Archive for November, 2010

Savory Lentil-Veggie Loaf with Quick Homemade Ketchup

This is a great throw it all in kind of meal inspired by the leftover stuffing, veggies and mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving. If you don’t have those particular leftovers, you can use what you have – any cooked grains and veggies will do.

My mom used to make meatloaf fairly often and it was one of my brother’s favorite meals. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it at the time, but somehow it has stuck in my head as a comfort food and I really like the vegetarian version.

As I sat down to write this, my son walked into the room asking if he could have some of that leftover veggie cake from last night’s dinner for breakfast. I guess that’s a good testimonial.

The texture of this loaf will vary with the ingredients used. This recipe is very well-suited to leftovers, as they tend to dry out a bit in the fridge. Using ingredients cooked in advance will help firm it up because they tend to be less moist, as will ingredients like brown rice and breadcrumbs. The ground flax will help bind it together. If you are using freshly cooked lentils, grains, veggies, etc, be sure to drain them thoroughly. You can make this in advance; just keep it tightly covered in the fridge for up to 2 days (this will also help firm it up).

This recipe will serve four generously, probably with leftovers.

For the Veggie Loaf:

  • 1 cup dry lentils, soaked overnight or quick soaked*, about 3 cups cooked
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari (or 1 teaspoon salt if you avoid soy)
  • 1/4 cup strained tomatoes, or 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 cups some combination of leftover stuffing, mashed potatoes, and/or cooked grains
  • salt and pepper, to taste (this will depend on the seasoning of your other ingredients)
  • 2 cups leftover cooked vegetables
  • Flavor enhancers, optional: 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger, crushed red pepper, 3 Tablespoons fresh mixed herbs (sage, thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, etc), or 3 teaspoons dried, extra onion and garlic powder

For the Ketchup:

  • 1 cup strained tomatoes
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • reserved onion and garlic from veggie loaf
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar

Drain and rinse the soaked lentils and put them in a medium-sized saucepan and fill with water to cover. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until soft, about 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a saucepan to medium, pour 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in and saute the onions until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, then remove from heat. Remove about 1/5 of the onion-garlic mixture and reserve for your ketchup.

When the lentils are soft, drain them well and pour them into a large bowl. Immediately stir in the apple cider vinegar, strained tomatoes, and tamari or salt and allow them to cool a bit. Meanwhile, mix the ketchup ingredients together and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Oil your pans (2 loaf pans, an 8×8 square pan, a 9-inch cast iron skillet), or the equivalent. Combine the lentil mixture, the onion garlic mixture, and the the remaining ingredients for the veggie loaf and mash them together by hand, by pulsing in a food processor, or with a hand blender, until you have a coarse mixture that holds together when you press it against the side of the bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Spoon into your prepared pans and spread the ketchup over the top. Bake for about 45 minutes, until the edges have browned nicely. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and serve with butternut squash soup and roasted brussels sprouts or you choice of side dishes. Enjoy!


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My favorite Holiday Stuffing

I realize that thanksgiving is over, but I love this stuffing. And, while I believe it’s fair game throughout the late Fall/Winter months, Thanksgiving is always my first reminder of it and I generally make it again soon after…

Really, technically, this is a dressing, as this recipe is intended to be baked separately in a dish, rather than stuffed into something. However, as I write this, I can think of all kinds of wonderful (vegetarian) foods into which this can be stuffed.

Use whatever bread you like. I had a plethora of partial loaves of sourdough sprouted grain breads from the last market – multiseed, golden squash, and rosemary garlic – so I (or my son, actually) cubed them up and mixed them together. Any old, literally, bread will do, as I’m quite sure that stuffing/dressing originated as a way to use stale bread.

The list of ingredients is long, but it’s actually a very quick and easy recipe, especially if you have a helper to cube your bread. This will make enough to serve 10 people as a generous side dish, probably with leftovers. If you have too many leftovers, you can use it to make a Savory Lentil-Veggie Loaf. I baked the stuffing in a 2 1/2 quart Corningware dish filled to the brim.

