July 9, 2013

Chickpea Salad Sammiches

Makes enough for 4 sandwiches
Total time: 10 minutes || Active time: 10 minutes

Chickpea Salad Sammiches

“Um, Isa?”

“Yes, Internet?”

“Do you think we’re stupid?”




“Let’s not play this game. Just write your childish Chickpea Salad Sammich post, as difficult as we’re sure it will be, and then  maybe we can move on to matters that require a little more brainpower. Like, I don’t know, tying our shoes, or a game of tic-tac-toe, or I know, let’s count to ten*!”

OK, I get it. Why don’t I just put up a recipe for Peanut Butter And Jelly. But, listen.

Not everybody knows! Not EVERYBODY knows that you can mash chickpeas up, just like tuna, and it is fanfreakintabulous. You can throw it on some whole wheat bread with tomato and lettuce and it will taste like childhood, but better. Most people, yes, but not everybody knows. And so I’m here to spread the word. Not to you. Of course YOU are brilliant and you’ve known this forever and maybe you even invented it you’re so freaking smart. But this is for the lost souls in the far corners of the internet. If you don’t know, now you know.

*OMG why is the internet so mean??!

This post is part of my Homemade Mayo series, where I’m highlighting a few basic recipes that call for mayo. However, you can use storebought, if you like!

Recipe Notes

~You can really dress this up or down. This is the recipe at its most basic. Add some dried seaweed for a more fishy taste. Add some chopped sunflower seeds for more bite. A curried chickpea salad? Sure! Add a tablespoon of curry powder and some red grape halves.

~You can accomplish this recipe in a food processor if you prefer it to a cutting board. First, process the chickpeas into a chunky mash. Do NOT puree. This isn’t hummus. Transfer to a bowl. Now process the carrots and celery into small pieces. Add to the bowl. Throw in everything else. Yum!

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (a 15 oz can rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup vegan mayo, homemade or storebought
1 medium carrot, peeled and very finely chopped (almost minced)
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onion flakes
Salt and pepper to taste

For the sammiches:
Sliced tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
Whole wheat bread
Extra mayo for a’spreadin

In a mixing bowl, use an avocado masher or a strong fork to mash the chickpeas well. They should retain some of their texture and not appear pureed. A few whole ones left are ok.

Mix in the mayo and give a few more mashes. Mix in the carrot, celery and onion flakes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Assemble into sandwiches, toasted or not, and serve sliced in half.


July 7, 2013

Homemade Grapeseed Mayonnaise

Makes 1 1/2 cups
Total time: 15 minutes || Active time: 15 minutes

homemade vegan mayo

Most people figure it out as children: Are you a mayo person or not? My sister Michelle wasn’t. She was straight-up ketchup. But I needed few excuses to slather, dip and otherwise defame any morsel with some mayonnaise. Cans of tuna with lots of it; slather it on the bread, too. Salads, burgers, French fries (how European of me)…you name it, it got mayo.

But I’m not sure what makes a mayo person a mayo person. Is everyone else just afraid of living? In fact, I could hold a spoonful of it in front of my sister’s face if I wanted to see her cry. But I only did that once in awhile.

And I still love mayonnaise. There are plenty of decadent and delicious vegan varieities on the market these days (and, yes, plenty of not so great ones, too.) But there’s just something so homey about making your own! A connection, I guess. To the land, to your kitchen, to life, and probably mostly to your blender.

The thing is, I haven’t had that much success with a convincing homemade vegan mayo. I mean, pureed tofu and stuff can be good but in the end it’s still pureed tofu. I want something thick and fatty and creamy and tangy — something that would make my sister cry. And I think I’ve found it!

Vegan mayo

For the oil, I chose grapeseed because I based it on my favorite storebought vegan mayo: Vegenaise in the purple jar! But I bet olive oil would work, or maybe an olive / canola combo? I am also in love with the Olive Oil Flaxseed Lowfat Vegenaise so in went the flax seeds, and I think that’s what’s making the difference, helping to emulsify and stabilize the ingredients and keep everything on the up and up.

