Moroccan stew – the warmth of the sun in a bowl.

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When I make this stew, I find myself saying “redolent” over and over as in “this stew is redolent of a sunlit Moroccan bazaar.” It’s not the prettiest dish, but there’s nothing else like it when you want something rich, warmly spiced and satisfying.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil or vegan margarine

1 onion chopped

1 cup shredded kale or spinach (optional)

4 ½ cups vegetable broth

1 cup of cooked chickpeas

1 cup of diced canned tomatoes

2 medium potatoes peeled and diced

1 sweet potato peeled and diced

2 carrots diced

½ cup dried red lentils

1/3 cup dried apricots chopped

1/3 cup wheat bulgur (optional – to help thicken the dish)

Spice mixture – combine in a small cup or bowl

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

½ tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground cloves

¼ tsp ground turmeric

¼ tsp curry powder

Directions

Heat the oil or margarine in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is softened. Add the spice mixture and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add all the other ingredients except the kale or spinach. Stir to combine and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Stir in the kale/spinach and cook for another minute to let the greens wilt.

Serve up and enjoy!

This dish freezes well.

Classic hummus – the elevation of the chickpea!

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I really love chickpeas and hummus is the expression of all that is right and good about this humble, adorable legume. This savoury dip is great spread in sandwiches or served up with veggies and pita bread. It’s packed with fibre, protein, iron and magnesium.

My Lebanese pal, Roger, taught me how to take my hummus from good to great. Thank you, Roger!

You will need a food processor for this recipe (or the patience of a saint to mash and grind all your ingredients by hand). Okay, let’s go. You could have hummus in 5 minutes.

Ingredients

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

Juice of one lemon

1-2 cloves garlic cut in pieces

1 tsp sea salt

1/3 cup tahini

¼ to ½ tsp cumin

5-10 drops hot sauce (I use a chipotle hot sauce).

Directions

If you really want to show some love and have an extra 15 minutes, pop the skins off the chickpeas – just pinch the chickpea and the skin will come off. Removing the skins creates the most silky, smooth hummus you’ve ever had. Yes, it’s kind of tedious work but put on some great tunes and shed that skin (and discard them).

If you take the time to discard the skins you’ll have hummus in 20 minutes. If you skip this step, you’ll have hummus in 5!

If you leave the skins on, that’s cool too. You’ll have a more “rustic” texture. Roger confesses he far prefers the skinned chickpea version of hummus but rarely has the patience to do this step.

Put everything in your food processor and blend and blend and blend. You can add up to 1/3 cup water to make a creamier dip. Do NOT add olive oil at this stage. It can actually make the hummus a bit bitter.

Serve your hummus with a drizzle of good olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.

Enjoy!

Refried beans and rice – casserole style!

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Beans and rice are such an easy, affordable and comforting meal. Here’s my casserole version that everyone loves. This dish comes together quickly and is easy and no fail. It freezes well and is just one of those friendly, favourite recipes that you’ll be so glad you invited into your kitchen.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 cup jarred tomato salsa – whatever brand and heat level you prefer

3 cups fresh spinach

400ml can refried beans

½ cup pickled jalapenos – optional but I love the heat!

½ cup shredded vegan cheese. I use Daiya mozzarella or cheddar style cheese.1

½ cup corn – fresh, frozen or canned as you prefer

1-2 Tbsp chili powder

½ tsp oregano

¼ tsp basil

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp ground pepper

½ to 1 tsp salt (to taste)

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Directions

Place the rice and 2 cups of water in a covered saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let simmer for about 25-30 minutes or until the water is all absorbed. Add the salsa to the cooked rice and stir to combine.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Grease a casserole dish.

Mix the refried beans, the seasonings and corn in a bowl.

Layer half the rice-and-salsa mixture in the bottom of the casserole.

Add the spinach on top in a layer and tamp down. Add the refried bean mixture on top and smooth out. Scatter the pickled jalapenos on top, if using. Place the remaining rice-and-salsa mixture on top and smooth out. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. This dish makes 4 servings.

P.S. Okay, I’ll confess now…. I secretly call this dish Mexican dog food because while it’s delicious it never looks too pretty on the plate. So go ahead, fill up your plate, add some natchos, bark at the neighbours and eat up!

 

Baked curried tofu with creamy coconut rice

curriedtofu.jpgI absolutely love marinated and baked tofu. Depending on the marinade and how thinly or thickly you slice the tofu, you can create a range of flavours and textures.

The dish is easy to make though you need to allow time for the tofu to marinate.

The rice is a tasty side that comes together effortlessly. The sauce is my vegan riff on a traditional Indian raita – a cooling yogurt-based sauce that accompanies spicy dishes.

Make the tofu

Ingredients

14 oz block extra firm tofu

2 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp water

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp tumeric powder

½ tsp onion powder

2 cloves garlic minced

Directions

To make the tofu, cut the block into 8 equal slices. Place on a clean, lint-free towel and cover with another towel and press to squeeze out the liquid. Use the whole flat of your hand and press evenly.

Mix all the other ingredients together and spoon a small amount into the bottom of a shallow dish. Place the tofu in the dish. It’s okay if the tofu is stacked in 2 layers Spoon the marinade over the tofu and allow it to marinate in the fridge 1 to 4 hours

When the tofu has marinated, place it on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Spoon any remaining marinade over the tofu Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.

