Sunday, November 14, 2010

Vegan MoFo 14.1: Shaved Fennel and Orange Salad with Black Olive Dressing and Masi in a Bottle


Breakfast was a green smoothie for both of us on Saturday. My smoothie contained: 1 frozen banana, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds, 6 walnut halves, 4 stalks of purple kale, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, water to process. Dan’s smoothie was the same except he got 2 frozen bananas, a handful of walnuts and a little stevia.

It still surprises me that we both like the kale and banana smoothies. Initially we were both a little taken back by the color but the taste is good and the nutrition excellent. In the end of the color really doesn’t matter to either of us.

I opted to make a huge pot of soup for the mid-day meal with my parents. Dan bought me a massive Le Creuset pot a few years ago that is 15 ½ quarts. Doesn’t everyone need to make almost 4 gallons of soup at once? LOL … It is perfect for making soup or marinara sauce when you want leftovers to freeze. I didn’t measure what went into this soup because I knew most people don’t have a pot big enough to make it. However I can tell you what I used. Dan was in the mood for something Tuscan flavored which means beans, fresh sage and tomato to me. This soup included the following: onion, garlic, carrot, parsnip, celery, thinly sliced green beans, thinly sliced leek, red cabbage, diced tomato, dried Italian seasoning, fresh sage, fresh shitake mushroom caps, red lentils, barley, tomato paste, red bell pepper, cauliflower, and hot crushed peppers (wet hots). I finished the soup with fresh parsley on all the servings and a drizzle of unfiltered extra virgin olive oil for my parents. Much to my surprise both my parents said that my soup was very good so I sent them home with a quart for later.

The salad we had with lunch was very simple. I make a variation of fennel and orange salad. As you know I love olives. Back in our less than healthy days I used to make a black olive dressing with parmesan. This is a much healthier vegan version of that dressing. Here is what I did:

Shaved Fennel and Orange Salad with Black Olive dressing
Serves 4

Salad Ingredients:

1 fennel bulb, thinly shaved on a mandoline
4 radishes, thinly shaved on a mandoline
a splash of red wine vinegar to season the fennel and radish
1 orange, zest finely grated then peel and section the segments (I do not supreme my oranges since reading in the oncologist’s waiting room that the membrane and pith contain micronutrients that halt cancer growth)
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds

Dressing ingredients: (makes enough for 8 salads but any less won’t process properly in the blender)

8 kalamata olives
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons water (or what is necessary to achieve the consistency you want)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons raw cashews


Combine the ingredients in your high speed blender and process on high until smooth. Add as much water as necessary to achieve the texture/consistency you desire. Two tablespoons water was enough for me. If you plan to refrigerate the dressing it will thicken as it chills so you may want to make it a little thinner or thin it when you plan to use it.

Nutritional Information (assumes ¼ of the salad and 1/8th of dressing per serving):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 98.93
Calories From Fat (40%) - 39.15

Total Fat - 4.19g
Saturated Fat - 0.31g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 94.69mg
Potassium - 391.03mg
Total Carbohydrates - 12.28g
Fiber - 4.32g
Sugar - 0.37g
Protein - 2.59g


This is my spin on a classic Sicilian salad. The original contains red onion, which I replaced with radish. I omitted the olive oil and made a dressing with the olives rather than sprinkling them on top. If you like salty foods this would also be great with capers. I added the sliced almonds for crunch and the parsley for color. However the flavor combination is close to the original which has always been a favorite of mine.

After lunch Dan suggested going out for dinner. You know where we ended up. Yes, Ian made dinner and it was wonderful as always. We are so lucky to have a place in the neighborhood that will cater to us even though it isn’t a vegetarian restaurant. I always forget that not everyone has someone like Ian close by until I read other blogs that mention how difficult it is to eat out.

I was in the mood for a little vino last night and since they still had the Masi Pinot Grigio it meant I “had to” get a glass. As soon as I ordered the glass I decided that I “needed” the bottle but would take most of it home, which I did. We shared some with Aimee and Michael since they hadn’t had it before and it is always nice to share your toys with others. ;-)

We started by ordering a salad that was on special menu, hold the animal products. Ours was baby arugula lightly dressed with a lemon and toasted sesame vinaigrette topped with roasted beets and pineapple and it was delicious! When I asked Ian about it later he told me beet and pineapple was an old school flavor combination he thought from the 70’s. This is a good example of an oldie but a goody. I will be playing around with this flavor combination sometime soon. I think I would have enjoyed this with a few sesame seeds for crunch. Ian’s original contained turkey and goat cheese but ours we great without either. Maybe my version will include some almond feta. Hmmmm, too many ideas and not enough time to execute them all.

