Tag Archives: meatlessmonday

Meatless Monday: Rajas de Poblano con Elote y Crema Tacos

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For a good, long period of my near-thirty years, burritos were my preferred Mexi-food fare. Over the last few years, however, I’ve found myself increasingly enamored with tacos. Possibly because nearly anything can be shoved into a taco. Possibly because I can keep eating them, whereas I am generally full after one burrito. ;)

Since I don’t cook meat at home, we have veggie-taco nights, perhaps once a week or so. However, vegetarian tacos can become boring really fast. Beans, rice, cheese, salsas and sauces of various sorts, avocado… No one here is particularly fond of what is often the other vegetarian taco offering that is heavily present on a multitude of restaurant menus — heavy on the roasted vegetables, little on anything else, beans and rice on the side… Sometimes we are lucky to find bean/rice/cheese type tacos, which are incredible despite (or perhaps because of) their simplicity.

I began to do some research for the best veggie tacos across the globe. One taco that immediately caught my attention was filled with a creamy, roasted poblano pepper filling, wherein the tacos had nothing but this in/on them. Poblano peppers are medium-spiced (although occasionally you’ll find a spicy one!), but carry a lot of flavor. Roasting them imparts a smokiness that carries through in the following dish. This gorgeous taco filling is a great balance of spiciness, sweetness, creaminess, and downright deliciousness!

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Rajas de Poblano con Elote y Crema
Tacos with Slices of Roasted Poblano Peppers with Corn and Cream

Serves 4-6 people.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, peeled, halved then cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
6 poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, then cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
2 cups sweet corn (frozen is okay)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup cotija or mild feta cheese, crumbled
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

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Directions:
In a large skillet heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes).

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, cooking until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the roasted chile strips and corn, cumin, oregano and salt, then cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes.

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Add the cheese, reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Continue cooking, stirring until the cheese has melted. Remove from heat, stir in the chopped cilantro, then serve immediately with warm tortillas.

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Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Posole with Roasted Peppers, Pinto Beans and Soyrizo

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I suppose if you cook every day, it’s bound to happen.  I wonder if even the most illustrious chefs experience cooking burnout. Lately I’ve felt as though everything in my kitchen is some variation of just a few standby dishes and frankly, my tastebuds are tired of eating the same damn things.

When I find myself feeling this way, stuck in some cooking rut, my favorite way to get out is to challenge myself. I browse through numerous cookbooks, food blogs, and brainstorm recipes that I can concoct, play with, and experiment with to come up with non-boring food that my family will still enjoy eating.

The following soup was born out of all the above places.  It’s “Mexican food” but not (those terms carry a lot of value in our house!). It’s soup, it has never before made an appearance in my kitchen. It’s filling, warm, spicy without being overwhelming. We ate the entire pot in two days — which, when it comes to soup around this house — also means good things.

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Vegetarian Posole with Roasted Peppers, Pinto Beans and Soyrizo

Serves 8-10 folks (yields about 6 hearty quarts of soup)

Ingredients:
3 anaheim peppers
3 poblano peppers
10 large roma tomatoes, halved *
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 12-ounce tube of Soyrizo
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 25-ounce can of hominy, rinsed and drained
3 cups pinto beans, cooked
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4-1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
5-6 cups No-Chicken or vegetable broth
the juice from 1 large lime
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • If you don’t want to roast your own tomatoes, use can use canned diced tomatoes (one 28-ounce can). I prefer the fire-roasted type.

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Directions:

Roast the peppers: If you have a gas stove, this is easily done by toasting the peppers over an open flame (on high), using tongs to turn the peppers constantly. Once the peppers are nicely blackened on all sides, place in a bowl and then tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap. The trapped steam will soften the peppers and loosen their skins. After 15 minutes, pull the stems and seeds out of each pepper. Pull the skins off the pepper. You can also use a paper towel to rub off the loosened skins.

If you are using an oven, turn it on to the broiler setting. Brush each pepper with 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable, sunflower, or another high-smoke point oil. Arrange the peppers on a baking sheet, then place the sheet on the highest rack in your oven. Keeping a close eye on the peppers, remove them once dark, blackened spots appear. As with stove-top roasted peppers, place in a bowl and cover for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and seeds.

Dice the roasted peppers into small bite-sized pieces.

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Roast the tomatoes: Move an oven rack to the highest position in the oven and turn on your broiler. Gently squeeze each halved tomato, releasing some of the gelatinous seeds and juices. Line a large sheet pan with raised sides, with foil. Place each halved tomato cut-side down.

Broil the tomatoes until the skins are blistered and slightly blackened. Rotate the pan a few times for even roasting. This should take 5-10 minutes. Let the tomatoes sit until cool enough to handle and then peel the skins off. Dice each tomato half into four chunks.

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Prepare the soup: In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the diced onions and saute until translucent. Add the minced garlic and Soyrizo. Cook until the Soyrizo starts to brown (5 minutes or so). Add the diced roasted peppers, stirring to combine everything. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

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Add the zucchini, hominy, beans, carrots, bay leaf, oregano, cumin, salt, coriander,  and chipotle pepper. Stir well. Add the broth, again stirring to mix everything together. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes – 1 hour (longer if you want!).

