Monthly Archives: January 2017

Supersized: “Chic” Filet Sandwich

Chik-fila Sandwich

There’s a fast food restaurant chain in the US called Chick-fil-A that serves, you guessed it, all types of chicken sandwiches. I took my Mom there once and ordered a bean salad for myself. It was enough to fill a thimble. Why is it that plant-based food options in fast food restaurants are not supersized? Why can’t they offer some kind of veggie burger? That’s how I came up with my “Chic” Filet Sandwich.  Bruce and his friends used to go there for lunch and he would jokingly pronounce it as “chic-filet.” One definition of chic “is a style that expresses specified trendy lifestyle or activity.” Since more and more people are adopting plant-based diets for health and humane reasons, “Chic” Filet seems apropos. 

I sauteed onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to give the burgers a chicken soup flavor and added cannelini beans for substance. You can experiment with the seasonings to suit your taste (or what’s on hand in your pantry). I use either a 1/3 cup measure for an average size burger or a 1/2 cup measure for a supersized one. I made a plain mock mayo using raw cashews. You can spice it up by adding a small amount of the adobe sauce from canned chipotles, Siracha sauce. If you don’t eat cashews, you could try mashed avocado. Tasty, satisfying and it passes my “stays-within-the-bun” test. Make some “Chic” Filet Sandwiches and start a new trend of supersized healthy eating. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

“Chic” Filet Sandwich

1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained
¼ cup bread crumbs (oatmeal for gluten free)
1 Tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons savory, marjoram or thyme
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Sazon seasoning (or other seasoning blend)
Salt and pepper, to taste

hamburger buns, sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce for serving

Brown mushrooms in non-stick skillet. Remove to food processor. Brown onions, garlic, carrots and celery in non-stick skillet. Add spices and herbs and cook 1 minute. Add to food processor along with remaining ingredients and pulse until combined. Using either a 1/3 or 1/2 cup measure, portion out the mixture and form into patties. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm.

Heat an electric griddle on high and cook burgers until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. You can also bake in a 375F oven, turning once halfway through cooking (about 20 minutes total). Serve on your choice of bun with lettuce, tomato, onions and top with cashew mayo or your favorite condiment. You can individually wrap and freeze the burgers after they are cooked.

Cashew Mayo

½ cup raw cashews soaked
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp. black salt
1/8 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Process in blender until smooth, adding water as necessary to thin.

31 Jan 2017

Sultry Soup: Turkish Red Lentil Soup

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

When I think of Mediterranean cuisine, one word comes to mind: sultry. What appeals to me about this food is how somewhat common herbs, spices and aromatics get blended into a dish in an exotic way. A few weeks ago, Bruce and I tried out a restaurant that I’ve been wanting to go to for a long time. The Mediterranean Grille serves tasty food with a Moroccan and Turkish influence. We ordered a vegetable tagine, Zalouk (eggplant dip) and Turkish Red Lentil Soup. Everything was so delicious that I couldn’t wait to come up with my own versions. Why am I so excited about this soup? Well, it’s made with one of my favorite legumes, red lentils. It contains bulgur, a grain that I’ve wanted to include in my recipes but haven’t gotten around to. And, I love the flavors of Mediterranean cuisine. It comes together quickly, cooks in one hour and fills your home with an enticing aroma. You can round out your meal with some olives, a bowl of your favorite hummus and warm pita or rustic bread. Oh, this is so good.Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Turkish Red Lentil Soup

makes about 3 quarts

1/2 cup soaked bulgur (see notes)
2 onions, finely chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
1 cup red lentils
2 tablespoons tomato paste
12 cups vegetable stock or water
Lemon slices for serving

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots and garlic and cook until they are golden, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cumin, coriander, lentils and bulgur into the onions and stir to coat. Add the tomato paste and water or vegetable stock; bring to a boil, then cover and cook until soft and creamy, about 1 hour. Ladle into bowls and garnish with lemon slices.

To soak bulger: Place ¼ cup dry bulgur in small bowl and cover with ¼ cup boiling water. Let stand 1 hour. This should yield ½ cup of soaked bulgur.

