Vegan Garden Entrees

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Reveling In Sumptuous Summer Bounty

Small as it is, my little back-deck garden spills over with delicious treats in midsummer. Every day I pick tiny alpine strawberries and plump blueberries for my breakfast, and nearly every meal features fresh greens in some form or other. My son and his wife love to add kale to their breakfast smoothies, but I prefer it in my morning scrambles.

I am fortunate to live in a community where chickens are treated extremely well, living in elegant coops with large roaming yards, plenty of sun and shade choices, and fresh running water. Thus, organic local eggs often appear on my table. For those who don’t eat eggs, morning scrambles are made with crumbles of soft tofu and plenty of just-picked garden vegetables and herbs.

A Vegan Morning Scramble

1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped green beans
1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
2-3 ounces soft tofu, crumbled
1 cup stemmed, shredded kale
1 tablespoon minced basil
sprinkle of sea salt or liquid aminos

In a small omelet pan, combine oil, onion, and green beans over medium heat and cook until barely soft (3-4 minutes). Add tomatoes, tofu, and kale, cover pan, reduce heat to medium and cook until kale is barely wilted (2-3 minutes). Add basil and salt to taste and serve hot. Serves 1.

A Gardenly Vegan Brunch Or Lunch

Hot or cold, quinoa makes a splendid base for summery entree salads. Itself rather mild, quinoa quickly absorbs livelier flavors from all sorts of companions, sweet and savory. When I cook quinoa, I usually makes extra to have on hand when unexpected company arrives. Cooked quinoa freezes beautifully and thaws fast, so it’s one of my favorite go-to summer staples.

Healthy and wholesome, this garden-based entree hot salad makes a lovely brunch or light evening meal. Use any beans you prefer, from garbanzos to cannellini, and swap the nectarines for peaches, pears, or apples in season. Add cilantro and salsa to ramp up the flavors or use fresh mint, coriander, cardamon, and nutmeg to give it an Indian twist.

Hot Quinoa Bean Salad with Caramelized Nectarines

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 shallots, peeled and mashed
4 leaves Buttercrunch or butter head lettuce
1 tablespoon fruity olive oil
2 nectarines, pitted and quartered
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1-1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon liquid aminos or shoyu
1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 lime, quartered

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, toast quinoa and cumin seeds over medium high heat until browned (3-5 minutes), shaking often. Add 2 cups water, salt, and mashed shallots, bring to a boil, cover pan, reduce heat to low and cook until tender (15-20 minutes). Meanwhile, arrange lettuce on 4 dinner plates. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium high, add nectarines and brown well (3-4 minutes per side). Add 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar and honey and cook for 1 minute, stirring to coat. Remove nectarines a bowl. Add beans, remaining balsamic vinegar, and liquid aminos to pan, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Toss beans with cooked quinoa, nectarines and sweet onion and put a scoop on each lettuce leaf. Serve garnished with yogurt and a wedge of lime. Serves four.

A Speedy Summery Entree

This cold salad goes together fast and tastes best at room temperature, so let it stand for a few minutes so the flavors can meld. You can use any vegetables you like, adding more or leaving out anything you don’t have on hand. Vary the fresh herbs (try lemon thyme, lemon verbena, or rosemary), change up the fruit (raspberries are great), and adjust the seasonings to your pleasure!

Chilled Vegan Quinoa Chop Salad

4 cups Romaine lettuce, cut in ribbons
2 cups kale, stemmed and cut in ribbons
1 cup diced tomatoes with juices
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped spicy peppers
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped baby carrots
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts or peanuts
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
2-3 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1-2 teaspoons maple syrup
3-4 cups cold cooked quinoa

Combine all ingredients in a large salad bowl, toss gently, let stand for 15-20 minutes and serve at room temperature. Serves 4-6.

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