Veggie Redux: Vegetarian Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

casserole3

Does anyone else remember this dish from childhood? This cheesy casserole of broccoli, chicken, and rice was one of my favorite meals while growing up. I remember digging into a plateful of creamy, cheesy broccoli rice at the end of many a late soccer practice. When the weather started to get cooler and the days got shorter, I would spend the waning hours of daylight doing trapping drills, taking shots, and scrimmaging with my teammates. Sometimes it got so dark that our parents headed to the cars to run the heat and illuminate the field with their headlights. When I finally got home, cold, muddy and famished, a cheesy casserole was the ultimate comfort food.

casserole1

Quorn Naked Chik’n Cutlets make it easy to recreate this dish without meat*. If you’re not into meat substitutes but you want to replace the protein lost from removing the chicken, add a can of chickpeas or a block of silken tofu to the mixture before pouring into the casserole dish and baking.

My intention is that this hearty casserole will be a welcome treat for Kyle when he gets home from a late bicycle ride or a long day of work. Because it’s a one dish meal, I can make it ahead of time and then pop it in the oven to reheat, and cleanup is very easy. I hope that this crowd-pleasing dish finds a place on your table as the weather gets cooler and the annual nesting and hibernating begin!

casserole2

Vegetarian Chicken, Broccoli and Rice Casserole

Serves 8

casserole4

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups short grain brown rice
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups frozen broccoli, chopped
  • 4 ounces artichokes (frozen or marinated), chopped
  • 1 – 9.7 ounce package of Quorn Naked Chik’n Cutlets, thawed and diced
  • 2 cups lowfat milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat vegetable broth over medium heat. Add brown rice and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork.
  2. While rice is cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, broccoli and artichokes. Saute until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add naked chik’n cutlets, diced, and continue to cook over low-medium heat for 5 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  4. In a medium pot over medium heat, combine milk and flour with a whisk until fully incorporated. Cook for 8 minutes then remove from heat.
  5. To the milk sauce, add yogurt or sour cream, 1 cup of shredded cheese, tarragon, and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add the brown rice and cheese sauce to the large pot with the vegetables and vegetarian chicken. Transfer to a large casserole dish and top with 1 cup of shredded cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

*Not a sponsored post, just a fan of Quorn!

Advertisements

Veggie Redux: Vegan BBQ with Cole Slaw

Resampled_2012-11-25_19-15-11_354

If you have seen any of my veggie redux posts before, you know that I love a good vegetarian remake of a classic meaty dish. In the past, I have tackled bangers and mash, shrimp and grits, caldo verde, chicken pot pie, and more. Recently I started experimenting with jackfruit for a vegetarian remake of pulled pork barbecue. I had seen barbecue jackfruit on the menus at Ipanema and Strange Matter, so this isn’t a completely original idea, but the recipe is the result of several hours of testing spice combinations in my own kitchen.

Resampled_2012-11-19_19-40-42_891

It all starts with young green jackfruit, a fruit that is indigenous to Southeast Asia. I found it canned at Tan-A, a large Asian supermarket in Richmond. This fruit works well because the texture is fibrous like pulled pork, and when unripe, it does not have a very strong taste. The young green jackfruit is a little tangy on its own but it is mainly a vehicle for the flavor of the barbecue sauce.

Resampled_2012-11-25_18-23-58_304

It is important to use either jackfruit in brine (rinsed) or jackfruit in water. Do not use jackfruit in syrup or else it will be very sweet. As the jackfruit cooks, it releases some liquid into the sauce and begins to pull apart. After some seasoning, simmering, and coaxing with forks, the jackfruit begins to resemble pulled pork barbecue.

Resampled_2012-11-25_19-16-27_67

When I had mastered my barbecue sauce recipe, I realized that I was on the way to not just a vegetarian barbecue sandwich, but a vegan one. I started working on a cole slaw recipe with that in mind. I grew up eating barbecue with creamy cole slaw, so I had to make sure I had some cool and crunchy cole slaw to balance my smoky and spicy barbecue jackfruit.

Resampled_2012-12-08_13-16-38_671

I made the cole slaw creamy and vegan by making vegan cashew cream and then expanding upon that technique to create a dressing. It starts with ground cashews and water, then after the addition of oil, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt, pepper, and a touch of maple syrup, a sweet and tangy dressing comes together. It is so creamy that it’s hard to believe that it’s vegan.

