Green Tacos

I needed to use up kale from my garden before it went to seed. And I was in the mood for tacos. So I decided to try this recipe for sweet potato and kale taco filling. The recipe calls for grated sweet potatoes. I was a little skeptical of this, but I was pleasantly surprised. The texture was great in the tacos. The recipe is super fast and easy and very tasty. I made it with this tempeh chorizo recipe and kidney beans. The combo was great. I’ll definitely make this again. In fact I already bought another sweet potato!

https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/green-tacos

Tempeh Chorizo

I’ve really been enjoying tempeh recently. So I decided to try a tempeh chorizo recipe. The recipe uses chopped walnuts along with tempeh for a somewhat crunchy texture. I’m not sure that real chorizo is crunchy, but I enjoyed the texture in my tacos. I made this along with kidney beans and this veggie filling recipe. The combination was quite yummy. My only issue with this recipe was that it ended up somewhat sweet, which I didn’t like. I suspect cinnamon was the culprit. So I’ll leave it out next time. Also, I used tomato paste and a tsp of agave instead of ketchup since I don’t eat ketchup. I guess the agave was a mistake. Next time I’ll just use the tomato paste.

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.

Aguadito

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.

Aji de Gallina

I was first introduced to the wonders of Peruvian food while living in Santiago, Chile. I was interning for a migrant rights organization run by Peruvians. Every day for lunch I would have some of the most delicious beans, rice, and potatoes I’d ever eaten. But since so many Peruvian recipe are meat-centric, I’ve spent very little time actually trying to learn to cook Peruvian cuisine. I did once before try to make Aji de Gallina using a recipe that called for chicken by replacing the chicken with a store-bought chicken substitute. The result was almost inedible. The fake chicken just wasn’t good enough to eat that much of in a recipe that is basically just chicken and sauce.
My brother bought me The Peruvian Vegan Cookbook by Enid Soto-Lopez and Elias Lopez for Chanukah this year. I saw that it had a recipe for Aji de Gallina using jackfruit, which seemed like a great idea. Jackfruit is much more mellow than store-bought fake meat and I thought it would be less intrusive in this type of meat-focused recipe.
I was so excited to try making the recipe, that I failed to notice that it makes some very strange choices. It somehow completely omits aji, The one truly essential ingredient to this recipe! And of course aji, an orange hot pepper native to Peru, is vegan! Then it adds turmeric, which is apparently an attempt to achieve the original yellow color of the dish without aji. I only realized this half way through making the recipe. I tasted the result without the aji and concluded it was awful. No spice, no tangy flavor. It just tasted like nutritional yeast, which I suppose was being added as a substitute for parmesan.

Normally when making aji de gallina, you’d have to add the peppers early and saute them, which of course was not possible at this stage. However, luckily, due to the difficulty of finding fresh aji in Durham, I had aji paste. I added the paste one tablespoon at a time till I got to my preferred level of spice and flavor. I believe in the end I added about 3-4 tablespoons. The resulting dish actually wasn’t bad. It was pretty flavorful and the jackfruit worked pretty well, even if it was a bit monotonous.

I’m going to try making this again, playing around a bit. I’m going to leave out the nutritional yeast and add the Parmesan instead. I think I’ll just use regular milk instead of almond milk + cashews since I’m not actually vegan. I’d like to try making this using half and half two different meat substitutes to see if I can make it a bit more interesting. I’m going to use half jackfruit and half chick’n seitan using this recipe from the Post-punk Vegan. https://www.theppk.com/2021/01/everyday-pull-apart-chickn-seitan/ We’ll see how it goes.

Cuban Black Beans

In college I lived in an apartment with my two best friends. We cooked a lot. One of my roommates, Ellen, shared this recipe for her mother’s favorite Cuban black beans with me. The recipe came from one of her mother’s cookbooks. Creamy, sour, and a tad sweet, it quickly became one of my favorites as well. But I never got a copy of the recipe from Ellen and for years afterwards I couldn’t make it. Finally, recently I got a photo of the recipe from Ellen and went about making it once again. It didn’t disappoint.

Below is the version I make. I have greatly reduced the oil (the original recipe calls for 2 cups!) and also left out the pimentos, which are called for in the original recipe but which I never have around. I’ve also changed the steps around a bit and shortened cooking times to simplify things.

Be aware! This recipe make 12-16 servings. If you don’t want that much beans, consider halving the recipe. However, it does freeze well.

2 1/4 cups dry black beans, cooked (or 3 cans) (keep the liquid)

1/3 cup olive oil

3 cups green bell pepper, chopped

3 cups yellow onion, chopped

2 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup white vinegar

  1. Blend bell pepper and onions in a food processor until they are finely ground
  2. Heat the oil in a large stockpot
  3. Once oil is hot, add the pepper onion mixture and sauté it for 8 minutes.
  4. While the mixture is sautéing, blend 1 cup of the beans in the food processor
  5. Add the whole and blended beans, sugar, and salt to the pot, gently stir
  6. Simmer on low for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  7. Add the vinegar