Curried chickpea menu ideas

I became a vegetarian after having been  exposed to vegetarian East Indian cuisine.  After a meal, I always felt energized rather than weighed down by my food.  I’ve always attributed the sensation to the vegetables and  spices.  Indian cooking requires a few more ingredients than usual–such as garlic, onions, tumeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder, but the final blend of flavours is well worth the effort.

A recent blog by Veggie Grettie  offers a Channa Masala recipe which is a spicy (not necessarily hot) stew of chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes.  This recipe inspired me to cook chickpeas and complementary foods for this upcoming Meatless Monday.

Chickpeas, spices, and other ingredients, ready for cooking

Channa Masala and similar recipes can be eaten with traditional chapati, tortillas, pita breads, brown rice, or basmati rice–whatever grain product is available or preferred.

A related chickpea dish is West Indian roti filled with chickpeas, with or without white or sweet potatoes, spinach or squash.  Making rotis is an art best learned from a skilled roti maker, but if you like making  flat breads, give this recipe a try:  Rotis Stuffed with Curried Chickpeas Filling.  I’ll be making the filling and eating it in a tortilla or pita.  If you’ve never had a real vegetarian roti, visit a  West Indian roti shop for a taste of the “real thing”.

Complementary Dishes–What else might you eat with spicy chickpeas, besides bread or rice?  Hot sauce goes well.  A green lettuce or spinach salad,  or cucumber slices would be refreshing.  Other possibilities are  cooked spinach, asparagus, or green beans.  Here are some more recipe links I have dug up:

Indian Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Carrots, Green Peas, and Potatoes.

Enjoy!

Beans and grains for spring and summer menus

 

There has been a lot of chilly wet weather lately –I found myself cooking minestrone soup with beans and pasta the other day.  Today I decided to make Vegetarian Molasses Baked Beans in the slow cooker–it’s cooking as I write.  Baked beans can be served hot or cold as a main or side dish.  For Meatless Monday,  I’ll serve the beans with a spinach salad or hot greens, and perhaps some toast–I might also make some brown rice.

Another food that I’ve talked about in other posts is quinoa–it’s great in raw or grilled vegetable salads.  I’ve run out of quinoa so won’t be cooking with it next week, but I just want to mention again that it’s a great, satisfying food–high in protein, fibre, and minerals.  It’s also a gluten-free grain (technically not a grain, but it’s grain-like)–important for those who have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.  Quinoa recipes can be made using brown rice— brown rice and quinoa are interchangeable in many dishes.  Canadian Living Magazine offers a few quinoa recipes, such as:

Black and White Bean and Quinoa Salad,

Gluten-free Quinoa and Lentil Salad with Creamy Tahini Dressing, and

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa Salad–featuring quinoa, grilled vegetables and feta cheese.

Kasha Veggie Burgers for Meatless Monday

This week for Meatless Monday I’ll be making veggie burgers with Kasha (toasted buckwheat groats) as the key ingredient.  This grain is part of East European cuisines and has a distinct flavour.  I’ll be following a recipe called “Cajun Veggie Burgers” that comes with a demonstration video.  A unique feature of this burger recipe is that it provides instructions for  baking as well as frying the burgers.

For Inspiration

Changing eating patterns, even for one day takes effort.  If you are looking for inspiration, check out the Video of Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,  Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), uploaded onto YouTube. In this video, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri,  also Director General of the Energy and Resources Institute of India,talks about the impact of eating less meat.

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman IPCC

Vegetarian potluck ideas

Fast  Mexican Lasagna

Eating lower on the food chain conserves land, water, and crops—one of the reasons why eating less meat has been added to lists of eco-friendly things to do, and one of the rationales behind Meatless Monday A holiday weekend often involves family potlucks, and other gatherings—so why not grace one of your occasions with a meatless offering?

Feature Recipe: Fast Mexican Lasagna

This week I tested Fast Mexican Lasagna.  I would call this dish “Mexican Tortilla Casserole” as it’s made of tortillas and other  ingredients you would use in quesadillas (the subject of my last food post).  The casserole has four layers of  soft 8¨ tortillas covered with refried beans, salsa, grated cheese, and roasted red peppers.

