Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vegan Spicy 'Tuna' Rolls

This is totally awesome. I call them spicy tu-no rolls and I tell ya, you will never know the difference.

The majority of living 'vegan-ish' hasn't been a problem. Meat has never intrigued me, even when I ate it. The cheese? Well, yes that was difficult. Ok, it's still difficult, but I get by.

The sushi? Now that is another story. I lurve sushi. I lurve the experience of going to a sushi restaurant. I lurve sake bombs.

So not enjoying that experience is a disappointment to me. But then I came up with this idea. Last night. And y'all know how much I love the ability to make things myself, so why did it take me so long to figure it out? Lordy, I don't know but I kick myself for not turning the light bulb on sooner.

Introduce La Pure Mama's sushi house. Vegan sushi.


I don't pretend to be a crackerjack sushi roller but I'm no novice either. Little known fact: Once, in a past life, I rolled sushi for a party of over 200. Not to toot my own horn.


BUT, if you don't want to roll, make a lovely stack, as pictured above. Equally delicious without the task of rolling. Call it a spicy tu-no sushi stack.

Moving on. If you know that the rice is a massively important component to a successful end result. In order to create success, I referred to my good friend Google once again. Low and behold, it led me directly to my super secret scientific foodie 'boyfriend', Alton Brown.

If you read here often, you already know that my vision board revolves around guest starring on Alton's show. And if I'm not awesome enough to have my face shown, I am happy to be the hand that appears out of nowhere or Alton's Aunt Mable. I'm flexible.

So for the rice, here is Alton's recipe, straight up, because I'm not messing with it.
And it's awesome! (duh.)


Need:
2 cups sushi or short grain rice
2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Do:
Place the rice into a mixing bowl and cover with cool water. Swirl the rice in the water, pour off and repeat 2 to 3 times or until the water is clear.

Place the rice and 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to boil, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.


Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl and heat in the microwave on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Transfer the rice into a large wooden or glass mixing bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Allow to cool to room temperature before using to make sushi or sashimi.


For the 'tu-no' filling

Need:
1/2 block firm tofu
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
1 Tablespoon Bragg's liquid aminos
2-3 Tablespoons sriracha 'rooster' sauce
1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

Additional items:
Sushi mat
A bit of saran wrap
1/4 english cucumber, julienned
1/4 avocado, julienned
Seaweed wrappers

Do:
Crumble tofu and add liquid smoke and braggs. Stir to combine and let sit for at least 30 minutes but up to overnight, in the refrigerator.

Remove from refrigerator and add sriracha and agave nectar. Note: as far as the sriracha goes, add more or less depending on your desired heat level. We like it spicy so I ended up with a little over 3 Tablespoons, I think.

Set tofu mix aside and prep the rest of your ingredients.

To roll, begin by spreading a thin layer of rice (thin) atop your seaweed wrapper. For a regular roll, continue by spreading a thin layer of the tofu mix across the end of your roll. The end closest to you.

Top that with any combination of the following: a thin layer of julienned cucumber, a thin layer of julienned avocado, a thin layer of both the cucumber and avocado.

Note: when adding your fillings, less is more. If you add too much, your roll will be too large to roll.

To roll, begin by rolling filling side first, pressing and rolling as you go, until it is a tight, complete roll. Slice roll in the middle first, then work your way out on each side, creating about 1/2 inch thick rolls.

For an inside out roll, start the same way, by spreading the rice on the seaweed wrapper. Instead of adding your filling, top with a piece of saran wrap then flip. Add your filling to the seaweed wrapper side, just as you would have with a regular roll.
Slice as noted above.

It may seem like a daunting process, and as I said, I am no expert, but if you have questions, comment or email me and I will help!




So worth it, simpler than you think and a very fun treat.

Enjoy!

Tofu

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tofu Zucchini Dip

I love 'fun food' night. Appetizer night. Party food night. Nights where we don't eat a 'meal', necessarily. Instead we enjoy a veritable smorgasboard of finger food for dinner. Healthy finger food.

I made this dip for Noodle Nose's birthday party and it was devoured and loved by all. At that party I did (purposely) fail to mention the fact that it was made with tofu in order to prevent a spontaneous revolt from the carnivores. I find they tend to enjoy it much more when I don't volunteer the 'T' word. It's all in their head.


