Sweet Potato Burgers

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Sweet Potatoe Burgers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Let me make one thing clear – if you are looking for a veggie burger recipe that looks and tastes like meat, you really should look elsewhere since this ain’t it! But, if you are looking for a different type of burger, that is unusual yet appealing, and that is amazingly nutritious then you have come to the right place.

This is my Sweet Potato Burger which is made of roasted sweet potatoes, oats, flax meal “egg”, and a dash of very spicy adobo sauce. The patties are held together by the joined action of oats and the flax meal egg, and do just fine on the outdoor grill. The flavor is nicely sweet, perfect for combining with some mustard, pickles and lettuce. In my view, tomatoes, mayo and cheese do not work well on this burger, but caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms, or sliced avocado would add to it. Feel free to experiment and see how it goes!

Sweet Potato Burgers

What you’ll need:

2 cups roasted sweet potatoes, mashed

1 cup rolled oats

3 tablespoons flax meal

6 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon adobo sauce

1 teaspoon maple flavor

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Roast sweet potatoes as you would normally. I usually roast them at 425 F (220 C) without peeling for 45 minutes or so, then let them cool completely before handling. My usual batch is about 8 large potatoes and I store them roasted in the refrigerator and use them through the week.
  2. Start soaking flax meal in hot water 15-20 minutes prior to use. You can find detailed instructions on making the flax egg here.
  3. Peel two potatoes and mash them with a fork or a potatoe masher. This should yield 2 cups of sweet potatoes. Measure it out and adjust by adding and removing the mashed sweet potato. The final amount does not need to be absolutely precise but do keep it close to the recipe.
  4. Place the mashed sweet potatoe into a large mixing bowl, and add all the rest of the ingredients. Mix well, and use the immersion (stick) blender to get the consistency nice and smooth, and the oats broken up. If you don’t have the stick blender you can always use your food processor. Let the mix stand for 20 minutes or so to allow the oats to begin soaking up the excess moisture and swell.
  5. Form the burger patties, and place them on a wax paper lined platter. Place the patties in a refrigerator for up to an hour to firm up.
  6. Prepare and preheat your outdoor or indoor grill, or your grill pan in a usual way. I recommend oiling the grill grates well and grilling the burgers at medium heat. You can also use a grill pan or a regular pan – the burger will come out as delicious albeit without the lovely, charred grill marks. Sweet Potato Burgers need about 4-5 minutes per side, and they are ready to enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

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Scallion Crêpes with Sesame and Ginger Dipping Sauce

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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

Homemade 1-Minute Peanut Butter Nutella

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Homemade 1-minute Peanut Butter Nutella, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Believe it or not, you can now make your own Nutella-like spread in less than a minute. Yes, you read that right – and it is not a question of gimmicky gadgets or anything like that. It’s really all about having three ingredients at hand and readily available. The trifecta in this case consists of peanut butter powder, cocoa powder and stevia.

Peanut butter powder is my newest discovery so let me rave about it for few minutes. I believe that you can now get peanut butter powder in any US-based grocery store. Even the peanut butter behemoth, Jif, has its own version of this product, which I have not tried yet so can’t really comment on whether that specific brand is any good and how it compares to others.

Peanut butter powder is mostly protein left over after you remove most of the fat (and thus lots of calories), so it is an ideal addition to smoothies, oatmeal, baking, even desserts like Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (as a substitute for almond butter), and even Pad Thai or other dishes that ask for peanut butter. The powder adds creaminess and packs all of that peanut flavor so a little usually goes quite a long way.

Plus, as a bonus, it transforms into a peanut butter-like spread when mixed with some water!

There are couple of different peanut butter powder “formulations” out there so check the ingredients list first in order to make an informed decision. My first excursion into the peanut butter powder land involved a product that contained added sugar, and that was not what I was looking for. So, I currently use peanut butter powder that lists only one ingredient: peanuts! Needless to say, if you do have a peanut allergy, this is not for you!!!

