Meatless Monday – Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce (v,gf)

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THIS IS SERIOUSLY GOOD! Low Carb + High Protein + Spicy Peanut Sauce = #NeedWeSayMore  It’s the perfect balance of hot and cold, savory and sweet, crisp and tender.  The tofu, mushroom and water chestnut combination is really flavorful, picking up the garlic and ginger flavors, with the soy adding a pleasant saltiness. The beauty of tofu is that it is so bland on it’s own that it absorbs flavors very easily.  Spoon the yummy filling into crisp lettuce cups and top with chopped peanuts, slivered scallions, chopped red pepper and a drizzle of spicy peanut sauce for a delicious and healthy meal.

IMG_20190918_195507I originally blogged this recipe in 2016 and decided to circle back and test my own recipe.  I was also craving lettuce wraps.  Well the wraps were just as good as I remembered but I made a few changes. (I rarely make the same exact thing twice) and I thought the blog post itself could use an update. So here goes…  I added chopped criminy mushrooms to the tofu mixture which increased the depth of flavors.  I also chopped toppings smaller and fairly uniform in size which made it easier to eat.  AND I simplified the spicy peanut sauce, no pans, just a bowl and a spoon.  Sometimes less is more.  I like it even better and it’s easier…

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I like setting all the toppings up as a ‘bar’ for serving so that people can design their own plate. The photo is obviously from the ‘old’ post but you get the idea.

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The tofu mixture is really flavorful.  I could eat it on it’s own or over rice with a fork or chopsticks (which makes a great lunch), but when wrapped in a fresh, crispy lettuce leaf and topped with veggies, jalapenos and peanut sauce – yum!

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So what’s the deal with water chestnuts?  They are a staple in many Chinese dishes, and I have always thought of them as filler or meat extender, but are they good for you? It turns out, yes.  Water Chestnuts have zero fat and cholesterol and, at 60 calories per cup, are low in calories and sodium but they provide a wealth of nutrients for such an unassuming vegetable. They contain essential vitamins like Vitamin B-6 which supports healthy brain and immune system function, and thiamin and riboflavin which help your body convert food into energy. They are also a good source of potassium, copper and manganese.  As a bonus, water chestnuts  are a nonstarchy vegetable that helps keep you feeling full longer.  So combining a protein, like tofu, with chopped water chestnuts goes way beyond increasing the quantity of food. It adds a pleasant texture, increases the nutritional value AND helps keep your belly full and happy.

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TIPS:  I love homemade dressings and sauces.  This is a good homemade peanut sauce which is also fairly easy to make, however, there are many good brands of peanut sauce available in stores if you are pressed for time or you just can’t be bothered to make your own.  Or use a hoisin or soy ginger sauce that you already have in your pantry.  Sriracha is another good topping for those that like extra spicy food.

 

Don’t skip the step of pressing the water out of the tofu.  If the tofu is wet, the garlic and ginger flavors won’t be absorbed. Drained tofu will soak in marinades like a sponge.  If you are in a rush, you can squeeze the tofu in several thicknesses of paper towels to get the excess water out.

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ASIAN TOFU LETTUCE WRAPS

1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
6-8oz mushrooms, (criminy, shiitake or white)
1-2 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 head Bibb,butter,iceberg or red leaf lettuce
2 green onions/scallions (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), (optional)
1 small cucumber (optional)
1 small red bell pepper or carrot(optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

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  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 15 or 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally to squeeze out excess water. Change paper towels if they get too wet. (Do not skip this step – at least 5 minutes while you’re chopping veggies)img_20190918_185622-e1568929264747.jpg
  • Chop sliced water chestnuts and set aside.

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  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp paper towel and chop. Set aside.

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  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.

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  • Slice green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)

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  • Chop all vegetable toppings, red pepper, cucumber, jalapeno and place in small bowls for serving

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  • Roughly chop peanuts if you are using

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  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts, mushrooms and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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  • Add soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes, if using. Sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more, if needed.  Turn off heat and set aside.

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  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.

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SPICY PEANUT SAUCE

3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1+ tsp chili garlic or hoisin sauce
1 Tbsn brown sugar
1 Tbsn soy sauce or gluten free liquid aminos
1 Tbsn lime juice
1/4 cup warm water

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  • Combine all ingredients except for the water and stir with a whisk. Taste and add more chili garlic sauce, sugar or lime as desired.

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  • Add water one tablespoon at a time until the peanut sauce is just thin enough to drizzle.  If it gets too thin, stir in a little more peanut butter. Pour into a small serving bowl.  Makes about a half cup.

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Asian Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 block extra firm tofu
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
6-8oz mushrooms, (criminy, shiitake or white)
1-2 Tbsn sesame oil
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free liquid amino acids)
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste)
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 head Bibb,butter,iceberg or red leaf lettuce
2 green onions/scallions (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or parsley), (optional)
1 small cucumber (optional)
1 small red bell pepper or carrot(optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)

  • Crumble tofu and spread it in a single layer on several layers of paper towels and cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 20 minutes, pressing down occasionally.
  • Chop water chestnuts and set aside
  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel and chop, set aside
  • Separate whole lettuce leaves and rinse each leaf under cold water, pat with papertowels and let dry.
  • Chop veggies you are using for toppings (red pepper, cucumber etc) and put them in small serving bowls
  • Slice green onion into a thin julienne using a grater, mandolin or food processor (or with an old fashioned knife)
  • Roughly chop peanuts
  • Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add tofu crumbles, water chestnuts, mushrooms and garlic; sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté a few minutes. Taste and add more if needed. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • To serve, fill a lettuce leaf with a scoop of tofu mixture and top with veggies, cilantro and green onions, as desired, and drizzle with spicy peanut sauce.

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3 Tbsn creamy peanut butter
1+ tsp chili garlic or hoisin sauce
1 Tbsn brown sugar
1 Tbsn soy sauce or gluten free liquid aminos
1 Tbsn lime juice
1/4 cup warm water

  • Combine all ingredients except for the water and stir with a whisk. Taste and add more chili garlic sauce, sugar or lime as desired.
  • Add water one tablespoon at a time until the peanut sauce is just thin enough to drizzle.  If it gets too thin, stir in a little more peanut butter.
  • Pour into a small serving bowl.  Makes about a half cup.

Meatless Monday – Beet Veggie Burgers with Pickled Onions

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What is more American than a juicy burger, except for maybe baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, and I would argue about that… Well these burgers may not be traditional in that they are plant based, primarily quinoa and pinto beans and they get their lovely color from raw shredded beets, but they can definitely go head to head with a beef burger.  I thought these were really good, especially with the pickled red onions, butter lettuce, a little avocado, mustard and mayo, boom!  I could eat these once a week!

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I found this recipe in the Hannaford fresh Magazine, May – June 2019 this summer and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.  I have always liked veggie burgers, not because I miss meat, but because there is something so iconic about eating a burger.  It’s the ultimate comfort food. (Sorry mac and cheese)  I was immediately intrigued by the addition of raw shredded beet in this recipe. You may have tried the increasingly popular Beyond Meat Burger which is entirely plant based and gets its red coloring from beet juice which is what piqued my interest in this recipe.  Beyond Beef is a very good beef replacement but I’m not sure where regular people go about getting pea protein isolate so… that’s where this recipe comes in. These burgers are packed with protein provided by both the pinto beans and quinoa with smoked paprika and other spices to make a really delicious burger which is easy to make.   Plus homemade is best!
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…And the magic ingredient is beets!  In spite of their homely external appearance, once peeled they are beautiful and vibrant jewel tones, proving the old adage that beauty is on the inside. In addition to providing the gorgeous red color in these burgers, beets are a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals including vitamin C and iron.  One word of caution though, beet juice stains anything porous so use a ceramic cutting board or a plate when peeling.  I used my cuisinart for shredding which worked pretty well although it looked a bit like a bloodbath.
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I like to set up a burger bar so people can make their own.  This time, I set out pickled onion, avocado, dill pickles, butter lettuce and the usual condiments.  The pickled onion is a fun touch but completely optional.  Pickling red onions in half rice wine vinegar and half water softens their texture and sharpness.  It becomes a whole new vegetable!
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TIPS:  This recipe takes under 30 minutes if you are efficient, including quinoa cooking time.  Using leftover quinoa, or making it ahead, is even faster.  It does recommend refrigerating patties for a half hour before cooking to firm them up but this step can be skipped if you are pressed for time. This recipe can be made gluten free by using gluten free panko.  It can be made vegan by using an egg replacer or flaxseed combined with water. Use 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal to 3 tablespoons of water for one egg.  The original recipe called for 1 cup chopped walnuts but I am allergic, so I skipped it altogether.  I don’t feel the recipe needed it but feel free to add walnuts for more heft and protein.
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BEET VEGGIE BURGERS
1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded red beet (1 small beet)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
4 tsp. olive oil
6 hamburger buns
1/2 -1 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional-see Tips above)
PICKLED RED ONION (Optional)
1 small red onion
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
  • Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa according to directions.  Pour into a large bowl to cool.

