Vegan Food Nerd


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Harvest vegetable stew

20141016_173321I’m sorry that I haven’t been posting very frequently this month. Life has been busy! We’re still cooking lots but I haven’t been taking the time to write down recipes and take pictures. However, this is the perfect season for a nice hearty stew so I wanted to put something together that is easy, yummy and filling that tastes like autumn in a bowl!

We have been getting bounty bags from the Mustard Seed Co-op that include a variety of local fruits and veggies and we had quite a bit left to use up after Thanksgiving, so I came up with this dish. I also used some leftover seitan roast we had made for Thanksgiving, and it went really well here. You can use your favourite veggie sausage chopped up instead, or make your own, or just leave it out! I apologize for not posting this last week when I made it in case you had some leftovers too.

Notes:

  • The tomato paste and balsamic vinegar in this dish really add to the flavour of the stew and will help round out the flavours. The added acidity they add is something I wouldn’t skip!
  • I used a mixture of mushroom and vegetable broths, but would recommend any stronger flavoured broths for this.
  • I wanted to add some chopped fresh pumpkin as well, but forgot that it was sitting on the counter!
  • My stew thickened up really nicely just by adding the lentils into the pot and letting them simmer in the pot for another 5 minutes or so. If you don’t find your stew is thick enough add a little cornstarch dissolved in water.

Ingredients

1 large leek (or 2 medium) cut into strips or small pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch piece ginger root, minced
1 small acorn squash, peeled and cubed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3-5 small potatoes, cubed
1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced 1/4″ thick
2 celery stalks, 1/4″ pieces
2 tbsp freshly chopped herbs (sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried savory
1 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups veg broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
1 cup leftover seitan, cubed (optional)
2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1) Saute leeks in 1 tbsp of olive oil until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and stir and saute another minute, until fragrant.

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2) Add veggies (squash, sweet potato, potato, parsnip, carrot, celery) and saute 5 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.

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3) Add veggie broth, herbs, smoked paprika, coriander, savory and tomato paste and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmerand cook uncovered about 15 minutes, or until veggies are fork tender. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. If veggies are not tender after 15 minutes, cover and allow to simmer another 5-10 minutes.

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4) Once veggies are tender, add lentils, seitan, vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.

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5) Heat through, simmering, about 5 minutes more. The addition of the lentils should thicken your stew up nicely. Check for salt and seasonings.

6) Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving to allow flavours to meld together. Serve with crusty bread!

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Beet soup

20140925_182859I wanted to call this a borscht, but I’m not entirely sure if it can be classified as one. I mean there are some beets puréed into a delicious soup here, but I threw in a few extra veggies I had in the fridge that I don’t think are normally found in borscht. Regardless, this is really, really delicious. I love the earthy flavour beets lend to the soup, as well as the crazy colour!

This soup comes together fairly quickly, as long as you cook your beets ahead of time. I cooked the beets the day before and peeled and cut them as the veggies were simmering away. Delicious soup in minimal time is always a great goal!

Notes:

  • Steam or boil your beats until they are soft. This helps bring out their sweetness!
  • The agave helps to balance the soup flavours – use coconut sugar or other sweetener if you prefer. Or leave it out entirely.
  • My onion was really big – the soup doesn’t get overly oniony or anything though.
  • Feel free to make your own sour cream – I just didn’t have time to!
  • Serve with some crusty bread.

Ingredients

1 large white onion, diced
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
3 small carrots, sliced
3 small purple potatoes, cubed
2-3 large stalks of celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth (I used mushroom)
4 cups of cooked beets, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp hot paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice from half a lemon
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp agave syrup (optional)
1/4 cup almond milk
Veg sour cream for garnish (I used Tofutti brand)

20140925_17132620140925_1713071) Preheat a large heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. Add olive oil, onions and a few pinches of salt and saute until onions are translucent, about 5-6 minutes.

2) Add carrots, celery, red pepper and garlic and continue sauteing for a few minutes longer. Add potatoes, broth, paprika and some freshly ground black pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove lid and lower heat – allow vegetables to simmer for about 15 minutes or until they are tender.

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3) Add beets, tomato paste, lemon juice and agave and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the beets are heated through.

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4) Remove from heat and use a hand blender to puree the soup with the almond milk until very smooth. Taste for salt and seasonings and add more salt and pepper if needed. If your soup is thicker than you’d like add some more almond milk.

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5) Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving to allow flavours to develop. Serve garnished with more black pepper and a dollop of vegan sour cream.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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delicious, even if it does start to look a bit like a crime scene as you eat it..


