Tag Archives: lentils

Plane Foodie Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my in-flight meal review! If you read Part 1, then you know that I was very happy and satisfied with the meal I had on my flight to Ireland. Coming back home had some different results. The vegetarian meal looked promising. The salad was much more “exotic” with the inclusion of cucumber, radishes, and greens other than iceberg lettuce. The dressing was again a balsamic vinaigrette, presented in a packet instead of a cute little bottle. I got crackers, a roll and some margarine. And dessert consisted of fruit.

Turning Veganese - Plane Food

The entree was yellow lentils and dhokla with some eggplant. Dhokla is made with a fermented batter derived from rice and chickpea splits. The lentils were good. I’m not familiar with dhokla so I didn’t know what to make of it. It tasted fine but was nothing to write home about. The eggplant was kind of gross. I don’t know what kind of sauce was on it, but the eggplant itself was rubbery.

photo 4

I was happy with the fruit for dessert! The strawberries, oranges and melon were really good and fresh. I avoided the pineapple to avoid any tummy issues.

The rest of the passengers had a choice between chicken with gnocchi or cheesy spinach pasta. I don’t remember what kind of dressing came with it, but my mom opted to use the rest of my balsamic vinaigrette in her salad. I tried some of the gnocchi – it was prepared with a tomato sauce and was much more tasty than my entree. Their dessert was a cookie.

Next time you fly and your ticket includes a meal, don’t forget to call up the airline and request a vegan or vegetarian meal! It’s an adventure in itself and may even help introduce you to new foods like dhokla.

Stay tuned – I’ll be posting soon on my culinary adventures in Ireland! –Melissa

Tagged , , , , ,

365 Organic Lentil Soup

When I go to Whole Foods these days, it’s usually because I’m on the hunt for something very specific that I can’t find anywhere else, or because it’s the most convenient place to go for certain items. Examples include Chicago Diner vegan desserts (which are available in Whole Foods stores throughout the Midwest) or a Field Roast or Tofurky frozen pizza (I want it when I want it). One really nice thing that Whole Foods does is offer coupons that are actually very decent deals. I end up trying new things because I have a coupon. One new thing that I tried recently was 365 Organic Lentil Soup.

photo (24)

I bought a 2-serving size “juice box” style package of the soup. The box isn’t resealable like most other soup boxes I had seen, so I had to split the contents into two containers which equaled two lunches. That was mildly annoying. It would have been nice to keep the box in the fridge at work. I will say that the packaging does have a clever way of being opened that results in zero to minimal mess and easy pouring.

The soup itself tasted OK. One serving size was a perfect lunch portion for me. It had a decent amount of lentils with some carrots and celery in the mix. No extra seasoning was needed. All I had to do was heat it in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. It was a good meal, but nothing spectacular. It’s nothing more or less than what one would expect from a pre-packaged soup.  I didn’t pay much attention to the ingredients but I did find myself wondering what preservatives were in there in order for the soup to stay fresh while it was sitting in my pantry for a month.

If these are on sale or I come across another coupon, I will likely buy a box or two. It makes a really easy lunch when I have zero time to cook or prepare anything. It’s also cheaper than buying soup at a restaurant or in the cafe, and that’s if I can even find a vegan soup. When I do have time, and I should really make time, I’ll follow Christie’s lentil soup recipe which looks and tastes much better. Homemade is best! –Melissa

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Lazy Vegans: TV Dinner 4

So we’ve been throwing ourselves on these TV dinners with reckless abandon. Well, not literally throwing ourselves since they’re in the freezer.

This one is another Indian delight: vegetable korma. This is something I’m used to from a favorite Indian restaurant. This version was much lighter than the restaurant styles I’m used to and I am a fan. The korma was lightly spicy and flavorful. The vegetables had a good texture. The rice was fluffy and the peas were firm. The daal was savory and smooth.

I’d do it again… if I’m feeling lazy.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lasagna; Comfort Food and Crowd Pleaser

It’s the day after thanksgiving and you probably can’t eat anymore of those greasy garlic smashed potatoes and decadent Tofurkey roast and are wishing for something light and easy. Well, here it is.

I posted about lasagna a while ago and didn’t give instructions because I consider it a self-explanatory free-form dish. Now that the concept is out there I figure I should give you an idea of what I do so you can weigh in and offer your improvements.

You’ll need the following for the layers:

2-3 zucchini, sliced into long thin strips or 1 large eggplant sliced thin and sauteed

1/2 lb spinach, fresh or frozen

For the tofu ricotta:

1 package of tofu, any kind will do (use a cup of dry cashews, soaked if you’ve got a soy allergy)

1 tsp Italian seasoning

1 tbsp onion powder

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tbsp garlic powder

1 pinch salt

For the filling:

1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, dried or fresh

1/2 cup of textured vegetable protein or TVP (use lentils if you’ve got a soy allergy)

1 cube of bouillon, I like “beef” for this recipe

1 tbsp cumin powder

1/2 tbsp coriander powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 pinch nutmeg

1 pinch chili powder

1/2 onion, chopped

4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced

Topping:

pasta sauce (a href=”http://theveganshusband.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/the-worlds-best-pasta-sauce/”>I like this one

Daiya or other vegan cheese

Miscellaneous:

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil as needed

Below is my first layer.

I sprayed my pan lightly with olive oil and then arranged my eggplant on top and then covered it with spinach. I buy fresh spinach for salads and freeze whatever is leftover at the end of the week so we usually have some in the freezer.

I put a little olive oil, the onion and garlic into a pan and sauteed them until the onion started to soften. Meanwhile I prepared the bouillon in a cup of water by heating it in the microwave. I added it to the pan along with the mushrooms, TVP and spices for the filling. I heated it on low until the mixture had absorbed most of the moisture.

I added it to the baking dish, poured some sauce over it, put down another layer of spinach and prepared the tofu ricotta.

The tofu and spices went into a bowl and mooshed to conformity!


I didn’t make quite enough so maybe I’ll double the ricotta next time. It’s kind of important to the recipe to have copious ricotta or this will more closely resemble a vegetable casserole than veggie lasagna.

After adding the tofu, we added another layer of eggplant and spinach and then topped it with pasta sauce and Daiya.

I baked it at 350F/170C for an hour and then we accidentally the whole thing. Top with chopped black olives and shredded basil if you want something pretty AND delicious. Yay!

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Vegan Lasagna

I make a lot of vegan lasagnas because it’s what happens when I’ve got too many vegetables in the fridge that aren’t suitable for juicing, like mushrooms, zucchini and eggplant. It’s something I suspect a lot of vegans do and just don’t talk about… correct me if I’m wrong. (this is the eggplant version after baking, below)

We slice the zucchini or eggplant thin to use instead of noodles and go from there. Usually we line the baking dish with zucchini or eggplant, cover that with a layer of spinach and cover it in soaked lentils flavored with tomato and garlic and other spices plus whatever veggies we’ve got mixed in. (pre-baking, below)

I usually sneak in another layer of spinach if I’ve got it.Then we make tofu ricotta (tofu blended with a little arrowroot starch, onion and garlic powder, Italian seasoning, etc), pour that over the lentil veggie layer and make another layer of ‘noodles’ cover with some more tomato sauce, sprinkle with nut parmesan, Daiya, and/or nutritional yeast and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour at 350F/180C until it’s bubbly and the ‘noodles’ are tender. It’ll depend on the size as to how long it’ll need to cook. Usually when it’s bubbling up the sides, you’re set! (zucchini version below, after baking)

I’m not writing a recipe for this because I don’t want to box anyone in with specifics. I’d also love to hear your favorite vegan lasagna recipes or little tips and tricks you’d offer to others.

