Archive | Main Course RSS feed for this section

Colombian Beans

16 Feb

This recipe is loosely based on the Colombian-Style Red Beans from Terry Hope Romero’s Viva Vegan, though I made several small changes.  I’ve been intrigued about traveling to Colombia, and until I can actually go, I plan to make Colombian food!  So far I’ve made these beans and arepas (like really thick corn tortillas–heaven!  I’ll post about those some other day).  I made a special trip to my local Fiesta Supermarket, which sells anything Latin you can imagine.  Previously I had searched for the beans I needed for this dish, bola roja or cargamanto beans, which are both common in Colombian cooking, in several grocery stores.  However, Fiesta seems to be the only store in Austin that carries these beans, though they can also be ordered online.  I bought a bag of the Goya brand bola roja beans, and they are so beautiful!  And they are definitely bola roja (red ball)-shaped.  They are definitely more expensive than other varieties of red beans, but totally worth it, at least for the novelty factor.

I cooked my own beans for this, but if you are pressed for time use canned red beans for this recipe.  Beans can be cooked a day or two ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to complete the remaining steps.


8 oz. dry bola roja or cargamanto beans, or 2 cans of red beans, rinsed and drained (should be about 4 cups of cooked beans)

1-2 T olive oil

1/2 large green bell pepper, chopped

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

3-4 cups vegetable broth or water

Salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper


To cook the beans:

Soak the beans in plenty of water for at least 3-4 hours, or overnight.  When ready to cook, drain and rinse the soaked beans.  Place in a medium to large pot, cover with water (about 5 or 6 cups of water).  Turn the burner on high and bring the beans to a boil.  Once the beans start to boil, turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let cook for about 2 hours.  Check occasionally to ensure there is enough water.  Beans are done once tender. 

To prepare the final dish

Heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the pepper, onion, garlic, and carrot.  Cook for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the oregano, paprika, cumin, and then the beans and water or broth.  Add salt, about 1 tsp to start.  You can always add more later if needed.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, turn down to medium low, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.  Remove from heat, taste and add salt if needed. 


Roasted Broccoli and Rice Salad with Tahini Lemon Dressing

6 Feb

This is one of those improvisational dishes that turned out well.  It is an iteration of the grain/bean/vegetable template that makes a satisfying and healthful meal.  I cooked up some brown rice for this ahead of time, though if I had any leftover cooked grain I would have used that.  Quinoa, for example, would make an excellent replacement for the brown rice, as would millet or bulgar wheat.  In place of broccoli you could use cauliflower or any vegetable really, depending on what you might need to use up or what’s in season.  The dressing has become a favorite of mine–a very simple combination of olive oil, tahini, and lemon juice.  In place of tofu, any bean would work, particularly chickpeas.



2 cups cooked brown rice

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed for a minute in the microwave

1/4 cup chopped walnuts or almonds

1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes

1/2 cup chopped red onion

1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 lb broccoli

Olive oil

Salt to taste

6-8 oz. extra firm tofu or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans, such as chickpeas


2 T tahini

2 T extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

2 twists freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 F.   Prepare the broccoli by washing it and cutting it into small trees.  Toss with olive oil and salt (about a tablespoon of oil) on a cookie sheet or glass baking pan (I prefer the cookie sheet–easier to clean).  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.

While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the other components of the salad.  Chop the walnuts, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and olives, and add to the rice in a medium bowl.  Microwave the corn for 1 minute on a small plate or in a bowl.  Add to the salad.  Make the dressing by whisking the tahini, olive oil, pepper, and lemon juice together.  Toss with the salad.

Mix in the broccoli and tofu.  Serve.

Smoky Black Bean Quinoa Salad

9 Dec

I recently started volunteering at the Sustainable Food Center.  My first major task was helping with a project to test several recipes for the revision of the Happy Kitchen cookbook, and important part of the SFC’s Happy Kitchen cooking class program.  I picked Smoky Black Bean Salad and Cranberry Sauce.  I had a lot of fun doing this and testing the recipes with different groups to get their feedback.  This particular recipe I’ve made my own, by upping the chipotle and cilantro, and adding some more color with the carrot and red bell pepper.  The salad makes for a really nice, light meal paired with some soup or a vegetable dish, or by itself.  Last night I ate a plate of this salad with some roasted acorn squash I had left over with some honey drizzled over the top.  Yum!  Healthy dinner after a nice run. 


