Monthly Archives: July 2016

Make it a Good Morning: Egg-less Breakfast Sandwich

Egg-less Breakfast Sandwich

Egg-less Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast can be a challenge for some people making the transition from meat and dairy to plant-based eating. Many of us grew up eating eggs for breakfast. Eggs as eggs, eggs in omelettes, eggs in French toast, eggs in pancakes. One of my favorite breakfasts was an egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin or everything bagel. I’ve been experimenting with tofu scrambles lately and happened to have a small amount left over from a few days ago. I pressed about one-inch worth of the scramble into a small ramekin, sprinkled some non-dairy cheese on top, microwaved it for about 1 minute and placed it on a toasted English muffin. One bite and I was hooked. This is another recipe that’s not a recipe at all. You can find my tofu scramble recipe here or use one of your own, add your non-dairy cheese of choice and serve it on your favorite English muffin, bagel or bread. This little breakfast sandwich will give you something worth getting out of bed for. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.


30 Jul 2016

A Casserole for Every Season: Creamy Green Beans & Mushrooms

Green Beans & Mushrooms

Green Beans & Mushrooms

If you live in the US, you might be familiar with the green bean casserole that’s usually served around the winter holidays. It’s saved for special occasions because this decadent side dish made with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions is not something to be consumed on a regular basis. So why am I breaking with tradition and making it during the summer? Well, I happen to have mushrooms and a bag of green beans on hand. Besides, I don’t think the Pilgrims served it at their Thanksgiving banquet because green beans were not in season that late into the harvest. I decided to use my Instant Pot for this recipe. I started out making a mushroom gravy by sauteing onions and mushrooms in the Instant Pot, then added flour and a hearty vegetable stock. (I like the stock recipe from The Millenium Cookbook.) After adding the beans and pressure cooking for a few minutes, I stirred in a few dollops of cashew cream for another level of creaminess. A few shakes of truffle salt intensified the mushroom flavor. (Truffle salt may seem a bit extravagant, but a little goes a long way and is worth the indulgence.) I served the beans with corn on the cob and a baked potato, but they could be enjoyed as a complete meal or as a side to your favorite lentil loaf or seitan roast. These beans are healthy enough to be enjoyed any day of the year, yet decadent enough to serve as part of a holiday meal. Get to your local farm stand and pick up a bag of fresh green beans while they’re in season. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Green Bean & Mushrooms for Instant Pot

2 cups hearty vegetable broth
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz. white button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
1 lb. green beans, stems removed
Salt and pepper to taste (truffle salt adds a deeper mushroom flavor)

Set instant pot to saute setting. Add 2 tablespoons of broth and onions and cook until onions begin to soften and brown. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until lightly browned, adding more broth as needed to prevent sticking. Add flour and stir to coat. Add remaining broth and continue cooking until thickened (should be the consistency of a thick gravy). Add green beans and ¼ cup of water and stir. Set instant pot to manual setting and pressure cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes, then quick release pressure. If the bottom of the insert has browned, simply scrape up with rubber scraper to incorporate with the beans and sauce.


26 Jul 2016

Coming Around: Pepper, Onion & Mushroom Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble

Tofu Scramble

I’m slowly coming around to liking tofu scrambles. I’ve only had them once or twice before and they were usually made with a heavy hand for oil and/or turmeric. Tofu is like a sponge. It’s rather bland-tasting on its own, but can absorb the flavors (and fats) of whatever it’s cooked with. For some reason I felt like having something “eggy” today and decided to try my hand at a scramble. Since I already had some leftover grilled veggies from last night’s dinner, I went with what I had — bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. Zucchini and spinach would work nicely as well. For the “eggy” part of the scramble, I used firm tofu and cashew cream. I seasoned it with black salt (for a hard-cooked egg taste), nutritional yeast (say “cheese”) and turmeric for color. I was quite pleased with the results. The combination of tofu and cashew cream gave it that nice, soft mouth-feel of perfectly-stirred scrambled eggs and the rest of the ingredients distracted my taste buds from what is usually bland-tasting tofu. I had my scramble for lunch with toasted sour dough bread, but it would also make a nice breakfast alongside some home fries. If you’re a tofu take-it-or-leave-it person like me, this might be a good recipe to get you coming around to tofu. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Peppers, Onions & Mushroom Tofu Scramble

