Friday, July 18, 2014

Review + Giveaway of Everyday Vegan Eats, by Zsu Dever

The kind folks over at The Vegan Heritage Press sent me a copy of Zsu Dever's cookbook, Everyday Vegan Eats, and I'm glad they did! This was a fantastic opportunity to learn about Zsu's cooking style, which is comfort food made vegan. Zsu has a unique ability to fuse together completely accessible ingredients with easy and approachable techniques to create well-balanced flavors and textures that anyone can create and enjoy. 

Packed with a ton of homestyle favorites like baked macaroni and cheese, vegan meatloaf with herbed gravy and mushroom stroganoff, Zsu's recipes are perfect for the new vegan who is seeking out ways to enjoy classic comfort food but not exactly sure where to start. In addition to her fantastic recipes, Zsu also includes helpful tips on how to plan menus, stock a vegan pantry and where the shop to maximize your dollar and get the most out of your grocery shopping trips.

For the seasoned vegan, this book is a great reminder that classic homestyle vegan food is not only accessible and approachable, but also fun and easy. After flipping through Zsu's book, I first made her chicken-free salad sandwiches, which utilize tofu, tvp or soy curls as the protein base. I chose soy curls and seasoned them with Zsu's savory broth mix (recipe can be found on page 19), which infused them with an amazing depth of flavor that complemented the other salad components perfectly. 

I loved every bite of this dish, so I'm excited that Vegan Heritage Press has not only kindly agreed to allow me to share the recipe here but is also offering a free copy of Everyday Vegan Eats through this post! 

To enter, just leave a comment below that includes your favorite vegan comfort food dish, and please include your email address or some way to contact you if your comment is drawn as the winner. Shipping for this giveaway is limited to the US only. 

I'll randomly choose a winner on July 25. Good luck! 

Chicken-Free Salad Sandwiches

Your protein of choice – Soy Curls, tofu, or TVP – is right at home in this easy-to-make sandwich filling. You can take a step back in time to the eighties and stuff it into a tomato or just add it to a bed of crisp green salad. Of course, it’s also fantastic between two slices of bread or served in lettuce cups.

Serves 4


4 cups coarsely chopped tender soy curls, marinated tofu, or savory tvp, cooled thoroughly

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 small red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped

3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

1 tablespoon sweet relish

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

8 slices toasted bread, gluten free bread, or butter lettuce


In a large bowl, combine your protein of choice with the celery, onion, bell pepper, mayonnaise, relish, and salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Make sandwiches with the mixture, using either toasted bread or lettuce cups.

From Everyday Vegan Eats: Family Favorites from My Kitchen to Yours by Zsu Dever. Copyright ©2014 by Zsu Dever. Used with permission from Vegan Heritage Press.

Friday, July 11, 2014

20 Packable and Portable Vegan Recipes

In a lunch rut? Here are 20 dishes that can be easily packed up and taken along with you for a filling, flavorful and delicious lunch or snack during the day. For more ideas, check out my Recipe Index page!

1. Cauliflower and Cashew Cream Soup - This is a velvety and rich soup that tastes good hot or cold!

2. Buffalo Chickpea Tacos - Spoon this into a wrap for a quick and protein-rich lunch.

3. Chickpea Salad Sandwich - Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. This may be the best thing between sliced bread!

4. Sesame-Ginger Soba Noodles - When you want something flavorful and light, this is it.

5. Red Quinoa, Fava Bean and Cashew Salad - Looking for color and pop? Make this pretty dish that's best served cold.

6. Sambal and Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles with Tofu - Want to spice up your lunch routine? Make these spicy and rich ramen noodles!

7. Mushroom Walnut Paté - While not a full meal in itself, this is a great late afternoon snack.

8. Minted Pea Soup - Wildly fragrant and a pretty shade of green, this is a great cold soup for a hot day.

9. Green Tea Noodles Salad - Nothing is prettier than green on your plate -- this dish celebrates spring colors and flavors!

10. Roasted Eggplant and Hummus Sandwich - Created after ordering a sandwich at a deli with almost nothing left over after its lunch rush ... who knew these two things would taste so good together?

11. Thai Coconut Soup - Best served at room temperature, this broth is fantastic. Add whatever components you want, and you'll have a great soup for lunch!

