Vegan Dumplings

Hello my lovely dumpling! How are you today?

Do you remember it? Do you remember people used to use┬áthe word “dumpling” as a term of endearment? It made perfect sense, the tender fatness, the round cuteness, sweet or salty or spicy. All of these describe both dumplings and our special loved ones too! Let’s bring it back, shall we?

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First, the dumplings themselves, the little treat-filled pouches of dough. I have a vegan version here you just might enjoy with your dinner or as an appetizer. These particular dumplings, with quinoa and Textured Vegetable Protein, are perfect protein packed purses. Enjoy them with dipping sauce.

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(Now that I think of it, “dipping sauce” might also make a good term of endearment.)

Vegan Dumplings

(Serves 8)

Ingredients:

One-half small white onion, roughly chopped
One garlic clove, smashed
One and one-half cups roughly chopped green cabbage
One-half cup Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)*
One-half cup cooked quinoa
One-half cup roughly chopped carrots
Two tablespoons sesame oil
Salt to taste
One tablespoon soy sauce
Two tablespoons chopped cilantro
Abut thirty square dumpling wrappers (or wonton wrappers)

Instructions:

1. Rehydrate the TVP according to package directions.

1. Process the onion, garlic, carrots and cabbage together in a food processor until finely chopped.

2. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet and add the cabbage mixture with salt to taste. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about five or six minutes. Stir frequently.

3. To the skillet, add the rehydrated TVP, the quinoa and the cilantro and cook until everything is heated through, two or three more minutes.

4. Turn off the heat and add the soy sauce. Let the mixture come to room temperature.

5. Lay a few dumpling wrappers on a flat, dry surface and put one tablespoon of filling mixture in the middle of each wrapper. Dip your index finger in a little bowl of water and use it to “glue” the edges of each wrapper. Bring all four corners up and together to form a “purse.” Squeeze edges together until all seams are sealed.

6. Using a bamboo steamer set over simmering heat, steam the dumplings for about 4 minutes. Work in batches. If you do not have a steamer, you may coat a nonstick skillet with a little oil over medium-high heat. Cook the dumplings until they are golden brown on the bottom. Then add one-half cup water to the pan to create steam. Put a lid on the skillet and let the dumplings steam until the wrappers are totally soft, about two minutes.

7. Serve dumplings with dipping sauce.

*You may substitute crumbled tofu.

Dipping Sauce:

Mix together three tablespoons soy sauce, two tablespoons water, one tablespoon lemon juice and one teaspoon sesame oil.

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And now, my little dipping sauce, enjoy your day!

(This recipe was inspired by a veggie dumplings recipe from It’s All Good, a cookbook by Gwyneth Paltrow.)

Roasted Eggplant, Spinach and Mushroom Muffuletta Sandwich

“The muffuletta is both a type of round Sicilian sesame bread and a popular sandwich originating among Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Louisiana using the same bread.” So says Wikipedia, which is where I get all my information, including how you spell “muffuletta.” Lucky for the internet, because you can search “muffoletto” and, like magic, it knows just what you–you dumb thing–probably mean.

Anyway, with Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras in the news last week, muffuletta came to mind. Sure there’s a vegan version, and here it is! It actually makes a nice picnic sandwich, because it’s better made in advance, wrapped and stored in the fridge for a while. The bread can withstand the juices without resulting sogginess, and the flavors seem to marry better when left to sit around. (You know how flavors are when you give them idle time.)

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Unfortunately, there will be no picnics outdoors around my part of the country any time soon, as we’ve just been socked in with more snow. But muffuletta sandwiches are good by the fire with red wine and a dog at your feet…

Roasted Eggplant, Spinach and Mushroom Muffuletta Sandwich

(Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

For The Olive Salad Relish:

Five ounces pimento-stuffed olives, plus two tablespoons of liquid from the jar
Six ounces chopped giardiniera (pickled Italian vegetables), plus one tablespoon of liquid from the jar
Two tablespoons drained capers, plus two teaspoons of liquid from the jar
Three ounces pitted Calamata olives
Three cloves minced garlic
One tablespoon minced shallot
One teaspoon dried oregano
One teaspoon dried parsley
Pinch of dried thyme
Pinch of crushed red pepper
One-quarter cup extra-virgin olive oil

For The Sandwich fillings:

One small eggplant
One portobello mushroom cap
Salt to taste
Three cups fresh baby spinach, washed and spun dry
Two roasted red peppers from a jar
One nine to ten-inch round loaf sesame seed Italian bread, split crosswise

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Slice the eggplant and the mushroom cap into one-quarter inch thick slices. Place the vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet and salt them to taste. Place them in the oven for 22 minutes, or until softened.

