This is my simplified version of dhansak, a lentil based Indian curry. I have made it with cauliflower, and I have also made it with mushrooms. Just substitute mushrooms for the cauliflower in this recipe. Both are good. I’ve also made it with split mung dal (when I found myself without lentils), and that worked well too. Unless they’re old, there’s no need to soak the mung: just put a lid on them while they’re cooking, and make sure they’re soft before you stir in the cauliflower.
Dhansak should be at least warm with the chili, but otherwise it can be as hot as you care to make it. It is dominated by a deeply earthy tone with sweet/sour accents supplied by the tamarind. It also happens to be my youngest daughter’s current favorite and one of the healthiest curries I make, being low in fat and high in fiber, beans, and vegetables. A real comfort food!
As with many curries, leftovers taste even better (and generally slightly hotter) the next day.
12 oz (1/2 large head) cauliflower, cut into thin florets OR sliced mushrooms
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chopped, fresh coriander
Gather together the dried spices in a small bowl.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, and cook the onion and fresh chili, stirring occasionally, until browned (~20 minutes).
While the onions brown, put the lentils into a large saucepan with 16 fl oz (2 cup) of water and the curry base sauce; bring to a simmer and cook gently until softened. (~10 mins)
Add the cauliflower florets or mushrooms to the onion, and stir to coat with oil, and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the garlic to the onion, and allow to warm through for a minute.
Add the spices to the onion, and stir to coat.
Once the lentils have completely softened, scrape the vegetables into the lentil pot, add the salt, and simmer until the cauliflower/mushrooms are just soft, and the lentils have almost disintegrated into a sauce.
Check for seasoning. If it looks at all dry (or the cauliflower hasn’t finished cooking), add a little more water and simmer for 2 minutes to integrate it (or until the cauliflower has finished cooking) before serving hot with rice or GF chapati, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro/leaf coriander.
A smooth, warming, lightly spicy soup, this is a great way to make use of the cauliflower stalk that so often gets thrown away. Note that this started off life as a way to use up the last bit of ranchero sauce that I had in the fridge one day when I was thinking fondly of a cream of tomato soup that I used to have as a child. If you find yourself in that situation, 8 floz / 1 cup / 1/4 litre ranchero sauce, 8 oz / 250g cauliflower cooked in 24 floz / 3 cups / 700ml of water with 1/2 tsp salt will get you a small amount of this soup in a jiffy.
Makes ~13 cups / 3 liters of soup @ ~36kcals per cup
1 tsp margarine (I use Earth Balance) or cooking oil/spray
6 oz (1/2 of a large) onion, diced
1 lb / 454g red/yellow/orange sliced peppers (frozen is O.K.)
1 jalapeño chili, seeds removed and flesh roughly diced
1 lb / 450g cauliflower
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
14 oz / 400g chopped tinned tomatoes, with juices
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp of sugar if necessary to counteract acidic tomatoes
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium high heat, then cook the onion, peppers/chili, and cauliflower until the onion is translucent (~10 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Add the garlic and allow it to warm through for a minute.
Add the remaining ingredients along with 32 fl oz / 4 cups/ 950 ml of water, and simmer until the cauliflower is soft (~10 minutes).
Blend until smooth; pour back into the saucepan and use another 16 fl oz / 2 cups / 475 ml of water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.
This is a mild, creamy, slightly sweet curry which is great for introducing kids to curry.
Vegan Vegetable Korma with turmeric tinted rice
One thing I have noticed about potatoes is that if you cook them in a tomato based sauce, they develop a tough skin that my kids are not keen on, so I cook the potatoes in boiling water before I add them to the dish. To be honest, this is a good way to use up left over cooked vegetables as the veggies used can be adjusted to suit your preference. Good contenders are mushrooms, peas, potato cubes, small cauliflower florets, green beans, carrot cubes, or fried tofu cubes as prepared for Tofu Florentine. Although you could add canned beans, I feel they’re a bit savory/heavy for a korma. Aim for 1.5 – 2lbs veggies in all.
For the record, I did try this dish using honey instead of sugar, and tamarind instead of lemon juice, but the more familiar ingredients actually tasted better. The less familiar amchur and star anise which I did use are easily available in specialty stores and Amazon.
12 oz potato, cut into 3/4″ cubes
4 oz green beans
1 tsp – 4 tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
3 oz (1/4 of a large) onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1/4 tsp salt for the mushrooms
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground star anise
1 tsp amchur (dried mango powder)
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
Bring a medium pot of water to the boil, and add the potatoes and green beans (and any other veggies that you’ve added that can be cooked by simmering. e.g. cauliflower or carrots)
Bring back to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes have softened but are not falling apart. (~10 minutes)
Put the curry base, cashews, lemon juice, salt, and sugar, into a blender or food processor, and process until smooth.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium high heat, then add the onion and mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp of the salt, and sauté until the onion starts to become translucent, and the mushrooms soften.
Sprinkle the spices over the cooked onions, and allow to warm through for a few seconds.
Drain the potatoes and green beans, and scrape the onion and mushroom mixture into the potatoes; scrape the smooth sauce out of the blender and into the pan with the vegetables.
Use 4 fl oz (1/4 cup) of water to rinse the blender out into the saucepan.
Heat through, adjust consistency with more water if needed to produce a sauce that clings and runs, and seasonings to taste, then serve hot with a generous leaf coriander garnish, and plain cooked rice or chapatis.
This recipe was updated Feb 2020 to reflect an increase in spices that I have been enjoying.
I developed this recipe from my Curry Base Sauce recipe in the hopes that members of my family who are keeping an eye on their weight would be able to join in. It just so happens that this version is also quicker to make without any obvious reduction in flavour, though I would think it’s a bit less rich.
