Vegan MoFo Day 9 – The easiest meal in the world…

I’m about to share with you a 20-minute meal that is so fast, easy & healthy that I’m almost embarassed to post it, but I will, because in my quest for Vegan MoFodom I have no shame…

But first, look what was sent to the United States today :

Go back to your Arizona ranch McCain – this is Obama’s Game!

My collegues are all rooting with me. We’ll be drinking champagne Wednesday, November 5th after my morning classes together. I doubt I’ll be getting much sleep on the 4th. Damn time difference…

And now, I will present you with one of the embarrassingly easy things I throw together when I have no meal plan, and will give you the tools you need so that you too can feign suave sophistication serving healthful foods to your friends and family…

Yes, even the picture is a total schlep job – but it works kids! Seriously! You’ll be loving it!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this dinner :

2 cups lentils & 4 cups H2O – yellow, green – whatever color you want, because even though the textures are different, it’ll all be ok in the end. If you’re in a big hurry go with the red or pink ones because they cook a little faster. Get them boiling. Yes, they’ll take more than 20 minutes to cook, but just start them up & check your email, comment a few blogs, then go back into the kitchen.

1 cup quinoa & 2 cups water – get that simmering in a pot, cover it, check it from time to time to be sure it isn’t burning, and add a little water if things get too dry. This should take about 15 minutes give or take.

1 Onion, 1 can crushed tomatoes, some cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil – While your pots are bubbling away on the stove top, chop your onion. Put it in a frying pan with the oil & spices and brown it up. Add the crushed tomatoes.

Stop! Your quinoa is done! It’ll burn if you don’t get it off the stove! Fluff it and cover it and leave it alone.

Stop! Drain your lentils, they’re done! Chances are, they soaked up all the water and that’s just fine. Now dump them in with the onion and tomato and stir it up. You may want to add some hot sauce or some more spices. I like to add some chili paste, you know, because I’m hot like that. Once it gets a little thick and yummy you can turn off the burner.

2 soy yogurts, a small bunch of fresh chopped coriander leaves, a little lime juice, salt – Mix these up in a bowl together. With a spoon. Lick the spoon. If you don’t like the way it tastes you can add a fresh chopped tomato, maybe half of a diced cucumber, more salt…you get the idea…

Voila! You have a balanced meal chock full of protein, fibre and vitamins! If you want to be super-cool you can wrap it up in a flat bread or tortilla or just pile it up in a bowl as I did above. Personally, I love the juxtaposition of the hot, spicy lentils and the cool, fresh yogurt sauce with the mellow and zen quinoa making peace and love in between. That’s just the kind of girl I am.

Vegan MoFo Day 7 – Animals on my table?

I’ll tell you one thing, this Vegan MoFo posting is a bit like when I first began running…I need to build up my endurance! I’ve never posted 7 days in a row evah! I’m feeling a little out of breath, and my legs are a little shaky, but I’m gaining ground!

Luckily, I have help like this in my kitchen…

These are the only animals you’ll ever see on my table!

Guppy is obsessed with dinosaurs, and animals in general, but really dinos. She knows so many of their names (in both French & English), it’s crazy the way she just soaks it up. M. Fish and I had to study up to be sure we weren’t messing up their names! She can also tell you if they are carnivore or herbivore. She fancies herself a comedian when she talks about Spinosaurus or T. Rex, “They eat other animals…Grrr (imagine the two plastic figures smashing into one another in an epic reenactment of Godzilla vs. King Kong)…but not my dinos. They only eat leaves and no animals!” (the dinos then kiss – SMACK – and proceed to eat imaginary “leaves” suspended in the air. This is all her, by the way. We don’t make a big deal about her diet sans animaux. It comes up, but for now we prefer to live more by example, and talk about the loving bonds ALL families share, regardless of species. Guppy carries her dinos with her in cotton drawstring bag (the mammals travel separately, they are more “snugly” says Guppy), and she brings them everywhere with her. For example, here there are on the kitchen table…

…because here she is tossing a most delicious salad. It’s the “Cabbage and Corn” salad from The Raw Gourmet. (I know, you were wondering where the food was in this MoFo post!). It’s so delicious, and beautiful, too, with the purple and yellow yumminess. It’s really an easy salad, just fresh or frozen corn and purple cabbage with a light vinaigrette – simple, sweet and sublime. I make a double batch each time, because it’s really better the next day once the cabbage has pickled a bit in the vinaigrette.

This salad is also really great wrapped up in a tortilla with some breaded-fish-style tofu. AMAZING! It tastes like the sea shore (without the gritty sand), or vacation, or maybe summer vacation. The crispy warm and the light, bright salad – W-O-W! You gotta try it! I of course have no pictures of that, because when it’s ready I just dive in and sacrifice photographic evidence for culinary satisfaction!

Tomorrow I’ll bring you some quinoa love, because damn it, it’s worth it!

Quinoa aux champignons! Mushroom & Fennel Quinoa!

