Category Archives: Entrees

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Tortillas

I always call these soft tacos, but the purists hold that only corn shells qualify as real tacos, and I like to use the mini soft tortillas for this dish. Once you have sweet potatoes and/or black beans in a taco, you will never miss the meat again. This recipe involves throwing together ingredients and not really measuring, because leftovers of the stuffing can be used in anything. Just be careful with the spices and add more at the end if you need more. If you make the guacamole from scratch, this dish can take a while; I watched part of a movie on my mini DVD player while I cooked up all the parts.

INGREDIENTS

Stuffing
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 can black beans (I only use about half the can, so freeze the rest)
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1/2 large onion, sliced
Spices that you like (I use liberal amounts of coriander, cumin, Mrs Dash, and other flavourings, but save the salt until the end or the beans will get tough).
Favourite hot sauce

Guacamole
1 very ripe avocado, gutted and chopped or smashed
2 shallots minced, or 1 clove garlic  minced
juice of 1/2 lime
1 Tsp honey
Generous amounts of cumin
I had an heirloom green tomato that I chopped and added, which was fun and sour and crunchy. You can add some chopped regular tomato, and cilantro (if you must!), or other typical guacamole ingredients.

Shell
Small or medium tortillas, or real corn tortillas, but hard preformed shells might not work as well because the sweet potatoes could be difficult to stuff into those.
If you want to make your own shells, which are superior and delicious, but time-consuming, here’s a website with instructions.

Toppings, all optional
Chopped lettuce
Grated cheese
Bottled salsa (although this mixture doesn’t really need salsa, if you put enough spices in the sweet potato stuffing)
Sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

Stuffing
Cook the sweet potatoes in a skillet in small amount of water or veggie broth until they are soft, adding spices after about 8 minutes (don’t let it go dry, though, adding more liquid periodically, or add oil when you add the other veggies in the next step). Add rest of vegetables from stuffing ingredient list and stir occasionally until softened. Add black beans and stir until heated through. Near the end is also the time to add any hot sauces that you like on your tacos. Add salt to taste, if necessary, but the hot sauce usually takes care of that flavour requirement.

Guacamole
While the sweet potatoes are cooking through, mix up all the ingredients for the guacamole. I left mine chunky this time because I had a perfectly ripe avocado. You can mash the avocado first, though, and then mix everything else in afterward. Extra lime juice is always my favourite sneaky ingredient in guacamole.

Shell
When the stuffing is done and beans heated through, heat up a clean pan to at least medium heat and, watching carefully, heat the tortillas, one at a time, on both sides for a few moments, without making them crispy but so that they are heated through. I cannot stress enough how important this step is to get the most enjoyment out of grocery-store-bought tortillas.

Combining
After you heat one tortilla, it’s useful to have a helper to stuff the taco for you, so you can keep heating the tortillas. If you’re alone, heat one tortilla and then stuff it, and then heat the next one, don’t leave a tortilla on the heat unattended or it will get too crispy and crack and you’ll wear your taco stuffing down your shirtfront.
On top of lovely heated tortilla, pile some sweet potato/black bean mix, a generous glob of guacamole, a sprinkle of cheese, a sprinkle of lettuce, and a dollop of salsa, maybe an extra squirt of hot sauce, especially if you’re using the chipotle hot sauce that I’m mad about lately. Fold shell gently over stuffing, inhale. OMG these are amazing (sorry there’s no pic, but I ate these before I remembered to get out my camera; see others’ pics online).

If you want exact measurements for this type of dish, you can try this recipe I found online at Naturally Ella.

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Pumpkin Saag

Remember that time I began a recipe blog and then completely abandoned it? Luckily all of you have been picking up the slack in the meantime (thank you for all of the delicious recipes!). I have a number of things I’ve been meaning to post here, but I made this last night and it was easy and delicious, so I’m going to begin with it.

Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs pumpkin or butternut squash (other kinds of squash would probably work as well)
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8tsp cayenne
  • 1 cup water (or broth, for extra deliciousness)
  • 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 10 oz fresh spinach (about 2 bunches) washed and coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime

First, bake the pumpkin (or squash, or whatever). (Protip: this recipe is made remarkably easy if you do this step a day (or a few days) in advance and refrigerate the pumpkin until you want to use it.) Preheat the oven to 350. Cut the pumpkin in half, remove the seeds, and place cut side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes, until a fork can easily pierce the flesh.

Let the pumpkin cool completely. Peel away the skin and chop the pumpkin up into 1-inch chunks. It’s going to completely disintegrate anyway so you don’t need to get overly precious about technique at this stage.

Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute the diced onion in the peanut oil until it begins to brown. Add the garlic and saute for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Add the pumpkin and cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add the spices and salt, and grate the ginger directly into the pot (use a microplane grater or the finest gauge on your grater (LOL gauge, look at me making up grater terminology. JUST GET THE GINGER INTO TINY PIECES IN SOME WAY OK)). Add the water (or broth!) and cook for about 5 minutes, mixing often.

