Corn is amazing for many reasons. It’s incredibly sweet and delicious, it is easy to make, and it is super cheep during summer months while in season. Outside that window, fresh corn is still really affordable and you can enjoy it year round.
Corn requires minimal preparation, can be ready in no time and it’s naturally gluten-free. Moreover, if you can’t get fresh corn you can always youse frozen corn because it will work almost as good as fresh one.
Let me illustrate some of what I just said with a very simple corn side dish. I developed this recipe as a side for summer cook-outs and burgers (some of my favorite burgers that this corn goes really well with are Chickpea Burgers with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Walnut Meat – YUM!), but it can definitely be made year-round. Although you could steam your corn and then follow the steps below, for best results I recommend grilling. You can grill the corn on your outdoor grill, or using a grill pan – exact method does not matter. What matter are those lovely grill marks and getting some charring on the corn, which really adds a lot of flavor.
Other than getting those lovely grill marks, the rest of this recipe is super quick and easy. All you need to do is toss the chopped corn with couple of flavoring agents, lime juice for a bit of acidity, lime zest for a bit of crispness, some fresh cilantro for a bit of freshness, some fire roasted green chiles for some spiciness, and a bit of oil that helps all these flavors stick to the corn and each other better.
You can serve the corn immediately after tossing it with the rest of the ingredients, but I recommend that you stay patient and wait for 10-15 minutes for all the flavors to come together and infuse the corn. Then you can dig in!
Grilled Corn with Cilantro and Lime
What you’ll need:
4 ears of corn, grilled
1 lime, juice and zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fire roasted chile peppers (from the can)
¼ fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Salt, to taste (optional)
What you’ll do:
Grill the corn using an outdoor grill. If none is available, you can cook your corn in the microwave oven, then add grill marks using a grill pan, or go directly to the grill pan. Usually, it takes 3-5 minutes per side, and you do need to stay close and keep an eye on the corn so that it doesn’t burn. Let the corn cool just slightly, so that you can handle it, then chop each ear of the grilled corn into 4 pieces.
In a large bowl, combine the rest of ingredients (lime juice and zest, jalapeños, olive oil, and cilantro; you can also add salt to taste – I don’t use much salt, and I don’t think this corn needs any, but you can decide for yourself). Toss the corn with the mix and set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to mix and mingle. Serve with burgers, salads (like this Coleslaw), ribs, beans, or other goodies!
Let’s talk about umami. You know, that special kind of taste that tells you something is savory. Not bitter, not salty, not spicy, not sour, but simply and enjoyably savory.
What is behind umami?
We perceive the taste of our food thanks to different kinds of taste receptors, very specialized types of proteins decorating our tongue cells. These receptors recognize molecules in our food, relay what’s in our mouths to the brain, and the result is our perception of different tastes. Although salty, sour, sweet and bitter have been recognized for a very long time (thousands of years), umami has been known for just over a century, and known to western cultures and science for less than two decades being originally discovered by a Japanese scientist, Kikunae Ikeda. The main thing behind umami is glutamate, an amino acid that occurs quite naturally in many food sources.
What are vegan sources of umami?
Although naturally occurring and therefore easily found on many plates, the umami flavors are usually tightly associated with meat. So, it is critical for anyone who is embarking on a vegan culinary voyage to learn about plant-based sources of umami. Here, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, toasted nuts, and soy sauce reign supreme. This means that including one or all of these ingredients into your next savory concoction is a must and the recipe below fully embraces this suggestion!!!
Maximizing vegan umami flavors
Some of my favorite sources of savory deliciousness are portobello mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. I use these ingredients in many different ways, either by themselves, or when building things like burgers. In the recipe below, large portobello mushrooms become a perfect vessel for a stuffing made of red quinoa, sun dried tomatoes and sunflower seeds. The result is a hearty dinner fare, that when paired with a light salad goes a long way. And did I mention how healthy this food is? With mushrooms, quinoa and seeds, you really can’t go wrong!
Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms with Red Quinoa, Sunflower Seeds, and Sun Dried Tomatoes
What you’ll need:
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed
1/2 cup red quinoa
3/4 to 1 cup water
2-3 scallions, trimmed
3 oz. sun dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, raw and unsalted, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
What you’ll do:
Place 3/4 cup of water into a small pot and bring to boil. Add quinoa, stir well, bring back to boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Let quinoa cook for 20 minutes or so. Check for doneness, and add more water, 1/8 cup at a time, letting quinoa soak it up as it simmers. This amount of quinoa should not require more than 1 cup of water and more than 30 minutes of simmering. Let quinoa cool as you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Turn your oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the portobello caps, their opening facing down. Broil the mushrooms for 5 minutes, then turn them over and broil for another 3 minutes. By this time, portobello mushrooms should be cooked through. Invert the caps to remove excess liquid, then let the mushrooms cool while you finish making the stuffing.
