I grew up Jewish, but the first time I heard of a Matzo Mina was as an adult, surfing the Internet. This is a lot like a lasagna, but made with dampened matzo instead of the lasagna noodles. With the overlapping squares of matzo on the top, this comes out looking really pretty. It tastes great, too, so it is my favorite Passover food. To make it gluten-free, I use gluten-free matzo.
Assembled Matzo Mina before baking
My pick for gluten-free matzo is Yehuda brand. I find it at my local Whole Foods store, though it is also available on Amazon. Lately gluten-free matzo is the most popular food in my house — my kids gobble it down! Go figure!
To make a soy-free version of this recipe, replace the tofu with 2/3 cup of cashews, 2/3 cup of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, and 2/3 cup of water.
Sorry to have gone so long between postings — I can’t believe I last posted in July! I don’t have a good reason for having gone so long between postings — just juggling kids, work, and the paperwork from Jan’s estate. Anyway, I do have lots more recipes that I want to post, so I will continue posting recipes!!
Here is my son Corbin, who is nine, at our Seder table. The weather is so warm that this year we had our Seder outdoors on the back porch.
Matzo Mina - a great Passover dish - gluten-free, vegan, and healthy
This matzo mina is a delicious and healthy vegan main dish to serve at Passover. It is a bit like a lasagna, but with dampened matzo instead of the noodles. I really love this recipe! You can make it gluten-free if you use gluten-free matzo.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: main dish
Serves: 6 servings
3-4 sheets of matzo; for gluten-free use a gluten-free matzo such as Yehuda brand
1-2 jars of artichoke hearts (plain or marinated; about 8 ounces per jar)
1 pound firm tofu (not silken)
4+ tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried herbs, such as basil or oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
5 ounces spinach or kale (frozen and defrosted is fine)
1/4 cup fresh dill
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, blend everything except the matzo and artichoke hearts. Add the artichoke hearts and pulse until mixed in.
Oil a 9x9 inch square baking pan.
Dampen a sheet of matzo in cold running water from the faucet. Place in baking pan.
Add half of the tofu mixture, and spread it smooth with a spatula.
Repeat with another piece of matzo and the rest of the tofu mixture.
For the top, dampen a piece of matzo, then break it into squares that are 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide. Overlap the pieces of matzo on top of the casserole, like roof shingles, covering the entire surface. You will need about 1 1/2 sheets of matzo, broken up, to cover the top of the casserole.
Gently brush the top of the matzo with olive oil.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the top layer is browning. Serve warm.
My family is finishing two very busy weeks. My eighth grader, Kendra, was in a national Quiz Bowl tournament in Atlanta, and then she played the role of Audrey in the Shakespeare play “As You Like It” — so the last two weeks have had long, daily rehearsals, followed by a weekend of performances. But the final performance was this afternoon, and now Kendra is free! — Well, free except for assorted daily homework, two term papers, an amazing week-long field trip, and graduation — followed immediately by a week of gluten-free summer camp. Whew!!!
So, in celebration of our crazy-busy two weeks, I am posting a recipe for a dinner that takes about fifteen minutes to cook — depending on how fast your stove can boil a pot of water — and is nutritious and delicious: Pasta, Beans and Greens. This is my go-to recipe for anytime I need a healthy dinner to be on the table quickly.
My kids range from “somewhat picky” to “world-class picky.” This recipe is unique because it is one of only two dinners that all of my kids will eat. (The other one is Potato Pancakes — yum!)
A variation: Consumer Reports found that there is arsenic in rice, so I am always looking for ways to reduce the amount of rice-based pasta in our diet. My kids won’t eat this variation, but I have found that I can replace the pasta in this recipe with tofu cut into long thin rectangles that are about 1/4 inch wide, 1/4 inch tall, and 3/4 inch long. Prepared this way, it is an even faster and healthier version of this recipe.
Pasta, Beans and Greens - a lightning-fast yummy healthy vegan dinner
Start boiling water for the pasta. When the water boils, cook the pasta in it.
