Tag Archives: greens

Sunny Days in Texas: Nice Ass Greens

This is probably the most used recipe in my arsenal because it is simple, versatile, and dare I say, healthy. The Sunny Days zine isn’t just things like jalapeno popper dip and Oatmeal Cream Pies, you know. I like to have dark leafy greens whenever I can get my act together and this method is great because it works with any edible green you end up with. Since I first made it in 2008 I have probably used the basic method about a hundred times, changing the types of greens and vinegar and usually omitting raisins because I don’t always have them on hand. 

I love serving the greens with grits because the garlic and oil gets all saucy and mixes in and flavors the whole dish. It works especially well with southern style meals or Italian. And, when you cook down greens like this you can eat a lot more of them and maybe absorb all those vital nutrients. I love adding in vegan sausage to make the greens a full meal. Usually it ends up on the sweet end of the spectrum because we use Texas Sweet Onions and white balsamic vinegar but it can go the other direction too with yellow onions and red wine vinegar. You can even add olives instead of the raisins if you want a more savory salty dish, especially if you really like olives added to every single thing you make.

Since putting the recipe in the zine though I do want to clarify something. The recipe is “nice ass greens” as in “my word, these leafy green vegetables taste delightful” not that you will develop a nice ass just by eating them. That you can only get from your mamma or maybe doing lots of squats and lunges.
Every post this month for Veganmofo will be celebrating the recipes in the zine Sunny Days in Texas, a fundraiser cookzine to help Sunny Day Farms Animal Sanctuary.

Pumpkin Dumplins

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Sure New Years is a blast and we all love Casimir Pulaski Day day but Thanksgiving is the best. You don’t have to buy people presents or get dressed up or go “out”, you just stay in, feast, drink wine, and maybe watch a movie. I have spent so much time in the last week deciding what to make and really it is just silly. I can make those dishes any time if I want to, but I guess  it is different; Thanksgiving should be crammed in with as much good food as you can figure out how to fit on your table.

I saw this beautiful page of vegetarian recipes on the New York Times the other day and I knew I had to make the pumpkin dumplings. I am kind of a dumpling fanatic and I had never thought or heard of a pumpkin dumplin, but it makes so much sense! And if you drop the ‘g’ they even rhyme.  We did a couple of substitutions to the original recipe, regular flour instead of gluten-free, and ground flax instead of eggs and they worked beautifully and were very quick to make. The dumplings were very doughy and reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing; they were very similar in texture. We had the dumplings on top of Thanksgiving spiced rice (sage, celery, thyme, and onions) and it was a great little quick  precursor to the feast.

Tunisian Chickpeas

I tried this recipe for Tunisian chickpeas last night from Olive Trees and Honey but overall it was only OK. It used way too much cumin for my taste and a lot of garlic. I am going to share the basic idea because I thought it was interesting and with some work could be a great weeknight meal

First, you sauté a lot of garlic in olive oil and then add pieces of bread. The idea is to brown the bread and infuse it with the fried garlic and then throw it in the food processor and later add it to thicken the sauce. I think this is a brilliant idea and that was the most amazing part of the dish, everything was infused with garlic bread flavor! I need to start doing this in soups.

Actually first you are supposed to cook 2 cups of chickpeas but instead I used two cans and maybe that was my problem–not enough chickpeas– because then it called for 2 TBS of cumin, some sweet paprika, 2 small dried red chiles, and 20 peppercorns after autéing 2 onions in the same pan you used for the garlic. Then after cooking that a few minutes you add the chickpeas, a cup of water, and a bunch of kale (or chard or spinach).

When I make this again I am going to back off the cumin and add black olives and mushrooms. Mmm olives.

Vegan Arroz Verde

My general approach to working with non vegan recipes is this:

Step 1: Substitute animal products with vegan alternatives or omit

Step 2: Add kale or another leafy green.

The way I see it, you can never have too many leafy green vegetables in your life. In fact, when people ask me any sort of nutritional question my go to answer is, “I think Kale has a lot of _____”. In my mind vegetables make anything healthy and although it isn’t entirely true or even close to whole story it works for me. I love them.  I think this is the first time I added Kale to rice, though, and it worked amazingly!

This recipe is based on one I saw on Chow that was adapted from Diana Kennedy’s arroz verde from her book The Essential Cuisines of Mexico. Diana Kennedy is definitely one of my heros, if you are interested in cooking Mexican food or just knowing more about it I recommend all of her books. They have so much information and description of all of these techniques that most non-Mexicans know little about.

Vegan Arroz Verde

3 roasted hatch peppers, stems, seeds, and membranes removed, coarsely chopped (any other pepper, like poblanos or serranos will work some will be spicy and some won’t so choose accordingly)
2 green onions, coarsely chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves (about 1/2 bunch)
1 cup of coarsely chopped Kale (about 1/2 bunch)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons earth balance
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 cups vegetable broth
1 lime

INSTRUCTIONS

In a blender, pulse the peppers, scallions, kale, cilantro, and salt with the water

Heat oil and earth balance in your rice pot (ie one with a lid). When the earth balance starts to liquefy , add the rice. Sauté, stirring occasionally for ~ 3 minutes.

