Archive for September, 2011

vegan mofo headstart: rice and beans and sausage, oh my

I’ll be out of town Saturday – Tuesday, so just in case I don’t get a chance to blog (really don’t think I will), I’m counting this as my second MoFo post. Accept it!

I’ve eaten Mexican-style food at least once a day for the past, oh, I don’t know, 5 days now, but somehow I don’t get sick of it! Here’s what I made for dinner that has also been my lunch this week (boy I really gotta start using a camera that’s NOT my phone):

Brown rice, pinto beans, chipotle Field Roast sausage

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 Chipotle Field Roast sausage links, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups short grain brown rice (uncooked)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can roasted and chopped green chiles
5 cups water
1 vegan bouillon cube or equivalent
1 can pinto beans (or equivalent amount fresh cooked beans)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan, or in my case, dutch oven
Add onion, cook until translucent
Add salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, and oregano, cook for about a minute
Add sausage, cook until crispy and browned on one or both sides
Add garlic, cook until soft (a minute or so)
Add rice, mix in and toast for a minute or two
Add tomatoes with juice and chiles, stir to deglaze pan
Add water and bouillon, bring to a low boil
Cook for 15 minutes
Add pinto beans with liquid
Cover pot, simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked to your liking. Depending on how long you simmer, it will start off as a really thick stew, and over time become more of a creamy rice dish. If you’d rather have a dryer rice dish, add less water, and you should be good to go.

I topped each bowl with salsa since I had neither lime juice nor cilantro in the house, which I would have added otherwise. I used my favorite salsa in the whole world, locally made La Salsa Chilena. If you get a chance to try this stuff, DO IT!! For added nutrients, I’d throw in some greens or have salad or broccoli on the side next time.


September 30, 2011 at 10:36 pm 3 comments

vegan mofo head start: restaurant week!

Last week was restaurant week in San Diego, and though most of the menus weren’t very vegan friendly, I did manage to find one place with 3 vegan options. My husband and I went, he got a 3 course meal, I got 2 courses, and we shared his dessert. Oh, you want to know the restaurant? Indigo Grill!

Please excuse my fairly awful cellphone pictures.

My first course was this INSANE beet salad:
stacked beet saladDescription: orange segments, shaved fennel, lime-caraway dressing, dried beet chips (plus GIGANTIC roasted beet chunks/slices)
This picture may not make the salad look huge, but trust me, it was enough for FOUR people as a first course.

My main course was Good Things Growing
Description from website: Indian corn pudding, baked whole butternut squash with bourbon-pecan butter, caramelized plantain, honey roasted garlic, flatbread, pipan tofu with mole negro
Veganized version (pictured above): Butternut squash, roasted root veggies, grilled tofu (only one piece sadly), stuffed spicy pepper with pickled onions, caramelized plantains, roasted garlic, mixed greens with sliced pear.

Dessert was three types of really good sorbet: strawberry guava, grapefruit, and tangerine.

Overall, the meal was better than average, but nothing to get too excited about. If they actually veganized everything on the normal “Good Things Growing” plate, I have a feeling I would be dwelling on how good it was. In reality, nothing on the plate was especially memorable, and probably not worth $24. The beet salad, however, was only $10, and well worth it! Next time, I’ll ask to add grilled tofu and let that be my whole meal.

September 29, 2011 at 9:10 pm Leave a comment

fancy shmancy mealy wealy

Yesterday was the most productive day I’ve had in a long long time! I went to physical therapy, ran every errand on my list (quite a few), cleaned up around the house, and made dinner for my husband and two friends.

I’ve been thinking about this meal for a while, and finally got to put my plan into action. I picked up some summer squash from the farmer’s market and thought, “I wonder what would happen if I baked these in thin slices. Would they turn out like squash crackers?” I decided that if I did bake the squash and maybe some other veggies in thin discs, I could layer them with some sort of filling, top them with some sort of sauce, and have a fancy delicious dinner! The squash didn’t turn into crackers (except maybe the burned ones), but here’s what I ended up with:

Baked Summer Squash and Eggplant slices layered with Butternut Squash “Ricotta”, topped with Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream and Tomato Coulis

veggie stackSorry for the harsh lighting, but the photo turned out pretty well none the less, thanks to Jason Hee and his iphone!

First thing’s first – preheat convection oven to 400 degrees, or normal oven to about 425 degrees.

for the cashew cream
I kind of threw this together, so the measurements aren’t exact. sorry!

about 6 cloves roasted garlic
about 1 cup soaked raw cashews
about 1.5 cups veggie broth
salt and pepper to taste

blend everything up in a blender until smooth, then heat through in a pan at medium-low heat. set aside.

for tomato coulis
loosely based on this recipe:

1 can no-salt diced tomatoes (usually this is made with fresh, but I didn’t have any)
8-9 sun-dried tomatoes in oil
5-6 small leaves fresh basil
2 tbsp olive oil
red pepper flakes, salt, pepper to taste

blend everything until smooth!

for filling:

1 large butternut squash
2 yellow onions
1 package firm organic tofu
salt and pepper to taste

roast the butternut squash (I actually used 1 small and one medium squash, cut them into quarters, brushed them in olive oil in a large roasting pan, and roasted in a 400 degree convection oven for about an hour, covered in foil. I had about 3/4 of a squash leftover, so 1 large squash should be plenty.)

caramelize onions by cutting them in half and slicing them thinly, cooking on low heat for 30-40 minutes with a tablespoon or two of olive oil.

when squash and onions are done, drain the tofu and crumble it into a food processor. add onions, squash, salt, and pepper and process until creamy and no chunks remain. you will probably need to scrape down the sides a couple times during the process.

for veggies:

2 medium sized regular zucchini
2 small round zucchini (or more regular zucchini, or any summer squash)
1 large eggplant

slice all veggies into thin rounds (about a quarter of an inch thick)
oil as many large roasting pans or cookie sheets as you want (I did all the veggies in batches using 2 small pans and one large)
lay each slice flat on the pans and brush lightly with olive oil
sprinkle veggies with salt and pepper if you like
bake each batch of veggies for 12-15 minutes

to assemble
1. start with one slice of eggplant, then scoop a large spoonful of filling on top
2. layer three slices zucchini on top, then another spoonful of filling
3. repeat steps 1 and 2, then top off with an eggplant slice.
4. spoon cashew cream over veggie stack until it flows over the edge
5. spoon tomato coulis onto the top center of the stack
6. garnish with a few leaves of fresh basil

On the side I added a very simple salad of wild arugula (or rocket as I’ve been hearing Jaime Oliver call it a lot lately) and sherry vinegar.

We ate this at room temperature, which worked well for the warm summer evening, but I’m sure you could keep everything warm before assembling and eat it that way if you’re organized enough…I definitely am not!

For dessert we had fresh organic strawberries with a little dulce de leche (recipe from Viva Vegan), and some simple chocolate sauce (melt 72% dark chocolate with some vanilla soymilk).

Lessons learned: Productivity good. Cooking fun. Food yum. Friends nice!

September 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm 1 comment