 

25 Jan 2017

Fugeddaboutit: Broccoli Calzones

Broccoli Calzone with Pizza Dough

Broccoli Calzone with Roti

Once you leave Brooklyn it’s hard to find good pizza and calzones. And, once you give up eating cheese made from cows milk . . .  well, you might as well fuhgeddaboutit. Until now. These broccoli calzones are made with non-dairy ricotta and broccoli that’s been sauteed with lots of garlic. Since I like to give you plenty of options, you can either make your own pizza dough, use store-bought dough or use frozen Roti flatbread that can be found in the freezer section of an Indian grocery. I used the almond milk ricotta from the Gentle Chef’s Nuts About Almonds e-book, but you could also use my soy-cashew ricotta. These are really easy and fun to make — and eat. These Broccoli Calzones make a neat little lunch, snack or appetizer. I even like them at room temperature, so they are perfect for a cocktail party or game day spread. I bet you could even substitute spinach for the broccoli. How about sauteed mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes? You could even eat these for breakfast. Are you hungry yet? Fugeddaboutit! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Broccoli Calzone

1 large head of broccoli
3 garlic cloves, minced
Olive oil (optional)

2 cups non-dairy ricotta
Salt & pepper to taste

Pizza dough or frozen Roti

Preheat oven to 500F. If using Roti, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. If using pizza dough, place baking stone on middle rack. If you don’t have a baking stone, sprinkle corn meal on a flat baking sheet.

Remove stems from broccoli and chop florets into big pieces. Lightly coat a pot with oil. Add garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add broccoli and about ¼ cup of water. Cover and let cook on medium-high heat until broccoli is tender and starts to stick to bottom of pan. Remove from heat and let cool. Add ricotta, salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Roll out pizza dough into desired size and spoon enough filling on one half of the dough. Fold the other side over and press edges together to form a semi-circle. Place on prepared sheet or slide onto baking stone and bake until crust has browned. Remove and let cool about 5 minutes before cutting.

For Roti, heat a non-stick electric griddle on high. Place frozen Roti on griddle and cook on one side. Place cooked side up onto baking sheet. Spoon filling onto one half and fold the other side over, pressing edges together. Bake until crust has browned, flipping half way through baking. Remove and let cook about 5 minutes before serving.

22 Jan 2017

Any Given Sunday: Burritos & Much More

Black Bean Burrito

In the late 1990’s there was a movie titled, “Any Given Sunday” that was about football. The title was derived from a line in the movie said by the team’s coach that any team could win or lose “on any given Sunday.” That term has a different meaning for me. Through the years, on any given Sunday, my family would be gathered in the kitchen, some of us cooking and others amusing us with stories. Any given Sunday was both a big deal and just a regular day in our home. Nobody went to work and the stores were all closed. We had nothing to do except cook a big meal and enjoy the company of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. After dinner, the men would play pinochle and the ladies and kids would play Pokeno. Now, on any given Sunday, you can still find me in the kitchen working on a new recipe or just getting a head start on some meal preparation for the week. Even though our Sunday’s don’t revolve around football, I thought today’s meal would make a fun game-day spread. I set up my electric rice cooker with some brown rice. While the rice was cooking, I worked on the peppers and black beans. I sauteed three bell peppers and two large onions in a non-stick skillet without any oil. There are a few ways to do the black beans. You can just use them straight from the can, make these smoky black beans ahead of time, or pull something (maybe 3-bean chili) out of the freezer that you squirreled away for an occasion like this. If you want to throw together something fast, you can just add some liquid smoke, cumin powder, salsa and cilantro to a few cans of beans. When everything is cooked, your guests can build their own burritos by layering whatever they like on a flour tortilla and top it off with guacamole and salsa. Not in the mood for Mexican? You can use the peppers and onions to make Philly Steak Sandwiches instead. All you have to do is grill some portobello mushrooms, layer with the peppers and onions on a roll, then top it off with a few slices of non-dairy cheese, like Daiya or Follow Your Heart. (I make my own cheddar using a recipe from The Non-Dairy Evolution cookbook.) If you have any peppers and onions left over, you can add them to a tofu scramble for breakfast or add some soy sauce and serve over rice for lunch the next day. On any given Sunday, your team may win or lose, but you’ll always come out ahead sharing healthy and tasty food with your family and friends. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Philly Steak Sandwich

