Posts Tagged ‘recipe


i <3 Hearts of Palm

I’ve had salads with hearts of palm in restaurants once or twice, and I never objected to them. It wasn’t until a couple months ago, however, that I tried this vegetable plain…and I’ve been hooked ever since. They have such a unique flavor; it almost seems a shame to add much to them at all. As such, my mom and I have been buying them all spring and eating them straight from the can. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I just wrote “Buy hearts of palm. Eat straight from can,” so I decided to try something a little fancier.

Well, fancier this is. It may seem like a lot of work, but it’s the slice-and-place kind of work; it doesn’t require much in the way of physical exertion or technical skills.  So, if you’ve got the time and need an amuse bouche that’s attractive, tasty, and totally vegan, these may be for you. If not, buy hearts of palm. Eat straight from can.


1 can hearts of palm

1 carrot, thinly sliced

1/2 avocado

1 tbs lemon

3-4 endives


Wash the endives, chop off the bottoms, and separate the leaves. I found that the inner leaves were best for this appetizer, as they’re milder and less bitter than the outer leaves.

Slice the carrot as thinly as you can. I used a potato peeler.

Cut the hearts of palm into .25-.5 inch slices. Hearts of palm are sort of layered, so you can easily push the circles in the middle of each slice right out.

Mash the avocado with the lemon.

Lay one carrot slice down the middle of each endive leaf. If your carrot slices are too long, cut them; if they’re too short, use two and overlap them slightly.

Using a small spoon or butter knife, fill each slice of heart of palm with the mashed avocado. Place near the end of the endive leaves.


Pistachio Pesto Pasta

I think nuts should be a bigger part of the average American diet. They are naturally tasty, they come in all different varieties, and many kinds of nuts have a lot to offer nutritionally. What’s your favorite kind?

Where my personal tastes are concerned, I’ve always found that my favorite nuts to eat are the ones that have the lowest nutritional value. On one end of the nut spectrum, we have walnuts. They’re full of fiber, B vitamins, and Omega 3 fatty acids. They have been shown to lower cholesterol and be good for the heart. Too bad I think they look like larvae and their texture, to me, seems stale. On the other end of the nut spectrum: peanuts. (Technically a legume, I know…) They’re sweet and tasty, fun to shell, and don’t even get me started on the butter…but alas, peanuts are high in fat and calories.

I’ve always assumed that pistachios, being almost as rich and versatile as peanuts, probably had little to offer nutritionally. That’s why I was surprised when I recently learned that pistachios actually have a lot of the same health benefits as walnuts! What good news! (Though anyone who reads this blog can tell you that poor nutritional value won’t necessarily stop me from eating something I like.)

In honor of my new favorite nut, I made a pistachio pesto. I think it would be good plain, on bread, in a sandwich, and probably lots of other ways that are more creative than those. Today, I just added it to some pasta and trust me, I’ll be making this again!


For the pesto:

(makes a little more than 1 cup of pesto)

1 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios, shelled*

2 cups spinach

1/4 cup fresh parsley

3 tbs olive oil

2 tbs lemon juice

1-2 tbs water

salt and pepper, to taste

*Hopefully you can find the shelled ones at the store…otherwise, you’ll have to remove the shells yourself.

For two servings of pasta:

about 2 tbs olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 large handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

2 servings of your favorite kind of pasta (I used fettucini)

salt and pepper, to taste


Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until they’re pretty finely ground. Add the rest of your pesto ingredients and process until smooth. If you prefer a thinner pesto, you can add a little more water. I kept mine pretty thick though, figuring I’d thin it out later if I needed to.

To make the pasta, boil some water and add the noodles. A few minutes before they are done, heat a couple tablespoons olive oil in a pan and add the minced garlic and shallot. When they seem softer and more translucent, add some pistachio pesto to the pan and mix. For two servings of pasta, I only used about 1/4 cup of my pesto.

Drain the pasta when it’s finished, reserving a couple tablespoons of the water to help thin the pesto.

Add the pasta and water to the pesto, garlic, and shallot. Toss to combine. Add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper and toss again.


