Vegan Food Nerd


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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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Burrito Bowl with cuban style black beans

20140822_175446Burritos are definitely easy to make vegan with rice and beans and loads of veggies. There’s also this great soya cheese that you can find at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market that melts and adds a great cheddar taste. I have tried other non dairy cheeses in the past, and this is definitely my favourite option and has made a world of difference to grilled cheese sandwiches, pizzas (the plain soya is like a mozzarella) and of course, burritos! The only problem is that I recently looked up the brand’s ingredients and discovered they use casein (a protein derived from milk) in their soy cheeses. Most vegans would say that this cheese is off limits due to this. While I try to be vegan as much as possible and avoid dairy, I still eat this soya cheese from time to time because it’s still a great tasting product and doesn’t hurt my stomach.

This burrito bowl allows you to throw in all the fixings without then struggling to wrap it and try to bite into it without everything spilling out. I like to eat with a fork until there’s a manageable amount of filling, and then wrap up what’s left in my bowl for an easy/clean/delicious finish! The awesome thing is that you can also make this with whatever fillings you like and have available. I made this particular version with cuban style black beans, cilantro lime rice, chipotle veggie ground, steamed sweet potatoes and a few veggies to top it with. I don’t use veggie ground often at all, but it tasted good with the rest of the fillings.

Notes:

  • There are quite a few steps, but you can still easily get this on the table fairly quickly. I made this for a quick/easy meal one night but the steps can seem a bit daunting.
  • Put the rice on first as it takes the longest and once it’s covered you don’t want to open it again until it’s done anyways. Then get your beans cooking – the longer they cook, the more flavours they will absorb. I happen to have a steamer that fits on a few of my pots, so I chose to steam my sweet potatoes using the beans and their liquid. This saves time and a burner on the stove and they should be done cooking when your beans are done. Then prep all of your garnish/toppings and lastly quickly saute your veggie ground. Everything should be ready by the time the rice is finished. You can also cook the rice ahead of time since it will stay warm in a covered pot for about an hour.
  • This is a very quick version of cuban black beans – they still have a lot of flavour without the hours needed cooking dry black beans. You can find a more authentic recipe if that is what you are looking for.

Ingredients:

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups of water
1 no salt added veg bouillon cube
1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
juice from one lime
1 tsp olive oil
1-2 tsp salt (depending on your preference)
pepper to taste

1) Add water to a small or medium sized pot with bouillon cube and bring to a boil.

2) Add rice, cilantro, lime juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

3) Stir and cover and reduce heat to allow the rice to simmer. It will take 30-40 minutes to absorb all of the water.

4) When cooked, fluff with a fork. Leave covered if not ready to serve yet so that it stays warm.

Cuban-style black beans and steamed sweet potato

1/2 a large onion, diced
1/2 a green pepper, diced
1 jalapeno diced small, seeds removed (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 an orange
3/4 cup veggie broth
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro
1 tbsp white vinegar (or red wine or apple cider vinegar)
1 lime, freshly juiced
1 large sweet potato cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1) Preheat your pot over medium heat, add oil, onions and green peppers. Saute until onions are translucent. Add jalapeno if using and saute another 2 minutes.

2) Add garlic, and saute another 30 seconds to 1 minute (the garlic will become fragrant). Add oregano, cumin, bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste and stir with the onion mixture.

3) Add veggie broth, beans and squeeze your orange juice into the pot. Throw the orange half into the pot as well to allow the beans to absorb more citrus flavour.

4) Cover pot and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring a few times. If the liquid cooks down too much, feel free to add a bit more water. As mentioned in the notes, this is also when you can steam your sweet potato while the beans are cooking, otherwise steam in a separate apparatus.

5) Remove orange half, and add cilantro, vinegar and lime juice. Stir and taste for salt and seasonings and adjust as needed. Serve immediately, or leave covered until ready to use.

Chipotle Ground Round

1/2 package of yves original ground round
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp chipotle hot sauce of choice (we used Cholula)
or some chopped chipotle peppers would probably work here

1) Saute all ingredients together until browned and heated through.

Garnishes (use any combination you like)

  • chopped raw green pepper
  • red onion, diced small
  • chopped cilantro
  • grated veggie cheese of choice
  • salsa
  • avocado or guacamole
  • cooked corn kernels
  • pico de gallo or just some chopped tomato
  • veg sour cream (such as tofutti or make your own! coconut milk or cashews make a great base and there are lots of recipes out there)
  • hot sauce!

Build your bowl

Use a large bowl and line with a large whole wheat flour tortilla briefly warmed up in the microwave. Add a few spoonfuls of the rice, top with a few spoonfuls of the beans, some sweet potato, ground round and whatever garnishes you prefer.

Makes 3-4 large servings. Any of the recipes here can easily be doubled as well if you want leftovers or have more mouths to feed.