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  • While quinoa is cooking, thinly slice red onion and place in a bowl with rice vinegar and water. Cover and refrigerate until burgers are ready for serving.

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  • Mash pinto beans with a wooden spoon until mostly broken down but not completely smooth and add to quinoa.

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  • Peel raw beet with a sharp knife on a plate to save your cutting board from staining.  Shred or grate in a food processor, mandolin or box grater. Add to quinoa mixture.

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  • Add breadcrumbs, egg, garlic powder, salt, and paprika and mix until well combined.

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  • Form mixture into six thick patties and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (You may be able to skip this step if you are in a hurry)

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  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add three patties and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and patties.

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  • Place cooked patties in buns and serve with pickled red onions and your other favorite toppings.

Beet Veggie Burger

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 (15-oz.) can pinto beans(drained and rinsed)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa (1/2 cup uncooked)
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded red beet (1 small)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. smoked paprika
4 tsp. olive oil
6 hamburger buns
1/2 -1 cup finely chopped walnuts(optional-see Tips)
PICKLED RED ONION (Optional)
1 small red onion
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup water
  • Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa according to directions.  Pour into a large bowl to cool.
  • While quinoa is cooking, thinly slice red onion and place in a bowl with rice vinegar and water. Cover and refrigerate until burgers are ready for serving.
  • Mash pinto beans with a wooden spoon until mostly broken down but not completely smooth and add to quinoa.
  • Peel raw beet with a sharp knife on a plate to save your cutting board from staining.  Shred or grate in a food processor, mandolin or box grater. Add to quinoa mixture.
  • Add breadcrumbs, egg, garlic powder, salt, and paprika and mix until well combined.
  • Form mixture into six thick patties and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes. (You may be able to skip this step if you are in a hurry)
  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add three patties and cook until browned, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and patties.
  • Place cooked patties in buns and serve with pickled red onions and your other favorite toppings.

Easy No Peel Applesauce

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It’s that time of year!  It’s Apple Harvest and time to share my recipe for the easiest applesauce recipe ever, perfect for even the laziest of cooks.  This is my most googled recipe with over 7000 hits since its original posting in 2015, most of them in September and October.  With that kind of love, I thought it time to share again.  Now, I’m off to go pick some apples…

Every year, after the apple pies are baked and enjoyed, I make applesauce with all the rest of the apples from my garden. Of course it’s usually just in time for Hanukkah which means yummy latkes with applesauce and sour cream. Making applesauce is pretty easy but peeling the apples is very tedious and time consuming, so this year I decided to try leaving the peels on. Okay, I’ll admit it, I got lazy, but it worked out for the best. I LOVE this applesauce and it is so easy! It’s got a richer and creamier texture AND it’s more nutritious since most of the nutients and fiber are in or right under the peel which is usually removed and thrown away. Win! Win!  For best results use a combination of both sweet and tart apples.  Fuji, Red Delicious, Pink Lady and Golden Delicious apples are sweeter in taste, while Granny Smith and Pippin apples add a nice tartness.

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Applesauce is a favorite snack for little kids in particular.  The healthiest applesauce is made from organic apples with the skin on and no added sugar. Apples are one fruit in which you can’t wash off the pesticides, so buying organic apples is especially important if you don’t have your own apple trees. Apples are a great source of natural fiber and vitamin C.  The pulp and skin of apples contain flavonoids, which offer numerous health benefits; reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure. The phytonutrients in apples work as antioxidants to support your heart and helping to lower your bad cholesterol levels.  My weight concious readers will like to hear that eating applesauce can also decrease your risk of developing abdominal fat. Studies show that the pectin in apples suppresses your appetite.  So what are you waiting for?

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Just core the apples, either with a sharp knife or with an apple corer, then cut the apples, peels and all, into slices or chunks. Simmer with a bit of water, lemon juice and a couple of cinnamon sticks until soft. Taste and add sugar if desired. Depending on the apples, it may not need any. Then remove the cinnamon sticks and process the apple mixture until smooth in a blender or food processor. The applesauce can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or placed in plastic freezer bags and frozen. It can also be canned while hot. Click HERE for directions from Bell on canning hot applesauce.

