Roast Vegetable Tart

Quiches, Vegan

roast-vegetable-tart

Adapted from meatfreemondays.com

Paul McCartney and his daughters started a movement in the UK (Meat Free Mondays) to encourage people to eat less meat. Many restaurants have integrated this campaign into their menus and it as spread across the world while helping convert many people (including myself) to vegetarianism. The Meat Free Mondays website has a collection of many great vegetarian and vegan recipes, including this one. This tart is incredibly easy and quick to make and uses everyday ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 5 tablespoons butter (or margarine for a vegan version)
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 onion, chopped coarsely
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced thickly
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into 1-centimeter rounds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

roast-vegetable-tart-arriba

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C). Grease a pie dish and set aside
  2. Mix the flours in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the butter with a knife until the mix is like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the cold water (add more if necessary) until the mix forms a dough.
  5. Wrap the dough in parchment paper and place in the fridge for a half-hour.
  6. Place all the chopped vegetables and herbs in a baking tray and toss in the olive oil.
  7. Bake the vegetables for about 25 minutes or until they are tender. Let cool.
  8. Roll out the chilled dough to 5-millimeter thickness and place in the prepared pie dish. Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper and place pie weights (or beans) on top, making sure that they line the edges. Blind bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  9. Add the vegetables to the tart and bake for another 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

 

Comments: Like I said before, this is a very easy and quick recipe, perfect for a weeknight meal. Though delicious, it is quite light as it has no eggs or cheese like regular quiches. We had this tart with some spinach soup. This tart could also be good as an appetizer. The original recipe calls for vegan margarine but we don’t buy margarine so I used butter instead. When cutting in the butter with a knife, you can always “cheat” like I did and use your hands to mix better; it’s so much easier! When rolling out the dough, I placed another piece of parchment paper between the dough and the rolling pin to create a sort of “sandwich” with the two pieces of parchment paper; in doing so, I did not have to waste flour for rolling out the dough AND I didn’t have to clean the rolling pin. I later also used the parchment paper to place the dough in the pie dish. For a more detailed explanation for rolling out dough and blind baking, look at my instructions for quiche crust.

roast-vegetable-tart-pedazo

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Roasted Pumpkin and Sage Whole Wheat Pasta with Pumpkin Seed and Spinach Pesto

Pasta, Vegan

roasted-pumpkin-and-sage-whole-wheat-pasta-with-pumpkin-seed-and-spinach-pesto

Adapted from Going Veggie by Trudy Slabosz

Though it sounds like a super dense meal, surprisingly it is not. May I add that it is another great autumn recipe. I’ve always had the traditional pesto so it was interesting to try out this new combination. I loved the combination of pumpkin (kabocha squash in my case) with the pasta and pesto. Though it takes about 45-60 minutes to make, it is not a difficult recipe. Don’t be intimidated!

Yields 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¾ teaspoons maple syrup
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3 cups spinach
  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cups diced kabocha squash
  • Bunch of fresh sage
  • 9 ounces (250 grams) whole wheat pasta

Directions:

  1. To make the pesto, add the pumpkin seeds to a heavy pan and dry roast over medium-low heat until they begin to crackle and pop. Remove them from the heat and drizzle the maple syrup on top along with the pepper. The maple syrup should almost candy when it hits the hot seeds. All to cool.
  2. Transfer the pumpkin seed mixture to a food processor. Add the spinach to the food processor. With the motor running, gradually add ¼ cup of olive oil until you have a loose pesto. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C).
  4. Throw the diced kabocha into a baking tray and drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season with pepper. Toss well and place in the preheated oven for around 25 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.
  6. When the kabocha pieces just begin to turn golden on the edges, add the sage leaves and return to the oven for another 5 minutes or until the squash is soft and golden and the sage leaves are crisp.
  7. Add the cooked pasta to the same heavy pan you dry roasted the pumpkin seeds in and toss over medium heat with the prepared pesto until well coated. Add the roasted kabocha and sage leaves. Toss gently to combine.

 

Comments: Alternatively, you can use regular pasta instead of whole wheat or any other kind you wish (the original recipe calls for spelt pasta). Originally, as the name suggests, the recipe is made with pumpkin but I had a kabocha squash sitting in my kitchen, waiting to be roasted so I decided to use that instead. If you wish, you can double the amount of pumpkin seeds and maple syrup and use half for the pesto and toss the rest in the final step with the pasta and pesto. I did not try it but this pasta would also probably be delicious sprinkled with some feta or goat cheese.

