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

Gluten-free Vegan BBQ Ribs

F3265A16-4525-47CB-BDAF-363E0887C4BE
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

Broiled Vegan Koftas

img_3533
Broiled Vegan Koftas, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Although it may seem like a mission impossible, recreating meat like appearance, consistency and even the taste with plant-based ingredients is not all that hard. The basis for many of my meatless recipes are mushrooms. I usually use baby portobello mushrooms, also known as the crimini mushrooms, but white button mushrooms would work just as well. Very often I grind the mushrooms into a paste and this also helps with the final meat-like vibe of a dish. Finally, I cook the dish with the same spices and in the same way as someone would a meat version of the same recipe.

The meatless Shepherd’s Pie I made some time ago nicely illustrates these tips. For that recipe I used mushrooms and lentils, as the key umami components, and combined them with herbs that you would typically use in this pie – thyme and plenty of rosemary. What you see and smell will evoke the right memories and experiences, so by the time you have the first bite your brain is already convinced it’s having meat.

Here I use all those strategies to make koftas, which are sort of flat-ish lamb meatballs placed on a skewer and grilled. Minced mushrooms give the right level of umami and TVP (textured vegetable protein) gives the koftas structure. One note on the TVP – instructions usually say that you need to soak the TVP flakes before using which is true for many applications but not for this one. Use dry TVP and mix it with minced mushrooms and the rest of the ingredients to get to the right consistency for the koftas. After all they will need to go on the skewers and need to be robust enough for broiling on high. I did add some bread crumbs to the mix as well, as an extra binding agent. If you are not a fan of bread crumbs, you could add oats, or some corn meal.

Koftas need to be shaped by hand, and the skewers gently threaded through. Ideally, the skewers you are using are long enough to rest on the edges of your broiler pan (see picture below) so that you can turn them midway through broiling and get all sides well browned. I can’t recommend the bamboo skewers I used here – by the end of the broiling they were all black band falling apart – so metal ones seem like a much better idea.

Serve Broiled Vegan Koftas with some Saffron Cauliflower Rice, and with a spoonful of mint chutney, and you will have yourself a great, well-rounded meal.

Broiled Vegan Koftas

What you’ll need:

10 oz (280 g) white button mushrooms

10 oz (280 g) TVP

1 cup bread crumbs, plain, gluten-free

4 cloves garlic

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons coriander powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large food processor, mix all the ingredients (except the cooking spray) and pulse to mix and combine. Let this mixture stand for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour.
  2. Start your broiler on “HI” or use the outdoor grill if you like.
  3. Line a broiler pan with some foil. You don’t need the top grate part that broiler pans usually have so leave it aside.
  4. Using your hands take about 1/2 cup worth of koftas’ mix and form an elongated oblong shape about 1 1/2 in (3-4 cm) wide then pierce it with a skewer. These koftas are gentle so handle them with care. You may need to adjust the amount of bread crumbs, or add some flex meal as a blunder. Leaving them in a fridge or freezer to firm up will help them hold their shape. Place the skewers on a broiler pan making sure their ends rest on the pan’s rim and the koftas don’t touch the bottom (see picture above).
  5. Broil on high for 5-8 minutes than turn over to broil on the other side.
  6. Let koftas cool just for a moment then serve with some rice, Saffron Cauliflower Rice, or a mild yogurt, like almond or cashew ones.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Avocado Burgers

You probably know that veggie burgers are going through somewhat of a revolution, with companies like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, leading the way within US in creating plant-based products that taste and look like the real meat.  I have not had an Impossible Burger yet, but I can attest to Beyond Burger being everything its creators wanted it to be – a plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes like fresh ground beef burger. It is absolutely spot on, thanks to some interesting protein biochemistry and biophysics that transfrorms pea protein into ground beef, as well as the use of plenty of fat for that greasy burger feeling, and a good amount of salt. And fat and salt are likely two components of this burger that, in addition to getting the texture of the protein component just right, make this type of burger so realistic and so delicious and so addictive.

