Eggplant Parmesan

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We’ve been getting plenty of eggplant from our CSA and found that this Eggplant Parmesan recipe from Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen was super easy to make and really delicious. Rather than breading and frying the eggplant, it’s broiled and then layered with tomato sauce, bread crumbs and a faux mozzarella sauce made from cashews. The only issue I had with the recipe was that the cooking times seemed too short. The eggplant was pretty toothsome at first but after covering it and cooking it longer it was melt-in-your-mouth perfect. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to make it again before the eggplant is gone for the season!

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Cracking Open a Few Old Cookbooks

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Here’s some digging into the cookbook archive to catch up a bit on the 52 cookbooks effort. First up, something we did with the bok choy we’ve been getting from our CSA.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Roasted Peanuts from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

3 Tbs. raw peanuts

2 tsp. oil

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1 1/2 lbs. bok choy

2 Tbs. oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbs. minced ginger

2 Tbs. soy sauce

1 tsp. cornstarch  mixed with 3 Tbs. water

Fry peanuts in oil until golden then set aside. Chop bok choy into bite sized pieces. Heat oil, stir-fry bok choy, add garlic and ginger, add soy sauce and cornstarch slurry. Coarsely chop the peanuts with red pepper flakes and add to bok choy.

We had this over rice with some fried tofu and it was fabulous.

 


No picture of this one but it was a nice way to use up a green cabbage. Despite the name this book is not particularly vegan-friendly. Case in point: this cabbage recipe calls for duck fat. Well, it was easy to substitute Earth Balance.

Braised Green Cabbage from Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

1 green cabbage, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced

3 Tbs. Earth Balance

1 Tbs. cider vinegar

1 bay leaf

1 apple

1/2 c. water

salt & pepper to taste

Cook onion in fat, add cabbage, vinegar, bay leaf, salt & pepper and water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Grate the apple, add it to the pan and cook another 5 minutes.

 


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Pizza Shop Breadsticks with Sneaky Momma’s Tomato Sauce from Vegan Lunchbox by Jennifer McCann

The tomato sauce has kale, red pepper, and carrots so I figured this was a good way to get the kids to eat some extra vegetables. The bread sticks were rolled in a sesame seed/nutritional yeast mixture, also upping the healthiness a bit. You could do this with any bread recipe and any pasta sauce recipe. I thought it would be fun for the kids and though they weren’t totally sold on it, I thought it was fun.

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Southwest Lentil Stew

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Our seven-year-old loves chili so I make some version of it quite often. I love using our Instant Pot for this type of stew but if you don’t have a pressure cooker this can easily be done on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. It’s tomato season and we’re getting lots of fresh tomatoes (along with onions and peppers) from our CSA but you could use a medium can of tomatoes as well. I pureed the tomatoes in a blender before adding them but it’s not necessary.

What you need:

1 Tbs. olive or canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 large bell pepper, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

6 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 medium carrots, sliced

1 cup diced seitan

1 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. dried marjoram

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbs. lime juice

1 cup brown rice

1 cup brown lentils

3 cups water

What you do:

Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add onion and bell pepper. Cook for a few minutes then add garlic and cook for another minute. Add remaining ingredients, mix well then cover and bring up to pressure. Cook on high pressure for 22 minutes and allow for a natural release. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simmer over low heat on the stove top, covered, for about an hour. We garnished ours with avocado slices and fresh oregano. Also note that we make these types of meals mild for the kids but feel free to add as much hot sauce as you want either during cooking or when serving.

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Brunch (with Peach Beignets)

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Yesterday we had some friends over to watch the penultimate stage of the Tour de France and we all enjoyed a delicious brunch. The tofu scramble and roasted vegetables were good but what really came out well were the peach beignets. Credit to Darlene for coming up with that idea. I’m not sure how authentic they were but they sure did taste good. I ended up using my tried and true recipe for Apple Uglies but instead of apples and cinnamon I used some nice local peaches we’ve been getting from our CSA. I cut back on the sugar a little too since the beignets got a generous dusting of powdered sugar at the end. The main modification to the recipe that I needed was to add a lot of extra flour since the peaches were so juicy. And rather than making each piece of dough into an oblong shape I rolled out the dough and cut it into squares beignet-style.

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I posted my basic tofu scramble recipe a long time ago on our previous blog and this one was similar. Instead of onion I used a leek from our CSA and I also added a shredded carrot, mushrooms and kale. The roasted veggies were all from the CSA – red potatoes, purple potatoes, beets and bell peppers. These were coated with olive oil, salt and some fresh herbs from our garden (thyme, oregano, rosemary and lavender) and roasted in a 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes. All agreed it was an excellent meal!

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Happy 4th!

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We definitely had to put our new grill to use on the 4th of July! I had never tried freezing tofu before but I heard that doing so can give it a chewier texture so I gave it a whirl. I drained two blocks of tofu then put them in the freezer overnight. I took them out this morning and let them thaw then drained them on a towel. Then I cut each block into 8 pieces, brushed them with homemade barbecue sauce and put them on the grill. I’m still learning about grilling and I had some hot spots in my fire so some of the tofu got a little too charred but still it was good. And freezing did give it a firm texture that help up well to grilling. On the side we had coleslaw and potato salad, made with cabbage and some nice red potatoes from our CSA.

I kind of winged it in making the barbecue sauce but it came out really well so although I didn’t write anything down I’ll approximate it here from memory. I just mixed all this stuff together in a small saucepan and simmered on low heat for about half an hour:

3 Tbs. tomato paste

1/2 c. water

1 Tbs. cider vinegar

1 Tbs. molasses

1 Tbs. agave

2 tsp. vegan worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. onion power

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

You could definitely add some cayenne or hot sauce too but I kept it mild for the kids. I made this up as I went along so if you try it you should definitely experiment with different proportions to suit your fancy.

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It’s Grilling Season

I finally got myself a proper grill! I had a tiny portable one that I used occasionally in the past but even that I haven’t used in several years. Last month I built a deck off our back door from the kitchen and once that was done I set my mind to getting a grill since I finally had a nice place to put one. Here’s the kid, quite proud of himself after helping me assemble it. It’s nothing fancy, just a basic Weber charcoal grill, but I’m really looking forward to getting some use out of it this summer.

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I decided to Christen it with that quintessential American grill fare, the burger. You know, a typical burger with lentils, mushrooms, walnuts and kale. OK, maybe not so typical but still very tasty. I used Scott Jurek’s recipe because I’ve made these burgers in the past and I knew they’d be firm enough to stand up to grilling. (Incidentally, if you haven’t heard, Scott Jurek is in the midst of attempting a speed record on the Appalachian Trail.)

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The kale and onions in the burgers were from Bellair Farm CSA and on the side we had roasted potatoes and a slaw with red cabbage and carrots, all from the CSA also. And we topped the burgers with lettuce from our garden so there’s lots of local produce on this plate!

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Bok Choy, Napa and Tofu Stir Fry

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We’ve been getting lots of bok choy and Napa cabbage from our CSA and they make for a good stir fry. We also added to this one onions, carrots, cashews, tofu, and even a little broccoli from our garden. You can stir fry almost anything you have on hand though. It’s all in the sauce. This is a recipe that we and the kids liked that’s adapted from the Beefy Asparagus Stir Fry recipe in Isa Does It. Just whisk all this stuff together in a bowl then add to your stir fried veggies at the end:

1/2 c. water

1 Tbs. cornstarch

3 Tbs. soy sauce

3 Tbs. hoisin sauce

1 tsp. sriracha (more to taste)

2 Tbs. lime juice

1 Tbs. agave

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

We often serve our stir fries over brown rice and sprinkled with sesame seeds. And with the kids, we make everything very mild but I do enjoy some extra sriracha on top too!

