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

Easy Gluten-free and Vegan Corn Bread

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Easy Gluten-free and Vegan Corn Bread, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

What you will learn from this recipe is how to make corn bread that needs only seven ingredients (that’s including baking powder, baking soda, salt, and oil), is completely gluten-free, and entirely vegan! It is also simple, yet delicious, without extra sugar and other funky stuff that many recipes include.

I grew up eating plenty of corn bread, especially during winter months. I’ve also shared a recipe or two, providing different variations on the theme. Here, I wanted to share a recipe that strips away all the complexity and uses corn meal, corn starch and oil, together with leavening agents and carbonated (sparkling) water to create a nutty and mealy corn bread.

The bread is a bit on a crumbly side and it is best used with hearty stews, chilis and soups, those types of dishes that need a bit of bread to mix it in. For example, it would pair well with a cabbage and bean stew, or a bean soup with chorizo, or 15 bean chili!

The down side of this corn bread is that it does not store well, and it is really at its prime when it is fresh from the oven. So, if you feel that you may not need this much corn bread, make a smaller batch. It is so easy to make that you can whisk it all together as needed. If you are bothered by crumbliness, you can add some flax egg to the batter or chia egg.

Easy Gluten-free and Vegan Corn Bread

What you’ll need:

  • 3 cups of yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup of corn starch
  • 1/3 cup canola (or other vegetable or olive) oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sparkling (carbonated) water
  • Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cron meal, corn starch, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Mix well, then add oil and combine. Batter will be soft (see picture above).
  3. Let the batter stand for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Spray the bottom and the sides of the 8 in x 8 in (20 cm x 20 cm) baking dish. Pour the batter in, smooth the top, then place in the preheated oven to bake at high temperature for 10 minutes.
  5. Lower the temperature to 350 F (175 C) and continue baking for another 20 minutes.
  6. Let the corn bread cool for 15 minutes or so, then cut and serve. Please note that this bread will not be asa great the next day so I suggest that you enjoy it fresh!

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Plantain Lasagna with Pinto Beans

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Plantain Lasagna with Pinto Beans, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Plantains Lasagna with Pinto Beans

What you’ll need:

4 plantains, almost ripe

2 cups salsa, homemade or store bought

2 cups TVP (textured vegetable protein)

1 onion, diced

2 15.5 oz (440 g) cans pinto beans

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

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Cooking spray


What you’ll do:

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

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Monkey Bread

Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Monkey Bread, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Have you ever heard of monkey bread? Well, neither have I until recently when I started thinking about an easy breakfast type of a bread that can be made quickly and without much fuss. Monkey bread, a pull apart sticky bread full of cinnamon and drenched in a sticky syrup, is one such option.

Most recipes for monkey bread out there start with a pre-made biscuit dough of some sort – this is fine, especially when you are in a rush, but most of these doughs are not gluten-free. Also: if you are paying attention to what you eat and how much salt and fat you consume, these products are probably not for you although most of them are actually vegan.

The recipe below is my attempt at making monkey bread that is gluten-free, relatively low on oil (and you can skip oil if you want an oil-free version), and full of lovely fruit and vegetable. To boost the flavors and sweetness, I am using pumpkin purée and raisins, and too boost healthy fats and provide a binder for the bread dough I am using chia seeds. Lastly, I am not using a great deal of sticky syrup – but just enough agave syrup to make this slightly over the top. This means that unlike monkey breads you may have had in the past this one is not dripping with gooey syrup, although it is sticky (and finger licking’ good!).

You can play with arrangements of the small dough pieces when you start to lay them out, and create any pattern you like. Traditional monkey bread is made in the Bundt pan. If you would like to experiment with that you will need to make several adjustments to the recipe below. First of all, you will need to prepare a different sticky sauce that is made from brown sugar and butter, and if you don’t want to use butter (vegan or otherwise), you may want to use a bit of corn or tapioca starch as a thickener. The sticky sauce would go to the bottom of your pan and dough chunks are layered one on top of each other. In that case, you will need to double the amount of dough from the recipe below and follow the instructions on how to assemble the bread here.

