Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Faux Pho: Vegetarian Pho


And we’re back. (the royal we, that is, since you have little to do with these posts.) This is part two of our pan-Asian feast, and you should still be hungry after the TVP egg rolls, considering they were over a month ago.

Below is my recipe for faux pho, or vegetarian/ vegan pho with seitan. If you knew me in the last year before my veggie turn, you know that I wanted to inject pho directly into my veins; I used it to celebrate, to mourn, to energize, to relax, to turn on, and turn off. I used to live in a town outside of DC and frequented a place—Pho 75—that looked like a shitty high school cafeteria had a baby with a scene from Apocalypse Now. But they served a huge, cheap, steaming bowl of pho replete with Sriracha and tripe. Wondrous offal aside, the staple beef broth makes pho a no-no, so I had to adapt. Welcome to the adaptation, kids.

And please no asshats who say, “This isn’t pho because it isn’t beef based,” “The noodles/ sprouts aren’t correct,” or any other frivolous critiques. Shut up and, like I say in my about this veg virgin, take my recipe and do with it as your tongue sees fit.

Ingredients for the broth:

7 – 8 cups vegetable broth

1 medium onion, quartered

1-inch hunk of ginger, skinned and sliced

8+ garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbs. ground anise

3 tbs. ground clove

1 tsp. cinnamon

4 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. cayenne pepper

1 tbs. olive or sesame oil

Ingredients for everything else:

1 lb. buckwheat soba noodles (or rice noodles)

8 – 16 oz. diced seitan, depending on your protein concerns (tofu also works; just double the amount)

7 scallions, thinly sliced

2 big handfuls of bean sprouts (I used the skinny ones, but the fat are excellent too.)

2 big handfuls of basil leaves, whole

1 – 2 limes, cut into wedges (or a really convenient bottle of lime juice)

Sriracha

hoisin (although I don’t really use hoisin)

Makes 4-6 servings.

To make the broth, heat the broth over a medium to medium-high heat. Use a big ass pot, because it’s a group swim by the end of the recipe. Char—but do not burn!—the onion, ginger, and garlic in the oil. After the broth begins to steam, dump in all of other ingredients for the broth, veggies included. Slowly bring the broth to a boil, drop the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain the broth, and keep the solids if you’re feeling economical. For the faux pho, though, you’ll only need the liquid.

To make the soup, cook the noodles appropriately (or inappropriately, if it doesn’t get too messy and weird). Strain. When you’re getting close to serving time, add the seitan to the hot broth to heat it through. Divide the noodles into the desired portions and portion out the seitan with a slotted spoon. Next, cover the noodles with your beefy non-beef broth. Serve with the basil, sprouts, lime (juice), Sriracha, and hoisin. This is an interactive meal, so everyone can dress as desired.

Enjoy, bitches. Make sure to keep chopsticks, a big-ass spoon, and sweat napkin handy throughout.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4.734. Everyone I served this to loved it, from vegetarians to dedicated and stubborn omnivores, two of who aren’t even big fans of standard pho. The dish was just as comforting, tasty, contingently spicy, and satisfying as I remember. It was at my kitchen table instead of a dive pho place with Vietnamese on the menu, but I found some familiar escape in my steaming bowl of noodles. I will be honest about something: I don’t exactly remember what beef broth tastes like; so while I stand by mine as a good approximation—especially of pho broth—I’m not willing to say it will make you forget about bovine liquid (although the phrase bovine liquid might).

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Shroomin’ Risotto


The VV has taken some time off since his last post and, to be honest, you’re lucky you’re getting one at all. The hardware on my computer is freaking out and typing is a Huge Pain in the Ass, below is a labor of love. But it may be a good thing that my keyboard’s messed up because today is all about the risotto, and salivating on my computer probably won’t do any more damage.

Oh, and the first thing you need to know: risotto is NOT difficult. It just sounds highfalutin and looks fancy. It does require a lot of attention, though, so break out a bottle of wine and kick it by the stovetop. (Veg Virgin confession: I got a solid buzz on the last time I made this. I am the furthest thing from a sommelier—in fact, I consulted a tall wino on what do drink who was subsequently rewarded with this meal—but I recommend Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris; basically, a hearty red.)

