Vegan Thai Red Curry

Vegan Thai Red Curry

One of my favorite dishes is Thai Red Curry with tofu. The complex flavors of the curry are warm and satisfying like no other dish I have ever eaten. My son, Andrew, first introduced me to Thai food after his travels to Thailand. He has traveled there a few times for both pleasure and school, and has become very fond of the culture and the food of the country.

I am not vegan, but I do like to eat healthy and I am always looking for easy vegan recipes to add to my collection. Therefore, I decided to make a vegan version of my favorite Thai dish, which was simple to do–just remove the fish sauce and use tofu for the protein. It is easy to make and I think you are going to love it.

This Thai inspired dish, is very easy to make. Most of the ingredients can be found at a regular grocery store, but I was not able to find the Thai chili so I used a jalapeño to add some heat.

Let’s get started!

Marinade for Tofu:

1 – garlic clove minced
3 – tbls. soy sauce
1 – tbls. honey (or brown sugar)
3 – tbls. rice vinegar
1/2 – tsp. red pepper flake
1 – 10 oz. extra firm tofu, cubed

Directions:

First, drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towels to absorb the extra water. You can also place a heavy pan on top of it to help squeeze out some of the water. Let is sit about 15 minutes to get out as much water as possible.

Next, place all the ingredients into a container with an air tight lid and stir to blend all the ingredients. Once the tofu is ready, cut it into one inch cubes. Place the cubed tofu into the marinade and seal tight. The tofu is delicate, so instead of mixing with a spoon, turn the container upside down a few times to cover all the pieces with the marinade. Let it marinate about 30 minutes, rotating the container periodically to make sure all the tofu marinates evenly.

Once the tofu has marinated long enough, heat a little canola oil in a large non-stick skillet. Cook until browned on all sides. Be careful not to break up the pieces when turning them. When they are ready, set aside until the curry is ready.

Ingredients for the Curry:

1/2 – cup thinly sliced red onion
1 – thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 – cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1/2 – cup carrots
2 – cloves garlic minced
1/2 – small jalapeño pepper, sliced into rings (or Thai Chili if you can find it)
1/2 – cup vegetable stock
3 – tbls. red Thai curry paste
14 – oz. light coconut milk
1 – lime and zest
1 – tsp. grated ginger
2 – tsp. honey (or brown sugar)
1 – tsp. salt
cilantro

Directions:

Cut the red onion, red bell pepper, and crimini mushrooms into thin slices. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger using a microplane. Next, slice half of a jalapeño pepper into thin rings, and the carrot into thin rounds.

In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, add 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and simmer about 5 minutes until they become translucent.

Next add the red curry paste and stir well until it dissolves into the liquid, then add the red bell peppers, mushrooms, jalapeño, and carrots to the pot.

Now add the coconut milk, lime juice, and lime zest.

Mix well and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

Once the curry is ready, add the salt and honey. Stir well, then add the tofu, and about two tablespoons of chopped cilantro.

Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.




Rice and Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant

Stuffed Eggplant, Rice, Vegetables, Vegan

This vegan stuffed eggplant recipe is delicious and nutritious. My mother’s stuffed eggplant is the model for this vegan version.  Her eggplant was stuffed with ground beef, rice, and  tomatoes, similar to a stuffed cabbage filling. She made it only once or twice a year, so it was a welcome treat. Today, however, I wanted to make a healthier and lighter version based on my mother’s original recipe. I used fresh ingredients that I had available, and I am very pleased with the result.  You’ll find that the stuffing is moist, hearty, delicious, and most importantly satisfying.

Ingredients:

1/2 – cup jasmine rice
1 – carrots
1 – stalks celery
1/2 – medium onion
2 – cloves garlic
Pinch of pepper flake
3 – cups vegetable stock
3/4 – tsp. salt
1/2 – tsp. pepper
1 – cup grape tomatoes halved
4 – basil leaves
2 – tbls. parsley
1/2 – cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

First, put the rice on to cook.  Add one cup vegetable broth to a pot and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring back to a boil, then reduce the flame to a simmer.  Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes.  Stir often and check that the broth does not dry up to quickly.  Cook until the broth is absorbed.  Test the rice to see if it is cooked, but do not overcook.

Next, wash the eggplant and cut it in half, then remove some of the meat of the eggplant to make a well to hold the stuffing.

Set the portion you remove aside, as it will be added to the stuffing.

Make the soffritto using a food processor. Add carrot, onion, and celery and pulse until finely chopped. 

