Lentil Loaf

Lentil Loaf

From November 15, 2005:  This recipe is a favorite of many members of The Feral Vegetarian group.   After reading so many positive comments about this recipe, i finally got around to trying it…..not bad at all.  Two hints:  1.  Make sure to cook the lentils until they are tender (this may take longer than the recipe states).  I didn’t (I only cooked them 20 minutes) and they were a tad bit on the crunchy side in the final product.  2.  Once baked and out of the oven, let the Lentil Loaf sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing…this helps it set up better and not fall part when sliced.  I didn’t do this and my slice broke into pieces….tasted fine, didn’t make for a good picture.  Leftovers make good sandwiches.

I made mashed potatoes and a mushroom gravy to go with the Lentil Loaf.  The gravy was easy…..I sauteed sliced white button mushrooms in about 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and then added  2 tablespoons of flour once the mushrooms were cooked.  Then I whisked in 2 cups of hot vegetable broth, stirring until thickened.  Ta-da.

Lentil Loaf

1 cup lentils
3 cup vegetable broth
2 cup oats
1 cup ketchup
2 heaping tablespoon nayonaise (regular mayonnaise works fine)
1 tablespoon vegetarian worchestershire sauce
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Bring the broth to a boil and add lentils. Simmer 20 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in oats, 3/4 cup ketchup, nayonaise, worchestershire sauce, soy sauce, garlic, almonds, and 1/2 cup water. Stir well and place in a greased loaf pan. Top with remaining ketchup and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy,and a green vegetable.

Spicy Southwestern Collard Greens Soup

spicy collards soup


I created this soup the other day to use some collards I had. I’m convinced I’m a genius….this soup is amazing. I used a hot salsa verde (and a serrano chile) and my soup was really spicy (just the way I like it), but you can use a mild salsa verde and omit the chile if you don’t like things that hot. I’m sure black beans instead of pinto beans would work well. Chopped zucchini would be good in this too, just add it at the same time with the beans and hominy. I have made this soup without the salsa verde and it’s still good (although it’s better with the salsa verde).

Spicy Southwestern Collard Greens Soup

2 T. olive oil
medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups vegetable broth
small bunch of collard greens, washed, ribbed, and chopped
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5 oz.) can hominy, drained and rinsed
1 (7 oz.) can salsa verde
1 jalapeno or serrano, seeded and minced (optional)
1/2 cup corn
1/2 tsp. cumin
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook until tender.  Add vegetable broth and collards, bring to a boil and cook 15 minutes.  Add beans, hominy, salsa verde, chile pepper, corn, and cumin.  Let the soup simmer until the collards are tender and the rest of the ingredients are heated through, about 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Dressing Dumpling Soup

dressing dumpling soup

From November 30, 2005:  I made this soup using the left-over cornbread dressing from Thanksgiving. It was delicious. Of course this soup can be modified depending on what ingredients you have handy. You can add shredded left-over turkey to the soup toward the end of cooking (when you add the zucchini) if you eat turkey. My friend, Donna made my soup and used dandelion greens instead of kale. She said it was wonderful. This soup is an excuse to make dressing more often.

Dressing Dumpling Soup

1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup kale, finely chopped
6 cups vegetable broth
1 zucchini, chopped
salt and pepper
2 T. cilantro, chopped

Heat olive oil in soup pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, and carrot and cook until softened. Add kale and broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and simmer another 10 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Right before serving, throw in cilantro (or parsley if you don’t like cilantro).

To serve, heat a scoop of dressing in the soup bowl in the microwave. Ladle the soup over the dressing and serve.

Double Corn Muffins

double corn muffins

From October 14, 2005:  I made these last night to go with dinner.  They were very sweet and may be better with/for breakfast rather than with a savory meal.  This recipe makes 24 muffins. I cut the recipe in half.  The batter was very thick and I’m not sure if it was because I halved the recipe (and maybe miscalculated) or if that’s how it was supposed to be.  The corn kernels in the muffins get all chewy and sweet (and stick in your teeth) and tastes really good.

Double Corn Muffins

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup corn or canola oil
3/4 cup white or turbinado sugar
3 T. honey
3 cups flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 2 12-cup muffin pans or line with paper liners.

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, oil, sugar, and honey together till fluffy.  In a second bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the butter mixture alternately with the milk.  Mix on low speed just till blended.  Stir in the corn.  Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full, and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Best served hot and fresh, with butter and honey.

Black Bean Tortilla Soup

Black Bean Tortilla Soup

black bean tortilla soup

From December 15, 2005:  This is a recipe I revamped and prepared last night.  It was yummy.  I didn’t bother to strain the black beans, but will probably do that next time to remove the skins.  Next time, I will also add some cumin.  I roasted a serrano chile along with the onion and garlic.  It added a nice little heat to the soup.  I think a fresh pico de gallo (with tomato, onion, chile, cilantro, and lime juice) would make an excellent topping for this soup.  Avocado slices would be good too.  Feel free to add more vegetable stock if you like a thinner soup.