Peppers & Onions

Easy Black Beans

17 Jan 2017

Multitasking: Cannelini Beans & Sun-dried Tomatoes in an Instant Pot

White Beans & Sun-dried Tomatoes

Multitasking. The term goes back to 1965 and refers to the ability of a computer to apparently process several tasks, or computer jobs, concurrently. The term has since been expanded to “human multitasking”  as an apparent human ability to perform more than one task, or activity, over a short period of time. There are therapeutic benefits of being “in the moment” and concentrating on one task, but sometimes life just does not allow for that. I owe today’s recipe to my need and ability to multitask. The morning started out as usual. Take out and feed Caitie; breakfast with Bruce and he’s off to work; a little therapeutic internet surfing for me; and meal planning. When I looked at the time, it was after 8:00, which is the time to get Mom out of bed. I had some cannelini beans soaking on the counter to be used to make pasta fagioli. I typically make this dish on the stove, but decided to throw it together in my Instant Pot. I sauteed a lot of garlic then added sun-dried tomatoes, crushed red pepper, the beans, water and some seasonings, set the timer for 8 minutes and let the pressure release naturally. In that time, I was able to get Mom ready, put in a load of laundry and start re-organizing the linen closet. The aroma that was drifting up to the second floor (and lingers throughout the day) was so intoxicating that I couldn’t wait to come downstairs to taste the beans. It was only 9:30 in the morning and I was enjoying some toasted sour dough bread with a spoonful of creamy, garlicky beans. What a way to start the day! Whether you’re a single  professional, working mom or dad, or a busy home economist, this is a great way to get things done and still enjoy a healthy, delicious meal. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Fagioli for Instant Pot

1 lb. cannellini or other white beans, soaked overnight and drained

1 teaspoon olive oil (optional)
¼ cup chopped garlic (about 6 extra large cloves)
Crushed red pepper, to taste
½ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2-3/4 to 3 cups water
1 tablespoon dried oregano
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Cooked pasta or farro for serving

Set electric pressure cooker to saute setting. Heat olive oil and garlic and cook until starting to turn color. Add red pepper and sun-dried tomatoes and stir. Add about 2 tablespoons of water and cook about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients. Pressure cook for about 8 minutes and let pressure come down naturally. Remove cover when safe. If there is too much liquid, set to saute and reduce to desired thickness. If not enough liquid, add additional water. Stir in parsley before serving. Serve with cooked pasta or farro.

11 Jan 2017

Smokin’ Good: Frank n’ Burgers

Frank n’ Burger

I don’t remember exactly what I was doing a few weeks ago when I had what I call a “sensory flashback”. It was most likely brought on by something I had cooking on the stove, but there was something in the air that reminded me of the sweet and tangy onion sauce served up by the hot dog vendors of New York. Some folks like sauerkraut and mustard on their hot dogs and others like chili dogs. Maybe it’s a Brooklyn thing, but there’s nothing sweeter than a hot dog with red onion sauce. The sauce is so easy to make with ketchup or tomato sauce, onions and spices. The hard part is the hot dog. I’m sure there are countless vegan versions of hot dogs made with tofu and seitan. The problem for us is that there is too much sodium and fat in these products. A problem for others may be a soy or gluten allergy. So, how about those carrot dogs simmered in soy sauce that were popping up every day this past summer? They might make a fun treat, but a meal it does not make. And, again, it’s too much sodium for us. I wanted to come up with something substantial that would fit inside a bun and was reminiscent of that smokey hot dog flavor. I started with pinto beans as they have a pink-ish hue to them. I pressure cooked them with onions, garlic and liquid smoke to infuse the beans with flavor. I used sweet potatoes as a binding ingredient and for their color and smooth texture; oatmeal to absorb excess liquid; sauerkraut for a little zing; and some smoked paprika and additional liquid smoke to deepen the smokiness. All I can say is that the aroma coming off the griddle smelled just like hot dogs cooking on the grill on a summer afternoon. We enjoyed them with mustard and onion sauce on toasted burger buns. I was stuffed before I was done with mine. Smoky, sweet, tangy. All that and healthy, too. These Frank n’ burgers just might go down as my all-time favorite bean burger . . . and hot dog. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Frank n’ Burgers

Makes 8 to 10 burgers.

8 oz. dried pinto beans, soaked overnight
1 small yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons liquid smoke

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup cooked sweet potato
1 cup sauerkraut, drained
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
Black pepper, to taste

Hot dog onions (recipe follows)

Drain and rinse beans. Place in pressure cooker with onion, garlic and liquid smoke. Pressure cook on high according to manufacturer’s instructions (usually 4 to 6 minutes). When safe, release pressure and drain the beans.

Place oats in bowl of food process and process until coarsely ground. Add remaining ingredients and the cooked beans. Pulse until combined. Taste the mixture before adding the additional liquid smoke. The mixture can be chunky.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide mixture evenly and form into patties. One-third cup is the perfect size for standard burger buns. One-half cup measure will make a thicker burger suitable for a larger Kaiser roll. Refrigerate until firm. Heat an electric griddle on high and cook burgers until browned on both sides, about 15 minutes total. You can also bake in a 375F oven, turning once halfway through cooking (about 20 minutes total).

Serve on toasted buns and topped with mustard and hot dog onions.

You can cook the burgers, let them cool and wrap individually to place in the freezer. Simply defrost/re-heat in the microwave or on an outdoor grill.

Onion Sauce

2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Garlic powder and black pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook until onions are soft and sauce has thickened and becomes flavorful.

03 Jan 2017

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