Sesame Slaw with Warm Garlicky Seitan

It’s official: seitan is my favorite vegetarian protein. I’m such a sucker for any recipe that includes seitan. With the weather warming up, I was looking for a cold salad recipe that looked filling. And this slaw recipe from page 58 of Isa Does It fit the bill. This was fairly quick and easy to make. True to the weeknight billing of Isa Does It. Isa has you pan fry the seitan, which makes the seitan a bit tough and pretty crisp. Overall, this was tasty, but not amazing. The edamame were a nice addition. I ate it all week happily, so it couldn’t be too bad. I’d make it again if I found myself wanting to make a quick filling Asian-inspired slaw or I had the ingredients.

Asparagus Frittata

A few weeks back I was getting ready to leave for a trip and needed to use up the asparagus from my garden before I left. I’d be doing a lot to get ready for the trip and didn’t feel like spending a lot of time cooking. Thus, I was intrigued by this quick recipe for an asparagus frittata that called for broiling instead of baking. Alas, in this case you get what you wait for. Speeding up the cooking process under the broiler technically worked, but the result was much less enjoyable than a baked version. The timing on this recipe was a big issue and in order to fully cook the center it was necessary to dry out the top. I can’t imagine cooking for the upper end provided (10 minutes). Even the 8 I used was dubious. It ended up not quite burned, but very dry. The recipe only called for 4 eggs so this was a pretty thin frittata as well, not my preference.

I’d say if you’re in a big pinch you can use the broiler to cook your frittata. But unless you’re in a mealtime crisis, use the regular oven method.

https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/trisha-yearwood/asparagus-frittata-2774083

Rice Noodles with Eggs, Broccoli, and Dark Soy Sauce

Recently, one of my neighbors was giving away a bunch of vegetarian cookbooks. In the pile was Real Vegetarian Thai by Nancie McDermott, a cookbook I know my mother owns and likes.

The first recipe I tried was this rice noodle dish from page 164. Nancie describes the dish as easy to prepare and indeed it was. I could see myself making this on a weeknight when I want something comforting and indulgent as an alternative to ordering take out.

The recipe calls for a dark sweet soy sauce called si-yu but offers an alternative combo of regular soy sauce and brown sugar. I used this option since I didn’t have si-yu. But next time I go to the asian market I’ll be looking for si-yu so I can try making this again. The other change I made was reducing the oil. Nancie calls for 3 tbsp. I only used 4 tsp. Next time I think I’d try cutting it to 1 tbsp since the dish was still pretty high calorie.

I followed the timing of the dish carefully and the veggies came out crisp, just like I like them. The flavor of the dish was peppery and savory. And the eggs add a creamy aspect. Very yummy. Nancie calls for offering chili vinegar as a condiment, but I didn’t have any. So instead I used about a teaspoon of rice vinegar on each bowl, which added to the flavor. I’d like to pick up chili vinegar for the next time I make this.

Update: So far I’ve made this twice, once for myself and once for my sister’s family while in Germany. It was a hit both times. Easy, tasty, filling, and indulgent. A very good weeknight dish indeed. The only issue we had with the dish was the ratio of pasta to broccoli. Everyone, including my seven-year-old niece, agreed it needed more broccoli. Although I think I messed up the proportions when I made it for my sister’s family, so it probably was more that than the recipe. Still, I’d do 4 cups of broccoli instead of 3 and probably 7 ounces of pasta instead of 8 and see how that went. The other issue I had both times was volume. Flipping this recipe without a big wok is really hard. Next time I’m going to try making it in my cast iron dutch oven and see how that goes instead.

Borlotti Bean Mole with Roast Winter Squash

My sister posted this recipe on her blog. I’ve never actually made mole. Since this recipe just kind of creates the mole in the broth of the stew, it seemed like a good starter mole recipe. I used 85% chocolate instead of the 70% called for. I used two dried red chilies and two jalapenos and there was absolutely no spice in the final dish. It’s possible that somehow I ended up with jalapenos with no spice in them. Who knows. I also used double the kale called for.

The recipe calls for you to cook the dish in the oven for two hours. I did do this, but my sister says she didn’t and the dish tasted fine. So it might be an unnecessary step.

The final dish had a nice flavor, and I enjoyed eating it the first time. But I didn’t want to eat it the next day. It just wasn’t interesting or indulgent enough to hold my interest. I added 8 oz of cubed seitan, and I thought this really helped the dish. With the seitan it felt more indulgent and I enjoyed it for the rest of the week.

Hot and Sour Soup

I’d never tried Hot and Sour Soup because usually at restaurants it’s not vegetarian. I’ve always wanted to try it though, so I was excited when I found this recipe from The Woks of Life.

The hardest part of making this recipe was finding the ingredients. I’d never cooked with a number of them, including dried spiced tofu, lily flowers, and wood ear mushrooms. I spent a really long time wandering around my local asian market looking for the ingredients. It took me a particularly long time to realize that dried spiced tofu would be in the refrigerated section with the regular tofu.

Once I had all the ingredients, this was really easy and quick to make. And quite tasty. My only issue was that it was a bit too spicy for me. Next time I made it I’d half the white pepper called for.

Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Creamy Vegan Potato-Leek Soup

I already had all the ingredients required for this recipe from Isa Does It, so I decided to try it. It was pretty easy to make. The recipe tells you to mash the potatoes after cooking them with a potato masher. But I don’t have a potato masher, so I took out about 1/3 of the cooked mixture and blended them with the immersion blender. It left so potato lumps in, but overall the technique worked alright.

I enjoyed the soup, but it also wasn’t anything special. It was about as good as any potato leek soup I’ve tried. So if you particularly need a vegan version of this classic, this is a good option. But if not, maybe just stick to a standard recipe.

Kabocha Udon Winter Stew

I’ve had Veganomicon for years, but have never made any of the soup recipes in the coobook. However, recently I’ve had luck with the soup recipes in my new Isa Chandra Moskowitz cookbook Isa Does It. So I thought I’d go back to Veganomicon and pick out some soup recipes to try. I started with this recipe for a Japanese-style broth with squash, udon noodles, and tofu because the picture in the book makes it look so appealing.

I used butternut squash instead of kabocha, since I had trouble finding kabocha. Isa says to cook the squash for an extra 15 minutes. But I think this was too long. The squash ended up a little overly soft. I think I would recommend reducing this to an extra 5 minutes.

The broth in the soup was pretty good. My main problem with the recipe was textural. Everything in it was mushy. The only thing chewy was the mushrooms, and there were only a few. The recipe says to cook the noodle as instructed on the package, but this was a mistake because they ended up overdone in the soup. If I made this again I’d undercook the noodles by 3ish minutes to maintain some texture. I’d also double the mushrooms. But I doubt I’d make this again. It just wasn’t good enough.

https://recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detail.asp?recipe=481294

Green Bean Salad with Spicy Thai Dressing

I made a modified version of this thai green bean salad as a side to tofu larb. I omitted the dried shrimp and used cashews instead of peanuts since I didn’t have peanuts on hand. I enjoyed the salad. It was quick to make and very tasty. The only thing is it really needed to marinate for two days before the flavor fully soaked into the green beans.

https://www.delicious.com.au/recipes/green-bean-salad-spicy-thai-dressing/d8f3d75f-9612-4c0f-883d-046071c93b8b

Tofu Larb

I was recently turned on to the miracle of tofu lettuce wraps by a friend. This recipe for a vegetarian twist on Laotian larb intrigued me. The recipe is essentially a Laotian-flavored tofu salad in leaves of lettuce. Since I’ve never eaten traditional larb, I have nothing to compare it to.

I didn’t mind these, but didn’t love them either. The tofu mixture just wasn’t quite flavorful enough to keep my attention for more than one meal. Plus, every time I saw the mixture in the fridge, it just made me crave my favorite spiced tofu salad recipe. I did enjoy the interesting texture created by the toasted rice powder and fried onions. An interesting recipe to try, but I don’t think I’ll make it for a main course again. Though it might make a nice appetizer for a Thai/Laotian dinner. One commenter recommended adding vegan fish paste. I might try that for more flavor.