No Croutons Required - The Winners for June and the Challenge for July

The votes are in for June's challenge of soups and salads featuring grilled or roasted ingredients and we have two winners this month.

Congratulations to Michelle of Food, Football and a Baby who submitted this mouthwatering Indian Roast Potatoes salad. I so love Indian dishes, and I will be trying this one soon.

Also congratulations to Raven of Cook.Eat.Delicious who entered this most tempting Roasted Vegan Corn Chowder that I could not resist trying.

I will be hosting the July edition of No Croutons Required. The theme this month is hot peppers and my regular readers will know that they are dear to my tummy. Any variety is welcome included in a vegetarian soup or salad of your choice. Hot chilies, red or green, Jalapenos, habaneros, or any hot peppers that suit your fancy. I very much look forward to your creations. If you grow your own peppers, it would be a welcome addition if you included a picture of your plant or garden, along with a picture of your finished dish.

Beet and Feta Salad Dressed with Honey, Balsamic Vinegar and Oregano

The growing season is here, but it is still early in the year and locally grown produce is just starting to hit the markets. The hot temperatures are also finally here, and I decided that I wanted a wholesome salad with my favorite root vegetable. Beets are a good and nourishing choice no matter the time of year, especially when paired with feta and a delightful vinaigrette served over some mixed greens. A choice crusty bread, slathered in butter, is an ideal accompaniment.

Such a treat to eat outside in the warmth after such a cruel winter.

Beet and Feta Salad Dressed with Honey, Balsamic Vinegar and Oregano

4 large beets
1/2 cup of cashews, split and dry roasted over medium heat until lightly browned
3/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
1 small red onion, cut into fine strips
mixed fresh greens

For the dressing:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of walnut oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of fresh oregano
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Trim the beets, wrap in foil and roast in a preheated 425 degree oven until the beets are fork tender - about 1 hour. Cool, peel and set aside.

Whisk together or blend the dressing together in a small food processor.

Arrange a heathy pile of fresh greens on a serving plater and top with chopped beets, sprinkle with cashews, feta and red onion and spoon some dressing over the mix. Season with salt and pepper, add more feta and serve with crusty bread. Such a perfect spring or summer meal.

Serves 4.

More beet recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Beetroot Rasam
Roasted Beetroot Salad with Pistachio Pesto and Goat Cheese Served over Fresh Arugula
Haloumi, Beetroot and Greens Dressed with Tahini and Lemon

On the top of the reading stack: Guy De Maupassant

Audio Accompaniment: Marsen Jules

Ven Pongal (Spicy South Indian Tiffin Rice)

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Ven Pongal (Spicy South Indian Tiffin Rice)

This delightful spiced rice and split mung dal dish with toasted cashews is typically prepared as an everyday breakfast in south India were it is cooked to be creamy or almost mushy, but I made a drier version to serve as a dinner dish along with this amazing coconut tamarind chutney. Adapted from "Mysore Style Cooking" by V. Sandhya, you won't be lacking for nourishment no matter the time of day you serve this dish. So easy to digest, it is perfect for those recovering from an ailment. South Indian cuisine is my new passion.

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Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese

An occasional craving for comfort food is one that most of us share when stresses or anxieties abound, an impulse to revisit times or places of simplicity and security, no matter how real or perceived our memories. It's a pleasure of mine to indulge my loved ones with kitchen comfort at those times, not to mention that fussing with pots, pans and food can be a welcome relief to myself when others around me are feeling strains. Into these dishes I can pour the love and care that aren't always easy to express in words.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

One of my husband's favourite comfort foods — and one shared by many others — is a big helping of macaroni and cheese. In his case, he remembers the Kraft Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese that his father baked with a can of crushed tomatoes. Of course, now that he's eating out of my kitchen he gets my own brand of comfort food, meaning fresh quality ingredients assembled by hand and with a little spicy touch of my own tossed in. I'm happy to say that a big helping of warm and creamy homemade jalapeño and tomato mac'n'cheese did just the comfort trick for him while giving him a taste of something new at the same time. After all, moving forward is important even when we want to indulge our nostalgic feelings.

This is my submission to Presto Pasta Nights, a very popular weekly event started by Ruth of Once Upon a Cook, and hosted this week by Pictures of all my princesses. I am running on about two hours of sleep in the last 48 hours and sick besides, but I wanted to share this recipe because it is so good and easy to prepare.

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & CheeseJalapeño and Tomato Macaroni & Cheese
Recipe by
Published on June 13, 2011

A classic comfort food with an extra loving homemade touch

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  • 3 plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 pound uncooked macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 oz can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 16 oz cheddar, colby or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and cut into thin rounds
  • Chop the tomatoes and place in a fine sieve to drain the juices, tossing occasionally. Meanwhile, combine the bread crumbs and cornmeal with the melted butter and set aside.