Since Dan loves pizza you know we had to have one of nice crispy whole wheat ones Ian makes. We took a few items from the puttanesca pizza and other items from the potato pizza and came up with a Dan and Alicia pizza. Our whole wheat pizza included: marinara sauce, capers, black olives, roasted red peppers, roasted red onion, fresh tomato slices and thinly sliced potato. Both Dan and I thought it was delicious. I have to say I am now convinced that pizza does not need cheese or faux cheese to be delicious. Seriously I never thought I would say that (being a former cheese-aholic) but I would rather have no cheese than fake cheese now. Who said that? ;-)

Those of you with a good memory probably remember that Dan is not fond of olives. I happen to think they are the best thing since sliced bread. I only had one slice of the personal pizza tonight. However I had most in not all of the oil cured olives which are my favorite. Can you say water retention? Of course the sodium will showed up on the scale this morning. Oh well, it was good going down.

Of course we weren’t finished eating. We decided to order the marinated mushroom appetizer as our last course. Since mushrooms are said to stop cancer cell growth why not eat mushrooms every chance you get? Not only are they good for you but these are seriously good. I really need to ask Ian what he includes in his mushrooms. They have a subtle but distinct umami that I can’t put my finger on. You know I will be asking so I can make my version of his recipe. ;-)

We also had two pots of green tea with dinner because you know we drink the stuff all the time. No doubt about it we got our quota of EGCG today.

Thanksgiving menu options:

I have been going back and forth on the menu for a few days. Here is what I am thinking of now:

• Butternut squash soup (possibly with chipotles in adobo) and topped with crispy dehydrated red onions and cashew crème fraiche
• Roasted vegetable salad with balsamic glaze and pine nuts (an oldie but a goodie)
Seitan (either cutlets or a roulade) or a Portobello cap filled with bread stuffing (not both since it would be too much flour)
• Porcini or mixed wild mushroom gravy for the main dish and/or faux potatoes
Cauliflower and millet faux mashed potatoes (possibly with caramelized garlic)
• Haricot vert with caramelized onion, and sliced almonds
Brussels sprouts with clementines and poppy seeds
Cranberry granita or Tofu Chocolate Mousse

What sounds better and/or healthier to you? Would you go with the seitan or the stuffed mushroom caps? Also between the granita and the mousse which one sounds more Thanksgiving appropriate? I think the granita sounds better but Dan always wants the chocolate mousse. I keep looking at the menu thinking that I need more “veggies”. However since I almost always over cook for national holidays I am trying to restrain myself.

Happy thoughts:

I have been enjoying the happy thoughts endings to the post. I hope it reminds you to think of the good things that are happening for you too. We all have things in our lives that would we rather not focus on but there is also a lot of good too if you just look for it. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• This morning there was a beautiful orange, pink and purple sunrise. I tried to photograph it but the none of the pictures did the sky color justice. Picture or not it was gorgeous and both Dan and I took the time to enjoy it.
• The farmers’ market was great this morning and I actually remembered boots and gloves today so I wasn’t a human popsicle today. ;-)
• The weather today was almost perfect. It started cold (in the 30’s) but warmed to the mid 60’s by mid-day. Glorious weather for the Mid-Atlantic in November.
• We had an extremely nice vegan brunch today which I will tell you about tomorrow. Ian and Dani (Ian’s sous chef) really out did themselves since they knew we were coming. We even got tofu scramble and vegan chai oatmeal pancakes. We were very impressed! To think he claims they can’t do vegan. *shakes head* We did find out today that Dani used to work for a vegetarian restaurant in Portland which probably explains a lot. ;-)
• Dan and I did more Christmas shopping today. Williams Sonoma is always good for an idea or two. Details on that soon as well.
• I was able to photograph a few Christmas decorations while we were out which I may have to try to replicate. Yes I will share what I discovered but it may take me a day or two.
• Last but certainly not least Mommy’s little grey furry angel (Masi) seems to be completely himself today. *huge sigh of relief*

Signing out:

Seriously am I having a wonderful day or what? So I didn’t sleep well, it has all uphill from there. I hope all of you are having a fabulous Sunday too. Talk to you again tomorrow.


