Spicy Red Bean and Tofu Jambalaya

IMG_3393This dish can be put together in 30 minutes or less but tastes like it’s been simmering for hours. My secret is a homemade cajun spice mix I always keep on hand for a quick kick of flavor! You can also use Emeril’s Essence right off the shelf.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
  • 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun spice mix, homemade or store-bought (recipe follows)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced (reserve 1/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or 3/4 cup canned, undrained)
  • 1 14-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp. Earth Balance non-dairy margarine
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • Hot cayenne pepper sauce (optional)

Prepare the tofu. Cut block horizontally across to make two slabs. Sprinkle both sides liberally with 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning. Sear in a hot pan coated lightly with a bit of canola oil, about 5 minutes on each side (cast iron is ideal). Remove from pan and set aside. Cut into bite-sized cubes or strips.

Add canola oil to the pan and sauté scallions, celery and bell pepper until translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more. Add tomato, 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning and margarine, stirring until melted. Reduce heat to medium low. Toss in the rice and beans and heat through. Lastly, add the tofu back into the pan and stir occasionally until heated through. Adjust seasoning, adding more Cajun spice as desired. Garnish with reserved scallions. Serve hot sauce on the side.

Cajun Spice Mix

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon oregano

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Mix all ingredients and store in airtight container.

David Lynch’s Quinoa With Broccoli

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I found myself inspired the other night by David Lynch’s short film, Quinoa, included as a special feature on his Inland Empire DVD. Filmed in black and white, in his own kitchen, the innovative filmmaker and artist leads us step-by- step through the preparation of one of his favorite dinners, quinoa with broccoli.

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While the dish cooks, Lynch takes a break on his porch with a glass of wine and a cigarette and tells us a story about his 1965 train ride from Yugoslavia to Italy. So random, yet so fascinating. So Lynch.

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Quinoa with Broccoli

from the short film, Quinoa by David Lynch

 

Ingredients:

A scant 1/2 cup quinoa, dry

Water for cooking

pinch of salt

1 small vegetable bouillon cube, cut into pieces

3/4 cup organic broccoli florets

Braggs liquid aminos, to taste

Olive oil, extra virgin, to taste

Method:

Fill a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan with about an inch of fresh water. Set it over a nice, hot flame and bring to the boil with a pinch of sea salt. Stir in the quinoa and reduce flame to low. Cover and simmer for 9 minutes.

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After 9 minutes, lift the lid and add the broccoli. Cover and continue to steam over low heat for another 8 minutes.

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Remove from heat and add the cut up bouillon cube directly into quinoa and stir until dissolved.

Taste for salt, then add liquid aminos and a splash of olive oil to taste. Serve immediately.

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Makes 1 large portion.

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Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

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Have I ever mentioned how crazy I am for jerk? This wildly flavorful balance of hot peppers, herbs, spices, brown sugar and tangy onions is so crazy good–and I never even tried it at home until I went vegan. I like it homemade better than any other way.

With this recipe, I suggest you make it worth your while and double or even quadruple the ingredients to either freeze some marinade for later, or do what I did: roast up a ton of tempeh in the oven and store in the freezer for a quick supper or crumbled in dirty rice. Yum!

Jamaican Jerk Tempeh

8 ounces tempeh (Westsoy Brand is preferable), cut crosswise into 8 slices

Marinade: 

2 scallions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup onion, chopped

2 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded (or if you can take the heat, level up with scotch bonnets)

2 T lime juice

1 T soy sauce

1 1/2 T olive oil

2/4 T sea salt

1/2 T brown sugar

1/2 T fresh thyme leaves

1 t allspice, ground

1 t black pepper, ground

1/4 t fresh grated nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

Method:

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Puree all marinade ingredients in blender until smooth.

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Marinate tempeh slices overnight

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Roast in 400 degree oven on a greased, foil-lined pan  for 15 minutes. Turn over and roast another 10 minutes or so, until marinade is absorbed and exterior is crisp and dry.

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Enjoy!

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July Menu!

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Bowls

 Kale and Quinoa Bowl

Quinoa, kale, tofu, wild mushrooms, shallots, ginger

Tempeh Taco Bowl

Brown rice, tempeh crumbles, sweet corn, adzuki beans, salsa

Burgers

Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers with Smoky Barbecue (Oil-free)

Tempeh-Walnut Burgers with Special Sauce

Dinner Favorites

Home-style Veggie Loaf with Tomato Glaze

Hearts of Palm Cakes with Tomato-Caper Remoulade

Sweet Potato-Edamame Shepherd’s Pie

Three-Bean Chili Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Red Kidney Bean Curry (Indian Chili)

Red Bean Jambalaya

Tofu Scramble with Seared Spinach and Tomatoes

Shiitake Mushroom Risotto with White Truffle Oil

Barbecued Tempeh with Purple Slaw

Red Cabbage Chow Mein with Edamame

Coconut Chana Saag with Lacinato Kale and Tomatoes

Lasooni Gobi with Chickpeas and Cilantro Brown Rice

Thai Red Lentil Chili

Tempeh Marsala with Seared Spinach

Sesame Soba with Edamame and Wild Mushrooms

Vegetable Lasagna Rolls

Thai Red or Green Coconut Curry with Vegetables

Green Tea Soba Salad with Tofu, Mushrooms and Sesame-Miso Vinaigrette

 

Sides

Carrot-Ginger Bisque

Cauliflower-Kale Soup

Faki (Greek Lentil Soup)

Tomato White Bean Soup

Roasted Redskin Potatoes

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Golden Curry Rice and Peas

Szechuan Broccoli

Sautéed Collards with Bacon and Onions

 

Thai Curry in a Hurry

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I just love when a dinner idea sparks my imagination and I happen to have everything on hand to create exactly what I envision. Inspired by my favorite Thai restaurant, I set out to make a sweet, spicy, creamy curry filled with fresh, delicious veggies.

This dish is quick and easy to prepare and works great with green or red curry pastes.  And it only takes a few minutes if you cook the rice ahead to warm at service time.

Thai Coconut Curry with Vegetables

¼ cup Thai green or red curry paste
4 ounces Mushrooms
4 ounces Carrot, sliced thinly
8 ounces Broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 Red bell pepper, cut into chunks

1/2 cup frozen peas

Note:  Substitute any vegetables for those listed.

13 ounces Coconut milk
1 tbsp. sweetener (optional, but tasty)
¾ cup Vegetable broth
2 tsp. Tamari or soy sauce

Squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)
¼ cup Cilantro, for garnish
2 cups brown rice, cooked

Method:

Take your hard vegetables, like carrots, celery, onions, peppers, broccoli and gently simmer them in the broth until crisp-tender. Now add all the other sauce ingredients and the soft veggies like mushrooms and peas. Bring it up to a simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more soy sauce for salty-ness if desired, a squeeze of lime for a mild sour influence or more sweetener, if desired. Balance the flavors. Finish with chopped cilantro.

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Note: If you have an Asian grocery in your town, check out their curry pastes. The one on the left costs $1.49 and tasted better than the one on the right from my local Whole Foods Market at $4.00! A little spicier, but hey, I like it that way!

The Vegan Meal Builder

 

Whether for my clients or for my family, I hear the same question almost every day: “What’s for dinner?”

A plant-based diet offers so many choices and  possible combinations, answering this query can leave my head spinning. So, I’ve come up with a method for putting together delicious,  creative, nutritionally balanced vegan meals with enough variety to please everyone!

I think of the meal as a construction project and I visualize it from the ground up. Consulting my menu builder blueprint, I start with the foundation.

  1. The base. I like to include grains, pasta, potatoes, steamed greens, raw or roasted veggies in this group.
Fresh steamed farro https://veganflavorista.org/2016/09/29/15-minute-farro/
  1. The protein. I choose a hearty bean or pulse, a soy product such as edamame, tofu or tempeh; seitan (a product made from wheat gluten) or a pea protein-based meat analog such as Gardein.
Grilled Sesame Tofu with Forbidden Rice and Grilled Baby Bok Choy https://veganflavorista.org/2016/09/22/meaty-grilled-tofu/
  1. The sauce. This category can make the difference between a boring meal and an amazing one. This component should not be overlooked. Here is where the real creativity happens. I decide whether  I want a light or hearty sauce, whether I am looking for spicy, sweet, savory and/or zesty flavors. The variety is endless.
Broccoli Stuffed Potato with Cheesy Sauce and Greek Chopped Salad https://veganflavorista.org/2014/05/22/ultimate-cheezy-sauce/
  1. The veggies. This category speaks for itself and basically I choose those that go best with the sauce and flavors I am introducing (example: for an Italian-inspired dish I would choose mushrooms, onion, peppers, tomatoes).
Pasta Primavera

https://veganflavorista.org/2012/09/20/pasta-primavera/

This structure serves as a guideline-a jumping off point for inspiration to create recipe variations as limitless as the imagination!

In upcoming posts, I will share my tried and true components and techniques for creating the meals  I serve to my clients and my family throughout the week.

Stay tuned!

 

 

Never Bored: My Vegan Dinner Rotation

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

It’s no easier for me, as a chef, than for anybody else– to decide what to make for dinner at home. If anything, it’s more difficult, having too many options! I notice, however, over time, many of the same vegan dishes naturally appear again and again at my table. We are creatures of habit, after all.

The Big Three

Italian

Every week there is at least one Italian dinner on my menu. Depending on time and motivation the dishes will range from simple pasta marinara or a quick flatbread pizza to something more labor intensive like lasagna or BAKED ZITI

The main flavor is provided by the savory, sweet red garlic and herb SAUCE combined with vegetables and some kind of protein. This could be TOFU RICOTTA or housemade ITALIAN SAUSAGE from the freezer or Gardein meatballs. Even chickpeas. Whatever.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

Pasta is optional. Zucchini spirals or slices are a great base for Italian dishes, or a big bed of lettuce mix. Polenta is easy to make and works quite well, too.

Mexican

If you’ve ever visited Taco Bell you know there are endless variations on the theme of beans, corn and tomatoes. Cheap and filling, these pantry staples never let me down in terms of pulling together a hot meal in no time.

Tacos, Burritos, Quesadillas, Chili, Nachos. Think Chipotle restaurant, but way, way cheaper  in the long run.

When I have time at the beginning of the week, I will cook up a pot of dried beans, usually pinto or black beans, season the cooking water well with salt and let them cool in the water to infuse them with flavor. You could also add garlic, cumin, whatever. A pot of rice cooks up in a few minutes. With beans and rice as your foundation–what can’t you do??

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL WITH CILANTRO-LIME CHIMMICHURRI

 

If that’s not enough, cook up a skillet of TACO MEAT in just a few minutes, sprinkle in some frozen corn, cooked rice, beans, diced tomatoes, scallions–hey, be creative! Tempeh makes a great crumble substitute if you grate it on a large-holed box grater.

A good SAUCE or salsa helps to pull everything together, so don’t forget to either buy or make one! You won’t miss the cheese!

Asian

I  like to vary these selections between traditional Chinese dishes such as a soy sauce- based stir fry or noodle bowl,

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

GARLIC-SESAME SOBA NOODLES WITH EDAMAME AND OYSTER MUSHROOMS

 

Thai peanut or coconut curries with lots of vegetables and the endless variety of Indian dal and vegetable-potato stews and curries, both spicy and mild.

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Image credit:  Melanie daPonte

PALAK PANEER WITH COCONUT-ROASTED TOFU AND TANDOORI CAULIFLOWER RICE

 

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

GENERAL TSO’S TOFU

 

The Big Three alone, with all its variations could actually keep us full and satisfied throughout the week. I just keep rotating and switching it up so it doesn’t feel like we are eating the same actual dishes over and over.

The Wild Cards

Once I’ve exhausted the Big Three rotation I circle back to the familiarity of American regional cooking. This is the food I grew up on, only with a slight twist…it’s vegan!!

There’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned burger and fries night. There are several brands in the market freezer, but it’s so easy to make your own once you settle on a good recipe or two that you can improvise with. No, I don’t make my own fries, either. Frozen was good enough then and it’s good enough now, especially at the end of a long week!

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Image credit:  Melanie daPonte

 

SLOPPY JOES are a variation on burger night. I like to serve them with a crunchy, fresh coleslaw. Again, you can use tempeh or frozen crumbles, even cooked lentils. It’s really all about that sweet tomato, brown sugar, garlic flavor combination.

Loaf. Yes, I grew up on meatloaf. My Nana’s was better than my Mom’s, but they were both equally good slathered with Hunt’s ketchup! These days, my favorite combination is lentils, veggies and walnuts. But I still top it with a ketchup glaze!

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

 

LENTIL-WALNUT LOAF WITH SWEET TOMATO GLAZE 

Barbecue. It’s a southern thing. For many new vegans, it’s cheese they have a hard time giving up. For me, I think it was barbecue, more than anything. It took some time and experimentation and distance from traditional barbecue that helped me figure out that, for me– it’s really mostly about the sauce!

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Image credit:  Melanie daPonte

 SEITAN RIBZ BARBECUE PLATE

 

So…either buy or make a really good, rich plant-based sauce and then apply it to whatever texture means barbecue to you. I like to do barbecued navy beans and tempeh planks, soy curls like pulled pork for sandwiches, bake, then grill chewy seitan ribz.

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Image credit:   Melanie daPonte

 

Cajun. JAMBALAYA is a great way to use up leftover rice. Saute onions, celery and green bell peppers, add a bit of garlic, toss in the rice with maybe some kidney beans or crumbles or even homemade ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE from the freezer. Spice it up with Emeril’s Essence for a smoky, spicy kick! I also like to make a nice VEGAN GUMBO  now and then and freeze half for later.

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Image credit: Melanie daPonte

Macaroni and Cheeze. Ah, the quintessential American comfort food. After trying many, many recipes, I have found the best results with a cashew-based sauce. Add some green peas or steamed broccoli and you have a complete meal. Extra nutritional points if you use whole wheat pasta.

STROGANOFF. Oh, this one is so easy and delicious. Takes me back to the old Hamburger Helper days. Use crumbles or large chunks of mushroom for a great texture. I like to throw in garden peas and lots of fresh parsley for color.

BUFFALO SAUCE. When I’m in the mood, I make up a batch of buffalo sauce and everything tastes new again! Drizzle it over salads, noodles, macaroni and cheese, nachos, and of course, roasted cauliflower!

Fancy Food

And then there are the elegant, restaurant classics. Yes, we can have our French wine sauces, our Picatta, Marsala, our rich, creamy risotto. Thick (and delicious, thanks to Hampton Creek ) mayonnaise remoulade and aioli. We have come so far, my friends.

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Image credit:   Melanie daPonte

CAJUN POTATO CAKE WITH HORSERADISH CREAM

 

If fancy, impress-your-friends food is in your wheelhouse, sub vegan butter (Miyokos is excellent) and use cashew cream for heavy cream. I especially like a thin-sliced Portobello steak with brandy peppercorn cream sauce.

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Image credit:   Melanie daPonte

 

So…what’s for dessert? Well, that’s another post for another day, but don’t get me started!

I hope you find my ideas and recipe links useful. Bookmark them for the next time you hear that question:

“What’s for dinner??”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plant-Based: On The Cheap

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“I would try the plant-based diet, but I can’t afford it!” A phrase I have heard often. But, it’s a myth that a plant-based lifestyle has to blow your grocery budget. And it doesn’t have to include strange ingredients you’ve never heard of. A healthy, whole food diet can actually be totally the opposite. A simplification.

Keeping in mind the basic foods your body needs  makes shopping so much easier:

  1. Protein (beans, peas and lentils, nuts, nut butters). Remember that one type of bean, legume or nut choice in combination with a grain or healthful vegetables provides enough protein in a meal. There’s no need to overdo it.
  2. Complex Carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, whole grains).
  3. Fats. The health benefits of processed oils is still a controversial subject in the science of nutrition, so I will simply offer that many foods contain naturally occurring fats such as nuts, coconuts and avocado. Choose oils conscientiously and use  sparingly if you are concerned about calories.

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Here’s a list of healthy and inexpensive foods to get you started:

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Brown rice
  4. Creamy natural peanut butter (multi-purpose protein for toast, sandwiches and sauces)
  5. Dried black or other beans (easier to cook than you think. Google it)
  6. Dried lentils (even easier and quicker than beans)
  7. Frozen fruit
  8. Frozen mixed vegetables
  9. Hummus (homemade tastes best and is cheaper if you sub peanut butter for tahini)
  10. Rolled Oats (they micro cook in two minutes)
  11. Russet Potatoes (let me count the ways to prepare this cheap and filling vegetable)

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Although a constantly rotating variety of produce (eating the rainbow, as they say) is ideal, it is not within everyone’s budget. It’s okay to eat apples and bananas all week. The point is, you are eating fruit! You are getting vitamins and fiber, water and minerals. All good stuff!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Sometimes you will splurge on the raspberries or juicy peaches in season. And it will actually be a treat, because your flavor palate is now accustomed to the natural sweetness of fruit sugar, as opposed to all the jacked-up laboratory produced sweeteners in processed snacks. It actually prefers it.

IMG_0852.jpgThe food industry is always coming out with new products. And that’s just what they are. Products, that are processed. Not whole and healthy foods in their natural state. There’s nothing wrong with these products as long as they are kept in perspective–as only the smallest part of our overall caloric intake.

Upcoming posts will feature recipes and ideas for simple and delicious meals that make going plant-based a sustainable choice without breaking the bank!

 

 

Top Ten Vegan Mains

 

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When making the transition to a plant-based diet, most of us do really well with breakfast and lunch, but when it comes to dinner, find ourselves in a quandary. The question I have heard most often over the years is “So, what do you eat?”

Here are a few creative recipe ideas for your next meal. Enjoy!

  1.  Classic Meatloaf

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     2.  Stuffed Portobellos

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3.  Macaroni and Cheeze

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4.  All-American Barbecue

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5.  Sesame Grilled Tofu

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6.  Peanut Noodles

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7.  Vegetable Lasagnaovenready

8.  Coconut Curried Tofu and Spinach

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9.  Thai Red Lentil Chili

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10.  Quinoa Nachos

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The Vegan Reuben Project

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I enjoy a personal culinary challenge. Especially one that results in good eats! I set out to create an old favorite from my pre-vegan days and I nailed it, if I do say so myself!

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This was a great opportunity to try my hand at baking my own rye bread as well as the corned “beef” recipe I’ve been meaning to try ever since I came across it in Brian McCarthy’s, “The Professional Vegan Cookbook”. The roast was easier than expected and turned out juicy and flavorful. The spices are on point!

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Baking my own bread is a favorite activity (when time allows) and rye was definitely a challenge. Even after three tries I don’t think I got the rise exactly as high I wanted, but it turned out delicious anyway!

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The thousand island dressing was a no-brainer to make, but is a crucial element in building the perfect Rueben!

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Vegan Corned Beef 

2 cups Vital Wheat Gluten
2 tbsp. Granulated onion
2 tbsp. Paprika
2 tbsp. Whole Fennel Seed, coarsely ground
2 tbsp. Caraway seeds, coarsely ground
1 tbsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cloves
1 tsp. Black pepper
1 cup Vegetable broth
½ cup Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Molasses
1 tbsp. Vinegar (white or ac)
Cheesecloth
String or twine

1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon water to a simmer.
2. Whisk together dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in separate bowl. Combine wet with the dry until well combined.

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3. Form into a 5-inch by 8-inch loaf that will be about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. Place on cheesecloth and roll up like a big flat rectangle tootsie roll (not too tight). Tie each end with a piece of string.

