Meatless Monday – Tofu ‘Steaks’ with Chimichurri Sauce

0

20150427_194425

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.

IMG_20190605_182023_011IMG_20190605_193844

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.

20150423_191518

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!

20150427_194726

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.

20150427_175328

20150427_194405

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)

20150427_175328

  •  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.

20150423_175613

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

20150427_193741

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

20150423_190504

  • 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.

20150427_194131

  • 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.

20150423_191511

  • 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

 20150427_194425

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 “Chicken” Lettuce Wraps

2

20180523_123828

This is what happens when hot, crunchy ‘chicken’ tenders are wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves and topped with blue cheese, jalapenos, red onion and dill pickles, then drizzled with spicy buffalo sauce and cool ranch!  Mmmm… brings your game higher.  It’s easy because the crispy tenders are already done.  You just have to bake them for 16 to 20 minutes, assemble and go!  You get special bonus points when your tenders are vegan and guilt free like these from Gardein.  Did I mention that this is good ballgame food?

20180522_200546.jpg

I received a box of frozen goodies from the nice folks at Meatless Monday as a promotion for Gardein, a company that makes meat substitutes. In their words, “We are insanely passionate about helping the world eat less meat.” I was thrilled to see quite a nice sampling of veggie burgers, meatballs, chicken sliders, chicken strips and chicken tenders.  They were generous enough to send me about a dozen items. In return, I needed to come up with a recipe using one of their products.  I had never tried any of their products so this was going to be fun – I hoped.

20180522_190336

The 7 Grain Crispy Tenders was the first product I tried.  Wow, I really liked them!  I’m embarrassed to admit that somehow I ended up eating almost the whole bag.  I don’t usually love meat substitutes but in this case, I was sold.  My family, usually squeamish about food that is said with air quotes, also declared this a winner.  I actually caught my husband later, eating the tenders plain, right off the tray.  If that isn’t proof right there, I don’t know what is.

20180522_193333.jpg

 

So, what (might you ask) are the 7 grains and what are the tenders?  The tenders are primarily soy protein and vital wheat gluten with various whole grains, vegetable proteins and fibers, flavorings and spices.  The coating is a combination of enriched wheat flour, rice flour, oat bran, oats, quinoa flour, amaranth flour, millet flour and KAMUT® khorasan wheat. Two tenders are 100 calories and contain 8 grams of protein.  For more nutritional information click HERE  To find other great products made by Gardein click HERE  To get a $1 coupon for Gardein products, click HERE

20180522_192701

I based this recipe on the classic party food, buffalo chicken wings, and visualized these crispy vegan tenders inside crisp and clean lettuce cups with all the usual things you would find on a party tray, like blue cheese, carrots, pickles, jalapenos and of course, buffalo wing sauce and ranch.  I like to make a self-serve bar, so people can ‘decorate’ their plates as they wish.  Or you can make up a tray yourself.  Be forewarned that these are as messy as any lettuce cups and provide lots of napkins.

TIPS:  To make your prep even easier, pick up a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw and pre-crumbled blue cheese or pre-shredded pepper jack cheese, if using.  You may want to buy two heads of lettuce to ensure that you have enough large leaves and then use the smaller inside leaves for something else.  Pre-made buffalo sauce and ranch dressings are easy to find as well. 20180523_123828

Buffalo ‘Chicken’ Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 Tbsn olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1 12 oz package Gardein 7 Grain Chicken Tenders
  • 1 large head Boston or Red Leaf Lettuce (about 12 leaves)
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing (optional)

Suggested Toppings

  • 2 cups Shredded cabbage and carrot
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles or shredded pepper jack cheese
  • dill pickles, sliced or chopped or black olives, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

20180522_190705.jpg

  • Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil (optional, but made them really crispy)Place chicken tenders in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 16 to 18 minutes in a 430 degree oven.  Turn once halfway through.

20180522_190109.jpg

  • While the tenders are cooking, prepare your condiments and toppings.20180522_191108.jpg
  • Wash and shake lettuce dry.  Carefully remove whole leaves for serving.

