Peanut, Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew

This is a very easy, creamy, and yummily filling stew from the Peas and Thank You cookbook. I added spinach for extra nutrients.

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BBQ Tofu and Pineapple Pizza

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted and I have a million excuses why. I won’t bore you with them, though. Instead, I’ll post a pic of my latest delicious meal: BBQ tofu pizza with pineapple, caramelized onions and cilantro.

The recipe is from my new favorite cookbook, Chloe’s Kitchen, by the vegan chef who won Cupcake Wars against other non-vegan cupcake competitors. Check it out!

Categories: Dinner, Indulgence | Leave a comment

Update… and Promise to Blog Again Soon!

Hello to my lovely handful of readers. I want to apologize for the hiatus I have taken from blogging. It has been a very busy fall season and blogging fell off my to-do list. I’ve also been pondering my vision for this blog and where I want to take it. To do that, sometimes you need to step away. If you have any ideas or suggestions for what you what to find in my blog, please let me know in the comments section! In the meantime, I’ll start to ponder and blog at the same time. I promise I’ll be back this weekend to post about vegetarian delights in Italy and delicious fall meals. 

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Spicy Kale, Sweet Potato and Cashew Stew

I based this stew on Happy Herbivore’s African Kale and Yam Soup, but I wanted to add a nut butter, a hearty protein, use the ingredients I had on hand and make a larger batch so I made a few minor adaptations. Here’s the modified version:

Ingredients:

  • 1 red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 1 leek, top parts removed, cleaned and diced (or, just use another onion)
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cleaned and diced (I skin them as well)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1+ tsp vegetarian bullion paste
  • 1 large bunch kale
  • 4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1.5 tbsp yellow miso paste*
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2-4 tbsp nut butter (peanut or cashew) (optional)
  • handful+ cashews (optional)
  • bread to serve on the side
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Follow the original instructions at this link, but with the following two changes:

  1. I don’t use prepared vegetable broth because it takes up a lot of space and goes bad within 7-10 days. Instead, I use this “better than bullion” broth base. To get it to dissolve, I warm water in a pyrex measuring class in the microwave, then once it is warm, stir in the vegetable bullion base.

After the kale has wilted down, add the chickpeas, nut butter and cashews.

Serve with toasted bread.

*Miso is the Japanese term for fermented soybean paste. It is a staple of Japanese and other Asian cuisines, so do not be scared of it! It is salty and so adds good flavor to dishes. It also adds a creaminess to dishes. I like to add miso paste to mashed potatoes. Here is a picture of white miso paste. There is also red miso paste, which is stronger in flavor and taste.

Categories: Dinner, Soup/Stews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Food Prep Tip: Cleaning Kale (and other greens)

Bagged, chopped and pre-washed kale have been flooding the supermarket. My local organic market has it and so does Trader Joe’s. While this kale is a lot easier to use, I really don’t think it tastes as good. So I stick with buying kale in bunches and cleaning it myself.

With the kale that is especially dirty, a general rule of thumb (from where I’m not sure) is that you should wash it three times. Here is my technique for washing it, especially when I find little bugs, like this one, even after I take it out of the fridge.

Step 1. Fill a large bowl with water. Tear of kale pieces from the stem and drop them into the bowl of water. With clean hands, fully emerge and stir the kale to loosen up the dirt.

Step 2. Using a large colander, take big handfuls of kale out of the bowl of water and drop it into the colander until no kale is left in the bowl of water. You’ll see bits of dirt in the remaining water. This is supposedly the best way to separate the dirt from the kale.

Step 3. Dump out the bowl of water. (Ideally, dump it into your garden and use it to water your plants so as to not waste the water). Then repeat the process until you don’t see any (or at least not much) dirt in the leftover water, or about 3 times.

Step 4. Enjoy! in recipes such as…

 

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Roasted Butternut Squash, Carrot and Ginger Soup

Butternut squash has hit the farmers’ market and this is exciting news, folks. Matt celebrated by making this delicious, creamy (without any dairy cream) and perfect soup for the start of Fall.

Admittedly it is time-consuming, so make it on the weekend or for a holiday. Matt found the recipe by googling “butternut squash” and searching through what came up. This recipe is from the blog, With Style and Grace, which specializes in gluten-free recipes (but not vegetarian or vegan). You can get the full recipe at this link. We used vegetable bullion instead of chicken broth, and did not use the creme fraiche. It was delicious.

The main ingredients are: butternut squash, carrots, fresh ginger, and leeks. The reason it takes so long is that you have to roast the carrots and butternut squash for 45 minutes before making the soup. Here they are post-roasting:

Then you saute the leek and ginger, add the chopped roasted squash and carrots and simmer.

Then let it cool before you puree it in the food process or blender. (It is really important to let it cool, otherwise it might splurt out of your food process or blender creating a huge and frustrating mess.) Top with the roasted squash seeds or pine nuts, which is what we did.

Categories: Dinner, Sides, Soup/Stews | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Baked Zucchini Macaroni

sdfThis past weekend I went with my friend Kelly to the DC State Fair where she won first prize for the heaviest watermelon. Later that night, I somehow ended up with the fourth place heaviest vegetable. The details of that story are for another blog altogether, but for now, check out this very large zucchini-like squash vegetable. I’m not really sure what it is. Does anyone know?

