To my lone loyal reader (Hi Mom!), I wanted to start this with a quick explanation about what I’ve been up to and why my recipe posts have come to a complete stand still. Summer’s here, and that means I’ve been able to cook lazy. The bounty of amazingly colorful and delicious produce that’s available during the summer means I don’t need recipes! I just layer whatever veggies were available at the market in a casserole dish with some salt and pepper or throw them in a pot with some fresh made stock and voila! Good eats every time.
There’s something so organic about cooking this way. Maybe it’s because I’m now going into my 3rd year of giving up the pre-packaged foods and I’ve got some cooking chops now, but I love how confident I can be with my food without any of the meticulous meal-planning I have to do the rest of the year. I thought this recipe would be a good example of my lazy summer cooking style. It combines tangy vinegar with a mishmash of sweet earthiness from beets, bell pepper, and brown rice. Love!
Tangy Beets and Greens over Bell Pepper Brown Rice:
I can’t get over the colors! Mmmmmmm!
Equipment: This is not a one-pot meal because the cook time for everything is long!
2 medium sauce pans with lids, 1 medium saute pan, 1 large sauce pan (or small ss pot) with lid, colander, stove top
1 red onion, half cut into thin slivers, half diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, small dice
1 bunch (4-6) beets with greens
1 cup brown rice
(Brown) rice vinegar
Lemon or lime juice
Coconut (or other high-temp) oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Bring the brown rice, a hearty pinch of salt, and 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and let simmer on low until the center of the rice is translucent (white center = raw rice).
Meanwhile, scrub the beets and cut off the greens. Trim both ends off the beets, add to a saucepan, over with approximately 2 inches of water, and bring to a boil. Let the beets boil until they’re fork tender (30-45 mins depending on the size of your beets).
Over medium high heat, warm the coconut oil in the large saucepan. Add the sliced onion and a pinch of salt. Saute for 1-2 mins, until starting to soften and then add one clove of chopped garlic. Saute another minute until starting to brown. Make sure the beet greens are well cleaned. Add the wet greens and 1/4 cup water to the hot pan and close with a lid immediately (try to do this all in one movement to capture the flash of steam). Reduce the heat to medium and let the beet greens steam. After about 7-10 minutes, you’ll notice most of the water has evaporated off and the bottom of the pot should have a nice golden brown caramelization on the bottom. Quickly add another 1/4 cup of water to the pot. After 2-3 mins, you’ll see that the beet greens are completely wilted and have started to soak up the browned pan drippings (yum!!). Remove the greens from the heat. Give them a dash of salt, a generous pinch of black pepper, a drizzle of rice vinegar, and half a drizzle of lime juice. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the delicious brown bits on the bottom (creates a deliciously tangy sauce with the leftover water). Set aside. This is hands-down my favorite way to cook dark leafies – works great with kale, chard, spinach, etc!
Meanwhile, over medium heat, heat a light drizzle of coconut oil in the saute pan. Add the diced red onion with a small pinch of salt and saute for 1-2 mins. Add the second clove of chopped garlic, and saute 2-3 more mins until both are just starting to brown. Stir in the diced bell pepper with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once the green bell pepper is just tender but still has some crunch (2-3 mins), remove the veg from the heat. Once the brown rice is done, stir it in with the bell pepper and onion. This would be great with some fresh chopped parsley!
Once the beets are tender, strain them, and run them under cold water while peeling them (the skin is tender enough to easily rub off with your fingers – no peeler needed!). Halve/quarter them, drizzle with a touch of evoo, and sprinkle on another drizzle of rice vinegar, half a drizzle of lime juice, a pinch of kosher salt, and a big pinch of black pepper. I’ve noticed that the golden beets are sweeter than red beets, so an extra hit of vinegar and citrus help balance out the intensely earthy sweetness.
Special thanks to my friend Janet for teaching me how to properly enjoy beets! 🙂
I don’t make that many lasagnas. I don’t know why. They’re the perfect way to eat GF pasta (which can often turn out less than stellar). I’m not sure if it’s that they intimidated me, or if I thought they were too much work. But! Nevertheless with my success with this recipe, I’ve got a new regular dish to add to my rotation, and I’ve found my lasagna mojo! I made this lasagna using a creamy white wine tomato basil sauce that uses ground roasted cashews to replace the cream, and it came out absolutely fantastic! Because I haven’t had much time these day to head to the market, I’ve had to focus my cooking efforts to include convenience without sacrificing quality. So for this recipe, I used both fresh and frozen ingredients, allowing me to maximize flavor, health, and convenience. A homemade sauce, fresh herbs, and high-quality store-bought products made this dish healthy and easy. This recipe is great for a busy weeknight but still satisfying and impressive enough to share with friends on the weekend. A new favorite!
Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Lasagna:
Oh lasagna, I'm so glad we're friends now.
Medium casserole dish, food processor, medium saute pan, large stainless steel pot with lid, colander, wooden spoon, spatula
For the sauce
3 fresh tomatoes, 1 chopped into big chunks, the other 2 diced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 heaping cup of roasted, unsalted cashews
2 small yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
~10 big fresh basil leaves, cut into small ribbons
Dry white wine (to taste)
Water (as needed)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
For the lasagna
~10 fresh basil leaves, whole
10 oz. frozen spinach
6 oz roasted red peppers, in water/vinegar brine (not oil), cut into strips
1 box (GF) lasagna noodles, prepared according to package directions
1 block soft tofu, sliced thin
Spike’s low-sodium vegit magic
(GF, Vegan) Breadcrumbs (mixed with 1-2 tsp of dried parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
For the sauce
Add the cashews, tomato that was roughly chopped, tomato paste, 2-3 Tbsp of water and a big pinch of kosher salt to the food processor. Blend, scrape down the sides, and keep blending until the mixture is silky smooth.
Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute 2-3 mins until softened and then add the chopped garlic. Saute another 2-3 mins, or until the garlic and onions are just starting to brown. Add a big pinch of salt, pepper, the diced tomatoes and the cashew-tomato mixture from the blender. Let cook 1-2 mins, or until simmering.
Once the tomatoes are starting to get hot, add 2-3 splashes of a dry white wine (to taste) and/or a few Tbsp of water. Without extra liquid the sauce is very thick and creamy. I wanted mine a little thinner, so I ended up adding probably 3-4 Tbsp of wine and the same amount of water. Add the basil and let simmer together 5-10 mins or until all of the flavors are deliciously incorporated.
For the lasagna
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Grease the casserole dish with evoo. Lay down one layer of lasagna noodles. Then, lay down a thin layer of roasted red pepper slices (just dot the bottom with 10-12 pieces. It doesn’t need to be a continuous layer). Top the pepper slices with a thick layer of spinach, and then spoon on a generous layer of 1/3 of the sauce.
Top the sauce with another layer of lasagna noodles. Then, lay down a layer of the sliced tofu (should use the whole block). Top the sliced tofu with a generous sprinkling of Spike’s seasoning, a sprinkle of salt, and a generous layer of the fresh basil leaves. Top the tofu-herb layer with spinach and then another 1/3 of the tomato sauce.
Add the last layer of noodles. Top once again with a layer of roasted red pepper strips, a thick layer of spinach and the last 1/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle on a generous topping of the seasoned (GF Vegan) breadcrumbs.
Bake at 350 F for 30-40 mins, or until the top is crunchy and the sides are bubbling. Broil for 1-2 mins if needed to toast the breadcrumbs (I’ve found that some GF breadcrumbs don’t toast easily unless under direct heat).
What inspired this dish? Well, I have previously expressed my love of stuffed peppers, and I was looking in my fridge trying to figure out what I was going to do with the extra portobellos and poblano peppers I picked up at the market on Saturday. And then the thought struck me, “Stuff all the things!!” And so, the mega-stuffed mushroom was born, and O! how the bellies rejoiced! Helpful hint: this dish has multiple components and it moves! So read the recipe once through before starting.
IT IS GLORIOUS! The greatest erection to come out of America since Newt Gingrich
Knife, cutting board, baking dish (13×9 or larger), large bowl, a spoon and a fork, wooden spoon, liquid measuring cup, med/large saucepan with lid, medium saute pan, metal spatula, range
2-3 leaves swiss chard, chopped into fine ribbons (or use a handful fresh spinach)
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup evoo + more for cooking
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prep the bell peppers and poblano chilies. Place them in the baking dish, drizzle with evoo, and sprinkle on a big pinch of kosher salt and pepper. Rub the peppers inside and out to make sure they’re thoroughly and evenly coated. Place the peppers cut-side down in the baking dish and bake 20 mins, or until peppers are soft.
While the peppers bake, stem the mushrooms and gently scrape out their gills with a spoon, being careful not to break the edges. Place the portobello caps in a large bowl. Add the slivered onion and one of the cloves of chopped garlic.
In a liquid measuring cup, combine the red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup evoo. Sprinkle in a dash of salt and a hit of ground pepper. Whisk with a fork to combine. Pour the marinade over the mushroom caps and veg. Mix the portobellos with your hands, and let marinate 10-15 mins. Make sure your caps are all touching some of the onions and garlic! Don’t let them just sit on the bottom!