While mushrooms are broiling, place a large pan over the medium high heat. Add the oil, and finely sliced scallions. When slicing the scallions trim the ends then use both green and white parts.
Let scallions brown for 1-2 minutes then add the finely sliced sun dried tomatoes and dried basil. Mix well and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
Add sunflower seeds that have been roughly chopped and mix well. Let the seeds toast for 2 minutes or so with constant stirring.
Add quinoa, and turn the heat off. Once the heat is off, mix in the parsley and make sure everything is well combined.
Place the portobello mushrooms in a deeper baking dish, spoon the stuffing in, then place the mushrooms back under the broiler to char the tops. This will take 1 minute or so – and you need to pay attention here to prevent burning! If you end up with more staffing than you can fit into your mushrooms, you can serve it separately as a side dish or you can use it as a base for your stuffed mushrooms.
Enjoy these stuffed mushrooms hot, with a side salad and perhaps a slice of fresh bread!
Dolmas, stuffed grape leaves, are these delicious savory morsels that you can often find at salad bars, as well as many Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants.
They are one of my favorite appetizers, and although I enjoy them enormously I have not been brave enough to actually make them myself. But, last time I was browsing through my local Indian store I noticed a jar of grape leaves and went for it!
Believe it or not, dolmas are not all that hard to make. They do take time, and lots of hands-on but you end up with a huge batch that can serve a large party so it’s definitely worth the effort. Making dolmas at home will allow you to customize the recipe – in my case that meant less oil, more lemon juice, and adding some pine nuts to diversify the texture.
These dolmas are phenomenal, and will impress your guests to no end! You can eat them warm, you can eat them cold, you can serve them with some hummus or with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. You can make them into a sandwich with some pita bread or enjoy in your salad the next day if you happen to have leftovers.
If you want to learn the basic “stuffing the leaves” technique, please check my Stuffed Cabbage Rolls post for step-by-step guide!
Stuffed Grape Leaves
What you’ll need:
1 cup rice, medium grain
1 3/4 cup water
6 scallions, finely chopped (green and white parts)
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice
1 large jar of grape leaves (2 lbs (1 kg) or similar)
2 tablespoons olive oil
What you’ll do:
Combine medium grain rice with water in a large pot and place over the medium high heat. Bring to boil then turn the heat down to simmer. Cook the rice until fully cooked which takes 15 to 20 minutes. The rice should be soft and sticky.
When the rice is ready, place a large frying pan (or similar) over the medium heat, add oil, scallions, garlic and pine nuts, and let brown for 1-2 minutes. The pine nuts should be well toasted but not burned so keep mixing and keep your eye on the pan.
Add the rice, parsley and mint, and mix well. Let everything cook for another 5 minutes or so.
Turn the heat off, and add lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix everything together and let cool for 1-2 hours.
Open the jar of grape leaves and gently unfold each of the stacks. These will be tightly packed, and you will need to gently peel each grape leaf off. Keep all the leaves, big, small, regular, wacky, ripped and whole because you will use the best ones to make dolmas and the not so great ones to line the pan and create a cozy cooking environment for your stuffed grape leaves.
Use the not so great leaves to completely cover the bottom os a large pot (like a Dutch oven) with grape leaves. I recommend doubling the leaves, so that you have a nice, thick layer at the bottom.
Take bigger leaves, and stuff them. This is actually not that hard – place a leaf on a flat surface and put a tablespoon of stuffing at the bottom of the leaf, where the stem used to be. Use your fingers to form the stuffing into a tight ball – this will help hold everything together. Put the stuffed grape leaf into the pot and continue rolling the dolmas until you run out of the stuffing. If you need to make multiple layers of dolmas in your pot, remember to cover each layer with lots of grape leaves.
Turn the heat to medium high, and simmer dolmas for about 15-20 minutes. Serve cool, at room temperature, and drizzle with some olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice just before serving. Enjoy!
It’s early July, and here in New England (which is, for those of you who hail from across the globe, a name for the Northeastern-most part of the United States that includes six states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont) the farm activities are in full swing. The greater Boston area is brimming with farms of different size and produce selection. For example, we went cherry picking on July 4th, and ended up with an amazing selection of cherries. We ate a lot, shared some with neighbors, and washed, pitted and froze the rest. In this way, the frozen cherries are ready for smoothies, sauces or pies later in the year.
If you are skeptical about beets, don’t be – they are versatile! Yes, you may think that I am saying that because I an Eastern European and there is a bit of a beet culture on the Balkans, but beets really can work in many different ways. In addition to the two recipes I shared last week, beets can be made into a hummus (yummy), used as a salad, sandwich or a veggie burger topping, and also made into tasty burgers (see here, and here for some great beet burger recipes to try). And they are an essential, as in not-to-be-skipped-under-any-circumstance, ingredient for fabulous BBQ ribs, either those made with wheat gluten or gluten-free.
