Category Archives: Vegetables

Rainbow Salad with Citrus Dressing… It’s like a Party in a Bowl!

One thing I can promise you, if you make this rainbow salad with citrus dressing, it’s like a party in a bowl! I’ve never said this before about a salad, but it will make you feel like you are on vacation in the islands. How did I come up with a rainbow salad? While I do love creating new and interesting salads, I can’t really take full ownership. I first saw it at a restaurant and it’s the only time I can think of when I had salad envy – if that’s even possible!

Okay, here’s the whole story… I was visiting my friend Susie in Pittsburgh, and we went out to lunch. She took me to a Caribbean restaurant in the Strip District called Kaya. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was so happy to see her and catch up, the menu definitely took second place. I quickly ordered a salad with green apples, goat cheese, and candied walnuts with salmon on top – delish – right? I was quite happy with my choice… until our salads arrived!

Susie ordered the most glorious and colorful rainbow salad I had ever seen. I somehow felt my salad was inferior and I was a little jealous. While mine was very good, it certainly wasn’t a rainbow! For a few moments, I couldn’t concentrate on the conversation. I wondered how I could have let this happen. Did I miss reading all of those ingredients on the menu?

The salad was arranged like a color wheel and as an artist, I felt I let myself down. Facing me was the papaya, I LOVE papaya! There were tomatoes, plantains, pepita seeds (pumpkin), red pepper, avocado, you name it – a feast for the eyes! I love a salad that is not lettuce heavy, and contains a lot of different fruits and vegetables. This salad certainly did that. Susie offered we share both of our salads, but I decided to stick with mine and enjoy the rest of our visit.

That was a couple of months ago and in true Sherri form, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. My mission now was to recreate it. How do I begin? With any recipe I create, there are various ways I go about getting started. In this case, I made a list of ingredients from Kaya’s menu online. Next, in a Google search I checked to see if there were any images. I remembered how it was arranged, but needed a refresher. I found a couple of great photos and started from there. With this information, I made the first version and it was delicious! I knew I didn’t have all of the ingredients it called for, and probably not the right quantities, but it didn’t matter. Below is a photo of the first attempt. I prepared it in a large bowl and it was a great presentation.

This week I found myself in the mood to make the salad again. I went online again and this time, I found a recipe from the restaurant itself – jackpot!

About some of the ingredients… My first attempt wasn’t too far off from the original even quantity wise. One of the ingredients I subbed is the Malanga. It’s not an easy vegetable to find unless you are in the Strip District where the variety of fruits and vegetables are in abundance! The first time, I used jicama and it was delicious adding a nice juicy punch. This time I did a little more research and found out Malanga is a root vegetable from South America. It is likened to a potato so I tried a white sweet potato as to keep the color of the original salad. While very different from each other, both jicama and the sweet potato are delicious in the salad. If you can’t find either, you can also use a regular sweet potato.

I’m allergic to mango so I subbed nectarines which were a perfect exchange. Feel free to use 1 cup mango if you like it. I also omitted the jalapeno and red onion. I don’t care for either in a salad –personal preference. I did amp up the green onion, and added a pinch of cayenne in the dressing to compensate for their omission. The original salad also had toasted garlic. I made garlic chips for the first salad, but felt it overpowered the rest of the ingredients so omitted for this version.

Before you get started, don’t be afraid of the list. I know it seems like a lot of ingredients. One quick stop to Trader Joe’s should get you just about everything you need including a bag of already julienned carrots and the plantain chips! From start to finish, it only took about 40 minutes including grilling a protein. It’s really worth the time and truly is a vacation in a bowl. Who doesn’t need that every now and then?

It has so many different flavors and textures that make it really amazing. Of course you can alter it to how you like (as I did) and change things around a bit. One thing for sure, it’s a real showstopper. It’s great for lunch or dinner, would be perfect for a dinner party and at this time of year, a great salad to eat in the Sukkah! Enjoy!

For underneath the rainbow of vegetables:

1 head romaine lettuce for each salad, washed very well, dried well and chopped
about 2 cups in each bowl
Add to the lettuce:
1 handful parsley or cilantro, leaves only
1 handful basil cut in a ribbon (roll the leaves into a cigar and slice)
1 cup green onions (scallions) finely sliced
1 handful mint (optional)
make sure to wash these ingredients very well. If you want, you can reserve a little of each to sprinkle on top.

