Tag Archives: mushrooms

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.

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Birthday Pizza!

Brent’s birthday was last month and he wanted pizza. We do periodically make our own crust but I wanted something special so I went to a bakery that knows it’s stuff for a pre-made crust. The Zen Cat Bakery has been a favorite for years with delectable vegan treats that are also reliably gluten-free. I wanted to give them a shout-out for making my early days as a vegan bearable.

I’ve been a big fan of their Super Chunk food bars and Oh Snap! Triple Ginger cookies (above is a picture of what happens to them whenever they arrive) but I digress: this post is about pizza. I ordered 4 pizza crusts from the owner, Angie Kenny via email. I told her when I needed them and they arrived on time and intact.

Before long I also knew they were as delicious and as durable as a wheat crust but without the gastrointestinal distress. We followed Angie’s instructions and created a pizza with vegan gluten-free sausage, mushrooms and pepperoncini peppers.It’s hard to go wrong with all that deliciousness going on.

We covered it with Daiya shreds in cheddar and baked it to toasty perfection.

We found the crusts flavorful but not overpowering and the texture was lightly chewy and airy but substantial. The only thing missing is nutrition data for my daily calorie counting (watching my girlish figure…) but there were no complaints.

Brent was a happy birthday boy and was really psyched to know that we can get awesome pizza crusts! Let me know which companies get your business when you go vegan by mail or if you’ve been by the Zen Cat bakery.

This is Christie, signing off!

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Lighter Green Thai Curry

Brent and I eat too much delicious food apparently and are trying to figure out more ways to enjoy our favorite foods without packing on the pounds. I decided to make some Thai green curry.

To start, Brent chopped this mountain of vegetables. We put just about everything that we had into this bad boy including

1 head of broccoli, cut into florets

1 lb. of green beans

2 portabella caps, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 onion, sliced

5 scallions, chopped

4 Thai peppers, sliced

a small knob of ginger

1 tin of bamboo shoots, drained

1 13.5 oz. can of light coconut milk

1.5 cups of almond, soy or coconut milk

1 handful of Thai basil (optional)

1 tbsp green curry paste

juice and zest from a lime (save half for wedges to garnish the dish)

1 drop of lemongrass extract or 1 stalk of lemongrass, pounded to release fragrance

olive oil

1 tsp coconut or turbinado sugar (more if you like it sweet)

salt to taste

Check curry pastes carefully. Many contain shrimp paste which is bad for anyone with an allergy and not suitable for vegans. I started by putting the Thai peppers, lemongrass or extract (remove the lemongrass before serving), onion and ginger into the pan with some olive oil.

I sauteed them until the onion started to brown. Then I added the coconut milk, lime zest, sugar and curry paste. I didn’t get as much zestyness as I wanted from the lime so I added some additional lemon zest (2 pinches) when I was adjusting the sweetness and seasonings.

Then we added the broccoli, green beans, and mushrooms and allowed them to steam lightly for 3-4 minutes while mixing them into the sauce. If you’re interested in adding some protein, a 2.5 cups of chickpeas or some pressed cubed tofu would make an excellent addition. I added the scallions, bamboo shoots and bell pepper about 5 minutes later. I squeezed the lime over it and mixed in the Thai basil. and stirred it until I could smell the basil.

We served it over quinoa with white wine. German style white wines compliment this kind of dish well, particularly riesling or gewurztraminer. It was definitely a spicy green curry but much lighter than I’m used to. I mostly tasted vegetables and peppery coconut which isn’t a bad thing. I’d love to hear how you lighten up your favorite dshes.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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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!

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Creamy Mushroom Soup!

This was comfort food. It’s raining sideways again here in Miami and you just gotta have something decadent. We used the following:

1.5 cups mushrooms, chopped roughly

1 carton of silken tofu

1 onion, diced

1/2 cup of white wine (we used a chardonnay)

1 tsp herbes de provence

1 pinch nutmeg

1 cube bouillon

1 generous pinch sage

2 tbsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp olive oil

water to texture

salt and black pepper to taste

I combined the white wine and tofu in my blender and blended it until smooth. Then I put the onion and mushrooms in a pan and sauteed until the onion was translucent. I added the rest of the ingredients, adjusted the seasonings and then added water until I liked the texture.

I garnished with some shredded basil and served it. It was creamy and earthy and savory and soothing and with lots of protein and not a lot of fat. This would be awesome hot with a big tomato salad or as a cold appetizer. It’s also quick and easy enough to make for a quick lunch.

This is Christie, signing off!

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I Love Freeze-For-Whenever Olive Black-eyed Pea Burgers!

I’ve been battling mooshy burgers since I started making vegan burgers. I’ve found that if they’re firm enough, they’re often too dry. If they’re moist enough, they moosh out the side of your bun. What is a girl to do?

I decided to experiment with making frozen patties because it seems to work so well for all those store bought brands. I assembled the following:

1 cup of black-eyed peas, soaked OR 1 can of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup of sliced olives

1/4 cup of mushrooms, chopped (optional)

1/4 onion, chopped

1/4 cup bread crumbs (I chopped some gluten-free bread in my food processor)

1 tbsp onion salt

1 tsp garlic salt

2 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp coriander

2 tbsp corn oil

red pepper flakes and salt to taste

If you’re using dried beans, take a moment to microwave them in water 3-4 times at 2 minute intervals to soften them slightly. We put all the ingredients into a bowl and I set my expert moosher (that’s Brent) to power moosh. It wasn’t long before it was looking and smelling like burger material so I started scooping the mixture into some plastic freezer safe containers.

I made sure that the patties were compacted and of a relatively uniform thickness, about 1/2-3/4 inch. I put a piece of plastic wrap over it and then used the next one to help compact the burger. I put them in the freezer until I was ready to use them.

These were actually some of the best burgers Brent and I have prepared. They were moist and held together and had a pleasing dense texture. They tasted enough like ground beef to be a little disturbing. I have no desire to eat cows!

I am going to take a moment to discuss why ground beef isn’t so great for your body. The obvious stuff aside (cholesterol, saturated fat, hormones and antibiotics) cooking beef or any meat is a tricky business. Preparing meat for food means balancing microbial contaminants with carcinogenic compounds that are formed when meat is cooked. Big agribusiness has made the case that they cannot ‘efficiently’ process large volumes of animals without some inherent contamination by the animals’ feces. This means that if you buy meat, it’s got poop on it and the law says that’s okay. They cover their butts (pardon my language) by saying, “Cook it thoroughly.” Which translates to, “If you get sick it’s your fault for not cooking it thoroughly.” Try telling that to the hundreds of thousands of people that get some form of food poisoning or another every year from eating meat.

So fine, meat is ‘safe’ if you cook it thoroughly but back to the issue of how cooking fundamentally changes the composition of what you’re eating.  Smoked and cured meats have long been the accused culprits of causing colon cancer partly because of how they’re prepared: prolonged exposure to heat. Cancers of the digestive tract are among of the most common and more deadly kinds of cancer, one in 6 will get it and one third of those will die from it within 5 years of being diagnosed.

So you can follow some tips to reduce the risk of introducing carcinogens into your diet or you can skip straight to legumes and other plants (including black-eyed peas!) which have long been associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. One of the likely reasons for this activity is phytic acid . This is one of those small molecules that makes biochemists like me swoon but it’s properties speak for themselves. In the context of a Western diet the ability of phytic acid to sequester certain minerals that, in excess, can cause the kind of oxidative stress on the lining of the digestive tract that can eventually lead to cancer. Phytic acid when bound to fluoride from your drinking water, for example, will be excreted in your waste. Still, you can easily reduce the amount of phytic acid by soaking legumes them overnight or sprouting if you’re worried.


I think I’ve rambled enough. Time for burgers! Just pop them out of their frozen container, no thawing necessary and cook on medium high heat until they start to brown. Mine are a little charred… probably why they reminded me so much of ground beef, but they were definitely firm on the outside and moist and delightful on the inside. Yay!

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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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!

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Tofu Rogan Josh

So… Indian food… awesome… yeah. I’ve got a few Indian colleagues and one of them gave me her recipe for lamb rogan josh and I did my best to veganize it.You’ll need the following:

1 package water packed tofu, pressed and chopped into bite-sized chunks.
1 package of baby bella mushrooms, quartered
1 green bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1-2 tbsp corn oil or other oil suitable for frying
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 big toe sized piece of ginger, minced
1 pinkie sized piece of turmeric, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
15-20 curry leaves
2 tbsp of vegan cream cheese
1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 14oz tin of peeled plum tomatoes
1 lime, juice and zest, cut in half
curry leaves, to taste
salt and pepper to taste (garam masala works instead of pepper)

Getting the ingredients together was the hardest part. Finding fresh curry leaves was a mission but we did… did you know they grow on trees? I didn’t know that before our quest for curry leaves. They’re pretty important for this dish so I recommend seeking them out.
To start, add the onion to a large pot with the corn oil and fry it on high temperature until the onion starts to become translucent. Add the garlic, turmeric, curry leaves and ginger and keep frying. Add the dry spices and zest and keep frying.This should look and be very dry. When the spices become fragrant and everything in the kitchen smells awesome

Add the tomato, 1/2 lime juice and cream cheese and mix. If you’ve got a hand blender, now is the time to use it. Otherwise, before the tomato gets too hot, put it all in your blender and mix until smooth.

