Witch on Fire: Lammas Corn Salsa over Cheesy Tomato Polenta

[Originally posted at my Patheos Blog, Witch on Fire]

Just for some fun witchin’ in the kitchen this Lammastide, here are a few of my favorite recipes that take great advantage of the summer garden abundance of tomatoes and peppers, and will thrill your coven-mates this Sabbat feast. It’s easy to make ahead of time, is even more delicious the second day, and is simple to transport for picnics and pot-lucks. YUMMO!

Salsa and Polenta Fixin's ~ Photo by Heron Michelle

Lammas Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Vegan, Raw, Gluten Free
Ingredients:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained. Or about two cups of fresh corn that has been roasted, then cut off of the cob.
1 large tomato, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave nectar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 1/2 tablespoon Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or sea salt to taste)
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Mix it all up and let it marinate for an hour or so. Taste it, and tweak the seasonings according to your own preferences. Sometimes I add more salt for a deeper base note, or more lemon for extra brightness. If it needs more richness, add olive oil. If you want some heat, add a smidge of cayenne or red pepper.

At this point you can serve at room temperature with tortilla corn chips. Or, you can keep going, and make some cheesy tomato polenta, and top with this salsa for a tasty vegetarian meal!

Lammas Salsa over Polenta ~ Photo by Heron Michelle

Click here to continue over to Witch on Fire for the Cheesy Tomato Polenta Recipe

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Witch on Fire: Lammas Cocktails for High Summer

[This entire post can be found at my Patheos.com blog, Witch on Fire. I invite you to subscribe to my blog there and always be the first to receive the latest articles.]

Lammastides are flowing in, beloveds! The Sabbat of High Summer, the midpoint of the season of growth and fruition, comes in HOT, wet, and delicious here in North Carolina. That sounds like a party to me! We celebrate this peak of juicy, glorious summer when we reach 15 degrees of Leo on our lap around Papa Sun, which happens to fall on August 7th this year (2016.)

This week I’m heading out on vacation with my Sweetheart, as I journey to Colorado for hiking, camping and relaxing around that state’s wondrous hot springs. Which reminds me, Lammas is a great time to enjoy a cold refreshing cocktail with your loved ones! Bring a pitcher of these to the Sabbat picnic, and they’ll love you for it!

2 classes of Lammas Lovers Lemonade with twisty straws

Lammas Lemonade for Two!

Lammas Lemonade

Cocktails are basically “potions” if you awaken and charge them for an intent. This alcoholic beverage may look like a dirty mojito, but if you give it a job to do, besides get you drunk, its also a great chalice brew.

The peppermint and lemon are both prized for their benefits of purification and love, healing and friendship. Peppermint is traditionally associated with the powers of Air, and Lemon with the powers of water. I say call on BOTH elements to cool us off, while bringing us together. Plus, everyone knows that a good, Spiced Rum is the nectar of the gods, and a great choice for making offerings.

It’s summer time and “all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.(1)” I don’t know about y’all, but I like my cocktails like I like my lovers: sweet, dirty, and strong. Boom chica wowow!

Click here for the recipe at Witch on Fire!

Summer Solstice Feasts: Rainbow Salad Recipe

When the summer season kicks off with our entrance into the sign of cancer, I am usually very ready for garden fresh foods that are cool, crisp and bursting with vitality. Allow me to share with you one of the newest dishes to emerge from one of my mad-kitchen-witchery experiments: Rainbow Salad. This is a variation on a theme that began with traditional tabbouleh flavors, and so is still nicely paired with other middle-eastern dishes like hummus and pita bread, and slow-roasted lamb…mmm…lamb…my favorite!

Litha Rainbow Salad - Thumbnail

Rainbow Salad for Litha Feasts. Photo by Heron Michelle

This recipe makes enough to be a perfectly sized contribution to a pot-luck feast for any of the summer Sabbats, but I just love it around Litha-tides.  Since this recipe just happens to also be vegan, it has a longer life-span before it would spoil than the average picnic contribution of mayonnaise-y potato salad or the like, and avoids the difficulty of dairy and egg allergies that may be considerations within your tribe of friends. I prefer to serve it at room temperature, and since its flavors improve the longer it marinates, I think this is an ideal dish to take when picnicking or camping out where cooler space or refrigeration isn’t reliable.

To prepare this dish, you’ll need a pot with steamer basket and lid, a medium sized skillet, and a medium-large mixing bowl and spoon.

Summer Solstice Rainbow Salad

1 bundle of fresh asparagus, woody ends removed, chopped into 1 inch long pieces
1 can of Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas), drained and rinsed
1/2 “red” onion (approximately 1 cup), diced. For rainbow-purposes we all know it is “purple.”
Green, Red, Yellow and/or Orange bell pepper, diced, a total of 4 cups
1 cup of finely minced fresh parsley
1 cup (dry measure) of pearled cous cous. (This is a larger form of cous cous, a small pasta, and the larger size is important for the texture of this salad. It can be found in the grocery store with the other dried rices and grains.)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for sauteing

Marinade:
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold-pressed and organic is preferred.
1/4 cup Bragg’s liquid Amino Acids (or low-sodium Tamari sauce) (usually found with the Asian foods, or barbecue sauces in the grocery store.)
3 teaspoons of cumin powder
3 teaspoons of chili powder
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup

Directions:
Steam the asparagus bites in your steamer basket over 2-3 cups of water, for about 10 minutes, until they are al dente (firm to bite, but no longer crunchy, but not mushy, either. Should remain bright green) Add them to your mixing bowl.