This homemade version was so fresh and delicious, it just leveled up everything it touched. My chickpea salad sandwiches became even more precious. My potato salad was a work of art. I used some as the base for a ranch dressing, and dolloped a little (ok a LOT) on a veggie burger. And life was good. And my sister, well, she was three states away and safe…for now!

Hope you enjoy, and come back later this week for a few recipes utilizing this mayo, including this simple Chickpea Salad Sammich!

chickpea salad sandwich

Recipe Notes

~I think that the kind of milk you use here is way important. Choose the most neutral tasting milk you can find. I would NOT go for hemp or oat milk here. I used unsweetened original flavored Blue Diamond Almond Milk. I know that other almond milks have a pronounced almond taste, so if you can’t find Blue Diamond, then I’d go for an unsweeteend unflavored soymilk. I wish Vitasay still existed in the states! But life is cruel and it doesn’t.

~Depending on the strength of your blender, your times may differ. The important thing is to pay attention to consistency through each step. I use a Breville, which I love and recommend! But no matter your machine, you have to get the flax seeds good and blended, so that the flecks are barely noticeable. That activates its gloopy properties and will also make your mayo prettier.

~ The other important thing to remember is that the oil needs to be added little by little. A lot of mayo recipes say to stream it in slowly but all at once, and I don’t think that is quite necessary. Just add it a tablespoon or two at a time, blend for awhile, then add more.

~The taste of this mayo is very strong at first; the vinegar and salt mellow out over time, so don’t adjust straight from the blender. Let it chill for at least a few hours before deciding on any tweaking you’d like to do for next time.

~Can you use a different vinegar? I’d think so! Distilled white, or apple cider will probably work well. I just prefered the taste of white wine vinegar. I use lemon juice, too, because it adds a brightness to the mix that the vinegar alone lacked.

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (see note)
1 1/2 tablespoons ground golden flax seeds (sometimes called flax meal)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup grapeseed oil

Combine milk and ground flax in a blender. Blend on high speed until flax meal is barely noticeable, and the mixture is frothy, about a minute.

Add the sugar, dry mustard, onion powder, salt, vinegar and lemon juice, blending for a few seconds to combine.

Now begin to add the oil. With the blender running, use the hole at the top to stream in a tablespoon at a time, blending for about 30 seconds after each addition (if using a high power blender like Vitamix 5 to 10 secs should do it.). Give your blender a break every now and again so that it doesn’t heat up the mayo. You should notice it thickening by the halfway point. By the time you’ve used 3/4 of the oil, it should be spreadable. And with the last addition, you should have a thick mayo. If it seems watery, keep blending.

It will probably taste saltier and tangier than you’d like straight out of the blender, but trust me, the flavors mellow and becomes perfect. Transfer to glass tupperware, seal tightly and refrigerate for a few hours, and it will thicken even further. Use within a week.

June 30, 2013

Seitan Piccata

Serves 4
Total time: 45 minutes || Active time: 45 minutes

Seitan Piccata

Opening up my own tattered copy of Veganomicon on a Saturday night to make something special after a really rough day, I of course turn straight to the Seitan Piccata. I don’t need to read the recipe, it’s as much a natural function to me as walking and breathing. But I wanted to see exactly how it was written. Because the thing is, when I created it for Veganomicon I…well, I wasn’t as experienced at writing recipes as I am now.

That is to say: sometimes I look at the directions in older recipes and think “Holy hell, no way I’m doing all that!” As the years go on, I get, well not lazier, but let’s just say more efficient. Like any craft, recipe writing can take years to master. And so I present you with a revised Piccata. I’ve streamlined the directions a little, as well as the ingredients list, and this version is, I think, a little bit easier to accomplish on a weeknight. The changes I made were pretty basic: onions instead of shallots (since I always have them), upped the garlic (because, duh, more garlic always), upped the wine and added a little nooch for thickening. I also top with whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, and this time it was chives.

And so here’s an updated version with all of the lemony capery goodness intact! I hope that you’ll love it as much as (if not more than) the original.

Recipe Notes

~ I love to use Homemade Seitan in this recipe. And you can streamline the seitan recipe, too. Leave out the garlic since there’s plenty of garlic in the piccata. And why not go ahead and leave out the lemon juice, too. It results in a firmer seitan that works perfectly here.

