Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes and Corn

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Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes and Corn, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Who ever invented a spiralizer deserves one of those Breakthrough Technology prizes – future generations of parents will not know the painful process of getting kids to eat zucchini or summer squash, or even beets because with this magical machine all kids will be diving into is spaghetti, and who doesn’t love that!!!

What I like about zucchini noodles is that they cook really fast, they have a lovely texture, and a bit of chew to them – very similar to a broader noodle pasta variety, like fettuccine. The recipe here combines only a handful of ingredients and, once you have your zucchini noodles ready, it only takes 15 minutes from start to finish. So, it is ideal for a quick lunch, or a healthy dinner after a very, very busy day. It looks very glamorous, it tastes crisp and delicious, and you will get all your recommended daily servings of vegetables in one plate – but, hey, who’s counting those, right?

The easiest way to get zucchini noodles, or many other kinds of noodles, is to buy them from a grocery stores. Almost all I go to carry those, so grab them and try them. If you like them, stop grabbing them from the store and buy yourself a spiralizer. The gadget is going to pay iteself off after 5-10 times of use, depending on how much you spend, because buying zucchini and doing the spiralizing yourself is much, much cheaper – I did the math and came up with the number 5. It will cost you five times more to buy pre-spiralized veggies than to do it yourself… Plus, once you have a spiralizer you can do all sorts of fun stuff with it, like these Spiralized Oven Fries.

Hope you give this recipe a try!

Zucchini Noodles with Cherry Tomatoes and Corn

What you’ll need:

4 pieces of zucchini, medium sized, spiralized

1 onion, finely diced

10 oz (275 g) cherry tomatoes, washed and halved

1 1/2 cup frozen corn

Cooking spray

Fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, fresh or dry oregano, fresh or dry basil – these are all possible toppings for you to consider.

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Spray the bottom of a large and deep frying pan, or even a wok, with cooking spray and put over the medium high heat.
  2. Add the diced onions and brown for 3-4 minutes, until soft, slightly browned and translucent.
  3. Add the tomatoes and let them sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Once the tomatoes are soft, add the corn and let it thaw as it cooks. No need to thaw it ahead of time. It will take about 5 minutes for corn to be ready for the next step.
  5. Add the zucchini noodles, mix everything gently together, and sauté for another 5 minutes. Serve immediately with a dash of fresh basil or a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

 

 

 

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Simple Harvest Roast

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Harvest Roast, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Roasting is one of my favorite ways of making food. Preparing vegetables and fruits at high temperature brings out the natural sugars and flavors they have and releases all sorts of aromas that make your entire home feel more inviting and cozy.

This Harvest Roast was my centerpiece for the Thanksgiving feast and it could not be simpler to make! Basically all you need to do is get the oven nice and hot, cut up some yummy vegetables, toss everything with a bit of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and olive oil, and roast it away. Actually, I recommend adding a cup of water to the bottom of your roasting pan and keeping the veggies covered with foil for the first twenty minutes, then removing the cover for the last fifteen minutes.

The vegetable selection is entirely up to you. Because this is my Thanksgiving roast, the vegetables I used are earthy and hearty, mostly root vegetables that in many ways symbolize the season. I combined sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, butternut squash, corn on the cob, and some apples to create a real comfort food medley.

Simple Harvest Roast

What you’ll need:

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

3 purple head turnips, peeled and cubed

3 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped

10-15 baby carrots (or 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly sliced)

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 tart apples, roughly chopped

3 ears of corn, cut into 4-5 pieces each

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup water

Salt and pepper to taste

Sage leaves

Thyme sprigs

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 450 F (230 C).
  2. Add all the vegetables and fruit to a large roasting pan and mix with oil, salt and pepper if using. You can roast without oil, salt and pepper as well.
  3. Add water to the very bottom of the pan. Best is to pour in the four corners and then move the pan around to spread.
  4. Arrange sage leaves and thyme sprigs on top.
  5. Cover the pan with foil and roast covered for 20-25 minutes.
  6. Remove the foil and roast for another 20-25 minutes.
  7. Take the roast out, let it rest for 10 minutes and serve!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing for the Best Thanksgiving Dinner Ever

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Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

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

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

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

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

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Creamy Cauliflower Winter Soup, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

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

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

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

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

 

 

Chestnut and Mushroom Stuffing

What you’ll need:

1 yellow onion, finely diced

6 stalks celery, finely diced

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

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

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

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

Fresh sage, 4 leaves, chopped

Fresh thyme, 8 springs, pulled

Fresh rosemary, 2 springs, whole

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

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

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Chicken-less Tikka Masala

 

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Chicken-less Tikka Masala, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Several months ago I shared the recipe for a Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala that used jackfruit instead of the chicken and came together in a slow cooker. I still think that that’s a great, flavorful and aromatic dish and if you are looking for new ways of making and enjoying jackfruit it is definitely something you should try. Having said that, someone did ask about what the source of protein was in a dish like that, and although jackfruit, as well as all the other fruits and vegetables on the planet, has some protein it is not a protein-rich food.