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4. Place in simmering water, cover and simmer for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Take roast out of liquid and remove cheese cloth.:

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Serve warm in thin slices or chill for later. I froze half of my roast to enjoy another day.

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Garlic-Sesame Soba with Wild Mushrooms and Edamame

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I love noodles, especially soba. Here’s a quick and easy dish that works for a weeknight meal, but translates just as well to an elegant dinner party with a hot cup of miso soup as a first course.

Ingredients:

5 ounces SOBA NOODLES

2 tbsp. ounces AGAVE NECTAR
3 tbsp.  RICE WINE VINEGAR
3 tbsp. REDUCED SODIUM TAMARI SAUCE
1 teaspoon CHILI-GARLIC SAUCE (SAMBAL OELEK)
1 tbsp.  OLIVE OIL
4 ounces MUSHROOMS, MIXED
3 cloves GARLIC, MINCED
3 SCALLIONS, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. SESAME OIL, TOASTED
1 tsp.  SESAME SEEDS, BLACK

1/2 cup EDAMAME, FROZEN, SHELLED, thawed

Method:

1. Cook soba noodles, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside.
2. Whisk agave, tamari, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and set aside.
3. Saute mushrooms until soft and lightly browned. Add garlic and scallions and let cook a few more minutes until fragrant. Add sauce and let cook for 1 more minute until heated through.
4. In a large bowl, toss soba noodles with sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Eat chilled or hot.

Vegan Andouille Sausage

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Here’s just the companion to my gumbo recipe, a tasty, spicy sausage to enhance the dish or slice up and fry with your morning tofu, your choice.

There are a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but trust me, the resulting flavor is well worth all the gathering! I would recommend doubling this recipe for your trouble and storing a few links in the freezer for later on.

Vegan Andouille Sausage

adapted from a recipe courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups Vital Wheat Gluten
¼ cup Nutritional yeast
½ cup White beans
1 cup Veg stock
4 tsp. Garlic
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tbsp. Tomato paste
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 tsp. Smoked paprika
1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 tsp. Sweet paprika
1 tsp. Sage, rubbed
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Liquid smoke
¼ tsp. Black pepper
¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper

Method:

  1. Mash beans with fork until smooth. Add veg broth, soy sauce, tomato paste, and all spices and mix well. With a fork, mix in nutritional yeast and vital wheat gluten until a dough forms.
    2. Knead dough for a minute or two then cut into 4 equal pieces. Stretch and roll each piece into sausage shape and wrap in foil, twisting ends. Steam for 45 minutes.

Vegan Gumbo with Homemade Andouille, A Passion Project

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Every once in awhile I find myself overwhelmed by the urge to make something I know will be complicated. And I make it. Because it’s worth the extra time and effort.

And because I know there’s nowhere else I can get it but in my own little kitchen.

So, here it is. If you have a bit of extra time on your hands I highly recommend this savory, warming, stick-to-your-ribs recipe for gumbo that tastes every bit as good as what they make down on the bayou.

Just two notes right up front: There is no okra in my gumbo. Because I don’t like it. Feel free to add as liberally as you like, though. The other thing…although I chose to make my own sausage, there are packaged versions of andouille or similar sausage you may want to pick up instead.

Vegan Gumbo

Recipe courtesy eatfigsnotpigs.com (with slight modifications)

(Servings: 4)

Ingredients:

½ cup all-purpose flour
6 tbsp. Canola oil
½  Not Beef stock cube (or veggie, if you can’t find it in your store)
¾ cup Yellow Onion, chopped
½ cup Green bell pepper, chopped
½ cup Celery, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced

1 1/2 tbsp. Earth Balance
2 cups Not Beef Stock (or veggie)
1 cup Stewed tomatoes
2 tbsp. Parsley, chopped

1 tsp. Thyme, dried
1 Bay leaves
1 tsp. Hot sauce
2 each Vegan andouille, sliced

1 cup white or red kidney beans
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning (I used Emeril’s Essence)
1 tsp. Gumbo File powder (ground sassafras leaves), optional
2  Scallions, sliced
3 cups Rice, Basmati, cooked

Method:

Start with your roux. Heat the oil and 1/2 bouillon cube over medium-low heat, preferably in a cast-iron dutch oven or deep skillet. Sprinkle in the flour and stir constantly until the mixture changes color from light to medium brown.  Be careful not to burn it!

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From this color…
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To this color!

Remove the roux from the pan into a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

Saute the veggies. Melting the margarine in the skillet, turn up the heat to medium-high and add the onion, celery and green peppers with a pinch of salt. Stir and cook until veggies are softened, about 8 minutes or so. Add the garlic and saute for another minute.

Now the easy part. Add the stock and tomatoes. With a rubber spatula, scrape all that lovely roux back into the pan. Over medium heat, cook and stir until well incorporated and thickened. If it gets too thick, add a bit more water or stock until the consistency is right.

Now the seasonings. Add the thyme, bay leaf, hot sauce and cajun spice and let simmer for a good 10 minutes on low. Give it a taste. Add a bit more spice or salt if you like.

Finish. Take your andouille slices and brown them off in a little oil in a separate skillet. This is an optional step, but I like the crisp outside that keeps the sausage from getting soggy too fast and the browned edges add color to the dish.

Drop the slices into your gumbo along with the kidney beans and allow to heat through while you chop up your garnishes–scallions and parsley. Add these right before serving and they will retain their color and fresh flavor.

The gumbo file powder is added after cooking, just a sprinkle for flavor. Serve over hot, cooked rice with a few more scallion slices.

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Crispy Marinated Tofu with Braised Kale

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I can’t emphasize enough how tasty, simple and quick this recipe is. So much flavor, from so few ingredients!

Crispy Marinated Tofu with Braised Kale

Ingredients:

1 package extra firm tofu, drained and patted dry

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce

1 bunch green kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

1-2 tbsp. Olive oil

Method:

Prepare marinade. Mix soy sauce and brown sugar together and set aside. Slice tofu 1/2 inch thick slabs and then into squares. Place into container with marinade to cover. Marinate for  20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Salute tofu until brown and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to plate and keep warm.

In hot skillet, add kale and saute until wilted, stirring constantly, adding remaining marinade halfway through and coating greens until mostly evaporated.

Plate and top with sautéed tofu. Serve immediately.

 

 

Savory Tempeh Steaks

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Another mainstay in my weekly recipes is tempeh.

As with tofu, my relationship with tempeh has evolved over time. The first time I tried cooking it, I just slapped it in a hot pan and served it alongside vegetables and rice. It was awful. Dry and flavorless.

Just like tofu, tempeh must be infused with the flavors you want to enjoy. I have grown to appreciate the versatility of this protein-packed soybean product after trying it as a base for meatloaf, crumbled and seasoned like taco meat; sliced, marinated and pan-fried for sandwiches or bacon, stir-fried in pepper steak–even barbecued!

  1. Tempeh varies by brand. I suggest trying several until you settle on the one you like. Some brands can be *bitter. I prefer West Soy brand. It has a neutral flavor and holds together quite well for all my various preparations.

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2. Fabricate! For this recipe the tempeh is simply cut into four equal size patties.

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3. Marinate! The most important step with tempeh is the flavoring. Here is the marinade for this recipe:

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4. Roast! Bake the tempeh for 30 minutes, then turn it over, baste and bake for another 20-30 minutes until most of the marinade is absorbed and the tempeh turns a deep, roasted color. The marinade will be absorbed into the tempeh, giving it a delicious flavor.

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Now the tempeh is ready to be paired with your favorite sides and perhaps a compatible sauce or gravy. Here’s one I like: Everyday Mushroom Gravy.

*Bitterness in tempeh can be alleviated by first steaming it for 20 minutes after cutting into desired shape for your recipe.

Soup Magic: Hearty Lentil

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Lentil is one of my favorite high-protein meal soups. It’s simple and low maintenance, and comes together in just a few minutes.

 I enjoy cooking soup on the stove—that aromatic slow-simmering, stirring, tending, nurturing activity.

But, during the work week I usually don’t have that kind of time. The last thing I want to read in a crockpot recipe is the direction to sauté vegetables before adding them to the crockpot. If I had time to do that, well I would probably take it all the way on the stove!

Instead, I left my crock pot in charge this morning, and brisked out the door for work. By lunch time I had a rich, satisfying stew, and lots of it. I think about what a prepared cup of soup costs, about $3. For less than that, I could feed a family of four, dinner sized portions of this hearty, healthful, tasty meal. Just saying…

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Hearty Lentil Soup

1 ½ cups raw brown lentils, rinsed

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, diced

2 or 3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 or 3 stalks celery, diced

Handful of celery tops (optional)

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Big sprig of fresh thyme (or 2 tsp. ground)

5-6 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

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Prepare all ingredients and add to crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours. Stir and check for seasonings. Depending on your broth, you may wish to add salt. With a pair of tongs or a fork, fish out and discard the bay leaves, thyme stems and celery tops, if used. Add a generous grind of pepper and add broth if needed, depending on how “soupy” you like it.

Yield:  4-6 big servings

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

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What can I say? I grew up like most American kids. Hot dogs were most definitely on the menu. Nowadays, they are definitely not. The conventional version anyway. Every once in awhile I get a hankering for that good old-fashioned frank on a bun experience. There are various brands of vegan dogs on the market, but I thought I would try this recipe because it is quite simple and natural and uses pantry items I have on hand.

These are quite good and easy to make, with a pleasant background flavor of cornmeal, reminiscent of corn dogs (another old favorite). We both actually like them better than any brand I’ve tried. Definitely cheaper than store-bought and you can adjust the sodium and flavorings to your liking.

