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


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


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. 


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.


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


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)


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.


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.


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


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

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

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


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.


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


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)


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.


Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Potatoes/Yuca/Veggies With Vegan GF Huancaina Sauce

Vegan Huancaina Sauce, a lovely silky, creamy, and nicely but not overly spicy Peruvian sauce, is typically served over steamed potatoes. Yuca (aka cassava roots aka tapioca), Sweet Potatoes, and other vegetables are also delicious with the Huancaina sauce. Peruvians sometimes serve the sauce over french-fried potatoes or yuca. I love serving it over all sorts of veggies, steamed or roasted. The sauce and vegetables maybe prepared a day or two ahead. Store any leftovers to use later; the sauce will stay fresh for about 5-7 days..

This sauce is traditionally prepared with the wonderful a Peruvian yellow chile - aji amarillo; if it is available fresh or canned, add it instead of the Jalapeño and yellow bell pepper. Although usually not very spicy,  one can spice it up by adding more chiles or cayenne to taste.

The chickpeas and quinoa/ potatoes add body and silkiness to the sauce and the result is fabulous.

4 Servings


Huancaina Sauce:
½ cup raw cashews (soaked overnight)
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ -1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 clove Garlic
1 shallot or 1/2 small Onion, chopped
½ -1 Jalapeño Chile (or more, depending on your taste)
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup Cooked Chickpeas (Garbanzo)
½ cup cooked Potato/Quinoa, warm
1 cup unsweetened unflavored non-dairy milk or water 
¼ cup water (if needed)
Salt and pepper, to taste

To Serve:
2-4 regular Potatoes and/or 1-2 Yuca, cooked 
1 Sweet Potato, cooked
1-2 cups roasted Cauliflower Slabs

Optional Garnishes:
4 radishes
12 Kalamata Olives
3-4 handfuls Arugaula, Spinach, and/or baby Kale, or a mixture


Prepare the Huancaina Sauce: Cook the garlic, shallot, chile, and bell pepper until soft and slightly caramelized; cool. Drain and rinse the cashews. Process all the sauce ingredients using a good blender until smooth and silky; taste and add more of any ingredient necessary to get the right consistency and taste. The sauce should be thick to coat the veggies, yet pourable. Store the sauce in the fridge until needed.

Wash the yuca roots if using, cut into two or three pieces, peel both the outer bark-like brown layer and the inner thicker one and drop into a large bowl of water. Drain and rinse the cassava roots and add to a large pot of boiling salted water. Cook until the tapioca is tender but not mushy and turn off the heat. When cool enough to handle, remove the veggies from the cooking water using a slotted spoon into a colander and drain well. Break up the tapioca pieces apart into segments and remove and discard the woody cordon in the middle.

Roast or steam the potatoes and sweet potato whole or in slices, wedges, thick juliennes, etc. Keep warm. If roasted or cooked whole, slice the potatoes into thick slabs for serving.

Gently tear the greens into bite-sized pieces. 

Divide the greens among 4 plates. Arrange equal portions of both types of the potatoes, yuca slices, and the cauliflower on top of the greens, and spoon the Huancaina sauce over them. Garnish with olives and radish slices.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Creamy Mushroom Soup, Gluten & Dairy Free

Creamy Mushroom Soup, is so delicious and rich flavored that it is hard to believe there's no cream! The cashews and most of the mushrooms are pureed to a silky and creamy scrumptiousness. The garlicky topping gives the diner a hint of the treat that they are about to enjoy and finishes off the soup so elegantly!

Use whatever mushrooms are available, while a mixture is great (such as baby Bella, Cremini, Button etc), the soup maybe made with only one type also.
Creamy Mushroom Soup

4-6 servings


1.5 lbs Mixed Fresh Mushrooms, sliced (reserve a few for topping)
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
4-6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
4 Tbsp Brown Rice Flour
4 cups Vegetable Broth or Water
1/4 cup Raw Cashews
Salt & Pepper
1 Tbsp Tamari or Coconut Aminos
1-2 pinches Cayenne, to taste

Garlicky Topping:
1 tsp Olive Oil
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
A handful of the mushrooms
1 Tbsp fresh Thyme
Salt & Pepper


Soak the cahews in clean water for at least 30 minutes.

Clean the mushrooms by quickly washing them, drain well, and spread on a clean towel. Slice them reserving about a cup for the topping.

Toast the rice flour and the pepper until browned and fragrant. Add the garlic to the flour and stir for a few seconds. Stir in the mushrooms and thyme. Cook stirring until mushrooms cook down a bit. Stir in the the broth or water along with the salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Drain cashews, rinse well and place in the blender with a little of the soup broth. Process until smooth. Add the soup in batches and process until smooth.

Pour the soup back into the pot and heat gently until hot and steaming. Stir in the tamari and a pinch of cayenne. Taste for seasonings and add more salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.

While the soup is cooking, heat a small skillet with the oil, garlic, shallots, mushrooms, a pinch of salt, and pepper along with the thyme. Cook stirring until mushrooms are slightly browned and caramelized. Let cool.

Divide the soup into bowls, add a little of the topping, and eat while still steaming hot!