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Of course, my favorite way to emjoy applesauce is on top of crispy potato pancakes (latkes) with sour cream.  Click HERE for my yummy Latke Recipe.

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EASY NO-PEEL APPLESAUCE

6 lbs apples (about a dozen large)
1 lemon (or 1/4 cup)
2 cinnamon sticks optional
1 cup water

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  • Core apples and slice or cut into chunks.  Place in a large stockpot. Pour water and lemon juice over the top.

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  • Add two cinnamon sticks (or ground cinnamon to taste).  Cover and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes.  If it starts to stick, add a bit more water but not too much.

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  • When apples are completely soft and falling apart, remove cinnamon sticks and process apples in a food processor or blender until smooth.

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  • For a chunkier applesauce, use a potato masher.

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  • Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

 

Easy No-Peel Applesauce

  • Servings: 6 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 

EASY NO-PEEL APPLESAUCE20151206_170305

6 lbs apples (about a dozen large)
1 lemon (or 1/4 cup)
2 cinnamon sticks optional
1 cup water

  • Core apples and slice or cut into chunks.  Place in a large stockpot.
  • Pour water and lemon juice over the top.
  • Add two cinnamon sticks (or ground cinnamon to taste).  Cover and simmer for about 30 to 45 minutes.  If it starts to stick, add a bit more water but not too much.
  • When apples are completely soft and falling apart, remove cinnamon sticks and process apples in a food processor or blender until smooth.
  • For a chunkier applesauce, use a potato masher.
  • Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

 

Meatless Monday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

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When I made this the first time, I declared it a place where meat lovers and vegans can co-exist in happiness.  I just made it again and I still agree. Here is a  ‘steak’ a meat lover will find tasty and satisfying while a vegetarian will be in raptures…  It takes less than 30 minutes and will not disapoint.    Last time, I served the tofu steaks with brown rice and broccoli with a healthy dose of chimichurri over everything which was hearty and satisfying.  This time, I served with a simple salad of lettuces and edible flowers that I had just picked from my garden.  It’s a hot day so it was perfect.

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Each tofu steak is a hefty seven ounces although my husband has a hearty appetite and usually eats his and goes back for seconds, so I need to use two blocks of tofu if I’m serving a large eater.  I also like to make sure there are leftovers for lunch.  Its really good cold too. The tofu is first brushed with a spicy and savory marinade and then pan seared and topped with a fresh and zesty chimichurri sauce, a South and Latin American condiment that is loaded with chili peppers, fresh herbs and garlic.  Chimichurri is good on almost anything and it can be made spicy or mild depending on your taste, which is why its so popular.  Originating in Argentina, it is commonly used to top grilled steak, which is one reason it’s so good on this dish.

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Even though the tofu should be allowed to drain for about 10 minutes, this recipe still takes less than 30 minutes.  Just slice the tofu and let it drain.  While it’s draining, prepare the chimichurri sauce and the marinade.  Using a food processor for the shimichurri sauce saves time and results in a smoother sauce.  Brush the tofu with the marinade and let sit while you prepare the rice or other veggies you’re serving.  The tofu only takes about 6 minutes to cook.  Easy, fast, delicious!

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Tofu steaks can be cut in two sizes, depending on preferences.  One block serves two people, unless you have someone with a large appetite, in which you can double the recipe.  I loved the thickness (about one inch) of the steaks and my husband loved the size (7 oz each).  Tofu is normally cut into thinner slices or cubes so this is a nice difference. The outside was so flavorful and the inside had a wonderful creamy consistency that you don’t get with thinner pieces.  For 7 oz steaks, stand the tofu on end and slice vertically to get two one inch thick pieces. For 3.5 oz steaks, cut each half in half. Pictured below.

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TOFU ‘STEAKS’ WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

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  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes. Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.

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  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. For a finer sauce, pulse in food processor.

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  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Marinade should be fairly thick and pasty. Set aside.

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  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.

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  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.

