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

Super Summer Soup Supper – CSA Week 8

Super Summer Soup with Italian Flat Beans, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The adventures of the CSA share continue! This is our week 8 share and the eggplant, zucchini, and cucumbers are in full swing. If you need some zucchini inspiration, check out my stuffed zucchini boat recipe from last week. There are also some new items this week, and that’s my focus here: corn, green peppers, and flat (romano beans)! And this is what makes taking part in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program so great – finding surprise ingredients that your local supermarket may not carry, and figuring our what to do with them.

The credit for this soup goes entirely to my 7 year old who suggested we use flat beans for a soup, add corn to it, plus one tablespoon each of dried dill, dried basil and onion powder. Oh, and garlic and vegetable broth! Then I stepped in with some carrots, bay leaves, and green pepper (also courtesy of the CSA share this week). The rest is history and the recipe below!

What are flat beans?

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Flat Beans, Raw – By Andrewa, from Wikimedia Commons

Before we dive into cooking, let me just share what flat beans are. I don’t think I ran into them before, and I am guessing many of you are in the same boat! These beans are also known as romano beans, and also Italian flat green beans. They are similar to green beans, but much broader – about one inch (2.5 cm) or so, and they are quite long too. They have a good bite to them, although my seven year old helper did not like their taste when raw. These beans are meaty and that’s another reason why putting them into a stew or a hearty soup makes a lot of sense as they need a bit of time to cook, and I don’t think steaming them would work. So, if you like to try a green bean variety with a bit more meat and bite to it, these are a great option.

Super Summer Soup with Italian Flat Beans

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (about 500 g) flat beans (romano beans), trimmed and cut into 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces

2 cups grilled corn, just kernels (frozen or canned whole kernel corn would work too!)

2 large carrots, chopped very finely using a food processor

1 green pepper, diced to small pieces

4 cups (about 1 L) vegetable broth

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or crushed

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 tablespoon dried dill

1 tablespoon dried basil

4 dried bay leaves

2 tablespoons olive oil

Squeeze of lemon for serving (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large pot over the medium-high heat. Add oil then garlic and let the garlic brown just slightly for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Next, add diced green peppers and sauté for 2-3 minutes, with occasional stirring.
  3. Add finely chopped carrots, mix well and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. When the peppers have softened and the carrot pulp starts to brown, add the beans, corn and all the spices and sauté for another 5 minutes, then pour in the vegetable stock, bring to boil, lower the heat to simmer, put the lid on and leave it for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve this soup as a light supper, lunch, or pair with a salad and some bread for a meal!

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

 

Sweet Potato Burgers

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Sweet Potatoe Burgers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Let me make one thing clear – if you are looking for a veggie burger recipe that looks and tastes like meat, you really should look elsewhere since this ain’t it! But, if you are looking for a different type of burger, that is unusual yet appealing, and that is amazingly nutritious then you have come to the right place.

This is my Sweet Potato Burger which is made of roasted sweet potatoes, oats, flax meal “egg”, and a dash of very spicy adobo sauce. The patties are held together by the joined action of oats and the flax meal egg, and do just fine on the outdoor grill. The flavor is nicely sweet, perfect for combining with some mustard, pickles and lettuce. In my view, tomatoes, mayo and cheese do not work well on this burger, but caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, or sliced avocado would add to it. Feel free to experiment and see how it goes!

Sweet Potato Burgers

What you’ll need:

2 cups roasted sweet potatoes, mashed

1 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons flax meal

6 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1 teaspoon maple flavor

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Roast sweet potatoes as you would normally. I usually roast them at 425 F (220 C) without peeling for 45 minutes or so, then let them cool completely before handling. My usual batch is about 8 large potatoes and I store them roasted in the refrigerator and use them through the week.
  2. Start soaking flax meal in hot water 15-20 minutes prior to use. You can find detailed instructions on making the flax egg here.
  3. Peel two potatoes and mash them with a fork or a potatoe masher. This should yield 2 cups of sweet potatoes. Measure it out and adjust by adding and removing the mashed sweet potato. The final amount does not need to be absolutely precise but do keep it close to the recipe.
  4. Place the mashed sweet potatoe into a large mixing bowl, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, and use the immersion (stick) blender to get the consistency nice and smooth, and the oats broken up. If you don’t have the stick blender you can always use your food processor. Let the mix stand for 20 minutes or so to allow the oats to begin soaking up the excess moisture and swell.
  5. Form the burger patties, and place them on a wax paper lined platter. Place the patties in a refrigerator for up to an hour to firm up.
  6. Prepare and preheat your outdoor or indoor grill, or your grill pan in a usual way. I recommend oiling the grill grates well and grilling the burgers at medium heat. You can also use a grill pan or a regular pan – the burger will come out as delicious albeit without the lovely, charred grill marks. Sweet Potato Burgers need about 4-5 minutes per side, and they are ready to enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Free and Beautiful – Flourless Double Chocolate Brownies with Chickpeas and Oats

