Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Fresh Strawberry Jam

Summer is the perfect time of year to make jams from fresh fruit - and you can use just about any kind of berry currently in season. This time around, I used strawberries. The jam will keep in a plastic container in the fridge for up to a month, so double the recipe if you want more!

Combine 2 cups halved strawberries and 1/2 cup raw sugar in a saucepan. (Note: I cut a couple of my largest strawberries into quarters). Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring frequently (and be aware it will come to a simmer quickly!), then reduce the heat to medium and until thick, stirring just occasionally. The recipe said this would take an hour, but mine was plenty thick after 40 minutes... Indeed, I often find that, when following jam recipes, my cook time is shorter than specified, so watch yours carefully. When the mixture is thick, remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature before storing in the fridge.

1 tablespoon of jam is 30 calories, and this recipe will yield about one cup. Delicious on toast or English muffins!

strawberries $3.99

Monday, June 29, 2009

Black Bean Soup

It is a total coincidence that I was already in the process of soaking my black (turtle) beans, when I happened across Meatless Monday's website and saw that black beans are a feature this week. If you are not vegan - or know someone who is not - I highly recommend that you try out Meatless Mondays - pledging to eat no meat at least that one day a week. It's a great way to do good for your health, the planet, and the animals... and might lead to not eating meat on other days of the week!

Anyway, check it out: www.meatlessmondays.com

Meanwhile, over here in the vegan black bean corner... you'll need 1/2 a pound dried black beans. Place them in a bowl and cover with water to two inches above the beans, then let soak for at least 8 hours and up to overnight. Drain and set aside.

To make the soup, the original recipe cooked one chopped slice of bacon in its own fat. Since vegan bacon - I used the Smart Bacon from LightLife - does not of course produce its own fat, spray the bottom of a saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add one chopped slice of vegan bacon and cook for about 4 minutes until crisp. Remove the 'bacon' from the pan and set aside.

Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, 6 tablespoons chopped carrot and 6 tablespoons chopped celery to the pan, and saute 10 minutes. Add 1 minced garlic clove and half of a jalapeno pepper - seeded and minced; saute an additional 2 minutes.

Stir in the pre-soaked black beans, the 'bacon', 2 (14-ounce) cans of vegetable broth, and 1 and 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for an hour and a half. Don't wander too far while it is simmering - I had my burner on about as low as the heat can go, but I still had to save the stovetop two times when my pot bubbled over!

Note: for the canned crushed tomatoes, you'll probably have to buy a standard 28-ounce can, but you'll only need half of that for this recipe. Save the other half for another use - like tossed with whole wheat pasta and herbs!

After an hour and a half, your beans should be nice and tender. Place 2 cups of the soup into a blender; let cool for about 5 minutes, then puree until smooth. Return to the unpureed soup still in the pan. Stir in 3 tablespoons minced cilantro, 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Ladle 1 cup of soup into each of 6 bowls, and dollop each serving with 1 tablespoon of vegan sour cream (such as Vegan Gourmet). This already feeds a crowd, but if you have an even bigger bunch of guests - say, for a summer weekend! - double the recipe and you'll have enough to serve 12. Each bowlful is 220 calories.

dried black beans $0.64
vegan bacon $3.39
carrot $0.20
celery $2.43
jalapeno $0.16
canned vegetable broth $2.98
canned crushed tomato $3.39
cilantro $1.69
lime $0.59

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Indian Chickpeas over Garlic Spinach

Protein, iron, fresh vegetables - not to mention great flavor from my spice cabinet... this dish has it all.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add 2 cups sliced onion; saute 5 minutes. Add 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. See what I mean about that spice cabinet?

The recipe called here for a drained, 19-ounce can of chickpeas, which threw me off a little, since at Whole Foods they only have 15-ounce and 25-ounce cans. I bought the 25-ounce can and removed 19-ounces worth, saving the rest for another use. But either way, drain your (hopefully 19-ounce) can of chickpeas. Place 1/2 a cup of the chickpeas in a food processor and process until minced.

Add the minced chickpeas and the remaining whole chickpeas to the onion mixture; increase the heat again until it comes to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. Add 2 chopped garlic cloves (mine were probably closer to 'minced') and saute 30 seconds. Add 16 cups (about 12 ounces) of chopped fresh spinach, and cook for 3 minutes until the spinach is wilted and dark green.

Place 1/2 a cup of the spinach mixture on each of 4 plates. Top each serving with 3/4 cup of the chickpea mixture and 2 tablespoons of plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy). Each serving is 240 calories.

onion $0.65
canned chickpeas $2.39
spinach $5.00
plain soy yogurt $0.99

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Blueberry Blender

The Liquid Ohm I made earlier this month has touched off a smoothie-kick. Here's another delicious way to start your morning with a boost of antioxidants. It is best when chilled, or you could even blend it with some ice cubes just before serving.

In a blender, combine 3 cups orange juice (fresh-squeezed or, if you buy it from the store, a brand that is 100% pure OJ), 1/4 cup agave nectar (in place of honey), 1 pint fresh blueberries, and 1 medium cucumber, quartered.

