Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing for the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

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Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you think you can’t live without the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with the roasted turkey, mashed potatoes full of butter, the stuffing made with rich sausage, gravy made from turkey fat, sweet potato casserole topped with marshmallows, corn bread with cheese, pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream, and so on and so forth, let me reassure you – you can give this all up, and replace it with an amazing and creative plant-based feast that celebrates the season and gives thanks for the bountiful harvest, our friends and families, and our beautiful and extraordinary planet.

I put together this menu as a testament that food can be colorful, flavorful, aromatic, and delicious without major time and money investment. This entire menu will cost you far less than the regular Thanksgiving feast, and instead of leaving you tired and sluggish, it will leave you filling energized and elevated… and ready for whatever Black Friday may bring!

Joking aside, this menu is meant for entertaining and for making a huge impression. As any well-structure feast, my Thanksgiving offerings begin with appetizers. And since the meal is supposed to go on for an hour or more, and includes two dessert options, I am going light with the appetizer spread. My tray includes couple of different types of olives, Roasted Beets Hummus, Baked Almond Feta Cheese, and pita chips. You can make the pita chips by slicing some pita bread into wedges, spraying them with some oil or cooking spray and letting them toast for couple of minutes until golden-brown. Or you can get them at a supermarket, like I did on this occasion.

Do remind your guests to take it easy with the appetizers, because what’s coming next is the most amazing soup ever, the Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup that owes it’s creaminess entirely to puréed cauliflower. The soup is white with slight gold overtones, which in my view frames the season perfectly. Plus corn and peas give this soup some substance and fresh thyme sets the stage for herbs to come.

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Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Main course is a real harvest celebration, with fireworks of flavors and all the trimmings working together to feed the bodies and the souls. The main dish is a lovely Harvest Roast with cubed sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips, apples and squash, lightly oiled and flavored with herbs of the season. Complementing the Harvest Roast is the Chesnut and Mushroom Stuffing (recipe below). Add to that a protein rich Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios and you have your self an amazing feast!

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Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Last but not the least, the meal ends with a glass of Fizzy Cranberry Mocktail, and two desserts that pay homage to the traditionally served pies, pumpkin and apple. The desserts I feature are Pumpkin Truffles, inspired by the traditional pumpkin pie recipe and spices that go into it, and Pecan Apple Baklava with Orange Maple Syrup, which combines the best of pecan and apple pies into one ultra scrumptious dessert.

Have a thankful, wonderful, healthy and delicious Thanksgiving feast!!!

 

 

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing

What you’ll need:

1 yellow onion, finely diced

6 stalks celery, finely diced

2 Granny Smith (or another variety of tart) apples, diced

10 oz. (285 g) mushrooms, finely chopped (white, oyster, shiitake, baby bella – any combination of these will work)

10 oz. (285 g) chestnuts, boiled and chopped

4-6 slices of hearty sourdough bread (depending on the size of the slices)

Fresh sage, 4 leaves, chopped

Fresh thyme, 8 springs, pulled

Fresh rosemary, 2 springs, whole

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. One day prior to making the stuffing cut the bread into medium sized cubes, and leave them uncovered to dry. If you forget to do this a day ahead, don’t worry – you can cube the bread and put it in the oven to roast/toast. 10 minutes at 350 F (175 C) should be enough.
  2. Next day, place a large skillet over the medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, onions, celery and apple. Mix well and let it sauté with occasional stirring for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms and two whole springs of rosemary (no need to chop, you’ll pull them out at the end), and continue sautéing for another 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped chestnuts, mix well to incorporate, and cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add chopped sage and thyme, mix in the bread cubes, and once everything is incorporated well transfer the stuffing to a large baking dish.
  6. Cover the stuffing with foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350 F (175 C), then remove the foil, bring the temperature to 400 F (190 C) and bake for another 10 minutes.
  7. Let the stuffing cool for 5-10 minutes before serving. The leftover stuffing, if you have any, can be an easy lunch on its own!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

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Spiralized Oven Fries

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Spiralized Oven Fries, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
From time to time it’s good to do things just for fun, with no hidden agendas or pretense of deeper meaning attached. This recipe is my example of doing something just for fun and just because.