Indulging in one of these burgers as an occasional treat is all fine and good, but making it on a daily basis is almost us unhealthy as eating the beef patty. That’s why I’ve been focusing on creating plant burgers (call them veggie burgers if you like) that can work on a grill or in a grill pan, look very burgery, and taste great without huge amounts of salt and fat. My blog now has the entire section dedicated to Burgers, Hot Dogs & More. Some of the burgers I made taste very much like a beef patty, some less so… At the end, what I discovered is that plant burger needs to pass two tests in order to qualify for being on my plate: it has to hold its shape well and sustain grilling on the grill or in a grill pan, and it has to taste amazing. Any burger that checks those two boxes off deserves to be shared!

The patty I am sharing today has three twists. Twist number one is that I decided to try using avocados as a fat source to add some juiciness to the burgers. Avocados, also known as Alligator Pear – isn’t that awesome? – are not something I ever considered cooking with but we recently had a huge avocado sales in my local grocery store and I got more than I should and there is a limit to how much avocado toasts one can eat in a week, so I was looking for something else to do with them. The idea to try making a burger with avocados was inspired by their high fat content and their creamy consistency (when they are ripe and perfect). I did quite a few internet searchers to see what other have done, but I could not find a single recipe that used avocados inside the actual burger patty. So, off I went to see if Avocado Burgers can be made into reality.

My twist number two is one of my favorite tricks to add umami flavor to just about anything – finely ground mushrooms. They work wonders in a dish like Meatless Shepherd’s Pie, or more generally any time you want to recreate that special “je ne sais quoi” of ground beef.

Final twist to this story is using extra firm tofu that has been frozen for few days than thawed all the way over the course of one to two days in the refrigerator. Freezing and defrosting tofu changes its texture daramatically. The tofu becomes tougher and stronger, and it absorbs the marinades and flavors better. There are no tricks to freezing tofu in my kitchen as I just put the container tofu comes in from the store into the freezer, but if you need a more refined method The Spruce has detailed step by step instructions. Before you use tofu, drain it well and then dig in – use your hands to press and squeeze and get the excess water out. I suppose you could use the tofu press for this or a method where you place tofu slices between paper towels and place a large weight on top for twenty minutes, but because tofu that’s been frozen then defrosted has this tougher and stronger texture, using your hands actually works quite well. Plus, you can easily go from squeezing to crumbling, which is the next step. At the end you will end up with a pile of small tofu crumbles.

To this pile of crumbles you will add mashed avocado, ground mushrooms, tomato paste, and couple of staples when it comes to boosting umami and grilled food flavors: soy sauce or liquid aminos, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke. The patties will be soft so it is a good idea to stick them into the fridge or a freezer to firm up before cooking. I felt like pairing only some crispy lattice with this burger but pickles, mustard, ketchup, tomatoes, and all the other common burger fixings will go well with it too!

Avocado Burger

What you’ll need:

1 16 oz. (450 g) block of extra firm tofu, frozen then thawed

8 oz. (225 g) crimini (baby bella) mushrooms

1 large avocado, ripe

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, vegan

1 tablespoon soy sauce or liquid aminos

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

Cooking spray (for the pan)

What you’ll do:

  1. Freeze the tofu few days in advance and when completely frozen take it out of the freezer and leave it in refrigerator for a day or two, until completely defrosted. Drain the tofu and using your hands squeeze the water out of tofu. The tofu should feel like a relatively tough sponge soaked with water at the beginning, and at the end it should feel moist but not dripping wet. Crumble the tofu into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Chop the mushrooms using a food processor until they are finely ground. Few chunkier bits here and there will not hurt but try to get the mushrooms to be about the same consistency as your tofu crumbles. Add to the tofu.
  3. Cut and peel the avocado, and scoop out the green flesh into a small bowl and mash with the fork until finely mashed. Ideally the avocado should be as smooth as you can get it, and if you are using a perfectly ripe avocado this should not be a problem. Side note: If you discover that your avocado is tough that means that it is not ripe enough. If your avocado is turning black it means that it is past its prime. Unfortunately, when it comes to avocados only the perfectly ripe, perfectly green and perfectly soft will work, for this or any other recipe. If your avocados are tough to touch it means they need to ripen and you can help them out by putting them in a paper bag, closing it tightly and leaving them on the kitchen counter overnight. That usually helps – and if they are really, really green you can a ripe banana to the bag to help avocados along. 
  4. Add the avocado purée to the tofu mix, as well as the rest of ingredients.
  5. Mix well to combine using your hands. You want to work the mix a bit, which means squeezing and mixing at the same time. Once everything is combined together, use your hands to form patties. Place the patties onto a tray lined with wax paper, and put them into the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes or into a freezer for 15 minutes or so.
  6. Heat your grill pan or a cast iron skillet over the medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add 2-3 patties at a time. You need to leave enough room around tha patties to be able to flip them so keep that in mind. Cook on one side for 5 minutes then flip over and cook for another 4-5 minutes, until both sides are nice and brown.
  7. Serve on your favorite hamburger bun with your favorite toppings. And in case you have couple of avocados still left over, go wild – slice them up, toss them on top, and have yourself a Double Avocado Burger!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff 

Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Mushrooms come in many different shapes and sizes. They also range a lot in terms of their availability and price. The kind I find readily available in my local supermarket are white button mushrooms. They tend to be affordable and versatile, and use them in many of my recipes. Those with bigger caps are easy to stuff, and I’ve experimented with couple of different types of stuffing, like the mashed potatoes and corn tortilla, Mexican-flavor inspired stuffing. Small and imperfect mushrooms are great for chopping up, and using for recipes like a quiche or a stews. White button mushrooms are also a common ingredient in my burgers and my homemade ground beef substitute, where I grind them and add to the burgers for color, texture and flavor.

In many aspects, white button mushrooms and baby portobello (crimini) mushrooms are interchangeable, and I may use one or the other or both depending on which variety looked best at the store that day. Crimini mushrooms had a more woody, deep and rich flavor than white button mushrooms, but the differences are not major, so they tend to cook and taste about the same. They also cost about the same as well, and tend to be on sale at the same time!

Once in a while I lay my hands on really large portobello mushrooms, and those I like to grill and transform into portobello steaks. They look and taste amazing, and make for an easy and healthy dinner. The price tag on these is a bit larger, and you do have make more of them to feed the crowd, because one portobello steak is usually not enough. But, they are absolutely irreplaceable if you need to make a great grilled steak vegan style.

What makes mushrooms an essential staple of any vegetarian, vegan and plant-based kitchen is their flavor, and a large amount of umami, the flavor associated with perception of meatiness. The naturally occurring chemicals behind this umami flavor are glutamate and guanylate (plus couple of others), and mushrooms have large amounts of them, none more than shiitakes. Shiitakes are native to Southeast Asia and have been used in local cuisines for centuries, either fresh or dried. They are also now becoming more commonly available in US supermarkets, although they tend to be more expensive.

Luckily for me, I recently ran into a pile of loose shiitake mushrooms in my store that were plump, fresh, large and reasonably priced. I bought about a pound (half a kilo) of shiitake mushrooms and decided to try making a Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff. I am sure this recipe would work with other types of sturdier mushrooms but shiitakes, becasue of their sweeper umami flavor, work exceptionally well.

I paired Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff with some spaghetti for a satisfying dinner. You can make the dish gluten free if you need to by the right kind of pasta. Alternatively, you can serve with quinoa for a higher protein meal.

 

Shiitake Mushroom Stroganoff

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (454 g) shiitake mushrooms

5-6 cloves garlic

1 cup raw cashews, unsalted

3/4 cup almond milk, plain & unsweetened

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

1 tablespoon olive oil

freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)

fresh basil (for garnish, optional)

crushed red pepper (for garnish, optional)

1/2 pound spaghetti, cooked according to instruction on the box

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cover the cashews with water and let them soak for at least 30 minutes, best overnight.
  2. The next day, rinse the cashews and place them into a blender. Add almond milk and tapioca starch, and blend until creamy. Set aside.
  3. Clean the shiitake mushrooms to remove the stems and any signs of visible dirt. Rinse them with water, pat dry with some paper towel and slice the caps intro strips.
  4. Peel the garlic cloves and slice them very thinly.
  5. Place a large pan over the medium heat and add olive oil to it.
  6. When the oil is hot, add mushrooms and garlic to the pan. Stirring frequently sauté the two for 5 to 10 minutes, until mushrooms have softened.
  7. Mix in the freshly ground black pepper to taste, then add cashew cream sauce and fold everything together.
  8. Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the sauce is rich and thick.
  9. Pour over your favorite pasta, quinoa or polenta, and enjoy with a sprinkle of crushed red peppers and fresh basil!