Gluten-free Cinnamon Raisin Monkey Bread

What you’ll need:

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup chia seeds

1 cup hot water

1 cup rice flour

1/2 cup arrowroot flour

1/4 cup glutinous rice flour (or corn/tapioca starch)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon cinnamon 

3/4 cup  pumpkin purée

3 tablespoons oil (canola or vegetable; you can skip if oil-free)

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 

1/3 cup agave nectar (or maple syrup), divided

Butter or oil for greasing the baking dish (optional)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cover the raisin with some water and leave them to soak overnight. If you are in a pinch and need them sooner, you can soak them in hot water and they should be ready to use within 15-30 minutes.
  2. When ready to make the monkey bread, turn the oven on to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Soak chia seeds in a cup of boiling water until gel-like substance forms. This usually takes 10-20 minutes.
  4. While chia seeds are soaking, mix together all the dry ingredients (flours and spices).
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: pumpkin puree, soaked chia seeds, oil, and vinegar. Mix well.
  6. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, mix well, then add the raisins and mix again.
  7. Grease the bottom and the sides of a baking dish (8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm)). You can skip this step if you are using a high quality non-stick pan. Pinch smaller chunks of the dough (roughly 1/4 cup), form into a ball by gently rolling (don’t pack too tightly, the dough should feel loose but not falling apart), and start arranging the monkey bread by placing the balls next to each other. Let them touch but don’t press the balls together. If you can’t squeeze them all in, start another layer and continue until all the dough is used up.
  8. When all the dough balls are all arranged, brush one half of the agave nectar over the top, and bake for 20-30 minutes. The monkey bread is done when the surface is completely brown.
  9. Take the monkey bread out of the oven, brush the rest of the agave nectar over, and leave to soak and cool for 15 minutes or so before digging in!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

 

Gluten-free and Vegan Protein-Packed No-Bake English Muffins

Gluten-free Protein-Packed Mug English Muffins, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

“Where do you get your protein from?” is probably the most detested question that those enjoying plant-based (vegan) diet get asked all the time. Of course, we know that this is an easy question to answer because plants are full of protein.

But just in case you feel that you need an extra protein boost, especially when it comes to breakfast, I have a perfect solution for you. How about some protein packed English muffins? Actually, these are not oven-baked; rather they are done within a few minutes using a microwave.

Perhaps you’ve seen recipes for mug cakes? Or you may have seen new “mug cake” product lines in your local supermarket? The idea is that you whip up your ingredients in a mug, mix them together and after 3-5 minutes in a microwave you have your single-serve cake or a muffin ready to enjoy.

I use the same basic idea here except that instead of eggs and flour I use pea protein powder, peanut butter powder (which is really peanut protein powder), some flax meal, baking soda, a dash of vinegar (or lemon juice) and water or plant milk of choice. Believe it or not, after 3 minutes in the microwave on high power you get a nice little muffin. I recommend slicing the muffin across horizontally, then toasting it for some extra crunch. Yummy!

So, how does this work? I don’t know for sure but I do have a working theory that the carbon-dioxide released when baking soda meets a splash of vinegar or lemon juice is enough to lift the “dough”, and once up the protein molecules have sufficient strength to support the structure.

The main trick here is not to make the mix too wet. When you mix your ingredients together, you will have something that looks more like a paste than a muffin batter. Don’t worry, this is as it should be. The best dish to microwave the muffin in is a 3-4 inch (8-10 cm) ramekin, and I recommend that you grease it with either a bit of butter or some cooking spray. A little will go a long way to help your muffin slide out.

Lastly: a note about microwaves. They are all different and have moods of their own. I recommend you start on high power, and check how things are doing after about 2 minutes. You should look for a dry looking top and sides that are coming away from the ramekin. At the end, the muffin should slide out of the ramekin without much resistance, usually after you run a butter knife around the edges to release the muffin.

