Authentically Delicious: Lentil-Mushroom Skillet Shepherdess Pie

Lentil-Mushroom Shepherdess Pie

My mom goes to the Senior Center in town every day. We like to look at their cafeteria’s menu while having our morning coffee. Lately,there’s been an “Authentic” Scottish Shepherds’ Pie on the menu. I always considered Shepherds Pie as being an Irish dish. So I did a little research. Some say it’s Irish, others say British. Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales are all part of the United Kingdom, so I guess I’m splitting hairs here. What I did learn is that there is a meat and dairy free version called a “Shepherdess” Pie. Now that I have a name for it, here’s how the recipe came together. The filling ingredients are browned in a skillet, mixed with cooked lentils, then topped with the potatoes and placed under the broiler just long enough to brown the top.  (Make sure to use a skillet that can be placed under the broiler.) While the lentils cook, brown the shallots, garlic, carrots, parsnips and cremini mushrooms. I like parsnips because they add a little “zing” to the flavor. If you don’t have or like parsnips, you can replace them with more carrots. I also prefer to use cremini mushrooms as they tend to be a little “meatier” and lend brown gravy notes to a recipe. Since I try to eliminate as much sodium from my recipes as possible, I used a combination of brandy, red wine and tomato paste to add a hearty flavor. You can use vegetable broth instead of the alcohol if you like. The mashed potatoes were made and mashed in an instant pot; you can cook them on the stove or use your own recipe instead. The the skillet can be prepared ahead of time and reheated over a low flame then placed under the broiler when ready to serve. This Shepherdess Pie is pretty forgiving, so feel free to experiment with different types of root vegetables and change the ratio of ingredients to your liking. While this may not be an “authentic” recipe for Shepherdess Pie, it certainly is authentically healthy and delicious. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Lentil-Mushroom Skillet Shepherdess Pie

Lentil-Mushroom Skillet Shepherd’s Pie

½ cup brown lentils
1 bay leaf

1 lb.Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 small yellow onion, peeled & chopped
Rosemary to taste
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
¼ cup water
¼ cup soy yogurt, soy milk or soy-cashew sour cream

4 oz crimini mushrooms, chopped
2 carrost, chopped
1 parsnip, chopped
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons brandy
¼ cup dry red wine
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper

Sort the brown lentils and add to a small saucepan with bay leaf and 1-1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer lentils until they are just tender, about 16 to 18 minutes, then drain.

Set an instant pot to saute setting. Add onions and a small amount of water. Cook onions until they start to soften and brown slightly. Add the potatoes, rosemary, nutritional yeast and water. Secure cover on instant pot and set to cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Quick release pressure and remove cover when safe. Drain or cook off any excess liquid. Add soy yogurt and mash with a potato masher. Set aside.

Preheat oven to broil. Heat a large non-stick skillet (10”) over medium-high heat with 1 tbsp olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook until they begin to soften and turn brown, adding a small amount of water to prevent sticking. Add the carrots and parsnips and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook 1 minute. Add the brandy, red wine and tomato paste; cook until the liquid evaporates. Stir in lentils and heat thoroughly.

Spread the mashed potatoes evenly on top of the lentil-mushroom mixture. Place the skillet under the broiler and bake until the potatoes are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

