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Jerk Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa

October 4th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

IMG_3444 (1)It’s a tradition at my house to get together with friends on Sunday nights, make good food together and watch (and discuss) The Walking Dead.   It’s the perfect wrap to a weekend before heading back into reality.  We like to call it “Ham Dinner” as many traditional Sunday meals are, but in reality my house is 100% animal-free (well, except for the family members).

On the menu this week were these tacos.  This meal is mind-blowing.  Move aside La Taqueria … there is a vegan taco in town that EVERYBODY is talking about!!


For the taco filling:

Grapeseed oil
1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets (about 6 cups/1.5 L)
1 Tbsp (15 mL) jerk seasoning or Creole/Cajun seasoning

IMG_3433 (1)Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and cook until slightly charred, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Stir in jerk or Creole/Cajun seasoning and heat for 30 seconds.

For the salsa:

1 mango, peeled and chopped
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red onion
1/3 cup (80 mL) roughly chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

IMG_3441 (1)To make salsa, toss together mango, red bell pepper, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice.

For the crema:

1 cup (250 mL) organic, GMO free silken tofu
1/2 avocado
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 lime
2 small chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp (2 mL) cumin
salt and pepper to taste

To make the crema, place the tofu, avocado, lime zest, lime juice, chipotle chili pepper, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
10 sprouted corn tortillas, warmed
2 cups (500 mL) shredded cabbage

IMG_3442 (1)
Divide cauliflower among corn tortillas and top with shredded cabbage, mango salsa, and crema.  Consume with plenty of margaritas and good laughs.IMG_3443 (1)

Hearty Lentil and Brown Rice Burgers

March 2nd, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

IMG_2985One of the things that I did recently to find my way back to healthy eating was a brown rice cleanse.  I often do this cleanse if I’ve been on vacation and overindulged, or just lost my way altogether.  It works wonders to reset the taste buds and re-inspire my love of fresh foods and recipes.

The brown rice cleans is a whole foods diet.  This means no refined or process foods are to be consumed.  Brown rice is a whole grain that is hypoallergenic to most people.  It provides important detoxification enhancing substances such as gamma-oryzanol and fiber in the rice bran, which binds to toxins and decreases transit time.  The nutritional value of each meal will be enhanced by consuming locally grown produce and seasonal foods.  Organically grown foods should be eaten as much as possible to minimize introduction of new chemicals into the body.  If you are interested in reading more on the cleanse, or feel like giving it a go, there is some information here.

During this cleanse a friend recommended this recipe to me.  She is meat eater, but raved about these burgers (so they must be good right?).  They are out of this world.  Packed with flavour, I make these at least once a week these days and freeze patties to take out whenever I need a quick meal on the go.  Trust me.  These burgers are to die for!

Note that the burgers to require some time to cool and set in the fridge, so if you want a fast meal, I suggest making a batch on your days off, and placing them in the fridge or freezer so you can just throw them in the oven after work for a super fast meal!

Yields:  6 burgers

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Cook Time:  20 minutes


  • 1/2 cups green lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2  cups vegetable broth


These burgers are ridiculously easy to make.

  1. Put all the ingredients into a pot and bring to a simmer.  Let cook until the lentils and rice are soft.
  2. Once cooked, let the pot cool.  Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until all the ingredients are well combined, but not smooth.
  3. Let the mixture set in the refrigerator for about an hour.
  4. Shape into 6 patties.
  5. Lightly brush both sides of the burgers with extra virgin olive oil.  Place in an oven proof dish, and back for about 20 minutes, turning once half way.

I have tried cooking these in a frying pan which works quite well, and I have been told that the bbq is also a successful cooking method, but I prefer to bake mine in the oven.  They turn out a little bit firmer which is best if you are not doing the cleanse and are going to put your burger in a bun.  If the patty is too soft, it will just squish out the sides when you take a bite. ♥

IMG_2999My favourite way to eat these is with no bun, a side of roasted cauliflower doused with a good squeeze of lemon, a healthy dollop of humus and fresh sliced avocado.  TO. DIE. FOR.