So, I went looking for ways to increase the protein content in the plant-based Tikka Masala and found soya chunks. Soya chunks are not something that’s easy to find in US grocery stores. I was able to find them in Serbia easily enough and I have now also found them on Amazon and in my local Indian grocery store. If you have an Indian grocery store relatively nearby, it’s absolutely worth the trip. I find that the prices in the Indian grocery store I go to are on average three to four times cheaper than online, and things like rice, soy and chickpea flour, and spices are a fraction of the price when compared to my regular grocery store or health food store. Most Indian stores have a freshly made food section as well, so although not many items on the traditional Indian menu are vegan, I’m sure you will find a couple worth trying out.

Back to soya chunks now. Soya chunks are made from fat-free soy meal, a by-product of soybean oil extraction. The meal is molded into different shapes and textures (soya chunks of different shape and size) and dried out to create a shelf-stable, long lasting products. I use several different size of soya chunks, depending on what I am making. For example, the size of soya chunks I chose for a dish like chicken-less tikka masala matches the size of chicken chunks, which are usually about 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes. An essential step for almost all soya chunk dishes involves boiling soya chunks in water for five minutes or so to rehydrate them. If you are using very fine soya chunks, like TVP (textured vegetable protein), boiling is usually not required but some soaking will be needed. The only TVP application where I advise against soaking is when making burgers, and you can find out why and how come in my recipe.

For this Chicken-less Tikka Masala to work, you will have to marinade soya chunks in a spice-and-yogurt sauce. Basically, you are following all the same steps as you would if you were making the chicken version of this dish, and by the time you are finished all the marinating and simmering nobody will be able to tell that what they are eating is not the real thing. I recommend marinating soya chunks overnight, but if you are in the hurry starting the marinate in the morning and finishing the dish later the same day will work.

The Chicken-less Tikka Masala is best served with some Basamati Rice, and topped with fresh cilantro. For a full restaurant experience you can add some Naan bread and Cucumber Raita, which you can make easily with some finely sliced cucumber, some yogurt, and a squeeze of lemon juice!

Chicken-less Tikka Masala

What you’ll need:

7 oz (200 g) medium soya chunks

2 tablespoon coriander powder

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon cayenne

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garam masala

1/2 tablespoon cardamom powder

1 cup cashew yogurt

1 large onion, diced

6 oz (170 g) tomato paste

1 14.5 oz (411 g) can petite diced tomatoes

2 tablespoon vegetable oil (divided)

Fresh cilantro

What you’ll do:

  1. In a large pot cover soya chunks with water, bring to boil, and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Transfer soya chunks into a large strainer, rinse with cold water and gently press any access water out. You want your soya chunks to be soft and moist but not dripping with water.
  2. Place one tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan and heat until the oil is hot. Reduce the heat to medium and add the spices (coriander, paprika, cayenne, cumin, garam masala, and cardamom). Toast the spices for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant. Place the toasted spices into a large mixing bowl and let cool for few minutes.
  3. Once spices have cooled just a bit, add the yogurt and mix well. Next, add the soya chunks, make sure they are well covered with the marinade, and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. If you are in a rush you can cut down the marinating time to couple of hours – in that case leave everything on the kitchen counter.
  4. In a large and heavy pot, like a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over the medium high heat. When oil is heated, add the diced onion and let it brown for 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Once the onion is browned, add the tomato paste, mix well and let the tomato paste brown slightly. This will take 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Next, add the marinated soy chunks together with all the yogurt marinade. Mix well, and let the soy chunks brown just slightly. You will need to give it an occasional stir, but the idea is to let the soy chunks get a chance to caramelize on the edges just slightly. This will take about 10 minutes.
  7. Add diced tomatoes, mix well, decrease the heat to medium low, and let the Chicken-less Tikka Masala simmer for 15 minutes or so. This simmering will allow all the flavors to come together more completely, and the sauce to thicken slightly. If you discover that your sauce is not as thick as you like it, keep simmering until you reach the consistency you like.
  8. Serve over Saffron Brown Basmati Rice and sprinkle with some fresh cilantro!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Zucchini Lasagna with Walnut and Brown Lentil Ragù

Zucchini Lasagna with Walnut and Brown Lentil Ragù, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Let’s cut to the chase and be honest here – although we can pretend otherwise, we are all as obsessed with lasagnas as Garfield is! The layers of soft noodles, amazing sauce, fresh herbs, and most commonly lots and lots of ground meat and soft cheese. All this means that lasagnas are not the healthiest thing on the menu. Having said that, there is no reason to ban lasagnas from your plate; you just need to learn how to keep it healthy and plant-based, and I think I can help you to troubleshoot both of those problems.