You could substitute 1 pint frozen blueberries, but at this time of year, that seems like sacrilege! Bonus points if you buy them organic. The recipe did not state whether or not to peel the cucumber, so I left mine unpeeled (it would have said so, if I should have, right?).

Blend until smooth, and then cover and chill for at least 8 hours and up to overnight - making this another perfect brunch candidate.

Strain the mixture either through a cheesecloth-lined sieve over a bowl, or through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl (I find the latter easier), pressing with a spatula to squeeze out all the juice, and discarding the solids.

You'll be left with 4, one-cup servings of 190 calories. Cheers!

orange juice $6.99
blueberries $4.99
cucumber $0.79

Friday, June 26, 2009

'Parmesan'-Corn Bread Muffins

Make these tasty little muffins in place of bread or biscuits to go alongside dinner.

Spoon 1 cup all-purpose flour and 2/3 cup yellow cornmeal into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Combine the flour, the cornmeal, 2 tablespoons raw sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt in a large bowl.

For the wet ingredients, you need two very non-vegan things: buttermilk and egg whites. For the buttermilk, pour 1 cup plain soy milk into a bowl and add 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Let stand 5 minutes to clabber (sour) it. For this recipe, you only need 2/3 a cup of buttermilk, so save the rest for another use, or simply discard it.

Combine the 'buttermilk' in a bowl along with the equivalent of 2 eggs using egg replacer (such as Ener-G) and 3 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, whisking until combined.

Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and pour in the 'buttermilk' mixture; stir just until moist.

Coat 10 muffin cups with cooking spray, and divide the batter evenly among them (about a heaping tablespoonful each). Sprinkle the tops evenly with 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan - I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then transfer immediately to a wire rack. These are yummiest served warm! Each muffin is 160 calories.

none! I had everything at home.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dilled 'Goat Cheese' Sandwich with Roasted Roma Tomatoes

The flavor combination in this sandwich will make your mouth pop!

Cut 8 plum (roma) tomatoes in half lengthwise, and place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat the tops of the tomatoes with cooking spray as well - the recipe actually said to spray both sides of the tomatoes, but this seemed like overkill to me, since the baking sheet itself had a coat!

Sprinkle evenly with 1/2 tsp. dried oregano and 1/4 tsp. salt, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the spread for the sandwiches. I thought long and hard on how to replace the 4 ounces of goat cheese called for in this recipe. Normally when I want the spread-ability of a goat cheese, I turn to vegan cream cheese; however, I didn't want to just make 'cream cheese' sandwiches. As a compromise, I combined 2 tablespoons (2 ounces) of vegan cream cheese (I used Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese) with 2 ounces of crumbled vegan feta (from Sunergia) for a little more goat-cheese-like flavoring.

Let the vegan cream cheese soften about ten minutes first, then add the 2 ounces of vegan feta, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; stir to combine and voila! You have your spread.

Toast 8 (1-ounce) slices of multigrain bread - the organic multigrain bread from Vermont Bread Company fits the bill. If you don't have a toaster (which I do not), toast the slices for a minute or two on each side in a skillet over medium heat.

Spread 1 tablespoon of your 'goat cheese' spread on all 8 slices. Place 4 of those slices flat on a work surface, and top with 4 plum tomato halves and 1/4 cup arugula each. Top with an additional slice of bread, for 4 sandwiches total. Each sandwich is 250 calories.

Serve these while the tomatoes and toasted bread are still warm!

plum tomatoes $2.67
dill $1.99
vegan feta $3.39
mutigrain bread $4.39

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pasta with Mushrooms and Radicchio

This would be a simpler pasta dish if one were not vegan, since it calls for evaporated milk. Of course, one is vegan, and those of you who follow this blog know that I actually enjoy the slow-method process of making vegan evaporated milk (3 cups plain soy milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat; cook until reduced to 1 and 1/2 cups, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon). If you don't feel like putting in all that time, you could probably get away with just using regular soy milk in a pinch. If you do make your own though, you'll have considerably more evaporated soy milk than you'll need for this recipe - but I plan to use my leftovers as creamer for coffee over the next week! (That's how long it will keep in a glass jar in the fridge).

Either way, I recommend making the evaporated soy milk ahead of time, so that when you make the recipe, you can get right to it...

Heat a teaspoon and a half of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) and 1/2 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, cooking until the butter melts. Add 3 cups chopped mushrooms (I cut mine into quarters), 2 cups chopped fennel bulb and 6 tablespoons sliced green onions; cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are very tender.

Add 1/4 cup vegetable broth and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons dry sherry (my go-to brand is the unfiltered Fino en Rama from Alvear) and cook for 3 minutes - the liquid will be just about absorbed.

Add 1/4 cup evaporated soy milk and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup chopped radicchio and cook a final 2 minutes.

Stir in 1/4 tsp. salt and and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.