Gluten-free and Vegan Protein-Packed No-Bake English Muffins

What you’ll need:

2 tablespoons pea protein powder

2 tablespoons peanut protein powder

1 tablespoon ground flax meal (golden is preferred)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon almond milk or water

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Vegan butter (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the ingredients into a small bowl, and mix to combine. I recommend adding a splash of acid (vinegar or lemon juice) last. The batter will be dense and sticky, just FYI.
  2. Pour the batter into a microwave safe ramekin or a mug that’s about 3-4 in (8-10 cm) in diameter and that has been greased with butter or sprayed gently with some cooking spray.
  3. Microwave on high for 3 minutes or so. The top should be dry and look baked, and the sides should be coming of. If all is well, the muffin will slide out of the ramekin without much resistance after you run a knife around the edges. If not, it means that the bottom is still moist, and the mix needs to go back for another 30-60 seconds.
  4. Enjoy the muffin as is, or toast if you prefer things a bit crunchier. You can top the muffin with butter, jam, hummus, avocado, fruit, or anything else you like. The muffin itself is neither sweet nor salty so lends itself to utmost customization!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2019

Basic Lentil Bolognese

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Basic Lentil Bolognese, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

When I was a college student, one of the most despised items served in the campus cafeteria was lentil stew. I can’t even remember the flavor now, but I remember that nobody really liked it so there was always plenty of it left over. So, every time I would run late from a class to lunch, I would end up with a bowl of lentil stew!

Things have, of course, changed quite dramatically since my college days, and I now make lentils almost every week and really enjoy them as a healthy, cheap and tasty ingredient. They are a great source of protein and they are versatile. Once cooked, they can be made into soups, burgers, or delicious Shepherd’s Pie, which I recommend you make and serve to everyone questioning your plant-based (vegan) diet and lamenting that they would never be able to give up meat!

Because of their texture and size, they are often used as a substitute for minced meat. That’s why they work really well in this simple Lentil Bolognese sauce. I hope you enjoy it and share with friends and family, neighbors and the world!!!

Basic Lentil Bolognese

What you’ll need:

200 g brown lentils, cooked

4 carrots, grated

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 can (14.5 oz; 411 g) diced tomatoes

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salt to taste (optional)

Regular or gluten-free pasta to serve, cooked according to the instructions on the packaging

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the lentils and check them for any non-lentil bits – sometimes little stones and bits can end up in the lentil bag so it is always a good idea to check. Place lentils into a pressure cooker, cover with water, and cook for 10-25 minutes once the pot is fully pressurized. Please note that the time may vary depending on your pressure cooker and you actually can cook your lentils in a pot and skip the pressure cooker all together. You are aiming for lentils that are soft but not mushy.
  2. Place a large pot over medium high heat, add oil, grated carrots, diced onions, and sliced garlic and cook for 5-8 minutes, mixing frequently. Next add the cooked lentils, basil and oregano, and finally diced tomatoes. Lower the heat down to low and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Turn the heat off, then mix in fresh parsley, freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Serve over pasta or over mashed potatoes!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie
Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

It’s OK to indulge and be decadent from time to time, and in my book the best way to feel indulgent and decadent is to go for some chocolate. Vegan chocolate is not hard to find. Almost any dark chocolate with high cocoa content is likely to be acceptable, so there are no reasons to stay away from chocolate treats. Having said that, if you are trying to drop a few pounds, the recipe below is not for you and most of chocolate treats is probably off limits.

The amazing thing about my chocolate mousse pie recipe below is that it uses roasted sweet potatoes. Roasted sweet potatoes are my favorite snack, often even breakfast , and definitely one of my favorite ways to reduce the amount of sugar that I use in my recipes. Roasting helps the natural sweetness of the potatoes come through, and what you end up with is super sweet and super soft root vegetable ready for puréeing and use in things like pancakes and even ice cream! If you are looking for instructions on how to roast sweet potatoes, you may want to check my post on Sweet Potato Butter for details.