This time around I had to make it again because it went so fast I didn't get a chance to take a picture of it. That and I wanted to have some myself.

This dip is the most perfect way to get your protein fix while simultaneously satisfying the need to consume (presumably unhealthy) party food. It's good for you! But it doesn't taste like it. Awesome.

The tang of the garlic, paired with the perfectly sauteed zucchini, all held together with the satisfying tofu 'ricotta'. It's a winner even with the carnivores. Perfect.


Note: remember the 'ricotta' from the vegan manicotti and vegetable lasagne? This 'ricotta' is a version of the tofu ricotta used in both of those recipes.

Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 medium zucchinis, grated (use the large holed grater, you want some texture)
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
About 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

For the 'ricotta'
1 package firm tofu
1/2 cup raw pecan pieces
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 teaspoon salt, give or take
2 Tablespoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped or smashed

Do:
Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add garlic. Let cook for about two minutes on med/high heat.

Reduce heat a bit to medium and add grated zucchini. Let cook, stirring occassionally.

While zucchini cooks, combine all ricotta ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until very smooth.

To your zucchini, add sage leaves and pepper. Stir and let cook for another two minutes or so, until sage leaves and zucchini are soft.

Turn off heat and add entire zucchini combination to your ricotta in the food processor. Pulse to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed, if needed.

Serve:
Transfer to a pretty serving bowl and serve alongside crackers, carrots, cucumber and red bell peppers.

You can also use it as a base for many other recipes, as you will see in an upcoming post.

It is so simple to make, tastes like a creamy artery clogging dip and packs enough protein to keep you full for hours.

Enjoy!
Zucchini

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Handmade Vegan Sausages

I have this thing with buying items in the grocery store that I can make myself. 'Thrifty' side reasons with 'convenience' side and it usually goes something like this:

Thrifty: 'Oh! proooojeeect! You can save the $4.99 and make it yourself. And it will be fun!'

Convenience: 'Um, you may think you have time to do this but in actuality you are far busier than you used to be. Also? your time is worth way more than the effort it will take to make it yourself. Spend the $4.99 lady. Oh, also? It won't be that fun.'

Who wins? Usually thrifty. Depends on my mood though.

This little project though, was one I definitely wanted to take on. My delicious tomato vodka sauce and homemade pasta were just screaming for some sweet italian sausage.


For a little inspiration I turned to my good friend Google. True to form, the Googs directed me to yet another lovely blog that I highly suggest you check out. Vegan Epicurean not only had a great seitan sausage recipe, there are many others to check out. Super fantastic.

The sausages were very easy to make and turned out fabulous. Just like Tofurky's vegan sausages as far as texture and look; what I love about making your own is you aren't held down by their limited variety. Let yourself go and create any flavor you want.


Adapted from Vegan Epicurean

Need:
4 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons agave nectar
2 cups bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons fennel seed
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon sea salt
10 oz vital wheat gluten

8 squares of tin foil, for rolling sausages (you can cut larger pieces down if necessary)

Do:
In a blender, combine garlic, vinegar, water and agave nectar. Blend until smooth.

Pour into a large bowl and add the bread crumbs. Stir until crumbs have fully absorbed the liquid. Add fennel, paprika, pepper and salt and stir to combine.

To your mix add the vital wheat gluten and knead to form a dough. Add more water by the tablespoon if necessary. The consistency you are looking for is a wet dough that is easy to knead. It should be softer than if you are creating a seitan roast.

Form your dough into a ball and cut in half. Cut each of those halves in half then cut each of those in half to create 8 balls.

Roll each ball out into a (about) 5-6 inch long sausage shape. Roll each sausage into a piece of tin foil, folding the ends of the foil on top to seal.

Using a large-ish pot and steamer, steam your sausages for 15 minutes with the lid on the pot. After 15 minutes, reduce heat to low and steam for another 15 minutes then turn off the heat.

Let sausages cool in the tin foil for about 10 minutes then remove.


Serve:
From here I continued with my recipe. These are also great barbecued or sauteed.

The lovely thing about these sausages is you can include any herb or spice you want, resulting in complete control of the 'flavor' of your sausages.

