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Vegan Planet: March 2012

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Sloppy Giuseppes

When I was a kid, it was just as likely that my mom would make me a spicy Italian sausage sandwich for lunch as it was that she’d make a PB & J.  Sometimes she’d make sausage with onions and bell peppers.  But my favorite was when she simmered crumbled sausage and mushrooms in a rich tomato sauce.  Mom would spoon this spicy mixture onto crusty Italian rolls. I came to realize this was sort of an Italian version of “Sloppy Joes.” 

I developed a vegan version of this childhood favorite and the recipe is in TheVegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook.  I call the sandwiches “Sloppy Giuseppes” because they’re like Italian Sloppy Joes. 

Hard to believe The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook is ten years old this year.  It remains a personal favorite and paging through the sandwich chapter, I remember some of the reasons why that’s so.  To list a few:
·       Spicy Tofu Po’Boys
·       Seitan “Cheesesteaks
·      Tempeh Reuben
·       Chicken-Out Salad
·       Tofu Egg Salad
·       Nothin’s Fishy Tuna Salad
·       Avocado Salad Wrap with Salsa
·       Hungry for Hummus Pita
·       Cajun Bean Burgers
·       Amazing Grain Burgers
·       Cardamom-Spiced Lentil-Potato Wraps

And, of course, Sloppy Giuseppes.  Yes, please.

My original recipe for Sloppy Giuseppes called for chopped veggie burgers or vegetarian burger crumbles and bottled marinara sauce.  I’ve adapted it by adding other options including TVP and chopped vegan sausage links. I’ve also increased the amount of spice to a degree that would make my mother proud (but you can cut way back if you’re making this for kids that don’t share my childhood fondness for heat.)

Try this quick and easy recipe.  Served with a salad, it makes a hearty meal for lunch or dinner.

Sloppy Giuseppes
Adapted from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson © 2002.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
3 frozen vegan burgers, thawed and chopped; or 8 ounces vegan burger crumbles; or 1 1/2 cups reconstituted TVP; or 3 to 4 vegan Italian sausage links, purchased or homemade; or 1 1/2 cups chopped seitan or tempeh
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups bottled marinara sauce
4 Italian sandwich rolls, split and toasted

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the veggie burger, fennel, red pepper flakes, cayenne, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes to heat through and blend flavors.  Spoon the mixture on rolls and serve.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Bananas Foster Split

...or would that be "Banana Split Foster"?  Either way, it tasted fantastic!  The inspiration for making this decadent treat was the So Delicious Butter Pecan Almond Milk Ice Cream in my freezer.

The generous folks at So Delicious recently sent me two huge boxes full of their new almond milk products including regular and vanilla almond milk (with lots more protein than other brands); adorable little almond milk mini ice cream bars (the Mocha Almond Fudge Bars are beyond amazing); and several flavors of their almond milk ice cream.

After sampling the Mocha Almond Fudge bars, I know we'd love the ice cream by the same name.  The vanilla and chocolate almond milk ice creams were also outstanding and very rich tasting.  There were, however, two stand-out flavors that I knew deserved special treatment to fully appreciate.

The first was the Cherry Amaretto.  As soon as I saw it I knew I had to transform it into an ice cream cake.  As it happened, I needed a special dessert for company that weekend, so I partially melted the gorgeous pink ice cream (with huge pieces of real cherries throughout) and spread it into a springform pan lined with a chocolate cookie crumb crust. I then refroze it and served it for dessert drizzled with melted chocolate.  Our friends couldn't stop raving about it. (sorry I didn't get a photo...)

Then came the Butter Pecan, which happens to be Jon's favorite ice cream flavor so I decided to use it to make one of Jon's favorite desserts: Bananas Foster.  I served it in banana split dishes and added extra pecans to the dark rum sauce.  It was a sublime lovefest of rum-braised bananas and pecans over the most amazing butter pecan almond milk ice cream.

A huge thanks to So Delicious for sending me these wonderful products to sample.  If you see any of these new almond milk treats at the store, try them for yourself. Like the name says, they are "SO Delicious"!


Friday, March 16, 2012


Friday with Friends Interview + Cookbook Giveaway

Late-breaking news:  I'm thrilled to announce that today I am the "friend" on the "Fridays with Friends" feature on Allison's Gourmet Sweet Talk blog. I hope you take the time to read the interview. Allison asked me lots of great questions.  You can read my tips for going vegan, find out how I decide what to write, and lots more.

PLUS...while you're there you can enter to win a copy of Quick-Fix Vegan.  Now for the really fun part:  the comment you're asked to leave to enter the cookbook giveaway is to suggest a theme for my next cookbook.  Who knows, not only might you win a copy of my latest might also be the inspiration for a future cookbook!

