Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Indonesian Tempeh

My cousin-in-law Ay Ling's Indonesian tempeh recipe.

 She is the most carnivorous person I know, but/and she eats this all the time. She writes, "While living in Indonesia, I loved it so much that I had it practically every day!  Never tire of it!" 

If you make it, you'll see why.

Indonesian Tempeh

several limes, or a bottle of lime juice

olive oil

Cut the tempeh into strips 1" wide and 1/4" thick, or even thinner. Lay in a flat-bottomed container such as a baking dish. (Non-reactive!) It's okay to stack the pieces. Squeeze limes until you have enough juice to completely cover them. One lime gives about 2 T juice.

Put in fridge and marinate 5 to 8 hours.

Drain the tempeh and pat it dry with paper towels or dish towels. Sprinkle salt on both sides.

Put a good layer of oil in a frying pan, just a bit more than half the thickness of the tempeh. (So if your tempeh is 1/4", oil is a little more than 1/8" deep.) Heat over medium high. 

Fry tempeh on both sides until golden. Drain on paper towels or brown paper bags. 

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew

As usual, I simplified this recipe when I made it. It takes a long time to cut up a squash! (At least for me.) You can just throw in another big sweet potato instead. Or buy pre-cut squash. I used two cans of chick peas to up the protein; canned chopped tomatoes instead of whole; and as I didn't have a Spanish onion I used a regular yellow onion instead (but less of it, as the flavor is much stronger).

You can serve this over couscous. Yum!

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew

Cashew and Green Bean Pasta

Here's something simple and kid friendly. 

Earth Balance is the best vegan margarine, or Organic Smart Balance. You can't always find those at an ordinary grocery store; you might have to go to a place like Whole Foods. Either way, they're pretty expensive. If you don't have margarine, use oil instead.

Cashew and Green Bean Pasta

3/4 c cashews

6 T margarine or oil
1  to 4 10-oz bags frozen green beans
3/4 - 1 lb pasta (rotini is nice)
(parsley, optional)

Toast cashews in a dry skillet until they get fragrant and start to brown. (Or don't if you're short on time.) Combine with margarine or oil in food processor or blender. 
Steam green beans. Cook pasta. Add a little pasta water to thin the cashew sauce. 
Mix all together. (Add optional parsley.) Add salt and especially pepper to taste.

Chickpea Pasta with Almonds

This recipe is from Real Simple. It calls for Parmesan, but you can leave that out.

I would get raw slivered almonds instead of roasted, and toast them myself in a dry skillet until they're fragrant and start to brown. That would help make up for the missing flavor of the cheese.

Although toasted almonds don't taste anything like Parmesan, they make a nice topping for any pasta.

I think vegan recipes are better if I just let them be what they are. Fake meat, fake cheese, fake alfredo sauce, fake tuna salad--all those things are fine in their way (though if you get them pre-made they're always expensive--which, I think, is why many people worry it's expensive to be vegan). But of course they don't taste like the originals, and you'll always come away thinking the non-vegan versions are better--because that's what the food is supposed to to taste like. Cheese is supposed to taste like cheese, not like fake cheese!

But if I enjoy things for what they are, and accept that it's fine for them to be different, I'm free to notice whether they're actually good. So toasted almonds are not in any way fake Parmesan; they're toasted almonds. And they're delicious.

Chickpea Pasta with Almonds

Chana Saag

My version of the classic Indian dish.

Chana Saag

3 T oil

1 t cinnamon
1 t cardamom
1 t coriander
1/2 t chili powder
1 chopped onion
1 t salt
5 cloves minced garlic
1 T grated ginger (powdered would be fine)
1/2 t turmeric
2 packages frozen chopped spinach
1 box chopped tomatoes (Pomi brand) or 1 15-oz can
1 or 2 cans chickpeas

Heat oil, add spices, stir a few seconds until fragrant. Add onion and

salt, cook till soft. Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, cook a couple
minutes till fragrant. Add turmeric, tomatoes, spinach, chickpeas;
cook until spinach is cooked.  Serve over rice.

Cashew Curry

love the cooking blog 101 Cookbooks. The recipes are deceptively simple. They often feature only a handful of unexceptional sounding ingredients, that, when combined, somehow create magic. That's my kind of recipe!

Many also have a very short cooking time, like this one, which stays on the stove a total of four minutes after you've brought it to a boil. 

Cashew Curry

Mark Bittman's Nut Burgers

The best burgers! Mark Bittman has a lot of great vegan and vegetarian recipes. You can find lots of them in The New York Times, and he's written many cookbooks.

The recipe calls for an egg, but you can just leave it out. The burgers might be a bit more crumbly, but they're still great. Or use a vegan substitute such as soy flour or tapioca flour. (Here are some common egg substitutes.)

Mark Bittman's Nut Burgers

Butter Bean Burgers

These are nice. They're not hamburgers. If you give one to a meat eater and say, "Here, have this fake hamburger," you will face disappointment. The person will think, "On the scale of 'hamburgerness,' these don't measure up at all."

Well, no! On a scale of hamburgerness, the hamburger is always going to win. This is something different. It would be nice in a sandwich. You could add red onion and tomato and veggie mayo.

(Vegenaise is my favorite veggie mayo. But it's very expensive. You can make a decent version at home; it's pretty easy. My advice for this mayo recipe: use sugar instead of maple syrup!)

For something vegan that tastes more hamburger-like, I like Gardein burgers (in the frozen section, near the other organic things and/or veggie "meats" like Morningstar). They're expensive, but good. Boca vegan burgers are also pretty good.

But if you just want a tasty, healthy sandwich, try these. From happyveganface!

Butter Bean Burgers

Easy Tofu and Green Pea Curry

A while ago I posted a link to a recipe similar to this. The way I make it is different enough, though, that I'm going to post my own version instead. This is very quick to make. No garlic or onions to chop!

Easy Tofu and Green Pea Curry

14-oz package firm or extra firm tofu
2 T canola oil
1 t cumin
1 - 2 inch piece fresh ginger, sliced thin (or 2 t powdered ginger)
1 t salt, or to taste
dash or two of cayenne pepper
2 t curry powder
1 t turmeric
28 oz can chopped tomatoes (or equivalent Pomi brand boxed tomatoes, or 3 c fresh)
1 lb frozen peas

If you have time, freeze tofu in its package the night before, then put in fridge in the morning to thaw.

Press the water out of the tofu. Slice into cubes.

Heat oil in pan. Add cumin, ginger, salt, cayenne, curry powder and turmeric, and saute for half a minute, until fragrant. Add tofu and brown it. (Or don't brown, if you don't have time.) Add tomatoes and cook a few minutes. Taste to see if you want more spices. Add peas and cook a few minutes more. Serve over rice.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Tofu in Thai Curry Sauce

This doesn't qualify as super, super cheap because you have to use a whole can of coconut milk and up to a whole jar of Thai curry paste. But it's good and easy.

Tofu in Thai Curry Sauce

1 can coconut milk
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
From 2 T to one whole 4-oz jar Thai curry paste, either red or green
1/2 to 1 T brown sugar 
2 lbs frozen (or not) mixed vegetables, such as stir-fry vegetables or California mix
1 14-oz package tofu, cubed
2 T soy sauce, or to taste
black pepper to taste

Put coconut milk in a pan with sliced garlic and bring to a boil. Add brown sugar and then 2 T curry paste, and keep adding more till it's as hot as you like. Then cook the vegetables in the coconut milk, or steam and then add to the pan. When the vegetables are nearly done, add the tofu and cook a few more minutes. Add soy sauce and black pepper. Serve over rice.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Mujadara is an ancient Middle Eastern dish, which some say is the biblical "mess of pottage" for which Esau sold his birthright. If you eat it, you'll see why. It is really, really good.

This is a very simple version I used to make all the time. I've lost the cookbook I originally got it from, but I found the recipe (the exact one I used to use) online, attributed to David Rosengarten.


 1 cup green or brown lentils (French lentils make this extra good)
 1 quart cold water
 3 large white onions, sliced into thin half moons
 1/2 cup olive oil
 1/2 cup basmati or jasmine rice
 1 tsp. salt
 1 tsp. allspice

Put the lentils and water in a pot, bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and simmer, loosely covered, for 25 minutes or so.

