the taste space

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by Janet M on April 22, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I love when it is going to be a delicious week.

I am too lazy/tired to cook during the week, so I make everything on the weekend. A new batch of oatmeal. I create 3-4 different dishes, with possibly some fresh rice mid-week. Rob helps with the rice. His rice always seems to taste better even if we use the same rice cooker.

Anyways. I digress.

I love delicious surprises in the kitchen.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I was wooed by Tess’ creamy cauliflower soup in her latest cookbook. However, I knew cauliflower and leeks, alone, would not be a filling meal. Beans. I need some beans. Where are the beans? I could have easily blended white beans into the soup, but I don’t like pureed soups.

Keeping things a bit more texturally complex, I ran with bacon-flavoured roasted chickpea croutons! Because I was going to use the oven to roast my chickpeas, I roasted my vegetables, too. It helped to free up a coveted soup pot and oven burner, too.

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I guess I get surprised by some of my successes. Light and fluffy yet still filling, the soup was as easy as blending together roasted vegetables with some spices. The bacon chickpeas added a salty-savoury topping that contrasted the soup wonderfully.

And somewhat off-topic. Not soup-related, but related by all things delicious. You know what else we recently discovered that was glorious? Trader Joe’s Soy Creamy Cherry Chocolate Ice Cream. GAH! Annie clued me in early on that their coconut-based ice creams were delicious and they helped tame the Texan heat in the summer. Now that we’re cycling in the heat, this has become our new way to cool off.

What have you been enjoying lately?

Roasted Cauliflower and Leek Soup with Vegan Bacon Chickpea Croutons

I am sharing this with Souper Sundays.

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Vegan Cheesy Chickpea Dip with Coconut Bacon

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites by Janet M on January 25, 2014

Vegan Cheddar Bacon Dip

I tried a little bit harder with this dip.

You had great suggestions for sprucing up my Mexican Black Bean Dip. It was all about the garnishes: salsa, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and tortillas were all great ideas.

This time I topped the dip with coconut bacon. (I will tell you about the delicious dip in a moment, but first: COCONUT BACON). This was not my first encounter with coconut bacon. I have tried it in many different iterations: lovingly inside a BLT at Aux Vivres, as a snack I brought to Burning Man courtesy of Phoney Baloney, and even a slippery, thick raw coconut bacon made from fresh coconut inside The Naked Sprout‘s BLT.

While I have made raw eggplant bacon before, coconut bacon had been on my hitlist for awhile. I even captured a picture of their ingredient list when I was at Aux Vivres. Definitely one of the benefits of them selling items to go. However, instead of using their ingredient list, I ran with Julie’s recommendation to add smoked paprika to the recipes floating around the web. It worked for the raw eggplant bacon so I was quickly sold on her smoked paprika pitch. It did not disappoint and I liked it better than anything else I had tried. The fact that it made so much is great because we are going to enjoy this for awhile.

Coconut Bacon

But don’t let me distract you from this dip. A cheesy chickpea spread with smoky undertones, it was a fun salty snack I served at our tamalada. We had some delicious chips that needed a dip and this was a great choice. Everyone approved and Rob is adamant about bringing it back into our dip repertoire. I won’t stop him.. and to give him due credit, I only crafted the recipes, Rob executed them with finesse… and then I cobbled together some photographs. :)

With the Superbowl, Academy Awards and the Olympics on the horizon, this may be the dip-friendly part of the year. If you would like other delicious dips, consider these, too:

Green Velvet Guacamole (aka Guacamame or Edamame Guacamole)

Edamame Miso Dip

Raw Zucchini Hummus

Ginger Lime Wasabi Edamame Hummus

Rosemary Pistachio Hummus

Hillbilly Hummus (Black Eyed Pea and Peanut Butter Hummus)

Mexican Black Bean Dip

Coconut Bacon

This is my submission to this month’s Four Seasons Food Challenge, this month’s Cheese Please, this month’s Spice Trail for paprika, and to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Plantain Chips & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Sides, Soups by Janet M on December 10, 2013

Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Plantain Chips

Thanksgiving is over. December is here.

It is all about the holidays now, no?

Well, you know me, I kind of beat to the tune of my own drum. My forthcoming recipes may not necessarily be holiday-driven, but they will definitely be highly recommended. For yourself and others. And if that is not holiday-themed, I do not know what is.

