Ever since we learned our granddaughter has an egg sensitivity, we have been eating more plant-based and vegan meals. Recently I discovered a really great website, A Couple Cooks. Sonja and Alex, the authors of this blog have some terrific ideas for meals – some vegan, some vegetarian, some whole food – as well as other information about travel and lifestyles.
As I write this post, we are feeling the beginning effects of the COVID-19 pandemic here in Massachusetts. We are hunkering down so as not to contribute to the spread of the virus, and so a little comfort food seemed in order. This tuscan bean soup was warm and comforting and easy to make. The only change needed was to substitute celery for fennel due to being unable to purchase fennel when I shopped. Still delicious!
Tuscan Soup With White Beans
Recipe from A Couple Cooks website
- 1 bulb fennel
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale or other dark leafy greens
- 2 15-oz cans cannellini beans
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 28-oz cans diced tomatoes (San Marzano if possible)
- 4 cups vegetable broth (or canned broth)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Pecorino cheese to garnish (optional)
- Chop the fennel bulb (reserve some springs for a garnish). Wash and roughly chop the kale. Drain and rinse the cannellini beans.
- In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, the saute the fennel for 5 minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes with their juices and simmer for 8 minutes.
- Add the vegetable broth, water, and cannellini beans. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and add the red pepper flakes, dried basil, smoked paprika and kosher salt.
- Add the kale and simmer until tender, about 5 minutes. Serve garnished with grated Pecorino (if not going vegan) and fennel springs.
While I can make a decent vinaigrette and a passable tahini dressing, I haven’t strayed far from the standards as far as gussy-ing up salads. This, it turns out, has been an error of omission. We eat some form of salad nearly every night, so branching out to new tastes was long overdue.
This dressing comes from one of my new favorite cookbooks, Thug Kitchen. And, as usual with the Thugs, it is simple, plant-based and is entertaining. It also is really quite tasty – who knew roasted carrots made such a great dressing?!
- 3 medium carrots
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- Pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar (also suggested: rice wine vinegar)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 TBSP orange juice
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- Heat up your oven to 357 degrees F. Chop up your carrots into chunks no bigger than 1/2 inch. Toss them together with the oil, cumin, and salt. Roast them in a small pan, covered until the carrots are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Let the carrots cool for a minute then add them to a food processor with the rest of your $***. Blend it until it’s smooth. This could take as long as 3 minutes.
Seriously, Thug Kitchen, this cake is the bomb. As the Thugs say, “… save frosting for something that needs the help.” This does not. And it didn’t need butter or eggs either. Little bit of fresh fruit on top and we will be good to go for tonight’s dessert. If this makes it until then. I have a feeling there will be some taste testing going on really soon. [Edited for the delicate or children.]
From: Thug Kitchen LLC. Thug kitchen: Eat like you give a f*ck. (2014). Emmaus, PA: Rodale. p.200.
- 1 1/4 cups cornmeal
- 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups canned coconut milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
- First, heat your oven to 375 degrees F. Grab an 8-inch cake pan, grease it, and dust it with flour to make sure your cake doesn’t stick. If you are still consumed with fear, cut a round out of parchment paper the same size as the pan and stick that in the bottom to be extra ——- sure your cake will come out in one piece. Now relax, you got this —-.
- Get a big bowl and whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a crater in the center of the dry mixture and pour in the coconut milk, vanilla, and lemon zest and stir it all up until there are no dry pockets and very few lumps.
- Pour that batter into your cake pan that you prepped earlier because you followed the g-d directions. Let somebody else lick the spoon and bowl because 1)The batter is tasty as —- and 2)They will now owe you one. Cash in that favor the next time you need help moving. You’re ——-welcome.
- Bake the cake until a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then turn it out on to a wire rack to finish cooling until you’re ready for it.
- Serve cold or at room temperature.
I happened on Martha Stewart’s PBS cooking show recently, and was impressed that the recipe she prepared was not so ridiculously complicated that it required a team of sous chefs to get it to table. So as I was searching for something to cook this week, I migrated over to her website and found this Quinoa Bowl. Delicious and not difficult for home cooking! Thanks to Wendy at Tutto Bene for the Barista Pinotage recommendation.
- 1 pound of broccoli, florets with tender stems (halved if large)
- 1 red onion (8 oz) cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup tahini, well stirred
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
- 2 cups packed mint leaves, plus more for serving/garnish
- sliced avocado, sliced cucumber, and lightly toasted sliced almonds for serving
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss broccoli and onion with oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast, flipping vegetables once, until golden brown and tender (about 25 minutes).
- In a small pot, bring quinoa, 1 1/2 cups water, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 14 minutes. Turn of heat and let stand 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
- Combine tahini, lemon juice, 1/2 cup water, and mint in a blender. Blend until smooth; add 3/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.
