Glossy garlic green beans

In a moment of severe stress many months ago, I ordered a pimento cheese sandwich from Black Mountain Bistro. It had a thick slice of tomato and lettuce on toasted wheat, and I felt so deeply guilty for the splurge, I ordered garlic green beans instead of the French fries I desperately wanted.  The green beans were bright green, tender, salty and I could nearly see my reflection in all of the olive oil. 

This summer our garden has provided dozens (and dozens!) of pounds of beautiful green beans. A second round were planted several weeks and once ahead we are swimming in them! This recipe is so popular with the kids that is the ONLY way I have prepared them all summer. Below you will see this recipe, served along side a vegan hotdog, coleslaw and boiled new potatoes.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of fresh green beans, with the ends trimmed
  • 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, minced (you make sub garlic powder if you do not have fresh garlic available)
  • 1 teaspoons of salt (or more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups of water (at least)

Directions

  • Gently heat 4-6 table spoons of olive oil, minced garlic and salt until fragrant – do not brown the garlic
  • Add water and increase to a med-high heat and add the green beans
  • Cook the green beans until tender, stirring regularly (about ten minutes), add more water if the beans are not as tender as you’d like
  • When the water is nearly cooked out, add the rest of the olive and reduce to low-medium heat, be careful to not burn the garlic as the water begins to evaporate.
  • Allow the water to evaporate, and gently stir the green beans coating them in garlic infused olive oil – they will very tender, smell like heaven and shine like a mirror.

Vegan Coleslaw Two Ways

Summer treats us to bright colors, abundant gardens, and simple  pleasures – like coleslaw. For most of my life I believed coleslaw to be the shredded cabbage with a mayo based dressing and slaw to the the familiar diced into fine confetti cabbage with an orange and pink vinegar based dressing.  Coleslaw was a side a cookouts and potlucks, whereas slaw was found next to the fried okra on your barbecue plate, on top of your barbecue sandwich and a top a hotdog.  I also nearly an adult when I realized barbecue wasn’t the monolith of Lexington-style barbecue – smoked, chopped pork that I believed it to be.  Debating the merits of vinegar based against tomato or mustard based barbecue sauce is a conversation we Southerner’s will gladly take up, even vegan ones!

Traditional vinegar based slaw is vegan and deserves to share the spotlight with the more famous picnic style coleslaw. This recipe is Piedmont-style slaw I so fondly remember, especially from Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, NC. Stamey’s published the recipe many years ago, and it’s enough to share with your neighbors. A reduced everything by half for a family cookout – reduction is noted in parenthesis.

Ingredients

  • 6 (3) medium heads cabbage (about 12 1/2 pounds), finely chopped/diced — truly think of confetti!
  • 2 3/4 ( 1 1/3) cup granulated sugar 
  • 3 1/2 (1 3/4) tablespoon salt 
  • 4 (2)teaspoons ground black pepper 
  • 1/2 (1/4)teaspoon ground red pepper 
  • 1 quart (2 cups) ketchup, such as Heinz 
  • 1 cup (1/2 cup) apple cider vinegar 

Directions

  1. Mix together the cabbage, sugar, salt, black pepper and red pepper.
  2. Add the ketchup and vinegar and mix well.
  3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

If you’re not feeling spicy, the shredded mayo can be ready to go in no time. Always short on time, I reach for the organic slaw mix at the grocery store with purple and green cabbage and carrots.

Super easy and kid approved!

Ingredients

  • 1, 14 ounce package of organic coleslaw mix (purple and green cabbage)
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I prefer to start with 1/4 of a cup, and see how I feel about it before going all in with the entire half cup)
  • 1 tablespoons sugar (you can go to 2 tablespoons if you prefer!)
  • 1 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Thoroughly mix cabbage and carrot mix with all ingredients
  2. Chill for at least two hours (and up to overnight) before serving

Vegan Taco Filling

I originally shared this recipe two years ago when my daughter was just a wee thing.

My daughter is a history buff. If left to her own devices she often creates a world around her that is the 1880s, a fantasy which is charming (and socially acceptable) because she is only eight. When she or little brother sense I am busy in the kitchen they are inspired to ask me to do one thousand things, including play with them. 

On one such occasion this summer, while I was prepping burrito makings, I pretended to add a log to my new GE Profile range. When this little prairie child asked what I was cooking, I said deer meat (showing my non-meat eating habits by not thinking to call it venison). My little plant eater looked at me like I was insane for a moment before giggling and falling back into her make-believe world. And that is how my taco tofu became known as deer meat. This is a flexible taco or burrito filling that will are texture and flavor to your meal and probably be acceptable to your meat-eating guests as well. 

I prefer it a million times over faux meats because I can better control the flavor, it is less processed and it is super cheap. One package of organic extra firm tofu rarely costs more than $1.79 at Whole Foods or any other grocery store I visit regularly.

When you cook the tofu, the water will be reduced and the spices and flavors will intensify. Remember this when you are seasoning to taste. If you need to multitask or working to reduce calories from fat, skip cooking on the stove and put it right into the oven, for approximately 40 minutes.

Ingredients 

  • One pound of extra firm tofu 
  • 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin 
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1  teaspoon smoked paprika 
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you’d like to punch up the heat!)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil/neutral high heat oil (and 2-3 more to cook)

Instructions

Prep Work Slice the tofu into pieces about 1×1 inch and set aside on a dish towel for about an hour before you’re ready to cook. The longer you let it site, the faster it will be to cook.