  • Cook the macaroni to al dente in a large saucepan according to instructions on the package. Drain and return to the saucepan. Add the remaining butter.

  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard, salt and black pepper. Add 3/4 of the cheese and combine.

  • Stir the cheese mixture into the macaroni and butter over medium heat. Keep stirring for 5 - 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens and is hot and bubbling. Remove from heat and stir in the tomatoes and jalapeños.

  • Preheat an oven to 350°. Pour the macaroni into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese, followed by the bread crumb and cornmeal mixture. Bake uncovered for 30 - 40 minutes or until the bread crumbs and cornmeal are browned.

  • Remove from heat and serve..

Makes 6 - 8 servings

Jalapeño and Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

Other great mac'n'cheese recipes from Lisa's Kitchen:
Classic Macaroni & Cheese
Macaroni & Paneer Cheese
Greek Macaroni & Cheese

On the top of the reading stack: Sukham Ayu: Cooking at Home With Ayurvedic Insights

Audio Accompaniment: Rustling Leaves

Mysore-Style Toor Dal Soup

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe

This is another recipe adapted from "Mysore Style Cooking" by V. Sandhya. Such an elegant and informative book that is essential for cooks wishing to learn more about south Indian cuisine. As I enjoy toor dal and soup, I decided to make what she so charmingly calls "Sandhya's Soup". She tells us that it is particularly good for babies and children as it is easy to digest. You may wish to omit the hot peppers. It is also easy to prepare and delicious. Adjust the amount of water to achieve your desired consistency. I opted for a thicker version.

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Sweet and Sour Beet and Sprouted Mung Bean Salad

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Messy though they are to prepare, beets are one of my favorite vegetables. This recipe was adapted from Mysore Style Cooking by V. Sandhya. I was intrigued by this dish as it included not only beets, but also some coconut and pineapple. Served alongside some Jasmine rice, this was certainly a satisfying summer meal that I enjoyed with my dinner guests on my front deck. Summer is finally here.

This is my submission to My Legume Love Affair, a most popular event started by lovely Susan and hosted this month by Aqua of Served with Love.

Sweet and Sour Beet and Sprouted Mung Salad

a generous handful of fresh beet greens
3 beets, peeled and grated
1 cup of mung bean sprouts
3 tablespoons of unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
juice from one lime
1 cup of pineapple, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of sea salt

For the tempering:

2 teaspoons of oil
1 teaspoon of black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon of asafetida
pinch of cayenne
pinch of turmeric

Rinse the mung beans well and soak overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and transfer them to the center of a few paper towels. Wrap with string, transfer to a pot, cover and let sit for 24 hours.

In a large bowl, combine the beet greens, grated beet, mung bean sprouts, coconut, parsley, lime juice, pineapple and salt.

For the tempering, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds and stir and fry until they begin to pop. Now add the asafetida, cayenne and turmeric and stir into the salad, taking care to mix until everything is well combined.

Serves 4 - 6.

More Mung Bean Recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Mung Bean Paneer
Moong Dal
Mung Bean and Vegetable Soup
Mung and Azuki Beans with Fresh Peas and Spices

On the top of the reading stack: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London's Ottolenghi

Audio Accompaniment: silence, finally

Tomato and Feta Casserole with Gigantes Beans

Tomato and Feta Casserole with Gigantes Beans

Just yum! One of the tastiest dishes I have made recently. Adapted from Closet Cooking, I used gigantes beans instead of the cod that Kevin's recipe called for. Such a perfect spring meal, and how can I resist the excellent sheep milk Feta cheese and beautiful colossal Kalamata olives from the Perfect Bakery, located at 116 Hamilton Road here in London, Ontario. They have the best olives and Feta in the city. It's also a pleasure to grow fresh herbs outside too that are an ideal addition to meals. You must try this creation. Nourishing and creative, you can't go wrong with this dish. Your carnivorous friends won't miss the meat at all.

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Coconut-Tamarind Chutney

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Coconut Chutney

I made this coconut and tamarind flavored chutney to go along with a rice-based dish known as pongal that will leave you begging for seconds. It is adapted from "Mysore Style Cooking" by V. Sandhya, an essential book for those curious about the intricate and healing properties of South Indian cooking. We are told it works well as a spread for flatbreads and sandwiches. My chutney had a bit drier consistency than the creamier ones I usually prepare in anticipation of serving it with the pongal.

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