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I love the idea of the Virtual Vegan Potluck and am excited to participate.  With the holidays around the corner, I thought I’d share my recipe for one of my favorite pick-up foods — so fun to serve at holiday gatherings. Variously known as sigara (cigarette) or kalem (pen) böregi (or börek), these delicious appetizers are believed to have originated in what is now Turkey. These small cylindrical phyllo pastries filled with a savory stuffing are popular throughout the Middle East, as well as the Mediterranean and parts of Eastern Europe. My favorite filling is made with kale and white beans. Wrapped tightly into little phyllo “pens,” they look a bit like crispy spanakopita spring rolls. I hope you enjoy them!

Kale-Stuffed Phyllo “Pens”

This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Used with permission.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more to brush phyllo
  • 1 medium yellow onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces kale, tough stems removed, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • ½ teaspoon dried mint
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1½ cups cooked white beans, or 1 (15.5-ounce) can, drained, rinsed, and mashed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 (14 by 18-inch) sheets phyllo dough, thawed
  • ¼ cup finely ground walnuts
  • Ajvar (recipe follows), optional

Preparation:

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 5 minutes. Stir in the oregano, dill, mint, and lemon zest. Add the mashed white beans and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and mix well. Set aside or refrigerate to cool completely before using.

Place a sheet of phyllo dough on a flat work surface. Brush the sheet evenly with olive oil and top it with a second sheet of phyllo. And brush the second sheet with oil. Keep the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap or a clean towel to keep from drying out. Use a sharp knife to cut the phyllo sheets into three strips. With the short side of the phyllo facing you, spoon a line of the filling (about 1-inch diameter) about 1 inch from the bottom edge of a strip of phyllo, about ½ inch from each side. Fold in the side ends of the phyllo toward the center, then use both hands to tightly roll up the phyllo to enclose the filling, evenly and firmly rolling it up into a tight roll, as you would a spring roll.

Transfer the phyllo “pen” to a platter. Repeat the process for the remaining phyllo until the filling is used up. When all of the böregi are assembled, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the böregi on a nonstick baking sheet. Brush the top of the phyllo rolls with any remaining oil and sprinkle with the walnuts. Bake until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Serve with ajvar, if using.

Makes 1 dozen

 

Ajvar

This flavorful Balkan condiment made with red peppers can be used as a dip for pita chips or as a sandwich spread with crisp vegetables. It can also be enjoyed as a zesty accompaniment to the Kale-Stuffed Phyllo “Pens.” Ajvar often contains eggplant as well and can be made mild or spicy, according to taste. This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Used with permission.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 fresh hot chile, minced or ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers (jarred or home-roasted), chopped
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the chile and tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Add the roasted red peppers and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and well blended. Transfer the mixture to a food processor. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Pulse until the mixture is finely minced and well combined. You can leave a little texture remaining or you can puree it until smooth. Transfer to a bowl to serve. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator where it will keep for up to a week.

 

Makes about 1½ cups

 

 

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Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

It’s been officially “soup weather” at my house for about a month now, and will be until Spring.  That means that on any given day, you’ll find a “soup of the day” simmering on my stovetop or in a slow cooker. Bean soups are my favorite because they’re satisfying and meal-worthy, so they make an ideal lunch, but I want to make something a little different today so I checked out the soup chapter of More Quick-Fix Vegan – I make the Shortcut Bean Soup from that book all the time and some of the other soups in that chapter have been calling my name recently.

Some favorites are the Hummus Soup with Pita Croutons, the Black Bean-Pumpkin Soup,  and the Guacamole Soup.  I also love the Creamy Tomato Soup, the Lemony Chickpea-Spinach Soup, and the Smoky Corn Chowder, but today my heart belongs to the Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque.  There’s something wonderful about the flavor combination of sweet potatoes and smoky hot chipotles. This vibrant soup is also very satisfying, thanks to the inclusion of white beans.  I usually garnish it with a little parsley or chives for a nice color contrast, but you could also top it with your favorite cooked green vegetable such as chopped spinach or kale. I’m heading to the kitchen to make some right now.  Here’s the recipe, in case you’d like to make it, too.

Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

from More Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson  (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped or shredded (about 3 cups)
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 (15.5-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 to 2 canned chipotles in adobo
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups vegetable broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives or parsley

Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and sweet potatoes.  Cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes, white beans, chipotles, and soy sauce.  Add the broth and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot or transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and process until smooth, then return to the pot.  Reheat, if needed.  Serve hot sprinkled with the chives.

IN OTHER NEWS….

There’s a great giveaway going on right now on Vegan.com. They’re giving away five of my cookbooks (including More Quick-Fix Vegan and Vegan Without Borders) to one lucky winner.  Enter now!

I’m also thrilled to announce that Vegan Without Borders made the Top 5 Vegan Cookbooks of 2014 in the OregonianIt also made the Top Vegan Cookbooks of 2014 list on Vegan.com and it was the only vegan cookbook featured in the San Francisco Book Review Gift Guide.

 

 

 

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Vegan Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce

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On a recent trip to civilization (what I call any place that has decent (vegan) food shopping and restaurants), I picked up some vegan smoked salmon made by Sophie’s Kitchen. I like to try new vegan products and I was curious to discover how they translated the high umami flavor of smoked salmon.

We first put it to the test on bagels with cream cheese, capers, and sliced tomato. The flavor of the vegan salmon was fairly mild and the texture was about what you’d expect from products made with konjac, a Japanese plant. (If you’ve tried those shirataki noodles you’ll know what I mean, as they are also made with konjac.)  All in all, we enjoyed the bagels, especially since we hadn’t had real lox and bagels since 1986.

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I also wanted to try the vegan salmon in a recipe, so I made Vegan Ravioli and Roasted Asparagus with Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce and wow – it really worked.

The secret to getting the desired flavor was amplifying the smoky/salty flavor of the vegan salmon by adding a tiny bit of liquid smoke and some capers. I think you could actually make the sauce without the salmon and it would still be wonderful – I hope so, since that’s how I plan to make it next time, now that I’m all out of the vegan salmon!

Here’s the recipe:

Vegan Ravioli and Roasted Asparagus with Smoked Salmon Cream Sauce
Instead of ravioli, feel free to substitute your favorite pasta. For an even more decadent sauce, blend a few tablespoons of vegan cream cheese or sour cream into the sauce, along with a little more nondairy milk.
Makes 2 servings

8 ounces fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces vegan ravioli or your favorite pasta, freshly cooked
2 tablespoons Earth Balance (vegan butter)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups plain unsweetened almond or soy milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
1 1/2 teaspoons capers
1/2 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
4 ounces Sophie’s Kitchen vegan smoked salmon, chopped
1/4 cup chopped roasted red bell pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Arrange the asparagus pieces in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast until tender, about 10 minutes.
Cook the ravioli or pasta according to package directions.
While the pasta and asparagus are cooking, make the sauce: Melt the vegan butter in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in flour, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Gradually stir in the milk and heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook, stirring for 1 minute to thicken. Stir in the dill, capers, Liquid Smoke, salmon, and roasted bell pepper, if using. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt if needed. For a thinner sauce, stir in a little more milk. Keep warm.
When the asparagus is cooked, stir it into the sauce. When the ravioli or pasta are cooked, drain well and return to the pot, then divide between 2 shallow bowls. Spoon the sauce on top and serve hot.

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Cavatappi and Chestnuts with Creamy Kabocha Sauce and Cranberries

There have been several requests that I post the recipe for my pasta with kabocha squash sauce — so here it is!  The first time I made it, there was no recipe because I put it together quite spontaneously using leftover roasted kabocha squash.  This particular type of squash is so deliciously flavorful that it barely needs any other seasonings to boost its flavor. So, unlike your typical pumpkin sauces or those made with a less flavorful squash, there aren’t a ton of ingredients in this sauce — the squash does most of the heavy lifting!

Look for kabocha squash (aka Hokaido pumpkin) at Asian markets or well-stocked supermarkets. The superior flavor of the kabocha squash makes a substitution difficult, but if you can’t find one, then use a buttercup or butternut squash instead.

