My eyes are greedy. I’ve been bookmarking so many recipes lately and have an inexplicable urge to make all of them. I’m not sure if this lull period in my life is a good thing because in between preparing (or attempting to) for the MCAT and writing essays, I’ll be surfing FG, brainstorming for new recipes and visualizing the creation in the mind. Could it be possible to suffer from recipe addiction? Incidentally, yesterday’s sermon touched on idolatry, which was a timely reminder not to turn this hobby into an obsession that occupies my mind and uproots more impending priorities.
Lest I launch into philosophical waxing, here’s
one two THREE dishes that will make a complete wholesome vegan meal. Somehow Sundays are always equated to cooking out and more elaborate meals. I might add time-consuming too. Nevertheless, what you reap is what you sow, and though these recipes are slightly time-consuming, they’re bursting with a party of flavours and the effort is worth every bit. Actually, most of time is spent letting the ingredients sit in the marinade so the actual cooking time is fairly short.
First up, we have giant portobello mushrooms for carbohydrates. Okay so I admit mushrooms are low carb compared to rice and grains but the carbohydrates they contain are of the complex type. They are rich in immune-boosting beta glucans and loaded with selenium, an often overlooked mineral that helps regulate thyroid function. An Italian favourite, portobello’s meaty texture takes well to marinades and glazes. Here as an twist to the classic olive oil, I concocted a balsamic vinegar dressing, spiked with the piquancy of crushed garlic, shallot and herbs. Paired with the natural woody juices of the portobellos when cooked, it came out as a curious, interesting flavour. Who needs meat when we have portobello steaks?
Oh, and be sure to lean the shrooms well before marinating; bits of dirt may be trapped in the gills. The gills can be easily removed by scraping with a spoon (see above right picture).
Tofu provides the protein. Sesame crusted tofu is a perennial favourite where a crisp crust of smoky toasty sesame seeds encase pillowy soft tofu curds. The contrast in texture is pure delight! I used pressed tofu for the recipe which has a firmness between silken/soft tofu and firm tofu. Their semi-firmness is best suited for tofu steaks and braises, and it’s so convenient that the whey is already pressed out for you.
And finally for veggies we have a Cauliflower & Carrot Garlic Mash, a veggie alternative to mashed potatoes, but just as creamy and tasty! My love for garlic knows no bounds, so I threw in cloves of roasted garlic with reckless abandon. If you haven’t tried roasting garlic before, it’s about time you do. The astringent mouth-puckering sulfurous tones of raw garlic melts into a creamy smoky flavour, and they are so deliciously mild you could eat them by the cloves.
I’m quite sure you wouldn’t miss meat with this three tasty vegan dishes. Enjoy!
Balsamic Portobello Steaks
For two large portobellos.
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, stems trimmed
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I used Il Borgo del Balsamico, orange label)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Herbs (fresh or dried, eg. thyme, rosemary or basil)
- Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C. Clean and pat dry portobello mushrooms and scrap gills away with a spoon. It should come off easily (see above picture).
- In a small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, shallot and a liberal pinch each of sea salt, black pepper and herbs. Mix well to create a marinade and brush or drizzle the mixture generously over the portobello mushrooms. Let it sit for at least 15 mins.
- Place the marinated portobello mushrooms gills side up in the oven and bake for 10 mins, flip, then bake the reverse side for another 10 mins.
- Best enjoyed with mash (potato, or veggie mash – eg. cauliflower, carrot, sweet potato or pumpkin).
Sesame Crusted Tofu
Makes eight tofu sticks.
- 1/2 block (140g) pressed tofu, drained of liquid
- 3/4 clove garlic, minced
- 3/4 tbsp sesame oil
- 3/4 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 3/4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- Wrap tofu in lots of paper towels and press as much water out of the tofu as possible. You may place a weight on the tofu and leave it standing for about 15 mins. Once the tofu is fairly dry, slice into sticks.
- In a shallow plate, mix the garlic, sesame oil, tamari, vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes. Add tofu to plate, spooning the marinade over the tofu. Alternatively you may marinate the tofu in a ziploc bag. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 mins to an hour.
- When ready to cook, pat each tofu stick COMPLETELY DRY with paper towels. This is critical to achieve a crispy sesame crust. (I didn’t pat mine dry and it didn’t turn crispy). Sprinkle the sides of each tofu stick with sesame seeds (I only crusted two sides.)
- Heat a large nonstick pan over medium low heat. You may add a small amount of oil if necessary to prevent sticking. Sear the sesame tofu for about 3-4 mins per side, so that it achieves a nice brown crust.
Cauliflower & Carrot Garlic Mash
Yields ~2/3 cup mash.
Adapted from Multiply Delicious
- 2/3 cup cauliflower florets
- 1/3 cup carrot slices
- 1/4 red onion, chopped
- 1-2 cloves roasted garlic (see notes)
- 1 tsp olive oil, divided
- Non-dairy milk, if necessary
- Herbs (fresh or dried eg. rosemary, thyme, basil)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- In a saucepan, bring about 2″ water to boil. Place cauliflower and carrots in boiling water and steam until soft, about 12-15 mins.
- Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in non-stick skillet on medium heat. Saute onion, garlic, and herbs until onion is translucent. Set aside.
- Place steamed cauliflower and carrots into a food processor. Add the sauteed onion, roasted garlic, herbs, and 1/2 tsp olive oil. Process until desired smoothness, drizzling in some non-dairy milk if necessary. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.
- Garnish with additional fresh or dried herbs and serve.
To roast garlic, slice off the top of a head of garlic and drizzle in some olive oil. Wrap in aluminium foil and bake for 40 mins. Remove from oven and let cool completely before unwrapping.