Monday, June 30, 2008

Tandoori-Style Cauliflower (Tandoori Gobhi)

I have a new toy to play with! This recipe required grinding whole spices, as well as finely processing almonds. For the task, it suggested a coffee or spice grinder. But when I saw this marble mortar and pestle at the homegoods store, I knew it was the thing to buy. I’m happy to report it even grinds down a whole cinnamon stick with no effort, and it did quite a fine job on those almonds. Wow!
But as for this recipe, here's a final Indian recipe for the month of June. Tandoori refers to a cylindrical clay oven in which food is cooked over a hot charcoal fire. Although this recipe isn't quite that authentic (!) it refers to the use of yogurt (soy) and spices that flavor the cauliflower (gobhi), and provide the usual flavor to Tandoori cooked meats.

To start, combine 3 cups water, 1/2 tsp. salt and one tablespoon lemon juice in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 6 cups cauliflower florets (about one large head); cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain.

Place 2 whole cardamom pods, 2 whole cloves, one cinnamon stick and 1 bay leaf in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook two minutes until fragrant, then transfer to the grinding tool of your choice (mortar and pestle!) and process until finely ground. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat one and a half teaspoon canola oil over medium heat. Add a cup and a half chopped white onion and sauté 8 minutes. Add the spices mixture, 1 tablespoons finely processed, blanched almonds (this is made easiest if you buy the pre-slivered kind at the supermarket), 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper, 1 and a half teaspoons minced fresh garlic and three minced garlic cloves. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Place the onion mixture in a blender along with a third a cup water. Blend until mostly smooth. Return to the skillet and slowly stir in 6 tablespoons plain soy yogurt. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Place the cauliflower in a shallow baking dish (I used an 13x9 glass baking dish), and pour the onion mixture on top, tossing to coat. Cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle with a quarter cup finely chopped cilantro before serving. This yummy side dish yields six, one-cup servings of 90 calories each. Serve alongside the vegan entrée of your choice (potatoes and rice, lentils or chickpeas come to mind).


cauliflower $3.49

white onion $0.92

(blanched almonds)

ginger $0.52

plain yogurt $2.39

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thai Iced Coffee

I was in Thailand about a year ago and never got to enjoy this traditional iced beverage, much to my disappointment, since it contains milk. But back here in the States, I can make it for myself! It makes a great treat on a hot summer afternoon - it's also so sweet that you could serve it as a dessert.

Here's the catch. The original recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk. In the non-vegan world, this is ready-made on the store shelves and all you have to do is crack open the can. Luckily, you can make your own vegan version, if you're willing to put in the time.

Simply pour 3 cups soy milk into a saucepan. Add 1/2 cup raw sugar to "sweeten". Now you literally just need to condense it, which means evaporating it off over medium-low heat until your three cups becomes 1 cup. You need to stir constantly, because otherwise the soy milk will boil (keep it just below the bowling point so the energy goes to converting it into steam) or it will burn to the pan.

It takes about an hour and a half, but before you get daunted, wait! I know that seems long, but it's also incredibly therapeutic. Put your favorite CD on, read a light paperback book that you can handle with one hand, or listen to a ball game on the radio, all the while as you idly stir. Honestly, this is one of my favorite cooking activities, though I wouldn't do it every day.

All that of course, for this recipe:
In a cup, combine 1/4 cup hot brewed espresso or strong coffee, 5 teaspoons sweetened condensed soy milk, 2 tablespoons hot water, and a dash of cardamom. Cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge.

Serve over ice. This one serving is 100 calories, but since you now have plenty of condensed soy milk, serve a crowd if you like!

coffee $1.50

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rosemary-Chickpea Dip

This is the last of the bean dips I promised to feature this month, this one featuring chickpeas. It makes a great topping on crisp endive leaves, or try it in a pita pocket with tomato slices and cucumber for a light lunch.

To prepare, heat one teaspoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped green onions and sauté 3 minutes. Add one 15 oz can chickpeas (rinsed and drained) and cook another minute.

Place the chickpea mixture in a blender or food processor, along with 3/4 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 2 tbsp. vegetable broth. Process until smooth.

A 1/4 cup of the dip is 120 calories.


green onions $0.99

chickpeas $1.69

lemon $0.99

broth $2.49

Friday, June 27, 2008

Walnut-'Yogurt' Dip (Akhrot Ka Raita)

As promised, here’s a full recipe idea for how to use yesterday’s soy yogurt cheese. This is a variation on an Indian raita (a yogurt-based condiment) featuring walnuts (akhrot). It comes together really quickly, and is incredibly versatile! With pita wedges, it’s a great appetizer. Use it to dip strawberries in for breakfast, or pineapple in for dessert. Be creative!

Simply combine one cup Yogurt Cheese (see yesterday’s recipe) with 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Sprinkle the top with 1/4 tsp. whole cumin seeds and a dash of crushed red pepper, then garnish with thin slices from 12 green grapes.

Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.


walnuts $4.99

brown sugar $3.39

grapes $3.84

Thursday, June 26, 2008

'Yogurt Cheese'

Today's recipe is entirely an experiment, I repeat, an experiment. I need this "yogurt cheese" for a dip that I want to make tomorrow, but I was curious to see if it worked as well with soy yogurt as it does with cow's milk yogurt. My hunch was yes; let's find out the results...

The night before needed, line a colander with 4 layers of cheesecloth (a fine mesh cloth available at food stores - Whole Foods carries it right by the baking section). Place the colander in a medium bowl. Spoon 1 quart (4 cups) plain soy yogurt into the colander, refrigerate and let stand 8 hours or overnight.

The result is... well the result is so perplexing I don't quite know how to blog about it! Measurement-wise, this worked exactly as it was supposed to. After eight hours in the fridge, the soy yogurt had reduced from 4 cups to 2. However, the next step of the recipe said to "discard the liquid" which would have drained out. Only I had almost no liquid! So where did it go? How did it reduce? Did it evaporate away? This is two cups of soy yogurt we're talking about here!

Some things, I suppose, should not be questioned, since, heck, I got the result I wanted. Wow.

