Monday, March 31, 2014

MY VEGAN VERSION OF HUMMUS BIL “LAHME” (Hummus with Spicy “Meat” & Nut Mixture)

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This is a dish that I brought to a casual dinner the other night.  It's a hearty variation on plain ol' hummus, of Jordanian and Palestinian origin-- one that I've been planning to "veganize" for a while now.  I've been researching this dish for some time.  I have a sneaking suspicion that everyone's mother in that part of the globe has a different recipe for it!  Some versions use ground meat (from lots to just a little), and some use cubes. Some decorate the dish with whole chickpeas and some don't.  Yogurt or labeneh (yogurt cheese) may oor may not be dolloped on top.  Some versions are hot-spicy and some not.  (The other spices vary as well.) Some versions are served with crispy pita on the side, and others call for pieces of the pita to be the first layer of the dish, covered just before serving by the hummus and other ingredients. I even read one recipe that called for soaked pita bread pieces to be stirred into the hummus.

So, you see, you have a great deal of latitude with this delicious dish!  Here's my version, and, I must say, it was good!

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BRYANNA’S VERSION OF VEGAN HUMMUS BIL “LAHME” (Hummus with Spicy “Meat” and Nut Mixture)
Serves 8 to 10 as an appetizer (serve at room temperature, if possible)

Hummus (a recipe using 3 cups of chickpeas—I used 1 1/2 times our favourite version, see recipe here)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon vegan butter
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
12 ounces vegan hamburger crumbles (Tofurky now has an organic product)
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or pine nuts)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon (or more to taste) of red chile flakes
salt and freshly-ground pepper
about 3/4 cup cooked or canned chickpeas (rinsed and well-drained)
chopped fresh parsley, chives or green onions (green ends only)
smoked paprika (hot or sweet)
about 1 cup tangy vegan yogurtOR Vegan Labaneh (Vegan “Yogurt Cheese”) OR Cashew “Sour Cream” or “Yogurt”
Serve with: pita bread (we like whole wheat)— preferably crisped in the oven a bit.

Spread the freshly-made hummus on a serving platter and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in a 10 to 12-nch non-stick, cast iron or hard-anodized skillet.  Add the onion and sauté over medium-high heat until it softens.  Add the garlic and sauté for a minute.  Add the hamburger crumbles, almonds and spices. Sauté for several minutes. Taste for salt and pepper.

Distribute the burger mixture over the hummus, but leaving an edge of hummus all around the platter.  If you choose to use the yogurt, drop spoonfuls of it over the burger mixture.  Sprinkle the cooked chickpeas over the plate.  Garnish with the chopped fresh parsley, chives or green onions, and the optional smoked paprika, if you’re using it.

Serve with the crisped pita bread as an appetizer or part of a buffet.

Nutrition (per serving): 294.5 calories; 34% calories from fat; 11.8g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 526.9mg sodium; 360.1mg potassium; 31.8g carbohydrates; 9.8g fiber; 2.8g sugar; 22.0g net carbs; 18.9g protein.


Saturday, March 22, 2014


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Since I've been limping around  with what appears to be "water-on-the-knee" I haven't exactly been cooking up a storm.  It's getting better, but I'm nervous about "2 steps forward, 1 step back", so I'm being careful.
I made two simple dishes on Monday, to have on hand for lunches and snacks.  The soup is an old favorite, which I'm going to reproduce below, but the salad was a new one.  I had purchased some frozen green garbanzo beans from Costco-- something new to me-- and decided to devise a nice hearty grain and veggie salad utilizing them. ( I had previously used them in place of frozen lima beans in my lowfat guacamole recipes and they worked well in that.)  The salad  was delicious and I'll definitely be making it again.

Costco carries this brand:
Whole Foods carries this brand:

Servings: 8

This easy and tasty salad makes a full meal for a light lunch or supper.

