Monday, February 22, 2010

Bean-Stuffed Acorn Squash, Mexican-Spiced Veg on Beans, Faux Chikken Dinner


Right now I am enjoying eating the mostly greens and beans way (with some apologies to Dr Joel Fuhrman since I do enjoy my spices and other condiments). I had found a lovely little organic acorn squash at the market, had some home-cooked black beans (unseasoned) in the freezer and a lovely bunch of dinosaur kale in the crisper. This had to make a good meal.

First the squash, which I simply halved and baked, face down and lightly covered, at 350 degrees for around half an hour. While this was happening, I tossed a little onion and garlic into a pan to get the onions to a translucent state (using a little water to sautee, as usual, although I have been known to 'cheat' and use a teaspoon of oil), and added a chopped tomato. In went the black turtle) beans, about 1-1/2 cups, along with a tablespoon of tomato paste from a tube, a tablespoon of organic pure maple syrup, a squirt of Bragg liquid aminos/all-purpose seasoning, a shake or two of thyme and oregano, a sprinkle of red chili flakes and just enough water to let it all simmer while the squash baked. The kale was stripped of its coarse stems, sliced crosswise into ribbons and lightly braised with a little garlic in a very little vegetable stock with a few raisins.

This all came together before I knew it, and with a quick baby spinach and orange salad to start we had a delicious meal. You'll be seeing more of my beans 'n' greens meals in the next little while.

And this one is also about beans, pureed as I like to do sometimes now, with some mixed vegetables. Have a look:


As you see, the beans (I used lima beans here, cooked with garlic, onion, bay and a little chili) are well pureed, not too soupy but placed in a shallow old-fashioned-style soup plate for presentation rather than from need. I water-sauteed broccoli florets with some red bell pepper/capsicum, quartered mushrooms and sliced onion. These I seasoned with Mexican Chili Spice Mix with a little extra cumin and cayenne. When the beans were heated through again after being pureed, the vegetables were ready, with any liquid absorbed. I sprinkled some vegan parmesan-style cheese on top.

This next one does not, however, use beans, but there's still something green there :)


Coming home too close to mealtime meant I reached for a package of PC Meatless Chicken Breasts (the fake meat is made by Gardein, I note). Iit comes in a sealed pouch with sauce included, intended to be microwaved or boiled in the bag, but I pop it into a baking dish in the oven while I do the rest of the meal, although I'll probably reconsider that option if I'm still using it when the weather gets hot. In this case, the baking option worked fine, since I quickly chopped some potatoes and carrots to roast on the same shelf. While this was happening, a salad was in preparation and, while we were consuming that, I put on the water to steam the asparagus you see in the photo. That takes about two or three minutes while the plates are being changed and the glasses recharged.

This fake meat is very tasty, and seems to come in just a couple of flavours (the sauce, remember?). One Tuscan (i.e. tomato and herbs) and the other, which is pictured above, is Dijon (more French and with a mild mustardy sauce). Both are very good. I went for years 'not approving' of faux meats, mainly because I didn't like the taste, I think. Good products have me rethinking me stubbornness, and I do now keep one or two on hand (watching the expiry dates carefully) as a change or for emergency use. This would go well just with a big green salad too.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Chili Almond Asparagus

This is what we had yesterday for lunch - along with some rice and marinated tempeh - and it was so good I am going out for more asparagus so that I can repeat it tomorrow!

The recipe is not mine but was posted in May of last year on the blog of Vegan YumYum here:

Do check it out, because she gives her recipe and very very good directions, including photos, for every step. It's remarkably quick and could be on the table in 10 minutes. It makes an excellent side dish or imho a great light lunch or supper with a salad and/or some crusty bread.

Sadly, I had to deviate at the last minute from her recipe, since I was shockingly out of almonds (used cashews instead) and vegan soup stock powder. Nevertheless, the dish was superb, and I am keen to try it exactly as she intended it, although as ususal scaled down to feed only two persons.

We loved the toasty-roasty crispiness of the vegetables along with the flavour of the nuts and lemon. Truly delightful.

And that's why I'm giving this a post all of its own :)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sushi Rice Salad, Avocado Carrot Sushi Rolls, Miso Soup


When I saw a recipe for Sushi Rice Salad I was unimpressed, but just perhaps it could be interesting (I thought) if I tweaked it a bit and, after all, I did have some left-over sushi rice in the refrigerator . . . .

It was sensational!

I hadn't been able to use all the rice I'd cooked for sushi, and, ever frugal about such things, I'd stuck it in the refrigerator for another day. It was therefore already seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar and salt. I carefully separated it out with a fork (it hadn't clumped together as much as I'd have thought) and put it with a tsp or two of water on low at the back of the stove to heat through. (Next time, though, I'll do it 'properly' and cook the rice fresh and keep it warm until the rest of the 'salad' is made.

I used about half a pound of asparagus, cut in thin rounds, which I stirred around in a skillet in the tiniest bit of oil for around three minutes tops. (I rather like young raw asparagus, the the recipe had said to lightly cook it so I did.) It needs to be still quite firm, I think. The avocado was diced and the seaweed chopped into small pieces. The real trick was a wonderful dressing of wasabi, tamari, miso, lemon juice and zest, and chopped pickled ginger.

With the dressing in a bowl large enough to contain all ingredients with room to toss them, I added the asparagus and avocado, mixed well, then added the warmed rice and tossed it all together carefully. The topping was some lightly toasted sesame seeds.

I found the recipe in Bill Jones, Chef's Salad (2003), which I should add is not a vegetarian cookbook but has lots of good recipes suitable for vegetarians and vegans (and others could be adapted).

I'll be making this 'salad' again and again. Wonderful!


Just for the record, I am continuing with practicing the fine art of rolling my own sushi - so quick once I got the hang of it. I'm working on getting the shape right, sort of squared off, now. These are still rather rounded, and tasted none the worse for that. It's simply strips of avocado and matchsticks of carrot together. These are of course served with wasabi, tamari and pickled ginger. I'm likely to be showing you more and more of these pretty things, so bear with me!

And finally a simple soup:


I had found some miso soup cubes that were vegan (not easy to get cubes or powder without the bonito) and wanted to give them a try. One cube for two of us worked fine, and I added some miso paste too - brown miso, as it happened. After heating the broth with a couple of 'coins' of fresh ginger, a shake of chili flakes and the sliced mushrooms ( mushrooms therefore a little less raw but still good and firm), I added the miso (which I dissolved in a couple or so tablespoons of the broth first), careful not to let it boil. Silken tofu went into the bowls with some shredded baby spinach (just a handful) and a little finely sliced green onion. Next time (which just happens to be this evening, I think) I shall probably add more tofu and also some noodles.

The thing about these kinds of soups is that they are most forgiving. Japanese style is, of course, a little at variance with my own method, but I was working for taste and enjoyment here rather than trying to copy a cuisine. Well, that's my line and I'm sticking to it :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Chilied Asparagus With Quinoa And Tofu

This way of doing asparagus is a hit in our household, since we love Asian-inspired dishes, especially the hot and spicy ones. Here I chose for lunch today to do the asparagus in the quickest possible way, stir-'fried' (without oil and just a little liquid) in a skillet with a little finely chopped ginger and garlic, a dash of low-sodium tamari, a pinch of sugar, dried chili flakes, and to finish about 1/8 tsp of oriental sesame oil put drop by drop over the top of it all. (The dish is originally from Hong Kong via Madhur Jaffrey's excellent Vegetarian World Cuisine.) Traditionally it would be served with rice, but I chose quinoa for its wonderful nutty flavour (not to mention the nutritional value). Additionally I had marinated some firm tofu slices in a little Braggs amino into which I had stirred some cayenne, powdered ginger, garlic granules and onion flakes (I like to use these dried rather than fresh versions for marinades sometimes, but it's a toss-up which I use.) I baked the tofu in the oven until slightly brown and firm. When the tofu was almost ready, we had our salad and then, while the salad plates were being cleared I tossed the asparagus around in the skillet until barely cooked - still crisp is sensational with asparagus. A good meal.

Yesterday, I did a variation on a previous idea (see my last blog entry).

Spiced Limas With Garlic Broccoli

Remember the fava beans? Well, yesterday I cooked white limas, added some dried herbs and spices (including chilies), pureed the lot and served it surrounded by stir-'fried' (as before) broccoli with garlic and just a few chili flakes thrown in for a little bit of interest. Since I had allowed the bean puree to be much thicker than I had used before, I had the fun of piling them up like pureed potatoes in the centre of the plate. The tiny spoonful of liquid remaining the the skillet from cooking the broccoli was drizzled over the beans at the last minute. This was a big hit - and of course almost any vegetable would have worked well here - just trying to get our greens, though, especially at this time of year. And our beans. Hmmmm, what bean to try next I wonder!