Banana Pudding with Vegan ‘Nilla Wafers

When I step into a bakery, I often look right past the popular cupcakes and cookies and opt instead for a cup of banana pudding. Smooth and creamy with a bit of crunch from the vanilla wafers…what could be more satisfying? This version is 100% vegan with soy milk, soy whipped cream, and vegan vanilla wafers. It makes about four servings.


1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tbs corn starch

about an inch of a vanilla bean (recommended) OR 1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups soy milk

1 tbs Earth Balance

2 ripe bananas

about 2 cups Soy Whip

about 1 cup crushed vanilla wafer cookies

(Lots of supermarkets sell store-brand ‘nilla wafer cookies, and I know I’ve seen vegan versions before. Of course, things like that have a way of becoming much harder to find when you actually need them, so I ended up making some from scratch. I modified this recipe, substituting an Ener-G egg for the real egg and Earth Balance for the butter. The vegan batter was a bit crumbly, so I rolled them into balls and flattened them with my palms, rather than piping them onto the baking sheet, as suggested. They came out great!)


Combine the sugar and corn starch in a small mixing bowl. If you are using a real vanilla bean, cut it in half the long way, scrape out the inside, and add that to the sugar mixture.

Heat the soy milk in a small saucepan. If you are using vanilla extract, add it to the soy milk.

Stirring over low heat, slowly add the sugar mixture to the soy milk, mixing to combine.

Continue heating and stirring. The sugar should dissolve and, after a few minutes, the mixture should thicken to almost to a pudding consistency.

Take the pudding off the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes, then move it to the refrigerator. It will continue to thicken as it cools.

If you haven’t already, crumble the wafer cookies. I put mine in a ziplock bag and hit them with a rolling pin.

Cut the bananas into thin slices.

When the pudding is completely cool, take it out of the refrigerator and add about two cups of soy whip. Mix to combine.

Assemble the pudding in individual glasses or in a larger glass bowl.

Begin by spooning in a layer of the pudding:

Then add a layer of banana:

and a layer of cookie crumbs:










Add a second layer of each:



















and a final layer of pudding:

I topped mine with a bit more whipped cream and some cookie crumbs. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Fresh Spring Rolls with Sweet and Sour Sauce

With the weather finally getting warm and the days getting longer, can you guess my inspiration for today’s post? These spring rolls are fun to make and great for a light lunch or midday snack. Crispy, fresh, and complimented nicely by the flavorful sweet sauce. The recipe makes about four rolls and half a cup of dipping sauce.


Sauce Ingredients:

6 tbs rice vinegar

3 tbs light brown sugar

1 tbs Mirin (Japanese cooking wine)

1 tbs lemon juice

1 tsp sesame oil


Spring Roll Ingredients:

1/2 a head of radicchio, shredded

1 handful of pea sprouts

2 carrots, julienned

1/2 a seedless cucumber, julienned

1-2 stalks of celery, cut in thin strips

1 tbs minced cilantro

1 ripe avocado, sliced

Spring roll wrappers

(I found them in the Asian section of my regular grocery store.)



In a small saucepan over low heat, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so the sauce can reduce and thicken. Take off heat and set aside.

Prepare all of the vegetables.

The spring roll wrappers are brittle when you get them from the store. To cook them, fill a skillet with an inch or two of water and bring it to a simmer. Hold the wrapper on one side and dip the other half in the water. Hold it there for a few seconds, until you can feel that it goes soft. Then, pull it out of the water and carefully turn it so that you’re holding the soft end and dipping the first half in the water. When the whole wrapper is soft, let the excess water drip back into the skillet and lay the wrapper out on a cutting board or other surface.

Lay the vegetables down the middle of the spring roll wrapper, leaving an inch or so at the top and bottom.

Fold the top and bottom of the wrapper over the vegetables.

Fold the right side of the wrapper over the vegetables.

Gently push the vegetables to the right, pulling the right side of the wrapper tightly over them. Then, continue rolling as tightly as you can.

Cut the spring rolls in half, if desired, and serve with the sweet and sour sauce.



Bruschetta is a great way to start a meal that’s sure to please vegans and non-vegans alike. If you’re having guests over, you can make the topping a day ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. In fact, I find that the flavors of this dish mellow after a day or two and it tastes even better, so you will still be able to enjoy it the day after the party– if there’s any left.

Serves 6-8.


