Category Archives: Vegetarianism

Vegan experiment

It will be a cold day in Goffs before my beekeeping, cappuccino-loving, chicken-owning self goes all-out vegan, but since I’m planning to whip myself back into marathon shape this summer and have a little down time to spend in the kitchen next week, I thought I’d look into the feasibility of swapping about three-fourths of my usual diet for vegan alternatives, which tend to be an ideal fuel for distance runners.

With that in mind, I test-drove a couple of recipes today. I forgot to take pictures, but the results were good enough that I thought I’d share the recipes, such as they are.

The first recipe was a mock tuna salad made from chickpeas. I know what you’re thinking, and I thought the same thing, but I found this recipe over at Namely Marly and decided to riff on it a little bit. Here’s my version:

Drain a can of garbanzos and mash ’em up with a fork. We’re not talking hummus-smooth here; just knock ’em down to a coarse mush and call it good. Stir in a finely chopped rib of celery, a handful of halved grape tomatoes, a handful of chopped pecans or walnuts, about a tablespoon of mustard, and about half a cup of Nayonaise and serve as you would tuna salad. It’s doesn’t taste precisely like tuna salad, but it’s close enough, and Ron liked it, so I’ll probably make it again.

As I was buying bananas for smoothies the other day, I noticed a sticker on the bananas for something called “Yonanas,” the description for which sounded like a glorified smoothie. I Googled it, and lo and behold, it is a glorified smoothie made in an overpriced small-batch food processor.

I looked over the recipes and decided I could get the same results with a blender and a Mason jar. I peeled and chunked up a couple of bananas and stuck them in the freezer last night. This evening, I put them in the blender, a little at a time, with a splash or two of horchata (which was all I had on hand, but soymilk would work just as well) and processed them until they were the texture of slightly melted soft-serve ice cream. Not bad. I’ll swap chocolate syrup for the horchata next time to give it more flavor.

Tomorrow: tabouli with couscous instead of bulgur.


Chooks and smoothies

First, the chooks:



And a smoothie (with a tiny gnome in the background, courtesy of Kathryn):


Here’s the recipe, if anybody is interested:

About a cup and a half of crushed ice
About a cup of orange juice
Two organic bananas
About half a cup of frozen organic cranberries
About a cup of frozen homegrown blackberries

Blend until smooth. The blackberries give it that gorgeous dark purple color. Bonus: This recipe is completely vegan.


Vegan spanakopita

I made something this evening that’s probably best described as a sort of vegan turnover with spanakopita filling.

As usual, I had one recipe and insufficient ingredients for either, so I made something up as I went along

Vegan Spanakopita

1 box frozen fillo leaves, thawed
2 boxes frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 c. chopped onion
Olive oil
2/3 c. walnuts, chopped finely
2/3 c. fine breadcrumbs
5 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of fresh mint leaves, minced
1 tbsp. dried dill weed
3 tbsp. lemon juice
1 lb. extra-firm tofu (NOT silken)
1/2 tsp. smoked salt (probably fine with regular salt, too)

Preheat oven to 375 F. Oil a couple of cookie sheets. Drain spinach in a colander for a few minutes while you saute the onions in olive oil until they’re clear. Add spinach to skillet and heat thoroughly. Transfer spinach and onions to large mixing bowl. Add next six ingredients and mix thoroughly. Mash smoked salt into tofu. Add to spinach mixture.

Lay one fillo leaf on a sheet of waxed paper. Brush lightly with olive oil. Lay a second fillo leaf on top of the first. Fold in half. Place a small handful of spinach mixture on the fillo leaf, about three inches from the left edge of the fillo. Fold end over spinach mixture. Fold top and bottom edges over about 1/2 inch. Starting on the left, fold dough over and over until you have a neat little packet of filling surrounded by dough.

Place on cookie sheets and bake at 375 F for 30 minutes.

Makes about a dozen little spinach-filled turnovers.

This recipe is kind of a hybrid between two of Mollie Katzen’s recipes: spanakopita and spinach borek. The tofu stands in nicely for the cottage cheese in the spanakopita.


Mexican gumbo

When I worked at the paper, our vegetarian-in-residence would go out and pick up Qdoba for lunch about once a week. I got totally hooked on their “Mexican gumbo,” which is really just a bowl of white rice topped with black beans, tortilla soup, salsa, cheese, and sour cream.

Qdoba is great, but $6 is a lot of money for what basically amounts to a bowl of rice and beans … so I decided to take their basic concept and improvise on it in my own kitchen. This is what I came up with:

1. Make a batch of white rice and add some cilantro to it. If you don’t have one, do yourself a favor and buy a Black and Decker rice cooker. We got one last night, and it is AWESOME. You just put in your rice and water, turn it on, and ignore it. It automatically shuts itself off when it’s done cooking. It’s like a Crock-Pot, only smarter.

2. Make some black beans (I do mine overnight in the Crock-Pot, but you can just nuke some canned beans if you’re in a hurry).

3. Make a pan of tortilla soup. Here’s my recipe:

1 cube Knorr vegetable bouillon
About a pint of water
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 can of chopped green chiles
2 tsp. minced garlic
Chili powder to taste
Cumin to taste

Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. If this were truly tortilla soup, I would cut corn tortillas into strips and fry them at this point, but since I’m just using this as a base for gumbo, I didn’t bother.

4. Put a big scoop of rice, a big scoop of beans, and a big scoop of tortilla soup in a bowl. Top with salsa, finely shredded Mexican cheese, and sour cream. If you want, add hot sauce and maybe a spritz of lime juice.

Great stuff, and very easy. I’ll probably make this next time I have a party. Vegans can skip the cheese and sour cream and still have a pretty good meal.


Hoppin’ Juan

Another one from the 101 Things list: Here’s a new vegan recipe. (Does it count as “trying a new recipe” if I just make it up as I go instead of actually using a recipe?)

I don’t really know what to call this. It’s sort of like Hoppin’ John, sort of like chili, and sort of like posole. I guess I’ll name it Hoppin’ Juan. Anyway, here it is:

1/4 c. chopped onion
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (use more if you have it; I was running low)
1 can diced tomatoes
Chili powder to taste
Cumin to taste
Paprika to taste
Bacon Salt to taste (OK to substitute a little ground chipotle or a dash of smoke flavoring)
1 can blackeyed peas, drained
1 can hominy, drained
1 can chopped green chiles

Saute onions in olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes and spices. Stir. Bring to a boil. Add blackeyed peas and Bacon Salt and bring to a boil. Add hominy and chiles and bring to a boil. Serve with tortilla chips and hot sauce.

Bacon Salt is, for the record, completely vegan. It is also laden with MSG, but I think that’s a small price to pay for salt that tastes like bacon. In this recipe, it helps make the blackeyed peas taste as if they’ve been cooked with salt pork.

Noodles Milanese

In keeping with my promise to myself on the 101 Things list, here’s your flavor-of-the-week vegetarian (but not vegan) recipe:

Noodles Milanese
adapted slightly from The Gradual Vegetarian by Lisa Tracy

Half a bag of egg noodles
Two large tomatoes, cut into chunks
Half a cup of frozen chopped onions (fresh is fine; I just happened to have frozen on hand)
Two cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp. plain yogurt
Grated cheese

Start the noodles. Saute the onion in butter until it’s clear. Add tomatoes, garlic, and basil and cook until tomatoes disintegrate and turn into a chunky sauce. The noodles should be just about ready by the time the sauce is done. Drain cooked noodles and toss them with the yogurt. Top with tomato mixture and grated cheese. Serves 2.