Archive | March 2014

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas with Salsa Verde

Enchiladas

Spring is approaching, though judging by the weather, you’d never know it. I’m preparing, as usual, for some spring cleaning. That normally includes clearing out my freezer for a total reorganization. As I have been making my way through my freezer, it’s incredible the things I have found.

Sitting way at the back was my container of salsa verde and since enchiladas have been on my list of things to make for a very long time, here they are.
I will start by saying that this is not a weeknight meal, unless, of course, you pre-roast the sweet potatoes. If you are willing to put in the extra bit of effort, you’re in for a treat.

This is nothing like what you get at those tex-mex places. It’s not drenched in cheese – so much healthier. You get a melody of sweetness from the roasted sweet potatoes and leeks (it’s as much about the roasted leeks as it is about the sweet potatoes. ), the bold, floral, fresh, deep, green from the oregano leaves, and hit of lime from the salsa verde. Nestled somewhere in there, crouching, is the tiny little bit of heat from the Mexican aleppo pepper. WOW!!! is all I can say. Very few dishes leave me speechless – this one did.

If you can’t find the Aleppo powder, try it with cayenne or chili powder. The recipe makes 8 enchiladas with four for the freezer for another time for a total of twelve overall. Eight of these enchiladas fit perfectly in a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.

Served with a side salad, it’s one of the most beautiful vegetarian mains that I make. It’s going to sound silly because there’s nothing really springy in this dish, but it really did taste like spring to me – fresh, light, and zingy.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

 Sweet potatoes, medium, cut into wedges  3 (approximately 3 lbs)
 Leeks, large, sliced roughly  2
 Garlic, bulb, peeled  1
 Avocado oil  1/3 cup + 2 tbsp
 Salt
 Black pepper
 Aleppo powder  1 tsp
 Coriander, ground  2 tsp
 Black beans  19 oz can
 Cilantro, fresh, chopped  1/4 bunch
 Oregano, fresh  4 springs
 Tortillas, spelt  12
 Salsa verde (see recipe, if making your own)  2 cups
Manchego Cheese, shredded 10 oz
Chilies, green or red, chopped 2 (garnish)
Green onion, chopped 1 (garnish)
Avocado oil for drizzling (garnish)

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Toss sweet potatoes, leeks, and garlic cloves with the avocado oil, salt, black pepper, aleppo powder, and ground coriander until coated. Roast for 90 minutes.
  2. Remove from oven and add black beans, cilantro and oregano and mix together (the sweet potatoes will get mashed a little and that’s what you want. It makes it easier to fill the enchiladas).
  3. Spread a layer of salsa verde on bottom of a 9 by 13-inch baking pan (about 8 tbsp).
  4. For each tortilla, fill with 2 kitchen tablespoons of filling, top with cheese (reserve a quarter of cheese for topping) and roll up. (Makes 12)
  5. Place 8 enchiladas (you’ll have 4 left for another time) in baking tray, top with remaining salsa verde and cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and garnish with green onions, chill peppers and drizzle with a little bit of avocado oil.

Salad Sandwich

Salad Sandwich

My husband’s idea of a sandwich is slapping some lunch meat and cheese between two pieces of white bread, in spite of all the fresh veggies in the house! This is so foreign to me. Growing up, I came from a household that made sandwich making an art. Sandwiches always consisted of a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, and fresh and pickled vegetables. They’d be stacked so high, we were the envy at school and there’d be no room for snacking (which I secretly believe was mom’s main motive).

I hate going into restaurants that offer so called veggie sandwiches consisting of mounds of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and poor quality feta cheese in a wrap. I refuse to spend money at these restaurants, which put little effort and creativity into their token one vegetarian / vegan sandwich option. It used to be that if the vegetarian sandwich option didn’t include at least one or two roasted vegetables, I would not consider ordering the sandwich at all.

