Showing posts with label appetizers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label appetizers. Show all posts

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ginger-Spinach Pâté

Pâté lunch sandwich. Doesn't exactly sound like Dollar Store cuisine, does it?
Here's my second recipe from the $25 Vegan Dollar Store Challenge. Faced with a mountain of beans – and feeling slightly rebellious – I wanted to create a spread to rival the highbrow concoctions that Whole Foods sells at ridiculously inflated prices. I came up with this little number using some of my cooked pinto beans, the can of dollar store spinach [I was surprised that I really enjoyed the flavor] and the mushrooms and some of the ginger I bought with my $5 produce outlet bonus.

What this pâté lacks in looks, it makes up for in flavor....Hold it! .... Wait a minute! Now that I think about it, all pâté is ugly. So since mine is emerald green, it looks like a beauty queen by contrast. In any case, the heat from the ginger pairs nicely with the sweetness of the beans and spinach, lending it a surprising air of sophistication.

I enjoyed this pâté spread on sandwiches and also atop my dollar store brown rice crackers. You could also make it as an hors d'oeuvre's for a dinner party and serve it with crackers or crudités, It's surprisingly filling, relatively healthy and makes a whopping 4 cups of spread or 3 small "terrines" for less than two bucks. Enjoy!

Ginger-Spinach Pâté

  • 1 T oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 small onion
  • 8 oz chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cups cooked beans
  • 1 15-oz can spinach, drained
  • 1 T fresh herbs of your choice, or 1 tsp dried [eg, Herbes de Provençe, basil, oregano]
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Makes about 4 cups or 3 small terrines

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 3 mini loaf pans [3.5 x 6 inches].

In a frying pan, heat oil over medium and sauté garlic, ginger and onion until soft. Add mushrooms and sauté until cooked stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, adding some water, 1 T at a time, if mixture gets dry.

Mix everything in a food processor. Spread into loaf pans and bake for 46-50 minutes or until firm. Cool completely at room temperature, then run a knife around the edges to loosen pate, and flip onto plates. Store covered up to 5 days. [You can also freeze leftovers.]

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

the guaca-hummus theorem

vegan guacamole hummus
Last week, as I observed an avocado ripening on my counter, I developed a hypothesis:

  • I love guacamole.
  • I love black bean hummus.
  • Therefore, I will love guacamole and hummus more when combined.

I'll share my testing methodology in a sec. But first, I'd like to announce the winner of my GoodBelly probiotics giveaway. Congratulations.... drumrolll...Millie! Email me me your address, chica, so we can send out your prize.

Now back to my hypothesis... In my, I combined classic guacamole ingredients like avocado, garlic, and not pepper, with classic black-bean hummus ingredients like lime, garlic, cilantro and olive oil. I observed that both dishes actually share many of the same ingredients. Compatibility – a good sign.

A few hearty food processor pulses was all it took. The results were stupendous – a creamy, picante sandwich spread and crudité dip. Turns out, my hypothesis was completely founded. What this humble dip lacks in looks, it surely makes up for in flavor. I hope you enjoy it. Happy Labor Day Weekend! Where did the summer go?


  • 1 15-oz can black beans, drained [You may substitute chickpeas or pinto beans]
  • The meat of one medium avocado
  • 1/2 jalapeño, finely minced, or to taste [You can substitute any hot pepper you like. The pepper pictured is not a jalapeño; it's just muy bonita!]
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Water, as needed, to thin dip out to your desired consistency

Makes about 2 cups

Blend everything in a food processor until well combined.
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

popcorn tofu bites with sweet-n-spicy dipping sauce

When I'm zapped after a long day, I tend to make my old standby tofu for dinner because it's easy. No doubt, you know the drill: press, marinade and then either bake or pan fry. But the addition of just two more easy steps – breading the flavor-infused tofu and making a no-brainer dipping sauce – results in a fun, seemingly fancy dinner – lots of crispy flavor for very little effort. These Popcorn Tofu Bites also make fun appetizers, served with toothpicks – perfect for warm weather outings.

The Sweet-n-Spicy Dipping Sauce is Asian-inspired [or more accurately, CSA-inspired since I still have a huge bunch of scallions from last week's haul sitting in a mason jar in my fridge]. It's a veritable United Nations-inspired melange of flavors that play nicely together, despite their differences – a little sweet, – gracias agave; a little salty – domo arigato, miso, and a little spicy – kob-kun, kah, Sriracha  You will have leftover dipping sauce, but it has legs. Use it as a marinade for seitan or soy curls, or as a salad dressing. [I'm thinking baby arugula and spinach with chickpeas, sliced pears, candied pecans and  a wee sprinkle of wasabi powder]

popcorn tofu bites with sweet-n-spicy dipping sauce

Makes 32-36 tofu bites
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, pressed for about 2 hours, then cut into 32-36 1-inch cubes
Mix everything in a shallow dish. Coat tofu cubes in marinade and let sit at least one hour [turning to coat all sides every once in awhile ] or overnight in refrigerator.

  • 1/2 cup panko [Fear not, my gluten-free friends. Yes, Virginia, there is gluten-free panko]
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika [or substitute regular paprika, but the smokiness of the Spanish adds wonderful, almost grill-like complexity!]

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil and spray lightly with cooking spray. Mix breading ingredients in a shallow dish. Coat tofu cubes in breading, patting on extra on "bald" spots, and then place onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 25 minutes, then gently flip and bake 25 more minutes. Serve with dipping sauce, below.

sweet-n-spicy dipping sauce:
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T vegetable broth [I use Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Base]
  • 1/2 tsp Sriracha  [or to taste. Start with less!]
  • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 3 T agave nectar
  • 1 tsp miso
  • 1 tsp sesame oil [Olive oil is a fine sub, but sesame is so much better]
Process everything in a mini food processor or Vitamix until smooth-ish. Dip tofu bites in sauce.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

10 non-chiche vegan hummus ideas and contest winner

I had Artichoke Spread Hummus for lunch with baby carrots, and slices of apples [yes, apples!] and Persian cucumbers
Hummus. It's a filling, nutritious and endlessly versatile chickpea dip that's been around for centuries; some even speculate it's an ancient food. Omnivores and herbivores alike adore its creamy texture. But it has become one of those – yawn! – tiresome cliche vegan foods. Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
  • Pot luck invite: "Oh, you're vegan. Can you bring the hummus?" 
  • Business lunch: "Don't worry! There are hummus sandwiches for you vegetarians." 
  • Dinner at a meat-centric restaurant: "We offer a hummus and pita appetizer. [How progressive are we?!]

You eat with your eyes first. So treat yourself to a nicely presented meal.
We appreciate the effort, of course. But there's no reason for your hummus to be "ho-hummus." The flavor profile of this popular dip is receptive to many variations. My first cookbook contains a recipe for Smoked Paprika Hummus that remains one of my favorites. And I often call my pal Dreena Burton the "Queen of Hummus," because she has developed a litany of delectable, unconventional twists on this humble garbanzo paste. [Check out Dreena's books, which are chock full of "yummus" recipes.] And even omnivore cooking goddess Nigella Lawson recently made hummus using peanut butter instead of tahini. Last week, I ran across an Israeli blog devoted entirely to hummus. See all the possibilities?

Hummus is a whiz to make in a blender or food processor.
Since I've been busy lately working and running, training for some upcoming races, I've been relying on store-bought hummus. You know, the usual bland suspects: garlic, roasted red pepper. edamame, and maybe horseradish for a kick? Today, I decided to make a batch of my own hummus, partly because it is only about 1/3 the cost of store-bought, partly because it tastes better and mostly because I can pimp it to high heaven. I call this version Artichoke Dip Hummus, because it reminds me of the popular bread bowl dip. Below, you'll also find 10 more unconventional ideas for hummus, and the lucky winners of last week's Betty Goes Vegan giveaway.


  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 3 T tahini
  • 3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup canned, jarred or defrosted frozen artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/2 cup spinach or thawed, drained frozen spinach
  • Up to ¼ cup water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
Makes a healthy 2 cups

Mix all ingredients, except water, in a food processor until they reaches a creamy, smooth consistency. Add water as needed, 1 T at a time, until you get the desired texture.

Serve with crudités, on crackers, as a sandwich spread, dip or my favorite way: as a protein-packed salad dressing.

Pimp your hummus.


Pimp your hummus! Replace the artichokes in my recipe with the following substitutions.
  1. Red Beet:  1 cup cooked chopped red beets will give you a nice magenta hummus. Perfect for kids and/or Halloween.
  2. Pesto: 1 cup packed basil and substitute almond butter for the tahini.
  3. Masala: Skip the veggies. In addition to the cumin, add 1-2 tsp garam masala. 
  4. Ass Kickin' Hot: Add 1 chopped, seeded jalapeño pepper.
  5. Guacamole: Skip the olive oil. Instead add the flesh of one medium avocado, 1/2 chopped onion and 1 finely chopped, seeded Roma tomato. 
  6. Roasted Veggie: A great way to use up 1 cup of leftover roasted vegetables like eggplant, peppers and cauliflower. 
  7. Hot Date: Add about 1/2 cup pre-soaked, pitted dates [skip cumin and add a pinch of cayenne, if it suits you]. This makes a more kid-friendly dip.
  8. Fennel: Add 1 cup cooked fennel and maybe some organic lemon zest, too.
  9. Crab[less] Cake Hummus: Skip the cumin and add up to 2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning 
  10. Island Hummus: Skip the cumin and add up to 2 tsp Caribbean-style curry powder. Serve with dried plantains

Betty Goes Vegan contest winners

Thanks to everyone for entering. Congratulations....[drumroll]....Lizzie Bordello and the Painted Moonkin.  Email me your addresses and we'll send your copies pronto!