Resampled_2012-12-08_13-04-43_271

Since finalizing my recipes for both components, I have experimented even more with jackfruit, by putting the barbecue jackfruit on buns, over polenta, and piled on tostadas. Later this week, we’ll try it in enchiladas. Kyle has requested in in banh mi soon. If you add a little chili powder to the barbecue recipe and let it cook a bit longer over higher heat, you get something that resembles barbacoa, which is delicious stuffed in tortillas with fresh sliced avocado and lime.

Resampled_2012-11-25_19-32-46_301

I think omnivores and herbivores alike would enjoy this very smoky, spicy barbecue. It’s not going to fool you into thinking you are eating pork. but the flavor and texture might be close enough to the real thing to satisfy a craving. Warning: if you like your barbecue sweeter, back off on the spice just a bit. This one has a good amount of heat.

BBQ Jackfruit (Vegan “Pulled Pork BBQ”)

Resampled_2012-11-25_19-15-21_509

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1- 20 oz. can young green jackfruit in water, drained (or in brine, drained and rinsed)
  • 3 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1/4 cup water

Preparation:

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Add next six ingredients (cayenne through sea salt), stir, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add jackfruit and stir to coat. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. While jackfruit is cooking, mix together the remaining ingredients: ketchup, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, molasses and water. Add 1 tsp of vegetable oil. Stir to mix thoroughly and add to jackfruit. Bring to a simmer and cover.
  5. Cook over medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  6. Use forks to partially pull apart the fruit into strands and bite size pieces. Reduce heat to low and keep covered until ready to serve.

Creamy Vegan Cole Slaw

Resampled_2012-12-08_13-16-57_715

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry, shelled, unsalted, raw cashews
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground mustard
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1- 12 oz. package of rainbow slaw
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. In a food processor, grind the cashews into a meal, as finely chopped as possible.
  2. To the cashews, add dill and mustard and pulse until incorporated.
  3. Add water, olive oil, vinegar and maple syrup to the food processor and process until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture resembles a vinaigrette.
  4. Dump the rainbow slaw into a large bowl with the green onions and add dressing. Stir to coat all of the slaw with the dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to eight hours before serving.

Veggie Redux: Shrimp and Grits – Behind the Scenes!

You might have found me today through my guest post on Virginia is for Bloggers. If you’re new to Vegology, welcome! If you’re a regular here and you haven’t discovered VAis4Bloggers yet, you should check them out today! Here’s why.

Vegetarian “shrimp” and grits.

That’s right, my latest Veggie Redux takes on a lowcountry classic and makes it vegetarian-friendly. I don’t know if it tastes anything like the real deal, but I assure you that it does taste awesome. Any recipe that starts with an obscene amount of Old Bay seasoning usually does.

You can find the recipe over at the Virginia is for Bloggers site, but what you won’t find over there is the back story. The funny thing about the crab boil pictured above is that this method for making vegetarian “shrimp” did not make the final cut for my recipe for shrimp and grits. In case you haven’t read the post and recipe yet, SPOILER ALERT: the “shrimp” is actually cauliflower. I was inspired by Richmond Chef Kevin Roberts’ “poor man’s shrimp cocktail” which was featured in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine.

Kevin Roberts is the owner and Chef of The Black Sheep, which is one of my favorite Richmond restaurants. I used his recipe for fake shrimp cocktail when I was experimenting with this dish. I found the boiled cauliflower to taste remarkably similar to shrimp with a texture and flavor that would hold up well to cocktail sauce. The man is clever. You should serve this at your next party. However I understand that the shrimp in traditional shrimp and grits is pan-fried to a crispier texture, with a whole lot of spice. Roasting helped me achieve the texture and taste I was looking for.

This dish was a super hit at my house and I think Kyle will ask for this meal to show up on the dinner menu more often. Like I said before, I have no idea how close this is to the original, since I became a vegetarian before I had the chance to experience real shrimp and grits. However, I hope that creative chefs like Chef Roberts and adventurous eaters like yourselves would approve of this preparation. Enjoy!

Veggie Redux: Caldo Verde

I recently found myself in a very chilly situation.

To warm up, I made a hearty kale and potato soup. The first time I made this humble soup, I feared that it would seem too boring for my dinner companion’s taste. So I spiced it up with a fancy name and an intriguing story. I introduced the soup as “Caldo Verde, the National Soup of Portugal.”

Kyle said, “ooooooooh,” as I had anticipated. He was pretty excited to try the beloved stew of a foreign land. Hook, line, and sinker. So when I took my first slurp of this easy, hearty soup, I was surprised to find that the bowl didn’t need a worldly title to grab your attention. One taste was all it took for me to realize that caldo verde is special in its own right. Thanks to spicy, chewy soy chorizo from Twin Oaks and tender leafy kale from Victory Farms, this soup fills your stomach, warms your heart and excites your tastebuds.

