Pesto Beans & Beyond Sausage

Recently I found myself binge watching this strange British reality show called ‘Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away’ and it’s pretty fantastic in an awful train wreck kind of a way. Anyway, long story short one of the people who owed money was eating beans & sausage, which I immediately thought to myself was kind of protein redundant. Then I remembered we still had a couple Beyond sausages in the freezer and I decided why not vegan-ize it?

But of course I couldn’t just stop with a fancy vegan tomato sauce for the beans. Nope, I wanted something with a bit more flavor since we’re rounding the corner into winter and there aren’t many chances to enjoy fresh basil and I figured, why not pesto beans with the sausage?

Why not, indeed?

This is another recipe you can file under easy weeknight vegan meals because it took about half an hour and that includes all the time it took to get the pesto the right consistency.

As far as ingredients go, I used canned canellini beans (known as navy beans in some parts of the world), pesto, grilled shallots and two Beyond Sausage links. The pesto contains: basil, lemon zest, capers, scallions, parsley, roasted red pepper (about a quarter), hot sauce, lemon juice, and vegan parm (ParVeggio).

Grill the shallots and when they’re almost how you want them, toss the links into the skillet and cook using the instructions on the package. They are fairly greasy so if you use oil to cook the shallots, take it easy because there will be grease. Drain and rinse the beans, then warm through and toss with pesto.

I even put a little smear of pesto under the vegan sausage to bring it all together and I topped it with a sprinkling of smoky paprika because it smells as good as it tastes and it adds such depth to just about everything.

Just in case you’re wondering, yes I did wash it down with something ice cold, but it was Harmin which I’ve showed you a million times so I decided not to today. Well…that and the fact that I’m still getting acquainted with my new phone, hence the limited photos for today’s recipe.

Spicy Vegan Cajun Beans & Rice

Rice and beans. Some people hear this dish and turn their noses up at its simplicity while other, like me, think of all the ways I can make this basic meal more interesting. Will I whip up a quick Indian spice? Maybe an herb-y Mediterranean style rice and beans dish for the more relaxed vegan taste buds? Or maybe I’ll keep it simple and take it back to one of my favorite U.S. cities. New Orleans.

Beans are a great source of protein if you care about that sort of thing, but they are also an excellent way to fill out a meal on a budget. And that goes double if you get dry beans. A quick rinse and a soak (quick soak or overnight, the choice is yours), and pop a few cups into a slow cooker, then forget about it until you’re ready to use the beans. One batch of kidney beans and you can have three or four days worth of meals.

So, on to the Cajun rice and beans.

This is a pretty easy meal with a minimal ingredient list. You’ll need beans, choose whatever strikes your fancy but choose a mean that is sturdy and firm so it’ll soak up all the juices and enhance the dish. Pinto beans would be my backup for the dish, or cranberry beans. Take care of the beans however you need to and then grab your cutting board to chop up the veggies.

What you’ll need for this dish is: onion, bell peppers, garlic, celery, plum/grape tomatoes, kidney beans and about 25 grams of crumbled tofu.

The tofu is optional but I wanted to fill it out a little more which is why I only 25 grams.

Add some oil (or not) to a pot and saute the onions, bell pepper, tofu crumbles and celery until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the tomatoes until the tomatoes start to soften and the garlic begins to brown.

Now you’ll want to grab the sauce you whipped up. I use this sauce mix for Cajun or Louisiana-style dishes because the vegan Worcestershire always seems to miss the mark. In a bowl, whisk up: tomato paste, cumin, oregano, chili powder, smoky paprika, vegan Worcestershire sauce, a few drops of dark soy sauce, harissa paste, water & cornstarch. Mix until a sauce forms and add it in with the beans and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until the sauce is nice and thick.

You can put this in slow cooker if you want, but you can whip it up on top of the stove in about 30 minutes. Toss in a bay leaf to give it the flavor that it’s been cooking all day. Add Jasmine rice on the side and you’re ready to get your grub on!

If you want more spice, add Sriracha or jalapeno peppers to the top, but I went pretty crazy with the harissa so it wasn’t necessary.

And hey, don’t be shy about tossing those celery leaves right in with the rest of the vegetables. They have the same nutritional makeup and they provide a nice depth of flavor.

Happy 2019 + Creamy Bean Stew with Herbed Cornbread

Happy 2019!!!!

I’m back and ready to talk plant based food with you!

My posts at the end of the year were a little sparse because it has been a long time since the Hubs and I have lived close to family and now that we are, there were plenty of dinners and parties to attend. Lots of family gatherings means one thing: plenty of cooking.

And with so much time in the kitchen, you can imagine that I over cooking. Completely and totally over it.

Enter, beans. Specifically pinto beans.

Most people hear kidney beans and immediately think about re-fried beans, but that’s not the only thing these beans are good for.

They are a high carb food.

They are cheap as hell.

Low in fat & high in fiber.

Plus they are super easy to cook, especially if you have a slow cooker. Pop them in and cover them with water or stock for 6 to 8 hours and you can separate them, refrigerate them and make whatever you please.

…or you can make stew.

I just love stew because I LOVE a big steaming bowl of vegetables with tons of liquid. Make it thick like stew and I’m even happier. It’s a great way to use veggies before they go bad AND a really good way to make sure you get your daily serving of vegetables. Did I mention that soup is low in calories?

Okay so, I gathered all my ingredients: pinto beans, onion, bell pepper (any color you choose), celery, potatoes and garlic. I always like to saute my vegetables before starting a soup because I think it provides a deeper flavor, particularly when you add a bay leaf or two during the simmer time.