Ingredients*:

2 cups Arborio rice (one of my few concessions away from whole grains, but a necessary one)

6+ tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

8 cups vegetable stock (9 if you like the risotto a bit softer and creamier), heated

or 4 cups mushroom stock, the rest vegetable stock, mixed & heated

10oz. mix of cremini, oyster, and shiitake mushrooms, sliced (baby portobellos would probably be excellent but, again, I’m allergic)

Makes 4-5 huge, meal-size servings

*This recipe makes a lot; so if you want to do it as a side dish, just halve the ingredients.

First, if you have dried mushrooms, rehydrate them according to the directions on the package. The leftover liquid, which should be about 4 cups, is your mushroom stock. Mix this with the 4-5 cups of vegetable stock. Otherwise, just use the vegetable stock. (I think I prefer this latter version, for what it’s worth.) Also, they’re kind of pricey, but if you can afford it, definitely exchange the cremini for porcini, which offer a much deeper, fuller, darker flavor of superness.  Regardless, make sure the stock is heated; if you use cold stock with risotto, the dish won’t come out right. Just keep it over a low to medium-low heat; and do not let it come to a boil: you don’t want it to reduce.

Next, take half the oil and coat the bottom of a pan over medium heat. Cook the onions until translucent—about 3 minutes. Add the Arborio rice, which you pretty much must use, and mushrooms. If you’re using fresh, not rehydrated, shrooms, then add them in now; otherwise, wait until the end. Add the rest of the oil and stir the whole mess around, making sure to get the rice covered in the oil. Now add half of the heated stock and wait for it to almost completely absorb, stirring regularly. As it continues to absorb, pour in one or two ladlefuls (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup at a time) and STIR. The mix will probably come to a slow, rolling boil, which is fine; if it goes much higher, drop the heat a bit.

You’re just going to keep ladling and stirring. Once you see that there are about 2 cups of stock left-to-be-ladled, start tasting your rice. It’ll still be crunchy at this point, but it’s good to get an idea of how quickly it absorbs the liquid from here and you’ll be able to pull the rice off the burner when you have it at the consistency you like.

In the end, you’ll have a gooey, supple, mushroomy plate of boom. I recommend serving with Veggie Grated Topping for full on Italian effect.

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 4. You have everything you could want in a risotto: creaminess; heartiness; warmth; gustatory satisfaction. Remember the aforementioned tall wino? She said the risotto was “awesome.” All that aside, this dish may take some omnivores by surprise since risottos, at least in my experience, use chicken stock, and may have seafood in them (any pescatorians here?). If you end up making this risotto and someone complains, just guilt trip the hell out of them by fluffing ‘how much work went into this meal, which you slaved over, and you’re just trying to be healthy and you wanted to mix up the weekly menu and, besides, you hear the Veg Virgin is really hot’—you know, that card.

How to Roast Peppers


It’s hard to beat the flavor of roasted peppers. They add a great dimension to salads, sandwiches, chili, breakfast cereals, etc. Plus, adding the words ‘Roasted Pepper’ to any recipe makes it sound like it has a higher skill level. Just a heads-up, though: this flavor can be overwhelming. While tooling around with my Baller-Ass Chili, I used some roasted poblano peppers and it was all I could taste. So, if you want to use roasted peppers, make sure to build the dish around this ingredient or use a very small amount.

The best part about roasted peppers: easy as hell to make. So easy, there’s no need to EVER buy them in a jar. If you own a grill, oven, or gas stove, you can save some money (and if you don’t own these things, what the hell are you doing on my blog?). My favorite method is the gas stove, but the others work just as well—albeit a little slower.

First of all, rub the pepper with oil

Second:

For a grill: Place over medium-high to high heat. Rotate and char on all sides.

For an oven: Place under the broiler on high as close to the heating unit as you can get while still avoiding direct contact. Rotate and char on all sides.

For a gas stove: Place directly over a high flame. Rotate and char on all sides.

It’s important to not let the pepper sit on the heat too long after it blackens; you just want to char the skin, not cook the pepper all the way through.

