Charred Brussel Sprout and Carrot Salad with Raspberry Dressing

This was the last salad I made (and second to last that I posted) using seasonal winter veggies — specifically brussel sprouts and carrots. I wanted to make a salad that had a hearty feel and flavor to it but also still felt light in feel and flavor. My solution? Char some hearty veggies, but use a sweetly flavored, light dressing. Mission accomplished.

Charred Brussel Sprout Salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup spring mix greens
  • 1 cup of brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 1 medium-sized carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium avocado, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (link below to see the type I used!*)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, add brussel sprouts and carrots (be careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 8-9 minutes or until the sprouts  and carrots are mostly tender and get a crispy, charred coating on the outer layer. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, add spinach and spring mix.
  4. Add charred brussel sprouts and carrots to salad mix.
  5. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and raspberry vinegar and toss salad to cover in oil and vinegar dressing.
  6. Transfer salad to serving bowl and top with avocado cubes. Bon appetit!

 

 

* Alessi white balsamic vinegar, raspberry blush:

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 4/11/18

Pesto Brussel Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts are one of my “food baes”. They have such a unique flavor, but not only that– I’m also fascinated by their appearance. They’re like mini balls of cabbage– well they are literally mini balls of cabbage– sprouts are in the cabbage family. But they also just look like mini balls of some shrunken vegetable that surely had to be bigger at one point because of they density and layers, and were likely harvested in a ginormous form on some other planet…okay, I’m getting carried away. They are also another versatile veggie and versatility is key for anyone cooking on a budget. Here, I spruced up my spouts a bit using some sauce and spice.

Pesto Brussl Sprouts

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups brussel sprouts, sliced in half
  • 1 cup of Trader Joe’s kale, cashew and basil vegan pesto
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, add brussel sprouts (be careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 8-9 minutes or until the sprouts get a crispy coating on the outer layer.*
  3. Reduce heat and add pesto sauce.
  4. Stir and cover all sprouts in sauce and let simmer for about a minute.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
  6. Transfer sprouts to serving dish and sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bon appetit!

 

* Sprouts are one of the few items that I think actually taste better the more crispy or burnt they are! Try leaving them in for an even longer time– the flavor is enhanced with the crispy texture and coating (in my opinion).

 

Date posted on Instagram: 4/5/18

Crispy Korean BBQ “Beef” with Cauliflower Stir-fry

I never tried authentic Korean BBQ in my pre-vegan life; it was one of those things I always meant to try but never got around to actually trying. So when I found some Korean BBQ sauce at TJ’s, I had to get it. Could they actually bottle the dope flavors I had heard about? There was only one way to find out. I paired the protein with another first for me– cauliflower rice.

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ATTENTION: This recipe requires 24 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 bag of Gardein Szechuan Beefless Strips
  • 1 cup of cauliflower rice (I used Trader Joe’s cauliflower rice)
  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen broccoli florets
  • 1/2 medium-sized green pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 medium-sized red pepper, sliced
  • Approximately 1 cup of white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 of a small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 cup of Trader Joe’s Korean BBQ sauce
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat with 3 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, add the entire bag of beefless strips (be careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 7-8 minutes or until the strips are golden brown (follow instructions on bag). Do not use the sauce that comes in the bag per the instructions! We’re using the Korean BBQ sauce instead! Save the szechuan sauce for another yummy recipe :-).
  3. Once strips are golden brown, reduce heat to a low simmer and add Korean BBQ sauce.
  4. Stir strips to fully cover them in the sauce.
  5. Once covered, let simmer for about 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.
  6. Heat a skillet with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil o low-medium heat.
  7. Once hot, add red and green peppers and mushrooms and saute for about a minute.
  8. Add broccoli and continue to saute for another 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add cauliflower rice and stir. Let stir-fry saute for about 2 minutes, then add soy sauce.
  10. Reduce heat to low and continue to saute for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  11. Transfer cauliflower stir-fry to a serving dish.
  12. Spoon the Korean BBQ “beef” on top of stir-fry. Bon appetit!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 4/2/18

Tofu Tikka Masala

Indian food is definitely in my top three favorite cuisines. The flavors and spices are all amazing. My all-time favorite pre-vegan Indian dish was chicken tikka masala. Now that I’m vegan, all I had to do to still be able to enjoy this dish was replace the chicken with tofu! This is also another dish in which I used a longer marinating process to make sure the flavor impact was 100%!

Tofu Tikka Masala

ATTENTION: This recipe requires 24 hours of prep time! Please plan accordingly!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 block of firm organic tofu, sliced into cubes
  • 2 full leaves of kale, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ginger powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 1/2 cups of tikka masala sauce ( I used Target’s Simply Balanced brand tikka masala sauce)*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • container with airtight lid (to marinate the tofu in)

What to Do:

  1. Place cubed tofu in container. Add all spices (salt, ginger, cumin and curry powder) inside container and cover tofu pieces with spice mixture, making sure all pieces are fully covered.
  2. Cover container with lid and place in fridge to marinate for 24 hours.
  3. After 24 hours, remove marinated tofu from fridge and set aside to become room temperature whenever you’re ready to make the recipe.
  4. Prepare rice in a small saucepan (boil water, add rice, stir and bring to a boil again, turn heat to a low simmer, cover and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes or so– use approximately 1 3/4 cup of water for every one cup of rice). Set aside.
  5. Heat a medium-sized skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoon of olive oil.
  6. Once oil is hot, add marinated tofu pieces and pan-fry for approximately 7-8 minutes, or until tofu pieces have a golden brown crisp to them.
  7. Lower heat to a simmer and add tikka masala sauce and chopped kale to skillet.
  8. Simmer until kale becomes tender and sauce heats up fully.
  9. Transfer rice to a serving dish.
  10. Transfer tofu tikka masala on top of rice. Bon appetit!

 

* I also have a quick recipe for a homemade tikka masala sauce from my soup recipe!

Date posted on Instagram: 3/28/18

Seared Tofu “chicken” with Daikon Purée and Radish Variation

Here’s another dish I recreated as part of my restaurant menu challenge — this is the a recreation of the chicken breast dish that was being served this past winter.

As a reminder, while working there, I’ve challenged myself to try to “veganize” some of the dishes on the menu — this is my second attempt. You can follow the challenge on my Instagram page — it’s under the hashtag #veganclocktowerchallenge!

Clocktower Winter Chicken Breast Dish

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/3 of a a block of firm organic tofu (do not cut the slice up, leave it as one whole rectangular slice, as in the picture)
  • I small daikon
  • Approximately 1 cup of small cherry belle radishes
  • 3 tablespoons essential seasoning blend*
  • 2-3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
  • container with airtight lid (to marinate the tofu in)
  • Cast-iron skillet**

 

What to Do:

Prep Work:

  1. Place tofu block in container and sprinkle with seasoning blend. Make sure all of the block is fully covered on both sides. Put lid on and place container in fridge to marinate, approximately 1 hour.
  2. Slice whole daikon in half lengthwise. Utilize the upper part (that has the stem      and leaves) for the radish variation in the next step. Set aside the lower part.
  3. Slice the daikon into pieces lengthwise and width-wise — include some pieces that have the stem in it to add variation to the dish (as in the picture). Include some other variations of slices as well, such as whole discs and hollowed discs (as in the picture, or be creative and create your own unique variation!)
  4. Slice cherry belle radishes in half.
  5. While tofu is marinating, you can begin to prepare the puree.

 

Daikon Puree:

  1. Slice the remaining half of the daikon into pieces.
  2. Boil approximately 2 cups of water in a saucepan.
  3. Add daikon pieces to boiling water and boil for about 7-8 minutes or until all pieces are fork tender.
  4. Once daikon is soft, drain pieces and place in food processor or blender.
  5. Heat vegetable broth in the microwave or on the stovetop until warm (but not          scolding hot because you will be adding it to the blender/food processor).
  6. Add 2-3 teaspoons of salt and 1/4 cup of coconut milk to blender/ food processor.
  7. Pulse blend the daikon until smooth.
  8. If necessary, add the warmed vegetable broth to the puree in small amounts to thin it out, and pulse blend again after each addition of broth, until the entire 1/4 cup is used. You want the puree to be the consistency of smooth baby food.*** Set puree aside.

 

Radish Variation:

  1.  In a skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on low heat.
  2. Once hot, add daikon and cherry belle radish slices.
  3. Saute, stirring often so that daikon and radish do not burn or brown. (The additional oil, the low heat and the stirring are all for the purpose of helping the radishes to not burn or brown—you want them to become tender but not browned or charred like in other recipes.)
  4. Continue to saute for approximately 10 minutes (continuing to stir frequently) or until radish and daikon are tender. Remove from heat.

 

Tofu “chicken”:

  1. After an hour, remove marinated tofu from fridge and let it become room temperature.
  2. Heat cast-iron skillet on high heat with oil 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  3. Let the cast-iron skillet get hot– to test the skillet, place a drop of water with your finger into the oil after a few minutes. If the oil sizzles and pops a little (be careful of oil splatter!), the skillet is ready.
  4. Place the tofu “chicken” piece flat in the center of the skillet (again, be careful of splatter!) and let it sear for approximately 5-6 minutes. Do not turn, move or flip the tofu as it sears– let it get a nice, crispy coating and caramelize.
  5. Move the pan a bit and if the tofu piece slides then it is ready to be flipped.
  6. If all of the oil has soaked up, lift the tofu with a spatula and add about 1/2 a tablespoon of oil to the pan (leave it on high heat. Wait about 45 second to a minute after adding the additional oil before placing the tofu back in the pan) and place tofu back in skillet on the opposite side that has not been seared yet.
  7. Sear for another 5-6 minutes.
  8. Once again, test readiness by sliding the pan– if tofu piece slides, then the sear is complete.
  9. The tofu should have a golden brown crispness to it and the seasoning should have caramelized a bit (as in the picture).

 

  • Spoon some of the puree onto serving dish.
  • Place seared tofu next to puree.
  • Place sautéed radish variation on top of puree. Bon appetit!**

 

* Essential seasoning blend can be found on the recipes page.

** A cast-iron skillet is best for searing. You can definitely use a non-stick skillet, especially since this recipe is using tofu and not beef, but cast-iron still gives the best flavor and will probably help seal the flavor of the spices in better.

*** My puree came out a little grainy; if you look closely, you can see.  To avoid this, make sure that you pulse blend the daikon and stop the blending a few times to spoon any chunky pieces off the sides and bottom. Keep blending until completely smooth. This was my first attempt at a puree so that’s my excuse, lol.

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 3/26/18

Tangy Seitan and Chickpea Salad

Chickpeas are delicious and they’re also a great source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. I love adding them to salads, but they are such a versatile legume that you can do so much with them in any meal– I’ve even made meatballs with them! Here, I created a tangy salad using some sauteed chickpeas along with seitan and some other goodies. Seitan is also a protein dream when it comes to vegan fare, so this salad is pretty much a great post-workout meal or just great when you want to feel healthy and light but also full and satisfied!

Tangy Chickpea and Seitan Salad

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 2 cups of baby spinach, preferably organic (I use Earthbound brand organic spinach)
  • 1 cup of Upton Natural’s original seitan in chunks (or another brand of seitan that you prefer)
  • 1/2 can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup of pickled banana peppers with juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Prepare rice in a small saucepan (boil water, add rice, stir and bring to a boil again, turn heat to a low simmer, cover and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes or so– use approximately 1 3/4 cup of water for every one cup of rice). Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium-sized skillet on low-medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Once oil is hot, add chickpeas and saute for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add seitan chunks and continue to saute for another 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add onion and saute for another 2 minutes.
  6. Turn heat to medium and cook all items for about 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously so as not to burn the ingredients but let them get a golden brown crisp to them.
  7. Once onions are translucent and have caramelized a bit, remove mixture from heat.
  8. In a large bowl, add spinach, cooked rice, banana peppers with juice and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Gently mix all ingredients well.
  11. Transfer salad to a serving bowl.
  12. Top off salad with some of the seitan and chickpea mixture.
  13. Add a dressing if desired, but the olive oil and banana pepper vinegar dressing is amazing to me! Bon appetit!

 

Date posted on Instagram: 3/22/18

Roast-Beef Style Mushroom Melt

Sandwiches never get old. You can make them light or full-on loaded up with all the goods. You can make them sweet or savory. They’re basically one of the best food building-blocks around. Here, I made a classic sandwich with a little bit of a sauteed veggie twist.

Roast Meat and Mushroom Melt

 

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 slices of your favorite bread (I used sourdough)
  • 6 slices of Tofurky roast-beef style deli slices
  • 3 slices of Follow your Heart smoked gouda-style slices
  • 2 full leaves of kale, sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup white button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 small salad tomato, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil

 

What to Do:

  1. Heat a medium-sized skillet on low-medium heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  2. Once oil is hot, mushrooms and saute for approximately 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add salt and garlic and stir.
  4. Once mushrooms are becoming tender, add kale.
  5. Saute until both mushrooms and kale are completely tender.
  6. Toast bread and place on serving dish.
  7. Place tomato slices on bread.
  8. Place kale/mushroom mix on top of tomato.
  9. Place gouda-style slices on top of kale/mushroom mix.
  10. Return skillet to heat and place deli slices in skillet.
  11. Heat deli slices for about 2 minutes on each side.
  12. Transfer slices to second piece of bread.
  13. Close sandwich; slice. Bon appetit!

 

 

Date posted on Instagram: 3/21/18