Just how free and beautiful are these brownies? On the “free” side they are vegan, so dairy-free and egg-free, they are also gluten-free and nut-free, plus they are no-added sugar! So, what on Earth do they have? They have plenty of chocolate, cocoa powder, and cocoa nibs, which gives them their chocolate richness.

They are also full of ingredients that you will not find in your regular brownies, like a banana I use here for sweetness and a egg replacement, and oats and chickpeas, which I use as the key flour-like components. Chickpeas and the chickpea water – the miraculous aquafaba – are essential here. They add the protein needed to help give the brownies a bit of structure and texture. They combine well with oats so that the result is not chocolate oatmeal but a real double chocolate brownie with a bite and a chew.

For this and other baking projects, like my meatloaf and my marshmallow topping, I suggest you try making your own chickpeas. They do need some work – you soak them overnight in lots of water, then you rinse them and boil them in double the amount of water to get soft chickpeas and very useful aquafaba. I cook them in an electric pressure cooker on the “beans” setting. To help aquafaba along, I recommend letting the liquid that chickpeas were cooked in sit in the refrigerator for a day or so before using.

Other than cooking the chickpeas that’s a bit elaborate, everything else is smooth sailing. You will need a large food processor, pile everything in, and pulse to mix and combine. The baking is a standard deal, using a 350 F (175 C) oven and taking somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. Let your brownies rest for at least 15 minutes before serving, then cut and plate. They’d be great with some vanilla nicecream, if you’d like to make them fancy. They are also great as is or with some orange zest on top.

Flourless Double Chocolate Brownies with Chickpeas and Oats

What you’ll need:

2 cups oats, gluten-free

2 cups chickpeas, cooked

1 banana

3/4 cup aquafaba

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1/3 cup chocolate chips or chunks, vegan

2 tablespoons cocoa nibs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon baking powder

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Place cooked chickpeas, oats, roughly chopped banana, and all the rest of the ingredients except chocolate chips and cocoa nibs into a food processor, and process until you form a dough.
  3. Add the cocoa nibs and chocolate chips and mix everything together.
  4. Pour the mix into a square, 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) baking dish and put your brownies to bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Take the brownies out and let them rest for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy with some vegan ice cream or as is!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Towards a Gluten-free Vegan Bread Loaf

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Kamut and Chickpea Fluor Vegan Loaf, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Imagine the smell of freshly baked bread spreading throughout your kitchen, and beyond… Cozy, sweet, homey, friendly and welcoming – the smell of freshly baked bread sends all those signals to our senses and more.

But, bread making and baking has always seemed too complicated and too impractical to me, especially since you can get an almost-freshly-baked loaf at any large supermarket these days. And if you live in Europe, small, local bakeries are likely on every street corner, offering really delightful breads made in small batches and very often available right out the oven.

Now, freshly baked gluten-free breads are far less widely available. And if you are looking for gluten-free and vegan breads, freshly baked or otherwise, you may be completely out of store-bought options because almost all gluten-free breads use either eggs or egg whites to give the bread structure in absence of gluten.

I’ve been tinkering with gluten-free baking a bit, and it’s generally forgiving if you are going for cookies, muffins, brownies, or pizza. But, making anything that needs to rise, and stay up, has been a challenge.

Enter bread machine! I recently purchased a basic bread machine model that offers couple of bread settings and loaf size and crust options, and have now used it to get very close to achieving the impossible, a loaf of 100% gluten-free vegan bread.

