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 21 of vegan recipe challenge: the curry express visits again

Talk about a fresh post: this is what we ate less than an hour ago:

currybowl2

Isa does it…again..and again..and again. On this rainy and cold Monday night, the combo of curry, broth, ginger, garlic, tofu – it just (as my Mom always says) hit the spot.

Down-Home Curry with Broccoli and Tofu
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. minced ginger
3 cups vegetable broth (I use low-sodium)
2 tbsp. curry powder (I used mild but you can get wild and wooly if you like!)
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup (I used agave nectar)
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
3/4 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 3/4-in. pieces
1 large carrot, peeled & sliced on a bias, 1/4-in. thick (I threw in two just for kicks)
14 oz. extra-firm tofu, cut into little triangles
4 c. broccoli florets
1 c. coconut milk (I used lite coconut milk and still found it rich but if you want extra $$, go for the full)
1/4 c. chopped, fresh cilantro (plus extra for garnish)
Basmati rice for serving

Directions:

In a 4-quart large saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until the onion is lightly browns, approximately 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger to saucepan. Continue to sauté until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds. Add vegetable broth, curry powder, maple syrup, tomato paste, soy sauce & red pepper flakes. Stir to mix well. Don’t worry if the tomato paste doesn’t break down yet (it will).

Add the potatoes and carrots. Cover the saucepan and bring mixture to boil. After it reaches a boil, lower heat until simmering. Continue to simmer, with lid ajar, until potatoes are tender (5 minutes)

Add tofu, broccoli, coconut milk and cilantro. Bring mixture to boil then back down to a simmer, leaving the lid ajar. You just want to cook it enough to get the broccoli tender (about 4- 5 minutes). Then, take it off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes (if you can wait!) Check the seasoning and then dish over cooked Basmati rice and toss on some cilantro, if you please.

CurryBowl1I took down two of these bowls tonight.

Now, on to cheer on the Oregon Ducks to the first – ever – college football national championship victory!

Day two of vegan recipe challenge: for the love of curry (and okra)

I first met okra back in 2007 after moving to North Carolina. I was unaware of this shotgun-shell shaped vegetable with its delectable crunch and earthiness as a girl in the west. I was not an aficionado of gumbo or other Creole-standards that used this food like it was going out of style. In fact, when we first met, I didn’t even recognize this Southern staple.

Because it looked like this:

okra
(Thank you Food Network!)

Fried okra. Insert face-melted image of me shoveling this into my mouth during that steamy month of August. If this was Southern living, I was all about it.

From that moment on, I became a champion for okra. Fresh. Frozen. However I could acquire it and use it, I was game. So, when I stumbled upon another Isa Chandra Moskowitz recipe in her “Isa Does It!” cookbook, I had to make it. And, it does not disappoint. Plus, it incorporate another Southern delicacy: black-eyed peas:

blackeyedpeas

No, no, not those. Less pop, more depth:

foodbep

Bhindi Masala with Black-Eyed Peas
(serves 6)
total time: 1 hour 10 minutes; active time: 20 minutes

3 tablespoons refined coconut oil (I used 2 tablespoons and thought it was great)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/3 cup chickpea flour (you can substitute other flour if needed – this makes the recipe gluten free)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons mild curry powder
1 cup vegetable broth, plus extra for thinning
2 cups sliced okra (about 10 ounces)
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (3 cups)

For serving:
Cooked basmati rice
Plain unsweetened coconut milk yogurt (I used vegan sour cream – delish!)
Fresh cilantro

Preheat a 4-quart pot over medium-low heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil and toast the cumin seeds in the oil for a minute or so, until fragrant. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil (or 1 depending on your preference) and sprinkle in the chickpea flour. Use a wood spatula to toss the flour in the oil, and stir pretty consistently for 4 to 4 minutes, until the flour is clumpy and toasty.

Add the onion and salt, and toss to coast the onion completely in the flour mixture. Cook this way for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1 more minute.

Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Crush up the tomatoes with your hands and add them to the pot, along with the curry powder, mixing for a few minutes until the tomatoes break down a bit and the mixture appears thick and saucy.

Stream in the broth, stirring constantly to prevent clumping. Now do the same with the remaining tomato juices. Add the okra and black-eyed peas, then turn the heat up and cover to bring to a boil. Stir occasionally.

Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stew is nicely thickened and the okra is tender. If it’s too thick, thin with a bit of vegetable broth. If it’s not as thick as you like, just cook it a bit longer. Serve with basmati rice and topped with yogurt (or sour cream) and cilantro.

Bindi

Mmmmmmm. Cheers!