Monday, October 20, 2014

Healthy Vegan Puree of Asparagus Soup

There really needs to be more fun and tasty asparagus recipes out there.  I feel like this vegetable is pretty underrated.  I love asapargus, raw or cooked.  I can understand why some may not prefer it raw, for it has a slight bitterness to it when not cooked.  But, that immediately goes away after it is steamed.
So, why is asparagus greatly underrated?  First of all, they are low in calories.  Just about 3 calories in each stalk.  It is an anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and is great for heart health and blood sugar regulation.  Not to mention, helps with digestive support and has a noteworthy amount of protein and fiber.


This recipe is awesome because it if so clean and light.  After a big bowl of it, you will still feel light and airy and guilt-free.  The addition of fresh herbs and spinach makes the soup a brilliant and vibrant green color.  And, the best part of the recipe is that all levels of cooks can easily make this.


Healthy Vegan Puree of Asparagus Soup 

Ingredients: 
2 lb bunch asparagus, dry ends trimmed
3 c vegetable broth
1 c original, unsweetened almond milk
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 handful parsley, chopped
1 c fresh spinach
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp vegan butter
1 tbsp evoo
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp nutmeg
s+p to taste
 
Directions:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Place asparagus in the top half of the steamer, cover and steam for about 5-10 minutes.  Time is dependent on the thickness of the asparagus.  You want them to be bright green and tender.  Remove for the pot and set aside.

In a saute pan, heat evoo on med-high heat, and saute garlic and onion for 3-5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Add in spinach and cook until wilted.  Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to your blender, add in the steamed asparagus, parsley and vegetable broth and puree until smooth.

In large pot, make a roux by heating butter and slowly stirring in flour.  Continue to stir for about 3 minutes or until browned.  Now slowly stir in almond milk.  Add in the contents that you blended and season with nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste.





Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Vegan Dijon-Coconut Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Gratin

 I love all things brussel sprouts.  And 'tis the season for them!  What I love even more is picking them at a farm.  I love how they grow on the stalks.  It just looks so cool and weird! 


Sadly enough the last time we visited a U Pick farm, which was last week, everything was already picked over.  It was a bummer.  Just sad little lonely brussel sprout stalks sitting naked in the field.  I think we only ended up picking a few peppers.  Not really worth the 45 minute drive.  But, deuce did have some fun having some good face to face time with a billy goat and some chickens.  That was well worth the trip!


I honestly can't say I have had a bad brussel sprout dish.  Unlike my last sprout recipe, Chinese Style Brussell sprouts with Exotic Mushrooms, this recipe is going to be more of a comfort dish.  It savory and rich, without the excess calories and fat.  So while it seems decadent and bad for you, it is in fact not at all!

Vegan Dijon-Coconut Brussel Sprout and Mushroom Gratin
 
 Ingredients (fills a 9x13 casserole dish)

2 lbs brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut into fourths
6-8 button mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 c canned light coconut milk
1 1/2 c unsweetened, original almond milk
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp dijon mustard
3 tbsp flour
3 tbsp vegan butter
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp evoo, divided
1/2 c seasoned panko crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.  In a pot, boil water and cook quartered brussel sprouts for 4-5 minutes.  Strain and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, heat 1 tbsp evoo and saute garlic and onions for about 3 minutes.  Add in mushroom and saute until mushrooms are soft, just a few additional minutes.  Stir in chopped tomatoes, turn off heat and set aside.

In another sauce pan, make your roux by heating vegan butter.  When the butter is hot, whisk in the flour.  Continue to sir until browned a bit.   Now gradually whisk in the coconut milk and almond milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.  Once brought to a boil, lower heat and simmer until thickens.  You want to stir frequently.  Add in nutritional yeast and dijon until everything is combined. 

