I appreciate the challenge people face when they invite a vegan to dinner, and they're not used to cooking without animal products, so I don't flinch (much) when faced with the culinary challenges posed by my guests. Recently, I welcomed a guest who eats no onions, no legumes, no no spices, and very few vegetables. I love her so I did my best to accommodate, while still providing food choices the other spice-loving, vegetable devouring guests would enjoy.
The guest of honor requested pasta, so I made a warm pasta dish using quinoa pasta. The dish contained halved grape tomatoes, zucchini spears, sliced mushrooms, kalamata olives, garlic, fresh basil, Italian parsley, toasted walnuts, olive oil, and a touch of coarse sea salt. The veggies were lightly cooked and large enough to be easily picked out if necessary. I had also planned to include browned tofu in a small dice, but completely forgot about it. Along with a big green salad brought by one of the other guests, she had a complete meal that she could eat.
We also had a platter of roasted vegetables with carrots, sweet potatoes, eggplant, turnip, celariac and brussels sprouts — something for everyone — and a warm lima bean salad. I recently read that lima beans are good for your bones, so I disregarded the fact that I've never been fond of limas, and used them in a dish. Now I think that lima beans taste good!
I made the pasta and lima beans the way I often do, by first thinking about how I wanted the final dish to taste, then deciding what ingredients were needed to get the taste I was after. Then I wrote down a list of ingredients so I wouldn't forget them. I did manage to forget the tofu for the pasta, but usually this cooking plan works well for me — except when I want to reproduce a recipe. I have a pretty good idea what was in the lima beans so a recipe of sorts for that dish will appear below.
For dessert we had another golden cake, since I'm still experimenting with pan sizes and frosting ingredients. I used an 8x3-inch straight-sided pan, and it was about 1-inch too high. Now I think an 8x2-inch would be perfect and I'm kind of worried I'm going to own every pan size available before I'm done! Is there a cure for cake pan addiction?
The cake decorations were modest, as usual, but look how pretty the cake looks. At least I think it looks pretty. I used two sweet potatoes in the chocolate-sweet potato frosting — didn't measure but I estimate about 1-1/2 cups of mashed potato. I think I'm addicted to this frosting, originated by the recipe-creator extraordinaire, Ricki Heller. Thank you, Ricki!!! (The next time I make this cake I'm going to add orange zest to the batter.)
Warm lima bean salad (no added oil)
serves 10-12 as a side dish, with leftovers
The amounts in this recipe are flexible and open to interpretation.
- 1-1/2 cups dried baby lima beans, soaked overnight, drained, rinsed and cooked with fresh water, then drained (or 2 to 3 16-ounce cans cooked lima beans, rinsed and drained)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons stone ground prepared mustard
- 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (or 2 tablespoons dark evaporated cane juice)
- 2 large carrots, small dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 2 cloves garlic, minced, (about two teaspoons)
- 1 can artichoke hearts in water, drained, rinsed if desired, quartered
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1-1/2 cups thinly sliced green onions
- 1-1/2 cups chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, or to taste
- Cook the lima beans in your preferred way. You can simmer them in a large, covered pot until they are tender, or cook them in a pressure cooker. The pot will take about two hours, and the pressure cooker will take five to seven minutes. You could also buy them already cooked, in a can. (two to three cans) If you cook the beans, save the cooking liquid to use as soup stock.
- Make the dressing by mixing together the lemon juice, mustard and sugar.
- In a large skillet or wok, steam the garlic, carrots, corn, peas and artichokes in about 1/4 cup of water until the carrots are bright orange and a little tender, and the frozen veggies are cooked, about three to five minutes. Add more water if needed but aim to have all the water evaporate.
- Add the drained beans and cumin. Cook until beans are warm.
- Turn off the heat and mix in the onions, parsley, and dressing.
- Add the salt, to taste.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.