Shakshuka 181, It’s Vegan

Skillet of Shakshuka 181
Vegan Reverse Shakshuka, 181

Shakshuka is a skillet dish where eggs are poached in a savory tomato sauce. It’s North African to Middle Eastern but generally considered Israeli. Cook and food writer Mark Bittman this week blogged on Epicurious editor David Tamarkin and his variation White Shakshuka.

Traditional shashuka, eggs poached in tomato sauce
Traditional shashuka, eggs poached in tomato sauce. Credit Wikimedia Commons

It looks wonderful, eggs poached in a stew of oniony-lemony white beans. It’s a reverse, though I’d call it 179 degrees not the full 180, as it’s still eggs.

Eggs and beans are redundant protein.

A true 180 would be egg-sized tomatoes floating in a whitish sauce. Call it 181, being a one-off from an impractical polar opposite. Mine is vegan with no added fat (but see notes).

The 181 is good looking and tasty. Grocery tomatoes are fine, so this is a year-round dish. Quick. It’s so quick that my pictures should be updated later on, as all I had were red onions and that darkened the stew to about a 182. Continue reading

A Neat Loaf

A Neat Loaf, Thanksgiving 2018. Also, PCRM mashed potatoes and Crescent Dragon's Neo-Classical Thanksgiving Dressing
A Neat Loaf, Thanksgiving 2018. Also, PCRM mashed potatoes and Crescent Dragonwagon’s Neo-Classical Thanksgiving Dressing.

Thanksgiving went great this year, food and conversation both. I handled vegan dishes and my sister-in-law the flesh ones as well as the green bean casserole. One success was my bean loaf, judging by how many took seconds on it.

A pot-luck omnivore and herbivore dinner needs a protein-emphasis entree from the latter. Having never settled on a bloodless loaf recipe, I “Googled” from scratch, but no recipes on the web appealed.

A phrase from one though called a loaf a glorified veggie burger. Hmm.

Well, I do have a favorite burger. It’s one of Mark Bittman’s. I  found it online in mid-2017, from Grub Street, “How to Make Mark Bittman’s Simple, Satisfying Veggie Burgers.” The print-out is full of my notes. It’s easy to make, tastes better than store-bought — maybe one exception — and if prepared well the texture is great, including how it doesn’t crumble into a pile of confused pilaf.

A sidebar in the seven-burger section of  Bittman’s encyclopedic How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food explained how to convert any into a veggie loaf. Eureka!

His book’s first recipe by the way is the one found online, “The Simplest Bean Burgers.” I barely changed enough of the recipe to call it an adaptation. Here ’tis, though, amounts for 4-6 burgers. Loaf adaptation follows. Continue reading

Wholemeal Tomato Soup

My "Wholemeal Tomato Soup"Tomato soup, rather like you remember, can be yours, homemade, vegan and protein-y. Healthy eaters do miss its grown-up convenience and childhood nostalgia flavor and texture. If you read the ingredients and nutrition levels of canned tomato soup, however, you will definitely want an alternative. Even the seemingly better choices of canned soup are pretty salty etc.

For being from scratch, it’s pretty quick, as it’s a pantry dish. To My Beloved and me, it’s real close to that ol’ heat-and-eat flavor but with full confidence in its quality.

“Wholemeal” is a repurposing of the British word for what Americans would call whole grain. Here it means I’ve tucked in healthy amounts of plant protein with little impact on flavor or texture, to make a whole meal, nutritionally.

Healthy red lentils are more orange but when cooked turn yellow.
Red lentils lose color when cooked. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • 1-2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (olive oil or salad oil)
  • 1 medium-large onion, peeled and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste (about 1/4 can)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (2-3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4-6 cups water
  • 1 28 oz (large) can tomatoes (crushed, diced or whole), undrained
  • 1-2 teaspoons vegetable broth powder
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried herbs (such as Italian blend or tarragon or basil)
  • 1/2 cup dry red lentils, check for bad ones or dirt or gravel then rinse OR 1 14-15 oz can cannellini beans, undrained
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, to start with

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What’s the Deal, Dill

Soup, cooled, is a smoothie. A smoothie warm is soup.

This blog in recent years has focused more on food. Those mainly have covered recipes. A few posts have explored the thinking, how my preferences developed.

Pureeing soups as a trend began the decade before last. They’re still hard to avoid. I like to see then eat a multitude of colors, textures and shapes. Can’t tell the carrots from the broccoli when you whiz everything down to pulp.

There are exceptions, like potato-leek soup. Both were among the first homegrown produce available at the Fayetteville Farmers Market weeks ago. Leeks pack a lot of onion flavor with little bite. Yet even the tender white part of the stalk is fibrous. Whirring up helps. Cooking in red lentils or adding canned white cannellini beans hide plant protein with a minute of an immersion stick blender, add creamy body, too.

Served at room temperature or cooler it’s called vichyssoise, oo-la-la. I spruced up leftovers with kale, simmered then re-pureed. That’s when I beheld a vegan green power smoothie.

I had been mocking smoothies all this time. I did enjoy Tropical Smoothie last year,  been meaning to go back.

) ) ) )

Jar of pickles illustration from openclipart.orgWhile no pickle freak, a jar in the fridge is handy for snacking. Finally finished that jar a while ago. It and the one before that though just weren’t as tasty, and they were from top companies, too.

Puckery cukes are tricky to find in my city’s new Whole Foods Market. What look like them are labeled “fermented cucumbers.” This no doubt is due to renewed interest in the benefits of kraut, kimchi and the like — as opposed to brining in salt or soaking in vinegar. But I sought a regular affordable reliable pickle.

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