My Chocolate Mousse Pie is as easy as a pie – really! There is no baking involved and all you really need to do is melt lots of chocolate and not shy away from using some butter to help things along. My favorite brand of vegan butter sticks is Melt – the price may be higher than other butters out there, and especially the margarine which is plant-based but just not that good for you because of all those hydrogenated trans fat acids, but I recommend you use it only on special occasions and in small quantities. This means that the pound (half a kilo) of butter will last you a long time!

Final note is that you should feel to customize the frosting to feature your favorite nut butter, or to include cocoa powder for example. I personally love almond butter and also think that almond butter mousse frosting works really well to bring the pie together, by connecting the crust flavors with the frosting. In this way, every single mouthful has harmonized flavors, from the beginning to the end.

 

Vegan Chocolate Mousse Pie

What you’ll need:

FOR THE CRUST

4-6 large madjool dates

1 tablespoon vegan butter, melted

1 cup raw almonds (unsalted)

FOR THE FILLING

10 oz silken tofu

2 roasted sweet potatoes

2 cups melted chocolate

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoon unsweetened, plain rice milk (or any other plant-based milk)

FOR THE FROSTING

1 stick vegan butter

1/2 cup almond butter

2 tablespoons agave syrup
What you’ll do:
  1. To prepare the crust, melt the butter in a microwave (1-2 minutes in 30 second increments until fully melted), then added it to a food processor with dates and almonds. Pulse for 8-10 times, until everything is finely chopped and combined. When the crust is smooth and sticks together well, transfer it into a springform pan, the pan you would normally use to make cheesecake. Using your fingers, press the crust into the bottom, until firmly packed. Place the pan into a refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to allow the crust to firm up.
  2. While the crust is firming up add the drained tofu and chopped roasted sweet potatoes into a large food processor and process for 30-45 seconds. Add the melted chocolate and process for another minute. To melt your chocolate, you can use a double boiler method or a microwave method. At the end, add the spices and plant-based milk and processes until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Pour the filling into the springform pan and even out the surface. Sometimes banging the pan on the kitchen counter helps the filling set, and prevents random empty space areas from forming. Leave the chocolate mousse pie in the fridge for at least 4 hours to firm up. I recommend leaving the pie in the fridge overnight and finishing the frosting the next day.
  4. To mix the frosting, combine the almond butter, butter and agave syrup (or another sweetener like maple syrup) into a bowl and mix until smooth and combined using a hand held mixer. You can also do this using a standing mixer. Apply the frosting any way you prefer. I usually place the frosting into a zip lock bag, and then snip of a corner with scissors to make a hole of a desired size. Holding the top of the bag firmly in my left hand (I am right handed), I then use my right hand to guide the piping bag and create frosting patterns I like. In this case, I went for a flower in the middle, but you can really do anything you like.
  5. After you frosted the pie, pop it back into the fridge for 30-60 minutes. This should be enough time for the frosting to firm, and once that’s done you are ready to pull the pie out. I recommend leaving the pie at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving, and then dig in!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Basic gluten-free vegan crêpes

Oui, oui… we all love crêpes! Savory or sweet these flat wraps are easy to make and delightful. Of course, those in the business of crêpes making may lead you to believe that crêpes are beyond your capabilities. And even if you are brave to venture into the crêpes land, you may hesitate to accept the vegan crêpes challenge. Yet, there’s nothing to worry about as crêpes can be not only vegan but gluten-free as well.

Choosing the right crêpes pan

The pan you use makes a huge amount of difference when making crêpes. You need a good, preferably non-stick, shallow frying pan with large surface area. The pan should also not be too heavy because there is a fair bit of pan handling (lifting, tilting, swirling) that will need to take place. I use IKEA but you can use any pan the fits this description – roughly.