Even if you already have a copy of Quick-Fix Vegan, enter the giveaway -- if you win, you can always pass it on to a friend -- and I'd love to hear what theme you'd pick for a new book!

To clarify: the cookbook giveaway is on the Allison's Gourmet blog site (via the above links) -- not on this site.  Good luck!

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Corned Seitan and Cabbage

This St. Patrick’s Day consider making the Corned Seitan and Cabbage from Vegan on the Cheap.  Not only is it a delicious way to celebrate the holiday, but the leftovers will reward you with the makings of the most amazing Reuben sandwiches this side of a New York deli. 

If you don’t already have Vegan on the Cheap, I do hope you’ll get it soon because the recipes in that book can save you some serious $$$ (and give you great meals in the bargain!) In the meantime, though, I’ll share the recipe for Corned Seitan and Cabbage so you can celebrate this St. Patrick’s Day in style. 

If you prefer some lighter fare to mark the day, try my Colcannon Quesadillas. You can find the recipe on OneGreenPlanet.  Mashed potatoes + spinach (or kale) + tortillas = an easy and delicious treat that can be enjoyed as is or served with picante sauce or a spicy mint chutney (for an Irish-Mexican-Indian fusion feast).

For more St. Patrick's Day recipes, check out Party Vegan.  Here's the menu from Party Vegan's St. Patrick's Day chapter, along with the recipe for Colcannon Fritters.

Now here’s that seitan recipe….Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Corned Seitan and Cabbage
Look for pickling spices in the spice aisle in your supermarket. From Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson © 2010. 
Tip: For extra flavor, try replacing 1 to 2 tablespoons of the water in the seitan mixture with 1 to 2 tablespoons of pickle juice (from a jar of dill pickles).

1 sweet yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large carrot, cut into 1/4-inch slices or 1 cup baby carrots, halved lengthwise
1 small head cabbage, sliced, reserving 2 large leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups vital wheat gluten
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 cup water, or more as needed
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse brown mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pickling spices
1 pound Yukon Gold or small red potatoes, halved or cut into chunks if large
1 cup vegetable broth

1.  Lightly oil the insert of a large oval slow cooker or spray it with cooking spray. Arrange the onion, garlic, carrots, and sliced cabbage in the bottom of the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  
2. In a large bowl, combine the vital wheat gluten, onion powder, coriander, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Add the water, soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of the mustard, and vinegar. Mix well, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry, then knead for 2 minutes until smooth. Shape the seitan to fit inside your cooker.
3.  In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons mustard and the sugar until well blended, then spread evenly on top of the seitan.  Sprinkle the pickling spices on top, pressing them with your hand to imbed them in the mustard mixture.
4. Carefully place the seitan in the cooker on top of the two reserved cabbage leaves. Arrange the potatoes around the seitan.  Pour the broth over the potatoes and season them with salt and pepper.   Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on Low until the seitan and vegetables are cooked, 7 to 8 hours.
5. To serve, remove the vegetables and seitan from the slow cooker.  Cut the seitan into slices and arrange them on a serving platter.  Surround with the vegetables and spoon the cooking liquid over all. Serve hot.

Note: This is best when made in a larger cooker to accommodate vegetables, but if you have a smaller 4-quart slow cooker, you can still make this recipe—just use half the amount of vegetables so you do not overfill the cooker.  Alternatively, you can cook the potatoes and cabbage in the oven or on top of the stove and just use the slow cooker to cook the seitan on top of the onion and cabbage leaves (these give added flavor to the seitan and help hold its share), adding the vegetable broth and garlic. 

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Thursday, March 8, 2012


Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza

Welcome to my latest installment of “You made WHAT with cauliflower???”  This time, I used the dependable crucifer to make a version of spicy plant-based Buffalo wings. And while I was at it, I thought it would be fun to use it as a pizza topping. Recalling that classic Buffalo wings are often served with ranch dressing, I made a ranch-style sauce to spread on the pizza dough before topping it with the spicy cauliflower.

Jon is used to my cooking experiments, but even he thought this was a bit odd – until he tasted it, that is.  In his words, “Wow, this is really, really good!”  Fact is, we couldn’t stop eating it!  Spicy, creamy, doughy, crisp, delicious – all in one luscious pizza.

This recipe uses a very straightforward classic-style Buffalo wing sauce for the cauliflower, but it would be equally good coated with your favorite barbecue sauce.  Likewise, the Buffalo cauliflower can be enjoyed without the pizza crust, with the Ranch sauce used for dipping. (Note: if you don't like cauliflower (gasp) you can instead use strips of seitan, tempeh, or extra-firm tofu that has been baked or sauteed and slathered with the hot sauce.)