14 Dec 2017

Super Taster: Greek Gigante Beans with Tomatoes & Pasta

Gigante Beans & Orrechiette

I have to start out this post by saying that my husband is a super taster. I am somewhat envious because he can detect subtle flavors in foods that I can’t. As a cook and a lover of food, the sense of smell and taste play a significant role when preparing and enjoying food. Anyway, Bruce and I took his Mom out to lunch a few weekends ago. I had it all scoped out to go to a Chinese restaurant in a cute little Main Street town in New Jersey. I checked out their website the day before and was excited about their extensive menu. There was something for everyone! When we showed up for lunch, the restaurant was closed and looked like it had gone out of business. We decided to take a stroll down the block to see if there was another place to eat. Pizza, coffee house, Mexican, more pizza, Thai food, another coffee house, Irish pub. On one corner was an unassuming Greek restaurant. We took a quick look at the menu and decided to give it a try. What I love about the Greek restaurants I’ve been in is the white and blue decor that makes you feel like you’re in the Mediterranean. It’s both invigorating and serene at the same time. I ordered a dish that was made with gigante beans, tomatoes and pasta. It was aromatically seasoned and absolutely delicious. I gave Bruce a taste and he mentioned that he detected some tarragon in the dish. I thought it might have some marjoram. I didn’t think that tarragon was an herb that’s commonly used in Greek cuisine, so I asked the waiter how the dish was seasoned. He said that that they use oregano and dill in this particular dish. Before I left the restaurant I was determined to make this recipe at home. I consulted a few recipes on the internet and one of them added ouzo to the sauce. Ouzo is an anise-flavored liqueur that’s made in Greece. The taste of tarragon reminds me of licorice. I’m sure that what Bruce thought was tarragon was, in fact, a splash of ouzo. The recipes I used as reference had these ingredients in common: gigante beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs. Since gigante beans are grown in Mediterranean countries I used large lima beans because they are easy to find in the US. As I mentioned, one of the recipes I found uses ouzo, but I opted to use anise seed. Many of the recipes called for chicken broth, so I used water “souped up” with one teaspoon of Better Than Boullion’s No Chicken soup base. The dish I had at the restaurant was made with “quartini” pasta, which means “little squares”. Since these are hard to find I used orrechiette (“little ears”) instead. I love, love, love this dish! The beans and pasta make for one substantial meal, yet the light sauce and delicate flavors make you want to come back for more. I went ahead and ordered authentic gigante beans and tried using crushed instead of diced tomatoes on my second attempt at this recipe. While the gigante beans tasted great, the crushed tomatoes made the dish too much like a heavy tomato sauce. If you do use gigante beans, you will need to increase the cooking time to about two to three hours. Whether you use lima or gigante beans, one taste and you’ll want to shout “Opa!” Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Gigante Beans with Tomatoes and Pasta

8 oz. dried gigante beans or dried lima beans

Olive oil (optional)
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups (or more) water or vegetable broth (1 teaspoon Better Than Bouillon No Chicken base)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon anise seed or 2 Tablespoons ouzo liqueur
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
½ cup chopped fresh dill

8 oz. dry pasta, cooked according to package directions

Place beans in large bowl. Pour enough water over to cover beans by 3 inches; let soak overnight. Drain beans; set aside.

Heat a small amount of olive oil or water in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and sauté until onions are golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Add beans, 4 cups chicken broth, tomatoes, vinegar, anise seed (or ouzo), oregano, and crushed red pepper to pot; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until beans are tender, adding more broth by cupfuls to keep beans submerged and stirring occasionally,(about one hour for lima beans or 2 to 3 hours for gigante beans) depending on freshness of beans. You will need to keep testing the beans about every 30 minutes and adding more water as needed. When beans are done, uncover and cook until tomato mixture thickens and liquid is slightly reduced. (If you want to serve the beans without pasta, simply reduce the sauce longer.) Season beans to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place beans, pasta and dill into large serving bowl and toss gently.

DO AHEAD: beans can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Chill uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm beans before continuing, adding more chicken broth by 1/2 cupfuls if beans are dry.


29 Nov 2017

Never Stop Improving: “Chorizo” Beans

“Chorizo” Beans

My approach to a healthy lifestyle is to never stop improving. I developed this recipe while making my Vegetable Paella. We had dinner at a Peruvian restaurant in the Poconos over the weekend. Ohhhhh, they had Paella Mariscada on the menu. It stirred up memories that I couldn’t get out of my head. I used to order paella every time I went to a Spanish restaurant. Paella is such a special and impressive dish that I came up with my own version some time ago. My original recipe included rice, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, red peppers and peas. What’s missing is the flavor of chorizo, a spicy Spanish-style sausage made with pork. My plan today was just to add some type of large bean to the paella. Luckily I had a bag of large lima beans on hand. I thought I would cook the beans with some garlic, but then my imagination ran wild. Could I infuse the beans with the flavor of chorizo? I looked up a recipe for real chorizo to see what other seasonings go into it. Oregano, thyme, allspice and cloves. I added crushed red pepper, black pepper, brown sugar and vinegar to the mix. After quick soaking the beans, I placed them in a pressure cooker with all the seasonings. They were done in five minutes. I boosted the chorizo flavor by reducing the excess liquid. Oh, boy! These came out tastier than I expected. These “Chorizo” Beans are tasty enough to eat right out of the pot but they were destined to join the party going on in my paella pan. I added the beans at the point in the recipe when the mushrooms, peppers, artichokes and peas are arranged on top of the rice. Do they taste like chorizo? It’s hard for me to say since I used to eat chorizo only when I ordered paella and that was over five years ago. What I can say is that they are deliciously different than any other bean dish I’ve had. If you’re not up for making paella you can try smashing them into a crusty Italian roll, include them in a burrito or serve with rice. Try these “Chorizo” Beans on their own or add them to my improved Vegetable Paella and make it a Vegi-curious day.