Reserve 1 1/4 cup of the boiling steam-pot water (now flavored with the asparagus drippings) return to heat, and add 1 cup of dry pearled cous cous. Cover and simmer on low for 8 minutes, or however long your package recommends. Remove from heat, add to the mixing bowl.

In the skillet on high heat, add a tablespoon or so of olive oil and allow to heat for a few moments. Add the onions and saute a minute. Add all the bell peppers, and saute for only 3 minutes more while stirring. Keep it moving and mixing with the onions, until they are heated through and tender-crisp. Remove from heat and add to mixing bowl. Add the fresh parsley and garbanzo beans to the mixture and fold it all together.

In a separate bowl, blend together the marinade ingredients. Pour over the salad in the mixing bowl and stir to thoroughly coat everything. Cover the bowl, and allow to marinade at room temperature for an hour or so. Stir again and taste it. I find that after the veggies and cous cous have absorbed the marinade, I sometimes like to add more lemon juice for more brightness, or more Bragg’s Aminos for more earthiness, or olive oil for richness. When in doubt, I add more black pepper.

Just to garnish and make it pretty, you can sprinkle the top with a little bit more chopped fresh parsley, and a dash of paprika or more a smidge more chili powder. You can now serve it and dig in, or refrigerate until its time to leave for the Litha feast.

Bright Litha Blessings!
~Heron Michelle

Vegan Recipes: Thai Autumn Squash Casserole

Thai Autumn SquashAt Thanksgiving this year, I set out to recreate my favorite holiday flavors as vegan dishes because I’d invited my sweetheart to join my family, and as far as I’m concerned, the way you love someone is to respect their personal choices in support of their health.  That being said, there is absolutely no reason that creative people must suffer through anything less than the yummiest of foods. You truly can have your vegan, gluten-free cake, and eat it too! Yes, we made a ham and deviled eggs for the omnivores, but on the side-dishes, going vegan was not only easy to do, but stunningly delicious! Necessity is the mother of invention!

I started this “Thai Autumn Squash” recipe as an answer to the age old “sweet potato casserole” requirement we seem to have in my family. I have never liked that dish, floating in marshmallows and cloyingly sweet. So, I began with the basic idea in my Autumn Harvest Bisque recipe, but rather than a soup, I aimed for a whipped and baked in a casserole dish idea. Plus, my sweetheart made some amazing tamari roasted pecans that I used as a topping!

Thai Autumn Squash Casserole (Vegan, gluten free)

3 acorn squash, prepared

1 butternut squash, prepared

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup diced onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin organic coconut oil

3 teaspoons yellow curry powder

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemongrass

1/3 cup mulled apple cider (mulled with clove, cinnamon, allspice and orange peel.)

1 cup coconut milk

6 tablespoons organic, gluten-free tamari sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon berbere powder, or paprika

1/4 cup maple syrup (Organic,Grade B is best.)

1 cup chopped sweet tamari pecans

Pull out your electric mixer, if you have one.

Ahead of time you can mull some apple cider by slowing warming on the stove, or in a crock pot, a gallon of apple cider with 1 tablespoon each of whole clove, whole allspice, and an orange peel, with 1 cinnamon stick. Let soak for a few hours, then remove the spices and enjoy as a warming holiday beverage, but save out 1/3 cup for the squash! Prepare your Sweet Tamari Pecans ahead of time, according to this recipe over at Lipbone Redding’s blog, but try not to eat them all! Save about 1/2 cup for the squash.

Autumn squashes are notoriously tough and difficult to peel. I think it is easiest to just prick the skin of the butternut squash with a fork a bunch of times, then put in the microwave on a plate, and cook on high for 5 minutes, then give it a cold bath in ice water. After it has cooled enough to touch, the peeling should strip away with a vegetable peeler pretty easily. Cut in half, scoop out and discard the seeds/pulp, then dice up the remaining squash. IMG_8409To prepare the acorn squash, I quarter them, scoop out and discard the pulp/seeds, then place raw side up in a casserole dish with about a 1/4 inch of water in the bottom, cover with foil, then bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour. Remove from oven, let cool. I then use a spoon to scoop out the squashy goodness, discarding the peels. IMG_8411Go ahead and peel/chop the apple, garlic, onion, ginger and lemongrass. In a large, deep skillet, (I used my electric skillet) heat up the coconut oil over medium high heat and saute the onions until glossy, then add the acorn and butternut squash. Saute for about 5 more minutes, then add the apple, garlic, curry, ginger and lemongrass and the mulled apple cider. Reduce heat to medium, and stir frequently for 5-10 more minutes as the liquid reduces and it caramelizes a bit. It is done when the apples are mashable.Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl, get out the electric mixer, if you have one.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With the electric mixer, whip the vegetable mixture with the coconut milk, tamari sauce, black pepper and berbere powder (or paprika) until smooth and fluffy. Taste-test and adjust salt and pepper to suit your preference. Spoon into a casserole dish and smooth flat. Sprinkle the chopped sweet tamari pecans evenly over the top, then drizzle the maple syrup over the top. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. VOILA! This recipe served 6-8 people with left-overs.

