Vegetables Korma

More pandemic cooking, and this time we’re flush with fresh produce because our friends at Albert & Eve came by yesterday with two bags full. We’ve been enjoying learning Indian cooking from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, and this time we made cauliflower, carrots and peas korma. I made a few adjustments to Richa’s excellent recipe to make it mild so that Rio would eat it. Big success!

As an aside, Richa’s terrific book is one of the two cookbooks we use most at home, the other one being Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli. We have lots of great cookbooks, the vast majority of which are vegan, but at this point we have our kitchen style and recipes pretty much mastered, so we need cookbooks only to learn things we don’t know yet.

The recipe in the book is very much like this one from Richa’s website, but with a few important changes, and I made a few additional simplifications. I substituted the fennel seeds with poppy seeds to great success, omitted the chiles, and had carrots in lieu of potatoes. We were lucky that fresh peas are in season, but wanted lots of peas so defrosted a frozen pea bag. I made a few other tweaks to fit the pandemic pantry situation, and there ya have it:

Sauce:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch ginger
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds

Veggies:

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup peas (frozen is great)
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water

Heat up oil in big pan, slice onion thinly, add to pan with coriander and cumin, and sauté until golden. Finely mince garlic and ginger and add. Sauté for about 5 more minutes, then add tomatoes, and cook an additional five minutes. Then, add poppy seeds and cook for another 2 mins. Add cauliflower and carrots and mix. Add coconut milk and water, cover, and cook on medium-low heat for 15 mins. Add peas, mix again, and cook for another 15 mins. Great over rice!

Beyond Beef Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

When I became vegan, mind-bending meat substitutes like Beyond Meat did not exist. During my fellowship at Harvard’s Animal Law & Policy Program last fall I was amazed to attend talks by leaders in the plant-based meat substitute industry–we’re in for a world in which, should we choose wisely, we can minimize an enormous amount of suffering.

I did like meatballs quite a bit as a kid, so having the option to enjoy them cruelty-free has been a real boon. You can buy the formed burgers (they sell them in boxes of two) but a much more economic option is to get the ground beef package. With a little bit of kitchen magic, this transforms into something that transports you to childhood.

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • 1 package Beyond Beef
  • 1 slice of bread (whole wheat or sourdough, something sturdy, works best, but don’t sweat it if you have something else)
  • 1/3 large onion, minced
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp tomato paste (optional)
  • a little bit of salt and pepper
  • enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a large pan

For the sauce:

  • 6-7 tomatoes, thinly sliced (this calls for truly wonderful tomatoes, because it’s a very simple sauce without seasoning.)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • THAT’S IT!

First, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil in the pan and add all the tomatoes. When they start sweating, lower the heat and cook on low heat until the sauce reduces somewhat.

Toast the slice of bread until deeply browned, then soak in water for a few minutes. Wring water out of the bread and tear it into a few pieces. Place the toasted, wet bread pieces in a food processor with all the ingredients except the olive oil and pulse until mixed and sticky (it can stay a bit chunky.)

Heat up olive oil in a pan. With damp hands, form 1/5” diameter balls, flatten them a bit. Place them in the hot pan and fry until the bottom is golden (about 2-3 mins), then flip over to the other side (the newer ones will be done faster because of the pan temperature.)

As soon as you finish frying the meatballs, drop them into the tomato sauce in the other pan and cook for a few minutes.

You can eat this over mashed potatoes or pasta, or put this in a meatball sandwich. And you can substitute more complex tomato sauces if you desire.

Ramen Primavera

In the early days of shelter-in-place, our trusty vegetable providers had to reorganize their route to accommodate the unreasonable volume of orders. As a consequence, I had to rely on frozen veg and pantry items quite a bit, but I did have some brussels sprouts! This is how the Ramen Primavera, which fed us and some neighbors via socially-distant doorstep delivery, was born. You can obviously improvise with whatever you have at home.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb brussels sprouts
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 package ramen noodles (I like this fancy kind or this green kind with Moroheiya.)

