Chipotle Style Vegan Tofu Sofritas

We almost never eat at fast food restaurants. But we do love Chipotle and Qdoba because eating at these Mexican fast food places makes us feel less guilty, I suppose. Everything looks and tastes fresh and its easy to add/delete ingredients in the assembly line to make it healthy and delicious. While Yumjay would always load his burrito bowls with chicken or steak, I wouldn’t have much options, except for rice and black beans and the add-ons. So when Chipotle introduced their tofu Sofritas sometime last year in Seattle, I was beyond thrilled. It was a dream come true for vegetarians/vegans.

tofu sofritas

Organic tofu is braised with chipotle chilis, roasted poblanos, and a blend of aromatic spices to make this delicious sofritas according to Chipotle website. You can try that or simply use Trader Joe’s Taco seasoning mix to get the same delicious taste. I cant tell you how simple and versatile this dish is. Be it for breakfast tacos or burritos, this tofu sofritas is definitely something that carnivores and vegans would love alike.

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Between this and potato burrito, its really hard for me to say which tastes better but i suppose tofu is healthier than potatoes. This would make a lovely weeknight dinner or a great addition to your burrito bar at your next party.

sofritas bowl

Ingredients

1 block organic extra firm tofu

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 medium green pepper, finely diced

1 tomato, chopped

1/2 packet Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning mix or make your own from here

2 teaspoons oil

salt

Ingredients for Chipotle style burrito bowl

1 cup cooked white or brown rice

1 tablespoon cilantro, finely chopped

2 teaspoons lime juice

Salt

1 cup cooked or canned black beans

Pico de gallo

Guacamole

Hot salsa ( if you can’t make your own, i’d highly recommend Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica)

vegan cheese (optional, use regular cheese for a non-vegan version)

vegan sour cream/plain yogurt (optional, use regular sour cream/plain yogurt for a non-vegan version)

Method for tofu sofritas

1. Heat oil in a pan and when oil is hot, add onions. Cook till they are almost brown.

2. Add green peppers and cook for 5-7 minutes, till they turn slightly soft.

3. Add chopped tomatoes with a pinch of salt, cook till they turn soft and mushy.

4. Add taco seasoning mix along with crumbled tofu and mix well.

5. Let it cook on medium flame for 5-7 minutes, till all the water is absorbed and the tofu mixture is thoroughly heated.

6. To assemble the burrito bowl, add cilantro, lime juice and salt to cooked rice, give it a good stir.

7. Place rice, beans and tofu sofritas in a bowl.

8. Top with pico de gallo, hot salsa and guacamole.

9. Add vegan cheese and sour cream (optional) and serve.

 

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Vegan Vietnamese Spring Rolls With Peanut Dipping Sauce

We have been having some good weather in Seattle for the past couple of days. I even stepped out without a coat yesterday. This kind of rare good weather day in Seattle calls for something laid-back, easy and at the same time healthy because i want to enjoy the weather and cook something elaborate. These vegan raw spring rolls are right up my alley because they are easy, healthy and guilt-free.

spring rolls 2

The first time i made these, i took them to a friend’s house for super bowl along with this no so healthy potato chip spirals. Since then i have been making these for lunch regularly. These are good by themselves, but when you pair it with a peanut dipping sauce or even Sriracha, they are even better.

spring rolls 4

The best thing about these rolls is you can add any veggies of your choice and tofu or any other protein. If you want to go the non-vegan route, shrimps are a good choice along with veggies in these rolls. I got my rice papers from Cost Plus World Market, you can find them in most grocery stores in the Asian food aisle. Working with rice papers may seem difficult initially, but within couple of rolls, you will totally get the hang of it.

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These rolls taste best when eaten immediately. If you plan to serve for a party or take it to a picnic, cover them with a damp paper towel, they will be as good as fresh.

dip

Ingredients for spring rolls

10 rice paper sheets

1 cup shredded cabbage

1 cup shredded carrots

10 cilantro leaves, whole

10 mint leaves, whole

1 block extra firm organic tofu, drained and cut into thin strips

1 medium head lettuce

Other optional ingredients

cooked vermicelli rice noodles

red/orange/green pepper

cucumber

Ingredients for dipping sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup hot water

2 tablespoons minced ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon or more red pepper flakes

Method

1. Combine all the vegetables and noodles (if using) in a large bowl. Place tofu, cilantro and mint in separate bowls.

2. To soften the rice papers, fill a pie plate or cake pan with warm water. Place a rice paper in water for 30 seconds. Remove and place on a work surface for 30 seconds.

3. On the bottom third of the sheet, place 1/4 cup of vegetable/noodle mixture. Place few strips of tofu and top with cilantro and mint.

4. Fold the bottom of the paper up and over the vegetable mixture, then fold each side toward the center, rolling gently and as tightly as possible from the bottom until completely rolled.

5. Place the roll on a plate and repeat steps 2-4 till all the ingredients are used up.

6. To make the dipping sauce, combine all the ingredients listed under dipping sauce in a bowl. Season with red pepper flakes.