What’s great about vegan lasagna is that it affords the opportunity to eat the nutrients vegans sometimes have trouble getting without a lot of effort. B vitamins, iron and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are among the nutrients that vegans sometimes miss out on due to eating a compassionate diet. Spinach (for iron), nutritional yeast (B-vitamins) and nuts (omega fatty acids) are my favorite sources of these nutrients.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

These make great leftovers but don’t normally make it to that stage.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Daal Biryani

Bryani is a dish that’s a regional specialty in one of my co-workers’ home town, Hyderabad, India. She gave me her recipe which calls for lamb and asked me to know how the vegan version pans out. I told her I planned to use lentils and she corrected me, “daal” so that’s what I’m calling it. We used the following:

1 cup of lentils or black-eyed peas, soaked and drained
1 cup split lentils, washed and drained
2-3 chili peppers (we’re using 2 jalapeños)
1 big toe sized piece of ginger, sliced
1 thumb sized piece of turmeric, sliced

some curry leaves if you’ve got them
2-3 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 carton of silken tofu
juice from 1 lemon

2 medium onions, sliced into strips
4 smallish tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
4 medium white mushrooms, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 pinch of cumin seeds
3 bay leaves

corn oil

1 cup of basmati rice

Put a tablespoon or so of corn oil into a large pan and add the cumin seeds. Heat it until they start to sputter, then add the onion, peppers, ginger, turmeric, garam masala, coriander, cumin, tofu and lemon juice into a large pot, add a little corn oil and stir fry. Add about 1.5 liters of water and use a hand blender to mix everything into a smooth creamy broth.

Chop your veggies while that heats to a simmer.

Now mix in the veggies, legumes and rice.

We added eggplant in addition to mushrooms. They’ll float to the top, this isn’t a problem; it means you won’t need a lid.. Cook until all the water is absorbed and the rice and legumes are tender. This will take about 1 hour give or take 15 minutes on low heat. You can also bake it at 350F/180C in your favorite baking dish for about an hour.

This is a great meal for hungry people who like curry. I don’t know how it measures up to the carnist version, but we managed to eat all of it within 2 days and considering it was almost too big for the pot I was using, this is really saying something. Brent wanted to add some chopped green peppers to the mix immediately before serving next time for a sweet crisp crunch and I agree that would add something. If you try it, let me know. Enjoy!

This is Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Lentil Mushroom Loaf

This particular experiment will have to have another go. I wanted to make a lentil loaf in the spirit of meat loaf. Meat loaf always concerned me as a kid because I couldn’t tell what it was made of except that I always saw cousin Mary dumping crackers and meat that had been into the refrigerator long enough that not really be called meat anymore into a bowl and later, meatloaf would appear. Hmmm… I wonder if I should talk to a therapist about that. Anyways, my experiment involved the following:

1 carton of silken tofu

2 cups of mushrooms

1 1/2 cups of lentils

3 cups water

2 cubes of ‘beef’ bouillon

1 tsp sage

1 tsp thyme

1 pinch nutmeg

6 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup of flax meal

salt and pepper to taste

I cooked the lentils with the water in my microwave with the bouillon. I heated them at 2 minute intervals until the water was all absorbed.

When they were ready I put them into my food processor with the rest of the ingredients.

I mixed it until relatively smooth and then put it into my loaf pan. I baked it at 350F/175C until a toothpick came out clean – about 45 minutes. We sliced it up and made it into sandwiches that were hearty, savory and aromatic. The sage and thyme definitely made a great combo with the mushrooms and lentils.

I think that the flavors were good but I might add some cumin and coriander along with soy sauce instead of salt. It developed a nice firm crust but I think that more flax meal would make it stick together better. I might also not blend up the mushrooms I think the presence of whole mushrooms will make this more visually attractive. A diced onion might help that too. This was delightfully moist but the texture was more like paté than loaf. There will definitely be a next time.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rice Cooker Cuisine: Persian-Inspired Rice & Lentils

This dish was my attempt to recreate the dish I had at Noon-O-Kabab a few weeks ago. As you’ll see, my creation doesn’t look anything like adas polo, but it was easy to make, made my kitchen wonderfully fragrant, and was a pretty good replication in terms of flavor.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
1 cup lentils (I used red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

I put the brown rice and lentils in my rice cooker pot, rinsed them, and then added water to fill up to the 2 cup line. I did measure out the water this time around for those of you who don’t have a rice cooker: it was just under two cups of water. I also want to note that the rice was slightly undercooked, so I will go with 2 and a half to 3 cups of water next time. I put the pot in the cooker and then turned it on.