Heat up the olive oil in a wok. Slice brussels sprouts into quarters lengthwise and throw in. Sauté for five minutes. While you do, mince the onion and garlic and add them. Then, add the spices (onion powder, soy sauce, yeast) and the water. When the water starts bubbling, add the frozen veg. Cook for about 10-15 mins, or until the brussels sprouts are soft but not mushy. In a separate pot, cook the ramen noodles in water according to instructions. Strain. Add the cooked noodles to the veg mix and toss around to coat with the dressing.

Muttar Tofuneer

We are so lucky during this pandemic to get fresh vegetables every week from our local organic CSA Albert & Eve. A big box comes in without fail every Tuesday. But since they are flooded with larger-than-usual deliveries to existing an new clientele, the box doesn’t arrive at the crack of dawn as it used to. This means that, after a week of vegetable Tetris, I’m sometimes left without fresh produce for a meal or two.

But fear not, because we have lots of fantastic Indian spices, as well as Vegan Richa‘s legendary cookbook. We have found the book incredibly useful, and today I was especially thrilled with it, as I had a bag of frozen peas and a block of my favorite tofu, Hodo Soy. Because the paneer is very delicate and the tofu very tolerant, I changed the cooking instructions somewhat to allow it to soak more of the curry sauce. I added a pinch of nutritional yeast to up the “paneerish” flavor profile. We also omitted the spice, because Rio dislikes spicy foods (we’ll convert him yet, but he’s still a toddler!) The original recipe calls for spinach and for Richa’s very special almond paneer (a lot of work but worth it), but I decided to use the fantastic sauce for peas and tofu and we happily enjoyed it over rice. It’s very easy!

Ingredients

  • 1 minced onion
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1.5 cup canned tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bag frozen peas
  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp vegan yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Heat up wok. Dry-roast coriander and cumin. When wok is hot, add the onion and sauté until fragrant. Remove from heat and place in a blender with the rest of the spices, the water, and the canned tomatoes. Blend until creamy. Pour back into wok and turn on the heat. Add peas, yeast, and cubed tofu. Cook for 12-15 minutes. When it reduces and thickens, add yogurt, plant milk, and apple cider vinegar. Cook for another five minutes. Serve over rice.

Greens and Mushrooms with Fermented Tea Leaf

tea salad kit

Inspired by my Korean cooking course, I went seeking more fermented products, and came across something especially tasty from Burma: fermented tea leaf (laphet.) The beloved San Francisco restaurant Burma Superstar has started selling it in jars, as part of a salad kit with a nut mix. It tastes a little bit like pesto, except much more subtle and layered. I got just the jar and used it in this easy steamed vegetable recipe, which I served atop a baked potato.

Greens from three beets (about 4 cups)
2 cups various mushrooms
3 cloves garlic
splash of water
1 heaping tbsp fermented tea leaf

Chop up beet greens and mushrooms.
Heat up a pan. Add garlic cloves and heat them up for 30 seconds. Then, add mushrooms and beet greens. Splash some water in to prevent sticking.
Cook until beet greens wilt and the volume of the dish considerably decreases. Then, turn off the heat and mix in fermented tea leaf.

Serve on top of a baked potato or with rice.

Smoothie Bowl Obsession

The bowl obsession continues! Here are just a couple of my bowls from the last few days, to give you an idea of what’s easily possible. It’s as delicious as it is pretty!

Moroccan Red Stew

This was absolutely delicious, and the reason there was no picture the first time I made this is that it was gobbled up before I had the chance! Good thing I remembered to take a picture the second time. It comes out a very vivid and appetizing shade of red, because of the tomatoes and the beets, and can be served over mashed potatoes, rice, couscous, or quinoa.