Add the veg stock and millet to a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and let simmer until all the liquid is gone, about 15-20 mins.
By now, your peppers are probably done. Remove them from the oven, and reduce the oven heat to 350 F. Let them sit until they’re cool enough to handle. Revisit your mushrooms caps and swish them around to make sure they all get evenly marinated.
Heat a drizzle of evoo in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the diced onion to the pan and saute 2 mins. Add the garlic and cook another minute or until the onion is soft and translucent. Stir in the chard ribbons, a big pinch of salt, some black pepper, and red pepper flakes if desired. Saute and stir until the chard is thoroughly wilted, or about 5-7 mins. Once it’s done cooking, add the millet to the saute pan and stir it around to coat it in the oniony, garlicky flavor.
Ok, let’s build some stacks of awesome. Select a mushroom cap, and layer it with 6-7 thin slices of garlic. Place a roasted red bell pepper on top of the mushroom, and fill the pepper cavity with a small handful of the onions from the mushroom marinade. Top that with half of a poblano pepper and spoon in 2-3 spoon fulls of the chard/millet stuffing. Place in the baking dish and repeat 3 times or until everything is used up.
Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and return the veggies to the oven to bake at 350 F for 20 mins. This will help make sure the mushrooms, onions, and garlic soften in the vinegar marinade steam. After 20 mins, remove the foil and bake another 10-20 mins, or until all of the veggies are softened to your desired texture, and the top of the millet has started to toast to a golden brown. Carefully remove the hot mega-stuffed monstrosities with a spatula.
I love stuffed peppers, and it’s been a while since I made them. So, after I read up on how to cook millet (and found that it’s very similar to rice), the first thing I thought was “what can I stick this in?” Which after a some giggles landed me on the idea that it’s time for some over-stuffed peppers again. I call them over-stuffed or super-stuffed simply because I like to pack in and mound on the filling. The stuffing’s the best part! The fact that you eat the vesicle it comes in is just a brilliant bonus.
This recipe ended up cooking super quickly and has a limited ingredients list, making it a perfect home-cooked ending to a long day. Mushrooms and garlic might be my two all-time favorite ingredients, so for me this is a no-brainer. Naturally, you can look in your pantry and crisper drawers to adjust this stuffing to your preferences. This is just the basics of how to put together a vegan stuffed pepper recipe that’s super satisfying without cheese, cream, or sausage.
Mushroom, Garlic, and Millet Super-Stuffed Peppers:
These bad boys are surprisingly hard to photograph, or maybe that's just because I was trying to eat and snap at the same time
1 9×9 baking dish (cookie sheet or baking sheet is fine too, just not any smaller), medium or large saute pan, large saucepan with lid, wooden spoon, knife, cutting board, small serving or large soup spoon, oven, stove top
Drizzle the red peppers with evoo, and sprinkle on a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper. Rub the peppers halves inside and out to make sure they’re completely coated in the oil and seasonings. Place the pepper halves cut-side down in the baking dish. Bake at 375 F for 30-45 mins or until the peppers are soft, the skins are starting to brown, and you can smell the peppers from outside the oven.
Meanwhile, add the vegetable stock and the millet to the saucepan. Over high heat, bring the stock up to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, or about 15-20 mins. Fluff the millet once it’s done cooking. Prep your veggies.
Heat a small amount of oil in the saute pan over medium heat. Add the red onion and saute for 1 minute. Then add the garlic and the thyme and cook another 2 mins.
Add the mushrooms to the pan. Season generously with salt and pepper, and let the veggies cook until the mushrooms and onions are completely softened, about 5 mins.
Turn off the heat, and stir in the cooked millet and the fresh parsley. When everything is well combined, taste-test the filling and re-season as needed. If your stuffing tastes too dry, work in a drizzle of evoo. Remove the cooked peppers from the oven, and flip them over to make little bowls. Turn up the oven to broil.
Fill the peppers with the stuffing, and press down with the back of the spoon to ensure all of the cavity is being filled to maximum capacity. Mound on any leftover stuffing. Sprinkle on the crumb topping.
Broil the stuffed peppers 1-2 mins, or until the topping is a crunchy, golden brown. Serve hot.
I had spaghetti squash for the first time a few years ago, and as a life-long loather of squash, I was stunned at how good it was. Ever since then, I’ve been playing with this flexible recipe (as well as other squashy delights!), and am now a marrow enthusiast! I particularly love this version of this recipe on busy days like today because it’s just so damn easy and doesn’t take a plethora of ingredients, but it’s still elegant and impressive enough to serve to guests. Just chop everything up, throw it in the oven, and come back in an hour for lunch.
