Mushroom Pâté

Nut-free Mushroom Pâté, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Mushroom Pâté, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I grew up eating pâté and loving it. Some pâté, on a piece of freshly baked bread with a glass of yogurt (yes, the liquid kind you drink like they do in Middle East!) was one of my go to breakfasts. And the pâté I ate was not a fancy French kind made with duck fat. At some point I learned that it was actually made of who know what, random bits and pieces of an animal all ground up. Whether you eat meat or not, I hope we can all agree that that’s pretty unappetizing when you think about it!

But: if you don’t think about it and just go with your taste buds, pâtés are really tasty. They are full of umami, savory flavors that we all crave, they are silky and smooth, they are nicely spreadable, and they are an excellent add-on to a nice piece of bread. So, how can we re-create the perfect savoriness with just a small number of ingredients, and make a healthy and satisfying pâté that will keep you coming back for more?

Well, we start with mushrooms, the well-known source of umami. You can use white button mushrooms here or baby bella (cremini) mushrooms as well. I do not recommend some of the mushrooms that have distinct flavors, like shiitakes; however, other mild mushrooms may work. Still, white button mushrooms are readily available, affordable and work!

Another important umami component is tomato paste. Here, you can use any tomato paste you have on hand and you can adjust the amount – anywhere between a tablespoon or two will do the trick.

To make the dip smooth and rich in protein, I recommend adding canned beans. White beans work best (cannellini, great Northern or navy), but any other variety will probably be OK. If you cook your own beans, I recommend that you keep them slightly undercooked for this application, or at least squeeze some of the excesses liquid out before blending to avoid ending with a pâté that’s more of a soup than a rich and dense spread.

The main flavoring agent here is Herbes de Provence, a mixture of dried herbs that usually includes thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram and lavender. I use Trader Joe’s version, and they carry it only as a seasonal item in the fall, but any other mix with the same name will do. Alternatively, you can add a pinch of thyme, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs (including basil) that you may have on hand.

Finally, what also adds a lot to this pâté is sautéing and caramelizing onions, garlic and mushrooms before blending everything together. This will help the flavor deepen and develop!

Looking for serving suggestions? You can use it as a spread or a dip, as a pizza “sauce” and topping (why not?), in your quesadillas (let’s be adventurous!), for your baked potatoes, or for any other dish where you feel the need to add rich, yet smooth flavors. Enjoy!

Mushroom Pâté

What you’ll need:

8 oz white button mushrooms (or cremini mushrooms if you like stronger mushroom flavor), sliced

1/2 large, white onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons Herbes de Provence

1 15 oz (425 g) can white beans

Salt to taste

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Heat up than add the oil and onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic. Let garlic start to release its aroma – this usually takes a minute.
  2. Add the mushrooms and , increase the heat to high, mix well and sauté until mushrooms are browned. This will take about 4-5 minutes.
  3. While the mushrooms are cooking, drain and rinse the can of beans. Shake access water off and place into a food processor or a large mixing bowl if you rather use a stick blender (this is an incredibly useful kitchen gadget and it’s what I used here).
  4. Pour the sautéed mushrooms over the beans and blend until smooth and combined. Leave in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  5. Serve cold as a spread for sandwiches or as a dip for chips or crackers. This pâté is excellent addition to your menu and it offers a healthy and humane alternative.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Quinoa-based Ground Beef Substitute

Quinoa-Based Ground Beef Substitute
Quinoa-Based Ground Beef Substitute, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Many people who transition or attempt to transition to a plant-based diet find access to meat replacement products to be helpful. This makes sense – most of us were raised eating meeting, enjoying hamburgers, hotdogs, ground beef tacos and many other things. So, I think it is only reasonable that we would be looking for familiar textures and flavors. Plus: given that meatless and vegan meat replacement products are now easily accessible at least in major grocery store chains in US, many of us with busy lives default to grabbing a bag of meatless crumbles. It’s easy and in many cases quite delicious!

However, if you want to maximize the health benefits, or don’t live near a grocery store stocked with meat replacement products, you should learn how to make some of them yourself. One of the easiest thing to make is ground beef substitute, and my previous version made with mushrooms and TVP (textured vegetable protein) is one of my most popular posts. Here, I wanted to share a super easy recipe for a ground beef substitute that is ideal for tacos, enchiladas, fully-loaded nachos or any other dish that usually uses well cooked and fully caramelized ground beef.

The recipe is very simple, but it does take a bit of time. It used quinoa as the protein source and practically the only ingredient. This grain is rich in protein, vitamins, fiber and minerals, and if you have not tried it yet I strongly recommend it. You can use quinoa almost anywhere you use rice, like in stuffed eggplant or gumbo. Given the high protein content, quinoa can be a great alternative to using gluten when making things like gluten-free vegan BBQ ribs. And, of course, quinoa tastes great by itself more or less, in simple side dishes like this one.

I hope you give this new take on ground beef substitute a try!

