Monday, August 9, 2021

Vegan (or not) miso slaw

Now that summer is in full swing, we have an overwhelming amount of fresh veggies coming from the garden. That's one reason why this recipe is so great: while I use cabbage and carrots, you can opt for just about any crunchy vegetables that you have on hand or in the garden. Instead of (or in addition to) my veggies, you can also use broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, radish, cucumber, zucchini, Napa cabbage, or anything else you can think of. Just shred, julienne or grate what you decide to throw in there. This is adapted from the Bon Appetit creamy miso slaw recipe. 

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail

2/3 cup Just Mayo (I think it's the best brand of vegan mayo by a long shot) or non-vegan mayonnaise
2 TBSP red miso

2 TBSP rice vinegar
1 TBSP grated ginger
2 tsp sugar
2 TBSP soy sauce
1 tsp rice wine
1 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp lemon juice
1 small head cabbage or 1/2 large head finely shredded
2 carrots peeled and grated
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a diagonal
Garnish: black and/or tan sesame seeds and/or a bit of chopped cilantro

In a mixing bowl, whisk first 8 ingredients really well, adjust soy sauce, lemon juice, or sugar as desired (I usually add just a touch more sugar and lemon juice). Toss dressing with cabbage, carrots, and scallions. Let chill in the refrigerator until completely cold. Toss again and garnish right before serving. 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Colorado Craft Cashew Cheese

Vegan cheese. It’s a thing. And nowadays vegan cheeses are infinitely better than the weird old fake cheeses that looked unsettlingly like melted Saran Wrap once cooked (and probably tasted like it too). Plant-based cheeses are enjoying a renaissance because folks who are making faux cheeses are increasingly adopting traditional approaches to cheese making, rather than the “Better Living Through Chemistry” approach that used to be the norm whereby the soy or almond cheeses were made with a bunch of weird processed elements that were shipped from a factory somewhere off the Jersey Turnpike. But now, a much better crop un-cheeses are available that follow traditional cheese making approaches like fermenting and aging the cheeses, smoking them, integrating herbs, or washing the rind. This is one such recipe, where you’ll undertake a brief fermentation period to give your cashew cheese just a slight hint of sourness that a really delightful Buratta might have with the consistency of ricotta. It is perfect for stuffed shells, manicotti, or use in a lasagna.

You’ll also need to sprout some grains to get things started. This is a super simple process but does require two specialty items: a mason jar and a sprouting lid. You can get both for a couple dollars at a local kitchen store or online. The sprouting lid will also come with instructions (or you can find them online), so I’ll omit them here.

Prep time: a few days

½ cup brown rice – you cannot use white, as it doesn’t sprout
4 cups raw, unsated, and unseasoned cashews
2 tsp salt
Juice from 2 lemons
Something to kickstart fermentation – this can be a tablespoon of sauerkraut juice (if the kraut is sold refrigerated and not processed and sold at room temp), a couple tablespoons of unflavored yogurt (vegan is fine), or the contents of one acidophilus capsule

Sprout the rice. This takes a few days. You don’t want it to develop into fully-formed sprouts. Instead, you want to sprout them to the point where all the grains have basically just started to grow “tails.”

Once sprouted, pour 2 ½ cups of water over the rice, so it is submerged an let it stand for 24 hours at room temperature. The rice water will be undergoing a fermentation and will actually smell slightly cheesy by the end and be a tad bubbly.

When your rice water is 8-16 hours away from completing its 24-hour fermentation soak, put the cashews in a very large mixing bowl with a few quarts of water to soak. The cashews will expand quite a bit, so use a bigger bowl and more water than you think you might need.

After the cashews have soaked for their 8-16 hours and the rice has fermented for 24 hours, you’ll want to keep the 2 1/2 cups of rice WATER, but not the rice. You can discard the rice. Also, drain the cashews but discard their water. Transfer rice water and cashews to a food processor or blender (you might have to work in batches). Blend, using as much additional water as needed to get the right consistency – you want something halfway between pancake batter and creamy peanut butter. Keep that food processor running a long time--the smoother the texture, the better. I let my processor run for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer your cashew blend to a large mixing bowl and add your sauerkraut juice, yogurt, or probiotic capsule. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let ferment for 24 more hours at room temperature.

Now, add salt and squeeze in lemon juice. Stir well.

Viola! You now have incredible, home-fermented vegan cheese for anything from cannelloni to cannoli (for cannoli, you’ll obviously still need to sweeten your cheese).

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Ash Reshteh – Persian for “OMFG, this is good!”

This is my take on a classic Persian soup that in a fantastic way to use up a ton of greens and herbs that may be coming out of your garden or CSA bag. I honestly had some low expectations the first time I made this. It sounded like a pretty boring soup: healthfood masquerading as something fun. But rather than being uninspired glop, this turned out to be a hugely satisfying and incredibly delicious recipe—in part because of the use of a variety of wonderful garnishes. Being wrong has never been as deliciously pleasant.

Serve with a crap ton of garnishes and flatbread, if available.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1-2 bunches cilantro, stems removed
1 cup fresh dill, stems removed
1 cup fresh basil, stems removed
Olive oil
1 ½ yellow onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
½ tsp turmeric
1 TBSP zaatar
Ground black pepper
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
¼-1/2 cup French green lentils
3 quarts vegetable stock, homemade or store-bought
1 pound frozen spinach or chard, chopped
6-8 ounces whole wheat linguini
1-2 pinches saffron
Lemon wedges

Garnishes should include at least a few of the following:
Fresh mint
Plain yogurt or sour cream
Fried scallions (you can make them yourself or buy a bag at an Asian grocer)
The greens of a bunch of scallions, chopped

Combine herbs in a food processor and pulse until you get to the point of having them coarsely chopped – maybe 6-8 pulses. You want the average piece to be a little smaller than your pinky fingernail. Set aside.

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Once shimmering, add onions and sauté, stirring well, until they turn a little golden brown, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté one more minute, stirring a few times. Add turmeric, zaatar, and a lot of fresh ground black pepper and stir until everything is well-integrated and fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

Add garbanzo beans and lentils. Stir well for 30 seconds and add your veggie stock, frozen spinach or chard, and the herb mixture from the food processor. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 60 minutes. Adding water if needed.

Now break your dried linguini in half and break each half again so that you end p with quarter-length noodles. Stir into the soup and stir frequently. Boil uncovered until the noodles are done and the lentils are soft – about 20-30 more minutes, adding more water if necessary.

When noodles are just about done, boil a very small amount of water. Crush up the saffron threads between your fingers and place in a small bowl. Pour a couple tablespoons of the boiling water over the threads and allow to steep for 2 minutes. Then add the saffron/water to the soup and stir well. Cook everything a couple more minutes and adjust taste, as necessary.

Serve with lemon wedges and garnishes.

Confused identity cauliflower kuku


I don’t really know what this is, besides great. I made this as an attempt to make kuku, a Persian dish that is basically a pan of cooked fresh herbs held together with a bit of egg. But with less herbs than most traditional kukus, it’s a little more like an herb-rich frittata. Except it doesn’t have any eggs. Oh, and I threw in a head of roasted cauliflower just for shits and giggles too. So while it’s not exactly any one dish, it is damn delicious. It’s really perfect when you have a ton of herbs in the garden.

This recipe uses the vegan egg replacement called Just Eggs, a pretty remarkable substitute that tastes and cooks identical to real eggs. That said, you can substitute 6-7 scrambled eggs if you can’t find Just Eggs—which are available at natural grocers and many traditional supermarkets.

Prep time: 3 cocktails

1 medium head cauliflower
Olive or canola oil
1 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, stems removed
1-2 bunches cilantro, stems removed
1 cup fresh dill, stems removed
1 cup fresh basil, stems removed
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp fenugreek seeds, ground up a bit in mortar and pestle
1 tsp turmeric
A couple pinches red chili flakes, optional
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 12-ounce bottle Just Eggs
Paprika and a few pinches of minced fresh herbs for garnish, optional
Crumbled feta, vegan or non-vegan, for serving

Preheat oven to 375. Break the cauliflower down into small, bite-sized (or a little smaller) florets. In a large bowl toss the florets with 1-2 TBSP oil and a couple big pinches of salt until they are well-coated. Spread cauliflower out on a large baking sheet, so pieces aren’t touching. Once the oven is fully warm, put cauliflower in for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are just a touch browned and the pieces have become a bit tender but aren’t fully soft. Remove and allow to cool in the pan on the countertop.

Reduce oven heat to 350.

In a food processor, combine parsley, cilantro, basil, and dill. Pulse about 6 times until you get herbs that are coarsely chopped—average size pieces should be a little smaller than your pinky fingernail; you’ll also likely have to scrape down the inside after the first couple pulses. Set this herb mixture aside.

In a large pan, heat 2-3 TBSP oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add chopped onion and saute until translucent, about 6-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Stir in cumin, fenugreek, turmeric, chili flakes (if using), salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring, until everything is well integrated and becomes nice and fragrant, about 30-60 more seconds. Now transfer the herb mixture to the pan and cook, stirring a few times a minute for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool at least 10 minutes.

While your herbs are cooling put 1-2 TBBSP oil in a 9x9 square baking dish. Swirl oil around so the sides get a thin coating. Place the oiled pan in the oven to heat it up.

Once herb/onion mixture and cauliflower have cooled to the point where you could comfortable touch them, combine them in a large mixing bowl along with the Just Eggs (or your real eggs). Stir well until everything is evenly distributed.

Take your hot oiled baking dish out of the oven (if needs at least 4 minutes in the oven to get warm enough) and place it on a trivet or towel and, moving quickly, transfer the mixture from your large mixing bowl into the pan. You’ll need to use a wooden spoon or spatula to make sure it is evenly distributed.

Return the pan to the oven and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake another 20-30 minutes or until the center is cooked and the edges are nicely browned.

Remove from oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting. Sprinkle paprika and herbs on top and serve—either warm or at room temperature—with feta on top.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Charred broccoli rabe, lemon, and faux sausage tossed with pasta

Broccoli rabe (also known as broccolini or rapini) is an absolute treat out of the early summer garden. I came up with this recipe a few months ago when we were harvesting it like crazy. It is an attempt to make something of a vegetarian Carbonara that incorporates our bounty of broccoli rabe, as well as a couple vegan sausages we had to use up. 

This does call for a specialty gadget: a rasp grater or Microplane. Don't be a loser and buy pre-grated parmesan cheese or cut a corner and try to grate this with something else. Take the $16 hit and buy one of these if you don't already have one. It makes an incredible tool for citrus zests, hard cheeses, chocolate, and frozen garlic for a variety of applications. I'm seriously watching you. DO NOT disappoint me the way you have already done with your parents!

Prep time: 2 cocktails

12 ounces bow tie (frfalle) or penne pasta

2 high-quality spicy Italian vegetarian sausages (like Beyond brand)

1-2 TBSP high-temperature cooking oil, like canola or avacado

2 grocery store bunches-worth of broccoli rabe, each piece cut into 2-3 more edible sizes

10 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

4 eggs -- 2 whole eggs and 2 yolks only whisked in a small bowl

1 cup of fresh grated Parmesan with a microplane (I'm still watching you), plus extra for serving

Salt and pepper

Minced parsley and red chili flakes for garnish

Prepare pasta and rinse and set aside. Cook sausage in stovetop over medium heat until nicely browned. Remove and cut into 1/2" thick wheels.

Put oil into a frying pan over high heat. Once your pan gets very hot, add the broccoli rabe. The point here is to basically blacken parts of it, so make sure your pan is hot before adding. Fry it a few minutes until your desired amount of char is achieved, then turn off heat and stir in garlic. Saute another minute or until the garlic turns a bit golden but not browned or burned, then squeeze the lemon juice over the broccoli rabe and stir one last time. Transfer broccoli rabe and garlic to a plate. 

In a medium or large saucepan or dutch oven, heat the cooked and drained pasta over medium heat until it is nice and ward. Toss in a tiny dash of olive oil if it is sticking badly. Once pasta is nice and hot, add the egg and Parmesan, plus a lot of salt and pepper to taste. The goal is to have the egg cook just enough to have a creamy sauce-like consistency that sticks to the pasta but has a nice velvety texture and isn't fully cooked. This usually only takes a minute--maybe less. Once you're about at this point stir in broccoli rabe and remove from heat. Serve right away with additional parmesan, parsley, and chili flakes on top. 

Hot giardiniera - summer perfection in a jar

For those of you who are lucky enough to live near a Snarf's Sandwiches, you know and love their giardiniera. I don't mean you might like their giardiniera or you have tried and probably enjoyed it.  To be human is to love Snarf's giardiniera. That's all there is to it. Hungover? A Veggie with everything and extra giardiniera will cure you. Heartbroken? That definetly calls for a meatball or eggplant parm sandwich loaded with giardiniera. Fussy kids? They'll shut the hell up and eat the shit outta a grilled cheese with a smattering of giardiniera and likely remember that sandwich well into their old age. Guarnteed.

So with this recipe, I've attempted to replicate Snarf's famous giardiniera. I made this recipe with the intention of being good on pizza or sandwiches, but we had it the other night on top of grilled homemade sourdough that was brushed with olive oil and topped with a few thin shavings of Pecorino Picante. It was a transcendent experience and only took a few minutes to make.

Prep time: 1 cocktail


1/4 cup salt

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1-1 1/2 cup white vinegar (depending on the level of tang you want)

1 quart water

Vegetable mix:

1/2 cup finely diced carrots

2-3 stalks celery, sliced

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

15-20 (or so) jalapenos, serranos, fresno chilies or a mix thereof, sliced into wheels

1/4 cup diced onion

1 crown cauliflower, chopped up small

1/2 cup cheap jarred Spanish green olives (even the kind with pimentos is fine), minced 


Whole coriander seeds, peppercorns, fennel seeds, oregano, and mustard seeds

Bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, minced

Canola oil

Vinegar (white, apple cider, or white balsamic are all great) 

Bring all brine ingredients to a boil and make sure salt is dissolved. Let cool until it's warm or room temperature then place veggie mixture into a Tupperware or mixing bowl and pour brine over all the veggies EXCEPT THE OLIVES (save these for later) and make sure they are fully submerged (if not, brew up a little more brine). Place in the refrigerator 12-18 hours.

Drain veggie mixture and rinse. Stir in the minced olives.

Now grab some 1 quart mason jars. For each jar, you want to toss into the bottom: a large pinch each of coriander, peppercorns, fennel, oregano, and mustard, as well as 1-2 bay leaves and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  Now fill each jar totally up with your veggie mixture.

On top of the veggies, pour oil and vinegar until you completely submerge the veggies and the jar is filled to the brim. Use about 2/3 oil and 1/3 vinegar, but you don't have to be super exact about it.  

Transfer to the refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 2 days before eating, though this is best after a week. Stays good in the refrigerator 2-4 weeks.

Tempeh bacon - the key to a successful vegetarian BLT


It's the height of summer garden season. Our first heirloom tomatoes are ripe and we're eating out of the garden every meal. We decided to put our inaugural tomatoes to use this year in TLTs (tempeh, lettuce, tomato, with of course a healthy does of mayonnaise and avocado).

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail (plus marinating time)

1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into bacon-thickness strips of about 1/8 inch (along the shorter side of the block)

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1-2 TBSP agave nectar

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

2 TBSP liquid smoke

1/2 cup soy sauce

2-3 TBSP neutral oil like canola or avocado for frying

After you've sliced the tempeh, combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Take a baking sheet with a rim and pour this marinade in then gently lay the tempeh in the pan in a single layer. P\Let the tempeh marinate at least an hour, periodically swirling the liquid around so it has plenty of chance to saturate through the top of your strips too (or use a pastry brush to brush the top). 

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat. When it shimmers, gently transfer the strips to the pan and fry in a single layer, flipping after a few minutes once the bottom browns. Transfer to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil.

Now build that delicious TLT!

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Vegan Jambalaya Jubilee!

I've never been a fan of vegetarian or vegan jambalaya. Even as a nearly-lifelong vegetarian, I fully appreciate that there are a few things out there that cannot be effectively replicated without meat. A decent burger, my mom's porcupine meatball recipe, and jambalaya are a few examples of foods I've missed since ditching meat when I was 13 or so. But that's all changing with really decent fake meats now on the market. Beyond and Impossible have really made the last few carnivorous recipes that were previously missing in my life now within reach. Between the faux sausage and some saffron offering a wonderful shrimp-ish umami, this is the bast damn meatless jambalaya I've had -- by far!

5 TBSP canola or avocado oil, divided
1 1/2 medium onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 pinch saffron
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
6 cloves garlic minced
2 TBSP Tabasco sauce
3 1/2 cups veggie stock, store bought or homemade
2 tsp Maggi or browning sauce
1 1/2 cup parboiled rice
10 oz faux chicken breast strips
3 spicy Beyond sausages, sliced into ~1/2 inch half moons
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut up a bit, optional
Worcestershire sauce, optional

Heat 3 TBSP oil over medium heat in a large saute pan or dutch oven that has a lid. Once hot, add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the veggies get fairly well caramelized (but not burned), about 20 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, boil a small amount of water. Add a few TBSP of this water to the saffron in a small bowl and let it steep.

Once the veggies are a little caramelized, add the cumin, Cajun seasoning,  paprika, black pepper, and garlic. Saute 2 more minutes, stirring often.

Now add saffron and the steeping water, Tabasco sauce, stock, and Magi/browning sauce. Bring to a boil, then add rice, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

While rice is cooking, add the remaining 2 TBSP oil to a large frying pan on medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, Add the faux chicken and sausage. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the cheat meat is browned in spots and fragrant, but not burned.

Now, back to the rice: once it is done, stir/fluff with a fork and taste. Adjust spices, salt, and/or add Worcestershire sauce to taste. Stir in artichokes (if you're using) as well.

Right before you serve, toss the rice with the meats. Eat and enjoy your delightful meatless meaty dinner!

Friday, March 8, 2019

Vegan Cesar dressing

Prep time: 1/2 cocktail

1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup raw cashews
3 anchovy filets or 2 TBSP vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBSP lemon juice
Several big grinds black pepper
2 TBSP water
1/4 cup neutral oil, like canola or grapeseed
Romaine lettuce

Combine everything in food processor or blender and puree until smooth. If you want to thicken the dressing, add a few extra cashews and if you want it a little less thick, add a splash or two of water. Also, adjust lemon and salt to taste. Toss with romaine lettuce and top with croutons and (optional) a bit of regular or vegan Parmesan and a few grinds of pepper.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Wild rice and mushroom pilaf

This recipe is about making marriages happy. You see, I hate mushrooms. My wife hates rice. So obviously, a dish that is made mostly of mushrooms and rice is bound to make nobody happy in our home, right? Well that's what I thought too. So I waited until Thanksgiving to make this so we could pawn the leftovers off onto our friends once the missus and I agreed that it was not our cup of culinary tea. But then something beautiful happened: I found a mushroom dish I love and she agrees that this is the first time she's ever savored a rice dish. The key, obviously, is a lot of butter, bringing out complementary flavors with thyme and sherry, and (possibly) the several cocktails we drank before dinner. But in the end, we kept 100 percent of the leftovers and voraciously wolfed them down over the next few days, while our friends were sent home with mushy potatoes and overly crumbly stuffing. We won.

So you don't actually have to use wild mushrooms--store-bought will do just fine too. Either way, mixing it up with a couple different varieties will definitely add complexity. I also just added 12 ounces because I was afraid of this dish being too mushroom-ee. But even speaking as somebody who normally steers clear of fungi, this could have certainly been increased. And if you love mushrooms, you could probably double the toadstool quotient and be quite happy.

I've read that Wisconsin wild rice is desirable because the growing and harvesting regulations are more controlled (and thus sustainable) there. Some folks even claim the rice tastes better. However, I have so far been unable to track down anything that was explicitly labeled as such here in Boulder. So I go with what's on hand. But certainly grab the real thing if you can.

Prep time: 2 cocktails

6 TBSP butter
1 medium leek, white portion only, rinsed well and chopped
12 ounces mixed fresh mushrooms, such as white button, shiitake, morel and wood ear, brushed clean, sliced
2 cups wild rice, rinsed and drained (use only wild rice, not a blend)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus additional for garnishing
8 sprigs fresh thyme
½ cup pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2/3 cup dry cooking sherry, (do not use cream or sweet sherry)

Bring 8 cups water to a boil. Stir in rice, then reduce heat so liquid is just simmering. Cover and cook until rice grains puff up and the inner, lighter part is visible, about 40 minutes. Drain excess liquid from rice and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leek and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until they have released their liquid and are mushrooms are darkening and have mostly cooked all their moisture out and are sticking a little to the pan. Deglaze with sherry and add thyme. And cook the sherry almost completely off.

Now, to the mushroom mixture, add the wild rice, pine nuts, parsley, salt, pepper to taste. Cook for another minute or so.

Stir in thyme and pine nuts and garnish with some additional parsley, and transfer the pilaf to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.