Time: 15 minutes
This has pretty much been a summer of simplicity for me. In some ways it’s forced, like the fact that my kitchen has been a construction zone for 2 months. But it’s also a choice, because my garden tomatoes have been so juicy all season that it doesn’t take much effort to appreciate them in a sandwich with basil.
So when a friend (ok, actually my Instagram hero, @cramepete) brought this homegrown melon over the other day, I instantly knew what I wanted to do with it. As I sniffed its ripe aroma like a grandma in the produce aisle, I thought of bright, crisp Vietanamese flavors, like mint and lime, with some avocado thrown in for good measure.
Even though it’s perfectly legit to enjoy a melon with nothing but a spoon and some candlelight, it only takes a few extra steps for something even a little more special. You can serve this as an afternoon snack, or alongside a more elaborate Southeast Asian inspired meal. Maybe a red curry or pad thai? You get the picture. Oh and to get even more pictures, check out @cramepete’s Instagram feed today, where you can see his photo of this salad! You can also follow me on there @isachandra. Because you love pics of my cats and my feet.
~This is the kind of formula that’s incredibly versatile, so if you’ve got, say, watermelon and basil, then try that out. Switch out the acidity (in this case, lime) to balsamic vinegar. Make it work with what you’ve got. The whole point is that simple flavors can be heavenly for your tastebuds and your dish duties.
~Prepping the cantaloupe is easy for this salad. Slice it in half and scoop out the seeds. Then turn the melon flat-side down on a cutting board, and use your chef’s knife to peel away the skin. A little green is ok, but try to get it so that you mostly have orange. Then simply dice away and enjoy!
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons agave syrup
3 cups peeled cantaloupe chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 avocado chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves (chopped if leaves are very large)
Sriracha hot sauce to serve, if you’re looking for some spice
In a large bowl, mix together lime juice and agave. Add the cantaloupe and a pinch of salt and toss to coat. Let sit for about 5 minutes so that cantaloupe releases some of its juice and the flavors melt.
Toss in avocado and mint leaves. Taste for salt. You may want to adjust the sweetness and limey-ness as well. Serve immediately!
Time: 30 minutes
I’ve got a few non-recipe things to talk about, so if you’re all “Shut up and make with the recipe!” then by all means, skip the next few paragraphs. But if instead you’re like “Hey, Isa, nice to see you! What have you been up to lately, beautiful?” then read on.
Hi. Here’s the deal:
I’m working on the cookbook of my dreams! I have a brand new publisher and we are going all out for Fall 2013. My first hardcover, full-color, filled with photographs, so gorgeous you’re not going to want to cook with it (but OMG you have to) cookbook. The concept for this book is weeknight cooking from scratch… made easy. The title? “Isa Does It!” I am so excited to be working with Little Brown, who have been around for a measly 175 years and publish some of my all-time favorites books — ones you cook from and those novel things that you just read.
And today, by way of recipe, I want to introduce you to the photographer for my book. Maybe you already know her! She’s one of my favorite vegan food photographers and a girl right in my birthplace of Brooklyn, USA: Vanessa Rees. I’ve loved her stuff ever since the first time I laid eyes on one of her sauce-all-over-the-place shots: her photos tell a story, and I want them to tell mine. She’s shot a recipe of mine before, but today I’ll share a brand new one that I think is a great example of a weeknight saute of simple ingredients that come together to create a delicious dinner in a single pan. That’s what Isa Does It is all about.
Thanks for letting me share this happy moment with you and thank you to everyone whose come along on this delicious ride with me. The Post Punk Kitchen’s 10 year anniversary is coming up and I have lots of great celebratory plans to share. It’s pretty overwhelming to think that a decade has passed, and I’ve gone from a girl about to turn 30 and desperately wanting to do nothing in life but talk about vegan food, to a woman about to turn 40 and so grateful that I actually got there. In order to keep these good things, you gotta’ give them away! So on to the recipe.
Photo ©Vanessa Rees
I got turned on to this combination as a burrito filling when I was cooking in a cafe in Brooklyn, and I’ve been hooked every since! I don’t go too crazy with the spices, instead letting the bright and fresh flavors shine through. Mushrooms, cilantro and lime have an affinity for each other, and the fresh corn adds a wonderful summery pop, while the seared seitan, of course, provides meatiness. But no need to serve in a burrito, I love it over rice with a nice big scoop of guacamole. Oh, and make my margarita salted! A green salsa works well here, too, either storebought or homemade. (There’s a salsa verde in…VWAV, I think? I dunno, one of my books.) Here it’s topped with a chunky pico de gallo.
To cut down on prep time, you can often find shucked corn on the cob at the supermarket. It’s a great shortcut that doesn’t compromise on flavor. If you absolutely must, then frozen corn will work. But really try for the fresh, it’s that time of year! The freshness adds a wonderful snap to the dish that just screams summer. Without the sunburn.
~If you do go for the fresh, it’s easy to get those kernels off quickly and neatly. Place the shucked corn stem-side down in a wide bowl. Hold it steady by the tip top, and use your knife to slice from top to bottom, letting the kernels fall into the bowl. Continue on all four sides and voila! Fresh, delicious corn.
~For time management purposes, prep the corn and mushrooms while the seitan is cooking. Everything should come together in a breezy 30 minutes.
~A wonderful gluten free option would be black beans. Use 1 1/2 cups (a 15 oz can, drained and rinsed) and in that case, you can cut back on the oil by a tablespoon or so because you don’t need the seitan to brown.
~If you want to cut back on the oil anyway, simply omit the second tablespoons and use a little olive oil cooking spray as needed when you add the seitan.
~If your farmer’s market is bursting at the seams with awesome mushrooms (like oyster or trumpet), this dish would be a great way to use them instead of the cremini. (Somewhere a button mushroom just shed one tear.)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium red onion, in thinly sliced half moons
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced (seeds removed if you want less heat)
8 oz seitan, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh corn kernels, from 2 ears of corn
8 oz cremini mushrooms, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat (cast iron, as always, is ideal.) Saute onion and jalapeno in two teaspoons oil and a pinch of salt, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the seitan and corn, and an additional tablespoon of oil and cook for about 5 minutes, until seitan is lightly browned, stirring often.
Add the mushrooms, cilantro, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes.
Push everything to one side of the pan so that you have space to quickly saute the garlic. Put the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in the pan and toss in the garlic, stirring as it sizzles, for about 15 seconds. Then mix everything together and add the lime as well.
Taste for salt and seasonings, and serve over rice, with a nice scoop of guac. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if desired.
Makes 4 flatbreads (serves 4 to 8)
Active time: 30 minutes (you’ll need to let the bread rise for at least an hour, though)
The inspiration for this was pretty straightforward: I saw a blonde lady on the Cooking Channel make something just like it! And it just so happened I had some dough that I was going to use for pizza, but a flatbread became a much better idea. After all, it’s springtime! My grill was calling to me and the thought of lots of fresh greens over a creamy, springy spread sounded too good to resist.
