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Spinach and Basil Orzo Stew

A 20-minute easy meal with a side of sweet roasted tomatoes; you’ll be glad you made this when you see how little washing-up there is. It serves 2-3.

Ingredients

250g cherry tomatoes on the vine
1 yellow pepper, medium dice
2 tsp Italian herbs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, fine dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
250g orzo
3 cups vegetable stock
1 x 400g can tomatoes
100g baby spinach
½ tsp suitable-for-vegans sugar
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
15 g basil leaves, torn

Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Line a baking tray with a silicone sheet. Toss 125g of the tomatoes and yellow pepper in 1 tbsp vegetable broth, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and 1 tsp of Italian herbs. Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove the yellow peppers after 15 minutes, and roast the tomatoes for 5 minutes more.
2. In a large saucepan, sauté the onion over a medium-low heat for 2 minutes until just softened. Add the garlic for 30 seconds more, and deglaze the pot with about 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth. Add the orzo, the rest of the broth, the remaining de-vined tomatoes, the canned tomatoes, the sugar, and the balsamic vinegar, and simmer 8-12 minutes, stirring frequently, until cooked.
3. Stir in the spinach, yellow pepper, and basil until the spinach is wilted. Serve with the roasted tomatoes.

Pepper, tomato and onion stew (lecsó) with black lentils and kale

Inspired by lecscó, my version adds a little nuance with the poblano pepper and rounds the dish out with some kale and black lentils. Shown here with freshly made spätzle (gluten free, plant-only) dusted with nutritional yeast, but fresh bread, roasted or mashed potatoes, rice or similar accompaniments should all go well.

Ingredients

1/3 cup black beluga lentils
3/4 cup water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1/2″)
4 scallions, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 cup red peppers, cored, seeded, 1/3″ dice
1 cup Hungarian peppers, cored, seeded, 1/3″ dice
3/4 cup poblano peppers, cored, seeded, 1/3″ dice
1/2T smoked paprika
1/2T coconut sugar (or a little maple syrup)
1/2T lemon juice
1 cup tomato passata (or puree)
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 cups green curly kale, stemmed and chopped
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: There are a number of regional variations for lecsó, but tomatoes, onions, and peppers form a common base. Use some fresh tomatoes, slice the peppers and onions in strips rather than dice and use green pepper rather than poblano for a more traditional version. If you do, saute the onions first, add the paprika and sugar and then the rest of the peppers. Lecsó is often stewed. You ca make this dish in a slow cooker if you prefer (just be careful not to overcook the peppers). A tablespoon of cooking oil will also add some richesse to this dish.

Method

Bring the water to a boil in a small pan with a lid. Add the lentils and kombu. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Remove the kombu and set the lentils aside to cool for 5 minutes, covered.

With the lentils underway, bring a large frying pan to heat on medium high. Add the peppers, scallions and sea salt. Stirfry for 3-5 minutes, or until the peppers are starting to wilt. Reduce heat to medium. Add the paprika and coconut sugar. Saute for 3-5 minutes.

When the pan starts to brown, add the lemon juice and deglaze. Add the passata and stock, and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes uncovered or until the passata has been reduced by about 1/3, stirring periodically (but gently).

When ready, add the kale and black lentils. Stir to combine. Let stand 2-3 minutes to cool and to wilt the kale. Season to taste and serve.

Slowcooked chickpea, potato and vegetable stew

A simple, flavourful, slowcooked stew that goes well with fresh tortilla chips (as shown here), bread, socca or other accompaniments. This makes enough for 4 medium bowls or 2 large ones.

Ingredients

1/2 cup dried chickpeas
2 cups water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu, about 2″
1 Italian eggplant (about 1 1/2 cups), ends trimmed, halved and sliced, 1/3″
1 medium zucchini (about 2 cups), ends trimmed, halved and sliced, 1/4″
1 large sweet onion (about 2 cups), trimmed, peeled, quartered and sliced, 1/3″
4 medium cremini mushrooms (about 1 cup), trimmed and sliced, 1/8″
1/2t coarse sea salt (or to taste)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 medium red potatoes (about 2 cups), 1/2″ dice
1 cup tomato passata (or puree)
2T fresh garlic, minced
1T smoked paprika
1/4t dried red chilis (or similar/to taste)
1T dried herbes de Provence (or similar), rubbed
2 cups flat-leaf parsley, minced (1/4 cup reserved for garnish)
1T tapioca flour dissolved in 1T cold water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: Other beans will work with this, but be mindful of differences in cooking time. Add some olives, nut butter or oil for additional richesse and flavour. You can replace the tapioca with arrowroot powder or cornstarch, but arrowroot is not as sturdy and cornstarch requires a higher temperature to thicken.