So now you have two cups of a thicker, cream-cheese-y consistency, at 150 calories per cup. Save one cup for the recipe I'm going to post tomorrow! But here are some fun suggestions for ways to use the other cup:

- spread thinly on whole wheat crackers and top with parsley
- serve on toasted bread with tomato slices
- spice with any mixture you like - such as cumin, pepper, and mint - and serve as a dip
- make a spread with herbs like dill and oregano
- use as the base of a dressing for fruit salad

plain soy yogurt $2.69

Here's a finished cup:

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Spinach and 'Parmesan' Fallen Souffle

Souffles can be tricky as a vegan, because they rely on egg whites to make the souffle rise. Luckily, as with the Grits Casserole I made about a week ago, the egg whites in this souffle are primarily there for a creamier texture, and the souffle is made to fall back after emerging from the oven. So if your egg substitute doesn't perform quite like the real thing, fret not!

To make this souffle, start by coating an 11x7 baking dish with cooking spray, and sprinkle 2 tablespoons bread crumbs evenly over the bottom. Set aside.

Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add two minced garlic cloves and saute for 20 seconds. (I was out of garlic - a rare occurrence! Luckily, I had bottled minced garlic on hand, so in a pinch, I used that as a substitute. It's more concentrated than fresh though, so if you're in the same spot that I was, only use 1/2 tsp).

Next add 10-oz fresh spinach. Cook until the spinach wilts (the recipe said 3 minutes, I found that it took more like 5). Let cool slightly, then squeeze dry with several layers of paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Place the spinach in a blender along with one cup plain soy milk (such as Silk) and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Process until smooth. Add 1/3 cup grated "Parmesan' (I used the mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Pulse until combined. Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Measure out your favorite egg replacer (such as Ener-G) to equal four eggs. (The original recipe calls for 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg, but since Ener-G doesn't differentiate, I rounded up to a full four). Beat with a mixer for the full five minutes that the recipe calls for. Although they won't quite triple in size as regular eggs would have, you'd be amazed how much they do puff up, and how much they begin to resemble real beaten egg whites!

Gently fold 1/4 of the "eggs" into your spinach mixture, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish, and smooth the tap with the flat side of a spatula. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes until set in the middle. Let stand on a wire rack 5 minutes before serving.

You'll have 6 squares of 100 calories each. Serve this with a bowl of tomato soup for a light supper! It might not photograph terribly well, but oh man was this delicious.

spinach $3.99
soy milk $2.39
'Parmesan' $3.39

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Eggplant with Spinach-'Yogurt' Sauce

It's easy enough to eat Indian cuisine that's vegetarian, but thanks to the high prevalence of ghee (clarified butter) and yogurt, vegan Indian cuisine can be a bit trickier. Not if you do it at home though! Do be forewarned: this recipe takes a good chunk of time, so save it for a quiet night.

First, make the rice. Combine 1 cup uncooked brown basmati rice and two cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed (about 35 minutes). Set aside.

Next make the spinach yogurt sauce. Heat one teaspoon canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one cup chopped red onion, and saute for five minutes. Next add one cup chopped tomato, 1 teaspoon diced fresh ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves, and saute another five minutes. Add one 10-oz package frozen spinach (thawed, drained, and squeezed dry); cook another 3 minutes. Finally, add one cup water and cook a final 5 minutes (the liquid will evaporate).

Set aside to cool, then process in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Measure out 1/4 cup chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour. (Note: if you can't find this at the supermarket, you can process dried chickpeas in a coffee grinder to equal 1/4 cup). Place the flour in a small bowl and whisk in 1/4 cup water, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 cup plain soy yogurt (such as Silk:

Pour the pureed spinach mixture into a saucepan. Add the chickpea flour mixture, along with 1 3/4 cups more plain soy yogurt. Whisk together, then heat over medium heat for fifteen minutes until it thickens slightly. Be sure to stir fairly frequently, as it will begin to splatter otherwise. Remove from heat, and cover to keep warm.

For the eggplant, slice 1 (3/4 pound) eggplant into 16 equal slices. Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet. Combine 1 teaspoon canola oil, 1/2 tsp. coriander, 1/2 tsp. turmeric and 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper. Use the back of a spoon to spread the spice mixture evenly over one side of each eggplant slice. Broil for ten minutes.

Finally - I promise! - heat two teaspoons canola oil in a small skillet. Add 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper and two thinly sliced garlic cloves, and cook for one minute until the garlic browns. Remove from heat.

On each of four plates, ladle 1/2 cup rice, 4 eggplant slices, and 3/4 cup spinach-yogurt sauce. Drizzle the garlic/oil mixture evenly over the tops of each serving. Although I took the photo before doing so just for clarity, this tastes best once you mix it all into a great big mess on your plate. Yum. 320 calories per serving.

red onion $1.31
tomato $1.97
ginger $0.65
frozen spinach $2.99
chickpea flour $2.99
plain soy yogurt $2.69
eggplant $1.45
basmati rice $2.27

Monday, June 23, 2008

Peach Barbecue Sauce

It's BBQ season, and there's no reason why you, as a vegan, should be missing out! Try this fresh, fruity take on barbecue sauce with grilled tofu steaks. Bring a batch to the next BBQ that you get invited too, and meat eaters will happily partake as well. For another twist, try serving it as a salad dressing over mixed baby greens - it reminded me of Thousand Island dressing.

This was fun to make because it's very different from my normal fare; there are a few vegan curveballs, so bear with me...

Heat 3/4 tsp. olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes. Now add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped, peeled peaches (about 3 small ones; it helps if they're not too ripe ergo not too mushy), a dash of black pepper, 1/4 tsp. salt and 3 minced garlic cloves. Cook one minute, stirring frequently.

Next, add one cup beer. You'll want it to be a mild beer such as a pilsner, because heavier beers will make the sauce too bitter. Pilsner Urquell, I was able to verify, is vegan (and also, incidentally, my boyfriend's favorite beer). Tilt your measuring cup when you measure out the beer because otherwise it will get too foamy!

Along with the pilsner, add: 1/2 cup ketchup, 1/2 cup mustard, 2 tbsp. organic brown sugar, one and a half tablespoons cider vinegar, one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, one tsp. cumin, 3/4 tsp. coriander, one tsp. hot sauce, and a dash of ground cinnamon. Phew! Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (I recommend stirring every once in a while, as the mixture seemed to want to stick to the bottom of the saucepan).