1 pint grape tomotoes

1 tbs minced shallot

1 clove mashed garlic

1 tbs fresh minced parsley

2 tbs fresh minced basil

1/2 tbs balsamic vinegar

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 French baguette, sliced


Slice the tomatoes in half and scoop out the juicy, seedy inside with a grapefruit spoon.

You don’t have to worry about getting every last seed, but you want to get rid of most of the juice so that your bruschetta won’t be too soggy.

When your tomatoes are mostly juice-free, chop them smaller.

Combine the chopped tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl.

Mix gently to combine.

Serve atop sliced baguette and garnish with fresh basil leaves, if desired.


Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

In college, I spent a semester abroad in Paris. Contrary to what I often hear about the French and their attitude towards foreigners, I found Parisians to be very friendly. I was there during the months leading up to the 2008 election, and when strangers heard my accent they would smile and say “Obama?” I wasn’t sure exactly what the question was, but I would answer, “Oui, Obama!” and we would give each other a thumbs-up. I never felt alienated for being an American in Paris…I did, however, feel alienated for being a vegetarian in Paris.

In traditional French restaurants, the only vegetarian meal is often a salad. When I would go to a bakery and ask for a vegetarian sandwich, I would usually get a dirty look and a suggestion of chicken or tuna. And that is the story of why I subsisted for four months on mainly baguettes and spreads to put on the baguettes.

My topping of choice for bread, crepes, and fruit was always Nutella, but I haven’t had any since I’ve returned to the States and to my healthier vegan diet. Today I decided to make a vegan version of my old favorite, adapted from a blog post by David Lebovitz. It won’t be perfectly smooth like Nutella from a jar, but it’s perfectly tasty. It’s Not-ella.

Makes about 12 ounces.


1 1/6 cup blanched hazelnuts

1/6 cup whole almonds

1/8 cup non-dairy creamer

3/8 cup plain soy milk

5.5 oz vegan dark chocolate

1 tbs maple syrup

2 tbs granulated sugar

pinch of salt

A note about the ingredients:

Try to find hazelnuts that have already been stripped of their skins; stripping them yourself is a pain. David Lebovitz suggested, in his post, that you can probably omit the almonds and use all hazelnuts instead. I like David Lebovitz and he’s probably right, but I also like almonds, so I left them in. For the non-dairy creamer, I used sweetened Mimicreme. I would have preferred Silk, but I couldn’t find it today at the store. Finally, though any vegan dark chocolate should work (including chocolate chips), I used a chocolate bar called Alter Eco.


Spread the hazelnuts and almonds on a baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes, until golden brown.

Put the creamer, soy milk, and chocolate in a microwavable bowl. Heat in the microwave until the chocolate is melted, stopping at 30 second intervals to stir.

When the chocolate is melted, add the maple syrup, sugar, and salt and stir to combine.

Once the nuts are lightly toasted, put them in the bowl of a food processor. Grind them as finely as you can.

Add half of the chocolate mixture to the nuts and process until smooth.

Scrape the sides of the food processor with a spatula and add the rest of the chocolate mixture. Again, process until smooth.

Transfer the Notella to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. It will thicken a bit when it’s cold, so you might want to microwave it for a few seconds before serving it as a spread.

Wondering what to do with all this Notella? Stay tuned to Vegan Valentine!


Julia Child’s –Where’s the Beef?!– Bourguignon




The best thing about having a food blog is that it encourages me to try recipes I wouldn’t normally try. I don’t eat a lot of stew, for example. Like many four-year-olds and autistic children, I much prefer the different foods on my plate to be separated and not touching. I wanted to try imitating a traditional meat dish, though, and I do love seitan, so I decided to adapt the beef bourguignon recipe from Julia Child’s cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

I’m happy to report that a vegetarian version of this classic works very well. I can’t personally vouch for its authenticity since I’ve never had the real thing, but my meat-eating boyfriend/taste tester assured me that it was on target. (And just so you know he’s honest, I’ll disclose that he called my fortune cookies “off the mark.”)

If I made this recipe again, I would change one thing. I felt there was too high a seitan-to-everything-else ratio. I made enough for about 4 servings. If you try making this recipe at home, I would recommend either cutting the seitan recipe in half to make 2 servings or doubling the sauce and vegetables to make about 6 servings. (But, to be clear, I wrote the recipe down exactly as I made it.) If anyone tries this at home, please let me know how it goes!

Here is what you’ll need:

For the seitan:

•       2 cups vital wheat gluten

•       1 tsp garlic powder

•       1 tsp smoked paprika

•       1 ¼ cups vegetable stock

•       2 tbs soy sauce

•       1/4 cup pan-searing flour (all purpose is ok)

•       1/4 cup vegetable oil

For the sauce:

•       1 1/2 cups full-bodied red wine (I used a Chianti that I found in a half bottle size)

•       1 1/2 cups vegetable stock

•       1 tsp tomato paste

•       2 cloves pressed garlic

•       1/2 tsp thyme

•       1 bay leaf

•       salt and pepper, to taste

For the sides:

•       10-15 small white onions

•       2 tbs Earth Balance

•       1/4 cup vegetable stock

•       1 tsp salt

•       1/2 tsp sugar

•       2 sliced carrots

•       16 oz cremini or baby bella mushrooms

•       2 tbs olive oil

•       fettucini or your preferred type of pasta (optional)

•       fresh parsley, for garnish


To make the seitan, combine the wheat gluten, garlic powder, and paprika in a mixing bowl. Combine the vegetable stock and soy sauce in a separate bowl and pour the wet ingredients into the dry.

Mix with a spatula until it becomes too difficult. Then press and knead the dough with your hands until it is smooth. It shouldn’t take too much kneading and it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Rip the dough up into small pieces. They should be a little smaller than you want them to be in the end, because they will expand when they cook in the stew.

Just a note: if you’re short on time, you could try buying premade, uncooked seitan, which is available in many grocery stores, and skip all the directions up to this point. I’ve never tried it though, so I can’t guarantee it’s any good or vouch for particular brands.

Sprinkle the seitan pieces with flour and toss to coat.

In the bottom of a large pot with a lid, heat the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil on medium heat. Place a piece of seitan in the pot. If the oil is hot enough, it should sizzle. Once you know it’s hot enough, add the rest of the seitan to the oil, being careful not to splash any hot oil on yourself.

Let the seitan get brown on the bottom, and then flip it so it can brown on the other side. This adds a skin-like outside layer to the fake meat.

Don’t pile the seitan up or the pieces will stick together. If your pot isn’t big enough, just do a few pieces at a time.

Here is what the browned seitan should start to look like:

If you were browning your seitan a few pieces at a time, now you can put it all back in the pot. Pour in the wine and the vegetable stock. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir gently to combine.

Bring the pot to a simmer, then put its lid on.

The stew should remain at a simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, so keep an eye on it and adjust the heat if you need to.

Now is a good time to take a break! Ideally, the vegetables will finish sauteing around the same time that the stew finishes simmering. I waited about an hour and a half before I started the next step, and the timing worked out pretty well.

When you’re ready, the next step is to brown braise the onions. You’ll have to peel them first, which is annoying. Sorry. It’s easier, though, if you blanch them first.

In a large skillet with a lid, sauté the onions in Earth Balance until they’re lightly browned.

Then add 1/4 cup of vegetable stock, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp sugar. Mix them around.

Put the lid on and let the onions simmer for about 20 minutes, until they’re soft.

They should look like this:

Note: if you’re planning to serve your seitan on a bed of pasta, now would be a good time to start boiling the water.

Add the carrots, mushrooms and olive oil to the onions. Season with salt and pepper.

When the veggies have cooked and the seitan has been simmering for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, turn the heat under the skillet to low.

Using a slotted spoon, take the seitan out of the sauce and add it to the veggies. Also remove the bay leaf and discard. Leave the sauce in the pot.

You should have about 1 ½ cups of a thick sauce. If it’s too thick, you can add some more vegetable stock. If it’s too thin, you can boil it down a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste.

When the sauce is ready, pour it over the seitan and veggies.

Serve this dish alone or on a bed of noodles. I think potatoes would also be good, but I didn’t try it. Garnish with fresh parsley.

EDIT 10/14/2011: Please be advised that some readers have had problems making this recipe at home. See the comments for more details. It’s a time-consuming recipe, so I don’t want anyone to be unhappy with the results!








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