Tag Archives: no salt added

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

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

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

Build a Better Taco Step 2: No Salt Taco Seasoning & Sauce

No Salt Added Taco Sauce

No Salt Added Taco Sauce

When Bruce returned from a stay at the True North Health Center I made a promise to eliminate as much salt from our lives as possible. One of the first things I made without salt was bread. If you ever look at the nutrition facts for bread, it is loaded with salt. So my thought was to follow a recipe for Italian bread and omit the salt. This was an eye-opener. The bread was tasteless. I realized that it wasn’t bread that I loved all these years . . . it’s the salt!  So back to the matter at hand. Step two of Building a Better Taco is to make No-Salt-Added Taco Seasoning & Sauce. (Of course, if you don’t have a problem with high blood pressure, then you can just use your favorite store-bought seasoning and sauce, but you’re probably better off making your own.) My next post will be for Mushroom Tacos, so be a good scout and be prepared with your Yogurt Sour “Cream”, No Salt Added Taco Seasoning and Sauce. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

No-Salt-Added Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar

No-Salt-Added Taco Sauce

1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste, salt free
3 oz. water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne
2 tablespoons corn syrup

Place all ingredients in small pot. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until desired thickness is achieved. Let cool then pour into covered jar. Refrigerate. Will keep for about two weeks.

02 Nov 2016

I’m in the Mood for Thai: Green Curry Noodle Bowl

Thai Green Curry Noodle Bowl

Thai Green Curry Noodle Bowl

When we’re in the mood for Thai food, Bruce and I like to dine at Soybean Asian Grille.  The last time we were there I ordered a Green Curry Noodle Bowl from their special menu. It had tofu, baby bok choy, bell peppers, green beans and noodles with a “curry-ish” sauce. I say “curry-ish” because the dish was flavored with green curry paste and just a hint of coconut milk. Thai curries are usually insanely hot and contain a lot of rich (i.e. high-fat) coconut milk. It was this dish that motivated me to get off my tukhus and make the no-salt-added green Thai curry paste that I wrote about last week. My curry noodle bowl is a simple stir-fry kicked up a notch with the addition of green curry paste and a bit of light coconut milk. You can use any Thai curry paste (red, green, Massaman), either store-bought or made from one of my no-salt-added recipes. Mix up a batch of curry paste today, then stir things up a bit tomorrow with a bowl of Thai Green Curry Noodles. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Green Thai Curry Noddle Bowl

1 large yellow onion, sliced
8 oz. green beans, trimmed & cut into 1-1/2” pieces
1 large bell pepper, cut into 1-1/2” strips
3 baby bok choy, sliced into 1” pieces (including leaves)
16 oz. extra firm tofu, cut into 1” pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons green Thai curry paste
½ can (about 1 cup) Thai coconut milk

Noodles (about 1 lb. dry) or rice (3 cups cooked) for serving

Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water and onions. Saute until onions start to brown. Add green beans and more water if necessary and saute until they start to brown. Cover skillet and cook until beans start to soften, then add peppers and bok choy. Continue cooking until peppers and bok choy start to soften. Add tofu, curry paste and coconut milk and cook for a few minutes to allow sauce to thicken and get infused into the tofu.
Serve over choice of noodles or rice.

29 Sep 2016

Puttin’ Up with Rose: Thai Green Curry Paste

Thai Green Curry Paste

Thai Green Curry Paste

The title of this post came to mind this morning while I was making a batch of White Fig & Balsamic Preserves. Before modern refrigeration was widely available, families would “put up” whatever they were harvesting. Preserving food back then meant either canning fruits and vegetables in jars or salting meat. Today, freezing food is also considered a form of food preservation. Since most of the food I make can be frozen without compromising quality, I decided to create a section of the blog called “Puttin’ Up with Rose”. I’ve been making my own no-salt-added Thai curry pastes for a few months. With the Red Curry and Massaman Curry Pastes already in a deep freeze,this Green Curry Paste completes the tri-fecta. You can find the green Thai peppers, lemongrass, galangal and dried lime rind in an ethnic grocery or on-line. The galangal is expensive, but you get a lot and can freeze it in slices. I strongly recommend that you wear gloves and goggles to protect your fingers and eyes from the sting of the chili peppers. I added the nori seaweed as a substitute for fish sauce. Seriously, the Thai peppers are so darn hot you wouldn’t miss the seaweed. You can use this curry paste to make Thai curry or in my Green Thai Curry Noodle Bowl recipe that I’ll post in the near future. Thanks for “puttin’ up with me” and thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Vegicurious Thai Green Curry Paste

6 green Thai chillies (1-1/2 to 2 inches), seeds removed
1/4 cup chopped shallots
2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
1/4 cup chopped lemongrass (see notes)
1 lime, zested and juiced
2 Tbsp. ground dried lime rind (see notes)
1″ piece of galangal, chopped (3 Tablespoons ground – see notes)
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2” x 2” piece of nori seaweed (optional)

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender and process into a paste. Refrigerate for one week or freeze for about three months.

