Category Archives: Vegan or Would-Be-Just-As-Good-Vegan

The Best Tomato Sauce

I like my friend Knox for lots of reasons, one of which is that everything he cooks (and bakes, and preserves) is divine and he always shares his recipes.  He always has good ideas, and several projects up his sleeve at once, so you won’t be surprised to learn that among his many accomplishments, Knox is the granddaddy of Soup Swap.  (What, you haven’t held a soup swap yet this year?  It’s not too late!  The rules are here.)

And I think it was at Knox’s first soup swap, more than a decade ago, that he made us The Best Tomato Sauce for the first time.  There were lots of us, and lots of frozen soup, packed into Knox’s tiny house, and in characteristic fashion he breezily served steaming bowls of pasta to all of us crowded onto the couch and floor and standing in every corner and doorway.  The sauce was incredible.  I squeezed after him into the arms-width kitchen and wrote down his instructions on a now-battered-and-stained recipe card.The Best Tomato Sauce Continue reading

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Citrus Sugar

It’s unfortunate that we’re not supposed to eat sugar anymore, because at this time of year I’m zesting citrus like mad and there’s nothing like a little (or a lot of) sugar to tame the delectable bitterness of orange and lemon peels.  Think marmalade, think lemon-olive oil cake, think whole wheat quick bread with orange zest and brown sugar.  Need more ideas?  I loved this recent post from Food In Jars.Orange Zest Sugar from emmycooks.comThis isn’t a recipe so much as a good idea: before the next time you peel or juice a (washed, organic) lemon or orange, scrub off the zest with a microplane first.  Zest the fruit directly into a bowl to catch every drop of oil and essence from the peel.  Add sugar.  For this batch I added 1/2 c. granulated sugar to the zest of one orange and half a lemon.  Mash it around to help the sugar absorb the flavor of the zest, then leave the bowl uncovered at room temperature for a day or two, stirring occasionally, until the zest is completely dry.  Transfer to a sealed jar for storage. Continue reading

Black Bean Enfrijoladas

Today I’m here to offer you another version of my favorite black bean chilaquiles.  The original recipe gives you a riot of textures and bright flavors: the salty crunch of tortilla chips, lime, feta, chunky salsa, cilantro, a drizzle of crema, maybe even a few crisp radishes, all supported by a spicy puree of black beans, smoky chipotles, and garlic.  A bowl of those chilaquiles is one of my favorite foods.

But some days call for something a little simpler, a little healthier, and a heck of a lot less work.  On those days, lately, I’ve been making this version of the recipe instead.  The backbone of the dish, the spicy black bean puree, is unchanged from the earlier recipe.  But once the beans are ready, I don’t fuss with the little bowls of assorted toppings or with baking or frying the tortillas into chips.  Instead, I just dunk warm corn tortillas into the beans and then fold them into quarters right on our plates, topping them with a scoop of salsa, avocado, a handful of toasted pine nuts, and a dusting of cilantro.  With a salad alongside, dinner is served.Black Bean Enfrijoladas Continue reading

Red Pepper and Walnut Dip (Muhammara)

Of all the tasty little meze dishes that have passed through my kitchen in recent weeks—and oh, there have been many—this muhammara is certainly our favorite.  It’s a thick, rich, flavorful paste of roasted red peppers and walnuts, spicy with harissa and just a touch exotic with the sweet-tart, unplaceable flavor of pomegranate molasses.  Watch around the table: the first bite prompts a moment’s confusion, a second take, another bite, a smile.  “What IS this?”  It’s muhammara.

Muhammara Continue reading

Whole Wheat Pasta with Greens, Caramelized Onions, and Creamy Walnut Sauce

There’s a new category of food in our house these days that I like to call “decadent vegan.”  Regular vegan food, as everyone knows, is steamed quinoa with shredded carrots and a squeeze of lemon, but decadent vegan food is different.  It’s this creamy, hearty pasta, and my first experiment with deep-frying and that addictive roasted squash salad that we’re still making every chance we get.  In truth, a lot of recipes on this site fall into the decadent vegan category, but for some reason I hadn’t thought of them that way before.  This year, I’m making a conscious effort to cook more vegan meals.  Decadent, delicious vegan meals.

What are your favorite recipes or ideas that fall into the decadent vegan category?  Please share!

Pasta with Greens, Caramelized Onions, and Creamy Walnut SauceIf you keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, as I’ve been doing lately, this recipe can be prepared in the time your pasta takes to cook.  And if you don’t keep a jar of caramelized onions in the fridge, I encourage you to start. Continue reading

Spiced Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mejadra)

I recognize that early January is a time of year traditionally reserved for repentance and asceticism, but I’ve never been much good at either of those.  After many years of making my never-changing Annual New Year’s Resolution (yeah, I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours), this year I didn’t make one at all.

So while better women are perfecting their green smoothie technique or annoying the regulars at the gym, I’ve been getting over my fear of deep frying.Lentils and Rice with Fried OnionsAnd I’m so glad I did.  This dish is spectacular for a few reasons.  The flavors are deep and rich and sweet, beautifully spiced but not at all spicy.  You probably already have all the ingredients in your cupboard, but I bet it won’t cost you $2 if you have to restock anything for this recipe.  And the leftovers just get better and better as the days go by. Continue reading

Roasted Squash Salad with Tahini and Za’atar

Some days more than others, cooking is a dance.

“I’ll be there in a minute, honey!”  I crank the oven, scrub a butternut squash, lean in toward the counter, hack the peel away.  (Some people eat it, do you?)  Losing patience, my big girl comes over to talk subtraction, negative numbers, first grade math, the number line.  The squash falls away from my knife in isosceles wedges.  I show one to the girls.

“Do you want your squash in big pieces like this or little squares like squash candy?”  You can guess the answer.  I dice the last third of the squash, sling the pan into the oven, sweep the peels and seeds into the freezer for making broth, correct math homework, give in to the baby’s demand for a cracker.

Back to the recipe.  I scoop tahini and squeeze lemon, press garlic, whisk, text with an old friend about soup, recite the memorized words from a favorite children’s book that we can’t find today.  And then, in a moment of calm, I give my full attention to the stove, stirring, for the three minutes it takes to toast pine nuts.  Success.  They don’t burn.

Sweet roasted squash and red onions, a generous drizzle of tahini dressing, those salty toasted pine nuts, a shower of za’atar.  I taste a piece of squash, then stop doing everything else.  J wanders in at that moment and I hand him the plate and two forks.  We sit down in the middle of the chaos and eat every bite.   Roasted Sqush and Onions with Tahini and Za'atar Continue reading