So, how about beet fritters?
And this brings us to these fritters. Without a doubt, vegetable, and in some cases fruit, fritters are ubiquitous. Every cuisine has a recipe or two that fall into this category and take advantage of ingredients in season, often times potatoes, zucchini, squash, carrots, a grater, a bit of flour and usually some eggs, to make a quick meal. So, how about beet fritters? And how about vegan and gluten-free? Well, the recipe here answers these question in affirmative.
Chia seeds and flaxseed meal as binding agents
Grated beets, carrots and the apple make the body of these fritters. The easiest way to grate them is using a large grating attachment on your food processors, although, of course, grating by hand will work too! You don’t need to cooked the beets first, but do peel and wash them, as well as the carrots – apple is the only ingredient that does not require peeling. Just before you start grating you should start soaking your flaxseed meal by combining flaxseed meal with hot water in 1 to 3 ratio. Because the grated fruits and veggies have high moisture content, they do need extra binding agents and that’s why I recommend using quite a bit of flaxseed meal as well as chia seeds. Together, flaxseed meal and chia seeds work together to created fritters that hold their shape well without any eggs or flour.
Don’t forget the spices
I recommend using lime juice and zest, as well as freshly grated ginger and finely chopped fresh cilantro to enhance the flavors. The result are light fritters with interesting texture and
Beets, Carrots and Apple Latkes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Extra lime slices, coarsely ground black pepper and/or apple sauce for serving
What you’ll do:
Place the flaxseed meal and hot water into a bowl and mix well. Let the “flax egg” rest for at least 10 minutes. The final result will be a very gooey mix that will work together with chia seeds to bind the fritters together.
While the “flax egg” is resting, grate beets, carrots and an apple by hand or using a food processor equipped with a grating attachment, then transfer into a large mixing bowl. Add all the rest of ingredients, including the “flax egg”, mix well and let stand for 20-30 minutes. This resting time is needed for chia seeds to soak the extra liquid released by the grated beets, carrots and apple, and transform into a gel-like substance.
Place a large pan over high heat and let it get nice and hot. Add oil or some cooking spray – if you do have a great non-stick pan you can omit the oil – and place small firm patties in. To form a patty, take about 1/4 cup worth of your mix, and using your hands form a 1/2 inch thick patty. Brown over high heat for 2 minutes then lower the heat down to medium and continue browning for 3 more minutes.
Flip the patties over and brown on the other side for 3-4 minutes.
Serve warm as a side dish, or even as an alternative to breakfast pancakes. These fritters go well with yogurt, as well as maple sauce, and I bet they would be delicious cold as well!
You are probably thinking to yourself “Baked Jalapeño Tapioca Pearl Fritters!? What on Earth is that? And why would anyone want to try it?”. Well, I can’t blame you for feeling that way. I would not have made these ever has it not been for a huge kitchen mistake. What I wanted to do was make a batch of Sabudana Khichdi, but my mind was on autopilot and instead of using cold water, I soaked the tapioca pearls in hot water. Unfortunately, this resulted in a pile of messy and sticky tapioca pearls, definitely not fit for Sabudana Khichdi.
It seemed such a waste to just dump everything out, so I threw in some roasted jalapeño peppers, roasted green chilis, coarse corn meal and some nutritional yeast, with a dash of oregano and garlic, and created little fritters. These went into the oven – no deep frying in my house – and came out fragrant, crunchy and delicious.
They had quite a bit of heat and punch, so I paired them with a yogurt sauce to take the edge off. If you prefer less heat in your food, dial back on the amount of jalapeños you use, or just use more yogurt sauce which has a gentle, soothing effect on the overheated taste buds. Enjoy with the side of a salad for a light meal, or serve as an appetizer with a punch.
Oven-fried Jalapeño Tapioca Pearl Fritters with Yogurt Sauce
What you’ll need:
2 cups tapioca pearls
4 cups hot water
3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 can chilies
1 can jalapeño
1 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoon garlic
1 cup coarse corn meal
1 cup almond or cashew yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
What you’ll do:
Start by soaking tapioca pearls in hot water for 2-3 hours. The pearls should absorb all the water and be very sticky.
Add all the rest of the ingredients except yogurt, cilantro and lime juice and mix everything well together.
Using your hands, form tapioca pearl balls that are about 2 in (4-5 cm) in diameter and arrange them on a baking sheet lined up with parchment paper. Spray the fritters with some cooking spray and place in the oven that has been preheated to 350 F (175 F). Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the fritters get that nice golden-brown look.
