Day 26 of vegan recipe challenge: cooking with friends

Perhaps “Cooking with Friends” could be the “Words with Friends” for the new year. Less wordy, less competitive, and the outcome literally puts food on the table.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend Jessi and I took on our own culinary friendship date. During the process, we touched on our own challenges when cooking with our partners: the improv chef versus the stick-to-the-recipe, the “this is how I do it” mindset [totally guilty of this one], so for a friend to be willing to chop, simmer, and saute along side you, I chalk that up to a pretty big deal.

We started with Angela Liddon’s Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.. I showed some self-restraint and allowed the chickpeas to cook longer than I had previously, giving them even more crunch (and subsequently keeping fewer on the baking sheet as I snuck a couple each time I walked by – oops!). Below, find the recipes from the Oh She Glows blog for both the salad and the roasted chickpeas.

Bowl2You will be quenched, my friends.

Thai-Inspired Cucumber Salad with Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: about 3 portions

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1.5-2 tablespoons natural cane sugar, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

Salad:

  • 2 medium field cucumbers
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
  • Roasted spiced chickpeas (recipe follows)

1. Whisk dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and adjust to taste. Feel free to add more sweetener if you prefer. Set aside.

2. Peel cucumbers, slice off the ends, and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a small spoon (see photo in post if necessary). Slice halves into 1/8-inch “half moons” and toss into a large bowl. If your cucumbers are really big you can slice the half-moons in half as well.

3. Dice the red pepper and red onion and add into bowl. Roughly chop cilantro and add into bowl. Pour in all the dressing and toss to combine. Let this salad sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge, tossing every 10 minutes or so to help the dressing soak in.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the roasted chickpeas (if desired). Recipe follows.

5. Portion into bowls and top with peanuts and roasted chickpeas (optional). Serve immediately.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Yield: 1.5 cups chickpeas or 3 (1/2 cup) servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz) can chickpeas (or 1.5 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1. Preheat oven to 400F and line a medium baking sheet with a couple pieces of paper towel.

2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and place onto paper towel. Add a couple paper towels on top and roll the chickpeas around until completely dry. This helps them crisp up in the oven.

3. Add the chickpeas into a medium mixing bowl and stir in the oil until coated. Now stir in the rest of the seasonings.

4. Discard paper towel and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Add chickpeas back onto the baking sheet.

5. Roast at 400F for 20 minutes. Give the pan a gentle shake to stir the chickpeas and roast for another 15-20 minutes, until golden and lightly charred on the bottom. I roast for a full 40 minutes because I like them on the crispy side, but keep an eye on them as oven temps vary.

6. Cool for 5 minutes or so and then top on your salad. They will lose their crispness quickly so these are best enjoyed immediately. If need be, you can freeze them once fully cooled, reheat them in the oven for about 5 minutes or so to bring back the crispiness.

But, that’s not all!

That was just the starter set. We jumped over to Isa Does It for the Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale. Recently, I reveled in my love for peanut butter. If you have the same lust in your heart, you will MELT over this sauce. After making it, I would put it on anything (even a bird):

No, not really a bird. But as pizza sauce? Yes. On salads? Yes. Over a bowl of quinoa and veggies? Yes. On ANYTHING? Almost yes.

Curried Peanut Sauce Bowl with Tofu & Kale
Serves 4
Total time: 25 minutes; active time: 25 minutes

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used peanut)
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the sauce and kale:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter (!!!)
2 teaspoons curry powder (see note)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons tamari (can sub soy sauce)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon sriracha
1 bunch kale, stems removed, torn into pieces
Pinch of salt

For serving:
4 cups brown rice, quinoa, or rice noodles
Sriracha (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Note: Isa recommended S&B Oriental Curry Powder. I could not find it so I used a traditional curry powder. If you can find the S&B brand, the star anise in it supposedly really shines. It’s on my list!