Initially, I tried making a low fat curry base just by ditching the fat, and I made a couple of batches which got thrown away because they were bitter. In the original recipe, quite a lot of oil is used, and as the tomatoes cook the oil rises to the surface along with some bitter flavors which get skimmed off towards the end (yes, I did taste the froth – it was not good). Nothing rises to the top in this recipe, as there’s very little oil used, and the bitter flavor stayed in the tomatoes. It took a bit of detective work to figure out that the problem was with the fresh ginger, and once I’d substituted dried ginger for the fresh, I was in business again with making curries.
Quantity good for ~3 curry recipes.
Coconut cooking oil spray or 1 tsp coconut oil
1 lb (1-1.5 large) onions, skinned and thickly sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp fennel
1/8 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp powdered ginger (not fresh!)
1 oz fresh garlic, skinned and roughly chopped
8 fl oz (1 cup) tinned tomatoes in juice
Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan.
Fry the onions over medium heat until starting to brown, stirring frequently.
Add the spices and garlic, and allow to heat through for a minute.
Add the tomatoes to the onions, add two cups of water, and cook for 10-15 minutes until everything has softened.
Scrape all the ingredients into a blender, and process until smooth. Adjust consistency with water to make 40-48 fl oz (5-6 cups) of sauce, if necessary.
I got the idea for this appetizer from P.F. Chang’s restaurant. Unfortunately, their version is not gluten free, so I haven’t had it for years. My version is ridiculously easy to make. When I first made it, I used 3 tbsp of gluten free soy sauce, which was verging on too salty, even for me …. but if you like salt, and want that flavor kick, then 3 tbsps works well; these can also be added to salads to provide salty, tangy highlights, if you do that.
… and if you’re interested, this total recipe works out at 360kcals plus that needed for lettuce (or peppers etc.) that’s used for scooping.
Serves 3 as an appetizer
1 (~14 oz) packet of firm tofu, drained
2 tbsp Braggs Aminos (or other gluten free soy sauce)
1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce (check for gluten first)
1/8 tsp ground ginger
cooking spray or oil for the pan
1 iceberg/cos/romaine lettuce
Slice the tofu into 1/4″ thick cubes.
Pour the Braggs into a large bowl, stir in the hoisin sauce and ginger, and then add the cubed tofu. Stir to coat. You can check the seasoning at this point.
Pre-heat the broiler/grill (not the BBQ variety).
Spray a baking sheet with the cooking spray (or smear with the oil) and tip the tofu out onto it, spread so that the layer is only one cube deep.
Put the tofu ~5″ under the grill/broiler and cook until browned and chewy, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and encourage even browning. (~10-15 mins)
Serve in a bowl with an iceberg or romaine/cos lettuce on the side. Eat by spooning a small amount of the tofu into an individual lettuce leaf, and eat as finger food.
This curry is for spinach lovers, and is utterly delicious. It started out as my version of Saag Paneer (which I’ve never tasted as I can’t eat the Paneer cheese) … so this isn’t a vegan Saag Paneer … it’s a dish in its own right. It’s mildly hot, with sweet undertones from the fried onion and tomato in the curry base sauce.
Serves 4 with accompaniments
1 (14 oz) pkt of firm tofu
1 lb frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
3/4 tsp salt for the spinach
1 tbsp coconut oil/Earth Balance margarine
1/4 large (3-4 oz) onion, finely diced
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp garam masala
1/8 tsp chili powder, or to taste
Lay a clean cloth kitchen towel on the work-surface, and line it with kitchen paper. Arrange the tofu on the kitchen paper, cover the tofu with more kitchen paper, then fold the towel over the top to help soak up excess moisture. Leave this for 1/2-3 hours. The tofu will have firmed up and have a drier surface when it’s ready, which makes it less likely to stick in the pan while it’s frying.
Put the spinach in a saucepan along with the salt for the spinach. Heat over high heat to remove excess moisture.
Heat 1/2 the fat in a frying pan over medium high heat; add the tofu, sprinkle over with the salt for the tofu, and cook (turning frequently) until the tofu starts to brown and become crispy on the outside. If it sticks to the pan at all, scrape it off with a thin edged spatula (these bits taste good, too).
Once the tofu has become crispy / chewy, scrape it out into the spinach, melt the remaining fat in the frying pan, and fry the onion over medium heat until completely soft and starting to brown (~15 minutes). Add the nutmeg, garam masala, and chili powder at this point, stir to combine (and allow to warm through), then scrape into the spinach saucepan.
Put the curry base sauce and the cashews into a blender, and blend until smooth. Add this to the spinach, stir and heat, then serve hot with rice or GF chapati.
I do like curry. The authentic stuff is ok, but the stuff that I love is the British Indian Restaurant kind which can be fabulous! Apparently, restaurants generally rely on a curry base sauce which allows the production of many different curries really quickly as it contains ingredients common to many curries: onion, garlic, ginger, a few basic spices. It’s a base flavor that you tweak when making the actual dish, a bit like a flavored broth/stock. The secret is to have a spice combination that you particularly like … and not to skimp too much on the oil! If you do need a lower calorie (and faster) version, I have developed such a thing!
Oil: Apart from the taste aspect of the oil, it seems to help in the last section where everything has been blended together and you’re skimming off froth which is sometimes quite bitter. I tried to make an oil free version once, and ended up putting it in the bin!
Onion: I’ve also seen recipes that simply boil the onions to start off with, but once you’ve had your house filled with the smell of boiled onions, you won’t want to do it again. Don’t talk to me about authenticity …. I won’t be boiling any more onions as I’d like my husband to continue living with me.
