Monthly Archives: February 2015

Vegi-curious Udon Noodles

Vegetable Udon NoodlesIt’s starting to feel like the good ol’ days around my kitchen. My Mom is staying with us and I told her she has to help out with my blog to earn her keep. If you’ve been following my blog or have known me forever, you know that I have many fond memories of cooking with Mom and Grandma. Our recipes are different now, but the love that’s served up is still the same. Tonight we’re experimenting with Udon noodles. (Hey, we’re Italian, so we LOVE any kind of pasta.) You can find Udon noodles in the international aisle in the supermarket or in an Asian grocery. They are either sold fresh in vacuum packs in the refrigerator case or dried as pictured below. What I love about the dried noodles is how neatly they are portioned out and tied with a little ribbon. This recipe is loaded with broccoli, spinach, carrots, mushrooms and snow peas and flavored with a light vegetable broth. Mound some Udon noodles in a bowl and ladle the soup on top. A perfect comfort food for a cold winter evening. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Udon Soup
Servings: 4

12 oz.  frozen, fresh or dry Udon noodles prepared according to package directions

2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar (or 2 tsp. Mirin)
4 – 6 cups vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
1 cup medium tofu, cubed (optional)
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 cup matchstick carrots
2 cups spinach
1 cup snow peas, sliced in half
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 scallions, sliced
½ tsp. miso
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Bring broth, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar to a boil for one minute and reduce heat to a simmer.
Add tofu, broccoli, carrots, spinach, mushrooms, snow peas, scallions and cook for three minutes or until broccoli is tender. Stir in miso paste.
Divide noodles between four bowls and ladle soup on top. Add a pinch of sesame seeds on top.

Dry Udon Noodles

Dry Udon Noodles

Udon Veggies

Udon Veggies

25 Feb 2015

Keepin’ It Simple Veggie Plate

Potatoes , Mushrooms & Green Bean PlateSometimes you just want a wholesome meal that you can just throw together with whatever you have in  your fridge and pantry. Bruce loves baked potatoes, so this is always a go-to meal when I don’t feel like taking out my arsenal of recipes and ingredients. Tonight we had baked potatoes with sauteed mushrooms and green beans. (Did you know that 8% of a potato’s calories come from protein?) I prefer russet potatoes and like to bake them in the oven to get a nice crunchy skin; you can microwave them if you’re pressed for time. The technique for the green beans is the same one I use for Peas and Onions. You can use either fresh or frozen green beans with good results. For the sauteed mushrooms, I like to use cremini (aka Baby Bellas), but you can use any type of mushroom you can find. While you’re at it, why not throw in a few yams? Try sprinkling some nutritional yeast on the potato for a hint of cheddar cheese. How simple is that? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Sauteed Mushrooms

2 lbs. sliced mushrooms

4 cloves of garlic, minced

oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and garlic and saute until browned and most of their juices have evaporated. Stir in the herbs and remove from heat.

18 Feb 2015

Not-So-Fat Tuesday Gumbo

February 17th is Fat Tuesday. So what do Gumbo 002Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras and New Orleans have in common you might ask? Gumbo! Most varieties of gumbo are seasoned with the “holy trilogy” of onions, bell pepper and celery. Most people are familiar with seafood gumbo and chicken and sausage gumbo. (I leave them out and use liquid smoke and seaweed dust as my Gumbo Essence.) A roux is traditionally used as a thickener. Filé, which is ground sassafras, is generally not added until after the Gumbo has finished cooking. The use of filé is optional. The use of okra and tomato is an influence of the Creole (although the tomato was introduced by French chefs in the 19th Century). The length of cooking time determines the final flavor and texture. The longer the roux is cooked before being added to the gumbo, the darker it becomes and the more prevalent the roux flavor will be. However the more the roux is darkened the less thickening power it will have. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. This recipe for Gumbo is so full of goodness you can feast on it any day of the year. Thanks for being Vegi-curious!

Vegi-curious Gumbo

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons flour

2 green bell peppers, chopped
4 stalks of celery, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 quart vegetable broth
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon “No Chicken” Base (optional)
2 – 3 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons seaweed dust (optional)

1/2 lb. sliced okra, frozen or fresh
1 – 2 tablespoons Gumbo file

For the roux, heat oil in large Dutch oven until almost smoking. Add flour and stir until dark reddish-brown and is of the consistency of tomato paste.

Add peppers, celery and onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom of pot. Mix in bay leaves, oregano, thyme and cayenne pepper. Add broth, tomatoes, liquid smoke and seaweed dust. Boil for 15 minutes. Add okra reduce heat and simmer until okra is tender, about 15 minutes. Add in Gumbo file (start with 2 teaspoons and add more to achieve desired thickness) and continue cooking until juices are thickened. Ladle over white or brown rice.

Note: To make seaweed dust, grind 1/2 sheet of Nori seaweed in spice or coffee mill.


14 Feb 2015

Much Ado About Pasta

Quinoa PastaPeople sure do make a fuss about eating regular pasta that’s made with semolina and flour. Unless you’re allergic to gluten, it’s really not a big deal . . .  especially if you’re a plant eater. Nutrition “gurus” are always pushing the fiber issue because they know that the Standard American Diet is high in animal protein and refined foods (translates into “low fiber”). Let’s face it, if you eat a lot of other vegetables, beans, grains and fruit you’re getting plenty of fiber so there’s no need to feel guilty about eating a dish of pasta made with semolina flour. But if you insist on optimizing your fiber intake and still want to enjoy a tasty dish of pasta, there are a few options out there. Last night we had Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Quinoa Spaghetti. If you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, you can probably find something similar at a Whole Foods Market or any other health food store. Another one of our favorites is Tru Roots pasta, which is made with quinoa, brown rice, amaranth and corn flours. I picked this up at Costco, but you can order it online.  If I had to pick a favorite, it would be Tru Roots. The sauce pictured above is a mushroom marinara. Simply saute some mushrooms along with the onions and garlic in my Marinara Sauce recipe before adding in the crushed tomatoes. Serve with a big salad and, of course, some crusty Italian bread to sop up all that sauce. Simple, delicious, high in fiber . . .  and gluten free! Buon appetito and thanks for being Vegi-curious!

Quinoa Pasta

11 Feb 2015

Year of the Goat Vegetable Chow Mein

Vegi-curious Chow Mein

Vegetable Chow Mein

Today’s post is the last in the Year of the Goat series. This recipe for Vegetable Chow Mein is so quick, you don’t have to wait for a celebration to enjoy it. I usually have plenty of onions and celery on hand, so there’s no need for a trip to the store if you can do without the bean sprouts. This is another recipe that you can have fun with by adding in other vegetables like scallions, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, water chestnuts, baby corn, etc. I like to use Better Than Bouillon‘s No Chicken base. Serve it over white or brown rice with a little Chinese mustard.

Vegetable Chow Mein

2 large onions, thinly sliced
6 – 8 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
2 cups bean sprouts
1 cup vegetable bouillon
1 tablespoon corn starch
Reduced sodium soy sauce or Tamari to taste

Saute onions and celery in a dry, non-stick skillet until they start to soften. Add enough boullion to steam vegetables and cover skillet with lid. Add corn starch to remaining bouillon and whisk until dissolved. When vegetables are cooked to desired tenderness, add bean sprouts, remaining bouillon and soy sauce and heat for one minute. Serve over rice with Chinese hot mustard.

04 Feb 2015

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