Umeboshi Calling – a quick vegan pasta dinner with a slightly addictive creamy cashew sauce

umeboshi calling

little umeboshiThis quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free variation that replaces the cashews with tofu), with spinach and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.

Umeboshi paste is made of pickled umeboshi plums — though it does not taste at all like pickles. It is salty and sweet and creamy, making the recipe’s sauce a little addictive.

If you can’t find umeboshi paste, you can replace it with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. That works okay and comes out tasting lovely, but if you can possibly use umeboshi paste, this recipe is much yummier for it.

I originally made this recipe with the kind of pasta that looks a little bit like a telephone cord. That’s how the recipe got the name Umeboshi Calling.

Nut-free version: Replace the cashews with 10 ounces of tofu, and reduce the water to 1/2 cup.

Variation: You can add 1-2 cups of your favorite protein source, such as Butler soy curls (rehydrated before adding!), seitan (note that seitan is not gluten-free), baked tofu, etc.

Tip: If you anticipate leftovers, you may wish to keep the sauce and the pasta separate, so that you can store them separately, so that the pasta doesn’t absorb all the liquid from the sauce in the refrigerator.

Umeboshi Calling - a quick pasta dinner with creamy cashew sauce
 
Prep time
20 mins
Cook time
10 mins
Total time
30 mins
 
This quick vegan recipe has creamy cashew sauce (or choose the nut-free tofu variation), spinach, and red bell peppers. It uses an unusual ingredient called umeboshi paste, which adds a delicious salty sweetness to the recipe.
Author: Valerie Mates
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound pasta, preferably something curly such as Field Day Organic Brown Rice Fusilli
  • 1 package frozen spinach (anything from 10 to 16 ounces is OK)
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons umeboshi paste
  • 1-2 bell peppers (any color is OK; red is especially good in this)
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Defrost spinach, but don’t drain it.
  3. Blend cashews, water, and umeboshi paste in a blender or food processor for several minutes, until it thickens and starts to look about the consistency of sour cream. Make sure you blend the mixture for long enough that it is really smooth.
  4. Chop the bell pepper.
  5. Mix everything together.
  6. Stir, but don't worry if the spinach stays somewhat clumpy.
  7. Serve. Yum!
3.2.2807

 

Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake

chocolate decadence mug cake

chocolate decadence mug cakeMany years ago, after eating dinner at Seva restaurant, I ordered a dessert that was the most dense and chocolatey confection that I had ever tasted. I loved it — but didn’t remember its name! After that, I spent ten years ordering desserts at Seva, wondering what it was, hoping to some day solve the mystery of what the amazing dessert had been. Finally, it did come up again. I found out that the amazing dessert was called Chocolate Decadence.

Later, I found the recipe for Narsai’s Chocolate Decadence on the Internet and tried making it myself.  (Tip: If you make the original recipe, “bake” it in a glass pie plate in the microwave for six minutes, rather than in the oven, to cook it fully without risking any burned bits.) It came out wonderfully and is a birthday favorite at my house.

Last year my partner gave me the very much fun cookbook Mug Cakes: 100 Speedy Microwave Treats to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth. I enjoyed baking the creative, original, tiny cake ideas from that cookbook.  When you are making a cake the size of a coffee mug, it is easier to take risks and bake something that you might not want to try a full-sized version of, such as a Sesame Ginger mug cake — which, by the way, came out great!

Anyway, I came up with the idea to try making a Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake.  This recipe is the result.  It mixes up in about five minutes, then needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight, and voila!

The night before the first day of school after a long break, I make each of my older two kids a Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake. The next morning, if they get ready for school expeditiously, they can have it. It’s a fun way to motivate them to get moving in the morning. They each stretch out their mug cake to last all week. My son Arlo says that high school is way too early in the morning, and that the only thing that keeps him awake through his classes is Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake!

Anyway, this is a really wonderful recipe, and very easy to make. I hope you will try it!

Some notes on the recipe:

If you mix up the batter in the mug, it is hard to get all of the ingredients stirred through evenly.  It works better to mix it up in something bigger, such as a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup, and then pour the batter into a coffee mug for baking.

I like Equal Exchange semi-sweet chocolate chips in this recipe, because they are organic, fair-trade, and vegan.  (The link goes to a 12-pack of chocolate chips on Amazon.)

Use at least a 12-ounce mug. The batter gets a lot taller during baking, then sinks back down again, so the recipe needs the full twelve ounces of space to expand into. American coffee mugs are usually twelve ounces.

You can also divide up the batter into ceramic ramekins and bake it in there.

 

Chocolate Decadence Mug Cake
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
An incredible chocolate cake, adapted to coffee-mug size.
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 1 mug cake
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch or flour
  • 1 egg
Instructions
  1. Put the chocolate chips and canola oil into a two-cup microwaveable bowl or cup, such as a two-cup Pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Microwave for 1 minute.
  3. Stir.
  4. Microwave another 30 seconds.
  5. Stir until all the chocolate is melted.
  6. Add the rest of the ingredients. Use the fork to stir thoroughly. Be detail-oriented with the stirring, so that the egg gets blended very thoroughly with everything else.
  7. Pour into a 12-ounce coffee mug.
  8. Microwave for 90 seconds.
  9. Let sit until cool.
  10. Refrigerate overnight.

 

Lentil Apple Walnut Veggie Burgers

Lentil Apple Walnut Veggie Burgers

chopped carrotsThese lentil apple walnut burgers are vegan, satisfying, and have the zen goodness of lentils and the yumminess of little chunks of apples sprinkled throughout.

The recipe is based on Glazed Lentil Walnut Apple Loaf, Revisited from the Oh She Glows blog.  I converted the recipe into burgers, because they are more approachable than a loaf — and cook much faster.

apples, preppedThe photos show:

  • a finished veggie burger with ketchup
  • chopped carrots
  • an apple ready to be chopped
  • the dough mixture
  • a batch of burgers that are ready to cook
  • and, finally, a cooked burger waiting for toppings.

If you need a nut-free version, try replacing the walnuts lentil mixturewith sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds (without shells).

I usually serve these without a bun, but if you want to use a bun these burgers should be delicious that way too.

Serves 4, at three bun-free burgers per person.  With buns you could probably feed six.

 

shaped, uncooked burgers 

 

 

 

 

 

cooked lentil walnut apple burgers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lentil Apple Walnut Veggie Burgers
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
These vegan lentil apple walnut veggie burgers are satisfying to eat. They are full of the soothing Zen goodness of lentils, mixed with crunchy good bits of apple.
Author:
Recipe type: veggie burger
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 veggie burgers
Ingredients
  • 1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
  • 1 cup carrot, or baby carrots
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms - optional!
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons ground flaxmeal
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 apple
  • 2 cups of a crispy rice cereal such as Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal, blended in a blender, or 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Put lentils in a pot with 2 cups water. Simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes or until water is absorbed and lentils are soft.
  3. While lentils are cooking, chop or grate the carrots, celery, and optional mushrooms and add them in to the lentil pot. The pieces should be smaller than 1/4 inch.
  4. Mix the ground flaxmeal with the 1/2 cup of warm water (temperature matters!) and let sit.
  5. Chop or grate the apple.
  6. When the lentils are cooked, add all of the other ingredients, including the flax gel. Stir gently but thoroughly, until all is well-mixed.
  7. Shape the mixture into 12 patties on two cookie sheets. Each patty will use between 1/2 and 2/3 cup of the mixture. My cookie sheets are super-nonstick, but if yours are not you may want to line them with parchment paper before shaping the patties.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  9. Serve with ketchup or salsa or carrot ginger sauce.
  10. Serves 4, at three burgers per person. If you add buns you could probably serve six people.

 

Potoccoli – a meal of potato, egg, and broccoli

Potoccoli

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 potato cubessince 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 broccoli floretsflorets,” 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.

five eggsI 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.

Potoccoli
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A quick and yummy dinner of potatoes, egg, and broccoli.
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 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
  • 4-5 eggs
Instructions
  1. 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.
  2. Boil for 10 to 12 minutes, until you can easily pierce a piece of potato with a fork and it seems soft.
  3. While the potatoes cook, beat the eggs in a bowl.
  4. Drain the potato-broccoli mixture in a colander in the sink.
  5. Put the mixture back in the pot. Add the oil, then sprinkle on the salt, then pour on the beaten eggs.
  6. 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.
  7. Heat the mixture on medium, checking and stirring every 1-2 minutes, leaving the spoon in the mixture.
  8. When all of the egg looks dry like scrambled egg, not runny anymore, the Potoccoli is ready.
  9. Serve!