But what’s the difference, really, between a dressed up flatbread and a pizza? Not much, I suppose. I could easily call this a grilled pizza and not get too many sideways glances. But it probably comes down to this: I call something a flatbread when it’s shaped all funny and the toppings are added after the dough is baked instead of before.
The end result is perfect for an evening around the picnic table, or fire escape, or wherever you may be (but definitely try to eat outdoors.) A beautiful charred bread, all aromatic and crispy outside, made especially so from a handful of cornmeal. The spread is nicely thick, creamy and garlicky, but still light and refreshing with bits of red pepper and scallion. It’s a cinch to put together in the food processor! Sort of ends up like a vegetable cream cheese, so if you’re in the market for something to put on your bagels, this may be your answer. And on top is a lightly dressed salad (totally casual – olive oil and lemon), making this meal perfectly seasonal, fun to eat and pretty as all hell to look at. I also threw on a few toasted walnuts because everything should have toasted walnuts.
~Bread flour is a newer pantry ingredient for me. Usually I use all-purpose because it’s always on hand in my kitchen, and probably yours, too. But I love the crusty chewiness that higher-protein bread flour gives flatbread, and so if it’s not an ingredient you usually keep on hand, give it a shot and see what you think! The difference might be just enough to convince you to keep it around always for emergency pizzas.
~ What I really love about this rustic flatbread method, is that you don’t hafta’ worry too much about getting perfectly shaped breads. Aim for something oval, and whatever happens after that is beautiful serendipity. The dough is nice and firm, too, so the trip from countertop to grill top isn’t incredibly harrowing. It should make it there in one piece and without too much trouble.
~There are so many fun things you can do with flatbread, it quite literally can be your canvas! Try it with edamame pesto, romesco sauce or even hummus. Top with arugula or kale or really anything in the world you can think of. Throw on some olives, toasted pine nuts, chopped sausages, tempeh bacon…google it up and see what other people are doing, steal those ideas, transform them and come up with your own enticing creations.
~ I knead bread in a standing mixer, but of course, you can knead by hand! It will take a bit longer, naturally.
~ Medium grind corn meal is used here. The coarse grind is a bit too grainy for me and the fine ground is hardly detectable. But if you don’t see what size grind your cornflour is on the package, don’t sweat it, it’ll come out yummy no matter what.
~ If you prefer to bake the breads, you can do so in a 450 F oven, for 12 to 15 minutes. Place directly on a baking stone for the crispiest results, but a large baking sheet will work, too!
~ For the best time management, make the spread while the dough is rising. It’s as easy as throwing together hummus.
For the Flatbread:
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
- 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
- 2 cups bread flour (or a little less, see directions)
- 1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the Scallion Spread:
- 1/2 cup cashews (unroasted)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 pound extra firm tofu, drained
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (optional, but it makes it a bit more creamy)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Fresh black pepper
- 1 cup chopped scallions
- 1/2 a red bell pepper, seeds removed, chopped
For the salad:
- 6 cups baby mixed salad greens
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Big pinch salt
- A handful of toasted walnuts
- Additional thinly sliced red bell pepper (the remainder of the half you used for the spread)
Make the spread:
In a food processor, chop the cashews into coarse crumbs. Add the garlic and pulse to incorporate. Crumble the tofu in your hands and drop it in. Add the lemon juice, olive oil (if using), nutritional yeast, salt and pepper and blend until relatively smooth, a little texture from the nuts is great.
Add the scallions and red pepper and pulse until they’re chopped into tiny bits. You don’t want them to be completely pureed, make sure that there’s some crunch from the red peppers.
Taste for salt and seasonings. If it needs anything else, don’t puree again, just remove the blade, scrape everything into the bowl and gently mix in with a fork. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Make the flatbreads:
Add water and sugar to the bowl of a standing mixer fit with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast and let sit for 5 minutes to bloom.
Mix in the olive oil then Add one cup of the flour along with the salt. Mix on low until well incorporated, and then turn the speed up to medium and mix for 3 minutes.
Add another 1/2 cup of flour and the 1/2 cup of cornmeal, and mix well, starting on low and then switching to medium speed. Then add another 1/2 cup of flour, again starting on low and switching to medium. Knead on medium for about 5 minutes. You may occasionally have to get in there with your hands if the dough starts climbing up the hook. It should become smooth and elastic and slightly tacky. At this point, incorporate flour by the tablespoon, with the mixer running. When it starts to seem dry, stop adding flour. This could be anywhere between 1/4 and 1/2 cup. Knead again on medium until it is elastic easy to stretch, about 8 more minutes.
Meanwhile, drizzle about two tablespoons of olive oil into a large mixing bowl. The dough will double in size, so make sure you have enough room. Form the dough into a ball and place in the bowl, tossing it around to coat with oil. Cover the top in plastic wrap and put in a warm place. Let dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
When dough has doubled, fire up your grill. Keep the flame high and close the lid. If you have a thermometer, it should be at about 500 F.
Punch the dough down, give it a quick knead and tear it into 4 equal-ish pieces. On a large cutting board, form each piece into an oval that is about 8 inches long and 5 inches across. I just use my hands for this, but you can use a rolling pin if you prefer.
Place the dough on the grill. It should take about 3 to 4 minutes for the bottoms to get grill marks and become firm. If it takes a little longer that’s cool, but definitely check one after 3 minutes. Use tongs to flip the bread over and cook for another 2 minutes or so, until grill marks appear.
Remove breads from the grill with tongs and place on the large cutting board. Keep covered with a kitchen towel to keep warm until ready to use.
Prepare the salad:
At the last minute so that they’re as fresh as can be, use a large bowl to toss the salad greens with lemon, olive oil and a big pinch of salt.
Use the back of a spoon to spread the Scallion Spread onto the flatbread. Top with handfuls of dressed greens and scatter on toasted walnuts and red pepper, if desired. Slice in half with a pizza slicer, if you like, and serve! (Confession: we did not slice these in half, we just gobbled them down.)
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 45 minutes
Oi vey has life been hectic over the past few weeks! I’ve been traveling a ton, as well as working on a new solo cookbook and wrapping up the desserts for the Forks Over Knives cookbook. On top of that, I’m working on a few other projects that I’ll talk about soon. Point being, I’ve been a little remiss in my blogging duties, but this is a good one and just might make up for my month of silence.
My recent travels took me to NYC and Austin, Texas where I was spoiled to death by all of the amazing vegan food. From migas to tamales to dumplings to curries, my palate was blessedly overstimulated and I arrived back home in Omaha with some major cravings for big flavors. This was the first meal I cooked as soon as I settled in. It combines my love for sauteed callaloo and West Indian jerk sauces (which I miss more than anything!) with my love for sloppy, saucy midwestern sandwiches. Callaloo comes from the leaves of the taro plant, which is virtually impossible to find in the midwest, but spinach makes a great stand in. This Sloppy Joe, made with seitan, is stick-to-your-ribs spicy and tangy, and the spinach is cooling and creamy with coconut and the ethereal sweet licorice flavor of star anise, which is a component in lots of Jamaican curry powders.