Quinoa-based Ground Beef Substitute

What you’ll need:

1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cup to 2 cups water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon tamari sauce

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring 1 1/2 cup water to boil, then add quinoa, lower the heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Check quinoa half way through and add more water if needed. Let the cooked quinoa cool completely before moving to the next step.
  2. Place cooked quinoa into a large mixing bowl, add nutritional yeast, oil, chili powder and tamari or soy sauce (tamari sauce is a gluten-free alternative to soy sauce). Mix well. If you are busy or planing ahead you can prepare this mixture a day ahead and store in the fridge until ready for the next set.
  3.  Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  4. Line a large baking sheet with some parchment paper and spread the quinoa mix, forming an even thin layer.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes, then take the quinoa-based ground beef substitute our the oven, mix well, and return for another 15 minutes. Check again to make sure that quinoa is nicely roasted, crunchy and well-browned. If so, you are done, if not place it back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so. Let the mixture cool then use as a taco filling, a pizza topping or to make some delicious enchiladas!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Plantain Lasagna with Pinto Beans

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Plantain Lasagna with Pinto Beans, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The first time I tasted plantains, those longer, bigger bananas you sometimes see in your grocery store among other exotic fruits and vegetables, I did not like them. They were fried yet sort of mushy, and tasted very sweet although they were served as a savory side dish. So, for the next fifteen years I stayed away from them.

Few months ago I was watching a cooking show, and they talked about Puerto Rican lasagna – Pastelón – that looked delicious, with layers made of plantains rather than noodles. So I decided to give this lasagna a try. Please note that if you expect to see a traditional Pastelón recipe here, stop reading now and go elsewhere. I took a great deal of liberty here, so you will not find any meat or cheese here. What you will find is lots of beans and salsa. And lots, and lots of plantains.

The plantains you want to use here are very ripe. Some stores sell them ripe, but some carry only green looking plantains. You could get those and keep them in a paper bag until they get ripe – I tried this but it did not work really well. So now I go for off the shelf half-ripe plantains that, by the way, are very yellow with a bit of black. This article will help you navigate the plantains and different stages of their ripeness. For me the green plantains were too tough and the very ripe ones were too sweet so I settled on 75%-ripe.

Instead of frying the plantains, which is the most common way people make them edible, I roasted them. You will need to cut through the skin lengthwise and roast them for about half an hour. Their skin should turn totally black and once cooled they should be easy to peel and slice lengthwise into thin slices.

While your plantains are roasting, prepare your lasagna filling, which in this case is a batch of pinto beans, simmered with onions, roasted green chili peppers and spices.

The base for your lasagna will be salsa, and I just use store bought kind, and what will give this lasagna a slightly meaty feel is a layer of TVP – textured vegetable protein. Although the bag TVP comes in may recommend soaking, please don’t do it. This lasagna is juicy enough and the TVP will soften and cook as the lasagna is baking. After the TVP layer, come the plantain slices, and then the beans. Cover everything with foil, but it in the oven for forty five minutes or so, and that will be that. You will have an out of the ordinary lasagna on your hands to enjoy.

 

 

Plantains Lasagna with Pinto Beans

What you’ll need:

4 plantains, almost ripe

2 cups salsa, homemade or store bought

2 cups TVP (textured vegetable protein)

1 onion, diced

2 15.5 oz (440 g) cans pinto beans

1 4 oz (113 g) can fire roasted green chili peppers

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Cooking spray


What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash the plantains, cut their end off and cut a slit in their skin lengthways. Arrange on the foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet and put in the oven for 35-45 minutes.
  3. While plantains are roasting, prepare the beans. Spray the bottom of a large pan, I used my cast iron pan but you can use any pan you like, and place over medium heat.
  4. Add the onions and cook until golden, which will take about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the spices, and let the spices toast for a minute or so.
  6. Add the can of fire roasted green chili peppers and stir again.
  7. Finally add the beans and using a potato masher mash the beans while they cook. Don’t mash them all the way through – leave some of the beans whole. Let the beans simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  8. By the time the beans are done,  plantains will be too. The roasted plantains should be soft but not mushy.  Let the plantains cool before handling.
  9. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 F (175 C).
  10. Once cool enough to handle, peel the plantains and cut lengthwise into sheets. Adjust the thickness to your preference.
  11. Spray the bottom and the sides of a deep 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the salsa in and spread to cover the bottom. Distribute the TVP over the salsa to make one even layer. Place the roasted plantain slices over the TVP. Pour the beans over the plantains, cover the dish with some foil and put it in the oven for 30 minutes covered, then uncover and let the top brown for another 10 minutes.
  12. Take the lasagna out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with plain rice or enjoy as is, perhaps with a sprinkle of cheese alternative or a spoonful of macadamia nut queso fresco. Yum!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Stuffed Savoy Cabbage Rolls, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Stuffed cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers, stuffed grape leaves – with so many things to stuff how do you decide on what to put in each one and does it really matter? I grew up with stuffed cabbage leaves, the fermented cabbage leaves to be precise, and the result called “sarma” is a bit of a staple, tradition and highlight of the Serbian and other Balkan cuisines.

The most common stuffing ingredient is a mix of rice and meat, with some onions and carrots, all sautéed together. There’s also a tradition to make vegan versions during the weeks of lent that precede both Christmas and Easter. Most vegan versions either skip the meat or replace it with chopped walnuts.