Paella with “Chorizo” Beans

“Chorizo” Beans

The recipe is intended to be included in the paella, you might want to double or triple the ingredients if you want to enjoy the “Chorizo” Beans on their own.

1 cup dried large lima beans, soaked

6 oz. water
4 garlic cloves, whole
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Pinch of ground cloves

Drain beans. Add the beans and remaining ingredients to pressure cooker. Cook on high for 5 minutes and quick release pressure. When safe, remove lid. If you have an Instant Pot, you can set it to “saute” and reduce any excess liquid. If using a stove-top pressure cooker reduce the heat to medium-high and cook until the liquid has cooked down. You can make these without a pressure cooker, just allow additional time for the beans to cook. Enjoy as is or add to Vegetable Paella.



18 Oct 2017

Don’t Fear the Fava: Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad

Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad with Quinoa

Ever since I saw “The Silence of the Lambs” many years ago, I’ve shied away from eating fava beans. It probably has something to do with Hannibal Lechter’s famous line that’s too gruesome to repeat on a food blog. A few months ago I mustered up the courage to buy a bag of dried, unpeeled fava beans. After soaking, peeling, boiling and then incorporating them into a recipe, I was left wondering what the fascination with fava beans was all about. This week’s CSA share included a bag of fresh fava beans. I peeled away the thick, spongy pod to reveal less than a cup of bright green beans. I boiled the beans for two minutes before peeling away the tough skin. A cup of fava beans is not enough to stand by themselves as the focal point of a meal, so I decided to use them in a salad with asparagus, green onions and a lemon-thyme dressing. The salad looked bright and pretty and tasted delicious. Yet, it didn’t look like it would make a substantial meal on its own. I wanted to add one other element that would round out the plate but not over-shadow the salad. My first thought was to add a grain. Farro has a nice texture and a nutty flavor, so I loaded up the steamer and waited. While the farro was cooking I thought that quinoa would make a nice pairing. As soon as the farro was finished, I steamed some quinoa. Both grains complemented the salad perfectly. I might also try serving the salad over fresh baby lettuce, arugula, spinach as an appetizer or side dish. I look forward to seeing more fava beans in my future. And If I don’t, I’ll just use fresh peas or lima beans instead. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Asparagus & Fava Bean Salad

Note: if fresh fava beans are not available, substitute cooked lima beans, green peas or additional asparagus.

1 lb. asparagus
1 cup fresh fava beans
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Lemon Thyme Dressing (recipe below)

Trim the tough bottoms from the asparagus. Cut into one-half inch pieces. Place in steamer basket set over water and steam for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse under cold water. Drain and place in shallow serving bowl.

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Add unpeeled fava beans and boil for two minutes. Remove from heat, rinse under cold water and drain. Remove and discard the skins. Place the peeled fava beans in the bowl with the asparagus. Add the green onions and lemon-thyme dressing to the bowl. Stir to combine. Adjust seasonings. Let marinate if time allows. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

Serve over greens, farro or quinoa.

Lemon Thyme Dressing

¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons honey or brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, pressed
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Black pepper and salt to taste

Place all ingredients in glass measuring cup and whisk to combine.


31 May 2017

Ole! Chipotle Sweet Potatoes & Taco Kale

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

I like to get the most out of my food, so I try to come up with recipes that can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve been thinking about some type of empanada to make for Cinco de Mayo. I wanted it to be easy and definitely not fried. The “easy” parts were baking sweet potatoes, sauteeing kale and defrosting black beans. What’s nice about these recipes is that they can be enjoyed in so many ways. We had the sweet potatoes, kale and black beans plated for dinner one night and I used the left overs to make the empanadas a few days later. The empanadas can be filled a day before you plan to bake them, so this makes them perfect when planning a party. You could also use them to fill burritos or enchiladas. I’m hungry, how about you? Let’s enjoy our dinner tonight and come back for some empanadas later in the week. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Note: As long as I’m putting on the oven, I usually make a large quantity of sweet potatoes to have for other meals during the week.

About four large sweet potatoes
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (from a can)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a few potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until very soft and the juices start to ooze out of the potatoes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, measure out two cups and place in a small bowl. Add one canned chipotle pepper and mash to combine.

