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Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Provencal Lentils

Obviously I loved every place that hubby and I visited in France, but I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Provence.  I’ve wanted to visit Provence since I was a little girl.  I papered the inside of my closet door with pictures of Europe, which seemed to be disproportionately pictures of Provence (although there were a good number of Alpine villages thrown in there too) and I would stare at the pictures every day and dream of visiting them in person.  When hubby and I finally made that trip last fall, Provence was everything I imagined it to be and more.  I loved the hot sun, the lush grapevines, the sleepy hill towns, the bustling markets, the towering Pont du Gard and the spires of the Palais des Papes in Avignon, and the relaxed outdoor cafes where – even if it’s not on the menu – you can always get pastis.  And of course, I loved the flavors of Provence – the tomato-pepper-eggplant trio that makes up ratatouille, the briny olive taste of pistou (I even had a risotto that seemed to have olive tapenade mixed in – outrageous – note to self: must recreate) and the quintessential herbs de Provence, naturally.

With these lentils, I am putting a Provencal twist on a very simple, rustic dish (which is kind of Provencal in and of itself, if you think about it).  If you’re simply going to cook up a pot of lentils – and why not? – herbs de Provence impart a heady lavender and thyme flavor.  And I went one better than that, even, by adding a teaspoon of fennel seed to give a whiff of the licorice aroma of pastis. In one bite of these lentils, I felt as though I had stopped by the Arles market to collect a big bunch of aromatic dried herbs and then sauntered into a corner cafe, sat down and requested pastis, sil vous plait.  Not a bad trip for a Friday night in my kitchen.

Provencal Lentils

1 cup Urban Garden mixed lentils (or brown lentils)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence (substitute thyme)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

  • In a heavy pot, bring the lentils and the vegetable broth to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover.  Allow lentils to cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking to the bottom of the pot.  (Nota Baker: It’s really important that you use brown lentils here.  French green lentils take forever to cook – although you can use them if you have all day – and red lentils will break down into a delicious mush, which is great but not what we’re going for here.  The lentils I had were a mix of green, brown and red and so there were several textures represented.  That’s great, but if you can only use one, go for brown.)
  • Once the lentils have fully cooked (taste a small bite just to make sure) drain off the remainder of the vegetable broth – but don’t get too overenthusiastic with the draining; we want the lentils to be a little loose so some remaining broth is a good thing.
  • Return the lentils to the pot and stir in a teaspoon of mustard powder, a teaspoon of herbs de Provence (or you can substitute thyme if you don’t have herbs de Provence), and either 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds.  (I used a full teaspoon, which tasted fantastic to me, but hubby isn’t wild about the flavor of fennel seeds – he liked that it was in this dish but would have preferred it to be a little subtler.  So I’ll reduce it for his sake next time I make this, but if you like fennel seeds, then a full teaspoon will be very nice indeed.)
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve over greens, buttered baguette slices, or simply in a bowl.  Yum.

Source: Covered In Flour

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April in D.C. has been acting really weird. One day it will be 75 degrees and hubby and I are eating salads and popsicles.  Then the next day it’s rainy and 41.  This is that time of year when D.C. can’t make up its mind as to whether it wants to be grey and gloomy and cold, or sunny and beautiful.  We go through this every year, but this year it seems to be taking longer than usual.  By Easter we should have sorted ourselves out, but in the meantime comfort food is still called for.  And I know that it’s still cold up north where my family is… so this recipe is a gift for all of us.  It’s warm and soothing, briny and salty from the Chickpeas of the Sea, and even includes a crispy golden crust.  In short, Mock Tuna Noodle Casserole is the total package, perfectly designed for taking us out of the winter doldrums and into spring and summer.

Mock Tuna Noodle Casserole

6 ounces egg noodles (1/2 package)
1 cup Chickpeas of the Sea
1/2 cup Homemade Bread Crumbs (or substitute panko)
olive oil

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Boil egg noodles in salted water, until al dente.  Remove noodles to a mixing bowl, reserving some of the pasta water.
  • Add Chickpeas of the Sea to the noodles and fold together gently.  Add pasta water, a little at a time, to loosen mixture as needed.
  • Remove noodles and Chickpeas of the Sea to a casserole dish.
  • Sprinkle bread crumbs in an even layer over the top of the casserole.  Drizzle with olive oil to ensure browning.
  • Bake at 350 for 3o-35 minutes, until top of casserole is golden brown and casserole is heated through.

Yield: Serves 4.

Source: Covered In Flour

Source: Covered in Flour.

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Spring Green Soup

Spring is the most glorious season of the year in DC.  There are flowers, literally, everywhere.  For a few weeks, it seems like there isn’t a tree in the mid-Atlantic region that’s not in bloom.  Dogwood, cherry trees, and my favorite redbuds are on every street corner.  And then there are the fields of daffodils, the flowers blooming up and down every street in the city, and you should see my neighborhood – gardens in bloom everywhere.  It’s gorgeous.  I love it.

Unfortunately for me, spring in DC also brings epic amounts of pollen – obviously – and every year my body completely revolts.  I usually spend several weeks of the spring holed up indoors and even that isn’t enough to keep me from coming down with a miserable case of spring allergies.  In the worst years, I’m virtually unintelligable.  This year I thought I was getting off easy and I got cocky and went out for a run on Sunday morning.  I waited until the worst pollen time (5:00-10:00 a.m.) was over, but I was out the door at about 10:05 and apparently I didn’t wait long enough, because I am a mess now.  Yesterday I spent the entire day sneezing and rubbing my eyes.  Fortunately, my office is well acquainted with my allergy woes and they know I’m not contagious!  Still, by the end of the day I was a pretty unhappy girl and desperately in need of something soothing and nourishing.  I knew exactly what I wanted – green soup.  Between the leeks, potatoes and spinach, I enjoyed each and every nutrient.  Now, I’m not delusional – I know that green soup isn’t going to cure my allergies.  But it’s a nice way to celebrate the season while I stare wistfully at the gardens outside my window.  Here’s to a few days of low pollen counts…

Spring Green Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, cleaned
3 potatoes, large-diced
kosher salt
5 cups water
1 tablespoon Better Than Bouillon vegetable base
4 large handfuls baby spinach
freshly ground pepper to taste

  • In a large cast iron pot, heat olive oil over medium-high.  Chop leeks and add to oil.  Season with a pinch of kosher salt and stir to coat with oil.  Allow leeks to cook down for about 5 minutes.
  • Add potatoes and season with another good pinch of kosher salt.  Stir potatoes and leeks together.
  • Add water and Better Than Bouillon and bring to a boil.  Cook for 20-25 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender.
  • Add spinach and stir into soup until spinach is wilted down.  Blend soup in a high speed blender or in the pot with an immersion blender until it reaches the consistency desired.  Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.  Garnish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Chickpeas of the Sea

Since I renewed my commitment to eating vegetarian, I’ve been eating many more varied dishes – trying new recipes, inventing, experimenting with flavor combinations – but I haven’t had that urge to “makeover” old favorites into vegetarian-friendly entrees, for the most part.  There was a bit of experimenting with lentil-based “meat” loaf, which didn’t yield anything worth blogging about (yet) and I’ve been making the occasional Shepherdess Pie.  But I’m simply not really interested in turning meat dishes into vegan or vegetarian dishes.  I’m happy with the variety of foods I’m eating already, all unquestionably vegetarian.