To dress this up for Thanksgiving, I’ve added cooked peeled chestnuts and sweetened dried cranberries, resulting in a very festive and totally delicious dish.

Some variations:

  • If you can’t find cooked peeled chestnuts (I buy them at Asian markets where they are available in vacuum sealed bags for under $2.00), you can roast your own chestnuts or simply substitute lightly toasted walnut or pecan pieces.
  • To make this a “centerpiece” dish, transfer it to a large serving bowl and top with a sprinkling of  lightly toasted panko crumbs and a little minced parsley.
  • You can substitute any bite-sized pasta you like, but I prefer the fun shape and chewy texture of cavatappi (and it holds the sauce well).

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Cavatappi and Chestnuts with Creamy Kabocha Sauce and Cranberries

1 small kabocha squash, halved and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or sage
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
12 ounces cavatappi or other bite-sized pasta
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked peeled chestnuts
1/4 to 1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Arrange the two squash halves, cut-side down in a lightly oiled baking dish. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into the pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake until the squash is tender, about 45 minutes. Uncover and set aside to cool.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the thyme and paprika, if using, then remove from the heat.
Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until it is just tender. Drain and return to the pot.
While the pasta is cooking, scoop about 2 cups of the cooked squash out of its shell and transfer it to a food processor or high-speed blender. Add the reserved onion mixture and 1 cup of the almond milk and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, scraping down the sides of the processor, then process again until smooth and creamy, adding as much of the remaining almond milk as needed to make a smooth, creamy sauce.
Add the sauce mixture, along with the chestnuts and cranberries to the drained cooked pasta and toss to coat. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Heat over low heat for a few minutes, if necessary. Serve hot.

Serves 4

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Vegan Holiday Hotline – 2014 Edition

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It’s that time of year again!  We all know holiday meals can be stressful, especially for new vegans whose extended families may be accustomed to a turkey on the table. That’s why I’m here to take the stress-work out of the holidays. There are lots of ways to stay calm and enjoy the day.

If you’re having omnivore guests for Thanksgiving, let them discover how delicious a turkey-free Thanksgiving can be by serving a menu of delicious seasonal dishes. I love traditions, so whenever I cook a holiday meal at home, whether for two people or twenty, I like to prepare a big feast with all the trimmings. Here are some tips:

I never debut an untried new dish for company, and I encourage you to do likewise. If you want to make something new to you, plan to make it once before the big day so you know in advance what to expect from a particular recipe. This will help eliminate the stress factor when you make it the second time around, because by then, you’re an expert.

  • When cooking for non-vegan guests, the menu should include a few familiar dishes. Holidays are not the time to try out that new quinoa-hemp seed dish. If you have some favorite family side dishes, you might want to include them in your menu to provide a familiar touchstone. Familiar favorites such as cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy, can help to quell any anxiety of relatives who may think they’ll starve if they can’t eat meat.
  • Many traditional holiday recipes (especially the side dishes) can be easily made with plant-based ingredients such as vegetable broth, Earth Balance, and non-dairy milk – and no one will know the differences.
  • When it comes to a main dish, I suggest featuring a “centerpiece” dish such as a thinly sliced vegan roast or loaf, garnished with roasted vegetables, or perhaps a stuffed squash (or several individual stuffed squash halves) served with a luscious vegan gravy.
  • If you’re not much for old traditions, make some new ones! Prepare a large pan of lasagna or mac and cheese with a big salad, or go global with an Ethiopian feast or Spanish tapas.
  • For those occasions when I’m a guest at someone’s home, I always offer to bring something to the dinner table – I usually make a hearty casserole of some kind that can double as a main dish for us but be enjoyed as a side for all the non-vegans who will invariably want a “taste.” If I have time, I also like to bring a vegan dessert, mostly to serve as an ambassador of plant-based food. No omnivore has ever turned down a slice of my pumpkin cheesecake!

Have a particular question? My “Holiday Hotline” is open Just leave your question at the end of this post, and I’ll respond as soon as I can.

In the meantime, here are a few links to help you get through the holidays deliciously (and stress-free).