Black Bean Tortilla Soup

1 1/4 cups ( 1/2 pound) rinsed dried black beans (not soaked)
1 sprig epazote, optional
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, peeled and halved
4 cups vegetable stock
6 corn tortillas
Oil for frying
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
12 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (monterey jack or pepper jack works fine too)

1. Put the beans in a large pot and add 2 quarts water and the epazote, if using. Bring to a boil, cover almost completely and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.  Season to taste with salt.

2. In batches, purée the beans with cooking liquid in a blender. Strain back into the large pot; discard the bean skins.

3. Roast the garlic and onion in a hot (cast iron) skillet until spotted with brown. Purée the garlic and onion in a blender with 1/2 cup of the vegetable stock.  Add to the bean purée.

4. Add the remaining vegetable stock to the strained black bean purée. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt.

5. Cut the tortillas in half and cut each half into thin strips. Heat one-half inch oil in a small skillet, add the tortilla pieces a few at a time and fry, turning at least once, for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

6. To serve, ladle soup into bowls.  Top with tortilla strips, cilantro and cheese.

Crisp Vietnamese Shrimp Fingers with Fresh Herbs

Crisp Vietnamese Shrimp Fingers with Fresh Herbs

shrimp fingers

From December 31, 2005:  These are sooooo amazing (and addictive)!  They are so worth the time it takes to prepare them.  To ensure success in making these shrimp rolls, make sure to use the small wonton wrappers (not the bigger ones meant for eggrolls).  Also make sure to finely chop the water chestnuts (I usually skip the blanching step….laziness) so they don’t clog the pastry bag or plastic bag during piping.  If you can’t find Thai basil, use sweet basil instead.  Sometimes I add a little hot water to the Nuoc Cham to extend it some and to also diffuse the fish sauce flavor a bit (which I love), especially if I’m serving this to people who aren’t used to the strong flavors.

Crisp Vietnamese Shrimp Fingers with Fresh Herbs

2/3 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, drained, and patted dry
1/2 cup canned whole water chestnuts, blanched in boiling water for 10 seconds, refreshed under cold running water, drained, blotted dry and chopped

For the seasonings:
1 1/2 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 T. minced scallion whites
1 1/2 T. rice wine or sake
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 T. cornstarch

To form and fry the rolls:
25 wonton skins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 cups oil

To serve:
2 heads Boston lettuce, cored, trimmed, leaves separated, pressed to flatten, rinsed, drained, and arranged in a basket or a bowl
Vietnamese nuoc cham for dipping (recipe follows)
1 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, cut into fine shreds and placed in a small bowl

Place the shrimp in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process into a paste.  Transfer to a large bowl, add the water chestnuts and seasoning, and stir vigorously in one direction until the mixture forms a stiff paste.  Refrigerate, if possible, for 2 hours so the the mixture becomes firm.

Fill a pastry bag without a tip with the shrimp mixture.  You could also use a plastic storage bag with a corner snipped off.  Spread out the wonton wrappers on a counter.  Pipe a strip of the shrimp paste 1/4 inch from the edge, running from top to bottom, of one wrapper.  Using your finger or a brush, spread a little beaten egg along the opposite edge.  Roll over the skin to enclose the shrimp paste and continue rolling to form a cylinder.  Press lightly to seal the seam.  Don’t roll to tightly, or the skin will split while frying.  Repeat with the remaining filling and skins.

Heat a wok or a large heavy skillet over high heat until very hot.  Add the oil and heat to 375 degrees F.  Deep fry the shrimp rolls in batches without crowding, turning constantly, until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove with a handled strainer or slotted spoon and drain briefly in a colander, then transfer to paper towels.

Arrange the rolls on a serving platter and serve with the dipping sauce.  To eat, sprinkle some basil on a lettuce leaf, roll up a shrimp finger in the lettuce, and eat with your fingers.

The rolls can be reheated in a pre-heated oven 375 degree F. oven until crisp and piping hot, about 10 minutes.

Nuoc Cham

1 tsp. crushed red pepper
juice of 3 limes or 2 lemons
1 T. minced garlic
3 T. sugar
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 T. grated carrots

Soak the crushed red pepper in the citrus juice for several minutes.  Add the garlic, sugar, and fish sauce an stir to dissolve the sugar.

Transfer to a serving container, add the grated carrots, and serve at room temperature.  Refrigerated, the sauce will keep in a tightly covered container for up to 5 days.

Recipe source:  Asian Wraps by Nina Simonds (William Morrow, 2000)

Jamaican Coat of Arms (Hot Jamaican Rice)

Jamaican Coat of Arms (Hot Jamaican Rice)

jamaican coat of arms

I thought this dish would turn out to be very hot.  I used two habaneros, pierced a few times each with a sharp knife and thought they would produce a heat level on the cusp of “unbearable”.  I don’t know if my taste buds are just totally fried off, but it didn’t have the spicy heat I expected.  I could taste the wonderful habanero flavor in the rice, but not the fire.  I ended up mincing the habaneros and mixing them into the rice once it had finished cooking and that gave me the kick I wanted (although I didn’t find it to be unbearable).  I was thinking that I had unknowingly picked up some of those Texas Aggie habaneros that are bred for flavor but have a greatly reduced heat level(and don’t get me started on that atrocity!)…but then my hubby ate a spoonful of the Hot Jamaican Rice thinking that the orange bits were carrots.  He screamed at me for 20 minutes about not warning him that he was about to eat the hottest bleepin’ thing he had ever had in his entire bleepin’ life. Opps!  So, apparently, my taste buds ARE fried.  Anyway, I really enjoyed this dish, it has an amazing flavor.  But be warned….if you don’t remove the chiles before eating, it just may be the hottest thing you ever ate.

Jamaican Coat of Arms (Hot Jamaican Rice)

1 cup dried small red beans (or black-eyed peas)
1 can (15 oz.)unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups long-grain rice
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
1 whole Scotch bonnet chile, or a 1-inch long whole habanero or any other very hot whole chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pour beans into a colander; pick over them and discard any pebbles, debris or malformed beans. Rinse beans thoroughly with cold running water. Place beans in a large pot and soak them overnight in enough water to cover.

Drain beans, return them to the pot, and add 4 cups of water. Bring the beans to a boil, covered, over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer the beans until they are not quite tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk, rice, diced onions, garlic, chile pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Simmer the rice and beans, covered, until the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the chile pepper and serve at once.

Penne Pasta with Spinach and Feta Cheese

From March 6, 2006:  I made this quick and easy pasta dish for dinner tonight. I loved the sunflower seeds in it! I did things a little bit different than the recipe states. As soon as the spinach wilted a bit, I added the cooked penne and the feta cheese to the mixture and tossed it all together in the pan. I used the Barilla Penne Plus which is a great tasting multi-grain pasta, which contains more fiber and protein than regular pasta, and even has omega-3 fatty acids. The next time I make this recipe, I will use chopped fresh rosemary instead of the dried. Tonight, without thinking, I measured out the dried rosemary and dumped it into the pan without first picking out the woody stems and crushing it a bit in the palm of my hand. I want to thank PT, list mom of The Feral Vegetarian for sharing this recipe.

Penne Pasta with Spinach and Feta Cheese

1/4 cup sunflower seeds
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. sea salt ~ or to taste
1/2 bunch spinach, washed and chopped
1 pound penne pasta
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

Saute seeds and garlic in the olive oil for 2 minutes. Add herbs and spices, and stir. Add spinach and tomatoes, cooking until the greens wilt down a bit, about 2 minutes. Serve over penne pasta, cooked al dente. Crumble feta cheese over top before serving.

Applesauce Nut Bread

Applesauce Nut Bread

applesauce bread

From March 14, 2006:  This applesauce bread was very quick to make and not too sweet  It was good without nuts too.  I baked this bread in mini loaf pans and the cooking time was about 25 minutes…just check for doneness with a toothpick.  Next time I will sub in some whole wheat flour.  I bet you could make some killer peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with this bread. 

Applesauce Nut Bread

2 C. flour
3/4 C. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 C. chopped nuts
1 egg
1 C. applesauce
2 T. melted butter

Combine all dry ingredients, including nuts. In a separate bowl, beat egg, then combine with applesauce and melted butter. Add dry ingredients to applesauce mixture and stir until blended. Place in a greased loaf pan and bake at 350º for one hour. Cool before slicing.

Hoisin Eggplant Balls

Hoisin Eggplant Balls

hoisin eggplant balls

From November 8, 2005:  I made these last night and they were fabulous.  Great appetizers for Thanksgiving and all the parties that are coming up.  I squirted a bit more hoisin sauce decoratively on the serving plate for fun.

I added an additional step when preparing this recipe….I chopped the eggplant pulp after squeezing out the excess liquid because it was kind of stringy (perhaps I didn’t bake the eggplant long enough).  Don’t forget to scrape the garlic in with the egglant pulp. 🙂

Hoisin Eggplant Balls

1 large eggplant
3 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup ground peanuts
1/4 cup tahini
2 T. fresh parsley, minced
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs (or more as needed)
3 T. hoisin sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cut 6 slits into the eggplant and place a piece of garlic in each slit.  Place eggplant on lightly oiled baking sheet and bake until soft, about 45 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees if you plan on baking the eggplant balls.

Halve the cooked eggplant and scrape out the pulp.  Squeeze the pulp between the palms of your hands to remove excess liquid.  Place pulp in a bowl.  Add the ground peanuts, tahini, parsley, salt, and pepper.  Blend well.  Add just enough bread crumbs to hold mixture together when shaped into balls.  Roll the mixture into 1 – 1 1/2 inch balls and coat with bread crumbs.

Bake eggplant balls on lightly oiled baking sheet until browned and firm, about 20 minutes.  OR  Fry eggplant balls in batches in 1/4 inch hot oil over medium-high until browned on all sides, about 2 – 4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.

Place eggplant balls in a bowl with hoisin sauce and stir gently to coat. Skewer with toothpicks and serve at once.

Recipe source:  The Meat and Potatoes Vegetarian Cookbook by Robin Robertson (Harvard Common Press, 2002).