recipes from the table of the vegan vulcan

Monday, April 10, 2006

help me come up with a good name for this casserole

I'm such a sucker for a good casserole. I love the melding of flavors, textures, etc. This one is an original creation, combining some of my favorite things: creamy polenta, toothsome red lentils, and garlicky, chewey kale.

Nameless Awesome Casserole

1 c. dry of whole grain polenta
1/2 c. dry red lentils
2 c. water or veggie broth
1 large bunch of kale, devained and chopped
olive oil
1 c. of your favorite tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375.

Cook polenta as to package instructions (I like Bob's Red Mill Corn Grits), salted to taste w/ two tablespoons of olive oil stirred in. Cook the lentils in two cups of water or veggie broth at the same time, until soft. Mix in the tomato sauce and set both the polenta and lentils aside.

While cooking the lentils and polenta, chop, devein, and saute the kale as per the instructions for my garlicy kale sautee. Mix the kale into the lentils.

Spray a 9x9 baking dish w/canola spray, and also spray a flexible spatula. Spoon half the polenta in the bottom of the dish, and spread with the prepared spatula. Then, pour in the lentil/kale mixture. Spoon on the last of the polenta as evenly as possible. Brush on some olive oil over the top w/a silicone brush.

Bake for 25 minutes, or until the top of the casserole is a golden brown. Let stand 15 minutes before slicing, or (1)it will not set up, and will be mushy, and (2)you will burn your mouth!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

garlicky kale sautee

Kale is so good. And good for you, as I learned over at the Vegan Lunchbox (kale helps prevent macular degeneration, apparently!).

We eat it usually once a week, in various ways. I'm working on a recipe for polenta/kale/lentil casserole, but it's not quite up to perfect yet. Hopefully soon!

Garlicky Kale Sautee

1 bunch organic kale (I like the flatter-leaf kind)
3 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash and dry the kale. Chop into bite-sized pieces.

Heat oil over medium heat. Toss in garlic and onions, sautee until the onions are translucent and the garlic smells awesome (I'm not sure what the technical term for "awesome" is, but whatever). Add kale, stirring gently to coat the kale in the garlic, onions, and oil. Salt the kale lightly, as it will help it to break down more quickly.

When the kale turns bright green and is just barely soft (a minute or two, no more), sprinkle on the cinnamon and black pepper. Cook kale until desired done-ness. I like my kale still firm and somewhat crunchy-- a few minutes (no more than a few minutes after adding cinnamon). Some folks like their greens done well, so cook to taste. Add more salt, if desired.

I have put this kale into casseroles and enchiladas, and I've also just eaten it as a side veggie. It's awesome any way you serve it. Eat your greens-- give kale some love!

Monday, March 20, 2006

vegan enchiladas

These are easy and good as all get-out.

Vegan Enchiladas

2 tbs. olive oil
1 red onion, roughly chopped
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
2 jalepenos, minced-- one with seeds, one without seeds (use gloves)
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 can low-sodium black beans, drained
5 whole-wheat tortillas
ground cumin to taste (I use a few teaspoons, but I like it cuminy)
soy sour cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil. Sautee the onions until translucent, 3 or 4 minutes. Add the green peppers, garlic, and jalepenos. Sprinkle on some salt, if desired. When vegetables are nearly done, add tomatoes and cook until soft. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mash the black beans (I used a potato masher, but you could use a fork). Mix in the vegetables, and stir until combined. The beans will loosen with the moisture from the vegetables, and take on a creamy texture.

Steam the tortillas (I put them in my microwave with a damp paper towel. Gently spoon in the filling, careful not to put in too much. Roll like a burrito, and place in a glass baking pan sprayed with canola spray. Roll all the enchiladas, place in the pan, and put them in the oven. Bake until the tops are crispy and they smell good.

I don't know if they really qualify as enchiladas, but that's the closest approximation of what they are, I suppose. I had mine with soy sour cream and salsa, but my fiancee put some unfortunate-looking grated soy cheese on his. I'm not a big fan of soy cheese, though, so I'm biased.

summer succotash

The farmer's market is back up and running, so I picked up six ears of sweet corn. Three ears were cooked and put into sushi, the other half were saved for this dish.

Summer Succotash
3 ears fresh sweet corn
1 lb. limas (I used frozen because I couldn't find fresh)
2 tbs. minced red onion
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon or to taste fleur de sal/regular sea salt
large bowl filled with ice water

Heat a large pot of water to a rolling boil, then salt generously. Boil corn for 5 minutes, then remove with tongs and place in ice water bath. Cook limas in corn water unil tender, 12-15 minutes.

While the limas are cooking, carefully cut the corn from the cob (I stand my corn up on end, take my largest knife, and run it down the cob, careful not to sliec too deep, as you'll get chaff or whatever those little hard bits are) and place the corn in a medium bowl with the minced red onion.

Drain the limas when cooked, then place in the ice water bath. Cool them, then remove the ice and drain.

Mix the limas in with the corn and red onion. Drizzle olive oil over the top, and shake on fleur de sal to taste. Mix thoroughly, and serve.