2. Place the olives, giardiniera, capers, garlic, shallots, seasonings and olive oil in a food processor. Process only enough to chop everything coarsely. You want a relish, not a paste.

3. With the bread cut crosswise, remove some of the bread from each side, creating two “bowls.” (Reserve the bread guts for breadcrumbs, or do as I do, and pour yourself a glass of red wine, dipping the bread into olive oil, and eating it as you prepare the rest of the sandwich. This way, you can always be sure to carry an extra ten pounds on your frame so you have something to complain about later. “God, I just can’t seem to lose this extra ten pounds,” you’ll say. “I’ve tried EVERYTHING!” Except, it seems, to stop eating a lot of bread and red wine.)

4. Spread the olive relish very thickly on each side of the bread. Layer the bottom with eggplant, then mushrooms, then red pepper slices, then spinach. Place the other side of the bread on top, making a sandwich. Press the top very firmly onto the bottom. Wrap the sandwich very tightly in sandwich wrap and refrigerate for three hours or overnight. Remember what I said about the flavors!

5. To serve, cut the sandwich into pie wedges!

(This recipe was inspired by two recipes, one from Veganomicon and one from Emeril Lagasse.)

Valentine’s Sweeties (Vegan, Chocolate-Dipped Sugar Cookies)

Around here, we don’t need an excuse to make cookies. We do it all the time! We do, however, enjoy it when we can make them heart-shaped. After all, we strive every day to improve our heart health, and health is at the heart of love. Or is love at the heart of health? I think it works both ways.

So let’s give a hearty hurray for these Valentine’s Sweeties!

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Step-By-Step Seitan

One of the things I learned since “going vegan,” which is like “going rogue” without all the excitement, is that homemade seitan can be chewy (and not in a good way).

You’re still trying to figure out what seitan is, aren’t you? I don’t blame you. It was new to me too when I began cooking vegan at home.

First of all, how do you SAY seitan? I’ve heard say-tan, which is what I say. And some say say-tahn, which is what Thurston Howell would say. Say, that’s a lot of “saying,” don’t you say?

Seitan is a meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat. You can buy it in powdered form, often found near other flour products in the grocery or specialty store. Gluten is found in all wheat flour products and is what makes a dough stretchy. People add gluten to bread products if they want a denser outcome. I use it to make seitan.

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Wow! Salad Bowl!

Kale, adzuki beans, grains, sunflower seeds, steamed veggies, creamy dressing…There’s nothing this salad ain’t got! (It’s so good, proper grammar can’t begin to describe it.)

Vegan Wow Salad Bowl with Creamy Green Dressing

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

For the salad:

Six cooked carrots, cut into bite-sized chunks
One bunch steamed asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces
One cup cooked adzuki beans (substitute french lentils or mung beans)
One cup cooked bulgar wheat
Four cups washed, de-stemed and chopped kale
One-half cup chopped scallions

For the dressing:

Two tablespoons tahini
Two minced garlic cloves
Juice of one lemon
One-quarter cup fresh parsley
Two tablespoons water
Two tablespoons soy milk (or other plant-based milk)
One teaspoon maple syrup

Instructions:

Combine salad ingredients in a bowl. Blend dressing ingredients in a nutri-bullet, mini food processor or blender. Toss and serve.

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Risotto Meets Sesame

There are many ways to achieve a creamy texture in main dishes without using melted cheese or dairy. One way is to choose starchy foods like risotto, which, when combined with broth as it cooks, acts as its own thickening agent. The result is saucy and satisfying.

Risotto (made with arborio rice) requires a little babysitting, but it’s a one-dish meal worth the effort. Here’s how to do it.

You may use any boxed vegetable broth for this recipe, but I prefer to make my own stock if I have time. I recently read an article by Mark Bittman in the New York Times Magazine (Simple Stocks for Soup on the Fly) about different quick broths. I used the tempeh broth he suggested in the article as the base for this recipe. Check out his different ideas. I’m keeping them handy for the future!

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