For the top of the salad:
1 cup julienne carrots (shredded would be fine too)
2 nectarines cut into chunks (or 1 cup mango)
1 cup cherry or heirloom tomatoes cut in half
1 cup fresh papaya peeled and diced
1 cup English cucumber diced (you can peel it if you don’t like the peel)
1 cup red pepper diced
2 cups white sweet potato
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned are great too, rinse and drain)
1 cup plantain chips (left whole or crushed and sprinkled)
2 avocados sliced
¼ cup sesame seeds (I used black & white because I had it on hand)
1/2 cup pepita seeds (pumpkin seeds)
fried onions (optional)
2 limes cut in half to be served with each salad

Grilled Chicken, Salmon, or Steak (I grilled the chicken and salmon while I prepped the vegetables)

Citrus Vinaigrette:
Zest and juice of 2 oranges (pineapple juice can be subbed here)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 roasted garlic cloves (1 raw finely grated would work well)
1 to 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
¾ cup good extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 teaspoon of each)
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Add zest and juices with garlic into a blender or food processor. After the citrus is blended, while pureeing, drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also added a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little kick.

To Begin:
There are a couple of ways you can cook the sweet potato. You can steam it, sauté or roast it like I did. Heat oven (I used a toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Peel and dice sweet potato, toss in a little olive oil and put it on a sheet pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until you can pierce it with a fork.

If adding a protein:
Get your grill or grill pan hot. Season the meat or fish with salt and pepper and grill until done.

While that is cooking, prep all of your other ingredients.

Toss the lettuce base with some of the vinaigrette, just to season. Place in the middle of 4 plates or large bowls. Arrange the other ingredients on top – around the bowl. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and plantains on top. Serve with ½ lime for each salad. I hid it under the  pile of plantains! The restaurant link I have included actually gives a diagram on how to arrange the salad. I did my own thing. It was complicated enough with all of the ingredients. However you place the ingredients, it will be beautiful! I’m so excited for you to try it!



Lights Out Summer Gazpacho


I have to admit, lights out summer gazpacho is a funny name for a recipe. It’s definitely not the original name I came up with. However, 10 minutes after I finished photographing this beautiful soup, I put it in the refrigerator, went upstairs to write this post and the lights went out in my house! The computer shut down and my post was lost. What would happen to my delicious gazpacho? I ran downstairs and poured myself a bowl. Topped with some avocado, cucumber and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, this cool refreshing soup took my mind off how hot my house was! It was the perfect dinner. I think the blackout worked to my advantage – and yours. The other story I wrote was quite long! You will be happy to know that a mere 3 hours later my lights were back on and the gazpacho was just fine. Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup, made with tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and onions. It takes less than 30 minutes to put it all together and only gets better with age. There aren’t too many soups you can say that about.

I don’t know about you, but among the many staples I have in my kitchen, are onions, garlic, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and tomato juice. With these few ingredients you are always ready for a Bloody Mary (just add vodka) can make everything from a tzadziki dip (just add Greek yogurt!), roasted vegetables, add cheese and bread and make a panini, and of course this quick, easy and delicious gazpacho.

One thing I like most about living in the Midwest is the amount of local farms around. Throughout the year we go blueberry picking and apple picking which can’t be beat! Whenever possible, I like to buy my produce at the farmer’s market where you can find the most amazing and beautiful varieties of vegetables. In this recipe, I used Roma a.k.a. plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes but you can substitute any kind of tomato. I have made it with heirloom, which I know can be expensive but worth the flavor it adds, tomatoes on the vine, cherry tomatoes, or a mixture of several varieties. During the summer, you can find sweet and delicious Vidalia onions – use them for everything! In Georgia they say people eat them like they would a peach as they are so sweet. Two fun little facts: they are Georgia’s official state vegetable – and I’m a huge fan!

Aside from the weekly farmer’s markets we have throughout the summer, there are local farms you can go to for picked that day produce. The one I frequent most is Smith Farm Market in Gahanna, Ohio. They are very conveniently located and open 8 months out of the year. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where you can go straight to the source for your fruits and vegetables you should make the effort, there is nothing like fresh farm grown fruits and vegetables… Enjoy!