Add your brussel sprout mixture to the sauce, mix thoroughly, then transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.
In a small bowl, toss together bread crumbs and 1 tbsp evoo, sprinkly over the top and bake for about 15-20 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vegan Baked Quinoa and Green Pea "Falafel" with Tahini Goddess Dressing

I have a dry eraser board attached to my refrigerator so I can list recipes to make for the week, or at least for the near future.  This is great for meal planning and grocery shopping planning.  I found this to be a great way for me to budget my shopping and to reduce waste.

I used to go to the grocery store and just grab what is in season and that looks good.  When I did that, I found that I had too much spoiled produce by the end of the week.  This is particularly true when buying too much leafy greens or herbs and not using them quickly enough.  Now I just buy ingredients that I know I need this week.  Saves a few bucks and minimizes food waste....works for me!

So, with all that said, this recipe idea has been on my board for far too long, and I have no idea what I was waiting for!  It is fairly simple and offers a great amount of protein due to the peas and quinoa.  I also like this because there are not many pea recipes out there aside from the obvious.  When thinking about this recipe, think about creating a falafel with nontraditional ingredients.

The sauce is your choice, but you cannot go wrong with the tahini goddess dressing!

Vegan Baked Quinoa and Green Pea "Falafel" with Tahini Goddess Dressing


for the Quinoa-Green Pea Falafel:
1 c quinoa
2 c vegetable broth
1 1/2 thawed peas
2 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp chickpea flour

Preheat oven to 400.
In a small sauce pan, bring the quinoa and broth to a boil, cover and then turn to low and simmer for about 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Quinoa should still have a very slight crunch to it when done.
In a food processor, combine 1/2 of the cooked quinoa and the remaining ingredients.  Blend for about 30 seconds.  Transfer contents to a bowl and mix in the remainder of the quinoa.  If your mixture seems too wet to form balls at this point, add in another tbsp or two of chickpea flour.  Note, it should still feel a bit wet, but firm enough to form a ball.
Take one heaping spoonful of the mixture and roll into ball.  Continue this until mixture is gone.  I believe I made about 9-10 balls.
Bake in over for 20 minutes, turning balls halfway through.  Remove from oven and serve immediately with your Tahini Goddess Dressing.

for the Tahini Goddess Dressing:
 1/2 c tahini
1/4 c water
3 chopped scallion
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1 tbsp fresh mint
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Adjust seasoning to taste.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vegan Jamaican Jerk Tofu with Coconut and Bean Rice

Yes, Chicago is up there as one of the best foodie cities in America.  I'd love to be able to hit up all the top restaurants here, but there are two main reasons why we do not:  One, I do not have deep enough pockets to afford a $500-$1000 dinner.  And secondly, it is hard to find many places with great, veggie options that are something different than an old salad.  I could only hope more and more vegan friendly restaurants will pop up in the next few years.


This is a fun recipe because the flavors are so unique and different from what I usually cook.  The Jamaican jerk sauce that I concocted is simply to die for!  It's tangy, sweet, a bit sour and a bit salty.  It's mouthwatering and probably drinkable.

The rice is a beautiful accompaniment.  It is creamy and has a nice, smooth texture to it due to the coconut milk.  I used 1/2 can of light coconut milk and 1/2 vegetable broth to cook the rice in.  The balance was perfect!

Vegan Jamaican Jerk Tofu with Coconut and Bean Rice
 

for the Jamaican Jerk Tofu:

1 package extra firm tofu, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces and drained thoroughly
3 green chiles (I used Anaheim chiles)
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1/2 tbsp allspice
1 tsp cayenne papper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp thyme

Preheat your home grill, George Foreman, or whatever your choice of grill is.  In a blender, combine all ingredients except for the tofu.  Blend until completely combined.  Adjust seasoning to taste. 