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Sausage and dumpling dill stew

20140923_175206This is one of my favourite stew recipes from Isa over at theppk.com. Her Dilly Stew with Rosemary Dumplings is just so delicious and perfect for the first day of fall (or any day in the fall/winter). I made a few small changes by adding some Field Roast apple and sage veggie sausages as well as some cauliflower, but otherwise was pretty true to the original recipe. You must make either Isa’s original version, or the version below if you want to eat delicious, comforting food. And I know you do!

Notes:

  • Slice and saute your veggie sausages first for some additional flavour.
  • The original recipe calls for sweet paprika, but I used hot and smoked paprikas instead for a nice change.
  • Instead of using all AP flour as was called for in the original recipe, I used a mixture of flours that produced a much lighter and fluffier dumpling. Use all AP flour if you prefer a denser dumpling!
  • I cooked my roux for an extra minute, and cooked the onions until the flour was quite dark – my goal was to add more flavour to the stew which worked here. I have made this recipe quite a few times, and cooking your roux for the normal amount of time is also delicious.

Ingredients

Stew:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 medium sized sweet onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth, at room temperature
2 stalks celery, tops removed, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 pounds potato, in 3/4 inch chunks (about 2 1/2 to 3 cups)
2 1/2 cups cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
1 large carrot, 1/4″ slice on the bias
1 tbsp fresh thyme, or 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp hot paprika
Fresh.y ground black pepper
1 15 oz can white beans, rinsed and drained (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage sausages, cut into 1/2″ slices

Dumplings:

1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cake/pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoons dried rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or soy)
2 tablespoons olive oil

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Directions

1) Preheat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and sprinkle in the flour to make a roux. Use a wooden spoon or wooden spatula to toss the flour in the oil, stirring consistently, for 3-4 minutes. The flour should be clumpy and toasty.

2) Add the onion and salt and toss to coat the onions completely in the flour mixture. As the onions release moisture, they will coat more and more. Cook this way for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and stir for 30 more seconds or so.

20140923_1700523) Stream in the vegetable broth, whisking constantly to prevent clumping. Add the celery, potatoes, carrot, cauliflower, dill, thyme, paprika and black pepper, then turn the heat up and cover to bring to a boil. Keep a close eye and stir often, so that it doesn’t clump or boil over.

20140923_1705084) Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and let cook uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stew is nicely thickened and the potatoes and carrots are tender.

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5) In the meantime, prepare the dumplings. Sift the flour, baking powder, pepper and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the rosemary. Make a well in the center and add the milk and olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until a wet dough forms.

6) Heat a cast iron skillet with a little bit of olive oil and brown your sausage pieces.

6) When the stew is ready, mix in the beans and veggie sausage and plop dough right on top of the stew in spoonfuls. You should get about 13-14 dumplings.

20140923_1730417) Cover the pot tightly and cook for about 14 more minutes. The dumplings should be nice and firm. Use your ladle to dunk them into the stew to coat.

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8) Ladle stew into bowls, topped with dumplings. And serve!

Makes 6-8 servings.

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Lentil curry (a veggie packed dahl)

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So first thing’s first. Sometimes recipes don’t work out the way you intend them too. Sometimes, you plan and you put in lots of meticulous effort, and still…something goes wrong. Many times that means ruining a recipe, but in some cases you end up with a happy accident! That may be what happened here. What was supposed to be a red lentil curry soup, ended up as a puréed curry with a side of spiced rice (see notes), and it was absolutely delicious. Not at all what I had intended to make, but still lovely to eat!

This all started when I realized I was out of the red lentils I needed for the soup and subbed them with yellow split peas. I don’t remember yellow split peas taking eons to cook (and the package said they only needed 25-30 minutes to boot) yet mine just didn’t want to cook down. So this meant the soup had to stay on the stove so long that the veggies got way too mushy to be eaten as soup. I thought the hand blender would salvage the giant pot of gorgeous veggies and aromatic spices, and it worked out fine! This all got blended up and tasted like a really delicious Indian dahl dish. So, if that’s what you would also like, follow the instructions below.

Notes:

  • If you would rather have a soup, use red lentils as they will break down much more quickly and you’ll end up with the perfect veggies. Or, even with red lentils, go ahead and puree the batch for a curry. Yellow split peas don’t normally take an hour to cook like they did for me, so either ingredient should work fine for you!
  • I served this with brown basmati rice flavoured with cardamom and cloves. Cook your rice as per the package instructions, but throw in a handful of cloves and green cardamom pods when you add your rice to the water. For 1 cup of rice I used about 13-14 cloves and 7-8 cardamom pods. I also used a tsp or two of coconut oil to prevent sticking. The rice had a great flavour that contrasted well with the curry. (Just remember to remove the cloves and pods before serving)
  • We also ate the curry and the rice with some onion bhajis. Yum!
  • This makes a large vat, so halve the recipe if you don’t want a bunch of leftovers.