Salt: Note that my version doesn’t contain any salt. This is not a mistake. Some of the dishes that I’d want to use it in require salt in their preparation (such as salting aubergine/eggplant or mushrooms to draw out their juices), and I’d rather put it in at that stage, than risk putting in too much.
Garlic: Generally, I expect to buy bulbs of garlic and peel the cloves as and when I need them, as they keep better this way. However, for this dish I find the ready peeled stuff really useful! My store (Trader Joe’s) sells ready peeled garlic in 1 oz packets! So convenient! I don’t even have to weigh them.
Blender: I use the blender 3 times in moderately quick succession in this recipe … and am going to admit that I don’t do anything more than rinse it out into the pot between uses. The flavors are all going to end up in the same dish, anyway.
This recipe makes enough for 2 – 4 family meals, depending on how much the chosen recipe uses. I wouldn’t want to make it in any smaller quantities, though. Check out these recipes that use it (this list will get longer as time goes by): Chana Masala (Chickpea/garbanzo bean Curry), Saag Tofu, Vegan Vegetable Korma.
Makes 4-5 cups of curry base (~190kcals/cup).
1 + 3 tbsp coconut oil/Earth Balance/vegetable oil
1 lb (1-1.5 large) onions, skinned and thickly sliced
8 fl oz (1 cup) tinned tomatoes in juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp fennel
1/16 tsp cloves
1 oz (~2″) fresh ginger, peeled
1 oz (just less than 1 bulb) fresh garlic, skinned
Heat 1 tbsp of the fat in a large saucepan; cook the onion gently over a medium heat in the fat for 20 minutes until completely soft and browned, stirring occasionally.
Put the tomato into the blender, and blend until completely smooth.
Gather the dried spices together into a small bowl.
Note the oil separating out on the right hand side of the pan.
Heat 3 tbsp of the fat in a second saucepan. Add the spices to this second saucepan, and almost immediately add the blended tomato to prevent the turmeric from burning. Cook this mixture for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fat can be seen separating out at the edges of the tomato or as smooth, dark patches on the top.
Put the ginger, and garlic into the blender with 8 fl oz of water, and blend until smooth.
Once the onion has completely softened and browned, pour the ginger and garlic into the onion pot. Rinse the blender out into the onion pot with another 8 fl oz of water. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes with a tight fitting lid (or 5 minutes at pressure in a pressure cooker) until the onion is almost disintegrating.
Put the cooked onion mixture into the blender, and blend until totally smooth.
Simmering curry base sauce. Note the smooth sauce in the middle of the pale froth that needs to be skimmed off.
Pour the onion mixture into the tomato mixture. Stir once to combine, then simmer over a low heat for a further 20 – 40 minutes without stirring. During this time, skim off any froth that rises to the surface by dragging the edge of a metal spoon lightly over the surface; try to avoid stirring it in. This removes a harsh flavor. You’re not going to get all of it, but you should get as much as your patience can cope with.
Once the simmering has finished, cool the sauce, and store it in the fridge in air-tight containers, using as needed. I use mine up within a week. I’ve seen some recipes that say it’s OK to freeze this, but I also know that garlic changes its flavor quite dramatically in the freezer, so I’d rather use mine fresh.
We’ve just got back from a 5 day jaunt to Mexico where we ate fruit and vegetables almost exclusively because most other dishes contained contraband. Although I did have a couple of occasions where I was craving carbs (for some reason, there wasn’t a tortilla chip in sight), I came back home with a slew of ideas for dishes to add to our repertoire, and I didn’t put on any weight!!!!!
The only non-main-stream ingredient here is Chipotle in Adobo Sauce, which is available in standard food stores in California and here in Washington, and I’m guessing it’s available pretty much everywhere in the States, but I’m not so sure about other places in the world. A quick Google search shows that amazon.co.uk sells it, so if you’re in England, you can get hold of it. You’ll probably want to freeze the chipotles that you don’t use here in a freezer bag or box, as you won’t be using a whole tin of the things in this dish.
This recipe is moderately hot by my standards. If you’re not into hot foods, reduce the amount of chipotle to 1 or 2 tsps and check before adding any more. I’ve eaten it scooped up on tortilla chips, and as a sauce with rice, but I think it could also be included as a side for any Mexican meal, or as a relish on a veggie burger.
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side dish/relish
1 tsp margarine/oil
1/2 large (~6 oz) onion, diced
8 oz mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tsp salt
1 large/3 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce
8 fl oz (1 cup) tinned tomatoes
Heat the fat in a saucepan, and cook the onions for 5 minutes over a medium heat.
Wash and slice the mushrooms, and add them to the onion along with the salt, and continue cooking on a medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are completely soft.
Once the veggies are soft, add the garlic, and allow to warm through for a minute or two.
Put the chipotle in adobo sauce in the blender with the tomatoes, and briefly blend to get a chunky sauce.
Add the tomatoes to the mushrooms, and simmer for 5 minutes until the flavors have developed.
I don’t use meat substitutes much. The vast majority of the meat substitutes that I’ve seen include gluten for texture, stretch and bulk. We recently happened upon some gluten free, tinned vegan chili which my husband loves for chili cheese fries, but it doesn’t have anywhere near enough vegetables in it for my liking. Yes, I know! Chili cheese fries is an indulgence, not a health food ….. but here we can leave the indulgence for the potatoes, and the chili can be loaded with veggies and fiber, and just look and taste the part.