I’m not there yet but I think I’m getting closer. My most recent experiment used sprouted kamut (khorasan) flour, which is a wheat variety and therefore not gluten-free. But, khorasan flour seems to be easier to digest, especially when sprouted, and therefore better for people who are trying to avoid and/or minimize gluten for reasons other than allergy, celiac or intolerance. I’ve combined khorasan flour with chickpea flour, which is a gluten-free option, a mix of starches (corn and tapioca), and some flax meal. I also added some xantham gum into my dry ingredients as well as some baking powder. This baking powder is in addition to yeast and it helps the bread rise – gluten-free and low-gluten breads need all the help they can get! I meant mixed all the dry ingredients together before adding them to the bread machine.

Regarding the order of the ingredients, you must follow your bread machine instructions. Mine start with the liquids and end with instant rise yeast that is not supposed to touch the liquids directly, so it always added last into the dry ingredients.

If you have an option to select gluten-free setting, I recommend you use it. If not, you may want to play around with the timing a bit. Gluten-free breads tend to work best when they are allowed to rise only once, so you may want pick an express cycle or do a more manual prep if your machine does not have a gluten-free program. Here, I used French bread setting, 2 lbs (1 kg) loaf size, and medium crust on the basic Oster model.

The result is a very hearty loaf, with a good amount of chew, and a very nice nutty earthiness to it. You can enjoy it as is, with a salad, or with a quick jam, or homemade Nutella. The crunch and the aroma of freshly baked bread can’t be beat!!!

Vegan Kamut and Chickpea Flour Bread Loaf

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup oil, canola

1 3/8 cup (300 ml) water

2 cups khorasan flour, sprouted

3/4 cup chickpea flour

1/2 cup corn starch

1/2 cup tapioca starch

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flax meal

1 1/2 teaspoon xantham gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons quick-rise active yeast

What you’ll do:

loaf

  1. Add water and oil into your bread machine pan.
  2. In a separate mixing bowl mix all dry ingredients except the yeast. Add the dry ingredients to the wet.
  3. Using your finger make a small hole in your dry ingredients and add yeast to it.
  4. Close your bread machine, pick the appropriate cycle keeping in mind that this amount of ingredients is supposed to yield a 2 lbs (1 kg) loaf, and that you should preferably go with a gluten-free bread setting. If unavailable, you can use Express setting if the baking step is at least 40-50 minutes long. If none of this is what your bread machine offers in terms of options, go with the most basic program. You may need to re-adjust so approach this with an open and experimental mind. Remember: your perfect loaf is within your reach!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Plantains and Beans Chili

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Plantains and Beans Chili, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Plantains are those weird looking, giant bananas that look either too green or way past their prime, and usually not very appetizing. But, they are a staple of certain cuisines and I’ve had them while I lived in Ghana, almost exclusively deep fried. Unfortunately, deep fried plantains were not quite to my taste and I stayed away from them until very recently.

I was inspired by a Puerto Rican “lasagna” recipe that used plantains instead of noodles and was happy with the results. Here, I wanted to do something slightly different. I started from really ripe plantains and roasted them without peeling. Then, I made mashed plantains and combined them with plain, white beans (navy beans), and a handful of spices to create a rich and dense chili. Why does this chili work? First of all, plantains are full of starch and relatively sweet, adding lots of great flavor almost as if you were adding molasses. The spices and flavor agents, tomato paste, Chile Lime seasoning bland, and paprika helped the taste along. Lastly, the navy beans worked well here because they added smoothness and creaminess. Sprinkling some fresh cilantro complements the ensemble, and you could also spoon some dairy-free sour cream on top or some plant-based yogurt.

Plantain and Bean Chili

What you’ll need:

4 very ripe plantains, roasted

1/2 lbs (225 g) white beans, cooked or from the can

1 onion, diced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon Chile Lime seasoning bland (this is a product from Trader Joe’s but you can make your own with some chili powder, salt, and lime zest)

1/2 teaspoon paprika

Cooking spray

1/4 cups fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

What you’ll do:

  1. Get ripe plantains – those that have quite a few black areas on them – wash them and place them on a baking sheet without peeling. Roast the plantains at 425 F (220 C) for an hour. Their skins will turn black and they should soften inside.
  2. Let the plantains cool then peel them and mash with a potato masher. You could also put them into a food processor and pulse until fine.
  3. Heat a cast iron pan over the medium high heat. Add the cooking spray, spices, tomato paste, and the diced onion and let everything caramelize well, which could take up to 15 minutes.
  4. Add the plantains and let the bottom start to brown. Mix well and cook for 5 to 8 minutes.
  5. Add the cooked beans – I cook mine in a pressure cooker after soaking them overnight – and let the dish simmer for 10 minutes or so.
  6. Serve with a dash of fresh cilantro, or other types of topping you prefer to use on your chili.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce

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Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Add the chopped scallions, mix them in and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. When all the crêpes are done, arrange them on a platter and enjoy with the dipping sauce (or without!).

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Ever since I’ve decided to transition into 100% plant-based eating, I’ve been going easy on pasta mostly because it is yummy and enjoyable, yet not really all that great for you given the calories and starch. I’ve tried some replacements, like spaghetti squash, which made a great Pad Thai, and black bean pasta, which made an awful base for my “Clam” Sauce.

Of all the things I’ve tried, zucchini noodles are simply the best! They work really well with meatballs or even lighter veggie toppings that I’m thinking of ditching spaghetti all together.

But, there are some dishes that are hard to imagine without pasta, like a very simple yet incredibly delicious pasta salad I made at the height of summer season, and these stuffed jumbo shells right here.

The shells are stuffed with cauliflower “ricotta” and spinach mirroring a very traditional ricotta cheese and spinach stuffed shell recipe. The shells I use here are the “jumbo” kind, and their name is well-deserved. Two or three of these makes a solid serving size, so the recipe below ought to serve four people easy.

The main departure I took from the traditional recipe, which is vegetarian, is to skip the tomato sauce, usually a simple marinara, and to use my own creation, a cauliflower “ricotta” cheese, which makes this recipe dairy-free, vegan, and plant-based.

The cauliflower “ricotta” is inspired by cashew ricotta that I’ve made in the past. I was very curious about whether cauliflower can help the basic cashew ricotta recipe (some great examples here and here), and retain all the creaminess while cutting down the cost (frozen cauliflower is cheaper than raw cashews), and the calories and fat (cauliflower has far less calories than cashews and no fat!).

The cauliflower “ricotta” works well here, and it’s a useful cheese alternative to have for other pasta dishes, or a lasagna. Amazingly, what puts this entire dish over the edge is actually a tiny bit of nutmeg. Just a pinch goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it.

Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

What you’ll need:

16 jumbo shells, boiled

1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen chopped spinach

1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen cauliflower

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the shells and let them boil for 8-10 minutes. Take the shells out, rinse with cold water, and place them aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Cook the cauliflower and spinach according to the instructions on the bag. You can use a microwave or a stove top method and you don’t need to thaw the vegetables but I recommend that you squeeze the access water out before using. Keep the cauliflower and the spinach in separate bowls. Cauliflower should take about 10-15 minutes to cook, and spinach about 5 minutes.
  4. Place the cooked cauliflower, soaked cashews, and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and process until you reach the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  5. Spray the bottom of 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) with cooking spray and pour in 1/2 cup of cauliflower “ricotta” and spread around to cover the bottom.
  6. Using a tablespoon, spoon some cauliflower cheese into a shell, then some spinach, and place into the baking dish. Continue with the rest of the ingredients until all the shells have been filled.
  7. Spread any leftover spinach and/or cauliflower ricotta over the top, spray with a bit more cooking spray, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the top is golden and sides are slightly browned.
  8. Let the stuffed shells rest for 5 minutes before serving then enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes

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Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

One thing that sweet potatoes have going for them is their amazing natural sweetness. Another thing they have going for them  is their price – they are super affordable. And, for those of you keeping a nutritional score, sweet potatoes are an amazing source of vitamins, fiber and even protein.

Speaking from a recipe developer’s perspective, sweet potatoes are a versatile ingredient that lends itself to a range of recipes, from main dishes to desserts. The very first recipe I shared on this blog was the Sweet Potato Butter. More recently, I used sweet potatoes as a key ingredient in a red curry. And now it’s time to introduce Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes.