Here are the vegan notes. A) Ketchup. Although there were several all-organic versions on the shelves of Whole Foods, I was a little suspicious about ingredients like sugar etc. Then, I picked up the bottle of OrganicVille's ketchup with a certified vegan sticker right on the back! Perfect: For the mustard, I used organic yellow mustard from Whole Foods' 365 brand.

B) the Worcestershire Sauce, which - I hope! - you are aware contains anchovy paste (that means be careful of Bloody Mary's, vegans...). Luckily, Annie's Naturals makes a completely vegan version:

C) hot sauce - I don't know if there's anything of which to be wary in normal versions, but either way I like the 365 Original Hot Sauce from Whole Foods.

After 30 minutes, transfer the mixture to a blender. Remove the centerpiece of the blender's lid and cover with a paper towel instead so steam can escape, as you blend it all smooth. Pour into a bowl, and set it aside until BBQ time! You'll have 2 1/2 cups. A 1/4 cup of sauce is 60 calories.

onion $0.35
peaches $1.93
beer $2.20 (for one 12-oz bottle)
ketchup $3.99

On an un-related note, I noticed something a bit thought-provoking in the checkout line at Whole Foods the other day. They have this wonderfully natural-looking gum called Glee Gum, that comes with a Certified Vegetarian sticker! (note: be careful vegans, it does contain beeswax). Although I haven't chewed gum since my college days, it instantly put up my antenna. What about other gums isn't vegetarian? I shudder to speculate...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Eight-Ball Zucchini 'Parmesan'

These eight-ball zucchini might seriously be the cutest things I've ever seen in my life. Softball-sized and round like their namesake, I just wanted to cluck and coo to them the entire walk home from the Farmer's Market. And yes, the farmer's market is the place to find them, and they are exactly in season right now. If you're in the New York area, I have assurance from Conuco Farms (at the Union Square Greenmarket) that they should have them throughout the summer. You can also purchase them online at this great site:

To start, place a 1-oz slice of French bread in a food processor and pulse until you have coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Slice four eight-ball zucchini (a pound and a half total) in half lengthwise, and scoop out the pulp from each, leaving a 1/4-inch thick shell. Set the pulp aside. Steam the zucchini halves for six minutes, then drain on several layers of paper towels, cut sides down.

Meanwhile, place the zucchini pulp in a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside. In the same food processor, place 1/2 cup packed spinach leaves, 8 basil leaves, 2 minced garlic cloves, and one small onion, peeled and cut into quarters. Pulse until finely chopped.

Heat 3/4 tsp. olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach mixture and cook for three minutes, then add the zucchini pulp, plus one cup chopped, seeded tomato, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook another 8 minutes. (Note: the original recipe called for a plum tomato, but they are still absent from the store shelves! So if you use a regular tomato instead, seed it first. If you can find an un-tainted plum tomato, don't worry about the seeding).

After 8 minutes, remove from heat and stir in your pre-made fresh breadcrumbs.

Place your zucchini halves on a baking sheet, and stuff each with just shy of a 1/4 cup of pulp mixture.

Shred 1/4 cup of 'Parmesan' (try the vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods). Sprinkle evenly over all 8 of your zucchini halves. Now bake them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until the 'cheese' melts.

This makes the most adorable side dish ever! Have 2 of the zucchini halves for 105 calories alongside the vegan entree of your choice.

French bread $1.29
eight-ball zucchini $5.00
spinach $2.50
basil $3.49
onion $0.30
tomato $1.73
'Parmesan' $3.39

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Salsa Verde

Here's a fun twist on salsa - the name simply means "green salsa" - that makes a great nosh before a Saturday night out on the town.

Remove the husks and stems from 8 tomatillos. Cut each into quarters and place in a blender along with 1/4 cup chopped green onions, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 jalapeno (seeded and quartered), and one 4.5 oz can of chopped green chiles, undrained. Simply use the pulse setting on your blender or food processor until finely chopped. You'll have two cups, a 1/4 cup of which is only 20 calories. Serve with vegan tortilla chips such as the baked yellow corn ones from Guiltless Gourmet:

tomatillos - my apologies, I can't find the cost on my receipt!
green onions $0.98
cilantro $1.49
jalapeno $0.12
canned green chiles $0.99

Friday, June 20, 2008

'Cheesy' Baked Cavatappi with Onions and Peppers

First, a note on cavatappi. I found this shape (a corkscrew-variety of pasta) easily enough at the supermarket, but not from an organic company, and in a box with the suspicion-inducing words 'enriched pasta.' Enriching generally means some sort of animal by-product, and the suspicious one in this case was Ferrous Lactate. Research online confirmed that, most often, it is made from a substance found in animal bones. I tried calling the company, but could get no confirmation as to the origin of their ferrous lactate (it can be plant-derived). I decided, therefore, that it was safer to forgo being exact for this recipe, and to use the closest pasta I could find that was 100% vegan.

I'm happy to report that the gobbetti pasta from Bionaturae is nearly identical in shape to cavatappi, and made of 100% duram whole wheat. Nothing enriched.

Second, this recipe calls for some fairly exact measurements on several, tricky-to-measure ingredients. It's a great example of how fun and easy it is to use a kitchen scale. Mine was a mere $7, is tiny (i.e. takes up almost no cabinet space) and ensures exactness on the pasta, the 'cheese' and the flour called for in this recipe. (I've provided cup measurements, too, just in case).

So for this recipe, start out by heating half a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion, and saute for three minutes, then add 1 1/4 cups chopped red bell pepper and saute an additional three minutes. Spoon into a bowl and set aside.

Cook 6 oz (about two cups) of dry pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Pour 1 1/4 cups plain soy milk into a bowl. Add 1/2 oz. all-purpose flour (about 2 tablespoons), and stir will with a whisk to combine.

In a saucepan, melt 3/4 tsp. vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over medium-high heat. Add the soy milk mixture, stirring with a whisk, and continue to cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

The original recipe called to add two types of cheese here: sharp white cheddar and Gruyere. For the white cheddar, I used the vegan cheddar block from Galaxy Foods, even though it's yellow so slightly altered the recipe's aesthetic value. Gruyere is a white cheese similar to the hole-y Swiss cheese. I could have used the white vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods, but I actually decided to go with the Monterey Jack vegan block from Vegan Gourmet ( Their cheeses are a bit creamier, which I thought would be truer to Swiss. Although it doesn't shred quite as well as the blocks from Galaxy Foods, it does mostly shred, and you can crumble any additional bits.

