Vietnamese Aubergine

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This recipe is deceptively simple and yet delicious (common characteristics of Vietnamese cuisine). Eat on its own with rice for makes a light Vegan meal, or as tasty vegetable dish for larger meals.

Ingredients

2 tsp oil (peanut is authentic)
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
2 tomatoes
1 tsp lemongrass
1 1/2 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar (palm sugar is authentic)
2 small or 1 large aubergine cut into 1cm chunks (the thin Asian ones are authentic, so 2)
1 spring onion (chopped)
1 red chilli (cut finely, scrape off the to make the dish less hot)
pinch turmeric
pinch pepper
basil

Method

Fry the garlic, add tomato and lemongrass, add 2 Tbsp water, stirring. After a couple of minutes add half fish sauce, sugar and aubergine. Add 1 cup water and rest of fish sauce and sugar, add turmeric, pepper and the stalk of the lemongrass (if you are using the real thing). Simmer for about 7 more minutes till the aubergine is cooked, garnish with chilli, spring onions and basil (or other herbs like corriander)

Mushroom risotto

Photo by tristanf

1 Tbsp dried porcini mushrooms
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large or 2 small onions
3 garlic cloves
300g fresh mushrooms (I used half button, half portobello for cheapness and variety)
350g arborio rice
150ml white wine preferably dry
1+ litres hot vege stock
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chives, spring onions or fennel
a little more oil, Avocado is nice as well as good Extra Virgin Olive (non-Vegans can use c25g Butter)
Salt and pepper
Non Vegans can top with grated Parmesan

 

Cover the dried mushrooms in hot water and soak (c15 mins), drain them.

Chop the onion and garlic finely. In a heavy saucepan big enough to take the full recipe, heat the olive oil and fry chopped onion and garlic (use a low heat, the idea is to sweat them until soft, not turn them to carbon). Chop the fresh mushrooms and fry them also for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Add wine and simmer, stirring often. When it has been absorbed add stock a little at a time. Keep stirring! Add stock (Remember it is important that this is hot, we don’t want to shock the poor little rice grains do we?) till the rice is tender.

Chop and add the porcini and parsley. Season and add the extra oil (or butter and Parmesan).

Breads and dips

Again the photo is not our meal, I must get in the habit of taking shots of my food πŸ™ so, photo by jbcurio

One of the most pleasant Vegan lunches is breads and dips, most often when it’s just the two of us it is bread and dips, but several breads or toasts do help make it more special. The recipes are simple, keep well in the frig, and cheap too πŸ™‚

For lunch today we had hummus, skordalia, some olive oil with a little fruity balsamic at the bottom, and Miriam’s competition recipe Guacomole.

Miriam’s Vegan Guacamole

  • 1 perfectly ripe avocado (you can tell it’s perfect when then little knobbly bit where it used to be attached to the tree comes off easily when you nudge it gently-ish with your thumb).
  • 1/4 onion/red onion or one shallot or a couple of spring onions cut into tiny little pieces.
  • 1 small-medium sized tomato cut into equally tiny little pieces.
  • lemon or lime juice
  • plenty of salt and pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons of ground cumin
  • 3 or 4 good shakes of your favourite hot sauce (I favour Kaitaia fire)

Mash up the avocado with a fork, mix everything else in, add more lemon juice etc to taste.

I omitted the hot sauce, though I got quite used in Africa to adding chili paste to my meals I don’t like to add a little chili to everything as so many Kiwis do, I also reduced the salt, making a healthy dip even more healthy.

Nathan’s Really Quick, Really Tasty, Really Easy Lunch

The remains of the Really Quick, Really Tasty, Really Easy Lunch after the Carey Baptist College Staff Lunch Club had both eaten their fill
  • Can of mixed beans, drained.
  • Sundried tomatoes, sliced.
  • Fresh parsley or whatever herbs you have, torn/shredded/chopped/cut/rubbed/whatever.
  • Olive oil and a splash of balsamic, (Nathan says S&P I wonder if he meant Lea and Perrins? I used lemon juice).

Serve with nice bread and mixed leaves.

Nathan adds some ground corriander and chilli flakes or whatever I have around.

This really was really, really quick, really really easy, and pretty tasty too πŸ™‚

African Black Eyed Beans

African Black Eyed Beans (no the beans aren't from Africa, just the recipe πŸ˜‰

Last night I tried Lois’ African Black Eyed Beans. 1I did not mean to do two of Lois’ recipes in a row, but that’s what I had in the storecupboard πŸ™‚ Barbara was just back from Tauranga and I had them ready with rice, Barbara did not know it was a competition recipe but said the beans were delicious without prompting πŸ™‚ I adapted the recipe for Repentant Carnivores (rather than Vegans) by cutting the fat, especially the bad fat in the coconut cream, halving this works fine and still tastes deliciously different.

  • 1Β½ cups black-eyed beans. Start these cooking for 30 – 45 minutes.

Make the sauce with:

  • 2 chopped onions SautΓ©d in a little oil until they’re softish.
  • 1 small can tomato paste (or chopped tomatoes but then you will need to “reduce” 2That is boil to remove some of the water. the sauce a bit).
  • Β½ can coconut cream
  • 2 tsp paprika 3I used smoked, it adds a nice depth to the warmth – as I also used less chili.
  • Β½ tsp (or more or less) chili powder
  • Β½ tsp cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Stir together till combined, if necessary reduce to thicken, but if you keep the beans warm in the sauce before serving it will thicken up a bit then.

When the beans are cooked, drain and mix the sauce into them.

Serve with rice. This is would serves 4 as a main meal. 4Lois or Alison reckoned 4-6 but the 6 would all need small appetites or to eat desert as well πŸ˜‰

Lois gave credit to Alison Holst, the beans taste interesting and different as most Westerners are not used to the coconut and bean combination, which worked very well. Once again the recipe risks looking plain, I think (in the Capsicum season at least) some thin Jullienne strips of green Capsicum might lift it… I am sure this dish, especially if it was enhanced by some appropriate (or better still inappropriate) story about the African origin of the recipe, would go down a treat with most children – though definitely reduce the chili (like I did) in that case.

Like the previous two entries I’ve tested this is likely to stay on my regular list, so far it is going to be hard to choose who gets the prize πŸ˜‰

Notes   [ + ]

1. I did not mean to do two of Lois’ recipes in a row, but that’s what I had in the storecupboard πŸ™‚
2. That is boil to remove some of the water.
3. I used smoked, it adds a nice depth to the warmth – as I also used less chili.
4. Lois or Alison reckoned 4-6 but the 6 would all need small appetites or to eat desert as well πŸ˜‰

Mushroom and Barley

Lois' Mushroom Barley Mix - all packed for lunch

After a fortnight of a cold that left me with no enthusiasm for recipe testing πŸ™‚ I have again begun to trial the Great Vegan Recipe Competition entries.

Yesterday I tried Lois’ Mushroom and Barley Mix, and brought the “left overs” in a box for lunch. The recipe is extremely easy, and seems forgiving – I left it simmering with no stirring for an hour and it was still fine!

  • 1 cup uncooked barley
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 cups chopped mushrooms
  • 3-4 cups vege stock or water
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 5-6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Harissa (or in Lois’ original chilli – I like less chilli and more spices that most Kiwis)

SautΓ© onion, carrot, garlic and spices. Add barley, mushrooms, soy sauce and stock. (I’d now keep half the mushrooms to add later with the chickpeas – if you are using soaked, dried but uncooked chickpeas add them now.)

Leave to simmer happily for about 3/4 hour, until the barley is soft but chewy. Check occasionally to ensure there’s sufficient liquid. I found with precooked chick peas that 3 cups was plenty, but if cooking the chick peas then I expect the extra cup is needed. Add the sundried tomatoes (or other veges like Lois’ capsicum [too expensive at this time of year]) for colour before serving.

This is savoury, convenient one pot, and one serving. It works well to warm up next day for lunch. I would also add some chopped fresh herbs at the end to add more colour as garnish and to add a little zing to the flavours which are otherwise savoury but almost bland. (It was the same reasoning, as well as what was in the fridge, that led me to use sundried tomatoes.)

Green lentils and sausage

Cooked green lentils (photo by Maggie Hoffman) when you add the oil they'll glisten scrunptiously, the sausage is icing on the cake πŸ˜‰

This recipe is NOT Vegan, except Vegans can easily adapt it by removing the sausage and adding a little more oil and salt.This is simpler than the public as imagined by a politician, and tastier than even you could imagine (just use plenty of good oil and real ground or flaky salt added just before eating)

  • Green lentils 1/2 cup per person (boiled gently till just soft)
  • Splash or three of nice olive oil
  • Several grinds of sea salt
  • a little thinly sliced sausage (Chorizo is good, but I prefer the thin ones that taste a bit like salami)

Serve with mashed potatoes.

For myself I often leave the sausage out, but it used to help tame the family carnivores πŸ˜‰ and does add a nice contrast.

Carrot and Cashew Soup

Nearly Vegan Carrot and Cashew Soup

Heather’s competition recipe (from Alison Holst)

  • 500g carrots
  • 2 small onions
  • Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Curry powder and some cumin seeds
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup toasted cashews

Chop onions and begin to cook in the saucepan with the oil (soften rather than caramelise them), add curry powder and cumin. Then chop and add carrots, add the stock and simmer till the carrots are tender. In a blender process the toasted cashews to the consistency of ground almonds (can be toasted under a grill with 1/2tsp oil). [Or if you are Tim just add them before the final few wizzes in the food processor.] Drain cooked carrots and onion and put into blender with ground nuts. Process adding stock as required to get the desired consistency.[Again I just slopped the lot into the food processor, and added the nuts – see above – just before finishing, to keep a bit of crunch.]

Taste & adjust seasoning. Reheat to serve.

Experience (the Voice of): Tasty, filling and robust! Yum, this will certainly be added to the staple soups for something quick, easy, tasty and filling for when we have a crowd for lunch. I’m going to experiment a bit more, next time the Cumin will definitely be ground not seeds (they went all fibrous when processed πŸ™ and I’ll reduce the curry powder a bit further and add Coriander leaves as garnish instead of the Yogurt in the photo making it really Vegan again πŸ™‚

BTW: If you try a competition recipe and like it please either say so in the comments on this blog post, or click the “Like on Facebook” button, that way I can factor your preferences into the result. Voting more than once will only count as one, even for your own entry πŸ˜‰

Pot of beans & judging the competition

Not my beans, look somethinglikes photo from La.blasco

I have not started on trying out the competition recipes, there was too much food around that needed using up this week. I won’t be over the weekend as I’ll be in Tauranga and want easy meals (see below), but plan to next week. This means there is still time to ask your friends for their best Vegan maincourse or lunch (i.e. substantial but portable) recipes…

Beans with Preserved Lemons

So as to have a couple of quick easy meals for the weekend, and a tasty meal last night I did a big pot of those young greenish (but dried) beans in the slow cooker yesterday. The ones that are like Flageolet Beans, but not from the Harricot but perhaps Fava… [BTW the slow cooker is great for beans, but NOT the red ones, as they need a good fast boil for some of their cooking time to remove poisons πŸ™ ]

Just put:

  • Some chopped onions and garlic (less than the onions πŸ˜‰ but plenty I used six cloves)
  • Bay leaves/Thyme/Rosemary
  • Beans

In the pot and more than cover with vege stock (my second batch of Nathan’s free stock worked fine with just the stalk ends of celery and other peelings and wastage including onion and garlic skins) the exact quantity is difficult as different beans soak up different quantities. (BTW in the slow cooker all day there is no need to pre-soak the beans.) The ideal is if you can look in on them at lunch time to maybe add more stock.

Near the end of cooking add some preserved lemons and limes. In NZ now is the time to set up a shelf of jars, as limes are as cheap as they get, and they do make the lemons taste even better πŸ™‚ The preserving somehow mellows the flavour and they go brilliantly with the beans adding interest to the dish. The Velveteen Rabbi called them “sunshine in a jar” – I can’t beat that πŸ˜‰

Season and if need be thicken the sauce with a little maize meal/cornflour.

Vegan recipe competition

If you are, or are friends with, a Vegan (or just like trying different recipes) and have a good recipe that is:

  • tasty
  • nourishing
  • Vegan
  • for a lunch or savoury main dish
  • one you have tried
  • not needing hours of work (hours of cooking is fine as long as it requires time not me)

Then enter it into the comments below. Tell me:

  • Quantities – approximate is fine
  • Instructions – remember I have not watched your Auntie prepare this dish πŸ˜‰
  • If possible link to a photo of the end result

I will try any that sound like possibles, and give a prize to the best, any I try and like will feature here (with a link to your blog, Facebook page etc. naturally).

If I’m to start a radical change in the way I eat, I need more Vegan recipes. I have stacks of delicious meaty and/or Vegetarian recipes but to reduce my use meat etc. to just once a day I need some Vegan recipes to add to the mix. Since breakfast is Vegan already most days (delicious luxury porridge with fruits and nuts) I need light lunches and savoury mains. The competition is only for recipes you have cooked and enjoyed (please don’t just cut and paste from some website without testing it first πŸ˜‰ entries will remain open indefinitely but I will pick a first winner when I have six meals I plan to cook again.