 

Casamiento

Vegan

casamiento

Adapted from Meat-Free Monday Everywhere

A few days ago it was surprisingly and unusually cold in Houston. I wanted something to “warm my soul” for dinner that included beans. I had originally thought of making a chili but as I started scrolling through my recipes, I came across this recipe in the digital international cookbook by Meat-Free Mondays, the British organization started by Paul McCartney and his daughters. This recipe is originally from Honduras and the name means “marriage” in Spanish. The story that goes along with the dish is that the beans symbolize men and the rice symbolize women; when they marry, they turn the same color, “they become one.”

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1½ tablespoons oil (coconut oil recommended)
  • 1 can beans, drained (I used a mix of kidney, black and pinto beans)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I used 1 bag of Minute’s multi-grain medley)
  • 1 tablespoon parsley or cilantro
  • 30 grams (1/4 cup) onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan, combine the onions, the oil, cumin and pepper. Cook over medium heat until fragrant, about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in the beans, reduce heat to simmer and cover for five more minutes.
  3. Add rice and parsley or cilantro and combine. Make sure that the rice and beans “marry.” Once combined, let it cook on low heat for about five minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and let stand for five minutes before serving.

 

Comments: This was an incredibly easy and delicious meal. My sister-in-law fried plantain slices, which went very well with the casamiento. The original recipe also suggests using tortillas. The original recipe also suggests using coconut oil (I used vegetable oil), two cups of cooked kidney or black beans (instead of canned), white rice and two tablespoons of green peppers. I am sure that the green peppers go very well with this but I did not want to cut open a pepper for just two tablespoons. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

casamiento-close-up

Apple-Peanut Butter Oat Muffins

Cupcakes and Muffins, Vegan

apple-peanut-butter-oat-muffins

Adapted from Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon

As you look at the list of ingredients, you may not expect much from these muffins. However, believe me when I say that they are a perfectly delicious autumn treat! I love how they are bursting with chunky apple and oats and have just a hint of peanut butter. They are really quick to make too!

Yields 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 red apple (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (177C). Line a muffin tin with muffin cups and set aside.
  2. Core and dice the apple and measure out 1 cup.
  3. In a mixing bowl, whisk the flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda together. Add the diced apple and set aside.
  4. Add the maple syrup, vanilla, water, almond milk and banana to the bowl of a food processor and whiz until smooth.
  5. Pour the banana mixture into the flour-apple mixture and stir a few times until mostly combined. Add the peanut butter and stir until just combined. If the batter looks too dry (depends on the apple’s juiciness), add a little more milk.
  6. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin tin. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes.

 

Comments: The original recipe actually called for rolled oats; as usual, I didn’t have them and substituted them for the old-fashioned oats. You can use any kind of milk in place of the almond milk. The banana does not have to be full of brown spots; mine was just ripe, slightly past the “perfect eating phase” (when they are bright yellow). For the peanut butter, I used Trader Joe’s Organic Creamy, No Salt Peanut Butter (my favorite). I would highly recommend using a similar one whose ingredients are only peanuts. For the muffin cups, I would highly recommend using the aluminum or silicone ones because of the whole wheat. You can also grease the muffin tin instead and not use cups.

apple-peanut-butter-oat-muffins-close-up

Stir-Fried Tofu and Peppers

Vegan

stir-fried-tofu-and-peppers

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com

A stir-fry is a great weeknight meal. It’s simple, quick and always yummy. I loved that the ingredients in this recipe were all things that I always have at home so I don’t have to plan ahead to make it. You can have a meal ready in literally 30 minutes.

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • ½ pound firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut in 1-inch squares
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut in 1-inch squares
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Slice the tofu about ½ inch think into 1-x 2-inch dominoes.
  2. Mix together 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium bowl. Toss gently with the tofu and stir to make sure all the pieces are coated. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining soy sauce and sugar. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates on contact. Add the oil, turn the heat to medium-high and add the peppers. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Add the ginger and stir-fry for 20 seconds until fragrant. Add the tofu and dried red pepper flakes. Stir-fry for two minutes, give the sauce a stir and add to the pan. Cover and cook for three minutes. Remove the lid, stir the ingredients in the pan and adjust seasonings.

 

Comments: Even though this is very quick to make, you can prep all the ingredients several hours beforehand and leave the cooking for last minute. If you want firmer tofu, you can blot the tofu dry and wrap it in a clean kitchen towel or paper towels and place a plate or cutting board on top for 15 minutes. I served this tofu with brown rice but you could also do noodles.