The recipe below is my new go-to, quick fix bread spread which has less calories, is low-fat and low-sugar so completely vegan, paleo-friendly, and done in a minute. I call it Homemade Peanut Butter Nutella because it combines that rich darkness of cocoa with the peanut aromas into a creamy spread. The recipe below makes one serving – I’ve no clue whether this would store well because I make one single serving at a time, so I recommend you start off using it in this way as well.

Homemade 1-Minute Peanut Butter Nutella

What you’ll need:

2 tablespoons peanut butter powder (no sugar added)

2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder

1 packet stevia powder (or your sweetener of choice)

2-3 tablespoons hot water

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients (peanut butter powder, cocoa powder and stevia) in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add hot water, one tablespoon at a time, and mix well with a spoon until you get the smooth and spreadable consistency.
  3. Enjoy on toast, fruit, or in any other way you would normally use a spread like Nutella for!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Best 10-Minute No-Sugar Added Blueberry Jam

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10-Minute No-Sugar Added Blueberry Jam, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Let me try to make this post as short as the recipe itself. It’s probably already too long because, amazingly, you will need less than ten minutes to go from frozen blueberries to this instant blueberry jam!

The jam is sweet, spreadable and full of pure blueberry flavor. You can use it on anything you would normally put the jam on, and you can store it in the fridge for a week or so, although it will probably not last that long.

What’s the secret? Not much really. It all comes down to mixing frozen blueberries with tapioca starch in a large, microwave safe bowl and letting you microwave oven take care of the rest. You can have some warm jam on you pancakes but I recommend patience and letting the jam cool completely before enjoying!

10-Minute No-Sugar Added Blueberry Jam

What you’ll need:

3 cups blueberries, frozen

2 tablespoons tapioca starch

What you’ll do:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, mix together blueberries and tapioca starch. Mix well until the blueberries are well covered with starch.
  2. Place in the microwave and microwave on full power for 5 minutes.
  3. Take the bowl out, mix well again and put back into the microwave oven for another 5 minutes.
  4. When the second 5 minutes are up, mix again and check that jam is starting to become dense.
  5. You can use both the warm and the cold blueberry jam on pancakes, toast, oatmeal…

You see… I told you it was short and it is absolutely sweet!!!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

 

Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese – Deluxe Edition

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese – Deluxe Edition, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Hooray – a plant-based cheese success story!!! Believe me, the three exclamation points are not for nothing as I’ve had my fair share of plant-based cheese disasters. But, let us not dwell on failure and talk about this latest, greatest treasure I discovered. Like my vegan fresh mozzarella experiment that was out of this world delicious, this Baked Sunflower Cheese is fully based on a lovely recipe created by another person. Credit for today’s recipe goes to Sweet Potato Soul, a lovely and so bright and cheerful vegan food blog by Jenné (you can also follow her on Twitter @SweetPotatoSoul).

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese topped with slivered almond, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I was looking for something to do with sunflower seeds and this recipe popped up. The recipe is simple and follows the same logic of plant-based cheese making – you soak in this case the seeds but more often the nuts overnight, and then you process them with flavor and umami agents of your choice. Jenné’s recipe uses a nice combination of ingredients that all play well together with the raw sunflower seeds, so other than adjusting the amount of lemon juice and miso paste, I increased both, and dialing down the nutritional yeast, I followed all the rest.

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese on a cutting board, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

My main point of departure was at the end. Once I’ve chopped and blended everything in the food processor I used my muffin tin to form small individual cheeses. I sprayed the muffin tins with some olive oil cooking spray, and packed the cheese mix into the molds tightly. I let it firm up in the fridge overnight and the next day I inverted the individual cheeses out, topped them with couple of different toppings (capers, slivered almonds, sun dried tomatoes, and hot sauce), placed them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and baked them at 350 F (175 C) for 10-15 minutes, just enough for the individual cheeses to warm up and the topping to caramelize.