Salad Ingredients:
1 cup farro (or use spelt or wheat kernels, which need to be soaked overnight and cooked for about an hour)-- read about farro here   
2 cups frozen green garbanzo beans (OR shelled edamame/green soybeans) (see above)      
2 cups fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels    
2 cups halved red grape tomatoes or diced fresh red tomatoes       
1 cup chopped red onions      
1 cup sliced celery     
1 cup dry-roasted (unsalted) peanuts (you could substitute roasted pumpkin seeds)      
Spicy Vinaigrette:    
2/3 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for Salad Dressing
1/3 cup olive oil        
1/3 cup red wine vinegar       
1 tablespoon fresh (or bottled organic) lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar  
1/2 teaspoon salt        
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano   
1/2 teaspoon (or more to taste) Sriracha hot sauce  
crisp lettuce leaves, olives and chopped fresh parsley or cilantro   
To cook the farro, place in a medium pot with 3 cups of water and a few pinches of salt. Bring to a boil and quickly turn down to low heat. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until done to your taste, but not mushy. Immediately drain thoroughly and then spread on a baking sheet and place in the freezer or refrigerator to cool it off while you prepare the other ingredients.
Make the Spicy Vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients well and setting aside.
Combine all of the salad ingredients, including the cooked, drained and cooled-down farro. Shake or whisk the dressing again and pour over the salad. Mix well and chill until ready to serve. (This can be served at room temperature or cold.)

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
292.3 calories; 47% calories from fat; 19.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 169.7mg sodium; 348.8mg potassium; 40.1g carbohydrates; 7.7g fiber; 4.0g sugar; 32.4g net carbs; 8.6g protein.

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Servings: 6

1 cup dried brown/green lentils        
8 cups tasty vegan broth (I like Better Than Bouillon No-Chicken Vegan Broth Base)   
1 large onion, thinly sliced    
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon crushed garlic  
1 teaspoon dried oregano      
1 teaspoon ground dried coriander   
2 cups broken egg-free flat noodles, such as tagliatelle, fettuccine or linguine     
4 cups chopped greens, such as spinach, chard or kale (I was out of these this time and used chopped broccolette instead) 
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste           
lemon wedges to squeeze into the soup

Bring the lentils and broth to a boil together in a large pot, turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, sauté the onions in the olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium- high heat until they soften, adding squirts of water as needed to keep from sticking. (Alternatively, you can cook the onions in the olive oil in a microwave-safe bowl or casserole, covered for about 5 minutes on 100% power.) Add the garlic and sauté a minute more (or microwave for 30 seconds). Add to the pot (you don't have to wait until the 30 minutes are over) with the basil and coriander.

After the 30 minutes are up, add the noodles and simmer for another 10 minutes or so, or until the noodles are cooked. Add the greens and cook briefly, just until they are cooked to your taste. Taste for salt and pepper.

Serve with lemon wedges and squeeze a little lemon juice into each serving before eating.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
248.9 calories; 10% calories from fat; 3.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 977.3mg sodium; 462.8mg potassium; 44.3g carbohydrates; 11.1g fiber; 4.2g sugar; 33.2g net carbs; 14.7g protein.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014


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I like combining traditional ingredients (Southern USA, in this case) in untraditional ways.  This combo makes a delicious, fiber-and-nutrient-rich, colorful salad, which can serve as a hearty side dish or a meal in itself. It's a wonderful hot-weather dish, of course, but it's also hearty enough for a winter salad and utilizes staples you might have in your kitchen during cold-weather months. The zingy dressing is practically fat-free, too.

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Serves 6

3 cups cooked or canned blackeyed peas, drained
1 lb. orange sweet potato, cooked until firm-tender, peeled, and cubed
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
6 large red radishes, cleaned and sliced
1 cup diced celery
3  green onions, chopped
1/2 cup aquafaba or Oil Substitute for Salad Dressing
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1 tablespoon vegan mayonnaise (homemade or commercial)
1 tablespoon coarse-grained mustard
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt     
Whisk, blend or shake all of the Dressing ingredients together.  Mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the dressing (you may not need it all, but add more than you think you need because it soaks up some of the dressing) and stir well. Refrigerate for several hours and serve with crisp mixed greens.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per serving):
304.0 calories; 22% calories from fat; 7.7g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 327.1mg sodium; 715.0mg potassium; 51.6g carbohydrates; 10.6g fiber; 10.6g sugar; 9.6g protein, 5.9 points.


