Vegan BLT and the story of a young gymnast

At the end of third grade, I remember sitting on the mat in front of the foam pit with all the girls on my gymnastics team. In preparation for the team’s annual party, the coaches asked each of us what kind of sandwich and cookie we wanted for party lunchbox. I was nervous about what to request. Fortunately, my last name is at the end of the alphabet, so I was able to listen to what everyone else picked. Unfortunately, the trendy lunch was a BLT and Oreos–things we did not eat in my Jewish household. And like I said, I was 8, so I don’t even know think I’d ever heard of a BLT. I did, however, know what being cool was, and it did not involve PBJ and/or chocolate chip cookies.

In second grade, I’d broken my arm, missing out on a lot of gymnastics, meanwhile the other girls my age had shot ahead. I was on the training team and they were on the “D-team” or developmental team, a designation for highly promising young gymnasts too young to compete (this was in the 80’s, and if memory serves, 9 was the youngest age allowed in competitions). If that wasn’t bad enough, my from Lindsay. who lived down the street, was on the D-team and her mother dropped me off at the gym for the end of the year demonstration, and then told me to “get a ride with Lindsay” to the party afterward. I took that to mean that her mom was coming back and driving us to the party. An hour later, sitting in front of the gym, it was clear that her mom wasn’t coming and everyone was already at the party and no one knew where we were. I have no idea how we called her mom to come get us.

Needless to say, in third grade, I didn’t want to mess this up. So when Coach Mike called my name out, I said I wanted just an L. I knew I didn’t want bacon, and at the time I hate tomatoes. So for me, I had an L sandwich and some Oreos, which I’m sure I didn’t eat either. Probably not the coolest lunch, but I felt ok about it then.

Now, I’m much more confident about my food choices, and better yet, have devised the ultimate (vegan) BLT–portobello “bacon”, arugula, tomatoes, and avocado, on toasted bread, with a thin spread of Earth Balance. Crispy, salty, juicy, and not embarrassing in the least.

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Vegan Português kale soup

This recipe is adapted from Rachel Ray, and inspired by my friend Heather (check out her photography).

* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
* 1/2 cup diced onions
* 2 diced carrots
* 1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
* Chorizo seasoning (see below) or [1-2 store-bought soy chorizo, but omit lentils]
* 1 TBL tamari
* ½ cup red lentils
* 1 bay leaf
* 1 TBL parsley
* ½ tsp thyme
* 2 not-beef bullion cubes
* 8 cups water
* 1 14 oz can kidney beans, drained
* 1 cup diced tomatoes
* 3 red potatoes, diced

**Chorizo seasoning mix: 1 TBL granulated onion, 1 tsp black pepper, 2 tsp smoked paprika, 1 TBL dried chili flakes, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1/8 tsp ground allspice, 1 tsp turbinado sugar

In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onions, and carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the kale, chorizo spices (or soyrizo), bay leaves, parsley and thyme and mix well. Add the “beef stock”, beans, lentils, potatoes, and tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.

Vegan tomato pie

We made these mini ones and an 8 x8 square pie as well. Using Diet, Dessert and Dog‘s recipe for a summery zucchini pie, here is the recipe with our changes. This recipe is too good.

Tomato Pie with Potato Crust adapted from Diet, Dessert and Dog and  Seitan is My Motor
Crust:
2 pounds (900 g) russet potatoes, cut into large chunks
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax meal
2 Tbsp (30 ml) chickpea flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable broth or stock

Filling:
1/2 cup (60 g) pumpkin raw sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
2 cloves garlic
3 green onions, cut in chunks
1/3 cup (15 g) lightly packed chopped fresh basil (we used 3 TBL dried)
1 package (12 oz or 375 g) extra firm silken tofu (such as MoriNu)
6 Tbsp (90 ml) vegetable broth or stock
1 Tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 ml) granulated onion or onion powder
1/4-1/2 tsp (1-2.5 ml) smoked paprika, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) light miso
2 tsp (10 ml) dijon mustard
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) nutmeg
1 Tbsp (15 ml) chickpea or soy flour
pepper, to taste
2 medium zucchini, washed, trimmed and sliced
(2 pounds campari tomatoes)
olive oil, if desired

Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a 10 inch (25.5 cm) tart pan (8 x 8 square will work) with parchment and spray sides, or spray with nonstick spray.

