Let's face it. Some dishes are cover girls and others just have good personality. What you see above is my latest version of Shepherd's Pie (we took a vote at my house and decided singular possessive was the right way to do that). Loaded with tiny green lentils, carrots, onions, celery and mushrooms and topped with well seasoned mashed potatoes. Oh, and the picture above is "veganish" because I happened to have some good Parmesan in the house. If you wanted to substitute almond Parmesan or some other vegan cheese or even seasoned bread crumbs on top, I think that would work just fine.
1 cup rinsed, picked over french green lentils
2 1/2 cups water
Put the lentils and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and boil for three minutes, then knock the heat back to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes. Once those are tender, strain them, but reserve the leftover cooking liquid. Add enough water to bring the liquid to about 1 1/4 cups. Stir in one heaping teaspoon or more of marmite if you have it. It gives a bit of beefy flavor. If you don't have marmite, you can use vegan vegetable bouillon (Not Beef or Not Chicken style) and feel free to replace the water with either a good red wine or stout or porter beer. The main thing is you want some flavorful juice to form a gravy later.
Rinse your saucepan (no meed to be fussy about it). Put in water again and chop up 1 1/2 pounds of potatoes into 1 inch cubes. I used Yukon Gold, but really any kind, even sweet potatoes are fine. Put on to boil for about 10 minutes or until fork tender. These can be held in the water until time to mash.
Spray or put a bit of your oil of choice in a skillet. Sauté the following (you can chop and throw in as you go--this goes pretty quickly:
1 diced onion (approximately 1 cup-ish)
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 package of cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced
3 cloves minced garlic (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper
Once everything is fragrant and fairly tender, throw the drained lentils in and just let everything get heated together a bit. Stir in your 1 1/4 cup of liquid, stir, and taste.
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons of water
Stir these two together to make a slurry. Once your filling is up to a boil, stir the slurry in. It should only take a minute for the mixture to thicken to a gravy like consistency.
Once the filling is ready, pour it into a casserole dish (or if you are using a cast iron skillet, just leave it in there. Why dirty another pan?
Drain the potatoes. Add 1 Tablespoon of fat of your choice (I used olive oil for this batch) and add 1/4 cup of non dairy unsweetened milk (remember that almond milk I made the other day? That's what went in my potatoes). I seasoned mine with 1 1/2 teaspoons of Jack Stack all purpose seasoning (I need an intervention on this stuff) but any seasoned salt you have would be fine, or even just salt a pepper. Start mashing. You don't care if they are a bit rustic, but you do want them mashed and not too chunky. I left the peels on mine, but it's your dinner. Do what you want. Once they are the consistency of how you like your mashed potatoes, dollop them over the filling and use the back of a spoon to kind of smooth it out. I then took the tines of a fork and made little lines in mine to hold the topping of Parmesan. Making ridges helps ensure you get some browning.
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
A few years ago, in preparation for a trip to New Orleans, I started looking for restaurants that served vegan food. Cafe Carmo was on my list of places to go, mainly because I read about this dish called the Vegan Rico. Those who had eaten it said it was listed as a sandwich but was more like a salad composed of a plantain patty nestled between a mess of salad greens and smoky, spicy vegan pulled pork all topped with avocado.
On that trip, we decided to go to Bennachin instead, and it was glorious. But that's a different story.
We've been back a few times since, but we have yet to eat at Carmo. After the first trip where we skipped it, I set about creating a dish that certainly sounds and looks like what others have described. Who knows it if compares? I suspect that they use jackfruit for their pulled pork, but I use these:
There is a lot to love about these Butler Soy Curls. The are non-GMO, for starters, and even better--they are made from the whole soybean. The beans are extruded at high temperature and pressure in a process that I assume is sort of like what happens at at Play-dough factory. And I mean that in the best way. I use these in a couple of different preparations. They are great as a stand in for chicken in dishes like chicken and dumplings, tortilla soup, or even stir fry. I'll show you some other time how I crisp it up for some applications (hint: it involves dredging in flour and spices after rehydrating and then running it under the broiler. Try this at your own risk and just don't burn it).
For the Rico, I rehydrate it in plain water to cover. Once the water has cooled and the curls can be handled, I squeeze the excess water out and put them in a sauce pan with a sauce made thusly:
2 minced cloves of garlic
1 can of tomatoes and chiles
1/2 a diced onion
dash of hot smoked paprika
salt and pepper
juice of one lime
4 ounces of soy curls rehydrated and drained
Saute the onions and garlic a bit to get some color on them and soften them. Add in the tomatoes and chiles, then add in the spices and the lime juice. Taste for seasoning and either run through the blender or use an immersion blender to smooth the sauce out a bit. You want the soy curls to be able to soak in some of that flavor.