Get out a big mixing bowl for serving the food in.
While the pasta cooks, if you are using fresh greens, shred the greens into small pieces (a bread-slicing knife works well for this), then add them to the pot where the pasta is cooking for the last couple of minutes of cooking. Or, if you are using frozen greens, defrost them by microwaving them in the big mixing bowl. This takes 5 minutes in my microwave, but microwaves vary so be alert.
Rinse the beans (I like to put them in a strainer and run cold water through), then add them to the big mixing bowl.
Juice the lemon, and add the lemon juice to the bowl.
Add the oil and basil to the bowl.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl.
Stir everything together thoroughly.
Serve, with salt and soy sauce available for each person to stir in to their food. If you are using soy sauce, about 2 teaspoons per serving is a good amount to start with.
Oh my goodness it’s been a long time since I last posted here!!! I always have good intentions of posting twice a week — and then life gets in the way.
My daughter Kendra and I adore this recipe. It is my adaptation of a recipe for Southwestern Twice Baked Potatoes from the very yummy cookbook Forks Over Knives by Del Sroufe.
The easiest way to chop most veggies is to cut them in half first (from top to bottom, not sideways like in this picture!), so that you have a flat surface to put on the bottom.
I have changed the recipe enough that it barely resembles the original. Actually I feel a little weird about the changes that I made, because Forks Over Knives is an oil-free cookbook, and I have added some oil to this recipe. It feels disrespectful to fundamentally change a recipe like that. It’s like taking a vegan recipe and posting that you think that you made it better by adding meat — that feels wrong to me. But I do think that it’s important to have some fat in our diet. Fat is needed for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins. Plus, research shows that unsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as canola and olive oils are associated with healthier outcomes. So I think it is important to include them in one’s diet.
The bottom layer of toasted potatoes, before spreading them out evenly.
The original version of this recipe involved baking whole potatoes in the oven, then topping them with a variety of veggies and beans, and adding a creamy white sauce on top, made from blended tofu — a bit like sour cream but much healthier. I have speeded up this recipe by dicing the potatoes into little cubes before baking them. In addition to being much faster to cook, I think this dish is easier to eat that way, too.
All layers except for the sauce
The whole casserole after baking
Also, I have replaced the creamy topping with a salty version of my adaptation of the house dressing from the awesome vegetarian Moosewood Restaurant, located in Ithaca, New York. Like the main recipe here, my version of this dressing has diverged very far from the original version, but it is awesomely yummy. I have also given my salad dressing recipe its own page on this website, because it is so yummy that it is really worth talking about. But I am also including it as an ingredient here.
My daughter and I totally adore this casserole, made of toasted potatoes, red bell peppers, corn kernels, black beans, and a creamy vegan sauce on top that is made from blended silken tofu that tastes like sour cream but is much healthier.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 6 servings
6 cups of potatoes -- about 2 pounds
olive or canola oil
1 red bell pepper, or about 1 cup of frozen, chopped bell peppers
10 ounces of frozen corn kernels -- "supersweet" corn is good in this, though any kind should work
1 15-ounce can or bag of black beans, drained and rinsed
Dice the potatoes into cubes that are 1/2 inch or smaller.
Place the diced potatoes onto a non-stick cookie sheet.
Sprinkle on some salt (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) and some oil (maybe 2 tablespoons).
Stir the potatoes, oil, and salt until they are evenly mixed.
Bake the potatoes in the oven, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown on most sides. When I did not preheat my oven ahead of time, I clocked this step at 30 minutes. If your oven is fully pre-heated, figure maybe 20 minutes. When the potatoes are done, they should look like gorgeous cube-shaped nicely-browned french fries. If you are in a hurry, you can bake them less, just until they are soft when pierced with a fork. That will work fine too, though I think they are yummier when they are browned.
Meanwhile, while the potatoes cook, defrost the corn in a bowl in the microwave. Microwaves vary, but in my microwave this takes about 4 minutes.
