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I spent a semester in Spain in college. On special occasions, families and friends would gather around large pans of paella cooking over an outdoor flame, similar to the way Americans get together to cook hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill.

The Spanish versions of paella always started with rice, but often included a variety of shell fish and chicken. My version is vegan, and I also give the option to use orzo, which is a rice-shaped pasta, instead of rice.

A large pan of paella is the perfect dish for Easter dinner!

Veggie Paella

½ onion, chopped
½ red pepper, chopped
1 large clove garlic, sliced thin
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup red pinto beans
1 tbsp. capers
¼ cup green olives, sliced
½ cup tomato sauce
2/3 cup reduced sodium vegetable broth
1 package of sliced seitan
1 cup orzo or short grain rice (uncooked)(brown or white rice –whichever you prefer)
Extra virgin olive oil

Spices

½ tbsp. Paprika
1 tsp turmeric
½ tbsp. parsley
¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper
pinch of saffron (optional)

Seitan marinade

juice of ½ lemon
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tbsp. olive oil
½ tbsp parsley
¼ tsp lemon peel

  1. Mix together seitan marinade. Pour over seitan and let sit about 30 minutes.
  2. Saute onion and red pepper in olive oil on medium heat until softened. Add in the garlic and saute a minute more.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and spices, except orzo and seitan. Stir together. Bring to a quick boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes.
  4. While dish is simmering, cook orzo or rice.
  5. Stir the marinated seitan in with the veggie mixture. Simmer about another 10 minutes.
  6. Serve over orzo or rice.

Makes about 4 servings.

Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes


Crispy fried green tomatoes

                 Crispy fried green tomatoes

Even though it’s October, farmer’s markets are still displaying this season’s fresh tomatoes, although the supply is dwindling. Don’t let the opportunity to cook with these jewels slip through your fingers. The vegetable stand near me also has green tomatoes still available. Not sure if you can find these in your neck of the woods, but if so, you might want to try this recipe for perfectly crispy fried green tomatoes.

Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes

Start with a medium-sized green tomato.

1) Slice relatively thin (thick slices don’t get crispy enough).
2) Dip in water.
3) Dip in flour (both sides).
4) Dip in water again.
5) Dip in corn meal (both sides) (double dipping helps to keep the crust on the tomatoes for some reason).
6) Fry in hot canola oil in a large fry pan (preheat oil before adding tomato slices). Oil should just slightly cover the entire pan but not be too deep.
7) Flip after a couple of minutes. Should be crispy on each side but not burned.
8) Remove to plate covered with a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Delicious as a side dish or appetizer. One medium tomato makes about 8 slices.

  • Note – I decided the quest to make a dish from each state in the U.S. was not a quest I wanted to undertake at this time after all.

I have a friend from Arkansas and she told me they eat a lot of fried foods there. When I researched the native foods, I found that soybeans are a big crop. It seemed logical then to feature fried tofu as a featured recipe from Arkansas.

Fried Tofu

Fried Tofu

Fried tofu is delicious, high in protein and can be served with stir fries or as the main course with other veggies or rice.

Fried Tofu
1 package extra firm tofu (about 14 oz.)
1-2 tbsp. canola oil
1-2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce (optional)
1) Take tofu from package and pat dry with paper towels. Continue patting dry until paper towels are no longer absorbing water from the tofu. You may need to leave the tofu, wrapped in paper towels for up to 30 minutes and come back to it.
2) Divide the tofu into eight pieces, about 1 1/2 inches thick.

3) Heat oil in large frying pan to medium-high. If you plan to use it in an Asian recipe, add the soy sauce. Add the tofu slices and fry for about 5 minute on each side. Remove to plate lined with paper towel to absorb any oil. Serve as desired.

* This is week 5 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015.

Note – I decided the quest to make a dish from every state in the U.S. was not one I wanted to take on at that time!


Crispy Chiimichangas with black bean filling

Crispy Chiimichangas with black bean filling

I had never made chimichangas before but I liked the sound of them: yummy rice, beans, corn rolled up into a crispy tortilla and served with guacamole and salsa. They are not hard to make. This version is vegan and because they are baked in a hot oven instead of fried in oil, they have less fat. Even though baked, not fried, they still turned out crispy and delicious.

