Beet, Carrot and Apple Fritters – CSA Week 4

315c00f7-53f9-450a-b294-9b9cbd514d7a
Beets, Carrots and Apple Latkes, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

It’s early July, and here in New England (which is, for those of you who hail from across the globe, a name for the Northeastern-most part of the United States that includes six states: Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont) the farm activities are in full swing. The greater Boston area is brimming with farms of different size and produce selection. For example, we went cherry picking on July 4th, and ended up with an amazing selection of cherries. We ate a lot, shared some with neighbors, and washed, pitted  and froze the rest. In this way, the frozen cherries are ready for smoothies, sauces or pies later in the year.

What’s in this week’s CSA basket?

At our local farm where we get our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share  the Upswing Farm, the vegetables this week included beets, like it did last week (and I shared  about how to pan roast beets and sauté the beet greens few days ago), carrots, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, yellow and green, cilantro, fennel, and so on and so forth. It was a really great week!

Beets are versatile!

If you are skeptical about beets, don’t be – they are versatile! Yes, you may think that I am saying that because I an Eastern European and there is a bit of a beet culture on the Balkans, but beets really can work in many different ways. In addition to the two recipes I shared last week, beets can be made into a hummus (yummy), used as a salad, sandwich or a veggie burger topping, and also made into tasty burgers (see here, and here for some great beet burger recipes to try). And they are an essential, as in not-to-be-skipped-under-any-circumstance, ingredient for fabulous BBQ ribs, either those made with wheat gluten or gluten-free.

So, how about beet fritters?

And this brings us to these fritters. Without a doubt, vegetable, and in some cases fruit, fritters are ubiquitous. Every cuisine has a recipe or two that fall into this category and take advantage of ingredients in season, often times potatoes, zucchini, squash, carrots, a grater, a bit of flour and usually some eggs, to make a quick meal. So, how about beet fritters? And how about vegan and gluten-free? Well, the recipe here answers these question in affirmative.

Chia seeds and flaxseed meal as binding agents

Grated beets, carrots and the apple make the body of these fritters. The easiest way to grate them is using a large grating attachment on your food processors, although, of course, grating by hand will work too! You don’t need to cooked the beets first, but do peel and wash them, as well as the carrots – apple is the only ingredient that does not require peeling. Just before you start grating you should start soaking your flaxseed meal by combining flaxseed meal with hot water in 1 to 3 ratio. Because the grated fruits and veggies have high moisture content, they do need extra binding agents and that’s why I recommend using quite a bit of flaxseed meal as well as chia seeds. Together, flaxseed meal and chia seeds work together to created fritters that hold their shape well without any eggs or flour.

Don’t forget the spices

I recommend using lime juice and zest, as well as freshly grated ginger and finely chopped fresh cilantro to enhance the flavors. The result are light fritters with interesting texture and

 

 

Beet, Carrot and Apple Fritters

What you’ll need:

1/4 cup golden flaxseed meal (you can use other types of flaxseed meal as well)

3/4 cup hot water

2 cups shredded carrots (4-6 carrots depending on size)

2 cups shredded beets (3-4 beets or so)

1 shredded Granny Smith apple

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 lime, zest an juice

1/2 inch ginger root, grated

1/2 cup chia seeds

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Oil or cooking spray for the pan

Extra lime slices, coarsely ground black pepper and/or apple sauce for serving

What you’ll do:

  1. Place the flaxseed meal and hot water into a bowl and mix well. Let the “flax egg” rest for at least 10 minutes. The final result will be a very gooey mix that will work together with chia seeds to bind the fritters together.
  2. While the “flax egg” is resting, grate beets, carrots and an apple by hand or using a food processor equipped with a grating attachment, then transfer into a large mixing bowl. Add all the rest of ingredients, including the “flax egg”, mix well and let stand for 20-30 minutes. This resting time is needed for chia seeds to soak the extra liquid released by the grated beets, carrots and apple, and transform into a gel-like substance.
  3. Place a large pan over high heat and let it get nice and hot. Add oil or some cooking spray – if you do have a great non-stick pan you can omit the oil – and place small firm patties in. To form a patty, take about 1/4 cup worth of your mix, and using your hands form a 1/2 inch thick patty. Brown over high heat for 2 minutes then lower the heat down to medium and continue browning for 3 more minutes.
  4. Flip the patties over and brown on the other side for 3-4 minutes.
  5. Serve warm as a side dish, or even as an alternative to breakfast pancakes. These fritters go well with yogurt, as well as maple sauce, and I bet they would be delicious cold as well!
BeetCarrotApple_Fritters
Beet, Carrot and Apple Fritters, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow on Pinterest

