Beet, Carrot and Apple Fritters – CSA Week 4

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Beets, Carrots and Apple Latkes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

It’s early July, and here in New England (which is, for those of you who hail from across the globe, a name for the Northeastern-most part of the United States that includes six states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont) the farm activities are in full swing. The greater Boston area is brimming with farms of different size and produce selection. For example, we went cherry picking on July 4th, and ended up with an amazing selection of cherries. We ate a lot, shared some with neighbors, and washed, pitted  and froze the rest. In this way, the frozen cherries are ready for smoothies, sauces or pies later in the year.

What’s in this week’s CSA basket?

At our local farm where we get our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share  the Upswing Farm, the vegetables this week included beets, like it did last week (and I shared  about how to pan roast beets and sauté the beet greens few days ago), carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, yellow and green, cilantro, fennel, and so on and so forth. It was a really great week!

Beets are versatile!

If you are skeptical about beets, don’t be – they are versatile! Yes, you may think that I am saying that because I an Eastern European and there is a bit of a beet culture on the Balkans, but beets really can work in many different ways. In addition to the two recipes I shared last week, beets can be made into a hummus (yummy), used as a salad, sandwich or a veggie burger topping, and also made into tasty burgers (see here, and here for some great beet burger recipes to try). And they are an essential, as in not-to-be-skipped-under-any-circumstance, ingredient for fabulous BBQ ribs, either those made with wheat gluten or gluten-free.

So, how about beet fritters?

And this brings us to these fritters. Without a doubt, vegetable, and in some cases fruit, fritters are ubiquitous. Every cuisine has a recipe or two that fall into this category and take advantage of ingredients in season, often times potatoes, zucchini, squash, carrots, a grater, a bit of flour and usually some eggs, to make a quick meal. So, how about beet fritters? And how about vegan and gluten-free? Well, the recipe here answers these question in affirmative.

Chia seeds and flaxseed meal as binding agents

Grated beets, carrots and the apple make the body of these fritters. The easiest way to grate them is using a large grating attachment on your food processors, although, of course, grating by hand will work too! You don’t need to cooked the beets first, but do peel and wash them, as well as the carrots – apple is the only ingredient that does not require peeling. Just before you start grating you should start soaking your flaxseed meal by combining flaxseed meal with hot water in 1 to 3 ratio. Because the grated fruits and veggies have high moisture content, they do need extra binding agents and that’s why I recommend using quite a bit of flaxseed meal as well as chia seeds. Together, flaxseed meal and chia seeds work together to created fritters that hold their shape well without any eggs or flour.

Don’t forget the spices

I recommend using lime juice and zest, as well as freshly grated ginger and finely chopped fresh cilantro to enhance the flavors. The result are light fritters with interesting texture and

 

 

Beet, Carrot and Apple Fritters

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal (you can use other types of flaxseed meal as well)

3/4 cup hot water

2 cups shredded carrots (4-6 carrots depending on size)

2 cups shredded beets (3-4 beets or so)

1 shredded Granny Smith apple

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 lime, zest an juice

1/2 inch ginger root, grated

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Oil or cooking spray for the pan

Extra lime slices, coarsely ground black pepper and/or apple sauce for serving

What you’ll do:

  1. Place the flaxseed meal and hot water into a bowl and mix well. Let the “flax egg” rest for at least 10 minutes. The final result will be a very gooey mix that will work together with chia seeds to bind the fritters together.
  2. While the “flax egg” is resting, grate beets, carrots and an apple by hand or using a food processor equipped with a grating attachment, then transfer into a large mixing bowl. Add all the rest of ingredients, including the “flax egg”, mix well and let stand for 20-30 minutes. This resting time is needed for chia seeds to soak the extra liquid released by the grated beets, carrots and apple, and transform into a gel-like substance.
  3. Place a large pan over high heat and let it get nice and hot. Add oil or some cooking spray – if you do have a great non-stick pan you can omit the oil – and place small firm patties in. To form a patty, take about 1/4 cup worth of your mix, and using your hands form a 1/2 inch thick patty. Brown over high heat for 2 minutes then lower the heat down to medium and continue browning for 3 more minutes.
  4. Flip the patties over and brown on the other side for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Serve warm as a side dish, or even as an alternative to breakfast pancakes. These fritters go well with yogurt, as well as maple sauce, and I bet they would be delicious cold as well!
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Beet, Carrot and Apple Fritters, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow on Pinterest

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

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

Tapioca Pearls with Spicy Almonds and Toasted Coconut

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Tapioca Pearls (Sabudana) with Spicy Almonds and Toasted Coconut, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Most people probably think “bubble tea” when they hear “tapioca pearls”. But these delicious little pearls are definitely worth getting to know more intimately, especially in the context of gluten free cooking. They are inexpensive and very simple to make. They actually require no cooking – just soaking – so although no cooking skills are required, some level of patience (and a good amount of time) is.

