Monday, August 31, 2009

Whole Wheat Penne with Broccoli, Green Olives, and Pine Nuts

The flavors in this pasta dish were such a novel twist! Use a good organic 100% whole wheat penne such as Gia Russa.

Cut 4 and 1/2 cups of broccoli florets and 1/2 cup of broccoli stalks. Cook the florets and stalks in boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 1 and 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion and saute for 8 minutes. Add 1 minced garlic clove; saute for 1 minute.

Stir in the broccoli florets and stalks, along with 6 tablespoons pitted green olives, 2 tablespoons pine nuts (toast them first, if you like), 1 and 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram (use fresh oregano if you can't find marjoram), 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper; cook for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook 6 ounces uncooked whole wheat penne according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Place 1 cup of pasta and 1 cup of the broccoli mixture on each of 3 plates. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan - I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods. Each serving is 400 calories.

broccoli $8.28
yellow onion $0.54
green olives $4.99
fresh marjoram $2.49
whole wheat penne $3.49
vegan cheese $3.39

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Marinara Magnifica

I never knew this before, but apparently the word 'marinara' means 'sailor-style'. It's odd, then, that marinara sauce contains no seafood, but a good thing for vegans! Simmer this sauce on a leisurely evening - you'll have enough for at a least a few nights' worth of dinner over your favorite pasta. You can even double the recipe and freeze extra batches.

Heat 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 3 cups chopped onion and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar; cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally - the onions should be golden.

Add 1/4 cup dry red (organic) wine of you choice - I used a chianti - and cook for 1 minute.

Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram, 1/4 tsp. dried basil, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper, 3 garlic cloves (crush them with a garlic press, rather than chopping, to yield the most flavor), 1 undrained (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes, 1 undrained (14-ounce) can of diced tomatoes, and 1 (6-ounce) can of tomato paste.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours - stir occasionally, and serve over pasta of your choice! 1 cup of sauce is 170 calories.

onion $2.65
dry red wine $14.99
dried marjoram $3.99
canned crushed tomatoes $2.50
canned diced tomatoes $2.19
canned tomato paste $0.79

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Amaretto-Scented Pear Parfaits with Gingersnaps

Earlier this month I made apple parfaits for dessert. Here is a parfait that uses pear instead.

In a bowl, combine 1 and 1/2 cup peeled and chopped bosc pear (about 2 small ones), with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar and 2 teaspoons amaretto (such as Disaronno, which is vegan according to the company). Cover and chill for at least one hour.

Make 1/2 cup of gingersnap cookie crumbles - an easy method is to place the cookies in a plastic zip-top back and crush with a rolling pin. I used the gingersnaps from Mi-Del (

To assemble the parfaits, sprinkle 1 tablespoon gingersnap crumbs in the bottom of 4 (8-ounce) glasses. Top the gingersnap crumbs with 3 tablespoons of pear mixture, then 3 tablespoons of vanilla soy ice cream (such as Turtle Mountain's fruit-sweetened Vanilla) per glass. Repeat the layers in each glass. Sprinkle the top of each parfait with 1 tablespoon sliced almonds - toast the almonds first, if you like.

Each parfait is 240 calories.

bosc pear $1.89
amaretto $3.50 (I bought the smallest bottle!)
gingersnaps $3.49
vanilla soy ice cream $4.19

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pan-Fried Tofu with Spicy Lemongrass Sauce (Tofu Nuong Xa)

Earlier in the month, I made a coconut soup from Vietnamese cuisine. Here's another delicious Vietnamese recipe to try. Although tofu is the star of the show, this dish wasn't originally vegan because it called for fish sauce. I know it is okay to simply substitute soy sauce, but I wanted something that caught the... funk... of fish sauce a bit better. Research online suggested mixing miso into soy sauce. Then I actually found bottled Miso Tamari at the grocery store, so I bought and used that. (Try the Miso Master brand)

Cut 2 (15-ounce) extra-firm packages of tofu each into 8 slices each, crosswise. Place on several layers of paper towel, cover with additional paper towels, and let stand for 15 minutes.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add the tofu and cook for 2 minutes on each side until browned.

Meanwhile, mix together 1 and 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar with 2 tablespoons soy sauce or other fish-sauce replacement of your choice, stirring with a whisk.

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped shallot and 1 minced garlic clove; saute 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons chopped and peeled lemongrass and one minced red Thai chile; saute 2 minutes. Add the sugar mixture, and cook for 1 minute.

Thai chiles are the long red ones. I could only find them dried at the supermarket this week, but I was in a hurry and didn't have time to check other grocery stores, so I used that. I also took out the seeds to cut down on the heat a bit!

Serve 4 tofu slices with 1 tablespoon of the lemongrass sauce for 4 servings of 180 calories.

extra-firm tofu $4.78
miso tamari sauce $8.49
shallots $1.24

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Curried Noodles

These noodles are delicious as is, or you can serve them with stir-fried tofu on top.

Cook 4 ounces of wide rice stick noodles (properly called banh pho) according to package directions. Rice noodles are more delicate than pastas made from flour, so unlike Italian pasta, you bring a pot of water to a boil, then remove from heat and let the noodles soak for about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup water with 2 tablespoons soy sauce (use a low-sodium variety), 1 tablespoon agave nectar (in place of honey), and 3/4 tsp. cornstarch; stir with a whisk.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut 1 cup of 1/4-inch thick red bell pepper slices, then cut those slices in half crosswise so they aren't too long. Add the red bell pepper slices to the skillet, along with 1 cup chopped green onions, 1 tablespoon grated and peeled fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 3 minced garlic cloves. Saute for 3 minutes.

Add the cooked rice noodles and the water mixture; cook for about 1 and 1/2 minutes - the sauce should be slightly thick.