So I was surprised even at myself when I suddenly had the urge to “makeover” tuna salad.  I have never been a big fan of canned tuna.  Sure, I liked raw tuna in sushi and tuna tartare, and even the occasional seared tuna (but I had to be in the mood) but the texture and fishiness of canned tuna salad never appealed to me.  Still, one day on a run I had a Eureka! moment – that tends to happen on runs – and I decided to make a mock tuna salad that could serve as a sandwich filling, dip, spread, or mix-in for a casserole.  And how to get that seafoody flavor without seafood?  Well, obviously, sea vegetable!  I’ve been adding sea vegetable to dishes when I want that briny ocean taste – why not use it to replicate tuna salad?  So I blended up some chickpeas, nori, tamari (for more umami) and lemon juice (for tang) and… well, I liked it better than any tuna salad I’ve ever had.  So on those blue moon occasions when I get a craving for a tuna melt, I now have a solution.  And what a delicious solution it is…

Chickpeas of the Sea

This makes a rather large batch, but it’s great stuff to have on hand.  It keeps very well (although hubby thinks it’s best on the first day).  I love to make it on Sunday and keep it in the fridge for mock tuna sandwiches… that is, if I can stop dipping carrot sticks in it long enough to make the sandwich!

2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons tamari
2-4 sheets nori
1/2 cup vegenaise (or mayonnaise for a non-vegan version)
1 carrot, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced

  • Tear nori sheets into large pieces (start with 2 – you can always add more if you want more briny flavor).  In food processor, combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tamari and nori.  Pulse until chickpeas are broken up into coarse crumbs and other ingredients are combined.
  • Scoop chickpea mixture into a large mixing bowl and add remaining ingredients.  Fold mixture together and remove to refrigerator.  Allow to set for 30 minutes, until flavors meld.

Source: Covered In Flour

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I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately.  Between the holidays and some work travel, I’ve been away far more than I’ve been home.  Traveling so much can be exciting, and I’m loving the opportunity to see new faces and new places and to work in a different environment.  (I do miss my friends at work, though!)  But one thing that I’ve realized is that I’m very wedded to my routine.  I like my familiar running trails and my fridge full of greenery.  Where I am now… well, it’s a city with lots of good qualities, but if I were to say the words “kale salad” they may look at me as if I’d grown another head.

Which is a shame.  Because this salad is not only healthy, it’s darn tasty as well.  I could eat kale salad every day of the week (and twice on Sundays!) but I rarely deviate from the classic combination of kale, avocado, olive oil, salt and lemon juice.  Sometimes I get a little crazy and sprinkle lime on instead.  Oooh, someone stop me!  So this time I wanted to try something different, something that still had that green, healthy flavor I love, something that felt like I was giving myself a little love before heading off on another grueling trip, but something a bit more creative as well.  Thus kale salad with sea vegetable was born.  The memory of this salad (which hubby is currently enjoying at home as I navigate hotel salad bars) is getting me through the next two weeks until I can have it again.  Now, if only I could find a nice running trail…

Kale Salad with Sea Vegetable

1 cup dried sea vegetable (dulse, armae, wakame or nori)
1 bunch curly kale
1 bunch Tuscan kale*
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt**
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
drizzle sesame or white truffle oil***
sprinkle white sesame seeds or Seaweed Gomasio

  • Place sea vegetable in a small bowl and cover with water.  Set aside to reconstitute.  (I used dulse but arame, wakame or nori would be good as well.  All are generally available in the Asian or natural foods sections of lage supermarkets, and in health food stores.)
  • Wash and dry kale leaves and tear them into large-ish bite sized pieces.  Add to mixing bowl; sprinkle on salt and drizzle olive oil and red wine vinegar.
  • With your fingers, massage kale until it has “wilted” down into a softer consistency.  Don’t be afraid to test bite pieces to find a texture that’s to your liking!
  • Drain off sea vegetable, but don’t be too enthusiastic about squeezing out all the water.  It’s okay if the sea vegetable is damp.  It lives in the water, after all!  Plus, there’s nutrients and minerals in that water – good stuff.  Add sea vegetable to kale mixture.  Drizzle over white truffle oil or sesame oil and toss well to combine.
  • Garnish with Gomasio or white sesame seeds just prior to serving.  Enjoy in good health!

*If you can’t find Tuscan kale in your supermarket, just substitute another bunch of regular curly kale.  Or, if you prefer, use two bunches of Tuscan kale!  The important thing is to keep the proportions right by using two bunches of kale – the variety of kale doesn’t matter as much.  Or cut the recipe in half.  Whatever blows your hair back!

