Day 29 of vegan recipe challege: 3 things to try

Who doesn’t like a round up blog post? It’s the cheat for promoting great ideas/content without actually creating much of said ideas/content. Call it the Upworthy or Buzzfeed creed. Without further ado:

1) Last Sunday, I held my inaugural “Cooking with Friends” adventure centered around a vegan staple: tofu. One of the most highly acclaimed dishes came from none other than everyone’s favorite crafter-gone-money-launderer Martha Stewart.

broiled tofuAfter broiling this tofu, make a wreath!

The recipe (found here) is ridiculously easy. The soy lemon pepper dipping sauce was a nice, punchy touch, and would make a great marinade or dipping sauce in other dishes, for sure.

2) This past Monday was Chipotle’s much publicized sofritas special. If you purchased a bowl/burrito/taco with sofritas on that day, you would be able to score a free bowl/burrito/tacos using your receipt on another visit. Alas, we were not able to partake due to time and finances (and the fact that we have a silly amount of food in our house). BUT – we did taste the sofritas a couple of Saturdays ago: I did a bowl with black beans, pico, and lettuce while Aaron took his in taco form topped with black beans and the corn salsa. The verdict: quite tasty with some nice heat. What a gesture to have another protein option outside of the bean staple in the takeout realm.

sofritasThanks Chipootle for bringing tofu to the hipsters

3) I still have yet to post about my (now TWO) sushi roll making adventures. If you’re in the market to get your nori on, the BambooMN brand is the set my friend Chelsea recommended to me, and I shall pass it on as well.:

sushikitKeep it rollin’

Even better, the price for the set is under $8.

Speaking of sushi, a new restaurant opened in downtown Durham this week. Basan brings more new life into the American Tobacco section of the Dirty D with a menu that boasts some pretty fabulous looking veggie sushi. For example:

Bonsai

Avocado, broccoli, carrot, asparagus, tempura green beans, wrapped with soy paper and cucumber, soy salsa on top

Garden

Frisee, tomato, avocado, cucumber inside, roasted pepper, chive on top, whole grain mustard dressing

This has been added to our restaurant must-hit list.

QUESTION TIME:

Alright vegans and non-vegans alike, are you a fan of sushi? If so, what are the ingredients you like to find in your roll?

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 eighteen of the vegan recipe challenge: brought to you by Michelle

Time is of the essence today. And, essentially, I don’t have time to pen a thoughtful post (or even a thoughtless one at that!). So, I’m inviting you to check out the recipes of my friend Michelle, who took her own vegan challenge in 2014. She is super talented, so I promise: you will NOT be disappointed with whatever dish(es) you opt to try in your own pursuits:

tofu scramble black beans green pepper cilantro corn tomatoesTofu scramble? Check!

Black Eye Pea Portobello Spinach Patties with Chipotle Pimento Cheese and Roasted Salsa Verde
Black Eye Pea Portobello Spinach Patties with Chipotle Pimento Cheese and Roasted Salsa Verde

Last, but not least for now, one of my new go-to salads:

Avocado, Corn, Tomato and Brussels Sprout SaladAvocado Corn Tomato Brussel Sprout Salad_2

Happy Friday, all! What vegan meals do you have planned for this weekend?

Day four of recipe challenge: cooking vegan does not need to be labor intensive

Let me say that again: Cooking vegan does not need to labor intensive.

It can be, sure. So can preparing countless other meals with animal product. But, there seems to be this mental barrier the general public associates with vegan cooking. “It must take you hours to finally eat!” Or course, that’s not when I’m eating another salad. Because that’s all vegans eat too, salads.

(Note: I am not knocking salads in the least. I quite like salads. But, I loathe the association that somehow that one particular dish sustains me for 365 days a year).

This recipe is going to have two-options (hooray! we love options, Katie). I’m giving you the “I need to make this in 15 minutes” option or the “Okay, I can take a little longer because I don’t believe in store-bought hummus.”

Option 1: Hummus & Tofu Wraps
Recipe notes that it makes 4 total wraps; depending on type of bread & how much tofu you put in each, I argue you could get more like 6 to 8 servings

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt

Remaining items:
Your favorite hummus (since the tofu is cooked in sesame oil, I would opt for a wasabi or edamame hummus, but even plain will be tasty!)
2 cups hearty sprouts, like broccoli or sunflower sprouts (we used pea shoots from Trader Joe’s)
Whole-wheat wraps or pita pockets

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, add the sesame oil. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot oil; otherwise, turn the heat up. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

To assemble:
Spread hummus in pita/on wrap nice and thick. Add a handful of tofu cubes and a good bunch of sprouts. DIVE IN and enjoy!

Option 2: Edamame Hummus & Tofu Wraps
This is when YOU make the hummus, not someone else. You can find wasabi powder at your local Asian market or even a Whole Foods or Earth Fare. I would assume it would be less expensive at the Asian market.

For the tofu:
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the hummus:
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups shelled frozen edamame, thawed completely
1/3 cup water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons wasabi powder (see note)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For serving:
Whole-wheat wraps or pitas
2 cups hearty sprouts, like broccoli or sunflower sprouts (or peas shoots!)

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, add the sesame oil. Add the cubed tofu and sprinkle with salt. The tofu should immediately sizzle when it hits the hot oil; otherwise, turn the heat up. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing often, until it’s nicely browned.

Prepare the hummus:
While the tofu is browning, start the hummus. pulse the garlic in a blender or food processor to chop it up a bit. Add the remaining hummus ingredients and puree until smooth, adding a little extra water as needed to thin. Taste for seasonings. Refrigerate in a tightly sealed container if not using immediately.

To assemble:
Spread hummus in pita/on wrap nice and thick. Add a handful of tofu cubes and a good bunch of sprouts. DIVE IN and enjoy!

The secret is: get that tofu nice and crisp:

TofuCubed for your pleasure.

Then, voila! Dinner/lunch/snack served:

pitasOh hai pea shoots, where have you been all my life?