20180522_193044

  • Remove tenders from oven and let cool slightly, serve whole or cut into thirds, then place on a serving tray if desired

20180522_193333

  • Place several tenders in a lettuce leaf and top with pickles, jalapenos, onion and cheese.  Drizzle with buffalo sauce and ranch dressing.

20180522_194547

 

 

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

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

 20180523_123828

  • 1 Tbsn olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1 12 oz package Gardein 7 Grain Chicken Tenders
  • 1 large head Boston or Red Leaf Lettuce (about 12 leaves)
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing (optional)

Suggested Toppings

  • 2 cups Shredded cabbage and carrot
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles or shredded pepper jack cheese
  • dill pickles, sliced or chopped or black olives, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  1. Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil (optional, but made them really crispy)
  2. Place chicken tenders in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 16 to 18 minutes in a 430 degree oven.  Turn once halfway through.
  3. While the tenders are cooking, prepare your condiments and toppings.
  4. Wash and shake lettuce dry.  Carefully remove whole leaves for serving.
  5. Remove tenders from oven and let cool slightly, serve whole or cut into thirds, then place on a serving tray if desired
  6. Place several tenders in a lettuce leaf and top with pickles, jalapenos, onion and cheese.  Drizzle with buffalo sauce and ranch dressing.

Mason Jar Veggie Pot Pies (Vegan)

6

 

20161030_202008

Pot pies are the ultimate in cold weather comfort foods and these mini pies baked into mason jars are adorably delicious and a festive, fun dinner or party idea.  They also made the house smell heavenly and feel warm and cozy on a dreary, rainy day.  These mini pies are filled with a savory blend of potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peas in a creamy vegan sauce made with veggie broth and almond milk. Mini pies are an easy way to make individual servings, especially for busy families who may not eat dinner at the same time.  This recipe makes eight individual pot pies so eat four now and freeze four for another meal (although my husband ate two, just FYI).

20161030_182005

The big decision is doing a top and bottom crust or just the top.  My Mom used to buy frozen pot pies for us and I clearly remember when Swanson switched to top crust only.  It was a huge let down for me, obviously as I still remember.  So I decided to do half with a bottom crust and half without.  My personal opinion is that the bottom crust is unnecessary in such a small pot pie and the bottomless pies have more savory filling.  So perhaps my tastes have changed over the years.

20161030_160912

TIPS:  There are several ways to take shortcuts when making pot pies.  The easiest is to start with a prepared crust, although for those that prefer to make their own, I like a recipe for White Whole Wheat Pie Crust from King Arthur Flour.  Incidentally, if you are using a prepared pie crust, the 2 crusts are enough dough for 8 top crusts and four bottoms. Another shortcut is to use frozen prechopped vegetables, Just saute for about 5 minutes before filling the pies. These veggie pot pies can be frozen before cooking and popped in the oven later.

20161030_181959

MASON JAR VEGGIE POT PIES

  • pie crust, enough for top and bottom of regular pie *see TIPS
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 Tbsn flour (0r 0ther thickener)
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp thyme + 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 6 large criminy or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 small egg, egg substitute, melted vegan butter or almond milk with a dash of agave (for eggwash)
  • 8 small mason jars and 1 lid (or ramekins)

20161030_170605

  • If you are using homemade pie crust, roll out dough to quarter inch thickness and cut into 8- 6 inch circles, if making a bottom crust. If you are using a prepared crust, cut one of the circles into quarters.

20161030_170937

  • Line mason jars with the dough, pressing with your fingers to spread or omit this step if just using top crust.

20161030_170307

  • Then using a mason jar lid, cut 8 circle toppers with the other crust.  Reserve remaining dough for garnish.

20161030_162631

 

 

  • Saute onion in olive oil for several minutes, then add celery and carrots and saute another five minutes.

20161030_163324

 

  • Stir in flour and slowly add broth, then the almond milk and simmer until it thickens another 5 minutes.  If it’s not as thick as you like, add another tablespoon flour (best done by dissolving in water first to prevent lumps).  If you like a creamier sauce, use a larger proportion of almond milk.

20161030_163932

  • Add potatoes and spices while the sauce is thickening and simmer 5 minutes or so. Check taste before adding salt.

