Dec 30, 2016

chimichurri potatoes and tofu

As promised, I am taking the recipes from Prep Ahead Week 3 and posting them individually for the folks who would rather not make the entire menu.

If you are as busy as I am and life sometimes serves up plain beans and rice or a simple sandwich, when you'd rather be enjoying a delicious and unique meal, then I highly recommend you give the Prep Ahead menu a try.

The first recipe in the rotation on Week 3 is Chimichurri Potatoes and Tofu.

Typical chimichurri sauce is made with tons of oil and loads of fresh herbs, but I wanted to come up with a recipe that used no oil, but still tasted great.

Instead of the oil, this sauce recipe uses yogurt and tahini. The yogurt offers the body and the tahini offers the richness that would usually be supplied with olive oil. You can still make the sauce using oil, if you'd rather, and Becky Striepe has a terrific recipe over at Glue and Glitter, so I'd head there for a more traditional version.

I used both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes when I made my dish, but you can use one or the other. Press the tofu overnight using a flour sack (just wrap the tofu tightly and set in the fridge) or press it for an hour using a machine.

I air-fried my potatoes and tofu, but you can broil them instead.

Since the tofu and potatoes need a vegetable, I went to my go-to, easy way of cooking up greens, kinpira. This is a very old and traditional way of quick braising vegetables in any flavored broth. I chose a spicy kinpira for this dish to help elevate the chimichurri even more. The veggies are ready in about 5 minutes with minimal fuss.

Serve these with warmed tortillas; use the tortillas as tacos or just use them to scoop up all the goodies.

Chimichurri Potatoes and Tofu
Makes 4 servings

2 (14-ounce) packages firm tofu, rinsed and pressed 1 hour

Chimichurri Sauce:
1/2 cup packed parsley (1/2 bunch)
1/2 cup packed cilantro (1/2 bunch)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoon unsweetened plain vegan yogurt or olive oil
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 pounds potatoes, any kind

1 pound bok choy
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable broth

4 tortillas, warmed

1. Make sure to press the tofu first. Preheat the air-fryer at 450-degrees F. If not using air-fryer, preheat the broiler if needed.
2. For the sauce, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, water, vinegar, yogurt, tahini and chili flakes in a food processor. Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. Cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch wedges. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch slices. Cut the slices of tofu into 1-inch pieces. Toss 3/4 of the sauce with the potatoes and tofu. Add them to a baking sheet or air-fryer basket and cook until crisp and tender, about 15 to 25 minutes. 
4. For the kinpira: Chop the bok choy. Add it to a large pot. Add the minced garlic and chili flakes. Add 2 tablespoons broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until tender and the broth has reduced. 
5. Serve the potatoes, tofu, vegetables and warmed tortillas with the rest of the sauce.

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


Dec 29, 2016

prep ahead week 3

Last week I shared my idea of preparing a week of meals on one day and then finishing them on the day that you actually eat the meal. This has been working really well for my family of four and I find that even when I am really tired I can have dinner on the table within a half hour with minimal work.

Last week the menu consisted of 7 meals. This week I am reconsidering the 7 as too many meals for the average family. A day or two a week might be devoted to a special meal that you would like to put more time into or it could be a family favorite meal or leftovers or going out to eat.

This week's meal prep ahead consists of 5 meals. Since I cut two meals I am also alternating seitan and tofu instead of including them on each rotation.

Again, the meals are mostly whole foods, little or no oil (you decide) and are complete with grain, protein and green vegetable. They are also complete in the sense that there is a shopping list which includes the recommended accompaniments to the meals, such as bread or crackers.

In addition, I am also breaking out the recipes in the week ahead. Meaning that I will feature each of these recipes as their own separate recipe (apart from the Prep Ahead recipe) so you can make just a single recipe instead of the whole week, if you choose.

Meal 1 is Chimichurri Potatoes and Tofu. Becky Striepe of Glue and Glitter posted a chimichurri recipe a few weeks ago and I have one in my book Vegan Bowls [AMAZON] and I love it! But chimichurri uses a lot of oil and I wanted to come up with a recipe that was equally good without all the oil.

Chimichurri Potatoes and Tofu with Spicy Bok Choy Kinpira

Meal 2 is Pickled Vegetables Salad. This is my riff on Giardiniera but using homemade pickled cauliflower. It is also like a bean salad, but, again, using oil is optional. After pickling the cauliflower and assembling the bean salad, you can stash it until ready to eat. Then roast the cauliflower before adding it to the salad - it is a treat. [I cut the seitan from this dish, but it is in the pic.]

