Impossible Dinner

I call this dinner Impossible because it does not seem like any of it could possibly go together. Or have a theme. Or some sort of ethnic origin. The flavors here are so strange to me, yet, yet…it works. How could mushrooms and jalapeños go together? Am I just short-sighted on this one? And cherry tomatoes? And you serve it with beans? Um, okay.

I guess it’s the coriander seed that links it all together. There’s coriander in the Unrefried Beans, and in the tomatoes and mushrooms. And I deviated from the original recipe in Appetite for Reduction (which is what the earlier link sorta leads you to) by tossing in corn. I did that for two reasons: 1. Half of my mushrooms had gone bad, 2. I needed a little more protein in this dish. It works, so you can try it, too, if you like. Also, I think the recipe might be a little off, since it doesn’t actually tell you what stage to put the lime juice in. So, I just left it out. I didn’t want to chop and juice a lime tonight anyway. I think if I put a little green chili hot sauce on it, I wouldn’t even miss the lime at all.

I do loooooove this bean recipe, though. I don’t even like to mash them up very much, it gives you more of that texas beans n’ sauce dealy that I love so much. I don’t know that this combo will become a staple in our household, but it’s always nice to eat outside the box.

 

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Anasazi Bowl!

I love Anasazi beans. I know I’ve mentioned that before, but it needs to be said again. GREATEST BEAN EVER. I also didn’t realize that you don’t need to soak them–which makes sense, because I do soak them, and they cook in half the time of normal beans. They are like pinto beans, but better, with a stronger flavor and a very tender texture. I can’t get enough of these beans! And luckily they are sold in stores where I live, but they are completely worth ordering online, just to try them. I sort of want to do a road trip out to Dove Creek, Colorado, for some bean tourism.

So this bowl features the best beans in the world, but it also has brown rice, crispy summer squash (slice thin, spray with oil, bake at 425 for 30 mins), and homemade salsa.

Do you love homemade salsa? Me, too. Here’s how I make mine:

Homemade Salsa (makes about 2 cups):

  • 4 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro

Put all the ingredients in your food processor, and pulse it a few times. Not too much! You still want it to be a little chunky. If you don’t have a processor or blender, that’s fine, just chop everything up as small as you can, and mix it together in a bowl. It’ll taste the same, but the consistency won’t be as saucy. Don’t worry! Also, let your salsa chill out in the fridge for a while for the best flavor.

I was thinking of other items that would be good in this bowl: corn, marinated carrots & jalapeños, jicama and sweet potatoes all come to mind.  And most definitely a little avocado. We’ve had really bad luck with avocados lately, so I didn’t feel like spending $2 to see if we’d get something tasty or some gray-black mush. Ew!

I like it this way, though, with squash and beans just like the Anasazi would have eaten it! Though consuming dinner in a cliff-dwelling you carved yourself might make it taste even better.

Basil Bowl

Pesto Bowl? AMAZE-O BOWL? Who knows.

This was so, so delicious. And I feel extra proud, because it was sorta my own invention. Taking the formula (and edamame pesto recipe) from Appetite for Reduction, I have created my own spectacular bowl!

Here are the steps:

  1. Make corn grits/polenta. I use Bob’s Red Mill!
  2. Make the edamame pesto from AfR
  3. Add 1 can, or 2 cups, of navy beans
  4. Roast cauliflower and cherry tomatoes in a 400 degree oven for 30 mins
  5. Toast 2 T of pine nuts (or burn them, gently, like I did)
  6. Assemble bowl
  7. Eat bowl
  8. Love bowl

Just note, the texture is a little on the mushy side. I’ve been trying to think of an addition that would combat that, but so far haven’t thought up anything. Ideas?

 

VegNews Mac & Cheese…tested, and happily, approved!

I must be the only person on the planet who craves mac & cheese in 90 degree weather. With 100% humidity. Thanks, Kansas. Also, if you were wondering, my hair DOES look frizzy. So if you see me out on the street, just avert your eyes.

Anyway, I was interested in trying VegNew’s “best mac & cheese on the planet” because it’s nutritional yeast-free, even though I love the nooch and I’m always happy to have it in my life. Also, I was stubbornly confused about how potatoes, carrots, onions and cashews would make anything that looked passably like cheese. And you know what? THEY DO. This is the BEST faux mac I’ve had (not like I’ve had a ton, but still). I really like my Spicy Mac, but this is a pleasantly simple dish, for when you are craving mac and cheese in it’s purest form.

Notice the bread crumbs? I thought there were way too many, but it ended up tasting just right. Also, look a little closer…closer…yes…those are homemade crumbs! From homemade bread! *Pats self on back*

I think I’d be misleading you if I didn’t say that this dish is high in fat. It calls for a whopping 7 tablespoons of margarine, which equals about 80 grams of fat. UGH. Even when you split it into 8 portions like I did, it’s still a lot for the portion-size. And when I cooked it, I took about 3 tablespoons out (one from the breadcrumbs, two from the sauce). I think I could probably take even more out of the sauce by pureeing some white beans in with the veggies. I’d like to get this down to two or three tablespoons total, so I could eat a larger portion and not feel that heavy greasy ache in my stomach. Do you get that, too?

Despite the whopping fat content, this recipe is definitely a keeper, and will be on heavy rotation when fall and winter come. I’ll probably serve it then with some sweet potatoes, squash, or sauteed spinach. OOH! I can’t wait!

 

Chickpea Piccata

The first time I made this, it was terrible. I can’t even describe to you the disappointing flavors of sadness we experienced. However, that was the very first week I had Appetite for Reduction, and had NO idea what cooking vegan was all about. It’s amazing what I’ve learned in the three months I’ve been using that cookbook. Being a vegan has literally taught me how to cook all over again, and I’m much, much better than before.

As you can see, I’ve made some subs on this dish: the grocery store had no shallots (how is that even possible?), so I used a vidalia onion. I figured the sweetness would translate sort of like shallots do, though it’s less classy. And I used spinach instead of arugula. I don’t know why I dislike it so much, but I cannot handle arugula. Blech! I think I’m against any sort of bitter flavors, except I love dark chocolate. So, who knows?

I also didn’t put it over potatoes the first time, which is a giant mistake. I made caulipots (cauliflower+potatoes), but I made the recipe my own way. I baked the potato and roasted the cauliflower, and after adding the olive oil and broth, I put in about 1/2 a cup of unsweetened almond milk. Consider that only adds about 15 calories to the WHOLE thing, and maybe .5 grams of fat, I’m not worried about it losing it’s health-food-potato-status. And it really made the dish creamy, which it desperately needed. Those potatoes were DRY. But had more nutrients!

Anyway, it came out perfect. And it made me feel like a human giant.

 

Spicy Mac!

This dish is, for me, what hot dish is for Minnesotans. My mom’s recipe for “Mexican Mac & Cheese” is one of the most comforting foods that I know. And as a vegan, I can’t exactly pound down the sour cream and cheese sauce like I used to. This recipe was high on my list for veganization, and I’m proud to report that it turned out perfect. It wasn’t one of those situations were it tasted “almost the same” or “sorta all right” but rather tasted virtually exactly the same as the original. Even my picky omni husband thought it was a pretty perfect rendition. So, enjoy!

Spicy Mac (serves 4 to 6):

  • 8 oz shell pasta (I used brown rice pasta, because it’s what I had)
  • 1&1/2 cup pinto beans (I used anasazi beans–if you can find them, they are the best beans EVER)–oh, and PS–if you’re using a can of beans, just use the whole can.
  • 15 oz can Ro-tel
  • 7 oz can of green chilies
  • 1 small onion plus 2 T, diced
  • 1 small bag of frozen peas, carrots & corn
  • 2 tsp Tapatio (it’s like Tabasco sauce, but awesomer)
  • 1/2 recipe for Easy Breezy Cheezy Sauce from Appetite for Reduction
  • 1/3 cup shredded vegan cheese
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews (drained after being soaked in water for an hour)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro
  • 1 T red wine vinegar

First, start the water boiling for your noodles. Then, prepare the cheezy sauce. Once the water is boiling, put the noodles in and cook until almost al dente. You want them to still be a little stiff, or they turn to mush in the casserole. Now, in a large bowl, mix the small onion (without the extra 2 T, you’ll use that later), beans, Ro-tel, green chilies & frozen veggies together. Add the noodles, stir, and then add the cheese sauce. When everything is nicely coated in sauce, add the Tapatio. Put the mixture in a 13×9 (or smaller, just adjust cooking time) casserole dish, top with shredded cheese, and bake for 30-40 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

While your delicious casserole is baking, make the cilantro-cashew cream topping (adapted from Vegan Brunch). This is so easy! Simply take the cashews, 2 T of onion (told you!), cilantro, red wine vinegar & water and mix in a food processor for anywhere from 2-5 minutes. You just want everything to be nicely smooth, with no chunks of nuts at all. If your food processor is like mine, the cashew cream will never come completely smooth. It’ll still taste pretty great, though. After blending, put the cream in the fridge to cool down.

When your casserole is done, take out of the oven and let it rest for a few minutes. You don’t want to burn your face on hot noodles. When serving, remember to put about a tablespoon of cilantro cashew cream on top of each, and you can always put on as much Tapatio as your heart desires.

Seitan and Cabbage? Inconceivable!

Inconceivable! You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. 

But really, from the outside this dinner seems like it would taste weird. Like some sort of vegan nightmare of seitan, cabbage, and brown rice. I think it’s what omni’s fear that vegan eating is like. And even as I’m assembling it (and I’ve made this dish over and over), I think to myself–this can’t possibly taste good? Right? Braised cabbage?

But it does! IT DOES. This is one of my favorite recipes from Appetite for Reduction. I can’t get enough of it. And it is so incredibly simple, and is made up of just a handful of super simple ingredients. How is it possible? HOW?

Inconceivable!