Saute it up and then add herbs & spices before you add the beans to the pot. If you do this in a slow cooker, add everything but the bay leaf in at once and let the slow cooker do all the work. For this recipe, I went old school and did it on top of the stove.

Now what makes this bean and potato stew so delicious is the 2 cups of beans that I set aside until they were cool enough to pop into a food processor. Make sure it’s nice and smooth and then pour it into the broth, and then watch it get nice and thick and creamy. You get all the cream without having to add any additional fat to this recipe.

But if you REALLY need the fat, make some cornbread to go on the side.

I was feeling a little fancy so I added rosemary and thyme to the cornbread recipe but don’t give me too many props because it was a simple recipe with flour, corn meal, plant butter, salt, baking powder and herbs. Bake 12 to 15 minutes and then get ready to get your grub on!

And if you want to kick this awesome vegan meal of cornbread & stew, add a delicious smoked stout to a glass and enjoy your meal!

What’s your go to stew when you’re feeling too lazy to cook?

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Spiced Vegan Medley

In my household we do a lot of cooking. A lot. Most days one of us gets in the kitchen to prepare dinner from scratch and since we made the move to Romania, that pretty much happens seven days a week thanks to the distinct lack of vegan offerings beyond side dishes at most restaurants. That’s a lot of cooking for any household but doubly so when we both have small businesses to maintain so some days we try to keep it simple.

Ish.

It’s not always easy to eat fresh and healthy when you’re not in the mood to spend time in the kitchen, but if it’s important you find ways to do it. Right?

My go to is potatoes. On this night, it was sweet potatoes. Specifically, roasted sweet potatoes.

I saw a recipe online for this really amazing Moroccan spiced dish but I couldn’t find some of the ingredients so I improvised.

This recipe was time consuming but the oven did most of the work, baking the sweet potatoes until they were fork tender. It took about an hour because I found some giant potatoes that I failed to boil or pan roast before popping in the oven, but otherwise it was pretty easy going despite all the ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, all you need is: sweet potatoes, onion, cannellini beans, smoked tofu, red bell pepper, garlic, vegan yogurt, dill, lemon, parsley, turnip with the greens.

I did another oil-free experiment with the remaining ingredients, adding the onion, turnip and peppers to the pot with just a tablespoon of water. It worked well but keep in mind that if you want to reduce the amount of oil/fat in your diet then you’ll have to keep an eye on the pan because you’ll have to add more to avoid burning and starting over. I added the smoked tofu next because when you let it get crispy on the edges it has an amazing smoky, salty flavor that means you won’t have to add more salt to the dish.

Another win-win!

Add the beans and let this cook until you get the results you want, about 5 minutes. This is where I added cumin, paprika and 1/2 diced jalapeno but feel free to add whatever favors you want. Finally, the turnip greens went in last because they don’t take much time to cook.

But a tip I found out while researching this recipe is this: bitter greens have a way of neutralizing spice in any dish so if you want it spicy, add more after the greens have started to wilt. Just drape this mixture over the cooked sweet potatoes and you’ve got a delicious, healthy and totally satisfying meal in about an hour.

If you decide to make it extra spicy like I did, you might want to make a yogurt sauce if you have dinner companions who can’t handle the heat. It was a simple mix of vegan yogurt, fresh dill & parsley, cumin, lemon juice and a pinch of Sriracha.

This meal was a hit with everyone and best of all, afterwards there was no bloating, over-stuffed feeling and you know

what that means…dessert!

Black Beans Vegan & Two Ways

Beans, I’ve learned, are a pretty controversial food when they don’t need to be. Beans are an excellent source of protein and fiber, and beans are also incredibly inexpensive which means you get a lot of meal for your buck. We all (mostly??) have our favorite beans, mine include black beans and garbanzo beans because they’re so flavorful and versatile.

Why am I spouting the benefits of beans? The simple answer is that I’ve become quite a bean advocate over the years, looking at it as a cheap and healthy way to cook. These days I love that there are so many beans when I get the urge for a burger or a patty or some kind of meatless balls. But when I tell people I’m having a black bean & corn taco, I get wicked side eye like I said I was eating toenails and cola. They’re missing out and that’s fine by me.

More for me!

I picked up a half kilogram bag of black beans at the market, soaked them and popped them into the slow cooker for most of the day until they were soft enough to enjoy and I only added salt, herbs and vegetable stock for flavor.

Once the beans were done, I chopped: onions, celery (leaves and all), bell peppers, corn and garlic. Get a good crisp on the vegetables before you add the beans to the mix, this will enhance the flavor of Dish #1, black bean stew.

 

Along with the black beans I added cumin, smoky paprika, cayenne pepper, jalapeno, oregano and thyme. Oh, and I took a can of vegan chili beans, sauce and all, and put them in the blender until they were thick and creamy…and I added that to the broth/bean mixture for a thick stew-y texture that made my mouth water.

Scoop it in a bowl and garnish it as you wish and Dish #1 is complete.

Dish #2 is based on one of my favorite things back in my college days. Chili Mac from Steak n’ Shake. About fifteen minutes from campus there was an all night restaurant and chili mac was an amazing distraction, reward or way to commiserate about something I thought was life or death at the time. Ah, the stressful ol’ days.

But I saw this cute lasagna style noodles in the pantry and I knew what to do with the leftover bean stew. Chili Mac!

All you need is noodles, jalapenos (okay, more jalapenos) and cheese (optional) and you’re ready to go.

 

This particular cheese was a vegan Gouda that smelled a lot like Gouda and it wasn’t too bad on the taste buds either. I only added a little to my plate but the Hubs ate it up. Twice!

Grab y our favorite ice cold beverage and enjoy.