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Advertisements

Oven-fried Jalapeño Tapioca Pearl Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

img_3423
Oven-fried Jalapeño Tapioca Pearls Fritters with Yogurt Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

You are probably thinking to yourself “Baked Jalapeño Tapioca Pearl Fritters!? What on Earth is that? And why would anyone want to try it?”. Well, I can’t blame you for feeling that way. I would not have made these ever has it not been for a huge kitchen mistake. What I wanted to do was make a batch of Sabudana Khichdi, but my mind was on autopilot and instead of using cold water, I soaked the tapioca pearls in hot water. Unfortunately, this resulted in a pile of messy and sticky tapioca pearls, definitely not fit for Sabudana Khichdi.

It seemed such a waste to just dump everything out, so I threw in some roasted jalapeño peppers, roasted green chilis, coarse corn meal and some nutritional yeast, with a dash of oregano and garlic, and created little fritters. These went into the oven – no deep frying in my house – and came out fragrant, crunchy and delicious.

They had quite a bit of heat and punch, so I paired them with a yogurt sauce to take the edge off. If you prefer less heat in your food, dial back on the amount of jalapeños you use, or just use more yogurt sauce which has a gentle, soothing effect on the overheated taste buds. Enjoy with the side of a salad for a light meal, or serve as an appetizer with a punch.

66DBC493-49E1-4E11-A444-8BA5EB327C2E

Oven-fried Jalapeño Tapioca Pearl Fritters with Yogurt Sauce

What you’ll need:

2 cups tapioca pearls

4 cups hot water

3 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 can chilies

1 can jalapeño

1 tablespoon oregano

2 teaspoon garlic

1 cup coarse corn meal

1 cup almond or cashew yogurt

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon lime juice

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Start by soaking tapioca pearls in hot water for 2-3 hours. The pearls should absorb all the water and be very sticky.
  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients except yogurt, cilantro and lime juice and mix everything well together.
  3. Using your hands, form tapioca pearl balls that are about 2 in (4-5 cm) in diameter and arrange them on a baking sheet lined up with parchment paper. Spray the fritters with some cooking spray and place in the oven that has been preheated to 350 F (175 F). Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the fritters get that nice golden-brown look.
  4. Let the fritters cool before serving, and while they are cooling whisk together the yogurt sauce by mixing yogurt, cilantro and lime juice together. Serve drizzelded over the fritters or as a dipping sauce.

Copyright ©Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce

img_3004
Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

In Serbia, ex-Yugoslavia, where I grew up, there is only one type of pancakes people make – palačinke. They are huge in Central Europe and on the Balkans, and if you are wondering how to pronanounce their name before you munch on them, you would pronounce “č” the same way you do the digraph “ch”. They are thin, they roll and fold easily, they can handle any type of topping, and they are super easy to make. They are also pretty much the same thing as crêpes, so I am sticking with that better known name for the rest of the post. It’s probably one of the first recipes my mom taught me, and knowing how to make crêpes was a bit of a teenage rite of passage for my friends and me. If you knew how to make them you were definitely a part of the in-crowd!!!

And while crêpes are considered very much a French thing (and now you probably appreciate that they are also huge on the Balkans), scallion (or green onion) pancakes hail from a totally different culture – they are a staple of Chinese cooking. Some of the Scallion Pancake recipes use chicken fat (!), but the one by Ming Tsai, a TV chef known for his East-West fusion cuisine, is vegan-friendly, and you may want to give it a try. But, these pancakes do require kneading, and a bit more hands on than I am prepared to do.

So, channeling my inner Ming Tsai and his East-meets-West fusion style, I now give you Scallion Crêpes with Toasted Sesame Seeds and Ginger Dipping Sauce. The crêpes take about an hour to make, from start to finish, and the sauce comes together in five minutes or so.

If you have never made crêpes before, relax – they don’t take much time or much effort. All you need is a large bowl and a large whisk, or a large blender. Your goal is to mix wet and dry ingredients until a smooth and very runny batter forms. Crêpes come out best when you use a large frying pan with a very flat bottom, when you keep your pan hot, but not too hot, and when you drizzle a drop or two of fresh oil before pouring in a new batch of batter in. If you have a really fantastic non-stick pan, you may be able to skip the oil but crêpes can be sticky, so proceed with caution.

One of my mom’s tricks is to use a teaspoon of oil and a really hot pan for the first crêpe. That crêpe is too oily and is usually discarded, but cooking it seasons the pan so that you only a drop or two of oil for the rest of the crêpes that should slide right out there when done.

