Saturday, December 31, 2016

Lentil Pâté - Faux Gras

 Ahoy there! I have a new version of vegan pâté that will knock your socks off. It is packed with protein and has no added oils beyond what's in the walnuts and lentils. Most importantly, it's delicious with fresh vegetables for a nice snack. We served it for holiday dinner and our guest christened it as "faux gras", and so it shall henceforth be known!

2 cups lentils
1 cup walnuts
6 large mushrooms, crimini or similar
1 yellow onion
about 1/3 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp Kala Namak salt, or to taste

Soak lentils overnight until they soften - it'll improve the nutritional content of the dish. The next day, cover with water and cook until soft.

While the lentils are cooking, slice the onion thinly and cut mushrooms into little pieces. place two pans on the stove. In one of them, dry roast the walnuts for about 10 minutes, until they develop deep brown spots. In the other, place about 1 tbsp of vegetable broth and saute the onions for about 10 minutes or until translucent and brownish. Add more broth to prevent sticking to the pan. When onions are soft, add mushrooms and continue cooking until the onion is an appealing shade of brown. Place walnuts and onion-mushroom mixture in food processor and pulse-process until smooth. Add the lentils and pulse until everything is mixed to your desired consistency. Add tomato paste, cumin, and Kala Namak salt to taste and pulse until everything is to your taste. Serve with wedges and sticks of  vegetables, like cucumbers, radishes, carrots, celery sticks, or bell peppers, or use as an unusual and delicious sandwich filling.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Thoughts about Green Smoothies

When I visited my friend Yael in Israel, she made us a green smoothie in an effort to recreate something delicious she'd had at a joint called rebar. It was very tasty and very green, and also, I thought, better than the original.

I like drinking smoothies in the morning, and come up with all kinds of awesome recipes for them, but last night's correspondence with my friend Tzili Paz-Wolk, who has amazing and awesome knowledge about food, made me think about it. Tzili's approach to nutrition is very compassionate and intuitive, and she pushes me to figure out my deep needs and how my food choices address them (effectively or less so). One thing she pointed out yesterday was that my shakes tend to rely on ready-made plant milks, like soy and almond. And she's right: making almond milk from scratch is very easy, especially with my mighty Vitamix, but I seldom do it. The reason for that is that the ready-made stuff is already fortified with vitamins, especially B12, which I always worry about (even though I supplement almost daily with a sublingual spray.) Also, I tend to prefer soymilk or artificially boosted protein milks because I worry that a breakfast with insufficient protein won't sustain me for the rest of my day.

So this morning I'm doing an experiment: I'm having a shake based only on unprocessed ingredients (well, processed in my own blender). The ingredients are:

1/3 of a large cucumber (one Persian cucumber's worth)
2 large celery stalks
handful of cilantro
1 cup spinach leaves
1/4 cup cashews
1 tangerine
1 pear

It's much less sweet than what I'm used to, but that can be cured with a banana or some berries next time. The flavor is fresh and tasty. Maybe I'll make it a point to greenify my shakes more than I have before. Look, even Inti seems to dig it (and took a few sips!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

_____ of Broccoli Soup

I'm a fairly moderate fan of cream of broccoli soup, but being under the weather today I decided to make a lighter version, with no plant milk or tofu. This one is pureed (hence the creaminess) but includes only vegetables and a few chickpeas. It's a slight variation on the Forks Over Knives recipe.

4 cups broccoli, stems and florets
1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 onion, diced
3 celery stalks, sliced
1/3 a big sweet potato, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup hot water
juice from 1 lemon

Separate broccoli stems from florets. Place onion, carrots, celery, sweet potato, and garlic in a pot and add a splash of the vegetable broth. Saute until onion is translucent. Then, add the rest of the broth and the water, lower the heat, and cook for 10 mins.

Add the florets and the chickpeas and cook for another 15 mins, or until the florets are very soft.

Scoop out the solids in batches and puree in the blender with some of the liquid. Return to the pot. Add a bit of hot water if necessary for a soupier consistency. Drizzle the lemon juice in.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

It's been a quiet solstice here, and I've been using new recipes. For some reason, I'm more attracted to simple ingredients these days, as close as possible to their original form, so there are lots of salads and soups and not a lot of mock animal things. In this recipe, too, I resisted adding meat or cheese analogues of any kind, and I think you'll find the simplicity refreshing.

The recipe is adapted from this Forks Over Knives recipe, which, in its turn, comes from Thug Kitchen. I had winter vegetables, rather than the summer ones in the recipe, so I used those, and I added a half-cup of garbanzo beans. I'd love to try the original sometime, but I worked with the bounty I had and the result was spectacular.

1 cup brown rice pasta spirals
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup small broccoli florets
4 asparagus stems, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 leek, sliced into rings
1 red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp marjoram
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Start the water for the pasta. In the meantime, heat the oven to 350 degrees and place a silicone mat on a baking sheet. Place the vegetables, the garlic, and the garbanzos on the sheet in one layer. Drizzle with the lemon juice and sprinkle the marjoram. Mix a bit with your hands to make sure the lemon is everywhere. Place in oven for 20-25 mins.

In the meantime, cook the pasta, drain it, and return to the pot. When the vegetables are done, add them to the pasta and drizzle balsamic vinegar. Mix and eat to your heart's content.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Spelt Banana Bread

This evening I tried a new recipe for banana bread, and this one was a huge success. It's sweetened only with the bananas, doesn't have cinnamon or nutmeg, and has chia seeds in lieu of flax. The process was so simple and mess-free, partly because of our new and wonderful hand mixer. Here goes:

Wet Ingredients

4 bananas, mashed
1/3 cup nut milk (I used unsweetened soy)
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp chia seeds
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients

2 cups whole spelt flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
handful of walnut halves

Heat oven to 350 Farhenheit. Mash bananas well. Add nut milk, coconut oil, chia seeds, and vanilla extract, and whisk or mix well. The chia will absorb some of the liquids and make the whole thing a bit more gel-like. Then, add the dry ingredients and whisk/mix until just combined. Pour into loaf pan and decorate the top with walnut halves. Bake for about 45-50 mins or until pick/fork comes out dry. Let cool for about 30 mins, then take out of pan and place on cooling rack.

Edited to add: You can replace the banana with 1 1/3 cup apple sauce, add a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, and decorate the top with small apple chunks or slices in lieu of walnuts. Comes out fantastic!