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Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli

pumpkin bites 1000

After spending a fun Saturday afternoon at a “pick your own” pumpkin patch, I couldn’t resist doing a pumpkin-related post. Today’s recipe is for Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli (shown above) from the new edition of Vegan Planet.  I’ll share the recipe in the minute, but first I thought you might like to see where all the pumpkin picking took place:

Field Mtn IMG_0499a

Here’s what we (and our friends) picked — $35 for the whole wheelbarrow load!

wbarrow full IMG_0507

And here’s our front porch after festooning it with pumpkins, gourds, and mums:

Front Porch IMG_0522

I love the change of seasons — and I especially love cool autumn weather!

Now here’s that recipe I promised.  Hope you enjoy!

Savory Pumpkin Bites with Green Chile Aioli
Pumpkin, walnuts, and sage combine to give these tasty bites a rich depth of flavor. But it’s the accompanying green chile aioli that sends them over the top. From Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (c) 2014.

1 tablespoon olive oil or 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup finely ground walnuts
2/3 cup canned solid-pack or pure pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Green Chile Aioli (recipe follows)

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Heat the oil or water in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, cover, and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Uncover, stir in the garlic and sage, and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 1 minute longer. Set aside.

2. In a food processor, process the oats to a powder. Add the ground walnuts, pumpkin, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Add the reserved onion mixture and process until well combined.  Add additional oat flour or ground walnuts if the mixture is too wet to hold together. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until firm and the bottoms are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve with the aioli.


Green Chile Aioli
This easy and flavorful aioli is fabulous with the pumpkin bites, but can also be slathered onto sandwiches or used as a dipping sauce for vegetables or baked tofu. From Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson (c) 2014.

1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons finely minced mild canned green chiles
1 teaspoon green Tabasco sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Serve with the pumpkin bites.


Here’s one more shot of the gourds we picked — they’re so pretty, aren’t they?


gourds and hay IMG_0518



Chickpea and Kale Wat from Vegan Without Borders


Thanks to all who participated in my spontaneous online poll yesterday in helping me decide which part of the world to visit for today’s recipe from Vegan Without Borders. The majority of votes went to various regions of Africa, and there were a lot of great recipes to choose from, including the Vegetable Tagine shown above (photo by Sara Remington). Here’s a list of the recipes from Africa in Vegan Without Borders:

Moroccan Chickpea and Lentil Soup
Harissa Sauce
Spicy Lemon Chickpeas (Fasting Eggs)
Chickpea and Kale Wat
Vegetable Tagine
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters
Berbere-Spiced Crackers
Falafel Pie
Spicy Couscous with Carrots and Chickpeas
Caakiri Pudding with Pineapple

I chose to share Chickpea and Kale Wat (photo by Zsu Dever) for a number of reasons. The recipe for this Ethiopian stew is super quick and easy and a great way to get a lot of flavor out of your basic “beans and greens.” The recipe is also versatile, in that you can swap out different beans or legumes for the chickpeas, or use other vegetables to replace the kale. The recipe is gluten-free, soy-free, and low in oil (you can make it “no oil” if you water-saute the veggies).

Chickpea Wat 2a
Chickpea and Kale Wat
Serve the wat with injera (shown in the photo with the Vegetable Tagine – a recipe for injera is also in the book) or on a bed of cooked rice or couscous. This is a spicy dish, so I’ve made the cayenne optional if you prefer less heat. You can also use less red pepper flakes, if you wish. This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon natural sugar
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups chopped kale (tough stems removed)
3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 (15-ounce) cans, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger, then add the garam masala, paprika, thyme, sugar, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne, if using. Stir in the tomato paste and 1/2 cup of the water. Add the kale and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes to wilt the kale. Add the chickpeas and the remaining 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender and the flavor is developed, about 20 minutes, adding a little more water, if needed, so the stew doesn’t dry out or burn.
Serves 4


If you are already loving Vegan Without Borders, please help spread the word and post a review on Amazon.  If you don’t have your copy yet, here’s the link.


Mango-Rice Verrines


I love the mango and coconut rice dessert served at Thai restaurants, as I was reminded when I saw an order of it being served at the next table during a recent Thai meal out with friends.  I rarely prepare it at home, either, since I only make dessert when company’s coming and I haven’t served a Thai-themed dinner in awhile.