Add blended ingredients to the pan and mix well. Simmer for 1 minute, then stir in vegetable broth.

Return mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until liquid is completely absorbed and rice is tender, about 14 minutes.

Remove from heat and let rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and squeeze lime juice over rice. Fluff up and Enjoy!

We had the rice with the fabulous refried beans, avocado, and verde salsa. They were the best rice and beans tacos I can remember having! They would be perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Barbecued Soy Curls

I wish Wheatsville would start carrying soy curls. Every time I go on a trip I have to stock up. Sure, I could order them and I could also hire a butler bring me a plate of olives and peeled champagne grapes while I am lounging in the solid gold hammock. In other words, it’s not going happen until I win the lottery and I am not going to win the lottery because I don’t play. I’ll just have to continue to look like a jackass every time I go through airport security to explain to the TSA folks why most of my luggage is weird looking dehydrated  strips because soy curls are awesome and totally worth it. Super healthy, easy to make, wonderfully textured, and cheap they area really a vegan dream come true. I read an article on Oregon Live the other day about Julie Hasson’s technique for barbecued soy curls and we tried them later that day with greens and grits.

They were so good. The key was to first rehydrate them in a broth, we used a mix of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, along with “better than boullion” and lemony spice mix. Then after 10 minutes, drain, and then sauté in olive oil for a few minutes until browned and then add the barbecue sauce and cook until it thickens up. Delicious!

Next week starts my 3rd VeganMoFo! I am super nervous excited to blog every weekday. My plan is to focus on the million different ways you can make beans and rice along with some restaurant reviews, news, giveaways, and god knows what else. I was thinking about making some videos of places in Austin, would anyone be interested in that???

Syrian Split Peas with Chard

A couple of years ago I just go so sick of the holidays, not because they are all are inherently shitty holidays, but just the fact that they are the same thing every year. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Serbian Christmas, and Martin Luther King Day all go down exactly how they always have. Well, New Years changes the location quite a bit but you know what I mean; we are still celebrating the same damn holidays every year. Recently Mr. Smurf found out that he is technically Jewish and I thought it would be nice to start celebrating some of the Jewish holidays. And so I got “Olive Trees and Honey“, a book about Jewish cuisine from all over the world, which I have wanted for a while because it gets really positive reviews.

I have quickly fallen in love with this book. Every recipe is a history lesson about a particular tradition, how Jews came to live in a certain place, how cultures mingled, or even how people started to eat a certain type of food. The recipes are all clearly written and, like my other recent favorite, Viva Vegan, the book has many regional adaptations and variations after the recipe. Sometimes the variations are kind of funny, like if you want to make something Hungarian omit the other spices and add paprika. God, those Hungarians must really love their paprika because this seems to be true of every recipe I have ever read in my life. What the hell is going on over there? As someone of Serbian background I also think it is pretty ridiculous that the author always lumps the former Yugoslavia together as “The Balkans”, not really because it isn’t quite accurate but because a certain TV show that I love right now has a bad guy called “The Balkan” so I can’t help but laugh.

The only other issue that I have with the book is that, I would say, 95 percent of the recipes have eggs in them. Sometimes eggs are easy enough to get around, like if one is used as a binder in a dumpling or if they are in a pasta dough. But, other times eggs are impossible or at least very difficult to substitute for. [If you need help veganizing something with eggs check out this post on My Vegetarian Recipes".] Someone somewhere said if a recipe calls for more than 3 eggs to not even bother veganizing it and many of the recipes call for 6!  Certainly they are not as simple as subbing for meat or cheese or milk.  But I still love the cookbook and I can easily enough make most of the recipes. So far everything has been fantastic.

I recently tried the Syrian Lentils with Chard, it is a fantastic recipe because it is totally lazy cooking but healthy too and very tasty. Also, I finally got to use my Pomegranate Molasses that I bought at least a year ago and immediately forgot what I bought it for so it has been sitting in the pantry ever since. Luckily it keeps forever so if you have been wondering what to do with yours try the recipe! I also switched it from lentils to split peas and cut wayyyy back on the oil.

Syrian Split Peas with Chard

1 TBSP olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped

6 cups water
2 1/3 cups split peas
1 lbs chard, shredded
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

3/4 cups cilantro
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

Heat up the oil and toss in the onion and garlic. Once the onion has become translucent add the water, split peas, chard, salt and pepper. Simmer until the peas are tender and the water has mostly evaporated. Add in the cilantro and pomegranate molasses, mix and enjoy!

Hatch Gravy Bowl & A fantastic package!

Since I got back from vacation I have been trying to eat as healthy and simply as possible. To be honest, I have been eating the kinds of things that non-vegans imagine when they even think of the word vegan. Especially if they think vegan = hippie = brown rice and dark leafy greens. That’s right folks, I have had this combination many times in the last few weeks. The key is to keep changing the sauces and occasionally adding a component that is more traditionally associated with protein like beans or soy. The great part about eating this simply is that grocery store trips are super easy and fast and cheap which is super because the multiple vacations led to a very broke smurf. The downside all this simplicity  is I don’t have anything interesting to blog about from my kitchen. The best I’ve got is this bowl that was basmati rice, swiss chard, soy curls, and a hatch chile corn gravy. The picture reminds me of weird turkey gravy and shitty diners across the midwest but it was actually pretty tasty.

