Saturday, July 24, 2010

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

So, I've been wondering what to do with the spinach that's been collecting metaphorical dust in my freezer for the last forever. Being kind of lazy, and pretty inexperienced at cooking, I tend to stick to easier, quicker recipes. But I couldn't find anything in my simpler cookbooks that looked appealing, or that I had ingredients for beyond the spinach. So I turned to a book that I don't often use because, while everything in it looks so good, it's also real cooking that takes effort (and we've already established that I'm lazy). Allow me to present: Vegan with a Vengeance. (Some day I'll post the lemon cupcakes from this book. OMG, divine!)

I've been told that you can make a curry out of just about anything, and I believe it now. Dried beans, a can of tomatoes, frozen spinach, and some spices, and you're ready to rock.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry
1 (12 oz.) can peeled whole tomatoes (or a can of diced tomatoes works too)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 onion, diced (about 2 Cups)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh ginger, minced (or 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger)
3 teaspoons curry powder (or more, much more!)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (also called hing powder, optional)
3 cardamom pods (or 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom)
1 teaspoon salt
10 cups fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped (or 2-3 packets frozen spinach, thawed and drained)
4 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

If using dried chickpeas, soak 2 dry cups overnight in enough water to cover them by several inches. The next day, rinse well, and boil in about 6 cups of water for 2 hours. Check for softness to ensure they're done.

Open the can of tomatoes, and making sure to save the juice, take each tomato and tear it into bite-size pieces. Set them aside in a bowl.

Heat a medium saucepan over moderate heat, add the vegetable oil and the mustard seeds, and let the seeds pop for about a minute, covered so they don't jump out. Add the onion and sauté for 5-7 minutes, or until the onions turn brown. Add the garlic and ginger, and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add the other spices and 1/4 cup of the tomato juice you saved. Cook for another minute, then add in the tomatoes. When the tomatoes are heated through, add the fresh spinach a handful at a time and cook until wilted (or just add your thawed, drained, frozen spinach). The mixture should be a liquidy - add more tomato juice if not. Add the chickpeas. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir every now and then, and adjust the spices as desired. Remove the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and stewlike.

Wow, that's a horrible-looking stovetop. Color me ashamed.

I added several times the amount of curry powder called for, and frankly I could have handled hotter, so when you're making this, be certain to taste it often to adjust how you like your curry to taste. In actuality, I added extra of pretty much every spice, and I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I enjoyed this over warm rice, and it was extremely satisfying.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Simple Pinto Bean Soup

So, I haven't had a chance to buy fresh groceries in awhile. Luckily for me, however, I usually remember to stock up on canned beans, and I had some in the pantry. Here's a quick and hearty soup recipe using my favorite inexpensive ethical protein source.

Pinto Bean Soup
1 can pinto beans (or any other variety, or 2 Cups beans soaked and cooked yourself)
3 and 1/2 Cups water
1 Tablespoon flour (bean flour, wheat flour, or any other grain flour)
2 cubes vegetable bullion
To taste: salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, basil, oregano, sage, and thyme.

Pour the beans and water into a medium saucepan. Add all the other ingredients. You might have to work to make the flour dissolve completely. Bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. That's it!

The seasonings are key here. I admit it, beans can be pretty boring by themselves. So be sure to taste it as you go, and get it to your liking. Mine was missing something until I started playing with spices. Thyme heals everything....

If you want your soup to be thicker, add more flour. If you want a little more spice to it, use some red pepper. You can add a second can of beans, or take any other vegetables, cook (or microwave) them until they're soft, and add them in. Some crusty French bread would compliment this soup very well. There are countless ways you could experiment with this, so have fun!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Loaded Baked Potato

Nothing like a steaming hot baked potato topped with loads of stuff!

Yes, there is a vegan version of all that good stuff, including sour cream, butter, bacon bits, and even cheddar cheese shreds!

My recommedations for brands:
Of course load that puppy up with salt and pepper and DIG IN!
I ate mine too quickly to snap a picture. Maybe next time, because there will be a next time!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rice Crispy Treats

These are very quick and easy!
  • 1 10oz bag vegan marshmallows (Dandies worked perfect!)
  • 1/4 cup vegan margarine
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 cups rice crispy cereal
  • Optional - chocolate chips

To make:
In large pan heat the margarine until melted on low heat. Add marshmallows and allow them to fully melt. This part takes a while, but they will eventually melt!

Remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Fold in the cereal. Pour into a 11x9 pan and squish down with a lightly oiled spatula. Let cool.

Voila! Yummy! And just so you know, you can eat a whole pan of these and not get a stomach ache...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Easy Potluck Pasta

This is my favorite dish to bring to potlucks because it is fast and easy to make, I usually have the ingredients on hand, it can be easily doubled, you can add any veggies you want, and pick any kind of pasta you have on hand. It's also a favorite of my omnivore friends which is always a big plus.

  • 1 (12-13 oz.) box of pasta (I used whole wheat penne, but I also like using elbow macaroni noodles. Pick your favorite.)
  • 1 jar of your favorite red pasta sauce (organic is always best)
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes or 2-3 medium to large tomatoes chopped up
  • 1 large zucchini chopped
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • half bag of Boca brand crumbles
  • 1/2 container of tofutti sour cream (or any other vegan sour cream)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for pan
  • *optional: shredded vegan mozzarella cheese

  • Brown the boca crumbles in a little bit of olive oil in a medium sized pot.
  • Add chopped onion, zucchini, and carrot to pot.
  • Continue to heat until the vegetables start to soften.
  • Add the jar of pasta sauce and the can of diced tomatoes. (or fresh tomatoes)
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes or more with lid on, until its nice and tasty. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Boil the noodles for 5 minutes ONLY! They will continue to cook in the oven and you don't want them to become soft and mushy.
  • Drain the noodles and add them to the pasta sauce mixture. Stir well and pour the entire mixture into a medium to large casserole dish or you can leave it in your pot if it is oven safe.
  • Spoon the sour cream into your pasta mixture. Stir it only slightly, you want to leave it clumpy in some areas.
  • Optional: Top with shredded vegan mozzarella cheese.
  • Cover and put into oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until bubbly.
~amber <3

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Sweet Microwave Cornbread

What's cheap, tasty, and amazingly easy to make? Cornbread! This recipe appeared in the book Vegan Lunch Box, submitted by the Vegetarian Network of Austin. Corn bread is one 'bread' that works particularly well in the microwave, so I modified it to cater to my lazy side.

Sweet (microwave) Cornbread
2/3 Cup maple syrup
1/3 Cup canola oil
2/3 Cup non-dairy milk
1 Cup flour
1 Cup cornmeal
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

In separate bowls, mix the wet ingredients together and the dry ingredients together. Combine, and mix well. Pour into a round glass dish and microwave on high for 8 minutes. (Use a dish that has no handles - the batter will not cook evenly in a dish with handles. If you don't have a uniformly round dish, then add another 1/3 Cup of non-dairy milk to the batter and bake for 35 minutes at 350 F.)

Serve warm with your favorite vegan margarine and enjoy!