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Asian Slaw

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We’ve been getting some nice Napa Cabbage from our CSA and I decided to use some of it to make an Asian slaw. We had also just cooked a batch of chickpeas so in a clash of cultures we served the slaw with falafel. Since we were frying the falafel anyway we also fried some tofu. A tahini dressing for the falafel and tofu rounded out the meal. Here’s the slaw recipe:

What you need:

1 head Napa Cabbage, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 large carrot, shredded

2 Tbs. minced sweet onion

juice of 1 lime

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. soy sauce

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1 Tbs. canola oil

1/4 tsp. salt

2 Tbs. sesame seeds, plus more for serving

What you do:

In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, carrot and onion. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, vinegar, soy sauce, oils and salt. Pour over the cabbage and mix well, then mix in the sesame seeds. If you have time, allow to sit for half an hour. If desired, sprinkle on more sesame seeds when serving.

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Ethiopian Hand Pies with Collards

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We recently made an Ethiopian feast for dinner and Darlene had the fabulous idea to turn the leftover tofu wat into hand pies (or calzones if you like). Every culture has some sort of hand pie, though I’m not sure if you’d find something like this in Ethiopia. Regardless, they were awesome! Check out one of our previous pizza posts for a link to and discussion of the dough recipe. I don’t have a recipe for the tofu wat because I made it up as I went along but Google it and you’ll get some ideas. You could really fill these with anything though.

We had these hand pies with some beautiful collards from our Bellair Farm CSA. It’s so exciting to be starting off the CSA season again and we hope to showcase more of the beautiful produce we’ll be getting each week in our share. Our go-to method for collards is simply to chop a bunch of them into bite-sized pieces (removing any thick stems), then saute in a little olive oil for a few minutes. Then we add a minced clove of garlic, saute for another minute then add lemon juice. (The juice from half a lemon is about right for a large bunch of collards.) I also like to add a little sweetener – 1/2 teaspoon of agave or sugar does the trick.

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Quesadillas

I’m surprised we haven’t posted about this until now because it’s certainly the meal most requested by the 6-year-old. Long ago we picked up a used copy of the original Uncheese Cookbook by Joanne Stepaniak (which incidentally was way ahead of it’s time, having been published in 1994). Our go-to recipe from this book is the spread from her Grilled Cheeze Sandwiches. It’s pretty simple – just put all this stuff into a blender, whir it up until it’s smooth, then cook in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking frequently, until thickened:

1 1/3 c. water
1/2 c. pimiento pieces (see note below)
1/3 c. rolled oats
1/3 c. raw cashew pieces
1/4 c. nutritional yeast flakes
3 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 Tbs. tahini
2 tsp. onion granules
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic granules
1/4 tsp. dried dill
1/4 tsp. dried mustard
1/4 tsp. paprika

One note on the pimiento pieces – we usually use one whole roasted red pepper and that’s a fine substitution. We often buy a big jar of roasted red peppers and freeze them, though right now we’re still going through a stash of red peppers from our CSA. We got a bunch of them at the end of the season and roasted them. Then we laid them out on a cookie sheet and froze them, then put them in a freezer bag once they were frozen.

We use this spread on sandwiches or in burritos or even in baked pasta but most frequently it gets sandwiched between two tortillas and then fried in a pan in a scant bit of canola oil or Earth Balance. We’ve found that the kid will eat almost anything that’s included in one of these quesadillas. If we’re in a rush and/or don’t have anything else in the fridge, we might just add some frozen chopped spinach (just sprinkle it on frozen and it’ll thaw while cooking the quesadilla). What’s pictured below included some sauteed cabbage and leftover pureed sweet potatoes but anything we have handy and that’s nutritious is fair game: mashed beans, finely diced seitan, cooked greens, broccoli, avocado, etc. These can be part of a larger meal but often they’re a quick weeknight meal by themselves. If we’ve got a bit of salsa to put on the side so much the better.

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I should also note that if you can find the time to make your own tortillas I highly recommend it. Since this is often a quick meal we usually use store-bought tortillas but we make our own on occasion. The trouble with most name-brand tortillas you find in mainstream grocery stores is that they’re filled with preservatives and other un-pronounceable ingredients. When we do buy ready-made tortillas we generally get them from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and the store brand in either place has a much smaller ingredient list. But when you make them at home you can make them with nothing more than flour, water, salt and a little oil. We do like the recipe from Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan, which includes the addition of chia seeds, a nice touch. Here’s a previous iteration with homemade tortillas.

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