The key to perfect stuffed cabbage rolls is to have nice, large cabbage leaves that are soft and pliable. Traditional recipe uses fermented cabbage leaves that fit these requirements well, but if you don’t have a barrel-full of fermented cabbage heads don’t worry. There’s a way to go around this problem.

The best way to do this is to pick a cabbage with softer leaves to begin with. I recommend savoy but Napa would work.

No. 2: discard 2-3 leaves that are right on the surface as they can be tougher, and then gently peel off 8-10 large leaves without ripping them.

No. 3: bring a large pot of water to boil and blanch the leaves unto softened then rinse under cold water to prevent them from getting too soggy.

Once you have your leaves ready, it’s time to fill them up, and roll them into tight little packages. My stuffing here is simple – I mixed some store-bought ground beef substitute (Trader Joe’s in this case but you can use any kind you like or make your own), and mixed it with some tomato paste to make a stuffing that sticks together.

Place your leaf on a flat surface, spread it out, place about one to two tablespoons of stuffing at the base of the leaf, fold one side over, roll it up, tuck the other side in, and you are done (see pictures below).

Finish rolling the rest, then place your rolled cabbage into a simple tomato sauce – you can find the recipe for my go to tomato sauce below, but you can also use a jar or two of pre-made marinara sauce as well. Let everything simmer for some time, then enjoy!

Stuffed Savoy Cabbage Rolls

What you’ll need:

10-12 leaves (1 large head) Savoy cabbage

24 oz. (680 g) ground beef substitute (homemade or store-bought)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes, chunky style

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup parsley, flat leaf, chopped

What you’ll do:

  1. Starting from a large head of Savoy cabbage, remove 2-3 outermost leaves and discard, then carefully remove the next 10-12 leaves. Wash the leaves a pat dry.
  2. Bring 8-12 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Once the water is boiling, submerge the cabbage leaves and boil for 3 minutes or so.
  3. Place the softened yet still not fully cooked leaves into a strainer and quickly rinse with cold water. Leave in a strainer to continue to drain.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, mix the ground beef substitute with the tomato paste.
  5. Taking one leaf at a time, place them on a flat surface, add 1-2 tablespoons of the stuffing, fold one side over, roll into a tight roll, then tuck the other side in to form the tightly packaged roll. Set aside and continue to roll until all the cabbage and stuffing are used up.
  6. Place a large Dutch oven or a heavier pot over the medium high heat. Add olive oil and sliced garlic. Sauté for 1 minute, which should be enough for garlic to start releasing its aroma without burning.
  7. Add tomato sauce, stir well and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Gently place your cabbage rolls into the tomato sauce. Spread them into a single layer and Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, cover and let everything cook for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Sprinkle in fresh parsley and serve. Some complementary sides are freshly baked bread, basmati or cauliflower rice, or classic mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Vegan “Chicken” in a Nut Sauce

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Vegan “Chicken” in a Nut Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Creamy, aromatic, and surprisingly sweet – those are just some of the ways to describe this rich dish. Originally made with chicken and cashews, I transformed the recipe into one that uses soya chunks instead of chicken, and walnuts instead of cashews. The result is a nuttier and creamier vegan delight!

What are soya chunks?

Soya chunks are a common meat substitute. According to this Wikipedia page, the ingredient used to make soya chunks is the byproduct of soy oil production, so basically all the protein rich solids left after the fat has been extracted. These solids can be made into many different shapes and sizes and some common products are texturized vegetable protein (TVP), soya curls and soya chunks. All these products usually require some soaking in water or a brief dip in a pot of boiling water to rehydrate them as they are packaged an sold dry.

Where do you find soya chunks?

Most large grocery store chains in the USA don’t carry soya chunks. This is a surprise since we could easily find them in my small home town in Serbia when we visited last summer! But in the US, you either need to order them through Amazon, or visit an South Asian grocery store. The price at my local Indian grocery store is about $2-3 for a 200 g box, which is enough to make a big pot of dinner to feed 6-8 people. Amazing, isn’t it?

Let the food processor do all the work

The recipe calls for a range and of ingredients, and quite a few spices. But the preparation itself is super easy. The sauce comes together in a food processor and then it slowly cooks and simmers with the rest of the ingredients. If you prefer a chunky sauce, dial down the length of processing, and if you prefer a smooth sauce keep processing and add a bit of water as you go for smoother consistency.

This dish is rich and complex, and it’s best served with simple basmati rice. Enjoy!