Then from the complete other end of the spectrum, I got a package from an internet friend in Australia Cupcake KittehMandee is pretty much the hero of my universe now because the package was AMAZING. Now I want to visit Australia so bad. Everything I have tried has been so good. There was a rice milk chocolate bar that I gluttonously ate in one sitting and vege chips made out of cassava and shallots that are totally addictive or they would be if I could ever buy them again. There was so much stuff in the package that I really can’t believe it. I didn’t want to leave Mr. Smurf alone with its contents!It is just really unbelievable. Thank you so much Mandee.

Breakfast Arepa

Latin American style brunch is probably my most favorite meal to eat. It all started, I think, with migas and then branched out to chilaquiles, polenta rancheros,  gallo pinto, and of course the breakfast taco. I wanted something really simple for brunch this week and I had some sausage on hand so I thought of making Sausages & Greens. This is a recipe that I first discovered in Vegan Brunch but has now entered my regular rotation to the point where I improvise regularly. I had sausages and Kale and I wanted to make it but I had already had the same meal with grits earlier in the week and I was really craving a breakfast sandwich. That is when I realized arepas were, again, the only possible choice. The meal is like the bastard lovechild or Vegan Brunch and Viva Vegan my two favorite cookbooks. Arepas make so much sense as a breakfast sandwich, they are about the same size as English muffins and even made in a simiar way. I wonder if people in Venezuela eat them in the am. I think I am going to have to go on a fact finding mission to get to the bottom of it. I could even make a movie about “The Quest for the Breakfast Arepa” Just imagine me, cruising around Caracas, asking lots of strange questions about animal products, getting arrested as a spy, and then hopefully being extradited back to the US. It would probably be worth it.

I came up with a new scheme for cooking arepas this time too. Before they took forever (aka 20 minutes) grilling in my cast iron skillet but it dawned on me that I could use the George Forman grill which does both sides at the same time so it takes half as much time. All you have to do to make the arepas is mix 2 cups of masarepa with 2 cups of hot water, add a little salt, mix together and then grill for 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile in cast iron skillet sauté an onion and a few cloves of garlic. Add sausage pieces when softened. When the sausage is browned add the greens, folding them in slowly so you can fit them all in the skillet. When the greens have cooked down a little add a half a cup of broth, some red pepper flakes, a little soy sauce, and a teaspoon of liquid smoke. Cover and steam for about 10 minutes. The steaming makes the greens nice and plump. I love it!

Overall the meal was a little dry so next time I am thinking I will add a spread onto the arepas as well or vegan cream cheese which would make it a little more breakfasty. Or maybe the salsa golf from Viva Vegan. It was still super tasty and involved greens so it was healthy in my book as well.

I bet you this won’t be the last time I make breakfast arepas.

Last Meal

My friend Krys asked what we would eat if it was our last day on earth. She said she would “fill up on a plate of Southern fried goodness: deep fried cajun spiced tofu, mashed taters w/gravy, fried okra, and corn on the cob. And of course dessert, something lemon”. I liked the sound of that! I immediatly thought of the meal Mr. Smurf made for us the other night, all recipes from the Veganomicon, Mac Daddy, smokey grilled tempeh, and delicious greens. We ate it on the back porch after the sun had gone down, it was immaculate perfection. If it was my last meal, though, I said I would add BBQ black-eyed peas, tots,  olive poppers and a Michelada to drink. And some sort of decadent chocolate dessert that is, like, chocolate with chocolate surround by chocolate.

Mmmm last meal.

Beautiful Days at Blue Dahlia Bistro

Days are slipping from sunny and gorgeous to sunny Sunny SUNNY quicker than you can find your flip flops here in Austin Texas. It has been the most lovely spring, the water is flowing at the green belt, flowers are blooming everywhere, and all of my meals have been taken alfresco as of late. Yesterday Jodi at Tasty Touring asked what our favorite patios are in Austin and I first thought of Blue Dahlia. It is the kind of patio that I hope to recreate in my own backyard, except with less tables and more pillows. It is a beautiful atmosphere with lots of plants and shade. A perfect place to while away the hours.They also have plenty of good food on the menu. The lattes are fabulous. Most, if not all, of the bread is vegan. They have an olive bread that fills my heart with love for mankind. They also have a hummus plate, soup, sandwich (ask for no butter) and several entrées and big salads. I love to get the bread plate with several different fresh baked breads with different spreads.  I haven’t tried everything because I almost always get the gigantic black bean salad. It has mixed greens topped with tomatoes, cucumber, avocados, black bean and a corn & bell pepper salsa that is just so fresh and bright that I can’t even describe. They also have a large wine list and happy hour specials. So if you are downtown and need to get out of the heat check it out.