Let the fritters cool before serving, and while they are cooling whisk together the yogurt sauce by mixing yogurt, cilantro and lime juice together. Serve drizzelded over the fritters or as a dipping sauce.
In Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia, where I grew up, there is only one type of pancakes people make – palačinke. They are huge in Central Europe and on the Balkans, and if you are wondering how to pronanounce their name before you munch on them, you would pronounce “č” the same way you do the digraph “ch”. They are thin, they roll and fold easily, they can handle any type of topping, and they are super easy to make. They are also pretty much the same thing as crêpes, so I am sticking with that better known name for the rest of the post. It’s probably one of the first recipes my mom taught me, and knowing how to make crêpes was a bit of a teenage rite of passage for my friends and me. If you knew how to make them you were definitely a part of the in-crowd!!!
And while crêpes are considered very much a French thing (and now you probably appreciate that they are also huge on the Balkans), scallion (or green onion) pancakes hail from a totally different culture – they are a staple of Chinese cooking. Some of the Scallion Pancake recipes use chicken fat (!), but the one by Ming Tsai, a TV chef known for his East-West fusion cuisine, is vegan-friendly, and you may want to give it a try. But, these pancakes do require kneading, and a bit more hands on than I am prepared to do.
So, channeling my inner Ming Tsai and his East-meets-West fusion style, I now give you Scallion Crêpes with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Ginger Dipping Sauce. The crêpes take about an hour to make, from start to finish, and the sauce comes together in five minutes or so.
If you have never made crêpes before, relax – they don’t take much time or much effort. All you need is a large bowl and a large whisk, or a large blender. Your goal is to mix wet and dry ingredients until a smooth and very runny batter forms. Crêpes come out best when you use a large frying pan with a very flat bottom, when you keep your pan hot, but not too hot, and when you drizzle a drop or two of fresh oil before pouring in a new batch of batter in. If you have a really fantastic non-stick pan, you may be able to skip the oil but crêpes can be sticky, so proceed with caution.
One of my mom’s tricks is to use a teaspoon of oil and a really hot pan for the first crêpe. That crêpe is too oily and is usually discarded, but cooking it seasons the pan so that you only a drop or two of oil for the rest of the crêpes that should slide right out there when done.
There’s a bit of technique to flipping the crêpes over. First of all, you will need to figure out how much batter you need to pour in to make a thin, yet not too flimsy crêpe. For a regular size frying pan (8 in; 20 cm) I’d say start with 3/4 cup of batter. Pour the batter in the middle of the pan and then move your pan around quickly to help the batter spread around all the way to the edges, making one smooth, thin layer.
Second thing that you will need to know is when to flip, and the answer to that is when the uncooked side starts to look dry, which should not take more than couple of minutes. Once you see that it’s time to take hold of the pan’s handle and give it a shake. If everything is working according to the plan your crêpe should be sliding around the pan freely. If not, you will need to use a thin spatula to slide it under the crêpe and ensure all the sticking points are unstuck. The best spatulas to use for this are the metal ones you would normally use to frost a cake.
With your crêpe’s surface looking dry and your crêpe moving freely around the pan you are ready to flip. I flip my crêpes either by tossing them in the air – that’s my signature move and a crowd pleaser, and it took quite a few mistakes to perfect – or by using my fingers. I grab the edge of a pancake with both hands and flip it over, taking good care not to touch the pan. This only works if the edges of your crêpe are curling up and away from the sides of the frying pan.
Now that you know what I typically do, let me tell you what I think you should do. The best thing to try first is to use a thin, long and wide spatula that can go under the crêpe and in one swift move flip the crêpe over.
Once the epic flipping of the crêpe has been accomplished the crêpe will need only a minute to finish cooking on the other side. Normally, you would add a spread or a filling just after you slide the crêpe out while it’s still hot. In this case I actually don’t think the spread is needed as all the scallions make the flavor pretty rich to begin with. Add to that the dipping sauce full of soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, squeez of lime, and freshly grated ginger – mmmmm… – and you’ll get plenty of flavor.
Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce
What you’ll need:
For the Crêpes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon corn starch
1 3/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)
1 cup almond milk, plain and unsweetened
1 cup scallions (spring onions), white and green parts, chopped
Oil for cooking
For the Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; skip if you don’t enjoy spicy food)
What you’ll do:
Place all the crêpes’ ingredients except scallions in a blender and mix well. You can also mix everything up with a regular mixer or by hand. The resulting batter should be smooth and clumps-free.
Add the chopped scallions, mix them in and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
While the batter is resting, mix together the dipping sauce. For best results use fresh ingredients, and toast the sesame seeds yourself – they need only 2-3 minutes in a toaster oven or in a frying pan on the stove top. Cool the seeds a bit before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a large frying pan with a flat bottom until hot. Add a teaspoon of oil and 3/4 cup of batter. Spread the batter around until it covers the entire surface of the pan.
