Cauliflower Kitchari

Now that the semester has ended on both sides of the Bay Bridge, I have some time to cook delicious things, rather than eating on the fly as I ride my bike and BART. I even cracked open a great cookbook–Oz Telem’s Cauliflower–and branched beyond my usual fare of whole roasted cauli, or cauli/olive/chickpea salad, to making this satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs upgrade to cauli rice. It’s an aromatic concoction of riced cauli and yellow or red lentils with some spices.

Ingredients

2-3 cups cauliflower florets

1 cup yellow or red lentils, preferably whole

1 scant tsp turmeric

1.5 cups water

1-2 tsp salt (I used truffle salt to great effect)

3-4 tbsp olive oil

6-7 garlic cloves

1 heaping tsp cumin

Place florets in food processor and process until it has couscous consistency. Transfer to a medium pot along with the lentils, turmeric, and water. Bring to a boil, add the salt, cover, and lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer approx. 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils and cauli are soft but not mushy.

Toward the end, heat olive oil in a pan. Thinly slice and add garlic cloves and cumin. Fry until golden. Add contents of the pan to the pot and mix well. Serve with a nice vegetable stew (pictured) or with coconut yogurt (I like Cocojune.)

By the way, we’ve had to find a new produce delivery service, and in an effort to prevent food waste we now get our fruit and veg from Imperfect Foods. This recipe came about because they brought us lots of wonderful cauliflower! In addition to the lovely produce, they have an impressive array of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy, many of which we’ve never tried before, and we’re very happy with them so far.

Homemade Green Chilled Soup

In the last few months, I’ve been enjoying lighter fare before lunch – usually green juices or a smoothie. This green chilled soup is my recreation of Lydia’s Alkalizing Soup, which I got to enjoy this summer at Rainbow Grocery as well as at Harbin. Sadly, the soup seems to have vanished from the shelves – but fear not, amigos, because I got your back and have managed to make it with my Vitamix at home. You blend it, serve it chilled, and top with a handful of pepitas or other seeds, a little swirl of cashew yogurt, and/or some nice sprouts. It makes a great breakfast or a light lunch alongside a salad with some beans or tofu.

For my WFPB and Forks Over Knives buddies: the avocado is absolutely essential and produces a wonderful texture. For everyone: this thing keeps for a couple of days in a mason jar in the fridge.

  • 1 small avocado, or 1/2 a large one
  • 2 Persian cucumbers
  • 4-5 kale leaves
  • big handful baby spinach
  • 4 celery sticks
  • big handful parsley
  • big handful cilantro
  • big handful basil
  • 1-2 stalks green onion
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup water

Cut all veg into pieces. Place in blender; blend. Top with seeds, sprouts, or a bit of cashew yogurt. Enjoy cold!

Fonio

The other day I very much enjoyed watching two marvelous animated films on Criterion Channel: Kirikou and the Sorceress and Kirikou and the Men and Women. Both films are magical, artistic, deep creations, and I found them engaging and captivating. They involve a tiny boy, Kirikou, and his courageous fight against a sorceress and her fetishes on behalf of his people–even as said people are not always as gracious about his efforts as they should be. Highly recommended!

I mention this because, at some point in the second film, one of the village women comes to stay at Kirikou’s house. Kirikou’s mother invites her in, saying:

This caught my attention. Fonio? What is it? I had never heard of it, so my eyes were glued to the screen to see what it would look like. And here it was:

This looked exactly like something I would very much enjoy eating, so I quickly looked it up. Fonio turns out to be a West African grain, gluten-free and rich in protein and nutrients. It cooks very quickly and can be used similarly to quinoa, couscous, or rice. A restaurateur in Harlem wants to uplift Fonio and make it an exciting new grain option for Western palates, noting that, by contrast to quinoa (where the Western demand removed it from Andean tables), Fonio had been rejected as a food staple for quite a while in West Africa on behalf of Western options.

This is quite sad, because fonio is not only healthy, but delicious! I ordered a bag on Amazon; it’s quite economical, as in cooking it expands considerably. The fonio-to-water cooking ratio is 1:2, and you can add a teaspoon of oil and a little bit of salt (though it’s not really necessary, in our experience.) It comes out fluffy, kind of like couscous or quinoa, and has a very flavorful, nutty taste. I can see serving it with a variety of vegetable stews and learning more about West African cuisine. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Curried lentil-carrot-coconut-tomato-ginger-turmeric soup

This morning called for a bowl of warming soup and for deepening my joy about my newly arranged spice rack. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted lentil, carrot, or tomato soup, and so I decided to make one soup to rule them all! The real stars of the show are fresh ginger and turmeric roots; I bet you could make this with powder, but the fresh root is so delightful in color and taste. I also relied on Madras South Indian curry I ordered from World Spice Market.