Immediately after pushing the “on” button, I prepared the garlic, onion, and dates. I then heated some olive oil in a pan and browned the garlic, onion, and dates along with the spices. When the onions were nearly translucent, I removed it from heat and then added it to the rice cooker pot, stirring it in to the rice and lentils. Tip: use a wooden spoon or spatula when mixing stuff around in a rice cooker! Anything metal can scratch the pot and that is no bueno.

I stirred the mixture every 5-10 minutes to keep it from sticking. It stuck a bit anyway. Sigh. The above photo how it looked when the rice cooker first thought it was finished. I gave it a quick stir and pushed the “on” button again, and it cooked for at least another 5 minutes.

Finished! I had a moment of panic at first (uhhh… where did my lentils go! I need my protein and iron!) but the lentils had gotten mushed in with the rice pretty quickly.

I sprinkled some salt and pepper on tomato, onion, and bell pepper and broiled it in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes. They were a great accompaniment to the rice and lentils.

Mmmmm… cinnamon…. –Melissa

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Rice Cooker Cuisine: Persian-Inspired Rice & Lentils

This dish was my attempt to recreate the dish I had at Noon-O-Kabab a few weeks ago. As you’ll see, my creation doesn’t look anything like adas polo, but it was easy to make, made my kitchen wonderfully fragrant, and was a pretty good replication in terms of flavor.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice
1 cup lentils (I used red)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 an onion, chopped
2 dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil

I put the brown rice and lentils in my rice cooker pot, rinsed them, and then added water to fill up to the 2 cup line. I did measure out the water this time around for those of you who don’t have a rice cooker: it was just under two cups of water. I also want to note that the rice was slightly undercooked, so I will go with 2 and a half to 3 cups of water next time. I put the pot in the cooker and then turned it on.

Immediately after pushing the “on” button, I prepared the garlic, onion, and dates. I then heated some olive oil in a pan and browned the garlic, onion, and dates along with the spices. When the onions were nearly translucent, I removed it from heat and then added it to the rice cooker pot, stirring it in to the rice and lentils. Tip: use a wooden spoon or spatula when mixing stuff around in a rice cooker! Anything metal can scratch the pot and that is no bueno.

I stirred the mixture every 5-10 minutes to keep it from sticking. It stuck a bit anyway. Sigh. The above photo how it looked when the rice cooker first thought it was finished. I gave it a quick stir and pushed the “on” button again, and it cooked for at least another 5 minutes.

Finished! I had a moment of panic at first (uhhh… where did my lentils go! I need my protein and iron!) but the lentils had gotten mushed in with the rice pretty quickly.

I sprinkled some salt and pepper on tomato, onion, and bell pepper and broiled it in the toaster oven for about 10 minutes. They were a great accompaniment to the rice and lentils.

Mmmmm… cinnamon…. –Melissa

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Adventures in Dining Out: Noon-O-Kabab

Noon-O-Kabab has been one of my favorite Chicago restaurants for several years. It’s a Persian restaurant in the Albany Park neighborhood. It’s grown in size and even has a separate location a few doors down for carry-out orders. My usual order at Noon-O-Kabab was their excellent Lamb Shank, cooked and seasoned to perfection. Other favorites were their rib eye and seasoned ground sirloin. Obviously, I had to find something new to try when I went there for dinner recently.

I’m usually disappointed when I figure out what my limited choices are at a restaurant, but I knew Noon-O-Kabab wouldn’t let me down. They have a handful of vegetarian and vegan options, plus several vegan-friendly appetizers. I chose the Adass Polo: a mix of lentils, raisins, caramelized onions, saffron and Persian barberry served with Persian white rice.

You guys, this was excellent. The rice alone is worth the trip, and you can rest easy knowing that they don’t use butter in their cooking. The mix of lentils with raisins and saffron and the barberry gives the dish an sweet and somewhat tangy mix of flavors. It was served with grilled tomato, onion, and bell pepper. I’m looking forward to trying to make this in my own kitchen.

All my dining experiences at Noon-O-Kabab have been pleasant and there are a few servers who have been there since I first went there years ago. The food is always fresh, the restaurant is casual but cozy, and the demographic of the diners is always diverse. As the restaurant has grown, the quality of the food has remained high.

I’m looking forward to trying out another vegan dish next time I go to Noon-O-Kabab. If you’re in the Chicago area, try it out! –Melissa

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: