Falafel Arepas

Arepas take two. I’ve been experimenting with this yummy Venezuelan staple food for a while. After a few initial failed attempts, I finally have them down pat. You HAVE TO use pre-cooked white cornmeal (I used the wrong kind of corn flour in an earlier post.) There are several brands of arepa flour out there, but the most common one I’ve seen around is Harina PAN. It can probably be found in the ethnic food section in the grocery store. They’re super easy to make and go well with anything, and can be used in place of pita (if gluten-free is your thing.) I decided to fill them with falafel to make a savory East-meets-West kind of pocket with a Latin twist. Topped with a creamy cashew nut sauce, these little guys were really flavorful!

Baked falafel balls (makes about 9 balls)

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained (about 1 can)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375º. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until a thick paste is formed. Roll into 1-inch balls and put onto an oiled baking dish, slightly flattening them. Cook for 30 minutes, turning them over halfway through. They should be crispy and browned.

Arepa pockets (makes about 6)

  • 1 cup Harina PAN flour
  • 1 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Mix the flour with your hands until all the water is absorbed. Roll into 2-inch balls and flatten between your palms. Grill until golden brown on both sides (I use a George Foreman grill for convenience.) Allow to cool, then cut a slit halfway through to make a pocket.

Cashew cream sauce (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • 3 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt, black pepper, paprika, and a pinch of nutmeg

Process everything up until smooth.

Serve with sliced red cabbage and chopped tomato.

¡Buen Provecho!

“Chicken” Guacamole Chard Wraps

I don’t usually cook with fake meat substitutes a lot but on one of my recent Chinatown dim sum lunch trips (at my favorite vegan kosher dim sum place!) I discovered this vegetarian market with tons of weird products that I’m just too curious to ignore. So my first purchase was some “chicken legs,” which I marinated and baked. But if you don’t have a Chinese vegetarian market near you, this would also work with seitan or tempeh.

“Chicken” Guacamole Chard Wraps (makes about 6 wraps servings)

For the guacamole:

  • 1 small hass avocado
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 plum tomato, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything up until you reach the right consistency

For the marinade, you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/8 tsp anise seed
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper

Brush the marinade on your “chicken” and bake or brown in a saucepan until crispy. Cut the tough spines out of your chard leaves, add a dollop of guacamole and some chicken strips, roll it up, and pierce with a skewer or toothpick. Hooray for finger food!

Dilled Spaghetti Alfredo

A spontaneous weeknight dish that was super satisfying and comforting. We wanted spaghetti but were at a loss for what kind of sauce to use. But thanks to the versatility of nuts, voila a delicious creamy sauce with a little herby kick!  And everyone knows about the powers of quinoa. I always opt for quinoa noodles if I have the chance, for all the added nutritional benefits.  The ingredient list is a little long, but most was all stuff I had lying around in my cupboards and which every vegetarian probably has on hand.

Vegan Dilled Spaghetti Alfredo (makes about 4 servings)

For the sauce (makes about 3 cups):

  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp tamari soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt, black pepper, paprika, and a pinch of nutmeg

Process everything up until creamy.

For the pasta, you’ll need:

  • 4 oz of quinoa spaghetti
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  • tempeh crumbles (I know I use these in like every recipe but they’re so good!)
  • 2 plum tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup of daiya mozzarella cheese
  • olive oil
  • a splash of white wine (for deglazing)
Start by cooking the onions in some olive oil over medium heat until they start to get soft and translucent. Add the green pepper and cook another 5 minutes. Add a splash of wine to deglaze and let it cook uncovered another 2 minutes. Add the onions and peppers to the tempeh crumbles and cook another minute. Toss all the remaining ingredients together with the spaghetti and about 1/2 of the sauce (more if you like it saucier!) Warm over low heat until the cheese melts. Sprinkle some sauce on top and serve!

Chickpea Herbed Patties

My first attempt at making my own veggie patty! I rarely ever buy vegan burgers because I just can’t find one that isn’t crazy expensive, full of sodium, and that I like enough to spend $6 a box on! These are super hearty and filling so I recommend having them on a lettuce leaf or another type of green instead of bread.

Makes about 6 patties

  • 1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas (I pressure cook mine but canned is fine also, just don’t use as much salt)
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 3 small carrots, shredded
  • 5 small white potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped dill
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • paprika, red pepper, and sea salt to taste
  • 5-6 leaves of kale, chard, or any kind of lettuce you can wrap around the patty
Preheat your oven to 400°. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes until they’re just starting to get tender. While that’s cooking, start cooking the leeks in a pan with some olive oil over medium-low heat until they start to become translucent, but not browned. When your potatoes are done and have cooled a bit, shred them into a mixing bowl, and add all the remaining ingredients. Toss everything together and form the mixture into 1/2 inch thick patties. Cook them over medium heat in a non-stick skillet until they are browned on both sides. Finally, put the patties in the oven for about 10 minutes until they become crispier and more firm. Wrap some greens around them and enjoy!

The $5 Challenge Dinner

I decided to take the $5 Slow Food Challenge and cook an easy, healthy, vegan, and most importantly, CHEAP meal for a few friends this weekend. This is a recipe from a previous post, Mexican Pizza but with black beans this time, and some leftover corn on the side. I chose it because it was the cheapest thing I could think of to make from scratch without having to buy too many ingredients, and everyone loves pizza (duh.) Plus, it went perfectly with my new Mexican tablecloth that I just got while on vacation last week!

The goal was to spend less than $25 to feed five people, and I was actually under budget if I don’t count the spices and olive oil that were already in the cupboard. The flour, cornmeal, and yeast were bought in bulk from the Bushwick Food Coop, which is why they’re so cheap. It pays to join a local coop!

