Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Lettuce Wraps W/Spiced Tofu

Lettuce Wraps W/Spiced Tofu are irresistible and make a lovely light meal or starter. The fresh crisp lettuce and pickled vegetable topping add freshness to the slightly sweet but savory filling. Be warned - one taste and you'd want to make a meal of the wraps!

Lettuce Wraps with Spiced Tofu
Notes:
The tofu filling, pickled carrots and daikon, and the lettuce wraps maybe prepared a day ahead and the filling reheated before serving.
While any regular mushrooms maybe used, fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms are lovely. If using dried shiitake, soak in a little water for about 20 minutes to soften.
I use cauliflower rice (chopped cauliflower) as I don't always have access to water chestnuts.
1/3 cup Hoisin Sauce maybe used instead of the cooking sauce; please be sure to check the ingredients in the sauce as not all hoisin sauces are gluten free. 

Picked Carrots & Daikon Radish
1 large Carrot, cut in fine match sticks
1 medium Daikon Radish, cut in fine match sticks
1 pinch Salt
2 Tbsp Seasoned Rice Vinegar


Filling:

Cooking sauce
1 Tbsp Cornstarch mixed with 2 Tbsp Water
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
2-3 Tbsp Tamari/Coconut Aminos/Soy Sauce (gf)
1-3 Tbsp Coconut Or Brown Sugar

Tofu
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1 block Firn or extra-firm Tofu, finely diced/shredded
1/2 cup Mushrooms, minced
1-2 Tbsp Ginger, grated
1 Serrano or Thai Chile, cored and minced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped
1 small Carrot, shredded
1/2 cup Water Chestnuts, chopped OR Cauliflower rice
2 Tbsp toasted Sesame seeds
1/2 cup Green Onions, thinly sliced

For Serving:
1-2 Heads Butter/Romaine lettuce
Cilantro sprigs
Green Onions, thinly sliced diagonally

METHOD:

Pickled Carrots & Daikon
Prepare the pickled carrots and daikon at least a couple of hours ahead of serving so that the veggies have a chance to marinate; they maybe prepared a day or two ahead. Combine the veggies, salt and vinegar in a container and mix well. Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve.

Lettuce Wraps
Separate the inner leaves of the lettuces carefully, wash and drain thorougly. This maybe done a day ahead and carefully stored in the fridge until needed.

Tofu Filling
Combine all the ingredients under cooking sauce in a bowl.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. 

Add the tofu, onion and ginger and cook for about 3-4 minutes stirring to keep things from sticking or burning. 

When tofu begins to brown a little, stir in the mushrooms, chile, bell pepper, garlic, carrot, water chestnuts, and the cooking sauce; cook until all the liquids evaporate or are absorbed - abouit 3-4 minutes or so. 

Remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sesame seeds, cilantro and green onions. 

Taste and adjust the seasonings. If made ahead, cool and chill. Reheat until warm just before serving.

Assembly
Place about 1-2 Tbsp of the warm filling on the leaves, sprinkle with cilantro and green onions. 

Pass the bowl of pickled carrots and daikon to top the wraps as desired.

Eat right away while the lettuce is crisp and the filling warm.

Enjoy!!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Everyday Lentil Soup

We love all things lentils and this Everyday Lentil Soup is a favorite! Lentil soup can serve as a main dish, light meal/snack, or starter. This luscious soup enriched with the trio of onions, garlic, and carrots can stand alone or served with grains or bread. According to Hema, this soup is based on Mauritian recipe where Indian and local ingredients are combined to produce the unique dishes reminiscent of Indian cuisine.

The soup begins with preparing a flavorful basic seasoning of toasted cumin seeds, onions and garlic common to most dals along with carrots which add color, texture, and sweetness plus tomato for a little tang. I like to cook the lentils by themselves and add them to the soup after the seasonings are ready. Then the soup is simmered with fragrant thyme and finished with a sprinkle of parsley or cilantro. 

Leftovers are fabulous for about a week in the fridge or maybe frozen for up to 3 months. Or, turn the delicious leftovers into a yummy casserole: stir the soup into cooked grains and bake under a light blanket of your favorite vegan cheese and/or a sprinkle of seasoned regular/gluten-free bread or cracker crumbs until heated through and the crumbs are golden and crisp.


Notes: 

Parsnips maybe subbed for some or all of the carrots. Celery is another great addition. 

8 Servings

Ingredients:

2 cups Lentils, soaked for 30 minutes and rinsed
1 medium Onion, finely diced
1 large Carrot, finely diced
2-3 cloves Garlic, minced
Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper, to taste
1 or 2 Tomatoes, diced
2-3 Tbsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped (or 1-2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/8 - 1/2 tsp Cayenne 
4-5 cups water or as needed
1 large handful Flatleaf Parsley/Cilantro, finely chopped
Lime/Lemon wedges to serve (optional)

Directions:

Sort, rinse and soak the lentils in lots of water to cover for 30 to 60 minutes. Drain soaking water and rinse.

Cook the lentils until quite tender in enough fresh water to cover. Cooking maybe done using a regular pot, a pressure cooker or an instant pot. Lentils maybe cooked a day or two ahead and reserved in the fridge until ready to prepare the soup.

Heat a large pot over medium heat. 

Add  the cumin seeds, and when they begin to change color and begin to be fragrant, add onion with a pinch of salt, and cook covered until soft but not browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes over low heat. Sprinkle a little water if the onions dry out.

Stir in the garlic and carrot and cook covered, stirring occasionally for a few seconds.

Add the tomato into the onion mixture and cook for a minute or two, stirring well until hot and well mixed.

Add the thyme, turmeric, and cayenne if using, cooked lentils with the cooking broth, salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Stir in extra boiling water as needed to get the right consistency. Bring the soup to a boil. 

When the soup comes a boil, lower the heat, and simmer partially covered for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally. 

Turn off the heat, stir in the parsley, cover, and let rest for 5-10 minutes. 

Taste the soup and add more seasonings if needed. Add the parsley or cilantro.

Serve hot by itself or over freshly cooked rice or other grains and pass lemon wedges if desired.

Enjoy!!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Light & Easy Buckwheat Pancakes With Strawberry Coulis

These Buckwheat Pancakes With Strawberry Coulis are light and easy; they are naturally dairy, gluten and oil free! These delicious buckwheat pancakes make any breakfast truly special. This great tasting recipe is perfect for a special occasion breakfast or brunch for company as well as the family.

NOTES:

Purchased or homemade buckwheat flour maybe used. 

Depending on the amount of liquid added to the batter, the pancakes maybe thick or thin; if thick they maybe served in a stack. If made thin, they maybe rolled up with the coulis inside. The pancakes taste absolutely fabulous either way. 

Apples, pears, bananas, or blueberries maybe added to the batter just before preparing the pancakes. Instead of the strawberries, other fruit maybe prepared as a coulis.

Leftover pancakes maybe stored in the fridge or frozen for longer storage. Pancakes maybe reheated in the skillet or oven.

Buckwheat pancakes 
About 12 pancakes
3-4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Coulis:
2 cups Straberries
2-3 Tbsp Maple Sugar/Syrup
1 pinch Sea Salt
1 squeeze Lemon juice (1 tsp)

Pancakes:
1 1/2 cups Buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp ground Flax seeds
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1 Tbsp Lemon juice
1 -2 cups unsweetened Nondairy Milk 
1 tsp Vanilla extract
3 tbsp Coconut Sugar/Maple syrup

Powdered sugar for serving
Maple Syrup for serving

DIRECTIONS:

Coulis: 

Wash and drain the strawberries. Reserve a few for garnishing. Dice the rest of the berries and place them in a bowl. Mash slightly with a fork and stir in the salt, maple sugar/syrup and lemon. Mix well and reserve.

Pancakes:

Whisk together the lemon juice, 1 cup of milk, vanilla and coconut sugar or maple syrup in a bowl. Set aside.

Combine the flour, flax seeds, baking powder, salt and cinnamon together in a mixing bowl. 

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir together just until combined adding the rest of the milk as needed to get a thick but pourable batter. Let the batter rest for about 10-15 minutes. If batter is very thick, a little more milk or water maybe added.

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet with a little oil using a paper towel. Heat the skillet over medium heat.

Prepare pancakes by pouring about 1/4 cup of the batter into the skillet; you can quickly spread the batter gently in a swirling motion with the back of  a spoon to desired thickness.

Cook until bubbles appear and burst all over each pancake and the edges lift up slightly. Flip the pancakes and cook for another minute. Remove the pancake from skillet and place on platter.

Continue cooking the pancakes until all the batter is used stacking the pancakes as they are cooked.

Serve the pancakes hot with some of the coulis on top. Dust with powdered sugar. Drizzle a little maple syrup over the pancakes.

Enjoy!!

Friday, April 17, 2020

Mushroom Fazzoletti With Soft Creamy Polenta

Mushroom Fazzoletti is delicious over polenta, pasta, toast, or other grains. This recipe is my recreation of a lovely dish made with trumpet mushrooms we enjoyed in a lovely vegan restaurant in Washington DC. Although it is delicious served over any pasta or purchased/homemade regular polenta, we particularly enjoy it served over soft creamy polenta. I make the polenta in the Instant Pot which makes it a breeze to have everything ready in record time without undue attention or stirring; plenta could be made in a regular pressure cooker as well.

While the commonly available mushrooms work fine, other flavorful mushrooms would be awsome additions if you can get them. Fresh herbs and tomatoes are important for Fazzoletti, as they lend a more delicate flavor than dried or canned.

If you are serving over pasta, you can use the water in which it was cooked as needed to finish the sauce for a velvety finish.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

Fazzoletti:
2 lbs Mushrooms - Baby Bella, Cremini, etc thinly sliced
2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves fresh Garlic, minced
1 cup fresh Basil Leaves, chopped finely
Salt and Freshly ground Pepper
1 cup Vegetable Stock (or purchased)
2 heaping cups Grape, Cherry or Plum Tomatoes, diced

Soft Creamy Polenta  1 recipe to Serve
1/4 cup Vegan Parmesan or Toasted coarsely ground Almonds
Basil sprigs for garnish

METHOD:

Prepare the polenta and keep warm. 

Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic and stir for about 30-40 seconds. 

Stir in the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and pepper; they will exude a lot of moisture. Keep cooking until the juices evaporate and the mushrooms start to brown a little.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook for a few minutes until they soften and get juicy. 

Stir in the basil and the veggie stock and cook until hot. Add a little water (or pasta water if making pasta) as needed so that the mushrooms are coated and there is some sauce.

Divide the hot polenta among 4 wide bowls and top each the mushroom fazzoletti.

Sprinkle the vegan Parmesan or toasted Almonds and garnish with the basil.

Serve immediately. 

Enjoy!!



Sunday, April 12, 2020

Stress-free Soft Creamy Polenta

Soft Creamy Polenta is very similar to soft Indian Upma and one of the untlimate comfort foods! Instead of slaving over the stove trying to stir the thickening polenta which bubbles and spits blobs of boiling hot stuff everywhere including the chef, just pop it in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker and... Et Viola! Delicious Polenta without stress!

Baked polenta is an alternative to this recipe; it works well but requires 1.5 hours of baking time and needs a little more oversight. 

Top warm polenta with your favorite Indian curries or Italian ragus and you will have a sumptuous dinner. Try Pepperonata, Mushroom Ragu or Borlotti Bolognese over piping hot creamy polenta for a hearty warming meal.

NOTES:

Adjust the amount of water to make the polenta firmer or softer.

The cooked polenta solidifies when cold. It maybe warmed with a small amount of water or sliced and pan-toasted and served with your favorite toppings.

Fresh or reheated polenta sprinkled with sweet spices, toasted nuts, and fresh or dried fruit makes a fantastic breakfast/brunch treat.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup dry Polenta (coarse cornmeal)
1 tsp Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
3-4 cups boiling water
3-4 Tbsp Fresh Herbs (Sage and Basil)
2 Tbsp Vegan Butter Sub or Olive Oil (optional)
2-4 oz Vegan Parmesan (optional)

METHOD:

Place polenta in the Instant Pot bowl. Add salt and a generous amount of pepper. 

Stir in the boiling water and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Follow manufacturer's directions to cook the polenta for 9 minutes at high pressure in the Instant Pot. When timer goes off, allow the pressure to decrease naturally and completely before opening. Alternately, use a regular pressure cooker for 9 minutes after pressurizing according to manufacturer's directions. 

Stir in the fresh herbs and any of the optional ingredients into the hot polenta. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Serve hot with additional pepper and your favorite toppings of stews or sauces.

Enjoy!!

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Southwest Kale Salad With Spicy Chickpeas & Lime Dressing

Delicious Southwest Kale Salad is one of our favorite daily salads; so full of hearty ingredients, one can make a meal of it! Love Kale salads; there are so many ways to enjoy the lovely silky kale and here's one that we enjoy.

When massaged gently for a few moments, kale becomes silky, soft, and eminently edible.The massaging with a couple of drops of oil and salt tames the rough unruly kale into sweet and demure.

Notes:

Please do save the stems from kale; they are delicious stir-cooked simply or with a bit of coconut as a Thoran. The stems maybe added to soups or stews also.

The spicy chickpeas and tortilla strips maybe prepared a day ahead and stored in the fridge until ready to use; but might need to be refreshed by stir cooking for a few minutes to crisp them up a bit.

The Spicy Chickpeas and tortilla strips maybe done on stove top; stir the chickpeas with the oil and a generous pinch of salt in a skillet. When the chickpeas are dry and start getting brown spots, stir in the seasoning mix. The procedure is the same for tortilla strips also. Any extra chickpeas/tortillas strips leftover make a nice topping for soups too - Sizzling Tortilla Soup, Fiesta Soup, Blackbean Soup, etc.

Instead of making the tortilla strips, crushed purchased chips maybe used.

Cooked black beans maybe substituted for the spicy chickpeas.

If you don't have the Mexican Seasoning Mix handy, use a purchased taco seasoning mix.

4 Servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 large bunch Kale
a few drops Extra Virgin Olive Oil for massaging Kale
2-3 leaves Romaine Lettuce, chopped
1/4 small Red Onion, thinly sliced
1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 Roma Tomato, diced
1/2 firm Pear/Apple or 1/4 small Jicama, diced
4 Tbsp Fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped

Toppings:
Lime Wedges for serving (optional)
1 Avocado, diced
1 Jalapeño, cored and thinly sliced (optional)
2 Corn on the cob, grilled OR 1 1/2 cups frozen Corn kernels
1 1/2 cups cooked Chickpeas
2 Corn Tortillas, cut into small pieces
1 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Mexican Seasoning Mix
Salt and Pepper

Dressing
1-2 Limes, Juiced
1 clove Garlic, mashed
1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1-2 tsp Mexican Seasoning Mix
Salt to taste

METHOD:

Heat the oven to 400 F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Drain the chickpeas thoroughly, blot dry. Place them in a bowl and add half the oil, a pinch of salt and half the Mexican seasonings.Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Put the tortilla strips in the same bowl, add the other half of the oil, a pinch of salt and half the Mexican seasonings.Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake the chickpeas and tortilla pieces stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes until browned a little and beginning to crisp. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan.

If using fresh corn, grill them or cut off the cobs and pan toast until flecked with a few brown spots. If using frozen, pan toast as fresh ones. Reserve.

Make the dressing; taste to adjust seasonings and reserve.

Strip of the leaves from the stems of kale and chop. Place them in a large bowl and drizzle a few drops of the Olive oil with a pinch of salt. Squeeze and mix with fingers until the kale has softened; this should take just a few seconds. Set aside.

When ready to serve, add the rest of the salad ingredients to the kale and mix well. Drizzle some of the dressing and mix well, taste and add more as needed.

Divide the salad into shallow bowls. Top with all the toppings and pass lime wedges if desired.

Enjoy!!


Pulled Broccoli Salad With Balsamic Dressing


Pulled Broccoli Salad is the brainchild of havng to figure out how to eat healthy with a few ingredients ready at hand. We all are trying to stay and eat healthy despite being in isolation and having to make do with available ingredients.

I had a couple of handfuls of kale, half a carrot, and some broccoli and a few other odds and ends. I was trying to create different ways of making and presenting salads to make them more interesting, delicious and nutritious. On a whim, I thought of just pulling off bits of the broccoli rather than chopping .... and I really liked the way they looked. Long story short, here's the Pulled Broc Salad!

Pulled Broccoli Salad is gluten/dairy free; it has barely much oil - only the few drops to massage the kale. It was really awesome - gorgeousl colors as well as tasty - was gobbled up in record time by a very appreciative family :).

Note: if the almond slices are raw, just heat them in a small pan and stir until lightly browned and toasted. Immediately pour them into a small bowl to prevent burning in the hot pan.

Please do save the Kale stems - they are delicious stir-cooked simply or in thoran like in Radish Greens Thoran. The stems maybe added to soups or stews also.

4 Servings

Ingredients:

Salad
2 medium Stalks Broccoli
1 small Bunch Kale, torn or chopped
a few drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil for massaging Kale
1 small bunch Arugula, sliced
1/2-1 Carrot, coarsely grated
3-4 Button Mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 Orange, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
3-4 Tbsp sliced Almonds, toasted
2-3 Tbsp Sun dried Tomatoes, not in oil

Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
2-3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
1 small clove Garlic, finely minced and mashed
1/2 small Shallot, finely minced
1 Tbsp Prepared Mustard
2-3  tsp Maple Syrup or Coconut Sugar (optional)

Method:

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or jar and mix well.Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Steam or microwave the broccoli  until bright green and barely tender; I microwaved them for 90 seconds and let cool. They maybe plunged into iced water if you like to keep the broc super crunchy. I did not put them in iced water and they were quite crunchy.

While broccoli is cooling, strip of the leaves from the stems of kale and chop or tear. Save the stems for thoran or a stir-fry. Place kale in a large bowl and add just a few drops of the oil - about 4-5 - along with a pinch of salt and squeeze them gently and keep turning them with your fingers for a about half a minute until all the leaves are shiny and softened.

Add all the other salad ingredients except the orange segments and almonds to the bowl.

When broccoli is cool, pull the florets into small bits and add to bowl. Cut the stems into small bits and add them to the bowl also.

Drizzle the dressing over the salad along with any juice collected from the orange. Mix well and divide among bowls.

Top with orange pieces and the toasted almonds.

Enjoy!!