  1. Your fennel salad sounds wonderful...really, really wonderful. I happen to have a fennel bulb waiting for a turn to be eaten (but no mandolin).

    My input for Thanksgiving: I agree with Dan on the dessert, having the sweet tooth I do and all. And between the seitan and the mushroom caps,
    my personal preference leans toward the mushrooms, but it all depends on who you are serving, I guess.

    And going out to I love when someone else does the cooking!

  2. I vote for the stuffed mushroom caps and granita, but if you do the chocolate mousse instead, do a little bit of cranberry something amidst all those savories. A quick cranberry/orange relish would be nice. My mom used to make one in the food processor with whole oranges (peel and all)--very refreshing and nice.

  3. Stephanie,

    Thanks I really enjoyed the salad. Bummer on the lack of mandoline. I used my handheld one for this since I was only cutting one fennel bulb. You might want to pick one up.

    Thanks for the input on Thanksgiving. I like the idea of the stuffed mushroom too but Dan likes the seitan.

    I am not the chocolate lover that Dan is but I see how that would work for most people. ;-)

    Going out to the eat is the best isn't it? I love it when Ian takes care of the food. It tastes great and I get ideas for future recipes. It is a total win win in my book.

    I hope your weekend is going well,

  4. Cindy,

    Thanks for your input I see we are completely in sink. ;-) I am trying to convince Dan that is the way to go. We will see if I have any luck. I do need to get cranberry into the meal somewhere. If I go with the mousse a cranberry relish will probably happen. Interesting that your mom used the entire orange. I have made a salad dressing using the whole orange but not a relish. Thanks for the info. I may have to play around with the concept.

    enjoy what is left of your weekend,

  5. Sounds like you had a great day! I think I'd go with the seitan, but that's such a tough call b/c stuffed mushrooms = heaven. Hugs my friend.

  6. Heather,

    Sunday was just about perfect here. Both Dan and I had a great day.

    Dan loves my seitan so you know I may have to make it. ;-) However, I do love stuffed mushrooms. It appears my tastes are getting away from faux things like meat and cheese.

    enjoy the rest of your evening with Jason, :-)

  7. When I saw "Masi in a bottle," I thought you were talking about your cat! Wine is a much better way to go.
    I ate alot of olives today too and still have a bunch leftover - I am definitely going to try your dressing recipe soon since I have everything on hand.
    As for Thanksgiving plans, I would say go for the chocolate mousse and stuffed mushroom caps. I like seitan but especially with so many other foods at once, a lighter, vegetable dish sounds better..
    As usual, everything looks great today. Keep up the positive thoughts.

  8. So good to see Masi is back to normal! Regarding Thanksgiving the mushroom cap sounds more healthy to me, but that's because seitan often makes me feel sluggish and not well. Can't wait to see what you decide, so far everything looks great!

  9. Foodfeud,

    Massimo was actually named because of our love of Masi wine. The amarone is our favorite but so far we have liked ever Masi wine we have tried. LOL

    Maybe I should make two desserts but that seems so decadent. I guess you are either a chocolate person or not.

    Good thought on the lighter dish being better with all the other food. I think that logic makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Thanks also for your kind words. :-)

    enjoy what is left of your weekend,

  10. Sarah,

    I am extremely relieved that Masi is back to normal. He gave us quite a scare. The next time he needs anesthesia I am going to be a wreck. Thank you for your warm wishes for him. :-)

    I think the mushroom cap sounds healthier too, but it would include more bread so it probably is a toss up in the end. Gluten doesn't impact my GI system or Dan's but that is something to keep in mind for my parents. Thanks for the reminder.

    enjoy the last few hours of your weekend,

  11. My vote(s): definitely the stuffed mushrooms, and of course the chocolate mousse. The mushrooms will give you the flavors of Thanksgiving, so to speak - and the mousse will be like a typical rich holiday dessert! Have fun planning this - will be keeping an eye on this to see what you choose.

  12. BJ,

    Thanks for sharing your opinion. I am thinking maybe the cranberry granita would be good as palate cleanser between courses and the chocolate mousse as dessert. I still need to convince Dan the stuffed mushrooms are a better idea. However if he gets the chocolate mousse I don't think he will mind. ;-)

    enjoy what little is left of your weekend,

  13. I must make that black olive dressing!

  14. JL,

    The prior version of this dressing used olive oil which I substituted raw cashews for here. You can also use lemon juice in place of the wine vinegar in the dressing. I vary the acid depending on my mood.