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  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

Tofu Steaks with Chimichurri Sauce

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TOFU STEAKS WITH CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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15 – 16 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 cup avocado oil (or other high heat oil)
1 bunch broccolini(optional)
1 cup brown rice (optional)

Tofu Marinade:
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh oregano, finely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1 fresh red chili pepper, seeded and minced (or 1 tsp dried hot pepper flakes-or both)

  •  Drain tofu and stand it on it’s end and cut in half vertically on the narrow side so you end up with two wide one inch slices.  Place tofu on double thick paper towels and top with another paper towel and place something heavy (like a cast iron pan) on top to help press out the water.  Let sit at least 10 minutes.  Tofu can be cut into 7 oz or 3/5 oz ‘steaks’.  See TIPS.
  • Mix all Chimichurri ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.  If you prefer a smoother sauce, pulse in the food processor.
  • Combine tofu marinade ingredients and brush them onto tofu covering top, bottom and all sides.  Set aside.
  • If you are serving with rice, get it started.  If you are preparing a vegetable, like baby broccolini, heat 2-3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy skillet and saute broccolini with some chopped garlic, 8 to 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Remove from pan and tent with foil or cover and use a new pan for the tofu.
  • Add more oil to the pan if necessary, or use a grill pan or grill, and heat on medium high until almost smoking.  Add tofu and cook 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  • Turn and cook the other side another 3-4 minutes.
  • Serve with a big spoonful of chimichurri sauce.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (vegan, gf)

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Perfect for Game Time!  Right now we have basketball and hockey playoffs – right in the middle of baseball season.  These buffalo cauliflower bites are a crowd pleasing snack that is a twist on the traditional buffalo wings but without the chicken.  They are not meant to taste like chicken but they do taste pretty good. It’s really all about the buffalo sauce. This is a fun recipe that can cater to various tastes and dietary needs.  In my house, we have vegetarian (me) plus gluten free and dairy free omnivores.  Everyone was happy.

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I posted a recipe for Buffalo Wings Two Ways five or six years ago just before I stopped eating chicken.  It included a recipe for both chicken and cauliflower ‘wings’.  I decided to circle back and improve on the cauliflower recipe and try to give it more of a coating for the buffalo sauce to stick to.  We (me and my test kitchen peeps) went through a few variations and methods but are satisfied with this final version.  Due to my gluten free people, I used half almond meal and gluten free panko instead of flour.  I was aiming for a thicker and crisper crust.  Using white flour or gluten free white flour will result in a lighter crust which some people might prefer.  You can also use a whole grain flour like white whole wheat flour for a few extra nutrients or crushed breadcrumbs for some crunch. Any combination of flour and breadcrumbs will work as well.

20161025_160100 Why cauliflower?  For me the biggest reason is because its not chicken and I still get to have the buffalo sauce. 😉  For everyone else, cauliflower is a chameleon that can become whatever you want it to be.  It’s mild nature allows it to absorb flavors and it can be grated and formed into a multitude of carb free and gluten free foods;  rice, mashed potatoes, pizza crust, tortillas…  Cauliflower is not empty though in spite of its white color.  Its an excellent source of vitamin C and good source of B vitamins.  Click through for 18 Massive Benefits of Cauliflower

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BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES

  • 1 large head cauliflower (4-5 cups) 
  • 1 cup vegan milk or water
  • 3/4 cup flour/breadcrumbs (or almond meal, GF panko)*See TIPS.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cooking oil spray (optional)
  • 1 cup Buffalo Sauce(some use butter so check labels) 
  • 1/2 cup Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing (optional)
  • 1-2 cups carrot and celery sticks (optional)

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  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.Remove core and cut cauliflower into florets.  Cut the larger ones in half.

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  • In a medium bowl, stir together flour/bread mixture, garlic and onion powders, pepper and salt. Add milk and stir until smooth.  If it feels too thick (and its not sticking to the cauliflower), add more milk or water. Heavier flour mixtures may need more liquid.

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  • Using a fork, dip the cauliflower florets into the batter to fully coat and place on the baking sheet. Don’t crowd them, or they will stick together. Spray with cooking oil (optional). Bake for 25 minutes.

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  • While the cauliflower are baking, prepare the veggies and dips

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  • Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven.  Using a fork, dip each floret into the buffalo sauce on each cauliflower bite and place back on the baking sheet.

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  • Bake for another 10- 20 minutes.  You can broil for a few minutes for a golden color but don’t take your eyes off of them. They should be tender but not soft.

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  • Serve with your chosen veggies, dressing and some extra buffalo sauce.

Tips:

I used half almond meal and half gluten free panko (as I was serving gluten free people) which made a nice crunchy coating, however, all purpose white flour is a little lighter.    Or feel free to use a combination of flours and breadcrumbs. I also found that dipping them individually into the batter provides better coverage than brushing or stirring them all together.  Dairy free people need to check labels to make sure the Buffalo Sauce doesn’t include butter.  I used Sweet Baby Rays which does not.

