Feisty Chickpea Burgers

Now that I finally have time to sit down and put fingers to keyboard to get this blog updated for you folks, I thought I’d post a recipe that really emphasizes simplicity. I’m focusing on really simple and quick ingredients here since most of my things are packed in bins right now ready to be moved back to Ottawa. With that said, be prepared for a bit of a rant…

Some of the main ingredients that I left unpacked are of course my trusty collection of dried legumes and beans that make up the majority of our meals. Cost-effective, versatile and convenient; these excellent sources of protein and fiber are the perfect foundation of any  meat-free meal and help squash the ignorant myth that vegetarianism is expensive. A bag of Great Value brand dried chickpeas costs $2.57. A can costs 77 cents but you don’t get nearly as much and can only use it for one meal. That’s dirt cheap. Omnivores pay a lot more for meat as the prices continue to soar. So, unlike a pot of dried beans, this myth that a vegetarian diet is “expensive” just doesn’t hold water.

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The only way a vegetarian diet will be pricey is if you shell out all kinds of money on those processed soy meat alternatives. Try to eat those sparingly. I have a very low opinion of soy, which is another discussion for another time. So if you choose to eat soy, choose products like tofu, tempeh and edamame and avoid products with isolated soy protein or soy flour.  And buy organic. Choose dried beans and legumes and buy  other products such as quinoa and nutritional yeast in bulk to save money. And if you feel like the cost of fresh produce is too much, I suggest signing up for a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) share to get a weekly or bi-weekly supply of locally-grown vegetables. It’s an excellent investment, trust me.

Here is a local farm in the Ottawa  area that was recommended by the farmers we got our CSA from last year. They are looking for a few CSA members for the summer: http://www.happyradishfarm.ca/csa-organic-vegetable-baskets.html. Check them out if you’re interested!

Now that I’ve gone on a bit of a rant and lecture, I can proceed to the main event..chickpea burgers! It’s that time of year again; the season for burgers, salads and grilled veggies. This is the burger recipe I have tested for perfection and it just has a handful of ingredients.

You’ll need to prepare for these burgers a day ahead by soaking the chickpeas in a covered bowl of water overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas the next morning and add them to a pot of water. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and let them simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until tender. The instructions on the bag says you have to cook them for an hour but I’ve never needed to cook them for that long. Drain and rinse them.

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It’s just the beginning

At this point, you’re going to throw all the main ingredients in the blender or food processor. Add the chickpeas, after they’ve cooled down, hot sauce, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, olive oil, Dijon mustard, a handful of blue cheese ( I used goat cheese this time because I didn’t have any blue cheese), cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Mix and mash it roughly together with a fork. Pulse once, stir the ingredients together again, adding more breadcrumbs or oil to combine as needed. Pulse again.

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Lovely visual

Scrape mixture into a bowl, and using a potato masher or fork, mash the remaining chickpeas into the mixture that didn’t get blended.

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Take out all your frustrations on these chickpeas; go on, it’s fun!

Form the mixture into patties and fry up!

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Fry on each side twice until slightly browned. The patties should hold together and not fall apart in this recipe. If they’re too sticky and soggy, add more breadcrumbs. If they seem to be too dry, add another egg or more oil.

Voila! For serving, I added a drizzle of hot sauce and crumbled goat cheese on top. I didn’t have any burger buns so I just went the low-carb route and ate them as is with a side of my homemade coleslaw. It’s such a comforting summer night meal. Enjoy, folks!

Ingredients 

  • 1 cup- 1 1/2 cups Dried Chickpeas, soaked and cooked,  or 1 Can
  • (Approximate) 1 cup dried breadcrumbs, I used 2 toasted slices of bread
  • 2-2 1/2 tbsp hot sauce, more for serving
  • 1 tbsp crumbled Blue cheese, more for serving
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
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CSA post: Pumpkin Soup

In this Thanksgiving edition of  Ottawa Green  Cuisine, I’m sharing an easy Fall-themed soup for my final CSA-related post of the year.  Last week we received a sugar pumpkin (or pie pumpkin) in our last CSA share of the season, and I figured a soup would be perfect to warm our souls in this October chill. Love is the figurative feeling of pouring warm pumpkin soup over your heart. Ahhh!

To start off, poke a few holes in the poor little pumpkin with a fork, place in a glass casserole dish or pan. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for an hour or until the pumpkin is tender.

