Vegan Mizeria

There is a Polish cucumber salad, that I just love, “Mizeria.” It’s pronounced almost sounding like it would promise misery but I promise you it’s doesn’t. It’s oh-so-creamy, refreshing and is usually served alongside a typical hearty Polish meal, such as a deliciously pan-fried pork cutlet served with chunks of buttery yellow potatoes. It’s a nice salad served at a buffet as it compliments almost every meal. It’s just heaven on a plate and topped with lots of fresh dill, makes it herby and gives it a lightness. It’s such a simple dish consisting of cucumbers, sour cream and dill and I thought making it vegan would be a nice change. I thought that substituting coconut milk for the sour cream would give the salad that signature creaminess and it did. But when opening a can of coconut milk, it usually doesn’t have that sour cream texture of dense white clouds begging to be scooped up with kettle cooked chips, so I had to improvise and remembered a great tip that I came across on the blog, “Pastry Affair.” (An affair it is, decadent recipes accompanied by sexy pictures of heavenly, buttery richness. Go there now.) It was a recipe to make a sweet coconut cream and it requires refrigerating the can of coconut milk for at least eight hours and then carefully flipping the can over, opening it and pouring off the top and whipping the rest. I omitted the sugar and vanilla, added lemon juice and make a surprising bowl of sour cream. I think I need to experiment on this one a little bit but I loved it enough to make it again and it satisfied that mizeria craving. Enjoy!

  • 3/4 pound kirby cucumbers (about 5), peeled and sliced thin, (a mandoline works great for this.)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • a little less than a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • a handful of fresh dill, minced plus more for garnish
  • sea salt

Begin by gently salting your cucumbers, tossing them and allow them to sit while you make your “sour cream.” As explained above, take your can out of the fridge and flip it over, open your can of coconut milk and pour off the top liquid which is more of a creamy coconut water and reserve for another use. What’s left is the consistency of a thick creamy soup with the bottom holding more of the coconut cream. I think it really depends of what kind of coconut milk you use. I’ve opened a can of coconut milk and it was very watery and some were oh-so-thick. The bottom should measure out about 3/4 of a cup. Using a hand held immersion blender, blend with the lemon juice, until it is about the thickness of sour cream. Take a paper towel and run it through the cucumbers, so you dry them. Combine the cucumbers, “sour cream” and minced dill. Season as needed with more salt and garnish with fresh dill. Serves about 4. Double the recipe as needed.

DSC03424/vegan mizeria

Creamy Cannellini Bean Salad

Macaroni salad lovers, you won’t miss the pasta once you have this cannellini bean salad! It’s nice and creamy, a little tangy and then you get a bite with a little bacon and you say, “What macaroni salad?” and the glutenous macaroni that you once pined for is a distant memory. That’s right, a distant memory. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is! Enjoy!

  • 3 1/2 cups cannellini beans soaked overnight or about 6 cups cooked
  • 1 Kirby cucumber, finely shredded and squeezed dry
  • 1/2 cup minced sorrel leaves
  • 2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic pear infused vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • squeeze of about half a lemon
  • a pinch or two of chili flakes
  • sea salt
  • ground black pepper

Combine all of the ingredients and mix well. Adjust the seasoning as needed. (If you can’t find sorrel leaves, just add a little lemon zest.) Garnish with a little shredded sorrel leaf or chili flakes. Makes a nice big bowl, great for a party and it’s even better the next day.

Cucumber & Radish Salad

Just in case anyone wanted to make a quick cucumber & radish salad to have with yesterdays’ post, “Grilled Porgy with Potato Chip Crumbs,” here it is! It’s such a simple salad to make, but it compliments the fish in such a way, that it leaves you nicely satisfied. Try to use garden fresh cucumbers, but if the seeds bother you, you can certainly use seedless cucumbers. The dressing is just olive oil and crunchy sea salt, it’s so simple and so fresh! Enjoy! And I hope you are enjoying your first weekend of fall! :)

  • thinly sliced cucumber slices, halved
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • radish sprouts
  • good extra virgin olive oil
  • crunchy sea salt, like Maldon

There are no amounts in this recipe because really it’s depending on how big of a platter or plate you are using. And how much you like radishes and the sprouts, they can be pretty bitter. Begin by layering the cucumber slices, top with the radish slices and the sprouts. Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and top with the sea salt. If making this ahead of time, dress with olive oil when ready to eat, so the radishes don’t lose their crunch.

Ziti with Creamed Cucumbers, Mushrooms & Sun Dried Tomatoes

Sauteed cucumbers tossed in a creamy sauce with sun dried tomatoes and earthy mushrooms combined with ziti hits the spot quickly on a busy night! It’s a special little dish that will put a smile on your face. :)

  • 1/4 pound ziti rigati, cooked al dente
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, peeled and quartered to about the length of the ziti
  • 5 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cut julienned sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil
  • 3 oz. heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  •  sea salt & freshly ground pepper
  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a colander salt the cucumbers and let them sit for about 20 minutes to draw the liquid out of them. Take a paper towel and pat them dry. In a dutch oven, melt the butter until it sizzles on medium heat, add in the cucumber until they brown lightly. Stir in the mushrooms until they brown and cooked. Next stir in the sun dried tomatoes with a little of the olive oil and saute for a few minutes. Add in the heavy cream and bring to a boil until it thickens. Season as needed with salt and fresh ground pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta and combine well. This serves 2, top with fresh Parmesan cheese and enjoy!