I deliberately am not putting measurements on the spices because I like things pretty spicy and if you get mild chiles and tomatoes you can put more heat in than if you buy the hot ones. Also, some folks might have a pulled pork sauce that they love, which I'd be all for them using here. If you are not comfortable with winging it, start on the low end--1/2 teaspoon of each, and work your way up. I've also been known to put in some dashes of hot sauce. Play with it, use your own loved sauce, do whatever.
You can also throw the sauce blended into a slow cooker (without cooking first) and add a enough water to make the liquid cover your dry soy curls. You can skip the rehydrating if you do them on the stove top, as well, but they tend to hold a bit of the dehydrated flavor if you do that (I know, dehydrated flavor doesn't really make sense, and I'm not even sure it's not just in my mind, but I'm sticking with the phrase). You want the finished pulled curls to be juicy, but not runny. I finished the batch you see in the final dish above in a non-stick skillet, cooking down the sauce until it wasn't watery at all. The sauce gets a bit caramelized on the curls that way, sort of like they do in the slow cooker on the edges. Go with it.
The plantain patties might be a bit of an adventure if you've never had or cooked with plantains before, and if you'd rather not, you could substitute sweet potatoes for an equally yummy dish. I should come up with a name for that version. Plantains are great, though, and are wonderful sources of potassium. The patties could be used as a side dish, as they are great on their own. So, today you are getting two recipes you can use in different applications.
I like a two-fer.
3 fairly ripe plantains
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 seeded and chopped jalapenos (you know how hot you like it)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
1/4 cup flour (I use white whole wheat but you can swap out with a gluten free flour easily)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Select plantains that are fairly ripe. As you can see from the picture above, they should have some good black spots on them. To peel, cut the ends off and then cut in half. Slice through the peel as shown above and peel it back. Slice the peeled plantain into rounds and put in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for about 6 minutes or until soft enough to mash.
Once the plantains are cool enough to squash with your hands, go to town mashing them up (you can use a potato masher if you like). Add the remaining ingredients and mix together. Shape into four equal sized patties and brown in a non-stick skillet prepped with oil or cooking spray until golden brown.
Spread out some spring mix on a each of four plates. You can add whatever you like in a salad here. As you can see in the first picture, I put in some cucumber and bell pepper strips are also a nice addition. Place a patty on top of the salad, then top the patty with your soy curls and avocado slices. A healthy squirt of lime juice should do it.
I am mainly cooking/eating other people's food today, as I slept in and Dani is out with the other first years for dinner tonight. I did start the day with one of my favorite smoothies, though:
2 Tablespoons each of almond butter and cocoa powder
1 cup of plant-based milk (I used vanilla soy today)
Squirt of stevia (you might not need this, depending on how ripe your banana is)
3-4 ice cubes
Throw in the Vitamix and let'er rip. This could easily be two dessert servings, but I do like it for a breakfast treat all of my own. I especially like that there's no protein powder here, as the almond butter takes care of that requirement. And, cocoa powder is high in antioxidants.
Don't judge me.
Lunch today was a salad topped with a little "cheeze" sauce (I adapt the Simply Heavenly version by halving the recipe, leaving out the margarine and adding things like chili powder and hot sauce) and a tiny bit of guacamole I had left from dinner and that wouldn't fit in Dani's lunch (she's having black bean tacos for lunch). I pulled a couple of Josh's Black Bean Burger patties out of the freezer, thawed in the microwave and then crisped them up in a non-stick skillet. They went on top of the salad. Instant lunch.
I'm not sure what dinner might be, but I am thinking it might be a trial run of a recipe for chickpea crepes filled with roasted broccoli and new potatoes. My main experiment there is finding the perfect sauce to serve drizzled nearby. I may play with this base, using curry spices instead of ranch.
Since I have cooked black beans from yesterday, I'm also going to be giving these a try: Dr. Fuhrman's Fudgy Brownies. A lot of folks complained they had to add water, so I'm going to soak my date pieces before hand and have the soaking water on hand. I'll let you know how it goes.
There are likely folks who will say you cannot have a real Pho with no meat involved at all. And, when those folks make me Pho, I eat it as they made it :) Even when they lie to me and tell me that their balls in their Pho are not testicles when they so obviously are (remember that trip to Rock and Bowl in Springfield, Reneé?). Van Lang's beef ball Pho is at least a bit less frightening, as the balls are sliced.
I'm guessing you understand that I don't have a problem with Pho that has no meat. Here in town, Lulu's Noodle Shop is good, as is Vietnam Cafe over on Rainbow (I am pretty sure their broth is meaty). So, if you don't want to make your own, head to a local joint and see what you get. But don't be surprised if you wind up with a surprise or two in the bowl.
One of the things I love about Vietnamese food (and Thai and Korean food, really) is the way that each bowl or plate is a marriage of contradictions: sweet, savory, hot, cooked, raw, smoky, salty, tart--it's all in there.
Angel's Vegan Pho
Adapted from Cooking Light's Turkey Pho
Serves 4-6 people (how brothy your bowls are is key).
8 cups vegetable stock
3 Tablespoons low sodium soy (Tamari if you're gluten free)
2 Tablespoons of brown sugar
1 3 inch piece of cinnamon stick
Several slices of ginger root (I use a good amount of ginger)
In a tea ball or a muslin tea bag put:
5-6 whole cloves
4 star anise (I have used anise seed and even fennel seed here. The licorice notes are what you want).
Simmer all of that together for about 30 minutes. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning if necessary. Take out the chunky bits (the cinnamon stick, ginger, and tea ball).
Rice noodles are customary. I usually buy wider Pho noodles, but this is what they had where I shopped last. My preferred brand is Three Ladies, but these were good. I don't follow instructions here. Instead, I boil them for about 7 minutes, rather than doing the hot water soak method. I cook 2 ounces per person, and I cook the noodles right before serving. In other words, if there are only two people having a bowl, I cook four ounces, regardless of the fact I have enough broth for more than two folks. Then, noodles are cooked for leftovers. Rice noodles tend to get too soft if you cook, chill and reheat. But, you just do what's best for you.
In addition to the broth and noodles, one other non-negotiable thing for me is charred onions in my Pho. You can grill the char on, but I like to slice the onions in slices and leave them intact, putting them into a scorching hot iron skillet until they are charred on both sides. Once that's done, I move them to my cutting board and slice the rounds in half, separating the strands. I throw them in the mix of whatever stir fried vegetables I'm using in my bowl. The version above has some red, yellow, and green bell pepper strips stir fried with some chopped Napa cabbage with ginger and garlic. In addition, when I reheated my broth and veggies today, I threw in a couple of handfuls of mustard greens.
Anything you like could go in here, including proteins like tofu, seitan, soy curls, or even edamame. Mushrooms are great.
I also like to put my chili paste in the bottom of my bowl, so when I pour the broth in, I get a good mix. I put a little extra soy here, as well.
As important as the heat, though, are the garnishes. Here, we've got thinly sliced cucumber, torn mint and cilantro, and julienned carrot up top. This gets "dressed" liberally with fresh lime juice. You're going to want both chopsticks and spoon here, unless you're with family and can just pick up the bowl.
Every time I make Pho, it's a little different from the last version. Have fun with it by swapping out the vegetables you use.
The above bowl of sunshine above is one of our favorite soups around here. In fact, we recently both said that we may even, if we had to, choose this soup over gumbo (gasp!). Thankfully, we don't have to choose.
Harira recipes are all of the internet, of course, and in many cookbooks (there's a vegetarian version in Crescent Dragonwagon's Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread book, for instance, which I recently picked up in Lawrence when Beck and I went shopping there. Some recipes use noodles, others use rice, some have lamb, some have chicken. My version here is based on Emeril Lagasse's found here. All of the recipes that I've found, though, have some similarities--chickpeas and lentils in a gorgeous tomato and ginger laced broth. Want to learn more? Check out About.com's Moroccan Food page or Wikipedia's entry.
My goals here were to make this faster and less processed than my usual. I started making this with seitan chunks (the Seitanic Log O'greatness worked well, as it has cinnamon in it and the flavors worked well here), then progressed to Butler's Soy Curls. One of my food goals this year, though, is to use fewer analogues and we'd been saying forever that we thought just upping the bean levels would do the trick--and it did.
If you read some of the history, you'll find that there are a multitude of variations here. For instance, I've swapped out different types of lentils. Any lentils in your cupboard will do. I used green ones in this version as they hold up better and I wanted there to be plenty of variation in the textures. If you have meat or a meat substitute in here and the texture is more varied already, plain old brown ones work, as would yellow and red lentils.