 

I used less than half of it to make a baked zucchini (er, squash) macaroni dish. The original recipe is from Vegetarian Times, but I’ve modified it somewhat, so here is my version.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz pasta like macaroni, penne or ziti
  • 1/2 lb zucchini, chopped (about 2-3 zucchini… doesn’t have to be perfect!)
  • 2 cups black beans cooked (or just use one can, although that’s only 1.5 cups)
  • 1 15 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes (fire roasted are my favorite)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce or marinara sauce
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, or more
  • 1/4 cup chopped black olives
  • 3 handfuls greens such as arugula or spinach
  • a few leaves fresh basil, if you have it on hand
  • nutritional yeast, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to directions. Coat an 11 x 7 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Heat about 1/4 cup water in a medium to large saucepan on medium-high heat and add the zucchini. Cook for a few minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, olives, greens and basil. Turn down heat to medium low, stir together and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. When the pasta has finished cooking, add it to the pot with the zucchini mixture and mix together.
  5. Add the nutritional yeast — I used several shakes, maybe 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup. Mix together.
  6. Pour the entire mixture into the baking dish and top with the breadcrumbs
  7. Bake at 350. Then serve!

Before baking:

After baking: 

 

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Potluck, Potlucks Tailgates and Road Trips | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Simple Steamed Greens

There are several vegan advocates who also advocate for a low-fat, largely oil-free diet, such as Happy Herbivore, the folks at Forks Over Knives, and Engine2 Diet. While I have not tried to cut out oil completely, I have played around with eliminating it from some dishes and realized it is surprisingly easy. Matt complains that sauteing onions in water instead of oil smells bad, but he hasn’t said that it affects the taste at all. And I haven’t been able to tell the difference in either smell or taste.

My primary way of making greens used to be sauteed. Here is a way to saute the greens in water — which is basically like steaming them but with less dishes. Don’t expect to enjoy these greens by themselves; they will be too bland. Serve them under a high flavor dish such as roasted delicata squash, roasted vegetables, chili or other stew, a curried dish, etc.

Ingredients

  • 1/2-1 lbs mixed greens such as kale, chard, spinach and arugula (or, just one type of green — although arugula by itself may be too strong), torn/chopped and rinsed clean
  • 1-2 teaspoons chopped or minced garlic (approximate – a few cloves would work fine)
  • 2-3 teaspoons capers (optional – it adds a nice salty flavor)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water
  • pinch of chili powder (optional)
  • salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Using a medium to large saucepan or saute pan that has a lid, heat the water at medium-high heat (A little higher heat than you heat olive oil or other saute oil)
  2. Add the garlic and capers, stir and cook for a couple minutes
  3. Add the greens, stir around (using tongs, ideally), then cover with the lid. Let sit for 3-5 minutes. This is important for getting rid of the bitterness in greens like kale.
  4. Uncover and season with salt, pepper and chili powder if using. Cook for about 3-5 minutes more, or longer, until only a little water is left in the pan.
  5. Serve by mixing with a high flavor dish such as roasted delicata squash, roasted vegetables, chili or other stew, a curried dish, etc.

 

Categories: Easy | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Roasted Delicata Squash with Greens

Apologies for the long break in posting. I took a two week work trip to northern Iraq and got off track. Now I’m back home and eager to enjoy the last of summer’s tomatoes and the new fall vegetables.

Here is one of our favorite squash varieties: Delicata Squash.

How to prepare:

Delicata squash does not need to be peeled or steamed. Just scrub the outside of the fruit, then chop it into rounds. Using a paring knife or your fingers, scrape out the middle part with the seeds, so that you have donut-like rounds. After that, you can saute, grill, bake or roast it.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Shallots

The three vegetables in this dish all have rich, sweet flavors once roasted. You do not need much oil for this dish at all. As they cook, the tomatoes will break open and when the juices mix together that is when the taste becomes amazing. It is perfect to serve on top of simple steamed greens, because the strong flavors mask the blandness of the greens.

Ingredients:

  • 1 delicata squash, cleaned, sliced into rounds and de-seeded
  • 1 large container of orange cherry tomatoes, cleaned
  • 2-4 shallots, peeled and chopped in quarters
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • several sprigs fresh rosemary and thyme (or you can use dried if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon (approx) crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425
  2. Spray a long baking dish with cooking spray. Add the vegetables, olive oil, herbs, garlic and salt and mix together
  3. Cook on the middle tray for about 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes
  4. Serve mixed with steamed or sauteed greens, like kale, arugula and chard

Before roasting:

After roasting:

Served with steamed greens (kale, arugula, and chard):

Categories: Dinner, Easy, Sides | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Grilled Vegetables: Shallots, Corn and Cherry Tomatoes

I love grilling fresh summer vegetables. One of my recent favorites is grilled shallots. Grilling brings out the sweetness in these normally mild, onion-like root vegetable. Grilled tomatoes and grilled corn are also two of my favorites vegetables on the barbie. Here, I tossed them all together.

Grilling tomatoes and shallots: First, peel the shallots and chop them in halves. Toss shallots and cherry tomatoes in olive oil and either dried herbs or sprigs of fresh herbs, such as oregano, thyme or rosemary. To grill them, we have a grill wok that is great for small vegetables. But if you don’t have one of those, you can use tin foil. Grill for a few minutes, until browning and juicy.

Grilled corn: Pull back the leaves (without cutting them off), tears out the strings, then soaks them for an hour in water. Then grill them straight on the grill. Grill them for about 15 minutes, turning it every few minutes.

For more information on grilling vegetables, check out this article on grilling techniques and for recipes, check out 20 ways to grill fruits and vegetables, both from Vegetarian Times.

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