Savoury, flavour-y, classic chili – with a cocoa twist

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As I said in my previous post, I’ve recently discovered TVP (textured vegetable protein) and now soy curls (more on those to come!) and I’m intrigued by these inexpensive, easy-to-use, versatile products.

I recently revamped an old recipe of mine to include a batch of my soyrizo, and the transformation was fabulous.

Do not be daunted by the seemingly long list of ingredients in this recipe; most of them are spices that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Cocoa is the magic ingredient here. It gives depth and richness to the chili and I swear by it!

Ingredients

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 onion diced

1-2 cloves garlic minced

1 red or green pepper diced

1 rib celery diced

1 cup mushrooms sliced

1 15 oz can (400ml or 1 ½ cups) mixed beans or kidney beans drained and rinsed

2 Tbsp red lentils (optional)

1 batch of soyrizo

14 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes diced)

½ cup bottled salsa (any heat level you like)

1 cup fresh, canned or frozen corn (optional- but so yummy and pretty in the chili)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried oregano

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 Tbsp chili powder

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Directions

Measure out all the herbs, spices and seasonings into a small bowl or mug. I like to have these prepared so I can toss them into the pot all at once.

Heat the oil in a large pot. Sauté the onion, garlic, peppers and celery until onion is starting to wilt. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add all the spices, herbs and seasonings and stir into the vegetables. Let the seasonings heat through, then add all the other ingredients except the corn.

Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the contents for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the corn and simmer for another 5 minutes.

You can serve immediately, but I find that this chili is even better the next day. It’ll last 3-4 days in the fridge and freezes well.

This chili is loaded with vitamins C and K, many B vitamins, potassium, fibre, protein and iron. What’s missing? Fat, calories and cholesterol.

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Curried rice and lentil salad with grapes and celery

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If the Waldorf-Astoria merged with the Best Marigold Hotel, this would be the new hotel’s signature dish. This salad, which eats as a meal, combines flavourful Indian spices, the crunch of celery, the sweetness of grapes and the staying power of lentils and rice. It’s also an easy dish to make that will last for 3-4 days in the fridge and travels well, which makes it great for toting for lunches, picnics or pot lucks.

Ingredients

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The salad

2 ½ cups cooked brown rice (that’s about 1 cup uncooked)

1 cup of cooked du Puy or beluga (a/k/a black) lentils (about ½ cup uncooked)

2 green onions sliced

2 stalks of celery sliced

1 ½ cups red grapes cut in half

¼ cup slivered almonds toasted*

The dressing

The juice of 1 lemon

4 Tbsp canola or peanut oil**

1 Tbsp curry powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp turmeric

3 – 4 cloves garlic minced

¾ tsp ground ginger

¾ tsp salt

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Directions

Place all the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a cup or small bowl, whisk all the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss everything thoroughly to combine. I like this salad after it’s had time to sit and the flavours can marry. I usually make it in the morning for lunch.

Serve up and enjoy!  This makes 3-4 servings.

*To toast the almonds, place them on a small cookie sheet or other heat-proof dish (I used a miniature casserole dish). Place the almonds in the oven (To save power, I use my toaster oven.) at 400F for 3-4 minutes. Seriously keep your eye on them! They can burn in a flash. Remove the almonds from the oven as soon as they are toasted or they’ll keep cooking.

**Use an oil that is flavourless and will not go solid (like virgin coconut oil does). I tried this salad with melted coconut oil once and the minute the oil got cold, I was left with unappetizing mini-chunks of “oil” throughout the salad.

Smoky, vegan pea soup

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There’s something very homey and comforting about a bowl of pea soup on a cold winter day. I remember my mother making pea soup that started with the leftovers of a ham – leg bone and all – simmering in a pot and imparting its rich, smoky flavour.

But today we have liquid smoke and smoked paprika to the rescue. Pigs and vegans rejoice!