So here, add 2 oz. each of the vegan cheddar block and the vegan Monterey Jack block - about 1 cup total, shredded. Stir with a whisk until the 'cheese' melts, then add 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper, a dash of nutmeg and a dash of ground red pepper. Stir in the reserved onion mixture and the pasta and stir gently to combine.

Pour the whole thing into an 8x8 baking dish coated with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, until bubbly. You'll have 4 servings of 1 1/2 cups and 370 calories each. Bon appetit!

red bell pepper $1.50
gobbetti pasta $1.99
vegan cheddar $3.39
vegan Monteray Jack $4.19

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Grits Casserole with Pesto 'Butter'

For the pesto: in a food processor, combine 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, two tablespoons loosely packed parsley leaves, one tablespoon vegan grated Parmesan topping (such as Galaxy's:, one tablespoon vegetable broth, one small, minced garlic clove and one tablespoon vegan butter substitute, softened (as always, I prefer the one from Earth Balance: Process until smooth, scraping down the sides with a spatula as needed. Spoon into a bowl, cover and chill until dinner time.

For the grits: combine 2 cups plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/2 cup vegetable broth and a 1/4 tsp. salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently so the soy milk doesn't burn to the bottom of the pan, then gradually stir in 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons yellow grits. Turn heat to medium-low and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally - you'll want to use a long-handled wooden spoon, as the grits will splatter a bit as they cook.

Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup grated 'Parmesan' and a sprinkling of black pepper, stirring to combine. Let cool slightly.

While it cools, create the vegan equivalent of two egg whites using the egg substitute of your choice. (If using Ener-G egg replacer, that's one tablespoon of the powder to 1/4 cup water). Beat with a mixer at low speed until frothy, then add a dash of cream of tartar. (By the way, there is nothing 'cream' at all about cream of tartar. It is the chemical potassiam bitartrate, a potassium acid salt. So don't be afraid of the name!) Beat again; although 'stiff peaks' will not form as they would were you using regular egg whites, the mixture will become thick and glossy.

Slowly stir in half the 'egg white' mixture to the grits, then gently fold in the remaining half. Spoon it all into a 1-quart souffle dish, coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. The original recipe made with egg whites would have risen slightly as it cooked, but was meant to fall back shortly after emerging from the oven, so fret not if your egg replacer doesn't have the same rise-ability as real egg whites.

Serve 1 1/2 cups on each of two plates with 4 teaspoons each of the pesto 'butter' on top, and you've got a dinner for two (440 calories per serving). Add some steamed broccoli spears to round out the meal!

soy milk $2.39
yellow corn grits $3.19

Finally, a friend passed along this great article about not just organic farming, but vegan farming, which ensures that no bone char or other animal products wind up in fertilizer - hip hip hurray to the farmers making this effort, and pass on the word!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Curried Tomato Spread

Yum yum - try this one either as a spread for a sandwich on baguette bread, or as a dipping sauce for crudites - cauliflower and broccoli spears come to mind.

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup water and 2 chopped garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Add 1/2 cup crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (try the Muir Glen variety - organic!, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. curry powder, and a dash each of crushed red pepper and turmeric. Cook for two minutes. Add one, 16-oz can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained) and cook another two minutes.

Now process it all in a food processor until smooth! A quarter cup of the spread is 80 calories. A word of caution: mine was a little runny, and I wonder if that was because I used diced fire-roasted tomatoes instead of crushed, so definitely do try and buy the latter.

canned, fire-roasted tomato $1.89
cannellini beans $0.79

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Warm Olives with Wild Herbs

Once the olives are prepared, reserve the oil mixture and toss it with the whole wheat pasta of your choice. Add slices of baguette to sop up any leftover oil and you've got a complete meal!

For the olives, combine 3/4 cup nicoise olives and 3/4 cup picholine olives in a saucepan. Nicoise are small and purplish-black; picholine are green, and a larger torpedo-shape. You can substitute kalamata for the former and regular green olives for the latter.

Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind, a dash of crushed red pepper, 2 fresh thyme sprigs, 2 fresh savory sprigs, and 1 fresh rosemary sprig. (I couldn't find fresh savory so substituted a 1/4 tsp. of dried). Cook the mixture over medium-low heat for five minutes.

Transfer to a bowl and let stand at room temperature for 6 hours, then drain over a colander, reserving the oil. Serve 1/4 cup of the olives for 100 calories, and, as I mentioned, toss the leftover oil-and-herb mixture with pasta for an easy dinner - add in the veggies of your choice too!

nicoise $3.40
picholine $4.00
thyme $2.49
rosemary $1.99

Monday, June 16, 2008

Lemon Verbena Iced Tea

Start this one the night before so the sugar syrup mixture has time to absorb the flavor of the lemon verbena fully. Lemon verbena, I discovered with a little research, is a shrub indigenous to parts of South America. If you want to grow your own, it likes lots of sun and lots of water. The leaves will add a lemony flavor to any wide variety of dishes - marinades, salad dressings, sorbet - so investing in a little lemon verbena plant is a fun idea. I, however, just purchased my little plant for this recipe and plucked the leaves. I found mine at Whole Foods with the other potted, fresh herbs, but check local farmer's markets, too.

Bring 1/4 cup raw sugar and 1/4 cup water to a boil and cook for one minute, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool completely.

Cook 1/2 cup lemon verbena leaves in boiling water for one minute. Drain, plunge in ice water, then drain again. Combine the leaves and the cooled sugar mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Cover and chill overnight.

The day of, strain the lemon verbena mixture through a fine sieve, and discard any solids. Brew three cups of hot tea, and chill (figure about one tea bag per one cup of water. Don't use a really strong flavor like Earl Gray or it will overwhelm the delicate lemon verbena - I used Darjeeling which seemed to work nicely).

Place 2/3 cup ice cubes in each of three glasses. Fill each with one cup of the chilled tea and two tablespoons of the lemon verbena mixture. Stir. Garnish with lemon wedges or mint sprigs for a pretty presentation! Each serving is 70 calories.