20161030_165857

  • Add cauliflower and broccoli florets and simmer five minutes.

20161030_165955

  • Add mushrooms and peas and simmer just until mushrooms lose their water.

20161030_171834

  • Spoon filling to top of mason jars

20161030_172041

  • Top each pie with a crust circle and crimp the edges with a fork.

20161030_173524

  • Brush with egg wash of choice

20161030_173819

  • Roll out leftover dough and cut out 8 shapes with cookie cutters, if desired.  If you don’t have leftover dough, you can also cut out shapes leaving a decorative hole in the crust. Hearts or stars are cute options.

20161030_173617

  • Using a sharp knife, ‘draw’ on lines to recreate the suggestion of stems, if desired.

20161030_174353

  • Place cut outs on top and brush with eggwash.

20161030_181959

  • Bake at 425 for 30 minutes

20161030_182005

  • Let cool slightly before serving.

20161031_111101

Mason Jar Veggie Pot Pies

  • Servings: 8 pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20161030_182005

  • pie crust, enough for top and bottom of regular pie *see TIPS
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 Tbsn flour (0r 0ther thickener)
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp thyme/1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 6 large criminy or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 small egg, egg substitute, melted vegan butter or almond milk with a dash of agave (for eggwash)
  • 8 small mason jars and 1 lid
  • If you are using homemade pie crust, roll out dough to quarter inch thickness and cut into 8- 6 inch circles, if making a bottom crust. If you are using a prepared crust, cut one of the circles into quarters and line mason jars with the dough, pressing with your fingers to spread. Then using a mason jar lid, cut 8 circle toppers with the other crust.  Reserve remaining dough for garnish.
  • Saute onion in olive oil for several minutes, then add celery and carrots and saute another five minutes.
  • Stir in flour and slowly add broth, then the almond milk and simmer until it thickens another 5 minutes.  If it’s not as thick as you like, add another tablespoon flour (best done by dissolving in water first to prevent lumps).If you like a creamier sauce, use a larger proportion of almond milk.
  • Add potatoes and spices and continue to thicken another 10 minutes. Taste before adding salt and pepper.
  • Add cauliflower and broccoli florets and simmer five minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and peas and saute just until mushrooms lose their water.
  • Spoon filling to top of mason jars
  • Top each pie with a crust circle and crimp the edges with a fork.
  • Brush with egg wash of choice
  • Roll out leftover dough and cut out 8 shapes with cookie cutters, if desired.  If you don’t have leftover dough, you can also cut out shapes leaving a decorative hole in the crust.
  • Place cut outs on top and brush with eggwash.
  • Bake at 425 for 30 minutes
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Meatless Monday – Portobellos with Greens, Mozzarella & Pesto

2

Portobello Stuffed with Greens1

30 Minute Meals – Is anyone else feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food consumed during the holidays? With my house full and bursting at the seams, my kitchen has been in full production since Thanksgiving – and we have one more holiday to go!  If you are slightly kitchen fatigued, like me, you are looking for fast and easy recipes that will still satisfy the masses.  This version of a stuffed Portobello mushroom was inspired by a stuffed mushroom I bought from Whole Foods last week while looking for an instant vegetarian meal to serve amidst all the non-vegetarian offerings, as I am the only non-meat eater in the family.  To make it a bit more substantial, I added a yummy layer of sautéed power greens (a combination of red and green chard, tat soi, arugula and spinach) that were sautéed with red onion and garlic. Topped with melted cheese with fresh pesto and red pepper flakes,  the stuffed mushroom is absolutely delicious!   This particular baked, stuffed mushroom is easy to prepare and is ready in less than 30 minutes, especially if you take shortcuts, like using prepared pesto instead of making your own.  Another shortcut would be omitting the sautéed greens, however, I think they add a nice flavor, not to mention the additional nutrition they provide. They are packed with vitamins, minerals and important cancer fighting and system supporting phytonutrients and amino acids.  They are not called power greens for nothing!

