I would call a "burger." More like quinoa falafel. They were fragile, and too soft to be eaten in a bun. I think I had all the right ingredients happening, but perhaps in the wrong ratios. Also, the addition of black or pinto beans would do a great deal to improve their solidity. I was going for the "vegan" thing with these, so I used ground flax instead of egg as a binding ingredient. With about 1/2 cup of beans and an egg or two, these would be a much more solid patty. Hindsight is 20-20.

I used quinoa as a base because of its protein, fiber, and  hearty texture. I happened to have a little pearled barley hanging around from some more wintry recipes, which I decided to add, but I think you could use all quinoa, increase the barley ratio, or use a mixture of quinoa and brown rice.

1 cup cooked quinoa 
3 1/2 tablespoons ground flax
1/2 onion 
2 cloves garlic, smashed and coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 - 1 chipotle chili canned in adobo sauce (optional)
4 oz fresh, clean mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup - 3/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
small handful cilantro, torn
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. In a food processor, combine the garlic, salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, the onion, cayenne, ground flax, cilantro, and chipotle chili if you're using one. Combine well.
2. Add bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. Process until veggies are chopped - not liquefied.
3. Dump the contents of the food processor out into a large bowl, and mix in the quinoa. Sprinkle in breadcrumbs until the mixture is just solid enough to form into patties. Mix well, and form into patties.
4. Cook garden burger patties in a grill pan for 8-10 minutes each side over medium heat, or cook them in a George Foreman Grill for about 8-10 minutes total. Serve on a bun or in a pita with veggies or a yogurt sauce.

I served these on burger buns with a super simple tzatziki sauce and steamed green beans on the side. Besides eggs lurking in the buns, and the tzatziki (which is easily swapped out for lettuce and tomato, or an animal-free topping like salsa) this is a vegan meal.

In the end, these weren't what I was going for, but if you made them as mini-patties and served them in a pita, they would be just as delightfully delicious as the dish I had imagined.

Quote of the Day: CBS has no problem with airing commercial after commercial advocating the consumption of fried chicken, pork sausage and fast-food burgers, even though eating these products are making Americans fat, sick and boring in bed. ~ Lisa Lange

NOTE: I have to say, since Lisa Lange is a well-known figure and the VP of PETA, I do not support or advocate for PETA in any way. I believe there is a relatively humane and compassionate way to enjoy reasonable amounts of meat in our diets, and I am a really big fan of animals in general. This quote is funny and poignant, but I do not support the guilt, exaggeration, and fear-mongering perpetrated by PETA. Of course, we all have our own feelings on the topic and must do our own research and make the decisions that are best for us and our families.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Blog is Back in Town

Hi everybody! I must apologize for taking a little time off from GK without giving the heads up. Not that I think any of you suffered too much for it. But still, I feel a bit guilty, so I wanted to let you all know what's coming up in the next week or so.

Brady and I had a lovely (but much too short) visit with my family on Cape Cod this week after my sister's graduation from Brooklyn Law School. It was strangely cold and dreary here for the season, and we found ourselves more than once engaging in "vacation-minded" eating. Specifically, bacon three times in as many days. Brunch will one day be my undoing. But anyway, since we are back to "real life" now, I am grateful to this blog and to its readers for some accountability in the healthy-cooking-and-eating department.

Here are some ideas for upcoming posts:
Garden burgers made with quinoa and veggies
Baked Chicken Wontons with Dipping Sauce
Thai Turkey Lettuce Wraps

More soon! xo

Friday, June 3, 2011

Grilled Chicken & Polenta with Nectarine-Blackberry Salsa

"Grilled," in my case, means grilled in a grill pan on my stove, but if you're the outdoor-grilling kind, this would be equally tasty cooked al fresco.