This recipe is fast, easy and will last for 3-4 days in your fridge. In fact, it’s even better the next day.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

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2 Tbsps. oil

1 medium onion diced

2 medium carrots cut into quarter moons or diced

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup yellow split peas

1– 3 Tbsps. red lentils (the more you add the thicker your soup will be).

½ tsp salt or to taste

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp liquid smoke

 

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The more red lentils you add, the thicker your soup will be. I used 2 tablespoons of red lentils and can stand a spoon up in the soup when it’s cold.

Directions

In a medium-sized pot, sauté the onions and carrots in the olive oil until the onions are translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for one hour until the split peas are tender.

Optional – I like to use a hand blender and give the soup a brief whiz just to make it creamier while still retaining its chunkiness.

Enjoy!

p.s. This soup is wonderful with some crispy fried Sham.

 

A savoury bread pudding – a luscious side or a decadent dinner

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Even in my meat-eating days, my favourite part of a holiday dinner was the stuffing. Just smelling sage and rosemary still takes my mind back to childhood holidays.

Since I wasn’t having any sort of dinner gathering this holiday, I decided to have just stuffing as dinner. With just a few tweaks to my mother’s original recipe, I created this dish which is crunchy, savoury, and full of contrasting textures thanks to the chestnuts, lentils and toasty bread. It can still be served as a luscious side in lieu of potatoes or other starches, or it can be eaten as a main course in its own right with lots of colourful veggies.

The dish is easy and only takes two days to make. Kidding!!! You do need stale bread but if you don’t have two days to let your bread get stale, you can toast it.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients

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12-14 oz loaf of stale (or toasted) bread – white or whole grain – cut or torn into bite-sized pieces

3 stalks of celery sliced

1 onion diced

1 cup vegetable broth

100 grams roasted, chopped chestnuts (about 9-11 chestnuts)

½ cup chopped walnuts

¾ cup cooked lentils (about ½ a can if you’re using canned).

1/2 cup margarine

3 tsp poultry seasoning

2 tsp dried sage

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)

1 tsp salt

Pepper to taste (I use about ½ tsp)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a very large pot combine the margarine, onion and celery. Heat on a medium-high heat and sauté until the onion just starts to soften. Add the poultry seasoning, sage, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix to combine. Turn off the heat. Add the bread, chestnuts, walnuts and lentils and mix with the margarine-onion-herb mixture to coat all the bread. Pour in the broth and stir again to moisten the bread (the bread will not be wetted through).

Spoon this mixture into a 9”x9” baking pan and pat it down so it’s compressed and firm.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, depending on your oven. You want some crunchy crust to form on the top.

Serve immediately with colourful veggies and vegan gravy.

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This savoury bread pudding will keep covered in the fridge for 3 days.

Dragon Lady Lentil Balls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

sweetandsourmeatballDo you remember my Iron Lady Lentil Burgers? These Dragon Lady Lentil Balls are a riff on that recipe with the addition of an amazingly zesty and easy-to-make sweet and sour sauce. Serve with brown rice and sautéed veggies and you’ve got an easy, inexpensive*, delicious, nutritious**, vegan meal!

You will need a food processor for this recipe.

Ingredients 

1 cup of uncooked lentils. I used Du Puys lentils because they cook in just 15 minutes

1 ½ Tbsp prepared yellow mustard

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/4 tsp curry powder

1 carrot – cleaned and cut into rough chunks

1/3 cup raisins (any type)

½ cup walnut pieces

2/3 cup rolled oats

1 cup fresh spinach leaves

1 tsp salt

A few grinds of black pepper

1-2 Tbsp water

Directions

Cook the lentils according to package directions – typically 2 cups of water for 1 cup of dry lentils.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

Put all the burger ingredients in a food processor and process until you have a very smooth, moist mixture.

Shape the lentil mixture into evenly sized meatballs. I made 15 meatballs of about 2 tablespoons each but you can make bigger or smaller balls. Place the balls on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for 7 minutes then flip the balls and bake another 5-10 minutes (depending on your oven). The meatballs will have a bit of crunch on the outside but should be moist inside.