Keeping lasagnas meat-free seems to be the problem many have tackled, usually by overloading lasagna with cheese, cheese and eggs, or cheese and a selection of vegetables, like mushrooms, and increasing the amount of tomato sauce and making it chunkier. But, really the most prominent ingredient in majority of meatless lasagna recipes is the cheese. When I was developing this lasagna recipe I did not want to give up on idea of “meat”, so what I came up with is a hearty, meaty, and flavorful walnut and brown lentil “meat” ragù base. My thinking was inspired by my previous, wildly successful Meatless Shepherd’s Pie, which I served for Easter this year as a substitute for a more traditional, lamb-based dish. In that recipe, lentils, mixed with ground mushrooms and cooked with rosemary and thyme, made for an amazing feast.

Here, I wanted to recreate the traditional meat ragù and went for a combination of chopped walnuts and dark lentils. The trick is too cook the lentils separately and add them to the rest of the ragù when they are fully cooked. Also, chop your walnuts into pieces that are about the size of what ground meat pieces may look like. I chopped the walnuts by hand, just by going over walnut pieces with a knife few times, back and forth. You can buy whole walnuts, or walnut halves in store and start from there, but for this a bag of walnut pieces will make your life easier and make the dish cheaper. Walnuts work really well in this lasagna, because they add some of their natural crunchy texture, protein, and a bit of fattiness to the otherwise very lean recipe. Worried about this extra fat? Walnuts are known for having a lot of unsaturated fat, which is the good kind, so don’t skip it! The meatiness of the ragù is further enhanced by a good amount of tomato paste and crushed tomatoes and letting the ragù simmer for a while.

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Walnut and Brown Lentil Ragù, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

The preparation of any lasagna happens in several stages and this one is no different. In order to make the process more efficient I recommend that you start roasting the zucchini at the same time you start making the ragù, and then start boiling the lasagna noodles when zucchini is just about done. In that way you don’t even need to turn the oven off, you can just lower the temperature from roasting to baking and be ready for lasagna to go in immediately. Please note that I don’t use zucchini as a complete lasagna noodle replacement. I suppose you could, but then you’ll end up in a more of a Zucchini Mousaka territory than lasagna paradise. If you are concerned about gluten, there are now many gluten-free lasagna noodle options for you to choose from and most of them work perfectly.

The final touch on this lasagna is the Béchamel sauce (besciamella), which is a white sauce traditionally made with milk, butter and flour. In this case, the quick white sauce I put together requires only a blender, some soft, silken tofu, a squeeze of a lemon, and a bit of nutritional yeast. It is very much the blend-and-pour type of sauce, so you can do it a in a blink of an eye. The sauce adds a nice, slightly cheesy flavor to this very rich lasagna, and makes for a nice, almost golden glaze.

Zucchini Lasagna with Walnut and Brown Lentil Ragù

What you’ll need (for 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) baking dish):

8-10 lasagna noodles, gluten-free if preferred

1 lbs (450 g) brown lentils

3 zucchinis, cut lengthwise into long strips

2 large carrots, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 cup raw walnut pieces, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 can (28 oz, 800 g) crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

3 tablespoons fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

1 lbs (450 g) silken tofu

2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Cooking oil spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Prepare the lentils according to the instructions on the bag. Basically, bring 4 cups of water to boil and add the lentils that have been washed and picked over to remove any impurities that may have made their way to the lentils. Bring the lentils back to boil than lower the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or so, until lentils are completely cooked. Drain the lentils from excess water and set aside to cool.
  3. While the oven is preheating, and lentils are cooking, prep your veggies. Peel, wash, and dice the onions and carrots, and wash and dice the celery. Wash the zucchini well, remove the ends, then cut into long, thin strips. You can use a mandolin slicer for this, but cutting by hand also works. The zucchini slices should be as close to the thickness of the lasagna noodles as possible, but you don’t need to go crazy here – just keep in mind that a bit thinner is better.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the zucchini slices on and spray with cooking spray. You may need to use two baking sheets, since you may discover that you can’t manage to have all your zucchini slices arranged in a single layer. Don’t pile the zucchini on top of each other and do roast in batches if needed. Place the zucchini “lasagna noodles” into the oven to roast. The roasting will take anywhere between 15 and 25 minutes and will depend on the thickness of your zucchini. Keep an eye on the oven and if you are roasting two pans of the zucchini at the same time do rotate the pans mid way through the roasting. You will know that the zucchini is done when the edges are slightly brown and the middle is golden. Once you take the zucchini out, decrease the oven temperature to 350 F (175 C).
  5. While the zucchini is roasting, start your the ragù. Spray the bottom of a Dutch oven, or another type of heavy pan, with cooking spray and heat up over the medium to medium high heat. Add carrots, onions and celery and let them brown for 10 minutes. Add chopped walnuts and let them pan roast for about 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and basil, and let the flavors develop for a minute. Next comes tomato paste – add it to the pan, mix well and let brown just slightly. This takes about 2 minutes or so. Add the cooked lentils and the crushed tomatoes, and mix well. Let the ragù simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the heat off, add the fresh parsley and mix well to combine.
  6. Once the ragù is simmering, it’s time to start cooking your lasagna noodles. Most varieties ask for a large pot of boiling water and about 10 minutes of boiling time. The noodles don’t need to be cooked all the way through as they will continue to cook in the oven but they do need to soften quite a bit, so 8 to 10 minutes should be enough to achieve that. Drain the noodles and use immediately.
  7. Combine tofu, lemon juice and nutritional yeast in a blender and blend until smooth. Set the besciamella to the side.
  8. Spray the bottom and sides of your 9 x 13 in (23 x 33 cm) pan with some cooking spray. Cover the bottom liberally with the ragù (use about a half of the amount you made), layer the first set of noodles (for me that came to about 5 noodles per layer), then layer the zucchini in a single layer, pour the rest of the ragù, and top with the remaining noodles. Pour the besciamella over and cover with foil.
  9. Place the covered lasagna into the 350 F (175 C) oven and let bake for 30 minutes covered and then about 10 minutes uncovered. Let the lasagna sit for about 10 minutes before serving. I like to add some freshly ground black pepper or a mix of black pepper and red pepper flakes to my lasagna just before enjoying, but you can also sprinkle some fresh parsley, or fresh basil. Have fun!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Jackfruit Barbacoa 

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Jackfruit Barbacoa Tacos with Queso Fresco, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

One of the most amazing discoveries I made when I transitioned into plant-based, vegan, eating and cooking was the jackfruit. I had never heard of jackfruit before but once I read, and then made few recipes I was completely sold on it! The jackfruit recipes I made so far varied from very simple, like tacos, to a couple that replaced seafood and shellfish with jackfruit, like the New England Clam-free “Clam” Chowder and Crab-less “Crab” Cakes, to some that take a bit of time to come together, like the Jackfruit Tikka Masala.

If you are not familiar with jackfruit, it is a beast of a fruit. It is actually the largest fruit produced by a tree, since one jackfruit can weigh as much as 80 pounds (35 kg). Not to worry, most home cooks will not have to carve this beast themselves, because the jackfruit comes chopped up in a can. I recently saw a real fresh jackfruit and was tempted to buy it, but it is just too expensive plus I am not even sure I would be able to handle all the prep work. When it comes to jackfruit in a can, for savory dishes you need to pick young, green jackfruit in water or brine. I drain and rinse the jackfruit well to remove excess salt, and use my fingers to pull it apart and remove any seeds that may be in there and the bits of the hard core. At the end of all that I have a pile of jackfruit shreds that are ready to go.

For this barbacoa I start with a pile of onions and grated carrots to give the dish a lot of sweetness, and by caramelizing the onions and carrots I add smoked flavors as well. There are no tricks here, other than taking it slowly and adding layers off flavor one by one. I start by letting the onions caramelize over the medium heat. Then I add carrots and let them cook through, before adding garlic and a nice mix of spices (dried oregano, cumin, allspice, and paprika) leading the way.

My secret ingredient for this barbacoa is roasted red pepper purée, which is super simple to make. All you need is couple of roasted red peppers, homemade or store bought, a can of fire roasted green chili peppers, and a food processor or a blender. You need to give your peppers a buzz for ten to fifteen seconds, and they will be ready to pour over the barbacoa. Finally, I add the shredded jackfruit and let everything simmer for a while, with couple of additions of water to deglaze the bottom of the pan and get all those flavorful brown bits incorporated into the barbacoa.


You can serve this barbacoa any way you like, but it works really well in tacos. If you are into making your tacos exciting, you can try pairing the jackfruit barbacoa with Macademia Nut Queso Fresco and some fresh cilantro. Yummy!

 

Jackfruit Barbacoa

What you’ll need:

3 large white onions

6 large carrots

3 20 oz. (570 g) cans of young (green) jackfruit in brine

4 cloves garlic

1 7 oz (200 g) can fire roasted green chili peppers

3 roasted red peppers

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon allspice

1/4 (or as needed) cup water

Cooking spray

Corn tortillas, fresh squeezed lime juice, fresh cilantro, sour cream, queso fresco, avocado, …

What you’ll do:

  1. Peel and slice the onions lengthwise into thin strips.
  2. Spray the bottom of a large Dutch oven with cooking spray and place over the medium to medium high heat. Add the onions and let them caramelize for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Peel and grate the carrots using a grater or a food processor. You want the carrots to be about the same width as the onions. Add them to the caramelized onions and continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Peel the garlic and mince by hand or use a garlic press. Make a bit of room in your Dutch oven by pushing the onion and carrot mix to one side. Add the garlic and let it brown for a minute or two.
  5. Push the garlic to the side and add the rest of the spices. Let the spices brown for a minute, until the aromas start to develop. Mix everything together and simmer for couple of minutes.
  6. Put roasted green chili peppers and roasted red peppers in a blender or a food processor. Blend until a smooth purée forms.
  7. Add to the rest of your barbacoa and mix together. Let simmer for couple of minutes.
  8. Add jackfruit to the post, mix everything together and increase the heat to medium high to high. Stir occasionally, but do let your bottom brown a bit before stirring. This will help your jackfruit and the rest of your barbacoa get browned, and look almost as if they came from a grill or a roasting pan. You are going for a bit of burned ends look and feel here, but keep an eye on things and from time to time add a bit of water to deglazed the bottom. This step takes about 15 minutes.
  9. Lower the heat to medium low, put the lid on and let barbacoa cook for another 15 to 20 minutes. Serve hot in a taco, burrito, with rice or beans. Top with sour cream or queso fresco.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Creamy Mango & Chickpea Curry Tofu

Creamy Mango & Chickpeas Curry Tofu
Creamy Mango & Chickpeas Curry Tofu, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Slow cooker (crock pot) is one of my favorite small kitchen appliances and definitely the best way to make dishes that come together only after long, long simmering. Putting everything into a slow cooker is so much easier than baby sitting a simmering stew bubbling away on the stove top! But: slow cooker is slow and if you’d like to have food ready for the dinner (supper) time, you need to remember to fill it up and turn it on 3 to 6 hours in advance. Once all is set and you press the start button, you are free to do whatever and enjoy the day knowing that your delicious dinner is simmering away.

I use my slow cooker often and I find that it works really well for things like stews, or dishes like Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala. Here is another example of a delicious curry that combines tofu, chickpeas and mango with some crushed tomatoes and coconut cream into a fragrant and very creamy curry.

Serve it with Saffron Brown Basmati Rice and you are done!

Creamy Mango & Chickpea Curry Tofu

What you’ll need: 

2 16 oz (454 g) tofu blocks, extra firm

28 oz (800g) can crushed tomatoes

2 15.5 oz (439g) cans chickpeas

1 cup mango chunks, frozen

15 oz (425g) can coconut cream

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Fresh cilantro

Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Drain or press tofu for 30 minutes. I usually just leave the block of tofu in a strainer and flip the block over once. That’s usually enough for dishes that don’t need the tofu to be super dense and chewy.
  2. Cut the tofu into single bite chunks. From a 16 oz block I usually get 16 pieces so you can use that as a rough guideline.
  3. Line the inside of your slow cooker crock pot with a liner. You can skip this step of course – I just recommend it as it makes clean up an absolute breeze. Add the tofu, chickpeas that have been drained, and frozen mango chunks. You can use fresh as well but frozen mango chunks are just something I have on hand for my smoothies so it’s a bit of a staple in my kitchen.
  4. Add the spices and mix well.
  5. Dice the onion and slice the garlic. Place in a microwave safe dish, spray with cooking spray and microwave for 5 minutes. This will start the caramelization process of your aromatics and help them develop flavors.
  6. Pour the onions and garlic over the mango chunks.
  7. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and mix again.
  8. Add coconut cream and mix to incorporate.
  9. Put the lid on and turn your slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  10. When playing, serve over rice, quinoa or couscous and top with fresh cilantro.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Sunday Slow Cooker Jackfruit Stew

Jackfruit is the “It” ingredient of the plant-based and vegan cooking world. When I started blogging about my plant-based cooking exploration and experimentation, jackfruit was one of those exotic ingredients that I could only get in a local Asian grocery store.

My first jackfruit recipe were the tacos, which still make a frequent appearance at the dinner table because they take no time to make and are really, really good. But what I discovered soon after is that jackfruit is a lovely and realistic stand in for seafood, and you can make a fabulous crab-free crab cakes and clam-free New England clam chowder. I’ve also used jackfruit to make a very rich chickenless tikka masala – yummy!

So in order to feed this new hunger for jackfruit I would go to the Asian grocery store and buy a pile of canned green jackfruit in brine. But, two weeks ago I found out that Trader Joe’s now carries jackfruit suggesting that this amazing plant has gone mainstream.  I still bought more than I need just in case and immediately jumped on testing it out.

What I did with two cans of young (green) jackfruit in brine this time around is transform it into a mellow slow cooker (crockpot) stew infused with onions, garlic, Indian bay leaf, dry basil and ground cumin, as well as spiced up with a bit of red and green chili pepper. In case you are wondering about the Indian bay leaf, the tree it comes from belongs to the same family as the cinnamon tree so the flavor is a bit of a mix between bay leaf and cinnamon. So, if you don’t have Indian bay leaf on hand, you can simply use some regular bay leaf and a dash of cinnamon.

What I like to do when using canned vegetables is to dump the contents of the can out into a strainer and rinse well with lots of water. Then I let access water drain out for few minutes before using. In the case of jackfruit I also prefer to pull the bits of fruit apart, so what I end up with is a pile of pulled jackfruit ready to be flavored in any way I like.

My favorite slow cooker trick that I mentioned before, but is definitely worth repeating, is to combine the aromatics (onion, garlic, chili peppers, and spices), add some oil or cooking spray, and soften in the microwave for three to five minutes.  This helps them develop some caramelization and flavors that slow cooker is not able to achieve. Finally, these days I don’t use the slow cooker unless lined up with crockpot liners that make the cleanup an absolute breeze.

One last note: don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker. You can try making this stew on a stovetop in a Dutch oven type of pot or any other. If this is what you are doing remember to brown your aromatics in a bit of oil first then add the jackfruit, and lastly diced tomatoes. The benefit of using a slow cooker is that you set it and forget it, which frees you up to spend your Sunday doing whatever…

Slow Cooker Jackfruit Stew

What you’ll need:

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

1 can (28 oz, 800 g) petit diced tomatoes

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

1 red chili pepper, seeds and veins removed

1 green chili pepper, seeds and veins removed

1 tablespoon basil, dried

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2-3 Indian bay leaves

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

What you’ll do:

  1. Rinse and drain the jackfruit to clean out access brine. Pull the jackfruit pieces apart, removing any hard bits of core and seeds that may have been present (I leave softer bits of core and seeds in).
  2. Place the jackfruit in the crockpot that’s been lined with a liner.
  3. Remove the seeds and the veins from the chili peppers and diced them finely. Dice the onions and crush the garlic.
  4. Mix chili peppers, onion, garlic, dry basil, and ground cumin in a microwave safe bowl with the vegetable oil until everything is well coated. Microwave for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the aromatics to the crockpot as well as petit diced tomatoes and mix everything together.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
  7. Serve over basmati rice, or even pasta. This stew is fragrant and just discretely spicy. You can definitely adjust the level of spiciness to fit your palate.
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Oh My… It’s Another Meatless Shepherd’s Pie

Meatless Shepherd’s Pie, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
The first full meal post on this blog was my version of that classic, Shepherd’s Pie. The reason I kicked things off by veganizing a classic was that I wanted to push the limits and see if I can do it and be happy with the results. At that point I was one month into plant-based diet, and felt that I need to step it up in terms of how I create my meals. That’s a quick story behind the first Vegan Shepherd’s Pie.

Once that recipe was published I did get some backlash from people who firmly believed that a Shepherd’s Pie without meat is an abomination. I obviously don’t agree and have now created another version of Shepherd’s Pie that is so close to the original that very few people will know the difference. I served this for Easter Sunday dinner few weeks ago, and it was a hit!

The three main tricks I used are to fully cook the lentils on their own in water, to use full sprigs of rosemary without chopping, and to grind the mushrooms in the food processor before using. All these three things put together make this Shepherd’s Pie taste very, very similar to the ground lamb containing version. Except that this recipe leaves the lambs alone – which can’t be bad, right?


And if you are not concerned about the well-being of lambs much, perhaps you’ll find the health benefits of this recipe or its budget-friendliness more appealing. Regardless of your reasons, I hope you find at least one to compel you to try this meatless Shepherd’s Pie. Enjoy!!!

Meatless Shepherd’s Pie

What you’ll need (for 8 HUNGRY people):

14 oz (400 g) dark (brown) lentils

4 large carrots, chopped

5 celery stalks, diced

1 onion, diced

20 oz (570 g) mushrooms

3-4 sprigs of rosemary

2 tablespoons thyme, chopped

4 cups green peas, frozen

6 potatoes, medium size

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup almond milk

2 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Cook lentils according to bag instructions. In brief, for this amount of lentils you’ll need 4-6 cups of water that you need to bring to boil. Once the water is boiling add rinsed lentils in and simmer until lentils are done, which will take 20 to 25 minutes. Set cooked lentils aside.
  2. Peel and cube the potatoes. Put them in a large pot, and add the garlic cloves too. You don’t need to chop the garlic as it will soften during boiling and you will be able to mash it with potatoes. Cover the potatoes with water and bring to boil. Decrease the heat and boil until potatoes are cooked through. Take the pot of the heat, and let it cool off before mashing.
  3. Clean the mushrooms with a paper towel to remove any visible bits of dirt. Use a food processor to chop the mushrooms until they are about the same size as little bits of ground meat.
  4. Spray the bottom of a large frying pan with cooking spray and turn the heat on to medium high. Add onion,  carrots and celery. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add whole sprigs of rosemary and chopped thyme and stir everything together. Sauté for another 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Add chopped mushrooms, stir well and sauté until mushrooms are softened, which should not take longer than 5 minutes.
  7. Add frozen green peas, and mix everything together.  You can lower the heat or turn it completely off as all you need to do now is mix the pie filling until the peas thaw.
  8. Take rosemary sprigs out and discard. Some of the leaves will fall off and that’s OK. Remove as many as you can but leaving some in will help the flavor develop further.
  9. Add cooked lentils and mix everything together. Set aside.
  10. Preaheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).
  11. While the oven is preheating, mash the potatoes. To the pot of boiled potatoes that have been drained and cooked, add almond milk, olive oil and mash using a potato masher until the mashed potatoes are soft and smooth. You can always add more almond milk to get the consistency just right.
  12. Spay the bottom and the sides of a large baking dish with cooking spray. Pour the Shepherd’s Pie filling in and smooth out.
  13. Spoon the mashed potatoes over the top. Smooth out the mash and then using a fork create nooks and ridges. Spray the top with a bit more cooking spray and place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the potato topping is nice and browned.
  14. Serve with your favorite salad or even some vegan gravy. Trust me, this Shepherd’s Pie will leave you speechless!
  15. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Easy Breadfruit Curry

Easy Breadfruit Curry, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Easy Breadfruit Curry, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Breadfruit is not something that you can find in your local grocery store unless you live in one of the tropical countries where it’s been a staple food for millennia. Yet, it’s a fruit, or maybe I should say a vegetable, that has been taking the fancy of historians, writers, artists and the silver screen perhaps because of its poetic name, breadfruit, that suggest ability to pick your loaf of a branch! Or perhaps because it hails from exotic regions of our planet that one could reach only by taking an epic journey, like the one taken by the “Bounty“, a ship whose voyage and its mutiny is part of actual and the movie making history.

To be quite honest all my knowledge of breadfruit comes from watching different versions of the mutiny on the Bounty movies so I got quite excited when I saw it in my local Indian supermarket. I was looking for some frozen jackfruit and the breadfruit was right next to it. So I grabbed a bag and decided to give breadfruit a try!

Texture-wise, breadfruit is not unlike jackfruit, and they do belong to the same plant family. But, breadfruit is a bit softer, at least in my hands, and less chewy. It worked really well in this simple curry, and pairs really well with simple Basmati Rice.

The recipe is really simple and starts with frozen breadfruit, scallions (green onions), curry powder, green curry and turmeric, and finishes with some rich coconut cream. The dish comes together into a fragrant curry that tastes almost decadent.

Easy Breadfruit Curry

What you’ll need:

14 oz (400 g) bread fruit frozen

6 scallions (green onions)

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon green curry paste, like Thai Kitchen (or make your own)

13.5 oz (400 ml) coconut cream

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Spray a large pan with cooking spray and place over medium high heat.
  2. While the pan is heating up chop scallions, both white and green parts. Add to the pan and sauté for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the green curry paste, turmeric and curry powder. Mix everything together and sauté for another minute or two.
  4. Add the breadfruit. You can add it frozen or defrost in a microwave. Mix well, and let sauté for 10 minutes or so until breadfruit is soft, covered in spices and starts to brown.
  5. Pour in the coconut milk and deglaze the bottom, which means use your wooden spoon and coconut milk to lift all the brown bits of caramelized scallions and spices of the bottom of the pan and incorporate them into the sauce.
  6. Decrease the heat to low and let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
  7. Serve over rice, couscous or even polenta!!!
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Basic Pad Thai is a simple noodle dish, where wide rice noodles are mixed with eggs and chopped peanuts, then sprinkled with crushed red pepper flakes, lime juice and chopped scallions (green onions) and sometimes fresh cilantro. The whole dish comes together in five to ten minutes and can be eaten as is, or customized with a range of toppings so it is definitely a very popular dish found in every Thai restaurant.

Although it is relatively straightforward to find the right type of rice noodles that are typically used in Pad Thai, I decided to explore whether spaghetti squash would work. Spaghetti squash is a squash that, as the name suggests, has a stringy flesh structure that can be forked into a noodle-like structures. The texture of these noodles is softer than the regular pasta, and they are usually shorter but the flavor is rich and delicious, and the nutritional facts are definitely on the side of the squash when compared to either rice noodles that one would use in Pad Thai or any other pasta.

One down side to using spaghetti squash in a recipe like Pad Thai is that squash needs to be roasted first, which means that a five to ten minute recipe all of a sudden becomes a sixty to ninety minute recipe. Still, I recommend you give it a try especially as the hands on time is not as intense.

Are there any tricks to spaghetti squash? No, not really. The only two tips that are worth mentioning is to roast the squash cut side down on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and to let the roasted squash cool as it will help with handling the squash as well help the squash noodles come out better defined.

To make this into vegan Pad Thai, I recommend using extra firm tofu instead of eggs. You don’t need to press it, but do let it drain for just a bit. Otherwise it may make your Pad Thai too mushy.

One final modification to the traditional Pad Thai recipe I made is using peanut butter in the sauce and some chopped cashews for the topping. Reason for this? I ran out of peanuts!

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

What you’ll need:

1 medium spaghetti squash, 1 to 1.5 lbs (about 500 to 700 g)

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons lime juice

14 oz. (400 g) extra firm tofu

7 scallions (green onions), finely sliced

1/3 cup cashews, chopped

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash the spaghetti squash, wipe dry and cut in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to clean out the seeds.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place spaghetti squash on the parchment paper, cut side down. Place in the oven and let roast for 25 to 30 minutes. Check with a knife and it goes in without resistance your squash is done. Take it our of the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Be patient because the squash needs to be cool to handle.
  4. Once cool, take half of the squash, flip over and using a large fork go in and pull the flesh to make the “spaghetti”.
  5. Spray the bottom of a large pan or wok with cooking spray and place it over medium-high heat. Add garlic and let the garlic aroma develop, which will take about 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add soy sauce and peanut butter. Stir well and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add spaghetti squash and mix with the sauce. Here, I recommend using a pair of tongs to gently fold the squash into the sauce. Once the two are well incorporated add tofu that you have crumbled to small bits that look like scrambled eggs.
  8. Mix everything well together and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  9. Turn the heat off, add the lime juice, scallions and cashews.
  10. If you like to add some heat you can use crushed red pepper flakes, or a dash of sriracha sauce. You can also top with fresh cilantro for some added freshness.
  11. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous

Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous
Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Sometimes you need to throw together couple of ingredients you have on hand and have the meal ready in a blink of an eye. This recipe is your one way ticket to a no fuss meal that is filling and satisfying. When it comes to easy and hands-off cooking nothing comes even remotely close to couscous. I’ve been making couscous for years and all you need to remember is to 1:2 ratio – 1 cup couscous plus 2 cups of boiling water – and to keep your lid on and your hand off.

Basically, once you pour your boiling water over the couscous and give it one gentle stir, all you need to do is put the lid on and let the couscous sit for 15-30 minutes. For best results use a fork to fluff the couscous up and that’s it – a delicious base for your meal is done!

The rest is very straightforward. The eggplant needs to be chopped into good size, 1 x 1 in (2.5 x 2.5 cm), cubes and mushrooms need to be quartered. The cooking begins with browning onions, then adding eggplant and letting it brown for a bit, adding mushrooms and sprinkling some corn starch to bind everything together, especially mushrooms that tend to release a lot of liquid. Another important thing to do is deglaze the pot as a lot of great caramelized flavor will be stuck to the bottom of your pan. Here, just a little bit of vegetable stock will help.

Mushroom and Eggplant Stew
Mushroom and Eggplant Stew, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Mushroom and Eggplant Couscous

What you’ll need:

2 medium eggplants, cubed

2 10 oz. (284g) white button mushrooms, quartered

1 yellow onion, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

6 scallions, diced

3 tablespoons corn starch

1/2 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dry thyme

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Prepare couscous according to the box instructions, usually by mixing 1 cup of couscous with 2 cups of boiling water, putting the lid on the container and letting couscous soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
  2. Spray the bottom and the sides of a large Dutch oven or another heavy pot with a good lid with cooking spray. Turn the heat to medium high, add diced onions and scallions and brown for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or so, letting the garlic release its aroma.
  4. Add eggplant and let it brown which will take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the size of your pot.
  5. Lower heat to medium, and add mushrooms, corn starch and thyme. Sauté for 5-8 minutes. You want your mushrooms to be soft.
  6. Use the vegetable stock to deglaze the bottom of your pot and let everything cook for 5-10 minutes more, covered.
  7. Fluff the couscous with a fork, then plate the couscous and spread the mushroom and eggplant stew on top. Sprinkle with fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley, and enjoy!
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017