Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Lebanese Lentil Soup

I’ve been searching for an authentic crushed lentil soup that tastes as good as the restaurant soups.  After scouring over several recipes, I found that they all include cumin – which surprised me.  Some include carrots and some recipes leave them out.  I like the bit of sweetness they add.  I made some homemade pita chips and topped with a bit of salt and za’atar spice.

Lebanese Lentil Soup
Serves 8
By Amanda’s Plate

1            cup chopped yellow onion
3/4         cup finely shredded carrots (1 large carrot)
1/2         cup finely chopped celery  (2 small)
2            large garlic cloves, finely minced
1  1/2     cups red lentils  (they look orange)
3            tablespoons short grain rice
1            teaspoon ground cumin
1/2         teaspoon salt
1/2         teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2         teaspoon ground white pepper (or black pepper)
2            tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8            cups low sodium vegetable stock – or water
3            tablespoons fresh lemon juice and more for serving

Rinse lentils and rice under cold water until water runs clear.

Place lentils and rice in a stock pot with 2 cups of the vegetable stock and bring to boil.  Reduce to a simmer and place the lid on the pot.

In a skillet, heat extra virgin olive oil and sauté onion, celery, carrots and garlic.  Add in the cumin, turmeric, white pepper and salt.  (heating the spices draws out more of the flavor).

Add the vegetables and spices to the pot of lentils.

Once vegetable stock has been absorbed, add the remaining 6 cups and continue to simmer for 35-40 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Squeeze in fresh lemon juice.

Taste and season if needed.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Couscous Sprout Salad

I modified the original recipe dressing a bit to add some sweetness and tang.
Along with the suggested tamari, I added a few splashes of red wine vinegar and some Agave to, taste.  I didn’t have lima beans so added pistachio nuts instead to add some texture.

Couscous Sprout Salad
2 servings
Gary Null – Vegetarian Cooking for Good Health

2            cups cooked couscous (I used one cup of Pearl couscous – it’s bigger)
1/2         cup diced carrots
1/4         cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2         cup cooked fava or lima beans (or pistachio nuts)
3            tablespoons tamari
            ***I added red wine vinegar and Agave
2            green onions diced (optional)
2-3         tablespoons raisins
1/2         cup sprouts (we buy ours from the farmer’s market and keep in fridge)
3            tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4         teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a medium-size bowl, toss, and serve at room temperature

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles

Since I already committed to the recipe, and couldn’t get my spiralizer to cut the potatoes into noodles,  I decided to just cut the sweet potatoes into long, thin slices.  I didn’t really feel like I was eating noodles, but the flavors were all there so it was worth the effort.  I’ve used the spiralizer for zucchini, which is much softer and it worked great.  I figure I have all winter to figure out the secret to making sweet potato noodles!

Southwestern Sweet Potato Noodles
Serves 4
Food Network Magazine

3            small sweet potatoes, peeled
1/4         cup vegetable oil
              kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1            small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
1            red bell pepper, cut into thin strips  ( I only had green on hand)
1/2 – 1       small Serrano chile pepper, thinly sliced into rounds
                         (since I didn’t have one, I added some red pepper flakes for heat)
1/2         cup frozen fire-roasted corn (Trader Joe’s usually carries)
3            cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4         teaspoon ground cumin
3/4         teaspoon chili powder
1/2         teaspoon ground coriander
1/2         cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
              juice of 1/2 lime, plus wedges for serving

Preheat the broiler.  Cut the potatoes into long noodles using a spiralizer (or use store bought – but I could only find with egg in them).  I cut potatoes into long, thin strips.

Spread on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Broil until browned in spots and slightly softened, 3-4 minutes.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the red onion, bell pepper and Serrano; cook, stirring until just softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the corn, garlic cumin, chili powder, coriander, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 3-5 more minutes.

Add the broiled sweet potato noodles and 1/4 cup water to the skillet with the vegetables.  Cook, gently tossing, until the noodles are coated and tender, 1-2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice; season with salt and pepper.  Serve with lime wedge.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

No Bake Coconut Snowballs

I plan to make these again for the Holidays and the only thing I’ll do different is make a double batch.  If you love coconut, then these tiny bites of goodness are for you.  Perfect to keep in the fridge for a quick little snack.

