I mentioned in a previous recipe post that I had Jamaican heritage. I also have Puerto Rican heritage, and am a big fan of Latin cuisine as well. It occurred to me that I hadn’t made any dishes truly inspired by this cuisine, and all of a sudden I kind of went on a bit of a Latin Food kick because I was craving it. I bought a family size pack of sazon seasoning packets and started making dish after dish of delicious, flavorful Spanish food. The Caribbean is full of vegan cuisine — of course there are tons of fresh fruits and vegetables that grow in abundance in the tropical climates, but many dishes are rice based and often have other elements such as beans and plantains that accompany them, all of which are vegan and delicious. This particular dish has elements that you would find in all Caribbean islands, but as mentioned previously, is slightly inspired more so by the Spanish-speaking islands. The best part has to be the maduros, or fried sweet plantains. Plantains go through different stages. When they are green (not ripe) and fried, they are called tostones. Once they are yellow (ripe or over-ripe) they become sweet and when fried, they are called maduros. They are at their sweetest when they’re black and that’s a great time to use them for desserts. A fruit that can go from unsweet to sweet and be used in both savory and sweet dishes? Mother nature really put her foot into this one.
What You’ll Need:
- 1/2 block of one 12 oz. package of organic seitan (I used Pacific foods brand), sliced
- 1 16 oz. can of pinto beans, water drained with about 1/4 can of liquid*
- 1 yellow plantain
- A couple of jarred roasted red peppers
- About 1 1/2 teaspoons Himalayan Pink sea salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 packet of Goya sazon seasoning
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
What to Do:
- Slice the whole yellow plantain on the diagonal into about 1/2 inch pieces.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Once oil is hot, place plantain slices in skillet (be careful of oil splatter!).
- Fry slices on each side for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Make sure to watch them and turn accordingly so that they do not burn. You want the pieces to be golden brown as in the picture, not very dark or burnt (unless that is what you’re trying to achieve).
- Once they are golden brown, remove the plantains from the oil and place on a dish covered with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Sprinkle them with about 1/2 teaspoon of the Himalayan pink sea salt.
- Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once oil is hot, add seitan slices to skillet and sprinkle with Himalayan sea salt and black pepper on either side. Pan-fry slices on either side until golden brown, approximately 3-5 minutes. Remove seitan slices from skillet and set aside.
- Wipe the skillet clean and return to stove-top burner, this time over low heat. Add water drained pinto beans to skillet along with sazon seasoning. Mix seasoning into beans well and allow beans to heat up. Once they are warmed, remove from heat and transfer to a serving dish.
- Place seitan slices over beans and surround beans with plantain slices.
- Garnish with roasted red peppers. Serve as is or with rice to make the dish heartier.
* I often use a “water draining” technique with canned beans that involves draining them of the thick, viscose liquid that is already in the can, but not entirely. I open the can and use my hand to cover the top (so the beans don’t fall out) while I run water in and out of the can. you can used another method to cover the top but I find that using your hand works best. As the liquid already in the can is drained and you replace it with water, you create a thinner liquid that still has some of the “bean juice” flavor. I rinse then this way about 2-3 times, filling the can with as much water as I can until the beans start to overflow. Finally, I empty the water that is in the can but leave about an inch or two of water still in the can so that when I add them to a pan, there is some liquid available that is now a mixture of the thicker liquid originally in the can along with regular water — to help with the cooking process.
Date Posted on Instagram: 9/10/18
This bowl was so refreshing. I wasn’t sure how I wanted to use cauliflower rice for a raw recipe, but I knew I wanted to try something different so I decided to incorporate fruit into the mix. It was delicious, partially due to the mango, but also because of the chili-lime seasoning which has become one of my favorite seasoning blends. It’s a quick and simple dish with tons of flavor!
What You’ll Need:
- About 1 1/2 cups of cauliflower rice
- 1 mango, cut into slivers (or cubed)
- The juice of 1/2 of one lime
- 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
- 1 cup fresh baby spinach
- 3-4 tablespoons fresh cilantro
- 2-3 teaspoons chili-lime seasoning (I use the one from Trader Joe’s)
- **OPTIONAL**: 1 tablespoon olive oil
What to Do:
- In a medium-sized bowl, toss cauliflower rice, olive oil and chili-lime seasoning together.
- Squeeze lime juice into cauliflower rice mixture and toss again until well mixed.
- In a serving dish or bowl, make a bed of baby spinach. Place dressed cauliflower rice on top of spinach.
- Place salsa in the center of the cauliflower rice.
- Spread slivers (or cubes) of mango on top of rice.
- Garnish with cilantro. Serve and enjoy!
Date posted on Instagram: 7/18/18
One thing I wanted to try my hand at as an amateur chef was cooking with seasonal ingredients — not only is it cheaper, but it’s also a great way to expand your palette and try new foods because you’re forced to try new things at least 4 times a year. With this recipe, I tried to think outside of the box — I started tracking the seasonality of more unique foods and then thought about what I could make with them. The result? This ridiculous and amazingly tasty tofu and chilled salad dish. I included a coconut herb cheese in the salad to add even more of a warm-weather flavor to it. No lie, the tofu legit tasted like fried mozzarella, so if that’s something anyone misses from their dairy-eating days, then try this recipe ASAP!
What You’ll Need:
- 1/3 block of medium-firm organic tofu
- 1 can of fava beans, drained
- 1 pack of Field Roast Chao vegan slices – coconut herb with black pepper flavor
- 1 full stalk of fresh corn
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 1/4 cup of cilantro
- 3 tablespoons Trader Joe’s chili-lime seasoning
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- airtight container with lid (to marinate the tofu in)
What to Do:
Marinate the Tofu
- Press the tofu with a paper towel or cloth to remove a decent amount of water (the tofu doesn’t have to be fully “dry”).
- Cut the tofu block into 4 even slices.
- Place the slices in the container and put all 3 tablespoons of the chili-lime seasoning in the container a little at a time, covering the tofu pieces entirely on each side.
- Cover container with lid and place in fridge to marinate for at least an hour.
For the Salad
- Peel stalk of corn and clean.
- Turn a stove burner on medium heat and use a pair of metal tongs to hold corn stalk over heat to roast. Be careful not to leave the stalk in one position for too long; turn often, or when you hear a popping sound start– similar to fresh seeds that are turning into popcorn when cooked on a stove top.*
- Once entire stalk has darkened from roasting, on a cutting board hold stalk upright and slice all of the corn from the cob.
- In a large mixing bowl, place roasted corn and entire can of drained fava beans and cilantro.
- Slice lemon and lime in half and squeeze the juice from each into the bowl.
- Add rice vinegar.
- open entire pack of chao vegan slices**, and use a vegetable peeler to slice small slivers of the cheese block directly into the bowl. Add as much as you like but I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup worth of cheese slivers.
- Mix the salad together, cover, and place in the fridge to chill.
- Remove marinated tofu from fridge and leave out to become room temperature.
- Heat a skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Once oil is hot, add tofu pieces (careful of oil splatter!) and pan-fry for approximately 5-7 minutes on each side of each piece of tofu until a slightly hard and crispy crust forms on the outside (the tofu will still be soft inside).
- If desired, place tofu pieces on a dry cloth to release excess oil.
- Transfer tofu slices to serving dish.
- Transfer some of the salad to serving dish. Bon appetit!
* You can also roast the corn on the grill or on a grill plate that goes on the stove if you have one, but I found it quicker and easier to just do it directly over the stove top flame– just be careful!
** this method will likely ruin the pack from being used “by the slice” but you can use the rest of the cheese for something that doesn’t require slices!
Date posted on Instagram: 5/21/18