Chili el mole

Happy new year, Naked Vegan Lunchers!  I hope your holiday season was as delightful and full of ridiculous amounts of grub as mine was.  I am very fortunate to be part of several families who are all so accommodating and wonderful about the whole vegan thing.  We did Christmas dinner at home on Christmas Eve with my family and it was a fully vegan affair; with not so much as a peep of disapproval from our omnivorous guests (but, like, who is going to complain when I’m serving them Chocolate Pecan Pie with Coco Whip?).  Christmas Day was another great meal that left us popping the buttons on our pants, oh, and then another one on Boxing Day…

It’s now freezing cold up here in Canada, and for today, with snow squalls and minus reallyfuckingcold temperatures, chili was just the ticket.  I had leftover red wine in the fridge from serving guests at Christmas, and I don’t drink booze so I wanted to find a way to cook with it.  This chili el mole came to mind, with all the complex, toasty flavours you’d expect from a mole without the laborious, 25+ ingredient prep.

I’d recommend serving it with a wedge of the Pumpkin Corn Bread from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new book, The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion.  I got it for Christmas and have been pawing through it at every occasion since.

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Chili el mole

Serves 4-6 people

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chipotles, deseeded and finely minced
2 small zucchinis, diced
1 cup cremini mushrooms, diced
2 tbsp tomato paste
3 tbsp chili seasoning
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp cumin
1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 large (28 oz.) can stewed tomatoes
salt to taste
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
A handful of crushed tortilla chips, as garnish (optional)

In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, to which you will add the onions and saute until pearly and translucent. Add the garlic and chipotles and saute for a minute longer. Add the zucchinis and mushrooms, and cook until they’ve sweat out liquid and have softened. Add the tomato paste, chili seasoning, cinnamon, cumin, water, red wine and salt to taste. Stir until incorporated. Add the kidney beans, lentils, stewed tomatoes. Stir everything together, bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and let simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chocolate chips, letting them melt and then stirring to incorporate. Taste for salt, top with optional crushed tortilla chips, and dig in.

Jamaican vibes and arroz con leche

We’ve been in our new house for about 6 months now and I finally feel like my kitchen groove is coming back.  You know when you move and there’s a period where you don’t have your bearings about you — which drawer is your favourite ladle in?  Where is your 1/2 cup dry measure?  AGH.  But I’m comin’ back, baby.  Today we went out to get some groceries today we ended up at our favourite international shop.  They have EVERYTHING.  And among that everything was callaloo!  We had callaloo in Jamaica and really liked it.  Well, I like any greens, really…but I found the preparation of callaloo in Ital style to be super delicious.  So of course we had to get it and make it, and we made curried TVP to go with it because it’s such a staple at all the Ital/Rasta places we’ve eaten at.  And brown rice.

Vegan Caribbean Food

I made the callaloo per the instructions here and here’s what we did for the TVP:

  • 3 cups dried TVP chunks
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/4 scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and finely diced (or leave out if you’re heat averse!)
  • 2 stalks green onion, sliced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp gravy browning
  • 2 tbsp Jamaican curry powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put some water to a boil, get your TVP in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the TVP until well covered.  Let sit for 10 minutes, or until TVP is softened.  Drain and set aside.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add your garlic first, get it to a nice blonde colour (30 seconds), then add your onions and carrots.  Stir to coat in the oil, and cook for 5 minutes (add a splash of water as necessary to deglaze if things are sticking).  Add in your soaked TVP, green onion, water, coconut milk, scotch bonnet, browning, thyme, curry powder and salt.  Stir everything up, pop the lid on, and let it cook down to a nice thick sauce, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Season to taste and serve with brown rice and callaloo on the side.

I also had a hankering for some arroz con leche which is just a Mexican rice pudding with cinnamon.  I made it in my rice cooker using this recipe and replaced the milk with soy milk.

Vegan Arroz con Leche

Now I’m stuffed, sleepy, and happy I’m getting my culinary groove back.

Watch this space.

Tempeh Asado Tacos, Braised Kale and Lime Cilantro Rice

A light summery evening called for dinner on the balcony.  What’s more summery than tacos?  Okay, probably a lot of things.  But really, who needs an excuse for tacos?  Tempeh tacos!  Tempeh asado tacos!

We made the tempeh asado from Viva Vegan (you can find the recipe online in Google Books here!) which is one of our absolute favourite ways to eat tempeh and it’s dead easy.

To assemble, lay 2-3 pieces of tempeh onto your tortilla and kind of smoosh with a fork to break them up.  Then, top with shredded cabbage (ours was marinated in a vinegary jalapeno dressing like the Curdito salad, also from Viva Vegan), thinly sliced radishes and tomatillo salsa.  Perfection, thy name is tempeh taco.

Paired with the lime cilantro rice (also from Viva Vegan) and a simple side of garlicky braised kale, it made for perfect balcony dinner food.

– Crystal

Picadillo Mexicano + Taco Salad

And now for a couple from the it-doesn’t-photograph-in-an-appetizing-way-but-it’s-delicious-i-promise files.

The Picadillo Mexicano from Vegan Explosion is super duper easy and makes for a quicky, cheapy weeknight meal on nights where I’m at the gym until late and we don’t feel like doing anything big.

And a big ol’ taco salad!  This one is romaine, arugula, black beans, tomato, avocado, cilantro, tortilla chips, salsa and some sanctuary dressing from the Appetite for Reduction cookbook.

Ugly, delicious food.  Sometimes the best kind!

– Crystal

Baked Chimichangas

Praise quick weeknight meals like this one, the Baked Chimichangas from 500 Vegan Recipes.  Crumbled tofu and black beans smothered in a really easy and delicious cheesy salsa “queso”, popped in the oven and baked for a little bit, then served topped with some more salsa (or vegan sour cream if you’ve got it).

