Peas and Compassion

Cruelty-free crunchiness and shameless veg-elation.


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VeganMoFo Day 30: I made it! Black Bean Nacho Plate

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I can’t believe it’s the last day of VeganMofo 2014 – I am simultaneously sad and elated. I have had fun reading all the great posts out there, as well as sharing my hideous photos of food (next step: improve kitchen lighting).

This morning I was listening to a great podcast from No Meat Athlete on staying motivated while running, when Matt and Doug gave two separate suggestions to switch up the landscape and double the mileage. So on this evening’s run, I decided to forgo my usual route and strike out in a new direction – with hills! At the end of things it turned out that I’d run about 4.89 miles, which while not doubling my current mileage, did tack on over a good extra mile. But I survived it, just as I have survived my first VeganMoFo!

When I came back home I felt both amazing and ravenous. Therefore, tonight’s dish is the Black Bean and Potato Nacho Plate from Oh She Glows, who is one of my favorite veg bloggers. In lieu of actual nacho chips, you essentially make some rustic home fries/chips from russet potatoes and serve a seasoned black bean filling over top, then add additional toppings of your choosing. (I went with tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, green onions, black olives, and Tofutti sour cream.)

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Basically it’s a cumin-y, salty dish over top of crispy, salty fries – so not exactly blood pressure friendly, but pretty perfect after a good run. Thank you, beautiful carb-laden potatoes and protein-rich beans, for refueling me. Thank you salt, for helping restore lost electrolytes.

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Now that VeganMofo has come to a close, I’ve been pondering what to do with this space. It seems reasonable to keep posting recipes, reviews, and news here from time to time, and I think this is as good a place as any to explore the ideas present in my first post. As far as immediate next steps go, tomorrow is World Vegetarian Day, and I’ll be participating in FARM’s Fast Against Slaughter on October 2nd. I highly recommend Alex Herschaft’s AMA on Reddit for background on that. If you’re interested in participating, you can pledge here. (I’ll be explaining my reasons in an upcoming post.)

That’s it for now – thank you for following along this Month and especially for putting up with my sad photography all month long!


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VeganMofo Day 29: @VeganDivaCooks’ Butternut Bisque

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I am ridiculously happy entering the last days of VeganMoFo; I love writing about vegan food, but 30 straight days of it is a bit exhausting! Also, I’ve lost the “t” key on my keyboard after something sticky got under the key, so it might be time for a small break (the dangers of blogging while cooking!)

Tonight’s dish is another adventure from Mistress Ginger Cooks (@vegandivacooks)- specifically, her Brazen Butternut Bisque. This is a deceptive dish – simple to throw together (at least if you buy your butternut squash pre-chopped, as I do), yet so full of flavor. Also, it’s really pretty to look at, with its cheery golden color.

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Mistress Ginger’s bisque makes use of plenty of butternut squash, pureed until creamy smooth, then garnished with sautéd shittake mushrooms revved up with Old Bay Seasoning (calling up that nostalgic bisque flavor). It also features a dazzling drizzle of paprika-laced toasted sesame-oil.

This dish is so creamy and silky, and it cements my love of shittake mushrooms with their chewy, squishy tops. It’s rich and warming, perfect for a rainy evening – Mistress Ginger obviously knows what she’s doing in the kitchen! Unfortunately I was unable to dress up in a Balenciaga gown while cooking this, per her suggestion, but we did serve this with toasted bread in order to soak up every drop – that’s just as good, right?


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VeganMofo Day 28: Rainbow Jambalaya

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You’ve probably heard the health advice to “eat a rainbow” – it’s sage advice to fill your plate with lots of plant foods, where vibrant colors are often an indicator of the nutrients hiding inside. Tonight’s supper, a plant-packed jambalaya, looked so gorgeous in the pan and is full of so many awesome nutrient-packed veggies that I nicknamed it Rainbow Jambalaya. While it does require a bit of chopping, it also pulls on the prep-friendly tastiness of vegan kielbasa, which you can buy in packs; or if you’re really adventurous and you just want to kick ass in the kitchen, then you can make your own. I personally went for the time-saver, and used good old reliable Tofurky kielbasa:

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Tofurky: Savior of vegans everywhere.

The recipe also calls for cooked brown rice and cooked lentils – I made the rice in advance tonight while I went out for a run, and the lentils I’d prepped earlier in the week for Creamy Seitan-Lentil Pasta. I’m trying to make it a habit to pre-cook grains and beans on the weekends or the night before, so that I’ll have a steady supply on hand during the week.

As for veggies, this one’s packed with onions, celery, red bell pepper, scallions, white button mushrooms, jalopeno, and fresh tomatoes. I’m sure there are others you could throw in for an even more robust meal. This is a good way to clean out your bins. The results are quite pretty:

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In hindsight, I might have added a bit of additional Cajun seasoning, but this was pretty darn good – the kielbasa, mushrooms, and lentils really gave the dish a strong umami vibe. Feel free to play around with the seasonings a bit to get it spicier, as you like (this is a child-friendly version).