Vegan “Chicken” in a Nut Sauce

What you’ll need:

200 g soya chunks

2 yellow onions, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sliced ginger

1 cup walnuts

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 cup yogurt (almond, cashew or any other one you like)

1/2 lemon, juice only

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)

10 oz white mushrooms, quartered

1/2-1 cup water, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, and more for garnish

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Rehydrate soya chunks according to instructions on the box. This will usually require either leaving them in some boiling water for 3-5 minutes or soaking them for a while.
  2. Drain and rinse the soaked chunks. Squeeze them gently to shake a bit of excess liquid off, but don’t squeeze them dry. That will make them rubbery and too chewy. You want the chunks to be soft and moist. Set aside.
  3. Place onions, garlic, ginger, walnuts, tomato paste, spices, oil, lemon juice, and yogurt into a food processor, and process until a smooth sauce forms.
  4. Place a large, heavy pot, like a Dutch oven, over the medium high heat and bring to temperature. Add the sauce and cook for 5 minutes with frequent stirring.
  5. Add the mushrooms and mix well. Cook for another 5 minutes then add the soya chunks. Mix well again, and check if any water is needed. You want the sauce to be dense, but still flowing so adjust the liquid accordingly.
  6. Add the golden raisins and simmer, covered, for another 10-15 minutes.
  7. Serve over some rice and sprinkled with fresh cilantro.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Barley Burgers, Barely Believable

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Barley and Mushroom Burgers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

When life gives you barley, you should probably make some burgers! This is especially true when life simultaneously gives you some mushrooms so that your burley burgers can take full inspiration from that old-time favorite, the Mushroom and Barley Soup. The soup is a traditional menu item in delis and other lunch places, and it work because it combines robustness and heartiness of barley with plenty of umami savoriness that comes from mushrooms.

These burgers are built on the same principles. Cooked barley is mixed with plenty of ground mushrooms, and a handful of flavoring agents to make these gently spicy and smokey baked burgers. The patties are sturdy enough to hold up to the outdoor grilling, so you don’t need to limit yourself to an oven.

The key flavor agents in this case are sliced black olives and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. You need to be careful with the chipotle peppers because they are hot! I usually use either only the sauce or just one pepper as more than that can make a dish, including these burgers, quite uncomfortable. The adobo sauce itself is an excellent source of smokey flavor, so if your taste buds are sensitive you can skip the pepper, or replace the adobo sauce with some smoked paprika.

 

Mushroom and Barley Burgers

What you’ll need:

2 cups barley

4 cups water

1 cup black olives, sliced

10 oz mushrooms

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1/3 7 oz. (200 g) can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 cup flat leaf parsley, fresh

Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cook 2 cups of barley in 4 cups of water. I recommend using a pressure cooker (30 min bean cycle on the electric pressure cooker I have gave great results), or cook on the stove top using the instructions on the bag. Let cooked barley cool before using further.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C), or prepare your outdoor grill as you normally do. For the outdoor grilling I recommend getting the grill grates hot, burning off any bits that may have been stuck on them, then scrubbing them, and oiling them before use.
  3. Place the olives and the rest of the ingredients all the way to the cooking spray, into a food processor and process until finely chopped, then add into the cooked barley. Mix well, and using your hands form the patties.
  4. If you are using an oven, place the patties onto a baking sheet lined with some parchment paper. Spray them with cooking spray, then flip over and spray again. Bake on one side for 10-15 minutes then flip them over and bake for 10 min more. For outdoor grilling, 8-10 minutes per side should be enough to get the perfect grill marks and develop that lovely grilled flavor.
  5. Serve the burgers with all your favorite trimmings. They are hearty and just slightly spicy, and pair well with neutral flavors like avocado, lettuce and tomato.

Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

 

Gluten-free Vegan BBQ Ribs

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Gluten-free, Vegan BBQ Ribs, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

For all of you out there who’s mouths have been watering when you see people share their vegan BBQ ribs recipes but don’t eat gluten, this one is for you! Of course, all of you who are gluten-lovers, I hope you check this recipe out as well – you will not be disappointed!

Big credit for these ribs goes to Linda and Alex Meyerson and their amazing new cookbook “Great Vegan BBQ without a Grill” (read my review here). Their recipe for BBQ ribs (or RIBZ, as they call them!) is amazing and I love it, but my husband has been avoiding gluten so I had to come up with an alternative.

After few trials and errors, I came across couple of recipes that use quinoa as a replacement for gluten. I have been trying to include quinoa into my cooking more often (in a gumbo-jambalaya fusion, as a stuffing for roasted eggplant, and as a perfect side dish for winter holidays), because, although almost impossible for me to pronounce it properly (is it keen-wah or kee-noah or something else?), it is super nutritious. Loads and loads of plant-based protein, fiber, minerals and vitamins!

It also has a subtle flavor which makes many people think of quinoa as bland, while I view it as versatile. This absence of strong flavor means that I can dress quinoa any way I like, and make it come out flavorful and different every time. These BBQ ribs are the proof!

As I said, the real credit goes to Alex and Linda because their idea to bake the rib meat before grilling it further is a real breakthrough. This lets your meat come together, and makes grilling a breeze. These ribs will withstand the indoor and the outdoor grilling so go crazy – and remember that you can prep your “meat” a day or two in advance and store it in the fridge, which can be a real lifesaver if you are having a large party over. All you will need to do is get your “meat” out, cut into the ribs, and grill before serving. This recipe is so fantastic that you can easily serve it to your omni friends and family, and they will not know the difference. Happy grilling!!!

Tip: this is definitely a recipe that you make in stages. You need to cook quinoa, roast some beets, sauté mushrooms, cook the beans (if not using store bought) – all before everything goes into the food processor, so be patient and plan ahead. It will be worth it!