I also know that Textured Soy/Vegetable Protein has a bad name. Somewhere in the dim and distant past I read about it containing chemicals that you don’t really want to be eating, so we haven’t had it. Upon a more recent review, however, I found that the chemicals are indeed used in the standard version of TVP (apparently removed before it’s sold …. uh huh), but the organic stuff doesn’t even get a whiff of those chemicals in the first place. Yes, it is more expensive, but if it means I’m happy we can eat it and I can widen the variety of food stuffs that I can eat, and I have yet another way to present veggies to my kids, then that’s the price I pay.
1 cup organic TVP/TSP
1 tbsp mushroom powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp oil/margarine
1/4 of a large onion (1/2 cup), diced
1 lb mixed vegetables cut into <1″chunks (e.g. pepper strips, mushroom chunks, courgette/zucchini slices – quartered, tiny broccoli/cauliflower florets)
1 fresh jalapeños, finely minced or 1 tsp chili flakes
1 large clove garlic
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin OR 1/4 tsp caraway seeds (for a change)
1/4 tsp lemon juice
~14 oz diced tinned tomato in juice (this won’t look enough to start off with)
2 tbsp tomato paste OR minced sun-dried tomatoes
8 – 16 oz cooked, drained, pinto or black beans
Put the TVP, mushroom powder, and salt in a bowl, and stir in 1 cup of boiling water, and leave it to soak.
In a large pan, heat the fat and fry the onion and any hard vegetables (such as broccoli and cauliflower) for 5-10 minutes.
Once the onions have softened, add the garlic, and spices to them, and heat through for a few seconds, then add the remaining vegetables (except tomatoes) and cook for another 5-10 minutes until they too have started to soften.
Add the TVP, lemon juice, tomatoes, tomato paste, and beans, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the juice has thickened and the TVP has browned slightly.
Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve in flat breads, with rice, crusty bread, jacket/baked potatoes, or (of course), chunky cut potato fries/chips and a sprinkling of vegan cheese.
This enchilada pie is remarkably similar to a lasagna … just with more hot peppers, and corn tortillas instead of pasta. The magic is in the spicy, creamy, cashew sauce which tops the pie. It makes a wonderful entree for a family or close friends’ dinner party, along with rice, salad, salsa and tortilla chips, and maybe vegetable fajitas and margaritas. You can ring the changes by substituting refried beans for the black bean chili.
1 batch of Black Bean Chili
2 batches of Ranchero Sauce
6 oz (1 1/2 cups) raw cashews
1 1/2 tbsp light colored chickpea or millet miso
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed, dried chili pepper (or to taste)
pinch of nutmeg
10-12 six inch corn tortillas
Make the Black Bean Chili.
Make the Ranchero Sauce, and blend until roughly smooth.
Put cashews, miso, lemon juice, salt, chili pepper, nutmeg, and 16 fl oz (2 cups) of water into a blender, and blend until completely smooth.
Transfer the cashew sauce to a saucepan, and heat until thick and bubbling, stirring frequently.
Cover the bottom of a lasagna pan (~12″ x 8″) with 1/2 of the ranchero sauce.
Take one of the corn tortillas and place about 1/4 cup of black bean chili in a stripe down the middle, then roll the tortilla around the filling and place (seam side down) in the lasagna pan. Repeat with the other tortillas.
Spoon the remaining Ranchero Sauce over the enchiladas, followed by the cashew sauce. Cover lightly with parchment paper or tin foil, and bake at 200C (400F) for 50 minutes, or until heated through.
I had some bananas going begging, this week, which just demanded a recipe for banana bread. Daughter #2 was particularly fond of this loaf. It has a distinct banana flavor, and is moist and vaguely sweet, with more densely sweet pockets provided by the dried fruit. It slices well, and it’s also extremely easy to make!
4 oz brown sugar
2 oz margarine
4 medium sized eggs
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
10 oz blanched almond flour
5 oz tapioca flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 very ripe bananas
1 cup raisins or walnut pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F (this quick bread doesn’t take long to put together)
In a food processor, beat together the sugar and margarine.
Add the eggs one at a time, and process until combined.
Sprinkle the rest of the ingredients (except for the raisins/walnut pieces) over the egg mixture, and process to combine.
Add the raisins/walnuts, and process for about 5 seconds (or by hand) to combine.
Turn the mixture into two 1lb loaf pans greased or lined with baking parchment.
Cook for 60 minutes at 350F on the middle shelf, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool before eating.
Variation: Instead of baking in a loaf pan, smooth the batter into a silicone flan pan (same cooking time), and when the cake has cooled, fill it with bananas and custard made with 2-3 bananas.
GF Banana Bread flan case
GF Banana Bread flan case topped with bananas and custard.
This isn’t your run of the mill marinara sauce that gets trotted out to kids as a standard in restaurants all over the U.S. The sun-dried tomatoes and black olives make this somewhat more sophisticated.
1 tbsp Earth Balance vegan margarine, olive oil, or oil used to store the sun dried tomatoes
1/2 large or 1 medium sized onion, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic
1 28 oz can of chopped tomatoes in juice
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil, minced
1/2 cup black olives, drained and cut in half
1-3 tbsp of sugar, depending on tartness of the tomatoes
This sauce is good with pasta and as a pizza sauce, if you’re looking for something a little different.
Warm the fat in a large saucepan, then gently fry the onion over a medium low heat, until it has completely softened and started to brown (~10-15 minutes)
Add the garlic, and allow to warm through for a couple of minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 30 minutes until the tomato chunks have started to disintegrate, and the sauce is thick and rich.
Check seasoning, and add more sugar or salt as necessary.
