Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

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This summer I’ve been trying to cut back on my calories with lighter meals that are still filling. I’ve been trying to incorporate more seasonal produce into my diet as well. Although zucchini is typically available in the grocery store year round, zucchini season is still going strong. Zucchini is such a versatile vegetable – it’s great grilled, baked, sautéed, and also raw. I like to peel zucchini if I am eating it raw because it gets rid of the bitter aftertaste. I bought a vegetable spiralizer a few years ago and it’s one of the best tools to make a quick, healthy meal (click here for the one I use). Spiralized beets, sweet potatoes, carrots, and zucchini are amazing in salads. This salad is ready in minutes and requires no cooking. The peanut sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. I use the sauce as a dip for vegetable rolls, baked tofu, and also on cauliflower rice. It goes with pretty much everything. Homemade peanut sauce tastes so much better than store bought and is really easy to make. This one is tangy, spicy, nutty, and absolutely delicious!

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Homemade spicy peanut sauce

I recommend tossing the noodles with the sauce right before serving so that the noodles keep their shape. This recipe makes a great side dish but can be turned into a light main course by adding your favorite vegan protein such as tofu, tempeh, or edamame. The carrots and red bell peppers add crunch and color. I decided to add healthy micro greens to this recipe instead of a traditional Asian herb such as cilantro. Micro greens have a really high nutrient content vs. regular greens and taste really fresh. They also make any dish look stunning! I definitely recommend giving them a try! They can be used as a garnish for soups, Buddha bowls, avocado toast, or added to any sandwich or wrap for extra flavor and nutrients. Zucchini noodles are tasty and filling and can be used as a substitute for any type of pasta. If you make this recipe, let me know how it turns out by posting a picture on Instagram or Facebook and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Spicy Peanut Zucchini Noodle Salad

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • special equipment to make noodles: a table top vegetable spiralizer
  • 4 large zucchini, peeled
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup micro greens
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, crushed
  • For the spicy peanut sauce (makes about 1/2 cup):
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbs Tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbs agave syrup
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs rice vinegar
  • 1 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs water

Directions


To make the peanut sauce, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Next, using a table top vegetable spiralizer, make the zucchini and carrot noodles. In a large bowl, toss zucchini noodles, carrot noodles, and red bell pepper pieces with 1/4 cup of peanut sauce (add more to taste). Top with crushed peanuts and micro greens and serve immediately. Best if eaten within immediately.

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OXO Good Grips 3-Blade Tabletop Spiralizer with StrongHold Suction

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Elotes (Mexican Style Corn)

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This year, the Fourth of July was really memorable because my entire family was able to get together. We grilled at my sister’s house and I made vegan Elotes for the first time. It actually turned out really good! Elotes refers to Mexican style corn on the cob. You can find it all over Chicago sold by street vendors or food trucks. It’s really rich and full of flavor but the traditional version is not vegan. This vegan version of Elotes is a really easy recipe with few ingredients. If you’re trying to eat lighter you can skip the vegan butter and reduce the mayonnaise by half. You can find vegan mayonnaise and parmesan cheese in most grocery stores. The vegan parmesan from Go Veggie tastes delicious but has a strong smell that may not be appetizing to some. My nieces and nephews really enjoyed the vegan Elotes but my sister was not a fan of the vegan parmesan… I think nutritional yeast is a great substitute if you’re not a fan of vegan parmesan. Elotes are tangy, buttery, creamy and a little spicy. There’s nothing better than grilled corn in the summer! The cilantro really makes it taste really fresh and the cayenne adds a little kick. If you don’t have a grill you can boil the corn for about 10 minutes instead and still get great results. You can also take the corn off the cob once it’s cooked and mix in all of the ingredients if you prefer something that can be served out of a dish. It’s just as delicious that way and a lot less messy! If you make this recipe make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Elotes (Mexican Style Corn)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn, husks removed
  • 2 limes, cut in halves
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter (such as Earth Balance brand)
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise brand)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup grated vegan parmesan cheese (such as Go Veggie brand) or nutritional yeast
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

Grill corn for about 3-4 minutes per side – about 10-15 minutes total depending on grill temperature. Corn should be evenly golden brown. Squeeze lime juice on each ear of corn. Spread one tablespoon of butter on each ear of corn. Next, spread one tablespoon of mayonnaise on each ear of corn. In a small bowl, combine cilantro, vegan parmesan, cayenne pepper, cumin powder, garlic powder, and salt. Top each ear of corn with 1/4 of the parmesan mixture and serve while hot.