Portobello Stuffed with Greens11

Did you know that a Portobello mushroom is just a grown up crimini mushroom or conversely, the little brown crimini is just a baby Portobello? They are considered a crimini until they are 4 to 6 inches in diameter. If you were in Northern Italy you would call them “cappellone” which means “big hat”.  Regardless of what you call them, Portobello mushrooms are delicious and packed with nutrition. They are fat-free and very low in calories, and a rich source of selenium, copper and niacin Their rich flavor and firm texture makes them perfect for Meatless Monday. They are extremely versatile and can be chopped for sauces and veggie sautees, sliced and grilled as a great pizza topping or stuffed with grains, veggies or cheese for a satisfying main course.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens17

PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH GREENS, MOZZARELLA AND PESTO

4 large whole portobello mushrooms
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, divided
3-4 cups power greens (kale, collard, chard or spinach)
1/2 red onion or 2-3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded ( swiss, jack or fontina are good substitutes)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced (optional)
1/2 cup pesto sauce (Click here for a Home made recipe from Cooks.com)

Portobello Stuffed with Greens14

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Carefully remove stem from mushrooms and set aside.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens13

  • Wipe outside of mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Sprinkle mushroom caps with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and place rounded side up on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until just barely tender, about 15 minutes.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens12

  • Chop mushroom stems and greens.  Baby greens do not need to be chopped. If you are using mature greens, remove tough rib and stem before chopping.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens10

  • In a large skillet combine onion, garlic and pepper and saute until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens8

  •  Add greens, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few Tablespoons water in a large skillet. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat until greens are wilted and water is evaporated; mature greens will take longer to become soft. Add more water if necessary.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens7

  • Remove mushrooms from the oven and turn them over, gill side up.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens6

  • Fill each cap with a layer of greens (about 1/4 cup).

Portobello Stuffed with Greens5

  • Add a layer of mozzarella cheese.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens4

  • Top with a Tablespoon of pesto

Portobello Stuffed with Greens3

  • Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and red bell pepper.

Portobello Stuffed with Greens2

  • Return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes. For a crispy top, broil the last minute or so.

 

Portobello Mushrooms with Greens, Mozzarella & Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Portobello Stuffed with Greens18

4 large whole portobello mushrooms
1 Tbsn olive oil
1/2 tsp salt, divided
3-4 cups power greens (kale, collard, chard or spinach)
1/2 red onion or 2-3 shallots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced (optional)
1/2 cup pesto sauce (see directions below for homemade)

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Carefully remove stem from mushrooms and set aside.  Wipe outside of mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Sprinkle mushroom caps with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and place rounded side up on an oiled baking sheet. Bake until just barely tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Chop mushroom stems and greens.  Baby greens do not need to be chopped. If you are using mature greens, remove tough rib and stem before chopping.
  • In a large skillet combine olive oil, onion, garlic and pepper and saute until onions are soft (about 5 minutes)
  • Add greens, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few Tablespoons water in a large skillet. Saute, stirring frequently, over medium heat until greens are wilted and water is evaporated; mature greens will take longer to become soft. Add more water if necessary.
  • Remove mushrooms from the oven and turn them over. Fill each cap with a layer of greens (about 1/4 cup).
  • Add a layer of mozzarella cheese.
  • Top with a Tablespoon of pesto
  • Sprinkle with red pepper flakes and red bell pepper.
  • Return to the oven and bake until cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes. For a crispy top, broil the last minute or so.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Savory Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf

0

Lentil Rice Pilaf7

Savory Lentils and Brown Rice Pilaf was born out of pure laziness, coupled with my love for lentils and savory/spicy food.  It was raining and I didn’t want to battle the Christmas shoppers for parking or stand in line to purchase ingredients which I would then have to lug home and turn into dinner. If you find the ‘dinner question’ to be an ordeal every day, how about an easy alternative?  Look no further than your pantry for commonly stocked items like, rice and lentils.  throw in a few dried spices and dinner is on the table.  Easy peasy!  Your pantry not very well stocked?  Well there is a simple solution to that; Stock it!  Your world becomes a lot easier if you can make dinner without having to do that last minute grocery store run, especially in the winter when gardens are not as prolific and fresh produce is harder to find.

Lentil Rice Pilaf5

If you’re not sure what to stock in your pantry, consider the non perishable foods that you eat regularly; pasta, beans, olive oil, vinegar, tomato sauce, chopped tomatoes, rice and other grains, broth or boullion. I like to throw in some specialty items like canned hearts of palm or artichoke hearts which help transcend an otherwise boring salad into something special.  If you bake at all, include flour, sugar, salt, your favorite spices, and cooking oil. You will also want to keep ingredients that you use frequently on hand that are perishable but can last days or weeks on your counter like fresh onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and other root vegetables. Don’t forget to use your freezer as an extension of your pantry (and not just for ice cream).  Mine is stocked with nuts and frozen vegetables.  Your pantry should reflect the kinds of foods you like to eat. If you like Italian food, you should have a supply of pasta, tomatoes and Italian herbs like basil and oregano.  If you like Mediterranean food, stock your pantry with grains and legumes plus spices like cumin, ginger and allspice.  If are a list person or just beginning to stock a kitchen pantry, check out this List of Basic Pantry Ingredients from Basic Cooking to get yourself started.

Otherwise start shopping in your own pantry!  Perhaps you want to start with this yummy but healthy ‘one pot’ recipe…

Lentil Rice Pilaf1

TIPS:  Lentils are a wonderful addition to any meal.  You can add to salads, soups or stews.  Red and yellow lentils are softer and best for soups and stews.  If you want the lentil to hold it’s shape, use the firmer green or black lentils.  The regular brown lentils will work too but will cook faster (get soft and split), so I would add those in after 10 minutes or so.  I have listed the spices as 1 or 2 teaspoons, depending on how much spice you like.  The kind of broth you use will also determine how much additional salt and spice you need.  I would recommend adding 1 teaspoon of the spices when you add the broth, stir to combine and taste.  Then add salt and more spice to your taste.

SAVORY LENTIL AND BROWN RICE  PILAF

1 Tbsn sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grained brown rice
1 cup lentils (preferably green or black firm lentils)
1-2 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp ginger powder
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
6 cups vegetable broth
salt to taste
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled (optional)
1/2 cup raisins, purple or golden (optional)

Lentil Rice Pilaf3

  • Saute onion and garlic in  a heavy, wide pan until slightly soft.  Add rice and stir until aromatic. Add lentils and stir to coat.

Lentil Rice Pilaf4

  • Add water and the smaller amount of spices. Taste the broth, then add salt and additional spices as needed. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Lentil Rice Pilaf6

  • Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.

Lentil Rice Pilaf7

  • Stir in peas, and fluff with a fork. Top with raisins and pistachios if desired.

Lentil Rice Pilaf11

 

 

Savory Lentil and Brown Rice Pilaf

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Lentil Rice Pilaf7

1 Tbsn sesame oil (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup long grained brown rice
1 cup lentils (preferably green or black firm lentils)
1-2 tsp allspice
1-2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp ginger powder
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
6 cups vegetable broth
salt to taste
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup pistachios, shelled (optional)
1/2 cup raisins, purple or golden (optional)

  • Saute onion and garlic in  a heavy, wide pan until slightly soft.  Add rice and stir until aromatic.
  • Add lentils and stir to coat.
  • Add water and spices. Taste the broth, then add salt and additional spices as needed. Cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Stir in peas, and fluff with a fork. Top with raisins and pistachios if desired.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Eggplant

5

Linguine Eggplant Caper14

Spaghetti alla puttanesca translates literally as “spaghetti of the whore” in Italian. I’m sure there are many stories as to how this dish got it’s ‘flavorful’ name and who gets the full credit for it’s creation, but I’m not going to go there.  I’m only going to suggest that maybe this combination of tangy olives, salty capers, sweet tomatoes, fragrant garlic and aromatic fresh basil all whirled around in a good olive oil is so delicious that it is ‘sinful’.  Puttanesca is a classic Southern Italian sauce that is very versatile.  It is great on any kind of pasta, drizzled over creamy polenta, or even on toasted bread or crostini as an appetizer.  I opted to add eggplant, as I just happened to have a nice fat one sitting on my counter, and I wanted to make it a little more filling as a main course. Roasting the eggplant first gives it a nice creamy texture that blends nicely with the sauce. I also fried the capers, as I had seen in a Vegetarian Times recipe, which makes them crispy and gives the dish an additional pop of flavor.

Linguine Eggplant Caper2
This pasta is not only delicious, it’s full of gorgeous colors and makes a pretty presentation.  Best of all, it takes less than 30 minutes!  I served it the other night to an assortment of non-vegetarian friends and family, who loved it and went back for more.  I always take that as a sign that they weren’t just being polite – not that my family has held out on me in the past.  They are my biggest fans and also my harshest critics. Not everything makes it  past my ‘food screeners’ to GMD.   This one, however, was a crowd favorite!  With all these wonderful ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong…
TIPS:  You can make a more traditional Puttanesca sauce and leave out the eggplant, if you are so inclined.  I happen to love eggplant but I know not everyone is a fan.  If  you can’t find cherry tomatoes or other good fresh tomatoes this time of year, use a can of chopped tomatoes.  If you are pressed for time, you can skip salting the eggplant before roasting.  You can also skip the roasting if you are really in a hurry, and add diced eggplant in before the tomatoes.  The texture will be different but should still taste pretty good.  Additionally, the capers do not need to be fried if you prefer them in their original state.
Linguine Eggplant Caper13
PASTA PUTTANESCA WITH ROASTED EGGPLANT

1 small globe eggplant
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbn. capers, drained and patted dry with paper towels
1 red onion (or 4-5 shallots), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
3-4 cups cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives
3/4 lb linguine (or other pasta)
grated parmesan (optional garnish)

Linguine Eggplant Caper4

  • Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch circles and lay in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 10 minutes or until water beads up on the surface.

Linguine Eggplant Caper6

  • Brush eggplant slices with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Broil eggplant slices in single layer until browned on top (3-5 minutes). Turn to brown the other side. Remove from oven and let cool.

Linguine Eggplant Caper7

  • Roughly chop eggplant or slice into strips and set aside. Slice olives in half and cherry tomatoes in halves or quarters. Slice basil into julienne strips.

Linguine Eggplant Caper8

  • Heat oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat and fry capers, 1 to 2 minutes, or until many capers have split. Remove capers with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.

Linguine Eggplant Caper9

  • Using the same pan, saute onion 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute another minute.

Linguine Eggplant Caper10

  • Stir in tomatoes, and saute for 5 minutes, or until slightly soft

Linguine Eggplant Caper12

  • Remove from heat and stir in eggplant,  half of basil and olives.

Linguine Eggplant Caper13

  • Cook pasta according to package directions.  Scoop out a half cup of pasta water and reserve before draining pasta. Add drained pasta to pan with eggplant sauce, and toss gently to combine, adding some of the pasta water if needed.

linguine eggplant caper18

 

  • Serve garnished with remaining basil, capers and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

 

Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Eggplant

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Linguine Eggplant Caper14

1 small globe eggplant
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. capers, drained and patted dry with paper towels
1 red onion (or 4-5 shallots), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
3-4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
¼ cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced in half
3/4 lb linguine (or other pasta)
grated parmesan (optional garnish)

  • Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch circles and lay in a single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and let sit for about 10 minutes or until water beads up on the surface.
  • Brush eggplant slices with 1 Tbsp olive oil. Broil eggplant slices in single layer until browned on top (3-5 minutes). Turn to brown the other side. Remove from oven and let cool.  Roughly chop or slice into strips and set aside.
  • Heat oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat and fry capers, 1 to 2 minutes, or until many capers have split. Remove capers with slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
  • Using the same pan, saute onion 3 to 5 minutes, or until translucent.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute another minute.
  • Stir in tomatoes, and saute for 5 minutes, or until slightly soft
  • Remove from heat and stir in eggplant,  half of basil and olives.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions.  Scoop out a half cup of pasta water and reserve before draining pasta. Add drained pasta to pan with eggplant sauce, and toss gently to combine, adding some of the pasta water if needed.
  • Serve garnished with remaining basil, capers and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.