Sunshine! Spring is showing its face here in the Pacific NorthWest, and it is far too warm to resist the urge to make salad, today. I’ve made variations of this salad over the last year, but I’ve finally come to the conclusion that less is more when it comes to the dressing for this flag-bearer of a salad. Here we have the quintessential SouthWestern ingredients, all dressed in little more than the sharp floral flavors of fresh squeezed lime. If you love avocado the way we do, add an additional one (in cubes) to the salad before using the final one to decorate the top. I’ve not given a quantity for the chili, as different chilis have such a variation in heat, and different people have such a variation in desire for heat. You should add enough chili to just feel the heat, here, but not overpower all the other flavors. I’ve been using 1-3 tsp of minced, fresh/frozen Hatch chilis, which seems to be about right for my family.
Serves 4 as a main course salad or 8 as a side
1 cup frozen sweet corn, defrosted
2 14oz tins of black beans, drained
minced fresh chili, to taste
2 spring onions, cleaned
7-8 small red/yellow/orange bell peppers
3 salad tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
juice of 1/2 a fresh lime (or more, to taste)
1 small head cos/romaine lettuce
1 large avocado (or 2, if your budget copes with it)
Mix the corn and black beans together in a large bowl.
Stir the minced chili into the beans.
Slice the spring onions on the diagonal into 1/2″ pieces, and the bell peppers, and tomatoes into cubes.
Mix these into the corn and beans, stir in the chopped cilantro, and dress with the lime juice.
Rip the bigger leaves of the cos/romain lettuce into bite-sized pieces and form all the lettuce into a bed in a large (or individual) bowl/s.
Pile the bean mixture onto the lettuce bed, decorate with the avocado, and squeeze some additional lime over the top, if desired.
Serve as is, or with tortilla chips or in GF tortilla shells.
Although I’m more focussed on savory meals, it does seem wise to have at least a handful of trusted recipes in my repertoire for sweet indulgences.
This makes about 24 two inch cookies.
2 oz cold margarine
2 oz brown sugar
2 oz sugar (3 oz if you like your cookies on the sweeter side)
4 oz blanched almond flour
4 oz all purpose GF flour
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla (optional)
~1 tbsp rice milk as needed
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Pre heat the oven to 375F.
Blend together the margarine and sugar in a food processor (or by hand with a wooden spoon, if you’re still that virtuous) until fluffy.
Add remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips), and process into a coherent ball. Add a tablespoon of rice milk, if needed to get the dough to come together.
Stir in the chocolate chips, and put 1 tbsp quantities onto a parchment lined cookie tray (9 – 12 per tray), then roll gently to 1/2″ thickness with a rolling pin, or flatten with the back of a wetted spoon.
Cook in the top half of the oven for about 15-20 mins until barely golden around the edges. Remove from the pan, and allow to cool.
This recipe was updated Feb 28, 2020 to reflect how I make it with dried beans. The previous version follows at the bottom of the page.
Cassoulet is a classic comfort food from France: a thick, bean-y stew which clings to your ribs. I had it as a pre-vegetarian teenager, when we vacationed there years and years ago, and was so enamored of it, that when I turned vegetarian, I wanted to retain the ability to eat it.
When I first devised this veganized and simplified version, I was still eating wheat, and instead of tofu, I used 4 large spiced veggie sausages which were utterly yummy here, but much to my frustration were wiped off my menu when I realized I had to ditch the wheat. It took me a fair few years to get around to figuring this gluten free version.
Now, I should point out that ‘normal’ cassoulet not only has meat in it, it also has everything cooked together for quite a long time to cook the beans, tenderize the meat, and form a rich tasting crust which forms due to all the meat fat floating on the surface. We don’t have all that fat here, and tofu isn’t going to be improved by a long slow cook in bean juices: it’s quite tender enough, and if anything, it needs to be firmed up, which is why I grill/broil mine first.
Serves 3-4 people
For the beans:
1 tsp oil or margarine
1/2 large (or 1 medium) onion, coarsely diced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup (6 oz) dried great northern, haricot/navy, or other small white bean, picked over for debris andsoaked overnight, or in boiling water for an hour
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt (or to taste – don’t add until after the beans have cooked)
For the tofu:
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp pepper
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp oil
14-16 oz firm tofu (regular, not silken), drained
Heat the oil for the beans in a saucepan or pressure cooker pan, and fry the diced onion over medium heat until medium brown (~10-15 minutes).
Add the beans and bean seasonings (garlic, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, pepper) and 1 1/4 cups (10 floz) water to the onion. If you’re using a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, bring this up to pressure for 12 minutes, then allow to come down from pressure naturally. If using a regular saucepan, cover tightly and simmer for ~1 hour until the beans are soft, but still hold their shape. Add more water and time as necessary. (Don’t add the salt for the beans until after you’re sure they’re cooked to the required texture.)
Cut the tofu into 3/4″ cubes or chipolata, and put to one side to drain for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, stir together the tofu seasonings (salt, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and chili if desired).
Grease a cookie sheet/baking tray with the oil for the tofu.
Pat dry the tofu with kitchen paper, and use your hands to toss the tofu gently with the seasoning mixture.
Spread the tofu out on the baking/cookie sheet, and place about 6″ under a hot grill/broiler for about 10 minutes until starting to firm up around the edges and sizzle. Stir and turn over the tofu occasionally to prevent sticking.
When the tofu is ready (firmed up on the outside and chewy), stir it into the beans.
Serve hot with crusty GF bread or freshly cooked tortillas, a salad, and warm fluffy blankets next to a roaring fire.
The following is the previous recipe I used to make cassoulet.
The tofu can either be fresh, or frozen and defrosted before use. Defrosted tofu has a different texture to that of fresh which releases its water more easily, and may well have a more acceptable texture for those folks who don’t normally eat tofu.