**Start with 1 teaspoon and add more salt as needed if your kale is tough and doesn’t want to “wilt” down.  Be careful with adding salt though – this recipe can get very salty, very fast.  Err on the side of spending a couple of extra minutes massaging the kale before you add more salt.  Remember, once you add that salt, you’ve passed The Point Of No Return.  (Doesn’t that sound scary?  You have been warned.)

***I fully intended to use sesame oil in this recipe, to tie in with the sprinkle of Gomasio I was planning to finish the dish off with.  Being somewhat impatient, I didn’t read the bottle of oil before I grabbed it, and ended up drizzling on my precious white truffle oil.  As white truffle oil has the tendency to do, it made this dish FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC, so I put it in the recipe instead of lying to y’all and pretending I used sesame oil.  But sesame oil would be great in this as well.  Just remember, whether you use sesame oil or white truffle oil, go easy because it’s intense stuff.

Source: Covered In Flour

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Here ya go: a holiday gift from me to you.  This dish is the perfect – and I mean PERFECT – vegetarian entree for a holiday meal.  Hubs said it tasted like stuffing to him, and I can see where he got that from – the savory, roasty flavors are definitely reminiscient of stuffing, but there’s no lumps of soggy bread, which are a major turn-off for me, anyway.  This recipe starts with a base of slightly caramelized onions, so you know it’s going to be good.  The white beans add protein punch and bump this dish up from neglected side to full-on main course.  Add on top of that squash, chestnuts, thyme and bread crumbs and you’ve got the makings of a deliciously compassionate holiday feast.  Add some mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce and citrus-roasted brussels sprouts (oh yes, I went there), and I promise you won’t even miss the turkey.

Butternut Squash and Chestnut Casserole with White Beans

1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
1 15-ounce jar chestnuts, coarsely chopped
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper (eyeball to your preferred amount)
coarse bread crumbs (I like Ian’s brand, whole wheat, or homemade)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
additional olive oil for drizzling

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In a 9×13 inch casserole dish, toss the onions and olive oil until the onions are completely coated.  Bake for 20 minutes, until onions are beginning to turn golden and caramelized.
  • Meanwhile, cube the butternut squash into approximately 3/4 to 1 inch pieces and set aside.  Coarsely chop chestnuts and toss together with butternut squash.
  • When onions have baked for 20 minutes, remove from oven and add butternut squash and chestnuts, white beans, vegetable broth, thyme, salt and pepper.  Toss all ingredients together in the baking dish (careful, it’s hot!) until well combined.
  • Cover with a generous sprinkle of bread crumbs (in the picture above I had made my own, but I made another batch with Ian’s to bring to an office party.  Either way is good!  Or you could use croutons.) and nutritional yeast, if using.  Drizzle with olive oil and return to oven for 30-35 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Source: Adapted from Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

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Ohhhhh, yes please.  This is one of those dishes that you can make all year round, but it’s particularly satisfying in fall.  The creamy white bean and the caramelized onions and savory mushrooms come together to create an earthy, heavenly, mish-mosh of flavors and textures.  Paired with some whole-grain bread (or Ezekiel English muffins, as I did here ’cause I’m lazy), it’s a perfect dish to throw together and make you feel like life is worth living even on a rainy Monday.  I promise.  And you know I don’t make promises I can’t keep.

Rustic White Beans and Mushrooms

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large leek, sliced thin
1 package gourmet mix mushrooms (or shiitakes)
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Warm the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the chopped leeks and saute gently until soft.  Remove from pan and reserve.
  • In the same pan, saute the mushrooms until they are golden and caramelized, 10-12 minutes.  Keep them moving and add more olive oil if necessary (but only if necessary).
  • When the mushrooms are caramelized, add the leeks back and pour in the beans.  Mix well, season with the salt, pepper, and dried herbs, and warm the beans through.  Serve over whole grain bread or pasta.

Source: Adapted from Veganomicon, by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

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