A note of caution: I tried to halve this recipe, since it's just me sipping the iced tea - don't! It resulted in so little of the sugar/water/verbena mixture that my blender almost couldn't mix it. I recommend making the full batch regardless of how many people you intend to serve, and then just brewing the proper amount of tea.

lemon verbena $3.99
Darjeeling tea $4.99

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Roasted Tricolored Peppers with Crostini

Sorry to be giving you so many appetizers lately, but they fit these early summer evenings and the lingering sunset/tapas hour so well!

For this one, preheat the broiler in your oven. Place half each of a red bell pepper, orange bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper (with membranes and seeds discarded) on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and press flat with the heel of your palm. Broil for 15 minutes, then transfer to ziplock plastic bags and let stand another 15 minutes. Remove from bags, peel back the skin (it should slip off easily) and finely chop.

Combine the three colors of bell pepper in a bowl along with 1/4 cup diced red onion, 2 tablespoons thinly sliced basil, and 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro.

Whisk together a tablespoon of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon and a half of olive oil, 3/4 tsp. raw sugar, and a dash of black pepper. Pour over the bell pepper mixture, cover and chill for tw0 hours. When you're ready, serve with 1/4-inch thick slices of baguette.

Spoon 2 tablespoons of the pepper mixture onto one slice for 110 calories.

red pepper $1.88
orange pepper $1.68
yellow pepper $1.88
red onion $1.45
basil $2.99
white wine vinegar $3.99
baguette $2.29

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kiwi Colada

A refreshing treat on a warm summer evening - perfect for cocktail hour. Its more like a smoothie than an alcoholic beverage, but add more rum to taste if you like.

In a blender, combine 4 peeled kiwifruit, 3 cups ice, 1/4 cup light rum (such as Bacardi), 1/4 cup Midori melon liqueur (yes, it's vegan!), 3 tablespoons lite coconut milk and one 8-oz can of crushed pineapple, undrained. Blend it all together!

The original recipe called for Cream of Coconut, a pre-blended mixer that is normally sold in liquor stores. However, I couldn't find verification anywhere that cream of coconut didn't contain any, well, cream. Although I'm fairly certain is a product made entirely of coconut, I didn't want to take any changes, which is why I went with the coconut milk instead.

Pour 2/3 cup into each of 6 glasses, and garnish with slices cut from an additional, peeled kiwifruit. Each serving is 150 calories. Cheers!

kiwi $2.50
rum $14.00
midori $14.00
coconut milk $1.29
canned pineapple $1.39

Friday, June 13, 2008

Leek and Lima Bean Soup with 'Bacon'

First, I'm pleased to report that even in Park City, Utah I could find all the vegan trappings for this recipe - the vegan bacon (Smart Bacon from LightLife:, the vegan sour cream (try Tofutti's:, plus my usual staples like soy yogurt, soy cheese slices etc. Hurrah!

Enough exultation, here's how to make tonight's recipe. Make this a dinner-sized portion for yourself and you'll have enough left over to serve side portions for the non-vegans around the table.

Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Cook three strips of vegan 'bacon' for a minute and a half on each side until crisp. Remove from pan, crumble, and set aside.

Add 2 cups chopped, rinsed leeks to the pan, and saute for 7 minutes. Then add 4 cups vegetable broth, 4 cups fresh or frozen lima beans, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pour half of the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth; transfer to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining half of the soup. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt and a dash of pepper.

Ladle one cup into each of 8 bowls. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon vegan sour cream, 1 tablespoon chopped green onion and 1 tsp. of the crumbled 'bacon'. 170 calories per bowl.

'bacon' $3.29
leeks $3.83
lime beans $3.18
broth $2.99
lemon $0.89
green onions $1.00
'sour cream' $2.99

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Easy Mushroom Orzo

This is a quick easy meal for a weeknight supper. It's also extremely portable in tupperware, which is why I made it for today. (I'll be eating it on a plane; as a vegan, I've learned to always bring my own!)

Cook one cup dried orzo to result in two cups cooked orzo according to package directions. Drain, place in a bowl, and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat one teaspoon olive oil. Add two minced garlic cloves and saute for one minute. Then add 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons dry white wine (try an organic sauvignon blanc), 1 tablespoon soy sauce (buy the low-sodium kind), 1/2 tsp. dried thyme, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of pepper and one 8-oz package of button mushrooms, halved (some of the larger ones I cut into quarters).

Cook it all for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are nice and tender. Then combine in the bowl with your orzo and voila - dinner's ready!

This recipe yields two servings of 1 1/3 cups and 460 calories each.

soy sauce $3.49
8-oz pkg. mushrooms $2.79
orzo $5.49

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Tex-Mex Pinto Bean Spread

I'm having a vegan taco night! Use this bean spread as the foundation for tacos by spreading on corn tortillas. Then simply add whatever else strikes your fancy - shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes. You only need to use the oven long enough to heat up the tortillas. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 300 degrees for about 5 minutes. Keep wrapped in the aluminum foil once out of the oven so they stay moist.

But as for the bean spread... pull out your food processor again. In it combine: one 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tsp. lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 a jalapeno pepper, seeded. Puree until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and stir in 1/2 cup chopped tomato. The original recipe called for plum tomatoes, but I had to substitute a normal round tomato because of the recent salmonella scare! If you use a regular tomato, make sure to seed it first; plum tomatoes have less seeds than the regular variety, so you're mixture will be too watery otherwise.

Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon pumpkinseeds (also called pepitas; look for them with other nuts and seeds in the grocery store).

Now build your tacos however you like! The recipe makes 1 1/4 cups spread, and one tablespoon has only 20 calories.

pinto beans $0.79
cilantro $1.49
jalapeno $0.20
tomato $1.82
pumpkinseeds $2.99

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Croutons with Orange and Fennel Tapenade

The recipe calls these croutons, but I think they make more of mini-open-faced sandwiches. Have a few of them along with a bowl of soup or a salad to make it a dinner.

In a food processor, combine 1/4 cup pitted nicoise olives, one and a half teaspoons capers, one and a half teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 tsp. grated orange rind, 2 and 1/4 tsp. fresh squeezed orange juice, 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, 1/2 tsp. water, and one peeled garlic clove. Process until smooth, then spoon out into a small bowl with a spatula and sprinkle with black pepper.