That may change soon as I really want to make a Thai dinner for friends using  some of the recipes from Vegan Without Borders.  Among the recipes I’ll choose from are: Tom Yum Soup and possibly Miang Kam or Eggplant Satays for starters.  For an entree, it will either be Thai Hangover Noodles with Tofu and Thai Basil or Panang Vegetable Curry, although Pineapple Fried Rice with Edamame and Bangkok Street Cart Noodles sound like good choices as well. There’s one thing I am sure of though, and that’s dessert!  I’ll be making Mango and Rice Verrines, inspired by the mango and rice dessert that started this whole craving to begin with!

As you know, this dessert is traditionally served on a plate. My new spin opts for a more unusual presentation, by layering the ingredients. The term verrine indicates that the ingredients will be layered in clear glass dessert or parfait bowls or wine glasses. A verrine originally referred to a small glass container with no base that could hold a layered appetizer or dessert, which allows for a vertical and visually appealing presentation. Wine glasses work especially well for this dessert.


Mango Rice Verrines
This recipe is from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson © 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing; photo by Sara Remington.

1 (13.5-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup natural sugar (try organic coconut sugar)
2 1/2 cups cooked jasmine rice
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 ripe fresh mangos, peeled pitted, and finely chopped
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews, crushed

In a large saucepan, combine the coconut milk and sugar, and bring almost to boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the cooked rice, vanilla, and salt, and simmer over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool. Spoon a small amount of the rice into the bottom of 4 clear dessert or parfait glasses (wine glasses are good for this). Top each with a layer of chopped mango, followed by another layer of rice, until the ingredients are used up (or the glasses are nearly full). Sprinkle the tops with the crushed nuts. Refrigerate until serving time. Serve chilled.

Serves 4


Vegan Without Borders – Today’s the Day!


Today is the day that my new book, Vegan Without Borders, officially hits the shelves and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I don’t like to play favorites, but this book is forcing me to do so.  For one thing, it’s a gorgeous hardcover filled with gorgeous photos by the super-talented Sara Remington. For another, it’s  beautifully designed and filled with some of my favorite recipes in the world — with an emphasis on world, since the book is like a culinary tour of the most flavorful cuisines on earth.  Each section gives you several recipes from each region — kind of like having several “mini cookbooks” from around the world, all in one book.  As an example, the French section of the book contains the following recipes:

Brandy-Laced Onion Soup
Pâté au Champignon
Portobellos with Béarnaise Sauce
Potato Gratin Dauphinoise
Green Beans Provençal
Vegetable Pan Bagnat
Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou
Mousse au Chocolat

Because we’re still enjoying the last of the summer produce, I thought I’d share the recipe for Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou. Roasting the vegetables in this classic French mélange deliciously intensifies the flavor of the dish which is further enhanced by the addition of basil pistou. It’s delicious on its own or served with a warm crusty baguette. I hope you enjoy this recipe (and the rest of the book!) as much as I do.

Roasted Ratatouille with Basil Pistou
from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing.

1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
3 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons Basil Pistou (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking dish or roasting pan.
In a large bowl combine the onion, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, tomatoes, and garlic. Sprinkle on the thyme, marjoram, and oregano and season generously with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle on the oil and toss to combine. Spread the vegetable mixture into a large baking pan. Roast until the vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes, turning once or twice to cook evenly. To serve, transfer to a serving bowl, add the pistou and parsley and toss to combine. Serve hot.
Serves 4 to 6

Basil Pistou
Pistou is the French version of basil pesto. Made without cheese or pine nuts, pistou can be used in the same ways as pesto: as a pasta sauce, in salad dressings or soups, or to flavor vegetable dishes, as it does in the Roasted Ratatouille. Best of all, it freezes well, so portion it into 1- or 2-tablespoon amounts and freeze for later use.

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few grinds of freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Process until thoroughly blended, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Makes about 2/3 cup

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Hominy and Seitan Tacos

Hominy and Setian Tacos

It gives me great pleasure to be the first stop on the Vegan Tacos Blog Tour.  Jason Wyrick’s amazing ode to all things taco is due to hit the shelves tomorrow — it’s already flying off the virtual shelves on Amazon: a quick check this morning shows it ranking in the top 10 of vegan cookbooks and #1 of Mexican cookbooks.

Because Jon’s publishing company, Vegan Heritage Press, published Vegan Tacos, it means I’ve had that much more time to drool over Jason’s fantastic recipes.  I admire Jason’s vast knowledge on the subject of Mexican food and his ability to share what he knows in a warm and friendly way so that it feels like he’s right in the kitchen with you as you cook.

Living in the South for over half my life, it’s no wonder the recipe for Hominy and Seitan Tacos in Roasted Garlic Cascalbel Sauce caught my eye immediately. Around here, hominy can be found on the shelf of every supermarket. If you don’t have access to hominy, I recommend using fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels.  If you’re not a fan of seitan, Jason has provided several alternatives in the recipe headnote below.

If you love Mexican food and want to learn how to make all kinds of authentic tacos (including dessert tacos!) as well as salsas and other toppings, do yourself a favor and get a copy of Vegan Tacos.  You’ll be glad you did!

Hominy and Seitan Tacos in Roasted Garlic Cascabel Sauce
(Tacos de Pozole y Seitan en Salsa de Chile Cascabel y Ajo Asado)

I love using cascabel chiles in this taco for their pure red chile flavor. They are a nice looking chile, so I always put a few on the plate for presentation. The contrasting flavor of the hominy (aka pozole), with the chewier seitan, all work together to make a very rustic-flavored taco. This is one of my favorite taco creations. Make them low-fat by simmering the seitan and hominy in the sauce instead of sautéing in oil. If you don’t want to use seitan, substitute potatoes, zucchini, chayote, mushrooms, or any vegetable that will provide a substantial texture. Just sauté the vegetables at a medium heat long enough to brown them before adding the sauce. You can even use pinto beans (but don’t sauté them).

Makes 8 Tacos
Heat Level: 3

The Filling (choose either seitan strips or portobellos)
* 10 cascabel chiles or 4 guajillo chiles
* 1/2 cup rehydrating liquid (after rehydrating the chiles)
* 10 cloves garlic, pan-roasted
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 3/4 teaspoon salt
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 2 cups seitan strips or 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
* 1 cup cooked, rinsed hominy

The Tortillas
* 8 thick (5 to 6-inch) corn tortillas

The Toppings
* Rough salted chile powder
* A sprinkle of chopped roasted and salted peanuts per taco

1. Bring a small pot of water to a simmer, add the cascabels, and simmer until soft, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the simmering liquid and remove the stems from the chiles. In a blender or food processor, puree the chiles, roasted garlic, reserved simmering liquid, oregano, and salt. Set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the seitan and sauté until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved sauce and hominy and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.
3. Warm the tortillas. Fill them with the seitan hominy mixture and finish them off with a rough salted chile powder to taste and a sprinkle of chopped roasted salted peanuts.

From Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick. © 2014 Jason Wyrick. Used by permission from Vegan Heritage Press.


Vegan Tacos Cover



Pesto Pasta with Green Beans and Potatoes


Today is Jon’s birthday so naturally I’m making him a special birthday dinner.  This will actually be one of three special birthday dinners I’ll be making for him this week, but who’s counting!

Tonight’s dinner is from the pages of my upcoming cookbook, Vegan Without Borders. The recipe is for Trofie alla Presto with Green Beans and Potatoes — the photo is by Sara Remington who took all the gorgeous photos for the book.

This recipe is a classic Ligurian dish that I’ve made before — and which Jon loved — and since I happen to have a bag of imported trofie pasta on hand and loads of fresh basil, it’s the ideal choice for tonight’s dinner. Trofie pasta is a specialty of the region where it is rolled by hand and commonly served with Pesto Genovese.  Vegan Without Borders includes a recipe for making your own trofie, or you can simply substitute any type of bite-sized pasta — I recommend gemelli or cut fusilli.

It may seem odd to combine both pasta and potatoes in the same dish, but believe me, it works!

Happy Birthday Jon!

Trofie alla Pesto with Green Beans and Potatoes
from Vegan Without Borders by Robin Robertson (c) 2014, Andrews McMeel Publishing. Photo by Sara Remington

3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
8 ounces small new potatoes, quartered or sliced
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound trofie pasta (or gemelli or cut fusilli)
Freshly ground black pepper

In a food processor, combine the garlic, pine nuts, and salt to taste and process to a paste. Add the basil, drizzle in the oil, and process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap placed directly on the surface of the pesto. Set aside.
Steam the potatoes over a pot of simmering water until tender, about 10 minutes. Set the potatoes aside, then steam the green beans over simmering water until tender, about 6 minutes. Set aside.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and return to the pot.
Gently stir in the steamed potatoes and green beans, reserved pesto, and 2 to 3 tablespoons of the hot pasta water. Cook for a few minutes, until heated through and combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.