If you are using fresh bell pepper, chop it. If you are using frozen, defrost it in the microwave.
Rinse the black beans -- I like to put them into a strainer and run cold water through it to do this.
Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.
When the potatoes are done, remove them from the oven and lower the temperature to 350 degrees.
Carefully pour the hot potatoes and any oil that is with them into a 9x13 inch pan. Distribute the potatoes evenly throughout the pan.
On top of the potatoes, add layers of beans, corn, and bell pepper, spreading out each one evenly.
Pour the sauce on top. Use a spatula to spread it out to almost reach the edges of the pan, but not quite touching. (By not quite touching the edges, this keeps the sauce from sticking to the sides of the pan, which makes cleanup easier.) Keeping the sauce at about 1/4 inch of distance from the edges works well.
Once upon a time, I perfected my macaroni and cheese recipe. It was a specialty of mine — fancy macaroni and cheese mixed with a creamy white sauce, using a small amount of fancy cheese to make it healthier and yummy. Then we had to stop eating dairy and gluten, and so, sadly, for a long time that was the end of macaroni and cheese at our house.
After that, I experimented with creamy vegan cheese-like sauces. I came up with some that I liked quite a bit. But nothing was quite right for macaroni and cheese.
Then in March I ran across Vegan Richa‘s recipe for vegan Mozarella Sticks, made with homemade cashew mozzarella. The cheese sticks came out tasting really cheesy, even though they are totally vegan. I am convinced that Richa is a genius at creative food chemistry. Her blog is a wonderful mix of creative vegan versions of American food and Indian cuisine.
Richa’s recipe made a great starting point for experimenting with my own vegan macaroni and cheese recipe. The very first time I tried making it, it came out tasting surprisingly similar to my old macaroni and cheese recipe, with the white sauce and fancy cheeses. I was very pleased!!!!!
So here is my version of vegan macaroni and cheese.
Nut-free option: I have not tried this, but I think you could replace the nuts and 1 cup of the water with a pound of firm tofu.
In the third picture, that’s my oldest son cooking. :)
Place the cashews and one cup of the water in a high speed blender. Blend until smooth. Let it sit for a couple of minutes (to soften the tiny cashew pieces) while you juice the lemon and add the rest of the sauce ingredients EXCEPT not the rest of the water, to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
Place the sauce mixture in a large nonstick pan. (Nonstick is essential for this recipe!)
Start heating the sauce and stirring with a wooden spoon.
Use the rest of the water to rinse out the blender, then add it to the sauce.
Heat and stir the sauce until it thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.
Once upon a time, I was talking with a mom from my kids’ school, Sue Barker, who has an awesome talent for organizing big, fun school events, often where chili is served as a fundraiser. While we talked, someone asked Sue for her chili recipe. Sue said that it was “just a recipe from allrecipes.com” and that the important ingredient was salsa.
The idea of putting salsa in chili rang all sorts of happy bells in my mind. Salsa transforms chili into something really amazing. Salsa is like yummy “pourable nutrients” — it adds magic to this awesomely easy and quick chili recipe.
Since this is a vegetarian chili, it (optionally) uses Butler Soy Curls. Soy curls are dried pieces of soy that you can reconstitute by soaking for ten minutes in warm water. Then they look a bit like cooked chicken. As they soak, they absorb the flavor of whatever liquid you use to reconstitute them, so by soaking them in chili while it cooks, they become chili-flavored. I haven’t seen soy curls available in the local stores, but you can order them from Amazon or from Butler’s website.
Note that this recipe makes about three bowls of chili, so you will need to multiply it if you are feeding a crowd. (Most recipes on this website make enough food to serve dinner to four to six people.)
There is no need to measure the quantities for this recipe — it’s fine to estimate.
The photos for this recipe show: 1) A bowl of chili ready for eating, with beannaise on top. 2) Dry soy curls, broken into shorter pieces and ready for cooking. 3) Rinsing beans in a strainer at the sink. I love how my camera caught individual droplets of water coming from the faucet. 4) A pot of chili being cooked.