Cheesy Pasta (Grety’s Mac and Cheese)

February 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

IMG_2957 - Version 2 (1)

I bet you’re wondering why the header photo in this recipe is cauliflower…

I’m heading to a friend’s house for dinner later and I thought I’d bring a vegetarian offering with me.  This one was inspired by my little niece who lives in the Ancient Town of Rye, Sussex, England.  You can’t buy Kraft Dinner in the UK.  Go figure.  I thought that stuff was available in every corner of the world.  Apparently not.

My sister has tried offering Greta the home-made version, but she just won’t have it.  It’s just not that fluorescent orange version that she’s come to love when she visits Grandma and Grandad Mac in Canada.  Sheesh.  Every time we go to visit, we have to pack our cases with “the REAL cheesy pasta” for Greta.

This version is a “little” more healthy (and quite a bit more tasty to the adult taste buds).  I’m sure most kids would gobble it down without issue.  If they MUST have the “real” thing however, you might get a little “krafty” and sub the cauliflower here for roasted butternut squash, to give you that bright orange colour.  Shhhh.  I won’t tell anyone.

Yield: 6-7 Servings as a side, 4 Servings as a main course

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Cook Time:  30 minutes


  • 4 heaping cups cauliflower florets (1 medium-large cauliflower)
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 cup unsweetened and unflavoured almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 200g sharp cheddar (sub Daiya cheddar for vegan option)
  • sea salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 cups macaroni pasta (uncooked).  Sub brown rice macaroni for gluten-free.
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (optional)


  1. Add cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil. Once boiling, cook for another 5-7 minutes until fork tender. Drain.  If you want to have a bright orange mac and cheese, roast about 2 medium butternut squash for 30-40 minutes in the oven at 400F until tender.  Use this instead of cauliflower.
  2. Meanwhile, add the oil into a skillet and saute the onion over low heat for 4-5 minutes until translucent, but not browned.
  3. In a high-speed blender, add the cooked and drained cauliflower (or roasted squash), sautéed onion, milk, lemon juice, onion powder, and garlic powder. Blend until a super smooth sauce forms.  Set aside
  4. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add your desired amount of pasta and boil for the time instructed on the package. Drain pasta.IMG_2961
  5. Pour the cauliflower sauce back into the pot. Heat over low-medium, adding 1/2 the cheddar cheese (or Daiya cheese).  Heat until the cheese has melted.IMG_2964
  6. Add the pasta and stir until the noodles are coated nicely.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pour into a greased baking pan (I used a small lasagna pan greased lightly with olive oil). IMG_2968Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and panko bread crumbs (omit panko for gluten-free).  IMG_2972Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the pan is bubbling.  Brown under the grill for the last few minutes for a crispy top (make sure you watch it so as not to burn).

If you prefer a non-baked silky version of the pasta, omit step 6 and just serve!  For a more “sophisticated” mac and cheese, you can sub out 1/2 cup of non dairy milk for white wine (the alcohol will evaporate when you cook it off in the pot (and bake in the oven).  Also try experimenting with your favourite strong flavoured hard cheeses.IMG_2982

Bon Apetite!



February 12th, 2012 § 3 comments § permalink

Ever since I went to Spain last fall and tried some of the most amazing foods in the world under the heat of the Spanish sun, I’ve been obsessed.  Obsessed with the authentic flavours, the wine pairing…all of it.  It was a food and beverage experience I could re-live over and over again for eternity.

Real Spanish paella originated in the eastern coastal Spanish city of Valencia.  Paella exists because of rice, and rice has existed in Valencia and its surrounding area ever since the Moors planted it there over 1,300 years ago, in a lagoon called the Albufera.  The the grain is still grown in Albufera today.  The original Paella Valenciana dates to the early 1800s and consists of saffron-scented rice cooked with rabbit, chicken, local snails (vaquetes), and three types of beans: a broad string bean (ferraúra), a lima-like dried bean (garrofó), and a white bean (tavella).  We won’t be using any rabbit, snails or chicken here, but it helps that beans were part of this traditional recipe in bringing the vegan version to the table.