Preparing the pan

I recommend getting the pan nice and hot before adding a batch of batter. Also, remember to oil the pan before each crêpes. I place my oil in a small bowl which I keep on the stove for easy access and use a silicone brush to brush the oil over the pan’s bottom just before pouring in a batch of batter. And keep doing this each time!

The first crêpe is always the worst!

One dirty little secret of crêpe making is that the first crêpe is always the worst!!! So, although this first crêpe will be nerve wracking and make you feel like a total crêpe disaster, please do persevere and things will get better. This phenomenon seems to be all down to improperly oiled and insufficiently heated pan – and following the instructions here or in this very helpful post will ensure that your second, third, fourth, and so on crêpe all come out perfect. What helps is keeping the heat up, oiling the surface and using a really long and thin spatula to gently peel the crêpe off and flip over. What also help is being stingy with a batter. You are going for a very, very thin pancake here and the pictures below show you what my crêpes looked like.

Finishing crêpe touches

There are many different ways to enjoy the crêpes. You can use light spreads, like jams, chocolate syrup or nut butters, or simply sprinkle with some sugar and cinnamon, or go for the classic combination of butter and maple syrup. Chopped up fruit and/or nuts, as well as walnut and almond meal also work. If you are want to totally impress your guests you may want to make a crêpe cake, and if you made a batch of savory crêpes you can definitely use them in the same way as tortillas or other thin, unleavened breads. If you are wondering what savory crêpes are all about, I previously shared an easy to make scallion crêpe recipe with a sesame dipping sauce.

All in all, this recipe is perfect for a Sunday brunch, or a nice family breakfast around the Holidays. It is something that you could make ahead and bring to a pot luck, but the best way to enjoy crêpes is straight out of the pan, while they are still hot and soft. Incredible – oh là là!!!

Basic Gluten-free Vegan Crêpes

What you’ll need:

2 cups chickpea flour

1 cup corn starch

2 tablespoon agave syrup (omit if you plan on savory toppings)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon vanilla paste

1 teaspoon maple flavor

2 cups almond milk

1 cup water

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine all the ingredients as listed in a large mixing bowl, and whisk them all together. Let the batter rest for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Place a large pan with a flat surface over high heat. Let the pan heat up then using a silicon brush spread some oil uniformly over the entire surface. Pour just enough batter to cover the surface with a thin layer – for my 9 in (23 cm) pan I use about 3/4 cup. Pour the batter gradually towards the middle and keep pouring as you twirl the pan around.
  3. Place the crêpe over high heat for 2 minutes or so, then lower the heat just a tad and let the crêpe finish cooking on the first side. The way you can tell the crêpe is ready to be flipped is by looking at the surface – once the surface starts looking dry you are ready to flip.
  4. If you have a very good pan and have done everything right your crêpe will not be tightly attached to the bottom and you may even be able to flip it through the air. But if your crêpe is not loose then use your spatula to gently loosen the crêpe and flip it over. The flipping needs some practice, so be patient.
  5. The crêpe needs to cook on the other side for just 1-2 extra minutes. Slide the crêpe out, then increase the heat, leave the pan on for a minute to get it back to being really hot, spread some oil and repeat. Your friends and family may want to start eating the crêpes are they come out of the pan, and I say let them! Crêpes are the best when fresh, so it makes total sense to jump right in!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Baked Spaghetti Marinara

Baked Spaghetti Marinara
Baked Spaghetti Marinara, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

What can be better than spaghetti tossed with a simple tomato sauce, and sprinkled with some parmesan cheese, olive oil and fresh basil? For me, pasta, and especially spaghetti, have been a huge go to food because they are (a) easy, quick and cheap to make, and (b) absolutely delicious!

