Beans and greens – northern soul food

beansandgreens

Leafy greens – think kale, spinach, lettuces, chard, dandelion and collard greens – are touted as a superfood. They’re something I consciously have to remember to work into my diet, and when I’m do I always wonder why I don’t eat more. They’re delicious!

Here is an easy, fast, tasty and comforting cold weather dish I refer to simply as beans and greens.

Ingredients

10 oz of a sturdy pasta like farfalle, penne or rotini

2 cups vegetable broth

15 oz can white beans (or any kind of bean you like). That’s about 1 ½ cups of cooked beans. Drain and rinse if you’re using canned beans.

3-4 cloves garlic minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

A pinch of red pepper flakes

¼ cup almond butter

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 cups of raw greens chopped into bite-sized pieces. In this photo, I’ve used collard greens.

Salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon sea salt and ¼ teaspoon ground pepper)

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package instructions, drain and place in a large bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Saute the garlic and pepper flakes until the garlic is golden. Add the broth, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and almond butter and heat through stirring until the almond butter melts into the broth. Add the beans and greens and stir together until the greens wilt a bit. Pour the beans and greens mixture into the bowl with the pasta and toss together to incorporate. This makes 4 large servings.

This dish is great served with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and tastes even better the next day.

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Borscht with cashew cream

Borscht

This is a winter soup that always makes me feel nourished and well loved. Traditionally borscht, a beet-based soup, is eaten with sour cream. When the two are stirred together, the borscht turns a glorious, creamy fuchsia. The cashew cream has the same effect and adds protein and healthy fat (there is no fat in borscht) to this nutritionally potent soup. Borscht is extremely easy to make and lasts for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Ingredients for the borscht

4 medium sized beets – peeled and cubed. You should end up with 3 cups of beets.

1 medium carrot, washed and chopped.

1 onion diced

1 19oz can diced tomatoes

½ head cabbage shredded (about 3 cups). I often use red cabbage for an extra vibrant borscht, but today I only had a Chinese cabbage so that is what went in.

4 cups vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon raw sugar (white sugar is not vegan)

1 tablespoon white vinegar (or use cider vinegar if that’s what you have).

Directions

In a large pot combine the onion, carrot, beets, bay leaf, broth, salt, sugar, pepper and vinegar. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and the cabbage and return to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 40 minutes.

This recipe makes 6 large servings.

For the cashew cream

Ingredients

1 cup raw cashew pieces – soaked in water in the fridge for 2-8 hours and then drained.

½ to ¾ cups water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Directions

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend on high until you have a smooth, creamy mixture. Store in a sealed container for up to 3 days. This recipe makes about 1 cup of cream.

Acorn squash stuffed with quinoa pilaf

QuinoaPilaf

I love this dish. It’s simultaneously elegant enough for company dinners but comforting and easy. Funny thing, I’m not a huge fan of squash, but by this time of the year, I’m craving it. There must be something in it that does a body good.

This makes 4 servings (1/2 squash per person).

Ingredients

2 acorn squash

1 cup uncooked quinoa

½ cup chopped pecans

½ cup chopped dried apricots

½ cup chestnuts (already cooked and peeled) – optional

1 cup kale washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

1 onion – diced

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp coconut oil

A pinch of chili seeds

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 – 2 Tbsp maple syrup

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Set the oven to 350. Wash the acorn squash and cut in half around the equator (i.e. not lengthwise). Scoop out the seeds and place the squash cut side up on a cookie sheet. You may want to cut off a bit of the bottom of each squash half so they sit upright. Drizzle each half with 1 Tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes. When they’re done, the squash will be soft when pierced with a fork.

Rinse the quinoa and put it in a pot with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. If you want to be super fancy, you could boil the quinoa in vegetable broth or half broth and half water.

When the quinoa is cooked and still hot, place in a large bowl with the kale, chestnuts (if using) and apricots. The hot quinoa is enough to “cook” the kale.

In a medium-sized, non-stick skillet sauté the onion in the remaining olive oil and the coconut oil, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the chopped pecans, the chili seeds, nutmeg, mustard and maple syrup. Stir together and heat through and then add to the bowl with the quinoa and fruit and kale. Stir together.

Spoon ¼ of the quinoa into each of the squash halves and enjoy!!

If you want to make something much simpler and more casserole-like, cube the cooked squash and toss it with the quinoa mix.

TIP: This dish is also excellent with dried cherries and walnuts instead of apricots and pecans. Replace the nutmeg, mustard and chili seeds with ¼ tsp cumin and 1 tsp dried crumbled sage. Omit the maple syrup.