I have two great cookbooks in my collection, and between these two books there are three great recipes for Spanish paella.  Rick Stein’s Spain and a vegetarian cookbook, Plenty; Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi.  Many of the recipes I develop on this site are the result of taking a non-vegan classic and making it something amazing without the addition of animal product.  Because of this, I do have many non-vegan cookbooks in my collection to reference.  The photography and mood of these two books are very similar and have sparked some great ideas in my kitchen to take me back to that beach cafe in Marbella, without actually getting back on the plane (although I would go in a heartbeat if I had the chance!).  From these three recipes, I have developed my own version of paella.  Just imagine yourself in that little cafe on the boardwalk of Marbella, white wine in hand under the Spanish sun…

Serves 4
Prep time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes

olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, thinly chopped
1 small red bell pepper, cut into fine strips
1/2 fennel bulb, cut into fine strips
3-4 cloves crushed garlic
bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup Calasparra rice (or other short grain paella rice)
1/2 cup spanish white wine or sherry
1 teaspoon of saffron threads
2 cups boiling vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups frozen edamame beans (or beans of your choice).  I prefer the firmness of the edamame beans.
12 cherry tomatoes halved
5 small grilled artichokes from oil in a jar, drained and quartered
15 pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley

Heat about 2 tablespoons in a paella pan and gently fry the onion for about five minutes.  Add the fennel and the bell peppers.  and saute for about six minutes, until the peppers are soft.  Add the crushed garlic and cook another minute or so.

Into a small dish, crumble the saffron between your fingers and pour about 2 tablespoons over water over the threads to release the flavour and colour.

Remove the beans from the freezer and set aside to de-thaw.

Add the bay leaf, paprika, tumeric and cayenne to the vegetables and stir well.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and add the stock.  As the stock begins to simmer, sprinkle the rice evenly throughout the pan and finish this withe saffron and hot water.  Reduce the heat to a mimimum, and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until most of the liquid has absorbed. DO NOT stir the rice as it cooks!

Remove from the heat and salt if necessary.  Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and beans over the rice and cover the pant tightly with foil.  Leave  to rest for 10 minutes.

Now that’s a taste of Spain in Vancouver…




No Pig Pulled Pork

December 3rd, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Ok.  There is just something about making a vegan meat replacement that tastes and LOOKS like the real thing that gives one a certain sense of pride and accomplishment.  Wow.  This is the dish.

I give full credit to my friend Dalyn of The Best i Ever Had who found this little gem of brilliance.  She was watching an episode of Eat Street (one of the main things we have in common is our love for wine and a healthy addiction to the Food Network).   The Seabirds was one of the competition on the Eat Street episode she was watching.  Another gem of brilliance.  A vegan food truck!   These guys do vegan pulled pork really well and the idea sent Dalyn on a quest to find a good recipe for this piggy which she did;  here at Clean Green Simple**.  I should add that if you ever need to find something in the deepest darkest corner of the internet and can’t seem to dig it up – ask Dalyn.  She is the Google Goddess.

This is pretty simple stuff to make.  You just have to keep in mind that it contains minimal protein, so you’ll need to jack up your fake piggy with some beans or other meat free option of your choice.  It’s pretty versatile – you can do everything from tacos to carnitas to Cuban pulled pork sandwiches.  Use your imagination and go wild!  I’d love to hear about what you choose to do with your little piggy…

Serves:  approximately 4 cups of “meat”
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  20 minutes


1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5ml  (1 teaspoon) Better Than Bouillon
1 20 oz can of Jackfruit in brine, drained *

*Make sure you get Green Jackfruit in brine or water and not want ripe Jackfruit in syrup

Dry Spice:

2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch cinnamon

Wet Seasoning:

3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon canola or other neutral oil
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons maple syrup

I have adapted this recipe from a combination of the Carolina Pulled Pork sandwich and the Mexican Carnitas found on the blog Clean Green Simple.  I wanted to create a spicy pulled pork for an open-faced sandwich with jalapeno peppers and Daiya mozza cheese.  You can adapt the seasoning in any way you want depending on the flavour you are going for (a bbq version would rock as well).  This is what I did:

Drain and rinse the jackfruit in a colander with cold water.  Cut away the core of the fruit and discard with any seeds that fall away.  You will be left with the stringy bits which will later resemble the pork.