15-Minute Chili - gluten-free, vegan, quick, and really good!
Put the dry soy curls into a pot, if you are using them. If there are any pieces that are more than one inch long, break them into pieces that are less than an inch long. Add enough cold water to just barely cover the soy curls. Turn the heat to medium-high.
Add all of the other ingredients except for the sour cream or Beannaise.
Heat to boiling. Turn down the heat and simmer for ten minutes.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Beannaise on top.
The final picture shows what the tofu looks like after mashing.
The tofu picks up the flavors of the salt and other ingredients and ends up tasting scrambled and not tofu-y at all. Even if you are hesitant about tofu, I encourage you to try this recipe, because the tofu comes out delicious — all salty and flavorful. It combines with the potatoes to be very satisfying.
A quick and addictive recipe for scrambled tofu -- with cubes of soft browned potatoes, broccoli, and pieces of red bell peppers. Yum!
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 2-3 servings
1 pound firm tofu
1 tablespoon soy sauce (make sure it is gluten-free)
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
salt and pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 small potatoes
1 red bell pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed, either ground or whole is okay
2 cups frozen broccoli florets
optional: shredded lettuce
Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Shape them into a big O on a microwave-safe dinnerplate. Microwave for five minutes. (The O-shape of the ring lets the potato cubes cook more evenly.)
In a big bowl, mash the tofu. You can mash it with a potato masher or with your hands. Tip: If you use a potato masher, it is easiest if you start by mashing just the edge of the block of tofu and work your way inward gradually. Stir in the soy sauce, paprika, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a large (12 inch) nonstick frying pan. Add the potatoes and tofu. Heat until the potatoes are soft and everything is starting to turn a gorgeous golden shade of brown.
While the potatoes cook, put the frozen broccoli into a microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water on top, then some salt, and drizzle on a tablespoon of oil. Microwave for 8 minutes. Stir well, so that the salt gets well distributed. Drain. Add the broccoli to the potato-tofu mixture.
While the broccoli cooks, chop the red bell pepper and add it to the potato-tofu mixture.
This is an Asian-style noodle salad — with tofu so good that it has been known to convert a non-tofu-eater into a tofu lover.
This recipe is based on a recipe from The Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan. It has some of the most addictively delicious tofu I’ve ever eaten. The tofu from this recipe is excellent used as an ingredient in other recipes too.
Two of my kids specially ask for this recipe as their very favorite dinner.
I usually double this recipe when I cook it, for leftovers.
Oriental Salad - A pasta dish that may convert a tofu-hater into a tofu lover
2 tablespoons sesame oil (the brown “toasted” kind) (do not substitute any other oil)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (approximately 1/2 lemon)
6 scallions, chopped (optional)
1 cup snow peas, sliced in half on an angle, or two stalks of celery, sliced
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley, or 1/8 to 1/4 cup of dried parsley
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Cut the tofu into half-inch cubes. Place it in a watertight container with a lid that fits well. Add the marinade ingredients. Put the lid on the container. Gently turn it over, to mix the marinade with the tofu, then turn it right-side up again. Let it sit for a few minutes while you start the pasta, occasionally turning the container over to mix the marinade with the tofu (but leave the container standing right-side-up to prevent leaks).
Start heating water to boil for the pasta.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the tofu from the container and put it into a nonstick frying pan on the stove. Heat the tofu along with the ginger, stirring regularly to brown the different sides of the tofu. When the tofu is brown and crispy, pour 1 tablespoon of tamari over it and stir for 1 minute more.
Cook the noodles in boiling water as directed on the package.
Meanwhile, chop the vegetables and put them into a big serving bowl. Juice the lemon and set aside the lemon juice.
When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the bowl. Immediately stir in the sesame oil and lemon juice. Toss well and serve.
Everything else tends to burrow beneath the noodles, so when you serve this you should dig down in the bowl to get some of everything.