Nicoise olives, which hail from the Provence region of France, are small and purplish-black in color, with a distinct sour flavor. To pit them, slice around the pit lengthwise (as you would when seeding an avocado). Then, using your fingers, peel back at the slits and the pit should slide out fairly easily.

Set your tapenade in the fridge to keep it chilled, then slice 11 slices (1/4 inch thick each) of French baguette. To toast them, simply preheat the oven to broil. Place the slices on a baking sheet and broil a minute on each side until golden.

Remove from oven and spread 1 teaspoon of the tapenade on each slice. If you're serving this as an hors d'oeuvre, each "crouton" is 60 calories. Have 4 for a "sandwich" and that's 240.

Garnish with orange segments, for a pretty presentation.

nicoise olives $2.10
capers $1.99
1 orange $0.86
baguette $1.29

Monday, June 9, 2008

Provencal Olive Spread

Here's another of the bean spreads I promised to feature this month - again, a savvy way to make beans (that go-to vegan protein powerhouse) more interesting.

Watch how easy this is! In a food processor, combine one can of Great Northern beans (rinsed and drained), 1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons capers, 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, 1/4 tsp. dried oregano, a dash of salt, and 8 kalamata olives. Now puree until smooth.

Spoon it into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. This one is great as a topping on vegetarian burgers. In particular, I really like the new Bistro burger from Amy's frozen food line ( At only 90 calories per patty, you can pile on more of the bean spread. Burger buns can be tricky as a vegan - if you read the labels, you'll find that most contain eggs or honey or some other no-no. I've always found, however, that English muffins make a great bun for veggie burgers. Try the whole wheat ones from Whole Foods own brand, and you're good to go.

The recipe for the spread itself yields one cup, and each tablespoon is 30 calories.

Great Northern beans $1.69

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Yellow Squash Ribbons with Red Onion and 'Parmesan'

Try this quick side dish with any vegan entree - it's a great way to highlight summer squash, wonderfully in season right now. And only requires four minutes over the stove!

Shred 4 yellow summer squash (one and a half pounds total) using a vegetable peeler, to equal 5 cups of "ribbons." Set aside.

Heat one teaspoon olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet and add the summer squash, along with 1 cup thinly, vertically sliced red onion, and one minced garlic clove. Cook for four minutes.

Remove from heat and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, and a dash of black pepper.

The recipe called to top the vegetables with 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan cheese. The vegan gods were against me this week, though, and I couldn't find the block cheese from Galaxy Foods anywhere, normally my go-to when a recipe calls for shaved or sliced cheese. So instead, I used the pre-sliced Vegan mozzarella slices from Galaxy Foods, which is why the chunks of "cheese" in my recipe are a bit thicker than I would have liked. But the flavor works in a pinch.

This recipe makes four servings, of 3/4 cup and 90 calories each.

summer squash $3.10
red onion $1.65
Vegan cheese slices $3.39

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Jalapeno-Spiked Cherry Preserves

I love jelly on toast - whether for breakfast in the morning or in sandwiches in the afternoon. Alas, it's something I don't often eat anymore because store-bought jellies are so full of sugar and always feel like a bit too much of an indulgence. Making it at home though allows you to know exactly what goes into every tablespoonful! This jam gets an extra kick from the jalapenos. Make it on a weekend afternoon and you've got breakfast for the week ahead - just spread it on toast on your way out the door. It would be great on English muffins too. The whole wheat English muffins from Whole Foods are completely vegan.

In a saucepan, combine one cup raw sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, a dash each of salt, ground nutmeg and ground cloves, two jalapenos, sliced, half of a granny smith apple, chopped, and 1 lb. sweet cherries pitted and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups worth before you pit them).

The recipe didn't say whether or not to seed the jalapenos (I did) or whether or not to peel the granny smith (so I didn't).

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for fifty minutes, skimming foam from the top occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups. Cool the mixture (it will thicken as it cools), then pour into an airtight container and store in the fridge.

(A note from your guinea pig - keep it on a high simmer, for those fifty minutes, otherwise you'll find that it won't have reduced to the 2 cups called for. I ended up having to simmer almost half again as long).

You'll wind up with two cups of jam that will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge. A serving of two tablespoons is 80 calories.

jalapenos $0.44
cherries $9.98
granny smith apple $1.49

Friday, June 6, 2008

Stuffed Squash Blossom Bruschetta

This recipe was part of the magazine's Summer Cookbook, featuring summer-only delicacies like squash blossoms. An edible flower, they have a delicate squash taste to the petals, and look beautiful, but they perish quickly, so use them within one day of buying! You can find them this time of year at farmer's markets, or order them online at

Prepare a grill (or grill pan over the stove over medium-high heat). Coat with cooking spray and add 8 (1/4-inch) slices french baguette (4 oz. bread total). Grill on each side for two minutes. Rub the top side of each bread slice with the cut halves of one garlic glove. Discard the garlic and set the bread aside.

The original recipe calls to stuff the blossoms with a ricotta cheese mixture, but here I'm using firm tofu, crumbled to equal 1/2 cup. Spread the tofu onto a few layers of paper towels, cover with additional layers, and let stand for fifteen minutes to sop up the extra liquid. Then spoon the tofu into a bowl and combine with: 1/4 cup grated "Parmesan" (try the pre-grated Parmesan topping from Galaxy Foods), 1/2 tsp. dried dill (I inadvertently used a full teaspoon - whoops!), 2 and 1/4 tsp. minced shallot, a dash of salt, and a dash of pepper.

Spoon about one tablespoon of the mixture into each of eight squash blossoms (you might have to coax them open first) then pinch the ends to seal. Place in an 8x8 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray, and bake at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes. Place one stuffed blossom on each baguette toast. Serve immediately.

This makes an impressive appetizer! 2 bruschetta are 150 calories.

baguette $1.29
tofu $1.49
shallots $0.40
squash blossoms $14.90 (you don't want to know what I paid for overnight shipping...)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Vegetable Soup with Pistou

Here's another recipe from the French culinary tradition. 'Pistou' refers to a cold sauce made of basil, garlic, and olive oil, and in this case, it's daubed on top of the soup at the end. This soup is a meal unto itself, with some baguette slices on the side.