The key ingredient for the Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes are the roasted sweet potatoes. Roasting sweet potatoes brings out their sweetness and adds nice caramelized overtones. Plus it makes the otherwise hard potatoes easy to mash. You could boil the sweet potatoes as well, or put them in the microwave for ten minutes to soften them up, but none of these methods will help the sweetness fully develop. So, unless you are in a super huge rush do take the time to roast your spuds. What I do is roast the whole pile of sweet potatoes at the same time and stash them into the refrigerator. Then I have a roasted sweet potato on hand to use for all sort of different applications, like these pancakes.

The pancake recipe asks for two large sweet potatoes, and I mean large. They should yield anywhere between cup and a half to two cups of sweet potato purée, so find some good, big specimens for this one. Roasting sweet potatoes could not be easier. You will need to wash the potatoes, pat them dry and place them on a baking sheet – I like to line mine with either parchment paper or aluminum foil to easy cleanup more than anything else. Put the baking sheet into a hot oven – I recommend 425 F (220 C) and roast the potatoes for about thirty to forty five minutes. Take them out and let them cool completely before handling. And thats’ why is handy to have a stockpile of roasted sweet potatoes in your fridge!

One note on the flour. This recipe is gluten-free and uses a combination of white rice flour and corn starch, but if you are not looking to restrict your gluten intake feel free to use all-purpose flour. In that case you can skip corn starch and you don’t need to replace it with anything else. Two cups of all-purpose flour should work well enough.

Gluten-free Sweet Potato Pancakes

What you’ll need:

2 large sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled

2 cups rice flour

3 tablespoons corn starch

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons imitation maple syrup flavor (or vanilla extract)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3 cups vanilla almond milk, unsweetened

Cooking spray (optional)

Topping suggestions: fresh fruit, powdered sugar, jam, maple syrup, vegan butter or cream cheese, nut butter, melted vegan chocolate…

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the ingredients in a large blender or a food processor. Blend untill a smooth, lump-free batter forms. Pour the batter into a large bowl – this will make it easier fo you to ladle out the pancakes. If you don’t a blender or a food processor, all this can be done by hand in an old fashioned, whisk-based sort of way. If you are doing everything by hand, do spend some time on mashing the sweet potatoes – the smoother you get them the better the pancakes. Let the batter rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Place a large frying pan over high heat. You can also use a griddle if you have one. In both cases make sure your surface is nice and hot before using. You could spray with some cooking spray if needed – some pans have a lovely non-stick surface and you can definitely skip the oil.
  3. Pour out half a cup worth of the pancake batter per pancake. This should make 5 inch (12 cm) pancakes, and the amount of batter will be enough to serve 4 to 6 people. After the first 1-2 minutes lower the heat to medium-high and let the pancakes brown. You will know that it is time to flip them when the top surface becomes nice and bubbly and almost dry. Flip the pancakes, let them brown on the other side, which will take just a minute or two, them slide them to a serving plate. To keep the pancakes warm as you work you can keep the done batch in a warm oven or under some foil or a kitchen towel. To get the pan ready for a new batch increase the heat to high, let the pan come up to temperature again and repeat…
  4. Serve warm with any topping you like, fruit, maple syrup, powdered sugar, chocolate syrup… I used sliced banana and a drizzle of softened almond butter. Yummy!!!

Note: These pancakes freeze well, so if you do end up with leftovers, let them cool than place them into a freezer safe bag or container, and you’ll have great pancakes to enjoy on another day. One trick to prevent frozen pancakes for sticking to each other is to use wax paper to separate the pancakes. You can separate them one by one, two by two, three by three, whatever is you preferred serving size. Then, when you are in a need for a quick breakfast, snack or even dessert you can take the batch out with ease. I usually zap mine in a microwave for a minute or so and they are ready. You can also use a toaster oven to heat them up, just remember that the toaster oven will dry them out a bit, so they will come out a bit less soft.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Cream of Carrot Soup


Cream of carrot? How can that be? Well, it can, and it is, and you will not believe how great this soup is. Carrots are the star, to be sure, but what gives the soup its rich creaminess (without any cream) are the white potatoes, and you want to pick nice, starchy potato variety, like the Russets.  The starchier the potato, the creamier the final soup. Usually, the really starchy potatoes don’t hold well to boiling and tend to fall apart. In this case that really does not matter because everything will go into a blender at the end. I do recommend you chop your carrots and potatoes into smaller chunks to speed up the cooking process, but they don’t need to be finely diced.