Friday, March 17, 2006

mashed potatoes are awesome

Especially these. If you're looking to bring a kick-ass side dish to a family dinner or friendly get-together, these are really good. But make sure you get some on your plate if it's a communal gathering-- they are good enough that Murphy's Law of Veganism will most definately apply to them (you bring something vegan to a not-vegan event, but everyone eats your food because it's better than the omni crap).

Old-Fashioned Mashed Potatoes

4 large potatoes, cut into chunks with the skins left on
1/2 c. vegan sour cream (I used Tofutti brand)
4 tbs. Earth Balance or any vegan non-hydrogenated margerine
a nice handful of fresh chives, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cover your potatoes with water, salt the water, and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are soft. Drain, and mash with the margarine. Add sour cream and mash to desired consistancy (I like mine kind of chunky). Add in black pepper, and taste for seasonings. Add more sour cream and margerine, if you like. Stir in chives.

Not the most complicated thing, but damn good. I have plans in the future for baking a mess of russets, scooping them out, making this mixture, adding in some nutritional yeast, and turning them into twice-baked potatoes. Oh. Oh yeah.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

le bistro turkish

OK, I know the title of the post is kind of corny.

I ate this meal just about every day when I was in Turkey, and I loved it to death. Somehow, I did not get sick of it, and I still make it frequently.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

2 lg. cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 lg or 2 medium organic or home-grown tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
3 tbs. rice wine vinegar
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
sea salt
black pepper

Toss cukes, tomatoes, and parsley in a medium bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper. Pour over the vegetables and toss well. Add salt and pepper to taste (if you're going for authenticity, salt the beejeezus out of it). Allow the salad to sit for at least 15 minutes outside the fridge. The acid in the dressing will keep it safe.

Use tomatoes that taste like something for this dish-- avoid your typical supermarket variety. Also, don't put it in the fridge, because it will kill the taste of the tomatoes.

Mercemek Corba (Red Lentil Soup)

1 lg. onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 lg. carrot, diced
1 tb. tomato paste
3 tbs. flour
1 scant cup red lentils (red is important for texture)
4 c. vegetable stock or water
1 tb. salt
1/2 tb. Turkish red pepper or Italian spicy red pepper flakes
lemon wedges

In a large soup pot, sautee onions, celery, and carrot until onions are translucent. Plop in the tomato paste and stir until well distributed. Gradually add the flour, stirring constantly until cooked (you're making a roux). Whisk in the stock or water, and bring to a boil. Add the salt and the red lentils, and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer 25-30 minutes, or until lentils are soft, have turned yellow, and have broken down. Taste for seasoning. At this point, add the Turkish pepper.

Take the soup off the heat, and then either cool and puree small batches in a blender until smooth, or use an immersion blender (my favorite method, because you don't have to wait). Make sure the soup is smooth!

Serve with lemon wedges squeezed into it (I like mine lemony), cucumber and tomato salad, and crusty bread. For a truly authentic experience, also serve with strong, bitter tea with lots of sugar in it.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

luscious lentil sauce

When I lived in Turkey, I made this all the time on our dorm's hot plate with whatever vegetables I could get from our local market. This recipe is still my stand-by on nights when I don't feel like devoting a whole lot of brain power to dinner. And it's so simple, it makes me want dance around in my underpants.

Luscious Lentil Sauce

1 c. red lentils, rinsed
2 c. water or vegetable broth
4 garlic cloves, 3 smashed but intact, 1 minced
Salt to taste
Olive oil
1 large onion, half diced, and half skinned but kept intact
1 large zucchini, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 carrot, chopped
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 c. storebought tomato sauce (Newman's Own is a fave of ours)
Pul biber (Turkish pepper) if available, or Italian hot dried pepper (the kind you shake on pizza)

In a medium pot, boil the water or vegetable broth. If not using vegetable broth, salt the water lightly and pour in 2 tbs. olive oil. Pour in lentils, smashed garlic cloves, and intact half of the onion. Lower heat, and gently simmer until lentils are soft, grainy, and a yellow color (20 or 30 minutes). Add turkish pepper or Italian hot pepper. Remove the garlic and onion, and taste for seasoning. Set aside.

While lentils are simmering, heat 1 tbs. olive oil in a small nonstick pan. Sautee the onions, carrots, and peppers until carrots are just tender. Add zucchini and garlic. Cook 3 minutes. Add chopped tomatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender.

Add vegetables and tomato sauce to lentils. Stir to combine, and cook over low heat until hot.

Serve over pasta, or with crusty bread. Top with parsley, lemon juice, and a dollop of vegan sour cream.

A few notes: I've included my favorite vegetables, but one of the great things about this dish is you can throw in any old vegetables you have lying around and it will still be amazing.

Use eiither the reccomended red lentils or subsitute yellow split peas. Regular lentils (french, green, etc.) will not break down in the neccesary way.

The suggestion to serve with tofutti sour cream may sound unusual, but it's delicious. It adds a coolness and creamyness to the spicy lentils. The idea came from my Turkish roommate who ate yogurt on everything. . . and so did I while I lived there. But this is the vastly-improved, cruelty-free version.