Before we go any further lets try to answer this questions first: “What are tapioca pearls?”. They can come in different sizes and colors. The ones I will focus here are white and small, close to the size of Israeli couscous. But unlike the couscous, which is made with wheat and thus off limits for those watching their gluten intake, tapioca pearls are made from starch extracted from cassava root. So, they are little starch balls when all is said and done. Think micro potatoes that don’t need peeling!

If you are into Indian food, you have likely already had some tapioca pearls because they are often used to make desserts, like kheer pudding. Earlier this summer I had some homemade Sabudana Khichdi and I loved it. Sabudana Khichdi is a traditional dish and usually consumed during Hindu fast days. The dish includes tapioca pearls, finely chopped, cooked potatoes, finely chopped peanuts, finely grated coconut flakes, and a nice combination of spices (curry leaf, cumin seeds and green chilis). There are some variations on the recipe and the ingredients may vary depending on whethe Sabudana Khichdi is served during the fast or outside the fasting days, and my friend who made the dish for us also mentioned that a more protein-rich version of Sabudana Khichdi can be made using quinoa, and she suggested I check a blog by another friend of hers called Indfused, which I did and so should you, especially if you are interested in creative Indian/American fusion cooking (FYI: Infused is not a vegan blog, so keep that in mind).

Back to the the version of Sabudana Khichdi I had – it was a delicious addition to our summer cook out and prompted me to get some tapioca pearls of my own and start experimenting. The recipe below is the second iteration and deviates from the original recipe quite a bit. I took some liberties so my Tapioca Pearl Salad is Sabudana Khichdi inspired, but not meant to be “traditional” in any way. First point of difference is that I left the potatoes out. In my view, leaving potatoes out does not affect the taste nor the nutritional profile of the dish, yet saves some time and effort. I also left the peanuts out and replaces them with slivered almonds. I used slightly different spice mix, to make the dish a bit more fragrant. Finally, I toasted my coconut flakes, because in my mind coconut is just better toasted!

The key to making tapioca pearls is patience. All you need to do is rinse the pearls in cold water, then soak them in enough cold water, usually in 1:2 ratio (for example 1 cup pearls and 2 cups water), for 2-3 hours. How do you know they are ready? They should feel loose, not stuck together, and soft, yet slightly chewy, to bite – think pasta al dente. You can go a bit further if you prefer softer texture, but you do want your pearls to remain pearly, not mushy, so don’t overdo it.

Now a key to make the dish really flavorful and spices vibrant, is toasting the spices. I use a frying pan here, and, although you can dry toast the spices, I do add a bit of oil in this case and let the spices toast for one to two minutes before adding the almonds to finish it off. I pour the toasted spice and almond mix over the drained tapioca pearls, instead the other way round, but that’s more of a personal preference I suppose. The toasted coconut flakes come next, and the chopped fresh cilantro is the final touch. You can serve this dish immediately, you can heat it up more and serve hot, or you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight and serve it cold. It actually works across the range of temperatures so it could work as a surprising pasta salad at your next picnic. It is a great, easy and inexpensive dish to make for your next pot luck or any other get together!

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Tapioca Pearls with Spicy Almonds and Toasted Coconut, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

 Tapioca Pearls with Almonds and Toasted Coconut Flakes

What you’ll need:

2 cups tapioca pearl

4 cups water

1 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup coconut flakes or shreds, unsweetened

2 tablespoon vegetable (or canola) oil

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped


What you’ll do:

  1. Rinse the tapioca pearls under cold water and place into a large bowl. Cover with water and let stand for 2 to 3 hours. The pearls will absorb water and they should become soft and al dente.
  2. Drain the pearls well, pat dry with a paper towel and put into a large mixing bowl that you will use for serving as well. You can use the same bowl you used for soaking just remember to dry it well in the meantime.
  3. Heat the oil over medium high in a large frying pan. Add the dry spices (cumin, curry and turmeric powder) and toast in oil for 1 minute.
  4. Add slivered almonds and toast for another 2 to 3 minutes, until almonds start to brown.
  5. Pour the hot almond and spice mix over tapioca pearls and mix well.
  6. Toast coconut flakes in a toaster oven or a frying pan for 2-3 minutes. You need to keep an eye on your coconut flakes as they go from beautifully toasted to inedible in a blink of an eye! If you are using the frying pan, you can use the same pan you just used for almonds and spices, just don’t add extra oil as coconut flakes should be fatty enough.
  7. Add hot, toasted coconut flakes to your tapioca pearls and mix well.
  8. Let the mix stand for couple minutes and while those flavors are combining, wash and chop fresh cilantro.
  9. Sprinkle the cilantro over your tapioca pearls, mix again and serve!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Miso Glazed Tempeh, From the Grill!

Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you have not done so already, you should definitely try tempeh. I’ve been hearing about it for some time now, and seeing several different brands and varieties right next to the tofu that I usually get but I only got the first batch of tempeh just the other day. I bought several different varieties to try them out and spent few days reading about what’s tempeh good for and how to best cook with it. Tempeh is related to tofu because both are soy based. But, in terms of flavor and texture (and as far as I can tell in terms of how you actually make the two, based on what Wikipedia says), tofu and tempeh are quite different. Tempeh is firm, much firmer than the firmest tofu, and does not come in liquid. It is actually fermented soy beans mixed with rice [edited after reading comment from Mary S below – thanks Mary S, it’s good to get the facts all squared away. I am still a bit confused since the ingredients’ list of the tempeh I used did include rice; at the end of the day my confusion does not matter change the fact that the food was delicious], so although it is dry, it does feel sticky to touch and just a bit slimy. FYI: I am not saying this to freak you out, rather to forewarn you so that you are not as surprised when you start handling it as I was – I thought my tempeh has gone bad and wanted to throw it out! But, I double-checked the date on the bag, regained my cool and went for it.

I decided to start simple and build from there, so this Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh is more or less my starting point. The brand of tempeh I got is Lightlife and the two varieties I started with are their Organic Garden Veggie and Organic Soy Tempeh. Each package is half a pound (about 250 g), and the block of tempeh comes in a vacuumed-sealed package, that’s within a sealed plastic bag, so there are two bags to remove! I used both blocks at the same time, since one just did not seem enough to make for the end of the week Friday dinner.

The first thing I did was to fire up the grill. I have a gas grill and it takes it about ten to fifteen minutes to get to be sizzling hot, with burners going at full blast and the lid down. That was just enough time for me to prep the tempeh and the glaze. For tempeh, I placed the pieces into a pan large enough to keep the pieces flat, covered with water, brought to boil and boiled for four to five minutes per side – I did flip the pieces over once since the pan I was using was shallow and the water did not fully cover the tempeh, so if your tempeh is fully covered you will not need to do the flip! After about ten minutes I took the tempeh out, pat dried the pieces, and left them uncovered on some paper towels.

While the tempeh was boiling and the grill was heating up, I mixed together a simple glaze with some soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white miso glaze and vegetable oil. I spread the glaze over the tempeh pieces just before placing them on the grill the glazed side down. Then I glazed the top and let it grill for about five to six minutes. By that time the grill marks will be perfect, and the pieces ready to be flipped. I did reglaze both sides again and flipped again, so that at the end each side got two layers of glaze and about eight to ten minutes of grilling, so in total the grilling bit took less than twenty minutes. If you are in a rush, you can definitely skip the reglazing, but if you are outside hanging around the grill with friends and family and enjoying the lovely summer evening, then why not give tempeh extra love, glaze and grill time?

Let grilled tempeh rest for just a second, then slice and serve. You can serve it in a hamburger or a hot dog bun with the usual trimmings, but note that condiments, like mustard and ketchup, are going to overpower the flavor of the grilled tempeh. So, I recommend serving tempeh with a side of coleslaw and baked, or barbecue beans, which is how I had mine. Add to that a glass of cold beverage of choice, and what can be better?

Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh Sliced, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh

What you’ll need:

2 8 oz (227 g) blocks of tempeh (any variety and brand you like)

2 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium

2 tablespoons white miso paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan)

Oil for oiling the grill grates


What you’ll do:

  1. Prepare your grill like you normally do. I recommend getting the grill really hot and letting any bits and pieces from the previous grill session burn off, then scrapping the grates with an appropriate type of a brush (please be careful here because you can really damage your grill grates if you don’t follow the manufactures instructions and recommendations), and then oil them generously with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil – please use long tongs here to prevent getting burned!
  2. Take tempeh out of the wrapping and palace in a pan large enough to hold it flat and straight. Cover with water, bring to boil and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure you flip the tempeh half way through if your tempeh is not fully submerged in water. If it is, no mid-way flipping is needed!
  3. While tempeh is boiling and the grill is getting hot, mix together the glaze by whisking together soy sauce, vegetable oil, miso paste and Worcestershire sauce. The glaze should be smooth, but even if you have few lumps in there don’t worry about it – it won’t matter at the end.
  4. Place the boiled tempeh onto some paper towels and gently dry.
  5. Using a (silicone) food brush spread the glaze liberally ove the tempeh and place the piece of tempeh glaze side down on the hot grill. Keep the gas grill on medium high heat, or if you are using a charcoal grill keep it as hot as you would when grilling vegetables, veggie burgers, or mushroom or tofu steaks. Grill the glazed tempeh 5 to 6 minutes on one side, and while it is grilling apply the glaze on the other side, flip over, grill for 4 to 5 minutes, glaze, flip, grill, repeat for as long as you like.
  6. Let stand for just a moment or two, slice and serve!!! This Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh will work as an appetizer, finger food, as well as dinner, especially with some grilled corn, veggies, coleslaw, baked or barbecue beans, or as a salad topping…

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Spicy and Cheesy Corn Muffins

 

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Spicy and Cheesy Corn Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Corn bread and corn muffins are a great way to enjoy freshly baked bread but without the agony of waiting for dough to rise and wondering whether the yeast is still alive. Corn bread and corn muffins are also very customizable – you can make them into a sweet tasting treat or you can add savory ingredients and make them into a complex tasting appetizers or breakfast items.These corn muffins are spicy, thanks to a good amount of fire roasted green chili peppers and vegan pepper Jack cheese. They also include a secret ingredient- pickles! Pickles add a bit of acidity and crunch to the muffins, pushing them over the edge of plain and into the area of edgy and fabulous.

What can you serve these with? Well, they go really well with a chili or a soup like the Bean & Leek Soup with Soy Chorizo, or Balkan Cabbage and Bean Stew. The muffins are somewhat similar to Balkan Style Cornbread but they do use green chilis and pickles whit gives them a very specific and spicy flavor. This means that they work well as appetizers, especially when paired with some guacamole. They are great for breakfast or a quick snack, and would complete any salad. They are best fresh from the oven, but should keep well for couple of days.

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Spicy, and oh, so cheesy, Corn Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Spicy and Cheesy Corn Muffins

What you’ll need:

1 1/2 cups yellow corn meal

1/2 cup corn starch

1 cup rice flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 pickles, finely chopped

4 oz (113 g) fire roasted diced green chiles

1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese, vegan

1 1/4 cup seltzer water

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F (205 C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients except seltzer water and mix well.
  3. Add 1 cup of water and mix. Keep adding the last 1/4 cup gradually to make sure your batter is smooth but not runny. Let stand for 10 min.
  4. Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray and divide the batter into 12 even amounts.
  5. Place the muffins in the oven for 10 min, then lower the heat to 350 F (180 C) and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes.
  6. These corn muffins come out bright yellow and are ready to eat after you let stand and cool for 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Best DIY Sushi Ever!

Best DIY Sushi
Best DIY Sushi Rolls with Minty Peas & Red Cabbage, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you think that making sushi requires hours of practice, one-on-one instruction from a sushi master chef and special equipment… well, you may be right if your goal is to make sushi that contains fish or seafood, especially given health risks involved. But, if you want to explore the wonderful and delightful world of plant-based sushi, all you need is about an hour or two, and some imagination.

I made my first vegan maki sushi, the kind where filling and rice are wrapped in sea weed, few months ago, and I really enjoyed the process and the flavors. I got inspired to start thinking about what ingredients would work together well, and whether there are any dipping sauces I could use to complement the sushi.

