Thursday, February 26, 2009

LowerFat Banana Bread(Vegan); Bulgur/Tomato/Feta Salad

Yup, still the same day, lol, but I almost forgot I have two more good recipes I want to post. Probably I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: Almost none of the recipes I post here are original, as I'm not all that creative when it comes to making up recipes; wherever possible I give full credit to the author/source where I found the recipe, and if I can't, I still tell you it's NOT my own recipe; I have tried every one of the recipes I've posted, and will never post one I haven't tried...I don't think, lol...and I will never take credit for a recipe that's not mine.

The banana bread recipe is from "Veganomicon," by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and is very, very good. I made it because my next-door neighbor had bought too many bananas, and I very kindly offered to help her use them up before they rotted, lol. So, what do you do with overly ripe bananas, right? You make banana bread. And I did!

Lower-Fat Banana Bread

2 large or 3 small very ripe bananas 1/4C applesauce 1/4C canola oil
1/2C sugar 2Tbs. molasses 2C all-purpose flour 3/4tsp. baking powder
1tsp. ground cinnamon 1/4tsp ground nutmeg, or grated fresh 1/2tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 9X5-inch loaf pan.

In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas really, really well. Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses, and whisk biskly to incorporate. *See note at bottom.

Sift in the flour, baking soda, spices, and salt. Us a wodden spoon to mix until the wet and dry ingredients are just combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and a knife inserted through the center should come out clean.

Remove from the oven and invert onto a cooling rack. Flip the bread right side up and let cool.

*Note: "Never use a hand mixer for banana bread because it makes it gummy; treat it like a muffin batter and mix with a wooden spoon just until the wet and dry ingredients are combined. In fact, if you would like to turn these into muffins, pour the battter into a greased muffin tin and bake for eighteen minutes."

In the directions for the bread, they mention using chocolate chips if you want to. There's no mention of the chips in the ingredient list, so use your own discretion as to how many to use if you so choose. I didn't.

This bread is wonderful, I loved it, and actually followed the recipe to a tee!!! How often does that happen, eh?

This next recipe is a salad recipe, which I don't usually mess with. I'm not a really big salad eater for the most part. Years ago, when I was much, much younger, if you had opened my 'fridge, you would've thought that you'd come upon a salad bar. Many times, a big salad, with all sorts of stuff in it, was my dinner, with whichever salad dressing my hand had grabbed from the 'fridge. Nowadays, tho, you won't find anything pertaining to lettuce salads in my 'fridge, because for some reason, lettuce hurts my stomach. I've tried other greens, but didn't really care for them, so now, any salad I try has no greens in it. Usually. There may be an exception to that here and there.

Anyway. This salad comes from "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian," by Mark Bittman, which is a huge book, just jam-packed with information: techniques, variations on a recipe, how to store things, and lots and lots and lots of recipes, many of which are vegan or can be easily veganized. I don't think this one can be, tho, which is a shame, because it's an awfully good salad.

Bulgur/Tomato/Feta Salad

1C fine-grind(#1) or medium-grind(#2)bulgur
3C chopped tomato or quartered cherry tomatoes
1 small onion, diced 2-oz. feta cheese, crumbled
2Tbs red wine vinegar, or more to taste
1/4C extra virgin olive oil, or more to taste
2Tbs chopped fresh oregano leaves or 2tsp. dried
1tsp. hot red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly groung black pepper

Soak the bulgur in hot water to cover until tender, 15-30 minutes. Put the tomato, onion, feta, vinegar, olive oil, oregano, and redpepper if you like in a large salad bowl and stir with a fork to combine. Sprinkle with a little salt)remember the feta can be salty) and lots of pepper.

When the bulgur is tender but not mushy, drain it in a strainer, pressing down to squeeze out any excess liquid. Put it in the bowl while it's still warm and fluff with a large fork to stir in the other ingredients. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more oil or vinegar as needed. Serve the salad at room temperatue or cool it down and refrigerate it for a couple hours or so.

Variations: can use two cups cooked rice or cracked wheat instead of the bulgur. Can add two cups canned or cooked chickpeas to the salad bowl before adding the bulgur. You will probably want to add a little more vinegar and oil, too.

Ok, here's my take on it. First of all, will I make this again? Definitely. It's a keeper...and it doesn't even have any garlic in it, lol. Secondly, it took over two cups of very hot water, and almost 45 minutes to get the bulgur to the tenderness that I wanted, and it was still somewhat crunchy. Thirdly, I didn't have any red pepper flakes, so I used about 1/4 tsp. of cayenne, but couldn't feel any heat. And, I used drained, diced, canned tomatoes, which worked fine, and the dried oregano. Changes I couldn't help, not because I wanted to play around with the recipe...NO! I didn't use canned tomatoes...duh! I forgot: I actually bought a really big tomato, just for this recipe. I'm willing to bet that the canned and diced ones would work in a pinch, tho, and I'm thinking that the next time I make this, I might try balsamic vinegar instead of the red wine. Maybe goat cheese crumbles instead of the sheep's milk feta, too.

Until next time...and I'm really thru this time...Happy Eating.

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