Makes one serving

1/8 bell pepper, chopped
1/8 small yellow onion, chopped
3 button mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. firm tofu, not pressed
1 tablespoon thick cashew cream
¼ teaspoon black salt (you can substitute plain or truffle salt)
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

Break up tofu using a fork. Stir in cashew cream, black salt, turmeric and nutritional yeast. Set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers, onions and mushrooms and saute until lightly browned, add a teaspoon of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Add tofu mixture and continue to cook, stirring often. Remove from heat and enjoy.

21 Jul 2016

One Potato, Two Potato . . . Creamy Potato Salad

Creamy Potato Salad

Creamy Potato Salad

Sometimes life can be like a Mother Goose hand-clapping game.

One potato: We got a few red bliss potatoes in last week’s CSA share.

Two potato: eastern potatoes were on sale, so I bought a five pound bag.

Three potato: This week’s CSA box had a bunch of Yukon Gold’s in it.

Four: Better do something with all those potatoes.

With so many varieties of potatoes available these days, it’s hard to keep them straight. Some are good for baking, others make fluffy mashed potatoes and others are better suited for salads. Starchy Idaho and Russet potatoes make fluffy mashed potatoes and waxy potatoes like Red Bliss and Yukon Gold are good for salads. I decided to throw caution to the wind and combined starchy and waxy varieties to make this Creamy Potato Salad. Instead of boiling the potatoes I opted for steaming them with skins intact. (I think this is why the Russets didn’t fall apart.) My Aunt Gracie used to make a scrumptious potato salad with mayonnaise and sour cream and I wanted to capture that flavor in this recipe. I’ve been making a Ranch Dressing with cashew cream and almond milk yogurt as the base, so I went with this combination to dress the potatoes.  The dressing is seasoned with chives, parsley and scallions, but you can switch it up with any type of onion and a different herb like dill weed. Any leftover dressing can be used for green salads or as a dip for crudite. If you like the taste of hard-cooked egg you can sprinkle some black salt onto the salad. Be creative and toss in chopped bell peppers, celery or grated carrots. Served the potato salad alongside corn on the cob and marinated grilled vegetables and you have a summer supper worth clapping about. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Creamy Potato Salad

2 pounds of potatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
Ranch dressing

Place whole, unskinned potatoes in steamer and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from steamer, let cool and cut into 2” pieces. Add onions and enough ranch dressing to coat potatoes. Refrigerate.

Ranch Dressing

½ cup thick cashew cream
½ cup plain almond milk (or other non-dairy) yogurt
2 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced scallions or yellow onions
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
salt and black pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients well. Chill and use within a week.

19 Jul 2016

Mangia! Grilled Eggplant Giambotta with Pignoli Parmesan

Eggplant Giambotta

Eggplant Giambotta

Giambotta is an Italian vegetable stew. My mother and grandmother used to make it with potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions and anything else they had on hand. I got the idea for my Grilled Eggplant Giambotta from a spicy hot Indian dish called Baingan Bhartha, which is made with grilled eggplant, tomatoes and a host of aromatics and served over rice. Italian spices are much more mellow than those used in Indian food so I often wondered if I could make this dish using Italian seasonings and still have the same level of spice that the Indian version has. I grilled the eggplants on the barbeque grill, then made a chunky sauce with plum tomatoes, onions and garlic. I seasoned it with ground fennel, crushed red pepper and a combination of dried thyme, oregano and marjoram and let it all cook down to a thick and saucy stew. Since we eat so much rice, I opted to serve the Giambotta on a bed of orzo and topped it off with a sprinkling of Pignoli Parmesan. You can skip the orzo and enjoy it with a few slices (or an entire loaf) of Italian bread. This Eggplant Giambotta is so full of goodness that you can “mangiare a proprio piacimento”, which means “eat to your heart’s content”. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Eggplant Giambotta with Pignoli Parmesan