Vegan Biryani

Biryani is an Indian dish most often made with fragrant basmati rice, spices and vegetables or meat. This dish is believed to have originated in Turkey and brought into India by travelers and merchants. There is a lot of difference in the preparation of this dish between north and south India and in south India almost each town has its own special biryani. It is hard to say which is superior because each method has its own unique flavor. Yumjay is a biryani connoisseur and while he prefers biryani with chicken, he couldn’t stop eating this vegan biryani which i made last weekend.

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My friend LH gave me this biryani recipe and i was quite surprised that it had sambar powder and 7 Thai green chilies for every cup of rice. I was very skeptically about this recipe because i have never cooked biryani with sambar powder and the quantity of chilies seemed excessive for a medium-spicy person like me. Boy, was i wrong! It turned out to be a very flavorful biryani with minimal prep work and 7 chilies didn’t make it super spicy.  Sambar powder is available in most Indian grocery stores and the main ingredients in the powder are a variety of lentils, coriander seeds and red chilies. This is a great weeknight dinner recipe, it took me about 45 minutes from start to finish.

biryani


Ingredients

1 cup basmati rice

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

1 medium potato, skin peeled and cubed

8 green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/4 cup fresh or frozen green peas

1 medium carrot, cubed

6 cauliflower florets

7 Thai green chilies ( do not cut)

1 teaspoon sambar powder

2 tablespoons oil

2 cloves

1 one-inch piece cinnamon

2 bay leaves

2 green cardamom

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 one-inch piece ginger, minced

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

salt

Method

1. Wash and soak basmati rice in 2 cups of water.

2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker or a large pot. When oil is hot, add cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cinnamon. Cook for a minute.

3. Add onions and cook till they turn soft.

4. Add ginger, garlic and Thai green chilies, cook for a minute.

5. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt, cook till they turn soft and mushy.

6. Add sambar powder and salt, mix well.

7. Add all the vegetables along with cilantro and mint, mix to coat well in the spices.

8. Add drained basmati rice, mix gently.

9. If cooking in pressure cooker, add 1.5 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Check for salt and cover with lid. Let the rice cook for one whistle and simmer for 10 minutes. Once the pressure is completely released, open and gently fluff the rice with a fork. If cooking on stove-top, add 2 cups of water and close with a tight fitting lid. Let it cook on medium flame for 15 minutes and simmer for 10 minutes.

10. Garnish with more cilantro and mint (optional) and serve hot.

Vegan Banana Flower Stir-Fry

Banana flowers also known as banana blossoms are the flowers from a banana tree. And just like bananas, they are edible and are commonly used in Thai cuisine for a salad or soup. In south India these flowers are used to make fritters or a simple and delicious stir-fry which can be eaten along side rice and a curry like sambar. This was my first time cooking with banana flower.

banana flower

While i really liked the taste of this stir-fry, i didn’t quite enjoy the cleaning involved to get to the tender, edible leaves inside. I got this flower from my local Indian grocery store, i read somewhere that Asian grocery stores carry them in their fresh produce section, all cleaned up and soaked in water. I think that’s the way to go with these labor-intensive flowers. If you wish to spend 30 minutes cleaning one flower, here’s how to do it. Remove the dark, tough petals. Each layer will have a few pale pink leaves which are edible. Remove the stamen from each leaf along with the white plastic paper like wrapper (shown in the pic below) and discard. Save the rest in a bowl of water mixed with few drops of lemon juice. This is done to prevent oxidation.

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These flowers are rich in fiber and  vitamins A and C. They taste like leeks, with a slight crunch and are cooked with Indian spices and grated coconut in this delicious stir-fry. These flowers can also be paired with crumbled lentils to make usili. Minus the work involved in getting to the edible parts, this recipe is a keeper.

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Ingredients

1 banana flower, cleaned and edible parts chopped into small pieces

2 teaspoons oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon split black gram/urad dal

1 tablespoon split Bengal gram/channa dal

1/4 teaspoon powdered asafetida

2 dried red chilies

3 tablespoons grated coconut

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

few curry leaves

salt

Method

1. Place chopped banana flower along with water and turmeric powder in a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and let it cook for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a pan and when oil is hot, add mustard seeds. Let it splutter.

3. Add black gram and cook for a minute till it turns reddish-brown.

4. Add Bengal gram and cook for a minute.

5. Add powdered asafetida and curry leaves, cook for 30 seconds.

6. Add banana flower and salt, cook for few minutes on medium heat till all the moisture evaporates .

7. Add grated coconut, mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes.

8. Serve hot with rice.

Vegan Tofu Lettuce Wraps

Have you guys been to P.F.Changs and tasted their ah-mazing lettuce wraps? I hope your answer is a yes. If you haven’t tasted them, your prayers have been answered. This recipe adapted from here is the closest you can get to the real deal. Even Yumjay, who doesn’t care much for tofu loves them. I love that they even have them on their happy hour menu. But with an impatient preschooler, a peaceful meal in a restaurant is almost next to impossible. So what does a girl do when she wants to eat these wraps on a whim? Make them at home, of course:) The list of ingredients may be long, but it wont take you more than 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s faster than driving, waiting and ordering at P.F.Changs.