This is an especially great recipe for those of us who live alone and like to cook on the weekends for the entire week. Depending on the size of the squash (and how crookedly I cut it at the beginning) I can get 4-6 servings from just one spaghetti squash.
Stuffed Spaghetti Squash:
Seriously, who wouldn't be proud to serve this at a party? It's just so damn pretty.
Knife, cutting board, large sheet pan (lined with a Silpat, optional for easier clean-up), medium-sized bowl, spoon, aluminum foil, oven
2 red bell peppers, finely diced (~1/4″ dice)
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
2 white onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
10-15 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
6 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 medium spaghetti squash
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Cut off the ends of the squash. Stand the squash up on a flat end, and carefully slice it in half long-ways to make two oblong squash bowls. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and any lose flesh on the inside.
Place the squash boats on a baking sheet. Drizzle the in-sides generously with evoo. Sprinkle on 2-3 healthy pinches of salt and hits of ground black pepper. Rub the oil, salt, and pepper all over the in- and outsides of the squash, making sure it is evenly coated. When you’re seasoning at this point, remember that spaghetti squash is on the sweet side like most marrows. This is the point where you have to decide if you want to enhance that sweetness (just a touch of salt) or try to mask it (salt away, baby!).
Place the squash halves cut-side down on the baking sheet, and bake for 45 mins. Meanwhile, chop the rest of your veggies. Put all the veggies except the sliced mushrooms in a medium bowl (the mushrooms will turn to mush once the tomatoes and peppers start to sweat). Drizzle with a little evoo, and sprinkle on a some salt and pepper to taste. Mix with a spoon, and stir in the chopped parsley. Set aside, and let sit until squash is done par-cooking. When the squash only have 1-2 mins left in the oven, add the mushrooms in with the other veggies.
Carefully flip over the squash – watch out that steam is hot!! Fill the squash bowls with the chopped veg. There will seem to be too much, but it’s supposed to be mounding out of the squash bowls (otherwise there would be way too much squash with not enough stuffing at the end). Give the stuffing a press to make sure it’s in there good and to make room for any last bits of veg.
Cover with an aluminum foil tent, and bake an additional 45 mins, or until the veggie stuffing has softened and the squash is thoroughly cooked through. Carefully remove the aluminum foil tent, and carve the stuffed squash into desired serving size.
Serve squash wedges/quarters whole. To eat, scrape out the inside of the squash, and it will make long spaghetti-like strands. Mix with the stuffing like it’s spaghetti and red sauce.
I’m not a fan of fake meat products. As a protein substitute, I’d rather use tofu than “Chik’n” and textured vegetable protein over “Vegan Ground Beef.” I stopped eating meat because of all the shit they put in it (literally, the number one ingredient of most factory-farmed cattle feed is factory-farmed chicken shit. Bon appetit!). So, to me it doesn’t make much sense to replace it with something even more artificial and potentially equally chemical-packed.
So try this one on for size – put down the cans of Manwich, and give this veggie-packed alternative with a classic comfort-food taste a try. These sandwiches are an awesome main dish with some cold potato salad on the side.
Vegan Sloppy Joes:
A deliciously messy food
Large saute pan with lid, couple of different-sized bowls (small-med) to help stay organized, wooden spoon, liquid measuring cup, measuring spoons, knife, cutting board, stove-top
2 Tbsp coconut oil (evoo works if coconut oil isn’t in the budget this week)
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery with leaves, halved and diced
2 yellow onions, diced
1/2 lb crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 very large (or 3 medium) tomatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp chili powder
Fine sea salt and ground black pepper
2 cups veggie stock
1/4 cup Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or tamari/soysauce)
1/4 cup ketchup
1-3 Tbsp vegan sweetener to taste (like agave syrup)
1 1/2 cups textured vegetable protein
Vegan hamburger buns or toast
Heat the cubed tomatoes in the skillet over medium heat. Once they start getting hot, add the garlic, give it a good stir, cover and let simmer 5-10 mins or until the tomatoes start to lose their shape. Mash any of the leftover larger cubes with the wooden spoon. Remove the tomato sauce from the heat. Set aside in a small bowl.
Heat the coconut oil in the saute pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is liquefied and hot, add the bell pepper and celery to the pan, and cook 2-3 mins. Add in the onions and let cook another 5 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms, and let cook another minute, or until all the veggies are start to soften.
Once the veggies are softened, stir in the chili powder, 1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp ground black pepper, and let the veggies cook in the spices for about 2 mins.