Combine the mushroom mixture in a large bowl with 4 cups hot cooked fusilli pasta - the original recipe said that this would be about 8 ounces uncooked pasta, but this seemed suspiciously too much too me. On a hunch, I cooked 6 ounces uncooked pasta instead, which perfectly yielded 4 cups cooked, so that's what I recommend. (I used Whole Foods' house brand fusilli).

Gently toss to combine, and then spoon 1 and 1/2 cups pasta into each of 4 plates. Sprinkle each serving with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons grated vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), and 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. Each serving is 310 calories.

mushrooms $2.49
fennel $1.68
green onions $0.99
vegetable broth $2.69
dry sherry $10.99
plain soy milk $2.49
radicchio $2.50
fusilli $1.99
vegan cheese $3.39
parsley $1.69

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Peaches Chilled in Red Wine

The thing about desserts this time of year... you'd really be hard-pressed to do better than Mother Nature. Strawberries, blueberries, peaches, apricots, nectarines... all of them are shining right now ,and it takes very little to make them into a sweet dessert. All of which means, you have easy and healthy vegan desserts right at your fingertips.

For this one - a Tuscan-style dessert - peel and thickly slice 2 cups of ripe peaches (about 3 peaches). Combine in a bowl with 3/4 cup fruity Italian red wine and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar, stirring gently.

Either an unfiltered and/or organic Dolcetto or Valpolicella would work great for the wine in this recipe. I chose an organic variety of the former, filled with the flavors of cherry.

Cover the mixture and chill for 2 hours, stirring occasionally - I actually let mine chill for 3 hours, but the peaches held up fine for the extra hour.

Spoon 1/3 cup of peaches into each of 6 dessert bowls. Pretty ideas for garnishes include mint leaves or - for a little more complexity - vegan sour cream mixed with a dollop of vanilla extract.

Each serving (without those garnishes) is 50 calories.

peaches $3.44
Dolcetto wine $17.99

Monday, June 22, 2009

Olive-Tomato Grilled 'Cheese' Sandwiches

These sandwiches make a perfect easy lunch or supper.

To make two sandwiches, lay two slices of sourdough bread (such as the Rocky Mountain Sourdough from Rudi's Organic Bakery) on a work surface. Top each with one slice of vegan cheese - the original recipe called for provolone, but I used the vegan mozzarella slices from Galaxy Foods. Spread 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive spread over each cheese slice - I used the olive tapenade from Whole Foods' 365 brand - and made sure there were no anchovies in the ingredient list!

On top of that, layer 4 basil leaves and 2 (1/4-inch thick) slices of tomato on each sandwich. Top that with a second slice of 'cheese' and a second piece of sourdough bread - so you now have 2 sandwiches.

Lightly coat both sides of the bread with cooking spray, and cook in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 minutes on each side.

Each sandwich is 360 calories - absolutely delish.

vegan cheese slices $3.39
sourdough bread $3.99
olive spread $3.99
basil $0.99
tomato $2.20

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eggplant Stew over Couscous

This stew felt like the perfect thing for this rainy night... even though technically now it is summer!

The original recipe began by combining 1 and 1/2 cups cubed and peeled eggplant in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 tablespoons water and 1/2 tsp. salt, and microwaving for 8 minutes. Since I lack a microwave, however, I combined those three ingredients in a baking dish, tossing to coat, and baked at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, stirring once half-way through.

Next, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups (1-inch) bell pepper strips (the recipe didn't specify which color, but I chose red), 1 cup chopped onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, and 1 medium zucchini, (cut in half lengthwise and then thinly sliced); saute for 8 minutes.

Add the eggplant mixture from the oven, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 tsp. dried dill, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, 1 (14.5-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, undrained, and 6 ounces of canned tomato sauce (for those last two ingredients, I bought the ones from Whole Foods' 365 brand).

Cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make 3 cups of cooked couscous according to package directions (about 1 cup uncooked couscous yields 3 cups cooked - I accidentally made a bit too much!).

Serve 1 cup of the vegetable mixture over 3/4 cups couscous, on each of 4 plates. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods). Each serving is 340 calories.

eggplant $2.15
bell pepper $0.88
zucchini $1.42
canned diced tomato $2.19
tomato sauce $0.79
vegan cheese $3.39

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Coconut Frushi

That's right, frushi - fruit sushi! I was delighted to try out this little recipe, since I love watching the art of dipping sushi into sauce with chopsticks, but don't get to partake, myself.

Combine 1 and 1/4 cups water and 1 cup uncooked sushi rice in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, still covered, for 15 minutes.

Transfer the rice - it will be nice and sticky! - to a bowl, with 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup light coconut milk, and a dash of salt, stirring gently to combine. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper, and gently coat your hands with cooking spray. Shape the rice mixture into 20 equal balls (about 1 rounded tablespoon each), and then lightly press into an oval between your palms; place on the prepared baking sheet.