This is a black bean soup I shared with my parents while they were in town. I had some lofty meals planned, but ended up working late and being on call, so things did not work as originally scheduled. I turned to this soup from The 30 Minute Vegan’s latest cookbook: Soup’s On!  This is my favourite book of his so far, possibly because I love soups.

Mark’s latest book proves that complex soups do not need to take hours over the stove. With tricks like foregoing a slow saute for onions and prepping your vegetables as you cook your soup, a proficient cook should be able to make most of these soups quickly. Separated into chapters for basic broths, vegetable-dominant soups, heartier soups with whole grains, legumes and pasta, creamy blended soups, raw soups and desserts soups (plus garnishes and sides), this a comprehensive vegan soup compendium.  His recipes highlight whole foods: vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and flavourful herbs. In addition to being entirely vegan, this cookbook caters to many special requests: no/low-oil, gluten-free (almost all), and mostly soy-free, too, and every recipe has variations to help you craft your best brew.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Plantain Chips

This black bean soup was no exception: lots of colourful vegetables superimposed on top of jet black black beans (Rancho Gordo’s Negro de Arbol beans). Bell pepper, carrots and corn with a dash of orange juice, cloves and liquid smoke for a Brazilian flare. The original soup was no-oil, but I opted for the oil-sautéed onion variation. I made the soup first and waited until dinnertime to make the plantain chips. The nuances of the maple-orange-cinnamon marinade for the baked plantain chips may have been lost on us, though. They also took twice as long to bake, but after Hannah’s recent gush of love for oven-baked plantain chips, I figured they may take longer.

With the plantain chips (unpictured), this would have been a stretch for a 30-minute meal, but it was quick. And the soup was delicious. Mark said it would serve 6-8, but the four of us devoured it in one sitting. (Sadly no leftovers for me). I was actually impressed that my Dad thought I had served this to him before. I assured him that this was a new recipe but two years ago, yes, I shared a (different) Brazilian soup with him. It was more stew-like with sweet potato and kale amidst the vegetable choice. I think I liked this one more. RG’s black beans were a hit: a bit smaller than your typical black bean while keeping their shape nicely.

I have been easily cooking my way through this delicious cookbook and can also recommend the Jamaican Jerk Plantain Soup, Holy Moley Soup, Himalayan Dal with Curried Chickpeas, Fire-Roasted Tomato and Rice Soup with Spinach, and Polish Vegan Sausage and Sauerkraut Stew. There are plenty more I will be trying out later.

I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by The 30 Minute Vegan. If you haven’t made anything by Mark yet, have a look through the table of contents of The 30 Minute Vegan Soup’s On! on amazon (or my list above or below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 20, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Other recipes from Soup’s On:

Spicy Kale Soup with Pepitas

Caribbean Red Bean and Rice Soup

Mideast Chickpea Soup

African Peanut Soup

PPS. Other recipes I have shared by Mark Reinfeld:

Orange Beet Soup

Vegan Ponzu Sauce

Thai Coconut Vegetables (Yum Tavoy)

Thai Green Papaya Salad (Vegan Som Tam)

PPPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for 365 Vegan Smoothies here.

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to My Legume Love Affair. (more…)

Southern Beans and Greens Saute (& The Last Organic Outpost urban farm visit)

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on September 15, 2013

Southern Beans and Greens Saute

It took me a while to realize it, but Houston’s claim to fame is not its hot summer. It may be infamous for its stifling, humid summers, but that’s not when the most fun occur. For people, nor plants.

I love it when readers help me learn the ropes of my new town. It took me a while to wrap my head around it, but it is just too hot for most vegetables to grow. Coming from Ontario, summer equals fresh vegetables. Right now, we are between seasons in Texas. I will quit lamenting the lack of flavourful tomatoes (for now), the local vegetables will be coming in the fall and spring.  Despite being between seasons, vegetables can still be grown, though. Recently I visited an urban farm and loved it so much, I wanted to share the experience with you.

The Last Organic Outpost

The Last Organic Outpost is an urban, community farm. We weren’t sure what to expect, as this farm is close to where we live. Truly a hidden gem, they encourage the community to become involved in creating their own farming experience and ultimately to sell enough to become self-driven.

Last Organic Outpost

It is completely volunteer-run, except for one farmer they employ. They minimize costs by recycling unwanted goods. Donated hot tubs will be turned into planters. Cars have been turned into vermicomposters, bee havens, etc.

last organic outpost

Of course, they also grow vegetables. Despite being between seasons, they were growing greens (collards, dinosaur kale, spinach — all grown year-round), herbs, sweet peppers, eggplant, winter squash as well as figs and papayas. The somewhat chaotic plants reminded me of my small garden in Toronto.

last organic outpost

At first I thought it was just a big plant with pretty flowers, but they also had different kinds of okra. Small, long and purple varieties. I had never tried just picked okra and it was refreshingly crisp.

last organic outpost

Talk about freshly picked, they had produce for sale as well as special sampler bags which is what we purchased (it included kale, spinach, eggplant and butternut squash). Because it is volunteer-driven, their hours are variable but keep an eye on their facebook page if you want to become more involved.

Have no fear, there is still a delicious recipe attached to this post. When in the South, why not try their local specialties, too? Although traditional beans and greens in the South usually use collards, black eyed peas and ham/bacon, this one was a nice twist. I honesty wasn’t expecting much, but was blown away by the flavour. A quality liquid smoke definitely brings this dish to the next level. Have you ever looked at the ingredient lists of the liquid smokes at the store? I thought we could omit it from our Houston pantry, but caved. Once we started looking, though, there were a lot of additives to most liquid smoke “seasonings”. The one we settled on just has water, hickory smoke, mesquite smoke as its ingredients and I really like it. It also won this taste test. :)

Anyways, this is a simple skillet saute with carrots, (pinto) beans and (kale) greens. I used a melange of spices for my vegetable stock substitute and I think it worked really well with the liquid smoke. Easy, peasy.. and delicious.

I am looking forward to coming back to The Last Organic Outpost once the growing season resumes. :)

Southern Beans and Greens Saute

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Elena, and to this month’s challenge to Shop Local.

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Cabbage and Asian Pear Salad with Smoky Avocado and Cumin Dressing

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on April 21, 2013

Guys, I am loving your list of your favourite raw recipes. It isn’t too late to win a copy of Annelie’s Raw Food Power. To enter, just leave a comment here telling me about your favourite raw meal. Definitely include a link to a recipe if it is online, like Gabby’s Raw “Baked” Fettuccine Alfredo, Genevieve’s Mango Gazpacho or Hannah’s Raw Blondies with Chocolate Ganache.   I really liked Ellen’s suggest of a Korean collard wrap with Asian pear and sweet chili sauce. Sounds delicious! I ended up hunting down some Asian pear, napa cabbage and collards but at the last minute, as the winds warmed me with the southern breeze (this was right before it snowed yesterday), I changed my mind. Instead of a wrap, I went with a chopped salad. And instead of Korean and I went Mexican with a smoky avocado and cumin dressing.

When asked what I usually eat, I explain to people that I love to make soups and salads. Not your flaky salads and not your brothy soups, I prefer hearty one-pot meals in a bowl. My salads tend to be either grain-based or bean-based, whereas I don’t make the standard leafy side salad with a simple vinaigrette. I suppose I don’t find it very high-yield. If I want leafy greens, I’ll add them to my soup or salad!

Not all dressings are created equal, and this smoky avocado dressing is creamy but intense at the same time. It wouldn’t work with flimsy baby greens, which is why I opted for heartier sliced Napa cabbage and collard greens. To counter the heaviness of the dressing, I added a touch of sweetness to the salad with Asian pear and red bell pepper. To add even more goodness, I added some arugula sprouts and to add a good protein source I added chickpeas [sprouted chickpeas keeps this raw, but cooked chickpeas are what I prefer]. With the dressing thinned out over the salad, it was a nice merriment of flavours and textures, although a tad heavy on cumin (even for me).

OK, next up: working on that Korean wrap. :)

This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Smoky One Pot Beans and Bulgur with Kale

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on February 3, 2013

This year, I have traded my cookbooks for textbooks.

One of the textbooks I need to know like the back of my hand can be a tad dry. All 1464 pages. I can only read about molecular pathways or the causes of cardiomyopathy for so long before I need a break.

But then, as I was reading the nutrition chapter, I swear, this is what it said (I quote):

Even lowly garlic has been touted to protect against heart disease (and also against, devils, werewolves, vampires, and, alas, kisses), although research has yet to prove this effect unequivocally. Of these, the effect on kisses is the best established!

I wonder whether I can bring up devils, werewolves and vampires on my oral exam for full marks? Or just kisses since they have more evidence against them? They didn’t cite their source, though…

Thank goodness, my love of garlic hasn’t kept away kisses from Rob.

My love of garlic has a long history. My love of raw garlic began with Tess. My love of Rob fits in between these two.. In length, but surpasses them all by quantity and quality, of course. ;)

Raw garlic isn’t as scary as it seems. Chili lime noodles, 15-minute zippy garlic-basil marinara, lemon asparagus quinoa toss, and many other dishes that add garlic at the end of cooking instead of at the beginning. It adds a brightness to any dish.

This is another garlicky dish from Tess. A quickie dish that I can make after work. Easily modifiable to your pantry surpluses.  Tess uses rice and beans, but bulgur and cooked beans make this an even simpler dish. It has been a while since I’ve gushed over bulgur, but sometimes I forget until I unearth it again from my pantry.  Smokey from liquid smoke, creamy from a touch of oil, snappy with some nearly raw garlic and wholesome with some shredded greens. Beans + grains + greens, a force to be reckoned with.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, now hosted by Lisa.

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TVP Sloppy Joes Stuffed Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 29, 2013

One of the things I liked about Vegan For Life is that there are recommendations supported by science. Two servings of fruit are good and just 2 tsp of oil a day is a good idea. And that whacky TVP? It isn’t as scary as you may think. It may be a processed soy product, but it is basically defatted soy flour that is high in protein. A varied diet is more important. Everything in moderation is ok.

This may or may not have given me the nudge to use up the last of my TVP that had been languishing in my pantry. I bought it planning to make Cara’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Protein Bars, and then bookmarked Laura’s Squash Breakfast TVP and Maple TVP Oatmeal but happy I eventually settled on making these TVP Sloppy Joes.

Not that I grew up eating Sloppy Joe’s. I don’t think I have ever eaten the real thing, but I know this tasted good. A sweet tomato sauce accentuated with Worcestershire sauce, mustard and liquid smoke. A bit sweet for me with the added sweetener, so I suggest not adding it until the end to see if it needs it. The TVP confers a granular hamburger meat texture. I am thinking mashed lentils could be a good substitute next time.

Instead of the standard bun, I piled the sloppiness overtop a roasted baked potato. Paired wonderfully.

What do you think of TVP?

Here are my other meals with TVP:

Pumpkin Chili
Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms (Portobello Feijoada)
Beefy Portobello Mushroom and Cranberry Stew

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes.

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Raw Vegan Smoked Salmon and Scallion Cashew Cheese Cucumber Rolls (Aux Vivres Végé-Lox)

Posted in Appetizers by Janet M on January 6, 2013

I wasn’t going to join in…

But then I saw this article co-authored by one of my former classmates debunking Dr Oz. I may have done a little cheer and a happy dance. I couldn’t keep quiet. Please read it and tell me what you think.

It seems like the new year ushers in the applause for “healthy” fasts and diets. I condone a balanced diet but not starvation. I don’t believe in miracle foods. While I tried a sweetener-free challenge last month, I am back to eating fruits and chocolate. Fruits are filled with vitamins, anti-oxidants and fiber and too good to pass up.

I am certainly not doing a juice cleanse. I was gifted my grandmother’s juicer, but have only made juice a handful of times so far. I juice because I like the taste of fresh juice. Proponents of juice cleanses focus on the increased consumption of vegetables (more than one could eat in their raw form), lack of fibre and a way to detox your body and lose weight. If you are not one to eat vegetables and enjoy juice, then yes, this could be a way to consume more nutrients found in vegetables but it does not replace eating whole vegetables. If you are healthy, there is no evidence that your liver, kidney or stomach needs a rest to assist removal of toxins. The higher glycemic index of juice (without fibre) may actually cause one to gain weight.

There is evidence, though, that vegan diets (moreso than vegetarian diets) protect against cancer. A study in BMJ from earlier this summer suggests that low carb/high protein diets are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events, mainly exacerbated by those consuming animal protein. I recently added a link to Vegan Health on my side bar which has a lot of good information about nutrition advice for vegans, including supplementation (gotta get the vitamin B12), especially if consuming a raw food diet.

In any case, for those of you with a leftover juice pulp otherwise destined for the compost, or those with an excess of carrots, or those who rave about Aux Vivres‘ raw smoked salmon, this dish is for you.

My last visit to Montreal had me visiting the vegan restaurant for a second time. I have recreated their delicious Macro Bowl with tempeh, greens and a miso-tahini sauce, but also wanted to recreate their raw smoked salmon, or végé-lox as they call it. Made with carrot pulp and seasoned with red onion, parsley, dulse and liquid smoke, it is a delicious spread combined with their tofu cream cheese and capers. I used shallots and dill and added capers directly into the spread for a different twist. Instead of tofu, I went all raw with a scallion cashew cheese rolled into a light cucumber roll.

If you want something more sweet for your carrot juice pulp, I highly recommend these raw carrot cupcakes. What is your take on juice fasts? On miracle weight-loss products?

Any favourite recipes for juice pulp?

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Foods Thursday.

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BLT Corn Pinto Bean Salad with Raw Eggplant Bacon

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on August 29, 2012

After I ate the last serving of this salad, I was sad. Sad I had no more salad left. It was that good.

Rob cocked his head and asked, So is this a repeater recipe?

But we have no more corn! And no more spinach or lettuce! And I think my Appaloosa beans are finished, too.

That can easily be remedied, Janet.

Besides, I just bought 53 lbs of tomatoes (yes, I did it!)
I think I should focus on those!

So this one will just go down in the vault as a wickedly delicious salad. And contrary to my sorry excuses, this is a very forgiving salad. Use your favourite salad toppers. Just don’t skip on the tomatoes. And the dressing.

This salad all began with the creation of the raw eggplant bacon. I picked up a super cheap monster eggplant and earmarked it for the dehydrator. The salty and sweet marinade (tamari, maple syrup, vinegar, chili powder, smoked paprika and liquid smoke) was delicious and I couldn’t wait for them to dry out. Twelve hours felt like a life-time. I was blown away by the texture of the eggplant, airy yet crispy but sadly, with a fraction of the flavour from the salivating marinade. Since I used low-sodium tamari there wasn’t the uber saltiness associated with bacon but it was pretty nice, regardless. Does it taste like bacon? Not at all, but I don’t consider that a bad thing. ;)

I also used some of the extra marinade to make zucchini chips. Since I sliced them cross-wise, they looked like chips and tasted like bacon chips, too. However, those went into my belly. The eggplant bacon went into this salad. (For the record, I prefer the eggplant version!)

Obviously, this salad pushes monumental levels when you use fresh, ripe ingredients. Fresh heirloom tomatoes, check. Local, fresh corn on the cob, check. Cute heirloom pinto beans, I’ve got that covered. Your greenery of choice (or whatever is in your fridge): baby spinach. I added oomph to the original dressing by mirroring the bacon marinade, throwing in smoked paprika and chili powder. Lime juice makes this a bright dressing. And while I was worried I wouldn’t have enough dressing with only the juice from 2 non-juicy limes, after I placed everything in jars for the week, the tomatoes macerated, adding tomato juicy goodness to the dressing, too. Now it was perfect.

For another variation on the corn + tomato + bean salad, try this one with a balsamic dressing, toasted in a skillet.

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes, to Healthy Vegan Fridays, to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, to this week’s Weekend Wellness, to this week’s favourite summer recipes, and to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays.

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Roasted Golden Beet Salad With Warm Maple Mustard Dressing and Smoky Tempeh Croutons

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Salads by Janet M on November 9, 2011

I know I’ve briefly mentioned it before, but I tend to do the majority of my cooking on the weekends and eat leftovers all week.  Vegan cuisine, especially soups, curries and bean salads, lend well to leftovers because they only taste better after they have marinaded.

Sometimes I crave a nice, fresh hot meal, too. It can be difficult to make a complete meal if you are famished after a long day at work…. unless, you have the forethought of making all the components ahead of time!

I found this delicious salad at Post Punk Kitchen. I know it looks like another crazy multi-component salad: roasted beets, smoky tempeh croutons, a warm maple mustard dressing. Trust me, the best dishes get you to bring out the best of each component. Work on the weekend for each component, then bring it all together mid-week.

First, you need to roast your beets. Glorious roasted golden beets. Next, steam your tempeh, then get it marinading. Tempeh has a bad leftover track-record, which is why I planned on making this salad fresh during the week. I left the tempeh in the marinade until I took out a portion to freshly panfry for the salad. For my last salad, the tempeh had been marinading for 5 days. The maple mustard dressing is a snap to put together as well.

So, when you come home from work, and it is late, and you don’t want to think, now you have all the components for a wonderful salad. Take out your nonstick frypan and fry your tempeh. Meanwhile, get out your beets. Toss them into the frypan with the tempeh if you’d like (or not). Pull out your greens and get chopping. Using Swiss chard or kale instead of Romaine? Finely chop the stems and throw it in with the tempeh, too (or not). Warm the dressing in the microwave (or not). Add to your leafy greens. Add your beets if they aren’t in your frypan. By this time, the tempeh should be almost done…. when it is, plop it on top of your greens.

Ten minutes, tops. I promise.

Sit back and enjoy your fresh salad.. every day of the week. :)


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekends.

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Iraqi-Inspired Eggplant and Seitan Stew

Posted in Favourites, Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on October 26, 2011

Returning from vacation the day before you return to work is not a good idea. Jet-lag was one reason it took me so long to get back into the groove after returning from Iceland.

Thankfully, I was forward-thinking and froze a bunch of meals before we left. I had dal bhat waiting for me upon my return as well as this delicious Iraqi-Inspired Eggplant and Seitan Stew from Susan at Fat Free Vegan.

Just like dal bhat, this was a savoury, comforting stew. Filled with warming spices like nutmeg, smoked paprika, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin and cardamom, you have a winning combination with silky yellow split peas and chunks of seitan in a pomegranate-infused sauce. I modified it only slightly by using liquid smoke and substituting Aleppo chili flakes for the larger chilies.

I have made seitan, or wheat meat, once before as chorizo sausages. This recipe is neat because you make a batch of seitan specifically for this recipe. The results are chewy nuggets admixed within the cooked eggplant and split peas. A nice play of textures with a definite protein boost.

This was a delicious stew to return home to, especially since it was so cold upon our return. Curl up with a bowl of stew any day you need some a virtual warm hug from a bowl.


This is my submission to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays and to E.A.T. World for Iraq and to Ricki’s Wellness Weekend.

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Mango BBQ Beans

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian), Sides by Janet M on May 25, 2011


What’s in a label? Call something vegan and people assume it doesn’t taste any good. Somehow it will deprive them of something they “need”. (Me? Bitter? Much?)

This weekend, I was planning a menu since I was hosting guests. I initially thought my challenge was finding something I could make or reheat in a kitchen devoid of all my usual ingredients and utensils.

No, that was not my challenge.

“I don’t like vegan food,” said one guest.

Oh my gosh, what to do?!

I would obviously have to figure out a way to appeal to everyone’s palates with our limited kitchen possibilities.

If meat was somewhat prominent, perhaps a vegan dish could be stealthily incorporated into the menu.

In the end, we opted to use the barbecue for some quick meals with side dishes I made at home earlier.  We served barbecued wild boar sausages with a side of (vegan) coleslaw.  For dessert, we made mango shrikhand or simply unadorned Alphonso mangoes for those averse to yogurt.  The following day we went entirely vegan with mango BBQ beans, leftover coleslaw, cucumber slices wrapped inside a tortilla, or with a side of multigrain bread.

I heard the sausages were nice, but there were resounding compliments for the mango BBQ beans. Red kidney beans are simmered in a tomato sauce spiced with coriander, allspice, liquid smoke and mango. Smoky, sweet, zippy and saucy. A perfect combination for barbecue flavours. Don’t be fooled by the mango, though. It adds sweetness as opposed to authentic mango flavour, although some of the frozen mango chunks were still present within the sauce. While the original recipe from Appetite for Reduction calls for red kidney beans, I think pinto beans would be better next time. This way, it would be more similar to baked beans. Or black beans since they pair so well with mango.

The great thing about these beans, though, is that they are easy to whip up in advance. After an overnight sit, they tasted even better. Just reheat prior to serving and you’ve got some smokin’ mango BBQ beans! :)

I bit my tongue as my guest said these were one of the best baked beans she’s eaten. They were vegan and she knew that, too. I just won’t label anything in advance to ward off any undue prejudice. ;)

This is my submission to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Smitha of Kannada Cuisine.

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Tamarind BBQ Tempeh and Sweet Potatoes

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on January 11, 2011


In this electronic age, word of mouth can spread fast. Online feedback is immortalized. While I like to consult reviews, too, I didn’t know authors like to gauge their own success through these reviews.  I was surprised (but I guess I shouldn’t have been) when I saw Dreena Burton, author of Eat Drink and Be Vegan, really upset by a recent review on amazon. The primary complaint was that her recipes were criticized for using too many unusual ingredients (tempeh, artichoke hearts, pine nuts,  lemongrass, agave nectar, etc).

I am so glad my blog doesn’t get judged as harshly – the blogging community is actually VERY supportive. Heck, we actively encourage our readers to try new and unusual ingredients that we have discovered ourselves. I certainly do not purport to be solely cooking from kitchen staples. When I went home over the holidays, I had to figure out what I could still cook in my parents’ kitchen without having to run to the grocery store too often. I know that my armamentarium of ingredients has ballooned since I’ve moved to Toronto and discovered ethnic grocery stores. My favourite ingredients right now include pomegranate molasses, bulgur, lentils du Puy, cardamom, tamarind, and tempeh. Personally, I love it when I find new recipes that use these unique ingredients!

I remember flipping through Veganomicon before I moved to Toronto and the recipes didn’t really appeal to me. I agree, all the new ingredients can be intimidating. However, when I returned to it recently, my curiosity was caught by many recipes. My favourites so far have been the chickpeas romesco and the tamarind lentils.

I recently bought Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a Veganomicon co-author. When I saw a recipe for tempeh and sweet potatoes marinaded in a tamarind-based barbecue sauce, I knew I had to try it first. I also had all the ingredients. :)

The recipe is also posted here and I modified it by decreasing the tempeh. Who wants to use one and half packages of tempeh for a recipe? The recipe didn’t mention it, but I used Terry’s tip in Viva Vegan to steam the tempeh with half a cup of water in the microwave. Apparently it removes its bitter taste. However, whenever Rob has prepared tempeh, I have not noticed a bitter taste.

I cut the tempeh into small triangles and used around 600 g of sweet potatoes with the same amount of marinade. I started making this dish in the morning, allowing everything to marinade until I threw it into the oven for an easy, late lunch.

I was skeptical the sauce would thicken but it was perfect right out of the oven. It was a smokey barbecue sauce with a strong tangy tamarind flavour. It worked well with the meaty, chewy tempeh and the sweet potatoes. My only complaint, and we’ve had this problem before with tempeh, is that it slurps up the marinade once cooled as leftovers. It still tasted fine for leftovers, but the sauciness was lost. Therefore, it was best the day it was prepared, but still conferred reasonable leftovers. Next time, I may throw in a leafy green like kale, as Susan did here.

This is my submission to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Cinzia from Cindystar.

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Brazilian Black Bean Stew with Portobello Mushrooms (Portobello Feijoada)

Posted in Mains (Vegetarian) by Janet M on October 18, 2010


I had forgotten how much I love black beans.  I used to make a tasty black bean and salsa soup in university. With canned black beans, it was a quick and easy meal. At that time, I tried to cook black beans from dry but it didn’t work out well. I recall hard beans in a black soup. So I hadn’t really ventured to try again. Until now.

As I was reading through Viva Vegan, I was inspired to try cooking my own black beans again. I still had the 3+ year old black beans from my last adventure, so, first, I opted to buy fresh beans.

Then I got to work creating this lovely black bean and portobello Brazilian-style stew. I say Brazilian-style since authentic feijoada involves lots of meat. Instead of meat, this vegan stew does not compromise in taste. It uses both portobello mushrooms and TVP (textured vegetable protein) for a meaty texture. TVP soaks up the broth nicely and like tofu, tastes like its surroundings. It is plump and juicy, and feels like ground meat. It is also probably one of the cheapest forms of protein (I bought mine at Essence of Life, and it is at Bulk Barn, but I am fairly confident you can find it in well-stocked grocery stores as well). I really liked the flavourful combination of mushrooms, black beans, cumin and thyme in the stew.

A few pointers for next time, don’t start cooking the stew until your beans are at least 1.5-2 hours through their cooking time. I had a bit of a mismatch on my timing so I didn’t add them as early as I would have liked. As well, the leftover stew became thicker, so feel free to leave it more soupy, or add water to thin when reheating.

I also wanted to highlight how wonderful the black beans were cooked from dry. They really were better than canned, as they held their shape, had a smooth consistency and tasted better. Next time, I will cook up more black beans than I need so I can make this in no time. If you don’t want to cook up your own beans, feel free to substitute 2 cans of black beans instead for a meal with considerably less prep time.


This is my submission to AWED this month, featuring Brazilian food and to this month’s My Legume Love Affair, hosted by Dil Se. (more…)