Lentil + Tomato + Basil Salad

I came across this dish at a potluck and it looked really good, but I couldn’t try it because it had goat cheese mixed in it.  Everyone was raving about it so I decided to go home and make a vegan version– and loved it!  The original recipe is very easy to prepare as it uses two ready made ingredients: Trader Joe’s lentils and a jar of Trader Joe’s bruschetta.  All you do is mix the two and that’s it!

Since both tomatoes and basil are in season this month, I decided to make bruschetta from scratch and served this salad with slices of artisan bread (the flax seed loaf also from Trader Joe’s is my current favorite!)  The lentils are a great source of protein, tomatoes have been shown to lower cholesterol, and the basil provides you with vitamin K.  I love the colors and may try this recipe next time with multi-colored lentils cooked from scratch.

Lentil + Tomato + Basil Salad

– 1 package of Trader Joe’s steamed lentils, ready to eat or about 2 cups of cooked lentils
– 4 to 5 vine ripened tomatoes, or try heirloom tomatoes for different colors, chopped
– a handful of basil leaves, chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, minced
– olive oil
– balsamic vinegar
– salt and pepper, to taste
– an artisan loaf or baguette, sliced and lightly toasted

In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, basil, and garlic.  Stir well.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top, enough to give the lentils a light coating.  Add a few spoonfuls of balsamic vinegar.  Mix well.  Stir in the lentils and taste test.  Add more oil and vinegar if needed as well as salt and pepper.  Serve with the slices of bread.

Tofu + Shitake Mushroom + Ginger Miso Soup

One of the last recipes made for Year 1!  Miso soup is so easy to put together and makes for the perfect light lunch.

Miso is a thick paste made from fermented soy beans, rice, and/or barley.   You can find miso at any Japanese or Asian market.  They come in different varieties, such as white, yellow, or red.  White miso has a light and sweeter taste, yellow miso has a mild flavor, and red has the strongest flavor.  If you have never tried miso before, the yellow kind might be the best way to go and you can control the intensity of flavor by adjusting the amount you add into the soup.

Tofu + Shitake Mushroom + Ginger Miso Soup

– 2 cups of water
– 1 heaping TBS of miso (you can use more or less depending on your taste buds)
– 1/4 to 1/2 a block of firm tofu, cut into small rectangles or squares
– 3 to 4 shitake mushrooms, sliced
– a 1 to 2″ piece of ginger, peeled
– green onions, thinly sliced (optional)
– dried seaweed, torn into small pieces for garnish (optional)

Place water and ginger in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil and add the miso paste.  Whisk or stir with a wooden spoon until the miso dissolves into the water.

Bring the pot to a simmer.  Add the mushrooms.  Cook mushrooms until they are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the tofu, cook for another few minutes until tofu is heated through.

Remove the piece of ginger.

Add green onions if using.

Spoon into serving bowls and top with torn bits of seaweed if using.

Swedish House Mafia, Swedish Picture Frame, + Swedish “Meat”balls

All the items in this post have one thing in common– Sweden!

1) Swedish House Mafia- My friend Tal sent me this video and at first I was like what the heck is this!  BUT here’s a hint, if you love dogs, you must watch this music video, it is awesome and hilarious! (Thank you Tal for sharing!)

2) Swedish Picture Frame- Love or hate IKEA, this is a super cute hanging picture frame from the Swedish home furnishings shop!  It’s not a traditional Swedish style frame or anything, but it’s made in Sweden and is named Fiskevik so I think it works with the theme.  Plus it’s $5.99- can’t beat that!

3) Swedish “Meat”balls- And while at IKEA, I decided I wanted to see if I could find a vegan version of a Swedish meatball recipe.  Which I did and I loved since the main ingredient was potato.  But the best part was the ground almonds I think, which gave it an interesting flavor.  Below is the recipe as well as one for gravy– which you will you have to use your imagination to picture since I burnt the whole thing while re-heating!  Oops.  Always check to make sure you have turned off the burner!