Up until about 4 years ago I’d never cooked quinoa. Ok, up until about 4 years ago I’d never really cooked much of anything. My most common culinary feats came in to-go containers, and my version of a homemade dinner was my famous “safsouf au frigo”, a tabouleh you make in the morning with raw couscous, leave it in your fridge all day, and when you come home you stir & eat it. Whew! Slaving over a hot stove…what a drag!

Those days are gone and when I decided to cook, I realized I lacked the skills and basic know-how to do much other than boil water and chop veggies- and that’s really all you need to know how to do for this delicious dish!

Oh, right, back to my little 4-years-ago flashback. Because I am the academic-nerd type, I thought to myself “get ye a book of cookingness oh Shellyfish sans skills of the culinary variety” and that’s what I did. Recettes au Quinoa by Claudine Demay et Didier Perreol is a cute little book (literally, it’s not much bigger than my hand), but has 60 quinoa-based recipes. Not all the recipes are vegan, or even vegetarian, but the majority are, and those that aren’t are pretty easy to veganize. This book was great for me as a neophyte in the kitchen, because it has recipes spanning from breakfast-lunch-dinner, plus breads & muffins and more. I slightly adapted the following recipe, which is one of my family’s favorites (yes, even Mr. Fish likes it! go figure!). It’s also one of the only recipes I use with fennel – thanks to this recipe I cooked with it for the first time!

Quinoa aux champignons adapted from Quinoa aux pleurotes from Recettes au Quinoa

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • a pound of mushrooms
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced in lovely diagonals
  • cloves of garlic (minced) to taste- I used about 4 or 5
  • sesame oil
  • the equivalent of 2 plain soy yogurts or soy cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley

Clean & slice your mushrooms, and sauté them in a heavy-bottomed pan in about a half a cup of water for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time, and adding water if it gets too dry. Drain off any water that may be left-over after 10 minutes, and add two tablespoons of sesame seed oil, the fennel, garlic, salt & pepper to taste, and cook covered, over low heat, for about 15 minutes, or until the fennel is nice & tender.

Remove the pan from heat and gently stir in the soy yogurt or cream and your herb of choice. Yum! Here is a really horrible picture of what it looks like, but you are all imaginative fish, so pretend it’s just beautiful!

Quinoa, Tempeh & Sautéed Veggies

Nothing terribly original here today, kids. However, lack of originality does not negate healthful tastiness!

It is suddenly summer here in ma petite ville française, and I have been swapping my “computer time” for “enjoying the gorgeous outdoors” time. We live in a generally mild climate, and if that pesky GLOBAL WARMING wasn’t futzing with the environment, it would have been warm and sunny, gee, about a month or two ago. We were dealing with unseasonably wet and cool weather (I once counted the meteorologist use the word unseasonably followed by the adjectives: cold, wet & rainy nine times during her post-evening news diatribe. That’s encouraging.) Since about two weeks ago we’ve been enjoying temps in the mid/high 70sF/20sC, bright sun, gentle breezes…lovely!

Gorgeous weather aside, one cannot live on Vitamin D alone (hélas), so the food must be prepared…

I was feeling rather guilty of blog neglect, so I snapped a picture of what I threw together for dinner yesterday. I have really been on a quinoa kick lately, mostly because it’s so darn quick & nourishing- nature’s fast food grain. I make a lot of this sort of dish because the quinoa is done when you’ve finished tending to your veggies, and it’s just as delicious served warm as it is when presented the next day as a cool, composed salad straight from the fridge. I’m trying to be better about remembering my pumpkin seeds since my iron is a wee bit low…so should you! Eat your pumpkin seeds everyone! I soak a handful or two over night, then drain and put in the fridge and throw them into or onto everything I can: salads, sautées, smoothies (and even things that don’t begin with the letter “S”).

Quinoa, Tempeh & Sautéed Veggies

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 package of tempeh, cubed & sautéed until brown & crispyish
  • 1 courgette/zucchini, chunk cut
  • garlic cloves (to taste) diced up
  • onion, quartered
  • 3 carrots, chunk cut
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 tablespoons rice syrup
  • 5 tablespoons (aprox. I didn’t measure) soy sauce
  • sesame oil
  • 3/4 cup soaked pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup fresh parsley

This is really complex, so get ready… :)

Sautée the garlic and onion for about a minute or two in the sesame oil, then add the carrots & courgette, and maybe add just a smidge (no official measure here people) of water, then cover and leave to cook on low heat. Forget about veggies while washing your dishes. Remember them in time to stir them once or twice, and when they are just-right soft, take them off the flame and pour them into a large salad bowl with the tempeh and quinoa. In a small sauce pan, briefly sautée the green onions, for maybe two minutes, than add the rice syrup and soy sauce. It’ll get very liquid and bubbly. Pour this over the quinoa/veggie mixture and be careful to distribute evenly. Toss in the parsley rather than forgetting it in the bowl on the counter until after dinner like I did, and the pumpkin seeds. Voila!

If you are a fan of the quinoa as I am, go visit the lovely & eloquent Ricki at Diet, Dessert & Dogs. She was running a fun quinoa-series of recipes a bit back, and there were lots of great links to quinoa recipes galore!