This was a new product to me and I definitely recommend it. Found at Ellwood Thompsons.

I suggest you make a batch before winter gives way to spring and hearty soups play second fiddle to fresh grilled veggies. There is a time and place for everything, and right now, while there is still a little chill in the sunrise and sunset, is the time for thick potato soup with leafy greens and spicy soy-rizo. No smoke, no mirrors, just soup. Caldo. Caliente. Yum.

Caldo Verde (6 hearty servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds white or russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 pound soy chorizo, crumbled
  • 1 pound kale, shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add potatoes, stock, and crushed red pepper. Stir to combine and cook, covered, over medium heat for one hour.
  3. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to puree some of the potato into the broth. Do not blend until smooth; leave some small potato pieces in the broth for texture is desired.
  4. Return to heat, add soy chorizo and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add kale and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve hot with crusty bread and the flair of a world traveler who is insecure about the humble beginnings of her potato soup.

Lighten up a Classic Comfort Food: Mexi Mac & Cheese

Sometimes you get a craving for comfort food. You know what kind of food I am talking about – cheesy, creamy, fluffy, delicious, made-with-love-and-an-extra-helping-of-butter comfort food. Everyone has a different food that is the culinary equivalent of a warm embrace. Mine is cheesy mashed potatoes. Yours might be macaroni and cheese, or pork BBQ, or fried pickles. Whatever your comfort food is, it is probably not on the light side. These dishes tend to be indulgences that should be enjoyed in moderation. But I want to have them all the time! So the next best thing to a traditional comfort food is one that has been lightened up a bit so you don’t have to feel so guilty for eating the leftovers a few nights in a row.

For this lightened up version of Mac & Cheese, I used a recipe from Eating Well as  the base, then put my own spin on it. I like to call it Mexi Mac. Not to be confused with Sexy Sax, which is a completely different thing (NSFW?). I loved the addition of cottage cheese. The tart flavor played well with the sweet corn and mild heat of the green chilies. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!

Mexi Mac & Cheese (serves 4-6 as an entree and 6-8 as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup low-fat small curd cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups corn, canned (and drained) or frozen (and thawed)
  • 1 can ( 4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a 2 quart or 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, corn, and chilies.
  5. Cook pasta for 4-5 minutes, or until not quite tender (it will continue to cook during baking). Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well.
  6. Add dry mustard, salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Transfer to baking dish and sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.
  7. Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Have you ever made over a comfort food to be healthier? Now is a good time to do it, while you are sticking to your New Year Resolutions. I think a bowl of this could keep you from falling off the wagon for at least a few days. 😉

Discovering Daikon: Tofu Banh Mi Sandwiches

In my latest (mis)adventure, I took on this big beautiful root.

From the Japanese words for “big” (dai) and “root” (kon), daikon radish is an interesting ingredient. I had not used it before but I had eaten it in restaurants and seen it in the grocery store, so I decided to give it a try. I love carrots and parsnips, and daikon looks like a giant white one of those, so I thought it would be a big win.

Spoiler alert: It’s not really like a big white carrot. If you’re looking for a big white carrot, stick to the parsnip. Daikon is really more like a big stinky radish.

I decided to make some quick pickled carrot and daikon for banh mi sandwiches. I have wanted to do a veggie redux on these for awhile, so I figured I would kill two birds with one stone, er, root.

I used a few different recipes to develop my own twist on the vegetarian banh mi sandwich. In case you aren’t familiar with it, banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich consisting of grilled, fried or roasted meat and a variety of vegetables or condiments, on a thick crispy baguette. While the sandwich is available in many varieties in several different countries, most of the banh mi I have had have been very spicy. I set out to do a vegetarian version that would give the original a run for its money.

So, let’s get back to my not-so-secret ingredient: diakon. I washed and cut the daikon, in thick matchsticks for this recipe, and then had a taste. I always try to taste a new ingredient raw so that I can understand it better. The daikon was wet and crunchy like a crisp apple, and it had a bitter mustardy taste with a hint of bright spicy pepper. It reminded me of a very mild watered down horseradish. I did a little research, as I always do, and found that daikon is very low in calories and moderately high in vitamin C. From a nutrition standpoint, this vegetable is not at all bad for you, but isn’t incredibly good for you either. I consider it to be almost nutritionally neutral. So I pickled it, of course.