Lower the heat to medium to medium high, and cook until the upper side starts to look dry. Flip the crêpe and continue cooking on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
Slide the crêpe out, fold twice, making a sort of triangle, and keep the crêpes warm either by covering them, or by putting them in a warm oven.
When all the crêpes are done, arrange them on a platter and enjoy with the dipping sauce (or without!).
I was raised eating polenta with milk and sugar for breakfast. As I grew up and started experimenting with my food, I would add sour cream and even ajvar, the roasted red pepper and eggplant spread many associated with Bulgaria and the South East Balkans. But even with these add-ons, polenta remained a breakfast food.
So, I was quite surprised to discover that fancy Italian restaurants include polenta on their dinner menus. Of course I had to try it, and I liked it! I actually never met a polenta I did not like. And as a cook it’s something that you can whip together in minutes!
Polenta is basically boiled coarse corn meal, so it is in the same food family as grits. And, practically speaking it is as easy as it sounds – you bring a pot of water to boil and you add some corn meal to it while stirring constantly and furiously to prevent clumping. You let the pot boil for five minutes with constant stirring and the polenta is done.
The recipe here is two steps removed from the basic polenta. First, after you make the polenta according to the instructions on the box, you will need to pour it into a deep baking dish which is either lined with some parchment paper or well sprayed with the cooking spray. Spread the polenta into one even and smooth layer and let it set for at least an hour.
Once the polenta has set and hardened you will be able to slide it out of the dish and onto the cutting board. Slice polenta into 1 x 2 in (2.5 x 5 cm) sticks and arrange them on a baking sheet. Spray the tops with a cooking spray.
From here you can take your polenta in any direction you like. You can add fresh or dry spices, nutritional yeast, small bits of cheese or vegan butter that melt well, or sprinkle sugar and cinnamon if you want to make the baked polenta sticks into a dessert. Here, I decided to go two ways and top one set of polenta sticks with some cumin powder, dry basil and oregano. The second batch I spiced up a bit with freshly ground black pepper as well as smokey red pepper flakes. The topped polenta stick are then baked until their surface is nicely browned.
I served the Baked Polenta Sticks with vegan bolognese sauce but you can eat them as is, or serve them with a wide range of dishes. The flavor of polenta sticks is mild, slightly nutty, and depends on the spice combination you used. In general, Baked Polenta Sticks are great with any dish you would serve with corn bread, like chili, Jackfruit Barbacoa, or Bean and Leek Soup. They can also be used as an appetizer, served along side simple marinara dipping sauce and some olives.
Baked Polenta Sticks
What you’ll need:
2 cups polenta (or corn meal)
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust salt to taste)
Crushed red pepper flakes
(Onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, freshly ground black pepper, lemon zest,… quite a few toppings will work so feel free to experiment)
What you’ll do:
In a large pot, bring water to boil.
Add the salt and polenta to the boiling water while stirring rapidly to prevent clumps from forming. Decrease the heat to medium/medium low, and keep stirring the polenta for about 5 minutes.
Pour the polenta out into a baking dish that you previously sprayed with cooking spray. I recommend using 9 x 13 in (22 x 33 cm) dish for this amount of polenta – this will give you 1/2 in (1 cm or so) thick sticks – but you can use any other flat bottom container you have on hand. Just note that the thickness of the sticks will vary depending on what you use.
Let the polenta cool and set for at least an hour. The thicker your polenta layer, the longer it will take.
Slide the polenta slab out onto a cutting board. Cut into sticks of regular size.
Arrange your polenta sticks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do leave some space between the stick so they can bake evenly, which means you may need to use two baking sheets or bake in two batches.
Spray the top with some cooking spray and sprinkle the toppings/spices of your choice liberally.
Place into the oven that was preheated to 400 F (205 C). Bake for 15 minutes or until the sticks are golden brown.
Serve as a side dish with a soup, or as an appetizer with marinara sauce, or simply munch on these any time. They are best served fresh from the proven, but couple of minutes in a toaster oven will help the next day!
Who said salads have to be green? Or soaked in heavy dressing? Salads come in many different shapes and forms, and this is my contribution to the pantheons of salads – a mix of sliced radishes, shredded carrots and apples, toasted walnuts and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I used lemon zest and some cracked black pepper for garnish, and that’s that. With a little help from a food processor with couple of different blades everything came together in less than ten minutes!
There isn’t much more to this Salad story. Perhaps a slice of hearty bread, some of the lovely Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese, and you’re done. This salad is so fragrant, full of colors, different shapes and textures with a nice crunch that it is absolutely fit for any winter holiday table. Enjoy!!!