Serve as a side dish or as a component in burritos or empanadas.

Kale with Taco Seasoning

1 lb. kale, de-ribbed and chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons taco seasoning

Set an instant pot to saute setting. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add ¼ cup of water and taco seasoning, then place kale on top. Set instant pot to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release and remove cover when safe. To cook on stove top, saute garlic in a large non-stick skillet, add water and kale. Cover and cook until wilted, then remove cover to allow liquid to evaporate.

30 Apr 2017

Mother of Invention: Red Bean & Jamaican Collard Green Burgers

Jamaican Red Bean & Collard Greens Burger

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” When it comes to plant-based meals, necessity has become the mother of recipes. One of my biggest frustrations with following a plant-based diet is eating out. When we find a new restaurant that has even just one vegan offering we make it a point to try it out and hopefully become regular patrons. This is the case with a restaurant in our downtown area. When they first opened up, I was delighted to see that they serve black bean burgers. The appearance of a black bean burger on a menu isn’t anything special because it’s been my experience that most vegan options are either a grilled vegetable sandwich, a hummus wrap or . . .  a black bean burger. In any case, we’re happy that there’s something for us. On a recent visit to our go-to place for black bean burgers I was somewhat disappointed. The beans were barely smashed, the flavor was flat and the burger fell apart and out of the bun. Even a healthy pour of barbeque sauce couldn’t rescue my lunch. As so often happens, Bruce was subjected to my usual frustrating and somewhat rant-like questions. “How hard is it to have a bean burger on the menu?” or  “You would think they could come up with something other than a black bean burger. After all there are so many types of beans.” Sheesh! And then I start to rattle off all the different burgers I make. Gumbo Burger. Mushroom Burger. Frank n’ Burger. Jamaican Red Bean Burger. Corned Beet Reuben Burger. Chic Filet Burger. Hoppin’ John Burger. Mushroom Barley Burger. Sounds like a scene from the movie Forest Gump. On the way home I thought about my next burger recipe. I knew I had some leftover Jamaican collard greens and baked sweet potatoes in the fridge and a few cans of red beans in the pantry. I pulsed these ingredients in my food processor and added oatmeal to absorb any excess liquid and keep the burgers together. I kicked it up a notch by adding more Jamaican curry powder. I let them “firm up” in the fridge, then cooked them on a non-stick electric griddle. Since I still had more of the collard greens left, I used them to top off the burgers. (I recommend making the collard greens ahead of time and using the leftovers to make the burgers.) These burgers are so flavorful (and stay inside the bun) that they just might be my favorite burger recipe so far. Or it might be a close second to my Frank n’ Burger. Oh, but what about that Chic-filet Burger? One thing I know for sure — there will be more bean burger recipes being invented in my kitchen. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Bean & Jamaican Collard Green Burgers

2 cans red kidney beans, drained
1 cup Jamaican collard greens, drained of any liquid (see below)
1 cup cooked sweet potato
½ cup old-fashioned oats, processed into a coarse flour
1 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder

additional Jamaican collard greens for topping

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until beans are smashed and all ingredients are mixed together. Form into patties and place on parchment paper. (A one-half cup measure makes a large burger to fit a Kaiser bun. One-third cup will fit a standard hamburger bun. Refrigerate a few hours to firm up.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350F. Place baking sheet in oven and bake about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking. Alternately, you can use a non-stick electric griddle to grill the burgers.

Jamaican Collard Greens

1 lb. collard greens, thinly sliced or chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, chopped
½ to 1 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper, seeds intact (see note)
1 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder
2 cups water (see notes for cooking in instant pot)
½ cup coconut milk (canned)

Note: depending on your tolerance for hot peppers, use your judgement as to how much of the pepper you want to use and whether or not to scrape the seeds out before cooking.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, collard greens, Scotch Bonnet, curry powder and water. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until very tender (about 1 hour). Add coconut milk, uncover and continue cooking until most of liquid has evaporated.

Instant Pot:

Turn setting to saute. Cook onions until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook one minute, then add ¾ cup water, chopped tomato, curry powder and whole pepper. Place collards on top. Cover and pressure cook on low for 10 minutes. Quick release pressure. Set control to saute setting, then add coconut milk. Continue cooking until coconut milk gets absorbed and any excess liquid is evaporated. Remove pepper.