 

Crabby Jack cakes

CrabbyCakes

Most times when I try a new recipe, I tweak it  and make the recipe my own. But sometimes my cooking creativity involves nothing more than finding recipes on the Internet and seeing if I can recreate them. This is one of these times.

Pre-vegan days, I rarely at crab cakes, but when I wanted them, they called like a siren! These crab cakes, made with jackfruit to replicate the flaky texture of crab and tofu to provide protein and tummy satisfaction, are fantastically like the “real” thing. But they’re better: no one died; there’s no cholesterol, and these cakes are extremely economical to make.

I did get creative with the recipe name. I call these Crabby Jack cakes. Susan Voisin posted them as Jackfruit “Crab” cakes along with her excellent directions and recipe here.http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2012/04/jackfruit-crab-cakes.html

Some things I learned

I made Susan Voisin’s version using tofu rather than white beans. I ended up with 12 patties using about 1/3 cup mix per patty.

I live in southwestern Ontario. I found the Old Bay seasoning at Sobey’s grocers and the jackfruit at an independent Chinese grocer. You don’t need to shop on Amazon for these items.

I ate my Crabby Jack cakes with comeback sauce. It’s a perfect pairing!

Creamy, sundried tomato and almond pasta

SundriedTomatoPasta

I was definitely built for long-term survival! While other people have a sweet tooth, I have a fat tooth. This pasta dish satisfies my love for creamy, rich sauces and yet is completely plant based and healthy. Oh, it’s delicious, fast and easy too. Does it get any better??

Ingredients

12 oz uncooked pasta (I used farfalle pasta)

½ cup sundried tomatoes (mine are not oil packed)

¼ cup raw almonds

¼ cup almond butter

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tsp sea salt

A few grinds black pepper

2 cloves garlic

1 Tbsp olive oil (omit if you’re using oil-packed sundried tomatoes)

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup fresh basil torn in pieces

Directions

Bring the vegetable broth to a boil (or microwave it) and put the sundried tomatoes in the broth to soak for about 10 minutes.

Cook your pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta is cooking, put all the other ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a thick, creamy sauce. Yes. It’s that easy.

Drain the cooked pasta and put in a large bowl. Toss with the sauce.

Additions: If I have cherry tomatoes, I sometimes throw a few in the blender for an even tomato-i-er flavour.

I think this dish would be great with a couple handfuls of chopped fresh spinach or kale added to the pasta pot right before draining the noodles (just enough to blanch the greens).

I love this dish with broccoli and peas.

This recipe is my mildly modified version of the recipe from Laura Machell.

Squash and apple soup

pumpkinapplesoup

Makes 4 servings

Does that recipe title scream autumn to you?

I actually thought I was making a pumpkin and apple soup, but turns out that the rather wan pumpkin I thought I had in my organic farmers’ box was really a spaghetti squash. I didn’t realize until I had the squash cut in half and saw it’s stringy texture. No problem. I just carried on. And that means this recipe could be made with a pumpkin, butternut or spaghetti squash or even an acorn squash. I would reserve the beautiful delicata squash for something a little more… delicate tasting.

This soup is spicy and tangy thanks to the addition of a large Macintosh apple – also from my organic farmers’ box.

Don’t let the list of ingredients daunt you. This is a very easy soup to make and it all comes together in 30 minutes.

Ingredients:

1 tsp coconut oil

1 squash – cut it in half, clean out the seeds and strings in the centre. Microwave for about 6 minutes to soften the gourd and then peel it and cut it into chunks.

1 onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

1 apple cored and diced. Leave the peel on.

Optional – dice and add a carrot too

1 sprig rosemary (optional)

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1 -2 red chilies sliced. I used 2 and my soup is HOT!

1 tsp turmeric

½ tsp ground black pepper

1 bay leaf

1 cinnamon stick

3 cups water or vegetable broth (I used veggie broth since I make my own and always have a supply in the freezer)

Salt to taste (I used a teaspoon since my broth is unsalted).

½ cup coconut milk (if you don’t have coconut milk, a cashew cream would be perfect).

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

In a medium to large pot, on medium heat sauté the onion, ginger, garlic and chili in the coconut oil for about 3 minutes. Add the spices and rosemary, the apple and squash and sauté for about another 3-5 minutes. Add the broth or water and bring to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and the twig that was the rosemary.

Use an immersion blender or a regular blender, blend the soup until creamy. Return to the pot and add the coconut milk and maple syrup. Stir and enjoy!

p.s. I toasted the cleaned squash seeds with some coconut oil, chili powder, smoky paprika, salt and pepper at 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Yum!