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

flavor foundations :: smoky mushroom-artichoke spread

This Smoky Mushroom-Artichoke Spread is uber-versatile. You can use it as a base for many different dishes.
You already know I like recipes that are modular. But I also prefer savory recipes that have legs and can be used as the flavor foundation for several meals. Who wants to eat the same meal every night?

A few months back, I started experimenting with a combination that I adore: mushrooms, artichoke hearts and smoked Spanish paprika. After much trial – and very little error since the flavors are good friends – I came up with this saucy foundation spread. It's a little tart, a little woody and just smoky enough to make your palate twinkle. Like a song you can't get out of your head, I've made this recipe several times over the past few weeks because it's easy to throw together and requires no fancy ingredients. Besides the taste, I also love the fact that you can enjoy it a number of ways. I've eaten this foundation spread:

1. Straight out of the bowl
2. Spread on crackers
3. As a sandwich filling
4. Over pasta
5. In a Buddha Bowl, as shown above, with greens, beans, and millet
6. Atop a salad

I'd imagine it would also be an interesting addition to a soup or stew, too. How will you use it?

Smoky-Mushroom Artichoke Spread

  • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1/2 pound cremini, shiitake and/or oyster mushrooms, very finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt [smoked sea salt, if you have it]
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed artichoke hearts, drained and very finely chopped
  • 1 T Vegenaise or egg-free mayo
  • 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
Makes about 1 cup, recipe easily doubled

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium. Add garlic and saute until soft, about 5 minutes. Do not burn.

Add mushrooms and cook for about 15 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in remaining ingredients.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

prismatic focaccia recipe and tutorial

These gorgeous mini-peppers inspired a pan of focaccia
What inspires your recipes and cooking? A dream? A craving? A Pinterest image?

The inspiration for the majority of my recipes comes directly from gorgeous produce. I usually know the type of recipe I'll be making within an instant of spying my plant-based muses. The colors and possibilities confront my senses and somehow transmit creative culinary impulses directly to my brain. I can taste the finished product – and see and smell it.

Today's inspiration comes courtesy of a gorgeous package of mini bell peppers that I grabbed at Wegman's. The colors reminded me of an autumnal treescape. Plus, I need to do a wee carb load before this weekend's Rothman 8K, which I'm running as part of Team Vegan Philly. [Don't forget, if you want to sponsor me, all donations will be DOUBLED up to the race, to benefit Philadelphia's Humane League. You can sponsor me here.]

Phytochemical overload, thanks to red, orange and yellow peppers and onions.
Focaccia makes a great, simple lunch or dinner. Alternately, slice it into small squares and serve as a vegan Thanksgiving appetizer. [Need more Thanksgiving recipe ideas? Lookie here.] I know I say this all the time, but it really is easy to make, even if you're not facile with yeast. This recipe may look complicated, but it involves very little hands-on time.

Focaccia, fresh from the oven



  • 2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water-not too hot, not cold or cool
  • 3 to 3 3/4 cups flour [I used half unbleached white, half white spelt]
  • About 1 T olive oil
  • 1 tsp cornmeal

Pepper topping:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups red, yellow and or orange bell peppers or mini bells, sliced [I quartered the minis] 
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
Makes one focaccia

Brush a medium cookie sheet with about 1 tsp of olive oil. Sprinkle with about 1 tsp cornmeal.

Remove the blade of your food processor. Sprinkle the yeast in your food processor cup. Pour the warm water over it, and add the sugar. Stir well with a fork and let stand for about 5  minutes. It should start to bubble, foam and/or appear to “move” slightly. This is the water and sugar at work, "waking up" and "feeding" the dormant yeast.

Add about 1 cup of flour and the salt. Attach the blade and process briefly to mix. Slowly add the remaining flour, about ½ cup at a time, processing between additions. Stop adding flour when the dough starts to form a dough ball and sticks to the sides of the processor. At this point,  spin it about 25 times in the food processor.

Dough, before rising

When you remove the dough, it should be smooth and stretchy. Oil it, place it in a large bowl and cover with foil or a damp tea towel. Place in a draft-free, warm place, and let it rise until it doubles-about 1 hour.

Dough, after rising

Punch down the dough [the fun part!] and knead it for a few minutes.

Roll it out slightly ....

...And stretch it onto the oiled cookie sheet. Again, cover and let it rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 400 degrees.


Heat oil over medium in a large pot. Saute onion and garlic until softish, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and saute for another 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook slowly until very soft, stirring occasionally, about 35-45 minutes.