Radish Salad with Apples, Carrots and Toasted Walnuts
What you’ll need (for 2-4 servings)
1 bunch red radishes (7-8 large ones), washed
1 Granny Smith or another tart apple, washed
4 carrots, washed and peeled
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or to taste)
What you’ll do:
Wash the radishes and slice them into thin discs. You can do this by hand by I recommend using a food processor if it has a slicing blade. My food processor has an adjustable slicing blade and I dialed the thickness way down.
Without taking the sliced radishes out, replace the slicing blade with the fine grating blade and grate the carrots.
Using a coarser grating blade, grate the apple. Transfer everything into a large mixing bowl.
Add the juice of one lemon, lemon zest, cracked black pepper, and toasted walnuts and toss to combine.
Serve immediately with a slice of hearty bread, and a side of cheese as a light lunch, a salad course, or as a part of a more elaborate appetizer spread.
If you think you can’t live without the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the roasted turkey, mashed potatoes full of butter, the stuffing made with rich sausage, gravy made from turkey fat, sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, corn bread with cheese, pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream, and so on and so forth, let me reassure you – you can give this all up, and replace it with an amazing and creative plant-based feast that celebrates the season and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest, our friends and families, and our beautiful and extraordinary planet.
I put together this menu as a testament that food can be colorful, flavorful, aromatic, and delicious without major time and money investment. This entire menu will cost you far less than the regular Thanksgiving feast, and instead of leaving you tired and sluggish, it will leave you filling energized and elevated… and ready for whatever Black Friday may bring!
Joking aside, this menu is meant for entertaining and for making a huge impression. As any well-structure feast, my Thanksgiving offerings begin with appetizers. And since the meal is supposed to go on for an hour or more, and includes two dessert options, I am going light with the appetizer spread. My tray includes couple of different types of olives, Roasted Beets Hummus, Baked Almond Feta Cheese, and pita chips. You can make the pita chips by slicing some pita bread into wedges, spraying them with some oil or cooking spray and letting them toast for couple of minutes until golden-brown. Or you can get them at a supermarket, like I did on this occasion.
Baked Almond Feta, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Do remind your guests to take it easy with the appetizers, because what’s coming next is the most amazing soup ever, the Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup that owes it’s creaminess entirely to puréed cauliflower. The soup is white with slight gold overtones, which in my view frames the season perfectly. Plus corn and peas give this soup some substance and fresh thyme sets the stage for herbs to come.
Main course is a real harvest celebration, with fireworks of flavors and all the trimmings working together to feed the bodies and the souls. The main dish is a lovely Harvest Roast with cubed sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips, apples and squash, lightly oiled and flavored with herbs of the season. Complementing the Harvest Roast is the Chesnut and Mushroom Stuffing (recipe below). Add to that a protein rich Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios and you have your self an amazing feast!
Last but not the least, the meal ends with a glass of Fizzy Cranberry Mocktail, and two desserts that pay homage to the traditionally served pies, pumpkin and apple. The desserts I feature are Pumpkin Truffles, inspired by the traditional pumpkin pie recipe and spices that go into it, and Pecan Apple Baklava with Orange Maple Syrup, which combines the best of pecan and apple pies into one ultra scrumptious dessert.
Pecan Apple Baklava, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Have a thankful, wonderful, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving feast!!!
Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing
What you’ll need:
1 yellow onion, finely diced
6 stalks celery, finely diced
2 Granny Smith (or another variety of tart) apples, diced
10 oz. (285 g) mushrooms, finely chopped (white, oyster, shiitake, baby bella – any combination of these will work)
10 oz. (285 g) chestnuts, boiled and chopped
4-6 slices of hearty sourdough bread (depending on the size of the slices)
Fresh sage, 4 leaves, chopped
Fresh thyme, 8 springs, pulled
Fresh rosemary, 2 springs, whole
What you’ll do:
One day prior to making the stuffing cut the bread into medium sized cubes, and leave them uncovered to dry. If you forget to do this a day ahead, don’t worry – you can cube the bread and put it in the oven to roast/toast. 10 minutes at 350 F (175 C) should be enough.
Next day, place a large skillet over the medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, celery and apple. Mix well and let it sauté with occasional stirring for 15 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and two whole springs of rosemary (no need to chop, you’ll pull them out at the end), and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes.
Add the chopped chestnuts, mix well to incorporate, and cook for another 10 minutes.
Add chopped sage and thyme, mix in the bread cubes, and once everything is incorporated well transfer the stuffing to a large baking dish.
Cover the stuffing with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 F (175 C), then remove the foil, bring the temperature to 400 F (190 C) and bake for another 10 minutes.
Let the stuffing cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. The leftover stuffing, if you have any, can be an easy lunch on its own!!!
From time to time it’s good to do things just for fun, with no hidden agendas or pretense of deeper meaning attached. This recipe is my example of doing something just for fun and just because.
Few months ago I acquired a spiralizer, one of those machines you hook your vegetables or fruit to and get long, lovely and elegant noodles of various width. I’ve been using it to make great zucchini noodles, and I love it! But, there’s a limit to how much zucchini noodles a person can eat and still remain excited about seeing them on the plate, so I’ve been trying to pace myself and find other things to spiralize. I tried apples – that worked! I tried sweet potatoes and beets – ditto! I tried jicama – thumbs down, and the same goes for celeriac.
One vegetable that did work – meaning it produced a pile of lovely noodles – were baking (Russet) potatoes. So, I decided to have a bit of fun with them and bake them into little piles of potato yarn which we can call Spiralized Oven Fries. All you need to make this recipe happen is a muffin pan, some seasoning of your choice, and a hot oven. What you’ll get is a fun take on oven fries – the fries that look like spaghetti. And that is exactly what I said this post is all about – pure fun!
Spiralized Oven Fries
What you’ll need:
4 medium baking potatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground crushed red pepper flakes
Cooking spray, or olive oil
What you’ll do:
Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
Wash the potatoes well, and pat them dry.
Spiralize the potatoes without peeling using a fine gauge spiralizer, the same you would use for making zucchini spaghetti.
Season the potato “noodles” with any seasoning you like. I suggested freshly ground black pepper and ground crushed red pepper flakes, making this quite spicy, but you can use any seasoning you like. Let stand for couple of minutes.
Oil the muffin pan with cooking spray or oil.
Take a handful of potato noodles and gently place them into the individual muffin holes. Don’t press them too hard – let the noodles fall where they may, more or less, and try to arrange them so they fit neatly into the space.
Place the muffin pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes or so, until the tops start to brown. You don’t want them to burn but a bit of browning is nice.
Take the fries out and let them cool for a bit. Then using a fork gently lift them out and plate them. The sort of “muffins” are not really held together by anything so they will fall apart if you are not careful. But if you are you will end up with a serving of fried that had never looked funkier. And that’s worth it!
The path to fabulous vegan fresh mozzarella is long and slippery- meaning that it will take you about two to three days to have ready to eat batch of cheese on your hands, and there are few places along the way where a little mistake can derail your cheese making process. Having said that, I found Jules’s recipe to be clear and helpful, and the final result AMAZING!
I made only some minor adjustments to the recipe, as I used cashew yogurt for fermentation stage of the mozzarella, and agar powder and tapioca starch to firm it up – Jules recommends Kappa carrageenan powder and tapioca flour (which I think is the same thing as tapioca starch but it’s worth mentioning as a point of difference)!
The process starts, as many vegan cheeses do, by soaking some nuts. I usually cover the nuts, in this case cashews, with water and leave them in the fridge overnight. The next step for this cheese is blending the well soaked cashews, that have been drained and rinsed, with some almond milk or water until nice and smooth – I used almond milk.
Then, you add yogurt – here I used an amazing Cashew Yogurt by Forager – cover with cheese cloth and leave on the kitchen counter for a day or so. Make sure that your yogurt contains live cultures as you want the bacteria to start the process of fermentation and acidification, yielding a nice, subtly tangy flavor.
The penultimate step is adding the thickener to the cheese mix, cooking it until it starts to thicken to a consistency of very thick oatmeal, porridge or polenta.
While the cheese was cooking, with frequent stirring, I made the brine. I used tap water and ice cubes, plus a tablespoon of plain kitchen salt since that’s what I had handy, and mixed it all until salt was fully dissolved.
Once the cheese was cooked, I used my measuring spoon (tablespoon size) to measure out cheese balls, formed a bit with hand – watch out here as it may be hot, so you can form the balls using two spoons at the same time. Dump the balls into ice/water/salt mixture, cover with cheese cloth and leave in the fridge overnight. Jules recommends at least 4 hours, so I just left my fresh mozzarella cheese balls to rest until the next day.
Waiting wasn’t easy but it was worth it!!! I got some fresh baguette, fresh basil, a ripe tomato, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and my homemade vegan fresh mozzarella, and made myself a phenomenal sandwich for lunch.
I transferred the fresh mozzarella with the brine and all into a container with a tight lid, and stored it in the refrigerator. It lasted for about one week, at which point it was all gone!!! I will be making some more soon, but next one from Jules’s book I want to try is an almond-based baked feta!!!
Since this post is all about another person’s recipe, I am not sharing the notes, but encourage you to go visit Jules’s site, and get her book or better still borrow it from your local public library, which is what I did. I am happy to share what my Caprese Salad in a Sandwich looked like – it’s a real feast for your eyes!!!