Notes: Lemongrass, dried lime rind and galangal can be processed in a clean coffee or spice mill. The lemongrass will look shredded. The lime rind and galangal will be “powdery”.

21 Sep 2016

Hot List: Light Vegetable Broth

Light Vegetable Broth

Light Vegetable Broth

This week’s Hot List topic is about vegetable broth, in particular one that mimics chicken broth. I had been using Better Than Bouillon‘s No Chicken Soup Base for a few years whenever I wanted to impart a “chicken” flavor to my recipes. The problem (and there always seems to be a problem with convenience food products) is that it contains a lot of sodium. I’ve thrown together homemade stocks before, using whatever vegetables I had on hand. The results were not consistent and not very flavorful. So I started leafing through my vegan recipe books for homemade stock recipes that had an appealing variety of ingredients. Roberto Martin’s New Vegan Cooking had just what I was looking for. (If you’re not familiar with Roberto Martin, he was the personal chef for Ellen Degeneres.) His recipe for stock has just the right mix of vegetables for a light, yet robust-tasting, vegetable stock. The recipe calls for leeks as as option, but I would definitely use them. The stock comes out very flavorful and with a nice yellowish color. There are a lot of other nice recipes in this book, so it’s worth adding to your collection. I use this stock in recipes like this Spanish rice or any other recipe that calls for chicken stock. ‘m loving this recipe and suggest doubling the recipe and freezing in pint containers. Buy the book and make it a Vegi-curious day.


31 May 2016

Some Like It Hot: Thai Red Curry Paste

Red Thai Curry Paste

Red Thai Curry Paste

Curry Paste Ingredients

Curry Paste Ingredients

I’ve developed quite an appetite for Thai and Indian food since I began my plant-based journey.  What I like about food from Asia is that many of the dishes traditionally have more focus on vegetables and grains and less on meat and dairy. One of my favorite meals is vegetable Thai curry made with curry paste and coconut milk. There’s something about these aromatic flavor components that is oh so savory and seductive. In an effort to support Bruce’s effort to eliminate sodium from his diet and still be able to enjoy Thai curry, I was determined to come up with a no-salt-added recipe for Thai curry paste. (All of the ones I have access to have a lot of sodium.) There are different types of Thai curry, ranging from yellow to green to red — red being the hottest. My first attempt at the red turned out too green and I didn’t care for the flavor. Not one to back down from a culinary challenge, I tweaked the recipe and came up with one I can be happy with. Actually, it’s hard to “tweak” Thai curry paste since the main ingredients are hot Thai chilies that can overpower the other ingredients. A few words about the other ingredients: You can find fresh lemongrass at an Asian market (I’m trying to grown some this summer) and some markets may even sell frozen, minced lemongrass. Galangal is a root that looks like ginger, but has a bite to it. The galangal and dried lime rind can be purchased on-line. You can slice the galangal into 1/4″ slices and freeze it for several months in a freezer bag. It’s not necessary to peel the galangal when you’re ready to use it. Can you omit the galangal or use fresh lime rind instead? Probably, but there are certain recipes that I try to keep authentic as possible and this is one of them. You can refrigerate the paste for about one week or freeze in ready-to-use portions (1 to 2 tablespoons) for future enjoyment. So, now what do you do with your very own Thai curry paste? Find a recipe for vegetable Thai curry (I like the one from The Vegan Table cookbook). Or you can try my recipe for Thai Curry Red Lentils that will appear in my next post. Until then, thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Thai Curry Paste

  • 40 (2- to 3-inch-long) Thai dried hot red chiles, halved and seeds discarded
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted in a non-stick skillet
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted in a non-stick skillet
  • 1 fresh lemongrass stalks, 1 or 2 outer leaves discarded (1/3 cup)
  • ½  teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh or thawed frozen galangal
  • Dried lime rind (processed in spice grinder to yield 2 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 3 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic

Place all ingredients in a mini-chopper and process on high, adding water (about 4 to 6 tablespoons) to desired consistency.


23 Apr 2016

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