Silken Tofu w/ Avocado

Silken Tofu with Avocado

Unexpectedly refreshing and delicious! Seriously, I did not expect to like cold silken tofu in any preparation, but I am officially proven wrong. A great appetizer, especially if your meal needs a protein boost and you’re pressed for time. If you use an entire block of tofu (as the recipe suggests), I would say it is an appetizer for 4. Here’s the incredibly simple recipe: Silken Tofu with Avocado

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Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms w/ Cashew Cheese and Slivered Grape Tomatoes

roasted crimini with cashew cheese and grape tomatoes

I’m a huge fan of recipes that make me seem like an amazing gourmet chef, while actually requiring little to no skillz and even less time! The only special tool is a good serrated knife, for thinly slicing the grape tomatoes.

If you’ve never made cheese from nuts before, this recipe is very simple–throw all of the ingredients into a blender, and if you have time, let the result sit for a couple of days to age. Here’s the recipe, and clearly the inspiration for this appetizer: Portobello Mushroom Cashew Cheese Burgers. This recipe will make a lot of extra (probably 10x), but no worries; this cheese was approved by the harshest critics I know…my sister’s kids. Spread it on sandwiches or crackers, or enjoy with some crisp vegetables.

On to the recipe…

Serves: 2, easily doubled or quintupled
Time: 10 mins in advance (cashew cheese) + 20 mins day of

Ingredients
10 cremini mushrooms, larger if possible
cashew cheese (recipe linked above)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 chopped scallion, green part only for garnish (don’t throw out the white part, use for something else)

Instructions

1. Make the cashew cheese 2-3 days in advance if you can. It takes about 10 minutes to throw together. The recipe doesn’t specify the type of miso, but I used white miso.

2. Preheat oven/ toaster-oven to 350°F. Rinse the mushrooms and remove the stems, then toss with olive oil.

3. Roast the mushrooms for 10-12 minutes with the stem-side down.

4. Allow the mushrooms to cool for 5 minutes, until they’re cool enough to handle. Fill with cashew cheese, then top with a slice of grape tomato and a couple of scallions. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Baby Arugula Salad w/ Navy Beans and Pickled Red Onions

Baby arugula with Navy beans and pickled red onion

An appetizer that’s all about flashy presentation, great for dinner parties because you can make everything ahead of time and just assemble the day of. The bean mix is best made a day or two ahead, so that the flavors develop.

Serves: 4 as a hearty appetizer
Time: 20 mins actual work, but add on time for soaking & cooking beans

Ingredients
For the pickled red onions:
1/2 red onion
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup water at room temperature/ chilled
2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/4 tsp salt

For the bean mix:
3/4 cup dry navy beans
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

And of course…
4 handfuls of baby arugula

Instructions

Pickled Red Onions:
1. Slice the onion as thinly as possible. A good serrated knife is your best friend for this task. You can leave them thicker if you like, I just love the presentation when the onion is paper-thin.
2. Fill a tea kettle with water and bring to a boil.
3. Assemble the marinade: cider vinegar, water, brown sugar, salt, and peppercorns.
4. Put the onion in a colander over the sink, and pour the boiled water over it. Drain well and then place in the marinade.
5. Allow to marinate for at least a few hours. Store in the refrigerator; this can be made the day of or even weeks in advance, as it will last (almost) forever.

Bean Mix:
1. Soak the beans overnight. Technically these beans can be cooked without prior soaking, but the soaking process makes them easier to digest & reduces the gas factor. Rinse, then bring to a boil then bring to a simmer. Skim any foam off of the top. Cook until the beans are tender but not too soft.
2. Allow the beans to cool to room temperature/ chill in the fridge. If you want, you can do this after mixing the ingredients together; but I prefer chilling the beans first so that the garlic and parsley stay 100% fresh.
3. Leftovers will keep well for 5 days. If you tire of the salad combo, you can also mash the beans into a paste and put on a sandwich, or throw it into a food processor to make a dip (you might need to add a little bit more olive oil/ water for thinner consistency).

Assembly:
Place a handful of arugula on the plate, top with 2 spoonfuls of the bean mix and a couple forkfuls of pickled red onions (it’s okay to take a little bit of marinade with the onions).