Friday, November 22, 2013

Tempeh & Vegetable Stir-Fry

In our household, my husband does all the stir-frying, so I felt a bit intimidated taking on the "Tempeh & Vegetables Stir-Fry" (page 295). Since I rarely even attempt stir-frying, I worry about ruining the dish, and I also have my husband's high standards to live up to, as he is The Stir-Fry King in our 5th Wheel Palace! But I am happy to report that I made this dish quite successfully, and even got rave reviews from the resident expert. The key to success in a stir-fry dish is to have all the ingredients chopped and ready to go before ever turning on the fire under the wok or skillet. In this case, the ingredients consisted of cubed tempeh, broccoli, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, green onions, and ginger. It does take a while to prepare all the ingredients, since the broccoli is pre-steamed, and the tempeh is cooked in simmering water for 30-minutes. Once the tempeh has been simmered, it is cubed, coated with cornstarch, and browned in a skillet. At that point, assuming you've prepared all the rest of the ingredients, the dish goes together in a flash, as is customary for this style of cooking. I browned the tempeh cubes in a non-stick skillet without oil. This works just fine, but don't expect to the end result to be as crispy or brown as something browned in oil. Once all the veggies and tempeh have been steamed, simmered, and stir-fried, they are topped with a flavorful sauce of mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper. The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of sesame oil in the sauce, but you can get away with much less and still get the essence of that distinctive flavor; or omit it altogether if you want, and it will still be very good. In this case, I used ½ teaspoon of sesame oil. I served this colorful, spicy, and delicious stir-fry over steamed rice.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil when "browning" the tempeh cubes; you can do this successfully in a non-stick skillet, although the tempeh will not come out quite as crispy or browned.  

ü If using sesame oil in the sauce, reduce to just ½ teaspoon - or leave it out altogether.

ü Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies. Use a nonstick skillet or wok, and substitute the oil with water, broth, or sherry. I used sherry in this dish and it provided excellent complementary flavor.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Lemon-Kissed Linguine With Garlicky White Bean Sauce

"Lemon-Kissed Linguine with Garlicky White Bean Sauce" (page 209) takes a handful of basic ingredients and transforms them into a delicious, quick, and filling meal. White kidney beans, also known as cannellini, are the basis of a simple sauce of beans, garlic, fresh squeezed lemon juice, oregano, and basil. The sauce is mixed with cooked linguine, topped with fresh minced parsley, and served hot out of the skillet. If you omit the 3 tablespoons of oil used for sautéing the veggies, there really is no other liquid to meld the ingredients together. To get around this, I took ½ cup veggie broth and used some of it to sauté the veggies, and the rest to stir back into the skillet (instead of using reserved pasta cooking liquid as called for in the recipe). As a personal preference, I only used 8 ounces of linguine, as opposed to the 1 pound the recipe called for. (I tend to like my pasta dishes a little saucier than what most recipes call for.) With the reduced amount of pasta, my husband and I almost ate the entire dish in one sitting!

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies; instead use a non-stick skillet and/or broth, water, or sherry as a sauté liquid.

ü Use whole grain linguine (or another variety of noodles).

Monday, November 11, 2013

Picata-Style Cashew Chickpea Medallions

If you want to put a spin on an ordinary veggie burger, try the "Piccata-Style Cashew Chickpea Medallions" (page 266). I wasn't sure what a piccata style dish was, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, piccata is a method of preparing food where meat of some sort is sliced, coated, sautéed and served in a sauce. Thankfully there are many alternatives to animal products at our disposal and in this recipe the medallions, or simply, rounded patties, are made from a mixture of cashews, chickpeas, and gluten, seasoned with soy sauce and smoked paprika (a nice touch). But the crowning glory is the sauce these patties are topped off with. The lemony sauce consists of white wine, lemon juice, capers, and parsley, and if following the recipe, a swirl or margarine stirred in at the end. I omitted the margarine and instead of reducing the sauce by cooking it down, I thickened it with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of cornstarch blended in 2 tablespoons of water. The recipe notes suggest serving these with roasted asparagus and rice pilaf for an elegant dinner.
Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil when pan "frying" the prepared medallions, using a non-stick skillet instead.

ü Omit the margarine from the sauce. Thicken the sauce with a water-cornstarch mixture if you desire.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Seitan & Scalloped Potatoes Casserole

The "Seitan & Scalloped Potatoes Casserole" (page 317) is not a dish to start on the spur of the moment. It requires prepared seitan, but you can use store-bought instead of homemade if you want to skip this step. It also requires a recipe of the Basic Brown Sauce (page 545), but in my opinion, there is no shortcut for this. This golden sauce is the heart of the casserole, imparting a rich gravy-like essence to the dish, and worth the extra effort and time to make it. In addition to the preparatory steps, the casserole bakes in the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes. With all this in mind, I still highly recommend you set aside the time to try this. The layers of onion, bell pepper, potatoes, seitan, and sauce mingle in a perfect union of flavor, texture, and satisfaction. This makes a great dish to serve to guests, as it is sure to please vegan and non-vegans alike.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü  Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies. Use a nonstick soup pot and/or a little water, broth, or sherry for the sauté liquid.

ü  Buy or make an oil-free version of seitan.

ü     Be sure to adapt the Basic Brown Sauce to make it oil free (see my review here).

ü  Skip adding the dots or margarine to the top layer of the casserole. You won't miss it!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Argentinean Bean & Vegetable Stew

"Argentinean Bean & Vegetable Stew" (page 254) is a flavorful and colorful dish bursting with brightly hued vegetables, and even a piece of fruit - a diced orange which is added at the very end. The list of vegetables in this stew is long: onion, garlic, bell pepper, butternut squash, tomatoes, green chilies, and corn, a virtual hotpot of antioxidants. The seasonings are just as impressive: sugar, crushed red pepper, oregano, and cilantro. Somehow this wide array of ingredients comes together to make an unusual but tasty stew, especially good on a cold evening, served with a loaf of homemade bread.

Keeping it "McDougall Friendly" checklist:

ü Omit the oil when sautéing the veggies. Use a nonstick soup pot and/or a little water, broth, or sherry for the sauté liquid.