In the meantime, get your ingredients ready because there’s such an overwhelmingly long list of them. I used vegetable broth (bouillon cubes), heavy cream (called whipping cream here in Canada),  cinnamon, nutmeg, a pinch of allspice and molasses in place of maple syrup. I’ve been using molasses a lot lately in place of maple syrup. Besides saving 10-15 dollars on a can of real maple syrup, I’ve become a new fan of cooking with molasses in a lot of my autumn-themed dishes because it gives them that little extra punch it needs. I recently used it to roast sweet potatoes for a quinoa “stuffing” for Thanksgiving. When I pulled the potatoes out of the oven, it was like they were kissed with this gorgeous sweet and spicy flavour. Yay for molasses!

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The little team that could.

Heat about 2 cups of vegetable broth in a pot on low while the pumpkin finishes baking. Once the pumpkin is ready, here’s the fun and messy part: Slice the top off the pumpkin,  slice it in half and begin separating the pulp from the seeds. Put the seeds in a colander or strainer and rinse off any remaining pulp. Set the seeds aside for the moment. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh and add to the pot of broth. Using a potato masher, mash out the pumpkin and stir as the mixture heats up. While the pumpkin is heating, add the seeds in a small skillet  and toast on low for about 5 minutes until they’ll all brown, crisp and toasty.

Returning to the pumpkin mixture, add 1/3 cup of molasses and stir. Add dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice then turn off the heat. Transfer the pumpkin mixture into a blender or food processor and place the blender in the fridge to allow it to cool.  In my experience, the heat will actually make the plastic crack if you blend it right away. I ended up destroying one of my blenders before I got my Ninja by doing this. To be on the safe side, let it cool for about 20 minutes.

Once it’s cooled, add 1/2 cup of the heavy cream, a.k.a. “whipping cream” to the blender. Blend until smooth.  Sprinkle a handful of pumpkin seeds to each bowl and serve. Voila!  Enjoy.

 

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Ingredients

  • 1 sugar Pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream/ Whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup Molasses, any kind
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • A dash of Cinnamon
  • A dash of Nutmeg
  • A dash of Allspice

 

CSA Post: Roasted Patty Pan squash with Quinoa Parmesan filling

We’ve received an abundance of patty pan squash in the past couple weeks of our CSA, most notably the week of Sept.17 in which we got a massive squash almost the size of my head. With its unique look and  size, this summer squash is not the typical selection on my dinner menu at home. So I really had to be creative here and think outside the vegetable crisper: What am I going to do with this thing from outer space? After browsing Google for recipes, I stumbled across a recipe from Alton Brown for Overstuffed Patty Pan squash and immediately became inspired. Think twice baked potatoes, but with squash.

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Sept.17 bounty: The tasty flying saucer is on the far right

Expect it didn’t go quite as planned when I forgot to only slice the squash in half and bake it whole before proceeding onto the actual stuffed part.  It was me being partially lazy and absentminded when I just decided to slice the whole darn thing, bake them and whip up a quinoa-tomato based filling  with nutritional yeast, Italian breadcrumbs, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses melted on top for a nice Italian twist.

At that moment, this dish became qualified for a blog post with my official stamp on it instead of copying Alton Brown.

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My happy accidents, roasted

Like they always used to say in art class in highschool, there are no mistakes, just happy accidents!

For the first step after slicing the squash, grab a cookie sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the squash slices on the sheet, overlap them if you need to,  and with squash this size, you’ll definitely have to. Rub the squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.

While they’re in the oven, make the filling. Cook a cup of quinoa, add it to a bowl with a can of diced tomatoes, nutritional yeast, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. Mix evenly.

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Once the squash is done, take those out of the oven. Use an ice cream scoop, if you have one, to scoop and spoon a serving of filling on each slice of squash. Sprinkle each slice with shredded mozzarella and extra parmesan. If your squash is gigantic like mine, you’ll have to fill two pans and save some to use for another night. Any leftover filling is great to use in quesadillas or grilled wraps.

Return the squash to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted on top.

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A quick word on nutritional yeast:  The “nooch” as us herbivores like to call them, are savoury yeast flakes with a nutty, cheesy flavour used to liven up dishes in place of, you guessed it, cheese. It’s not exclusively for vegans, the dairy-free folk.I often use it to enhance flavour in dishes or casseroles with grains or veggies but there are a plethora of different uses for it,  It’s also enhanced with B vitamins so it’s a true winner in the kitchen with health nuts. It brings dishes to life, I definitely recommend it.

Enjoy the funky squash! I know we did.