In a medium saucepan, heat some oil and saute the diced onion for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the jackfruit and the dry spices.  The spices will toast nicely as you coat the jackfruit, stirring constantly.  Continue to cook until the mixture is fragrant and the jackfruit starts to fall apart.

Add the wet seasoning mix.  Continue to cook the jackfruit, working it with a wooden spoon to break it apart into stringy pieces.

The recipe on Clean Green Simple has you spread this mixture onto a cooking tray and bake it in the oven to dry it out, but rather than having to wash another pan, I just turned down the heat to medium-low and continued to cook my jackfruit until it started to caramelize and get crispy, stirring constantly so as not to burn any bits.  That’s it!

I decided to roast a few jalapeno peppers in the oven and make a spicy open-faced sandwich with some baked beans on the side. This is what I did.

Butter half of a nice bun with Earth Balance and place butter side down in a saute pan over medium heat.  When the bun is nice and crispy, remove from the pan and set aside for a moment.  Now, you could top this with your pulled pork, some roasted jalapenos and your cheese and then broil in the oven until the cheese is nicely melted, but I like my cheese to be nice and crispy, so this is what I did:

Turn the saute pan down to medium.  In the center for the pan, place a nice portion (about 1/3 cup) of mozza cheese shreds.  Top with about 1/2 cup pulled pork and jalapenos.  You could add a bit more cheese to the top so that it glues the ingredients all together.

When the cheese is all nice and melty, remove the gooey mix from the pan and flip onto your fried bun so that the cheese is now on the top.  Top with hot baked beans or fresh jalapenos (or both) and enjoy the cheesy, spicy goodness!

Like I said, you can play around with how you season the pork – let me know what you come up with!  The possibilities are ENDLESS!!


Zucchini “Meat” Balls with a Warm Cherry Tomato Salad

October 6th, 2011 § 3 comments § permalink

My good friend Dalyn of The Best i Ever Had, sent this recipe to me the other day when we had zucchini overtaking the garden.  A challenge came to life.  I LOVE Italian.  Garlic, basil…..olive oil and gooey cheese.  Not only that, I watched a fantastic episode of Iron Chefs a few nights ago in which the secret ingredient was mozzarella.  All the signs were pointing to a post about said ingredients.  I give you Zucchini Meatballs.  Adapted from Chef David Rocco.

Serves:  6 as main course
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  30 ish minutes

For the Meatballs:

8 cups chopped zucchini (about 1″ cubes)
1 1/2 cups Daiya Mozzarella
small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2 chia “eggs” **
1 cup (250 ml) kamut or spelt breadcrumbs
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) extra virgin olive oil, for frying
salt and pepper to taste

**4 tbsp chia mixed with 1 cup of warm water.  Set aside for a few minutes until it is an egg-like consistency.

For the Tomato Salad:

20 cherry tomatoes, halved
5-6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
14 fresh basil leaves, torn
salt to taste
olive oil for sauteing

Preheat the oven to 300F.  Fill a dutch oven with salted water (about 8 cups) and bring to the boil.  Add the chopped zucchini and boil for 4 minutes.  The original recipe did not mention whether or not to peel the zucchini.  I didn’t, but I probably would in the future for aesthetic purposes.   Drain the zucchini and set aside to cool.

When the zucchini is cool enough to work with, you want to remove as much water from it as you can.  I put the pieces in a clean tea towel and squeezed as much water out as I could.  the zucchini will become almost half the volume as you started with.  You’ll be astonished how much water will come out of it.

Place the dry-ish zucchini in a large mixing bowl and add the breadcrumbs, chopped mint, cheese and chia egg.  Season with salt and pepper and roll the mixture into golf ball sized meatballs.

In a saute pan, cook the meatballs in about 1/2cm hot olive oil until golden on all sides.  Transfer to a paper towel lined dish to absorb the excess oil, and then transfer to a cookie sheet.  Repeat with all the meatballs (I’m assuming you don’t have a saute pan big enough to do all the “meat” balls at once.  I did mine in about 3 batches.

