Grilled Fennel, Kale, and Orange Salad

Kale Salad
Grilled Fennel, Kale, and Orange Salad | veganblondes.com

This fennel salad is one that could easily be made without grilling the fennel. You could slice it very thin and toss your salad just the same. But by grilling the fennel, you open the door to a burst of different flavors and textures that will make you grill the fennel next time around as well!

The key here is to have deep char marks on your fennel before turning it over. You want it to be almost caramelized. And it takes some time. It’s very hands off, but you have to be there to turn!

  • 2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut in halves (you can keep some of the fennel fronds to decorate the plate)
  • 2 large oranges, one zested then juiced, the other cut in supremes
  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, cut in a chiffonade
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1 teaspoon old style Dijon mustard (the grainy one)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more to oil the fennel halves
  • 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup (or to taste)
  • Sea salt and pepper

Start a grill over medium-high heat, or alternatively, build a two-zone fire in your charcoal grill.

Rub the fennel halves with some olive oil and season liberally with sea salt and pepper. Place the fennel cut-side down on the hot grill and cook, covered, until deep char marks appear on the flat side of the fennel halves. Turn and repeat the process on the other side. You can turn again and cook some more if your grill isn’t too hot. If the grill is too hot, transfer the fennel halves to the non heated zone of your grill (or on the little warming shelf many grills have). Cover and let cook some more until you obtain a very cooked, sweet tasting, and aromatic fennel.

While the fennel is cooking, make the vinaigrette by combining the orange juice, the orange zest, the shallot, Dijon, olive oil, maple syrup, and salt and pepper. Whisk until smooth, taste and adjust seasonings.

Toss the kale in a large bowl with a little bit of the vinaigrette and massage with your hands for one minute. Plate and set aside.

Once the fennel is cooked, transfer to a cutting board and slice thin, discarding the cores. Transfer to the plate on top of the kale. Top with the orange supremes, some vinaigrette, and the fennel fronds. Bon appétit!

Karine

Rustic White Bean and Sun-Sweetened Tomato Spread

Bean Spread
Rustic White Bean and Sun-Sweetened Tomato Spread | veganblondes.com

This spread is slightly reminiscent of the confits I used to eat as an omnivore. It has a “fatty” consistency and a robust taste. This spread is perfect as a snack or as an amuse-gueule at a dinner party. I also brought it for a potluck lunch, everybody loves it and it’s über simple to make. I used Fruit Bliss® Turkish Tomato Halves, because I think they are the best and juiciest out there, but any sun-dried tomato could do.

  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced rosemary, packed
  • Olive oil, to taste
  • 1/3 cup Fruit Bliss® Tomato Halves, minced
  • Juice from ½ lemon, or to taste
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

In a large mortar and pestle, purée the garlic with a little bit of salt. Add the beans and the rosemary and continue puréeing until you get the desired consistency. We like some beans to be whole, so we purée for about 30 seconds. Add the rest of the ingredients. Give the mixture a nice stir and serve with toasted crusty bread and/or greens. Bon appétit!

Karine

Zoodles with Turkish Tomato and Avocado Sauce

Zoodles
Zoodles with Turkish Tomato and Avocado Sauce | veganblondes.com

When the temperature starts to rise, we try to avoid cooking as much as we can. This recipe is perfect for a hot summer day, not only because it’s raw and refreshing, but more specifically because it takes about 15 minutes to make! It tastes and looks like summer, and Fruit Bliss® Turkish Tomato Halves add the perfect touch of sunshine!

  • 4 medium zucchini
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup basil leaves
  • ½ cup kale leaves, torn
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 avocado, pitted and quartered
  • ½ cup Fruit Bliss® Turkish Tomato Halves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Using a spiralizer, a mandolin, or a cheese grater, make noodles with the zucchini. Set the zoodles on paper towels while you prepare the sauce.