Before you go off to work in the morning - or otherwise head about your day - place 1/4 cup dried navy beans in a saucepan, and cover with water to two-inches above the beans. Let stand for eight hours. Drain, then return to the pan, along with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 45 minutes until the beans are tender. Drain again; return to pan again.

This time add in: 3/4 cup + two tablespoons chopped leek, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup chopped carrot, 1/2 cup chopped, seeded, peeled tomato, 1/4 cup + two tablespoons diced peeled baking potato, 1/4 tsp. salt, a dash of black pepper, four sprigs of fresh parsley, one bay leaf, and a dash of dried thyme. Add 5 cups of water, bring it all to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

A couple culinary notes. Leeks are tricky to wash because dirt accumulates between the layers, so chop it first, place in a sieve and rinse, and then transfer over to the pan. With regards to the tomato, there's a very easy method to peel them. Cut a one-inch x along the bottom of the tomato with a knife. Place in boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately blanch in cold water. The skin will peel back easily. But - if, like me, you're too lazy to boil that extra pot of water tonight, do as I did and simply slice off the skin with a sharp knife.

After simmering for thirty minutes, add 3/4 cup diced zucchini, 1/4 cup + two tablespoons dried elbow macaroni, and 1/8 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into one-inch pieces. For the elbow macaroni, I love the organic brand Bionaturae from Italy, which is vegan:

Now simmer another 15 minutes. While it simmers, make the pistou: in a food processor, combine 1/2 cup basil leaves, 3 tablespoons pre-grated Vegan mozzarella (try the one from Galaxy Foods), 2 peeled garlic cloves, and one tablespoon olive oil. Process until smooth.

Ladle 2 cups soup into each of three bowls, and top each with 2 teaspoons of the pistou. Each serving is 250 calories.

A couple notes from being a recipe guinea pig! Although the recipe specified to remove the bay leaf, it didn't say the same about the parsley. When the recipe called for 4 "sprigs" I included big whole stems. So as a compromise, before serving I took out the parsley, removed the stems so that just the little tufts of leaves remained, and added those back to the soup. Also, sorry about the "+two tablespoon" measurements. I halved the original recipe, hence these slightly odd measurements. Double it back again if you prefer and you'll find that your measurements work out much more neatly!

leek $1.94
onion $0.80
carrot $0.51
tomato $0.65
potato $0.64
parsley $1.49
zucchini $0.90
elbow macaroni $1.99
green beans $0.26

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Olive and Caramelized Onion Tart

I'm not gonna lie; this one is complicated! This is real French cooking, and I've been going for an hour and forty-five minutes and am finally sitting down to catch my breath while it's in the oven. But oh yeah, did I mention? This recipe is so fun I hardly know what to do with myself! And the taste at the end is the best part. So get ready to be a French chef. Un, deux, trois... cuisinez!

To make the dough, dissolve one packet of yeast (two and a half teaspoons, if you can't find it sold in packets) into 1/4 cup warm water. The water should be between 100 and 110 degrees, so for accuracy, I used a thermometer. Let stand for five minutes, then add another 1/2 cup (100 degree) water.

Spoon flour into measuring cups and level with a knife, to equal two cups total. Add the flour to the yeast mixture, along with two tablespoons soy milk (such as Silk plain flavor), one tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, and 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine (it will be sticky).

Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured surface, and have another 1/4 cup of flour at the ready. Knead the dough for eight minutes, adding the remaining flour 1 tbsp. at a time as needed so that the dough doesn't stick to your hands. It will still be tacky at the end of the eight minutes tho!

I haven't had much success with getting dough to rise in the past, and I think it was because I was kneading wrong, so here are some simple, correct instructions. Use the heel of your palm to push the dough away from you. Fold the dough towards you. Turn it a quarter-turn. Repeat! Yup, that's eight minutes of Push, Fold, Turn, but hey, this way you can skip your bicep curls for the day.

Okay, so after eight minutes, shape the dough into a ball and place in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning so that the top of the dough is coated, too. Cover the bowl (a dish towel works well) and place in a spot free from drafts and ideally about 85 degrees. Let rise for 40 minutes. At the end, it should be doubled in size. A trick to know if it has risen enough is to push two fingers into the dough; if the indent stays, it's ready. You wouldn't believe the squeal of glee when I saw that my dough had properly risen this time - I kid you not. It's too bad I only have a camera and not a tape recorder.

While the dough is rising, your job is not done, French Chef! It's time to make the filling.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 9 cups vertically sliced onion (no that's not a typo, but don't worry - you're about to cook the hell outta 'em. Also, it helps to have these sliced and ready to go before your dough starts rising so the timing works out right). Along with the onions, add 3 chopped garlic cloves, another tsp. of chopped thyme and another 1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary. Cover the skillet and cook for fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally. After 15 have elapsed, uncover and reduce the heat to low, at which point your onions should already be golden brown and getting soft. Cook an additional 15 minutes at low heat, uncovered, until they are very soft and - yes - caramel brown. Then stir in 1 cup chopped, seeded tomato, and cook a final fifteen minutes (most of the liquid should be absorbed).

Remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped, pitted kalamata olives. Here, the recipe said to also add "two anchovy fillets, patted dry and mashed". Well! That wasn't going to work for this vegan, but I came up with a substitute I think works perfectly. Sun-dried tomatoes have that same saltiness as anchovies, are also sold in thin patties, and also come packed in oil. Use only one sun-dried tomato for this recipe, which is about the same size and caloric value as two anchovy fillets. Pat it dry firmly with paper towels, and then very finely mince it. You'll find that doing so makes it almost a "paste", just as the original recipe called for with the anchovies - brilliant! So add that in with the kalamata olives, and stir it all to combine.

Meanwhile, your dough is done rising (congratulations!). Punch it down, and let it sit for five minutes. Then, place it on a baking tray that you have coated with cooking spray and sprinkled with one tablespoon cornmeal. Shape into a rectangle that is 15x13 inches, and pinch the edges to form a rim.

Spoon your onion mixture onto the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch empty from the rim. Bake it for 35 minutes at 400 degrees. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with 1/2 cup "goat cheese" (try the Mediterranean herb flavored soy feta from Sunergia: and with a dash of black pepper. Slice into 9 wedges.