I found a simple sweet and sour recipe here and adjusted it slightly. Here is the recipe with my alteration.

Ingredients

2 teaspoon cornstarch

½ cup water

3 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 Tbsp red pepper jelly (or similar style – I used an apricot and jalapeno jelly)

Meatballs2.jpgDirections

Whisk the cornstarch and 1 Tbsp water in a small bowl or cup. Set aside.

Mix all the other ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat to just before the boiling point (you do not want this mixture bubbling up, but do want everything well blended and hot.

Give the cornstarch mixture another stir and pour into the saucepan contents. Stir to combine for about 15 seconds. Let the sauce sit and thicken for about 10 minutes before serving.

Serve up and enjoy. Rawr!!!

*Inexpensive – these lentil balls are made almost entirely from pantry staples that cost just pennies.

**Nutritious – these meatballs are loaded with protein iron, fibre, B6, magnesium,

Linguini with lentils and fresh vegetables in a creamy lemon-garlic sauce

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Ahhhh… I’ve been on a bit of vacation and it was so nice to get back into the kitchen and creating. This recipe for linguini with a creamy lemon-garlic sauce is fast, easy, fresh and tangy. Use whatever blend of veggies you like. I used what arrived in my weekly organic farm box, but broccoli, zucchini, chard, corn kernels, even water chestnuts, would all make excellent additions or substitutions.

Next post, I’ll include a variation of this recipe that leaves out the almond butter. It’s ideal for people who have nut allergies but still want the zing of lemon-garlic dressing.

Ingredients

10 oz uncooked linguini

½ cup uncooked black (a/k/a beluga) lentils

1 red pepper diced

2 cups snow peas cleaned and cut in half

½ cup slivered almonds toasted (optional)

For the sauce

Juice of 1 lemon (about ¼ cup)

2 Tbsp almond butter

3 cloves garlic – minced

2 Tbsp olive oil or other light-tasting oil

1 Tbsp soya sauce

1 tsp sea salt (or to taste)

1 tsp hot chili paste (I use sambal oelek)

Directions

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl.

Place the lentils in a small pot with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes until the lentils are cooked and the water is absorbed. When cooked, add to the bowl with the pasta. Add the snow peas and red pepper and any other vegetables you’re using.

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small glass or bowl and mix well. Pour over the pasta, lentils and vegetables and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the toasted almonds if using.

Serve up and enjoy. This dish makes 3-4 large servings and is equally delicious hot, cold or at room temperatures. Do store it in the fridge though!

Red lentil dal – dishing up some red hot love

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I love Indian food, and lucky me, I got to spend a month in the south of India partaking of some of the best Indian meals any person has ever enjoyed.

This recipe for red lentil dal is highly westernized but no less flavourful and nourishing than the more exotic originals. What it is though, is faster to make using ingredients that are readily available in North America and Europe. Don’t let the long list of ingredients deter you – it’s mostly spices you likely already have in your cupboard.

Ingredients

2 cups red lentils

1 Tbsp coconut oil (or olive oil)

1 large onion diced

2 Tbsp curry paste (I use Thai Kitchen brand)

1 heaping Tbsp curry powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

3-4 cloves garlic minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sambal oelek (chili paste)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

397 ml can tomato paste (13.5 oz)

1 cup chopped spinach (optional)

2 tomatoes diced

Directions

Cook the lentils. You need 4 cups of liquid. I use a mix of vegetable broth and water. You can use just water or all vegetable broth. Bring the lentils and liquid to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and simmer covered. The lentils will only take about 15 minutes to cook. There may be a tiny amount of liquid in the pot and that’s okay. Set aside.

In a large pot, melt the coconut oil. Add the diced onion and cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are golden.

Add all the spices and seasonings: curry paste, curry powder, cumin, tumeric, chili powder, sambal oelek, garlic, sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves and ginger and heat through combining with the onion. Add the chopped tomato and combine. Add the tomato paste and spinach and combine. Last, add in the cooked lentils and mix everything together.

Serve with basmati rice, samosas and chapati bread. Mmmmm.