~ To get everything done in a decent amount of time, follow this schedule: 1) Make the seitan a day ahead, giving it plenty of time to cool. 2) Start the mashed potatoes before everything else. 3) Saute or steam greens in the last 10 minutes of your piccata reducing. By that point, your potatoes should be done and the stovetop should be at least a little less hectic.

~ For the broth in the piccata sauce, you can totally use a cup of leftover broth from the simmered seitan. Add one cup of water to get the two cups you need, since the seitan broth will be very strong.

1 lb seitan, sliced into 1/4 inch thick strips
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups vegetable broth
1 pinch dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup capers, with brine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes

To garnish:
Chopped fresh chives or parsley

To serve:
Mashed potatoes (I used Caulipots from Appetite for Reduction)
Sauteed greens (I used red chard)

Preheat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat.

Dredge half the seitan slices in flour to coat. Add a thin layer of olive oil to the pan, and cook seitan until lightly browned, about two minutes on each side. Coat the other slices and repeat. Place the cooked seitan on a plate and cover with aluminum foil, to keep warm.

Do not rinse out the skillet, as you’re going to make the sauce in it. If there is enough oil left in the seitan the go ahead and saute the onions in it. if not, add a little oil and saute them for about 5 minutes, until lightly browned. Add garlic and saute for a minute or so.

Add the wine and raise the heat to bring to a rolling boil. Add the vegetable broth, salt, black pepper, and thyme. Let boil and reduce for about 7 minutes.

Lower heat, add capers and lemon juice, plus the nutritional yeast to thicken a bit. Cook for another minute or so, to heat the capers through.

Serve over mashed potatoes and greens, with plenty of sauce on top. Garnish with chopped chives.

June 17, 2013

Garden Corn Chowder With Basil & Chives

Serves 6
Total time: 40 minutes || Active time: 20 minutes

Garden Corn Chowder

For a girl that lives in Nebraska now, I sure don’t post enough corn recipes! And I must reallllly love corn chowder because there’s a different recipe for it in three of my books.

What I dig about this version, is that you really can dress it up or down for any season. It being almost summer and me with a freshly sprung garden, I like to run out and snip whatever fresh herbs call out at me. In this case, basil and chives. A few radishes poking their heads out? Well, great, let’s slice ‘em up and throw ‘em on!

I find that coconut oil and coconut milk give this chowder a heavenly richness while providing the perfect backdrop for all that corn flavor. The chowder is thick, rich and creamy with nice chunks of potato and carrot, and a little lime juice to give it a bit of ZING. It’s filling, yes, but also fresh and summery. I like a big pinch of red pepper flakes for some spice, but you can suit to taste. A jalapeno might be nice if you’ve got some around. Some chopped fresh tomato when they become ripe.

In the summer, serve with a salad (this Garlicky Zucchini Ribbon Salad, maybe?) and in the colder months, serve with a sandwich or just a nice crusty hunk of bread. Maybe a Banh Mi? It really can be a soup for all seasons.

Recipe Notes

~ This recipe uses a method that really makes corn chowder shine: let the corn cobs stew in the pot. They hold lots of maize-y flavor, so don’t let ’em go to waste. At the end, you remove the cobs and only your delicious soup knows they were ever there. I suppose you can use frozen corn instead, but only if you’re really crunched for time.

~ To slice corn from the cob without the corn bouncing all over the place, put the husked corn in a wide bowl and simply use your chef’s knife to slice down each side. The kernels will fall into the bowl. All will be well.

~ Many supermarkets have already husked corn in their produce department! I (shamefully) take that shortcut when I can, because it shaves like 10 minutes off prep time. Maybe more if you’re a little slower than me.