On Vegan.com, you can find my recipes for two complete Thanksgiving dinner menus:  Menu #1 and Menu #2 (each link goes to a different set of recipes.)

On VeganStreet.com,  some of my holiday tips (and a recipe) are featured in their All-Star Guide.

For more menu ideas, here are links to some of my favorite holiday recipes from my blog (some traditional and some not!):

Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli

Moroccan Pumpkin Hummus

Mac and Cheddar Cauliflower

Roasted Shepherd’s Pie

Lime-Braised Cranberry Sauce

Penne and Butternut Squash with Kale Pesto

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Pumpkin Tiramisu

Pumpkin Cheesecake

And finally, here’s the recipe for my new favorite holiday side dish, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts from my new book, Vegan Without Borders: Easy Everyday Meals from Around the World.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts

If you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts, it may be because you’ve never had them prepared this way. Roasting transforms these tiny orbs into delicious flavor bombs, seasoned with nothing more than salt and pepper and a little olive oil and lemon juice. The walnuts add a delightful crunch.  This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

Serves 4 |Gluten-free | Soy-Free

1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup walnut pieces
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly oil a baking sheet and set aside. If the Brussels sprouts are small, leave them whole. If they are on the large side, cut them in half lengthwise. Place the Brussels sprouts in a bowl. Add the oil, salt, and pepper and toss to combine. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, stir the sprouts so they brown evenly, then sprinkle the walnut pieces among the sprouts. Return the pan to the oven and continue to roast, until the sprouts are crisp and browned on the outside and tender
inside, about 15 minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and serve hot sprinkled with a little lemon juice.

Variation: For a touch of sweetness, mix in  1/4 to 1/3 cup of  sweetened dried cranberries or chopped pitted dates just before serving.

 

…to best way to promote holiday harmony at the dinner table is to end your meal on a sweet note…..

Pumpkin Cheesecake w drizzle 1c

 

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Plant Power! Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread

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Chickpeas and kale are two of my favorite everyday ingredients.  They’re so nutritious and flavorful, but it’s their versatility that gives them extra points.  That’s why the recipe for Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread in Nava Atlas’s new book, Plant Power caught my eye.  And it’s also why I’m especially happy to share this recipe with you today as part of my friend Nava’s blog tour for Plant Power, her latest book.

In addition to featuring over 150 plant-based recipes, Plant Power also serves as a guide to help transform your life with vegan food. Nava’s easy and delicious recipes, helpful tips, and welcoming voice, along with lovely photos by Hannah Kaminsky, combine to make this a terrific book for new and longtime vegans alike.

I hope all my fellow chickpeas and kale lovers will enjoy this stop on the Plant Power blog tour with this easy and delicious recipe from Nava Atlas.

Chickpea and Kale Sandwich Spread or Salad
Chickpeas and kale are a tasty team, and this combination makes a great spread for bread, a filling for pita bread or a wrap (along with some tender lettuce and sliced tomatoes), or layered scoop of it on a sturdy flatbread and served open-faced. For a nice warm weather meal, this is great served with a potato salad and a simple fruit medley. Recipe from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas. ©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.

Serves: 4 to 6 (makes 2 to 2 1/2 cups)

• 2 medium kale leaves (any variety), rinsed well
• 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
• 2 cups cooked or one 15- to 16-ounce can (drained and rinsed) chickpeas
• 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional, but highly recommended)
• 1/3 cup vegan mayonnaise
• 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves or 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves
• 1 to 2 scallions, green parts only, cut into large pieces, optional
• 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed or bottled lemon juice, to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, or more to taste
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
• Fresh green sprouts (optional

Combine the kale and carrot in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until the chickpeas are evenly chopped and everything is nicely blended—don’t overprocess; leave the mixture a bit chunky.  Transfer to a serving container and serve at once, or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Variation: Use a good handful of baby spinach or arugula in place of the kale.

Nutrition information (per 1/2 cup serving) Calories: 220; Total fat: 7g; Protein: 13g; Carbohydrates: 29g; Fiber: 9g; Sodium: 208mg

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