You'll have 4 servings of 3/4 cup and 190 calories each.

rice noodles $3.49
green onions $0.99
red bell pepper $1.64
ginger $0.72

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Vegetables a la Grecque

Vegetables "a la grecque" are cooked in olive oil and lemon juice, then chilled and served cold - who knows if it refers to a method ever used in Greece (the answer is no, according to, but that's what the French mean by it! A plate of these vegetables with a chilled glass of white wine makes a perfect summer appetizer course.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup diced carrot and 1/4 cup diced celery; cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 1 cup dry white wine of your choice (as always I recommend unfiltered/organic, and for this recipe, something French!), along with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil.

Add 1 cup diced seeded plum tomato, 1/4 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. grated lemon rind (make sure to grate it before you squeeze the lemon!), 1/4 tsp. crushed coriander seeds, 8 crushed mustard seeds, and 2 chopped garlic cloves; reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

You can crush the coriander and mustard with the back of a chef's knife, but I actually used my mortar and pestle. The amount of 8 mustard seeds struck me as very odd, since the ones I have, at least, are quite tiny. Still, I fished out 8 and used 8.

Next add 1 cup thinly sliced leek and 2 medium-sized cauliflower heads, cut into large florets. Simmer for ten minutes, covered. As always with leek, slice it first, then rinse in a colander to make sure you get the dirt from all the layers. The cauliflower posed me some difficulty! It seems laziness is becoming the norm in our society, so while I could find pre-chopped cauliflower aplenty, finding cauliflower heads took 3 grocery stores. If you want to go with pre-chopped, I'd say that two medium heads yielded about 6 cups of cauliflower florets.

Next add 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 1 (8-ounce) package of button (white) mushrooms, and 1 (8-ounce) package of cremini mushrooms. Continue cooking for 5 minutes - I assumed still covered. I removed the stems from both types of mushroom though the recipe didn't specify to, and I also cut any large caps into halves or quarters, so they were all roughly the same size and would cook evenly.

Remove the vegetables from the pan with a slotted spoon (I transferred mine to a 13x9-inch baking dish) and increase the heat so the reserved cooking liquid comes to a boil. Continue cooking until reduced to 1/2 a cup - mine took 6 minutes, though the original recipe said 5, so just eyeball it. A few of the smaller pieces of onion/carrot/tomato etc. were left behind in my broth, but I figured this was okay, too.

Drizzle the reduced cooking liquid over the vegetables. Chill for anywhere from 1 to 4 hours - I picked a middle value and chilled for 2.

Let the vegetables stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before serving. You'll have about 9, 1-cup servings of 100 calories each. And serve with leftover white wine!

onion $0.92
carrot $0.21
celery $3.39
plum tomato $1.39
lemon $0.50
coriander seeds $5.69
leek $0.65
cauliflower $7.98
button mushrooms $2.79
cremini mushrooms $3.99

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bruschetta with Warm Tomatoes

Serve this simple appetizer before an Italian meal with a glass of nice (organic!) red.

An hour ahead of time, combine 2 and 1/2 cups small tomatoes - choose any variety you like of grape, pear, or cherry tomatoes; you can also use a combination of red and yellow for a pretty look - with 3 tablespoons thinly sliced basil, 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/4 tsp. balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 1 minced garlic clove. Let stand for one hour.

Heat a medium skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Add the tomato mixture and cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, heat a grill pan on the stove over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray - use a real grill if you have one at your disposal and prefer it! Add 4 (1-ounce) slices of ciabatta bread and grill for two minutes on each side. Cut a garlic clove in half, and rub the cut sides of the garlic over 1 half of each bread slice.

1 slice of bread with about 1/3 cup of tomato topping is 130 calories. You can also use sourdough bread in place of the ciabatta, if you prefer. Ciabatta will most likely be vegan, but double check ingredients with your bakery if you want to be sure.

Also, although the original recipe didn't say to cut the tomatoes in half, I did so without really thinking. I'm actually glad that I did though, because it meant that the tomato mixture piled more easily on top of the bread slices, all said and done.

grape tomatoes $5.98
basil $3.49
shallot $1.24
garlic $0.39
ciabatta $2.29

Monday, August 24, 2009

Penne Pasta with Roasted Fennel, Cherry Tomatoes, and Black Olives

I had half a package of penne pasta leftover (from Whole Foods' house brand), and this seemed the perfect recipe to use it up.

Cut a 1/2 pound fennel bulb in half, and discard the tough inner core. Chop the rest into bite-size pieces (I pretty much just chopped mine into cubes).

Combine the fennel in a 13x9-inch baking dish with 1/2 cup halved and pitted kalamata olives, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano and 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes.

Sprinkle evenly with 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss to combine. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Meanwhile, cook 8 ounces of penne pasta (about 2 cups dry pasta) according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. Add the fennel mixture, along with 1/4 tsp. salt. Stir in 3/4 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods).

You'll have 4 servings of 370 calories each. The original recipe said each portion would be about 1 and 3/4 cups but perhaps my fennel bulb wasn't big enough, because my portions were closer to 1 and 1/4 cups each.

fennel $1.29
kalamata olives $4.99
rosemary $2.49
oregano $2.49
cherry tomatoes $3.49
vegan cheese $3.39

p.s. I know a lot of bloggers and tweeters are mad at Whole Foods right now for comments from the CEO. If you are vegan, or know a vegan, I urge you to keep shopping there. The wealth of vegan products that they sell is extraordinary, and it would be a shame to lose such a goldmine!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Apricot-Lavender Sauce

You'll definitely want to make this sauce while apricots are fresh, not from frozen ones at other times of the year.

In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup raw sugar with 1/4 cup water and 4 cups halved and pitted apricots - if you slice a gentle circle with a knife around the center of an apricot, the two halves separate easily, and the pit slips right out.