Ingredients

  1. 1 Patty pan squash
  2. Extra virgin olive oil, amount as needed for the squash
  3. 1 cup Quinoa
  4. 1 can Diced, stewed or plum tomatoes
  5. 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
  6. 1 cup Shaved Parmesan cheese or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano, NOT the grated sawdust variety
  7. 1-2 tbsp Nutritional yeast flakes
  8. 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  9. Oregano,to taste
  10. Basil, to taste
  11.  Sea salt, amount as needed for the squash
  12. Black pepper, amount as needed for the squash

I saw this on my Google homepage this morning as I started writing this blog. Yes, I’m spending my birthday writing. I had enough fun over the weekend in Montreal since this is the first year after two consecutive years that there hasn’t been a wedding to go to on my birthday. How nice. We’re going out to eat tonight, I’m definitely not cooking.  Thanks, Google!

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Cakes shaped like the letters of Google linking to my Google + page , just what I wanted. 

 

 

CSA Post: Vegan Cabbage rolls

Hello all, welcome to the 2015 CSA season in Laura’s cooking blog world. I’m quite late to the game here since I’ve been preoccupied with the drudgery of everyday work routine, hibernating from the heat and occasionally writing in my “society” blog. It’s been awhile since  I’ve been able to feel the tingling sensation of culinary inspiration in my bones but I’m finally ready for a comeback.

Last week we received a beautiful bounty in our CSA from Herbivor Farm, including kale, cucumbers, broccoli, zucchini and their unique cousins from outer space, the patty pan squash, scallions, sugar snap peas and of course, the man of the hour: Cabbage!

I dreamed up the obvious usage of this wonderful cruciferous vegetable: Cabbage rolls, or traditionally known in Poland as Golabki, galumki, halupki , galoopi and hippopotamus in several other  Eastern European countries and variations. There’s so many different variations and names on the internet that I can’t keep track of them all. I may have made a couple of those names up, but it’s really quite hard to tell.

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Laura’s vegan cabbage rolls: A simple name for a weeknight classic

None of that traditional name and recipe business matters because we’re going as far away from tradition as you can imagine in this vegan version. Us vegetarians are usually forced to reinvent recipes from meat-heavy cuisines in order to survive. And our versions are usually a lot healthier so you’re in very good hands. So, if you’re looking for a recipe that’s similar to your grandma’s, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

So, begin by washing the cabbage, removing some of the nasty looking leaves on it (if any) and removing the core at the bottom. Then fill a huge pot of water, add the cabbage and bring the water to a boil on medium- high heat.

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Turn the cabbage every 2-3 minutes and slowly remove the cooked leaves that appear cooked and easy to fall off. Place each leaf on a plate for later. This whole process should take about 10-15 minutes for you to have enough leaves cooked to use.

When you’re finished cooking the cabbage, slice it in half and roughly chop and dice up some of the leftovers to add to the sauce. Any remaining cabbage can be put away in the fridge and used for coleslaw or braised cabbage to accompany another meal.

Chop up some onion and garlic, and saute in oil until tender.

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Now it’s time to make the mixture. By now, you should have your lentils cooked (about 1 1/2 cup) and long grain wild rice ready to go. I forgot to mention this before, whoops! I used a teeny tiny bit of inspiration from my mom’s Americanized ground beef, rice and tomato sauce-based recipe that she used when I was growing up. I of course swapped the beef for brown lentils and used long grain wild rice.

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As you can see, I also added some extra chopped cabbage to the mixture. For the spices, I went all across the board: Some paprika of course, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.  Then I added  the cooked onion and garlic. I later stirred in a bit of the sauce to this mixture once it was done cooking to even things out.

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For the sauce, add a can of tomato sauce and simmer on low-medium heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste and stir in the chopped cabbage. Add salt and pepper, paprika, chili powder and dash of white vinegar. At this point I still wasn’t satisfied with the flavour and added a squeeze of dijon mustard and…drum roll.. just a pinch of adobo sauce. Gasp! Oh, the blasphemy! But I tasted it and it was perfect!  The goddess of culinary creation had to spoken to me. In a way, this method was actually more traditional because I didn’t meticulously measure and add the spices to the sauce, but instead added and tasted it as I went along. No written recipe involved. This is something that mothers and grandmothers from the old country do.

So now that the sauce is finished, you can get down to business and begin the assembly of the rolls. Or, you could have already started it by now, who am I to boss you around? It’s your kitchen. Firstly, trim the ribby vein of the cabbage leaves with a knife so they’re easier to roll.

You can also preheat your oven to 400 degrees. I figured I’d mention this before I forget and it’s too late. It wouldn’t be fun if you discovered an hour later that your oven hadn’t been on the whole time.

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Spoon 1/4-1/3 a cup of the filling in a leaf and roll up, folding the base of it up and over the filling until it’s covered. Make sure to fold the sides in so the goods don’t escape. Place each cabbage roll seam side down, side by side in a casserole dish.

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Spread the sauce over the rolls, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45-50 minutes. Voila! Enjoy my friends.

Ingredients

1/2 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic

1 Head Cabbage

1 1/2 cup Brown Lentils

1 Cup long grain wild rice

1 Can tomato sauce

1-2 tbsp tomato paste

1/2 tbsp white vinegar

paprika, to taste

chili powder, to taste

oregano, to taste

red pepper flakes, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

1 tsp dijon mustard, or to taste

Adobo sauce, a pinch to taste

That’s not bad for a girl of French Canadian descent who grew up seeing her grandma ‘s and great-grandma’s  handwritten recipes for Tourtiere (meat pie) on faded recipe cards in her mother’s recipe cabinet. We don’t specialize in cabbage rolls and pierogies in our family but we love to experiment and try new things and that means riffing on old favourites. That’s our tradition.

Happy cooking!

CSA Post: Lentil stuffed peppers

I’m back, folks! After all the birthdays this month, a trip home to Plattsburgh and working more hours I finally snagged a free night to set aside for writing. Writing and cooking for you guys requires quite a bit of free time and concentration from all other worldly distractions.

So this week I bring you one of my personal favourites with the lovely bell peppers we got from Herbivor farm in our last CSA share two weeks ago.  Although they were a bit on the small side, I was able to put a spontaneous spin on my Sloppy Lentil recipe to create the miniature version of the weeknight classic.

Vegetarian Nutrition Factoid

Do not fear the size, these peppers were filling enough for a full meal. Due to the power protein in lentils ( 18 grams for one cup, 9 grams for 1/2 cup), two or three of these peppers will fill your belly and hold you over until the next morning. On the essential amino acid side of things, you could pair these with a small serving of brown rice if you are a big eater like my husband. That way, all your amino acid needs are met. If you had other grains or protein earlier in the day, don’t worry about it. You won’t DIE if you don’t get all your proteins packed into one meal. Just like you won’t die from NOT eating meat. The key is to just eat a balanced diet throughout the day. Personally, I was way too full to even think about rice.

Alright, enough of that. Let’s get to business! Grab the peppers, take out the membranes and slice them in half vertically. Sorry the picture turned out so dark, but you get the idea right? Okay. Place them in a baking dish lined with aluminum foil and set aside.

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Chop two or three scallions , a couple baby carrots(both from Herbivor), a bunch of cilantro (also from Herbivor, yay!) , half a red onion and two cloves of garlic.

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Add all your veggies to a frying pan, sauté on medium  heat for a few minutes. Crack open a can (or fresh if you so desire) of Fire-roasted diced tomatoes and add to the pan.  Add some chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.

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Once your taste buds are satisfied, stuff the peppers with the lentil filling, sprinkle some cheddar cheese on each and pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. Or until the cheese is melted and the peppers are all bubbly and desirable. Yum!

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Enjoy, my friends!

Ingredients

* 7 Bell peppers, sliced vertically in half

*1-2 Cups Brown Lentils

* 2 cloves Garlic

* 1 can Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes

* 2-3 Scallions, chopped

* 1 bunch fresh Cilantro

* 1/4 cup Baby carrots, diced

* 1/2 Red onion, diced

*Chili powder

* Cumin

* Dijon mustard (optional), to taste

* Salt and pepper

* 1 cup Brown or Wild rice (optional)

 

 

 

 

CSA Post: Spicy Oyster Mushroom Barley Risotto

Last week when we received a package of Oyster mushrooms in our share from Herbivor (actually from a different farm in Quebec), I immediately started brainstorming for ways in which I could use the mushrooms. Maybe a soup? Nah, that’s been done before. A salad? Meh. I was thinking bigger and more inventive, so after a couple of hours of wracking my brain, I had it: Barley risotto! I wanted it to be spicy, because, why not? And I wanted to give it an Asian influence with rice wine since, apparently I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

I couldn’t find any rice wine at Loblaw’s but life went on and I proceeded with good ol’ white wine instead. So it goes.

And without further ado, let’s get to it!

