Tag Archives: Vegan

A la mode: Super Fruit Bowl

Super Fruit Bowl

A la mode:

adjective
1. in or according to the fashion.
2. Cookery. (of pie or other dessert) served with a portion of ice cream, often as a topping: apple pie à la mode.

Food in bowls is very fashionable these days. Everywhere I go, I see people enjoying food from bowls. Burrito bowls. Poke bowls. Grain bowls. Noodle bowls. And now, Acai bowls. I’ve been seeing new businesses in the area serving super fruit bowls and wondered what the facination is all about. I checked out some their menus and was shocked to see that the average cost of an acai bowl is $10. Why?! Acai berries come from Brazil and are very perishable. You can get acai berries in the U.S. in pouches either pureed or in powder form. According to WebMD, “some studies show that acai fruit pulp is even richer in antioxidants than cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries.” And then they go on to say that “acai berries have no known health benefit that’s different from similar fruits.” Sounds like a lot of over-priced hype to me. Before I even had an “official” acai bowl I sent away for a package of powdered acai thinking that would be the most affordable and more sensible form of this super fruit. I wanted to create a “knock-off” version of my own. I was excited when my package arrived. Now what do I do to magically transform a powder into something super? I decided to use the acai powder as a supplement to frozen mixed berries. As frozen berries tend to be on the tart side I sweetened the puree with a bit of honey. I used just one-half teaspoon of acai powder to one-half cup of fruit and pureed it in my Blendtec twister jar. To assemble the bowl I placed a good amount of the berry puree in the bottom of a large glass, then added some soy yogurt, bananas, mangoes and low-fat granola. You can personalize these super fruit bowls by using different fruit in the puree or as topping ingredients. You could also replace the yogurt with chia pudding. Instead of granola, you could sprinkle on muesli, seeds, chopped nuts, dried fruit or coconut. The other day Bruce treated me to an acai bowl . While it was nice getting out for a special treat it turns out that my knock-off version is more flavorful than what they’re serving in the stores. Don’t be lured by the promise that one “super” food is superior to other, more affordable food. Make this “knock-off” version of those pricey acai bowls and make a healthy fashion statement of your own. . Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Super Fruit Bowl

This recipe makes 1/2 cup of puree, so you may want to double, triple or quadruple the ingredients.

½ cup of frozen mixed berries
½ teaspoon acai powder
½ to 1 teaspoon honey, maple syrup or agave

Add all ingredients to blender and process just until smooth but still frozen. If it comes out too soft, simply place in the freezer for a few minutes.

Toppings:

Granola
Bananas
Mangoes
Berries
Coconut
Nuts
Seeds

10 Apr 2018

Never Stop Improving: Trail Mix Cookies

Trail Mix Cookies

We’re in the middle of the fourth nor’easter this month and I’m trapped at home, making it a perfect day for baking cookies. I haven’t made one of my favorites, Trail Mix Cookies, in a long time. As happens quite often in my kitchen, I was missing one ingredient — almond meal. Well, today’s a good day to improve on this recipe. In the original version I processed some of the oats into flour, then added in whole oats and almond meal. For the new, improved recipe I placed all of the dry ingredients into a food processor and pulsed it into a coarse flour. I also added some almond extract which added a subtle flavor that made a big difference. So you might wonder what’s the big improvement in these cookies. I can’t put my finger on it, but my mouth knows. They came out with a better texture than before — kind of chewy and crisp at the same time. I used a larger scoop than usual. Maybe I baked them a little longer. Maybe it’s the extra oats or how I processed them has something to do with it. What I can say for sure is that the method I used eliminated a few steps. I can also say that substituting more oats for the almond flour is certainly a cost saving. Whatever the reason, these not-so-new, yet improved, Trail Mix Cookies are definitely delicious! Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Trail Mix Cookies

Wet Ingredients

1 tablespoon ground flax + 2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or date syrup)
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of one orange (optional)

Dry Ingredients
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or other nuts)
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
¼ cup dark chocolate chips
¼ cup dried fruit (cranberries, cherries, raisins, etc.)
6 tablespoons (total) of any type of seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, flax

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place wet ingredients in blender container and process until smooth.