There’s a bit of technique to flipping the crêpes over. First of all, you will need to figure out how much batter you need to pour in to make a thin, yet not too flimsy crêpe. For a regular size frying pan (8 in; 20 cm) I’d say start with 3/4 cup of batter. Pour the batter in the middle of the pan and then move your pan around quickly to help the batter spread around all the way to the edges, making one smooth, thin layer.

Second thing that you will need to know is when to flip, and the answer to that is when the uncooked side starts to look dry, which should not take more than couple of minutes. Once you see that it’s time to take hold of the pan’s handle and give it a shake. If everything is working according to the plan your crêpe should be sliding around the pan freely. If not, you will need to use a thin spatula to slide it under the crêpe and ensure all the sticking points are unstuck. The best spatulas to use for this are the metal ones you would normally use to frost a cake.

With your crêpe’s surface looking dry and your crêpe moving freely around the pan you are ready to flip. I flip my crêpes either by tossing them in the air – that’s my signature move and a crowd pleaser, and it took quite a few mistakes to perfect – or by using my fingers.  I grab the edge of a pancake with both hands and flip it over, taking good care not to touch the pan. This only works if the edges of your crêpe are curling up and away from the sides of the frying pan.

Now that you know what I typically do, let me tell you what I think you should do. The best thing to try first is to use a thin, long and wide spatula that can go under the crêpe and in one swift move flip the crêpe over.

Once the epic flipping of the crêpe has been accomplished the crêpe will need only a minute to finish cooking on the other side. Normally, you would add a spread or a filling just after you slide the crêpe out while it’s still hot. In this case I actually don’t think the spread is needed as all the scallions make the flavor pretty rich to begin with. Add to that the dipping sauce full of soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds, squeez of lime, and freshly grated ginger – mmmmm… – and you’ll get plenty of flavor.

Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce

What you’ll need:

  • For the Crêpes

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoon corn starch

1 3/4 cup aquafaba (liquid from a can of chickpeas)

1 cup almond milk, plain and unsweetened

1 cup scallions (spring onions), white and green parts, chopped

Oil for cooking

  • For the Sauce

1/2 cup soy sauce, reduced sodium

2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional; skip if you don’t enjoy spicy food)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Place all the crêpes’ ingredients except scallions in a blender and mix well. You can also mix everything up with a regular mixer or by hand. The resulting batter should be smooth and clumps-free.
  2. Add the chopped scallions, mix them in and let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
  3. While the batter is resting, mix together the dipping sauce. For best results use fresh ingredients, and toast the sesame seeds yourself – they need only 2-3 minutes in a toaster oven or in a frying pan on the stove top. Cool the seeds a bit before mixing with the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Heat a large frying pan with a flat bottom until hot. Add a teaspoon of oil and 3/4 cup of batter. Spread the batter around until it covers the entire surface of the pan.
  5. Lower the heat to medium to medium high, and cook until the upper side starts to look dry. Flip the crêpe and continue cooking on the other side for another 1-2 minutes.
  6. Slide the crêpe out, fold twice, making a sort of triangle, and keep the crêpes warm either by covering them, or by putting them in a warm oven.
  7. When all the crêpes are done, arrange them on a platter and enjoy with the dipping sauce (or without!).

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Unbelievably Easy Baked Polenta Sticks

img_3352
Baked Polenta Sticks, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I was raised eating polenta with milk and sugar for breakfast. As I grew up and started experimenting with my food, I would add sour cream and even ajvar, the roasted red pepper and eggplant spread many associated with Bulgaria and the South East Balkans. But even with these add-ons, polenta remained a breakfast food.

So, I was quite surprised to discover that fancy Italian restaurants include polenta on their dinner menus. Of course I had to try it, and I liked it! I actually never met a polenta I did not like. And as a cook it’s something that you can whip together in minutes!

Polenta is basically boiled coarse corn meal, so it is in the same food family as grits. And, practically speaking it is as easy as it sounds – you bring a pot of water to boil and you add some corn meal to it while stirring constantly and furiously to prevent clumping. You let the pot boil for five minutes with constant stirring and the polenta is done.

The recipe here is two steps removed from the basic polenta. First, after you make the polenta according to the instructions on the box, you will need to pour it into a deep baking dish which is either lined with some parchment paper or well sprayed with the cooking spray. Spread the polenta into one even and smooth layer and let it set for at least an hour.