Before brushing on the sauce, make sure each piece of tofu has been pressed with paper towels to remove excess liquid.  Brush jerk sauce on all sides of each piece of tofu.  Place on the grill and grill each side for about 3-4 minutes.  Make sure you get those beautiful grill marks on them.  Remove and serve with coconut and bean rice!  Don't forget to save excess sauce for dipping!

for the Vegan Coconut and Bean Rice

1 c white rice or rice of choice
1 c light coconut milk
1 c vegetable broth
1/2 can black beans, rinsed 
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 tbsp evoo
salt to taste
2-3 scallions, chopped

Heat evoo in a medium saucepan and saute scallions and garlic for 2 minutes.  Add in rice and beans and continue to saute for a few more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in coconut milk and vegetable broth, bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes or until rice is done and liquid is absorbed.  Remove from heat, season to taste and serve!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vegan Mediterranean Couscous Stuffed Peppers with Vegan 3 Herbed Tzatziki

Like I mentioned before, I was a server at a Turkish restaurant in Madison all through my college years.  This is when I really fell in love with that cuisine.  Of course the hummus was to die for.  But what I loved about some of the dishes was the incorporation of sweet and savory in the main dishes.  For example, apricots played a big part in sauces used for a stuffed chicken breast.  Of course, I never tried the chicken, but clearly had to taste the sauce.  It was amazing!  Dried fruit was also used in a beautiful aromatic rice to go with entrees as well.

Sadly enough, this establishment is no longer there.  But, I hope I pay homage to those flavors that sang brilliantly in those dishes.

Remember there are 3 varieties of couscous:  Moroccan couscous, Israeli couscous and Lebanese couscous.  Here, we are using Moroccan couscous, which are tiny grains of semolina.  This type cooks quite quickly (about 10 minutes)!



 Because I love sauce, (and I mean I LOVE) sauce, I chose to accompany this vibrant stuffed pepper with a 3 herb vegan tzatziki sauce.  You can also make it in a more traditional manner, but I have so many herbs outside, I have to use them before the real cold weather comes.  So, if you are like me, use your mint, parsley and basil in this vegan yogurt-cucumber sauce.







Vegan Mediterranean Couscous Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients: (serves 2-3)
2 bell peppers, lids chopped and and seeds removed
1 c dry Moroccan couscous
2 c vegetable broth
10 halved roasted cherry tomatoes (or just fresh tomatoes)
1/2 c dried fruits (ie- apricots, prunes, apples)
1/4 c chopped artichoke hearts (not marinated)
1/4 c chopped Spanish green olives
1 handful of fresh parsely, chopped
3 tbsp chopped scallions
1 tbsp evoo
1 lemon juiced
s+p to taste
1 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven 400.  In a pot, bring vegetable broth to a boil, add in couscous, turn to low and simmer for just about 8-10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Transfer couscous to a mixing bowl, and add in all of the ingredients.  Mix well, season to taste and stuff the peppers.  Place in oven for about 45 minutes.  Serve with vegan tzatziki sauce.


for the vegan tzatziki:
1/2 c vegan unflavored and unsweetened yogurt
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tsp chopped basil
1 garlic clove minced

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt to taste.




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vegan Beet Raviolis with a Vegan Brown Butter Sage Sauce

I think I have been wanting to try this recipe of mine for about a year now.  And man, do I wish I would have made this a lot sooner.  Similar to my Sweet Pea Ravioli recipe, the raviolis are made with wonton wrappers that I cut out into circles.  I feel like using the wrappers make the raviolis so much lighter and you are really able to taste every element of the filling.
 Speaking of the filling...the mixture of the creamy homemade tofu ricotta and the pulsed earthy yet sweet beets with sauteed garlic and scallions is simply killer!  Beets are one of those root vegetables that are incredibly versatile.  You can really go any route with them....sweet, savory, sour....you name it. 

Granted this is a pretty hands one and technical recipe, but it sure pays off!  Make sure you have a good amount of time to execute the raviolis.  Remember it usually takes about an hour to bake the beet.  Although, you could always do this ahead of time! 