I still love roasted vegetable sandwiches. In fact, I look forward to them during the bbq season, but have developed an appreciation for sandwiches consisting mostly of raw vegetables. If you speak with my husband, he’ll tell you that necessarily I have to load up my sandwiches with so many vegetables as a filler. He calls these sandwiches “salads” in disguise, hence the name, and often reminds me condescendingly that, “you don’t make friends with salad”.

I disagree. Just look at this monster stacked a mile high! Every time I take it to work, I’m inundated with positive feedback because it demands attention. The oat bread is thick and hearty and slightly sweet. The veggie pate is creamy and herby. And the vegetables – what an assortment of greens, freshness, juiciness, crunchiness and saltiness – they all work so well together. It’s all tied together with the creamy and vinegary avocado, as they meld into a tangled garden.

This is my go to sandwich, my weeknight back-up sandwich. If I have to work late or just don’t feel like cooking, this is my default. I have most of these ingredients in my kitchen at all times: bread, mustard, salad greens, onions, olives, tomatoes, marinated mushrooms, hot peppers, and pate/cheese. So, each week, I ensure I add a green pepper and sprouts to my grocery list. The sandwich works minus one or two ingredients or with the addition of other fresh vegetables, so don’t get stuck on this formula. This is my preferred version, but experiment and see what you come up with. I prefer it with the avocado vinaigrette, so when I actually plan to make the sandwich, I also make the vinaigrette, but on busy nights, I  use whatever vinaigrette / dressing I have made for the week. There are lots of pre-made vinaigrette options available too. Along with the bread, pate and mounds of fresh vegetables, this sandwich is one of the most filling I make and by far, one of the most interesting, in spite of the fact it consists mainly of raw veggies. Believe it or not, I crave this sandwich.

Serves 1

Ingredients:

 Bread, oat, thick slices (toasted / untoasted)  2
 Mustard
 Pate – veggie / cheese / cashew cheese  50 g of pate / cashew cheese or 2 slices of regular cheese
 Mesclum mix  generous handful
 Sunflower Micro Greens  generous handful
 Onion, red, thinly sliced
 Green pepper, thickly sliced  2 slices
 Olives, green, sliced in half  4
 Tomato, thickly sliced  2 slices
 Salt & black pepper
 Hot peppers, pickled  2
 Mushrooms, marinated  Garnish / on the side
Vinaigrette: (You’ll only need a couple of tsp per sandwich. The rest makes for a very nice salad.)
Avocado ½
Lime, juice, freshly squeezed 2 tbsp
Olive Oil ¼ cup
Honey 1 tsp
Salt ¼ tsp
Black Pepper 1/8 tsp
Garlic, clove, grated 1
Basil, dried 1/8 tsp
Basil, fresh 1 tbsp

1. Using a hand held blender, in a small bowl, thoroughly combine all vinaigrette ingredients.

2. To assemble the sandwich, layer the ingredients in the following order: bottom slice of bread, mustard, mesclum mix, sunflower micro greens, red onion, green pepper, olives, tomato, salt and black pepper, hot peppers, and top slice of bread, inside brushed with 2 tsp of avocado vinaigrette.

3. Cut in half and serve with marinated, roasted mushrooms.

Quinoa Fresh Vegetable Bowl

Quinoa Bowl

I have always been impressed with the rice / noodle bowl options at vegetarian restaurants. The colours, array of vegetables, and flavour combinations are not only exciting, but create beautiful vegan / vegetarian mains. However, when I recreate them at home, the rice and noodle bowls require the addition of a vegetable protein, which just adds more work to my weeknight meals. So, I’ve created a vegan bowl with quinoa, which means I don’t have to fuss with preparing tofu and such. Much faster.

There are no hard and fast rules, but most vegan / vegetarian bowls that I have eaten consist mainly of three components: the carbohydrate, the sauce / gravy, and assortment of hot and/or cold vegetables. The sauce is perhaps my favourite part of these dishes and if you are strategic about it, you can use your sauces to add not only flavour, but protein and nutrients.