Once the polenta has set and hardened you will be able to slide it out of the dish and onto the cutting board. Slice polenta into 1 x 2 in (2.5 x 5 cm) sticks and arrange them on a baking sheet. Spray the tops with a cooking spray.

From here you can take your polenta in any direction you like. You can add fresh or dry spices, nutritional yeast, small bits of cheese or vegan butter that melt well, or sprinkle sugar and cinnamon if you want to make the baked polenta sticks into a dessert. Here, I decided to go two ways and top one set of polenta sticks with some cumin powder, dry basil and oregano. The second batch I spiced up a bit with freshly ground black pepper as well as smokey red pepper flakes. The topped polenta stick are then baked until their surface is nicely browned.

I served the Baked Polenta Sticks with vegan bolognese sauce but you can eat them as is, or serve them with a wide range of dishes. The flavor of polenta sticks is mild, slightly nutty, and depends on the spice combination you used. In general, Baked Polenta Sticks are great with any dish you would serve with corn bread, like chili, Jackfruit Barbacoa, or Bean and Leek Soup. They can also be used as an appetizer, served along side simple marinara dipping sauce and some olives.

 

Baked Polenta Sticks

What you’ll need:

2 cups polenta (or corn meal)

4 cups water

1/4 teaspoon salt (adjust salt to taste)

Cooking spray

Dried basil

Dried oregano

Cumin powder

Crushed red pepper flakes

(Onion powder, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, freshly ground black pepper, lemon zest,… quite a few toppings will work so feel free to experiment)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to boil.
  2. Add the salt and polenta to the boiling water while stirring rapidly to prevent clumps from forming. Decrease the heat to medium/medium low, and keep stirring the polenta for about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour the polenta out into a baking dish that you previously sprayed with cooking spray. I recommend using 9 x 13 in (22 x 33 cm) dish for this amount of polenta – this will give you 1/2 in (1 cm or so) thick sticks – but you can use any other flat bottom container you have on hand. Just note that the thickness of the sticks will vary depending on what you use.
  4. Let the polenta cool and set for at least an hour. The thicker your polenta layer, the longer it will take.
  5. Slide the polenta slab out onto a cutting board. Cut into sticks of regular size.
  6. Arrange your polenta sticks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Do leave some space between the stick so they can bake evenly, which means you may need to use two baking sheets or bake in two batches.
  7. Spray the top with some cooking spray and sprinkle the toppings/spices of your choice liberally.
  8. Place into the oven that was preheated to 400 F (205 C). Bake for 15 minutes or until the sticks are golden brown.
  9. Serve as a side dish with a soup, or as an appetizer with marinara sauce, or simply munch on these any time. They are best served fresh from the proven, but couple of minutes in a toaster oven will help the next day!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Radish Salad with Apples, Carrots and Toasted Walnuts

img_3783
Radish salad with Carrots, Apples and Toasted Walnuts, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Who said salads have to be green? Or soaked in heavy dressing? Salads come in many different shapes and forms, and this is my contribution to the pantheons of salads – a mix of sliced radishes, shredded carrots and apples, toasted walnuts and freshly squeezed lemon juice. I used lemon zest and some cracked black pepper for garnish, and that’s that. With a little help from a food processor with couple of different blades everything came together in less than ten minutes!

img_3780

There isn’t much more to this Salad story. Perhaps a slice of hearty bread, some of the lovely Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese, and you’re done. This salad is so fragrant, full of colors, different shapes and textures with a nice crunch that it is absolutely fit for any winter holiday table. Enjoy!!!

img_3782

Radish Salad with Apples, Carrots and Toasted Walnuts

What you’ll need (for 2-4 servings)

1 bunch red radishes (7-8 large ones), washed

1 Granny Smith or another tart apple, washed

4 carrots, washed and peeled

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1 lemon, juice and zest

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or to taste)

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the radishes and slice them into thin discs. You can do this by hand by I recommend using a food processor if it has a slicing blade. My food processor has an adjustable slicing blade and I dialed the thickness way down.
  2. Without taking the sliced radishes out, replace the slicing blade with the fine grating blade and grate the carrots.
  3. Using a coarser grating blade, grate the apple. Transfer everything into a large mixing bowl.
  4. Add the juice of one lemon, lemon zest, cracked black pepper, and toasted walnuts and toss to combine.
  5. Serve immediately with a slice of hearty bread, and a side of cheese as a light lunch, a salad course, or as a part of a more elaborate appetizer spread.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing for the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

img_3602
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.

img_3507
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!

img_3592
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

Spiralized Oven Fries

img_2888
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

img_2518
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.

img_2513
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!!!

img_2520
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.

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