Cook the onions in the oil in a skillet or wide shallow pan until they're soft, five or ten minutes. Then take 1.5 cups of onions out with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

Cook the rest until they're caramelized--brown and slightly crisp. This can take a while. The original recipe said something like ten minutes, but in my experience it can take twenty or more. Once they start to brown, watch them closely! If you see one or two blackened bits, take them out quickly, or they'll taste burnt. Set them to drain on paper towels or brown paper bags.

When the lentils have simmered about 25 minutes and are still a bit undercooked, drain them over a big bowl to catch the cooking liquid. Reserve 1.5 cups of it. If there's not enough, make up the difference with water.

Put the lentils and 1.5 cups of liquid back into the pan, add the 1.5 cups softened onions, along with rice, salt and allspice. Bring back to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook loosely covered until the rice is done, 20 minutes. Top with the caramelized onions.

Note: To make this with brown rice, put the uncooked rice in the pot at the same time as the lentils.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pasta With Cauliflower

From Mark Bittman! He has so many good and simple recipes. It calls for a cup of bread crumbs; sometimes I replace half of that with very finely chopped walnuts. (Put them in the blender.)

Pasta With Cauliflower

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Spinach and Nut Sauce for Pasta

Fast and easy, with ingredients you're likely to have in the house.

(If you don't keep frozen spinach on hand, start doing it! Along with a couple bags each of frozen broccoli, green beans and peas. No need to worry about them going bad before you get around to using them.)

Spinach and Nut Sauce for Pasta

2 10-oz bags frozen spinach (or a big bag of fresh spinach)
1 cup walnuts, cashews, or pine nuts
1/4 c olive oil (canola will work too)
1 or 2 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 t salt
pepper to taste

Steam the spinach until just cooked. (If it's not frozen, you can even use it raw.) 

Put everything in a food processor or blender, along with 1/4 c of the water the pasta cooked in. Puree.

Serve over 1 lb whole wheat pasta.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sweet Spicy Stir Fry with Tofu and Cashews

This is delicious and loaded with vegetables. The ones I list are just suggestions. You can use any, fresh or frozen, you like. Snow peas, canned baby corn, cauliflower, mung bean sprouts, bok choy would all be great.

Or to make it easier, just use 4 lbs frozen broccoli and nothing else. Or 4 lbs frozen mixed stir-fry vegetables.

Sweet Spicy Stir Fry with Tofu and Cashews

14 oz extra-firm tofu -- ideally frozen, then thawed
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 T olive or canola oil
1/2 c raw cashews
2 T soy sauce
2 T siracha hot sauce (or other hot sauce to taste)
1 T sugar (brown sugar, raw sugar, agave would all work)
3/4 T vinegar

vegetables (use these or 2 lbs of whatever you like)
1 lbs frozen broccoli
1/2 lb frozen green beans
1/4 lb frozen sliced bell pepper, or one fresh pepper sliced
1/4 lb fresh or frozen baby carrots
1/4 thinly sliced red onion

If you have time, put your tofu package in the freezer the night before, then take it out in the morning to thaw by dinnertime. That will change the texture and make it much easier to work with. (I do this for all tofu recipes.) 

Take tofu out of package, put on a plate, put another plate on top, and weigh the top with a couple heavy cans, or whatever you have. Let sit for 10 min to squeeze the water out. 

If the vegetables are frozen, defrost or very lightly steam them.

Meanwhile, put cashews in a skillet and put on the stove on medium heat. When they smell nice and start to brown, watch them closely and stir to let the other sides brown. Take out of the pan and set aside.

Lightly oil the skillet. Brown the tofu, turning to brown a few sides. This takes a while but is worth it. If you don't have time, though, just skip. Take tofu out of pan and set aside.

Pour the rest of the oil in the skillet, warm it, sautee the garlic in it. Raise the heat a bit, add the vegetables (and the tofu if you haven't browned it), and sautee until just done.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix soy sauce, hot sauce, sugar and vinegar.

Mix cashews, tofu, vegetables and sauce. Serve over brown rice.