4 plum tomatoes
1 pint red teardrop tomatoes
2 bell peppers (any combination of red, yellow or orange)
1 English (aka hot house cucumber) cut in 1/2 and seeded
1 sweet onion cut into large pieces (if vidalia onions are in season, use them!)
4 cups low sodium tomato juice (I use Trader Joe’s low sodium Garden Patch)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
3 to 4 cloves of garlic minced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
hot sauce (optional)

Garnishes: avocado, croutons or oyster crackers, finely diced cucumber, sliced olives, feta cheese or grilled fresh corn kernals.


How vibrant and beautiful are these peppers from the farmer’s market?


Cut the tomatoes, peppers and onions into approximately 1″ pieces. Slice and take the seeds out of the cucumber. Mince the garlic and add to the onion. Put the vegetables into the food processor one at a time and pulse until it’s coarsely chopped. Don’t process it too fine. Then after you process each vegetable, add it to a large bowl or pot.

Add the tomato juice, vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Mix well and chill before serving. You can top it with any of the garnishes suggested or come up with one of your own.

This recipe makes 6 to 8 servings.


Delicious Cream Filled Chocolate Cupcakes and oh, by the way… They’re Vegan!


7, 270 cyclists took to the streets of Columbus, Ohio this past weekend to raise money for cancer research. You can read more about this amazing organization on Pelatonia’s website. One of those riders is my friend Hilary. She is 18 years old and rode 100 miles raising $1,800. Not only was she one of the youngest people to ride, she was also the only one on a mountain bike, which she was told is the equivalent of running a marathon in flip-flops! As a bike rider myself, I don’t know how she did it! Somehow, she did and you can see by the smile on her face how happy she was to finish! What an amazing girl!


I am so proud of her, I wanted to do something special to celebrate her accomplishment. I already donated money for her ride; now I wanted to do something just for her. You already know I’m all about the baking! Even more than that, I love to share it with people and make them happy. My only challenge – Hilary recently became a vegan. Her path to a healthier lifestyle started gradually, first she was a pescatarian (a vegetarian who will also eat fish), then a vegetarian (no meat, fish or seafood, but dairy is okay), and now, a vegan (a vegetarian diet that also eliminates all animal byproducts). To a baker that means no milk, eggs or butter or dairy of any kind!

Although I have never baked anything vegan, I have baked many things without dairy products, making them parve in the kosher world. I figured if Hilary can ride a bike for 100 miles, surely I can bake a vegan dessert! I was up for the challenge!


Now, where did I find this delicious recipe you ask? It is straight from Chloe Coscarelli’s cookbook Chloe’s Kitchen. She is an adorable baker and cook, who also happens to be a vegan! I first heard of her when she won Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. The judges were very surprised that her cupcakes were vegan. I immediately went to the library to check out a copy of her cookbook.

I found “Chlostess” Cream-Filled Cupcakes and even though the cupcake had three components, it seemed simple enough. You can see by the fluffy cream filling, shine of the glaze and tender crumb of the cupcake, they are going to be good and something special! I will tell you that once I got started I was surprised how easy they were to make. This recipe is adapted from Chloe Coscarelli’s Cookbook and it was so good, I’d like to say I didn’t change a thing, but had to according to ingredients I had on hand. I wrote her recipe and my changes in parenthesis. I may have reworded it a little, but the recipe is the same. They are truly delicious and you don’t miss the eggs or butter. If you’re a vegan or not, you’ll love these.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold coffee or water (I used decaf)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract


Creme Frosting Filling:
1 cup non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (find this in a health food store, or section of your grocery)
3 cups powdered sugar (also called confectioner’s sugar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 5 tablespoons soy, almond, or rice milk (I used almond milk*)
1/2 teaspoon salt (this is my splash on her recipe, I like a little salt in my frosting)


Chocolate Ganache Glaze
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy free)*
1/4 cup canned coconut milk, mixed well before measuring (I didn’t have coconut milk and used almond milk which worked fine)
2 tablespoons canola oil

To make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with 15 cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together coffee, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk until just combined. Don’t over-mix.