Add the spinach in three or four batches, mixing well after each addition.

Cook for about 10 more minutes, stirring often. Add the lime; taste and adjust the salt. Apparently this is best if you let it sit for a while before you eat it, but let’s be real, that’s not going to happen.

I served this with some basmati rice, a simple yogurt sauce (see below), and some chopped mango, and it was god damn delicious.

Spiced Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)

Combine and serve!

Both of these recipes were adapted from Veganomicon.

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Vegetable Jalfrezi (Curry)

c/o Jamie Oliver, this recipe yields a boatload of DELICIOUS curry that seems to taste better and better each time you reheat the (many!) leftovers from the freezer.

ingredients

• 1 medium onion
• 1 fresh red chili
• a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
• 2 cloves of garlic
• a small bunch of fresh coriander
• 2 red peppers
• 1 cauliflower
• 3 ripe tomatoes
• 1 small butternut squash
• 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
• peanut or vegetable oil
• a pat of butter
• ½ a 283g jar of Patak’s jalfrezi curry paste or my jalfrezi paste (see below)
• 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
• 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 lemons
• 200g natural yoghurt

method

The great thing about this curry is the slightly sweet and sour flavor from the peppers. Do experiment with other combinations of vegetables such as courgettes, aubergines or potatoes once you’ve mastered this version – bigger, chunkier veggies need longer cooking times, so add them at the start, and delicate veggies like peas and spinach need only minutes, so they can go in right at the end. This will serve 8 people – just halve the recipe if your pan isn’t large enough, or else freeze any leftovers.

To prepare your curry:
1. Peel, halve and roughly chop your onion. Finely slice the chilli. Peel and finely slice the ginger and garlic. Pick the coriander leaves and finely chop the stalks. Halve, deseed and roughly chop the peppers. Break the green leaves off the cauliflower and discard. Break the cauliflower into florets and roughly chop the stem. Quarter the tomatoes. Carefully halve the butternut squash, then scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Slice the squash into inch-size wedges, leaving the peel on but removing any thick skin, then roughly chop into smaller pieces. Drain the chickpeas.

To cook your curry:
2. Put a large casserole-type pan on a medium to high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil and the butter.
3. Add the onions, chilli, ginger, garlic and coriander stalks and cook for 10 minutes, until softened and golden. Add the peppers, butternut squash, drained chickpeas and jalfrezi curry paste. Stir well to coat everything with the paste. Add the cauliflower, the fresh and tinned tomatoes and the vinegar. Fill 1 tin with water, pour into the pan and stir again.
4. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on.
5. Check the curry after 30 minutes and, if it still looks a bit wet after this time, leave the lid off for the rest of the remaining 15 minutes. When the veg are tender, taste and add salt and pepper – please season carefully – and a squeeze of lemon juice

To serve your curry:
6. Delicious with poppadums or my Light and fluffy rice recipe, and with a few spoonfuls of natural yoghurt, a sprinkle of coriander leaves and a few lemon wedges for squeezing over.

To make your own jalfrezi curry paste:
2 cloves of garlic a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons groundnut oil
2 tablespoons tomato purée
1 fresh green chili a small bunch of fresh coriander

1. First peel the garlic and ginger.
2. Put a frying pan on a medium to high heat and add the spices for toasting to the dry pan. Lightly toast them for a few minutes until golden brown and smelling delicious, then remove the pan from the heat.
3. Add the toasted spices to a pestle and mortar and grind until fine, or put them into a food processor and whiz to a powder. Either way, when you’ve ground them whiz the toasted spices in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients until you have a smooth paste.

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Crostini with olive paste, ricotta, and marjoram

I’m so excited that people have been joining (and posting such delicious things to) this blog! Here is my first contribution, as requested by my already-dearly-missed friend Erin. It is what I am cheerfully assembling in the picture below.

Image

Ingredients:

baguette
ricotta
pepper
olive oil
marjoram (fresh or dried)
1 recipe olive paste (see below)

Olive paste:

1 cup pitted olives (any kind; I used kalamata)
1/4 cup capers, rinsed
2 small garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
pepper
fresh lemon juice

Put the olives, capers, garlic and thyme (if using dried) in a food processor and blend. Add olive oil, blend some more. Season with pepper and add lemon juice (to taste, I used maybe around the juice of a quarter of a lemon) and thyme (if using fresh).

To make crostini: slice the baguette and toast the pieces. Spread a layer of olive paste and a layer of ricotta on each crostini in proportions that suit your tastes (I prefer a thicker layer of olive paste and a thinner one of ricotta, but your mileage may vary). Season with black pepper and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Broil briefly to warm the cheese,  sprinkle the crostini with marjoram (I used dried because that’s what I had available, but fresh would probably be much nicer), and serve warm.

This recipe is taken from Deborah Madison’s fabulous Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

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