Place the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder in food processor. Pulse until the oats are processed into a coarse flour. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir well until combined. Drop by rounded spoonful (I use a #14 ice cream scoop that measures about 2 Tablespoons) onto baking sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake cookies for 15 to 18 minutes until light golden brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack until completely cool. Wrap up and store leftovers on the counter or in the freezer, if desired. Makes about 18 cookies.

21 Mar 2018

Imagine This: Chunky Monkey Waffles

Chunky Monkey Waffles

One of the first plant-based recipe books I ever bought is The Forks Over Knives Cookbook. Second to their Broccoli and Peanut Noodles recipe I’ve made their Chunky Monkey Smoothie most often. The smoothie contains almond milk, cocoa powder, peanut butter and dates. Very simple and healthy. This morning I wanted to have pancakes for breakfast but didn’t feel like making a fuss or a big mess. So I went to the freezer and got the next best thing to pancakes — a box of Trader Joe’s vegan waffles. Last week I came up with a “cheater” blueberry syrup and wondered how I could top that. It started by layering chopped bananas between the waffles. Hmmmmm . . . if there are two things that go nicely with bananas it’s chocolate and peanut butter. I mixed together pure maple syrup with chunky peanut butter and cocoa powder, warmed it in the microwave and poured it over the banana and waffle stack. (The ratio went something like this: two parts syrup, one part peanut butter and one part cocoa powder.)  I placed a strawberry on top just for fun which got me to thinking that this would be nice with strawberries in place of the bananas. What about other fruit? Pears would nice with a chocolate-almond butter sauce and sprinkled with toasted almonds. Peaches might be nice with chocolate and hazelnuts. You can switch up your sauce by using different spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice or even chili powder. So while I have no recipe to offer you today I can give you some guidance sprinkled with a spoonful of imagination. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

11 Mar 2018

Dropping Acid: Orange Fennel Smoothie

Orange Fennel Smoothie

Orange Fennel Smoothie

Orange Fennel Smoothie

It’s 15 degrees where I live. The last thing on my mind should be making a smoothie on a day like today. (A hot rum toddy is probably more appropriate.) Any way, this post was prompted by two events. The first was the latest kitchen accessory that I got for Christmas, the Blendtec Go attachment for my blender. It’s pretty cool in that you can make a smoothie and take it to go right in it’s own container. What’s even cooler is that you can insert a 16 oz. plastic Solo cup into the jar and have a smaller smoothie to go.The other inspiration was my wanting to include more-alkaline and less-acid promoting foods into my diet. This desire was triggered by the disheartening results of a recent bone density test I recently received. There’s quite a bit of research about how high levels of acid in the body can be linked to cancer and kidney problems, but also osteoporosis. Don’t trust me, do the research yourself and do what feels right for you.

So, in the middle of baking some brownies and pumpkin scones today I was cutting up a fennel bulb to have with lunch. I was just about ready to toss the fennel fronds when I got this idea. Why not include them in a smoothie? Not really a green smoothie, so I’ll call it a “Clean Smoothie.” The thought the sweetness of oranges, pineapple juice and honey would blend nicely with the zesty licorice flavor of the fennel. The result was a light green smoothie with a bright taste. Now, that’s a healthy (and legal) way to drop some acid. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Orange Fennel Smoothie

1 cup crushed ice
2 large oranges
½ cup chopped fennel fronds
1 cup pineapple juice
1 to 2 tablespoons honey or agave

Zest the oranges, then peel and separate into segments. Discard the peel. Place all ingredients, including the zest, into a high-powered blender in the order according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Process until smooth.

10 Jan 2018

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 Toss That Pumpkin: Punkin’ Chunkin’ Topping

Yogurt Pumpkin Parfait

It’s funny how a recipe can remind me of something totally unrelated to food, which leads me to how I came up with Punkin’ Chunkin’ Topping as the name for this recipe. When we first moved to Delaware our neighbor told us about the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Competition that was held every fall. People would design large catapult or sling-shot devises that would propel pumpkins through the air. The team that launched the farthest was the winner. Last year a woman suffered a serious (but thankfully not life-threatening) head injury after being hit by a flying pumpkin and that was the end of any punkin’ chunkin’ in Delaware. Today’s recipe was prompted by some pumpkins on our back porch that managed to survive the first frost. I figured I should use them up before they start to turn soft. I thought about Thanksgiving and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that for breakfast? Since I always have homemade soy yogurt on hand I would use that, laced with pumpkin butter, as the “creamy” element of this recipe. For the topping I cooked pumpkin cubes with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a non-stick skillet. The result was slightly sweet, delicately spiced chunks of pumpkin. Yes! You can can have pumpkin pie for breakfast. It’s even yummy enough to serve as dessert. So, don’t toss that pumpkin from your porch; use it to cook up some Punkin’ Chunkin’ Topping for yogurt, puddings or frozen desserts. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Pumpkin Topping for Yogurt

1 baby pumpkin (about 8” diameter)
¼ to ½ cup brown sugar
Pumpkin pie spice to taste

If using a larger pumpkin, measure out about 4 cups of pumpkin cubes.