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Homemade Ground Beef Substitute

 

img_2031
Homemade Ground Beef Substitute, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Without a doubt ground beef is one of the staples of American cuisine. And it is also something that many meat substitutes are trying to recreate. This means that you can now go to most supermarkets and get a meatless ground beef product off the shelf. Some are tried are really good, like the Trader Joe’s one or the Beyond Burger, but it’s the price tag that is a bit troublesome plus I am a bit of a control freak and like to know exactly what goes on my plate.

So, I have been making my own meatless beef. I’ve been fairly happy with my burger experiment, and I’ve been also happy with a tofu based ground beef substitute that was created by Glow Kitchen. That ground beef substitute was very influential in my early days of vegan cooking that I recently included it in my list of 5 Must-Try Recipes for Beginner Vegans. It worked really well in applications like stuffed peppers but I wanted to explore ground mushroom and TVP (textured vegetable protein) based versions. I had such an amazing result when I used ground mushrooms, in combination with lentils, as a filling for Shepherd’s Pie, that I just have to figure out a way to fold them into a ground beef substitute.

As a general rule, if you want to recreate a meat dish without using any meat, stick with spices, texture and consistency that evokes the appearance that you are aiming for. Grounding mushrooms was definitely a breakthrough for me, as well as using TVP without pre-soaking! Plus, adding spices like cumin and paprika, as well as coconut aminos or a dash of soy sauce brings out that meat-like flavor. My final touch is just a little bit of tomato paste, for color as well as flavor. When all the components are in, and well mixed, I let the mixture just rest for at least an hour. Thus helps flavors merge and combine and TVP soften.

At the end, what you have after all this mixing, grinding and resting is a mix that looks very much like ground beef yet tastes so much better and richer. You can use the mix to stuff your peppers, in a sauce like Bolognese, or sautée as us and use in tacos, on pizza, or for any other purpose you can think of. You can definitely make meatballs out of it, or even hamburgers. This homemade ground beef substitute is versatile and very budget friendly so you can definitely afford to make batch after batch especially if you get your TVP from jet.com, the cheapest source of this ingredient I could find.

Homemade Ground Beef Substitute

What you’ll need:

10 oz (283 g) white mushrooms

1 1/3 cups TVP (textured vegetable protein)

1 tablespoon liquid smoke

1/3 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon liquid coconut aminos

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Cooking spray (if the idea is to sautée the mix; for other applications just follow the procedure you would normally follow)

What you’ll do:

  1. Wipe the mushrooms with a paper towel to remove any bits of dirt. Put in the food processor and grind to a fine grind. Pour out into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, except cooking spay, mix well and let the mixture rest for at least 1 hour.
  3. Once the mix has rested it is ready to use. The mix browns well and makes for a great taco filling or nacho topping. It can also be used to stuff peppers and to make hamburgers or meatless meatballs, in which case you don’t to brown the mix but ma need to form patties and leave them in the fridge to firm up before cooking.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

A Very Beefy Veggie Burger

"Beef" Veggie Burger
“Beef” Veggie Burger, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
For many researching and investing into meat alternatives, making a plant-based burger that looks, cooks and tastes like real beef has become one of the most important goals. Several years ago, I heard Pat Brown, founder and CEO of Impossible Foods, give a talk and one thing Pat mentioned was how incredibly hard it is to re-create a plant-based hamburger. Burgers are such a huge part of American culture, so offering a meatless alternative is unlikely to convince anyone to go meat-free unless that alternative is spot on, juicy and meaty.

But, lets be honest: veggie burgers are definitely not hitting this mark. For the most part, they are a mix of vegetables thrown together and shaped into a patty that usually falls apart as you are grilling it. I know this sounds mean, but it is what it is. I myself have been down the road of trying to figure out how to keep my veggie burgers together while at the same time make them taste authentic many times before. Some attempts have been a total failure, some, like this Roasted Red Peppers and Chickpea Burger, have been a success.