Gluten-free Vegan BBQ Ribs

What you’ll need:

1 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cup vegetable broth

10 oz mushrooms, sautéed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 beet, roasted

2 cups dark red beans (canned or homemade)

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1 tablespoon tamari

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon liquid smoke (or less, depending on your taste)

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup BBQ sauce (homemade or store bought, I love Stubb’s Original)

Oil or cooking spray for preparing the grill or a grill pan

Extra BBQ sauce for serving!

What you’ll do:

  1. Roast the beet – actually, instead of roasting one lonely beet, I recommend roasting a whole bunch of beets at the same time, at 425 F (220 C) for 45 minutes or so, and then using them to make these ribs, as well as eat them in a salad or make them into a hummus. This can be done on the grill too – wrap the beets in some foil and let them hang on the grill for about 45 minutes as you grill other things! You can make the beets in advance and store in the fridge for up to a week, and use in this, and many other recipes as needed. If you are in a tight time crunch you can use canned beets as well, but the roasted ones do add a bit of nice, earthy aroma that the canned ones simply don’t have.
  2. Combine quinoa and vegetable broth into a pot large enough to hold it all, place over high heat, bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
  4. Place a large frying pan over medium high heat, add the oil then sliced mushrooms, and sauté the mushrooms until nicely browned.
  5. If you have a large food processor, you can combine cooked quinoa, sautéd mushrooms, beans, 1/2 beet, and all the rest of the ingredients – except the BBQ sauce! – in the food processor and process until smooth and homogenous. If you don’t have a large food processor, but have a stick blender you can place everything into a large mixing bowl and then use the stick blender to blend it all together. This is your rib “meat” mix.
  6. Line a 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) baking dish with parchment paper and spray the bottom and the sides with some cooking spray. Pour your rib “meat” mix into the pan, even out and bake for 30 minutes, or until baked through, and browned at the edges. Let the baked rib “meat” cool. This is also a good stopping point, as the “meat” can stay in the fridge overnight and be used the next day.
  7. When you are ready to grill, slice the rib “meat” into strips – they should be roughly the same size as the real ribs, which is about 1 inch or 2-3 cm.
  8. Prepare your grill pan or your outdoor grill as you normally do. For me, this means turning on the heat to high and letting the pan heat up nice and good before brushing with a little bit of oil or spraying with some cooking spray. For the outdoor grill, I turn the burners on to the max (I have a gas grill) and leave the grill covered for 10 minutes, then I use the brush to scrape the grates, oil them with a paper towel dipped into some oil (use your heat proof tongs to handle the towel paper and stay safe), and they are ready (note that the type of a brush you use depends on the kind of the grill grates you have, so follow the manufacturer instruction closely otherwise you may permanently damage your grill!).
  9. Place the ribs on the grill or the grill pan and brush the top with some BBQ sauce. Let them grill for 3-4 minutes on one side then flip over, brush with some BBQ sauce and repeat. I usually flip the ribs three times so that each side has 2 brushes of BBQ sauce and two grilling periods, for a total of about 6 – 8 minutes per side.
  10. Serve hot with the side of your favorite BBQ sauce (I recommend warming the sauce just slightly), and enjoy with your favorite sides, such as grilled corn, spicy cole slaw, or this fantastic arugula and watermelon salad that I just discovered!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Meat-less Keema Matar

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Meat-less Keema Matar, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

By now you probably figured out that I am a huge fan of Indian cuisine. Perhaps it’s the spices, perhaps it’s the long and slow simmering, perhaps is the whole culture of not eating meat that produced an abundance of vegan-friendly recipes and ingredient combinations [EDIT: I was alerted that current facts suggest that India may not be as vegetarian as previously thought; it seems that it’s a myth that India is mostly vegetarian]. Whatever it is, Indian cuisine has always been a huge inspiration for me, and I’ve been sharing some of the results on this blog. Past successes include Jackfruit Tikka Masala, as well as Chicken-less Tikka Masala made with soya chunks, and my version of Sabudana Khichdi.

This recipe is a vegan version of a minced lamb dish called Keema Matar. The recipe uses minced soya chunks that give the final dish the same consistency and appearance as the original recipe. You could use TVP (textured vegetable protein) but note that the food will probably have a softer, less chewy bite to it.

What makes this recipe work are, of course, the spices. I use some pretty standard spices like garlic powder, freshly grated ginger, chili powder, a cinnamon stick, some more specialized spices like turmeric, coriander powder and coriander pods, and some spices that you can only find in an Indian grocery store, like Indian bay leaves and matar masala.  Fear not if you don’t have easy access to these last two spices because you can use regular bay leaves and some cumin powder instead.

The best way to ensure that your soya chunks absorb all the flavors is to cook them according to instructions, which usually say “boil in water for 5 minutes”, rinse, drain, gently squeeze to remove some of the excess water, and mince them – I use a food processor for mincing – and then mix the minced chunks with spices and let them marinate for a while. (Note: if you are using TVP, you will not need to mince since the TVP flakes are already about the right size once they are fully soaked. Although hard to remove access water from TVP once it’s fully soaked, I do suggest you give it a gentle squeeze before marinating!)