18 Apr 2017

Don’t Fast. Feast: Gumbo Burgers with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Gumbo Burger with Roasted Pepper Sauce

I’ve been trying to incorporate more vegetables into my bean burger recipes and came up with this recipe the last time I made a pot of Vegetable Gumbo. Gumbo has its roots in Louisiana’s Creole cuisine and I usually make it right around Mardi Gras time. The highlight of Mardi Gras happens on Fat Tuesday, reflecting the practice of the last chance to eat rich, fattening foods before the ritual of the Lenten fast begins. Well, if you eat healthy, low-fat plant food all year round there’s no need to fast in the first place. I still enjoy learning about and celebrating holidays and traditions, so I wanted to share this recipe for Gumbo Burgers just in time for Fat Tuesday.

To make the burgers, I start by cooking the the “holy trinity” of onions, celery and bell peppers, adding tomatoes and aromatics, then cooking out most of the liquid. The mashed beans act to hold the vegetables together and the oats help to absorb any extra liquid. The Roasted Pepper Sauce is made with a small amount of cashew cream, roasted red peppers and hot sauce. These burgers have so much going into them that you don’t need anything else going on top of them, but feel free to serve with your favorite burger toppings. We had our burgers with a side of steamed spinach with a honey-mustard-cider vinegar dressing. The recipe makes a lot of burgers, so you can wrap them individually and place in the freezer to enjoy in the weeks ahead. Why fast when you can feast all year long on these healthy, hearty Gumbo Burgers? Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Gumbo Burgers with Roasted Pepper Sauce

Makes 8 to 12 patties

2 cans red kidney, pink or pinto beans, drained
½ cup whole oats, processed into course flour
1 extra large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
8 oz. okra, chopped
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 Tablespoons dried thyme
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Roasted Pepper Sauce (recipe follows)
Hamburger buns
Burger toppings as desired (tomato, onions, lettuce, etc.)

Place beans in a large mixing bowl and smash with a potato masher or fork. Place oat flour into bowl and set aside.

Heat a non-stick skillet on high heat. Add onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add tomato, tomato paste, okra, liquid smoke, thyme and cayenne pepper and continue cooking until all of the liquid has dried up. Add to mixing bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper, adding more of the other seasonings as desired.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide mixture into even portions using either a one-third or one-half measuring cup and form into patties. Place on parchment paper and refrigerate for several hours.

When ready, heat a non-stick electric griddle on 350F. Place patties on griddle and cook until browned and burgers become firm, turning once during cooking. Serve on buns with roasted pepper sauce and your favorite toppings.

Roasted Pepper Sauce

½ cup raw cashews (soaked)
½ cup roasted red peppers
2 to 4 teaspoons hot sauce

Rinse and drain the soaked cashews. Place in container of high-speed blender and add enough water to cover about half of the cashews. Process on high until super smooth. Remove from container. This should yield about ½ cup, but you will only use ¼ cup to make the sauce.

Return ¼ cup of the cashew cream in the blender container along with the roasted peppers and hot sauce. Process on high until smooth. Place in a covered container and refrigerate before using.

Note: if you do not wish to use cashews, you can try substituting silken tofu.

28 Feb 2017

Bowled Over: Fennel, Farro & Fagioli

Fennel, Farro & Fagioli

Have you ever been “bowled over”? The term is synonymous with amazed or astonished. When I uploaded this photo of my Fennel, Farro & Fagioli it struck me how a dish of full of beans, fennel, farro and greens could have the ability to bowl me over. This recipe hits on so many aspects of a complete whole food, plant-based meal. It’s made with beans, greens, vegetables, whole grains and uses very little/no oil and salt. Who could ask for anything more? Bowl someone (or yourself) over today with a bowl of Fennel, Farro & Fagioli. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Fennel Farro e Fagioli
Makes 4 servings
1 small onion
1 small fennel bulb
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
4 garlic cloves
Olive oil (optional)
½ tsp. fennel seeds, ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups white or red beans (or two 15 oz. can)
½ cup uncooked farro
3 to 4 cups water
1 teaspoon Better Than Boullion vegetable or “No Chicken” base (optional)
a few handful of arugula or other greens
Cut onion, fennel, carrot and celery into pieces. Process in food processor until finely chopped. Add garlic and pulse a few times.
Coat bottom of large saucepot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. (You could heat 2 tablespoons of water to omit the oil.) Add vegetables and cook until softened and lightly browned. Add ground fennel and red pepper and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir to combine. Add farro, beans, water and bouillon. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cover and cook for 25 minutes. Add arugula during the last few minutes of cooking.

16 Feb 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

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

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