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp minced, fresh ginger
1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp saffron turmeric
1/2 large head cauliflower (8 cups)
2 small red potatoes
2 small sweet potatoes
1 cup yellow split peas or red lentils
8 cups vegetable broth (or 6 cups of broth, 2 cups of water)
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups packed greens such as kale and swiss chard
chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for serving

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Directions

1) In a large pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent, 4-5 minutes.

2) Add fresh ginger and garlic and heat for another 30 seconds – 1 minute, stirring, until fragrant. Add spice mixture (I like to get mine all measured out in a ramekin so it’s ready to go) and add to the pot. Cook for another minute or two, stirring, to toast the spices.

20140918_17060520140918_1711083) Add 6 cups of the vegetable broth, and the red lentils or yellow split peas to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes longer. Simmer for 10 minutes if using split peas.

20140918_1718404) Add cauliflower and potatoes. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until veggies are tender. If you need more liquid, add more broth or more water to the pot. If using red lentils they should have broken down after 25 minutes and you can go ahead and enjoy this as a soup. If not, keep cooking until everything is cooked. You can puree or not depending on your preference.

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5) Taste for salt and seasonings, adding more as desired. Add greens and cook until wilted. Stir in freshly ground black pepper.

6) Either ladle into bowls and enjoy as a soup (even the pureed version), or serve with rice. Garnish as desired.

Makes around 8 servings

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Lentil and cashew stuffed peppers

20140911_172625Stuffed peppers are the go to dish served at weddings here when I ask for the vegan option (well, that or a stir fry). One time I even got served a pepper stuffed with rice that came with a side of rice. Despite all of the mediocre stuffed peppers I’ve had over the years, I still think of this dish fondly. My mom made a mean stuffed pepper growing up and I wanted to create something that had a slightly different flavour profile. These stuffed peppers are protein packed and super yummy and would make a great main entree on their own or served with a salad or some roasted veggies on the side.

Notes:

  • You will have some leftover filling depending on the size of your peppers – it’s great just eaten with a spoon!
  • I used two small baking dishes and so I fit half the peppers in each dish – feel free to use one large baking dish of course.
  • I had cooked extra white rice the day before but feel free to use brown rice for the added health factor
  • My family gets together to make big batches of tomato sauce every year so I used that which makes this a bit faster to put together. I would either make some sauce ahead of time, or quickly cook up some pureed tomatoes with seasonings of your choice to use for this.
  • I also cooked the lentils ahead of time. With the rice, lentils and sauce ready to go, these are a snap to get into the oven!

Ingredients

2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
3 green bell peppers
1 small onion diced
3/4 cup of raw cashews
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 kale leaves, stems removed and ripped into small pieces
1 small fennel bulb
1 cup grated veg mozzarella plus more for topping (optional)
2 tsp capers
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp basil
1/2 tsp salt
3 tbsp of olive oil, divided
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cup tomato sauce for filling
approx 2 cups tomato sauce for baking dish and to top peppers

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1) Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut peppers in half and remove seeds and any white membrane. Drizzle both sides with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and sprinkle some salt on both sides of each pepper half. Bake peppers, cut side up on a cookie sheet or in a baking dish for 15-20 minutes. The idea is to get them partially cooked.

20140911_1646412) Cut fennel into bite size pieces and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and add salt and pepper to season. Roast for 10 minutes, flip, then roast for an additional 10 minutes or until lightly browned.

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3) Preheat a large pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of the olive oil. Add onion and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring to coat. Add cashews and continue cooking with the onion until they are slightly browned (5 mins or so).

4) Reduce heat and add spices, herbs, salt and pepper and stir. Continue to cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add kale and garlic and cook until wilted. Add lentils and roasted fennel and stir to heat through.

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5) Put cooked rice in a bowl and cover with hot lentils and vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Add 1 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce, capers, and veggie cheese if using and mix together. Taste the mixture for salt and seasonings.

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6) Place a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking dish and add partially cooked peppers (cut side up).

7) Divide your stuffing amongst the peppers, making sure to push the filling into the corners. They should be heaping!

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8) Top each pepper with a few spoonfuls of tomato sauce.

