September 2, 2011
I never order lettuce wraps because lots of cheapskate restaurants think iceberg counts as lettuce — and I don’t really relish the idea of something like that falling apart. Here are some “lettuce” wraps I make using Swiss Chard, which is somewhere between baby spinach and bok choy. Like other dark, leafy greens, chard gives the most nutrients if you wilt it before eating, but raw it has a great texture and just enough strength to hold a small amount of vegetables easily.
Quick “Lettuce” Wraps
PER wrap (2 wraps are a light lunch for 1 average-sized female):
- 1 leaf of fresh raw Swiss Chard, washed, shaken out, and halved lengthwise along the spine
- 1 Tbsp cream cheese, softened
- 1-2 Tbsp spicy hummus (see below)
- About 2 Tbsp (or 1/6 of 1 large) carrot, shaved in thin strips using a vegetable peeler or chopped super thin
- 1/2 tomato, chopped fairly small (the chard is thick, so it’s ok if this looks a little wet)
- optional items: sliced olives; 1 very-thin slice red onion or sweet yellow onion; small pinch of black pepper
Spread cheese and hummus halfway along chard leaf. Arrange veggies on top. Roll inward, from leaf edge toward leaf spine. Optional: affix wrap to itself with a toothpick and an olive.
1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 can uncooked or pre-cooked black beans (I use the Cuban style ones from Trader Joe’s)
1/4+ c sunflower butter
1/4 c olive oil
1/8 c fresh lemon juice
1/8 – 1/4 c light vinegar such as rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or both together
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
1/2 – 1 tsp chili powder
1/2 – 1 tsp cumin
1/2 – 1 tsp Mexican hot sauce
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse, scraping frequently, until fully combined.
As necessary, while mixing:
Add in up to 1/8 cup water – adjust until hummus reaches preferred texture.
Add salt and extra garlic, lemon juice, vinegar and spices to taste. Note: the garlic and hot sauce can increase slightly in spiciness as the hummus is stored in the fridge, so do not start out overwhelmingly spicy.
March 28, 2011
It’s been raining a lot, so my vegan-for-a-few-weeks housemate Angel was in the mood for something like pea soup, but Cajun-ish. This rich gumbo-style soup is what she put together:
Angel’s Rainy-Day Cajun Style Vegan Bean & Vegetable Soup:
makes: a LOT
- 1 bag (1lb) dried black-eyed peas
- 4 cans vegetable broth +2 cans water
- 2 cubes vegan bouillon
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 can corn (or 2 c normal corn)
- 1 can stewed tomatoes (or 2 c chopped tomatoes)
- 8 carrots, chopped
- 6-8 celery ribs, chopped
- 1 white onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 to 1 whole bunch fresh parsley, removed from the stems and minced
- “lots” of cayenne and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbsp hickory “liquid smoke” flavoring, to taste (find this near the barbecue sauce)
- 1 “Field Roast” vegan Italian sausage (or 4-5 Yves Italian “sausages”), chopped
Soak beans overnight (or place them and water-per-package-directions in a pot, bring to a boil, cover, and set aside for 40-60 min). Rinse out cooled beans, replace in pot with vegetable broth + water, bay leaf, boillon, carrots, celery, corn, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer 20-30 minutes, until beans are noticeably soft but not mush. Meanwhile, saute onion in oil.
Remove bay leaves and mix into pot o’ beans: onion, parsley, peppers, liquid smoke, and “sausage.” Simmer another 15 minutes. Serve with steamed brown rice and / or fresh cornbread.
December 2, 2010
Marinades easily, simply, & brilliantly get tofu to “pop” with flavor. If you get the marinade going ahead of time, they’re also fast.
Squeeze or drain the tofu very well beforehand, slice it (see below), put in a watertight lunch container with the marinade ingredients, and refrigerate for 1/2 hour or more (1 hour is better), shaking or turning upside-down every 15-30 min (you can even open the container up and rearrange things to help ensure maximum absorption).
To pan-sear: Cut tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and marinade. Once marinaded, arrange, sans oil, in your favorite super-nonstick, tofu-friendly pan and sear each side until firm and crunchy (should be the color of medium to well-done toast, but not burnt).
To bake: Preheat oven to 400° F. Cut tofu into 1/2 slices, then slice crosswise into strips 1/4 to 3/8 inches wide and 2 to 3 inches long. Prick on both sides with a fork, marinade, then place in a nonstick or lightly-oiled baking sheet, reserving any unabsorbed marinade if serving tofu on its own. Cover sheet with parchment paper or foil and bake 30-45+ minutes (depending on how dry you want it), turning ever 15 min or so. If serving tofu on its own, after baking, add back the reserved liquid and test seasoning to add more sauce or herbs as necessary.
- Timing: I like to put together the marinade before going out on a run or hike; after I’ve cleaned up, the tofu is ready to cook for an easy dinner, along with rice (or pasta) and a salad.
- Tofu: I like Trader Joe’s firm tofu because it’s in 2 containers for easy halving and is more amicable to getting the juice REALLY pressed out of it. For Azumaya tofu I cut out the top label along the inner edge of the tofu container, then use the plastic to press the tofu down while I squeeze from the sides. Instead of squeezing, the tofu-wary &/or faint of heart can just slice the tofu and put it between two plates, bottom plate tilted to drain, with some books on top (takes longer, though).
- Meat Eaters: Most of these are equally superb with tofu or chicken, but if you’re going with real meat, cut the soy sauce down by half, add another tablespoon of oil, and marinade overnight or up to 3 days, depending on how juicy and tender you want the results to be. For longer-marinaded items slated for the barbecue, be careful not to cook at too high a heat, or the juicy middles will stay undercooked while the outsides burn. Easy solution: halve breasts lengthwise-flatwise before marinading. Obviously, always discard marinade used for meat; never use it for anything afterward. If you need additional marinade, make a separate batch that won’t touch the raw stuff.
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September 17, 2010
This is one of my favorite things to eat. For some reason it’s really filling even though it’s not a lot of food. It’s really quick (about 10 minutes) and pretty refreshing. It’s a really good method for cooking asparagus spears as a side, but I like to add the cabbage, onion and tomato for a meal.
- 4-5 asparagus spears
- 1/2 – 1 cup chopped cabbage
- about 1/8 cup minced red onion
- about 1/4-1/2-8 cups tomato*
- red pepper flakes or pickle masala or something spicy**
- 1/2 a lemon
- about 1 tbls olive oil
*just kidding about the 8 cups. It’s really however much tomato you want. I use 1/2 – 1 roma tomato, so probably 1/2 a cluster tomato or like 1/4 hydrophonic tomato or whatever those huge, tasteless ones are called.
**red pepper flakes work fine, but I bought a bag of pickle masala at an Indo-Paki store and I’ve been using it in place of chili powder and red pepper flakes because it’s delicious and spicy and different. There are no ingredients on the bag, so I dunno what it is. Lots of chilis and probably turmeric and so on.
1. Heat the oil at about a medium.
2. Break off the bottoms of the asparagus spears. Just pull at an angle and all the hard part will break off so you don’t have to guess where to cut. Chop up everything.
3. Once the oil is hot, put in the asparagus and roll it around to coat it in the oil. Add the onions then the cabbage***. Grind up some salt and pepper and add whatever spicy spice you’re using, unless it’s the red pepper flakes.
4. Sauté everything for about 5 minutes, turning the asparagus occasionally. You don’t want to overcook anything, but you want your asparagus a little soft. Or anyway, that’s how I want it.
5. Once it’s done, put it on your plate. If you’re using them, sprinkle the red pepper flakes on top of everything. Squeeze the lemon over it all and add the tomato. Enjoy :) .
(Another variation is salt, pepper and sesame seeds.)
***I do it in this order because I want the asparagus touching the pan. I also want the onions touching the pan, but they can fall where they please once the spears are in the pan. The cabbage is fine if it doesn’t cook all the way through.