Add the tofu and mushrooms and allow to simmer for at least 45 minutes so the tofu takes on the flavors of the dish. Stir in the green bell pepper and coriander 10 minutes before serving.

So we served this with quinoa and red wine and it was not too far off from what I’ve had in restaurants: tart, creamy, herbal and rich. Did I mention I love Indian food?

It was loaded with veggies, protein and exciting herbs. Even if it wasn’t authentic, it’s still delicious and good for you. We hope you get to try it.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Chocolate Rosepetal Chipotle Tofu!

This was definitely an experiment. I love rose and I’ve got an abundance of rose petals so I decided to give them a go in something savory instead of sweet for a change. You’ll need the following:

4 tbsp rose petals
1 carton of water packed tofu, cut into slabs
1-2 tablespoons Earthbalance or other vegan butter
1 large pinch of chipotle pepper or to taste
salt to taste
4 tbsp slivered almonds, toasted
1 tsp agave or rice nectar
1 generous pinch of chocolate powder
1/2 cup almond or soy milk (more if needed)
a dry white wine to deglaze your pan and that will also compliment your meal, you’ll need about half a cup

I started with some frozen tofu that I sliced into 2 slabs. I covered each side of each slab lightly in Butler’s Chik-Style Seasoning and a gentle sprinkle of cracked black pepper and sauteed them in 1-2 tablespoons of Earth Balance butter until they were lovely golden brown. I set them aside while I began to deglaze the pan.

I added 1 cup of white wine, the rose petals and almonds and swirled it until the almonds started to soften. Then I added the chipotle and chocolate powder. and waited until most of the wine had burned off before adding the almond milk. If it starts to curdle, don’t worry, just add more milk. The almond milk helped to keep the spice of the chipotle from overpowering the rose petals. When it has heated through and you’ve had a chance to adjust the salt pepper and agave nectar, it’s ready.

Pour it over the tofu. Brent made some mushroom wild rice and we steamed some asparagus and had an exotic dinner with some interesting flavors.  Still, something was missing (maybe shallots) and I might leave out the almonds next time (and put them in the rice instead). I’ll let you know what happens if we make this again.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Saag with Sweet Potato

Brent and I really love Indian food. We make several versions of Americanized favorites including saag. Typically saag is a spinach based sauce flavored with cilantro, chili and turmeric and usually includes chunks of potato, mushroom, and/or paneer. Paneer is a bland home-made cheese so we use tofu that we’ve marinated in lime juice instead. Today, however, we’re using cubes of sweet potato because we had a random sweet potato floating around the apartment (I just had a funny mental image). We put the following into the blender for a creamy base:

1 box of MoriNu soft silken tofu (If you’ve got a soy allergy, soak 1/2 cup of cashews overnight, drain them and add to your blender. This actually tastes marginally better but adds a lot of fat)

1 thumb sized piece of turmeric or 1 tsp powdered turmeric

5-7 cloves of garlic

a generous pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño pepper or generous spoon of chili paste

1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

This mixture was blended until creamy. Then I added the following greens in the following order, blending thoroughly between:

1 bunch cilantro (stems and leaves)

1 bunch of Swiss chard or mustard greens

1 bunch of spinach

The cilantro goes in first because the stems need to get cut finely. The stems have a lot of flavor. Swiss chard will make a milder saag, mustard greens will make it spicier. Spinach is just a wondrous vegetable. EAT IT!!! Frozen greens work fine for this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I transferred the contents of the blender to my big pan and rinsed out the blender with almond milk (use soy if you’ve got a nut allergy) and put the milk into the pan. I started to heat it and added 1 sweet potato cut into bite sized pieces. A carton of water packed tofu or a few handfuls of mushrooms are great veggies to add to your saag.

Heat the saag through and stir frequently until the potato is cooked. It should be thick and make giant messy bubbles if unattended (hence the stirring).

This will take about half an hour. Add water, salt, spices, and pepper as needed. I also use a garam masala spice mix  that an Indian colleague brought me from his home Hyderabad instead of pepper. Cracked black pepper is better for most tastes. It looks like sewage but tastes like awesome!

We served this with quinoa that we prepared in the microwave with several green cardamom pods. I love saag and know it’s not for everyone. It’s very herbal and spicy and is too vegetal for some. That being said, We ate the whole pan and all the quinoa too… I’ve got a blood donation coming up and I need the iron and vitamin K!

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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