In a large skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 finely diced cloves of garlic, and a pinch of red pepper flake. Sauté about 3 minutes until the garlic starts to soften.  While the garlic is sautéing, chop the pieces of eggplant that you removed and add to the skillet. 

Stir and cook about 2 minutes, then add the soffritto.

Add more olive oil if needed. Sprinkle about 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper to the soffritto, mix, and cook about 2 minutes.  Now add 1/2 cup vegetable stock. Continue cooking until tender, about 5 minutes.

Stir often so it does not stick to the pan.

Drain the cannellini beans and add them to the soffritto along with the grape tomatoes.

Stir to incorporate them and cook another 3 minutes.  

Next add the herbs and chopped walnuts, stir to incorporate them.

Now add the cooked rice and a about 1/2 cup vegetable broth.  Stir and taste to see if it needs more salt.  

Assemble and Bake

Place the eggplant in a baking dish, and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Drizzle olive oil on the eggplant, then fill each half with the stuffing.  Drizzle a little more olive oil over the stuffing and some on the bottom of the baking pan.

Place in a preheated 350° and cook about 15 minutes.  Add about 1 cup of hot vegetable broth to the bottom of the pan and return to the oven.

Cook about one hour until the eggplant is tender and the top of the stuffing starts to brown.  Use the broth in the bottom of the pan to baste the eggplant before serving.

Makes 4 servings

Buon appetito!

 




Tofu Scramble with Potatoes, Peppers, and Spinach

 

Tofu scramble, spinach, potatoes, peppers

Tofu scramble is one of my favorite vegan dishes.  It’s easy, delicious, and versatile.  This recipe uses spinach, potatoes, and green bell peppers, but you can use any vegetables you prefer.  Kale, zucchini, and mushrooms are just a few tasty options.

You can make this for breakfast or brunch, but I like to make it for a light, healthy dinner.  I’m not vegan, as you can see from my recipes, but I do like to eat healthy and prefer not to eat meat every day. Tofu is a good protein source for those days when I want to go meatless.  I find the tofu scramble to be a full-proof vegan dish.  It doesn’t take any special skill to make it taste delicious.

Let’s get started. . .

Ingredients:
2 – tbls. olive oil
2 – cloves garlic minced
1 – large red potato
1 – large green or red bell pepper
1 – small onion
5 – oz. baby spinach
10 – oz. extra firm tofu
1/2 – tsp. cumin
1/2 – tsp. Adobo seasoning
3/4 – tsp. turmeric
1/2 – tsp. oregano
3/4 – tsp. salt
Ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
Drain the tofu and wrap it in paper towel to soak up some of the liquid. Cut the potato into thin bite sized pieces, with the skin on. Heat 2 tbls. Olive oil in a large skillet, add the potatoes, minced garlic and sprinkle with a little salt and ground black pepper.

Cook until the potatoes start to brown. Flip over to brown both sides. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

While the potatoes are cooking, dice the onion into small pieces and the green pepper into bite sided pieces. You can use any bell pepper you like.  I happened to have green peppers available, but I prefer red bell peppers.  They are sweeter and they add a nice color contrast to the dish.

Once the potatoes are browned, push them aside and add the peppers and onions.

Cook until the peppers begin to soften then mix together with the potatoes. This will take about 4 minutes.

Add the spinach and mix all together. Cover the pan with a lid until the spinach begins to reduce, which will take about 3 minutes.

Cut the tofu into cubes, then push the potato and vegetables to one side of the pan and add the tofu, leaving a space to put the spices.

Add the cumin, Adobo, turmeric, oregano and salt.

Pour about 1/2 cup water into the spices and mix until completely dissolved, then mix through the tofu, potatoes, and vegetables.

Cook about 5-6 minutes mixing occasionally.

 

Serve immediately with pita bread or any bread of your choice.

This recipe should make 4 servings, but for my family it only makes 3 servings.

Enjoy!




Chana Masala and Spinach

Chickpeas, Chana, Masala, Spinach

Chana Masala (chickpeas and spices) is a warm and delicious Indian dish. It not only is a great vegan main dish, but also makes a delicious side dish. Serve it with rice or like I prefer to do, with farro. The recipe I am sharing with you today is my own version of the dish. It is hearty, healthy and easy to make.

What sparked my interest in making this meal is a visit from my niece, Jasmine, who is vegan. Therefore, I wanted to make a nice vegan dinner for us. I usually go to the legume family when I make a meatless meal, so I decided to use chickpeas, and what better way to serve chickpeas than with Indian spices.

Well, just chickpeas for dinner isn’t enough, so I also made farro for a healthy, protein filled grain, and a zucchini, pepper, and mushroom medley to serve along with them. The recipes for all three dishes are included in this post. I hope you give this meal a try, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients for Chickpeas

1 – medium onion diced
2 – cloves garlic minced
1 – jalapeño or serrano pepper diced
1 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. coriander
½ – tsp. garam masala
½ – tsp. turmeric
1 – tsp. ground cumin
1 – tsp. grated fresh ginger
½ – tsp. salt (or to taste)
¼ – tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 – 14 oz. cans chickpeas drained
½ – cup water
6 – oz. baby spinach
Small handful of chopped cilantro

Directions

Warm the olive oil in a heavy skillet, then add the diced onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté about 5-7 minutes until the onion begin to become translucent. Make a space in the skillet and add the coriander, garam masala, turmeric, and cumin. Stir into the onion mixture and cook about 1 minute more.

Next add the diced tomatoes, salt, and black pepper. Stir and continue to cook until the tomatoes start to come to a boil then add the chickpeas and water. Bring it back to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and let cook about 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

When the chickpeas are ready, add the spinach, stir and cover to let the spinach start to wilt. Cook about five minutes until the spinach is cooked. Add the cilantro and mix through.  Give it a taste and add salt if necessary.

While the chickpeas are simmering, you can prepare the rest of the meal. Start by cooking the farro. Sometimes it’s tricky to time everything perfectly, but you don’t have to worry with the farro because it is delicious at room temperature too.

Ingredients for Farro

1 ½ – cups farro
3 – cups water
1 – tsp. salt
½ – tsp. Herbs de Provence
2 – tbls. olive oil
½ – tsp. ground black pepper
1 – lime
Handful of chopped cilantro

Directions

Bring the water to a boil and add the farro and salt. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook about 15-20 minutes until the farro is al dente.

Drain the farro and return to the pot. Add the olive oil, black pepper, Herbs de Provence, and cilantro. Squeeze in the juice of one lime to brighten up the flavors. Stir and add salt if needed. Set aside until the chickpeas are ready.

To round out the meal, I also sautéed some zucchini, peppers, and crimini mushrooms. They make a perfect complement to the chickpeas and farro.

Once you have the water on to boil for the farro, you can start preparing the vegetables.

Ingredients for the Zucchini

3 – small zucchini (cut into 1” pieces)
2 – cups medium cut bell peppers (any variety you choose)
8 – oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 – tbls. olive oil
1 – tsp. adobo seasoning
2 – cloves garlic
½ – tsp. salt
½ – tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Wash and cut up the vegetables. Warm the olive oil in a large skillet along with the garlic (first smash it with the side of a large knife). Let it sauté about 2 minutes to release the flavor.  Now add the zucchini and peppers and sauté about 5-7 minutes then add the mushrooms. Season with adobo, salt, and black pepper. Stir occasionally and cook until tender; however, be careful not to overcook them. They should be tender, but still have a little crispness.

You are ready to eat. Enjoy!

Serves 4

Chickpeas, Chana Masala, Spinach, Farro, Zucchini




Farro Salad

farro-salad

Insalata di Farro

Farro is an ancient grain that has a nutty flavor with a nice bite to it. Not only is it delicious, but it is also high in fiber and protein and is a good source of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and multiple B vitamins.  Please note that it is not gluten free.

Ingredients:

1 – cup farro
1 – cucumber
½ – cup diced red onion
1 – red bell pepper
1 – cup frozen peas
1 – can black beans
15 – grape tomatoes
4 – fresh basil leaves
½ – tsp. dried oregano
1 – tsp. fresh thyme
1 – tsp. fresh parsley
¼ – cup extra virgin olive oil
½ – tsp. salt
½ – tsp. fresh ground black pepper
½ – tsp. Adobo seasoning

Directions:

Cook the farro according to the package directions. Be sure to add salt to the water. Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables and herbs and place them in a large bowl. Peel the cucumber and dice along with the red bell pepper and red onion, making them all the same size. Slice the grape tomatoes in half, add the frozen peas, and the finely chopped fresh herbs.  Mix all together in the large bowl.

When the farro is cooked, drain and let cool. While it is cooling you can add about 1/3 of the olive oil so that is does not stick together. Once cool, add to the vegetable mixture. Add the remaining olive oil, salt, pepper, and Adobo. Mix well. Add more olive oil if it seems to dry. Adjust taste by adding more herbs and salt if desired.

Serve at room temperature.

Note: you can use any fresh vegetable that you like in this dish. The ones I have used are only a suggestion.