Chimichangas

1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup brown rice, cooked
¼ cup black olives, sliced
½ cup corn kernels – frozen works well
2 tbsp. green chilies (you can buy these canned)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves or ½ tbsp.. dried cilantro
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper (to taste)
5 or 6 whole wheat taco size tortillas

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  1. Mix together all ingredients except tortillas.
  2. Scoop about 2/3 cup of filling into the first tortilla. Fold the ends over and roll up the tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
  4. Place chimichangas on the cookie sheet, seam side down. Brush with olive oil.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, turn tortillas over and brush other side with olive oil. Return to oven for another 5 minutes. Should be crispy and light brown.
  6. Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Serves 2 to 3 people, depending on appetites.

Chimichangas with fresh cilantro and avocado slices

Chimichangas with fresh cilantro and avocado slices

 

* This is week 4 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015.

 

Week 3* – Alaska: Borscht


Crock pot of Borscht

Crock pot of Borscht

What type of foods do they eat in Alaska? I would guess they eat a lot of hot soup because it’s cold. When I researched info about Alaskan cuisine online, Borscht came up several times. Makes sense because Alaska is only separated from Russia by a narrow body of water, and Russians and East Europeans, including the Polish, favor this dish.

Borscht is a hearty, nourishing hot soup. It contains a powerhouse of healthy ingredients. I found several recipes online and created a version for the crock pot. It turned out great. I highly recommend this savory soup for a cold winter evening.

Borscht

2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/3 head of green cabbage, chopped
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup (about ½ can) white beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup canned beets, cut into bite-sized pieces
32 oz. container of low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp. chopped dill
1 tsp. onion powder
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper

  1. Place all ingredients except canned beans and beets into crock pot. Stir to mix them together. Set to low heat and cover. Crock for about 5-6 hours.
  2. About 20 minutes before serving, add the white beans and beets.
  3. Serve. Delicious with a veggie Reuben sandwich!
    Makes enough soup for about six or seven people.
Hot bowl of Borscht and a veggie Reuben sandwich

Hot bowl of Borscht and a veggie Reuben sandwich

* This is week 3 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015. Since there are 50 states and 52 weeks, the first week is a Native American recipe and the last week will be a holiday recipe. Inspiration for my quest came from Chris Guillebeau and his recent book The Happiness of Pursuit. Check them out!


Collard Greens, Southern-style

Collard Greens, Southern-style

Last week, I started my quest to feature a dish or meal from each U.S. state over the course of the year. Since there are 50 states and 52 weeks, I began by featuring a Native American dish. This week is Alabama. I researched recipes of Alabama, and it seems sweet potatoes, grits and collard greens are some of the popular foods. This week’s featured recipe is Southern-style Collard Greens. The recipe was provided by a Southern friend of mine.

Collards are a healthy, inexpensive whole food. They are believed to help prevent cancer and another star health benefit is their ability to lower cholesterol. They also are a good source of fiber. Collards have been a staple in Southern American cooking for many years, but have actually been a part of the human diet for thousands of years. Find out what you’ve been missing by cooking up a kettle of collards tonight!

Southern-style Collard Greens

Large bunch of collards, cleaned and chopped

½ large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp. crushed red pepper

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp. celery seed

2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth

Olive oil

  1. Saute 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in large kettle on medium high heat. Once softened, add garlic and sauté a minute more. Add crushed red pepper and other seasonings.
  2. Add collards and stir. Pour in vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 35 minutes.
  3. Add salt & pepper to taste.
Lovely large collard leaves

Lovely large collard leaves


Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

Sweet Potato Corn Chowder
with Black Beans and Spinach

While researching the foods of Native Americans, corn kept appearing as a common ingredient. Other vegetables eaten by early Native Americans included sweet potatoes, squash and beans.  I thought about making a fry bread, which seems to be a popular Native American recipe, but decided instead to make a chowder. I used ingredients that would have been available to Native Americans hundreds of years ago.

The chowder turned out great. I put all of the ingredients in the slow cooker and cooked it on low for about five hours. Native Americans might have left it stewing over a fire for a while and gotten the same effect.  This is a heart-healthy, gluten-free, vegan dish. Enjoy.

Sweet Potato/Corn Chowder with Black Beans and Spinach

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into square chunks
1 cup frozen baby corn
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh baby spinach
½ onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tbsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. cilantro
1 tbsp. parsley
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt & Pepper

  1. Place all ingredients except spinach and black beans into crock pot.
  2. Cook in the crock pot on low heat for about 5 hours.
  3. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the black beans and spinach.

Makes 3 servings.

* This is week 1 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015. Since there are 50 states and 52 weeks, the first week is a Native American recipe and the last week will be a holiday recipe. Inspiration for my quest came from Chris Guillebeau and his recent book The Happiness of Pursuit. Check them out!

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