Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This recipe is adapted from one in Bishop, _The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook_ (1997). The original recipe required oil to saute the onion, carrot, celery and garlic first. You can do that if you prefer. It also assumed you’d be working from scratch and cooking the lentils from dried ones. I pre-cook mine and freeze until needed, so . . .


1 medium onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 celery rib/stalk, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups drained canned whole tomatoes, chopped (probably a 14-oz can - I used what was left of my larger sized can)
4-1/2 cups cooked brown lentils (home cooked or canned. It’d be about 3 cans, I think.)
1/2 tsp cayenne (it really gives the lentils a zing)
2-3 Tbsp fresh parsley, minced
salt to taste

In a large pot, put the onion, carrot, celery and garlic with a little stock over high heat until the veggies are soft. Add all the other ingredients except the salt and parsley. Add half a cup or more of stock. (I used the liquid saved from cooking the lentils.)

Bring the mixture to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for around 10 or 15 minutes, until the flavours have had time to blend nicely and all the liquid has evaporated. You should keep an eye on this and add more stock if it evaporates too quickly and stir from time to time. (You’ll figure it out.)

Stir in the parlsey and salt to taste. Serve with crusty bread and salads.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


This was our lunch today, accompanied by red lentil dhal and a salad of cucumber, tomato and onion. Decadent!


This lovely recipe was inspired by one by Madhur Jaffrey - and its origin is of course Indian. The serving size of this dish is easily adjustable, and you can of course play with the spices a bit. This recipe served the two of us generously, and, if doubled or trippled, would keep nicely in the refrigerator for leftovers. It uses garlic but no onion. NOTE: If you prefer your cooking non-fat, omit the oil (I do) and simply throw everything in together - it works just fine, believe it or not!

For Two Persons:

2 Tbsp chopped ginger root
2-3 cloves garlic
t tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne or more (to taste)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (or as little as you can get away with) - can be omitted, as per note above.
1/4 tsp brown mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
5 oz (80 g) fresh okra/bindi/ladyfingers, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch diagonal slices
1 - 5 oz red potato (80 g) - boiled - in 1-in. cubes
2 or 3 canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 - 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup coriander leaves / cilantro, chopped, for serving
water as per instructions below

Boil the potato, assemble the spices, trim and slice the okra/bindi. Put the ginger and garlic into a small blender container with a Tbsp of water and blend into a paste, add the next four spices and mix well in a small bowl and reserve.

Select a skillet that will hold all ingredients and add the cooking oil over medium-high heat, then add the mustard and cumin seeds. The mustard seeds will quickly start to pop (stand back!), so turn down the heat to medium-low and add that spice paste you have made (previous paragraph). Give it a quick stir for a few seconds then add the potatoes, okra, tomatoes, salt, lemonjuice, sugar and 1/4 cup water (or a tad more, stirring well to coat all ingredients in the flavours. When the mixture starts to simmer, immediately turn the heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes on low. Test the okra for tenderness (it should not be overcooked) and stir again. The dish will be moist but not runny, the potatoes having thickened the sauce and all the spices, tomatoes, etc., will have coated the vegetables.

Serve hot, garnished with the chopped coriander leaves / cilantro, with basmati rice (we use brown), dhal, and perhaps a small salad / kachumbar dish.

Looks great - good enough to eat - and tastes heavenly.

Monday, February 26, 2007


I made this for our evening meal - it is deliciously creamy without being sinful! We like that :)

(Low Fat)

Serves 4, but can easily be doubled.

2 cups good vegetable stock, homemade preferred
1 cup cabbage, shredded
8 oz. potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chopped leeks (a mild onion also works well - I’ve tried both)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce (read the label - no anchovies)
1/4 tsp caraway seeds
1-1/2 cups soymilk (I used light soymilk, but you could go all out and use regular)
1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch and enough water to dissolve
freshly ground black pepper to taste
salt to taste if needed (much will depend on your veg stock)
dash tabasco sauce (if you dislike it, skip it, but it gives a lovely little tang)
Garnish: a little fresh chopped chive or parsley or herb of choice.

Heat the stock over medium-high heat and add the vegetables. Reduce heat and simmer until tender.

Add the Dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, caraway seeds, stir well and simmer a few more minutes to blend all flavours. The result may be thick, so watch that it doesn’t burn or catch on the bottom of the pan.

Remove soup from heat. Take half the soup from the pan and puree in a blender with some of the soymilk. Return puree to pan and stir well with the remaining soup. Add the remaining soymilk and the cornstarch mix. Bring the soup back to the simmer and stir carefully until heated through and thickened by the cornstarch. Taste and add the tabasco and salt (if used) and pepper and give one last stir for luck!

Garnish and serve.


This is easy, and it can be made no fat, which is the way we do it.
It makes a tasty side dish or a light lunch with rice.

To Serve Two (Can be doubled or tripled for more):

1/2 lb fresh green beans - trim but leave whole
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 oz sliced fresh mushrooms, your choice
1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper to taste.

Add beans to boiling water and cook until barely tender over
high heat - around 4 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, cook your onion in a little stock or water
until softish and then add the mushrooms and tomato and
stir until the mushrooms have released their liquid, around 5
minutes. By now your beans will be more than ready.

Add the drained green beans, salt and pepper (if used) and
toss beans in the mushroom mix until beans are reheated.
Serve warm.

