Dal Makhni

I love lentils. They’re cheap to buy and easy to prepare. They’re also super healthy. Combine them with some fragrant spices, tomatoes, and a cashew cream sauce, and you’ve got yourself a delicious, Indian-inspired dish that is sure to please.

I adapted this recipe from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook, which is one of my favorites. I highly recommend it if you’re thinking of becoming vegan or just looking for simple vegan recipes. Lauren Ulm’s food is very simple in its ingredients and preparation, making it a good starting point before moving on to more involved cookbooks, like, say, Veganomicon.

Dal Makhni

Serves 2 + leftovers

Ingredients:

2 cups long-grain brown rice
1 tbsp Earth Balance margarine
2 cups green lentils
8 cups water
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt
1 cup raw cashews
3/4 cup water

Directions:

In two separate pots, cook both the lentils and rice in 4 cups of water, each. Add the Earth Balance to the rice. Both should take about 40 minutes to cook.

After the rice and lentils have cooked for about 20 minutes, go ahead and heat the oil in a large, deep skillet (I used a soup pot). Add the onion, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the onions start to brown and caramelize. Stir constantly and keep an eye on them to prevent the onions from burning. After they’ve browned, add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and cardamom pods and fry for 2 minutes. Next, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer for about 5 minutes, then add the cooked lentils to the pot. Add a 1/2 cup of water if the mixture is too thick.

Blend the cashews in a blender or food processor, and slowly add the water until it forms a creamy sauce. Add the cream to the lentil mixture and reserve some on the side for an extra dollop on top.

Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Broccoli Almond Sweet & Sour Tofu

This dish reminds me a lot of the General Tao’s Tofu I made a while back with the exception of the sauce. The General Tao’s sauce was sweet and spicy, and this is sweet and tangy.

The recipe is taken directly from the Vegan Yum Yum book, and you can also find it on Lauren Ulm’s website by the same name. (That’s why I’m not going to post it on here.) The book has the entire recipe, which includes adding the brown rice and the broccoli.

It’s delicious, and much tastier and healthier than most takeout. Plus, I use the sweet and sour sauce recipe quite a bit for my stir-fry dishes. It’s super-easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients on-hand (especially if you’ve stocked your pantry).

The key for making this dish quickly is to do your prep work in advance and to take a couple of shortcuts:

First, I get my brown rice going. Second, I press my tofu. I then make the sauce and set it aside. About 10 minutes before the rice is finished cooking, I throw my broccoli pieces on top of the rice and close the lid. The broccoli will be perfectly steamed by the time the rest of the dish is finished. After I finish frying my tofu, I take it out and wipe the pan. I then pour my sauce mixture into the same skillet to thicken. Once it thickens, I toss in my fried tofu pieces, stir to coat, and serve immediately over the steamed broccoli and rice.

Enjoy!

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

I know what you’re thinking: “Cheese? I thought this was a vegan blog.” Don’t worry! The meal you see above is 100 percent vegan. If you haven’t discovered Daiya, I highly recommend that you do so, and soon! It’s pretty incredible as a cheese substitute; it melts easily and tastes like the real deal. And as you can see, it works perfectly for a grilled cheese.

Tomato soup and grilled cheese are a comfort food staple. This version is actually pretty healthy and very quick to make. For the soup, I modified Vegan Yum Yum’s Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup. As its name suggests, the original recipe is more of a spicy tomato soup rather than a sweet one, so I added some roasted red peppers that I had leftover from my Roasted Red Pepper and Hummus Wraps to mellow out some of the acidity. And like most soups, this soup tastes better the next day; I recommend making it the day before you plan on serving it (though it’s still good the same day).

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

Serves 2 + leftovers

Ingredients:

5 tbsp olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red chili flakes
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 15oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 large roasted red pepper, coarsely chopped
2 28oz cans of diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cups hot water
black pepper to taste

4 slices sprouted wheat bread (I used Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Whole Grain Bread)
1 package Daiya cheddar
Earth Balance margarine

Directions:

Heat the oil in deep soup pot on medium-high heat and sauté the onions for a 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, red chili flakes, mustard powder, turmeric, chickpeas, and roasted red pepper to the pot and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and salt and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, then add in the nutritional yeast and hot water and blend. I used my immersion blender to blend the mixture into a smooth pureé, but a blender or food processor works well, too.

To make the grilled cheese, butter one side of each slice of bread and lay two of the four slices, butter-side-down, onto a skillet set to medium-high. Add the shredded cheese and the other two slices of bread, butter-side-up. Cook each side until golden brown and the cheese is melted.

Enjoy!