Luckily my herb garden is still thriving despite the cooler weather we have been having.  The parsely, mint and sage is out of control!  I feel like there are not too many recipes where you can use sage, but I knew a brown butter sage sauce would be an awesome pair with the ravioli.  I added a little bit of fresh lemon juice in the sauce, which really brightened the dish up!

Vegan Beet Raviolis with a Vegan Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Ingredients/Directions for the beet raviolis:

1 large beet
2 garlic cloves minced
2 scallions chopped
1-2 tbsp evoo
1 package of wontons (preferably the circular ones so that you do not have to cut them)

Preheat oven 400.  Lightly oil the beet, cover in aluminum foil and bake the beet for about 1 hour or until a knife goes smoothly through.  Let the beet cool in order to handle.  Put on plastic chef gloves, or just cover your hands with a plastic baggy and gently rub off the skin (this will keep your hands clear of the red dye!)

With your food processor, pulse the beets until completely shredded, but not pureed.  Add in vegan ricotta and continue to pulse until completely combine.  Season to taste and set aside.

Now set up your ravioli making station.  You will want to have a little bowl of water to "glue" the wontons together, and have a bunch of wrappers lined up for easy making.  Take about 1/2-2/3 tbsp of the filling and place in the center of one wonton.  Wet your fingers in the water and brush the outter layer of the wonton.  Do the same on the other wonton that you will be using to close the ravioli.  Now gently place the second wonton on the first and press down to close.  Pick up and make sure the ravioli is sealed on all sides.  Repeat until raviolis are gone or filling is gone.  

To boil, boil water and cook the raviolis for just 3-4 minutes.

Ingredients/Directions for the vegan brown butter sage sauce:

3-4 tbsp vegan butter
8 sage leaves
1/2 lemon juiced 
s+p

In a saute pan, heat vegan butter over medium heat and continue cooking until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in sage leaves and lemon juice and cook for an additional minute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve over those delicious beet raviolis!
 
 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Vegan Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup with Parsnip Chips and Chives

Holy cow this weather is flipping weird.  Yesterday was 80 degrees, then it literally dropped 20-30 degrees in about an hour.  This morning I woke up cocooning myself with the comforter, resisting the brisk chill and cold morning mist.  Oh wait, that's right, there was a chilly mist in the air all day.  Unfortunately this prevented me from my nice 4-5 mile walk back from physical therapy.
 
 Though, it did remind me that I had some beautiful parsnips in the refrigerator.  What a perfect day for a soul warming fall soup!  Amazingly enough, I still have some beautiful, hand picked Michigan apples from our little trip a few weeks ago.  Why not incorporate them in an easy, vegan soup?
 I love the combination of root vegetables and fruits in a soup.  They really balance each other out.  For some reason I favor fall root vegetables over any other root vegetable.  When I see parsnips, turnips and rutabaga, I instantaneously become happy.  Maybe it is because I think of my amazing mother-in-law's root vegetable gratin.  Not only is she the best mother-in-law one could ask for, but also has some killer recipes!

Vegan Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup with Parsnip Chips and Chives
 

Ingredients:
3 medium-large parsnips, cleaned and peeled
2 apples, cored and chopped
2 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves minced
 3 c vegetable broth
2 cup original and unsweetened almond milk, or nondairy milk of choice
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp nutmeg

for the garnish:
parsnip chips (with a mandolin, slice half of one parsnip and fry in boiling oil for about 2 min)
chives

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.  Chop your parsnips, toss with evoo and season with salt and pepper.  Bake in oven for about 45 minutes.  When done, remove from oven and side aside.
In a large pot, heat evoo on med-high and add in garlic, onions and potatoes.  Saute for about 5 minutes and add in apple.  Continue to saute for a few more minutes, add in parsnips, vegetable broth and almond milk.  Add in seasonings and bring to boil.  Then cover and turn to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.  Transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Adjust seasoning accodingly and serve with chives and parsnip chips.