To time everything right, start the spinach when you add the tomatoes to the seitan. Of course, you can just enjoy the Sloppy Joes on their own sans spinach (but don’t you love your veggies?) or enjoy the spinach alongside any other jerk sorta’ recipe. And if you don’t feel like having sandwiches, this would be pretty awesome over rice, too.
Oh and I was considering calling these Sloppy Jerks or Jerky Joes, so in the privacy of your own home, feel free to call them whatever you like!
For the Sloppy Joe:
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coconut oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced medium
1 pound seitan, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
Several dashes fresh black pepper
14 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
For the spinach:
2 teaspoons coconut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 lb spinach, washed well, stems removed
1 cup coconut milk (regular or light)
2 star anise
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 to 6 big sandwich buns
Prepare the Sloppy Joe:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion in one tablespoon coconut oil and a pinch of salt, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.
Add the seitan and cook for about 10 minutes, until nicely browned, stirring often. Push the seitan and onions to one side of the pan so that you have space to quickly saute the garlic and ginger. Put the remaining teaspoon of coconut oil in the pan and toss in the garlic and ginger, stirring as it sizzles, for about 15 seconds. Then mix it up with the seitan and onions.
Add thyme, paprika, salt, allspice, red pepper flakes, cinnamon and black pepper and toss to coat everything and cook the spices a bit.
Add the tomatoes, and cook for about 10 more minutes, tossing often. Lastly, mix in the maple syrup, lime juice and mustard. Let cook for a minute or so, then taste for salt and seasonings, and serve.
Prepare the spinach:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Quickly saute the garlic in coconut oil, just so it sizzles for a few seconds, being careful that it doesn’t burn. Add the spinach in batches, tossing with tongs, until it is all wilted and fits in the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes, until a lot of moisture is released.
Now we’re going to get rid of the excess moisture, but try not to lose any garlic or spinach in the process. Shove the spinach off to one side, and carefully (don’t burn yourself, dummy!) lift the pan and drain the excess water into the sink. The spinach might all just behave itself and stay on one side of the pot, but use the tongs to keep it from falling into the sink just in case.
Now return to the heat, add the coconut milk, star anise and salt. Bring coconut milk to a boil and stir often, for about 5 minutes, so that the star anise releases its flavor. Turn the heat off and let it rest for 10 minutes or so, soaking up the coconut milk yumminess.
Time: 1 hour || Active time: 30 minutes
Who among us doesn’t love mashed potatoes? Add something spicy, savory and stewy bubbling underneath and it pretty much takes that love over the top and into creepy obsession territory.
Since I’m about to make my first ever foray into the Lone Star State at next weekend’s Texas VegFest in Austin, I was feeling kinda’ Tex-Mex this week. Enter tamale pie! Well, almost. I realized that I was too low on my masa harina to execute a real tamale pie, but what I lacked in corn flour I made up for in potatoes. And thus the Tamale Shepherd’s Pie was born!
A creamy layer of lime-kissed mashed red potatoes over a succulent and spicy stew of black beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, poblano peppers and corn, with a few of the usual southwestern flavors thrown in. To give it true tamale flavor, a few handfuls of crumbled up tortilla chips tossed into the stew do the trick. It’s the perfect meal for these rainy months at the beginning of Spring. I love how the red potatoes look on top, adding flecks of pretty blush. It makes a ton, too, and leftovers taste just as good.
To get this done quickly, boil the potatoes first. Then begin the stew. Both components should come together within half an hour and then you just bake and wait. You can adjust the spice level to your liking by (obviously) adjusting the hot sauce and red pepper flakes. As is, I’d say it’s a low-medium spicy. Don’t forget to preheat the oven right about when you add the tomatoes and corn to the stew, that way everything is ready to go.
OK everyone, enjoy and I’ll see you in Texas!
For the mashed potato layer:
2 1/2 lbs unpeeled red potatoes, cut into big chunks (1 1/2 inches or so)
1/2 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant teaspoon grated lime zest
3/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
For the stew:
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra)
1 onion, diced medium
1 poblano pepper, seeded, diced medium
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz mushrooms, cut in half and sliced 1/4 inch thick or so
1 cup lightly packed cilantro, chopped
1 1/4 lbs plum tomatoes (about 6), chopped
1/2 cup corn (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup dry red wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 ounces tortilla chips (about 4 good-sized handfuls)
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons Frank’s red hot hot sauce (plus extra for serving)
3 cups cooked black beans (2 15 oz cans rinsed and drained)
I garnished with: Hot red chilis, fresh cilantro and lime slices
Place potatoes in a pot and submerge in salted water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Drain potatoes and immediately transfer them back into the pot. It’s important to do this while everything is still hot. Give them a quick preliminary mash, then add the milk, olive oil, lime zest and salt. Mash until creamy, taste for salt, then cover and set aside. (Note: I usually add black pepper, but decided not to here so that the lime really shines through. If you feel naked without it, though, go ahead and add some.)
To prepare the stew:
Preheat a large, heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil and a pinch of salt, until peppers are softened, about 10 minutes. In the meantime prep all your other ingredients.
Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add mushrooms and cilantro and cook until the mushrooms have released a lot of moisture, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, wine, salt, cumin and red pepper flakes. Turn heat up and cover the pan, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes. The tomatoes should break down and become saucy (if corn was frozen it may take a bit longer.)
Now take the tortilla chips and crush them into fine crumbs with your hands. It’s ok if there are a few bigger pieces, but aim for crumbs. Add them to the stew and mix well. Since tortillas can be salty, wait until they’re added to taste for salt. Mix in the lime juice and hot sauce, then fold in the black beans and heat through. Now taste for salt and seasonings.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a deep 11×13 casserole (cooking spray works just fine). Transfer the stew to the casserole and even it out with a spatula. Add the potatoes in dollops, and spread it into an even layer.
Place in oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until potatoes are lightly browned. Stick under the broiler for a minute or two just in case the browning isn’t happening. Serve hot garnished with cilantro, chili peppers and lime.
Time: 45 minutes
Risotto and I have always been fairly sympatico. We have an understanding: I stir you, you get creamy. No big deal. But that was before reality cooking shows.
After one episode of Hell’s Kitchen you’ll be pretty convinced that risotto is the biggest, most backstabbingest heartbreaker there is. It will stop at nothing to betray you. Risotto makes Gordon Ramsey kick the trash can on the regular. It breaks. It burns. It refuses to cook. It jumps out of the pot and shivs you if it given half the chance. Sleep with one eye open.
To add to the anxiety, an episode of Next Food Network star featured Wolfgang Puck storming the kitchen to show a cheftestant how to make a proper risotto. She was, of course, in tears. The kind of tears reserved only for failed risotto. And most risottos are failures! Too stiff, too loose, too everything. It must be true because the canned soup guy says so!
But, wait, there’s a better way: make the risotto the way you prefer. If you’re not on reality TV, it probably won’t break or burn. If you add warm broth and stir it every few minutes it will probably get deliciously creamy. And if you prefer a stiffer risotto, that’s okay. If you want it to be a little more soupy and creamy, that’s okay, too. Just add more broth or maybe some cashew cream. I’m ok. You’re okay. Your risotto is okay.
