Cauliflower Chickpea Curry with Coconut and Sweet Potatoes

CauliflowerChickpeaCurry.jpg

Here’s a fragrant, flavourful curry that is just as delicious in summer as it is in winter. For winter cooking, I use frozen cauliflower, which is both affordable and appealing to lazy cooks like me.

There’s a little bit of chopping, a few cans to open and then all you have to do is let the curry cook itself. Easy!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil

1 onion diced

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1 red chili minced – see TIP below

1 Tbsp grated ginger root OR 1 teaspoon powdered ginger

1 Tbsp garam masala

½ Tbsp curry powder

1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas (that’s one 15 oz can drained and rinsed)

2 cups canned or boxed tomatoes (If you have any leftover tomatoes, just freeze them in a freezer bag).

1 sweet potato peeled and diced

2 cups cauliflower cut into florets

1 can coconut milk (397 ml or 13 oz)

1/3 cup vegetable broth (optional)

1-2 teaspoon salt (depending on your tomatoes and tastes)

1 cinnamon stick

1 lime leaf – see TIP below

1-2 cups chopped spinach – see TIP below

Directions

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic, chili, onion and grated ginger, if using. Sauté until the onion is soft. Add the garam masala and curry and powdered ginger if using and stir to coat the onion/garlic mix and let the spices heat through.

Add all the other ingredients except the spinach and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for 40 minutes. Add the spinach in the last few minutes of cooking.

Fish out the lime leaf and cinnamon stick.

I love this dish served over rice, especially jasmine rice. Enjoy!

CauliflowerChickpeaCurry2

TIP – This recipe is a study in foods you can keep in your freezer so you always have them handy.

I buy my red chilies in bulk and then freeze them in a freezer bag. They’ll last for months in the freezer and are much easier to mince or grate frozen than they are to chop fresh.

If you have leftover fresh spinach or kale, throw it into a freezer bag and store it in the freezer. When I need a cup or two of spinach/kale for a cooked recipe like this, I just crush the greens before adding them to my recipe. There’s no chopping involved and I always have greens on hand for soups, stews, even omelettes.

I buy my lime leaves at an Asian grocery. They come in a bag with a couple dozen leaves in them – far more than is ever needed for any one recipe. The grocer told me to freeze the leftover leaves and use them as needed. Works perfectly!

You can always store other leftover fresh herbs (Do you ever use a whole bunch of cilantro because I don’t!) in freezer bags and then use the frozen herbs as you would fresh ones in stews and sauces and even salad dressings. As with the spinach or kale, you won’t even need to chop – just crumble the frozen herbs. Frozen herbs do not work well as garnishes.

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The “Oh Hell Yeah!” of Black Bean Brownies

 

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Listen, I’m not complaining or anything, but I’m forced to eat an awful lot of amazing vegan food in pursuit of great recipes for this blog. I’m considering renaming this site The Fat Vegan.

Here’s a black bean brownie recipe that’s very closely based on Chocolate Covered Katie’s recipe.

The results are chocolately, dense and fudgy, and deliciously versatile. I’ve had these brownies three different ways. Dusted with icing sugar as shown above.

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With vanilla coconut ice cream, raspberry coulis and berries.

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And topped with maple butter and walnuts.

Rough gig. Let’s get baking. You need a food processor for this recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (a 15-oz can, drained and rinsed very well)
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • ½ cup liquid sweetener – agave or maple syrup or even corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup walnut pieces (optional)
  • 1 tsp instant coffee granules (optional – but it adds depth to the chocolate flavour). Alternately, you could use 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (trust me on this).
  • 4 Tbsp cocoa powder

Directions

Heat your oven to 350F.

Grease a 9”x 9” pan for thinner brownies or a 8”x 8” pan for a thicker brownie. I used a 9”x 9” for these photos.

Put the rolled oats into the food processer and blitz them until you have a coarse meal. Add the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips and walnuts and blitz again until everything is combined. You may need to scrape down the sides once.