When all the meatballs have been fried, put them in the oven for about 30 minutes to make sure they are nice and crispy and cooked all the way though.   About 5 minutes before the meatballs come out of the oven, heat some olive oil in a saute pan, add the garlic, cherry tomatoes and basil and saute for about 1 minute, just until the basil has wilted slightly.  Remove from heat and serve with the hot meatballs.

Cheesy, gooey, garlicky heaven!  Enjoy.



Pasta Puttanesca

September 8th, 2011 § 6 comments § permalink

A fellow vegan blogger, Maya, from The Keen Kitchen, posted a Vegan Spaghetti Puttanesca yesterday.  It brought back a lot of memories as puttanesca was one of the very first raw vegan dishes I made way back when I decided to swap the meat for better health.  I have to tell you, I follow about 5 blogs religiously, and I love the Keen Kitchen.  It often touches a part of my past or my taste buds, and she has inspired me more than once in my own blogging.  Puttanesca is one of the many examples thus far that I’m very excited to share with you.

Back in the day, when I was racing, I was invited to an Italian themed dinner party.  It is often a toss up when I get invited to a dinner party as to whether or not I should attend.  Not everyone cooks vegan, and I’m never quite sure if there will be something for me to eat (which if often very important when drinking copious amounts of brilliant wine), nor do I want to put anyone out when I have been invited into their home to break the bread!

On this particular night, I decided to make a pasta trio by Green Chef Chad Sarno.  This  is another one of my favourite blogs, as I come from a carnivorous fine dining background and the food on the Green Chefs is of the same caliber of fine dining excellence.   The presentation alone keeps me inspired and excited about vegan food. One of the three recipes offered here was a raw vegan Puttanesca, and I love it to this day.

I’ve made a few adaptations to this recipe tonight as I wanted to serve it with spelt spaghetti (I didn’t have the time to make zucchini fettuccine).   I’ve also hit is with a considerable amount of lemon juice and olive oil which is slightly different to the original recipe.

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  12 minutes

1/2 cup olives, Kalamata, green and black olives (pits removed and finely chopped)
3 tbsp capers
½ c sun-dried tomatoes re-hydrated and julienne
3 tbsp olive oil
lemon zest of half a lemon
juice of half a lemon
2 cloves garlic minced
1 small red onion fine diced
1 fresh red chile minced
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Bring enough water to boil for your favourite pasta.  I used a spelt spaghetti tonight.  Do not over cook!

Prepare the puttanesca, making sure the ingredients are finely  and uniformly chopped.  It can be tempting to use a food processor here, but you will get the best results hand chopping (trust me, I’ve attempted the short cut).

Toss everything together with the cooked pasta and enjoy!  Quick, simple, and delicious!

**please note, most of the protein from this dish comes only from the pasta (which isn’t huge).  You could add some toasted nuts or nutritional yeast to bump up the protein if you like.

Frijoles Negros (Cuban Black Beans and Rice)

September 5th, 2011 § 5 comments § permalink

We were recently married in beautiful Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba at the Melia Las Dunas (which, by the way, we highly recommend – great resort with great food).  We had 17 guests and what we like to call a week long reception because there was nothing but fun to be had for the 7 days that our guests were with us.  It truly was one of the best experiences I have ever had in the Caribbean – and the ONLY way to get married in my opinion.

17 of our closest friends and family!

One of the other best experiences we had while at the resort was the Frijoles Negros, Cuban Black Beans and Rice.  Being vegan in Cuba was a bit of a challenge, and if I had been really smart (or had the time before we left) I probably should have prepared a little better and thought to bring more sources of vegan protein with me.  Alas, I didn’t (think or have the time before we left – although I’m pretty sure the thought crossed my mind and quickly passed) and therefore lived off this traditional Cuban dish for 14 days.

You would probably think I’d be sick of this dish by now (and maybe I am a little), but I will tell you this:  I love culinary challenges.  I thrive on them.  For me, rice has always been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to cook (and I don’t get it because your average “non-cook” can do it with their eyes closed!).  I can saute, roast, flambe, broil, make a roux, thicken a sauce, julienne, dice, make my pasta the perfect al dente….but can I cook rice?  To save my life – NO!  It always turns out mushy or crunchy or just gross (in my opinion).  I follow the directions and measure the rice to water to salt ratio PERFECTLY and still I get yuck rice.