Another ingredient that is needed for this dish are green peas. I use frozen peas, and I don’t bother with defrosting – just mix them into the simmering minced soya chunks and they’ll be fine. Once done, serve over  some Basmati Rice, sprinkle with some fresh cilantro and add a side of raita (yogurt sauce with chopped cucumbers and mint – I make mine with cashew yogurt and it comes out great!) or even a piece of naan and you will have an unbelievable restaurant-style dinner right in the comfort of your home.

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Meatless Keema Matar

What you’ll need:

200 g soya chunks

2 teaspoon coriander powder

2 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoon mattar masala

1 tablespoon grated ginger, fresh

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

2-3 tablespoon oil

3-4 Indian bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

10-15 cardamom pods

4 cloves garlic, sliced

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 15 oz can petit diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup green peas, frozen

Fresh cilantro for garnish

What you’ll do:

  1. Place soya chunks in a large pot, cover with water, bring to boil, and cook for 5 minutes, or according to the instructions on the box. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze the soya chunks gently to remove some of the excess water, them place in the food processor.
  2. Add all the spices up to the oil and bay leaves, and process until soya chunks get a consistency of minced meat. Let the minced soya chunks and spices marinate for an hour or so on the kitchen counter at room temperature.
  3. In a heavy pot, like a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high heat then add the Indian bay leaves, cinnamon stick and the cardamom pods and let the aromas bloom for a minute.
  4. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté them for 5-6 minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste, mix well and continue sautéing for another minute to brown the tomato paste just slightly.
  6. Add the minced soya chunks with all the spices they have been combined with as well as the diced tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  7. Add the peas, mix well and simmer for another 10 minutes. By this point, your food will be ready and your kitchen will smell fantastic. Serve and enjoy with Basmati Rice, and/or naan, and/or raita.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Chickpea Burgers with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Walnut Meat

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Chickpea Burgers with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Walnut Meat, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

You should get to know walnuts. They are super nutritious because they have a large amounts of polyunsaturated fats, and surprisingly high amounts of protein, fiber, even vitamins B-6.

Walnuts are also fun and funky. They look like large, green balls when young, and their pretty green skin shrivels into dark brown to black husk as they ripen. This husk eventually falls off, revealing the nut. If you do find yourself with a pile of walnuts still wearing their husks on your hands, do use gloves when peeling them. The walnut husks will release dark brown pigments that will color your skin, and the stuff does not come off easily. It’s actually still used as a natural hair dye in some places, and if you ever get a pile of green walnuts stick them into some brandy and make some dark liquor called nocino.

If you are like me, chances are the walnuts you can easily find come nicely cleaned and sometimes even chopped. These days I prefer to get chopped walnuts as that speeds things up in the kitchen. I use walnuts in my desserts, as a quick snack, and as a meat substitute. This recipe here falls into the “walnuts as a meat replacement” category and to boost their meaty flavor I combine them with sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder. This serves as a fantastic flavor add-on to chickpeas, which are the main ingredients in this burger. Having said that, I think chunks chickpeas here are more of a filler and that walnuts and the sundried tomatoes are the stars.

The main binding agents here are flax meal and bread crumbs. Flax meal has to be soaked in hot water for about fifteen minutes, which should be enough to transform it into sticky goo that you can use instead of eggs as a binding agent.

Chickpea Burgers with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Walnut Meat

What you’ll need:

1 onion, diced

1 cup walnuts, chopped

3 oz. (85 g) sun dried tomatoes, sliced

3 tablespoons flax meal

6 tablespoons water, boiling

2 15.5 oz. (439g) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons olive oil

2/3 cup plain bread crumbs

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large cup or a measuring cup mix flax meal and the boiling water. Let the mixture stand for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Spray the bottom of a large frying or sauté pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the diced onions and sauté for 8-10 minutes until the onions are nicely caramelized.
  3. Add chopped walnuts and let them toast slightly. This will take 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add the sun dried tomatoes, mix well and sauté for another couple of minutes.
  5. Transfer the sautéed mixture into a large mixing bowl. Add the chickpeas that have been carefully washed, drained and half-mashed with either a hand or a fork. Add the soaked flax meal, spices, oil, and bread crumbs and mix well.
  6. Form the burger patties, and place them on the wax paper lined platter. Put the patties in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up.
  7. Grill the burgers using an outside or an inside grill, or a grill pan. These burgers are sturdy and should not fall apart while grilling. They need 3-5 minutes per side to get nice grill marks.
  8. Serve them on a ham burger bun with your choice of toppings and condiments!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

White Bean Burger with Chia Seeds

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White Bean Burgers with Chia Seeds, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Another veggie burger, another sensation (if you like to see some past examples, there are here, here, here, and here)! And you don’t need to take my word for it, just go ahead and make a batch of these. First of all, they are ultra-cheap. I use dry beans and one pound, approximately half a kilo, of dry beans will make a huge pile of these burgers. At the end, I think my yield from this recipe was about 15 burgers. The burgers store well in the tightly sealed container in a fridge – you can keep them for a week – and reheat easily in the microwave oven, toaster oven or on the stove top. I am not entirely sure they freeze well, but you can try. If you do decide to freeze a batch, I recommend cooking them through, letting them cool, then separating individual burgers with some wax paper, then freezing. In that way you can grab a burger any time you need it!