Top 10 of your rice balls with 1 orange section each, and 10 of your rice balls with 2 raspberries each. Cover and chill the frushi until you're ready to serve. (Note: if your fruit isn't sticking to the rice, try adding a dab of agave nectar to help it adhere).

At serving time, place 4 pieces of frushi on each of 5 plates, with 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of vanilla soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy) for dipping - and use chopsticks! Each serving is 230 calories.

This makes a delightful addition to a Sunday brunch, so consider it for Father's Day tomorrow! I do recommend buying small oranges - I bought a rather large navel orange, and ended up cutting the sections in half so they would fit over the rice.

sushi rice $2.74
light coconut milk $2.39
orange $2.28
raspberries $2.99
vanilla soy yogurt $0.99

Friday, June 19, 2009

Balsamic Strawberry Topping

Tonight's recipe is super quick - and not for dinner, but for dessert!

In a saucepan, combine 2 tablespoons organic brown sugar, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, and 1/8 tsp. nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in 3 cups sliced strawberries, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Serve this warm over vegan ice cream! My favorite brand is Turtle Mountain, and I had my strawberry sauce with their 'It's Soy Delicious Vanilla', but I imagine it would go great with just about any flavor.

A 1/4 cup of sauce is 40 calories.

strawberries $2.99

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Grilled Vegetable and 'Mozzarella' Sandwiches

The ciabatta bread makes these sandwiches especially delicious.

In a large bowl, combine 3 cups (1/8-inch thick, diagonally-sliced) zucchini, 3 (1/8-inch) thick slices of red onion, and one red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 4 pieces. Toss with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Heat a grill -or if you live in an apartment like me, a grill pan on the stove! - to medium-high heat. Add the red peppers and onions and grill 7 minutes on each side; set aside. Add the zucchini, and grill 3 minutes on each side; set aside.

(The red onion confused me a bit, since when I tossed it in the balsamic mixture, the layers of each onion ring separated... so I just piled them in the grill pan, and turned with a fork after 7 minutes).

While the vegetables are grilling, slice a 1-pound loaf of ciabatta bread in half lengthwise - I bought mine at Whole Foods' fresh bakery counter, where I could ascertain that all of the ingredients were vegan. Hollow out the bottom half of the loaf, leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell (I also hollowed out some from the top of the loaf, because I was worried the sandwich fixings wouldn't fit otherwise! You can save all that torn bread for another use, if you like).

Layer the grilled vegetables in the bottom half of the loaf, along with 1 cup gourmet salad greens, 5 ounces of sliced vegan mozzarella (such as Galaxy Foods), and 8 basil leaves. Drizzle with the leftover balsamic mixture, and top with the other half of the ciabatta, and press down slightly.

I actually realized that I did not have basil at the last minute, and figured rather than running out late at night for it, the sandwich would be fine without.

Place the whole sandwich on your grill or grill pan and grill 4 minutes on each side. Cut the loaf into quarters, each of which is 340 calories.

zucchini $2.54
red bell pepper $0.78
ciabatta bread $2.29
gourmet salad greens $2.50

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

'Frittata' with Mushrooms, Linguine, and Basil

Okay so this isn't really a frittata - the 4 egg whites and 3 eggs of the original recipe turn into silken tofu in my version! To make your 'eggs', combine 8 ounces silken firm tofu in a food processor with 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/4 tsp. turmeric (for color). Process until smooth, and spoon into a large bowl; set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms and 1 and 1/4 cups thinly sliced leek; cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. I highly recommend using a large skillet - I used my medium-sized one, but in retrospect, it was really too small for stirring.

(Note: mushrooms and leeks are both finicky vegetables to wash. You can use a damp paper towel to clean the dirt off the mushroom caps, or just run them under gently-running water. For the leeks, slice them first, then place the slices in a sieve and rinse with cold water, to ensure you get the dirt from between all the layers).

Add 1/2 cup plain soy milk (such as Silk), 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 2 teaspoons melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) to the bowl with the 'egg' mixture, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in the cooked mushrooms and leeks, 2 cups cooked linguine (about 4 ounces uncooked pasta), and 1/3 cup sliced basil. Toss gently to combine.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-low heat, and coat with cooking spray. Pour in your frittata mixture, and cook for 9 minutes. If this was really eggs, you'd scrape around the edges as they set, to allow uncooked egg to pool on the bottom of the skillet, but the fake eggs don't really behave that way, so just let it cook for 9 minutes undisturbed.

Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup shredded vegan mozzarella (such as Galaxy Foods). Wrap the handle of the skillet in aluminum foil and transfer to an oven at 450 degrees for 7 minutes. In full disclosure, I totally forgot the 'cheese', so I sprinkled it on top at the end after the frittata came out of the oven.

Slice into 8 wedges, two of which make a serving of 270 calories. I found that it was actually easier to cut this into 4 larger wedges, and also that the frittata slices held together better after I let it sit about ten minutes out of the oven.

cremini mushrooms $2.15
leek $1.84
silken firm tofu $2.29
basil $2.49
vegan mozzarella $3.39

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Mac and 'Cheese' Florentine

This recipe makes just enough for dinner for 2 - a pleasant find, since most recipes are designed to feed 4 or more! Make sure you've prepped everything in advance, as the cooking steps move quickly... I was not quite prepared enough, and did a fair amount of rushing about, as a result.