About this recipe specifically, it’s one of my favorite ways to prepare risotto. Adding pesto in stages, building the flavor, with lots of white wine, creates a really sensual dish that makes you feel pretty fancy and accomplished.
The zuke is very simple, which is just how I like it. Still kind of crunchy but roasty and toasty with lots of garlicky flavor. You can toss it over the top or mix it in, whatever floats your zucchini boat. Then top with extra toasted pine nuts for extra fanciness and nutty texture.
There is at least one golden rule, the broth needs to be warm when you add it. I usually keep my broth warming in a pot on the stovetop like a good girl, but if I’ve got too much going on I’m not against keeping it in a microwave safe bowl and nuking it every now again. You gotta do what you gotta do! In any case, keep the broth warm for best results. At least it will help to ward off the Gordans and Wolfgangs of the world.
For the risotto:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups or so vegetable broth
3/4 cup pesto (I recommend Bestest Pesto, it makes plenty)
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less depending on how salty your broth and pesto are, so taste for salt often)
Fresh black pepper
For the zucchini:
1 lb zucchini, cut on on a bias into chunky half moons
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
Extra toasted pinenuts
Extra pesto for drizzling
Warm the vegetable broth in a saucepan. Keep it warm on the lowest setting possible as you prepare the risotto.
Preheat the oven to 425 F for the zucchini, and have ready a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Now let’s make the risotto! Preheat a heavy-bottomed 4 quart pot over medium heat. Sauté the onion in oil and a pinch of salt until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the rice and use a wooden spoon to stir and coat with oil. Add the white wine and stir occasionally, until wine is mostly absorbed, 4 minutes or so. Add a few dashes fresh black pepper, and half of the salt. Turn the heat down just a bit to medium-low.
Add the broth by the cupful, stirring the risotto after each addition until the broth is mostly absorbed (6 to 8 minutes). After 2 cupfuls, add about half of the pesto and stir well, then continue to cook, adding broth by the cupful, stirring, and letting the liquid absorb.
At some point in there, your oven will be preheated. Toss the zucchini with oil, salt, pepper and garlic. Roast for about 6 minutes on each side, or until softened and lightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside.
With your last addition of broth, add the remainder of the pesto. Taste for salt and add the other 1/4 teaspoon if needed. Risotto is ready when the rice is chewy but still firm, and the sauce is very creamy. For a firmer risotto, just cook a few minutes extra to absorb more of the liquid.
To serve: scoop risotto into each bowl, and top with zucchini. Drizzle with extra pesto and garnish with a few toasted pine nuts.
Time: 30 mins (or 45 minutes if you don’t have lentils prepared)
If you’ve been vegetarian for any amount of time, or ever even just casually glanced at the menu of your friendly neighborhood co-op cafe, you’ll surely be familiar with “The Bowl.” That upside down hardhat brimming with healthy and yummy ingredients. But what sets a bowl apart from other types of entrees? Let’s go over some of the unique characteristics that give a bowl its bowlness.
At its most basic, a bowl is made up of a grain, a green, a ‘tein and a sauce. In general, all of the components are prepared very simply, except for the sauce, which is the main flavor component. Of course rules are made to be bent if not broken, but just because you put a bunch of stuff in a bowl, doesn’t make it a bowl proper. Let’s examine each component.
The grain is usually brown rice or quinoa, but it doesn’t even have to be a grain per se, just something wholesome and starchy, that will soak up lots of sauce. I use buckwheat soba noodles in this example. Barley, millet, amaranth, and bulgur are all great choices and I’ve even had whole wheat cous cous find its way into my bowls.
The greens are usually abundant and they don’t have to be green, any veggie will do. They’re often steamed, but roasted with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper is a great choice, too. A simple saute with garlic is about as elaborate as it gets when bowling, though. Common veggie candidates are cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, dark leafies like kale, zucchini… and often, especially at restaurants, you’ll get a nice mix of all of the above. Sometimes they’ll try and skimp by making the veggie mix half carrots, so if I’m ordering out I’ll often say “No carrots!” Nice try, cheapskate bowl makers of the world! I’ve roasted some cauliflower for this bowl because it brings a deep toastiness to the bowl, which is beautifully offset by the tangy sauce and mellow soba noodles and lentils.
The protein, again, is often very simple. If it’s a bean, it’s simmered just until tender and that’s about it. For tofu, a fairly dry run in the skillet is all it needs, a little salt and pepper. At most, it’s marinaded and baked and at the very least it’s steamed. Tempeh is treated fairly similarly. There are times when the protein and the sauce are combined. Maybe it’s a BBQ tempeh or a curried lentil. I think that’s getting into iffy territory, sneaking away from the definition of a bowl. But again, still permissible depending on what the other ingredients are. I’ve used my favorite…plain old brown lentils in this bowl. They’re unfussy, full of nutrition and tasty as all get out. I keep a container of cooked lentils in my fridge at all times, and there are even a few canned or frozen varieties out there. If you need to cook them on the spot, no biggie, they take only 45 minutes or so.
Now the sauce is what it’s all about. Here you can go for the gusto. In a way, the rest of the bowl is really just a vehicle for the sauce, which should be bursting with flavor, overflowing and smothering everything in its path. Still, though, the ingredients should be relatively simple. Instead of using 10 different things to get the flavor you crave, use a little finesse. Go for minimal ingredients that have strong flavors. Here I employed a classic duo: miso and tahini. Miso with its aged, tangy saltiness and the ethereal nuttiness of tahini make a creamy dreamy sauce that’s barely any work and requires no cooking. Bowl heaven!
So that’s what we talk about when we talk about bowls. The possibilities are endless. And so are the puns. Bowl me over.
8 oz buckwheat soba noodles
2 cups cooked brown or green lentils
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into large florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Severeal dashes Fresh black pepper
For the dressing:
1/4 cup mellow white miso
1/4 cup tahini
1 cloves garlic
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup water
Optional: fresh herbs for garnish (dill, cilantro and parsley are all good choices.)
Cook the lentils if you don’t already have prepared ones (1 cup dry is about 2 cups cooked.) While the water for the soba is boiling, preheat the oven to 425 F and chop the cauliflower into large florets. It’s easy to do this by chopping it in half lengthwise, pulling of the leafy base and then pulling off the florets with your hands.
When the water boils, prepare soba according to package directions. Once cooked, drain and set aside, rinsing with cold water to prevent sticking.
Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with non stick cooking spray. Toss the cauliflower on the with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, flipping once, until aromatic nicely toasted.
In the meantime, place all dressing ingredients in a small blender. A Magic Bullet works great here. Start with 1/2 cup water, and then add another 1/4 to thin, if you like.
Assemble the bowl:
Divide soba noodles into big bowls. Top with lentils, cauliflower and plenty of sauce. Garnish with herbs and serve!