I made this in the venerable Instant Pot, but I bet it would come out fantastic cooked on the stove. The thickness of the soup depends on how much water you add, and you can adjust it after it finishes cooking, before the blending stage.

Oh, by the way: I finally figured out the reason for the odious tendency of cooking websites to make you stroll through florid personal stories of wise elderly relatives, college exchange programs and exotic backpacking adventures, seventeen different pictures of each recipe, and detailed descriptions of the experience of eating it. You might already know this–I am a true neophyte to the ways of e-commerce and web traffic–but anyway, it turns out that one’s site fares better on Google et al. if you throw in a minimum amount of text and pictures. Thankfully, I’m in the fortunate position of having a day job and not making a cent off of sharing recipes with you, so I’ll stop torturing you and get to business. Be your own hero and make this soup!

  • 1-2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp Madras South Indian Curry (or equivalent spices: Coriander, Brown Mustard, Turmeric, Cumin, Fenugreek Sd, Blk Pepper, Chile Flk, Cardamom, Indo. Cinnamon, and Ginger, totaling 2 tbsp)
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1-inch knob fresh turmeric, peeled and minced
  • 4 large carrots, sliced or cubed
  • 1 small can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 6-8 cups water

Set the instant pot to “sauté” and heat up the coconut oil. Add the curry spices and toast them in the pot for about 1 min. Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric, and toast for another 30 seconds. Turn off the sauté function and throw in the carrots, tomatoes, coconut milk, lentils, and water. Set to “soup” (30 minutes of high pressure cooking). Allow pressure to release slowly. Open pot and use a ladle to move half of the contents to a blender. Add water to achieve desired thickness and blend until smooth. Return to instant pot and keep on “warm” until serving.

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.

Miso Soup with Kale, Lentils, and Mushrooms

After a few days in which Río was miserable over his teething process and we all got precious little sleep, I craved eating something medicinal and restorative. Enter this wonderful soup, which packs a punch in protein, minerals (especialy iron and calcium) and satisfies without being too heavy.

I happened to have black garlic and dried porcini mushrooms at home, but if you don’t, regular garlic and fresh mushrooms will do just fine!

2 shallots, finely minced
3 cloves black or white garlic, finely minced
4 stalks green onions, both green and white parts, finely minced
1 cup cooked lentils
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced, or dehydrated mushrooms soaked in warm water for a short while
3 cups vegetable broth
3 tbsp miso
3-4 cups raw, chopped kale

Heat up a dry pot until, when you drop a bit of water in it, it moves around like mercury. At that point, add the shallots, garlic, and green onions. Stir around until translucent and a bit golden, then use a bit of the broth to deglaze the pan.

Add lentils, mushrooms, and the rest of the broth, lower the heat, and cook for 5 minutes.

Add miso and cook for 5 minutes more.

Add kale and cook just until wilted.

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.

Gazpacho

gazpacho

Tonight I’m having a nice friend over, so I took a few minutes in the morning to make gazpacho according to the New York Times recipe. I used eight large vine tomatoes, two Persian cucumbers, half a red onion, and one Poblano pepper, and drizzled in olive oil. This is one recipe in which the oil makes a big difference–it emulsifies everything into a heavenly orange-hued soup.

I’m also serving sauteed long green beans in garlic-ginger-soy sauce, a green salad, and easy portobello pizzettas.

Libya: Couscous Soup

Libyan couscous soup

Just in time for the stay of the ban by the District Court judges in Hawaii and Maryland, we have a recipe from Libya to end our Banned Countries VeganFest! Couscous from Tripoli is traditionally served with soup poured on top of it. The soup is mild in taste and so delicious that it can be a meal on its own, sans couscous, and super easy to prepare.

1 big onion, diced
1 medium-sized cabbage, chopped
1 cup butternut squash, cubed
3 carrots, sliced
3 zucchini, sliced
big handful of parsley, minced
1 can or two cups of cooked chickpeas
dried vegetable powder or bouillon cube

Place all vegetables with the bouillon in a pot and cover with water. Cook on the stove for about an hour and a half, or in the InstantPot for 45 minutes. Serve on its own or pour on top of cooked couscous. Enjoy!