For a chunkier, brothier stew. slowcook the chickpeas until they’re soft, and add everything from the eggplant to the herbes de Provcence at the same time. The flavours won’t be as blended, but this will shorten the cooking time as a whole.

Method

Either add your chickpeas to your slowcooker and cook for about 2 hours on high to soften, or let them soak in cool water overnight in a covered bowl. Drain the water, but reserve the kombu.

Return the chickpeas to the slowcooker, add the ingredients up to and including the stock. Cook for 4 hours on low heat or until the chickpeas are soft (remove the kombu at this point).

Add the potatoes and everything else up to and including the herbes de Provence. Slow cook another 2 hours or so until the potatoes are fork tender. Increase the heat to high if necessary for your slowcooker (you know it better than I do).

When the potatoes are tender, add the parsley. Add the tapioca mixture and stir to distribute evenly. Increase heat to high and cook until the stew thickens, stirring periodically.

Once the tapioca thickens, turn off the heat. Add the nutritional yeast, and stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes or so to cool. Season to taste. Ladle out, garnish with reserved parsley and serve.

Beluga lentil, masa dumpling stew with roasted poblano peppers

With kale, cabbage, dumplings, and a number of spices, this is a flavourful and filling stew. This makes 1 large bowl or 2 small ones. Garnished here with a little nutritional yeast and sour cashew cream.

Ingredients

For the stew
1 poblano pepper, cored and seeded
3 cups water, divided
1/4 cup lentils
1/2T smoked paprika
1t dried ground cumin
1/2t dried ground coriander
1/4t dried red chilis (I use 1/2t)
1/4t black pepper, freshly ground
1/2t dried oregano, rubbed
1 cup green cabbage, shredded (I use coleslaw mix)
1/2T fresh garlic, minced
1T fresh scallion, minced
1/2 cup tomato passata (or puree)
1 cup green curly kale, roughly chopped
2T masa harina mixed with 1/4 cup warm water
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

For the dumplings
1/2 cup masa harina
1T tapioca flour
1/2T milled flax seed
A good pinch coarse sea salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup hot water

Optional: You can use vegetable stock with this for a little extra flavour, but you may find it superfluous. Garnish with capers, flat leaf parsley, black or white sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, black olives, or cilantro for a little extra flavour. While the stew uses masa harina as the
thickening agent, cornstarch, tapioca flour, and arrowroot flour will also work.

Method

Start with the stew, and then the dumplings.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Core and seed the poblano. Cut into quarters length-wise and roast until lightly blistered. Expect about 20 – 30 minutes, but ovens vary. Use the colour and skin texture of the pepper as your guide. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool. Coarsely chop and
add to the stew when the lentils are ready.

In a medium pan with a lid, bring 1/2 cup water to a simmer. Add the lentils and kombu. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Drain the lentils (reserving the kombu).

Either dry the pan, or use another to toast the dry spices for 2 -3 minutes or until they’re nice and aromatic. Add the lentils, kombu, remaining water. Return to a light simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer another 5 – 10 minutes until the lentils are still lightly firm but done.

When the lentils are soft, add the poblano, cabbage, garlic, and scallions. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer another 10 minutes or so until the cabbage is lightly wilted but still a little crisp.

While the stew simmers, make the dumplings. Mix the masa, tapioca, salt, and flax. Whisking with a fork, add the hot water. Mix and knead until a solid but elastic dough forms. If you need to add additional hot water, do so. Roll into balls, about 1T in size. Let them dry on the cutting board will the soup finishes.

When the cabbage is the right texture, uncover and bring the pan to a simmer on medium high. Remove the kombu. Add the dumplings and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Add the passata and stir to combine. Stirring
continuously, add the masa solution. Simmer another 2-3 minutes uncovered, stirring regularly until the masa has thickened. Remove from heat. Add the kale. Stir to combine. Let stand 2 minutes for the kale to wilt and the stew to cool.