I froze the bananas and put them through my champion juicer on the homogenizer setting to make a custard for dessert. I know not everyone has a juicer, but you could also just use a food processor or blender to make a creamier pudding.

Here’s a recap of what I spent, including for dessert:

  • 3 bananas – $0.93
  • 2 green peppers – $1.91
  • 1 bunch of cilantro $1.79
  • 1 avocados – $2.00
  • 1 bag black beans dry – $1.29
  • 1 tomato – $0.88
  • 1 bag yellow onions – $1.99
  • 4 ears corn – $2.67
  • 1 block tempeh $2.00
  • 1 cup cornmeal  – $0.36
  • 3 cups whole wheat flour – $0.68
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast – $0.12
  • 1 can tomato paste – $1.29
  • 1 bag daiya cheddar cheese shreds – $4.49

And my total was just $22.40 (plus pizza leftovers for breakfast and lunch yesterday!) I did my best to use organic, local stuff, but I don’t get my CSA share until Wednesday so I went to my local grocery store for the veggies. Surprisingly, they had a small selection of local vegetables.

So all and all, success. And Paul got to toss the pizza dough.

Look how happy everyone is to eat a $5 vegan dinner. Take that, value meals!

Red bean and Tempeh Sausage Mexican Pizza

Hurricane pizza! I’ve been stuck inside all weekend because of hurricane “Irene.” Luckily we didn’t really feel any bad effects and just got to spend a weekend at home cooking and veggin out (sorry for the bad pun.) Since there was no going out to the grocery store to buy a pre-made crust, this one is made from scratch but was surprisingly easy, and cheaper.

And I had a few visitors surprise me as I was peeling the husks off the corn: caterpillars! That’s what you get from fresh local corn without pesticides. Good thing I ate the corn right away or they would have eaten all my kernels! But those sneaky guys left plenty for us.

I used red beans for the base because I just happened to have a batch in the fridge that I made a few days ago in the pressure cooker (see my recipe here.) But you could just as well use black or pinto beans.

The tempeh sausage is from a recipe I really like and use a lot from the Post Punk Kitchen. You can use them in a lot of different ways and add or leave out any spices you want.

Serves about 3, or 7-8 slices

Cornmeal pizza dough (adapted from this recipe, without the sugar)

  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating bowl
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups unbleached whole wheat flour plus more, if necessary
  • 1 cup cornmeal, plus more for dusting pan
In a large mixing bowl combine yeast with water and whisk. Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the salt, olive oil, and half of the flour and mix well. Add the 1 cup of cornmeal and all remaining flour except 1/2 cup and mix well with your hands, working to incorporate the flour little by little. Transfer the dough over to a floured work surface and knead dough for about 5 minutes, adding enough additional flour if needed until the dough is elastic and not too sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, usually at least 2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, divide it into 2 portions (for 2 (12 to 14-inch) pizzas) and form into balls. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes, then transfer to a lightly floured surface, and roll out to a 1/8-inch thickness. If you save the dough, just keep it covered with a towel in the fridge. If it’s too dry or hard when you take it out, just add some water and knead it until it’s the right consistency.

For the toppings

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 small green bell peppers
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of tempeh sausage crumbles
  • 1 1/2 cups of red beans
  • 3 ears of corn, husks removed and dropped in boiling water for about 4 minutes, and kernels removed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup daiya pepperjack cheese
  • olive oil
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
Preheat the oven to 450º. Cook the onions slowly in the olive oil with a little salt on the stove over medium-low heat for about 7-10 minutes so they begin to get soft and slightly caramelized. Add the green peppers and cook for another 4 minutes, stirring often.
Now you’re ready to assemble the pizza! Add layer of beans, followed by the tempeh, onions and peppers, corn, tomatoes, and cheese. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and put in the oven for about 12 minutes or until the crust is golden around the edges. Garnish with cilantro.

Grilled Zucchini, Chioggia Beet and Daiya Pesto Quesadillas

I still can’t get over the fact that I finally found a vegan cheese that I like and that actually melts and is creamy, so naturally I’ve been putting Daiya on everything! And basil galore from the CSA means lots of pesto lately. Put those two things together in between some corn tortillas with some yummy end of summer veggies and you have a super easy weeknight meal, which is even easier if you have a sandwich press or george foreman grill. I have never had one of these but I just moved in with my boyfriend, who has one and it’s so great! It sounds kind of lazy to cook veggies on it but it grilled the zucchini perfectly (works well with eggplant too.) Plus you get those pretty grill marks without having to have a fancy backyard with a grill!

Here’s what I used. This makes about 5/6 quesadillas (I used the Ezekiel Sprouted Corn tortillas which are kind of small though so maybe less if you use bigger ones.)

  • 1 large zucchini, cut into thin 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 medium chioggia beet, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • Daiya cheese (I used the mozzarella one)
  • corn tortillas
  • splash of lemon juice
  • pesto (see my recipe here)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put the beets in a pot with enough water to cover them and a splash of lemon juice and bring the water to a boil. Bring heat to medium and allow the beets to simmer for about 25 minutes until they’re tender and you can poke them with a fork. Run under some cold water and let them cool off.

While the beets are cooking, combine about 1 tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Brush both sides of the zucchini slices and put on the grill, turning over once, until they have nice grill marks and are kinda soggy (about 3-4 minutes per side.)

Spread some pesto on a tortilla and layer zucchini, beets and cheese. Fold the quesadilla in half and put it on the grill until the cheese is melted and the tortilla is crispy.

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