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Slivered Almonds topped Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I served the cheeses at a party, with some crackers (and couple of other goodies), and it was amazing!!! Pictures here tell only half a story, so make thus cheese and see for yourself how the story ends.

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Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese topped with capers, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Note: I stored the leftover cheese in the fridge and used it the next day to make wonderful sandwiches with roasted red pepper hummus and the cold Baked Sunflower Seed Cheese. Yummy!

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Spice Infused Apple Butter

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Spice Infused Apple Butter, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow


There is nothing better than freshly picked fruit. I love PYO – Pick Your Own – events at our local farms. They are a perfect activity for friends and family that gets everyone outside and into the nature. These PYO activities support local farms, and provide a cheaper access to perfectly ripe fresh fruit. I also love them for one selfish reason – I am shameless when it comes to taste tasting as I pick and can’t resist biting into an amazing piece of fruit I just picked. Honestly, who could?

The last PYO days are slowly unfolding around me, and I grabbed an opportunity to go pick some apples. The loot included six different varieties, Granny Smith, Jonagold, McIntosh, Pink Lady, Fuji and Empire, and was destined for couple of different things, including a huge batch of apple butter. For the apple butter I used couple of Granny Smith’s, Fuji’s, and Jonagolds. I used my slowcooker (crockpot) to cook the butter since it is really totally hands of – you plug it and forget it for about 10-12 hours. The best time to start cooking is the evening, because your butter can cook overnight and you will wake up to a house that is full of rich aromas.

Those aromas are mostly due to a nice mix of spices that’s make the flavor of this butter. I combined lots of ground cinnamon, some allspice and a bit of nutmeg. There are a lot of apples in this recipe so they drop need lots of spice to make the flavors rich and deep. You could change the spice makeup if you like. Alternative spices to try would be ground ginger, ground cloves, vanilla beans, and/or orange peel.

If you are reading this and wondering to yourself “What is apple butter?”, first of all thank you for being patient, and second, apple butter is sort of apple marmalade or apple jam. It’s thick – thicker than apple sauce – and smooth. It is a perfect breakfast item, for toast, pancakes or waffles, and although I have not tried it I bet it can work great as an ice cream topping! It can be made much sweeter depending on the variety of apples you use, and by adding sugar to it. This recipe does not use any sugar and adding Granny Smith to the mix of apples I used makes the final product just slightly tart.

Spice Infused Apple Butter

What you’ll need:

(If using a 6 QT (5.7 L) crockpot – adjust the amount depending on the size of your crock!!!)

6 lbs (2.5-3 kg) apples

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash, dry, peel and core your apples. This will be quite a project so arm yourself with patience, enlist help of your friends and family, or get a peeler/corer/slicer device. I can recommend the KitchenAid standing mixer attachment that does all this for you, but it comes with a high price tag. It’s not essential, but it does help a great deal.  Whether you peel the apples it is actually up to you. I wanted a really smooth butter texture so decided to peel them this time around.
  2. Slice the apples and put them a really large mixing bowl. Add the spices and mix well, so that the spices are evenly distributed all over your apples.
  3. Line the crockpot with the crockpot liner (if using – I use it becasue it make cleanup a breeze, but it is not essential). Arrange the apples, put the lid on and turn your slow cooker to 10 to 12 hours. If you have a slow cooker that allows you to select the level of heat, I recommend cooking the apple butter on high.
  4. Let the apples cool before handling further. Transfer the cooked apples into a large bowl and use a stick (immersion) blender to purée the apples into a smooth apple butter. If you don’t have an immersion blender, your regular blender will work but you will have to blend in batches.
  5. Since I am not an expert in canning, I packed my apple butter in two nice big jars, one to give away one to keep. I store my apple butter in the fridge but if you do know how to can things I bet you can make the apple butter, can it and keep it for months.

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

Roasted Red Beets Hummus

Roasted Red Beets Hummus
Roasted Red Beets Hummus, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

I am a bit on the roasted beets kick these days. I just shared how I used them in a salad, this post is all about a hummus I put together, and, believe it or not, I have a pile of roasted beets in the fridge that are waiting for me to figure out what to do with them.