Place 1/2 of a 1-ounce slice of white bread (such as the Vermont Bread Company's organic soft white) in a food processor and pulse about 10 times until you have coarse crumbs measuring a 1/4 cup or so. Pour 1 tablespoon melted vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) over the crumbs, and toss to coat. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1 cup thinly sliced onion and saute 3 minutes. Add 1 cup frozen spinach (previously thawed, drained, and squeezed dry with paper towels), 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, and 2 minced garlic cloves. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cups plain soy milk with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add to the skillet, stirring constantly, and bring to a boil (which will happen quickly!). Stir in 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheddar (I used the one from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Stir until the 'cheese' melts, about 30 seconds.

Remove the skillet from heat and stir in 2 cups cooked elbow macaroni - any brand that's 100% duram wheat will do! Pour the whole mixture into a 1-quart souffle dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.

Broil for 3 minutes - it will be lightly browned.

Divide into 2 servings of about 2 cups and 490 calories each. Now light some candles if this dinner for two is romantic.

onion $0.86
frozen spinach $2.49
plain soy milk $2.49
vegan cheddar $3.39
elbow macaroni $2.99

Monday, June 15, 2009

Italian Stuffed Summer Vegetables

Start a big Italian meal with a platter of these beautiful stuffed vegetables and let people choose which shell they prefer!

Cut one red bell pepper in half lengthwise, and discard the stems, seeds, and membranes. Cut 2 yellow squash (about 1 pound total), and 1 zucchini (about 1/2 pound) in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving the shell intact - a spoon works fine, but do be careful; I cracked the end off one yellow squash shell. Coarsely chop the flesh and set aside.

Place the bell pepper halves and squash/zucchini shells in a 13x9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat the tops of the vegetables with cooking spray.

Place 3 ounces of Italian bread in a food processor, and pulse until you have crumbs equaling about 1 and 1/2 cups. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the squash pulp and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups chopped and peeled plum tomato, and cook an additional 2 minutes.

Note: I figured I could peel plum tomatoes just as I do regular ones - cutting an "x" on the bottom, placing in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then plunging in ice water, after which the skin just slips off. This did not, however, work as easily with plum tomatoes, with the skins only sliding about half way off - I assume because they are so elongated. If I were to do it again, I would slit an "x" on each end of the plum tomato.

Back to the recipe... remove the skillet from heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp. black pepper and 1/4 tsp. salt.

Divide the stuffing evenly among all your vegetable halves. Sprinkle evenly with an additional 1/4 cup of vegan cheese. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven while you increase the heat to "broil", and discard the aluminum foil. Broil for 4 minutes until just lightly browned.

1 stuffed vegetable half is 80 calories.

red bell pepper $1.50
yellow squash $2.37
zucchini $1.22
Italian bread $1.25
plum tomato $1.47
vegan cheese $3.39
parsley $1.69

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Roasted Red Pepper Spread Sandwiches

These sandwiches are perfect for lunch or an easy Sunday dinner.

Seed and finely chop 1/2 cup cucumber (about 1 small). Drain and finely chop one (7-ounce) bottle of roasted red bell pepper. Spread the cucumber and red pepper onto several layers of paper towels (and here I'll make a plug for a recycled brand, such as Seventh Generation...) and let stand 5 minutes, to drain the excess moisture.

Using a rubber spatula, spoon the cucumbers and red bell peppers into a medium bowl. To the bowl, add: 3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup softened vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese), 3 tablespoons minced red onion, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1 minced garlic clove. Stir with a fork to combine.

(Note: the funny numbers on the 'cream cheese' are because the original recipe called for 3/4 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1/3 cup fat-free cream cheese. Your choices are more limited, however, so use all the same kind! Of course it should go without saying that vegan cream cheese is naturally lower in fat than the dairy kind).

Spoon 1/2 a cup of the spread onto each of 4 (1 and 1/2 ounce) slices of whole-grain bread. You'll want a very sturdy bread to stand up to this spread, so I chose the Wheat and Bran bread from The Baker.

Top each of those 4 slices with 2 leaves of romaine lettuce, and then an additional slice of bread, so you have 4 sandwiches total. Each one is 360 calories.

If you like, assemble the sandwiches a bit ahead of time, but then keep them chilled so the spread stays pretty firm.

cucumber $0.99
bottled roasted red bell pepper $2.49
vegan cream cheese $2.99
red onion $1.13
whole-grain bread $1.98
romaine lettuce $3.49

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Liquid Ohm

How could I not make this smoothie recipe, with a name like that? A pitcher of "ohm" perfectly rounds out a weekend brunch.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over one chamomile tea bag, and let steep 10 minutes. Discard the teabag. Combine the brewed tea in a blender with 1/2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger, 2 ripe peeled mangoes (chopped), 2 chopped carrots, and 1 ripe peeled pear (cored - use any variety you like; I used an organic Packham pear). Process until smooth.