Marinara sauce for all seasons

In my view, simple marinara sauce is the best sauce for dressing the spaghetti. Yes, sure, bolognese is also pretty good, especially this amazing lentil and mushroom bolognese sauce, or this ragù made with lentils and walnuts. Marinara sauce is the type of simplicity that can only be described as pure genius. The sauce is tomato based and usually includes only a couple of additional ingredients, like olive oil, garlic, onions, and herbs, like oregano and basil.

Homemade marinara sauce to the rescue

Although I have been known to reach for a jar of store-bought marinara sauce from time to time, I do prefer to make this sauce myself. It’s actually one of the easiest things to make as all you need is some olive oil, garlic, tomato sauce, and dried oregano and/or basil. The sauce is done in less than 15 minutes, which is probably less time than it will take you to boil the spaghetti given that getting a large pot of water to boil does take forever, and your dinner will be ready and on the table in a blink of an eye.

From quick pasta to baked pasta

However, if you do have a bit more time and don’t have to rush I recommend that you give the recipe below a try. It is essentially the same recipe, just elevated to a bit more gourmet experience. The sauce is made with fresh and canned tomatoes, and includes nutritional yeast that boosts the “cheesy” flavors. The spaghetti and sauce are mixed together then baked to create a nice balance of smooth, soft, and just slightly crunchy. Given some gluten sensitivity, my recipe here was made using gluten-free pasta, but you can use any spaghetti you like. I recommend that you cook spaghetti only 80% through as they will continue to cook in the sauce as they bake. I also recommend that you use an ovenproof pot, such as a Dutch oven I used below, in order to go from the stove top directly into the oven.

Don’t forget fresh basil

Finally, don’t forget to top your pasta with some fresh basil. We all know what that will do of you, so let’s not belabor the point. Trust me, this Baked Spaghetti Marinara will quickly become your favorite!

 

Baked Spaghetti Marinara

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (454 g) box spaghetti (regular or gluten free), cooked al dente

4 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 pint (10 oz, about 300 g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 28 oz (794 g) can of chunky crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

2 tablespoons olive oil

Fresh basil

A pinch of salt

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a pinch of salt, then place spaghetti gently into the boiling water until fully submerged. Cook about 1 minute less than what the instructions on the box suggest. The spaghetti should be al dente, meaning still a bit underdone.
  3. Simultaneously with making the spaghetti, start working on your sauce. Add the oil to a large, ovenproof pot. I used my Dutch oven for this one, and it worked well. Place the pot over the medium heat, and add the sliced garlic. Let the garlic brown for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Once the garlic starts to release its aroma, add the halved cherry (or grape) tomatoes, and sauté until tomatoes are softened. This will take about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the nutritional yeast and let it brown for only a minute.
  6. Next, add the crushed tomatoes and mix well. When the sauce starts to bubble, add dried herbs, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off, and add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce. Mix well until spaghetti are evenly distributed and fully covered. Place the pot into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so, until the edges and the top are nicely browned.
  8. Serve with fresh basil and enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

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Vegan “Chicken” in a Nut Sauce

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

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

What are soya chunks?

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

Where do you find soya chunks?

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

Let the food processor do all the work

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

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

Vegan “Chicken” in a Nut Sauce

What you’ll need:

200 g soya chunks

2 yellow onions, finely diced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons sliced ginger

1 cup walnuts

1/4 cup tomato paste

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

1/2 lemon, juice only

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas)

10 oz white mushrooms, quartered

1/2-1 cup water, to taste

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, and more for garnish

 

What you’ll do:

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

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Vegan and Gluten-free Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Vegan & Gluten-free Baked Eggplant Parmesan, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Eggplant Parmesan – the staple of Italian restaurants in our area, and a frequent favorite of many. Unfortunately, it is so easy to overdo this dish and make it almost inedible. For example, frying the breaded eggplant very often results in a mushy piece of oily eggplant that is far from appetizing. So, to compensate for absence of flavor of a soggy eggplant people usually dump in a whole lot of cheese, usually a mix of ricotta and mozzarella. This makes for a goopy mess of a meal that can be easily avoided by following couple of simple rules. Rule 1: bake your eggplant; Rule 2: make your own tomato sauce; and Rule 3: make the dish 100% plant based.

