February 25, 2012 § 5 Comments
Don’t worry, I’m not about to tell you that I’ve gone all raw or anything. While I fully admire people who eat raw food all the time, I need some warm food here and there. But I never thought I’d eat vegan, so who knows. Raw food doesn’t exactly scream tastiness to me, but I guarantee this recipe is absolutely bursting with flavor! And you have to admit, any no-cook recipe with flavor is a winner.
This raw vegan zucchini recipe is not only full of fiber and essential vitamins, but it is seriously good. I served this to my hubby one day for lunch and I don’t think he even noticed it was raw at first. It tasted that good. He practically licked the bowl clean and even asked if this was a recipe he could make on his own. Let’s be clear – there aren’t many recipes that he’s asked if he could make. This was a winner.
The tender spaghetti-like zucchini noodles absorb all the yummy goodness of the lemony garlic oil and contrast nicely with the hearty chickpeas and sweet tomatoes. This is one of those recipes that’s good after 30 minutes and fantastic after hours of chilling out and marinating.
A few notes on this recipe. The zucchini noodles with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, and garlic makes a great base. You could add anything you want. Basil and pine nuts make a nice addition. I recently added boiled cut potatoes and arugula to the mix which was just delicious. If you don’t love raw garlic
we can’t be friends just reduce to either one clove or opt for slicing it into larger chunks so you can pick it out with your fork. Likewise, if you’re not a big lemon fan you may opt to try half the lemon first.
No matter how you slice and dice it, I guarantee you’ll love it.
Garlicky Zucchini Noodles with Chickpeas and Tomatoes
- 2 large zucchini, peeled using a julienne peeler
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed well
- 1 pint tomatoes, halved
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 lemon, juiced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make the zucchini noodles using a julienne peeler. This may take a few tries to get the hang of it. I find it’s easiest by placing the zucchini flat on the cutting board and applying pressure with the julienne peeler and pulling down the length of the zucchini. You may have to clean the peeler from time to time.
- Add the halved tomatoes and rinsed chick peas to the zucchini noodles. Toss with the olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and ideally several hours before serving.
February 3, 2012 § 1 Comment
A year ago I posted a chicken wing recipe for the superbowl. My how things have changed!
I’ve never made chili. To be honest, I’ve never liked chili. I was never a big beef eater so a meaty bowl of beef and beans was not on my to-do list. Becoming vegan has made me have a new appreciation for beans too. I’ve really tried to explore new ways of eating and cooking beans, expanding my palate. Everyone talks about how easy chili is to make, so this week I figured I’d give it a try. It was one of those long work days and I was craving an easy, healthy, and warming bowl of yumminess. Boy did I find it! This recipe makes a lighter chili focused on the tomatoes and beans and finishes with a nice heat from the tabasco.
What I love about soups is that you don’t need a hard fast recipe. You can experiment or work with what you’ve got on hand. You can definitely add more beans or other veggies depending on your tastes. If you like spicy, go for it with the tobasco. If you’re not sure, add it gradually.
Hearty Vegan Chili
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 can white beans, rinsed well – I used Navy beans
- 1/2 can 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable stock, optional
- 1 can 14 oz. diced tomatoes – I used diced tomatoes with onions and garlic but you could use fire roasted, plain, basil, whatever you like
- 1/2 green pepper, diced
- salt and pepper to taste
- several dashes of tobasco to taste
- Heat oil in a large saute/stock pan over medium heat. Add 1/2 the onion, garlic, and carrots and cook several minutes until onions are tender. Add cumin, chili, and bay leaf and cook another few minutes.
- Turn heat to high and add rinsed white beans, crushed tomatoes, and diced tomatoes. Add vegetable stock if desired for a more “soupy” chili. Reduce to low-medium once boiling.
- Cook another 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Add several dashes of tobasco depending on taste. Season with salt and pepper.
- Serve with remaining minced onion, green pepper, and optional extra dash of tobasco.