Pour into a large bowl, and stir in 2 cups orange juice. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours, and up to overnight (which is what makes this ideal for brunch!).

Before serving, the recipe recommended lining a sieve with cheesecloth, placing the sieve over a bowl, and pouring the "ohm" mixture through the cheesecloth while pressing with a spatula to squeeze out all the liquid. I found that using a fine mesh sieve was easier than the cheesecloth, however, still pressing with a spatula until only the solids were left in the sieve. Discard the solids left behind.

Transfer the "ohm" to a pretty pitcher, then pour and serve! You'll have 4, one-cup servings of 130 calories each.

chamomile tea $3.49
mangoes $3.98
pear $1.03

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sesame Farfalle with Roasted Tofu

Baking the tofu first in this recipe makes it golden and firm. The one thing about the dish that confused me, however, was the quantity of pasta called for. The ingredient list specified 2 cups uncooked farfalle, and then in parantheses, 8 ounces. However, 2 cups of farfalle is only about 4 ounces. Not being sure which was correct, I went with the smaller amount, but it meant that when it came time to serve, my portions were smaller than the recipe suggested. So if you want larger portions, I do suggest making this with a full 8 ounces (4 cups) of uncooked pasta.

In a 13x9-inch baking dish, combine 2 cups halved shiitake mushroom caps, 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use a low-sodium variety, so the overall sodium in the dish isn't too high), 1 teaspoon minced and peeled fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, 1/2 tsp. chile paste with garlic, and 1 (14-ounce) package of extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes.

(Note: 2 of my ingredients here were a bit different than specified - at home I have toasted sesame oil, not dark sesame oil, but a search on the internet seemed to indicate that they are interchangeable, if not the same thing. Instead of actual chile paste, I have a 'chile sauce with garlic', but I think the two are also very similar).

Toss gently to combine, then bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 2 cups (or 4 cups, if you like!) of uncooked farfalle pasta (I used Whole Foods' house brand) according to package directions. Drain, then combine in a large bowl with the tofu mixutre and 3/4 cup green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces.

In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil, 1/4 tsp. raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper and 3 minced garlic cloves - what a list!

Drizzle the dressing over the salad, tossing to coat. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

1 and 1/3 cups is 250 calories.

shiitake mushrooms $3.99
extra-firm tofu $1.49
cilantro $1.69
garlic $0.51

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kale with Garlic and Hot Red Pepper

Make this simple side dish to load up on Vitamins K and C, beta carotene and the antioxidant lutein.

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add 1 pound chopped kale; cover and cook for 2 minutes - the kale will be wilted and bright green. Drain in a colander, and press with paper towels until barely moist.

For convenience, the original recipe suggested buying a "1-pound bag of kale". I've never seen anything of the like in my supermarket, so I simply bought just over a pound of kale (to account for the weight of the stems) and chopped it at home, but if your supermarket has pre-packaged kale, by all means use that!

Heat a medium saucepan over low heat; add 2 teaspoons olive oil and 3 minced garlic cloves and cook for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the kale, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.

2/3 a cup is 60 calories.

kale $4.98

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Curried Couscous with Pine Nuts and Currants

The last time I made a curried couscous was back in February of this year; this one features quite different flavors and ingredients, however, even though they are similar at the base.

In a bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. grated and peeled fresh ginger and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Set aside.

Bring 1 and 1/2 cups water to a boil, then gradually stir in 1 cup uncooked couscous, 1/4 cup dried currants and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons curry powder. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.

Combine the couscous mixture in a large bowl with 1 cup thawed frozen green peas (wow, that sounds like an oxymoron, but you know what I mean...), 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper, 1/4 cup pine nuts (toast them first in a skillet for about one minute over medium heat), and 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions. Pour the broth mixture over the couscous mixture.

1 and 1/4 cups is 320 calories - this makes enough to serve 4.

ginger $0.92
frozen green peas $2.99
red bell pepper $1.02
pine nuts $7.99
green onions $0.99

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tomatoes Roasted with Rosemary and Lemon

These fresh-cooked tomatoes just scream out Italy - yum yum. Serve over any kind of pasta you like, or just spoon some onto each plate as a side dish.

In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 2 small minced garlic cloves and 2 pounds of plum tomatoes, each quartered lengthwise. Toss well to coat, and then transfer to an 8x8-inch baking dish.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, but stir every 10 minutes or so.

Remove the tomatoes from the oven while you increase the oven heat to 'broil'. Return the tomatoes to the oven and broil for 10 minutes - they should be just starting to brown.

Stir gently to combine once out of the oven. 1/2 a cup is 60 calories.

