Saturday, March 29, 2014


My mom has mentioned that when she was in grad school in New York in the 70s, lasagna was the go-to dish for hip dinner parties--a crowd-pleaser, delicious, and still slightly novelexotic. Perhaps hummus would be the equivalent these days?

I believe that this is the first lasagna I have ever made. Which perhaps makes it more personally novel than hummus.

Lasagna with tofu ricotta, based off the recipe in Veganomicon

Monday, March 24, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

This pasta salad (part of this menu) started as just using up whatever vegetables I had in the fridge, but I'm really delighted by how it turned out. A little bit fussy in how I cooked the different vegetables, this salad still comes together quite quickly, and can be served hot or cold.

Why is pasta salad so delicious?!? I had similar feelings about this tempeh "tuna" noodle salad. Whole wheat macaroni, in particular, has such a great texture and is fun to eat. And whole wheat pasta is actually quite good for you, with lots of fiber and protein.

Roasted Vegetable Pasta Salad

2 c uncooked whole wheat macaroni (4 servings)
1 c chickpeas, rinsed
1 bell pepper
1 c broccoli crowns, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 TB olive oil
1/4 tsp smoked salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
8 oz button mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 TB olive oil
1/2 tsp smoked salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tsp dried marjoram
5 more garlic cloves
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 c olives (I used stuffed manzanilla olives), coarsely chopped
1-2 scallions, sliced
2 tsp basil (I used dried but fresh would be great)
1 tsp dried oregano
2 TB olive oil
1/4 c white wine vinegar (plus more to taste)
1-2 TB sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Cook macaroni until al dente, rinse and mix with chickpeas in a large bowl or container. Set aside.
2. Over a low gas flame on the stove, roast the bell pepper, turning every two minutes until mostly blackened and soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
3. While the pepper is roasting, toss the broccoli with olive oil, smoked salt, and red pepper flakes and put in a baking dish. Toss the mushrooms with garlic, smoked salt, and marjoram and put in a baking dish. Toss the 5 remaining garlic cloves in olive oil, and put in a baking dish as well. Roast until each vegetable is sizzling and slightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside. Note: you could put these all in the same dish, separated by foil. The garlic will be finished first, then the broccoli, and finally the mushrooms, which is why I didn't just mix them all together.
4. Gently rub the blackened areas off of the pepper. Cut the pepper into bite-sized strips and discard the middle parts. Coarsely slice the roasted garlic cloves.
5. Place the broccoli, mushrooms, garlic, and pepper into a large container with olives, scallions, basil, and oregano. Add olive oil and vinegar and stir. Let sit at least 15 minutes.
6. Mix marinated roasted vegetables in with pasta and chickpeas. Add red pepper spread and sesame seeds and mix well. Taste for salt, red pepper flakes, and vinegar, adding more as desired. Serve warm or cool. Serves about 5-6.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spicy Cream of Zucchini Soup

Part of a triumphant trio of dishes, this zucchini soup was surprisingly flavorful. And I got to use my new immersion blender! Thanks, Mom! It's one of those things I wouldn't have bought for myself, since one can make do just fine with a normal blender. But it certainly simplifies and speeds up the process.

Deb of Smitten Kitchen beautifully describes the appeal of pureed soups:
In one minute flat, it converts everything in the pot into a velvety consomm√©, bridging the disparity between ingredients (“No! I don’t want to hang out with the icky squash!” whines the orange-fleshed potato) like a mother insisting her children play nicely together. No more alarming boiled vegetable flavor, no more awkward, thin spaces between ingredients, with each spoonful the same as the last, I find these soups contemplative; a calm brought on by the knowledge that every spoonful will taste the same as the one before.
To be sure, sometimes you want a party in your mouth (as in this pumpkin eggplant tofu melange). And maybe it makes sense to pair these different ways of experiencing the flavors in the same meal--one dish where every bite tastes the same, one dish where every bite is different. Maybe this is common knowledge, but I just realized it.

I actually used Mexican zucchini, which tastes the same but is cuter (and cheaper at Jon's). You could use any summer squash here; the only real difference would be the color.

I was inspired by this recipe for zucchini soup, but I added a handful of things, including carrots, celery, coconut milk, and nutritional yeast. I also added a serrano chili, because it was so pretty (see below), but late in the game I decided to finish the soup with a drizzle of sriracha, and their combined powers were a bit too much.

Spicy Cream of Zucchini Soup 
(inspired by the kitchn)

2 TB olive oil
1 white onion, sliced
2 carrots, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
5-8 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium zucchini, about 1 1/2 pounds (I used about 7 small ones)
4 c vegetable broth
1/2 c coconut milk
1-2 TB nutritional yeast (optional)
salt and pepper
sriracha and more coconut milk for drizzle

1. Heat the oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat. When it foams, add onions, celery, and carrots and cook on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two. Keep the heat low enough that the garlic doesn't brown; you want everything to sweat.
2. Add the zucchini and cook until soft. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer at a low heat for about 45 minutes.
3. Let cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender until creamy, or transfer to a standing blender to puree. Be very careful if you use the latter; only fill the blender half full with each batch, and hold the lid down tightly with a towel.
4. Stir in coconut milk and nutritional yeast. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this is significantly better after a night in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld.
5. Serve hot, with a drizzle each of sriracha and coconut milk. Serves about 6.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Ribollita

Janet's roasted vegetable ribollita had been in my bookmarks for ages, and when I got down to making it, I realized I didn't have any white beans. Blackeyed peas it was. I cooked them with a bay leaf, some tamari, and a strip of kombu, and they were ready to go.