Swedish Meatless Balls

This recipe is from food.com, thank you Dreamer in Ontario for posting!  The original recipe calls for frying the meatballs, which you can do, or you can try baking them as I did, which is what is instructed below.

- 3 or 4 medium potatoes, cubed (I used Russet potatoes)
– 1 vegan bouillon
– 1 cup ground almonds (I ground up almonds, cashews, and walnuts since I was short on almonds– just put it in a food processor or you can purchase it ground)
– 4 TBS flax seed
– 1 medium onion, chopped
–  salt and pepper, to taste
– olive oil, for cooking

In a large pot, place potatoes, vegan bouillon, and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft.  Stir mid way to make sure the bouillon has dissolved and is evenly distributed.

Drain water from potatoes, saving a cup to make gravy with.  Mash and let cool.

While the potatoes are cooling, heat up some olive oil in a frying pan.  Add onions and cook until they start to brown.

Place the flax seed in a small bowl, add 1/4 cup hot water and let stand for about 10 minutes.  Once the seeds absorb the water, they will get sticky and gooey, which is what we want.

When the potatoes have cooled, add the flax seed and water it was soaking in, ground almonds, cooked onions, and salt and pepper.  Mix well.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Shape the potato mixture into small balls and line on the baking sheet.

Bake the meatballs for about 20 to 30 minutes, until they are heated through and outsides are crisp and turning golden brown.

Vegan Gravy

From Food.com, posted by Sharon123.

– 2 cups of vegetable broth OR 2 cups of water + a vegan bouillon
– 1/4 to 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (the less yeast you use, the less cheesier it is)
– 3 TBS cornstarch
– spices of your choice, to taste– I like to use onion powder, garlic powder, herbs de provence since that has a little bit of everything)
– salt and pepper, to taste

In a small saucepan, heat up the broth or water.

Ladle some of the heated liquid into a small bowl.  Add the cornstarch to this, whisk well, then set aside.

To the pot of liquid, add the nutritional yeast and seasonings/spices, stirring until dissolved.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the pot, and cook on low heat until the liquid thickens (about a few minutes).

Add salt and pepper, and more seasonings if desired.

This is great over the Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, veggies, and pasta!  (I will make it cheesier by adding more of the nutritional yeast when I use this over pasta.)

Baked Gluten Free Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers

Cooking the quinoa in veggie broth or using a bouillon plus all the spices really gives this gluten-free burger lots of flavor!  It’s so good, I could eat it alone, without ketchup or mustard or anything!

I usually have all of the ingredients needed for this around the house and it’s also a good way to use up any leftover cooked quinoa.  Just a few tid bits about quinoa that have been helpful to me:

– The liquid to quinoa ratio is 2 to 1 (so 2 cups of water to 1 cup of uncooked quinoa).
– 1 cup of raw quinoa makes about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
–  Quinoa offers complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids your body cannot produce, so eat up!

The original recipe calls for frying the burgers but I am opting to bake them for an easier and healthier version.  This is definitely a good recipe to keep in mind when you need to offer something delicious, fun (have a make your own burger set up and how cute are mini finger food sized burgers??), and easy that works for many types of diets!

Baked Gluten Free Quinoa + Chickpea Burgers

Thank you savvyvegetarian.com for this delicious recipe!

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

Makes about six to eight 2 1/2″ to 3″ patties for mini burgers.

– 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa (1/2 cup raw quinoa + 1 cup of vegetable broth OR 1 cup of water with a vegan bouillon) *I used red quinoa which to me looks a little more burger-y, but you can use regular quinoa as well
– 1/2 cup mashed cooked chickpeas + 2 TBS water
– 2 TBS of egg replacer
– 1 TBS soy sauce
– 1 tsp dried basil
– 1/2 tsp dried thyme
– 1/2 tsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp ground coriander
– 1/2 tsp paprike
– 1/2 tsp garlic powder
– 4 TBS tapioca flour (to make gluten free) OR whole wheat flour
– salt and pepper, to taste
– toppings/other stuff for your burger: gluten free buns, lettuce, tomatoes, avocados, red onion, pickles, mustard, ketchup…

Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for about an hour so the patties are easier to shape.