The recipe says that the yield is 6 servings.  For a family potluck, I’ll be cutting my dish into slivers as a side for other dishes on the table.  A few tips:

  • Making refried beans from scratch isn’t difficult if you have the time.  Once you prepare them a few times, no recipe will be needed.  Try this one:  refried beans.
  • Cooking beans from scratch allows you to reduce the gas factor. To reduce gas, soak the beans  overnight and/or bring them to a boil, skim off the foam, rinse, and cook in a fresh batch of water.
  • Red peppers can be “roasted” in a  microwave rather than using more electricity in an oven.

More Recipe Ideas for Weekend Celebrations

Vegetarian Nachos—I recently layered baked tortilla chips, with salsa, chopped green onion, chopped cooked asparagus, artichoke slices, and shredded cheese on a cookie sheet and baked it in the oven at 375 degrees F  for just over 10 minutes.  A heartier version could include refried beans.

Vegetarian Burritos or Quesadillas–offer as full servings, or cut into snack-sized pieces

Vegetable Lasagna

Enjoy!  Let me know if you have some vegetarian successes this weekend.

Burritos Refried Beans Vegetarian Sandwich Spreads

 Meatless Monday is on its way.  Here are some ideas for lunch and dinner.  I’ll be having veggie pate sandwiches for lunch and refried bean burritos for dinner.

Vegetarian Bean Burritos are great for lunch or dinner, hot or cold.  A hot variation is refried beans and brown rice.

For lunch, make burritos at home or purchase premade frozen bean burritos–it won’t be as hearty as what you’d make at home, but sometimes there isn’t enough time to make everything.  For homemade burritos, the basic ingredients are:

  1. tortilla wraps
  2. refried beans or other filling
  3. “fixings”, such as grated cheese, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and chopped green onions
  4. condiments–perhaps salsa and sour cream.

For a Vegweb recipe,  click Refried Beans.  This recipe includes tomatoes–which could be optional—in the past I haven’t used tomatoes–the key ingredients are pre-cooked beans fried with lots of garlic, onions,  hot or sweet pepper,  and seasonings, such as oregano and cumin.  The beans are partly mashed as they fry and taste best the next day when the flavours have deepened.

For instructions on how to roll a tortilla, take a look at “How to Make Bean Burrito Bites” a video by Expertvillage.  Burrito bites are a cold variation that are presented as an appetizer, but also would work for lunch.  The burritos are spread with cream cheese and filled with refried beans,  chopped cilantro,  raw pepper slices, and cucumber strips.

More Lunch Ideas

 In a previous blog I introduced the idea of buying or making  vegetarian pate for sandwiches.   Since then I made the Vegweb veggie pate  recipe, as I was unable to find a premade version in the store.  It was fairly easy to make, once the ingredients were assembled (as is often the case). 

The pate consists of ground nuts, grated raw vegetables, oil, soy sauce, nutritional yeast and other seasonings.  A coffee grinder is handy for grinding the nuts.  Nutritional yeast adds flavour and texture.  The mixture is spread in a large baking dish and baked in the oven.  The result is delicious hot or cold.

I experimented with a variation of the recipe, accidentally and on purpose.  I used only ground sunflower seeds and now realize that the recipe also calls for ground sesame.   The recipe uses shredded carrots, beets, and zucchini.  I used shredded carrots, mushrooms, and bok choy stems—what I had on hand.

Another quicker idea for a luncheon spread is to mix tahini (or another favourite seed or nut spread) with grated carrots, nutritional yeast, mayo, and chopped green onions.  For proportions, take a look at “Vegan Sandwich Recipes” on  the Toronto Vegetarian Association website.  As usual, improvising is the way to go.  If you don’t have nutritional yeast on hand, try a small amount of soy sauce and reduce the mayo.

Nutritional  yeast is  sometimes referred to in recipes as brewer’s yeast, torula yeast or engevita yeast—it’s not an active yeast that would be used in bread making.  I used “debittered” brewer’s yeast from a local natural food store. Yeast deepens flavours for spreads, soups, stews, and sauces etc.–it also has nutritional qualities as a source of protein, iron, and vitamin B.   I’ve tried it on popcorn with spices, instead of butter and salt.

Enjoy your vegetarian meals for Meatless Monday–experiment with new foods, but keep it simple!

Meatless Monday Menu Featuring Peanut Noodles and Lasagna–03.21.11

It’s that time again—time to think about what we’ll be eating on Meatless Monday.  If you’d like some inspiration for reducing meat in your diet, take a look at the YouTube video below.

This week, for Meatless Monday lunch, I’ll prepare Peanut Noodles, a favourite in my household.  The recipe is from the American Meatless Monday campaign website. Tasty, hot or cold, this dish can be taken to work, even if there is no microwave. Matchstick cucumbers and carrots add crunch and colour.

For Meatless Monday dinner, I’m cooking a Vegetable Lasagna using a recipe on Food.com as my guide.  I had a craving for a lasagna with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and zucchini— and this one also includes cauliflower.  The author suggests adding an egg substitute (or egg) to the ricotta cheese, presumably as a thickening agent, but I would regard this as optional.

Lasagna variations—There are many types of vegetarian lasagnas to choose from.  Two main categories are white sauce and tomato sauce versions—I’ve chosen one with tomato sauce.  Lasagna recipes come with different vegetable combinations.  Some include spinach or eggplant.  

The Lasagna featured on Meatless Monday, called “Lasagna Floret”, uses broccoli and cauliflower.

Another  Lasagna option is thickening the tomato sauce with crumbled tofu or textured vegetable protein (TVP).

Tip—textured vegetable protein (TVP), a dehydrated soy product, is best purchased organic, in my opinion, due to pesticides and genetic modification of some conventional soy beans—soak the dried flakes in boiling water, drain, and add to the tomato sauce for protein and thickening.

Serving it up–Lasagna is practically a meal-in-one type of dish, including grains, veggies, and protein, but it’s nice to have a fresh salad and perhaps garlic bread on the side.  Enjoy!

In this video, uploaded onto YouTube in the spring of 2009, Dave Way, then President of Earthsave Canada, talks about how animal agriculture is linked to climate change.

Falafels and Eggplant Ratatouille

This weekend I’m pulling out an old favourite cookbook, Nikki & David Goldbeck’s American Wholefoods Cuisine.  I have the first edition, which came out in 1983, but the book is still on the market and came out in a second edition in 2006.

This is a useful book to have on hand, not only because of its complete collection of vegetarian recipes, but also because of its extra features, such as cooking techniques, vegetable chopping tips, and kitchen math information.  It also strives to be healthy—going for high fiber, low fat, low sugar, and low salt concoctions.

Another feature is that each recipe comes with menu suggestions.

What am I Cooking this Weekend?

I cook in advance on the weekend for Monday, for two reasons–I have time to cook on the weekend and  hydro rates are cheapest.  Usually I have leftovers for the rest of the week as well, which is wonderful!

Falafels (chick pea balls) served in pitas, with tahini sauce, and chopped lettuce.  I will be baking and briefly broiling, rather than deep frying the falafels.  The falafels can be made a number of ways:  with canned chickpeas aka garbanzo beans, from scratch with dried chickpeas,  or from a falafel mix.

To go with the falafels, I’ll follow the cookbook menu suggestion, and serve “Israeli Salad”, consisting  of chopped greens, green pepper, green onions, and tomato with a lemony olive oil dressing, and a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese on top.

For dinner, I’ll cook Eggplant Ratatouille, Brown Rice, and Gomasio.  I may also serve some baked beans as a side.  The Ratatouille is a baked vegetable dish with cheese.   Gomasio, ground sesame seeds with salt, can be sprinkled on the rice for additional flavour, protein, and other nutrients.

Other Sources

Falafels, ratatouille, and gomasio are basic recipes with many versions.  To find vegetarian and vegan recipes, look at these websites: Vegweb.com  and Food.com.

 

Power Foods: Green Kale and Orange Vegetables (Ontheland photo)