Few months ago I acquired a spiralizer, one of those machines you hook your vegetables or fruit to and get long, lovely and elegant noodles of various width. I’ve been using it to make great zucchini noodles, and I love it! But, there’s a limit to how much zucchini noodles a person can eat and still remain excited about seeing them on the plate, so I’ve been trying to pace myself and find other things to spiralize. I tried apples – that worked! I tried sweet potatoes and beets – ditto! I tried jicama – thumbs down, and the same goes for celeriac.

One vegetable that did work – meaning it produced a pile of lovely noodles – were baking (Russet) potatoes. So, I decided to have a bit of fun with them and bake them into little piles of potato yarn which we can call Spiralized Oven Fries. All you need to make this recipe happen is a muffin pan, some seasoning of your choice, and a hot oven. What you’ll get is a fun take on oven fries – the fries that look like spaghetti. And that is exactly what I said this post is all about – pure fun!

Spiralized Oven Fries

What you’ll need:

4 medium baking potatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground crushed red pepper flakes

Salt (optional)

Cooking spray, or olive oil

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash the potatoes well, and pat them dry.
  3. Spiralize the potatoes without peeling using a fine gauge spiralizer, the same you would use for making zucchini spaghetti.
  4. Season the potato “noodles” with any seasoning you like. I suggested freshly ground black pepper and ground crushed red pepper flakes, making this quite spicy, but you can use any seasoning you like. Let stand for couple of minutes.
  5. Oil the muffin pan with cooking spray or oil.
  6. Take a handful of potato noodles and gently place them into the individual muffin holes. Don’t press them too hard – let the noodles fall where they may, more or less, and try to arrange them so they fit neatly into the space.
  7. Place the muffin pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes or so, until the tops start to brown. You don’t want them to burn but a bit of browning is nice.
  8. Take the fries out and let them cool for a bit. Then using a fork gently lift them out and plate them. The sort of “muffins” are not really held together by anything so they will fall apart if you are not careful. But if you are you will end up with a serving of fried that had never looked funkier. And that’s worth it!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Vegan Caprese Salad in a Sandwich

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Vegan Caprese Salad in a Sandwich, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

In my other life, as the editor of two leading journals for chemical and structural biology (I know, sounds intimidating!), I once used Caprese Salad – tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella – as an example of how simple is incredibly powerful, beautiful and irresistible, in an emphatic attempt to convince scientists to implement principles of simplicity when writing their scientific papers.

Here, my interests are purely culinary as I set out to recreate the Caprese salad out of plant based ingredients only. I started from a batch of vegan fresh mozzarella, following a recipe developed by Jules Aron and included in her “Vegan Cheese: Simple, Delicious, Plant-Based Recipes” book.

The path to fabulous vegan fresh mozzarella is long and slippery- meaning that it will take you about two to three days to have ready to eat batch of cheese on your hands, and there are few places along the way where a little mistake can derail your cheese making process. Having said that, I found Jules’s recipe to be clear and helpful, and the final result AMAZING!

I made only some minor adjustments to the recipe, as I used cashew yogurt for fermentation stage of the mozzarella, and agar powder and tapioca starch to firm it up – Jules recommends Kappa carrageenan powder and tapioca flour (which I think is the same thing as tapioca starch but it’s worth mentioning as a point of difference)!

The process starts, as many vegan cheeses do, by soaking some nuts. I usually cover the nuts, in this case cashews, with water and leave them in the fridge overnight. The next step for this cheese is blending the well soaked cashews, that have been drained and rinsed, with some almond milk or water until nice and smooth – I used almond milk.

