Apple Strudel and Black-Eyed Peas

Happy New Year! Can you believe it’s now 2011? Crazy! The holidays were very relaxing for us, and were filled with lots of delicious vegan meals. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture them all on film, but I’ll do my best to give you a rundown of all the wonderful new recipes that we tried.

For some reason, I like to have a big Italian meal on Christmas Eve (I blame it on my mom’s Italian roots). This year, I decided to make a lasagna, along with a Caesar salad and warm, crusty bread. For the lasagna, I turned to Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s newest cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorite cookbooks. I’ll go into that a bit more a little later, but so far, every recipe that I’ve made from the book has been delicious!

The recipe, Lasagna with Roasted Cauliflower Ricotta & Spinach, was super-easy to make and packed with flavor thanks to the roasted cauliflower. My dad even finished off a big plate of the lasagna! To cut down on the cooking time, I opted to not boil the pasta. Instead, I layered the uncooked pasta noodles and added a little water right before baking. I also doubled the recipe so that there would be enough for everyone.

For the Caesar salad, I used Laura Ulm’s recipe from her book Vegan Yum Yum. The dressing for this salad is really what made the dish. It was incredible! (Well, the homemade sourdough croutons certainly didn’t hurt.) It consisted of almonds, miso, Dijon, vegan Worcestershire, and silken tofu among other ingredients. The croutons were also very easy to throw together and a must-have for the salad. Cubed sourdough bread was tossed with olive oil, Italian herbs, salt, and pepper, and then baked in the oven. I could easily eat this salad as a meal. So simple, but so delicious.

For dessert, I turned to Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (another must-have book from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero) to make red velvet cupcakes. The Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes were incredibly moist. The Old-Fashioned Velvet Icing, though delicious, was a little runny for me, so next time, I think I’m going to make them with a cream cheese icing. Still, they were the perfect finish to our Christmas Eve meal.

For Christmas morning, I once again turned to Vegan Yum Yum to make an apple strudel. In case you didn’t know, Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry is vegan. Now, it’s also not very healthy, but hey, it was the holidays! The strudel recipe was ridiculously easy to make. It was simply a matter of slicing the apples, tossing them in cinnamon, sugar, and flour, and then rolling them in the puff pastry. I made the strudel the day before and put it back into the oven for a few minutes to warm it. A slice of the strudel and a cup of coffee were the perfect Christmas morning treat.

For the past couple of years, we’ve been making it a tradition to eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day with the hope that they will bring us good luck for the year. This year was no exception and I once again turned to Appetite for Reduction to make these Hottie Blacked-Eyed Peas & Greens and Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples.

But before I go into how delicious both recipes are, I just have to profess my love for the cookbook. Yes, the recipes are low-fat, but you wouldn’t know it. The food is just so clean and simple and delicious, which is the way I like to cook. They also, for the most part, require very few ingredients (especially if you have a stocked pantry), making them incredibly budget-friendly. If you buy one cookbook this year, I highly recommend adding this one to your collection.

Anyway, back to the meal! The Hottie Black-Eyed Peas & Greens had so much flavor thanks to the onions, garlic, hot sauce, and liquid smoke. The recipe came together in no time at all while the sweet potatoes and apples steamed for the mash.

Though two separate recipes, I used Isa’s recommendation of making the Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples as a side for the Hottie Black-Eyed Peas. And, wow! The smokiness of the peas along with the sweet potatoes and apples made for a flavor-packed meal. And so healthy. And like the peas, once I finished cubing the potatoes and apples for steaming, the mash came together really quickly.

Well, that’s it. For now. I hope this rundown inspires you to try some new vegan recipes.

Enjoy!

Satisfying Sleek

I love VegNews. Whenever I’m feeling a little blah about cooking, I like to look to past and current issues of the magazine for inspiration. Unlike Vegetarian Times, which I also love, VegNews is 100 percent vegan. It’s the perfect mix of recipes, articles, facts about veganism, and product reviews.

The most current issue arrived in my mailbox just a few days ago and it does not disappoint. The first recipe that I spotted was this Satisfying Sleek. It’s a Lebanese pilaf made from bulgar wheat, black-eyed peas, kale or swiss chard, and a baharat spice blend that consists of black pepper, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ground ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Unfortunately, I could not locate fenugreek at the grocery stores in my neighborhood. I’m sure I could find some at one of our Middle Eastern grocery stores, but I didn’t have the time to drive across town to get it. So, I just left it out.

Anyway, the pilaf is surprisingly flavorful despite its simple ingredients, and it smells incredible! Aromas from the spice mixture filled my kitchen. I doubled the original recipe so that we would have leftovers for dinner the next day. I also served it with a dollop of hummus and lavash bread that were leftover from our Roasted Red Pepper and Hummus Wraps.

Satisfying Sleek (adapted from VegNews)

Serves 2 + leftovers

Ingredients:

1 cup bulgar wheat
3 cups vegetable broth
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
4 cups swiss chard or kale (I used kale)
6 scallions, chopped
4 tsp baharat spice blend (see below)
2 15 oz. cans of black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Baharat Spice Blend:

1 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

Place bulgar into a large bowl, cover with the vegetable broth and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until soft. Add the kale, scallions, black-eyed peas, spice blend, and bulgar mixture to the pot and bring what liquid is there to a boil (my bulgar had soaked up most of the broth, so I added a half cup of water to the pot). Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Stir in the lemon juice and season with the salt and pepper.

Serve with hummus and lavash bread or pita.

Enjoy!