Prepare the tofu:
You’ll need a cast-iron pan, or something nonstick that can take very high heat. Preheat the pan over high heat. Once the pan is good and hot, apply the oil in a thin layer. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with the salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot pan; otherwise, turn up the heat. Cook for about 7 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

Prepare the sauce:
Preheat a 2-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and add the oil. Saute the ginger and garlic in the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the water and deglaze the pan, then turn up the heat a bit. Once the water is warm, add the peanut butter, curry powder, rice vinegar, tamari, agave, and sriracha. As the ingredients heat up, the peanut butter will blend smoothly into the water as you stir. It should take 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Taste for seasonings, especially to see if you like the level of curry, and add more if you like.

Prepare the kale:
Get your steaming apparatus ready. Place the kale in the steamer and sprinkle on a pinch of salt. Steam for about 5 minutes, until soft but still with a little spring to it.

To assemble:
Spoon the rice into bowls. Add the kale, then the tofu, and smother in the peanut sauce. Top with sriracha and cilantro, if you like.

How differently our three bowls turned out:

Bowl4Aaron

Bowl3Jessi

Bowl1Katie’s…and the worst photo (le sigh)

Have you cooked with any of your friends? Was it a success? Or is it still something we don’t talk about?

Day seven of vegan recipe challenge: me-so hangry

Channeling 2 Live Crew is the only way to kick off this banging dish.

It’s another gem from the Oh She Glows cookbook, and as I’ve written about previously, if you haven’t meet miso yet, you are missing out.

What is miso?

Miso is a paste made from fermenting soybeans with salt, a fungus, and sometimes other special ingredients (barely!). Yum, right?

Yes, yum is the correct answer. As you strive to achieve ooji breath in yoga, you want to aim for umami, your sixth sense. (Read fun earlier blog post here).

Not only will miso ping your taste buds in ways you only thought cheese and other foods could, it will bring you to a whole new level of existence, man. Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but this enlightened miso power bowl will leave you full and feeling energized.

I also wanted to address two questions that may come up in cooking:

1) Where do I find miso? Stories like Whole Foods and Earth Fare have a wide selection of miso. It’s not always cheap (ranging from $5 to $8) but it lasts over many dishes. You can also find miso (there’s white, yellow, purple, brown, etc.) at Asian markets and even at Trader Joe’s

2) Is there a substitute for maple syrup? Always. I don’t typically keep maple syrup in the house. I’m a big fan of agave nectar, and there is even a maple-infused agave nectar that I like to buy. I buy this at Kroger. You can also use honey too. Eating honey can be contentious issue for vegans, as it is an animal-derived product. I do choose to eat honey, but I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

Enlightened_Miso_BowlPhoto credit via Angela Liddon

Enlightened Miso Power Bowl
Serves 2
Prep time: 20 minutes; Cook time: 28 to 30 minutes
gluten-free, nut-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free option

1 sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil or coconut oil, melted
Fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked quinoa

To Assemble:
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 medium carrot, julienned
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1.4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
1/2 cup sprouts (optional)

For Orange-Maple Miso Dressing:
3 tablespoons light miso
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon maple syrup

1) Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C).

2) While the oven is heating up, make the Orange Maple Miso Dressing: In a mini or regular food process, combined the miso, vinegar, sesame oil, tahini, orange juice, water, and maple syrup and process until well combined.

2) Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or invest in these amazing silicone baking liners!). Place the sweet potato rounds on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle them with the oil, rubbing it on both sides to coat. Sprinkle the sweet potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the potatoes and roast fr 8 to 10 minutes more, until tender and lightly browned.

3) While the sweet potatoes are roasting, cook the quinoa following the directions on the package

4) To assemble, divide the cooked quinoa evenly between 2 plates or bowl and season it with salt and pepper (Katie note: I NEVER divide the quinoa evenly because there is too much for two dinners. I put about 1/2 – 3/4 cup in our bowls and then save the rest). Top with the roasted sweet potato rounds, the edamame, carrots, green onion, cilantro, and, if using, the same seeds, hemp seeds, and sprouts. rizzle with Orange-Maple Miso Dressing and enjoy!