January 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
I think this might have been the first time I’ve ever made a version of arroz con pollo which is surprising given that it is one of my all time favorites. Even before going vegan I was never a huge meat eater. Chicken was about it for me when it came to meat. So whenever we would go to a cuban restaurant, I always opted for arroz con pollo. My mom would often make it at home too.
In simple terms it is basically rice with chicken – but it was so much more than that. Tender moist chicken, creamy yellow rice, and sweet peas cooked together to create a comforting bowl of yumminess. Since becoming vegan I never thought about eating this again. I figured surely without the chicken and chicken stock it would be no good. No way could it have as much flavor.
But I was wrong! I poured myself a glass of sangria (amazing by the way) and sought out to try and make a vegetarian version. It proved to be just as satisfying as a meat version, maybe even more!
This is an easy one pot meal. Always good for a busy night’s cleanup And, if you prep your veggies over the weekend, this actually cooks in about 35 minutes total, making it an easy weeknight dinner.
I opted to keep this traditional and stuck with onions, red and green peppers, and sweet green peas. I don’t know what it is about the smell of onions and peppers cooking but it has got to be one of the best combos out there. You can definitely get creative with what you have on hand, adding other veggies to the mix – mushrooms and asparagus would make delicious additions.
Also, I used Vigo yellow rice which already has the saffron and some spices mixed in meaning you don’t have to worry with buying saffron separately which can be expensive and hard to find.
I’m calling it Vegan Arroz con Pollo because let’s face it, Arroz con Vegetales just doesn’t have the same ring to it Pour yourself some red wine or sangria and get to cooking! Enjoy!
Update: Sadly, I must report this is not a fully vegan dish upon discovering that Vigo rice uses chicken. You can continue with the recipe as is for a meat free dinner. If you want to ensure it is full vegan, use 2 cups long grain white rice instead of the Vigo rice and add 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads to the vegetable stock while heating up.
Vegan “Arroz con Pollo”
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s “Essentials of Latin Cooking”
Makes about 6 bowls
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 green peppers, diced
- 4 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cups Vigo yellow rice (note update above)
- 1 cup frozen sweet green peas
- 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
- lime or lemon wedge (optional)
- Mix minced garlic, vinegar, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes together and set aside. Note: if you like spicy, you can add up to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper. If you like salt, go ahead and add it in. If not, wait until the end and add salt to taste.
- Heat stock in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until boiling then reduce to simmer. (If you’d rather not wash another pan, you can definitely just add the cold stock to the rice later).
- Heat oil in a large heavy deep saute pan that allows for lots of stirring (I use my all-clad 6 quart). Add chopped onions, red and green peppers for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add in rice and stir until rice absorbs all the liquid from the veggie mixture – several minutes. Add in the vinegar garlic mix.
- Add in heated stock, mix, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a low simmer and cover. Let sit for about 25-30 minutes until rice absorbs all liquid. You’ll need to stir several times as the rice will begin to stick to the bottom. If it does, just aggressively scrape the bottom with a steel spoon to remove.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas and cover. I like my rice on the wet side. If you prefer your rice dry, keep the lid off here and stir until rice reaches consistency you’re looking for.
- Serve with a lime or lemon wedge and diced jalapeno if desired.
December 21, 2011 § 5 Comments
I’ve spent the better part of my evenings this past week looking for vegan Christmas recipes. Unfortunately, I haven’t found as many as I would have liked, but have found a few promising recipes. I do have to say as a side note that I’m new to Pinterest and it’s becoming slightly addicting!
In my quest for amazing vegan Christmas recipes, I stumbled across this sweet potato cauliflower soup recipe from Manifest Vegan. The recipe called my attention with it’s sweet orange color and roasted cauliflower. I made a vegan corn chowder with roasted cauliflower and loved the creamy texture the cauliflower lent. I’m usually not a big fan of sweet soups and as I was making it was a bit worried I wouldn’t like it – but boy was I wrong.
This soup was divine! Silky and creamy with just a slight sweetness from the potatoes balanced by earthy Mexican oregano. The roasted cauliflower provides nice texture and the almonds add a spicy crunch.
This is the perfect soup for a rainy or cold winter night. The spices are warming and the soup is more filling than you think. Two bowls and I was stuffed! Serve with crusty garlic bread for dipping.
Roasted Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry Spiced Almonds
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 5 cups filtered water
- 1 tsp – 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp slivered almonds
- 1 tsp curry masala
- Rinse and cut cauliflower into small bite-spiced pieces. Toss with 2 tbsp olive oil or enough to coat lightly and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes until tender.
- Finely dice one onion. I used half a sweet onion and half a purple onion. Add to stockpot with 2 tbsp oil and 2 minced garlic cloves. Saute on medium heat until tender and onions are translucent.
- Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1 inch pieces and add to stockpot. Add 1 tsp to 1 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano depending on your taste. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the stock and water and turn heat up on medium-high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender. Once potatoes are cooked, add half the cooked cauliflower and blend with an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Adjust seasonings as needed.
- To prepare the almonds, drizzle with a touch of oil and sprinkle curry masala. Roast at 350 for 10-15 minutes until golden.
- To serve, top soup with the remaining roasted cauliflower pieces and spiced almonds. Serve with crusty garlic bread on the side.
December 18, 2011 § 5 Comments
I’ve spent 28 years thinking I don’t like eggplant. My mom passed down this disdain for the purple veggie after years of growing up and eating eggplant parmagiana every Friday (it’s a Catholic thing). Just the sight of it is enough to make her lose her appetite. Thus, we never – not once – were served eggplant in my mom’s house.
I ventured out a few times and tried to give eggplant a chance in restaurants. Boy was I disappointed! That mushy flavorless veggie had nothing to offer me. That is until one day I was watching Giada on TV make this eggplant and pasta dish with pesto. She sauteed the eggplant in a generous amount of olive oil – dare I even say perhaps this should be called fried – and mixed with pesto. As I watched her prepare the eggplant and it turned to a caramelized color, I thought how could anything with that decadent golden color be bad? So, I figured I’d give eggplant one more go…
The result? OMG – who knew I LOVE eggplant! Like seriously love, love, love this delicious velvety creamy vegetable. Turns out, I’ve just never had it prepared properly. (Ok, being fare – what isn’t good fried up in olive oil? But still…)
And what’s even better – this recipe takes no time to prepare. This would even meet Rachel Ray’s 30 minute requirement, if that. It’s ridiculously easy and so full of flavor. Now for the real skeptic – I’ve got to make this for my mom and see if she will approve!
The trick is to add a LOT of olive oil. You’re looking for a really good coating and the eggplant just sucks the oil right up. A little salt and pepper and just let it sit and become all golden and yummy.
For the pesto, I omitted the cheese to make it vegan – this dish has so much flavor, you will not miss the parm – I promise! Just blend some garlic, toasted pine nuts, basil, and a touch more of oil together. I actually didn’t even have as much basil as the recipe called for, so I made less pesto but it was perfect. There’s not a big science here. Pesto is easy, you don’t have to get all bent out of shape measuring your ingredients. Just do what smells right
The original recipe called for trenette but I used casarecce which is a beautiful medium length pasta with an s shape – perfect for soaking up the pesto in the grooves. Once the pasta is done, mix it with the pesto and the eggplant. You might need a tad bit of pasta water to help the pesto coat all the pieces of pasta. Oh my goodness it is so rich and delicious. Enjoy!
For the original recipe, click here.
Update: I’ve made this pasta again and blended half the cooked eggplant with the pesto resulting in a creamy vegan pasta. A must try!
October 30, 2011 § 8 Comments
See those silky golden strands of yumminess? They looks like delicate pasta noodles don’t they? But they aren’t. Dieters, have no fear – what you are looking at is spaghetti squash. I’ve heard of spaghetti squash for years but never actually tried it. I’ve seen lots of recipes for it but never noticed it in the market and never saw it out on a menu in a restaurant. Tonight while strolling through Whole Foods, there was a beautiful display of all kinds of squash and there it was – I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I grabbed the spaghetti squash, determined to figure out how to make this pasta lover’s alternate.
After a few quick google searches, I used this recipe as my starting point. Honestly the hardest part of this recipe is getting the darn squash cut in half and cleaned. With the effort it took I was a bit worried about the rest of the night – but alas, it was all easy as pie from there.
Before going in the oven, they were drizzled with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. This had me pause for a moment. I knew the nutmeg is a go-to for squash but I was making a garlic base sauce for this, would nutmeg work? We would soon find out…
I roasted them for 30 minutes. In my haste of reading how to cook these babies, I mis-read and only cooked them 30 minutes despite the referenced recipe saying to do just 30 minutes they had to go in the microwave first. Oops. Honestly though, the resulting dish had just the slightest crunch that I really enjoyed. Next time I may cook them longer but I actually really liked the way it came out.
I sauteed some sliced garlic in olive oil over low heat. To this, I added one sliced shallot to give a mild onion flavor. I don’t cook much with sun-dried tomatoes but just opening the can made me question this. The smell just transports you to a sweet, sunny, tuscan day. A few spoonfulls of chopped sun-dried tomatoes and a splash of the juice went into the pan. Lastly, two handfulls of spinach went in. A little salt and pepper to season, some red pepper flakes for some heat, and the pan was set to low while the spinach wilted.
Now to get the squash out of their shell. I looked at the squash and just started scraping – it seemed to work. Scrape, scrape, scrape and little strands appeared. Once completely scraped out, the “spaghetti” was added to the pan. The last touch was a tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan buttery spread to add some creaminess (also, my first time actually using this product) and the dish was topped with some fresh basil and the toasted pine nuts.
Not only does this dish come across as elegant and gourmet, it is delicious and complex. The squash while delicate, had a slight crunch to it. The brightness of the sun-dried tomatoes and basil contrast the warm pine nuts and rich garlic nicely. The spinach adds even more healthy goodness to the dish. Oh, and that nutmeg? Yeah, it rocked. That little kick of warmth made me want to curl up and start listening to Christmas music tonight. Yes, I realize it’s still October.
All in all, this was an awesome dish. I’ll definitely be picking up the spaghetti squash next time I see it in the market. I’m looking forward to trying all sorts of pasta recipes out on this carb alternative.
Tip: I saved the squash seeds and toasted them as a little experiment. I read they were edible and figured I might as well give it a try before tossing them. The finished seed is deliciously nutty and slightly chewy. I’ll be enjoying them on a salad this week.
If you like the idea of pasta made out of vegetables, check out this yummy recipe for garlicky zucchini noodles with tomatoes and chickpeas.
Spaghetti Squash with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Spinach
Serves 3-4 bowls
1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and cleaned of seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 shallot, sliced
2-3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, sliced (plus juice)
2 cups spinach
1 tablespoon Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
5-6 basil leaves, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half. Clean inside until all seeds and strands are removed. Rub with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bake for 30-40 minutes until done.
- Toast pine nuts in large pan over low-medium heat about 10 minutes until golden, set aside.
- Saute sliced garlic and shallot in two tablespoons olive oil over low-medium heat. Once fragrant and garlic is soft, add sun-dried tomatoes and juice and heat tomatoes through, about a minute or two.
- Reduce heat to low, add spinach, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and cook until wilted.
- Once squash is cooled, scrape down the center and around the sides to release the “spaghetti” strands. Mix in with spinach and tomato mixture. Fold in vegan buttery spread until melted. Top with pine nuts and basil.
September 11, 2011 § 9 Comments
September is upon us! I see many pumpkin cookies and spice lattes in my future (vegan of course – I’ll be experimenting). But for now, I’ve been soaking up the last few days of summer. We went away for Labor Day in an attempt to unwind and finally get a tan! Nothing like waiting until the last minute We spent several days relaxing on the beautiful beaches of the Boca Raton Resort, where I got so relaxed I managed to stop checking email and in doing so lost my phone! Whether it got lost on the beach or was outright stolen while I lay dozed off in never never land is up for grabs. So, for the remainder of this post, I’ll just have to taunt you with sun drenched beaches instead of vivid veggies. I’m sure you’ll manage.
I had been such a good wife and stocked the kitchen full of delicious vegan lunches for my hubby’s second week of his vegan challenge, but sadly have nothing to show for it now. Before we left I also made gazpacho which is basically the epitome of summer. I’ve been ordering it wherever I can but had never made it myself. I remember my mom used to make it a lot when I was a kid and I didn’t like the cold soup she put in front of us – boy has that changed! I searched through recipes and settled on this one as my guiding light. However, as always, I can’t stick to a recipe. I always end up fussing with it and changing it up. While I really enjoyed the recipe I created, I want to go back and try this one fully one day as it looked so good.
So, I can’t show you this gazpacho, but I can tell you about it. I started by grilling the tomatoes – or more accurately trying to – which was a total waste of time. I often grill on a pan indoors (not always the best choice in the summer heat) so this was most ineffective with tomatoes. I was hoping for a smoky flavor, but it just didn’t work out. However, the onions and peppers grilled very nicely and lent enough of the grill flavor I was looking for.
As you blend the beautiful red tomatoes they turn a lush pink – it’s so pretty and decadent looking. Next blend the peppers and onions with the garlic, basil, olive oil, and some vinegar of your choice. Traditional gazpacho calls for sherry wine vinegar which I didn’t have so I used red wine vinegar like my mom does. The onion does add a strong flavor so if you’re not a fan of raw onion leave it out.
Season with salt, pepper, and paprika and that’s it! If you haven’t tried gazpacho at home yet you definitely should. It’s so easy and good for you, especially if you decide to make it all raw. I liked it with a little drizzle of very good olive oil and fresh cut basil or, which may be my favorite, served in a bowl over a handful of tortilla chips. Either way it’s delicious, cooling, refreshing, and will have you dreaming of gardening or sinking your toes in the sand.
Ahhh, goodbye summer, until next year…
Inspired by Farm to Table Geek
- 5 very good tomatoes
- 3 red peppers
- 1 cucumber
- 1/2 red onion
- 1/2 jalapeno (or whole depending on your taste)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup very good olive oil
- 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp spanish paprika
- 12 basil leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- Grill vegetables if desired.
- Prep all vegetables by slicing into chunks that will process easily in the blender or food processor.
- Blend tomatoes and pour into large bowl. Blend remaining ingredients (may require two batches) and then mix in with tomatoes.
August 23, 2011 § 6 Comments
I have never been one for tomatoes – you’d never find me snacking on them or making them the star of any meal. In fact, those individuals that could eat a tomato like an apple always perplexed me – why on earth would they do that? Even cooked tomatoes are sometimes too acidic for my liking – but all this changed within the last two months and I’m a new tomato fanatic. Me, tomato lover, can’t get enough of them…If my mother is reading this right now, she’s shocked.
There are two parts to my new-found tomato fanaticism. One: being vegan has definitely changed my tastes. Usually I’d crave an oozing piece of cheese pizza or a bowl of creamy pasta but not anymore. Maybe its summer but I think its more likely due to my changing diet. Eating more fruits and veggies has in turn made me want – well, more fruits and veggies.
The second reason for my new tomato cravings: I’ve finally tasted what a tomato should taste like. I’m not talking about those lifeless mealy barely red things you find at the grocery store. I’m talking about firm, juicy, bursting with fruity goodness, barely needs any seasonings, freshly picked from the garden tomatoes. I was recently treated to some tomatoes of this very nature and have been dying to get my teeth into some tomatoes similar to what I experienced, causing me to order anything that looks remotely close when I’m out and about.
No pizza or pasta for me, I’ll take the fresh tomato salad please!
Due to my recent tomato cravings I’ve ordered gazpacho at every restaurant I’ve been to that has it on the menu. My favorite was a charred green tomato gazpacho that I enjoyed at Park Grille in Chicago. As I sat and looked over the menu, the waiter greeted me and informed me this gazpacho was vegan if ordered without the crab – I didn’t even tell him I was vegan! Was quite a change from my Seattle trip. Ah, Chicago, how do I love thee. The soup was delicious – refreshing with a hint of smokiness due to grilling the tomatoes and let’s face it, the view didn’t hurt either.
I drug Luis to the farmers market this weekend with one thing in mind: yup, you guessed it, tomatoes. But not just any tomatoes, I really had my heart set on heirloom tomatoes, the more colors the better. While I didn’t find any at the farmers market, I found some standard tomatoes that the gentleman assured me would be sweeter and have more flavor than those in the supermarket. On the way home we stopped in Whole Foods for some necessities and I couldn’t resist the heirloom tomatoes sitting like royalty on stands. I can be a bit cheap at times, but let me tell you, I shelled out about $7 for these beauties. I got a large heirloom with a deep purplish green and red color combo and a small carton of tiny round and pear orange, yellow, and purplish tomatoes. They looked like a rainbow in a carton.
This pasta was a take on a pasta I saw here and have been thinking about for several weeks. I loved the idea of a fresh pasta that required little to no cooking in the summer’s heat.
Given how beautifully fresh these tomatoes were, I didn’t even see the need to marinate them but I began about 30 minutes before Luis got home so they did sit a bit.
All I did was slice, toss with some nice fruity Spanish olive oil I use for special dishes like this, and add a splash of balsamic for a little kick. A little salt and pepper for seasoning, and at the last minute I added one clove of minced garlic. Honestly though, I’m not sure the dish really needed it – you could easily do without it. Sliced basil tops it off and keeps the dish light and earthy.
At first I was worried the whole wheat pasta would be overwhelming for this dish but it was all I had on hand – and it turned out to be really good. I made sure to cook it al dente to provide texture against the soft tomatoes. Boil the pasta and allow to cool before mixing with the tomatoes. This dish is delicious cool and at room temperature – providing juicy freshness on a hot summer day.
Heirloom Tomato Summer Pasta
1 large heirloom tomato
1 carton small heirloom tomatoes
2 – 3 tablespoons fruity, good quality olive oil
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sliced fresh basil
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 package of pasta of your choice
- Bring water to a boil for pasta and cook according to package directions.
- Slice large tomato into several segments and smaller tomatoes in half.
- Toss in large bowl with several tablespoons of olive oil, or enough to generously coat tomatoes.
- Add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, sliced basil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss and set aside.
- Once pasta is finished drain well and set aside to cool. Once cooled, serve with tomato mixture over top.
July 30, 2011 § 10 Comments
I love making soups. They are usually super easy to put together and you rarely need to follow a recipe. Soups are perfect too for using the last bits of leftover vegetables in the fridge. I’m not sure why, but I’ve really been on a corn kick latley. I’ve wanted to put it in everything: salads, tacos, everything, and I’ve been thinking of this chowder for a while. This chowder is inspired by a shrimp and corn chowder I make a lot and learned from my mom. I love how silky and rich it is – it’s perfectly comforting – but calls for all sorts of non-vegan ingredients like cream and seafood so I figured I wouldn’t get to have it anytime soon. But, I figured out a way!
Doesn’t that chowder look all creamy and silky? You’re thinking surely there is at least a touch of cream in there – nope, not a drop! What’s the secret to that rich creamy base? Roasted cauliflower! And what’s best about this soup – not only does it not have any cream – but it doesn’t leave you with that heavy feeling a traditional chowder does.
As I said the beauty of this soup and any soup really is that there are no rules. If you don’t have one of these ingredients handy or want to switch it up, go for it. Experiment and see what it gives you. Soups are very forgiving – it’s really hard to mess them up. The key is seasoning. That’s really the only way to mess up a soup.
As I said the secret to this creamy delicious soup is the roasted cauliflower. You could do this the day before to speed up this easy weeknight dinner. Roast with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper at 425 until tender and the cauliflower has a little color.
This chowder starts with the traditional onion, celery, carrot base. Saute the onions until translucent in some olive oil then add the celery and carrots. I happened to have shredded carrots in my fridge which worked great here. Since you end up blending everything together it doesn’t matter. I love adding peppers to all my soups – and really just about anything. Sometimes I’ll do a duo of red and yellow but for this soup I just used a red pepper. If you wanted a little heat you could definitely add some jalapeno but I’d wait until later in the cooking. Then add the diced potatoes, roasted cauliflower, and season with a little salt and pepper.
Next add the stock. To keep it vegan, I used vegetable stock but if you’re not eating vegan you could use chicken stock which will give it great flavor. I actually only had one 32 oz. package of stock which I knew wasn’t enough to cover all the ingredients. I was a little nervous to add another 32 oz. of water but it still had fantastic flavor. I threw in a bay leaf and generous amount of salt and pepper to season.
While the soup simmers, prep the corn. Set the cut corn aside. You simmer the soup just long enough to ensure the potatoes are fully cooked through. Once the potatoes are cooked, the soup is ready for blending. I used an immersion blender which is so easy and takes just minutes to blend this into that beautiful creamy base. If you don’t have an immersion blender you can easily use a regular blender. Now, before blending you want to remove the bay leaf like the pros always caution. But don’t worry, if you don’t, I learned it blends nicely. I forgot to remove it and didn’t even notice.
Once the soup is blended smooth, add the cut corn and let it heat through for a few minutes. Taste test and season with more salt and pepper as needed. I promise you’ll be licking the bowl clean!
Vegan Corn Chowder
Serves about 8 bowls
- 1 head cauliflower
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion
- 4 celery stalks
- 4 carrots (can use shredded as I did)
- 1 red pepper
- 6 small potatoes (red or new)
- 2 32-oz. cartons vegetable stock
- 4 ears corn
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper
- Cut up head of cauliflower into small florets. Coat well with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 until tender.
- Dice onion, celery, carrots, and red pepper. Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and saute onions until translucent. Add celery and carrots and saute a few minutes, then add the pepper. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- Dice the potatoes and add to the mixture. Add enough stock to cover the vegetables. Add the bay leaf and season generously with salt and pepper.
- While the potatoes cook through, cut and prep the corn. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove the bay leaf and then blend the soup until smooth. Add the corn to the blended soup. Taste for final seasonings.
July 17, 2011 § 1 Comment
Ingredient discovery continued this week as I ended the second week of my 30 day vegan challenge. (Update: See how I did with my challenge here.) I ordered from a local organic delivery service for the first time in an attempt to save time and get more organic produce. While I appreciated the ease of ordering and having fresh produce awaiting my arrival at my door, I realized I really am a grocery shopper. I enjoy perusing the lanes and looking for the freshest produce, smelling it, feeling it, and thinking about what I’ll be cooking that week based on what’s there. So, I’m not sure I’ll keep this as a weekly service, but it’s pretty nice during weeks I have to travel to have fresh produce waiting for me at home.
One thing I can tell you – I never would have picked up these two items which arrived at my door with this service: kale and purple sweet potatoes. Both of them appeared unattractive (in my opinion) and well, not so yummy. But boy was I wrong. Both turned out to be winners – not only very attractive, dare I say even beautiful, but delicious and satisfying.
If you’re like me and you’ve never eaten kale, it can be a bit intimidating. The leaves are really rough and almost have the texture of crazy thick curly parsley. Just looking at it you can tell its chock full of vitamins and nutrients but it doesn’t look like it will be delicious. Kale is sometimes compared to spinach but there was nothing tender about these leaves. While I had read that you can eat the stems, that was just being too adventurous for me. I was already going for the leaves, so I left the stems out of the party.
I decided to cook the kale with pasta. I figured that was the best way to ease into it as straight on kale might be a bit much for a first try. I had some grape tomatoes on hand as I usually do and I sauteed it with lots of garlic and some crushed red pepper and capers to give it a kick. Luis was skeptical as I cut the leaves free of their stems and I have to admit I was a bit scared to dump it into my beautiful sauce I had cooking, but boy was it good. The resulting pasta was really delicious and the greens absorbed all the strong flavors of the pan, making the bites of pasta with kale the best tasting ones! This pasta was so easy to make and extremely satisfying. We both went back for seconds and there was barely any left for leftovers…always a good sign.
To make the pasta, slice the garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Fully wash the kale and remove the stems, cutting the leaves into strips. While the water boils, saute the onions in olive oil until tender. Then add the tomatoes for a few minutes and then the capers, red pepper flakes, and garlic.
Once the tomatoes are almost fully soft, add the kale. I let it steam on top of the tomato mixture first before folding in the leaves. They’ll fill the full pan but like spinach they will wilt down quickly.
Keep turning them in the tomato mixture until they are fully wilted and a bright emerald green. Seriously is that not the prettiest color combo above?Gorgeous green and bright red.
Once done, toss in the pasta and enjoy!
Just as the kale was pretty intimidating at first glance, the purple sweet potatoes didn’t look so appealing either. Reminder: beauty isn’t on the outside. Goes for people and veggies as it turns out.
Once you peel away those somewhat scary looking skins – behold the most beautiful purple ever. Seriously, this may be the most beautiful vegetable I’ve ever seen, or eaten. Nature tricks us once again as we think it can’t get more beautiful than that – and you cook these babies and they turn lighter, brighter, almost the color of amethyst. I don’t know if I had more fun prepping and cooking these to discover their changing colors or eating them. The taste did not disappoint!
I knew I wanted to make them Friday night for dinner but wasn’t sure what to make. I also had eggplant arrive in my delivery. As you may recall, I’m not a fan of eggplant. In a desperate attempt to turn this around I started googling “delicious recipes for eggplant haters” -while the search returned a number of results, apparently there’s a lot of eggplant haters out there, they all included vegan no no’s like loads of cheese or other dairy products. I went out on a limb and decided to make a vegan vegetable tempura with the eggplant and purple sweet potatoes. Mind you, this was last night, after a long work day, so Luis arrived home to see me cutting the eggplant and scary looking potatoes and wasn’t so excited. I had faith though – after my successful adventures with kale, I thought it would be OK.
I found some vegan tempura batters and settled on one that just called for flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. The resulting tempura were really delicious – and the batter almost had a sweet pancake flavor wrapping the veggies. Success – I liked the eggplant! And those purple sweet potatoes were so yummy. I’ll definitely be experimenting more with this ingredient in the future. As far as the eggplant goes, I’m not convinced I’ll like it any way other than fried. Now I know fried food isn’t really what veganism is all about, but come on, I’ve had enough salads in the past two weeks so I got a little restless. Also, I can assure you the pictures don’t do it any justice.
Garlicky Kale and Tomato Pasta
- Whole wheat penne pasta – you can use any pasta you like, I wanted to ensure protein in this meatless pasta
- 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves – the garlic cloves I had were huge so this was probably closer to 6 normal sized cloves which produces a strong garlic flavor, just use less if you don’t like a strong garlic flavor
- One big bunch of kale – I used what was delivered and I think totaled about 10 large leaves.
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta in boiled salted water.
- Slice onion, garlic and tomatoes. Clean kale and remove stems. Slice leaves thinly into strips.
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. This is the base of your sauce so you want enough to coat the pasta and vegetables. Add onions and saute several minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, garlic, capers, and red pepper flakes stirring frequently so garlic doesn’t burn. Cook until tomatoes are almost soft.
- Layer kale leaves over tomato mixture and let steam for a minute or two. Add salt and pepper to taste. Begin to stir and fold the tomato mixture over the leaves. Cook until all leaves are wilted and cooked through.
- Add cooked pasta to the vegetable mix. Stir until the pasta is coated and add extra olive oil if needed.
Vegan Vegetable Tempura
If you try this recipe, I served it with soy sauce which was a bit too strong. It needs a light tempura sauce which I just didn’t have the ingredients on hand to make.
- Desired vegetables – I used eggplant and purple sweet potatoes
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup chilled water
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil plus more for frying
- Mix flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder together. Slowly add oil and water and mix until smooth. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Cut vegetables into uniform slices.
- Heat oil in large fry pan over medium – high heat. Dip vegetables into batter one by one and then add to oil, frying several at a time.