Rainbow Jambalaya

Serves: 5-6 Prep time: ~30 minutes (assumes rice and lentils are pre-cooked)
Accessibility Notes: A fair amount of chopping here, but everything’s confined to one pan. You’ll need a large skillet and a good knife (and maybe a glass of white wine to help you pass the time).

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 2 Tofurky kielbasa links, diced into rounds
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 8 oz white button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • ~ 1/2 cup scallions, chopped (green parts)
  • 1 good-sized jalopeno, diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup cooked green/brown lentils
  • ~ 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Heat skillet over medium heat or flame; add 2 tsp of oil to the hot skillet and follow-up with the kielbasa rounds. Cook, 3-4 minutes, tossing the rounds to ensure that the kielbasa cooks on each side. Try not to nearly burn them, as I did.

2. When the kielbasa is finished, transfer to a small bowl or plate. In the same skillet, add the onions, celery, and red pepper to the remaining pan and cook 3-4 minutes, until softened.

3. Next add the mushrooms, tomatoes, scallions, jalopeno, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. Stir well to distribute the seasoning, and let cook ~5 minutes until the mushrooms are juicy.

4. Add in the lentils and cooked kielbasa, stirring and allowing to cook about 3 minutes, until the lentils and sausage are heated through. Add the cooked rice and stir well, making sure everything is coated.

5. Add the parsley, stirring to just mix through, then season everything with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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VeganMoFo Day 27: Dialing it in…by going out

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Yep, it’s Day 27 of VeganMofo – the home stretch! And I’m dialing it in by going out to dinner. To be honest, our kids were unexpectedly invited to spend the night at a friend’s house, so we had an impromptu date!

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Yes, this is a terrible photo. I was rushing it – whoops!

Thanks, Kobe of Smithfield, for at least having a lovely vegetarian dish at the top of the menu (stir-fried veggies), and letting me pair it with steamed (as opposed to fried) rice. And thanks to our cook for checking to ask if I was indeed vegetarian (and also checking about eggs), and then cooking my food separately on the grill. It was much appreciated!  We also had a veggie sushi roll, but that was eaten much too quickly to be photographed.


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VeganMofo Day 26: Pumpkin Apple Muffins

These are not the prettiest muffins I have ever made. In fact, they’re not even close. However, they are perhaps some of the tastiest.

I was searching around for a fall muffin recipe and came across this gorgeous recipe for pumpkin muffins over at Connoisseurus Veg. However, I wanted something a little richer, so I basically futzed with the recipe a bit – the version below is simply a variation. Along with the pumpkin and spices, I pulled in bits of dried apples and raisins, which for me are evocative of all the flavors of fall. I also included blackstrap molasses, which adds iron and makes for a rich, moist, and dark muffin.

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These are so moist and tasty on their own, they will make a lovely breakfast without any additions. However, in keeping with the original recipe, I decided to add a little frosting – except I pulled together a creamy pumpkin frosting for drizzling (the addition of pumpkin giving it a vibrant orange hue).

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The best part of this recipe is that these muffins come together quickly and easily – almost as quick as they disappear! I had everything baked and coated in less than 45 minutes; the only downside was the clean-up.

Pumpkin Apple Muffins

Makes: 12 muffins. Prep Time: ~20 minutes + 18-20 minutes cook time.
Accessibility notes: Requires stirring, mixing, and a little chopping, but is super-easy!

Ingredients:

Muffins:

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened soy milk
  • 2 tbsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried apples

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked (I quick-soaked mine by boiling for 2 minutes, then letting sit for 20 minutes)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened soymilk

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with a little Earth Balance or coconut oil.

2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, coconut sugar, baking powder and baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and salt.

3. In a medium bowl, mix the canned pumpkin, soy milk, blackstrap molasses, canola oil, and vanilla.

4. Add wet ingredients to dry, then fold in the raisins and dried apple.

5. Pour into muffin tins, about 3 tbsps of batter per tin. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

For the frosting:

Drain the cashews and add to blender with lemon juice, vanilla, powdered sugar, and pumpkin. Blend until smooth, then add soymilk as needed to thin. Pour over muffins to serve.


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VeganMoFo Day 25: Burgers and Fries

I think that sometimes, people associate a vegan life with asceticism and sacrifice – as if we’re only able to eat iceberg lettuce or those cold, tired-looking tomatoes we are stuck with in the dead of winter. I would hope that the past 3 weeks of food reveals that I am anything but deprived. We don’t do without, we just chose to do it differently.

Today was a bit of a long day, so I decided to whip up my favorite black bean sunburgers. These are from Robin Robertson’s Quick Fix Vegan: Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less, which is true to its name. I own a lot of Robin Robertson’s books, and for good reason. Robin has a knack for combining simple flavors in new ways, usually using only a few, easy-to-find ingredients. As such, her “Quick-Fix” series takes a lot of the stress out of the kitchen. She’s recently come out with a sequel, More Quick-Fix Vegan, that I am eying closely. (Also note that her Quick-Fix Vegetarian is sneakily all-vegan.)