Chia seeds are the magic ingredient here. I’ve used chia seeds in the past to make puddings, but here I use them as the main binding agent, the same way you would use egg or a flax “egg”. To make chia “egg”  all you need to do is soak chia seeds in some water for about 30 minutes or so. By the time half an hour is up you should have a very thick and gooey mixture that looks quite slimy and that is a good sign. It means your chia seeds are ready to use. Chia seeds add not only the cohesiveness to this recipe, but bump up the nutritional value of your burgers because they are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids.

I used to be afraid of cooking the beans and would get canned ones only. But, I recently started using a pressure cooker and I love it! I soak the beans overnight to speed things up, although I did make the beans without soaking and that works as well – you just need to cook them for a longer time. Once ready for the pressure cooker, I rinse the beans, place them in the pot and cover with water. I use an electric pressure cooker and use a preset bean program which takes about fifteen minutes of pressuraized cooking. Once the program is done and the pressure cooker is safe to open, I drain the beans and use without rinsing. You can save the liquid too, and make it into a soup if you like.

Note: if you are cooking dry chickpeas this water is the actual aquafaba that everybody is raving about, so do keep it and use it as the egg white substitute. I recently made aquafaba meringue and topped my Butter Squash and Cranberry Pie with Praline and Meringue Topping.

Once you have your chia egg and your cooked beans the rest is easy. All the ingredients so into a large mixing bowl or a food processor and get processed together. Once formed, the burger patties need to sit in the fridge or on the kitchen counter for about half an hour to an hour to firm up, and they are ready to go. I made my batch in a non-stick pan sprayed with some cooking spray, but you can grill them or even put them in the oven. They don’t need much cooking really since all the ingredients have already been cooked, so what you are really looking to do is brown the patties nicely on both side and heat them through.

You can serve these veggie burgers through the year and with any condiments you enjoy. I can recommend a piece or two of avocados and a spoonful of Macadamia Nut Queso Fresco with just a spring of cilantro. That out to do the trick!

 

White Bean Burgers with Chia Seeds

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (450 g) white beans, dry

1/2 cup red pepper paste (or tomato paste, if you don’t have red pepper paste)

2 tablespoons chia seeds

6 oz (3/4 cup) water

1 cup coarse corn meal

1/2 cup fine corn meal

2 tablespoons stake sauce

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon chili lime powder (or regular chili powder)

Cooking spray

What you’ll need: 

  1. Cover the beans with water and soak overnight at room temperature.
  2. Rinse the beans before cooking, then cook them in a fresh batch of water until done. If you are using a pressure cooker the total cooking time will likely be about 30 minutes. If you are cooking them in a regular pot they will probably need an hour or an hour and a half. You can also use the canned beans and you probably need 3-4 15 oz (425 g) cans to get the amount equivalent to what you get from a pound of dry beans.
  3. While beans are cooling, start soaking chia seeds in 3/4 cup of water. This will take 30 minutes or so.
  4. By the time chia seeds are ready to use, your beans will be cool. Place the beans, chia seeds, and the rest of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and process everything together with a stick blender. You can also use a food processor for this step.
  5. For the burger patties and leave them to firm up for about 30 minutes. You can leave them on the kitchen counter or in the fridge. You can also make them a day ahead and leave them in a fridge and finish cooking them the next day.
  6. Preheat the grill, grill pan or a non-stick frying pan to medium-high. I recommend using some cooking spray to help the burgers brown and get them going, but if you do have a good non-stick pan you can probably get away with not using any oil or cooking spray. The burgers need 3-4 minutes per side.
  7. Serve them fresh from the grill/out of the pan and enjoy with your favorite toppings and condiments!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Spicy and Smokey BBQ Pulled “Pork” Jackfruit

Spicy and Smokey Pulled “Pork” Jackfruit, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

For many transitioning to plant-based, vegan or vegetarian diets giving up meat could be very difficult, especially during the summer months of outdoor grilling and the good ol’ BBQ. So, it’s no wonder that many recipe developers have been interested in capturing some of the BBQ flavors and channeling them into plant-based dishes.

Few weeks ago I reviewed one of the newest cookbooks dedicated entirely to vegan grilling, and I am currently going over the vegan butcher’s cookbook. Almost every one of these cookbooks as well as many vegan blogs and recipe aggregators include at least one vegan pulled “pork” recipe that uses green young jackfruit to recreate the look and feel of pulled pork. Jackfruit BBQ pulled pork recipe was even featured on TODAY.com as one of the biggest food trends of 2017!

I’ve been using jackfruit for over a year now, and have tried couple of different pulled pork recipes. They left me a bit underwhelmed, and I put the idea of BBQ pulled jackfruit on a side burner. And that’s where it stayed until very recently when I decided that it’s time to tackle this challenge again.

The recipe I came up with is slow cooker based and it takes about six hours to make. First, I combined lots of finely chopped onions and finely grated carrots to give the BBQ lots of natural sweetness. To help the aromas develop, I mixed the onions and carrots with oil and tomato paste and cooked them in the microwave oven for six minutes or so, until almost fully softened and slightly caramelized.