If you don't have a pressure cooker (thanks, Joe!), you want to plan a bit ahead and watch the salt level in the beans as they cook (salty liquids make it hard to get your beans tender, but the pressure cooker helps counteract that). I'd follow Emeril's soaking instructions if you don't have the pressure cooker or hot soak the chickpeas first by bringing them to a boil for 2 minutes, turning off the heat and covering them and letting them sit for an hour. Drain and proceed as if you had soaked overnight.
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse's recipe.
Toss the following in your pressure cooker:
1 cup diced onion
1 clove minced garlic
3 ribs of celery diced
5 ounces chickpeas
5 ounces lentils
28 ounces diced tomatoes with their juice (canned)
2 teaspoons ground ginger root
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground pepper
6 cups of water or vegetable stock (I used my non-chicken broth from this magic recipe)
1/2 cup brown jasmine rice
I set my cooker for 40 minutes, which was just about perfect. I did a quick release on the pressure, as we were hungry! When you are ready to serve, taste it, adding any spices you need, and the juice of 1/2 a lemon to the pot.
Fresh parsley (I had some gremolata in the freezer that I used) Dried parsley stirred in works, too, in a pinch.
Approximately 6 servings.
I'm not certain when we started having Crescent Dragonwagon's Black Eyed Pea Falafel for New Years Day, but it was some years back. We both love falafel and these patties are the perfect combination of greens, peas, rice, and cornbread. Above, you see them on top of raw mustard greens, tomatoes, pickles and some raw cucumber, all on top of a Flat Out flatbread.
This recipe comes from The Passionate Vegetarian, which I got somewhat by accident. Years ago, I was a member of a cookbook club, the kind where they send you a postcard and you forget to send it back and then they send you a book. My officemate at the time, Dr. L, had a copy and told me I definitely wanted to keep this one. And, boy, was she right. I've since talked both sisters, Crochet Renee and Debbie, into getting their own copies. I think that this is one of those cookbooks that everyone should have in their arsenal, especially if they are transitioning from a SAD (standard American diet) to plant-based eating. Click below to order your own copy or to check out a sample.
The falafel above is one of the most frequent recipes I make from this, but I've sampled many. Some of my favorites include crepes Mornay with broccoli and mushrooms, tempeh Tejas with a sweet-hot jalapeño glaze, Dr. Feelgood's chocolate cake, and potato-crusted summertime skillet. The book is huge, so there's likely to be something in there for you. Even if you aren't in the mood to cook, Crescent is a story-teller, so the book is a fun read, as well as being fun to cook from. I've had my copy for probably close to fifteen years, and I still have slips of paper sticking out where I've marked recipes to try. Every time I get in a cooking rut and am not sure what I want to tackle, I get this out and start browsing.
Not ready to invest in the book? Check out CDW's Deep Feast site, where she lists links to many of her recipes folks have blogged about. She's been featured in tons of publications, so you might have even read or made a recipe by her from Relish and not known it!
Today's dish is really simple: Cauliflower Ceviche. We enjoyed this last night, but are having the remains for lunch today as part of a salad. Here's how to do this one:
1 pound bag of cauliflower, thawed and chopped up (yes, you can start with fresh and blanch it, but I like the no waste, no fuss of frozen).
1-2 seeded chopped jalapeño peppers (or whatever pepper you prefer)
2 cloves minced garlic
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 finely minced onion (red is great but yellow is what's in the picture above)
2 limes, juiced
1 bunch of cilantro or parsley minced
salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder to taste. I use a lot of cumin. I also put in a bit of hot smoked paprika
Stir it all together, taste it and add more spices if you want. This is also great with avocado thrown in or sweet bell pepper added. Serve with your chip of choice. Also great on a saltine.
Below is a picture of salad made with the leftovers. On our New Years Day menu is Crescent Dragonwagon's New South Falafel made with cornbread crumbs, black eyed peas, greens, and rice. It's in the Passionate Vegetarian, and the recipe doesn't seem to be available online, so I'm not going to share the recipe, but will share pictures tomorrow. I'll be doing one day a week where I cook someone else's recipe and do some book review type post, and that'll be the first one!
Angel lives in Camden, Arkansas where she writes stuff and sometimes sends it out to other people to read. She used to grade papers, but not anymore. Check out her main site to see what she's up to lately.