If you have not done so already, you should definitely try tempeh. I’ve been hearing about it for some time now, and seeing several different brands and varieties right next to the tofu that I usually get but I only got the first batch of tempeh just the other day. I bought several different varieties to try them out and spent few days reading about what’s tempeh good for and how to best cook with it. Tempeh is related to tofu because both are soy based. But, in terms of flavor and texture (and as far as I can tell in terms of how you actually make the two, based on what Wikipedia says), tofu and tempeh are quite different. Tempeh is firm, much firmer than the firmest tofu, and does not come in liquid. It is actually fermented soy beans mixed with rice [edited after reading comment from Mary S below – thanks Mary S, it’s good to get the facts all squared away. I am still a bit confused since the ingredients’ list of the tempeh I used did include rice; at the end of the day my confusion does not matter change the fact that the food was delicious], so although it is dry, it does feel sticky to touch and just a bit slimy. FYI: I am not saying this to freak you out, rather to forewarn you so that you are not as surprised when you start handling it as I was – I thought my tempeh has gone bad and wanted to throw it out! But, I double-checked the date on the bag, regained my cool and went for it.
I decided to start simple and build from there, so this Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh is more or less my starting point. The brand of tempeh I got is Lightlife and the two varieties I started with are their Organic Garden Veggie and Organic Soy Tempeh. Each package is half a pound (about 250 g), and the block of tempeh comes in a vacuumed-sealed package, that’s within a sealed plastic bag, so there are two bags to remove! I used both blocks at the same time, since one just did not seem enough to make for the end of the week Friday dinner.
The first thing I did was to fire up the grill. I have a gas grill and it takes it about ten to fifteen minutes to get to be sizzling hot, with burners going at full blast and the lid down. That was just enough time for me to prep the tempeh and the glaze. For tempeh, I placed the pieces into a pan large enough to keep the pieces flat, covered with water, brought to boil and boiled for four to five minutes per side – I did flip the pieces over once since the pan I was using was shallow and the water did not fully cover the tempeh, so if your tempeh is fully covered you will not need to do the flip! After about ten minutes I took the tempeh out, pat dried the pieces, and left them uncovered on some paper towels.
While the tempeh was boiling and the grill was heating up, I mixed together a simple glaze with some soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white miso glaze and vegetable oil. I spread the glaze over the tempeh pieces just before placing them on the grill the glazed side down. Then I glazed the top and let it grill for about five to six minutes. By that time the grill marks will be perfect, and the pieces ready to be flipped. I did reglaze both sides again and flipped again, so that at the end each side got two layers of glaze and about eight to ten minutes of grilling, so in total the grilling bit took less than twenty minutes. If you are in a rush, you can definitely skip the reglazing, but if you are outside hanging around the grill with friends and family and enjoying the lovely summer evening, then why not give tempeh extra love, glaze and grill time?
Let grilled tempeh rest for just a second, then slice and serve. You can serve it in a hamburger or a hot dog bun with the usual trimmings, but note that condiments, like mustard and ketchup, are going to overpower the flavor of the grilled tempeh. So, I recommend serving tempeh with a side of coleslaw and baked, or barbecue beans, which is how I had mine. Add to that a glass of cold beverage of choice, and what can be better?
Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh
What you’ll need:
2 8 oz (227 g) blocks of tempeh (any variety and brand you like)
2 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium
2 tablespoons white miso paste
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
Oil for oiling the grill grates
What you’ll do:
Prepare your grill like you normally do. I recommend getting the grill really hot and letting any bits and pieces from the previous grill session burn off, then scrapping the grates with an appropriate type of a brush (please be careful here because you can really damage your grill grates if you don’t follow the manufactures instructions and recommendations), and then oil them generously with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil – please use long tongs here to prevent getting burned!
Take tempeh out of the wrapping and palace in a pan large enough to hold it flat and straight. Cover with water, bring to boil and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure you flip the tempeh half way through if your tempeh is not fully submerged in water. If it is, no mid-way flipping is needed!
While tempeh is boiling and the grill is getting hot, mix together the glaze by whisking together soy sauce, vegetable oil, miso paste and Worcestershire sauce. The glaze should be smooth, but even if you have few lumps in there don’t worry about it – it won’t matter at the end.
Place the boiled tempeh onto some paper towels and gently dry.
Using a (silicone) food brush spread the glaze liberally ove the tempeh and place the piece of tempeh glaze side down on the hot grill. Keep the gas grill on medium high heat, or if you are using a charcoal grill keep it as hot as you would when grilling vegetables, veggie burgers, or mushroom or tofu steaks. Grill the glazed tempeh 5 to 6 minutes on one side, and while it is grilling apply the glaze on the other side, flip over, grill for 4 to 5 minutes, glaze, flip, grill, repeat for as long as you like.
Let stand for just a moment or two, slice and serve!!! This Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh will work as an appetizer, finger food, as well as dinner, especially with some grilled corn, veggies, coleslaw, baked or barbecue beans, or as a salad topping…