In the bowl of a food processor, place all of the other ingredients, except the tomato halves. Process until a smooth consistency is obtained. Add the tomato halves and pulse a few more times. Taste and adjust seasonings. Bon appétit!

Karine

Mango-Strawberry Salsa

Salsa
Mango-Strawberry Salsa | veganblondes.com

This mango-strawberry salsa is refreshing, zesty, and so easy to put together. Use the best ingredients you can find. This becomes important in raw and simple recipes. This is great served on coconut rice, for a simple lunch, with tortilla chips, or as a side for grilled vegetables. The possibilities are endless.

  • 3 ripe mangoes, in small cubes
  • 8 large strawberries, in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper, in small cubes
  • 1/3 cup packed cilantro, minced
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all the ingredients delicately in a medium bowl. Place in the fridge until ready to use. Bon appétit!

Karine

Green Split Pea Soup

Pea Soup
Green Split Pea Soup | veganblondes.com

A few weeks ago, at the Farmers Market, McClendon’s, a 25-acre organic farm in Peoria, AZ, was selling some green split peas. There was also a lady giving away samples of a green split pea soup, but it was made with ham hocks, just like my mom used to do. Despite the fact that I couldn’t taste McClendon’s version, the memories were haunting me. I remember eating split pea soup around the Easter holidays, my mom using leftover ham to put together her smoky deliciousness.

My taste buds, at that point, were screaming for pea soup. During my childhood, yellow split peas were used, but the result is just the same with green split peas. The use of smoked paprika and liquid smoke is imperative in order to get the smokiness. Don’t be shy, get some liquid smoke from the grocery store or from Amazon. It is becoming easier and easier to find.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, in small dices
  • 1 large carrot, in small dices
  • 2 celery ribs, in small dices
  • 1 red bell pepper, in small dices
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4-5 drops liquid smoke
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups dried green split peas, well rinsed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cup sweet potato, cubed
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • To garnish: minced spring or green onion, minced parsley, dusting of smoked paprika, lemon wedges

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Stir well, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5-6 minutes, until the vegetables are tender, but not burnt, stirring occasionally.

Add the smoked paprika, oregano, and liquid smoke and mix well. Add the broth, split peas, bay leaf, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the peas and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. After 15 minutes of simmering, add the sweet potatoes.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the soup from the heat and add the juice of half a lemon. Serve the soup garnished with the spring onions, parsley, and smoked paprika. Bon appétit!

Karine

Sesame-Stuffed Eggplant

Eggplant
Sesame-Stuffed Eggplant | veganblondes.com

I’m learning how to cook Indian food, as you probably know by now! My Mother-in-law is such a joy to cook with, and she shares quite the treasures! I had never eaten those Sesame-Stuffed Eggplant before we made them together. She said they are usually served when company comes, or at dinner parties. But they are so cute, I might make them more often than that. Note that the stuffing could also be used with small bell peppers, or any substantial chile. Anaheim peppers come to mind. They look and taste beautiful, and besides the handling of the nuts, they’re not long or hard to make at all. This recipe gave us 9 mini eggplants, so you can double or reduce the recipe accordingly.

  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup almond slivers, toasted
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, toasted
  • 8-9 small Indian eggplants
  • 3 tablespoons butter (I used Miyokos Creamery), melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 heaping teaspoon garlic-ginger paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon minced curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil

Put the toasted nuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until reduced to a powdery meal. Remove to a medium bowl.

Add the salt, chili powder, garam masala, garlic-ginger paste, turmeric, onion, cilantro, and curry leaves. Mix well with your hands.

Add the butter by teaspoonfuls and mix well between each addition, until you obtain a sticky mixture.

Cut the eggplant as below, in four segments, making sure to keep the stem intact:

Eggplant
Eggplants cut in four segments, keeping the stem intact.

Stuff the eggplant as below:

Stuffed Eggplant
Stuffed Eggplant

Add the oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the stuffed eggplant and sear on all sides. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, turning them as they cook, for even results. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve warm. Bon appétit!

Karine