(Note: these will also freeze really well in zip-top bags for up to 3 months, so double the recipe now and save half for later if you like!)

flat-leaf parsley $1.69
rosemary $2.49
lemon $0.99
plum tomatoes $3.96

Monday, June 8, 2009

Orecchiette with Tomatoes, 'Fresh Mozzarella', and Basil

I was delighted to finally find a 100% duram wheat brand of orecchiette pasta (also known as "little ears" pasta, which is exactly what they look like!) thanks to Whole Foods' new in-house line of pastas. Since this is a pasta dish that benefits from chilling, leftovers are ready-made for lunches the next day.

Cook 2 cups of orecchiette according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Combine the pasta with 3 cups chopped plum tomato, 1 and 1/4 cups diced vegan mozzarella (try either the one from Galaxy Foods or the one from Vegan Gourmet; I chose the former), 1 cup loosely packed, chopped basil, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper and 2 minced garlic cloves. Toss gently to combine.

Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. 1 and 1/2 cups of pasta is 380 calories.

orecchiette $1.99
plum tomato $2.01
vegan mozzarella $3.39
basil $2.99

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Oven Fries with Crisp Sage Leaves

Make these simple homemade fries to accompany just about any meal!

Cut 2 small baking potatoes (about 1 pound total) into 6 lengthwise-slices each, and place the slices in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on!

Place 12 sage leaves into the bowl with your olive oil/salt mixture, and press to coat each side of the leaves. Using a spatula, carefully lift each potato slice (mine were a bit stuck to the baking sheet, so I almost recommend cooking spray!), and place 1 sage leaf underneath, in the center. Replace the potato slice on top of the sage leaf, and repeat with the remaining sage and potato slices.

Return to the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully turn each potato slice over, so now the sage leaves are facing up. Bake a final 10 minutes. This move seemed hit or miss - sometimes the sage leaves turned over perfectly attached to the potato slice, sometimes I had to adjust things a bit with my fingers.

These are best served immediately. 4 fries make a side serving of 210 calories.

baking potato $1.81
sage $2.49

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Iced Mint Tea

I'm returning to the tastes of Morocco again today, for this delicious sweetened iced tea.

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then combine with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons loose leaf green tea and let steep for 2 and 1/2 minutes.

Strain the mixture through a fine sieve over a large bowl; discard the tea leaves. Stir in about 12 or 13 fresh mint leaves and let steep 5 minutes. Leave the mint leaves in, and stir in 1/4 cup raw sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Let cool completely, and come time to serve, serve over ice! 1 cup is 60 calories.

loose leaf green tea $8.99
mint $1.99
raw sugar $3.79

Friday, June 5, 2009

Carrots with Paprika and Capers

This side dish hails from Morocco - as is typical of many Moroccan salads, you can make it up to a day ahead and chill, to let the flavors blend. Bring it back to room temperature before serving.

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon paprika, and cook for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 cup diced sweet onion and saute 5 minutes. Stir in 3 and 1/2 cups (1/8-inch thick) diagonally sliced carrot, 1/4 cup water and 3 minced garlic cloves; cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Add 1 tablespoon capers, 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar and 1/4 tsp. salt. Cook, uncovered, for 8 minutes. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped parsley.

3/4 cup is 90 calories - you'll have 4 side servings, but this easily doubles if you want to feed a larger crowd!

sweet onion $0.92
carrots $1.80
parsley $1.69

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Garlic and Bell Pepper Farfalle

Make the bell peppers ahead of time, if you like, and this recipe will come together in a snap for a weeknight dinner.

Cut 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, and 1 orange bell pepper in half, and discard the seeds and stems. Press the halves flat with your palm on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and broil until blackened - the original recipe said 8 minutes, but I always need closer to 15. Place in ziplock bags for 5 minutes, then peel off the skins and chop.

Cook 2 cups of farfalle (bowtie) pasta according to package directions - I used the 100% whole wheat farfalle from Whole Foods' brand.

While the pasta cooks, chop 2 slices of vegan bacon (such as LightLife). Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray; cook the 'bacon' for 3 minutes, until crisp. In the original recipe, regular bacon would have been removed from the pan while you add one minced garlic clove and cook it for 30 seconds, stirring constantly, but for the vegan bacon it seemed fine just to leave it in the pan while I added the garlic.

Next add the chopped bell peppers from earlier, 3/4 cup chopped plum tomato, 1/4 cup pitted and thinly sliced kalamata olives (I just chopped mine, rather than slicing because I misread the ingredient list!), 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Cook for 3 minutes.

Toss the pasta and the bell pepper mixture together, and sprinkle evenly with 3 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods) and 2 tablespoons chopped basil.

1 and 1/3 cups of pasta is 290 calories; you'll have 3 servings.

red bell pepper $1.26
yellow bell pepper $1.88
orange bell pepper $1.64
farfalle pasta $1.99
vegan bacon $3.39
plum tomato $1.09
kalamata olives $4.49
vegan cheese $3.39
basil $3.29

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Brunch Parfaits

Finish off a leisurely morning brunch with these yummy desserts - they're perfect for late spring weather.