Fill the cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. For this step I use an ice cream scoop so that all the cupcakes will be the same size. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It’s okay if a few crumbs are clinging to the toothpick. Cool the cupcakes completely before frosting. I made the frosting while the cupcakes were baking.

To make the cream frosting: Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat the shortening until smooth. With the mixer running on low, add powdered sugar one cup at a time, alternating with 1 tablespoon nondairy milk until frosting reaches a nice spreadable consistency. Add vanilla extract and beat on high for 2 more minutes until light and fluffy.

To make the Chocolate Ganache: Melt chocolate chips, canola oil, and coconut milk (remember, I used almond milk in this step) in a double boiler or microwave. Whisk until smooth.

To assemble the cupcakes: Fit a pipping bag*** with a small round tip and fill with the creme frosting. I used a rosette tip and it worked very well. Insert the tip into the center of the top of each cupcake and squeeze the bag to fill the cupcake with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of frosting. Be careful when you are filling them. My first one exploded! Level off the frosting that sneaks out on top. Then, spread the top of each cupcake with a thin layer of chocolate ganache.

In another piping bag fitted with a small tip, add 4 tablespoons of the frosting and pipe a 4 loop design.

*The almond milk I used has 4 percent fat

**There are several dairy-free brands of chocolate chips. Look in a health food store or section of your grocery. If you can’t find them there, check the kosher section of your grocery. They will be labeled Parve, meaning they do not contain any dairy products.

***If you don’t have a piping bag, use a gallon size Ziploc bag, cut the tip of the bag off and insert the piping tip.





Homemade Russian Dressing Recipe


When I was growing up, I don’t remember vegetables having a starring role at our dinner table. Sure we had corn on the cob, green beans, or peas and carrots, but mostly I remember salad before most meals or a half of a grapefruit with a maraschino cherry on top. For the salad, my mom would cut a head of iceberg lettuce into wedges and serve them with some cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumbers on the side. This was nothing fancy, but with the addition of her homemade Russian dressing – it was delicious! It’s a great dip for vegetables, everyone loves it (especially children), it’s easy, contains ingredients you probably have in your refrigerator, it is non-dairy, and you can even use it as a spread for turkey sandwiches!

It’s a staple on my table with raw vegetables at least 3 nights a week and something my boys always agree on. However you decide to try my mom’s homemade Russian dressing, I hope you Enjoy!

2/3 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise (I use regular but you could use light or low fat)
1/3 cup Heinz ketchup
1 to 2 teaspoons of water

Optional #2 Variations
1 teaspoon garlic powder or
1 to 2 teaspoons no salt seasoning (I use Costco’s Kirkland brand Organic no salt seasoning)

Option #3 Thousand Island dressing
Add 1/8 cup of sweet relish to the first four ingredients and omit the options.

In a small bowl mix the mayonnaise till creamy, then add the ketchup and mix together. You can adjust the ratio of mayo to ketchup depending on how you like it. If you are using it as a dip for vegetables, you’ll want it on the thicker side. If you are planning to using as a dressing over lettuce, add a splash of water until it’s the consistency you like.

When making either of the variations in #2, you’ll want it to sit for about 1/2 hour for the flavors to blend.

Bar and Grill Veggie Burger with Secret Sauce


I tried to start this blog with a funny headline but no one in my family laughed. First I thought “A veggie burger walks into a bar and gets sauced” . . . . . . . . get it, . . . . . . . because of the secret sauce? When that didn’t work I simplified it with “A veggie burger walks into a bar… ba – dum – bump!” While it made me laugh, and I think my sister-in-law Barbara would appreciate it, my family heckled me to the point that I just wrote what it is – a veggie burger recipe! Wait, here comes my husband chiming in with a joke of his own! I’d better start writing this post…

A friend of mine told me she went to a restaurant last week and when she asked about the veggie burger on the menu the waiter said it was a frozen Morningstar Farms black bean burger. She was horrified to learn they use a frozen burger you can buy in the grocery. Plus, it’s not the healthiest and definitely not fresh tasting. She inquired as to why they didn’t have a house-made one and they said they’ve never found a good recipe for one. I find it difficult to believe in today’s day and age they couldn’t find a really good recipe or come up with one of their own. She told them they should take it off the menu, and I agree.

