I borrowed The Veggie Chinese Takeout Cookbook by Kwoklyn Wan from one of my family members when I was back in Texas last August. By March, I still hadn’t made a single recipe. I decided to buckle down and find some dishes to make. I chose this recipe for Crispy Tofu with Spring Onions on page 65, along with Chinese Broccoli in Garlic and Ginger Sauce. I used true spring onions from my yard and to make it low fodmap, I fried the white parts in oil ahead of making the dish and then included just the green parts in the finished dish. The recipe calls for 2 tsp of chile bean paste. I used 1/4 tsp of Gochujang. The spice didn’t really come through. Next time I’d use 1/2 tsp. I also used vegetable oil instead of peanut oil, since I don’t keep peanut oil around.
This is an easy, fast weeknight dish. The longest part was cleaning and cutting the spring onions, which would have been way faster if I hadn’t used the onions from my yard, which are very diverse in size and much smaller overall than what you’d get at the store. Be warned, this recipe calls for 10 ounces of spring onion, which is A LOT. It doesn’t sound like so much until you consider how light these veggies truly are.
Overall, I liked this dish. It was easy to make and was a great dish to use all the spring onions in my yard when I’m short on other veggies in the house. I’m sure it would have been better with the white par of the onion included, but I still enjoyed it just with the green parts. I’ll keep this in my back pocket for when I’m in a dinner pinch and in the mood for Chinese.
I’ve had caldo verde on my list of dishes to try for a while. I recently found myself with extra collards during an especially cold March week. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to try this recipe for Caldo Verde from the New York Times. The recipe is not vegan, but was easily made so by swapping the sausage for my favorite vegan sausage and the chicken broth for homemade veggie broth.
The ingredient list is short and the recipe was easy and quick to make. It would make a great weeknight dish. The whole thing was done in 30 minutes. The recipe said to cook the potatoes for 25 minutes, but mine were done in 15.
Even with the list of flavorings pretty limited (garlic, onion, broth), the soup was plenty flavorful. I made the soup by using onion and garlic oil instead of whole garlic and onion. I’m sure the dish would have been even better with the onion and garlic left in. I do think the dish would have benefited from a little more liquid. Next time I’d add an extra cup of broth. The recipe said to use 3-5 ounces of sausage. I used five and it was too much. Next time I’d use 3-4. Also, the vegan sausage became a bit water logged after I added it to the soup. Next time I’d keep it separate and just add the pieces each time I ate it.
I’ve been very excited to start eating Indian food again. I got some canned chickpeas and decided to make Chana Masala. I’ve made this recipe from The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker a number of times, though it’s been a while. But I’ve never made the recipe with canned chickpeas before and it required a bit of experimentation. The original recipe says to cook dry chickpeas in the slow cooker for 6-8 hours before adding the rest of the ingredients and cooking for another hours. I skipped the pre-cooking and just added all the ingredients together and cooked them for an hour. I also had to guess a bit with the water. The recipe calls for 6 cups of water with the dry beans. I added 2 cups to the canned beans, which turned out to be too much. Next time I’d only add 1 cup. Since I haven’t made the recipe in a while, I can’t remember if I followed the ingredients completely before. The cumin seeds called for seemed high to me. Instead of the tablespoon of cumin seeds called for, I used 2 tsp. I definitely think that was enough. The flavor of the final dish was good.
On a day when my feet were hurting too much to go to the store or spend much time in the kitchen, I found this simple recipe for marinated tofu cabbage salad in my old copy of Diet for a New World. Except for the celery seed, everything in the recipe, which has a very limited list of ingredients, was a already in my kitchen. It came together super fast. The tofu is just marinated and added to the salad uncooked. I was a bit skeptical of this, but it came out really tasty. The soft texture of the tofu actually works really well in the coleslaw like salad. Instead of using all sunflower seeds, I used half sunflower seeds and half pumpkin seeds, which I think added some extra interest to the dish. I halved the oil called for in the recipe and thought there was definitely enough oil in it. Even Ian who adds extra oil to a lot of things I make ate it without any amendment. This is a fantastic weeknight dish. Easy, satisfying, and surprisingly tasty for something so simple.
Now that I’m a gardener, every summer I find myself scouring the internet for novel things to do with zucchini and summer squash. This recipe from the New York Times looked interesting. I love olives and capers, and since I’m avoiding beans at the moment, I liked that it included eggs as a protein source.
The recipe was simple enough to make. It does use quite a few dishes and pots, but isn’t super time consuming. I left out the red pepper flakes since I’m avoiding spice. And I used white wine vinegar instead of red wine vinegar since that’s what I had. And finally, I used maple syrup instead of sugar so that Ian would eat it (turns out he’s off maple syrup now too so that was a bust). Since the recipe give no guidance on salt, that required quite a bit of trial and error to get right. And the step where you pre-soak the capers seemed pointless to me since I ended up adding a lot of salt after.