Cook over high heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring frequently - the fruit will be broken down and the mixture slightly thick.

Remove from heat an add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh lavender; let stand for 10 minutes. Look for lavender with other packaged herbs at the grocery store, or at farmers' markets. You can substitute dried lavender, too, but in that case use only 1/2 a teaspoon.

Strain the mixture through a sieve over a bowl, discarding the solids. Let cool to room temperature before covering and storing in the fridge.

2 tablespoons of sauce is 60 calories - this makes enough for 1 and 1/2 cups total, but because it will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks, double the recipe if you like. It is delicious over soy ice cream and soy yogurts. The original recipe also suggested it would be good over angel food cake. Although I don't know of any store bought vegan angel food cakes, I did try it over Amy's Orange Cake (sold in the freezer section), which was delicious.

apricots $4.99
lavender $2.49

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sparkling Peach Splash

A Google search for vegan peach schnapps actually turned up a hit when I didn't expect one - Archers Peach Schnapps. Alas, I quickly learned that it was made in Britain and not for sale in the U.S. I wasn't about to let that stop me, so I found a British online liquor store that would ship to the States... yes, I really did. If you don't want to shell out for overseas shipping, however, and you don't mind the possibility that the added sugar in your peach schnapps might not be vegan, Hiram Walker's peach schnapps is a good alternative.

For this yummy drink, combine 1 cup peeled and chopped peaches in a blender with 1/4 cup peach schnapps and 1 tablespoon lime juice. Puree until smooth, then freeze for 1 hour.

Pour a split of champagne (one of the little 375-ml bottles) into a bowl, and stir in the peach puree. Ladle 3/4 cup into each of 4 champagne flutes for 4 cocktails of 140 calories each. Garnish each with a peach slice, if you like, for a pretty presentation.

Note: for the champagne, I chose a delicious one from the Chartogne-Taillet producer, which is categorized as organic and vegan on a few wine websites.

peaches $1.16
peach schnapps (I paid a little more than 11 pounds, so about $19.50 - but you don't want to know what I paid in shipping!)
lime $0.33
Champagne $29.39

Friday, August 21, 2009

Melon Balls with Port

This simple, light dessert is perfect for summer. I found two organic brands of port that I recommend: Casal dos Jordoes (certified vegan) and Quinta do Infantado - whichever brand you choose, you'll want a ruby port for this dessert.

Combine 1 cup ruby port and 1 tablespoon raw sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes (it should be reduced to about a half cup). Let cool. The recipe didn't specify how much to cool it, but I'd say mine was a tad warmer than room temperature.

Add a dash of salt and a dash of cardamom, stirring to combine. Stir in 6 cups cantaloupe balls (about 2 cantaloupe) and 2 teaspoons chopped mint. Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.

You'll definitely want to enlist the aid of a melon baller for this recipe. I had never used one before, and confess my balls came out lopsided and a little square more often than not, but it was fun to try!

You'll have 6, one-cup servings of 130 calories each.

ruby port $16.32
cantaloupe $5.98
mint $1.99

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Curried Tofu

This easy curry is equally delicious over rice, noodles, or by itself!

Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable or canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 (15-ounce) package of lite firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring frequently - it should be nicely golden brown. Remove the tofu from the pan and keep the pan over the burner.

Add 1/2 cup light coconut milk and 1 teaspoon curry powder; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in 1 cup matchstick-cut carrots, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper, 1 (15-ounce) can of pineapple chunks in juice, drained, and 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

For both the coconut milk and the pineapple chunks, I chose the Native Forest brand, which is certified vegan. Matchstick-cut carrots are a great time-saver if you can find them pre-cut at the grocery store. If not, you can simply thinly slice your own into - rather obviously - about matchstick size. I bought a package of carrot sticks, which are especially easy to then cut down to proper size.

At the end of cooking, return the tofu to the skillet, stirring to combine. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup chopped basil. 1 and 1/3 cups of the curry is 180 calories - you'll have between 3 and 4 servings.

lite firm tofu $2.69
light coconut milk $
carrots $3.39
canned pineapple chunks in juice $2.99
red bell pepper $1.45
basil $2.99

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Grilled Portobello-'Goat Cheese' Pitas

These individual pita pizzas are a great way to use the grill if you have one! If not, use a grill pan over the stove. A larger one works best, and will make the recipe come together quite quickly - mine, alas, is pretty small, so I had to grill everything in batches.

The goat cheese called for in the original recipe was a soft, spreadable variety, so to come closest to it, I used vegan cream cheese - try Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese.

First, combine 1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic with 1 teaspoon olive oil - you can use bottled minced garlic to make the recipe even quicker if you like. Brush the mixture evenly over 4 (6-inch) pitas - I used the whole wheat pitas from Whole Foods' house brand. Sprinkle the pitas evenly with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper

Grill the pitas for 2 minutes on each side in a grill pan (or grill) over medium heat.

Meanwhile, sprinkle 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper evenly over 1 (6-ounce) package of sliced portobello mushrooms and 2 medium tomatoes, each cut into 1/4-inch thick slices.

Grill the portobellos for 6 minutes, turning halfway through cooking. Remove from grill or grill pan.

Grill the tomatoes for 1 minute.

Spread 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese evenly over the 4 pitas. Top evenly with the portobello and mushroom slices. Sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped basil evenly over the tops. Each topped pita is 290 calories.

pita bread $1.99
portobello mushrooms $3.49
tomatoes $2.11

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Penne with Mushroom Sauce

This pasta is a delicious hearty entree - serve it with glasses of the leftover red wine you use for cooking in the sauce. I chose an organic chianti which paired beautifully.

To begin, melt a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, and 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot; saute for 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 and 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup dry red wine of your choice and cook for 10 minutes - the liquid should be almost all evaporated.