Then, you add yogurt – here I used an amazing Cashew Yogurt by Forager – cover with cheese cloth and leave on the kitchen counter for a day or so. Make sure that your yogurt contains live cultures as you want the bacteria to start the process of fermentation and acidification, yielding a nice, subtly tangy flavor.

Making of vegan mozzarella, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The penultimate step is adding the thickener to the cheese mix, cooking it until it starts to thicken to a consistency of very thick oatmeal, porridge or polenta.

 

While the cheese was cooking, with frequent stirring, I made the brine. I used tap water and ice cubes, plus a tablespoon of plain kitchen salt since that’s what I had handy, and mixed it all until salt was fully dissolved.

Once the cheese was cooked, I used my measuring spoon (tablespoon size) to measure out cheese balls, formed a bit with hand – watch out here as it may be hot, so you can form the balls using two spoons at the same time. Dump the balls into ice/water/salt mixture, cover with cheese cloth and leave in the fridge overnight. Jules recommends at least 4 hours, so I just left my fresh mozzarella cheese balls to rest until the next day.

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Vegan Fresh Mozarella Balls in Brine, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Waiting wasn’t easy but it was worth it!!! I got some fresh baguette, fresh basil, a ripe tomato, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and my homemade vegan fresh mozzarella, and made myself a phenomenal sandwich for lunch.

I transferred the fresh mozzarella with the brine and all into a container with a tight lid, and stored it in the refrigerator. It lasted for about one week, at which point it was all gone!!! I will be making some more soon, but next one from Jules’s book I want to try is an almond-based baked feta!!!

Since this post is all about another person’s recipe, I am not sharing the notes, but encourage you to go visit Jules’s site, and get her book or better still borrow it from your local public library, which is what I did. I am happy to share what my Caprese Salad in a Sandwich looked like – it’s a real feast for your eyes!!!

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Vegan Caprese Salad in a Sandwich lunch, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Miso Glazed Tempeh, From the Grill!

Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

If you have not done so already, you should definitely try tempeh. I’ve been hearing about it for some time now, and seeing several different brands and varieties right next to the tofu that I usually get but I only got the first batch of tempeh just the other day. I bought several different varieties to try them out and spent few days reading about what’s tempeh good for and how to best cook with it. Tempeh is related to tofu because both are soy based. But, in terms of flavor and texture (and as far as I can tell in terms of how you actually make the two, based on what Wikipedia says), tofu and tempeh are quite different. Tempeh is firm, much firmer than the firmest tofu, and does not come in liquid. It is actually fermented soy beans mixed with rice [edited after reading comment from Mary S below – thanks Mary S, it’s good to get the facts all squared away. I am still a bit confused since the ingredients’ list of the tempeh I used did include rice; at the end of the day my confusion does not matter change the fact that the food was delicious], so although it is dry, it does feel sticky to touch and just a bit slimy. FYI: I am not saying this to freak you out, rather to forewarn you so that you are not as surprised when you start handling it as I was – I thought my tempeh has gone bad and wanted to throw it out! But, I double-checked the date on the bag, regained my cool and went for it.

I decided to start simple and build from there, so this Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh is more or less my starting point. The brand of tempeh I got is Lightlife and the two varieties I started with are their Organic Garden Veggie and Organic Soy Tempeh. Each package is half a pound (about 250 g), and the block of tempeh comes in a vacuumed-sealed package, that’s within a sealed plastic bag, so there are two bags to remove! I used both blocks at the same time, since one just did not seem enough to make for the end of the week Friday dinner.

The first thing I did was to fire up the grill. I have a gas grill and it takes it about ten to fifteen minutes to get to be sizzling hot, with burners going at full blast and the lid down. That was just enough time for me to prep the tempeh and the glaze. For tempeh, I placed the pieces into a pan large enough to keep the pieces flat, covered with water, brought to boil and boiled for four to five minutes per side – I did flip the pieces over once since the pan I was using was shallow and the water did not fully cover the tempeh, so if your tempeh is fully covered you will not need to do the flip! After about ten minutes I took the tempeh out, pat dried the pieces, and left them uncovered on some paper towels.

