Meatless Monday – Barbecue Pulled “Pork” Sliders with Spicy Slaw (Vegan)

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If you LOVE carnitas or pulled pork but want to pass on the meat, try this vegan version made with hearts of palm  I know, it sounds implausible, but it’s really good and the texture is very similar to pulled pork but without the calories and the guilt. Piled high on a fresh slider bun and dripping with barbecue sauce, this pulled ‘pork’ is pretty delicious.  You don’t miss the meat!  It’s really all about the barbecue sauce, so choose wisely.  You can go spicy, mild or sweet.  The recipe below is for a slightly spicy barbecue sauce.  You can also use a store-bought sauce and doctor it up with a bit of spices or hot sauce if need be.

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Pulled pork is often served with coleslaw whose cool and crispy tangyness is the perfect accompaniment to the warm and spicy filling.  My husband really dislikes creamy foods, so I made a mustard and vinegar based slaw instead of a creamy one with mayo.  This slaw is fresh and a bit spicy with cabbage, carrots, cilantro and red onions with thinly sliced hot chili peppers to give it some pizzaz.  Or you can be a purist and just go ‘meat’ and bun… Yes, that is really hearts of palm.

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So what is hearts of palm and how does it add up from a nutritional standpoint? Hearts of Palm is harvested from the inner, less fibrous, part of various palm trees, most commonly the cabbage palm.  Nutritionally, it’s extremely low in calories, weighing in at only 41 calories per cup(146 grams). It is also very low in Cholesterol and a good source of Protein (four grams in one cup), Riboflavin and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper and Manganese. Whew! Even though I have always liked hearts of palm, I thought they were fairly empty calories, so this was a pleasant surprise. I will definitely be tossing them into more salads and maybe even on the barbecue or in casseroles.  Stay tuned…

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I have been wanting to try a version of this recipe for a while.  I’m not sure where I saw the idea for the first time (probably on Pinterest) but I adapted this recipe from Blissful Basil although she used canned jackfruit which I have heard is also a good shredded pork/carnitas substitute but I have never seen jackfruit in grocery stores around me.

TIPS:  An easy short cut is to use  a 16 oz bag of pre-shredded slaw mix which is available in most grocery stores instead of shredding all the veggies yourself.  Add a prepared sauce and dinner is practically done!

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BARBECUE PULLED ‘PORK’ SLIDERS WITH SPICY SLAW

2 Tbsn olive oil
1  large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 oz) cans of hearts of palm
1 1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce (Homemade or Prepared)
8 slider buns

HOMEMADE BARBECUE SAUCE
2 small cans tomato paste + one cup of water(or 2 cans tomato sauce)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 Tbsn brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder(or more)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or hot sauce (or more)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

SPICY SLAW
2 cups shredded cabbage (green or purple or both)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice from one lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1//4 tsp pepper

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  • Combine cabbage, carrots, peppers, cilantro and scallions in a medium serving bowl.  Whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and pour over slaw.  Toss to combine and set aside.

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  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy pan (preferably one that can go into the oven) over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (5-7 minutes).

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  • Drain the hearts of palm and shred using your hands or a knife.

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  • Add hearts of palm to the pan with the onions and garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes.

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  • If making homemade sauce, combine barbecue sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Start with only one tablespoon of brown sugar.  Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir the barbecue sauce and one cup vegetable broth (or water)into the hearts of palm mixture. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally to get the browned bits off the bottom.  You can use a wooden spoon to break up the hearts of palm a bit more. If it gets dry add water or vegetable broth.

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  • Continue to simmer with the lid off for for another 10 or 15 minutes or place in a 350 degree oven to brown.

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  • Fill each of the buns with generous spoonfuls of  barbecue mixture and spicy slaw.  Top with pickles.

BBQ 'Pork' Sliders with Spicy Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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2 Tbsn olive oil
1  large onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14 oz) cans of hearts of palm
1 1/2 cup Barbecue Sauce (Homemade or Prepared)
8 slider buns

HOMEMADE BARBEQUE SAUCE
2 small cans tomato paste + 1 cup water(or 2 cans tomato sauce)
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 Tbsn brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp chili powder(or more)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper or hot sauce (or more)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

SPICY SLAW
2 cups shredded cabbage (green or purple or both)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers, thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
juice from one lemon
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1//4 tsp pepper

  • Combine cabbage, carrots, peppers, cilantro and scallions in a medium serving bowl.  Whisk together the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and pour over slaw.  Toss to combine and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy pan (preferably one that can go into the oven) over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until tender (5-7 minutes).Drain the hearts of palm and shred using your hands or a knife.
  • Add hearts of palm to the pan with the onions and garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes.
  • If making homemade sauce, combine barbecue sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Start with only one tablespoon of brown sugar. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • Stir the barbecue sauce and one cup vegetable broth (or water)into the hearts of palm mixture. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally to get the browned bits off the bottom.  You can use a wooden spoon to break up the hearts of palm a bit more. If it gets dry add water or vegetable broth.
  • Continue to simmer with the lid off for for another 10 or 15 minutes or place in a 350 degree oven to brown.
  • Fill each of the buns with generous spoonfuls of  barbecue mixture and spicy slaw.  Top with pickles.
 