Here, the recipe called for adding a 10-and-1/2-ounce can of beef consomme (that should have a French accent over the "e"), which is a slightly clearer mixture than a broth because it has been filtered. I don't think they make vegetable consomme, so using regular vegetable broth is a fine alternative. So stir in 10-and-a-half ounces vegetable broth, along with 1/8 tsp. dried thyme, and 1/8 tsp. black pepper; bring the mixture to a boil, then cook until reduced to a cup (about 3 minutes).

Strain through a sieve over a bowl, and discard the solids. I actually mistakenly had 1 and 1/2 cups 'consomme' mixture left over instead of 1 cup, because I misjudged how far down it had reduced, but I shrugged off the difference. Set the 'consomme' aside.

Melt another tablespoon of vegan butter over medium-high heat, this time in a saucepan. Add 1, 8-ounce package of pre-sliced mushrooms and saute for 5 minutes. Add the 'consomme' mixture, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Whisk 1 teaspoon cornstarch into 1 tablespoon water. Add to the mushroom broth, along with 1/8 tsp. salt; return to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Combine the mushroom sauce in a large bowl with 4 cups cooked (8 ounces uncooked) penne pasta - cook the pasta while you're making the sauce mixture so that it's ready on time! I used the penne from Whole Foods' house brand.

Ladle 1 cup of pasta into each of 4 bowls; each serving is 310 calories. Flat-parsley sprigs make a pretty garnish, if you like.

onion $1.29
carrot $0.16
tomato paste $1.50
red wine $13.99
vegetable broth $1.49
sliced mushrooms $2.49
penne pasta $1.99

Monday, August 17, 2009

Apple Pie a la Mode Parfaits

These delicious individual desserts are a lot easier than making a real apple pie!

In a saucepan, combine 2 and 1/4 cups peeled and chopped apple (Braeburn works nicely, or any other variety that's good for baking in apple pie), 1/4 cup raw sugar, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 tsp. apple-pie spice.

Bring the mixture to a boil (don't forget: the fruit and the sugar will soon yield liquid, which is what is going to boil, even though there isn't liquid in the saucepan as you place it over the burner), then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Uncover and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then spoon into a bowl; cover and chill.

When it's time to assemble the parfaits, spoon 1 tablespoon crumbled oatmeal raisin cookie crumbs into the bottom of 4 (8-ounce) glasses. Ironically, I used the No Oats "Oatmeal" cookies from Enjoy Life Foods, which are certified vegan on the box: They contain no oats because they are gluten free, but I often find when buying baked goods that the options for a vegan and those for people with gluten allergies overlap. Either way, the taste was right, which served my purposes!

Top the cookie crumbs with 1/4 cup apple mixture and 3 tablespoons vanilla soy ice cream (such as Turtle Mountain's fruit-sweetened Vanilla), in each glass. Repeat the layers once, ending with the soy ice cream on top.

Due to the soy ice cream, of course, these are best served immediately. Each parfait is 290 calories.

Note: if you can't find or don't want to buy apple-pie spice, it's simply a convenient pre-made mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, so you could use about 1/4 tsp. of each of those instead.

Second note: two things in this recipe perplexed me. A) The ingredient list originally called for 1 and 1/2 cups crumbled oatmeal raisin cookies - it said that would be 2 ounces of cookies, but required 6 ounces! Then, when I assembled the parfaits, and saw that only 2 tablespoons of crumbs were needed per parfait, I only needed to use 1/2 a cup of my crumbles (which was 2 ounces). I am not sure which is in error - the ingredient list, or the assembly instructions. I went with the assembly instructions, but if you want more cookie per parfait, then add 3 tablespoons of oatmeal crumbs instead of only 1.

B) Although the recipe called for 1/2 cup total of apple mixture per parfait, that doesn't intuitively make sense. The recipe starts with just over 2 cups of apples, but obviously those condense down a bit during cooking, so 1/2 cup per parfait is quite simply not what you have to work with... As I layered the parfaits, I used just shy of 1/4 cup of apple mixture each place that was called for.

Braeburn apple $2.43
apple-pie spice $5.19
oatmeal cookies $3.79
vanilla soy ice cream $5.99

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Eggplant and Tomato Gratin

The cover article of last Sunday's New York Times Magazine was about how no one cooks anymore - or, at least, that cooking might mean heating a frozen pizza, but no one is cooking from scratch. I beg to differ, and I think this blog is proof. Maybe I'm the only one left in America who condenses her own (soy) milk for an hour and a half over the stove, or makes tomato puree from fresh tomatoes instead of cracking open a can, but heck, I still love it!

It is precisely tomato puree that I made to start this dish tonight - canned tomatoes can be fine in a pinch (and in the winter), but right now the summer crop looks and smells amazing, so I wanted mine fresh.

Chop, seed, and peel 3 pounds of tomatoes - don't forget that the easy way to peel them is to make an X along the bottom of each tomato, drop in boiling water for 1 minute, then transfer to ice water to stop the cooking process. The skins will easily slip off.

Place the resulting chopped and seeded tomatoes in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor and pulse about 5 times, until pureed. I recommend removing the center of your blender's lid and covering with a paper towel, so steam can escape. Set the puree aside.

Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat and add 1/4 cup finely chopped celery, 3 tablespoons finely chopped onion and 3 tablespoons finely chopped carrot; saute for 2 minutes. Add the tomato puree, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, and 1 basil leaf. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes - the mixture should be slightly thickened.

Discard the bay leaf, thyme sprig, and basil leaf, and set the sauce aside.

Meanwhile, peel 2 and 1/2 pounds of medium-sized eggplant (about 2 eggplant), but as you peel, leave thin strips of peel attached. Slice the eggplant into 1/2-inch thick slices, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray - you'll probably need two baking sheets. Lightly coat the tops of the eggplant with cooking spray and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Broil for 5 minutes on each side.