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Beet Hummus

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Spring weather is finally here! Warmer weather motivates me to make light and simple food. If you haven’t tried beet hummus yet, you are missing out! It can be used as a dip or a spread and pretty much goes with everything. The bright pink color is stunning and brightens up any meal. Beets can be messy to handle because the color will stain everything. I usually try to wear food safe gloves while handling them and try to make sure that I wipe off anything they come in contact with quickly. I find that boiling beets is an easy way to cook to them. Once they are cooked and cooled, the peels come off very easily – you don’t need a peeler. Cooked beets have a buttery, slightly sweet flavor. They are very low in calories and fat yet still very filling. They are high in fiber and also vitamin C. I added chickpeas to my recipe in order add some protein and extra fiber to this tasty dip. The tahini is the secret ingredient that brings an irresistible flavor and depth to this recipe. Beet hummus goes with fresh vegetables like carrots and cucumbers as well pita chips or pita bread. I like to spread it on my toast in the morning and also use it on sandwiches. Beet hummus is great as a healthy appetizer or snack. If you are short on time, you can use about 1.5 cups of pre-cooked beets instead of cooking them yourself. This recipe can also be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it. I love beet hummus and actually prefer it over regular hummus these days. As always, if you make this recipe let me know how it turns out by posting a picture on Instagram or Facebook and tagging @thefriendlyepicurean or pin this recipe on Pinterest.

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Beet Hummus

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 3 small beets
  • 1 (15oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbs tahini
  • 2 small cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt plus more to taste
  • 1 tbs chopped parsley (optional topping)
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds (optional topping)

Directions

Wash beets thoroughly and place in a medium sized saucepan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 45-50 minutes. Beets swill be fork tender when done. Submerge beets in cold water. Remove peels with your hands once beets are cool to touch. Cut beets into quarters and place in food processor along with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, paprika, and salt. Process in food processor until smooth. Add more salt to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with parsley and sesame seeds before serving. May store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Bang Bang Cauliflower

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Bang Bang cauliflower is one my favorite dishes. I would say it’s the Asian inspired version of Buffalo cauliflower. I first tried it at a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment and fell in love with the flavor of the sauce. The restaurant version is really tasty but deep fried. My version is a little healthier because it’s baked and uses panko breadcrumbs to add some crunch. Because this recipe is dairy free, there’s no egg involved. I used vegan butter instead of egg to make the breading stick. The butter allows some of the panko to stick but it’s still a light coating. Panko breadcrumbs are used in a lot of Asian dishes as breading. They are made differently vs. traditional breadcrumbs and are light, airy, and very crunchy. A little goes a long way! The sauce is really the star of this dish and somewhat addictive! It’s tangy, spicy, and creamy and pairs really well with the crispy, hot cauliflower. I love the added freshness and flavor of the green onions on top, but you can certainly serve this dish without them. The versatile sauce also goes well with other vegetables and can be used as a dip for almost anything including tofu, tempeh, or dumplings. It’s really easy to make and the fresh lime juice really kicks up the flavor. Sweet chili sauce is not hard to find in any grocery store and adds a little touch of sweetness to the sauce. Feel free to adjust the ingredient proportions of the sauce to your preference! You can add more Sriracha sauce to taste depending on how spicy you like your food. The soy sauce adds some salt to the sauce – feel free to add a little more of that to taste as well. Adding less vegan mayonnaise will thin out the sauce. This colorful and spicy dish is perfect as a vegan appetizer at your next dinner party. If you make Bang Bang Cauliflower make sure to take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and/or Facebook or pin this recipe on Pinterest!

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Bang Bang Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 10 cups of florets)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter, melted (such as Earth Balance brand) or canola oil
  • 1.5 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise brand)
  • 1 to 2 tbs Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbs sweet chili sauce
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 to 2 tbs fresh lime juice
  • canola oil spray
  • 1/4 tsp salt (add more to taste)
  • 3 tbs chopped green onions (optional topping)

Directions

Preheat oven to 420F. Spray two baking sheets with canola oil spray and set aside. Cut cauliflower into even and small sized florets. In a large bowl toss cauliflower with butter (or oil), making sure all florets are evenly coated so that the panko can stick to them. Place panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Roll florets in panko breadcrumbs and place on baking sheets, making sure cauliflower pieces are not touching. Spray cauliflower with canola oil spray. Bake cauliflower for 20 minutes, then flip cauliflower pieces carefully with tongs or a spatula, and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Cauliflower and panko coating will appear golden brown when done. After baking, sprinkle cauliflower with salt and add more to taste. While cauliflower is baking, prepare the sauce. Whisk together mayonnaise, Sriracha (add more or less depending on desired spice level), sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice until smooth. Place cauliflower in a large serving bowl/platter and top with sauce and chopped green onions. Serve while hot. Consume within 1 day of preparing (panko will lose its crunch). Extra sauce may be stored in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

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Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach and artichoke dip is one of those classic appetizers that never gets boring to me. I crave it on cold wintery nights. It’s the quintessential dinner party appetizer because it’s easy to make and is a real crowd pleaser. It’s also kid friendly. I prefer it with some salty, crispy tortilla chips but it goes so well with a fresh baguette. You really can’t go wrong with this creamy, flavorful, and rich recipe. The decadent texture comes from the combination of vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream, and vegan mayonnaise. The nutritional yeast and lemon give it a cheesy and tangy flavor that’s irresistible.