Artisan Vegan Frankfurters

recipe courtesy Heather Bell and Jenny Engel of Spork Foods

as published in Veg News magazine, July-August 2017

Ingredients:

1 (12-ounce) package extra firm tofu, pressed and crumbled

1/4 cup finely ground yellow cornmeal

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten flour

1 tbsp arrowroot powder

2 tbsp safflower oil ( I used canola)

3/4 tsp liquid smoke

1 1/2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground mace

1/2 tsp mustard powder

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Method:

In large food processor add all ingredients and process until a dough forms.

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Cut eight 4 x 6 inch pieces or parchment paper and eight pieces of aluminum foil the same size.

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Roll the dough into a ball on a clean surface and flatten slightly. Cut into 8 equal pieces then form each piece into a hot dog shape.

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Roll each dog in parchment and twist ends. Then roll each piece in foil, twist and trim ends if necessary.

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Place rolls in an electric steamer or a colander over a simmering pot of water on the stove to create a steamer (covered). Steam 45 minutes.

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Don’t forget the buns!

 

 

 

Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers with Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce

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Okay, so I didn’t think about posting this recipe until I was plating it up for service. This was our dinner tonight. What I love about these burgers is that they come together so quickly and with pantry staples I always have hanging around. Bonus!

I don’t have any step-by-step process photos for this one, but I’ll throw in an extra recipe, just for fun, okay?

Kidney Bean-Quinoa Burgers

recipe courtesy Lindsay Nixon (Happy Herbivore)

 

Ingredients:

¾ cup cooked quinoa

1 14.5 ounce can kidney beans

2 tbsp. barbecue sauce

2 tbsp. ketchup

2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

1 tbsp. yellow mustard

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tbsp. Italian seasoning

½ tsp. paprika

1/3 cup vital wheat gluten

 

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain and mash beans then add remaining ingredients in the order listed. Mix together well and form into six patties. Bake on parchment-lined sheet tray for 8 minutes, then flip and bake another 5 minutes. The patties will firm up a bit more as they cool.

 

 

Easy Homemade Barbecue Sauce (no-cook)

Ingredients:

½ cup ketchup

1/4 cup molasses

2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. garlic powder

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

 

Method:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

 

 

 

 

Alternative Vegan Holiday Menus

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With the holiday season fast upon us–we, as conscious beings, want to participate in the festivities and merry-making and yet, trying to imitate long-held food traditions, albeit “vegan-style” can feel, well, a little regressive in light of everything we now know.

I have nothing against Tofurkey or Gardein or various seitan roasts.  And of course there’s the “Festival of Sides” as I like to call it. The “best of” parade of veggies, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy and breads I have prepared and proudly brought to table over the years.

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But, if you want to try something really courageous, really unconventional– how about a theme menu? One that breaks the rules completely?

 

*Here are a few of my favorite vegan menus for alternative holiday (or anyday) celebrating:

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Soul Food Feast

Barbecue Ribz or Soy Curls

Macaroni and Cheeze

Simmered Greens

Corn Muffins

Sweet Potato Pie

 

 

Italian Feast

Antipasto Salad

Fresh Baguette or Focaccia

Big Pasta Dish: (Lasagna, Pasta Marinara with Meatballs or Sausage, Baked Ziti, etc.)

Tiramisu

 

Indian Feast

Vegetable Samosas

Big Curry Dish: (Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, Cashew Vegetable Korma)

Flat Breads

Cinnamon-Chai Rice Pudding

 

Thai Feast

Thai Sweet Potato Bisque

Cucumber Salad

Tofu Pad Thai or Red or Green Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

Mango or Coconut Ice Cream with Mango-Ginger Coulis

 

Chinese Feast

Pot Stickers

Spring Rolls

General Tso’s Tofu with Broccoli or Szechuan Stir Fry with Vegetables and Sesame GrilledTofu

Creamy Almond Pudding

 

*Stay tuned for recipes in upcoming posts for the menu items without links!!

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Simple Italian Sausage

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Going vegan doesn’t mean giving up comfort foods, oh no! No way. Although I have tried various vegan sausage brands such as Tofurky and Field Roast, and I especially like Field Roast, I have a client who doesn’t like spicy. So, I learned to make my own!

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I like this simple recipe and having the control over the spices. I particularly like lots of fennel seed and garlic in mine.

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Vegan Italian sausage has so many versatile uses AND best of all it freezes well, so you can just grab and thaw when you need it.

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Click HERE for the recipe:  Simple Italian Sausage

from Isa Chandra Moskowitz

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Vegan Baked Ziti

 

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This recipe is more about method than it is about the ingredients. You could simply layer sauce, pasta and and some kind of dairy-free cheesy substance and bake. Or you could kick it up a notch like I have done in this particular version.

First, start with your favorite marinara. Then find a good cheesy sauce or vegan cheese substance you like. Here’s the special part:

Cook your pasta in nice sea-salted water. The water should taste salty. While the pasta is cooking, heat a skillet at medium-high heat and add a generous quantity of olive oil.

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Thinly slice or chop several cloves of fresh garlic and add them to the hot oil, letting them sizzle until they just start to turn golden. Don’t let them burn.

When the garlic turns golden, add a couple ladles of pasta water and let it boil with the garlic and oil until reduced by half. The starch in the pasta water will help add body to your sauce. Next, add a couple ladles of marinara and let that simmer 2 minutes or so.

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Now add the drained pasta, cooked at a firm al dente, not quite done. The pasta will finish cooking over the next few minutes of simmering in the sauce and absorb all that fantastic flavor!

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Now that your pasta has picked up all this tasty garlic broth and sauce,  you are ready to layer and bake.

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Baked, uncovered at 375 degrees, until heated through and whatever cheese substance you use is melted and/or picking up a bit of color to let you know it is ready.

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Finish with a bit of hemp seed parmesan and serve immediately to adoring dining companion(s)! You won’t regret taking this little extra step that works like magic for any pasta dish.

Weekly Lunch Prep

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Weekday workday lunches are a no-brainer now that Steve and I take a little time out of our Sunday afternoons and pre-make salads. When Monday rolls around it’s grab and go.

We prep the same veggies pretty consistently with the protein being the variable. Beans are always an easy go-to addition. We like firm, meaty kidney beans, pintos and cannellinis. Sometimes we add chopped up chickpea patties, grilled tofu, tempeh or burgers from the night before. That’s the wild card that keeps it interesting for me.

Veggies

  1. Romaine lettuce, washed, chopped and dried (I use a salad spinner)
  2. Fresh spinach leaves (optional)
  3. Cucumbers or zucchini, chopped or sliced
  4. Red cabbage, thinly sliced or shredded
  5. Carrots, shredded or diced
  6. Celery, sliced or chopped
  7. Red onion, diced or sliced

 

You’ll notice that most of the veggies on the list are affordable and easy to find year-round. That’s the idea. No excuses.

Often I will make homemade VINAIGRETTE which is simple, fresh and also cheap!

I found a great deal on these RE-USABLE MEAL CONTAINERS  through amazon.com. They stack easily in the fridge and slip neatly into your bag for work.

Knowing we are both getting a healthy dose of fresh vitamins, fiber, water and antioxidants is one less thing to be concerned about during a busy period of days. And there is never a week that goes by that we are not so glad we took that bit of time to set ourselves up for success!

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Clean Out The Fridge Yakisoba

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In case you haven’t noticed, comfort food is the name of the game at my house this week. And carbohydrates take main stage as we inch closer and closer to that moment when hurricane Irma takes a swipe at our little corner of south Florida.

We expect a loss of electricity by tomorrow, so tonight was a good time to clean out the fridge. I rounded up all my pre-chopped salad veggies leftover from our lunch prep and put together a quick sauce to pour over the sautéed veggies and noodles for a delicous dinner that will taste great as a cold salad later when the air conditioning goes out!

No strict ingredient measurements here. It’s mostly about the method with this dish.

Yaki-Soba On The Fly

Ingredients:

Soba Noodles

Assorted veggies, chopped

2-4 Garlic cloves, chopped or sliced thinly

Crushed red pepper (optional)

Canola oil

Sesame oil (if you have it)

Yakisoba sauce (recipe follows)

Quick Yakisoba Sauce

(recipe courtesy Nami from justonecookbook.com)

 (Makes ½ cup (8 Tbsp) I halved this recipe and it was plenty for 10 oz soba noodles
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp vegan oyster sauce (or substitute more soy sauce)
  • 4 tsp ketchup
  • 4 Tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

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Method:

Heat a big pot of salted water to boiling for noodles.

Meanwhile, heat a good quantity of oil over medium-high heat until a little piece of garlic sizzles when placed in the skillet. We’re talking a good 2-3 tablespoons with about 1/3 being sesame oil if using.

Add garlic and  1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper and fry until golden. Watch this very carefully so it doesn’t burn, but you definitely want some color. Reduce heat a bit, add your vegetables and saute until almost fully cooked (about 5 minutes).

Meanwhile, get your soba noodles cooking and add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the starchy water  to vegetables. This water will reduce a bit and help add body and flavor to the dish. Before the water is fully reduced, drain soba noodles and add them directly into the pan, mixing them around together with the vegetables.

When the water is reduced a bit,  turn the heat down to low. Go ahead and pour the sauce over, mixing until heated through. Serve immediately.

 

Hurricane Bread

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With the imminent weight of Hurricane Irma bearing down upon us, all we can do is prepare as best we can. And wait. In my neighborhood, gas stations are running out of fuel, Costco is out of bottled water (as if that could ever happen), the grocery shelves all but stripped of non-perishable canned and dry goods. And of course, bread.

Time was…young girls were taught to bake as an essential life skill. As with cooking in general, this knowledge and feeling of self-sufficiency comes in handy during times times of lack.

So, I turn to my humble pantry heroes– yeast, flour, salt, sugar, oil and within an hour or two turned out these delicious fresh loaves to stick in the freezer for later, when we may really appreciate having something to spread our peanut butter on.