I got this recipe from, and except for cutting the whole thing in half, I really didn't change it. I just added a little green onion and upped the fruit ratio from two nectarines for four servings to two for two, and added about 6 or 8 raspberries, since they are one of my all-time favorite foods, and also a berry, so why not. I don't know what "coarsely chopped" means when it comes to berries, so I just sliced them in half vertically, and that worked out just dandy.
I found the instructions from the original recipe to be written in kind of a confusing way, so here's my redo:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 nectarines, halved and pitted
1/2 tube of plain prepared polenta
1/3 pint of blackberries, and a palm-full of raspberries
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
about 1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
Hot sauce, to taste (I used 1/2 tsp Sriracha)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

1. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, cumin, and a bit of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the mixture on polenta, and both sides of the chicken. Then cut the polenta into discs, about 1/2 inch thick, and rub a little olive oil on the cut side of the nectarines.
2. Place the chicken, polenta slices and nectarines on the grill, or in your grill pan. [If you are using a real-life grill, you should oil the grill rack before doing this.] Grill the polenta until hot and slightly charred, 3-4 minutes, then transfer it to a plate and tent it with tin foil to keep polenta warm. Grill the nectarines, turning occasionally, until tender, 6-8 minutes total. Grill the chicken until cooked and no longer pink inside, 6-8 minutes per side. Transfer chicken and nectarines to a cutting board. Coarsely chop the nectarines. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
3. While the chicken rests, combine the lime juice, hot sauce, and a bit of salt in a large or medium bowl. Then add the chopped nectarines, blackberries, cilantro, and green onion. Gently combine.
4. Serve chicken and polenta on a platter with salsa over the top, or individually.

I have to be honest about a couple of things. For one, my nectarines were tiny jerks. They were definitely ripe. They were slightly soft to the squeeze, fragrant, colorful... ripe. But when it came to giving up those pits, they were totally unwilling. So I ended up quartering my nectarines, in favor of mushing them into a pulp trying to remove the pits. I can't imagine that this made much of a difference to the dish, but still. Full disclosure. Also, because I know my taste, I used more cilantro - maybe 1 3/4 tbs instead of 1. I served this dish with just a little bit of green salad, but with all the fruit, you almost don't really need it.
This fruit salsa was super, super delicious. The combination of sweet and just the tiniest bit spicy is a fantastic combination. I would make this again with a variety of other main dishes. Also, grilling nectarines is a brilliant idea! (It wasn't my idea, so I can say that). Sometime soon I will serve warm grilled nectarines with whipped cream. And someday I will try the salsa sans the Sriracha and onion over waffles for a weekend breakfast. (Wow, that's a really exciting idea...)

I know that a grill pan isn't the same as the real deal, but if you don't have access to a grill, you should really consider getting one of these pans. You can get those satisfying grill marks, create crispy skin on your chicken and blacken veggie kabobs with the best of them. For this dish, the pan made a huge difference. Happy grilling!

Quote of the Day: Grilling is like sunbathing. Everyone knows it is bad for you but no one ever stops doing it. ~ Laurie Colwin, 'Home Cooking' (1988)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Black Bean Bowls with Brown Rice, Sweet Corn Salsa & Spicy Chipotle Dressing

If I had to choose a single favorite "fast food," it wouldn't be chicken nuggets, burgers, or even fresh, hot french fries. It would be just about anything from Chipotle. My main faves are the salad (usually with chicken) and burrito bowls, but the dressing is the thing I really crave. So tonight I thought I would try making a burrito bowl with black beans, a sweet corn and cherry-tomato salsa, and a chipotle dressing experiment all over brown rice.

 Altogether, you will need:
1 (dry) cup brown rice
1 can black or pinto beans, or about 3/4 cup dry, soaked overnight and cooked
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup fresh tomato, chopped and seeded
1 handful of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (in the ethnic or Mexican food aisle)
1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, separated 
1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped 
1 teaspoon cumin
1 packet (about 1 teaspoon) of Truvia, Splenda, or white sugar (or an estimated 2 tsp brown sugar)
White, apple cider, red or rice wine vinegar
White and pale green part of 1 green onion, sliced
1 or 2 avocados for slicing, or guacamole
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Beans & Rice
The black beans are super simple. I soaked some dry beans in the fridge overnight, and crock-potted them all day long on low. If you use this method, be sure to allow enough room in the soaking container for the beans to expand up to 50%, and cover with about two inches of water. Be sure to rinse your beans after soaking, and replace the water before crocking, again making sure there is at least enough to cover the beans with an inch of water.  When they're done, drain and let cool, then combine with about half of your chopped cilantro. I'll be honest, though: I'm just guessing at the "3/4 cup" business. I always make much more black beans than I think I will use in a particular recipe, because I love having some around for quick and easy salads with some chopped bell pepper, onion, cilantro and lemon juice, or some other concoction. This is a lunchtime life-saver.