Serves 3-4 people
2 tsp oil or margarine
1/2 large (or 1 medium) onion, coarsely diced
2 cloves garlic
2 cans great northern, haricot/navy, or other small white beans (not drained)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp pepper
salt to taste (depends on how salty your cooked beans are)
~14 oz firm tofu (regular, not silken), drained
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400F, so the beans won’t cool down too much after being put in.
Heat the oil in a dutch oven, and cook the diced onion over medium heat until medium brown (~10-15 minutes). Add the garlic, beans, the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, 1/4 tsp pepper, and enough bean liquor / water to cover by 1/2″. Check seasoning (it should taste slightly under salty at this point). Bring all to a gentle simmer, and transfer to the hot oven (uncovered).
Stir together the tsp of salt, nutritional yeast, and one of the 1/4 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Add a dash of cayenne, if liked.
Cut the tofu into 3/4″ cubes or chipolata, pat dry with kitchen paper, and use your hands to toss the tofu gently with the seasoning mixture. (Defrosted tofu is particularly delicate.)
Spread the tofu out on a baking/cookie sheet which has been lined with baking parchment, and place in the oven for about 1/2-3/4 hour until starting to firm up around the edges. (This will depend on how wet your tofu is, and how big the chunks are.)
When the tofu is ready (firmed up on the outside and chewy), stir it into the beans, and continue cooking the beans in the oven until the sauce has finished thickening (a total cooking time of about an hour for the beans).
Serve hot with crusty GF bread, and warm fluffy blankets next to a roaring fire.
Delicata squash has a dense, rich flesh, and a thin edible skin, and it needs only a little salt to bring out the flavor, which is excellent. In my opinion, it is at its best when meltingly soft. I first came across it at a wonderful little diner called Our Bar in Washougal, Washington, where they baked the stuff, and tossed cubes of it into breakfast scrambles and vegetable fried rice.
Stuffed Delicata Squash with Roast Potatoes and (vegan) Creamed, Garlicky, Cruciferous Veggies.
Stuffing the delicata turns them into a vegan, formal dinner center piece. Both my girls gave it the thumbs up … they are very partial to formal dinners with roast potatoes, orange and cranberry sauce, and cashew gravy.
The moist, herby, mushroom stuffing can be made the day before and stored in the fridge until required: a useful trait when there’s a lot of cooking to do! It must be about as damp as you’re going to want to eat it, as it doesn’t dry out much in the oven (and you wouldn’t want it to: quinoa tends to get a bit crunchy and stuck between your teeth if it dries out. Not so good.) If you have any extra stuffing left over after filling the delicata shells, mould it into 3″ round patties, and cook them along side the squash, to eat later as burgers.
1 recipe of the stuffing for Cashew and Mushroom Bake
3-4 delicata squash
oil as needed (~1 tsp per squash)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Preheat the oven to 350-400F (depending on what else you have cooking in the oven).
Wash the squash, then use a hefty knife to cut them in half from stem to blossom end. Use a spoon to firmly scrape out (and discard) the seeds, rub oil over all surfaces, sprinkle lightly with salt, and place (cut side down) on an oiled cookie/baking sheet.
Cook the squash for about 30-40 minutes (or until a fork can pierce the flesh), then turn over, stuff with the mushroom mixture, cover lightly with baking parchment to avoid drying, and continue cooking until the nut mixture is hot (15-30 mins).
This soup was inspired by the Thai curry that I’ve been experimenting with recently (but not currently published), at a time when I was considering making carrot soup. In keeping with that, I think garnishing it with fresh basil or cilantro (fresh coriander) leaves is an apt idea. It’s rich, smooth, and spicy hot, with deeper notes courtesy of the ginger. The 1/2 tsp of crushed red chile that I used made it as hot as I care to eat it, and hotter than daughter #2 appreciates, so adjust to taste.
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 lb carrots, scraped and chopped into dice (the pre-peeled baby ones make this dish pretty quick).
1/2 large onion, diced
1 tbsp ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp ginger powder OR 1 inch fresh ginger, skinned and sliced
pared zest of ½ a large or 1 small lime
14 oz can of light coconut milk (full fat is too rich)
½ pint of water
1-2 tsp lime juice
3 – 4 tsp brown sugar (depending on how sweet your carrots are)
1/4 -1/2 tsp crushed, dried red pepper (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
Melt the oil in a wide pan, add carrots, and fry over a medium heat for about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the onion, and fry gently until both are slightly browned. They should start to sizzle instead of steaming, after a total of about 15 minutes.
Stir in the coriander, ginger, and lime zest, and warm through for a minute.
Add the remaining ingredients, and allow to simmer gently until the vegetables are perfectly soft (~10 minutes).
Blend in a high speed blender, or puree and pass through a chinois to make perfectly smooth.
Make up to 40 fl oz with more water (or to make it the consistency you like). Adjust seasonings, reheat, and serve.
This is a seriously easy recipe which makes a pretty sophisticated dish. It’s quick to make and then sits in the fridge happily for a few days, which makes it excellent for dinner parties. The texture starts off a bit fluffy, but firms up nicely after a day or two, giving that firm, squishable texture that pate has. The flavor is deeply savory.
Both my husband and I were quite taken with this, but neither of my kids liked it. I think their palates are too young, and having always been vegetarian, they’re not used to the deeper notes that you’d get from a meat pate, so I’ll keep this for the adults! If you want a more kid friendly mushroom pate, try this one.
1 tbsp garlic infused oil (or olive oil and 2 cloves minced garlic)
8 oz mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 tsp dried thyme
5oz firm tofu
4 oz (1 cup) pecans
2 tbsp Braggs or other GF soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
Break the mushrooms into rough chunks, and process in a food processor until roughly minced.
