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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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.