I didn't have a bell pepper, fennel, or zucchini, so I added potatoes instead. It would be nice to have the fennel flavor in the broth, though. For the Turkish red pepper paste, I used the "Ajika" I've posted about before--I think it's probably pretty similar.

Overall, the soup tasted a bit sweet--I think it was all the carrots and the ajika--which was a little strange. It may also have been my homemade vegetable stock. I'm about ready to give up on homemade stock for a while. That said, the roasted head of garlic with coconut oil was AMAZING and I'm going to use it in everything, not just this soup.

Roasted Vegetable Ribollita
(adapted from taste space)

1 head garlic (12 cloves)
2 large carrots, chopped
3 yukon gold potatoes, in 1-in cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 portobello mushroom, stemmed and chopped
1 TB coconut oil
1.75 c cooked blackeyed peas, divided, reserving any cooking liquid
4 c vegetable broth and/or reserved bean liquid
1 TB tomato paste
2 TB Turkish red pepper paste (or more tomato paste)
3 c sliced green cabbage (300g)

1. Preheat oven to 425F. 
2. Chop off the top of the head of the garlic, add a touch of coconut oil, season with salt and pepper and wrap tightly in aluminum foil.  In a large silpat-lined baking pan (I used a 9×13 glass baking dish), combine potatoes, carrot, onion, and mushrooms. Dab coconut oil over the top of the veggies, place in oven to allow it to melt, then stir into the veggies. Season with salt and pepper, cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes, stirring half-way through. Remove foil and continue to roast another 10 minutes, to allow the vegetables to brown.
3. Meanwhile, reserve half of the beans and set aside. Add the other half of the beans to a food processor and puree until smooth.
4. In a large pot, add pureed beans, vegetable broth, tomato paste, red pepper paste and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer. Once your roasted vegetables are ready add them to the pot. Remove cloves of roasted garlic and smush to make a puree. Add this to the soup as well. Add the cabbage and cook for an additional 10 minutes.
5. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm. Serves about 6.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Vadai Curry

I don't know how I made it this far in life without realizing that there is a south Indian equivalent of falafel. 

In this recipe, you make the dumplings first, then add them to a spicy and creamy sauce. Amazingly, the dumplings hold together, absorbing the sauce but maintaining their structural integrity. So delicious!

Some notes: I used yellow split peas and undercooked them: I boiled them five minutes and let them sit for five minutes before draining and using. This seemed to work well--after simmering in the sauce, they were fully cooked. I also added a few tablespoons of water to the batter to get my blender to get working; they still weren't runny. 

(from holy cow)

for the vadai:
1 c chana dal (I used yellow split peas; see above)
1/4 c rice flour
2 dried red chillies
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
salt to taste
oil for frying
for the curry: 
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed with a garlic press
10-12 curry leaves (I omitted these)
1 TB ginger, minced
1 large tomato, finely chopped (I used 1/2 c canned diced tomatoes)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 tsp vegetable or canola oil
1 c coconut milk
salt to taste

To make the vadai:
1. Boil the split peas for five minutes; turn off the heat and let sit five more minutes. Then drain.
2. Grind the split peas with the rest of the ingredients. If the processor or blender blades refuse to turn because the mixture is too dry, add just a tiny bit of water, a tablespoon at a time. You want a coarse paste that clumps together, but it should not be too watery or you won’t be able to form your vadas.
3. Form 1-inch vadas by pulling off a piece of the dough, rolling it into a ball, and then flattening it between your palms. I got 12 vadas.
4.Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan. Fry the vadas until they are golden-brown. Don’t let them brown too quickly or they’ll stay raw inside. Drain onto a paper towel. Once the vadais are cool enough to handle, break them up into small pieces.

To make the curry:

1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When the seeds sputter, add the onions and curry leaves.
2. Saute until the onions start to turn transparent. Add the ginger and garlic and stir well, about a minute. Add the tomatoes.
3. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, and garam masala powder. Mix them in and saute the mixture until the tomatoes are all crushed into a paste and most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Add a cup of water, bring it to a boil, then add the pieces of vadai. Once the vadai absorb most of the water, add coconut milk and salt to taste.
5. Stir well, bring the curry to a boil, and let it simmer another five minutes. Turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro leaves. Serve hot. Serves about 4-5.

Pot Pie

I used up my homemade seitan in making the pot pie recipe from Veganomicon. It wasn't pretty, but it tasted good. The crust, in particular, was really flaky and delicious. Definitely recommended to eat with mushroom gravy.