vegan lettuce wraps

The water chestnuts add a nice crunch to the spicy, mildly sweet tofu scramble. Add more brown sugar or leave out the red chili powder if you cant handle spicy food. Pair this with any type of lettuce of your choice and enjoy the lunar New Year celebrations. This also doubles up as a healthy, tasty super bowl snack and can be made one day in advance. It frees up your game day to root for your favorite team..go hawks!:)

lettuce wraps

Ingredients for tofu stir fry

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 block, organic firm tofu, cut into small cubes

1 8oz can water chestnuts, diced

1 small onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

salt

Ingredients for sauce

3 tablespoons organic soy sauce or tamari

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 teaspoon red chili powder

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup warm water

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

2 cloves garlic, minced

Other ingredients

Organic iceberg lettuce or any variety of lettuce

handful of rice noodles pan fried in oil (optional)

Method

1. Place warm water in a bowl and dissolve brown sugar. Add other ingredients listed under sauce and mix well. Set aside.

2. Heat olive and sesame oil in a wok. When oil is hot, add all the ingredients listed under tofu stir fry and cook for 7-10 minutes until all the ingredients are cooked through.

3. Add sauce and mix well, keep stirring constantly on medium heat, till all the moisture is absorbed and all the ingredients are well coated with the sauce.

4. Season with salt.

5. Serve hot with lettuce and rice noodles on the side.

Vegan Ginger Scallion Noodles

Noodles are an integral part of Chinese cuisine. Noodles symbolize longevity, therefore a must eat on Chinese New Year’s day and birthdays. Asian stores even sell “longevity noodles” around this time of the year, they come coiled in a big bundle, it is considered unlucky to cut up a strand . Anyway, this ginger scallion noodles recipe adapted from here is made with ramen noodles, i bought the non deep-fried, vegan version from the Asian store. You can also use regular ramen noodles and discard the seasoning mix that comes along or any other noodles of your choice. These noodles burst with fresh flavors from ginger and scallions , don’t you just want to dive into the bowl in the picture? The good news is, it can be put together in a flash, make this on Friday and enjoy a long, happy life:)

noodles

Ingredients

10 oz noodles

1 tablespoon oil (i used vegetable oil)

1 large bunch green onions, white and green parts sliced

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari

1 teaspoon red chili flakes

salt

Method

1. Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain and set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pan and when its hot, add green onions, ginger, garlic and cilantro. Stir the ingredients for a minute in oil and remove pan from heat.

3. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, red chili flakes, vinegar and salt to the pan. Mix well and let it sit for 10 minutes.

4. Toss with cooked noodles and serve hot.

Vegan Gluten-Free Savory Aebleskiver

Kuzhipaniyaram is the south Indian version of Danish Aebleskiver. Most often, left over idli or dosa batter along with onions and green chilies is used in the preparation of this dish. The addition of Bengal gram gives you a slightly crispy texture. You can just add ground Bengal gram and fenugreek seeds and don’t have to wait for the batter to ferment if you already have left over dosa or idli batter. You need a special aebleskiver pan to make this dish. Traditionally, the Danish aebleskiver is made with flour and eggs similar to pancakes. But this Indian version uses rice and lentils, making it a vegan, gluten-free treat. For a sweet version, you can add brown sugar and bits of dried fruits or apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar to the batter. I have never tried making one with a filling, if you do so, please let me know how it turned out. You can pair this Indian savory delight with tomato-cilantro chutney or coconut chutney, both vegan and gluten-free.

kuzhi paniyaram

Ingredients

1 cup rice (uncooked)

1/2 cup split Bengal gram/ channa dal

1/4 cup+1 teaspoon black gram/ urad dal

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

1 tablespoon fresh or frozen coconut, grated

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

2 Thai green chilies, minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

salt

Method

1. Soak rice for at least 4 hours and the lentils and fenugreek seeds for at least 2 hours.

2. Grind the lentils and fenugreek seeds in a blender until smooth and place it a large bowl.

3. Grind the soaked rice and add it to the lentil mixture. Add a teaspoon of salt and mix well.

4. Allow the batter to ferment in a warm, dark corner in your kitchen for 10-12 hours or place in an oven with light on for 10 hours.

5. Once the batter is fermented, mix well. This can be used right away to make paniyarams/aebleskiver or it can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator.

6. To prepare the paniyarams, take oil in a pan and when its hot, add mustard seeds. Let it splutter.

7. Add 1 teaspoon of black gram/urad dal and cook till it turns reddish brown.

8. Add onions, ginger, green chilies, coconut and peppercorns to the pan and cook for couple of minutes.

9. Transfer this to the prepared batter and mix well. Season with more salt, if needed.

10. Heat the aebleskiver/paniyaram pan and add couple of drops of oil to each well.

11. Spoon batter into each well, about 3/4 of the way.

12. Allow it to cook until the edges begin to brown and start to pull away from the sides of each well.

13. Flip over with a fork or wooden turner and let it cook through, about 2 minutes.

14. Serve warm with chutney of your choice.