Sunday, March 2, 2014


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Farfalle (bowtie) pasta and rapini with Italian Walnut Sauce
I don't know why I haven't shared this sauce before- it's so luscious, creamy and so easy and quick to make.  It is a specialty of the region of Italy where my paternal grandmother's family originated-- Liguria, a north-western Italian province that includes the Italian Riviera and the city of Genoa. Evidently, its origins are ancient. According to one of my uncles, my grandmother's family (who emigrated to Peru in the 1800's) came from the towns of Chiavari, Rapallo and Moneglia. I don't know much else about them, unfortunately.  All I know is that her maiden name was Roncagliolo and her mother's was Guerrini.

I love the description in Laura Schenone's wonderful book about Ligurian food, "The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken: A Search for Food and Family".  (It's not just a cookbook-- it's a wonderful read!) The author writes:
"The story begins at Genoa's port, with its ancient layers, its grittiness, its eye towards the Mediterranean Sea.  here we cross paths with Greek, ancient Roman and Arab worlds during much earlier eras of globalization.  Olives, wine, and wheat traveled along these water routes. Migrations began and ended...But the story also begins in the mountains, with ancient Ligurian people who were here thousands of years agom allied not with the water but with wood and stone. It's a story of steepness and difficulty, of chestnuts and mushrooms and gathered greens..."

This recipe, though lightened up (no olive oil or pine nuts) and made vegan, I think retains the character of the original.  It is delicious served over ravioli stuffed with greens, or a simple dish of cooked linguine or tagliatelle.  This time I used farfalle (bowtie pasta) and added chopped cooked rapini (broccoli rabe), which adds a nice slightly bitter note to contrast with the creamy nut sauce, and reminds me of my fore-mothers gathering wild greens in the hills beyond Genoa. I hope you enjoy it!

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(GF and can be soy-free)
Servings: 4
Yield: 2 cups sauce

This is enough sauce for about 12 oz. pasta, plus 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cooked, well-drained vegetables. It's a modern, lighter version of a very ancient Ligurian sauce to serve on pasta or stuffed pasta (pansotti, or "potbellied" ravioli). Very simple to make! This is a slightly updated version of the recipe in my vegan Italian cookbook "Nonna's Italian Kitchen".
NOTE: Traditionally, no pepper is used in this sauce.

3/4 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups plant-based milk
1 tsp vegan chicken-style broth powder or paste
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1/4 tsp freshly-ground nutmeg
2 Tbs vegan Parmesan substitute (Earth Island/Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan-Style Cheese Alternative, Go Veggie! Vegan Soy Free Parmesan Grated Topping, walnut-based Parma!,  or homemade alternative of choice
salt to taste (about 1/2 tsp.) 
OPTIONAL: 1 or 2 tsp. chopped fresh basil or marjoram
TO SERVE: More of the same vegan Parmesan sub of your preference to sprinkle on top of the pasta

Heat an 8" cast iron skillet, or other heavy skillet, over high heat. Add the walnuts and reduce the heat to medium. Toast the walnuts, stirring frequently and watching them constantly, until they turn color a shade and smell toasty. Remove them from the pan.

Combine the milk, broth powder or paste, garlic, and walnuts in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a heavy 1 qt. or 1.5 qt saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and keep at a low boil until it has reduced somewhat and thickened to a sauce consistency. Remove from the heat and add the nutmeg,  optional herbs, if using and the Parmesan alternative.

Taste for salt (pepper is not traditional in this sauce). Heat gently before serving with cooked, drained pasta (see text above), alone or with cooked vegetables, such as chopped cooked rapini (broccoli rabe).

 Nutrition Facts (for the sauce only) 
Nutrition (per serving): 212.6 calories; 65% calories from fat; 16.3g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 240.6mg sodium; 224.8mg potassium; 9.0g carbohydrates; 2.5g fiber; 2.8g sugar; 6.5g net carbs; 8.2g protein.