Beets Roasting on a Grill
Beets Roasting on a Grill, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The batch in the fridge was roasted in the oven, and that method – cranking the heat to 425 F (220 C) and roasting them for about 30 to 45 minutes – will work here as well. But the beets that I used for this hummus were roasted on a grill. I recommend you try this next time you grill your veggies, tofu or try my Portobello Mushroom Steaks. Your grill will already be on so it’s perfect time to wrap your bits in some foil and toss them on!

The rest of this hummus recipe is super easy. You will need a large mixing bowl, two cans of chickpeas, rinsed and pat dried, some lemon juice, and a spoonful or two of almond butter, and all the lovely roasted beets, cooled and peeled. You will also need a hand-held, stick blender, and let it rip until everything is well blended and smooth. You can always use a good processor if you have one or a powerful blender. I have neither so hand-held, stick blender is my tool of choice.

What you’ll end up with is a nice pile of lovely and bright magenta hummus that will keep well in a plastic container with a tight lid for a week in the refrigerator.

Roasted Red Beets Hummus, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Roasted Red Beets Hummus, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Roasted Red Beets Hummus

What you’ll need:

3 red beets

2 15.5 oz (439 g) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), low sodium

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons almond butter

What you’ll do:

  1. Roast the beets, let them cool and peel. You can roast them in the oven or on the grill. Either way I recommend wrapping them in foil. This will minimize the mess and speed up the roasting. Regardless of where you roast them, it will take about 30 to 45 minutes to get the beets roasted all the way through. Please note that you can eat beets raw, so you can actually skip the roasting all together. Roasting does help bring the natural sweetness of beets out more, so in my opinion it’s worth an effort.
  2. Cut the roasted beets into cubes, and place into a food processor or the large mixing bowl.
  3. Place the chickpeas into a strainer, rinse them well and pat dry.
  4. Add chickpeas to the bits, add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve any way you like. For me hummus is one of the best sandwich spreads ever, and this one works like a dream when paired with avocados!!!
  5. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mushroom “Scallops” with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

Mushroom “Scallops” with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

“Waste not, want not” is how the saying goes, encouraging us to not to waste what we have and conserve resources. Well, I may be extrapolating here, but it is not a bad maxim to cook by, if not live by. I’ve been struggling for number of years now to find use for mushroom stems, especially the big, almost woody stems of large white button mushrooms. The caps are fabulous for stuffing, and I’ve already shared my Mashed Potato Stuffed Mushrooms with Cashew Sour Cream recipe, but stems are a bit trickier. I usually chop them up and combine them into the stuffing, or don’t even bother removing them if I use mushrooms in a soup or stew that will simmer for a while. However, big stems just don’t work well in some of the quicker recipes.

That’s why I got really excited when I found out that mushroom stems can be used as a sort of replacement for large scallops. For example, Cara, the person behind a fabulous blog called Fork & Beans, used king oyster mushrooms to make a “scallop” pasta. That got me thinking: why not use the large stems I got to create a vegan “scallop” dish?

There is one major trick to transforming mushroom stems into scallops – you have to soak them in hot water 1-2 hours to overnight. I soaked my batch overnight, actually for almost 24 hours, which is totally an overkill but I just had other things to do the mushroom stems had to wait happily soaking in the refrigerator. The mushroom stems I had were pretty long so I had to cut each in half, so my scallops were about 1 in (2.5 cm) thick. That worked well in terms of cooking too! Before using, drain and dry your mushroom scallops.

Mushroom “Scallops” Soaking, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Another advice I can share is to make mushroom scallops the same way you would make scallops, which in my case means simply browning them on both sides, using a bit of oil or cooking spray and sprinkling with Old Bay Seasoning on one side as the first side is finishing cooking. The cooking itself takes no time at all: three to five minutes per side should do the trick!

