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!

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“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!

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!

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.

Hummus Arepas

I’ve been thinking about making arepas for a while. One of my fave restaurants in New York is Caracas Arepa bar, and every time I go there, I think, “This can’t be so hard to make!” And living in Bushwick, there’s no lack of corn flour in the bodegas around here. So I bought a bag and decided to finally give it a go. Despite a couple speed bumps along the way, they’re pretty simple to make and turned out better than expected for my first try. And so cheap! A 4.5 pound bag of masa corn flour only costs $2.99. I used good old hummus for the filling, my go-to staple food whenever I’m running low on funds and need something nutritious and filling for the week. To top it off I added some spinach and tomatoes from my favorite veggie market in the neighborhood, Angel’s Fruit Market on Knickerbocker and Willoughby. They have the best and cheapest produce I’ve found so far. So overall, pretty cheap meal!

For the hummus:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (I used dry beans, soaked overnight and boiled for about 30min)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup warm water (or cooking water from chickpeas if you still have it lying around)

Process everything up and set aside.

For the arepas, I used this recipe for the dough and used this corn masa mix.

What I found was that I should have flattened the balls out more than the recipe called for because I had to cook them in the oven for twice as long and then eventually I realized they weren’t cooking on the inside and had to cut them in half and leave them in the oven another 15 minutes.

Finally, spread some hummus on each side of the arepa, add some fresh spinach and sliced tomoatoes, and eat like a sandwich.

In the end they turned out delicious. I’m even thinking of having a plain one tomorrow with some vegan butter for breakfast!

Yam Sandwiches

I just got over the most horrible flu, so I haven’t felt like making anything too complicated the past couple of days. Sandwiches are always my fallback dinner option when I’m lazy, but I always get into a rut of using the same ingredients. Today, the yams were calling out to me at the vegetable market. This is hands down my new favorite sandwich, it’s amazing! And good comfort food.

  • 1 small yam, thinly sliced
  • a handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 small plum tomato, sliced
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped white mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 tsp siracha chili garlic paste
  • whole wheat bread
  • vegenaise (I use the grapeseed oil kind, it’s so good I could eat it from the jar!)
  • sea salt

-cook yams in olive oil on low heat, turning over halfway through until they’re browned on both sides. At the very end, throw in the garlic and cook another minute

-while the yam is cooking, caramelize the onions  over med-low heat, covered, until they start to brown, stirring occasionally (about 5-7 minutes). Add red wine to deglaze the pan and cook 3 more minutes. Add mushrooms and chili paste and cook another 3-5 minutes until they’re soft

-spread some vegenaise on some bread and add the rest of the veggies however you want! Use the same pan as the yams, and grill the sandwiches on both sides until golden brown.

These ingredients were enough for two sandwiches, maybe more if you use a bigger yam. So yummy, I’m having one for lunch tomorrow too!