While the tempeh was boiling and the grill was heating up, I mixed together a simple glaze with some soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, white miso glaze and vegetable oil. I spread the glaze over the tempeh pieces just before placing them on the grill the glazed side down. Then I glazed the top and let it grill for about five to six minutes. By that time the grill marks will be perfect, and the pieces ready to be flipped. I did reglaze both sides again and flipped again, so that at the end each side got two layers of glaze and about eight to ten minutes of grilling, so in total the grilling bit took less than twenty minutes. If you are in a rush, you can definitely skip the reglazing, but if you are outside hanging around the grill with friends and family and enjoying the lovely summer evening, then why not give tempeh extra love, glaze and grill time?

Let grilled tempeh rest for just a second, then slice and serve. You can serve it in a hamburger or a hot dog bun with the usual trimmings, but note that condiments, like mustard and ketchup, are going to overpower the flavor of the grilled tempeh. So, I recommend serving tempeh with a side of coleslaw and baked, or barbecue beans, which is how I had mine. Add to that a glass of cold beverage of choice, and what can be better?

Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh Sliced, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh

What you’ll need:

2 8 oz (227 g) blocks of tempeh (any variety and brand you like)

2 tablespoons soy sauce, reduced sodium

2 tablespoons white miso paste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (vegan)

Oil for oiling the grill grates


What you’ll do:

  1. Prepare your grill like you normally do. I recommend getting the grill really hot and letting any bits and pieces from the previous grill session burn off, then scrapping the grates with an appropriate type of a brush (please be careful here because you can really damage your grill grates if you don’t follow the manufactures instructions and recommendations), and then oil them generously with a paper towel dipped in vegetable oil – please use long tongs here to prevent getting burned!
  2. Take tempeh out of the wrapping and palace in a pan large enough to hold it flat and straight. Cover with water, bring to boil and let it boil for 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure you flip the tempeh half way through if your tempeh is not fully submerged in water. If it is, no mid-way flipping is needed!
  3. While tempeh is boiling and the grill is getting hot, mix together the glaze by whisking together soy sauce, vegetable oil, miso paste and Worcestershire sauce. The glaze should be smooth, but even if you have few lumps in there don’t worry about it – it won’t matter at the end.
  4. Place the boiled tempeh onto some paper towels and gently dry.
  5. Using a (silicone) food brush spread the glaze liberally ove the tempeh and place the piece of tempeh glaze side down on the hot grill. Keep the gas grill on medium high heat, or if you are using a charcoal grill keep it as hot as you would when grilling vegetables, veggie burgers, or mushroom or tofu steaks. Grill the glazed tempeh 5 to 6 minutes on one side, and while it is grilling apply the glaze on the other side, flip over, grill for 4 to 5 minutes, glaze, flip, grill, repeat for as long as you like.
  6. Let stand for just a moment or two, slice and serve!!! This Miso Glazed Grilled Tempeh will work as an appetizer, finger food, as well as dinner, especially with some grilled corn, veggies, coleslaw, baked or barbecue beans, or as a salad topping…

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Easy Spanakopita Rolls

 

Easy Spanakopita
Easy Spanakopita Rolls, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Let me describe Greek and Middle Eastern pies. They are made using very thin sheets of dough, called phyllo dough, and than build by either interleaving layers of phyllo dough with a filling or by rolling/holding the filling in phyllo pockets or rolls. As you can imagine, these pies are diverse and varied, as many different ingredients can be made into an amazing pie filling. If you still have trouble picturing what one of these pies may look like just think of baklava, probably the most famous of phyllo based pies.

Some of my favorite phyllo pies are cheese pie, mushroom pie and spinach pie. This last one has been brought to the frozen sections of most grocery store chain in US and known as spanakopita.