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES

  • 1 large head cauliflower (4-5 cups) 
  • 1 cup vegan milk or water
  • 3/4 cup flour/breadcrumbs (or almond meal, GF panko)*See TIPS.
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • cooking oil spray (optional)
  • 1 cup Buffalo Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing (optional)
  • 1-2 cups carrot and celery sticks (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Remove core and cut cauliflower into florets.  Cut the larger ones in half.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together flour/bread mixture, garlic and onion powders, pepper and salt.
  4. Add milk and stir until smooth.  If it feels too thick (and its not sticking to the cauliflower), add more milk or water. Heavier flour mixtures may need more liquid.
  5. Using a fork, dip the cauliflower florets into the batter to fully coat and place on the baking sheet. Don’t crowd them, or they will stick together.
  6. Spray with cooking oil (optional). Bake for 25 minutes.
  7. While the cauliflower are baking, prepare the veggies and dips (optional)
  8. Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven.  Using a fork (since they’re hot), dip each floret into the buffalo sauce on each cauliflower bite and place back on the baking sheet.
  9. Bake for another 10- 20 minutes.  You can broil for a few minutes for a golden color but don’t take your eyes off of them. They should be tender but not soft.
  10. Serve with your chosen veggies, dressing and some extra buffalo sauce.

Tips:

I used half almond meal and half gluten free panko (as I was serving gluten free people) which made a nice crunchy coating, however, all purpose white flour is a little lighter.  Or feel free to use a combination of flours and breadcrumbs.  I also found that dipping them individually into the batter provides better coverage than brushing or stirring them all together. Dairy free people need to check labels to make sure the Buffalo Sauce doesn’t include butter.  I used Sweet Baby Rays which does not.

Meatless Monday – Vegetable Paella (Vegan)

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Paella is a beautiful dish worthy of a party or gathering.  This one is loaded with fresh veggies instead of traditional Spanish ingredients, usually a combination of meats and seafood.  My veggie recipe retains the usual flavors, smoked paprica, saffron and Spanish rice but in lieu of the meats, I added artichoke, eggplant, mushrooms and fennel, and topped with roasted red peppers and capers.  Simply Delicious!

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Paella is not as hard as it’s reputation leads us to believe.  Its not like risotto which has to be constantly stirred and fussed over.  In fact, paella should be minimally disturbed after the first few minutes and if you have done it correctly, a golden crust will form on the bottom, called the socarrat, from the Spanish word “socarrar,” which means “to toast lightly,”. Once the paella is done, it can sit covered off the heat and wait until you’re ready to serve.  I used several canned items, partially as a shortcut and because some things are not in season right now.  I used fresh fennel and trumpet mushrooms (because they are available now) and fresh eggplant. I also used jarred capers, roasted red peppers and canned baby artichokes which are already fairly soft, so I added them in near the end.

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I love this combination of textures and flavors.  It turned out quite pretty and colorful.  You can substitute any vegetables that you like, just keep in mind how long they need to cook and plan accordingly.  I also used a vegan chorizo that I have had good luck with recently.  It’s made from vital wheat gluten so not gluten free but pretty tasty and combines nicely with the saffron and smoked paprika.  This ingredient is optional though.  I would like the dish either way. Some people don’t enjoy substitute meats for a variety of reasons but I like to promote those companies who are making their way into the vegan food industry. The more good products available, the better they get and the less meat people will eat.  Win win!

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TIPS:  I have a giant paella pan which was relatively inexpensive but for this recipe, I used a 12 inch cast iron pan.  It was fairly full but worked fine for the quantities.  You could use a pan a couple of inches larger and it should turn out well.  Don’t be tempted to use aromatic rices like jasmine or basmati as they don’t soak up the flavors properly and some of the long grained rices don’t have the proper texture.

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VEGETABLE PAELLA

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz vegan chorizo (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced
  • 14 oz can baby artichokes (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms (crimini, shitake or trumpet)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups bomba, arborio or valencia rice
  • 1-2 Tbsn capers, drained
  • 1 roasted, marinated red pepper, cut into strips
  • fresh parsley or thyme for garnish (optional)

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Vegetable Paella

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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VEGETABLE PAELLA

  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz vegan chorizo (optional)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1 large bulb fennel, sliced
  • 14 oz can baby artichokes (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 large Japanese eggplant, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms (crimini, shitake or trumpet)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 1/4 cups arborio or valencia rice
  • 1-2 Tbsn capers, drained
  • 1 roasted, marinated red pepper, cut into strips
  • fresh parsley or thyme for garnish (optional)