I prefer it hot but it can also be served cold. This recipe can be made ahead and heated up on the stove top or oven before serving. It’s a great vegan appetizer for game night, book club, or a holiday party. It’s addictive…I really couldn’t stop eating it after I made it! I prefer to use fresh baby spinach and canned artichokes instead of their frozen counterparts but frozen would also work. I like to add a spicy kick with crushed red pepper. The shallot adds a lot of flavor but you can make this dish without it and it will still be very tasty. There’s no need to bake it, but if you prefer a golden brown crust, sprinkle some extra nutritional yeast on top and bake at 350F for about 15 minutes. The leftover dip is delicious on a bagel, veggie burger, or even with pasta. I could eat this scrumptious dip every day! If you make Vegan Spinach and Artichoke Dip make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on Instagram and Facebook or pin the recipe on Pinterest!

Vegan Spinach Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 12 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 1, 14oz can of artichoke hearts
  • 1, 8oz package of vegan cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup vegan sour cream
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tbs)

Directions

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Add shallot and cook for about 6-7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Next, artichokes and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add chopped spinach 1 cup at a time and cook until wilted. Add salt, crushed red pepper, black pepper and stir to combine. Lower heat and add cream cheese and stir until melted. Next, add sour cream, mayonnaise, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice and stir to combine well. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with French bread, tortilla chips, or crackers. May store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

This recipe was inspired by the New York Times recipe by Alison Roman: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018248-spinach-artichoke-dip

Fig and Arugula Flatbread

It’s almost the end of fig season. I wasn’t expecting it to last this long but I’m not complaining! I saw some at the store and had to get them. Figs have two seasons – early summer and then fall. There are several varieties but the three most common varieties that I find at the grocery store are mission (black), adriatic (green), and turkey (brown). They have slightly different textures inside. They are sweet, chewy, and have tiny little edible seeds in the center. Figs are highly perishable and prone to injury! Make sure you take time to pick the best ones at the store. I always look at them carefully to see if they are over-ripe, sticky, or are damaged. You can remove the stem, wash them thoroughly, and eat them raw for a delicious snack. Figs go really well in savory and sweet dishes. They are wonderful in salads as well. Their unique flavor is great in breakfast items like yogurt, oatmeal, or chia seed pudding.

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Flatbread is easy to make and so versatile. You can make the dough for this flatbread pretty quickly because it doesn’t require yeast. I used purple cauliflower because it has a wonderful color but white cauliflower will do just as well. The flavors in this flatbread are just scrumptious! The garlicky, lemony cashew cream sauce, spicy arugula, and sweet, chewy figs are a really tasty combination. This recipe makes a beautiful and delicious appetizer. You can easily double the recipe or make two if you are having a dinner party. You can also use this crust and sauce with pears and walnuts as a topping instead of figs. The topping combinations for this crust and sauce are endless. This go-to vegan crust recipe can be used to make any type of flat bread. It’s so easy!

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This recipe does require you to soak cashews overnight or for at least 6 hours. If you don’t soak your cashews long enough, your sauce will end up tasting gritty. You will also need a high-powered blender or food processor to blend the cashews into a creamy sauce and also to make “rice” the cauliflower. Make sure to knead the dough well with your hands to make sure all of the ingredients are well combined. Use a rolling pin to create an oblong or circular shape for your crust. It’s easier to transfer the crust if you roll it out on a piece of parchment. Sprinkling some flour underneath will help keep it from sticking. I used a fork to pierce the dough so that it didn’t warp or bubble up in the oven. You will most likely have some leftover cashew cream sauce which is delicious on top of pasta or roasted vegetables. Make sure you take a picture and tag @thefriendlyepicurean on social media if you make this recipe!

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Purple cauliflower flatbread dough

Fig and Arugula Flatbread

  • Servings: 3 to 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

    For the purple cauliflower crust:
  • 3 cups purple cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 flax egg (mix 1 tbs flax powder in 3 tbs water and let sit for 10 minutes)
  • 1 tbs olive oil + more to brush dough with
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • For the cashew cream sauce:
  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked in 1 cup water overnight and drained
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 tbs olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Toppings:
  • 3 fresh figs, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup baby arugula

Directions

For the crust: Prepare flax egg by whisking together 1 tbs flax powder in 3 tbs water in a small bowl. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before using. Preheat oven 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper – sprinkle with flour and set aside. Place cauliflower florets in a food processor or high powered blender and process until they reach a rice like consistency. Remove cauliflower from food processor and place in a clean towel or cheese cloth and squeeze out excess water. Place cauliflower, flour, flax egg, olive oil, and salt in a medium sized bowl. Use your hands to mix together thoroughly and form dough into a ball. Let dough rest for about 5-10 minutes. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough lengthwise (on parchment paper sprinkled with flour) to about a 1/2 inch thickness. Prick dough with a fork all over. Brush dough with olive oil. Bake at 375F for about 30-35 min. For the sauce: Place cashews, water, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a food processor or high powered until smooth and creamy. Add 1-2 tbs of water to thin sauce if needed. Remove pizza crust from oven and allow to cool for about 15 minutes. Spoon cashew cream sauce over crust and top with arugula and sliced figs. Best if consumed immediately. May store leftover flatbread in the fridge for one day. May store cashew cream sauce for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Nutrition Information:

  • Approximate calories per 1/7 flatbread: 215 cal

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