Next, I pulled the drained and rinsed jackfruit before cooking. I discarded all the very tough bits and pulled the rest apart with my fingers.

For smokiness and flavor, I added molasses, mesquite powder, and some sauce from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. This sauce is super spicy so go easy with it, or replace it with some smoked paprika, or liquid smoke. I like a bit of a kick so this sauce (in moderation) works for me. The mesquite powder is something that you may need to order online (I got this brand from Amazon), but it is worth having on hand. It’s a powder that adds nice nutty and subtly smokey flavor to baked goods, desserts, and now “pulled” pork.

The slow cooker did all the work once I mixed everything together. The main pro tip when using a slow cooker (crock pot) is to use a liner to help with clean up. Other than that – you mix all the ingredients, put the lid on, turn on high for several hours, and you are done!

The pulled jackfruit really delivered! The sweetness and the heat from the adobo sauce combined to give this all sort of happy balance. Jackfruit turned out soft and very much like pulled pork in texture, while onions and carrots have almost melted into the final sauce, which is exactly what I wanted.

Spicy and Smokey BBQ Pulled “Pork” Jackfruit

What you’ll need:

1-2 yellow onions, finely diced

3 large carrots, finely grated

3 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons canola (or other neutral taste) oil

3 10 oz (280 g) cans green, young jackfruit in brine (drained, rinsed and pulled apart)

1/4 cup dark molasses

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

2 tablespoons mesquite powder

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Mix diced onion, finely grated carrots, oil and tomato paste in a microwave safe bowl. Put in the microwave for 6-8 minutes until onions start to caramelize.
  2. While the onion and carrot mix is caramelizing and softening, drain and rinse the jackfruit then use your fingers to pull apart all the soft bits while discarding the tough pieces of core.
  3. Line the slow cooker with a liner, add the pulled jackfruit, onion and carrot mix, and the rest of the ingredients. Please note that adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce is very smokey and very spicy, so you may want to dial down or dial up (if you are really adventures!) according to taste. If you rather not have the heat, you could use some smoked paprika and/or a teaspoon of liquid smoke.
  4. Cover the slow cooker, and turn it on to high heat for 5-6 hours.
  5. Serve the BBQ pulled “pork” in a hamburger bun, with some mashed potatoes, coleslaw, grilled corn, or any of other of your favorite sides. The BBQ pulled “pork” would also go really well with some freshly made cornbread, and you can always pour on some of your favorite BBQ sauce for that “finger lickin’ good” feel!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Asian Meatballs with Spiralized Zucchini and Carrot Salad

Vegan, fully plant-based meatballs are one of the easiest thing in the world to make. I like putting meat-free “meatballs” together because they are fun – fun always comes first of course – and they are versatile, you can stick them into a sandwich, over pasta, serve with mashed potatoes, with rice and beans, and the list goes on and on…

Plus: unlike dealing with meat, especially poultry, all the ingredients in these meatballs are safe to eat as is, which means that even young kids can get involved and roll some meatballs. I told you – these can be fun for everyone!

What makes these meatballs Asian is the combination of scallions (green onions), Sriracha (hot red chili sauce), fresh ginger, panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), and peanut butter that get mixed with chopped, not ground, soya chunks. The idea is to retain some of the soya chunks structure rather than grind them to the consistency of ground beef. Think chicken salad, rather than taco meat.

To complete the meal you will need to do some spiralizing, which is one of my favorite things to do with zucchini, summer squash, and even potatoes. Here, I combined carrots and zucchini which gives the salad a nice contrast of crunch versus softness, plus a colorful appearance. The spiralized vegetables are mixed with some slivered almonds, lime juice and zest, and tossed to combine. Top them with a meatball or three, and you got yourself a dinner!

Asian Meatballs with Spiralized Zucchini and Carrot Salad

What you’ll need:

FOR THE SALAD

3 zucchinis, spiralized

3 fat carrots, spiralized

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 lime, juice and zest

FOR THE MEATBALLS

200 g soya chunks

1 1/2 cup panko, Japanese breadcrumbs, regular or gluten-free

3 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated

1 tablespoon peanut butter, natural and unsalted

3 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium

1/2 teaspoon hot chili sauce (sriracha)

Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Prepare soya chunks according to the instructions on the box. They usually need about 3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling water.
  2. Drain and rinse your soya chunks under some cold water, then chop or grind them into small chunks, similar to chicken chunks commonly used in Asian Dumplings recipes. Place them in a large bowl, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix everything well and let stand for 5-10 minutes before making the meatballs.
  3. Heat a large skillet or a cast iron pan over the medium high heat. Spray with some cooking spray and brown the meatballs on all sides until golden brown. Brown the meatballs in batches and make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan.
  4. While the meatballs are browning, prepare the salad. You can either buy a box of spiralized carrots and spiralized zucchini and toss them with some lime juice, lime zest, and toasted slivered almonds, or you can spiralize your own if you have the spiralizer. Let the salad rest while the meatballs finish browning.
  5. To plate, place a good amount of salad in the middle of the plate, and top with 2-3 meatballs. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018