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I enjoyed this recipe so much I plan to add it to my regular rotation when all of this is over.

Fast (and easy) Whole Wheat Bread

recipe courtesy Vaishali from Holycowvegan.net

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup warm water (not hot– you will kill the yeast)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Place  1 cup of the bread flour, the whole-wheat flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk to mix together.
  2. Add the water and the olive oil and mix. Add more of the bread flour if needed. How much flour you will need will depend on where you live and what the weather’s like. I made this bread on a rainy day in Washington and I needed nearly the whole cup. If you live in a dryer region you might need less.
  3. Knead the dough for 10 minutes by hand or with your dough hook set to low speed.  You should now have a smooth, pliable ball of dough that’s not at all sticky.
  4. Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl, turning over once to coat the top with oil.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set aside for 30-45 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
  6. Remove the risen dough from the bowl and punch it well to deflate all the gases. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a triangle about 10 inches long. Now roll the dough toward yourself and make a cylinder, tucking down the seams and pinching them in so you have a smooth loaf.
  7. Place the dough in a standard loaf pan, seam side down (most loaf pans are 9 X 4 1/2 or 10 X 5 inches)
  8. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let the bread rise in a warm place about 30-45 minutes or until the loaf has risen and domed over the top of the pan.
  9. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

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  1. Place the loaf in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the loaf pan to a rack and let it stand until the bread is cool enough to handle. Remove the bread from the pan by loosening the sides with your fingers or a spatula. Place on a rack until it has cooled through.
  3. Slice. Eat.

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Vegan Barbecue Ribz

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Fire up the grill this weekend and prepare your favorite barbecue sauce for these super-easy and super-tasty seitan ribz!

This recipe, direct from my archive, comes together faster than a batch of brownies. You can double up and freeze for later and also to slice  thin and fry up like bacon. Yum!

BARBECUE RIBZ

recipe courtesy Brian McCarthy

4 cups VITAL WHEAT GLUTEN
¼ cup PAPRIKA
2 tablespoons GRANULATED GARLIC
2 tablespoons GRANULATED ONION
2 tablespoons KOSHER SALT
3 cups ROOM TEMPERATURE WATER
¾ cups CANOLA OIL
2 teaspoons LIQUID SMOKE

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Mix all wet ingredients in a pourable container. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Pour wet into dry and mix well. Press into 13 x 9 greased pan. Bake 350 for 45-55 minutes, until no longer soft in center and has a dry appearance.
2. Slice into 1.5 ounce servings. Grill slices for marks if desired. Serve with barbecue sauce.
Servings/Yield: 14 servings

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Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff

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Another super simple recipe! This one comes from one of my favorite blogs, Vegan Monologue. I’ve made this recipe for my family, not all of whom are vegan and I’ve made it for  newly transitioned clients. It’s unanimous–they all love it!

Big chunks of earthy portobello mushrooms and onions in a savory, creamy gravy that tastes almost identical to its traditional counterpart.

Check out the recipe and this exceptional blog here

What’s Making Me Happy This Week

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I have so many new ideas and recipes to share in my upcoming posts! First of all, I discovered Maldon Sea Salt Flakes this week.

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They add a crunchy finish to a simple fresh avocado, but they really added something special  to these Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Another thing I picked up on this week–and it’s a game-changer:

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Sweet Potato Toasts! That’s right, you heard me. Slip thin slices of sweet potato in your toaster and let it go until just tender, twice on the highest setting on my toaster. Then spread it with whatever! Ah-mazing!

On to this week’s passion projects:

Food history has been on my mind lately and I found myself cooking up a big pot of Senate Bean Soup

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I’m working on finding the perfect recipe for ‘meaty’ vegan burgers and this one comes pretty darn close:  Beet Burgers!

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To top it all off, I’ll be sharing a delicious preparation for authentic jerk-marinated and roasted tempeh.

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Stay tuned, friends, for these recipes and so much more to come!

 

Korean Gochujang Barbecue Bowl

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You may have noticed a condiment called gochujang popping up in your neighborhood grocery recently. It’s basically a spicy Korean ketchup that has made its way into the mainstream and it’s delicious! But why buy it when you can make it so easily?? Try your local Asian market for Korean chili powder, or buy it here through Amazon.com. The rest of the ingredients are already in your pantry!

 

KOREAN BARBECUE BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

1 CUP TOFU, EXTRA FIRM, PRESSED, CUT INTO SMALL TRIANGLES 1/4 INCH THICK
2 CUPS CREMINI MUSHROOMS, HALVED
1 CUP ONION, YELLOW, SLICED

MARINADE:
¼ CUP LOW SODIUM TAMARI
¼ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
2 TBSP SESAME OIL
1 TBSP WHITE WINE
2 TSP MINCED GARLIC
4 CHOPPED SCALLIONS
1 TBSP KOREAN CHILI POWDER

GRAIN:
1 CUP JASMINE RICE, UNCOOKED
2 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, WHITE, TOASTED
1 SCALLIONS, JULIENNED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE MARINADE: MIX ALL MARINADE INGREDIENTS AND POUR OVER TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. MARINATE UNTIL COOK TIME.:
2.PREPARE RICE: COOK USING DESIRED METHOD, THEN FINISH WITH TOASTED SESAME SEEDS, RESERVING A PINCH FOR GARNISH.:
3.TO COOK: HEAT A SMALL AMOUNT OF OIL IN SAUTE PAN OVER MEDIUM-HIGH FLAME AND ADD DESIRED PORTION OF TOFU, MUSHROOMS AND ONIONS. :
4.SAUTE UNTIL BROWNED AND SAUCE IS THICKENED. SERVE OVER RICE, WITH GOCHUJANG CHILI SAUCE (RECIPE BELOW).

Servings/Yield: 2 servings

KOREAN CHILI SAUCE (GOCHUJANG)

2 TSP SESAME OIL
¾ TSP GRANULATED GARLIC
⅓ CUP KETCHUP
¼ CUP MAPLE SYRUP
¼ CUP KOREAN CHILI POWDER
2 TSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
1 TBSP SESAME SEEDS, TOASTED
COMBINE ALL INGREDIENTS IN SAUCEPAN AND SIMMER OVER LOW HEAT ABOUT 7 MINUTES UNTIL FLAVORS ARE WELL BLENDED.
Servings/Yield: 8 servings

Vegan Taco “Beef”

IMG_6132Hey, I can’t believe I haven’t shown up on the blog with this recipe until now. This one, from my home kitchen recipe box is always a big hit, whether featured in burritos, tacos, nachos, salads…the list goes on. Simple, simple ingredients, straight from the cabinet is what I like best about this tasty and quick to prepare recipe.

 

Vegan Taco “Beef”

Ingredients:

1/2 cup finely diced onion

1 tbsp. cooking oil

2 cups frozen vegan crumbles (Gardein is my favorite)

3/4 cup water

Spice blend:

2 tbsp. chili powder (mild or spicy, your call)

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic (or 1/4 tsp. garlic granules)

3/4 tsp. salt (or to taste)

Method:

Saute onion in oil over medium heat until translucent, about 7 minutes. Stir in spice blend and sauté   for 30 seconds. Add water and crumbles stirring well to combine. Cover and lower heat. Simmer on low for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally  until heated through and water is absorbed. Taste for seasoning, then serve hot. This stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.

 

YakiZoodle with Veggies and Edamame

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This is a spur of the moment post, just because I want to share an idea more so than a recipe. Although a recipe is included, feel free to do what you do, but whatever you do…try zucchini noodles!!

Last night, in my home kitchen, having gone through the rotation of Mexican, Italian, American and Indian dishes over the course of the week, I pulled together an Asian- inspired meal on the fly.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned how much I LOVE noodles, particularly Japanese Yakisoba style, which is like fried rice, but with buckwheat soba or udon.

I steamed a handful of POTSTICKERS from the freezer as a first course, then followed them with these tasty zucchini noodles fried up with vegetables, edamame and my secret ingredient: TOM YUM PASTE  Spicy, savory and delicious!

Yaki Zoodle with Veggies and Edmame

Ingredients

2 large zucchini

2 cups assorted vegetables, cut small for faster cooking (whatever you have in the fridge)

3/4 cup edamame, shelled and thawed (if frozen)

Asian flavoring paste like Tom Yum (or a combination of soy sauce, garlic and chili paste, like Sambal Oelek will work)

Sesame oil for saute

Method:

  1. Spiralize the zucchini into noodles using a spiral cutter, or you can also make ribbons with a vegetable peeler and then cut the ribbons into thin noodle-like strips.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute vegetables in a bit of sesame oil until tender-crisp. I start with the hard vegetables first: celery and onions that take a little longer, then add the softer, faster cooking veggies, in stages, ending with the edamame, which only needs to be heated.

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3.  When the veggies are all cooked and hot, remove them from the pan and set aside.

4.  Take a bit more oil (about 1 tbsp) and heat it gently, then add the Tom Yum paste (about 1 tbsp should do it) whisk it together until blended. It won’t totally blend, but you are just looking to distribute the paste for the zoodles.

5. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan, stirring to heat and slightly soften over medium-high heat. Once the zucchini looks about halfway cooked, add the veggies back in and increase the heat to medium high, getting everything nice and hot. The seasonings will be well distributed all over the zucchini and the vegetables. Taste and add more if desired.

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Serve immediately!

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Note: NEVER overcook veggies. Apply only enough heat to soften them so they are edible.  This will give you the best flavor and texture, not to mention more nutrients. Trust me, an overcooked veggie is a completely different veggie than a properly cooked one. For this recipe, honestly most of the veggies could just be thrown in raw at the end and eaten crunchy anyway. Your choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homestyle Veggie Loaf with Sweet Tomato Glaze

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This is a client favorite and a recipe I swear by, having grown up eating traditional meatloaf. This version has a firm slice without being dry or being soggy. It bakes up perfect, time after time. The glaze really makes it taste just like Mom made, back in the day.