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • olive oil for sauteeing
  • five cups cubed bread
  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3/4 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1-2 generous handfuls of fresh parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste (will depend on saltiness of bread and broth)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large leek, sliced and browned, optional for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375; if you are doing other baking, this stuffing is flexible and will be fine at the oven temperature required for your other dishes, from 350 degrees to 425, but you’ll have to adjust your baking time accordingly.

Heat a large saucepan to medium, add olive oil and onions, and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions soften and begin to brown. Add celery and cover the pot, then cook until the celery is soft. Add a bit of water if necessary to keep vegetables from burning. Combine the cooked vegetables with the bread cubes, cooked grains, parsley, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix the oil into the broth and pour the mixture over the stuffing. If you used water, you might add a bit more salt here. Since there are no eggs in this stuffing, give it a taste so you get the seasoning right. Coat your baking dish with olive oil and spoon your stuffing in, packing it down as necessary to make it fit. Bake at 375 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. I like it browned and crispy on top, so I cook it uncovered. If you prefer to keep it soft, cover it while baking. Garnish with browned leeks, if desired. Serve alongside chickpea patties, tofu cutlets, or your favorite holiday meal. You can also use it as a stuffing for vegetables – I’m thinking of stuffed roasted acorn squash topped with roasted chickpeas….enjoy!

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Sweet Buttercup Tart

Note: I left the sweetener out of the filling accidentally when I originally wrote this recipe. Depending on your palate, it would be fine without, but I have added 2 Tablespoons of coconut sugar and of course you can adjust that up or down to taste. If it still isn’t sweet enough for you, adding a splash of maple syrup might give it the extra boost you are looking for. In addition, if you have individual-sized ramekins, I recommend making small tarts and removing them from their pans to cool on a rack to keep the crust more crisp. If you don’t, not to worry – it will still be delicious!

This is my version of pumpkin pie. It is made from buttercup squash, which is sweet and delicious on its own. The crust is nut-based and sweetened with figs, dates, and just a bit of coconut sugar. If you can put up with a little deviation from tradition, this would be a wonderful addition to your Thanksgiving Day feast! It’s an easy pie to make, even for a beginning baker!

And don’t worry; if you are in Boulder, buttercup squash is everywhere right now, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it. If it’s not available to you or you have other Winter squash to use up, feel free to substitute, but be sure you taste and adjust sweetener as needed.

For the Crust:

  • 4 figs, stems removed, soaked in warm water
  • 4 dates, pits removed, soaked in warm water
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or minced
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut flour (or 1/4 cup of a different flour)
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut sugar, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Have a 9-inch pie or tart pan ready, or equivalent in individual-sized tart pans or ramekins. I did not oil my pie pans and there was no issue with sticking. Remove dates and figs from their soaking water, reserving soaking water, and place them in a food processor. Process until smooth, then add remaining ingredients and process until it balls up and looks relatively uniform. If it’s still coarse or crumbly, add a little more oil. Remove and press into your pie plate. Make several holes in your crust with a fork and pre-bake for about 10-15 minutes. Remove and allow to cool before filling.

For the filling:

  • 1 cup roasted and mashed buttercup squash*
  • 1/2 cup cashews or other nuts, preferably soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter/coconut manna
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Warm soaking water from figs/dates as needed for processing; about 2 Tablespoons

*Buttercup squash are quite small, so you’ll need two. Roast them at 400 degrees until they are very soft and the skin begins to brown and puff up. When cool enough to handle, cut in half, scoop out seeds (set aside to roast separately), then scoop flesh away from the skin and mash.

Place the cooked squash and remaining ingredients in a blender and process until very smooth, adding only enough water as is needed to allow it to process. Taste and adjust as needed, keeping in mind that the crust is sweet, so you really just want a lightly sweet taste in the filling.