Pickled Vegetables and Beans on a bed of greens.
Meal 3 is Sriracha Artichoke Rolls. These are like the seafood rolls, but instead of mayo, the dressing is made of yogurt. If you like mayo better, sub it. The filling is chickpeas and artichokes. It is served on regular whole grain buns with a side of fresh green salad.

Sriracha Artichoke Rolls with chickpeas and a fresh green salad with homemade vinaigrette. 
Meal 4 is Char Siu Pizza. Mushrooms, bell pepper strips and cannellini beans are tossed with homemade char siu sauce. The pizza sauce itself isn't just regular tomato sauce, but instead has a wonderful kick. Certainly not your ordinary pizza night, but still easy and quick on the day of. This dough is homemade and uses all-purpose flour, but I am working on a whole grain version. In the meantime, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's both have whole grain pizza dough available.

Char Sui Pizza with shiitake, beans, green peppers and steamed chard.  
Meal 5 is Curried Chickpea Soup with rice and spinach. Curried flavors infuse this warm and delicious soup. Rice offers a wonderful body and richness and it is warm and filling on a cold winter night. This is served with Seasoned Pita Wedges.

Curried Chickpea Soup with toasted rice, spinach and served with Seasoned Pita Wedges.
It takes about 2 hours to prepare these meals on a single day and they are ready in about 30 minutes on the day that you are serving them.

PDFs below are the Overview of the meals (basically what will happen throughout the week), Shopping List (all the ingredients are listed so check over it and cross out what you already have), Prep Day Instructions (follow in the order given for speed and efficiency), Prep Day Recipes (these are the recipes that are called for in the Instructions) and Day-of Recipes (cut these in half and staple them together in the order you plan to serve the meals).


Shopping List

Prep Day Instructions

Prep Day Recipes

Day-of Recipes

Dec 20, 2016

prep ahead + winners of "the essential vegan travel guide"

Greetings all! Hope everyone is enjoying the ending of another year. I am so into learning about the patters of history and what brings us to where we are now, that I highly recommend The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe [AMAZON]; it turns out that we are on the cusp of a recurring Crisis. Very interesting!

I'm not into apocalypse theories so this one is really up my alley. Crisis doesn't mean the end of the world; it means a huge change that is measurable, especially in hindsight.

With that in mind - get your travel on while you can! The winners of the giveaway for The Essential Vegan Travel Guide [AMAZON] are....

US winner (of the paperback): Comment number one. Kellyanne, please contact me by December 28 with your mailing address.

International winner (of the Kindle edition): Comment number two, a bunch of random numbers and letters. Again, please contact me by December 28.

Congratulations to you both! zsu [at] zsusveganpantry [dot] com

It's been hard to miss that I've been cracking my head over how to make dinner faster, to the point that I've tried Dump Dinners (very limited in terms of possibilities) and I've tried Pantry+ recipes, but my pantry is not your pantry and let's face it, I doubt anyone actually follows pantry recommendations.

I do want to make meals faster, but I also want to make them healthy and use whole foods as much as possible. To that end, I created a few weeks of menus (testing things out before springing it on you) and I've come up with Prep Ahead.

Take one day, mine is Wednesday because CSA gets delivered on Tuesday, but if you work outside the house, that might mean Sunday, and use it as the Prep Day. Of course, pick whatever day works best for you.

Use the Prep Day to prepare whatever is possible to prepare up to 6 days in advance. A few recipes have night before prep required, but you can do that while you are finishing the daily meal.

The menu is varied, includes soy and seitan, each once a week. One pasta, a few bean recipes, a salad, a soup and a sandwich. All the meals are balanced, with grain, greens and protein.

Prep Ahead Week 2 consists of Italian Mushroom Ragu served over pasta (or rice, if you like). This is a slow cooker meal and I recommend serving it on Prep Day. It makes dinner ready when you are.

Meal 2 is Curried Chickpea Sandwich served with Bok Choy and Carrot Kinpira. Kinpira is an easy and flavorful way to cook vegetables fast. The vegetables are braised in a flavorful liquid and are ready in about 5 minutes.

Meal 3 is Chili Corn Chowder. This is another slow cooker recipe. Chowder and Chili meet forces to create a warm and hearty meal. Serve it with tortillas, tortilla chips or crackers. 

Meal 4 is Steak Salad. Cook up the prepared seitan you made on Prep Day and serve it warm over a bed of greens. It is served with Garlic Yogurt dressing and crostini - which is fancy talk for toasted bread. 

Meal 5 is Mexican Lasagna. Tortillas are baked with a vegetable and bean loaded filling. Serve with vegan sour cream or salsa and loads of radishes and jalapenos (if you like heat.)

Meal 6 is Brussels Sprouts and Balsamic Pasta. This pasta dish is brimming with roasted Brussels sprouts that are finished cooking in balsamic vinegar and served with black beans and walnuts. 

And Meal 7 is Souvlaki of tofu and zucchini served with Rice Pilaf and Spinach. Yogurt-marinated tofu and zucchini sit on top of a bed of deliciously toasty rice pilaf. This interpretation of the Greek dish is highly addictive. 

If you are game to try this Prep Ahead Menu, I have prepared a shopping list, what to do on the Prep Day, what to do on the Day-of serving and all the recipes to make this go as fast and smooth as possible. All the documents are in PDF. 

I recommend you print out the Day-of Recipes and cut the pages in half. Staple them together in the order you are planning to serve them.

Overview [comprehensive look at what is going on].

Dec 7, 2016

southwestern strata

Been busy little bees these past few weeks. My son has just completed applying to graduate school in an area that accepts woefully few applicants. He is an amazing film director, so he does have an excellent shot at it, but it's all a craps shoot.

I am posting his latest film at the bottom of this post. It's really good and I'd love your opinion about it, if you're game.

For the post this day, I am sharing a Southwestern Strata recipe. It is a perfect brunch recipe!

Strata is an interesting dish. It is supposed to be layers of white bread alternated with layers of cheese, then soaked in a milk mixture and baked. This is the very original version of strata.

Since then the milk mixture has been augmented with eggs to give it a custard-like texture and the the layers now are not so much layers, per say, as additions mixed in.

Mix-ins now can include, vegetables, meats and various types of cheeses. This being a southwestern version, it uses cornbread as the bread (I used the Cornbread Muffin recipe in Everyday Vegan Eats. Delicious!), and a homemade queso fresco (recipe coming this month).

It also includes sauteed peppers, onions and cilantro. I added spiced chorizo chickpeas since there is aquafaba in the batter anyway.

The batter is where it gets interesting. Because I fell in love with the bread pudding recipe in my cookbook Aquafaba [AMAZON], I wanted to make a savory version and this is the result. The aquafaba mixed with psyllium husk (cannot be omitted) and starch, results in a custard.

Mix, let the batter soak into the bread and bake. Serve it with some inspired tomato sauce and dig in.

As promised, here is Mikel's WE-System short film:


In case you missed it, I am hosting a giveaway for The Essential Vegan Travel Guide. My girls used it this summer when traveling in Europe and it is amazing! Go enter the contest or, better yet, pick up a copy! Contest ends December 19.

Southwestern Strata
Serves about 6

Chorizo Chickpeas:
1 cup chickpeas
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
6 cups stale cornbread (cut into 1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup crumbled vegan cheese, optional (Kite Hill or Follow Your Heart block is good or use homemade)

6 tablespoons aquafaba**
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups unsweetened plain nondairy milk
1 teaspoon psyllium husk powder

1. Preheat the oven to 450-degrees F. Combine the chickpeas, broth, vinegar, oil, chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika and salt on a baking sheet. Mix well and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper and onion to the skillet. Cover and cook until the onion is browning, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add a splash of broth if the onion is beginning to burn. Using a cover will prevent too much evaporation and help brown the vegetables without oil.
3. Add the aquafaba to a blender. With the blender running on medium speed, add the oil slowly. Add the milk in a steady stream (doesn’t have to be slowly) and the psyllium. Blend for 20 seconds. Add to a large bowl.
4. Add the cornbread, cilantro, cheese (if using) and reserved chickpeas. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes. Add to a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish and bake in a 325-degree oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside for 10 minutes to firm up. Serve.

** Although aquafaba is best if homemade using the recipe provided in the book, you can use aquafaba from canned chickpeas. Use the organic, low-sodium, canned chickpeas and strain off the liquid into a measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer. Note the amount of liquid you acquired, then add it to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid reduces by 1/3. Cool the aquafaba completely before using.

© 2016 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.