No Bake Coconut Snowballs
Simple Vegan Blog

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Vegan Butter Tofu

I was happy to get this recipe from a friend and it is so addicting!  The flavors are mild and sweet and I love the creamy texture.  I added peas and a hit of cayenne to my version, which I’ve included in the notes.

Vegan Butter Tofu
·       1/4 cup vegetable oil  (I used a bit less)
·       2 medium onions, finely minced   (I used 1 red onion)
·       1 teaspoon sea salt
·       1⁄2 cup raw cashews
·       3 tablespoons grated ginger
·       5 garlic cloves, finely grated  (I used 3 large cloves)
·       1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
·       1 teaspoon ground turmeric
·       1 teaspoon ground coriander
·       1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
·       Seeds from 4 cardamom pods   (didn’t have on hand)
·       One 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
·       9 ounces soft tofu, cut into bite-size cubes (I used 14 oz. firm tofu – cubed and baked)
·       3/4 cup frozen peas (optional)
·       2 tablespoons brown sugar
·       2 tablespoons almond butter
·       1/4 cup vegan yogurt of soy creamer
·       cayenne pepper to taste (optional)   

Tofu:  I baked mine slightly to dry out the tofu a bit but this step is optional.
Drain and pat dry the tofu (did not use Silken).  Cut into cubes and place on baking sheet.  Cook at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes.  Turn oven off and keep in until ready or take out and set aside.  Cooking to
Dry and firm up tofu a bit. 

Step 1
In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add onions and sea salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are medium brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the cashews, ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rest of the spices and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

Step 2
Stir in the crushed tomatoes, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan, reduce the heat to low and simmer slowly for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens and begins to splatter.

Step 3
Remove from the heat and allow sauce to cool for a couple minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend for 1 minute, or until very smooth.
Step 4

Return the sauce to the pan and stir in the tofu over low heat until it is warm. Remove from the heat and stir through the brown sugar, almond butter, cayenne (if using) and soy cream. Add in frozen peas, if using.  Stir until peas are thawed.  Season with salt to taste .

Friday, November 24, 2017

Cauliflower Tacos with Romesco Sauce

I ordered these unique tacos at Bartaco in Nashville and let me tell you, they were good!  The description on the menu simply said Cauliflower Tacos with Romesco Sauce so in order to recreate I had to find a recipe for the sauce.   I added coleslaw as a bottom layer but you can just keep it simple and add a bit of cilantro and let the cauliflower be the star.

Cauliflower Tacos

            Small tortillas
1          head of Cauliflower, cut into small pieces.

Roast the cauliflower pieces in a 350 degree oven until slightly browned (15-20 minutes).  Take out and put aside.

While cauliflower is roasting, make the Romesco Sauce, or make the sauce the day before.

Pour the Romesco sauce onto the cauliflower and mix to make sure every piece is coated.  When ready to serve, just heat up the mixture and make the tacos.  I suggest
adding a bit of your favorite hot sauce for a little extra kick.

Spanish Romesco Sauce
Bon appétit – web

1            large roasted red bell pepper from a jar
1            garlic clove, smashed
1/2         cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4         cup tomato puree
2            tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2            tablespoons Sherry vinegar
1            teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2         teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2         cup extra-virgin olive oil
              fresh sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pulse first 8 ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped.  With motor running, slowly add oil; process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

Romesco can be made 1 week ahead .  Cover and chill.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Simple Salad with Squash Ribbons

There is a simple salad made a little fancy by adding raw Squash Ribbons and a hand full of Marcona Almonds.  If you don’t have Marcona Almonds,  Macadamia nuts will be
just fine.  I used a mandolin to get the squash ribbons nice and thin but feel free to use your knife skills if you don’t have a mandolin.   If you aren’t crazy about the creamy Italian dressing, a nice lemon vinaigrette works as well.

Simple Salad with Squash Ribbons

            Romaine and Kale mix
            Red onion, thinly sliced
            Shaved yellow squash (thinly sliced and rolled up)
            Marcona Almonds

Creamy Italian Dressing

1/3      cup vegan mayonnaise
2 1/2   tablespoons red wine vinegar
            kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1          tablespoon olive oil
2          teaspoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Fully Loaded Vegetable Chili

I thought the addition of carrots and celery in this recipe was a nice change-up.  Next time I'll remember to add the corn kernels!