Right before you’re ready to serve the soup, stir in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. This soup is particularly delicious when served with warm corn tortillas, sour cream, chopped cilantro, lime, and/or shredded cheddar cheese.

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Meatless Monday: Veggie Yakiudon

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Although we eat a lot of Mexican food around here, there are some things I enjoy much more…  Noodles, for instance, are at the top of the list. It almost doesn’t matter the type or the particular cuisine. Maybe it’s just the high desire for carbs and the insatiable desire my half-Japanese self finds to eat my meals with chopsticks. Can’t eat a burrito with chopsticks, now can we?!

Growing up in Hawaii, so many of my meals growing up were a conglomeration of multiple cultures. There are Hawaiian dishes mixed with Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, American, Thai influences.  Even as a kid, noodles were instant comfort food for me. One of the first things I learned how to cook was saimin (ramen… straight out of the package, little spice packet included).

These noodles aren’t traditional in most senses, but they’re good and filling, sweet and savory. It’s important not to overcook your vegetables, so they maintain some texture and slight crunch in the final pasta. While I used round udon noodles, you can use what’s available to you — whether that’s flat, wide, or thin udon, or thick round noodles. I encourage you to add a bit of spicy red chili sauce to your bowl if you enjoy the heat at all — it balances well with the sweetness of these noodles.

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Veggie Yakiudon

Serves 8-10.

Ingredients:
8 tablespoons shoyu
8 tablespoons mirin
3/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup vegetarian worcestershire sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced finely
4 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced finely
2 8-ounce packages round udon noodles
4 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 onion, halved then cut into half-moons about 1/4″ thick
1 package Quorn Brand Chik’n Tenders
1 large orange bell pepper, diced into bite sized pieces
15-20 snow peas, ends trimmed
1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
1 large stalk celery, diced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced into strips
salt and pepper
4-6 stalks green onion, diced

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Directions:
In a bowl, whisk together the shoyu, mirin, hoisin, rice vinegar, worcestershire, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Set aside until needed.

Cook the noodles according to the package directions, then run under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside in a colander to drain until needed. Make sure the noodles are dry before adding them to the wok later, which will help them to brown up instead of steam, keeping them from getting overly mushy.

In a large wok, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, tossing in the oil until tender. Add the Quorn tenders, also tossing in the oil. Cook until lightly golden brown. Add in the bell pepper, snow peas, broccoli, celery, bean sprouts and shiitake mushrooms. Use two spoons or spatulas to toss the vegetables in the wok until they just start to soften up. Remove the vegetables from the wok and set aside.

Add half of the sauce to the wok. Over medium-high heat, add the noodles and quickly toss them in the sauce with the two spoons or spatulas you used with the vegetables. Add the veggies back to the noodles, tossing them into the mixture. Add the remaining sauce, along with a bit of salt and pepper. Toss a few more times, then remove from heat. Sprinkle the diced green onion on top and serve immediately. I like adding a bit of sriracha into my own bowl!

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Meatless Monday: Barbecue “Pulled” Seitan

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One of my favorite things about learning how to cook has been figuring out how to make ingredients that, originally, I would have bought already made. (Then griped at due to the price versus the quality/quantity of the foods I end up with.) Pesto, breads, certain cookies and treats, hummus, etc. When I decided to experiment with making homemade seitan, the initial reason was that it ran us close to $5-6 for 6 ounces of seitan. To feed a family of four that includes a two dudes over 6-feet-tall and a rapidly growing 8 year old who is also nearly 5-feet-tall these days, that amount of seitan doesn’t go very far. $15 for just the seitan alone seemed silly to me when I could purchase a bag of vital wheat gluten for 5 bucks and make four times as much seitan with it.

The thing about seitan is it’s super versatile. It takes on flavors well, while maintaining a very “meaty” consistency. My husband is a Southern-born guy. He’s been a vegetarian for many years and therefore some of the more Southern dishes he did grow up around, he hasn’t been able to eat for decades now. Mainly I came up with this particular barbecued seitan with him in mind. When we had these sandwiches, one bite in, he told me, “this is just like eating a barbecue sandwich down South.” Mission accomplished.

I encourage you to read through the entire recipe before attempting to make it. The final step of making the seitan into “barbecue,” is filled with a description of what I do personally, rather than real set instructions. Use with your own discretion! :)

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Barbecue “Pulled” Seitan

Yields nearly three pounds of seitan.

Ingredients:

For the seitan:
12.3 oz firm silken tofu
4 cups vital wheat gluten
6 large crimini mushrooms
1 shallot, peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegan worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon celery sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cups No-Chicken or vegetable broth

For the barbecue sauce:
24 ounces ketchup
1 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon unsulphured blackstrap molasses
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

Directions:

Prepare the seitan: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients for the seitan except for the broth. Pulse until the tofu and mushrooms are broken up and the ingredients have combined well. While the machine is running, slowly stream in the broth, until the mixture comes together in a ball of dough (4-6 minutes).