Homestyle Veggie Loaf 

adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber (eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green or brown
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
1 parchment paper

1.Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.
2.Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.
3.Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.
4.Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.
5.Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

 

 

 

Buffalo Chickpea Tenders

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Okay, I’ve really done it this time! I know there are vegan variations on chicken wings and I’ve tried them all. But this. This is different.

What I did:

I took Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s tried and true recipe for chickpea cutlets and formed them into tenders and served them with homemade buffalo and ranch sauces.

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Here’s what I like best about this version. The texture. These tenders have a real “chew” without being dry along with an excellent flavor that actually tastes kind of like its traditional counterpart.

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Oh, and did I mention they are so, so easy to prepare? Thank you once again, oh mighty Isa!!

Chickpea Cutlets

Oh, and in case you don’t have recipes for buffalo and ranch sauces, she’s got that covered, too. These are recipes in my regular rotation:

Isa’s Buffalo and Ranch Sauce Recipes

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Thai Red Lentil Chili

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This is my new favorite stew! Imagine spicy smoky chili flavor mingled with sweet creamy coconut milk, hearty kidney beans, lentils and sweet potatoes. This dish is tasty, nutritious and filling. Oh, and did I mention…it’s super quick and easy to make!

This is one that I think most non-vegans can enjoy as well. Veggie stews and chili are a great introduction to vegan cuisine. Today’s chili was just one of the five entrees I cooked for my client’s weekly meals.

IMG_1938 I enjoy cooking vegan and sharing wholesome food with others. I love my job!

Thai Red Lentil Chili

Recipe courtesy of Post Punk Kitchen

1 tbsp. olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced medium

1/2 red bell pepper, diced medium

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. chili powder

3/4 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups vegetable broth

14.5 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 tbsp. Thai red curry paste

8 ounces coconut milk

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Method:

Saute onions and pepper in oil with a pinch of salt, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute a minute more. Add chili powder, sweet potatoes, lentils, salt and vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil

Let boil for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. When lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are tender, add the remaining ingredients and heat through.

Taste for seasoning, top with cilantro and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Clean, Lean, Protein: Beans!!

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Ah, the humble bean. Is it slowly falling out of the modern vernacular? Have we forgotten what a basic, essential, cheap nutritional powerhouse they are??

If you think you don’t like beans, I would like to put forth the possibility that you haven’t found the right bean for you 🙂 Believe it or not, each type is distinctly different in texture and flavor!

Over the years, I can say I have formed a relationship with beans. Really gotten to know them better. I used to think black beans and chickpeas were my favorites. I mean, chickpeas are responsible for hummus, after all! And black bean soup, well, I always loved it way before I went vegan.

My current favorite is actually the red kidney bean.  The chili superstar. But this substantially chewy on the outside, creamy on the inside bean plays a major role in the classic three bean and other cold salads as well.  It’s versatile and it’s filling.  Did I mention cheap?? Especially if you buy them dried and cook ’em up yourself.

It’s easy!

Basic Dried Beans 101

  1. Start with 1 cup of dried beans. Soak them in water overnight in a covered container in the refrigerator. Add enough water to cover, with an extra inch or two to allow for expansion.

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2. Drain beans and add to a saucepan with enough cold water to cover plus another 2 inches or so. The beans will swell a bit as they cook.

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3. Bring beans to a slow rolling boil and then reduce to a simmer. See the tiny video clip below for what a proper simmer looks like. Try to moderate the settings to keep this level of heat. Boiling too hard results in tough beans all busted open and ugly. We don’t want that. Be gentle.

 4. At this point you want to skim off any foam that rises to the surface. This will rid the cooking liquid of impurities. This is the stage to add seasonings if desired: onion, garlic, cumin, etc. but don’t add any salt yet.

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5. Simmer like this with the lid halfway, allowing steam to escape, for about 45 minutes. Give a little stir now and then, making sure all the beans are still fully underwater. If not, add more.  Check for doneness by removing a bean and cutting it in half. Chew the bean and see if it is soft enough to eat. If not, check again in 10 minutes. They should be nice and firm, yet tender and soft on the inside, not broken and falling apart.

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6. This is where you add the salt to taste. Rule of thumb: stir in enough so the water tastes salty, like a good veggie stock. But don’t overdo it! If you have time, allow the beans to cool in the cooking liquid. This step makes all the difference. The beans will absorb the salt and any seasonings and the flavor will be much improved over simply draining and applying seasoning to the outside.

Now your beans are ready to go anywhere you want to take them. I like to store them in their own liquid, either in the fridge or freezer. You can also drain and freeze them in meal-sized portions, pressing them flat in a ziplock bag. They store really well this way when space is limited.

This method works for most dried beans.

Black Bean Fajita Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Chimichurri

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I had an opportunity recently to work with a local vegan restaurant, helping them come up with new dishes to feature. This is one of the best-selling specials to come out of this project. The chimichurri and the crispy tortilla strips really elevate this simple, healthy dish into something extraordinarily delicious!

BLACK BEAN FAJITA BOWL

INGREDIENTS:

8 OZ BELL PEPPERS, MIX, RED, GREEN, YELLOW
2 OZ ONION, RED, JULIENNED
⅔ CUP BLACK BEANS, COOKED
2 CUPS QUINOA, COOKED
2 TBSP OLIVE OIL
2 CORN TORTILLAS, JULIENNED
½ cup CHIMICHURRI (recipe follows)
2 tbsp. CILANTRO, FRESH, CHOPPED

METHOD:
1.PREPARE CHIMICHURRI AND SET ASIDE.:
2.PREPARE BEANS AND QUINOA, KEEPING WARM FOR SERVICE.:
3.FRY JULIENNED TORTILLA STRIPS IN HOT OIL UNTIL CRISP. DRAIN AND SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT.:
4.SAUTE/STIR-FRY BELL PEPPERS OVER MEDIUM-HIGH HEAT UNTIL COLOR BRIGHTENS AND THEY SOFTEN SLIGHTLY. ADD ONIONS AND CONTINUE TO SAUTE UNTIL TRANSLUSCENT. :
5.PLACE 1 CUP QUINOA IN A BOWL. TOP WITH FAJITA PEPPERS AND ONIONS, FOLLOWED BY BLACK BEANS.:
6.DRIZZLE DISH WITH CHIMICHURRI AND GARNISH WITH TORTILLA STRIPS AND CILANTRO.:

CILANTRO-LIME CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

½ CUP CILANTRO, FRESH
¼ CUP PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF
¼ CUP OLIVE OIL
⅛ CUP LIME JUICE
1 TSP MINCED GARLIC
1 TBSP AGAVE NECTAR
¼ TSP CUMIN
½ TSP SEA SALT
⅛ TSP BLACK PEPPER, GROUND

PUREE ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER. USE IMMEDIATELY OR STORE COVERED IN REFRIGERATOR.

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Vegan Korean Barbecue

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I’ve been exploring Korean cuisine this week. I am so pleasantly surprised to find recipe websites featuring vegan Korean food. My favorite is a blog right here on WordPress!

I found this delicious recipe at Vegan 8 Korean blog. Click here for this recipe in its original form.   It’s a vegan version of the classic Korean Bulgogi, a flavorful sesame-soy garlic marinated meat dish. The soy curls lend themselves so well to this dish with their firm yet tender texture, absorbing the flavors perfectly.

The recipe is very quick and easy, too–less than 30 minutes from prep to stovetop to table.

soak

Cover the soy curls with hot water and soak for about 10 minutes, while preparing the rest of the ingredients and start the rice cooking (if using).  Drain curls and allow to cool for a couple minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.

marinate

Mix up the marinade ( I added a teaspoon of Korean red pepper powder for a little kick).

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Toss the soy curls with marinade and onions

cook

Saute until onions and soy curls are lightly browned and sauce thickens.

beforeReady to Serve

Click here for the full recipe!

 

Tofu Pad Thai

Image courtesy of Steve daPonte
Image courtesy Steve daPonte

This is a quick and easy recipe for a Thai restaurant favorite. I like to make this dish at home, because I can choose the ingredients. I think it tastes even better than traditionally prepared. Most Thai restaurants season with fish sauce– a real bummer for vegans.

I also like to press and freeze my tofu, then thaw it completely before using in dishes where I want more texture. This method also helps tofu absorb marinade more readily. I just wrap it airtight, freeze overnight, then when thawed, I squeeze it out one more time, and use as desired.

prep

Tofu Pad Thai

from “Big Vegan” by Robin Asnell

  • ¼ cup Vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp. Lime Juice (or more, to taste)
  • ¼ cup Tamari
  • 2 tbsp. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp. Canola oil
  • 12 ounces Firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 tsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. Ginger, fresh, minced, peeled
  • 2 cloves Minced garlic
  • 8 ounces Rice noodles, banh pho
  • 4 Scallions, Cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 4 ounces Bean sprouts
  • ½ cup Roasted peanuts, chopped
  • ½ cup Cilantro

Method:

1.Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a cup, mix together the stock, lime juice, tamari, sugar and cornstarch.
2.Heat the oil over high heat, and crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the pepper flakes and fry until the tofu is browned, stirring constantly. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for 1 minute.
3.Meanwhile, cook the noodles in the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain them. Stir and add the stock mixture to the pan with tofu. Taste for seasoning, adding more lime juice if desired. If too strong, add more stock or a bit a of water. If too sour add a bit more sweetener. Balance the flavors to your taste.
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4.Stir and quickly add the noodles, scallions and sprouts. Stir-fry gently until the liquids are thickened and the noodles are coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately, topped with the peanuts and cilantro.

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Dan Dan Noodles

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Nowadays you can pretty much Google search any recipe, type the word ‘vegan’ in front of it and come up with something good. I do this as a matter of course when I have something in mind I really want to make.