Mexican Trio – Fish Tacos, Chile Rellenos & Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

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Monday is Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration which many Americans have wholeheartedly adopted. I mean who’s going to pass up an opportunity to legitimately drink margaritas and salsa dance on a Monday? (Stay tuned, I promise a recipe for the World’s Best Margaritas and easy ‘homemade’ tortilla chips on Friday). I have always focused on the wonderful Mexican food and cervezas without knowing much about the holiday itself, other than knowing cinco de Mayo means fifth of May in Spanish. It is a celebration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, in which the Mexican military was victorious over the French in 1862. The victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination.  Read more at Enclyopaedia Britannica.

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In honor of this Mexican holiday, I am presenting a trio of Mexican goodies to include in your celebration next week. They are all wheat free,  gluten free, and vegetarian, with the exception of the fish tacos. The fish tacos are made with roasted halibut, spiced with ancho chili, garlic and cumin, then topped with a  creamy, lime coleslaw.   If you don’t like creamy dressings, you can omit the sour cream/yogurt and mayo and substitute olive or avocado oil and vinegar for a fresh, zesty coleslaw.  My coleslaw turned out a glorious pink color.  The more red cabbage you use, the darker purple it will get.  I try to buy fresh fish that is live caught (rather than farmed) and sustainably fished.  Good choices are mahi mahi and halibut but any mild, white fish will work. Seafood Watch is a good source of information on selecting sustainable seafood.

I (with the direction able assistance of my son, Eric) made corn tortillas for the first time and it wasn’t a difficult as I thought it was going to be.  If you don’t want to go to the trouble, you can find many very good store bought tortillas that are labeled organic (meaning non GMO). My favorites are organic, whole grain Taco Sliders by Mi Rancho.  They are also the perfect size (4 1/2 inch round) for taco appetizers or mini quesadillas.

I fondly remember my Mom making chili rellenos when I was a kid, using canned chilis, stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried.  Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  This updated version includes fresh poblano peppers, not fried but roasted and stuffed with jalapenos and various cheeses topped with fresh tomatoes, cilantro and lime.   We rounded out the meal with a Black Bean and Mango salad tossed with a dollap of homemade  avocado ranch dressing. Yum!

Spicy Fish Tacos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 pounds halibut(or other mild white fish), skinned, and cut into 4 to 6 pieces
3 Tbsn chili powder
1 teaspoon(s) ground cumin
1/2  tsp cayenne pepper(or more to taste)
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsn lime juice
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 teaspoon(s) salt
 
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  • Combine chili powder, cayenne, cumin, garlic lime juice, oil and salt in a gallon zip lock baggie and shake to combine.
  • Add fish and allow it to marinate for 20 minutes or so.

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  • When ready, broil fish for 4 or 5 minutes per side, until fish flakes easily. (fish can also be cooked on the grill)
  • Break into pieces for serving, if desired.

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Coleslaw

3 cups red or green cabbage, finely shredded
2 Tbsn fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeno
1/4 cup sour cream or yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp lime zest
2 Tbsn lime juice
1 tsp sugar
2/3 tsp salt
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  • Combine all ingredients, except cabbage, jalapeno and cilantro, in a small bowl and stir until creamy.

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  • While wearing gloves, seed and mince jalapeno and add to cabbage and cilantro.

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  • Add creamy mixture to cabbage mixture and toss to combine.

Tortillas

If you are using pre-made tortillas, you can wrap stacks of 10 or 12 in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave for 30 seconds or so.  Or wrap them in foil and heat them in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.  Wrap them in a clean towel to keep warm.  If you are feeling industrious and want to make them yourself, here is how:

2 1/2 cups masa
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
 
 
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  • Combine all ingredients and form into a ball, kneading until it’s smooth.  It should be firm not sticky. It will not be elastic like a four dough.  Add water if it doesn’t form a ball or masa if it’s too sticky;.
  • For each tortilla, form a golf sized ball of dough and place it between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper and roll it into a flat circle with a rolling pin.  You can free form it or use an inverted  bowl as a ‘cookie cutter’.  A golf sized ball will yield a 5 or 6 inch tortilla.
 
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  • Cook tortillas in a dry (ungreased/ heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, for 1 or 2 minutes on each side over medium heat until there are several small brown spots.  Stack them as they are done and cover with foil or a clean dish towel.
 
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Chiles Rellenos

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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6 poblano peppers
1/2 small onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups shredded cheeses (jack, pepper jack, cheddar, parmigiano)
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
Salt

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoon(s) chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon(s) freshly squeezed lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper

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  • Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or under a broiler, turning occasionally, until they are charred all over.
  • Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool.  Peel. The skins will come off easily

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  • Using a small, sharp knife, make a small lengthwise slit in each one, near the stem end and carefully remove the core and seeds, leaving the stem on if possible.  If you accidently cut it off, you can add it back after the pepper has been stuffed.

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  •  Sauté the onion, garlic and jalapeño over medium heat, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Let cool, then add the cheese and chopped cilantro.
  • Carefully stuff the cheese filling into the poblanos and press the poblanos closed.

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  • Place the stuffed poblanos on a baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cheese is melted.
  • Combine tomatoe, cilantro, lime and salt in a small bowl.
  • Serve chile rellenos with tomato garnish.

 

Black Bean and Mango Salad with Avocado Ranch

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 head romaine
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh mango, diced
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
 
  • Chop romaine and top with beans, tomatoes, mango and avocado.
  • Dress with avocado ranch.

Avocado Ranch

1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley or cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsn apple cider or white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
  • Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally when needed. Thin with water if desired.

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