1 cup quinoa

2 cups water

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

2 cups cooked black beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed

3-4 green onions, thinly sliced

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1 medium carrot, grated with a box grater or finely chopped

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

1 tsp adobo sauce

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp fine sea salt


First, rinse and drain the quinoa.  Bring the water and salt to a boil.  Add the quinoa, lower the heat to medium or medium low.  Cover and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed.  Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the quinoa to cool completely before proceeding with the remainder of the recipe.  If you use hot quinoa to make the salad, the texture becomes mushy. 

Place the quinoa in a large bowl suitable for mixing.  Add the black beans, green onions, carrot, red bell pepper, and cilantro.

Next, make the dressing.  Combine the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt in a small bowl.  Whisk together until everything is well combined.  Add to the quinoa mixture and stir to mix until the dressing is well distributed.  Serve cold or at room temperature.  Use the salad within a week of making it.

The CSA Challenge, Part II: Eggplant

14 Nov

I used to really dislike eggplant, despite my wish to really like it.  Part of my dislike had to do with only being exposed to store-bought eggplant, which is often large and bitter (the larger your eggplant, the more bitter it will be.)  Also, enjoying eggplant really depends on how you prepare it.  My conclusion after trying various ways of preparing eggplant is that it’s got to be roasted/baked into oblivion.  My favorite eggplant dishes include Imam bayildi, a typical Turkish dish of very soft roasted eggplant stuffed with vegetables and doused in olive oil, baba ganoush, eggplant parmesan, and ratatouille.  All of these involve oven roasting your eggplant until very soft.  With eggplant I got in my CSA box, I made two dishes:  baba ganoush and a vegan eggplant parmesan.  The baba ganoush recipe is my own, the eggplant parmesan is adapted from a recipe on the Fat Free Vegan website (link provided).  I changed up some of the ingredients and rewrote the instructions according to how I actually made the dish. I used the lighter colored eggplant for the baba ganoush, and the darker for the eggplant parmesan, though these are certainly interchangeable.

Recipe #1:  Baba Ganoush

Aside from eating spoonfuls of this magical, addictive dip, my favorite way to eat this is on toasted whole grain bread with plenty of seeds. 


1 large eggplant or 2 medium (I used one medium and 2 small)

Olive oil for brushing the eggplant, plus 3 T as an ingredient for the dip

2 cloves garlic, peeled

Juice of one lemon

2 T tahini

Handful (about 1/3 cup) fresh parsley

1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste


First, cook the eggplant.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  While the oven heats, place the eggplants on a cookie sheet or glass baking dish.  Split the eggplants down the middle, both vertically and horizontally.  Brush the eggplant with olive oil, on all sides.  When the oven is heated, bake the eggplant for about 30 minutes, until very soft.

Next, scrape the flesh out of the skins using a spoon.  I ended up with about one cup of flesh.

Now, you are ready to make the final product.  Place the eggplant and the remaining ingredients in a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Taste, and add additional salt if necessary.  Makes about 1 1/2 cups of baba ganoush.

Recipe #2:  Vegan Eggplant Parmesan

Note: This recipe says to salt the eggplant.  I skipped this step because my eggplants were smaller and I knew they were unlikely to be bitter.  If you use a large eggplant, particularly store-bought eggplant, slice the eggplant, salt it, put it in a colander and place over a larger bowl or in the sink.  The salt extracts the eggplant’s liquid, and thereby helps eliminate the bitterness many eggplants have.


1 large eggplant, or 2 medium

1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs

Olive oil for brushing the eggplant before broiling

Tomato sauce

1 medium onion, chopped

1 T olive oil

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes with basil (or plain, adding 1 tsp dried basil to the sauce)

1/2 cup vegetable broth (I dissolved one cube of Rapunzel vegetable bouillon in 1 cup water in a small sauce pan over medium heat)

2 T tomato paste

Salt and pepper to taste

“Cheese” sauce

1/2 cup silken tofu (I used the boxed variety)

1/2 cup almond milk, or other non-dairy milk

1/2 cup vegetable broth

2 T cashews

1 tsp onion powder

3 T nutritional yeast (I upped this amount because I wanted a cheesier flavor)

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 or 3 twists of freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp corn starch


Turn on your oven’s broiler.  Remove the eggplant stems and slice into 1/4-1/2 slices.  Place on a cookie sheet, and brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Place the eggplant under the broiler for about 3 or 4 minutes, until it starts to brown, as shown below.  Remove from the oven.

Next, prepare the tomato sauce.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat.  When heated, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, sauteing for another minute or two.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients, stir until combined, and cook over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.  Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor, and process until completely smooth.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  While the oven  heats, assemble the dish.  Use a medium-sized glass baking dish (mine was 8×11 inches).  Place half the eggplant slices in the bottom of the pan.  Top with half the bread crumbs, evenly coating the eggplant layer.  Next, spread half the tomato sauce over the eggplant and bread crumbs.  Pour over half the cheese sauce.

