Thursday, March 28, 2013

Veggies in a Curried Coconut Sauce

Today's dish was a clean out the fridge kind of meal.  I had cooked a batch of chickpeas a couple days ago and had a little over a cup of cooked beans left, plus some miscellaneous veggies and the first thing that came to mind was a stir fry.  I haven't made a stir fry/sauteed veggies in a while, and also had a little jarred curry paste in the fridge, so I immediately thought curried coconut sauce.  Can't get enough of that!  Once I chopped all the veggies and started the rice cooking, it all came together very quickly - in about half an hour or so.  Who said you can't have tasty, healthy meals in a short amount of time?  If you want to use brown rice instead, by all means do.  When I opened up the jar with my long grain brown rice, I realized I only had half a cup left, and that certainly wasn't enough for Hubbs and I.  Or you could even use quinoa or millet.  Super easy and super delicious.

Veggies in a Curried Coconut Sauce:

So flavorful and delicious!

Serves: 4

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, sliced into matchsticks
1 head broccoli, cut into florets, stems peeled and chopped
1 small onion, cut into strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 large leaves kale, chopped finely

1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 can coconut milk (lite or regular)
2 tablespoons red thai chili paste
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
a few fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded

1.  Prep all the veggies.
2.  Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the olive oil and allow it to become hot. 
3.  Once the oil is hot, add the celery, carrot, broccoli and onion.  Saute for several minutes, or until the broccoli is crisp-tender.  Add the garlic and ginger and continue sauteing for a couple more minutes, or until the garlic is cooked through.  Season with sea salt and black pepper.

The Veggies Sauteing

4.  In a small bowl add the seasonings: the coconut milk, red thai chili paste, granulated garlic, sea salt and black pepper.  Whisk together until the chili paste is incorporated into the milk. 
5.  Add the milk to the sauteing veggies, as well as the garbanzo beans and chiffonaded kale.  Simmer, stirring frequently, until the kale has cooked slightly and the sauce thickens.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, as necessary. 
6.  Stir in the fresh basil.  Serve over rice (white or brown), quinoa or millet.



Sunday, March 24, 2013

Veggie and Sausage Pasta

One of the cooks at my job is from Bangladesh and is always incorporating the spices and flavors from his home into Americanized dishes with delicious results!  He sometimes isn't great about describing what's in a dish, or when he does list the ingredients, he can't say how much of something he puts in it.  My "how much ingredient x is in this" question results in a "oh just a little bit" response.  He makes this delicious pasta dish with veggies and vegan sausage that is creamy, spicy and has a nice amount of spices, different than if I were to prepare it if I were the one cooking.  I would most likely just make it with a simple marinara sauce, which is his base, but he then adds a ton of other delicious ingredients. 

I had been telling my Hubby about the dish for several weeks, and even though I had intended to bring him a sample of it when Gany our cook prepared it, it always accidentally ended up in my stomach instead of his.  So one day when I was talking about it yet again and he was complaining about me never bringing him any to try, I was going through my chest freezer and discovered a package of frozen vegan sausage.  I pretty much always have homemade marinara sauce in the freezer, so I decided I would surprise him with the dish for dinner.  And although it isn't exactly like how Gany prepares it, it sure was delicious!  Hubby ate two giant plates out of it, saying there was something different about it, some kind of spice I don't usually use, something he couldn't figure out.  It made me smile because it was the exact same way I had reacted the first time tasting the dish.

 Veggie and Sausage Pasta:

Nicely spicy and so colorful!

Serves: 4-6

16 oz. penne pasta (or desired pasta - I was out of penne)
4 vegan sausages, cooked in olive oil and sliced on diagonal

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow pepper, julienned 1 green bell pepper, julienned
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 medium yellow onion, sliced into strips
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups homemade marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon cumin

1.  Bring a large pot of salted, oiled water to a boil.  Cook the pasta until al dente.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, brown the sausages in the olive oil.  Once browned, set aside to cool slightly, then slice on the diagonal.
3.  Place a large saute pan over medium high heat and ass the olive oil.  Allow it to become hot.
4.  Once the oil is hot, add the yellow, green, red and jalapeno peppers, plus the onions and garlic.  Cook, stirring frequently for several minutes until tender crisp. 
5.  Add the marinara sauce and the spices: black pepper, sea salt, garam masala, pepper flakes, granulated garlic and cumin.  Stir well to cover the veggies.
6.  Lower the heat and allow the mixture to cook for several minutes, until fragrant. 
7.  Add in the veggies sausages and toss to coat. 
8.  Add the drained, cooked pasta and toss to coat. 
9.  Season to taste - adding additional sea salt or pepper flakes to taste.



Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chickpea Vegetable Soup with Sweet Potatoes

I am fortunate to work in a place where I can purchase large bulk quantities of organic foods.  I do a lot of recipe testing and go through a lot of ingredients that are expensive when paying the retail cost.  I recently purchased a 25 pound bag each of organic unbleached flour, organic sugar, organic chickpeas and a case of soy free earth balance (the 2 lb. containers).  I've gone through almost all of the flour, 1/4 of the sugar and probably a couple pounds of the beans.  I use beans all the time in my cooking at home, the vast majority of the time I cook them from dry, using canned only when I am in a super hurry.  Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) are by far my favorite bean - I put them in everything.  Sometimes when I am cooking them from dry, I get carried away and make too many.  I don't love the texture of frozen garbanzo beans, so I try to use them all fresh, but I would much rather freeze them than throw them away, so sometimes they end up in the freezer.  Whenever I freeze them, I use them in soup - how this recipe came about. 