The first step in the original recipe called for a microwave - that is, to microwave 1/3 cup apricot preserves for 10 to 15 seconds until melted. Since I don't own a microwave, I spooned the preserves into a saucepan over medium-low heat and cooked until melted. I think it took roughly 3 to 4 minutes, and I stirred pretty frequently, but mostly I was eyeballing rather than timing it, and removed the pan from heat just as the mixture got very fragrant.

Toss the melted preserves with 3 cups sliced strawberries and set aside. At least this much of the parfaits can be made ahead of time and chilled until you're ready to serve. Note: for the preserves, I used the apricot fruit spread from Whole Foods' 365 brand; as I've mentioned before, these jams are sweetened with grape juice instead of sugar, which I think makes them way preferable!

Just before serving, assemble the parfaits: spoon 1/4 cup vanilla soy yogurt (such as Wildwood) into each of 4 glasses. Top each with 1/3 cup of the strawberries. Repeat the layers.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of granola without raisins (I used the Agave Plus Granola from Nature's Path) and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons slivered almonds over the tops of each parfait (you can toast the almonds first, if you like).

Each parfait is 290 calories. They are best served immediately so the granola keeps it's crunch!

apricot preserves $1.99
strawberries $2.99
vanilla soy yogurt $2.99
granola without raisins $3.79
slivered almonds $5.99

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Couscous with Apple-Ginger Topping and Orange Sauce

Instead of a savory couscous dish, try this Moroccan-inspired sweet version; it makes a great dessert.

Grate 1 teaspoon of rind from an orange, and set the rind aside, then squeeze the orange to yield 6 tablespoons of juice.

Bring the orange juice to a boil in a small saucepan or skillet and cook for 3 minutes until reduced to just under a 1/4 cup. Remove from heat and stir in 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Triple Sec; set aside.

Meanwhile, combine 2/3 cup apple juice, 1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) and 1/8 tsp. salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Slowly stir in 1/2 cup uncooked couscous and the grated orange rind. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

In a small saucepan, melt another tablespoon of vegan butter over medium-high heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon organic brown sugar and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup peeled and diced Granny Smith apple and 1 tablespoon raisins; cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger, 2 and 1/4 teaspoons Triple Sec and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. For the ginger, look for an organic version - mine comes from a local organic grocer and uses raw sugar, so I can be sure it is vegan.

Place 1/3 cup couscous in each of 4 dessert glasses. Top each with 2 heaping tablespoons of the apple topping, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vegan sour cream (such as Vegan Gourmet), and 1 tablespoon of the orange sauce. Each dessert is 250 calories. Garnish with mint sprigs for a pretty presentation if you like.

orange $1.01
couscous $7.49
Granny Smith apple $1.09
crystallized ginger $11.97
sorry - I lost the receipt for the apple juice and raisins, which I bought separately!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Grilled 'Goat Cheese' Sandwiches with Fig and 'Honey'

In place of a soft goat cheese, I used vegan cream cheese from Tofutti for the delicious spread in these sandwiches. The result was amazing! For the honey, of course, substitute agave nectar.

In a bowl, combine 2 teaspoons agave nectar, 1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind and 1/4 cup vegan cream cheese. Stir until combined.

Place 4 slices of cinnamon-raisin bread on a work surface and spread 1 tablespoon of the 'goat cheese' mixture over each. Cinnamon-raisin bread proved a bit of a poser when I went shopping. Common brands - Pepperidge Farm etc. - are full of things a vegan can't eat (honey, sugar, yadda yadda). Even the Vermont Bread company, which is one of my go-to bread brands, has honey in their cinnamon-raisin variety. Rudi's Organic Bakery makes a delicious cinnamon-raisin bread, but the slices are large and of much higher calorie count than other brands, which would have significantly altered the nutritional profile of this recipe.

Online, I read about the Ezekiel brand of bread from Food for Life sold at Trader Joe's (and other organic markets). Their cinnamon-raisin bread is indeed vegan and 80 calories a slice, so even though I felt vaguely odd buying a food product with a Bible verse on the packaging... well, it worked for the recipe!

Now, over each of those 4 slices spread 1 and 1/ teaspoons fig jam (such as St. Dalfour) and 1/2 tsp. thinly sliced basil. Top each with another slice of cinnamon-raisin bread (so you now have 4 sandwiches total). Lightly coat the outsides of the bread with cooking spray.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and place 2 of the sandwiches in it. Place a heavy cast-iron skillet on top of the sandwiches to press down on them while the cook; cook for 3 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining 2 sandwiches.

Dust evenly with 1 teaspoon organic powdered sugar. All I can say is yum! Each sandwich is 250 calories.

lemon $0.82
cinnamon-raisin bread $3.99
fig jam $4.79
basil $3.29

The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy http://www.wholesoyco.com/
  • Vegan milk - Silk http://www.silksoymilk.com/
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia http://www.sunergiasoyfoods.com/
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods http://www.galaxyfoods.com/
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G http://www.ener-g.com/
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance http://www.earthbalance.net/product.html