12. White Bean and Roasted Garlic Spread - Spread this over crackers mid-morning or late afternoon to get you through the day.

13. Vegan Clam Chowder - One of the most flavorful soups ever! 

14. Vegan Port Wine Cheese - This is party food for a mid-day snack. Did I mention there is port wine in here?

15. Anellini O's - Spaghettio's, made vegan.

16. Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese - Homemade vegan cheese that is shreddable! Make this mac and cheese with it or anything else that calls for shreddable cheddar.

17. Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce - Keep the sauce and pasta separate until lunchtime, and this may be your new favorite lunch. The crispy shallots make this dish, so keep those separate as well.

18. Roasted Garlic and Sriracha Hummus - The 1 billionth version of hummus. This one uses sriracha and garlic.

19. Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Lemongrass - This is a vibrant and clean tasting soup, best served  at room temperature or warm.

20. Vegan Tuna Salad - A variation of chickpea tuna, this one uses hearts of palm as a "tuna" analog. One of my favorite sandwich fillings!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sambal and Peanut Butter Ramen Noodles with Tofu

Serves 2
Time: 30 minutes

I love the combination of sambal and peanut butter in both savory and sweet applications. I have even slathered these two things over bread, sprinkled with brown sugar, slapped them together and grilled it to gooey perfection with a bit of Earth Balance to help it toast up perfectly. It's fantastic.

Sambal is a chunkier version of sriracha that (to me) tastes more salty and less spicy. I've used it in a sauce slathered over seitan skewers and in croquettes and it not only introduces a perfect amount of heat, but also deftly balances out other flavors in a dish.

So when I found some ramen noodles in my pantry the other day, this combo came to mind and I began to make a sauce I could toss the noodles into. Once the sambal and peanut butter hit the pan together, they release an aroma that is cozy, clean and irresistible—which is what makes spicy food feel and taste so good in the first place. Once the sauce was done, it clinged perfectly onto the noodles, which I finished off with some tofu and mixed vegetables for an easy, fragrant and pleasantly spicy dish.

for the tofu
1 block firm tofu (no need to press)
2 TB dark sesame oil
2 tsp soy sauce

for the sauce
1-2 tsp oil
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced
5-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 TB sambal
2 TB peanut butter
2 TB brown sugar
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 cups vegetable broth

7 oz. ramen noodles

to serve
any variety of vegetables like snow peas, mushroom, baby corn, bean sprouts, etc.
sesame seeds
sliced scallions
lime wedges
chopped peanuts

Prepare the tofu, using this quick and easy method. While the tofu is browning, whisk the sesame oil and soy sauce in a medium-sized bowl. Once the tofu is browned on both sides, transfer it to the bowl and toss well to coat. Set aside.

To make the sauce, heat 1-2 tsp oil over medium heat. Throw in the sliced shallots, stir to coat, then saute for about 4 minutes, lowering the heat if they start to brown.

Add in the garlic, stir and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Once the shallots and garlic are soft but not browned, add in the sambal and stir, then add in the peanut butter and gently stir until melted. Add in the brown sugar and vinegar.

Increase the heat to medium-high, then add in the broth. Allow the mixture to come to a full simmer, then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.

Boil the ramen noodles according to the package instructions and drain. Toss with the sambal and peanut butter sauce. 

Distribute into two bowls, and top with the tofu, drizzling any extra sesame oil over the top.

Garnish it with vegetables, sesame seeds, scallions, cilantro, lime wedges and chopped peanuts as desired. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Panisse Bruschetta

Active Time: about 30 minutes
Passive time: a few hours to overnight, to allow the batter to sit, then chill
Yields: roughly 21 oz. block of panisse + 1 3/4 cup topping

I know what you're thinking: bruschetta is bruschetta because it's made with grilled bread. You'd be right, but I'll explain why I'm calling this bruschetta if you want to read on.

When I was about 10, I went over to a friend's house to go swimming. I threw my bathing suit into one of those plastic grocery bags, hopped on my bike, and coasted down the very steep hill on the way to her house. I carried that bag in my right hand, which rested on the bike handle, which dangled precariously close to the spokes on the front wheel of the bike.

