Virtual Vegan Potluck #3

I can’t believe it’s that time again…Virtual Vegan Potluck #3 is here!

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For the past two VVP’s, I’ve made desserts. (Click here and here to review my previous VVP posts.)  Surprised, aren’t you? Ha ha ha.  But, this time around, I’m shaking it up a bit, and I’m sharing a main course dish! Woohoo!

Ok, so here’s the deal. I’ve been eating a high-raw vegan diet off and on since last May. And I love it. It makes me feel my best. My heart doesn’t skip as much. My weight stays pretty stable. My energy levels are higher. I sleep better, and the list goes on. But, there are some popular foods in the raw-vegan circles that I’ve yet to embrace. Raw “noodles” is one of them. But, not one to be easily defeated, I keep trying. And this time, I think I got it! I’ve conquered my dislike of the raw noodle! Yes! Bring on the summer cucumbers and zucchinis!

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I’ve shared a recipe or two in the past that has featured raw zucchini noodles, and I’ve eaten and not disliked them, but I’ve never relished in their flavor. But, during my nightly watching of food related YouTube videos (I ❤ YouTube!), I stumbled upon a suggestion to peel the zucchini before using it. Hum…Why haven’t I tried that?! With this also came the revelation that I find the yellow summer squash milder in flavor than the green zucchini squash. A short trip to the store and a little digging for the spiralizer I bought last summer and promptly put in storage, and by golly, I think I got it!

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At the same time, I went ahead and spiralized a large, peeled cucumber, which I then squeezed in a kitchen towel to remove the excess water from the noodles. Success once again!

Both noodles went in the dehydrator for some warming while I made the sauces to cover each.

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First up, the sauce I used with the cucumbers. Sooooo gooood!

Raw Tomato-fredo Sauce (or Raw Tomato-fredo Hummus/Dip/Soup)

1/2 c cashews, soaked

1/2 c tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)

2 TBSP sun dried tomato powder (Read below to find out how to make your own!)

1/2 lg red bell pepper, diced

Seasonings: salt, pepper, oregano, granulated garlic, onion powder (all to taste)

First, make your sun dried tomato powder by grinding 1/4-1/2 cup frozen sun dried tomatoes in a small food processor or bullet style blender. After the tomatoes become a fine powder, add cashews, tomatoes, and red pepper to blender/food processor bowel and pulse to combine. Add seasonings and processes mixture until desired consistency is reached. (I left mine on the thick side, and it really stood up to the cucumber noodles.)  You might want to strain the resulting mix through a fine mesh strainer; this will enhance the flavor of your sauce and, of course, make it a little thicker 😉

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I loved this sauce on the cucumber noodles. I’m pretty sure I could spiralize three or four cucumbers and toss them with this sauce and call it a salad. I think some ripe olives and maybe some fresh herbs like parsley or a chiffonade of basil would be awesome adds to a cucumber and tomato-fredo noodle salad. Mmmm…

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I can also see myself using this sauce as a raw hummus type dip with raw veggies, spread on a lettuce leave for a raw sandwich or burrito, eaten with a spoon as a raw soup, and tossed with dehydrator warmed veggies for a primavera type dish.

For the second sauce, all I did was marinate some thinly sliced mushrooms in 2 TBSP of tahini and 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil. I stored the mix in a zip top bag so I could squish the mixture around a couple of times a day, making sure each ‘shroom was soaking in marinade. Then, I dumped the mushrooms and their marinate onto a plate and heated them in the dehydrator for a little while. Finally, I added the peeled, yellow summer squash noodles, mixed, and ate!

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As I was eating the mushrooms, I kept thinking how good it would be with a little tofu. So I added some 🙂

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Have you ever tried this tofu? I love it!

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All I did was slice the block into four slabs, then stacked the slabs and sliced them into long strips, then cut across the strips to create little blocks of tofu. I didn’t even have to press it! That’s why I love this stuff so much 🙂

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I gobbled up the rest of the noodles and shrooms after I added the tofu. Triple yum!

Thanks for stopping by!  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the VVP participants. Click here to start from the beginning, or click the photos below to work your way forward and/or backward through the VVP chain.

