Friday, April 28, 2006

Seashells in the Sand

"I'm not usually one for 'cute' recipe names," says Nava Altas in
The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, but she made an exception for this clever combination of couscous and tiny shell pasta. Personally, I'm a big sucker for cutesy names, so I'm glad she did.

Next to the "seashells in the sand" is a dish of cooked frozen bean and vegetable medley (broccoli, carrots, and green, black, white, and kidney beans) and fresh organic strawberries. For dessert, I baked miniature pecan tarts. This was "take two" on trying to make a pecan pie with only barley malt syrup for sweetener. I came up with the idea during our attempt at a sugar-free Lent, but learned the hard way that barley syrup bubbles up to an alarming degree when baked.

Verdict: The tarts were a success -- nutty and chewy with a hint of cinnamon, and not teeth-shatteringly sweet like regular pecan pie (oh, how I love it). Just a few bites of shells and veggies were left. 4 stars.

P.S. As an update to yesterday's Zaru Soba, shmoo had soba for dinner and lunch, and wants to know if I can make it for dinner again! He never goes on "food jags" where he wants the same thing over and over (this is the boy who once walked in the kitchen at breakfast and whined, "Aw, pancakes again?? We just had them yesterday!"). So I am amazed. Zaru soba is like the sleeper hit of the lunch box.


jenny said...

If you're ever on the East Coast, Vegan Treats makes a killer pecan pie. It's so good I've eaten an entire 9" pie in one day.
for locations (mostly in NYC, Philly, and Georgia)

Abby said...

Hi Jennifer!
My 7 year old & I just looked at all of the meals for April, and she thought they all looked delicious! She especially wanted to try the caramelized tofu! She said it looked "yummy."
We are not vegan, we do however eat a natural diet, no articial anything, no preservatives, and no artificial colors/dyes. It's mostly organic, about 85%.

I've already grocery shopped for the week, but when I go again, tofu will be on my list. Thanks again for the inspiration!

Flo @ Yielded Heart said...

Funny, I was reading that from the cookbook the other day and my daughter caught the recipe's name. She thought that was really clever and suggested that we make it, and also come up with other mixes like that!

Asia said...

;p Seems even Shmoo is not immune to the power of soba! Does he like it any other way than the zaru soba? I love yakisoba.

Jennifershmoo said...

>>does the couscous and shells dish have any sort of seasoning?

Nothing fancy, basically margarine and salt & pepper, with options for other additions. It was tasty plain, and good for breakfast the next day with cinnamon and sugar.

>>What do you use to replace the eggs in a pecan pie? That has always had me stumped.

Most of the vegan recipes I've seen use cornstarch and egg replacer (like Ener-G, a mix available at health food stores). These tarts were basically homemade pecan butter mixed with some barley malt, so they were thick and didn't need egg replacement.

>>Does he like it any other way than the zaru soba? I love yakisoba.

I don't know. We'll have to try that next!

Copy Editor said...

Totally unrelated to this post, but a while back you made something out of "Nonna's Italian Kitchen" and I must say, I worship you for turning me on to that cookbook. I've made a few very tasty recipes from it and am sitting here right now with a huge plate of yellow risotto (meaning "super expensive risotto because it contains saffrom) and it's delicious. Yummm. So yeah, thanks for mentioning that book. :)

And today's lunch looks great. :)

High Power Rocketry said...

I love the pecans!


Jennifershmoo said...

Thanks for the cookbook recommendation, Laura! I'll add that to our collection!

KLN said...

Hi, I'm learning more about vegan and vegetarian cooking and eating. Your boxes are always so beautiful and happy, you've got me inspired!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just came across your blog and just love it! I love the idea of the vegan lunchbox. I am a vegetarian and have a food blog where I post a lot of vegetarian and vegan recipes. Drop in at if you get a chance!!


Alexandra said...

hmm. you mention that you used barley malt syrup when giving up sugar for lent. is there a reason that you considered barley malt syrup not sugar? is it significantly more nutritious than sugar?

Donna said...

I thought it was interesting that you liked the shells and couscous for breakfast. One of my favorite vegan restaurants makes couscous with sweetener (I like agave nectar), cinnamon, and very small, diced green apples. It makes a great dessert or breakfast!

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, Alexandra. Good question! Here's a website that helps explain my decision to use some barley malt syrup, when I ruled out almost every other sweetener besides fresh and (some) dried fruit:

It describes barley malt syrup as "about half as sweet as refined sugar", and it has a strong taste like dark molasses. You can only use a bit of it or it gets overwhelming.

It also passed my personal "I can't binge on this" test. I tried it and I comfortably walked away without eating the entire batch or obsessing about it. So that's how I knew that it wasn't acting like regular sugar does in my system. It didn't "trigger" me the way sugar, cane crystals, maple syrup, etc. does. Perhaps mixing it with the protein and fat of the pecans helped, too.