Serves 4 to 6
Time: 30 minutes
The mango pricers of the world really need to work out a better system. It seems that they cost either an arm and a leg (not vegan) or they go on sale with such a surplus that the employees are practically throwing them at you like dodgeballs. There is no happy medium. So this week, life gave me mangoes and I needed to make something other than mango-ade.
Enter mango fried rice! This is actually modified from a pineapple fried rice recipe that I created one day during a bout of some serious homesickness. I miss Brooklyn! I miss walking to Prospect Park and watching a cricket game or a little league game or women’s softball. I miss walking around the loop with $5,000 dollar bikes and baby carriages whizzing by. I miss the beautiful fountain in the vale, spotting birds, and checking them off my birdwatching list. Orchard Oriole, Carolina Wren, Cedar Waxwing. I never thought that leaving Brooklyn would actually mean seeing less birds.
And after all that, happily spent from sitting around watching birds and people do things, I’d walk a few blocks to 7th avenue and get something to eat. One of my favorite things in the world was the pineapple fried rice from one of the million Thai spots on the strip. Omaha has Thai restaurants, of course, but there’s nothing here that even comes close to that fried rice. I guess that is kind of what my life has been about lately, taking some of my best memories and putting them together on a plate. And so that’s what I did.
This rice is tangy and spicy, pan fried with lots of ginger, garlic, and a little crushed coriander seed, then punctuated with seared but still snappy green beans, toasty cashews and juicy bits of sweet fruit. Then you finish it off with some lime and fresh basil leaves, making the dish so fragrant and heavenly that you might be inspired to start a Mango Fried Rice food cart. I didn’t make it too oily, but the frying is definitely a part of its addictiveness (although you can feel free to cut the oil by half or so). And hey, if you do start that cart, please come see me in Omaha!
I think this is a meal in itself, what with the cashews for protein, and the fiber from the veggies and rice. But if you want, you can saute up some tofu (use the Cast Iron Stirfry method) and toss it in, or try the Asian Baked Tofu from Veganomicon.
Thai basil has a more anise-licorice flavor and would be ideal here. It’s hard to get where I live and so I’ve grown accustomed to regular old basil in my Southeast Asian cooking. A thin metal spatula works best for this, because it slips under the rice easily, and prevents sticking. If you like, you can replace the mango with pineapple, no problemo.
I’m no mango-slicing aficionado by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it’s slapstick comedy to watch me dissect one. But this is what I do: peel off the skin with a veggie peeler, stand it on it’s head and use a chef’s knife to slice off one side along the pit. Once you’ve got that side sliced off, you can lay the mango on its side for balance and slice off the rest of the fruit, getting as close to the pit as possible. Then just cut into manageable pieces, they don’t have to be perfectly uniform, you’re not on Top Chef. But if you want to do a truly pro job on the mango, try this method from The Kitchn.
And lastly, the rice has to be cold for this recipe to work correctly, otherwise it will get mushy and sticky. Many supermarkets carry frozen bags of rice for reasonable prices. I’ve made this recipe with a standard 20 oz bag of rice in mind (Whole Foods has frozen Jasmine rice, even.) But you can certainly freeze your own! Just steam it up, fluff it and place in a mesh strainer. Refrigerate the rice to cool completely, while still in the colander so that it cools quickly and evenly. Then place rice in a freezer bag and freeze until ready to use. I always keep a bag at the ready for quick weeknight meals, veggie burgers, what have you. For this recipe, you can just toss the rice in frozen. No big whoop.
Oh I lied…this is the last thing: to crush coriander seed, place in a plastic bag and roll a rolling pin across it (or a can of beans works, too.) Ok now, let’s get ricing!
3/4 cup unroasted cashews (if using roasted cashews, skip the toasting step)
6 oz green beans (about 1 1/2 cups), ends removed, sliced into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
1 medium red onion, diced medium
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seed
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 cups cold jasmine rice
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce (tamari is gluten free, soy sauce is not)
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 tomato, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 mangos, peeled, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
15 basil leaves, chiffonade (that means rolled up and thinly sliced, but you can just chop it, too)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Preheat a large heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Toss in the cashews and dry toast them for about 5 minutes, flipping occasionally. They should be slightly browned in some spots, but it’s okay if they’re unevenly browned, you don’t have to be too precise about it. Transfer cashews to a large plate.
Now we’re going to sear the green beans. Turn the heat on the pan up to medium-high. Add the green beans, a scant tablespoon of oil and a dash of salt. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the beans are bright green and seared. Transfer beans to the same plate as the cashews.
Add the onions to the pan along with another tablespoon of oil and a dash of salt. Toss for about 3 minutes, until onions are slightly charred but still firm. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander and red pepper flakes, and toss for 30 seconds are so, being careful not to burn.
Add another tablespoon of oil and about half of the cold rice. Toss to coat, then add in the remaining rice, tossing once again. Cook for about 3 minutes, tossing often, until warmed through.
Add the tamari, hot sauce and tomato, and toss. Cook for another 3 minutes, until the rice has browned sufficiently and the tomato is slightly broken down.
Add the string beans and cashews, mangoes, basil leaves and lime juice. Cook just until mangoes are heated through and basil is wilted, a minute or two. Taste for salt (don’t add more tamari, just add salt if it needs it) and serve, garnished with cilantro if you like, and with a bottle of Sriracha close by.
Makes 8 mini loaves
I’ve been pushing the loaf gospel for a few months now, but mini loaves are possibly even greater, because they offer faster baking times, portion control and that coveted adorability that we all look for in a baked good.
But why my obsession with loaves lately? I suppose I know. My 39th birthday came and went and I think that means I’m my version of an adult now. Not only do I not want all the excess of buttercream frostings, but I also just plain don’t feel like making a separate topping for my sweets. Confectioners sugar everywhere, a million dishes to do – grumble, grumble, get off my lawn. I guess I’m paring down and simplifying. Everything in one bowl and let’s get this show on the road, I got shtuff to do!
What I love about loaves is that they’re streamlined. They don’t need an icing, and they don’t seem naked without one. And unlike a muffin, they aren’t associated with anything healthy, and so you don’t expect a hemp seed to leap out and bite you on the nose (hate when that happens.) They’re homey and cozy and they’re definitely not attention seekers, unless the knowing glance from another wizened loaf-connoisseur is the attention you’re seeking. And I guess that’s where I am with my life right now. Fire places and bike trails, gardens and knit blankets. Loaves.
But simple doesn’t mean boring! I still want to have fun, and nothing says fun more than oozy chocolate and sweet jubilant cherries. Still fun, but not underwear-in-your-purse-looking-for-a-cab-at-4:15-am fun. That’s cupcake fun. Let’s have some loaf fun.
Recipe notes: I love this method of mixing applesauce with nut butter as your fat. I think I invented it so don’t steal it. (TM!!!!) It gives you fiber and protein and nutrients that oil or straight-up applesauce in baked goods wouldn’t, and it’s also great for structure, crumb and flavor. I believe if you’re following a no-oil diet then this recipe is kosher for you (although you may want to remove the chocolate chips?)
