One of my favorite things to is travel to new places and explore new cultures, history and art. I love to see how people live all over the world and whenever I can find time I like to go pretty much anywhere that has a few items of interest.
My partner and I had been planning a trip to the Danube Delta and then COVID struck and we postponed it. Twice.
But we finally got there and we took a rather circuitous route, starting with Constanța to see the port and the Black Sea, which is a place my husband and his family often spent summers when he was a kid. The day was nice and warm and we walked around the city before taking in the Museum of History and Archeology which was incredible. There really is a lot of Roman history to be found in Romania, in addition to the Austrian and German influences found throughout their history. It was a wonderful day of sun and history and exploration.
So we started with Constanta and if you don’t know it is the birth place of tennis player Simona Halep and actor Sebastian Stan! Just a little bit of fun trivia for ya.
Yeah, I know you’re probably bored of my obsession with putting noodles in everything from Bolognese to Ramen with Gravy and all the other ramen or Asian noodle recipes I’ve posted, like my Curry Ramen.
If you’re not in the market for yet another Ramen recipe, leave out the noodles in favor of rice, bulgur, barley or even quinoa if that’s your jam because we all know what my jam is.
It’s soup season and here in Romania the weather has just taken a turn for the worse, which means I am totally upping my soup game.
Because there are vegetables available now that weren’t a month or two ago, which means I have more options. This soup is kind of like your basic chicken noodle soup only not at all basic, because it’s got sass and ginger and tons of nutrients and flavor, two things I require of all my meals.
Don’t worry, I don’t plan on boring you with the details. If you know how to make soup, this will be quick and easy and (relatively) painless.
You know how it is when you find something you’ve been searching for a long time to get and then you find it and you use it and use it like it’s going out of style? Welcome to my life since one–just one–of the local grocery stores in Ploiești finally started to stock beluga lentils. Again.
One time, a long, long time ago, back when I still lived in the United States and had access to Food Network and all of my favorite professional chefs and cooks, I stumbled upon a recipe called Mulligatawny Stew (Enjoy my Southern Style Vegan Black Eyed Pea & Spinach Stew recipe). Now I’m not sure if the original or authentic version uses black lentils but this version did and I’ve been in love with them ever since. It’s a weird thing that happens, ya know? You don’t think about beluga lentils ever and then you have them and learn about them and now they’re all you think about.
I like to call it the red car effect. You don’t notice how many red cars there are on the road until someone tells you a piece of useless trivia about just how many there are, and now it’s like every other car is a red car.
Go figure, right?
Once again, welcome to beluga lentils.
Black lentils are the sturdiest of all the colors of lentils, even more so than the green ones which have a longer cook time and a more of a bite. they are delicious and because they are so hearty, they soak up more flavors which makes them absolutely perfect for soups and stews. So you already know, both by title and this super long intro, just what I did with them this time around.
And when I’m feeling a little bit lazy or if I just want noodles, I will dig around in the veggie crisper, grab a few favorites and combine them with ramen or udon or soba or…whatever else is out there that I can buy or get shipped to me. When the weather dips a little, add a tiny bowl of soup using the waste free broth I keep on hand, and BAM, a quick and easy vegan lunch.
Have you ever felt like having Miso soup but you don’t have all the ingredients? Me too. I’ve looked into the ethnic food aisles in Germany and Romania and you know what? NONE of them are vegan. They all have some type of fish flakes in them so you have to improvise, and that’s how I came up with my own version of vegan miso soup.
As much as I complain about the temperature dipping below what I find naturally comfortable, there are two things that I truly look forward to when autumn hits; Halloween and soups. Okay, the changing of the leaves is also a beautiful sight to behold but nothing is better than soup.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a creamy bisque, a hearty curry, a veggie stew or a delicious Asian inspired vegan Pho, or any other variety of noodle soups I can come up with, I want it all and I want it every day. Soup is my go to in fall and winter, consider it my warm liquid salad for the half the year. I haven’t made too many soups because it’s only just getting chilly, but the apartment block we rent in Romania is old school…like so old school that it is made up mostly of cement. Add to that, our side of the building is NOT the sunny side and you can see why I am constantly cold.
But, I digress. We were talking soups, no?
For today’s vegan soup recipe, I went with a simple lemon and wild rice soup, though it doesn’t taste anywhere near as simple as it sounds. I swear.
Soups are always easy vegan recipes because mostly they are or can be one pot recipes as well, which this one is. Sometimes I will make the rice separately but this time I wanted every grain of wild basmati rice to soak up all the waste free vegan broth, the lemon juice and all the delicious herbs and spices.
I know, I know, it’s barely September and here I am with a stew recipe. The weather is still nice but has cooled dramatically after the super warm summer we’ve had all over Europe (and home in the US too, no?), which makes it the perfect time to hop on the stew train. Or if you prefer, the soup train?
Not to mention the fact that black eyed peas are very difficult to find here so when I found them (jarred, boo) I grabbed them, held on tight and knew I had to make a southern style vegan bean stew.