Season to taste. Ladle out. Garnish with nutritional yeast, sour sesame or cashew cream, white or black sesame seeds, minced black olives, capers, parsley, cilantro or whatever you enjoy.

Black lentil, mushroom and vegetable stew with potatoes and sauerkraut

With carrots, kale, spinach and sweet onion, this is a rich and flavourful stew that doesn’t require a lot of preparation. This makes 4 small bowls or 2 large ones.

Ingredients

1/4 cup beluga (black) lentils
1/2 cup water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 2″)
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2t coarse sea salt (or to taste)
1 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2″ dice (I use purple)
1 large portobello mushroom, 1/2″ dice (about 1 1/2 cup)
1 large red pepper, cored, seeded, 1/2″ dice (about 1 – 1 1/4 cup)
1 large floury potato, 1/2″ half-moon slices (about 2 cups, I use organic russet)
1 small sweet onion (about 1 1/2 cup), 1/4″ slices
1T fresh garlic, minced
2t smoked paprika
1/2t dried marjoram, rubbed
1t prepared brown mustard
1/4t black pepper (I use 1/2t)
1/4t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 cup tomato passata (or puree)
2T arrowroot flour dissolved in 2T cold water
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 cup green curly kale, coarsely chopped
1 cup baby spinach
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 cup white sauerkraut (I use unpasteurized)

Optional: Add a good pinch of crushed caraway seeds for a little extra flavour. Add a medley of mushrooms if you prefer. Maitake, cremini, porcini, even a little morel, will all go well in this. Replace the greens added at the end with 1 cup sauerkraut and 1 cup shredded green cabbage added with the other vegetables if you prefer. Add a little wine, cashew butter, and/or oil for a richer stew. Slowcook if you prefer; prepare the lentils as directed, but add everything up to and including the passata, cook on low for several hours and then finish as directed.

Method

In a large frying pan with a lid, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add the lentils and kombu. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils but reserve the kombu. Return the lentils to the pan.

Add everything up to and including the red pepper flakes to the pan, potatoes first, onions last. Return the pan to a light simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.

After an hour, the potatoes should be fork tender and the lentils completely cooked. Uncover, increase heat to medium low and add the passata. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.

At the 30 minute mark, remove the kombu. Add the arrowroot mixture slowly, stirring continuously until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add the nutritional yeast. Add the spinach and kale. Stir to combine.

Let stand 3 – 5 minutes to wilt the greens. Season to taste. Ladle/spoon out, garnish with sauerkraut and serve.

Tofu, mushroom, and sea vegetable stew with potatoes and poblano pepper

This is a simple, comforting and nutritious stew with a number of rich flavours. The poblano pepper gives is just a little heat This makes a medium bowl for 4 and a large bowl for 2.

Ingredients

2T water
3 scallions, minced, 3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish
1/4t coarse sea salt
1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded, 1/4″ dice
4 large cremini mushrooms, stemmed, thickly sliced (about 1/2″)
225g extra firm, high quality tofu, 1/2″ cubes
2 cups green cabbage, shredded (I use coleslaw mix)
1 floury potato (about 2 cups, I use organic russet), 1/3″ dice
1T lemon juice
1 cup water
1 ‘sprig’ kombu (about 3″)
2 cups unsweetened plant milk (I use soy)
1/2T white vinegar
1T dried wakame, crumbled
1T tapioca flour dissolved in 1T cold water
1 cup green curly kale, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Coarse sea salt, black pepper and vinegar to taste
1/2t purple dulse flakes
1/2t nori flakes

Optional: A tablespoon of garlic and/or replacing the water with vegetable stock will add flavour. A little white miso and/or cashew butter added at the end would go nicely. A little dusting of smoked paprika with the dulse and nori will add flavour and colour. Slowcook for a few hours if you prefer. Press your tofu ahead of time if necessary.

Method

Warm a large frying pan with a lid on medium high heat. Add the 2T water, sea salt, and scallions. Water saute for 1 minute. Add the pepper and mushrooms. Saute for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and stir fry another 2-3 minutes.

When the pan has browned a little, add the lemon and deglaze. Add the 1 cup water and kombu. Return the pan to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Uncover and remove the kombu. Add the plant milk and wakame. Increase heat to medium-low. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring frequently, aiming to reduce the plant milk by about 1/3.