Traditionally, spanakopita recipe uses spinach as a central ingredient and combines it with cheese, eggs and onions to create either a rolled or layered pie that is served both warm and cold, usually accompanied by a yogurt drink.

Now I offer you a vegan version of this pastry that uses almonds and nutritional yeast as a substitute for cheese and eggs. Here I used store bought phyllo dough sheets precut into triangles that I picked up in an Indian store. You can use any phyllo dough you like, or make your own.

The spanakopita rolls come together quickly and bake to a lovely, crispy appetizers that are easy to pass around. They are also a great breakfast item, a quick snack or a dinner add-on. As I mentioned, you can eat them hot or cold, but they are really the best served fresh from the oven as while their phyllo dough exterior is crunchy. They will get soft as they sit for few hours or overnight so if you plan to serve them the next day you’ll need to reheat them in a toaster oven.

 

Spanakopita Rolls

(Makes 24 rolls)

What you’ll need:

24 triangle-shaped thick phyllo dough sheets (or thinner phyllo dough sheets stacked 2-3 together and cut to triangle pieces)

4 cups frozen spinach

1 cup almonds, dry roasted

1/4 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Olive oil, or olive oil cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the 400 F (200 C).
  2. Soak the almonds in cold water for 1-2 hours at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. Drain to remove excess water, add nutritional yeast and lemon juice, and start grinding to a fine paste, adding the almond milk slowly. You may not need the whole 1/4 cup or you may need a bit more – you be the judge because what you are looking for is a nice smooth  consistency of a paste, not a sauce.
  3. Place frozen spinach in a large mixing bowl and purée using a hand held immersion (stick) blender. You can also purée the spinach in a food processor.
  4. Combine spinach with the almond paste and mix well. Add the spices and mix again.
  5. Lay out the piece of phyllo on a flat surface, spray with cooking spray, or drizzle a drop or two off olive oil, and spoon 2-3 tablespoons of spinach pie filling onto the long end of the pastry then roll towards the tip. Tuck the ends in and place on a baking sheet. I like to line my baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up, but that’s not really needed.
  6. Once all your rolls are ready, spray the tops with cooking spray or drizzle oil, and put in the oven for 25-30 minutes. You want the tops golden brown.
  7. Let the spanakopita rolls cool for 10-15 minutes and serve.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

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

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

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

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


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

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

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

What you’ll need:

28 oz (680 g) large stuffing mushrooms

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

3 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

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

3 corn tortillas, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup salsa, divided

1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided

Fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wipe the mushrooms of any visible bits of dirt using a damp paper towel. Remove the stems carefully so that you don’t break the caps. Save the stems for later.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the mushroom caps on, their hole side up. Put them into the preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add chopped onions and chopped chives. Let them brown for about 5 minutes.
  5. While the mushroom caps are roasting, and onions and chives are sautéing, chop the stems to small pieces and add them to the pan.
  6. Sauté for another 5 minutes then add the beefless ground beef and the seasoning. If you don’t have this specific seasoning mix, you can use store bought taco seasoning, or similar, or just add your own mix of chili powder, paprika, black paper and coriander to taste. Mix everything well together and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  7. Turn the heat off and mix in the chopped corn tortillas. Let stand for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will help the tortillas soak up some of the excess liquid mushrooms may have released as well as soak up then flavors.
  8. Take the mushroom caps out of the oven, and bring the heat down to 350 F (180 C). Using a pair of kitchen tongs, or similar, gently invert the mushroom caps so that the liquid that collected in them drains out. Place the dry mushroom caps into a deep baking dish. Spoon the stuffing into the mushrooms. I like to spoon the stuffing high and if your baking dish is deep enough you don’t have to worry about the stuffing spilling over as there will be a dish to catch it all.
  9. Place one teaspoon of salsa on each stuffed mushroom, and then heap the shredded cheese on top. Spray the tops with some cooking spray and place the dish into the oven. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the mushrooms are completely cooked.
  10. Take it out of the oven and cool only slightly. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, or another herb of your choice, just before serving and enjoy as an appetizer or a part of your main course.
  11. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes

Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cake, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
I discovered jackfruit about two months ago and can’t live without it ever since. I used it as my secret “chicken” in the Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala, as well as a quick and easy taco filling. If you are new to jackfruit, here is a brief intro. The type of jackfruit that works for savory main dishes is called young green jackfruit and for most of us it will come in a can, usually packed in brine or water. There is also jackfruit in syrup, which is ripe and sweet – I did not taste that one yet, but it seems like it tastes like pineapple or grapes.

One thing I noticed over the last few weeks is that people are very much interested in trying jackfruit but they don’t really know where to find it. My source is a local Asian food market – the trip is fun and the price is right. But, I know that not everyone has a handy Asian food market nearby so in that case places like Amazon.com will help, or places like Whole Foods Market that carries products of The Jackfruit Company, which is a Boston-based company I just stumbled upon dedicated to promoting use of jackfruit and supporting farmers who grow it.  The Jackfruit Company site also includes a long list of interesting looking recipes, but no “Crab” Cakes – they don’t know what they are missing!

My jackfruit comes in a brine so I always begin by rinsing the jackfruit off really well and letting it drain for a while. Basically I leave it in the same strainer I wash it in over a bowl on the kitchen counter for at least 30 minutes, and then I also pat it dry. For this crab cake recipe, I recommend pulling the jackfruit pieces apart to make them roughly the same size crab chunks usually are. The two other ingredients that I enjoy in crab cakes are scallions (green onions) and red peppers, both of which I chop relatively finely.

Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes Step 1, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Finally, one ingredient that you simply can’t have a crab cake flavor without it is Old Bay Seasoning. One note of caution when using Old Bay Seasoning: if you are keeping your meals low salt you may want to skip this one and make your own seasoning mix, or use a smaller amount.

If you are wondering if there are any other tricks to this recipe, I would say that the really neat trick is to leave the cakes in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This will help them keep their shape while cooking and as a result you will have a plate of Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes that are delicious, and good lookers to boot!

Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes Last Step, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes

What you’ll need:

2 cans (10 oz, 280 g each) young green jackfruit in brine

6 scallions, finely sliced

1/2 large red bell pepper, finely diced

2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

3 tablespoons flax meal

6 tablespoons warm water

2 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

Cooking spray

Fresh cilantro and lemon wedges for garnish

What you’ll do:

  1. Use flax meal and warm water to make vegan flax egg. What you need to do is in a small bowl or a measuring cup mix flax meal and water in 1:2 ratio (1 tablespoon flax meal plus 2 tablespoons warm water and scale up from there if you know you need more binding agent), mix well and let sit for 15-30 min.
  2. Drain and wash the jackfruit. Pull apart with your fingers into smaller pieces that are approximately size of crab meat used in crab cakes. Place into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Dice the red pepper into small dice and add to jackfruit.
  4. Chop scallions (white and green part) finely, add to the bowl.
  5. Add all the other ingredients including the flax egg and mix well.
  6. Line a tray with wax paper, form crab cakes with your hands, and set on the tray. This amount of jackfruit should yield 6-8 cakes. Leave the cakes in refrigerator for 30-60 minutes.
  7. Spray the bottom of the frying pan with cooking spray and heat it over the medium high to high heat. Place 3 to 4 crab cakes into the pan at a time. Make sure you leave enough room between the crab cakes as it will help you move them around and flip them over. Cook for about 4-5 minutes on the first side and 3-4 minutes on the second side.
  8. Sprinkle the Vegan Jackfruit “Crab” Cakes with some freshly chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms with Cashew Sour Cream

Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms with Cashew Sour Cream
Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms with Cashew Sour Cream, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Fully loaded vegan mushrooms are finally here! Last time I went grocery shopping large white stuffing mushrooms were on sale and they looked so inviting that I had to have them. For most vegetarians and vegans mushrooms are a common ingredient as they add that elusive umami flavor to dishes. I used them fairly often and have featured them in  my Vegan Stuffed Pepper recipe.