Tastes even better than the sum of its parts! :)

Sunday, February 25, 2007


This dish is what we had for lunch today - it is a quick fix and has the virtue not only of using up what's left in the fridge but also being healthy, low-cal and almost fat-free :)

This used to be a standby with us for those days when we seemed to have a bit of this and a bit of that needing to be used before we pressed on to making new dishes. A friend reminded me of it recently, so here I was at lunchtime today making my low-fat version of -


- serves 2 generously (ie. we had a serving left over)

1/3 lb extra-firm low-fat tofu, frozen, thawed, squeezed & cut in 1/2-in cubes.* Do the squeezing and cubing first, then set tofu aside.
1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 large rib/stalk celery, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper/capsicum, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
6 white mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 Thai red chiles, finely chopped (you may want more)
1/2 large (28-oz) can tomatoes, chopped, with juice
healthy shake or two of oregano
1 tsp cummin
1/4 tsp cayenne - or more :)
1/4 tsp ‘liquid smoke’ (you can leave this out, but it is nicer in)
1 cup cooked brown rice
salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish? - I used some green onions

* THE TOFU: If you freeze it, it gets a wonderful texture. You will need to squeeze out excess water after it defrosts. Be kind to it.

Put the onions, garlic, chiles in a large skillet over medium-high heat with a little liquid (water or stock) until the mushrooms are translucent. Add all the other vegetables and seasonings and stir well.

Stir in the rice then carefully stir in tofu without breaking it up.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook covered for around 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the vegetables are just cooked. NOTE: you should check about half way through the cooking - you may need to remove the lid to finish the evaporation of the liquid. Garnish and serve.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Chickpea Gumbo

The recipe is not mine to give, but I can point you to the website where I found it :) Go to:

for a wonderful recipe for Chickpea Gumbo (the chickpeas/garbanzos stand in for seafood here). It is absolutely delicious. I made it in the fat-free version also suggested and it worked splendidly, but those who are not concerned with such things could, I'm sure, try the original with oil for the sautee.

There's a great illustration of it on the site, which is just as well since my own attempts at a photo came out decidedly blurry! It serves as proof of my good intentions only LOL

Friday, February 23, 2007

BORSCHT (Russian Beet and Cabbage Soup)

It is the long simmering which makes this simple recipe especially good. It can also be served chilled, of course. Although borscht (of which this is a version) is not usually pureed, this makes it extra special and suitable for family or dinner party fare. Surprisingly, this also freezes well.

BORSCHT (Russian Beet and Cabbage Soup)

750 g (1-1/2 lb) raw beet/beetroot, peeled and diced OR same of cooked*
1 small cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 small carrot, chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 onions, chopped
1.5 litres (2-1/2 pints or 6 US cups) vegetable stock (homemade if you
have it)
sea salt to taste (depending on the salitiness of your stock)
freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 Tbsp vinegar (taste carefully as you add it)
vegan yoghurt or vegan sour 'creme' for garnish
grated cucumber for garnish

Put all the vegetables in a large pan and add the stock. Bring to the
boil and simmer for 2 hours. (You could also do this in a crockpot or slow

Put the soup in a blender in batches, season with salt and pepper and
add a Tbsp of vinegar, then another half Tbsp depending on your taste. Reheat
gently, garnish with the 'creme' and grated cucumber. Serves 6.

*If you are lazy like me, you may want to boil beets up one day - to use
for another dish - and reserve the amount of beets needed for this soup.
In that case, I like to boil the beets in their skins and then plunge them into
cold water. That way the skins just slip off - far less trouble and less
mess. Then you can add the cooked beets to the other ingredients as above.
The soup is good either way.


Thursday, February 22, 2007


Here's something I've only made a couple of times - and it keeps getting better!


Serves 6 to 8.

1 lge onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or to taste)
2 - 10-oz pgkgs frozen chopped spinach, cooked and squozen as dry as possible*
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil or 1 Tbsp dried
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, reconstituted and finely chopped
4 or 5 mushrooms, finely chopped
pinch of crushed chiles or to taste (optional, but we like it)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 cups water and 3 cups vegetable broth (low sodium)
2 cups polenta or coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
Fresh basil leaves for garnish (optional)
2 cups favourite pasta sauce (optional)

*I thawed the spinach, did not cook it, but squeezed it very dry.

Set your oven to 375 F. Oil a 10-inch pie dish and set aside.

Heat a couple of Tbsp water in a skillet on medium, and soften the onion in it, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they give up a little liquid. Add half the garlic and cook for another minute and the sundried tomatoes and cook for another minute.

Put in the spinach together with the chopped or dried basil, if using, the salt and pepper and
stir well with the other ingredients for a minute or two.

Bring the combined 6 cups of water and broth to a boil over high heat in a LARGE pot. Slowly add the polenta, whisking it in so that it doesn’t go into lumps - or use a wooden spoon, stirring all the while. Reduce heat to a bare simmer. Stir in the remaining garlic and salt. Cover the pan and cook, stirring now and then, around 15 minutes or until the polenta is cooked. Remove from the heat but leave it covered for about 5 minutes.

Immediately spoon half of the polenta into your prepared pie plate. You will need to use the back of a large spoon to press it down and smooth it out nicely. Spoon the spinach filling over the top of the polenta ‘piecrust’ - to within 1/2 inch of the outside rim of the polenta. Put the remaining polenta on top, carefully spreading it (I used my fingers) and smooth the surface with the back of your big spoon.

Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 mins or until the top begins to brown a little. Remove from oven and let it settle for another 15 minutes.

Cut into wedges, garnish and accompany with the sauce if you are using it.

Can be assembled a day before actually baking it. Reheats nicely.

River is Baaaaack!

Okay, so I have shamelessly ignored the existence of this blog for two months now. What to do? Carry on, my dears, carry on!

Recipes coming up! Hugs all round.

RETROSPECTIVE NOTE TO THIS POST: I have just realized that I forgot to note that last year's posts - 2006 - such as they were, were low-fat recipes but not fat-free. The new year 2007 found me cooking almost completely fat-free, and the recipes from this point on reflect this change.

Love, River