Yellow-Eyed Pea Salad with Springtime Herbs

canada geese

I spotted this family of Canada geese one evening on my walk. It looked like they were going to play a pickup game of soccer!

I realized after I swapped out my winter wardrobe for my springtime clothes that Old Man Winter was not kind to me this year. Given the bitter cold we had, I found myself exercising less and eating (and drinking) more. So given this latest turn of events, I’ve really turned to looking at my diet. I’m even joining two friends in a cleanse in a few weeks; no caffeine, alcohol, sugar, meat, dairy, and only whole wheat products; a vegan diet for two weeks. Which has led me to look at past recipes (I found some here and here) and to start creating delicious meals in preparation!

I’ve been wanting to make a nice bean salad after seeing the cover of the most recent Eating Well magazine. I had some dried yellow-eyed peas I bought earlier in the winter to make baked beans, but decided these would work just as well for a salad. Add my usual vinaigrette and some spring herbs with radishes for crunch, this was light and tasty. Even the Eater of the House liked it! I served it along an argula salad with toasted almonds and olive oil and lemon, but it would be equally delicious as a side dish with a nice piece of fish or lean chicken.

I’ve never seen these peas in a can like their black-eyed relatives; if you want to forgo the soaking and cooking, you can substitute a can of Great Northern or cannellini beans. And a spritz of lemon juice on top before serving adds just a little more brightness to the dish!

bean saladYellow-Eyed Pea Salad with Springtime Herbs
I find this salad is best the day you make it; the radishes become a little soggy when left overnight.  

3 cups yellow-eyed peas
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 chopped TBS each: chives, basil, Italian flat parsley-or a combination of other herbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice (optional)

1. In a large bowl, add the beans and radishes.

2. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl. Add to the beans and toss. Add the herbs and top with a spritz of lemon juice, if desired.

(Photo courtesy Burlington Farmer's Market)

(Photo courtesy Burlington Farmer’s Market)

MVK’s Endorsement of the Week: Visit your local farmer’s market!

It is finally the season for farmer’s markets! By the middle of May my favorite market moves from inside to outside, with early greens and vegetables available for purchase.

This great article from offers the best farmer’s market from each state, plus a recipe to try with fresh produce! While my local farmer’s market didn’t make the top of Vermont’s list, the recipe looks divine!

You can check out all the farmer’s markets and to see if yours made the list by clicking here.

Mid-Winter Chili: Vegan Style

It's amazing how things can change in just a couple of weeks. The birds have come out of hibernation and we've been graced with bright, sunny days! Spring is indeed coming!

It’s amazing how things can change in just a couple of weeks. The birds have come out of hibernation and we’ve been graced with bright, sunny days! Spring is indeed coming!

In an effort to wile way the long winter, signed up for a seven-week online class at Vanderbilt University through Coursera: “Nutrition, Health and Lifestyle: Issues and Insights,” taught by Jamie Pope, MS, RD LDN. Each week has a different focus, and I have been learning even more about nutrition, food labeling, supplements, and more to add to my cooking arsenal. Last week’s focus was on plant-based diets. And in a twist of serendipity, I had made this vegan chili a day or two earlier!

Chili is one of the easiest and quickest meals to make, basically you put everything in a pot and heat it until it is warm and the flavors have mingled. And this recipe is no different. After going to two stores, one of them the co-op, which has most everything vegetarian and vegan, I came up empty-handed on the sausage. So I substituted a bag of Boca meatless ground crumbles, which will change the flavor of the chili (and also adds gluten), but it was still delicious.

This dish is perfect if you have a group of ravenous teens, a potluck, or another large group of people to feed because it makes a mountain! My freezer is full of containers for later lunches and dinners. And for those watching pennies, I figured this cost roughly $10 to make, and at 10-15 servings, give or take, less than $1 per serving!

Can’t-Believe-It’s-Vegan Chili

This recipe originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of Cooking Light magazine.

Instead of sour cream or cheese topping, go vegan all the way and top with some diced onions, creamy avocado, and/or sweet potato!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (12.95-ounce) package vegan sausage, chopped (such as Field Roast Mexican Chipotle)
2 cups chopped tomato
1/2 cup white wine
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried ground sage
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 cups Vedge-Style Vegetable Stock or unsalted vegetable stock
3 (15-ounce) cans unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2 (15-ounce) cans unsalted kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
2 cups chopped kale
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients (through sausage); sauté 4 minutes. Add tomato and next 5 ingredients (through red pepper). Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half (about 1 minute). Stir in stock. Combine 2 cans cannellini beans and 1 can kidney beans in a medium bowl; mash with a potato masher. Add bean mixture and remaining beans to pan. Bring to a simmer; cook 5 minutes. Add kale; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Sprinkle with oregano.

Yield: Serves 10 (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

Total: 35 Minutes

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

I don’t know about where you live, but it’s been nothing but rain, rain, rain here all spring in Vermont. April was the rainiest on record ever, and the first week in May hasn’t been any different. It’s eye-popping green outside, but no sunshine to enjoy it. My tulips sadly hang in the garden; I don’t think they dare to bloom for fear of drowning. Although Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on Thursday this year, I got home on Wednesday night, cold and wet. I needed something warm and spicy to shake the chills, so I came up with this.

I already had soaked and cooked a pot of black beans Saturday evening and had kept the beans with their cooking liquid in the fridge, but you can easily make this with canned beans and water. I mashed the beans with a potato masher for a more rustic version, but you leave them intact the dish will be even quicker to make! My version was on the table in just about 30 minutes. If you are vegan, just warm the tortillas and skip the cheese.  Served with a side salad and you’re good to go! Olé!

Black Bean Tostadas
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 cups black beans
Cooking liquid from beans or water
Dash of oregano
Dash of cumin, coriander, or a mixture (to taste)
Salt and pepper

4 corn tortillas or burrito shells (whichever you prefer)
Cheddar cheese (I like sharp)

Fresh lime juice
Avocado slices
Salsa or sriracha hot chili sauce, if desired

In a skillet, heat olive oil until fragrant. Add garlic, onion, and carrot and sauté until just soft. While that is cooking, preheat oven to 350 degrees, slice or grate cheese, and place atop the tortillas. Pop in the oven when you’re ready and bake until cheese is nicely melted and bubbly, pull out of the oven and set aside.

Add the beans to the skillet and spices to taste.

Version 1: If you’re not going to mash them, stir to heat through and you’re done!

Version 2: Add a bit of water to the beans and stir. For a  more rustic version, like refried beans, take a potato masher and mash the beans. (This is also a great way to get out some of your aggression if you have any at the end of the day!) Eventually the water will get absorbed. Keep adding water until you feel the beans are done, or completed to how you want to eat it. With the still-warm tortillas, top with beans, lime juice, avocado, and sriracha, if desired.*

*My newest find these days is sriracha sauce. It is everything I’ve been looking for in one bottle! It is a hot chili sauce, with garlic, sugar, salt, and vinegar. I love anything spicy, so this brings a little kick to everything. Note, it took me a little while to figure out exactly how much to use, it is potent with a capital “P,” so start out with just a tiny bit and go from there. I made polka dots on my tostadas, so you know how spare you need to be, but it is so good! You can find this in the Asian food section at your grocery store; I find the font very faint, but you can identify it with a rooster on the front of the bottle.