Remove the food processor blade. Manually stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts to combine.

Spoon the brownie batter into your greased pan and level out the batter.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Let the brownies cool before trying to cut them. I like them best of all after they’ve thoroughly cooled – they seem to get even chewier and fudgier!

Get creative with your toppings… or no toppings. I see in my future that I’ll be trying these brownies with cinnamon and cayenne added to the batter. I’ll let you know how that goes.

 

White bean pot pies – savoury, creamy, comfort

Whitebeanpotpie

I have always loved pot pies but haven’t eaten one in years once I learned of all the nasty things that go into the crust and filling. But on this chilled winter weekend, I just had to have a pot pie.

In case you’re new to this blog, there a few things you need to know about me. I eat vegan food. I can’t roll things (nothing – not a rug, not a burrito) and I’m lazy. Well, I think of it as time and energy efficient.

So if I can make these pot pies, any one can! They are easy and no-fail and most of all comfort food at its finest. They’re also made with ingredients you likely already have in your fridge, freezer and pantry.

You can mix up the vegetables you use in these pot pies. I’ve included a very traditional blend, but I think sweet potatoes, parsnips, fennel or even cabbage could be interesting. You could even use a bag of mixed frozen vegetables.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups white beans (navy or great northern beans). That’s one 15 ounce can drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 carrot sliced (I think a small sweet potato peeled and cubed would make a great substitution)

1 rib celery finely sliced

1 onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1/3 cup frozen green peas

¼ cup flour (you will need a little extra too for rolling out your dough)

3 cups vegetable broth

1/3 cup white wine (optional)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried mustard

1 tsp salt

½ teaspoon ground pepper

1 bay leaf

1 Tbsp A-1 Sauce (a/k/a brown sauce) or vegan Worcestershire sauce

Pie crust – see note

Directions

Note: I used plain, store brand, no-name, pre-made, frozen pie crusts – enough for 2 bottom crusts. I let the shells thaw for about 15 minutes and then manually wadded them into a dough ball. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, I rolled the dough out onto a floured surface until I had a ¼ inch thick square. I measured out the pie crust lids by using the bowls I baked the pot pies in as a form of cookie cutter. I inverted the bowls onto the dough and cut out the circle size I needed to make the pie crust lid.

Here’s an excellent recipe and instructions on making pie crust, if you’re inclined to bake right from scratch. It really isn’t hard at all and only takes a few extra minutes!

I used 4 ceramic bowls, but you could also use ramekins or make one big pie or mix it up however you feel.

To make the filling

Preheat your oven to 400F.

Pour the olive oil into a medium sized Dutch oven or sauce pan. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until the onions are getting translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for another minute or two.

Add the flour and stir until the vegetables are all covered and the flour cooks slightly – about 1 minute. Add the wine, if using, and the broth and all the seasonings. Stir well to make sure you have a smooth broth and bring to a boil. Once the filling boils, reduce the heat and let the broth simmer for about 10 minutes. Fish out the bay leaf.

Line a large cookie sheet with foil and place your baking dishes on the foil lined cookie sheet. You don’t have to do this, but it makes it MUCH easier to put your small pot pies in the oven and take them out again. The foil means you don’t have to clean the cookie sheet.

Fill each bowl equally with the pot pie filling. Top with a piece of pie crust cut to size. If your pie crust goes right to the edges of the dish, cut a slit in the crust to let steam escape.

Bake for 35 -40 minutes.

These pies will keep for 3 days in the fridge. You can reheat them in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes OR microwave.

You can freeze these pies once cooked. To reheat them, let them defrost in the fridge first.

Chewy chocolate-coconut bites

ChocolateCoconut

If you like chewy, sweet coconut treats combined with chocolate, then this is the recipe for you! Taste, texture and the tropics come together for delicious vegan treat that’s quick and easy to make. The hardest part is waiting for the chocolate to set.

Ingredients

2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut

¼ cup coconut oil, melted

¼ cup agave nectar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup vegan chocolate chips or other dark vegan chocolate (Remember to buy fair-trade chocolate. Child slavery should not be involved in a compassionate diet!)

Directions

Line a 9”x 5” dish or pan with wax paper.

In a blender or food processor (my ancient blender did the trick just fine), combine all the ingredients except the chocolate. Grind together until you have a chunky paste. This can take a couple minutes. You still want some coconut-y texture.

Spoon the mixture into your wax-paper-lined container, smooth it out and pop into the freezer to let it harden.

While the coconut mixture is cooling, get your double boiler ready for melting your chocolate.

I highly recommend the double boiler method over using the microwave since it’s waaaaay too easy to burn your chocolate in the microwave. I’ve done it. I’ve had chocolate so hot it’s eaten a hole in my microwave-safe dishes.

If you don’t have a double boiler, you can make one. Simply heat a couple inches of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. You can switch the heat off or reduce to simmer when the water is boiling. Place your chocolate chips/pieces into a metal or heat-proof glass bowl that is big enough to sit on top of the saucepan of water (not in the water). Stir constantly as the chocolate melts.

When you chocolate is melted, pour it over the coconut mixture and smooth out. Return the dish to the fridge and let the chocolate harden. That takes about 1 hour.

If you can, cut into the chocolate coconut mix into squares, or just break cut into bite size pieces… I find a good-quality chocolate has so much snap, it will cut itself however it pleases.

Dig in and enjoy! Maybe even share.

Lentil sloppy joes

SloppyJoe

 

When I was a kid, sloppy joes were a really big deal for lunch or dinner. Making them involved nothing more than ground beef and a can of Manwich sauce. I shudder to think of it now. These sloppy joys, on the other hand, are something to get excited about. They’re tangy with a hint of sweetness. The lentils are chewy and satisfying and the whole dish – never mind that long list of ingredients, almost all of which you probably have in your pantry already – comes together easily. And…. these joes are great for your body. They’re loaded with iron, fibre, protein and vitamin C.

Ingredients

1 cup of dried Du Puy lentils (or black lentils a/k/a beluga lentils). You want a smaller lentil that needs no presoaking and cooks quickly

1 medium carrot finely minced

1 stalk celery finely minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 red or green pepper diced

1 onion diced

1 clove garlic minced

2 tsp chili powder

½ tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp dry mustard

15 oz can (541 ml) diced tomatoes

3 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar

½ to 1 Tbsp sriracha sauce (optional)

1 Tbsp prepared mustard

2 Tbsp ketchup

2 Tbsp A-1 sauce (a/k/a brown sauce)

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sea salt (adjust according to how much salt is in your tomato paste and diced tomatoes)

¼ tsp ground black pepper

1/3 cup vegetable broth

Toasted bread or buns for serving. This recipe makes 4 generous servings.

Directions

Put the lentils, diced celery and carrot and 2 cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and let simmer for 15 minutes. The lentils will be chewy but still firm and most of the water will be absorbed. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the onion and red or green pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and dry spices and stir together, letting the spices heat through. Add all the remaining ingredients, including the saucepan of lentils (do not drain!) to the large sauce pan. Stir everything together to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncover for 15 to 20 minutes depending on how saucy you want your sloppy joes to be. I cooked mine for 20 minutes.

Serve over toasted bread, buns or fat pitas (as I did). This dish is even better the next day and freezes well for up to 2 months.

Easy 3-cheesey and veggie lasagna

lasagna

Can you believe this is the first lasagna I ever made? And I had the audacity to do it without a recipe. I think you can’t help but get crazy-good results when pasta, cheese and spaghetti sauce are involved.

Remember that I am a lazy cook so even though I made two of the cheeses in this recipe (the third is Daiya mozzeralla-style shreds), the whole recipe is easy and fail proof. I don’t like to waste time or food or money.