Cut the pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Peel the skin. Cut the pumpkin into 1” cubes. Place in a large non-stick skillet and toss with brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Cook the pumpkin on medium-high heat until tender, adding water as needed to prevent sticking. You can turn the heat on high for a few minutes to caramelize the pumpkin. Let cool to room temperature and serve over non-dairy yogurt or frozen dessert

 

 

03 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

All-Inclusive Thanksgiving Dinner: Stuffed Mushroom Stacks

Stuffed Mushroom Stacks

Every trip to the grocery store is an adventure for me. Even when I have a list in hand, I enjoy perusing the produce aisle looking for something unusual that I’ve never eaten or a seasonal favorite that I’ve waited an entire year to get my hands on once again. Sometimes, when I spot a standard item that looks super fresh I just go overboard and buy more than I need. This was the case when I picked up a three pound box of extra large snow white mushrooms at a mushroom outlet in Pennsylvania. They were beautiful and perfect . . . and I was happy! Since a lot of my thinking is done in the car, I pondered how I was going to prepare those beauties the entire ride home. With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner I thought about a family favorite — stuffed mushrooms. And then I thought about the turkey stuffing we used to make with mushrooms, celery, onions and sage. Why stop there? Why not place dollops of mashed white and sweet potatoes on top? And while I’m at it, I might as well make it festive with creamy mushroom gravy. This is a complicated recipe, but one that is achievable with some planning. First, I placed the sweet potatoes in the oven and baked them until soft. While the sweet potatoes were baking, I boiled the white potatoes on the stove top. I made the stock using onions and the mushroom stems. Next, I made the bread stuffing using one cup of the stock. You can make the gravy at this point or wait until after the stacks are assembled. If you’re feeling overwhelmed right now, don’t despair. Any or all of these elements can be done ahead of time depending on your time constraints and patience. You can use your own recipe for mashed potatoes. You can even use instant mashed potatoes; just use less liquid to achieve a stiffer consistency. You can also use canned sweet potatoes if you prefer. You can simply place dollops of mashed potatoes on top of the stacks instead of using a pastry bag and decorators tip. You can even assemble the mushroom stacks ahead of time and bake the next day. These Stuffed Mushroom Stacks require some thought and planning but they are worth the effort. It’s like an all-inclusive Thanksgiving dinner in every bite! You can serve them as an appetizer or as part of a buffet. You can plate them with green beans or shaved Brussel sprouts and cranberry sauce to serve as an elegant entree. Any leftovers can be served on a slider bun and rewarmed gravy the next day. On Thanksgiving and on every other day, I thank you for being Vegi-curious.

Stuffed Mushroom Stacks

3 lbs. large white mushrooms, stems removed and set aside

Mushroom Stock & Gravy

½ onion, thinly sliced
Reserved mushroom stems
2 Tablespoons red wine
4 cups of vegetable broth (Better Than Bouillon No Chicken)
2 Tablespoon arrowroot powder or corn starch
Black pepper

Lightly coat a medium saucepan with olive oil and heat over high heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook until starting to soften and turn brown. Add red wine and cook until evaporated. Add vegetable broth (I use 1 teaspoon bouillon base to 4 cups of water for lower sodium). Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Reserve one cup of the liquid to use in the stuffing. Remove from heat and let cool. When ready to thicken, add arrowroot and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until desired thickness is achieved. Remove from heat and let cool. You can puree the gravy in a blender and return to the saucepan until ready to serve. You can alternately use a hand-held immersion blender to puree the gravy right in the saucepan.