Just before baking, use a chopstick or your fingers to make rows of small craters in the dough. Add peppers and adjust seasonings. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

vegan mofo :: let them eat vegan! contest, review & recipe

All the recipes I want to make from "Let them Eat Vegan." [Incidentally Pablo, pictured in part, also gives it two paws up]
Tonight, I post with an air of nostalgia, harkening back to the early days of the Blogosphere, in keeping with my Vegan MoFo theme of Back to Basics. When I first became vegan and started my original blog in 2006, plant-based cookbooks and blogs were few and far in between, and pervasive social networking was just a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg's Ivy beleaguered eye. Back then, we just wrote about eating vegan and commented on each others' posts. Today just to keep pace, we blog, tweet our posts, take Instagram shots, add pins of all of the above on Pinterest, and then update our Facebook timelines. [Never mind sleep.]

Over the years, I've seen plant-based "flavors du jour" come and go. But Dreena Burton was here from the start, walking the walk and talking the talk. She was already a vegan superstar in 2006, and frankly, anyone who has written a vegan cookbook or hosted a blog since then has Dreena, and a few other women [notably Jo Stepniak, Bryanna Clark Grogan, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero] to thank for developing the foundation techniques and positivity that inventive new vegan chefs have built upon. 

Dreena and I become "blog friends' over the years. I've followed her work with interest, and she's always been amazingly encouraging and generous. My copies of her cookbooks are all dog-eared and full of notes. Since they are mainstays in my massive cookbook library [which I recently culled from almost 200 to about  100], you can imagine how tickled I was when Let Them Eat Vegan! recently came out, with gorgeous photos by the talented Hannah Kaminsky. To celebrate Dreena's fabulous 4th book, I'm hosting a giveaway contest. More on that after the review.

Let Them Eat Vegan! The Review

Triple-Threat Chocolate Coconut Macaroons. Easy to make. Easier to eat!
The first thing I do when I get a new cookbook is to bookmark all of the recipes I want to try first. As your can see from all the Post-Its, I had a hard time deciding what my fledgling recipe would be. I opted for Dreena's Triple-Threat Chocolate Coconut Macaroons. These were a breeze to make, are [mostly] healthy – and as a special-added bonus, they make your kitchen smell like a Yankee Candle store as they bake.

Chewy-gooey. What's not to love?

Smoked paprika sexies up your tahini
I usually like to have some sort of sauce on hand in the 'fridge to perk up salads and veggies. I knew I'd adore the Smoky Spiked Tahini Sauce; tahini is rather smoky on its own, but add the smoked red paprika and whoa mama! So much flavor for so little effort.

Walnut-Pecan Balls. I "smooshed" this one and ate it as a slider.
Next up were the Walnut-Pecan Balls. I made most of them as meatless meatballs, but decided to "smoosh" a few. These became cute little sliders. When you fry these, the nuts become toasted and brim with an impossibly complex woody aroma – divine! I also think mixing up a batch of this "un-balled" would make a fabulous ground beef sub in many recipes.

The verdict? This is Dreena's pivotal work, to date. I love the accessibility of her tasty recipes: genuine, down-to-earth, crafted from whole foods, using ingredients most of us already have on hand. Talk about Back to Basics! And if you are avoiding soy, wheat or nuts, take heart. Dreena went out of her way to include variations for many common allergens and irritants.

Try Dreena's recipe for Walnut-Pecan Balls...and scroll down to enter the contest. You NEED this book in your collection!

Here they are, a-frying on my kickass new stove.

Dreena Burton's Walnut-Pecan Balls

[Paraphrased. See her book for complete recipe with allergy notes and baking instructions]
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup raw pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts
  • 1 cup plus 2 T rolled or quick oats
  • 2 T vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 T tamari
  • 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1-2 T olive oil, for frying
Makes 17-20 balls

In a skillet over medium heat, combine 1 T of olive oil, celery, oregano, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10-14 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and celery are nicely softened and golden brown, then transfer to a food processor with the remaining ingredients [except frying oil], and process until the mixture becomes crumbly. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Process again to incorporate any larger pieces, and just as mixture becomes sticky and/or forms a ball, stop the processor.

Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Take small spoonfuls, about 1 T, and form into balls. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high. Add balls. Fry 5-7 minutes (lower heat if burning), shifting pan to turn sides of balls every minute or two to form a golden crust evenly around the balls. Remove from the heat and serve.

The Contest! Closes at midnight on October 25.

I'll announce the winner by week's end. Just leave a comment. Extra chances for those who follow us on twitter: @dreenaburton and @theurbanvegan US and Canadian residents only. Sorry!

UPDATE: To be eligible, I need to also see your comment on my blog. I took down Rafflecopter it was not working correctly :)

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