I add lots of veggies to potato salad each time I cook it, so it is never exactly the same food twice. Some nice items to add are herbs and spices, chopped vegetables (raw or cooked), cashews, and veggie dogs. You can also vary your varieties of potatoes — Yukon Gold or Yellow Finns are great!
This potato salad can be served cold or warm. I like it better warm! The original Betty Crocker recipe says to chill potato salad for 2 hours before serving, but I usually serve it as soon as all the ingredients are mixed together. It makes a good winter dinner that way. Though it’s lovely served warm in the summertime, too.
Last night when I cooked this, my twelve-year-old daughter, Kendra, said, “Mom, I really like that you are doing this blog. You are making all of my favorite dinners, like potato salad.” Yum!
Put eggs in a pot of cold water. Heat to boiling; lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Pour out the water, add ice cubes and cold running water. Peel the eggs. Chop them, or slice them twice with an egg slicer, slicing in two different directions.
While the eggs are cooking, chop the potatoes into half-inch cubes. Put in a pot. Add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Heat to boiling. Boil 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes pierce easily with a fork. Drain.
While the potatoes are boiling, make the beannaise.
Put all of the ingredients into a big bowl. Stir thoroughly.
Serve right away, or chill it for several hours before serving.
Potoccoli is made of potatoes, broccoli, and eggs. It is not glamorous, but it is soothing and nourishing. Potocolli is intended as a main dish, but I could eat (and have eaten!) it for breakfast… and lunch… and dinner.
Everybody has their own favorite comfort foods. Potatoes are mine. When my digestive system is unhappy, Potoccoli is my magic wand of happiness.
I invented this recipe years ago. It has been one of my favorites ever since then, because it is easy to cook and I usually have the ingredients on hand. I picked it to be the first dinner recipe in my new blog because the recipe is entirely my own invention, and because I have loved it and been nourished by it over many years. The name is a combination of the words potato and broccoli. Its alternate name is Potatoccoli — adding another syllable.
At the store, if you have a choice between “broccoli cuts” or “broccoli florets,” florets work better in this recipe.
This recipe relies on good potatoes. I like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn potatoes in this recipe, but any type of potato should work. Potatoes are grown with a lot of pesticides, so use organic potatoes if you can.
I aim to post a vegan version of each recipe on this blog — but this recipe is an exception. I am not sure it’s possible to make Potoccoli vegan and still be Potoccoli. Possibly the eggs could be replaced with scrambled tofu, or cashews blended with water and oil and salt — but I have not tried it.
This is a very flexible recipe. I never measure any of the ingredients in Potoccoli — estimating works fine. I like to use equal amounts of potatoes and broccoli, but you can vary this to suit your own preferences.
A quick and yummy dinner of potatoes, egg, and broccoli.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 6 servings
2 pounds of nice potatoes -- Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn work great in this recipe
1 pound frozen broccoli florets
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
Cut the potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes. Place them in a pot. Add just enough water to cover them. Heat over medium-high heat until the water boils. Pour on the broccoli florets, still frozen, and leave them sitting on top without stirring. When the water boils again, turn the heat down to medium and cover the pot so that the steam from the potatoes will cook the broccoli.
Boil for 10 to 12 minutes, until you can easily pierce a piece of potato with a fork and it seems soft.
While the potatoes cook, beat the eggs in a bowl.
Drain the potato-broccoli mixture in a colander in the sink.
Put the mixture back in the pot. Add the oil, then sprinkle on the salt, then pour on the beaten eggs.
Stir the mixture with a big flat-handled metal spoon. Cover the pot with the spoon still in it, so that the spoon gets heated along with the mixture (so that uncooked egg doesn't stay on the spoon and get back into the food). The spoon should be in the middle of the mixture, not touching the bottom of the pot where it might overheat. Be careful - its handle may get hot.
Heat the mixture on medium, checking and stirring every 1-2 minutes, leaving the spoon in the mixture.
When all of the egg looks dry like scrambled egg, not runny anymore, the Potoccoli is ready.