Each wedge is 250 calories. You can serve this warm or at room temperature; a couple slices make it a vegan pizza night! Bien fait, Madame ou Monsieur le chef.

plain soy milk $1.49
fresh thyme $2,49
fresh rosemary $1.99
cornmeal $0.10 (yes, I really took ten cents worth from the bulk bin)
onions $2.99
tomato $3.00
kalamata olives $5.99
sun-dried tomatoes $2.99
soy feta $3.69

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Peach and 'Brie' Quesadillas with Lime-'Honey' Dipping Sauce

I debated long and hard how best to satisfy the requirement for Brie in this recipe. No commercial vegan Brie has hit the shelves yet (hint hint!), but there is a recipe to be had in the 'Uncheese Cookbook' by Jo Stepaniak. Alas, I do not own a copy of the cookbook, and although you can track down the Brie recipe online, I a) didn't have time to make it from scratch and b) didn't want to infringe on Jo's copyright. By all means though, track it down if you want, and you can make this recipe even more authentic!

So that option aside, I next considered a hard 'cheese', like the Vegan mozzarella block from Galaxy Foods. Although I knew this would melt nicely in the quesadillas, I use it a lot for numerous other recipes, and also didn't feel like it was true to the creamy, soft Brie that I remember from my pre-vegan days.

Which led to option three: vegan cream cheese, such as Tofutti's ( I knew the cream cheese would marry wonderfully with the peaches, plus be soft and creamy. Hope you enjoy the results!

As for the dipping sauce, use agave nectar instead of honey - nutritionally, they're nearly identical, with the same sweet taste, but agave is slightly less viscuous (a plus, in my book). Plus completely botanical-based. Combine one tablespoon agave nectar, one teaspoon lime juice and 1/4 tsp. grated lime rind in a small bowl. Set aside.

Place 1/2 cup peeled, thinly sliced peach in a bowl. Make sure your peach is not too ripe and mushy - firmer ones will hold up better in this recipe. I let mine get a little too soft in the fridge, since I bought it three days ago, so you might want to make this recipe on the same night that you do your grocery shopping! Add one and a half teaspoons chopped fresh chives and 1/2 tsp. brown sugar (organic) to the peaches, and toss to coat. In a pinch, you can substitute 1/2 tsp. dried chives for the fresh ones (like I did...)

You'll want 1.5-oz total of your 'Brie' cheese for this recipe. If you're using the tofutti cream cheese, that's three tablespoons of it. So divide your 'Brie' between two 8-in flour tortillas, spreading onto one half of each. Top the 'Brie' on each tortilla with half of the peach mixture. Fold the tortillas up in half over the filling, taco style.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Cook the tortillas for two minutes on each side until lightly browned. Remove from heat and cut into three wedges each; serve with the dipping sauce.

Two quesadilla triangles with one teaspoon sauce come to 160 calories. Serve with an entree salad of your choice to make this a complete supper for a busy weeknight.

lime $0.50
peach $4.15
flour tortillas $1.49

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cannellini Pesto

Beans get a bad reputation for vegetarians and vegans, ridiculed as a boring - yet convenient - way to get protein. Well, I beg to differ! There need not be anything boring about beans if you consistently find new and interesting ways to prepare them. This is the first of a few bean spreads, dips etc. that I hope to feature this month. Try this one either as a dip for fresh crudites - celery sticks, crisp green beans - or as a filling for tortilla roll-ups, or as a stand-in to hummus in pita bread.

In a food processor, combine one 15-oz can cannellini beans, (rinsed and drained), 1/2 cup basil leaves, one tablespoon grated 'Parmesan' cheese, one tablespoon water, 1/2 tsp. olive oil, a dash of salt and one crushed garlic clove.

As to the Parmesan: try the vegan Parmesan flavor grated topping from Galaxy Foods ( As to the garlic clove, this was the first time I wound up the courage to crush one the way they do on the Food Channel. Press down on a peeled garlic clove with the flat side of a chef's knife, using your palm to press. The idea of doing so has always kind of scared me in the past, but I found it remarkably easy!

Anyway, process it all in your food processor until smooth. Add in one and a half teaspoons pine nuts, and process until smooth again.

You'll have 3/4 cup of the "pesto", but you can easily double the recipe! 1/4 cup has 120 calories. Perhaps the best thing about this recipe though? You don't need to turn an oven or stovetop burner on once. I don't know about where you are, but its 80 degrees in NYC tonight...

cannellini beans, canned $0.79
basil $2.99
grated 'Parmesan' $3.50

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Spicy Pickled Okra

I'm not even sure how to categorize this recipe! A condiment, a side dish? Either way it looked so interesting that I had to give it a try.

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup white wine vinegar, 1 1/4 cups water, one and a half tablespoons sugar, one tablespoon salt, 1/2 tsp. white peppercorns, 1/2 tsp. whole coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp. whole fennel seeds and 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds. Bring to a boil, then cook one minute stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and add two sprigs of fresh dill, one jalapeno pepper, sliced in half (red or green, your choice), and 3/4 lb. whole fresh okra pods. Cool completely to room temperature, then pour into an airtight container, cover and chill. They'll keep for up to two weeks in the fridge.

Here are a few serving suggestions:
- use anywhere you'd normally put pickles - on sandwiches, chopped up in potato salad etc.
- eat whole as a side dish
- make a part of an antipasti plate alongside artichoke hearts, olives etc.

Either way, 1/4 cup of okra pods is only 30 calories.

Cost: (it looks high because of all the spices, but those will hang around in my spice cabinet and come in use in many future recipes...)
white peppercorn $5.99
coriander seeds $1.95
cumin seeds $3.99
fresh dill $1.99
okra $2.55

A note of caution that applies to all recipes - check your pantry before you shop! The original recipe called for one and a quarter cups white wine vinegar, and I just assumed I had enough. When I found myself 1/4 cup short, I switched the ratio, ergo 1 cup vinegar to 1 1/4 cups water instead of 1 1/4 cups vinegar to 1 cup water. I hope this didn't overly affect the pickling process. I also assumed I had enough salt, but only came up with about 3/4 tablespoon left in my shaker. Oops! Lesson learned.

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance