Monday, April 30, 2007


I bookmarked this recipe the first time I flipped through Quick-Fix Vegetarian. We love South Indian food, especially crispy potato-filled dosas, but it's hard to make authentic dosas at home. We've tried with packaged mixes and from scratch but you really need to have the right equipment and a practiced technique. We have done potato quesadillas in the past and those are quite easy. Robin Robertson's meshing of these two finger foods (there's also a very similar recipe in the latest VegNews) isn't exactly authentic but it is easy to make. I didn't end up following the recipe exactly but it was close enough. (Mainly I used more onions and also added black mustard seeds.) Basically you fry some onions, add some curry spices, mash in some potatoes and add peas. Then you fill half a tortilla with this mixture fold it over and fry it until it's brown on both sides. They're good plain or with your favorite chutney. A couple of these babies and a big salad and we were stuffed.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Split Pea Alecha and Gomen

The last time I tried making Ethiopian food the results were tasty but not very authentic. This time was better but still not quite there in the authenticity department. Although in this case there's an easy remedy. I'd been wanting to try the Ethiopian recipes in Vegan Lunch Box and recently I also saw a recipe for Gomen (collard greens) from our local Ethiopian restaurant Mesob published in the C-ville weekly. From Vegan Lunch Box I made the Split Pea Alecha, a thick spicy stew. Well it's supposed to be thick. The flavor was very good but for my split peas anyway, the recipe called for too much water and I ended up with more of a soup. A good soup, but not something you can pick up with your injera (spongy flatbread) and eat with your hands. Well no matter, because though I do want to try my hand at making injera one of these days there's no teff flour to be found in these parts so I ended up making flat breads from Trader Joe's whole wheat pizza dough. We had the split peas in a bowl with the gomen mounded in the middle and the bread on the side. And though it didn't quite feel like being in an Ethiopian restaurant it was quite a scrumptious meal.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bok Choy Cashew Stir-Fry

Despite the fancy sounding title, this was pretty simple. Just a case of taking what's in the fridge, mixing it all together and calling it a stir-fry. Our main fresh vegetables were baby bok choy and cremini mushrooms. Then there was about a quarter of a head of green cabbage that was looking slightly dodgey but I just cut a bit from the outside and all was well. All that was stir-fried together with half an onion, a carrot, and fresh garlic and ginger. Oh, and let's not forget the handful of cashews.

I'm still not extremely adept at making stir-fry sauces - maybe it's my fear of using too much soy sauce. This one was good but not outstanding so I'll spare you the recipe (don't know if I could remember it anyway), though I know it did have soy sauce, vegetable broth, rice vinegar, agave and cornstarch (and maybe a little apple juice). I think I went a little heavy on the vinegar and light on the soy sauce but I'm sure there will be a next time to try something a little different.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maple-Mustard Potatoes

It was back to our tattered copy of Vegan with a Vengeance for last night's dinner. The Maple-Mustard Glazed Potatoes and String Beans was something we hadn't tried before but it sounded good and indeed it was. Yukon gold potatoes, beans and onions roasted in a sauce of maple syrup, Dijon mustard, soy sauce and olive oil. Simple to prepare and delicious to eat. It wouldn't quite all fit in one baking dish so I split some of it out into a second baking dish. I also made some tempeh to have with the taters and I had pulled both baking dishes out of the oven and while I was cooking the tempeh I started munching on the potatoes. Before I knew it over half of the small dish was gone... but fortunately there was still plenty for dinner. Yum!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Broccoli-Mushroom-Walnut Pasta

I'm just getting around to posting about this meal from a few nights ago but I did want to get it up here because it was just the right combination of delectable and good-for-you. I had skipped over this Phyllo Pie recipe in Vive le Vegan! before because it seemed a little involved but then I noticed that there's also a pasta variation so I decided to give it a try. In a nutshell, it's broccoli, mushrooms, onions & garlic cooked in olive oil with seasonings (mustard, oregano, salt & pepper), then mixed in a food processor with walnuts and soy milk. It was excellent tossed with whole wheat spaghetti - sort of a broccoli pesto. In the end it was fairly quick to prepare too and I'm sure we'll make it again soon.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stop Global Warming

It was a bit of a night on the town for us. Our relatively new outdoor concert venue downtown, the Charlottesville Pavilion, kicked off the season with the Stop Global Warming College Tour and a free show from Robert Randolph & the Family Band. We walked downtown a little before the show and had dinner at our favorite burrito joint Atomic Burrito. What's great about this place is they offer whole wheat tortillas and brown rice. And that's how both of our burritos started. Then it was black beans, a sautéed squash mixture, lettuce, guacamole and salsa. Darlene got the straight up fruit salsa and I opted for the jicama-peach salsa - quite interesting and tasty. Here's my half eaten monster burrito. Fortunately I snapped a decent picture before anyone started looking at me funny.

On our way back down the mall towards the pavilion we stopped at Splendora's, and despite the fact that it was a cool night, we split a small cup of dairy-free sorbet. One scoop of raspberry, one scoop of pineapple, all delicious!

Then it was on to the pavilion for a presentation by Laurie David about the perils of global warming and what we as individuals can do to stop it. And afterwards it was on to the funky rhythms of Robert Randolph.

But wait a minute. What can we do to stop global warming? Granted it was a relatively short presentation but not once did I hear Laurie David say, "Stop eating meat!". Yet that's something easy to do that has an enormous impact on your individual greenhouse gas emissions. There was talk about switching to energy efficient lighting in your home and in fact they were giving away free compact fluorescent bulbs at the event tonight. That's all well and good but if you switch from the typical American diet to a vegan diet you'll reduce your greenhouse gas emissions 8 times as much as if you switch all the lights in your house to compact fluorescents. And it depends somewhat on how you interpret the science but it appears that switching to a vegan diet has at least as much impact on your greenhouse gas emissions as switching from a mid-size car to a hybrid. And I'm hear to tell you that vegan food is a lot cheaper than running out and buying a Prius. So what are you waiting for?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lentil Salad

When we made Pad Thai recently we based it on a recipe in a back issue of Vegetarian Times. I flipped through that same issue and came across a lentil salad recipe that sounded good so I kept it handy. I ultimately adapted the recipe based on what we had on hand but it came out really good. It was pretty simple to put together too. I covered 2 cups of French lentils with water in a pot and boiled them until tender, about 20 minutes. While that was going on I put all this stuff into a big bowl:

2 avocados, diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1/2 c. chopped pitted kalamata olives
4-5 chopped scallions
small handful chopped marinated mushrooms
about 1/4 c. crumbled soy feta

When the lentils were done I drained them, rinsed with cold water, then added them to the bowl along with about 1/4 c. each olive oil and red wine vinegar. I seasoned with salt & pepper and that was it, a hearty meal.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Pizza and Bread Sticks

Everyone's raving about the Seitan O' Greatness and Susan's veggeroni and with good reason. We made the veggeroni this weekend and it came out great. It was tasty on sandwiches but of course pizza is the obvious choice. In addition to the seitan pepperoni our pie was topped with broccoli, avocado and a little Sunergia soy feta. Sunergia is a local company that now distributes their soy foods nationally. The soy feta is a relatively new product and the Tomato-Garlic flavor we picked up was scrumptious. It's a bit pricey for us so we don't get it very often but we splurged this time.

Back to the pizza, as I did this time I often use the pizza dough recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance but I think this was the first time I've also used Isa's pizza sauce recipe (which was most excellent). The dough recipe will make two pizzas but we decided to make one pie and used the other half of the dough for bread sticks. For dipping our stix we used some extra pizza sauce and also an agave-mustard sauce that Darlene whipped up with, well, agave and mustard, plus just a touch of vinegar. All in all a very satisfying meal.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Salad Wraps

This salad-in-a-wrap is an idea I got while flipping through Quick Fix Vegetarian and seeing a recipe for something like this. I got some red chile tortillas and piled on lettuce, shredded carrots, avocado, and fried tofu. Then a little drizzle of lemon vinaigrette we had in the fridge went on top and we wrapped 'em up. I think this was even quicker to prepare than last night's gnocchi. For the tofu, I just thinly sliced a few pieces from a larger block, then fried them in peanut oil and added a Braggs/cider vinegar/maple syrup mixture at the end. We're going to a family gathering tomorrow and Darlene made a huge batch of pasta salad with a yummy agave-mustard dressing to bring but we also had a little of that on the side tonight.

This was a nice light meal but that's what I needed after my cookie indulgence this afternoon. I was still feeling a bit hungry after lunch so I walked down to Whole Foods looking for a treat and I came back with a package of Liz Lovely cookies. Now there's two huge cookies in there and most people would be satisfied with one but once I ate the first one the second one was looking up at me all alone so I finished that one off too. It was only after my feast that I looked at the package and saw that one serving contained 210 calories and that was for half a cookie. So down the hatch went 840 calories in a matter of minutes. Of course my heart rate monitor tells me I can burn upwards of 1800 calories in a single hard bike ride but that usually only happens once or twice a week. Still, those Cowgirl Cookies were damn tasty...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Please not another gnocchi post!

But I've got a good reason. Well, I think it's good anyway. We're here trying to show that vegan food is fun and delicious but we also want to demonstrate that it can be quick and simple too. You see, the thing I like about gnocchi is that it can easily be a one pot dish. But wait a minute you say. Doesn't it say on the package to boil it for a few minutes? Well it does, but in my mind that's just two more dishes to clean (a big pot and a colander if you want to keep track). So I sauté my veggies, add some herbs, then my gnocchi. And then I add about 1/2 cup of liquid, vegetable broth in this case, cover the pan, lower the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the gnocchi are soft. But check on those little buggers after a few minutes to make sure they're not sticking to the pan and add more liquid if you need to.

Tonight I looked at the clock when I walked into the kitchen and it was exactly 30 minutes from that time until I was dishing out dinner. And I did some dishes too while the gnocchi were cooking. You can add whatever veggies and seasonings you want too. This batch had onions, zucchini and cabbage because that's what was in the fridge, and I added a handful of bell pepper strips from a bag in the freezer and a little bit of tofu for some added protein. I also added garlic and tomato paste, and seasoned with dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Now I'll grant you that this isn't the most healthy thing (whole wheat pasta'd be better) but it's a far cry better (and almost as quick) than driving to your local fast food place and scarfing down whatever junk they're serving up.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


We've had a busy weekend visiting with Darlene's family. On Friday her brother and his girlfriend came into town and we had them over for dinner. We did one of our standards, spring rolls and pad thai, and though I didn't take pictures it probably looked something like this.

Darlene's sister is also visiting and we spent the day with her and her husband on Saturday. After a cold but rewarding hike it was time for some comfort food. We started with onion rings, which we've written about before. Fried food... what more is there to say?

Next up was corn muffins and black bean soup with rice. For the muffins we used the Basic Vegan Skillet Corn Bread recipe from Peter Berley's The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, but poured the batter into muffin tins instead of a single large skillet. We did this once before and actually I think we like the muffin variation a little better than the bread.

I made up my own recipe for the soup and though I don't remember it exactly, it went something like this: Sauté onion, carrot and celery in olive oil. Add garlic, paprika, cumin, fresh oregano and salt & pepper. Add a pound of dried black beans that had soaked for several hours, about 5 cups water, 1 veg. bouillon cube, a finely minced chipotle chili and a couple of bay leaves, and simmer an hour or more until the beans are tender. Towards the end of the cooking time I also added about a tablespoon of red wine vinegar and a couple teaspoons of agave. We served the soup with brown rice that was jazzed up just a bit with fresh cilantro and lemon juice.

Finally, this afternoon we went to Darlene's parents' for Easter dinner. There was turkey and white rice and instant potatoes galore but we brought our own pot pie, which we figured was a complete meal in a single pot. No picture of this one either (though it was kind of like this) but it was filled with seitan, potatoes, celery root, carrots, celery, onions and kale. And for us anyway it was sooo much better than anything else that was on the table.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Black Beans and Quinoa

Ah, the 'ol vegan staple - beans and rice. Or this slight variation on that theme. We needed a quick meal tonight since we were heading out to the hospital to see our baby niece, born early this morning. I know I found a recipe recently that called for zucchini because I bought some a few days ago, but then I couldn't remember where the recipe was. So I made one up. I also had cooked up a pound or so of black beans recently and a portion of those were in the fridge, along with the bottom of a jar of crushed tomatoes and a small bunch of cilantro so the beans and rice idea started coming together. Since it had to be quick I went for the white rice but I noticed that that container was a little low and the container of quinoa was full so it turned into beans and quinoa (which is also quick to cook and probably better for you than white rice anyway).

While the quinoa cooked I sautéed diced onion, carrot and zucchini, then added garlic, paprika, cumin, oregano and salt & pepper. Then the crushed tomatoes and a handful of chopped cilantro and that went on top of the quinoa along with some more cilantro and some avocado. And it all came together in about 25 minutes.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Orange Seitan

A couple weeks ago Don't Get Mad Get Vegan was inspired by one of our past recipes and now we in turn were inspired by her post. Seeing her post made me realize we hadn't made this in a while and it sure was good last time so we went back to it. For this I used basically the same recipe for the Tangerine Seitan we did before. But this time I kept the seitan separate from the sauce until the end so it would stay crispy and instead of including the broccoli we had kale on the side. I actually like broccoli a little better than kale but when I was in the grocery store recently I balked at the price of the broccoli and their kale looked good and was 79 cents a pound. Plus we all know we should eat our greens right?