 

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp Extra virgin Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Barley, rinsed
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 4 cups Vegetable broth (depending on serving size, mine was for 2 people)
  • 1/2 cup White cooking wine
  • 1 package Blue Oyster mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 package Button mushrooms, chopped
  • Sugar snap peas, a handful
  • 1 tbsp Gardenia Lebanese Red pepper paste
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions

We start off with some minced garlic (from Herbivor!) and butter and olive oil in a large pot, letting it cook for a minute or two.  Then add a cup of the Barley and a cup of the Arborio rice. Lower the heat and stir.

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Then we move on to the star of the show: the oyster mushrooms. Grab those and chop them up, add them to a pan with oil or butter on medium heat.

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Chop up some button mushrooms and add those to the pan as well.

Now, back to the pot of rice/barley. You should be adding vegetable broth if you haven’t already, one cup at time until the rice/barley absorbs the liquid. Once it’s absorbed, you can add a 1/2 cup white wine, stirring occasionally.

And here’s the moment when I just remember that I have sugar snap peas (From Herbivor) in the fridge. Let’s add those!

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Now that we’ve got everything added to the pot, it’s time to spice things up a bit. I wandered down the “Asian food” aisle (Anything remotely ethnic goes here)  at Loblaw’s and came upon a jar of Lebanese Red pepper paste. I decided to take a chance on it and I wasn’t disappointed.

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All we need is a tablespoon of this stuff and the risotto is complete.

Yay, now it’s time to eat! Enjoy, my friends.

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CSA Post: Stir Fry with Local Pac Choy and Garlic scape

When we received our first CSA share from Herbivor Farm last week, I was both overjoyed and challenged in my quest to find the most creative ways to utilize the items in our basket. Since we were given many greens in the first batch, one of them of course being Pac choy, this proved to be an easy task.  Most of the items including the  Mesclun mix, Dinosaur kale, Baby Swiss chard and even the White Kohlrabi can be thrown into salads for work, so I was able to maximize my efforts to reduce waste.

Now that Bluesfest is over with, and I have my husband back, I can go back to cooking for two instead of just one plus a whole bunch of leftovers in the fridge.  The crappy veggie burger and salad they gave him most nights only held him over for so long, and I’m always well stocked in the leftovers department for midnight cravings.

So, enough of the small talk. Let’s get down to business! In their email, the farmers mentioned that Pac choy (A.K.A. Bok Choy) is delicious when sauteed with garlic and sesame oil. So , I thought, why not a stir fry? Pair that with the garlic scape, some leftover cabbage and carrots in the fridge with a sesame dressing and you’re good to go.

So, what’s this garlic scape stuff you ask? It is the flower of the garlic plant which is harvested early in the season in order to allow the garlic to grow large bulbs instead of reproducing. It can be chopped and minced just like I am doing here, and added to a stir fry, soups, chili, etc. So I chopped the scapes in half, and put one half away in the fridge to use for later.

Here’s our list of ingredients you need on hand: (Recipe is below) 1 bunch Pac choy, 1 bunch garlic scape, 1/2 head Cabbage, 2 Carrots, 2 Scallions, any other vegetable you have on hand. Extra virgin Olive oil. Soy sauce, Sesame oil, Rice vinegar, toasted Cashews, Peanut butter.

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Then you chop and mince those babies up as finely as you’d like and add them to a pan with oil.

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The picture is blurry because my hands were shaky due to my excitement over this curious new product. One day I’ll have professional looking photos of my food for you. One day.

Chop up the Pac choy, and carrots and add to the pan. Lower the heat, cover the pan and let it sit for about 5 minutes while you make the Sesame dressing.

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At this moment I also remembered that I had cabbage and scallions in the fridge! So I chopped those up and added them to the party!

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Now, I return to the dressing. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Add sauce to the veggies, coating them with sesame goodness. I also added a tablespoon of peanut butter here to help thicken it.  It’s up to you.

Let it cook on low heat for about 5 more minutes or until the veggies are tender and the flavours are evened out.

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For the cherry on top you could add toasted cashews on top just before serving. I was planning on doing this but I didn’t remember until after I had devoured my first bowl. Whoops!

Enjoy, friends. And many thanks to Herbivor Farm for the delicious veggies and factoids every other week.

They are a small farm in Blackburn Hamlet in the East end of Ottawa. Check them out on their website here :http://herbivor.com or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Herbivorfarm

I can’t wait to see what we get in our basket on Thursday! Happy cooking, folks.

 

Laura D.