Why? Both of my grandmothers have southern roots–Alabama & Tennessee, respectively–which means I have eaten my fair share of bean soups, stews and the mysteriously named soup beans. Sometimes, when my longing for time with my grannies gets too strong, this is one of my go to recipes. Or when it’s a little bit chilly and I’m making an excuse to eat soup. Or just because the mood strikes.
This is a very hearty stew which means, in my opinion, it doesn’t require bread or crackers or anything else on the side. You’ve got spinach for dark leafy greens, onions and potatoes for fiber and tons of other nutrients. Just season well and let this big bowl of vegan goodness do it’s thang.
For the past few days the weather outside has left much to be desired. It’s been gray and rainy, which means the hard work of editing takes even longer. My energy is low and even getting through my workouts takes more effort and focus than usual. It’s the end of May but it feels as if Spring has only just arrived.
So what’s a girl to do when it should be bright and sunny and warm outside, but instead it’s gray and dreary and chilly?
By some odd stroke of luck, I found a squash at the market and after getting caught in the rain while loading groceries, I knew what had to be done.
Squash & lentil stew.
This soup is thick and creamy and though it make taste and look like a complicated vegan bisque recipe, the truth is that this is an easy one-pot vegan soup that anyone can make at anytime.
This week is crazy busy for me so I’ll keep this post short without skimping on the details or photos of the finished product. This weekend my partner and I went out for a long walk that became super abbreviated about halfway through, thanks to an impromptu rain storm. It didn’t last long but we were proper chilled when we made it back to our place and all thoughts of cold salad were out the window in favor of soup.
I found FRESH wood ear mushrooms and I was so excited to recreate these pickled mushrooms I had at one of the few Asian style restaurants in Ploiesti. But wood ear mushrooms aren’t a meal, especially when you only have 200 grams of them. So then I thought of soup. And then ramen.
And that’s how I ended up with this vegan restaurant style Asian lunch for two.
For the soup: Ginger, garlic, lemongrass, scallions & nori with my waste free broth. Simmered for 20 minutes and then ready to go!
I know, I know. Beans and sausage are both proteins and totally unnecessary in one desk. I know. Really, I do. In fact, most nights of the week I’ll be the annoying vegan making that argument. But a deal is a deal and when we decided, ages ago, that as long as we had the ingredients and the know-how, we would make the dish the other person requested to the best of our ability.
And we’d just bought some Verdino brand vegan sausages, and there are ALWAYS beans in the pantry, so I had no excuse not to do it. Other than being difficult, of course, which I am always happy to do.
But, I didn’t. Bummer.
But, life goes on.
He asked for Sausage & Bean casserole with mashed potatoes and this is what I came up with.
Before we get to the yummy smells and full bellies, we need to gather our ingredients.
Ingredients: Cannellini beans Vegan sausage Onion Garlic Potatoes Bell pepper Dried chili peppers Red wine Tomatoes (fresh or crushed) Vegan butter Plant milk (I used almond, unsweetened) Thyme Bay leaf
You can cook the vegan sausages in the pan to start if you’d like, but I cranked the oven up and cooked them in there, turning every 3 to 5 minutes until good & crispy on all sides. It’s a good way to multi-task and a better way to make this a no oil added vegan dish.
Take a minute to get your potatoes boiling so everything finishes around the same time.
Next, heat up the skillet and add the onion, dried chilies and bell pepper, cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, cook until fragrant.
Then, add the red wine and simmer until it starts to reduce.
Add beans and cover, simmer 10 to 20 minutes, or until a thick sauce starts to form.
When potatoes are tender, drain and reserve some of the starchy water in a measuring cup. Add the vegan butter to the same hot pot you used to boil the potatoes until it sizzles. Toss in the minced garlic until brown & fragrant, turn down heat and remove the pot to a sturdy, flat surface so you can give the potatoes a proper mashing.
Use plant milk and starchy water to get the consistency you’re going for and return to heat until its warmed through.
Take the vegan sausages from the oven and toss with the bean sauce, serve on top of the potatoes.
This meal is perfect when you want red wine in your dinner instead of with it, when the weather gets cold, which it seems be doing whenever it feels like for the past few weeks, or when you’re in the mood for a protein-heavy vegan meal. It’s pretty much perfect any way you look at it.
Enjoy and if you try this recipe, I’d love to hear/see it, so hit me up on Instagram.
You know how sometimes you’re scrolling through Facebook and you see a vegan dish that calls to you? Well that’s what happened to me with this meal. There is no long story about why I love it or why I was craving it, just a simple case of I saw it. I wanted it. I made it.
Back in my non-vegan days, I couldn’t not stand chowder because I have never been a fan of milk or heavy cream, but after seeing a photo, I decided to give a shot. So, after a long walk on a very cold day in Romania, I whipped out my ingredients and tried my hand at vegan corn & potato chowder.
The ingredient list for this vegan chowder is pretty simple: