Kale Salad with Spicy Cannellini Beans + Lemon Chia Seed Dressing

Kale Salad with Spicy Cannellini Beans and Lemon Chia Seed Dressing | ourfourforks.com #vegan #paleo #glutenfree #recipe

When colder months roll around, it’s easy to trade in salads for warmer (sometimes less healthy) options, but this kale salad is the perfect cool weather meal. Because kale is pretty sturdy, it can stand up to the weight of the spicy beans and warm sweet potato spirals and hold up in the fridge. To make it a full meal, add some roasted sunflower seeds for crunch and top with a protein of choice….

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Spinach, Mango and Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Spinach, Mango and Curried Sweet Potato Salad | Our Four Forks | #glutenfree #vegan #paleo #recipe

When I’m home in Boston, lunch and dinner always is made with a side salad: mixed greens, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. That’s it. I usually eat it first before enjoying the more creative part of the meal; the quinoa pizza, sweet potato shepherd’s pie, empanadas, etc. What I love about Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks is that the line between the side salad and main entree is blurred. All of his salad recipes are creative and exciting enough to be the part of the meal that you look forward to.

Since my parents were going away this Easter, Isabel and I went to my parents house last weekend. They have the entire Ottolenghi library and Isabel and I always find ourselves bookmarking a lot of recipes (often adapted to be gluten free or dairy free) and making way too many grocery store trips. This past weekend we had some mangos on hand, so we went for an adaptation of the Alphonso Mango and Curried Chickpea Salad from Plenty More. Instead of chickpeas, we used roasted sweet potatoes and created an Indian-spiced coconut dressing that would be great on other salads and roast vegetables, so don’t worry if you have extra.

Spinach, Mango and Curried Sweet Potato Salad | Our Four Forks | #glutenfree #vegan #paleo #recipe

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Loaded Greek Sweet Potato Fries

Loaded Greek Sweet Potato Fries | ourfourforks.com

When it comes to quick weeknight meals, I tend to go through regional phases of cooking in the most stereotypically American sense (a bit embarrassing). For a month or more I’ll make “Mexican” food – simple salads or tacos seasoned with cumin, cilantro and avocado, topped with salsa. Then I may move onto “Italian” for a couple weeks; spaghetti squash pasta, eggplant parmesan, pizzas, etc. until I run out of Josh’s tomato sauce.

 

This month has been all about “Greek” food. The phase began with a simple desire for grass-fed lamb and we’re only in the middle of it. These loaded Greek fries pile on all my favorite elements of Americanized Greek cuisine: oregano sweet potato fries topped with spiced lamb meat, tzatziki sauce, fresh tomatoes, feta and pickled red onions. They’re a perfect, satisfying and healthy alternative to greasy summer food.

 

Loaded Greek Sweet Potato Fries | ourfourforks.com

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Sweet Potato Bun Sliders with Portobello, Red Peppers + Pesto “Mayo”

Sweet Potato Bun Sliders | ourfourforks.com

Last week I had leftover basil in the fridge  and, since fresh basil can’t be wasted, I threw it in my Vitamix with some almonds, olive oil and salt: vegan pesto! We ate it all week with spaghetti squash, turkey meatballs, roasted veggies and, since it’s finally starting to feel like summer, on sweet potato bun sliders with portobello mushrooms, roasted red peppers and red onion.

 

In an effort to eat more whole foods recently, the sweet potato bun has become my favorite substitute for traditional burger buns or sandwich bread. The portobello mushrooms give these sliders some substance while the roasted red pepper, red onion and pesto “mayo” give it that summer barbecue feel. The pesto “mayo,” made by mixing vegan pesto with cashew “mayo,” helps hold the sliders together and elevates the flavor of the vegetables.

 

Sweet Potato Bun Sliders | ourfourforks.com

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Caribbean Empanadas with Mango Salsa

Caribbean Empanadas | ourfourforks.com

One of the things I miss most about living in Portland is the overwhelming presence of bulk bins (as also discussed here). In Portland it is assumed that everyone – not just health food shoppers – would enjoy bulk bin benefits: saving money and the ability to buy the amount of something you need when you need it. Needless to say, I usually went a little overboard. In cleaning out my pantry recently, I can across one of the more unusual bulk bin purchases: chickpea flour (also called garbanzo bean flour or gram flour).

 

These empanadas are made with a simple chickpea flour dough, but feel free to substitute any gluten-free flour you prefer to bake with. If you do try the chickpea flour, fair warning: the raw dough tastes weird. Chickpea flour has a bit of a strange flavor, but I assure you that this disappears after baking.

 

The vegan stuffing is full of caribbean flavor: lime, chipotle, cinnamon, nutmeg and cilantro. The mango salsa adds a delicious sweetness and spicy crunch to balance out the creaminess of the sweet potato filling. Add a dollop of cashew sour cream (or the real deal) and you’re good to go.

 

Caribbean Empanadas | ourfourforks.com

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