See also my Vegan Recipes: Marinated Collard Greens post.

Vegan Recipes: Marinated Collard Greens

When you invite someone you love over to dinner, it is only fair to try and accommodate their dietary needs and choices, yes? Well, I happen to love intrepid musician and vegan, Lipbone Redding, and preparing him delicious food is one of my favorite ways to show him how much I care about him. He is also a spectacular cook who keeps me fed with healthy, amazing meals all the time, so I decided to take my turn in the kitchen.

This Thanksgiving, I took on the challenge to create a feast fit for all the various omnivorous preferences of my family and friends, and I think I came up with some truly delicious and surprising vegan twists on traditional foods that, in my opinion, were better than anything I’ve made before, (delicious) animal products aside.  I’d like to share with you all the new recipes I’ve developed!

Over two days of feasts we served:

  • Spiral cut ham prepared by my friend Kari for the carnivores.
  • Deviled Eggs (Vegetarian)
  • Caprese Salad of grape tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil with a balsamic glaze (Vegetarian)
  • Marinated Collard Greens (Vegan)
  • Fusion Autumn Squash with Sweet Tamari Pecans (Vegan)
  • Mulled Fruit Compote (Vegan)
  • Whole Wheat Dressing with Mushroom Gravy (Vegan)
  • Beans and Barley (Vegan)
  • Baked Jack (Vegan)

Spicy Marinated Collard Greens

This recipe needs to be made at 24-48 hours prior to serving, as the collards are primarily “cooked” by the acid of the vinaigrette while refrigerating over-night.

Ingredients:

Two large bunches of fresh collard greens will make a LOT of cooked collards. I was serving 9 and intended to have left overs.

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, about 6 tablespoons
  • 2-3 Cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1/2 C. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1/2 C. Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 C. Organic, Gluten-free Tamari Sauce
  • 2 finely diced pickled Tabasco Peppers, plus 1/4 C. of the pepper vinegar
  • 3 Tbls. Whole Seed Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbls. Pure Maple Syrup (Start with 2, taste, and only add more if you like it sweeter, this depends on how hot your peppers are1)
  • 1 tsp. Berbere powder, a kind of smokey paprika from Ethiopia
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. sea salt

IMG_8406Directions:

Begin by washing the collard leaves thoroughly in a sink full of warm water and a healthy splash of white vinegar. Allow to mostly dry. Fold leaf in half along the thick spine, and cut the tough spine and stem away, discard. Stack three such leaves on top of each other, roll tightly and slice into thin ribbons, set aside in the largest mixing bowl you have, because there is going to be a lot of fresh leaves!
IMG_8407
After all leaves are prepared, heat a large wok, or frying pan, or in my case, an electric skillet, to medium high heat, and add about 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil, though I will admit that I just pour some into the pan without usually measuring. Add one pan worth of the greens, and with a pair of tongs, saute them, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes, then put a lid on the pan, and let steam for about 3 minutes more. Remove the cooked greens to a large, clean bowl. Repeat the process with another splash of olive oil, until all the greens are cooked and in the bowl. It took me 6 batches, so 6 splashes of Olive oil,  to cook them all. Stir all the batches together and allow to cool.

IMG_8405

I prepare the vinaigrette in a large, glass measuring cup, by adding all the remaining ingredients, then blending with a hand immersion blender, or you can add them all to a traditional blender, and puree them together. Pour about half the vinaigrette mixture over the greens, tossing to thoroughly spread the vinaigrette throughout.  Cover the greens tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.  Occasionally, take them out and stir them up to redistribute the vinaigrette throughout the greens.  The acid in the vinegars will continue to “cook” the greens, and the next day you will find that their color has deepened. This actually protects the vital nutrients, while allowing them to become more digestible.
IMG_8408

Prior to serving, I place them in a large saute pan over low heat, and allow them to warm on the stove, or in a crock pot over low. I pour the remaining vinaigrette mixture into a bottle with pour-spout and serve that with the greens, so people can add more as they desire. Test for taste and add more sea salt or black pepper to suit your tastes.

Enjoy!

Stay tuned for posts on these recipes:

  • Fusion Autumn Squash with Sweet Tamari Pecans (Vegan)
  • Mulled Fruit Compote (Vegan)
  • Whole Wheat Dressing with Mushroom Gravy (Vegan)
  • Beans and Barley (Vegan)
  • Baked Jack (Vegan)