Friday, July 25, 2014

Rosewater Pistachio Quinoa + 10 reasons I love Redondo Beach

Serves 2
Time: 45 minutes

As much as I loved living on the East Coast, the West Coast has been amazing since we moved here in mid-April. Here are 10 reasons why I love Redondo Beach!

#1 Early morning bike rides on the beach. I love hopping onto my bike at 7 in the morning, pedaling down to The Strand or the Esplanade, smelling the ocean, feeling the breeze on my face and getting some exercise in at the start of the day.
#2 The produce. We're surrounded by farmer's markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and much more. And I can walk or bike to almost all of them!
#3 The beer. We can walk to several restaurants nearby for good beer, including Redondo Beach Brewing Co., Japonica and Select Beer Store. At SBS, the walls are lined with craft beer in refrigerators. You can grab most for about five dollars and hang out for as long as you like.
#4 The people. Everyone here is so friendly and relaxed!  
#5 The bus. Really! We are a one-car family, so having this option is great. The bus goes all the way from our place to LAX, every 20 to 30 minutes. It's clean, the bus drivers are friendly and it's convenient.
#6 The restaurants. Pho Show, Veggie Grill, Hoka Hoka, Addi's Tandoor and countless more, with plenty of vegan options.
#7 Palos Verdes. This area is gorgeous! And just a few minutes away from us by car! Pelican Cove Park is breathtaking.
#8 The views. We can see the ocean from our house!
#9 Our kitchen. I love cooking and working in this space. A lot.
#10 Our balcony. There is a little couch on the second-floor balcony that I hang out on most mornings with my cat, Nimrod and a cup of coffee. She loves the breeze and sticks her nose right up in the air to take all of the outside scents and aromas in. The other morning, I added a subtle scent of rosewater to the air with this rosewater pistachio quinoa. Best served cold, it's light yet filling, with a hint of sweetness from the agave and cardamom.
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1-2 tsp rosewater (can be found in most Middle Eastern markets)
1 pinch cardamom
1 pinch grey salt
1 TB raw agave, plus more, to taste

2-4 TB coconut cream (skim the heavy stuff off the top if the can)
almond milk, to serve
1/2 cup pistachios, divided


Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well under several exchanges of cold water. Place into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Gently stir around every 30 seconds or so until most of the water has evaporated, taking care that it does not start to stick to the bottom of the pan. This will give the quinoa a slightly toasted flavor.

Add the cup of water to the sauce pan, cover, and bring to a small boil. Once a boil is achieved, reduce the heat back to its lowest setting, and allow it to simmer for 12-14 minutes. It's important that you don't remove the lid at all during this time, or you'll end up with mushy quinoa.

After 12-14 minutes, turn the heat off, but do not remove the lid. Allow it to sit on the burner, covered and undisturbed, for 10 minutes more. Now remove the lid and fluff very gently with a fork. 

Whisk together 1 teaspoon of the rosewater, cardamom, salt, agave and coconut cream. Stir into the quinoa gently. Taste it and add an additional teaspoon of rosewater if you'd like. Allow to cool to room temperature or chill in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight.

Distribute the quinoa into two bowls and add a few splashes of almond milk. Top with the pistachios and any additional sweetener to taste and serve.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Review + Giveaway of Everyday Vegan Eats, by Zsu Dever [closed]

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! 

Congratulations to bitt, winner of this giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered!

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.