Add the remaining ingredients, and process to a coarse pate (a few small pieces of nut are OK).
Decorated pate top
Press into an oven proof serving bowl (~6″x6″ and at least 2″ deep), and optionally decorate with thin slices of another mushroom pressed into the surface, and cook at 350F for 45 minutes.
Allow to cool and firm up completely, and chill uncovered, preferably for a day or two, until required.
Serve stuffed in lettuce leaves or celery sticks, on toast, or in sandwiches.
Vegan Bolognese with a gluten free (quinoa and brown rice) pasta.
I’ve been ‘playing’ with a pecan and mushroom pate recently (along with a vegan version of teff bread), and it temporarily morphed into this pasta sauce.
Paler version using more coarsely ground nuts.
It’s one of those recipes where you more or less throw everything together, and then let it do its thing while you potter around doing yours. The mixture is rich from the nuts, with a deeply savory flavor that I normally associate with meat dishes. If you grind the nuts fairly finely, then the color is also a rich dark brown. This totally threw me when it first happened, as the previous versions had been significantly paler. Note that, if anything, this tastes better the next day. The nuts soften even further, and the flavors marry. It even got the thumbs up from my husband!
1 tbsp garlic oil (or olive oil and 1 clove garlic)
1/2 large red/yellow pepper (~3 oz flesh), sliced/diced
3 medium mushrooms, cut into 1/2″ dice
4 oz pecans/walnuts, coarsely ground
1 cup diced tomatoes (including any juice, tinned OK)
4 spring onions, thickly sliced
2 tbsp coarsely minced sun dried tomatoes
½ tsp dried thyme
1 tbsp Braggs Aminos or gluten free soy sauce
8 fl. oz (1 cup) water
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
Heat the oil in a saucepan, and gently fry the pepper and mushrooms until they have both completely softened.
Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the nuts have softened, and the tomato chunks have disintegrated to form a sauce thick enough to coat pasta (30-40 minutes). If necessary, uncover and simmer to thicken sauce to your liking.
Check seasoning, and serve under mashed potatoes, in a GF pastry crust, or with GF pasta with parmesano sprinkles, if desired.
I know I’ve said this before, but I am still of the opinion that gluten free flours have a tendency to be either nutritionally poor and mildly flavored, or nutritionally good and strongly flavored, and unfortunately, many of the strong flavors are too intrusive and so we have to mix our flours to moderate them, or settle for the less nutritious flours. Teff appears to be a moderate flour; on its own it approaches the nutritional value of whole wheat, and there are no harsh notes. Don’t expect it to taste like wheat bread, but do expect it to taste like a great specialty bread.
This loaf was springy, flexible, and moist; easy to slice and slightly dense, and reminiscent of the malt loaf that I absolutely loved as a kid. It isn’t sweet, however, so it’s fine for savory sandwiches (although I am SO tempted to make a sweet one to toast).
I cooked this at a low temperature in order to get a soft crust, which it obligingly gave me.
10 oz (2 cups) teff flour
5 oz (1 cup) tapioca starch
1 oz (1/4 cup) flaxmeal
1 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp yeast
2 tbsp sugar (for the yeast, not for you)
1 tsp white vinegar
9 fl. oz water
Smoothed, unrisen dough.
Put all the dry ingredients in a food processor.
Put all the wet ingredients in a jug.
Start the processor, and slowly (over a period of about 10 seconds) add the wet ingredients to the dry. Process for about 2 minutes to activate the xanthan gum.
Risen dough ready to go in the oven.
Scrape the batter out into a greased loaf pan; smooth the top, and allow to rest somewhere warm to rise by about 50% (~35 minutes depending on liveliness of your yeast and ambient temperature).
Place the pan in the oven, cover with a sheet of parchment or foil, and set the temperature to 330F.
Bake for 65 – 70 minutes (timed from turning on the oven, not from getting up to temperature).
Remove from the pan, and allow to cool (ha ha!) before slicing.
Teff American Pancakes served here with scrambled tofu. These pancakes are moist, light, and springy; a little more flavorful than wheat pancakes, with slight undertones of chocolate.
Teff seems to be a very well behaved gluten free flour. These American style pancakes are soft and springy, with the sweet version having a taste mildly reminiscent of an orange and milk chocolate cake, which is great for those of us who appear to be unable to tolerate chocolate!
It’s also low-FODMAP, if that’s something that bothers you.
This amount makes two 4″ pancakes.
1/4 cup (1 1/4 oz) teff flour
0 – 3 tsp sugar (0 tsp for savory meal, 3 tsp for sweet)
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 – 2 tbsp dairy free milk OR orange juice (for sweet meal)
1 tsp oil for frying
Put all the ingredients (except oil) into a cup or small mixing bowl, and beat together briefly with a fork to form a batter.
Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot (and a splash of water instantly beads up and evaporates if splattered in the pan). Reduce the heat to medium low, and spread out the oil with a spatula or by tilting the pan.
Pour out the batter into two rounds in the frying pan, and allow to set for about 2 minutes until small bubbles have appeared on the surface of the pancake, the edges have set (and look less shiny), and the bottom has browned slightly.
Use a spatula or fish slice to flip each pancake over, and cook the other side for about a minute or until it too is lightly browned.
Serve hot with the usual breakfast accompaniments.
I was intending to make a low-FODMAP tomato soup here, but didn’t get around to heating it, as I drank it all before getting out the saucepan. I think it should be served in a glass with a green olive on a stick, or green onion spike! You really need some kind of special treat when sticking to this diet, and I felt this counted as one. Daughter #1 was a bit suspicious when I offered it to her, but was pleasantly surprised. However, I managed to drink the whole lot myself (by waving her off) in the space of about 15 minutes (though this should serve 2 people), and it looks as if I managed 90% of my vit.A daily requirements, and 200% of my vit.C daily requirements for my 230 kcals!