Spicy Tofu Marinade

Vegan

spicy-tofu-marinade

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com

When it says spicy, it MEANS spicy. I didn’t think it would be spicier than the Chipotle Sauce but it was. It definitely was. Thankfully, I like spicy things and my mom doesn’t like tofu so all was well. This is again very quick (10-15 minutes) and ideal for about a pound of tofu.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 teaspoon dry ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Directions:

  1. Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Use as a marinade for pan-seared, grilled or plain tofu.

 

Comments: I prepared the marinade as I let strips of tofu to cook on the griddle. Once the tofu was ready, I immediately spread the marinade over it and sat down to eat. You can find the rice vinegar and mirin in the aisle of the supermarket where they sell Asian products. Leftovers are good in a sandwich or whole grain English muffin. The marinade keeps well in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.

spicy-tofu-marinade-close-up

Spicy Lentil and Sweet Potato Stew with Chipotles

Vegan

spicy-lentil-and-sweet-potato-with-chipotles

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com

This is a great recipe for a chilly, autumn day. Of course, around here in the Houston area those autumn days are virtually nonexistent but I can pretend. I love the combination of lentils and sweet potatoes and they create a deliciously satisfying meal. There’s nothing complex about this recipe and there is very little hands-on time. Due to the simmering process, however, it does take about an hour to complete.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1½ cups brown lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-1¼ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in large dice
  • 1-2 chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 1 bay leaf

spicy-lentil-and-sweet-potato-stew-with-chipotles-bowl

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until it softens.
  2. Add the salt, cumin and carrots. Stir together for a minute and then add the lentils, water, sweet potatoes, chipotles, tomato purée and the bay leaf.
  3. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender and the broth is fragrant.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with lime wedges if desired.

 

Comments: Like I said before there is nothing too complex about this recipe. The original one calls for 2 teaspoons of lightly toasted and ground cumin seeds; I did not have cumin seeds and used ground cumin instead, reducing it to ½ teaspoon. I think, if you use ground cumin, you could even increase this to 1 teaspoon. Because my mom is not very tolerant of spicy foods, I only used 1 chipotle however even my mom later admitted that it could have been a little spicier. You can make this 3 to 4 days in advance but it will thicken as the lentils swell; you can add water or stock to thin it out.

spicy-lentil-and-sweet-potato-stew-with-chipotles-bowl-close-up

Argentine Empanadas

Beef, Vegan, Vegetarian

empanadas-ii

Adapted and translated from cocinerosargentinos.com

Empanadas are at the core of Argentine cuisine. Of course, other South American countries also claim empandas as their own but each country has a different style. Logically, since I’m from Argentina, I make Argentine-style empanadas. So anyway, as I was saying, empandas are a staple in my country. You can’t be an Argentine and not have tapas de empandas (the dough rounds for empandas) in your freezer or refrigerator. Last year, my first year in college with my own kitchen, I brought from home a package of store-bought tapas (yes, you can get Argentine tapas in the U.S. and elsewhere). However, this year I decided to be adventurous and make my own. I started researching and found a few recipes I liked but then I remembered that I had whole-wheat flour. I tend to prefer whole grains but I had never thought of making whole-wheat tapas. I did some more research and liked this recipe that I found on a website I use frequently. I then needed to find the right utensils. I looked around Davis, my college town, in every store I could think of and could not find a rolling pin or a cookie cutter large enough (a typical size for empandas would be 10-12 centimeters or around 4 inches). What did I do? I rolled out the dough with my metal Aggie water bottle and cut the rounds by hand. Hopefully you will have the right utensils. At this point the knights from Monty Python will be saying, “Get on with it!” so without further ado, here is the recipe for the tapas, followed by some suggestions for fillings.

Yields around 12 tapas

Ingredients:

  • 300 grams whole-wheat flour (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil
  • 150 milliliters of water (about 2/3 cups) and more if necessary
  • Juice from 1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F (204C). Grease a baking pan and set aside.
  2. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Add some more water if necessary so that the dough is not dry and will hold together. Knead the dough with your hands to combine well.
  3. Cover the bowl with a dishtowel so it will not dry and let rest for about half an hour.
  4. On a clean counter, roll out the dough very thin, about 1 millimeter of width. With a 10-12-centimeter cookie cutter, cut out rounds. Pile the rounds on a clean plate, placing a piece of plastic wrap between each one so they will not become dry or stick to one another.
  5. One by one fill each round with the desired filling. To close, moisten the edge of each round and fold the dough over to wrap the filling. Press down on the edges. To finish, you can crimp the edges (like the edge of a pie crust), crimp the edges with the twines of a fork or simply fold up the edges as seen in the pictures. As you finish shaping each empanada, set them on the prepared baking pan.
  6. Place the empanadas in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until the dough is golden and no longer soft.