Browsing noodle dish recipes for ease of execution and simplicity of ingredients, I came across this creative and healthful new addition to my repertoire on Caroline Phelps website, Pickled Plum.

This spicy Asian noodle recipe is super-simple to make. After cooking and draining my thin, whole wheat spaghetti, I blitzed the sauce ingredients in the blender. Sauce done. Everything after that went super-fast.

IMG_5800.jpgBrowning the mushrooms and celery over high heat.

IMG_5802.jpgI added thawed edamame for texture and protein along with the scallions.

IMG_5806.jpgWarming the sauce with noodles and spinach. I used almond butter instead of peanut.

IMG_5808.jpgIt all comes together!

This is a good veggie-ful weeknight dinner option. It will go even faster if you make the sauce and cook the noodles ahead, like maybe the night before, or use leftover spaghetti from Italian night.

Find the full recipe HERE

 

 

“Meaty” Grilled Tofu

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One the fundamental building blocks of my weekly meals is tofu. Through much trial and error over the years, I have come to a great appreciation and respect for its versatility and its ability to absorb flavors and even change texture with the right method of preparation.

  1. Buy the right tofu. This seems like a no-brainer, but  it can be confusing, with all the brands and styles: silken, firm, extra-firm, etc. For this recipe, we need to start with the firmest tofu we can find, packed in water, found in the refrigerator section. If you stumble upon the Woodstock brand, extra-firm, know that you have found the holy grail of tofu. This brand is available only in select stores in my area and in limited quantity, so when I find it I buy it up!

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2. Dry, dry, dry! The secret to good texture with grilled tofu is to press out as much water as possible. Either press it with a pressing apparatus, or wrap it in paper towels and lay a cutting board on top, then add some weight to it. I have used heavy books, canned goods, even hand-weights. Let the tofu press for a good 20 minutes or so.

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3. Fabricate! Cut the tofu in the shape that fits the dish you are making. For grilling, obviously, you want nice strips that fit on the grill and not too thick, so as to absorb the flavorings. I cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again and so on, until I have 8 planks

4. Marinate! This step is crucial. If you want flavor in your tofu, you have to apply it yourself. My go-to marinade for grilling is 3 tbsp. tamari sauce to 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Simple and delicious! When you press the tofu well, it will be thirsty for the marinade, so you won’t need to soak it too long. Twenty minutes is plenty of time for this one, although, you can marinate longer or overnight if you like.

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5. Grill! Get your grill searing hot and you will have a nice, brown sealed outside on your tofu. You can also fry in a dry non-stick skillet on medium-high heat, for a crisp, brown exterior.

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6. Optional step. Another way to alter the texture of tofu is to wrap it after pressing and freeze it until solid, then thaw it out. Press the liquid out again, then marinate and grill or pan-fry. This gives the tofu more of a chewy and porous texture. It’s worth a try. I like it both ways.

Homestyle Veggie Loaf with Tomato Glaze

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Having been raised on American classics such as meatloaf, I’ve tried a lot of veggie loaf recipes, looking for that familiar texture and flavor. This one nails it! A tight slice without being dry or crumbly, this loaf is full of protein-rich lentils and tender vegetables with a hint of herbs. It’s topped with a tangy sweet tomato glaze, just like mom used to make!

Homestyle Veggie Loaf with Tomato Glaze

(adapted from a recipe by Jenna Weber, eatliverun.com)

1 cup Lentils, green
3 cups Vegetable stock
1 large Onion, yellow
1 large Carrot
1 stalk Celery
2 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. Minced garlic
1 cup Bread crumbs
¾ cup Walnuts
3 tbsp. Flax meal, mixed with 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. Oregano, dried
1 tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Black pepper
2 tbsp. Ketchup
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
1 tbsp. Vinegar, balsamic
parchment paper
1. Heat oven to 350. In small bowl, combine flax and water. Set aside. Simmer together lentils, broth and pinch of salt for about 25 minutes or until lentils are tender and have absorbed all the broth.
2. Chop onion, grate carrot and dice celery. Saute onion and celery in olive oil over medium high heat for six minutes or until tender, not caramelized.
3. Add onion, carrot, garlic mixture on stove and stir well. Add oregano, salt and pepper, then transfer to large bowl.
4. Add breadcrumbs, flax egg and lentils and toss well. Press mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you make topping.
5. Combine ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Spread on top of loaf. Bake for 40 minutes then invert onto plate.

Here’s a little video I made, demonstrating the recipe:

 

Coconut Chana Saag

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Here I am turning out a lovely pot full of Indian goodness called Coconut Chana Saag. Super simple when you have the spices handy. The rest is just basic cookery, like any other dish.

Coconut Chana Saag

1 tablespoon Coconut oil
½ med Onion, yellow, diced
1 ½ cloves Garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Ginger, fresh, minced
1 tablespoon Curry powder
½ teaspoon Salt
Pepper
¼ teaspoon Anise seeds or fennel
⅛ teaspoon Garam Masala
¼ teaspoon Cumin
⅛ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
12 ounces Tomatoes,whole, canned
30 ounces Chickpeas
4 ounces Lacinto Kale, chopped
7 ounces Coconut milk
1 tablespoon Lime juice
2 tablespoons Cilantro, for garnish

Method:

Saute the aromatics and spices:

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Add tomatoes and simmer to blend flavors:

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Add the other stuff and simmer until heated through:

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That really wasn’t hard…and the flavor is phenomenal. Home-cooked Indian food can be way more delicious and fresh tasting than what you purchase from a restaurant. You control the oil, the salt and the level of heat you prefer. What’s better than that?

The full recipe, courtesy Isa Chandra Moskowitz via theguardian.

 

Cajun Potato Cake with Horseradish Cream

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Doesn’t this look delish? It’s really simple to make.

CAJUN POTATO CAKES

1 CUP LEFTOVER MASHED POTATOES
¼ CUP FLOUR, ALL PURPOSE
1 TBSP SCALLIONS, Diced
½ TBSP CAJUN SEASONING, or to taste
1 CUP PANKO BREAD CRUMBS
¼ TSP SALT
1 TBSP FLAX MEAL
3 TBSP WATER
OIL FOR FRYING
1-2 TBSP PREPARED HORSERADISH
¼ CUP VEGANAISE
1  LEEK, WHITE AND PALE GREEN PARTS ONLY (OPTIONAL)

METHOD:
PREPARE FLAX EGG: MIX FLAX MEAL WITH WATER AND SET ASIDE.:

PREPARE HORSERADISH CREAM: MIX VEGANAISE AND HORSERADISH TO DESIRED STRENGTH, ADDING WATER AS NEEDED FOR POURABLE CONSISTENCY.:

PREPARE FRIED LEEKS, IF USING: SPLIT LEEK LENGTHWISE, WHITE AND PALE GREEN PART ONLY, THEN RINSE AND DRY LEEK WELL. JULIENNE INTO THIN STRIPS (ABOUT 3 INCHES IN LENGTH). DROP STRIPS INTO HOT OIL AND FRY UNTIL LIGHTLY BROWN. REMOVE AND DRAIN ON PAPER TOWELS. SPRINKLE LIGHTLY WITH SALT. SET ASIDE.:

MIX MASHED POTATOES TOGETHER WITH FLOUR, GREEN ONIONS AND SEASONING.

FORM INTO CAKES, ADDING MORE FLOUR IF DOUGH IS TOO SOFT, OR LESS IF DOUGH IS TOO STIFF.

BRUSH WITH MIXTURE OF FLAX MEAL AND WATER, THEN ROLL IN SALTED PANKO BREAD CRUMBS.

PAN- FRY (OR DEEP FRY) CAKES UNTIL CRISP AND GOLDEN BROWN. SERVE IMMEDIATELY WITH HORSERADISH CREAM AND GARNISH WITH LEEKS (IF USING).

Soup and Bread

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It occurs to me that there are two foods I can simply never do without–soup and bread.  I will never tire of a hot, comforting bowl–be it a thick, hearty stew or a thin, savory broth as long as I have a nice chunk of bread to sop in it.

The best soups and the best breads are those made at home. Here are a couple simple recipes worth trying for yourself.

Easy Olive Oil Bread

Creamy Chick’n & Mushroom Soup

from EpicureanVegan.Wordpress.com

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tbs olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
12-oz pkg Beyond Meat Chicken-Free Strips, cubed
4 C (about 18) mushrooms, quartered
5 C vegetable broth
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 C vegan sour cream
3 Tbs flour
1/2 C nutritional yeast
1/4 C unsweetened, plain almond milk
3/4 tsp Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS:

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil and add the garlic. Saute 2 minutes, then add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables soften.

Add the broth and let simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes. Toss in the chick’n and mushrooms and let cook for 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, flour, nutritional yeast, seasonings and almond milk; stir into the soup. Season with Herbs de Provence. Let simmer a few minutes until it thickens. Serve and enjoy!

 

 

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Vegetable Potstickers

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These lovely little dumplings are a favorite at our local Japanese restaurant. Served with a simple dipping sauce, they make a tasty appetizer or a light meal. I was strolling my neighborhood Asian market and finally came across egg-free gyoza wrappers. I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen and fulfill my vision!

These can be filled with whatever flavorful blend of vegetables you prefer. You could also add a variety of proteins such as crumbled tofu, shelled edamame or one of the many flavors of Gardein meat substitute, chopped fine. Get creative!

Vegetable Potstickers

Ingredients:

Egg-free gyoza wrappers (store-bought or homemade)

Filling:

2 cups shredded green cabbage (I used pre-packaged angel hair coleslaw), lightly chopped

3/4 cups shredded carrot, chopped

1-2 scallions, chopped

1 cup shelled edamame (thawed, if frozen), roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari sauce

1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger

1/s Tbsp. sesame oil, or to taste

Salt, to taste

Sesame oil for frying

1/4 cup water

Method:

If you prefer a softer cabbage, place shreds in microwave for about 3 minutes at 50% power or saute lightly in sesame oil. Otherwise, proceed with the next step. Combine vegetables in a bowl and mix in cornstarch. This will absorb excess water. Add seasonings and taste for flavor. Add additional soy sauce or salt or sesame oil to your liking. Make sure it tastes good.

