Category Archives: Vegetarianism

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.