There’s lots of additional things you could throw into this to change it up.  Diced zucchini, spinach, chopped peppers, chiles, caramelized onions.

– Crystal

Jackfruit Carnitas

Jackfruit carnitas is a dish that has a few different variations floating around.  We found some canned young jackfruit in brine in the asian market, and decided to give my friend Melisser Elliott’s version a go, which you can see in this video here.  Anyway, it’s supposed to mimic pulled pork and it really does!  I was almost thrown off at first at how meaty it looked.  Texture wise, it’s a bit softer than meat, but delicious.  Totally delicious.

Jackfruit is an interesting thing, I had never had it before, but apparently in its young form, it is used quite commonly in many south asian countries where people perhaps don’t eat meat for religious or economical reasons.

Beware of the heat from the salsa verde you use to make it though – Trevor picked some up from the latin market and – OUCH! – it was hot hot hot.  Next time, we’ll use a milder version, so the other flavours can shine through more.

We filled tacos with the carnitas, along with some fresh guacamole and lettuce to cool it down a bit. Some vegan sour cream would have been lovely on it – a nice homemade cashew-based one would do the trick.  We had that with some fried plantains, and tortilla chips with salsa. We also scored some frozen tropical fruit pulp at the latin market – guava, mango and lulo – so we decided to blend that up with some fresh pineapple and orange juice, and have some yummy, healthy smoothies with dinner, to help cool our scorching tongues.

There are two states in which plantains are consumed – when they are green (made into tostones) or very ripe, nearly black.  We mostly eat them in the latter stage.  Cooking plantains is very easy. Let them ripen until the skin is black and soft…they aren’t like bananas, which would be no good by that point; you want them to be nice and black or atleast speckled a lot.  Peel them by cutting off the ends and then slicing through the skin lengthwise. It should peel off very easily this way. I like to slice them in four pieces, but you can really slice them up however you like. Heat up a tablespoon of coconut oil (or your preferred oil) in a frying pan on medium. Put the plantains in when the oil is hot. Squish ’em a bit with the back of a spoon if you like. Sprinkle them with lime juice as they fry. Cook them until they are a little crispy and brown on the outside. Now sprinkle a dash of salt on them and they’re ready to eat.

This is NOT meat!  

– Crystal

Taco Talk-o

No kiddin’, we love latin food.  We eat lots of tacos and are always trying new things to put in them.  Vive Vegan by Terry Hope Romero is for those of us who like a little latin gusto in our lives.

From that, we have our first taco, stuffed with Tempeh Asado from Vive Vegan.

Tempeh asado, shredded cabbage and carrot, vegan sour cream, salsa and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.  Super good.  See the end of the post for the recipe for the tempeh, which is super easy, nutritious and most importantly, flavourful.
Next up, a chipotle seitan and kale taco with avocado, salsa, sour cream and daiya cheese.  The seitan was the famous Seitan O’ Greatness recipe, which will follow below.  
And another latin inspired plate.  From top left, going clockwise:

Vive Vegan’s Mexican Street Corn, Vive Vegan’s Curdito salad, fried plantains, some rice and a random bbqed potato.  Seen in the far top left of the photo, lime juice and hot sauce…two perfect condiments for all of this.

Tempeh Asado

1 (8-ounce) cake tempeh

Steaming tempeh in a microwave is fast and less messy. Place the sliced tempeh in a glass microwave-safe bowl with a lid and add 1/2 cup water. Toss the tempeh to moisten. Cover and microwave on high 5 to 6 minutes, or until the tempeh has softened and absorbed some of the liquid. Drain the excess water. Your tempeh is now ready to marinate!
Marinade
1/3 cup light-colored Mexican beer or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely grated
1/2 rounded teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled by rubbing between your palms (releases flavor and eliminates any coarse leaves)

1. Slice the entire tempeh cake in half length-wise, then slice it into thirds. From here you can either slice each third on a diagonal to form triangles (good if serving as an entree) or leave as rectangles for use in sandwiches or tacos. Steam the tempeh in either a steamer basket, a covered sauce pan with 1 cup of water over high heat, or a microwave as directed above. Be sure to drain it of any excess water before adding to the marinade.

2. In a square pan or glass baking dish, whisk all of the marinade ingredients together. Add the tempeh and flip each piece over a few times to help it absorb the marinade. Let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature. While this is going on, you can heat a cast iron grill pan over medium high heat. If pan-frying the tempeh, generously oil the pan with peanut or canola oil. Using metal tongs, place the pieces of tempeh on your grill or pan, taking care not to crown the pan. Brush with some of the extra marinade. Grill on each side for 3 or 4 minutes, flip and keep brushing with marinade, using up the rest of the marinade on the tempeh as it cooks. Tempeh should not cook for more than 6 to 7 minutes total, or it may become too dry.

3. Serve hot tempeh immediately. To serve in tacos, cut the tempeh into squares as directed above, grill, and coarsely chop the hot tempeh into bite-size bits. Serve in soft corn tortillas with sliced radishes, chopped cabbage, salsa, and a sprinkle of lime juice.

Seitan O’ Greatness


Can be used in just about any application that calls for something meaty, including just slicing and eating as-is.

1.5 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cups nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1-2 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
3/4 cup cold water
4 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 325°.

In a large mixing bowl mix dry ingredients. Mix the rest of the ingredients (liquid ingredients) in a smaller mixing bowl. Whisk well until mixed.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix well, then knead for several minutes.

Form into a log (6-8″ long), wrap tightly in foil, twisting ends. Bake for 90 minutes. When done baking, unwrap and leave out to cool all the way. Then wrap it foil or plastic and refrigerate. Slice to use as desired.

– Crystal