Give it a try and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fluffy Vegan Pancakes

Fluffy vegan birthday pancakes. Yes, Noodle Nose's birthday celebration continues. These were from his actual birthday but every year his birthday ends up being more of a birthmonth. This used to concern me but now I really don't care.

Tolley's birthday present came in the mail on Friday and so just when I think we're winding down, it all starts over. He loved her gi-normous present and lurved the gi-normous box it came in almost as much. We had to play the totally awesome game of 'heymom,I'llgetintheboxandyouclosethelidandpretendyoudon'tknowit'smeandthenandopenitanditwillbeme!!!!!' about forty-two times. And then dad came home and he had to play it another forty-two times.


To celebrate Noodle's actual birthday I made some delicious fluffy vegan pancakes. And because of Friday's impromptu 'party' with Tolley's present and 'the box' and all the tissue paper and wrapping that was inside the box, I decided we should continue to celebrate with more pancakes. And this time I added blueberries... oh yeah.


These pancakes are lovely. Fluffy and light, simple to make and versatile enough to add whatever you want to them. They're perfect for a birthday celebration, plain old Saturday morning or when you're craving a good old 'brennir', that's breakfast for dinner, folks.

Yield: about 6 to 8 medium sized pancakes

Need:
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup spelt flour (can also use whole wheat)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup vanilla soy milk (can also use plain)
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Earth Balance spread, for cooking

Optional add-ins:
Blueberries
Bananas
Chocolate chips
Marshmallows (yes, we have done it)
Green onion, for a savory pancake
Garlic

Do:
Heat a flat skillet or electric griddle to medium heat. Add a couple small pats of Earth Balance and let it melt slowly. This will help prevent sticking. Note: ensure you give your pan/griddle plenty of time to warm up.

While pan is heating, pull out a medium bowl and combine all dry ingredients. Mix well with a fork to ensure proper blending of ingredients then set aside.

In a smaller bowl, combine soy milk, vegetable oil and vanilla. Stir well to combine.

If you are adding optional ingredients such as blueberries, which we did in one batch, add them in with the wet ingredients and stir again.

Once your pan/griddle is ready to go, combine wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir well using a spatula. Don't whip it too much though, otherwise you will kill the fluff.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring spoon, scoop and pour batter onto pan/griddle. Note: the batter is fairly thick. Feel free to 'spread' the pancake just a tad. Let pancakes cook on the first side until little bubbles form on the uncooked side, then flip and let the other side cook.

Repeat for all remaining batter.

Serve:
On a plate, add a little pat of Earth Balance if you so choose, then finish with your pancake topping of choice.

We simply use agave nectar but you could also do powdered sugar, maple syrup, homemade jam of any flavor or just enjoy them plain, as I often do.


Serve them for someone you love and enjoy them together!




Wheat Flour




 



Blueberry



Sunday, February 13, 2011

Squash Kale and Red Onion Pasta

I used to operate under the impression that every post here should take hours upon hours of planning, preparation and execution, resulting in a perfectly posed photograph of a plate that looks more like art than dinner.

However, as I continue on my simultaneous quest to feed my family and create content for this blog I have decided that not everything posted here has to be incredibly intricate, detailed and/or time consuming. In fact, every day life meals aren't that at all.

I have taken that to heart, preparing nutritious, fun and mostly simple meals that are also beautiful. Sometimes plates are artfully stacked, each ingredient precariously teetering on the next and finished with a sauce that took days to simmer. Sometimes it is a beautifully simple plate. Always clean but not necessarily much more.


My point is some of the most beautiful and perfect meals are simple. And that's ok. I love Everyday Food magazine for inspiration. It is one of two that I like to peruse for inspiration. Rarely do I prepare a meal verbatim; firstly that's boring. Second, vegan meals are not in abundance in those 'inspiration' magazines. I like it that way though. It allows me the opportunity to not only get creative and 'make it better', it allows me to veganize by myself which is a big part of the fun.

This recipe came from Everyday Food and we loved it so much I have made it twice. A 'twice' meal doesn't happen very often in our household. This one though? You can't beat the combination of simple, colorful, flavorful.

The sage is warm and inviting, the roasted squash and onions bring a sweet, roasty burst and the addition garlic and kale (one of my favorite ingredients) add more flavor and color.