8 plum tomatoes (or 1 can Italian plum tomatoes)
1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds)
1 large onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground in spice grinder
1 to 2 tablespoons dried oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

cooked pasta, such as orzo

Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Using a knife, score an “x” into the blossom end of the tomatoes. Place tomatoes in water long enough for skin to soften and peel away from the flesh of the tomatoes. Place in a colander and when cool enough to handle, remove skins. Place tomatoes in food processor and process until chunky.

Slice eggplants crosswise into 1” thick slices. Preheat outdoor grill on medium heat. (It’s not necessary to coat the grates with oil, but you may do so if you like.) Place eggplants on grill and cook until grill marks appear on both sides. Remove to cutting board and cut slices into quarters or sixths. Set aside.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until they start to brown, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Add garlic and ground fennel and cook another minute. Add remaining ingredients and cook tomatoes until start to thicken. Add eggplants and continue to cook until desired tenderness (about 10 minutes). Sprinkle top with Pignoli Parmesan. Remove from heat and serve over rice or pasta. Top with Pignoli Parmesan.

Pignoli Parmesan

¾ cup pignoli nuts
6 tablespoons nutritional yeast
½ teaspoon lactic acid or lemon juice

Place all ingredients in mini-chopper and process until grainy. Be careful not to over process into a butter.

15 Jul 2016

The Heat is On: Red Beans in an Instant Pot

Red Beans & Rice

Red Beans & Rice

One of our go-to bean dishes is Red Beans & Rice. I posted about it a long time ago and you can find the original, slow-simmered recipe here. Well, the spring rains have stopped, the heat is on and we have a lot of gardens to tend to. I can’t afford to be tethered to the stove with so much going on outside. Besides, who wants to stay inside when the sun is shining? I wanted to make a few bean stews to keep in the freezer and decided to try my hand at adapting them for the Instant Pot. The beauty of an Instant Pot (or any electric pressure cooker) is that you can set it and forget it. So while Bruce was starting to weed outside, I made short work of my Red Beans recipe. The original recipe called for measured amounts of onions, peppers and celery. I didn’t feel like taking the extra time and clean-up for measuring so I opted for using whole vegetable amounts instead. I sauteed the vegetables right in the instant pot with no oil; then added the beans, water and seasonings; pressed a few buttons and walked away. For one pound of dry beans, I used 4 cups of water. The beans came out too watery for my liking so I ended up reducing the liquid by cooking for additional time on the saute setting. I would use about 2-1/2 cups of water the next time I make it. (Based on your experience with pressure cooking and your personal preference, you can adjust the amount of liquid accordingly.) Another “cool” tip is to make your rice in an electric rice cooker. Again, you can set it, forget and walk away with perfectly-cooked rice in an appliance that doesn’t heat up the kitchen. When the heat is on outside you can get out of the kitchen quicker with Red Beans & Rice made in an Instant Pot. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Beans and Rice

• 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
• 1 large onion
• 2 celery stalks, chopped
• 1 small green bell pepper, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• Pinch cayenne
• 3 bay leaves
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
• 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
• 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 to 4 cups of Better Than Boullion No Chicken stock or water
• Liquid smoke to taste

• 4 cups cooked rice

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
Set an Instant Pot to sauté , add the onions, celery and bell peppers and cook until lightly browned. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, beans, liquid smoke and stock or water. Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on high for 8 to 10 minutes, then let pressure come down naturally. When safe, remove lid and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Remove the bay leaves.
Serve over rice.

07 Jul 2016

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