02 July, 2008

Soup and Salads

Monday was my sister’s belated birthday celebration. I guess, “celebration” is too big of a word for a family gathering of 3 over some soup, salad, and cake, but it felt like a celebration to me, partially because I finally cooked. I did not cook anything for last 2 months. I am not sure why that was happening – my appetite was absent (blame the heat) and those rare moments when I would be hungry I would crave unhealthy junk food.

But Monday was different: Monday I went to the grocery store, picked up a lot of veggies, brought 4 huge grocery bags full of goodies home, and started chopping.

My sister wanted something light and cool for the hot summer evening. After checking out my extensive recipe collection I decided to make salads and soup (my dad loves soup and even if he would not like the Asian flavor of edamame salad he would definitely enjoy my green pea soup).

First on the list was a tried and true veganized recipe of a “Greek Dinner Salad” (do not confuse with The Greek Salad, they are completely different). The recipe comes from a 2005 issue of Eating Well magazine.

Greek Dinner Salad

3 tbsp soy yogurt
3 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint

1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp agave nectar
½ tsp salt

1 medium zucchini, finely diced (2 cups)
1 large bell pepper, finely diced (1 ½ cups)
1 bunch radishes, finely diced (1/2 cup)

1 15-oz can of chickpeas, drained
Boston lettuce leaves for serving

  1. To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients until creamy
  2. Toss all the ingredients (apart from lettuce leaves) in a large bowl. Pour over the vegetables, toss gently. Spoon into lettuce leaves for cups and serve.

To counterbalance the sweetness of the Greek dinner salad I prepared the Edamame salad with sesame dressing. This is a slightly modified version of this salad from the Vegetarian Times magazine.

Edamame and Greens with Sesame Dressing

3 tbsp roasted sesame oil
2 tbsp tahini

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce

1 ½ cups edamame

4 cups salad spring mix
1 cucumber, sliced
8-oz baked teriyaki tofu, cubed
1 green onion sliced
toasted sesame seeds

1. To make the dressing, whisk together all the ingredients until creamy.

2. To make salad: cook edamame according to the package instructions (boil for 2-4 minutes). Rinse under cold water to cool. Drain well.

3. Divide spring mix among 4 plates.

4. In a medium bowl combine edamame, greens, cucumber, tofu, and green onions. Pour over 1/4 of the Sesame Dressing and mix well. Scoop the salad on top of the greens and drizzle with the reamaning dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve.

I could not find any baked seasoned tofu (usually I get Asian flavored one) so I decided to try the mock chicken breasts (I don’t remember the name of the company that makes them – I’ll update this post from home with the brand name andmaybe even a picture). I pan-fried them for couple of minutes, cut it in cubes and added to the salad. All in all the chicken breasts were very good. I would definitely use them again in salads or sandwiches. I also think they would be delicious under gravy or sauces with a side dish of rice/mashed potatoes.

If you are not sure where to find edamame, try any Asian stores. They usually have them in frozen section and they come shelled or not.

This is how both of the salad looked:

Pea and spinach soup with coconut milk was a big hit. My dad enjoyed it so much that he asked me to prepare it again. The original recipe, which comes from one
of the special issues of “Fine Cooking” 2006 calls for fresh peas, I didn’t have any fresh ones so I used frozen but the result was great. One great thing about crème soups is that you don’t have to care about sizes of cut vegetables.

Pea and Spinach Soup with Coconut Milk

2 large leeks, white parts and pale green, quartered and sliced (try using spring onions if you don't have leeks)
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp basmati rice (use quick cooking rice if you want to speed up the cooking process)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder

2 tbsp fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
2 cups of peas
4 cups coarsely chopped spinach, any thick stems removed
1 cup coconut milk

1. In a soup pot, heat up oil and stir in rice. Add leeks, salt, curry powder, cilantro, and 1 cup of the stock

2. Cook over medium-low heat at a vigorous simmer for about 12 minutes (if you are suing quick-cooking rice, cook for 3-4 minutes).

3. Add the remaining 3 cups of broth, the peas, and the spinach and bring to boil.

4. Boil for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir I coconut milk.

5. In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches until smooth. Taste for salt, season with pepper and garnish with cilantro leaves.

If you prefer a soup with more texture, puree 1 cup and return it to the pot, season, garnish, and serve.


  1. i know what i am having for dinner today:)
    and lunch tomorrow

  2. Oh!

    That looks way too good for a gathering without me! :)

    And I'm impressed by to images you took.. pretty nice croppings. Someone learned well.. hum..

  3. Someone will have a very yummy dinner ;)

  4. Thanks for the compliment about pictures - I had the best teacher ever ;)

    You would've liked this soup - creamy and full of flavor!

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Wow, maaaaaaaaan, I am so impressed and kinda embarrassed by the variety and your decency to cook everything from scratch, all so healthy and sort of organic.

    Have your whole famiyl turned veg?

  7. Why, thank you! I like cooking and making things from scratch is a lot of fun. Also I am very picky about my condiments and find most of the ready-to-eat stuff either too salty, or too spicy, or simply tasteless. There is also a problem with non-vegan additives and preservatives in some ready-to-eat stuff.

    I am the only vegan/vegetarian in my family. Liza does not eat a lot of meat but simply 'cuz she does not like it. My dad is forced to eat mostly veg. cuz he does not cook and I am doing all the cooking. As for my mom, she keeps lent once per year and eats vegan for 40 days. She tells me how much she likes it and how she wants to keep it up for another month, but ends up buying salami the day lent is over.

    Sadly, not everything I cook is organic. Organic produce is still a bit expensive over here, but I try to shop locally and to buy some organic fruits and vegetables.

  8. Great post! Love the soup & the fact its a Cooking Light recipe. Their recipes are always so great! Definitely going to try this one! You blog is makin' me hungry!

  9. Oh thank you, Christine. I like "Cooking Light" a lot and try to veganize their recipes as much as I could.

    And thanks for complementing my blog. Hope to see you here again ;)

  10. Yummy! You'r yummy recipes and photos make me really hungry. Thanks for dinner-inspiration.

  11. Oh, you are very welcome! I haven't been cookingas much this summer but I am pretty sure I'll be back in the kitchen in Fall, so pass by again ;)