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Split the dough into two equal portions, forming each into loaves about 4″x7″. Spray two large sheets of foil with oil/cooking spray. Place one loaf of seitan on each piece of foil, then wrap it up tightly, being sure to seal the ends well. Place in the oven, seam side down, directly on the oven rack in the center of your oven. Bake for 90 minutes, turning the seitan over halfway through the cooking time.

Turn the oven off and allow the seitan to stay in the oven for an additional 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave wrapped until needed.

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Prepare the sauce: Whisk together all of the ingredients for the barbeque sauce in a saucepan. Turn the heat on to medium, and bring up to a simmer. Let the sauce cook for 20-30 minutes, the turn off the heat.

Preparing “pulled” barbecued seitan: Technically, the seitan is fully cooked at this point. You can slice it as thin or thick as you like, eat it as is, top it with the barbecue sauce (or your favorite sauce), use it as a meat substitute in your preferred dishes…

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When I am making this seitan for us, I use kitchen scissors to cut the cooked seitan into semi-thin slices until the whole log has been chopped up. This gives it an uneven, rough look and creates some pieces that are thicker or thinner than others – which I like for this particular recipe.

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Next, I heat a cast iron stovetop griddle to extremely hot, drizzling it with canola or sunflower oil. When the pan is very hot, I spread the chopped seitan out in a single layer on the griddle. Once the seitan starts crisping and browning, I flip it with a spatula, allowing the second side to crisp up. Spoon about 1/4-cup of barbecue sauce over the seitan, continuously turning it on the griddle until the sauce begins to cook into the seitan. Some places will begin to char, which I encourage (as would be the case with “real” meat barbecue). Add more sauce if you’d like as the seitan is cooking, no more than 1/4-cup at a time. Even as the outside begins to crisp or char, this seitan retains its tenderness.

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Our favorite way to eat this barbecued seitan is as a sandwich on rolls, consisting only of the barbecued seitan, vegenaise, yellow mustard, and a little extra barbecue sauce.

  • Reheating is best done on a stove top griddle or in a hot cast iron pan.

Meatless Monday: Vegan Polenta with Lemon Garlic Pesto Cashew Cream Sauce

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I go back and forth about incorporating an entirely vegetarian diet often. Truthfully, I don’t eat a lot of meat as it is. When we are traveling, I will keep myself open to trying new dishes – vegetarian or not – to expand my own palate and gain new ideas for future dishes. Day to day though, I don’t miss meat when it isn’t included in my diet. The main exception to that is chicken, which I do crave at times, although I have found vegetarian alternatives to that which are equally as satisfying.

The other thing my husband and I talk about is a vegan diet for our family. There are lots of reasons for that – health reasons, environmental reasons, the all-around kindness approach to food and living. As you can tell from the majority of the recipes on my blog though, this is not something we’ve integrated into daily living. Perhaps someday. In the meantime, I enjoy experimenting with vegan cooking, maintaining my main goal in cooking: creating dishes that are as delicious as they are anything else – healthy, fun to eat, enjoyable to make…

That said, I finally have a blender that can make cashew cream – the basis of many creamy vegan sauces – savory and sweet, numerous desserts, etc. I am VERY excited about this. I decided to experiment last night with a creamy dairy-free pesto to top a bowl of polenta. The result was delightfully filling, tasty, creamy, and non-time consuming. Certainly an easy mid-week meal!

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Vegan Polenta with Lemon Garlic Pesto Cashew Cream Sauce

Serves 2-4 people.

Ingredients:

Prepare the night before.
For the cashew cream:
1 cup raw cashews (whole or pieces)
water

For the polenta:
4 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
1 cup polenta

For the cashew cream pesto sauce:
1 tablespoon Earth Balance
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons dairy-free pesto (here’s a recipe if you can’t find it in the grocery store)
1 cup cashew cream
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
salt
fresh ground black pepper

Directions:

Prepare the cashew cream:
Place the cashews in a bowl and add enough cold water to cover them. Cover, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the cashews and rinse them under cold water. Place the nuts in a blender with enough cold water to cover them by 1-inch. Blend on high until very smooth. (If you’re not using a professional-type high-speed blender, strain the cashew cream through a fine-mesh sieve to create a smooth cream.)

This makes about 2 cups of cashew cream.

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Prepare the polenta:
In a medium-large pot, stir together the broth, granulated garlic, basil, thyme, pepper, and Earth Balance. Bring to a boil, then pour in the polenta while whisking.

Turn the heat down to low, continuing to whisk until the polenta thickens enough where it doesn’t settle on the bottom of the pan when you stop stirring. Cover the polenta and continue cooking for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir the polenta vigorously every 10 minutes or so, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan. Re-cover and cook until the grains are tender and the polenta has a porridge-like consistency.

Prepare the sauce:
In a small saucepan, heat the Earth Balance until melted, over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook until fragrant (1-2 minutes). Stir in the pesto, cashew cream, lemon juice, and water until smooth. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking. Turn heat to low.

Serve:
Spoon the polenta into bowls, then top with your preferred amount of sauce. Top with fresh ground pepper. Serve immediately.

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