To assemble and bake the tart:

Spread the filling evenly over the crust. Bake at 350 for another 15-20 minutes, or until the visible crust is golden brown and filling has firmed up a bit. Allow to cool completely and serve as is, or garnish as desired. Some ideas for garnishing are:

  • making a nut-based whipped cream like this brazil nut cream to drizzle over whole pie or dollop on individual pieces
  • drizzling with a ganache made by blending 1/4 cup coconut butter with 1 Tablespoon cocoa or carob powder, 2 Tablespoons maple syrup or other sweetener of choice, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and a pinch of salt, plus warm water or milk to reach a pourable consistency.
  • making a vanilla coconut drizzle by following the ganache recipe above, but increasing the vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon.
  • coating chopped pecans in equal parts coconut oil and brown rice syrup and sprinkling over pie about 10 minutes into baking.
  • Drizzle with pureed homemade cranberry sauce


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Simple Red lentil Soup

This soup is my very favorite at the moment.  It’s simple to make, completely versatile, and so nourishing and warming – perfect for the onset of the cold weather.  If you have a pressure cooker, it’s done in about 15 minutes; even without it will take less than an hour with 5 minutes of labor on your part, if that.  You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand – greens, root vegetables, cabbage, carrots; it’s different every time and always delicious!  If you don’t have time to put the vegetables in, just do the red lentils, kombu, ginger, and cayenne.  You can always add veggies later; when I make the super-quick version, I like to garnish it with a big pile of crispy kale.

This recipe will make about 4-6 servings; I highly recommend doubling it!

  • 1 cup red lentils, soaked overnight then drained and rinsed
  • 1 strip kombu*, optional
  • water to cover by about 2 inches
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped
  • 3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • lemon to squeeze into your soup


  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 small head of cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch of your favorite leafy green, roughly chopp
  • cooked basmati rice or quinoa

*kombu is a sea vegetable that is often cooked with beans to make them more digestible.  It also adds minerals (especially iodine) to your broth.  You can buy it in the seaweed section of any health food store.  Depending on how long/how you cook your soup, it may dissolve completely.  If not, the texture can be unappealing (an understatement in the case of my family) to many, so you can remove and discard it before serving.

Place the rinsed lentils, kombu, water, ginger, and cayenne in a pressure cooker or soup pot.  Bring to a boil and, if using a pressure cooker, cook on high pressure for 15 minutes.  If cooking in a regular pot, simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils have broken down and you have a smooth broth.  Add vegetables, if using, salt, and pepper and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.  (You can pressure cook another 3 minutes).  Stir in cooked grains, if using.  Squeeze a little fresh lemon juice into each individual bowl.  Enjoy!

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Sprouted Corn Pupusas

Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish. They are thick corn tortillas filled with some combination of cheese, ground pork, squash, and/or refried beans. The beauty of making them yourself is that you can fill them with whatever you like. My kids really like pupusas, and will eat them for any meal. They are purists and like bean and cheese the best, but they tolerate me throwing some veggies in there too. It’s well worth it to make a double, triple, or bigger batch and keep them in your freezer to heat up in the toaster for a quick and easy meal. The filling here is pretty standard, but you could do all kinds of fun things…roasted winter squash, any kind of greens, cabbage, caramelized onions, scrambled eggs, etc, etc, etc. Have fun with it!