I actually forgot the salt and pepper before I began to broil, but I did the sprinkling in the middle, when I took the baking sheets from the oven to flip the eggplant slices over.

Coat a 2-quart baking dish (the same as an 11x7-inch baking dish) with cooking spray. Spread 3/4 cup of the tomato sauce on the bottom. Arrange 1/3 of the eggplant slices on top of the sauce, then sprinkle with 1 tablespoon thinly sliced basil. Repeat with another 3/4 cup sauce, another 1/3 of the eggplant, another tablespoon of thinly sliced basil. Repeat a second time - 3/4 cup sauce, the final 1/3 of the eggplant, and a final tablespoon of thinly sliced basil.

Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan - I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods.

Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes - the eggplant should be nice and tender. Let stand for 10 minutes before dividing into 6 equal portions of 130 calories each.

As with so many recipes that are deemed 'side dishes' for non-vegans, I think double portions of this easily make a main course meal.

tomatoes $9.03
carrot $0.16
bay leaves $3.99
thyme $2.49
basil $2.99
eggplant $5.63
vegan cheese $3.39

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spicy Corn Relish

Growing up, 'relish' only meant one thing, and that was the pickled cucumber-variety sold in a jar at the grocery store. It was always available with the mustard and ketchup at hot dog stands, but I always stayed far away from it.

Now I know a relish is any mixture of pickled vegetables (or fruits - i.e. tomatoes!) in a sauce, and that it can easily be made at home. These heartier relishes become almost more like side dishes than condiments. The original recipe suggested serving this alongside chicken nuggets, so I went out and bought the vegan Chic-a-roos nuggets from the Food for Life company: Try any 'chicken' nuggets of your choice - be careful because some vegetarian companies use egg whites etc. Or have it with vegan hot dogs!

To make the relish, chop one cup Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion of your choice), 1 cup celery and 1/2 cup green bell pepper. Place in a food processor and pulse about 5 times until finely chopped - I actually did this working in two batches, since my food processor is small, which worked just fine. Set aside.

In a saucepan, combine 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 2/3 cup raw sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric, 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper and 1 (4-ounce) jar of diced pimientos (drained) - stir until the sugar dissolves.

I messed up the pimientos twice, trying to buy them! Without thinking, I bought canned green chiles my first trip to the grocery store, before realizing that's not what was called for - pimientos are sold in jars near bottled red peppers, olives etc., and are milder and sweeter. I went back to the store for those, but come home with sliced ones! Luckily, this was easily resolved by dumping the sliced pimientos on a cutting board and dicing them myself.

Stir in the chopped onion mixture and 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 or 4 ears). Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

1/2 a cup of relish is 130 calories.

Vidalia onion $0.61
celery $3.39
green bell pepper $0.82
turmeric $2.19
jarred pimientos $2.49
fresh corn $2.49

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lentil Dal Wraps

Dal, an Indian preparation of lentils, makes for a thick, creamy filling in these flatbread sandwiches. The original recipe recommended the flatbread wraps from a company called Flatout, but a perusal of their ingredients did not seem nearly vegan or all-natural enough; I went to Whole Foods instead. The closest substitute was their house brand of whole wheat lavash wraps. However, since the recipe called for 2, 1.5 ounce flatbreads, and the lavash wraps were 3 ounces each, I split one in half and used half for each wrap.

Begin by making the lentils, however. Heat a teaspoon and a half of canola oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup vertically sliced Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion of your choice) and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup dried red lentils, 1 small cinnamon stick, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger and 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper; cook for 10 minutes.

This step made me nervous - cooking the lentils for that long without any liquid? And of course even having been leery, I didn't pay attention and turned around to find a few of my lentils were burning onto the bottom of the saucepan! To avoid that, make sure you stir occasionally, and I also recommend turning down the heat even a notch lower than medium.

Add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable broth; bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup more water and 2 and 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice; continue to cook for half an hour, stirring occasionally - the mixture will be thick by the end.

Stir in 1/4 tsp. salt and remove the cinnamon stick. Let the mixture come to room temperature before spreading over the flatbreads.

As I mentioned, use any 1.5 ounce brand of your choice that is vegan, or split 1 whole wheat lavash roll from Whole Foods' bakery in half. On each flatbread, spread 1/2 cup of the dal and top with 1 tablespoon plain soy yogurt (such as Whole Soy). Julienne-cut a 1/4 cup of cucumber, and divide evenly among the two flatbreads.

Roll each up, then cover and chill. Because these are meant to be made ahead, they are perfect for a portable lunch to work. Each wrap is 470 calories.

ginger $0.48
flatbread wraps $2.89
plain soy yogurt $1.59
cucumber $0.66

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oven-Dried Figs

Try this method for drying figs at home and they will be much softer and moister than any dried figs you can purchase at the grocery store. The method is quite simple:

Cut 10 medium-sized figs in half (I used adorable little Brown Turkey figs - the total weight of all 10 should be about 1 pound).

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat the foil with cooking spray. Arrange the fig halves in a single layer, and bake at 250 degrees anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, judging when the figs are almost dry but still soft.

A 1/4 cup of dried figs is 60 calories. Snack on them plain, or you can chop them up and toss in a salad, or sprinkle over vegan ice cream.

figs $6.98

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Soba with Garlic Chives, Mushrooms, and Bok Choy

Garlic chives are deliciously pungent compared to regular chives - I found mine at the Greenmarket in Union Square, and any farmers' market would be a good place to look for them. If you can't find them, use 3 cups of sliced leek with 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic instead.

Bring 3 quarts of water (12 cups) to a boil in a Dutch oven. Cut 1 pound of bok choy (about 1 large head) into 1-inch pieces, and separate the tough stalks from the leafy green portions. Boil the stalks for 2 minutes, then add the green portions and cook an additional minute.

Remove the bok choy with a slotted spoon, and place in a colander; rinse under cold water.

Return the water in the Dutch oven to a boil, and add 8 ounces uncooked soba - try the Eden Organic brand ( Drain and rinse with warm water.

While the soba cooks, heat 2 and 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet (or use a wok if you have one!) over medium-high heat. Add 3 cups (1-inch) slices of garlic chives and stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add 5 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps and 5 cups thinly sliced cremini mushrooms (about 1/2 a pound of each mushroom variety), along with 1/3 cup sake; cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 3 minutes.

For the sake, by nigori (unfiltered) sake so you don't have to worry about the source of the filtration material. I bought the Sho Chuki Bai brand from Takara sake.

Uncover the skillet; add the bok choy and 1/3 cup soy sauce - use a low-sodium variety so sodium levels in the whole dish aren't out of control; cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked soba and cook for 2 minutes, tossing so everything is combined.

This dish is best served immediately. 1 and 1/3 cups is 250 calories, and you'll have 6 servings.

bok choy $4.90
soba $3.39
garlic chives $3.50
shiitake mushrooms $7.98
cremini mushrooms $3.71
sake $11.95

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wild Rice, Asparagus, and 'Goat Cheese' 'Frittata'

In the past when I've made 'frittatas', they haven't held together quite as well as I wanted. Well, an idea popped into my head tonight, and I'm happy to announce it worked perfectly.

The original recipe called for 5 eggs and 4 egg whites - quite a lot. To replicate that, normally I would have mixed together 16-ounces of silken tofu with 1/4 cup water, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a blender. But this time I also made the equivalent of one egg using Ener-G egg replacer, hoping this would help things firm up and gel more, and boy was I right.

Blend all that together, then pour into a bowl. Whisk in an additional 2 tablespoons water, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. (You could also add just a dash of turmeric for color if you like, although I did not). Set aside.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Add 1 cup (1-inch thick) slices of asparagus and 1 minced garlic clove; saute 2 minutes. Add 1 cup thinly sliced green onion and saute an additional minute.

Add 1/2 cup halved grape tomatoes (I actually used small cherry tomatoes instead), 1/2 cup cooked wild rice (which is just shy of 1/4 cup uncooked rice), 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil and 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind. Cook for 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium and smooth the mixture down into an even layer in the pan.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup crumbled vegan feta in place of the goat cheese (such as Sunergia).

Pour your 'egg' mixture over the vegetables and cook for 4 minutes, then wrap the handle of the skillet in aluminum foil and transfer to an oven. Broil for 4 minutes.

My fake frittata did come out set and golden brown just as the original recipe said the real eggs would. I was thrilled.

Slice into 4 wedges, each of which is 180 calories.

Note: wild rice can be hard to find sold by itself - I bought a blend which was a mixture of brown rice, wild rice, Wehani rice and Black Japonica rice - sounds wild enough for me!

silken tofu $2.39
asparagus $3.09
green onions $0.99
cherry tomatoes $3.99
wild rice $3.39
lemon $0.50
vegan feta $3.69

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baked Figs and Nectarines over 'Ice Cream'

Try this delicious dessert with any soy ice cream of your choice - I recommend Turtle Mountain's fruit-sweetened Soy Delicious Vanilla. You could also serve the baked fruits over slices of vegan cake.

Slice 6 light-skinned figs (I used Sierra figs) in half lengthwise. Slice two nectarines in half; discard the pit from each and cut into quarters. Use 6 of those quarters for this recipe (so, 1 and a half nectarines), and save 2 quarters for another use - or just nibble on them!

Arrange the fruits in a single layer in an 8x8-inch baking dish. Pour 2 tablespoons late-harvest riesling over the them - late-harvest riesling is a very sweet dessert variety of riesling, so if you can't find it, subsitute another sweet white, such as Gewurztraminer. And buy organic if you can!

Drizzle 1 tablespoon agave nectar over the fruit (in place of honey) and sprinkle with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons raw sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serve warm over vanilla soy ice cream. 1/2 a cup of 'ice cream' plus 1/2 a cup of the fruit makes a dessert of 280 calories.

figs $3.99
nectarines $1.49
late-harvest riesling $29.41
vanilla soy ice cream $4.19

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Potato and Summer Vegetable Stovetop Casserole

I actually was a bit perplexed by the title of this dish as a 'casserole'. Typically referring to any dish made in a deep pot of the same name in the oven, this dish fits neither part of that definition, relying instead on a cast-iron skillet and (as the name suggests) the stovetop. I then assumed the ingredients must be traditional casserole ingredients - generally chopped vegetables, a starchy binder and a crunchy topping - but again, no. It is really just layers of vegetables and some herbs and spices.

Oh well! A casserole or otherwise, it was delicious - the spices infuse through the layers of veggies for a startlingly rich result. Do all of your chopping in advance, because there are a lot of vegetables at play. Here goes:

Cut a medium-sized yellow bell pepper and a medium-sized red bell pepper in half, and discard the seeds and membranes from both. Place them on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, pressing to flatten with the palm of your hand, and broil them for 8 minutes. Let stand in zip-top bags for about 5 minutes (or longer, so you don't burn your hands!) before removing the skins and slicing them into strips. Set aside.

Peel 1 pound of fingerling potatoes, and slice them into 1/4-inch thick slices. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat; add the potato slices, tossing to coat in the oil, then arrange them in a single layer in the skillet. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped basil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper and 1 minced garlic clove.

Over that, arrange 4 cups of vertically sliced Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion of your choice), 2 cups (1/4-inch thick) slices of zucchini, 1 cup (1/4-inch thick) slices of yellow squash, another tablespoon chopped basil, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. black pepper, and 1 minced garlic clove.

Layer that with the bell pepper strips, 2 tablespoons chopped basil, 1 minced garlic clove, and 1 cup halved grape tomatoes.

Drizzle the top with an additional tablespoon of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of water and a final 1/4 tsp. of salt, then cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 25 minutes.

Uncover at the end, increase the heat to high and cook for 3 minutes - any liquid should be evaporated. Divide into 4 equal servings of 230 calories each. Garnish with flat-leaf parsley if you like for a pretty presentation.

I forgot to add the water in the step just before covering. I remembered towards the end, so I let my vegetables cook about 5 minutes longer than specified to ensure they were tender enough - whoops!

It looks beautiful while on the stovetop, too!

yellow bell pepper $1.10
red bell pepper $1.71
fingerling potatoes $3.99
basil $3.49
Vidalia onion $0.74
zucchini $0.85
yellow squash $0.66
grape tomatoes $3.49

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hearty Fresh Tomato Salsa

This salsa took nearly an hour to prepare, but the result is so much fresher and yummier than any salsa you can buy in a can, it's worth it! It feeds a large crowd, but you can halve the amounts if you don't want quite so much. Serve with chips, use in tacos and burritos, or as a condiment over veggie burgers.

First you have to peel, seed, and chop 4 pounds of tomatoes, which was the time consuming part. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, while you slice an X on the bottom of each tomato; cook them for 1 minute, then plunge in ice water, and their skins will slip off easily. Seed and chop the tomatoes - you should wind up with about 6 cups.

Place the chopped tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt; toss gently and let stand for 30 minutes.

While the tomatoes are draining, in a large bowl combine: 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn), 1 cup minced fresh cilantro (make sure to buy 2 bunches! I only had 1 bunch which yielded 1/2 a cup of cilantro, but I figured that was okay), 1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia), 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 2 teaspoons raw sugar, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lime juice, 3 chopped and seeded jalapeno peppers, 2 minced garlic cloves, and one rinsed and drained (15-ounce) can of black beans.

Add the tomatoes when they are done draining. Finely chop one chipotle chile from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce (such as Casa Fiesta). Add to the salsa, along with 8 teaspoons of the sauce - that will result in a very spicy salsa, so if you want it milder, add less. I confess all of my "teaspoons" were only about half full since I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy food! Freeze the remaining chipotle chiles in individual portions of an ice cube tray for the next time you need them.

Stir the salsa to combine everything. 1/2 a cup is 90 calories, and you will have 16 servings - I told you it feeds a crowd!

tomato $11.54
fresh corn $1.00
Vidalia onion $1.03
limes $1.18
jalapeno peppers $0.40
canned black beans $1.79
canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce $3.59

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lemon Southwest Rice

The southwestern flavors of chiles and cilantro make this rice dish interesting. It's very yummy alongside the Farmers' Market Quesadillas I made a couple of nights ago.

Melt a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup thinly sliced leek and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, then add 1 cup uncooked long-grain rice (such as basmati) and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Add 2 cups vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. ground coriander and a pinch of crumbled saffron threads. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes - the liquid should all be absorbed.

Just before serving, stir in 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles (undrained; I bought the ones from Whole Foods' 365 brand), and 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind.

3/4 cup is a side serving os 220 calories.

long-grain rice $3.94
vegetable broth $2.69
ground coriander $2.69
cilantro $1.69
canned green chiles $0.99

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Zucchini-'Buttermilk' Soup with Watercress Pesto

Here's yet another way to take advantage of summer's crop of zucchini.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and coat with cooking spray. Add 1/2 cup chopped leek and 1/2 cup chopped celery; saute 4 minutes.

Add 5 cups chopped zucchini and saute for 5 minutes. Add 1 (14-ounce) can of vegetable broth; bring to a boil, then partially cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Let cool slightly (about 5 minutes) before transferring to a blender and pureeing until smooth - do this in two batches if you need to, depending on the size of your blender. Transfer the pureed soup to a bowl.

Make one cup of vegan buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a measuring cup, then filling with plain soy milk (such as Silk) to equal one cup. Let stand 5 minutes to clabber (sour) it before stirring into the pureed soup, along with 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Meanwhile, make the pesto. In a blender or food processor, place 1/2 cup watercress leaves (you can substitute arugula if you prefer), 2 tablespoons shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1 tablespoon pine nuts, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Process until smooth.

Ladle 3/4 cups of soup into each of 6 bowls, and drizzle each serving with 2 teaspoons of pesto. It's up to you whether to serve the soup warm or chilled, since it's delicious both ways! Do whichever you prefer according to your taste or the current August weather in your area.

Each serving is 70 calories.

leek $1.27
celery $3.39
zucchini $2.40
canned vegetable broth $1.49
plain soy milk $2.49
watercress $1.69
vegan cheese $3.39

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Farmers' Market Quesadillas

Pass around wedges of these quesadillas on a tray as appetizers, or make it into a light supper with a salad on the side.

Place 1 poblano chile and 1/2 of a red bell pepper on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Broil for 10 minutes, then place in zip-top bags for 15 minutes. Peel the peppers, discard any seeds and membranes, and slice into thin strips. And p.s. I love the 'broil' setting on my new oven so much better than the one in my old kitchen!

Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. The recipe called for adding one small onion, thinly sliced, but since the onions at the grocery store were all a tad bigger, I'd say I cut a "medium" onion in half and used that. Saute the onion slices for 3 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup chopped yellow squash and 1 minced garlic clove; saute 3 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup chopped oyster mushrooms and the red bell pepper and poblano strips; cook for 5 minutes. Any juice generated from the mushrooms should be absorbed. Add 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. black pepper.

Place 2 (8-inch) tortillas flat on a work space. I used the whole wheat tortillas from Whole Foods' 365 brand. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons shredded vegan Monterey Jack (Vegan Gourmet makes a version) and with 1 tablespoon vegan feta (such as Sunergia) in place of crumbled goat cheese. Next top both tortillas with 2/3 a cup of the vegetable mixture, followed by 2 more tablespoons 'Monterey Jack', one more tablespoon 'feta', and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons chopped cilantro. Place a second tortilla on top of each quesadilla.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 1 quesadilla at a time, for 5 minutes on each side. Cut each quesadilla into 6 wedges (so you have 12 wedges total). 2 wedges makes a serving of 140 calories - again, perfect for an appetizer nosh, but have more wedges alongside a salad to make it a meal.

poblano chile $0.80
onion $0.70
yellow squash $0.59
oyster mushrooms $3.00 - this is just an estimate! I lost the receipt for them
'Monterey Jack' cheese $3.50
vegan feta $3.69
tortillas $1.69

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Toasted Bagels with Avocado-Cilantro Spread

I haven't had a bagel in ages! When I saw this recipe, I decided to ferret out a vegan brand, and found it easily with the multigrain bagels from Rudi's Organic Bakery. Do read ingredient labels for hidden things like honey if you choose another brand.

These toasty sandwiches make a quick weeknight supper. Peel and seed one small ripe avocado first, by slicing around its circumference with a knife, then twisting the two halves apart. The seed should come out easily.

In a bowl, combine 1/3 cup vegan cream cheese (such as Tofutti's Better than Cream Cheese), 1/4 cup minced cilantro and the avocado; mash with a fork until smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lime juice, 1/4 tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp. hot pepper sauce (such as the Hot Stuff from the Wizard).

Toast 4 (2-ounce) whole-grain bagels. Spread each bagel with 1/4 cup of the avocado spread for 4 servings of 240 calories. These make a great portable breakfast or lunch for work as well!

cream cheese $2.29
cilantro $1.69
avocado $2.29
lime $0.33
multigrain bagels $4.19

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sweet Coconut Tapioca Soup with Bananas (Che Chuoi)

Try this interesting dessert soup from Vietnam next time you want to try out new dessert flavors! Vietnamese cooking is really interesting because it combines French and Chinese influences, although this particular recipe definitely leans more toward Asian cuisine.

Bring 2 cups of water and 1 (14-ounce) can of light coconut milk to a boil. Stir in 1/2 cup raw sugar, 1/4 cup granulated tapioca, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.

Slice 2 ripe bananas into quarters, lengthwise, then chop into 1/2-inch pieces (two bananas should measure about 1 and 1/2 cups total). Add the bananas to the tapioca mixture at the end of cooking, then cover and let stand for 15 minutes.

Here's where the dessert becomes incredibly versatile. Serve it warm if you like, or let it come to room temperature, or put it in the fridge and let it chill for 3 hours, and serve chilled. Note that the cooler the soup is, the thicker it will become.

Spoon one cup of the soup into each of 4 bowls, and sprinkle the top of each serving with 1/4 tsp. sesame seeds, for 4 servings of 250 calories each.

light coconut milk $2.39
sugar $3.39
granulated tapioca $2.69
bananas $1.15

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Barley Risotto with Fennel and Olives

The method for this risotto worried me slightly, since normally liquid is added to a risotto a little at a time, and absorbed batch by batch before adding the next bit of liquid. In this recipe, liquid is only added in two stages - you do still need to stir almost constantly though! - and for a while I was worried I would have barley soup instead of barley risotto. But rest assured that you will eventually see all of that liquid absorbed.

To start, melt a tablespoon of vegan butter (such as Earth Balance) in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3/4 cups chopped leek, 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel and 1/2 cup red bell pepper; saute 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, if you prefer), and 2 minced garlic cloves; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour in two cups vegetable broth and cook for 10 minutes, stirring constantly; the liquid should be almost absorbed, but even if it's not at this point, go ahead to the next step...

...which is to stir in another 3/4 cups chopped leek, another 1/2 cup finely chopped fennel, 1 and 1/2 cups vegetable broth, and 1/2 cup dry white wine (opt for an organic variety! I used a chardonnay); cook for 45 minutes until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.

Stir in 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of Parmesan (such as the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods), 1/4 cup chopped parsley, and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

Sprinkle the top with 1/4 cup chopped pitted olives at the end. The original recipe suggested oil-cured olives, but noted that any variety would do. I actually used standard canned black olives which tasted great. You could also garnish with fennel fronds for a pretty presentation, if you like.

3/4 cups is 260 calories. Make it a hearty main dish by doubling the portions.

leek $1.55
fennel $1.31
red bell pepper $1.20
pearl barley $3.19
vegetable broth $3.79
dry white wine $5.99
vegan cheese $3.39
parsley $1.69
olives $1.39

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pimm's Cup

I am making this yummy cocktail to celebrate the move into my new apartment! The base is Pimm's No. 1, a British gin-based liquor. You should be able to find it pretty easily at any state-side liquor store though! I found a few recipes using Pimm's on other vegan websites, so hopefully that means whatever they mix in with the gin is vegan as well.

Fill 4 tall glasses with ice cubes. In each glass, pour 3 tablespoons Pimm's No. 1, 1/2 cup ginger ale (an all-natural version to try is R.W. Knudsen's ginger ale spritzer), and 1/3 cup sparkling water.

Cut 4 lemon slices from a lemon. Cut a medium cucumber in half lengthwise, and then each of those halves lengthwise again, so you have 4 cucumber spears. Place one lemon slice and one cucumber spear in each glass, and serve!

Each cocktail is 150 calories.

Pimm's No. 1 $27.21
ginger ale $3.98
sparkling water $1.99
lemon $0.59
cucumber $0.50

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