28 oz tinned tomatoes
3 spring onions (green parts only for low FODMAPs)
1 tbsp white sugar (or to taste, depending on how sweet your tomatoes are)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 small clove garlic (or 1/2 tsp garlic infused oil for low FODMAPs)
1/8 tsp black pepper
No salt! 🙂
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pass though a sieve/chinois, if you think it needs it.
The recipe below is my basic lentil soup recipe. Below that are some variations that I have enjoyed. Both this and the lentil and spinach soup are actually fairly standard Indian curry accompaniments, when served thick. It’s one of those very comforting meals, sating hunger without expanding your waistband.
1 tbsp Earth Balance (vegan margarine) or oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely diced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
1 lb red lentils
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
Heat the margarine/oil, in a large saucepan, over a medium heat, and fry the onion until it becomes translucent and starts to brown.
Add the garlic and cumin to it, to warm through for a couple of minutes.
Pick the lentils over for stones, and then rinse them.
Add 6 cups (48 fl oz) of water to the onions, then the lentils, and bring to the boil. Simmer the soup until the lentils have completely disintegrated (about 20-30 minutes. The lentils should disintegrate just with vigorous stirring with a spatula).
Adjust consistency with more water, if desired.
Stir in the salt and lemon juice (and any other desired additions); taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
Lentil and Tomato Soup: Add 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (halved) to the soup 5 minutes before the end of cooking.
Lentil and Spinach Soup: Add ~8 oz fresh or frozen spinach to the soup at the end of cooking, along with 1/4 tsp salt.
Chili Lentil Soup: Mince 1/2 cm squared piece of chipotle chili in adobo sauce (check for gluten) with the blade of a knife (so you don’t end up with exciting lumps in your soup), and add with the water and lentils.
I made this sauce one evening when I wanted to make Rich Mushroom and Black Olive Sauce, but only had 1/2 the mushrooms I wanted and a child who, for some unfathomable reason, had decided that she didn’t like mushrooms! It has the advantage that it is more colorful than the original, but apart from that is similarly easy to knock together, and it has my husband’s seal of approval!
I have served it up on pasta, and as a stuffing for baked potatoes. It’s also good in the baked tofu shells that I recently figured out as Halloween fare ….. but this sauce is a little too bright and jolly to be served up on that holiday occasion.
These quantities are good for 8 oz of dried pasta (cooked) and 3 – 4 people.
4 oz (1 scant cup) raw cashews
1 tbsp margarine
4 zucchini (courgettes), quartered lengthways then sliced
4 large roasted red peppers, deseeded and cut into 1″ squares
3/4 cup (~40) black olives
1 tbsp light chickpea miso
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt (for the sauce)
1/8 tsp black pepper
pinch of nutmeg
Put the cashews into a blender with 1 cup (8 fl oz) water, and leave to soak, briefly.
Heat the fat in a large frying pan over a medium/high heat, then fry the sliced zucchini (courgettes), stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown.
Add the roasted red peppers and black olives, and allow these to warm through over a low heat.
Add the remaining sauce ingredients (miso, lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg) to the cashews, and blend the sauce until completely smooth.
Pour the sauce over the vegetables, then use an additional 1 cup (8 fl oz) of water to rinse the blender out onto the vegetables.
Turn up the heat, and stir frequently until the mixture thickens.
Check for seasoning, and serve hot with pasta (this is sufficient for 8oz dry pasta, cooked), baked potato or baked tofu shell.
Halloween is just around the corner, and for the first time in their lives, my daughters live in a neighborhood where walking down the street trick or treating is a possibility. Some folks have already decorated their houses in their enthusiasm for the event. I try to discourage my kids’ interest in the candy, but playing with food once in a while does no harm. In previous years, we were mostly restricted to Halloween parties at home, drinking tomato juice with stuffed green olive ‘eyes’ floating in it, and eating mashed potato ghosts (tall mounds of stiff mashed potato draped with rice paper). Daughter #1 made a comment about making hollowed out tofu shapes, the other day, and I was suddenly overcome with this idea for tofu coffins. The tofu turned out pretty tasty, so I think this idea (without the rice-paper shroud) could morph into a regular menu offering quite easily. (Try this zucchini and roasted red pepper filling!)
For four coffins:
2 x 14 oz block firm tofu
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
4 tsps nutritional yeast
tomato based sauce (such as ranchero, or marinara)
4 rice papers
Cut the tofu blocks in half, and use a sharp knife to cut slits 1/2″ in from the sides of each of the four blocks to allow you to scoop out the insides and form the coffins. Leave these to dry in the fridge, upside down, for at least an hour and up to overnight. Blot with kitchen paper, if needed.
Mix the pepper, salt, and nutritional yeast together in a small bowl, and use to dust the sides and insides of the tofu coffins. Place the tofu on baking parchment on a baking (cookie) tray, and bake the coffins for 45 minutes at 400F, or until the texture has turned slightly hard at the outer edges.
Heat 1/4″ of water in a large frying pan until finger hot, and soften the first of the rice papers in it for about 30 seconds, keeping the edges of the paper down in the water until it stops curling up. Transfer the paper to a work surface, fashion a 2″ by 1″ sausage out of filling, and drape the rice paper shroud around it before interring it in the coffin. Repeat with the remaining coffins.
Serve with tomato ‘blood’; and cooked, white rice ‘maggots’, if desired.