This is the loaf pan I use and I love it. It makes 8 loaves. Amazon has a similar one that gets good reviews. If you have smaller sized loaf pans, just be mindful that baking times may vary. Give about 3 to 5 more minutes for each extra loaf in your batch. If you want to use an 8×4 loaf pan then bake for about 50 minutes, up to an hour. If you want to use muffins, then 12 muffins should take about 20 minutes.
If you’re subbing for a nut allergy, try 2 tablespoons oil and one more tablespoon applesauce in place of the nut butter, or try sun or soynut butter.
Last note, I love to use chocolate chunks here because of the aforementioned ooziness. You can sub chocolate chips of course.
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup natural almond butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup almond milk (or your preferred vegan milk), at room temp
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons boiling water, divided
3/4 cup dry sweetener (any type of sugar or evaporated cane juice)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract (optional – you can use another t vanilla)
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz chocolate bar, chopped into 1/2 inch or so chunks
1 cup chopped sweet cherries (thawed if using frozen)
Preheat oven to 350 F and lightly spray a mini loaf pan with cooking spray. Also, boil some water in a tea kettle (no need to measure yet.)
Put applesauce, almond butter, milk and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl. Measure out 1/3 cup boiling water and pour into the bowl with the chocolate mixture, mixing quickly with a fork to make a thick chocolate sauce. Add sugar and extracts and mix well.
Sift about half of the flour, along with the baking soda and salt, into the chocolate mixture, and gently stir just to incorporate, then measure out 1 tablespoon of boiling water and stir again. Now add the rest of the flour mixture and another tablespoon of boiling water and stir just until smooth. Take care not to overmix. Fold in the chocolate chunks and the cherries.
Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf pans, about 3/4 of the way.
Bake for 26 to 28 minutes. The tops should be puffy and firm. Stick a steak knife into the center of the loaf to check for doneness. A little bit of wetness is okay since it could be from a chocolate chunk or a cherry, but the knife should come out mostly dry.
Let cool for 10 minutes, then invert pan and place loaves on a cooling rack to cool some of the way. It’s yummy when still a bit warm, with the chocolate chunks oozy and melty. Wrap extra loaves in plastic wrap to keep from drying out. If not using within a day, refrigerate wrapped loaves.
Time: 30 minutes (not including sunflower seed soaking time)
The most important people in my life are my recipe testers. Luckily, my sister and mom are included in their numbers, so all of my bases are covered.
Recipe testers are why my cookbooks work. Before a recipe gets to you, it has already been tested by a bunch of people, all over the world. They all have different levels of experience, from beginner cooks to lifelong kitchophiles. Some live in rural areas and harvest their own kale, while others lug huge bushels home from the farmer’s market on the subway. And there’s a happy medium in between.
But not only do testers test my recipes, they also give me inspiration. I can ask if there’s anything I’m missing, anything they’re craving, or just any ingredients they need to use up. It’s a great way to get ideas!
And over the years, I’ve learned many of their quirks, likes, loves and allergies. One of my most favoritest testers who has been there with me from the very beginning is Jess Sconed. I can’t say enough about her amazingness! I mean, not just as a recipe tester but as a friend and as a person. She is always creating something, always making the vegan community a better, more awesome, and more fun place. She started Vegan Iron Chef and is one of the organizers of Vida Vegan Con. She has like 20 blogs, but you might know her from Get Sconed, where she’s been blogging for ever. This recipe, created in her honor, is totally fitting because she’s a lot like a sunflower. One with dyed black pigtails and purple nail polish, but a sunflower all the same! Just a glowing ray of tofu light.
I know how she feels about raw onions and cilantro (not too good), and so I often come up with recipes keeping that in mind. And recently Jess has developed a tree nut allergy! I can’t imagine a worse fate right now, what with the cashew craze and my out of control almond butter lust. Knowing how much she loves vegan macs, I wanted to experiment with a sauce that I knew Jess would love, using ingredients that would be good for her, too. And so I pulled out the sunflower seeds.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Was this going to taste very 70s health-foody? I mean, it’s sunflower seeds. Our grandparents put them on their oatmeal. Would they even blend well? Cashews slurp up water and get tender and ready to puree. Sunflower kernels seem so hard and unwelcoming. I had my doubts, to be sure.
But all those doubt washed away as I poured the perfectly creamy sauce over the little macaronis in a positively cheddary orange waterfall. Sunflower seeds have a mellow nutty quality that fit right into a cheezy sauce. The backdrop of garlic and onion, with a hint of vegetable sweetness from carrots, and the rich toastiness from the sunflowers had me at the first creamy forkful. Bottom line: I really dug it! And from now on, I’ll have a canister of sunflower seeds standing proudly beside the cashews in my cupboard. Thanks for the inspiration, Jess!
I love to serve my mac with some steamed kale, so here was my plate.
The mac is under there somewhere! Steamed broccoli would be a good choice, as well. PS If you’d like to see all the testing that Jess did for Veganomicon, you can check out her post here.
8 oz macaroni pasta (I used whole wheat, use brown rice pasta to make it gluten-free)
1 cup unroasted sunflower seed kernels, soaked (see directions)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Sweet paprika for sprinkling
Place sunflower seeds in a bowl and submerge in water. Let soak for about 2 hours and up to overnight. Drain well.
Boil a pot of salted water for your pasta.
Preheat a sauce pot over medium heat. Saute carrots and onions in oil with a pinch of salt for about 10 minutes, until onions are translucent and carrots are slightly softened. Add garlic and saute for 30 seconds or so, then remove from heat.
Place the carrots and onions in a blender or food processor. Add vegetable broth, corn starch, nutritional yeast, tomato paste and sunflower seeds. Blend until very smooth. This could take up to 5 minutes depending on the power of your machine, so give your blender motor a break every minute or so and test the sauce for smoothness. It should be very smooth, with only a slight graininess.
If your water is boiling, prepare the pasta according to package directions.
In the meantime, transfer the sauce back to the sauce pot. Turn the heat up to medium and let cook, stirring very often, until thickened. This should take about 15 minutes. Add the lemon juice and taste for salt and seasoning.
The pasta should be done while the sauce is thickening, so drain and place back in the pot you cooked it in. Set aside.
When sauce is thick, pour most of it over the pasta, reserving some to pour over individual servings. Mix it up, and serve with extra sauce and paprika for sprinkling.
Makes 4 big burgers
Time: 1 hour 15 minutes || Active time: 30 minutes
You know the song, two all-beet patties, special sauce, lettuce, “cheeze”…har har.
Well, everyone loves burgers and this is a fine, upstanding, burger-citizen made with some of my favorite ingredients. Brown rice, lentils and beets! They all combine to form the perfect storm of vegan burgerness.
It’s not that they taste exactly like hamburgers or anything, but they do taste exactly like awesome veggie burgers. Rice provides awesome texture, to give you a substantial bite. Lentils are my go-to ground meat so they were a natural addition. And beets are the veggie burger hotness right now! I’ve tried beet burgers at many a restaurant, and I’ve been itching to come up with my own recipe. They give the burger an intense (vaguely disturbing) meat-like appearance, but they also add a lot of flavor, earthy and slightly sweet. Just something that takes your VB to the next level.