empanadas-plato

Fillings

  • Beef: The classic filling would have to be beef. There are several variations, depending on what region in Argentina you come from. The way my mom makes them is by mixing ground beef with onion, red pepper, green pepper, green onion, oregano, pepper flakes, a hint of cumin, pepper, salt and a generous amount of paprika (pimentón). You must first cook the beef and then add the vegetables and seasonings. The secret to a juicy beef empanada (even if using very lean meat) is to use the same amount of beef and onion on a weight basis.
  • Ham and Cheese: Probably the second most popular filling would be ham and cheese. This is pretty straightforward and self-explanatory. You mix cubes of cheese with cut up ham. Some people used diced ham though I used to hate it when they made them like that. It’s up to you.
  • Fugazzeta: One of my favorites is cheese and onion. Slice an onion thinly and sauté with spices such as pepper, oregano and paprika. Then you mix it with cubed cheese.
  • Capresse: For this filling, dice a tomato and mix it with cubed cheese.
  • À la Lucienne: This is not actually thing. I gave the filling this name because it was my own invention the first time I made empanadas while at college; the empanadas in the pictures have this filling. It contains eggplant, onion and goat cheese. All of my favorite things, right? You first slice the onion thinly and sauté it in a saucepan until it softens and begins to turn golden. You then add an eggplant, cubed, as well as oregano and ground pepper. You continue cooking until the eggplant is tender and both vegetables have a nice golden color. Let the vegetables cool down a bit and then mix with goat cheese.

 

Comments: This recipe was quite easy and straightforward. Of course, it would have been a lot easier if I had the right equipment but you do what you can. I think you should get about 12 tapas; I got tired of rolling out the dough with the water bottle so I froze about half of the dough. The amount you get will depend on how thin you roll out the dough. Tapas de empanadas are typically very thin; you want to be able to taste the filling and not get a bite of just the dough. For the fillings, I recommend using a good melting cheese. In Argentina, my personal pick would be Por Salut, which you don’t typically find outside of the country. Mozzarella is always a safe pick but I have found that I really like the Mexican cheese Oaxaca. Above I only gave a few suggestions; I could go on listing fillings indefinitely. You can definitely do some research of your own to find other fillings. Some other ones that are popular in Argentina are humita (corn), spinach and chicken. I hope your empanada adventure turns out well!

empanadas-plato-ii

Tofu with Hot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

Vegan

Tofu with Hot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

This sauce is a delicious little concoction, perfect for a quick meal. It is just about the right amount of sauce for a pound of tofu. I simply sliced and grilled the tofu and you can cook it whatever way you like best. As you cook the tofu, you can prepare the sauce, which won’t take more than 10 minutes (just right amount of time for grilling tofu!).

Yields 4 servings:

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from canned chipotles
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup tomato purée
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Mix together all the ingredients.
  2. Brush on seared or grilled tofu as soon as it comes off the heat or onto uncooked slices.

 

Comments: I don’t think I have any suggestions for this recipe, as it is quite straightforward. If you wish, you can prepare the sauce beforehand and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Honestly, though, there is no need for advance preparation. The sauce is somewhat spicy but I did not find it overwhelmingly hot.

Tofu with Hot Chipotle Barbecue Sauce, close up

Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

Vegan

Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew

Adapted from Cooking Light May 2010

I was given a large stack of cooking magazines, which meant many new recipes to try out. That’s always exciting. It being late October, I was in the mood for a nice, heart-warming stew. This recipe, inspired by a dish served at Etete (a restaurant in D.C.), looked promising. I was right!

Yields 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 teaspoons dried ground ginger, divided
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato purée
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried small red lentils
  • 4 cups hot cooked rice

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, combine the cloves, 1 teaspoon of ginger, coriander and allspice. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 15 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the tomato purée and spice blend. Cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Gradually add the broth, stirring with a whisk until blended. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
  5. Add the lentils to the broth mixture and simmer, partially covered for 35 minutes or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve the stew over the rice and sprinkled with some parsley or cilantro.

 

Comments: This is an incredibly easy recipe though it does take some time, like any stew. We all really enjoyed it, including my father who is not a fan of lentils. Though it has very few ingredients, the stew is very flavorful with the combination of spices. The original recipe calls for 1½ tablespoons of Berbere spice (mixture of dried chiles, cloves, ginger coriander and allspice); since I did not have this, I made my own blend but if you find Berbere spice feel free to use it instead of making your own blend. The recipe also says to use basmati rice; for my parents, who prefer white rice, I made regular white rice and for myself I made Minute’s Multi-Grain Medley. Use whatever type of rice you prefer.

Spicy Ethiopian Red Lentil Stew, close up