Archive for July, 2010


I wanted something that felt more “old school” for dinner the other night and the notion of spaghetti and meatballs fit the bill, albeit with some serious modifications.  After having decided to use tempeh as the bulk of the “meatball”, I next wanted to make sure that I packed them full of nutritional value and loaded them up with vegetables and a couple of fruits [tomatoes and raisins] to boot!  I also chose to oven-bake them rather than pan fry to keep them on the virtuous side of the dinner line.  These were awesome over quinoa pasta, but I can see them being great in a sandwich piled high with sautéed onions and peppers and dripping with marinara sauce as well!


Tempeh and Vegetable “Meatballs”

[Makes 8 nice-sized meatballs]


8 oz package tempeh

4 roasted Roma tomatoes [could sub with 4 whole canned Roma tomatoes]

1 onion, finely diced [1 ¼ cup is what I ended up with]

¼ cup carrot, finely diced

½ cup kale, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup toasted pine nuts

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

1 T ground flax seed

1 T raisins, minced

1 T fresh oregano, minced

2 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp freshly-cracked black pepper

½ tsp red pepper flakes*

olive oil, for sautéing the vegetables

* [Optional if you want some extra heat]


If roasting your own tomatoes, halve them and lightly spray with olive oil.  Place in a 400°F oven for an hour or until the tops have caramelized.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a pan over medium heat.  Add onions and sauté until softened.  Add in garlic, carrots, celery and kale.  Sauté until the vegetables have softened.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a food processor, add tempeh and roasted tomatoes.  Pulse a few times.  Add flax seed, raisins, oregano [both fresh and dried], salt and pepper.  Pulse until well combined but do not over process.  You want a crumbly texture, not a paste.

Transfer the tempeh mixture to a bowl and add in the bread crumbs, pine nuts and cooked vegetables.  Mix well and set aside to rest for 10 minutes in order to give the ground flax time to hydrate.  Roll into 8 meatballs.

Place in an oven-safe dish and lightly spray with olive oil.  Place in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the outside of the meatballs have browned.



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There is something really satisfying about roasted potatoes; smothering them with a delicious gravy only heightens the experience.  I was cruising Trader Joe’s the other day and had already plucked some beautiful organic red potatoes and placed them in my basket, when the juice aisle caught my attention.  I knew right away when I saw the black cherry juice that it would be a winner.   I wanted to make a light summertime gravy that would be both sweet and savory and, to my mind,  the deep ruby color would look gorgeous spilling all over the smashed red potatoes.  I love eating with my eyes before I ever indulge my taste buds;  turns out, it was delicious to all senses involved. 


Black Cherry and Caramelized Onion Gravy


2 large onions, sliced thinly

1 cup frozen pearl onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup white wine

2 cups black cherry juice

2 cups faux chicken stock

⅓ cup tamari

¼ cup vegan Worcestershire sauce

8 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a few to use as garnish

Olive oil


Sauté the sliced onions in a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat until caramelized [This will take a good 45 minutes or so].  Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.  Add the wine and cook until the wine is nearly evaporated.  Add the cherry juice, faux chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, and pearl onions.  Tie the thyme sprigs into a bundle with kitchen twine and toss into the pot.  Simmer over medium low heat until the volume has reduced by about a third to a half, depending upon the consistency you prefer.

I served this over red potatoes that I had tossed lightly in olive oil and roasted for an hour at 400°F.

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Our local farmer’s market has a mushroom vendor with the most beautiful shiitakes, oyster, morel and porcini mushrooms imaginable. 



Each week, this stall is my first stop before winding my way through the bounty of gorgeous produce.  Garlic spears happened to be in season when I made this soup so I incorporated them into the recipe;  garlic scapes would work nicely as would scallions. 



Hot and Sour Mushroom and Greens Soup


1 lb mixed Asian mushrooms [Shitakes and Oyster are what I used]

¼ cup tamari

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 tsp white pepper

1 quart No Chicken Broth

2 cups shredded leafy greens [I used Kaileen, but kale, mustard, turnip or any other green would work well]

2 Walla Walla spring onions, sliced [1 medium onion, sliced into half and then into half-moon slices would work as well]

¼ cup diced garlic spears [can substitute with a couple sliced garlic cloves and a bunch of sliced scallions]

1 T cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup cold water


Sauté the mushrooms and onions in a bit of neutral oil until they have softened.    Add 2/3 of  the garlic spears [or sliced garlic and scallions] and cook for a couple of minutes longer.  Add in the No Chicken Broth, tamari, red wine vinegar and pepper.  Stir well and bring to a low simmer.  Slowly add in the cornstarch while mixing and bring back to a simmer.  Once thickened, toss in the greens and cover the pot.  Cook until the greens are tender.

Serve while hot.  Garnish with the remaining garlic spears or scallion slices.

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We’re back from our road-trip to Farm Sanctuary [photographs of which are posted on our Facebook page if you’d like to check those out] and were craving Mexican-style food after having seen countless taco trucks and Mexican restaurants in California.   My spin on this taco is way outside the norm, but they were amazingly good both in texture and flavor.

The main taco filling was some peachy chili beans.  We topped them with some grilled Maitake mushrooms, grilled corn cut right off the cob and more caramelized peach wedges.  A sprig of fresh and flowering cilantro from our garden added just the flavor to create a new summertime favorite.  We’ll definitely be having these again while peaches and corn are abundant and seasonal.


Peachy Chili Beans


2-15 oz cans Pinto beans, drained and rinsed

2 peaches, sliced into sixths

1 medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T tomato paste

1 T chili powder

2 tsp Mexican oregano

½ tsp sweet paprika

½ tsp cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 sprig epazote

2 cups water

coconut oil

salt and pepper to taste


Grill the peach wedges in a grill pan until they have caramelized grill marks on both sides.  Set aside in a bowl. 

Sauté the onion in a drizzle of coconut oil until softened.  Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the chili powder, paprika, cayenne, oregano and cumin.  Add the beans, water and epazote.  Cut the grilled peaches into a large dice and add them, and their grilling juices that collected in the bowl to the beans.  Bring to a slow simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced and the beans have a nice thick consistency.  Season with salt and pepper.




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Sweet, sticky and lip-smackingly good.  These beans are incredibly easy to make and well worth the effort to make from scratch, rather than simply opening a can of ready-made.  While they bake, uncovered, the sauce on top caramelizes and thickens as it darkens in color adding a richer flavor that you can stir through the whole before serving.


Sweet and Savory Oven-Baked Beans


1 lb dry white beans [I used Navy]

1 3-inch piece of dried kombu

1 ½ cups organic ketchup

1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed

½ cup molasses

¼ cup yellow mustard

1 T vegan Worcestershire sauce

1 T tomato paste

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T sweet paprika

1 T dry mustard

1 T chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly-cracked black pepper

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp cayenne pepper


Soak the beans overnight in water.

Drain and rinse the beans, then place into a large pot.  Cover beans by 4 inches with water, add the piece of kombu, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, until the beans soften.

While the beans are simmering, sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil until translucent.  Add the garlic and tomato paste.  Continue cooking until the tomato paste has slightly caramelized.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of cooking liquid.  Return the beans and reserved cooking liquid to the pot.  Add the sauce and mix thoroughly.  Transfer to a large oven-safe crock and bake, uncovered, for an hour. 

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