1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 leeks (just the white parts), thinly sliced
7-8 garlic cloves
splash of vodka
1 cup vegetable broth
1 little basket of cherry tomatoes
1 carrot, sliced into thin rounds
1 beet, chopped and thinly sliced
3/4 cup yellow lentils, dry
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp baharat
2 tsp ras-el-hanout
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up a Dutch oven on the stove until a drop of water at the center looks like mercury. Then, add onion and leeks and cook until the bottom of the pan begins to brown and the onions are translucent and a bit golden. Add a splash of vodka to deglaze the bottom, add the garlic, and cook for another 30 seconds. Add broth, tomatoes, carrot, beet, lentils, chickpeas, and spices. Place lid on Dutch oven and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the dish is fragrant and the lentils are soft.

Risotto with Trumpet Mushrooms and Vegetables

I had just finished eating leftover mejedderah when Chad called me to announce we were going to have four guests for dinner–all four of them fierce martial artists just out of a four-day tournament! Easy peasy – a nice risotto, served with some vegetables and dip and gazpacho, did the trick.

For the rice I used whole-grain arborio, which is not very easy to find on the shelves but you can order it here. It has the glutinous quality of its white cousin with more nutritional goodness. I also had trumpet mushrooms, which slice beautifully into rounds, some greens, a heap of caramelized onions, and lots of stock.

1-2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup onions, thinly sliced
1 cup sliced trumpet mushrooms
2 cups greens (kale, collards, chard), chopped into small bites
2 cups brown arborio rice
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Heat up olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and toss about until caramelized (this could take you a good ten minutes.) Add the mushrooms, greens, and rice, and toss for a few more minutes. Then add 1 cup of stock, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until almost absorbed. Then, add another cup of stock, plus the yeast and half the herbs. Repeat the process by which you let simmer until almost absorbed and then add another cup until all stock has been added. When all stock is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked, place in serving bowls and sprinkle the remaining half of the herbs. Enjoy!

Pasta Puttanesca

Here’s a nice, simple dinner–pasta with puttanesca sauce–for which you likely don’t even need a recipe, and the only reason to post about this is that it makes a good example of how to take an old favorite and make it more nutritious.

I’ve always loved puttanesca sauce–a spicy tomato sauce–and it retains its wonderful flavor without adding anchovies. I add olives in addition to capers, and to increase the mineral content of the meal, a 1/2 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms that cooked with the sauce and made it chunky and delicious. What else is in there? strained tomatoes, garlic cloves, thinly sliced onions, dried herbs of various kinds, and half of a serrano pepper.

These days I favor lentil pasta. I don’t eat it frequently (it’s expensive, and why not simply eat lentils?) but it’s a nice once-in-a-while treat. It certainly packs more of a nutritional punch than the wheat equivalent (lots of protein and iron.)

And finally, more protein and some B12 via my vegan parmesan (macadamia nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt). Some nutritional yeast brands add B12 to their formulas, which is great!

Bon appetit!

Tacos with Baked Tofu, Avocado, and Mango

This whole feast on the left, complete with homemade tortillas, took me 20 minutes to make. Easy peasy! Of course, we benefit from the fact that Casa Lucaz #3, our local grocery store, keeps fresh masa bags for purchase near the counter. Here are the instructions, for two people:

First, make the tofu (the most time-consuming task.) Heat up the oven to about 420 degrees. Cut up 150g tofu into little cubes. In a shallow dish, mix:
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp soy sauce
1.5 tsp liquid smoke
1 heaping tbsp nutritional yeast

Then, add tofu cubes to the dish and toss around until coated. Place cubes on silpat mat on baking sheet in a single layer and forget about the tofu for 20 minutes.

Then, make the salad: lettuce, avocado, mango and cilantro, with plenty of lime juice.

Then make the tortillas: I used masa and a tortilla press. I’m especially fond of making tiny tortillas, 3-4 inches in diameter, because they look cute. Wrap both sides of the tortilla press with saran wrap or parchment paper and place a small amount (the size of a ping-pong ball or less) on the bottom side, closer to the back hinge. Then, carefully close the press and use the handle to press. Gingerly peel the tortilla of the paper/saran wrap and place on a hot, dry griddle. After 1 minute, flip over to other side; after 1 more minute, tortillas are ready.