Potato Salad with Fennel, Lemon, and Dill

This square meal is a game-changer!  When I first developed my potato salad formula, I knew it was good, but it wasn’t until I whipped up today’s version that I really fell in love.  Something about the combination of raw fennel, lemon, and dill just says summer.

That taste/feeling of summer is fresh, with bright, light flavors.  In a dish like potato salad that is dense and creamy, this balance is so important, especially when you’re lugging a heavy bowl of the stuff to a hot backyard barbecue.  In addition, if you’ve tried making my potato salad before, you know that unlike its mayo-based distant relatives, mine won’t get all funky after sitting in an outdoor buffet for a couple hours.  Woo!

What’s more, when it comes to my food, the approval of my family and friends means a lot.  I don’t need it per se, but it certainly reaffirms why I take the time try new recipes and write about what I’m eating:  I really have an opportunity to educate others about healthy eating…and share with the world that despite what you may have heard, vegan food is ABSOLUTELY delicious and satisfying.

I write all of this because my brother-in-law, who may as well have started fan club for mayo lovers, put his stamp of approval on today’s recipe.  This is HUGE!

The star in today’s potato salad is fresh fennel.  I love to eat the bulb—the most commonly consumed part of fennel—in a number of ways, but this recipe utilizes only the stalks and fronds (you could use the bulb instead/as well).  I keep it simple with thin slices and mix right in.  Fennel—which looks like a standard vegetable but is actually an herb—is loaded with fiber and potassium, but is notable primarily for its digestive benefits.  Fennel can relieve bloating and gas, as well as stimulate appetite and digestion.  I once visited a vegan restaurant where fennel seeds were served after our meal for this very purpose.

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The last item I want to mention is that I don’t use processed, mock mayonnaise products to substitute for the real deal (I also don’t used processed “cheeses” and “meats” either); I find plant-based whole foods that can be transformed without preservatives, chemical additives, or excess salt to satisfy the craving for animal-based counterparts.  This requires more time in the kitchen, but it is often less expensive, and more importantly, I like to know what I’m eating.  🙂

You.  Will.  Love.  This.  Recipe.  Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: POTATO SALAD

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds potatoes –> I’m using russets.
  • 2 cups diced raw vegetables –> I’m using the stalks and fronds of one medium-sized bulb of fennel and approximately ¼ cup of sliced green onion.
  • A double batch of my creamy salad dressing (see below)
  • ¼ cup crunch (raw seeds, nuts, etc.) (optional) –> I’m not using any since the raw fennel is quite crunch itself.

For the dressing (NOTE: Formula already doubled below.):

  • ½ cup seed or nut butter –> I’m using cashew cream (soak raw cashews overnight and blend with just enough water to form a thick cream).
  • 5 tbsps acid (citrus juice, vinegar, mustard, or a combination) –> I’m 1 ½ tbsps of whole grain mustard, plus the zest and juice of 1 lemon.
  • Thinning liquid as needed (ideas:homemade veggie stock, water, or more acid) –> I’m not using any.
  • Up to 4 tbsps raw garlic and/or fresh/dried herbs and/or spices (optional) –> I’m using ½ tsp garlic powder, ½ tsp onion powder, and 1 tsp dried dill.
  • 1-2 tsps sweetener (optional) –> I’m not using any.
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste –> I’m using ½ tsp salt and several turns of freshly ground black pepper.

Thoroughly wash your potatoes so that you can keep the skin on. Chop into bite size pieces and steam, boil, or roast (I’m roasting). While your potatoes are cooking, make your dressing. Cover and place in the fridge for the flavors to come together.

When your potatoes are done cooking, drain (if necessary) and place in a glass bowl to chill in the fridge, at least to room temperature. While the potatoes are cooling, chop your veggies and crunch element, if using.  After the potatoes have cooled sufficiently, pour your dressing on top and stir gently to combine. Enjoy for several days (if you have any leftovers!).

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A Fresh Take on Beans and Rice

Let me start by saying that I LOVE the combination of beans and rice! B&R makes for a filling square meal, packed with protein and fiber. B&R also serves as a versatile base for a number of dishes, from curry to the burrito bowl. Today, I’m using quinoa in place of rice and adding yellow squash for a fresh take on a classic duo.

In Monday’s post, I touted the salad, which I hold responsible for helping me to lose baby weight and keeping me fit in general. While lately I have been consuming salads composed primarily of raw produce, I really enjoy salads with cooked elements, too. My multi-grain salad is among my faves and the formula behind my twist on B&R.

This southwestern cooked-but-cold salad also features raw yellow squash. Yellow squash—sometimes referred to as summer squash—contains high levels of vitamin C, beta carotene, and lutein. It is also an excellent vegan source of iron and folate, which are commonly found in large quantities in animal products. In addition, I find that the texture is more appealing when left raw, leaving more of the nutrients intact.

Enjoy!