Anyway, enough free advertising for Robin. I love these burgers because they are 1) quick-and-easy, 2) loaded with sunflower seeds (hence the name “sunburger”), and 3) held together lovingly with some old-fashioned vital wheat gluten. Yes, they are not gluten-free. Sorry, but it works such magic here! And they are delicious – the sunflower seeds add a fullness and a rich flavor that nicely complements the black beans. These burgers are also denser than the standard veggie burger, and hence incredibly filling. Robin’s publisher has posted the recipe over here, if you are so inclined to check it out.

In addition to burgers, I made some old-fashioned home fries with sliced russet potatoes doused in a few tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkled with salt, paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder. These are healthier and less expensive than what you’d buy in the frozen section, but they do take some extra time to prep and cook.

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I like my sunburgers with a bit of ketchup, dijon, pickles, tomato, green leaf lettuce, and vegan mayo (lately I’ve been using Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo, which is less expensive than other brands and has an amazing light mayo taste). Although they’re equally good with a bit of guacamole or avocado spread on top, or layered with pineapple salsa.

As you can see, there is no deprivation here! Just tasty food. Excuse me while I go enjoy it….


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VeganMofo Day 24: Creamy Seitan-Lentil Pasta

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It has been a rainy, cool, blah day here – the sort of weather that leaves you only wanting to curl up on the couch with a blanket and a good book – for me, that book is currently Thanking the Monkey: Rethinking the Way We Treat Animals by Karen Dawn. This has been such an important, thought-provoking, and yet emotional read for me. Karen Dawn takes an honest look at everything from factory farming to fashion to vivisection, examining the ins and outs of our use and abuse of animals. Thankfully, the book manages a lighter tone and is full of photos, comics, and inspirational quotes that balance out the heavy topics. Although I am sometimes brought to tears by the information, I think it’s a worthwhile and necessary read.

Anyway, on to the food — with the cold and wet weather, I was craving something warm and creamy. I had some leftover seitan in the fridge, so I decided on this soul-soothing dish that combines lentils, seitan, tomatoes, and spinach in a hearty sauce that pairs well with whatever pasta you have on hand (I used brown rice spiral pasta). The dish is topped with a garnish of fresh diced tomatoes and parsley, which adds a colorful splash to an otherwise dreary day.

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This recipe took a little extra time – I could have saved myself some trouble by cooking my lentils in advance, as well as soaking the cashews for the cream earlier in the day. However, I forgot to do any of that – thankfully, I’ve found that coming home and boiling my cashews briefly, followed with a “quick soak” in the boiling liquid, tends to soften them enough that they blend up easily. The lentils cooked simultaneously with the soaking cashews, which allowed me to pull the remainder of the ingredients together and dice the veggies while I waited.

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Though its a bit of work, the end result is a tender, savory pasta – bits of chewy seitan and lentils give the impression of a “meaty” texture, and the tomato-based cream sauce is pure comfort food. This dish was a huge hit with the entire crowd, with several returning to the pot for second servings.

Creamy Seitan-Lentil Pasta

Serves: 6-8. Prep time: 45 minutes.
Accessibility Notes: Requires a standard blender or food processor, managing of multiple hot pots, and minor chopping.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • ~1 cup finely shredded seitan (I chopped up about 1/2 pack of WestSoy Seitan Strips)
  • 12 oz. brown rice spiral pasta
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 28-oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • Diced fresh tomato, for garnish
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

1. In a medium pot, combine the lentils and 1 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and set aside. If you haven’t soaked your cashews in advance, this is a good time to do a quick soak – add the cashews to a small pot, with enough water to cover. Bring to a full boil for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and let them sit while the lentils cook.

2. In a separate large pot, heat 1/2 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the shredded seitan. Keeping the heat high, stir the seitan frequently to just brown it, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat, transferring to another plate, and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add the brown rice pasta and cook for 13-14 minutes (or per package directions), until pasta is tender. (When the pasta is finished, be sure to run it under cool water to stop the cooking process.)

3. Back to the large pot! Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of oil. Sauté the onion over medium heat until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir everything together quickly, about a minute. Next add the thyme, salt, black pepper, and lentils, mixing well. Add the crushed tomatoes and bring to a simmer, letting everything cook for 4-5 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, drain the soaked cashews and add them to a blender or food processor with the vegetable broth. Blend everything together until you have a smooth sauce. This may take anywhere from 1-4 minutes; I have an inexpensive blender and I let it run about 2 minutes, which gives a lovely, smooth sauce.  Pour the blended cashew cream into the tomato mixture and stir until well-incorporated. Also add the cooked seitan to begin heating through.

6. Next chiffonade the spinach – roll it into a loose pile and using your knife, cut everything into long, thin strips. Add the spinach to the tomato mixture and let it cook about 2 minutes, until wilted.

7. Stir in the cooked pasta spirals and mix until everything is well-incorporated. You may want to let this cook 2-3 minutes longer until everything thickens nicely. When ready, scoop into bowls and garnished with the tomatoes and parsley. Enjoy!