One thing you’ll learn about me pretty quickly is that I love good veggie burgers – and, I can be a bit of a snob about them! Even the frozen brands, that’s why I like to make them myself. I don’t like the kind that pretends to be meat. I like the ones where you can see the vegetables and grains. You know the kind that say “hey look at me! I’m healthy and delicious!” Here in Columbus, we’re lucky to have Northstar Cafe where their veggie burger reigns supreme! It’s filled with brown rice, black beans and beets, it’s very different and very delicious! Bare Burger (an up and coming NY chain) has a few vegetarian burger options, including mushroom and quinoa and recently opened in town. Sad is the restaurant that serves a frozen brand when they are so easy to make.


I was watching a show on the Food Network the other day featuring a bar and grill. All of the customers were raving about their veggie burger. The chef was making what he called bar food kicked up a notch. A few days later, I watched the show again, wrote down all of the ingredients and then tried to figure out the quantities of each component. I substituted shredded hash browns for mashed potatoes in the original to keep calories down and for simplicity, however, if you have leftover mashed potatoes, go for it and use that instead.

I must have done a great job because everyone in my family loved them. Everyone from my son who is a pescatarian (vegetarian who will eat fish), my other son who is a carnivore (meat lover), and my husband who is an adventurous eater as long as there is a good sauce. Then there’s me, I’m a bit of a wild card. My diet is different from everyone in my family. I am happy with a piece of grilled salmon on a salad any day of the week! While I enjoy a good burger, I can’t remember the last time I actually had one. I usually opt for a turkey burger, tuna burger, and obviously a veggie burger!

So here you have it, my version of an upscale bar food veggie burger, I hope you Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out if you make it! Oh, and while I don’t think it needs cheese, if you just have to have it, select something like fontina, brie, or port salut; mild and creamy that won’t take away from the deliciousness of the burger.


1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 red pepper diced fine
1 cup shredded frozen hash brown potatoes (or mashed potatoes if you have them on hand)
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup cooked barley
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup scallions sliced thin both green and white parts
2 teaspoons – no salt seasoning
1 extra large egg (omit if you want to keep it vegan and add extra potato)
1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
canola or light olive oil to pan fry the burgers

Use a good lettuce like crispy frisée or spicy arugula or mixture of both
sliced tomato
slices of avocado

1 soft challah roll, ciabatta roll, or pita
1 to 2 tablespoons of special secret sauce (recipe follows)


While the barley and rice are cooking, prepare everything else. It took about 1/2 an hour to assemble and another 15 to cook. Cook the barley according to package directions. I purchased mine from Trader Joe’s and it was a quick cooking barley that took only 10 minutes. Cook the brown rice according to directions on the package as well.

While they are cooking, assemble all of your other ingredients. Dice the red pepper in a small dice, and slice the scallions finely. Measure the shredded potatoes (I used the Trader Joe’s shredded hash brown potatoes), peas and corn and place in a large bowl then set aside. Finely shred 2 or 3 carrots (depending on size to make a cup). Do the same with the zucchini. I like to buy smaller zucchini when I can find them, they have less seeds and are less watery. It’s okay if your measurements aren’t exact. If it’s a little more or less of an item, it will still turn out well. Just don’t overdo it, keep well within the recipe guidelines especially the first time you make it. Then make it your own!




Into the bowl with the potatoes, peas, and corn, add the rice while it is hot and it will defrost the other ingredients and cool down the rice. Rinse the barley and add that in as well. Next, add in the shredded carrots, zucchini, red pepper, and scallions, Mix well with a fork. Add the salt, pepper and no-salt seasoning and stir gently. Side note here… I like the Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning from Costco or Trader Joe’s 21 Salute, but any no-salt seasoning you like will do.

Add in the egg, mix and then add in the breadcrumbs until everything just comes together enough that you can make a patty.  I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out the portions so they would all be the same size. Mold the patties tightly so that they’ll stay together and place on a plate.


Heat a large frying pan or griddle with a couple of tablespoons of canola or extra light olive oil on medium heat. When the oil starts to bubble, place the burgers into the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side – approximately 6 – 8 minutes a side.

This recipe makes approximately 10 burgers and they freeze very well. Just make sure to individually wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and then place in a zipper bag in the freezer. The only problem is that these are so good, they’ll never make it to the freezer!



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