Don’t get me wrong – I love veggie burgers! They have amazing flavors and textures, and they are fun to eat. Also: I am not a fan of hamburgers, but I live in a land of hamburger lovers so I agree with Pat Brown’s general idea that in order to convince people to give up their meat we need to offer them something incredible to sizzle on the grill and stick inside the bun. And just in case you are wondering whether there is any such thing available in retail stores, you should head out to your local Whole Foods Market and get some Beyond Meat‘s The Beyond Burger. I had it few nights ago and it blew my mind!

So although I am most certainly going to be getting those burgers again, they do come with a relatively unfriendly price tag, which means I am where I started: trying to home brew an impossible, incredible and all-around awesome meat-free burger. This recipe for A Very Beefy Veggie Burger is one step closer to achieving that ideal combination of flavor, texture and grillability and the tip top secret of this recipe is to use TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) without pre-soaking and letting it absorb all the ground mushroom and mashed beans juices. This batch of burgers was cooked in a grill pan because the weather in New England has been very rainy lately and I just could not wait to make these, but the patties are firm enough to withstand the ultimate test of an outdoor grill.

As for condiments, sky is truly the limit. I paired these burgers with some Vegan Herb Mayo, cucumber and tomato slices, butter lettuce and Roasted Red Beets Hummus, but you can use anything you like. The flavor of these patties is very, very similar to what you can expect from a hamburger, but the texture and juiciness does need more work. Still, I will try, try, try again until I develop the recipe for a mouth-watering, and inexpensive, beef-less burger. As Silicon Valley is now funding these types of efforts, perhaps I can re-write the stereotype of “two guys in a garage” into “one woman in the kitchen” story? That would be fun!!!

Very Beefy Plant-Based Burger
Very Beefy Plant-Based Burger, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Note: Just in case you are asking yourself why we should go meatless, Bill Gates offered some well-articulated arguments in the Future of Food post few years ago.

 

A Very Beefy Veggie Burger

What you’ll need:

2 15.5 oz (439 g) cans of Roman (cranberry) beans

1 cup TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein; I used Bob’s Red Mill TVP)

8 oz. (227 g) baby bella mushrooms

2 tablespoons almond butter

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon soy sauce, reduced sodium

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, vegan

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Drain and rinse the beans. Pat dry and place in the large mixing bowl.
  2. Use a food processor to grind the mushrooms. Add the mushroom meat to the mixing bowl.
  3. Add TVP and the rest of the ingredients (except the cooking spray) into the bowl and use the immersion blender to blend everything into a mixture that looks like ground beef, with the same type of texture. You can also do this step in the food processor.
  4. Let the mixture stand for 30 to 60 minutes on the kitchen counter, then shape the burgers and leave them in the refrigerator for about an hour to firm up. This will give TVP time to soak up all the juice from mushrooms and bean and soften just enough to give a nice ground beef texture to the burger without making it too soft and crumbly.
  5. Heat the grill or the grill pan on high and make sure that your grill grate or your pan are generously oiled. Reduce the heat to medium before putting your burgers on. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes on one side, then flip over and grill for additional 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Put your burger buns on the grill for a minute or two to toast them gently, then top with mayo, burger, cucumber slices, tomatoes, lettuce, roasted beet hummus or whatever floats your boat – and bite in!!!

Correction: the original post said “yeast extract” but that’s not correct. I used nutritional yeast so I made the correction now. Thanks to Mary Dion for flagging this to me on Facebook!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Oh My… It’s Another Meatless Shepherd’s Pie

Meatless Shepherd’s Pie, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The first full meal post on this blog was my version of that classic, Shepherd’s Pie. The reason I kicked things off by veganizing a classic was that I wanted to push the limits and see if I can do it and be happy with the results. At that point I was one month into plant-based diet, and felt that I need to step it up in terms of how I create my meals. That’s a quick story behind the first Vegan Shepherd’s Pie.

Once that recipe was published I did get some backlash from people who firmly believed that a Shepherd’s Pie without meat is an abomination. I obviously don’t agree and have now created another version of Shepherd’s Pie that is so close to the original that very few people will know the difference. I served this for Easter Sunday dinner few weeks ago, and it was a hit!

The three main tricks I used are to fully cook the lentils on their own in water, to use full sprigs of rosemary without chopping, and to grind the mushrooms in the food processor before using. All these three things put together make this Shepherd’s Pie taste very, very similar to the ground lamb containing version. Except that this recipe leaves the lambs alone – which can’t be bad, right?