My sauce doesn’t take long to make. You’ll recognize it from my “Loaded Cheezy Fries” post. I froze the leftovers not fully knowing what I would do with the extras, and here they are. The sauce is extremely versatile! I defrosted it from the night before and just heated it up over the stove while the quinoa was cooking.

I went with raw veggies entirely to reap the benefits of a salad and to avoid wasting time making a separate dish.

The combination was outstanding. Every bite was exciting. There’s something sexy about the interplay of hot and cold and this dish definitely knows how to work it. Picture… sweet, warm quinoa + the deep, rich, and slightly salty nutritional yeast-based sauce + the crunchy, fresh vegetables. Intermingling in there is also the fresh herbs, parsley, coriander, and chives and rich droplets of olive oil. Each bite differs. The crunch of the cucumber contrasts with the burst of juices provided by the tomato, which pairs beautifully, by the way, with the sauce. Then there’s the avocado; its creaminess and relatively neutral flavour seem to soak up the sauce like a sponge.

We couldn’t get enough of this dish. It’s dishes such as these that remind me how exciting the vegetarian / vegan diet can really be. I call this dish  “fast and furious”. Truly, it doesn’t get any better.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

Sauce (Makes 4 cups. There will be leftovers. It freezes well.):
Canola oil ½ cup
Onion, Spanish, large, roughly sliced 1
Garlic, cloves, sliced 3
Salt 1 tsp
Black pepper
Nutritional yeast 3 tbsp
Mustard, Dijon 1 tbsp
Turmeric 1 tsp
Bouillon, crumbled 1
Flour 1/3 cup
Milk, hemp, unsweetened 3 cups
Quinoa:
 Olive oil  4 + 1 tbsp
 Quinoa  2 cups
 Water  4 cups
 Salt  1 and 1/4 tsp
 Black pepper
 Chives  20 g (half a bunch)
 Parsley, fresh, chopped
 Vegetables:
 Tomatoes, medium  4 (1 tomato per serving)
 Cucumbers, small, Lebanese  4 (1 cucumber per serving)
 Avocados  2 (1/2 an avocado per serving)
 Salt
 Black pepper
 Olive oil  4 tbsp (1 tbsp per serving)
 Cilantro, leaves, fresh  Garnish

Directions:

  1. To make the sauce, in a medium pot, heat the canola oil.
  2. Add the Spanish onion and cook for 10-12 minutes until onion is translucent, but not caramelized.
  3. Add garlic, salt, and black pepper and cook for a couple minutes more until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Remove pot from heat. Scoop onion mixture into a food processor and process until thoroughly combined and smooth. This step is important to avoid a chunky sauce.
  5. Return onion mixture to pot over medium heat.
  6. Add nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, turmeric, and crumbled bouillon into onion mixture and combine well.
  7. After a couple minutes, add flour and thoroughly combine. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  8. One ladle at a time, whisk in the hemp milk until the sauce becomes smooth and creamy.
  9. Adjust seasoning adding salt and black pepper to taste. Simmer sauce for 3-4 more minutes or until you achieve the desired consistency.
  10. To prepare the quinoa, in a medium pot, over medium heat, heat 4 tbs of olive oil. Add quinoa and toast for a couple of minutes. Add water (check package to ensure you are using the right amount of water for your brand of quinoa). Bring water to a simmer. When the water is simmering, add salt and black pepper. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. When quinoa is done, remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes. Stir another tablespoon of olive oil, the chives, and parsley into the quinoa. Fluff with a fork.
  11. To assemble, divide the quinoa between 4 plates. Top with a generous serving of the sauce (you’ll have leftovers which freeze very well). Arrange tomatoes, avocado, and cucumbers over the sauce. Season raw veggies with salt, black pepper, and 1 tbsp of olive oil per plate. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.