Ok, so not big deal because I don’t actually love rice.  I can live without it.  I love quinoa, barley, millet, the occasional cous cous, aborio rice (risotto) and many other great grains and starches.  There are lots of alternative grains that I can cook and love to eat that have kept me out of the rice cooking line of work!  But now that I’ve tasted another classic Caribbean rice and beans, it’s a challenge that I’m determined to overcome.

So what’s going to be different about this kitchen adventure that really should be one of the easiest things in the world to cook?  Our new rice cooker.  This may be my saving grace on the one thing that I have never been able to cook!  There was a recipe for Orleans Spicy Beans and Rice in the rice cooker cookbook, so I’ve just taken the rice to beans proportion of that recipe and added Cuban Frijoles Negros spices.  Here goes nothing!

Prep Time:  15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves:  4

1 15 oz can drained and rinsed black beans
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tsp olive oil for sauteing
1 celery stalk, trimmed and diced
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
5-6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp oregano leaves
1/8 – 1/4 tsp dried chipotle pepper (optional)
1 bay leaf
6 Tbsp fresh minced cilantro for garnish
1 lime sliced in 6 wedges, to serve with the rice & bean

1.  Put Cuban guitar music in the CD player.  Very important.

So here’s what I did in the rice cooker.  If you are doing this stove-top, you would do exactly the same thing, but let the rice cook for about 30-40 minutes, until the stock has been absorbed) but really, lets be serious – what do I know about cooking rice!

Rice Cooker Method

2.  Place the olive oil in the rice cooker bowl, cover and turn on for 1 minute.  The covering part is quite important, because without the weight of the lid, the cooker will only turn to “warm mode”, at least on my rice cooker.  I’ve determined that the rice cooker works on a weight basis (that’s my theory anyway).

Add the onions and celery and stir to coat with the hot oil.  Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onions and celery are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir in the rice and spices.  Stir until the rice is opaque which will be about 3-4 minutes.  Throw in the bay leaf, the vegetable stock and the rinsed black beans.  Here my rice cooker turned to “warm mode” again, so I had to turn it back to cook (just be on the lookout for your cooker turning modes on you).  Cook until the rice cooker switches to warm.  It should be about 18 minutes all together from this point -but I don’t ask questions.  Rice cooker, you are the boss.

When the rice is done remove and discard the bay leaf.  Add the chopped cilantro and toss to combine.

Serve up hot with a Cuban beverage of your choice!  Now where did I put the rum…

Mexican Bean Burgers

September 3rd, 2011 § 4 comments § permalink

A few nights ago I had an amazing opportunity to cook a meal alongside
my good friend Dalyn (http://thebestieverhad.wordpress.com/).  What did we make?  The most
AMAZING, flavourful Mexican bean burgers I’ve ever had in my life.
They were so good I made them again a few days later and am STILL
eating them as leftovers at lunch!   I think you’ll agree these
burgers are bursting at the seams with flavor and richness.  I will
make the comment that our “condiments” and toppings played a part in
how good these were, so I do recommend you try our suggestions there.

Without further adieu:

Makes 8 burger patties
Prep time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  4-6 minutes


1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 Portobello mushroom, finely diced
1 14 oz can organic lentils
½ 14 oz can organic refried black beans
½ cup (or a good handful) fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded zucchini (optional)
1 cup whole rolled oats
1 tsp ancho chilli powder (less or more depending on how hot you like it)
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lime

The fixings:

Roasted jalapeno peppers
Roasted red onion
Fresh avocado
Vegan mayonnaise

Preheat the oven to 400F.  In an oven safe dish, cut the red onion in
half.  Cut the tops of the jalapeno peppers, cut in half and remove
the seeds and membrane.  Place the onion, flat side down, and peppers
in the pan and drizzle with olive oil, making sure to coat the
underside so they don’t stick to the pan (a good amount of oil is fine
here as it’s nice to use it later when frying up the burgers).