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9) Cover your baking dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and check to see that the sauce is bubbling and the peppers are steaming – if not recover and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes. Once your peppers are just about done, top with a bit of the veggie cheese and return to the oven uncovered for 10 minutes.

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10) Serve immediately but be careful because they will be quite hot!

Serves 3-6 depending on your appetites.


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Homemade italian veggie sausages

20131002_180741When I’m in a pinch, or feeling particularly lazy, I have no problem buying some Tofurky or Field Roast veggie sausages to throw on the grill or in the cast iron pan. However, it really is so much cheaper to make them yourself (and healthier to boot since you can control the ingredients) that everyone should have a staple veggie sausage recipe at home. They are so simple to make and come together pretty quickly, and can even be frozen easily so that you can have some on hand for a quick meal. Isa over at theppk.com has some great sausage recipes and I adapted the following from her!

Notes:

  • These are pretty adaptable so you can flavour them how you prefer. I’ve also used red kidney beans or pinto beans and they all work well.

Directions and Ingredients

1) Mash 1/2 cup (plus a tbsp) rinsed, drained canned white beans in a large bowl

2) Add in the following order:
1 cup water
1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsps liquid braggs
1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp pureed garlic
2 tsps white miso
1 tsp herbamere
1 1/2 tsps ground fennel seed
1/4 tsp homemade dried chili pepper (1/2 tsp red pepper flakes would also work)
1 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
fresh black pepper to taste

3) Mix with a fork until well combined. Knead briefly with hands and separate dough into 4 equal portions. Get your steaming apparatus ready as the water should start boiling by the time you have everything rolled up.

4) Roll each portion into a log and wrap in tin foil. The dough is a bit mushy but will snap into shape while steaming so no need to be a perfectionist. Just make sure there are no tears in the foil or you’ll end up with some oddly shaped sausages.

5) Steam for about 45 minutes then remove from foil and saute in a cast iron skillet in a bit of olive oil to brown on all sides. They should also cook up nicely on the grill.

Makes 4 veggie sausages.


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Roasted Veggie Buddha Bowl

20130918_182023The great thing about buddha bowls is you can really adapt them based on what is in season, what you happen to have in your kitchen, and of course what you love to eat. Two of my favourite roasted vegetables are cauliflower and sweet potato. I love how the cauliflower takes on a bit of a nuttiness from roasting, with some delicious carmelization to boot. I served the veggies with some red quinoa, spinach and arugula, and a lemony white bean sauce. It’s a great quick meal that also tastes great the next day!

Notes:

  • This recipe is mega adaptable. Besides the vegetables, add a bean or grain, some greens and a sauce to top it off with. The greens can be raw or steamed/sautéed. The options are plentiful! 
  • I didn’t cook the greens in this recipe but the hot veggies and quinoa wilted them a little bit.
  • If you happen to have any leftovers, you may have to thin the sauce a bit with some water the next day as it can thicken in the fridge overnight.

Ingredients

1 sweet potato, cut into cubes
1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 cup of uncooked quinoa (I used red)
1 cup of spinach
1 cup of arugula
1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Lemony White Bean Sauce

1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 large lemon, juiced
1-2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp of sea salt
2-4 tbsp of water to thin the sauce
drizzle of olive oil (optional)

20130918_1820291) Preheat oven to 400 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) Cook quinoa according to package instructions or use my method outlined here. Rinse quinoa in a colander and drain. Preheat a medium sized pot over medium heat and add 1/2 tbsp of olive oil. Add quinoa and stir to coat. Continue stirring frequently to toast quinoa – it should brown a little. Add 2 cups of water or veggie stock and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until water is all used up. Stir with a fork to fluff quinoa and keep it covered until ready to serve.

3) Toss cauliflower and sweet potato with 1-2 tbsp of olive oil (enough to coat the veggies lightly) and salt and pepper and add to baking sheets in a single layer.

4) Roast veggies for 15 minutes, turn and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until browned and to your preferred tenderness. If your cookie sheets don’t fit in your oven side by side, be sure to switch the rack they are on when you flip the veggies (they may also need some extra time for browning).

5) To serve: Divide greens amongst your serving plates/bowls, top with a few scoops of quinoa, cauliflower and sweet potato, and drizzle with white bean sauce (recipe follows). Serve with extra sauce on the side because it’s hard not to go back for more!

Serves 3-4

Lemony White Bean Sauce

1) Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender, minus the water, and blend until smooth and creamy. You can add more lemon, garlic or salt to suit your own tastes. If it seems thick, add water 1 tbsp at a time until it reaches desired consistency.