And if you are not concerned about the well-being of lambs much, perhaps you’ll find the health benefits of this recipe or its budget-friendliness more appealing. Regardless of your reasons, I hope you find at least one to compel you to try this meatless Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy!!!

Meatless Shepherd’s Pie

What you’ll need (for 8 HUNGRY people):

14 oz (400 g) dark (brown) lentils

4 large carrots, chopped

5 celery stalks, diced

1 onion, diced

20 oz (570 g) mushrooms

3-4 sprigs of rosemary

2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

4 cups green peas, frozen

6 potatoes, medium size

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

    1. Cook lentils according to bag instructions. In brief, for this amount of lentils you’ll need 4-6 cups of water that you need to bring to boil. Once the water is boiling add rinsed lentils in and simmer until lentils are done, which will take 20 to 25 minutes. Set cooked lentils aside.
    2. Peel and cube the potatoes. Put them in a large pot, and add the garlic cloves too. You don’t need to chop the garlic as it will soften during boiling and you will be able to mash it with potatoes. Cover the potatoes with water and bring to boil. Decrease the heat and boil until potatoes are cooked through. Take the pot of the heat, and let it cool off before mashing.
    3. Clean the mushrooms with a paper towel to remove any visible bits of dirt. Use a food processor to chop the mushrooms until they are about the same size as little bits of ground meat.
    4. Spray the bottom of a large frying pan with cooking spray and turn the heat on to medium high. Add onion,  carrots and celery. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
    5. Add whole sprigs of rosemary and chopped thyme and stir everything together. Sauté for another 8 to 10 minutes.
    6. Add chopped mushrooms, stir well and sauté until mushrooms are softened, which should not take longer than 5 minutes.
    7. Add frozen green peas, and mix everything together.  You can lower the heat or turn it completely off as all you need to do now is mix the pie filling until the peas thaw.
    8. Take rosemary sprigs out and discard. Some of the leaves will fall off and that’s OK. Remove as many as you can but leaving some in will help the flavor develop further.
    9. Add cooked lentils and mix everything together. Set aside.
    10. Preaheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
    11. While the oven is preheating, mash the potatoes. To the pot of boiled potatoes that have been drained and cooked, add almond milk, olive oil and mash using a potato masher until the mashed potatoes are soft and smooth. You can always add more almond milk to get the consistency just right.
    12. Spay the bottom and the sides of a large baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the Shepherd’s Pie filling in and smooth out.
    13. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top. Smooth out the mash and then using a fork create nooks and ridges. Spray the top with a bit more cooking spray and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potato topping is nice and browned.
    14. Serve with your favorite salad or even some vegan gravy. Trust me, this Shepherd’s Pie will leave you speechless!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

It is May 5th, which in this part of the world means it’s time for Cinco de Mayo, a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage. Big part of any culture is the food, and Mexican food has been one of my favorites for years.  So I could not sit this one out!!!

My Cinco de Mayo tribute recipe is this Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms, that starts with large stuffing mushrooms and uses a stuffing with layers of flavors, all very evocative of what you might expect to find in pub nachos or a tortilla.

These large, plump mushrooms are a perfect vehicle for the rich stuffing and what I like to do is roast the mushroom caps by themselves first, to get rid of extra moisture. And while the mushrooms are roasting, I focus on putting the stuffing together.

As I mentioned previously, I don’t like vasting lovely bits of mushrooms – stems: I’m talking about you! – as there is lots of great flavor in them. So, this stuffing uses all the mushroom stems finely chopped, and mixes them with just a bit of vegan ground beef substitute to maximize the umami flavor.


Now in terms of getting a bit of Mexican flavors going, I applied a shortcut and went for a jar of store bought chunky salsa. You can definitely make your own, or go with any salsa flavor and heat level you enjoy. In case you are wondering, I used mild.

My final touch was to cut up some soft corn tortillas and add them to the stuffing. This adds a bit of texture and brings the flavors much closer to what you’d expect from a Mexican cuisine inspired dish. For the last stage of baking I topped each mushroom with some grated vegan cheese and let it melt for few minutes. Finally, I sprinkled some fresh cilantro on top. If you can’t stand cilantro, you can use flat leaf parsley or fresh basil. Although it would make it less of a Mexican flavor and aroma experience, it will still make these mushrooms yummy!

