Monthly Archives: June 2011

Post-Vacation Casserole

So, my excuse (this time) for failing to post for a while is that I’ve been on vacation.  Wife and I took a trip to visit her family in NJ and followed that with a weekend in Seattle.  As is usually the case when we go on vacation, nearly every activity was centered around food.  In Portland, there’s rarely any doubt that every event will include at least a veggie tray or a hummus platter, and I’ll be set.  In NJ, it went more like this:  1) Pick up hoagie. 2) Remove cheese from hoagie, preserving lettuce and tomato.  3) Spread store-bought, packed-along hummus on hoagie and add original tomato and lettuce.  4) Find this surprisingly delicious and eat it for a snack for the next three days.

Needless to say, I was not the pillar of nutritarian veganism for the week we were there, though I did manage to squeeze in a couple of salads along the way.  As such, I am recommitting to a stricter version of the way I’ve been eating, emphasizing the greens and reducing the grains.  One of my early discoveries when I started eating this way was a delicious casserole from Fat Free Vegan.

This is one of the very few recipes that I follow without any major modification–she totally nailed it.  I made it yesterday and it has already defied the rule in our house that requires at least 1/4 of every casserole to go to waste.  Only one of the six servings is left, and I’ll be devouring it for lunch today.  Stocked with asparagus, mushrooms, and garbanzos, this casserole packs unbeatable nutrition in a neat little 175-calorie (per serving) package.  The flavor and warmth remind me of Thanksgiving, and the potatoes add a crunch that makes me think I’m being a little bad.  I think I’ll be adding this to the list of vegan holiday dishes this year.

Though the several steps may seem overwhelming for my fellow lazy vegans, it’s actually a surprisingly easy dish to make, and requires just one pan (plus the baking dish).  Here are the deets from FFV, edited with my changes:

Asparagus and Chickpea Casserole

1 medium onion, diced
1 rib celery, diced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 cups shredded potatoes (I use Simply Potatoes Shredded Hash Browns – the whole bag)
smoked paprika, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly oil or spray a 2-3 quart casserole dish.

1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Give it a quick spray of oil, if desired, and add the onions. Cook until onions soften, 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the celery, mushrooms, and garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes, until mushrooms exude their juices.

3. Add the asparagus and two tablespoons of vegetable broth, cover pan, and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until asparagus is bright green and beginning to become tender.

4. Whisk the flour into the cup of vegetable broth. Add it, the milk, nutritional yeast, thyme, and basil to the pan of veggies and heat until bubbly.

5. Add the chickpeas and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Pour into prepared casserole dish and top with an even layer of potatoes. Before I add the potatoes, I toss them in a bag with salt and smoked paprika.  You can add a bit more paprika to the top for garnish.

7. Bake until casserole is bubbly and top is lightly browned, 25-45 minutes (frozen potatoes will take longer than fresh). If top does not completely brown, place it under the broiler for a few seconds.

The Last Serving (so sad...)




Vegan Black Metal Chef

Well, this video is too hilarious to not share with you all. I got through the “Red Neck Medley” recipe before I had to turn it off, and it’s definitely too high in fat and sugar for my needs, but I love the video!

I’m looking forward to watching Video #1, which includes a Pad Thai recipe.  Maybe I can modify it to be a wee bit more healthful.


Ok, I know–I claim to hate cutesy recipe names, but this one fit too well to pass up.  I’m not going to recount the whole recipe for you, because I didn’t love it, but I would encourage you to check out the original and try your own version.

Spinach, you are my friend.  You go with and in just about any recipe, and I totally get you.  Recently, howevs, even you could not save me from difficult-recipe-turns-into-blah-dinner disappointment.  Here’s how it went down:

While thinking about planning dinner and coming up short on ideas, I spent some solid time perusing Susan V.’s blog, Fat Free Vegan (as per uzh).  I found this delightful-looking recipe for Spinach and Artichoke Pie, which I thought might hit that spot that needs hitting when I’m craving cheese or other past-life decadence.  Susan’s pie sounded like something you’d get in a Greek restaurant, full of feta and milkfat and bursting with salt and oil, but she’d miraculously created a (mostly fat-free) vegan version.

What I ended up with was just plain blah (and maybe even blecch).

Unfortunately, I thought I’d be all creative with this one, so I don’t know whether the blah-ness* was my fault or the original recipe’s fault.  I turned the casserole-style pie into individual little handpies, which involved cutting the phyllo into strips, dropping some filling at one end, and folding them like flags.

Strips of phyllo, ready to roll
Cute little handpies (blandpies?)

Because FFV’s recipes are normally soooo good, and because Susan raved about this one in particular, I’m thinking perhaps the flavors didn’t stew together as they would have if cooked in the intended form.  Still, take my advice if you attempt this one: do some serious taste-testing of the filling before you deal with the phyllo dough.  I’d maybe add more olives, onions, and artichokes than called for, and cut down on the amount of tofu.  It might also benefit from some sundried tomatoes (as most things do).

The best thing I learned from this experience, though, was how to work with phyllo dough–that part worked out perfectly.  See the paragraph just before the original recipe for details.  The taste may have been bland, but they sure looked pretty!

*Wife actually loved these, so maybe my taste buds were having an off day.  They definitely have potential!

Only Kale…

…can save us now.

Spotted at Portland's Vegan Mini-Mall

Ok, maybe kale plus an apology for being MIA. I’ve been out of town and a very busy bee! I’ve got stacks of cooking adventures lined up to share, though, so stay tuned.

In the meantime, enjoy this pic of a sweet t-shirt I spied in the window at Portland’s Vegan Mini-Mall (yes, we have one).  Thank goodness the store was closed at the time, or I wouldn’t have been able to resist it.  Adorbs!