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cup fresh corn (from 5 to 6 ears)
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 lb thin skinned potato (like yukon gold), cut into 1/2 inch chunks
4 cups vegetable broth, divided
1 tablespoon corn starch or arrowroot
3/4 cup coconut milk, regular or lite
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
Fresh black pepper to taste

To garnish:
Chopped fresh chives (1/2 cup should do it)
Thinly sliced fresh basil (1/2 cup or so)
Thinly sliced radish
A few extra fresh corn kernels

Preheat a 4 quart soup pot over medium high heat. Saute onion in oil with a pinch of salt until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for another minute. Add corn and carrots and cook for 3 more minutes or so.

Measure one cup of the broth into a measuring cup. Mix in the cornstarch with a fork until dissolved. Set aside.

Add remaining 3 cups of broth to the pot, along with the potatoes. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, break the corn cobs in half and add them to the pot. Lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Remove corn cobs. Add remaining vegetable broth and starch mixture, and cook to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk, black pepper, salt to taste and lime juice.

Use an immersion blender to blend about half of the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender (get one!) then transfer about half of the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth then add back to the pot. If the soup is still steaming hot, make sure to either keep the opening on top of your food processor open, or lift the lid often for steam to escape. If steam builds up in a close container it can explode the lid off. Ouch.

Taste for salt and seasoning. Serve garnished with fresh corn kernels, fresh herbs and radishes.

June 7, 2013

Classic Vegan Caesar With Avocado & Chickpeas

Serves 4
Total time: 15 minutes

Classic Vegan Caesar

I rarely put the word “vegan” into a recipe because that would get tedious. But the reason I’m using it now is that I want to stress that this is a classic vegan Caesar. Not a classic Caesar, but a salad that vegans have been making for as far back as, I don’t know, the 1980s? The legend goes that some vegan awoke from a long VCR’ed Dynasty marathon, with a yearning for garlic and nutritional yeast… and the vegan Caesar was born.

When translating a Caesar salad, you want to capture the tanginess, the creaminess, the umami and the garlickyness. Vegan versions are all over the map, I’ve even published several kinds of Caesar, but this one is three things that cooks love to hear: quick, easy and simple!

The tahini is the creamy base, lending also an irresistible nuttiness. Nutritional yeast and dijon mustard provide the umami tang, and if your mustard is whole grain you get some texture, too. And then there’s garlic! This dressing is kept easy so that there’s no need to break out the blender, just a coffee mug and a fork will do. Use my tip below for a very lazy method of garlic prepping.

As for accoutrement, well, avocado and chickpeas are certainly my go to. But you can do it up in a gazillion different ways. Here are some of my favorite additions: toasted pine nuts, capers, olives, a handful of cooked quinoa, sliced baked tofu (from a package is fine), sliced warm Chickpea Cutlets (or any chicken-y thing), garlicky sourdough croutons, vegan bacon, (deep breath…ok, proceed), tempeh (Chimichurri or Garlicky Thyme), grilled seitan, grilled asparagus, grilled portobello, roasted squash. See? It’s really fun and versatile. And it will get you totally excited about salad! So crimp your hair, protest Reagan and get ready for some classic vegan deliciousness.

Recipe Notes

~ If you’re feeling super lazy about peeling garlic, here’s a trick: Grate it on a microplane, with the skin still on. The skin should stay on top of the grater and fall away. You won’t be able to grate the whole clove, but hey, all in the name of laziness! Just be sure not to start at the nub side (you know, that rough spot at the top of the clove) since it’s too rough to grate.

~ And another garlic thing: You don’t have to waste time measuring garlic into a teaspoon, just eyeball it. Since this dressing comes together in a snap, you can adjust to your tastes very easily.

~ Sometimes tahini does this thing where it seizes and looks curdled and stiff when you add water. I don’t know why! I do know that if you give it a minute, it will go back to normal. (Have you ever experience this weird phenomenon?)

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water (plus more for thinning)
2 teaspoons fresh grated garlic (see note)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt

8 oz romaine (2 hearts), chopped
Handful of baby arugula
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 avocado diced
Fresh black pepper to taste

Stir together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, or a coffee mug. Use a fork to blend smooth. Add additional tablespoons of water to thin, as needed. Taste for salt and seasoning. It should be slightly salty, because the saltiness will subside when you dress the salad.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the greens with the dressing. Add the avocado and chickpeas. Serve with fresh black pepper sprinkled on top.