Fully Loaded Vegetable Chili
The Pollan Family Table – adapted recipe

Seasoning Mix

3            tablespoon chili powder
1            teaspoon dried oregano
1/2         teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
1.5         teaspoons paprika
1/8         teaspoon cayenne pepper
1            teaspoon ground coriander
1            teaspoon ground cumin
              Kosher salt
              Freshly ground pepper


1            pkg. Tempeh, boiled for approximately 15 min., chopped finely
1            15 oz. can organic black beans
1            15 oz. can organic kidney beans
2            tablespoons olive oil
2            cups chopped yellow onion
3            cloves garlic, minced
1            cup peeled and chopped carrots
1/2         cup chopped celery
1/2         cup chopped bell pepper
2            tablespoons tomato paste
1            28-oz. can crushed tomatoes with juice
2            cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1            tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1            bay leaf
1/2         cup frozen corn kernels (didn’t use)
            green onion, vegan cheese and vegan sour cream for topping

For the seasoning mix, place all the seasoning ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir to blend.  Set aside.

Rinse beans and set aside.

In large pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped tempeh and cook until slightly browned.  Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the garlic, carrots, celery and bell pepper.  Saute until softened, about 10 minutes.

I like to add the seasoning mix at this time to get all the ingredients coated.  Once ingredients are coated with the spice, add the tomato paste and 2 cups water.  Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, soy sauce, and the bay leaf and mix well.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Turn down to simmer. Add beans, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.  Remove and discard the bay leaf.

Do a final season tasting and add more salt or pepper as needed – maybe even a hit of your favorite hot sauce.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Asian Spiced Nuts

The Asian 5 Spice Powder gives the nuts a unique flavor.  Five Spice Powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise and Szechwan peppercorns.

Asian Spiced Nuts
Joanne Weir 

2            tablespoons vegan butter
1.5         tablespoons brown sugar
2            tablespoons soy sauce
1/4         teaspoon cayenne
1/4         teaspoon dried ginger
1            tablespoon 5 spice
1            teaspoon kosher salt

Toasted and unsalted:   Walnuts, almonds, pecans (1 cup each)

Melt vegan butter in non-stick pan.  Add brown sugar and soy sauce.  Add spices and stir to mix.  Add toasted nuts to pan and coat well.

Transfer to baking sheet and cook at 275 degrees for 30-40 minutes.

Cool completely.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Kale and Mixed Greens Salad with Polenta Croutons

I found this recipe in one of Valerie Bertinelli's cookbooks and modified it a bit.  I used a seasoned flour coating not the Polenta for frying but you can save a step and fry up as is.  Use any left over Polenta Croutons for some serious snackin'.

Kale and Mixed Greens Salad with Polenta Croutons


I used yellow corn meal and cooked according to box.

4            cups water
1            cup corn meal
1            teaspoon salt
              I added a tablespoon vegan butter

Pkg. instructions:  Bring 3 cups water to a boil.  Combine remaining 1 cup water, corn meal and salt.  Stirring constantly.  Cook until thickened, stirring frequently.
Add vegan butter towards end of cooking.

Once cooled, pour into small square baking dish and let firm in refrigerator.

Once Polenta is set, cut into squares.  Dust in seasoned flour (salt, pepper, garlic powder and pinch of cayenne).  Fry in non stick pan.


1            teaspoon Dijon mustard
2            tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4         cup extra-virgin olive oil

10        cups mixed baby greens (we did kale and mixed greens)
            toasted walnuts
            dried cranberries
            thinly sliced red onion
            salt and pepper
            polenta croutons

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Eggplant Pasta

Eggplant is a nice way to switch up normal pasta sauce -- it's light, flavorful and loaded with vitamin B, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

