Dandelion Greens with Leeks, Sundried Tomato, and JustEgg

Thanks to the amazing cooks at Moya and the good folks at Imperfect Produce, I’m enjoying the most wonderful brunch. A couple of days ago we had a hankering for Ethiopian food, with which my family has a special relationship because of my aunt Michal’s years as a social worker working with the Ethiopian-Israeli immigrant community. We ordered Moya’s excellent veggie combo, with extra injera, as well as tofu tibs, and had a tiny bit of sauce from the tibs left, as well as some of the injera.

Enter the vegetable box, which brought us a big bunch of dandelion greens, a gigantic leek, fresh green onions, spry parsley sprigs, and a little jar of Sicilian dried tomatoes. We also had a container of JustEgg in the fridge, though crumbled tofu would do the trick here just fine. A few minutes later, a brunch fit for royalty.

  • 1 big bunch dandelion greens
  • 1 leek (just the green part)
  • 1-2 sprigs green onion
  • big handful parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped dried tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp Tibs sauce, or tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp JustEgg, or 3 oz crumbled tofu

Heat up a bit of water in a pan. Thinly slice the leek and green onion, chop the parsley, and cut the stems of the dandelion greens into bite-size pieces (the top part of the leaf you can leave whole.)

Pop the vegetables into the hot was. Add the tibs sauce or the tomato sauce, as well as the dried tomatoes, and mix. Cover the pan and let steam for a few minutes. After the greens have wilted and the water has all but evaporated, add the JustEgg or the tofu on top (the tofu might need mixing with the flavorful greens), close the lid again, and allow to cook. Serve with injera (or bread, or nothing.)

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.

Kuku Sabzi

In my continuing mission to introduce more greens into my breakfasts (previous attempts included lots of smoothie bowls) I came up with a wonderful solution that can be made ahead and provide convenient, protein- and nutrient-rich breakfasts for the whole week. Kuku Sabzi is a Persian dish of dense greens and herbs bound with egg. My version substitutes the egg with chickpea flour, plant milk, and olive oil, and incorporates lots of herbs and spices. You can make lots of variations, depending on the greens you have on hand. This version uses Stonehouse spice mixes, which I find incredibly useful.

Ingredients:

  • 8 big collard leaves
  • 8 big kale leaves
  • 100g or so of spinach or baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plant milk
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 heaping tbsp OMG (or your own combination of onion powder, garlic powder, and salt)
  • 1 heaping tbsp Aglio Olio (or your own Italian seasoning)

Process:

First, remove the stems from the collards and kale and tear into pieces. Place all the greens and herbs in your food processor and chop into tiny pieces–you may need to do this in batches.

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Lightly oil a shallow, rectangular baking dish (I use this 9”x12” one, but anything will do) and line with parchment (don’t forget the parchment–this will pay off dividends at the end.)

Next, place all the chopped greens in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the chickpea flour, plant milk, olive oil, and spices, into an eggy-textured mixture. Transfer the mixture into the bowl with the greens and mix well with your hands, until the mixture binds the greens together. Then, transfer the lot into the baking dish. Using damp hands, push the mixture into the bottom of the dish, until it is very dense and covers the whole dish. Flatten the top.

Bake for about 45 mins, or until the kuku has solidified. Remove from oven, lift using the parchment, and gently place on a cooling rack. After it cools a bit, you can cut it into squares, triangles, or any other shape, and store in the fridge. This is delicious when eaten cold, straight from the fridge, or dipped into this fabulous dressing.

Vegan Sabih

Sabih, the sensational eggplant/egg/tahini/amba sandwich, is a mainstay in Israel, and there’s even a place that serves it in Oakland. It’s easy to make at home whenever you like if you have the main ingredients on hand. Here’s a vegan version:

  • 2 pitot (we make our own sourdough pitot, recipe some other time)
  • 1 eggplant
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • salt
  • 1/2 package firm or medium-firm tofu
  • 1 tsp kala namak salt
  • 1 tbsp chickpea flour
  • 1 tbsp plant milk
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp amba powder
  • 2 tbsp raw tahini
  • juice from 2 lemons
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, parsley, thinly sliced

Heat up the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch rounds. Place on silicone baking sheet and top with minced garlic and salt.

Slice the tofu into very thin slices. Make a mixture out of the kala namak, chickpea flour, plant milk, and turmeric. Coat each tofu slice in the mixture on both sides. Place on silicone baking sheet alongside the eggplant. Bake for about 20 minutes.

While the eggplant and tofu are baking, mix the amba powder with some boiling water to make a bit of amba. Mix the tahini with lemon juice and garlic to make a bit of tahini. Slice all veg and herbs thinly.

Halve the pitot and toast them (if you like). Smear tahini and amba inside each pocket. Pack the pita full of tofu, eggplant, and vegetables. Serve alongside a nice salad with some mint tea.

Grilled Eggplants Stuffed with Impossible Meat and Pomegranate

For today’s Christmas Eve brunch, we made a version of Oz Telem’s new recipe. I think ours benefits from the fact that the eggplants were grilled, and from some little tweaks to the recipe. Because I grew up not far from where Jesus spent his childhood, I imagine he had lots of fresh grilled vegetables (not eggplant, though) but he and his family probably ate lots of fish rather than vegan meats. We used Impossible meat, but you could use Beyond Beef as well.

Ingredients

  • Two medium-sized lightweight eggplants
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp baharat
  • 1/2 package Impossible/Beyond ground
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • parsley for garnish

process

Fire up the grill. Gently peel the eggplants in a zebra pattern – removing lengthwise stripes of peel, but keeping some stripes on, so that the eggplant retains its shape. Place on the grill and grill for about 15 mins, taking care to char on all sides.

While the eggplant is grilling, cut the pomegranate in half; juice one half and extract the seeds from the other half (save those for later). Heat up the olive oil in a pan. Add the onions and cook until translucent. After 2-3 minutes, add the garlic and pine nuts. Cook for about 30 seconds. Then, add the Impossible/Beyond, the pomegranate juice, and the baharat. Sauté until the ground feels cooked and the spices are incorporated throughout (about 4-5 mins.)

Make a slit in each eggplant and stuff each one with half of the Impossible/Beyond mixture (it’ll be easy to fill, because the insides of the eggplant should be already fairly mushy.) Cook for another 10 mins or so on the grill, until the flavors incorporate. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds and parsley on top and serve with tchina (“tahini”) and other grilled vegetables. Happy Holidays!

The blog has been an effort to integrate works of compassion from three areas of my life–compassionate work, compassionate mindfulness, and compassionate cooking–so I hope the occasional recipe/mindfulness practice is not too surprising to the many folks reading here because of the COVID-19 crisis in prisons. We are thinking of those of you behind bars, and of those of you missing your incarcerated loved ones, and we hope you will soon get to cook and break bread together on the outside.

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!

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

Preparation

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.

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.

Ingredients:

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

Preparation:

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!

Beet Burgers

If you’re anything like me, you probably have all kinds of vegetable leftovers. After yesterday’s iteration of the Buddha bowl, we were left with about a cup and a half of quinoa, a cup of cooked chickpeas, a few steamed beets, and a small plastic container of zucchini in tomato sauce.

I placed all these things in the food processor, added some salt, pepper, and liquid smoke, and added some dry polenta until the textures solidified enough to make little patties. I then baked the patties on a silpat mat at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, and we had delicious beet burgers to enjoy with vegetables, tahini, and a side sip of the New York Times’ legendary gazpacho.