In a skillet, heat some olive or grape seed oil in a pan over
medium/high heat.  Sautee the onion until translucent.  Add the diced
mushrooms and shredded zucchini if you are using it.  Continue to cook until the mushrooms have released their
water.  Season with chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and salt
and pepper.   Set aside.

** note that the first time we made these, we processed all the ingredients in a food processor (shown here). When I made them a second time, I opted for a chunkier version and I only processed the oats, lentils and cilantro.

In a food processor, add the lentils, oats, and cilantro.  Pulse until
the mixture is coarsely chopped (not completely pulverized).   In a
large mixing bowl add the lentil mixture to the refried beans and the
mushroom/onion mixture, lime juice, and combine well.  Place in the fridge for
about 20 minutes to firm.  Form into about 1/3 cup portioned patties.

Meanwhile, check on the peppers and onion roasting in the oven.  Turn
when one side is golden and brown.  When they have finished roasting,
remove and place on a plate to top the burgers.  Reserve the oil from
the pan to fry the burgers.

Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat and place the burgers in the
pan.  Cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Serve on a wheat -free bun (or any bun of your liking) with Veganaise (or Veganaise mixed in equal
proportion with my vegan pesto is to DIE for),  roasted onion,
jalapenos and fresh avocado.  We chopped up some cilantro as well for a
little extra kick.

Enjoy the flavor explosion!

Spinach and Mushroom Risotto

June 30th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

It’s July 1 tomorrow and summer still hasn’t really arrived so it’s time again for an “earthy” hot meal tonight (although this would serve up nicely on a patio as well with a nice glass of pinot grigio).  I wanted to do something really quick and easy so that I could enjoy the rest of the evening without too much work or clean-up.  This is what I came up with:

Serves:  4
Prep Time:  20 minutes
Cook Time:  25 minutes

1 cup arborio rice
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 yellow onion (chopped finely)
olive oil for sautéing
3-4 (or more) cloves garlic, minced
½ cup white wine
1/4 cup soy milk
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup Daiya Mozza Shreds
Salt & Pepper to taste
a few cherry tomatoes for garnish

Arborio rice is an Italian short-grain rice named after the town of Arborio Vercellese, in the Po Valley, where it is grown. Like pasta, arborio rice is prepared al dente, which means that it should be slightly firm to the bite – a degree of doneness that might seem underdone in ordinary white rice.  Because this rice undergoes less milling than ordinary long-grained rice, arborio retains more of its natural starch content. Cooking releases this starch, giving risotto its creamy consistency.  Arborio rice is also used for rice pudding.  I feel another post coming on – rice pudding is MY FAVOURITE!!

Measure the peas and set aside to thaw slightly.

Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan and add finely chopped onion. Stir often until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the sliced mushrooms and cook an additional 4-5 minutes covered and stirring occasionally until the mushrooms start to lose their moisture.  Remove the lid and cook off the liquid until the mushroom and onions start to brown (this might take 10 minutes or so).  Add rice and stir to evenly coat,  about 1 minute.

In a separate pot, heat the vegetable stock to a simmer.

While constantly stirring rice, pour in the white wine. De-glaze the pan with the white wine (that’s just fancy talk for adding the white wine to the pot and letting it simmer until the lovely caramelized bits have loosened off the side of the pot and combined into your sautéed mix).   Scrape up and stir in any brown bits from pan bottom. Stir often until rice absorbs wine – about 1 to 2 minutes.

Gradually pour in 1 cup of vegetable broth. Stir often until liquid is absorbed, add the second cup and repeat this until all the stock has been added to the rice and is fully absorbed.  If rice is not tender, continue to stir in stock, 1/4 cup at a time, until the rice is tender. Once all the liquid has been absorbed , and the rice is tender, stir in the Daiya and continue to stir until it has melted.  Add peas and stir often until hot – another  2 to 3 minutes, and finally add spinach and continue to stir until it has wilted. Spoon into bowls and polish off the remainder of the wine you opened to de-glaze the pan.

Garnish with a few cherry tomatoes and perhaps a few pine nuts.  Enjoy!

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