Words and images by Mother Ship.
When I’m not rocking my foxy pink apron and hanging out in the kitchen, I guide yoga classes and run weekend yoga retreats. I have taken it upon myself to handle the logistics, design the menu, shop and cook the meals for the weekend retreats. Why? Because I love it! Typically we have 12 clients joining us for dinner and with those 12 come various food intolerances, likes, major dislikes and the almighty food allergy. Given that we are on a yoga retreat, we follow the yogic philosophy of practicing ahimsa (the practice of non harm). Thus, a vegetarian meal (with a vegan option) is planned.
This month’s spring retreat presented its challenges in a long list of food allergies:
- green peppers
- sesame (including oil, seeds and tahini )
I stepped up to the challenge of creating a weekend of knock your socks off, lick your plate clean, and beg for more dishes adhering to all of the restrictions.
The Friday Menu:
Mediterranean veggie burgers (recipe posted below), with fresh tzatziki made from Greek yogurt (I have also successfully made tzatziki with silken tofu) and black olives served with a cabbage kale and mandarin salad in a miso sesame dressing. Taking liberties, I added orange juice to the dressing. I omitted the tahini which is usually in my veggie burgers and I made a separate dressing omitting the sesame oil for one side salad. And those dairy free people dined without the tzatziki. Oh wait, that was just me!
The Saturday Menu:
How do you flavour a stock without celery and carrot or fish? I was SO OVER heavy tomato sauces and I really wanted to make a soup using locally sourced seasonal veggies. It was time to get creative!
I perused the internet and my favorite cookbooks, coming up with plain and uninspiring recipes. It was between the covers of Clean Food by Terry Walters that I found the holy grail of the soup world. Creamy Asparagus Soup. Guess what, my friends? It met all of the criteria! NO allergens, NO stock and it’s a spring vegetable. Booyah! Of course, before I serve it to a crowd I have to test the recipe. My hubs, Big Daddy P, is a full-on carnivore who might fold inside himself at the thought of tasting a vegan soup, but, I have plenty of foodie friends ready and willing on standby. I delivered the soup and my phone blew up within a few hours with these texts:
“Holy Sh%t – Holy Sh%t – Holy Sh%t”
“I NEED that recipe”
“It’s green. What’s in it?”
“Can you make asparagus pea soup just so I can say asparagus pee?”
You might wonder who I hang out with – given the texts – and yes, you can hang out with us too. Especially YOU, Terry Walters!! You are my new BFF, you and your vegan, gluten-free cookbook saved my bacon. I heart you!
The food was plentiful and a big hit with the women attending this retreat. If you ask me, the most fun is sharing in the delight of expanding taste buds and just relaxing in the company of the beautiful individuals who choose to hang their expectations and egos at the door. No matter how much work we do over a weekend retreat, we always leave with our bellies and hearts full.
By: Mother Ship
- 1 x15 oz can chickpeas – drained and rinsed
- 1 x15 oz can of lentils – drained and rinsed or 1 cup cooked from raw
- 1 egg (optional)
- 2 TBSP EVOO
- 1/2 a medium size red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes
- 1/2 cup rolled oats (gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free)
- 2 TBSP of tahini – if there are no allergies!
- Juice from 1/2 a large fresh lemon
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup combined pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds
- 1 TBSP curry powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- ground black pepper to taste
Add the chickpeas, egg (if using), EVOO, garlic, and onion in the food processor and puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients. Let the mixture sit for five minutes and then form into patties. You can fry the patties but I prefer to bake them at 400°F on my pizza stone for about 20 minutes, flipping the burgers over half-way through so that both sides are slightly browned and the middle is soft.
There is a tendency to overcook these burgers waiting for them to crisp or brown up – try not to or they will come out very dry! Serve on a bun or alongside a big salad with avocado and tomatoes. DELICIOUS!
Cream of Asparagus Soup
By: Terry Walters from Clean Food 2012 revised edition (Sterling Epicure NYC – publisher)
- 2–3 bunches asparagus (about 6 cups chopped)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 leeks, white parts only, chopped
- 1⁄2 cup rolled oats
- 3 cups rice milk or soy milk
- 1⁄2 teaspoon dried dill
- Water as needed
- White pepper
- 1 teaspoon mellow white miso per serving
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
Bend each piece of asparagus near the tough dried end until it snaps off at its natural breaking point. Discard ends, wash remaining asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside.
In large pot over medium heat, sauté garlic and leeks in olive oil until soft (2–3 minutes). Add asparagus, oats, milk and dill, then add enough water to just cover asparagus. Bring to boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until asparagus is soft (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Purée soup using a handheld blender. Add water if thinner soup is desired. Season to taste with white pepper. Dissolve miso in just enough water to make it liquid. Stir into each serving. Garnish with parsley and serve.
Note: Miso is added to individual servings rather than to the full pot so you can reheat leftover soup without destroying miso’s living enzymes.
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