If you are serving the mushroom “scallops” as is, I suggest you sprinkle them with some lemon juice. I decided to serve them with a Cilantro Yogurt Sauce which I made from homemade soy yogurt, fresh cilantro, crushed garlic and lime juice. The homemade soy yogurt was simple to make and I recommend you try making your own, but if pressed for time store bought plain soy yogurt will do the trick. Here, the tangier the yogurt, the better the yogurt sauce so choose the brand with more tang – I can’t recommend any here because none of the store bought yogurts I tried were really all that good (thus the decision to make my own!). You can adjust the tang with adding a drop of apple cider vinegar or a bit more lime juice.

You can serve these mushroom “scallops”, and the sauce, with pasta or polenta, but I plated them as an appetizer over some fresh baby spinach leaves. The “scallops” were hot when plated, and their heat wilted the spinach a bit as well. I let them sit for few minutes before layering on cold yogurt sauce and serving immediately!!!

In case you were wondering, these don’t really taste like scallops but they are delicious and I love the idea so I will definitely be trying to get the flavor closer to the original, perhaps by trying a different mushroom variety.

Mushroom “Scallops” with Cilantro Yogurt Sauce

What you’ll need:

20 large white button mushroom, stems only

2-3 teaspoons, Old Bay Seasoning

1 cup plain soy yogurt, homemade

1 cup cilantro leaves (about 1 bunch)

2 teaspoon garlic, crushed

2-3 teaspoons lime juice

Baby spinach for plating

Cooking spray

What you’ll do: 

    1. Cut large white button mushroom stems into 1 in (2.5 cm) pieces. Soak in water overnight, or in hot water for 1-2 hours.
    2. Prepare plain soy yogurt according to the instructions on VegCharlotte site. The method I used takes advantage of a crock pot, slow cooker, but it does take at least 14 hours to make so give yourself enough time, or get a tub of store bought soy yogurt. So this recipe is a bit of an overnight flight and you’ll need to get the mushroom “scallops” and the yogurt going one day ahead.
    3. In a food processor, mix yogurt, cilantro, garlic and lime juice. Your yogurt might be more or less solid, mine was more of a kefir than yogurt, but that really does not matter much in this application. At the end you will have a beautiful, aromatic, vibrant sauce regardless of your yogurt consistency. Put your sauce to the side and proceed to deal with the mushroom “scallops”.
    4. When ready to cook the mushrooms, first drain the liquid and pat the mushroom “scallops” dry with a kitchen towel.
    5. Spray the bottom of a large frying pan with cooking spray and place it over the high heat. Brown the mushroom “scallops” on one side for 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle the top with Old Bay Seasoning then turn over for another 3-5 minutes. Plate on the bed of baby spinach that has been generously topped with cilantro yogurt sauce. Serve and enjoy immediately!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Soy Yogurt Cilantro Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Cilantro Yogurt Sauce, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Vegan Herb Mayo

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Vegan Herb Mayo, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
I am a huge sandwich lover – give me some bread, a tasty spread, and a pile of veggies on top any day of the week and at any time of the day, and I’ll be a happy, and a well fed, camper! One of my favorite sandwich spreads of all time is mayo, and I’m not ashamed to admit that in my college days I used to put mayo not only on French fries – I am a European after all – but on spaghetti as well. Although my love of mayo did not waver over the years, my use of it did.

No doubt about it, mayo is delicious. Also no doubt about it, it is not really good for you. Unfortunately, available mayo alternatives, like the light versions or even some of the vegan versions I tried, have not been very good at hitting my taste buds the same way real mayonnaise does. So, I decided to develop my own recipe and I think I am getting close to the ideal.

My Vegan Herb Mayo uses cashews and tofu to build the consistency and body, and Dijon mustard, lemon juice, lemon zest and basil to give this mayo a bit of je ne sais quoi. The result is a lighter and healthier spread that I use on my sandwiches and Sweet Potato & White Potato Medallions. It also makes an excellent Tartar Sauce that you can use on vegan seafood or vegan chicken. Yummy!