Eggplant Pasta
adapted Ayesha Curry recipe Game Day Pasta

2            tablespoons olive oil
1/2         cup finely diced yellow onion
              Kosher Salt
 Freshly ground pepper
4            garlic cloves, minced
1            globe eggplant, cut into cubes (about 6 cups)
1 & 1/2            cups red wine (I used veggie stock)
2            bay leaves
2            teaspoons tomato paste (I used a bit more)
1            can whole tomatoes, crushed with a spoon or your hands, including liquid
              Pinch of dried thyme
2            teaspoons dark brown sugar
1            lb. spaghetti or penne
2            cups packed spinach leaves (I used more and cut baby spinach small)
            handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
            ****I added homemade vegan Parmesan
            ****I added vegan smoked  provolone cheese and let it melt
            ****I added a pinch of red pepper flakes

Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the eggplant an season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant begins to soften, about 3 minutes.  Add the wine  (or veggie broth) and bay leaves, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the wine/stock has reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds.  Pour in the tomatoes and season with the thyme, brown sugar and 1 teaspoon kosher salt.  Cook, simmering gently over medium-low heat, until the tomatoes have thickened enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.  Be sure to crush the tomatoes with a wooden spoon if any large chunks remain.  Fish out the bay leaves.

***I added red pepper flakes, vegan parmesan cheese and vegan provolone.  Stirred till blended in and vegan cheese melted.

Make noodles according to package directions.

Pour sauce over noodles and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Brown Rice Bowl with Ginger, Radish and Avocado

This is a great weeknight  meal and you can add any of your favorite vegetables.  I kept this
bowl pretty simple but thought peas or a little broccoli would be a nice add in.

Brown Rice Bowl with Ginger, Radish and Avocado
Inspired by Nigella Lawson
2 bowls

3/4         cup brown rice cooked  per package directions
1            tablespoon fresh ginger diced small (or desired amount)
4-6         radishes, sliced
2            green onions, sliced
1/4         cup pepita seeds or other seeds
1            avocado, sliced
              chopped cilantro (optinal)

1.5         tablespoon tamrai or soy sauce
1            teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
              sprinkling of ground coriander

              ground pepper

***I made a little extra sauce in case I needed more, so you can eye the sauce measurements.

While rice is cooking, prepare your bowl fixings – ginger, radishes, green onions, avocado and seeds – set aside.

Prepare dressing – soy sauce, apple cider vinegar and ground coriander.

Mix brown rice, fixings and dressing together  Top with cilantro, if using.  Season to taste.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Pan-Seared Tofu Teriyaki

We served this over white Jasmine rice sprinkled with green onions but you can serve alone with your favorite side.

Pan-Seared Tofu Teriyaki
The Pollan Family Table CB

2            12-14 oz. packages extra firm organic tofu, drained
1            tablespoon oil of your choice
3/4         cup Teriyaki glaze (recipe to follow)

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Slice the tofu blocks in half horizontally to make them half as thick, then vertically, to make 4 equal-size rectangular tofu steaks from each package, for a total of 8 steaks.  (I used one package and sliced tofu in thinner slices).  Place the tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels , place a plate or another cutting board on top, and rest a weight, such as a small skillet, on top of that.  This will press the excess liquid from the tofu.  Let the steaks drain for at least 10 minutes.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering.  Pat the tofu steaks dry and place them in the pan.  Cook undisturbed until golden, 4-5 minutes.  Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 4-5 minutes more.  Remove the pan from the heat.

In a casserole or baking pan large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer, spread just enough teriyaki glaze to lightly coat the bottom (2-3 tablespoons).  Lay the tofu steaks on top and spoon the remaining teriyaki glaze, coating them completely.

Bake until browned and bubbly, 15-20 minutes.  Serve hot.
I served over white Jasmine rice and sprinkled with green onions.

Terrific Teriyaki Glaze
Makes 3/4 cup

1            teaspoon sesame seeds
1            teaspoon cornstarch
1/2         cup low-sodium soy sauce
2            tablespoons mirin
2            tablespoons dark brown sugar
1            teaspoon minced garlic
1            teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1            teaspoon sesame oil

If using sesame seeds, cook them in a small dry-skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until they begin to darken and give off a toasty aroma, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer the seeds to a small plate and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, mix the cornstarch with 2 teaspoons of warm water.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and 1/3 cup of water.  Place over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the sauce comes to a low boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the dissolved cornstarch.  Continue stirring until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the sesame oil and the sesame sees, if desired.