Adapted from Everyday Food Magazine's roasted red onion and squash pasta.

Need:
1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced into about 1/4-1/2 inch strips
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 Tablespoons sage leaves, coarsely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, smashed or chopped fine
About 1/2 bunch fresh kale, de-stemmed and leaves chopped
1/2 package small gnocci shell pasta or other medium sized pasta

Do:
Preheat oven to 450.

Combine onion, squash and sage on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle sea salt and ground black pepper. Roast about 10 minutes in oven then rotate pan and roast another 10 minutes.

While veg is roasting, heat a little more olive oil in a pan on med/high heat. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the chopped kale leaves. Stir to combine, reduce heat to low, cover and let soften, stirring every few minutes to promote even cooking.

In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil for your pasta. Cook pasta according to directions, keeping it a little al dente.

Once pasta is done, strain, reserving a bit of the pasta water. Add pasta to kale and stir to combine.

Once veg is done, remove from oven and add to the kale/pasta combination. Stir gently to prevent breaking up the veg too much. Add a little of the pasta water to create a thin sauce. Taste and add a little salt and pepper if you desire.

Serve:
Plate into a low bowl or onto a plate. Serve alongside a gorgeous fresh green salad.


The original recipe from Everyday Food had a cheese topping which I think is completely unneccessary. Not only is this meal flavorful enough in and of itself, the cheese, I imagine, would drown out the delicious flavors that are naturally occurring. Just my opinion.

Enjoy!

Butternut Squash




Kale



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Garbanzo and Butter Bean Burgers


It was one of those days.

One of those days where the to-do list is forty-two miles long.

One where you desperately wish you were either a: superwoman, b: capable of creating forty-two extra hours in the day or c: affluent enough to have forty-two assistants to assist you in cutting your forty-two mile to-do list down to at least twenty-four miles... you have to start somewhere, yes?

On the list: grocery store. Dinner. (amongst a mass of other  'more important' items) Did the grocery store happen? No. Luckily I am good at stocking the pantry with staples such as the beloved garbanzo bean. Do you know how many different (fantastic) meals you can prepare with garbanzo beans?*

If I were stranded on a desert island and I could only take three things with me, one of them would be an unlimited supply of garbanzo beans. Or at least the guaranteed ability to grow them on my own. The other two things? I'll get back to you.

And so these burgers were born. And they were the perfect combination of healthy, filling, heart warming and fun to eat. Comfort food.


As for the to-do list? It's a little shorter. What is it though, about to-do lists that inevitably, once you mark one thing off you add nine more? At least it's not forty-two.

*The answer? Forty-two.


Yield: about 8 burgers, depending on how much you use to form each. It's versatile like that.

Need:

1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 shallot, diced fine
4 cloves garlic, diced fine
1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced fine
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
About 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 Tablespoons chili paste
1/4 cup agave nectar
About 1/2 cup panko breading, maybe a bit more

For the sauce:
1/4 cup Tofutti vegan sour cream
2 Tablespoons tapatio (add more or less for desired spicy factor)

For toppings:
Fresh thin sliced sweet white onions
Fresh sliced vine ripened tomatoes
Fresh sliced cucumber
Arugula
Let your imagination go...

Do:
Combine butter beans and garbanzo beans in a cuisinart and pulse. Set aside (in the cuisinart) for now.

Meanwhile, in a pan, heat a little extra virgin olive oil on med/high and add shallot and garlic. Cook for about 2-3 minutes then add bell pepper. Cook another 2-3 minutes then add cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. Let cook for about 3 more minutes then turn heat off and add mixture to beans in the cuisinart.

Cover cuisinart and pulse again, to combine. Note: the  cuisinart will break the beans down for you, so you don't have to use a potato masher. You do not want to blend it so much that it turns into mush though, keep a little texture.
 
Transfer mixture to large bowl and add fresh cilantro, chili paste, agave nectar and panko breading. Using a spatula, fold everything together until it is well mixed.
 
At this point, taste your mix. If you feel it needs more salt and/or pepper, add it.
 
Note: the chili paste and agave nectar act as a binder. You may need to add more. To test, form one patty by scooping the mix and gently pressing into a patty. If it readily falls apart, add a bit more of both the chili paste and agave. You shouldn't have to do this much based on the measurements above. I just wanted to throw it out there :)
 
Form your patties and simultaneously prepare your pan for cooking. A flat nonstick pan works best; or a nonstick griddle. Heat to med/high, closer to medium (you don't want to burn them).
 
As your patties are ready you can get them cooking. Let them go on one side until it is crispy and golden brown, about 5-8 minutes depending on the heat of your pan.
 
Flip and do the same on the other side.
 
Prepare your 'special sauce' while your burgers cook. Simply combine vegan sour cream and tapatio.
 
Serve:
Toast your buns... for this round we used multi-grain sandwich slims. It's the, you know, pantry thing. Use whatever you like for buns. These were great though.
 
Apply sauce to bottom bun.
 
When burgers are done, top bottom bun with burger. Add garnish, aka onion, tomato, cucumber and arugula.
 
Add more sauce to top bun, or not... whatever you want. I'm not a big 'sauce' gal so I didn't.
 
Serve with a lovely green salad and fantastic glass of red wine. Or whatever else you choose to drink. Fizzy water is another great beverage and a staple in our house.
 
 
These burgers are simple, most likely made with what you have on hand, quite filling and fun like a burger... because it is a burger!
 
Enjoy!
 
Beans

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese... five stars!

Last week was Noodle Nose's birthday. The big five. And for the occassion we ate his favorite things all day long. We started out with some fantastical pancakes and they were delicious. I may or may not have eaten more of them than he did.

Then for lunch we went to his favorite pizza place and dinner? When asked what he wanted for dinner, in true Noodle Nose form he responded as he does every night, 'macaroni and cheese'. Ok, so because it was a birthday request I relented.

And I totally perfected my vegan macaroni and cheese. I'm 93 percent sure this stuff is what heaven is made of. I want some right now. And it's early.


You may remember I have made macaroni and cheese in the past. And then I made it again. But this? Oh this... And I added brocolli and cauliflower to make it a little more nutritious because let's face it, it's not necessarily the most nutritious thing. It's mac and cheese for goodness sake. But it's worth it.

Yield: about 12 servings

Need:
2 1/2 or 3 cups elbow macaroni (ish? Probably a package. My noodles are in bulk and I forgot to measure, folks)
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance
1/4 cup vegan cream cheese
2 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup plain soy milk
3 Tablespoons Braggs liquid aminos
1 cup nutritional yeast
4 Tablespoons corn starch
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon coarse mustard
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/3 cup Daiya cheese
About 1 - 1 1/2 cups fresh brocolli florets and fresh cauliflower florets. Do all of one or some of each, as you choose
1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

Do:
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook elbow macaroni as directed.

In another small pot, combine Earth Balance and vegan cream cheese and heat on low, allowing it to melt slowly.

While that is going, preheat oven to 375.

In a blender, combine vegetable broth, soy milk, Braggs, nutritional yeast, corn starch, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper and black pepper.

Blend on high until well combined then add to Earth Balance mixture on the stove. Stir to combine and let cook until it thickens, about 5-8 minutes on low/med.

When pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. To the pasta, add brocolli and cauliflower. Stir to combine.

When 'cheese' sauce is fairly thick, pour over noodles/veg, add Daiya cheese and stir to combine. Add 1/2 cup of panko breading and stir again to combine.

Pour the entire mixture into an oven proof baking dish that has a lid or can be covered with tin foil. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup panko breading on top, cover and put in oven.

Bake for 25-30 minutes then remove lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes until lightly browned on top.

Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve:


Plate and add a lovely spinach/veg salad on the side for color and fresh fiber.

Tangy, 'cheesy', flavorful. So good, ultimate comfort food, loved by all.

Enjoy!

Nutritional Yeast

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Vegan Carrot Soup and Crispy Polenta Balls

My favorite movie comes to mind when I think of this soup. My favorite movie? Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory... That's Willy Wonka, aka 1971... pre Johnny Depp, thank you very much.

You may be wondering why that fantastical movie comes to mind whilst remembering a delicious dinner of carrot soup since the 'main character' in Charlie and the Chocolate factory is chocolate. Yes. Chocolate. And Mr. Wonka And Charlie. And Grandpa Joe.

BUT.... for someone like me who has an absolutely amazing memory for absolutely useless information, that movie is a bit different.

Interesting fact: I have an incredibly amazing and very odd talent for remembering the most random and odd bits and pieces of basically anything. That and I'm also really really really good at memorizing song lyrics. It's a talent, people; it astounds Honey. Noodle Nose can do it too. Obviously he got it from me. We are an anomaly; at least to Honey we are.

So soup. Remember Charlie and his mom? And Grandpa Joe and Grandma Josephine and Grandpa George and Grandma Georgina? (see?) They were poor, yes? Like, really poor. And remember when he came home from his paper route with the loaf of bread and they were all so speechless and thankful? Do you remember what mom was making for dinner? Cabbage soup.

Since I first watched the movie as a wee child, the cabbage soup has held a certain amount of intrigue for me. I don't know why. But this soup that I made; this carrot soup reminds me of that cabbage soup. Perhaps it is simply because of the basically singular ingredient. Although mine looks and probably tastes better than the cabbage soup of Charlie's childhood.

Perhaps it is because this meal came to life out of sheer desperation and bare fridgedness which mirrors dear Charlie's childhood. One thing is for sure: you probably have carrots in your fridge (and the other stuff too) and you should probably make this soup.

 P.S. I realize it's incredibly simple but you know what? I gave up trying to make everything 'amazingly complex' on this blog. The reality is this: I am a mom with a family and regardless of whether you are or not, you probably appreciate a simple yet delicious meal. That and not everything should be really really hard. Cheers!
p.s. photo could be better. The soup is delicious though.

The polenta balls? They were a bonus. And by bonus I mean better than french fries. Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside. Fantastic with the spicy dip. A perfect addition to the carrot soup. Charlie would have loved them.


Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, diced fine
2 cups roughly chopped carrots (6 to 8 carrots, give or take?)
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons curry
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

For the polenta balls:
1/2 cup dry polenta
1 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 cup vegetable oil, for pan frying
1 teaspoon curry plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/4 teaspoon
1/4 teaspoon pepper plus 1/8 teaspoon
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs

For the sauce:
1/2 cup Tofutti or other vegan sour cream
2-4 Tablespoons tapatio, or more if you like it really spicy
1-2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

Do:
Heat cast iron (or other) stew pot on stove to medium. Add extra virgin olive oil along with onion and garlic. Saute until tender, about 2-3 minutes.

Add carrot, turmeric, curry, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Reduce heat to between medium and low and add vegetable broth. Let cook, covered for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every once in a while. If it's not cooking fast enough, bump the heat up a little bit.

While soup is cooking, prepare polenta balls by bringing water to a boil in another pan. Once boiling, add polenta and stir continually until polenta has absorbed all the water then turn off heat, add curry, salt and pepper, stir again and cover. Let sit for about five minutes.

Remove lid and transfer polenta to a plate or cookie sheet to cool. On a separate plate or in a bowl, combine panko bread crumbs and additional curry, salt and pepper and set aside for next step.

Heat vegetable oil on med/high, closer to high, in a deep-ish pan for pan frying.

Once polenta is fairly cool to the touch and while oil is heating, scoop a small spoonful and roll it into a ball with your hands. Roll each ball individually in the panko mix and set aside for pan frying.

When oil is ready, pan fry balls one side at a time. I managed to do eight balls at once. You will know the oil is ready when you pop a pinch of polenta in and it bubbles. When one side is brown, roll it to the next side and so forth.

Repeat for all polenta balls, placing them on a paper towel covered plate as you go. Cover them with a paper towel as well.

To make the sauce, simply combine vegan sour cream, tapatio and cilantro. Stir and put in a lovely little serving bowl. Set aside.

When carrots in the soup are soft, use an immersion blender to partially blend soup. Note: you do not want the soup to be pureed; keep some chunks, just blend it a bit.

Taste soup and add salt and/or pepper as needed.

When soup is partially blended and balls are pan fried you are ready to serve.

Serve:
Ladle soup into a bowl, place polenta balls on a plate, spoon sauce, serve, enjoy.


So easy and that's ok! Dinner is meant to be enjoyed, no matter how much time it took to make.

Enjoy! (and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory... the real one!)

Carrot
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