Cannellini Bean and Asparagus Salad with Mushrooms

Cannellini Bean Asparagus Salad with Mushrooms

After an uncommonly cool spring, it is suddenly blazing hot here in southwestern Ontario. So this means that salads are in order, both to cool and refresh the palate and to avoid hovering over a hot stove for lengthy periods of time. This sudden heat wave also happens to coincide with the beginning of asparagus season here, and that happens to be my husband's favorite vegetable.

Asparagus is delicious on its own with just a little lemon juice and salt, of course, but it also pairs wonderfully with simple flavors as a backdrop — think potatoes, for example. For this salad, tender cannellini beans serve as the backdrop to a serving of lightly steamed crunchy asparagus tossed in a lively and creamy lemon, tarragon and grainy mustard dressing. And mushrooms are my weakness, so I added them into the mix. It all comes together for a simple but elegant and satisfying summer meal, served up with some crusty bread.

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Vegan Cauliflower and Broccoli Mornay

Vegan Cauliflower and Broccoli Mornay

I haven't made broccoli Mornay for ages, but it's a classic baked cheese and vegetable casserole. Oddly enough, though, I dreamed about this dish the other night, giving me an instant craving. But this time around, I wasn't content to make the classic Cheddar version … too much cheese has proved not to be too good for my tummy these days. But I've had terrific success lately "veganizing" old cheese-and-vegetable standards with the help of sauces made with cashews and nutritional yeast. These are a marvelous substitute for cheese, and far better in every way than rubbery vegan cheese-like products made from soy!

I was especially delighted with the result, and so were my dinner companions who thought it might have been even better than the original Cheddar version. This creamy casserole topped with a golden crunchy cornmeal and chopped nut topping ended up tasting cheesy without any actual cheese. It's an ideal side vegetable dish, especially when served with plump goat cheese biscuits. Rice is also a good choice, along with your favorite legume dish.

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Red Kidney Bean Jambalaya

Kidney Bean Jamalaya

This thick and hearty vegetable stew is a vegetarian version of the classic spicy Cajun jambalaya stew loaded with red kidney beans, brown rice and plenty of vegetables. And once the beans are cooked, it's essentially a simple one-pot meal with everything you need for a complete meal. The Cajun blend of herbs really complements everything in the dish and it makes a fair amount too so you can share with friends and have leftovers besides. Adjust the hot sauce according to taste, and be sure not to skip the liquid smoke as it adds an essential flavor.

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No Croutons Required - Calling out for Vegetarian Soups and Salads

It's my turn to host No Croutons Required this month. Alternately hosted by my good friend Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen, this event features vegetarian soups and salads.

It seems spring has finally arrived, so I expect we will be seeing more salads than soups, but those bloggers rolling into cooler temperatures will perhaps submit some soups.

It is easy to take part. Simply post a soup or salad on your blog. The few rules are only one submission per blogger and it must be vegetarian. Please link back to this announcement, Lisa's Kitchen and also Jacqueline's blog.

Then, add your recipe using the linky tool at the end of this post. Very much looking forward to all of the inspired creations this time around.