Prepping the eggplant

Eggplant has a bad reputation for being bitter unless prepared a certain way. However, I don’t remember the last time I had one that was bitter when grilled, or made into a stew. Having said that, for the eggplant parmesan I do recommend that you use the trick that’s supposed to draw the bitterness out. You slice the eggplant, sprinkle with salt and then let drain for 15-30 minutes. The way I did it is to place the eggplant on several layers of paper towels, sprinkle salt, cover with more paper towels, put a baking sheet over the top and weigh with some cans. The amount of liquid that eggplant releases is not enormous but the paper towel should be quite damp.

Breading the eggplant, gluten-free and vegan way

The next step towards your Eggplant Parmesan is breading and baking the eggplant. I don’t recommend frying the eggplant – baking at 425 F (220 C) will give you much better results, and nice crispy eggplant.

To get to a gluten-free version of this classic all you need to do is use gluten-free bread crumbs which are now available in most grocery stores. If you don’t have access to gluten-free breadcrumbs you can use stale and/or roasted gluten-free bread to make your own bread crumbs. Or, if that is not available either, you could use corn flakes and make them into the crumbs! And don’t forget to add some dried oregano and basil to your breading – that just makes everything better!!!

For the breading, you will also need an “egg” mix, in this case some vegan mayo mixed with some plant milk. This mixture gives a nice thick consistency, but if you’d rather skip mayo, you could use just plant milk. The main point of the “egg” mix is to make the surface sticky so that the breading adhere to it well.

Eggplant parmesan breading assembly line

So, your breading assembly line will look something like this – pile of eggplant slices, deep fish (soup plate) with the “egg”, a pie dish with the bread crumbs, and the baking sheet lined with parchment paper sprayed with some cooking spray. An eggplant slice would go from the “egg” mix, to the crumbs, to the pan.

After about 15-25 minutes in the oven the eggplant should be nicely golden and crunchy.

Making the perfect marinara tomato sauce

While the eggplant is baking, you can make your very own amazing tomato (marinara) sauce. The sauce starts with some olive oil and garlic, and includes only five ingredients. You will need olive oil, garlic, crushed and whole peeled tomatoes, and dried oregano and basil.

Vegan eggplant parmesan needs some good cheese

The cheese starts with cashews soaked overnight. It includes nutritional yeast, plant milk, lemon juice and that’s it! As with the tomato (marinara) sauce, this cheese is universally applicable to a range of recipes and dishes. The final consistency is that of a ricotta not mozzarella, but in this case that works great.

Putting the eggplant parmesan together

This magnificent eggplant parmesan starts with a layer of marinara sauce on the bottom, then a layer of breaded eggplant, followed by some tomato sauce then cheese, another layer of eggplant, sauce and cheese, and so on. You can keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Once all the layers are in, put your eggplant parmesan in the oven and let the top and the edges brown. Let the baked dish cool for 15 minutes or so, sprinkle some fresh basil and some freshly ground pepper, then serve with a simple salad. Yummy!

Vegan and Gluten-free Baked Eggplant Parmesan

What you’ll need:

FOR BAKED BREADED EGGPLANT

3 large eggplants, cut across into 1/2 in (1-1.5 cm) rounds

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mayo

1/4 cup milk

1 cup bread crumbs (gluten-free or regular depending on your preference)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 teaspoons dried basil

Cooking spray

 

FOR SIMPLE TOMATO (MARINARA) SAUCE

1 can crushed tomatoes

1 can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 tablespoon olive oil

 

FOR SIMPLE RICOTTA CHEESE

1 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least 3 hours (overnight in the fridge is fine)