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Make the rice

Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup water

3 cardamon pods (or about ½ tsp ground cardamon)

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp garam masala

½ tsp tumeric powder

1 chili sliced (optional)

½ cup peas

Shelled pistachios for garnish (optional)

Directions

Add everything but the pistachios and peas to a pot and stir together. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook covered for about 15 minutes. Stir in the peas. Top with pistachios if using.

Make the raita

Ingredients

½ cup unsweetened soy-, nut- or coconut-milk yogurt (not coconut-flavoured yogurt but yogurt that is made from coconut milk)

½ tsp coriander

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

½ cup diced cucumber

1 shallot diced finely

Directions

Mix everything together and serve with the tofu and rice.

I enjoyed this meal with a beet and mandarin orange salad on the side.

Oat groats and blueberries

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Nope, this isn’t oatmeal. These are groats – the whole oat before it’s been processed in any way other than having the inedible husk removed. Groats are loaded with insoluble fibre – the kind that’s great for lowering cholesterol.

Groats do take longer to cook than even steel cut oats, but you never end up with mush. Instead the groats are chewy and nutty.

You can find groats at your health food store (or probably a farm feed shop, but I don’t recommend that unless you want a 50 pound bag).

I make a few variations of my groats. This one is a mix of spices, nuts, applesauce and blueberries for a delicious, satisfying breakfast that will take you right through to lunch time.

You can make these groats on the stovetop or in a slow cooker overnight for a “wake up to a hot breakfast already made” day.

Ingredients

1 cup groats

2 ½ cups water

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp cardamom

1 tsp vanilla

A pinch of ground cloves

2 Tbsp maple syrup (or more if you like it sweeter– my groats are not sweet at all)

2 Tbsp pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)

2 Tbsp walnuts

2/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce

½ cup blueberries (I use frozen wild blueberries).

Directions

In a small, covered pot, combine the groats, water, vanilla and spices. Bring to a boil then simmer covered for 40 minutes.

Alternately, you can put everything in a small crockpot/slow cooker and cook on low for 7 hours.

At 40 minutes you should have cooked groats with a bit of liquid left. Stir in the remaining ingredients and serve.

This dish makes 3 servings and can be served hot or cold. You can store the groats in a covered dish for up to 3 days in the fridge.

Fettuccini Alfredo – the best vegan recipe of all time

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Okay. Ready? This is it. The best vegan recipe ever. Ever.

It’s easy, simple, fast, no-fail and delicious. Luckily for me it was also one of the first vegan recipes I ever tried and still my favourite.

Make this dish and thank me later for spreading the joy.

The recipe comes from Deborah Gleason, Esther the Wonder Pig’s first chef.

Ingredients

12 to 16 oz pasta – I use spaghettini because it cooks in six minutes. If you use less pasta, you have a saucier dish, which suits me just fine.

2-3 cloves garlic

½ cup raw cashew pieces

3-4 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 ½ to 2 tsp sea salt (I use 2 teaspoons because I don’t salt my pasta water)

A few grinds pepper

387ml can coconut milk

Directions

This recipe takes as long to make as it takes to cook your pasta. Seriously. That’s what? 10 minutes max., right?

Cook your pasta according to the package directions. Drain and put in a large serving bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, put all your other ingredients in a blender. Blend until you have a creamy sauce. Pour over the hot pasta, toss to combine and serve. That’s it.

Taste and swoon.

I love this dish served with broccoli and green peas on the side or stirred right in.

Spread it on thick! A creamy, herbed cheese

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Growing up, my nickname was Mäuschen or Little Mouse because I loved cheese so much. So could I have just one go-to vegan cheese recipe? No way! I have several. Here’s another.

This creamy, spreadable cheese is flavoured with herbs and is wonderful on crackers or as shown here on toasted bread with a topping of braised onions and apples.

Ingredients for the cheese

1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2-4 hours

2 Tbsp hemp seeds

½ cup water

½ tsp miso paste

1 Tbsp lemon juice (about ¼ of a lemon)

½ to ¾ tsp sea salt

¾ tsp dried minced onions (you can substitute 1 Tbsp fresh, minced chives if you have them)

½ tsp garlic powder

1 -2 tsp fresh dill finely chopped

1-2 tsp fresh, chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

Add the cashews, hemp seeds, water, miso, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder and minced onion (do not add fresh chives if you’re using these!) to a blender and process until very smooth. Have patience and persistence – the smoother the better.

Add the fresh dill and any other fresh herbs you’re using and stir to combine

Store the cheese in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Let it sit for a few hours before serving to let the flavours blend. This cheese will keep for a few days in the fridge.

You can find two more vegan cheese recipes – for a ricotta and a mozzarella-style cheese in my easy 3-cheesey lasagna recipe.

To make the braised onion and apples

1 onion sliced

1 ½ apples cored and diced – do not peel. You can use any kind of apple, but I would go for a less expensive variety for this dish.

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions

Heat the olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan or other wide-bottomed sauce pan. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften – about 5 minutes. Add the apple and maple syrup and continue to sauté on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. The onions will become golden and the apples will be soft but still in pieces – you don’t want to make an apple sauce!

Serve on top of the spreadable cream cheese or you can even mix it into the cheese and then spread on bread or crackers.