Add the tomato sauce, Bragg’s, ketchup, veggie stock, and 1 Tbsp of the agave syrup and stir until well incorporated. Stir in the textured vegetable protein, and let come back up to a simmer. Reduce the heat to med-low and let the sauce simmer for 15-20, stirring occasionally. Taste-test and add more sweetener, salt, and pepper as desired. I grew up on sweet Southern-style sloppy Joe’s, so the sweetener is a necessity for me to get that home-style comfort feel.
Toast you buns/bread, and serve open-faced, covered in a generous mound of the veggies.
I’m baaaaack! Did you miss me? 🙂 I spent the first half of this month on an intense academic expedition, hiking the proposed international Peace Park in the Balkans Mountains between Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. I highly suggest anyone interested in learning about conflict resolution or environmental studies check out the International Peace Park Expedition’s website (it is an academically accredited trip through the University of Vermont’s Graduate College and their Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources). They have accredited academic expeditions all over the world, but enough advertising for the greatest experiential learning course you could ever possibly imagine… Let’s talk about food. 😉
As much as I love experiencing the cuisine of different cultures, there is a point where you have to put down the goat cheese and admit how much you wish you could have just a little taste of home. Honestly, I don’t know of any food that’s more American than chili – except maybe this one – and so to celebrate the amazing bounty of fresh veg at the market this morning, I’ve decided to make a vegan chili.
…Except, I don’t really like chili all that much on its own. It’s good for the first bowl, but I always feel like something’s missing when I eat chili. So, recently inspired by a Mexican Lasagna over at Healthy Food | Lazy People, I’m going to turn my slow-cooker chili into the base for my Tex-Mex Lasagna (and further procrastinate working on my final paper for the above mentioned class). So much win I can barely stand it. 😀
Fun fact: Dried beans are not only cheaper and better for you than the canned variety, the soaking dried beans require before cooking them removes the compound that causes flatulence. If you’ve gotten a little more musical since your great Aunt’s taco night last Sunday, that’s a pretty good sign that she’s using canned beans.
Slow-Cooker Veg Chili and Tex-Mex Lasagna:
Mmmm layered veggie-loaded spicy goodness
Large slow-cooker, knife, cutting board, strainer, tea kettle, large bowl, bottle opener, cheese grater, casserole baking dish, small ladle or large spoon, oven
4 green peppers, seeded and cut into large chunks
3 tomatoes, cored and cut into large chunks
3 large yellow onions, halved and slivered
3 jalapenos or other chillies of choice
1 head of garlic cloves (yes, head), peeled and roughly chopped
1 large head of broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
1+ cups shredded sharp cheddar and jack cheeses (for Tex-Mex Lasagna)
Sour cream, chives, lettuce and whatever other topping you like (optional)
Fill the kettle with water, and bring to a boil. Put all the beans in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Set aside and let sit for about 4 hours. Prep the veg, make your stock, take a nap, creep on Facebook.
Veggies are chillin' while the beans are soaking.
Drain and rinse the beans in a strainer. Add the softened beans to the slow-cooker. Add all of the vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, onions, chillies, garlic, broccoli, zucchini, squash, corn, and cilantro if desired), the beer, and the stock to the slow cooker.
Now, it’s time to make a judgment call. A thousand people like chili a thousand different ways. The listed seasonings are the ones I deem necessary for a great Tex-Mex flavor, but I’m not exactly a chili connoisseur or even really a chili enthusiast. But, I do know that these flavors taste freaking awesome together – especially when added with the sharp cheddar and jack at the end. I strongly recommend each of the listed spices, but it’s really up to you and your taste buds how much of each you like. I’m in the mood for lighter seasoning (since it’s summer time), so I used the approximate ratio of:
4 huge dashes chili powder
2 huge dashes paprika
1 big dash cumin
2 small dashes cayenne pepper
2 small dashes lemon pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste (heavy on the black pepper)
Turn the slow-cooker on High and let cook 4-5 hours. Taste test the doneness of your beans after about 3 hours to decide how much longer you want it to cook.
The chili portion of this recipe is now over, so either rip off a crusty piece of sourdough and ENJOY!! or continue on:
Mmmm veggie loaded spiciness
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Ladle some of the hot liquid from the chili onto the bottom of the baking dish and cover with a layer of tortillas. From here on out, it’s the same process as building a lasagna. Layer the tortillas like it’s the pasta, the chili juices like it’s a tomato sauce, and the veg and beans like ground beef with the shredded cheeses until you’re casserole dish is full. Make sure to top with a generous final layer of the cheeses. Store any extra chili separately.
Bake the Tex-Mex Lasagna for 15-20 mins or until the top cheese is melted and golden and the sides are bubbling.