I also marinated and pan fried some tofu, and while the tofu cooked and the carrots and daikon chilled, I prepared the rest of my sandwich ingredients.

Cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeño.

Sriracha mayo.

All that was left to do was toast some bread and assemble the sandwiches. They turned out to be spicy, crunchy, and absolutely delicious. These have a great balance of texture and flavor, and I would love to serve them to guests sometime soon. My only word of warning is to watch the amount of pickled daikon you make. After a day or two in the refrigerator, that stuff gets pungent and it won’t be bad but you won’t want to go near it. I suppose that’s due to its cruciferous nature. Whatever it is, take note. You have been warned.

Vegetarian Banh Mi Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut carrot
  • 1 cup matchstick-cut daikon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sliced white onion
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 French bread sub rolls, or one large baguette, cut into four smaller loaves
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, matchstick-cut
  • 6 Tablespoons mayonnaise or vegannaise
  • 1 Tablespoon sriracha chili sauce

Preparation:

  1. Cut tofu crosswise into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Press tofu if you have not already done so, to squeeze out all of the water.
  2. Combine soy sauce and ginger in a square baking dish. Arrange tofu slices in a single layer in soy mixture. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning once.
  3. Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve. Add carrot, daikon, black pepper, and white onion; toss to combine. Let stand 30 minutes in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. Drain daikon mixture in a colander and pat dry.
  4. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Remove tofu from marinade; discard marinade. Pat tofu slices dry with paper towels. Add tofu slices to pan; sauté 4 minutes on each side or until crisp and golden.
  5. Preheat broiler. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Open halves, laying bread cut side up on a baking sheet. Broil 2 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. Combine mayo and sriracha in a small bowl. Spread mayo on one side of each loaf of bread.
  7. Place tofu slices on bottom half of bread; top with daikon mixture, cucumber, cilantro, and jalapeño slices. Top with other half of bread. Add more sriracha as needed.

Veggie Redux: Po’boys

We have a local restaurant that serves a few different kinds of spicy po’boys. On Monday nights, all of the po’boys are on special. Take your pick of shrimp, chicken, crawfish, oyster, alligator; you name it, they’ve got it. Pre-vegetarian-diet, Kyle and I loved to wander over on Monday nights, grab a table on the outdoor patio, and down a po’boy with a cold pint of beer.

In case you have never had a po’boy, here’s a little lesson for you. They are traditional sandwiches from Louisiana that feature a pile of fried seafood or meat, dressed with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and mustard, in between two slices of French bread. There are several different variations, but common to all good po’boys are the crusty bread and the crispy fish or meat.

Since embarking on our veggie journey three years ago, neither Kyle nor I has had a proper po’boy. Honestly I haven’t missed them, but apparently Kyle has. The other night while we were planning our meals for the week, he said “do you think we could do a po’boy with something like. . . cauliflower?”

And you thought I was the culinary brains of the family. The man is a genius!

The recipe is mine, but the inspiration was all Kyle. So here you have it, a vegetarian cauliflower po’boy. This isn’t one of those meals that will fool you into thinking it’s meat, but it might satisfy your craving for the real deal if you are trying to find a vegetarian or healthier alternative. Of course this would probably be more authentic fried, but then we wouldn’t be any closer to achieving our goal, would we?

Cauliflower Po’boys (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp minced ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large loaf of French bread or 4 sandwich loaves
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce (from chipotles in adobo)
  • 2 Tbsp vegannaise (or mayonnaise if you would like)

Admit it, that lineup is kind of impressive.

Preparation

  1. Fill a large saucepan 2/3 full with water. Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp curry powder and bring to a boil.
  2. Chop the head of cauliflower into florets and add to the boiling water. Boil uncovered for 2-3 minutes and then remove from heat, drain, and rinse cauliflower with ice cold water.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt and all of the spices. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat. Spread into a single layer on a greased rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.
  6. While the cauliflower bakes, combine adobo sauce and vegannaise in a small bowl. Spread one side of each sandwich with the chipotle “mayo.”
  7. Top the bottom half of the sandwich with roasted cauliflower. Top with tomato. Optional: add lettuce, onion, mustard, hot sauce, or any condiment you like.

We served this with a wedge salad topped with grape tomatoes, feta and TJ’s Goddess dressing.

In the name of getting your serving of veggies and in celebration of Mardi Gras, why not put this one on your menu for the week?

P.S. I’m baaaaaack! Sorry for the long hiatus, it’s been one hell of a start to 2011, and sometimes life gets between me and my laptop. :/