There is no such a thing in traditional Japanese cuisine as a vegetarian nigiri sushi, except the nigiri with tofu skin (and omelette nigiri doesn’t use fish, but it can hardly be called vegetarian). For my sushi bar, which I owned between 2009 and 2013 I created many kinds of vegetarian nigiri – with roasted bell pepper, avocado, asparagus, shiitake mushrooms and sprouts to cater to the tastes of customers who aren’t fish lovers.
1 cup sushi rice, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 1/2 cups cold water, 1 red bell pepper, little sesame oil oil, several nori strips cut from a large sheet of nori, for serving: soy sauce, pickled ginger and wasabi.
Rince the rice until the water runs clear and place it in a rice cooker with the cold water. When the rice is cooked, let it stay for 10 minutes before lifting the lid.
Stir the rice gently with a spatula and fan the excess steam with a fan. Combine the rice vinegar and sugar and fold it gently into the rice. Let it stand for about 20 minutes to cool down, but not completely cold, as nigiri is better made with warmer rice.
Make as many oblong rice balls as you can using vynil gloves.
Meanwhile, cut the red bell pepper to diamond shapes large enough to cover the nigiri balls, toss them with a tiny bit of sesame oil and saute them in a cast iron pan. Smear a small amount of wasabi over each rice ball, place a piece of red pepper over them and secure each nigiri with a nori strip.
1 can mixed beans, 1/4 cup chopped purple onion, 1 roasted red pepper, 1 cup diced cucumber, 3 diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup sliced celery, 4 oz. cheese curds, extra virgin olive oil to taste, lemon juice to taste, salt and pepper to taste, chopped fresh parsley (optional).
1. Open the can of mixed beans, pour the beans in a colander, rinse off the original liquid and let it drain properly.
2. Put all the vegetables in a mixing bowl and season to taste with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
3. Cover the bowl and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes in order to cool and blend flavors.
4. Serve the mixed beans salad in salad bowls with the cheese on top.
Cooking tip: It’s much better if you roast a fresh red pepper for this salad as opposed to using one from a jar. Simply bake the pepper in the oven until the skin gets color and starts falling off, then put the pepper in a plastic bag for 10 minutes so you can peel it easily, then cut and use in the salad. Cheers.
1 lb. orzo pasta, 1 romaine lettuce heart, 1/4 cup chopped purple onion, 3 ripe tomatoes, diced, 10 green olives, pitted and sliced, 1/4 cup sunflower oil or light olive oil, 1/2 cucumber, diced, 1/2 lemon, juiced, 2 tablespoons light mayo, 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled, salt and pepper to taste.
1. Boil the orzo pasta according to package instructions, strain it, spread it thinly in a hotel pan or a tray and mix it with the oil. Let it cool down and then refridgerate for at least 30 minutes for the orzo to get cold. The oil serves two purposes – it’s part of the dressing, and it prevents the orzo from sticking together.
2. Cut the other ingredients and mix everything together with the cold orzo.
I love the texture of the orzo pasta salad compared to say penne, macaroni or fusilli pasta salad. It’s also more compact and presentable.
Cooking tip: You can give the orzo pasta some extra flavor by putting a few cubes of vegetable stock in the boiling water.
2 cups quinoa, 2 1/4 cups of water, 2 tbsp. EV olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped, 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup chopped celery, 1 cup chopped broccoli, 2 cups diced tomato, 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1/2 lemon, juiced, 4 tablespoons sunflower oil, salt and pepper to taste, 200 grams feta cheese.
1. Pour the EV olive oil in a heavy saucepan and saute the garlic, yellow onion and bell pepper for 5 minutes.
2. Add the quinoa, stir it in and immediately add the water. Cover the saucepan with a lid and reduce the heat to medium-low. It is even better if you cover the saucepan with aluminum foil first and then put the lid. Cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes or until ready. You can open the lid and check, but don’t do it often.
3. When the quinoa is ready spread it on a baking tray and let it cool down. When all the steam is gone stir it gently and put the tray in the fridge until the quinoa cools down completely.
4. In the meantime, cut the rest of the vegetables if you haven’t already done so.
5. Mix all the quinoa salad ingredients in a bowl and serve in 6 bowls. Crumble the feta cheese on top of the quinoa salads.
I cook my quinoa the same way I cook rice pilaf. If you would like to use the quinoa as a side dish you can replace the water in the recipe with chicken stock or vegetable stock. Even a spoon of butter wouldn’t be a bad idea if the quinoa is to be used as a side dish.
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