The potatoes and the carrots cook together with flavor agents, like soy sauce and the Worcestershire sauce, and the spices, like smoked paprika or smoked paprika flakes, garlic powder and ground mustard.  I also suggest you use vegetable stock and not water, because a really great stock will extend the richness of your flavors, while water will dilute them out. In terms of what stock to use exactly, you’ll have to try it out and see what you like. Reduced sodium options are probably the best starting point, and you can always taste a bit of the stock before dumping it into the pot. If the stock is not pleasant to drink, it will probably not make for a pleasant soup to eat. I would stay away from roasted garlic infused or very heavy on spices stocks and go with mild almost bland stocks that you can build on and that will not interfere with all the other ingredients you are using.

This soup is in many ways an extension of me using carrots for as many things as possible, including the summer hit – carrot dogs – and some of my baking, like cookies and muffins.

What helps put this soup over the top is just a sprinkle of fresh dill at the end, and a handful of freshly toasted croutons. With all that in place all that’s left to do is grab a spoon and dig in!

Cream of Carrot Soup

What you’ll need:

6 large carrots

2 potatoes, Russet or white

2 tablespoon oil

2 teaspoon ground mustard powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan)

1 teaspoon steak sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika flakes

4 cups vegetable stock

2 tablespoons dill, fresh


What you’ll do:

  1. Wash, peel and cube carrots and potatoes. Place in a pot, cover with water and boil for about 15 minutes, until vegetables are just soft but not falling apart.
  2. Drain the vegetables, pat dry to absorb as much of the access water as you can, and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the oil, spices and sauces and mix well. Let marinade for 30-60 minutes.
  4. Place all the vegetables and the marinade into a blender and add the vegetable stock. Blend until smooth and silky. You can do this step in the mixing bowl with an immersion blender but I think the regular upright blender produces smoother consistency.
  5. Pour back into the pot and bring to simmer. Let the soup simmer gently for 10 to 20 minutes.
  6. While the soup is simmering you can toast some bread, or make some croutons.
  7. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of fresh dill, and some toast, croutons, bread or even tortilla chips on the side. Mmmmm… good!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios

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Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Like a fabulous supporting actor in a movie, the perfect side dish for a rich, holiday meal is subtle and complementary to the lead actors laid out on the festive table, yet able to make a lasting impression of its own.

This Holiday Quinoa with Cranberries and Pistachios is just that – visually pleasing, with layers of complexity in terms of texture and flavors, yet not overwhelming. Additionally, for anyone putting together a vegan, fully plant-based feast this side dish will add lots of protein to your plate.

Quinoa, just in case you are not familiar with it, is a grain, not a cereal, like wheat, but more like rice, and you would cook it like rice as well. When cooked it actually looks like couscous, and you will need to fork it up the same way. Although quinoa is fine served by itself, given that we are in the midst of fall/winter holiday season I decided to add just a bit to it, by adding some chopped pistachios and some oven-roasted cranberries.

One note on cranberries: fresh cranberries are very tart, and almost impossible to eat without adding a huge amount of sugar to them. I decided to try roasting and that worked to a point. Roasted cranberries are still tart, but a bit of tartness in this dish is actually a nice thing. If you prefer something with less bite, toss your cranberries with some sugar or a sweetener of choice, or simply chop some dried cranberries up – those are most certainly sweet.

Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios

What you’ll need:

1 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

1 shallot, finely diced

1 cup pistachios, chopped

1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries – this will yield about 3/4 cup roasted

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash and sort the cranberries. Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast them for 20-25 minutes. Once soft and slightly browned, take the cranberries out the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.
  3. While cranberries are roasting, cook your quinoa. Mix 1 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, decrease the heat to a gentle simmer and let quinoa cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let quinoa stand for another 10 minutes. Use the fork to fluff up quinoa before using in the next step.
  4. Spray the bottom of a skillet with some cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots and let them sauté for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Once shallots are done, add chopped pistachios and let them toast just slightly, for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the fluffed up quinoa, mix well, and sauté for 5 more minutes or so.
  7. Turn the heat off and mix in the roasted cranberries. Go gently as they will be very soft and falling apart.
  8. Serve warm, and enjoy with some White Wine Gravy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017