7 oz. silken tofu

1/2 cup almond milk

1/2 lemon, juice

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/4 teaspoon salt

Fresh basil, finely chopped (optional)

Freshly ground black pepper (optional)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Cut the eggplant into rounds, arrange on several layers of paper towel, sprinkle with salt, overlay with several more layers of paper towel, then weight down and leave for 15 minutes. This will draw excess moisture out – your towels should be quite damp, so pat the eggplant dry and set it aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with the cooking spray.
  4. In a large soup plate combine mayo and plant milk together. Whisk well. Next, in a separate plate combine bread crumbs and dried oregano and basil. Take a piece of eggplant, dip in the mayo/milk, then move to the breadcrumbs, and lay flat on the parchment paper. Repeat until all the eggplant is used up. You may need two baking sheets for this, so have another one on stand by just in case.
  5. Spray the top with a bit more cooking spray, then bake the eggplant for 15 minutes. Flip it once and bake for 10 more minutes. Take the baked breaded eggplant out and let it cool before handling further.
  6. While the eggplant is baking, prepare the sauce and the cheese. To make the marinara sauce, place a large, heavy pot (I use a Dutch oven) over the medium high heat, add the oil and sliced garlic. After 1-2 minutes, add the can of crushed tomatoes and the can of whole peeled tomatoes that you have smushed with your hands. Let the sauce come to a simmer, lower the heat down, and leave the sauce to simmer with a lid one until needed for the next step.
  7. While the sauce is simmering, combine all the ingredients for the ricotta and blend until smooth using a blender. Set aside.
  8. For the final step you will need a deep baking dish, like the 13 x 9 in (33 x 23 cm) dish. Pour in some tomato sauce, and spread around until the bottom is fully covered. Layer in the eggplant. Top with sauce, then cheese, then add another layer of eggplant, then sauce, and finally cheese. Keep layering until you run out of ingredients. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may have 2 or 3 layers. If you end up with leftover sauce or cheese, you can store them in the fridge and use for 5 days or so.
  9. Bake the eggplant parmesan for 20-25 minutes, until the dish is bubbling and the top is browned. Let the baked eggplant parmesan rest for 15 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Sweet Corn and Sesame Seed Salad

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Sweet Corn and Sesame Seed Salad, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Sometimes salads are complex, feel elaborate and deep, mature and intense. I’ve made couple of those in my life, like this incredible roasted beets and leeks salad with baby kale and the most amazing lemon vinaigrette. I also made salads that are just for fun, with a bit of this and a bit of that, by combining fruits, vegetables and nuts.

But during summer, I like my salads to be simple, yet out of the ordinary. Last summer I went nuts for a pasta salad that used only a handful of ingredients but which I could not stop making over and over again. I think we are at that point in summer when it’s time for another easy, yet amazing salad, with no greens allowed (I love the greens but there is sometimes scope to be just a bit different!).

This corn salad is it – and it’s absolutely a fabulous accompaniment to any grilled food feast. All you need are four simple ingredients and 10-15 minutes. If you have that – boom, boom, boom and you are done.

The corn I use most often is frozen sweet corn, but you could grill your corn and cut the kernels out and use that instead. I bet the grilled/charred corn flavor would be fantastic.

 

Sweet Corn and Sesame Seed Salad

What you’ll need:

1 lbs (454 g) frozen sweet corn

1/2 cup sesame seeds

2 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons steak spice (I recommend McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Place a large frying pan over medium high to high heat. Add olive oil and frozen corn. Let the corn brown as it defrosts. Mix frequently but do let the corn get some surface caramelization.
  2. While the corn is cooking, toast your sesame seeds. You can do this in a toaster oven or using a stove top. Keep a close eye on your sesame seeds as they toast because they do from nicely toasted to completely burned in a matter of seconds!
  3. Add the toasted sesame seeds to your corn, as well as the steak spice and mix well. The salad is best served room temperature, but you can serve it warm as well. Enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018