Prepare the crust: place potato chunks in boiling water and boil just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Allow to cool completely, then grate the potatoes and place in a large bowl.

To the bowl, add the flax, chickpea flour,salt and broth and mix well with your hands. Using the back of a rubber spatula or a 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, press the potato mixture evenly into the bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until the top is dry. Remove from oven and reduce heat to 350F (180C).

Meanwhile, make the filling: In the bowl of a food processor, blend the seeds, garlic, green onion and basil until you have a paste. Add remaining filling ingredients except for tomatoes and process again until smooth.

**Slice tomatoes the short way (so that you have pretty rings) and arrange on top of the crust. Reserve a few to decorate the top. Pour the filling over the tomatoes, smooth with a spatula, and then arrange the decorative topping (if desired).

Bake in preheated 350F (180C) oven 50-60 minutes, rotating the pie about halfway through, until the crust is browned and the tomatoes begin to brown. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings. May be frozen. (Great hot or cold!)

Spiced red lentils with cabbage and spinach AND potato-cado salad

For the cabbage and spinach: Heat Earth Balance in a dutch oven and add 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, allow the seeds to pop. Then add 1 diced onion with 2 garlic cloves and saute 1-2 minutes. Add ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Add 2 cups cabbage and 2 cups spinach. Cover and cook on medium-low for 1 hour until soft. Do not add water.

For the lentils: Saute 1 diced onion with 3-4 garlic cloves and 1 inch of chopped fresh ginger. Add 1 TBL paprika, 1 TBL cayenne, and 1/2 tsp turmeric. Add 2 cups red lentils, 6 cups water, and 1 faux chicken bullion. Bring to a boil, the cook covered on medium until lentils are soft. Uncover slightly and allow lentils to thicken about 30 minutes. Add salt to taste.

Serve with potato-cado salad.

This picture sucks, which is the main reason I didn’t give this dish its own post. Sorry about that.

Chop 4 yukon gold potatoes and boil 10-15 minutes until tender. Drain and rinse in cold water.

While the potatoes cook, chop 4 TBL fresh cilantro, 1/2 cup white onion, and 1 ripe avocado. Pour 2 TBL lemon juice and 2 TBL white vinegar into a small bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Add onion and cilantro and mix well.

When the potatoes are done, mix them together with the avocado and salad dressing. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Aloo palak and mung bean dal

Blend together 1 onion, 3 garlic cloves, and about 1-1.5 cups of tomatoes (canned or fresh). Saute mixture in a dutch oven with a small amount of Earth Balance. Cook about 5 minutes to get out the raw smell. Add 2-3 chopped potatoes and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat slightly. Cook until potatoes are easily forked. Add 3-4 cups spinach and cook about 10 minutes on medium. Season with salt and pepper, or add more Earth Balance if you like a richer flavor.

For the mung beans, saute onion, garlic, ginger, and turmeric in a pot. Add 2 cups mung beans and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook until very tender. Add more water if needed.

Mashed potatoes and Mexican red lentils

Saute onion and garlic, add cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, lemon juice, and nutritional yeast, and 1 TBL tomato paste. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup of red lentils and 3 cups of water. Cook until lentils are soft and the water is absorbed.

The mashed potatoes are just delicious vegan mashed potatoes with some parsley, topped with pico de gallo and Daiya mozzerella.

Also, with vegan coleslaw.

Curry with kohlrabi, potatoes, and peas

I went to the farmer’s market and found purple kohlrabi! I’d never eaten this before, but it smelled like cabbage and/or cauliflower (its close relatives), so what’s not to love, right? We made this curry, based on the recipe from Simply in Season. We increased the spices to 2 tsp each, and used mustard seeds instead of powder, and cilantro for the coriander. Also, the kohlrabi didn’t come with any leaves, so we used a cup or so of kale. Definitely give this a try.