    I hope your Monday is starting off well,

  15. Hey Ali, I am all for the stuffed mushroom caps, I think that sounds amazing! I am also making cauliflower with our dinner. I am going to do a vegetable platter, what a surprise since you know I love a veggie tray! I am thinking about also an acorn squash soup with a pomagranite topper, possibly a polenta with roasted root vegetables and I am going to attempt to make a pumpkin tart, sans crust and a cranberry walnut pate, so to speak. I am toying with making your porky cutlets with a smoked mustard glaze and mushrooms...Idk yet, it is all up in the air. hugs!

  16. Good Morning Brandi,

    I love the idea of the mushroom caps too. ;-)

    You a vegetable tray, I am shocked, LOL. Those never happen at your house.

    Cranberry and walnut pate sounds interesting. I will be curious to hear more about that.

    My menu isn't set you either so I understand. My family expects indulgent food for Thanksgiving but honestly I would prefer a health holiday. Dan and I were talking last night about why American's seem to think it is okay to indulge from Thanksgiving until New Years. It is no wonder the average American gains weight every holiday season. *shakes head*

    I hope you are having a good Monday morning,

  17. Hey, great minds! I did a fennel orange salad last week, though mine was simpler than yours. It's a tasty combination.

  18. Brigid,

    I love the combination of fennel and orange it is a classic.

    I have been swamped so far this month. Sorry I haven't had much time to stop by and comment. This week is looking a little more reasonably paced for me after today.

    I hope you have a good Monday,

  19. What exactly does fennel taste like? I've never had it.

    Everything looks so yummy, especially those shrooms! :o)

  20. Hi Ali,
    Your thanksgiving menu sound so diverse and delicious, with flavor layers all over the place! If you want to go with Tofu Chocolate Mousse, what about tossing a few dried or cooked/chilled cranberries into the brussels sprouts salad? Even if there is no turkey, you still need a little cranberry! Your cauliflower and millet combo is genius. Cauliflower faux mashed potatoes is delicious so the millet could only enhance the creaminess. For my thanksgiving pass-around dish, I'm going to bring portabellow caps stuffed with a cauliflower mash topped with mushroom gravy. But since you already have those ingredients on the table, the bread stuffing would be very comforting.
    p.s. My vote for tofu mousse may have been influenced by the hope that you would then post your recipe!

  21. Michelle,

    Raw and cooked fennel have a different flavor. When it is raw is has a light licorce flavor and aroma. When it is cooked it reminds me more of celery. In southern Italy they use it like we use celery. It goes into soup bases and thinly sliced or diced into cold salads.

    The shrooms were really good. I got the "secret" on Sunday from Ian. Now I need to pick up some shrooms so I can play around with the proportions. Ian makes vats of them and doesn't measure. Now that I know what he includes I think I can replicate the recipe for home use. ;-)


  22. Love the fennel salad, Ali! Hope you're having a good Monday:))

  23. Your black olive dressing sounds great. Olives are one thing I love but don't eat very often because Alex hates them almost as much as he hates okra.

    I also like your Thanksgiving menu, and I agree with the others who say to go for the mushroom caps. I need to work out my own menu, but yours look great! It does seem very Thanksgiving-y in total.

  24. Jill,

    I love the idea of cranberries in the brussels sprouts. I can imagine a chewy dried cranberry in there with the fresh citrus. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing that suggestion. :-)

    I have posted the cauliflower and millet mash I should have linked to it. I will do that this morning. The same goes for the chocolate mousse. Give me 30 minutes and the links will be in this post. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  25. Aimee,

    Thanks I love fennel salad too! It was a good Monday but it was also crazy busy. I felt a little like I didn't know which direction I was going all day. ;-) It is raining today which means hot tea and slowing down. At least that is my plan now.


  26. Jessica,

    Our husbands must be related, mine likes to pick the olives out of food but even he admited the dressing was good. ;-) It is hard to pick out dressing, LOL.

    Thanks for sharing your opinion on the menu. I was trying to keep a Thanksgiving feel without the traditional meat and meat products. We will see what the extended family thinks of a vegan Thanksgiving. In prior years I have made turkey to accomodate the omnivores but I just don't want to do it this year. I spend so much time sanitizing my kitchen it is too much of a hassle with all the other food. ;-) We will see how much blow back I get due to a lack of turkey.

    I hope you have a good Tuesday,


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