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

What you’ll need:

28 oz (680 g) large stuffing mushrooms

1/2 package Trader Joe’s “Beefless Ground Beef” (or 1 cup homemade version)

3 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning (or adjust the amount of sea salt, black pepper, mustard seeds, chili pepper, coriander, onion garlic paprika to taste)

3 corn tortillas, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup salsa, divided

1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided

Fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

    1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
    2. Wipe the mushrooms of any visible bits of dirt using a damp paper towel. Remove the stems carefully so that you don’t break the caps. Save the stems for later.
    3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the mushroom caps on, their hole side up. Put them into the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
    4. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add chopped onions and chopped chives. Let them brown for about 5 minutes.
    5. While the mushroom caps are roasting, and onions and chives are sautéing, chop the stems to small pieces and add them to the pan.
    6. Sauté for another 5 minutes then add the beefless ground beef and the seasoning. If you don’t have this specific seasoning mix, you can use store bought taco seasoning, or similar, or just add your own mix of chili powder, paprika, black paper and coriander to taste. Mix everything well together and sauté for another 5 minutes.
    7. Turn the heat off and mix in the chopped corn tortillas. Let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will help the tortillas soak up some of the excess liquid mushrooms may have released as well as soak up then flavors.
    8. Take the mushroom caps out of the oven, and bring the heat down to 350 F (180 C). Using a pair of kitchen tongs, or similar, gently invert the mushroom caps so that the liquid that collected in them drains out. Place the dry mushroom caps into a deep baking dish. Spoon the stuffing into the mushrooms. I like to spoon the stuffing high and if your baking dish is deep enough you don’t have to worry about the stuffing spilling over as there will be a dish to catch it all.
    9. Place one teaspoon of salsa on each stuffed mushroom, and then heap the shredded cheese on top. Spray the tops with some cooking spray and place the dish into the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the mushrooms are completely cooked.
    10. Take it out of the oven and cool only slightly. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, or another herb of your choice, just before serving and enjoy as an appetizer or a part of your main course.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
It’s that time of year in New England when we jump out of our winter lairs and onto our no-longer-snow-covered decks to fire up the grill. I love grilling, and if anyone ever told you that grilling is a guy thing, don’t listen to them as grilling is for everyone! There is something very primal that comes to forth when you find yourself outdoors, standing in front of the fire and flames, and you hear the sizzle of delicious food getting caramelized, charred and transformed into the mouth watering delights.

I love using my grill, especially during the summer months, because it gets the food cooked fast without heating the kitchen and makes clean up a breeze. Add to that a delight of summer evenings and eating outside, and it can hardly get better than that. I make piles of grilled vegetables and have even developed an awesome way of making grilled pizza, which I’ll share in another post.

Here I’ll share how to get the perfect Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks as grilled steaks are the quintessential example of this type of cooking. For this recipe to work you do need to use very large portobello mushroom caps. The ones I found in our local grocery store are about 4 to 5 in (10 to 12 cm) in diameter, and that’s the size I recommend for a recipe like this as the bigger portobello caps will hold up to grilling much better. Most of the really large portobello mushrooms will come without stems, but if the ones you get include the stems I recommend using the stems to make your own vegan “scallops”.

The recipe is really very simple and the mushroom steaks cook very quickly. The most time consuming step is putting the marinade together and letting the mushrooms soak up some flavors, which will take anywhere between one to two hours. If you are pressed for time you can skip this step and simply apply the same marinade liquid to the mushrooms as they grill.

Are there any tricks to getting a perfect grilled portobello mushroom steak? Yes, there are a couple. The first one is really more of an universal grilling advice than mushroom specific: make sure your grill grate is clean, hot and well oiled (for more on how to prepare your grill for perfect grilling results check this post out). This will help the food go on and not stick to the grates. I recommend using paper towel dipped in oil and a pair of long kitchen tongs to do this. The second trick is mushroom specific as I recommend grilling the mushrooms cap side facing up first in order to allow for all the excess moisture to drip out, before flipping the cap over. Finally, if you are into the grill marks you need to remember to rotate your cap by 90 degrees half way through the cooking.

Following these easy steps will bring delicious grilled mushroom steaks to your plate!