I have made pupusas three different ways – with masa harina flour, with masa dough made the traditional way by soaking dried corn in lime water (calcium hydroxide, also known as pickling lime, but not the citrus fruit), and now with sprouted corn. Like anything, each method has its benefits and drawbacks. Making masa dough from scratch is traditional, and that’s always a plus from my perspective. Back in the days of yore, people tended to have an amazing way of making the most of what they had and, in this case, soaking the corn in lime water made (makes) it more digestible. The drawbacks are that it should soak at least a day and up to several days (I’ve even read up to two weeks), and that’s a lot of advance planning, and that you are supposed to rub the hulls off of the corn and I didn’t have much luck with that when I tried. I ended up leaving them mostly on, which was fine, but I don’t really like to do things halfway like that. Finally, It’s typically made with a special tool called a metate to grind the corn. That’s apparently quite laborious and I don’t have one, so I used my food processor. It worked fine, but had to work pretty hard to get the corn reasonably fine. Masa harina is dried masa dough and is the most convenient way to make pupusas. However, my understanding is that the corn is only soaked for about an hour, rather than several days, so it loses out on the digestibility front. It is also not available organically, at least as far as I could find, and I strongly suspect it’s made from genetically modified corn, which I’m not into. So, for me, the happy medium is using sprouted corn. Sprouting the corn makes it more digestible, maybe even for people who don’t do great with corn in general. This recipe does require some advance planning, but mostly in the form of letting the corn sit in a colander and soak, so I can deal with that.

Ok, after all that talking, I feel like I need to be really clear that these are quite easy to make, especially if you make a large batch and freeze them. I knew I wanted to try these, so I sprouted some corn earlier in the week and stuck it in the fridge until I had some time. I also had some cooked black beans that needed to get used up. With those things prepped, it only took about 20 minutes for me to make enough pupusas for 2 boys’ breakfasts, plus leftovers for lunch. If I wanted to make a whole batch to freeze, say maybe a dozen more, it would only have taken about 15-20 more minutes, and that’s using a small griddle.

This recipe will make about a dozen 4-5 inch pupusas.

  • 2 cups field corn, sprouted* (you can find this by the other dry grains at the health food store
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water, or enough to make a soft dough (will depend on how dry your corn is)
  • 1 recipe refried beans
  • olive oil
  • 1 small bunch of spinach, chopped
  • grated cheese, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste

*To sprout the corn, soak it in water overnight. Drain into a colander, discarding the soaking water, and rinse thoroughly. Keep the corn in the colander and place over a bowl to catch any dripping water. Leave on counter until you see little sprouts growing, about 24-36 hours. Sprouted corn can be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.

To make the dough: grind the sprouted corn into a fine meal in a blender or food processor. I used the dry container for my vitamix and it ground it quite easily. If you are using a regular blender or food processor and it isn’t perfectly fine, don’t worry about it. Set aside a little corn flour to sprinkle on your trays to keep the uncooked pupusas from sticking. Pour the remaining ground flour into a medium-sized bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix in water, starting with 1/2 cup and continuing to add small amounts until you have a soft dough. It’s good when you can press a small amount of dough between your fingers and it won’t crack on the edges. Better too soft than too dry.

To make the filling: heat a pan to medium and add a little olive oil and the chopped spinach. Cook until just wilted and stir the refried beans into the spinach. Season to taste. The filling should taste good on its own before it goes into the pupusas.

To make the pupusas: Make an assembly line with your dough, your bean/spinach mixture, and grated cheese, if using. Have a tray or trays ready, sprinkled with your reserved flour, to place the pupusas on once they are formed. Coat your hands with olive oil. Take a spoonful of the filling and form it into a ball a little bigger than a golf ball. Press your finger into the middle and then press out toward the edges to form a little bowl. Place about 1/3 cup of filling into the little bowl and bring the sides together to cover the filling. Gently press the filled pupusa back into a round so that it looks like a thick pancake. Place the formed pupusa on the floured tray and continue until all of the pupusas are made. If you plan to store the pupusas, you can freeze them uncooked on the trays. Once frozen, they can be stacked in a plastic bag or other sealed container for longer storage. If you are cooking them right away, heat a griddle to medium heat, then coat it with olive oil. Place as many pupusas as will fit on the griddle and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are slightly browned and puffed up. Keep the cooked pupusas on a tray in a warm oven while you cook the rest. Serve the pupusas hot with fresh salsa and cabbage salad. Enjoy!

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