This time around it is the mushrooms that are getting stuffed, and the stuffing I decided to go with is yummy, silky smooth and creamy mashed potatoes. Additionally, just to kick it up a notch I made some Cashew Sour Cream by Oh She Glows to add a bit of flair. Finally, sun dried tomatoes on top are for loveliness, color and for a bit of sweetness.

There are really two tricks here. One is to bake the mushroom caps on their own, and the other is to use a blender to purée the potatoes.

To get your mushrooms going I first remove the stems, but I don’t throw them away  as I use them as a part of the stuffing. I place mushroom caps their open ends up on the parchment paper (or foil) covered baking sheet and put them in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. The point is to get the caps soft and to let the mushrooms release excess water. At the end of the baking each mushroom cap should be filled with brown liquid (see below), and I dumped this liquid out. Transfer your mushroom caps into a greased baking dish with tall sides that will help with making sure no stuffing gets out while baking.

Baked Mushrooms, Ready for Stuffing
Baked Mushroom Caps, Ready for Stuffing, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Using a blender to purée the potatoes makes them into a creamy heaven that is perfect for stuffing. I would not recommend using the blender method if your end point is mashed potatoes because what you get is quite smooth, but for topping something like a Vegan Shepherd’s Pie or stuffing these mushrooms this method is perfect.

All in all these Vegan Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms with Cashew Sour Cream are perfect as an interesting appetizer and entertaining, as well as a really great dinner in their own right. The amount of mushrooms I used is huge and it was definitely meant for sharing and enjoying in a large group, so feel free to scale down accordingly!

Vegan Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms with Cashew Sour Cream

What you’ll need (for a 12 servings):

2 24 oz. (680 g) boxes white mushrooms, large

4 medium Russet potatoes

6 scallions

1/4 cup almond milk, plain & unsweetened (or other non-dairy milk)

1 cup of Cashew Sour Cream

1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienned

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
  2. Clean the mushrooms gently with a piece of paper towel. Separate stems from the caps. Keep the stems for later. Place caps, hole side up, on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the mushroom caps are soft and full of clear, brown liquid.
  3. Take the mushroom caps out the oven, discard the liquid and place them into a deep baking dish well sprayed with the cooking spray. Put aside.
  4. Peel the potatoes, chop them into small cubes and boil until cooked through which can take 15-30 minutes depending on the size of your cubes. Drain the water and let the potatoes cool for 15 minutes. Add almond milk and blend until potatoes are smooth.
  5. Chop scallions, using both the green and white parts, and mushroom stems finely.
  6. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and sauté scallions and mushroom stems fro 5-10 minutes. Add sautéd scallion and mushroom stem mixture to the potatoes. Mix well.
  7. Spoon the potato mix into mushroom caps and top with a spoonful of cashew sour cream and few slices of sun dried tomatoes. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  8. Bon appétit!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Fat Free Roasted Potato Medallions

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Fat Free Roasted Potato Medallions, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Although I came to sweet potatoes late in my life, I’ve been bringing them to my table more often these days. I do enjoy roasted potato medallions, sweet or white, but they usually require some fat to roast well and develop nice caramelization and flavor. So, I gave myself a challenge to develop a method that will produce perfect fat-free roasted potato medallions.

I recently read about par boiling potatoes before roasting them, and was keen to test the method out. It worked! And another thing that helped is using my mandoline slicer to make very uniform potato slices. I used flat cut edge at 1/4 inch (5 mm) setting, and I was happy with the ratio of crunch and soft that I like to see in a great potato medallion.

Russett and sweet potatoes worked well together and roasted at about the same rate, which was great to see. Taste wise, they also got along and worked exceptionally well with some Vegan Herb Mayo on the side.