Roughly chop the tofu into irregular, smaller pieces.

Heat canola oil on medium heat, and add the tofu. Stir the tofu around to allow it to brown evenly and encourage moisture to evaporate. When the tofu has turned a light golden color add remaining canola oil, spices, soy sauce and nutritional yeast. Turn down the heat and cook slowly as the tofu continues to brown. If the heat is too high you will burn the oil and the spices. I will add a little more oil as it continues to cook, and then the heat back up just before it is ready to serve, adding a little extra crisp. Salt and fat make this taco filling hit all the right notes, so don’t be shy with your seasoning.

Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on Pexels.com

How to build a vegan food bowl

Grain bowl, Buddha bowl, harvest bowl, burrito bowl, big ass salad — or the perfectly fine and broadly used — food bowl.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Pexels.com

I was introduced to the term “food bowl” by my brother-in-law. He was chopping veggies in the kitchen while we were on vacation, resulting in a family favorite, gado-gado. I am not a big fan of the term “food bowl” – probably because it makes me think of a dog bowl. While the simple and descriptive name leaves something to be desired, a well built-food bowl does not.

A bowl is cozy and informal.  As a simple vessel they make us happy. When your create a successful good bowl, you bring together complementary flavors in one space, mixing and matching each bite. The supported sides allowing a particular architecture a plate simply doesn’t provide.  Food bowls are great for those of you overachievers out there who manage to food prep during the weekend. Without making a major commitment to a menu, you can slice and dice your a variety of veggies which makes creating your food bowl easier during the week.

An aside…I haven’t been able to bring myself to make a smoothie bowl. Yes, the colors are beautiful and I’m sure they are also delicious, but for me it’s entirely impractical. I make a smoothie so I can feed myself with one hand while accomplishing some other task like driving or checking email at the office. I have no extra time for such luxury as breakfast food bowl.

A satisfying food bowel (for lunch or dinner)  takes simple ingredients and balances flavors, textures and livens them with small amounts of flavor-enhancing goodies, like a slice of lime or drizzle of a nice balsamic vinegar to tie it all together.

I have had only two food bowl fails, both were simply too much of a good thing — carbs.  Thanksgiving leftovers and a southern veggie bowl that was poorly planned. The textures and flavor profiles were too similar, resulting in a heaping bowl of…..mush.

My kids aren’t into spicy food or even strong flavors, but I am. One reason I so enjoy making food bowls is the ability for us to build exactly what we want, and I am spared from another boring dinner and from their complaints.

Some of my favorite combinations (this week) are: Rice and romaine base + “ground beef” style tofu + avocado slices + pickled jalapenos and mangoes + lime juice and salsa

My kids, who seem uninterested in flavor,  eat a version of it like this: Rice + refried black beans + guacamole + lettuce + tortilla on the side

Before you begin building a bowl choose a flavor profile.  Are you in the mood of Thai? Seasonal garden fare? Tex-mex? Japanese? Italian? Mediterranean?

Base: Soba noodles, bow-tie pasta, quinoa, rice, chopped kale, crispy romaine lettuce, pearled couscous, millet, barley…. Or mix and match.  Note: To effort to keep my calories in check and eat more greens, half of my base is almost always romaine lettuce, lightly sauteed kale, or broccoli. These work with basically any flavor I’m in the mood for.

Protein : Chickpeas, black beans, tofu, tempeh, veggie burner of your choice, favorite meat substitute (I’m not a super fan), portobello mushrooms

Toppings: Cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, green peas, sugar peas, roasted broccoli, chickpeas, sprouts, steamed green beans, roasted okra, diced/roasted sweet potato, steamed broccoli, all the veggies. All of them.

Goodies: Matchstick carrots, sprouts, pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts, maderin oranges, pickled red onions, mangoes

Extra flavor: Squeeze of lime juice, balsamic reduction, pico de gallo, salsa, thai chilis, salad dressing, shot of soy sauce, homemade Chinese garlic sauce.

No Bake Peanut Butter Energy Balls

Without proper planning my kids begin to wilt around 3:00pm. Attitudes flare. Tantrums interrupt an otherwise peaceful day. Tears are triggered by the smallest offense. With enough water and a snacks this drama can generally be avoided or can help them perk up, like your favorite fancy houseplant after a long vacation.

The secret to preventing (or at least curbing) the mid-afternoon meltdown are energy balls. After years of buying “energy chunks” from the bulk section, I decided to start making my own. The amount of oats needed is going to vary based on your peanut butter. You will need to add more if it is thinner or has more oil.  You can adjust the ratio of peanut butter, oats and dates at the end. If you like chocolate, add them to the food processor. My son is not a chocolate fan, so my daughter delights in adding chips to her half once they have been rolled.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add all dry ingredients to the food processor, and blitz until small/dusty.
  • Add peanut butter and honey
  • Run food processor until dry ingredients are well incorporated
  • The dough should be thick and be easily shaped, add additional oats/dates/peanut butter to achieve the right consistency. 
  • Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough and roll into a ball
  • Place on a cookie sheet and pop in the freezer for 1-2 hours
  • Store in fridge for up to a week