Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios

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

Like a fabulous supporting actor in a movie, the perfect side dish for a rich, holiday meal is subtle and complementary to the lead actors laid out on the festive table, yet able to make a lasting impression of its own.

This Holiday Quinoa with Cranberries and Pistachios is just that – visually pleasing, with layers of complexity in terms of texture and flavors, yet not overwhelming. Additionally, for anyone putting together a vegan, fully plant-based feast this side dish will add lots of protein to your plate.

Quinoa, just in case you are not familiar with it, is a grain, not a cereal, like wheat, but more like rice, and you would cook it like rice as well. When cooked it actually looks like couscous, and you will need to fork it up the same way. Although quinoa is fine served by itself, given that we are in the midst of fall/winter holiday season I decided to add just a bit to it, by adding some chopped pistachios and some oven-roasted cranberries.

One note on cranberries: fresh cranberries are very tart, and almost impossible to eat without adding a huge amount of sugar to them. I decided to try roasting and that worked to a point. Roasted cranberries are still tart, but a bit of tartness in this dish is actually a nice thing. If you prefer something with less bite, toss your cranberries with some sugar or a sweetener of choice, or simply chop some dried cranberries up – those are most certainly sweet.

Quinoa with Roasted Cranberries and Pistachios

What you’ll need:

1 cup quinoa

1 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

1 shallot, finely diced

1 cup pistachios, chopped

1 1/2 cup fresh cranberries – this will yield about 3/4 cup roasted

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash and sort the cranberries. Place them on a baking sheet lined with foil and roast them for 20-25 minutes. Once soft and slightly browned, take the cranberries out the oven and set aside to cool for a bit.
  3. While cranberries are roasting, cook your quinoa. Mix 1 cup quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water, bring to boil, decrease the heat to a gentle simmer and let quinoa cook for about 20 minutes. Turn the heat off and let quinoa stand for another 10 minutes. Use the fork to fluff up quinoa before using in the next step.
  4. Spray the bottom of a skillet with some cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add finely chopped shallots and let them sauté for 5-8 minutes.
  5. Once shallots are done, add chopped pistachios and let them toast just slightly, for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Add the fluffed up quinoa, mix well, and sauté for 5 more minutes or so.
  7. Turn the heat off and mix in the roasted cranberries. Go gently as they will be very soft and falling apart.
  8. Serve warm, and enjoy with some White Wine Gravy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

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Spiralized Oven Fries

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

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

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

Spiralized Oven Fries

What you’ll need:

4 medium baking potatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground crushed red pepper flakes

Salt (optional)

Cooking spray, or olive oil

What you’ll do:

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

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

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

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

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

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


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

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

Mexican Stuffed Mushrooms

What you’ll need:

28 oz (680 g) large stuffing mushrooms

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

3 tablespoon chives, finely chopped

1/2 large yellow onion, chopped

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

3 corn tortillas, cut into small chunks

1/2 cup salsa, divided

1/2 cup shredded cheese, divided

Fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

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