Mexindian Summer Salad

While I love to cook, the summer heat causes me to avoid using the the stove and oven as much as possible. Instead, I opt for fresh produce that I can chop and mix without applying heat. This isn't too difficult when you cook with mostly beans and vegetables.

This one has a really nice sauce that has two of my favorite spices: paprika and turmeric. I love this combination. It's a really accessible way to quickly introduce heaps of flavor and depth. Especially if you're not that comfortable with combining a lot of spices. This simplifies it, but still keeps it interesting. 

It's easy to put together too. Just combine all ingredients and let rest in the fridge overnight. This allows time for the tomatoes to release their juices, the acid to wake up the spices and the starches from the beans to thicken the sauce. 

Vegan cooking is a unique situation. Traditional techniques don't necessarily work. We have to approach the ingredients from a different perspective in order …

Six Pepper Barley and Lentil Risotto

This is a heartier riff on traditional risotto with a sweet and spicy broth. A range of hot chiles create a depth of heat and some sweet onions and bell pepper balance things out.

It has a spanish backbone with a hint of mexican. As usual, it's vegan.

I've been back on the vegan bandwagon for a little while now. Not that I ever strayed that far from it. But the challenge of creating interesting food without butter and cheese has been a lot of fun.

1 red bell pepper
1 poblano pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 serrano pepper
1/4 habernero pepper
3 dry japanese chilies
1/2 cup vidalia onoin
1/4 cup scallions
3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 cup lentils

1/2 cup white wine
1 tsp olive oil
4-5 cups water
2 tsps each salt black pepper
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika

Cook down all the fresh peppers, onion, scallion and garlic with the salt and pepper and oil on high heat until fragrant. About 8 minutes. Add dry barley and lentils and toast for 3 minutes. Stirring often.

De glaze pan with wine.

Add water 2 cups at a time. Add thyme, paprika and Japanese chile's. I found these dried chiles in the Latin spice section of the supermarket shelved alongside the chile's de arbol and the guajillos. I broke them open and desseded before adding. The bag said very hot, but they weren't very hot to me. Your experience may differ.

Traditional risotto is, of course, cooked using broth - not water. But since we have all these wonderful peppers and onions and garlic in our pan we're essentially creating the broth as we add the water. Unlike animal bones, which take time to give up their flavors to the water, veggies tend to release their essence into the water much faster.

Simmer and stir to tenderize the barley and lentils like you're cooking risotto. As the liquid is absorbed keep adding water and stirring until they are softened and there is still a nice amount of orange sauce in the pan.