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Start making mini patties, about 1/2″ thickness.  Repeat until baking sheet is filled.

Bake for about 30 minutes until outsides are crisp and the inside is heated through.  The insides are still soft when cooking this way; if you want a stiffer bigger all the way through, try reducing heat to 275F and check until patties are done to your desire.

If you want to freeze some patties for later, place each patty between two sheets of wax or parchment paper and store them in a plastic container.  Thaw them in the fridge first before cooking.

Top with your favorite veggies and condiments and enjoy!

Garfield’s Gluten Free Lasagna

Lasagna always reminds me of that funny orange cat named Garfield, because that was his favorite food!  I love lasagna almost as much as he does and this vegan version is satisfying, filling, and easy to put together.

It’s also great for the gluten-free people in your life.  I found this rice lasagna by DeBoles which worked out very well and honestly, the taste and texture was the same to me as regular pasta.  You don’t even have to pre-cook it– but make sure you cover it very well with tomato sauce and use a covered casserole dish to bake this, or else the top layer will dry up (and yes, I speak from experience).

Here is a basic recipe to follow, named in honor of the only cat in the world who eats lasagna, but feel free to add/replace any of the veggies or if you want to use your own tomato sauce recipe.

If you decide to use regular lasagna pasta, just make sure to pre-cook it as directed on the box.

I think Garfield would gobble this up like I did.

Garfield’s Gluten Free Lasagna

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of this recipe only.

I used a 9×13 casserole dish.  Remember to use a dish with a lid!

For the pasta:
– 1 package of rice lasagna pasta

For the sauce:
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
– 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
– 1 can of tomato sauce
– 1 can of chopped tomatoes (if you can find one mixed with Italian spices already, you can get that)
– a few TBS of fresh basil, chopped, or dried basil
– salt and pepper, to taste
– vegetable oil, for cooking

For the filling:
– 1 package of firm tofu
– 2 medium zucchinis or yellow squash, or one of each, cut into thin slices
– 1 package of mushrooms, sliced (or you can buy the sliced packs if you are running low on time)
– 1 large green bell pepper, sliced
– dried herbs of your choice, to taste– I used Herbes de Provence since it is a mixture of a bunch of spices all in one
– salt and pepper, to taste

Start with the sauce.  In a medium saucepan heat up some oil.  Add the garlic and onions.  Cook until onions start to brown.  Add the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes.  Stir and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add basil, salt, and pepper.  Taste test, adjust seasonings if needed, and remove from heat.

Take the block of tofu, add generous amounts of herbs, salt, and pepper, and begin to crumble and smash the herbs into the tofu with a fork.  Crumble all the tofu and make sure herbs, salt, and pepper are evenly distributed.

Preheat oven to 350F.

The next step is to assemble the lasagna. (Remember if you are using regular pasta instead of rice pasta, cook it first according to the package.)

*Here is a quick cheat sheet for the order, starting at the bottom: tomato sauce, pasta, tofu, veggies, then start again with the tomato sauce, followed by the pasta, then the tofu, etc.

Begin by covering the bottom of your dish with a generous amount of tomato sauce.  Place the lasagna pasta in a single layer covering the bottom of the dish on top of the sauce.  Add a layer of the crumbled tofu, followed by a layer of each of the veggies.  Cover the veggies with a layer of the tomato sauce, then start again with the pasta.  Repeat until you have filled up your dish and finish with a layer of pasta on top.

Make sure to generously cover the top layer of your pasta with sauce, so that no pasta is left untouched with sauce!

Cover your dish and bake at 350F until pasta is soft, it took me about 45 min to an hour.

Once cooked, cut into big squares and serve!

PS: If you have leftover veggies, they make for a great hash brown scramble the next morning!  Just chop into smaller bite sized pieces, add to a heated pan with oil, throw in a couple of chopped hash brown patties or tater tots, add garlic/onion powder, salt, and pepper, stir, and eat!  I made that this morning and my mom said she gives it 5 stars haha.  Thanks mom!  Another plus is that you get rid of leftover veggies quickly while they are still fresh.

A Little Moroccan Flavor: Tagine + Quinoa

I never knew such an amazing dish existed until I tried some of Quyen’s vegetarian tagine at the Secret Fork‘s February event.  First of all, I fell in love with the tagine pot (which is the ceramic lidded pot this dish is traditionally made in) the moment I saw it.

{ 1. Cutlery + More || 2. Tagines.com || 3. Sur La Table || 4. JustMorocco.com }

Then throughout the evening, as Quyen removed the lid to stir things around or dish out a bowl, I saw glimpses of chunky pieces of veggies, but wasn’t sure exactly what all was in there.  When I got a bowl, she asked, “Do you like prunes?”  I had never had cooked pruned before, much less cooked with yams, potatoes, and green olives, just to name a few of the other components.  But it was SOOO good and filling!  A little salty, a little sweet, and a little sour, this dish has a little bit of everything and it all works!  It was all served over couscous, and was exactly what I needed for that chilly night.

I didn’t have couscous on hand today, but I did have a lot of quinoa (which I managed to spill half of, aka one trillion tiny little round balls, all over the kitchen floor- not fun) so below is a quinoa recipe to go with the tagine.

Thank you Quyen for sharing this delicious new dish with me and providing the recipe as well as a lovely jar of Moroccan preserved lemons to use in the tagine.  YUM!

PS:  Not only is Quyen a good cook, she is a seriously talented artist!  Browse through the beautiful pieces she has created on her website, Le Quyen.

PPS:  You do not need a tagine to make this dish– a large heavy pot with a lid will do!

Moroccan Tagine

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of the recipe only.

This recipe yields at least 6 servings.

You will need a cast iron pot or a heavy pot with a lid.

You will want equal proportions of the veggies– I added extra potatoes since those are my favorite!
– carrots, sliced lengthwise into 1 1/2″ pieces
– sweet potatoes or yams, cut into 1/2″ rounds
– potatoes, cut into 1/2″ rounds
– red bell pepper, cut into strips
– onion, cut into quarters, or smaller chunks
– Moroccan preserved lemons (I think I used a little too many, in comparison to how much veggies I had– I went with 5 but I think 3 would have been plenty.  They just looked so pretty!)
– garlic cloves, sliced
– a handful of prunes or raisins
– a handful of pitted green olives
– paprika, to taste
– tumeric, to taste
– salt and pepper, to taste
– olive oil, as needed
– water, as needed

*To save time the day you are making this, you can prep all the veggies the night before, which is what I did and definitely helped!

Coat the bottom of your pot/tagine with a layer of olive oil.

Layer ingredients in the following order:

Start at the bottom (and lightly sprinkle some of the spices, salt, and pepper in between some of the layers) with 1.) carrots 2.) sweet potatoes/yams 3.) potatoes 4.) red bell pepper 5.) onion 6.) Moroccan preserved lemon 7.) garlic 8.) prunes/raisins 9.) olives.

The carrots must go on the bottom because if they burn, they add flavor but if anything else burns, it’s not going to be good!

Drizzle everything with some more olive oil, and top with spices, salt, and pepper.

Add a cup of water.

Cover your tangine/pot and cook until vegetables are tender on a very low heat.  It took me about an hour.  Make sure to check frequently to ensure there is liquid in the pot or else it will burn/there is too much liquid and it will bubble over.

Once veggies are easily pierced with a fork, remove from heat and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Remove the lemons, then mix the veggies up.  Serve with couscous, bread, or quinoa (recipe below).

Whole Wheat Quinoa + Onions + Pine Nuts

Click here for a printer-friendly PDF version of the recipe only.

This recipe yields 2 generous servings or 4 moderate servings.

– 1 cup whole wheat quinoa
– 1 3/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth or water
– 1/2 onion, chopped
– 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
– olive oil, for cooking
– salt, to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat up some olive oil.  Add the onions and cook until they are translucent.

Add the vegetable broth/water and quinoa.

Bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and cook until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and add pine nuts.  Add salt if needed.