FORMULA BASE: MULTI-GRAIN SALAD

Serves 4-6

  • 4 cups water or vegetable stock –> I’m using water as I don’t currently have any stock on hand.
  • 2 cups dry grains –> I’m using white quinoa.
  • 2 cups chopped fruit and/or veggies -> I’m using 1 ½ cups yellow squash, ¼ cup corn, and ¼ cup diced sweet peppers.
  • Dressing of choice or a combination of herbs/spices and salt and pepper to taste –> I’m using the juice of one lime, a splash of olive oil, a splash of agave syrup, and the seasoning combo I use in my chili, in a lesser amount. I sprinkle the spices from one side of the bowl to the other; that’s how I often “measure.” 🙂
  • TODAY’S EXTRA: 1 ½ cups black beans.

Rinse your grains before cooking in order to remove any possible dirt or dust.

If you’re using a variety of grains: Because different grains have different cooking times, you may approach this in two ways: cook them all in the same pot, in stages, or cook them separately and combine them later. If you’re not sure about the grains you are using, research their cook times and even better, experiment in your kitchen.

If you’re using one grain, as I am today, find out how long it takes to cook and get it into your stove top pot or rice cooker. I use a rice cooker because I find that it reduces sticking to the bottom of the pan with just a few occasional stirs, but you can certainly cook your grains in a pot on the stove top, stirring more regularly.

While your grains are cooking, chop your fruits/veggies, drain your beans (in today’s rendition), and prepare your dressing and/or seasonings.

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I usually leave the lid to my rice cooker off for the last few minutes to speed the cooking liquid absorption process. When there is no liquid left, your grains should be done. Place the cooked grains in a bowl and chill in your fridge, uncovered and with occasional stirring to allow heat to escape more easily, until at least room temperature (about 30 minutes). If the grains are hot, they will par-cook your produce, which we want to keep raw. When cool, combine the grains with your other ingredients. Consume cold and store in the fridge for 3-5 days, depending on the shelf life of the produce used.

Dip, Salsa, or Square Meal?

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To answer your question, this dish, based off of my bean salad formula, is all three: dip, salsa, and square meal. I’m housing it under my Square Meal Formulas because while it makes for a great snack, it can serve as a delicious, filling, and protein-packed lunch or dinner, too.

If you tuned in last week for my chili recipe and are not ready to leave the Southwest, you will love trying out my bean salad. This recipe is a cross between my mom’s “Texas caviar” bean dip and my husband’s mango salsa. It is served cold and alone, with tortilla chips, or as an addition to a Latin or southwestern dish.

Before we get into making this dip, salsa, and square meal, a word about a few ingredients that I love: sesame oil, agave syrup, and pink Himalayan sea salt. As this blog grows, you will see these ingredients throughout many of my fresh formulas and recipes. Here’s why…

DSC_1542While my recipes minimize added fat, sugar, and salt, I do sometimes add just a little to maximize flavors. Sesame oil lends itself perfectly to this philosophy, as it is extremely flavorful in quite small amounts. To keep your blood sugar levels at bay, organic agave syrup—a low glycemic sweetener—is a great alternative to white, granulated sugar, which I haven’t purchased in years. Finally, pink Himalayan sea salt is the super salt of the sodium world! This salt contains over 80 vitamins and minerals, is naturally high in iodine, has less sodium per serving than table salt, and has a myriad of other health benefits. If you’re adding salt, this is the way to go.

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, make your own tortilla chips to compliment this bean salad. Never having yet made them myself, I’ve purchased a few from a local Arizona Mexican restaurant so I can see how it’s done!

FORMULA BASE: BEAN SALAD

Serves 4-6

  • 2 cups cooked beans, no added salt –> I’m using extra beans today, in an effort to mimic elements of my mother’s Texas caviar recipe. I’m incorporating equal parts kidney, pinto, and black beans (just like my chili recipe), totalling about 5 ½ cups.
  • 2 cups chopped raw fruits/veggies –> I’m using ½ of a small green bell pepper, ¼ cup frozen corn, 1 medium size mango, and ¼ cup fresh, finely chopped cilantro.
  • ¼ chopped raw onion –> I’m using yellow.
  • ½ cup seeds and/or chopped raw nuts –> I’m using raw sunflower seeds, a little less than a ½ cup.
  • Citrus juice (size matters…start small) –> I’m using the juice of two limes.
  • Spices, herbs, salt, and pepper to taste –> I’m using ½ tsp each of chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and pink Himalayan sea salt, and ¼ tsp cumin.
  • SPECIAL ADDITIONS: 1 tsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp agave syrup (I would use less or none at all if my mango were sweeter.)

Before anything else, chop your onion and get it soaking in the citrus juice. The citrus helps to break down the abrasive flavor of the onions.

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Next, drain and rinse your beans, allowing them to drip dry in your colander while chopping your fruits/veggies. Combine all ingredients and mix. Store in the fridge up to a week.

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