Once all sides are blackened, place the pepper into a container and cover. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Make sure to get cover the pepper as quickly as possible—you want the heat to steam it so the skin can peel right off. When the time is up, just use your hands and peel the skin. I don’t recommend leaving it on—it tastes like straight burn, not too good. You can go over to my Baked Chili Rellenos recipe to see these roasted poblanos put into action.

Welcome to flavor country.

Baller-Ass Chili


The finished product, which tastes better than it looks.

So it’s starting to get colder—I have the hood up on my hoodie and high basketball socks on right now—and it’s time to eat some chili. Think about it: it’s a mix of awesome nutrition, flavor, and ease—a trifecta for this veg virgin. And the meal is just as satisfying without meat, especially when you add mushrooms. I use normal white button mushrooms, but only because I’m allergic to portobellos, which I imagine would be awesome in here. Just make sure to have at least an hour once you throw all of the ingredients into the pot; I’d hate to be the reason your kitchen burns down because you weren’t minding the stove. Plus, burned kitchen almost always means burned chili.

Ingredients:

3 – 15.5oz. cans of Nature’s Promise beans (I like black, light kidney, and dark kidney)*

1 – 14.5oz. can of stewed tomatoes*

1 – 15.25oz. can of whole kernel corn*

1 box mushrooms, sliced

3 peppers, red and orange, diced (about 1/2” to 1”)

1 jalapeño pepper, diced

1 tbs. cilantro

1 tbs. crushed red pepper flakes

1 tbs. cayenne pepper

1-2 tbs. garlic salt

1 tbs. cumin

1 tsp. paprika

1 tbs. black pepper

Makes 4-6 servings.

*A quick note about the canned goods: I always look for “low sodium” and “no salt added” varieties because, well, canned stuff is a salt bomb. I hear you can drain and rinse the canned stuff to drastically reduce sodium content, but for chili I keep the liquid (it gives flavor and acts as a thickener) and, for stuff like tomatoes, rinsing can over saturate the food. So, in short, go for low sodium options. I like Nature’s Promise (only at Giant food stores) for the beans. Most major brands have low sodium options. Buy them.

Now for the steps, which couldn’t be easier. Cover the bottom of a large pot with oil and heat it over medium-high heat. I recommend putting a piece of a pepper at the bottom and waiting for it to sizzle, which means the oil is ready. When that sizzle happens, add the peppers, mushrooms, and about 1/4 to 1/3 of each of all of the spices. Cover and stir until the peppers are somewhat soft and the mushrooms are brown. Make sure to get the seasonings around as much as you can.

Once all that is softened, everyone else into the pool: add the beans, tomatoes, corn, and the remainder of the spices. Stir it all up and jack the heat up to high until it all boils, then drop the heat to a simmer or low (you want somewhere at or below a slow, rolling boil with occasional bubbling) and leave uncovered. Let the whole thing sit over the low hear, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for at least an hour—more if you have the time. You want the liquid to reduce and flavors to concentrate, so the process takes time—but you’re only stirring every 10 minutes, so don’t complain.

To be honest, the chili comes out somewhat soupy, so feel free to simmer it longer or drain the corn before you add it (the less liquid means more stirring, so all ingredients are submerged for equal amounts of time). I say drain the corn because it’s a stronger flavor than the tomatoes and the thick liquid from the beans helps to thicken up the chili—you know, the whole point of draining the corn in the first place. Also, feel free to add some brown rice or, the real winner, place Jiffy cornbread at the bottom of the bowl. Hell, do the cornbread even if the chili comes out like paste because it’s awesome (I just didn’t have time to do it this time around). Oh, and feel free to add sour cream (disgusting, you pervert) and/ or fat-free or low-fat cheddar cheese right after you spoon it into your bowl for a creamy and gooey treat (which is also, incidentally, what she said). My next chili recipe will probably have a guacamole add-on option (not what she said, unless she cooks).

Non-Veg Friendly Factor: 3.5. OK, so I know I hyped this chili because of the mushrooms took place of the meat but, truth be told, some omnivores are unable to think “chili” and not mean ‘meat’—perfectly understandable, considering chili was originally all-meat and the purest varieties have big pieces of cubed beef. Nonetheless, this veg option is great as a hearty side or an occasional dinner (especially with cheap and easy Jiffy cornbread!) when dealing with meat eaters.