I like to make these burgers BIG. Ya’ know, dinner sized. In reading the Wikipedia about the history of the Quarter Pounder (or Royale With Cheese, for you Pulp Fiction fans), the inventor of the burger says he “felt there was a void in our menu vis-à-vis the adult who wanted a higher ratio of beet to bun.” OK, he said meat not beet, but whatever. And I have to agree. There’s a certain satisfaction to eating your way around the burger before digging in to a full-on bun bite.
To make these more fast-foody, top with shredded lettuce, sliced dill pickles, finely diced onion and ketchup. I would add a layer of avocado instead of a vegan cheese, but that’s just me. They really don’t even need it.
One very important part of this recipe is the cooking method. You want to get the burger charred. Not burnt, but charred, which really just means, uh, burnt only in some places. The best way to achieve this is with a very hot cast iron pan. Other pans may react different to high heat, and may not give you that perfect char. So if you’re not using a cast iron pan, the next best thing would be to transfer them to a baking pan after cooking, brush with oil and stick them under the broiler for a few minutes.
Recipe notes: If you’d like to make these gluten-free, just use gluten-free breadcrumbs – ground up gluten-free pretzels would be ideal. And if you’d like to bake them instead, do so at 375 F, 8 to 10 minutes each side, then stick under the broiler to brown them. If you’d like to use a different nut butter, I would recommend cashew or sunbutter. I think PB will be too strong, but who knows? I use a food processor to make these happen quickly, so you’ll have to do some finagling if you don’t have one. And one last tip: I keep a package of frozen brown rice handy at all times. It’s perfect for occasions like this when you just need a little bit for an ingredient.
And don’t forget the fries! Garlic Curry Fries are perfect with these. OK, it’s burgertime!
1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown rice (see recipe notes above)
1 cup cooked brown or green lentils, cooled, drained well
1 cup shredded beets
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme, rubbed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel (or finely crushed fennel seed)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs
Olive oil for the pan
Peel beets and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, then set aside. Change the attachment to a metal blade. Pulse the brown rice, shredded beets and lentils about 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together, but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat:
Now transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated, so get in there and take your time, it could take a minute or two.
Place the mixture in the fridge for a half hour to chill.
Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high. Now form the patties. Each patty will be a heaping 1/2 cup of mixture. To get perfectly shaped patties, use a 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter or ring mold (I have pics of how to do it here.) Otherwise, just shape them into burgers with your hands.
Pour a very thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Do two at a time if you’re pan isn’t big enough. Drizzle in a little more oil or use a bottle of organic cooking spray as needed. Burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through.
Serve immediately. But they taste pretty great heated up as well, so if you want to cook them in advance, refrigerate, then gently heat in the pan later on, then that is cool, too.
Time: 45 minutes
There’s a falafel joint down the street from me that makes these amazing curry fries and you can smell them from a block away. They are so tantalizing, but baked fries are sooo much healthier and totally quench my curry fry craving.
These baked fries do take a bit of work. You need to parboil them, plunge them into ice water and then bake. But I wouldn’t post this recipe if it weren’t totally worth it! It’s everything a fry should be; a creamy interior while crispy on the outside. And it’s one of those things that, if you do it once, the next time it won’t be such a big deal and the time after that even less so. Looking over the directions I’m surprised at how much work it looks like when in reality it is so easy!
The type of curry powder you use is important. I use the Penzey’s sweet curry blend. It’s fairly mild with a little kick, and not bitter like some curry powders can be. Oh, and expect yellow garlic fingers for a few hours because you have to handle the curry powder with your hands. Welcome to my world.
PS If you just want plain old baked fries, skip the curry step. Just drizzle on the olive oil and salt and you’re good to go! You can also use chili powder or Cajun spice or any spice blend you’re totally in love with.
Oh and also, don’t use sweet potatoes or yams here. They’re much too soft and will turn to mush if parboiled. I find that simply baking sweet potato fries works well. This method is just for russet potatoes.
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Microplaned garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
Organic cooking spray
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In the meantime, you’ll prep everything else and preheat oven to 425 F.
You want “steak fry” slices. So slice them about 1/4 inch thick and 3/4 inch wide.
Now prep your workspace. Fill a big bowl with ice water. Lay a kitchen towel on the counter and line it with paper towels. You’ll be plunging the fries into the ice water after boiling, and then placing them on the towel to blot dry.
Once the water is boiling, add the potatoes and cook for 3 minutes, no longer than that or they will get mushy so put on a timer if you need to. Now drain the potatoes and immediately plunge them into the ice bath to stop them from further cooking.
Once completely cool, place potatoes in a single layer on the towel to drain. Blot the tops with a paper towel as well, so that they’re mostly dry. A little moisture is necessary, though, to get the coating to stick. You just don’t want a puddle.
Pour the ice water out of the bowl and wipe it dry. Scoop the curry powder into the bowl and mix in the salt. Now use a microplane grater to grate about a tablespoon of garlic into the bowl (just eyeball it.) Alternatively, you can finely mince the garlic until it’s almost a paste. Drizzle in the oil and mix with a fork.
We’re in the home stretch now! Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Toss a handful of potato slices into the curry powder and remove each one, rubbing in the curry powder. Do this in about 4 batches, being careful not to get huge chunks of curry on any one potato. It should be evenly distributed amongst the fries.
Place fries in a single layer, spray with a little extra cooking spray, bake for 8 to 12 minutes on each side until golden brown and tender inside. If you’d like extra browning, place under the broiler for a few minutes, keeping a close eye. Serve hot!
Serves 6 to 8
Time: 45 minutes
I’ve been on a mission to build a better vegan beef stew. Anyone can throw some wine and tomatoes into a pot but even with all the right ingredients, it’s all too easy to make a flat stew. I wanted deep complex flavors, a thick and silky base, chunky carrots and potatoes cooked just right. And of course, beefiness. And I wanted it to all happen in one pot. A simple filling stew shouldn’t destroy the entire kitchen.
Put plainly, I wanted the “DAAAAYAMN!” factor. Nothing too fussy, but a bowl that not only comforts you on a cold winter’s night, it straight-up makes you look forward to the snowiest, windiest, all-the-roads-shut-downiest night possible, just so you can make stew.
So I pulled a Cook’s Illustrated and made vegan beef stews all week. Chipping away at the recipe, then building it back up. I tried several different “beefs”; tofu, tempeh, and seitan, finally settling on a mix of homemade vegan sausage and dried porcini mushrooms. Tofu was a little too mushy, or took too much work to make it not mushy. Tempeh just crumbled too much, despite my best efforts. The seitan sausage provides flavor and hearty texture without needing to be sauteed, while the porcinis create a sultry broth and a falling-off-the-bone meatiness (that phrase isn’t gross when you consider that there aren’t any actual bones here, right?) that just sings “Beef Stew.”
For the base I knew I didn’t want a limp tomato sauce. In fact, I wanted to steer away from tomato as much as possible. I tried lentils as a backdrop but it was too…lentil-y. I also tried starting with a roux, and it was yummy but too thick…more like a sauce than a stew, plus it made the veggies cook unevenly. Finally, I settled on a slurry — a mix of water and flour that can be added after the veggies have cooked. When slowly heated it becomes thick (but not too thick) and velvetty, and holds in all the great flavor from the wine, mushrooms and spices. Just a touch of tomato paste provided even more body and a hint of tang.
The other challenge was getting the veggies to cook perfectly. Potatoes overcook easily and I didn’t want potato soup. Adding the potatoes after the initial ingredients come to a boil and then simmering them until tender is a fool proof method. Then the slurry is added and cooked just long enough to marry the flavors and create TSH (Total Stew Harmony.)
So yeah, long-story-that-I-just-made-you-read-short: I love this stew! The one thing that maybe isn’t ideal is that you need to have the sausages on hand, but they are so very easy to whip up. Make a batch the night before and you’ll have more than you need for this recipe so it’s totally worth it. But there are some alternatives, see below.
Can you make this gluten free?
Yes! Sub the flour for 2 tablespoons organic cornstarch or 1/4 of your favorite gluten free flour mix. Sub the sausages for thawed extra firm frozen tofu with the water pressed out (this was my second favorite “meat” while experimenting.) Slice tofu into 1/2 inch thick triangles. Add an extra 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seed to the stew for sausage-y flavor.
Can you use a different dried mushroom?
Yes! Shiitake or portobello will work. But chop them up a little finer before adding.
Can you use seitan instead of sausages?
Yes! Use 2 cups of sliced seitan but saute it first, then remove it from the pot and add later, otherwise it will be rubbery.
Can you make this in a slow cooker?
I haven’t tried it. Why don’t you give it a shot and let us know?
Ok, now let’s stew!
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, quartered and thickly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium carrot, peeled, sliced on a bias, 1/2 inch thick
1 cup red wine
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel or crushed fennel seeds
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 oz dried porcini mushrooms
3 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 pounds potatoes (any type), lazily peeled, cut in 1 1/2 inch chunks
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 vegan sausages, sliced into chunky half mooons
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium high heat.
Saute onions and a pinch of salt in oil until until translucent, 4 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, for about a minute, until fragrant.
Add carrots, wine, rosemary (crushed in your fingers), thyme (crushed in your fingers), paprika, fennel, fresh black pepper and salt and bring to a boil. The liquid should reduce in about 3 minutes.
Add porcinis and vegetable broth, cover and bring to a full boil for 5 minutes or so, to quickly cook the procinis. Now add the potatoes, lower heat and bring to a simmer (not a full boil). Let the potatoes cook just until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
In a measuring cup, mix the flour into the water with a fork until no lumps are left. Slowly add the broth/flour to the pot, mixing well. Mix in the tomato paste. Let thicken for 5 minutes or so. Add the sausages and continue to cook. In about 5 more minutes it should be perfectly thick but still smooth. Taste for salt and seasonings, and serve! Sprinkle individual servings with fresh parsley if you want to be 70s food chic.
Makes 4 Sausages
Time: 50 minutes || Active time: 10 minutes
I realized I don’t have a super basic sausage recipe on the site and so here it is! The now classic, always magical, seitan and bean steamed-in-tinfoil sausage. Perfect for grilling, sauteeing or tossing into stews.
In case this is your first time making a vegan sausage, here’s what’s going down: You’re going to mash some beans in a mixing bowl and then throw in the other ingredients and mix. Then you’re going to roll ‘em in tinfoil like a Tootsie Roll, and steam them. And then, like magic, you will have vegan sausages. Easiest thing in the world! A few versions of these sausages appear in Vegan Brunch.
1/2 cup cooked white beans (great northern or navy), rinsed and drained
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon olive oil *or* 1 tablespoon tomato paste (tomato paste is a great fat replacement)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon granulated garlic *or* 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely grated
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed, crushed *or* 1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Several dashes fresh black pepper
Before mixing your ingredients, get the steaming apparatus ready, bringing water to a full boil. The rest of the recipe comes together very quickly.
Have ready 4 square sheets of tin foil. In a large bowl, mash the beans until no whole ones are left. Throw all the other ingredients together in the order listed and mix with a fork. Divide dough into 4 even parts (an easy way to do this: split the dough in half and then into quarters). Place one part of dough into tin foil and mold into about a 5 inch log. Wrap dough in tin foil, like a tootsie roll. Don’t worry too much about shaping it, it will snap into shape while it’s steaming because this recipe is awesome.
Place wrapped sausages in steamer and steam for 40 minutes. That’s it! You can unwrap and enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.
Thanks for participating! All 1000 plus of you. I included both entrants here and on the PPK 100 post and came up with 4 winners. Winners, I will be contacting you shortly. And the winners are…
Willow who said
“I absolutely need to start making “broth bags” (#11). I always over think making broth, and end up buying because it’s just easier, but this might just make my life easier.
Broth in the crockpot? perfect right? You just throw it in there and forget about it.
The Quinoa sushi is also on my list…”
Willow will also get the $100 donation to the kitty charity of her choice.
Sarah Cowett who said
“I think I could make a vegan meal from your list. For the main course, my family and I love tacos, and I would definitely love to try out the lentil taco meat. Also, although the thought of green smoothies is unappetizing to me, one that tasted like Skittles might make me change my mind! Finally for dessert, the Obsessive Confection Disorder caramels look insanely gorgeous.”
Bonnie who said
“Make your own mixes was genius for me. Being a mom of four this makes a quick grab and eat kind of deal. Hope I win!!!
Love all you do,
matthew who said
“I really want to have at the vegusto cheeses!“
In order to keep it you gotta’ give it away! Or so they say.
It’s been awhile since I’ve hosted a giveaway. Why am I hoarding all my stuff? And so I am going to go a little wild on this one and give you lots of chances to win.
What will you be winning? Well, four winners each will win a PPK T-shirt and your choice of any of my softcover books! I’ll sign the book and personalize it to anyone you like.
So you get this hot tee in your size (Unisex or Women’s fit):
And to sweeten the pot, for one lucky winner, Teal Cat Project will donate $100 to the kitty cat charity of your choice. I KNOW! Best giveaway ever.
I am not going to make you “like” and “tweet” and do cartwheels and cast magic spells. All you have to do in order to enter this giveaway is check out the Post Punk Kitchen 100, and answer either of these questions here in the comments: Which items do you look forward to trying this year? Or… what have you tried and loved? If you’d like to share the PPK 100 on Facebook and Twitter, hey, I won’t complain! But it won’t affect whether or not you win. All winners will be picked randomly and the shipping must be to the US, Canada or Mexico. (Sorry other continents.) Winners will be chosen sometime tonight and you MUST leave a valid email address to be eligible. If you win and don’t respond to my email within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen. You snooze, you lose!
Ok thanks for playing, everyone! Good luck and have fun.