Stirring continuously, add the tapioca mixture slowly and stir until it thickens. Remove from heat. Add the kale and nutritional yeast and stir to combine. Season to taste. Ladle/spoon out. Garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle, dulse and nori flakes.

Brown lentil, sweet potato, and mushroom stew with dates and arugula

Sweet and spicy, this makes a small bowl for 4 and a large one for 2.

Ingredients

2T curry powder
1/2t dried, ground allspice
1/4t crushed red chili (or to taste — I use 1/2t)
1/4t coarse sea salt
3 scallions, minced (3″ – 4″ reserved for garnish)
1T fresh garlic, minced
1t fresh ginger, grated and minced
1 1/2 cup water
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu (about 1″)
1/2 cup brown lentils (black, green or dupuy will also work)
4 large cremini mushrooms, quartered (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cups sweet potato, peeled and cut 1/3″ dice
2 cups unsweetened plant milk (I use soy)
1/2T white pickling vinegar
2T tomato passata (or puree)
1/4 cup dried, soft dates
1T tapioca flour dissolved in 2T water
2 cups packed baby arugula
Coarse sea salt and chili or black pepper to taste

Optional: Garnish with sour sesame or cashew cream (as show here), a little coconut milk, and/or a little cilantro to add colour and flavour.

Directions

Bring a large frying pan with a lid to heat on medium. Add the curry powder and other spices. Toast for 2-3 minutes until aromatic. Add the scallions, sea salt, garlic, and ginger. Stir fry for 2 minutes.

Add the water and deglaze the pan. Add the lentils and kombu. Bring the pan to a light simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sweet potatoes and simmer covered for another 15 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

At the 30 minute mark, add the plant milk and vinegar. Increase the heat to medium low and bring the pan to a light simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes or until the plant milk is reduced by about half. Remove the kombu. Add the dates and passata. Simmer another 5 minutes. Stirring slowly, add the tapioca mixture. Stir until it thickens (should be immediately)

Add the arugula and stir gently but thoroughly to combine. Let stand 2 minutes to cool and to wilt the greens. Season to taste. Ladle out and garnish as you like with scallion greens sliced on an angle.

Turmeric, miso stew with tofu, tempeh, mushrooms, and potatoes

Sweetened with dates, thickened with flax, and finished with baby kale, this is a rich, spicy stew with lots of strong flavour and colour. If you’re not a turmeric lover, keep the amount low to start.

Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/2t coarse sea salt
2T scallions, finely chopped (reserve a few inches of green for garnish)
1-3t dried, ground turmeric (to taste — I use 1T)
1T fresh garlic, minced
1t fresh ginger, grated and minced
1/2t dried, ground cumin
1/2t dried marjoram, rubbed
1/4t dried red chilis (or to taste — I use about 1/2t)
1 cup cremini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced, about 1/8″
125g extra firm, high quality tofu, 1/3″ cubes
125g tempeh, 1/4″ cubes (use pasteurized)
1 1/2 cups potatoes, 1/3″ dice (I use organic russets)
1/2 cup dried, soft dates, pitted and finely chopped
1T lemon juice
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu, about 2″
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups unsweetened plant milk
3T red miso (or more, to taste)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1T sesame seed butter
2T milled flax seed
3 cups loose baby kale (leave a few leaves for garnish)
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: White, yellow, or other shades of miso will work, but they’ll change the final colour. Use freshly grated turmeric (start with 1T) if you have an easy source. Leave out the garlic if you prefer. A little shredded cabbage added with the plant milk and/or a little cilantro for garnish wouldn’t hurt. Add some fresh blueberries to brighten up the flavour.

Method

Warm a large frying pan with a lid on medium heat. Add the water, sea salt and scallion. Water saute for 2 minutes. Add the turmeric, and other herbs and spices. Saute another minute.

Add the mushrooms. Saute for another 2 – 3 minutes. Add the tofu, tempeh, potatoes and dates. Saute another 2 minutes. Add the lemon and deglaze the pan (if necessary).

Add the stock, bring the pan to a light simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Uncover, add the plant milk. Increase heat to medium low.

Simmer another 30 minutes or so uncovered on low heat (as low as you can set it but still simmer) stirring periodically. Remove from heat. Remove the kombu. Add the miso, nutritional yeast, sesame seed butter, flax and kale. Stir to combine.

Let stand 2 minutes to cool. Season to taste. Ladle out into bowls. Garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle and a few scallion greens and serve.