- Serve quinoa topped with roasted vegetables, avocado, and cucumber and sprinkle with almonds and mint with dressing on the side. (Serves 4)
posted by Plant-Based Cooking. Copyright 2011-2015 by Diane Smith and plantbasedcooking.com. All Rights Reserved.
Moroccan Stew With Kale
You would have to be living in a vacuum to have missed out on the popularity of kale over the last several years. This stew from Diane Cook takes advantage of kale but also a spice melange from Morocco. Listed separately, the spice mixture makes the ingredient list seem large, so I’ve lumped these together. The rest of the ingredients went together very quickly making this stew a candidate for a busy week night. This recipe serves 6; as we are a two-person household, I cut everything in half and still had plenty of leftovers.
- Spice Mixture: 2 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp ground cloves, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, 1/2 tsp ground tumeric, 1/2 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp salt (I generally cook without adding salt, saving that addition for a final adjustment)
- 1 sweet onion chopped
- 2 cups rough chopped kale
- 1 qt vegetable stock (more if you want this to be more soup-like)
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 TBSP honey
- 4 large carrots, chopped
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 3 large potatoes (used Yukon gold), peeled and diced
- 1 15-oz. garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
- 1 tsp ground black pepper to taste
- 1 TBSP cornstarch (optional)
- 1 TBSP water (optional)
- Cook onions on medium high heat in a little water or broth until soft and just beginning to brown (5 to 10 minutes). Stir in the spices and cook until they are fragrant.
- Pour the vegetable broth into the pot. Stir in the tomatoes, honey, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes, garbanzo beans, apricots, and lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low.
- Stir in the shredded kale.
- Simmer stew for 30 minutes until the vegetables and lentils are cooked and tender. Season with salt and black pepper. If desired, combine cornstarch and water and stir into stew. Simmer until stew has thickened, about 5 minutes
Recipe created by The Purple Carrot.
Not too long ago, a good friend of ours made a more authentic paella for us and it was, of course, unbelievable. I would venture to say that my Spanish eating and cooking friends would most definitely assert that this is NOT paella. Paella should have meat or seafood (or both!); however, for the plant-eaters among us, this veggie and brown rice version is delicious.
Saffron Scented Vegetable Paella
The Purple Carrot
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 5 cloves of garlic peeled
- 1 onion (diced)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 4 oz crimini mushrooms
- 1/4 cup parsley
- 1/8 tsp saffron
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 1 can artichoke hearts
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
- salt & pepper to taste
- Rinse and dry all produce. Thinly slice the pepper, discarding the top, inner membrane and seeds. Thinly slice garlic. Halve the mushrooms and cherry tomatoes. Cut lemon into wedges and set aside. Roughly chop parsley leaves, discarding the stems.
- In a large saute pan or paella pan over medium high heat, add olive oil, onions and peppers. Saute until softened, about 3 minutes, then add garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Add saffron and rice, stirring constantly to coat the rice with the flavors of the pan. Allow to cook for 1 minute, then add white wine. Next, add vegetable stock and cover with a lid.
- Allow covered rice mixture to cook for 25 minutes over medium heat. Remove lid and place artichoke hearts in center of pan, followed by tomatoes.
- Cover for 2 more minutes to allow vegetables to heat through.
- Top with chopped parsley and squeeze lemon wedges over the dish. Serve hot and enjoy!
We received our second Purple Carrot order this week, and everything looks as fresh as the last time. Outside of cooking the quinoa and blanching the asparagus, there was no cooking involved. A traditional Bibimbap (meaning: mixed rice) involves warm rice topped with seasoned, sauteed vegetables and topped with a hot or salty sauce. In this version from Purple Carrot, the sauce is a wonderfully hot chile sauce.
created by The Purple Carrot
- 1/2 c edamame (pre-cooked/steamed)
- 1 c quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 2 green onions
- 2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 lb. asparagus
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 c fava beans (pre-cooked)
- 1 c mung bean sprouts
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 2 TBSP guchujang chili paste
- 2 TBSP rice vinegar, 2 tsp tamari, 2 tsp sesame oil
- Prep: wash & dry produce. Roughly chop the spinach. Trim asparagus and chop into 1 inch pieces. Thinly slice green onions (discard bulbs). Rise quinoa over a fine mesh strainer.
- Add quinoa and 2 cups water to small pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, then cover, and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with fork and set aside.
- Blanch the asparagus. Remove from pot into a bowl and run under cold water to stop cooking.
- Make the dressing: whisk together the sauce mix (rice vinegar, tamari, and sesame oil) in a small bowl. Add the gochujang chili paste and whisk until a smooth consistency is formed, about 1 minute.
- To serve, assemble each bowl with quinoa, spinach, fava beans, asparagus, edamame, green onions, carrots, and mung bean sprouts. Top with sesame seeds and gochujang sauce.