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.

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Creamy coconut rice with lentils and greens

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This is one of those oh-so-easy and fast, inexpensive, satisfying dishes that also has the “Wow!” factor to it. By “Wow!”  I mean a) you’re never going to find this pre-packaged in a bag on a store shelf, b) there’s a touch of the exotic and different, and c) your taste buds will be happy.

Ingredients

1 cup brown rice

1 (13 oz) can coconut milk

1 ½ tsp chili powder

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 tsp salt

¾ cup cooked brown lentils (about ½ can)

½ cup fresh or frozen and thawed green peas

1 – 1 ½  cup chopped leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard etc.)

¼ cup toasted cashews and/or unsweetened coconut (Optional but delicious and why deny yourself deliciousness when life is so short?) *

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Directions

Put the rice in a small pot. Add 1 cup water, 1 cup coconut milk (save the rest of the milk for later in the recipe), the chili powder, nutmeg and salt. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.  Don’t lift the lid on the pot. Just let the rice simmer. When the rice is cooked, add the rest of the coconut milk and stir together.

Mix the cooked and now creamy rice in a large bowl with the lentils, green peas and greens.

Serve immediately sprinkled with the toasted cashews and coconut.

Enjoy!

*To toast cashews and coconut, heat your oven (I use my toaster oven) to 425. Spread the cashews and coconut in an even layer on a baking sheet or even a piece of foil and toast for 4 minutes. Watch that the mix doesn’t burn, which can happen in a flash! Know thy oven and do NOT leave the kitchen while the nuts and coconut are toasting.

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,

Mushroom broccoli quiche with a brown rice crust

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This quiche is a tasty, low-calorie way to get the perfect balance of complex carbs, veggies and protein. It’s also extremely low fat yet filling. I love it with Franks hot sauce for breakfast.

If you’ve got leftover rice, here’s a great way to use it up. You’ll need 2 cups of cooked rice.

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked brown rice (or 2 cups cooked rice)

12 oz package medium-firm or firm, silken tofu

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp cornstarch or tapioca powder (I only had tapioca powder so that’s what I used)

1 Tbsp tahini

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp turmeric

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 Tbsp A-1 sauce

Freshly ground pepper to taste (I used about ¼ tsp)

1 bunch asparagus cut into 1” pieces or about 2 ½ cups broccoli florets (whichever is in season)

¼ cup shallots minced

1 clove garlic minced

1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms

1 red pepper diced

Olive oil or cooking spray

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Directions

Cook the brown rice in 2 cups of boiling water. The rice will take about 30 minutes to cook. You can cook the rice ahead of time. Allow it to cool slightly.

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 9-inch, round baking dish with the olive oil or other cooking spray.

Put the tofu, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard, tapioca powder or cornstarch, tahini, A1 sauce, onion powder, turmeric, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. You should have a thick, smooth pancake batter-like mix.

Mix about ¼ cup of this batter with the rice, then pat the rice into the greased round dish to form a crust. Bake the rice crust for 8-10 minutes and remove from the oven. Leave the oven on at 350F.

Sprinkle the shallots, broccoli or asparagus, red pepper and mushrooms over the rice crust. Pour the remaining tofu batter over top evenly and smooth out.

Bake for 60 minutes. Allow the quiche to cool for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Enjoy!

My recipe is an alteration of Susan Voisin’s original from her blog the Fat Free Vegan.

 

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 turmeric 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 turmeric 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.

Mushroom risotto – classic and comforting

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I used to make risotto all the time before I adopted a vegan diet. But I was very leery of how much I’d enjoy a vegan risotto. No butter? No cheese? Turns out it’s no problem. This version is flavourful, creamy and vegan. If you have 30 minutes you have time to make this dish and wow yourself and a friend.

Making risotto is a bit of an exercise in faith. You just have to believe it’s going to work because halfway through the process, the pan will look like a messy failure. But it always turns out.

This recipe makes 2 generous servings or 3 appetizer size servings.

Ingredients

1 cup Arborio rice (must be Arborio rice)

3 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp vegan margarine

1 shallot finely minced (or 1 clove garlic minced and ½ onion minced)

1/3 cup (or so) of dry white wine

3 cups of mushrooms – I used a mix of white and cremini) sliced

½ cup fresh or frozen peas. If using frozen, thaw the peas.

1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1 green onion or 6 chives chopped (optional)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 to 1 tsp ground black pepper

Truffle oil and chopped pecans for garnish (optional)

Directions

Heat the broth in a saucepan so it’s at a low simmer.

In a large frying pan or skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they release their liquid and are browned. Put the mushrooms in the pot of broth.

In the same pan you fried the mushrooms in,melt the vegan margarine. Add the shallot (or onion and garlic, if that’s what you’re using) and sauté until translucent.

Add the rice and stir until it’s coated with the margarine and shallots and turning a light golden colour.

Add the white wine and stir together.

Now the magic. This step will take about 20 minutes.

One ladle at a time (about ½ cup), add broth to the pan of rice. Try to just add broth and not the mushrooms.

Stir the rice until the broth is all absorbed by the rice. At first the rice will quickly absorb the broth and at the same time it will release its starch, creating a creamy base. As the rice cooks, the broth will absorb more and more slowly. Patience. Listen to music. Ladle. Stir. Ladle. Stir.

In about 20 minutes your rice will be done and all your broth should be used up. The rice will be al dente.

Add the mushrooms you reserved in the broth, the peas, the chives/green onion, pepper and nutritional yeast and stir together.

I garnished my risotto with truffle oil and some chopped pecans.

SUGGESTION: If you have never tried truffle oil, I highly recommend it for a touch of richness and decadence. Yes, the oil is pricey. BUT you can buy a very small bottle and it will last about 18 months, if you keep it at room temperature out of the light. Only a teaspoon on a dish like this will have you feeling like a gourmet chef!

Lemon-garlic soup with lentils and rice

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Are you feeling a little less than spectacular after a holiday season of indulgences? Here’s the perfect bowl to perk you up. The garlic, lemon, turmeric and parsley are all ready to give you a detox and boost your immune system. This is also a bright, refreshing soup full of great flavour and textures, and you can whip it up in just 30 minutes. Mmmmm.

Ingredients

4-6 cups vegetable broth

The juice from 2-3 lemons (about ½ cup juice)

1 tsp grated lemon rind

1 tsp turmeric

4-5 cloves garlic. Mince half the cloves and slice the other half.

1 bay leaf

1 piece star anise (optional, but I love the tang it gives)

¼ cup chopped fresh parsley (see TIP below)

1 cup cooked lentils. II used ½ cup dried beluga lentils (also called black lentils) because they taste great and cook in 15 minutes.

1 cup cooked brown rice (about ½ cup before it’s cooked)

2 carrots sliced

salt to taste (You probably will need none, but depends on your broth.)

Directions

Put all the ingredients except the rice, lentils and parsley in a pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for about 10 minutes so the carrots cook. Remove the bay leaf and the star anise. Add the lentils, rice and parsley. Heat through and serve. Enjoy!

TIP: You can freeze your fresh parsley to use in cooking. Make sure it’s clean and dry and place the whole bunch in a zippered freezer bag. When you need fresh parsley for a recipe, simply break off however much you need and crumble it into your dish. No chopping required. Frozen parsley will lose some of its brightness and firmness so I don’t recommend using frozen parsley for garnishes or in dishes such as tabouli.