If you made a whatanidiot! scowl after reading that last sentence, I won't blame you. It wasn't the smartest decision I've ever made, but I was 10. After hitting the asphalt facefirst over the front handlebars of the bike at a high speed, one of my bottom teeth (aka #23), was knocked out. I somehow found it and it was put back in, which was followed by seemingly endless trips (at least in my 10-year old mind) to the dentist for a root canal to keep the tooth anchored in place.

But fast forward 25 years later, that root canal failed. The tooth turned a weird shade of grey, was very wobbly and unstable, and I was told I needed a dental implant or the surrounding bone would begin to erode around my other healthy teeth. Plus it's in the front of my mouth.

So in early 2011 when we still lived in Boston, I went through the process of having the tooth removed (which came out in broken pieces), an implant placed into the now-empty socket, and then waited for it osseointegrate to my jaw bone for a few months before having a crown loaded onto it. After having a really bad reaction to the antibiotic they gave me following the implant surgery, an incorrectly torqued crown which had to be replaced and debris that somehow lodged near the root of the adjacent tooth that required an additional surgery, the normal few months' process dragged on for almost a year. Because of this, I am now completely paranoid about something happening to the bottom row of my teeth.

So when I went to a new dentist in LA last week and was told that the healthy teeth surrounding my implant are starting to show some other issues related to the old trauma, I kind of threw my hands up in the air. I wanted to punch my 10-year-old self in the face for making such a stupid decision almost 30 years ago, but winced at the thought of the potential fake dental consequences this imagined punch would cause. 

But back to the bruschetta. Ever since the implant surgery a few years ago, I don't bite into hard things like crusty bread or whole apples (scream) unless I have a fork and knife or can rip it apart by hand in a socially acceptable way. But I wanted something bruschetta-like this past weekend, so I decided to make some soft and pillowy panisse instead. 

Panisse is basically chickpea flour and water that's been cooked, cooled until firm, then sliced and fried until delicately crispy on the outside and smooth and soft on the inside. You can top it with whatever you want, but I like it with a mixture of soft cannellini beans, fresh basil and mushrooms. It's clean, earthy, rich and colorful. So although this is not really bruschetta, it's kind of the same concept that's equally but uniquely delicious.

for the topping
2 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp salt
15 oz. can of cannellini beans, rinsed
3/4 cup basil, cut chiffonade

for the chickpea cakes
1 cup chickpea flour
2 1/4 cups water
1 TB olive oil
few pinches of salt and pepper

To make the topping, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat, then add in the sliced mushrooms. Once they are soft, sprinkle with the salt. It will seem like a lot of salt, but it will be balanced out by the beans. 

Let the mushrooms cool, then combine with the cannellini beans and chopped basil. Place in the refrigerator to cool and allow the flavors to mingle for an hour to overnight.

To make your chickpea batter, whisk together all of the chickpea cake ingredients. Cover and leave out on your counter a few hours to overnight to slightly thicken.

To cook your chickpea batter, preheat an empty nonstick skillet over medium heat. Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil into the pan, and wait a minute or two more for the oil to warm. You'll want the panisse to sizzle when it hits the pan.

Pour the batter into the preheated skillet. Immediately and continuously stir the batter with the whisk until thickened, (about 5 minutes), then switch to using a heat-resistant rubber spatula to stir continuously for a few minutes more. Once it starts pulling away cleanly from the pan stir for an additional 1-2 minutes more, then transfer the batter to a greased glass container. (I use an empty TofuXpress to get a nice square shape.)

Let it slightly cool, then cover it with plastic wrap so it touches the top to create a seal, then place it in the refrigerator to completely cool for about an hour or so until firm, or up to overnight.

To pan fry the panisse, cut the cooled block in half, then slice each half into 1/2-inch thick pieces. It's important that the slices are no thicker than that. Preheat an empty skillet over medium heat for a few minutes, then place 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the pan, then carefully add in the panisse slices. Saute each side for 3-5 minutes, or until golden but not browned.

You can also bake panisse instead of pan frying it. To bake it, lightly oil a baking sheet and bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Flip the pieces over, then bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until slightly golden around the edges.

To serve the panisse bruschetta, let the chickpea cakes cool off, then spoon the desired amount of topping over them. Serve immediately.