The results of this brainstorming are before you: Green & Orange Sushi Rolls and Peas & Cabbage Sushi Rolls, with Peanut Dipping Sauce and Sour Lemongrass Dipping Sauce.

The basic requirement for a great sushi is plenty of sticky rice. You can get special sushi rice but you can also use any short and medium grain variety of rice. For sushi, I use the same rice I use for risottos. The trick is to add the rice to boiling water, reduce the heat and let the rice gently simmer with occasional mixing.

Finally, leaving the rice to cool will help you handle it as well as help the rice get nice and very sticky. I recommend dipping your hands in water before handling the rice and then keep wetting them as you spread and press the rice.

One other thing you need to pay attention to is what side of seaweed sheet you pile your rice on. It should be the one that feels slightly rough, so that your outside is nice a smooth. What I discovered is that you don’t really need the bamboo sushi rolling mat or any special equipment. The main thing to remember is to go easy on the stuffing so your rolls don’t end up to full. This will make them hard to roll and more likely to rip. I hope you go for these vegan versions of sushi, or create your own. There really is no limit and no rules!

DIY Sushi with Two Dipping Sauces

What you’ll need:

FOR THE STICKY RICE

1 cup short or medium grain rice

2 cups water

FOR GREEN & ORANGE SUSHI ROLLS

1 1/2 cup cooked rice

3 seaweed (nori) sheets

1 carrot

1 English cucumber

1 avocado

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup black sesame seeds

FOR CABBAGE AND PEAS SUSHI ROLLS

1 1/2 cup cooked rice

3 seaweed (nori) sheets

2 cups peas, frozen

2 cups water

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1 cup fresh mint leaves

FOR PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE

2 tablespoons peanut butter, unsalted

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sriracha(or other hot sauce)

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons panko, toasted

FOR LEMONGRASS DIPPING SAUCE

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemongrass, finely chopped

1 teaspoon ginger, grated

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring 2 cups of water to boil and add the rice. Lower the heat to gentle simmer and cook the rice, stirring occasionally, until all the water is absorbed, and the grains are soft. Set to the side and let it cool.
  2. In another pot bring 2 cups of water to boil and add frozen peas. Cook until well done for about 15 minutes.
  3. While rice and peas are cooking, put together the dipping sauces. In a medium size bowl, combine all the peanut sauce ingredients, except panko, and mix well to combine. Toast panko in the toaster oven, or in a pan over high heat, for 1-2 minutes. Top the peanut dipping sauce with toasted panko.
  4. In another bowl, combine all the ingredients for the lemongrass dipping sauce and set aside.
  5. Prepare your roll stuffers, like cucumbers, carrots, avocados or anything else you like. The trick is to make your veggie sticks long and thin.
  6. To make the red cabbage, place finely shredded red cabbage in a bowl and add all the rest of the ingredients except mint leaves. Mix everything well using your hands. Squeezing the cabbage as you mix will help soften it and make it absorb flavors better. Let the cabbage “marinate” for 30 to 60 minute.
  7. When peas are fully cooked drain and purée them.
  8. Once the rice is cool it is safe to handle. Place a piece of the seaweed sheet on the flat kitchen surface rough surface up. Place 1/2 cup of sticky rice on the sheet. Spread the rice to cover most of the seaweed sheet using your wet hands. Next, place the topping on 3/4 of the way towards one end of the sheet, and start rolling from that edg, slowly and gently. The roll should come together nicely.Cut the roll into sushi piece. One note on peas and cabbage rolls: spread the pea purée across entire rice and the pickled cabbage and mint leaves in a single line, 2/3 of the way from the edge.
  9. Serve the sushi with the two dipping sauces, some pickled ginger and wasabi paste. Enjoy!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Blueberry Cheesecake 2.0, a Real Space-Age Treat

Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake
Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

First time I had cheesecake I was twenty five! Yes, it’s true – I spent the first twenty five years of my life in a blissful ignorance, completely unaware that cheesecakes existed. But, soon after moving to US I did partake on a slice and fell in love immediately and over the years things just better and better.

First of all, cheesecakes are easy to make. They are also very versatile because you can customize them in many different ways. I used to make pumpkin cheesecake topped with baked apples and pecan caramel for Thanksgiving because pumpkin pie is sort of boring.

My other favorite cheesecake I used to make was plain vanilla topped with homemade blueberry syrup. So one night, as I was making myself a light dessert of blueberry smoothie, I got inspired to try and make Cheesecake 2.0 – the 21st century version that is dairy-free, gluten-free, and egg-free.

Being the space age type of dessert, this recipe uses an ingredient that you can’t find in a grocery store: agar powder. Chemically speaking, agar is a sugar polymer and I’ve used it a great deal to make many, probably thousands, of agar plates in Petri dishes, which I then used to grow bacterial cultures. (For those interested in the source, agar is isolated from algae (seaweed), so although not of plant origin, I think it is safe to say that definitely plant-like in many ways and not animal-derived.)

So, when I discovered that agar has a culinary application I was skeptical. But when I thought about what I need agar to do – act as a jelling agent in the same way gelatin would – I concluded that my skepticism was not founded in reality and chemical facts but some silly prejudice. Thus, I bought a small jar of agar powder and I’ve been using it to make hard (and shreddable) cheese quite successfully. In this recipe I took agar powder a step further and used it as the firming agent for the cheesecake. It did the trick and the result was a yummy cake with excellent smooth yet firm texture.

Blueberry Cheesecake 2.0
Blueberry Cheesecake for the 21st Century, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Blueberry Cheesecake 2.0

What you’ll need:

FOR THE CRUST

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cashews

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegan Butter

FOR THE CHEESECAKE FILLING

2 cups blueberries, frozen

1/2 cup oatmeal

1 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk, unsweetened

4 teaspoon agar

2 cups water

What you’ll do:

  1. Use a grinder or a food processor to grind walnuts and cashews to a relatively fine meal.
  2. Pour the ground nuts into an 8 to 9 in (20 to 23 cm) round springform pan.
  3. Add brown sugar and mix well.
  4. Add melted vegan butter (30 sec in a microwave should be enough to melt this amount) and using your fingers mix the melted butter in so that all of your nut and sugar mix is moist. Press the mix into the bottom of the pan to form a crust. Set aside.
  5. In a large blender mix almond milk, blueberries and oatmeal until smooth.
  6. To prepare agar powder, bring 2 cups of water to boil and add the agar. Use a whisk to mix everything together lower the heat to simmer and keep mixing and simmering for 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Add hot agar to the blender in small batches, 1/2 cup at a time. Pause to incorporate then add more until the entire amount of agar is incorporated.
  8. Pour the filling into the springform pan and use a spatula or a flat spoon to spread around and flatten the top.
  9. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, best overnight.
  10. Pop it out of the springform pan, cut and serve as is, or with fruit and/or vegan whip cream. I made one from chickpea water (aquafaba), but you can make any one you like or skip it!

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Basic Pad Thai is a simple noodle dish, where wide rice noodles are mixed with eggs and chopped peanuts, then sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes, lime juice and chopped scallions (green onions) and sometimes fresh cilantro. The whole dish comes together in five to ten minutes and can be eaten as is, or customized with a range of toppings so it is definitely a very popular dish found in every Thai restaurant.

Although it is relatively straightforward to find the right type of rice noodles that are typically used in Pad Thai, I decided to explore whether spaghetti squash would work. Spaghetti squash is a squash that, as the name suggests, has a stringy flesh structure that can be forked into a noodle-like structures. The texture of these noodles is softer than the regular pasta, and they are usually shorter but the flavor is rich and delicious, and the nutritional facts are definitely on the side of the squash when compared to either rice noodles that one would use in Pad Thai or any other pasta.

One down side to using spaghetti squash in a recipe like Pad Thai is that squash needs to be roasted first, which means that a five to ten minute recipe all of a sudden becomes a sixty to ninety minute recipe. Still, I recommend you give it a try especially as the hands on time is not as intense.

Are there any tricks to spaghetti squash? No, not really. The only two tips that are worth mentioning is to roast the squash cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and to let the roasted squash cool as it will help with handling the squash as well help the squash noodles come out better defined.

To make this into vegan Pad Thai, I recommend using extra firm tofu instead of eggs. You don’t need to press it, but do let it drain for just a bit. Otherwise it may make your Pad Thai too mushy.

One final modification to the traditional Pad Thai recipe I made is using peanut butter in the sauce and some chopped cashews for the topping. Reason for this? I ran out of peanuts!

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

What you’ll need:

1 medium spaghetti squash, 1 to 1.5 lbs (about 500 to 700 g)

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons lime juice

14 oz. (400 g) extra firm tofu

7 scallions (green onions), finely sliced

1/3 cup cashews, chopped

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

    1. Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C).
    2. Wash the spaghetti squash, wipe dry and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to clean out the seeds.
    3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place spaghetti squash on the parchment paper, cut side down. Place in the oven and let roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Check with a knife and it goes in without resistance your squash is done. Take it our of the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Be patient because the squash needs to be cool to handle.
    4. Once cool, take half of the squash, flip over and using a large fork go in and pull the flesh to make the “spaghetti”.
    5. Spray the bottom of a large pan or wok with cooking spray and place it over medium-high heat. Add garlic and let the garlic aroma develop, which will take about 1-2 minutes.
    6. Add soy sauce and peanut butter. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
    7. Add spaghetti squash and mix with the sauce. Here, I recommend using a pair of tongs to gently fold the squash into the sauce. Once the two are well incorporated add tofu that you have crumbled to small bits that look like scrambled eggs.
    8. Mix everything well together and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
    9. Turn the heat off, add the lime juice, scallions and cashews.
    10. If you like to add some heat you can use crushed red pepper flakes, or a dash of sriracha sauce. You can also top with fresh cilantro for some added freshness.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins

GlutenfreeCarrotCakeMuffins_DONE
Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Baking does not come easy to me and gluten-free vegan baking is even more difficult. But, creating a recipe for carrot cake muffins that fits into my philosophy of vegan cooking with minimal amount of added sugar was hard to resist. This recipe is simple and uses simple ingredients like carrots, apples, walnuts, and raisins. It also uses couple of ingredients that make this gluten-free and vegan, like flex meal, rice flour, and tapioca starch.

The result is a recipe that is fun to make, and works well as a family activity that can teach very young children about measurements and mixing, as well as using some basic kitchen equipment. Because the recipe uses ingredients that don’t require cooking to be edible (like carrots, apples, raisins) and don’t pose any health risk, unlike common muffin recipes that use eggs, the recipe is very worry-free when it comes to licking the bowl and spatula, putting messy hands in the mouth, or other types of ad hoc tasting that young chefs gravitate to.

One tip for making this into a smooth sailing assembly line is to use the food processor to do most of the work, and start by chopping carrots, followed by apple, then move to walnuts. Additionally, starting the flex meal vegan egg mix prior to all the chopping is a good idea as well. Finally, the mix will be sticky so do spray your muffin tin liners with some cooking spray. It will help peel the wraps off, and has minimal impact on fat content or the baking process.

This recipe makes 12 large muffins, and each muffin is very filling so you may want to start here and scale up if you find the muffins irresistible (which you will!). Do these muffins need frosting? I don’t think so, but if you’d like some then a frosting with a hint of orange zest would work really well and build on a bit of orange juice that I use in the batter.

Gluten-free Vegan Carrot Cake Muffins

What you’ll need (makes 12 muffins):

3 large carrots

1 Granny Smith apple

2/3 cup walnuts

2/3 cup raisins

2/3 cup shredded coconut flakes, unsweetened

2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca starch

2 tablespoons flex meal

6 tablespoons warm water

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Mix flax meal with warm water and set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Wash and peel the carrots. Using a food processor grind the carrots to a fine grind. Put the ground carrots in a large mixing bowl. Core (but don’t peel) the apple. Grind it to a fine grind and add to the carrots. Next, grind walnuts to a fine meal. Add to carrots and apple mix.
  4. Add the flex meal that has by now become a very gooey and viscous to the carrot-apple-walnut mix. Continue to add the rest of the ingredients except the orange juice. Mix well and check for consistency. The mix should be soft and wet, but not so fluid that it runs from the spoon. Use orange juice to adjust and go easy as you may discover that you need to use more or less than 1/2 cup I list here. The total amount will depend a bit on how large and juicy your apple is!
  5. Leave the mix to rest for 10-15 minutes.
  6. Line the bottom of your muffin tin with liners and spray with cooking spray. Fill them with 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the mix.
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes then check for doneness using a toothpick. If the inserted toothpick comes out dry, you are done. If not, proceed for another 10-15 minutes.
  8. Take out of the oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes. If you plan to frost them let them cool completely before taking the next step. For a good vegan frosting recipe you can try one that uses coconut oil and add some orange zest for add kick!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017