I have pretty much been making soup 2-3 times a week in this cold weather.  Even though today is technically spring, it is still pretty chilly out, so I felt like making this tasty, comforting soup.  I am a fan of the brothier soups and love me some greens in my soups, added at the end to still have a nice bite.  Try this soup before the weather starts to actually turn nice and warm!

Chickpea Vegetable Soup with Sweet Potatoes:

So hearty with delicious chunks of sweet potatoes.

Yields: 2 1/2 Quarts (6-8 servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium yams, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons red curry paste
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 cups vegetable stock
4 large leaves kale, shredded
2 cups chickpeas, cooked

1. Place a large stockpot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Allow the oil to become hot.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the onion, yams and garlic and sauté for several minutes.
3. Add the seasonings: red curry paste, sea salt, cumin, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Toss to coat.
4. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Once the ingredients boil, reduce to a simmer.
5. Once the yams are just tender, turn off the heat and add the kale and chickpeas, stirring to combine.
6. Season to taste.  That's it!



Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chickpea Kale Salad

Today is the first day off I've had in several weeks.  I flew back to Michigan a couple weeks ago when my Grandmother wasn't doing well and stayed there for about a week after she passed away to help my mom out.  Then I came back to New York and was immediately thrust back into work with tons of meetings and tons of stuff to catch up on, immediately followed by two classes scheduled on both of my days off.  No complaints, just super tired!  So, today being my day off, I did 4 batches of laundry with our portable washing machine and clothes drying racks.  After actually using a real washer and dryer while in Michigan, it was hard to go back to washing our clothes the old fashioned way!  Time to also do some pre-spring cleaning, including cleaning and organizing the refrigerators and freezers, pantry and writing up ideas for simple meals to make for Hubbs and I when I come back home from work.  After being up and working like a maniac for so many hours, I suddenly discovered that I was starving and wanted to eat something yesterday.  Remembering I had cooked some chickpeas for dinner a couple nights ago and that I bought a bunch of kale from the coop yesterday, I decided to make a warm chickpea kale salad, which always makes me happy and is super tasty and satisfying.  So now I'm taking a nice break, eating my tasty salad and watching some tv.  Sure feels nice to take a break, even if it is only for a couple hours!

Chickpea Kale Salad:

Serves 4 as a side

So simple and delicious!!

2 cups cooked chickpeas (warm)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large onion or 2 small onions, sliced into strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 bunch kale, sliced into strips
1 tablespoon water

1.  Warm the chickpeas by placing in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, or until heated through.
2.  Drain and place in a large mixing bowl.
3.  Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and allow it to become hot.  Add the olive oil, onions and garlic and cook till softened and golden.  Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the chickpeas. 
4.  Sprinkle with the sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. 
5.  Into the same hot pan add the kale and 1 tablespoon water and cover with a lid to steam.  Allow the kale to steam for about 1-2 minutes, or until vibrantly green.
6.  Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and add to the bowl with the remaining ingredients. 
7.  Mix ingredients thoroughly and season to taste with additional sea salt or pepper flakes.

That's it!



Friday, March 8, 2013

Mashed Potaotes & Gravy, Fried Squash, Pepper Steak, Steamed Broccoli & Salad

Ever feel like you have rotating meals?  I certainly do and I feel like this is one variation that I find myself making frequently.  It is just so easy and simple.  It allows you to use every burner on your stove at the same time, but not feel overwhelmed and get it done quickly.  I love mashed potatoes and gravy and Hubby loves the potatoes, but not so much the gravy.  He has this weird things about "creamy" things, although he really likes gravy when it's in things like pot pies, etc.  And since the pepper steak is already made, all you have to do is thaw it out and saute it.  Easy and done.  I love that I don't eat meat.  Seriously.  Sometimes it is so damn easy!  But then again, sometimes it is super labor intensive.  But I love that too! 

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy, Fried Squash, Pepper Steak, Steamed Broccoli & Kale, Salad:

So Tasty and Simple!

Serves 4

Vegan Nutritional Yeast Gravy:
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup unbleached flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons tamari
3 cups filtered water, or as needed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon sea salt, or as needed

1.  Place a medium pot over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and allow it to become hot. Once it is hot, add the onions.  Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. 
2.  Add the unbleached flour and nutritional yeast and whisk together.  It will be a very very thick mixture.  Keep whisking periodically, until the flour loses its raw smell and turns a nice golden color. 
3.  At this point, you are going to add the liquids.  When making a gravy, it is important to whisk the mixture as soon as you add the liquids, or the gravy will be lumpy.  So, add the tamari and 3 cups of water and immediately whisk the mixture together.  It will feel like it's going to seize as soon as you add the liquids, but keep whisking until the gravy is smooth.  Add the sea salt and black pepper.
4.  Now let the gravy come to a simmer, whisking frequently and being sure that it does not stick to the bottom or sides.  Once the gravy thickens, you can determine whether or not you will need more water.  If the gravy is too thick, add water a little at a time until your desired consistency is achieved.  Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
5.  Serve over rice, potatoes, biscuits, or whatever makes you happy!