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Vegan Herb Mayo Sandwich, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Vegan Herb Mayo

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/4 cup almond milk

14 oz (400 g) extra firm tofu

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon dry basil

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

What you’ll do:

  1. Cover the cashews with water and leave them in refrigerator to soak overnight. Then throw the water out and pat dry the cashews
  2. Place tofu in a strainer and let it drain in refrigerator overnight. Next, pat dry the tofu and crumble it into a smaller chunks.
  3. Place all the ingredients into a food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy your Vegan Herb Mayo! This mayo stores well in the fridge for up to a week.

Note: If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have leftover Cashew Cream, like for example while making Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala, I suggest taking an extra step and transforming it into this delightful mayo-like spread.

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Roasted Sweet Potato Butter

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Roasted Sweet Potato Butter, by Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Growing up sweet potatoes never crossed my plate or my palate. My first encounter with this vegetable, and the American love of it, came in the form of a Thanksgiving staple: the sweet potato casserole with pecans and marshmallow topping. Unfortunately, for both me and sweet potatoes, this first encounter was far from a success. I liked the taste of the casserole, but not as a side dish – it was too sweet and too rich. So, I walked away thinking that sweet potatoes have no purpose other than making people who like to overindulge for holidays feel like they ate healthy because they just had some vegetables.

Luckily for me, over the years I slowly introduced myself to sweet potatoes, and I stand before you today, a complete sweet potato convert! My conversion was inspired not only by the fact that sweet potatoes are full of fiber and vitamin A, but my decision to break away from the social norms and expectations. I still can’t stand them on my dinner plate, but I do eat sweet potatoes for breakfast, snack and dessert. If you haven’t tried roasted sweet potato as a grab-and-go snack,  straight from the fridge and cold, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. I know it sounds weird, but do try it – cold roasted sweet potato snack will not disappoint you, I guarantee!

Over the last month I started experimenting with vegan cooking, and few days ago I ended up in the sweet potato heaven, better known as the Roasted Sweet Potato Butter (see recipe below). I was looking for something my family can use instead of butter and maple syrup on their favorite breakfast food, the pancakes. In the past I’ve come across apple butter and pumpkin butter, and the latter got me thinking that  So far we discovered that the Roasted Sweet Potato Butter works on pancakes, and toast, and chocolate mousse, and… It turns out, this simple spread is IT – 50% Thanksgiving, 50% Christmas, and 100% fabulously satisfying. I hope you enjoy it!

Roasted Sweet Potato Butter

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What you’ll need for Roasted Sweet Potato Butter, by Eat the Vegan Rainbow

What you’ll need:

3 large sweet potatoes

1 orange

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425F (220C). Wash sweet potatoes under warm water, scrubbing them with the food brush and put them aside. Line a baking sheet with foil – I find that using foils saves time when it comes to clean-up – and place your potatoes on, nicely spaced out. Once the oven is ready, put it in and forget it for about 30 min. You can check if your potatoes are done by poking them with a fork – if it goes in without resistance your potatoes are done. Take them out and let them cool for at least 4 hours, best overnight.
  2. Once the potatoes are completely cold, peel them and cut them into smaller chunks, about 1 in x 1 in (2.5 cm x 2.5 cm). The size of the chunks depends on the power of your blender, and for the one I have this is as big as the chunks can get to ensure smooth blending. Put your sweet potato in a food processor or a blender.
  3. Add cinnamon and nutmeg.
  4. Add zest of one orange – please remember to wash your orange before zesting!
  5. Add juice of one orange or about 1/2 cup of orange juice.
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Store in the glass jar or another type of air-tight container for up to a week, but believe me, this Roasted Sweet Potato Butter will not stand a chance.

Note: Final consistency should be smooth, yet the butter should not be runny. You can adjust consistency to taste by adding more orange juice if needed so I recommend you start with 1/4 cup at first and add as you go, so you don’t end up with a sweet potato smoothie. There is nothing wrong with a sweet potato smoothie, of course, but that is a culinary story for another day!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017