I made the nut-based mozzarella and the tofu-based ricotta the night before just to make Sunday morning assembly easier.

Tofu ricotta cheese

Ingredients

12 oz block firm tofu

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1 teaspoon salt

A few grinds of pepper

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1/3 of a lemon)

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

¼ cup raw cashews soaked for a few hours and drained (optional but lovely)

Directions

Put everything in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients are all incorporated and look like stiff paste. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender or just dig in with a fork and get mashing and blending. I’m lazy… I used the blender because it’s easier to clean!

 Mozzerella cheese

Ingredients

¼ cup raw cashews soaked for about 4 hours or longer and drained

1 cup of hot water

2 ½ Tbsp tapioca flour

I Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice or cider vinegar

Directions

Put everything into a blender and blend until creamy.

Pour into a small saucepan on medium heat. Heat and stir. The mixture will start to curdle (the way scrambled eggs do) and then become thick and look like thick melted cheese. The process takes about 5 minutes. Let the mixture cool and then use in lasagnas, on pizzas or broiled on French onion soup. This mozzarella will store in the fridge for a few days. Some water may separate out of it, if you store it. Just drain that water off.

 The rest of the lasagna

Ingredients

12 oven-ready lasagna noodles – the kind that you don’t need to boil first

2-3 cups of fresh spinach washed and chopped

1 small zucchini cut into ½ moon slices

1 cup of sliced mushrooms

2 ½ cups spaghetti sauce (honestly, I used canned)

1 cup shredded Daiya mozzarella cheese (or other shredded vegan cheese)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Okay – do not be daunted by these instructions. All you are doing is creating layers of noodles, ricotta/mozzarella, veggies and sauce. Just do that and it’s all good. My instructions are written to ensure you have enough of everything to get you to the top saucy layer!

Spread about ¼ cup spaghetti sauce on the bottom of a large ovenproof baking dish (my Pyrex dish is 16”x8”x2”).

Place a layer of 4 noodles – overlapping if necessary. Top with ½ of the tofu ricotta. I find the ricotta is thick so I dolloped it across the noodles as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the shredded spinach and sliced mushrooms on top. Spoon 1/3 of the remaining spaghetti sauce over top – again, it doesn’t have to cover the whole thing evenly. Add another layer of 4 noodles. Top with the remaining ricotta cheese mixture. Sprinkle the sliced zucchini on top. Add 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese in dollops. Spoon half of the remaining spaghetti sauce on top. Add the final layer of 4 lasagna noodles. Top with the remained spaghetti sauce as evenly as possible. Dollop the remaining mozzarella cheese on top.

Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lasagna out of the oven. Remove the foil and sprinkle the Daiya mozzarella cheese on top. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes.

Let the lasagna rest for about 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving. Enjoy!

Hola! It’s Aztec soup – spices, veggies and lentils sing in a bowl.

AztecSoup

Here’s a hearty, flavourful soup that’s easy to make and satisfying. I love it with side of toast and sliced avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Alas, this delicious soup that’s loaded with great flavours and textures photographs badly. You’ll just have to trust me that this ugly duckling is beautiful on the inside (of your tummy).

This recipe makes four dinner-sized bowls. Mmmm.

Ingredients

1 medium onion chopped

1 cup (250 ml) red lentils

1 red or green pepper diced

2 carrots sliced into half-moon coins.

1 stalk celery sliced

½ cup fresh or frozen corn

1 large jalapeno pepper minced

2 cloves garlic minced

½ Tbsp olive or coconut oil

4 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp chili powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, celery, onion, jalapeno and garlic and sauté on medium heat until the onion softens about 5 minutes. Add the diced pepper and sauté a few more minutes. Add all the other ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

This soup will keep covered in the fridge for about 3-4 days and freezes well. It will last for 3 months in the freezer, but even better share with neighbours and friends.