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks

What you’ll need:

(for 4 servings)

4 extra large portobello mushroom caps

2 tablespoons A.1. steak sauce (or any other steak sauce, homemade or store-bought)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons chili powder

Some oil to brush your grill

What you’ll do:

  1. Wipe the portobello caps with a paper towel to remove any dirt. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together all the rest of the ingredients in a container large enough to hold all four mushroom steaks.
  3. Place the mushroom steaks into the marinade and make sure they are fully coated and covered. Marinate for 30 to 60 minutes. If you decide to skip this step simply coat the mushrooms with the marinade before placing on the grill.
  4. While mushrooms are marinating, prepare your outdoor grill for medium high heat grilling. If you have any questions on how to do this, Whole Foods Market has a post that can help. Don’t have an outdoor grill? You can use the indoor grill or a grill pan for this recipe as well. In that case simply follow whatever steps you usually take when grilling indoors over medium high to high heat.
  5. Place your mushroom steaks on the grill top side up, spread some marinade over the steaks, and grill for 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Spread some more marinade on top, turn the caps over and grill top side down for 3 minutes, then lift up and rotate by a very rough quarter turn, and grill for another 2 minutes. You can skip this rotating step. It does not change the flavor of the steaks, but it does make for those well-known (and loved) grill marks.
  7. Enjoy the perfect grilled portobello mushroom steak with your favorite sides, like Cauliflower Mash and a field greens salad!
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Quick Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Tofu

Quick Quiche with Tofu and Mushrooms
Quick Quiche with Tofu and Mushrooms, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Eating pie for lunch sounds so decadent, doesn’t it? And that’s what makes quiche so appealing. I usually stay away from making quiche because I can’t deal with making my own crust. The crust takes time and effort that is beyond my capacity. Luckily for me, and I am guessing many of you, stores carry pre-made pie crusts that are ready to use.

My quiche recipe uses one of those and that really makes it come together relatively quickly. One tip when using the store bought frozen pie crust is to bake the crust by itself first for ten to fifteen minutes while you are mixing and preparing the other ingredients. This pre-baking will help make the crust nice and crunchy and help it hold the filling.

Filling is definitely the star of any quiche and it is traditionally made of eggs and cheese, often with mushrooms, ham, spinach, artichokes or other meat and vegetable components thrown into it. So, the result is usually light in texture but heavy on your stomach and very calorie dense.

In my first attempt to veganize quiche I decided to keep it simple and start with mushrooms, red onions and tofu as main ingredients. Most of the cooking actually takes place in a pan on the stove top as both red onions and mushrooms need to be fully cooked before they hit the pie crust. I recommend taking the time to caramelize the onions nice and slow, as well as let the mushrooms cook most of the way before adding tofu. In this case, the tofu needs to be drained and crumbled but you can skip the “pressing tofu” step that almost all tofu recipes have making this a really quick dish!

Quick Quiche with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Tofu

What you’ll need:

1 store bought pie crust, vegan

1 red onion

10 oz (300 g) white mushrooms

14 oz (400 g) extra firm tofu, drained

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon corn starch

1 teaspoon dry basil leaves

1 teaspoon dry oregano leaves

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Once ready, put the pie crust in to pre-bake for 15 minutes.
    2. Cut the onion into fine, thin slices.
    3. Spray the bottom and sides of a frying pan with cooking spray and place it over medium high heat. Add the onion and let caramelize for 5 to 10 minutes. The onion should be nicely browned and soft.
    4. While the onion is caramelizing, clean and slice the mushrooms, or you can always buy sliced mushrooms and skip this step.
    5. Add sliced mushrooms to the onion mix and cook until mushrooms soften, which will take another 5 minutes or so.
    6. Drain tofu and crumble it into small crumbles with a fork or with your hand. The size of the crumbles should be similar to scrambled egg.
    7. Add crumbled tofu, nutritional yeast, corn starch, basil and oregano. Stir well the quiche filling, let brown for another 1 to 2 minutes, then turn the heat off and let sit until your pie crust is done pre-baking.
    8. Pour the filling into the crust, spray the top with some cooking spray and return to oven for another 20 to 25 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
    9. Take the quiche out, let stand for 5 minutes then serve with your favorite salad or top with some sun dried tomato shreds like I did on this occasion.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017