Stuffing

1 large onion (thinly slice ½ for gravy and mince ½ for stuffing)
2 celery stalks, minced
8 slices of sliced bread, toasted
1 cup of the reserved mushroom stock
Dried sage, oregano, marjoram to taste
Black pepper to taste

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few tablespoons of water to skillet then add the onion and celery. Saute until vegetables are soft and golden.
Cut or tear the toasted bread into small pieces, almost as if it’s shredded. Place in a large mixing bowl and add the vegetables, mushroom stock and seasonings. Toss until combined.

Mashed Potatoes

1 lb. potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 Tablespoons (or more) soy yogurt or non-dairy milk
Salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by a few inches. Bring to a boil and cook until soft. Drain well. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes. Mix in enough yogurt or milk to make the potatoes stiff enough to pipe onto the mushrooms. I don’t recommend using an immersion blender to remove lumps as this can make the potatoes gluey. Set aside.

Sweet Potatoes

1 lb. sweet potatoes, baked until soft
¼ to ½ cup oat flour (optional)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar (optional)

Remove the skin from the baked sweet potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash until smooth. If you want a stiffer consistency, add the oat flour one tablespoon at a time. Likewise, if you like sweeter add the brown sugar. You can use an immersion blender to remove lumps. Set aside.

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 400F.

Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Press the stuffing mixture into the mushroom caps, then pipe on either the mashed potatoes or sweet potato puree. Lightly coat the tops with non-stick spray. Place a few tablespoons of water in the bottom of the pan and place in oven. Bake until mushrooms are tender and browned and potatoes are browned, about 45 minutes. You can turn on the broiler during the last few minutes to brown the tops. You can assemble the mushrooms ahead of time, cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 

12 Nov 2017

Think Outside the Can: “Roasted” Tomato Soup

 

Roasted Tomato Soup

I’ve often wondered what’s the appeal of tomato soup. After all, isn’t just like a can of tomato sauce? Maybe the appeal is that it’s a light accompaniment to a sandwich. “How about some soup and a sandwich for lunch” sounds appealing. I just hadn’t come around to liking tomato soup until now. It all started with a large basket of plum tomatoes that I picked up for a song at my favorite Amish farm stand. I decided to roast the tomatoes with a small amount of olive oil, garlic and herbs. It sounds like a lot of effort, but most of the time is spent waiting for them to come out of the oven. I froze the roasted tomatoes in plastic pint-sized containers to use throughout the winter to make my Pasta with Roasted TomatoesThis got me thinking about making homemade tomato soup using roasted tomatoes. Now that sounds like something I could go for. I wanted to simplify the recipe and opted to replicate the flavor of roasted tomatoes by cooking canned tomatoes on the stove top. (Actually, I didn’t want to risk those beautifully roasted tomatoes on a potential flop nor did I want to spend the extra money on a can of fire-roasted tomatoes.) I cooked onions and garlic until golden, added drained tomatoes and cooked them on high heat to get everything to caramelize. I added a potato to impart a little creaminess and body to the soup. This soup is light enough to enjoy with a sandwich and substantial enough to fill the gap that a salad so often leaves you with. You could ladle the soup into a cup for an afternoon snack or serve it as a first course when company comes for dinner. Mmmm, Mmmmm, Good! Try this Roasted Tomato Soup and start thinking outside the can. Thanks for being Vegi-curious. 

Roasted Tomato Soup

1 yellow onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, chopped
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sugar
1 small potato, chopped (about ¾ cup)

For the Croutons:

1 whole wheat or multi-grain bagel, cubed
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme or other herb

Drain tomatoes and reserve the juice. Set aside.

Heat a sauce pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook until they start to soften and turn golden. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add the drained tomatoes and sugar. Cook on high until the tomatoes start to brown and the bottom of the pot develops spots of caramelization. Add the tomato juice, vegetable broth and potato. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Pour contents into a blender container and puree until smooth. You could also use a hand-held immersion blender and puree directly in the pot. Return to stove to heat. Garnish with croutons or air-fried zucchini. You can also stir in a spoonful of soy yogurt or cashew cream.

To make croutons:

Mix the mustard, nutritional yeast and dried herb in a large bowl. Add the bagel cubes and toss to coat evenly. Place the cubes into the basket of an air fryer set to 250F. Fry until the cubes are crisp throughout. Remove from basket and let cool. If you don’t have an air fryer you can bake them in the oven at 250F until the croutons are crisp and lightly browned.

05 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

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