In general I object to recipes that don’t offer at least a salt range. But otherwise, I really enjoyed this recipe. It was definitely better after it had marinated at least a day. I recommend turning it occasionally to ensure it marinates throughout. Without the red pepper flakes, it was just the tiniest bit on the bland side (maybe I’d try paprika next time?). But overall, this was a hit. I happily ate it all week without complaint. And Ian’s mom Sally ate Ian’s portion and said she liked it a lot. I’ll make this one again for sure, maybe with just a bit of tweaking on the flavors.
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.
Update: Weirdly, even though I didn’t love these the first time I made them, I’ve found myself craving them since then. I finally made them again, this time adding 1/2 tbsp vegan fish sauce and using crushed peanuts instead of crispy onion since I’m eating low fodmap. The fish sauce did the trick and this was oh so tasty. I’m adjusting the score to reflect the fact that I really like these now!
For my birthday this year my friend Ellen got me a new Isa Chandra Moskowitz cookbook called Isa Does It. I’ve been very excited to try some recipes from the book. One of the first recipes I picked out to try was this recipe for soup with wild rice, white beans, and seitan. It stood out to me since I have been looking for more wild rice recipes and I really like seitan.
I used the seitan recipe in the book instead of my usual Simple Seitan recipe from Veganomicon. The seitan didn’t come out as well as it usually does. It was more loosely structured and spongy. In the future I’ll stick with my usual seitan recipe.
I enjoyed this recipe and it was indeed easy to make. It was flavorful and the seitan made it feel like more of a treat. However, I thought it had a bit too much rice and not enough broth. Next time I’d use 3/4 cup of wild rice instead of 1 cup and 7 cups of broth instead of 6.
I have never made a frittata. When I studied abroad in Chile my host family only knew how to make three vegetarian dishes. One of the three was a tortilla española, which is pretty similar to a frittata. So I ate a lot of tortilla española. They would make them with a all sorts of vegetables, including lettuce. It was the only time in my life I actually moved my food around my plate to make it look like I had eaten. Needless to say, for years I had zero desire to eat anything resembling a tortilla española. But recently I had one made by a Puerto Rican friend of mine and enjoyed it, leaving me more open to re-approaching the genre.
I noticed this recipe in Peter Barley’s Fresh Food Fast for a Leek and Potato Frittata that I had previously overlooked for aforementioned reasons. I really like leeks so this seemed like the perfect way to dip my toe into the frittata waters. This was really easy to make, a great weeknight recipe.
I made a mistake when reading the recipe and failed to notice that it called for 3 tsp of coarse sea salt and instead used 3 tsp table salt. Once I realized the frittata was way way to salty, there was little I could do about it. I added two extra eggs but the frittata was still very very salty. My sister told me she always halfs the salt in Peter Barley’s recipes, but I think that 1.5 tsp of table salt probably would have been fine. Even though I added the two extra eggs to address the saltiness issue, I think this was the right ratio of veggies to eggs. Without the two extra eggs, there wouldn’t have been enough egg to fully cover the vegetables.
I used 3 tbsp of salt instead the 4 called for. I think I could probably reduce it to 2 tbsp next time. You can see in the photo that the frittata was fairly oily.
Other than the salt issue, I really liked this recipe. It was flavorful, filling, and easy to make. I’m going to try making it again with less salt and less oil.
I was intrigued by this recipe for the popular hangover cure soup from page 99 of The Peruvian Vegan Cookbook. I liked the idea of a cilantro broth. And the potatoes and peppers in the picture looked so hearty and satisfying.
The recipe warns that the soup should be eaten immediately after making it, because it thickens with time. I actually didn’t have the thickening issue. However, I did find that the soup was much tastier the first night I made it. I suppose with time the cilantro looses some of it’s flavor. If I was rating it from the first niht, I’d give this recipe an A-. It was so flavorful unique, and satisfying. But the score dropped on the second day. Still good, just not quite so flavorful.
Overall, I found the potatoes in the recipe were a bit bland. I think I could enhance the second-day flavor of the recipe by using broth instead of water, which is what this recipes called for. I’m going to try making it again with a high-flavor broth and see if I can up the second-day flavor factor. Overall, even with that issue though, it was very good.
The way I cook- making two recipes each weekend that I eat all week- I have to find recipes that are interesting enough that I will want to eat them five days in a row. So I rarely make lentil soup. Usually, I find that I get bored with lentil soup after a couple days and it ends up in the trash. But this recipe from the New York times includes potatoes, leeks, and a lot of spices and seemed interesting enough to possibly eat for a full week.
I was right. The spices created much needed complexity and the potatoes added enough carb-induced instant gratification to make the recipe more satisfying than the average lentil soup. The fresh parsley really helped add extra flavor and texture to an already good recipe. This easy, cheap, and healthy stew is a winner in my book.
A couple notes for next time: It seemed silly to leave half a cup of tomatoes in the can. And after eating the stew, I was confident the extra tomatoes would only have added extra flavor. Next time I’ll just add the full can. Also, I think you could reduce the number of pots by cooking the potatoes in the same pot with the lentils. I’d just add them halfway through the lentil cooking time.