Repeat these layer once more, reserving some of the bread crumbs to top the eggplant parmesan.  Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes, until the top is a bit browned.  Allow to cool about 10 minutes and serve.

Peruvian Quinoa Potato Soup

5 Nov

This is a quick, tasty, hearty soup I made on a weeknight.  The recipe if from the Urban Vegan cookbook, by Dynise Balcavage.  This makes a ton of soup, so be prepared!  You could halve the recipe, or just cut the amount of quinoa in half to make less soup.  You will almost certainly have to add additional liquid to this soup–the quinoa absorbs a lot of water.  (Note:  I did not copy the recipe exactly and changed some of the quantities of different ingredients.)


1 T olive oil

1 small white onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 T achiote, dissolved in 6 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water

2 cups quinoa, rinsed

3-4 medium potatoes, roughly chopped

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 cup rice or soy milk (I used almond milk)

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste


Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and garlic, and saute for 3-5 minutes.  Add the achiote and broth.  Bring to a boil and then add the quinoa.  Boil gently for about 10 minutes.  Lower heat to a simmer.  Add the potatoes and cook, covered, until tender, about 10 minutes.  If the soup dries out/gets too thick, add more broth or water to think it out to your liking. Add the parsley, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Kale Class!

27 Oct

This week I invited my friend Karla to my place to show her three different ways of preparing kale.  We made kale pesto, ribollita, and raw kale salad.  Karla was surprised by how easy everything was to make.  I really love each of these dishes for different reasons, but I was excited about the ribollita.  Kale, white beans, bread, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and the rest, make a great soup.  Kale is one of those under-used, but oh-so-good for you vegetables.  Here is my contribution to show that there are many fantastic ways to get more kale into your diet.

Recipe #1:  Raw kale salad


1 bunch kale, any variety, washed and chopped

1/4 medium red onion, chopped

Handful pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Handful dried cranberries

Juice of one lemon

2-3 T extra virgin olive oil

1/2-1 tsp sea salt

Black pepper


Place the kale in a large bowl.  Squeeze the lemon juice on the kale, and add the olive oil and salt.  Massage the kale until it softens, about 1-2 minutes or so.  Add the onion, cranberries, and pepitas.  Add some freshly ground black pepper, and you’re done.

Recipe #2:  Kale Pesto


1/2 bunch of kale, washed and roughly chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/3 cup walnuts

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp sea salt

Juice of one lemon


Add the garlic, walnuts, salt, lemon juice, and about half the kale to the food processor.  Pulse until the kale is roughly chopped.  Add the olive oil and the rest of the kale.  Process until the mixture is at a uniform pesto consistency.

Recipe #3:  Ribollita

(This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson at, though I didn’t copy it exactly.)


3 T extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

4 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 14-oz. can crushed tomatoes

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 bunch (1 lb.) cavolo nero (aka dinosaur kale, or lacinato kale), washed and chopped

4 cups cooked white beans

1/2 pound white bread

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Zest of one lemon

Chopped black olives (I didn’t use these because I didn’t have them, but will try it next time.)


In a large pot suitable for soup, combine the olive oil, celery, garlic, carrot, and red onion over medium heat.  Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring a few times to ensure even cooking.  Stir in the tomatoes and red pepper flakes, simmering for another 10 minutes or so.  Stir in the kale, 3 cups of the beans, and 8 cups of water.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash the rest of the beans (the remaining 1 cup) in a bowl.  Tear the bread into bite-sized pieces.  Stir both the mashed beans and the bread into the soup.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until the bread breaks down and the soup thickens, about 20-30 minutes.  Stir in the salt, taste and add more if needed.  Stir in the lemon zest.

Serve immediately, drizzled with olive oil and topped with chopped olives.

Makes about 10 servings.

Tofu “Egg” Salad

24 Oct

This salad is a quick dinner to make on a weeknight, and the ingredients are pretty flexible.  I typically use shredded carrots in this salad, but I didn’t have any when I made this version.  It’s actually easier than egg salad since you can use the tofu right out of the package,whereas with egg salad you have to boil the eggs and allow them to cool.  Tofu absorbs whatever flavors you combine it with, and makes a great base for this salad.  I ate it atop toasted sprouted gran buns.


1 14-oz. package firm or extra-firm tofu

1/3 cup mayonnaise or Vegenaise

3 T dijon mustard

1/2 cup dill relish

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

1 T capers

Salt and pepper to taste


Drain the water from the tofu.  Chop into small cubes, or mash with a fork.  Add the other ingredients and mix well.  Serve on lettuce or a toasted bun.