Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sweet Potato, Chard, and Mushroom Vegan Quesadillas

A recipe and St. Louis vegan news is what I have today! First, the food. This quesadilla is pretty much a meal to itself. I guess the only key food group missing is chocolate. Otherwise, you've got your leafy greens, beans, sweet potatoes, baby bellas, and smoky chipotle. This is one filling quesadilla bursting with goodies. Scroll down for the recipe.

In local veg news, The Vital Voice, a St. Louis progressive newspaper, now features a meat-free lifestyle column called The Vegetarian Voice! You can check out Vegan 101 for my column including a recipe for a saucy Vegetable Curry with Jasmine Rice. If you are a new reader who found your way here from The Vital Voice, welcome! I hope you enjoy looking around and find something good to cook. Until next time everyone!

Sweet Potato, Chard, and Mushroom Vegan Quesadillas
Serves 2

1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces sweet potato, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large chipotle in adobo, minced
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 large cloves garlic, minced
5 baby bella mushrooms, diced
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1 bunch chard, stems discarded, leaves sliced
1/3 cup water
2 whole wheat tortillas
vegan sour cream, optional garnish

Prepare the potatoes by covering with water in a pot and boiling until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain. Mash them in a large bowl using a potato masher, adding chipotle in adobo, 1/2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, kidney beans, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large skillet (with a lid), heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and mushrooms for about 5 minutes, then add cumin, ground chipotle, and salt to taste for about 1 minute. Add chard and 1/3 cup water. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until liquid is reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Spritz one side of a tortilla with extra virgin olive oil. Turn over and on the un-spritzed side spread a thin layer of the sweet potato mixture. On half of the tortilla, spread half of the chard mixture. Then fold the tortilla over so that the stuffings are inside the tortilla like a sandwich. Heat through in a skillet over medium heat, turning several times, until browned. Prepare the second tortilla in the same manner. This recipe makes enough greens for two quesadillas. You will have leftover potatoes. Top each serving with vegan sour cream, optional.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Smoky Vegan Sausage Beer Chili with Quinoa


Life has been busy since we returned from vacation, and it looks like this coming week won't slow down either. But I thought I'd take a little break from other things to share this chili recipe. I left it saucy rather than super thick, which makes it a great partner for quinoa or a grain of your choice. And I loved the Liquid Smoke flavor, so don't skip it if you have some around. Hope you all are having a great weekend!

Smoky Vegan Sausage Beer Chili with Quinoa
Serves 6

1 1/2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
8 ounces vegan sausage (such as Gimme Lean)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, chopped
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 heaping Tablespoons chili powder
12 ounces beer (such as PBR)
15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
15 ounce can garbanzos, rinsed and drained
2 14 1/2 ounce cans diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke
salt and white pepper to taste (black pepper is fine too)
quinoa, prepared according to package
hot sauce (such as Happy Dogs)

Heat 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute sausage until browned, breaking it into crumbles. Set sausage aside in another container. Add 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil to the pot and heat over medium heat. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper, and jalapeno for 5 to 10 minutes, until soft. Add chili powder and saute for another minute. Add sausage, beer, black beans, garbanzos, tomatoes, corn, Liquid Smoke, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, prepare quinoa according to package. Serve chili over quinoa with hot sauce to taste.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Vegan Eats in San Francisco and a Challenge for St. Louis

Savoring a Pink Lemonade (Cranberry-Lemon Thyme Infused Gin, lemon juice, agave, and soda) and a Manhattan while waiting for a spot at Millennium for dinner, MD and I discussed the enormous painting of naked women loosely wrapped in crumpled sheets who gazed down at us in the Hotel California lobby. What were those women thinking, or not thinking, who appeared to me like some kind of Escher drawing gone all soft and sensual. Quotes on California rambled across the wall below the women. Herb Caen amused me with "One day if I do go to heaven, I'll look around and say, It ain't bad, but it ain't San Francisco."

Hours before, our trip began with a visit to the Mission District to check out Latin food and vibrant murals. Papalote's humongous burritos fortified us for our own walking tour of the area. Having just arrived in San Francisco, I was pretty overwhelmed with the menu. Not being accustomed to actual vegan options, I must have asked six times while ordering, "is there a vegan version" and "what's the vegan option?" The staffer patiently replied, "all the options can be vegan." Welcome to San Francisco. I settled on the grilled tofu con achiote, black beans, rice, salsa, and guacamole in a whole wheat tortilla, swearing to order the vegan chorizo at my next opportunity. The food was flavorful, fresh, and filling.

We went on to explore the Mission District, including the Women's Building mural below. It's more amazing than this photo can show. I thought it was kind of cool that another woman tourist was enamored as well, and we shared a moment of awe between shots of the art. MD and I also found Atlas Cafe in the neighborhood, by chance coinciding with the monthly Thursday bluegrass night. We had a few beers and I noticed a cheeseless pizza and tofu sandwich on the menu. The music had our toes tapping, and we found it amusing that bluegrass seemed so foreign to the California crowd. It's pretty common here in Missouri, and I thought the San Francisco folks quickly warmed up to the unfamiliar harmonies and old fashioned tunes.

The next morning we hit Herbivore for a hearty vegan breakfast. Below you see my order of scrambled tofu with spinach, mushrooms, and tomatoes, with house potatoes, toast, and fruit spread. MD gave a big thumbs up to his southwestern scrambled tofu with salsa, house potatoes, black beans, guacamole, vegan sour cream, and corn bread. The space was kind of noisy with lots of hard surfaces, but we were happy with the food.

Saturday morning we hit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. We shared a raw spicy curry wrap of veggies and a sassy nut spread bundled in a big leafy green of some sort. The tables bursting with fresh, colorful produce and herbs made me want to load up some sacks of food and head to my kitchen. We also found these vegan samosas and addictive cilantro chutney. This was a great snack right before the cooking demo by a local cookbook author. While I was somewhat impatient with all her talk about happy cows and hens who produced the ingredients for her cream and egg smothered dish, I did learn about nettles and green garlic from the presentation.


That night, I discovered heaven on Earth, Millennium. See how subtle the facade appears, you would never suspect the awesomeness within.

I quote from the menu, because it doesn't get any better than this:

Black Bean Torte: whole wheat tortilla, caramelized plantains, smoky black bean puree, pumpkin-habanero papazul, cashew sour cream, carrot & onion escabeche.

Mushroom and Walnut Strudel: flaky pastry crust, green garlic mashed potatoes, seared asparagus, herbed green peppercorn cashew cream, blood orange & black olive relish.

Chantenay Carrot Polenta Cake: seared greens, snap peas & smoky tempeh "sausage", orange scented black bean feijoada, aji coconut cream, lime & cilantro soffrito, plantain crisps, coconut cashews.

Chocolate Bread Pudding with Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" and Port (sorry, no fancy menu description, but it was amazing!)

As many of you know, Millennium offers a fine dining experience that's creative, warm, and edgy all at once. The place is vegan and the place is packed. Yes it is.

But wait, there's more! The next day, we headed to Weird Fish for breakfast, and I finally got my fix of vegan chorizo. Contrary to rumors, we didn't have to wait for a seat and it didn't smell fishy. A shotgun space with plenty of dark wood accents and marine decor was brightened by aqua walls and porthole mimicking mirrors. I'd go back for that tofu chorizo scramble with red beans, vegan sour cream, and corn tortillas in a minute.

Across the Golden Gate Bridge, we were amazed by the beauty of the Marin Headlands and Point Bonita Lighthouse area. Here are seals resting and soaking up some rays. We really got lucky with sunny, bright days.


On our way out of the city, we traveled through Berkeley and happened upon Bobby G's Pizzeria for lunch. The restaurant's sign actually includes "vegan" in big letters. Considering that I'd been mysteriously craving pizza the whole trip, which I rarely eat since going vegan, this spot seemed meant to be. Bobby G's offers house made organic soy cheese as an option for any pizza, many vegan salad options, and vegan cookies. Santo Dios! I had the vegan baby greens salad with a tangy balsamic vinaigrette and we shared the vegan Margherita pizza. The crispy crust was topped with a thin layer of tomato sauce and a garlicky, rich soy cheese similar to a tofu ricotta, with a sprinkle of fresh basil. I thought this was absolutely delicious. MD thought that a veggie version would have added more pizzazz, so we'd try some extra toppings next time.

Thank you so much to everyone who left suggestions and well wishes for the trip! There were not enough days to cover the meals we wanted to try. San Francisco offers a delicious variety of vegan meals and I can't wait for St. Louis restaurants to step it up, considering the growing interest in fine vegan dining. St. Louis chefs, are you listening? 'Cause we know it can be done.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Mexican Vegetable Stew with Cilantro Lime Rice


This stew marries Latin flavors such as ground ancho chile, cumin, and Mexican oregano with a bit of tomatillo salsa for a smoky, sweet note. The Cilantro Lime Rice, a delicious tester recipe for Vegan Latina, tasted great with the stew due to the tangy contrast.

We leave soon for a few days in San Francisco! I'm busily bookmarking tourist guides and restaurant menus on my Touch, and my VegOut app is ready to go. Let me know if you have any recommendations for vegan eats I shouldn't miss! I expect to be back to blogging sometime after Wednesday next week. Have a great week everyone!

Mexican Vegetable Stew
Serves 6

1 Tablespoon canola oil
8 ounces seitan, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground ancho chile
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 cups not chick'n broth (or vegetable)
2 cups diced potatoes
2 carrots, sliced into thin half-moons
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice
15 ounces kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add seitan, onion, and bell pepper. Saute about 10 minutes, until soft and everything begins to brown a little.
Add garlic, ancho chile, cumin, and oregano. Saute about 30 seconds.
Add broth, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, beans, and salsa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Simmer about 30 minutes. Remove lid and simmer until the stew thickens, if necessary. Season to taste.

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