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Scoop about a teaspoonful of filling on the center of the gyoza wrapper, making sure the filling is not dripping wet. Lightly apply a bit of water around the edges of the dough. Fold over like a half-moon, pinching the edges to seal. Continue until the filling is used up.

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Heat about 1 tbsp. sesame oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Fry  as many dumplings as will fit in the pan at the same time until brown on the bottoms. Do not turn over. The following step is crucial. Immediately add the 1/4 cup water around the outside edges of the pan’s interior and cover. This will steam the dumplings. When all the water is evaporated and the bottoms “stick” to the skillet, they are done.

Serve immediately with dipping sauce (recipe follows)

Dipping Sauce

2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp.  rice wine vinegar
¼ tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. chili-garlic paste (optional)

Method:

Combine all ingredients, stirring until sugar is dissolved.

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Mushroom Bourguignon

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Well, isn’t this fancy? A classical French dish turned vegan!

Warm, savory and satisfying– this rich stew is filled with vegetables, potatoes and hearty mushrooms, simmered with red wine and fresh thyme leaves.

If you really want to go top shelf, bake a nice little puff pastry top hat!

Mushroom Bourguignon

1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 ½ Carrots, diced
½ large Onion, yellow, diced
½ cup Onions, pearl, peeled
1 cup Mushrooms, cremini, halved
½ cup Mushrooms, button, halved
½ cup Walnuts, toasted
½ 1 large Potato, russet, diced
½ cup Peas, frozen
2 cloves Garlic, roasted
1 ½ cups Red wine, Pinot Noir preferred
¼ cup Vegetable broth
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
3 sprigs Thyme, fresh, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon Sea salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper, black
1 tablespoon Earth Balance, softened
1.5 tablespoons Flour, all purpose
1 tablespoon Brown rice syrup ( I used agave nectar)

Method:
1.Heat oil and add carrots, yellow onion and pearl onions, cook for about 3 minutes to start browning. Add mushrooms and walnuts and cook for about 3 minutes.:

2.Add potato, peas and garlic and stir. Add wine, vegetable broth, tomato paste, thyme, sea salt and black pepper. Bring to a simmer, then cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over low heat for about 35-45 minutes, stirring occasionally.:

3.While vegetable mixture is cooking, whisk together room temperature butter and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.:

4.After about 30 minutes of cooking add brown rice syrup and buter and flour mixture to pot and stir. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes over low heat. Let cook for up to an hour if you have time.:

Recipe Source:  The Spork-Fed Cookbook by Jenny Engel and Heather Goldsmith

General Tso’s Tofu with Green Tea Soba

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I am always looking to veganize recipes. Any recipe. Some of them traditionally feature meat. That doesn’t stop me from subbing out for tofu or tempeh or any other protein…even beans or legumes if the sauce sounds legit.

Here is one such recipe I actually picked up from my daughter Kat’s Facebook timeline. She is not vegan, but enjoys plant-based dishes and loves to cook. We share recipes and ideas all the time. This one looked so good, I simply couldn’t resist.

All I did was switch out the chicken for pressed, cubed tofu. I also would recommend skipping the crock pot and just making the sauce on the stove, because tofu, as it cooks down, does not provide moisture the way chicken does.  I also opted to make my own hoisin sauce, which turned out delicious, by the way 🙂 Just double it, and you will be all set.

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I was so proud of my dish, I packed some up to share with Kat :;-)

Here’s the original recipe from ChefSavvy.com: General Tso’s Tofu.

Balsamic-Roasted Mushrooms

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This dish makes a great appetizer or a light meal. Mushrooms have that satisfying umami flavor and a lovely “meaty” texture. The sauce is savory with a touch of sweetness. Here, I serve them over grilled polenta, but they go well over any grain or even with a crusty baguette.

BALSAMIC ROASTED MUSHROOMS

1 LB MUSHROOMS, MIXED, QUARTERED
2 SHALLOTS, HALVED LENGTHWISE AND QUARTERED
1.5 TBSP OLIVE OIL
¼ CUP BALSAMIC REDUCTION, DIVIDED (recipe follows)
⅛ TSP. RED PEPPER FLAKES
KOSHER SALT, TO TASTE
BLACK PEPPER, GROUND, TO TASTE
2 CLOVES GARLIC, MINCED
2 TBSP. PARSLEY, FLAT LEAF, CHOPPED

1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 400 DEGREES. DRIZZLE MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS WITH OIL IN LARGE BOWL.:

2. POUR IN 2 TBSP BALSAMIC REDUCTION, SALT AND PEPPER AND CRUSHED RED PEPPER. SPREAD ON PARCHMENT LINED SHEET TRAY AND ROAST FOR 20-25 MINUTES, UNTIL THEY ARE TENDER AND DEEP BROWN.:

3. FOR SERVICE, SAUTE GARLIC IN OLIVE OIL, THEN ADD MUSHROOMS AND 1-2 MORE TBSP BALSAMIC REDUCTION. HEAT THROUGHLY AND SERVE OVER POLENTA.:

(Servings: 2)

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

½ CUP AGAVE NECTAR
1 CUP BALSAMIC VINEGAR
1 SHALLOTS, HALVED
KOSHER SALT, TO TASTE
BLACK PEPPER, GROUND, TO TASTE

1.HEAT AGAVE IN SMALL SAUCEPAN OVER MEDIUM-LOW HEAT UNTIL IT THINS OUT AND IS WARMED, ABOUT 5 MINUTES.:

2.ADD VINEGAR AND SHALLOT AND SIMMER GENTLY, SWIRLING THE PAN A FEW TIMES, UNTIL SAUCE HAVE REDUCED AND THICKENED TO THE CONSISTENCY OF MAPLE SYRUP AND COATS THE BACK OF A SPOON, ABOUT 50 MINUTES.:

3.STORE COVERED, UP TO 3 MONTHS, AT ROOM TEMPERATURE.:

Yield: 1/2 cup

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (soy free, gluten-free option)

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This is a fun, easy, delicious whole foods meal–elegant enough for guests, but simple enough to whip up on a weeknight. Feel free to substitute rice for the farro, but you don’t know what you’re missing!

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Farro (or brown rice for gf option)

adapted from Vegetarian Times Magazine recipe

6 4-inch-diameter portobello mushrooms, stemmed
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 leeks, white and pale green parts thinly sliced (2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbs.)
1 ½ Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. fresh baby spinach
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese substitute, shredded ( I use Daiya)
2 Tbs. pine nuts
1 cup farro
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray. Spray mushroom caps with cooking spray, and sprinkle gill sides with salt and pepper, if desired. Arrange mushrooms gill-sides down on prepared baking sheet. Roast 10 minutes, or until mushrooms begin to soften. Turn mushrooms over.

2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tsp. oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, and thyme, and sauté 4 minutes, or until leeks are tender. Add 2 large handfuls spinach at a time, and cook 8 to 10 minutes, or until spinach is wilted and most liquid has evaporated, stirring often.

IMG_1614Stir in cheese and pine nuts. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Fill mushrooms with spinach mixture, mounding on top and packing filling down with hands. Bake 25 minutes, or until filling browns on top and mushrooms are fork-tender.

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3. Cook farro in large saucepan of boiling salted water 20 minutes, or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tsp. olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. To serve, spoon 1/2 cup farro mixture onto each plate; top with 1 stuffed mushroom.

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Tempeh Meatloaf

title

One of my very favorite comfort foods is meatloaf. It is not easy to duplicate in vegan cookery, although recipes abound for variations of this classic main dish.  I have been on a quest for four years to find the texture and flavor I am looking for. I think I have found the one with this hearty loaf from Anne Gentry, owner of Real Food Daily restaurant.

The most important technical factor in a loaf, for me, is that is MUST hold together tightly and slice well. Loaf recipes can be tricky l and I will admit, I messed up on my first try.

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Not a problem, though, because I just crumbled the whole loaf and froze it to use later in a Shepherd’s Pie! Never waste good tasting food!

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I tried again and followed the directions explicitly and the second loaf turned out perfectly. I think I overcooked the tempeh the first time around. Yes, the recipe is a bit fussy, but the results are worth it– a substantial, tasty tempeh loaf, great paired with your favorite gravy or cold the next day on a sandwich, just like Mom used to make–well, sorta.

Tempeh Meatloaf

from The Real Food Daily Cookbook

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. canola oil

1 ½ pounds tempeh

1/3 cup organic ketchup

1/3 cup yellow miso

¼ cup nutritional yeast

2 tbsp. unsweetened soy milk

¾ cup gluten flour

1 cup finely chopped onion

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup finely chopped peeled carrot

1 tomato, finely chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh oregano or 1 ½ tsp. dried

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary or 1 ½ tsp. dried

2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. sesame oil

shred

Preheat oven to 375. Coat the inside of a 9 inch loaf pan with 1 tsp. sesame oil and set aside. Shred tempeh with the shredder blade of a food processor or a hand grater.  In a large bowl, combine the ketchup, miso, nutritional yeast and soy milk. Add the tempeh and stir just to coat. Sprinkle gluten flour over mixture and combine. Mixture will be moist.

mix

Transfer to sheet pan oiled with 1 tsp. canola oil. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Meanwhile, sauté the onion, celery, carrot and garlic in 1 tbsp. canola oil until soft (about 8 minutes). Add tomato, spices, salt and pepper and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add tempeh mixture to hot vegetable mixture and mix well. Note: vegetable mixture must be hot when adding together. Transfer to loaf pan and pack tightly. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 more minutes or until brown. Allow to cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing. Slice and serve hot with your favorite gravy.

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