Finally, I did take an exception to my “no added salt rule”, and used a spice mix that included some sea salt. It is the newly available Everything but a Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend that Trader Joe’s crew concocted. I loved what this seasoning mix added to these potato medallions, with hints of garlic, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and onions. But, quite honestly I did find salt to be overpowering and next time I plan to put together my own seasoning mix and see how it goes.

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Fat Free Roasted Potato Medallions before they hit the oven, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Fat Free Roasted Potato Medallions

What you’ll need:

2 large Russet potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon Everything but a Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Peel and slice potatoes to 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick slices.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and par boil potatoes for 5-6 minutes.
  4. Drain and dry the potatoes.
  5. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and arrange the potato slices with a good amount of space between them. You will have enough potatoes for two baking sheets so depending on how large your oven is you may want to work with half the amount of potatoes at the time. If you have an oven with two levels do remember to rotate your baking sheets half way through.
  6. Roast the potatoes for 15-18 minutes, then flip the slices over and roast for another 15 minutes. Enjoy these potato medallions as an easy snack or a tasty side dish!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Cashew Crumble

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Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Cashew Crumble, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Valentine’s Day is upon us, and although not as exciting as it once was, I still make a point of preparing a special surprise treat for those I love best, my family. In the past the menu would usually include shellfish, an array of finger foods, and lots and lots of chocolate. This year I am doing something new – vegan and gluten free meal that is healthy and indulgent. Plus, I wanted to have fun and play around a symbol of Valentine’s Day, the heart!

So, I came up with the Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Cashew Crumble as a perfect recipe that has a lot of heart in it. But, there was a major problem with this idea: I don’t know how to cook artichoke. I remember trying to deal with artichokes and realizing that I don’t have the patience required to go from the luscious green bulb to the tasty heart that’s hidden inside it. All I can say it: thank goodness for the can!

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Luscious artichoke, unfriendly ingredient
Using canned artichokes works really well in many recipes, and not wanting to make this dish into a major project I decided to give canned artichokes an opportunity to shine in a roasted dish. I figured that if I can make tofu nice and crunchy, I can do that to canned artichoke hearts as well. The key trick here is to make sure artichoke hearts are fully drained and dried before putting them in the oven. To do that, I left my artichoke hearts in a strainer for couple of hours, and then patted them as dry as I could with a paper towel. I also decided to top them with a cashew crumble, and the result was a perfect combination of crunchy, slightly tart, and very inviting dish that perfectly graced our Valentine’s Day menu.

Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Cashew Crumble

What you’ll need:

2 cans (14 oz/400g) artichoke hearts in water

1/2 cup raw cashews

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

cooking oil spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F(220C).
  2. Let artichoke hearts drain in a strainer for couple of hours, then pat dry them with a paper or cloth towel.
  3. Spray an oven proof 8 x 8 in  (20 x 20 cm) dish with cooking spray, lightly, add artichoke hearts, and sprinkle with oregano and garlic. Mix well.
  4. Using a food processor make a cashew crumble. Don’t ground the cashews to a fine meal and make sure that you have a good mix of finely ground and chunky cashew crumble.
  5. Top the artichoke hearts with cashew crumble and splash with another round of cooking spray.
  6. Roast for 20-25 min.

You can serve Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Cashew Crumble as an appetizer, or as a main dish. As a part of a main dish I paired them with Zucchini Spaghetti, but they would work well in any salad, and in a sandwich, with pickles and mustard, or with vegan ricotta and tomatoes.

Note: if you are looking for that special something to spice up your Valentine’s dinner I recommend you try this fabulous Chocolate Pudding I found in Whole Foods’ twitter stream. My tip: shave some orange peel on top to add a lovely citrus aroma and a touch of color. Also, don’t worry about making too much because this pudding will disappear in a blink of an eye. If not, it does store well for couple of days and makes a great kids’ (and grown up) snack.

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Vegan Chocolate Mousse, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow inspired by Whole Foods

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017