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Raw Chili

I’m not a big chili fan. Never have been. But every once-in-a-while I crave it, which happened recently. But, since I’ve been eating a high-raw diet lately, I decided to try making raw chili. After consulting a few raw cookbooks and websites, I came up with this…and it was delicious!

Raw Chili

1 pk sun dried tomatoes – about 1 cup (soak if very dry)

2-3 roma tomatoes, diced (include seeds) – about 1 cup

1/2 big red bell pepper (another color might work – but don’t use green pepper for blending)

 

1 stalk celery, diced

1 lg carrot, diced

1/2 med onion, diced

Seasonings: onion powder, granulated garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt, chipotle powder/cayenne powder/chili flakes, etc

Bled sun dried tomatoes, tomatoes, and red bell pepper with seasonings in a high-powered blender or food processor. Mix should be thick with some texture, but not chunky. Add diced carrots, celery, and onion. Dehydrate chili to help blend flavors or refrigerate overnight to do the same thing. Serve chilled, slightly warmed, or at room temp.

I was surprised by how well this satisfied my desire for chili – and boy was it spicy!

My batch lasted a few days in the fridge. If it gets a little watery, just stir it up. The good thing about eating leftover, too, is that the veggies soften quite a bit from the liquid 🙂

Tofu Two Ways

Apparently I have a thing for tofu lately. My last post featured Pan-Seared Tofu with Wilted Greens, and today I’m sharing two tofu salad recipes.

I came upon these salads by accident. Kind of. I’ve been eating a very high raw diet (95% or higher) for a couple of weeks (It’s just the beginning!), and I the lack of chewiness is getting to me, which is probably I’ve really been in the mood for fake meat. Enter, tofu. Even though tofu isn’t raw (I buy mine from a regular grocery store), I didn’t want to cook it. (Yes, I’m aware it’s highly processed, and it’s affects on the body are questionable.)  So…I pressed the crap out of a block and made it into two salads. Ha ha ha!

First, I should mention how I press my tofu. I don’t own a tofu press; although, I’ve heard nothing but good things about them. Instead, I wrap my tofu block (I tend to use extra firm plus or extra firm regular – always organic and non-GMO) in a double layer of paper towel; then I wrap the paper-towel covered block in a dish towel and place it under our Britta water pitcher in the fridge. Make sure the pitcher is full of water for the extra weight. I leave the tofu block under the water pitcher for a couple of days or longer. (I think it would be OK for a few days because it’s chilled, and it’s wet-ish). Most of the time I rotate the block, so it doesn’t press into a weird shape. But it usually does anyway – ha!

I’ve seen numerous recipes for tofu “feta,” but I think it tastes more like fresh mozzarella – or what I remember it tasting like – so that’s how I treated it for these salads.

To prepare the tofu for both salads, cut the block into three slabs. Then, cut the slabs into tiny blocks. I left mine a little larger because I really wanted to taste the tofu pieces, but I’m certain you could “fool” an omni eater with tiny pieces of tofu into thinking they were eating mozzarella.

Summer Tofu Salad

1/2 block tofu, pressed and cubed into small pieces

1-2 T lemon juice (juice of one lemon)

1 T EVOO (I use cold-pressed)

1/4  – 1/2 c olives (mix of your favorite – include some that are briny)

1-2 small scallions (whites and greens), diced

1 small tomato, seeded and cut into small pieces

Mix tofu, olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to marinate. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Eat immediately or refrigerate for later. Keeps 1-2 days (at least). 

Serves two.

Asian Tofu Salad

1/2 block tofu, pressed and cubed into small pieces

1 T sesame oil (roasted is best flavor wise)

1-2 T soy sauce (or tamari or Braggs or…your choice – I use low sodium tamari)

1 lg scallion (or 1-3 smaller ones), white and green parts, diced

2 T carrot shreds, diced (I buy the matchstick carrots and cut those to size)

1 T (scant) sesame seeds

Optional: 1-2 c cold rice noodles (or kelp noodles might be a nice flavor combo!)

Mix tofu, oil, and soy sauce. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to marinate. Add remaining ingratiates and eat immediately or refrigerate for later. Keeps for 1-2 days (at least).

Serves two

I loved both of these salads equally. Seriously delicious. I can’t wait to make each of them again. I’m thinking of taking them on a road trip to Chicago this coming weekend. We’re going to the Self Workout in the Park. Anybody else going to be there?!

Bean & Lentil Chili

Sundays are typically my cooking and baking days. I spend hours in the kitchen testing recipes and creating new ones – and washing an endless pile of dishes. But, after I’m done, I have enough food to get me through the week, except for breakfasts (smoothie, anyone?) and the occasional dinner or lunch I squeeze in on Monday or Tuesday, respectively.

Last Sunday, I had already prepped a bunch of veggies, made dip for the veggies (or salad dressing with a little thinning), two muffin batches, and some brownies, so I was on the fence about more cooking. I knew I had veggie burgers and a few different kinds of soup in the freeze (I love freezing left overs!), and coupled with the fresh veggies and some fruit, I knew work meals could easily be taken care of. But then we got company. We never  get company.

I can literally count on one hand the number of times we’ve had company in the year and a half I’ve lived here with Mr. M. And only one of those times, except for last Sunday, included my making food.

Anyway, back to our company. My mother-in-law stopped by on her way through the area while driving home from a traveling nursing gig she’d been doing in Montana for the past few months. (Before that, she’d been in Maine doing the same thing. Crazy!) We were happy to see her, of course; it had been over a year since either of us had seen her. She was a little surprised to see me – minus 60+ pounds. Apparently, I look a little different – ha ha.

To entice her to spend the night with us instead of staying in a hotel (like our company alone wasn’t enough – ha!), I went ahead and cooked dinner. So much for freezer meals all week 😉

I’d been tossing around an idea for bean and lentil veggie burgers, which I’ll share in another post, but I’d also been craving chili. That’s unusual. I never used to like chili. I used to pick out the beans and chunky tomatoes and leave everything else when we’d have it at home, and in later years, but before I became vegetarian, obviously, I used to occasionally like Wendy’s chili. I wanted a really thick chili with a lot of flavor but not a lot of heat (I don’t do heat, in case you haven’t noticed), so I thought about adding lentils to the beans and other goodies. And why not? I could make a big batch and use them twice. Score!

Bean & Lentil Chili

2 cans dark red kidney beans (about 3 cups), rinsed

2 cans mixed beans* (about 3 cups), rinsed

2 c cooked lentils (any variety except red will do – I used French or green)

1 giant jar mild or medium picante sauce or salsa (or 2 smaller jars)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes (about 1 cup)

1 c veggie broth

1 c diced onion

1 c diced carrot

1 c diced celery

1 c diced green bell pepper

4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or about 2 TBSP)

Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder/granulated garlic, Mrs. Dash chipotle lime (my new fav!), etc.

In a large soup pot, saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, celery in a little bit of veggie broth until tender. (I put the lid on the pot to help the softening.) You may want to add some seasonings here so the flavors have time to develop. Add beans, lentils, tomatoes, salsa and veggie broth. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover for thinner chili or leave uncovered for thicker chili. (You can also add broth to thin out your chili and make it more soup-like.) Season as you go until it’s just right. Serve once everything is heated through.

Makes 6 large servings (about two cups each)

Click here for nutrition information

* I used Kroger’s Private Select Organic Tri Bean mix, but you could use any bean or bean mix you like.

Bean & Lentil Chili

And, in case you’re wondering, this chili freezes (and thaws) really well!

Frozen Chili

5 Minute Chunky Tomato Sauce

In my continued effort to clean out the freezer and use up my wheat containing items, I wanted to use up the rest of a partial bag of TJ’s Meatless Balls, but I didn’t want to eat them naked, and I didn’t have any kind of sauce on hand, so I went scrounging through the cupboards, and this is what I came up with.

5 Minute Chunky Tomato Sauce

1 can diced tomatoes (about 1.5 cups)

4 TBSP nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp granulated garlic

1 heaping tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl, and microwave on high until warm – about 1 – 2 minutes.

5 Minute Chunky Tomato Sauce with TJ's Meatless Balls

I almost feel guilty posting this recipe because it’s not really a recipe, and it’s so simple, but then I remember that you might need some inspiration when there’s “nothing to eat.” There’s always something to eat with a decently stocked pantry and a little imagination.