I had some roasted asparagus on hand, so I arranged a few thin spears as spokes between the pieces of cauliflower. You can make your favorite pizza dough (such as the one in Vegan on the Cheap) or save time and use the pizza dough from Trader Joes or another source.  Here’s the recipe:

Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza
If you like lots of hot sauce, you can double up on that part of the recipe (it freezes well, too).

Ranch Sauce:
Hot Sauce: 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Remove the leaves and tough core from the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower on a cutting board, cored side down and cut it into 1/4-inch thick slices, as if you were cutting a loaf of bread.  Arrange the cauliflower slices on a baking pan that has been lined with parchment paper, lightly oiled, or sprayed with cooking spray. (You may need more than one pan.) Season the cauliflower with salt and pepper to taste and roast until tender and nicely browned, about 20 minutes, turning once about halfway through with a large metal spatula. 
While the cauliflower is roasting, stretch the pizza dough onto the pizza pan and set aside, then make the hot sauce and Ranch sauce.
For the Ranch Sauce: In a food processor, combine the Ranch Sauce ingredients and process until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if needed. Set aside.
For the Hot Sauce: Combine the hot sauce ingredients in a small saucepan, stirring until hot and the Earth Balance is melted.  Set aside.

To assemble the pizza: Keep the oven at 425 degrees F. Spread a layer of the ranch sauce on top of the pizza dough and set aside. Pour the hot sauce over the roasted cauliflower, turning to coat.  Arrange the coated cauliflower on top of the pizza, drizzling any remaining hot sauce onto the cauliflower. Bake until the crust is nicely browned, about 15 minutes.  Serve hot.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Double-Duty Seitan in a Slow Cooker

For those of you who don't follow me on Facebook (where I already shared this), I wanted to show you what I made in my new slow cooker recently: "double-duty seitan."

Basically, I wanted to make a pot roast type meal, but with smaller chunks of seitan and I also wanted to make a large piece of seitan that I could freeze for later use. To do this, I simply cut half the batch of seitan into small chunks to simmer right in with the veggies and then I placed the remaining large piece of seitan on top of the other ingredients to let it steam-cook in the slow cooker.  When everything was cooked, I set aside the large piece to cool (and then later wrapped and froze it) and we had the rest for dinner -- with leftovers. I used the slow cooker pot roast recipe from Vegan on the Cheap.

As for the slow cooker itself, it's the Hamilton Beach model that can be used on the stovetop, which will be great if I want to saute some ingredients for a few minutes before slow cooking, or if I want to reduce liquid at the end. I've only used it a few times, so I can't give a full report, but it seems to work just fine so far.  I got it to replace my large Crockpot SmartPot, that turned out not to be so smart after all -- it never got about "warm."  The company replaced it with a new one -- that had the same defect!  So I decided to switch to Hamilton Beach (I have a 4-quart Hamilton Beach forever that I love).

Not sure what's up with the SmartPot -- several of the recipe testers for my upcoming slow cooker book have them and they work fine.  I too had one that worked great for many years until the insert got a hairline crack in the bottom and I had to replace it.  It went downhill from there.

What kind of slow cooker do you have?  Does it have any "quirks" or does it do the job well?


Monday, March 5, 2012


Giveaway Winner + Winning Q & A

Wow, this was such a fascinating giveaway!  There were so many great questions posted.  I wish there was the time and space to answer them all, but there would literally be enough material to fill a book!

The good news is that ONE of the questions has been answered and it's the question from the winner who was chosen at random to win a copy of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition by Julieanna Hever. 

The lucky winner is #24: Katie!  Congratulations, Katie.  Send me an e-mail with your mailing address and I'll get the book right out to you. (If I don't hear from you within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.)

Now here's Katie's question:

“My fiance and I have recently started a veg. protein based diet and are wondering why fish should be avoided? All we've ever heard is that the omegas and lean protein are good for us?!”

and here' Julieanna's response:
Fish is one of the most polluted foods you could put into your body. Because our oceans have become giant dumping grounds for most of our environmental pollutants, fish contain toxins such as DDT, dioxin, mercury, and PCB's. You are essentially consuming the lifetime's worth of exposure to these harmful chemicals being collected in its flesh. Further, fish is high in animal protein, which may contribute to chronic disease. Finally, fish do not contain antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber which you can find in plant proteins. Omega-3 fatty acids, the type that aggrandizes fish as a health food, can easily be found in plant foods such as walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and soybeans.
Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T., The Plant-BasedDietitian 

Thanks to Julieanna for her guest post on dietary oil last week, and also for her response to the winning question.  And thank you all for participating in this giveaway!

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