If you're using canned beans, just rinse them super thoroughly before adding your cilantro and a little drizzle of olive oil. The rice, also, will be super easy: Just cook it according to package directions, adding a little salt and pepper. I like to serve everything on top of the rice, but you can combine the rice and beans if you prefer. I personally think that the rice should be warm, but you can serve the beans either warm or chilled. This might be dictated by your schedule, which probably means you're a busy person, in which case, look at you, hotshot! Good for you for cooking anyway.

Corn & Tomato Salsa
This is a fantastic way to use leftover corn-on-the-cob. Tomatoes have much, much more flavor at room temperature, so take them out an hour or so before making the salsa. For this recipe, you can use fresh or frozen corn, with any sort of fresh tomato that you have handy. If you choose frozen corn, add about a cup to boiling water and cook it for about two minutes. Drain and refrigerate for 10 minutes to a couple of hours before adding the tomatoes, depending on what fits best for your schedule. Combine the corn with a cup of chopped, seeded tomatoes, the green onion, a little salt and pepper, a small drizzle of olive oil and the teaspoon of lemon juice. Refrigerated, this salad-ish salsa will keep for a few days, but is definitely best when fresh.

Finally, the Dressing!
This is the fun part of this meal. I had never cooked anything with chipotle peppers, or adobo sauce before, but they are definitely the key to this recipe. I hear you can buy minced peppers in adobo. I used whole, but since I made this in a food processor, it didn't really matter. If you don't have a food processor or a blender, minced peppers are the way to go. Just whisk together a minced clove of garlic (instead of chopped), a couple tablespoons of olive oil, some salt and pepper, a couple teaspoons of vinegar, the powdered sweetener or sugar, cumin, and about a tablespoon of pepper-and-sauce mixture. You should finely chop the cilantro if you are using this method.

Some of you may be thinking, "Why would you put sugar in this dressing? Isn't it supposed to be spicy?", to which I would answer "Because I said so," and "Yes." Just kidding. I wouldn't say "because I said so." But yes, it is supposed to be hot. The sugar or sweetener enhances the flavor by slightly de-emphasizing the heat of the peppers, letting you focus more on the delicious flavorfulness of it. Isn't that handy?

I scooped up two whole peppers and the sauce mixture that came along with them. In a food processor, I blended the same ingredients as listed above. It was spicy. A bit TOO spicy. So I quartered a cherry tomato, added that, and blended a bit more, just to counteract the heat of it. (I'm sure everybody knows this by now, but if you eat something uncomfortably spicy, don't drink water! Drink milk, or eat a tomato or bit of bread to get rid of that burning feeling). This is a taste-as-you-go recipe, for sure. If you want more heat, add more pepper and sauce, or if it's much too hot, add more fresh tomato to mellow it out. It will be equally tasty either way. Similarly, if it seems too thick to you, add a bit more oil and vinegar. If you have a very basic vinaigrette around, you could also cut it with that, but I wouldn't want to introduce any new herbs to the equation.

I assembled this dish by spooning some cooked brown rice into a pasta bowl (or, paradoxically, "soup plates"), followed by the beans, then the corn salsa. I served the dressing on the side, on the off chance that it would pool menacingly with the brown rice, creating tiny whole-gran firebombs. I also served guac on the side, at which point I really wished I'd gotten tortilla chips. No matter! Chips or no, guac is a delicious addition. You could also serve this with some sliced avocado. Our grocery store had avocados in two states this week: Rock and Mush, so instead we picked up an all-natural packaged guacamole.
There is rice under there somewhere...
This is super delicious. Awesomely delicious. Deliciously awesome. I would never ask that obnoxiously ignorant question, "What DO vegans eat, anyway?!" because I have some idea. But more than that, I can tell you, this is what they/you ought to be eating. Along with everybody else. You could add some grilled chicken if you felt like it, but this is completely nutritious, satisfying, and hearty just the way it is. I hope you'll try it!